Penthouse at the Asylum

My Crazy Little World

The Power of Words
The boy and I were talking a few hours ago and he said, "You are a wonderful woman." I already forgot what the conversation was about, but damn if those words didn't hit me. If anyone else said it, or if someone else told me that someone said that to them I would think it was cheesy. But, tonight, from him, it really touched me.

He is always sweet and kind and affectionate, but every once in awhile he throws something like that out there and it just makes my knees weak.

Mother's Day Review
My Mother's Day turned out pretty well. My folks kept Chicken Saturday night so I could go out with some friends. Woke up late (9am) Sunday morning, went to grab some coffee and she was home when I got back. She gave me all my gifts: A few projects she made in school, which I always take to the office with me. I'm kind of anal about the decor in the house, so anything handmade goes to work with me, which she is ok with. She got me some great earrings that my mom said she spent about a half hour picking out, Reeses Peanut Butter cups and a digital photo frame keychain which my dad loaded with photos of her. She helped me clean the garage and do some yardwork and then we went to my folks house to help my mom in her garden. Chicken started to get a bit cranky there and received a few time-outs while there. Once we got home she wanted to go for a bike ride but by that time the pain from the cysts had gotten the best of me and I was in some incredible pain, along with being doped up on painkillers. There was a lot of whining and, "You're so mean" being thrown around. By the time she went to bed, I'd forgotten that most of our day had been pleasant and was feeling pretty let down by Mother's Day. Until I went to check on her before I went to bed. She'd fallen asleep with a stack of books on her chest which was pretty cute. Also, she has a dry erase board in her bedroom and had propped it at the foot of her bed. She drew a picture of flowers and wrote: Happy mother day mommy. I love you vry mcuh! Love, Chicken. Also, PEACE OUT!

Totally made up for the cranky!

Letter to my Mother
Dear Mom,

I never know where to begin these. Do I thank you for always being there? "Thanks" isn't enough. There aren't enough words to express my gratitude to you. You are the most amazing mother I know. Growing up, I didn't always like the choices you made for me, the rules you set, the way I was raised, I disagreed with a number of things. But, now, as a mother myself and closing in on thirty, I can truly appreciate everything.

The love you have for me (for all of your children), amazes me. There are no limits to it. You and I both know that I tried to push those limits many, many times over the years, but I never seemed to cross that line. There was nothing I could do that lessened your love for me. I know there were times that you didn't like me very much, but I know that you have always loved me.

Now that I have a daughter of my own, one who is very much like I was as a child, I respect you even more. She pushes my buttons on a daily basis and I often wonder how you never lost your cool with me like I find myself doing often with her. Maybe it's because you and I are not alike. Perhaps the reason I so often get frustrated with her is because her and I are so much alike.

At nearly thirty, you still haven't stopped raising me. You are still there, guiding me, assisting me, loving me and caring for me (as well as my daughter). It amazes me that you are still so willing to give. To this day, when something goes wrong, I find myself thinking, "I want my mommy." Of course, I turn to you much less often than I used to, but I know that I can come to you with anything. I know that even though you don't approve of things I do, of choices I make, that you still support me, you don't judge me. That has always meant the world to me.

At 6, when I fell off my first two-wheeler, you carried me home. You sat me in the tub and tended to all the cuts I obtained from falling into a pricker bush. You told me that I wasn't a bad rider, that it was the bikes fault. The bike was bad you told me. You cleaned the wounds and bandaged them all up while singing soft and sweet under your breath. You rocked me to sleep that night when I couldn't get comfortable in bed.

At 14, when I became the raging teenager diagnosed as being Bi-Polar/borderline Manic, you were there. Your love was there as I screamed in your face about how much I hated you, about how I wished you would die. Your love was there when I pulled a knife on you and Dad, and you were concerned for me when he tackled me to the ground, afraid, even though I had just threatened the both of you, that I was going to get hurt. Your love was there when I shoved you, slammed the door in your face, kicked holes in the wall and broke things. It never waivered. You suffered many silent car rides to take me to and from therapy appointments. You dealt with my anger when I got upset because you insisted that you had to watch me take my medication, even forcing me to open my mouth and prove I had swallowed it. You dealt with this all for three long years until finally, finally, I leveled out.

At 21, when I became pregnant, you supported my choice to have the baby. You were raised Catholic, and I think somewhere this went against your beliefs, but I am your daughter, and the baby was your grandchild, you didn't question me for a second. You didn't judge me for getting pregnant when I wasn't even in a relationship. You didn't yell at me about being irresponsible when I told you that I'd simply had too much tequila and the condoms seemed too far away. You told me the baby and I would stay with you and Dad as long as we needed to. That you would be with me every step of the way. I would never have admitted it, but I was terrified. You were there for doctor appointments, ultrasounds, and the entire four months I was on bedrest. You were there when she was born to help me sort out the long nights. To come take her from me so I could get some sleep. You were there to move her into your room because I told you I couldn't sleep while she slept because I was convinced if I didn't watch her, she would stop breathing. You assured me that you would stay up and watch. I know you didn't, I know you wheeled the bassinet into your room, snuggled her down and fell asleep yourself. But you lifted that weight from me. You were there while I went through post-partum depression, again, lifting some responsibility from me. Waking with her in the middle of the night, because you knew that the sound of her cries at 2am did nothing but send me over the edge. You did it for me, and for her. I am eternally grateful for that. She is an amazing little girl, and I owe a lot of that to you.

At 26, when I decided to end my engagement, you were there. The dress was bought, invitations ordered, the wedding was entirely paid for. I came to you crying, telling you that I didn't think I could go through with it. You told me, "I wondered when you would realize that." My concern was the money, so much money already spent that could not be refunded. You shrugged it off. I swore I would repay you, and you refused. You told me I would have to help out with the next one. You told me that, above all, my happiness was the most important. That you didn't want me to marry him simply because I felt like I would be wasting your money. You said you would rathar see me call off the wedding than go through a divorce in a few years. And you have been there for the past four years to run interference between him and I, because of my daughter. There are times when speaking to him makes me so angry that I want never to have to deal with him. That's when you step in for a few months to set the pick up and drop off times. You do it for me, for him and for her. I love you so much for that.

At 27, I called you and told you I had the flu. I asked you if you could pick her up from school for me and keep her overnight. You arrived early, with saltine crackers and ginger ale. You sat on the couch with me, rubbed my back for a minute or two and then asked, "How far along are you?" I broke down into sobs. I was embarrassed, hurt and confused. I asked you how you knew, and you told me that you know me better than I think. Nothing could be more true. I told you that I had to keep the baby, that as pro-choice as I am, after already having a child, there was no way I could go through with an abortion. You told me, we will do what we can to help you. You kissed my forehead, told me to call you if I needed anything, and left to pick up my daughter. Months later, you were there for me in the waiting room while the doctors confirmed that I had miscarried. I walked out of that room so deeply hurt, saddened and destroyed. You stood up and embraced me. I told you, "I feel so empty. I don't know how to get through this." You kissed my cheek and told me, "I will help you however I can." You drove me home and kept my daughter in your care for a week while I lay, nearly comatose, on the couch at home. Wanting nothing to do with anyone or anything. You wanted to help me through it so badly, but you didn't know how, and I didn't know how. I still haven't gotten through it.

At 27, again, you dealt with possibly one of the worst things you have ever been through. I was so saddened and distraught from the miscarriage, so convinced that losing the baby meant I was a failure. I had convinced myself that I wasn't a good mother, daughter, sister, friend or person. I tried to kill myself. Somehow you found the strength to take the reigns, again. You knew I would hate it, but you had me checked into the psychiatric ward. I was there for over a week, on suicide watch. You visited me every day. I don't know how you did. Or why, after the first visit when I told you: "I hate you. This is YOUR fault. It is YOUR fault I'm here. Fucking leave. Don't bother fucking coming back. Are you HAPPY NOW?!", you continued to come. Every day for an hour (the allowed time), you sat there with me. You didn't care when I yelled at you, or ignored you, you sat there. You told me later, "That's what a mother does." As strong as I believe I am, I don't think I will ever be as strong as you. It amazes me that when I was young I used to think you were so weak. You are anything but.

You are here for me now, as I go through this medical scare. Praying for me, helping me, supporting me any way you can. Assuring me that when I have my surgery in a few weeks and am unable to drive for three weeks, return to work for six, that you will do my laundry, clean my house, help with my daughter, grocery shop. You will do everything so all I have to do is lay on the couch and heal.

Mom, I can never, ever tell you how much I love you. I can only tell you that you are amazing. You are everything I hope to be. If I could be half as good as a mother that you are, that would be enough for me. You continue to shock me with the strength that you have, the love that you possess for all of us. Dad, your four children, your four grandchildren, you love us all completely, without question.

Thank you for never giving up on love. Thank you for never giving up on me.

I need you more than you know.

The Dreams Won't Stop
I fought off sleep as long as I could last night, finally giving in around 3am knowing that my 6am wake up was going to be horrible. I figured if I was that exhausted that I would sleep too deeply for anyone to enter my dreams. I was wrong. She was there. Again. Always. Her and her chubby little hands grasping mine; her soft, downey hair tickling my cheek as she curls up under my chin; the weight of her body feeling so right in my arms. She is beauiful and amazing. She is mine. Why do I dream of her this way, when she never got to become anything like this? Why do the dreams seem so real that I wake in a sweat filled panic wondering when I realize my arms are empty and I wonder where I've lost her?

Texting Mishaps
The boy and I send a lot of texts to eachother. For for of us, it's the easiest communication throughout the day. He works a construction job, and I am the sole person in my office. Sometimes the are tame like, "How's your day going babe?" Other times, they are pretty much written foreplay. If he's having a particularly bad day, I will send him a dirty thought, a picture or a video to give him a nice surprise. He does the same.

Lately our phones have been in total hate with eachother. He will call me and his call gets "rejected". I call him and the phone rings on my end, but not on his. The other day, he had a missed call from me and calling me back should have been as simple as hitting "connect", but when he did that, he found himself talking to someone who wasn't me.

I've been getting a ton of missed calls from strange numbers and even voicemails from people I don't know. Even though my voicemail CLEARLY states my full name. Things that make you go hmmm.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

The other day I called him because I was completely stressed out at work. We had a quick conversation but a few hours later he called me. This is pretty much the conversation:

The Boy: Babe, you are NOT going to believe what just happened.
Me: You were thinking about how amazing I am, and had to call me?
TB: No. I mean, yes, but...HOLY SHIT!
Me: What?
TB: I sent you a pic to help with your day.
Me: Really? I didn't get it.

Apparently he'd sent it to ME, but someone else ended up getting it. So he got a text back with a "Nice pic, but who the hell is this?"


Three Years
We have been together for three years now babe. I know it hasn't all been pretty, and that these last few months I've been a bit much to take, but you have taken it all in stride. I always say I couldn't love you more than I already do, but then I prove myself wrong. I love you more every day. Thank you for loving me the way you do.

About What Was Lost
Oddly enough, the day after I wrote my previous post, I found myself out shopping with my mom. I was already beginning to count down the days until the second birthday of the child I lost. She would have turned two on June 25. Stumbling through the store, trying to help myself with some retail therapy, I came across a book. The picture of daffidols initially caught my eye, but then I read the title:
About What Was Lost: 20 Writers on Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope I hugged it to me. Refusing to set in the shopping cart. I didn't want my mom to know that I was buying this book. I didn't want her to know that I still struggle with the loss of the baby. For the most part, I don't want anyone to know. It's mentioned every once in a while, and I shrug it off. I pretend that I'm over it. When the reality is, if I allow myself to think of it too much, the pain is crippling, the guilt is blinding and I will find myself on my knees, unable to get back on my feet for days. The pain is all consuming.

Since the miscarriage I have felt alone. None of my friends have had miscarriages. No one could relate. My sister-in-law had had one a few years before, so I thought perhaps I could find some comfort in speaking to her. But she was one of the women who was fortunate enough to get pregnant almost immediately after her miscarriage. There was no comfort in speaking to her. She wasn't affected by the miscarriage, she was one who felt, "These things happen for a reason". I found no comfort in that saying. Nothing anyone said made me feel better. It didn't help when someone said, "These things happen for a reason", or "It's natures way of telling you this baby wasn't meant to be. That something would have gone wrong." I wanted someone to tell me that it was ok to be upset. That my feelings weren't petty. But I was made to feel like they were. Granted, I wasn't that far along, not out of my first trimester, but it still hurt. I still LOST. And I blamed the hell out of myself. No one could (or can) convince me that it wasn't my fault. My job, as a mother, is to protect my children from day one. And I failed at that.

I picked up the book last night, meaning only to read a few entries. Hours later, I found I had devoured the entire book from cover to cover. It didn't make me feel better, it didn't take away any of the pain, but it did make me feel less alone. I read these stories written by amazing women that I have never met and I felt close to them. I felt their pain along with them. These women gave my pain a voice, and for that I am grateful. I idenitified so deeply to one woman who said, "The baby wasn't a person to anyone but me." That is the hardest part for me. I feel like this is my loss alone. Had the baby been born and (God forbid), something had happened, that baby would have been a person to everyone. But, as I was the only one to know the baby, I was alone in my grief.

Nearly every woman touched on the fact that it is believed that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. After reading that a few times, I got to thinking about my previous post. About how four of us in the neighborhood were pregnant at the same time. I guess we proved that statisic correct. Out of four of us, only three went on to carry their pregnancies to term. I was the fourth. I was the lost one. I realized that it could have been any one of us. And I got to wondering, "Why was it me?" But then I got to thinking that as much as I hate that it was me, as much as it hurts, I wouldn't have wanted it to be any of them either. I wouldn't want them to have been the lost one. I wouldn't want them to know this grief, to feel this pain. To feel, when the four of us are together (they with their toddlers, me without mine), like the odd mom out. But, in reading further in the book, I got to thinking, maybe they do know this pain and grief. It seems that women who miscarry are in a secret group. That no one speaks of it until they find someone else going through it and then we come out of the woodwork. But then I thought again, "Would I have wanted it to be one of them?" The answer was still no. But, also, yes. I didn't want them to feel my pain, but I didn't want to feel it either. I wanted to hand it over to someone else to have. I couldn't deal with it. I didn't deal with it.

The resounding advice seems to be, "Try again. Get pregnant again and you will begin to heal." For most of these women, that was possible. I'm not saying it's not possible for me to get pregnant, but I will never be pregnant with his child again. The reality of that nearly destroys me. So I sit here in silence. Alone with my pain. Not sure where to turn or what to say. He and I are still together, but I can't talk to him about it. I feel like the pain is mine alone to carry. The effort of carrying it alone is daunting, exhausting and, at times debilitating. There are days when I think of her and I get through the day in minutes, in small directions issued to myself: Get out of bed; take a shower; try to eat something; drive to work; etc. Which is fine I suppose, but not when you have a child to care for. I find myself neglecting her. Instructing her to go out to play, to get her own snack, to be quiet so I can rest.

I know, if I wanted, I could speak to him about it. That he would listen. Two things prevent me from doing this. For one, I don't know what to say. I want to be able to say, "I miss her", and have that be enough for him to really know what I mean. For two, he and I do not feel the same. He was relieved. He didn't say it, but I could hear it in his voice. Seeing as how when I told him I was pregnant, he said he thought I should have an abortion. So, when I miscarried, his relief was expected. Expected, but still a slap in the face.

I lost her in November of 2006. For thirty months I have been apologizing to her. For thirty months I have been trying to figure out where she is. I don't believe in heaven, but I also don't believe that we just disappear into the ether. So...where is she? Where is my baby? When does the pain ease? I would think that after this long, it would lessen. It hasn't. The grief is there, as present as it was from day one. If I sit too long, if I think about it too much, the grief will swallow me. If I am honest, sometimes I want it to. Sometimes I want the darkness to wash over me, to wrap it's vicious arms around me and drag me through the trenches. Because when I am there, when I am that consumed with the pain and the grief, that is when I feel closest to her.

When will I let myself off the hook? Also, how do I do it?

Mommy in the Middle
My miscarriage in November of 2006 really messed me up. What made it more difficult is that the two women across the street from me (and one just up the road) got pregnant around the same time. It was so hard for me to watch their pregnancies progress. They are both wonderful women, and I enjoy being around them. But I found myself withdrawing from them. Instead of going over to pick up my daughter when it was time for her to come home, I would call to have them send her. If I had a question about neighborhood gossip (and there is quite a bit of it in this…interesting neighborhood), I would again make a phone call. This saved me from having to see them frequently, but in some of those conversations, they would mention how sick they felt, or “OH! I just felt the baby kick!” It was so hard. As much as I enjoy their company, the fact that they were pregnant was starting to make me angry. In their defense, they had no idea. They didn’t know that I was pregnant, they didn’t know that I miscarried. They didn’t know that hearing about their pregnancies was destroying me. That after a conversation about doctor appointments, or first kicks, or morning sickness, I would hang up the phone and cry. Had they known, I know they would have been there for me. That they would have been sympathetic and not discussed it as much with me. The day my baby would have been born, I spent holed up in my house with my boyfriend, drinking and crying. He didn’t know what to do, but he was there. He was there to pour me another drink, rub my shoulders, hold me while I cried. He was there to listen to me beat myself up and to try and convince me that it wasn’t my fault. When their babies were born shortly after this day, I wanted to be happy for them, but I found it hard to do. I bought them all gifts, but made my daughter deliver them. I then proceeded to withdraw from them further. If I had thought witnessing their pregnancies was hard, then, by comparison, seeing the babies was unbearable. It was an in-my-face reminder of what I was missing. I would see them all walking together, bonded by having given birth so close together. One was a new mom, but for the other two, this was their third. I would be driving home and see them walking side by side, pushing strollers and chatting. They would smile and wave at me, and as I waved back, all I could think was, “It could have been the four of us.” It still could have been, they asked me to join them any number of times, but I always turned them down. It was too much. Three precious babies, three moms, and I would have given anything to have had the fourth, to have been the fourth. One of my neighbors invited me to her sons first birthday. I decided to swallow the pain and be a part of it. It was awful. I found myself standing with the dads more often than with the mothers because they didn’t talk about the child (and they had the beer). When it was time to sing “Happy Birthday” and watch the birthday boy blow out his candles, I made up an excuse to have to pop back home for a moment. I walked into the comfort of my home, shut the door, and cried. After pulling myself back together, I went back and made it through the rest of the celebration.

Yesterday I found myself standing in my driveway talking to the two women across the street about my dad and how he’s been doing since the heart attack. They both had their boys in their arms and I was dealing. Even though I was talking to them, other thoughts were racing through my head. Though I feel that the baby I lost was a girl, I started to wonder how a little boy would feel in my arms. How if the baby had been a boy, that these three would have been up to no good together in a few years. How the three of us would have been standing there talking about how this one climbed a tree, and that one feel of his bike. But those are the conversations that the two of them will have together. I felt like the odd one out. Like for some reason, I didn’t belong. And then my daughter came up to me and delivered the line that threw me over the edge and in to my emotional black hole. She said to me, “Mommy, wouldn’t it be awesome if YOU had a baby their age too?! They would all be FRIENDS!” All I could do was force a smile at her, bite back sobs, and thank God that I had on dark sunglasses so no one could see the tears in my eyes.

Chicken had her bi-weekly therapy appointment today. Once a month or so the session starts with the two of us, so I can give the therapist an update on her behavior. Today I brought up how incredibly frustrating it is that one days where she is gone for two days at a stretch, I get multiple phone calls from her telling her that she misses me and that she wants to come home. But once she is home, she's rude, nasty and defiant. The therapist asked Chicken, "Do you think you act this way because you're afraid if you love your mommy too much that you will miss her more when you are apart from eachother?" Chicken wouldn't answer her. I thought maybe she didn't understand the question so I said to Chicken, "Sometimes it's easier to be mad at someone. When you're mad at them, you don't miss them as much." Chicken seemed to understand that a little more, but still didn't comment. The therapist turned to me and starting talking to me about it. She asked me if that made sense and I told her it did. I told her it was a defense mechanism. And then I told her that I do that myself. I do it, and I wish I didn't.

Today I was talking to the boy. I haven't seen him much lately because his work schedule has been insane. On weeks that I get to spend a lot of time with him, everything is fine. Our conversations go smoothly, we laugh and joke and I am happy. On weeks like this where he is busy and distracted, I am mean and nasty to him. I intentionally pick fights with him. It's bait that he will not take. He knows what I'm trying to do and he won't play in to it. He tries to distract me with a different subject or by telling me how much he loves me. It works, for a few minutes and then I find a way to turn it back around. To make him feel like he has done something wrong. Weeks like these, he cannot win with me. He will call me in the morning at 5am while he is on his way to a job. Usually at that time I am nice. I am not awake enough to remember to be mean to him. Some days he will call me at lunch to chat for a few minutes. Then it sets in. I will say something sarcastically like, "It's so nice that you could find some time for me. Must have been difficult." The little voice inside my head tells me that what I need to be saying to him during these weeks is, "This has to be a hard week for you. I'm sorry the job is going so badly. Thanks for checking in." But that little voice is told to shut up by the bitch inside of me.

He told me today, after a conversation in which the bitch in me was unleashed, that I was starting to piss him off. That he feels like he can't win with me. I'm mad if he doesn't call, but then when he does, I'm pissed off about that too. And I feel bad. I want to tell him, "I'm sorry. I love you. I just miss you." But those aren't the words that come out. The words sound more like, "Yeah, well. I'm not happy with you."

I realize that this behavior is childish. But it's what gets me through the day. I don't miss him as much if I'm mad at him. Conversations that end in, "I love you babe," make me miss him so much more after I'm off the phone with him. Conversations that end with, "Yep. Talk to you later," make me angry when I hang up. And it doesn't hurt as much. I push him away when I know I won't be seeing him for a few days. One of the things I love most about him is that he doesn't let it get to him. He tells me, "I know you love me, but I don't think you like me very much right now. And that's ok."

I have done this all my life. In relationships with lovers and relationships with family. It's easier for me to be upset with people. I have one Grandparent still left alive, with the three that have passed away, as soon as they started showing signs of weakness, of slipping away, I'd walk away. I would visit them once to see them in that state and then leave it at that. It was easier that seeing them regularly and watching them get worse. I did this years ago with friends. As soon as I saw that a friend and I were growing apart, I would pick a fight. I would end the friendship on a bad note, rather than let it just dissolve into the ether.

I have always hated this about me. Hated the way I push away the people that love me the most. And now I see my daughter doing it, and I want to stop it. I want to tell her not to be this way, but I don't know how to lead her in a different direction. How can she learn if I can't teach her?

Happy Birthday
My baby turned 8 today. Eight. How the hell did this happen? I was going through old photos the other day to make a banner for her birthday party. I wanted a photo of her from every year. I started with a newborn photo and then years 1-7. I cried the entire time. It's funny that when I look at photos of her as a baby and a toddler, I see the little girl she is now. But when I look at her at this age, I don't see the baby she was. Gone is the baby fine hair, the chubby hands with the dimples on her knuckles. Gone are the sweet, kissable, thick thighs, the baby belly that hangs over the diaper. She has big kid feet now, not fat little feet with inward curling toes that hard to balance on. And, while she's still (usually) always happy to see me, gone are the days that she comes rushing towards me at full speed, with arms open while I wait to scoop her up into my arms. I can't even remember the last time I was able to pick her up. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of my baby. Sometimes when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she asks for her blankies. The same ones she's slept with since she was born. Once I find them and hand them to her, she grabs them and hugs them to her with both arms. She rubs her face into them and smiles, just like she did when she was a baby.

She is growing up so fast. I feel like I have missed out on so much, even though I have been there every step of the way. But, given the bouts of depression I've gone through all my life, I still feel like I wasn't there. Like I was just watching it happen, not experiencing it first hand.

I took her to get her ears pierced for her birthday. She has been bugging me to have it done since she was six. And I finally decided it was ok this year. I had mine done at 8, I figured she could as well. Right before the girls did it, they asked if she wanted to hold on to something and she said, "Yes, my mommy's hand." She grabbed it and held it so tightly, searching for comfort from me, I could feel it straight to my heart. She took it like a champ. They did both ears at once and immediately after, she said, "That hurt." No tears, nothing. I had to walk away so I could cry. My baby really and truly is growing up.

I can't write anything more. I'm crying again. I miss my baby. But my girl is amazing and wonderful.


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