I risk loosing some of my followers but gaining others in disclosing that I have Bipolar Disorder. Should I start another private blog and keep the lightness and fun of Travels with Callie separate? I have decided that none of us live lives that are free of insult and injury and I am no exception.There are so many of us living with challenges in so many different forms, that it is worth the risk if I can help just one individual. For me, living with Bipolar Disorder is like driving down the road in a car and I am enjoying the beautiful scenery as it flashes by. You are traveling along and admiring the view but the car speeds up and continues to do so until you realize that the accelerator pedal is jammed and you start to panic. How do you stop the car when the brakes have failed and you are going faster and faster? Where is the runaway truck ramp when you so desperately need it? I have been accident prone since I was a very young girl. My fist major accident was when I was in second grade and I was on a bicycle and crossed a street darting out of an alley, and was hit by an oncoming car. I can still remember the ambulance ride to the hospital and being asked how to spell my name. I spelled it JAON. I in return asked if Doctor Kildare worked at the hospital where I was being taken. I am 61 years old and this was a TV show that I had watched with my older sisters and I had a crush on Richard Chamberlain. I also remember cringing because I knew I didn’t have panties on under my shorts. I suffered a head injury and my mother insisted I be discharged from the hospital because she would be able to take better care of me at home. I required stitches and it was important that I be turned frequently due to the head injury. My mother insisted that she understood the symptoms of a concussion and wanted me home with her. If I took a turn for the worse, she assured the doctor that she would bring me back to the hospital. I have another vivid memory of feeling very special when my sisters saw my head wrapped in bandages and I became the center of attention. I am a middle child with 6 sisters and a brother. Being the center of attention was a novelty to me. This was the start of many serious injuries I have sustained throughout my life, and I am determined now to focus my attention on self preservation and mindfulness.
It’s often said that a traumatic experience early in life marks a person forever, pulls her out of line, saying. “Stay there. Don’t move.”- Jeffery Eugenides, Middlesex
I had a beautiful childhood that was full of fun and adventure, but somewhere along the way I learned to hurt myself when life sped up or became too difficult to process. I couldn’t find a way to slow down and protect myself and found it easier to be hurt, seriously hurt, so that I had no choice but be forced to recover or die. This has been a life time pattern of mine and I could use some serious therapy, and maybe some day I will seek it out… again. For now, I have Callie. She has been a tremendous help to me. I watch her navigate through life and all that it throws at her, and she does her best to take it day by day and moment by moment.
Strangers seem uncomfortable when you question them about their childhood. But really, what else are you going to talk about in line at the liquor store? Childhood trauma seems like the natural choice, since it’s the reason why most of us are in line there to begin with. -Jenny Lawson
Last week in Borrego Springs, we had a serious storm blow through and we got a lot of wind and rain. Callie kept wanting to go outside so that she could climb her beloved olive trees and I kept telling her no. Finally, after much pestering, Michael decided he would take her outside for a bit and promised to keep a close eye on her. I watched from inside as the trees danced in circles and the rain came down in big but sporadic drops. They looked so cute in the backyard together with Michael’s hair blowing all over and Callie prancing around in glee. But all of a sudden a huge blast of wind much like a mini tornado slammed into both of them and almost pulled Callie up into the air. When she was able to get her feet down on the ground and found some traction, she made a beeline for me. If I hadn’t opened the sliding door at the last second, she would have hit the glass and knocked herself senseless. It was so funny to see her loose all sense of courage and make a dash for the house as if her life depended on it! We laughed so hard about the expression on her face and that she didn’t think MIchael was a good enough protector. She had made eye contact with me when the blast of wind had hit her and she raced toward me in a flash. Now she is no longer quite as enthusiastic about climbing the olive trees when there is a storm brewing. Callie learned a valuable lesson and I trust that she will be a little more careful next time.
Life is a journey and sharing it with Michael and Callie in my middle years has been a learning curve. Animals are sentient beings and the responsibility of taking care of them can either overwhelm you or add so much to your life. Callie is this tiny little package of emotion and energy and she really does seem to love me. I have always connected with animals and probably enjoy their company more than humans. She is therapeutic and great company for me and I hope to enjoy many more adventures with her.
Childhood is the barrel they give you / to go over the falls in. -Linda McCarriston
I am going to enjoy my life and take that barrel over the falls again with Callie and Michael, preferably a road trip, but this time I am going to slow down and write about my adventures and make sure to reflect on them to try to stay mindful, in the moment and safe!