The Joy of Mania

w

 

Last Sunday, we had a houseful. My sons, Ethan, Jesse and Eric came. Ethan brought Otis, his 16 month-old son. Otis is learning to talk but more adorably, he communicates in gestures, pointing to emphasize, and shrugging to say, “where did it go?”

Jesse brought his three girls, Marissa, Claire, and Ally. They are six, five and four. Otis is going to think that all the girls love him, because his cousins dote on him.

Also, we had a treat. Frank’s nephew’s girls, Hannah, 9, and Sophia, 7, came with their mother Heather. So we had five girls and Otis here all at once. I was overjoyed.

Frank has a special relationship with Marissa. She runs right to him when they get here, because he’s her buddy. She makes up games for him, draws pictures for him, and is totally engrossed in her play with him. She needs the attention, having to compete for attention at home with her sisters.

The three girls were adopted when they were 2, 3, and 4. They’re tiny, measuring up to only the fifth percentile for weight and height of their peers. Sophia is small, but Marissa looked tiny next to her.

I was really looking forward to their visit. Usually, because I’m in my wheelchair, I have a hard time trying to figure out how to interact with the little ones. I long to get on the floor with them and play like Frank does. And usually with that many people here, I withdraw, and have difficulty speaking or talking. But this time was different.

Ally asked her father to read a book, and when he said no, I volunteered. It was such a joy to read to her. It was one of my favorite children’s books, “Are You My Mother?” When I got to the part where the baby bird meets the noisy snort, Frank chimed in with a bit “Snort!”

The girls love coming here. I have arts and crafts supplies. Heather did a craft kit with all of the girls, helping them make decorated hair clips. She was wonderful. She left a rock painting kit with me so I can play with the girls the next time they come.

I got manic that night and for the next week, I was manic and had a very hard time sleeping. I was so excited that I had not become withdrawn this time, and had enjoyed socializing with everyone. Jesse and I talked about Trump and he showed me a selfie he had taken in front of the White House, flipping it the bird. Haha.

I spent my nights on the computer, shopping for crafts kits for the girls to play with when they come. I bought them smocks for the rock painting. I bought Otis a toy airplane because he didn’t have any toys here. I was so excited, it was like a curtain had been drawn and I was connecting with my grandchildren in a different and authentic way. All this time, since December, I had struggled to communicate and play.

Usually, mania isn’t my friend. I lose sleep, I cause more weakness, I run down my body. But this time I thoroughly enjoyed the elevated mood and the urge toward creativity.

During this time, I made the slideshow I posted here on my blog. I mailed it to my family members. At last, after months of stagnation, I feel alive and purposeful.

Finally, I can play.

Love,

Gail

On Isolation

417671_438755949537704_1489572964_n-181x300

 

I am an isolated individual.

In 1960 at the age of five, I was stricken with polio, completely paralyzed and placed in a steel cylinder which did my breathing for me. I spent three months in the iron lung. I could not communicate with anyone. As a result, I spent most of my childhood nearly mute, and at the age of ten I was given a diary and discovered writing.

I was and am a very deep and intense person. On top of that, I have extremes of mood from bipolar disorder and nightmares from PTSD. Writing has always been an outlet for me as I am less able to communicate verbally, still.

Socializing is painfully difficult for me. I understand the root of the problem, having been brutally bullied as a child, but I still long for connection with my fellow human beings and so I make an attempt through writing.

My isolation has produced things of which I am very proud. I have a book of poetry which is a lifetime collection of deep and meaningful observations on life. I have a published memoir of my experience with polio and my subsequent recovery. I have deep and meaningful relationships with Frank and my family members.

But in the dark of night, by myself because I am unable to sleep, the isolation of being so verbally limited pains me.

I like to write inspirational blog posts. This time I don’t know where I’m going with this, except to reach out and touch you and feel you close to me. We all walk this earth alone and die alone, and none of us can peek into the mind of another. But when we converse, when we risk our vulnerability to share our fears and weaknesses, we also risk connecting and understanding and caring for each other.

This week I will try harder to speak more to others. I will try more often to post my feelings. I will rely less on memes and more on authenticity to connect with my friends.

Perhaps in this effort, I will find myself a little bit less isolated, a little bit less lonely, and a little bit less fearful of rejection.

May we all strive to gain a little more authenticity in our lives.

Peace to you all.

Love,

Gail

Prose – On this Day

468

My Original Family

This is, as the caption says, my original family at some date in some other time. My folks have died since, and the rest of us have aged and grown a little thicker. The siblings from left to right are oldest to youngest. I am second from the right. I miss my original family more than I admit even to myself. With all of their quirks, flaws, and uniqueness we have a bond of a world view which was created within our little sphere of suburban hood. We didn’t belong. None of us belonged to the culture of our peers, and as we each attempted to navigate the hoops and obstacle course and ordinary rituals of childhood, we knew we different.

Like our Dad, we read. Philosophy, poetry, comic books, forbidden texts, erotica, and pulp fiction. Like our Mom, we painted, sewed, used ceramics, loved nature, and created new things out of everyday objects we admired. We were gifted with a sardonic wit that my parents didn’t have and were often the object of such twisted thoughts and looks between us. We wrote and hid our thoughts between the pages of journals and and our rooms were banned to anyone else. In retrospect the house was small, but we each carved out a space which was most precious to us. Our privacy.

I miss them. They are far away in distance or in mind. I am on this day visited with a sadness so great I need them more than usual. I need to be in this picture with them, hoping they’ll hold me up for the next six months; as they once did in our little warped and twisted universe. It felt comfortable. It was home.

My fiancĂ© Frank is going through medical treatment for a rare and frightening disease. I have had more than my share of medical scares, but to see my love go through it is heart-breaking. I want to take his burden upon myself because I have beat the odds so many times before. It’s not that I doubt his strength, fortitude, or optimism to overcome it. He will. I just do not want him to be alone with it. He is going inpatient on Monday and we will be apart for the first time in three years. I can’t be there every day. He’ll tell me it’s not that hard on him, but I’ll know the truth.

He’s being strong for me, and I want him to be strong for himself.