Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Crackape!

Flag at My Dad's House
Flag at My Dad’s House

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a strongly patriotic post.  I love this picture because of the way the light shines on the flag and the trees in the background are shadowed a bit.  This flag is in the front yard of my dad’s house.  My stepmom put it there as a way to honor my stepbrother, who has been for the last couple of years on active military duty.  The flag to me represents freedom.

Looking back on my childhood, I’m surprised by how much freedom we had!  Don’t get me wrong, my parents were by no means negligent.  They were great and managed to keep our lives completely normal despite the divorce.  I think that we were such good kids that my parents really trusted us.  I have so many fond memories of the things my siblings and I did as kids.

I remember one time when my sister, cousin, and I decided to make a soap opera, with Barbies.  We called it, “One Barbie Life to Live.”  As I recall, there were some racy scenes 😉 We were insane about Barbies.  My sister played with them until she was nearly in high school.  We still laugh about that.  I would love to see that video now, but I’m sure it’s long gone.

Once with the same cousin, we went to a “creek,” which was really a drainage ditch and decided to swim at the deepest part.  Looking back now, I can’t believe how disgusting that is.  I remember seeing snakes 😦  Now, I am too uptight and fearful of dirty water that I would NEVER do that.  It’s funny how fearless I was as a kid.  I don’t think my parents ever knew about this.  If they did, I would have liked to see their reaction.

Perhaps the greatest memories I have from childhood are the times when I was an aspiring moving producer and director.  My brother, stepsister, and I created a series known as the “Crackape Chronicles.”  We were incredibly imaginative and we used what resources and limited technology we had.  The title screens were made by me.  I used the paint program on our computer and filmed it 🙂  The crackape, played by my stepsister, is a sasquatch-like creature that roams the countryside of southern Indiana.  I think we got the name by mixing two creatures, the kracken and the skunk-ape.  Naturally, my stepsister was chosen to play the crackape because she was and always has been large for a girl.  She fit perfectly into the black sweatshirt and sweatpants and the black ski-mask with ears made her look like a man-like creature.  Really funny stuff 🙂  I think there are seven “films” in the series total.  The fact that we lived on a massive farm and our entire neighborhood was owned by our family, meant that we had a great range of filming locations.  I know this is all random, but it’s a great example of how much freedom I had as a kid.  I feel sorry for children who don’t have that.

This is a woods behind my dad's house where much of the filming took place ;)
This is a woods behind my dad’s house where much of the filming took place 😉

When I was a kid, the internet was just beginning to take off.  My dad got a computer and the big thing was Yahoo messenger. My friend Tiffany and I talked on it all the time.  I remember waiting anxiously for that dial-up tone to finally end and the smily face light up on my computer, letting me know that the internet finally connected and we could chat.  We spent the night at each other’s houses quite often.  Once, when I went to her house, we started chatting with this guy from Chicago named Jimmy Lee.  We told him we were 18, but he must have either been a total idiot or was just pretending that we were 18 because there’s no way that two 13 year-old girls, who were probably giggling the entire time, sounded like 18 year-olds.  Well, long story short, we talked with Jimmy Lee for weeks.  Tiffany even printed off his picture and brought it to school.  He wasn’t a bad looking guy really, but obviously he was a creep.  He told us he was married.  As if that wasn’t creepy enough, he turned on his webcam!  Locking the door of his office, yes he did this at work, he pulled his pants down and I’m pretty sure that was the first time either of us saw a you-know-what.  To this day, we still laugh about Jimmy Lee.  Perhaps this is an instance where childhood freedom went a little far 😉

These memories are all random, but they remind me of how carefree I was as a child.  I wish I could get that same courage back and live my life without worry.  I was a totally different person back then.  What happened to me?  When did all of this fear of contamination begin?  Sometimes I feel like a prisoner in my own body. That freedom I had as a kid is gone, even though I have more of it now than I ever did.  Believe it or not kids, when you become adults you can eat dessert before dinner!

Psychologically, I am not free.  I am constantly looking for ways to better myself and this is the thing that I am working on most.  I doubt I will ever be OCD free, but I am working on it.

I am writing this post to hear your thoughts.  What ways do you all use to escape your worries?  How do you find that little bit of freedom from the stresses and struggles of life?  I love it when I get suggestions because sometimes others give me ideas that I would never think of by myself.

I look forward to hearing from you.




43 thoughts on “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Crackape!

  1. This is the first post I’m reading this Saturday morning and it’s SO good with coffee 😉 I felt like I was there with you roaming your little country fields. I used to play barbie until I was almost in hs too! Actually, I still love them. lol You sound so much like my niece (minus the OCD)…. I’ve watched as she and my daughter (who’s the same age) made movies and put on plays. They’re 20 now and probably would still put on plays if anyone would watch! lol

    So when did you start getting afraid of dirty water? I’m afraid of dirt but have always been terrified of dirt. I’ve conquered my fears now because there’s no way of getting around it. I mean I still don’t LIKE it and it kind of makes me nauseous BUT I put it out of my mind. I just thought it was interesting that when you were younger, you weren’t afraid of dirty water. I wonder what changed? I think it’s SO cool that you had a little “creek” – drainage ditch to play in! Ahhhh…. the freedom’s of youth!

  2. I was much the same as you, carefree, nothing could bother me…but as I got older, I changed as well, and being a single mother with a handicap, it makes life even more complex for me…I feel so much the same hings you do, it’s amazing! The flipside to my “carefree” days, though, is that I was sheltered, always the “little one”…the “special one”.

    My freedoms were experienced through my writings and poetry, which never sprouted until I reached highschool (I’m nearly 35 now, lol).

    I recall days where my father took me for rides on his Harley DESPITE my handicaps, and now, I can almost barely stand the sound of them.

    Things change us, a great deal.

    1. That’s so true, isn’t it? I don’t necessarily miss my childhood, but I definitely miss the courage I had. Children are blissfully ignorant. As an adult who has lived through quite a bit of life experiences, I understand that saying now and hope that all children can have such a freeing childhood like I did. Writing is indeed an outlet and I hope that others can benefit from mine as well as me from theirs. 🙂


  3. Ah, Yahoo! Messenger! I so remember the joys of instant messaging when it first came out!
    I wish I were better help with suggestions on escaping worry. I find those little portals to freedom are difficult for me to locate these days. One thing I’ve been trying to focus on is to consider when I’m going to do something, whether or not I actually want to do that thing just then. I know that sounds weird.
    This morning might be a good example. I often start feeling anxious around this time on Saturday. So I started looking for some therapy, and I thought about doing some writing, because that usually helps me with anxiety, but when I thought about doing it today, I got more anxious. So I slowed for a moment and thought about what I actually wanted or needed to do. I decided to start reading a book that I’d downloaded months ago and almost forgot about. Now I’m 4 chapters in, and it is gripping! Now I’m commenting on your blog, and I still feel pretty good.
    Ok, now that I’ve confused you, I shall say, “Good day, dear.”

  4. First off, I love that picture! Reminds me of my home as a child. We too lived on a farm and had a freedom that kids these days could probably not even comprehend. Regarding how to escape from stress and worry – After we moved to the city, I would frequently go on long drives (when I was old enough) to ‘escape’ my worries. But, all my worries were still at home just waiting on my return. But, since then one thing I have noticed is that when I involve myself in other people’s lives, my worries seem to drastically lessen. Not to mean I become a busybody, just seeking out people’s issues. But, all around me people are hurting from small issues to large ones. When I take my focus off of myself and place it on trying to help or simply be there for someone else, I tend to forget about my own problems. Then when I finally take the time to go “look” for my problem it’s already been taken care of. Worries in life usually work themselves out over time. I think it’s mainly us just being impatient that causes them to intensify in our minds. Hope that helps, even a little.

  5. I enjoyed this posting very much and am so proud of you, only wish that I knew your family while growing up, I would have loved to be over to enjoy you and your sisters plays. Who knows I may even have played with you BARBIES? OK maybe not the Dolls.

    1. 😀 We did have some good times as children. It’s very likely that you would have played Barbies with us. We must have been very convincing because I know that my little brother played with us on at least a couple of occasions! I always appreciate when you stop by 🙂

  6. Hi Megan, those are lovely stories, your childhood sounds magical. I wish that I could help but my problem is that I actually escape too much to not deal with my issues. Ever since writing a post about it and deciding to change, I’ve been trying to not escape and stay fully present. Right now it’s still a struggle but I’ve heard that practicing mindfulness is actually a good combatant for anxiety. I’ll keep trying and let you know how it goes. Take care Megan.

  7. I know that OCD and PTSD are not the same. I have to have everything in a certain order and have trouble leaving the house. I so agree that life was more carefree as a kid. I know I could have whatever adventure I wanted in my own head! For me, sometimes it is literally one step at a time. Opening the curtains in the house or trying to walk by the mailbox. Some of my friends have OCD. I know for them just trying to do something a couple times less each day helped. Great imagery!!

    1. Regardless of the differences between the two disorders, we both struggle with various aspects of our lives. The debilitating effects of living with a mental illness can be overwhelming, but it’s comforting knowing that others are going through similarly difficult trials. I appreciate your support 🙂

  8. Segway…. I think about what you’ve raised here often. The world I lived in 25 (or even 10) years ago was a safer, more easy going place. It’s hard not to feel a bit angry about that for future generations. We went to the wooded area, drove our bikes all over town, and didn’t fear strangers or kidnapping. But my children can’t have these freedoms – least of all of reasons is that I’d be arrested for negligence by some hyper-active do-gooder.

    But to your question, what do I do to escape my worries? Not much these days. I think listening to music helps serve as a distraction. The problem I have is that my mind doesn’t take a break or shut down. I need to be thoroughly preoccupied to get that level of escape that I need. I start a new hobby every few months: I’ll be blogging about my latest one in my next entry. What can i say, I get bored too easily. But this comes from not being able to take much joy in little things, and being impatient with what i think is “progress.” So far, sleeping has been my ONLY escape. Not sure if this is helpful, or not.

    1. I have that problem with going from one hobby to the next and not finish projects. I get bored so easily and I do things on impulse and don’t really think them through. I don’t really know why I can’t just be happy and content with doing one thing, like drawing or quilting, but I can’t. It’s like I need to see an end product ASAP! I also get frustrated when I realize I’m not good at something and then I rarely give it a second chance. I’m with you there. I feel like the world is not like it used to be and kids are not enjoying life as they should be anymore.
      Sleeping is definitely a good escape 🙂

  9. Would it be odd for me to say I’m experiencing things in reverse order to what you’ve described? Childhood and adolescence were terrible times in my life. I had to grow up too quickly. After leaving home I worked through many of the issues I had been left with, so with each passing year I’ve felt more and more free and carefree. Not to say I’ve regained the mental and emotional freedoms that a child feels, but I do know what it’s like to look at things through adult eyes and stand in awe of their utter beauty.

    When things are difficult for me, my escape is photography. I mainly shoot nature and landscapes. It forces to to focus (no pun intended) on being present in the moment, looking carefully at every detail. I get a feeling of such calmness in nature, especially in places that feel magical in some way. The challenge at that point is to find a single frame that grasps the beauty of the scene somehow that can be conveyed. Some of the photos form the last few years since picking up the camera as a serious hobby have been taken at some of the darkest points in my life, but when I look at them, all I feel is that calmness of the location. At this point in my life I’m asking the opposite question – when did it all start coming together with me?

    When you are in the moment with the intense thoughts and feelings, what do you do to calm yourself? I find fear can be paralyzing at times, so my only temporary escape is to find something to laugh at, if all else, the absurdity of my situation at that time versus my reaction. My way of coping is to laugh and to realize the good things now. I’d wager though, many of the things I was taught in coping with PTSD could apply in your life as well. Have you been taught techniques on getting or staying present?

    1. Laughing is very good indeed and is one of my favorite past times! I love it when I can make someone laugh. My coworkers and boyfriend are my guinea pigs 🙂 This is definitely a craft to hone in on 🙂

      I bought a DSLR camera last year and am loving photography as well. I’m still quite new at it and have yet to venture too far from auto mode, but I’m learning a lot about myself and that I can actually be good at something. I think I like it so much because I can instantly see my work, not like with some of the other hobbies I have tried and failed miserably at. I don’t have the patience, unfortunately.

      In those moments of intense thoughts and feelings, I escape by simply being alone. Sometimes people overwhelm me, especially if they are visibly ill in any way. I can’t handle it and sometimes I just have to be by myself. The other night my boyfriend said he felt like he was coming down with a cold, so I made some excuse to go to Target. I felt much better be in control of where I was and what I was doing and who I was around. I didn’t want to be around him at the time, so it made sense to leave for an hour or so. It definitely helps me. I also enjoy sitting down with a good book and holding my cat if he will let me.

      I know what you mean about the beauty that only adults can see. I wouldn’t change the knowledge I have now or the literal freedom of being able to go anywhere and do anything that I want (within means that is). Kids will never have that.

      Peace from a fellow adult 😀

  10. I don’t know if your OCD allows for pets, but I find cats to be really calming. I laugh more these days, and they are such a peaceful presence to have around, especially if in your lap just sleeping. I’ve read how petting a pet is proven to lower stress and help with physiological things like high blood pressure.

    1. Oh, if I was single, I would most definitely be a cat lady! I have one and I want more, but of course my boyfriend thinks only one is enough. I am a strong believer that pets make life better and generally lower stress and anxiety. They have an unconditional love that I think we can all learn and benefit from. I always enjoy a good cuddle with my baby Chester 🙂

  11. You stopped by my blog today, and i thought it’d be nice to stop by here and say hello.
    No OCD, but frequent deep depression and anxiety. Panic attacks are a bit of a forte of mine, together with crying jags, which can be embarrassing in the supermarket. It happens.
    When I’m really in the pit, I write. Paradoxically, the deeper I’m in, the funnier is the stuff i churn out. Some of the best bits of my blog (well, I like them) have been written at very bleak black times.
    So I don’t know if that helps, but it’s my twopennorth

    1. I think our best writing comes in times of strong emotion and writing is our way of expressing ourselves. I understand that for sure. I struggle a bit with general anxiety as well as OCD and many days are difficult. Have you written anything professionally or is it more of a recreational thing for you?

      1. Nothing professional, though I have had a couple of short stories published on Ether Books. They’re free downloads, so i don’t get paid, but at least I got published. If you want a link to the site where you can download them, let me know and I’ll send it to you.
        Recreational? A bit of that, but it’s much more important than mere recreation. Yes I enjoy it as a recreation, but I’m much to obsessional about it than a mere pastime might suggest.
        I run my blog fpr many reasons. Occasionally I’ll rant about some particular piece of public stupidity, or use it to test drive characters, tell anecdotes about my life and people I’ve met and places I’ve been to.
        I DO NOT try to make people laugh. That strikes me as manipulative. If they find things that I write funny, and they often do, then that’s a different matter.
        Oh, and I’m crap at telling jokes.

  12. Your parents were rare! Reading your post gave me a pretty good idea of the time frame and in the city kids didn’t get these freedoms. By this time parents were in fear to let their kids out of their sight. Sad, isn’t it?

    When I was growing up we were in the suburbs and kids could do about anything and go anywhere so long as they let their parents know where they were. We too had a blast and did some really adventurous things without really thinking of the consequences. It was part of growing up.

    My best plan of attack for going beyond my *agoraphobia and perfectionism (worries) is to FORCE myself to keep trying. Baby steps, but keep trying. Practice makes perfect sounds trite, but hey, it works for me. Also, this sounds wacky, but I have been envisioning myself doing the very things I feel powerless to even try, and that is working too.

    Thank you for visiting me today, Megan. 🙂
    *(How did such an adventurous child (me) grow up to have agoraphobia?)

    1. IT’s very sad that not all kids had or will have the childhood freedom that I did. I think there was a lot less worry in the world back then. Probably one of the biggest contributors to parental fear is the overwhelming number of sex predators in the world, who have always been there, but now have an avenue (the internet) to enter the home and interact with the child directly. This is unfortunate really.

      Definitely it takes a lot of willpower and force to get oneself moving in times that it seems impossible to continue on. I just wrote a post today about perseverance in times of struggle. It’s a very, very light-hearted post and is a way of bringing a message through anecdote 🙂

      Thank you as well, my friend 🙂

  13. I just …. Sometimes I just really don’t know. Sometimes I pray and trust God and sometimes I just give myself a pep talk. And sometimes I just push myself out of the freaking door especially when my mind is giving me 3000 reasons not to. Cause ya just gotta do it

  14. Yes, I can remember, as a child, roaming all over town day or night and wading blissfully through “creeks.” My husband remembers having OCD when young but he is uncertain how exactly he was able to overcome it. One of my cousins was housebound for years because her OCD was so overwhelming. She had a lot of family support and over time she has progressed to a point where she has only minor, less limiting, OCD issues. I wish the best for you.

    1. I’m glad to hear that your cousin is overcoming her struggles and managing a better way of life. Your husband is lucky to have overcome his OCD tendencies. They are not easy to live with as an adult, which you have seen from the case of your cousin. I appreciate you stopping by 🙂

  15. So Far I’ve been lucky and bless, my mother gives me a lot of freedom as well. For My Compulsive Disorder I usually use Art and Writing as a way to really express myself, your childhood seems fun and it reminds me a lot of mine back when Barbie was the greatest thing invented and Yahoo as well as AOL was the biggest trend. I love your blog, it makes me think that there are better things ahead.


    1. I too find that art and writing are a great escape 🙂 I do a lot of both, but perhaps more writing. I actually just purchased a graphic tablet and pen, so I can draw on my computer. 😉

      It’s amazing how far technology has come. Remember how terrible dial-up was?


      1. I remember when we had beepers, those little square things that acted as our caller ID and it was the most amazing and hip thing to have, now we get Iphone’s every year. I would love to get a graphic tablet and pen to draw

  16. Great blog post…besides the fact you had Mr. Sicko Jimmy Lee showing off his junk to you at the age of 13. Anyway, I loved your movie making in the back woods experience. Pretty creative and cool.

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