Mental health

My 2nd Poetry Slam

I’m continuing to get on the microphone and dramatically read my poems. When I was younger and studying all forms of dance my dream was to dance on Broadway. I do love the thrill and terror that comes from being on a stage.

Last night’s slam was very intimate and cozy. I met some wonderful artists and even made plans to host a book signing with the promoter of this event who was so welcoming and made me feel so valued as an artist. This is called “Nothing But Poetry Live” and it helps showcase artists in and around Dallas, TX. I really love being around other creative people in this performance capacity!! I have found my people! Being seen and heard, my personal feelings landing with my own unique flare is so empowering. I was asked if I have a music accompaniment to go with my poems last night. I will be doing a collaboration with an old dear friend of mine from high school who is one of the most amazing guitar players I have ever heard and have the pleasure to know.

I asked the promoter Sam, to video me since I attended this event solo last night. This poem is called “Losing my best friend” and is inspired by what’s going on with my partner who is my best friend. My fiance played and retired from professional football with both the NFL and Arena football leagues. Watching and witnessing his struggle with mental illness including memory loss, hearing voices and not knowing who he is at times is beyond heartbreaking. Ironically, he wanted to attend with me last evening but had an anxiety attack that kept him from leaving our apartment. He later admitted how hard it is to see me in pain over what’s happening to him. I know he can’t help it and I don’t take any of it personally because I know how much he supports and loves me. My writing has always served as an outlet for me to process my feelings. This entire situation is hard for both of us yet I know he is my biggest fan even if he can’t show it 100% of the time.

I was having a conversation with my oldest son yesterday about how fast time goes by. I believe it passes even quicker as we age. He wasn’t too thrilled to hear that but I said it just makes every moment more precious. I want to stay mindful in each of them as much as possible to fully enjoy my life these days. I’ve squandered so much time in anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. It’s been 9 years since I was in and out of a psychiatric hospital myself with complications from CPTSD. These days, I celebrate my life and am intensely grateful for all of it! This is what “Triumphing over Trauma” looks like…..

“Losing my best friend”

This year is my year for transformation, a metamorphosis. I am going after my dreams by keeping my foot on that gas pedal and making the most out of this momentum energy I’m cultivating by doing it. It’s so exciting and it makes me feel so alive to be up on a stage again. Keep watching as this free spirit spreads her wings and soars highūü¶č

Mental health, Spirituality

To love is to live

My dear readers, have you ever woke up to a certain song stuck in your head? I did this morning and the way my mind works I’m always so curious as to where it came from. I grew up with my mother playing a lot of John Denver and American folk music in our house. The song that popped in and kept replaying was “Annie’s song”. That’s still one of my Mother’s favorites and I must admit mine too. Whenever I hear it I want to run through a brighly colored meadow or hike up a mountain. The whimsical visions that are sparked in my mind are so clearly an ode to love and nature. Lately, it’s a love affair with myself and my new found self love Imthat I’m so interested in exploring. I envision myself holding hands with my younger self running through that meadow and the look on the face of that little girl inside me.

Life has a way within its ebbs and flow to present me with what I need to consider more of and work on when it cones to either delving deeper into shadow work or exploring more and caring for my inner child. Lately, it’s the latter I have been being reminded of. I’m not sure if I have published my real name yet on this blog but it’s Maria. My full given birth name is Maria Teresa Pratico. Little Maria has been begging for my attention lately and wants to be nurtured. My legal last name is Swanson and I chose to not change that when I went through my divorce because I wanted my boys to see us as still being a family. Now i choose to use my maiden name because it resonates more within me. The Swanson in me was a robotic force and Pratico is more of my true identity.

After the realization I had in June of the abuse that I suffered it’s like a whole new part of me has been awakened and is demanding my attention. I must tell you my dear readers, my own years of therapy, the countless books and articles I have read on processing emotions has taught me that when our feelings are not properly realized and our emotional moods go unexpressed, over time it creates a real issue that just continues to hold us more and more captive. This is especially true when it comes to trauma, the more we stuff and repress the harder and heavier our bodies get holding onto that energy. That’s what having sessions of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy has helped me to release. However, there are other ways my inner child wants to be recognized and reparented in order to fully integrate her into my body. In his book, “The body keeps the score,” Bessel van der Kolk writes about unresolved trauma from a neuroscience perspective and explains why traumatized people experience incomprehensible anxiety, inexplicable numbing and intolerable rage, and how trauma impacts concentration, memory, and the ability to form trusting relationships.¬†These are symptoms that our bodies display because it’s been holding onto that energy, trapped in our body.

For so much of my life, I operated in an auto-pilot unconscious state of being. Now it feels like I was almost two separate people. The me before and the me now. I wasn’t awake, I lacked self love, self confidence, I doubted myself in almost every situation and really I can admit I wasn’t really living! I held myself back so much by choosing to focus more on other people’s feelings and emotions, their problems in hopes that if I could fix them I would be loved. Now I know that the only person who can give me the full attention, fulfillment and happiness I crave is me. It’s not an external process and doesn’t come from material things. I feel like I’m really living and in doing so I am living out loud, unapologetically and on purpose. Speaking my mind and my truth in my loudest voice whether or not it makes some people uncomfortable and disagree with me…all of it! If you don’t like it, look away and step out of my way because nobody will become my next excuse for not taking care of myself or stopping me now. At 42 years old, I have stifled myself for far too long and it’s my time to shine!

With it being a new year and a brand new decade, I made a promise with myself to do the things that made me uncomfortable. Right now this includes getting more and more comfortable with uncomforbility. I started recording video confessionals on my social media that I call, Maria’s Musings. I’ve never been a fan of myself in pictures and video because I’m so critical of my looks and my voice. No more!! I even record myself without makeup, dressed in my pajamas or workout clothes. It’s me being me and loving myself every step of the way. You can find me on Instagram @emotionalmusings. I checked off a goal on my vision board too by doing my first poetry slam over the weekend. I performed my poem, “Glimpses” which is a tribute to my dear Nana who is now one of my spirit guides who appears to me as a butterflyūü¶č

“Glimpses”
For my Nana

The new me has confused some people in my world and one person in particular is my partner. He gets upset with my new and total focus on myself at times because he is so used to me putting others, like him first. This has created a lot of friction between us. In the last five months we have argued more than the last six and a half years of our entire relationship together! I have disclosed in previous posts that he is also someone living with severe mental illness stemming from traumatic brain injuries and the many concussions he sustained while playing professional football.

https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/lincoln-coleman-former-cowboys-running-back-struggles-with-effects-of-head-trauma-10983207

Another harsh reality he faces are the facts that have been well publicized about the connection between traumatic brain injuries and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)which is a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. The symptoms may include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. These symptoms typically do not begin until years after the injuries. CTE often gets worse over time and can result in dementia.

It’s creates quite a challenge for him as he has watched many players die or commit suicide by shooting themselves in the heart so that their brains can be studied. Recently, he lost another player to suicide and when he told me, the look in his eyes rattled me to my core in a very deep way. Our connection and bond is so strong and to think of losing him in anyway but especially in that way terrifies me! Then I start examining everything he is doing and saying in a more critical way. The empath in me has had to learn how to actively block him so I don’t get caught up in his energy and thoughts.

Lately, it’s all been too much for me and my own regularly shifting fast moving energy collided and had in a way a head on collision with his energy and BAM! Making life decisions based in fear is never a good idea and results in undesirable outcomes. It’s my nature to love and accept others. That must include both myself currently and his reality too. All of that became entirely too much to handle last week. We had a bad blowout that resulted in both of us saying things we didn’t mean and I ended our relationship.

I also allowed this overly active fear and emotional state to spill over into my job as a manager for a dear friend of mine’s boutique. Without going into details, I did something that I shouldn’t have that could of put the business in jeopardy. My emotional state had me not thinking straight when I made this mistake. Then I went further into crash and burn mode by telling her I was quitting and gave¬†my two weeks notice abruptly and without any warning which hurt my girlfriend’s feelings badly. I know now what I did could’ve had irreparable damage to their livelihood and our great friendship. Taking stock of the situation took some serious sole searching on my part. The will to listen and quiet my own fears so that I wasn’t acting so selfishly and considered all sides of the situation. I’m praying for a positive outcome to my apology.

Living in fear is like being backed into a corner, triggering me to feel scared, helplessness and confused just as I did during the abuse I suffered. As I continue to heal, these parts of me are lying dangerously close to the surface and my own current reality. They at times become twisted up and entangled in a way that clouds my decision making and has me wanting to escape. This is by no means an excuse, it’s my reality and I’m addressing it head on.

I want to share with you dear readers the importance of addressing what you need to in life because we only get one shot at living. Life is precious and short. I’m someone who wanted to pull the plug by cutting my own short because living was so painful and I felt the only way out was death. A permanent solution to a temporary problem. Learning to love myself and having the ability to love another person, despite terrifying circumstances shows strength, resilience and most of all courage. Summoning that courage took the abity for me to use pain as a motivator not as a roadblock. I admit, I don’t always make clearheaded decisions concerning my life. I have the tendency to want to blow up my life and throw the towel in and say FUCK IT ALL!

Not giving into these urges is hard for me because my natural tendency has been conditioned to not focus on my own uncomfortable or challenging feelings of fear, anger and sadness. I stuff, numb and dissociate from them just like I did in childhood during the abuse. It was easier to put my mind in another place and numb out. It’s our bodies defense, protecting our brains from the highest levels of anxiety and circuit overload. I now know this coping mechanism no longer serves me and I must change that maladaptive pattern before it continues to wreck havoc in my world today.¬† Following inner compass suits my life and decision making much better!

Choosing to love and remain in love is hard during these fearful moments but if I want to live, I must love. I have also been programmed to find pleasure in pain. I have been noticing that when typing a lot I tend to type live instead of love. That’s what sparked me to start investigating this vital connection between loving and living. In order for me to consistently maintain my happiness, I must choose to love in order to keep living. The abuse is over. The little girl who experienced that rauma is grown. I have learned a better way to live. I can make better choices. When I fall down and make the same mistakes my from past, I can now recognize them and correct them by taking responsibility for my words and actions by choosing to not blow up my life. If it’s one thing I have learned it’s that the grass is never greener.

I choose to accept my partner’s prognosis and conditions because when taking stock of the pros and cons of our relationship, the pros undoubtedly outweigh the cons. More on that in upcoming posts my dear readers. Once I can snap myself back into my body, I can easily recognize this. When I was high in emotion mind, I wrote this poem. Thankfully for me writing is such a great outlet. One I need to rely upon more so I don’t actively allow fear into the driver’s seat unnecessarily.

Mental health

How I see things

I’ve been in my current relationship for almost six years. Most of the time I can’t believe how blessed I am to be able to be with a man whom I truly consider my best friend. He’s my person. Unfortunately, there is also a black cloud over us at times because of his mental illness combined with complex complications from years of playing professional football. This is simply my side of the story. What it feels like for me.

I say sometimes that the hardest part is missing somebody so much yet they are standing right in front of you. This man has endured the highest of highs on the gridiron and is now forced to suffer the harshest blows to his ego and personality as his memory, physical pains and overall health deteriorate slowly. I often feel helpless and overwhelmed by the reality of his conditions. As of right now he takes fifteen pills in the morning and about six at night before we go to bed. He has told me numerous times how he loathes all these pills.

Another aspect of our relationship that becomes hard to handle is his mood swings. Feeling so out of control, up and then crashing down creates this pushing away and then pulling towards one another. I could set my watch to his manic period every month, like clockwork. The rage, confusion, discomfort and instability inside him tells him to push me away. That I’ll be better off. I can’t help him. I need and deserve a different life. This from the man I love so deeply and have promised to be with forever. In one breath I’m hearing, “I love you”. In the next I’m being told to leave. More accurately I’m being left alone in our bed at night, staring at the four lonely walls of our apartment. We live in the back of his mother’s house and he often retreats into there.

No matter how many countless times I have begged and pleaded with him that I don’t want us to go to bed angry with each other and how it’s really hard for me to sleep alone because of my own C-PTSD symptoms and the feeling of security I get when we sleep together.

Right now my heart is so heavy as yet again I am alone after an irrational bout of senseless arguing. I tell myself each month not to take anything personally, don’t give in to fighting back with him. Yet every month I fall into this trap again. Laying here crying wondering what I did that was so wrong in his eyes yet knowing that he doesn’t have the ability to see things from my perspective. His perception right now is very skewed as his mind whispers lies to him.

I have vowed that I am down for the ride but the journey to healing is one he must take by himself. I can’t fix him. All I can do is be there for him and support him. Love him in spite of the hurt, love him even when I don’t like him and yes also love him when the voices in his head are screaming at him to give up for good.

It requires patience, understanding and stamina on a daily basis. It requires courage to put my own fears aside and not take the things he does and says personally.

I have come to be able to recognize the man I fell in love with as two different people. Both are intense, sometimes intimidating and passionate. One side is an amazingly funny personality and possesses an outgoingness that is infectious to everybody around him. The other side is serious, mean spirited, quick to criticize and unforgiving.

The roller coaster I ride is not for the faint of heart. It has taught me lessons about myself and my own inner strength. I rise and I fall within each and every month’s cycle living with a man who has severe schizoaffective bipolar disorder, PTSD and Concussion syndrome. We are doing what we can to slow down the progressiveness of his conditions yet I am aware of what our future will look like.

As I write this I choose to remember all the love, fun times and so many belly laughs we have shared. I want more of those yet I see them slipping away a little more each month. My heart aches for a more simple and less complicated road ahead.

I will never leave, give up or give in. I’m a love warrior, that is my job‚̧