Bullies Getting Free Rent

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I’ve been giving away free rent. Seriously. While it’s metaphorical rent, it’s still space at no charge – space in my head. I’m referring to a couple of bullies.

One I won’t talk about because I just want to continue the progress I’ve made – My Dad.

The other? Another family member that has been slandering me and is just generally hurtful which leads to the cycle of me asking, “What does this person have against me? Why am I not good enough?

“Why wouldn’t they want a thoughtful, compassionate person in their family?” I really would do just about anything to those that I love and earn my loyalty; so, why does this person continue to piss on it?

By asking these questions and pondering and pondering and pondering relentlessly, I’m giving that bully power and head space when really they deserve nothing from me.

It started with questions about why a family member was in therapy and progressed to “he didn’t need therapy until he met you”. There’s this stigma, and there’s nothing I can say or do to justify the benefits of therapy for EVERYONE (especially for someone going after me). But, I give this bully power by allowing his words and actions to circle around and around in my head essentially grinding my own self-esteem into the dirt which hurts my marriage and my own well-being.

And, by writing about it here… I’m doing my best to draw a line beneath it and be done with it while serving a greater good – sharing my experience with you. Maybe, you have a bully taking away your power and grinding down your self-esteem? Maybe, you’re my age or younger or older.

We can rationalize why they do the things they do to us. Ultimately, it’s because they feel powerless and are trying to steal ours. Maybe, they learned it from a parent or not. Either way, when we’re in it with them while they’re going after us, we’re not rationalizing. All we think is, “Why? What did I do to deserve this?”

Nothing. You did nothing to deserve that type of behavior.

So, to the other bully in my family (not my husband), and we’re family whether you like it or not, if you try to take away what isn’t there to give because of your delusional thinking and don’t apologize… there will be consequences. You know who you are… and you’re damaging the very relationship that you said you’d defend no matter what. Well, guess what? That’s in my job description as well, and I have already gone even further.

So, let’s draw the line beneath it and be done with this behavior. Let’s set an example that’s worth following and find forgiveness in it all.

 

An Open Letter to Classroom Teachers

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Dear Teachers,

Congrats on choosing the most important job in the world – the shaping of young minds. One such young mind, myself, is pictured here in my first selfie in 1984. It was totally accidental on one of those old 35mm cartridge cameras. I love the red tongue from the sugar-free popsicle I was eating.

But, this pic says everything about me that I’d like to share with you except for two things:
1. My father had little control of his temper and would abuse (sans-hitting) me and my mother.
2. I had undiagnosed ADHD because it manifests differently in girls – something not widely known back then.

I was a sweet kid and often one of the favorites because I genuinely wanted to learn and would help my classmates without hesitation. My standardized test scores would usually score somewhere in the top 10% and were sometimes the highest in my grade.

The thing is… I sucked at being in a classroom. No. I wasn’t disruptive. No. I didn’t pester fellow students. What would I do? My brain would get hijacked by ADHD and would, what I like to call, roll. Basically, it looked like I was daydreaming, and, in a way, I was but I had no control over it. It was something I couldn’t stop.

I couldn’t focus if my life depended on it, and it did. My dad would lose it over my grades and out would come the insults and the yelling and screaming and the throwing of stuff which was terrifying.

I was 9 y/0 the first time I dissociated during one of his tantrums. I call/called it the mini-blind effect. Some light would get through but not all. Translation: some messages would get through so I could nod at the appropriate time, but I was almost fully checked out. Thank you, Amygdala.

As a result, my Sympathetic and Parasympathic systems were constantly in flux and in recovery. I don’t think I got a break from the fear-adrenalized feeling that I had every day until I was 19 y/o.

But, I’m not telling you all of this for sympathy. I’m sharing this so that what I am about to say will make sense.

It goes without saying that you have the hardest job in the world. Really. You really do. You’re partly responsible for all of these young minds and what they learn. So, when a kid isn’t “pulling their weight”, I can imagine your frustration. You’re trying to HELP THEM, and they WON’T HELP THEMSELVES. That has got to be the ultimate “must-take-deep-breaths-and-stay-calm” issue.

This kid isn’t doing their work, but do they ever seem “checked out”? Do they ever seem overly nice? Do they ever overreact when corrected? Does their self-esteem seem off? Do THEY SEEM OFF?

Between the abuse and ADHD, school was HELL for me unless I had a great teacher, and I had far more of those than bad ones, but I remember those bad teachers to this day and still have some resentment toward them. The last bad teacher I ever had killed the desire for me to ever be a teacher. So, if I had a year (third grade, 1/2 of 5th grade, and a couple of HS teachers) where my teacher was awful AND had my father to fear at home… well, you get the picture. ::ADHD dancing with glee around in my head::

I know that you love your job. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t do it. I love that you love your job! I love that you chose a career of service. I hope that you chose it because you want to make a difference. If you did choose it to make a difference, I’m sure you’re achieving that goal!

Here’s one way to go the extra mile and be the great teacher. Look for any of the signs I mentioned above and think about any of your kids and whether it’s really daydreaming or if maybe they’ve checked out because their brains are just tired from all the garbage that their little minds aren’t meant to deal with EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I wish you all the best of luck and give thanks every day that you are a teacher!

Most Sincerely,
That Kid That’s Smart But Isn’t Applying Themself

 

Depression, Depression, Go Away, and Never Return Any Day

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I’ve talked about PTSD here… MANY TIMES. One thing that I haven’t really discussed is the anxiety driven depression. Couple that with hypervigilance, whoo wee…. what a heady brew that keeps me from wanting to join the world!

Recently, we had some financial issues come up that genuinely TERRIFIED me. We’re talking uncontrollable shaking, thought streams that I couldn’t redirect, etc….

Normally, I’d be able to use my metaphorical tool box of mental health tools to calm my mind. This time was different. This time, my amygdala was fully enganged in panic mode.

If this had happened about 10 years ago, I’d have been stuck for months. However, this time, I knew what to do.

I picked up the phone and made the calls to my psychologist and then my psychiatrist.

Some of the thoughts I was having? Suicidal ones. Uh, oh.

Anxiety and hypervigilance were leading me down a dangerous path, and NO ONE that isn’t engaging in attention-seeking behavior likes to admit that they’re having “those thoughts”.

Well, I fought the shame as I sat in my psychiatrist’s office and told her the truth. Wanna know what she said? If you’re reading this, I’m going to guess that you do.

“I’m really proud of you for telling me. Now, we can do something about it.”

You see… for years (since 2004 to be exact) I’ve fought tooth and nail to get stable; and even when you are stable, others will doubt that you are stable and always will.

Now, was I going to have to start over?!?!

No! Not at all. Being able to admit that I needed help signifies that I’m mindful of my moods and will take charge and still make rational decisions.

So, I’m back on a super low-dose of Abilify and a low dose of Clonazepam, and I feel like my mind woke up.

>>I’m no longer hiding from the world. I’m no longer unhappy all of the time.<<

I’m no longer hiding out because the shame is convincing me that I’m worthless. My illness feeds the shame.

Ultimately, my psychiatrist will take me off the meds again at a later date,but I’ll never be ashamed to ask for help. It show’s strength! It show’s mindfulness. It shows that I am more than my mental illness.

IF SHAME IS LYING TO YOU AND YOU’RE STRUGGLING… THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT CAN HELP, AND I’M HERE FOR YOU, TOO.

ANYONE CAN BE STRONG. BE RESILIENT INSTEAD!

I Can’t Save You if You Won’t Help

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We all know someone that could use some help, but what do we do for someone that always needs help but isn’t willing to change their situation? I’m talking about someone that seems to be in a perpetual sense of crisis, always needs to be bailed out, but isn’t willing to do the work to get out of the situation that leaves them in crisis.

For me, it’s a family member. I talked about her in a previous post where I addressed Borderline in the Family. By no means am I unsympathetic. I really do feel for her and how hard it has to be existing in such a dire situation. However, I also don’t want to contribute to the cycle.

For example, she contacted me about a new medication regimen that wasn’t going well, and I certainly sympathized with her plight. I’ve been there and know how hard it can be to get the help you really need when no one believes you. The difference between her plight and mine was that she was using it to manipulate me into giving her money for drugs and/or alcohol, and that wasn’t the first time she’s tried that.

Anyone that’s ever had a loved one with an addiction knows that the last thing you want to do is to contribute to their addiction by giving them money. Why? Because addiction drives them to feed it, and if there’s money available to feed it, it will get fed.

While I wish there was a way that I could help, I know that when conflict arises with either her treatment such as confronting issues that she doesn’t want to address or challenges delusions she holds about herself… she’ll either quit or make herself a victim. It’s her go-to modus operandi and very much in the vein of untreated Borderline Personality Disorder. So, how do I help a no-end situation without making it worse?

There’s nothing that can be done unless she stops abusing substances and helps herself. I know that if she reads this, she may vilify me. Borderline Personality Disorder leads to distinctly polar classifications of people. Someone is either all good or all bad when in reality there are very few people that can be categorized as such. Throw in addiction and the gulf widens. Really, actions are what can be classified not necessarily the people that do those actions.

Part of me is putting this out there for me, and part of me is putting this out there for everyone else going through the same thing including my other family members that are hanging their heads wondering what can be done.

In the end, we can push, pull, cry, shout, and metaphorically shake the person we want to help, but unless they want to change, there’s nothing we can do. It isn’t giving up. It’s just understanding that there are limitations and necessary boundaries to what can be done if anything at all. How can we help anyone if we don’t protect our own psyches?

 

 

I’m late! I’m late… for a very important…

… GRIEF?

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I’m late for grief? So, do I grieve wrong – or some other such nonsense?

Yes. And, No.

Really what this is all about is this long crying jag I had in the car today on my way home from the doctor’s office. Ah, the doctor’s office – home of all stressors!

I had surgery on my left Achilles tendon and heel in mid January. This was no small or minor surgery. It involved an Osteotomy (a removal of part of my heel bone), a graft onto my Achilles, and the whole thing reattached to my heel. Basically, my surgeon created better anatomy.

Anyway, even though I’m progressing along at a faster rate of healing than expected, there are days when I swear it would hurt less to stab myself. The amount of swelling against the healed scar makes for a nerve stew that feels like the scar is on fire. Yes, ON F**KING FIRE. Really. FIRE!

Nothing came of my appointment today that I would consider useful. In fact, there were a few very blatant HIPPA violations. Pain + Privacy Issues… well, you can see where this is going to end up. After having my identity stolen TWICE, I’ve got some very strong opinions on privacy and the protection thereof.

So, as I was hobbling the 1/4 mile to my car with the assistance/hindrance of crutches, my mind and body were wearing down. I just stared at the floor only to occasionally look up so I wouldn’t collide with anyone or anything. Normally, my head is up and attention on everything around me… only this time I had something I wanted to hide.

I didn’t want anyone to see the tears in my eyes.

I wasn’t crying because of the physical pain as horrible as it was. I wasn’t crying because I was frustrated with the situation. I was crying because of something that happened on Thursday March 24th.

You see… our pack lost a member. We had to let Thora go. Cancer. While she had lived a very, very long and very, very, very happy life, she was the Heart of the Pack. Everyone thinks their dog is special. However, not all dogs can be the most special.

What set Thora apart was her ability to figure out what anyone, whether it be a known friend or stranger, needed emotionally. She knew when someone was hurting and would seek them out. She knew when someone was lonely and would flop her head on their knee. She just knew. And, this isn’t some romantic twaddle after the fact. It’s the truth.

In fact, she hated all of her prospective adoptive parents. Seriously. She was scheduled to be put down when we got a call out of the blue (still don’t know how they got our number) telling us that if we didn’t come – no one would. We knew she had temperament issues, but we figured we’d see when we got there.

The animal control officer brought her out, she looked straight at us, and she tugged as hard as she could to get to us all the while her tail was wagging faster than a hummingbird’s wings trying to get away from a hawk. It was bizarre and wonderful.

She’d been waiting for us.

We went though so much together. SO MUCH. I lost and gained my mind. We lost so many wanted pregnancies. Jeffrey, our beloved basset and her BFF, passed away which led us to get Lucian, our GSD, because Thora stopped eating. That scared the s**t out of us. We bought our first home. We had our first experience with owning a LEMON and dumped it ASAP for a better vehicle. And, we lost so many people that we love. I say LOVE and not LOVED on purpose.

So, three weeks ago, I took Thora to see a specialist, Dr. Todd McCoy – a canine dentist, about a growth in her jaw. Deep down, I knew it was cancer. I think Jason did, too. We just wanted to be 100%. Dr. McCoy was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I think it was harder for him to deliver the news than it was for me to hear it. He teared up at the end of our visit as he was saying goodbye to Thora, and he’d only met her once. He looked at me and said, “She really is as special as Dr. Kuecker said she is,” and he smiled through his tears.

“Yes. Yes, she really is. I think they sent me to you because they couldn’t bear to tell me.”

The following Thursday came, and Thora’s favorite vet tech was there – Candace. We love Candace, and Candace LOOOOOOVES Thora. Candace was there to help us, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. How do you thank someone that loves your dog as as much as you do that is going to help your dog die? My Granny, many years ago – I think I was 14 – said that the kindest thing you can do for your dog is to help them die if their natural death would be a slow and painful decline. I shared that with Candace, and I could tell that it meant a lot to her that we really were so grateful to her for her compassion.

(sidenote: I’m crying as I write this.)

Thora got her first shot which was an anesthetic which made her fall asleep and feel no pain when the second shot would stop her heart. We sat there for 10 minutes after the first shot as she fell asleep. Thora was struggling to stay awake, and I could tell she wanted something. So, I sat down in front of her, she put her head in my lap, and she looked up at me as if to say, “Hey, don’t be sad Mom. I’m here.” Then, she fell asleep for the last time.

We left before the second shot. Candace was with her, and death isn’t pretty. Thora wasn’t aware, and we knew that she would cross the rainbow bridge with the help from her friend, Candace.

I cried but not that much. I thought that maybe I’d been granted a reprieve from the kind of grief I’ve felt in the past because I’m now a practicing Buddhist. However, there was a part of me that knew I was intellectualizing. I even said it out loud.

There was plenty of sadness and tears between then and today just not as much I thought here would be for someone whom had been such a huge and important part of my life. There were plenty of passing thoughts of… “Delayed Grief, again?” But, I brushed it aside knowing that if it was Delayed Grief, it would come, and it would be by some weird trigger.

So, what is Delayed Grief? It’s the GMO of emotions. Just kidding. Well, sort of. Delayed Grief in individuals that would be considered normal or gifted in development is when the mind shunts grief aside to deal with at a later date. That’s the most simplistic explanation I can think of. It usually develops as by-product of the coping tools that children of abuse develop in order to survive the abuse. Most fellow survivors I’ve spoken with have shared with me how they felt emotionally stunted at times because showing emotion draws attention. We learned not to show emotion in front of our abuser in order to try to avoid abuse.

Eventually, you no longer become aware that you’re shoving emotions aside. Your mind does it for you.

So, here I’ve been over the past week going about my business. My foot started hurting. REALLY, REALLY HURTING. ON FIRE AND SWOLLEN HURTING. My doctor’s PA heard maybe 2/3 of what I was saying to her. I could tell because she’d repeat the exact opposite of what I told her just a few minutes later. Some person I didn’t even know was eavesdropping in on my private appointment. I was tired. I had to hike 1/4 mile to my car. My mind finally hit the barrier that I so badly needed to hit and break. I needed to grieve. I STILL NEED TO GRIEVE EVEN MORE.

And, so… I might be late, but there is no right or wrong when it comes to grief. I miss her. I miss her so much, and now that I’m REALLY feeling it – I can understand better what my husband has been feeling. Not that I didn’t understand before… I did. But, I can feel it alongside him, now.

And, I can also feel what Lucian must be feeling, too. He lost his BFF. We’re not ready for another dog. He’s going to get lots of play dates with his friends, but I know he’s sad because he just isn’t himself.

We all love her. Anyone that she trusted had her trust for life. She was so kind and so smart. She was our “Once In A Lifetime Dog”.

Borderline Personalities in the Family

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In 2005, I was diagnosed as Bipolar Mixed – Rapid Cycling, and it sure looked like that was the right diagnosis. Mania and Hypomania are exclusive to Bipolar Disorder, and I was all over the map with Mania in September of 2005. What wasn’t known at the time was that my brain chemistry was and still is more sensitive to psychotropics than the vast majority of the population, and I was loaded up on a big, bad SNRI, Effexor XR, which works great for a lot of people but didn’t for me. I was suffering from antidepressant induced mania which is more common in children, teenagers, and adults under 25. It took years before my diagnosis was amended to PTSD, and I was later diagnosed with ADHD. But there was a moment when Borderline Personality Disorder was thrown out there by a family member, and it wasn’t a bad theory at all. Having been psychologically abused as a child by my father and watching him do the same to my mother left me with quite a few emotional issues that couldn’t be brushed off as quirks. His needs came first, and his f**k the world attitude if anyone felt differently really messed me up when it came to my own needs and self-confidence as an adult.
A couple of years ago, he attempted to gas-light me in a very overt manner regarding events in my childhood. However, he seemed to have forgotten something he took great pride in telling others about me when I was a child. I have an eidetic memory that works very well when I’m not having an ADHD moment, hour, day, week, etc… I like to think of it as an engine with an electrical short or a tempestuous starter. Anyway, while I wanted to try and make our relationship healthier and get past our past, he wanted none of that being that he had created a new persona… one where his ex had left him because of money and not because he treated us like support staff.
I realized after he stormed out those couple of years ago that he’s a caustic narcissist, and even more recently when analyzing why another family member is so manipulative, I realized that his true diagnosis is Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Those two coupled together mean that he’ll never accept that he’s sick and needs help, and he’ll continue to be unhappy and destroy every relationship in his desperation to prove everyone wrong and black and white thinking. It also means that he’ll think that I’m out to get him out of malice or jealousy or mental illness. I can say for sure that two of his siblings are BPD as well – one of which being a grand standing narcissist. My cousin and I traded notes on that one.
So, I began to wonder, “Am I really Borderline? and do I need to address this in therapy?” There is more than one type of Borderline just as there is more than one type of Bipolar. So, when I saw my therapist today, I asked him. He informed me that while I had exhibited some of traits, polar thinking, oversharing, stress-related paranoia, and mood-swings, I didn’t exhibit fear of abandonment or clear consistency of the other symptoms. It was obvious that I’d been raised to think and behave in that manner and that I wasn’t truly paranoid once I talked about having been sexually assaulted and terrorized by a sexual predator over a period of two months in 1999 and having been abused by my father. It was hypervigilance which can manifest in all kinds of excessively annoying ways.
My concern about BPD was real as it should have been being that I’ve seen it manifest on my paternal and maternal sides of my family. And while I was able to develop mindful tools via therapy, I really did wonder. The thing about BPD is that it feeds off itself like many mental illnesses. BPD tricks the mind into believing that it doesn’t need help and that things are either entirely good and ideal or entirely bad and undesirable. A great many people living with BPD are never formally diagnosed, never get help, or a combination of the two. And, the last thing I ever wanted to do was destroy the relationships around me or live in the dark like some in my family do.
In the end, I know that if my father reads this he’ll make something up about me being a liar and/or crazy and gas-lighting those around him. Honestly, I feel sorry for him. I really, really do. He’ll never get the help he needs because his illness has convinced him that anything I say isn’t real. Deep down, I think he knows that he’s sick because I can’t imagine him being quite that delusional about the lies he tells.
And, even though I know he’s sick and it’s not entirely his fault, we need to remain estranged because his behavior toward me is still abusive, and I have my mental health to protect as well as the health of relationships like my marriage. I don’t hate him; in fact, I don’t think he’s entirely bad; but, regardless of who he thinks he is now, he still reverted to the old, abusive behaviors just two years ago that I saw as a child, and someone has to stick up for me.

In Fertility or Infertility?

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On this little piece of the internet that I call mine, I talk about some pretty heavy, personal stuff. This post is no different. So, here it goes…

I like to blame myself for things that I have no control over. Considering that control over anything past one’s actions and words is illusory, a colossal self-deception, I’m doing a giant disservice to myself. And the thing I keep spinning my wheels on? Even more than PTSD?

Fertility

Jason and I have been married for 11 years and 5 months, and we have no human children (DO consider our furry children (the dogs) as family). For some reason unknown to us and the medical personnel we’ve consulted, I’ve miscarried every single pregnancy.

I look at it as some kind of personal failure even though, logically, I know it’s not my fault. I didn’t deliberately miscarry. So, why am I blaming myself? Because my EGO grabs onto control. I’ve meditated deeply on the subject of control and knowing there is no such thing, but I keep reaching back. Damn you, EGO!

Right now, we’re trying… again… with medicinal help from a medication called Clomid. Month one with Clomid was a bust. Now, we’re on month two… and I’m already prepping for the possibility that it won’t work. Seems pretty defeatist, right?

Clomid is by no means an easy drug to handle. It messes with the WHOLE body. If there’s a psychiatric side-effect for a medication, I’ll probably experience it. And, no, this isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Mood Swings

 

I wish mood swings were some hippy, ‘shroom induced lingo for something that goes on at Bonnaroo or VooDoo Fest. Nope, these bitches are going from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other in lightning speed. Normally, my highs and lows have a slightly larger range than what is considered normal, but I deal. Right now, those peaks and valleys are like freaking Everest and the Marianas Trench.

However, heh heh heh, yep, there’s always a HOWEVER in these things, right… I can put space between feeling and reaction. Thank you hours with my therapist and meditation. Getting back to Fertility…

One of the worst things I do is compare myself to others. Think: women that can crank babies out leaving one to my FAVORITE texting epithet, WTF? Why in the hell are they cranking kids they can’t take care of, and Jason and I don’t get a shot?

Again, fairness being illusory as well.

This post is more of a confessional.

Bless me Internet because I’ve committed transgressions; so, I write it out for all the world to see forever and ever with the hope that I’ve influenced the wheel to spin favorably.

Yeah, reaching for control much?

In the end, we’ll still adopt even if we have biological children. We’ll get a shot in some shape or form, but it sure would be nice if there’s an easy fix for the biological route.

Like the Lotus blossom, maybe we’ll make our way from out of the mud to bloom above the surface. Life sure is odd.