You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2010.

I’ve been focused on love… which is a good thing. It’s what I’ve learned the most with all of this so far.. how important it is.

But.. I also need to find some peace concerning everything that’s happened. It’s been about three months since I moved back here. I know I’ve made amazing progress, but I’m still not there.. where I want to be.

One of my best friends from Milwaukee just had her baby. I was there when she was trying for months to get pregnant.. I was there when she was pregnant, looking at her belly and thinking how amazing it was that there was a real person in there… a person that will grow and learn and experience so much. I honestly think it’s a miracle.. two people creating a life. It’s just amazing.

So it sort of hurts that now that she actually had her baby I’m here… and uninvolved. Yet I was able to think about those things and get sad.. but there was an element of acceptance at how things are.. I didn’t feel angry. I will always be sad about the things I gave up when I fell… I was honestly tempted to just drive there tonight and visit some of the kids from work tomorrow morning. I miss them more than anything. I can’t even begin to describe it.

Sometimes peace is just realizing that although we have free will and I believe that power is very great, there are things that are just out of our control. This is how it is… and I have so many things to be thankful for. I know that.

What does peace mean to you? I am just trying to accept things.. and how they are… I have started seeing the beauty again, and that is a big step. I have a ways to go but .. it’s okay. Everything’s going to be alright. I believe that.


I have a twin brother named Nathan. He’s… pretty much the coolest guy I know.

Nathan was born over two hours after me. No one is sure exactly why, but he has several disabilities. His vision and coordination are limited, and his brain just doesn’t work the way ours do. He can’t tie his own shoes but he has experienced things that a lot of people never will. In ways he’s more mature and smarter than a lot of other people his age.

Normally, Nathan is a really happy, light-hearted guy. He’s had some really great teachers and they have all really loved him. In fact, I don’t think anyone that’s ever met him has not liked him. He’s fun… and considerate, and enjoys doing nice things for people. He gets spoiled rotten by the people who work with him, but he takes it all really well.

When Nathan and I hit the puberty age, he started having psychological problems. Delusions filled his mind… depression, anxiety. There was just this look on his face. He’s been in the hospital a few times, and the doctors seem to have found the right mix of meds to really keep him stable. And he is… almost all of the time. When these episodes start coming on, we increase the meds for a while and then put them back to normal. It’s manageable.

Yet… it’s hard to watch him suffer. I remember thinking I’d do anything just to take away his pain, his hurt.

And now I think that in a sense I really know what it’s like. To feel that intense pain and sadness… with no reason. Feeling trapped, a prisoner.. thinking irrational thoughts.

Nathan seemed to be heading for one of his episodes a few weeks ago so they increased the meds. It seemed to help, but last night was a rough one for him. He was just sobbing.

And then today again… He yelled at my mom and sister a lot, treated them pretty poorly… not normal behavior for him. When I got home from work he was sobbing.

We had a really good talk. On some levels.. it’s almost as if  Nathan is just a little kid. He’s used to really being taken care of for his daily needs, and those always will be taken care of by somebody else. His understanding of a lot of events is probably comparable to a child’s perspective. So as we talked about what and how he was feeling, he expressed his frustration that “this will never go away. I’ll have it until I die.” I told him I understood… and I reminded him that most of the time he doesn’t feel that way. He said he knew I understood.. and then, through his tears, said that he thought I was going to be the lucky one and not have to suffer from mental illness. He was so upset about it.

He may not always be able to express himself very well so it’s easy to overlook what he really does understand. It’s like when a kid says something to you that’s so insightful that it blows you away.

It breaks my heart to see him hurting… but at the same time it felt really good to be able to talk to him and calm him down. I love him so much.


I get this overwhelming feeling–

This terrifying yet exhilarating awareness–

Of the presence of something …

Something that’s bigger than us all–

It’s right there within our reach,

It’s right there before our eyes

Yet we miss it…

Overlook it…

Over and over again

I write a lot about love.

It’s just that… I think it really is the most important thing. It’s what makes us human… it’s what kept me going at my lowest point. It’s because of love that I am… learning to live again. There’s not a lot that I’m sure about anymore, and I think you could say that I’m somewhat jaded because of these last few months. Every day memories flash into my mind that fill my heart with such intense sadness and pain… and I feel I’ve lost a lot. But… Love is real. And it’s what makes this life so beautiful.

And yet…

Love isn’t perfect. Well, maybe in theory it is. Maybe by definition it is. Somehow though, no matter how much we love each other, we still mess up and treat those that we love in the wrong way.

The other morning I woke up to my sister’s yelling to my mom. I know that she was yelling so that I would hear her. My mom kept asking her to quiet down, that I was just in the other room, that I would wake up and hear her. And I did. And I know her frustrations were related to me, and the things she was saying were… well, they were mean. Her words were hurtful. I know that me being here isn’t ideal for any of them… yet all day I kept thinking to myself that I wanted to say so much to her.. to tell her how for so many years I acted like the older sister (although I’m younger.) I was there for her when I was really too young to deal with the things that faced her.. and us, our whole family. Yet I bore the things she was dealing with and never complained. I let the focus be on the rest of the family and bottled up my own hurt for years and somehow managed to get past it. And now that she’s in a better place, and I’m in the worst place I’ve ever been in, she wants to complain because of some inconveniences of me living here? I wanted to tell her that she has absolutely no idea what I’ve been going through.

Well, I talked to my mom about it that day, and before I even saw my sister she must have talked to her. I got a text from her saying that she doesn’t want me to think that she doesn’t like having me here. And later that night she talked to me and said the same thing.. told me how bad of a morning she was having. I wanted to still say all those things to her.. but once she said she was sorry  and saw that I wasn’t visibly angry (which I wasn’t angry by that point,) she changed the subject so we could move on. That’s sort of how things have always worked in my family… say the minimum of what you have to and stop talking about it.

I’ve based a lot of my “recovery” on the support of my family. The words she said that morning stung… yet they didn’t make me question how much she loves me.

The night I hit bottom… well, I couldn’t even drive back here. My sister made the two hour drive to pick me up, and then she listened to me cry the whole two hours back. And she let me sleep next to her that night.

I certainly know that the way I love isn’t perfect.

I caught my mom in a lie to me as well. That almost bothers me even more, because when I was in the hospital I told her how important it was to me that we would be honest with each other. I think I’m still going to talk to her about that.

But even her lie doesn’t make me question the fact that she loves me. Not at all.

Part of growing up is realizing that love isn’t perfect. We make mistakes… and those mistakes always hurt the most when they are from the people we love most.

But… that’s part of what makes love such a beautiful thing. On the right hand of love is joy, and the left hand is hurt. Love means being vulnerable… it’s this choice to empower someone else to have the possibility to hurt you, but also to give you so much joy.

And I believe that in order to have healthy relationships with those that you love, you must understand that love isn’t perfect. In a loving relationship.. forgiveness is always going to be there.

It’s amazing really… love is worth the hurt that can come with it. I really believe that. Love makes it all worth it.

There’s an empty lot where my house once stood.
I ran.. like I always knew I would.

Ran til my body was all worn down…
Bruised and broken
In a hospital gown

There’s an empty lot where my house once stood.
You still loved me… like I always knew you would

It took the breaking of my spirit
And everything I knew
It took thousands of miles,
A razor and…
Oh.. the things we do

And.. I know..
We carry the sins of our fathers
And… I know..
We carry the burdens of our mothers
The weight of all hurt on our shoulders

But the heavier the heart,
The stronger the will
A song of love
Will make our weary bodies still

Just some words that pushed themselves out last night.. fell asleep while writing it so just posting now…

Five AM

I’ll be up in two hours

I think… I think that in general I’m making progress. I hesitate to say that because I fear that it won’t last… and because although I’ve been feeling more like myself- and for longer periods of time- I still don’t feel quite… right. Like.. right now I should be asleep…. but I seem to have this endless energy and sort of.. restlessness.. while at other parts of the day I’m just plain exhausted. Right now I just feel wired. It’s like there’s no middle ground. I’m either low, fighting off low, super happy, or “wired.”

I’m not complaining though because when I think about where I was at even just a couple of weeks ago I know that I am in a much better place.

But even as my moods stabilize, I’m still left with memories- both good and bad- that haunt me.

Well, the good memories make me sad… and happy in a way, I guess. You have to understand that it’s not like this was a slow process that eventually led to me hitting bottom- like I was unhappy for several months and everyone knew it but me. It all happened quickly. It especially seems quickly to me because those few months that led me here all just seem sort of like a haze now. Prior to those, maybe, three months things were pretty good. Yes, I had stress, but it was mostly positive stress- wanting to work hard because I was passionate about what I was doing- my job, my major.. I had amazing friends and people in my life- most of whom are still very bewildered that I just sort of disappeared.

So when I think about my life in Milwaukee pre-November, I have to deal with the fact that things will never be like that again. It’s a very harsh truth to accept. Honestly,  I feel like a part of me has died.

Yet… with every death there is birth. But it’s all a painful, yet beautiful process.

Then there are the bad memories that haunt me. Sometimes they flood my mind. It’s like recalling a nightmare that you had but then realizing that it actually happened. It’s scary to even acknowledge that I was in the place I was. Yet at the same time, a month ago I couldn’t even really listen to a song from that time and I am definitely beyond that (well, there are still some songs I can’t listen to…)

I had to go to Milwaukee last weekend to take care of some business at my bank. It was a warm day.. sunny.. and when I first got there I remembered what I loved so much about Milwaukee. As I climbed the front steps of my old apartment, I saw reminders of the fact that I once lived there– my old bike, an empty cigarette box, some old mail… it already almost seemed like a lifetime ago.. it was almost as if my key just might not fit the lock…

But it did. And memories that I had repressed popped into my head.. things that happened that I would almost rather forget.

Yet.. the fact that those memories even surfaced reminded me that I have made progress. Yet as the moods continue to stabilize (knock on wood) I know that I still face a long journey of sorting through and processing everything that happened… of reevaluating the way I see the world around me.. of learning to live again.

I love working with kids.

I’m sensing sort of a dejavu feeling, so hopefully I haven’t already written a post like this!

I think that children have this different sense of joy that we almost lose as we grow older. My proof? The way that kids just run, jump, and skip around.. giggling furiously for no reason, big grins on their faces. The only adults you see doing that aren’t usually considered sane. Maybe the biggest difference is that kids can have that joy for really no reason… whereas when you see an estatic adult, there’s almost always a reason behind it.

Why is it that we lose that sense of joy? Does society just teach us how to show it in a different way? Or is it lost in the trials of growing up?

Another reason I love working with kids is that I’ve noticed that their love is much more pure. Everyone always talks about a parent’s unconditional love for his or her children… but a child will also love his or her parent unconditionally. It’s amazing. When I worked with kindergarteners, I was really hard on them and I held them to a pretty high standard. Yet I also knew how to be totally weird and goofy with them (one of the reasons that age is so fun is that they still think you’re cool when you act like that!) There were days, however, that I was really stressed out- whether they were stressing me out or things non-work related- and I would sometimes mess up and take it out on them. Yet they never, ever stopped loving me because of that. A child who is horribly abused still loves his/her abusive parent even.

So why is it so hard to love unconditionally as we grow older? Again, is it simply that we grow wise to the ways of the world and see how unconditional love isn’t always very self-preserving?

It’s interesting…

There is this tree here in my hometown…

it’s just your average looking tree… I don’t even know what kind it is- not too big, not too small..

It’s next to some other trees on my favorite road in this town, on the curve where you can see the lake the best.

Every spring, white flowers bloom on all the branches of this tree.

It happens at a different time every year… and the flowers don’t last very long. They soon fall off and are replaces by green leaves, leaving this tree to be unnoticeable again.

A few days ago I was driving on that road and notices that some of the flowers had already bloomed. It made me smile… it gave me hope. It’s so early for the flowers to bloom… it’s a good year for an early spring. It really is.

In other news… lots of stuff has been happening the last couple of weeks. Sometimes I really feel like I’m making huge strides, and other times I feel that it’s worse. It’s so hard to say. Saw the doctor on Monday and he just increased the dose of the antidepressant I’m on (again.) We’ll see.

Love is real.

So.. my blog is called learning to live… I started it with the idea of writing about my experiences while going through this.. “thing.” I wanted to write about building my new “foundation.”

I’ve definitely alluded to it before, but I think the first block I want to lay as my foundation is love.

I know.. I know, it’s cliche. But it’s so true.

To love.. and be loved.

There’s this picture of my family- all seven of us. We are in the front of the church my dad was a pastor at in the UP. I’m only maybe a year old. I’m sitting on this folding chair, a serious look on my face. The best part is the story behind it. Apparently when they took the picture my dad was supposed to be holding my twin and my mom was supposed to be holding me, but I saw one of my older siblings sitting in a chair and I insisted that I needed to be in a chair too.

See, by nature, I’m so independent.. I always have been.

No one else can go through this thing for me. No one else can magically make things better.

But honestly, if I had to do it on my own, I don’t know if I could.

I’ve been missing my old roommates. Two of the best friends I’ve ever had. I’ve been crying because I miss how much fun we had together, and I know that things will never be exactly like they were before. But you know what? I think it’s part of the healing process. For months I pushed them away and didn’t let myself think about it. I’m just now starting to let myself feel the pain of that. And as much as it hurts, it’s real… it’s a sadness that I really should feel. It’s human… and it’s okay.

Last night I played at open mic night. It was.. amazing. Sometimes when I’m playing, I can just sense that there are others in the room who get it. They just get it. I don’t know how else to explain it.. and for a few brief moments you are connected. That’s love.

And the guy I wrote about a while back. That’s still good- it’s really good. I feel like he’s my best friend. The best part of my day is when we hang out. Tonight we just watched comedy and played chess. I can see myself in the future with him, spending lazy days watching shows on National Geographic or going on walks, playing board games.. simple things. Got to keep it simple. He’s one of the best parts about being back in this town. He’s one of the best people I know.

Love is real. It doesn’t always make sense, but that’s what makes it so amazing. Love makes us do things we otherwise wouldn’t. Unconditional love is a miracle- I really believe that. There is no logic behind it, no evolutionary reason. Love makes us better than what we are. Love is.. more real than anything else I know.