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Copyright 2009-2010 by
Mary Brotherton
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Inside my Brain

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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

It's my birthday and I'll Beach if I want to
Until I moved to Atlanta, every January, I gave myself my favorite birthday gift. I took the 29th off from work and I drove an hour from my little rural hometown to my favorite beach. Within an hour, I could have been at any of 5 public beaches, and probably just as many exclusively private shores to the Atlantic Ocean. Edisto Beach was all I ever knew. The waters are murky brown and the sand is just sand. Edisto is the Atlantic's largest depository for seashells, so it is a beachcomber's haven. I first started visiting Edisto during the winter when my depression was its worst. A friend suggested that I should call work and tell them that I was sick, for indeed I was. Nobody should ever have to try to explain the unexplainable tears that come from simply being too tired and stressed out with life, to know whether she was breathing in or breathing out. But, that is precisely how I felt that day, and I wisely took my friend's advice; then I took my first solo drive to "My Ocean Shore". Whatever my favorite music was at that time was blasting in my ears as I drove as fast as the law allowed on a two lane state supported road, then my heart rate slowed as I turned onto a county road that was framed by glorious oak trees that formed a dappled canopy of leaves, moss, and shade. When the trees ended, the marsh began, and the smell that greeted me told me that I was only minutes from my beloved Atlantic. That year, I made half a dozen such trips to the beach, and in subsequent years, the number of trips were in direct correlation to the number of exasperating days I'd had. After a while, I was healthy enough mentally that an annual trip could sustain me, yet I wanted more. I longed to live nearer the ocean, and on my farewell trip before moving inland, I composed a poem that yearns for publication which describes just why the ocean is so important to me.

For three years, I lived in a magnificent city and enjoyed my life there, but life has transported me further south, and further east. I've spent the past month relocating, despite the holidays and bowling leagues. Jerry Garcia, or perhaps one of his bandmembers wrote "What a long, strange trip it's been". Mine has not been a long trip, but it has been lengthened by my compulsive desire to have an organized home. Mine has not been a strange trip, but it has been one that most otherwise sensible adults wouldn't dare make: no incomes, no promises, no leads, but skills, imagination, and hope! Mine has not been a trip, it has been one of many enviable adventures. I felt a thrill of excitement to be living in my first "real" house that meant anything to me. The excitement of living in a city larger than my hometown, yet much smaller than the enormous capitol city of Georgia was exhilarating. I knew that since I was unemployed, I would have ample time to move into the new house and set up housekeeping. I didn't count on all the little inconveniences that accompany renting: the broken toilet seat, the dirty kitchen cabinets, the odd sized AC filter that screamed to be refreshed, the ceiling fans that could not be turned on until they were dusted, or the dozens of other little things that had to be attended before we could start unpacking, yet had to wait for the inspection. I found it exasperating, but I was up for the challenge, and when we had our first informal dinner party, was pleased to hear that I'd garnered "85% of the credit for making the house look as good as it does, because she did most of the work". I was complimented on how I'd feathered our nest.

So, Dr. Freud? Can you tell me why I was feeling overwhelmed with a plethora of negativity and self-loathing? Two weeks ago, the lack of enthusiasm and pessimism that I thought I'd abandoned forever returned. Oddly enough, these feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger and vulneribility attacked about the same time that my part time job began. Perhaps I felt that I would not be able to continue my obsessive and compulsive organizational quest. It had been so long since I'd felt these emotions, that it was as if I was feeling them for the first time in my life, yet, they had been my constant companions years ago. I had made a pact with myself when we moved into this house. As soon as the house was "perfect" I was going to take my first walk on the beach in celebration. To me, perfect meant only that all of the boxes had been unpacked or those that were not going to be unpacked would have been stored, and our guest room would either have a bed in it, or a space for a bed. I did not think I was asing too much, but his business plans and contract work have kept him from helping me complete this one last task. I felt impotent. I could not perform the necessary function and that failure was preventing me from going to the beach!

For two weeks, I have moped and pouted, cried, and shouted - still the room filled with reorganized and relabeled boxes is stagnant. My ideal was being thwarted, and I was being denied. I was a victim and it was all his fault! I was being subjected to his whims and I was the martyr. Two nights ago, I remembered that I do not like being the martyr, and for crying out loud, my birthday was approaching. My birthdays have always been special to me, and I gone to great lengths to not be upset on my birthdays. I made up my mind that I would choose to be happy and that I would shake the awful negativity that had beset me. Of course, the negativity tried to swamp over me and tell me that there was no way I could simply be happy because I wanted to, but I do tend to be an optimist. That night, I had a dream, and today, I realize what my dream was telling me. My dream was simple. Brad Pitt killed a desert monkey. No more, no less. Brad Pitt killed a desert monkey. I realize, now that Brad Pitt is my dream's representation of the hero that is within me. The significance of the desert is that my emotions have all been dry, hot, painful, agonizing, arid, and just unpleasant. The monkey represented the heavy burdon on my heart of feeling not like myself, not being happy. Brad Pitt, aka my own heroine within had to kill the monkey from the desert of my negative emotions, otherwise, if I only took the monkey off my back, it would return to jump on me again. It had to be quick, it had to be simple. No more, no less.

This realization hit me today as I walked on MY new beach! The weather was perfect for a short stroll on the beach today, when I left work. The great thing is that the beach is only seven miles from my front door! I know that I can visit it much more often if I need to or want to, and I suspect I will certainly want to. I find that I can connect to the Universe when I go to the beach. No telephones, nobody but me walking on the sand, hearing the water crashing on the shore, birds scurrying overhead searching for tidbits or morsels of food. I don't even bother to think when I am on the beach, I just AM, and I like that. I feel good now. I'm happy once more - boxes or beds in the guest room, it doesn't matter. Brad Pitt killed my Monkey!