Just recently I read Jenny Lawson's book "Furiously Happy" on a recommendation from my best friend Carolyn. She said I would love it because it is unbelievably funny... she also mentioned that it's a book around Jenny's own mental illness. I wasn't sure how that was funny but knowing that Carolyn and I share the same warped sense of humor I trusted her.
I would read the book on the train home and I would laugh so hard that other people on the train would look at me like I was a lunatic... it's not a stretch to be honest. As I continued to read I started to identify with Jenny a bit more than I care to admit. Carolyn never told me at the time that this book was something that reminded her of me; we have a lot of similarities. Like Jenny, when I see a random garbage bag on the side of the road I assume a dead body is in it, I once fell so in love with a taxidermy bear that I begged my mom's boyfriend to let me have him if his shop ever closed down and would sit in his store window for hours talking to it, I have suffered from anxiety off and on for many years and still at times feel like I am a fraud and that one day someone will discover that I'm not who I am.
Having said all of that more often than not I am grateful, grateful to be here in this chair, listening to quiet music in the comfort of my home, alone. Quiet and alone. Before I read Furiously Happy I thought I was alone, many of my friends say I am "quirky" or a bit "eccentric" but my son quite openly tells me I am crazy. Quite frankly I know that some of what I do is crazy, but I just think I'm funny.
Example; every morning when I drive to the train I see the same man walking his dog. That dog is named Socks. Okay, I have no clue what his name is but he is a white hound dog with brown legs to just above his knee... he wears knee socks (in my head)... I named him Socks. The other day I was driving home from work when I spotted Socks and his owner. I usually only see them on my morning route so it took me by surprise that they were out after work! I slowed my car to a crawl, like a psycho; I peered out my window and screamed "SOCKSSSS!!!!" in the greatest, joyous yell possible. It was like seeing my dearest loved one that I missed so much. As I yelled, the man looked at me and saw me being all crazy and yelly with my mouth wide open... he looked a bit terrified as you can imagine. I was 3 seconds away from pulling my car over and going to introduce myself to him. I wanted to let him know that his dog's spirit name is Socks and that he should stop calling the dog Charlie or Rufus or Elsa and make an effort to use his proper name of Socks. All of this took place in my head in about a 30-second span... then I laughed and laughed and shared it with just two of my dearest friends who confirmed that I should be locked up.
Anyway, I digress... this is supposed to be a story about my dear friend Carolyn and her lifesaving techniques.
I met Carolyn about six years ago at work. She tried bloody hard to be my friend and I tried 100 times harder to push her away. Any time I would feel uncomfortable I would shut the friendship down, the wall would go up and Renate would vanish. Carolyn would always work to repair the friendship, she really liked me and she wouldn't let me go. She made me talk about stuff. I hated her for it and still get anxious when there is too much emotion. In those first few years I would push her and push her and she just kept loving me. She would tell me how worthy I was, how much people loved me, how funny, smart and valuable I was (albeit a bit crazy) again and again.
The support she gave and still gives me is what most Moms give to their children. It's weird to say that about your friend but it's a true story. She is tolerant and forgiving and loves to save crazy broken people; she loves the crazy which means that she is likely crazy too. Carolyn taught me how to "pump the brakes" when the waves of anger and emotion would rise up my spine into a heated vortex in my head literally making me dizzy. She taught me how to back away from it and change my thoughts. It was like a parent repeating a discipline until you stop repeating the bad behavior; behavior modification at its best.
When I would collapse and feel useless she showed me my worth, when I reacted poorly and cruelly she would make me face it. Carolyn has saved me from myself so many times that she deserves a medal of honor; she has seen temper tantrums, anxiety, impatience and fury and loved me through it all.
The most beautiful part of all of this is today I am a person that I love. I don't wake up feeling useless, I don't wake up wishing I wasn't awake and I don't feel fury or anxiety that I used to feel. I can pump the brakes and I can rationalize my emotions. Am I cured of all of my stuff? Hell no, but I have learned that I am pretty awesome, I am valuable and if someone like Carolyn loves me then yes I am a success.
Moral of the story is: It's okay to be a little or a lot crazy as long as you have people that will dive deep with you and wait on the surface if it takes you a little longer to emerge.