“A person can only drive you crazy if you give them the keys.” Step away from my keys!
Life Update February 22, 2014
The good news: mentally, I’m feeling better. The dark cloud didn’t send me too far down the slippery slope, and I am feeling normal again. (What is normal, by the way? I’m not sure, but it is somewhere between “Oh my God, I can’t bear to get out of bed and face the world” and “WOW! THIS-IS-THE-GREATEST-DAY-EVER-I-CAN-DO-ANYTHING!”)
The bad news: many bad things happening around me to people I know and love. I will not dwell on it (as that causes the slippery slope to loom over me) but one family member died yesterday and another got a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer (non-smoker). So much sadness around me that I actually feel physical pain.
Work right now is a bitch. No other way to say it. I still love my job, but I feel so stretched thin. I am needed by so many people to do so many things. Most schools have two people who do my job, but I am the only one at my school due to the budget. I usually don’t mind, but at times like this, when so much has to be completed in a short period, it is very hard on me. I will get through it, I just feel like I am not doing my best because I am doing too much.
It’s going to be a beautiful day here today, so I will sit outside in the sun and let it warm my soul. That makes everything more bearable.
Time Will Tell November 17, 2013
I stumbled upon a Facebook page of my old high school. I live within thirty minutes of where I grew up, but high school was not a good time for me so I put that time of my life behind me- along with the people I knew then. For some reason, I scrolled through a few screens of people trying to reconnect, or announcements of class reunions, and a name suddenly jumped out at me…the name of one of the men who gang raped me when I was 16. I closed my eyes and almost didn’t look at the page. After a moment, I looked: it was his death announcement.
I followed a link to an online obituary that showed pictures of him: with his wife, then children and grandchildren. The younger pictures looked just like the man I knew: cute, almost shy smile; slightly mussed blonde hair; and clear tan skin. As he aged, he got a little heavier, but seemed to maintain his “boy-next-door” good looks.
I expected to feel rage that he lived an ordinary life when I lived so much of mine in emotional pain. I expected to feel relief that he was dead and had suffered from the ravages of cancer. But I felt neither of these emotions.
I really felt….nothing. Just a little twinge that someone I once knew was dead.
Does this mean that I’ve really finally healed? Did I take back my power after all these years?
I hope so.
Only time will tell.
In Over My Head, and Then, Suddenly… October 15, 2013
I am drowning. I’m in over my head is so many ways and I don’t know what to do. Life is throwing me one curve ball after another, and stress is piled so high I can’t see the tunnel, let alone the light at the end of the tunnel. Things at work are getting harder and harder; I feel so much responsibility that I fear I will crack from the weight. At home, relationships are strained and nothing is easy. I miss my dog every single day. I don’t know from one day to another if J, (daughter with bipolar disorder) will be on the roller coaster high, where she becomes agitated, angry, and sometimes exhibits risky behavior; or if she will be on the roller coaster low, where she has trouble functioning and sometimes attempts to take her life. I feel I have no one to turn to’ no one to even understand. And then, suddenly….
Someone at work thanks me. A heartfelt, real, thank you. I feel appreciated.
My two dogs greet me at the door, full of love and energy. They need me and love me.
I look at my daughter and my love for her radiates from my every pore.
I have so much.
Suddenly, my life doesn’t seem as overwhelming.
Suddenly, I feel needed and loved.
Suddenly, I know I will be okay.
Unseen Burdens October 13, 2013
We all carry unseen burdens. Some hide their burdens very well, and you never know they exist. On the outside, these people seem to have it all, and many around them are envious. They look at their own flawed existence, and wonder why they cannot have that beautiful life.
I’ve lived on both sides. I was once the envied one, not because my life was perfect, but because I hid the flaws so well. I’ve also looked at others and wished I had their life. I’ve lived and experienced enough now, though, to know better. I have my set of problems, just like everyone else. None of us have it all figured out; we are all swimming in our own sea of doubts, fears, and sadness.
I no longer waste time feeling jealous of others. I also no longer hide the flaws of my world. It could be better, but it could be worse. I try to face my personal demons with humor. When depression sets in, I lay low and wait it out. When the good times come back, I live them fully and ride the wave of happiness as long as I can. When Bipolar Betty takes over my daughter, I help her through what I can, and remind myself it is the disease, not my daughter, acting and talking. We hold on tightly, and make it through together, as a family.
This is my life. These are my burdens. Don’t be jealous of me, and I won’t be jealous of you.
Cracks in the Veneer September 14, 2013
For days, weeks, and even (if I am lucky) months at a time, my life is shiny; covered with a beautiful glossy coat. Everything rolls along and falls into place as it should. Even the bumps in the road are handled with humor and navigated well. Good times are enjoyed, bad time are endured, and average times are sweet.
Then, for some unknown reason, the glossy veneer of my beautiful life begins to crack.
It always starts small. Something I forgot to do, and hubs mentions it. Or the boss mentions it. Or maybe no one mentions it, but I know and I feel it. It sours things just a wee bit, and the first tiny crack appears in the glossy veneer.
Even if I immediately take care of it, whatever caused the first crack haunts me. It reminds me of every other time I screwed up. It makes me feel like I am in over my head in this life; that sooner or later, I will be found out. I’m not good enough and everyone knows it. I am just living a lie.
So what is the difference? How is it that I can handle things so well for periods of time, then suddenly it all falls apart? I need to know, because I can feel the cracks creeping in, and things have been so good for a while now; I don’t want the darkness. I will fight it, but it always, always wins.
I Took Back My Power From the Rapist June 9, 2013
TRIGGER WARNING: Rape
It’s strange how J mimics my own life in some ways. I wish it wasn’t so.
She saw her rapist at the grocery store.
The same grocery store where I saw mine.
Years ago, as a very young and wild teen, I was gang raped by “friends”. Long story….I know I wrote about it already, but I don’t feel like searching for it to create a link. Maybe later.
A year later, I moved on. I made all new friends, cut my ties with that so-called group of friends (all of them, not just the ones who raped me). I literally moved on to a new boyfriend (who became my husband) in a new town. The first town is about a 35 minute drive to the town I moved to. I grew up, married, had kids, and became a teacher. My life moved forward, but my soul did not. Just as I did with the molestation I endured as a child, I covered it up and pretended it didn’t happen. If I don’t think about it, it can’t hurt me, right? Or so I thought.
One year, one of my students happened to be this weird little dude I will call Paul. I taught fourth grade, and some little boys having a crush on me was the norm; it goes with the territory. After a week or so, they usually get over it and fall for a more appropriate love interest, like the cute blonde with freckles who sits next to them in class. Paul, however, persisted to fawn over me all year. Like I said, a weird little dude. I met his mother several times during conferences and we laughed together over his strange infatuation with me.
At the end of the year we had a big awards ceremony. The day before, Paul gave me a strange smile and said,”My dad is coming to awards tomorrow.” I was slightly shocked, as Paul’s dad had not attended any events that year. In fact, Paul NEVER talked about his dad, so I assumed he was a very un-involved parent. Then Paul said, “My dad knows you.” He giggled and ran off.
I truly didn’t think anything of it until the next day. I was standing in my classroom when Paul’s dad, my old friend and rapist, stood in my doorway. Time stood still as our eyes met. The world around me faded away and all I could see where those eyes in the darkness. I was unable to blink or breath until he smirked and turned away. He told his son he would see him at the ceremony and then he was gone. When I was able to move again, I looked at Paul, who stood there, staring at me, with that same smirk. Like he knew.
Somehow I got through that day. I pulled Paul’s records and realized I lived one street over from my former friend. We lived one street apart and I never knew until that day.
But he knew. He knew the whole time that I was Paul’s teacher.
That summer I saw him again. This time at the grocery store. I left my groceries in the cart and walked out.
It began to eat away at me. I couldn’t sleep without nightmares. I began spending most of my waking hours doing the “What If” game. What if I had pressed charges. What if I called him out in front of his wife. What if…
Finally I realized this was very counter-productive for me. I had to take my life back. I could not run from this anymore. A few days later, in the same grocery store, I saw him. I followed him. When he saw me, the blood drained from his face. I was angry and I did not look away. I would not back down. I took back my power when I looked him in the eyes and loudly said, “Fancy meeting you here. Does you wife know you are a rapist? Does she know how you gave an under-aged girl drugs until she passed out, so you and your sick friends could rape her?” I saw true fear in his eyes for the first time. In that moment, I got my power back. He and his fear no longer controlled me.
Life is funny. That was years ago, and I have not had a chance encounter with him since. He still lives one street away, but it no longer haunts me. In fact, I hadn’t thought about him and those events in a long time.
I wonder how long it will be until J gets her power back.
Life is So Hard and He Said Hello June 3, 2013
WHY? WHY? WHY? Why does life have to be so hard for her? Why does she feel so much pain all the time? I don’t understand how these things keep happening to her, when she is such a good, decent person.
J had a terrible weekend. She has been cycling badly for days now. Her psychiatrist is out-of-town, and she will not see anyone else. Then Sunday, she went to the grocery store. Guess who she ran into? Yep, the rapist. AND HE SAID HELLO LIKE IT WAS ANY NORMAL DAY. She said she felt like vomiting.
Today her work called me. J had a seizure and the ambulance took her to the emergency room.
Turns out it was not a real epileptic seizure, but a pseudo-seizure brought on by stress. I’m sure it felt real enough to her.
Stress is a terrible, horrible monster. Trust me, I know.
Life Goes On June 1, 2013
She refused to do anything about the rape. After that day, she didn’t want to talk about it. J is much like me in her ability to bury things deep inside. It kills me to see her do that, because I know what burying secrets does to you. The secrets come out at night and haunt your dreams. They creep up randomly in the middle of the day and make you unable to breathe. Secrets that you keep buried eat away at your soul, swallowing it bit by bit. Trust me, I know.
But burying secrets is a way to survive and keep living. It is a coping skill; a bad one, but a coping skill nonetheless. I was once gang raped by a group of guys who I thought were my friends. I was drunk and high on drugs, so the next morning I buried it away. After all, I put myself in that position. It was my fault. Those were the thoughts I had at the time, so I pretended it didn’t happen. Even when I saw them later in the week, I pretended nothing was different. Inside, I felt dead. I continued doing drugs and drinking heavily for a few more years. I attempted suicide several times. When I wasn’t attempting suicide, I lived as recklessly as I could. Dying seemed better than living. I was in a bad place for a long time. It was years before I could grieve and even admit to myself that I was raped.
I worry so much about J. She carries so many wounds and she is not tough like I am. She feels every little jab deep in her heart. She is so trusting, yet she keeps getting hurt. J is a good, loyal person with a heart of gold. She trusted that when she said no, he would listen. It wasn’t a playful, ambiguous no. She was crying. She meant it.
My anger is still boiling. She begged me not to tell anyone, not even her dad or sister. So I have another secret that I must carry, because when I make a promise I keep it. I do not know what will happen if I run into him somewhere. In this small town, it is bound to happen. I know where he works. I could easily find out where he lives. I lay in bed at night and dream up scenarios of what I would do to him if I could. I will not share with you what my twisted mind concocts because it frightens me to think I can even dream of such terrible things. But she is my baby, no matter her age. She is handicapped mentally and he took advantage of that. To me, that is more inhumane than the horrors my mind creates.
I am here, drinking my coffee and beginning my day. J spent the night with a friend and is planning her best friend’s wedding. The birds are chirping and the sun is rising. Life goes on.
Sunday Morning Update on the Family May 26, 2013
Happy Sunday morning! It is early morning here as I sit on the porch and drink my second cup of coffee. It’s a “linger and take small sips” kinda morning. The sun is shining but there is a cool crispness in the air. I hear the crow of the neighborhood rooster in the distance. He seems to insist for you to get up and start the day. A morning dove calls her lonely song out and other birds chirp “good mornings”.
I love that it is never quiet in the early morning hours. The sounds of nature put me at ease.
I haven’t done an update on my life in a while, so….
I’ve dealt with much anxiety in the past month, mostly over things of my own doing. <Heavy sigh.> Will I ever be able to stop making my own life hard? On a better note, school is out in 2 weeks and I will be home for a little while. I’m excited to have time to get a few things done for me. I’m no longer waiting for Hubs to do things, because it never happens. So, I will do it myself.
I’m not a church goer, so I will spend my day doing all those things that don’t get done during the workweek. Also, I don’t think I shared some wonderful news: my daughter S and her partner E just bought a house! It’s a cute old house in the historic section of town. We are busy helping them move this weekend. It fills my heart with joy to see her so happy taking this step. To think she is only 24! She is so traditional in everything she does (except of course she happens to be gay.) I hope the wanderlust that plagues me never gets into her heart.
I also have exciting news about J (my daughter who has an eating disorder, bipolar, and anxiety issues). SHE STARTED BACK TO COLLAGE! She took the steps she needed to do to get financial aid and sign up for the courses she needs. The classes are online and she started this week. She has made an “A” on every assignment so far! I am so proud of her for doing this. She’s dealt with some strong anxiety in the process, but she did it.
My heart is full of pride and happiness for both of my girls.