Take a look around

It’s New Years Ever. The end of a period of time. A period of time that everyone takes notice of and we take a look around. A look at where we’ve been and where we want to go. Who’s still around. Who and where we lost others. We reflect on what we might like to have done differently and how we might do it differently in the future.

This year was very introspective for me. Mostly because I was forced to face my own mortality much sooner than I expected or anyone else is readily able to accept. I can hope and pray all I want for a different set of circumstances, but the reality is something that I’ve suspected for some time. I am not well suited for this world. I will likely leave it sooner than I’d like. So long as I get to see my kids through to adulthood, I’ll be satisfied. Everything else will be a bonus.

When you start dealing with your own mortality you see the world much differently. It’s not hard to ignore the small stuff when you are beginning to grasp the big stuff. You begin to conserve your energy for where it’s not only needed, but also wanted and appreciated. The other stuff, the other people, just fade into the background. The things that would have eaten me alive in years past are just water under the bridge. It’s hard to convey this in words. It may be something no one can understand unless you are actually going through it. You can read books and promise yourself that you are going to focus on forging ahead and being happy, but you’re not likely to really grasp what Im trying to say until you reach this point in your life, or at least have an experience that makes it feel as though you had a very close call with death. Even then you could choose to sit around and feel sorry for yourself, I suppose.

This may sound really strange, but I am actually grateful that this has happened to me now. It’s like being given glasses and getting a totally new perspective. This self-actualization has finally allowed me to love myself. I mean really, truly be ok with all of me, inside and out. This woman that I’ve become, I have fought pretty damn hard to be and my worth isn’t based on my job, my kids, my marriage, the clothes I wear, the handbag I carry, the makeup I apply, it’s all me, baby. Im cool with that.

There are some relationships I’ve lost this year that, while it broke my heart to arrive to a conclusion at the time, I am now at peace with. I don’t expect anyone to agree with everything I do, but I am certainly done with explaining myself. Look, people who REALLY know and love you don’t need your explaination and the people who don’t, why bother? They’ll never believe you anyway and arrive at their own conclusion. Fine. They can call when they find have something to say or not at all. That’s on them.

This also led me to the realization that I am incredibly blessed to have my immediate family and closest friends. They are my first responders. When I’m down for the count they swoop in via text, phone calls, visits and outings to help my get back up again and fight the next round. Come hell or high water they are there. They are the ones who know the song in my heart and sing it back to me when I’ve forgotten the lyrics.

Yes, I’m going to have days in 2015 where I am going to feel like shit and just quit. Everyday won’t be wonderful. Yes, somedays I will be overwhelmed with everything I have going on with my health, my marriage, my kids, my debts, etc. There are going to be days that I just want to be “normal”, however, it will be a year where I take what I’ve gained this year and manifest it and gain clarity with it. Things will change, but this love I have found for myself and for life will remain. And really, isn’t love everything worthwile anyway?

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Why do I do this to myself?

I wish I could tell you that I had some deep philosophical theory about why I pay someone to torture me for hours on end to have an image etched into my skin for the rest of my life, but I don’t. I don’t know why I get tattoos. I just know that every couple years something strikes me so profoundly emotionally that I feel it must have a physical manifestation.
THIS tattoo was actually an evolution of a previouw piece. THe year my divorce was finalized was tragic but still triumphant in many ways. I had to rip apart my family, set who I was ablaze and find a new reincarnation of myself. A phoenix it seemed was the right represntation of what I had just gone through. At the time I had the tattoo done, I was all about pushing through, surviving and being strong in some very, very dark times. THe tattoo itself was obscure. It was vaguely a phoenix and it was dark as if rising from the ashes but still being covered in soot. I had it plassed to left of my spine and behind my heart, where I think a spirit might reside if it had a physical place in your body. As the years have passed though, I have really found out exactly what kind of phoenix I am, I’m a lot more than just a survivor. I’ve found my wings, myself. I’ve learned how to fly. To soar. Thus, the tattoo needed to as well. It needed COLOR and love and soar…
And so now, it does.
“Fascinating creatures, phoenixes. They carry immesnsely heavy loads, their tears having healing powers.” – JK Rowling
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Drinks with friends

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This picture really has no meaning. I saw it in a shop window after a couple drinks with friends, was amused and thought it made perfect sense as a representation of what one feels like after drinking Jäger. I can’t drink the stuff anymore. One too many Jäger bombs one night.

Last night was fun. Met up with some friends at a local brewery to celebrate, or maybe mourn, my bestest friend’s layoff. I don’t think it’s really hit her yet and still feels like a vacation right now. She has no plans for where to go next. She’s not worried and neither am I. Honestly, this woman has been through so much and she always lands on her feet. I admire that in people. When life knocks them down, that they can get back up, brush themselves off and forge ahead with their sense of humor still in tact. It would be much easier to sit and sulk and point fingers, but she never does. Im very thankful to have her in my life.

When I had my miscarriage several years back, I had to go into the office following my D&C for a follow up and the waiting room was full of happy expectant mothers. I walked back outside and called her. I didn’t know how I would do this or if I even could. She told me that I was fine. That I would pull my big girl panties up, walk back inside and be happy for those women because I had known motherhood but I had also known loss and because I was the strongest person she knew, I would smile knowing the true worth of what I witnessing. She was right. That’s exactly what I did.

Anyway, last night was a good time. The husband came out, was a good sport and designated driver. I enjoyed my time with him. Im extremely appreciative that he is trying. Holding my hands, playing with my hair…I love those little moments between us. And after witnessing the horror of single life up close and personal , Im VERY grateful to be married. To him.

I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. It felt really good.

How is it possible to feel lonely and suffocated at the same time?

Im asking myself more than anyone else, however, most of my friends pointed in my husband’s general direction. One friend did point out that even in good company it is possible to feel excruciatingly lonely if it’s not the kind of company you need at the moment. I added the excruciating bit to her phrasing. I can’t deny that my other friends are on the right track.

During one of my nights of insomnia I tossed and turned over every stone thrown in my marriage recently and then I sent an email. I laid everything out, again, on the table and despite not mentioning it to me all day while he was at work not five minutes after we had been alone, he took me in his arms and apologized for allowing me to feel lonely. His eyes welled up with tears and he said “It’s been two years since my Mom died. She wasn’t even around much and when she was she was a pretty shitty Mom and I’m still all fucked up about it. You loved me more than she, than anyone ever has and I can’t…I think I’m putting distance…I hate that your sick and I can’t lose you.” I assured him that I plan on putting up one hell of a fight and wouldn’t be going anywhere soon, BUT until the doctors give us an indication that THAT is nearing, we cannot live our lives waiting for the end of it. Then I mentioned that he could also just not wake up in the morning or the way the assholes in our neighborhood drive any of us could be struck dead just getting the mail on any given day. I hate using those type of illustrations as examples but they are true. That night and then the following day, he did inch closer. He reached for me and held me more. There were moments.

He also kept me at length. I asked him to lay off certain things, I asked him to specifically do others. He didn’t. The five minutes before he took me in his arms were all about how frustrated he was with our Diva. The result was that I felt more lonely, but suffocated by his physical presence, due to his emotional absence. When I write and re-read things like that it makes me feel crazy. Impossible to deal with. Alone.

I’m not sure what to do with all of this. Obviously, I’m starting on the “blame myself” tract that I’ve spent nearly a decade trying to break. I’ve started to wonder if maybe I want more than he can give. Maybe the way he was raised and all the pain resulting make the life, we both say, we want to live impossible.

And I’m at a lost for words …

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Hyper Sexual Women and Mental Illness

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I have a hyper sex drive. I’ve had it since before puberty. That might seem strange but I can remember having sexual longing as far back as eight or nine years old. I can remember “making out” with girl friends at that age. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I had the slightest hint that this may have been abnormal.

After hearing too many stories of child sexual abuse, I began to wonder if something had happened to me as a child that I was suppressing. Then just over the weekend I was watching ‘Dirty Dancing’ and remembered that I had seen it around the same age. My older cousin had conned our naive grandfather into buying our tickets. When I remembered that, I thought, “OhMyGAWD! This is what has been wrong with me my whole life. This movie ruined me!” The dancing, romancing bad boys who were best is bed, the “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” rescue. AHA! This was it!

I began talking to my friends about this theory, to which most agreed that movies have set us up with unrealistic expectations in our relationships. When I explained that I thought my exposure to this specific film at such a young age may have made me hyper sexual and voiced my sexual frustration, I was looked at like an alien. In all of their marriages their husbands are sexually frustrated and they have little to no interest in sex. That didn’t make me feel better.

Upon further examination I realized that while I do have a few other friends who can relate to being hyper sexual, as Im calling it, all of us had one thing in common: mental illness. Diagnosed or not, it was the only common denominator we shared. Except for me, all the others were also victims of child sex abuse.

I just finished a short conversation on this topic with the friend I can share anything with and vice versa. She told me this is probably the number one issue she’s had in every single relationship. Even going in if she says “I have a REALLY high sex drive”, they always say the same thing “Me too, I know what you mean, that’s awesome” and EVERY SINGLE TIME they get annoyed with her because she wants sex all the time. It becomes an issue and they feel emasculated and it usually spirals from there.

So I can conclude that it is normal to have these feelings for any woman with a mental illness and to be a normal woman … sexual suppression and lack of interest?

What then of men and their sexual appetite? Why does it mean there’s a problem when a dude has no sex drive?

Is it just me or is that a double standard?

Is it just a double standard though?
OR Is there a connection between hyper sexual women and mental illness?

I’m still in here

Received an email from my new neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic today regarding testing results. There is a “significant” issue with my sympathetic nervous system. I need more testing. Blood, imaging, biopsy.  The wind had already been taken out of my sails because I’m currently dealing with a flare up with my gastroparesis. This lovely app on my phone indicates that my “quality of life” has dropped two points in the past month. This is an indication that I need to return to a liquid/mush diet. Perfect timing since I’m hosting extended family for Christmas dinner (insert heavy sarcasm)

I really try to put on the brave face, push forward and not let the disease rule. Today, I just need to collect myself. Back on the grind tomorrow….

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Wanderlust

I lost my shit this weekend.

It started early Friday morning with drunken text messages from an ex-boyfriend from high school. These things don’t phase me. In fact, I find them quite entertaining. Mostly because I have insomnia and there isn’t much quality programming on TV in the middle of the night.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it’s somewhat of an escape too. It’s a vacation from all my ailments and responsibilities as a thirty-something married woman and mother of three to listen to someone go on and on about how amazing I was back then. I honestly am not sure if any part of the girl I was even exists now but, it’s still nice to bask in her glory. It’s also nice when you’re married and your husband forgets that you can be the object of desire. I am not looking to relive any teenage fantasy. I just want someone to see me.

The texts were not the issue. Even my husband’s best friend will drunk text me and say very inappropriate things that we both crack up about. I was discussing the texts from my ex with my husband when the issue between us reared its ugly head. No, he wasn’t mad about them nor is he threatened in any way because he knows there is no reason to be. HE is my lobster.

He figured that a drunk ex -boyfriend would wander into his memories of how good I was in bed. (Yes, I’m good in bed. I own that shit.) In a, much failed, effort to just write them off and reassure him that nothing more would evolve from these drunk texts, I pointed out that I am, in fact, resistable. This was a reference to the fact that said husband has not had much interest in this golden vajayjay of mine.

He went into defense mode over my joke about out sex life and in the process of him doing so all the little things I shove down started to boil over and then flat-out erupted. I wanted to run away from all of it. Him, us, the weight of the world on our marriage from circumstances surrounding my failing health and maintaining our very complicated, nuclear family. But I couldn’t. Because I can’t drive. The feelings of being stuck, trapped as I was in my prior, very abusive marriage all flooded in and I got manic. I had to leave. I had to go.

I packed a bag. I got online and started looking for airfare. It didn’t matter where so long as someone I knew lived there and would let me crash. Being that I have these type of friends and relationships stretched across the country, there was an overwhelming number of choices. I settled on somewhere that would let me soak in some energy from the sun. Florida. Made a couple of phone calls, was about to book the airline ticket and call for a cab when I stopped. I stepped outside and sat on the frozen concrete patio as a way of grounding myself and tried to hold on.

I didn’t buy the ticket. I just asked my husband to give me some space to clear my head. Asked my parents to take the kids for the weekend. Booked dogs at the kennel. Made sure the kitty had enough food and water. Husband made plans to stay the weekend at a friend’s house. I booked a hotel room to breathe in neutral air not surrounded by our life.

I don’t drink very often but I just didn’t want to feel the feelings…the mania, so Friday night I drank alone. A Lot. It was a sweet surrender to an oblivion where the ugliness had been ripped away. I listened to ‘Chandelier’ on repeat:
“123, 123, Drink…
Help me Im holding for dear life…wont look down, wont my eyes…Im just holding on for tonight, on for tonight, on for tonight

Sometime after midnight the high school ex began to text me. There wasn’t really a lot to say between us. Mostly just consisted of him making fun of my horrible texting which I couldn’t even make sense of the next morning. I know he has a live-in girlfriend and had company visiting from out-of-town so I inquired where everybody had disappeared to, he replied bed, I said: “So you’re basically a weirdo drinking in your garage alone”.
The guy lost his mind. Apparently that statement was rude and meant that I “needed to learn some manners” because he was only up talking to me “as a favor” to me. At first, I thought he was kidding. Then I was even a little pissed off considering the benefit of the doubt Id extended to his drunk texting the night prior. Even sober the next morning, I couldn’t understand the hostility. I mean his friends and girlfriend had no idea he was texting someone on his phone.

First, in my mind, roles reversed, one of my friends would’ve been like, “Hey weirdo! What the hell are you doing out in the garage by yourself?” Right? We would’ve laughed about it. HSEx was having none of it. Took it as a serious insult. His harshness, but more so the alcohol, brought me to tears. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. That he would think I was the type of person who would just randomly insult somebody who was “doing me a favor” just … hurt. I felt like after some 3 years together and what I thought was nearly 20 years of knowing each other, he didn’t know me at all. Hell, for that matter, did anyone?

In the hours after ending the back and forth with him, which I can only conclude had more to do with him than me since it was SO out of proportion, I just cried and cried and cried some more. Sobbed, really. I hurt so bad emotionally that I actually felt physical pain. After I was all cried out a really beautiful thing occurred to me though. It really doesn’t matter if anybody else understands me because I do. I know who I am. For everything I’ve been through in my life this is a huge revelation. And the only person I wanted to share it with, the person I knew who would value it most, was my husband.

By this time it was nearly time for the sun to come up. I took a nap and then got up with a new resolve. Took a shower. Washed everything from the night before away and got my game face on. I sat down and wrote out the problems, well, their more just heavy circumstance, that are affecting my marriage and where I thought I needed to apply more grace. Then I just made an offer to my husband to come meet me at the hotel, neutral ground, to talk this all out. I didn’t care if it meant we used the room to stay up all night and fight it out until we made sense of it all. If that’s what we needed to do, so be it.

This is where I’ll get lazy with this post and just conclude with saying that he did opt in, we had a very long talk about EVERYTHING and I think he finally heard me. Only time will really tell though.

We shall see.

At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for something to happen.

Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more saddened, she longed for the morrow.
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary