Sunday, September 28, 2014

There Is Nothing Like Nothing

Sitting on my bed with my electronics to comfort me, I strain to hear the voices.  The Gamer is helping Mr. K set up a movie he wants to download from Amazon Prime.  I’m getting ready to get my feelings hurt, because I already begged my him for a mom-son date, and he turned me down.  He was nice about it, but it was very clear.  He’s a teenager, and teenagers get to tell their parents they’d rather not hang out with them, even (and maybe especially) if their home life is painful, awkward madness.  I get it.  I encourage it, in fact.  I applaud him implicitly.  

If he ends up sitting down to watch the movie, there are two ways I can take it.  One is that he genuinely wants to spend time with Mr. K.  And that’s  . . . okay.  The other is that he doesn’t want to, but he doesn’t want to hurt his dad’s feelings. And that’s . . .  not okay.  He should not have to adjust his behavior to accommodate a whiny self-pitying passive-aggressive drunk.   He’s a perceptive kid.  We used to call him “sensitive,” but that has a pejorative connotation.  I prefer “perceptive.”  “Intuitive” is another good word.   Judging by the long silences that punctuate his end of the conversation, I conclude that he is at least two clicks shy of thrilled at the moment, and I feel my face clench into the scowl I wear whenever I get wind of his dad’s attempts at provoking him with guilt.

From another room, I can’t tell for sure whether Mr. K. has been drinking, though he probably has.  He’s been drinking steadily (or unsteadily, see what I did there?) every night since he slipped a week ago Sunday, heralding two weeks’ home from rehab.  Two weeks of neither calling his sponsor nor going to meetings.  But it’s not my job to know about any of this.  In fact, it’s my job to make a concerted effort NOT to know, not to care, not to measure, not to assess, not to hypothesize, not to conclude,   

He comes to my doorway, and I see that it’s incontrovertible.  If not drunk, then certainly he’s been drinking, he holds himself very carefully, very straight and still.  He makes an effort to speak distinctly, but the words come out thick and dull, as though the effort it took not to slur them took their meaning away.  “Where are the savings bonds?” he asks, following up on an idea he had about how to pay down his personal debt with community funds.   An idea that I will report with dispatch to my new attorney.    Upon filing for divorce, something called a “quadro,” or Qualified Domestic Relations Order, goes into effect.  The one-line story on that is “Don’t fucking move money around until the judge says you can, motherfucker.”  So, no, I found the precious savings bonds and squirreled them away.  Not turning them over until I have to, or until I remember where I hid them.  Oopsie.  

The scene is fraught with awkwardness, him standing in the doorway, casting about the room, slowly, not sure what he’s looking for, or even what he’s seeing.

Mr. K.:  I'd just like to know one thing.
Me:  What's that?
Mr. K:  Why do you hate me so much?
Me:  I don't hate you.  I nothing you.
Mr. K:  I'd rather you hated me.
Me:  I feel sorry for you, how's that.  Best I can do under the circumstances.  

Long, slow, painful silence.  He looks at me imploringly.  I look back at him, impassive, measured.  


Don’t drink and go to meetings.  Keep it simple, stupid.  Keep coming back.  It works if you work it.  One day at a time, first things first, easy does it.  I know it all, from years of Ala-Teen, then Al-Anon, always the loved one, the daughter, the sister, wringing my hands from the sidelines, watching the drunk try to get sober much as the mother watches the child learn to ride the bike without training wheels.

But I’ve never done this with a spouse.  A former spouse.  I guess they say “a loved one,” but he’s not loved, at least by me.  I have anger and resentment and horror and fear.  I even have pity sometimes, which I know he senses.  And loathes.  He’s the only one who’s allowed to do that.

No.  If I’m not going to love him, then he’ll settle for hate.  Hate he can understand; pity makes his skin crawl.   But what I really have for him is nothing.  And as far as he’s concerned, nothing is the worst.  Nothing is the vacuum that remains after all that other nonsense finally subsides.   Nothing is the final blow, the realization that he is all alone with his disease, his addiction, his ultimate lover.   And maybe nothing will be what propels him either up or down the ladder of his recovery.  But it’s not my job, it’s not my call, it’s nothing to do with me.  



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Stupid Hallmark is Stupid: Mother's Day 2014

I recognize it the second I hear it. The excited, enthusiastic tone of someone who has tied everything in the universe into one nice neat package with a nice neat bow.   "The numbers and words relate together in ways we're not even aware of.  Look at the ad for Hulu on that bus.  Hear how that sounds.  Hu. Lu.  Perfect example.  There are no coincidences.  That word has two syllables.  And each syllable has two letters.  I can't believe you're not getting this.  It all comes down to the power of two.  It's called 'binary code' for a reason.  One and zero, mom,  One and zero.  That is all.'"  

I look with horror at my daughter in the passenger seat and hear my voice come out of her mouth.  The day I have feared, the possibility that I have dreaded.  It's here now.  It's happening now.  Full-blown mania.  Two syllables, one hyphen.  Full. Blown.

My first thought is logistical.  I need to get her some help.  Nigh impossible because although things are improving between us, and through meditation and the passage of time I am cultivating forgiveness, learning to let go, to feel compassion for her instead of resentment, our relationship is broken.  Even in the best of times, she is stubborn, and defiant, and prideful.  It will be like tiptoeing through a minefield to nudge her gently in the direction of a psychiatrist, a diagnosis, some meds.  My second thought is suffused with dismay.  I am going to have to enlist the aid of her dad, my ex-husband, in this project.

Two thoughts here:  One is that he will apply the crippling denial that has killed my love for him, kept him from getting well, to the situation I see rambling next to me, sweeping her arms and banging them against the dashboard in her exuberance, her insistence that her theory applies to sociology as well:  The relationship between men and women is based on the fundamental power struggle, caused by the opposition of two forces, yin and yang, "See, mom, two again, see where this is going?"  The fact that some of her rambling is based on fact doesn't comfort me.  That's how it begins, discovering of an underlying truth of nature, extrapolating and relating and connecting, seeing symbolism everywhere, another example and another, the perceived brilliance of the insight fuels its momentum.   Here is more evidence that bipolar disorder, or at least the predisposition to it, is genetic.  With a rueful half-mile, I observe that she'll get no argument from me on that power struggle.  With us, it's been an intractable battle for 25 years.

The second thought cascades from the first, that here is more evidence that my condition, or at least the predisposition to it, is genetic.  And here is more grist for the mill of blame that I am responsible for everything that has happened, the destruction of our family is my fault because of my illness and my inability to manage it, despite medication and therapy and dogged determination to get it right.   Neatly side-stepping the implication that he has encouraged the disaster through ignorance and indifference, fueled by his refusal to confront his own pathology.

I have to wrap this post up for now.  I woke too early this morning (like mother, like daughter, there's the other half of that rueful smile).  I have a two-hour drive ahead of me.  My younger daughter, PreMed, has invited me to spend the day with her at college where there is "a hippie-dippie fest, mom, there will be a massage chairs, and the booth that sells the sandalwood body lotion I know you love, and a drum circle, and we can day-drink mimosas out of a wineskin, and sober you up in time for your drive home."  

For now PreMed has not evinced the pattern of symptoms that led to my downfall, and now apparently, her sister's.  Maybe it's just that she's been able to translate that energy into success and achievement, her brilliant insight into compassion.  I'll go spend the day with her and soak up some of her goodness, and bottle it, store it to bring home like the sandalwood lotion.  I'm going to need every ounce of the strength she can spare for the battles and logistics of the coming weeks and months as I attempt to corral her sister to get help and to get well, and as I run between the raindrops of her father's blame, shame, guilt and denial.

Namaste, Nutjobs.  Namaste, PreMed.  Namaste, Troubled.

Namaste, Hallmark.  Your stupid holiday is stupid.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May 2014 - Mental Health Awareness Month

Too much?  Ya think?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month which is incredibly good timing because it coincides with me needing to recycle last year's blog post announcing Mental Health Awareness Month.    Dumb luck or what?

So here's an oldie but goodie that I post every year to try and keep it real for everybody and I hope you'll like it but I probably won't notice if you don't because I'm hanging on this emotional rollercoaster ride at the moment by a very thin thread.  Because OH BY THE WAY I'm amending my Petition from Legal Separation to Dissolution which is the D she wants in "She Wants the D" (a friend told me).  But you should totes be aware of mental health and PAY ATTENTION  because it sucks being blamed for being sick.  You just never know what's going on with someone so just don't assume.  Unless you see me wandering around in the supermarket in my bathrobe.  Because then you should assume that you need to take my elbow gently but firmly and lead me back to the car and drive me home.  But I digress. Surprise.

I wrote this post before I even had a blog.  I was inspired by a friend who had just been diagnosed.  She was in a full-blown manic episode.  Watching her go through that reminded me of what my own episodes were like.   I'm calm enough now to articulate what it feels like to be so brilliant that you can't describe it.  Which is pretty goddamn ironic, if you ask me.

The hallmark of mania for me is how I feel like a superhero.  Creative and brilliant and simply on *fire* with wit and humor.    When I was riding the crest of a manic wave,  I used to say that I didn't need to eat or sleep because I was bionic.  I got really angry with people who said I was wrong to feel that way and that I needed to go to the hospital and take meds so that I wouldn't feel that way any more.   I would get so angry that I would snarl at them and claw and hiss and refuse to get out of the car.  Wouldn't you?  After I was finished the treatment that stopped that wonderful, invincible, genius feeling, I would quit taking my meds cold turkey.  I would carouse until all hours of the night, telling anyone who would listen my bright new ideas that tied up every loose end in the universe with one beautiful bow.   Holding court on the floor of my room in college, knocking over the bong with my expansive sweeps of my arms as I pontificated to my housemates, who thought I was brilliant, but knew I was nuts.  Destroying relationships.  Winning hearts and breaking them. Staying in my room for days, talking to myself and scaring my roommates away.  Ending up in the nut house time and again.

Now I can recognize when that superstar quality starts to burn and I know I have to nip it in the bud.  I let the few people close to me know and I go see the shrink and get extra support and all that good stuff.  It is the hardest thing in the world to voluntarily let go of that genius feeling.  I simply cannot tell you.  But I know that I must.  As great as the high feels, the low is going to be a gut-punch that knocks me flat, even though I know it's coming.  So I take my meds and I gather my loved ones around me and I brace myself.

A Beautiful Mind     
The hallmark of a depressive episode for me is not wanting to be here. I don't think about suicide per se.  I don't want to die.  I just want not to be here.  Everything I've done wrong (which is basically everything), every mistake I've made, every conversation gone awry, every wasted opportunity with my kids, my career -- they all gather together in a threatening thundercloud that hovers over me.  The horrible angry voices of what I call "The Committee" begin the litany of exactly how worthless, no, harmful my presence on the planet has been.  As evidence of why I shouldn't be here.  Shouldn't *have been* here.  This whole time.  I just want to curl up as small as possible, until I take up no space.  No one sees me.  I'm not here.

So.  Staying in the middle is a good thing.  Boring and safe.   Learning to feel my feelings, but not too much.  That's a tough one.  Because I feel my feelings.  A lot.  Possibly more than I should, whatever that means.  Apparently there is a normal amount of feeling, though how you could measure it, I don't know.  It certainly doesn't sound very fun to me.

My job is to stay safe.  To have creative energy, but not too much.  And to channel it in ways that make me glad to be here.  And to let it be okay to feel sad, from time to time.  But if "worthless" pops up on the psychic horizon, it's time to blow the whistle.  Time to remember to do the things that help me, in addition to my meds.  Swimming.  Playing music.  Creating this page, working out my thoughts, writing, laughing.  Making people laugh and shake their heads in self-recognition.  And maybe a little relief that they are not alone.

I have a mantra that is blinding in its banality.  It's insultingly simple.  And yet it works for me.  I'm embarrassed to admit it, but my mantra comes from a sitcom (yeah, I watch TV, I have teenagers, don't judge) called "How I Met Your Mother."

"When I'm sad, I stop being sad, and be awesome instead.  True story."

Of course it's not that easy.  But it reminds me that this too shall pass (god I hate that expression, yeah, this too shall pass like a goddamn kidney stone) and I will be awesome again.  Until I'm not.  And so on.  In the meantime, I have a blog.  And a page.   And a lot, I mean, like a metric fuck-ton of friends I've never met.  Who get it.  More than most people I know in real life.  I'll take it.  I mean, what else ya got?

Namaste.  And if you're wondering what that means, suffice to say that we meet in the middle where there's mutual respect and understanding.  We give each other the benefit of the doubt. We forgive ourselves and each other.  We're good to one another.   We don't have a choice. This is it. 

Namaste, you Nutjobs, you.    Happy Mental Health Awareness Month.  


Saturday, March 8, 2014

It's Nature's Way

How do you describe pain?  A sick feeling in the chest that flows out through the abdomen.  A aneurysm, no, an embolism.  A foreign object making its unwanted way through the circulatory system.  There's a reason we focus the description of our painful emotions on the heart.  The ache of unrequited love, the stabbing anger of betrayal, the claw of longing, the rage of jealousy.  That all happens right here.  She points to her breastbone, rubs her fist in a circle around it, massages it with the ball of her hand.  And dissolves for the thousandth time, the ten thousandth time, into the inexorable tears that feel so good in a twisted way.  The cheesy sayings, so trite, so true, wash away my trouble, wash away my pain, it's a wave that rushes up, out of nowhere, blindsided on the daily by it, after fifty years, still new every time.

She buries her face, not in her hands, but more profoundly than that, more like surrender really, into her bent forearms, cradling her head, wrapping herself up tight, the only comfort a solitary person can offer herself.   No one can do this with her.  She is all alone.   She takes brave, deep breaths, and shudders on the exhale, trying to muffle the sadness as it ripples through her.  Her friends sleep across the hall of thin walls.  They are worried about her.  She stays at work so late, then the gym, then the tutoring center to pick up her son.  She goes home finally after everyone's in bed, so she doesn't have to see their kindly questioning concerned faces.

She turns into the cul-de-sac and rolls up to the house.  Through the parted curtains she sees her ex-husband, talking with someone, her daughter probably, in that pedantic way he has, as though he were instructing, not lecturing exactly, but he has an irritating, condescending way of speaking. He knows more than you, so he has to be right.  Has all his answers ready to go, favorite book, favorite movie, or at least his top five, his top ten.  Let's see who can name more Oscar-winners.  Who won Best Actress in what year, for which role?   Now she sees him losing confidence, faltering, maybe even reeling, from the blow her departure has dealt him.  

She had dinner this evening with some friends and there was an endocrinologist there.  Even though she knew it was rude, she couldn't help herself and pumped the woman for information, for validation.  

Q.  Could someone with two bouts of acute pancreatitis in three years continue to drink?   
A.  No.  Telling the patient that it would be okay to drink would be malpractice.  
Q.  And could "the patient" just up and keel over at any moment?  
A.  Possibly.  But he needs to stop drinking immediately or he will definitely die soon.  

Maybe some day she will see him finally capitulate, abandon the stubborn denial, and ask for help.  Or maybe he'll drink himself to death.  It could go either way.  And either way, not her problem.  Not her fault.  Really and finally.

Through the parted curtains she sees her former life, wrenched from her by the people who were supposed to love her best in the world.  A life that she worked so hard at pretending she loved. Decades spent trying to fix what was wrong, to deflect blame, to dodge guilt, and failing at all of it.

The embolism of pain makes her slump over the steering wheel, the wind knocked out of her.  That life is gone, and with a mixture of relief and trepidation she considers the new one that remains to be forged.  She bids her son good night and watches him walk up to front porch and sidle in through a door barely open so as not to let the dogs out.    With a profound sigh, she releases the brake and steers the car out of the cul-de-sac, away from the stabbing anger of betrayal, the claw of longing, into the rest of her life, a vacuum waiting to be filled with the worthwhile things she brings from her past and the terrifying and wonderful things she will craft for herself from the wreckage of the last twenty years.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day - aka Amateur Night

I want to write a Valentine's Day blog.  I want to have something to say about Valentine's Day other than how much it sucks.  Once again, a holiday designed to make you feel like a loser if you don't have all the appropriate gear.  Starting with a lover.

Even when I was married, I didn't like Valentine's Day.  Too much pressure.  Is anyone going to live up to the plans we make for them in our heads?  Wouldn't it be great if x and then perfect if y.  If he could intuit my fantasy and make it happen without a word between us.  Destined to fail.  Unless you date yourself, it's not going to be exactly the way you want it.  And even then, you're kind of hit or miss.

I have the unique perspective of having had pretty much all the different Valentine's Day scenarios there are.  I was the kid in second grade, making valentines for all the kids in the class but forgetting one boy.  They passed out a list and I lost it.  Sorry, Bill.  It didn't have candy in it so big whoop.

Then I was in high school, no boyfriend, scorning all the Valentine's Day shenanigans because superior.  More like smug, actually.  I was probably getting high in the smoking lounge (can you imagine having something like that today?) before heading off to Honors English.  I had range but no boyfriend.  No magic on Valentine's Day or other day.

When I finally did get a boyfriend, Valentine's Day was nothing special, although I vaguely recall an erotic drawing, maybe of me, maybe of the previous girlfriend over whom he was not yet.

I started dating my ex three days after Valentine's Day, so we had a whole year before Valentine's Day reared its ugly, awkward head.  Privately, I though it would be cool if he proposed, but he didn't, so that was yet another disappointment.  After we did get married, he would dutifully bring home flowers and we would go through the motions, but by then I was so disinterested in him that it felt like a chore to muster up the appropriate responses.   I had set impossible hurdles to jump over that we couldn't have afforded even if he had thought of them, weekend trips to the wine country, or his and hers massages and an hour wrapped in towels with cucumber slices over our eyes.

Please let me tell you that all of these perceived deficiencies were mine and mine alone, and before you begin a sermon about being glad for what you have, let me hasten to add that I was grateful to have a partner to perform these rituals with, with whom I had what passed for love.  I even felt it most of the time.

Then there was the Mother-of-the-Year Olympics, with each mother trying to outdo the rest with elaborate valentines for the class that they had clearly made themselves, because calligraphy was not one of the electives offered in kindergarten.

So now I have come full circle, having the first real Valentine's Day without a lover in 30 years.  Once again, being alone on a holiday doesn't bother me as much as the perception that other people have of how sad I must be and how pitiful it is.  So they assuage their consciences by including me in whatever they have going on.  Valentine's Day is the worst for this as you might imagine.  It's a day and more importantly, a night when people worry if you're okay, which you totally are until they ask you (thank you Schroedinger or is it Heisenberg?)  Which is why I'm going to spend Valentine's Day with 135,000 of my closest friends on Facebook, jamming to good music, pulling up our chairs and having a simply lovely time being Nutjobs together for Flirtation Friday, and far more important, pitchers and catchers report to start spring training.

I'm all about priorities.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Worst Thing About Depression

The worst thing about depression is knowing that it will never really go away. Even if it subsides periodically.  Even as much progress as you think you're making.  Even as much progress as you really ARE making. It's always been with you. It always will be with you.  It's like looking down the tube of your life and knowing that you are always going to feel this way. This too shall pass?  I’m sorry, that’s incorrect. This too shan't pass.  It never has and it never will.   Nice try, though.  Good guess. Thanks for playing.  We have some lovely parting gifts.

When it gets really bad, there’s the familiar response.  Wanting to curl up as small as possible. Under my bed.  Under my desk at work.  Tucked away in the furthest recess I can find. Backed up against a wall in the corner.  Please.  You don't see me.   I take up no space because I’M NOT HERE.  I don’t want to die, exactly.  I don’t want to kill myself.  I just want to NOT BE HERE. Marking time till the next thing I dread is over.   So I can just please stop. Stop thinking about everything I fucked up simply because I was there to fuck it up.  My kids, my marriage, my husband’s life.  Ruining everything for everyone.  

All my kids' memories will be bad ones.  They will go to therapy and talk about all the things I did that made them feel horrible about themselves.  All the things they learned from me that are fucked up, measuring other people with the same impossible yardstick I use on myself, hating other people because I hate myself, making fun of them because ultimately I am the most ridiculous thing of all.  

The Gamer:  Mom, why aren’t you coming with us to the party?
Troubled:  Mom won’t go to the party because she hates people.
Me:  Hey, I don’t hate people!  I just prefer them when they’re not around.
PreMed:   Good thing we got Caller ID because this way, at least we know who was calling when Mom didn’t answer it.
Me:  Let them leave a voicemail!  Who talks on the phone, anyway?  

Remind me to tell you about the time a pushy acquaintance that I never liked wanted to see the progress on the remodel we were doing on the house.  How I let the call go to the machine (this was back in the day).  How she left three messages in the space of an hour, are you home, can I come by?   Finally, and I don’t know how people have the balls to do stuff like this, she just showed up, turning her minivan into the cul-de-sac and pulling up to the house.The kids and I were in the great room. They were watching TV and I don’t know what I was doing.   But I saw right away that it wouldn’t be enough for me to go to my room and hide, my first instinct, always. She would see the kids in the window and ask them to get me and then what?

I’m not proud of what happened next.  “Get down, get down, come over here, hide behind the couch with Mommy,  Jennifer’s here but I don’t want her to come in, let’s pretend we’re not here.”    I hid from my friend like Anne Fucking Frank and I made my kids hide with me until she got back in her car and drove away.   We laugh about it now.  But WTAF.  Grist for the therapy mill if ever I saw it. My mother, the narcissistic misanthrope.

Though self-taught from a young age, and even with a natural aptitude,  I can't seem to get this depression gig right.  Depressed people talk about not being able to get out of bed.   As much as I would prefer to crawl back under the covers in the tight little ball that I covet, I simply cannot.  I can't stay in bed because I'm petrified that my complete and utter failure will be revealed.    I can’t stay in bed because there would be yet another example of what’s wrong with me.  I can’t stay in bed because I have to get up and do more, try harder, be better.   I can’t stay in bed because my superego is a harsh mistress and the switch she wields is swift and sharp.  I can’t stay in bed because panic, masquerading as hope, pretending to be courage, compels me, propels me, and I hurtle out of bed, already exhausted before the day has begun.

Even though I understand that the universe finds me flawed at the cellular level, I like to think that I that I hide it really well.   How arrogant is that!  People tell me all the time how clever I am, how witty.  How I express what they are feeling in just the right way. How much I've helped them.  I always joke "that's a tragic and near-fatal case of the blind leading the blind."  I'm thrilled that anyone gets something out of this nonsense.  But I'm also dismayed.  I'm a sham.  How have you people not seen this yet? Your failure to recognize my failure diminishes us both.

It's so much a piece of me that I have never thought to question it. Only in the last few years has it dawned on me that other people don’t live this way.  Other people aren’t just waiting for time to pass until it’s over or wishing they weren’t here or fantasizing about putting a revolver in their mouths or driving off a cliff.   I have started at least a dozen times to tell someone, anyone, that I feel this way and realize just in time, “Hey, Self!  That’s suicide ideation which means 72 hours that you just can’t spare right now! And who knows how many more days, weeks maybe, after that?”   

So, no.  That’s crazy.  Who would do that?  Not this Nutjob right here, my friends.  Uh-uh.  Not me.  No way.  I’ll just keep plugging away, writing this blog, listening to music, cracking wise on my Facebook page, and looking down the tube of my life knowing that even when I’m feeling good, better than good, magnificent even, I’m always going to have this thing, this depression, this horrible self-loathing that has grown, in the cruelest of ironies, into the most profound friendship I could ever hope to have.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Backstory: A Blog Post in One Sentence

You know how you're staying in your house with The Gamer for the week while your ex travels on business and the house is so filthy and destroyed that you can't even breathe from the panic and you can't figure out whether you should clean up or leave it be since it's not your mess but you're literally nauseated as you to look around and you don't even want to put your food in the refrigerator and the dumbass has the sprinklers set even though he let the dogs tear up the back yard so all there is is mud and of course the dogs track it in and out and that explains why the floors are so horrible but as you wash them you can see that they're going to have to be redone because who the hell puts hardwood in the kitchen but you did because you knew you would wash them and buff them with Murphys only you haven't lived there for a year and so of course they are being destroyed and there is chaos everywhere so you run around taking pictures of everything document document document and you text your friend (in another state) and ask for help and he tells you to pack your ex's stuff and kick him out and you know you should but you're a sad, scared helpless Nutjob who isn't as strong as everyone tells you you are and you just sit down and cry and yell and curse at the dog who is not really the problem but one of many symbols of the problem because your daughter snuck (sneaked?) her into the house and wouldn't train her or get her shots or anything you need to do to care for a dog what the fuck is the matter with her but it's your fault somehow that she never got what you need to do to be a human on this earth and that's just another in a laundry list of things you hate your ex for because couples are supposed to be parents together and not let one (you) be the bad guy without supporting but in fact undermining what you are trying to do which is teach discipline which doesn't have to be harsh if it's done with love but since you never get your way it ends up feeling harsh and you feel like all you do is yell and he encourages them to understand that it's because there's something wrong with you that you're always yelling even though you go around to your friends' houses and they all seem peaceful and clean as though there is some order in place that everyone lives by but when you go home and ask for things to be like that all you get are eyerolls and mocking and passive-aggressive bullshit from your ex who is "fiftyteen" as another one of your friends (of course in another state) said which is absolutely brilliant and your friends are all very supportive but unfortunately most of them are far away and it's very difficult and scary to be alone trying to handle this even though everyone tells you "you're stronger than you know" and "you got this" that just adds to the feeling you've always had which is what other people want is more important than what you want so you let it all be okay until it just isn't okay any more so you finally move out and then everyone blames you for either not dealing with the problems sooner or not dealing with them at all but running away from them instead and there's no way to explain to them that you are trying to let your ex reach bottom because he's what they call a "functioning alcoholic" which is the worst kind because "what's the problem I go to work every day and make a lot of money doing important things so why shouldn't I have a drink or two" (or four or five and let's not forget how many nights he throws back an Ambien or two with them) so part of the plan is to let the house get completely destroyed so that at some point you can go to him and say "you have to go because you aren't handling it" but then you have to go in and fix and clean it because you want to show your son what normal looks like and it's not this believe me so you've completely fucked up the plan because he'll come home from the trip and say "thanks babe" (because he still calls you "babe" which is just fucking nauseating if you'll excuse the language) "place looks great" and now you have to start over and your friend says "throw him out" but how the fuck do you do that when you're a scared Nutjob who has never trusted yourself because everyone always told you you overreact to things and oh by the way you have a neurochemical imbalance which clouds your judgment and even though you take your meds you're still always suspect so you've found this great outlet which is to write these elaborate run-on sentences which is a literary device that you constantly have to tell people because maybe they don't get that you really do know how to write but anyway there's a sentence that's a blog post and you hope that some of it resonated with someone?

Yeah, me neither.  That's crazy.  Who would do that?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My First Separated Christmas

I don't have anything funny to say about this pain in my chest.  I will say that clenching my abs when I feel this pain begin sometimes helps.  I will say that Assistant has taught me to lean forward when the tears well, that the damage to my makeup and overall facial composition will be less severe if they run down my cheeks than back across my temples to my ears as they do when I lean back.

Fuck Christmas in the neck with a cookie cutter.  I'm homesick.  I'm exhausted.  I'm longing for the normal that never was.  I'm forgetting why I left.  I'm angry.  I'm resentful.  It's Troubled's fault I can't go home.  It's Juvie's fault I can't go home.  It's Mr. K.'s fault I can't go home.  I'm waiting for him to fuck up and stay a drunk and go to the hospital for the third time and maybe finally admit that he needs help but it will be too late because he's already lost me.  Anyway, he's taking too damn long to implode, and, in the meantime, I'm missing Christmas.

I want to make cookies.  I want to see unpack my Christmas things.  I want to argue about whether it's the year for the small tree in the bay window that I like or the large tree taking up the whole damn room, even up against the wall, that Mr. K. likes.  We alternate years because I'm accommodating like that.  I know lots of couples where the wife gets her way about everything, mostly because she cares about getting everything just so, and the husband cares more about keeping peace and being left alone. But in my family, I want things a certain way, but I don't feel strong enough to fight for them.  Mr. K. wants the opposite almost on purpose.  You can tell it wasn't something he felt strongly about until he saw that it would be a fight.  That he would always win.

I want to make Christmas.  Except I don't really.  In fact, a small part of me is rather relieved that I don't have to make Christmas this year.  Because either Christmas makes me hypomanic or my hypomania makes Christmas, but either way, it's a huge effort.  One that I used to make, and gladly.  But this year, because I don't get to, I don't want to, and I'm glad I don't, because I don't have that manic energy this year.  I only have sadness, regret, longing, nostalgia, anger, and malaise in equal measure, in quick succession or all at once, I can't really tell.

I will stop by the house to bring the kids their presents, having agonized whether Troubled will be there, whether I should give her a present, whether she will give me one (last year she gave me two left suede pumps from Walmart, I am not even kidding right now), whether she will once again make herself the center of attention in that we will all nervously anticipate whether she will come and how she might act, whether she will be high, whether she will bring Juvie, whether he will enter the house, whether I will freak out about it when he does because you just know he will.  The friends I see once a year will be there, and they will pull me aside and we will go into the bedroom where I will recount an abbreviated and watered-down version of the Nightmare Year, with the fact that we haven't discussed it until now hanging between us in a cloud of clumsy embarrassment.  And the thing that will save me, the thing I will remember, the thing everyone will remember, is that I will have swept my adolescent son away to the movies, to the horror or amusement or envy of the gathering, for a joyous, irreverent viewing of Anchorman 2.  

Well, that escalated quikly

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Anonymous Winter Holiday Blog of Familial Hostility, Part Two

Photo courtesy of The Crumb Diaries
A week has passed since the November Classic and by now even the turkey tetrazzini (which let's face it, was just a way for mom to sneak some broccoli onto your plate) is gone, but we still have feelings we need to share with our so-called loved ones. I have recovered from the snark-fest that was TATBOFH, Part One, and now present the second wave of messages. This time around I have indulged in more of my own commentary and I hope you all enjoy it. I have many more messages to wade through. I think it's safe to say we will have at least one more installment. I have changed the title to "The Anonymous *Winter Holiday* Blog of Familial Hostility" to spread the misery around and make it last all the way through to New Year's and beyond. If you guys can keep me supplied, we could probably have one of these a month for the foreseeable future.

Without further ado. Ahem. Oh, shit. I forgot to tell you there are swears. Lots of them. All y'all throw them around a fair bit, I can't lie.

I'd like to say to my beautiful mother that I need her far more than anyone down there at that bar.
(Heartbreaking from the git-go.  I don’t fuck around.  Time’s a-wastin’.)

To my family:  You all are the reason for my therapy and medication.  Please see the following bills and talk among yourselves as to who is reimbursing what. Cash preferred. Check okay. No credit cards. Payment in full must be made in some way by 3:00 p.m. as I don't know how many more of these "happy events" my liver can handle.
(I wish I had thought of this before all the parents died.  Except I’m much better now because they did.  Call it a push.)

To my aunt: You don't have to make Grandma's stuffing for me. I never liked it. 
(Just playin’ a player, Grandma.)

I would tell my monster-in-law, that she's a fucking lazy manipulative cunt and I hope she chokes on her extra-dry disgusting turkey. Oh, and please pass the yams.  
(Speaking of “extra-dry,” I believe I was offered a martini at some point in the proceedings.)

I am thankful I didn't kill anyone this year.  There were times I wanted to watch the life drain from the eyes of a couple of people as I choked the living shit out of them.
(Don’t sugarcoat it.  Tell us how you really feel.)

Everyone please understand I have more family to visit since I'm married.  Both damn sides of the family have Thanksgiving, you know.
(And both damn sides want to ruin it for you.)

Twenty years of busting my ass cooking and no one ever showed up to help until the rolls were coming out of the oven. Once I suggested a potluck and was ignored.  Then how about chipping in twenty dollars?   I spend twenty hours every year making this goddamned dinner.
(Numerologists will appreciate the symbolism of The Twenty.)

To my misogynistic, uber-religious/hypocrite of a FIL who never shuts up:  You are no better than anyone else here, You are not a leader.  Leaders don’t beg for handouts to buy dope & video games, so STFU.
(Although “Follow the Leader” is a game that could be played by dopes).

To my self-absorbed MIL and creepy FIL:    Way to go on missing your son/my husband’s birthday.  He's only been your son for 42 years, so I can understand that.
(Your forbearance is inspiring.  I would have egged their house.  Their own son’s birthday?  Sixteen Candles, anyone? Come on.)

My message: Thanks a lot to the sneaky, back-stabbing assholes at work!
(The original term used was “a-holes” but as I say, I don’t fuck around.)

Guys, I'm bi-sexual.  No, I'm not confused. Girls are hot and so are dudes.  I'll be in my car eating some pie.
(There was more ranting between the third and fourth sentences, but I made an executive decision.)

I am grateful that I don't have to see my family full of lying, hypocritical, abusive bloodsuckers that only care about making everyone miserable.  It's just me, my son and hubby, thank God.  I feel better now, thanks.
(Good.  Really.  That’s what this is for.   No sarcastic.)

My family raised me to believe in equality regardless of race, creed, or color, and taught me to think for myself.  Then they sent me to a Creationist school.  WTF, you guys
(Madness, I tell you.  No sarcastic again.)

I know you've all decided you're just not going to support me emotionally until I decide to do what you want me to do. Well, I'm not going to do that. I'll live my own damn life without your help, and I'll be a hell of a lot happier.
(My name is Klonnie Chronicles and I approved this message.)

I'm thankful that all of you people have someone like me around to remind you to do your homework, chores, and meaningful things that don’t involve electronics. And I'm thankful for the patience I have that keeps me from hopping on the next plane to Fiji.
(Fiji is nice this time of year.  Just saying.)

To my SIL:   You get up and wash dishes the moment someone stops shoveling food in their face.  We can't just sit around and visit.   We let the guys sit and nap and relax while all the women play domestic slave.  This is why I pour everyone coffee with cream and I get Bailey’s with Kahlua in my cup.
(<rattles ice in empty glass>)

I'm still not married and I'm still not interested in having kids.  Also, if I finally win the lottery (fingers crossed hard), I'll be leaving all of you behind and starting over somewhere else in order to gather people around me who care about each other.
(If you win the lottery, please PM the page.  I will help you gather said people.)

I'm thankful MIL had a stroke and forgot my name, instead of just pretending I don't exist after 18 years being married to her only son. Too harsh?

(That’s money.)

Dear MIL,  Remember when you told me that it's horrible that I’m adopted?   What I didn't say to you in response is that you and your sister are both illegitimate so you are both bastards as well.   Have fun at church.
(Yup.  They’re saving your seats in the bastard section.)

To my clinging, needy, and manipulative sister. Since you are the vortex of dissatisfaction and woe, I am unable to attend. I'm spending Thanksgiving with my neighbors and their kids.
(“The vortex of dissatisfaction and woe” -- I am stealing this brilliant verbiage and I thank you for it.)

I would like to tell my estranged husband's family just what a douchenozzle he is for cheating on me with a married woman for three fucking years. I will be with our boys and he won't so I guess there is some justice in this whole hot mess.
(And you got to use “douchenozzle” in a sentence -- almost worth it.)

Mom, how can you be such a hateful bitch?  How can you ask if your sister has a heart after my boys told you that she had a heart attack?
(I couldn’t think of anything funny to say here.  Reprehensible is a word.)

Grandma, stop judging and criticizing everyone. Until you can lead the way in perfection, keep that shit to yourself. No one needs you peppering our failures over the meal.
(I see what you did there.)

Aunt _______ and Uncle _________,  Everyone hates it when you two drink. Not because we have anything against booze, we just hate you two lightweight, crybaby fucks when you drink.
(And no one likes a drunken crybaby fuck. Don't ask me how I know this.)

Here's a little tip -- if you're not asked to come, you're probably not wanted so save everyone the uncomfortableness and go play hopscotch on the 101. Ugh!  Damn mooches.
(Ouch.  Hit me up if you haven’t scored a gig by Halloween.)

I want to say to  <person>:   I think it's fucked up that you remain in a marriage with the man who stuck his dick in your daughter's mouth. Then I want to pick up the turkey leg and offer it to her.
(Jesus.  Nothing funny to say here.)

To my cousin who won't shut up:  Bitch, just stuff your face! Quit trying to fucking talk and eat. I don't want to see the goddamn food in your mouth as you chew. And don't get me started on your Momma.
(Seriously.  She didn't teach you to chew with your mouth closed.)

What I would love to say is that I am thankful for finding the love of my life.  What I’m not so thankful for is the army of skanks who are bothering us because he doesn't want to be with his baby mama any more. 
(I am going to have some fun with Skank Army.  Thank you for that.  You guys are a humor writer’s dream.)

There are six people at dinner. One of them is only 5 years old. Yet you felt the need to buy a pie for each person?
(But that is an outstanding PPR - Pie to Person Ratio.  Anything close to 1.0 is phenomenal, really.)

As I sit around the Thanksgiving table, comfortable in my acceptance of my bipolar diagnosis, I watch all of you and wonder how many of you are undiagnosed.  I recognize that something was going on inside of my head.  All of you are in such deep denial that I know I am the mentally healthiest person at the table.  And I am fucking nuts.
(We are the chosen people unless we’re not.)

My new DIL is using her new pregnancy to be a bitch. Excuse me, but the guy you married, my son, was 10 months (ed note:  i.e., one month overdue to be born) and I didn't bitch once. Fuck off until you give birth.
(And even then we don’t really want to hear from you.  Just post a few pix on FB.)

To my SIL:  Fuck off. I have the emails you sent so I wasn't the one lying. Get over yourself.  You aren't that important. Really.
(Building my case one email at a time.  And now we wait.)

Thanksgiving dinner at IHOP is sounding better by the minute and my guess is I'll be in good company full of "fuck off, family member" stories.
(Do they still have Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity? My guess is it beats extra-dry turkey all to hell.)

I am thankful for the increased dosage of my Klonopin that I specifically requested just to get through the holidays. And fuck you very much on all your unsolicited, ignorant advice on how to raise my autistic four-year-old.  Please shove all those gluten-containing foods that you keep trying to sneak to my son when he has diagnosed celiac disease.
(Again, I got nothing.  No way I can joke about autism or celiac disease.)

Fuck turkey. Fuck the idea that we're a loving family. Fuck the chit chat. Break out the booze and let’s bond. Let's play the "I'm Thankful" drinking game and take shots anytime "thankful" is mentioned.  We're not a damn storybook family. We're a goddamned trainwreck.
(To the moon and back is how much I love this.  Also, please send more detailed instructions for that Thanksgiving drinking game.)

What I really want to say at Thanksgiving: put the fucking phone away for the 25 minutes it will take to eat dinner. You're not a fucking brain surgeon. It. Can. Wait.
(You know, even brain surgery can wait if there is a turkey dinner in front of the surgical staff.  Also, 25 minutes is unrealistically long.)

This year I'm thankful that I'm learning to look ahead and not back, letting go of 22 years of memories with a man who turned out to be shallow and selfish and nasty. And that I found out what The Cunt who pretended to be my friend was up to, so now I can try to keep her grasping claws off my children.
(See, other people have nicknames for the people in their family narratives.  It’s not just me.)

Hoping that my mother and/or sister won't once again call me and tell me they have "the runs" and can't show up.
(Better than having “the runs” and showing up anyway, don’t you think?)

No, Mother, you may not call my child a son of a bitch.
(Because what does that make you, Gramma?)

We are all here because of a fucking tragedy occurred last week, we're not here to celebrate. Can we just fucking get along for today while remembering who brought us here in the first place?
(Nothing funny about this one either.)

Hey you, you know who I'm talking to.  "Fuck off you abusive bitch!"  (that’s to my sister)
(As long as you’re sure she knows it’s her, I’m good.)

I'm grateful that I have now met the love of my life.  (The reason I cannot say it is that my first husband died. I loved him on some level, but I didn't love him like I love my man now. It's a sad truth I will never reveal publicly, out of respect for him and his family).   Whew! Got that off my chest!
(I deleted each message as I moved it over to the blog.  No worries.  I gotchu.)

Mom, just go smoke a blunt that I know you keep in your bathroom, and chill the fuck out.
(Yes, please, spark one with us because munchies.)

I'm thankful for the really good piece if ass I have in my life right now.
(Watch out for that Skank Army mentioned above.)

I would prefer to stay home, watch football, and eat chocolates than to watch my parents bicker back and forth. No matter where they go, the pattern is repeated. It's enough to drive a teetotaler to hard liquor.
(I’d like a large glass of alcohol, please.)

I am so sick of your bland cooking and dried out turkey. Why can't we have some flavor and real food. P.S.  Dad please shut up. I love you but I heard all your lame jokes already.
(If at first you don’t succeed . . . .)

Thankful that Thanksgiving will be drama-free because only one parent will be there. No hating each other.
(I’m down for no hating each other. A girl can dream.)

I'd like to randomly scream out, "You people seriously need to eat again today? Every fucking day?"
(But we have so many feelings we have to feed.)

Thanks for inviting me to Thanksgiving dinner this year and expecting me to cook.
(It’s the only reason you’re invited.)

I am glad that i don’t have to share in the dysfunctional dinner with my family,  I get to go watch someone else’s family meltdown.
(Shall we serve the popcorn before or after the main course?)

No, I think it's fucking fantastic that you invite my ex-boyfriend to our holiday dinners. Thrilled that every beverage available is nonalcoholic because so many of you are recovering from alcohol dependency. Why am I covered in hives? These are happy hives.

To my mom:  I am in a same sex relationship with a girl in the Air Force.  You expect me to make it all the way to her folks’ for dinner (three hours’ drive) and then another three hours all the way to Grandma’s and then ask me to drive to Dad’s so I have to leave early from her family to be late to your Mom and then late to Dad’s.   
(Over the river and through the woods.   Dysfunction abounds.)

If you only knew what I did to that piece of turkey.
(Very thankful I had salmon this year in case this message was from someone I had Thanksgiving dinner with.)

<End Part Deux>