Monday, December 23, 2013

The longest hiatus since the last long hiatus...

Well, that was certainly a long break, even though it was nothing like anything that would even closely resemble a "break". Where have I been? (asked no one, ever.) Eh, I've been around. In all honestly I've been sitting right here, in this very seat. So close. So very, very close and yet so fucking far away.

I wish I could say it was something exciting and fabulous that kept me away, but unfortunately, it was work. A lot of it. I worked days, some nights, and most weekends since the end of October. It was a nice run, but with Christmas, and winter and extra bills, I sit here today, two days before Christmas with nothing left to show for it. I'm trying to not to let it feel like it was all for nothing, but...well, it feels like it was all for nothing. *sigh*.

In other news, I finally broke down and made "the call" to my parents. Not before I had sent a second email, once again, trying to... I don't know... break through a brick wall? The response was generic, completely ignoring the issue at hand. If it wasn't for my Father's Birthday being at the beginning of December I would still be resisting contact. But my old friend, Guilt, stopped by for a visit and I had a hard time resisting his argument. I made excuses like, it's not his fault he can't stand up to her...and he's old now, he's set in his ways. He's from a different time. A time when parents didn't know anything. That last one made me laugh. Mostly because it's kind of true. So, anyway, I did the right (right?) thing and called to wish him a Happy Birthday after sending him a card with some Birthday money. I also spoke with my mother. After nearly three months of no contact, She acted as if nothing had happened. She addressed nothing I had confronted her about in my emails and she was almost cheerful. It was a difficult call for me for a few reasons. This "pretending" she does isn't new. This has gone on my whole life and was confusing at best, crazy making at it's worst. I dealt with it though. I put on my mask and pretended right along with her, talking about nothing of any real importance and only offering bits and pieces of information. Nothing more than I would share with a complete stranger. This seemed to make her happy. A week later her Birthday rolled around, so I repeated this same act of sending the card, money and making the call. The incident was almost identical to the one before, except for the part where I had to pick out the card. 

Mom, even when I was younger, I knew these things for sure...

We have such a special connection, Mom.

Mom, I love how easy it is to talk to you.

Happy Birthday to a good listener, a great friend...

You're incredible, Mom.

I've learned a lot from you, Mom...just by watching how you do things and how you approach life...

What is a Mom? She's words that encourage, hugs that care and hands that help when you need it the most.

Mom, what would I do without you? Who would I call when I'm having one of those days?

And on and on they went, one sappy card after another, filled with words like trust and love and talking and listening and closeness. I couldn't find anything at all that said..."Sorry we don't connect. Happy Birthday anyway!"  I finally settled on something I could have sent my elderly neighbor, along with Christmas cards and more money. 

That was a week or so ago. It's now two days before Christmas and I've yet to receive a Christmas card for either myself or my son. Should I be surprised?  No.  Of course not. I'm am not a stupid woman. I swear to you I am not and to prove it, I've decided that in 2014 I'm going to stop acting like one. 

Drink and be Festive! (My new Holiday wishes designed to offend only recovering alcoholics)

Hope, who only had this time to write because it got too dark to paint. Thank you, daylight savings time. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

99 Problems - Number Two

This is definitely a problem for me. Approaching a subject, whether it is because I feel hurt, ignored, mad, taken advantage of, used, dismissed, sad or whatever emotion may happen to be the result of another action. Before I approach the subject I experience an intense feeling of fear. I'm not sure why, except that maybe past experience has proven to me that sharing my feelings is wrong. I tend to latch on to a first experience and will assume that all experiences will be the same. While I know intellectually this isn't necessarily true, again, experience keeps proving to me, that yes, most times this is true.

I can rarely express any emotion that isn't positive without tears or without anger. And often times the tears are when I am angry, and the anger is when I am hurt. What normally happens if I have a problem I want to discuss with someone or if I feel like there is something that needs to get out in the open, I will be filled with fear. Fear of rejection, fear of indifference, fear of attack, fear of yelling, fear of dismissal, and fear of the ever famous eye roll. That fear then turns into anxiety, as most difficult emotions do when you are not allowed to release them. The anxiety turns to panic and before you know it I'm sick. Physically sick and taking medication to try to control this tornado inside of me. The problem is I don't want it to be this way, and as much as I don't believe anything in this life, I somehow manage to muster up a tiny bit of hope. Hope that it doesn't have to be this way. Hope that I can be brave and voice my feelings and they might be heard. They might be understood.

So, I do. Not even midway through I start to see all my initial fears becoming realities, which reaffirms that I shouldn't share my feelings with anyone. Midway through I start to absorb the emotions of the other person. The anger. The denial. The yelling. That I'm not cut out for the type of communication where people aren't allowed to communicate. I'm not cut for the type of communication where you can't actually say what you feel, without being condemned.

In the end, I do what I always do. I write and turn in all inward. Each time it chips away at my connection with other people. It validates my mistrust. And it sets me apart in a way, that getting back ends up being a long, hard, painful journey. One that I start to doubt is even worth the trip anymore.

Simple? Nothing is simple.

In unrelated, but somewhat related news, I took a step today. I finally responded to my mother's email. After the last two months of letting it eat me alive, this morning something happened that made me realize when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. When you have nothing to lose, what's left to fear?

It was fairly short and straight to the point. I stressed why I hadn't contacted her, what I thought of her actions and behavior and I also expressed that I was not expecting her approval or understanding. That these were simply my feelings and why I have been avoiding contact.

I'm not sure what will happen next. I'm not sure I even care what happens next.

Hope, who only has 97 problems to go...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

99 Problems-Number One. Don't touch my shit.

Big problem. Huge. Huge Problem.

I have a friend on Facebook who's been posting these "Problems of an Aspie" for a while now and given the "lens" I see through they all ring true for me. I usually laugh when I read them because they are so familiar, but immediately after I laugh I feel a twinge (sometimes an intense twinge) of anxiety that each of these problems create. I thought it would be interesting, fun, a little scary and possibly therapeutic to elaborate a little more on each one and how it effects me personally. 

Problem #1. Other People touching my stuff. 

I hate this. I've always hated this. Even when I was child.  I knew I had to share my toys with my cousins, and being the agreeable, soft spoken little girl who never wanted to do anything wrong, I did. Still, I hated it, and god forbid  something ever got broken. There were inconsolable tears. It was the end of the world. The voice in my head would keep repeating, "I knew I shouldn't have let them play with it", over and over and over again. No one was responsible. No one was careful.  Honestly it was torture. I see these same tendencies in my son. He shares because he has to, but if it's something very important to him, he's started "hiding" those toys or objects so no one can get to them. 

I still have this problem as an adult. Luckily I don't have to share too much anymore, but even when my own child uses my iPad, I feel it. The anxiety. If he should happen to leave it on the floor that voice starts in again. It's automatic. It's involuntary. It just is. I simply don't like it. If I'm working on painting a doll, many times someone will come over to look at it (which I also hate, but working in the dining room leaves me little choice) and they will pick it up. Pick. It. Up. And I think...who does that!?  Who just puts their hands all over someones work?  I've voiced my discomfort with it a few times, but usually it comes out as "please don't touch that...or please don't ruin it."  I end up seeming like a crazy person who is extremely over protective of her vinyl heads. And I guess, in a way, I am. What I would like is for people to respect that and just know that they aren't supposed to touch my work. Ever. It won't hurt them at all not to touch something that doesn't belong to them. And for me, it would eliminate a tremendous amount of anxiety and an overwhelming feeling of invasion. Its almost as if a complete stranger has just touched me. Without asking and without warning. To sum it up, it just plain sucks. 

Just this afternoon I had to attempt to reel in my reaction to another incident. I say incident because to me that is what it was. To my BF, it was probably nothing. I also say "attempt" because I'm sure I wasn't completely successful. The back story is I had blood drawn this morning, which turned out to be difficult because I'm dehydrated. I have been on and off for the past month and I'm trying to fix it. Water alone isn't doing the trick so I got Gatorade purposely on my way home. The back even further story is I do this often, BECAUSE I know I'm dehydrated and more times than not my BF takes it, drinks it, or gives it to his son before Hockey. To give him credit he usually does ask first, and because, in many ways, I'm still the agreeable, soft spoken little girl, I say Ok. But it is torture. Today, I couldn't say Ok. I said something like, "I bought that purposely because I'm dehydrated. I don't mean to be a bitch, but..." I think he said something's no big deal, relax. And most likely for him it is no big deal.  For me, however, it results in a full-on, internal Aspie Rant. 

You can't keep taking my Gatorade. I keep buying Gatorade and you keep taking my Gatorade. I take the time to plan and go to the store and buy what I need and you can't just take it because you don't want to take the time and plan and go the store. If you want Gatorade then say you want Gatorade when I ask you what you want at the store. Or leave early so you can stop and get your own Gatorade. If you buy something that you need I don't take it. I would never think to take it. And I hate it when you drink my water. 

Yeah. This is what happens. Luckily, it mostly remains internal, because, really, who would understand this? I sound like a crazy person going on and on about fucking Gatorade. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and restraint to keep these kind of thoughts from spilling from my lips. But unfortunately, the fact that I can't just let this out, is what makes the anxiety worse. I have to suppress my Sheldon Cooper like tendencies, because in real life, it's just not funny.  There is no laugh track. This type of ranting and raving will get me nothing but a diagnosis of certifiable. 

How to solve Problem Number One: Stop touching my shit. 

Hope, who lives in a place where nothing is simple. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

One tiny step for me. Mankind won't even notice.

Bonjour, mon petit poissons!  As you can tell, High School French didn't take me too far.

I am finally on the mend physically, I think. I'm finding some wood to knock on as we speak. After my first bout of sickness, I dove straight into a second, which has lasted much longer. If there was ever an argument against getting a flu shot, I would be it. I still have a little ways to go to be back to "normal" but the coughing has subsided and I'm sleeping. Can't really complain about that. Friday will tell if I'm in need of something stronger than just time to heal my raw and tired lungs. 

On the mental front, I'm still far from being mended. My stress level rises and falls with the tide it seems, but I'm sure it's because the situation with my parents is still unresolved and I still have no desire to think about it, let alone take action. 

Today, in therapy, we finally discussed another topic that has consumed my thoughts over most of this year, and has also seemed somewhat unresolved. Up until this point we have focused mostly on the anxiety and what causes it and what revolves around it and how to deal with it. Today, we finally talked about Asperger Syndrome. I've gotten to the point where I do feel a certain level of trust with my doctor and I value his opinion as a professional as well as a person. When he thinks something is bullshit, he's not afraid to say it. 

The subject was brought up originally in relation to Jack, because although he is doing much better this year at school and in life in general, than he was when we made and chickened out of the appointment with New England Mental Health, there is always something. That little something, in what he does, or what he says, or in what upsets him...that always brings it back to forefront. Not necessarily negative things. Just things that bring it all back and leave me questioning if I really am doing the right thing, by essentially, doing nothing. This weighs on me heavily, and I'm sure adds an invisible layer of stress and anxiety even when I'm not fully aware of it. Mostly I just needed an opinion. A professional opinion for once, to help me with the constant internal debate of " to diagnose or not to diagnose."  What I got was some long awaited peace of mind. 

Although, the discussion began with Jack, I could see the pieces of the puzzle falling together for him, almost the same as they had done for me months ago. To be honest, that didn't surprise me. What did surprise me, was his negative opinion of places like New England Mental Health, that focus their whole evaluation on deficits and problems and looking for what is "wrong".  This was one of the main reasons we backed out of the eval in the first place. I couldn't stand the thought of putting my child through that and somehow making him think there was something "wrong" with him. It really helped me to feel better about the decision to forgo the appt. Up until now I've felt like we just kind of "dropped the ball" and maybe did the wrong thing out of fear. After today, I don't feel that way anymore. I feel like we went with our "gut" and we made the best choice at that time. 

After giving him some of the background information as to why I've suspected it on and off since he was two, we talked more about how and when and if to make the decision to diagnose. What are the negative aspects? What are the benefits? Is it the end of the world if I don't pursue it for him now? I can't say I walked away from today's appointment with any information that I didn't already have, but I can say I walked away feeling much more confident in my instincts and my gut feelings. I walked away with a much lighter cloud hanging over my head.

My doctor did say, as I've already figured out myself, that one of the benefits of having a diagnosis is gaining knowledge to help you understand yourself better, and to help others understand you. To which he added, "But YOU already see things through that lens. You are helping him understand himself better than any team of therapists." And there it was. That was my answer. And that was my permission. My permission to stop doubting myself, and to keep on keeping on.

Hope, who feels validated and much less like a Crazy Muthah, after all. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Mind Body Connection

This past week was a real pain in the ass. I reached a critical point in my anxiety where my mind basically took control of my body. Aside from feeling sick and not being able to stay hydrated. I had head to foot muscle tension, tightness, pain...basically they were hard as a rock and tightening everywhere. From my legs, to my back to my head to my chest (making it hard to breath), to my throat (making it hard to swallow.)  To say that it sucked doesn't give it justice. I'm 90% sure this was a result of the past months activities and is proof that healing or sickness really does begin and end in the mind. My doctor believes it is possibly Myopathy, which doesn't dismiss the fact that it was brought on by chronic anxiety.  She also mentioned Neuropathy, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, other Autoimmune Disorders, and My Thyroid. All of which, in my opinion, can be exasperated by chronic stress. In any case, blood work is being done to at least find out once and for all what is going on. I tend to link everything to anxiety, and then once in a while I will think..."but shit...what if it's not?" I have real physical pain here. What if it's something else?  What if it's something that may even produce feelings of anxiety?  I try to keep these thoughts at bay because it ends up becoming a "What came first? The chicken or the egg?" scenario. So hopefully, answers will be on the way soon.

Ironically during this pain in the ass week, I was really attempting to help myself, or at least help my body. Green drinks, eating well, Yoga, walking. Perhaps I sent my own body into shock and it was all, "what the fuck!?  Where's my cake and Starbucks?"  And then it just got so pissed it just decided to attack me. That's a real possibility, so I've slowed it down a bit. Still marching forward with what's good for me, just doing it at a slower pace, to maybe let my body acclimate.  Time will tell, I suppose. 

As for my mind...still crazy. I'm at the point where I almost need to shut it off. I think that's the only way to regain some balance and good physical health. And that means medicine. UGH. This the exact point I get to every time I decide to go back on the one pill a day regimen. I know I'm better off not resisting but I still can't help but hate the fact that I can't be like other people. That I just can't "calm down". That I can't "relax" and "stop thinking" and "stop worrying" and just be fucking normal for Christ sakes! Yeah. I hate that. And by normal I just mean...the NORM. That baseline place where people are people and they get to have good days and they get to have boring unimportant days and they also get to have stressful days when they are called for. I want that. I mostly only have the latter even when it is not called for.

On the family front, I have still done nothing. I'm still angry so I suppose that means I care? But I'm also in a delete and repeat mood. This can be a dangerous mood for me because it's when I tend to just cut ties. I will try to rationalize it so that it makes sense to other people. I also have this sudden urge to purge my facebook friends as well. It's almost like cleaning house. Most people hate to clean house, but ever since I was a child I actually liked to clean and organize. In fact, when I had to eat all my dinner, I would imagine the food was my room and I had to clean it. The food alone did nothing to entice the eating. The cleaning of the plate was my motivation. Clean Plate. Clean Slate? I feel the same way about a lot of things in my life. I hate too much stuff. I purge often. And I feel the same way about people in my life. This may seem cold. Maybe even mean? But it's not. There really is no bad intention here. It just is. Where the rest of the world (generalising here) seems to get off on having the most friends and knowing a lot of people and adding more and more people to their lives or their lists...I am the opposite. More people always seems to equal more stress. More unknowns. More interference. More pain. More disappointment. This might not be true for everyone, or maybe it is, but they have these magical things called coping skills? Not sure. For me, though, less is more. And the older I get the more I'm realising this and the more power I seem to be giving myself to make my life more like the way I want it. I remember riding in the back of the car on the highway as a child. I would always imagine myself jumping out of the car and running into the woods and staying there and living there forever. In high school, when I read, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, I was blown away. I thought it was the most fantastic brilliant thing in the world. So, this desire for less people isn't anything new. What's new is, for the first time in my life, I have no desire to pretend to fit in with the masses. I have no desire to pretend to be more social than I actually am. I have even less desire for approval. This is a good thing, because I'm getting very little approval from people in my life and expect to get even less as I continue this journey. This can also be considered a good thing because they are, in a sense, weeding themselves out before I have to do it. 

This past month isn't one I'd want to relive by any means but I did learn a few things. I learned the most important thing I have to do is to take care of myself. I learned that I get to put myself first and deserve consideration from the people in my life. I learned that if I don't get that consideration or respect or honesty then they don't have to be a part of my life. I learned that I have a choice. Not in the sense that "I have a choice to make", but that I have a CHOICE. I get to choose who I want to invest my time in and give my love to. And I get to make these choice without guilt, without remorse, without regret. I get to make choices that are good for ME and I also get to be happy about that. 

Hope, who is signing off now before my body catches up with my mind...

Friday, September 27, 2013

One week later.

Today my doctor suggested I write. I haven't told him that I have a blog. Still, I figured I'd take his advice. He seems pretty smart and has an almost contagious bubble of "calm" around him. I'm envious of it. I long for it. I want to ask him if he's always been that way, or if he learned to become that way. I don't though because we're there to talk about me, not him.

In the past week I've managed to become broke ( again ), and sick. Both of which suck and don't get me any closer to a bubble of calm. I had a physical on Monday and my doctor ordered a (shit) load of blood work. Of course, I immediately got sick walking out of the office, so I still have that part to look forward to. Needles. They aren't my favorite. I could never be the kind of drug addict that shoots crap into their veins. I guess that's a good thing. 

She also increased my dose of Celexa. The Celexa I haven't been taking. So now I have to decide if I'm going back on it or not. On Monday I was sure I should. Now it's Friday and I'm not sure of anything. Typical. 

I still have done nothing in reference to my mother. It feels like its lingering, and yet when I start to think of how to proceed I get overwhelmed with thoughts and anger, so I shelf it. The problem is that if I don't address it soon, I never will. I will place it neatly in that box full of people, places, and things that I have, in a sense, turned my back on. Once it's in the box, that's pretty much it. No taking it back out. No do overs. So, soon, just not right now. 

My sixth sense seems to be kicking in and telling me something is wrong. I used to refer to this as a "shift". Something has shifted. Something is different. Something has changed. Only, I don't know what. Unfortunately that does little to stop the chaos it's creating within my nervous system. I suppose a normal person might say I'm just crazy, and they might be right, only not about this. I know this feeling well and it never fails to follow through. 

And lastly, because I'm such a Debbie Downer, ( I blame the sickness, pms, and the fact that I am most likely crazy) some good news: I joined Netflix. It is the most fabulous thing I've done in, well, forever. I know it sounds rather unimportant and I'm light years behind the rest of the world,as usual, but this was life changing. I spend most of my day, sitting and painting. Mindlessly painting. Which leaves my mind free to wander into very dangerous places, because it can't just sit there and relax. It needs to be busy. Always busy. And keeping it busy, and filling it up. Sure, some of it is garbage, but I love it. Movies are second only to Books, in my life. 

And in even better news, ( I guess this is really lastly now) despite my own recent crash and burn, my son is doing amazing! We had zero school anxiety all week. He's had a few hiccups but has been able to work them out on his own and has actually shown excitement about going to school. He's still being his perfectionist/ocd little self and insists he needs a new binder because all of his three rings don't line up perfectly, but so long as he's insisting it with a smile on his face, I'm happy. We also got his MCAS scores back from last year and he scored Advanced in Mathematics. Very proud. (He is, however, driving me nuts right now because he's monologing about some Star Wars lego game he is playing.) 

And that, as they say, is that. Until next time...

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I'm just recently (as in an hour or so ago) recovering from a complete meltdown of sorts. Full on panic, dread, doom, numbness, dizziness, shortness of breath, tears, and the feeling of wanting to be out of my own skin. It's a feeling that is so hard to describe, so that anyone who has never experienced it, could actually get an idea as to what it is like. Saying it is awful isn't enough. Saying you start bargaining immediately to make it go away isn't enough. I will quit smoking. I will take better care of myself. I'll go back on Celexa. I'll do yoga. I'll meditate. I usually wind up being mad at myself. Angry that my brain is in control. Angry that I can't control my brain. Long story short. I took an Ativan and a long hot shower and it has subsided. Just like that. As quickly as it came. This particular attack wasn't unexpected. I'd been waiting for it. I knew it was coming and as I sit here now, feeling somewhat okay, I know there will be more.

The latest and the greatest in the Parental visit saga is that they are safe and sound now back in Las Vegas. As it should be. The whole two weeks was emotionally draining and extremely nerve wracking, and the night before they were leaving the Time Bomb that is mother went off. Boom. If you knew my mother you would know a few very basic things about her. You would know that she is loud. Not only loud but abrasive. Like an S.O.S. pad only less soapy. She talks a lot. She's a bit selfish and only knows how to "give" by using money. She is bossy and she contradicts herself constantly. Sometimes within minutes. I'm not sure why that is. I'm not sure why any of it is. But it is. I had learned over the years that it was safest to mostly sit back and shut up, but if you know anything about me, it's that I don't always do what is safest. I also tend to zoom in on the details, and if there is a contradiction, I will be drawn to it like a magnet.

On the day before they were leaving we had a phone conversation that was basically to set up a time for them to come over that night to say goodbye. (Originally they were planning on another Auction night but had decided not to go. I won't lie. The fact that visiting with us was an option and not a definite was a confirmation that felt like shit.) Anyway, I thought they could come over and visit with Jack after he got home school, then maybe we could order take out. NO. No? No we don't want to eat anymore food. Ever?? Weird. Anyway. Her first plan was they would come over after Jack did his homework around 4:00. Okay. BUT, they have to print out their boarding passes at exactly 5:00pm. Exactly?  Yes not a minute later. At this point it dawns on me, I need ink for my printer, so I say I will go out and get ink for my printer. NO. No? NO. We'll just come back here and print them. My mind is calculating, which sucks because I hate math...but...basically that means they will visit for a half hour. On the night before they leave. Breathe. I'm getting a little annoyed by this point. The refusal to eat with us. The insistence on printing the boarding passes, and I realize that if they had gone to the auction as originally planned there would have been no printing of the damn boarding passes until they had returned home. In my mind I'm thinking so why not just come and stay longer, you're going to have to eat at some point, and print them when you get back to my Aunts. Boom!  BOOM!!!


She exploded. Like a stick of dynamite. Looking back, I think it was the fact that I pointed out the boarding pass situation. How she wouldn't have been able to print them if she had stuck to her original plans, so why is it so important that she do it now? (In my heart of hearts I think I know why. She didn't really want to come to my house and any excuse to shorten the trip was usable) In any case, she yelled and she screamed. I could barely get a word in edge wise. I'm sure my Aunt and my Father who had to have been close by listening were confused as to what the hell I might be yelling about on the other end of the line. Only I wasn't yelling. Except for once. To tell her to stop yelling at me and that I wasn't going to fight with her. I never raised my voice prior. I simply said something she didn't like. Something that exposed her motives. I hardly remember all the words she said during her tirade except when she accused me of being selfish and wanting everything to go my way. Irony? Or just plain sickness? I think I might have laughed then because it was so completely ridiculous I could hardly wrap my brain around it. She said a few more things that made about just as much sense  and then she handed the phone to my father. We both just sat there like...hey. Hey. Neither of us sure what to do with any of it. After about a minute she calmed down a little and said they would come over after they printed their boarding passes, so a little after five. After I hung up my head was literally spinning. What the fuck just happened?

As crazy and unpredictable as her outburst was, it was nothing I hadn't experienced in the past. I think that maybe I might have thought this kind of behavior was over. Done. That it used to happen, but it doesn't happen anymore. Needless to say, my brain linked on to the pattern, and the floodgates of my memory opened wide. It wasn't pretty and I'm still having a damn hard time shutting the door.

But as if that unwelcome drama wasn't enough... there is more. The icing on the cake so to speak. After winding down from the phone call I pretty much went about my day. Jack came home and did his homework. I told him Grandma and Grandpa were coming for one last visit tonight. He got excited and started picking out all the things he wanted to show them but forgot to show them the one time they came before. BF came home from work. Because I kept getting a very loud NO regarding eating with us, I ordered take out for us three only. And we waited. When are they coming? Are they here yet? Didn't they say a little after 5? 

At 6:30 I pick up my phone and call. My mother answers. Hello?  Hi. Are you guys coming?  NO. No we're not. We talked about it and we're not. Wait. What!?  My mind is a little bit blown by this point but I manage to ask the question. "Were you going to call me and let me know?"  To which she answered. "No, I wasn't."  I had to ask again."Okay. Wait. You decided you weren't coming to say goodbye and you weren't even going to call and let me know?"  No. No I wasn't.  She started saying something else here, but I simply said "Goodbye." and hung up. Then I kicked a bucket that was in my driveway clear across to other side.

Again, my head is spinning. My son is asking are they coming. No, they aren't coming. Why??  Did you call them? Call them again. Tell them I want them to. My hands are shaking as I send one last text message to my mother letting her know that her grandson had been waiting since he got home from school to see them and basically that was one shitty move on her part. How do I explain to my son why they aren't coming when I don't even fully understand it myself?  I now feel guilty. I feel like, because they don't want to spend time with me, I'm cheating him out of Grandparents. I dismiss this thought immediately. Fuck them. They should feel guilty. I tell him the truth. Not as harshly as I do here. I tell him that sometimes people don't do what they say they are going to do and we get disappointed. Sometimes we know the reason why, but somethimes we just don't.

That night was a sleepless one for me, with my own life movie playing on the screens behind my eyes. I wasn't dwelling. It was on automatic play. Like experiences attract like memories. They don't play like movies for everyone, but they do for me, and what I saw I didn't like.  It was a fact facing night of finally accepting that they (my mother in particular, because my dad does nothing on his own) aren't good for me. They are hazardous to my health. By the time I went to sleep I had convinced myself that there wouldn't be anymore contact. That I had to shut them out completely.  I'm not sure what I think now. I'm still processing.

The next morning I received a text message claiming to "just be getting your message now". There was an apology and an I don't know what happened.  A second message came through right after saying they'd like to see me, either at my aunts or at my house, and that they were leaving for the airport at 1pm. I didn't respond.  Instead, I shutdown, grabbed my new CD and headed out. I went to breakfast alone, I went shopping at few places, I drove around, got a coffee, had lunch, and was sure to return home after 1pm. It was actually a good anxiety free few hours.

Later that night I got a call and let it go to voice mail.  In listening to message, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Nothing made sense. Her voice was small and quiet, almost childlike, and her words were soft, somewhat matter of fact, with a We Love You at the end. This message surely wasn't left by the same woman who just the day before couldn't have cared less.  I didn't call back. Instead I got angry again.

This afternoon I got an email from her. (This is where the above panic attack came in to play) I haven't even read it yet. Just seeing it in my inbox was enough to set me off. I definitely have no desire to speak to either of them right now. Maybe that will change. Or maybe I won't let myself get sucked in again, because it's too fucking much. I know she knows she was wrong. I know that's why she's playing all meek and mild and tossing out I love yous like they actually mean something. But it's not an excuse. It can't be an excuse anymore.  If someone attacks you physically, treats you like shit, and then tells you it's your fault, does a sorry make it okay? No, it doesn't. So it shouldn't be okay for someone to attack you like that verbally either.

This was a long ass post. I apologize. Mostly I wrote it for me. Also sorry for the all the bold and italics. And spelling?  I have a get out of jail free card for today.

Hope, who is going to get her money's worth out of therapy tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall, my brain, and a little Poe.

Seems like fall has arrived this morning. Aside from the food and the beer, it is not my favorite season. Along with the cold, it brings dark mornings and dark evenings. Even on the days that the sun is shining you can tell how far away it is. It doesn't warm you. It doesn't shed the same kind of light. I definitely blossom in a climate that is warmer year round, but as that isn't a possibility for me anymore, I'll just try hard to focus on the food and the beer.

The last few weeks have been hard. They've been filled with drama, lies, selfishness, noise, disruptions to routine, tears, anger, doubt, confusion, misunderstandings, revelations, and last but certainly not least anxiety. I feel like I will need at least twice that amount of time to recover fully. The truth is I won't get much recovery time. Instead I will dive right back into busy, which is probably not the worst thing. Work has picked up quite a bit and I'm expecting it to be a crazy Holiday season. In addition to dolls, I've sold some art, which has inspired me to start making more. 

A friend sent me a text just a little while ago, and in the text she asked "How was the visit with Mom?" In true fashion, my Aspie-like brain (what we can call it until diagnosis) dove on to a track of racing thoughts. How do I answer that? Should I just say fine? That would be a lie. Is it just a polite question that doesn't require an in depth answer as to how it is really going? How would most people answer? It's going well. Having a good time! Smiley face. Smiley face. Smiley face. But that's a lie. If I say it's been shitty, I probably won't  get a response. People don't like to hear about shitty. There's really not enough time to get into this. 

And so on and so on and so on. 

A simple question that most people wouldn't think twice about, sends me into over analyzing and panic so I will say the right thing. So I won't say the wrong thing. And at the same time my brain is screaming at me because telling the polite social white lie makes my skin crawl. How are you? I'm fine, how are you? It makes me want to vomit. 

This is automatic. This is just how it is. This is one more reason why it's easier for me to be somewhat shut off, with limited contact. My brain just goes through much more processing than most people I know, and honestly it's exhausting. I'm exhausted.

So instead of any more updates today, I will leave you with this. One of my favorite Poems by one of my favorite Poets. It makes more sense now. I don't find it sad anymore.

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Button Pushers

Button Pushers. We all know a few, don't we?  Those people that, for some reason, love to kick you when you're down. Maybe it's not always a kick. Maybe it's just a poke where you are the most tender. Or then again, maybe sometimes it feels like a knife. These are the same people that will swear up and down after they've done their damage, that "That's not what I meant" or my personal favorite..."You're being too sensitive." 

Fuck those people. Seriously. Fuck them.

I've been practicing a lot lately. At this whole acceptance thing. At doing nothing. I've practiced for a straight week with a few major speed bumps getting in my way. I'd give myself a B. Not an A. Definitely not an A because today, I am pissed off. Today I get to take a break, and instead of suppressing the anger and turning it inward, I'm going to let it out and allow myself to be really fucking mad.

I'm not going to focus on the speed bumps today. I can only handle one anger inducing topic at a time or seriously, my head will explode. I'm going to focus on the visit with my parents. If you can call it a visit. Tonight they will have been in town for a week. We've seen them for possibly eight hours. On one hand, this is probably a good thing, because if I can reach this point after only eight scattered hours, just imagine the kind of rage more time would induce. (A voice inside my head, we'll call said...but it wouldn't be like this if they were different. The other again...reminded her of what I already know....but you can't change people.)

Before they even got here I got a basic itinerary. A list of things my mother was definitely going to do. If I could or felt like joining her I would get to see her, if not, well... tough shit, because that is what she wanted to do, and my mother always does what she wants to do. My father, who has no itinerary, has basically just taken off everyday to do his own thing. Okay. Fine. I dealt with that. I'm no stranger to this type of behavior from her. This left some days/evenings free where maybe they could spend some time with their only grandchild and their only daughter.

So far this is what has happened...

(I apologize for the rambling. This is a "get it out" type of blog, so you are reading it just as it appears in my head.)

Every invite I've extended to go out to eat has been met with a no, because "they just can't be going out to eat everyday!" Meanwhile, they are going out to eat with my Aunt, who they are staying with, just about every day.

After making plans to come visit right after school last Thursday, my son and I show up to an empty house. An hour later I get a call saying they are on their way. They did bring pizza though. Pizza loaded with every topping that no nine year old boy in his right mind would ever eat. He scraped it off and ate pizza dough. He's a trooper.

They came bearing gifts because that's what grandparents do, right? They brought him a baseball glove. In case anyone doesn't know. My son doesn't play baseball. He doesn't like baseball. My BF and I got two t-shirts that were given to them by my grandparents in the 80's. No, I'm not kidding. If you know me I don't care about gifts. I really don't. What I do care about is the thought behind them.

Next, I invited them to a family event that happened on Saturday, which I thought would have been a perfect time to hang out, see other family members too, and possibly meet my BF's children. That was also met with a No.

The whole weekend that my child was home, not having to go to school,  his grandparents didn't see him once. They had plans. They were busy. Next weekend he is with his father. They knew this.

I called Sunday night. I reached voicemail.

Monday morning I got a phone call with a request to come over that night after Jack got out of school. "We were coming over anyway because remember you said you would spend time with Jack while I went to the open house at school?"  I said.  Apparently, they forgot.  This time I brought food so my son could eat something besides pizza dough. Our visiting consisted of Jack and I sitting in the Kitchen alone while my Dad said close to nothing, and my mother and aunt were "busy" doing things around her house. I watched and listened as my son tried to talk to his Grandma. Trying to tell her things he was excited about. I also watched and listened to her response. "Really? Okay, honey, now you have to get out of the way because we're moving this over here."  I watched and listened as my child, who has been so excited to see Grandma and Grandpa, told her he learned how to play Scat and brought cards, and did they think maybe later they could play?  I watched and listened as my mother, completely oblivious to anything outside her own selfishness told him no. "No, grandma doesn't feel up to that tonight. Maybe we can play if your mother ever invites us over." (Please refer back to my every invite being met with a no.) I bit my tongue during this whole experience. I practiced doing nothing. When I went to the open house Jack was watching a movie on my iPad. When I returned he was playing with a few Lego's alone in the kitchen. "Did you and Grandma and Grandpa do anything tonight?"  "Not really..."

This brings us to Tuesday, which was yesterday. Part of the Itinerary was an early Tuesday dinner (4pm) followed by an Antique Auction. (preview at 5pm, start time at 6:30pm) Both of these events occurring in the same town. Not exactly a child friendly activity, but this was our option so my son can see his grandparents and he was up for it. Okay. Jack gets home at 3:30 roughly. If we jump right in the car (no time for homework) and head out we can most likely make it there by 4pm. We did. We arrive to find my mother, father and my aunt sitting in a four person booth, that clearly my BF, my son and I won't fit into. "Oh we can squeeze in, just pull a chair up to the end."  To which the waitress informs us this is a fire hazard and we can't just pull a chair up to the end. Okay. So logically, (at least I think it was logically) I suggest we move and sit at a table with six chairs. Six people. Six chairs. Seems like it might work. My mother and my aunt exchange a look, to which my mother follows up with. "I don't know...what do think?" The fact that my head did not explode at that very moment is a pure fucking miracle. Are you fucking serious? Were we not invited to come join you for dinner? And you are not even willing to sit with us? I didn't say that exactly, though. I think I said something like, "We drove all the way here. If we're going to sit at a table by ourselves, we might as well just leave." I said nothing else, and that was the kick in the ass that got them up and moved to another table. Nothing else was mentioned and we proceeded to order. Beer. I desperately needed a beer. The rest was bullshit small talk that I paid little attention to. Mostly I talked to my son because, honestly he was the only one I felt like talking to. As dinner was wrapping up my mother then asks. "So...have you gone over how the auction works? Does he know how this is going to work?" I've told him the basics. I'm not worried. He's a well behaved which my mother continues with..."The auctioneer is grumpy. He gets real mean and really mad if anyone makes any noise. He'll even yell at people." I'm watching carefully as my son looks at me and I see it in his eyes. Fear. I try to counter what she is saying to ease his mind. Maybe it's true. I've been there before and never witnessed it. Regardless, there is no need for this. The look on her face. The tone of her voice. I'm talking to Jack, but inside I'm screaming at her. Shut the fuck up!  What are doing? He was excited to go. You don't purposely scare someone who suffers from anxiety. Especially not a child!  I don't say any of this. Instead I calmly say, "Stop. There is no reason to scare him." To which she responds, "Oh Jesus, you need to get him out his protective bubble." Mama Bear syndrome has now kicked in with me, but my head still doesn't explode and I'm still calm, and I simply say. "STOP." From here, the three of them get up while I'm still finishing my drink. Apparently it's a rush. They have to get there. They have to get seats. It's now about 5:05pm. Again, auction starts at 6:30pm. Same fucking town. Fine. Go...we'll meet you. We leave not too long after they do. Arrive at the preview,and look at all the items. Apparently there was nothing worth staying for and they decide they're going to go home. A big frantic fucking rush. For nothing. For fucking nothing. Game over.

Holy shit. My head is spinning at this point.

We then talk briefly about when they would come over to my house for dinner. I had already told them Wed or Friday would be best as the other nights can be crazy with kids and kid activities. My mother shot down Wed. It'll be too hot. (too hot for dinner?) Fine. Breath. "Friday, then?"  Again, they exchange the look. Something was said but I didn't quite hear it as they both started heading to the car. Something else was said about there being another Auction next Tues. (are you fucking kidding me?) To which I replied, "For the amount of time we spent with you, I don't think it's worth it."  I vaguely heard my mother yell, "Well come over to the house then." as we were crossing the street.

At this point I'm exhausted. Mentally exhausted. At this point I'm beginning to realize that doing nothing and acceptance isn't always enough. Sometimes when a person or people are too much, too hurtful, too selfish, or too toxic, your only option is to remove them. Forcing yourself to deal with them, on their terms, in their way can do more damage than just simply walking away.

We didn't go over to the house. Instead we stopped an got ice cream from Cherry Hill. We sat outside in the calm and the quiet, and laughed about what someone had carved into the picnic table.

I'm not sure what this next week will hold, but I am sure I'm not up for anymore button pushing. I'm not up for frantically chasing down people who so obviously have better things to do than spend time with me or their grandson. I'm not up for witnessing "the look", whether I know what it means or not. (I admit, I do not) I'm just not up for their kind of crazy. I think I'll just stick with mine.

Hope, who again, apologizes for the rambling and lack of order in this post. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Old Dog. New Tricks.

I've taken a rather long hiatus from logging my thoughts and insanity. I don't know why I feel the need to state the obvious, but I do. So I did.

Work has picked up, which is both a good thing and a bad thing, but at least I have a purpose again. During my break I've done a lot of work. Internal work, as well as what I do for a living. I've done a lot of thinking which isn't at all out of the ordinary, but I've also done a lot to change some of my thinking, which is completely foreign to me. Somewhere in the midst of all of this "work" I stumbled upon the answer to all of my questions in my previous post. All of my "what do you do?" questions. The answer turned out to be pretty simple, and at the same time, to me it was almost a revelation. The answer is nothing. I do nothing. Simply because there is nothing I can do to change another persons feelings, actions, or behavior. Only they can do that, and only if it's something they actually want to do.

Simple, right? Everyone knows this to be true, and yet, it feels like I am just finally "getting it." I'm just now realizing that I don't have some kind of super human power to make things as I want them to be and to keep people just as I like them. At the same time, I also realized what I do have power over, and that is myself. I not only have the power over whether I allow other people to affect me or not, but I have freedom. Freedom to choose. Freedom to take care of me. Freedom to do what feels good.

Perhaps most people already know this. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it too, but I never really knew it enough to allow myself to put it into practice. So that's what I'm doing now. I'm practicing. I'm practicing at just being me, and being okay with that, and doing what I need to do when I need to do it. I'm practicing at NOT giving more than I receive and not depleting my own resources.  And I'm doing it. Not always and not perfectly, but still, I'm doing it. So far so good.

My parents are in town for a couple of weeks right now, which is always somewhat bitter sweet. More bitter than sweet, but it's giving me a lot of opportunities for more "practice." They aren't staying with me, which turned out to be what was best for everyone. Basically now I will see them for a few hours here and there when they have a gap in their schedule and can squeeze Jack and I in. I won't lie, and say I'm completely fine with the way that is. It's taken me a lot of years, and a lot of struggling, and trying to use my imaginary super powers to make our relationship into something that is wasn't. Something that it was never going to be. I fought it. I resisted it. I tried to change it. And then finally, I accepted it. Now... I do nothing. Now, I finally realize there is nothing I can do, and I don't have to feel bad about it anymore. The truth is not all people connect. Not all families are close. Not everyone can really, really love each other. It could very well be different when the parent and child are biological, because I couldn't even imagine not being close to my son. It could be that blood really is thicker than water. But despite all of the possibilities, the fact remains that we are all strangers in a very fundamental way. If they weren't my parents and I wasn't their adopted daughter we would never have any reason to be friends, or in the same room, or to even speak to one another. This is what it is. And I'm okay with it. I'm free of it.

As sad as it might seem to most people, accepting this is probably one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. It helped me to realize that just because I wasn't the daughter they expected or hoped for, didn't mean I wasn't exactly who I was supposed to be. It didn't mean there was anything wrong with the way I was. I'll admit that this lesson was just recently learned, but the mourning for the parent/child relationship was over and done years ago. Ironically,  I also believe it has made me a better parent. At least I hope that it has.

Hope, who now highly recommends therapy. Even if you aren't a Crazy Muthah. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I've been MIA from bloggerville for longer than I had realized. I have only one excuse and that's work. Or at least a sad and sorry attempt to work, while trying to entertain a nine year old boy at the same time. Sales are down because they are always down in the summer and I'm frantically and shamelessly self promoting on every doll site I know of. Luckily it's working. At least to the point where I'm able to keep my head above water. 

When I haven't been working I've spent time with friends, heard some fun music, listened to my child hum every movie theme song he knows, organized thousands of Legos, visited an overly priced Fair, laughed, cried, been overwhelmed, and at peace, and then utterly confused again. I've been busy. 

It's about ten minutes till one (am) now and I'm wide awake on my second beer, in hopes that maybe I'll be able to sleep. It hasn't been looking promising. I drink three or four sips, and then head out to smoke, hoping I don't run into a skunk or a bear. I come back in. Go pee. Take a few more sips, and so on. This is my last ditch attempt at some kind of sleep. The Brain Dump. 

I recently bought This is How by Augusten Burroughs. I've only just started reading it, but from what I can gather it's a somewhat realistic/ no bullshit/ sarcastic/ and blunt form of a self help book. The second Chapter is "How to feel like shit". And I guess that's why I'm here now. To feel like shit. Because I feel like shit. 

The reason I feel like shit tonight is because of the R word. Relationships. Or relationship, I guess, seeing how I only have one. I don't have any insight tonight, only questions. Not questions that I really expect anyone to answer, although I would welcome any answers if they exist. Questions like, why do things change? Why do they have to? What do you do when the other person has lost interest, and yet swears that they haven't. What do you do when they insist everything you think or feel is wrong, yet offer up no proof or reassurance in their actions? What do you do when the other person, who was almost obsessed with you at one point, stops listening or caring about anything you have to say? What do you do when sex, which was at the very least once a day dwindles to once a week, and you find yourself questioning whether you are actually the man or the woman in the relationship. What do you do when you've been around the block enough times to know where this ends, and yet you don't want to let yourself believe it's happening again? How do you communicate any of this to someone who is so closed to open communication?

No answers. Only questions. A friend of mine recently said she heard a relationship should only take up about 20% of your life. I don't know how I feel about that. To me, that seems more like a fuck buddy, not someone you share your life with. Perhaps I just require too much. I don't consider myself high maintenance. I don't need your money or things or to be wined and dined. I do need sex, which I realize isn't always the case with all women. However, I am not all women. I also need an intimate and emotional connection when I'm in a relationship in order to really enjoy that sex and in order to want to stay in that relationship. All of the questions above tend to break that connection and I wind up wide awake, drinking beer, and blogging when I should be sleeping peacefully and dreaming about whatever it is peacefully sleeping people dream about.

I don't necessarily consider myself insecure either. At least when it comes to a relationship and what I have to offer. I also don't consider not trusting you to be insecurity, after you've broken my trust. That is simply a consequence. I'm sure every man on the planet would disagree. Doesn't matter. It's the truth. 

So, that is where I am tonight. Perhaps a little more specific than I have been in the past. It could be the beer, but I doubt it. I think I'm just tired of not being able to say what I feel, as honestly and openly as I used to. Augusten's How to Feel Like Shit, stomps all over the bullshit of positive affirmations and the lies we tell ourselves, and instead encourages the act of actually feeling your shit. The shit that's real. 

I know I'm worthy. I know what I'm good at. I know I deserve to be loved and respected and listened to. I don't have to remind myself of that, because ultimately it isn't going to solve any of my problems. Identifying what I'm actually feeling ( which is difficult at best for me) is the only real way to get anywhere. 

So what am I feeling? Rejected. Attention starved. Insignificant. Unwanted. 

It's not pretty to see it in writing. 

In addition, I feel confused, and because I've been down this road before, I also feel a little hopeless. Doomed, even. To always end up in this place no matter how many times I start over. 

It makes me doubt my own ability and my own knowledge of what a relationship is or should be. Perhaps it really is all me. Maybe I can only be truly happy in those beginning stages when everything is so overly new and intense.

I really don't know, and I somehow doubt I will find out tonight.

Brain dump complete.

Back to my beer, and one more smoke.

Monday, July 29, 2013

In my Mind...

Not much time for blogging today so I'm sharing the lyrics to one of my latest favorite songs. It's become my feel good song. It makes me feel like it's okay to be me. Normally I listen to it about 20 times in a row. That makes it feel like it's okay to be me for longer.

In My Mind
by Amanda Palmer

In my mind
In a future five years from now
I'm one hundred and twenty pounds
And I never get hung over
Because I will be the picture of discipline
Never minding what state I'm in
And I will be someone I admire
And it's funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I've just forgotten how to see
That I am not exactly the person that I thought I'd be

And in my mind
In the faraway here and now
I've become in control somehow
And I never lose my wallet
Because I will be the picture of of discipline
Never fucking up anything
And I'll be a good defensive driver
And it's funny how I imagined
That I would be that person now
But it does not seem to have happened
Maybe I've just forgotten how to see
That I'll never be the person that I thought I'd be

And in my mind
When I'm old I am beautiful
Planting tulips and vegetables
Which I will mindfully watch over
Not like me now
I'm so busy with everything
That I don't look at anything
But I'm sure I'll look when I am older
And it's funny how I imagined
That I could be that person now
But that's not what I want
But that's what I wanted
And I'd be giving up somehow
How strange to see
That I don't wanna be the person that I want to be

And in my mind
I imagine so many things
Things that aren't really happening
And when they put me in the ground
I'll start pounding the lid
Saying I haven't finished yet
I still have a tattoo to get
That says I'm living in the moment
And it's funny how I imagined
That I could win this, win this fight
But maybe it isn't all that funny
That I've been fighting all my life
But maybe I have to think it's funny
If I wanna live before I die
And maybe it's funniest of all
To think I'll die before I actually see
That I am exactly the person that I want to be

Fuck yes
I am exactly the person that I want to be

Hope, who hopes I don't actually die before I truly know this. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

What I did at Summer Camp.

One my goals in taking my Facebook hiatus was to find more time, and to use some of that time for more writing. Again, I'm not sure what it will amount to if anything and right now they're just little snippets of a whole picture.

This past week was Jack's Tennis Camp, which went a lot better than expected, and I'm proud to say he completed the week and can now hit a Tennis ball. Sort of. The beginning of the week, however, was tough and I give his father all the credit for pulling him through this one. He was patient, understanding, and stayed the whole three hours at a camp that was drop off and pick up. The Instructors also deserve some credit for recognizing his need for one on one instruction and some alone time practice. Once he knew what he was supposed to do and was allowed to do it, on his own, his comfort level increased dramatically and he was able to join the group and actually enjoy himself. It's amazing what a little understanding and adjustment can do.

The whole experience and the words that my son was saying at the beginning of the week sent me back thirty something years to my own experience with Camp, so I decided to write about it and share it here. It's been an experience that stuck with me and writing it out was not only therapeutic but also eye opening. Enjoy! Or not...

Summer Camp

One summer, back when I was seven, my then foster mother came up with the bright idea to send me to camp. It was the YMCA Day Camp and it was only for a week. At least I think it was only for a week. In any case, that was the length of time I went. I’m sure she must have been thinking something like, “Well, now I have a child. It’s summer time. What do you do with a child in the summer? I know! You send her to camp!”

Camp. A supposedly fun filled, noisy place where I could run and swim and play sports and be competitive and learn skills and socialize.  A perfectly logical choice for any normal little girl, I suppose. Only I wasn’t any normal little girl. People said I was shy, but it was more than that. I could barely run, and certainly not fast.  I could not swim. I didn’t and hadn’t ever in my life played a sport. I wasn’t the least bit competitive. I had no desire to learn these skills, and I lacked the ability and the voice to socialize with people I didn’t know. Surely someone else in my life must have known all of this besides me. I can almost hear them now. "It will help to bring her out of her shell..." This was a phrase I had heard often, and it made me wonder if they thought I was a turtle, or perhaps a clam. In my mind I saw the image of a large seashell strapped to my back so it looked as if I had wings. I liked the image and didn’t see any reason why they would want me to come out of that shell.

The truth was, I was perfectly happy in my “shell”. It was where I felt most comfortable and safe. There was no need to try to pry me out of it. The truth is, even today, at the age of forty-one it is still where I feel the most at ease. No amount of prying was ever going to turn me into anyone else. My shell is my home. Perhaps I am a turtle after all.

The first day of camp stands out more vividly than the rest. It started with a car ride to The Thunderbird Motel, which was where the bus would pick me up. I’m not sure if the word nervous can fully describe what I was feeling. I was nervous, that’s for sure, but it was more than that. My thoughts were racing, although they never dared to become actual words. And my thoughts were also pervasive. What will the bus look like? My school bus is yellow, but I rode a bus once that wasn’t yellow. When will it get here? Who will be on it? Kids on the yellow bus are mean, but there weren’t any kids on the other bus. Where will I sit? If it’s not a yellow bus I’ll have sit next to a strange man. How long will it take? I got sick on the other bus. If it’s not a yellow bus I’ll get sick on this bus. What if we get lost? What if I can’t find my way back?  Where do I go when we get there? Who will help me? What will they make me do? Will I be able to do it? I won’t be able to do it. They will be mad that I can’t swim. What will we play? When will we play? Where will I put my bag? When will I get there?  What if I can’t talk? They will get mad if I can’t talk. Will it be in the woods? How will I know what time it is? How will I know when to leave? How will I know the right bus?  And on and on it went. This, all before I even started my journey. I had no idea what to expect, and I needed to know what to expect. I also needed to know what was coming next and in the precise order it would come. I only had my past experience to rely on and believed if something happened once, it would happen, again and again and again. Life experience has since taught me that this isn’t necessarily true, however, I still can’t force my brain to believe it.

The bus ride ended up being the least of my worries, simply because I didn’t have to say anything to anyone. It was noisy, as all the other kids yelled rather than talked, but I managed to stare out the window and tune most of it out. The bus ride to and from would end up being the best part of the whole experience.

Once we arrived at the camp all of my racing thoughts and questions returned, along with my inability to speak above a whisper. “Speak up, Hope” was another commonly heard phrase, especially in School, in front a group, or with people I didn’t know.  I would try and try, but if I could get the words out at all, it was never above a whisper, and it hurt to try. It physically hurt. It’s only recently that I learned that there was an actual name for this. Selective Mutism. Eventually, this was something I grew out of. But even now my voice is the first thing to go when I’m extremely nervous. It’s as if I have a volume button the instantly turns down the moment I’m around unfamiliar people or places.

The Camp Counselors were lined up as we exited the bus, and although the process by which they determined which child belonged to which counselor is all a blur now, somehow, I ended up being assigned to one. To this day, I’m not completely certain I was ever even with the right group to begin with, as I was always the kid “left over”. The one without the partner, or the fifth wheel in a party of four. I was the quiet, blond haired, blue eyed, day dreamy little girl that completely went unnoticed.

Day one, for me, was a mess. It was complete and utter chaos and confusion, as we bounced from one noisy activity to the next. I was somewhat relieved when our first stop was to the locker room and I learned where to put my bag. I made a mental note of what building it was in and specifically what locker I had. I only had to count from the first locker to the left of the door. One, two ,three, four, five. Five. I had the fifth locker. If I knew nothing else, I knew where my bag was and how to get it.

The rest, however, when I remember it, resembles a dream. The kind of dream where nothing really makes sense and you’re always late, or running behind, and you’re trying your best to figure things out, but still have no idea what is going on. All of the other kids in my group seemed to have some kind of mental telepathy or super powers. They all knew what the others were doing without anyone ever having to speak the words. They all knew the rules to the games and how to hit the ball and in which direction to run. I knew none of this, and if anyone was explaining it, I certainly couldn’t make it out above the voices of chattering children. I remember trying to ask the counselor questions.  I remember standing by her side and waiting for her to notice that I was there. Most times she didn’t notice, and the times she did, she couldn’t hear me and would get annoyed. At least it seemed to me like she was getting annoyed. It seemed to me like I was doing everything wrong.

Lunch time that first day, was probably the longest half hour of my life. For reasons I will never comprehend, my foster mother, had completely missed the fact that she was supposed to pack me a lunch. A mistake that she would never make again, as I reminded her of it continuously for months after. While all the other children and counselors sat and ate their brown bagged lunches at the picnic tables scattered among the trees, I sat, alone. Eventually one of the adults noticed I had no lunch and gave me an orange. An orange that I couldn’t peel, as I had no finger nails. I did the best I could, but by this time lunch was almost over and I threw most of the orange in the trash.

Swimming came after lunch, which I thought was out of order because everyone always said to wait to go in the water after eating.  Because I didn’t actually know how to swim I was in the beginner group and I needed a partner. Most of the kids paired off immediately and the two girls I asked to be my partner decided to partner up themselves. The councilor ended up being my partner, which was fine with me because I figured she wouldn’t let me drown. I had fallen off a raft in an above ground pool at age five and was convinced that I had drowned once already. I wasn’t in a hurry to let that happen again.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with running races and mouthing the words to songs I didn’t know. The highlight of my day was heading back to the locker room, as I knew exactly where my bag was. One, two, three, four, five. The fifth locker. I was changed and ready before anyone else, wanting nothing more than to find my bus, where I could sit and stare out the window for the whole ride home. I remember I was in bed by 6pm that first night, out of complete exhaustion and overload. And I remember my foster mother commenting on how “All that fresh air must have tuckered her out.”  I had told her that I didn’t like it, and I remember thinking, why doesn’t she believe me?

The rest of the week, was much of the same, except that I had a lunch and could get out of having to talk by shoving food into my mouth. By the second to the last day a new girl, Linda, arrived, which gave me a partner finally, as all the others had pretty much stuck together. For some reason, she insisted on calling me Diana, and I let her. Linda and I were partners in swimming, the egg race and the three legged race. She was a bit bossy, but it made it easier to figure out what I was supposed to do. Linda and I didn’t sit together at lunch.

On the last day, as we were changing in the locker room, a pudgy little mean girl told me she hoped she would never see me again. I was completely shocked and was sure she was talking to someone else. I looked around me, but it became apparent that she was indeed talking to me. I’m not sure if it was because I knew it was the end of the last day, but somehow, I found my voice and told her “I was glad I never had to see her again.”  I wasn’t mean about it. In fact, I didn’t really even mean it as I had no idea who this girl was. Did she know me? Was she in my group? Did I know who was in my group? No. The truth was, I didn’t. I always knew where my group was because I had studied my counselors face and the length of her brown hair. I could recognize her and Linda. No one else. After spending an entire week with these kids I didn’t know any of them. I didn’t know what they looked like and I knew no ones name, except for the bossy little girl, that called me Diana.

Hope, who probably isn't really a turtle. 

Also, google drive can bite me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back to Reality.

Last week I got to escape for a mini vacation with the BF. It's amazing what a little sand, sea, and ocean air can do to calm the nerves. Aside from the 100 degree heat plus humidity, which gave me some serious cankles on the second to last day, it was a nice break from reality. If only I could have taken the sand, sea and ocean air home with me...

My first day back was filled with some mysterious stomach ailment, a panic attack, and physical exhaustion which had me asleep by 2pm. Switching gears is not only difficult for me, but also time consuming, as the only way it seems to work out well is if I take the slow and steady approach. Being home seems to have brought on this bizarre feeling of impending doom. It doesn't make sense and I can't often rationalize it with thoughts or words. All I can do is feel it. And when I do, it feels like shit.

I had my umpteenth (only because I can't remember what number this is) visit with The Head Doctor this afternoon, and I do feel slightly better, which is good because maybe that means I'm getting my money's worth. We touched on a lot of things so far, which makes it difficult sometimes to remember them all. Today the gist was more on why I feel this impending "doom" and why I feel this crazy need to leave, run away, start over etc...every three years or so.  Three years does seem to be my limit. I think Doll Making is the only job I've ever done that has lasted longer than that. Most everything though, work, relationships, place of residence, all have a three year shelf life. Even if they've actually lasted longer, three years is when it all starts that downward slide. It's like a three year itch, and I think part of my recent unsettled, anxiety ridden, and irritated state may have something to do with the fact that for the first time in my life, I'm not scratching that itch. I'm not impulsively quitting my job and jumping into something unpredictable. I'm also not ending a relationship, selling all my belongings and moving to another state. I'm just sitting here, doing this. You know what it feels like when you have an actual itch? Have you ever tried NOT scratching it? It'll just about drive you up a wall. Right now, I'm about half way up.

We also touched on that feeling of not belonging. Ironically, I didn't have that or the feeling of doom, while away. In a place that was mostly foreign to me, I felt calm and safe. Mostly. It wasn't until I got home that I felt as if I had woken up in a place I didn't belong. It was like one of those dreams where you suddenly realize you were supposed to go to work and you never did. Your heart sinks into your stomach, and the adrenaline starts to flow, causing your heart to beat out of your chest. Only it's not a dream, and I really have no idea where I'm supposed to be, only that I feel like it isn't here, and here isn't safe.

Somehow, these things are tied together. It could be because I'm so stuck on the pattern of things that I can feel deep in my bones that this... this, is NOT MY pattern. This is not how I do things. It could be that staying put, rather than stopping, running and reinventing, is throwing my whole being off kilter. Or it could be something entirely different. Either way, it's pretty obvious that if I'm not going to keep repeating that pattern, that I have to do something else. I'm not sure what yet though.

My homework is to pay attention to those times that I do feel at ease and like I'm right where I'm supposed to be. And also to pay attention to those times that I feel most uneasy and most like I don't belong. Seems simple enough, although for me it probably won't be. Patterns are easy. Linking and connecting is not. I don't always have the easiest time identifying my emotions or showing them appropriately, never mind trying to actually connect them to a real life event. Homework is hard, and as a dear friend said just recently, so is living.

Hope, who is still moving forward but at a snails pace...slow and steady.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Writing Project

In a addition to my time spent in Bloggerville, I've also started writing bits and pieces elsewhere in hopes that it will amount to something. Someday. Maybe. I thought instead of an actual post,  I would share a piece of that here today. goes...

"Did you get hit often? Witness a lot of violence?" , the doctor asked. It wasn't exactly a question per se. Not the way he asked it. It was more like a confirmation.

I was used to this kind of assumption, yet still, I found it slightly annoying when people looked at me with sympathetic eyes and spoke in an understanding tone, when they rarely understood anything at all. 

"No." I answered. "My mother never laid a hand on me." This was true. Never. Not even once. There were fights, of course, and some of them violent. There was a lot of anger when my mother was drinking, but none of it was ever aimed at me.

"Really?" he asked, almost disbelieving. "What kind of violence did you witness and who was the anger aimed at?"

"Boyfriends mostly." I replied, although really I should have just said Men, as none were boys, and none were friends, and none ever stuck around long enough to be. "There was a lot of yelling. Once one of her boyfriends took all of our clothes out of the bedroom, threw them in the bathtub, and then lit them on fire."

He let out a laugh. "He did!? Why did he do that?" Shit. He's laughing. How the hell do I know why he did that, I think, and why is that funny? I decide, once again, that I will never understand people. 

"I don't know." I answer. And our time is up. Thank god. It wasn't my idea to dive back into the past today. I had assumed after my brief but factual outline we would be done, but for some reason he wants to keep going back. 

He's looking, I suppose, because that's his job. Again, I suspect he's looking for something that isn't there. If he wants the truth he doesn't have to look that way. I can simply give it to him in words. These words. Yes, my mother was an Alcoholic. No, she never once hit me. Yes, she neglected me and exposed me to situations and people I should have never been exposed to. My adoptive mother hit me and called me a bitch. My alcoholic mother called me the most beautiful girl in the world. Who was right and who was wrong? It's doesn't matter, because that's not the point.

The truth, if he wants it, is that she drank to cope. She quit school at the age of sixteen because she was incredibly shy and unable to relate. When she was sober, she was quiet, reserved, lost, and hardly ever smiled. She suffered from seizures as a child. She trusted no one and spent most of her time alone. She didn't like loud noises or commotion or things that stunk. She never came to the amusement park. She never got her drivers licence. She had horrible nightmares. 

The truth is that the real problem lies so far beneath the stereotypical "Alcoholic Parent" that everyone keeps missing it. The truth, is in the pattern.