Physical & Emotional

scars

 

“There are so many secret wounds, so many types of hidden scars. The soul, being stronger than we think, can survive all mutilations and the marks upon it make it perfect and complete.”

This is from the PBS series Call The Midwife Season 6 episode 6. I love this series because of all of the stories of true life. It’s not just in today’s society we see aweful injustices on women. It’s been happening for years, behind closed doors, victims kept silent.

The ending spoken narrative, stuck with me. Something to reflect on.

 

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Blogiversary

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I started this blog one year ago in an effort to work through my past and present realities. I’ve grown in knowledge based on putting my feelings and experiences into words. I’ve made some amazing “blogging” friends who have similar experiences in life. I’ve even managed to piss some people off.

My goal was to create a space where I could raise awareness to CPTSD, and it evolved from there. I wish I could be writing more currently, but my health isn’t allowing it. My “brain fog” is a mother fucker at its best. So while I’m not able to put feelings and thoughts into words, I’m still going to do my best to raise awareness.

Thank you to those of you who have been loyal readers, without you…I have no voice.

No Contact… Ever Again…

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I used to love rollercoasters as a kid, wild ups and downs, unsuspecting turns, feelings of no control and the chance to get back in line to do it again. Not so much as an adult now, in fact I’ll never get on one again.  Now that I’ve experienced grief on many levels, I don’t care for the uncertainty the grief ride leaves me feeling.

When mom died it wasn’t the first time I grieved her loss. This first time was when she became an alcoholic and there was no option for sobriety in sight. She’d been through 3 different rehabs and walked out of them all. The grief of accepting that my mom would never “be” my mom again was a hard acceptance to swallow.  I tried the NC (no contact) method, but she would call me at work, page me constantly, show up at my house unannounced and made it impossible.  I searched for counseling and worked through that loss, but I still had hope that a miracle would happen. Accepting that I couldn’t save her was really hard, since I’m the caretaker in the family and it’s my best co-dependent trait, I felt like a failure.

As her alcoholism got worse, so did her narcissism.  She was a destructive force that triangulated through all aspects of my life and I never felt free. I honestly had moments where I wished she’d just die.  Ignorantly assuming once she was gone, so would the pain she inflicted on us daily. I was honest once about this with whom I thought was a close friend and she berated me over the coals.  My therapist knew I felt this way and she validated my feelings and helped me see that I wasn’t the only person in the history of the world to feel that way.

When mom died my Sis and I both had the same reaction. Immediate sadness, pain and crying…combined with a sense of relief and freedom. What a fucked up feeling!  To be sad yet relieved a person has died is like cooking oil and gasoline…the two don’t mix! Highly flammable! In all honesty we both started to sing “ding dong the witch is dead” and then cried in anger that she made us feel that way. We felt guilty.

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The first month was sadness and a feeling of emptiness. I think I walked around in a state of shock and couldn’t believe a person could grieve twice for the same person. Then my friend who berated me earlier for wishing for her death called me to see how I was doing, then arrogantly stated “Well you can’t take that wish back now can ya? Hope you learned something from such a hateful thing to say.”  WOW!  That was helpful, I’d prefer you just shit in my Cheerios next time.  Then I sat back and realized…this friend was just like my mother.  Interesting how we attract what we know.

Grief may have 5 stages to it, but those stages don’t go in any particular order, no time frame, unknowingly hits you at the oddest times and circle back around.  Grief combined with PTSD, depression and severe anxiety is a cocktail for destruction. I went through one of the deepest depressions of my life.  When I didn’t have my son with me I’d stay in bed all day binge watching Trading Spaces. Cry uncontrollably. Then go out in the evening and get sauced at the local watering hole.

I’d pick up the phone often and call her house when I knew Larry wasn’t there, just to hear her voice on the voicemail.  Wear her perfume just to smell her, or her sweater to feel like she was wrapping her arms around me.  It was a deep loving grief. Until the reading of the Will.

Larry was 12 years older than Joan, he almost died several times, so Joan thought he’d clearly die before her.  Her Will was not outlined for me and Sis, just that Larry would decide what we could have. Going into their 8 year marriage mom had a 401k of $150k and $80k in equity from the sale of our childhood home, plus $50k from our grandmother’s estate. Larry had a monthly pension, social security, $75k in home equity and $500k in retirement funds. Let’s just say he didn’t need our mothers money…but he kept it. He wrote Sis and I a check for $10k each and told us to get her things out of his house and that was it.  Bought his grown children all new cars and gambled and drank the rest away.  Larry is a douche bag, plain and simple. Sad excuse of a human being that went from being our high school Principal to a greedy dirty old man with no conscience.

Our anger vacillated from him to mom minute by minute, how could she be so stupid, did she do it out of hate, how could he be so greedy, what in the hell was she thinking?  Money isn’t everything, but being a single mom, living in a tiny house with no retirement plan nor college fund in place, our rightful inheritance would have been very helpful.  That was 16 years ago and I still shake my head in disbelief. Ever see Mommy Dearest? She left her children NOTHING! This is why my mother’s name is Joan in this blog, she fits the role beautifully.

Through anger, disgust, hate and bitterness…you’ll still catch me wearing her perfume, her sweater or her favorite necklace. I still talk to her, sometimes I yell at her and sometimes I cry for her.  I miss her dearly and I’m so relieved she’s not here fucking with me on a daily basis.

Larry died about 6 years back, heart failure caused his lungs to fill with fluid, he basically drowned…good. Some day I’ll find his grave and I WILL piss on it…mark my words.

Not very Christian of me is it?  Well I’m not perfect, if I was I’d be Jesus, so all I can do is ask you to pray for me.

I’m Sorry Mom, But You’re Dying

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It was a midsummer morning, I was just pulling away from my house headed for work, and I became extremely uneasy and concerned for my mom. I was 30 years old and working as a nurse, three weeks prior mom had turned jaundice due to cirrhosis of her liver from alcoholism, so I knew her time was limited.

I drove to her house and looked inside the windows. I could see that her husband was gone, most likely took the early bus to the casino, but her purse was on the counter. I grabbed the hidden front door key and let myself in, as I did I announced myself, hoping not to startle her yet praying she’d answer.  When she didn’t answer, my heart was pounding as I inched up the stairs to her room. There was an awful smell and I just wanted to run, I was so scared.

I found her in her room sitting on her couch, awake, breathing but sitting in about 3 days worth of bodily waste and vomit. She had no idea who I was and couldn’t speak, she just mumbled. She had a half bottle of vodka by her side and nothing else. It appeared her husband was coming and going each day to the casino and ignoring her current condition.  I calmly called for an ambulance for transport to the hospital, not because I knew they could save her, but I sure as shit wasn’t leaving her to die that way in filth and neglect.

I didn’t leave a note for her husband, he didn’t deserve to know where she was. My sis was in Mexico on vacation and I had no way of reaching her. I had to handle this on my own, which I preferred because I didn’t need the rest of the drama from everyone else. There were 1 out of 100 casino’s her husband could have been at, no way of locating him. Basically the ER doctor did what he could based on her current condition and that was to make her comfortable, admitted her directly to their Hospice unit and there I sat staring at her unresponsive body. Her body was full of toxins and she wasn’t expected to wake up, after a couple of days during her “sleep” she woke straight up and was asking the nurse what was happening. The nurse called me right away.

I rushed right over and it was about 10 o’clock in the morning, her doctor wouldn’t be in until that evening and I couldn’t have her sitting there in fear wondering what was happening to her. She needed to know she was dying, but I wasn’t about to let some stranger explain this to her. Her husband was once again out at a casino, wasn’t about to wait for his sorry ass to show up for this critical conversation. I went into her room and sat down on her bed, Joan was as lucid as she could ever be, it was an unexplainable reality. I made small talk asking her how she felt, if she recalled anything from the past few days, trying to gauge her level of orientation. I finally conjured up the courage to tell her where her physical condition was really at and death was imminent.

“Mom you’ve been here in the hospital for 3 days now, I found you at home alone, incoherent and very ill. After many tests and evaluations it is determined that your liver has completely stopped working. This condition is not reversible  and you are expected to die with the next couple of days to couple of weeks.” Then with a deep breath I waited for her response.

She also took a deep breath, looked around the room and says “Well I really fucked up didn’t I”?  I was in utter disbelief. I responded “Yes mom you did, but at least you gave it all you got.” She was silent for a time and I asked her if she had any questions. She replied sternly “No. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I want ice cream.”  I found her some ice cream and spent the rest of the time organizing her transfer to a long-term hospice facility nearby.

In 24 hours mom was transferred and she was in and out of consciousness. By this point she was 5 days without alcohol, she suffered tremors and anxiety and they treated her for comfort. My Godfather and my dad Clint came to see her. Being very Catholic, my Godfather brought a priest to pray over her. In the room was myself, Joan, her husband Leisure Suit Larry, Clint and my Godfather. She looked at my dad and smiled in delight, looked at Larry while pointing at my dad and said “Look honey it’s my husband!” Larry was pissed, I enjoyed his discomfort. We talked for a bit. Then she fell asleep.

Joan’s best friend showed up the next morning to see her, she prayed with her and asked if she would accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and mom did. She had been baptized as a child, but I think she was scared and this brought her some emotional comfort. That day mom slipped into a coma.

I went and saw her every day for the next few days and then woke up on a Friday morning with that gut feeling that I had to go to her that day. When I arrived with my latte and bagel she was now in a private room. I checked her hands and they were starting to stiffen, I called the nurse in for a vital check, she was in the “transition” process of dying and it would happen within 24 hours. Joan was very proud of her rings and watch and was wearing them, the nurse advised that we remove them now. She brought me a bag to put them in, but I immediately put them on the same fingers she had them on, except her wedding ring. I envisioned shoving the wedding ring in Larry’s mouth with hopes he’d choke on it and die.

Since I had this quiet time with her I decided I would write her eulogy and read it to her. I spoke to her about it as of she was in the conversation, I wanted her to hear the love I wrote. After I wrote it the weirdest thing happened. She started humming. Not mumbling but humming. No specific tune but it was a song. I called the nurse in and she was in amazement, she went and got some other hospice staff and the Pastor who were all in amazement. They said they’d never seen it before. She hummed for about 20 minutes and then became silent.

Her CNA came in shortly after to bathe her, asked if I wanted to step out and I said no that I would help her. So in silence and peace we bathed her and combed her hair. By that time I was tired and felt sedated. I grabbed an afghan from the end of the bed and crawled into her bed and cuddled with her.

After 30 years of emotional and some physical abuse, my pain and anger lifted and laying next to her was the most comforting precious moment I’d ever had with her. I napped for about an hour and woke up to the sound of a nurse sniffling, she was overpowered with emotion seeing me asleep next to mom. This nurse knew I hadn’t eaten since early and she came in with a tray of food for me.

I called for my sister to please come as mom was declining quickly and I asked her to bring the memory jar. I made Joan and Sis a jar full of 365 childhood memories for Christmas and I thought we could read them out loud and talk about good times.

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As we sat there we heard a clinking coming down the hall, then a cart pulled up to mom’s room, IT WAS A COCKTAIL CART! We were so shocked! Here she is dying from the effects of alcoholism and there’s a cocktail cart at her Hospice. We looked at each other and giggled and said “fuck it let’s have a cocktail”.  We each ordered one and I ordered Joan a vodka tonic, her favorite, then I grabbed a swab used for moistening their lips and mouth and plunged it into her cocktail. We raised our glasses and said a toast to Joan and I wiped the swab on her lips.

We sat and giggled for hours, cried and shook our heads in disbelief. Then at about 9pm Leisure Suit Larry showed up stumbling in thoroughly intoxicated and could barely walk. I took the initiative to tell him she was on 1/2 hour vital checks as she was nearing her final breath. Standing there swaying he says “She could still pull out of this.”  That hit a nerve and I had a cocktail courage moment and I said “You know for a Retired Principal you’re pretty fucking stupid and your denial is pure ignorance.” I must have been a bit loud as our nurse and Pastor walked in. They pulled Larry out and called him a cab and sent him home.

Late that night mom took a turn for the worse and became very agitated groaning in severe pain. I asked for comfort measures and had a gut check that she wanted us to leave. Joan couldn’t have imagined having her daughters see her so helpless and clearly didn’t want us there when she took her final breath. So we left.

The next day I received the call in the morning that she had passed with Larry by her side.  Which didn’t bother me that he was there. I’ve seen people take their last breath and it’s a memory scarred in your mind forever. I’m glad he witnessed the outcome of their choices, it was his consequence.

My emotions right after her passing and now are such a difficult topic to explain I’m posting that blog next.

Joan passed in 2001 at the age of 54. Now with her Lord and Savior free to laugh, dance, sing and be pain-free. I refuse to wish her back be cause that would be selfish to want to take her away from eternal happiness.

Psalm 23

 

Katy…the Rough Draft (Part I)

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I believe all masterpieces were created through several rough drafts. A masterpiece comes in many different forms and mediums. Such as oil vs. watercolor, Broadway play vs. film, novel vs. television and food vs. food.

I believe both of my son’s are masterpieces, each unique and beautiful in their own way.

There are flaws in a masterpiece, but only the artist knows of them all. What we see as a possible flaw could have been meant to happen by the artist; therefore I feel critic’s are a waste of space and time. A masterpiece is in the eye of the beholder.

I also believe that God created us each unique and each a masterpiece per His great design.

I also believe that a masterpiece evolves and can continuously be altered, added to or adjusted. For example, Oscar-Claude Monet didn’t conduct just one painting titled Water Lilies. Monet painted over 30 variations, presumably to create each very distinctly, yet with just enough difference you can tell them apart. At least to the trained eye you can identify them.

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What I love about his work are the combinations of color, chaos, free-flowing brush strokes and depth. This is how I feel God created me. I have various colors I portray, I’m not typically just a sterile white, I have several colorful moods I vacillate through. I am not a super intense person about most things, I’m free-flowing and laid back.  There’s a depth to me most will never see on the surface. My mind is in such chaos at times I feel like a tornado sucking up everything in its path.

To know this piece of work, you need to take the time to get to know me. By this time in my life per the blog, I am about 22 years old. I have many appreciations and gifts for who I am and what I have.

Physically I no longer looked like I was 14. I actually started looking more like a woman with curves. Still slender, brown hair, big green eyes, classy dress for work and play.

For employment I was in a career by my own doing, starting off as a receptionist and working my way up in a financial analyst industry. Which is funny to me now, especially since I failed geometry and had to take math for dummies to make up the credit.  Watching my mother and father, who were both professionals, I watched them and absorbed their mannerisms.  I was excellent at customer service and making clients feel important. I cared for them like I’d know them for years. I was well-known for what I did and I loved it.

My domain was perfect and living on my own was liberating, in a little “matchbox” sized house I rented. I’d decorate it from garage sale finds. Heck at Christmas it was decked out, but I don’t think I ever invited anyone over to see it or visit. It was mine and I was “playing” house.

Financially I was able to buy my first new car on my own.  Little red semi sports car. I was so proud of it. I wasn’t a frivolous spender, I watched my money closely. Very responsible.

Relationships were few and far between. I had a couple that were very serious and would have gone somewhere. Yet one had cheated on me,  which ruined the trust factor and reminded me of my father. The other was emotionally destructive, couple bouts of violence and I was done.  I wasn’t sleeping around and just enjoyed life.

My family at this point was scattered. I tried to build a relationship with Joan, it was important to me, maybe hoping she would see how well I was doing on my own. Hoping she would be proud of me..looking for the nod of acceptance. Clint was still in California and we spoke every few weeks. Our closeness went away, his wife basically shamed him when talking to me. Sis moved to California to live with our Father and start over. I guess when I look back, Joan wanted me around more after Sis left.

Spiritually I believed in God and Jesus Christ as my savior. I was baptized non-denominational at age 5. Yet we never went to church, not even on Christmas Eve or Easter. I longed to understand more about the bible. I tried reading it, I didn’t understand it. I’d go to church with my paternal grandmother, it was a Baptist church, I felt like a big piece of sin when I left. I never went back. I’d have moments of feeling lost and unattached, I’d drive up the mountain and go to the beautiful church I was baptized at and just sit.  I felt so safe there. I’d cry. Pray and talk to God and then go home, never to return until that feeling of emptiness came back.

Deep down I was confident in what I knew and I portrayed that confidence in all that I did and how I looked. I was tender-hearted and clearly a caregiver at heart, I helped anyone I could with anything they needed. I was hungry for life and to learn more. I could analyze any situation rather quickly. I thought I wanted to be a career woman with a lot of options to go anywhere anytime. Yet I yearned to be married, to be with a man who would love me unconditionally and take care of me, have babies with. Make a life of longterm, one of which I never had as a child.

This is who I was as a young adult from the foundation laid out for me. Damn if I could go back to when I was 11 with the knowledge I had at this point, was a lot of the thoughts I had during this time.

Naive little piggy.

Ephesians 2:10 NLT

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

 

A Simple-Minded Pig

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I graduated high school! It was basically a miracle according to Joan. Since I wasn’t smart enough nor pretty enough to find a “good man”…at least I had my high school diploma.

Joan was also dating my old high school principal, Leisure Suit Larry. He left the school my sophomore year and was placed in the Superintendents office which was a little “cottage” office right behind my house. He was transferred out of the school after he got a DUI and was plastered all over the newspapers.  Larry drove by our house twice a day to go to work and always would see Joan; who was beautiful, dressed well and drove a nice sports car.

One day while I was in class I was called to the Vice Principals office. He asked me about a friend of mine that was in a psych ward for attempting suicide.  Extremely random question and was weird. Before I left his office he asked me about my dad. He says “I pulled your emergency card to get your class schedule and saw that your dad lives in California and works for an oil company. Does he work on an oil rig and travel back and forth?”  Random right?  I explained he lives there full time as he and mom were divorced. It was so strange how he came to that conclusion or question, he was a weird dude anyway, so I chalked it up as that.

Little did I know Larry had asked the VP to find out my mom’s marital status so he could ask her out. The story of Leisure Suit Larry is a whole other topic and posting, but Joan told me it was most likely his influence that helped me graduate.

My teachers treated me like I was stupid and so did Joan, maybe they were right.  It was even more clear that I must be stupid when my college fund was no longer available.

When dad left he had set up 2 college funds for Sis and I, $10k each to start our schooling. When I graduated I didn’t get to start right away as I had to have an ovarian cyst removed 3 days after graduation and then Joan became very ill (another topic for down the road).

The following year I was ready, so I worked the previous year selling sports shoes. I went to mom and told her that I was checking out college courses and needed to know how I was to pay for it, with a check from her or a credit card. She smiled at me and giggled, “what makes you think I have the money to send you to college?” I explained that I thought dad had set money aside for us, and she told me he did but there wasn’t any left.

Joan further explained that life isn’t fair and sometimes we have to make sacrifices. My college fund was spent before I graduated on a new sports car for my sister. I remember the day like it was yesterday, I just didn’t know I was the one who actually bought her the car.

My sister drove a muscle car through high school that Joan bought her. After Sis graduated she had come home one day and called mom at work, telling her that she found a new car she wanted. I believe Joan said no based on price and that’s when Sis lost her mind. She cried and screamed like a toddlers temper tantrum, on the floor kicking and throwing a fit. Pleading “Please mommy please. At least I’ve never left you like Katy did. Maybe I’ll just move to dads too.” There you have it, a 19-year-old behaving like a toddler.

Basically Joan gave in at that point and she bought Sis the car..with my college fund.  Yes folks, Joan sacrificed my future to pacify the little monster she created.

Once I realized where the college fund went…I died. It felt like a knife in the gut with Joan shoving it in deeper while in my face saying “You stupid little girl, you’re not good enough, paybacks are a bitch”. I clearly wasn’t smart enough to send to college. She clearly had to have balanced what was more important right? I sucked in school, her boyfriend helped me graduate and my sister’s happiness was more important than my future.

I felt stupid, ashamed and embarrassed to even think I could manage college. What was I thinking? Oh and Dad..he didn’t want to be bothered by it.  Nothing he could do about it from there. It was done, and what’s done is done. Dad helped solidify my simple-minded self.

The Wild Pig & The Barfly

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High school was completely crazy!  I had no supervision once I moved back to Joan’s house.  I came and went as I pleased, no curfew and no restrictions.  A teenagers dream life! I was responsible though for cooking my own meals, cleaning the house weekly, my laundry, having a job and paying for my gas and car insurance.  I was handed a ridiculous amount of responsibility at 16.  My friends loved my mom because of all of this and I pretended it was amazing. Yet deep down I was frightened, insecure, sad and very angry. Little did my friends know I was envious of their required family dinners, doing homework at the kitchen table, having to call and check in after school and be on a curfew.

Let’s start with the free reign to do what I wanted.  If I was hanging out with friends my age, we were required to be to their home by a certain time.  Honestly I loved the freedom at first so I rarely hung out with friends my age. I was typically dating someone 18 and older so our nights consisted of drinking, sex and mischief. In the 80’s we could have parties that lasted all night without any cops being called, alcohol was easy to get and if a home wasn’t available for our soiree then a field somewhere was just as good.

Drinking and driving was normal. No other way to put it, we drank and we cruised, radio blaring Motley Crue or Van Halen. We drag raced, no seat belts and open containers in the car.

School wasn’t optional in my eyes, but I loathed it. I had ADD and didn’t know it, I don’t think it became a real diagnosis until the 90’s, so I was considered rebellious as a student. Teachers thought I didn’t care about my education, so they didn’t care about me. Very simply put, they never invested time in me. I couldn’t focus on reading as I couldn’t retain any of it. I couldn’t understand why I could read an entire page and not have any clue what I had just read. I truly thought I was just stupid and my grades reflected that. I had to take summer school classes after my sophomore year and a full schedule of classes my senior year to graduate with a 2.5 GPA.

I was wild and out of control. I had a mouth like a truck driver, my bark and my bite were both terrifying, but you couldn’t tell by looking at me. I was an underdeveloped skinny girl who had to prove herself as a badass, for fear that others might feel they could treat me the same way Joan did.

My mom, the barfly, despised me. She didn’t EVER want to be bothered by me. Thursday through Saturday nights you could find Joan at her favorite watering hole dancing and drinking the night away.  Typically dressed in a leather miniskirt, pumps, low-cut blouse, big earrings and even bigger hair.  Just picture Tina Turner in the 80’s and you have Joan.

It wasn’t odd that sometimes we strolled into the front door at the same time on the weekends, typically between 2 and 3am. Both drunk, looking like hammered shit and never saying one word to each other.

Joan made it clear that she didn’t care what I did or how my grades looked. She told me to marry into money because I wasn’t smart enough to have a career that paid well nor pretty enough to have my choice of men. No wonder I didn’t bother at trying to be a better student, mom didn’t believe in me so why should I believe in myself.

I have to say that writing that last paragraph made me nauseous! I couldn’t imagine telling my children this EVER! My two beautiful gifts from God are my life and I will walk through hell to make sure they know they are loved and wanted and worthy! I don’t expect them to be doctors or engineers, I just want them to be happy and to follow their dreams. To feel loved and be loved by me. To know they are worthy of God’s love no matter what happens in life. To be kind-hearted compassionate souls to everyone and everything they encounter. To know that love is not conditional from me nor God.

I deserved better from my mother, her mother didn’t treat her this way, there’s no excuse for her behavior. I was her pig.