A.R.T.-ist (Part 2)

Last night while writing my blog post, I fell asleep. A couple of times… so I cut the post short and in doing so, I forgot to tell you how it all ended!

After the last “pass”, Darlene asked if I wanted to work on it some more. I couldn’t though. I was so drained. I confessed that the second half of the time I didn’t even have a single thought. I needed all of my energy to just follow her hand.

“Ok, well, let’s get you across the bridge at least”.

I guess this is how all sessions end. Going over a bridge and towards a fountain.

So I imagined myself on a cobblestone bridge, holding my therapists’ hand. We walked cautiously forward. About half way across, I let go of his hand and bolted the rest of the way, without even looking back. I was about 6 years old and at the fountain we used to visit when we went to grandma’s house. I started to laugh and splash in the water that changed colors. Almost immediately I saw Natalie. She was her four year old self and transparent, as was our grandma who was seated on the bench, watching us as she always did.

At this point, I did have a lump in my throat and tears teetering on the edge of my eyelids.

I was torn. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I didn’t feel the same heaviness that had been with me all these months and I was afraid. I was afraid if I felt better, that was somehow betraying my sister. It hasn’t even been a full year yet, how can I just be “over it”? Isn’t that dishonoring her?

No one wants to feel bad but somehow I felt I HAD to…

Then I remembered a quote from long ago:

“Suffering is no proof of love”. Nor is it proof of loyalty or dedication or anything other than suffering.

My brain and my body are still at odds with each other, for now.

I expect that will change in time.

The thing that won’t change? My love for her.

A.R.T.-ist

This past Thursday, I had my first (real) A.R.T. (accelerated resolution therapy) session.

It was pretty amazing. The first time we met, we talked about what issue(s) I wanted to work on and if A.R.T. was a good option. I was there strictly to work on my grief over Natalie. She had me recount the “scene” that currently plays through my mind when I feel like I’m losing it. I started from the morning of May 19th, when I got the call from my brother up to the viewing and funeral. It’s a four-day scene and she said I needed to chunk it down. Thursday I was ready. I started from sitting in the bank, waiting for a teller so I could open a checking account. I was in a chair, reading a story about the mayor and how whenever someone in Minneapolis was killed by a gang or gun violence, he would go with police to inform the family.

“What a horrible job to have” I remember thinking.

I remember hearing my phone ring and seeing Justin’s phone number.

“He’s going to ask me to work” I thought.

That was not the case. We talked and then I held my stomach all the way to my parent’s house.

After I went through this “scene” in my mind (while following the movement of her hand) we did a body scan.

“What do you notice?” she asked.

“I have a headache. My chest feels heavy, so heavy I feel like it might cave in on me. The rest of me feels numb.”

“Would you like to move that around?”

“Um, sure…”

She told me that some people imagine a magnet, sucking the pain out of them or angels pulling out the energy. I had a vision of Bruce Lee, punching the headache away.

Half way through though, he got tired and I saw my grandma. She held my head in her hands.

“How do you feel?” Darlene asked.

“I still have my headache but the pressure in my chest is gone. I mean, I feel so much lighter…”

The second “pass” ( a term meaning a round of hand movement while I follow it with my eyes -similar to EMDR therapy) was me getting to be the director. I just have to adjust the scene to something more acceptable.

We begin again. The first thing I notice is that I’m standing in the bank in a long, flowy skirt and a Hawaiian shirt. Natalie was married in Hawaii. I’m reading the paper again and the tiny, thumbnail photo of the mayor turned from a black and white copy to full color and climbed out of the paper. He sat in a chair to me and took my hand.

“It’s going to be alright” he assured me.

I was confused.

“You’re going to get some bad news, but it’ll be ok, I promise.”

I pulled away, scared.

The phone rang. It was Justin.

“You know how Nat always wanted to join the circus?”

“Um, no…”

“Fuck it. I’m not going to lie to you. Natalie met up with CW and they went flying together.”

(CW was a friend of the family who passed away in 2006 due to a fatal car accident. Natalie often had dreams of him where they’d go flying together.)

My breath caught in my throat. I was sad but not overly so. I felt almost a relief… she wasn’t in pain or suffering. She was with loved ones, watching over us left here on Earth.

Justin continued “I think we need to do something. Get together, maybe watch some fireworks, see if she says hi”.

(Fireworks are our mom’s symbol for death)

Next thing I knew, we were on a hilltop, watching colors explode in the sky. Shortly after the show started, the word “hi” appeared, along with a heart and the name Nat.

Another body scan revealed my headache had vanished as well and I felt an odd sensation, like trying to keep a beach ball under the water and it just won’t stay submerged. Intellectually, I knew I was sad. Who wouldn’t be? It’s a terrible thing to go through and yet, I couldn’t get my body to go along with it. I felt light and free. I could breathe without difficulty, without tears…

That was Thursday. Today, Sunday (Easter) it came back a little bit. One of the last of the lasts. The last of the “firsts”. First Easter without her. One more to go: Mother’s Day. That’ll be a bitch.

I’m going to keep going with this A.R.T. and of course, I’ll keep you guys updated.

Happy Easter! Good Night!

Eye

8 Late?

Wow. I just looked up the last time I posted and it’s been a month. To the day. So, four weeks, I usually blog twice a week… I’m eight posts behind! Eep. Sorry. I probably won’t be making those up, but I will try EXTRA hard to continue from here on out to stay on track.

What’s been up? Well, since you asked… I’ll tell you.

I’ll start with the heavier stuff so we can end on a more upbeat note, sound good? Good. Or goodbye, depending on whether or not you’re ok with a heavy subject.

If I’m remembering correctly, a month ago I got caught up a week early with my brother’s birthday and Natalie’s death date being the same day, the 19th (of March and May, respectively). Coincidentally (ha ha) the waitress of the restaurant we went to celebrate my baby brother’s (at 31!) birthday was named Natalie. I’m still having a hard time with grief. I cannot believe how little time has “healed”. I know there has been some progress because I can at least remember one or two times together that I can actually smile at… in addition to crying but not in place of.

Next up? I’m not sure if I mentioned this before or not…  I signed up for Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy – Funniest Person with a Day Job contest. My date is May 2nd, it’s a Tuesday and I’m kinda scared outta my mind… I’m sure it’ll be fine though. As long as I get to working on my material soon!

Third on the agenda. Therapy. I am starting a new type of therapy called A.R.T. It stands for accelerated resolution therapy and is similar to EMDR. It has done wonders for my friend and I figure what have I got to lose?

And lastly, man, this is a hearty post. Nice and condensed. I’m just trying to get y’all caught up so I can start again on Sunday… The husband and I have decided to try for another baby.

I’ve seen and talked with my doctors to figure out how to get my body ready for another go round and it’s been really helpful.

I’m so on top of my blood sugars, I can hardly believe it but I’ve got the needle marks and pin pricks to prove it!

I’ve been going with Tayla and working out twice a week.

Taking a prenatal vitamin, even though the doc thinks it’ll probably take a few months to get all the birth control out of my system and back on a regular cycle again.

The best part? I don’t even have to worry because everyone I know is doing it for me! Ha, wouldn’t that be nice if that’s how it worked?

I’m totally aware that getting pregnant is just the beginning and there are no guarantees. I’m not pinning all my hopes for happiness on this.

It’s more like mothering, in addition to stand-up and writing, it’s what I’m here to do. I feel like that’s what I am meant to do.

If it’s in God’s plan, it’ll happen and if it’s not meant to be… I’m just leaving it up to him.

 

overwhelmed

Bridging the Gap

via Daily Prompt: Record

I had an amazing dream Saturday night. I’m writing about it in conjunction with the daily word prompt because I want to remember this, I want to record it, so I’ll have it always.

I normally remember my dreams and they are always vivid and detailed… they were nothing compared to what I experienced Saturday night.

It started with me waking up (in the dream) in my bed at my parents’ house because I was going into labor.

I ran up the stairs to Natalie’s room because she’s the loudest. I whispered her name as I shook her shoulders.

“Nat… Nat… Hey, wake up. I think I just went into labor…”

She layed there, unaffected.

Then her eyes opened wide and she flew out of bed.

“Ok, ok, don’t panic. I’ll tell mom and dad, you get to the hospital.”

Next thing I knew, I was in a bed in the hospital with a doctor who bore a striking resemblance to George Gaynes (the dad from Punky Brewster and Cmdt. Eric Lassard in the Police Academy movies).

Everything I did was wrong. I showed up to early, then I was too late. He wanted to do surgery, he wanted to send me home… I was so stressed out and overwhelmed. Luckily, Shar was there and she took me and my bed for a stroll around the hospital. I called my therapist and weighed the pros and cons of each possibility and by the time we hung up, I felt much better.

Then it was time to go back into the room. I felt sick.

By the time we got there, though, it was time for shift change! I didn’t see the same doctor. This one was much younger and looked a little like David Caruso, from CSI Miami. I don’t even watch that show so I don’t know why he’s making a cameo…

Anyway. Doctor David did an ultrasound. Because the previous doctor did not but knew enough that my baby had no heartbeat.

“Here it is, see? That pulsating color around his body, that’s his heart beating.”

I started to cry.

“Would you like a picture?” He asked

“You can do that?”

“Sure, let me show you.”

He connected a small camera wire to one of my IV’s (?) and feed it down through to my stomach.

“There he is, see?”

And I saw him. Tiny, pink and perfect.

“He just waved at you” the doctor said.

“Now, for a more serious subject. Do you want to have another C-Section or do you want to try to give birth to him naturally?”

I’m sure there are not a lot of people who sign up for going through childbirth when given the choice but I’ve always felt cheated, I guess by Tayla’s birth being an emergency C-section.

“If I can, I’d like to try to do it naturally” I said

He smiled and said he’d get a couple of nurses to help. As he turned to leave, I grabbed the sleeve of his coat. He turned around and sat down next to me.

“I just wanted to say thank you. You are the complete opposite of my previous doctor and exactly what I need right now.”

He patted my hand.

Then, I had to pee.

I hopped down and waddled off toward the bathroom. I don’t know how long I was gone but when I came back, he’d been born! Sort of.

I hopped back up onto the bed and the doctor asked if I wanted to see him.

“Yes!”

Shar gently picked him up, he was still in the amniotic fluid, the sac was still sealed and she placed him on my chest.

I could make out facial feature and then I felt something wet. The water had started to leak. It was draining so fast… I screamed for the doctor who reassured me it was ok.

“It will only break when he’s ready”

I tried to slow down my breathing and within a few moments, there he was. We were touching skin to skin. He started to wiggle and without using his arms, just arching his back, he looked up at me and smiled.

I lingered in that moment for a long time. Everyone just faded into the background until it was just the two of us. I remember thinking (in the dream) “is this Noah? If it’s not, can I still use the name Noah? Has he been reincarnated? Come back to me?”

I was pulled out of this dream state fogginess by Don asking me where the car seat was. People were coming and going and at one point I looked down into his blanket and he was gone.

I was hysterical. I looked all over for him and when I finally found him, he was in a hospital crib, where he was supposed to be.

At this point, I think I was starting to wake up because I had the thought that he was safe and where he was supposed to me and would be waiting for me.

In DBT therapy we talk about “what was the missing experience”? While my doctors weren’t quite as bad as they had been in the dream, it was so nice to get to “experience” a doctor who really cared, deeply. It was nice to have the option of delivery vs c section. It was amazing to see and feel this little baby on me, not having been taken away before I got a chance to see her. This baby was healthy. This baby was safe. This baby was… is waiting for me.

It’s Time

via Daily Prompt: Nervous

It’s time. Not to let go per se, or even move on… it’s just time to get back into what I was doing before Noah, before Natalie.

Specifically, it’s time for me to get back into comedy. I did my one stand up act at Acme in June and haven’t been anywhere since.

Prior to that, I’ve done open mic nights at Acme Comedy Club, Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy and The Joke Joint. I made it my new year’s resolution to get out at least once a month to do comedy. Nope, not yet.

I’ve been going back and forth, do I want to do this? I am even capable of doing this? It would be good to swing back to the lighter side but nothing even feels funny… So, maybe I have to act opposite my depression and get out there anyway. Do I wait until I feel better to call a friend or do I call a friend and then feel better?

Getting back into writing comedy has been in the back of my mind, not the way back but further than it should’ve been. Until yesterday. I got an email from House of Comedy at the Mall of America. They are running their “Funniest Person with a Day Job” contest.

I thought, ok, here’s that little nudge I need to get me going. I went to the website to sign up and found there is an application process! I’ve never had to do that before. Usually, I submit my name and they email me back with a date and time, that’s it.

This application wants me to describe my act, tell them what makes me different than other performers, let them know of any needs upfront… I don’t know. It just felt daunting. Surprising. I thought about it for a day and about half an hour ago, I submitted my application.

Now for the fun part: ready, get set, WAIT!

Meditation vs Rumination

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via Daily Prompt: Ruminate

Ruminate: to meditate on; ponder.

Meditate: to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.

By their very definition, these two words look interchangeable. I’m not exactly sure what the difference is, only that for me, meditation has a positive connotation vs rumination, which I associate more with being “stuck in my head” or spinning my wheels.

Meditation is something that is good for you, rumination is not. That’s how I’ve seen it. Looking up the definitions today and thinking about it a little, I wonder if the difference isn’t in the intention…

Over these last 10 months, I’ve tried to keep up on my relationship with my sister, despite the obvious barriers.

For months I would ask her to come visit me in my dreams. I’d fall asleep holding her picture or set her music on repeat so even subconsciously I’d be in a place to receive her. While I’ve had tons of signs that she’s around me, I wanted to see her face. I wanted to interact with her.

Radio silence.

Until last night.

The details are fuzzy now but I was running from someone or something in a mall. I saw an empty corner, squished myself in and slid down the walls. I buried my head in my folded arms and sobbed.

I was soon interrupted by a light tapping on my shoulder.

I looked up and I saw her.

The song “These Dreams” by Heart played overhead.

She was … Radiant. Stunning. Healthy.

Of course she was.

I scrambled to get to my feet and I lunged for her, grabbing her tight to me.

I woke up and while this past year has felt like a nightmare, I was convinced that it was over now. I grabbed for my phone, desperate to hear her voice, her reassuring laugh chiding me for overreacting.

But of course that didn’t happen. Half way to the phone, I remembered the necklace. The music shaped urn necklace. I was scared to touch it. Maybe it wasn’t there… but if it was, it meant she was really gone.

I clutched the charm in my fist as the tears continued to burn and I remembered to thank her, even as painful is it was, as it is, as it will always be… she did come visit me.

Lyrics to These Dreams:

Spare a little candle
Save some light for me
Figures up ahead
Moving in the trees
White skin in linen
Perfume on my wrist
And the full moon that hangs over
These dreams in the mist

Darkness on the edge
Shadows where I stand
I search for the time
On a watch with no hands
I want to see you clearly
Come closer than this
But all I remember
Are the dreams in the mist

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

Is it cloak ‘n’ dagger
Could it be spring or fall
I walk without a cut
Through a stained glass wall
Weaker in my eyesight
The candle in my grip
And words that have no form
Are falling from my lips

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

There’s something out there
I can’t resist
I need to hide away from the pain
There’s something out there
I can’t resist

The sweetest song is silence
That I’ve ever heard
Funny how your feet
In dreams never touch the earth
In a wood full of princes
Freedom is a kiss
But the prince hides his face
From dreams in the mist

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away

Songwriters

Read more: Heart – These Dreams Lyrics | MetroLyrics

(No) Doubt… Anymore!

via Daily Prompt: Doubt

I’m trying on the power of positivity!

This morning I was notified that it is my one year anniversary of this blog! I knew it was coming up, but not this fast… I was kind of…astounded. A whole year? Granted, this year has both flown by and drug on and on and on.

I’m posting under today’s word of the day, doubt because honestly? I doubted I’d stay with it this long. I’ve started several blogs, four, I think. I never posted more than once or twice before I either deleted my account or just abandoned it all together.

When I started WerdyNerdyNDirty, I had a vision of a simple extension of my somewhat offbeat, quirky personality and life. It was a good two months. Full of drive and deadlines (I’d given myself but still…) I found that instead of dreading my blog, I was more creative, less inhibited and basically “got over” my need for every word to be perfect. I used to be so caught up, thinking it had to come out organically inspirational or funny. There wasn’t room for editing. “Go big or go home” right? Not that there is anything wrong with going home, I was just tired of it. Tired of my rigid expectations…

It was mainly thanks to my writing teacher, Roxanne Sadovsky and our Friday morning groups that helped me to get over myself. Learn it’s ok to be raw, or even just be.

I couldn’t very well call myself a writer if I wasn’t writing. And I longed to write. I missed it. I’ve had a lot of fun writing for you and I know that I’ll be able to get better, the more I do it and it’ll be fun to look back in a few years to see how I’ve developed as a writer. I’m sure there’ll be quite a difference.

I been writing for this blog for a month and a half when I lost Noah. Blogging help me through it. As painful as it was to share and process, I’m sure it was an integral part of my process. A month and a half after that, we lost my sister Natalie.

Typing that last sentence still brings the sting of the tears. It’s so fitting that she LOVED the movie Alice in Wonderland (she even got married on the date printed on the Mad Hatters hat, 10/6!) because I feel like I’ve been free falling down the rabbit hole since May 19th. Prior to her death, the most devastating loss had been my grandma on Christmas Eve, 2009. Oh my God, I didn’t think I’d ever get over that. It took me years before I stopped having that dream where she was just on vacation. It was all a mistake. She was going to be so upset when she came home to find it had been sold while she was away…

I don’t really want to compare the two losses, there’s not really even a way. I never expected to lose my sister. My little sister. The light and the joy of so many people’s lives. Even knowing she’d relapsed, being the one telling her she was going to die if she didn’t cut it out… there was no way to prepare. A lot of days, it still feels like a brand new shock. Realizing it’s coming up on a year, it feels like a brand new level of Hell. Time is passing, life is going on, for others but somehow…I’m stuck. It’s still so fresh. People tell me “it gets better”, some tell me “it never gets easier” or “you’ll find a new normal”… I sure as shit hope “this” isn’t the new normal.

At least I think people have stopped telling me, for the most part, that “she’s in any pain. She’s in a better place” etc because hopefully they realized by telling me this, it made me think “I don’t want to be in pain. I want to be in a better place. I want to join her.” And then a timely quote literally fell into my lap. I dropped my phone and when I picked it up, it said “suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just gives it to someone else”. I don’t wish this kind of pain on anyone. So I write. And I cry. And I listen to her music. I try to take one day at a time, careful not to sleep through too many in a row and miss out on all the beauty that still surrounds us.

Wow, as we say in our family “that took a turn”. Meant to write about self-doubt and creativity… I guess this all applies. It’s given me purpose and direction. I hear that it helps other people too which is just icing on the cake. I hear Cheryl Strayed talk about how her mother’s death, as horrible as it was to lose her, made her a better person. As much as I don’t want to be a better person because of Natalie’s death, it would be much worse to stay the same.

I want to be an advocate and help others, I’m not sure I can do that just yet or what it will look like when I do get involved but I’ll keep y’all in the loop, no doubt about it.