Scenes: Happy Loud

I stand on the porch pouring water onto thirsty flowers that have been ignored most of the summer. A light breeze rustles the leaves on the trees, and the birds and squirrels chatter back and forth in a soothing symphony.

 

Suddenly a scream pierces the silence like a pin in a balloon.

 

I stand deflated on the steps, my heart beating through my chest.

 

The birds and squirrels scatter in fear.

 

Then I hear it again, a blood curdling shriek that could peel paint.

 

I look up making uncomfortable eye contact with my neighbor who has a worried expression. I smile awkwardly, “Oh, boys ya know,” and I immediately rush inside.

 

I soon realize the screams weren’t out of anger, pain or frustration – just joy.

 

They were happy screams.

 

Loud 2

 

Smiling with relief I rush to the boys commending them for getting along, and in the same breath I begin shushing them.

 

“Guys seriously, you are so loud our neighbors can hear,” I lament.

 

“But we are just having fun mama,” replied the boys heartbroken that I’ve shushed their fun.

 

My heart skips a beat and I reassure them that having fun is great, but we need to do so quietly.

 

Wait minute.

 

Do they REALLY need to be all that quiet?

 

No one is sleeping, working, studying or trying to watch PTI.

 

So does the noise really matter?

 

I never grew up with boys. In fact, I didn’t have any siblings in my house so playtime was VERY quiet. But now my house is filled to the brim with boys, and it’s LOUD.

 

Little Red especially has no concept of “the whisper” and he has a scream that will literally make your ears ring.

 

I never noticed how loud they actually were until people helpfully pointed it out to me. They would say things like “oh your boys have lots of energy,” which is code for “your boys are freaking loud, shut them up. Please and thank you.”

 

My embarrassment at their loudness grew and grew, just like my apologies. “I’m so sorry, they are so loud,” I say even before anyone mentions their lack of volume control.

 

I soon started to question my parenting skills.

 

Am I a bad parent because my boys are loud?

 

Why can’t they just be quiet?

 

Why am I failing at being the perfect mom?

 

Well, isn’t that truly it…we want our children to be perfect and fit into perfect little boxes and supposedly perfect children are quiet. Well, I guess that might be true if you are Stepford child. They didn’t talk much, and their robot voices weren’t loud enough to peel paint.

 

But I’m not perfect and neither are my boys.

 

We are messy, crazy and freaking loud.

 

Loud 4

Sometimes quiet can be boring.

 

Sometimes when you are happy you just want to scream it from the rooftops.

 

I want my boys to feel the freedom from laughing loudly and screaming for joy.

 

Soon enough they will grow up and be forced into silence by teachers, bosses and society as a whole. So, I’m going to give them the time and space to be loud. To shout their joy and happiness from the rooftops, perhaps that’s what this world needs – more happy loud.

 

So, on that day when my boys looked at me with pouty lips and sad eyes at being shushed for the 100th time, I told them, “As long as you are safe and happy you can be as loud as you want,” and with that the screams and giggles commenced while I grabbed a pair of ear plugs and joined in the fun.

 

Loud 6

The next time you walk by our house, just cover your ears, because it’s going to get Happy Loud up in here.

My Perspective: Battling the Monster of Mental Illness

My Perspective Mental Illness

 

If you are new here, you might not be aware that I’m a crazy person.

 

Like literally certifiable crazy.

 

I’ve written about my Borderline Personality Disorder and about BigE’s struggles with his own demons. We’ve been working through it all together. Our family and friends try to understand, but for those who don’t suffer from mental illness it’s hard to comprehend.

 

I can’t count how many times people just say “snap out of it” or “Just laugh a little you need a better sense of humor.”

 

Laughter is not the cure, empathy is.

 

To those of you that have no idea how Robin Williams could end his life, or why your wife is curled in the fetal position crying for what appears to be no reason or why the person who seems to have it all together is crumbling inside here’s what mental illness feels like.

 

You jump into a pool.

 

Each time you try to swim toward the surface a hand grabs your ankle and pulls you back down. You can see people on the edge of the pool laughing, smiling, waving at you to come up for air, but each time you try you are pulled back down again. Eventually after so much struggling you give up, you sit on the bottom of the pool watching as life floats by. Unable to join in the fun, and unable to reach up to the light you always see. You are trapped in darkness and soon the light at the top of the pool become fainter and fainter. Your lungs, deprived of oxygen, begin to fill with water, and soon you are consumed. Not one person reached down to pull you up, not one person jumped in with you. You were all alone, and suffering in the darkness.

 

Mental Illness

 

For those of us with mental illness that’s how we feel EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

 

So often those at the edge of the pool become frustrated or angry because you “just aren’t yourself today”.

 

Umm, yeah no shit.

 

I’m not myself everyday it’s just that today I’ve let my guard down. Today, the world feels like it’s closing in on me and I feel like I’m suffocating and the only way to relieve the pain is to end it…end it all.

 

You want your wife, daughter, mother back, but the person you know is just a farce. There’s so much more and you aren’t ready to face it, and those of us suffering live in shame. We have disappointed you yet again because we let Pandora open the box and all the shit came streaming out. Even though it may be once in a great while when the shit storm hits, it decimates everything in its path.

 

In and effort to squelch the storm we pop pills and see therapists, but the reality is mental illness is never cured.

 

It’s wrangled like a beast in a cage. It lurks under the surface always ready to escape. Those of us with brains in overdrive, we see life differently and experiences are magnified exponentially. There are days when we can’t stop the beast from emerging and on those days we need YOU – the spouse, brother, sister, mother, father and friend. We NEED you to reach out to us and hold our hand.

 

Reassure us that the monster inside is only a small part of who we are that we are so much more than our illness. This monster will not take us and we will not live in fear and worry. Tell us that you will help us slay this monster, and that no matter what happens you will always love us.

 

I can tell you this as I battled my own monster. I have attempted suicide 5 times in my life the earliest being in High School, I’ve had my stomach pumped 3 times, my wrists bandaged twice. I’ve popped countless pills and visited a plethora of therapists. If my mom is reading this, her heart is breaking right now. I know she wondered what she could have done differently.

 

The reality is sometimes holding us tightly may not be enough. The monster has already consumed us.

 

Ending it all is not a selfish decision. I always get angry when people say that. It’s a strong and albeit weirdly brave decision to step off that cliff and let the monster consume you. In a way it’s like you are making a sacrifice, all the pain and guilt you’ve held in forever, and the wake of pain you’ve caused others disappears in that one moment you make the final decision to fall.

 

I’ve been there and I know.

 

It’s a physical pain that unless you’ve experienced it, you will have no concept of its engulfing power, and its ability to lure you to the depths of sadness and lock you there forever.

 

You feel your only escape is the end.

 

That’s why we need an army.

 

Those of us with mental illness need our family and friends to stand with us on the battlefield. Even if you don’t understand it or “get it” please just hold our hand and stand by us as we fight this fight. We are strong, but sometimes the monster is stronger and it takes many warriors to wage a war. Even on the days when we appear to have it all together the fight still wages on and we still need you. Together we will defeat the monster of mental illness, so that no one needs to wage this battle alone.

 

The monster can’t take another victim.

 

Mental Illness 2

Scenes: My View from Family Vacation

I gaze tiredly out the window of the truck as we cruise down the road toward home. It’s been a long week and a long day. Seven hours in a car with two boys can make two parents go a little bonkers.

 

My mom had warned me, “I hate to tell you this, but family vacations really aren’t for moms, it’s just a different view.”

 

On our first morning at the lake we woke with the sun. Pale pinks and blues intertwine eventually bringing forth the sun’s golden hue. The lake held the sky’s reflection like a giant mirror. My eyelids fluttered as I gained my bearings. I was no longer home. The piles of laundry begging to be folded were absent, no cat rested on my legs purring and there was no noise except his breath and mine.

 

My View 2

 

The window to my new world was bigger, broader and more beautiful. I immerse myself in its tranquility. This is new, there’s no noise or interruptions, no To Do list haunting my thoughts. I exhale and squeeze my eyes tightly shut in an effort imbed this peaceful vision in my head forever.

 

When I open my eyes a little redhead is staring right back at me, and again my view has been transformed.

 

**
They have been spending hours together, two cousins whose first meeting was a gazillion Christmas’ ago when neither knew how to count or spell. This time it was different and I watched as they played game after game together. He taught her how to play Stratego and Top Trumps, and they eventually found a common ground in hooks and worms on fishing poles.I witnessed a friendship grow and bloom in handful of a few short days.

 

My View 3

 

**
It was his first time, standing on the pier he held up his catch of the day. A broad smile plastered across his face. He caught it with daddy, a father son moment that could only be made on the edge of a pier near a lake where we’ve never been. He didn’t want to touch the fish “it’s too slimy,” he said, but he did anyway with his dad’s encouragement. I watched them for hours sitting there side by side, fishing poles in there hands patiently waiting for the next bite.

 

My View 1

 

**
There are two Hemlock Lakes in Michigan one within a 50 mile radius of the other. Our house was at the wrong one. We wanted the one where my husband fished with his father, and where he chased turtles along the shore. He wanted to share those memories with our sons, so we drove the 50 miles to see the view. We waded in water my husband waded in when he was my eldest son’s age. We chased minnows and visited beaches and shared memories of days gone by and a cabin that had been replaced with weeds and wild strawberries. In one space I saw the past and present collide.

 

My View 4

**
No trip to the lake would be complete without a boat ride. There were no motors or large yachts only a canoe and two oars. We set off. I barely moved an inch for fear of rocking the boat. My oar felt like a foreign object, and I held it awkwardly in my hand. It had been years since I rowed a boat, how does it work again? He took over for me, guided me and patiently showed me how to row. In moments we were a synchronized team…

 

Dip, pull, release.

 

Dip, pull, release.

 

We talked a bit about life and how things never seem to stay the same no matter how much you want them to. Then we were silent, listening to the snapping of twigs in the brush, the splashing of fish and the water as it lapped the side of the canoe.

 

It was time to head back cabin.

 

It was time to pack up the new life of the past four days and leave this view behind.

 

It was time to go back to the home we knew and loved.

 

The scenery whirred past my window, and I smiled because my mom was right the view was different and it was beautiful.

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