September 10, 2012


Squam’s Facebook fan page posted this old article from the winter about having anxiety about attending and I’d read it before, but I didn’t read the comments until now. The very first commenter made reference to having a “mind/body/health crisis” that she was only “untangling” now.

And I thought about that for a little while and I did a lot of blinking and I realized that “untangled” is exactly how I feel these days. I mean, aside from being fucking petrified about going to Squam. Like, lifewise I feel finally untangled. All my medical crap is finally DONE. My 14 months of hell are OVER. And even before I got sick, my life was like a snowball rolling down a hill going faster and faster and getting bigger and bulkier by the minute and I knew I was going to crash at any moment. Right before I got sick, I basically begged my boss for a week off in the summer because I was so stressed out. But at the time, there were only two of us doing our job (plus our boss) so taking time off was pretty much impossible. And then I got sick. Really sick.

I often wonder if the pancreatitis that came out of nowhere happened because my body couldn’t deal with all that stress. The doctors and Blake and my mom and everyone keep telling me there was no reason for it to have happened, the usual reasons didn’t apply to me at all, it was just pure fluke, but still, I wonder.

Losing my mind to psychosis and being put in a psych ward made me stop believing in God. It made me think that “God” was just a delusion. Because for me God WAS a delusion. My psychosis was largely religious (and I’m not, nor have I ever been, religious), I thought God was speaking to me and telling me to say and do things. I thought I was having a religious experience and I was trying desperately to share it with Blake, to show him that God was real. But the drugs they gave me in the hospital, and the drugs that I take to this day, keep “God” at bay. Because God was a delusion.

But then when I got sick, and the way it happened, it made me wonder about God all over again. They say God only gives you what you can handle and obviously I couldn’t handle a full-time job since I was stressed to the gills, so if I were a religious person, I might think that God made me sick to force me to take a break and re-evaluate my life. My brain (that IS capable of understanding logic, despite popular belief) knows this isn’t true and that the world doesn’t work that way, but I grew up not religious, but not believing in coincidence so it’s been really hard for me to accept the fact that this was fluke. That this just happened for no reason. I also grew up thinking there was a reason for everything and as an adult, it’s been extremely difficult to curb these kinds of thoughts. I think it’s because I want there to be a reason for everything. I want there to be a higher power or several. I also want there to be fairies and yetis though, so there’s that. (And oddly, I absolutely, 100% believe in both despite a distinct lack of physical evidence of either. Fairies are smart enough not to leave a trace because duh, they’re MAGIC and as for yetis, well, it’s a big world that we’ve only really begun to explore it. Scientists find new species of birds and lizards and fish and animals all the time.)

Anne Rice has me pretty convinced that werewolves are also entirely possible. I just finished reading The Wolf Gift, which I loved. I dreaded reading it because werewolves are cheesy, but Anne Rice’s are dignified yet completely animalistic. And cannibalistic! Anyway, it was classic Anne and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended! My only beef with it…well, I can’t really say unless I get spoilery. There’s a couple of gay characters in the story and they and their relationship is such a stereotype that I just rolled my eyes and thought, “Anne, you can do so much better than that!”. (I’m talking about Stuart and Margon, for those who have read it.) But whatever, it’s such a minor complaint that it doesn’t even matter and I’m eager to read the next installment of the series. I actually hope she writes these characters as long as she did Lestat. (Blake is listening to the Vampire Chronicles on audiobook right now. He just finished The Vampire Lestat. Mostly I wanted him to read them because the last two books of the series, Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle are so fucking good. She ended the series so beautifully that I bawled my face off, especially knowing the “behind the scenes” stuff about her and her husband. I’m also going to make Blake read the Mayfair Trilogy before the Mayfairs are introduced into the Vampire Chronicles. He has a LOT of reading to do!)

Wow did I ever stray off topic…

Anyway, I feel like the last 14 months have been a total mess, choppy waters, and now it’s smooth sailing. Maybe I shouldn’t speak so soon because as soon as you say something like that, disaster strikes, right? Well, if I can survive pancreatitis and all that came with it, I’m fairly confident that I could survive anything. Bad things may not be easy and they may take some time to deal with, but in the end, I truly feel you’re stronger for it. These days, while terrified of Squam, I feel like I can do anything. Today I almost went to the post office with Madison, even. (But there was no point in going because the Free People box that’s waiting for me there is too big to carry home with even the two of us so Blake’s going to try and get out of work early enough to make it home in time before the post office closes. Thanks Charlie!)

I just feel like when we went to the beach on Labour Day, it was like hitting the “reset” button on life. I felt so at peace when we were there, it felt so natural. Life was finally normal. Yeah, I’ve got this gigantic scar to remind me of what happened and I’m going to have a tummy bulge for the rest of my life because they couldn’t fix my guts completely, but I’m okay with both of those things. A little self conscious about the bulge because it looks like I’m maybe 4 months pregnant if you look at me from the side, but so what? Let people think what they want, no fucks will be given. After spending so much time in hospitals, you kind of value your dignity a little less. A nurse had to clean up my shit when I lost bowel control in the shower due to the fact that they’d just removed the catheter and poo bag after nearly 2 months of it being in place. This is what I mean by a loss of dignity or maybe not even a loss per se but you just value it less. It’s not like I can help this bulge, it’s not like I ate too many Cheddar Cheese Pretzel Combos* and I’m fat as a result. So why should I care if people think I’m fat or pregnant? And it’s not like I can tell people in a sentence what happened to me to make me like this either so there’s no point in trying to explain so my only choice is to let them think what they’re going to think and go about my business.

While I’m terrified of Squam, I’m excited too. I get to wear the fingerless gloves I bought on Etsy! And not feel self-conscious about them because everyone else will be wearing them too! (They are basically a Squam necessity, I’m told.) I get to maybe go swimming with Belinda. The weather looks good, but maybe not hot enough for swimming. But if it is, I’m bringing my turquoise bikini and showing the world my scar. Maybe. (I’ll bring it but I might chicken out and just wear a tank top and bikini bottoms like I did at the beach.) And I get to hang out with BELINDA!!!! One of my very best friends who I tell practically everything and have for the past 10 years, yet we’ve never met in person. And I’m pretty sure my mom’s going to like her too because I think it’s pretty impossible NOT to like her. My mom’s already insisted that she and her boyfriend, Brian, come to dinner with us on Saturday when dinner’s not provided at the camp. And I have enough money that I feel secure being 10 hours from home. And I have a friend in Vermont who has told me that if there are ANY problems whatsoever, she can come get me in a heartbeat. And I know that if, for some reason, I got stranded, between Blake and Charlie, I’d find a way home. Blake wanted me to go to Squam so bad that he was willing to drive me there and sleep in the car on the side of the road the whole time I was there (because it’s like, $800 or something to go to Squam and sleep there but not take any classes). Luckily my mom was down for adventure.

And yeah, I’m pretty scared the car ride with my mother is going to be hell. We have a looooong history of not getting along and she gets mad at me so easily and when she gets mad at me I cry and can’t deal. Because as easily as she gets mad, that’s how easily I cry. Fuck, I’m crying right now just thinking about it. The bottom of my stomach dropped out and now I’m reaching for the Ativan because I just cannot even cope with the possibility of that scenario without Blake there to mediate. People have told me to sleep or have headphones on (I don’t have an iPod so that wouldn’t work anyway) and basically ignore her but it’s a 10 hour car ride so that’s not even practical and she’s my mother, we’re supposed to be doing this together, I’m not going to sit there and ignore her for 10 hours. Plus I love the crap out of her and when we do get along, we get along REALLY well. So I’m just hoping neither of us trigger the other. I think that’s an impossible dream, personally, because it happens pretty much every time we’re together now. The further we get from me being sick and the closer we get to things being “normal”, the more ready to be volatile and jump my shit she’s become. I think my fears of a terrible car ride are not unfounded. My only hope is that she’s in a totally positive headspace and is excited about our adventure and that that overshadows any negativity she may point in my direction. And I’m going to try to do the same. Like I said, I’m trying REALLY REALLY FUCKING HARD to go into this without expectation, to not pre-judge the experience or the people I’m experiencing it with, and to just – as my mother has said since I was little – “trust and allow”. That is my mantra.

I’m also trying really hard to just let myself fuck up. I’m not so much scared of my photography class. The only thing that scares me about that class is the portrait and that there won’t be anything to photograph. We’re going to be in the woods. Where there are trees and pine needles and too many of us being noisy for there to be any significant wildlife. I’m hoping my artist’s eye will see more but right now I’m full of doubt. I like taking pictures of people but I’m scared of strangers. And I don’t want people taking pictures of me, so I can’t really be a hypocrite and take pictures of other people. Anyway I’m not scared of that class. I’m looking forward to it. My fears with this one are so minor that they just don’t even matter, it’s my SECOND day’s class that scares the ever-living fuck out of me because I’m going to create things I don’t like or I’m not proud of. I just know it. That class is not a class where you’re there to show off what you already know, you’re there to learn what you don’t and then throw it on the canvas (well, gessoboard). I don’t like experiments. I throw those in the garbage or paint over them, on the rare occasion that I actually DO experiment, which isn’t very often. I don’t do anything unless I’m fairly confident in knowing what the end result will be. I’m not a risk-taker.  And I need to get over that. I really really do. I’ve written before about my art supplies being “precious” and how that’s a bad thing because it holds me back and this is a prime example of where that kind of thinking would be pretty toxic. That’s partially why the only thing I’m bringing with me for that class from my “old bag of tricks” is crackle medium, which I doubt I’ll even be able to use because it takes too much time to dry, and all of my glitter.

And then I have this crazy, stupid irrational fear that’s been plaguing me for the last 2 weeks or so: what if I love it? What if I love it so much I want to go next year? And the thing is, I can’t go next year. I can’t afford to. And I don’t want to ask for donations again to make this a yearly thing because I’m not sure that’s ethical. I mean, I don’t think it’s terrible to want to make money from my blog and then use that money to fund Squam, but I don’t want to beg to do it, which is what it feels like, and I can’t think of any other way. The cost of Squam is over 4 months of my personal income without buying anything else and that’s not even considering expenses like food and general incidentals and “get yourself out of shit” money. So I have this Negative Nancy in my head saying, “Don’t go because you’ll have a good time and then you won’t be able to do it again and then you’ll feel like shit. Might as well stay home and save yourself the grief.” I’m not sure what to do about that. I mean, I’m definitely going of course, but I don’t know what to do about this negative self talk.

And I’m scared for after Squam. As much as I feel like right now is a new beginning where I get to start my life over from scratch, I’m terrified of what comes after Squam because what comes after is immersion therapy with Rick, who I don’t like already because he stares at me and makes me feel uncomfortable. I’ve only met the guy once, but that was my first impression. The goal of immersion therapy is to be able to take a cab from my house, all by myself, to the mental health centre in Midland (20 mins away) to take a cognitive behavioural therapy course once a week for probably 8 or 10 weeks, and then take a cab home. I don’t know how in the hell he plans on accomplishing this but that’s the plan. And I would like to be able to walk into town and go into stores and go to the post office. And maybe even one day I could drive to Barrie or the beach all by myself. (The beach would be more realistic because it’s closer and you take back roads.) But that’s a long way off. I mean, right now I can’t even leave my house by myself or even with the kids so I dunno. I haven’t really been anywhere by myself except for horrific attempts at self immersion therapy that just made my agoraphobia worse in like, 8 or 9 years.

Now I’m feeling tangled. :o(

I better stop writing before I go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. As together as I feel I am, I’m teetering on the brink of absolutely falling apart. And I can’t do that. I just can’t.

(*I am completely obsessed with these and have them for breakfast and dinner a LOT. I’ve cleared out our whole town of that flavour, all of Barrie [that we know of] and Wasaga Beach.)


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  1. scutterman says:

    Out of everything that went through my head as I read this, probably the only thing worth typing out is this:
    Asking for donations is just that. Asking. It’s not begging, or ordering people to pay out. If you ask for a donation and people want to / are able to donate, then they will. If they don’t want to donate, then they won’t.
    Personally speaking, if you start a Squam fund next year I’ll probably donate, even if it’s only a small donation.

    • Sunny says:

      Well thanks. :o) I guess we’ll see how the week goes and if it’s a good experience, I’ll start fundraising as soon as I get home so I have money in time for the deadlines.

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