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.
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.
On an island called Chios lived the Greek God Apollo, his beloved Cyparissus, and a stag, adored by all of the inhabitants. Especially by Cyparissus. Cyparissus would care for the stag, adorn his horns with garlands, and they’d ride and gallop across the island in merriment.
One hot day, Cyparissus was hunting in the woods. From afar, Cyparissus saw an animal. Cyparissus took aim with bow and arrow and fired a fatal shot. When Cyparissus approached, the animal was recognized as the beloved stag.
In agonizing mourning, Cyparissus prayed to Apollo that he be permitted to be grief-stricken for eternity. Reluctantly, Apollo agreed, and turned his friend into the cyprus tree, to preside over the mourning of others.
I approach the cyprus in the distance. I can see it, wide branches over the swelling tides. It stands alone, and survey the landscape. I am alone in this endless field, approaching the cliffside. The others may not join me immediately. Because, they won’t let themselves see it in the distance.
What does it all mean?
My grandmother had a stroke on Christmas. She has not been well enough to care for herself for quite awhile. The details have become clearer as the cypress tree was coming into focus. She has not been well for much longer than many of us realized. It was a very closely guarded secret.
It was not for the protection of others, but the denial of one. Her caretaker. When the day comes, and she is gone, her caretaker will have no one left. In a way, she was protecting herself from psychic harm.
My grandmother went back into the hospital on Saturday, the 18th. The doctors determined she has pneumonia and congestive heart failure. On Sunday, the 19th, she had a seizure. Currently, she is in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit. She’s conscious and stable. But, her doctor, who has been treating her for years, had deemed the situation to be grim.
They say she’s turned around today. But, I am not hopeful. Her brain is still hemorrhaging, slowly, but continuously. She has developed aphasia now, although she is aware of her surroundings. But, she is mostly immobile. Congestive heart failure doesn’t just go away. Her body is ailing and her brain is failing. She is shutting down, bit by bit.
And, I walk slowing, a lone soul in my procession toward the cypress tree. Each step feels like the terrain grows larger. I am alone in my acceptance that her days are sadly numbered. I am terribly alone in my grievance, crossing those days off of my calendar. And I am seemingly completely alone in the anxiety of the wait.
I know why. No one is ever ready to lose their mother.
But, I ask, what quality of life does she have? Immobilized, unable to care for her basic needs, and losing more of her brain function with each episode. How happy can she be in that state? Is it fair that many cling to her life so much that they fail to see any of this?
I see it. I mourn her life in such a state. I am troubled by her slow disintegration. And, I clutch Tallulah (my Blackberry), in grave anxiety, awaiting that call. I have gone as far as allowing my phone to remain on ring while I am at work. As far as I am concerned, I am on death watch.
I worry. My grandmother is the last bit of glue that binds this family together. Her children refrain from bickering, for her sake. Her grandchildren are only vaguely aware of each other. And most of the rest are scattering to the four corners.
I worry. About my family – about my mother. She is the glue that binds her family and the very mechanism that keeps it functioning. The woman is much more fragile than can be perceived by her stoic exterior alone. If she falls apart, her family will fall. They depend on her.
And I know. It will fall on me. I will have to find the strength to care for five people, when I am hardly capable for caring for myself.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The time stamps don’t lie. I watched the time race by in the bottom right-hand corner of the grey bar on my monitor. 10:39PM: “C.S., are you awake?” No answer.
My intention? To reconcile my email and produce an update. My email has been hovering at around 45 unread. My posts have become sporadic on Pendulum. I do have an audience, whether I want to acknowledge it while writing my posts or not.
Note: I do not acknowledge my audience, because I am continuing with the original premise of a monologue. This is purely in the sense that I am not writing to an audience, but more performing for an audience.
One thing led to another. The devil is in the details. I glanced at the little clock: 1:06AM. At that rate, I would’ve only gotten seven hours of sleep. I bargained with myself. I could probably extend that out another half an hour.
1:42AM: I’ll be done in a couple of minutes and I could muster six and a half hours. I can be okay on that little sleep. I’ll make it up.
2:17AM: I’m right in the middle of something (different)! I’ll cut this short and go straight to bed.
2:50AM: Finally done. Wait! No! I still have to post on Pendulum!
3:16AM: Done. For real this time.
3:23AM, as I lay my head on the pillow: I’ll sleep in for however long my body tells me I need.
Less than five hours later, the alarm on my Blackberry went off. The universe is funny in the way that if I needed to get up, it would have been a struggle. The touchpad on my Blackberry was frozen. It only allowed me to snooze it for 5 minutes. After a drowsy battle, I managed to turn it off.
8:31AM: I am gently awoken with Breathe Me by Sia. C.S. was blasting it, anxiously asking himself, and likely me, where his belt had gone off to this time. The eternal struggle.
Losing sleep is dangerous business. I rarely wake up in a haze and spend my day in that condition. This is where external factors are counted the most. An uneventful day could mean I’d likely lose steam in the early evening with a geriatric bedtime. An action-packed, stressful day that ends with me conquering something, could pave the way for euphoric hypomania. An emotionally charged day could beckon dysphoric hypomania.
A dangerous game, indeed. Any which way, the stack of cards is eventually going to clobber me.
It was business as usual at the Sunshine Estate. C.S. left in the van-buggy, the house was a frosty 65, and T.D. and I were enjoying our Cinnamon Toast Crunch, with the company of Spongebob. Today was the first day in awhile that I actually witnessed the mailman deliver. So, I was prompted to retrieve it. Besides, we were still waiting on yet another continuance for the lawsuit.
That’s exactly what was amongst Tuesday Trash Mail Day. Our lawyer already informed us that the plaintiff retained council. Hence, the continuance. What I saw was un-effing-believable.
“This is an official notification from the district magisterial court. This document notifies the party of an official continuance of the hearing from said date to the new date.”
Okay, okay, I knew that. And at the very bottom of the tri-folded paper it read, “This was granted at the request of (insert name here) Esq.”
The passenger of the other party’s vehicle and the lawyer have the same last name!!!
This is where it gets hairy. We are uncertain of the nature of the relationship between the owner of the vehicle (the plaintiff), the driver, and her passenger. Mind you, the occupants of the vehicle are nowhere on these court documents. The only place that they exist is in the police report, and a vague threat of personal injury suit.
The passenger and I attended the same high school, and I recognized him at the scene. We weren’t well acquainted – he was a sports player and I was a musician. Those social circles don’t provide a wealth of opportunity to cross paths. Nor would I have wanted to. He wasn’t a terrible guy. I had a reputation to keep.
I immediately discarded my breakfast and ran to my computer. It was time to do some investigative work. It was too unlikely to be coincidence – it’s not like the surname was Smith or Johnson.
I’m handy with a computer. I’m one of those people I fear. With a first name, surname, and a city, I can find out a lot about a person. I made the connection pretty easily. I found both a positive address match from census information and a genealogy match. They are father and son.
It gets worse. The plaintiff’s lawyer is also a commissioner in my municipality. FML!
Isn’t there some kind of law against this?!
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.
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!”
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.
This why they call it a “Family Circus”..
This exercise was pointless. With one exception.
A Happy Thanksgiving indeed!
Honestly, I’ve been dodging this since I received word in May that my Pap came back bad again. I put off the colposcopy until July, as I mentioned in All the Pretty Things. The results of the colposcopy were among many things that triggered my breakdown in August, most noted in Meet Me in the Magnolia Tree. I was informed at that point that I would need the surgery. And I failed to go to both my August consultation and my September consultation. I couldn’t face what I knew she was going to say to me. I couldn’t hear that I may never be able to have more children. And after the debacle from my last surgery, mentioned in Leep-Into-Cin – Part II, I couldn’t fathom the idea of having to go through another one.
The Reader’s Digest Version
It’s a lot of history to take in all at once. I understand. So, for those of you that really don’t have the time, or simply don’t want to sift through all of it, I will provide the abbreviated version. I was diagnosed with HPV in August 2007 and had cervical dysplasia as a result. At the time, I was in my early 20’s and the doctors all insisted that it would clear up on it’s own. I got pregnant at the beginning of 2008 with T.D. and it only got worse. In fact, so bad that I had to have the worst colposcopy of my life when I was 34 weeks pregnant.
Due to some insurance problems, I wasn’t able to get another colposcopy until May 2009, when it was discovered I had CIN-II and III in some places. Essentially, I had the worst precancer before it became real cancer. I had a very traumatic cryosurgery done in June 2009, and that was that. For then.
Here we are, two years later.
My Worst Fears Realized / Speculated and More
From the moment I got the call, I’ve done my research. I knew the words that were going to come out of her mouth. And, I had face it alone. C.S. and I decided that it would be better to save that 1/2 day off, in case I need it after the surgery. Not that emotionally agree with the decision. I see the logic. But, I knew I’d need him there. In a way, I am hurt that he doesn’t consider my health more important than his work. I know he is only trying to make things stretch. But, I feel like if he cared enough, he would have been there.
Like I already knew, I risk cervical stenosis, scarring of the cervix and cervical canal, that may make natural conception impossible. I am at a higher risk for cervical incompetance, which may make carrying a child to term impossible. I risk infection, hemmorage, etc. But here’s what I didn’t know. I risk damaging other organs in the vicinity, such as the vaginal walls, colon, bowel, etc. And that made the whole ordeal so much worse.
All my doctor could say was, “The risks and complications are a possibilty. I can tell you that these risks are small, but I can’t make any guarentees about what’s going to happen.”
On the subject of future children, “Cervical stenosis isn’t as much of a concern as cervical incompetance. It depends on how much we have to remove. We can only determine that when you’ve healed. I’ll check at the 2 week follow-up and we’ll have a better idea then.”
My Aching Heart
I cannot get my mind away from the possibility that I will be incapable of having anymore children. I wanted one, maybe two more if I feel my biological clock start to tick later on. I cannot fathom the idea. It breaks my heart to think about. I may never have another child, ever again. I could end up barren with the thoughts of the child that I could never have. The child that would have been a sibling to T.D. and a child to C.S. and I.
Worse, is the possibilty of having multiple miscarriages. I had one, and I know it was my fault. I didn’t know I was pregnant until I miscarried at about 10-12 weeks. I was drinking heavily at the time. And that likely did it. If that child had lived, he / she would be 9 in January. It took me a long time to accept the truth about it. But, I knew it wasn’t meant to be. The day after I conceived, my boyfriend broke up with me. I told him a year later about what happened. His response was, “It was better this way. I wouldn’t have left her (his girlfriend) anyway. Now, we can all get on with our lives.”
It was cold-hearted, but he was right. I was in no position to be a mother. I was too young, with no college education, no income, and hardly a stable place to live. The child would have had a deadbeat dad, and I would’ve been outcasted by my family. This is not to mention that I was not yet diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That baby has a better home in the life beyond.
Will I have to go through the unimaginable pain of losing a child? Losing multiple children because my body just can’t do it? I’m terrified at the idea. I cry when I hear about it. How could I even begin to handle that?
My doctor tried to be reassuring and said, “Most of my patients who have undergone one LEEP have gone on to have successful, complication free pregnancies.” Most. Not all. This is my second surgery. I don’t know exactly what I will have left when all of this is said and done with.
The Worst Case Scenario of Them All
What if this LEEP doesn’t do it? What happens if the dysplasia grows back. I only have so much cervix. Do I have to face another LEEP? And if I do, that will destroy all hopes of another child. Beyond that, we’re looking at a hysterectomy. I’m too young to have my uterus removed. So what then? Hormone replacement therapy for the next 10 – 15 years? Or will I just have to bear early menopause?
That is honestly the worst of it all. Not being able to have children and having to go through menopause.
The Only Good News
The actual surgery isn’t nearly as bad as cryosurgery. I will have a cervical block, as well as IV sedation. Instead of being in the office, I will be at the hospital. The procedure is supposed to be painless, and afterward, I should sufffer no symptoms worse than a light menstration.
The after care is much like having a colposcopy, and heaven knows I’ve had enough of those. Literally, I’ve had four or five. With the last one, I wasn’t doing great the same day. But, within a few days, I was back to my regular self. I should be healed enough to resume normal activity within two weeks (like aerobic activity), with the exception that I’ll have a lifting restriction for a month.
The date of the surgery – November 10th or 11th. I have off on the 11th, so I tried to schedule it for then. But, I can take the 10th off, if needed. My doctor specializes in treatment for woman cancer. I trust her and really like her. She reminds me of the wonderful OB that delivered T.D., except she’s a little more forthcoming. She’s the only doctor that has sent my specimens to an oncologist for review. She is the only doctor that has been extremely proactive about this. And she is the only doctor that hasn’t treated me like I’m a case, or I’m insane, or anything else. She’s regarded me as a person every time.
I just want to get this all behind me. I want to be able to deal with the aftermath as soon as I can. And, I need to make the attempt to get pregnant as soon as I can afterward. Because, if I have to face another LEEP or hysterectomy, I’ll be damned if I don’t at least try to have another baby before we come to that.
It’s been five days since my last post. I realized the huge gap in posting and attempted to write something on the bus on the way to work quickly. That ended in my phone crashing the app and me seething over lost work. So, here’s an update on the RL that’s been eating my Lulu life.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
That was the day we held T.D.’s third birthday party. The morning started out with a breakfast buffet at Eat N Park. T.D. is an incredible eater. What made the buffet worth it was the fact that I knew he would eat an adult portion, though C.S. and I may not have.
C.S. and I put T.D. down for a nap when we came home. Then, we feverishly cleaned the house before our guests arrived. It’s not as if we keep a dirty home. In the past week, I’ve been sick, so the domestics got a little behind. Really, we could have gotten it done in about an hour, but we opted for the deep clean. I won’t bore you with the details.
T.D. had a lovely party. His Grammy (my MIL), Poppop (my Dad), and his Grandma (my mother who he actually calls “Gram”), all stopped by to open presents and have birthday cake. The rest of our guests weren’t able to come until later due to other obligations. But that was fine. T.D. considers our friends to be his friends, too. He has his favorites, and they all managed to make it. He really loved it. And I’m so happy that he had such a wonderful party.
Saturday, October 16, 2011
This is my little dedication to the birth of T.D..
We all must have partied a little hardy and woke up later than usual. We were sitting at the breakfast table when I noticed the time. I said, “At this time, exactly three years ago, Mommy was hooked up to all over her IV’s.”
I had an induction with T.D. at 38 weeks. My pregnancy was riddled with problems. Most of them were normal pregnancy symptoms – acid reflux to the point of vomiting, migraines, etc. When the doctor asked that Monday morning if I was ready to have the baby on Thursday, I was overjoyed! There’s nothing I wanted more than to not be pregnant anymore. My stomach was so big that I couldn’t even lean forward anymore, much less bend down.
I also had more threatening pregnancy problems. I had placental problems and cervical dysplasia at the time. Additionally, I’m a small woman. There was an issue with narrow hips, and the question as to whether I was going to be able to deliver naturally. On his last ultrasound, T.D. was about 6 and a half pounds and his lungs were fully developed. It looked like we were ready to go!
A little later in the early afternoon, while relaxing with some television, I noted the time again. I said, “At this time, Mommy got her epidural that didn’t turn out so well.”
The doctors and nurses urged me to schedule my epidural ahead of time so that I wouldn’t miss my window of opportunity. Personally, I didn’t want to get it until it was absolutely necessary. However, since I had to schedule, I had little choice.
They cleared everyone out of the room, and I panicked. I begged for my husband to be allowed to stay, but it was hospital policy that no one remain. Apparently, some had fainted at one look at the needle. I was scared. I tried to remember what other women had told me; “By the time I got the epidural, I was in so much pain I didn’t even feel the needle!” But I felt it. I screamed when that needle was shoved into my spine. The nurse and doctor were jerks about it. “It couldn’t have hurt that bad.”
We hung around in a silent room for awhile. Finally, I asked, “Why are we waiting around?” It was hospital policy that the doctor and the nurse administering the epidural wait for fifteen minutes in case something happened. Nothing did happen, and everyone was allowed to come back in.
It wasn’t even ten minutes before something did go wrong. I kept telling C.S. that I felt like I was going to vomit. I was spinning and everything blurred. A hazy black formed around the edges of my vision and enclosed in while voices seemed to drift away. In my mind, I thought, “This is what dying feels like.” I was brought back to with a shot of adrenaline. The epidural caused my blood pressure to tank out and I lost consciousness for just a moment.
Later on, more toward the evening, I noticed the time again. I mentioned, “This was the time that Mommy’s epidural wore off.”
My doctor and nurse expected me to have delivered around dinner time, and we had gone past that now. I was in absolute screaming agony and begged that my nurse get someone to give me more medicine. She told me to wait. Wait?! Wait for what?! Finally, my screams attracted enough attention to get a boost of epidural. It was a relief, but not enough to bring the pain down to a manageable level.
And this is where my memory gets a little fuzzy.
There was a clock across the room and a TV underneath of it. I was keeping time based on both the TV programming and the clock. I could have sworn that the doctor came in and told me around 10 that we were going to do some practice pushes. I know that’s the time that they cut me off from the epidural. But C.S. seems to think differently. To say the least, T.D. was born into this world after between 45 minutes and an hour and a half of pushing labor. They told me, “He’s out! He’s out!”
They rushed T.D. off to the little cart. I didn’t hear him crying at first. I asked, “Is he OK?” They assured me he was fine. But, I didn’t hear him. It was the longest minute of my life, but I finally heard his voice.
Today, T.D. is alive and well. And my hips remained two inches wider.
What do I say now?
I’ve written and rewritten and edited this draft for the last three days.
It originally started out with a rationalization:
Lamictal and hormonal birth control don’t play nice. When I first started Lamictal, I would take the bc placebos for that week and start exhibiting symptoms of PMDD. My Pdoc recommended that my OB/Gyn consider putting me on a continuous cycle for three packs and then have the off week. And I’ve been doing that for almost 2 years.
I have that liberty to schedule when Aunt Dot comes to visit. Risking a complete mental break down every 63 days was better than having to do it every 21. In the last year, the last couple had been pretty mild. I thought I was in the clear.
I lost track and went 5 months this time.
What person with bipolar disorder wouldn’t want to be able to blame conditions that are within their control? I was telling myself that Monday would come, I would be back on the BC and all would be right with the world. In the meantime, I adjusted my dosages – with no effect. I did that a couple of days ago thinking I could put a bandaid on the situation until there was a real fix, meaning I straightened my meds out and all of this moody woman bullshit was over with.
PMS was a word invented by men to explain women’s emotional behavior. (No offense intended to my male readers). My husband discovered my self-inflicted injuries today. Actually, more like he discovered the band-aid that I’ve been hiding under layers of bracelets all week. He said, “What’s that?” I answered in a low voice, with T.D. on my lap, “Nothing.” I won’t lie. I’m sick and tired of cowering in fear for someone else’s approval. I didn’t lie to him. It means nothing to him, but it will stay with me for a long time.
He asked again, “What is it?” And once again I replied in a murmur, “It’s nothing.”
“Every time you get your f***ing period, you have to go and cut yourself!!!”
I don’t recall being afflicted with such in my very first post, “To See If I Still Feel”. And I can honestly say that was the very last time I engaged in self-injurous behavior.
I’m starting to suspect it isn’t completely me.
Originally, I wrote:
My marriage has been on the rocks lately. My kid is raising hell. I have the crushing weight of being solely responsible for T.D., anything domestic, and work. I am expected to have time for everything. I am also expected to take all kinds of crap from everyone when something goes wrong. That is, surprisingly, with the exception of my boss and co-workers.
I have dealt with be mistreated and disrespected in my home. I have endured vicious criticism and blame. I am overwhelmed and over burdened. And anytime I speak up, not only am I wrong, I am intentionally starting trouble. Suddenly, my condition becomes a reality because it’s convenient to blame me “being a bitch” on having bipolar disorder.
I am falling apart and it’s not even at the seams. It’s from consistent strain and wear on my fabric. And when someone I let close enough to me starts taking swipes… it’s enough. It’s more than enough to come undone.
I wrote to a dear friend that I used to be able to depend on C.S. I described all of the wonderful things he had been to me. But now, I feel like I’m being pushed off the ledge and then kicked in the face when I finally hit the bottom.
Each morning, when I awake, I have been telling my dearest friends here that I’m doing better. And each afternoon, I’m doing worse than the day before. After that comment, “Every time you get your f***ing period, you have to go and cut yourself!!!”, I’m about to give it up. I was mistaken when I said to my dear friend that I wasn’t sure that he was even aware of what he was doing to me.
We don’t get to choose our family. Sometimes, we can’t choose who we fall in love with. But we always have the choice to make the decision to devote ourself to each other through marriage. How could someone who chose me, who is supposed to love me, be causing me so much hurt?