The In-between Girl

As far back as I can remember I have felt out of place. I’ve felt like I didn’t belong. Like I was one kind of girl, living in a world where it was best to be the other kind of girl. It wasn’t until grad school, and my introduction to the term Imposter Syndrome, that I had some sense of what I had been feeling for so long. Where I come from, people don’t go to grad school. Where I come from, people don’t go to college, some don’t even earn a high school diploma. They opt instead, for their GED at 16 years old or at 40, whenever the need arises for them to get a pay raise at their hourly job. Their hourly job is at the warehouse where they load the UPS trucks at four am, or down at the Walmart, where a HS diploma can mean the difference between $9/hr and $9.50/hr. So you can imagine my surprise, when sitting in a giant auditorium at UNC Charlotte—feeling completely out of place and wondering why the English department let me into their program—when those big, bold letters came across the screen: Imposter Syndrome. My jaw dropped. Me, a small-town Kansas girl who should have just put her head down and taken a job as a receptionist at a doctor’s office or as a cashier at a grocery store, was actually realizing a dream that, to some, seemed ridiculous. Reading those words and finally understanding what I had been feeling my whole life, well it was a surprise, but it was also a new sort of freedom, albeit one that didn’t last very long.

I finished grad school, if you are wondering, and I got by okay. It became clear to other people, pretty quickly, that I should be there. Classmates, professors, my family. But it was never clear to me. I struggled with not fitting in the whole time I was there. I was too old to hang out with the other students, I was too young to feel a camaraderie with the instructors. I was too shy to get involved with organizations, I was too direct to be good at sparking conversation. I showed up to things I wasn’t expected to, and missed events they had planned for me to attend. I didn’t feel like I was in the right concentration, so I switched my major in my second year, where I felt even more out of place than before. The list goes on. And now here I am, a woman from a history of blue-collar workers, explaining why art is important to a family who doesn’t “get me,” while my back is to a world of intellectuals, fellow artists and writers, a new and economically advantaged group of friends who have no idea what government cheese tastes like, and I am feeling out of place, again. I’m stuck in-between these two worlds, and sometimes I don’t think I belong to either.

I’m not unique, then again I’m not claiming to be. There is a whole host of people like me. People who’ve left the Section 8 houses. People who looked into the mirror and decided this life is not for them. People who have scraped their way into college or trade school. People who have taken $100 and turned it into a million dollars. And there they are, feeling like they don’t belong. The weight of their own history pulling them down. I’m not complaining either, even though it might seem that way. I know I did what was right for me. And I know that my family back home is proud of me. They may not get what I do, or what I write, or how I see the world, but I know they are proud that I did what I set out to do. I’m not a cautionary tale, like some of the others, rather an example to follow. And I constantly carry that on my back, as I reach behind and pull up the next generation who are looking for a way out.

But in the moment, in the day to day, I never know how I will feel. I never know how out of place I look toting a $50 bottle of wine to an event I have been invited to because I know someone, who knows someone, who is hosting a writers group that focuses on art as a form of healing. But I feel it. I never know how people will take me when I go back home, run into an old friend at CVS, give them a hug, ask how they have been, with a stupid, genuine grin, as I listen to the happenings of my old hometown. I always wonder if they see me as an outsider. Because I feel like one.

I wish this was a teachable moment of some kind. I like teachable moments, but it isn’t. This is just me, admitting the way I feel a lot of the time. Maybe this will resonate with some of you, maybe not. But if I can, let me just say this: People worry a lot. People feel like they don’t fit in. People feel like outsiders. If you are one of the confident ones, bring those people into your fold. Ask them to participate. Give them a shot. They may never feel like they belong, but at least they won’t feel like they don’t.

M.

Burger King Hysterectomy

I’ve been in a major slump this week. Like major. This time of year always gets to me because this is the time of year I lost my daughter. If you want to get up to speed on that you can read this: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/08/20/august/ or this: http://mudseasonreview.com/author/melissa-goodnight/ and you should be all caught up. But the other day when I was explaining to my husband how I’ve been feeling this week, I used the phrase “profound sadness” and I meant it. I meant it, but I am not sure it explains exactly how I feel, but it is probably pretty close. I started to wonder why this year was hitting me that much harder than other years and, I think, quite simply, that there is something else I haven’t properly dealt with that needs some attention, my decision to have a hysterectomy last year.

Now listen, I won’t go into the nuts and bolts of it. Some of you really don’t care to know all that, but if you do just ask me, I will tell you EVERYTHING, cause I’m that kinda person. But I will say that because of some issues I was having, I was a candidate for a hysterectomy. Not a “Full Hysterectomy,” just a partial, so I elected to have it done. So last May I had my uterus and Fallopian tubes removed. They left my ovaries so I wasn’t a 36-year-old going into menopause (thank you so much for that, doc) but the rest they took out and threw away in a trash can behind the Burger King. Well, maybe not. But in my mind that’s what happened.

My Burger King uterus was a Mess with a capital M, but it had served me well through two pregnancies, so it was a little bit sad. Now, have I enjoyed not having a period since then? Uh yes, absolutely. It’s a new kind of freedom that I haven’t had since I was 12 years old, and I highly recommend the procedure if any of you are considering it. Highly. Recommend. (And if you are in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend you doing it at Novant! I had THE BEST experience there!) But I digress.

The hysterectomy came as a surprise to a lot of people, because for the four years leading up to my decision, Jerimiah and I had been trying to have another baby. We struggled with infertility after we lost Lydia in 2011, and we came to be diagnosed with “Unexplained Secondary Infertility”. In fact, if you go back in this blog, like way back, you will see that my first ever post was the night before I was headed in to have a “procedure” done to start the fertility process. I did have it done. And a couple more procedures. In fact, we got to the point where we had to either go all in, like $50,000 all in, or back off and hope for a miracle. Jerimiah and I both decided at that moment that we would rather spend $50,000 on the adoption process than on trying to get pregnant, so we went with the “trying for a miracle” and well, the miracle never came.

Meanwhile, I was more and more bogged down with all the aforementioned “issues” each month, until I was finally so fed up, fed up with the issues, fed up with my body rebelling against me, fed up with the constant depression every month when I was not pregnant, that I said enough is enough and decided to make a final decision. And boy is it a final decision. In fact, I didn’t realize how final it really is, and now I’m dealing with all these feelings, for the first time, because over the last year I sort of just shoved them down. Hmpf. Way to go, Missy.

I mean, I knew what a hysterectomy was going into it. I had to sign so many papers that my hand cramped. Yes, I get it, I get it, I said to my doctor. No more babies for me. And yes, I did get it. But what I didn’t think about was all the feelings I would have after I could not have any more babies. I know I am not making myself clear here, partly because I am working it out for the first time myself (there will probably be a series of “Burger King Hysterectomy” coming at y’all) and partly because it’s a weird thing to write about, but I will get better.

What I mean to say is that I sometimes want another baby. Bleh. That is hard to admit. But I certainly didn’t want to try to do it the way we were doing it. And I certainly know it isn’t possible anymore, and I am almost certain that I don’t ACTUALLY want another baby. Like, I like this life that I have. I love that we have one. That we can take off and go whenever we want. That we get to travel and experience things, and that we have one kick-ass kid already. But sometimes, when I am already sad, I start to miss Lydia, then I start to think I sold myself short. Myself, my husband, my son. Even though, let me say, everyone was behind my decision, myself included. Gah. It must be the hormones. Maybe I can get someone down at the ‘ol BK to take out my ovaries too?

Well, I’m rambling now. I will keep thinking on this topic, you guys think on it too, and maybe we can come up with a conclusion? And no, not just a Missy is nuts conclusion. We already know this, that is taking the easy way out. Try harder, you guys. I am counting on you.

M.

August

August always catches me by surprise. It’s a busy month. It’s my husband’s birthday month. Then some last-minute fun before back-to-school. Then back-to-school, which always comes with some sort of challenge. New school, not the teacher we wanted, refusal to change underwear on the first day, you know, normal boy stuff. Then once we get into the swing of things, I finally feel a routine coming back. I have time to write again, I have time to breath again, then BAM! It hits me. This profound sadness. And it’s always around the middle of the month. And it always confuses me, like what the actual hell Missy?! Why are you sad, so much is going well right now. Then, at three am, during a night I’ve been unable to fall asleep, it hits me. It’s August again.

August 2011, was the worst month of my life. I remember back to my husband’s 29th birthday. Back to the weeks that followed. Back to the test results and the nights in the hospital. I start to remember my daughter. I start to subconsciously say her name. I talk more about her without even realizing. Jackson starts to ask questions, play what-ifs. Mommy, do you think Lydia would like cars like I do? I assure him that she would. I assure him that being her big brother he would have been able to teach her all about cars, and trucks, and technology. They would have been able to play soccer and basketball together. He could have taught her how to swim, and cheered her on at her swim meets. They could have secrets and inside jokes, certainly be each other’s best friend. He smiles, tells me that he doesn’t mind being an only child, but that sometimes it would be nice to have her around.

I lose sight of all the good I have in my life during the month of August. I have more bad days than good ones. And every year I wait for these feelings not to come. I hope they won’t. I push them back down, thinking certainly this year it won’t hurt so much. Certainly this year I will get a break from these emotions. But I’m wrong. They come back. And even though I am surprised when they come, and upset with myself, I am learning how to show myself a little more grace. To not beat myself up for having a bad day here or there. It’s just work. I’m always working on it.

Grieving takes time, I know this. And here I am at year eight, and I am waiting for a time for the grieving to stop. And what scares me, what really gets to me, is the idea that it may never stop. That this is my life now. That every August this profound sadness will creep up into my chest. And I will cough and cough trying to rid myself of it, but I won’t be able to. It will just be something I will have to live with. Forever. I think that is what makes me the most sad now. I think I have properly dealt with the feelings of loss. The actual pain that losing my baby caused me. But I think too, that this feeling of lingering sadness will never be dealt with. Will never go away.

That’s a dramatic, albeit true thought that I live with. That it isn’t the loss of my daughter that I will eventually succumb to, rather the grief that surfaces every, single, year. Month. Week. Day. The grief that won’t allow me to breathe. The grief that won’t allow me to move on. If there is anything to move on to.

I have nothing new to say today. Just to love those who you love. Love those who need love. Love those you know, those you don’t. Spread the love and light out in the world today. For people like me, who can’t muster it. For people like Lydia who will never feel it. For people who will never feel whole again. Because it does make a difference.

M.

Grouchy About TP

Why are there ads and commercials for toilet paper? Which adults out there do not have a favorite toilet paper? Why do people need convincing on this topic? Are there people who are still, I dunno in their thirties, and flipping between toilet paper brands? Is it the damn millienials? I can say that now, because apparently I am an Xennial (somewhere between a Gen X-er and a millennial) so I can blame them for things now. Those damn millennials!

As a grown-ass thirty-something adult, I know which brand of toilet paper I like, and I am not changing. I am not looking for coupons. I am not looking for sales or deals or BuY tHiS nOw ads! I am looking for comfort and plush 2-ply, and I have found it, and I don’t want to see bears wiping their asses anymore. Why Charmin? People are already buying you. Why bears wiping their asses?

And stop trying to come up with inventive ways to use toilet paper. Listen, it is for one thing and one thing only. It’s like how Q-tip prints all the ways you can use Q-tips on the back of their packaging. You can use it to clean your keyboard?! Really? Really, Q-tip? Yeah, I know the medical community came out and said, “Don’t stick things in your ears!” but something tells me they meant penis. Like, don’t stick penis in your ear. You know?

I’m sorry you guys.

It’s 7:30 am and I am already off the damn rails.

Maybe I should go back to bed.

Maybe I should roll out my bulk, two-ply and lay on top of it. Cover myself in it like a sleeping bag. Like a cozy, plush, sleeping bag. Until my husband comes home and finds me, takes one look at me, and mumbles something about buying Charmin.

M.

Dig, Dig, Climax

Last week I walked to my therapy appointment. If you’re keeping up you know I’ve been walking anywhere that is less than two miles or so from my house, because why not? Why not indeed. Anyway, the first words I said to, ohh, let’s call her Eleanor, the first thing I said to Eleanor was, I stink. She laughed and said I didn’t stink, then I explained the walking thing and she was all, good for you, blah, blah, walking is like meditating, blah. That’s not the important bit, but every good story has a lead-up. I’m building a slow climax here, like I do in the bedroom, when I, you know, watch two episodes of Bob’s Burgers before the finale of Broad City.

So there I am, forty-five minutes into my appointment and she’s all, Missy, why did you react that way? And I’m all, Eugene, or, wait, Elle, Eleanor? Eleanor! Eleanor, listen I don’t know, but I want to know. So then Eleanor said something so profound that I can’t stop thinking about it. She said, Missy, a lot of the time when we are upset about something, particularly when it concerns our children, it’s sort of that inner child calling to us. She then told me to always take a step back from my feelings and try to remember what my life was like when I was my son’s age. What was I going through at ten years old? It was sort of an aha moment for me, maybe it’s not for you, but this isn’t your climax. May I suggest the Broad City finale?

Anyway, she also instructed me to ask myself why I allow myself to feel this way. She wanted me to dig deeper. Then I felt stupid, because isn’t that always the answer? Dig deeper. When writing a story you have to dive in, go below the surface. When you’re trying to figure out why someone’s flippant comment made you lose sleep, why them, why you, what did it all mean, just try to dig deeper. When you’ve lost an M&M in the couch cushions and you jam your sticky fingers down, way down where all the crumbs live, and you think you can’t go any further, you gotta dig deeper. Seriously. You will regret melted M&M in between your couch cushions. Trust.

So I dunno, I guess therapy is working. Maybe that is my point here. Or maybe I am really still upset about that one M&M, either way, try to dig deeper in your lives and go forth in prosperity today. I’ll let Ellen know you send your love.

M.

It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere

It’s 5 o’clock here, in Georgia. Five a.m. to be exact. So I’m not sipping a gin and tonic on the beach. I’m in my warm, cozy bed and I’m awake and staring, once again, at the light coming from the cracks in the curtains. I do this from time to time when I’m stressed and anxious and feeling the weight of all the problems of the world on my shoulders.

Stress manifests itself in bizarre ways with me. First there is the “I can’t sleeps”, then comes the bad dreams. Eventually I wake up with a clenched jaw, clenched gut, and more recently clenched fists. The first time this happened I thought I was developing arthritis. I’d wake up at 3:00 am and my hands would ache. It would hurt at the joints, just to move them. Then one day it was my elbow. Then one day it was my knee.

A couple months later it happened again. Then again. And I started to see the trend. That’s when I realized the ways stress manifests itself into physical pains in my body.

Listen, I’m not too bright. It took me a long time to realize that stress does this. Sure people told me. Doctors told me, therapists told me, that 84-year-old woman at the Kroger check-out told me, but I didn’t listen. The stomach issues, the joint pain, the migraines and cluster headaches, the weight gain, I chalked it all up to other things. But in reality I know what it is. I just don’t know how to stop it. And that stresses me out. It’s cyclic. Duh.

So here I am. In my bed, my husband snoring peacefully along next to me, and I’m thinking about all the things I need to do. All the people I’m probably disappointing, all the ups and downs that will be my next few days, and have been my last few. And I’m warming up my hands for a new day to tackle the tasks.

Don’t get me wrong. Not all days are like this. Not all days, or weeks, or months are spent waking up at odd hours and worrying, but when they are like this, I’m glad I have an outlet to let things float out into the ether. It makes me feel less alone. Because sometimes I need reminded that I am not alone. Maybe you do too.

❤️

M.

Give it to Oprah

I already have a topic on deck to discuss with my therapist this week. Is that weird? Probably so, but she has the potential to really help me with one of the two problems plaguing me right now: Trusting my intuition versus listening to my anxiety. My other problem has to do with eating too much pizza last night, and I’m positive she can’t help me with that one, but, eh, it’s worth a shot to ask.

Y’all know I suffer from a myriad of mental health conditions. I have chronic depression, generalized anxiety, a touch of OCD, and probably some personality disorder that has yet to be identified but makes it easy for me to both cry and scream in public bathrooms, then blog about it. That has to have a name. But the important thing about all of this is that I am getting help. I have been on medication for years, and I see a therapist, and a practice mindful breathing, and I write, and I order llama-shaped cookie cutters from Amazon. Which is to say that I have my ways of dealing with things. But sometimes, sometimes, my anxiety reaches a peak and I start to spiral out of control, and that’s what happened this week.

My son is going to the Midwest to spend some time with his grandmas over the next 10 days or so and I am freaking out, y’all, like Karen at a damn taping of the Oprah show in December, freaking out. Losing my mind. Unlike Karen, I am losing my mind from intrusive thoughts brought on by a flare up of anxiety. Not because I just found a ticket under my seat for an all-inclusive trip to the island that P. Diddy owns or keys to my own Chrysler Minivan. Fuck you, Karen.

I’m freaking out because he will not be with me. Plain and simple. I am freaking out because I will not know what he is eating, how he is sleeping, how much tv he will be watching. I will not be there to assess how much fun he is having at any particular outing, to remind him to change his underwear, to take his glasses off before he falls asleep. I will not be there ensure that he is doing what he wants to do, not what someone is making him do. I will not be there to control how people talk, or react, or approach him. He will meet people I do not know and so therefore do not trust. He will be with people I do know and therefore do not trust. What if someone is mean to him? What if he wonders off at the waterpark and he drowns? What is the car he is riding in is hit head-on by a semi-truck? What if this is the week the big one hits Kansas and he is swept away in a tornado? What if he can’t sleep because I am not in the next room? What if he is ignored all week? What if he has a horrible time and never wants to go back? What if he has a great time and realizes he doesn’t need me anymore?

If this all seems really dramatic, it’s because it is. This is anxiety, y’all. Welcome to it.

So last night I was tossing and turning in bed waiting for 6:00 am, when he would pile into my best friend’s car (she has been visiting and is heading back home today so he hitched a ride to his Mama’s house with her) I was thinking about all the bad things that could happen. All the fears I have started to bubble up and I started to worry. What if this is my body’s way of telling me that he shouldn’t go, I thought. What if my intuition is wrestling my anxiety, but I am brushing it all off as anxiety? I actually, for real, 100% Googled How to Tell if it is Anxiety or Intuition. I found a bunch of articles, but none of them helped. I had to talk myself off my own ledge that I created and just trust that all these people, and all these places, and all these moments (like when he threw up in my best friend’s car about two hours into the trip) are not signs that something bad will happen, rather they are ways for him to learn, and grow, and become an independent person in his own right. Even as I type this I am rolling my eyes. He’s 10 years old for crying out loud!

Christ Missy, get it together.

Okay. I do have some ways to combat this. You don’t live this way for this long without picking up a few tricks. I’ve been busy all morning. I’ve been working, and cleaning, and Googling whether or not your therapist charges per “topic” or just “hourly”, but still, there in the back of my mind is all the things. And all the things can really take it out of me. It can take it out of anyone. If I were a religious person this would probably be the time I “give it to God” or whatever. So maybe I will try that. Maybe today I will just “give it to pizza” or “Give it to Oprah” (that sounds dirty) and just see what happens.

Hope you are all coping today too.

M.

Grief

I’m in my bed at half past midnight thinking about grief. I’m not just thinking about grief, I’m trying to somehow quantify it. I’m comparing my grief to other’s. I’m trying, in the strictest sense, to make myself feel bad for grieving. To make myself believe that my grief is silly. My grief doesn’t count. I know this does more harm than good. I know grieving is a process. A journey. With steep mountains and robust valleys. I know you take a couple steps, then you stumble. I know you can stand there, on the side of that mountain for a long time. I know you can wonder, and wish, and hope for an answer. For something to keep you from walking over the edge. I know that grief makes you do crazy things and think crazy thoughts. I know grief can wreck you from the bottom up. From the inside out. But here I am, standing on that mountain, wondering what it would feel like to take the step off. I’ll fall back to sleep soon. I’ll fall back to sleep, then tomorrow I will be okay. Sometimes it’s just the darkness that gets to me. I’m learning. I’m coping. I hope you are okay, friends. I’m wishing you reprieve from the darkness. Your grief is real.

Give yourself time.

Give yourself grace.

Tomorrow is a new day.

M.

Backstreet’s Back, Alright!

When I moved to Atlanta in April I decided to go back to regular therapy. Therapy and I go way back, like the epic battle between Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, we’ve had our beef. The first time I remember going to a therapist I was sixteen. I had been pretty sad and started to skip school in lieu of sleeping all day. My mom was nervous so she took me to a therapist. As I was waiting in the reception area I was reading over a pamphlet that asked: Do You Suffer from Depression? It was a quick little quiz that promised to diagnose a mental health problem if you answered five questions: Are you tired a lot? Do you feel hopeless? Do you have trouble concentrating? Are you irritable or annoyed? Do you suffer from low self-esteem? Looking back now I would say this was just a list of normal teenager behavior, but when I looked at that list I was like, Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! And for the first time ever I had a name to go with how I felt. And it made me feel worse.

The therapist ended up being a real whack-job, and she kept trying to get me to admit to being sexually assaulted or beaten as a child. so I went a couple more times and then quit. Then in my early twenties I went again to a therapist a couple of times, then quit. Then at 27 I had my first child and fell into the biggest bout of depression I had ever experienced. Postpartum Depression is a real fucking horror, y’all. It is nothing to sneeze at. At that time I didn’t have the stamina or the willingness to go to a therapist, but my primary care physician put me on anti-depressants after my six-week postpartum check-up because she could see that I was struggling, and that is when my life changed.

There was always a stigma with pills in my family. I would overhear my mom talk to people about how she was sad or irritable or couldn’t sleep, but pills were never the answer. You just had to pull up your bootstraps and keep on keeping on. But honestly, if my doctor had not recognized what I was going through when I was going through it, things might have ended differently for my baby or for me. I had a total loss of control during those early days. Not to mention a colicky baby and a husband who was just as green as I was. It was touch and go for awhile, but the pills helped me so much, that only six weeks into my antidepressants (which was Wellbutrin, and they are totally kick-ass), I decided that if I had to take a pill everyday for the rest of my life to feel better, I would. And I do. Well, now I take two, and this is only after ten years of trial and error.

Look it, I’ve been on Wellbutrin (awesome-sauce, but it made my blood pressure skyrocket), Prozac (the magic pill for more reasons than one, but it gave me horrible migraines after three years), Buspar (this is an anti-psychotic that they paired with Prozac to help with anxiety after I lost my daughter and now it’s on all my charts as a no-go because it made me suicidal), Celexa (good stuff, but plummeted my libido), Zoloft (made me feel no emotions, like zero emotion, all the time, weird stuff), Lexapro (Celexa’s sister, but the one I am currently on because I finally decided I could deal with the libido and the inability to lose weight like a normal fucking person as long as I have a pill that makes me not sad about those two things very often) there has to be some give and take. Then there are the other pills.

The first time I took a Xanax was the night I was released from the hospital after giving birth to my dead daughter. Yeah, that sounds harsh. Because it was fucking harsh. I was given a prescription for Xanax before I left the hospital and my husband drove to Target to get it filled before we went home just in case, even though I told him there is no way in hell I’d be taking that kind of pill. Stigma, remember? Well, I took that kind of pill (which happens to be a pill in the benzodiazepine class. It also happens to be highly addictive and is a way that a many of lonely housewives made it through the 70s, apparently, Valium is in that class) and I was able to sleep that first night. For a few hours anyway. Until I woke up screaming that I was a baby-murderer and had to take another one. That was eight years ago and I still, to this day, keep a bottle of Xanax next to my bed. I am on the lowest dose possible, and I routinely break it in half. I am prescribed 30 of them to last me for three months and I have never run out of them. Why? Because at this point they are more of a crutch than anything else. Just knowing I have them when a panic attack threatens is good enough for me. But things are changing now.

This new town, new me has me thinking differently. For the first time in two years I am with a therapist on the reg. She is a licensed therapist, so she can’t prescribe drugs, but I still wanted to take the burden off of my PCP, so my therapist told that I could use her offices’ Mental Health Nurse Practitioner for all my mental health medication needs. It was interesting, and a little weird at first, but after our first visit I felt confident that she gets it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my PCP, but she doesn’t specialize in mental health. I mean, when I have lady-garden issues, I go to a lady-garden doctor. When I have tooth pain, I see the dentist. So it makes sense that I would go to a mental health professional for my medication now too. And she is nice, but she is aggressive.

The first thing she did was take me off Xanax. Now remember, I have been on this pill (as needed) for eight years. I was a little nervous, but talk about being on a pill with a stigma. In fact, one of the first things I said to my new pill-lady was, See, see that face you made when I said I take Xanax, I’m tired of that face. There is a stigma attached to this pill and I don’t like it. She smiled and apologized for the face. She gets it though, and then she explained the stigma. It’s a highly addictive pill, with a big street value. I know all this of course. I know it first hand. I have a very close friend who was addicted to them a few years back and I watched her life unravel at an alarming rate. She finally got real help, but at a major cost to her life and to her family. So I get it. I do. But when something works, it is hard to turn your back on it.

Long story short (What do you mean, Missy? You always tell a long-ass story, we know this about you!) Well thanks, but let me get to the point here. Long story short, she put me on a new pill. Not a new anti-depressant (just yet), but a new benzodiazepine. And this new one is old, really old. Maybe you have heard of it, it’s called Klonopin. I had heard of it. In fact, I had heard bad things about it, I guess the sorts of things people hear about Xanax, but this one is supposed to be longer lasting so you don’t have to take as much, meaning it has a lower risk of addiction. Okay, I went with it. Next month we are changing my other pill. Apparently there are new fancy ones with less side effects. I’m game. I always trust the professionals.

So here we are. I came home and started to read all about Klonopin, then got myself so upset by what I was reading that I had to take a damn Klonopin, y’all. I wish I were joking. But, it turned out to be okay. It sort of cleared my mind, a feeling I haven’t had in awhile. And it made me talkative and happy. It made me relax and appreciate the good stuff all around. I might be able to get used to this. Maybe just maybe.

I’m telling you all this today because I have learned over the last few years that the only way to break down a stigma is to talk about it. An open and honest discourse about uncomfortable topics has never let me down. We see very little progress when we keep closed off. When we let other people dictate how we should feel, or act, or get help when we need it. We see very little progress when we feed into those antiquated ideas of what is right and what is good. Because the bottom line is, what is good for me may not be good for you. But we shouldn’t be judging each other when we are just trying to figure it all out.

As always take care of yourself and others.

M.

Broken Record

It’s difficult for me to ask for help when I need it. This is something I am just figuring out about myself well into my thirties. It’s not the only thing I am figuring out well into my thirties, but I suspect prioritizing Adele songs in order of their meaningfulness to my own life isn’t the “ah-ha” moment Oprah wanted for me. It’s difficult for me to ask for help and it is difficult for me to reach out to other people when I am sad, or lonely, or overwhelmed. There, that is out there in the world now, I feel better.

Yesterday I was sad. Christ, Missy we know, tell us something new. I know it seems like I am a broken record, like I’m all, Hey you guys! I’m sad today, boohoo what shall I do? But in all truth the sad days are less and less now, partly because it is summertime and partly because I have a new medication. But yesterday my husband left for a work trip, again, and I realized that I’m not missing him when he goes anymore. Let me back up. I always miss him when he is away, what I mean to say is that there was a time when we were always together, and we had a toddler, and life was chaotic, and the thought of us being separated for a week was painful. He’s my best friend and I need his presence. But yesterday, as I was driving back from the airport listing to sad Adele songs (yeah, I know, shut it) I realized that I have grown accustomed to his absence now. And that made me sad as hell.

So I did what anyone would do, I sat on the couch and cried, until my best friend called me. She was having an off day too and she called to just tell me about it, and we talked for two hours and I felt so much better. So I reached out to more people. People who I adore, people I haven’t talked to in a long time. I sent some silly texts, I asked how days were going, I checked on a VERY pregnant friend just to make sure. And you know what, I felt a hell of a lot better, and I hope they did too.

Is there is a lesson in this? Of course there is. And it is one that our therapists have been screaming into our ears for years. But sometimes it takes a little time, a little age, a little trial and error to really make it click. It clicked for me yesterday. I know, I know I am a broken record. But I am broken. We all are, and sometimes we need to realize, accept, and adapt. It has the capacity to make us feel better.

What do you want from us, Missy? I want you to reach out to people when you need to. Ask for help if you need it. Call your best friend. If you don’t have one, find one. Don’t worry if you think they might be busy. Don’t worry if you think they might be surprised, or caught off guard, or, or, or. Make time. Send a funny email. Dance a little jig in the your kitchen with your dog, or your partner, or your child. Put on Adele and cry a river. Doesn’t matter. Take care of yourself and your people, however and whenever you need to. And remember, I love you.

M.

Make a Grid

Mrs. Kim, my lovely neighbor across the way, was very intrigued by the fact that I was power washing my driveway today. So much so that she would sneak glances at me out of her garage window when she thought I wasn’t looking, once every hour or so. Three Mrs. Kim glances later I could tell that her intrigue had turned to concern and it started to infiltrate my psyche. I hadn’t intended to power wash my driveway for three hours today, it just sort of happened, like a lot of things do in my life.

We got home from our two-week trip to Baton Rouge on Friday afternoon. You can read about some of it here https://missygoodnight.com/2019/06/13/deep-deep-south/ though I have to be honest, I have a lot more to say on the trip, just need some time. Anyway, we drove home the eight hours on Friday, then had a good night’s rest in our own bed, then woke up the next day and drove the four hours to Charlotte to say goodbye to our friends Morgan, Beth, and Dave. You see, Morgan, Beth, and Dave packed up and moved to Rhode Island for no reason except to make me sad. Well, Dave got a new job teaching at URI, but that is besides the point. Me. Sad. Important part. We didn’t get back from Charlotte until four am, which means we slept until noon on Sunday, which means we finally got around to getting some of the things done we needed to get done before the week started at nine pm last night. Which was just in time to watch Ralph Wrecks the Internet because Ralph wrecks the internet.

Sigh. That is all to say that we have been busy, busy (and I’ve been a little sad) and today was the first day back in real life and real life looked like this. We woke up sorta late. I had to drive J to work about 30 minutes away (with Jackson and the damn dog) in Atlanta traffic, and then rush home to get ready for my therapy session at 10:00 am. Why did I have to drive J to work? That is a great question and one that I intend to share with you this week if all the components of my life start working again.

So then I go to therapy and cry. I always cry. We don’t even need to talk about like, you know, real shit. We can just talk about the weather and where to get good food (like we did today) and I cry. I really like my therapist. I think she is great in fact. She has a really calming presence, which is probably good for a therapist. She is also wicked funny. She is the kinda lady I wish I had met at Publix in the fruit aisle, and we had bumped carts and I had said, Ope, scuse me, I’ve been drinking! Haha, just kidding I’m not drunk. And she would have said, Me neither, but wanna go get drunk? And then we would be best friends. Except we can’t be friends cause she’s my therapist. Bummer. Anyway, I cried a little and she assured me the world wasn’t ending and I felt better, but also like I needed to do something drastic. I was afraid I would get day drunk and cut my own bangs, so instead I decided to let Jackson wash my car.

Washing my car is something he always asks me to do and I always tell him no because of the hassle of finding the power washer, finding the hose, dragging it all out, then him getting all crazy wet, then other excuse, other excuse, other excuse. Today I thought I’d just let him go to town and get as wet as he wanted. So I let him. He was way excited then (in true Jackson fashion) he washed my car for about five minutes then went back inside. He did offer to clean up the power washer but I was all, nah leave it out I might clean something. And there we are. Three hours later I felt accomplished even though I accomplished the one thing not anywhere near my to-do list today. Not even close.

It is important to note here that I enjoy power washing. I know it sounds weird as shit. But I go to a very zen-like place when I power wash. I sort of process stuff better when I am doing something that I don’t have to think about. I think that is true for a lot of people, probably. Others might crochet, or tinker with cars or electronics, or color or paint. I power wash. I like to take a big surface (like a driveway that is pretty dirty) and split it up into sections, then tackle one section at a time while my mind sort of wanders. I process things I have been putting off, I have conversions with myself, I think about things to write, all while I work my way through the grid I created. It probably has something to do with feeling little accomplishments while you are working. It is like writing a novel and finishing a chapter, or quilting and getting one square done. It’s always easier to take large tasks and break them into smaller ones to tackle. Then you are not so overwhelmed. And I do often get overwhelmed. It’s not unlike when you use your at-home electrolysis kit and you mark on your legs and work small sections. Except with power washing you don’t need to worry about turning the level up too high and getting zapped so hard that you have a series of light seizures.

So, why am I telling you all this? Why do I tell you all anything, Jesus Karen lay off me. I guess because we are in this together you guys. And I know I have been absent, I was a little blue last week. I was overwhelmed. But I think I am back. And I think I have a ton of shit to tell you guys, so let’s get to it!

Happy Monday!

M.

Sir Duke is a Shithead

My dog woke me up at four this morning. I suspect it was so that he could go poop out the book that he ate yesterday when I left him at home for about three hours. I wondered, for a split second, what it feels like to poop out a book. Which led me to wonder why one would eat a book? Is it like when I was pregnant and I craved coffee grinds? Is it that thing where your body is lacking iron so you desire to eat dirt? Or is it more of that thing where you have a mental problem and you only feel better if you eat little bits of mattress that you purchase in bulk at Sam’s Club, because they can’t be used mattresses, you have standards. I suspect of course, it’s because he is a dog. And dogs eat crazy shit. He likes, for instance, to rifle through our bathroom trash from time to time and get himself a little snack. Used q-tips, leftover floss, or his personal favorite: tissue smeared with excrements from our noses. He doesn’t prefer one of our noses over the other. He likes all snot the same.

But this whole only eating my shit when he is left alone, well that is pointed.

When he was a puppy we kenneled him, much to my dismay. Our overweight, chocolate lab Bentley who was put to sleep last year (you can read about her here: https://missygoodnight.com/2018/10/20/bentley/) was not the kind of dog that we had to kennel. She never wanted to tear our shit up, or make us pay for leaving her alone. She was merely the absolute perfect, best doggo in the whole wide world. No biggie. Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte, however, is a little shithead.

Sir Duke has anxiety. And believe me, I get that. I too have anxiety. But he has separation anxiety, which is not what I have. In fact, I’m totes okay with spending load of time all alone. All. Alone. Expect for the past year I have not had that opportunity because well, Sir Duke Barkington of Charlotte. He is with me ALL DAY LONG. Everyday. And therein lies the problem.

Make no mistake, I did this to myself. I have always wanted a doggy who loves me so much he waits for me to get home with a wagging tail. He loves to cuddle with me. I am his human. His one and only. Bentley, for as awesome as she was, she wasn’t a cuddle buddy. She slept on my feet for five years or so (until Jackson was born and she had to sleep on the floor in his room for her own peace of mind) but she wasn’t one to hop on the couch with me and watch Netflix. In fact, if you ever accidentally sat down next to her, she’d give you about two minutes to change your mind, then she would get up and walk away. If it weren’t for her size, I’d think she was part cat.

Sir Duke is quite a different story. He seeks you out. Then he hops directly on top of you head. Or your face. Or your uncovered limbs. He licks your eyes, he tries to put his tongue inside your ears. He relentlessly runs to the bathroom whenever he hears me using it. If I have closed the door he whines outside of it. If I have left it open, half-asleep at 6:00 am, he stands in between my legs and waits for me to finish. I just don’t get it.

But, I guess I don’t need to. I guess he’s just that guy. An large, annoying, cuddly, deranged poodle. And well, as much as I bitch and complain about him, he’s mine. And I’m his. And I love that about us. I just wish he’d stop eating my damn books.

M.

Bad Juju and What Not

Yesterday my son tried to open a banana, a skill he still to this day has not mastered, by ripping at the top with his hands all willy-nilly like. When the banana split in half he got frustrated and said, “My bad juju” and laughed. I opened the banana for him and reminded him that “bad juju” is not a real thing. He smiled and said, “I know, Mommy. It’s just a way for people to not take responsibility for their actions.” Then we talked about all the ways he could have opened the banana, or asked for help, or watched a YouTube video on how to open bananas (his suggestion) and so on. So, my 10-year-old can’t open a banana by himself, but he has mastered a way of thinking that many adults are still grasping for. I’m calling this a win.

“Bad juju” is what people in our family say when things go wrong in life. Say for instance your driver’s license is expired because you “haven’t had the time to get it renewed” (read: you haven’t made it a priority), so you take a chance and drive around for a few weeks with it expired. Then you speed, and you get caught, and you get an extra ticket for having an expired license. You bitch and complain to everyone who will listen that you didn’t have time, all the work you do, your meany-mean boss won’t let you leave early, all the time you spend volunteering and helping everyone else (sidebar: playing the victim is also really popular in my family), you just couldn’t make it to the DMV. Poor you! So you chalk it up to “Bad Juju”.

Le sigh. Believe me, I have been tempted to blame “Bad Goodnight Juju” once or twice. I’m sure we all have. Whether you call it “Bad Karma” or a streak of “Bad luck” or “Down in the Dumps”. We’ve all thought it, or said it, or tried, just once, to blame our poor decisions on something else. I’ve done it a million times. Tried to rationalize with myself. It wasn’t my fault. The universe is out to get me. It was payback for that time I (insert sinful thing here). All these things run through our minds. And it is okay. And normal for that to happen. But if you spend a few minutes digging deeper, if you realize you too (gasp!) can be at fault for something, then you will discover what is really happening.

There was a period in our lives when it felt like everything was going wrong. Jerimiah had just lost his job. The company just up and folded one day, still owing him a month or two salary. Then Jackson got very sick. Like had to be life-flighted to the children’s hospital sick. That’s when we found out he had asthma. Then the house we were living in had mold, so we had to move quickly. You get my drift here. With each “thing” that happened we got deeper and deeper into the pit of despair. Finally we looked at each other one night and said, “What the actual hell?! Is this bad juju?” The answer: No. We were making sketchy decisions and paying the price. Jerimiah had taken a job with people he knew weren’t the most honest, respectable people in the biz, and he got burned. We had moved hastily to a new house because I was mad at the owner of our previous house. We refused to see how sick our child was for two days leading up to his transport to the hospital, because we were on vacation and taking him to the doctor in a different state was inconvenient at the time.

From that moment forward we decided to change the way we thought. The risks we took. The way we looked at challenges. We decided to take responsibly for our actions and decisions. We decided to take the natural consequences (Love and Logic right there!) and move forward with the new lessons that those consequences taught us. And from that day forward our lives have been infinitely better. Now, I’m not saying we haven’t had trying times in the last seven years or so, but they feel like little bumps in the road, not major, detrimental, life-changing catastrophes like before. And maybe to some they would be, but when you learn to take responsibility for your actions and decisions. When you decide to be honest and open with others. When you learn which risks are safe risks, and which are not, a million wonderful things infiltrate your life like you wouldn’t believe. And it’s sort of amazing.

This has all been on my mind lately as we gear up for our trip to Louisiana. I have spent way too much time trying to decide what to leave on Marie Laveau’s grave this time, because well, you remember what happened when I didn’t. If not, get up to speed here: https://missygoodnight.com/2019/03/08/bourbon-and-canal-the-finale/ And no, I don’t whole-heartedly believe in this dark magic. And no, I don’t think the members of our family who blame “juju” for their mistakes do either. I think they just refuse to admit when they have messed up. Refuse to openly confess fault. And I used to let them do it. I used to be okay with it. But when my child thinks maybe, just maybe, his family has a curse on them of some kind that he might fall victim to, or he learns you can try to abate judgement by blaming “bad juju” then uhh, no we done with that nonsense.

Now, can we get to the root of the real problem here: What do I leave as a sacrifice on the grave of the best damn Voodoo Queen of New Orleans?

M.

Storms

It’s going to storm tonight in Atlanta. It’s stormed more often than not since we moved here last month. I don’t mind the storms, but they do make me a little anxious. I’ll get a book, curl up on the sofa and try to read, while the rain pounds on the side of the house, and on the tall pine trees, and on my small, robust garden. I’ll try to read, but I’ll get so engrossed by the sounds that my mind will wander, and before I know it I’ll be consumed by worry. I’ll worry about the things that might go wrong. What if one of those pine trees should fall? What about the baby birds in that nest? Who would I call to rescue them? Who would I call to rescue me?

I used to prefer the dark sky. I preferred the gloomy days. The mix of grays, and blues, and blacks. As a child I would sit on my mother’s stoop and watch the sky change. In Kansas you can never be too sure how long the storm will last. You can never be too sure which way the wind will turn. If a funnel cloud might reach a long, black finger down. You can never be sure. It’s a kind of anxiety that becomes comforting after a little while. Or maybe you just learn to live in it.

Nowadays I prefer the sunshine. I’ve learned that my body needs the sunshine to function properly. I know this. Finally. At 37-years-old. I finally know that my body needs the Vitamin D. And so does my mind. So do my emotions. My nerves. But sometimes, on days like today, when the storms are lining up to roll on through and I feel prepared, and my mind is free, it is different. Sometimes, on days like today, when my soul feels well, I can sit on my porch, take in the smell of the coming rain, and I can look forward to the storm.

M.

Vulnerable Schmulnerable

Vulnerable. Ick. I don’t even like to type the word. Vulnerable. It sounds vulgar. Vulnerable. My trusty Pocket Oxford says the word means: “That may be wounded (lit. or fig.); exposed to damage by weapon, criticism, etc.” Vulnerable. Bad. Vulnerable. Weak. Vulnerable. How not to be. This word has been kicking around my noggin all weekend. Mainly because I started a Brene Brown book. And listen, if you haven’t read Brene Brown, well, I won’t tell you to read her. Or watch her Ted Talk or her Netflix special. But you know, if you are so inclined, I promise you won’t be disappointed. She’s a research professor at the University of Houston. She’s spent years researching shame and (gulp) vulnerability. She has a fun Texas drawl, and she doesn’t think prayer and cussing are mutually exclusive, so you know, she might not be your cup ‘o’ tea, but she is my kinda gal.

Anyway, Brene Brown has been teaching me about vulnerability. And when she first started explaining the concept, she said things like “exposed” and “easily wounded”. And immediately I thought to myself, “You’re not a vulnerable person, Missy. No worries. You have your ducks in a row.” Because who would want to be vulnerable? Weren’t we supposed to be strong and brave at all times. Especially now, in this dumpster fire of a world we live in? So I decided, nah, I’m not vulnerable. But then I kept going back to what I said, sorta like how my dog keeps sniffing his own butt, even when it appears to be fairly clean. I know my butt is clean. I am 100% sure of it. Right?

I couldn’t figure out why I felt like I was lying to myself. Brene was all, “Missy, girl, it’s okay to be vulnerable.” And I was all, “That’s bullshit, Brene! You’re bullshit, Brene! Just another whack-job, wanna-be-self-help-guru, and I’m not gonna listen to you!” Then I turned off the television and continued to eat my Cheetos, and tell myself I am strong, and I am brave, and I am not vulnerable. Then I woke up in the middle of the night with the butt itchies and realized, holy hell, I’m like, super vulnerable.

Let me try to explain. I’m a writer. No need to apologize, I did it to myself. I write mainly creative non-fiction. That’s my bread and butter. I love to explore my own life, my own stories, my past, my present, my future, and share it with whomever will read or listen. Full stop. That’s vulnerability, right? I mean, every day, just sitting at my desk, writing my random-ass thoughts out for the blog-sphere is pretty vulnerable. Especially in the age of social media, anonymous chatting and commenting, and the intense showmanship and competition that comes with all of this.

Then there are the friendships I’ve had over the years. I am a pretty open and honest person. I’ve come to learn over the last year or two that not everyone appreciates that about me. But what Brene helped me realize is that my friends do appreciate when I am honest with them. They also appreciate when I tell a funny story, or allow them to see me make an ass of myself, but they don’t appreciate my vulnerability because vulnerabilty scares the shit out of people. They don’t know how to be vulnerable, or to act around someone who is. And I get that, I really do. It’s tough to be vulnerable. We’ve been trained our whole lives not to be.

So what does this all mean? Look it, I don’t know. Brene seems to act like she knows, but I don’t think she does either. What I do know is that I am taking this new bit of information I have realized about myself (with help from Brene) and I’m moving forward in my life with a few new rules.

Rule #1: If someone is not ready to be vulnerable, or to watch me be vulnerable, then I am walking away. There are so many other people out there who can handle me, and my butt, and all that comes with it.

Rule #2: I’m going to try not to worry about the critics. There are a million people out there who will criticize me at the drop of a hat. Most of them are too afraid to be doing what I am doing. Most of them want to step out of their comfort zone, they want to make a change in their life, but they are too afraid. It’s easier to sit back and watch other people fail (and Brene says I will fail, a lot) then to find their own courage. Courage to quit their job and follow their true passion, relying on their partner, giving up control. Courage to take that step to put their lives out into the world. Courage to be open and honest with their loved ones. These people make up a million excuses why they can’t do it, and I try to rationalize that when they criticize me. But I can’t do that anymore. If you can’t stick your butt in the fire, you have no right to tell me about my butt, even when it’s in flames.

Rule #3: The people who do care should be depended on more often. The ones that have been cheering me on, those are the people who matter. Those are the people to listen to when criticism needs to come my way. They do it from a love-centered place. They do it because sometimes I need to be slapped. Sometimes I say and do crazy things, and they need to tell me because they care about me. And I’ll listen. I may be mad when they are saying it, but I’ll listen.

So, I guess, uhhh, wish me luck? And maybe watch some Brene Brown? And maybe try to decide if you are vulnerable? And if you are not being vulnerable, then ask your self why not? Wouldn’t it be worth a shot?

M.