Not Just a Hashtag

I thought my It Happened to Me blog was hard to write, but I’m afraid that this blog will be much more difficult. Frankly, I’m scared. This was a visceral experience, I still have nightmares, it still makes me sick, I still blame myself, and this person is still in my life in one way or another albeit distantly.

I haven’t shared the full experience with anyone but my husband and my younger brother (who took it to his grave). I never told my parents. I never told my son. I have a handful of close friends who know what happened, who know this person, who’ve heard parts of what went on but not the whole thing.

It’s terrifying to put it out there because I feel like I still need to protect this person’s anonymity. He has a life and kids and knows a whole lot of people I know. I’m afraid to say when I dated him. I’m afraid to say how I knew him. There’s still so much fear and so much emotion and guilt wrapped up in this I may not even publish what I’m writing.

One of his ex-girlfriends asked me once if he’d ever forced me to do anything I didn’t want to do. From the time we first dated he was very aggressive and yes, he had coerced me and manipulated me and harangued me into doing things I didn’t want to. I heard “well I’ll just break up with you if you don’t” frequently and often. His ex grabbed my hand, looked me in the eye waiting for an answer, and told me he’d hurt her. I look at her and said “me too.” That’s why the #metoo hashtag struck such a chord with me. I remember this conversation vividly because I said no when she asked if I thought we should tell someone and I became involved with him again a couple years later. I feel so much shame I can’t even express it in words. I did nothing and I put myself right back in the tiger’s cage after I’d gotten away scarred, but alive.

me_too

I’m going to be very blunt about what happened, as much as I can stand. I understand the details might be triggering and upsetting. It makes me nauseous, it makes me want to go back in time and scream at myself, it makes me cry. I’ve woken up from countless dreams where this person apologizes to me or simply acts like nothing happened or tries to kill me.

I told myself I was in control of the situation. I told myself this was my conquest. I told myself this was revenge for his offering my “oral skills” to another boy the day we broke up. I wanted my power back, I wanted him to hurt the way I hurt, and I still had feelings for him. Everything leading up to this experience is so complicated and such a mess of insults, rumors, revenge plots, and negativity it’s no wonder it happened. I knew it was possible, I hoped he’d changed. He hadn’t.

I believed it was “we.” Apparently it was just me and clearly he had something else in mind.

I’ve tried to reconcile what happened as anything but assault. It started out consensual. Was there anger between both of us? Yes. We both gave voice to it, we knew it was there, and thought maybe a friendship was salvageable if we just got this out of our systems. I believed it was “we.” Apparently it was just me and clearly he had something else in mind.

When it started I was in a comfortable controlled position. I could have stood up, put my clothes on, and tried to leave. Five minutes in everything changed. He picked me up and dropped me down on the couch on my back, my neck completely scrunched into the back of the couch, my tailbone on the frame, my legs pinned in the air. I thought, ok this is fine, he won’t keep me in this position for long when I say it’s uncomfortable so I encouraged him to continue. Then he got rough. Really rough. I was in pain. I was being smothered by the damn couch cushions. My neck was being crunched into the back of the couch, my tailbone forced into the frame, not to mention the pain from what he was doing to me. I looked up and said very firmly “Stop, this hurts! It’s too rough.” He looked down at me and said “just shut up and take it.” At that point I tried to get up, I tried with all my strength to get some leverage to pull myself up, to fight him, I tried to move my legs- nothing worked. He pinned me harder, he pinched the inside of my thigh until I screamed, he pushed me down and choked me, he pushed my abdomen down into the couch when he didn’t have a hand pinning one leg or the other. I knew telling him to stop again wouldn’t work, I laid there concentrating on gasping for air while his full weight was on me, while he was thrusting me into the back of the couch. Tears slid down my cheeks and I sobbed and moaned from the burning pain between my legs. I waited for it to be over while berating myself for being there, for thinking this was going to be mutual, for thinking he cared. I know he said things while all of this was going on, unkind things about my body, calling me names- but I tried not to listen and tuned everything out. He did things I hadn’t let him do to me when we were together because I couldn’t stop him. This time I was in his house, no one was coming home, no one could hear me, I was helpless and terrified. No one could save me, not even me. I deserved it. I put myself there.

When it was finally over I remember the blood, being asked if I was on the rag (I wasn’t), being told I had better not have gotten anything on the couch, and both of us laughing about how he’d “almost fucked me right through the back of the couch.” Yes. I laughed. I just wanted to leave safely. I was petrified, I was humiliated, I wanted my mom, I wanted my bed, I wanted to tell my brother and have him hold me and hug me and say it’s ok and prove not all men wanted to hurt me. I just wanted to get the fuck out of there.

He asked if I was ok, I think he saw that I was still crying. I nodded yes. I don’t remember getting dressed, I don’t remember how I got there or how I got home, I don’t remember what happened when I got home. I do remember the blood. I remember the pain in my neck, my back, my entire lower body, and in my soul. I remember not being able to walk for a day or so and playing it off as menstrual cramps. I remember the heating pad between my legs. I remember sobbing by myself curled into a ball in my closet. I remember my brother begging me I to tell my mom and dad. I remember begging him not to tell them.

He continued to do and say more hurtful things and found every way to kick me while I was down as often as possible.

I knew no one would believe me. This happened in the middle of consensual sex, I convinced myself it wasn’t rape. I thought my parents would be angry. I didn’t want to get him in trouble, for some reason I still felt like I needed to protect him and his reputation. I just didn’t want anyone else to know. So I played it off as rough sex. We joked about it, but I tried to steer clear of him- which was difficult since we saw each other every single day, 5 days a week.

As the year went on I dated someone else, became pregnant, and had a very scandalous and widely discussed abortion. At the hardest time in my life I had to deal with him calling me a slut, a whore, a bitch and a lot of other names. He continued to do and say more hurtful things and found every way to kick me while I was down as often as possible.

I still wake up from the nightmares wondering when they’ll stop.

I never did anything to stop him from hurting anyone else. I hope he saved that behavior for only me and never anyone else. I was weak and I still am. I still wouldn’t call him out. I tried to leave out identifying details and I’m still nervous that someone will put two and two together and figure out who this person is.

Twenty plus years later I continue to hope for an admission of guilt and an apology that will never come. I still wake up from the nightmares wondering when they’ll stop. He still has control over me that he likely doesn’t know or care about. I doubt he remembers it at all. I doubt he would admit that he didn’t stop when I asked him. None of that matters though and here’s why:

I know when I say stop that no matter what’s happening or what the situation my partner should stop- as I would if asked to stop. I made sure my son understands how important it is to not only be aware of others feelings, to listen, to be gentle and to stop when asked to stop. To take no as an absolute answer and never hear no as maybe.

I married a kind, protective, and rational man. A man who holds me when I cry, who empowers me, and is a calming presence when I need it. I don’t always tell him about the nightmares. I don’t always tell him when I’m feeling down on myself over what I should have done or what I allowed to happen. I know if I did tell him he’d be there for me. I hope that if I’m ever approached by or about this person he would protect me and help me protect myself.

This experience, harassment throughout my life, and other assaults (including being molested by a church member when I was 10 years old) completely broke me, but broken bones grow back stronger and broken spirits can too.

Tell your story. Don’t keep it in. You don’t have to point a finger or say “he’s the one,” but if you do you might keep the same thing from happening to someone else.

Don’t be silent. Because, yeah- me too.

If you made it this far I’d like to mention that I had several boyfriends and dated several people who were wonderful, caring, and treated me with nothing but respect. I hope they know who they are.

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Raising My Vibration and Stuff

There’s a reason for what is happening now and what we’ve seen happening for the past two years. Humankind is waking up. Our collective consciousness is changing and those of us who chose to be here during this time are being activated. We’re lightworkers and we’re here too try to bring peace to so many still ruled by fear and hate.

So far, so good.

I know, I know- here we go. Welcome to Batshitcrazytown, population Gen. Actually, population millions of us. For the past two years I’ve been tirelessly researching why I’ve felt like I’m battling something I can’t quite grasp. It all started when one of my best friends came to me struggling with a fear of the state of the world so great that I had to present an alternative to the terrifying conspiracy theories and predictions of doom.

I don’t believe we’re meant to be here to see the world end in a whimper, I never have. I’ve known since I was a child that I chose to be reincarnated for a reason. I spoke about past lives to my mother, even though we were strict Christians and didn’t believe in reincarnation. I talked about past life memories, dreams I had about other lives, and I still remember those dreams today better than what I had for dinner 2 nights ago.

It’s not every Thursday you come home to your wife telling you she met three of her spirit guides and one of your’s while flat ironing her hair.

I passed an article on to my friend about the ascension of human consciousness. About our awakening and the changes to our collective consciousness to come. She took it and ran with it and it helped. She found comfort and we started teaching and challenging each other. She’s my soul sister.

The concept is simple. By letting go of what no longer serves us, removing our ego, our fear, and embracing the loving parts of our nature we begin to “vibrate at a higher level”, which to me means we evolve into the loving, nurturing beings we were born to be. This happens during quiet reflection, meditation, exercise, yoga, and restful sleep. Yes, there’s some pretty “woo” stuff out there. Yes, many of us believe our brain chemistry and DNA is evolving due to an unconscious decision made in September of last year by our collective souls to accelerate our ascension. Yes, this is a dimensional shift. But, all the perceived sci-fi aside- my own research, my own awakening, my own change in vibration had cost me nothing. I’ve spent no money on my belief changes – I did buy a labradorite necklace (but that’s cuz it’s pretty).

Starseed

I didn’t start practicing rituals. I didn’t start chanting. I didn’t join anything. I didn’t start praying to aliens. I didn’t do anything to negatively impact my family. I simply started down a path to enlightenment with someone I’ve spent other lifetimes with, someone who was supposed to find me in this lifetime.

I already considered myself a Buddhist and the choice to remove negativity, fear, and things that no longer serve my soul was simply an extension of what I currently believed. I just worked harder to do it. I added a new flavor to my daily practice.

Except I'm still addicted to Sourpatch kids and Dior

The only fallout has been the occasional eyeroll from my husband, yet he still reminds me when I say something unkind. I’ve had some amazing experiences, he’s listened to them with an open mind and given the reaction I would expect from a skeptic. I mean it’s not every Thursday you come home to your wife telling you she met three of her spirit guides and one of your’s while flat ironing her hair. I’ve certainly been fearful that one day I’d wake up to the men in white coats taking me to the looney bin, but he’s been patient and has listened. So far he hasn’t pronounced me a citizen of Batshitcrazytown, and he’s dyed in the wool atheist. I appreciate that.

Fear and hate are of the same low vibration.

So what’s my point here?

Those currently leading our country were put there by fear. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, I mean everyone. We are being forced to turn inward. To depend on ourselves for comfort. To turn to each other for comfort. This moment in history is crying out for love. Our souls are crying out for love. Fear and hate are of the same low vibration.

Think about it.

When you smile and laugh it feels good. When you hate and take part in violence it hurts. When you reach out with affection you feel whole. When you fear you’re left hollow. When you comfort others you feel warmth. When you’re jealous of others you feel empty and cold.

Think about what you’re feeling. Let’s take my last statement as an example. Does it ever feel good to be jealous of someone else? To be petty? Most people would say no, it makes you feel like you’re not worthy of emulating the person you’re jealous of, having what they have, or you just don’t want to be around them although they’ve done nothing to you. How do you think the person you’re jealous of feels? Even if they don’t know that you envy them or why you envy them they still feel that negativity being aimed directly at them. To those of us who are sensitive or have pronounced empathic abilities jealously feels like being enveloped by a dark cloud or being stabbed. It’s utterly confusing and causes unavoidable sense of anxiety. You don’t have to tell us you’re jealous (although it’s worse when you do), we know who its coming from and it hurts- especially when coming from someone we love. For anyone else- sensitive, empath or not it just feels low. It feels dark. It makes you inherently sad. I struggle with jealousy. I struggle with grandstanding and bragging. I often find myself letting go of envy that no longer serves me or saying to myself knock it off ego, you’re stepping on my higher self. Knowing I’m aiming that emotion at another or possibly inspiring it in others snaps me out of that behavior. Nutty? Maybe, but it works for me and I feel lighter, more calm, even happy for those I felt envious of. They have something I deem worthy of pursuit, I feel joy for their accomplishments or acquisitions. I do my dead level best to remove envy and just general showing off from my life. I’m not always successful, especially on social media. 9 times out of 10 I’m just really happy about something I experienced or did or bought, but others don’t always see it that way. I’m trying to be more mindful of how I position my content while not being insecure about what others think.

We needed a positive doggo here

You can actively practice removing fear and hate them your life, the emotions themselves and the speech caused by them by being more mindful of your actions, your thoughts, your postings on social media, your conversations with others. Yes, someone is always going to be offended by anything you say or do. Just be sure that what you put out into the world is based on love and understanding.

In all the turmoil I feel calm, in the darkness I feel peace.

I implore you to try. It can’t hurt, right? Raise your vibration, do as much as you can with love. Cast aside judgement and negativity. Stop being petty!

... not be petty?

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Many of us know some scary times are around the corner, but if you believe you were put on this earth to love others, to speak with love, to pass it on- that may bring you some comfort.

Sit quietly. Reflect. Meditate. Do some yoga. Get serious about self-care. Take a walk. Take a drive. Swim. Clean. Read. Turn off your phone. Hug someone. Keep your sex life healthy. Support your partner. Eat food that makes you happy and feel healthy (in my case including the occasional Sourpatch kid and Twix). Reward yourself. Compliment yourself and others with wild abandon. Remind those around you how much you love them. Give yourself a hug. Call your parents. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Hydrate. Curl up with a blanket on the couch and watch your favorite movie. Hug your dog or cat. Get a dog or cat. Wear what makes you comfortable. Give of yourself. Take selfies, take pictures with those you love, take pictures with strangers. Pick flowers. Go on a hike. Light a candle. Detox from the media. Listen to music. Drink tea. Swing around upside down and call yourself a unicorn! Be joyful, show it, shout it, live it. Smile and laugh if you want and stop caring if or when others judge you.

Doing a lot of yoga helps... as does selfies.

I’m still working on me, working on raising my vibration, working toward my own ascension. Although I had a profound breakthrough on August 8th and 9th, I’m still fighting through some darkness and fear and ego – but I can feel and see the light at the end of the tunnel. In all the turmoil I feel calm, in the darkness I feel peace. I’m not throwing caution to the wind, I’m not hiding my head in the sand – but I’ll take optimism over terror, love over hate any day.

I believe in us. We’re awake.

We are magic. Own that shit.

Living With Atheists and Stuff

The stuff: I’m an agnostic spiritually open minded Buddhist with a hint of “I believe what I want, when I want, and it might change tomorrow.”

I believe in aliens, interdimensional beings, 5D ascension, karma, psychic phenomena, premonitions, higher self, hauntings, astral projections, the Loch Ness Monster… and this list is starting to sound like a 1984 Ghostbusters resume. I don’t actually believe in the Loch Ness Monster. 

I do believe fundamental Christianity and atheism can be very one dimensional and I have a hard time living in one dimension. Do I think all Christianity is wrong? No. Do I think atheists are wrong? No. I do think both groups put those of us spiritually open minded folks into the weird and whacky category. Seems like there’s not a lot of middle ground. Christians think we’re going to hell and atheists think we’re brain damaged. We do just as much research, read as many books, attempt to prove/disprove theories, discuss with like minded individuals, share opposing opinions, agree that cults and organized religion can be a bad thing- but we’re willing to investigate and research what some consider the fantastical and just plain odd.

I’ve lived with fundamental Christians, my Dad was a full time minister into my teens. I traveled with a Church of Christ splinter cult for a month at 11 years old. I’ve tried to write about it without success, it’s too painful to recount and there are things my parents didn’t and still don’t know, stuff I haven’t dealt with in therapy. I returned from that trip asking more questions about Christianity, doubting the “grace” of God, but it took a while. 

I fell in love with an atheist at 18. I was long past my one dimensional Christian belief and was easily able to overlook his atheism to see a true, loving heart. I knew when he did something kind it wasn’t so he’d be rewarded with crystal palaces and streets of gold after death- he was kind and loving because it’s the best way to live your life. When he screwed up he was sorry because he knew he’d hurt someone and you hurt yourself when you see those you love hurting. He was and is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever known. It makes me love him more each time I see his atheistic acts of kindness and understanding in action. 

“There’s nothing so pure as the kindness of an atheist


A simple act of unselfishness that never has to be repaid “


– Freakwater, Gone to Stay

He came home this week and told me he’d been asked several times what he was doing this weekend and kept answering,  “nothing…why?” I kind of just looked at him blankly and asked, “what’s this weekend?” He reminded me it’s Easter. I responded with, “Oh cool, the day I get my Cadbury Egg.” That’s pretty much all it means to me (other than being a reminder of the day I got pregnant my Senior Year of high school, a subject I’ve already written about, but thanks for the reminder brain).

So what’s missing? We get along, we’ve been in love with each other for 25 years, we have great philosophical and theosophical discussions, but when those discussions turn “woo-woo” I see a little twinkle in his eye. He’s known me long enough to know my belief system roams all over the place including some remnants of Christianity, but tends to settle on new age du jour. I don’t know if there’s an afterlife, I don’t believe I’ll know until I die and then I may never know. I do wish my husband was a little more open minded and wasn’t so damn good at shooting down my ideas, but I do appreciate that he listens and doesn’t immediately dismiss what I have to say. 

Raising a child as a spiritual person with an atheist results in a strong, questioning, creative individual. He’s a free thinker. He never expected the usual holiday rituals or question why we didn’t go to church, he’s formed his own belief system and knows right from wrong. He practices kindness, love, and generosity. He has a good heart like his dad, just as I expected he would. He’s an imperfect human like his parents with an open mind and an open heart. 

He’s an atheist. He sees some of my beliefs as plausible and we also have great discussions about aliens, the acension, energy, and Buddhism. He wears his mala beads every day. I gave him my first strand of beads and when he passed them on I made sure he had another strand within a few days. Each day I see him wearing them my heart swells.

We don’t need a God to love each other, we don’t need to agree on everything, we can respect and question beliefs and facts without argument, disrespect, or violence. Living with a couple atheists as a spiritual nutball is pretty harmonious. 

I recommend love and respect no matter what you believe. We don’t live in a world where love can or should be taken for granted. We live in a world where everything we know or think we know is in question and I believe things will be much worse before they’re better. 

Balance is important and it’s coming, soon. 

I’m not interested in being saved, I’ve done that. I do respect the beliefs of others and hope others will respect mine as well. 

Old Demons Resurfacing 

My waist is down to 27 inches and all I can think about are the extra 3 inches and the 20 lbs need to lose, and FOOD. Before you judge or assume that’s some kind of humble brag, there’s more, something deeper and it’s not pretty.

I long for the food I can’t eat. I dream about it. I create fantasy grocery lists. I touch the things I miss eating when I walk by them in the grocery store. 

And you know what? It pisses me off that I can’t even indulge. Since I treated my body like the midway at a cheap carnival for 17 years even a little sugar, a little dairy, a damn fortune cookie puts on at least pound. I ate sugar free candy and dairy over a weekend and gained 4 pounds! Not water weight, actual weight.

I send the following fantasy grocery list to my husband and told my son I feel guilty when I ask him to bring home protien pancake mix.  

This behavior is bad. Saying fatter is bad. I know what it means. I know 400-600 calories a day is a huge red flag. I know obsessing over food is an even bigger red flag. The demon bitch is back. The demon bitch that says you ate yesterday, you can skip the next 2 days. The one who carries the tape measure in her purse (yeah, it’s in my purse right now). The one who makes me obsess every minute of every day over what I ate or didn’t eat or the water I didn’t drink. I know why she’s here. 

She wants control. She really misses someone, not the food.

I lost control of a situation recently and it’s caused me to spin out in a significantly larger way than I ever expected. I have a hard time sleeping, getting up on the morning, just facing the day. They’re gone and I couldn’t stop it from happening. I couldn’t fix it. I didn’t have enough time with either of them. I fucking miss my dogs. 

Our most recent loss was the most painful, so much so I can’t talk or write about it without full on weeping. I wake up and touch both of my dog’s ashes and whisper good morning and I love them and miss them. I watch videos of them a few times a week. I scroll through pictures of them. I disappear into the bathroom and sob until I can get a hold of myself again. I sleep with the toy sheep they shared. 

I couldn’t control their passing or my emotions. The only thing I can expertly control is my weight.

Little Tucker Butt
Bubba Ein

If this was 2007/2008 here’s what my day would look like:

  1. Hit Burger King first thing in the morning, get 2 crossanwiches, hash brown bites, French toast stix, Coffee with 5 sugars and cream, and a large orange juice. Eat in the car, most likely while hiding.
  2. Smoke 3 cigarettes.
  3. Hit Maverick and grab an Arizona Iced Tea, Doritos, a king size Twix and a pack of smokes. 
  4. Smoke 3 more cigarettes.
  5. Eat all of that in the first 2 hours at work. 
  6. Hit Wendy’s for lunch (my best friend can confirm all the food I could put down, she was there). Order 2 Triple Cheeseburgers, Fries, chili, a large Pepsi, and a Frosty. Most of that would be gone before I got back to work (which was 5 minutes away if I wasn’t driving).
  7. Smoke 3 more cigarettes. 
  8. Hit the freezer a couple hours before I went home, I usual had a hot pocket or Mac and Cheese in there. If not I had chips, trail mix, gummy bears (I’d eat the biggest bag I could find), or a theater size box of Dots in my desk. 
  9. Smoke 3 more cigarettes on my way home. 
  10. Eat a bowl of Reese’s Puffs with half n half (yes, I said half n half not milk), or if I had it, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s before my husband got home. 
  11. Drink another 40 oz of Pepsi or sweet tea. 
  12. Make a giant scratch lasagne, buttered french bread, and salad with cheese and ranch dressing. We usually didn’t have anything left. 
  13. Smoke another cigarette
  14. Eat a bag and a half of Pop Secret Homestyle popcorn with extra butter I melted myself and red vines. 
  15. Eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food (I’d stop at the store and buy extra if I knew I was going to eat one before my husband came home).
  16. Drink wine or a cocktail with my last cigarette.
  17. Eat a piece of left over pizza if we had it. 

I have no idea how many calories that is, but I do know I ate like that for a really long time. I’m a stress and emotion eater and to be 100% honest, I miss the comfort. 

Today it’s coffee, no lunch, steak or chicken and salad or a vegetable for dinner. Rarely over 700 daily calories since mid February. One day it was a piece of salami and a pickle, that’s right back to 1992 when I’d eat 2 pepperoni and a bell pepper slice in the span of 3 days. That was peak anorexia.

It has to stop. My dogs are gone. I have to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never have another dog, I’ll never wake up to another happy little corgi face or thumping into the door to wake me up for belly rubs and that’s just the way it is. It’s time to accept this and understand that I’ll never be able to control who comes in and out of my life. Death is part of life, no matter how brutal the decision to contribute to easing the end of life for a little being who can’t tell you what to do or if they love you or if you’re doing the right thing.

It’s hard to find other ways to comfort yourself, to gain some control, to feel safe. It’s a lot of work when those demons start screaming at you, poking you, lighting your mind on fire with self doubt and depression. 

The fact is, I have to fight. I can’t continue to go to extremes. Exercise, ok great, but don’t be crazy every day. Let the scale say what it’s gonna say without me standing on it staring at a number that rules my life. Stop with the measuring tape, measure happiness with the love and support given to and received by others. Stop obsessing over the loss of my dogs and focus on the humans that are still here. 

Like this human

Let go. Eat some chocolate…

…just not ALL the chocolate. 

24 Years…How’d That Happen? 

24 Years together. Everything was against us (statistically speaking). We started dating at 18, married at 19, experienced the untimely death of a parent, went through a horrific car accident together, had a baby at 20, ruined our credit, lost jobs, borrowed money from a generous parent to stay off of food stamps, witnessed the brutal divorce of parents right after our son was born, went through a sibling’s suicide a year later, worked our asses off to buy a house at 34 with the help of a generous parent and grandparent, and one of us tried very hard to pursue a career in music while the other acted as president of the fan club.

Sometimes I suspect we’re held together with spit and a prayer (metaphorically because he’s an atheist and I’m agnostic), but I really think we’re held together with crazy glue. Crazy. Glue.

He lets me use Snapchat filters on him. The poor man.

*I don’t know how we did it, not really. I have some theories, and by no means is the following an exhaustive list. 

  • We are true friends. There’s no one I would rather have a conversation with. No one I’d rather debate with. No one I’d rather quiz with random food trivia. No one I’d rather prove me wrong. No one I’d rather seek advice from. He’s who I go to first. 
  • We’re comfortable with silence. We’re doing it right now. He’s on his phone. I’m writing this blog, both completely comfortable. 
  • He lets me do most of the talking (unless he’s been drinking scotch). If you’ve met me, you know it’s critical to let me keep talking until I’m out of breath. It’s like letting the air out of the balloon. 
  • We rarely fight. When we do its about the important things  (the all ighty ollar mostly). I know some people feel less fighting equals less communication, but when did you last fight with your best friend? It feels horrible. 
  • We learn together. I’m often self conscious, insecure, and Co-dependent. As a result I tend to compensate with vanity, exhibitionism, secret keeping, and general nonsense. Then I over correct by running away or hiding. He’s learned to recognize the signs that I’m diving down that rabbit hole and I’ve learned to communicate before it ever happens. He’s learned to talk to me, to show emotion, to tell me what he needs.
  • We laugh together. Generally about extremely inappropriate things and each other. We laugh a lot with each other. Like the awkward situations he causes with wait staff in restaurants  (oh the stories) or my “math face” or when I forgot most of everything I said for 72 hours after surgery. I’ll admit, we often laugh with our son and if others were privy to those conversations we’d get some very confused, possibly concerned reactions. We’re not a family that holds back.
  • He protects me. Yes, I’m aware that this completely goes against any feminist philosophy. I literally mean he protects me. He’s a giant.
Courtesy Avenue 8 Photography
Did I mention his forearms? (Photo by Avenue 8 Photography)
  • I’m good with my hands. 
  • He’s also handy. I’ve watched him fix more cars than I can count. 
  • I can hold my own with his friends. 
  • He cooks. Well. Extremely well. 
  • We listen to each other and when one of us isn’t listening we’re sure to catch the attention of the other and hold it. 
  • We anticipate each other’s needs. 
  • We keep routine as often as possible. 
  • We still don’t totally understand each other. I know that sounds bad, but it’s not. Sometimes he’ll have a look on his face or won’t react to something or uses a tone that confuses me and it allows me the opportunity to say hey- what does that mean and get some insight into his inner workings that I never had before. Behaviors don’t stay the same for 24 years. 
  • I take care of him (when he lets me), he takes care of me. Sick? Here’s a tissue, Tylenol, something to drink. Sad? Do you need a hug or need me to stay away for a while?
  • We make life easy whenever we can. Complicated is hard to maintain. 
  • He surface cleans. I detail. 
  • We make sure we both have creative outlets, encourage each other, back each other all the way.
  • We compromise. Sometimes he doesn’t like to make decisions about what to eat, what to watch, where we go- he likes to be along for the ride. I don’t like to stick to a budget but I make sure he finds the best deals because he enjoys the hunt. He never wanted a dog, but he knows how much I love them and he learned to love our dog too (and picked up more poo than I ever did).
  • He brings me coffee and breakfast in bed on the weekend and I do things I’m not going to mention here- and not just on the weekends or birthdays or anniversaries. It’s often. It’s quality. 
  • We know what’s important to each other. Art, music, food, movies- we know each other’s favorites and are excited for new favorites. We share the same taste in most things, although I’ll never enjoy Neil Hamburger. 
  • I get excited when he gets excited! It’s so cute (and rare)! Like going to see his favorite band or our upcoming dinner with a celebrity chef. He puts up with my over excitement, often resulting in squealing exclamations only dogs can detect. He’s also an expert giver of presents- I could never rise to that level with him, but I’m pretty sure I had a lot to do with how well and often he surprises me. 
  • He lets me have the remote. For 24 years I’ve had the remote. 

2017 Valentine’s day pressies! Also, we love Adidas.

It’s not like everyday is perfect. Everyday is usually just another day of work, sitting on the couch, food, bed. But when those days are spent together they’re much more pleasant than when we’re apart.

We’ve both made mistakes- some truly monumental, but we forgive, we forget, we move on. Nothing and no one is worth breaking such a strong bond or letting go of so much history. We’ve triumphed over adversity and we’ll do it again and again. 

It’s not luck or fate that keeps us together. It’s skill. And love.

I love you, Joe! 

*Edited to clarify intent:

External assistance (which was and is appreciated), support of friends and family, wonderful examples of successful marriages from his parents and friends, therapy and constant communication- all certainly qualify as part and parcel to our successful marriage thus far; but this list and blog entry is solely dedicated to the internal workings of our relationship as a couple and is in no way intended to diminish the positive external forces that are part of our marital dynamic. We end each day with each other and look inward and to one another for ultimate support and strength as it should be. 

The Hardest News to Deliver

I’ve had to deliver heartbreaking news to my parents twice in my life. I found myself thinking about both experiences recently at the oddest moment. It’s strange how my mind trails back to certain memories like a plate of spaghetti with one long noodle, twists and turns leading back to different memories, somehow all connected. Perhaps it’s due to the raw, vivid nature of some experiences?

A few nights ago I was laying on our ottoman watching TV balancing a bottle of water on my stomach. I tried knocking the bottle of water off using only my ab muscels- it didn’t work. The bottle came back to rest upright each time. This reminded me of being pregnant and watching my son kick the remote control off of my 8 month full, round belly. It was so amazingly weird to watch his little foot pop up like it was searching for a target. Remembering the first pregnancy I brought to term lead me to thoughts of the first and last pregnancy I terminated, which lead me to remember two of the most painful conversations of my life. 

I became pregnant my senior year of high school. My boyfriend at the time was younger than me and I wasn’t about to ruin our futures or saddle our parents with a baby. We decided I would have an abortion. I hoped to keep my parents out of the whole situation, but my mom overheard a breakup conversation that included plans to confirm and terminate the pregnancy. She waited by the bathroom door, listening patiently to my outright weeping for a good 10 minutes eventually losing patience and demanding I come out to tell her what was going on. I lied. Told her I was upset over the breakup, but she knew better. She came right out and asked if I was pregnant. I said I didn’t know. She told me to show her my belly and poked at it with her finger and pronounced me pregnant. To this day I have no idea how that was an indicator, but she was right. She was upset, worried, and excited all at the same time. I told her there was no way I was going through with the pregnancy. Her smile broke she said, “we need to see what your Dad says.” This struck pure fear in my heart. I knew he’d agree with me, but I also knew I would have to endure a tirade that would change my relationship with my Father forever. I wasn’t wrong. The moment he branded me a slut I was no longer daddy’s girl. I was my own girl. I was strong and I wasn’t going to be bullied or berated. He threatened to kick me out of the house, I asked him how that would possibly help the situation. He yelled and blusterd and called me names. I stood there silently until he was done and went to my room. Hours later he sort of apologized after he had calmed down, I forgave him and although it did change our relationship I have rarely thought of his reaction since.  

Eventually appointments were made, my pregnancy confirmed at 3 weeks and my Dad drove me to the clinic to begin the process. The night before the scheduled procedure the doctor gave me something that might cause a spontaneous abortion so the process could happen naturally. I went home and told my mom we were at the point of no return. I saw the heartbreak in her eyes. She cried for hours. I cried for hours. She was so disappointed. I was disappointed in myself. 

She still tells me how much my choice to move  forward with the abortion, when she thought I was only going to get information that night, hurt her. I remind her that she wouldn’t have her grandson or son in law if I hadn’t made that decision. I would’ve been pregnant when I met my husband or wouldn’t have met him at all. We’ve been together 23 years, we are happy and have a healthy son so I know I made the right choice.

I completed the procedure the next day. My parents were there for me, but things were strained until I was married and a mom and they were divorced and had other drama to contend with. 

My brother, as always, was my rock and confidant during that time. The night before the procedure he hid my keys. I told him I wanted to take a drive. My plan was to drive my car into a tree and put an end to everything. I didn’t tell him this, but he knew. He made me promise never to end my life by my own hand, that he couldn’t go on without me. We made a pact that night to stay alive for each other. It’s one of my most vivid memories, I felt so alone during that time, but so loved and taken care of by my 14 year old brother, my best friend. 

Four years later I had to deliver the worst, most painful news anyone can give a parent.  

My brother shot himself and at 22 I had to not only come to terms with losing my heart but also had tell my parents part of their hearts were lost as well. I was first to arrive at the hospital, first to receive the news of his death from the doctors. I pleaded with them not to make me tell my parents, but they were nowhere to be found when my parents arrived just moments apart. I caught them one by one at the entrance, my Dad first. I don’t remember much about telling either of them, other than feeling numb. I remember both of them breaking down completely. I can’t remember what I said, if it was simply “he’s dead” or “he didn’t make it” or “he’s gone.” I think it may have been all  three. I’ve blocked those moments from my mind so completely all I can remember is the dim light, the waiting room, the entrance of the hospital, my Dad screaming “My son, my son” and my mom wailing incoherently when we were taken to see him. I didn’t break down. I held it together for my 2 year old son, my parents, and the best friend I would ever have laying on the table with a hole in his head, growing cold. 

Later the chaplain asked me how I was so calm, saying she was amazed at the strength I had for my parents, consoling them and caring for them in their grief. I mumbled that he was my best friend and they shouldn’t have made me tell my parents. I walked away, eventually sliding into a chair, staring blankly at the floor.

The funerals (yes, multiple funerals) and months after were just shit show after fiasco after nightmare. I couldn’t remove the horror of telling my parents my brother was dead from an endless loop in my brain. Eventually I did bury it so deep I can’t nor do I want to remember the whole scene. 19 years later I still relive parts that night frequently. The dread of telling my parents being one of those moments.  

I’ve delivered a few messages of death since then. None have been as difficult as the news I delivered to my parents, but I realize I can calmly do so even though inside I’m falling apart. I’ve made peace with both situations. I’m thankful I could tell my parents rather than someone else who doesn’t know and love them.

Over the years I’ve been able to deliver good news too- marriage, babies, promotions, moves, graduations…all of it with an undercurrent of sadness, that dread of “I have something to tell you.”

It’s hard to deliver devastating news, but does make you grow a thicker skin and know you can be counted on to remain calm in a crisis. We always hope we’re not on the giving or receiving end of bad news, but eventually we all are. It’s up to you to wilt or grow from those experiences. I’d like to think I’ve grown.

The Big, Bad Depression and Stuff

It’s like sliding into a steaming bath on a frozen day. It makes sense at the time, feels great, it’s comforting. After a short time you’re warm and drowsy, 10 minutes later you’re dizzy, moments later you’re nauseous, your skin is burning and flushed. You need to get out, but it’s so cold outside the bath you’re afraid to freeze. So you stay in because you know eventually it will cool down and you’re unlikely to drown. 

This is what my depression feels like. It’s familiar. It feels right. I feel like I’m allowing myself to slip into it without a second thought. No big deal, I’m getting depressed, it’s happened before, it’ll go away like it always does. But, what if it doesn’t? 

I’m in it now. I can feel a fairly severe bout of depression coming on and I can’t stop it, maybe curve it a little. Anxiety is on its way, social situations will be nearly impossible to handle, crowds are out of the question, even the grocery store will be challenging. My focus will be hard to hold on to and the memory loss is no fun.  

Sure I’ll take my meds. Sure I’ll take care of myself and try to avoid the negative self talk. Yes I know this won’t last, my mood and behavior will even out, life will return to a balance. What I don’t know is how this cycle will affect my relationships. Some haven’t faired well during the storm, either chipping away or breaking completely. Some are constant, always by my side no matter what, but I wonder if that will last. Will they be there next time, the time after that? Should I just go it alone? I often hide these cycles from everyone with happy selfies and a forced smile, but these cycles tend to spark migraines and make me sick so it’s inevitable that friends and family will notice I’m either mid-depression or just coming out of one. 

I know why this happens. I let myself get run down, I put myself in anxiety and self-doubt causing situations, I gain a few pounds, I don’t eat the right foods, I don’t sleep enough, I’m affected by the seasons changing. It all adds up to down. By the time I realize all the elements are there it’s too late, the bath is drawn and waiting. 

So here we are. I have to cancel plans and hope no one resents me for it or believes I don’t care or I’m stuck-up (do people think that? I wonder.) I have to hide away, clinging for dear life to my # 1 support system and ponder how many more times he’ll go through this with me before I’ve completely exhausted his patience. I have to do everything possible to prevent migraines, flu, colds, etc. I have to get some kind of exercise (which I abhor). I have to stay away from whatever triggers anxiety or makes my depression worse (goodbye Facebook). 

I really should give my friends and family more credit for sticking by me. Sometimes this lasts a couple days. Sometimes weeks. Sometimes longer. They’re a persevering group of people. I love them for it, I can’t thank them enough for putting up with my moping, sobbing, long silences, and general avoidance. 

I know I’m not alone, not even close. This is inherited. It was passed to me by genetics. I passed it on. It will be passed to other generations. I know my brain is starving for chemicals it’s missing and I’m not simply sad for no reason. I know it’s the most commonly diagnosed condition in the US. It’s not just me, but I still feel alone. 

I’ll get through this, though it will happen again. I won’t drown. Eventually I’ll get out of the bath and a fluffy, warm towel will be waiting in the arms of my husband, ready to wrap around me tightly and shelter me from the cold. 

Until then I’ll hug myself, touching the dopamine and serotonin molecule tattoos on my ribs and remind myself that these two small, but very important friends will come back to live where they belong and I’ll gain my equilibrium soon.