Train-ing

Because I am dealing with an enormous amount of grief, I try to look for simple things that become huge because my expectations are low. I suppose that’s one of the things the death of a parent changes about you. Generally, nothing can get any worse, so it takes very little to make things better. One of the things that always gets me is the train. Someone else is in charge.

I can just sit there and listen to music, or podcasts, or read my current favorite book (I don’t have a favorite book, just the next one, always hungry). It is comforting not to worry about pissing off other drivers, or other drivers running into me, or any number of things that could go wrong when I have control… or think I do.

There are also times I just stare out the window, writing in my head. I can’t do that while I’m driving because I get too distracted to think about what is happening around me. I think so hard I go deaf.

I think about Hannah, my niece, still in the hospital but out of PICU. I think about my mom and what she might have become since she’d just retired about six months before she died. I think about how much it hurts me to know she was only retired long enough to get bored, but not long enough to think about fixing it… not because she wasn’t creative enough to get a new life together. She took a couple of vacations and was then confined to her house with a broken foot. I suggested that when she got better, maybe she should think about yoga, or any number of classes just to get out of the house and see what she liked.

She did not get better.

The broken leg beget an embolism, which beget a full day of picking out a casket, a grave site, and trying like hell to hold it together. No one expected me to, I just did it. I am not okay with breaking down in public. It scares me to be that vulnerable. I used to be. Now I’m not. As I’ve gotten older, the anxiety outweighs the comfort of people seeing that I’m upset and responding. I don’t want you to respond. I want to be left alone. Right up until I don’t.

As painful as it was to divorce Dana before my mother died, I am somewhat glad she wasn’t there through the process. She was the first person I called, the only one I wanted in those first few moments. As time progressed and I became internally angry at my friends who still had mothers, I wouldn’t have wanted to be jealous and emotionally crispy with her, because it wasn’t a passing thing. It was constant. She would not have had a frame of reference for my pain, and I wouldn’t have had the words to explain it.

Though I later treasured these words because of how True™ they were, I even got irrationally angry at an e-mail that said, my mother is still alive, but her death will bring me to my knees. Over time, they became a mantra, because I wasn’t expected to have it together. It was supposed to hurt. But in the exact moment that I read it, I popped off and thought, well, lucky for me I’m dealing with it and not you. By the grace of God I did not say it out loud on my usual “think it, say it” plan. Time had a way of softening that first reaction, and those words run through my mind often, because she got it. She didn’t have to experience it firsthand to know how much I was hurt, and would continue to struggle my entire life. The fight uphill changes, but it does not leave, not ever.

If I am so lucky as to live another 30-40 years, even those birthdays will still be bittersweet. Even though having a birthday is a happy thing, the traditions that my mom started for me will not be there. Just because that much time will have passed does not mean I’ve forgotten anything.

There are moments I forget, though, because since my mom wasn’t a part of my daily life for most of my adulthood it is very easy for me to pick up the phone to call her. With the phone in my hand, the crippling realization will often bring me to my own knees. The jigsaw puzzle that is my mind is permanently missing a piece, like it was shoved under the couch three houses ago, but the box is still on the shelf. You can’t throw away a puzzle you’ve been working on that long even if there’s always going to be a hole in it.

In retrospect, I should have sold my car when my mother died, because I did not realize that I would not be a capable driver for a long time to come. Studies have shown that distracted driving is sometimes worse than having a few drinks. Although I couldn’t have blamed my accident on distracted driving that day, I often non-maliciously cut people off or had a near miss because I just didn’t see them…. and if I’d had a wreck with actual people, my mother’s death would have just been seen as an excuse if their parents were still alive, because they would not have known what a permanent daze it causes, and how you don’t even realize it at the time. I liken it to breaking a bone and being more likely to break another one because you’re off-kilter. You don’t realize your capacity for extra disaster, but it happens. There’s no way to avoid being clumsy on crutches.

I am thankful that I have been alone through this process, because extra disaster could have been emotional. I couldn’t hurt anyone because I wouldn’t interact…. or at least, not enough to move past small talk. I began hiding my grief, because I couldn’t stand That Look.™ If you’ve ever lost anyone close to you, you’ll know exactly what I mean. The moment the subject of your parent or parents’ death comes up, the air changes and awkward becomes onomatopoeia. People don’t know what to say, are afraid of saying the wrong thing, and without meaning to, you’ve sucked the life out of the conversation. Death is gravity’s rainbow, the verbal parabolic trajectory of a missile that launches without warning.

Me: My mom used to X.
Them: Oh, how is your mom? I haven’t seen her in ages.
Me: She died about a year ago.
Them: ………………….

And like that, the whistle with Doppler effect begins.

There’s just no way around it. You can’t just say she’s fine and move on for avoidance, because first of all, it’s a lie, and second of all, I don’t want to have to deal with why didn’t you tell me?

Because I wanted to keep having a normal conversation is not a valid answer. For me, the answer has been in avoiding all conversation. It doesn’t work for everyone. Some people are verbal processors, and I can’t say that I’m not…. but it’s a different kind of thing to process in writing without expecting or necessarily wanting a response. I only have to keep up my end of the conversation, and I’ve been good company so far.

Or at least, that’s what I tell myself as I see the train arriving.

The Sitrep

Hannah is very sick. She went into the hospital with bronchitis,hannah_solo and was admitted to the PICU almost immediately. The doctors now think she has a bacterial infection in addition, so we’re all sending our best thoughts her way. If you have an extra minute, could you send her some love? I know she’ll get it. Love doesn’t even have to have a postmark…. it just wings its way there. Though she’s having a rough day today, her doctors are fantastic and her prognosis is that she’ll be out of PICU by Tuesday or so. But as every parent and worried aunt knows, outlook means nothing until it actually occurs.

She looks so tiny hooked up to all those machines, but having held her in my arms, I know she’s bigger than she seems and a total fighter. Hannah Solo, indeed. #lightsabernotincluded

I’m going about my day, but thinking about her. This has led to some very interesting events, such as accidentally putting cayenne in my oatmeal instead of pumpkin pie spice.

It’s hard to be away from my family when things like this happen, because thinking good thoughts and hoping for the best is literally all I can do from here. I just have to put my faith in both The Great Physician and in hers….. praying on the words, and the spaces in between.

#prayingonthespaces

 

The Resurrection Has Begun

Yesterday was red-letter for me, albeit a bit scary in multiple ways.

At 1:00 PM, I met with a recruiter in downtown Silver Spring face-to-face, something about which I was incredibly anxious. I felt the fear and did it, anyway. My comfort zone is Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn, and the hundreds of e-mails that come to me from recruiters in the area because my job profiles are listed as “actively looking.” I’ve gotten lots of bites this way, but as my father reminded me, my personality is usually what gets me jobs- impossible to show off over e-mail… well, not impossible, because I’m generally funny and engaging in cover letters to stand out, but the whole package is somewhat hidden.

I got lucky because the recruiter had literally gotten a call not an hour before about a job, therefore I was the first and so far, only candidate. He looked at my resume and thought I might be perfect for it, given my wide range of past experiences. He said to call him back on Monday at 11:00 AM and he’d tell me what the employer said…. but he didn’t think it would be a problem. My only issue is that it’s a contract that only lasts until August, so there are two things I need to do in response. The first is to continue my job search starting in June, and the second is to try my best to make myself invaluable so that there’s no reason for the contract to end…. possibly getting hired as a full-time employee.

The job itself is part customer service, part marketing analyst. It is responding to surveys in the Office of Government Affairs given to it by the Library of Congress, and creating new surveys after the response part is complete. Basically, the Library of Congress wants to know how it’s doing when people visit. I’m a voracious reader and writer. The Library of Congress is my jam. If I get this job, I will be over the moon. It will be a chance to showcase what I do best- talking to people and writing content for both web & print. You’d think I’d be awful at talking to people, but I am engaging and funny and not anxious at all when the conversation is for work. Anxiety about cold-calling is not an issue, because I don’t have to come up with things to say on the spot. Writing? Amazing. Off the cuff? Hit or miss (in the moment, it is often “I’m sorry, what are words again?”). Plus, working for the government I’d get more days off than everyone else. 😛

The hourly wage is more than I’ve ever made in my life, but there’s a reason for it. Because I’m not a full-time employee, I have to cover my own insurance. At that rate, I cannot continue to be on state-run programs. Now THAT irritates my anxiety. No private insurance is as good as the one I’ve got now. All my doctors’ appointments and therapy sessions are free (no-copay at all), and my medications are a dollar a bottle. Plus, Vesta does not take private insurance, so I’d have to leave both Leighton (my psychiatric nurse practitioner) and Sarah (my therapist).

I hate the thought of starting over with a new therapist, especially if I do not get a job right away after August and am back with Sarah again, having missed over eight months with her. Perhaps that will not happen, though, because this recruiting agency seems solid, and even if I have to go a couple of weeks to a month without a contract, that’s ok. I can save up enough to float me if necessary, thanks to that insane hourly wage. I have no doubt that my hourly would go down as a permanent employee, more than made up by a government benefits package. It’s exciting to think about embarking on this new path, because for over a year, I have felt dead inside.

One of the hallmarks of a parent dying is that a part of you dies, as well. The will to live life to the fullest is wrested away from you in favor of “what’s the point? They’re not there to see it.” Looking for a job is the one area of my life in which I have no problem, because applications are rote. Trying to fund my own dreams is another thing entirely. I’d like to work for myself by starting a homeless ministry, but that is the point at which I’ve felt the most ennui. My mother will not be there when I graduate from college and grad school, will not be there for my ordination ceremony, and will definitely not be there to play the piano and direct the choir while I find my own “Ed McMahon.”

Things looking up has provided me a way to start believing in myself again. This has been a garbage dump of a year, being so close to getting several jobs and then not, fighting the worthlessness of having nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Well, that’s not entirely honest. I’ve enjoyed working on myself and several different writing projects that may or may not earn money in the future. Time will tell once they are finished. I decided early on not to do NaNoWriMo this year, because it requires an entirely new idea and not a work in progress, as well as a time commitment I planned not to have. My works in progress are more important to me than trying to come up with something new. I dropped working on -frog.-, however, because the original idea was to explain the trilogy of Dana, Argo, and me in fiction…. and I just don’t have it in me to spend that much time thinking about them anymore. However, my memory is long, and maybe I’ll go back to it in five or ten years, once the grief has faded and I can look at the situation without exploding the land mines therein.

My main work in progress is a child/young adult novel called Fish Ralph, of which you can read an unedited and entirely off-the-cuff first chapter. I sent it to several middle school kids and teachers. The feedback I got encouraged me to not ask the teachers anymore. They thought it was too wordy, and something kids wouldn’t like. The kids ate it up.

Restarting that work was just one more step in raising my self esteem, especially when my sister said she was dying to hear what happened to Sarah and David Michael. One note- when you get to the part about geez, is the bike ok?,” I stole that from a story my first boyfriend, Ryan, told me about his dad. Now, his dad was just being funny. Sarah’s dad is just that clueless. Credit where credit is due.

On to the rest of my yesterday.

At 3:00, I went to donate platelets. I was pleased when I found out that my iron level had gone from 11.7 to 13.9. I passed with flying colors and they hooked me up to the machine. I wore all the winter clothes I could find, because when you’re giving platelets, your body temperature drops significantly and you cannot stop shivering. About 30 minutes before I was done, my body temperature spiked and I was so warm I had a vaso vagel reaction and almost fainted and vomited at the same time. They gave me some ice cold paper towels and orange juice, but it did not help, so they brought me a trash bag in order to try and keep me going. It didn’t help, either, so they stopped the treatment early. Because I was only 30 minutes from finishing, I don’t know if they had enough platelets to be useful, but the important thing is that I did it. It was excruciating to get ready, because you cannot take any NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug- basically anything in the aspirin category) for two days before you give, so my arthritis was extraordinarily painful despite Tylenol. Plus, it was pouring down rain, so I took an Uber pool both because I did not want to wait for 30 minutes for the bus in the rain, and because I was running a little short on time. This backfired, because two other people joined my pool and I was dropped off last, making me 45 minutes late for my appointment. You only have a 15-minute grace period, so I was lucky they took me at all. Sometimes a couple of dollars cheaper is not better.

Even though I felt like death warmed over, I pushed through to make it home on public transportation, because Uber was spiked at that hour. Even a carpool was $20. I was so out of it, though, that I added time on my commute because I completely walked past Farragut North and ended up at Farragut West. However, that’s not important. I wasn’t trying to make it to another appointment, just home. My biggest concern was not throwing up on another passenger, which I thankfully did not. By the time I reached Silver Spring station, the Uber spike had ended, so I gratefully paid the four bucks to get home. My Uber driver was new to the area and despite navigation, missed every turn. But that was okay- we were having a wonderful time talking. I wish I had gotten her number, because we could have talked for another four hours…. and what person new to the area doesn’t need friends?

We were in the same boat- she’s two years older than me and still has a year and a half left on her Bachelor’s thanks to having two kids very, very young. Now, her kids are both in college and I told her that was somewhat lucky, because as a young empty nester, she actually has the energy to work and go to school. She laughed and said, “truth.” She said her youngest just started at Howard, and I became animated- “that’s where I want to go!!!” I started talking about my dreams to finish my degree and go on to their UCC-affiliated seminary, and for the first time in a year, I felt passion about it.

It’s funny how things change. When I first got to Maryland, I wanted to go to seminary in Virginia to become an Episcopal priest, jokingly joining what they call “the Virginia Mafia.” What changed my outlook is that I did not want to use the Book of Common Prayer at every service, because I am talented at writing my own liturgy. In the Episcopal church, this is just not done. My ultimate goal is to create an Anglican-inspired service, because there are elements I love. For instance, the choir will have to be in cassocks and surplices. There are just no other options. For starters, they are WAY more comfortable than those polyester piece of crap robes. Plus, most cassocks have slits where you can reach your pockets. Invaluable to me as a singer for Kleenex and cough drops, as well as being able to pull out my phone for pictures, video, and recording the sermon…. although I don’t know how I feel about recording everything I have to say. Sometimes my sermons are brilliant and engaging. Sometimes I feel as if I am a danger to this profession…. there is no in between.

It is weird how the sermons you think are total pieces of crap you phoned in are sometimes the ones people like, and the ones you think are brilliant and engaging just don’t connect. Every Sunday is just a complete crapshoot, and pretty much every preacher alive would agree with me. I remember a story from long ago about a bishop who was asked the best thing about retirement. He said, stopping the interminable march of Sundays. It’s funny ’cause it’s true. Coming up with sermons and liturgy is not unlike the writing schedule at Saturday Night Live. Sometimes your best ideas come to you at 2:00 Sunday morning. Even better ones come to you the moment you step down from the pulpit. 😛

All I have to say in conclusion is that it’s nice to feel something again…. regaining the piece of me I thought was lost to history, feeling the resurrection coming in the middle of the mess.

Amen.
#prayingonthespaces

On Death and Dying

So, in my last entry, I mentioned my friend Donna Schuurman. What I did not say is that she used to be the Executive Director for The Dougy Center, a place for kids to go when someone close to them dies, such as a parent or sibling. Donna is often called in when tragedies happen all over the world, because grieving children know no national boundaries. But this story is one that has to be told, because she was preaching at Bridgeport UCC when she told it, and I laughed so hard that I thought I was going to asphyxiate. Whenever I feel really, really down about my mother dying, I remember this illustration, and I feel 100% better.

I’m not sure if she still lives in the same house, but when I lived in Portland, her next door neighbor was a five-year-old boy named Jackson. Now, Jackson had a much beloved cat that unfortunately passed away, and his mother was not sure how much, at five, Jackson knew about death. So, she told Jackson that his cat had gone to be with God.

Without missing a beat, Jackson turned to his mother and said………

Wait for it………

What would God want with a dead cat?

Shoes

I screamed at God for the starving child until I saw the starving child was God screaming at me.

-Unknown

I am getting more and more angry that responding my thoughts & prayers are with you is becoming a sarcastic joke. I live by two axioms. The first is Anne Lamott’s saying that there are really only three prayers:

  • Help
  • Thanks
  • Wow

The second is what I call “the Donna Schuurman corollary.” Now, Donna is a personal friend and I doubt you’ll find this in any of her published books…. but she says that there is one perfect, end-of-the-rope and it’s fraying prayer…. Shit, God.

I suppose that it would fall under “help,” but just doesn’t have the same impact…. but it helps. It’s the prayer I prayed when Dana and I got a divorce. It’s the prayer I prayed when Argo said, no more. It’s the prayer I prayed minute by minute, hour by hour to get through those first few days of my mother’s death…. although I will say that I found “thanks” and “wow” when I bothered to look.

I will be the first to tell you that I have no idea what happens when I pray on the other end of that connection. In the words of C.S. “Jack” Lewis, I don’t pray because it changes God. I pray because it changes me. You, and only you, have to decide if it really matters whether some celestial being is listening, or whether the function of prayer is to find your own still, small voice, uninterrupted by the noise of the world. In that space, something happens. Does it matter whether it comes from an internal or an external source? I believe it does, but not enough to be rigid about it.

My philosophy 101 class was very interesting. We spent the first half proving that God exists, and the second proving that God doesn’t. Of course, I use “proof” in the geometric sense, not that there is any real evidence one way or the other. Pete Rollins, in an interview with Rob Bell, said something that’s stuck with me for over a year. He said that atheists and theists are one of the great love stories, that each needs the other…. that there is God/Not God, and the truth is in the slash…. but before I ever heard of Pete Rollins, I discovered that religion was not unlike sexuality… a spectrum in which some people stay at the poles their entire lives, and some move freely back and forth.

This is because too much happens in the world for most people to eschew doubt…. and still others in their piety are too ashamed to admit that when the shit hits the fan, they wonder where in the hell God has been, is, will be………………..

I have said it before, and I will say it again. I choose to believe that God is not the Actor. God is the Responder. Where is God as people are being gunned down in the streets, at concert venues, movie theaters, schools… or worse, in a place that has long been identified as sanctuary…. literally and figuratively. When you claim sanctuary, that is the moment that violence is supposed to stop. Because it didn’t happen to me, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have that feeling ripped away. We of the Religious Left chose to move away from Jonathan Edwards’ now famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, long ago. We do not believe in the hand of God that would drop us, but catch. So if you ask where God is, know that God is weeping with the families of the dead, and supporting the injured in their hour of need. Not only that, if you need to feel angry with God and rail at all the injustices, go right ahead. God is big enough to handle it.

I am tired of seeing “thoughts and prayers” as some people’s choice shitty retort. This is because thoughts and prayers mean two things to me:

  1. We live in a dangerous world with many injustices that will not get fixed overnight without our help. I hold space not only for my own responses, but for the worry and care of first responders. I am not fire, police, military, or diplomat. Prayer is a way to get in touch with the part of me that bleeds for the people in front of and behind the news. As an empath, I feel pain all across the world, and it needs somewhere to go. Every single person I’ve known in those dangerous fields has said not to worry- if something terrible happens, we will have died doing something we trained for because we love what we do. I have found over time that those words bring me little comfort, but my worry is not their problem. Whether or not there is a God, it brings me peace to pray for the lives of the victims and the people in charge of rescuing them and getting them to safety, or getting their bodies back to their families so that they may say a proper goodbye.
  2. Prayer is not always solitary. Once you find the center of your being, your True North, it is time to act. One of the greatest prayers I’ve ever prayed was walking downtown with thousands and thousands of women as we fought for our rights whether anyone was listening or not. I was one of the first “crazy liberals” to march like hell against the Iraq war, before the rest of the country caught up to what we were screaming. I’ve talked to homeless people in my own city, asking them what they need, rather than trying to guess. Prayer is almost nothing without shoe leather, but one has to beget the other. It is the first line of defense against pouring from an empty cup.

Prayer is holding space for the safety and security of the people you love, as well as being able to go deep and figure out what you really think. Some people call that meditation. Some people enter that space while exercising. I am not worried about the semantics, only the function.

I will never be worried about the semantics, unless you (plural) are using it as a euphemism for lazy. Like Jesus, I go into my room to pray and close the door…. but I emerge with my shoes on.

Amen.
#prayingonthespaces

 

Standing Outside the Fire

My Kindle Fire has a slow processor. Not a big deal, except when I started it this morning, I clicked on my WordPress app and it said that the SD card where I’d stored the application wasn’t available, and I needed to re-download it. At roughly 0600, I am slow on the uptake, and I started to panic. Almost immediately, I thought, “JFC. I’m going to have to go back to factory settings to fix this thing.” Because that’s what I do. I get enough of tech support to last my whole life when I’m working. I don’t fix my own computers for shit. I keep everything in the cloud and on a 3 TB backup drive so that if anything goes wrong, I am free to wipe any device and just start over. It is my go-to answer for anything and everything.

I realize how ridiculous this sounds, especially since I am really good at troubleshooting problems on every operating system imaginable. But think of it this way…….. when I was working in a restaurant, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook for myself….. and that attitude has lasted for quite a while. I would much rather run on sandwiches/not dogs, snacks, and Cheerios with yogurt than stand in front of the stove. Part of it is indolence. Part of it is that meals have ceased to be an event. I need fuel, not fancy. When I got that through my head, my whole attitude toward food changed.

When I cook, I want to use all the classic techniques I’ve been taught, plate beautifully, etc. That pretty much means a thousand calories more than my computer ass needs…. and that’s a thing. My musician friends call it piano butt…. although I am sure that playing the piano is much more of a workout than playing the keyboard…. or maybe not, since I type 80 wpm on a bad day (let’s be clear- I type that fast when I’m thinking, but not nearly as fast when I’m copying something that can’t be cut and pasted, like a document….. and I’m too cheap to pay for good OCR software).

Speaking of documents, for one job in which I applied, I have no idea why, but they wanted a copy of my driving record. I ordered it over the Internet (not cheap), and it came with password protection. In order to upload it, instead of using OCR, I just printed it and rescanned it to a PDF. The encryption wasn’t hard, just my driver license number, but what employer wants to go through all that shit?

In case you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, I haven’t had a wreck or a ticket in three years and three months, which means everything on my record has fallen off for insurance purposes. That may change with this latest wreck because I was ticketed for failure to control my speed, which basically means I wasn’t speeding per se, just going too fast for that curve since it wasn’t marked. And paying the city back comes out of the property damage part of my insurance, and I don’t know if that adds points to my insurance or not. I’ll have to ask my aunt, because even though she doesn’t write for Maryland, it would be easy enough for her to find out.

That being said, I have no plans to get a “new to me” car anytime soon. This is because when I am forced to walk everywhere, my depression fades into the background without having to buy a gym membership. Even the Y is expensive…. although I can’t help it. I saw on a Facebook image a copy of the application for the Y, and when asked how the client heard about the YMCA, he put The Village People. I am driving that into the ground for all eternity. Every Y application I fill out. Every. Single. One.

When DDD (Darling Dangerous Dana) and I lived in Portland, there was a YMCA that had pay as you go. It was like, $3.50 a visit. So perhaps I will call them and see if they have the same deal. I think it would be fun to walk to the Metro and back (about four miles) and then get into a hot tub almost as large as a swimming pool. My bathtub just cannot compete.

Walking downtown is infinitely easier than taking the bus. That is because the bus that picks me up at the end of my street (closer than the school bus when I was in elementary school) only runs about every half hour or so, whereas the bus that runs along Hwy. 29, Colesville Rd., runs every 10. However, in order to get to the direction toward downtown, you have to cross that busy highway in front of drivers who rarely, if ever, notice you at the crosswalk. I have almost been hit a number of times, and Franklin Ave., the crosswalk that has a light, has no sidewalk down to Colesville. I run the likelihood of getting hit either way, unless I manage to catch the 14. That bus is rad, though, because one direction goes directly to the Silver Spring Metro stop, and the other way goes directly to Takoma Park, where my favorite restaurant is located about three blocks away, Busboys & Poets. There are many in the city, but Takoma Park is so easily accessible that I’ve been to very few of the others. Taking the Metro is paramount, though, because parking is so limited Jesus might come before you get a space. It’s one of the few places I took my mom while she was here, so I also have that memory to tie me there… even more so that she liked it and thought it was cool.

The other thing that made me so happy is that she didn’t rent a car while she was here, because she wanted to see how I got around and see how my life really worked. We took public transportation everywhere, and it was so much fun to, for once, have someone sit next to me on every trip for a week. The only thing that went wrong is that my mom and I almost got separated on the Yellow Line, and I got stuck in the doors trying to keep my mom from wandering off without me, because trust me when I say that she was directionally challenged and being separated would not have ended well… especially since I didn’t have time to tell her to just wait for me in the station because the next train was only four minutes away.

They finally noticed me an opened the doors again in order to keep me from riding with half my body outside the car…. but I often wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t. #gozoey

Kevin Spacey. Gotta talk about it. You knew I would. Talk about standing outside the fire. That bastard blamed his behavior on drunkenness and gave every evangelical Christian in the nation reason to believe what they already do….. that pedophilia and homosexuality are the same. Luckily, there are less people on that bandwagon than there used to be, but how DARE he.

In the Catholic church, no communion wine is allowed to be left over at the end of the service. It’s like blaming raping an altar boy because the priest had to celebrate five times in a row.

Gay people aren’t predators. PREDATORS are predators.

Once more for the people in the back………

GAY PEOPLE AREN’T PREDATORS. PREDATORS ARE PREDATORS.

If you read the story in its entirety, Spacey got this kid alone (classic looking for a target) and then got on him like white on rice before this kid even knew what was happening to him.

Well, there goes watching Glengarry Glen Ross again.

Maybe Kevin Spacey should just GO TO LUNCH.

Standing inside the fire, because go to hell. I’ve spent too much time with too many narcissists to think you’ll ever change, and I won’t even give you the benefit of the doubt. You can share a table with Sam Adams, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, and Mark Saling.

You can all deal with the heat together… and if, by some chance, hell freezes over, I hope it’s still cold enough to burn your skin off.

This is where I say the part where I’ve gone into my “nothing box,” and my actions will never meet up with my angry words. I’m not going to slice off their heads, but I for damn sure am going to fantasize about it…..

Standing outside the fire.

Sometimes

Sometimes I wish my mother hadn’t died. The reason I say only sometimes instead of all the time is that there isn’t a damn thing I could have done to save her, and there’s not a damn thing I could do to bring her back. Therefore, thinking that every day is just a way to drive myself crazy, and if the past is any indication, it’s not that far a trip. The flight attendants don’t even have enough time to bring out the drink cart.

I’m still waiting for what Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant call post-traumatic growth. It’s possible that it’s happening already, but because I talk to myself every day, I don’t see the changes that come over a year. I can look back at past blog entries to get an idea, but it’s not the same. If I look back by reading, it’s almost as if what went on happened to someone else. It’s been the best way I know how to forgive myself… having the deep knowing that I would forgive this foreign person much more easily than I’d forgive me. It’s how I’ve gotten through every bad thing that’s happened over the last four years. It’s become clear to me that I can’t atone for every wrong, but I can pray and change my behavior accordingly so that I don’t make the same mistakes again. At the very least, I can move on to make new ones. Perhaps that is the post-traumatic growth I’ve been looking for in the first place. I am learning to give up on perfection and become satisfied with excellence…. because perfectionist anxiety is crippling.

For instance, I wanted to be the perfect wife and friend. I ended up behaving so badly that I didn’t even recognize myself. My moral compass became smashed glass and metal on the floor, and I had to learn how to fix it on my own, without any YouTube videos, Google searches, or even card catalogs. Though therapy is helping me cope, no one gets better only focusing on themselves and their goals for one hour a week. It has been backbreaking, mind-bending work to get back to the person I was before I started vomiting up the emotions surrounding emotional abuse that as a teenager, I didn’t recognize or even have words to explain…. with the added bonus of being sent to therapy and, not wanting to get anyone in trouble, danced around every issue; I talked for an hour without saying anything. Therapy as a teenager was something I was asked to do; it was not anything I would have chosen on my own.

That being said, I had to take a battery of multiple choice tests that revealed just how broken and screwed up I was, because I couldn’t figure out how to outsmart those. So, my therapist knew exactly how worthless I felt, exactly how low my self-esteem really was, and exactly how much I needed them. And yet, you can’t help a little old lady across the street if she doesn’t want to go.

However, those emotions couldn’t stay locked down forever… and it only took 23 years. Finally talking scraped off every scab, and cut down into fully-formed scars. I didn’t so much get over anything as stuff it down and pretend it never happened. I didn’t know it at the time, but moving to Portland was just an opportunity for it to be proven to me over and over that really, nothing happened, and I was crazy to think so… to the point where I would swear on a stack of Bibles that it was gospel truth… because why would anyone who claimed to love me so much cover up truth like that? I exhibited every symptom of trauma. I was coached on what to say. I was told that my past was just this big bag of shit I’d been carrying around forever, and I needed to just let it go…. but as anyone who has lived through emotional trauma knows, it’s impossible until you find the problem… that not letting go is not a function of not wanting it to happen.

It’s a function of reliving what happened over and over and over and over ad nauseam because you can’t figure out whether what you think happened or not. Confusion wracks your brain because gaslighting causes you to doubt your own version of events, your truth. Your intuition battles your programming, as if you are living with a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. It’s just one rumination after another…. this big bag of shit you carry around forever and just need to let it go…. but it’s the emotional equivalent of telling someone with depression to snap out of it. Well, Jesus H. Christ. I wish I’d thought of that.

In a way, though, I did snap out of it. The atomic bomb has dropped, but I am still working through the repercussions. I liken it to a local band that’s been together for 15 years being called an overnight success. In my case, though, it’s the reverse. There was a snap of recognition, and then a therapist who told me it would take five or ten years to really feel well…. and even then, it would be a lifetime of choosing healthy patterns in order not to fall back on old, damaged ones. All of my relationships have fallen prey to them in varying degrees, which is why it has been essential for me to create brand new relationships with the new context I’ve been given; my past is not a factor and I cannot be reminded of it from people who didn’t know me before…. when I was completely in the throes of grief, rage, and poor impulse control.

Poor impulse control is a function of ADHD, but compounds exponentially with trauma, because especially when fear presents as rage, you cannot give yourself enough time to weigh consequences and form measured responses. The phrase even keel is not even in your vocabulary in those moments. Cortisol and sin races through your brain because you do not have the ability to second guess. I’ve talked to too many people who have gone through this scenario to know that I’m not special. In terms of fight or flight, trauma-related rage doesn’t even present flight as an option. In those moments, you’re just a loose cannon unfocused on a target, often choosing……………. poorly. You can’t even tell yourself to calm the fuck down, and God help anyone who decides to say it to you.

But most of that rage boils down to one thing; I have to push you away because I am not worthy of your time or energy because I have the capability to destroy you with my pain, even when you say you can take it and there’s no way I can mess you up. This is because in almost every case, you can’t get angry with the person who deserves it. They disappear and leave you to sit in your own tangled knot, because surely they’re not responsible.

While it is true that adults often abuse each other, the most insidious type of abuse is emotional between an adult and a child, because the child automatically believes that whatever is happening is their fault, because the adult is in a position of absolute power and control. Moreover, if no physical/sexual abuse happens, there is no clear message that anything wrong happened at all. I would never say that it is worse than raping or hitting a child. I would only say that it is more muddled and confusing because there is no line in the sand to go back as an adult and say you are definitely sure someone stepped over it. Many, many, many children have had their childhoods taken away earlier in much more horrible ways, and my heart bleeds out for them. But there is also no such thing as competitive suffering.

It’s not the same boat, but it’s the same ocean.

Emotional and physical abuse present with the same symptoms, much like addiction. Symptoms of addiction are the same whether it’s to drugs, alcohol, gambling/spending, food, or sex. I would compare addiction to food and sex to emotional abuse, because it’s harder to figure out addictions to things you need to live a healthy life vs. things you can do without. You need the right amount of food and sex in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Looking at the pyramid, I haven’t seen the right amount of cocaine yet.

If I extrapolate that into emotional abuse, I crave connection without abusing or enabling, codependency or projection.

In terms of how wishing my mother hadn’t died when she did works into all this is that she’ll never get to see me as a truly happy adult…. thriving instead of barely surviving for years on end…. or worse, just flat-out lying about how I was feeling in order to Suit Up.™ At the very least, I was able to take off the mask for three years, but there should have been so many more. In terms of recovery, three years is the blink of an eye.

Which is exactly how fast I lost her.