Sitting in my kitchen, I am amazed at how the morning’s indirect light can miraculously evade a winter’s worth of water splotches and mud prints from the dog. Amazed even more at how quickly winter went by when some days it felt like an eternity.
Outside I see that the grass my husband had planted from seed in the fall has grown exponentially. I’ll admit that I had mocked him when he had meticulously laid the soil, raking it perfectly flat and then had daintily sprinkled the seeds. I said it would never survive. He chuckled and said:
“I’ve seen fragile things survive harder conditions than our winters. Plus I’ll kill any squirrel who dares dig a nut in this.”
After the final snow pile had melted, he had inspected the ground. It is riddled with holes.
Over the season, we had watched big fat grey squirrels, black squirrels, squirrels with no tails, ones with bald patches – all sorts, shovel and run through his grass. We would just sit at the table and giggle as my husband would get up and bang on the window and shout “Damn you! Get the hell off my lawn!”
But so far, it’s beautiful.
The mornings have been getting warmer and I can comfortably wander outside with my coat and tea without aggravating my Raynaud’s (of which, can I tell you, has been an absolute pain lately. Quite literally).
I’ve been craving alone time more and more lately.
Just the silence, really.
Space to inhale and exhale and maybe sigh so bloody loud that I don’t hear a single soul say:
“OH. MY. GOD. WHAT IS WRONG NOW?”
Today, I let that morning’s indirect light welcome me out. There are tree buds floating in small puddles on the pavement.
The birds are singing and the pitch is loud and happy – forever a sign that Spring is finally rooted and for some odd reason it also reminds me of when I started my psychiatric rotation in nursing school.
I woke up just before the sun but not before the birds. They were the only noise in my house those early mornings as I rushed to find whatever regular clothes I had clean for my clinical rotation.
We weren’t allowed to wear scrubs and had to place stickers over our last names for “our protection”.
Outside they were louder. I’d even hear them over the hum of the car motor when my dad would stop at a red light. I’d put my face out of the windows to feel the cool air and to breathe.
I had regular stress then.
My dad barked at me every day, on the entire drive, about the same damn thing:
“Be careful. You never know what these people could do.”
“Those people” had names.
Those people had lives outside of those cold pasty walls.
In their charts painted portraits of moms and dads and teens and retired public servants, and just beautiful people who were born with crappy genes and chemicals or traumatic life experiences — who knows and who cares.
Those people where more than an illness.
They were people.
When I walked on that unit I’ll tell you what I saw:
They looked like me.
They looked like you and him and her.
I sat with “those people” outside every day on their passes. I listened to them talk about anything and everything or I listened to nothing but their puffs on a cigarette and the silence between us – the tension, the pain, and those “f**king loud birds” as one man had said.
I am certain that the people I love, who know me most, see things differently when almost ten years after my clinical rotation, I became one of “them” —
The ones locked behind those doors.
We – people with a mental illness – aren’t supposed to look a certain way or behave in a certain way.
It infuriates me that in 2017, I’m even discussing this –
Why can’t you see that we are so much more than.
We have are individuals with spectacular minds and you choose to only look at the diagnosis.
I hear my son in the house laughing and my husband’s loud thuds – mini sticks.
It cuts through my angry thoughts.
I take a breath in and note that my my lilies are starting to bust through the thick topsoil and there on my rosebush are delicate leaves.
I am reminded of what my husband said, that fragile things can survive harder conditions.
And I know.
And I know.