(Almost) Suicide. My Story Of Life In And Out Of The Psych Ward

(Almost) Suicide. My Story Of Life In And Out Of The Psych Ward

“Welcome to Nobel Hospital. We are glad you are here. Or we should be. Because we are here to help. And you are hiring us to do just that. Keep that in mind from now on because that may be hard to remember once you have fully arrived at the experience you are about to have.Your journey has just begun.”

Checking in at The Front Desk

“The concierge is out, so I will help you. I am a desk clerk. I probably have a different title, but that is basically what I am. I may have this job because I have an interest in the mental hurting and healing of others. Or I may just have a family to support and bills to pay and found the job on “Indeed.”

“My name is irrelevant. But I only make $8 an hour, and I may go home from my shift before yours begins, so try to keep your expectations of me low. I am not a licensed therapist and I don’t play one on TV.”

“First, let us have your ID and Insurance Card. Put them in that little opening on your side of the bulletproof glass there. Thanks.”

“Next, step through that door. That is where we screen people before we ‘[bring them back.’”

“Now, once Grumpy Guard has finished searching you, taking your belt, your shoelaces, anything sharp, except the pain that brought you to us and depending on the size of his piles, some of the very slight amount of dignity you may have left, step through the solid core steel door to the inner sanctum.”

“Pay no attention to his callousness to the fact that you wanted to die and came to us for help. He could give a shit. He has a bitching wife at home, bills to pay, and I suspect, some really bad hemorrhoids.”

“Next, we are going to take away your personal items that you have brought from home. Your clothes, shoes, any makeup, whatever you brought.  We will give them back. At some point. We need to be sure that what you have is not potentially harmful to you or others.”

“So just  take this clipboard please. And write as if your life depends upon it. And it kinda does. The forms will ask you to say what stressors have brought you to us today, what substances you might have ingested today, what made you take that whole bottle of lithium when you have a promising career ahead of you and are months away from a Master’s Degree.”

 Be thorough. Be honest. Don’t leave anything out. Because your miracle may rest with just one set of the many eyes that will read your words during your stay. 

“What HAS brought you here today? Was it the food? The ambience? Or your broken heart that caused you so much pain that you hurt so much to be awake you tried to go to sleep. Forever.” 

In my many experiences in several psychiatric locked facilities, I think the majority of the people who work  there do want to help people heal. Just keep in mind, they, like you, are all human. They have families. And stressors. And addictions. And mental illness of their own. In fact, some of them may be in as much or maybe more pain than you are in. So be mindful. Because hurting people are on both sides of the nurses station. The bulletproof glass. The solid core steel door. I don’t think Grumpy Guard woke up at age 4 and said, “When I grow up, I want to be a jerk to fragile people in my job as a security guard at a hospital.” Hurting people hurt people. 

“And then, just wait. It may be an hour. It may be several hours. You may see some things you can’t unsee. You may feel more worthless than you thought possible when your 20 year old daughter who brought you here looks to the counselor with despair after filling out your paperwork for you because you cannot function well enough to put pen to paper and leaves you for what you feel like is a habitual abandonment of the one who you love the most.”

My daughter was three weeks old when she first lost her mother to mental illness. 

In her 23 years since, I have had well over a dozen stays in several psychiatric facilities. From Oklahoma to Texas to Virginia. I hope I have been an example of someone who goes for help when they think they need it.

“By now, you have likely been assigned to a room. And possibly a roommate. And if you are lucky, you have received your belongings. Unless Grumpy Guard, (let’s call him GG from now on, cuz he will be back) has not had a chance to search through all of your belongings. In between bathroom breaks to apply his preparation H and call his wife to say what he wants for dinner.”

Search Me

“There is good reason for the searches of your belongings before there is a determination as to what you can and cannot have with you. You may not fully understand why a person can’t have a product like makeup because it has some alcohol in it.”

“Or why you can’t have your eye shadow because there is a tiny mirror in the compact. These are all valid safety measures taken by us as we take your physical safety and the safety of those around you seriously.”

“Because while you may think you have the greatest pain in the room, there are others around you who are in their own exquisite agony. And they may be creative enough to try and get to your makeup mirror or alcohol infused cosmetics to try and relieve their pain.”

Yes. people really do hurt that much. Pain is ambitious.

You see, hurting people are not just suffering. They are creative. When a heart is broken enough, a tiny makeup mirror can also be broken. And used as a weapon of mass destruction. 

Because when one person cuts themself to bleed, to feel, to not feel,  to bloodlet, perhaps to let all of the blood escape, that is a mass destruction. 

What? No, that is wrong! The very definition of mass states in large numbers.

Okay, I’ll take the debate. Let’s unpack that. A person is in enough pain that they are willing to break a compact mirror in shards and cut the very vessel that carries them through life. Let’s say they succeed with their bloodletting. They let it all go. The pain. The blood. The very life juice in their body. 

Yes. They are dead. Our society calls it suicide. But this is just one person. Where is the Mass in that? 

Well, if they are Catholic, maybe they suffered great injury where Mass should have been safe. 

Were you affected when Robyn Williams hung himself? Did you join the masses who felt shocked and saddened at the loss of such a gifted joy bringer? Millions of people did. Millions are a mass. And I would rest my case, but I have more to say.

When I was 11, I was in the 7th grade. 1971. Happy as a clam. Living in Illinois, bowling every Thursday, about to hit puberty. 

One day, my mom sat me down. She told me that my cousin was dead. He was 14. He had taken the family shotgun and shot himself in the head. This was the first I had heard of the word suicide. I was told there were drugs involved.

My 11 year old brain had just learned that a person could make themself die. On purpose. And that drugs were dangerous because sometimes people could use them and then make themself dead.

And my cousin, who was the oldest of three, who was a talented and creative and sensitive and funny young boy, was gone. Forever. 

And this was just the beginning. In the 51 years that followed to date, I would come to know suicide well enough.

On the way to “Your Unit”

“These are the beautiful grounds of Nobel Hospital. See the fishpond to your right?  Beautiful. Right? You will get to go there. And once you have become a ‘resident’ here at what is likely to be a 3 to 10 day stay at “The Spa”, you will want to go there. Because beauty is healing. And you need that.”

“To your left, you will see the swimming pool. Weather permitting, you can enjoy the healing powers of the sun and some of your fellow travelers here. I recommend it.”

“We even have basketball. The ball may seem very heavy as most things in your life right now clearly are. Don’t worry. There is a child in all of us that still likes to play H.O.R.S.E. Let yourself play. And move. And breathe. And even laugh. These things are all medicine for which there will be no charge and no side effects.”

“There is sidewalk chalk too. Use it. Do it. Express. Draw. Create. It is in you. Just like when you were a kid. And that kid is still in you too. Let him or her out to play. That is part of being fully alive. Believe it or not, it isn’t too late for some of that.”

“And down the way there, you will see our 18 hole golf course under construction. We are trying to come up with a way to use Nerf clubs and balls so as to provide a safe experience when you get teed off.”

Once on the Unit

“Now, strip.  No, we aren’t asking which cut of steak you want for dinner. Yes. We are going to have you strip. For a search. No cavities. That is for your dentist to look into.”

These nurses are usually quite nice. They will weigh you. They will measure your height. And your demeanor.

And they will take your blood. But not all of it.

Just remember. Everyone here is human. And everyone has things going on in their life. And some of them could easily qualify to be your roommate.

There will be groups to attend. I recommend them. Some of the group facilitators are really gifted. They speak from experience, making them both capable of and giving of both compassion and empathy. They bring helpful tools to be used when you return to the outside world.  

“And remember. Trust the process. You get out what you put in. So if given the choice between sitting in your room staring out the window with the heavy rubber curtain out at the helicopter pad of the “regular” hospital or laying on the tiny bed with the lifeless pillow, Go down the hall. To the T.V. room. Or the group that is going on.”

“Don’t be alone with you. Not right now. That likely is part of the reason you have come to need us. You have spent too much time alone. In your head. Allowing those thoughts of how worthless, unlovable and hopeless you are to grow. Like weeds. In a garden.”

“Or maybe you have been hurt by a person. Maybe you have just learned all in one night that your husband of over 20 years has been paying for sex for six years and drinking all the while you are thinking he is sober and happily married to you and that his head bobs up and down at the dinner table because he has jet lag. After all, he travels all over the world.”

“Or maybe you have suffered yet another loss. You have already lost a husband to disease or addiction, children to violence because of their demographic in life. And now, the death of your dog, your last companion proves more than you can bear. “

“Or a father who has killed himself has led you to relieve your own pain with opiates and now, in your early thirties, you need help to save your own life because your addiction is out of control. 

If you have a substance abuse problem or alcohol problem, and if you are fortunate enough to be where there are those who bring information about twelve step recovery into the unit, check out what they have to say. 

You may just find your answer there.

Your Room/Roommate/Fellow Travellers

“Now let’s take you to your room. You are likely quite worn out after checking in for wanting to check out, so let’s see who we have for you to share your nights with.”

Looking back, I have had several roommates.  

One was a young woman of 18, who had been in serious abuse with men from a young age who was certainly facing a hard road when she got out. 

Another young girl in her thirties. She was bright and creative. She would come to groups practically juggling all of her colored markers and coloring books that she was using to cope with her second round of opiate withdrawal after the suicide of her father.

Another bright young woman with an unusual name that I got really good at mispronouncing, but who I had a great connection with, as we were both “frequent fliers” of a sort in that we had both darkened the doors of several psych wards. Much like inmates, we would steal off to the corner of the group room on breaks to laugh and discuss our observations and experiences before and during our current stay.

She was a few months out from her Master’s Degree, having taken an overdose of her lithium, the very drug that gave her brain the capacity to function well enough to get that degree. I surmise God has big plans for her because on paper, she should not have survived that toxicity. And survive she did. Only to get that Master’s Degree along with a new life complete with a happy marriage and a career in non-profit.

 Another who, upon entry to the hospital, the nurses asked me to “show her the ropes.” Well, there were no ropes, that was not safe, but you get my drift. They wanted me to encourage her, knowing that by encouraging me to encourage her, I would have some sense of purpose or value, which I was lacking upon my own arrival. 

I told her “You are going to do great here.” Today, she is engaged to be married, building a home with her fiance and sporting a tattoo of the words “You are going to do great here.”

Proof that I mattered in the life of another human. Because of the words I said. That is a good feeling.

But I also made some poor choices over the years in choosing friends from the hospital which affected my family at home. 

I asked one friend to come and live with me and my husband and daughter, who,was not even 10 at the time.  This woman who I cared deeply for took 40 Restoril one night, trying to kill herself. Right down the hall from my daughter’s room. Thankfully, she lived. But when I imagine the trauma my daughter would have suffered around that…

I met another good friend while in Dallas for some care for my horrific depression and grief after my mom died in 2011. (Turned out there was a lot of grief there, but that is not in the DSM, so they just called it depression. Which was unfortunate, as I elected to have shock treatment. Which doesn’t fix grief. More on that later.)

I was also hurting from a lonely, unhappy marriage that had yet to be put out of its misery. So having someone to engage in joy with filled a void that I had had for many years.

She was a bright, young, broken hearted woman of 40 something who had tried to kill herself after her divorce. And she and I became friends. I was there for two weeks for an outpatient program and I stayed with her and her sweet dog Sophie as a guest in her home. We laughed, cooked steaks, watched tv and I helped her hang pictures in her charming bungalow home where she had just moved near SMU. 

It was Spring when we met. 

In July, I reached out to her. Could not get in touch. I contacted her mom only to find that she was finding Sophie a new home because my friend had succeeded in leaving this life at her own hand. And my heart broke.

All gave me compassion. For human suffering. All gave me gratitude. In hindsight. For what could have been my life. Or the end of it.

You may feel like you have found that best friend you have never had because, let’s face it. There is no sorority or fraternity called WTD (Wanting To Die) in which you can meet, socialize and feel like you belong. And we all need to belong.

Remember. None of us come here for the food. (Although the chicken tetrazzini is mighty tasty. And those ice cream bars are to (not) die for.)

But take caution in forming “fast friends” where you have come to get help to find a reason to live. For there are those here who have tried to die several times before and some will leave and succeed. And there is nothing you can do. But stay alive yourself to honor them.

My First Time At Nobel Hospital

My first time at Nobel Hospital was when I was 37 years old. I had just experienced the miracle of bringing a life into this world. 

It is my estimate that  from the age of 37 to the age of 58, I had been in some kind of hospital setting for some kind of treatment for mental agony or food dysfunction around two dozen times, give or take. I lost track. I do know that upon my last (and by my intent, FINAL stay,) the opening line of the doctor assigned to my care was, “You have been here 7 times in 7 years.”, so you see, the accounting of these facts might require a forensic CPA. Suffice it to say, I have done my time.

Three weeks after the birth of my daughter, I wanted to take a life out of that same world she had just come into. Mine. My brain chemistry went to hell in a hand basket. I wasn’t sleeping. My thoughts were terrifying. And out of control. I was under siege. 

The day my daughter was born, all of the happy mothers and some of the fathers were gathered around for the baby bath training class. I remember about 6 or so of us with our spouses and new bundles of joy. As I recall, all of the moms got up to bathe their babies at the nurse’s instruction. Except me. I could not get out of my chair. I felt paralyzed. And I had no interest in bathing my baby.  Or anything else really. It is a bit of a blur to recall.

We were sent home. I had read the book “What To Expect When You Are Expecting”. And beyond the baby, what I was expecting was the possibility of the thing called Postpartum Depression. Because I had had such prevalent depression from the age of 13 up to the age of 36 when I became pregnant. 

I had told my OB/GYN of my concerns when I first became pregnant. It would have been prudent to do so. And it would have been partly on him to see to it that in the event of my “coming down” with postpartum depression or psychosis, he would be accountable to help me so that my baby had a healthy and safe mother to be with.  That was not the case. So with that I should change OB/GYN to OBO/AICMMIOT (or #oncethebabysoutandicollectmymoneyimouttoo). 

 You might recall the case of Andrea Yates. The woman who drowned her five children in June 2001 after suffering from postpartum psychosis after the birth of her fifth son. She was convicted of murder which was later overtuned and she is now living in a low security mental health facility.  When I saw that story, my daughter was just over three years old. While America ranted and judged and “vigilant-eed” at her, hungry for a witch to burn at the stake for her actions, I knew her sickness. I remembered what, for me, my husband and our baby was the year from Hell. Postpartum. Because I had survived it, albeit on a much smaller scale.  

As I was trying to be with my daughter at home, I became sicker. The sleep deprivation of the late night feedings. The crying baby. The strange and annoying voice of the woman on late night talk radio while I sat in that glider rocker all the girls at pregnant mom swim classes had raved about, trying to get my baby to latch on, (latching on for me was like trying to snap that tiny snap at the top of the back of my dress in the dark with no fingernails), all were taking their toll. 

I was beginning to know firsthand why child abuse is a thing. Why people shake their babies. 

The thoughts showed up. In my head. Uninvited.  I did not act on them. But my brain chemistry was a fucking shit show and there is a reason sleep deprivation has been used to torture prisoners of war. 

Because it will make you crazy. 

I wanted nothing more than to breast feed my daughter. And to be connected to her.  But while I had expectations of months of being her milk machine, losing the baby weight and gaining the much needed connection between me and my child, instead, I found myself standing  in my kitchen. Obssessed with thoughts racing at such a pace that I found myself gripping my center island in my hands, thinking, “If I do leave a suicide note, what will I say?”

What I really needed was to be there for my new little baby girl. Who had just had  a lovely 37 week vacation floating peacefully in relative darkness and quiet, with her foot wedged between my third and fourth ribs, only to find herself pushed out into fluorescent lights to the charge of a mother that was somewhat incapable of meeting her basic needs. 

I had a home health nurse with me who was trying to advocate for me that I could use her so that I could heal at home with my baby. She was like my personal assistant. She got it. She knew I was in Hell between my ears and she was picking up the slack.

I could not handle too much sound or light. And I could not have visitors. She put notes up in the house saying to keep the TV off and the lights down. The sleep deprivation from the night feedings along with my already irregular brain chemistry had become the perfect storm. It was as if I experienced all sensory things tenfold. Light. Sound. Smells.  

Sadly, I was not supported to care for my baby and heal at home as I should have been.Our healthcare system is run by insurance companies, where Satan is in charge and they told my home health person that if I was in such need of her services that they felt I should just be hospitalized.  

That was  the world my innocent child had arrived in in 1997 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

In Europe at that time, they were advanced in their preparation and ensuing care in the event of these episodes where the mother is rendered ill by the very body that has just produced the miracle of life.  They even had husband’s and support members of the family involved in caring not just for the newborn child, but for the newborn mother. 

They say when you fly that the mother needs to put the oxygen mask on herself before her child in the event of an emergency. Well this poor baby lost her mom to mental illness at age 3 weeks because the oxygen was running out at her house and mom needed some air to breathe.

So off I went. To the place I have since come to know too well as “The Spa.” Also the Pink Palace. In fact, the psychiatric hospital is a part of the “regular” hospital on the same campus. Had I known I would have ended up in “The Spa” on the day my daughter was born, I would have just had them roll me down the one driveway where they treat all of the other body part ailments and up the driveway where their house specialty was the contents of the human head.

My psychiatrist at this time had been astonished at how well I had done in my pregnancy. 

In fact, when, after him treating me medically over two years for bipolar disorder, (later found to have been an erroneous label,) I walked into his office a woman of 36 announcing that I wanted to have a baby, he urged great caution in making my decision to do so. Because what would be required was that I be taking off a slew of psychotropic meds (sounds like tropical, but not so much a beach experience for me, unless you count the beached whale experience of my bloated carcass after 2 years on the drug lithium which for me caused a flatline personality on a blowfish puffy woman with a whole lot less hair than God intended…)

Once off all meds, including a 16 year run with birth control pills, I was pretty fertile, the boys DID swim, and I had a bun in the (maiden)Bunn oven. 

Pregnancy was interesting. I hosted that little alien to her heart’s content. Spent the first trimester in bed. Not eating. Or smelling much. In the way of food. I could hardly swallow anything. The mere smell of food made me want to hurl.  I had morning noon night sickness from Hell. Finally, after 10 pounds of weight loss, and a two month steady diet of “Days Of Our Lives” and “All My Children,” I was admitted to the hospital for severe morning sickness and dehydration.

But that was just the first trimester. I came back swinging and eating in the second. I was on fire. And was happy. Happy. Happy. No depression. Much like prior to the onset of my first menstrual cycle at age 13. Coincidentally (?I think not.) The same time my moods began to go to Hell. Definite hormonal component to my story here. 

I was working a temp job part time. Had thick ringlet curls. Ate everything that I wanted. I felt amazing.

Then the third trimester arrived. (Today, I am in my third trimester again. Only for MY life. It’s how I see it since turning 60. Mom made it to 88 so…)

This is where the ropes course for sleep deprivation begins. She now has kicked up her heel or heels or all pointed limbs that can be used to dig into my ribs. That is where she liked it. And that is where she parked it. I, on the outside of all of this, made love to my body pillow, which went the length of my body for about four feet and around which I gave it my all to contort myself into whatever human pretzel shape would accommodate some damn sleep. Not much success here. 

So, I would wander out of the bedroom and into my blue gingham recliner in the living room, where I would obsessively read The Bible. Not THAT Bible. The one for expectant mothers in 1997 which was the book, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.” 

All the girls were reading it. The girls from my pregnant mom’s swim class, where I had hung out in the health club pool for the second and part of the third trimester leading up to baby day. 

THAT was an education. There were five or six of us. ALL first time moms. ALL freaking out in the locker room, sharing our “baby parasite and what it is doing to our bodies” stories. Such a comfort. Community. That is a good thing. But their stories about their loving nurturing baby doctors were not MY experience. If I could go back, I would have changed that. But that is hindsight. Right? 

One of the girl’s was expecting twins. I saw her months out after hers were born. Walking through the Flea Market. Looking dazed and not amused, pushing that stroller that had her outnumbered two to one. It was more fun in the pool. Said her face.

That book was my go to. It told me how I could carry a jar of pickles with me in my purse so that if my water broke in public, I could drop the jar of pickles and say, I don’t know, “Sorry, my pickle jar fell out of my vagina and got your floor all messy?”

I did not have a mother from whom to glean anything. I mean, mine had popped out three kids, but frankly, she wasn’t really into the maternal thing and to be fair, I never thought to ask her about what it was like for her. In any event, I felt fairly alone in regards to having the loving nurturing mother to go to and draw from. That was not the mold she had come from. 

I dug through the placenta to find the manual for how to be a mom and do all of this by the way. Nothing. I was on my own. In so many ways.

My Last Mental Health Hospitalization 

To summarize, I was in and out of the hospital three times for nearly 30 days total .

When I was released for the third time in February 2018, after nearly a month I told the doctor. “I have to do this on the outside.” they had given me all of the tools. Three times in and out of there adding up to nearly a month.

They were an acute care unit and they needed the bed and I needed to leave that nest. One where I sometimes wonder if I didn’t say the right things to get admitted so that I could get away from my unhappy life, go where someone who didn’t struggle to plan a menu or eat could make sure I was fed, where I had a roommate because at home, my husband had moved across the house  out of husband status and into official roommate status in the guest room and to be fair, I did not put up a fight. We were over before we even got started. Didn’t even consummate our marriage on our wedding night. I digress. The doctors agreed and I was discharged in February 2018 for what I hope is the last time I will ever see the walls of a psychiatric hospital again. 

My Life Today

And now, it is September 2020. In what I like to refer to as the year of perfect vision. For me, it has been just that. In February, I got a clear vision that God wanted me to look into relocating from my home for most of 50 years in Tulsa, Oklahoma to the Emerald Coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Destin, Florida, to be precise. 

I came here for the entire month of February to be certain that my heart’s desire was in direct alignment with God’s will for me. I had made moves based on my will more than once and at the age of 60, I did not want to do that again. So I rented a tiny cottage three blocks from the beach at Miramar Florida, Destin’s answer to a superb suburb, where I acted  as if this were my home. I did not buy alot of souvenirs. Or eat out alot. Or go on fancy boating excursions.  Instead, I cooked fancy dinners at home for me and my soul. I watched “Eat, Pray, Love”, and I painted pictures and made art. I took long walks on the beach every single of the 29 mornings, taking photographs so that I could bring the beach with me when I returned to Tulsa. 

I went to a meeting with other sober seeking souls  every morning at 8am, finding my tribe to end all tribes of my 35 years sober.  I knew this was it. I was home. These were my people. When people asked me where I lived, I happily replied, as more was revealed of where God wanted me for his purposes “I’m glad you asked. I moved here to Destin on Feb. 1. I will remain here for the entire month at which time I will return to Tulsa, fulfill my lease commitment, launch my 22 year old daughter into the world and then I will return home. Here. In Destin, Florida.” 

And I did just that. My daughter is on her own and on her way. And I am living the dream  in my third floor one bedroom roomy lofty apartment a mile from the beach, where I have been home since August first. I have a new fur baby girl named Miramar and I have many friends in place as well as new ones showing up every day. At the pool. In my building and at the beach. Where I continue to go. Every morning. To watch God turn on the lights.

I don’t see me ever again darkening the doors of another mental health hospital, but out of respect for a brain chemistry that I cannot control beyond a certain point, if any of my many tools in my kit fail me, I will go for help as that help is why I am still here. All of the pain that took me to check in for wanting to check out, has subsided for the most part as a result of doing the things that have been recommended. I eat well, sleep, exercise, pray, meditate, medicate and I do things for others. And as long as I continue to do these things, a day at a time, I have every faith that all will be well. Even when things may not seem or feel well in the world, I know from experience that they can be well inside of me. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

So if you are reading this and you are in any way relating to the pain I have shared, but feel hopeless in the present tense, get help. Because so far, in spite of your pain, at this very moment, you are a 100% success. At staying alive. And some days, that is enough.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Whatever it is. Don’t believe those thoughts. You are hurting because your pain is asking for your attention. Please give it that.

Call a trusted friend. And if you don’t have one, call me. (918.813.6983. Lucinda) Because if you have read this far, you will have an idea that I have been there and I am on the other side. Let me encourage you. Keep looking forward. Whatever is plaguing you right now will one day be just a speck in your rear view mirror.

And if you don’t have someone and you still want to die, I am not going to ask you not to. Or try to save you. But I am going to ask you to just have one more conversation. Make one more phone call. Reach out one more time or maybe for the first time. Because I can tell you, for all of the suffering my thoughts and mind and brain chemistry have caused me, if I could believe listening to one person who is done with this life could help that person want to keep going, then I will know I have not suffered in vain.

I may not know you, but I love you. 

And if not me, make that last call to these people who will not judge you, but who will instead just listen. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

800-273-8255

My name is Elvira and I’m an alcoholic.

My name is Elvira and I’m an alcoholic.

(My ego, Elvira)

I got sober at the age of 25. That means for over half of my life, I have not touched a drink. There is much discussion of ego among my sober friends and I.  And somewhere in the last year, I decided to give my ego a name. Elvira seemed fitting. For one, she has the big boobs I wanted when the breast cancer afforded that option 18 years ago. That didn’t go the way I intended, but the cancer did go, so I really can’t complain.  

This morning in the shower, when I was talking to God about writing, the suggestion was made that I introduce Elvira here and speak using her voice. So, here she is!

Elvira: Well THIS is interesting. For all of the times I have screamed for attention, today, Lucinda decides to give me the floor.  

Lucinda: You know, Elvira, you really can be a brat! I have the best of intentions for things like learning to have delayed gratification when it comes to shopping or dating and you just sit in your big chair over there staring at me, shouting bad advice like “Ah go on, spend the money. You can’t take it with you.” Like you have nothing better to do. 

Elvira: Well I DON’T have anything better to do. 

Lucinda: Actually, that’s not entirely true. Did you know that by definition of the word ego, you are a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance? The difference in you, Elvira, is that you want to be all important and it just doesn’t work like that. Another definition of you sees you as the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. So, I think we should work together. And I want you to understand that I am the alpha in this relationship. Capiche?

Elvira: I’m listening…

Lucinda: Elvira, you and I have one simple job to do. And that is to love.   That is pretty simple. But it is not easy.  Now the first thing you think of when I say that is boys. Romantic love. That is only part of it. That is just a heart’s desire we share. But the love I am talking about here is a universal thing. It is our purpose in the short time we have left here. 

 Clearly, you have trust issues. And you seem to have a God complex and a want to be in charge of me. Well, you are not the boss of me, girlfriend. You are not. I surrender my will to God on a daily basis with the intention of being of service to the best of my ability each day with whatever I do, whoever I talk to, however I spend my time, money and energy. But you get so impatient with God’s plan for us. Why?

Elvira: Well, I have known much disappointment in life with you. And I just want to have some fun for the time we have left here. What is so bad about that?

Lucinda: Nothing. Nothing at all, but when you try and bend things to go your way rather than allowing them to go the way God has planned, you end up creating your own misery and that spills onto me. I know, for example, that you and I have heart’s desire to grow old with and love another in a romantic partnership.

But your lack of trust and fear of being alone with and getting to know me kept us in a marriage that was not happy for anyone for most of 24 years and since that time that same lack of trust in God’s plan and fear of being alone kept us both in relationships where we were settling for less. Don’t get me wrong, we learned lessons from all of these, but we stayed longer than necessary in a couple of them and across the board, there was a pain in the endings that could have been avoided altogether had you and I joined forces years ago and learned together to trust that God would take care of us and taken the time to know each other then as we do now.

Elvira: Yeah, well, I didn’t see much evidence of that care of God growing up with you. I mean, where was God when your mom left us alone all the time?

Lucinda: I get it Elvira. It looks like we were alone. And it felt that way to me, too. But it turned out that we were safe. Right? Nothing happened that I can recall anyway. So here is the deal. Let’s look at facts over feelings. The feelings we shared were those of neglect, lack of love and abandonment. And maybe there was some truth in that. But our mom always came home and in her absence, something kept us safe. Do you see my point here?

Elvira: I am beginning to, yeah.

Lucinda: I think everything that did or didn’t happen to us so far in this life that may have caused pain was a well learned lesson, sometimes more than once that we can now, moving forward for whatever time we are still here, avoid re-learning if you will just work with me here and be a little more patient and trusting.

Elivra: That sounds easy, but when it is Sunday afternoon, and we are alone AGAIN in this pandemic isolation that has droned on for five months, aching for companionship, I just want to talk to boys.

Lucinda: Look, Elvira, you are preaching to the choir. But let’s “play the tape” as they say. Let’s say we meet someone online who is nice enough and let’s say we agree to have coffee and let’s say you make me forget that there is a pandemic because you can be pretty persuasive and we get up close and personal when we have no way of knowing short of a test that is not 100% reliable as to whether they or we have this virus, is it worth the risk?

I know this is a marathon. A waiting game. To see when the coast is clear. So why don’t we just indulge each other until things are safer. We can make nice dinners for each other like we would for a special someone. We can watch great movies. We can play great music. We can make happy art. We can call people who might be lonely. We can share LIVE video of the beach with people who are landlocked. We can write with the hopes of inspiring others who are in the same boat with this pandemic fatigue. Basically, we can give to each other and share with others and when I say until the coast is clear, hell, we have the Emerald Coast of the Gulf of Mexico 5 minutes away where we can go every day at a safe distance from others to get filled up on God’s beauty and the gifts of the Universe. We can love from a safe distance and get filled up in return.

This will all change, Elvira. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But I do know it will change. We will go to restaurants again. We will hug our friends again. We will go to the movies again. We will have parties again. But until that is a prudent thing to do, let’s just accept what is, take it a day at a time, and make the best of it. 

Elvira: Ok, but I am gonna need a dog, cake and cookies and ice cream. And I mean the good stuff from scratch, and Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Daz, not that other store brand crap.

Lucinda: Fair enough, Elvira, fair enough.

More Stars For Stars

More Stars For Stars

(Stars for stars…)

It was winter in early 2019. And I was in pain. I had three vertebrae fused in my neck a few years ago which was a successful procedure, but there is still discomfort with the surrounding muscles, my hips complain when I sit for too long and winter cold and short days can make me depressed.

About that time, I was struck with a random idea. To buy those little stars like we got in school for gluing macaroni to a flimsy white paper plate in art class, and give them out randomly to whoever crossed my path during my day. The goal being to get out of myself and recognize someone else. Period. Because focusing on me when I am hurting can make the pain worse and cause me to lose sight of the fact that there are others out there.

(My label)

At first, I focused on groups of friends that I hung out with. Large groups for dinners. I would pull out my sheet, go around the table and give each person a star.

(My extended family)

Most just received joyfully. There were a couple of people out of the ten thousand plus that I calculated I have given stars to who said no. That hurt the first time. I took it personally. But then I remembered that it was not about me. And that left me just feeling sad for those who could not receive. For whatever reason.

I suspect some people think or have thought I was odd or silly. And to be honest, I stopped giving stars out at the check stand of Walgreen’s to the customer in front of me just because they were there. Some people don’t want to be bothered. How sad to me that being acknowledged could be taken as bother, but that has been my observation on the very few occasions people say no. Or maybe when I was wearing my painting clothes which could look to a stranger like I might have aluminum foil lining in my hat for better reception from my home planet, wearing jeans shorts covered in brightly finger painted stars and hearts, that could catch the innocent shopper off guard.

These are my Tulsa peeps. Friends and co-workers. I feel so much joy just writing this and seeing these pictures. It’s a virtual starring for me here today.

I have to tell you that when I did the math, thinking I had given out a hundred or so, only to see that each sheet has 55 stars on it and I calculated how many packages holding over 400 stars I had bought at my Walgreen’s with the frequency of a mother of 8 buying milk for her kids, I was stunned! Just laying these out to count 550 was stunning to think of that many people I got to engage with. It was at least 5000 stars at first count! This was about a year ago. And since then, I estimate giving out 5000 more.

(This makes me happy.)

My star giving seems to have morphed into only doing so when the spirit moves me as to the when and who I give stars to. And that tends to be people who provide a service. Like grocery store workers, wait people and fast food workers, with a few beach going tourists, girl scouts and T.V. reporters peppered in for good measure.

When asked, “What is this for?” I say in all earnest, “You got out of bed this morning. And that takes courage.” I know, first hand, that on some days, just breathing in and out is the best I have. I did that for a year while I grieved my marriage of 24 years. Thankfully, that pain subsided. But in the midst of it, I could not see daylight. And considered suicide.

You never know from the outside with a person what is going on on the inside. And while this all began as something to make me feel better, it became so much more.

(My 60th Birthday breakfast bunch)
(My spirit animals)

I go to a McDonald’s every week for happy meals that I get to share with my art making friends. At this particular store, they employ felons who have done their time. I have looked at faces that were pointed to the floor and watched them change when I give them a little gold star. “This is for you. Have a great day!” What I see after that is a hung head raised up. And a light in their eyes that belongs to that five year old inside. Followed by a huge grin. It’s like watching the sun come out. It sure lifts MY spirit. Times 10,000.

(My Happy Meal partner in crime)

I work from home and sometimes that can get lonely. So I would hop in my car, and head down the block to Whole Foods. Where I buy my dark chocolate bars. I used to drink. Margaritas come to mind. The tequila sure to alter my mood for the better, at first. That usually ended up with me losing things. Like my car in the parking lot. My virginity. A marriage. And almost, my mind. Chocolate is way better. But giving out stars there to Debra Hanigan and the crew, was the BEST high and I knew where my car and my mind were when I left! I swear Debra lived under the counter at register 5. She was ALWAYS there. Smiling and coaching me on the best chocolates to try.

(Me and Debra)

I did have to hunt down Sara Cunningham though. As her co workers started to accumulate stars on their nametags, she was not on the front lines and therefore had yet to get a star. So like Allen Funt of “Candid Camera”, I gathered intel as to what aisle were the Sara Cunninghams on, tracked her down and gave her several stars to make up for the lack.

Since March 2020, my stargiving has greatly reduced for obvious reasons. Frankly, I was afraid to touch someone in order to hand them a star. I pick up my groceries curbside at WalMart and those people are busting ass busy as the world has a new order for safe procurement of food goods. But I found a way. I would put the star on the edge of my side view mirror and they would take it from there. And I got that smile and enthusiasm in their voice as they thanked me.

I spent all of February alone in Florida. Giving out stars there gave me a sense of community. Of course, there was a woman named Star at the grocery store there!

(I gave ALL the stars to Star!

I will leave you with my favorite story. As I was leaving my meeting place one night where I go for spiritual food, there is much going on at the church where we meet. The Tulsa based program of Women In Recovery was hosting their graduation at the same church. Women in Recovery (WIR) is an intensive outpatient alternative for eligible women facing long prison sentences for non-violent drug-related offenses. Operated in partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, WIR works closely with the criminal justice system and various community partners to ensure program participants receive supervision, substance abuse and mental health treatment, education, workforce readiness training and family reunification services. 

The church parking lot was full for their graduation, so I had to park a few blocks away in the neighborhood. As I walked back, there were about five or six women who were sitting and standing around the bus stop. I was moved to give stars, which I did, seeing that same sparkle and shine in their eyes. My feet did not touch the ground the rest of the way to my car.

Fast forward a few months, and I am checking out at a Dollar Store where I had never been before. It was my second Dollar Store stop to pick up the remaining glass star shaped dishes to make 20 total, for centerpieces that I was making for a big dinner at my meeting place. When I gave the girl a star, her face lit up. “You gave me one already!” Puzzled, I replied, “I have never been in this store before.” Not taking no for an answer, the young woman excitedly grabbed her key chain, revealing a key tag with the letters NA on it. And over that was a well worn silver star. “I graduated from Women In Recovery six months ago! You gave me this at the bus stop! I have nine months clean!”

You never know what a random act of kindness can do for a person. I know what it does for the actor. It keeps me going at times. And without fail, it always lifts MY mood for doing it.

This Is The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

This Is The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

(IT’S THURSDAY!)

Stuff Dreams Are Made Of is both a shop and a place to create. Just off the charming street of Main in Jenks, Oklahoma, home to antique malls and small town folks businesses is where you will find it. From the outside, it’s just a modest craftsman bungalow. Plain and simple. Bookend boxwoods under matching porch rails topped with identical pillars. 

But don’t judge this book by its cover.  Once you cross the threshold, you forget everything behind you. At least I did. 

There is so much for the eye to see.  Kind of a curiosity shoppe. Two big tables welcome 8 or 9 people with a space to create. Bins and bowls and tables filled with finds from generations past-old marbles, postcards, teacups, valentines, matchbooks, dolls, letters, buttons, dollhouse furniture, old tins, sequins, wooden boxes of every shape and size, vintage toys, shadow boxes, old keys, vintage jewelry, fabric, ribbon, yarn, paper, canvas, glue, paint- all in a miraculous sense of order throughout the three rooms and butler pantry downstairs, as well as the munchkin height room at the end of the stairs that run straight up the middle of the house.

The walls are covered too. Mostly mixed media masterpieces created during open hours, but also some previously created art work just begging for a repurposing. 

And that, for me, is the draw. Mixed media art. To take an existing canvas. There are many to choose from. Some for $2, some donated for free. Then, breathe new life into it, using any material that floats your boat. 

My favorite is this collage I made using Vogue Magazine images and other found objects. The original painting underneath I am sure has a story. It was a general with three stars on his uniform. I left that exposed because I am a giver of stars. That is a story for another time.

I started going to Stuff Dreams Are Made Of over a year ago. To create. I am religious about it. Because making art is healing. For my soul and brain. Every Thursday and sometimes on Saturday. 

And I had company. Always Linda. She is the shopkeeper.  And giver. And helper. And sharer. And listener. And knower. And seeker. And teacher. And (only by request) opinion giver. And creator extraordinaire.  And my good friend. Anywhere from three to six people might come and go during open hours. Regulars. Emilie would show up with her quick wit and beautiful heart. Pamala with her unique talents and contributions. Heather with her smile from ear to ear. Lisa with her quiet wit. Mary with an entire craft room in tow. Janie with her brilliant mind.  Ann with her ladybugs and great giggle. Lauree with the laugh of the century. Elaine with her sense of humor. Shawna with her impeccable spirit. Dwight with his quiet gifts. Paul with his attention to detail and great taste in flowers and women. 

I was there every Thursday. All day. Nothing could keep me away. Not heartbreak, insomnia or even chronic pain. I was and am fully committed to the creative process. Every Thursday.  

Lunchtime is a ritual of Happy Meals and “Your Holiness” prayers. 

I have over a dozen toys proudly displayed around my home. And it’s true. They make me happy. 

(Linda and I picking up Happy Meals.)

I continued into my second year until the doors closed temporarily due to pandemic. Even then, Linda could not be stopped. To encourage continued creating, there is a Giving Tree outside the shop. Offering goody bags with things to make art with every Thursday for curious passers by encouraged by the sign on top to “TAKE ONE.”

(The Giving Tree)

Linda would offer a suggestion for what people might do while there. Things like:

Dollmaking, Mixed Media Mandalas, 365 Days Of Thankfulness Jars,

Start with a: Rock, Dragonfly,Triangle, Heart, Scribble,Rock, Game Board

Making An Altar To Love.

I rarely did the theme of the day. I always had more than one idea of what I wanted to create. And Linda allowed it. No rules, except for the ones we learned in Kindergarten to clean up our messes. She tolerated me. I sprawled out over three people’s spaces the minute I walked in most days. Linda lovingly had me corral all my stuff.

I healed from a lot through creating in this house. With these women. And a couple of men. While the mood for the most part is light to honor the time for creating, (politics and religion are checked at the door) when someone around the table has a hardship, it is lessened around the tables of Stuff Dreams Are Made Of. It was just a by-product that beautiful art was created in the process as grief was shared and lessened and lessons were shared and learned. 

I think I can understand how those women who gathered for quilting bees felt. What an incredible exchange can be made among people who are smack dab in the middle of creating. The brain goes to a relaxed place and healing happens. And art is the by product.

Also much laughter. There were times when a tiny plastic banana became a phone which was passed around for each willing party to have a chat with whoever was on the other end. When the phone was passed to me, the voice on the other end was hostile and uppity. With an Italian accent.   I think it was a zucchini that called on the banana phone, but I will never know. There is no way to trace the call.

On Halloween, I got married to Frankenstein by a grieving woman.

I will say farewell to Stuff Dreams Are Made Of in the coming weeks. And I will miss the laughter. And the tears. And the celebrations. And the Happy Meals. And the incredible supply of objects to make into art. And the 10 cent trinkets in the old hard case suitcase in the front room. I had to elbow my way between Emilie and Pamala on several occasions to get in on the new additions before they got nabbed.

The one thing I won’t miss is Thursdays. Because wherever I am, Thursday will be there too. And I will continue my commitment. To make the world a brighter place, if only on my living room wall. By being fully committed. To the Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.

Thank you Linda. For your vision. Your heart. Your generous spirit. You have taught me much more than just how to become a better artist. You have led by example and shown me how to become a better person. And a better friend. Thank you for that. I love you very much. 

And so it is,

Amen.

(Linda Reynolds, Owner, Stuff Dreams Are Made Of -323 W. “A” Street, Jenks, OK, USA.)
Out Of My Own Way

Out Of My Own Way

I woke up this morning from a dream. I don’t have them very often. At least I don’t remember them.

I was caring for someone’s child, about the age of two or three. The child, not me. Or was it? She bore a strong resemblance to me at that age.

In the dream, I was fully focused on my work. Nothing else. The task at hand to care for this child was my only focus. 

I was in a house. That felt like home. It had a bright living room with tall pane glass windows on both sides of a big white stucco fireplace. There were windows on all of the bright white walls.  With lots of sunlight filling the living room with warmth. I was alone with the child. Fully attentive to her needs. She had cherubic blond curls and big blue eyes.  

My heart desires romantic love, but my focus was no longer that. I was not thinking about a man. Of attracting a man. Of having a man. Of loving a man. Of a man loving me. Caring for this child was both fulfilling and enough.

I was minding my business and the door opened. And he walked in. I was surprised. Not expecting him. I was trying to process his arrival on the scene. I was thinking, “ Who is he? Why is he here? Should I be alarmed?” No one had informed me that he would be arriving to do his part of the work that there was to be done. In this home. Where I was a part. Of caring for the child that lived there.

In fact, I don’t really know who I was working for. There was never a person that represented that in the dream. But it was understood that both he and I had jobs to do for someone or something in the same home where I was caring for this child.

The man was earthy. Slightly taller than my frame of 5’10”. Raw, edgy, and real. Honest, too. There was no effort on my part. He just showed up. “You are a slim woman.” His first words to me. I felt immediately vulnerable. Apprehensive to hear the next words. Would he be objectifying me? Is he just about what he sees? He continues. “I like a slender woman.” As if to say, “I like pizza.” 

His frame was slender, and I could tell he had been through some storms in his life.  It was a feeling. And a knowing. And an edge. And a magnetism. “Good God.” Exactly that. 

“Where are you from?” I asked. Observing him doing the task at his hand. Checking out his form. His arms. His hair.His shape. It was hard to see his face at this point. It appeared he had taken on a job for the same employer I had. Work of a handyman nature. I think he was working on the bottom step of the stairway to the upstairs. “Virginia.” Is what I heard in a voice that sounded older than he looked. It had a richness in its tone coupled with a rough edge. In the center it was deeper. Just like I was getting in by listening.

I was not able to get a good look at him all at once. Partly because I am shy at first and was afraid to look at him for very long. And partly because the dream only revealed his image to me a little bit at a time. And with that revelation, I really liked what I saw. He had the most beautiful black hair. The attraction was strong. Undeniable. And oh so mutual. 

I did nothing for his attention. And I had all of it anyway. He was fully in the moment. And so was I. It was electric. He wore a white t-shirt and jeans. The container of his body was attractive because he was in it. There was a magnetic thing happening. Hard to put into words. But it was strong. And unavoidable.

He began to ask about me. I don’t know what he said, because I was on sensory overload as the blur that had entered the door was starting to come into focus, his features gradually defining themselves. What he said was almost irrelevant because I felt as though he already knew everything about me anyway and was just making conversation because that is how we do it. 

His eyes were beginning to show themselves to me. They were piercing. Brown, very dark, with a glint that was in the shape of a smile. I just had to pause as I wrote to utter to myself, “Oh God.”  

The closer he got to me physically, I would say I knew I was in trouble. But I was not. It was right. And right on time. And I had nothing to do with it happening. I was completely out of the way. Which, historically, in romantic relationships, I had been a 100% initiator with 100% failure rate. Some call that kind of behavior insanity. Defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 

He had something in his hands that played music I think. I’m not sure, because by now, he was in my space. And I was good with that. I had a sense of abandonment. Not concerned about boundaries. Or hula hoops. Or rules. “You don’t know him. You only just met. Are you crazy?” 

But I did know him. On a deep level. At my core. Almost instantly. Besides, when you are really crazy, you don’t know it. 

I had a hole in my sock. And I was embarrassed for a minute. That feeling was quickly replaced by the attention I was being showered with. Showers are good. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Oh my God.

This was not about sex. This was about love on a deep and spiritual level. And in spite of the many words in many languages that I have to choose from, there are none that would adequately describe the feeling of simply being in the room with him. When he touched me, all four of my other senses all but shut down. Without permission, I touched his gorgeous, thick black hair. It had only a few flecks of gray. It was rough to the touch. 

Coarse, but he was not. 

He was gentle. 

I am pausing again. Not sure if I want to share. 

I was no longer trying to attract a man. And one came anyway. Not because of me or anything I did. Or how good my hair looked. Or if I had on makeup. Or wore that cute polka dot sundress. Or if I was witty. Or articulate. Or said the right thing on my Match.com profile. I had nothing to do with it. 

When I get lonely, my friend tells me that I’m easy to love and that makes me happy and gives me hope.

This was a hard one to wake up from. But it strengthens my faith that there will be romantic love in my life again. And that I don’t have to do anything to earn it. 

I’ll just make caring for that little girl my full time job and leave the rest to God.

RestlessMatch.com- My Take On Online Dating

RestlessMatch.com- My Take On Online Dating

February 2020. My hot date every morning in Miramar Beach, Florida.

When I get restless, I look for a way to feel better. Some are healthier than others. 

So yesterday, when I was uncomfortable in my skin because the body that it lives on lives on a planet where there is much to be uncomfortable about, I looked for a way to comfort myself. 

During the stress of the pandemic, I have allowed myself to add cookies and cake as two new food groups as a way to comfort me. I do not abuse them, I just eat them. Like a little kid who just wants a treat. Not like the adult woman who once ate them to the point of having a distended stomach and a huge sugar hangover the next day because she ate the ENTIRE batch of Toll House which was preceded by an entire Domino’s pepperoni pizza the night before to fill a God shaped hole. 

Which brings me to my topic, filling holes and online dating. Many people have met their “person” through this social media method. Some choose it over the bar scene.  

So the appropriate question I ask myself when I go there is this. “What is my motive for going to Match.com?” If my motive is my desire to practice dating, then that is an appropriate step to take. And since it is my heart’s desire to share my life with another, this is a good plan to be open to. 

I also have a heart’s desire to be a published author. But that is not going to just happen if I don’t take the action of practicing my craft. Same is true for me when it comes to dating. I need to practice it.

Example: I met a guy last fall online. We just had a little chatter about liking chocolate. So in my healthy balance of work and pleasure, I gave myself the gift of a coffee date with this man. We exchanged chocolate bars but I was not a fan of his chocolate and we parted with no real connection, but I left that coffee date feeling like I had taken care of myself by taking action toward’s my heart’s desire. And got more practice dating.

I never dated much before my marriage at age 32. All of my dating for the first 15 years prior to married life was clouded by alcohol and a complete absence of the primary two relationships for me, which today are with God first and with myself second.

After spending 24 years in that marriage, I exited it four years ago without that God relationship or much of the one with me. You can see where this is going. 

First out of the gate post marriage was Tinder.com and George. George was on a peacekeeping mission in India, so he courted me for thirty days online before he let me know he was coming to Oklahoma for me. And oh, by the way, “I may not get my leave if I don’t have the money to buy this earth moving equipment that I found at a good price to have shipped to the states for my contracting business…blah blah blah”  and when he asked how much I had on my credit card, I knew.

George was not real. 

We were not on a peacekeeping mission in India.

And I was broken hearted.

Online dating lesson number one. Make sure that who you are talking to is real. Now I can spot them. And I report them. 

That was about four years ago and after “George” or whoever the f*** that was in front of their keyboard in a third world nation looking for women like me to catfish, (a term used to describe the predators on the internet who seek out lonely hearts with money to break hearts and rob bank accounts), I spent hours looking at dating profiles to try and fill that God shaped hole with the idea that a person could do that, avoiding the grief that needed my attention for the loss of my marriage of half my life. That came later, and with a bunch of fungus on it for the neglect it suffered at being delayed in the processing.

Some nights, I had several tabs open to OkCupid.com, POF.com, Match.com, Zoosk.com, OurTime.com. I would sit there making faces as I saw the same people on all of the sites. Judging them with disgust. “Wow. You really get around.” Under my breath while in denial of the fact that I was on ALL of those sites too. Not proud of that. But it is all true and let me tell you, the stories I am telling in chapter form on this experience are rich.

I sometimes go to online dating when I am bored. Which is not fair to the person who I mislead to think that I am interested when I am just bored. You see, an evening looking at Match.com can be like eating all of the Toll House cookies. And that is not good for me. Or anyone else.

So there I sat yesterday. Uncomfortable. Thinking about the racial issues at hand and what part I can play to contribute to positive change. Thinking about the fact that I have 57 days to downsize and pack a house, line up movers, get a colonoscopy, line up new doctors, get my eyes checked. The fact that I am leaving my home of 30 plus years and all of the people who have loved and supported me here deserves my respect when the emotions come. And they have been. Tears of gratitude.

And as I was sitting in my discomfort not wanting to be with much of it, I get the perfect distraction! Gmail says “Blurry faced Dean from Match.com likes YOU!.” It’s almost like Match.com catfishes people too. Once they have been subscribers. Trying to lure them back. Tempting their loneliness or boredom with another “25% off special on three months from $87.96 to just $65.97!” when you click to see Blurry Face Dean’s profile.

My profile is active, but my subscription is not, so while others can see me, I am only able to see that there have been 100 plus men look at my profile, 43 men liked my profile and 10 men have sent me messages. Beyond that, they hold hostage who likes me and the ability to read my messages, so when my ego Elvira sees all of this, she nags at me from behind her big boobs and matching bouffant to consider coughing up the dough. “Look. Just do it. Maybe this time, it won’t be the guys who haven’t addressed their facial hair…ever. Maybe it won’t be the ones who have sunglasses and snakes in all of their pictures sitting on their Harley wearing a Jack Daniel’s T shirt that they chewed the sleeves off of all by themselves.”

Thankfully, I kept my money and left Elvira in suspense. Because this was not the time and place for me to be looking at a date. 

On my walk today, I was doing what friends call “playing the tape.” I rewound and reviewed MY stellar online dating history, in terms of actual relationships. And after “George”, there were two significant relationships. And both ended with people getting hurt. So to take care of my heart and respect the heart’s of others, I intend to be clear with me that my motives are good the next time if I choose to cough up the money for another three months of Match.com or POFFOT.com (Plenty of fish floating on top.) Ever.

Also, I have decided that I will reward Elvira with a housewarming present that costs $65.97 when I get to Florida in lieu of throwing that money at something that may not be necessary for me to meet people and date. 

When I was active there in February, I had one date with a guy who actually started the conversation before me. That was a first. We talked long distance for a month. Then, one date in person. And that was that. I had one other date that was scheduled and to be honest, I was more interested in the dinner out than the guy. His Facebook was arrogant and label conscious. So, I made a big decision for me. I cancelled the date. That was new behavior. And it was uncomfortable because there was a part of me that feared, “What if no one else will want to go out with me? Maybe I should make myself go just to see.” And when I saw myself having THAT kind of dialog with me, I decided I was done with online dating. Until further notice. And that I was only going to be in the two relationships. One with God and one with me, letting God come up with the partner on his own time. Can you say surrender? That is what it was. And it was unfamiliar to do so with the relationship department. 

Since that time, I have become closer to me and to God. The me part has been surprisingly delightful. I listened for a month to Deepak and Oprah on a meditation where Deepak talks about how the love that we want outside from another has to come from inside. Only then can we attract what we want. By being the thing we want.

With that in mind, it is my intention to continue to treat me as I would want to be treated in a romantic partnership. That means I make myself the same nice dinners that I would for a date. That I make time for the things I love like a good movie, rather than hanging out in the wasteland of Facebook all night long. That means getting a good night’s sleep. I can get the physical needs met. All by myself. (Use your imagination.) Companionship ala social distancing, with friends and physical touch, I am going back to massage therapy.

As for the God shaped hole issue, I am uncomfortable for many reasons. All of which need my full attention. Without the distraction and time spent sitting in front of my computer. Looking at dating profiles. Wondering if there is a “the one” on online dating. 

That also means NOT wasting the same time I would trolling Facebook to be on Match.com or

Eharonearmiss.com or 

Unhinged.com or

Bumblingidiot.com

OKCupidHitMeAgain.com or

OurTimeHasComeButYouCanSeeByMyPictureThatMyTimeMightBeReallySoon.com

Time that could be spent resting, packing, writing, painting, watching movies, enjoying my 22 year old daughter, who launches into the world when I move 800 plus miles away from her.

I am about to start a new chapter in a new home in a new state, so I can’t think of a better time to just do what is in front of me, allow God to do what God does best. Everything. My friend Margie knows how much I long to love another to old age. She said “What you want is a tall order. When you go to a restaurant, a tall order takes time to prepare. You don’t want fast food.” Margie is right. I don’t.

And in the meantime I gotta say, I am a lot of fun. I’m funny and talented and worth my time to get to know better. So I will write my book. And practice my canvas art. Doing all the next right things that come up.

I will stay open. And I trust that God and the Universe are conspiring on my behalf. So with the prayer asked by me submitting to God my heart’s desire to have a loving partnership in my life and the three answer option being “yes, no and wait”, I am going to wait. 

Blursday, Meptember 58th, 2020

Blursday, Meptember 58th, 2020

I went to meet a friend last week for coffee. We have known each other for five years.We are close. And we have been separated by hundreds of miles since November. 

“Let’s meet at the same Starbuck’s where we first met five years ago.” She said. 

“Great. We can sit outside. I look forward to it!”

When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw her there. In her truck. Waiting for me. And it got different. What would have once been two friends getting out of their cars and hugging each other tights while this one screams or yells or makes something of a scene for the joy at seeing my friend, that is not what happened. 

In Tulsa, Oklahoma where I live, our mayor had us shelter in place for the month of April. 

Then, on May 1st, we were open for business.

In less than two months, the death toll from COVID19 worldwide has gone from 50K to 371K. In the US, from 6K  to 106K.

Those are daunting numbers from where I sit.

Now there is a practice called “social distancing.” Kind of an oxymoron. Or a mixed message. Definitely a shitty thing to experience as a social creature.
I love people. I am a people person. And while I say I have acclimated here to the experience of not being social in person, I do really miss. People. 

Our coffee date got complicated really quick. She had a mask on. I had a mask on. Mine is the face of a smiling dog, which I got after hating the experience of having my smile covered up at the grocery store. The plan was to sit outside at Starbuck’s for coffee. But the weather was wet and all of the outdoor tables were stacked up. Not an option. 

Now, before we have even begun to have our reunion, one that was meant to be coffee and then a walk together to catch up, we were facing potentially life and death decisions, just to think whether to go inside for a coffee. 

I am not yet comfortable with the idea of being inside a restaurant where there might be some human incubators having coffee so instead, we decide to go to a nearby neighborhood to go for a walk. 

And when we went for our walk, that too, was different. We were constantly being mindful of keeping our recommended six foot distance so that spit from laughter wouldn’t try to make one of us sick. Walking on opposite sides of the neighborhood street. When people would pass by with their dogs or partners, everyone spread out, as if one of us smelled REALLY BAD. 

I love my friend. But I don’t love the situation we are still in with respect to health safety and the fact that the prudent measures to preserve that include keeping those we love at six foot long arms length. 

My arms are tired of it. And so is my heart. But I know that I am powerless over it. It is what it is, that phrase that annoys the shit out of me, applies. 

And while I am truly grateful for the things I have been able to do during this time, this part feels like punishment. And no one did anything wrong.

I am nervous about the future. This is going to take a while. And I can be tempted to join others who are close in proximity, out to dinner, gathering for coffee. 

A few days ago, I went to the park with less than ten friends. This is the most social interaction I have had since February. We sat six feet or more apart. Some wore masks. There was one who chose to sit right next to another. They do not share the same home. I felt like I was watching reckless behavior. At first, I was angry. And judgmental. The anger came from fear. I was also jealous.

I want to touch my friends. And I want to be touched. I am lucky to live with my daughter who I get to touch. I used to meet with large groups of friends on a regular basis. We would crowd the room of a Sunday School class, thirty or forty of us. Lining the walls in little kid chairs. All sharing experience, strength and hope with each other. Laughing. Crying. I am fortunate that I still get to meet with these people either by phone or on ZOOM meetings with video. But it is not the same. 

At the park with the small group, I left that gathering high. I was stimulated by the human engagement, albeit at six plus feet apart. We were in the same space. Three dimensional. I could hear everyone’s responses as people shared one at a time. In the ZOOM meeting setting, there is no way to look around a room when someone bares their soul to see the compassion on the faces of those who are listening. To feel that sense that is only possible in person. A body gathered. In the flesh. That is spiritual. And I miss it terribly. 

Tonight, I sat down to watch a movie. I had a wonderful productive day. A ZOOM meeting at one end, a conference call in the middle. And a gorgeous sunny day around all of that. A couple of calls with friends. Packed a little for my upcoming move to Florida. Hung out with my daughter who lives with me until she went fishing. I made a nice dinner of shrimp and zucchini with garlic butter pasta and baked chocolate chip cookies with a date with me and my couch and a movie to look forward to.

And once I sat down to watch the movie, what I got was not that sigh of relief or satisfaction after a productive day. Instead, I felt ill at ease. Because I am alone. And tired of that. It is not that I don’t like my company. I have been better alone with me in recent months than I have been in many years. It is just that there is so much of that with this pandemic. It is the fact that the option to have a friend over or to go be with a friend has risks to consider. 

I fear that it will wear on me. Like water on a rock. And that I will put myself in a vulnerable place health wise to join those who are laughing along the restaurant cafes in my neighborhood. So at least, I thought if I write it all down, maybe by sharing with you, I won’t be alone. And I can get on with my movie.

In case you are wondering, it is “St. Vincent” with Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy. A feel good comedy that I have seen and selected as part of my delightful day. And I do feel better. So thanks for listening.

Gifted

Gifted

May 31, 2020 The Year Of Perfect Vision

I write three pages every morning, 99% of the time. Along with that, I have a dedicated time for prayer and meditation from which I get up and go into my day. Lately, I have noticed that those are the best two hours of some of my days. 

So I decided today in writing those three pages to try something different. Because lately, I have had some dis ease in my days after those two yummy spiritual and safe hours parked in the corner of my gray couch looking out my picture window. 

This morning, I wrote to my God. Starting a conversation. I like to think talking to my God is a prayer. One that my God is always at the ready for. In fact, I am almost certain that for my entire life, my God has been waiting eagerly for me to engage. In a relationship. 

So, if I apply the things I do in my human relationships, the ones that I nurture with time and conversation and listening, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I have an ongoing conversation with my God today, starting with these three morning pages?” 

I strive to live my life in 24 hour increments. I believe that those things we call days were set up to have a beginning and an end with rest as a key part, in order to survive some of the events that take place in that 24 hour period in the world we live in. My God is clever that way. Setting up a finite timeframe in which to live my life. 

I say “my” God, because I don’t want to suggest that there is only one God. I mean, there may be. Or maybe there is not. I do not know. But for me, I choose to say my God so as to not confuse my belief system with some that are associated with the word God where people have been harmed in that setting. I respect ALL beliefs of whatever a person chooses to pray to, worship, believe in, surrender to. Also, it really is not my business to judge anyone because I don’t know much. 

“So God, what do you want from me today?” I opened it up right away. Requesting marching orders. Opening myself up for an assignment. Which I got. I went on. “Please show me as I go. I really want you there. I know that you have always been there. The times I did not feel your presence, were the times that I was shutting you out. I am sorry God. Forgive me. And thanks because I know that you do.

You are so kind and generous too. I have noticed this. I also see that you are not pushy. And man, are you ever patient. Sitting there. Open to my call. And if you are in a place called Heaven and there is a Phyllis Bunn there with you, the one who hosted me for 9 months before I launched into the world, I am quite sure you have sore ribs. From her elbow. Digging into them.” “Ok God, my kid is there and she is not looking to you. She is living in her head again. Maybe you could use that Facebook thingamajiggy and put one of those memories in her face. You know, the ones where she WAS talking to you and reading from books that made her mindful of you and then she shared them on the Facebooks!’” I am pretty sure that if there is a Heaven and a God that lives there, that God is taking naps because of my mom. Constantly nagging for her kids on earth to get in touch. Be cared for. Things that she failed at through most of her life as a mother.

In my conversation, I found myself expressing my gratitude. It just came out that way. It was not even my intent, yet. “God, thank you. I know that all those time when I was afraid, you really were there. When I had breast cancer, you saved me. Twice.

The first time when you spoke to my gut that while I had a garden variety breast tumor, I needed to seek treatment 1400 miles from home. In Costa Mesa, California. And that because of that, when I returned home to do the recommended chemotherapy and that doctor greeted me with the news that my cancer had returned, was incurable, that I could be made comfortable for two years. And you dropped the mic God when she went on to say that the chemotherapy medication she had planned to give me was the one mentioned in the only bit of scientific fact I remembered from the frightening journey through cancer that the drug she was recommending did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in those tests to kill those cancer cells.

So thanks, God, for saving me twice, as I listened to your inner nudging from my place in a ball on the floor of the lobby of St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, OK. There on the phone, that doctor who took the tumor out an left it somewhere in a dumpster in Orange County said “I have no confidence in what that doctor is telling you, “ followed up by a whole week in California, scanning every inch of me, only to find that there was no cancer recurrence.

You saved me God from the malpractice that could have killed me.”  I need to remember these things, even though writing them down brings some strong feelings of remembering the terror I felt at that time 17 years ago.

“So God, I have noticed that when I go into my days lately, that I feel less in touch with what you want for me. I strive to do what is my purpose, but the connection to you just gets so remote, like the farther away from my morning time, the farther away you become. And I see that it is me who allows that distance to come in. So I am happy for the anxious thoughts that have plagued me here lately. Over my future. Short term and long. Because it is a direct signal to me that I need to be in better contact with you. And talking to you via writing is a great way for me to do that. So thanks. For the gift of the awareness that when things become difficult, there are actions I can take to change that and that you are all over it. Whenever I simply reach out.” Just writing this is centering for me. 

I am amused at the fact that the things I worry about are just my perspective. And that worry is a choice. But more than that, today I decided that worry is more than a choice. Worry is an insult to my God and all that has been done for me to date. It is dismissive of the many times I have lived when I should have died or killed someone else for my choices and actions. I drove drunk many times. More than I can remember because most of the time that I chose to drink, I would black out and do things that I did not remember until the horrible recounting of those who were with me at those times.

For that, I could have been a felon. Killing someone with a moving vehicle. Or killing myself. 

If I look at my life from the perspective of how many times I could have died, I would be a cat to the infinity power. Way more than nine lives have been gifted to me.  These are just four. In my book they each count for way more than one lifetime.

  1. Sober from the disease of alcoholism
  2.  Recovered from the disease of Anorexia
  3. Cured of the disease of breast cancer
  4. Healed of the chronic desire to kill myself on multiple occasions over half of my life.

I have been accepted! Into the gifted program. Yup. Me! 

Gifted with life. Repeatedly. When I was ready to throw it away. Gifted with a creativity that is a direct connection to my soul. Through writing, painting, making people laugh. Making people feel valued. Inspiring others to tell their truth by sharing mine.

Gifted with time.

Gifted with energy.

Gifted with a voice.

Gifted with money.

Gifts not to be squandered but to be spent wisely. So just for this day, I will do that. And with that, I am going to stop for now. Because I get to go outside in the beautiful sunshine. And breathe because I can. And walk because my legs work. And straighten my house. Because I have been gifted with shelter. And fold my laundry. Because I have been gifted with clothing. And cook my daughter dinner. Because I have been gifted with her and a kitchen that has electricity and appliances and food in it. 

And tonight, I get to bake cookies. Because at my house, after 90 days of social distancing during a pandemic, cake and cookies are now a food group. And these cookies, I will get to share. With someone I love. Who does not live here, but who is alive and who I have a relationship with today that I never thought I would.

One last thing. I challenge you. As you read this. If you are feeling hopeless, look for one thing in your day. To be grateful for. Even if it is just that you can’t find something to be grateful for. Be grateful for that. Because I can promise you that if you just keep breathing and showing up, that can change. For the better. And that hope can be a part of your life.

Also, I love you.

Lucinda