Thursday, January 26, 2012


"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Berthold Auerbach

i began playing the piano so long ago i don't remember much about it, other than the fact that my dad tried to teach me at first and i had to sit on a phone book so i could reach the keyboard.  i think i was four or five.  my dad worked and didn't have much time to teach me (and i had a hard time listening to him), so i began taking from a woman in our neighborhood...then a more professional teacher...then so on until the age of 16 when i stopped taking lessons.

once i was competent enough to sight read most of what i wanted to play, or pick through more difficult songs, i really fell in love with the piano.  it became a sanctuary, a haven for me when life was tumultuous.  it was one of few things that i could lose myself in and forget life for just a few moments.  i can actually remember a few times i got up in the middle of the night to play, using the quiet pedal and tapping the keys as softly as i could so i didn't disturb anyone.  as far as i know no one in my family was aware....which is no mean feat considering my parents' bedroom was not far and i have four siblings.

when i moved out, i went to live with my aunt for a summer.  she did not have a piano.  i missed it.  i went to college, lived in the dorms.  there were a few pianos made available for students studying music and anyone who wanted to play.  they were almost always occupied.  and it was in a tiny little sound-proofed room....acoustics were horrible.  i didn't play often for several years.

shortly after i married, hubby and i purchased a used piano.  it was previously a lab piano at a university and had been well-used.  it had a good sound, though, and was fairly inexpensive.  a small studio upright.  perfect for our small house.  it was a piano, and i was thrilled.  hubby got out his guitar.  we purchased sheet music to our song, and he played the chords on his guitar and i played the piano.  i played tons at first...then less often, as life got busy.  especially when the babies came.  (it's hard to play the piano with a baby....i even attempted strapping little buddy in the carrier to my chest to play.  i still play with a child on my lap, vying for the keys as they pound in front of me.  those songs don't sound very pretty, i promise.)

in february of 2010, i started teaching piano lessons.  i loved it.  i loved watching my students learn, and the ones who practiced and began to love it.  it was hard on my family though.  living in an apartment, having to stay shut in a single room so they wouldn't disturb the lessons.  and having students who didn't show.  it was difficult.  eventually i had to stop teaching.  i was working, plus taking care of my family, and i couldn't teach piano as well.  the money was very little and not steady because of students being inconsistent.  i played a little more while i taught.

lately i've been drawn to the piano more than usual.  maybe it's because i'm feeling better.  i'm finding even more joy in something that has always been a good thing for me.  a few months ago i purchased two new piano books--library of piano classics and piano classics 2.  two of the best purchases i have ever made.  it is exciting to go through the pages and find new songs to play, and some i learned long ago.  several are far beyond my skills as an amateur pianist, but there are a good number within my grasp.  i discovered a beautiful and haunting nocturne by chopin, one i hadn't heard before.  i am learning to play it.  accuracy is coming along although i need to work on the tempo.

for a music class two semesters ago, i had to write a paper on a composer and dissect several of his or her compositions.  i chose to study camille saint-saens, a french composer in the early 1900s.  i knew very little of him, but loved his romantic melodies.  i was excited to find his piece "the swan" in the books, and have been working on it as well.

and..."clair de lune," one of my favorites, and difficult for me.  it is one that will take hours of practice to learn.  very hard to do when i only get twenty minutes here and there to play.

then, another i've loved to play lately, the waltz "the beautiful blue danube."  this is a fun one, and relatively easy for me to play.

i'd also love to learn to play this nocturne, another by chopin. 

i am drawn to these nocturnes....they express my feeling so well, so much better than i can in words or gestures.  in some ways, even better than art.  art can sometimes be frustrating...the finished result rarely ends up what is envisioned in my head.  music, however, has already been written for me.  it is left to me to learn and practice the mechanics of it in order to produce the desired result, but not the creation of it.  both art and music serve their purposes well for me and my ability to express myself.

i hope you will take the time to listen to these pieces.  classical music, especially piano music, has a very calming effect on me, and brings such joy to me.  i hope that these songs will do the same for you.

i believe everyone has a means of expression.  using the work of others, like with music: singing, playing an instrument, or even listening to a song that speaks to you. writing, or reading, or acting, or creating visual arts, or sewing, or whatever it is.  an escape...or a way to speak.

how do you express yourself?  why does that particular method work for you?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

funny stuff my kid says

so, little buddy is just a month shy of his fourth birthday.
(i know, it's insane.  don't remind me how old i am.)

and being an adorable three-on-the-brink-of-four-year-old, he says some pretty funny stuff.

today, he looks at hubby and says, "do you really want to hurt me?  do you really want to make me cry?"

it's winter.  it's cold.  the other day we were getting in the car and he looks at me and says, "mommy, it's so cold my butt is gonna get freezed off!"  yes, yes it just might.  (it was that cold.)

he got a really cool Buzz Lightyear for christmas from my parents, and he loves to play with it.  however...he does not say "to infinity and beyond!" the way buzz does.  instead, he says, "to infinity, let me on!"  when hubby tried to correct him, he argued and told hubby that he was wrong.  "no, daddy, buzz says 'to infinity, let me on!' not 'to infinity and beyond.'  silly daddy."

and speaking of mistaken movie quotes, he also believes that gru from "despicable me" does not say "lightbulb" in the daydream sequences...he says "lightbomb."  he also thinks it's pretty hilarious to tell me that i drive like gru in the scene where gru parallel parks and bashes into the other cars.  (uh, no, but thanks.)

i can't think of anymore right now but trust me, that kid cracks me up.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

i'm a survivor

i've been thinking a lot lately.

(i know...i can almost hear the "oh, great"s and eye rolling that must be going on.  at least from hubby, who teases me about the phrase because it almost always involves me asking for money or changing plans or something to that effect.)

the truth is...i've been thinking about myself, about who i am, who i've become, and what i've been through.  where i am now.

i miss my blog.  but i'm having a hard time coming up with things to write about, or time to write it in.  take now, for instance.  what do i write about?  while my children are pretty much amazing and my husband definitely has the hottest rear end in the world, i'm sure the rest of you don't want to hear about just that.  and due to neglect, i don't even know how many readers i have left.  (so if you're reading this, thanks.)

there have been a lot of changes in my life, especially within the last six months.  many of which i'm not at liberty to discuss, whether out of respect for others they concern or a desire for privacy.  it's kind of been a hard six months in a lot of ways, but also good in that i feel like i'm climbing out of the hole.

i saw a new doctor, which is good.  i hadn't seen a med doctor for far too long because our insurance changed and i didn't want to look for one.  (i HATE seeing new doctors...rehashing the history...trying to get comfortable and trust them...especially in situations like mine, where there is a ton of very uncomfortable history to deal with.)  my therapist recommended one, however, and so i finally called and made an appointment.  it was long overdue.  the doctor i'd seen previously told me that i wasn't bipolar, i just had a hormone imbalance.  she put me on progesterone and a bunch of supplements and told me everything would be better.  things did get better for awhile, but not by a whole lot.  then (stupid me) i stopped taking the progesterone.  bad idea.  i went back on it....did a little better....still had issues.  big, angry, sobbing, mood-swinging issues.  suffice it to say, my family wanted to throw me out the window.

new doctor tried very hard not to roll his eyes and very tactfully told me while he didn't have all of the information my previous doctor had, he found it very difficult to believe that i had a progesterone deficiency.  (i pretty much got the feeling he thought she was an idiot.)  he then proceeded to tell me that from everything he had heard it was very likely i'd been dealing with bipolar disorder since the age of approximately 13, if not sooner.  combine that with the PTSD and typical teenage angst, it's no wonder i had so many issues.

so....double the dose of my mood-stabilizer (lamictal) and add in an SNRI (effexor), life is sunshine and roses again.  i'm happier and have more energy than i've had in who knows how long (if ever).  hubby even told me to tell my doctor at my follow-up that he doesn't want to strangle me anymore.  (this news was met with relief....both on my part and that of my doctor, who wasn't quite sure how to handle it, heehee.)

only problem...side effects.  stupid, horrible, nasty, hateful side effects.  headaches.  dizzyness.  more headaches.  fatigue.  (more energy and fatigue...go figure.  but it's happening.)  yawning.  (i know, weird, right?)  and headaches.  since i already suffer from debilitating migraines, the daily headaches are not well-received.  i am hoping that they will start getting better soon.  apparently one in ten patients on these meds experience headaches.  yuck.

so where was i going with this?  oh  life changes.  all that.  back to the blog.

i got an email several months ago from a doctoral student at purdue (personal blog here), who is doing her dissertation (professional portfolio here) on trauma and blogging.  my blog was one of several she's chosen to use in her studies.  i'm really excited about this.  it made me really analyze my blog and the purpose it has served.

first, as an outlet to me.  a really important one.  when trauma made it physically impossible to speak...i literally could not get words fingers would still function on a keyboard.

when i needed someone to listen, i had a whole network of fellow survivors, family, and friends.  people who were there for me, who really understood what i was saying, because they've lived it, too.

i also have a place that encompasses me.  maybe someday, in thirty or forty or fifty years, this blog will still be out there for people to read, maybe even my children. 

my story has provided hope for others.  this is so humbling to me.  i decided a long time ago that if i had to live through hell, i might as well make it worth something.  so i took my personal hell and put it out there for the whole world to see, hoping that someone else out there would read it and feel not so alone.  since i started this blog in 2008, i have received so many comments and emails from people telling me thank you, that they have hope for themselves because of my healing, that they don't feel so isolated.  isolation is a terrifying place to if i can offer one person a feeling of connection, then that is pretty amazing to me.

it's been a kind of documentation of my healing.  the ups and downs.  the moments of blackest despair, when i wasn't even sure life was worth living, when i was convinced i would never be happy again.  the days where i was content, the nights of anxiety and fear, the help i got in therapy.  the participation in blog carnivals and groups, research on child abuse, the ability to think and feel.  and, ultimately, the regaining of my strength and power, the taking back of myself from my abuser.

so here i am.  i don't believe my journey of healing will ever really end, but having put most of the abuse behind me, i have myself to deal with.  my lack of self-esteem, the bipolar disorder and the impulsiveness and mood-swings that come with it.  medication, therapy, doctors....a lot more future to deal with, even though i've got twenty-six years of past behind me.

four years ago i never, in a million years, could have predicted i'd be right here, sitting at my kitchen table, having lived through everything i have.  three years i ago i never would have seen the happiness i've found in the past few weeks.  two years ago i would have had a panic attack just thinking about approaching my abuser.  one year ago i was really dealing with the abuse....

....and now here i am.  imperfect.  flawed.  but optimistic.  cautiously happy.  hopeful.  still struggling with wrapping my head around this bipolar thing, but i've accepted it.  i don't like it, but i accept it.  i'm still kind of embarrassed by it, even though it's not my fault, but that's a discussion for another day.

my name is cornnut.  i'm twenty-six years old, i'm a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger, an artist, a student, a pianist, and a survivor.  because i truly have survived.

(now you can go sing that destiny's child song, because i know you're all hearing it in your heads.)

(and if you made it this far into this horrendously long and rather disjointed blog post, thanks.)