New Year, New Me?

Probably not so much. I’m still the same opinionated asshole I’ve always been, I guess.

But it’s time for me to write some truth here. A truth I’ve never written publicly but that, because of recent events (events that date back to the election of the orange nightmare), I think need to be written publicly.

Where to start.

When I found out that Lisa was cheating on me, I lost my mind. No, seriously, I totally just lost my mind. All I could think about was how was I going to make it through my life without her? I had invested everything of myself in her, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, and physically.  And now, just like that, she was gone.

We had a shared dream. We were going to build a house down on that farm up on top of the hill. We would buy a “gator” (an all wheel/4 wheel drive vehicle) to get us up and down the driveway during the winter if the driveway was too snowy and icy to drive our own vehicles up.  And, we had the tractor for that, too.

I worked full time, Lisa worked part-time. I supported us financially while Lisa tried her hand at handy work. She watched daytime TV until well after noon each day, then worked at a job she’d contracted for 3 or 4 hours a day. She was not bringing in much money at all and, on top of that, because she was so fully committed to this one job, she couldn’t take on any others. So, to recap, she watched TV until noon, and then could only work 3 or 4 hours a day because she’d pissed away her mornings, and also couldn’t take on any more work.  She COULD have been making $150-175 a day but, instead, made less than $75 each day.  She mowed the lawn, but didn’t do any trimming. The raised beds we had put in had become so overgrown with weeds that the weeds were taller than both of us. I believe she was depressed, not feeling terribly good about the decisions she had made (and I had supported) with regard to quitting her job at O’Neill’s and then taking on the handy work to make money.

During the summer, she spent 2 or 3 days a week at the farm (because she was only working part-time at Harris) but, because the asshole neighbor kept coming by to chat, she wasn’t getting things done down there, either. Lisa, apparently, is unable (read: unwilling) to continue to work as she talks.  So, our crop fields were overgrown with weeds.  And, I worked full-time, and spent every moment of every weekend down at the farm with her, mowing, tilling, harvesting, and sometimes weeding.

So, I worked 1½ jobs (in theory), and she worked about 3/4 of a job, and then only half-assed at that. Yes, I had a lot of resentment, but I didn’t say anything because I figured she’d find her way.  She later told her mother that all she wanted to do was have that little farm, but that I said it had to make money and that ruined it for her.  Not sure how she thought we were going to PAY for that farm, with her working half-days at Harris and not even a half day at the farm, most days.

So, anyway, I invested a lot in Lisa, and in our shared dream.  Her infidelity shattered that dream. Everything that we had worked so hard for, and scrimped and saved for, was gone. It left an empty hole inside of me, and I was terrified that I was going to lose her.  In the meantime, she made no attempt to hide her affair any longer, and that ate at my soul as well. On top of everything, she kept playing this game, making me think I’d forgotten this or that, and trying to pin the blame for her decision to betray our marriage, on me.

I stayed home from work one day – I just couldn’t pull myself together enough to go to work.  I got up, got in the shower, and felt a bit light-headed. I reasoned it was because I hadn’t slept or ate hardly at all in the previous two or three weeks.  As the water came out of the shower head and poured down on me, I became unaware of my surroundings, and yet very aware of them. It’s hard to put into words, but it was like I was floating outside of my body, and yet still within that body, seeing everything around me.  I looked down at the drain and saw the water swirling around and around, but then noticed that the water began to take on a pinkish tint and it quickly became darker and darker until it was a dark and angry red.  I stared stupidly at the redness swirling around the drain and something inside of me identified it as blood, but where was it coming from?  I looked at my hands and feet and arms and then, when I looked down at my legs, I saw that they were both neatly cut wide open from the knees to the groin, and blood was running down my legs in rivers.  It was right about that time that I heard the noise. It was a piercing noise, loud and high pitched, and almost sounded like a wounded animal. Then, suddenly, I realized the sound was coming from me, and the scream just continued to build and build and build until it finally escaped my mouth with such ferocity that my lungs burned. And still, I could not stop that scream.

I don’t know if I lost consciousness or not, but the next thing I remember is squat-sitting in the shower, with my chin on my chest, and realizing that I was in the shower and the water was cascading down off the top of my head and into my face and eyes.  There was no blood. It had been some sort of dream or hallucination.  I called my sister, Tammy, and told her that I was afraid that I wanted to hurt myself. I think that’s what that dream or vision or whatever you want to call it meant.  So, she came and got me, and took me to the Psych ED at Strong Memorial Hospital. She called Lisa. Lisa came and spent the entire time of the 7 or 8 hours we waited, trying not to talk to me at all.

While at the ED, they made me take something. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember floating and feeling like my feet were nailed to the floor at the same time.  The television in the waiting room played “The Brady Bunch” reruns and there came a point when that became so annoying that it enraged me. I think I complained bitterly to the ED staff about the television. Lisa later told me that I’d embarrassed her by acting like an asshole.  Because, I guess, this was all about her.

I spent the next 5 weeks at home, out of work. Lisa went to work, but continued her affair, without much attempt at all to hide it.  I told my sister that, for her mother’s birthday party that would come the first weekend in May, I was sure that Lisa would tell me that she didn’t want me to go with her.  I was right. That weekend that Lisa was gone, was the first time I thought about just ending it all. The pain was too much to bear, and my self-esteem had never been lower – even when taking a beating and a verbal attack from my mother as a kid. I just wanted the pain to end. I wanted it over. I wanted it ALL over.

After I kicked Lisa out, it only got worse.

I learned, two days after I kicked Lisa out, that my “darling” daughter Linda had called Lisa on Mother’s Day. I did not hear from her at all.  When I finally called her out on that, she lamely explained that she just wanted to get Lisa’s side.  No – she TOOK Lisa’s side. Who called the cheating step-mother on Mother’s Day and NOT the mother? Yeah, Linda does that.

Every single day thoughts of ending it all crossed my mind. Some days those thoughts were fleeting. Other days, they hung on. “End it, Pat.” “You’re obviously useless, because nobody can stand you.” You get the picture. A few months later, as the holidays rolled around, I began asking my sister when we could get together for Christmas. I’d bought her a Keurig and was pretty excited about that.  But she hemmed and hawed and often just didn’t return my messages or calls or texts.  It became painfully obvious that she was avoiding me. She had been propping me up for months – at times that I didn’t even WANT to be held up.  It was too much for her, I think.

December became January which became February which became March and then April, and still I couldn’t nail her down for that “holiday” get-together which was now months in the past. It didn’t take a mental giant to figure out that she wanted nothing to do with me. So, one day I took her Keurig and left it on her front porch (she was either still asleep or not at home when I got there), and then went to the farm to get some mowing and other chores done.

There was some bullshit after that with my sister, on that very day, but that’s not important here. All I will say about it is that she knew I was at the farm that day – she at least knew I was in the area because she got the Keurig. But, she pulled some shit behind my back after I’d left the farm, and then came up with bullshit that wasn’t even related to the issue in order to justify her behavior.

Then, on this very blog, I published some open letters to Linda, Lisa and my sister. She was furious because I’d mentioned her “betrayer” in my open letter to her, and she was afraid that her 18+ year old son would somehow, magically, stumble across my blog and read what I’d written. She threatened me that, if I didn’t take it down, well, whatever….

I stood my ground and didn’t take it down. That was 2½ years ago, and she hasn’t spoken to me since. I’ve reached out to her, using different mediums in which to do so, but she remains unresponsive, even to this day.

I had been abandoned yet again.  I was drinking heavily. My depression had such a tight grip on me that every day I felt I would strangle to death from it.  I lived on the edge of a huge black pit that sometimes I felt as if it would swallow me up if I got to close to the edge, but then there were days that I thought “If I just lean in a little bit, I can just free fall into it and have it all be done and over with.”

Then, in April, Josh (Michelle’s ex) committed suicide. He and I had chatted from time to time – the family cast-offs, I guess.  I knew he was despondent over the breakup with Michelle, but I was too wrapped up in my own misery to truly appreciate where he was with everything.  But, after his suicide, those thoughts came to me more and more and more.  I actually envied Josh because he had escaped his pain, and I so longed for that sweet release myself.  I sat down the night he died, and just cried and cried and cried. I wailed and sobbed and choked and sniffled and just let loose.

Sadie was very unsettled by this – she jumped up into my lap, looked me square in the eyes, reached up one paw and *booped* me on the cheek, then jumped down, sat on the floor, and just sat there looking at me, expectantly.  I laughed a little, figuring she was saying “There, now you have something to cry for,” but it wasn’t until much later that I realized that she had thrown me a lifeline that night.

For weeks after Josh died, I contemplated how I would end my life.  Josh used heroin, something he was familiar with, but obviously I knew nothing about heroin and hadn’t the slightest clue how to even go about procuring some.  I remembered that someone I knew had a mother who had committed suicide by swallowing a bunch of pills (I forget what), and chasing them with a bottle or two of nail polish remover.  Well, I had pills, but me and nail polish? Uh. No.  So then one night I googled “How many Lorazepam is a lethal dose?” This was the medication I’d been put on to keep my anxiety at a manageable level.  What I learned was that I’d have to take a truckload of Lorazepam to even get sick, let alone die.  I have a shotgun and a .22 caliber rifle. I reasoned that I could use them, but what if I fucked that up? I didn’t want to live with the pain of a failed suicide attempt, with half my face blown off and me still alive (I have a high school classmate who did just that).  Then I thought about just driving until I reached 100 miles per hour and jerking the steering wheel violently to one side or the other.  But, I didn’t want to hurt someone else and it seemed to me that choosing this method was irresponsible, as it could include injury to someone else.  Then there were all the household cleaners. I could make a cocktail out of those and just slug them all down.  But, I didn’t think I could honestly drink bleach or Drano or anything like that – at least, not enough to kill me but, once again, just enough to hurt me and make me suffer for the rest of my life with the after effects.

So, I continued to go to therapy and DENY any suicidal ideation other than “fleeting thoughts” with “no plan.”  I wasn’t lying. I still didn’t have a plan. Yet.  Then one day it hit me – THE perfect plan. It was simple. Just go out and sit in my car, with the garage door closed, engine running, a bottle of wine to keep me company until the nothingness claimed me for all of eternity.  It would be painless, tasteless, odorless and would certainly do the job.

So, I made preparations.  I cleaned the house. I made sure all my laundry was done. I paid all my bills. I wrote out specific instructions for all of my bank accounts and bills. I left instructions on who to contact for burial at the National Cemetery in Bath so no cost would be incurred for my final rite of passage.  I cleaned off all personal documents from my computer at work. I even threw away my vibrators so nobody would be embarrassed when they went through my things and found them (hahaha). I went to the liquor store and bought a $50 bottle of wine. Hey, if you’re going to go out, go out with something good, right? I pulled up Will Writer on my laptop and banged out a will, leaving everything to Joe and Michelle.  After all, they were the only ones who still were loyal to me.  I wrote a note to Joe, knowing how horrible it would be for him, but asking him to forgive me because I was in such pain and I was doing this because I loved him too much to be a burden to him – he was all I had left. Him, and my Sadie and Idgie and Cedar.

And that was when it hit me. Joe would go on. Joe COULD go on. But Sadie and Idgie and Cedar? What would happen to them? A selfish part of me thought briefly that they would end up at a shelter, and end up being euthanized and we’d all be together again in some afterlife.  But I was only thinking of myself, I realized.  And I thought back to that day that Sadie *booped* me on the cheek with her paw and wondered if, instead of giving me something to cry for, was she actually telling me “Hey, you have me (us) and we really need you to be here for us as much you need us to be there for you.”

So, in the end, it was my cats that saved me. No human creature saved me from myself, it was Sadie and, by extension, Cedar and Idgie.

For the next year after that, I still had those fleeting thoughts, and sometimes it scares me to think of just how close I came to ending it all – I mean, who would miss an old pisspot like me?  I talked to my doctor about increasing my anti-depressants to a more therapeutic dose, and she increased it to the maximum daily dosage. THAT made a major difference as well.  It leveled me out and, because it had a mild anti-axiety property, it kept me on a more even keel.  I quit therapy about a year ago now – I got angry with my therapist and walked out in the middle of a session and never looked back.

I wish I could find the words to express how much better I have been since I stopped going to therapy. I had a huge emotional meltdown that day I walked out on my therapist, and since then, have cried only once or twice and then, only because I now realize how low I had gotten.

Josh and I weren’t a whole lot different at that time. We both didn’t see any way out. The only difference between him and me was that he had a better opportunity than I had, and he took advantage of it. Maybe, somewhere deep inside, I kept finding excuses to keep myself alive, I don’t know. All I know is that I still have days when I think “I could just end this all right now,” and sometimes I think that sounds like such a relief – to just end it all – but then Sadie climbs up into my lap and snuggles with me, or Dexter grooms my hair, or Idgie beckons me to the bedroom for lights out and snuggle time.

I still take one day at a time, but I think those fleeting thoughts are now more of a memory than a desire.

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She wants romance

Lynn wants romance.

We talked Saturday night when she came over and she told me that she’s not “feeling it” from me, and she wants romance.

I think I know now why this sort of thing scares guys and drives them away.  This is what happens in a relationship that is not emotionally balanced. She wants more, I love the status quo.

On average, we see each other about once a week, and I am exceptionally okay with that.  I am enjoying discovering myself in my solitude, and am finding that when I’m not constantly running hither, thither and yon with her, I’m actually getting more things done around this house and, with those accomplishments, am feeling really good about myself in getting them done. I have no interest in spending the kind of time together with her that we once did – weekends and Wedne-day nights. And sometimes the weekends were Friday to Monday so, often that left me only two days each week to do anything here, or even just to relax and have some alone time.

I found that, when she said “I want romance,” it actually angered me. We’ve had this conversation before, in various forms, and I continue to tell her that I do not see us as a “happily ever after” couple and that I don’t even really see us as a couple.  We have bee “friends with occasional benefits” for about a year now and I’m honestly happy with just that. Unfortunately, it’s the benefits that may be making her still feel emotionally connected and emotionally dependent, which makes me extremely uncomfortable.

This past weekend really solidified some of the feelings I’ve sort of had buried beneath the surface – in addition to the “I want romance” thing.

I find myself looking around at any wine or other alcoholic beverage I have and wondering what I should hide. I actually considered hiding the 5 liter box of wine that I had just opened because an open spigot encourages “help yourself” refills.  If I have to open a bottle of wine, then when that’s gone, no more wine. And I should have done that, which was my first instinct.

Lynn drinks heavily. Very heavily. Not on a day-to-day basis when she’s home, but that’s primarily because she just can’t afford to keep herself in the kind of stock that she’s capable of consuming. Don’t get me wrong – my alcohol consumption, especially of late, while I’m home alone is somewhat alarming as well.

On a typical night, I almost always have two full glasses of wine – not those little 5 oz. glasses, but the larger 10 oz. glasses.  Some nights, after my second glass, I might also have a 2 oz. jigger of some sort of whiskey before I head off to bed.  I am acutely aware of how much I drink. I remember when I was 18 and just became old enough to drink, it was cool to brag to your friends how many drinks you had the night before. It’s just the opposite for me now – “I had HOW much?”

So, when Lynn comes to the house and the box wine is new, and we chat (which we do a lot of), it’s easy to just keep filling that glass and keep right on chatting.  But two is my absolute limit and about as much as I can handle, along with the occasional jigger to cap off the night. But long after I have stopped refilling my glass, she keeps on.

This is particularly worrisome for me because of all the medications she takes – and there are LOTS of medications for LOTS of ailments – COPD, phlebitis, depression, bipolar disorder to name a few.  There was a time, when we first started seeing each other, that she was taking Xanax and drinking that heavily.

So, Saturday night, we had crab and steak and killed off a bottle of white wine. I had about a glass and a half of the white, she had two full glasses and a bit more when I went to have that last half glass for myself.  Then we moved on to the boxed wine. I always get Chianti in the boxed wine because anything else is too sweet or too dry or too disgusting. I had a full glass of that, and she had three.  When she took her glass out to the kitchen for what was going to be a fourth, she went by the bar and saw the McGillicuddy’s Apple whiskey and the Black Velvet Toasted Caramel. So, she put her wine glass in the sink, grabbed a highball glass out of the hutch, and poured herself a stiff one out of the Toasted Caramel. And then another. Her speech was so slurred as to be unintelligible. I suggested that we go to bed, not because I was particularly tired, but because I thought it would stop her drinking.  She could barely walk and, once in my bedroom, literally staggered so badly that it caused her to fall against the nightstand and bang her head on the wall. She was so drunk, I’m not sure she was aware enough of the fact that she’d fallen to try to get back up. I helped her up, making sure she hadn’t hurt herself.

She’d had a procedure done a few weeks ago where she had mesh surgically implanted in the urethra to help prevent leakage. It caused more leakage and frequency/urgency in urination after that (note to self: if I start leaking urine, just buy pads). Because of that, I told her that she should sleep on my side of the bed, which was closest to the bathroom, so that she didn’t have to go around the bed and possibly over cats if she had to go to the bathroom during the night. A couple of hours after we dropped off to sleep, I woke and found that she’d had an accident. I woke her, told her “You’ve had an accident,” and got her up and got the sheets off the bed, put down some towels where she’d had the accident, and then an old, threadbare comforter on top of the towels so we could go back to sleep.

Here’s the thing – maybe the accident on my bed was the proverbial straw, but it’s not just that.  I have had enough. I don’t want romance with Lynn. I don’t even want the benefits – haven’t been comfortable with that anyway.  I just want her to be my friend, without benefits, without romance, without having to see each other all the time.

We sort of “broke up” about a year ago, right about the time my father died. She had asked me point blank where I saw our relationship and I matter-of-factly said “I think it’s run it’s course, don’t you?” So, we agreed it had run its course and agreed to remain friends.  That was, in my mind, where we were the best with each other. No expectations of anything beyond spending a day together shopping or sight-seeing. It was the “with benefits” thing that allowed it to get back to where it is now. She wants romance. I want out.  It’s my fault for letting it get to this point without expressing what I really felt for the past year.

I’m easily aggravated with her, too.  She messages me on Facebook and, if I don’t answer right away, she just keeps right on firing those messages, making it “ding” until I either answer her or shut off the phone so I can’t hear the noise anymore.  If she has company or is tired and wants a nap (which is often more than once a day), she’s off Facebook and unavailable to chat – I’m fine with that, it gives me a breather. But if I’m busy with my hands in dishwater or knitting or doing something that makes it difficult for me to carry on a conversation via messenger, she just keeps banging away at that goddamned messenger until I want to scream! I’ve gotten to where I ignore it more and more, hoping she’ll just STOP being so insistent. It’s behavior that screams “don’t ignore me!”

This is not going to be an easy conversation to have with her because she has a dependent personality and, at times can be emotionally fragile.  But she has a good therapist and I can’t be responsible for holding her up after letting her down. I’ve let it go too far and for too long as it is, and I just can’t take any more of it.  I won’t bring up the drinking or the messenger behavior. I will just simply try to find a way to tell her that I am no longer interested in having a “relationship” with her and if we cannot be friends, and ONLY friends (and not “with benefits”), then we will have to part ways completely.

And that might be for the best anyway.

Election 2016

Election 2016 – Donald Trump – is a train wreck.

I have friends to support Donald Trump and post all these bullshit memes on Facebook, clearly without fact checking them and it just infuriates me. Not that they post them, but that they SEEM like decent people and I just cannot wrap my brain around why decent – GOOD decent people would support a Trump presidency.

He’s a racist.
He’s a misogynist.
He’s a sexist.
He’s a homophobe.
He’s a xenophobe.

And, I guess I take it personally when people who purport to be my friend support someone who openly reviles everything that I am.

Election 2016 is going to separate me from a lot of people.  Sure, politics shouldn’t ruin friendships, under normal circumstances, but in this case, supporting Trump tells me that you agree that I should not be able to marry the person I love. Supporting Trump tells me that I should not have the right to choose how I handle my reproductive/biological functions as a woman. Supporting Trump tells me that you see me as an Hispanic-surnamed individual worthy of contempt, suspicion, and that I am a lesser person than you are. Supporting Trump tells me that you are more than happy to single out a minority group for deportation, discrimination, or even condemnation.

Yes, I take your political views during Election 2016 VERY personally.

My Brightest Star

When he decided to make an appearance, he opted for the grand entrance. The hospital was a 40 minute drive, and my contractions were only minutes apart. It had started less than 20 minutes prior, when my water broke and then there we were, racing to the hospital. 

 

The birth process itself was eerily calm and quiet. Surreal. He was born with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck. He was blue, flaccid, and unresponsive. He was not indignantly screaming from having been torn from the warmth of the womb like most babies.  That moment of his birth was the only one where he hadn’t grabbed life by the ass and lived it as best he could. It was like a quiet prelude for the life to come.

In a series of very slow motion movements, the on-call pediatrician took him over to the newborn table and worked frantically to revive him, while I watched with a strange calmness. When he finally drew breath, he let out a cry and his life began.

I can’t count the number of times we watched The Karate Kid and Beetlejuice. Every little thing about him made me laugh, making it impossible to be stern or angry with him for those little things that children do that sometimes frazzle even the best of Moms. I was just highly amused with his little boy ways.

Our last week in Hawaii, after the girls went to bed, I’d take him out to the sea wall that separated our temporary housing cabin from the beach, and we’d sit and watch the waves come in, wrapped in a blanket, and he’d sing “Say you, say me” to me in that off-key high-pitched 3 year old voice. No star in the sky was ever brighter than his on those nights.

It became our tradition, the day after Christmas, to sit in our pajamas, playing video games the entire day. I can’t count the times during those sessions that he made me laugh to the point where I literally hurt. God I loved being with him!

When he began playing football, I marveled at how respected he was by his teammates and coaches, given how small he was compared to his peers. “Nobody works harder on the practice field than Joe,” his coach told me.

He became a gentle, kind spirit with a marvelous sense of humor, a razor sharp wit, and his very own person. But more than anything else, he was always someone that I could have a conversation with — about anything. He was my best friend.

He was the very first person I came out to. He simply put his arms around me and gave me a huge bear hug. When Lisa moved in with us, he accepted her and our relationship with quiet aplomb. The first Mother’s Day after that, he came home from work with TWO Mother’s Day presents.

This past year, as I went through my own personal hell, he was there, always, loving me and supporting me and just being there. There were times when I would break down and cry, and he would just walk over to me, and wrap his arms around me and just hold me while I cried.

How does a mother put into words how much she loves her son? Those three words seem so inadequate sometimes because they do not adequately convey the depths of our feelings. On the day of his high school graduation I gave him a pocket watch with the inscription “The brightest star in my sky.”

On his journey from infancy to childhood to adulthood he has always been the brightest star in my sky. That perfect point of light that allows you to see the world with absolute clarity. The one that you can easily find amid the billions of others because it stands out from the rest.

Today, we celebrate his 33rd birthday – my baby! If I had the ability to give him anything, anything at all, it would be to give him back as much love, support and happiness ten times over as he has given me. I wish for him a life of successes based on the hard work he has done to get to where he is now. I wish for him love and happiness, however he defines that. I wish for him one person who stands out from all the rest, and is the brightest star in his sky.

 

 

Love you SO much, Joe.

Time Passages

For 14 hours I lay in labor, waiting to meet that little person I had been carrying for so long. Will it be a girl? A boy? Will the baby’s hair be dark and her eyes as beautiful as her father’s? And then she made her grand entrance – all red and indignant at having been rudely pulled from her warm cocoon into a cold, sterile room with only strangers to greet her.

She was so sleepy all the time, probably worn out from the rigors of birth. We had to flick her little feet on the bottom to wake her up to eat. Each and every time I held her I thought my heart might burst with the love I felt for that child – I never knew it was possible to love another human being that much. She was a happy baby and people were drawn to her saying “She’s got such an engaging personality,” or “I have never seen a baby smile so much and seem so genuinely happy.”

I know I mentioned this once before, but it bears mentioning again because it is important to understand the composition of her personality. She grew up during the formative years in Okinawa, far away from her extended family. Meeting grandparents was an exciting adventure for her and, even after the visits to grandparents, she couldn’t get enough. She was three, and asked a sales lady in Sears “Are you my Grandma?” “I will be if you want me to,” was the lady’s reply. From that point on, anytime we went into that store, she would run over to the appliance section and shout “Grandma!” and wrap her little arms around the sales lady’s neck.

She has “adopted” many people into her life along her journey, maintaining close relationships with the families of her exes. In many ways, she is a far better person today than I could ever hope to be.

She loves people and gives so very much of herself to others, trying to teach her three daughters to do the same – practice random acts of kindness.

She has traveled roads that no parent wants to see their daughter travel, and there were times that I feared she would become lost on those paths, but she fought and clawed and climbed her way out of those dank and dark places in which she found herself and, today, stands tall and proud, and beautiful.

Today, my baby girl turns 40 and if I could give her anything for her birthday it would be that she knows true love and contentment with her soon to be husband Travis as they begin their new life together out west.

Michelle, I wish I could find the words to tell you just how very much I have always loved you and want nothing but good things for you. I miss you. I will miss you even more when you are gone.

Happy 40th birthday, Mishka.

Lighter on my feet these days

I hadn’t said anything because I’m *always* starting a new diet or *always* promising myself a new fitness plan or *always* promising something.

I am 5’3″ and topped out over the winter at 190 lbs. Now, to look at me, you’d nod your head and say “Yep, she sure is overweight,” but you would be surprised at that number because I apparently “carry it well.”

On March 21st, I began the slow, painful act of losing weight. Again. For the eleventy-seventh time in the past 25 years. On March 21st, I weighed 190. I sort of half-assed watched what I ate, counted calories sometimes, promised myself I’d work out, but only lost a pound or two here and there, if I lost them at all (given that body weight can be up or down up to 3 or 4 lbs on any given day, just because).

April rolled around and I promised myself I’d be better, and actually was. A bit. I’d lost about 3 or 4 lbs. during April and got a bit better about what foods I was eating and doing something other than binge watching Netflix, but still my effort wasn’t all that great.

I resolved greater effort in May, so I got out my Fitbit, got out my (embarrassingly in-depth) spreadsheet, and took off with a vengeance. My inspiration came initially with the “hourly challenge” that Fitbit now has – that is, to get in at least 250 steps every hour for 8 hours. I adjusted the timing to 14 hours, with a goal of meeting that challenge in 8 of those 14 hours.

I got out my jogging trampoline, and started setting a timer for every hour to get on it through the duration of just one song. I prepared a playlist and, as each hour came along, I’d jog in place on that trampoline through whatever song was playing. So, I was staying on it for anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes each hour. In addition, I scheduled myself to walk at least 40 minutes, three times a week, bicycle on the days I’m not waling (3 times a week) and Sundays as rest days (but still the hourly challenge).

To make the walking even more interesting and inspirational, I signed up at walking4fun.com and signed up to virtually “walk” the Appalachian Trail. The web page syncs up with the Fitbit web page, so all I have to do is go there every day to see what progress I’ve made, nothing else. It’s also very cool because there are pictures to show you where you are on the trail. You can also do a “team” thing (for anyone doing something with co-workers).

So, with all that being said, I’m happy to announce that I have lost 11 lbs. since mid-April. I have still had some days where I haven’t done what I need to do. I fell off the wagon for a few days but forgave myself and got right back on it. So, for May, here are my numbers:

Weight lost – approximately 6 lbs
BMI points lost – just shy of 2
Average hours with 250 steps – 5
Total steps for month – 129,084
Average steps per day – 4,302
Total calories burned through exercise – 5,208
Average exercise calories burned daily – 175
Miles biked – 16.77
Average length of bike ride – 1.25 miles

53.5 miles walked on the Appalachian Trail. On Stage 3, Unicoi Gap, with only 8.2 miles to go before a new stage.

I have also been able to discontinue one of my two blood pressure medications, and my reflux hasn’t bothered me in a long time – two things I think I can attribute directly to a better lifestyle.

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but some of those numbers show where I’m holding back in effort. They are low because of entries of “0” for a day. I need to reduce the number of zeroes that show up on my charts. Biking is difficult because of weather issues – I won’t ride in the rain or when it’s cold because my ears can’t take the cold (even with a hat!). But everything else is do-able and those numbers need to be better.

This has been a painfully long and rigid process for me, but I need to keep reminding myself that I didn’t get fat in a month, so I’m not going to get thin in a month or even six months. It took me about 18 years to gain the 60 lbs. I gained after I quit smoking, got married, got divorced, and retired.

I’m not setting any concrete goals for the month of June because I think that’s a good way to set myself up for failure. So, my goals for June are simply to improve those numbers, and lose some more weight.

Eleven down, 54 to go. Slow and steady…

Mothers Day Indeed

Things with Lynn have smoothed over.  We talked, and I told her pretty much exactly what I said on the previous post – especially the part where she refuses to do anything about her calendar to prevent this from happening again. I think this time she took that to heart because for the past few days she has been inputting things to the calendar on her phone.  So, she’s trying, and that’s all I can ask.

With regard to Michelle, I got an instant message from her on Facebook yesterday, that said “Happy Mothers Day, I love you.”  I wanted to shoot back “You have a strange way of showing it,” or something equally as snarky, but decided to hold off saying anything without really thinking about the whole situation.  What I ended up saying, much later was “You slammed THAT door right in my face, when I needed you most. Your words ring hollow, Michelle. I hope you find what you are looking for in Las Vegas.”  

About 10:30 last night I got a message from Linda, also on Facebook, that simply said “Happy Mothers Day.” At 10:30 PM. Like an afterthought.  But, I would bet a shitload of money that she either sang the praises of her stepmother on Facebook, or something equally as hurtful to me.  She has a great way of doing that.  I sent her a thumbs up as a reply. Nothing more. There really wasn’t much more that I could say that was sincere.

I should feel badly about both, but strangely enough, I don’t. I guess I do a really good job of insulating myself when someone hurts me, to make sure I don’t leave myself open to it again.

Joe sent me a chatty text message (chatty for him) wishing me a Happy Mothers Day, and telling me he moved the day before, starts work today and starts his summer classes today as well.  He’s pretty tired and stressed.  But, I was outside mowing the lawn and didn’t respond until about noon, and shortly after that, he called.  We chatted for about 20 minutes – which is something because Joe just doesn’t talk on the phone.  He knows what’s going on with his sisters and I think he takes extra steps to make sure I know he loves me.

What’s funny is that, of the three kids, Joe is the least intuitive to others’ feelings than either of the girls. My son loves me – of that I have never had any doubt.

But, apparently, I’m a person who does not love UNconditionally because my conditions are apparently that I get contact once in a while, be treated with something that resembles respect, and get some fucking credit for the sacrifices I made for those kids while raising them.  You’d think that, being a struggling single mother, Michelle would get that.

Happy Mothers Day indeed.

I was reading my very private and very personal blog and found this from just about 2 years ago.  I think I have come a long way since then.  Yes, I’ve had some losses, but I’ve had gains, too.

Capture

Dusting off the cobwebs

This is like a seasonal vacation home – occupied only the fewest number of days every year, collecting dust and emitting no sound other than the echos of the nothingness here.

I’m trying to get myself reborn, so to speak. New outlook, I guess.

I “fired” Philippa, for lack of a better term.  I think I posted once before how she’s always interrupting and not letting me process thoughts completely, which I find hugely aggravating to the point of making me mad.

So, I sort of have this plan – call it a dream, for the future.  It’s partly a real plan, and partly a pipe dream, but I have drawn out plans and done pricing and started a business plan for it.  I was telling Philippa about it, as part of a conversation about doing more for myself, being more active, having something to look forward to.  She interrupted and asked “Are you sure your personality is suited for being around people like that?”

I don’t know how she meant it, but I TOOK that as meaning that she thinks I can’t be around people, because that’s all it really involves, is being around people.  I stopped talking, mouth agape, blinking stupidly at her. Then, I just said, “You know what? I’m going home,” and reached over, grabbed my iPad and car key, handed her the check for co-payment, and left, mid-session. While the interruptions were extremely annoying, her shitting on my dream that way was the proverbial straw.  I shouldn’t leave my therapist’s office feeling worse about myself than I did when I went in.

Michelle still isn’t talking to me.  Joe told me recently that Michelle and Travis are planning to move out to Las Vegas in the fall, and none of the girls will be going with her. Before she dumped me on Facebook, she was posting a lot of religious shit, so I’m wondering if she’s finding Jesus and can’t reconcile that with who her mother is, I don’t know. I know I’m shocked that she could so easily run off to Vegas, away from everything and everybody she knows and purports to love.  Her mother. Her brother. Her kids. Her granddaughter. Kenny’s family that she had always been so close with.

When Joe told me about this, I sort of had a flashback to the day I learned that my mother had gotten on a plane and flown to Florida, permanently. I cried all day when that happened, and then never shed another tear until she died, 17 years later.  I had already grieved over the loss of my mother all those years before. My grief upon her death was facing the certainty that there would never be any more time to mend our relationship any more than what little we had done over the last three years of her life via email.

I ordered some flower and vegetable seeds from Harris Seeds over the phone. I told the agent that I’d stop by and pick up the order, since they are only a couple of miles from my house – no point in paying for shipping.  So, I stopped by and this woman, Liz, was in the reception office. Liz is married to Candy, a former student aide of mine that is a 30 something adolescent.  Anyway, Liz got my stuff for me, and I left.

Later that night, I got an instant message from my foster mother saying she’d heard I was Harris that day. So, I asked “What, am I required reading or something at Harris?”  My ex and her mistress, my foster sister, and Liz all work there, so I’m sure Liz spread the word that I was in the building.  So junior high.

Anyway, because I asked about being required reading, she shot back that I needed to let go of “all that Lisa crap,” although I’m not sure where that came from. We’d been talking about her working part time, 27 hours a week and I told her that I’d done some part-time working after Lisa and I split in order to help pay the bills she’d walked away from and refused to help with.  So, the “let go of all that Lisa crap” comment came across. Then she asked me what was wrong with my marriage that made Lisa turn her head.

My response?  “Nobody put a gun to her head and forced her to cheat. If you think there’s any sort of excuse for it, you’re dead wrong” and then “You don’t fuck over the person you’re married to. If you’re unhappy, you get out. You don’t destroy them.” I told her that I didn’t need any more of her “love,” because I was full up with it. I was furious! Cheaters are solely responsible for their cheating.  As I had said to Lisa on more than one occasion, “I may or may not have been what you needed me to be, but nobody put a gun to your head and forced you to make the decisions you made.”

The next morning, I was still fuming, and sent her this message:

“What a shitty, horrible thing to say to someone – that it’s their fault their wife or husband fucks somebody else. If that’s the case, I assume you agree it’s your fault that Chuck turned his head to your grandsons? TO MY DAUGHTER???

Sad for all the losses? Well, you seem to do a damn fine job creating them. Color me one of them.”

Who needs people who “love” you like that? Certainly not me.

The next day Lynn said something that set my ass on fire – that the whole time I was with her, I was really “with” Lisa.  I went off on her – more than I should have.  I sent her a really long note apologizing, and addressing what was said, both by her and by me, in a non-confrontational manner, and without the emotions of the night before.  We smoothed things out and made some plans for the upcoming weekend.  Two days later, I get a message from her saying that I had belittled her and she hated the way she felt when I was mad at her and that we should part ways.

Completely blindsided, I was floored.  I had been spiraling downhill since the beginning of the year, and I think that this was the final straw. Two days later I had a hair appointment over in her neck of the woods – she’d told me to come by and get my things that were still at her place. So, I did that, without seeing her, without saying a word. Then I went to a friend’s house to pick up a painting she’d done (and I bought), and on my way home from there, I got pulled over by a state trooper – 71 in a 55. After I got my ticket, I put the car in drive, and about a mile down the road, pulled into the parking lot of an abandoned restaurant, and just sat there and cried and cried and cried. I kept screaming “What’s HAPPENING?”  I felt like Rose (Bette Midler’s character in the movie), who screamed “WHERE’S EVERYBODY GOING???” after Houston (her boyfriend) left her.

So, I did what any sane adult would do. I went home, poured some wine, and got completely wasted, and had a huge, emotional meltdown. I think that was the day that I hit absolute rock bottom.

I got a new therapist – I’ve only been twice, so the jury is still out as to whether I like her or not.

Lynn and I eventually patched things up and things got better. I haven’t missed Lisa at all. I find that, all of a sudden, I don’t think of her all that much and if I do, it’s not with the same sadness that I’d had before. I have found that I laugh when I’m alone, at the TV or the cats or even myself. I SEEM happy.

And then today happened.

Lynn, once again, canceled plans with me because she had to take her (40-something) son to and from work 2 days in a row and had to babysit for her granddaughter.

So, there’s something I’ve got to say here about the son, Brian.  He broke up with his girlfriend and has been living with Lynn ever since – a couple or three months now, in her tiny little one-bedroom apartment.  Any plans that I tried to make with Lynn, well, they kept revolving around her having to fetch her grown son to and from work. He doesn’t have a place to live and doesn’t have the money to get a place to live. He doesn’t have a car and doesn’t have the money to get a car. He’s got money for cigarettes and beer and that sort of stuff.  But here’s the thing – he doesn’t have any fucking INCENTIVE to get out on his own and fend for himself. Mom steps and fetches for him on his schedule. As a supposed adult, she’d rather restrict her own movements and get no LIVING done in life, than to tell him “I’m going to be gone tomorrow – you’ll have to find a ride to work and home again.”  If he had to do that more often, I guarantee you he’d be kicking the tires on at least a bicycle, if not an old “beater” car.

As far as babysitting, she claims this has been on for a long time, and that she didn’t have her calendar with her when we made our plans. But that’s not true. She was at her own home when we made the plans, and I specifically and laughingly said “Put it on your calendar NOW!” She laughed, and said she did.  Two days later, she asked me “Remind me why I have you on my calendar for 3:30 on Friday?” So I reminded her.  Nothing said about it until today.

Yesterday, I told her I’d call her when I got done with traffic court.  I did that, and when she answered the phone, I could hear in her voice that something was up. I asked her if she was eating dinner, and she said “No, I have company.”  I said “Okay, call me when you get done.”  I asked her today who her company was, and she said it was her daughter and her boyfriend.  When she’d canceled our plans, she admitted that she’d had “Cheryl” there (girl she used to see before me) but didn’t want me to be mad about it.  Why would I be mad? I don’t have any right to be mad. We’re not a couple, we’re not in a relationship, she can see anybody she pleases.

So, I told her I was getting angry (which I was) and that I was going to back out of the conversation until I had time to think, calm down, process.

Here’s the thing: canceling plans with me for this very same reason (“I have to babysit” or “I have to take Brian to work/pick Brian up from work”) – it’s a habit with her. And it’s a hurtful habit.  Forget that I’ve spent money on tickets for the two of us to go to the movies Friday, like we had planned. Forget that I laid on a bottle of wine that she really liked. Forget that I bought food so we’d have a nice dinner, and breakfast the next morning.  None of that matters nearly as much as the fact that, once again, I am disappointed and hurt.  Yet, I’m supposed to be the horrible person, making HER feel terrible.  Apparently, in her mind, that road only travels in one direction. And, to add insult to injury, I can’t express any feelings of anger or hurt or resentment, lest she get physically ill because of the way she feels when I’m mad at her.

So, I have to ask myself the question Is it worth having a ‘friend’ who treats me like this, who does things that make me feel this shitty?

LeRoy and I divorced because, over 12½ years, he kept doing the same things over and over and over that made me feel badly about myself. Lisa did it, too, by her cheating and lying. Why on earth should I voluntarily stay in a relationship of ANY kind that consistently makes me feel like shit? Consistently makes me feel like an afterthought? Friends don’t do that to each other.  I have glossed over each and every instance of this habit, not wanting to seem self-important. But isn’t it time for HER to take some goddamned responsibility? I have been on her and on her and on her about using the calendar on her phone and she just refuses to do so. She says her paper calendar works just fine. Well, it doesn’t.

I’m exhausted now – and hungry.  But also I’m relieved to have written this all out – it’s helped me to process everything a bit more.

Sleep on it, Pat.

I dreamed…

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream
I dreamed

Mission Accomplished

ignored

Yep, I seem to have succeeded in alienating every single person I care about.

Joe, well, he’s just distracted with school and his girlfriend.  But I guess I don’t give him much reason to want to chat or call or do much beyond 2 or 3 minutes on Facebook messenger.

Linda, well, that remains unchanged.  Not only would she not even know I had disappeared from the face of the planet, but I’m pretty sure she really couldn’t care less.  She needs to hate me. And so, I let her.

I tried for two weeks to raise Michelle via phone, text, Facebook, and messenger, to no avail. She just wasn’t returning my calls or messages. I wanted to know when she thought we could get together for the holidays. I was really excited about the blanket I’d made for her, and I knew she’d love it.  But, I couldn’t get hold of her, no matter how I tried. I left voice mail messages. I left text messages. I left Facebook messages. I left posts on her Facebook page. Nothing.

Joe was home for Christmas and, were it not for him, I would have spent Christmas alone. Neither of the girls bothered to call.  No huge surprise for me.

Tammy, my sister, who was once my best friend, will not respond to my communications either. It’s been more than a year, probably more like a year and a half since we had our falling out and, even though I’ve extended an olive branch, she’s not even acknowledging it.

Lynn, too. Color her gone. About three months ago she asked where we were with our relationship and I told her that I thought that it had pretty much run its course. I was being honest. There was a part of a song where it went “I’d rather hurt you honestly, than mislead you with a lie.” And so I was honest. What I didn’t volunteer is that I got tired of the drinking. I got tired of HER excessive drinking. She’d text me and it would be gibberish – she’d be so tanked she didn’t even know she wasn’t sending words. And, if we were together, we could go through a 5 liter box of wine in just a weekend.  When she drinks, she drinks to excess and I was doing that too and not very happy about it.  And yet, I didn’t say anything about it other than some vague references to “we drink too much” and nothing more.  Just tonight was the proverbial straw, I guess.  We had plans to do something together tomorrow after my hair cut. I had mentioned that I hoped she’d be okay with watching the Kansas City/New England game at 4:30 and she said that would be fine.  Later, I got a message from her that she had agreed to watch her daughter’s boyfriend’s son instead.  This has been a pattern for her throughout our relationship – plans with me but, when the family asks, I’m the one who gets dumped.  And that gives me a really shitty feeling.  So, I told her that. And, I made the decision that I was going to “go dark” on Facebook for a while.

I have, at least for now, logged out of Facebook on all my portable devices. I don’t want notifications from friends and acquaintances pulling me back into that world right now.

Truly, I wonder how long I can be “dark” before anyone realizes I haven’t been around. And it is THIS thought that fills me with the thoughts of self-loathing, isolation, sadness, hopelessness and anger. The sobering reality is that, were I to drop dead tomorrow, I’m pretty sure my rotting corpse could lay here for a long, long time before it is discovered. Nobody would miss me. Not one person. And that is my legacy.

I’ve started back to therapy with Philippa after having left her and gone to Kitty for all of last year. I wasn’t going anywhere with Kitty, so I’ve started back with Philippa with a promise to myself that I will be completely open and honest, not only with her, but with myself.

One of the very first things that I need to start talking about is the thoughts of suicide that often flood my brain when I’m upset and feeling lost and alone. Like I am right now.  But even now, in this very moment, I think that maybe I should keep that a secret because if I ever do get to a point where I decide I want to end it all, I don’t want anything getting in the way.  Also, it’s a bit embarrassing to have anyone know about that.  People just don’t get it – how a person can get so low and lose hope to the point where they feel they have no way out.  They think about how it affects THEM, but not how much pain a person has to be in, in order to commit suicide.

I got into it with Michelle about this – she posted some Pollyanna-like claptrap drivel about, if you’re feeling low, take a walk, go shopping, feel better! As if a suicidal person can rub dirt in it and make it go away.

Honestly, I never understood it either. I’d never gotten that low. I’d never gotten as low as I have been for the past three years.

I miss Lisa terribly. Yes, she cheated and she lied and deceived and tried to blame me for her infidelity. She did a lot of good work toward tearing me down (and not unsuccessfully, I might add), and I should loathe her. But I can’t. I loved her too much to NOT be able to love her now.

I believe that the destruction of my life is now complete.