Friday, February 11, 2011

My Bloody Hands, The Rabbit's Foot

Have you ever wondered how someone got so lucky? How they ended up so happy? How they ended up so loved, so surrounded with support? Have you ever looked at someone's life and wondered what they did to have these amazing things offered to them, laid out like a fat platter of oversized donuts and chocolates for plucking?

I have.

I could say I don't know what I did to get so lucky. But I'd be lying.

..............................

First there was heartache. Confusion. Lonliness. Self-hatred. Drug use. Heavy drinking. Running away. Anorexia. Bulimia. This sounds like the life of an exhausted middle-aged burn out, but it was simply my slow, agonizing descent from childhood to late teenage years. I came from a home full of pain, various kinds of pain all meshed together in the bodies of four separate people who were, to the rest of the world, a family, but who we knew to truly be simply four desperate souls being repeatedly smashed into one another until the pieces shattered, so far flung and willfully ejected that I have not spoken to my father in twelve years, my sister in seven.

Then there was Dakota. I was nineteen. This is the beginning of my luck. I choose to have the best thing that had ever happened to me happen. I birthed a baby boy on June 22 1994 and birthed myself in order to raise him. I began therapy with Dr. T, who I found with my through cold calling therapists out of the phone book for a good month, in order to find one who would take my next to nothing payment for some help. I was bold. luckI need help, I explained shamelessly over and over. I had a terrible childhood, and now I'm supposed to be raising this child. I think I'll fuck him up really badly. Can you take $50 a session? I kept picturing the impatient doctor on the other line, pushing their glasses up their exceedingly long nose, thinning their disapproving mouth, tapping a pencil on the side of the phone to the tune of the Brady Bunch theme song until I stopped talking in order to say I'm sorry, I can't accept that measly pittance of a sum. Finally, there was Dr. T, with her large owl eyes and ridiculous height, her twinkling beautiful eyes brimming with compassion and intelligence. She took my pittance and spent four years helping me to grow up. Grow through.

Then there was the relationship. I had a boyfriend, beautiful and loyal to me who loved me as much as he could love anyone, also completely emotionally unavailable and damaged to such a degree by his dead mother ( who he found, dead in her bed after overdosing on pills and alcohol, when he went to her room to ask her money for our date to the movies. we were seventeen. he never recovered. ) who had been a mean, abusive alcoholic, that he could never offer true intimacy. My girlfriends all thought I should keep him. ( he was a beautiful shoe on display? a diamond ring on my finger? a large iguana> ) Keep him, they said. He never cheats on you. He loves you. He doesn't hit you, or scream at you, or tell you you're stupid or fat. Most importantly, he was devoted to Dakota. Tender and patient and loving and attentive to Dakota. Well, I thought, if you're going to have such high standards. The pressure to stay in the relationship, both external and internal, felt large. I was terrified to be alone. My whole life had been alone. I had found someone who may not be perfect, I thought, but who is? And my dear, practically perfect Dr. Thorpe, after seeing how much he loved me ( he came to therapy many times, only to sit with that endless depth of emptiness in his eyes as his mouth moved and make me want to weep ) said the same. No one is perfect, she said. But he loves you. I had met Dr. Thorpe's husband. Even heard a bit about him. I looked at her wise beautiful face and thought I know your secret. I know why you say that. After two years I got lucky enough to leave him. Two years of praying, two years of facing hard questions, two years of facing my fears and wondering if I was strong enough to defy the advice of even my wisest leader.

And then? Lola. Pregnant with the same man that I never married the first time I became pregnant with him, pregnant when I was in full time school at night, working part time days, living with my mom so she could watch Dakota for me at night, pregnant when I had been day tripping to L.A. for acting auditions and had just been paid almost $200 dollars to do nothing but dance all night with Justin Timberlake: I was knocked up, but not just so, really so, life altering so, like the scene in This Friday? When he says: You got knocked the fuck OUT! I wept for a month. I prayed. I prayed morning noon and night and didn't do much sleeping. I prayed over and over for the strength to do what was right. I prayed to know what to do, and then have the strength to do it. I was so lucky. I had my Lola Moon and the second next best thing to ever happen to me happened. My radiant girl, our Snow White Lola Moon. I thought I was ending everything I had wanted to have this child. I gave up acting and Hollywood and the promises that came with those opportunities, the ones I needed my freedom and beautiful young body to utilize, the two things I'd give up to have this baby. I was giving up sex, too, and dating. I was no good at it, obviously. I kept getting pregnant!

Marriage. Mr. Curry and I fell in love, you all know the story, we are so lucky... after being best friends since 19 we fell in love halfway through my pregnancy and sealed it with a kiss when Lola was a few months old. We were married before she could walk, and a year later Mr. Curry had his breakdown and told me he wanted a divorce. I wept, I railed, I grieved, but I fought. It didn't make sense, and I wasn't going down that easy. A year later he was diagnosed with Bipolar 1. Oh. Lucky. Now it would all get better. We knew what was wrong, my friends said with smiles, great! The next four years we spent in the up and down clenches of that fucking disease, that brain eater, and I watched my entire family squirm under it's growth. No marriage can be summed up in a paragraph, but both of us were willing, in turns, to be brazenly honest with ourselves, humbled, trusting when it was terrifying, to repeatedly open ourselves to each other, to work. Mr. Curry left me again, came back, and we kept trying new medications, new therapists, I read every book on bipolar and talked to everyone I knew ( or didn't know ) who had dealt with it, and finally we paid $500 cash to visit an expert I found online, who worked ONLY with Bipolar patients and who had published in many important magazines, and he gave us the elixir that worked the best so far. Lucky! Our marriage is full of desire, amazing sex, loyalty, intense intimacy and understanding, trust and the best friendship I've ever known.

Anxiety. I've been sick with anxiety for as long as I can remember. As a little girl I was afraid the alarm clock next to my bed might have a bomb in it, planted by some sinister man, and I'd creep out of bed in the darkness, hide the alarm in the far corners of the house, and lie back in bed knowing at least I'd done what I could. Of course the man I was really afraid of was lying in bed in the room next to me, and everyone said he was my father, although it didn't feel that way to me. I've had anxiety and panic attacks so severe that dying sounded like a relief, so severe that Mr. Curry has had to take me to the emergency room, so severe that I was hospitalized for a week at age 17, so severe that I spent an entire year convinced I was dying of some horrible disease because the anxiety was causing a host of symptoms in my body, most disruptive being terrible pain. Sometimes, my doctor said concernedly, I just can't make patients like you feel better. I read about women like me who had fibromyalgia and spent years of their lives disabled with pain. I knew I was heading that way- taking disability checks while I writhed on the couch, unable to pay attention to my kids or have sex with my husband or experience freedom from this pain. I researched. I read. I scoured the internet and spent hours and hours drinking coffee on the bookstore floor reading books. I made a plan and I did it. I exercised every day. I took massive amounts of fish oils and other very specifically geared supplements that I had researched hours and hours to choose, and which ate up money we didn't really have. I prayed. I meditated. I did yoga for twenty minutes every night. I did energy healing. I saw an acupuncturist. I dramatically changed my diet. (hard! oh hard.) I practiced breathing techniques. I revisited therapy. I took zoloft. I escaped the pain. Lucky.

Ever. Stage Four Endometriosis, Mr. Curry told me after the surgery, his enormous hazel eyes full of worry for me, the doctor said if you don't get pregnant now...you won't be able to. Ever.
After this, one year of research. More coffee on bookstore floors, more internet scouring, a notebook full of notes. I picked a specialist. I had two more surgeries with him, flown out of town to do so. I again made dramatic dietary changes and tweaked my supplemental regime based on extensive research to find what foods and nutrients supported healing of internal wounds (endometriomal lesions) and fertility. I spent a lot of money on organic foods and vitamins. I worked out regularly. I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. You remember. And I was lucky. I became pregnant with our baby, and now we have Ever Elizabeth.

........................................


All my life I have wanted to be loved. And here it is. I wrote that in a poem about my husband, but it might as well sum up my entire family. I've had women read an entry here and tell me how lucky I am. I've had girlfriends reminding me how lucky I am to have my marriage, a husband who absolutely adores me and who I adore, children who are beautiful, kind and intelligent, healthy. I always wanted a large family and I always wanted this kind of marriage. I never had any idea that all the hard but beautiful choices in my life would lead me here. I was a single mother of two, riddled with anxiety, broke and sick. That's one way to look at it. Or I was on my way.

If you ever wondered how I got so lucky, now you know. I worked my ass off.
Ms. Moon said...

Yeah. I know. Lucky follows work. Every time.
You deserve this and everything else.

Peach said...

beautiful story. you give us anxiety prone individuals hope!

Andrea said...

Thank you.

Ruth said...

I'm working my ass off right now. In so many of the ways you described.

I'd like to believe you, I really would. In some ways I do. But when you're riddled with anxiety, broke and sick, you know, it's hard to see clearly.

Thank you for the inspiration.

clearness said...

This is heartbreaking and beautiful and touching and just amazing. Your entire family. ((hugs))

yolanda said...

yes you give us hope and
you fill my heart with happiness!!
i love youuuu!! you write sooo well!!!
yolanda

Sara said...

Yes, and thank you for this. Luck is a dirty word, I think: it makes it appear like there was no work involved and there was so much work; there will be so much work. This is beautiful and honest, Maggie.

Josey said...

I adore your talent. Your passion. Your love.

Way to work your ass off and be so damn lucky. :)

anymommy said...

You're stunning. You're story is inspiring. That, I think is called making your own luck.

Carol said...

you are FANTASTIC!

Carol-the gardener

mosey said...

Truer words never spoken. The word luck just seems like such a chance thing to me - a roll of the dice.

Your honesty and writing. Man.

kelly louise said...

Simply....wow.

Julia said...

I love you, Maggie May. I love your courage and determination and not-giving-up-ness. You are a pit bull of love.

Lindsey said...

What a beautiful, real, honest, inspiring post. Thank you. xox

Stephanie said...

I'm not sure where more 'luck' lies, in the work or the grace in accepting a hard won payoff. Congratulations.

Corinne said...

I'm not a fan of the word luck. At all. It plays so little into the outcome of our lives.
YOU have done an incredible job with your life. You touch so many with your words and your heart. You get what you give, and you give SO much. Thank you.

Evangeline said...

Thank you for this post! I have worked my ass off to be so "lucky" too. Well said! Beautiful.

Angella Lister said...

thank you for the raw honesty of this. its so beautiful.

Evelyn said...

Wow!
What a story...
best ending ever

nfmgirl said...

"Luck" is also a mindset. Some would lead your life and sit around bemoaning their "bad luck" in life and spend a miserable life broken and beaten.

You take that same life, put a lot of hard work and determination and positivity into it, and you become the luckiest lady in the world!

Bless you and your entire family, Maggie May. May you all continue to reap what you sow, which will be a veritable harvest!

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Amen, sister.
I too am a firm believer we have to make it happen. You deserve every beautiful gift you have in your life and more. You are beautiful and honest and brave.
Thank you.

Elsa said...

This is beautiful. I'm still in the trenches of "working my ass off", and reading this post is like lookin up at the stars.

Thanks.

LauraCassidy said...

This is such a lovely post. It made me cry. Whenever I read your blog I always think I want to be like you when I get older, and I now realize I have to work a bit harder, especially when it comes to all the different relationships in my life. Thank you for inspiring me Maggie!

Elizabeth said...

Oh, I love this. You DID work your ass off, as I have done, too, in different ways for different reasons. It's always almost irritated me when people tell me how "lucky" I am. I think of myself as incredibly fortunate but open-eyed and willing. Luck is only a decent percentage of it --

karen gerstenberger said...

Perhaps the best response to this deep post is a simple, "Happy Valentine's Day!" to you and each member of your family. LOVE is clearly a quality you know, and treasure. This is your day. Bless you!

Ida Mae said...

this was so beautiful and touching.
thank you for sharing it~

Phoenix said...

Yes. God, yes. So much beauty and truth in this post.

We work our asses off for the good things that happen in our lives, and others see it as luck. Sure, why not? But we know the truth.

Annie said...

Hi Maggie,
I am so impressed with you. You have been through so much, and I identify with your childhood, founded fears. You hid the clock, because it was the one thing you could control. When your therapist advised you to "keep" your boyfriend because no one is perfect, you had the strength to see your own way, and to analyze why she might say such a thing (The writer in me loves the understated way you've written about that.) You had your children, the most beautiful thing you could have done, for them and for yourself. When you see something that must change, you research and analyze and figure a way to get to that better place. Hugs and love to you, and to all of your beautiful family.

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

I needed to read that last line, over and over and over

Middle Child said...

Of all my sisters (I have four) I am the lucky one...pregnant early...to a beautiful man who broke his neck at work when I was 28 - 25 really tough years but also beautiful years together in our little family of four - fights, drama, dreadful pain and suffering for him - and then he was brutalised and killed by doctors - and yet I know I have been lucky - my sisters' husbands are bastards! I am lucky in spite of hardship and as with you that makes me appreciate it rather than thinking about what i haven't got

Suburban Correspondent said...

Question: What dietary changes did you find helpful to combat anxiety? A friend's daughter suffers horribly.

nearlynotquite.com said...

Amen, Sister.

This is an amazing story and resonates deep within me. You have worked for every single thing and person you have, and after all is that not how the world works?

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