Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness and Other Ridiculous Endeavors


I am into small pschological adjusters.

Coping Mechanisms Recently Utilized in the Curry Family

-Milk Duds
-Harry Potter Books, Repeatedly Read By Various Family Members Until Pages Fall Out
-Champagne with cran-cherry juice splash
-Swimming Pools
-Ridiculous Jokes, Obnoxious, Snorting Laughter ( "Mom you are the most without a doubt the most and without DOUBT the most embarrassing ridiculous mom ever in the history of time" )
-Parodies of shows, songs, and people ( " haha! ' New Poon' is the porn of ' New Moon' haha ) *
-Nightly wrestling in the living room/kitchen area to the point of knocking pictures off the wall **
-Admissions of guilt, ie 'confession' : " I ate the ice cream " " I farted " " I'm sorry I put Vagisil cream on your owie instead of Neosporin " " Damnit I broke another cup " " I chewed the entire pack of gum last night "
-Sex***

* No children involved in this joke
** Mr. Curry and the boys must own this one
***No children involved



I have given up smoking ( began: age 15 quit: age 30- also for both pregnancies ) heavy drinking, self indulgent pity over small infractions, self flagellation in various forms and other vices, all intended to control the chaos inside. What I need to be ' OK ' ( In AA, 'fine' stands for Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional ) has, over the years, morphed from what keeps me barely stable to what keeps me ' happy '. By happy, I mean grateful, looking forward to things, loved, loving, etc- to feel ' happy ' is not a constant state of mind for normal humans who are not Zen masters or stoned out of their mind. I haven't been stoned since 1990.

Having had an abusive, lonely childhood, I was transphormed by pregnancy as an unwed teenage mother, given a reason to live beyond myself. I had to have something else to live for, and Dakota, my boy, he was that, as easily and profoundly and clearly as a clarion call. I began to shed more vice, move toward a better life, but it was the steady, clear light of my love for him that was the headlight in the fog. I still felt depressed all the time. I was depressed, clinically so, for most of my life. I've only felt as good as I do now for the last three years. I had three years before then, after Lola, holding steady at another level of 'good', and then all the years after Dakota was born. The Before Dakota Was Born is a long, mournful howling of the soul. It still rings inside of me like a depressive's tinnitus. It is part of me.

The letting go of vice and moving toward a higher level of existence, of happiness, was based on the belief I had that I would see no immediate results, but instead a slow, long, excrutiating rehabilitation. Which is what it was. I put in so much work. Long years of therapy, teetering on the edge of my own abyss, long years of fear, shaking panic attacks in the middle of the night, staring at the clean unmoved sky smoking my cigarette with shaking hand, praying to God although I had no faith- only hope- and this was enough for me.

Some Things I Believed That Kept Me From Complete Despair

-Focusing on myself brought blurry vision and misery. Helping others, giving of myself through family and friends but also strangers and volunteer work, gave clarity, meaning, and relief from isolation. I knew early on that the answers did not lie in fervent self improval alone, but came as much, if not more, from what I could learn and receive from helping/connecting to those who suffered.
- Zoloft
- Excercise. I had always been exhausted, later to be diagnosed with various problems. But depression + physical problems means an urgent need for exercise, to help the body balance and detox. So I forced myself, after Dakota was born, for the first time ever. Bought a video, worked out five days a week, felt better. Less sad.
- Nutrional healing is key when mental problems exist. I'm sure that suffering, if it was a tangible thing, would eat sugar and white bread. In fact I'm sure it does.
- Hard, meaninful work clears the mind. The pilgrim thinking, the farmer mentality, so true. Hard work is the answer to many an ill, and important for a meaningful life, in whatever form it takes .
- Learning makes me happy.
- Mentors are important to growth. I found mine, for most of my years, in books.
- Yoga, when I finally gave in and tried it? AMAZING. It kills anxiety.
- Accepting, not submitting but accepting, that I was depressed and scared all my life, and stopping fighting against it, but moving forward accepting I felt it, knowing that the human condition was overflowing with people who felt like me and worse, was key to moving away from those feelings. I had to stop feeling deeply, deeply sorry for myself in order to begin healing.

These days I have no belief that I am safe from emotional furies. I have felt them ebb and flow, and my life with Mr. Curry has been very difficult. We are extremely poor, both of us have to manage emotional problems, we are a blended family, and I have had serious health problems and surgeries which in addition to the obvious stresses have ruined me financially. But the perspective that I have on my life is priceless to me. Priceless. I know that when the skies clear at night and the wind stills and the earth is letting out the bats and owls and tigers, my cries are not the loudest, and my pain is not singular. We are not alone. We have each other in this life. For me, that is the majority of what blogging is about.

-
love, maggie
chelle said...

I smoked for a long time too. Finally quit before I got pregnant with my second. Now I find running, reading and crafting to save my sanity when I need it.

katiecrackernuts said...

Blog on.

Julia Rizzolo Blackman, said...

That's such a positive post. I guess writing a blog also helps as a copying mechanism.
We love reading them.

Julia x

adrienne said...

at the moment, i am repelling the slippery walls of the abyss. slippery, jealous walls, they are.

my focus is on gratitude. the compassionate, and i think brilliant doctor majid ali offers the quote 'the best reason for practicing gratitude that i know is that it makes getting out of the bed in the morning less demanding.'

it's helping. how deeply i appreciate your generosity, maggie may.

sharing the darkest of your moments, admitting despair, addiction, as well as triumph that most importantly doesn't boast or alienate readers who have yet to find their own light.

oh, that we all make it to brighter days. may it be so.

michelle said...

maggie may... again, I love your words. I think this post will help so many, as so many will be able to relate to every sentence.

I am continually amazed by what we, suffering from the human condition, are able to endure and overcome.

HeureuseLesFleur said...

As a fellow survivor, I thank you for your allowing others to know your story. It helps so many of us on so many levels.

Jeanne said...

You have such a gift for words. Reading this feels like I crawled inside your skin and looked out your eyes for a moment .

Zoloft was the drug that, after my second divorce, when I was teetering on the edge of the abyss you describe, gave me that tiny little fingertip prod that tipped me over. I've always figured it must work for some people -- otherwise they would have taken it off the market a long time ago.

Elizabeth said...

Beautiful post from which I can learn so much. thank you, thank you, thank you...

Mwa said...

Your blog makes me feel less alone, too.

Have you tried mindfulness as well? Looking at the list, I'd guess you would have.

Shannon said...

I love this post! I love you darlin. I know I don;t comment here often enough. Honestly I think it is your LONG LIST of readers and commentators that intimidates me, heh.

I have been toying with smoking again after quitting over 10 years ago. Sigh. It is so tempting- but- it seems that you and I have a lot in common, We have discussed this numerous times. I am at a place where I am again have to think about these vices of mine and how they effect my overall happiness.

I hope I am coherent at least a little. 9:56 and I am still sucking down the daily dose of caffeine that is my biggest vice.

Babe in Babeland said...

You are such a strong and beautiful woman. When I read what your write, I am inspired. Thank you!

Elle Bee... said...

I know that when the skies clear at night and the wind stills and the earth is letting out the bats and owls and tigers, my cries are not the loudest, and my pain is not singular. We are not alone. We have each other in this life.

This is amazing. Oh Maggie, you're a magnificent woman. I love your outlook on life.

That one girl said...

Sounds like your head is exactly where it should be.

I absolutely believe in the power of hard work, eating healthy and exercise. So, keep it up girl.

And, yoga rocks.

Love your writing.

You are awesome and it sounds like your family knows how to have a good time. Laughter sure is a good medicine.

Along with sex of course!

Laura Lee said...

ah, such good and faithful words...

thank you!

krista said...

you had me at murakami.

yolanda said...

i am always here , maggie, with you. letter soon letter soon...
but i am so lazy in the swimming pool...

much love
yolanda lola

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Maggie,
I was diagnosed as clinically depressed years ago. There is wisdom in your words. If only I would get my ass moving and exercise. I just can't seem to do it on a regular basis. I just hate it. It's hard to get off your ass and exercise when you hardly have the energy to make it through the work day.

Thanks for sharing what you have learned.

SB

Liz said...

Great post, Maggie, keep on doing what you do do so well...a wealth of insight is your riches.
best,
Liz

Court said...

I can't get over it. Whenever I read your posts I want to hug you because you get it. I can't explain it in words but I totally get it too.

Again, you are such a beautiful writer.

Paula said...

Your followers, including myself, are a testament to your non-aloneness. We are listening, understanding, relating, and sharing in your ebb and flows, as you are in ours. I really wish my blog could be so candid, perhaps someday...Thanks for another beautiful post.

Valerie Loveland said...

I feel the same way about exercise. If I don't write, or I don't exercise, I get the same stressed irritability. I wonder how they're related. I am also hypoglycemic, so I can't eat sugar/white flour without having a problem.

Lola said...

I couldn't agree more with almost all of your answers to life's struggles...

Heidi said...

again, thank you for your brutal honesty because it keeps me honest too. i cannot explain how or why, it just does maggie. i feel that i have been drawn to your blog for a reason and every time i read it, i relate in some way. smoking, alcohol, depression, these are just some of the ways i relate. the pursuit of happiness is my daily struggle and blogging has helped me achieve this in ways i never thought possible. thank you maggie.Hx

The Girl said...

I just always kind of want to hug you. I hope that's not weird (who are we kidding - it's totally weird.) It wouldn't be a little one-armed hug, either, but like... bone bending. Almost painful. Dunno why exactly, but it's true. I guess I'm always grateful for what you write.

Thomma Lyn said...

How true that focus on loved ones, getting good exercise, eating well, and working hard do so much to lessen sadness and anxiety. Those are things that help me, too. I'm glad that over the years you've been able to connect more and more with your strength and with the joys in life. That's a big part of my journey, too.

Thanks for visiting my blog yesterday! :)

Maggie May said...

..and i want to hug you all too, squeezy hugs. sometimes i hesitate to hit 'post' because i wonder if i'm being too honest for 'most' people's sensibilities...many of my own favorite blogs focus on the joys of life and love and it's very uplifting but can be intimidating. sometimes to share how deeply flawed i am and have been kind of gives me a stomachache. :) but i keep doing it. so!

thanks so much for your commisseration. it is so awesome to have you guys to 'talk to'.

Lacey said...

I need to print this and frame it... it's got "motivational poster" written all over it, but instead of being annoying it's beautiful and inspiring. Thank you, Miss Maggie. :-)

Maggie May said...

Valerie I'm convinced there is a connection with sugar sensitivity (including hypoglycemia and prediabetes) and anxiety. I know that sugar makes my heart rate shoot up.

clarewbrown said...

I love reading these wonderful and inspiring posts! Please keep them coming! They make me smile!

Jessica said...

Such a wonderful post! So glad to hear you have found ways to cope. I think we all deal with so much it's hard to stay "together." Congrats on doing as well as you have.

JJ Keith said...

Reading posts like this is what blogging is all about for me.

Pris said...

Thanks for sharing all of this. Your have a great blog in general. I'm putting you on my follow feed on my blog.

Badass Geek said...

New Poon.

Awesome.

Kate Hanke said...

Congratulations on quitting smoking after 15 years, that's quite an accomplishment! Thanks for visiting my site. Please feel free to stop by anytime, I'll leave the light on for you!

Janna Bee said...

You have a wonderful outlook on life. I love this post.

Geezees Geezees Custom Canvas Art said...

love this post...makes me want to start doing yoga agin...i felt calmer and happeir doing a little every night...
thank you for the reminder....

Shaylen Maxwell said...

*** no children involved, just made, maybe. Haha. And I love chocolate chips, they are such brain food.

: )

Crystal @ Plush Palate said...

I LOVE that quote you have at the beginning of the post. So touching and so true!

You have a lovely blog Maggie May :)

xoxo Crystal

San Diego Momma said...

And I say, yea.

Sing it.

Captain Dumbass said...

I love Murikami. I've had your post opened but collapsed at the bottom of my screen since last night, I think. Can't remember what I was going to say now. Glad you quit smoking though.

LENORENEVERMORE said...

Inspiring...will help some people I'm sure! This my first time visiting your blog...Lovely, & will certainly enjoy your archives!

xo*

starrlife said...

Such impressive strength and discipline! An amazing post, thanks. So many jewels and gems....

Bee said...

I'm all about coping mechanisms. Homemade chocolate chip cookies and a good book and lunch with a friend worked today.

I have been reading all of your posts from the last couple of weeks, and I marvel -- as ALWAYS -- at the quality of your writing and your thinking . . . and also your honesty. Your emotions are like a power surge. Despite my very stable and loving childhood, I feel such a mental affinity with you, Maggie May. How can this be? THAT is the power of language as you use it. xxxx

Heidi said...

Acceptance and that we are not alone - two beautiful things I hang on to as well.

anymommy said...

Your soul just shines through this one, all of them, but I really love this one. You've hit on it, why blogging means so much to so many.

Annje said...

I read little pieces of this and then finally got to finish the part about not being alone. Blogging has been that for me in some ways too--feeling accompanied in a strange way, seeing that others cope and feeling capable of coping oneself.

Bobbie Leigh said...

Great post, and smoking is terrible to quit. It's crazy how damaged childhoods can affect us ad adults, though you seem to have really grown from it. You are an amazing person Maggie Mae.

Holly said...

reading this post with priscilla ahn's "dream" in the background made this especially moving.

Laura said...

I am glad you are able to find so many things to help you cope. I started smoking when I was 12 and just recently quit when I found out I was pregnant. I am glad I am done... I have been trying to quit for years. It's still hard, but it's alot easier to quite for someone else.

Nerdy Girl said...

It's very amazing that you didn't use your depression as an excuse for selfishness. That says a lot right there. I hope I can take some pointers from you.

esther lee said...

I hadn't read this until today but it means more to me today than it would have before.

Again, thank you for sharing.

But also, thank you for caring enough to share.

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