On my chronic pain wagon

I just posted this article on FB:

5 Things the Healthy World Should Know About the Chronically Ill World

It popped up on my news feed and I read it because, well, I have a chronic pain disorder, that hurts, sometimes, a lot.

And, I am not the only one I know in the neighborhood that has a chronic illness.

I’m not crying out for sympathy, I’m writing because I am on vacation and I’ve been astounded by just how much sleep I’ve had and continue to need – some days, more than my 85-year-old father.

I’m working down here – plenty of hurricane cleanup, but it’s not like I’ve been felling trees and re-shingling the roof.

My days involve morning coffee while I lie on my heating pad, chores, nap, chores, dinner, bed early. I even fell asleep sitting in the sand on the beach.

Mentally I read through a list of reasons for why I might need so much sleep down here:

humidity?

getting a much-needed rest from working so many long hours at home?

emotional fatigue?

being lulled by the sound of the waves?

dehydration?

Then I think that this pretty similar to how it is when I am at home – the main difference being that I am not working 12 hour days so I do have the luxury to lie down, often.

It freaks me out sometimes. Is it just laziness? Do I not like to do work?

At home I worry about not pulling my weight around our home – because I don’t.

My ex constantly berated me for my unwillingness to work hard (another term for laziness.)

So every time I put my head on the pillow, that voice runs through my brain.

Throw in my ever-present anxiety, and you have the perfect storm.

And yet, I could sleep all day; sometimes I do.

And then I feel slovenly and guilty as fuck.

And ashamed.

But after I read that article, I thought, “Oh yeah, you do have that pain thing going on.”

So then I clicked on a link to yet another article and read these words:

“Am I lazy? No. I can do a load of laundry or cook a meal. I can usually get my son dressed, fed and to school in the morning (though not always); however, it usually means I will need to sit down and rest and recover from a simple tasks that most people take for granted.

Sure, I can take a nap whenever I want. But I never feel rested. It doesn’t matter if I have had two hours, 12 hours or 20 hours of sleep, my body can just never seem to catch up.”

For just a couple of minutes, I was able to let up on myself, show myself a little compassion.

Those warm and fuzzy feelings didn’t last very long because the voices in my head, and the ones that I imagine are screaming in everyone else’s heads, are louder than the more gentle, soft ones.

I will not be a victim to this and will not use it as an excuse.

But, sometimes a valid reason is just that, not an excuse.

A letter

Dear Natalie,

Do you remember that day, a couple of years ago, I think, when we cruised around town, maybe a little bit high, and drank hot chocolate and bought pretty lingerie and then we went to a movie at the theater with the big yellow seats and you brought in your giant bowl of popcorn and told the folks at the theater that you were allergic to the oil they use to pop theirs so you had to bring your own.

You were magnificent.

After the movie, remember, we went to TJ Maxx and you bought cashmere?

What a day.

I bought a skirt that day. Do you recall? You should – you convinced me that I could pull it off.

IMG_2658The tiger skirt.

The Life of Pi skirt.

The pussy skirt.

Thanks to your pep talk and your winning argument, I’ve been wearing the thing pretty regularly and always quite sassily since that day.

I’m the badass with a giant cat face in my lap.

Just like you told me I’d be!

Except…maybe I’m not…

I’ve looked at myself in the mirror, I’ve seen my reflexion, I’ve even felt that if it’s possible to look somewhat sophisticated and fashion forward with two golden eyes staring out from your hip bones, then I look that way.

And then something happened today.

Nat, I wish you’d been there to see the look on our faces (mine and the tiger’s)

Wait, whaaaaaat? you’re screaming right about now.

So, you know how tight skirts ride up when you walk and you either have to walk with your legs squeezed together or stop every few steps to yank the damn thing down?

Well, the tiger, like any other, rode right on up – halfway to indecent – and I caught a glimpse of my passing self as I bustled around the cafe getting breakfast ready.

See Friend, it was dark outside and the lights were on inside and there were windows everywhere so it was almost like being surrounded by full length mirrors.

And that’s when I realized what I wish I’d realized years ago; when the skirt rides up, the mouth of the tiger is right at cootch level and looks like,

a vagina.

A giant vagina.IMG_2659

LOOK AT THAT!!!!!!

Now Natalie, I have to ask you, did you know about this and not say anything? Did you encourage me to purchase a pussy pussy skirt?

Please tell me you didn’t do it on purpose; that you too didn’t see this glaring faux pas.

Honey, I can’t unsee what I saw today. This tiger and I will never look at each other in the same way.

Our relationship has changed.

I spent the day wondering what other people were thinking as they looked at my crotch.

And when you have an enormous face on your crotch you know that people really are looking at it.

I almost died of mortification.

And then, I didn’t.

And then, I giggled.

And then, I thought that it was fucking fantastic.

And part of that was because I kept imagining telling you and your response and us having one more thing to laugh about and that made it totally worth it.

I adore you and miss you.

I will think twice before taking fashion advice from you.

MWAH!

 

 

 

 

The rumor mill

urlJust when I think that my divorce is behind me (relatively speaking since we’re looking at court yet again), my son tells me something that cripples me.

Apparently there were rumors flying around town, rumors that my poor children had to hear, that I had cheated, more than once, on him.

I was embarrassingly faithful. Loyal in the face of his ridicule and contempt. I had married, had taken the ’till death do us part vows, had taken them very seriously.

I would never in a million years put my children through the pain and shame of being the mother who had an affair(s). I would not be that careless

Mentally I couldn’t have handled the secrecy, the deceit.

I am honest to a fault.

I loved this man. As f-ed as our marriage was, I was determined that love would conquer all. Every day I woke up and reminded myself of the good and tried to hang on to those thoughts through the bad.

Then I wonder how the rumors began – was it him? Did he tell people that I cheated? Now, seeing what he is capable of, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, but back then, he was in such a hurry to leave that I don’t think he wouldn’t have taken the time to stop to gossip.

I feel betrayed by my community. It really hurt to hear this – even though it was years ago. I wonder if the gossipers paused to think about what it would do to my children to hear this trash in the middle of their lives imploding.

I question if folks finally realized that it wasn’t true, or if they still believe it but have moved on.

I feel sullied.

But really, the ironic thing about it all is that he left me for another woman.

adolescent boy humor

If you want to retain any sense of respect for me, stop now.

I’m about to expose my utter lack of maturity.

I have a poop story to tell.

If you’d like to accompany me to the land of gross, come on. If not, see you tomorrow.

Elvis Aaron Presley The Dog and I went to the park for a walk in the snow.

He does this really weird thing when he poops; he likes to prop his butt up high on a clump of snow. It’s awkward for him and fascinating to me.

So today, after he finished he stepped down from his butt rest and there was a dingleberry still tethered to him by maybe a long hair or something. I couldn’t see.

It doesn’t matter what it was, the important thing is that the anal hair allowed this piece of shit fly around and smack him in the ass when he started to take off.

He jumped, like, 3 feet in the air, where, of course, it hit him again, so then he hunkered down, cowering in the face of this relentless turd.

Did I help him?

You’ve gotta be kidding.

I was too busy losing my shit.

51+g8FyjTGL._SX425_

Melancholy

Sometimes I find it so distressing that I am, once again, fighting melancholy. It happens so often.

“How often is often?” you ask…let’s say an average of 3 – 6 days a week.

“That’s kind of fucked up,” you might think.

Yes, yes it is.

And this is me on medication.

And this is me with the strength of a fucking ox.

This is me, sitting in my bed, wanting to crawl under the covers, maybe watch Mean Girls, or maybe that would take too much effort and I could just absent-mindedly surf Facebook taking tests to find out who my mythological spirit animal is, but instead, I am writing this, knowing that as soon as I hit “publish” I will get up, go downstairs, help with dinner, play with the dog (who will definitely know that I am faking it) and act like everything is fine.

And it will be for a while – it will get my mind off of…my mind. No one will know the Herculean will that it has taken to eat a steak, fresh off the steer and grilled to perfection just for me. No one will know the craving I have for solitude and escape

Why not just give in to it tonight?

A myriad of reasons, most of which boil down to shame or fear.

I am ashamed for anyone to know that I feel this blue when nothing has happened today to make me feel this way.

I am embarrassed for MCB who is generally very content, to see me like this for no apparent reason.

I am afraid that if he does know how I feel tonight, he will, like my ex-husband, decide that I am either psychosomatic or just a drag and leave.

I am afraid for my children to see me sad because they were witness to my nervous breakdown years ago and I never want them to have to either worry about or navigate through that again.

Which leads to the holy terror that I feel when I think that letting go, giving in, for even one evening, will cause a spiral into the depths of mental and emotional hell and that I don’t know if I will ever be able to crawl out again.

I am afraid if I take or do anything to escape that I won’t be “dealing with my feelings” which will result in my severe dysfunction as an adult along with a full-blown drug addiction.

I am afraid that if I give in, it means that the medication that I do take isn’t working, that my sadness is too much for it.

I am ashamed that I am medicated.

I am ashamed of what others would think of me if they knew the truth.

I am afraid of others expressing their opinions to me, about me.

My desire to check out and sit on my ass is mortifying in a world where my friends are always game to do something. It shames me that I would rather hide in my bedroom than spend the evening with my fabulous children. I fear that if I do actually do that, then tomorrow something will happen to one of them and I will forever live with the guilt that I wasted this night “feeling sorry for myself.”

So, I’m wrapping up this post; I can smell the grill. Guess I’m going to go play with the dog.

Look at what happens when you try to do something nice for your kids.

He needs gas money. He hasn’t been able to work.

So at lunch, I figure I’ll just run by his car and put some money in there.

And lo and behold…The Crown Royal bag lands on the floor when I open the glove box.

Ef. You. See. Kay.

(translation: FUCKFUCKFUCKITYFUCKFUCK)

Text: “I put gas money in your glove compartment next to the Crown Royal bag. Apparently we need to talk.”

No response.

“Are you saying fuck right now?”

Then I get a call at work, “It’s not mine. It’s X’s – I told him he could put it in my car so he didn’t get in trouble taking weed into the school.”

“Oh, okay. I feel much better now.”

Yeah, seriously.

“But honey, please tell X TO FIND ANOTHER CAR!!!!!!”

Jesusmaryandjoseph.

A better thing to do with the CR Bag

A better thing to do with the CR Bag

Selfish Selfish Selfish

One child lost his Social Security benefits (but didn’t lose his disability) and the appeal has been going on for 6 months. We need to plan his future and get him a driver’s license and teach him how to balance a checkbook.

The next one, the off-the-charts brilliant one, is putting in minimal effort, getting mediocre grades and now his teachers are calling me in to discuss behavioral problems in the classroom.  I got word this morning that he threw up in his friend’s bunk bed after too much to drink at the Homecoming party.

The third is apparently not having the football season that he needs to have if he’s going to get recruited and can’t afford college without some scholarship money. He’s got a mom flirting with him and potentially sending him boobie-photos.

Get me the fuck out of here.

I want to think about me. I want to read my book, write my memoir, get a massage, and run away to the desert, ALL. BY. MYSELF.

I want to not think about anyone else.  I want to paint my nails and think about having another cup of coffee and where I will run.

I don’t want to worry about anyone else. I don’t want to be constantly trying to fix, help, or encourage. I don’t want to brainstorm for another.

Sick of teacher meetings, coach meetings, guidance counselor meetings.

Last night I had to make the choice: Write another letter to the Federal Government, rage against my oh so underachieving child, or find out if there is a sexual predator pursuing my handsome child.

Child being the operative word here.

I chose that one – seemed like the most urgent.

Looks like it was nothing.

So relieved that I completely blew off the others. Figured there was so much shit going on that one more day wouldn’t matter.

Especially when I have no interest in dealing with any of it.

Is there anyone out there who wants to take over for a little while?

There is a Guardian Angel

“Mom, you’re not Christian or Mexican, why are you so into Jesus candles?”

“You know Buddy, just in case.”

Who knows if it does me any good, but I figure it can’t do us any harm, and last night felt like a Guardian Angel was looking over my family so, I’m going to keep on lighting them…

…just in case.

It was the night of the Homecoming Dance, and hand in hand, the Homecoming after-party.

Back story here:

My boys are teenagers. We live in a small redneck town where kids drink Coors Light, chew Copenhagen, and go mudding in the mountains in their big trucks. I was a teenager once and made a LOT of really stupid choices. My children have made a lot of stupid choices. So have their friends. Their father, a recovering alcoholic, thinks that a “talk” here and there about the dangers of drinking, especially with their genetics, is keeping them from imbibing in said alcohol.

So the way I look at parenting them during these years, given the above factors, I have 3 choices; tell them not to drink and think that they won’t, thus having them lying and sneaking all over the county with a beer in hand; cruelly forbid them to ever leave the house just so I feel safe; or be totally realistic and hope that a policy of transparency will keep them honest and maybe a bit more careful if they’re not having to lurk around behind my back.

Since Dad has gone for number 1, and number 2 just isn’t fair since they haven’t done enough to warrant its implementation, I’ve opted for number 3.

Number 3 is great when sitting around the dining room table, me being the cool mom.  It’s a whole other story on a Saturday night when they are making plans to go to the mountains with 235 of their closest stupid friends to drink beer and Fireball, at two o’clock in the morning.

Which was last night’s post-homecoming plan.

So many things were freaking me out about it, yet I chose to let them go: with stipulations.

No drinking to vomiting status.

No taking advantage of drunken girls.

No drinking and driving.

Curfew.

First one, I just had to keep my fingers crossed that they too believe that Vomiting Isn’t Fun.

Second – I just trust them. Should I? I certainly hope so.

Third – I offered, as I always do, to do the driving for them. I always agree to drive up to the mountains at extremely-early-in-the-morning (like 2) to pick them up to guarantee that they won’t get in a car with a “sober” driver.

I remember one night that I was the “sober” driver – I was chosen because I was the one in the group who’d only eaten one hit of acid instead of two.

Curfew – Of course they don’t want one. Of course they’re going to get one.

“Can we just spend the night up there?”

Fuck. No.

So they asked if they could spend the night at a friends’.

“Is this your way of getting out of having a curfew?”

“Yes.”

Remember, I have asked for total transparency.

And, I said “Sure.”

Crazy, right? It just seemed so much easier having another parent involved, even if it was one who was going to let them stay out all night.  It gave me the opportunity to turn a blind eye.

And I took it.

God I love denial.

It didn’t mean that I wouldn’t stress, freak out, lose sleep, etc. But in saying “yes” I hoped that they would be able to say “no” if necessary.

Another part of the equation was this:

Friend wouldn’t be drinking or driving like an idiot because he’ on probation and has to take a pee test tomorrow and the truck is his dad’s and if he messed it up, we’d all be running for the hills to avoid the wrath.

“I wish I felt okay about this because I trust Friend to make smart choices, not because he’s made so many dumb choices that he can longer afford to make more. But I’ll take what I can get.”

And then, I received this text: No one wants to go to the mountains, it’s too cold and too much driving. So just a few of us are going to go to Friend’s to hang out.

No stupid driving on stupid mountain roads with stupid drunk teenagers. No wondering if the cops (who always know when there is party in the mountains) will show up and issue my children MIP’s (minor in possession).

They go one place, where they will stay, with parental supervision, right in town.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Have fun. Have a great night.

And there is proof that a Guardian Angel does exist and thank the heavens above that I lit that Jesus candle yesterday.

Unforgivable????

I did something today that I could never have imagined doing.

I am a keeper of strays – always have been. Love the underdog.

I’ve had cats and dogs from shelters, the Walmart parking lot, a burlap bag in the river, under my trailer/office, the Farmers’ Market, and the reservation.

I’ve even taken in a stray child or two and can never turn down a stray plant.

Given my history, I completely went against every thread of my being and did an abominable thing…

…I took a cat to the shelter.

And left him.

And lied and said he was a stray because I was too ashamed to admit that I was actually just giving up one of my pets to whom I’d committed a lifetime of love and protection.

It was the Walmart parking lot kitty – the one who has slowly gone a little bit nutty, ultimately pushing me way over the edge last night.

It’s been building. He suffers from anxiety and it has been impacting the quality of his (and our) daily life.

He has become skittish, unpredictable, and a yowler.

Where other cats Meow, this one wails; long, mournful, agonizing, howls of angst that no amount of screaming or ignoring can stop.

Not all the time – I’ll give him that.  He has moments where is is actually kind of cute. Those moments are what have made it impossible to do what I did.

Until today.

He spent half the night outside our bedroom door singing his mournful tune. I finally got up at 3:00 am to see what was wrong.

Apparently nothing.

Then, when I let another cat inside, he ran out. We have a cardinal rule in our house; the misfit does not get to go outside at night because he can’t handle it. He’s okay for about 30 minutes and then he positions himself below our bedroom window, which is also below our neighbors’, and the yowling begins.  It is incessant – he doesn’t even stop to breathe – until I let him back in.

Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed to open the door.

Once, I tried to ignore him. A neighbor threw a rock at my house.

So, he’s outside, the wailing is fingernails on the chalkboard, and MCB snores away.

Later that morning (5:00 am) I’m crabby ass and bitchy from my shit night and next thing I know, MCB and I are having an uncomfortable conversation about screaming cats, getting a dog, pet responsibility, etc.

I got in the shower and thought, “I am miserable, I have no affection for this cat, the last thing any of the children said to him was ‘go away’, and he is now impacting my relationship.”

“I’m done.”

MCB and I talked, we both felt cruel, irresponsible and cold-hearted. MCB is a little bit attached to this one and not at all to the others (go figure). But we finally came to the conclusion that this really isn’t working.

I had to do it immediately, without thought or feeling.  If I hesitated for even a split second, I would be spending another 100 nights bitching in the middle of the night.

I left work, went home and the second I walked in the door, he hid. Found him, got the bejesus clawed out of my arms and right leg, but finally got him into the favored form of transport: the pillowcase.

I put him in the way-back of the truck and listened to him yowl all the way to the shelter. I could hear it over the sound of the motor, the wind, and the radio.

After I got to the shelter and lied about the “stray” in the back of my truck, the gal and I went out to get him.  He had shredded the pillowcase. My brain said, “Good riddance,” my heart said, “Oh, poor baby.”

Brain won out over heart.

I drove away, did a bit of retail therapy (got a fabulous purple dress) and went for a run.

“I’m fine” I thought.

I am actually not fine, but trying hard to get there.

When I got home, I knew the kids wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t around, probably wouldn’t for another week.  So I thought that it would be better for me to just tell them.

“Are you kidding, Mom? That’s so mean.”

“Really?  I actually liked him – he was part of the family.”

“Why did you only get rid of one?”

That was Bobby – he wants a husky.

So now, of course, I am second guessing myself. I am wondering how much this event will cost in therapy for my children later in life, and thinking that everyone in the household is afraid of being the next victim of my sociopathic cruelty.

 

 

TBI

Stands for Traumatic Brain Injury.

Translation: Concussion.

Cause: Helmet to Helmet hit on the football field.

Necessary Action: Go to the Doctor.

Treatment: Time off the Line.

Reaction: “It’s all your fault, Mom.”

Yep. I’m the one who insisted on him playing football, even though he begged to sing in the choir instead.  I am also the one who told him he was a puss and needed to hit a whole lot harder. I refused to listen to his complaints about having a headache for over a week. Oh wait, he didn’t complain because I told him to lie about the headache and deny that he had one. I also stubbornly didn’t agree with him that he knows more than the ER Doc and doesn’t have a concussion. And I am definitely the driving force behind the national movement to save athletes from long-term brain damage by implementing more rigid protocols for allowing those athletes back on the field after a hard knock.

Obviously, All. My. Fault.

After yesterday’s second doctor appointment for the head, the appointment wherein the doctor said, “Yes, it is a concussion. No, you shouldn’t have been playing last week. Yes, you should have told your mother and coach about the headaches. No, you’re not going back in this week. And, yes, TBIs are very serious,” we walked out to the car in a torrential rainstorm, the silence between us thickening with each falling drop.

I unlocked my door and got in the car.  He pressed his face against the window saying “Are you serious?” as I decided if I would let him in or not.

I begrudgingly did.

As we drove home I said, “Now is the time to say, thank you, Mom, for caring so much about my well-being. I am sorry, Mom, that I yelled at you and accused you of ruining everything for me…”

Then, “…repeat after me, ‘I. Was. Wrong.'”

“I can’t say those words, Mom. Not in my lexicon.”

‘Wrong’ isn’t, but ‘lexicon’ is?

I rolled down the window on his side (Love power windows.  Also love the child-lock.) I figured a good dousing would at least make me feel better.

It did.

He laughed.

He still can’t utter the word ‘wrong’, but I think he gets the message.