Because we must.
One week ago today I found out that I had been denied for disability. Denied and with no income, very little left to hold onto, the despair I felt nearly swept me off my feet and downriver.
I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see past the edge of the cliff I was about to fall over, nothing made sense, the fear was so great, and still is to a huge extent, that just moving through the day is something I am doing with my whole body as tense as a board. I feel it. It hurts. I tear up writing this. I cry easily.
And then love surrounded me. My daughter, my middle child, stepped in and caught me before I fell. She has stepped in and is helping me sort things out. She went to see what social services I could apply for. She set up a fundraising campaign online called Please Help Support Maitri and The Pugs using a painting I did the night I found out I was denied and I couldn’t even speak, I just sat and painted Tallulah looking sad but being loved by her little pug. I sit here with my 4 wee rescue pugs who are my life and heart and know that if I didn’t have them to hold onto I am not sure how I would stay tethered to this earth. I have a very hard time sleeping at night and hold onto them, stroking their fur as they snore and snuffle. These babies help keep me here.
And I hold on because I love my children and grandchildren and dear friends. I have witnessed up close what happens to the ones left behind when someone gives up and lets go and I will not do that to those I love. And more than that —
I want to live. There is so much in this life that is precious and sacred. I love my children so much, and their beloved husbands or wife, and my grandsons, and I have a new grandbaby on the way. Why would one give up when there is such a miracle on the way?
But I’m scared, I’m so, so scared.
“Why can’t you work, at least online, you’re so talented. I thought you could at least…”
This is what I hear, it is often the unspoken question being shouted out into the void, echoing off the walls around me. And it’s so hard to say that I had to sit here with my daughter filling out yet more forms to try to get a little bit of assistance, something for food, medicaid…
My daughter sat with me and gently asked me the questions and she wrote the answers down. She is a psychologist. Though my particular issues are not her field she knows and understands me in a way few can. But imagine sitting with your beloved child, at 60, knowing that helping you at this juncture is the last thing she needs with a young child and a husband and a heavy work schedule, but she is just all love, and kindness and sweetness itself. And imagine your child having to write things about you like…
“Cannot complete tasks.”
There was so much more but that is the one that makes me wince, because it’s true. My bi polar brain thinks up huge plans and schemes and dreams, and means well, and wants to believe that I can do these things, wants to believe that I am normal. But then my brain continues on rocketing all over the place until it’s crashing in debilitating depression. And I can’t breathe or sleep or move. A week goes by and the dishes aren’t done. “Tonight I will do them, tonight I will do them,” and then I cower in the corner of my little nest here, a reclining loveseat full of pugs, and I pull the blanket up and I cry and cry. I am crying now, I am so afraid.
There are things that I can do, slowly, over time, but consistency is not one of those things. I am painting Tallulah and Georgia, I want to make little books with my paintings and illustrations and tell the story of a frightened, agoraphobic, bi polar anxious woman who holds onto her little pug Georgia and keeps plodding along, holding on, trying to help others hold on too through her blog, and people have begun to ask about buying my paintings but I’m so new at this and I’ve never sold my work before. I am trying to figure this out.
The Catch-22 in all of this is that the very worst thing in the world for me, my worst trigger, is not feeling safe, safe in that everything will be okay. I don’t know that yet. If I did I would have the calm energy inside I need to do the things I do at least little by little over time, but I have been living under such uncertain conditions these last years, so alone, knowing the money would run out, waiting for the other shoe to drop as things get harder and harder emotionally that I curl up in a ball and can’t function. If we can find a way for me to have income I will be able to breathe. Right now I am holding onto each breath so hard the next one has a hard time finding its way up and out.
Breathe Maitri, breathe…
Bi Polar people don’t handle money well. My daughter is going to take over handling my finances. This is heartbreaking and humiliating and I am so grateful. I have been so lost for so many years and felt so alone and was so afraid and ashamed I didn’t know what to do. This angelic child of mine will manage things for me so that whatever money I get is managed well. I really am so, so grateful, and I cry in the dark at the implications.
I am intelligent, I have many talents, I have helped many, many people in my life and I love so deeply, and I want to be of service in the world, but right now I have to be of service in my own life.
Oh God, how can I do this?
I can do this.
I just stopped. Stopped and held my head in my hands, trying to feel my brain, trying to support it, or comfort it, or understand it, but it won’t talk to me. It controls my whole life but it won’t look at me, won’t say a word. How is this right? How can this not be terrifying?
I am holding on. I will hold on. Every day I am coming up with ideas about how to hold on. And I want to share this journey as honestly as I can here because it is so hard to hold on and some people can’t, or don’t know that they can.
Please, we can do this, we can be afraid, and we can cry, and we can feel ashamed if that’s what we feel but we can hold on.
I am anyway. I am holding on, because despite it all I have a lot to live for, and life is a precious, sacred gift and I know it, and with tears running down my cheeks I am telling you dear one, if you are having a hard time and you are afraid just keep coming back here and we will talk about it. It is not easy for me to tell my truth but if it helps one person then it is worth it.
I am standing here naked before you. All I have to offer is what is in my heart. But I urge you to come back and keep reading if you need help because I will give everything I have to give in any way that I can.
I am afraid, but I am here.