So, I’ve written about a lot of things in this blog: having bipolar, being sexually abused, being in an abusive relationship, and the list goes on. However, this is the toughest, and shortest, post I’ve had to write so far.
Yesterday, my son and I took our Little Dottie for a Quality of Life exam at our vet. She was almost 15 years old and was blind and deaf. She also was losing control of her bladder and back legs. In other words, she was suffering. After talking with the vet and her examination of Little Dot, O and I made the decision to have her put to sleep. We said our goodbyes, I sang her special song, and she died in my arms.
I don’t know what to feel. When Bill got home last night, I cried louder and harder than I ever have in my life…I made myself sick. I’ve never ever been in my house without her…and the emptiness of it is overwhelming. I see her everywhere.
Maybe people with pets can’t understand this, but she wasn’t a pet to me. She was my baby…my best friend…my comfort…my joy. It’s hard for those of us with mental illness to make real friends and I can honestly say I have only 3 human ones and that includes Bill. So Dottie was my bestie. She didn’t mind my bouts of depression and would lay down with me whenever I needed too. She didn’t care if I was manic…she’d be right along beside me watching me paint and getting drops of it on her back. When I had a mental breakdown, she was there…centering me the best she could. When I cut myself, I would hug her and try to forget the pain. When I attempted suicide and got off my bed to throw up the pills I had taken, Dottie was right by me…her brown eyes telling me I had way too much to live for.
There’s no words that can describe what she did for me, and I hope, with all my heart that I was a good mama to her. I believe in God and I believe he made animals for us to love. I truly know that my Little Dot is in heaven now…in my Grandpa’s arms…bossing everyone around like the diva she was.
Dottie: you were my precious baby and you are now my angel. I will never ever forget you and you will be in my heart forever. Someday, I’ll be making my way to heaven and I know you’ll be right there at the gate…barking at me to hurry up because you want to play fetch. And honey, I’ll do it.
So, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and even though this one is much better than the one I spent alone last year, I am still not a fan of the ‘holiday.’ No…I’m not a ‘Love Scrooge’! It’s just as I’ve gotten older (in my 40’s now…shutty the mouthies 🙄), holidays are starting to take on a different meaning for me.
OK…take Valentine’s Day. Please. Here’s what’s going to happen on social media tomorrow (which I thankfully will not see since I said Buh-Bye to FB): everyone is going to post pics of flowers, chocolates, promises of trips, fancy home-cooked dinners, stuffed animals, perfume, jewelry etc. Let me see if I can conjure up what some of the messages will say along with the pics (as I told my friend, Susan…I’m a bit psychic…not psycho…but psychic 😳), and as you read these, be sure to use a ‘Valley Girl’ voice: “Oh my God! My sweetheart gave me 20 dozen red roses. He’s my soulmate for sure!” OR…”Oh my God! Hubby said he’s taking me to Hawaii this summer so we can renew our vows on Waikiki beach!” Or…”Oh my God! Look at this ring! Isn’t it the best?”
Blech. Just blech. 🤢🤢🤢
Look, I love that these women are being given gifts that make them happy but I also know the backstory on many relationships (I have the type of face and ears people like to share with 😐) and I’m well aware that these relationships aren’t all sunshine and rainbows (no one’s is, so why pretend??). I remember me and J’s first Valentine’s Day…I got him a bunch of new clothes and he brought me a lone flower with no card…he literally ‘tossed’ it at me and said: “Isn’t this what you wanted?” Then, I saw he had texted his old girlfriend and sent pics of himself wearing the clothes I got him. But, when people asked about my day, I lied. Just flat out lied. I said: “Oh…J gave me flowers and the sweetest card…it was a great day!”
So why the hell did I do that? Well, I think I was just too ashamed to admit it was shitty. And I was too scared to face the consequences of confronting him about this. And I was still too ‘in love/lust’ to see anything truly ‘wrong.’ So…I bottled up the disappointment, took a pic of the ‘beautiful’ flower (it was actually an ass-ugly rose 😐) and said how much I loved him on Facebook.
Look, I didn’t want to be ‘alone’ on this day of ‘love’. BUT, then I really started thinking about the whole concept of Valentine’s Day and decided that if I’m really loved…cherished…cared for…I shouldn’t have to wait for the ONE day a year when everyone talks about it! Right? I would much rather get a card out of the blue because my beloved was just thinking about me. Or I love to get flowers just because my beloved thought I needed perked up. I don’t want ‘special’ attention because the calendar says “February 14th”. I want to feel loved everyday. I want to feel special everyday. Isn’t that actually the way it should be?
I feel the same way about Mother’s day. Yes, I love the cards my sonshine gives me and he gets such a kick at picking out a present for me. But here’s what he doesn’t quite understand yet: when he comes over just to say HI and to give me a hug on a random day, that means so much more! Sometimes he’ll call and I’ll say “What do you need?” (most mom’s do that since our kids sometimes only call then 🙄), and he’ll say “I just wanted to see how you are and tell you I love you.” I swear that I cry every time he does this. I don’t want him to celebrate me on one day of the year (although the recognition is nice); I want him to appreciate me every day of the year which is something I try very very hard to do with my own ma.
When ma’s ankle was broken this winter, I did her errands and I’d always put something special in the sack for her: perfumed hand soap, a serving of soup she likes but is too cheap to buy at Sams, a pretty new dish towel, etc. I loved seeing how much of a kick she got out of the extra treats…it made my heart swell to see her smile. That’s ‘Mother’s Day’ to me.
Isn’t Thanksgiving sort of the same? For the first time since the previous Easter, let’s get the whole fam together to enjoy a meal and share our blessings. OK, but why can’t we do that on Aug. 18th or Jan. 4th or any other day of the year? Why do we wait to do this on the 1 day our calendar dictates?
And Christmas? Maybe I’m weird (shutty) but I talk to God all of the time. I ‘pray’ before every meal and before I go to bed, but I’m always yacking with him. I’m not embarrassed to say I’m a Christian and that Jesus is my Saviour. Why would I be? But so many people are! So, a prayer is said at Christmas where we actually say the word ‘Jesus’ and then we pretty much don’t talk about him much after that…at least until the next year rolls around. Shouldn’t everyday be a celebration of our beliefs? Shouldn’t we pray and talk to our God (whatever your belief system is) everyday? Shouldn’t we celebrate our religious beliefs everyday?
Bill has already had flowers delivered to me and a box of chocolates…he had the first one (it was caramel so I don’t mind, but if he eats a coconut one, he’s dead meat 🤨) . And I appreciate it so much…I know he loves me. But, I don’t know he loves me because he called a florist. I know he loves me because he’s there when I’m depressed…he took care of me when we had COVID…he vacuums and does dishes and folds laundry…he’s always an ear for my venting and his arms are always open when I need a hug. I don’t need to post pics of the flowers to convince others I’m loved. And I also don’t expect them every year. I want him to know I love him every day…good days and bad days…and I want to feel that love from his as well. To me, that’s what this holiday should be all about: cherishing our ‘Valentine’ every day of the year.
So, I’m over all of my COVID symptoms except for 2: I’ve lost all taste and smell. I know this is very common and apparently it could last for a few more days or even a few months. You know, I never realized how much these senses affect our day to day lives until I lost them.
Have you ever played the “Would you rather?” game? For example, would you rather kiss a frog or a rat (I’ve kissed both…remember, I’ve been married 3 times 🙄)? One question that always pops up is “Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?” Of course, this is a toughie and even contemplating losing these senses makes you realize how dependent you are on them. But I’ve never heard the same question asked about taste or smell…it’s almost like these are the red-headed stepchildren of senses. Right?
I didn’t realize these senses had left me until we were sitting down to ‘dinner’ (a wrap with chips and salsa…I’m a gourmet cook…😳) and I couldn’t taste ANYTHING at all. Nothing. I was chewing and swallowing but the experience was ’empty’…there was no sensation at all. Like I told Bill, “Hells bells…I might as well be eating ma’s meatlump right now.”
It was so strange because I could feel the heat of the salsa on the roof of my mouth, but there was no taste to it…no flavor to anything. Then, I started smelling various things to see if that was gone too…the biggest test was smelling Dottie (who, to use my son’s words, does have a bit of a stench) and I smelled nothing. Nada. Zip.
In order to further test all of this, I got out ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, poppyseed dressing, and the ‘smooth’ part of salsa. I blindfolded Bill (he was excited at first and then realized what it was actually for 🙄) and put a taste of each of these on his tongue to see if he could figure out what he was tasting. He didn’t recognize any of them!
You know, until you are going without something you’ve had all your life, you don’t realize how much of an impact taste has. How much the flavor of our foods please us. Even flavors that aren’t fancy schmancy…like peanut butter…are missed. Instead of eating and having some enjoyment…you are just ‘eating’. And it tastes like you are eating nothing while your brain is saying: “I remember this…what the hell?” A couple of days ago after we were released from quarantine, I went to Wally-Farts and bought a ton of food. As I was self-scanning it and yacking to the employee who was watching, I told him I didn’t know why I was buying so much ‘good’ stuff since I couldn’t taste anything anyway. Why spend the money on purple grapes (I LOVE grapes), fresh veggies, deli roast beef, etc. ? I literally could have bought crappy substitutes and never would have tasted the difference. Right?
Well, not really. See, even though I theoretically could eat something I hate (prunes and brussels sprouts come to mind 😐), my brain…as fucked up as it is (sorry, ma 🙄)…would still know I didn’t like them and I don’t think I could eat them without barfing. The ‘memory’ of the taste is there…just not the taste.
And then there’s smell. How boring the world seems without this. Smells infiltrate our lives constantly and without them, everything around us is just bland. Just ick. And not being able to smell food is one thing that’s hard for me. After a fiasco of a dinner with ma, pop, and sis when I was younger that involved spoiled milk (ma doesn’t ‘believe’ in expiration dates 🙄), I refuse to eat just about anything without giving it a good sniff. Here’s how this went down:
Little Kristi: “Ma, this milk is spoiled…it tastes funny.” 🤢
Ma: “It does not! I would never serve you spoiled milk!”
Little Kristi: “Ma. The milk is clumpy. Like cottage cheese.”
Ma: “Kristi. For the last time the milk is not spoiled. Just drink it and eat your dinner!”
Pop: “Aaaaagggghhhhh! C, this damn milk is spoiled!”
Ma: “Oh no! I’m so sorry!”
In other words, ma didn’t trust me to know that when milk is clumpy and causing you to make the same face you make when eating a rotten lemon, it’s spoiled! Now when I eat at ma’s, I (and sis) smell EVERYTHING. And…it pisses ma off royally. However, she didn’t get a mouthful of the expired, sour milk so she has no room to complain. For fuck sakes…no wonder I’m dairy free now. 🙄
I miss so many other smells too: just the everyday smells in the house, smelling Eddie when he’s cuddling me, smelling Bill’s hair right after a shower, smelling that ‘fresh’ aroma of snow (yes, I can smell snow), smelling the towels to make sure they’re fresh, smelling the body wash I like to use, smelling Little Dot when I’m holding her, and the list goes on. It’s like the world is now ‘turned down a notch’ because of the lack of smells.
In fact, smells trigger the most powerful memories for me. T and I LOVE the smell of English Leather. It’s that VERY strong aftershave that older men used to use (I don’t even know if they still sell it 😳) and grampa would douse himself in it everyday. T and I loved to hug him and smell that and even now, if I get a whiff of aromatic cologne when I pass by an older gentleman, I get a tug in my heart.
This one is going to sound nuts (go figure 😐), but even cigarette smoke triggers good memories for me. Gramma always smoked a LOT and the house was full of second hand smoke (this was the 70’s and 80’s, grasshoppers…we didn’t know the hell we were doing). It would sometimes get overwhelming for me at holidays when a lot of the family would smoke, but when it was just gramma, it didn’t bother me (although my lungs suffered). Now when I smell a hint of smoke, I think of gramma sitting on the couch, rolling her hair in pin-curls, while a cigarette waits in the ashtray on the old coffee table they had. In a weird way, the smell comforts me.
And kids? After having a sweaty little boy for so many years, that smell is a huge one for me. Boys have a sort of musty, sweet smell to them and after O would play ball or mess around outside with his cousins, his sweaty head would smell so ambrosial…so fragrant. It was the smell of a happy, playful boy and I’ve never forgotten it. In fact, J’s son would smell the same and he brought back so many memories for me.
I think everyone has a smell and I also believe that our attraction to someone is very much related to this. Some people just don’t smell ‘right’ and no matter what they do, it’s just not there. Out of all of my many hubbies (shutty the mouthies please 🤨), #3 smelled the best. Even after working in the garage or coming home from a 2 day weekend motorcycle trip without stopping to shower, he still smelled yummy to me. And yes…Bill does too.
Other smells I love? The smell of school books and supplies like pencils, notebooks, erasers, etc.; in fact, the smell of an elementary classroom is what I’m hoping heaven smells like. I love the smell of laundry in the drier and when I run by a house when this is happening, I can smell the steam and I get a great feeling inside. I love the smell of running gear…after you wear it a few times and sweat your butt off in it, it doesn’t matter how many times you wash it, there is still a smell….mmmmmm. Going into ma’s house with all of its smells always makes me feel at home and this sounds gross, but when I’m really upset and need something to calm me down, I snuggle Little Dottie or Eddie and smell their ears. Believe me…it works.
Anyhoot, I was just surprised at how much a lack of taste and smell would affect me. Life is more humdrum without these senses…I can’t wait until they come back. EXCEPT for this: picking up the dogs’ poop has never been better…I’m actually doing it now without gagging. That’s the only plus I can think of.
So, with Bill and I being in isolation because we have COVID, we’ve been watching a lot of true crime (very uplifting when you’re sick 🙄) and just finished ‘The Night Stalker’ (Richard Ramirez) on Netflix. As fascinating as it was regarding the investigation of this serial killer and how horrible we felt for all those he victimized, here’s what really got us: how old the film clips, tv’s, clothes, cars, etc. looked. When we started watching this, we both would have sworn that the time period being shown was the 60’s, but alas, we would have been wrong. It was the 80’s.
Heh? The 80’s look OLD to us? Archaic? It was the 80’s…our era, baby! Just a few years ago…right? Well…no. I remember when I was growing up and grandma and grandpa would talk about the 40’s and 50’s and to me, it seemed like a life-time ago (and it was…literally…duh…🙄). Now that we’re in 2021 (the year in which I thought everything pertaining to the Jetson’s would be happening), the 80’s was a life-time ago; after all, my sonshine was born in 1993 and he’s 27. Damn!
So after the show ended, Bill and I started to play the ‘Did you ever imagine…’ game, and we realized how much the world has changed in the decades that followed the cool one we were teenagers in (OK, I was never cool…nerdy/homely would be a better descriptor for me 🤓). Here are some examples:
Didya ever think that we’d hold a phone in our hands…without cords…that had a MUCH bigger computer capacity than the combination of every single computer we ever used in high school had?
Didya ever think that you could ‘send’ a message to someone instantaneously?
Didya ever think the world would be connected and we could access that knowledge every single day without leaving home?
Didya ever think ‘books’ would be read electronically?
Didya ever think you’d be able to take a better pic through a PHONE than you did using the most expensive camera out there when you were a kid?
Didya ever think we’d have electric cars?
Didya ever think there would be a more graphically ‘real’ game than Pac-Man?
Didya ever think there would be something to ‘hold’ your music that was more compact than a Sony Walkman that used cassettes?
Didya ever think you wouldn’t be using VHS tapes someday?
And the list goes on and on.
Take cameras: my son is a professional photographer and he is a hybrid shooter in that he uses film and digital cameras. The first time he started shooting in film, he was so excited! You would have thought he discovered an ancient civilization that hadn’t been seen for eons. For the first few months, he would show me every single pic he took on film and he was just gob-smacked by how they looked…they were so ‘vintage’! And, every time he did this, I’d be giggling inside: “Sweetie…what the hell do you think ALL of your baby and childhood pics were taken with?? ”
And the computer stuff really does boggle my mind. I remember sitting in Mr. B’s computer classes in high school and trying to wrap my head around ‘Basic Programming’. In only 1 semester, I learned how to program a computer to scroll my name on the green and black screen! It was quite an accomplishment. Really. If you would have told me that computers would be the size of your palm someday…AND…we would carry them around in our pockets and be obsessed with them…I would have said you might be a tad delusional.
When hubby 2 and I got our first ‘real’ desktop computer, we were a bit afraid of it, and after getting an AOL disc to use in it, we were petrified. The disc said we had like a zillion hours of ‘internet’ time and we couldn’t understand what the hell the internet was and why the hell we’d want ‘on it.’ We popped the disc in after O was in bed for the night…that way, if something horrible happened, he wouldn’t be a witness to it. A funny, screechy, dial-y sound (much like how my voice is described 😐 ) started and we thought the computer was blowing up. After about 5 minutes (SO FAST!), we were ‘online’ and had no idea what to do. Hubby started clicking around on things on the AOL homepage but we closed it out because there was nothing that interested us. Here’s what we said (word for word): “The internet is stupid…I’m never using it.” 🤨 I guess we were sorta wrong on that one.
And movies? Good lord…I remember traipsing to the local ‘video store’ and checking out a VCR and a movie…this would cost about $40! BUT, since VCR’s were around $600-700 in the mid-80’s, this was a steal! My boyfriend and I’d lug this badboy home in the ‘suitcase’ it came in and then spend a grueling hour trying to figure out the fucking wires that needed to be connected while ma was shouting down the stairs: “Don’t mess up the damn TV!” After saying some not-so-nice things to each other during this fiasco, we’d finally get it hooked up, watch the movie (in our house…oooooo…😲) and then unhook it the next day to get it back before we got hit with astronomical fines. Tech at it’s best!
For my son, using Netflix and Hulu is nothing…he’s been doing it since he was a teen. He doesn’t remember a time when movies weren’t at our fingertips! I do though…and I’m still amazed that you can watch about anything you feel like with a few clicks. And I LOVE how you can stop watching something after a few minutes and go on to something else. When I would ‘rent’ VHS tapes, I’d watch the movie even if I hated it…I didn’t want to waste money by not watching it. BTW, I just got my first talking remote for my cable and using it amazes me…I don’t even have to change channels myself anymore!
And social media? I never dreamed…in a million years…that you’d be able to connect with anyone and everyone in the WHOLE world you wanted to with the ‘click of a mouse’. Further, who could ever have seen the effects of doing so? I’ve been off Facebook now for a few weeks and really don’t miss it at all…except for seeing what my sweetie students are up too. I certainly don’t miss the gossip, political fighting, high-school type antics among adults, etc. In fact, my stress level has decreased knowing I can just enjoy something without worrying about having to post it. It’s freeing! 😛 Plus, I just finished a quilt, have kicked ass on getting my classes set up, and am running 4-5 miles a day! Know what? That’s better than clicking on a thumb for hours at a time!
Anyhoot, how weird to think the era I grew up in was as many years ago as when my gramma would talk about the depression. It’s funny how time goes by so fast, but then you sort of get stuck in a time and it stays the same in your mind as if it were just a few days past. Sometimes I miss those good ole days when kids were out riding their bikes all over the city, and were playing tag at night under the street lights, and playgrounds were full and waiting for a swing was your biggest worry at the time. I feel like people were more connected back then…regardless of the social media and technology we have today. We called each other and yapped for hours on the phone. We had slumber parties and would stay up all night telling naughty stories and freezing each other’s bras. If you wanted to date someone, you had to ask them face-to-face…no swiping…and then you’d actually talk and do things together with no phones interrupting your time. You also didn’t have the pressure of ‘having’ to take photos to post to prove to others you were having fun with so and so. You didn’t have to worry about documenting everything…you just lived it and made the memories in your head where they aren’t judged. People felt better about themselves because you weren’t comparing yourself to others on social media and feeling less than because of everyone’s ‘perfect’ pics. If you had an issue with someone, you actually had to talk to them…not see it splattered across an open platform that everyone reads and can judge you by.
As much as it ages me, it’s like it was a more ‘innocent’ time…more laid back…more linked…united. I didn’t take pics of my son 100x every single day…film and developing were expensive! But when I did take pics, they were special and showed a time in his life that I really wanted to capture; then I’d mail copies to the grandparents for them to stick on the fridge. I didn’t force him to pose or stop playing with him to get yet another pic to post because it wasn’t about the pic…it was about us simply being together.
My life was my life…it wasn’t a life that was open for others to criticize publicly. If I wanted to learn about something, I got actual books and read them and studied them and learned from them. I didn’t passively ask Alexa for an answer…I found the answer myself.
So yes, I’m old. Yes, I’m feeling nostalgic about the 80’s. And yes…even though it was far from perfect, there is so much I miss about it. I guess I’m finally one of those people who yearn for the ‘good ole days’…and in fact, I think a lot of us actually do.
So, blech. Isn’t that a great way to start? Makes you really want to read more, huh??!! 🙄
Anyhoot, Bill started his new job and guess what he brought home? Wait for it….wait for it…
On Sunday morning, I told Bill that I felt ‘warm’ and he put his hand to my head and said I was nice and cool. So what did I do? Take my temp for the first time in years. It was a couple of degrees high and later in the day, we both were coughing and tired and achy…you get the picture (there was also a bit of diarrhea involved, but I’m not going to tell you which one of us had it…just suffice it to say it wasn’t me…😳). We got tested Monday and our results were back Thursday. We are in isolation until Feb. 3rd. I’m not good at isolation.
When I got the test results back, I called ma and said: “Ma, I’m sad because I’m not going to be able to see you for 10 days!” She said: “Kristi, we have gone a lot longer than that without seeing each other.” So I said: “But ma…when I CAN’T do something, I WANT to do something…you know, like when you forbade me to pierce my nose and I pierced my nose.” Ma said: “We’ll facetime.” Here’s the problem with that: ma doesn’t prop her phone up during our screen time and I get nauseated because of the movement…I liken it to being on a boat during a storm.
I am one of these people that get motion sick REALLY REALLY easily. Just watching the words scroll at the bottom of a newscast can make me dizzy and if I ride in the back-seat of a car, watch out. It’s going to get ugly.
When I was a junior in High School, me, ma and her fucking bastard of a husband went camping on Lake Michigan in the Cabin Cruiser they had (he could be fun at times…he got progressively worse through the years and they weren’t even married yet). I have no idea why I didn’t beg off of going except I thought it would be fun. You know…camping on a boat, in Lake Michigan, and not setting foot on land for a week. A couple of days into this nightmare, we decided to boat across Lake Michigan and because I’ve always had such great luck in my life, a storm came up and the boat that always seemed big to me felt like a raft in the ocean. Wave after wave was hitting us and I thought we were going to die. Ma thought we were going to die. R was having the time of his life…I’m assuming he felt like Skipper on the Minnow. 😐
Anyway, did you know Lake Michigan is HUGE? And once you’re in the middle of it, you can’t see land? And when you are in the fucking middle of it during a storm you can’t see land and you have to barf in a minnow bucket because you’re scared if you do it over the side of the boat you are going to fall in? And when you barf in a minnow bucket that smells like dead minnows, it makes you want to barf even more?
So, R was steering, ma was yelling, and I was barfing. Charming. Finally, after what seemed like days but was only about 4 hours, we motored into Chicago. I was REALLY sick by this time and getting dehydrated, plus we hadn’t planned on staying in the city so we had nowhere to dock. R finally spotted a small marina which was labeled “Yacht Club”. The boats were the size of my old snow saucer so the fellows there used the term ‘yacht’ very loosely. In fact, it was a pretty seedy place. But, they let us dock there and we set out to find somewhere I could recover.
We started walking (this was pre-Uber, my sweeties, plus we didn’t have cab fare…no cash and ATM’s weren’t a big thing yet 😐) and we walked and walked and walked. Actually, ma and R walked…I wobbled and teetered and barfed. We were in the Southside of Chicago, it was getting dark, and we had no idea where the hell we were going. We passed a billboard that said “God is watching you” and I said to ma: “I hope!” Finally, we spotted a hotel and R used his last check to book me and ma a room…he wanted to sleep with his boat.
So, ma and I were in a hotel on the Southside…I was moaning and groaning on the bed while she was trying to determine if I needed to go to the hospital or not. Finally, we both fell asleep until we heard someone messing with the door. They were actually trying to break in! Luckily, they left after they heard us scream and we spent the rest of the night with me dry-heaving and ma watching the door like a hawk.
The next day, it was decided that I needed to get home since there was no way in hell I was going to step foot on that Godforsaken boat one more time. The solution? I got to ride a Greyhound home! That was an adventure as well…my first time traveling across the state alone on a bus (actually, it was my last time too…so far…). At first I was excited, that is, until the last words I heard from ma while I was boarding were: “What if she doesn’t make it home?” That was comforting. Ma always has a way of seeing the bright side of things. Well, obviously I made it home and gramma and grampa took care of me and spoiled me to bits…it was heaven.
You know, I realize how lucky Bill and I are that our bout with COVID is mild and we are doing well. I also know how horrible this virus is for so many and my heart goes out to them…truly. Finally, I know that no matter what, ma has always been, and still is, there when I’m sick. Thanks, ma…you’re the best.
So, when are words not enough, and why am I thinking about this now? Well, the sweetie students in my Marriage and Family classes (shutty the mouthies 🙄) had to write their own original definitions of family and marriage, and what I got was great: some students insisted that blood defined a family while others agreed it was love/support/understanding that made a person family to you. In terms of defining marriage, I got a lot of people talking about commitment, loyalty, etc. and the word ‘unconditionally’ was used a lot. Then, one of my sweetie students wrote this: “What couples have is indescribable to me…it’s so much.”
As always, I was gobsmacked by this insight and she is absolutely right. How do you find words that encompass all that a couple has? How could words ever truly be enough? Our textbook (and I also saw this on spruce.com) states that: “…marriage is a formal union and social and legal contract between 2 individuals that unites their lives legally, economically, and emotionally.” Is this really ‘all’ that marriage is? A contract that unites people on these 3 levels? I don’t know about y’all, but there were times in my marriages (😳) where there was a lot ‘more’ to that definition.
I remember when O’s dad and I were married and how we faced a lot in our first few years together: O having severe asthma that led to hospitalizations, living away from all of our family at all and knowing just a handful of people in a strange state, ma being diagnosed with breast cancer, me going to graduate school, B working overtime so we could save up a nest egg since we were living paycheck to paycheck, and the list goes on. And this is nothing different…and much much less than other couples face…in that we ALL have sicknesses, financial issues, family trauma (and drama too), etc. that we have to deal with. It’s true that B and I were legally a couple, economically tied to one another, and had an emotional connection, but there was just ‘more’ to this time in our lives than what was seen on the surface.
We went deeper than just ’emotions’ and acted as anchors for one another…support. We sacrificed for each other and made decisions that put both of our interests out there. We worried and cried over O more times than I can count and held hands or hugged while we did…we knew we couldn’t live without him. We went ‘deeper’ than just the mental state we call ’emotion’. But what other word is there?
Then, I think about my sonshine. There is no way I could ever completely express the love I have for him…as John Candy says about his wife in the movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (my ALL time favorite film EVER 😎), “Words just aren’t big enough for what I feel” and he was referring to his wife. Hmmm…think about that: words aren’t big enough. You know, I wasn’t a mama yet when I first watched this movie in 1987 (I was 5 at the time 🙄) and when John said this, I teared up. But when I watched it again after O was born, I got it. I truly got it. There’s not words that encompass all I feel for my boy. And there never will be.
I also think about my ma. The other day I told her that I forbade (my favorite word to use with her…she hates it 😐) her to ever die. Period. Yes, she’s 75 but she’s going to live to be 150…I won’t have it any other way. Anyhoot, how do I put into words what she means to me? What she’s done for me? How she supports me every single day of my life?
Being mentally ill is a challenge for me, but it’s just as big of a challenge for the people around me. Ma has been there through my ups and downs, and I wouldn’t be here today if she hadn’t nurtured me through the breakdown I had. I don’t say that lightly either. I don’t throw around the words: “Oh…you saved my life!” when someone brings me a sandwich. No. I mean…she SAVED my life. Literally. So how do I put all of that in a word? How do I define that dynamic? That support? That love? That commitment? Well…I can’t.
Today Bill and I are both getting COVID tests…he was exposed at work and we both have some symptoms, so he was home for the day. We were fixing lunch (I found out he finished off our chocolate chip cookies…I had words for that…🤨) and I asked him if he loved me. He stopped what he was doing and looked at me and said: “Why are you asking me that? You don’t know?” Well, yes…I guess I ‘know’ he loves me, but I need to ‘know more’ that he loves me. Does that make sense?
One bad thing about having bipolar is that my brain is never fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) off. It’s always on. And I don’t mean just ‘on’…it’s always on at full-blast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s constantly imagining, ruminating, wondering, fretting, deciding, etc. and so I told him this: “Yes, I know you love me…but what does that really mean to you?” Isn’t that a tough one to answer?
I don’t know if I can answer that myself. I know what love isn’t…it’s not manipulation, retaliation, distrust, disloyalty, etc. but what IS it? I guess that’s what I was after. You know, after you’ve been in an abusive relationship, you question so much in other ones. J said he loved me all of the time…everyday (except for the days he was cheating on me and sometimes, even then) so was what we had love? I look back and know I loved him, but have also accepted that he couldn’t have loved me. You don’t purposefully hurt those you love. You just don’t do it. I can’t imagine laying a hand on my son or dog…I can’t imagine ever saying something cruel to ma…I can’t imagine ever PURPOSEFULLY hurting anyone I love. So…maybe that’s why we say actions are louder than words…they simply ‘show more’.
When you think about it, words are finite…they have some definitions to them and then the entry in the dictionary ends. Maybe what’s important is to figure out what words mean to you, and then try to express that in any way you can…sort of like the Love Languages. What says love to me might be different than what says it to you.
Sometimes I think we get too caught up in words. We give words way too much weight. We give them way too much power. After contemplating all of this, I realized that words are something that we need to sometimes throw away. If Bill got mad at me today and said something hurtful, I’d still know he loves me. He’s human…he’s going to say unloving things just like I will. Maybe instead of getting bitter about this and racking up all of his ‘mistakes’, I could instead look at his actions all of the other time…his behavior…his loyalty…his support. Maybe we all need to work on ‘showing’ than on ‘saying’. Words can hurt and sting and destroy…no argument there. But actions and future behavior can heal that…if we let it.
So, holy crap! I have been hard at work getting my classes ready and starting school and I haven’t had time to post. I miss it when I can’t blawg because I miss talking to my sweetie peeps!!
Anyhoot, I had a completely different post I was going to write today but after a conversation with my sister this week, I decided to write about it instead. Here’s the scoop: sis texted me and said that she had gotten a new phone for her birthday and her hubby was helping her set it up. During the process, she got very frustrated and yelled and felt very out of control. She told me how bad she felt about her blow-up and how she hates that this happens at times.
My first thought was: ‘Girl, I totally understand’. And my second thought was: ‘Girl, it’s not your fault’ (love you Susan, 😍) .
Let’s take these one at a time, shall we? Like me, T has mental health issues and has suffered from depression, anxiety, and OCD for as long as we both can remember. According to the National Institutes of Health, ‘Many psychiatric disorders tend to run in families, suggesting potential genetic roots. Such disorders include autism, ADHD, bipolar, major depression, and schizophrenia.’
And then there’s this: According to the Mayo Clinic, mental illnesses are most likely caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors including inherited traits, environmental exposures before birth, and impaired neural networks in the brain.
Lovely, isn’t it? You know, the fact that we don’t know ‘exactly’ what causes mental illness but that it’s a combination of nature and nurture. It’s like so many of us with depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. are ‘programmed’ into our illness and we are driven by it. Right?
I know how my sis feels. Sometimes I’ll say things…do things…think things…that are completely inappropriate or hurtful. No matter how much I try to NOT do these, it doesn’t matter. My brain is directing the show and bipolar is the star. It’s so hard to describe how I can ‘literally’ (I hate the overuse of that word…so what am I doing? Using the damn thing. 🙄) be telling myself NO NO NO: Don’t buy that! Don’t say that! Don’t work on the house for 12 hours straight and then think of something else to do! Don’t burst out crying in this situation! Don’t make a jackass of yourself! But, I still do. My brain is a powerful organ (shutty the mouthies 😐) and bipolar is a force to be reckoned with. Often times my “Don’ts” become “Do’s” no matter how much I try to hold them back.
So does that mean that me, and others with mental illnesses who might act out, are off the hook for our behavior? Hmmmm. In a way YES, but in more of a way NO. Don’t you love it when I’m so clear in my stances? Perhaps I should be a politician. 🙄
Yes, we aren’t necessarily ‘responsible’ for all that our mental illnesses do in our lives because of the actual inherited traits and brain issues. It’s akin to a child stealing when they’re little, even though they have been taught not to: they simply don’t have the moral development or firm control over their impulses, and this makes it VERY difficult for them NOT to steal .
BUT we are responsible for giving sincere apologies, making amends when possible, and then working on ways we can recognize when things are getting bad and try to vent or express in other ways. My sister said how it’s not just the 1 issue that makes her blow-up…instead, it’s the culmination of many things (just like everyone experiences) and the blow-up might happen for so many reasons beyond what is seen. Sis had a stressful holiday season, has a physically and mentally demanding job, and does a lot for her kids and grandkids (lucky 😐). She didn’t lose control because of a phone. Sis lost control because she can only take so much. Others might be able to handle this stuff better. However, those of us with mental illness handle things differently. We ruminate. We second guess ourselves. We are constantly trying to appear ‘normal’ to others no matter how we might feel (those fucking masks we have to wear. Sorry, ma 🙄). We feel depressed. We feel anxious. We are trying so hard not to give in to what our brains are telling us. Pushing all of this down as best we can…hour after hour…day after day is exhausting. Trust me on this.
My family knows I’m bipolar and they know I have low low downs and high high ups. They know these mood fluctuations are ‘normal’ for me but I try to hide them anyway. I don’t see my son as much as I’d like so when I do, you can bet I’m putting on a happy face (I am happy to see him…but my bipolar may be really pulling me down right then) to make the visit ‘nice.’ I know my ma has a lot of stress in her life and I try my very best not to put any more on her. I know my sister suffers from mental illness and as much as I’d like to call and vent to her, it might be too much for her to handle right then.
Look my sweetie peeps…mental illness is going to affect every aspect of your life whether you want it to or not. It’s going to ‘make’ you say and do things you’ll be shameful of when the crisis is over. These fucking (sorry, ma 🙄) illnesses take over so much of ‘who’ we are and as such, we are often at their mercy. And I don’t know about you and your own struggles, but my bipolar isn’t very merciful. All I know is that I have to cut myself some slack, take things day by day, and then make up for what I have done. It’s just the way life works when you have a mental illness.
So, in my sociology classes I lecture a lot about socialization and how men have such a small ’emotional’ box in terms of what feelings they’re allowed to show as opposed to women. For example, we talk about how women can show vulnerability, sadness, humility, nurturance, etc. in a way that men really can’t. When men feel these things, they often have pressure to suppress them…and that suppression can shift these normal human feelings into what men are allowed to show which is anger. There are countless resources about this and my male students talk about how they have been ‘forced’ in their lives to wear that ‘Mad Mask’ as well. In their papers, they write about fathers telling them to ‘toughen up’ and ‘don’t be so girly’ while validating the same feelings in their daughters. They talk about messages from their peer groups about ‘growing a set’ and ‘not being a pussy’ (no ma, I’m not talking about a cat 🙄). I’ve even had some come to my office and cry about how hard it is to maintain this tough exterior and it breaks my heart how they are deprived by society in expressing what they truly feel.
But, I’ve been thinking about this lately in regard to women and after doing some reading and contemplating my own behavior, I’m now convinced that women are in an emotional ‘cage’ too…however, it has to do with not showing negative emotions instead.
For some reason (perhaps having always wanting to be an FBI agent 😎), I love true crime shows and watched a great documentary on the JonBenet Ramsey case this past weekend. JonBenet was the 6 year old little girl who was murdered on Christmas night, 1996 in her home in Boulder, Colorado. When she was first reported missing, and then later found in the basement of the huge family home by her dad, the police immediately started to suspect her parents were guilty of the crime. They were very rich…she was a pageant girl (which apparently means her mom was a horrible person which she wasn’t from all accounts)…they called friends over for support after the discovery…etc. And because the police had this suspicion so early in the game, nothing could sway them until a man named Lou Smit worked day and night proving that an intruder was actually responsible for her murder and was able to prove it to a grand jury. Anyhoot, as the investigation was in it’s early stages, police officers talked about how ‘weird’ the parents were acting…how out of control Patsy seemed…how angry both parents were.
Heh? Are you fucking (sorry, ma 😳) kidding me? Tell me…how the hell are you supposed to ‘act’ after you find your murdered daughter and the police are focusing on the 2 people, for YEARS, who had nothing to do with it? Hmmm. When you figure out that nugget my sweetie peeps, let me know. In one interview, Patsy yells to the detectives questioning her: “I DIDN’T DO IT…FIND THE DAMN PEOPLE WHO DID!” Guess what, grasshoppers? I would have yelled a lot worse.
Anyhoot, why is it that when women talk about their anger, hate, jealousy, being offended, being distrustful etc. they are demeaned? Seen as being ‘bad’? Seen as being ‘wrong’? Even in the above, where Patsy had every single right in the world to act out, she was still seen as ‘guilty’ simply because of these normal reactions. If a man says he wants to kill whoever hurt his family…OK…damn straight. If a women does? Hey! Hold on there!
And then in everyday situations? I don’t know how many times I’ve repressed my anger at something said or done…just so I wouldn’t look ‘ugly’. You know, like a party pooper. Like a trouble-maker. I’ve had things said to me that I had every right to be offended by…but I have ‘gone along’ to get along. How sad is that?
Some studies show women are even hesitant to say NO in situations that are potentially dangerous so they won’t be seen as troublesome. I’ve seen that myself! I teach about sexual assault in some of my classes and talk about steps women (and men who get raped as well…we can never forget that 😥) can take to possibly lessen the chance of being raped. For example, I tell my students that if someone is following them while out walking, face them and say: “Hey! What are you doing?” in a loud, strong voice. A lot of my sweetie peeps titter…some even saying how embarrassed they would be doing that. When I ask why, they say it would make them look paranoid. My response: So?
As much as many men want to fit into the ‘manly man’ stereotype, women want to fit into the ‘nice gal’ one: Don’t rock the boat…Don’t show anger…Don’t yell…Don’t confront.
A few years ago, a man stalked me and then threatened to rape and kill me in a series of drunken texts. I went for an emergency order of protection which is, in the state of IL, supposed to run like this: The judge will hear the case for the Emergency Order without the abuser present. If an Emergency Order is necessary, a temporary one will be enacted while a date is set in which both the victim and abuser can be present, with legal representation, to then state their cases to see if a long term order can be obtained. (Illinois Department of Legal Aid).
When I went to my Emergency hearing, my stalker showed up…with his lawyer no less…and the judge actually allowed them to go ahead and present their side. Meanwhile, I had no one there…no representation…no idea what was going on. The lawyer (a previous student who must have hated me big time…go figure 🙄) attacked me verbally, threw papers down on the defense table where I was told to sit, and because of the breakdown I was in the middle of experiencing, I couldn’t take anymore even though I did call out 2 lies the stalker said which I proved. So bawling, I walked out and never went back.
I told others about what happened and they said it was terribly unlawful…I should get a lawyer and go after the judge who did that to me…talk to the State’s Attorney…blah blah blah. I did nothing because I didn’t want to look ‘angry’…unhinged…out of control. So, I did what countless women have done for ages…buried it and went on with my life while pushing those feelings down and taking them out on myself. Thank you legal system.
I also did this a lot with ma’s abusive ex (the fucking bastard 😠)…I learned VERY early on in their relationship that I had to be the nice, appeasing girl in order to not rock the boat. The consequence if I did? Ma could get hurt.
I experienced this with J as well: after his abuse and infidelity I was angry as hell, and justifiably so! But when I showed it, I was in the wrong. I just needed to ‘get over it’ and go back to my sweet self. 🙄 If I would have been allowed to express what I needed too and had it validated, the anger would have went away much sooner than it did. If you aren’t allowed to release something…you have to hold on to it. That, my sweetie peeps, isn’t healthy.
You know, I truly believe men and women both have emotional boxes they are forced to live in that greatly stunt them: men having to suppress the sweeter side, and women having to do the same for their tougher side. How sad is that? That both sides have to cover up these perfectly normal human emotions. That both sides have to ignore 1/2 of all they could be and then suffer the consequences: depression, anxiety, etc. Isn’t it sad how we are so freaking ‘gendered’ in our society still? How we have to follow in the footsteps of one path or the other? Yes, we’re getting better in terms of accepting those who are transgendered, but we are failing in releasing some of these gender stereotypes that guide so much of our behavior. I wonder when that will happen?
So, why I’m writing about this is totally beyond my comprehension but I’m so sick of politics I could literally spit. Phoo-toooie…there it is. 😛
There is so much going on right now regarding the election and keeping up with all of the info and issues is difficult since they change daily. Right now there are massive protests at the Capitol and there’s going to be a fight over the electoral college votes because of fraud allegations. It’s getting to the point I don’t even want to watch anymore about it.
I’m one of these people who keep my political ideals to myself outside of my family, and I don’t believe my students need to know where I stand. I primarily teach Sociology and we talk a lot about the political process and the impact of politics on our society beyond the obvious. Often times my students will ask me what ‘side’ I’m on and I always say (what is, for the most part, actually true) that I’m a moderate, and when they ask me who I voted for I don’t tell them.
Why? Because I believe teachers and professors have a huge influence on students and many of them indoctrinate their students to believe what they do. “You’re stupid if you’re Republican” is one I’ve heard myself on campus. OK. Super. Republicans are stupid. Hmmmm. And on the flip side, there are conservatives that say “You’re stupid if you’re a Democrat.” Another hmmmm. So, regardless of what party I might lean more towards, I would alienate half my students with them possibly seeing bias in all I do. To me, the purpose of education is to present the info and then let students make up their own mind using critical thinking, research, and an inventory of their own personal beliefs, etc. It’s not up to us to tell them what is ‘right’ to believe in.
Is this really the rhetoric that helps us move forward in our country? Playground accusations of being stupid, uncaring, selfish, moronic, idiotic, etc. (words actually used in public discourse 🙄)? Is America really going to be completely ‘destroyed‘ by whatever party is elected which means if you voted for them, it’s your fault too? Does being politically active mean putting out horrid tweets, posts, and articles attacking the person and their families (including kids) personally? I’ve seen this on both sides and find it particularly horrendous to attack one’s children regardless of their parents political stance.
What happened to actual discussion? Actual discourse? Actual conversations where you’re allowed to voice your ‘side’ in a way that’s accepted as a valid opinion without being berated for having one? When did we get to the point that if we don’t think like the ‘masses’ in the groups we’re a part of, we’re considered corrupt and villainous and then unfriended? Isn’t a democracy supposed to be a government ruled ‘by the people’ instead of a government using dirty tactics on both sides to win? This is what our forefathers envisioned?
I’m worried about this country. I truly am. It’s sad when we can’t even talk about issues with our family and friends, let alone in a broader audience. I know we all have different ideals but when did the hate come into it? I know families that have been torn apart this year because of the election. I know people who have to ‘lie’ in front of their ‘friends’ regarding their political beliefs so they can keep those friends and political bullying is the norm. Really?
Look, I don’t have the answers. Maybe no one does. It just seems to me that everything is a pissing contest and the winner yells the loudest to get their agenda passed. Look, I think the U.S. is the greatest country on the face of the earth…and of course I do…it’s mine! But I think things are happening that are making me think less and less of it and that breaks my heart. What lessons are kids being taught now? That everything is an ugly fight? That your opinion better match the majority’s? That if you believe differently (in anything!) you are a bad person? That if you try to have any sort of political discussion it will most likely end up in a screaming fight fraught with anxiety and stress? This is what we’ve come too? And…this is the legacy our kids are going to build on?
Happy New Year, my sweetie peeps!! I hope you had a great holiday season and wish you ALL the very happiest of 2021! ❤❤❤
So, I was reading yet another ‘inspirational saying’ on Pinterest the other day and it said this: “If it’s easy, it’s probably not worth it. If it’s worth it, it’s not going to be easy 🙄.” Yes, I know this sounds like a great philosophical musing but I have to disagree with it because I’ve had a lot of things come easy in my life that have been very much worth it.
My sonshine is one of them. I didn’t get preggers with Hubby #1 but immediately hit the jackpot with Hubby #2. Before this, people would tell me horror stories about their pregnancies: barfing every other minute…not being able to get out of bed…getting varicose veins that rival any climbing rope you’ve seen…getting stretch marks that look like a topographical map, etc. And for the women out there who experienced a difficult pregnancy, you truly have my sympathy. But for me, it was a breeze. I never got sick…ate to my heart’s content…reveled in seeing my belly grow…and don’t have a stretch mark in sight (you can hate me now…I’ll wait. HOWEVER, I rubbed baby oil lotion all over my belly from day 1…ma said no matter what I did I would get them, but even after gaining 65 pounds, I didn’t! This, you sweetie peeps, is my claim to fame 😳🙄).
Anyhoot, the delivery wasn’t a picnic but I was blessed with a perfect little baby boy who had, and still has, the best personality of anyone I know. Truly. It was easy being his mommy and I love being his ma now.
School is another thing that’s really easy for me. When I read a book or look at notes, etc. and then try to recall the info, I can see the pages in my mind with the words on them. I don’t know if I actually have a photographic memory (for fuck sakes, I have too many labels as is…and sorry, ma) but I can learn and remember things with very little effort. In my graduate classes, other students would say: “I pulled a few all-nighters and worked for hours and hours on this assignment.” I would nod and say that I did too. However, I was lying. Goodness…I had a 1 year old! I couldn’t work for hours on a paper! So, I’d write a draft during O’s nap, proof it after he was asleep for the night, and then get it turned in. Easy peasy.
NO…I’m not bragging (well….maybe just a tad… 😳). I can’t really do anything else wonderful besides poop out a great kid and read a book in my head…however, we all have to celebrate our victories when we can. Riiigggghhhhttt? 😁
And on the flip side of that quote, I’ve done things that have been really really hard and still didn’t achieve the goal I set or what I thought I earned! For example, after I started running marathons, I really really really wanted to qualify for the Boston marathon and to do so, you have to run a previous marathon under a certain time limit. I was never even close. I worked and worked and worked…and ‘failed’ if you will. I loved running my marathons anyway, but what I worked ssssooooo HARD for didn’t happen so what the hell? Hmmmm.
But, there’s always a kernel of truth in some sayings and I think what has been the hardest thing in my life has been worth it. Being open about having bipolar has been a toughie. It drastically changed my life for the better in that my family understands me better…I understand me better…and I’m getting the treatment I need to stay on track as best I can.
On the other hand (which doesn’t have a diamond on it…yet…cough cough…I’m talking to you, Bill 😊), it was hard to ‘come out’ and some of it wasn’t worth it at all. It changed a lot of my relationships and opened me up to criticism, ‘talk’ (i.e. gossip), people avoiding me, etc. Bipolar is considered the 2nd most serious mental illness (of course) around after schizophrenia and people think we’re cray-cray…always unstable…unable to have any semblance of a ‘normal’ life. For those untreated, yes…these things might be true; but the vast majority of us aren’t dangerous, criminal, out of control, or psychotic and are living our lives fully. 😎
You know, I loved Carrie Fisher so much (yes, we can call it a girl crush and not be lying 😳) and she once said this about having bipolar herself: “In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls.” I adore this! I love knowing that no matter what happens in my life, I’m already very ‘ballsy’ and can handle about anything else that comes along. 😐
So, here’s my point: It’s OK if things come easy to you…if you didn’t have to work hard to get them. And it’s also OK if you worked your ass off and didn’t get the reward you were looking for…not everything can be achieved by everyone. So here’s what I’m doing as I begin this new year: thanking God for the blessings he gives me so easily…leaning on him when the struggle gets real…and then giving myself a break when I fall short despite my work. I’m not going to feel guilty for the easy pleasures…and I’m not going to beat myself up for not meeting a goal. I’m going to be thankful everyday I have and know that whatever does happen, happens for a reason.