Death of fear and fear of death

The truth is that I’m afraid of dying.  Some days it’s all that I can think about and the fear, it’s paralyzing.  It all starts with an out of body experience that I had a few months ago. My fiancé smokes a blend of mugwort, kava kava and skullcap.  On a very stressful day, I decided to try it.  Thus began my entry into escaping reality.  I should mention that I have never smoked so much as a cigarette, I barely drink and I’ve never ever done drugs.

I enjoyed the first inhale.  It calmed me.  Like the constant  analyst that I am, I decide to dissect the feeling.  I allowed a few minutes to pass before taking the next hit.  More calm.  A warm fuzzy feeling came over me.  It was the third time that got me.  I remember inhaling but I do not remember exhaling.  Everything began to spin within moments.  The world was syncopated.  I heard him tell me “Okay, no more for you.”  I remember desperately trying to call out for him but my voice didn’t seem to work.  When I finally was able to speak, all I could muster was a “Baby….”

”You’re okay, Lauren.”

”No…I’m not…” I said and I began to cry.

i had no sense of touch.  When I fell to ground, I didn’t even feel the imact.  So I shook my head, slapped my own face, grabbed for his arm, anything to regain my sense of reality.  It was in that moment that I was convinced that I was dying.  I saw no white lights.  Nothing flashed before my eyes. All I could think was, “if I go now, he will never forgive himself.”  I thought of my dog being sad that I never came home, my kittens looking for me, and that big empty side of the bed where I used to lie.

I came to, of course.  I had to force myself to find my center.  To vocalize the things in front of me., I came back to reality and was able to walk again.  That right there was when it began.   You see, until that moment, I had yet to truly feel mortal.  Or I suppose more to the point, the weight of mortality suddenly hit me in the moment.  I began to understand what it means for your body to fail you.  I realized that while that moment might not have been my time, some day not too far in the future it will be my time.   That was and still is terrifying.

It was months later when I decided to try marijuana for the first time.  I figured that smoking was not for me, I have weak lungs anyway, so I decided on edibles.  I convinced myself that losing control of my body is something I’m going to need to be okay with.  So I tried it.  The first time I tried it, I felt nothing.  The second time, it was great.  I was calm, cool and collected. I didn’t like how physically slow it made me, but I was okay.  So months later, I tried it again.

It took 6 hours to hit me this time.  I was laying in bed and suddenly I felt like I was floating and that same feeling from before returned.  I had no sense of touch.  Reality didn’t exist.  The only thing that brought me back to any semblace of reality was my dog Ayas tongue on my face.  Poor baby, I kept calling her to me to kiss me.  I kept petting her over and over again and calling her a good girl.  She figured it out pretty quickly and didn’t stop until I calmed down.  But four hours later, I was finally calm enough to sleep.  Four hours later.  Sheesh.  Not good.

I had convinced myself that the issue was an isolated incident.  So I tried again.  It seemed as though allowing myself to let go was a personal goal of mine.  Like any fear I’ve had in my life, I decided to face it head on to desensitize myself.  I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich with cannibutter.  A friend that I trust very much had given it to me when I told her the first time scared me.  She said this was a different strain and it shouldn’t affect me the same way.  This one took only an hour to hit me.  When it finally did, I told myself I was going to prove to myself that I was okay.

I went to the internet.  I googled like crazy and everything I found that would help me  bring myself to consciousness, I tried it.  Again, I felt like I had no control of my body. My heart was palpitating.  I was nauseous.  I tried to throw up.  When it didn’t work, I forced myself.  After I threw up, I decided to take a cold bath.  I could only barely feel the chill of the water as I was shivering.  So I switched to hot.  I didn’t feel that either.  “Okay, fine.  That’s not going to work” I said to myself.  I heard my voice.  So I spoke to myself.  I called my dog to me and she licked my face as I cried. I called my fiancée who was at work.  He told me to calm down an enjoy it.  “Yeah right,” I laughed.

I decided that tracking time would help, so I set a stop watch so I knew how much time had passed.  Forget one day at a time, I was focusing on seconds.  I was mostly okay.  I could walk now.  I decided that fluids would help so I drank some water.  I ate some nuts so the protein could be absorbed.  What’s interesting is that everything seemed to come in waves.  The first wave was horrifying.  Nearly seconds later, I found myself thinking that it was over and was in my head.  This cycle repeated for hours until I finally found myself calm enough to sleep.

Its been months now since any of those instances and I find myself plagued with these thoughts.  I can’t escape them.  It’s crazy that a woman in her 30s would find herself so terrified by her own mortality.  And for the life of me, I can’t shake it.  I thought that maybe writing it down would somehow bring it to the surface so I can work through the fear.  Thoughts anyon?

Walk with me?

I would ask you to walk a mile in my shoes, but they are tattered and torn.

Why is it that heartache makes for the best writing?

I do not claim to know more or to suffer more than you and yours.  It’s just that all the roads that I have travelled, the one constant in my life has been fear.  This is not to say that I have never been brave, or that I am a timid mouse.  It’s just that fear, for whatever reason, has been my cross to bear.  I cannot be the only one.

I’ve had this blog now for years.  This is the second blog that I have created.  It’s predecessor was actually quite popular, but due to some oversharing it caused problems in my life.  I have since attempted to reclaim what I had written before, but I think just now that I have decided to move past it.  That blog was a lifetime ago.  I am a different person now and thus, this blog should reflect this.  Perhaps if I am able to let it go, I will find the voice that is between these pages.

There are few topics on which I can speak with some authority.  Having lived a sum of 34 years now, I am most passionate about two things, psychology and sexuality.   So this will be the theme of my upcoming blog.  Please do join me.  Know that I have no credentials other than what I have lived.  Still, my experience have to mean something.  So, I will share them.

I am not my dress size

I am not my dress size.

No matter what I do,

you will always see me as large, fat, lazy.

You will always feel that you are more than me

Simply because you are smaller.

 

I don’t judge you.

I celebrate your success.

I know you worked for that body of yours.

I know you’ve shed blood, sweat and tears for it.

I’m proud of you.

I learn from you.

It’s such a simple thing to judge someone by.

The color of their skin.

The way they dress.

The elastic on their waist band.

Their education or lack thereof.

We are quick to call someone stupid

simply because

they don’t have the same knowledge as us.

Everyone is an expert at something.

Medicine, music,

sports,

drywall,

food,

movies,

games,

gaming systems,

computers, phones…

The list goes on.

I don’t judge you for your ignorance,

I work to educate you.

I am not so arrogant as to believe

that there are no topic in which I am stupid.

But I am more than that.

I am more than the knowledge I’ve obtained

or the weight that I’ve acquired.

I am…

hell, YOU are…

beautiful.

I don’t mean the beauty of my skin.

I mean that I am a beautiful person

I mean that my heart is large

I mean that my mind is anything but lazy.

I mean that I am big on success.

And those hurdles that you judge me on…

One day, I will overcome them.

Just as I hope that one day you will overcome yours as well.

I am not my dress size.

And Neither are you.

An Old Friend

In the wee hours of the morning, I find myself turning to the empty pages of my life.  Like prayer, I sadly find that it is much easier to turn to you, my dear pages, when faced with turmoil and strife.  I may go months without reaching for you.  When I do, I truly need you, my friend.  So I call out to you.

Rake through the abyss that is my troubled mind.  Weed out the pebbles and large clumps of matter.  Sweep away the bugs.  Allow me, instead, to see you clearly.  Let me use you to get through this.  Grant me the courage to seek within for my answers.  And try not to judge me for not turning to you sooner.

Emotional Abuse

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“You’re being abused.”

I remember the first time my therapist told me this. Why this one memory rings so true to me, I could not tell you. It wasn’t the first time that someone had accused my husband of abusing me. In fact, the first time had been nearly 5 years prior, and it was by his sister. But today, when my therapist looked me straight in the eye and told me that I was being abused, I resonated with me. I had come home after a long day at work to disarray. My husband had decided to take every drawer in our home and empty it upside down in our bedroom. You could tell he had done this with some form of force because a few of the wooden drawers and splintered and a couple of the plastic ones were completely broken. I was alone when I found it; he was still at work. So I took a moment, took a deep breath, and started cleaning. When he came home I had almost finished refolding every piece of laundry and was about to put the drawers up. I didn’t make eye contact with him. I didn’t even ask him why. I had been sick and tired of fighting with that brick wall that was his ego. Instead, I kept cleaning. I was on the last drawer when he sat down on the bed.
“Aren’t you going to ask why?” he looked at me as he spoke.
“Nope. There’s no point,” I whispered while placing a drawer back in its slot.
“I’ve been looking for this shirt for weeks,” he said. “So I’ve decided, I’m not going to yell any more. No, I’m just going to blow things up. If this keeps happening, I’ll start throwing things out. If that doesn’t work, I’ll burn everything to the ground.”
This was the moment in the story when my therapist had intervened.
“Wait, this was because he couldn’t find a shirt?” She put her pen down and met her eyes with mine for clarity.
“Yeah, I’m really bad about doing all of the laundry in one day. I guess his shirt must have been stuck at the bottom of the pile or something,” I was stammering, avoiding eye contact.
“That is abuse, Lauren,” her voice was worried, her resolve strong.
You might find it odd that someone had to tell me that I was being abused. After all, it should be obvious to us all. The truth of the matter is that abuse isn’t always black and white. The abuser doesn’t always hit its target. Sometimes, the abuser just tears the abused down emotionally. Sometimes, the abused spends years making up excuses, only to wake up one day and realize that it really wasn’t ok.
I’ve spent most of life studying psychology. As the product of an unstable home, I have trained myself to be very aware of my surroundings. Through years of marriage, I had become even more in tuned to the subtleties of the English language, choice of words, body language, silence even. So the moment when I realized that I was, in fact, in an abusive marriage, my very next question was eminent. How did I get here? I found myself suddenly disgusted that I had let it get this far. As strong, intelligent women, we like to think that when surrounded by a situation where we have become a victim, we will stand up and simply walk away. Throw a punch at me; the next thing you’ll see will be me walking out the door. It’s easy to have this resolve when abuse is so easily defined as a violent act.
After all, life would be must simpler if all of the bad people wore blinking hats that cautioned “Beware.” It would be even simpler to assume that a person can be purely bad. If the monsters in the world were purely monsters, we’d be less likely to end up where we are today. Statistically speaking, females are more likely to be victims of intimate assault.

I specify intimate assault because the abusers are not always of the opposite sex. In fact, there is a complete subset of domestic abuse that is specific to lesbian relationships. In a society where we are trained that it is never acceptable for a man to hit a woman, little is spoken of female on female abuse, or male on male abuse. As a society we seem to have lowered our standards when seeking a partner in life. Is it asking too much to assume that your partner just won’t “go there”? Perhaps it is.
It seems that the emotionally abused do not take their abuse very seriously. I remember confronting my husband and telling him that he frightens me when he throws tables and breaks things in front of me. His response was simple, “Have I ever put my hands on you?” In the absence of physical violence, it is easy for both the abused and the abuser to take their situation less seriously. It’s easier to reason this away as “anger issues”. It’s easy to remind yourself of all the “good things” your partner does and to ignore the reality.

Some tactics of emotional abuse by an abuser are to:
• Isolate a woman from her friends, family, cultural or faith community, care providers, and prevent her from having independent activities such as work, English as a Second Language classes or other education;
• Act overly jealous or possessive; accuse a woman of having affairs if she talks to another man; coerce her into sexual activity to prove her love;
• Criticize a woman constantly – her actions, size and appearance, and abilities;
• Use a woman’s disability or deafness to demean or control her;
• Threaten, intimidate, harass, or punish a woman if she does not comply with her abusive partner’s demands;
• Use the children to control a woman, for example undermine her authority as a parent or threaten to take them if she should leave;
• Make all of the decisions in the family, withhold information and refuse to consult her or about important matters such as where they live, or the family’s finances;
• Control the money – what is spent, how it is spent, not allow a woman access to financial resources, or conversely not contribute to any of the household expenses.

I’ve combed through my years of marriage and tried to find those defining moments when I should have left. I went back and screamed at my former self “What are you doing?” I’ve listened to my friends and coworkers and therapists and I now see the warning signs. But the reality is that when you are in the trenches, you are paralyzed. You’ve given up your control to someone you love very deeply and you see no way of getting it back. You find yourself unworthy, you echo to yourself …
“Well maybe he’s right.”
“Maybe I am unattractive.”

“Maybe I am lazy.”

“Is he really asking too much to have the laundry done in one day?”

“Well, he doesn’t hit me.”

“He’s a good man.”

“I have so many flaws.”

“I’m fat.”

“How could he want me?”

“How could anyone want me?”

A once confident woman suddenly finds herself powerless behind these words. They become heavy chains, weighing her down and raping her of her will to leave. When asked over and over again “Why do you stay?” my response was always the same, “I’m not ready.” Not ready for what? To be without abuse? To be alone? To hear the things I would inevitably hear were I to end it?
I’d love to tell you that I was brave and suddenly realized I couldn’t take it any more. The reality, however is that he ended it. And much in the way he controlled me in our marriage, he ended it in such a way as to make me feel as low and unworthy as possible. Still, regardless of how he ended it, he did me a favor. In his absence, I can find clarity again. I can begin to dissect those moments and to draw clear lines in the sand for next time. And with my own words, I can hopefully stop someone else from being in the same situation as I was.

A Rose By Any Other Name

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So much has happened since I last wrote that it’s hard to imagine where to begin in thought.  Perhaps another introduction is necessary at this point.  I began this blog years ago as an anonymous voice, or inner voice as it were.  I have always been (and perhaps always will be) fascinated by my own inner voice.  I’ve tried my best to explain to you, my readers, the true catharsis that is writing my thoughts down on paper.  It’s more than that, though.  My words solve things for me.  They help me to work through the trouble in my life.  They allow me a voice in the abyss that is the internet.  They help me make sense of the enigma that has been put before me.  Without my words, there is no me.  So perhaps I should begin by stripping myself of the anonymity.

My name is Lauren Ferguson, or perhaps Baker, I haven’t really decided yet.  Gazzano maybe?  Or perhaps another name entirely.  No, no, let’s begin with birth.  I was born Lauren Nicole Baker to my parents Jay and Susan in a town in the San Francisco Bay Area called Redwood City.  I spent the first twenty-four years of my life in California until I found myself fleeing the scene of the crime that is my family and departing to Arkansas.  I spent two years there to the day.  On December 1st of 2008, my new husband and I moved back to California for just under a year.  It was in late 2009 when I moved to Texas where I still reside.

Ferguson is my married name which began on July 7th of 2008.  I had met a man whom I loved dearly.  I loved him so much, in fact, that just five months after meeting him we went to justice of the peace and I took his name.  It’s so very easy to get married these days.  For straight people anyway.  I woke up one morning, we drove the the courthouse, we were married, and then I went to work later that day.  Our marriage lasted for 6 1/2 years and across 2000 miles until one day in December of 2014.  I was cuddling my puppy on the couch.  She had been spayed the night before and the only way she could be comfortable was by laying on top of me.  So I slept there with her draped across my chest and I woke up to the end.  It was no surprise.  Really, it had ended years ago.  Nonetheless, I went from being a married woman to being an unknown.  Perhaps even a lesbian.  This has yet to be decided.

You can imagine now my hesitancy to return to Lauren Baker.  I know the name well, don’t get me wrong.  But she is so very distant a memory that she seems like an old friend.  No, a friend’s daughter.  The Lauren that was once Baker I think of as so innocent now.  The truth is she was anything but innocent.  Unlived maybe?  Yes, I’m aware this isn’t a word.  Let’s create it now.  Lauren Baker had yet to live.  There were far too few miles on her tires.  Though she had been through much, she was still very new and shiny.  More than that.  She was still a believer.

Lauren Baker believed in good and evil.  More than anything, she believed in good. Lauren Baker believed in romance.  Her smile would light up a room.  She was constantly chasing her dreams, even when she didn’t know what they were.  What she chased above all else was love.  Lauren Baker was an idealist.

So no, after six years of pain and turmoil.  After four years of infidelity and abuse.  After thousands of miles and moving again and again.  Lauren Baker seems too far a distant memory to return to.  She simply does not exist any more, however lovely she once was.  After all Lauren Baker was where Lauren Ferguson began.  How could I willingly go back to a place where I was once so stupid.

I hadn’t began this article as an introduction to me.  In fact, I had meant to reflect on this past year of my life.  It seems we will have to explore this in a later entry.  I will say this.  I’ve spent the past year of my life speechless.  Anyone who knows me at all knows what a rare phenomenon this is.  I’ve stumbled on these old entires recently and have found myself reflective on the place I once was only to find myself happy to consider it so past-tense.  It will be a year-to-date on December 22nd when my end began.  Only now am I able to begin the healing process of writing about it.  So for now, I will simply revel in the many versions of myself.  For now, I will explore the name Sally (taken from my paternal grandmother).  Let us see where Sally takes me.  Perhaps I will take solace as her.

So, hello.  It’s nice to meet you.  I’m Sally.  What is your name?

Echoes

There are echoes in my mind

Every day.

Past memories

Bells that can never be unrung.

 

When I don’t understand the puzzle

I keep repeating it

Over and over again.

 

It tortures me.

This incessant pain

Relived

Revived

Fresher now than it was at the beginning.

 

I wish I could just let it go

I wish I could be comfortable

With the things that I can’t change

Confident enough in myself

To not need others to understand.

 

I wish I could walk away

And just forget.

 

But once you’ve passed that long windy corridor to my heart

Once you’ve nestled in the cockles that need warming

I just can’t let you go

And I care.

I care how you are.

I care what you think.

I care that you don’t care.

 

So there you are

My echo

Torturing me

Raping me of my closure

 

My echo.

Your silence.

Your Voice

I can’t stop hearing your voice at night.
It echoes in my ears
Stopping me from sleeping.

Your words still pierce me months later.
The years haven’t worn away at their potency.

They are like an unsolved puzzle in my mind.
I play them over and over again
Until I understand them.
I fear it may be years before I do.
If I can.

I want to forgive you.
To begin to see you as someone I love again.

We walked that fine line between love and hate
For far too long
And I’m terrified that now
Once I’ve jumped over the line
And set camp in the hatred
I’ll never be able to go back.

It’s not that I need to love you.
Or I think we have a chance.
It’s more that I don’t like the places
You’ve made my mind go.
I don’t like the dark and twisted corners
Of my mind
Where I seemed to have made a home.

I blame you for leading me here.
And not leading me back.

I can’t stop hearing your voice at night.
Please…make it stop.

Loveless

The first time is forever.
There is no possibility
that things will ever be different.

You are the one.

We belong together.

It was fate that brought us together.

I need you.

I love you.

You complete me.

But as the years chisel away
at the perfection
That once was your love:
As you find yourselves
miles away from where you began.

You look back on your beginning
and realize you really weren’t special.
Your relationship
was no different.

It is in that moment
when you stop believing
In fairytales.

When your sense of romance
dissolves
into
nothingness.

And you retreat into yourself.
Forever balled into
an emotional fetal position.
Comfortable hiding
behind a wall of thorns.

You lose your taste
for love.

Your desire to be part of a unit
Has disappeared
behind layers of exhaustion.

You’ve the lost your fight
And the appeal of that
feel-good whirlwind
that is a new relationship
is nonexistent.

And so you begin the journey
of seclusion.

You enjoy the safety
of your solitude.

You find the best relationship
you have ever had
has been with yourself.

So the next time
you choose to venture out
onto that long twiggy branch
that you call love
You will be wearing your protective gear.

And you will know that regardless of the outcome,
Or how far you fall.
You won’t be beaten
And you will still have
your greatest love—yourself.