A Promise and a Contract

I ended up telling him about the contents of A Sweater Worn Too Thin.  (If you still need the password, please leave me a note and I’ll email it to you.  Beware, it has some serious triggers in it.)

It was at the very last moment of our night.  I said to him, “Wait, before you put on Netflix, can I tell you something?”

Him:  “What?”

“Before I tell you, you have to promise not to be angry with me.”

Him:  “Well, it depends on what you did.”

“I can’t tell you without you making this promise.  Please, promise not to be angry.”

Him:  “Like I said, it depends on what you did.  Did you sleep with someone else?”

“God no!!!  I . . . “

Him:  “Hurt yourself?”

“Yeah,” I sighed with my head down.

Him:  “I thought so.  What did you cut yourself with?”

“A razor.  Don’t worry about it, I disposed of it, and I don’t ever want to do this again.  How did you know?”

Him:  “There was blood in the bathroom, and you didn’t sleep the night before.  And the next day, you weren’t all there.”

“I don’t ever, ever want to do this again.  It’s pretty bad.”

Him:  “Is it infected?  Let me see.”

I was stunned.  He had never really wanted to see an injury before.  Not even out of concern, curiosity, nothing.  Occasionally, he flat out refused to purchase bandages and things of the like, because he had wanted me to suffer the shame of it.  I stood up slowly and said to him, “Don’t laugh.”

Him:  “Why?”

I pulled down the band of my pants and underwear to reveal a rigged up maxi pad.  He snickered a little, and I did too.  It’s so like us to be able to find the humor in a very dark situation.  I pulled it back, and he inspected it.

“I’ve been taking care of it, washing it out several times a day with antibacterial soap, putting neosporin on it, and covering it back up again.”

Him:  “No, I don’t think it’s infected,” he remarked, “We’ll have my mom (a nurse) take a look when we go up there tomorrow.”

My eyes grew wide, “We can’t show her that!  There has to be at least 20 lacerations there!”

Him:  “I know, I can see them.  We’re going to have to.  She has all of the first aid supplies we need to patch you up properly,” he insisted.

And for a moment, I felt safe again.  I did this to myself, and he was using terms like “we”.  We’re in this together.  But, then, ruined by a pang of shame.  Then, the fear hit me.

“I’m really ashamed.  And I’m really scared.  Are you going to stop talking to me?”

Him:  “No, I’m not going to stop talking to you.”

“I know that you have to be hurt and angry and frustrated.  I didn’t do this because of you.  I did this because I was so overwhelmed about everything that was going on, and all of those stupid voices in my head that I’ve been telling you about.  Please, don’t be angry with me.  I need you.”

Him:  “I know.  I’m not angry.  I’m not anything, but just overwhelmed too.  I’m being pulled in so many different directions that I don’t even know what to feel.  Everything is changing all at once.”

“Change isn’t bad.  I think it’s an opportunity to get a fresh start.”

Him:  “Yeah.  Can we turn on a show and go to bed?”

“I’d like that.  Can I ask you for something, really quick?”

Him:  “What?”

“Can we keep having these brief talks?  Brief, I mean, no more than fifteen minutes, a half an hour if it’s something really serious.  I mean, I want to be able to put it in as terms in my self-injury contract.”

Him:  “Yes.  We’ll work on it.  Let’s go to bed.”

We did.  I must have been moving too much, and I was in a very light sleep.  He asked, “What’s wrong?”

I answered, “I’m cold.”

“Come here.”

We both moved into the middle of the bed, and he draped his blanket over me.  In that moment, I was the little spoon, and he was my big spoon.  It had been the first time we slept together like that since before my pregnancy.  And there was no better feeling in the world.  Our first steps back toward each other.

Protected: On the Inside : Life After Abuse

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

The Absence of Existence

Mania.  For how long?  At least over a month, by my count.  I am adrift on the sea of uncertainty, swishing around with the currents and tides.  The paddle for this rowboat for one was swallowed up with one big gulp awhile ago.  Or perhaps, I cast it into the water during a blind fit of rage.  Events are just as hazy as the fog that rolls in an out daily, hourly.  Time is mostly meaningless, and cannot be measured by any instruments known to this world.  Or probably any other, for that matter.

Reflections are rippled, even on a still day like today, the first still day in recent memory.  Still does not mean peaceful.  Stillness is the absence of motion, the absence of Emotion.  In is almost as if the sea, complete with the rowboat, has been contained in a stagnant bubble, frozen in time.  The world continues, the linear path of time unbroken, and one can squint toward the vanishing point on the horizon.  I am not a part of that anymore.  I am separated from it all, with the absence of the ebb and flow of life.

The clock has stopped.  The pendulum is still.  It happened in the blink of an eye.  In a moment, something great opened up with a mighty snap, expelled itself from me, and left me as a husk. Was it the emotional poison from my veins?  Have the personas finally vacated my mind?  Nothing exists save this deafening silence and this void.  It is not a hollow, though some may accidentally interpret it as such.  It is a vacuum, the absence of time, space, and matter.

Surreal.  For as many times as I have wished, no, desperately desired to vacate my own existence, I had never considered how the lack of it would be experienced.  Perhaps, somehow I had felt that I would simply disappear from the timeline entirely.  Then, in some ethereal state, like in the shows and films, I could witness events rearrange themselves as if I had never lived.  However, it has portrayed itself to be unlike any expectation I could conceive.

No, I am simply a token, a placeholder in my own life.  I do not march in unison with others across the line, down the path, through all manners of terrain.  When I speak, only wispy, stock phrases slip from my lips.  I stare, my eyes unfocused watching all of the distortions in the fabric of reality ripple in and out.  Little snags, where if one were to focus just hard enough, they could see into eternity.  That is the trick.  The human eye cannot look directly at it, or it will vanish.  That is the nature of such distortions.  Humans are not meant to see such things, as their minds are unable to comprehend the exact nature.

I am human, undoubtedly.  At least, in this body I am, tethered to human limitations and bound by the laws of this world.  As for my mind, well, I cannot say.  It just seems so unlikely that a typical brain can observe the true reality, while remaining perfectly still.  Since before my own memory began, a vague feeling occurred that if I were to cease to exist in the capacity that I do, meaning I had become a passive bystander to people and events, then the timeline would remain unchanged.  As I am noticing, it has.

I do not refer to abandoning my duties, or having my physical form or presence removed or altered in any way.  It is the indication of the concept that if I were to cease to exist in my present mind, then the world would continue, completely unchanged.  It has, as long as I maintain daily routines.  Mindless, involuntary actions, no critical thinking – cleaning, cooking, carrying on stock conversations.

Let it be said that no conversation here is without a presence of mind.  In part, I remain here, even when the rest is largely, how should I put this?  AWOL?  No, because that insinuates that I am simply misplaced or even just displaced.  It is most along the lines of voided.

It is not a matter of disinterest.  My mother called me last night.  I asked what she wanted, and she informed me that it had been several days since we talked.  How many?  I could not be sure how much time had passed.  There is no measure within the nonexistence.  At least three, possibly four.  My memory failed me, and I had to check the day with her.  Monday?  Tuesday?  I was intent on it being Tuesday.  Monday, she asserted.  Oh.  And she enthusiastically invited my son and I to spend the afternoon with her and my father.

Sure.

I was on the sofa.  It was afternoon by then.  There was a knock at the door, and my heart skipped a beat.  People rarely visit my home before calling to ensure I was there and open to company.  I peered through a slat in the blinds.  All I could see was a mop of greyish, blondish hair below me.  It took me a moment to recognize her.  I opened the door and politely greeted her.  I inquired as to what she wanted.  Apparently, she had been trying to reach me on my phone, and she was getting nervous.  I had forgotten about our engagement.

Oops.

She excitedly took my sons hand, and I assured her I would join her in a moment.  Leaving the house, even to go a couple hundred yards, takes enough preparation.  I was unaware that an inappropriate amount of time had elapsed.  My mother looked at me with a great deal of concern.

Nothing but a faint feeling of confusion.  Where was the concern?

There is nothing wrong with me, because there is nothing about me.

Forget Family : The 30 Days of Truth

Day 10 : Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

This is a rather difficult post, because most of the people that I could’ve written about in this topic were let go years ago throughout certain circumstances.  A lot of things change when a person gets married, and even more so when a person has a child.  Many people fall away, as a result of the social structure changing. Even so, many people were disassociated voluntarily, most through unfavorable circumstances.  That being a marriage to a highly desired man.  Or, a certain amount of jealousy toward my family and the woman no one expected me to become.  And lastly, over interpersonal struggles that had been present for many years.

Plainly said, I don’t allow a person to exist in my life who does me harm.

With one exception.

Family.  An antiquated notion anymore, and yet we all still are drawn to the traditional definition of such.

What is family?  It has different meanings to different people.  For some, especially many that were raised by people that are not related by blood, family are the people closest to you, care for you, and treat you as if you belong.  They are the people who love you unconditionally, and would do anything to oversee your health, safety, well-being and general welfare.

For others, family are the people that are kin by blood, or by marriage through blood.  These are the same people that share genetic matter with one another.  It is the blood that bonds, and should generate those protective and loving emotions.  The family contains a mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins (however distant), and grandmothers and grandfathers (however prefixed with great or otherwise).  It is the hierarchy that provides the structure and governs the family system.

In this setup, certain rules of conduct exist.  Family members are expected to treat others with a kind regard and respect at all times.  Family members are not permitted to have all-out fights, as it insinuates contempt for another, and spells a potential of a deviation from the family.  Although, if there is a deviation from the family system, that person is excluded, because they abandoned their duties to the family, meaning that they have not the love required.  Family members are obligated to each other, even when there is a dislike between two members.  Dislike can exist, but can never be expressed openly.  And family members are private, to be kept within the family system.  No outsiders.

The second is my family system.  The family system that attempts to replicate those of 1950’s television families, and falls incredibly short.  The reality of a family and the fantasy of the television family cannot intersect, because there is no commonality, except the tradition of family.

Now, I come from a heavy Scottish heritage.  Scots are notorious for their clans and said allegiances.  The thing about clans is that they are often family.  And the thing about rival clans is that they are often family, too.  They are several branches of family that had irreconcilable differences, due mostly to conflicting views and stubbornness against compromise.  Scots are a proud people and intensely loyal.  And that’s how a Scottish family system operated.  Family looked out for each other, because if they didn’t, who would?  And chances are, if you weren’t affiliated with a clan or didn’t follow a clan’s way, then you would be abandoned and left for dead.

What does this all have to do with someone I need to let go of?  I need to let go of the antiquated version of family I grew up with.  I need to expel the notions of the Cleaver family, and realize that it is nonexistent.  Well, in my family anyway.

Everyone in this world has at least one secret desire that they know is absolutely impossible for them.  That is exactly why it is a secret.  One of my secret desires is to have family that unconditionally loves me, and treats me like I belong.  I have always desperately wanted parents who treated me like they appreciated my individuality, and could come to terms with the fact that I am not the child they envisioned.  I’ve always wanted them to be proud and express positive emotions toward me.  I wanted loving parents, who weren’t afraid to say they love me, and show physical affection.

I wanted an extended family that I could really know.  Scots are notorious for their huge families.  I mean, that’s how you grow the clan, right?  I have a huge extended family.  I’ve stated this before, but my “sister” is not biologically my sister, from the same parents.  We are related by blood as third cousins.  Yes, my family is close enough that I know my third cousins.  My son and her son will likely grow up as family, cousins, although according to the state of Pennsylvania, they are not related.  (5th cousins.  Who can say they know their 5th cousin?)  But, as my extended family goes, my sister is the only one I continue to have a good relationship with.

I knew my Pappap.  We had a fantastic relationship before he passed.  I miss him.  I really do.  The anniversary of his death is coming up – 16 years ago.  And he was the head of our clan.  Hell, he was the head of two branches of our clan.  (That’s how I know my sister’s family at all).  And when he passed, the glue of our family started coming apart.  He was the only thing that held it together.

But, just because my Pappap held the family together does not mean we were apart of each others lives.  In fact, quite the contrary.  My aunt, also serving in the capacity of my godmother, made the attempt.  The fact was, she just didn’t like children.  Another aunt of mine lived in distant California.  Another aunt of mine was just too jealous of the fact that my mother had a daughter and she had two unruly boys.  Another aunt of mine was a part of my life, and really was my friend.  Until she met her now husband and moved away.  Then, there was my young uncle, a bachelor and professional.  He hardly made an appearance at any of these events.  We were quite estranged for many reasons.  Many that I couldn’t understand at the time.

As a teen, the question always lingered in my mind; Why don’t I belong in my own family?  If I didn’t belong anywhere else in the world, why couldn’t I seem to fit into my family.  In theory, there should have been a guaranteed spot where I would be accepted, understood, and loved unconditionally.  But, as I grew more symptomatic, the more I was pushed away.  The gap was noticeable at that point, and I came to the realization that I didn’t fit some kind of mould that was created for me.  I wasn’t a lovely blonde girl with big blue eyes who spoke softly, smiled sweetly, and was brilliant in a humble way.  I was something entirely different, almost monstrous.

It was at that time that I discarded any sentiments that I could fit in, because I knew it was just not possible for me.  And I stopped trying.  It actually inspired me to attempt to embody everything that was the opposite of what was expected of me.  I didn’t want to conform, because I did not want to “belong” to anyone.  Love should not have contingencies, and I should not be expected to be anyone but myself.  That should be more than good enough to people who call themselves “family” to me.

That does not mean I discarded my longing for family.  Family are the people who love you, no matter what.  Feats or failures.  Achievements or disappointments.  They are the people who help you, not out of obligation, but because they really want to see you in a better place.  They don’t judge you.  They don’t hold grudges or debts.  Family should be the people that are guaranteed confidants, supports, fail safes, and friends.

I longed for parents who would provide me with support, affection, and guidance.  I longed for grandparents who would fawn over me, and lend me wisdom.  I longed for cousins that could be friends.  I so desperately desired aunts and uncles that could teach me about life, give insight on my parents and adulthood in general, and be confidants.  Instead, I got parents that berated me for being me, and gave up on parenting altogether when I turned seventeen, because in truth, they didn’t really want to be parents at all.  I lost my grandfather young, and ended up with a grandmother who was indifferent to her grandchildren.  (According to my mother, she was indifferent to most of her children too.  I don’t take that personally).  I had cousins who held a grudge because I was “the baby” and the only girl on this coast.  My eldest cousin resented me for having the responsibility for looking after me during family events and vacations.  I had an aunt who despised my existence, and another who attempted to use me as a surrogate child, and later decided she wasn’t cut out for kids.

And between all of these people, throughout the years, silent grudges and resentment started opening up.  I had realized that I was caught by accidental crossfire, but it hurt just the same.  All of the trauma still follows me, and I’ve felt like the only resolution would be to have that ideal family.

I need to let the notion of family go.  The only way to resolve that trauma is to understand that definition of family is not the only definition of family.  I didn’t have a mother for guidance.  I stumbled around adolescence and had to find my way to womanhood alone.  I didn’t have a father in the traditional “daddy’s little girl” sense.  I had a dictator, who wasn’t much of a male role model for later men in my life.  I had to fumble my way around dating and men myself.  And in the end, I still ended up with a man much like my father, without the hands-on approach to family.

I need to give up on the idea that my parents will suddenly become parents, even though their sudden appearance as grandparents gave me false hope.  They are who they are, and they’ll always regard me as the person I am, no matter how much I grow and change.  My mother said to me, with a sigh, “I see a lot of myself in you.  A lot of the things that you tell me about your . . . mind, it rings a bell.”  It gave me false hope.  It gave me this idea that she would become my mother and help me in hard times of my marriage and parenting.  But, I know she won’t.  My father will never be a father to me.  He hardly ever was.  He is at least a friend now, anyway.  But, he’ll never brag to his friends about his beautiful, intelligent, talented daughter.  He’ll never express pride or admiration toward me.  Neither of them will.

That’s the way it is.  I need to let go of my family and let it be what it is, instead of hoping that it will suddenly turn into something it never was, and never will be.

Sorting It Out

I have always felt like I had a “base mood”, which is the state I’m in. Depressive, hypomanic, stable. I noticed that there was kind of an “atmospheric mood”, which was a wispy, temporary mood state that would come through. I’ve always characterized this as weather.

This emotional weather is just about as predictable as meteorological weather. Forecasts can go out based on current information and predictable outcomes. But, things can change quickly, and suddenly, storms crop up. Unfortunately, they don’t make an emotional barometer. There are no external instruments to sound an alarm on the emotional accuweather forecast.

I considered the weather to be just regular “moods”. I know one thing that is difficult for all people who have bipolar disorder is to draw the line between typical and symptomatic. It becomes a nearly impossible task when a person is actually symptomatic. That’s why it’s considered a disorder.

Over the last three years, I’ve become pretty familiar with episodic behavior. I cannot always identify it straight away. But, eventually, I tease it out. What I encountered in January was genuine symptoms, starting with an ultradian cycle I wasn’t even aware of until I reviewed my logs.

What I started to experience toward the end of that depressive episode was uncharacteristic. I hadn’t experienced those types of symptoms in some time. It didn’t look as if it was a coincidence that my mood chart started jumping at the same time my marriage got thrown on the rocks. And now, two months later, I’ve seem to hit some semblance of a period of stability coinciding with the start of my husband’s admissions and treatment.

He broke the silence. Now, I’m breaking it too.

Criteria 1: Fear of abandonment:
My fear of abandonment isn’t typically characterized, because of the keen awareness of the consequences. My fear is very real. The frantic efforts are a little unusual. It’s not outwardly frantic, because I know that behavior actually drives people away. Instead, I take huge strides to make myself more appealing. That feeds into the destabilization of self-image.

There’s a hidden switch, though. At some point, when I’m overloaded with anxiety, I shut down. I will shut down on a person, and it will be over. It will be difficult for me to feel anything for them until they have been out of my life for awhile, or they take a big leap of faith to me.

This disrupts my ability to make friends. I keep everyone at a distance, because I know that I will drive them away. I know that I am intense and strange. And I know that most people are passing ships in my life.

Criteria 2: Unstable Relationships and intense relationships:
I’ve been in a serious relationship with two different psychopaths, one diagnosed (Avi, the abusive one), and I’m now in a marriage with a man with MI. I always swore that these men found me. I think it was a little bit of both.

But, the catch about my marriage is however intense it is, it is stable. Go outside my romantic relationships. Looking at the intense dysfunction between my parents and me tells the tale.

Those people hurt me. And yet, I still love them. I hate them for everything, but I still vacillate between pandering for their affections and shutting them out. I know that they had their hand in this. And still, I blame it exclusively on myself.

Criteria 3: Identity Disturbance:
I used to dye my hair everytime I had a serious mood shift. When my first ex and I broke up, it shattered my whole world. And I said “F*ck the world.” At that point, I let go of everything. It was at that point in time that I started partying my life away.

That wasn’t me. I was a control freak. I always wanted control of my reality. I wanted control of the direction of my life and was always goal oriented.

My ex, Avi, was the worst agitation. I let him tell me who I was, what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and how I should live my life. I let him victimize me, because he told me I was a victim.

C.S. helped me find my way back to me. The me that I liked and was used to. The me that read, wrote, played music, and enjoyed artistic expression, not mindless video games. He helped me find my way back to goal-orientation and showed me that he could love me. That was the only reason I could even be me. Because that’s what he loved.

Criteria 4: Impulsivity:
After I had experienced sexual assault for the first time, I had come to the conclusion that I was a slut. So, I started to act like a slut by having sex with any man who looked at me sideways. I wanted to convince myself that I was at least good for something.

I have alcoholism. It is mostly controlled now. That’s no secret.

Now, here’s the big secret. I likely have an eating disorder. In times of serious distress, I deny myself food. I don’t deserve to eat. I’m a fatass. No one loves a fatass.

I have pindged and purged. It’s not often. In times of depression and self-depreciating behavior, I will binge to feel good. And then I’ll purge, because I worry about my weight. But worse than that. I’ll purge, because getting rid of that overstuffed feeling feels good. There is no better feeling than an empty belly.

I would excessively spend. But, you can’t spend without money in the bank. As a teen, I used to shoplift. And I got caught and got in the worst trouble of my life with my parents. I get the impulse now and again, but the fear and embarrassment is enough to keep me from doing it.

Criteria 5: Recurrent Suicidal / Self-Injurious Behavior:
Admittedly, as a teen, I was more satisfied with cutting with a steak knife than a razor. A razor was too easy, and the cuts were always thin, sleek, and healed without incident. The serrated knife left jagged cuts that never healed right.

I used to pick at the scabs. I only recently started scraping them with a luffa.

I take scalding showers for two reasons. First, there is the whole germ part. But, secondly, sensitive skin burns easily. Scrub it with a luffa, and it flakes and peels. It hurts so nicely, I can’t think about anything else.

I don’t ever threaten. I warn. Because I know certain stressors will set it off.

I used to attempt suicide. I have probably a dozen serious attempts under my belt. I probably have about a dozen more half-assed attempts where I hoped I’d die of alcohol poisoning. Or, if I let an infection go long enough, I’d cause organ failure. (I almost did that with my kidneys that started as a UTI).

I don’t anymore. It’s pointless. I have never come close to succeeding. And I’m convinced that there is a reason for that. Besides, I’m not so cruel as to leave my husband and son like that. Not now. My son is old enough to remember me. My husband might actually go down with me, although he’s never indicated as much.

Criteria 6: Affective Instability
Rage. I’m almost always irritable. I’ve always thought that irritability and reactivity were hallmarks of bipolar disorder. I was wrong.

I have bouts of intense anxiety. Especially when I feel like I’m not in control. It is expressed in OCD-like symptoms when it goes critical. I start hoarding. Or purging items. I check constantly. I do mental checks. I fear contamination.

Dysphoric moods. It’s always been suicidal ideation in the past. It’s only recently that I’ve had homicidal ideation, and it’s enough to scare me. But, I don’t imagine harming loved ones. No, I imagine harming people who are a perceived threat to my family and me.

That emotional weather, that was affective instability. When it produces serious storms, it becomes separate from bipolar disorder completely. Layered moods.

Criteria 7: Chronic Feelings of Emptiness:
Curiously, I don’t have the typical definition of this. Most of the time, I feel too full. I’m full of emotion, turmoil, life. I’m bursting at the seams.

But, if you examine the criteria a little closer, it can be characterized by never feeling good enough. I’m bad. I have never achieved anything noteworthy. No one really loves me. I feel as if I am worthless, rather than empty.

Criteria 8: Inappropriate Anger / Difficulty Controlling Anger
Sometimes, yes. I have a temper. I try to be careful at expressing this anger. It’s usually restricted to times when I am alone. I scream. I break things.

I don’t want to scare my family. I don’t want the shame and guilt I would suffer from such impulsive, inappropriate behavior. I don’t want anyone to leave me, because they fear me. I try so hard to practice restraint. I’m not always very successful.

Criteria 9: Transient, Stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions, or severe dissociation symptoms
This was the key to finally prove the potential for BPD to me. I’ve always had delusions. I’ve always had the berating voice. But, my paranoia has always turned out to be justified in the end.

When C.S. and I were very rocky, I was convinced that a man, who I would never otherwise suspect, was cheating on me. The voice separated into a an auditory hallucination, free of any rational mind, feeding me horrible things. I had my first real break from reality.

But, it was in fits that never lasted longer than a few hours to maybe a few days. And it could be broken by immediate distraction.

I’m nowhere near as volatile as I used to be. Medication has tamed my symptoms, and nearly domesticated me. There are a lot of behaviors that I don’t engage in anymore.

But, I am a far cry from ridding myself of all of them. And if I keep going on this course of alienating people, disabling my supports, and self-sabatoging, I’m going to end up in a very bad place.

So, I made an impulsive move yesterday morning. Finally, a good one. I called and made an appointment to start meeting with a qualified professional with an objective eye. I could’ve gotten in today, but my hours are restricted right now due to work.

So, next Thursday. In one week, I will take my first baby steps back into the world of therapy. Honestly, I don’t have high hopes. Thankfully, I have a number of therapists to choose from. And if it doesn’t work out, at least I gave it a try.

I want to keep trying and not get discouraged. But, I’m so picky about my professionals. I know there has to be some hope for recovery.

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.

Theories on the Development of Disorder

When something, an emotion, an urge, an impulse, is so severely suppressed that a person becomes oppressed, we can often observe extreme opposite reactions. This is consistent with the laws of physics and the universe, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Except, one thing. I believe when it comes to emotions and behaviors, the opposing reaction is more like equal plus. The plus being an x-value holding place for a value with the meaning “a little more.” Determining that exact value in numerical terms may be difficult, since there is no numerical value for emotions.

It basically conveys the message that the situation perpetuates itself. Any potential absence of behavior or action can still be perceived as a positive value. Inaction can still be considered an action in this case, because there isn’t really such a thing as a complete absence of behavior.

This is potentially a huge factor in mental illness. Obviously, we are aware of the psychological damage abuse and neglect in childhood can cause, even throughout adulthood. It is thought to manifest in anxiety disorders, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. However, that does not account for people who did not experience what is typically considered childhood trauma.

Even as adults, we are susceptible to psychological damage. This is a fact that is well established through research involving war veteran and victims of sexual assault. However, we only consider extreme forms of trauma as something qualifies as such. Such is also true of childhood trauma.

Other qualifying trauma often happens over a period of time, and goes consciously unrecognized. This does not mean that it is also subconsciously unrecognized as well. In fact, the subconscious is likely keenly aware, but unable to translate to the conscious mind.

Once the conscious mind becomes aware that there is something amiss, the traumatizing behavior seems commonplace. The person has likely become desensitized to what was once a subtle, but generally constant external stressor. By then, it becomes internalized and often mistaken as an internal stressor.

Those are the seeds for maladaptive behaviors in both children and adults. At this point, unhealthy coping mechanisms have already been adopted as part of a person’s behavioral repertoire. This is directly the result of an extreme reaction to the accumulation of what may be considered subtle long term stressor(s).

The maladaptive behaviors are recognized as such, and perpetuate trauma through mistreatment of oneself. It can be behaviorally observed by an unusual response to certain unpleasant stimuli. Unfortunately, the subject is often unaware that their responses are abnormal. By the time it is either pointed out or realized by oneself, the original cause is well buried under layers of self-abuse / neglect.

The result of this is much larger than anxiety disorders. It reaches out to grab behaviors typical of a variety of psychological disorders. Behavior repertoires are often observed in personality disorders and mood disorders. it would stand to reason this is true, due to the nature of long-term external stressors, particularly subtle abuse and neglect.

Notes, Vicodin, and Wounds

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I excused myself to “put Trent down for a nap”. And I curled up in the bathroom, blanket wrapped tightly around me. A safe cocoon. A straight jacket.

The intrusive thoughts came in the silence. At first, they were indistinguishable from the rest of the noise. Then, one came out very plainly, rolling as a hardly audiable murmur from my lips.

“Why?” the sobs welled in my throat as the tears poured down my face. I smalled the sobs for as long as I could.

“I am so alone,” I whispered. My face contorted. My jaw tightened as my top teeth extended out. An enormous sob was lodged in my throat. With all of the power of will that remained, I silenced it.

“He doesn’t love you. If he loved you, he would have tried.”

“Your marriage has failed.”

The voices barraged me relentlessly with intrusive thought that had no real evidence. But the absence, the distance, was enough for me to formulate theories.

I was no longer slow dancing in the burning room. I sat at the piano, alone, playing out the most sour of melodies. This had been evacuated a long time ago. I took in a lungful of dark, black smoke, and now I was choking on it.

“You should runaway. Leave your phone and just hide. It doesnt matter that it’s 30F and raining. Leave this place.”

“I won’t give up my son.”

“Break shit. Starting with dishes and glasses.”

“And then take more of a shit storm than I can handle.”

“Take handfuls of pills to make you numb.”

The crying ceased, and besides the stirring, turning wheel in my head, I was tapped out.

Desperate, as people get before they die in a tragedy, I slinked back up the stairs and into the room. The house was silent, heavy with slumber. I reached into the back of the drawer. I took a vicodin, the drug that almost killed me the last time. I didn’t care. Come what may.

Grey suicide.

After I let the drugs settle in, I started the note. i explained the fundamental problems. No affection, save for the verbal foreplay. Disinterest and dismissal. Isolation and alienation. A communication block. Walking on eggshells to keep him happy and sane. Oppressive states of living, impossible expectations. All of the things I could never say to his face.

And that was only an overview.

I decided to move forward with my impulse to leave. I planned on leaving my phone and hiding away at the trestle. Alone. A place of refuge where no one would think to look. Save for Chris, who would be unlikely to consider it.

I went into the bathroom donning only a bathrobe. It was warm. I discovered a boxcutter I had hidden nearly a year ago. the temptation was irresistible. It was the only way to make these thoughts go away. To make it all disappear and usher in the empty mind born only from numbess.

To my dismay, it was dull. I had to tear at the flesh on my still shishy hip. Five lines. One for each year we have been together. I could have kept going. I stared at the bleeding cuts, satisfied with the pain and the amount of blood I had drawn.

And I looked up into the mirror at the red nosed, disheveled girl with the wild look in her eyes. Something primal existed there. That girl wasn’t me. I was staring at a loathsome stranger.

I got up, ready to sear my skin with the hottest water I could withstand. I was ready to shave every inch of my body. I scrapped and scratched away the flesh staining me. I wanted to wash this day away.

It didn’t end there. I returned to the upstairs to find him awake. I questioned, “Have you read my note?”

“No, I’ll read it later.”

“You really should consider reading it now.”

Another excuse, “I have to make dinner,” while he continued to surf Facebook.

“It’s really important,” I pressed.

“Not right now,” he protested.

I was pushing now, “Then when?”

“I don’t know. Later,” he dismissed some more.

“A later that will never come.” I thought of all of the unread emails I had sent that went straight to archive. Not even remotely close to a priority.

“Because I don’t want to ruin my Sunday. The only time I have to relax before I have to go back to working 50 hours a week!”

In my mind, I said, “Which you *CHOOSE* to do.”

“Fine. If you do not care enough about our marriage enough to take time to read this, then I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. it can’t go on like this.”

“If you want me to read this so fucking badly, then I will.”

“No, just X it out. I’m done.” I meant it. I was finished with this marriage.

He did read it, mocking some parts of it, as I expected. I knew it wouldn’t be well received. If I spoke these words aloud, I’d suffer more dismissal and rationalizations. I’d suffer more pain through his outrage, pointing out my selfishness, neediness, clinginess, and what he considered to be my inability to see beyond myself.

We fought some more downstairs. Not tearing out throats this time. But in a heated argument. He quoted, “regarded coldy like a business associate”.

“Yes. Not even as basic as friendship. I am not a part of your personal life. I am never let in. In fact, I am pushed away, even physically.”

“I was sick, you know, after drinking more than half a bottle of tequila.”

“You’re always sick. Headache, stomach ache, body ache, anything that can hurt does.”

Sarcastically, he said, “What am I supposed to do. Go to the doctor and say, ‘My wife is pissed that I have pains’?”

“Yes, something. No more excuses. I will not except them.”

“How is it that one of us is perfectly happy? i am completely content.”

“Because the other person bends over backwards to make the other one is happy! I walk on eggshells to take your feelings into consideration and not upset you. It’s suffocating!”

He paused to think. Apparently, I had touched on something.

I know he’s going through something. But, this is no excuse. I don’t deserve this isolation. I do everything to satisfy. I don’t ask for anything out of the question.

I just want to be shown love. Satisfaction. I want him to want me. All of me. To recognize my efforts. To be delighted by my displays. To feel warm.

We reconciled. But, it’s Monday. Back to business as usual. No emails, texts. I didnt want to talk to him after work. I wanted him to suffer. To question if I was alright.

I’m not.

I thought it could be made up. I’m sure another disappointing date is upon us. He did take the time to set something up, likely out of guilt that he didn’t in advance. I wanted to spend some time on the sofa. And I was asked to sit on the floor in proximity to the sofa he laid on.

Daggers. I expected it. I wasn’t devestated. I was despondent. i warned him I was close to shutting down, just a day earlier. When I shut down, it’s over. i’ve given up. It would only be a matter of time before someone calls it quits.

Once a person is out, they are out. A wall will go up, impenetrable. And i will spend my time doing what I want, without any regard for his wants or needs. he violated mine. I may end up done with all of that.

Two more days. I’ll give him by the end of Thursday, the actual day of our wedding anniversary. After that, he’s on his own.

No more threats. Action.

I cannot suffer many more disappointments and rejections.

The Woman Who Played With Matches

Tuesday was a big day. The Blackberry – now dubbed BB4, because I’ve determined I’ve doomed any inanimate (and potentially animate) object I name, arrived. And I struggled at every step getting the damn information transferred.

A compulsion dragged me into two different pharmacies in town, in search of a replacement Sharpie pen. I obsessed about it. I couldn’t continue writing in my journal without it. The writing wouldn’t look right. I saw the hideous tag of $9 and change for two. And I decided that day that my sanity had a price.

I continued with my regression therapy experiment by listening to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. The album as a whole. Still nothing but lyrics. I can’t ever remember where I put my phone and my cigarettes. But, I’ll never forget a single lyric from any of those 14 songs.

All day, obsessions. These obsessive, intrusive thoughts snagged and snapped at me.

You lose everything remotely important. Check your bag for your pens. Your cigarettes. Your phone. Check again and make sure you see it. Did you put it back in there? Check again.

The world whizzed by me. And the music blared:

“Need you.

Dream you.

Find you.

Taste you.

Fuck you.

Use you.

Scar you.

Break you.”

Eraser

C L I C K .

– – – – –
“Fine-ally!” I seriously thought my bladder was going to literally burst inside of me. I pulled myself to sitting on the beige bench seat, all the way in the back. My heavy sandal fell off of my foot and landed directly on my copy of The Downward Spiral. I plummeted at freefall speeds. And upon impact, BANG! I was fiercely sobbing, van door open to a busy, boiling hot highway.

I rustled myself out of that van, and into that rest stop. I lit up a cigarette in a stall (back when you could smoke almost everywhere), and continued to sob.

“What the hell are you causing so much fuss about?” I heard from the stall next to me, “Me and your dad will buy you a new one when we get there.”
– – – – –

My father wouldn’t let me have anything that held any value. I didn’t even carry a wallet until I was 18. I didn’t carry a purse until I was 21. Why have these things without valuables. He insisted that I’d lose it.

When I did lose something, I’d never hear the end of it. Things I’ve come to realize can be easily replaced. A pen. A hat. The trouble is that these things never were replaced. If I lost something, and I loved it, it was gone forever.

Gone forever.

“Everyone I know, goes away, in the end.” Trent purred.

I was eager to get the key into the lock. I couldn’t remember the last time I had to go so urgently. I threw my bags on the sofa as I rushed through. I shedded my coat onto a kitchen chair and turned the corner to the bathroom. I walked up to the toilet and –

The seat was up.

Why was the seat up? I was the last one in the house.

A cloud descended upon me. A dark, nasty, vile cloud filled my head with heavy, smokey noise. It seemed a man had been in my house. And seeing as how only two men have a key to this house, and know the odd work hours I keep, that narrowed it down.

I take my father at his word. The man doesn’t lie. He would just avoid the subject.

That knocks it down to one.

“Confront him.”

“Wait! Don’t! Confronting a potential liar gets you nothing but more lies. Provoke him into exposing himself.”

I fired off a text, “Someone is busted.”

Normally, there is a lag time between fifteen minutes to three hours between texts. “I’m just so busy with everything going on! I’ll go to text you back and something will come up.”

More excuses. I don’t expect to take precedence every day. Just one day would be enough.

Immediately, a call shot to my cell. I nonchalantly answered the phone. At first, he carefully poked around. “Who? What do you mean? What happened?”

We didn’t speak while he was coming home. Unusual. He was only quiet when he was either alienating someone or plotting. I had him cornered.

When he arrived home, he put on a great show. He anxiously scoured the house looking for clues. In paranoia, he wedged himself between the fridge and the wall to boost himself above the drop ceiling. It was quite the farce.

He made a mistake. My husband, a man who is not guilty of anything and deeply crippled by anxiety, would not have given up so easily.

He was chipper when asking, “Would you like to take a walk over to the store for freezer pizza?”

I was bitter and suspicious. He hadn’t regarded me in that way in nearly a month. Each revision of behaviors became more noticeable. He eagerly set up the stroller. He made a pass of the exterior of the house for good measure. Only a pass. It was anything but thorough.

“So who do you think it could have been?” he uneasily questioned me.

Fishing.

“Anyone.”

“Like who.”

“Everyone and anyone who could gain access to our house. Whether it be by force or key.”

Some more silence.

He rattled off a few very unlikely people. Forced. Any shift away from focusing on him. The insinuation was nowhere near vague. If there was something to hide, I’d find out. I made that unmistakably clear.

He trotted through the store. Suddenly, necessary items considered to be superfluous became important. I begged him for toothpaste when I had thrush. I knew it would clear faster. But, though we had just gotten paid, there was no money available.

He was overly enthusiastic about everything. At one point, he went to the Digiorno pizzas, and exclaimed what a great price they were. I had done so three months ago, and was shot down, claims they were still “too expensive'”, and returned to the same nasty, three, overcooked Tombstones.

Fake. Appeasing me. Buying my distractions.

I glared as he rushed through our taxes without complaint. We have never done our taxes so late. Never down to the wire like this.

Irresponsible. Careless. Uncharacteristic.

I fished through his cell phone for clues. He’s clever. He would have erased any tracks. He’s too paranoid to let anything revealing slip.

I have my reasons.

The Mapril Curse

For years, the end of March and the beginning of April have always been rather catastrophic times for me.  Since before I can really remember, this has been a terrible time of year.  As I grew older, I started to notice certain patterns.

Some of the worst things that happened in my life have always happened during this time of year.

As a child, I recall my father was often hospitalized at this time. For a long time, I didn’t understand what my father was so sick with that he’d be gone in the hospital for weeks at a time. It scared me. I was scared he’d never come back. That he would die there.

Our worst fights happened at this time. It didn’t help that my final progress report for the year would come in.

Standardized tests always rattled my nerves. I knew that these tests didn’t affect my grades. It was just implied that these tests prove how smart a person was. I knew a bad score would label me an idiot. The only thing I had going for me, intelligence, would be wiped off the slate. I’d be nothing, and regarded as more of a child than I was already treated.

Then there was Easter break. For me, there was always something disturbing and disappointing about Easter. First, Easter is not exactly a pleasant holiday in the Christian religion. Yeah, I know, it is about celebrating the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

But, before that was good Friday. The day that Jesus died on the cross, after a gruesome and vividly detailed crucifixion. I don’t even know how the church justifies recounting this horrific story to children.

I know this one thing. Because of an exercise we did in Sunday School, peppermints are now revolting. I will spare you.

The closest friend I’ve ever had betrayed me in late March. She told my parents about a shoplifting incident that happened in January, complete with a fine that I was trying to pay off. She sabotaged my friendships with everyone else. As if it wasn’t bad enough that she had made it a very public falling out. She humiliated me.

And my father went off the deep end. No door on my room. Indefinitely grounded. No phone. No computer. No pager. No one in. And for a week, there was no school, and limited freedom within the house.

My ex Beck used my trip to Florida as time to gather support from our friends to backstab me, and destroy life as I knew it. April 1st, he dumped me. April 2nd, he moved his new girlfriend in.

April 8th, my ex Avi and I started dating. The following year, April 1st, we took what was a regrettable step into a year long lease together. A contract that legally obligated is to live together, in a small one bedroom apartment, in the worst of conflicts.

A year after that? We lost the apartment. We went flat broke and had to move into my house, which was then a complete shit shack. We ran a power cord over and lived in one room. Electricity in one room, and still living out of boxes and bags.

In late March, almost a year later, he made the admission that he cheated on me a year and a half ago. It consumed me so much that I was a woman possessed. It was all I could think about. I poured over the details. The emotion of anger, betrayal, guilt, and resentment was so much that it felt like it bled from every pore.

And on April 9th, three years after that first date, I decided that I wanted out. But, I was trapped.

Late March, before my wedding, I was tormented by my family. “You gained 5lbs!”

“Of course. I’m pregnant, right?”

“We can’t afford more alterations and it’s too late! We spent so much money on this, and you have to go and get knocked up! How irresponsible can you possibly be?”

After I had my son, this is the point in time where I started to show aggression and become violent. I was scared of myself. It was at this point that I knew I needed mental help.

A year after that, I started to have significant problems at my job. Even the thought of going there was agonizing.

Last year? The stress of putting together a children’s musical sent me flying into the ER with severe migraines. After that, I had a serious hypomanic episode. The first serious one I can remember.

And this year? Depression. Serious depression and self-harm. Marital issues. A lawsuit. A whole mishmash of events and looming threats that heap into a twitching shadow of depression and dreadful anxiety.

I have been reading references to research that has linked the turn of the season with mental health issues. March has the highest admissions into hospitals for those with mental illness. Different researchers have drawn different conclusions.

Today, I cracked it.

Today was my Pappap’s birthday when he was among the living. If he were with us today, we’d be celebrating his 96th birthday.

He has long since passed, almost 16 years ago. I was still young. He had been fighting a losing battle against prostate cancer for ten years. I was lucky to have had him in my life at all. When he was diagnosed, they only gave him a year.

My father was in and out of the VA hospital a lot when I was a child. My Pappap really stood up to be my father figure. And was he!

He was an amazing man. As a strapping young man, he and his brothers helped my church dig out their undercroft, by hand. It was the 40’s and wartime. Many men were called out to duty. My Pappap couldn’t go, on account of his severe hearing loss. It was mostly a result of working on the railroad. So, he, and other remaining parishioners took their shovels, and created a place where they could meet after mass.

He was always a man you could ask for help. He’d deny no one. And he was a jack of all trades. Plumbing, heating, electrical, building, anything. And if he didn’t know how to do it, he’d figure it out.

He had so many friends. Everyone who had ever spent any time with him was deeply touched by him. He treated everyone like family, and he treated his family like gold.

In times of need, he had offered everything he could to his extended family. Various family members had lived with him throughout his life. He was a faithful and dedicated man. My grandmother was his wife for fifty years before his passing.

He visited my mother every morning at 10AM for coffee after his morning walk. He knew that she needed him most. She was mostly alone with a severely autistic son and a deeply troubled husband, scarred by the war.

He came to every one of my school functions. I remember riding in the back of his station wagon. The only thing that ever made him angry were bad drivers. He always gave me $2 bills for my good report cards, and bragged to everyone about how smart and beautiful his granddaughter was.

I remember the first time I got a card from him with a $2 bill in it. He liked to tease people, so I thought it was fake. I got really mad at him. And he showed me his whole collection of $2 bills. And then he joked that I was a “brat kid” for disbelieving him.

I’d go to church every week, just to see him. He was an usher, and took collection. My Pappap was a devout Episcopalian, and so was I. He threw me a party when I reached my First Holy Communion.

We were very poor growing up. He often volunteered at charity events. The church had a flea market, and I fell in love with this little purple bunny. I was four, and the bunny warmed my heart. She made me happy and safe. He bought it for me, even after my mother lambasted me for begging for the bunny, as if I was trying to embarrass her in front of the other parishioners.

I named her Furry. Some kids had imaginary friends. I had her. She was imaginary in some ways. We talked. She always made me feel better. We shared a bed, and talked late into the night. I was less scared of life with her.

She still exists, and lives on shelf in my bedroom. She has been well loved, with patches of fur missing, dingy ears, paint chipped eyes, and a few obvious seams where she was sewn. Most of the time, I forget she’s there. She’s a relic, the only thing that survived my childhood. But, sometimes, I know she’s watching over me.

I remember the year that followed my Pappap’s death. We celebrated my uncle’s birthday, but it was somber. They shared a party every year. And he wasn’t there anymore.

Really, nothing was the same. Christmas. My birthday. Anytime I got a report card. My mother had removed the dining room table entirely. That’s the same dining room table in my house now. The same one I sit with during meals with my family. The very same that my friends gather around.

And, I never made the connection. I have only started considering a connection between a childhood amnesia and his passing. I never realized that it could have such a profound subconscious affect on my life as an adult.

I miss him. And most of all, I believe I mourn the time we missed most. I mourn the loss of the role in my life he could have taken.

When I joined the showband, I knew he’d be thrilled. His own granddaughter, so talented in music that she would be invited to travel the country each year to compete. I knew he’d be even more proud when I joined choir. All of those years watching me sing in church paid off in solos and special choir assignments.

When I graduated high school, I wondered if he’d be proud of me. I graduated with honors. The choir needed me and a friend so badly at graduation that we actually had to run back and forth from the stage to the other stage!

What would he think of my husband? I know he’d adore my son. My son loves cars and trains, just like him. They’d play with his model train sets all day.

If I ever do have a daughter, she’d be the light of his life. He cherished his girls most of all. He had always told me that girls were God’s gift to the world, and children were life’s best blessing.

He’d just be tickled about my job. He always believed in public service, and thought the people who did it were saints in disguise as ordinary people. Yes, he was a little bigoted, so he might have made a remark or two about it being in a city neighborhood. But, anyone in need – it didn’t matter who they were. He always believed that people were people. No less, no more.

He’d make a joke about me getting a report card. And I’d tell him that I do, every year in May. And he’d probably still slip me a card with some odd currency in there. A JFK silver half dollar. Oh god, a couple of Saqaguia’s! How he would have been so tickled by that!

He played piano. My parents both sing. I know where the talent came from.

Would he have said anything about the bipolar disorder? Maybe one thing. “You were always sensitive and moody. It’s a sign that you’re human.” That would have been that. I am who I am, and that’s more than special to him.

If he were alive, I’d join him and my mother for coffee in the morning, even if I don’t drink coffee. I know he’d pick up my prescriptions if I asked. He might poke fun and call them “crazy meds”. Just for a giggle.

He was the light in my chaotic childhood. He was the rock in my life. He was the father my dad could not be at the time. I was lucky to have my Pappap at all.

I do hope he rests peacefully and happily. And I hope he knows, that even after all of these years, and although I was young, I still remember him and everything he was to me.