For Now, Not Farewell

First, and foremost, I wanted to let all of my wonderful blogging friends know that I am alright.  The gaps between posts keep getting larger, and I worry that others are worrying.  I will make you a promise now that if something serious happens and there is a critical situation, I will not hesitate to inform everyone.

There are a lot of things that are happening in my life right now.  Many personal matters need attending to.  I’m probably getting laid off in three weeks, although my boss doesn’t seem like she wants to drop that bomb on me.  Personally, I find that incredibly irresponsible.  I could have been looking for other work.  Well, in any usual situation.

Still, it creates a serious blow to my self-esteem at a time when it is not well received.  I know everyone has been passed over for a job and has suffered layoffs before.  It’s really unpleasant, to say the least about it.  Then, there’s entire summer, twelve weeks ahead of me, where I have to sit on my hands and wonder if I’m getting recalled for the school year.  Something tells me that I’m not.

There are an increased number of incidents that have been happening on my watch.  I see my faults and flaws as a teacher, though I have little help on my end establishing my role and developing my skills.  I feel as if I am not well accepted or even really respected at my job. I feel undervalued and underutilized.  Each project I have suggested has been shot down.  And, each time I volunteer for something, I am assured that my assistance is not needed.

I realize this could be the ever present paranoia that has been occurring where I get this idea that I am being persecuted in my life (including at my job).  This includes ideas what someone / something is out to get me.  Or, it could be the subconscious vibes I get from others.  My immediate employees that are on the outer circle of the program seem to be unaware.

However, those on the internal circle are treating me as if I am a ghost.  They mumble a sort of hello as I walk by, hardly acknowledging my presence.  No one is keen on engaging me in conversation.  And those that are my higher-ups have taken to lambasting me at every chance they get for things that aren’t entirely my doing.

I’ve always kept Xanax on my person at all times, in case I encounter a situation that flares the anxiety.  Typically, this is an unexpectedly crowded area.  Lately, Xanax has become part of my diet.  I can’t fathom the idea of going back there.  And I tick the days off of my calendar.  Twenty-two left before I am unemployed.  Twenty-two left before leaving my house becomes optional.

(I’m exhausted this morning and not very inspired.  Please forgive the bland post.)

I had told my husband at one point, “I feel as if there are many things that have gone neglected in my personal life, especially my home life that other things are interfering with.  Maybe it’s for the best.”  I believe that there is a rhyme and a reason to everything, whether it is God or just the pattern of the universe.  Choose whichever suits you.

My husband agreed.  I’ve mentioned that he needs tended to more now than ever.  I’m not the only one who thinks so.  His best friend has been sending check-in messages, noting that C.S. “hasn’t been himself for awhile.” I am very focused on keeping my resolve so that I can be a part of his treatment.  It’s difficult.  He has always been my rock, the stable touchstone that I could rely on to keep me in check.  Now, it seems, the tables have turned.

Six more days until the appointment.  I’m checking the days off of my calendar, holding onto the wild ride as hard as I can to get us there.

Then, there is the matter of my son.  Though he has made significant gains without therapy in the last six months, he still requires it.  He still remains behind his peer group in terms of speaking and social interaction.  And because of everything that has happened with his parents in the last six months, I have been unable to navigate the labyrinth of services.

That is something that takes a lot of time.  I recall from the first time we had to go through this.  There were a lot of evaluations in places that were at least a half an hour’s drive from here.  Even the ones in home took an hour at the least.  There were meetings with counselors, social workers, specialists, and all manner of people.  It took a great deal of time, effort, focus, and all of the things I’m sorely lacking in my position right now.

My lack of initiative makes me feel like a bad parent.  It makes me feel as if I’ve robbed him of crucial developmental time.  My self-absorption in my illness makes me feel as if I have precipitated and then ignored serious signs and symptoms in my husband.  I find that I am destabilizing to the point where I don’t want to return to work.  And the paranoia and the anxiety it produces when I think of all of this are too much to handle.

I’ve determined that I need a break.  Please, don’t take this as I am self-isolating.  I have been feeling this way for months now, starting in my depressive state.  I wasn’t sure if it was the trickery of depression, or if it was a genuine need to crawl inside my shell for solace.  My emotional reserves are tapped, and I’m really running on empty.  My support system is crumbling, and I feel like I can’t run my life anymore.

I have even made the consideration to file for disability.  Making the admission that I might not be of sound mind enough to work with any stability is very difficult for me.  It’s difficult to think that I am having such a hard time managing my personal life.  I do understand that things are unusual in the way of stress and function (or lack thereof).  However, I seem to think that others who aren’t quite as affected may stand a better chance against life’s little upheavals.

For myself, to collect my own emotional fortitude, and to prioritize what little there is left to go around, I must limit my writing.  This is so that I may stabilize my personal life, and have reflections that may be useful to those in my immediate vicinity.  I would like to focus primarily on my personal journal at the moment, in order to keep a solid documentation of what is going on, free of any flare or censorship (yes, sadly, there is a little that happens here).

I adore each and every one of you.  I am always available via email at tallulahlulustark@gmail.com  If you’d like to touch base with me, or just need to talk about something, I am always available and always willing.

Just for now.  This is not a farewell.

I’m Game!

I didn’t realize that I had been tagged multiple times.  I should have!  As I was saying to Angel, events that occurred during my depressive fog kind of jumble together.  So, I’m still catching up.

So, I’ve arrived at Angel’s Questions.  Here’s the deal.  I’m not going to tag, because I’m sure everyone has been tagged by now.  If not, feel free to pick up the questions I leave at the bottom.

Angel’s Questions:

1) What is your favorite mini-series?

Hands down, “Pillars of the Earth”.  If you haven’t read the book, by Ken Follett that’s fine.  You can read the book before or after you watch the mini series.  In this case, it doesn’t really matter.

2) What song is currently stuck in your head?

Now that you mentioned it, one came to mind, “Teardrop” by Massive Attack.  It is also the “House” TV series theme song.

3) If you’re a girl, who would you pick as your girl-crush? Or if you’re a guy, who would you pick as your guy-crush? You have to choose at least one. Although I guess this question has a heteronormative bias. Whoops. Well, if you identify as homosexual, choose someone of the opposite sex as your answer. Okay, I’m amending this question to try to make it as bias-free as possible. Who’s one guy and one girl you have a crush on? You must choose one of each.

Literally, and this is going to sound hilarious.  I have a crush on my husband.  I’m not kidding.  Any and all males who bear a striking resemblance to my husband can be included.  That’s Robert Pattinson, (Edward Cullen from “Twilight”), and Tom Welling (Clark Kent from “Smallville”).

Women?  Kate Winslet!  She is gorgeous, no matter what color her hair.  She had the perfect figure.  She’s not rail thin, and she’s curvy.  She is a real woman.

4) If you got to choose any occupation you wanted and money wasn’t an issue, what would you choose and why?

Cheating.  My ideal occupations are teacher and writer.  Both of which I am doing, and both of which I am not making a whole lot of money at.

I love being an educator.  I really do.  It is fulfilling and thrilling.  It’s different each day.  I get to watch about 90 kids grow up each year.  And to think that I’m a part of their lives, even for that short time.  Some will be able to look back to that and think, “That’s Ms. Em.  She taught me music when I was a kid.”  I remember some of my favorite teachers, the ones who really touched my life.  And that’s what I try to do every day, is make a difference in a child’s life.

As a writer, I want to make a difference in the mental health community by lending my voice, support, and ideas.  I want this to become a serious public issue one day, not something that everyone just puts on the backburner, because they don’t want to talk about it.  Mental health is important.  Mental health disorders are real, and they have a real effect in people’s lives.  Untreated, there are serious consequences.  I want the world to see it, and know it.

5) When you’re using numbers to make a list, do you put periods, parentheses, or something else (if so, what), after the numbers? Why do you think you have this preference?

When I’m using numbers to make a list, there is the number, a period, and then a parentheses.  It would look like this 1.)  I have this preference because it looks neater and is easier on my eyes when I’m skimming the list.

6) What sorts of books do you like to read, and why?

I have favorite genres.  Personally, I love psychology books.  Psychology is my thing.  It could have been my career, but I decided education is where my heart was.  There’s a scientific way to figure out how anything works.  We can take all kinds of things apart and figure it out.  Even the human body.  But, we still haven’t figured out the brain.

That’s because the mechanisms that make the brain work aren’t physically apparent.  It’s a mysterious thing.  I want to know how people think.  I want to know why they are the way they are.  I want to be able to draw similarities and differences between them.  It’s just fascinating.  People are complex and fascinating creatures.

7) You’re driving for at least four hours by yourself. You don’t have a CD player, and you can’t hook up your mp3 player or smartphone to your stereo. How do you occupy yourself?

I’ve never thought about it.  I’ve never actually driven that kind of distance alone.  I guess I would have to start playing license plate games, or something. 

8) Do you believe in anything supernatural? If so, what?

Of course I believe in the supernatural!  I believe in ghosts, aliens, astrology, spirits, “God” (if you will), and all kinds of things.  Especially aliens and astrology.  Astrology is something that ties in closely with psychology when you look at it hard enough.

Anyone who is interested, I do natal astrology.  Mainly through the use of natal charts.  Go ahead, check out your chart and see how close to being correct it is.

9) Why do you visit my blog? (How’s that for a nosy self-promoting question? No, you don’t need to answer this second question. It’s rhetorical.)

I’ll answer it, because I don’t think it’s important information.  I visit your blog for a number of reasons.  At first, it was interesting to see how events unfold in your life.  It was kind of like piecing together a character in a story.  What has happened?  What will happen?  Things of that nature.

But, with every story, I find myself getting involved.  Except, with a character in a book, there is no way of two was communication.  However, here, you’re not a character.  You are a person.  And I have become involved with you as a person.

I want to know about your life.  I want to know how you are feeling and what you are doing.  I want to hear your ideas, your feelings, your thoughts, musings, whatever you have to give.  There is a certain investment there.  It’s interesting, and it’s a two way street.

10) If you have a smartphone, which 5 apps do you use the most? If you don’t have a smartphone, why not?

Pandora, WordPress, Twitter, Weather Channel, and my email client.  Does that count as an app?  If not, then I’d name Tumblr as my fifth.

11) What is the most important principle for you to live your life by, and why?

Altruism.  Pay it forward.  I want to be as selfless as I can possibly be without passing myself over completely.  I have needs and wants.  I cannot forget that.  However, I know that I want to balance that with my desire to provide support roles to others.

In my entire life, I’ve always played a support role.  In school, I played in the orchestra pit during musicals.  No one ever saw my face.  I sang alto and tenor, harmony parts that enrich the melody.  Most of the time, when I sang tenor parts, no one in the crowd realized that it was me, a woman, who carried that part.

Today, I’m the woman behind a brilliant man.  I’m the teacher that is building students up to be incredible people in their lives.  I’m the music director in productions.  No one ever sees my face.  That’s fine.  I was the one who designed and hand stapled all of those programs, without any billing in the liner notes.

I am the mother behind an incredible boy.  My son is truly something else.  I know all mothers say that, but he’s so curious.  He has limited communication skills.  But, he’s three.  He can do math.  He knows the Fibonacci sequence (to a certain point), without ever having been taught.  He knows his alphabet, and can sight read.  I didn’t teach him to sight read, but he just started doing it one day.  All of these things, besides counting the alphabet, were things I thought he was too young or impaired to do.  I guess I was wrong.

And I know that with some help, and a lot of love, encouragement, and work on both of our parts, he is going to be a brilliant man, maybe more so than his father one day.

All of that.  What about what I want?  I want a lot of things, believe me.  But, I’m willing to sacrifice all of the things that I want to see others succeed.

Optional Questions:

  1. What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of your gender are?
  2. You’re kicked out of the country you currently reside in.  Where do you go?
  3. What do you do with your change?
  4. What is your favorite beverage and why?
  5. What would be your ideal vacation spot?  Why?
  6. Do you have pictures around your house?  Of what?
  7. Do you think that if I were to walk into your house right now that I would have any idea about who lived there?  Why, or why not?
  8. Doomsday Scenario:  A solar storm knocks power grids out worldwide.  There is no way to know when power will be restored, or if it will.  What is the first thing you do, and why?
  9. What do you think is the meaning of life?
  10. Another Doomsday Scenario:  A few servers malfunctioned and the internet is going to be down indefinitely.  What do you see yourself doing to entertain yourself?
  11. Are you superstitious?  What are some of your superstitions?

I Am Not God : 30 Days of Truth

Day 05: Something you hope you never have to do.

Decisiveness is not my strong point. I realize that certain choices can have long lasting effects. One choice can start a major chain reaction, cascading through many aspects of life, for better or worse. I have difficulty evaluating which decision will yield the best results, or do the least amount of damage. In fact, I’m sometimes so indecisive that mundane, daily selections become a challenge. What to eat? What to wear?

I hope that I will never have to be faced with a life or death decision.

I am not God. Nor can I ever pretend to be any spiritual deity that would be remotely qualified to render that judgment. I do not even have the capacity to make that choice for myself.

As a woman on a slew of medication and also of child-bearing age, this is a hot topic that remains fixed in the peripherals. I’m sure it’s something many women using pharmaceutical treatment for mental health think about. These are black box medications. What would I do if I got knocked up?

I’d love to have a definitive answer. In all fairness, this is a lot more complicated than your average abortion debate.

Yes, I’d keep the baby.
Taking a life is wrong. It’s not up to me to decide. If I took every precaution, and I still managed to conceive, then it was really meant to happen. I couldn’t imagine the heartbreak of losing a child, and the resentment toward myself for doing it purposefully. It would be an impossible decision to live with. Every life deserves a chance. Every child is a blessing.

No, I would abort the baby.
Sometimes, a woman has to do what is best for herself, the child in question, and her family. It would not be right to bring a child into this world that may likely have extraordinary special needs. It would be wrong for the potential child, cursing them to a life of physical and / or mental disability. It would be criminal to drain precious few resources from the rest of the family, such as time, money, and energy. And it may be extremely dangerous, if not fatal to both fetus and mother if I were to quit medication cold turkey.

This could turn to a very heated dialog. I have to cut it off at some point. We’ll cross that bridge if we get there.

That’s the only definitive life-and-death decision I can produce. There are thousands of scenarios.

I’m holding my husband by one arm and my son by the other from a ledge where they both slipped. I only have enough strength with both of my arms to save one. Who do I choose?

Life and death. It’s too big of a moral dilemma for me to ever want to handle. There are some moments where I could make a hard and fast decision. Giving my life to protect my loved ones? Yes. Taking a life to protect my loved ones? Only if absolutely necessary. Taking a life for vengeance? No.

Otherwise, leave me out of it.

Mommy Cries Too

Warning: This post has controversial and potentially disturbing content surrounding suicide, psychic trauma, and child abuse. Reader’s discretion is strongly advised.

It started as a whimpering, jaw tight with a lip curled over. Soft, pattering, high pitched little noises, not much to even notice over the ambient noise. The realities of what played out in front of these oceanic colored eyes, glistening with anticipating tears, struck hard, and relentlessly roared inward and outward. The sheer force gusted forth a sharp wail, the same violently held hostage in the same dusty box of voices moments earlier.

Thoughts, voices, dialogues, monologues, scenes, words, swamped and overwhelmed this consciousness. Bits swarming together and fashioning a patchwork quilt for the minds eye to finally behold. Nowhere to turn, the newly formed blanket enveloped every last portion. Inescapable, imprisoned in truths, half-truths, past, present, and future. Sobs and tears erupted like a furious geyser, spattered with guttural words.

Why?

I can’t make you happy.

Please, stop crying.

Mommy cries too.

. . . dissolving nearly as soon as they came into reality.

The tiny voice murmured indistinguishable speech, only heard through the hitches. His presence shifted, but only once removing himself to procure a gift. Eyes squeezed shut, tears slithering though hands to fall where they may. Again, he joined the wailing, wolves howling in the night. He fashioned himself as a koala, and held tight.

– – –

Curled on the bed in sullen agony, with lead curling in tendrils up and down each limb. The tiny voice said, “Juice?” A raw, numb voice replied, “Go get your cup.” “My cup, my cup,” he repeated for a scant few moments.

A frustrated cry, and a strike on the back. Another. Laying there, absorbing the blows in hopes they would soon cease for good. Another, then a few in succession. A pause. A warm circle in the direct center of the back, a scrape of teeth.

A memory flashed, and I shot right up. Without thought, I slapped him on his right cheek, but in a nanosecond held back, but couldn’t entirely stop the motion. His face pucked, tears welled and spilled from his eyes, and he screamed. I pounced.

“We do not bite! We do not bite! We do not bite! We do not bite! No bite! No biting! No! We do not bite!” I belted until I ran out of air.

Stop! Before you hit the X in the corner, and do your mandated reporting, read this. This is an isolated incident. I has never occurred before. I had no malice or ill intention for my child. This was a snap reaction that I am now extremely cognizant of. So please, at least read the rest of it before you contact authorities.

We both were there, staring at one another, gasping for breath. He threw himself into my arms. I enbraced him for a second, only a second, and put him on his bed. I stood and sighed, “We both need a time out.”

I started for the door, and his screams grew wilder. I turned to look, and he was now curled in the bed, hysterical. Poisonous daggers jammed deep into my heart. His pain was mine, but the urgency for me to abandon him was too great. Stay and harm him, or leave and harm him?

I sat down at my desk, and lit a cigarette. As I exhaled, I choked back more tears. Sinking, cigarette smoke swirling around me, all of the menacing thoughts rose to prey on my guilt to intensify my pain.

I am a bad mother.

I am. Another monster in a history of monsters. What was the flash in my mind that drove me to these horrific actions?

He was enraged, tearing through the house, screeching. I became smaller than small, for I already was small. I clutched my plastic cup, hoping I could disappear. I was in the basement, and the elephants trumpeted and stampeded back and forth, trampling throughout the house.

When his feet hit the cement floor, his eyes fixed on me. He made a run for me, and I dashed for the stairs, for the safety of my parents, a room with a lock, anything. And in that stairwell, he lunged on me. He sunk his teeth hard into the center of my back and I let out a blood curdling scream.

I screamed and screamed, tears pouring out. It had been the worst pain I had ever experienced up until that point. My parents were removing him from my back before even addressing me or my wound.

My father helped me to my feet and my mother was nowhere to be found. The pain intensified anytime I moved.

And all he could say was: “It doesn’t hurt that bad.”

 

I made a painful realization. I cannot remember a childhood before eleven for a reason: My parents let my autistic brother brutalize me.

It’s no excuse. None. This is no feasible And as I furiously dragged on that cigarette, I determined that my son, my family, would be better off without me.

It could be done with ease. I would call into work and tell my boss I couldn’t make it in. I’d neglect to tell my parents, and my son could be safe with them. And, I’d empty the Vicodin bottle with the Wellbutrin bottle into my mouth, and wash it down in one big gulp.

Then, I’d prepare my note. I would not want to leave this world without at least a few words to as a testament to my own failures, not anyone else’s.

My sister called, before that train of thought could steam along into action. Sometimes, there is a such thing as divine intervention. She rarely calls that late in the morning. While idly listening, I mustered the courage to face my son. I nervously peeked into his room.

My little boy was sleeping, with the angelic, peaceful look all children have while slumbering. Eased for a moment, but then sinking again. I knew I would not be able to apologize before I left for work.

He may never know how incredibly ashamed, guilty, monstrous, and sorry I feel. He may never know how much I hate myself for seemingly not loving him enough to stop myself. I won’t try to justify it. The only thing I can see is the traumatized look on his face, the tears glistening as they poured down. And all I want to do is to walk to a bridge, any bridge in Pittsburgh will do, and leap from that great height to plunge into water that would guarantee near instantaneous death if the fall didn’t do it first.

This is not a testament. I am miserably, but safely at work. This is my aching, broken heart pouring out. This is my confession.

 

Note: There was a lot of hesitation about posting this once it was written. If you have harsh reprimands, please keep them to yourself. I’m in a very fragile state right now.

Admissions of a Birthday Girl

Tomorrow marks another year closer to three decades of my existence on Planet Earth. Admittedly, there is, and always has been a strong contradiction between the number of birthdays I’ve celebrated, the age of my face, and the age of my soul. If everyone in the world forgot the year I was born, I would be very confused about my age.

A few months ago, I gazed in the mirror one day to see my first noticeable signs of aging. Before that, I had a face as smooth and white as a baby’s bottom. A baby face, that took at least five to ten years off of my chronological age. When I was pregnant, people gazed at me in shock and horror, as if I were a teen mother. I went to complete paperwork at the bank for my name change, and the teller was taken aback. “I swear, I wouldn’t have thought you were old enough to get married.” I got that, a lot.

Tick - tock.

Quite the oddity, I was actually excited to see the fine lines across my scarred forehead and around my mouth. I may be the only woman on the planet that was excited to see my face start to catch up with my chronological age! I despised my youthful appearance. I have never felt as if my chronological age fit, nor did I take it as a compliment when someone thought I was a teenager.

I will make an admission; I am one of those people that typically loathes their own birthday.  Yes, I find it absolutely pretentious.  Except, I do not detest my birthday for the same reasons that everyone else does.  As previously stated, I like the aging process.  I have always been excited about gaining more numbers.  My birthday just falls in a bad time of the year.

Growing up, I secretly envied peers that had birthdays during warmer months.  Pennsylvania has reasonable temperatures between March and November.  My friends would have all kinds of fun parties, because they weren’t all trapped in the house, buried in four feet of snow, and huddled around the heater in subzero temperatures.  Camping parties, pool parties, outdoor parties, indoor parties where we could run around the yard, parties in the park, and every other conceivable party I couldn’t have.

As an adult, the problem grew worse.  In the last ten years, I have had two nice days on my birthday.  My 22nd and my 24th.  Neither of those birthdays had anything planned.  I can’t plan a party.  Every year I have tried, I was doomed for especially bad weather.  My 23rd had to be moved to the weekend of Superbowl Sunday, when the Steelers were playing.  Living in Pittsburgh, the Steelers in the Superbowl is more important than anything.  When they win the Superbowl, the city gets shut down for two days, because everyone is too busy celebrating to go to work.  If they’re not going to work, they sure as hell aren’t going to my birthday party.

People don’t want to come out in January if they don’t have to.  I have been cursed with ice storms, heavy snow, and subzero temperatures.  So, I stopped planning parties.  I stopped planning anything, actually.  Because each year, I have been brutally disappointed.  Those disappointments mounted into resentment for that day.

Not this year!  I don’t especially care what the weather is like.  It does not matter if my friends or family notice the date on the calendar or not.  I like my birthday.  I am celebrating me, and everything my life has amounted to.  I am happy with myself, and all that I’ve created and become.  There is no need for anyone to justify my thoughts or emotions about me.

I love that it’s on a Saturday, because there are no expectations.  I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.  And, I have all of the time in the day to do anything I do want to do.  I will go out and have a lovely dinner on the house.  (I already have the voucher).  Then, I will buy myself the things that I actually want for my birthday.  No expectations, no disappointments.

This past year has been one of the harder ones, but not the hardest.  I have made so much progress in all aspects of my life.  I am managing my physical and mental health well.  My marriage is solid.  My career is taking root.  And my son is growing.  My family is happy and healthy.  I am happy and healthy.  Those are all of the things I’ve ever wanted. This birthday, I have them all.

The best birthday present ever is the pride that I have in myself.  I have walked through fire to get to this point.  I may not have done it all gracefully.  But, I made it out stronger, wiser, and better for it all.

Taunts of Absolution : 30 Days of Truth

Day 4 : Something you have to forgive someone for.

In years past, my relationship with my parents was far beyond dysfunctional. Although we are building a mutually respectful relationship as adults, I do not feel as if I am considered a daughter. I am a family friend, the mother of their grandson. That extraordinarily detrimental relationship created a schism too great to have a distinct parent-child relationship. I have resigned myself to the notion that I will never be my parents daughter, and they will never be my mother and father.

I have touched upon the subject in prior posts, One Day, I’m Going to Grow Wings, Spitting Fire, and The Real Demons. Mostly, I fear I will remain unable to absolve them of the responsibility for the suffering they caused me, directly and indirectly.

I have to question every aspect of my childhood. The problem arises, because I don’t remember the greater majority of my childhood prior to age twelve. I could never figure out the reason for such an impenetrable block. It was only very recently that I discovered the numerous reasons for such incredible repression.

My brother has moderate autism. My mother was a raging alcoholic. And my father is a war veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As if that wasn’t dysfunctional enough, it accumulated into an overall bad home life. I have fragmented memories, drudged up by raising my own son.

My father was largely absent prior to age twelve. Most of his time was spent in the psychiatric ward in the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital. And when he released back home, he isolated himself from the family. I was far too young to understand what was happening. All I knew was that my daddy was sick, and he was never going to get any better. To me, it felt like my daddy didn’t love me. He didn’t love any of us.

required special accommodations. I was lonely, and felt as if I were nonexistent to them. Completely transparent in their world. I did everything I could for recognition. My grades were perfect, and my standardized scores were well into the 98th percentile. I had taught myself my instrument in one summer and My parents were busy handling my brother. He had special needs that ]gained first chair. My attendance in Sunday School was spotless, and I was a devout Episcopalian. What more could a parent ask for in their own daughter?

All of these achievements bred resentment among my classmates, and they alienated me from their social groups. My mother made it crystal clear when I was just a little girl that she had no desire to play with me. My brother was nowhere near my level of functioning to participate in games. I spent many nights in solitude, alone in my room with only my dolls and stuffed animals.

When I began middle school, I finally began to make friends. It was the best thing that ever happened to me! Finally, I wouldn’t be so alone. I was incredibly enthusiastic about the prospect of friendship and all of the wonderful kinship it entailed.

It was short lived. Only a year later, I began to suffer my first symptoms of bipolar disorder.

And that is the precise time my father emerged from his decade long hibernation. The man was disgusted with everything about me. He was certainly a far cry from shy about vocalizing his opinions. The criticisms ranged from my appearance, to my friends, to my music, and my hobbies. I was hurt. It was more evidence to strengthen my theory of his lack of love for me, as I was, instead of his idea of me.

I was also enraged. Who was he to come bursting into my life after so many years of absence?

He was merciless in his punishments. The greater majority of my teen years were spent incarcerated in the very same room I was isolated in as a girl. These were typically for minor infractions – “talking back” (which I considered to be expressing an opinion), disrespect, messy room, “feigning illness”, lying, etc. All because I wanted some independence and to assert myself as an individual.

In heated arguments, he would rough me up. He was careful not to do this when my mother was around, or leave any evidence. One time, I called him an asshole. Insistently, he got in my face and demanded I take a free swing at him. I refused. It would only provide him with an opportunity to lay his hands on me.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. He grabbed my throat in one hand and pinned me against the wall, and lifted me high into the air. I tried to scream, but there was not enough air in my lungs. He screamed in my face, leaving me soaked in spit. He let me go, and I crumpled to the ground, nearly in tears.

I won’t cry. I won’t give him the satisfaction.

My mother found an even better excuse to take figurative and literal swings at me. She’d get belligerently drunk and deliberately provoke me. I would attempt escape, but there was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even allowed the privacy of a door on my room.

There was an instance where she followed me around the house, insulting me as I went. I begged her to leave me alone. I attempted escape to somewhere, anywhere I could possibly manage in the house. I ended up heading to my room, of course. She taunted me, saying, “You’re just a lot of fucking talk, you little bitch. I’ll teach you a lesson about that mouth of yours.”

She swung at me, and caught me across my right jaw. Instinctively, I pulled my right hand back, and swung down toward her face, backhanding her as hard as I could. Disoriented by the blow, she stumbled backward, nearly falling down a flight of stairs. (It wasn’t the first time, and wouldn’t be the last). I grabbed her arm and pulled her forward to standing.

A look of shock and malice spread across her face as she spewed, “Just wait until I tell your father.”

So many things were said. Hurtful, awful things.

My father:

This is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship, and I’m the dictator!

I wish you were never born!

How dare you defy me, you little bitch!

Go on! Run up to your room and play that gloomy noise you call music. I dare you to cut yourself! Cut to your hearts content, I don’t give a shit!

My mother:

You are the little bitch that ruined my life!

Go on out there and be the little slut that you are.

I am ashamed to even take you out in public.

If it weren’t for you, your father and I would never fight. You’re going to tear our family apart. I hope you’re happy.

These haunting words still have a faint echo in certain corridors of my mind.

- Staind

I cried out for help. I was dismissed as spoiled, going through a phase, and attention-seeking. I did need attention. By the time I was in high school, I had attempted suicide twice and was cutting at least weekly. And still, they turned a blind eye to it. I had to force their hand to get the help I needed. I can’t help but feel if they were more involved, they would have noticed my behavior was amiss. They failed to get me diagnosed correctly.

For a great duration, I held them accountable for my screwed up mind. In my eyes, all of the neglect and abuse made me crazy. I went on to have dysfunctional and abusive relationships. I was devoid of self-esteem and vulnerable. My baggage would have been too much to check at the airport.

As I have grown, I have come the realization that certain things were beyond their capacity for parenting. They could not have been better parents, given the circumstances. It’s not as if there weren’t moments where they tried. By that point, the damage had been done.

I have tried desperately to forgive them for those awful behaviors. But, each time I find myself getting close, another hurtful experience comes to pass, reviving old memories that I relive in my mind over and over again. Some scars will never fade. I can never forget. But perhaps, one day, I will have the capacity to forgive all of their wrongdoings.

Tarnished and Golden Friday

Lulu Quirk #5 – extreme claustrophobia. Large crowds in tight spaces are the easiest way to set off a panic attack capable of anything. Black Friday might be the scariest day of the year. Every year, I reserve this day for hunkering down in the bunker and waiting it out, like people wait out a snow storm.

The Suit Strikes Again
The bad news started early that day. C.S. spoke with our lawyer. The plaintiff lawyered up, and now, the driver of the vehicle is claiming personal injury. (The owner and the driver are not the same person).

What bull! When I arrived on the scene, C.S. was sitting on the curb with and unfocused stare. His glasses had been lost, and no one even bothered to attempt to locate them! One leg was extended and swollen with bruising. It was clear he was hurt, and yet they let him just sit on the ground.

And she’s claiming personal injury!? Complete lies. When I arrived, she and her male friend (still not the owner) were jumping up and down in the attempt to get the convertible roof down. I saw her up close. There wasn’t a scratch on her. This lawsuit has become a circus.

I am not at liberty to discuss the next course of action. But, it wasn’t the most fabulous news of the morning.

Karmatic Vindication
The day was completely redeemed. Yeah, like all humans, especially women, I am petty. I don’t hold active grudges because that takes more effort than I have to give. But I will never forget someone who mistreated me. That includes all of the catty girls who treated me like I was some kind of outcast trash.

I was bullied and picked on. I was overweight. I wore glasses. I lived in a poor, completely dysfunctional family, in a bad neighborhood. My fashion was gothic, standard funeral dress to celebrate every miserable day of my teenage existence.

Eventually, I rebelled against social norms by challenging them at every turn. I started an extremely popular clique called, “The Anti-Clique”. I was an inspiration to all of the wonderful kids who were cast out. Kids with quirks, nerds, geeks, creeps, weirdos, goths, etc. Most everyone was welcome, with few exceptions. Some people were just beyond help. Eventually, I became a household name. I was practically a cult leader.

I was also particularly smart and incredibly talented. I was an honor student who was Chorus vice president and president. I was accepted into the very exclusive Select Chorus by audition. I was section leader in both classes and section leader in band. And I was also accepted into the extremely exclusive music technology pilot program.

I may as well have had a target on my back. Being in the public spotlight with massive support to mock conformity put me in a prime position for attack.

I have mostly forgotten all about it. When it comes up, it’s all rehashed, but with a certain amount of emotional detachment. I don’t really care about what happened. It gave me the drive to become the beautiful, vibrant, educated, and fulfilled woman I am today.

We had a late night. When C.S. and I were dating, we used go to restaurants for half-priced appetizers all of the time. We went to a local restaurant that is rarely ever crowded. When we arrived, we stood at the hostess table for quite awhile. I was becoming irritated. The only thing worse than bad service is inedible food.

But, when our hostess greeted us, I knew exactly why we had an extended wait. I immediately recognized her and I knew that she had seen me from afar. Likely, she ran around begging others to cover for her and came up empty.

Macy was one of those girls. This girl had been a snobby bitch since Kindergarten. We had neighborhood schools, all except for mine. And we were shipped to an adjacent community school. We were outsiders. No matter how nice I treated this girl, she always turned her nose up at me. Her mother even treated mine like dirt. Her mother was the PTA President.

We spent three years in Select Chorus in opposite sections. She was soprano and I was alto. We sat directly across the semi-circle from one another. She was nothing. Not a section leader, and never picked for solos or competitions. But, she’d stare at me with a permanent snarl on her face with her nose propped in the air.

There Macy stood, as a hostess / waitress at a local restaurant with an ass that she could rent as a billboard, and the color of an Oompa Loompa! She was so clearly embarrassed that she couldn’t even make eye contact with me! And once we were seated, she mumbled something about our waiter, and made a beeline for the kitchen!

Ha! Karma’s a bitch! and you could tell she was getting it three fold. I’m hardly arrogant. But I knew what it looked like on the outside. I’m in stylish clothes, thinner than in high school, with lovely skin and brilliant blonde hair. C.S. is gorgeous. (I can say that with confidence because he bears a strong resemblance to Robert Pattinson, or Edward Cullen from Twilight). And T.D. is beyond cute. And overall, we are a pretty happy family that appears as if we have money.

I texted a high school friend who texted me earlier in the week to ask if she was being catty over her pleasure in watching all of these other girls become wide and miserable. “Absolutely not!”, I answered, “You didn’t do it. They’re paying for all that they’ve done.” I had to dial this back to her and she laughed. I don’t usually bathe in other people’s misery, but in certain cases, I can’t resist. She assured me it was totally justified.

A little after midnight, I receieved a call from my friend. Excitedly, she asked, “Did you see Macy’s recent status?”

“No, we’re not FB friends. She’s private. What did she say?”

“Apparently, you must have given her a serious blow to her self esteem! Status: Goals for December: 1.) Get in shape, 2.) Get a second job, 3.) Be happier in life.”

And the smug laughter ensued.

I didn’t have to say a word. I didn’t even have to make eye contact. All I had to do was be myself.

Revenge is like a fine wine. It gets better when aged.

Thnks Fr Th Crcs

I have a lot of things to be thankful for. Best of all, my family. Especially after this Thanksgiving.

I had originally forgotten that our presence was required for Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws. I was reminded the moment I awoke. Ugh. There goes my plan to visit with my family and enjoy the rest of the day in a turkey coma.

I don’t loathe my in-laws. In fact, I love my MIL and FIL. However, to be frank, with the exception of my MIL, they are my step-in-laws. That includes all of the extended family, Nana, and Aunt N. Those two are some characters. But, in Italian families, everyone is kin no matter how they came about being so.

You know Lulu. Everything happens with a certain twist.

Family gatherings are awkward without MIL. She’s the link that solidifies me as part of the family. I’m not used to Italian families, honestly. They’re very affectionate, even physically so. Scottish families are not. We wave at each other from across a great expanse and smile.

We went to my family’s dinner, which is extremely relaxed and informal. To my parents, Thanksgiving is not really a celebratory holiday for them. It’s a ritualistic yearly event encouraging gluttony. In prior years, it was actually closer to Festivus.

Immediately following that dinner, we packed up the family and headed to the in-laws. Two Thanksgiving dinners was going to be a challenge. It was like (wo)man vs. food. And I’m in no shape for a challenge like that!

There are thirteen miles between our home and my in-laws. On the way there, C.S. talked to MIL. Apparently, FIL was at Market District to buy one of those hideously expensive, pre-cooked dinners! I was in shock! What an absolute waste of money! And next, how could they possibly afford to drop over $100 on something that could be prepared for half of that when they are so hard-up?

We arrived at Nana’s and called FIL to meet us up there. He told us that he’d have dinner in the oven and it would be ready in two hours. Two hours! Unfreakin’ believable. Over $100 on a meal you actually had to cook anyway?!

And what to do in that two hours? The house is not child-proof by any means. There is no cable and no toys for T.D. I could only imagine the disaster awaiting us.

So, we waited in the car, in 40 degree weather with the heater off. T.D. was peacefully slumbering with his parka on, in the car seat. C.S. tells me that he’s going to take more pictures of Sebastian (the totalled car) from the interior for to document the damages in the lawsuit.

Forty minutes elapsed. I was absolutely freezing my everything off, tingling from the cold. My husband called FIL back. “Ohhhh,” he slurred, “I was playing with the dogs. I’ll be up in a second.” FIL time runs on quite a different clock. Ten minutes later, he pulled into the driveway.

He stumbled out of the car with armloads of packaged, partially cooked food. I tended to T.D. I met my FIL in the kitchen and he gave me a wobbly hug. He quietly admitted to me, “I don’t know what happened. I was sitting there and I just fell asleep.”

C.S. stayed in the kitchen to help. FIL stood there, silent with his head hanging. It became clear that he had fallen asleep standing up! C.S. woke him and he said, “I took some pain pills earlier. I’m going to wake up with a cigarette in the smoking room.” He was never to be scene again.

I noted Nana was nowhere to be seen as well. Apparently, she had taken another of her infamous falls and went back to bed for the day. It was T.D. and I surfing the four channels available to find something, anything, for entertainment. It came down to Maury or Judge Judy.

Once everything was in the oven, we took T.D. outside to run around the vast property. It wasn’t without shenanigans. There had to be some entertainment to make the trip remotely worthwhile.

And it will stay like this until Christmas!

After, we joined FIL in the smoking room. T.D. found his favorite shows and sat in FIL’s lap for over an hour. And eventually, FIL passed back out, his head hanging backward with his mouth completely open. It was a sight to behold. I wanted to take a photo, but I figured as hilarious as it would be, it would likely be insulting.

When T.D. got up from FIL’s lap, FIL’s jeans were soaked with urine. It turned out that my son’s diaper leaked. And yet, FIL was absolutely oblivious. It actually looked as if FIL soiled himself! He groggily asked, “What happened here?, completely unphased.

C.S. and I joked about the absolute ridiculousness of the situation. Why the hell were here? What is the whole point of having to cook our own dinner? Who exactly are we supposed to be visiting here? Everyone here is unconscious but us!

We went back up to finish dinner. C.S. asked me for assistance in the kitchen, leaving T.D. in the living room entirely unsupervised. You know, I’ve been to every major holiday at my in-laws house for the last five years, and I still don’t know where the light switch is in the bathroom. How would I know where anything is in the kitchen! Everything was in bags, tucked away in drawers!

That is when I started to notice the address labels. There was one on the refrigerator and another on the cabinet. I looked some more and found more on the stove and the cabinet above it. They were littered throughout the kitchen! I began to play Where’s Waldo!

I returned to the living room to find absolute chaos. Life alert was activated. The phone was off the hook, beeping. Cabinets hung open with their contents strewn about the floor. And T.D. stood there repeatedly pressing the button the answering machine. I couldn’t help but laugh. What destruction! I was almost proud.

I rejoined my husband in the kitchen to ready the table. I said, “I found eight, beat that!” He laughed and asked, “Did you see the one on the toilet?!”I burst into hysterical laughter and exclaimed, “No!” He smiled devilishly and said, “I took pictures!”

Property of Nana, who is afraid you're going to jack her toilet.

I looked and burst into the hardest laugh I had experienced. My legs turned to rubber and I fell to the floor. My stomach and sides ached, while I laughed so hard, I made no noise. I curled up and just shook like a Tickle Me Elmo.

Dinner was served. Nana came out of her bedroom wearing only her nightgown. Now, had I know this was casual dress, I would have stayed in my pajamas too! FIL came from downstairs and we all assembled at the tabled. Their family is extremely Catholic, so FIL mumbled through grace.

Nana doesn’t hear very well, so our conversations are very limited. This is despite the fact that I am a 5’1″ powerhouse of sound. I’ve been teased my entire life for having a loud voice. When I did solos, I did not need a microphone, even from a large auditorium. And yet, Nana cannot hear me. I looked over and FIL was practically asleep in his plate. C.S. and I exchanged hilarious glances across the table.

WTF?!?!

This why they call it a “Family Circus”..

This exercise was pointless. With one exception.

Napa Valley: 1985 - Aged 26 Years

A Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Marginally Clear

Thanksgiving will hopefully be a day of thanks. It marks two weeks since the LEEP procedure. Since it falls on a holiday, my doctor’s office was kind enough to squeeze me in on Wednesday, Nov. 23. I’m sure the scheduling nurse I spoke with was aware that I’d have a Sword of Damocles hanging over my holiday table. It was kind of her to be so considerate. (Note to self: Be thankful for considerate, compassionate people).

The Healing Process

I was briefed after the surgery about care and restrictions. No worries – this is not going to get graphic. I’ll admit, it was not quite as I expected it. They likened it to a colposcopy with a biopsy. I know there is a huge difference between the two. One is a little snip and the other is more akin to taking a sizable section. Like trimming the hedges versus pruning a tree.

They under-exaggerate when they describe the more unpleasant parts of post-op care. I was in nearly constant, serious pain for the first four days. I would wake up in the morning in severe pain, because a full bladder likely pressed against the area. The more I moved, the more the pain increased.

Mothers will especially stand this next part. It is more akin to the physical sensations to about a week after labor and delivery. My bottom half was sore. It was pain like a T, across my hips through me, and into my back.

They don’t tell you the real story on a lot of it, although they are still defined within the parameters of “typical healing”. To sat the least, it was a lot more intense than I predicted.

The healing time takes longer than I predicted too. The doctors assured me that I’d be back on my feet, doing my daily activities in a few days. But, those activities are not to include any aerobic / strenuous activity. I haven’t been able to do any housework. No stairs, so I have to limit my use of them at home. It’s frustrating to leave something on a different floor.

I’m still not quite back to normal. I always feel like the doctors overreact when they give you restrictions. Possibly, it is because they know patients will not follow them to the letter. But, they weren’t kidding here. I’m moving better, but I am still in pain. I need extended time sitting. I’m tired.

The biggest thing they don’t tell you is the emotional rollercoaster that follows. I don’t know if it’s hormonal, but I have been completely out of whack. I described some of it in With This Pill. Manic Monday touched upon the subject in 2.5.

This is a conversation C.S. and I had on Friday.

I swear. A lot.

I thought I was on the cusp of a depressive episode. Mobility is difficult. It is irritating and frustrating to be at the mercy of others. I am a control freak. I like things done my way, and I like to be an active participant at all times. But right now, I feel like a useless invalid watching life pass as I’m bound immobile, as much as possible.

I feel useless. I can’t take charge of classes because I have to meet them in their classrooms. I must have children assist me in classes by passing out lyric sheets and retrieving items for me from across the room. I hate asking people for help. Then, I start to feel like an inconvenience, a burden, if you will.

Tomorrow’s Follow-up
I was under the impression that they were going to poke in there and assess my healing.  Then, they were going to report how much had to be excised, and what my chances of having more children is going to look like.  What they failed to mention is that tomorrow is also the delivery of the results from the sample they took.  What I thought was going to be a completely benign appointment turned malignant fast.

What the doctor is looking for is are Clear Margins.  Essentially, if the tissue they collected has both the cancerous cells and a margin surrounding it of healthy tissue, then we can be assured that all of the cancerous cells were excised.  However, if the margins are not clear, then cancerous cells still remain and pose a possible threat.

The course of action after that is typically to wait until the results from the follow up Pap smear come back.  If they are positive, then we visit colposcopy land to see how bad it is.  And, there is a possibility of yet another procedure.

You guessed it.  This poses a greater threat to my future pregnancies.  The more cervix that is removed, the higher the risk of miscarriage and pre-term labor.  I have a plan, but I need to get C.S. on board.  If the issue is forced, I want to make the Hail Mary pass in order to conceive another child before I would have another surgery.  We have two months to make a decision, because after that, it’s do or die.

I really do want another child, even if it’s not at a great time.  If I have to do it and take some risks, I’m willing to do that.  However, C.S. has not expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about another child.  I don’t want to come to blows over this.  But, if there is a serious disagreement, I know it’s going to turn into a serious problem.

One bridge at a time, Lulu.  One bridge at a time.