Dreams, Toxic “Friends” & Facebook Freedom!

What DreamsWhat Dreams May Come

I love this image so!

The first time I saw the 1998 film What Dreams May Come I didn’t connect with it although it starred some actors I adored including Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra and Cuba Gooding Jr. Then, many years later, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and my beloved father died.  Those two momentous events were responsible for my change of heart regarding this film. After I gave What Dreams May Come a second chance, I fell head-over-heels in love with the story (which concerns mental illness, death and the afterlife), the acting, and its magical, state-of-the-art “painterly” special effects which won an Academy Award.

It was directed by the acclaimed New Zealander Vincent Ward. Some of you know I have a New Zealand obsession, so I appreciated having him at the helm.

I’ve cried every time I’ve seen What Dreams May Come since my 2nd viewing, and despite its triggering subject matter (depression/mental hospitalization/suicide) the movie gives me hope!

I love the image of a joyful Annabella Sciorra shaking off a crimson cloth in Switzerland. The scene plays a special role in the film, and thinking of it evokes a sense of wild abandon in me…of freedom from life’s worries, i.e.

Freedom from stupid-ass Facebook rejections!

Last Friday I published my post about how I felt being unfriended on Facebook in a very unfriendly fashion. I felt SO good after receiving such great feedback from followers. (Thank you!!!) I let that Facebook incident go for the most part, and I only thought of it a little bit. I carried on. With two young girls, a husband, two hyper Houdini-hamsters, and Miss Lucy the Canine Wonder (and tapering off Seroquel – more on that in my next post) I had enough on my plate…

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It’s not my favorite day – it feels like a contrived holiday, unlike the best holiday of the year: Halloween. 😉 Through a serendiptous series of events I found out I had been unfriended on Facebook AGAIN!  But instead of the Unfriender living thousands of miles away from me, this time I was unfriended by a neighbor living one mile away. I had always been kind to her, just as I had behaved with the fellow I wrote about last week.  

Long story short: my unfriendly neighbor has clinical depression, trauma, and some deep-seated personality disorders. Her unfriending me had much more to do with her issues than to do with who I was as a person, or with anything I had done. Despite my knowing all that, something in me snapped harder than it did last week.

Once again I thought,

F*CK THIS SH*T!!!!

One can’t get through life without rejection. We all know that. As much as I’ve loved using Facebook, yesterday it was clear it had become a channel for weird, toxic rejection. Two unfriendings in one week, even if they were not bosom buddies, was too much for this ultra-sensitive soul. Plus I have a book I need to focus on completing, which is all the more reason for me take a Facebook vacation. 

Last night I knew what I needed to do. I took a paltry thirty seconds and deactivated my Facebook account. It was a bittersweet moment, but it felt very empowering as well. I’m not sure how long this break will be, but I already feel more free! I have more time to write. It just feels healthy all around.

At least now there’s one less way for me to be triggered by those who don’t want me in their lives. As my seven-year-old girl told me while we played SmashBall last night, “They’re missing out on a opportunity, Mommy! You’re wonderful! I love you!” 

I love that kid.

Here’s the trailer of  What Dreams May Come – I can’t resist including it here after my glowing plug!

Cemetery Days

 

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I swore I’d never do it.  I vowed I’d never live next door to a cemetery.  I was a fervent believer in ghosts, although I never actually saw one.  Even so, I thought that if I resided next to a graveyard I’d be in constant fear that I’d spot a spook or maybe a bunch of them…and they’d get me!

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No way, no how would I spend most of my time next to a bunch of dead folks who could come and get me!

In 2001, my then-fiance and I rented a hovel owned by a wealthy landlord who charged an obscene amount of rent.  The house contained mold all over the place, and it was truly decrepit.  When the rainy season arrived, the small backyard’s inadequate drainage allowed a bona fide creek to run through the moldering garage.

After we gave our notice at Chez Mold, the rich landlady kept most of our deposit, even though we left the house in better condition than we found it.  We were ecstatic to move on to a better place owned by a more responsible, ethical landlord.

A friend had informed us of a cute cabin for rent.  It was located below the Chaminade, a gorgeous five-start resort that had previously been a monastery.   We drove over to the property to take a look.  As with many rentals in our town, the landlords lived on the same piece of property as their rental.  The husband and wife seemed friendly enough, and the personal reference certainly helped us seal the deal.  There was only one problem.

The studio was situated directly next to Oakwood Memorial, one of the largest cemeteries in the county.

As I looked around the beautiful landscape I decided to make an exception to my no-cemetery rule.   The cabin had a peaceful view of trees, and in the cheery cabin there was no mold in sight, anywhere.  I had been so unhappy at Chez Mold and I felt pretty desperate – I wanted to live in a relatively clean, bright and airy place with a reasonable rent.  The cabin fit that bill.  I told myself I’d try hard not to perseverate about our very, very quiet “neighbors”.  Craig assured me it would be fine – he never was creeped out by cemeteries, the lucky guy.

We moved in and I started to relax about my cemetery credo more than I had expected I would.  It helped that cemetery grounds were truly lovely, with lots of green grass and old trees scattered throughout the property.  An avid reader of our local news, I read articles and obituaries announcing when someone had passed away, and I’d take note if the person would be buried at “my” cemetery.

Over the next few days when I drove by the cemetery on my way to work, I’d notice a new headstone and a fresh patch of earth.  I’d spot the multitude of flowers, decorations, balloons, and the mourners around that plot.  Watching such a display often made me appreciate being alive more than ever before, but the new graves also gave me the shivers.

When I reviewed the obituaries of these people, their deaths felt more personal to me since they were literally so close to my home.  The most disturbing and heartbreaking aspect of my proximity to Oakwood was when I knew a teenager or a child had died and would be buried there.  Those displays had the most flowers, the most balloons, candy canes, pin wheels, and stuffed animals.  But overall, what mattered most about those tragic deaths was that love permeated through those new graves’ decorations.  Love erased the macabre element of those gravesites for me.

I finally overcame my fear of cemeteries when I started walking around Oakwood on a daily basis. I needed the exercise because I was sitting too much in my job as an administrative assistant.  I strolled around Oakland in loops, noticing the historic headstones and reading the quaint dedications on them.  Many of these markers had been there for over a hundred years, and some were impossible to read.  I know this will sound a little New Age-y, but at first I was concerned I might pick up “negative energy” by being around so much death, both recent and of bygone times.  Fortunately I didn’t sense anything disturbing once I meandered through the fields.

After our first daughter was born, Craig walked around Oakwood with her in the Baby Bjorn on his chest.   I always found it poignant that such a new, little life wandered that landscape, blissfully unaware that she was around a lot of folks on the other side.

That cabin turned out to be a very symbolic place for me to live, apart from the “carpe diem” inspiration I derived from my cemetery walks.  We also literally lived two blocks away from the  hospital.  I drove by the locked-down mental health unit every single day and would look at it, thankful that I had no reason to be there.  During the time I lived next to Oakwood, a close friend of mine needed treatment at the mental health unit and he told me horror stories about the place.  Little did I know that I would admit myself in there several years later when my postpartum bipolar disorder struck.

I think back to my cemetery days with a bittersweet smile.  I don’t mean to make light of the enormous pain of the mourners and those who died.  I think they all would appreciate my take on that final resting place that I first vilified, and then I found peaceful and beautiful.  I lived by Oakwood before my bipolar diagnosis, when I was joyfully pregnant with my first baby, and when I was innocent of all the suffering that was to come.  I am grateful that I faced my fears of cemeteries, for in facing my fear, I found beauty in unexpected places and deepened my awe of life and death in the process.

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