We’re All a Little Crazy

These are things I tell myself when I feel an anxiety attack coming on, which happens about once on good days.

  • You are invisible. People who look at you can’t really see you.
  • Humans can smell fear. As long as you don’t act afraid, they won’t hurt you.
  • Name off as many words as you can that begin with C but make the S sound. Cistern, circular, celestial…
  • Notice people’s shoes.
  • Count in Binary on your fingers. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
  • Don’t step on the cracks.
  • Sing happy songs. “You Are My Sunshine,” “Danny Boy,” “Into the West,” “If All the Raindrops…”
  • Make believe you’re someone else, someone who’s normal and happy.
  • Hide in the bathroom until your brain stops humming.
  • Crying in bathroom stalls is allowed. Just get quiet when other shoes shuffle inside.
  • Hugging yourself is allowed.
  • Don’t smile unless you want to. They can’t take that choice away from you.
  • Don’t speak.
  • Pretend you’re safe.
  • This isn’t real life. Real life is much better. You’ll get there someday.
  • There are other Maneys out there. They understand that people can get broken.

Querido

This is for my sweetheart.

It always amazes me that after the things I’ve gone through, I can still find a place in my black and smoking heart to keep him. I feel so mangled sometimes, like a crushed china plate, or a grimy, cobwebbed window, or a hopeless love song lost at sea. I’m drifting through life, barely breathing, hardly speaking, and my anchors to the world slip constantly through my cold fingers. And I’m alone, all alone, so alone and utterly lonely.

And he, he is warm laughter ringing through white noise. He is crinkly, blue trapezoid eyes and shy smiles and sunbeam eyelashes. He is fingers dancing over piano keys and knowing how to waltz and listening listening listening. He is calling me a sassbox; he is reminding me softly, “Good things are worth waiting for.” He is spastic dance-parties and homemade German pancakes and inviting me to join the friend group. And he, he is looking at the stars and thinking about me. He, he, is thinking about me.

If we don’t work out, if we’re never really together, if it just can’t be, then I will be grateful for that breathtaking boy who made me feel like I could be whole again. Because love isn’t just selfies and diamonds and babies and taxes, although those pieces have their place.

Love, I think, is changing people from the inside out, making them better. And I will always love my querido, if only for the way he taught me to love myself.

Confessions of a Beautiful Girl

I’ve done a bad thing. All last semester I chose not to wear makeup. Not because I was super against animal testing or the exploited image of women in the media or anything. I just wasn’t interested. And I guess I got used to the way my face naturally looks (unless you count using prescription contacts; otherwise I’d stumble around in a blind daze and probably get run over by a tree). I take personal hygiene seriously, but mascara and hair products? Foundation and straighteners? Not my thing.

So all through the first week of this semester, I determinedly showered in the morning (not my fav), put on makeup, and skipped off all sparkly to school. Everything was fine and dandy until the weekend. I realized that I had come to sincerely believe that I am just as pretty without makeup as I am with it. So why waste time, money, and brain-space on something that, in my opinion, doesn’t improve my look?

This is another thing that might not be okay: I’ve taken to covering up mirrors around the house and replacing them with sayings like “Love yourself!” “God loves you!” and “God looketh on the heart!” (1 Samuel 16:7) I’m tired of judging myself if my first thought isn’t going to be “Oh MAN, this girl is attractive!” or “What a wonderful daughter of God!” or “Could I be anymore awesome?!” Maybe mirrors are just a conspiracy to make us all think we aren’t enough to be beautiful or handsome or “okay.” (Admittedly I may be going insane, but at least I’ll have good self-esteem as my sanity boat leaves the harbor… if it hasn’t already left.)

Maybe you’re wondering why I think these things are bad. Well, I don’t know exactly. I just feel like it isn’t normal and I should be more concerned with my outward appearance. Right? Isn’t that a big part of what gets people friends and jobs and eventually a spouse? Looking… pretty? EXCEPT, I think that I am pretty! And I believe that God thinks I’m pretty. In fact, I believe He thinks I’m beautiful. So… the gray dots* have kind of stopped sticking. Sorry, advertisers.

*(see You Are Special by Max Lucado)

P.S. Hello! to whoever (whomever?) is reading this. I just wanted to acknowledge that you exist. I tell people I only blog for myself but I guess that doesn’t make sense. So if you want to comment or anything, I’ll respond. I’m a writer, and writers write. They also, I am coming to realize, need help writing. I’ll take constructive criticism or compliments or arguments or agreements. Thanks for being here. God loves you. Keep shining.

Litany of Banal Platitudes

Don’t give up. Don’t let go.

Keep going. Keep it up. Keep moving forward. Keep your faith.

You can do it. You are enough. You are wonderful. You are perfect. You are unique.

You have incredible potential. You are here for a reason. You are a child of God.

God loves you. He knows what you are capable of. He believes in you.

Follow your heart. Follow your dreams. Focus on the positive.

Choose to be happy. Choose to move forward. Choose to forgive.

Move on. Move up. The world needs you. We need you. We want you to make it.

You are, in and of yourself, of infinite worth and good enough.

Remember how valuable you really are.

Turkeys; Understanding Zero to One

(writes “0-1” on the whiteboard)

I have this friend who’s told me on multiple different occasions that he wishes he could be a turkey. I feel like, of all the animals in the world, why would you choose a creepy and delicious one? You’re doomed to be scorned all your life and eventually served with mashed potatoes. Besides, don’t turkeys do that thing of looking up at the rain and drowning? How pathetic can you get? Well, the truth is, we can all be turkeys.

I’ve spent much of the last year convincing myself every day that my life is still worth living. Mostly this is because of a few traumatic events that occurred in my life last year. In March I was officially diagnosed with clinical depression and some PTSD. This has been good because I finally got medical attention for my emotional problems. I tell you this because I want to introduce myself to you as a failure. I never intended to make the mistakes I did; I never planned on getting my heart broken, losing my self-esteem, being afraid to answer the phone. I never wanted to be the girl crying in the bathroom stall. Can I not call myself a failure in this sense? I had a lot of great expectations for my senior year of high school. It’s hard to believe I spent most of my lunches in the science room, not talking to anyone, shutting out the world.

So now that I’ve established myself as a depressed failure and threatened you with turkeydom, I’ll get to the point. Lots of people, just like me, find themselves in unfortunate, unpleasant, and unexpected situations. Say they lose a loved one, they lose their job, they get an inhibiting disease, etc. They, just like me, might subscribe to the “life sucks and then you die” philosophy. You’d think that no one else has more right to think this than turkeys, right? One minute they’re the butt of the joke, and the next minute people are roasting and eating their butt. However, turkeys are more enlightened than some of us pessimistic people. They understand the concept of “zero to one.”

(points to the whiteboard)

Imagine that God is up in Heaven with all His creations, and He’s giving numbers to everyone to represent their place in the great scheme of things. Using the numbers from zero to infinity, He gives people more numbers if they have more potential for greatness. You watch as God gives Lady Gaga all the numbers between 2,000 and 3,000; that seems fair, you think. There’s no one else quite as interesting as Lady Gaga; her fashion choices are so hot they’re bacon. Then God turns to you and says,

“Well, my child, I’ve decided to give you all the numbers between zero and one.”

Your first thought is, “Why didn’t I think of a meat dress?!”

Really, though, can you imagine? Here you are, staring up at your creator, and even He seems to think you will amount to nothing. Ah, if only you were a turkey. You would realize that there is an infinite amount of numbers between zero and one. God is just being God; confusing you beyond belief while at the same time making His thoughts perfectly clear. He smiles wisely and says,

“My child, I have given you just what you need. Make of it what you will.”

Whether you like it or not, God is saying that you have infinite potential for greatness, although at first glance it may appear otherwise.  You can choose to be satisfied with infinite potential, or you can focus on the fact that you only got the numbers between zero and one. You can choose to be satisfied with your depression and anxiety issues, and allow yourself to be grateful for your opportunity to be alive, to make a difference in people’s lives, to experience love and pain deeply.

I am looking at a classroom full of failures. We have all been given the numbers between zero and one. Our lives won’t turn out the way we expect. We won’t achieve some of our dreams. Bad things will happen to us, some of them beyond our control. How do we measure our life when it hurts to admit we only got from zero to one? We have to forget the breadth of our existence and focus on the depth. Turkeys understand this.

Turkeys are debatably ugly creatures. They have these floppy red things all over their faces, called the snood, wattle, and caruncles. Male turkeys are bred too large to have natural fertilization without hurting the hens, so that part of turkey life is done artificially. They are produced on farms and kept in such close quarters that they can’t even stand up without touching another bird. What a sad life.

And yet, when it rains, turkeys look up.

Whatever the reason, and whether or not turkeys really do drown in the rain, when they feel the raindrops on their feathers, they forget the pathetic reality they exist in for a few precious seconds. They may even forget that their eyes don’t allow them to focus on what’s above them. For those seconds, with the water running down their back, with the steady rhythm of drops hitting the dirt, with the distant thunder rolling over the earth, turkeys partake of their own “zero to one;” their piece of eternity.

This is why we all can be turkeys. We have the ability to pause occasionally in life and look up. Despite our flaws, our faults, our mistakes, our regrets, we still can achieve greatness. We are all connected to that wondrous, flowing, bonding river of numbers, that eternal supply of remarkable human capability, no matter if we have a snood or anything.

I have experienced pain to a degree that I thought wasn’t humanly possible. I never thought I would end up like I am now. And yet, I need not be afraid to live my life. I know that I will fail again and again and again. I can be a turkey; I was given the numbers between zero and one. It’s up to me, and each of us, to decide that our lot of zero to one is equivalent to an infinite potential for good.

Jack Black, Thank You

I’m really grateful for people who put together funny movies with inspirational messages and gift-wrap them in Jack Black ribbons and paper. The couch and I watched School of Rock (again) tonight, and, man. There’s nothing like a good movie to set you free from the anxieties of life.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Jack Black. Off the top of my head, I’ve only seen his movies Kung Fu Panda, School of Rock, Nacho Libre, uh… and parts of The Rocker and The Holiday. (To be honest again, I used Google. So, not off the top of my head. Hello.) What I know about Jack Black is that he is hilarious, a good actor, and he made me a happier person tonight.

(I feel like I have to clarify that I don’t advocate swearing, drug use, what have you–a few realities of the world the movie dared to portray. I don’t know exactly where to draw the line of “sin” when it comes to number of curse words in a movie. Some people stop liking movies because they find out bad things about the actors, but I feel morally okay about liking the awesome product of someone who is living their life differently from mine.)

In the immortal words of Dewey Finn (Jack Black), “Dude, I service society by rocking, OK? I’m out there on the front lines liberating people with my music!”

To the people who create art and share it with the world: Thank you. You make my life better. No, you are not defending our country from foreign attackers, transplanting vital organs in operating rooms, or teaching young children how to be good human beings, but you carry us all through the drudgery that is life. We all owe you so much. Keep creating.

Depression

It’s like when your baby brother spits up a clam-chowder-like concoction all over your neck and shirt and over your shoulder onto the carpet. You are revolted but you’re the only adult at home so you know you’re going to have to clean it up sooner or later. A sour milk smell is rising and he’s bawling in your ear and you can feel the slime oozing under your shirt and drying, making your shirt stick to your skin and you just stepped in a chunky puddle and how is he still spitting up?!

You could abandon ship. Drop the baby and rip your shirt off and run and take a shower and pretend nothing’s happening. La la la, I can’t hear you, I’m safe.

Or you can deal with the problem. Allow yourself a moment to accept reality and maybe get some paper towels or something. Yes, now you’re the adult in the situation so you have to figure this out. I suggest lots of soothing and scrubbing and possibly some scented candles.

But. In that moment, when you take on the spit-up:

“How can this smell so awful? What are those chunks? Why am I doing this? Why did this happen to me? Why don’t I just leave this alone and let someone else take care of it? This is never going to come out of my clothes. I won’t be able to shower off the smell until Mom gets home. Why am I doing this? This is disgusting! It doesn’t make sense! I don’t want to deal with this it’s not my fault can I please just deal with someone else’s problems…”

In that moment of facing your problem, you are heroic. You are invincible. You are perfect.

Spit-up is like depression. You’re the only one at home, so even though the situation’s beyond horrifying and definitely not your fault, you’re going to have to clean up the mess sooner or later. To be honest, I’m still scrubbing, and while I find the task uncomfortable, I refuse to abandon ship. My brother is counting on me.