Saturday, March 26, 2016

Freelance Jail

'Twas the morning before Easter and all through the apartment,
Not a creature was stirring, except Office Max
(who was chewing on cellophane surrounding a bouquet)

I love and hate this moment.

I love that my brother and sister-in-law are asleep in the next room.

I love that Max keeps pacing alongside the keyboard, demanding more nudges.

I hate that I have to work on a freelance piece instead of being allowed to go in and jump on their bed, singing obnoxious "Good Morning" songs.

I love the quiet, and that I'm the only one up, with Max and the full coffee pot.

But I want them to wake up and be with me.

Spending Easter with family is priceless. I got teary driving to the airport last night, because I just realized I need a dose of my family. And what a perfect time for it as we celebrate our risen Savior.

And oh do I need a Savior. My heart is crabby and craggly and gross these days. I need love. I need to be shown how to love.

For now, I will meditate on that, as I review my story, sip my coffee, snuggle the cat, and wait for my family to rise and get this party started.

Blessed Easter,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The night I watched the cat watch TV

Max watched TV last night.

No really.

And he blocked my view.

Jerk. Cute, cute jerk.

I couldn't sleep last night -- which is nothing new as of late or in my life as a whole, but otherwise is a rather recent development -- and so I decided to turn on some delicious Felicity to ease the pain and hopefully ease me into sleepiness.

Plus I was just lying there thinking about all the things I have to do in the next week (it's like three weeks worth of stuff), so I wasn't getting anywhere.

So I pulled out my laptop, went to my Amazon account, and pressed play.

And thennnnnn, the cat decided to march himself across the keys.

He positioned himself comfortably, paws tucked under his soft, white breast, to the left of the keyboard.

And then he proceeded to watch some TV.







So anyway, the two of us watched Ben and Felicity's drama unfold before us, in the glory that is historic-haircut season two, and we were having a nice time.

And thennnnnnn, the cat decided to -- for whatever feline reason -- move himself a little more onto the keys.

This time, he managed to mute the show, and block my view.

And he totally moved his head to watch the shadows and flickers of light, occasionally pawing at the screen when he saw movement.

I can't get over how adorable this was.

So suddenly we found ourselves in this situation:

The cat was watching TV, and I was watching the cat.

The latter is routine, the former, novel.

So wonderfully novel.

I examined the edge of his silhouette, lit by the computer screen. When I touch him he feels smooth, like silk, but in this light he looked almost prickly, with tufts of fur separated and jutting out to different lengths.

And those glossy eyes, like marbles, so sweetly moving around, slowly examining the lives of University of New York students, painted in near-sepia tones, speaking in always hushed voices.

"Hey," Felicity says to Ben. Oh how many times does she repeat that line? And why is that show just like a drug to me? I LOVE IT.

At one point Javier had his hand up in the air, and I was hoping, hoping that the cat would paw at him and give him a high five.

Eventually I got sleepy, and I moved aside, leaving Max in peace to watch the show. I dozed, then finally came to and realized he had moved on. I closed the PC, then snuggled in with my WB drama loving cat, the two of us drifting off to slumberville. When I woke up this morning, he was nestled near my torso.

What can I say but that I recommend watching TV with your animal. It's, like, the best.

Friday, March 18, 2016

I can't keep acting like a 20 something.

I'm too old for this.

I can't go see Springsteen until 1 a.m.

I can't freelance and work a full time job.

I can't do karaoke two nights a week.

I can't be the multi-tasker who doesn't answer texts. I don't want to be her. I want to be the girl who gives my friends attention and more attention. I want to be Super Friend.

Super Friend! Super Friend! She's super friendyyy, yow.

I need to pet the cat more. Just shove my face in his belly and feel it rattle.

Alex and I are leaving town for a wedding tomorrow (not ours), and we both just decided that we need to let ourselves rest tonight and tomorrow morning and leave later rather than earlier.

Regardless I plan to have a Starbucks in hand as we roll away.


How you say 100?


That's what I need. A Centi macchiato.

And make it a triple.

And I need rest. With a motoring cat next to me.

I feel like my blog has morphed into Bailey's diary, and all it ever says is: "Bailey's tired." "Bailey wants donuts." "Bailey's obsessed with her cat."

I'm sorry about that.

Wait no I'm not.

I wonder if Bruce Springsteen likes spaghetti, since his name shares so many letters with the dish?

Deep thoughts for your Friday afternoon.

I would make coffee, but I'm too tired and lazy to get up and do it.

Today's diet:

Oatmeal (dried fruit, pecans, cinnamon)
Potato chips
Salad (chicken, avocado, chia seeds, cucumber, tomato)
More Coke
Four (?) Reese's eggs

I've peed a lot today. I've kept my energy -- and my mood -- up today.

But I'm crashing, friends. Crash. ing.

Craaaaaaaaaaaaaash into me, yeah. Baaaabyyyyyy.

I love Joni Mitchell (I know the above lyric is not one of hers. Calm down).

OK. I might go see about that coffee now. Because something's gotta change, and that change ain't going to be that I'm reverting to my youth. Because clearly I'm getting old.

Bye, folks. Talk lata. Hopefully more competently.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Immediate Chipotle needed

You know how in Love Actually Sam's stepdad* says, "We need Leo. And we need Kate. And we need them now."?

I'm like that right now, except I'm like, "I need Chipotle. And I need to breathe. And I need these things now."

*by the way, how many viewings did it take you to figure out he wasn't his birth father? Because I know it wasn't one viewing. Don't lie to me. You're safe here.

I am a crank. pot. right now.

I'm going to see Bruce Springsteen tonight, and the Boss better snap me out of this funk or I tell you what.

Aren't my blog posts just lovely and happy lately? :)

Sorry, Guys, I just am juggling freelance work and regular work and that always gets me out of sorts. Plus my next two weekends are booked, so I really am giving every spare moment to work/travel prep/having-guests-at-the-apartment prep.

I tell ya, I will never stop re-learning the lesson that sometimes being busy is fun but sometimes it is not!

Anyway, that's all I have time to write right now, because I've gotta get back to it!

Grumpy smooches!

Brought to you from the middle of the night (ugh)

Insomnia used to be a friend enemy of mine, but I'm pretty sure that once we parted ways I never asked it to drop in for a visit whenever it felt like it.

So why?, insomnia, are you here tonight?

As much as I love any opportunity to feel the cat's weight against my leg, and to listen to his tongue voraciously comb his fur...well, I'd rather be sleeping right now.

Legitimately aggravated am I, and a wee bit unsettled, by the fact that I haven't struggled to sleep in well over a year, and for the past two nights I have spent any time at all staring at the ceiling.

These have been mild cases, too, mind you, which is causing me to ask: how did I ever put up with this for all those years?

I used to not sleep at all, People. Like, would lie in bed, never fall asleep, and then get out of bed in the morning.

It was terrible. So terrible that I'd rather not explore it right now, I'm discovering rapidly as I type this.

So let's move on.

I'm going to see my therapist in approximately 10 hours. I don't usually "excite" (yes, I'm making that a verb) for therapy sessions, but I finally did something that I've been telling him for months I would do, so I'm looking forward to marching in there, plopping myself on that couch, and casually, arrogantly telling him that, well. I finally did it.

I hope there's a standing ovation and an applause track.

There really should be.

I packed a workout bag before going to..."sleep" tonight. I find this is the first step to success in an exercise plan for myself. I used to think the big important thing was getting to the gym, but I'm finding what needs to come prior is dressing out for gym.

Remember when we used to throw that term around? Dressing out? Phew. Throw back Thursday, Y'all.

Anyway. I'm excited for my four miles of cardio tomorrow.

And for therapy. Whoa. What's up with me? Not sleeping and I'm looking forward to therapy.

All right, let's see what else I can talk to you about before trying to sleep again.

OK, this is another downer topic, like insomnia (or would that be an upper? Since it keeps you up?), but we're going to delve into it, because no time like the can't-believe-I'm-still-awake present.

So I've been catching myself in moments of self reflection lately, and I feel like I'm coursing with poison.

Dramatic? Maybe. But I just feel like I'm being judgmental and negative and nasty and gossipy and yick yick yick what is up with me?!

Praying -- in the 20 second bursts that I can manage -- that I can reel it in and get some good coursing through my veins again soon.

Do you ever have seasons -- however brief -- like that? Where you just look at yourself and think, "[Your name here]? Calm it down. Be nice!"?

Well I'm in one of those seasons. I'd appreciate your prayer if you can spare a 20 second burst of a moment.

Now off to see if my body will grant me a little rest.

Not the nicest, or well-rested, or thinnest version of me

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Paper. Busy. Cat. Correspondence. Flowers!

Let's play a game.

It's called "Let's see if Bailey can finish a blog post rather than forgetting about it and ultimately saving it as a draft to be lost in the draft archives forever."

Sound fun? Great.

Even if it means I have to type your ears (eyes?) off about random stuff you don't care about, we're doing this.

Let's see......what can we talk about?......


I have been sorting paper like WHOA lately.

Bags and bags and paper grocery bags have I filled with stuff I. DON'T. NEED!

And it feels so gooddddddddddddddd.

Except for the moments when I've been doing it for hours and I still see an embarrassing mountain of paper before me -- those are the moments I get cranky and cancel plans with Alex and make Abby want to run and hide from her scary, cranky roommate.

But I am keeping on!

Tonight I envision a beer bottle beside me, tunes serenading me, as I sort, sift, toss, and file.

Ahhhhhhhhh. Feels so good, Y'all.


I am doing e'rrrrrrrything these days.

Two freelance assignments due in the next four weeks. Brother and sis-in-law in town (!!!!) for Easter. To a wedding with my honey bee this weekend.

Volunteered to do the drive to the wedding, so gotta clean my car out to make room for suitcases.

And we all know that'll take a month to complete.

[That reminds me, I recently found myself saying to a server taking my plate away at the dinner table: "I am completed," instead of "I am finished." Isn't that weird? It just came out of my mouth. Alex said I could keep it up and it could be my thing.]


If I don't have just the softest, snuggliest munch.

He cracked me up last night. I went on a walk/jog after work, and when I got home I immediately made a smoothie (because I knew if I put it off, I'd end up ordering pizza. Again.), whereas usually I bee line it to the cat's dish to load it up with some chopped up meat yums.

That little booger just sat on the couch and went, "Meow. Meow. Meow. MeOW! Meow. Meow."

As soon as I turned on my heels to head toward Cat Food Land, that nugget went flying toward his dish.

Love him. And love talking about him. Can you tell?


I finally sent my Christmas cards. That's right. They were scribbled in, stuffed, enveloped, stickered, and stamped in November, I'll have you know. But, yes, I didn't mail them until recently. But people loved that little spring pick me up!

Wouldn't this world be different if Stevie's song had been Stuffed, Enveloped, Stickered instead of Signed, Sealed, Delivered?

Think about it.

I sang Stevie's version of "Happy Birthday" to Abby at karaoke for her 30th, and I just want to inform you all: that song is approximately nine minutes long.

Just so you're aware. Before you put your name on that slip of paper volunteering yourself to sing it, just think about what you're getting yourself into.

Think about it.

Back to correspondence notes/updates.

I found eight -- EIGHT. -- books of stamps while cleaning my bedroom this weekend.

And I wrote messages on three postcards, but have not yet sent them.

I also assembled multiple packages for friends and family and schlepped my load over to the UPS store and coughed up some dollars to send some love via the Pony Express.

I love sending mail. And getting it.

I think that's why I always order things online. It might be more about receiving mail than about the objects themselves.

Which is a problem. [Takes note on what to discuss in next therapy session...addiction to mail...]

Phew! That was a lot of talk about mail! Are you tired yet?

OK let's do one last topic and then wrap this up and then celebrate that Bailey began and finished a blog post, even if it was just chatty and not real creative writing.

Let's? Let's. topic....


Ahh, flowers. Nosegays.

I love 'em, don't you?

That's another thing -- like mail -- that I like to give and receive.

And my honey bee buys them for me a lot. I like that he never tires of doing so. He gave me a new bunch last night, and I put them in an old, squatty salsa jar with a green ribbon tied round. They are sitting on my desk at the office and, well, just keeping me cheery.

I've also been noticing them all around.

I used to be rather negative and prone to depression and all that, and in those days I would see a flower sticking out of an otherwise urban, dusty, neglected crack of pavement and it would make me feel...deflated. Like why was that burst of color even trying?

I know this sounds dramatic and terrible, but it's getting me nearly teary writing this because that was truly how I felt.


But now, especially in the last week or so, I've been like, "Ooh! Flower! What a gift in this otherwise urban, dusty, neglected crack of life!"

I notice the scent. Jasmine is my absolute fave of real life, experience-it-in-the-wild, flora smells.

I notice the color. ColorS. I notice the shapes. The personality of each bundle. There are just zillions of flowers! And they are free to look at! And smell! And everything would otherwise be dusty, and ugly, and sadly overlooked, if it weren't for the flowers jutting their nosey little nosegay selves into our lives!

I know this sounds dramatic and gaggy, but really. STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS. They are here for US.

If you don't stop and smell the flowers, at least be aware of the jasmine as you pass it. Even if you're too busy to stop and meditate and pretend you're at an ashram with your yoga pals.

Just smell it.

Let that GIFT waft around you. Let it tangle in your hair and tickle your lungs and please your soul. And know that I'll be doing the same.

Loves from your flower-obsessed friend. I hope you're well.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

It's time the public learn who Bonnie Raitt is

My heart weeps a little every time someone tells me they've never seen Wayne's World.

Perhaps even more so when they act like Wayne's World 2 isn't worth a viewing. It is so worth a viewing. It is worth viewing after viewing during spring break of your sixth grade year in school, when you were maybe too young to be exposed to such humor but most of the inappropriate jokes went over your head anyway and so you just enjoyed the heck out of the PG moments in the film, both films, back to back to back.

"Wayne Stock!"

"Dot the...lowercase j's..."

"Who's the old lady?!" "That's my old lady."

It is SO worth a watch (multiple watches), my readers, my friends.

Whenever someone tells me they aren't familiar with WW, I just console myself with the fact that we're -- oh so sadly -- kind of past the generation of time in which WW was required viewing. It isn't easy, but it gives me some small semblance of some itty bitty peace of mind.

[Lets out a deep breath of resignation.]

Ugh. So the Wayne's World thing is hard. Certainly, legitimately difficult in its own right.

But I have been horrified.


by something else I have heard lately from the people around me in this life I lead.

I have heard, MORE TIMES THAN I SHOULD, some very hurtful.



And those are these:

Sigh. It hurts me even to type it, I need to ramp up before I do.

OK. I'm ready. No I'm not ready. But off with the Band-Aid!

"Who's Bonnie Raitt?" people have ACTUALLY, LITERALLY, said to me.


What's worse: MORE THAN ONE person has said this to me!!!

No. No no no no no no no. This is unacceptable, America!

You must know who Bonnie Raitt is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ugh. It just bothers me so much, friends.

Now. As soon as I sing the opening bar of "Let's give 'em somethin' to talk about," people get it right away.

"Ohhh. Yeah. Of course."

Not good enough. Not good enough for me, America.

It's time we bring Bonnie back as a household name. Let's make America good again, America.

Too far?

Too close to home, with the crazy election happenings we're seeing unravel before our horrified eyes?

Did I just get political again?

Reeling it in. Reset.

OK. So anyway.

I'm not usually one for tough love, but y'all need to get your act together and learn who Bonnie Raitt is. You need to know what she looks like (red hair, awesome trademark silver streak). You need to know what her songs are -- you can't just know the one hit. You need to know "Nick of Time." You need to know "Cry on my Shoulder." You need to understand that my dad introduced me to her lesser known, oh so fine tunes, and that it was a beautiful moment in my musical molding as a youth.

And you need to understand that she is a legend.

And that I am going to see her at the Greek this summer.

And when I tell you that I am going to see her at the Greek this summer, you reply with what, America?

Not: "Who's Bonnie Raitt?"

No no.

You respond with this: "Jealous!" "Awesome!" "Where do I buy a ticket for my very own?!"

Signed, with tough love,

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why being mentally well made me feel like a hypocrite

I've been calling my parents, in times of trouble, for as long as I can remember.

I can still envision the phone I once used to dial them from a childhood sleepover. The number keys were oversized, and each a different shade of grey, the 3 a little darker than the 2, and the pound key the darkest. Their ombré hues were lit by the moon, coming in through the kitchen windows after midnight.

Homesick and staring at the ceiling of my girlfriend's bedroom, I finally crept from my sleeping bag and called home, hoping my parents would file into the minivan and cruise the quiet suburban streets to rescue me from my missing them.


They were a little jostled, but not angry. They talked to me for a few minutes, and by the time I hung up I felt braver, more calm. I got the dose of Family I needed, enough to finally fall asleep and make it 'til morning to see once again the people who made a daily, trusted appearance in my life.


When I dialed home this weekend, Dad's voice slipped instantly into concern, moments after he answered and heard my tears over the line.

"What?" he asked gently, and I wondered for a moment if I heard fear in his voice. Fear that we had taken a trip back to the Bad Old Days, the days when I called every few weeks, laden with debilitating sobs and very little hope for my long term future, let alone the next five minutes.

I had just finished crying to Alex, and after running in to the drugstore to pick up my anti-depressant medication, a new round of sadness came over me and I suddenly, instinctively, needed only my Mommy and Daddy.

In a Rite Aid parking lot, I found myself unable to stop worrying about those in my life who are struggling to find mental, spiritual, and emotional peace. With a wave of utter grief, I realized what it must have felt like for my parents to support me all those years, to watch me wrestle to keep my sanity.

It was, is, almost too much to bear. So I did what I'd done a hundred times before. I flipped through my contacts, selected "Home," and punched Send.


The quick story of my life goes like this: content, somewhat anxious, hyper childhood. Happy middle school years (I know, I'm weird). Out-of-place high school years. Elation in college, until senior year, when anxiety came back to visit. Isolation and depression following graduation. Escalating anxiety, therapy, meds, able to sleep and eat again. Then a lot of UP! and down. Weaning off meds, getting back on them. Seasons of therapy and seasons of no therapy. Then almost to the brink of no return, a phone call to a psychiatrist, new meds -- AWESOME meds, then (pretty much) happy, happy, happy.

Read about my full journey here if you want the longer version, but I'm not going to get into many details of my past because I want to focus now on where I sit today, which is a place I've never been before. 

In the last several months, I've watched multiple people in my life struggle with their mental health. In some cases, I've been very close to the action -- or, rather, inaction, as depression is generally more of a sluggish state and is not usually quick to disappear.

After service this weekend at church, I thanked our pastor for preaching on mental health. I had him introduce me to our new mental wellness intern (Hallelujah! that such a thing exists); I told him I'm happy to help in any way I can to serve our community.

I dropped off my prescription, grabbed groceries, ate a giant salad, went for a walk. Happy, happy, happy.

Or so I thought.

In the morning I had celebrated that my church community is discussing mental health, openly and fervently. We hired an intern, for crying out loud.

By late afternoon, when I drove to pick up my meds, the unmet needs of my friends had started to weigh on me so heavily that I had crumpled 20 tissues on my passenger seat and was still reaching for more.

Instead of getting the usual relief from my tears, each salty trickle down my cheek brought with it a new layer of feeling -- guilt, selfishness, anger, helplessness. And then I thought about my parents. I thought about how they must have felt all those things during all the years that I fought to feel happy again. How they must have watched in fear, impatience, sadness, hopelessness, wondering if I would ever bounce back to that hyper, happy girl they once knew -- particularly in the moments when, too depressed to function or too tired to care, I wasn't putting up a fight for myself.


I have felt for quite some time that my role in this life is to write. To be honest about my past struggles, to share how I reached my mental health victories, and to encourage people to talk, talk, talk about their own messy stuff -- because if we remain in silence, we're all set up for failure.

In addition to being a writer, I feel like my other calling in this life is to be a pushy-yet-gentle mental health advocate. I work by day at a mental health center, I am vocal about the fact that I pop two pills every day which basically saved my life, and I show up to therapy even when I don't feel like hashing things out. Because like a workout at the gym, a regular talking through of things keeps me, plain and simple: healthy.

Beyond this, I mainly just make myself an approachable person, and wait for people to approach. I am the friend who is here to listen, who won't be freaked out by crazy thoughts you share with me, and who will offer to go to therapy with you for added support.

Living as this uber-supportive friend was going fine and dandy, until I found myself caring about people who weren't taking my prescribed steps toward mental health. In some cases, I felt the friend was so sensitive or volatile that I was afraid to even speak up and suggest something such as therapy. And boy has this sent me in a tailspin of feeling.

As I looked out at the Rite Aid parking lot, each new emotion piled on top of the last. I choked on some tears and told Alex, "This is almost as hard as being depressed myself."

I am seeing some true colors in myself that I didn't know existed, and I don't like them. The chartreuse crayons have pulled themselves out of the box and I'm looking at them, thinking, "Can these really be me?"

I don't consider myself to be a control freak at all. But I have had my eyes opened, as I've ached for people in my life to go to therapy and consider medication, to what it feels like to want to control someone else's life.

Before, I felt like some benevolent guru, in a flowing linen outfit, hands calmly folded, an open spirit waiting for a broken one to come crumple in my lap, at which point I would stroke the hair of that broken spirit, listen, offer tea, and privately, victoriously, pump my fist in the air once they'd announce to me they were headed to get additional, professional help.

I have been like Oprah, handing out advice and trail maps to her studio audience, not being asked, just sharing my mental wealth with the masses.

"You get a therapy appointment! And you get a therapy appointment!" I yell, full of good selflessness.

"And guess what, Audience? Your insurance is gonna pay for itttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt!"

My friends cheer for me, their linen-clad mental health hero.


Except that instead of enthusiastically accepting my suggestions, people close to me have passed over them, like less-than-attractive garments at a store.

As I have watched people in my life feel worse and worse, every day passing without a call made to a professional helper, I have begun to feel less benevolent and more...nasty.

I have felt annoyance, wondering why these people won't help themselves. I have felt impatience, waiting for them to see the light of what (I think) needs to change in their lives to make them feel better.

I have felt relief, in the moments that they open honestly to me, releasing a frustration or a hurt from inside themselves and choosing to share it with me, letting some air out of their over-inflated tires. And then I have felt desperation, when they have another spell and I worry that each new spell will be worse than the last. In my worst worrisome moments, I wonder if one of the spells will be one that breaks them.

And I have been hurt, to the point of sobbing in my car, wondering when, and if, my friends will ever start acting like themselves again.

I have become self-righteous in my mental wellness, which is one of the strangest and perhaps most sick things I've ever had to admit.

I have been introduced to a Me who feels less compassion than I once did, for people struggling with depression, sadness, anxiety. I brood primarily in selfishness, wondering why THEY don't see why I am right, and do what I -- benevolently, gently -- suggest already.

I hate this Me, and look at her with horror.

When I was in the throes of my own emotional ups and downs, when I was without a map, when I felt like I was making every last healthy decision to no blasted avail, what made me feel THE worst were the moments in which I could feel those around me, those who loved me, being mad at me. I couldn't understand how anyone could be so heartless to see me in such a miserable state, and instead of just picking me up off the floor one more time, they threw up their hands instead. I was the depressed one, and you can't be callous with someone who's depressed. We're too fragile. Too exposed. Too everything.

My extreme emotional instability was unfair enough, and to have the people closest to me react with tough love was the most unfair thing of all. It's what made me hesitate to dial the phone, and I so desperately needed people who I could call.


In high school, I went to a church event with middle schoolers from our congregation, as a chaperone (I know, yikes. Someone once put me in charge).

There was a workshop that weekend about prayer. This very funny guy, who was acting as our emcee for the event, led the workshop, and while he peppered his presentation with jokes, he mellowed as he talked about conversing with God.

The one thing I remember from his talk is this: you can pray with your hands open. They don't have to be clasped, or holding the hand of another (though I love the holding hands while praying thing). You can just rest them on your thighs, Mr. Emcee said, upturned, like shallow dishes you might drop jewelry into.

I am usually a clasper, and when saying the Lord's Prayer with my family or praying with Abby in our living room, I am a hand holder. But every once in a while I drop my hands and leave them open, letting still air touch my palms.

Our emcee is not the only one who sees the value of openness. I read in Isabel Gillies fantastic book, A Year and Six Seconds, that she sometimes lies on the floor on her back. The position guarantees vulnerability, she explains.

Loosen your grip, writes Anne Lamott.

As I let my hands fall open during our congregational prayer this past Sunday, and as I listened to Rustin's sermon, it occurred to me once more that I've been operating with fists lately, and not open hands. I have the treatments that worked so well for me -- therapy, meds -- bubbling around so actively in my brain; I don't seem to have any room left for grace.

I've discovered that I detest watching people I love grapple with pain. I've also discovered that I can be impatient, waiting for their struggle to end, and focused only on the solution that I want to see.

I've learned that I have embodied a behavior that, when once exercised toward me, threatened to crush me, while I was in one of the most delicate states I've ever known.

This has not been an easy fact to recognize.


I suppose there is some good news in all of this.

Even though I've deemed myself a selfish, self-righteous person in reaction to my friends' pain, in the midst of this I have not lost sight of the fact that I am not the ultimate solution to their problems. I still understand that a therapist can help in ways that I can't. That an "unbiased third party" (as my brother so famously once describe a counselor's role to me) can listen and offer advice in a way that doesn't have all my Bailey-ness in the way. I sure hope my friends need me, but I don't want to be the only thing they need.

I recognize that God can help. That faith communities can help. That walks, and water, and pets and funny movies and pizza and singing and being silly can help. That time, blessed time, can do so much, God willing, to turn things around.

Alex and my parents have reminded me that I can't fix people. I can't make them engage in self-help activities if they don't want to, even if I think they're beyond due for some.

In the meantime, there are some things I know I can do. 

I can continue to advocate for mental health services at large. I can keep writing, and talking, and listening. I can always be ready, in my hypothetical linen (it wrinkles, so I don't have a lot of it in my closet).

I can keep taking care of myself, so that I can remain in a place to listen, to love. I can recognize when I'm being less than compassionate, and talk it out with my therapist and others.

And I can keep my hands open. I can pray for all of us, because we all need help.

And since God gave me two hands -- ai'nt that quaint? -- I can use one to pray, openly, and the other can maybe quit clenching and instead get up and help. Instead of using my hand to simply point one to another helper, I can use it to be a helper. Pour a cup of tea, clean up messes, buy a plane ticket to come visit, pick up the bill.

And I can use my free hand to call my friends who need some listening love. Always remembering those moonlit, ombré numbers that once connected me to people who listened and loved me.