The Mind of God
I’m on point when my Mister drops us off at the first big box store. We’re shopping for pants for the little-Little. I’m just as surprised as you are to find myself here. I don’t know how it’s come to this, but it has. We head to the clearance rack in the juniors’ section. The little-Little, who’s been enthusiastic about this venture all weekend, is now completely indifferent.
By the time I’ve combed the clearance rack with absolutely no help from the little-Little, I’m starting to fritz. It’s not the prices. I’m getting all panicky and that sucks so bad I can’t stand it. I shouldn’t have done this. I shouldn’t have come to this big store to shop for pants with my kid. I shouldn’t have done something completely normal that normal moms do on a normal Monday during Thanksgiving break. Normal. Ugh. I loathe that word. It’s a myth, a cop out, a fallacy.
The little-Little is in the dressing room and she’s being a ten year old kid who doesn’t like anything. The middle-Little comes over with a shirt they want. I start panicking even more, ’cause I don’t wanna tell my kid they can’t go having clothes off the rack in this big box store. The little-Little’s tossing crumpled up jeans at me from underneath the dressing room stall. I feel the smile stretch across my face and think how my kids deserve to have a mom who can take them shopping without having a breakdown like a freak.
While the little-Little tries on five more pairs of jeans and the middle-Little and their friend go to look at more shirts I can’t afford, I find an empty dressing room, lock the door, and cry. I breathe. I try to remember all the things I’ve learned about anxiety attacks, about managing mental illness. This is gonna happen sometimes, but this has been brewing for a few days and goddamnit, I’m so tired of being crazy and being crazy in front of my kids. The little-Little can hear me. She asks why I’m crying. I say I hurt my head earlier, ’cause I don’t want her to know that it’s happening again on a day when she wants to go buy new pants.
I make it out of the dressing room. My mister shows up. We find a pair of pants. We get the shirt the middle-Little wants. Then, there’s one hour in Old Navy. I think I may die. Only, I don’t die. At any time, I can say to my family, “I don’t feel well. Let’s go home.” I don’t. I pretend, but not well. The undercurrent of crazy is strong. My mister fights the tide like he’s done for years. My kids don’t hesitate. This is nothing new. I’m the only one who’s freaking out about me freaking out.
I make into the actual mall with a parched throat. It’s as if I’ve walked across a desert. I’m angry with everyone as I wash down a gingerbread cookie with a diet coke and pretend like I’m happy with a reader or two. I want to lash out at the kids in Chick-Fil-A and the sales lady at the kiosk who really, really wants to sell me an ornament. I need to go home. I’m a mess. I finally send the middle-Little and her friend into a department store and tell them to call me when they find some clothes.
Monday’s episode spills over into Tuesday. I explode. I fall back on many of my old destructive behaviors. I wanna run. I want out. Out of here. Out of everywhere. Just out. I end up sitting behind the bushes in the corner of my yard, hiding like a kid. No shit. I’m in my thermal underwear, in my cheetah coat and slippers, crying my eyes out and chain smoking. At the time, that isn’t funny on accounta I’m having a breakdown, but for reals… Take a second and enjoy that mental image, ’cause I am.
Here’s the thing, y’all. I don’t disclose all my ups and downs here. I have a huge basket I’m carrying. We all do, right? I share Monday’s shopping trip and Tuesday’s panic, ’cause that’s when the shit hit the fan. I wanna remind my friends out here on the internets that the the holidays are upon us and we have to be extra careful and extra honest. I have opportunity after opportunity to reign it in on Monday. I don’t. That’s a choice I make.
Yesterday, after I leave what we’ll call the secret garden in the corner of my yard (and get dressed and all), I have occasion to see a wise friend o’ mine. I don’t plan on seeing this friend. I don’t plan on having this moment. The Universe conspires to put people where you need them though. My friend asks me how I am and I tell him without hesitation that I’m spiritually drained. I say, “I’m talking to God, but… I guess I’m not listening.” And he says, “I guess you need to be quiet, Beth.” Then, he reaches out and with gentle power seizes my arm. He says, “Think with the mind of God.”
I know, I know. When crazy folks start talking ’bout the mind of God, everybody clears the room, but hold up. It’s Life Lessons 101, y’all. Be still. Listen. Use whatever word you need there. God. The Universe. Goddess. Allah. Buddha. Jesus. Oneness. Just be still. I’ve been doing a shit ton of talking here lately and not near enough listening. The mind of God is a quiet place. At least, I’d imagine it is. I’mma try not to talk over God, friends. I think my Crazies and me might could use the help.
Now, listen to me. You can’t pray away the Crazies. People who tell you shit like that don’t get mental illness. That’s gonna hurt some of your feelings. Some of y’all might get mad. That’s okay. This right here isn’t for you. This is for people who are gonna struggle this time of year. Hold on if you feel like you want to get out. This next month or so might get hard. I want you to do your best to stay around and stick it out. Be still a minute is all I’m asking. Don’t talk over God (or whatever word you wanna use there). Don’t believe what’s going through your head when the Crazies hit. And if you can’t reach in for that stillness, you get your ass somewhere and you reach out.
Suzanne aka Laughing Scholar
Thank you for sharing. I needed this today. Shed some cathartic tears. You can’t pray away the Crazies, but having some quiet divine time sure does help. I’ve been avoiding that – numbing myself, and well, that isn’t working too well. Avoiding life is like being a zombie – I end up walking funny, losing all ability to react, my skin don’t look too good, and I try to eat people. I’ll be reaching for that stillness once I figure out if it’s inside or out.
Thank you Beth, for sharing your life stories. Reading about your crazies helps me with mine. You are an amazing writer and I really enjoy reading your blogs. Your pictures are too cute. (I have written and rewritten this comment to try and make it sound amazeballs, but even over the internets I get all anxious and critical of myself) All I was trying to say was that I think your wonderful and very inspirational.