Guest Blog #4

 
October 18, 2021

Hans Zollner SJIADC
Collegio BellarminoVia del Seminario 12000186 Roma

Dear Rev. Hans Zollner,
Attached are two articles that address the topic of clergy sexual misconduct/abuse of adults. The first article is by the AP regarding the effect clergy misconduct and abuse had on my life and faith practice. It crushed me as it struck at the core of my being. 
Having served the sick as a Registered Nurse for forty-one years in the medical profession, the patients entrusted in our care are all considered vulnerable. We seek medical attention for physical ailments, mental health professionals for emotional distress impacting our mental health, and attend the place of worship for spiritual growth and healing. The pastor of my former parish often referenced the church as a “field hospital” for those seeking spiritual healing. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. 

It is necessary to address the whole patient. The emotional, spiritual and physical are interconnected. If one area is suffering soon the other two will follow. 
As professionals we are taught to cause no harm. There is an imbalance of power making true consent impossible. Mental health and medical professionals are trained to protect all ages as those who seek our care place their trust in us. Trust is implied by the shear nature of the vocations. So it is with clergy in the field hospital of the Catholic Church. Both a maternal aunt and cousin were nuns. My aunt served the needs of the clergy in her order based in Canada. I loved the church. It meant so much in my life. Even if I stepped away at times something always drew me back. It feels as if it is in my very DNA. 


Therefore, the point isn’t to distinguish the vulnerability of the adult but to place the focus of responsibility where it belongs which is squarely on the clergy as professionals both feeding the flock in its care as well as providing counseling when needed. Even if therapy is involved in a secular setting an adult will often seek a spiritual perspective. 
All who enter the church need to feel safe and protected from predators who wear sheep’s clothing. The degree of trust implied by celibate/chaste clergy increases the vulnerability of the adult who isn’t prepared to have to protect themselves from the very men who took vows of service to Christ and who are representing Christ to those under its roof and its service. 


There can be no consent between a priest and adult because of such a power imbalance. The one with the greatest power holds the greatest responsibility. In the wake of # metoo movement the topic of power imbalances with adults came into much attention. A movie producer and politician hold power over those who are looking to achieve careers or who are even awe struck. However, clergy represents the highest power there is; God. 


There is no age limit for vulnerability. We are all God’s children regardless of the age. Many factors influence vulnerability such as a history of highly adverse childhood events and the impact of life on its own merits throughout the life span. It is a well known fact that under emotional stress we regress to earlier ages. Adults abused as children can regress to the emotional ages of the childhood trauma and abuse. Trauma effects the brain. 


Although chronologically adults, the level of regression can place the adult at a much younger age with the lower part of the brain in control over higher reasoning. Even if the childhood was considered to be without unusual trauma life itself can deliver harsh blows. For instance, the loss of a spouse through death or divorce, loss of an adult child, the pain of parental estrangement, substance abuse issues, loss of health or employment are only a few events that create extreme vulnerability even if temporary. One does not need to have a caregiver making decisions for them or be rendered incapable of functioning normally to be considered vulnerable. Calling it an affair, a temporary lapse in the priest’s vows or “sin” misses the point and seeks to minimize the real issue at hand. It is an absolute act of emotional, physical and spiritual betrayal, violation, and abuse of spiritual power and authority often subconsciously translated into God being the perpetrator. Christ overturned the tables in the temple driving the money exchangers out with whips because it was abuse oi the place or worship. What would He think about the decades of abuse covered up under its roof of not only the most vulnerable of all which are the minor children but of adults who are also His children? Who will advocate on behalf of Christ by exposing what takes place in the darkness so it can be addressed in the light of day and brought to justice leading to corrective measures to protect all of us? Abuse is killing people and is implicated in addictions which is an epidemic greater than Covid. The Church can take center stage and address it under its roof setting an example for all. 


I speak from personal experience that it was a devastating experience. Reporting it was the right thing to do for the sake of the church, the priest who needed help, and to protect other possible victims from going through what I experienced. I was strongly encouraged to remain silent to protect the institution at the expense of the individual whom it serves. Yet, what happened to me as a result of reporting and going public compounded the trauma and pain. Love does not enable. Love dares to speak truth to power. Love dares to confront the wrong because to remain silent is to be complicit in works of evil. 


Evil does its work in the darkness and in silence. To speak truth brings light into the darkness which is what Christ did. It got Him killed. It almost killed me. It certainly caused my old life to fall and crumble away including needing to retire earlier from my career because its impact was the last straw in a life of nothing but abuse starting from early childhood. One can’t determine by outward appearances whether someone is hemorrhaging inside from wounds so deep that nothing works but God. God is what kept me alive while I wondered is I would ever heal through trauma informed therapy which is a slow and arduous process.  We can manage to function in our professions yet be utterly vulnerable relationally. 


The deepest fundamental need is to feel loved and valued. How many of us suffer from wounds because we were not loved or valued or could not feel it because of poor self worth? The predator is skilled at targeting the right prey through expert grooming. If an adult responds it does not imply consent. It is a natural human response. 

Sincerely,
Dorothy Small 

Owner of a Lonely Heart

Well, this week I had another session with my new therapist. Somehow we ended up venturing into what happened with the priest.

So, if you remember, the last therapist asked me why I had a thing for priests and told me that I had pursued my boss. “But, but….” I said. “Oh, I know what he did,” she said, which made no sense to me.

I just want to point out here that not all therapists are good therapists. Not all therapists know everything just because they are therapists. This lady let her answering machine take calls while I was in her office and patients left messages while we sat there. She also had a patient come in to set up an appointment while I sat there in the middle of our time together and once someone brought her lunch during our session.

But I continued to go to her. Until the day when she scheduled me for an appointment on a holiday and the building was locked and I couldn’t get in. She called me to tell me that I had been a no-show. I said the door was locked and nobody was there. She said I should have called her to come down to let me in. It was at that point that I stopped going to her…..or anyone….until now. That was over four years ago.

So I was hesitant to talk about what had happened with me with this new therapist. I know a lot more now than I did back then. But still, I thought she might tell me that I was stupid or why didn’t I do anything?

So when she asked me why I thought it was my fault, at first I thought I had heard her incorrectly. I thought she asked me why I didn’t think it was my fault. But then I understood and I said…because I thought it was personal. I didn’t know at the time that it was a game. I thought that I was responsible for his feelings and for fixing things.

And she did ask me why I didn’t tell anyone what was going on. Because I was afraid of what he would do if I said something, I said. Because I didn’t want to create a scandal. I didn’t want unwelcome attention. And because I felt protective of him. He was a priest. I didn’t want to ruin him.

And it’s weird to say that I felt afraid and yet protective. But she understood. She said it was not weird at all. In fact, it was pretty normal to feel that way.

And then she asked me if I ever felt triggered by anything still.

No, I’m fine. Absolutely. I’m good. Totally. Fully healed. Ready to move on.

Not entirely true.

I heard this week that trauma and PTSD causes uncontrolled reactions. At first, I reacted by avoiding the 90th birthday party of my friend’s father. I had known him all my life. He taught me how to ride a two wheel bike when I was a kid. He was the caretaker of the seminary in the back of our house and my brother and I were friends with his kids and my parents were friends with him and his wife…and he had worked at the diocese in the copy room when I was there. I missed his birthday. Because I was afraid of who I would see at the party. I didn’t want to run into Father or anyone from H.R.

And when I had to get another job and I was working at the store and a woman from the diocese came in and saw me and asked me didn’t I used to work for the diocese and why did I leave…..because nobody ever chooses to leave. I panicked. All I knew was I had to keep the secret. Or else everyone would know how horrible I was.

But then she said….”We need to talk….I’ll be back”. But I never saw her again.

But that was then…I feel much more confident now. I have spoken to the bishop. I have told the bishop, who tried to downplay the abuse by asking me if this kind of thing hasn’t happened to me before….no…it has not. Not like this. Flirting, yes. Even things that crossed the line into inappropriate. But I have never felt threatened by anyone. I never lost my job because of it. This, I told the bishop, was like rape. Yes, I said that. I was being coerced and threatened into doing something that was degrading while being gaslighted and isolated.

So I’m stronger now. Triggered, she asked. Yes, I said. But not so much about what happened directly.

Maybe it’s not so much triggered, but I’ve changed a little. I can’t do games. I think I am more sensitive if something feels off. I still doubt myself first but I’m beginning to get a sense of believing I deserve more and knowing that it is up to someone else to fix themselves.

But last week, I started reading a book written by a survivor and it was difficult. I felt like she was writing my story. She’s a wonderful writer who goes into much detail and the way she wrote about trusting her therapist even though her inner voice fought back and how she silenced the inner voice thinking she was wrong because he knew what he was doing…..it hit me.

And the way she describes how when she cooperated with him, he would giggle and get almost giddy and she would accept that almost affectionately thinking how goofy he was….from the outside looking in, you can see the net closing in on her but she can’t. And why should she?

And the way he begins to make her feel special…..well, why shouldn’t he build a rapport with his client and make her feel comfortable? All simple gestures we should be able to trust with the people we put our trust in. And yet, I could feel the anxiety in the pit of my stomach as I read her words.

So, yes, I’m still affected by what happened to me and things still trigger an emotional response.

Another thing that I happened across this week that I want to make clear to anyone who has not been a victim of abuse by a religious person…. is that many of us have been thrown out of our churches or jobs or choirs or seminaries or schools. We did not have a choice but to leave. We became the villains in our stories by perpetrators who claimed they were victims. Or we were judged less than virtuous by those who once were our friends. We became not welcome where we once belonged.

It’s not that we are against the church or what it stands for. It’s that the church and it’s members have betrayed us and then failed to truly help us when we needed support. We were further victimized. And then we were told to be quiet and to get over it.

That’s why I feel it is so important for us as survivors to get together to help each other because nobody quite understands how good an abuser can be at not leaving a “fingerprint” and turning the tables on the victim. You get it when it has happened to you.

I hope that everyone reading this has been able to get whatever help they need with a good friend or a good therapist. Good therapists and proper treatment can help save lives. I’ve been patched back together more than once and I’m still going. One thing, one step, one day at a time. Take care of yourself first. It was not your fault. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Don’t worry about who likes you or doesn’t. Believe in yourself. Trust your instincts.

Have a good week. Stay safe and healthy.

Always Something There to Remind Me

In our guest blog this week, the author talks about how their abuse affected their entire life.

Some may wonder why people just can’t “get over it” and “get on with their lives” as it was “just sex” or “not even a real relationship”. Or perhaps it was “just psychological”. That last one is a big one. I get asked by people many times if they are eligible to join the Abused as Adults meeting because their abuse was “just psychological”.

Much is misunderstood about the lasting effects of trauma and what is considered trauma by one person and perhaps not by another. Some effects can be seen, such as declining grades or severe depression. Other effects can linger for years underneath the surface. People can seem to function. They can get up and get dressed and go to work and go home and make dinner and pay the bills, but they can be put together on the outside while crumbling on the inside.

I have a little dog that was in a puppy mill until six months ago when I got her. She was forced to produce puppies. Then she was dumped at a shelter when she was no longer useful. When people come to the house, she hides behind my back and burrows her head underneath my shirt so she can’t be seen. She has no outer scars. Nobody who comes into my house has ever hurt her or ever will. But she will most likely always have trust issues. She also has problems with some men and things that aren’t familiar and loud sounds. You might say that she is “damaged” emotionally or psychologically from things she has endured in the past.

Yet, I’ve actually had people say that she should be getting over that by now because she is safe here. But I don’t think she will ever get over what has been hard-wired into her brain for survival.

And that’s how it works, doesn’t it? We learn survival skills. We started out learning how to survive as children. We learned how to get what we needed. Whether it was food, or attention or love or approval, we learned what we needed to do or how to act. We learned how to avoid punishment. We learned how to make friends. We began to learn how to survive physical and emotional pain.

We took those skills as we learned them into young adulthood. We made some bad decisions along the way. We learned some more. But coping mechanisms don’t always line up with knowledge. We can learn that something isn’t good for us but still find ourselves being drawn to a situation out of a high drama tolerance. Just associating having our heart race for the wrong reasons.

Studies have found that couples who go through a frightening experience together will be more attracted to each other. Such as if they go on a roller coaster on their first date. Adrenaline gets the heart racing which mimics sexual excitement.

So it seems to make sense then that we can find a bit of danger or power exciting. Especially when we are young and hormonal and our sense of reasoning hasn’t fully kicked in. And when heightened adrenaline has been inside you all along growing up, it may feel you have found a match when someone triggers that response.

But almost always inevitably, we end up hurt because there are always people out there waiting to take advantage of someone with poor judgement or someone who is looking for acceptance. And those feelings of….not being safe, not knowing who you can trust, not knowing if you can trust yourself….begin to become a part of who you are. Emotions and responses that become ingrained in order to protect sooner or later become unwanted armor that we cannot shed.

We learn that when we hurt, alcohol or cigarettes or drugs or food helps us cope. We learn that if we avoid, we will be safe. And so, as they say, we become a prisoner of our own device.

Is there any loneliness lonelier than a self imposed prison? Is there anything lonelier than wanting to be close to someone but being terrified to do so? To be alone not by choice but because you can’t get through your own armor?

For me, the thought of someone coming so close to me that they can see all of my imperfections….that they can see me as I am without defense…vulnerable to judgement and rejection…..is terrifying. The thought of commitment used to make me hyperventilate when I was younger.

That is a life lesson that I have worked on and struggled with for many years.

Abuse can filter the way you see yourself in the world. I have seen many very attractive and talented and intelligent people destroy themselves or at the very least, not see their own worth, because they can’t see clearly. Or they get stuck in unhealthy patterns from which they can’t seem to escape.

So we see this guest blogger and how their life was going in the right direction….from a poor struggling beginning to a prestigious college and a bright future….to a life that never gets off the ground. And it’s sad. And we can try to analyze why this intelligent person fell apart and took years to put themselves together again piece by piece and still working on it…..or we can ask why this was allowed to happen and nothing was done about it.

Because this person had a bright future. And a predator saw their vulnerabilities….perhaps their emotional home life or the fact that they were not rich or maybe because they were trusting and naive and in need of a mentor or friend….and they took advantage of that and they not only robbed this person of their happiness and their GPA, but their future and their feelings of self worth and how they feel others see them in the world. And how close they allow people to get.

And this is just one person. The life of one person. And this person’s life branches out and touches other lives. They affect the people they interact with as well. And the world may have lost a brilliant doctor who could have gone on to do great things.

And some, tragically, don’t make it at all. Some can’t live with the pain.

Multiply this one life times however many people one predator abuses in their lifetime. Five maybe? Ten? 25 or 50? Maybe even more.

And you begin to understand why it is important that these predators are taken out of circulation. Jailed. Incarcerated. At least lose their job and positions and licenses to counsel and to be in positions of trust.

And it starts with people becoming aware of what goes on. What abuse looks like. And it continues with people speaking up and not covering up.

And it continues with healing. Talking helps. When you learn that you can talk and what you feel is shameful and shocking and will have people hating and shunning you….once out in the open…..is accepted and love is given back….it helps.

Anyone who would like to write a guest blog is welcome to. Just contact Albany@SNAPnetwork.org

Guest Blog #3

The following was written by a survivor of sexual abuse to their Alma Mater upon asking for an update on their life since graduation:

Ginger,
I have a story I would like to share. I have never submitted any “news” for updating my classmates and I suppose its time. Please feel free to share it with the Class as you see fit. 
I had a terrible tragedy occur while on campus. It happened in 1974. 
I read about the lives of my classmates here. Marriages, children, grandchildren. Deaths. Trips. Vacations. Whole lives led and enjoyed. And I grieve.

I would like to share with the Class of ’77…my class…my terrible story. The sexual abuse that happened by a priest when I was a sophomore. The betrayal by the man, the counselor, the priest. I would like to tell you all about the betrayal by the Notre Dame Administration. The lack of love, the lack of Christ’s Spirit. The lack of holiness to be sure. 
I have such a different view of Notre Dame now. And it’s too bad. 
The priest hurt me, stole from me. Robbed me of the opportunity to build a life. 
After the abuse my GPA went away. My friendships went away. I went away. I wanted to quit, but my father talked me into staying and finishing. I barely was able to get to classes and I certainly couldn’t focus any longer. My grades were good my freshman year. I thought I was headed to a medical school. But the abuse changed everything. Wrecked everything. My grades slipped. My friendships slipped.
No family for me. I wasn’t able to trust people (especially men and especially God). I kind of died that year. 1974. It was a mortal wound.

I told the administration about it. They didn’t want me there…I kind of forced the visit. I asked for another education, since the one that my parents and I had paid for didn’t really happen. (I got a WAY different education than what I had signed up for…and we were not wealthy people). My parents sacrificed to get me to that campus. And the love of Catholicism and God and Mary propelled (compelled?) my application. 
I asked the University to put me through school again. Let me become a therapist and help others. Help
me. Help me get the higher education I had been denied. That was stolen from me. 
But “no”. There was no help at all. Only a resistance to accept any responsibility for the priest they had kept on campus. I DID get an “apology”. “We are sorry such a thing happened”. Or something along those lines. A “third person” apology. Hollow. Meaningless. Only meant to protect and deflect the institution. It was not made to me by the way…it was put into the press. I had an article in the Associated Press and
they had hounded the University…and THAT is what made them finally agree to see and hear me. They had to be forced. 
So, my life has been so hurt. Lots of “survival type” jobs. My first job after graduation was at a Howard Johnson’s at the Thruway entrance in my home town…as a short order cook. They didn’t want to hire a guy that had just graduated from the University of Notre Dame. I would never stay they said. 
I spent years waiting table, tending bar. Delivering vehicles. No med school for me. No grad school. Not with THAT GPA. I tried, but I was too hurt. My self confidence and will to live…all shot. I now know that this is typical of sexual abuse victims. The effects of sexual abuse are staggering and actually life threatening. 
So, I read about the Class of ’77 and I grieve. I hurt. All that didn’t happen in my life…that should have. I grieve a life I didn’t get. I had friends my first year there. Good people. That too dropped away. Again, perfectly normal for a victim of abuse. I had all the tell-tale signs. The depression and anxiety. The pain of it. The shame of it.

So, Ginger, please know that not everyone had it so lucky as you or most of the others. 
Every time I read of a mission trip to some other country to help the needy…it hurts. And when I read about Notre Dame being so wonderful and humanitarian. Well…quite frankly…its bullshit. Maybe it is humanitarian where and when its handy. But it seems to me at least, that the “helping” is most advertised and performed when it can be used as image-building. Notre Dame most certainly hasn’t been “humanitarian” towards me. So much for “en loco parentis”. 
Its to bad. The way Catholicism has gone. The way Catholic Institutions have gone. The way Notre Dame has gone. Such a shame. “Our Lady” would never have acted in such way. And Her Son never would have either. 
So, well, I have a lot, lot more. Perhaps I could write a weekly of monthly update on the Clergy Sexual Abuse scandals. I could write about my experience and/or the experiences of other survivors. And I’m not kidding. It really would probably be helpful…to wake up. To see reality. If the Class would really like to do some helping…

A long time ago John Salveson came out with his story. He was an RA in Grace Hall…as was I…our senior year. I remember he wrote such a beautiful article and it was published in the Notre Dame Magazine. And when I went to the 40th Class reunion he was mentioned…kind of like a hero. Well, I would like the class to know, that I also took sex abuse from a priest…I just took so much longer to come to terms with it. I am a hero too. To survive such a thing is heroic. And I have been helping so many others. A true humanitarian. And I never even had to leave the country. 
My friends from freshman year mostly became MDs and they travel and meet up and go to games. They are social. One goes to Africa to help the needy. I would have loved that life. To have so much extra…to be able to afford to not work and just go help others. Awesome. I never had that luxury. 
The abuse put me on a whole different life trajectory. Didn’t it.  
BTW, I love the way you write and you do an amazing job. I am not angry with you or anyone in the class. I wish all well. I wish you well. And I wish the University would reconsider and reimburse me for the education I did not get and for the life I did not live. So far, I am NOT happy with the Institution. At all. 
So, there you have it. I don’t know how you could put this into the “Class of ’77 news”. But please feel free to do so. I am totally OK with that. It is all the truth after all. 
Peace Ginger. Best to you and the Class of ’77.

Tainted Love

As far as the poll goes this week, I want to proudly say that I can speak English fluently and can say the “Our Father” in Latin. I can also say “Hi” in sign language, and can proudly announce that my umbrella is yellow in French to anyone who should care to know.

My dad took German when I was younger so I guess I can also add a “Sprechen Sie Duetsch” to that as I heard him say that often. Dad also had a law degree and all I know of that is the meaning of “attractive nuisance”

So where are we all this week? And what is the meaning of “Tainted Love” other than the song itself? What does that make you think of? Something forbidden? Something tarnished perhaps?

Well, I’ve just passed week five post surgery. Emailing a good friend of mine the other day, as she put it “Honestly, I would have killed myself by now”. Well, I’m not there just yet. Instead, I bought myself a new computer chair. I really hadn’t thought about it until now, but I was sitting on an old….and I mean old…kitchen chair. Like from the 50’s or something. Don’t remember where it came from or who gave it to me. Splurged on a nice chair. Has a foot rest. Reclines. My dogs love it. They think it means they can now permanently sit in my lap.

Do they love me, or do they love my chair? Hmmn.

This past week, I got back into therapy which was a big thing because I have not had a regular therapist since before everything went down five years ago with the priest. Seriously. I went to the one therapist who questioned my daddy issues and why I was chasing priests. That confused me even more. And then there was a very nice nurse practitioner who was able to listen for five minutes and say “You’re doing well….keep it up” and write a new script for an antidepressant before going to the next patient. So this was a full hour of just unlocking the brain.

I think I overwhelmed her. But now have regular appointments set up and she seems nice, so we’ll see.

I was also able to attend an on-line angel circle reading. If you have never heard of that or don’t know what that is, it’s basically a group reading where a medium channels the advice of a guiding angel.

What was interesting about the reading was that I was told that I’ve been through a lot of stuff in my life which was basically prepping me to relate to other people who are going through stuff as well. I kind of knew this. I know without a doubt that what happened with the priest was meant to be. Everything that happened. I wasn’t supposed to get the job, but I did because someone else who got the job backed out at the last minute. The absolute ridiculousness and unfairness of it all made me keep going because I thought that I couldn’t possibly be the only one this happened to, and if I was, someone needed to know about this…..made me search out answers and other people and made me write until I got it all out of me.

The angel reading also said that I am somewhat of a counsellor. And that I reach people around the world. That rang true as we are all connected and that is a wonderful thing to know we are not alone.

So when the medium then told me that I needed to let go of worrying about everything because it was impeding my physical healing (understand that I had not told this person anything about me at all), I was inclined to believe him and take it to heart.

Many of us in this group know what it is like to feel powerless. And this feeling did not just pop up overnight. For many of us, we have been struggling our entire lives with being that person who needs to take care of others or feeling like the odd man out inside of a crazy family, or trying to please those who won’t be pleased.

So to have to sit back and do nothing is a foreign concept. But at week five post surgery, I am still not doing a jig. If my foot is not elevated, it still swells and that means that I am still doing a lot of sitting and wheeling from chair to chair. Leaving the house is a big deal and even going out to sit on the deck means having to hop over a step and a door jam in front of open basement stairs. So I can’t do a lot. I’ve seen my grandson once in the past two months. I speak to my mom every night. My younger son has been here once or twice. He made me lunch, did some laundry for me. I paid him. My older son….well.

My room-mate has taken care of the dogs, who won’t go out without me. That means he has to put a leash on them or pick them up and put them outside. Or clean up after them. He feeds them. He feeds me. He puts the groceries away. Does the wash. Gives me clean clothes. Goes to the bank for me. He yells at me if I try to do anything. My conversation to him one night consisted of a two word response. I have to laugh. I never swore before I got married and had kids. I mean, I would you know, to be cool….but it was like stuck in my throat. I don’t have that problem now. But it was a bad night.

I guess I never realized how much I worry about my family until now when I feel so helpless to do anything about it.

My mother has an infected foot. Finally she called the doctor’s office where I got her set up a couple months ago. She went there, found out the woman she is seeing is not a real doctor, decided she was not going to take the antibiotic, and was “too busy” to call the office back. Three days later, she called them, they gave her another script, and she decided she didn’t like that one either so is not going to take that. I worry ahead of time. I worry that she is going to end up in the hospital with sepsis because she doesn’t want to get diarrhea from the antibiotic. Talking to her makes no difference. But how do I let go and worry just about me?

I worry about my youngest son. He does not take care of himself. Having worked in a plant where they process meds, he will not get the COVID vaccine, and he will not see a doctor….for anything. His grandfather on his dad’s side passed away suddenly without warning two days before he turned 46. His dad had his first heart attack at the age of 44. When he was a child, this kid caught everything. You name it. He had it. Allergies, pneumonia, chicken pox, every virus known to man….his brother never caught anything. He did. He passed out at work once. They took him to the E.R. He was told to follow up. Once they released him from the E.R., that was it. No follow up.

My ex-husband’s family tends to do this. Don’t have a doctor. Go to the E.R. Get a script. Like an antibiotic. Take antibiotic until you feel better. Stop antibiotic. Put on bathroom shelf until needed again and then take to treat yourself as needed. Don’t go to doctor. Wait until people have to break down your door and take you to the hospital because you are now unconscious and will die soon. Don’t do what the doctor says. Don’t get surgery for treatable cancer. Refuse all treatment so nobody can tell you to stop smoking.

It bothers me because I worry about him. I feel like all I can do with my family is nothing. I can’t help anyone.

My oldest son. Comes over with the rent. All upset. First, my dog is barking at him. So instead of petting dog who is wagging tell and expecting attention, he screams at dog to shut up. Then yells at me have you got thing set up with the bank yet? (am selling him the house but have to get things set on my end. I point at my foot. “Oh, yeah.” he says, totally forgetting.

But the real reason he is upset? He just became a grandfather. But his son and new wife will not speak to him. To be fair (?) they are not speaking to me either, or to my other son. They are, however, speaking to a couple of my son’s cousins. Enough to play a childish game of “We only talk to some people….the ones we like”. And one of these cousins had sent him a picture of the baby and a congrats. Sadly, I know the game they are playing is being done deliberately in a way so that my son…and me…and the rest who are not included….are hurt by it.

Although I know I should not, I do go to the baby mamma’s facebook page to see the pics. And on her public page, along with where everyone should shop for them (baby registry) are posts such as “we don’t need to talk to toxic family members” and stuff like that.

So my son is hurting. Actually both sons have been excluded. I can’t do anything to fix the hurt. Over the years, I did everything I could.

When my son’s girlfriend was pregnant, I bought her fruit and some decent food to take home because I knew they were on food stamps and she was eating canned spaghetti and such. I gave them a living decent used living room set. I babysat every weekend. I cleaned mold off of the baby bottles and without accusing anyone, showed the momma how to clean the bottles so the baby would not get sick. We got harassed by her friends and ended up in court.

And then, of course, when I was no longer babysitting and he was living with his father, I was told to go to court if I wanted to see my grandkids which I ended up having to do in the long run when they were older.

But he is my kid. And he is unhappy. And so I hurt for him. And again, there is nothing much I can do to help him. I gave him advice. Nobody ever listens to my advice. But at this point, that is all I can do.

I told him to let them go. For one thing, he is doing what we all tend to do and many of us have been there. We ask…..why don’t you love me? Why are you leaving me? What can I do…tell me…anything…what can I do to get you back?

And it’s understandable, isn’t it? That’s his kid. Whatever kind of dad he was, he paid his child support and gave away his yearly bonus to the moms of his kids for their school supplies. I’m sure the kids never knew that. But now they aren’t listening. So what can he do?

Perhaps I watch too much “Dateline” and things like that, but when it comes to nasty custody battles and people who use children like pawns in a game, I wouldn’t want to deal with these people. I want nothing to do with them.

My son….I said, let them go. And get yourself some help in dealing with this.

Maybe it’s now the frustration of not being able to do much. Maybe it’s the fact that we all reap what we sow, but also that we don’t see that we are sowing seeds of doubt and of sickness while we are working so hard to raise a good crop. And we look back and we see that we were handed those seeds by those who came before us who also trusted that if we just worked hard and planted and watered and trusted, that all would turn out well. And you see that as much as you cared and as much as you feel you tried, you still end up in a field of dysfunction.

Another message that came through for me is that when you let go and you let others take care of themselves, things tend to work out and they tend to take care of things themselves.

Worry is a form of control. I heard that once. If you think about it, we obsess about that which we cannot control. We can’t seem to let go of that which isn’t going our way. All of those things outside of ourselves that we can’t do much about at all.

It isn’t easy, is it? If we let go, it’s like we don’t care. We may have been taught to care and to help and to fix. And part of doing that was being sure that we suffered. Don’t sleep. Stay up and pace or smoke or do something self destructive because if we can’t destroy the problem then at least we can destroy ourselves.

So instead of buying the baby a gift, I bought myself a nice comfy chair with down padding and a foot rest. How do I feel about that? Of course, I would have rather bought the baby a gift. I would give them anything they needed. I have to remind myself that it is not being petty or vindictive taking care of myself instead. And I’ve told my son to make a will making sure his kids don’t get the house when he buys it from me. Or anything else he has worked hard for.

It’s not about forgiving and turning the other cheek. It’s not about the baby being innocent in all of this. I think there comes a point where you have to let go of people who are willing to hurt you. Whether or not you love them. I think sometimes you realize you should have let go a long time ago.

And I think sometimes you reach the point where you are tired of games and having to jump through hoops. You come to a point where you say….you know what? You know where you can find me. I’m done chasing. I deserve to be treated better than this.

Perhaps that was the point the angel was making. When you feel yourself sinking into negativity….it’s time to let go. When you have a bad foot…you have to heal your own foot before you can help anyone else.

As far as my son goes….the oldest one…I told him to drop off the rent at the door from now on as he is not allowed in my house. Why? Because nobody treats my dog that way. I don’t care who you are. You don’t scream at my dog.

Perhaps I need to handle everybody’s issues that way…..don’t bring them inside my door.

I’m going to see how I can get my chair to recline and get a blankie and take care of myself. Maybe get an iced coffee. Maybe finish learning another language.

I have one dog who made her way onto my lap…..they like the chair.

Meetings are back on…..see you later.

Just Like Starting Over

In February of 1542, a young woman was executed for the crime of not being a virgin when she married a king. The king, one Henry VIII, was heartbroken upon hearing this, but more than that….he felt that this woman had made a fool of him. Why? Because Henry bragged that he could tell just by looking at a woman if she was pure or not. And he had announced to all that this young woman, his wife….Catherine Howard, was his “Rose without a Thorn”.

At a young age, Catherine had been molested by a music teacher. Later on, around the age of 15, she had an affair with a young man. When Catherine was brought to court around the age of 17, she had no ambition to be queen. That was Henry’s idea. He was smitten. Catherine was in love with Thomas Culpepper. But she had no choice. If the king chooses you, you do as the king says.

Although Catherine’s past was kept quiet at the time as her family saw her union with the king as a good thing….her being Anne Boleyn’s cousin and all seeing how that kind of put them out of favor….it was Henry himself who looked Catherine over….inspecting her for purity….before the wedding. It was Henry who declared her the best woman he had ever known. At the age of 17, Catherine was nothing more than property in her family’s pursuit of power and the king’s pursuit of his own pleasure….having just recently divorced a woman that he had married and had no physical attraction to.

This was, of course, a man who was grossly overweight, hardly ever bathed, could barely walk, had a constantly oozing leg wound, and who had put Catherine’s cousin Anne, to death for trumped up charges of treason and adultery.

Henry could have had the marriage annulled. But he was so livid at being made the fool…..that he created laws that he had backdated to before he even knew Catherine so that he could charge not only her, but her close family members who knew of her affair, the young man who had an affair with a young lady who he had no idea one day would be the queen, and a member of his court….a gentleman who it is said Catherine was in love with, who some say may have used his position to blackmail the queen into meeting with him.

So why do we care about these people? Obviously Henry abused his power. The young man, Francis Dereham with whom Catherine had an affair prior to her marriage, was totally innocent and yet, due to the backdating of the laws Henry put into place, was found guilty of treason and faced a horrible fate.

But here’s the thing about Catherine. She was young…just about 17 when she married Henry. She had no choice but to do as the king desired. And yet, history has painted her as being foolish and promiscuous. She has been called “slutty” and “stupid”, and it was long held that she deserved her death.

These days, women’s groups and historians are seeing the importance of changing Catherine’s reputation. She was young and it is said she was beautiful, and it is also said that she loved fashion and music….not unlike another recent English woman of royalty….and she was married to an old, disease ridden, angry man. It is said that she was kind and because she was not raised in a rich household, had a sensitivity to the plight of those not as fortunate as royalty.

Catherine is now becoming more of a statement of how women have always been judged on the purity or activity of their sexual past. That, and of course, being seen as property of their husband.

Catherine was betrayed by those around her. It is said that Henry never saw her again once he found out that some man had touched her before him. It is said that there is a haunted gallery at Hampton Court in England where Catherine to this day runs screaming to see Henry, who refused to have anything more to do with her. It seems, he was the victim. In truth, as we now know, it was the ultimate Narcissistic discard.

I grew up reading about the Tudors and loving that part of history, thinking it romantic and full of drama. (Don’t remember reading about the lack of bathing though). I felt a connection to the clothes and the music and I guess the thought about growing up in a castle.

But I also grew up with the myth about Henry’s 5th wife. And when it all became real for me on the day that I was fired, I flashed back to the betrayal people must have felt when one moment they were queen and the next moment, they where being escorted to the tower of London to await execution.

I didn’t have a literal ax awaiting me on the other end of the phone call, but I knew what was coming. I knew what he had done….my boss. I knew what had been plotted and how he had become the victim. What I didn’t know at the time was what exactly I had been caught up in and that the whole ordeal was larger than just what was happening to me. I didn’t know about Narcissistic abuse and that priests could manipulate a person just for the thrill of degrading and destroying them.

And the way women are judged….still very much judged….for the sexuality is something we need to be aware of. I am currently watching “American Crime Story: Impeachment” which tells the story of Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton. When this story hit the news, we heard of Monica’s thong and her flirtations and such…not so much that she was in the presence of power and extreme emotional manipulation by a man with the experience and the means to destroy her.

And since this show has aired, another woman has come forward to say the Ms. Lewinsky had an affair with her husband as well. Well then, I say that we stone her for sure. Seriously. Are they trying to say that these men had nothing to do with anything or had never had sex with anyone before? Why are we not hearing about their prior sex lives? Of course, we did with Bill Clinton. But his life went on. He remained in office, he remained married, and he went on to eat more cheeseburgers. And his moral slip ups and abuse of power are still pretty much seen as separate from how he did as a president….and in some ways, some may argue….began to lower the bar as far as what we are willing to accept as far as lecherous behavior in the white house. Kind of like we were all groomed into what we see as acceptable behavior or “things we can look past” as long as the economy is flourishing.

And then I read somewhere on one of those on-line forums where people comment, that back with the O.J. thing, Ron Goldman was “more of a victim” than Nicole Brown Simpson because Nicole got O.J. angry by the things she did.

I had mentioned before that someone I used to know when I was married…my ex and I used to go to their house on Saturday nights….their daughter was murdered on the night before she moved out of her apartment. Seems her room-mate had a violent ex-boyfriend and he came to confront the room-mate that night, only to find 26 year old Lauren alone and defenseless so he took his anger out on her…..strangling and beating her to death. Not that it matters, but she was just a tiny little thing. She was not involved with the man who killed her. Was her room-mate guilty of her death because she was not home and she was the intended target? Did her room-mate get the ex so worked up that he was not to blame for his actions? Why do we tend to think that women asked for it when they get attacked by their partners or ex’s?

When we look back at history and we say that those things could never happen now….I think that as long as people tend to hold certain beliefs about things, it’s possible. Perhaps Princess Diana was not put to death because she embarrassed the royal family of a more recent history….but for all of the good she did, why were her romantic encounters under such public scrutiny? Do you ever see a picture of Prince Charles sunbathing just to try to get a picture of his bare bum?

Okay, perhaps nobody really wants to see that, but perhaps things have only changed as far as how the ax is swung and not at whom the ax is aimed.

We as a society need to become more aware of how we tend to slut shame victims. We need to become more aware of Narcissistic power and abuse….not just as a word but people need to be aware that when someone says a person did something to them….understand that they are not saying things for attention. People may only see the wonderful side of a priest or a therapist or a doctor or a friend….because Narcissists can be very good at hiding their evil from everyone else. Part of the game is picking someone vulnerable in some way so that the victim is doubted.

Does the victim have a history of depression? Are they quiet and non-confrontational? Would they rather cut off their right arm than hurt another person? Have they had more than one romantic relationship in their life? Do they dress in a way that would cause attention to be drawn to themselves? Are they attractive? Are they in a position where they would not question the actions of someone in power (and by “power”, I mean anyone that people trust or look up to for answers or guidance) because questioning them could be threatening to that which is important to the victim?

Another thing about the victim, of course, is….you can be a victim and not be screaming, or beaten or have a gun at your head literally. You can appear to be compliant. You can think you have feelings for someone. This can be part of a learned defense mechanism and has been proven to be the reaction of someone who feels threatened and is seeking to attach to their abuser in some way in order to be safe.

But, like in my case, despite the fact that I lost my job and I had no power, and despite the fact that I told people that I was doing what I had to do, I was seen as an unstable woman who had fallen in love with a priest and who should never be around priests again as I was dangerous to them. It happens, my boss said….you know, some women fall in love if you show concern or you try to help them or counsel them.

Isn’t it great that this guy is still a counsellor for people who can’t afford regular counselling? He has an automatic “out” of the situation.

So let’s try to learn at bit from history. Let’s stop grilling the victim as to their fashion choices, their past, their emotions and their willingness and timeliness of coming forward with their truth. Let’s stop accusing them of inappropriateness, instability, false reporting, lack of morality, being a danger to those deemed without sin, or for simply speaking up when they are in a position with nobody else to back them up…..let’s stop minimizing their feelings or their experience because nobody else has seen the wolf under the sheep’s clothes.

Let’s start listening before it’s too late.

Just Like Starting Over

In February of 1542, a young woman was executed for the crime of not being a virgin when she married a king. The king, one Henry VIII, was heartbroken upon hearing this, but more than that….he felt that this woman had made a fool of him. Why? Because Henry bragged that he could tell just by looking at a woman if she was pure or not. And he had announced to all that this young woman, his wife….Catherine Howard, was his “Rose without a Thorn”.

At a young age, Catherine had been molested by a music teacher. Later on, around the age of 15, she had an affair with a young man. When Catherine was brought to court around the age of 17, she had no ambition to be queen. That was Henry’s idea. He was smitten. Catherine was in love with Thomas Culpepper. But she had no choice. If the king chooses you, you do as the king says.

Although Catherine’s past was kept quiet at the time as her family saw her union with the king as a good thing….her being Anne Boleyn’s cousin and all seeing how that kind of put them out of favor….it was Henry himself who looked Catherine over….inspecting her for purity….before the wedding. It was Henry who declared her the best woman he had ever known. At the age of 17, Catherine was nothing more than property in her family’s pursuit of power and the king’s pursuit of his own pleasure….having just recently divorced a woman that he had married and had no physical attraction to.

This was, of course, a man who was grossly overweight, hardly ever bathed, could barely walk, had a constantly oozing leg wound, and who had put Catherine’s cousin Anne, to death for trumped up charges of treason and adultery.

Henry could have had the marriage annulled. But he was so livid at being made the fool…..that he created laws that he had backdated to before he even knew Catherine so that he could charge not only her, but her close family members who knew of her affair, the young man who had an affair with a young lady who he had no idea one day would be the queen, and a member of his court….a gentleman who it is said Catherine was in love with, who some say may have used his position to blackmail the queen into meeting with him.

So why do we care about these people? Obviously Henry abused his power. The young man, Francis Dereham with whom Catherine had an affair prior to her marriage, was totally innocent and yet, due to the backdating of the laws Henry put into place, was found guilty of treason and faced a horrible fate.

But here’s the thing about Catherine. She was young…just about 17 when she married Henry. She had no choice but to do as the king desired. And yet, history has painted her as being foolish and promiscuous. She has been called “slutty” and “stupid”, and it was long held that she deserved her death.

These days, women’s groups and historians are seeing the importance of changing Catherine’s reputation. She was young and it is said she was beautiful, and it is also said that she loved fashion and music….not unlike another recent English woman of royalty….and she was married to an old, disease ridden, angry man. It is said that she was kind and because she was not raised in a rich household, had a sensitivity to the plight of those not as fortunate as royalty.

Catherine is now becoming more of a statement of how women have always been judged on the purity or activity of their sexual past. That, and of course, being seen as property of their husband.

Catherine was betrayed by those around her. It is said that Henry never saw her again once he found out that some man had touched her before him. It is said that there is a haunted gallery at Hampton Court in England where Catherine to this day runs screaming to see Henry, who refused to have anything more to do with her. It seems, he was the victim. In truth, as we now know, it was the ultimate Narcissistic discard.

I grew up reading about the Tudors and loving that part of history, thinking it romantic and full of drama. (Don’t remember reading about the lack of bathing though). I felt a connection to the clothes and the music and I guess the thought about growing up in a castle.

But I also grew up with the myth about Henry’s 5th wife. And when it all became real for me on the day that I was fired, I flashed back to the betrayal people must have felt when one moment they were queen and the next moment, they where being escorted to the tower of London to await execution.

I didn’t have an ax awaiting me on the other end of the phone call, but I knew what was coming. I knew what he had done….my boss. I knew what had been plotted and how he had become the victim. What I didn’t know at the time was what exactly I had been caught up in and that the whole ordeal was larger than just what was happening to me. I didn’t know about Narcissistic abuse and that priests could manipulate a person just for the thrill of degrading and destroying them.

And the way women are judged….still very much judged….for the sexuality is something we need to be aware of. I am currently watching “American Crime Story: Impeachment” which tells the story of Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton. When this story hit the news, we heard of Monica’s thong and her flirtations and such…not so much that she was in the presence of power and extreme emotional manipulation by a man with the experience and the means to destroy her.

And since this show has aired, another woman has come forward to say the Ms. Lewinsky had an affair with her husband as well. Well then, I say that we stone her for sure. Seriously. Are they trying to say that these men had nothing to do with anything or had never had sex with anyone before? Why are we not hearing about their prior sex lives? Of course, we did with Bill Clinton. But his life went on. He remained in office, he remained married, and he went on to eat more cheeseburgers. And his moral slip ups and abuse of power are still pretty much seen as separate from how he did as a president….and in some ways, some may argue….began to lower the bar as far as what we are willing to accept as far as lecherous behavior in the white house. Kind of like we were all groomed into what we see as acceptable behavior or “things we can look past” as long as the economy is flourishing.

And then I read somewhere on one of those on-line forums where people comment, that back with the O.J. thing, Ron Goldman was “more of a victim” than Nicole Brown Simpson because Nicole got O.J. angry by the things she did.

I had mentioned before that someone I used to know when I was married…my ex and I used to go to their house on Saturday nights….their daughter was murdered on the night before she moved out of her apartment. Seems her room-mate had a violent ex-boyfriend and he came to confront the room-mate that night, only to find 26 year old Lauren alone and defenseless so he took his anger out on her…..strangling and beating her to death. Not that it matters, but she was just a tiny little thing. She was not involved with the man who killed her. Was her room-mate guilty of her death because she was not home and she was the intended target? Did her room-mate get the ex so worked up that he was not to blame for his actions? Why do we tend to think that women asked for it when they get attacked by their partners or ex’s?

When we look back at history and we say that those things could never happen now….I think that as long as people tend to hold certain beliefs about things, it’s possible. Perhaps Princess Diana was not put to death because she embarrassed the royal family of a more recent history….but for all of the good she did, why were her romantic encounters under such public scrutiny? Do you ever see a picture of Prince Charles sunbathing just to try to get a picture of his bare bum?

Okay, perhaps nobody really wants to see that, but perhaps things have only changed as far as how the ax is swung and not at whom the ax is aimed.

We as a society need to become more aware of how we tend to slut shame victims. We need to become more aware of Narcissistic power and abuse….not just as a word but people need to be aware that when someone says a person did something to them….understand that they are not saying things for attention. People may only see the wonderful side of a priest or a therapist or a doctor or a friend….because Narcissists can be very good at hiding their evil from everyone else. Part of the game is picking someone vulnerable in some way so that the victim is doubted.

Does the victim have a history of depression? Are they quiet and non-confrontational? Would they rather cut off their right arm than hurt another person? Have they had more than one romantic relationship in their life? Do they dress in a way that would cause attention to be drawn to themselves? Are they attractive? Are they in a position where they would not question the actions of someone in power (and by “power”, I mean anyone that people trust or look up to for answers or guidance) because questioning them could be threatening to that which is important to the victim?

Another thing about the victim, of course, is….you can be a victim and not be screaming, or beaten or have a gun at your head literally. You can appear to be compliant. You can think you have feelings for someone. This can be part of a learned defense mechanism and has been proven to be the reaction of someone who feels threatened and is seeking to attach to their abuser in some way in order to be safe.

But, like in my case, despite the fact that I lost my job and I had no power, and despite the fact that I told people that I was doing what I had to do, I was seen as an unstable woman who had fallen in love with a priest and who should never be around priests again as I was dangerous to them. It happens, my boss said….you know, some women fall in love if you show concern or you try to help them or counsel them.

Isn’t it great that this guy is still a counsellor for people who can’t afford regular counselling? He has an automatic “out” of the situation.

So let’s try to learn at bit from history. Let’s stop grilling the victim as to their fashion choices, their past, their emotions and their willingness and timeliness of coming forward with their truth. Let’s stop accusing them of inappropriateness, instability, false reporting, lack of morality, being a danger to those deemed without sin, or for simply speaking up when they are in a position with nobody else to back them up…..let’s stop minimizing their feelings or their experience because nobody else has seen the wolf under the sheep’s clothes.

Let’s start listening before it’s too late.

Tired of Toein’ the Line

I just want to mention again if anyone in these crazy times needs to have surgery, be vigilant…..be careful. Be careful of everything anyway.

When I was in recovery, I saw a woman in distress after being given the wrong medicine…one she had an allergy to. I myself was prescribed a pain medicine I cannot take. Since I had taken one without any incident, I thought perhaps I could try to take the other one again, but nope…..felt like I was on a tilt a whirl without the carnival. Thought I was going to die. Called the doctor’s office to report the incident (on a holiday) and was told that unless I needed to change an appointment or it was an emergency, that I needed to call back in the morning. After a bit…..because the horrible feelings had passed by then….I decided that I was important enough to report to someone about what had happened and I wanted them to know that I was no longer on pain medicine at less than ten days out after surgery. So I called back to speak to someone.

I was given a boot after an excruciatingly painful follow up appointment with a paper that said “non-weight bearing”.

I don’t use the boot but did the other day when I went to see my mom. I used the boot and the walker. I did put some pressure on the foot as I was told I needed to get used to walking when I was in the office….very little pressure…..just to balance….was for the most part, sitting at my mom’s….and by the end of two hours, I had to go back home. My foot was swollen to twice it’s size and was turning purple.

Called the office to report and was told that I needed to use the boot but I was also supposed to be non-weight bearing. I don’t even know that that means. Why use the boot? Sleep with it on? How do I elevate or ice my foot then? I can’t use it with my scooter because that is dangerous. If I want to lose my balance and fall again, that is a sure way. Want to point out that I have been very careful. It’s now 4 weeks post surgery and I don’t think this foot is ever going back into a shoe ever again in my lifetime.

So I just want to point out that in these days of lessening staff and generalized world confusion, take extra special care of yourself and your loved ones.

And speaking of loved ones, when I was visiting my mom, it looked like she had a blown blood vessel in her eye. She had a visiting nurse increase her blood pressure medicine. My mother you have to watch as she doesn’t believe much in medicine or telling anyone anything. I got her an oxygen sat reader which she doesn’t like to use and I got her batteries for her blood pressure reader which she probably hasn’t used. And she is not telling her G.P. that I brought her to about the increase in her medicine….as a matter of fact, she wants to cancel the appointment next month because there is no need for it…she says.

So if you have an older relative who is scared and turning a blind eye to things because they don’t understand and you need to kind of keep an eye on them, it may be time for “the talk”.

I said to my mom….okay, we know that we are all going to die and we can’t prevent that. But what we do have a certain amount of control over is how and where we die. Well, to an extent. At 94 years old. My brother has pretty much taken the car away from her. He lives next door to her. That is good to a certain extent except when he says he will go to the store for her but then uses the money she has given him to party a bit and then is too hung over to go shopping for her. But I told her that they don’t hospitalize people the way they used to.

One of the things my mom was worried about…rightly so….was going to get checked out and being put in the hospital. And she is trying to prevent that. Understandably so. But I told her that what she does not want to happen is a stroke or a bad fall. Then she would have to be in a rehab center and would not be at home. Those are the things we want to prevent. That is why taking oxygen levels and blood pressure is important. We want to know what can be fixed. Because we don’t want to die. But when we do, we want to die with our dog by our side peacefully at home with someone there who loves us.

That seemed to help her and alleviate some anxiety. I hope.

My room-mate just started chemo this week. He and I don’t always get along. Much of it has to do with boundaries and the fact that he does things like order cameras for the outside of the house and the inside of the car for our protection and security and then I realize that I am also being watched wherever I go and whatever I do. So, depending upon him totally for my existence brought up thoughts of Stephen King’s “Misery”. Have to say that except for my youngest son coming over to help out yesterday and bringing his son by to visit last week, I’ve got to say that when your parents get older or die, it’s not easy finding someone who is willing to bring you ice for your foot or put your frozen dinner in the oven for you and bring you your food on a tray. Not to mention feeding the dogs and letting them out and cleaning up after their accidents when they can’t get out. So all in all, I am very grateful to have my friend. To be fair, I have taken care of him as well when he needed someone. But now we are in that dreaded state of both of us needing some help.

And I’ve mentioned before that I have hit some pretty low lows the past couple of weeks. And it can be awfully difficult at times when your entire body and soul really is trying to heal from a physical issue. Because it affects everything. I’ve lost almost ten pounds in the past four weeks. And while that usually would be cause for celebration, I have also been very lightheaded and I’ve gone from…..there’s nothing I feel like eating to….if I don’t eat right this second I will pass out. And sleeping a lot of weird hours. And experiencing nightmares. And thinking things like…..if this is what it’s like not being able to function without a foot….what does the future hold? And how do people live like this on a permanent basis?

And I’m not going to lie, being in a state of negativity whether physically depleted or feeling grumpy and emotionally depleted, can and does affect how much you feel you can give. It can make you feel overwhelmed. It can make you feel less than and vulnerable and unloved and sorry for yourself and all kinds of things that make it really hard to let your light shine as it were.

But then I remembered this woman that I used to know. She was a beautiful woman whose light and brilliance came from deep within her soul and was difficult to miss. She had not had it easy. Her son was shot and killed at work. Her husband was using their money and their assets to flirt with and get the attention of a younger woman at their place of business. Right in front of her. Talking to this woman on the phone in the morning while they were in bed together. She was also overweight and diabetic and there was so much that could have made her want to give up or hide under the covers or want to tell the world to go away.

Then she got cancer. And what stands out to me I think more than anything is what she said to me when I went to see her a couple of days before she passed away. I will never forget her words.

“It’s so good to see you. How are you doing?” she said.

What? How was I doing? And I think she really meant it. Was she aware of her situation? I’m pretty sure she was. She passed away less than a week later. But she never let her problems hide the light within her. She cried, yes. She grieved. She had a tremendous amount of faith….and by faith, I don’t mean the kind you get by going to church or by believing in what other people deem to be the correct things to believe in….I mean she had an ability to see pennies on a dresser that weren’t there before and know they were left there by her deceased son. Things like that. She had an ability to see beyond the physical and beyond the here and now and beyond what anyone preached.

She had what might be called an unshakable inner peace.

So I was thinking about this person this past week. Perhaps that was her thinking about me from the other side. That’s possible. Because I do believe in things like that. What things, you ask? Things like when you need spiritual help, it will be given to you. Things like you can’t look without to find peace. It’s not out there. And I don’t think you can find it in a book. Or in a church. But that’s my opinion.

I once mentioned to another friend of mine that I was worried about my son. Her response (she is a big time church person) is that I should look at how little control Mary had when Jesus was on the cross and how she could do nothing about that either.

Okay, I’m sorry, but that didn’t bring me peace of mind. It didn’t even bring me acceptance. And it had nothing to do with Mary and Jesus. It had to do with my friend preaching to me and not acknowledging my feelings. It had to do with her figuratively opening the bible to page 540 and telling me to “read this”. I really don’t think that’s what it’s all about. Not for me, anyway.

At one point in time, I wanted to help my boss write his sermons. I started out writing in the religious field for children a long time ago. I did get one or two things published. I wanted to write to help children be able to connect with the spiritual and to help them make sense of things and to connect with God.

And all that is great an everything except….back to my friend. I think delivery is 9/10th of something anyway but I think there is a difference when someone prays or seeks guidance from a source….or shares what has helped them personally feel better….like perhaps seeking guidance from Mary who had gone through what is a parent’s ultimate pain…..and having someone tell you what you should do. It’s like telling someone who has had a miscarriage that science says they can get pregnant again. You are not validating someone’s feelings but you are coming across like you have the answers. It’s insensitive. And it can be dangerous to try to fix someone else’s problem.

But in truth, I do that myself. Other people have glaring problems that if they would just listen to me, I am sure I could help. Uh-huh

But be aware also of the need that may arise to help someone. To help them fix their life. Whenever you feel yourself slipping into martyr mode….where you are putting someone else’s feelings or needs above your own and perhaps putting yourself at risk. Be careful there as well.

If nothing else, we have learned that people who know how to manipulate can disguise themselves as caring and good individuals in need of your help….and you may find that you meant nothing more to these people than a boost to their ego. And remember that the Narc shall remain blameless. So again….outside crazy, inside peace of mind.

Help others but don’t fix them. Help to guide others but don’t lead them. Be there to listen but not to have the answers. Do not give to the point where it can hurt you emotionally, physically or financially.

Be careful out there…..

Dim All The Lights

When I was a little kid, like most kids, my parents were my idols. They created my world and they held it up. They kept it safe. They were the center of my universe. They made the rules.

So when things were uncomfortable in my world, I adjusted myself to it. It was my job to fit it. Obey. Behave. Don’t make trouble. Help out.

So one summer night when I came riding my bike down my street, coming home to dinner from a friend’s house…..in the midst of summer in our street of 50 houses on the outskirts of the city where you could hear a pin drop in the heat of the late August afternoon as people prepared their meals…..I pretended not to hear the only noise permeating the entire neighborhood…..that of my father screaming at my mother.

Of course I knew that everyone could hear the horrible words he said and the anger with which they were said. But I pretended not to hear. It was the only power that I had. That I believed that I had. Magic. I couldn’t hear anything so nobody else could hear anything. But my feet peddled faster because I knew that I was needed at home. I had a place in the family and whatever shame or embarrassment or fear that I felt needed to be put into it’s place so I could help mom put dinner on the table and do whatever I could to help smooth things over and make things okay.

I had already initiated the cone of silence over the house so the neighbors could not hear. I knew from listening to my mom that was important. What the neighbors thought.

I don’t know if I ever thought that any other couples in the world fought. If they did, I never heard or saw anything. When I think about that, it must have made me feel that my family was different somehow.

Of course I learned later on that things went on in our neighborhood quietly behind closed doors. People drinking too much after dinner and quietly shutting out the rest of the family….a father removing the bathroom door so his young daughter had no privacy. But these things we didn’t see. So to me, the rest of the world didn’t seem to have any problems.

And I’ve mentioned before that it seems a bit ironic now that although my dad didn’t seem to always have a handle on his emotions, I especially was expected to always be able to handle mine.

And I do see now that in many ways, just as my mom was my father’s scapegoat, I think I have always been the person my mother has released her frustrations upon. Which makes sense if you are trying to keep things together and run a household.

I think this is so because I have never been able to tell my mother how I feel. Or how it ever felt when there were no boundaries or I was compared to someone else. Expressing feelings meant that I was finding fault with her. And she could never understand why everyone else she knew had a wonderful relationship with their mother but we argued. Instead of wanting to discuss the issue or talk about the problems, she told me I took after my father’s side of the family. To this day, I have never been able to say “I feel” or “I think” without it being reflected back upon me as my being an incredibly negative or argumentative person.

And so it’s difficult to say that. Because I love my mom. I love my family. Very much. But that is not what this is about.

But one of the many unhealthy coping mechanisms that come about from a toxic environment at a young age is co-dependency. Another is low self-esteem. Inability to know how to function in a health relationship. Anxiety and depression.

I know I was co-dependent. I went from my parents’ house to living with my husband and our kids. And still having my parents babysit. And not getting that sense of separation from them in order to grow and mature on my own.

How common do you think this is? I’d say pretty common. I have a friend who never moved away from her parents. When she got married, her parents both moved into the house with her and her husband. She ended up separating from her husband and eventually divorcing him because he was very immature. Funny thing, he hung around with the same crowd my ex-husband did in high school and afterward.

So my friend never moved away from her parents. Her dad passed away and she took care of her mom until she passed away. And then she married an older man who now needs her care.

Would we look at this situation as co-dependent? I look at this friend as one of the most independent people I know. But she can be independent to the point of never sharing her feelings and having a mutual friend once describe her as “cold”. But she has the most awesome boundaries I’ve ever seen anyone set and she can literally run a major department. Is that always a good thing? I know that my friend can be fun to be around but she cannot talk about anything that is the least bit uncomfortable….I know….I’ve tried. Silence. It’s funny how in many ways she reminds me of my mom. Sometimes co-dependency means we aren’t the ones who seek care but who care for others.

Funny thing is, my mom thinks she is the best thing since sliced bread and always encouraged me to be a better mom….like my friend….because you could just see how dedicated she was.

I don’t see my friend as often as I used to. Something came up at one point where even a therapist I was seeing asked me if I was sure she was a friend. And I needed to decide if I wanted to let go of the friendship or keep it and if I wanted to keep it, how was I going to re-define it? So I kept the friendship and she and I see each other occasionally and we catch up and have a nice time. But that is pretty much as deep as it goes. I no longer “depend” upon her for advice or for emotional bonding. But I care about her and I accept her as she is.

Perhaps that bit of separation forced some needed growth on my part.

Another thing that can arise emotionally from suppressing emotions or growing up around somewhat unhealthy emotional instruction, is the tendency to self-gaslight.

If gaslighting is emotional manipulation used as a means to maintain control over another person, self-gaslighting is basically that voice that has been implanted inside your head from all of the unhealthy interactions you have experienced and grown to believe.

For instance if stored memories tell you that it is dangerous to allow people access to your feelings or that other people are judging you because you don’t measure up to the rest of the neighborhood, that may not be reality, but it may be the reality that your subconscious is serving up that you continue to believe…..because you don’t question the facts and you are not listening to your feelings and how your thoughts make your body feel….comfort wise.

You are listening to old, false information that at one point in your life was fed to you by a well-meaning parent or family member who could only raise you as far as they themselves could go. When you move on from that reality, you need to start questioning if that old scratchy recording is still helping you in your life.

When the idea of how worthy you are is dependent upon what others tell you, or how others judge your worth, or when love means seeking approval from people who never understood how to express their own feelings in a healthy way or who felt that withholding love and affection was the way for someone to grow up independently…..you could be gaslighting yourself by not acknowledging your own self worth.

If you hear yourself not respecting the feelings you feel…..telling yourself that you are always over-reacting…..that is self gaslighting.

If you hear yourself saying that you are not as good as, or that other people can’t possibly like you, or that you are weird or don’t have the talent to do something or that you will certainly fail because you can’t do anything right…..that is self gaslighting.

As they used to say, “You’ve come a long way, Baby.” It’s time to question those old beliefs. You are going to be different from someone else but not worse than someone else.

Since I’ve “grown up”, I’ve learned that there is no such thing as perfect people….and that we are all broken in some way. We all need each other but we don’t need each other in order to know what to eat or to wear or how to feel. We can support each other without overshadowing each other. We can love each other despite our differences. We can co-exist without one person doing all of the pleasing to make things work. Without doing all of the pleasing in order to be considered worthy of someone’s love. Without disappearing into someone else in order to prevent conflict.

I’m learning to be okay with being critical with the way I was raised in order to separate the unhealthy lessons that were so intertwined with the love I needed for survival. And that doing so does not mean that anyone loved me less. It’s just that as a child, I believed without question that the adults were absolutely correct and without fault. Which meant then that I was all wrong.

In order to grow emotionally, we need to step back and untangle all that has grown so closely together over time in order to see inconsistencies and inaccuracies and the limits of other people’s truth.

And to begin to appear more confident as we find our new truths, it is good to also be aware of ourselves on the outside. By standing tall, we appear more confident until we actually feel that way. If we feel that we have some sense of control of ourselves around others in our appearance, we can begin to feel less dependent upon their approval.

So begin to listen to the words you say to yourself. Keep a notebook of your words and how those words make you feel. Try on some new words and see if there is a difference in how you feel

Thanks everyone and take care. I’ll get back to you later to let you know if we can have a meeting tonight. Maybe we can try a short one. It’s hard to stay at the computer for a long period of time without a break as I have to keep my foot elevated and iced or it starts to swell. And I fell this week….I mean, really fell hard. Lost my balance. Fell on my butt. Scared the dogs.

But I got to hear some good bone-breaking stories from people and my two year old grandson came to visit yesterday and decorated my wheeley bike thing. Boy, did that make me feel old. People….walk. When I can walk again I am not going to stop walking. Do not like feeling incapacitated. So we have a fun poll this week.

Walk This Way

So I am up today and at my desk and feeling a bit lightheaded from all of this activity. I’m sorry that I didn’t hold a meeting over the weekend. I was asked to do a breakout session as well which I normally would have been happy to do but to be honest, I’m just not up to par yet.

Tomorrow I go to the doctor for the first time since surgery. I think they will do x-rays and put on a softer cast and remove the stitches. I’m also going to try to stop in and see my mom on the way back from the visit to the doctor. No, I can’t walk yet. But I am getting used to life as it is. I have lost weight, which is surprising as I haven’t been doing much. Thing is, I haven’t been eating regularly either and for awhile, food didn’t taste right.

Not going to lie. I hit some lows this week. My favorite thing to do when I get depressed is to pull the covers over my head and pretend that I don’t exist. Shut out the rest of the world. Feel sorry for myself. Throw in a couple of thoughts such as….how long does it take to starve yourself to death? Then I realize that takes about three weeks and I’m already feeling light headed and pizza sounds good right about now so screw that. I keep all my dark thoughts under the blanket until I am ready to re-emerge.

Usually what will happen is a thought will come along like…..hey, you know what? I wonder what the kitchen would look like if I painted the cabinets? Or….I’d like to try to learn a new language or bake something fancy or travel somewhere. I’d like to write another book.

So I come up for air. But what causes this depression? I can’t walk? It’s frustrating but it’s not like I ever did marathons. Other people have it worse. There are so many things I could still do. Another thing that could be influencing my mood is that since surgery, I have not taken any of my regular meds. I’m off of all pain meds….not even Tylenol. Am just taking Eliquel and CQ-10. That’s it. My pain is mostly gone in my ankle except for momentary grimace-inducing shooting pain in my ankle and the side of my foot where I think maybe the screws and plates they installed are having a go at it and settling in.

I’m sleeping at all different weird hours. And am getting those nights where….you know how it is after your fever breaks and all of a sudden you have all of this energy because you’ve done nothing but lay there and sleep? Yup. Nights like that. Nights where I feel like sleep is never going to come again.

And so it was like 3pm one afternoon last week and I hadn’t slept in like 36 hours and I asked my friend who has been taking care of me to please go into my room and get something from a stash of rarely used anxiety meds to help me sleep.

Okay, so I take a pill. Not sure how old the pill is so not sure how well it will work. But I begin to doze. About ten minutes in, I hear the phone ring….I continue to snooze….until I hear the answering machine go off. It’s the Life Alert people, telling me that they have received multiple alerts from my mother’s house and are dispatching emergency vehicles to her residence.

Now I’m awake and sitting up, thinking all kinds of horrible things and that here I am, drugged up, exhausted, hobbled, wearing two day old clothes with no underwear (oh, you try to balance on one leg while you get your knickers down to your knees…..let alone having more layers after that to deal with….all the while trying to balance over the toilet so that when you slide down into a sitting position, you’re not half off or worse)……so my mom needs me and I’m in no shape to save her.

I call my brother. He lives next door to our mom. He also likes to take an emergency and hitch it up a notch.

So he’s screaming at my drug addled fuzzy brain from the other end of the line. “I just got home!” So what, you twit, go check on mom. He does. “Her car’s gone”, he reports. “Although they could have killed her and taken it”. Ha-ha. He checks the door. “Front door is wide open”, he says. “I just walked right in”. Great. Good to know security is tight. “Nothing here but the dog….dog’s in the kitchen, wagging his tail at me…..wait….I’ll check the basement. Maybe they tied her up and put her down there before they took her car.”

She’s not home. Car is not there. I’ve gotten her dog food and groceries and she is afraid of Covid-19, so where is she? I call her cell phone. No answer. Why? Because it is turned off and sitting on her kitchen table.

I have to mention here that I have gotten my mother about three cell phones, none of which she wanted to use. I got her Alexa. I got her the Alexa screen device and showed her how to call so she could see me. I have explained what Wi-fi is multiple times. I got her her own Wi-fi so she doesn’t need to get sketchy service from my brother. I set up her computer so all she has to do is turn it on and everything she needs is there. I got her the Life Alert system after my father passed away.

But none of this matters if she does not use the stuff. My mother was lost and she had no GPS tracker. She has an older car. Life Alert said that they traced alerts from within the house. But nobody was home.

I called my son. He started to call grocery stores in the area to see if they had had any recent emergencies.

Finally, after the firetrucks have left and all of us are pretty sure she is in a ditch somewhere…..and hoping she is wearing clean underwear….mom comes home. Seems she needed to go to the bank and get a script at CVS. Had no idea of anything going on. Says she may have hit her call bracelet on the way out of the house while reaching into the cabinet to get some Dove chocolate to take with her on the road. And she left the front door open because she went out that way so the dog would not know she was leaving and get upset.

Heaven forbid the dog get upset. I ended up falling asleep after talking to her.

When I was a kid, I used to love to watch Shirley Temple movies. Even back then, the old black and white movies seemed old fashioned. But I loved the stories and I loved how Shirley’s characters overcame tremendous odds and found happiness. If you are not familiar with Shirley Temple movies, her characters were usually orphans who were picked on by mean older children or the adults in charge. But she would always overcome with her dimples and her singing and tap dancing and her way of speaking directly and honestly to old curmudgeons whose long cold hearts would defrost in her presence.

So when I saw one of her movies was going to be on TCM, I recorded it and watched it one night last week.

There was Shirley. Blonde curls. Dimples. Little orphan girl. Parents both killed tragically. So far, everything was as I remembered. Then it happened. Something so cringe-worthy, it kind of ruined the movie for me.

It seemed this young, handsome millionaire inherited the orphanage. He came to visit to be sure everything was well. And he met Shirley. And he was smitten.

And he went home and he realized how empty his life was and how lonely he was. So he went back to the orphanage and asked to adopt Shirley. In the meantime, before the adoption went through, he was at home, fantasizing about an 8 year old girl. Every time he looked at one of the paintings on the wall, Shirley was in the picture, smiling and waving at him. He was a grown man fantasizing about an 8 year old girl.

Okay, all was innocent back then. Shirley and her older sister went to live with the young millionaire and of course, the older sister….who I assume was old enough…..got engaged. But not before Shirley decided to wake up Uncle millionaire one morning by climbing into bed with him and straddling his stomach and hopping up and down.

You know, there was a time in our life when we were innocent. And there was a time in movies when all of this with a millionaire adopting a young girl with no other motive than to give her a good life….and when roughhousing between a grown man and a young girl was no more than innocent play and to think otherwise meant you had a dirty mind.

And I’m sure as an 8 year old kid, I thought that someday some handsome childless millionaire might like to buy me a pony just because he liked my dimples.

But doesn’t it kind of blow your mind that in 1935 when this film was made, this was considered clean and normal and four years later, in 1939, censors almost blocked “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” from “Gone With the Wind”?

This is less than 100 years ago. I know that seems like the dark ages, but 100 years is really nothing. But look how much society has changed. I doubt you could make the same movie again in quite the same innocent way as it was done in 1935.

I guess my point here is that the movie has not changed since I was a child, but my views have. My perception has. And I’m sure society has.

I did, of course, also watch some shows about 9/11, but I found that I could not take in too much of it. It seems we get bombarded by so much news and so very little of it is good news. And I think we begin to feel so powerless about all of it and in reality, that is just not true.

Yes, it can make us sad to read about horrible things and to see terrible images, and in our own lives, we can feel like there is so little we can control and it can sometimes make you want to climb under the blanket of non-existence…..when you begin to feel that way….overwhelmed and helpless…..that is when it is a good time to do things that you can control. Silly as it sounds. Paint the kitchen cabinets. Turn off the tv. Put on some music that you love. Do what you can control.

I think what I found difficult this past week….in addition to the images being shown on TV….was that my mom just celebrated her 94th birthday and I know she will not be here forever. And besides my friend who is feeding my dogs and getting me some ice for my soda, my mom is the only person who is asking me what I am eating and if I am in pain and what do I need? And I think about how I am not permanently disabled or really old at this time and….my God….what am I going to do without her when I am old and nobody else cares?

In all fairness, people ask and they care, but nobody else is your mom.

And then I got worried. Obsessed. To the point where I could not sleep. Because my two sons refuse to get vaccinated. And so, just like when my mother was lost for an hour the other day and I was sure she was in a ditch somewhere alone, I can’t stand the thoughts that come to me about my kids and if they get sick and I can’t be there for them.

And somewhere in Colorado, a little baby who I will never know was just born. Because his parents have cut us out of their lives. Why? I have no idea. This past week, I have gone back over my life and questioned…..what if I had zigged instead of zagged? Would that have changed the outcome? And does that really matter now?

Not really. And so I began to turn to what may be considered prayer. Meditation. Not taking life so personally because we are all on our own journey. Turning to my own spirit guides….or what may be called guardian angels….for answers and a sense of peace. For a bit of insight, creativity, an ability to let go, to grow, to not fear what may come. To be able to do what I can to help others on their path and to be able to understand that it is not up to me to put someone else’s path before them.

Be good all. It feels good to be up and at my computer. It feels good to get these words out of my head. Does anyone else ever feel that way? That you have to get the words out? Again, I am sorry that I was not around for the meetings this past weekend. Once I am a little bit more regular with my hours and I’m sure I can sit for two hours and do a meeting, I will send out the notifications.

Please take the survey this week. This site may look a bit different as I just renewed for another year.