Posts Tagged ‘ Amber in Real Life ’

One Horse Town? We Don’t Even Have a Stable

Another weekend too short. Another reluctant goodbye. For 13 months, he’s been miles and miles away from me, our lives too busy and conflicting to successfully blend. April can’t come fast enough. As hard as it is to watch his jeep speed him away from me, I know that the distance is about to close. I finish school in March — In April, Eden and I are pulling up stakes and moving to MC. A new city, a new job, a new place with my two loves. While I’m a little scared to move away from my family and 90% of my friends — I know this move will be for the best.

MC is a pretty big place, with thousands of people, one of the best school districts in the state, and so many opportunities for me and the Girl. But MC is also a fairly small place — large by my standards (my hometown has 900 people in it), but tiny by national standards. It’s safe and friendly like a small country town with the advantages of a city.

I’m excited. This will really mean a new chapter in my life. I’m ready to make the transition from awkward not-quite-teen-not-quite-adult to adult getting a place with her partner, raising her children and working in the field she’s been training in for years. No more research papers, late-night cram sessions and juggling single motherhood with midterms and a long-distance love affair.

I hope “The Real World” is all I’m hyping it up to be.

Love and Hairdye

Okay, I get it–I don’t look like this
Yeah, not at all like that.
I look like this
Yeah, that's more like it.
But my daughter…she looks like this.
Cute. Pretty much Adorable.
Happy. Healthy. Beautiful. Smart. Strong. Well-adjusted. LOVED. I don’t have to be June Cleaver to be a good mother. I might not be perfect, but who is? Sure, sometimes I get frustrated, sometimes I forget to pack just enough things in the diaper bag. I’m only human-I’m not SuperMom. But I do love my child, and I do my absolute best. Everyday Eden is told how much she is loved, how happy I am to be her mama. She’s kissed and cuddled, tucked in to bed with lullabies and her favorite blankie. I teach her all that I know and love her with all that I am. She’s my Miracle baby and I love nothing more than being a mom.
People who pass us in the grocery store can make their judgements. I’ve heard them all. Too young! Single! Why is her hair purple?! Yuck, tattoos! I bet she’s ANGRY! I bet she’s on drugs! I bet she dropped out of high school! Judge all you want, because we know the truth. My daughter has already learned a valuable lesson you’ve apparently missed- Never judge a book by its cover.

Or a mommy by her hair color.
Save your judgement.

Of a Life Lost

2006 wasn’t good to me.
I turned 18 that year and I graduated from high school, but after that it was pretty downhill. I struggled through my senior year, having been diagnosed as bipolar the year before, being subsequently overloaded on meds and frequently hospitalized. The trend continued after graduation and I went away to college. I was only there a week, when the campus psychiatrist said I had to take leave and enter an eating disorder treatment facility. I convinced my parents to keep me out of treatment, but in return I had to leave their house. I was on my own.

Very on my own.

More hospitalizations, more and more meds. Then the headaches started. In january of 2007, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Not cancer, but still horrifying. Two weeks later, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

My world had ended.
I was an 18 year old unemployed college dropout, living on disability, and very sick. I had no family, mine having long abandoned me. I had no friends, having alienated everyone around me. I spent all of february psychotically depressed. Perpetual panic attacks and mocking voices punctuated the time, eventually culminating in my february 27th suicide attempt. Everything I had was lost, including my future.

That night, I turned off my phone and swallowed over 200 pills. Thousands and thousands of milligrams of psychotropics and narcotics. I took handfuls of pills, puked, passed out, repeated. I cut my arms, took more pills. I kept going and going until I couldn’t bring my hand to my mouth any longer, and then I laid down.

Hours passed.

On february 28th, I was found. I was taken to the emergency room, then transported to a larger one. I spent the next few days floating in and out of consciousness, some section of myself continuously pulling me out of the coma.

Something in me wanted to live. Something in me begged my heart to beat, my eyes to open. On march 2nd I woke up. I saw my arm, the cuts held tight with steri strips, bruises from multiple needle pokes, and an IV site, I followed the line up, then noticed an EKG lead, followed it up to the monitor. To the right of the monitor – my father. He sat there and he smiled through tear-soaked eyes.

I knew then that I was loved.

After recovering in the hospital, I returned home and started again. My suicide had been successful, that girl died that night. Three years later, I’m a new person. No meds, in school, a new mother. I don’t regret my actions. Death gave me life, new perspective. Everyday I’m grateful for being given a second chance, and I make the most of every minute. I’m actively involved in my medical care – now knowing I’m neither schizophrenic nor bipolar. My future was not taken away from me – It was given back.

New life, Indeed.

The List of 100 Dreams

At the suggestion of a recent issue of Whole Living magazine, I made my List of 100 Dreams. In doing so, it really helped put things in perspective. Made me see what is REALLY important to me.

1) Master knitting
2) Garden more, grow my own veggies
3) Learn to can said veggies
4) Pay off my credit cards and never get another
5) Learn Italian
6) Give up soda
7) Exercise daily
8 ) Do daily “gratefuls”
9) Go vegetarian
10) Embrace an earlier bedtime
11) Get my BSN
12) Take Eden camping
13) Run a half marathon
14) Read all the books in my library
15) Learn to sew
16) Achieve a healthy body weight
17) Volunteer at an animal shelter
18) Be a foster parent
19) Climb a mountain
20) Ride RAGBRAI
21) Own a small business
22) Open an Etsy shop
23) Tour the mediterranean
24) Get married
25) Have another baby
26) Go to the Smithsonian
27) Be an extra in a movie
28) Write a book
29) Restore an old house
30) Plant a tree
31) Lay in a hammock and drink an umbrella drink
32) Go on a cruise
33) Learn to speak Polish
34) Become an ARNP and work in oncology or hemotology
35) Learn to play the cello
36) Teach Eden to play the piano
37) Coach cheerleading
38) Go to a tattoo convention
39) Take a class in criminal psychology
40) Go to every state in the USA
41) Learn to surf
42) Go blonde
43) Be in a commercial
44) Go to a spa for a weekend
45) Go ghost hunting
46) Stay in a bed and breakfast
47) Plant a sunflower garden
48) Get a henna tattoo
49) Eat Belgian waffles in Belgium
50) Restore a classic car
51) Read Proust
52) Go backpacking
53) Make homemade candles
54) Try sushi
55) See Niagara Falls
56) Go skiing in Sweden
57) Learn to tattoo
58) Go to all the zoos in the midwest
59) Work at St. Jude’s
60) Start an advocacy group for suicide prevention and self-injury awareness
61) Take the exam to join mensa
62) Learn to decorate cakes
63) Tour castles in Ireland
64) Ride a horse on a mountain trail
65) Get a mohawk
66) Climb a tree
67) See Dracula’s castle
68) Illustrate a graphic novel
69) Campaign for a politician
70) Learn to crochet
71) Go snowboarding
72) Go to an IMAX movie
73) Be a contestant on a game show
74) Kiss a celebrity
75) Go rock climbing
76) Donate a gallon of blood
77) Do a voice-over for a cartoon
78) Write a song
79) Break a world record
80) Make and bury a time capsule
81) Do yoga in front of a waterfall
82) Help my parents open an orchard
83) Be in a musical
84) Be a girl scout troop leader
85) Learn to skateboard
86) Rescue a shelter animal
87) Go to Disneyland
88) Go bungee jumping
89) Speak at a conference
90) Be in an art exhibit
91) Be tattooed by Kat Von D
92) Go white water rafting
93) Invent something
94) Make a quilt
95) Visit the Crayola factory
96) Home brew
97) Inspire someone
98) Learn sign language
99) Walk my daughter down the aisle
100) Be happy

Wander

Every so often something happens. The wind changes, the earth shifts, and I get restless. The kind of restlessness that has formed my reputation as being a gypsy. I have a need to pick up and move…change everything. Change towns, change jobs, change majors, change something, anything. Nothing can stay the same for too long or I’ll stagnate.

It’s hard for me to explain, and harder for me to predict. I never know when it’s about to happen, but when it does, it’s overwhelming. Like my head can’t sit still, and there’s this feeling in my chest like I can’t breathe all the way in or out. I start feeling constrained, start questioning everything. I feel that I need to pack me and Eden up and move far away. Change it all. The only thing stopping me is money. I don’t have the finances to transplant us, and while pre-baby me wouldn’t have gave a crap, current me wants to make sure my girl has all the stuff she need while she and her mommy play vagabond.

Sometimes the wind changes, the earth shifts.

Right now, the earth’s shifted and I need a change. Hopefully a box of hair color will fix it, or we’ll be renting a u haul.

Waiting

The prospect of having cervical cancer wears on me — like I’m losing something before I ever got it. The idea that I’m diseased and the only way to cure me is to freeze my cervix off or remove my uterus is frightening and immobilizing and my upcoming appointment has been a source of fear for the last six months.

Six months ago, my colposcopy showed precancerous changes of my cervix and now I’m going back to get it rechecked. Has anything changed in the last 180 odd days? Is it worse? Could it be better? What if it is worse and I need surgery…chemo? Will I ever have another child? Will Eden ever be a big sister or will my uterus have to close up shop?

It’s depressing. I’m afraid. I’m 22 years old and I could be facing infertility, menopause. Why? What have I done? I understand the prevalence of HPV and the symptomlessness of most strains, but I don’t understand why it had to happen to…me. Little Amber with her eating disorder, her brain tumor and her biliary disease — let’s give her some cancer too. We’ll just add another specialist to her phone book, no problem.

And my miracle baby…who’s very existence was a medical improbability. A major symptom of my brain tumor is decreased estrogen levels and infertility. My little angel Eden, who seemingly knew that I would lose my fertility at 22 and decided to come early. What does this mean for her? How do you explain it to a 2 year old, why her mom is so sick? I know I should wait until I know what’s going on, but I’m a planner…I must plan. I must have a game plan for when I find out I have cancer, so that I may be pleasantly surprised for when I find out I don’t. I try to stay positive, but it’s hard sometimes. But who knows…right? Eden could be a big sister after all.

Unspoken

Body image is hard for me. I look in the mirror and I hate what I see, I hate the bloated, distorted version of myself I see cackling back at me. She’s practically mocking me. Not practically…she IS mocking me. She tempts me back to bulimia, hoping my shear disgust will translate into 500 sit-ups or a 6 day fast. Maybe a binge, maybe some laxatives. She hates me.
And I hate her.

In defiance, I’ve hung at least one picture of my daughter in every room of our home. Seeing her reminds me of the purpose of my fight. Seeing her smile makes me do everything I can to keep that grin in place. My eating disorder will only steal her smiles and I know this.

I can’t kill Eden’s mommy. I cannot. Eden would much rather have a slightly overweight, but happy mother than a thin, frail, depressed one. I know this, but my reflection still yells at me and I still struggle to ignore her pleas. Some days are worse than others, but no day is without it. Maybe, someday it’ll happen– my mind will leave me alone. Maybe.
Hopefully.

Until then, I’ll continue the fight, and keep my face from showing it. My 2 year old has no business seeing my pain, lest she become embattled with her reflection as well.

Written long ago, but still painfully relevant

I wrote this poem nearly 3 years ago, but I’ve been thinking of it lately. I still don’t have my candles.

Autoclave

Fighting for fire, I’m lost in the headphone exile of abandoned communication.
(AIM vocal cords.)
The world has gone digital and I’m stuck on analog.
Lost in translation?
I’m lost in binary and flash drives and I doubt that I’ll find a dictionary or a map or a UN interpreter before the next update comes!
Frantic (and probably delirious) I threw up an SOS in a chat room or two but all who responded were equally scared (and running on XP.)
Even worse yet was my idea to ask facebook.
Pretentious college students have no time for this!
Myspace…! Myspace…! Call out to the whores!
A haven for high schoolers but what about me?
(No room at the Inn for those with no widget.)

Lost and still scared, I look over to you.
(My wings in an html sky.)
You notice my glance and suddenly (PING) you’re on my screen.
“i ❤ u"
(Is this some kind of compromise?)
Your screen is cluttered with mythical warriors and winged creatures, your key commands control all.
(What controls you?)
I'm reminded of flourescent lights and sanitized surfaces, a daily dose of sterility.
I'm reminded of pill-a-day happiness
and a technicolor demigod.
Have we all forgotten candles?
We all used to love them.
(I still do. I still long for them.)

Year-round it's ice-cold and bright. The white walls are blinding.
But a text message tells me you heart me.
(Maybe there's hope after all…)
Can't take this autoclave universe much longer, I long for candles, I long for wax.
I want to hear your voice.
I want to see the flame.

Cast Of Characters

Considering that this blog is BRAND-SPANKING-NEW, I figured I’d let you in on the cast.

UmbahME. My name is Amber. I think I’m cool, but I’m actually not. I like to make stupid faces and have trouble looking at a camera straight-on. I photograph “Aggressive”, but as you will soon know, I’m actually “obnoxiously bubbly”.
EdersEDEN. EdenMonster is my amazing daughter. She’s turning 2 on July 30th and that’s the craziest thing ever. She’s gifted intellectually and, obviously, strikingly beautiful.

JeffJeffJEFF. Usually referred to as “Jeffers”, this is my boyfriend. He’s not Eden’s biological father, but he’s been around for most of her life, so he might as well be. He doesn’t let me take pictures of him, so I had to dig a cute one out of the annals of his facebook.

jurumJEROME. This is Eden’s biological dad. His involvement in her life is…flakey at best. But he deserves an entry. You’ll be hearing of him.

So that’s us. We love you already.

autobiographical diarrhea

* My name is Amber
* My birthday is March 31st…write it on your calendar. I’d love a pony.
* I have a toddler. Her name is Eden and she’s cooler than you.
* I’m very tired.
* My caffeine addiction has reached absurd levels.
* I have a team of doctors working ’round the clock to cure me.
* I’m in a committed, but long-distance relationship with a fledgling rock star.
* This is his band.
* I live in Iowa.
* I am recovering from restricting type Bulimia Nervosa
* Every day is a challenge, but I make it through
* Along with my eating disorder, I fight self-injury. It’s been almost three years since my last injury.
* I’m SO proud of my success.
* My daughter inspires me everyday.
* I’m lactose intolerant.
* I love mountain biking.
* And pilates.
* I dye my hair all the time, but it’s naturally strawberry blonde.
* I love to make crafty things.
* And to bake.
* Because I’m Martha Stewart in combat boots.
* I have apiphobia.
* Fuck bees.
* I love to paint.
* So does EdenMonster.
* I’m a big nerd.
* Once, I had a crush on a chiropractor.
* I drive a silver car, because I’m cool.