Monthly Archives: February 2010

Shiny, Pretty Distractions

I have OCD issues with one interesting outlier:  I tend to be easily sidetracked.  When I am having a conversation, I will follow a different thought until its logical conclusion, and then I will return to the main discussion.  Or, I will use the tangent to launch a completely different subject altogether.  Part of this is because I see issues as being complex, interconnected, and not easily separated.  Part of it is because my mind thinks of a hundred things at one time, and I want to talk about all of them simultaneously.

It’s evident in my writing as well.  My blog entries contain an average of 1,500 (fair warning.  I completely made that up, but it seems about right) words each.  That’s a shitload of gabbing on one subject.  And, I usually have a main thesis for each entry, but from there, my thoughts diverge.  I don’t really have a problem with the way I think or talk or write, but it does lead to the main point of this entry.

Getting distracted in my blog entries is fine.  Taking a side road when I’m having a discussion with a friend about politics or what’s going on in our personal lives is also fine.  However, now that I am struggling to leave the old me behind and find a new way of being, I can’t afford to get bogged down with extraneous shit.

For example, my mother.  In my last therapy session, I was talking with my therapist about my frustrations with falling into the same patterns when talking with my mother.  In fact, it’s the last thing I blogged about as well.  I explained how the interaction would typically occur, and I concluded by saying how mad I was at myself for caving so easily.  My mother wears me down by her indefatigable vigor in complaining until I give in.  I know that the longer I argue, the harder she’s going to push for me to do whatever it is she wants me to do.   It’s the same damn thing every fucking time.

My therapist thought for a minute and said, “What prevents you from talking about the process rather than the content?”  In other words, why didn’t I say, “Mom, I know you would prefer I do it for you.  However, you are not hearing me when I say that I choose not to do it.”  It’s even better if I can say it without shouting it, but I’m not holding out hope for that just yet because I get so frustrated when talking to my mother.

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Growing Pains

Many years ago, I performed a piece called Shedding Skins.  It was about how as we mature, we change our beliefs.  I had on different personae outfits that I shed as I did the piece.  At the end, I recited a poem I wrote and stripped down to my panties.  I left the panties on because there’s always change in the future.  It was a smashing success, if I do say so myself, and I have found myself thinking about that performance when I contemplated today’s blog entry.

Obviously, this is a time of great change for me.  The problem is, the old behaviors no longer work for me, but I don’t have anything with which to replace them yet.  There was a glitch with my mother’s credit card for an auto pay (for, ironically enough, auto insurance).  I was pretty clear that she needed to take care of it because it’s her credit card, damn it.   She, however, has a thing about doing this kind of thing.  She says it’s because of the time difference, but I know it is more than that.  At any rate, she called last night to talk about it, and I–oh, wait.

I had my therapy session yesterday morning.  I wrote a letter in response to my mother’s letter (while studiously ignoring my father’s letter).  For the most part, I am going to tell my mom that we should talk about it in person the next time she is in the States.  Then, my therapist and I talked about my mother’s reaction to any problem (playing out the worst-case scenario and coming up with a zillion reasons why she positively, absolutely cannot do anything about it).  My therapist said that when my mom starts going into her programmed response, I need to think to myself, “Oh, this is my mother’s issue.  It’s how she deals with things.  It’s not personal.”  Now, this is a great thing to observe.  It really is my mother’s way of dealing with problems, and she is consistent in that she responds that way every damn time.

Back to the phone call.  We started talking about who should take care of the problem.  The problem being that her new card has a different number than the old one.  She knew that because she had problems with it before, but she didn’t think about how it would affect her auto pays.  She has many bills on auto pay, so it was a potential nightmare.  I said because it was her card, she had to take care of it.  She started whining (yes, whining) about why she couldn’t.  First it was the time difference (I said to call the toll-free number at any time).  Then, it was how she didn’t have time to sit on the phone and wait for fifteen minutes as she got transfered from person to person to person.  I said she was pulling out the worst-case scenario, and I started getting angry.  All thoughts of how it’s her issue and the way she deals with things flew right out of my head, and I fell back into my own habit of becoming stubborn, sullen, and recalcitrant.   Then she talked about how she hurt this and hurt that and how it was hard to blah blah blah.   She wanted me to call and then if I couldn’t handle it, she would see what she could do.  That seemed backwards to me as I thought she should try first and then I would handle it if she couldn’t get it done.

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A Tangible Expression of Love

Me.  The Quilt.i have a twin in spirit
her name is Kel
i haven’t met her in person yet
but one day soon, i will.
she knows i am struggling
so she sent me a Sekrit Weapon
i can wrap it around me when i sleep
so the demons cannot get in.
she poured her heart and love
into every colorful square
i can feel her with me
even when she’s not there.
she sewed in a part of her soul
and part of mine as well
united, the two of us
can conquer all kinds of hell.
tears fill my eyes
as i snuggle beneath the quilt
it means more to me
than any gold or gilt.
i am touched, humbled and awed
she would do such an amazing thing
Kel, i thank you profusely
you have captured my spirit within.

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One Foot After the Other

I had a tough session today.  My therapist told me things I did not want to hear, but they needed to be said.  Let me be clear that my therapist cares very deeply about me.  She also won’t put up with my shit.  Which is good because I am very good at throwing out shit that sounds reasonable even when it’s not.

I told her about my suicidal thoughts.  I told her I was thinking more about suicide.  We talked a bit about that, and then, well, let me back up.  I first talked about how me being depressed for the past umpteen years had served a purpose in our family.  If my family could focus on what’s wrong with Minna, then we never had to look to see what was wrong with the family in general.  And believe me when I tell you that there is a lot wrong with my family.

So.  I bought Ballboy on Thursday.  I will post a pic at some time, but not right now.  This was a tangible step for me, a way to assert that I have tastes that I will now openly express.   It was, if I may say,  a bold step for me, and I felt good about it.  Almost immediately following the purchase, I was filled with sorrow, grief, and the suicidal ideation started.

This is what my therapist said.  I have substituted suicidal ideation for my depression.  She validated the grief and sorrow I am feeling, but she added that if I start obsessing about being suicidal, then I can say, “I can’t possibly think about getting a job because I’m suicidal.”   whabs actually hit it on the head when she said that I want people to call me crazy.  I’m not doing it on purpose, but that’s the underlying rationale.  If I can label myself as the patient, then I have to be taken care of, and I don’t have to take care of myself.

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The Slow Reveal

All right.  Today, I am going to start by doing something I rarely do:  I am going to pat myself on the back.  I have a difficult time congratulating myself when I do something good, so I have decided to do that now.  Here.  In the first paragraph of this entry.  I have two things to share.  Gulp.

#1 (OK, this is the second paragraph.  I lied.  Deal).  My mom’s magnum opus went through the process at a very fast-pace and is now accepted to be published.   Why am I patting myself on the back for this?  Because I worked my ass off on it, and that shit looked good.  I had an interactive (or whatever it’s called) table of contents (if I updated the chapters, I could automatically update the TOC, too) and everything.  I mean, damn.  That was some of my best editing work ever.  I really hit the ball out of the park with this one.  Yes, a second round of edits is coming up, and yes, I made a few mistakes, but overall, I did a kick-ass job.  Pat, pat, pat.

#2.  In the last three weeks, I have lost an inch-and-a-half around my waist, which translates to 7.5 pounds.  This is exactly how much I lose each week whenever I start losing weight.  I had forgotten how…not easy…steady the loss is in the beginning.  I won’t say easy because it’s been damn hard work.  Still.  It’s been a nice little boost to pull out the tape-measure (I don’t do scales) and see the steady loss.

Now that that is out of the way, I would like to say that once I am done with my mother’s magnum opus and a couple other things I am doing for her right now (including booking her flight to Colorado because apparently the interwebs is too tough for her, and no, Mom, I do not want to go with you to your conference), we will be setting some very clear delineations between what is my job and what isn’t.  When we started working on her magnum opus, we just said I would edit the thing.  That was it.  Oh, it also included re-typing her thesis because that was lost in the Great Hard Drive Crash of Aught…Something.  We only had hard copies, so re-type it I would.  That was part of the deal, and it was only seventy-some pages, so whatever.

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Weight of My Tears

First of all, I would like to say to the companies who spend a bajillion dollars on the Super Bowl ads:  It’s not a smart idea to alienate a good chunk of your prospective consumers by creating such fucking misogynistic ads.  Yeah, I’m looking at you, Bridgestone, for whomever the fuck Jim Nantz was pimping, and…damn it, the car commercial that said for all the things a man does for his woman, he gets to drive whatever the fuck he wans.  Plus, Dockers, and all the other manly men commercials.  It’s ironic that as more and more women are watching sports, the commercials get more and more sexist.  Or should I say, stupid?

With that off my chest, way to go, Saints!

OK.  Enough sports talk.

I met up with my best friend, Kiki, last night.  I love hanging with her because we are like two peas in a pod, only she’s much more positive than I am.  We are soul sisters.  We can go for months without talking, and when we see each other again, we pick up right where we left off.

When we talked about the letters my parents sent me, she got mad.  It’s been gratifying to see the responses of my friends because I can’t summon up anything other than grief, guilt, shame, and a teeny bit of anger at my father for throwing in the bit about how much the trip cost.  For the most part, though, I am weighted down by the crushing sadness.

I look at my hands, and it’s as though they are dissolving in front of my eyes.  The visage that I have created, the 3D hologram of me is crumbling–and I can’t do anything to stop it.

Kiki couldn’t believe that my parents would send me those letters so soon after the trip to Taiwan and that they specifically linked it to the trip.  She said, “Don’t they know how much you sacrificed to go?”  That hit me hard because it underscored the whole fucking dynamics of my family.

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And Bad Mistakes, I’ve Made a Few

I am incredibly sad right now.

I had to throw that out there because it’s the prevailing feeling I have.  Well, along with the emotional fatigue, that is.

I can’t stop thinking about how my family is falling apart.  And, right or wrong, I can’t help thinking it’s all my fault.  Oh, I know it’s folly because there has not been more than an illusion of an intact family for a very long time.  I have a self-selecting memory (for the negative, unfortunately), but I would be hard-pressed to remember fondly many warm family memories.

When I look back on the trip to Taiwan, I see that it’s a perfect microcosm of the family dynamics in general.  I really didn’t want to go because I wasn’t sure how I would react to my father after the flashbacks.

No.  I have to be honest.  I did not want to go at all.  As I have mentioned, my family does not work well at the best of times.  Family vacations are always filled with tension, snapping, bickering, and differing ideas of what we should do.  It’s rare that the four of us are in the same place at one time, and quite frankly, it’s better that way.   My parents have been after my brother and me for years to go visit them in Taiwan.  I finally gave in because my brother said that he and my niece would go.

Anyway, even if I hadn’t been dealing with the flashbacks, I still would have had a difficult time because I feel like I have to completely remove my personality when I’m around my family.  I don’t swear; I don’t talk about sex; I don’t discuss politics or religion; I try very hard not to offer my opinion on anything.  Considering that I got laughed at by my brother and his neighbor for commenting that I take my cats to the vet every year, I really don’t have much to say.

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Reluctant Realizations

I am an adult.

I wanted to start out with that because I don’t often feel like an adult, and I don’t always act like one, either.   In addition, I don’t get treated like one in my family, especially when the whole family is together.  Once the baby, always the baby, I guess.

Secondly, I am punch-drunk stupid exhausted, so I apologize ahead of time if my words are less coherent than usual.  My sleep, quite frankly, sucks.  This is purely due to the stress.  I have taken to napping on the couch with my boys rather than sleeping in my bed, and I snatch a few hours here and there whenever I can.  They, of course, are delighted to be able to snooze with me.  It comforts me to have them snuggle with me, but then I wake up with sore eyes (I’m allergic, which is why they are not allowed in my bedroom).

I had my therapy session yesterday.  It was tough, but needed.  I realized some hard truths that I have been reluctant to put into words before now.   I brought print-outs of the letters from my parents to my session–the first time I’ve ever brought any communique to a session.  My therapist read the letters, and then we talked about them.  It tickled me to hear her say, “There’s a lot of shit in these letters” because she doesn’t swear very often.  True to her profession, after reading the letters, she wanted to know about what I wanted to talk.

We talked about my father’s letter first.  She called it predictable, and it really was.  All the stuff about responsibility to society was typical, but missing the point.  And, I realized that even though his letter was meaner in a way, it didn’t bother me as much.  Why?  Because I expect nothing less from him.  I was surprised he tossed the monetary figure in there because he’s not usually one to talk about how much things cost, but the rest of the letter was pretty standard for him.

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It’s Over

I got an email from my mother today.   After imparting news, she informs me that after the ‘fun memories’ of my visit to Taiwan have faded, she and my father have gotten around to talking about me and my life.  This is never a good thing.  Never, ever, ever.  She attached two letters to the email, one from her and one from my father.  So, she wanted me to read her letter first, and then my father’s (because she’s a control freak like me, she has to direct the order in which I read the letters).  With a sense of foreboding, I opened her letter.

In a nutshell, she talks about me becoming self-reliant, how I am grotesquely fat and negative in my outlook, and that while she is perfectly happy to continue our arrangement concerning the house, she would like to include as a stipulation that I spend an hour a day (or something like that) reading ‘life-affirming’ material, preferably the Bible.  She closed with a Bible verse that she and my father particularly like.  I will confess that I did not read the verse.  I would also like to say that I don’t find the Bible to be particularly life-affirming, but that is neither here nor there.

Then, I opened my father’s letter.  If I had a sense of foreboding before opening my mom’s letter, it’s nothing compared to what was going through me as I opened my father’s.  His talked about our responsibility to society and the environment.  Then, he basically called me a leech on society.  He ended with, “We spent _______ money on your trip to Taiwan.  A family in Taiwan could live ______ time off that amount.  We were happy to do it, but are you happy?”

My immediate response was to get physically ill and go straight for that dark place that is deep within me.  I have been struggling since returning to the States as to not giving into the darkness, and the letters from my parents may very well have pushed me over the edge.  I already think I’m a fat, ugly, worthless piece of shit (though I have had moments where I’ve transcended that), and my parents reinforced every belief.  As Alex likes to say, the reason our parents are so good at pushing our buttons is because they fucking installed them.  OK, he might not have said fucking, but I’m sure he meant it.  And boy, did my parents push every single goddamn button I have.  Every one.

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Damn It, I Already Used that Title

I was going to call this entry Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes, but I already used that title while I was in Taiwan.  Still, it really is what I wanted to call this entry, so read on with that in mind.

I hate changes.  I know that many people don’t like them, but I hate them.  Part of it is my OCD issues, but most of it is that in the past, changes were rarely good things.  Or, to be completely honest, most of the changes I experienced, I viewed as negative in retrospect.  Whether they were actually negative at the time, the jury is still out on that.

Let me backtrack for a minute.  When I first fell into a deep depression, I sharply whittled away my world so that it could fit in my pocket.  I didn’t feel as if I had any control, so the only way to deal with that was to cut out all the extraneous shit that I couldn’t handle.   The problem with that, of course, was that every day, there seemed to be more that I could not handle, so I would continue to cut cut cut (sometimes literally) away.  Depending on how stable I was, that world included a few very close friends whom I saw more not than often, performing, a job, and, for a whole year, school in another state.  It included a four-year, long-distance relationship, and it included a lot of self-destructive habits.

Why the small world?  In a word:  Fear.  Anything out of my routine terrified and overwhelmed me.  To me, the world was a cruel, cruel place which showed no mercy.  I didn’t believe in God, but if I did, it would be the mean, punishing, horribly petty God of the Old Testament who thrived on making people miserable.  OK, I did believe in God (at least in theory) at that time, and He was exactly like the mean old bastard who never has a kind word to say or a deed to do for anyone.  A bitter old man who wants everyone else to hurt as much as he does.   That was my view of God, and if He had created the world in His image, then fuck the world, I wanted to get off.

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