Just a Clown

watercolor profile

“My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear with my mouth.” -Modest Mouse

*****

Every morning is the same. I put on my bright red nose, paint my face, lace up my oversized combat boots, and clamor into my impossibly small car. Knees resting on the dash. My commute gives me time to rehearse my lines, practice my smile. The makeup irritates my skin but the plus side is it perfectly conceals a tearstained face. The sunshine plays off my flashy standard issue polyester jumpsuit which has elastic bands at the neck, wrists, and ankles. Somehow the elastic doesn’t have very much give and as a result this design element constricts my circulation making me feel trapped and lightheaded.

My boss, the bearded lady wants me to reconsider the high wire act. Says it was a once in a life time malfunction. Won’t ever happen again. Her words are empty. She doesn’t care about me. Her bottom line is the show. Fill the seats. Do what it takes. If not, step aside because there are others eagerly awaiting the chance to walk out on that wire. High above the disgruntled big cats, over the artists juggling various flaming objects, near the show-off contortionists continually bending folding transforming themselves into something else entirely. I’m just a clown.

But I suppose acrophobia is my super power now. That’s how my doctor refers to my extreme fear of heights, acrophobia. When you’re an acrobat it’s harder to appreciate that play on words. I wasn’t always this way. I developed this intense fear after that incident when the wire snapped and I free fell. The act itself of falling was quite peaceful although alarming as it was unexpected. The landing, I imagine was rough I don’t recall that part.

On my way back to the big top and the thought of possibly having to teeter on that wire once again brings on a new wave of panic. I turn up the radio to drown out my thoughts.

“Why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?

Walk a little farther to another plan.
You said that you did, but you didn’t understand.

I know that starting over is not what life’s all about.
But my thoughts were so loud, I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud, I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud.” -The World at Large, Modest Mouse

 

Caution: Instability Ahead

I’m afraid to write this. But I think that’s why I need to.

At this time last year when the azaleas were blooming and the days were getting a bit longer I didn’t notice. I could not stop crying. I could not eat. I could not sleep at night but I also couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I fantasized about going to sleep and not waking up. When I was really desperate I thought about driving my car at top speed off the freeway and into the river. I seriously could not get the song Crazy Train out of my head,

“Mental wounds not healing, life’s a bitter shame, I’m going off the rails on a crazy train…”

My work suffered, my family suffered helplessly watching me slip away. “Mommy don’t be sad. Mommy cry?” my sweet daughter in her limited vocabulary was trying to find the words to understand:

Oliva 2

On her 2nd birthday I finally fell apart. My dear husband could not watch any longer and gave me the encouragement I needed to make a phone call and ask for help.

Why am I writing about this? I guess it’s been on my mind because my daughter’s birthday is coming up. Last year instead of planning a birthday party I was making arrangements to attend an intensive outpatient program, doctor’s orders.

The azaleas are in bloom again. The days are getting a bit longer. And this time I’m happy to be around to notice.

I wrote a little bit more about this experience here if you’re interested: Rogue Waves.

For more about how you can help yourself or a loved one here’s an online resource: Support Alliance.

In Self Defense

I fastened the sun to my head for this shot.
I fastened the sun to my head for this shot.

“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

-Frida Kahlo

I’m new to the DailyPost Weekly Challenges and I regret that it’s taken me this long to find them. It amazes me how sometimes all it takes is one simple word along with the command to “show readers your interpretation” and suddenly the fog of writers block lifts, my thoughts take flight like a dove release. So my first order of business today is to thank the beautiful minds behind the DailyPost. I appreciate the wealth of inspiration!

The most recent challenge posted involves the “Selfie,” you could almost hear a collective groan from the WordPress community. Why is the reaction to selfies or “self portraits” as Frida called them so visceral? A simple 7 letter word moved more than a few writers to ignite their torches and circle the wagons it would seem. I frequently write from my own perspective. Illustrating what the world looks like from where I stand. How is that any different from a photograph of myself? If maintaining a blog makes me guilty of being a selfie then so be it. I’ve been called worse. I’m not saying it’s easy or natural.

I’ve been in treatment and have been instructed to trade in my self-loathing for some self-compassion to improve my emotional well-being. In the process I’ve realized that I would never treat a stranger the way I do myself at times. I’ve been learning to appreciate who I am faults and all. It’s in that spirit that I post my selfie.

I challenge you to do the same. I’ll even sweeten the deal for you. Post a selfie on your blog before next Sunday, February 16th and I’ll treat 3 winners at random to a cup of coffee, don’t worry you don’t have to drink it with me. I’ll give you a $10.00 Starbucks gift card via email. If your beverage of choice is stronger than coffee, you might prefer the $10.00 itunes gift card option via your email inbox instead. The choice is yours. And yes dear reader you are worth so much more than $10.00! But this is a blog by your average Jane, not Oprah.

So there’s the deal. I encourage you to show yourself. I need to know it’s okay to live in a world where we like ourselves. I want my daughter to grow up with a sense of self worth and confidence so that others will hold her in the same regard. Help me show her it’s okay to be in our own corner. Because if we aren’t in our own corner, how can we expect others to be?

Want to play? Here’s how:

  1. Take a picture of your beautiful self, head-shots only please. I wish to maintain G-rated content here as this blog is a tribute to my toddler.
  2. Post a comment leaving a link to your entry. Please do specify that you want to be entered to win. Pingbacks alone without confirmation that you want to participate will not be considered.
  3. Tag your post with: SquareOneSelfie
  4. Link back to this post so that others can participate.

I will announce the winners and post their entries on Monday February 17th.