When God Grants Wishes

•February 29, 2012 • 10 Comments
dandelion nature sunlight

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11:11 is the time to make wishes, so when 11:11 comes, wishes she makes. Twice a day if she’s lucky. But only if she catches it by accident. If you stare and watch the clock turn, it doesn’t count. Old OCD number associations die hard and this is just one that stayed. Trying hard not to wish for herself but for those she loves or hates. Never a bad wish. A wish for forgiveness, transformation, love, understanding or health. On 11/11, even better to catch Wish Time. Do the wishes double? Or does some cosmic explosion happen, setting off a time lapsed practical joke? One push and the wheel sets in motion.

I can’t even begin to count how many times I “wished” to be sober. As if it was something magical that might “happen” to me, instead of an action I could responsibly take. I remember driving to the gym on 11/11/08. I was waiting for it to turn to 11:11am (rule breaker). For some reason I can’t recall, my boss had let me go early. So I considered this an 11/11 Wish Holiday. As the digital clock in my dashboard struck the magical minute I screamed at the top of my lungs, “GOD? I WISH TO BE SOBBBBBBBBEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRR.” I was clutching the steering wheel and filling the air in my car with a voice I hadn’t heard in so long. Maybe never. Said with Conviction of course. Conviction. It was freshly rained in the world around me. The buildings looked clean. Purified. Puffy white clouds seemed to be hanging out in the sunlight to dry themselves and chat about the weather.

I don’t remember if I drank that night. But I am 99.9% sure that I did. I drank nearly every night. Each morning I would wake up, slightly hungover, gather myself together, shake off the disgust and show up for work. No matter what. I worked my butt off. I am a hard worker and a good girl. Honest. I put shopping carts away and quarters in hungry meters. Yet I have…secrets. Dead rats that lay in the background of all sunny days. Ghosts that demand to be seen and heard. Busying myself with work and a job well done keeps my mind occupied and earns me praise. I have done something right. But I can’t let it in. If they only knew.

And then, after leaving work the mood shifts. Where do I buy my wine tonight? Do I get a “good” bottle? (Meaning, more than $5.00.) Or do I get some Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s? Yeah, it had gotten that low. Like drinking sour dish water from last night’s dinner party. I talked myself into buying the cheapest wine possible so I could save money. Plus, it wasn’t like I drank it for the taste. So why bother? Or was it because I didn’t value myself enough to buy something I actually enjoyed. Did I ever enjoy it? I doubt it. Self medication only feels good the first few times, then it transforms into something loathsome that must be done just to reach zero again.

It went on like this every day, every night. Wake up, go to work, go home, get drunk, pass out. Wake up, feel guilty, numb it out with work and exercise and enjoy it all over again. I had shaved down the possibility of getting into trouble by now. No going out. No leaving the house. No drunk dialing or emailing. Just work out to the point of exhaustion at the gym, then go home, lock door, drink wine and blot it all out. Hanging out in the Dungeon, chillin’ with my imaginary friends.

On the outside, I do have friends, at least the ones I haven’t left in the dust yet. I’m a runner. Run for your life! A life of boxes and new addresses. I wear a mask of Pollyanna, open doors for strangers, volunteer, make people laugh and eat healthy. Yet nobody knows me like my secret selves. We drink our same wine. We eat our safe food. We wait for the night to be over and watch the days as they whiz by. Lifeless. Sometimes when there is a sliver of light, we dance alone in the night. Fantasizing about being somebody else. Make a wish.

After glass one I would crave a smoke. Like drinking the shittiest wine I could find, I also bought the most disgusting tasting cigarettes. I guess they are all sickening, but these tasted specifically like dirty socks. My logic was that the worse they tasted, the less I would smoke. Sitting on my balcony, I would wait until dark and blend in to the shadows. I watched below as neighbors would come and go, having lives. Hiding, I stayed completely silent. Nobody’s home.

By glass two or three I would usually go out to suck another dirty sock. I talked to God out there. Please God, I wish to be sober. I talked to the trees. Marveled at the moon. I huddled up in a slicker and let it rain on me, or sat half naked in the hundred degree summer nights. It was my time. Although warped, this was my sweet spot. For a brief moment or two, I would feel what I suspected was happiness, somewhere far off in the distance. But then as the wine I drank way too fast would settle into my being, off the cliff I go. Nobody’s home. Jump.

Sometimes I would wake up on the couch or carpet with the TV blaring and all the lights on. Once I awoke on the kitchen linoleum floor. It was 3am and there was a frozen dinner, cooked and self-frozen again, shellacked in the microwave. Hmmm. I guess I never made it to dinner. My plump tabby faithfully cuddled next to me.  She looked at me as if to say, “Mommy? Are you okay? Can we go to bed now?” I wanted to believe she was oblivious. But what a fool. She knew more secrets about me than I did.

Once, I awoke and found someone had come and kicked in my screen door to the balcony. Those bastards! The entire screen, which looked like the Hulk had crumbled it in his hand, was laying sideways, dead along the balcony railing like a strangled victim. These types of discoveries were such a normal part of life that I just shrugged and figured I would deal with it later. The massive bruises and scrapes on my person told me I was that person who flung through the screen. Probably on my way to suck on socks. Oops. I left a message for the manager. Telling him that somehow the heavy winds must have blown my screen straight out of it’s frame. More like a tornado, she spins.

So imagine my “surprise” when I awoke one morning to find I was not at home. BANG BANG BANG. Someone was making a terrible noise. What IS that? And can you please stop? I hear a TV blaring and wonder if I am at home after all. But the floor is cold. What on earth? I’m being moved from the “drunk tank” into a holding cell. They are banging on the walls to wake me up. I blink feverishly, confused. Is this a dream? Where’s kitty? Buuuuuzzzzzzzzzzzz goes the metal door.

I realize with sickening irony and a dash of curious enlightenment that I am in jail. Yet again. My head feels like it’s been in the dryer with old shoes. Thump. Thump. Thump. I stare up at the fluorescent lights that are stabbing my eyes.I smile at the ceiling.

Hello, God. Is this what it took to make my wish come true?

Kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

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A Beautiful Suicide Sunday

•August 4, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s a lovely Sunday morning. I’m PMS’ed, pissy, lack energy, wobbly and feel like my legs are going to buckle out from under me, unmotivated, uninspired, cranky, sluggish and frankly annoyed.  This is good news. I’m having feelings.

The subject of suicide has come up on Facebook.  And it’s just fascinating and gross to watch how society recoils at the mention of it. Suicide.  Those posts are obviously akin to a societal leper.  Nobody wants to touch them. There’s only a select few of us who have either been affected by suicide with family and friends, or who have thought about, attempted it, wanted it ourselves.

My body feels like shit. I feel like one giant slug.  The muscle spasms are back.  All I want to do is lay down and sleep, yet I sleep…and I still feel exhausted.  I feel like a fat blob. I know, fat is not a feeling. But it is. It’s a common “fallback feeling” I use when what I really feel is muted or misunderstood.

I’m in a slump physically and emotionally.  And no amount of lying or faking smiles is going to make it go away.  At least, not for me…

I find it disgusting when people say things like, “The narrative doesn’t fit the photos” or “Well, she looks good, so she must be doing well!“  Seriously, what the fuck? Are we done?  Do we really, really (really?) still believe that today?  Do we need to look at all the suicides, hundreds happening per day and how probably 95% of them were guilty of smiling?

So, it’s become clear to me today in a weird way, that there are different rooms of suicide.  Different Rooms inside the dungeon of depression.  We are the rooms and we can occupy more than one.  There are the ones who actually ask for help, who don’t get it…and then feel like they have no other choice.  There are those of us who never say a word…  Not even to ourselves that we want to die. And we just disappear one day and leave all the shrapnel, pain and horror to those we left behind.  Then there are those of us who are alive long enough to remember the days when we tried to kill ourselves, or fantasized about it.  Does it ever go away?

My answer is fully, “No.”

It never goes away.  Just like alcoholism, just like eating disorders, just like suicidal depression…  At least for me, this person writing, all of the accomplishments, all of the awards, all of the straight A’s, all of the friends, all of the jobs, all of the success, all of the prettiness, all of the attention or good in the world that I’ve been able to do…  None of it matters.  None of it.  At least not to me, when I am deep in the rooms of the dungeon.

The dungeon is the place I go when I feel like I want to die.  I’ve been writing about it for a long time, so it’s time to bring it to light. I know that I might scare some people in my life.  And I know I might set off some alarm bells.  And I have to be brave and not care, because I can no longer be afraid of what you think of me. In fact, I hate you. You…  Who will only look and see the smiling pictures of me.  I hate you for looking away when there is pain in my eyes.  I hate you for ignoring me during the times that I’m obviously struggling…and only paying attention to me once I’ve come out for air with a lipstick smile.  Fuck you.  That’s what I have to say.

So does this mean I’m gonna kill myself?  No!  But, why not?

I have seen the horror that it leaves behind for those of us who love you.  I have seen the questioning, the bitterness, and the anger that comes up in your wake after you’re gone.  I have seen the denial, the jokes, the looking away that happens when something is just too painful to fathom or make sense of.  Even worse, is when no sense whatsoever can be made of it at all.

Who are we then?  The ones who stay behind and survive?  The ones who happen to make it long enough to grab the flimsy reed and keep breathing despite perpetually living underwater?  The only thing that keeps me alive most days, is knowing how much it would kill you.

Knowing that it wouldn’t make any sense.  Knowing that you would be torn apart. Knowing that you would question everything you know and understand to be true. Knowing that your gut and your heart would be ripped out forever.  That’s what keeps me alive when I am in the darkest rooms of the dungeon.  I know I have the key, I know that someday I can walk up the stairs, I know that I can open that door and walk out into the light.  But it’s not always the choice that I want or can make.  Until it’s time. Otherwise all I am doing is acting for you.

Why do I stay alive? Is it to accomplish more, to earn more, to get better grades, to get prettier?  No.  It’s to keep you from having to suffer the loss.

So the next time you see an ad, article, post or a blurb on the news…  “Another suicide…” Which one will get to you?  Which one will you actually stop and hear?  Take into your heart and soul?  Which one will require that you listen beyond ears?  And which one will dare you to be brave enough to face the sadness, the pain, the loss, and the unanswered questions?

Suicide isn’t going anywhere.  In fact, it’s growing. It’s touching the lives of those who thought they’d never see such a thing.  And it tickles the throat of those of us that want to be able to talk about it.  But our lips are sealed.  There’s a fear, that even to utter its name…  That we might infect ourselves and each other with it.  So instead, we choose to ignore the monster who is doing pushups in the closets of the dungeon.

I’m choosing to stand up.  I’m choosing to be wobbly and unsure, yet to hang on.  I’m choosing to look at it, eyes open, heart braced for the impact of the uncomfortable glances that will avert away from me.  For the heads that will turn to look in the other direction until the storm has passed.  For the rugs that will be lifted and the crud that will blindly be swept under.  I have to brace for impact of the silence.  The chirps. And that little moment where the rest of the world is waiting for me to be funny again.

Fuck you.  I still love you.  I just want you to know I know.  I see your fear.

I can be funny, I can smile, I can laugh…  But I will still always be suicidal.  And the only thing that keeps me here sometimes, is you.  So, wake up. And keep going.  All of us.  No matter what.  Wake up!  Please be brave.  While you’re at it, let the good secrets out, too.

I’ll be down here, in the living room…the in-between place, where I’ve learned I am capable of being exactly myself, but still able to reach those on the outside and those who are still deep within.

Kissing,

The Cockroach™

 

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach™ All rights reserved.

If you found me…

•July 31, 2018 • Leave a Comment

…I’ve probably been hiding under a cardboard box, waiting for all of the lights to go out so I could run to me next hiding place.

If you found me…some of these might interest you:

When God Grants Wishes

The Broken Seal

[ b.o.x.e.d ]

Dear Tomorrow…

The Deepest Wound

Soul Popsicles

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach™ All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Surviving A Christmas Break-In

•January 14, 2018 • 2 Comments

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
–Cynthia Occelli

A quick glance at my internet searches over the last few weeks and it tells a story all its own, from oldest to most recent:

  • Phantom smells?
  • Smelling gasoline when there is none
  • Brain fog after Radio Frequency Ablation?
  • Would nerve ablation cause phantom smells?
  • Can a cold turn into the flu?
  • Can the flu cause depersonalization?
  • Depersonalization vs Dissociation
  • Shaking left hand and blurred vision
  • Debilitating brain fog and tremors
  • Accepting trauma related depersonalization

And Last: Coming back from a flu with PTSD

Trauma is sneaky sometimes. When you have a multi-layered past and a tendency towards self-blame to begin with…a simple “illness” can be disastrous on the psyche of a person who is still climbing out of the quicksand that is complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Even for a yoga, breathing and mindfulness teacher who lives to help others through this very same conundrum…it can be frighteningly easy to slip over the edge and suddenly forget your most basic survival, self-care and resiliency skills.

Having grown up in a personal world of fear, guilt, shame and blame…simmered on the stove with people pleasing, anxiety and shattered self esteem…it is easy for me to make these types of ridiculous assumptions, if I am not careful:

If the weather is bad, it is my fault.
If the weather is good, it is a fluke.

If someone is unhappy, it is my fault.
If someone is happy, it must be an accident.
If my body gets hurt, it is my fault.
If my body feels good, it won’t last.

See the set up? This is a sure-fire works-every-single-time recipe for a breakdown in the command center of my person.

I’ll explain:

This December I had lots and lots of plans to pour myself into my work with first responders, including a 3-day peer support training and 5 consecutive days at a police academy training. My husband was sick, my co-workers were sick, my students were sick, the chatty checkout guy at Trader Joes was sick…and yet, I still felt like I could control the inevitable.

After managing to stave it off with rest, diet and hiding in the house…it hit me…HARD…I got the crud.

Within a few days, a seemingly innocent cold turned into a torrential flu, leaving me couch-bound for over two weeks. Not only did I miss the last day of peer support, but I missed the whole training at the academy. I canceled classes and private sessions and all therapy and doctors appointments. To me, in this vulnerable state…this translated as failure.

Logically, I knew I was only sick…and there wasn’t anything I could “do” but get better. But it swallowed me whole…and it took captive of my body, my common sense and my ability to think or feel.

No exaggeration – I had a breakdown.

A few days in I started to feel remote and disconnected from my body. I often use the term “fluffy” to describe this state to my therapist. It is as if my brain is encased in cotton, and though I can see my limbs and hear sounds…I am separated from my senses all at once. The world becomes a bunch of marbles tumbling around in a dryer. This disconnection from myself sets off a cacophony of panic and fear. Depersonalization. Dissociation. I am not in this world.

I have finally lost my mind. I knew life was too good to be true. I am broken.

I feel very lucky. I have studied trauma and I teach about trauma. I have been through decades of therapy. A part of me knew that this sudden tug-of-war between personalities was not real. But my body…my body felt invaded.

My body was no longer mine. The battle was on.

I started a mental inventory. What is wrong with me? Have I gone off the deep end? Have I finally lost it? I can’t think clearly. I can’t even read my email. Nothing tastes right. Nothing is making any sense. I smell gasoline where there is none! I can’t see myself. I am terrified. What if this never ends…

What if – I am having a breakdown?

I begin a quick Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) trick to test my thoughts.

Thought: Am I having a breakdown? Action: What is happening right now to make me think this?

I am sick as hell. I missed my trainings. I had to cancel my classes. I feel out of sorts. I can’t think and I feel underwater. I am numb. I feel lost.  I feel no hope. I am terrified this will never end…

Thought: Am I having a breakdown? Action: Is this thought true? What is the evidence?

Yes. It sure as hell feels true! I am having trouble thinking. My hands are shaking. I can’t make sense out of anything. My eyes are blurry. I’m having a panic attack. I don’t feel like I can even carry on a conversation. My texts messages seem to be popping out of a 3-dimmensional view finder. This is scary. I am going crazy. I belong in a padded cell. I have not felt this bad in a long, long time. I am afraid.

Thought: Am I having a breakdown? Action: What if the opposite were true? What is the evidence?

It’s December 2017. I am here. I am alive.  The worst is over. This is just a set back. I’m just sick. It’s not my fault. I am successful and have a loving marriage. I love my family and friends. I love my students and I’ll celebrate 8 years without a drink this Christmas…

I thought about what the past few months have entailed. I had plenty of evidence to support why I *might* be feeling a bit out of sorts. It all made sense. So why was I so mad at myself for not feeling well?

Why? Why is it that when the weather is bad, I feel it is my fault?
Why? Why is it that when the weather is good, I assume it’s a fluke?
What if a red fish is just a red fish…and I am just sick?

Self – Listen! The story your mind is telling you right now is no longer true. 

Oh. My body and mind are telling me stories that are no longer true. 

Ding. Trauma and Resilience. This was it. The moment in time where I had to DECIDE to be resilient.

I quickly assumed the seat of the teacher: What is my challenge? How can I help myself? What would I tell a student or friend going through this? What are the lessons here? What can I learn? I literally had to ask myself – What would Ti tell me to do if she were here?

From A Break Down to a Break In

I turned towards my desk, spying some of my notes around me – “Keep Going!” “Break…Then OPEN.” “Let the good secrets out, too.” “Follow Directions, Look for Signs.” “Left foot, right foot. Breathe.”

I did the very first thing I normally do any time I feel disconnected, overwhelmed or unable to breathe…I got on the floor and started talking to myself.

Out loud, a message to my brain and body: “Brain, body. Thank you. You guys are so on it! Thank you so much for being so alert and for trying to protect me. I have good news. You’re just sick. It isn’t anything bad that you’ve done. Everyone gets sick, Ti. Listen to your body and rest. If you can’t think clearly…no biggie…I promise it will pass.”

Then—I got into Action and wrote down the following instructions to myself:

Step 1: Breathe – Breathe In, Breathe Out, then repeat.
Step 2: Find a touchstone in the present – Where are my feet right now? What day is it?
Step 3: Come to Your Senses – Can I find 5 colors? 5 sounds?
Step 4: Basic self-care – Eat, Rest and Hydrate.
Step 5: Use your words – Tell someone…even if it sounds crazy. Reach out. WRITE.
Step 6: Accept that you feel this way, then Forgive yourself…you’ve done nothing wrong or bad.
Step 7: Laugh. Pull out that trusty dark ass sense of humor that has saved you countless times before.
Step 8: Embrace Transience – Know that everything in life is temporary
Step 9: LOOK for evidence…could this be old stuff?
Step 10: Trust. You are not going crazy after all, and this will pass.
Step 11: Talk to your body and brain:
Tell your body, it is safe now.
Tell your brain, is it safe now.
Tell the inside you, the little you, you are safe now.
Tell the inside you, the adult you, you are safe now.
Tell the inside you, the future you, you are safe now.

Trauma. Wow. It is real. Say hello to the imprinted reptilian patterns coming out of the fibers of your being…not to haunt you…not to kill you…but to protect you. Say “Thank you.” Then give those pieces and parts of you a new job description…give them permission to breathe and step back.

This your Yoga. This is it. This is what you teach. Move through it with your breath. Trust the process. Remember, you are breathing. All is going to be okay. You are safe…

Is it easy? No. Not at all! But it is easy, too. The simple things are the hardest to remember when we are lost, overwhelmed and not feeling like ourselves. Be kind and gentle this year if you, too, find yourself underwater, under the weather or outside yourself for any reason. Remind yourself to breathe and start again.

And with that, you have now seen how a very scary, earth shattering “breakdown” could transform, just like that, into a “Break In.”

Reader…if you remember nothing else from this missive, remember that you are not as alone as it feels…and that it won’t last forever.

For the action minded, remember this mantra, and say it out loud:

I am breathing in, 
I’m breathing out,
All is well in this moment…

So what do I do next time the entire world crashes and I succumb to the crud?

Read this post, of course. Breathe, and start again. It really is that simple.

Keep kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

Can’t Kill Me

•January 13, 2018 • 6 Comments

I’m back. Crawling out from under the crumpled cardboard boxes.

Kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2018 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.imadeit

Please don’t touch me

•January 11, 2018 • 6 Comments

Now I know why mimes put their hands in front of them, suggesting a glass box surrounding their bodies. They may be concerned with breaking the glass and getting out of that box. But I am concerned with building mine piece by piece.

In a mime’s silence, screams are heard. Makeup accentuates the facial expressions that need no words. Articulate, exaggerated movements suggest the story behind their absent speech.

Something about clowns makes them super scary. They don’t speak either. But they mock loudly. Mimic. Threaten. Bully.

I can put on a great act. Dressed like a flamenco dancer, red lips, glittered eyes and a big purple flower in my hair…my chest lifts. Chin follows. The mascara is doing it’s job…making my eyes bold, piercing, focused. There is no evidence of fear.

Thick black heeled shoes stomp sharply into the wood below. Making music on their own, pounding out the statements of a woman’s smiling fury. A symphony in line with the beat of my heart. Proud. Tall. Strong. I will kick your face in.

How will I find my voice when I need it most? When the room is silent, and the walls have closed in?

I put my hands in front of me. Guarding the space. I close my eyes. Leaving the body. I’m vacillating in and out of consciousness.

Where have I gone?

My EMDR therapist has me mimic these gestures in slow motion. Expressive hands say more than worried lips and therefore must be used to make new stories until the sound of a voice can be heard.

She made me keep my eyes open in our last session. It was almost impossible. But I could feel the point. When my eyes close, I tumble backwards, into a different land of darkness and hushed voices. It feels as though someone has tied 20 pound dumbbells to my eyelashes. Go away. Come here. Down here. Stay present. Be here. No, no, back here. Don’t look. Be quiet.

What am I trying not to remember?

I’m stomping out the notes on the hardwood of my mind. Telling a strong choreographed story. But it’s the little girl who suddenly finds her feet have shrunken and the clothes of the dancer are too big. She shuffles across the floor, looking for her vanilla lip gloss.

What am I doing here?

She looks down at her hands and studies ten fingers. Veins. Knuckles. Skin. Are these the same hands I have had all along? I sometimes can’t grasp that these feet, these hands, are the same ones I’ve had forever. No more running but she’ll dance to her grave.

“Push into me” says the floor, says the wall, says the girl, says the teacher.

Let go.

It’s okay to say no.

How is that so?

Stream
of
a
cockroach’s
consciousness,
**kiss**

Copyright © 2012 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

Under Construction

•January 11, 2018 • 12 Comments

My soul was knocking
at the door of my mouth
asking me to seek
SPEAK

Mouth stayed shut
so the lump grew
a thick tangled mess
CONFESS

Words bubbled up
but were locked
in their chains
REFRAIN

She fastens her cape
and picks the lock
jumps into the stream
SCREAM

Unchartered waters
Unacknowledged rage
Uncried eyes
RISE

Who knew
that the little one
was smarter than me
SEE

Holding hands
in the darkness
she leads me
BREATHE

Mysterious angels
whisper, giggle
a second chance
DANCE

Who knew
that the little one
could finally be
FREE

She’s me.

Kissing,

The Cockroach

Copyright © 2012 Kissing The Cockroach All Rights Reserved.

“Paint a Turd”

•May 10, 2012 • 14 Comments

A while ago my EMDR therapist gave me an assignment to “paint something hideous.” I was more terrified at that notion than if she had said “go memorize every muscle and bone in the human body and recite them backwards while hanging upside down from your pinky toe.”

What the hell?

I can’t explain it. Okay yes I can. I lied. I am a perfectionist. My inner critic hates everything I do, even if it admits later, that something came out alright. I am a nun, shaking her ruler, glaring and WHAP goes the ruler across the hand. YOU SUCK. So then how is it that paint comes out of my hands and out of the brush and onto the canvas and doesn’t look like the worst thing I have ever seen? Usually, because I am copying some other person’s work! Copying a photo. Beep beep. Robot artist.

But “paint something hideous.” Now that is impossible. That assignment has appeared, at least 7 or 8 times on my daily “to do” list. It keeps getting circled as undone. Scooted off the page of today. And the person rewriting it on the next day’s page is hiding a devilish grin, knowing, that this assignment won’t survive. No hope at being scratched out today. Better add it on to tomorrow. And the next day. And in June.

When I saw my EMDR therapist on Monday, and announced I had not yet painted something hideous, she handed me a pen and paper and said, “Here, draw something ugly. As ugly as you’d like.”

I just sat there. Mouth on floor. “I can’t” the snotty little bitch voice in me said.

Then I cheated. I drew something that had “appeared” mysteriously on my bathroom window. Something I am 99.99999999% sure I did not draw, but it was there, and no other ghost will cop to it. That is a subject, and a photo, for another post.

She crumpled up the paper and said “use your right hand.” At which point I drew big round eyeballs in the dark. The whites of them peeking upwards and slightly stage left. The eyes were under ground, blanketed in darkness. Yet open. Above ground was the sun. The eyes, shyly looking up at it.

ET says, “So, is that maybe someone who is in the dark, yet has the knowing, that the sun is out there?”

Man I hate therapists sometimes.

I left feeling agitated. The next night, I had dinner with a good friend of mine who invariably has me laughing even at the worst of times. And he gave me a new assignment.

“Paint a turd.”

A what?

“A turd. A big heaping pile of shit. Paint that.”

My face lit up. Oh my god! I WILL paint a turd! A hairy, moldy, steamy and disgusting plop of shit. I told him thank you. And now, that I felt I had “an assignment.” A direction. Something, yet nothing, to paint. A turd, I can do. Something “abstract” and from the heart, NOT. “Allowing my soul to speak through my brush?” NOT. Use the colors of my imagination? NOT. Let go, let God? NOT.

But a turd? That is something concretely hideous. Requiring no special blending skills. No deep knowledge of history of painting poo. No specific details. The sky is the limit! That I can do. Because that will make me laugh. And there is NO way to make a turd beautiful. Or is there? I don’t know. But the good news is, it doesn’t matter. I can’t “polish a turd.” Right?

That’s my next assignment. I promise to post. I want to share my hideous turd with you.

Thanks for being here,

The Cockroach

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