Tuesday, December 11, 2012

bigger person

I wish I could be the bigger person, I really do.

It's a struggle and I'm constantly torn, making my way precariously down that line between being an unforgiving, bitter bitch and allowing people to continue to hurt me.

I'm reminded that Jesus allowed people to hurt him and that He forgives people for their hurtfulness, even when we continue to pummel Him with our stones of sin.

But He expects repentance. In order to turn away, you must first recognize.

You do not.

Yet I forgive you anyway because I love you.

And because I know that you love me, in whatever limited capacity in which you are capable.

I forgive you because I am scared not to - because I don't want to carry around the pain of it all and the burden of my anger for you, because I don't want to pay that price, because I don't want to be that person.

Monday, November 5, 2012

it's the holiday season...

I'm excited about the holidays.

It actually seems a bit surreal to not be gripped by anxiety at the thought of their approach. I'm feeling a bit out of my element, but I think I like it here.

I'm even thinking about having a Christmas party. I've never had a Christmas party. For that matter, I've never had any kind of party at all, unless you count birthday parties for The Boy, and I don't think that's the same.

I've even thought of having two - one for the more, um, lively friends of mine and another for the more straight and narrow.

That seems like a like of work though.

Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain that I cannot invite everyone I'd like to a single gathering without their being bloodshed...or at the very least, some folks being highly offended.

So, I'm thinking I may make a day of it. We can have our more straight-laced folks over in the afternoon, including a few of The Boy's friends and their parents, and then have my deviant friends over that night.

I call them deviants but they're really good people. They just tend to drink a bit too much, cuss a bit too loud and laugh at totally inappropriate things.

We'll see.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

gobble gobble

I've spent the past two years reevaluating my life. Granted, this seems to be an ongoing thing. I'm not quite sure that there is anyone who is not in a constant state of reevaluation. But this has been different.

This has been reevaluation with intent. 

So often my reevaluation has simply been a review of systems, examining what is happening, what I'm feeling and what other people are feeling. The only intent involved centered around trying to identify things that could change what other people were feeling. 

I've finally come to accept that a counselor I had when The Boy was just a baby, was correct when he advised that the only thing I could control was my own actions and reactions. I have no control over how anyone else acts or reacts and will drive myself crazy if I continue to twist myself into knots to try. 

Once I accepted that, I had to make some choices. If I can't control their actions and reactions...to what extent will I allow them to control mine? 

I have to say, that was hard. Damn hard. 

I've spent most of my life twisting myself inside out trying to keep the peace in the midst of a war zone, trying to balance having relationships with people who hate each other and weighing every decision I make by not only my own standards, but the standards of everyone else in my life as well. 

Well good hell! No wonder I felt like a basketcase most of the damn time!! 

Any-hoo, I decided that most of it simply did not matter. I come from a long line of crazy ass females who seem to thrive on being cruel and hateful to one another. After nearly 36 years I've realized that they are going to be that way regardless of what I do or do not do. 

It's a bittersweet feeling heading into this holiday season. I will not be joining them for Thanksgiving this year. Instead, my little family has decided we would much rather stay home and enjoy each other rather than enter that viper pit this year. I'm sure that decision will make me public enemy number one, but I've grown accustomed to that and find it no longer matters. 

At least I'll be able to enjoy my turkey with people who love me. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

train, train

We rumble past a seemingly endless parade of quiet towns. In the quiet of the night, they seem frozen in time, unchanging.

Dawn will change that.

It's been five years since I've been on a train. It seems so much longer than that - a lifetime ago. I'm headed in a different direction now - in every sense of the phrase.

The changes are barely noticeable as they occur. A loose board here or fine line there, a slow, unremarkable fading of brilliant hues or a subtle loss of glow. We rarely take note of them as these things happen - more a product of the slow wearing on of time than a single, memorable event.

When did that storefront become so weathered? Why I can barely read that sign. The dust hangs thick on the counters, a few wiry spiders hiding in the baseboards the only living thing inhabiting that space now.

When did my skin become so lackluster, peppered with age spots? Why I can barely remember what it feels like to wake up full of energy, unencumbered by pain, ready to take on the world. A few tarnished memories remain, reminding me of who I was then.

Dawn will change that.

I will recognize that I'm simply an older, wiser, kinder version of I who I once was. And I'm ok with that.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

in the beginning...

My great grandmother is 98 years old. She is one of the most God-fearing, generous, stubborn, mean-spirited people I've ever known.

Yes, you read that correctly. If you think that description is a bit contradictory, then I have succeeded in accurately describing, not only my great grandmother, but every other person I know, especially the women in my family.

She will give you the shirt off her back and never once hold it over your head that she did it, but later, when you least expect it, she'll cut you to the quick with a snarky comment about your weight, your looks or the general state of your life.

Always having had a flare for the dramatic, her most recent trick of cruelty is calling my grandmother on the phone, screaming for help repeatedly and then hanging up abruptly.

My grandmother will rush down to her house and bust in - ready to fight off a intruder, a horrible creature or the Grim Reaper himself - only to discover my great grandmother sitting primly, hands folded demurely, grinning like the Cheshire cat.

"My batteries in my hearing aid are dead," she'll say sweetly.

Mean as a damn snake I tell you.

She used to take great pleasure in publicly ridiculing my great grandfather, but of course no that he's dead and buried these 11 years, she loves to tell everyone about how handsome he was and how much she misses him, how she tells his picture goodnight every single night. Her eyes even well up with tears in the telling.

Strangers think it's sweet. They don't question the fact that she never shares memories of fun times. Best I can tell, they did two things - work and yell at each other. She did most of the yelling. He made the mistake of smacking her once. She shot him in the knee in return, with his own service revolver. She will always brag how she never let any man push her around, but she never tells you that when the ambulance and police came, her 6'3 law enforcement officer husband kept her out of trouble, humiliating himself in front of his peers by saying he accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun.

Mean as a damn snake.

For some reason, she has never been mean to me. Never. I do not recall a single time that she ever hurt my feelings. But I watched as she ripped my grandmother to shreds - a job that had began when my grandmother was just a child. My grandmother wasn't the only target of her barbs. She took obvious pleasure in preying upon people's insecurities.

She wasn't a beautiful woman, but she loved to boast of all the boys who chased after her. But she enjoyed the thrill of the chase even after she married. I heard many stories of her indiscretions - never from her of course. She has never admitted to any wrongdoing - not to any of us anyway.

Meanwhile, she never missed church and spoke of God as though He were a personal friend. She sang her hymns with a sincere sense of reverence and never seemed to doubt God's love for her. As I look back, it seems as though her devotion itself was another ploy but who am I to even attempt to discern the motives of her heart.

Mean as a damn snake I tell you.

Yet again, for some reason, she was never, not even once, mean to me.

Maybe she thought I already had enough people being mean to me. Maybe she didn't see me as a threat. I don't know. What I do know is that she was never once mean to me. She and my great grandfather are the only two people who played an integral role in my childhood to which there are no negative memories attached.

I thought about various ways I could tell her that. I wanted her to know that. But then I remembered the long years of cruelty endured by my grandmother - those years that irrevocably twisted my grandmother's heart and mind.

The women in my family suffered from the trickle down effect. Mind-fuck on top of mind-fuck until they hardly knew which way was up. So wrapped up in their own pain and misery they are completely incapable of comprehending anyone else's. They have no sense of remorse for anything, primarily because they are oblivious to their own wrongdoing.

They are mean as damn snakes I tell you - a real pit of vipers.

And THAT is the one negative memory I have of her - she is where it all began.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

on guard

All I could do is stand guard.

There was nothing I could do to protect them. Nothing I could do to save them.

Yet I remained firmly rooted.

"You ARE loved and you are NOT alone."

.....

How can you go through life without feeling any remorse? My heart aches over the least of things, and many. Some I didn't even do.

Friday, July 6, 2012

lifeline

Don't get me wrong.

It would be nice to live without so much of this heartache for all those I've loved, and all they have loved in turn, here and not.

It terrifies me to let go of that pain. It's grounded me for so long. I'm so firmly rooted in it. I sometimes feel as though any minute this whole world will tilt too sharp and sling me off. So I hang on.

I had to remember who I was.

***

And I know I must let go.

But I don't know how to separate it. How to keep from losing everything.


sigh

I dreamed of him last night. One of those vivid dreams that seem so real I could honestly believe I was having a conversation with him.

People would probably think I was crazy if they knew just how much I do believe that.

I don't remember most of the conversation. It seems we talked for a very long time as we sat, side by side, arms touching. I could still feel his hand in mine when I woke up this morning. I could still smell him and feel his breath upon my ear. I know we were talking about how I was having such a hard time finding my balance.

"I'm going to have to let you go, aren't I?"

He just nodded.

I'm not sure that I can, even if I knew how.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

unpacking

The problem is that I haven't yet gotten home.

I'm dreadfully homesick for a home I've never known. I've caught a glimpse once or twice...

Could explain why  I never unpack. I always feel as though I'm a visitor, a guest in my own house - some times welcome and some times not. I've lived in this house for nearly 10 years and there are still boxes left unpacked. 


There are so many boxes I've left behind. So many boxes lost in my absence - including a cedar chest big enough for a man to crawl inside. My great grandfather, Papa, made it for me when I was a child. No one seems to have ever known what happened to it after I left home. I've never understood how something that damn big could simply disappear! I know it can't and that someone knows what happened to it and that knowledge makes me angry. 


He had epilepsy (my husband, not my Papa.) Epilepsy is really just a very non-specific diagnosis they assign to people who have recurrent seizures. They never knew what caused his seizures. He said it could have been his mother trying to abort him. She said it could have been the forceps used during his birth. They said it could have been triggered by adolescent drug use. The initial ER even said it might be a vitamin deficiency.


He was 17 when he had his first witnessed seizure. I hadn't yet left and was about to be 16. He was hanging out with some guys, jamming out in someone's basement. He was playing guitar and suddenly they thought he was being electrocuted. 


Nobody thought an MRI was a good idea. Or a neurologist. 

His mother wasn't living at home then. She had moved out and left him living with her ex-girlfriend.

He was pissed at me for dating someone else instead of him.

I left, unable to choose that date or time myself and unable to say goodbye.

Everyone was pissed at me.

Someone told him not long after that I had died, committed suicide. I remember being angry he had believed it.

By that point two years had passed. He told me the seizures had continued, that he was on medicine and it controlled it, mostly. He told me it was no big deal.

I knew he missed work sometimes because of it.

We had been living together for a few days before I ever saw him have a seizure. He was standing there talking to me and all of a sudden, with no warning at all, he went stiff as a board, his eyes rolled back in his head and fell backwards and to the left. His entire body was convulsing before he hit the floor. His muscles were tense, filled with the strength of ten men and every single one of them were violently shaking, forcing his body into the fetal position. His teeth clenched tight, the saliva forced it's way past them in wet bursts. His whole body grew clammy as his face and neck and upper torso became an ashen gray, his face turning a horrifying shade of blue. They tell you not to restrain someone having a seizure because they can hurt themselves. They can also hurt themselves by violently bouncing off every piece of furniture and wall in a room. The convulsions could sometimes last as long as 6 or 7 minutes.

I was terrified. I thought he was going to die.

He gradually grew still and then took a few ragged, agonal breaths.

"My God," I remember thinking. "How on earth can a human body survive such torture?"

Since that time I've seen some pretty heart-wrenching stuff - folks dying beneath my hands, even as I forced O2 into their lungs, trying to maintain C-Spine and keep a tight seal while avoiding the crackly section of bone that used to be the left side facial side of her skull, her amputated limb riding in the stairwell - the boy crushed by the tractor - the woman with 3rd degree burns over 90% of her body who still screamed before losing consciousness - the man who's heart had simply stopped beating. I've seen countless of the newly dead and bodies that have been found after many days and remains that have been found after years.

I have still never seen anything as terrifying, as absolutely horrifying, as him having a seizure. Incidentally, the last time I saw him his body was fully clenched in "seizure position," his skin mottled and gray, his lifeless eyes staring up at me from the morgue table.

It took him most of the afternoon to come back around to the point we could have any sort of conversation. That's when he told me that he knew it was going to kill him but that he had come to accept that.

What the hell??? Why in hell would you accept that? And how can you be so nonchalant and simply assume I would?

He said that he didn't have them frequently as long as he took his medicine. But he also thought if he went a full week without having one he was doing good and he certainly wasn't very faithful in taking his medicine. He claimed he didn't take it because it made him feel like shit and it didn't work anyway.

I claimed that 3-5 severe tonic-clonic seizures a month were entirely too many and that surely there was another course of treatment that could better manage his condition.

It took nearly a year for him to agree to go to a neurologist instead of the general practice doc that just kept upping the dose of Dilantin. During that time he would go for weeks at a time having 3-5 seizures a week. That's when we learned that most neurologists wouldn't see a 20 year old kid with no job and no medical insurance. It's hard to keep a job when you're either having a seizure, about to have a seizure or recovering from a seizure. 

Through it all he insisted it didn't matter what we did, it didn't matter whether or not he drank or took his medicine or drove - it was going to kill him and it would do so by the time he was 25.

I accused him of wanting it to kill him, of being weak and taking the easy way out. I told him he could simply choose to live and take his medicine and not drink so much and at least not drive the day after a drinking binge, knowing that was when he was more likely to have a seizure.

He didn't argue with me. He admitted that he wanted to die, that he was looking forward to it. He couldn't understand why that bothered me, why I thought that was so incredibly selfish of him, why I took that as him not loving me, not loving his son, not loving our family. He couldn't understand why I felt so totally alone.

I spent nearly five years trying to catch him before he fell, wedging myself between him and the furniture, trying to use a pillow to cushion the blows. I cried for days at a time as the seizures wreaked havoc with his personality and the depression enveloped him, robbing me of the man who had been my best friend, my husband.

The new medicine helped. Tremendously. I don't care how good the medicine is though - you have to take it for it to work. I also don't care how good the medicine is - if you have epilepsy and you drink a large amount of alcohol, you WILL have a seizure.

He wasn't concerned about the consequences. What did it matter, it was going to kill him by the time he was 25 anyway. All that mattered was right now.

BUT WE SHOULD MATTER!! It doesn't have to be this way! You could be happier and healthier and live as long as you want...this isn't a damn death sentence and right now isn't that fucking great with you having seizures all over the damn place and feeling like shit from having seizures all over the place and me raising hell because you didn't take your medicine or drank a fucking 12-pack which made you seize all over the place.

Asshole. Some people have to learn the hard way and unfortunately, everyone around them gets hurt in the process. I will never know if he really did see a premonition of his death or if he simply willed it to be. I have found it very hard to forgive him for his cruelty. I have had an even harder time forgiving him for making our lives so much harder than they needed to be.

I'm not sure I will ever fully heal from the wounds caused by his lack of concern for the consequences of his actions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

truth and lies

I don't really need to spend a lot of time dealing with how it feels to not have gotten to say goodbye to him and to not have been there to stop him from drowning. I've pretty much dealt with all that. It sucks, but it is what it is and there's not much I can do about it now. 

I did however, discover during my mulling that there are still a lot of things I feel I should say to him.

Most of them stem from a very bitter, angry place. This is why I do not like for them to see the light of day. I am ashamed of such thoughts. Ashamed that I could be so selfish as to think of his life and death as my personal tragedy. 

Ashamed that I can still be so damn angry with him. And angry that I should feel so angry.

I always complain that he made life difficult with his constant reminders that he was going to die before he turned 25. 

I rarely include how angry I still am at him for promising me happily ever after, for making me believe - before taking it all away. 

He wooed me and wowed me and made me believe that he loved me and wanted to be with me forever, that we could have our happily ever after.

Then life got hard. The seizures grew worse, I got pregnant, he announced he wouldn't live to 25, we both got scared. 

Once when I was several months pregnant and bitching that he couldn't hardly drink a fifth of liquor and not expect to have a seizure, he announced that he wasn't sure if he was really in love with me or not. 

I was devastated. I felt crushed by the weight of our responsibility and felt as though he were leaving me to deal with it all on my own. 

He married me six months later and showered me for a bit with love and affection, but there was always a sadness in his eyes, a heaviness in his heart - the weight of which he never hesitated to share with me. 

I had a hard time believing him after that. There was no happy ever after. He was going to die and he was okay with that, he looked forward to it. 

For some reason he thought I would be okay with that. 

He told me once that it never occurred to him that I might need his help because I always seemed to have everything together and was so independent. I tried to tell him it was all just a show. 

He claimed The Boy and I were the only things that brought him happiness, the only things that even came close to make life worth living. But he was still going to die by the age of 25 and he was ok with that, he damn near begged for it. 

He didn't get why I took it so personally. 

He didn't have an expiration date or anything. It's not like he had some sort of progressive disease that we all knew would steadily deteriorate until he died. No, he had a controllable condition. One that he refused to control, despite the fact that he KNEW his decisions were causing it to spin horribly out of control. Despite the fact that he KNEW we were the ones who would be left to pick up the pieces when it all came crushing down. Despite the fact that he had promised me forever, promised me happily ever after.He was my best friend. I had trusted him. 

"You can't do this to us. You promised us happily ever after and now you're telling me that we're not going to get it because this life is too fucking hard for you to deal with, because it's too fucking hard for you to do the right thing?! You can't do this. You can't remind me daily of how you don't matter because you're going to be dead anyway and expect me to be ok with that. You can't be happy with that knowledge also knowing how much it destroys me to think about losing you. You can't expect us to sit here and watch you choose death over us and be happy about it. You can't expect us to sit here and watch you self-destruct, a product of your own self-hate and self-pity. You have no right to make us watch you drown in your own misery. 

It wasn't until after I left that you thought we were worth fighting for and even then you had to hit rock bottom first. We wasted 4-6 months of our lives together all because you refused to even try to want to live, to try to fight. Because it was just too fucking hard. 

I've spent a lot of time being pissed off at myself for that wasted time, but I guess it's been too easy for me to accept the brunt of that burden. In reality, you were just as much at fault. I may have left but you certainly pushed.

There are times I think you did it in an attempt to save me. And others when I believe you did it to punish me. 

I made you promise not to die doing something stupid so that I wouldn't hate you forever. You cleaned up your act right before you died. The marriage counselor hadn't been fooled, but I was. You were taking your medicine. At least I couldn't hate you for dying. 

But part of me will always believe you killed yourself, same as though you had committed suicide. 

The fact that it wasn't suicide just means that you didn't leave a fucking note, which really pisses me off. 

I remember us talking about it one night - so strange how it was a part of so many casual conversations. You made it clear what you wanted, how you expected me to carry on. I made you promise to haunt me - to stick around until you were certain I would be ok. I think you've done that. 

But you never said goodbye. You tried to prepare me - made me absolutely fucking miserable reminding me so often, but you tried to prepare me. You told me things you thought I needed to know. It's getting hard to remember some of them - conversations held years and years ago, late at night while everyone else slept.

But you never said goodbye. And then you left me here, to bear the weight of our responsibility alone, without you. 

But you never said goodbye. Instead your lips brushed my ear when the magistrate said "til death do you part" and you murmured softly "not even death."

How dare you make me watch you drown, even if you at least tried to make sure I didn't have a front row seat. 

You never said goodbye. 

And I was left picking up the pieces of your broken promise. It's exhausting to be that damn angry. 

It's absolutely maddening to see your son make many of the same type of self-destructive choices. And it's just as much a crushing heartache when he lies to me, when he breaks his promises. 

You're not here to make him understand and that pisses me off too. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

fester

It's all there, lurking just beneath the surface.

When I begin to pull the bandages back, carefully pulling away the new, delicate skin, I realize it's a festering mess.

Tears well up and I want to cry...or scream...or vomit.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

mulling and murmuring

I've started speaking with a grief counselor.

12 years later and I decide it's time to see someone.

I've come to grips with it, mostly. On an intellectual level, mostly.

My heart is still broken, clumsily glued back together. It's mending but there's some sort of block - or perhaps a vital missing piece. I know it's always going to hurt. There's simply no fixing that. But I think there is supposed to be a better balance. I know there is a God and that He takes care of me. I see proof of that everywhere. I am constantly reminded that I am not alone in this life. And I am abundantly aware that forever is a really long time, especially when all we can touch is right now, this very moment.

Most of my moments these days are great. But they are still tinged with sadness. Because every moment of every day, with every breath, my heart aches for those I've loved. And those I've lost.

The very depth of that pain is proof of love's existence and eternity.

That should give be reason to celebrate, I have been blessed to know love like that, to know that love will never leave me. But every moment of every day, I am painfully aware of its absence.

I want to find a better balance. I know there has to be one. I am running on the assumption that there is still one more lesson I have yet to learn from it all.

There's always one more surgery, one more lesson. I'm ready to enjoy much more of my life so I've asked for the help of a tutor, a grief counselor named Mike.

I think he will be able to help. He already has. He assures me I'm not crazy. And that I haven't failed.

Even the Fine Young Man reminded me recently that it's all in how you finish.

So I'm looking to finish strong. Joyfully.

I told Mike that I have a really hard time talking about things. It's much easier for me to write.

He asked if I needed to mull over why I don't like to cry in front of people. No need, that's simple. I will forever hear my Daddy's voice, "Why in the hell are you crying? I'll give you something to cry about." And I will forever feel myself screaming silently, "Fuck you. You will not break me. I will not let you see me cry." Crying makes you vulnerable. I don't want to be vulnerable.

Apparently it's a prerequisite.

Yea, I am much better at writing it down, all alone.

So I asked Mike to give me prompts and let me write my way through it. My first one? A letter to Him. I've written more than a few, but this one has a specific focus. I am supposed to zoom in on how it feels to not have gotten to say goodbye to Him and how it feels to not have been there to stop him from drowning.

He wants me to really give it some thought, to mull it over a bit. We've decided I'm a master muller. Well, I decided anyway. But I don't think he disagreed.

I guess the biggest thing so far is that he gives me permission. Permission to mull, to listen to those murmurs. With that permission I'm assuming comes permission to schedule my mulling time, permission to not let mulling and murmuring consume every moment of every day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

sometimes we need to just let go

We sit and wait and worry. With baited breath.

Then wonder why our hearts hurt.

Sometimes we just need to let go.

But no one can tell us how.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

recognize

I called an old friend tonight. I needed to talk to someone who understood, as much as anyone other than he and I could understand, someone who had known him, known us together.

I needed to have a good cry.

Some years are just harder than others. This is one of those years.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

contents under pressure

It occurs to me that perhaps I should include a warning label for recent posts and probably the ones still to come over the next week.

I hate to be the mopey, whiny, wallower.

Contrary to how it may seem, I'm not wallowing. I'm just releasing the tension, loosening the valve a bit.

I keep all these things - this anger and hurt and hate and love - bottled up, pouring more and more into the bottle until it overflows.

I should come with a warning label. Contents Under Pressure! Much like a soda bottle that has been shaken vigorously.

So I release the lid slowly.

I carefully remove a few ounces, examine it closely, rolling it around in my mind. I immerse myself in it, allowing it to flow over me as I experience every last drop. And then I rinse it down the drain, making room.

Writing allows me to do that.

I can never seem to empty the bottle, but at least this way I can keep it from spewing all over the room, making a sticky mess of everything.

pieces

It's the twelfth year without him.

It's only the first without my dog.

The loss of both still hurts like hell.
.....

I've gathered a lot of things over the years. Most of them greet me every day. Many of them sit unobtrusively in a box, or upon a shelf, behind closed doors.

The dresser I had as a small child. I don't remember what became of its mate, if I ever knew. I reclaimed the long one from the basement at the start of my adult life. I've kept it with me every since.

The stuffed blue bear given to me by my grandfather, long before I would have any memories of Saturday morning breakfasts and Christmas trees. I have his coffee table also - a sturdy piece of furniture that I hid under as a child. It has often held my weight as I sat or stood, quickly, to tie shoes, change light bulbs or clean ceiling fans.

My great-grandmother's green kitty tea set. It was a free gift when she purchased some furniture - when she was 16. When I was little I thought it was exquisite. Now I'm much more impressed by the fact that my great-grandmother was buying furniture at the age of 16. The set lives in my kitchen now. Hers now seems remarkably small.


My great-grandfather's typewriter. He was so proud of that typewriter. Only educated men had typewriter's and a house full of books. I have many of those as well. And a bookcase he built for my aunt. I think it's beautiful. No one seems to know what happened to the giant cedar chest he built for me. 

My great, great grandmother's Christmas ornaments. I never met her. She died long before I was born, but most of her ornaments always hung on my grandmother's tree. Many have always hung on mine.

My dollhouse. My trophies. My report cards. 

Pieces of my childhood. 
....

It's funny how all the pains of all the years manage to roll themselves into a single state of loss. Never allowed a glimpse of one without at least hearing the whisperings of the others. 

You mourn for all those gone before you, all the moments gone. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

just walk away

I've always been good at walking away. It runs in the family.

The thing that sets me apart, that makes me different from them, is that I always come back. Almost immediately.

Sometimes I think that makes me better than them. Mostly I just think it makes me weak. 

I've never been very good at walking away from an argument, especially when I know I'm right. The Fine Young Man (formerly known as The Boy) likes to fight with me. Or rather, he likes to piss me off. There's not really a lot of fighting. It's mostly just me yelling. And him standing there, taking it, because he knows he's wrong. 

Then I feel bad and he feels bad and The Husband feels bad and even the dogs feel bad. And then he does it again. 

The Fine Young Man (or Little Shit depending on when you ask me) tends to lie. A lot. About some of the simplest, stupid things. 

There is nothing that will send me into a rage worse than lying to me. My rages are very unladylike - violent explosions, expletives flying like shrapnel, intent on wounding whoever is within the blast radius. This is not new. 

I've often wondered if The Boy has a need for self-punishment. He seems to refuse to let us live in peace for long. This time it was over $40. He spent it. Swore up and down he still had it. Replaced it with money from his savings. He thought I would never find out. Am I pissed he spent the $40? No. I knew he would, that's why I kept asking him if he had. I'm pissed that he lied to me. Repeatedly. Again. 

And of course this comes just a few short weeks after he was caught lying about having a girl over at the house. Repeatedly. Again. 

This is also after I finally gave up asking about school work, in an effort to remove things for him to lie to me about. I've also been giving him more freedom, hoping that my good faith effort would be rewarded with some honesty. 

I always hope. Repeatedly. Again.

I can't trust my own son. At all. And he's my son so it's not like I can just walk away. That's what sets me apart, what makes me different from them. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

pause, reset, joy



Obviously, there is a lot of tension in my family.
I am doing my best to reduce the ill effects of that tension on my life.
I refuse to to give up my heart, or sell my soul, becoming someone I despise.
I'm incredibly sorry you bring out the worst in me.
But I choose joy.
......
I refuse to wallow, to allow the hurt to destroy that light.
Instead I will seek out, find and recognize joy.
I choose joy.
......

"Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God." ~ Sam Storms

Monday, April 16, 2012

spineless -or- when heroes come crashing down

Nearly all of the arguments held beneath that cuckoo clock either began or ended with my slinging about, "I know you don't love me, you make it perfectly clear every single day that you don't love me."

Quite often, not always in the middle of an argument, but certainly always at least surrounding one, I would also burst out with, "I know I have a big brother somewhere, why won't you just let me see him?"

I was never a child to scream for a toy or a cake or in surprise. But I would scream in fear and I would scream in anger. And I would scream for my big brother.For years. 

Momma told me I was crazy. Daddy sat on the couch and drank beer. 

I stared out the back window of a dusty ass single-wide trailer, counting down the days. 

Blaming her. Hating her. 

I can remember them arguing. Yelling and crying and cursing and throwing things. I can remember being afraid he was going to kill her. I never once thought he'd kill me. 

I somehow always managed to believe the best of him, long after she had convinced me I was crazy. 

I left. At the age of 16. 

And all he could say was, "you know I have a son."

And tell me how sorry he was for me.

I hated him for walking away, for being able to walk away. For letting everyone else pay the price. 

Even if it's one he has never seen, it's the greatest gift he has ever given me. 

I hate him every time he tries to make me let it go. Maybe he doesn't understand that my brother is the only part of him he's ever let me have.
....

Daddy's girl

I don't talk about my Daddy much here. In fact, according to that label thingy, I've never mentioned him at all.

There's a reason for that. 

I love my Daddy, but he was my first heartbreak. I have a hard time forgiving him for it. Especially when his current words and actions practically beg me to forever hate him for it. I think he'd like it if I would. It would save him the trouble of hating himself. 

I understand. 

It doesn't make it right. Just because you were born an asshole doesn't mean you have to continue to choose to be an asshole. You could always be something better. You could always choose to not be an asshole.
Or maybe you can't. 

Either way, he didn't. And still hasn't. Except perhaps with my Momma. I'm guessing I'm a lot harder to face than my Momma. She never really lost faith in him, but I did. 

What a shame!

I can still see him there, shining with the brilliance of an eclipsed sun as I looked up to him, clinging to him for safety. I trusted him entirely. 

He lied. 
......

Saturday, April 14, 2012

recognize

I think The Boy is starting to understand me, starting to truly recognize who I am. I'm starting to recognize myself.

He's finally rewarding my openness with one of his own.

I think He finally gets that I get it, that I get him, and that it's ok. He's starting to recognize himself.

I can't call him The Boy anymore, it no longer seems right.

He's grown into an incredibly Fine Young Man.

There have been a lot of stumbles and starts, but Thank the Lord, he's hasn't yet stopped.

I'm incredibly proud of him.
........

and now I have to let him go....

I'm trying to give him the reins more.

There have been a lot of stumbles and starts, but Thank the Lord, He hasn't let me stop.

I now know he'll be okay. He'll have a lot of stumbles and starts. We all do.

But I have faith in that Fine Young Man to never stop.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

mercy and grace

I'm trying very, very hard to not be angry.

I am afraid I am failing miserably.

I don't have time for this. The Boy will be going to his first prom on Saturday. I'm so incredibly excited for him. I'm working on a huge project that could be a tremendous benefit to the community. Or it could fail miserably. Life is good. Life is busy, but it is good.

And my heart and soul are tangled up in all your hurt and hate and bitterness.

I feel as though you robbed me of my childhood. I often feel I failed my childhood, miserably.

I am angry that I would allow you to rob me of that time. I often fear I am failing now, miserably.

I have no right to be angry. I'm no better than you. Some days I'm not much less crazier than you either. But when I am? I can see it all so clearly - all your pain and anguish and suffering. It so closely resembles my own. We all bear our crosses. How much heavier does mine grow for every angry wave that passes through my being?

There are no innocents here.

Mercy and grace, please save us.

Monday, April 9, 2012

just follow the instructions.

I just want to do the right thing.

Isn't that really what we all want? To do the right thing.

How many times a day do our hearts cry out, "Oh please God, please tell me what to do?!"

How often do we follow  His instructions?

......

Sunday, April 8, 2012

those crazy damn women

My great grandfather has always been one of my heroes. He died 11 years ago of Alzheimers. One day, as the disease was beginning to rob him of his memories, he leaned close to me, a twinkle in his eye and said, "you know it's those crazy damn women who did this to me!"

I've never doubted that for a moment.

This is not the first Easter I've celebrated without my extended family.

It's not even the first time I've celebrated Easter without the majority of my extended family speaking to me.

It is however the first time I've ever cooked a turkey breast. There is one soaking in brine in my refrigerator right now.

Holidays in my family have always been overly dramatic, stressful and, at times, downright traumatic. It's not so much the family get-together itself as much as it is the days and weeks leading up to the get-together. There's always someone pissed at someone else, someone showing their ass, someone getting their feelings hurt and someone threatening to bail out altogether - either out of the gathering or out of this life altogether.

This someone is usually my grandmother.

By the time the family get-together rolls around, everyone is too stressed out and on edge to actually enjoy it, except for my grandmother, she usually appears to enjoy herself.

My grandmother bailed out on the festivities last year. My mother quickly followed suit because she will take advantage of any opportunity to skip a family get-together. My aunt also opted to be a no-show, most likely because she was scared she'd piss off my grandmother if she came without her. So we had Easter with my grandmother's sister and my great grandmother. It was actually kind of nice. Very peaceful without "those crazy damn women."

Everyone was on edge last year and everyone was stressed but everyone was talking, at least to some extent.

But again, this is not the first Easter I've celebrated without the majority of my extended family speaking to me.

The first was when I was 16. The month before I had been sent two states away to live with an aunt who was virtually a stranger to me because I had made it clear to anyone that would listen that I would not live in my home for another minute with a woman who did not love me. My mother was not speaking to me and hadn't had much of anything to say to me for years. My grandmother and aunt weren't speaking to me either. They were angry that I left home to start with, angrier still that I had ended up two states away. None of them seemed to remember that my grandmother was the one who had always  told me my mother did not love me or that my mother had gone for years without really speaking to anyone. No I was public enemy number one that year and "those crazy damn women" rallied around my mother, trying to make up for lost time, trying desperately to pretend as though everything were my fault because that is so much easier to deal with than accepting any responsibility for your own actions. It's always easier to blame the child.

I am public enemy number one this year as well. I've had the audacity to maintain for a full year that my grandmother is irrational and unstable, growing worse by the day and in desperate need of help. My grandmother will not deny that but she refuses to get help. My aunt also agrees but refuses to talk to my mother about it because my mother has a way of making people feel so small and stupid. And my mother buries her head in the sand and refuses to see it because to acknowledge it would mean she would have to recognize it in herself as well. So now "those crazy damn women" rally around my grandmother, trying to make up for lost time, trying desperately to pretend as though everything were my fault because that is so much easier to deal with than accepting any responsibility for your own actions. It's always easier to blame the child.

At least this year I can cook my own damn turkey. And enjoy a glass of wine with the pills I am currently taking in an effort to not be one of "those crazy damn women."

Addendum: Yes, I realize that you are supposed to have ham and potato salad at Easter. We're celebrating with my best friend Suzie this year because her family is as dysfunctional as mine. She's cooking the ham, potato salad, mac & cheese (which I won't touch of course) and greens. I'm doing the turkey, dressing, creamed potatoes, deviled eggs, chocolate chess pie and squash & zucchini. Yes we are overcompensating.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday

It is suddenly very chilly and I feel in need of a fire to warm me. The slow, cool Spring offers a chance to shake the remnants of a cold, lonely winter.

I'm gritting my teeth. I quite forget how often I grit my teeth - the pressure of my worry forever clenched violently, every nerve a spasm of fear for what the next moment holds.

I hold my breath.

I've held my breath so long I've forgotten how to breathe.

Fear really does have a scent - it's the scent of yourself, so thick when you are suffocating, drowning, so crushed in upon yourself you can't smell anything else.

The smell of fear usually stinks.

Every cell tightly clinched against the anticipation of losing that moment, the mourning of it's expected loss already such a penetrating pain.

Our lives tightly clinch against that fear, so gripped in mourning the loss of that moment, we neglect to cheer the greatest victory.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

still

It is constantly in motion.

The ever present ebb & flow of the tide causing great swells to roll across the surface. Frothy waves crashing in the shallow waters, quickly crawling their way upon the shore, only to be sucked back out just as quickly.

The sand is forever shifting, the landscape forever changing, at the mercy of the tide & winds.

There is an incredible stillness about it all. A pulse that is so fast it cannot be measured.

It is endless and it is timeless.

It is where forever is found.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

itsy bitsy spider

This morning I opened the door to my vehicle to find a teeny tiny spider furiously trying to build a web between the seat and window. 

For a split second I admired her ingenuity and effort. Then I scoffed at her poor decision making.

I am afraid of spiders. She was teeny tiny but she was also carrying a white bag of eggs on her bag. I instantly had visions of millions of teeny tiny spiders crawling all over the inside of my vehicle so I quickly squashed her, and her eggs. 

I thought I was safe. 

I was backing out of my driveway when a glittering on my front lawn stole my attention. There, spread across the grass were what looked to be nearly a hundred translucent handkerchiefs, neatly spread across the top of the grass. 

Oh dear.

As I pulled onto the road, I was met by another unsettling sight. For as far as the eye could see, along both sides of the road, white tufts clung to the stalks of dormant weeds, creating the illusion of a cotton field. 

Shit! We're under attack! 

I'm not quite sure how any of us walk a step outside without having a spider scurry across our feet and I'm reminded that, sometimes, ignorance really is bliss. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

woof

Lately I have been inundated with pictures of dogs. Not just any dogs, but the sad, lonely little faces of dogs biding their time at area pounds, shelters and rescues, waiting for someone to come save them.

I want to save them all. 

I know I can't. I'm not even ready for another dog. My girl just died in December, but I'm drawn to the pictures of the abandoned dogs. I seek them out. I tell myself it's because I'm just keeping my eyes open for the next good dog I'm meant to have, but in reality it's a lot more like not being able to take your eyes off a car wreck. 

She was a good girl. I miss her a lot. She has a great story. I'll have to share it with you soon.

"Remember that you don't choose love; love chooses you. All you really can do is accept it for all its mystery when it comes into your life. Feel the way it fills you to overflowing then reach out and give it away."
~ Kent Nerburn



Monday, March 19, 2012

in progress

My house seems to be in a constant state of disorder, a work in progress, perpetual progress.

I'm in the midst of spring cleaning.

I suppose normal people are capable of cleaning around stuff, or reorganizing their closets and drawers my simply rearranging things.

I'm certainly not normal. I can't seem to clean or organize anything without starting all over. Need to reorganize the closet? Pull everything out and haul it to another room so it can be sorted. Yep. It's not very effective. But it works.

It's just a slow process.

I've just finished both linen closets and am now working on my walk-in closet. And my den. And am trying to work on a plan to allow me to start painting, decorating and landscaping .

Needless to say, there are piles everywhere!! I wish I could take a week or two to get this house in order. Of course, if I did, I'd probably just move everything to a storage building and start all over.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

reemerge

I'm 35 now. I'm not really sure how that happened.

Obviously years have passed, the clock silently ticking away each second of every day, but the crescendo has suddenly crashed over me, bringing with it the realization that two or three years have passed. The waves have receded and somehow I'm still here, a bit damp, a bit winded from the exertion and much farther down the shore than where I began.

I have survived another growth spurt.

I always know when my son is headed into a growth spurt - his feet suddenly get huge, disproportionately larger than the rest of him and his cheeks puff out as though he were squirreling away food.

Apparently my growth spurts are a bit harder to forecast as I rarely see them coming. It would seem, however, that they begin with some great pain, great shock or at the very least, some great frustration that leaves me questioning every aspect of my life. This, inevitably, leads to a restless, discontent state of mind that wavers between mild annoyance at and an incredible hatred for the world around me. I pull away, as much in an effort to protect everyone else as in an effort to protect myself.

And I float.

Or at least that's how it seems when I'm in the midst of that sea - as though I am merely drifting along, trying very hard not to make any waves because I am so unsure as to the direction I am supposed to be paddling. Yet it never fails when I emerge on that shining shore that I discover I have, at least, been paddling quite ferociously in an effort to keep my head above water.

So now, here I am, on the shores of middle age and at times, I wonder if I haven't reemerged in an entirely new life. I think I like it here.

I can almost hear many of you groaning in protest at my assertion that I've reached middle age and you're right. I have, most likely, passed middle age at this point. I'm ok with that too.

The cancer is cooperating, for the most part. I had my most recent surgery this past May, and was informed I needed another to address a different area, immediately afterwards. Well, they should have thought of that sooner. I'm busy living my life at the moment, and NOT hurting or recovering from surgery so they will just have to wait.

I've quit smoking. Finally. After all the attempts and gum and pills and patches, it really was as simple as my husband said, "the trick to not smoking is simply to, um, not smoke." I haven't had a cigarette since June and now consider myself to be a "non-smoker." My house, car, clothes and hair certainly smell infinitely better and I now have much more disposable income, but I can't tell any real difference in how I feel.

It could be that the 30 pounds I've gained are now weighing me down as much as the tar was before. In all fairness I can't blame all 30 pounds on my giving up the filthy habit. At least half of it has most likely come from the beta blockers.

Those are new. It would seem that all these years I've been complaining of excessive fatigue, muscle weakness, etc. there was a legitimate medical reason - quite simply my ticker doesn't tick right. I seem to remember mentioning an "irregular heartbeat" with each complaint to my doctor over the years, but what do I know, I'm just a mere patient and a woman to boot!

After the chest pain became constant and began being coupled with nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness and jaw pain, I took it upon myself to go stress test, echo-cardiogram and holter monitor later we have learned that I have not one, but two leaky valves, like to jump in and out of SVT and A-Fib and my pressure tries really hard to compensate for my rate. Nice.

That was the easy part. Finding what caused it has proven more difficult. But HAPPY BIRTHDAY, by the way, I think you may have had rheumatic fever when you were little.

Wow. Really?

And you are just now, on my 35th birthday, after at least ten years of watching my frustration over doctors discounting my complaints and ignoring my conviction that there was something just "not right" that made me feel like shit...you are just now thinking that a history of rheumatic fever is worth mentioning??

Wow. Thanks. That is very helpful. Would have been even more helpful TEN YEARS AGO!!!

Patience, forgiveness, acceptance...these are the themes of my most recent growth spurt.