I sit and think of you in the woods.
Thoughts of yesterday, so long passed
Yet rest so close to my heart.
A redolent of wind claps my face.
Assuming waterfalls blind me,
Miles of river between us.
Jagged rocks cut the palms of my feet.
Down the river you wait for me
to crawl and wet my body.
I’ve a pain so deep set into place.
My tears blend with the mist of rain.
I can almost touch your feet.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I’m a dreamer. You may find me sitting behind you, doodling on my notebook: Love Always, Sukey; To Life, Sukey; Best Wishes, Sukey. I’m working on my handwriting should I run into members of my fan club who will undoubtedly beg me for an autograph.

I’m a listener.You’ve seen me in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. I sit there, with my head behind The New Yorker, torn, desperately between Shouts and Murmurs and your telephone conversation.

“Well, she needs to get her stuff out of there!…. I know. Who does she think this is? I’ll throw everything she owns out the Goddamned window, Tracy! No! This is so unfair! She still owes us money from last month’s rent…. What the fuck were we thinking… Okay, gotta go, they just called me in. Time for my pap! I’ll call you back.”

There is no such thing as a “private” cell phone conversation in public.

I’m a reader. I turn my attention back to my favorite magazine, The New Yorker. Writer George Saunder’s piece titled, Proclamation, is a response to the following excerpt from the Associated Press: TEHRAN, Iran (July 29)Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered government and cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as pizzas, which will now be known as elastic loaves. Saunders writes:

No. For us, all Western decadence is finished. McDonalds, chief villain of the American imperialist program, will henceforth be known as Burger King. That will really mess with everybodys head. Some enemy of the revolution here in Tehran goes into a McDon Do we still even have McDonalds? I used to really like the cheeseburgers. The snack that is surprisingly caloric because, you sense, there is even sugar in the bun. Anyway, some enemy of the revolution goes into a McDonalds, orders a Big Mac, andha ha!he is really in Burger King. I love it! He is undone.

Similarly, Burger King will be known as Wendys, KFC will be known as Home Depot, Farouqs Funeral Home will be known as Blockbuster Video, and Pamela Anderson will be known as Mrs. President of Iran. Joking! I know she is already married! Didnt she just Well, in any event, I am. At least, I think I am. Can you get my wife on my cell? Is this going out live? That Pam Anderson thing might have rubbed her the wrong

Speaking of women, that is another thing: dont you find that word provocative? Say it a few times, softly, kind of moaning it to yourself, while picturing some slut undulating. See what I mean? Provocative. So that is why we are outlawing that as well. No, just the word. At least for now.

Hmmm. “Women,” I whisper softly. “Wooommmeeen,” I say again, nice and slow, trying to add some moaning action without being too obvious. Nothing, it just doesn’t sound sexy. I am suddenly asking myself why I had to be born into such conservative circumstances. How can I get into the role of playing a provocative,sex-hungry, man killer? How can I prepare for that role? Hmmm… a little foreplay might be in order with the hubby tonight. I smile my sinful “cat woman” grin until I notice the old-timer sitting across from me with his brown cane, and his seething yellow smile lusting for me. “Oh, gross!”

Daydreaming at Mr. Leo’s Malt Shoppe. “You told me how many times that it was my turn to order? … Twice, huh? ” I am suprised with this statement. “And I didn’t hear you, obviously. Fine, I’ll order my fucking milkshake so that the line can move up and all you assholes will be happy drinking your fucking milkshakes,” I’m not yelling, just whispering very loudly. Everyone in line is pissed off at me right now. Complete strangers giving me looks that can only communicate, “Wake the fuck up!” All eyes are on me.This always happens to me when I loose myself in a scene from one of my favorite movies. I am the totally hot, irresistable Nicole Kidman, except she’s me or is it that I’m her? Oh, well. Who cares, I’m disgustingly good-looking. “Do you know who I am?” I manage to say this just after the zit-faced teeny-boy hands me my banana milkshake. I turn around to look at my audience. I not surprised to see the line of strangers roll their eyes at me. I say in an exhausted tone, while patting my forehead with the back of my hand, “I’m so under-appreciated! Everyone is a critic! Well, good bye all! Good bye!”

“Can I order now,” asks the brusque, tight-lipped, Mary Magdalene.

I’m so dramatic. “Cocoa! Where were you?” I love immitating Paris Hilton’s voice, “Don’t you ever scare mommy like that again! Do you know what I was thinking when I…. couldn’t find you!!!!!DO YOU?? I thought you were dead!” Tears stream down my face as I lunge toward my favorite stuffed bear, Cocoa. He was under my bed with a thick blanket of dust on his soft fur. “Damn it, Cocoa!” I cannot control my tears. “Someone! Get me my phone, I need to call Kiki

crows calling

 

Ornate railings make shadows on the walls, while black birds hover over the townspeople. Crows, are pecking prophecies. The dark air is cut by hundreds of  hands reaching, swooping. Echoing silence stands still, encompasses.

The birds dive into the crowd to peck and agitate two or three. Their tails touch  those hands to deliver a verdict.  Their fluttering wings whisper foreshadow  in the ears of those who will make eyes water.

 On this night, the defendants’ unconcious will pour out completely. Makeshift bodies, inside wooden rectangles, will be buried under direct perceptions of truth.

The birds wipe away facial expressions,  stick pencils into deep crevices, and explore empty caves.

 Objects dash in all directions, but have no where to go.

They set hair on fire, and change its color until lips are barely there.

They take away  burdens of great multitudes and fill hollow spaces.

They sacrafice the ones loved.

 Instinctively, souls are flown away to nests and eyes that once perceived a fleeting, dull light are closed forever.

 Then the crows line up like jurors back from deliberation.  And with beady eyes and cocking heads, they fly up and hover once again.

There came a time in my life when I suddenly realized what I’m supposed to do with myself. I’m talking about particular things in my life, such as who I am, where I’m going, and what I was meant to do, were exposed to me. In deed, I wonder if this is a prevalent awakening? Who else has experienced something so profound? It happened to me this evening at the library. I felt my heart quake as the epiphany opened its gates so I could walk through some sort of “right-of-passage,” and feel motivated to enter upon a solid conclusion.

But before I share the rest of my realization, I think I should revert to the time just before I arrived at the library.

I felt reluctant to go in. Suddenly I was telling myself that, inside the library, were people who were more intelligent and better bred than I. These kind of thoughts may seem negative and distorted to anyone who has never lived with depression, for me (someone who does live with depression) they were real and justified. Suddenly, my clothes – a comfortable pair of track pants and a hooded sweatshirt- seemed inappropriate. I felt like I should have worn something a bit more scholarly. Perhaps gray tweed pants with a thick, black turtleneck? Like a vicious cylce, I began to think about my shortcomings: my learning disability and my inability to concentrate on reading. And I began to panic for a moment. This couldn’t be happening! I was angry with myself for allowing these little “Debbie Downers” to take control over me. Though, finally, I was able to soothe these towering thoughts enough to allow a miniscule amount of confidence to sneak in under their enormous stance. I parked the car, turned off the engine, snatched up my bag, then proceeded to the library entrance. As I walked across the dark parking lot, my thoughts began to feel lighter and lighter. Before I knew it, I was smiling. There was a bit of a bounce in my walk. I said hello to an elderly gentleman and commented on the unusually warm weather we were having. As I got closer to the library, my inner being leapt out from way down in the pit of my core. I was ready to tackle the academic reading, which created a great bulk in my bag and an enormous weight on my shoulders from carrying it. And, Like a military woman sent out to accomplish an important operational task, I said aloud, and with a serious expression: “Let’s do this!”

I marched into the lobby, past the lines of people waiting to check their books out, and straight up the wide, spiral staircase. First I walked around the second level, hoping to find an empty study room. No luck. After completing a huge sweep of other sitting options, I decided to go up yet another level, to the third floor, but unfortunately, there were no study rooms available. So, I marched into the very back of the room and sat myself down into a small cubicle.

I opened my Personality Theory text. I thumbed through the pages until I came to the assigned section. I was ready! I situated my notebook so that it was in a diagonal position, which I needed in order to produce the neatest handwriting. And that’s as far as I got.

Then, without warning I was hit with a powerful realization, which pushed me up against a formidable impasse. Then, I was able to discern that it was the wrong time to do academic work. In fact, I knew that I had to set aside my intellectual pursuit to make room for my emotional capacities. What was I thinking; trying to hash out social-cognitive theory? The letters in the text came together to form words, which could have been written in Latin, because they were undecipherable (oh, had my concentration walked out on me again?) When I allowed myself to open up to the possibility of regaining my emotional dignity, I realized how little my heart had been in the pursuit of intellectual stimulation. After all, how can I make my way through chapters upon chapters of text when the thought that, ” I’m not good enough or smart enough to successfully finish my classes” dominates? I have to be emotionally strong in order to clear a path through Academia In other words, I realized that I had been going about it all wrong! I Understand that I wanted so much to make myself feel better and for that to happen, I thought I had to receive an education.

I wonder how many people, who attend Harvard Extension, face the same challenges of living with low self-efficacy? Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to accomplish things such as weight loss, tests, or quit smoking. According to an article I read, “self-efficacy theory provides basic guidelines and suggestions for becoming more confident, effective, and productive in specific areas of life and for enhancing your general sense of self-confidence, self-esteem, and personal efficacy.” Wow, the theory sounds great, doesn’t it? By the way, to answer the above question, I must agree with my darling of a husband, Eric, who said most likely, the number of students with high self-efficacy far exceeds those with low self-efficacy. I take my hat off to the students who are capable of believing in their abilities. There is no way for any of them to know how debilitating it is to not be capable of such. Perhaps Eric’s thoughts were a precedent to the epiphany that hammered at my head during that particular moment.

After I sat down in the cubicle on the third floor, realization of my mental weakness dawned on me. I thought how I was constantly on the verge of explosion. The lyrics to “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” came ringing in my head, like they were dedicated to me, from me:

I cant light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I’m growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life

It’s much too late to save myself from falling
I took a chance and changed your way of life
But you misread my meaning when I met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light

Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, its always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me

Once again, I started to hope and wish for a higher power that could intercede by addressing the underlying issues, which cause my emotional well being to dwindle down. I remembered: “If the universe is for me, what can be against me?” I know that the power lingers around me, but I’ve never, at least boldly, tried to reach out and grab at it. As I sat, hidden inside the cubicle, I started to think I should.

I also realized I’m in need of a new perspective about life – one that will provide more space in the universe for me to be me! I desire, from the most abysmal part of my soul, the freedom to be who I am. Constantly, I hide my true self away out of fear that it will be rejected. I act shy. I hold back from sharing my thoughts and ideas with people; this behavior has gone on for at least ten years. It has rusted my undercarriage, like a car kept out in the winter for years and years. A new perspective would open my mind in ways I could only imagine.

I learned a lot about myself at the library that evening. My knowledge, ironically, came from within myself instead of from one of the tens of thousands of books placed, forcibly and tightly on the shelves. I was proud that I walked through the doors of that intimidating library. And even though I failed the coursework mission, I successfully explored and conquered my feelings for the first time in months, which will, subsequently, open doors to hundreds of self-realizations.

 

I understand Isaiah’s struggle. He’s trying hard to become his own person, and we thwart him for doing so. We’ll never know, to any extent, how our words and actions may impact him. Sadly, we will not be able to measure the fading of his horizons.
Isaiah is often an unhappy child, lacking in confidence and self-esteem. And I have to wonder whether we caused that. I have to wonder what prior negative experience he holds onto.
That is why this quote moves me to near fits of emotional pain and has helped me to reinvent the way I discipline.
“… children who are unhappy, each frustrated in the attempt to achieve a self-hood he could claim with dignity – children not understood, but striving again and again to become persons in their own right.” – Dibbs

Dear Doctor Silen,

Here I am again, doing what I should not be doing. I’ve skipped class and I feel guilty about it, even though it’s the first time. Normally I wouldn’t feel so guilty, had it not been for my lack of effort during the last two to three weeks. During this time frame, I’ve dealt with severe depression coupled with an ever-increasing amount of lethargy. After a lot of consideration I’ve decided to disclose the circumstances that have brought me to this point. My primary goals are to communicate how this state of degradation impales me, how self-doubt continues to add to my personal failures, and present effective ways of dealing with these setbacks.

Last week was school vacation, but there was much work to do. I was behind by two chapters in the reading for my psychology class and I had to start writing a paper. I also had homework in my math class. I procrastinated all week because I felt overwhelmed and incapable of doing the work. I was not intellectually up for the challenge. Through out the entire week I was depressed and completely debilitated by lethargy. Mounting hopelessness painted the entire world gray. I avoided the work because I thought I’d have trouble with the concentration and the absorption of the material. I completely gave up, which only added to the depression.

The week before that I felt significantly better. I was capable of doing the everyday responsibilities that go along with running a household. I felt optimistic about the future. I was more energized. I studied sporadically for my psychology midterm; yet, I skipped it altogether, because I was convinced that I’d fail it. I gave up studying two days before the midterm, which only added to my lack of confidence. It wasn’t until the evening of the midterm, about an hour and a half before, that I decided to decamp. On the surface, I justified this decision by reminding myself of my professor’s policy to drop the lowest exam score and that I could just do well on the next two exams, but deep down, I knew there were significant, underlying issues that had caused me to run away from my responsibility.

One of these issues was a constant, self-doubting thought process, which had been whipping around in my mind for days. It impacted my behavior and the choices I made. This happens on a regular basis. For example, I give up on exercise because I lack the confidence in my ability to succeed. I’m scared to fail. I shy away from talking to people because I lack the confidence in my ability to initiate a conversation. Over the course of the past few weeks, there have been times that I fought to swim against the prevalent currents, which these self-doubting thoughts create, yet most of the time, I had given into its powerful force.

There is a conscious, but minuscule part of me that truly believes in my ability to be successful this semester. When I feel capable, I will gear up to hit the books, and after a successful study session, I even look forward to more reading. My confidence grows. Still, the majority of the time is spent believing that I lack the ability, the qualification and the strength to perform at all. During these times I neglect my coursework. In truth, at any moment, I’m closer to accepting a seemingly inevitable defeat. My intuition tells me to prepare for an absolute catastrophe.

During the last two to three weeks everything has exponentially spiraled out of control and all I can do is remain dormant. I want to reach out, but I’m unable to. It’s a phenomenon that affects all aspects of my life, such as the interaction with my family and the ability to execute everyday tasks. It also abates the already dwindling supply of self-efficacy, which is the principle force behind my successes and failures. My lack of ability to estimate or make personal judgments can be attributed to the break down of this force.

Personal failures have dreadful repercussions, such as disappointment, despair, and debilitation. Yet though I’ve acknowledged that these conditions are a direct result of the choices I make, it is still not insight for me to re-engage and plan alternate approaches .For example, I know that if I don’t do my reading then I’ll get behind. If I get behind then I’ll be stressed; which leads to anxiety; which causes me to feel overwhelmed and to give up completely; which causes me to feel depressed. It is a vicious cycle! And I recognize it for what it is, but cannot break free from it.

I continue to undergo therapy with you because it’s my way of telling myself that I’m proactive at getting better. However, there are many ways in which I’ve been resisting therapy. For one thing, I have not been an honest reporter. I haven’t told you about the numerous times that I’ve been crippled by lethargy and have laid on my couch nearly all day, for several days in a row. I haven’t told you about my on-going, obsessive thoughts that I’m not good enough; that I don’t have what it takes. I haven’t told you that, during my extreme lows; I have no desire to take care of myself. Over all I don’t report most of the depressive experiences I suffer from or to what degree these experiences debilitate me. I under estimate the severity of my depression and its potential to adversely impact my thoughts and feelings. This inability to function impacts my family, too. I haven’t told you that I feel a monstrous amount of guilt because I neglect my emotional needs and the emotional needs of my children. This is the appalling, hideous, repulsive side of me that I keep hidden from everyone (including my husband) because it makes me feel extremely ill at ease.

Instead, I’ve been a biased reporter. I’ve shared only the experiences, which inspire and motivate me. I’ve shared my plans to go back to school, and to get a job, or aspects about my desire to write, etc. I report the more positive things about my life and myself because I’m petrified that you’ll think I’m a terrible person and a lousy mother. And it is disdain and harsh judgments that I dread the most.

I’ve realized that I can get better and that only I can take complete control in this process. It is imperative that I learn how to turn my negative thoughts into positive ones. In order to do this, I need to learn to develop new personal constructs. Personal constructs are cognitive structures we use to interpret and predict events. It is my belief that the psychological problems I suffer from are caused mostly from defects in my construct systems. Cognitive approaches to therapy will teach me how to process information differently. I must come to see how distorted cognitions affect my emotions and behaviors and how to deal with future and recurring problems.

If I want to become emotionally and mentally well adjusted, then I have to accurately report my progress, and in doing so, it will require me to be attentive to my inner-voice, which evaluates my thoughts and feelings. This will be challenging because I’ve ignored my inner-voice for years, partly because I’ve been disinclined to connect to it. Also, I haven’t had the desire to execute constructive approaches to improve my mental health, even though I fully realize the potentially positive effects that could ensue as a result of my willingness to use them. Specifically, I want to develop a healthy self-image, to build an abundance of self-esteem, and to achieve a higher level of self-efficacy. I dream about what it would be like to be happy and energetic, and to approach each day with an “I can do it” attitude. I want to escape from this “freeze frame” atmosphere. I know that empowerment can become a driving force behind everything I accomplish. If I give myself a chance, I can stand tall!

This letter is my way of reaching out for help. It is a testament to the effort and dedication I’m willing to put forth so that I can make it to the top of this up-hill battle.