Try making a list. Not a big list. Not a serious, inspiring, motivating, nudge-your-butt…
Adventures of an AT Widow is the tragic love story of a heartbroken young lawyer, abandoned by her cruel S.O. who left her alone on the sofa while he dashed off to discover the dangerous wilds of the Appalachian Trail.
He chose 2,200 miles of unknown who-knows-what just to get away from his significant other’s total failures at cooking, cleaning and html coding. At least that’s how it’s written in my script. But no, that’s not exactly what happened in real life.
I am not yet so shallow and self-obsessed to think the dude hiked 2,200 miles just to get away from me. He could have gotten away from me far more easily than that. A restraining order would have been cheaper and faster. Plus, I could have gotten one for him. I would have been a pal and helped him out that way. I know my way around a courthouse.
But then again, I might have been a little intense back then. Pre-Appalachian Trail, I mean.
Leading up to the Appalachian Trail, I was hiding recurrent intrusive thoughts of leaving this world in one of several different violent ways. And at that time, I had carefully researched and planned each manner of exit, obsessively and frequently reviewing the strategy for each one every day. All without him knowing. Because I was hiding increasingly upsetting mental activity of obsessions and rumination from him. Because he was an angel on earth who had already stayed with me through many treatments of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) a few years before and it had been hell. I had completely lost myself and had to be found again. And life had to be started over from scratch.
And starting life over from scratch in the middle of being in love is not fun.
But he was a good guy. And he had already been there for me through the worst. I didn’t want either of us to go back there again.
So I couldn’t tell him how intense my brain was getting with intrusive thoughts of ending it all. It just wouldn’t have been fair to him. At least that’s what I thought at that time.
He used to get mad at me for running alone on the side of the road when it was getting dark outside. And he didn’t like the routes I would take, past some locations popular for sketchier activity.
He didn’t know I was hoping like crazy that something bad would happen to end it all. But it wasn’t because I didn’t want to live. It was because my head was obsessed with intrusive thoughts of violence and harm and I just didn’t know what else to do. I just wanted to get the inevitable over with. It was so obvious to me that violent harm or danger was imminent. The violent reel played in my head almost all of the time, daring me to make something happen.
The violence reel played even though I didn’t want to die. I really didn’t want to die. I loved my life.
But intrusive thoughts don’t care whether you love your life. Intrusive thoughts are just focused on being intrusive. Intruding on your day and disrupting everything else that’s going on, over and over and over.
So I did what any good obsessive compulsive does. I unknowingly developed 101 compulsions to manage the distress of the intrusive thoughts.
Luckily, most of the compulsions took place on my laptop.
I found peace and quiet from my brain on my PC where I could write for hours and hours without giving my violent thoughts full run of the main stage.
Or, if I had to think about the violent thoughts, I could research and write about them. Or write through them, letting the thoughts strut about freely while I wrote about everything else in the world. My laptop allowed that dangerous information to move about in a non-threatening way and it enabled me to be myself, even if it was just in the solitude and privacy of my screen, files, photos and folders. I built a world on my laptop where I felt safe, loved, sane and helpful, a place where my voice mattered. And I was the only one who knew about my world for a long time.
My world was was private until the hiker taught me the html code to build my first website. Noboo.com was named for my shiny black cat, Boo Radley, who lived in magnificent youthful health for nineteen years. For the first ten years of Boo’s life, all you would hear at home was “No Boo! No Boo!” a million times because Boo was quite mischievous and always on the verge of knocking books off shelves and glasses off counters. It was Boo’s greatest joy to taunt us with any object near the edge of a table.
“Boo! No! Do not push that jar of peanut butter over the edge! No! Boo! I mean it.NO!”
But at the end of the day, noboo.com was a shrine to Boo Radley, the naughtiest funniest cat in the world. And it started me on the road to writing all sorts of different content, where I learned that creating anything feels better than obsessing about death. And it turned out that writing would save me again and again and again.
With noboo.com up and running, the hiker left me for the Appalachian Trail and I sat down to write Adventures of an AT Widow, a book about heartbreak. And Starbucks. And running.
This is a selection from If Life Was Always Like This, a personal narrative in progress. Hope you’ll stay tuned for future glimpses.
xoxoxo, d (and bella)
Random Thoughts from a Recent Journal:
What is the problem?
The problem is that my brain tells me I want to do bad things.
Then just do the bad things already and stop talking about it. What’s the point of talking about it? Are you going to do the bad thing or not do the bad thing?
But I don’t want to do it.
Then don’t do it. Just stop thinking about it and talking about it.
That’s the problem. It’s not about whether or not I want to do it. It’s about the fact that I can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it and wanting to do it. I am obsessed with wanting to do it. How do I make my brain stop telling me I want to do it? It is driving me insane that I want to do it and it is keeping me from living my life.
* * * * * * * *
It’s helpful to maintain a list of Things That Work.
Things That Work are things that distract you, soothe you or make you feel better in a way that doesn’t hurt you or harm you.
Maintain a list. Make it a living list.
Keep adding to it as you find new Things That Work
* * * * * * * *
When you’re driving with the brakes on
When you’re swimming with your boots on
It’s hard to say you love someone
And it’s hard to say you don’t
~ Del Amitri ~