Tag Archives: illness

Glutton for Masochism and When It Ends

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It takes a lot for me to quit anyone as a friend. I have realized that I put up with a lot, mostly because of how I grew up as a child. “You are terrifically loyal” (to a fault) my mother would say, in praise, either in an effort to deepen and reinforce my loyalty to her and her tribulations, or to inspire it from the ether.

I learned this about myself this week. I’ve been sick with bronchitis and a sinus infection and the growth of these maladies was so subtle that I didn’t notice it was happening until I was prone on my bed murmuring, “Oh my God… Oh my God…Oh my God… Oh my God…Oh my God… Oh my God…” through the pain. Through the pressure.

I have often said that of sinus infections (of which I have endured my share), that the time to call in the professionals is when I repeat “Oh my God… Oh my God…” a thousand times (and it ends up sounding like “obygaht… obygaht….” as well as utter the following novel concept of facial reconstruction:

“I want to take a zipper around my face, from below my chin, along my jawline, along my hairline and to the other side to meet at the chin again and unzip my face from my skull. Then, I want to take my face and shake it out and then zip it back up, just so.” (I’ll leave the nasal translation to your imagination: “N” becomes “B,” “D” becomes “HT” and “S” sounds like “Zn.”)

I got so sick I turned into a man.

I got so sick I turned into a man.

This one came out of nowhere, I think. The symptoms in my face were not so horrid until I admitted defeat and said to my husband, “I neeb do zee uh dogtoh.”

“Do you want me to take you?” he asked (he’s awesome).

“Yezdh.” And I barely walked to the car.

When I was finally seen (note to self: wait until AFTER the NFL game kickoff before going to see a doc-in-a-box), the doctor asked me, “Why are you here?”

“Beguzdh I veal lyghe crahb.”

He took one look at my right ear and said, “Feelled all de waiy. Dat ear ees feelled. Oh my. You cahn’t hold anymoh fluid…” (He was a lovely man from a part of the world with lots of consonants and only a few vowels in the last name.) So he went to the other ear and said the same thing. Then said, “Let’s juss looook aht dat sinus, jusss to be shure.”

And then, “Yup.”

So then he did the stethoscope and nodded. “How long you feel like deese? Why you wait sooo long?”

And I said, “Zogger games. I hud du go du my zon’s zogger games.”

“In dis weathuh? No. Not like this.”

I tried to sound convincingly happy… “I made hod cocoah. It’s gud. I drank dat… a lod….”

“Not good enough to beat dhis…” he said, standing up and reaching for his prescription pad. I left that office with three prescriptions. One for antibiotics. One for a nasal steroid and another for sleeping through a cyclone so I don’t cough.

It’s all working magically, this prescription stew. And can I give a shout-out my homie Mucinex D? Holla!!!

So what’s the corollary between a sinus infection & bronchitis and the demise of a friendship / relationship for me? It’s this: I sometimes take a lot of shit from people. I sometimes put up with a lot. And it’s not until the end, when I’m on my face saying “obygaht… obygaht….” that I am ready to admit dysfunction, that the law of diminishing returns is indeed at play in my psychic world. That no amount of GIVING and PATIENCE with people is going to be the salve. That when the proper definition of “compassion” is at play, that we also have compassion for ourselves enough to remove ourselves from the chaos, as well has have compassion enough for the other person to show them what shrews they are being.

And then… when the actions have been verified by a neutral third party as being obscene and horrid (such as in the case of the multiple infections) that I am liberated and allowed to say, “Duh hell wid dhat.” I put up with a lot.

I tried to express this schematic to a person today. A person who grew up in a normal world. A person who didn’t put up with the “let’s make a bull’s eye on your chest” -forming existence that created me today, and she tilted her head and said, “I guess so. I just know that when I feel like crap that I need to rest and take it easy. Or if I have someone in my life who’s treating me like garbage, that I need to take a break or leave.”

“NOT ME!!” I wanted to shout back. “I was one of those people, trained to put up with garbage and crap and stink and then shower and then go back at it again and again… that’s how I ROLL…” but I realized how insane that was. How insane that I ignore my own stink and that I allow the bull’s eye and that I put up with the nonsensical madness of abuse and the small daggers that eventually lead up to my being stabbed or clotheslined.

When I used to hit my threshold, it would just kept inching along, to the point of utter desensitization and then I’d miss all the cues. And then, later, when I’d sit up after being broadsided by the (betrayal / dysfunction / bronchitis) bus I shake my head like Shaggy or Scooby-Doo and say, “Was it something I said?” Still not seeing the damage as not being my fault, or simply as a symptom of taking too much crap.

So it’s like that. That’s the corollary. That’s the allowance we need to give ourselves. I’ve been in a few amazing situations where I’ve hurt people and they’ve welcomed me back. That does not come without a sincere heaping of “I’velearnedmylesson” and a realization that I must be my own person in order to be a good person to someone else. Lots of my actions and biases were fed to me, so it’s no surprise that my tolerance would also be fed to me.

Sometimes, in order to get back to our base, to come back to ourselves, we need to be broadsided after putting up with chronic weirdness due to the thickening of our skin (or our skulls). We need to have sense shaken back INTO ourselves in order to see where we’ve been abused. We need to have a neutral third party look at us and say, “You’re filled all the way. You can’t take anymore. How long have you felt like this? Why do you wait so long?”

Because you think it will get better? Because you hope your friend / S.O. will change?

Screw that. Be the change. I have realized after many years of therapy (oh! the boots I could have instead of the relative sanity!) that when you change yourself in a system, the system inevitably changes. Sometimes we stick around and things improve. Sometimes we stick around and things don’t change at all. Then we know. As long as we’ve changed, as long as we’ve done what we can to improve ourselves, then that’s how the healing begins. We can’t change what isn’t ours.

I’m proof that when you change yourself, the changes happen. When you go to the doctor, when you get the antibiotics, the healing begins. The friendships I had before I got “healthy” emotionally, almost all of them are toast. The ones that changed along with me (my marriage), they’re still around and I’m so glad of it. The ones that stayed where they were despite my changing for the better (for myself), they are in the rearview mirror.

We can only put up with so much for so long.

Thank you.

Tuesday Morning Press 17 — Vulnerability in Real Time

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I just shouted at one of our cats, “YOU WANT TO DIE TODAY, DON’T YOU?!” She was on the kitchen table, padding toward our butter. Cats live a long freakin’ time…

Good lord, I’ve been going about this post, this is the third edition, all the wrong way.

I started out feeling sorry for myself and being embarrassed about it. So what did I do when I feel embarrassed? I lash out. I blame other people and pick at their faults.

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“snap the chain of our own disbelief.” -me

I will say this: some of my fault picking is appropriate.

I’m grossed out by the Internet lately and its warehouses of data of peoples’ appeals for attention, all the things people are willing to do for a “like” and all the stuff that’s out there — have you looked sometimes? I mean, there’s a lot of stuff out there. And here I am adding myself to the pile.

Specifically, I found fault with a blogger who posts insanely staged photos of herself and her children and her spouse online. And yet, right now, as I try to “be OK” with it, I can’t help myself, I’m sorta grossed out and envious, truth be told. It’s like a toxic mix of all the rings of the inferno. I’m grossed out because I’m a traditionalist: “Keep some of that private!” I shout at the monitor, as I click at more pictures. It’s not illicit or in bad taste, it’s just a sentiment of “really?!  who cares?!” and yet here I am. It’s so odd…

Then there’s a blog contest. I steer away from those things because they aren’t my style. What is my style? Apparently standing in judgement of other people. But that’s cool; I voted for my friends. I admire their courage.

Then I think some more. I have been doing that lately instead of actually acting. My SIL has two published author friends: hardcover, actual printing houses and everything. One is on her third book, the other wrote a memoir, which I loved. She gives me free copies; by way of inspiring me and being a great marketer for her friends. I am authentically grateful.

So I take the books graciously because I really enjoy them and I appreciate the generosity and I even say, “Hey! Maybe my name will be on one of these sometime…” and we all smile and nod and then I curl into myself and I say… “Nope.” And then I make excuses, “Naaaah. I’m gonna go the self-pub, eBook route, because traditional publishing is a rat race… and it’s evolving, you know, the whole publishing thing.” And then my inner Hilter-mustachioed Oliver Hardy part says to me, “With what? Your three-ring binder? While you cruise the web?”

And then I feel all Stan Laurel about myself and cover my whimpering mouth with my tiny tie, waddle in place, scratch my crazy hair with my pale fingers and say, “Mmemonononominionommmooooooo hoooo…nonananynonommmoooooo hoo.”

I make me sick sometimes.

Ouch. Hot plates.

So the reason I sit all judgey is because I would rather do that than take a chance, than get the book done. So I go online because it’s a TOTAL WASTE OF MY TIME and I cruise stupid stuff and I don’t edit my book.

Why? Because yet again, as I said before: I am afraid of failure.

And here is the moment of truth: I know now, how my mother felt all those years ago, and she didn’t have the Internet: terror. She believed what she was thinking, and she stayed there sometimes.

Why?

My pulse is quickening as a type and I know the fear is real. I am not an anxious person; I am very comme ci, comme ça (“like this, like that”) about life. I’ve read many books about tending to mySelf; I’m writing one. It’s the one I have, the one I won’t crack, the one that sighs from my book case that needs the most attention: the ones on vulnerability. The one by Bréne Brown, Daring Greatly, that I need to open, drink in, nod to, argue with, highlight, read and apply.

Good God… I’m not really jealous of all those people on the net with their photos and their specialness; but I am grossed out by their apparent need for approval and acceptance, and that’s the part that sounds like it’s afraid of vulnerability. Because when we think of vulnerability, we think of neediness, of kowtowing (I did NOT know it was spelled that way!), we think of obsequiousness, of which I must admit I am incapable. Not because I’m brawny and heroic, but because I don’t find much virtue in that either. It’s too familiar to me. ‘Nuff said there.

I’m just afraid of doing what they are sort of doing: putting it all out there, in the sun for people to pick apart. But how do you pick apart perfection? You find someone like me… and I’ll be only to happy to show you how you are demonstrating only your perfect life. Because: You will not see a picture of me fresh out of bed without so much as a sleepy heavy hand swiping my rubbery face, without protest or threat of imminent injury to the person who posted it. But I do get the idea of vulnerability, in which we find strength.

But I am digressing, rationalizing. “Feel the feelings” they say; don’t walk away. Listen to what the feeling, the vulnerability, is saying. What is it saying? Don’t think of something pithy to share… feel the feeling and write what it says. Close the eyes and type.

The feeling says:  

You aren’t good enough. You can’t do this. Taking chances makes you hurt. Falling down is nature’s way of telling you to stay out. Don’t bother. You are not one of those people. There is nothing unique about you. Don’t risk it.

And yet, here I am. I open my eyes to see what I type. I correct the typos and I don’t edit.

Here I am… sitting just two days after my 200th post when I said to live without regret, take a chance and be present. Oh, I’m being present alright. But doing something different is the only way out of this rut. And I don’t stay here for long, in this bowl of self-pity soup, because I know part of what I’m feeling is due to being home with a sick child again, Thing 3 this time, and just feeling frustrated. With all of it: with his being unwell, with my not being able to go to yoga, with the Internet.

But I won’t rationalize it away, because it’s real, the vulnerability, and I’m in my own way. Constantly. I swear, if this were a paid gig, I’d be a millionaire and I wouldn’t give a toot about the Internet and all the souls out there trying to be something.

I wrote a book. It’s time to stop avoiding it. It really is. It’s time to do something with it. I don’t know when I’ll be back next. All I know is that when I’m posting, I’m not editing or writing. I’ve got to unload this book because it’s really holding me down. It’s like a purge and it has to go. Somewhere.

Thank you.

Tuesday Morning Press 16 — The Not-Graphic Norovirus Philosophical Edition and more

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I lost six pounds yesterday.

Today was the first time I’d seen my kitchen in 36 hours; I have three sons and a husband. Today’s state of the kitchen confirmed that.

I haven’t hugged my kids since Sunday night. I haven’t hugged anyone since Sunday night.

It’s hard, this lack of personal contact with those we love most. It gets me thinking.

My first tidbit for you: You will be pleased to know that iPads and iPhones can withstand Lysol spray.

We’d had a wonderful weekend; I started a post waxing nostalgic for my family of origin and the one I’d created with my wonderful husband of almost 19 years. I woke Sunday morning feeling like I’d partied like Rod Stewart in the 80s (I know, right? I just wrote what came to my mind) but I hadn’t. 

I couldn’t get my thoughts together because I was apparently in the grips of the oncoming Norovirus that overwhelmed my gastric system yesterday morning until last night.  I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that when you’ve stared down the loo seven times in as many hours only to return to your bed where everything irritates you and you want to watch TV, but not that one; you want to read a book, but not that one; and you want to talk to someone on the phone but not that person… you’ve had a life-changing experience.

I would simply just fall asleep every now and then too. I am grateful for the brownie and ice cream I had Sunday night, it gave me the calories I’d likely needed for the next day, but my tank was empty Monday morning and that, my friends, is an awful feeling. The hideousness began just before 8:00am and continued in onslaughts of pain and nausea followed by an almost manic state of reprieve only to be followed by more pain and nausea until about 4:00pm. It took me 10 hours to drink 12 ounces of ginger ale only to revisit it soon after each sip. After that, I ranged between mildly uncomfortable to hostage-taking heights of discomfort. Around 9:00pm last night I summoned the courage to take two Tylenol and endeavor sleep, which I couldn’t wait to begin. Despite mostly laying in bed for more than 20 hours, I was desperate for slumber.

Every trip and “respite” afforded me insights that I don’t think I would have appreciated at another time in my life. I’m 45 now. Life has literally passed me by. I am standing at the bus stop watching the cars go by. But I’m not really that bad off. I’m just realizing, turbo acutely, that I’m not gonna get another yesterday (you can have my yesterday), or today, again.

No matter how glib or flippant I may seem, even clever (I might add) that there’s no point in pissing away my life worrying about really stupid stuff.

When you hear your body make sounds you didn’t think it was possible to make, and you feel simultaneous chill and vaporizing heat, you enter some sort of rabbit’s hole, so to speak, and you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff real quick. I gained an insight into what fear does to me and how stupid we can be in the face of it.

I will start by declaring my space and my personal rights:

There is a bully in the blogosphere. This blogger has maligned me to people and Fiction Fridays due to its own severe insecurity that it has put on display on its Facebook page time and again in a pathetic attempt to garner fans. I have said this time and again: Fan numbers don’t mean squat. Quality matters; sincerity and authenticity and genuine humility matter. This blogger appears vacant of those qualities and it brings me little pleasure to write about it; however, I have been bolstered by my new band, “Vomit and The Loo,” appearing yesterday only, and this blogger can suck it. This blogger has created and continues to create its own vortex of drama and demise; this blogger’s minions will retire eventually as the Universe sees through you, darling blogger. We are a small circle. To quote one of my favorite movie lines of all time (Gladiator), “The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end.” That is all. Cheers.

Moving on … nothing to see here …

If you have been following me, you are savvy that I’ve been repeatedly unwell with random illnesses the past month. I posted yesterday: “Norovirus has checked in. Don’t send chicken soup.” Many people replied with comments of well wishes and advice on the management of the illness; I am very grateful.

My immune system has been put through the gauntlet, not the metal glove, but the second reference: “military: to receive blows while running between two rows of men with sticks.” That gauntlet. All of my kids have been sick as well, placed on various antibiotics to cure them. A little horn-tooting: Last week, I wrote a post about the dangers of antibacterial soaps and cleaners and I am thrilled to say that it has enjoyed more shares, more likes and more traffic than anything I’ve ever written. Please read it and heed its warning: THROW OUT THE ANTIBACS. The horrid reality of the antibacterials is this: THEY ARE MAKING US SICKER. STOP USING THEM; I am sure I got sick — YET AGAIN — because my kids are coming home with antibacsoap all over them. We don’t use them in my house. EVER.

That post even got more shares than my candid and humorous post about my own challenges with Pre-Menstrual Disphoric Disorder PMDD (I have received comments from readers that men don’t believe it; LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, “MEN“: that shit is real); if you know a moody someone with a uterus, please read it; PMDD can happen at any stage of life.

Despite that last comment I just made, I am on the mend. So today, on Facebook I posted, “I am alive.” People have responded affirmatively (thank goodness!), which makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing. But posting this stuff made me think, “What did we do before Facebook?” Well, we got out of bed and we went on with our day. For someone like me, a SAHM, there are myriad chores I have blown off: my kids’ rooms need to be painted and updated, I need to paint the wood trim around the house, I could edit my book more than I am… I could prepare dinner more quickly than I do… LAUNDRY… but really, I guess what SAHMs did before Facebook, at least according to Mad Men, is that many of them drank a lot. They were depressed. This staying at home stuff is hard; first, there’s isolation, then there’s boredom, and other stuff. I suppose with Facebook, at least people can communicate.

Another Norovirus-inspired question: What did I do before blogging? Why blog? — I’ve read a couple posts lately where bloggers have sort of come out to defend (wrong word, but right tone) their blogs. I suppose I could do the same; I won’t. I blog because I can. If no one reads it does it make it less valuable an exercise to me? No. But both of you do read it, so that’s why I do it as well. I write because you read; you read therefore I write. At times I blather, like now; other times I am a freaking madwoman resource. I know that what I do brings value to me and at times to you. If nothing else, you know that there is one less abstract-thinking person on the road because I am here writing. That must bring you some relief…. eh?

Moving on… ps –  I am NOT A MOMMY BLOGGER. Please don’t ever make that mistake about me. There is nothing wrong with that tribe of bloggers, but it’s just not my gig.

This past weekend was our Second Christmas. I posted this on my Grass Oil Facebook fan page, mostly because I’m leery of posting stuff my dad reads, even though he is subscribed to this blog…

Yesterday, my sibs, parents and I gathered our broods to celebrate our second Christmas as the snow gently fell around us outside my home. My heart swelled with overwhelming gratitude that we shared those 27 hours together as I drove home from the airport today after bidding my brother and his family farewell. Our parents are aging, precipitously, and I can’t help but think the time together was perfect because it might’ve been the last best time for our mom.

Forgive me for the maudlin post, I just needed to express something on this wall instead of my personal one. I don’t understand the phenomenon of public disclosures like this, but I understand how they can help us feel heard and not so alone.

My mother’s health is failing. She will be 79 in June; she has let herself go for years, I’ve witnessed it most of my life; she has been lost emotionally and tactically. She has suffered so much loss in her life as well; the kinds of loss no one should have to bear, but these are her stories to tell. Our relationship has always been strained but my love for her is abiding; she means well, she just had trouble connecting the dots.

I’ve alluded to this before in my posts, but I came from no small measure of dysfunction. My parents’ relationship at times reminds me of the film, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” starring no one else but Hollywood heavy-hitters and likely arch rivals, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis; I truly marvel at how they’ve managed to stay together.

Now my sibs and I are preparing the next stages for their twilight years. It will be an uphill battle as my mother likely suffers from dementia and my father can be stubborn and difficult. But he came to us this time… so far, no inciting crisis to address, just woe and weariness. I will likely write about this more. I used to keep it under wraps because I fear my father’s judgement and his unrealistic assessment of my fame so I hope that doesn’t bring you down. I know that I will be writing about this for my sanity, from my perspective because as much as this is a situation of theirs, it’s a story of mine as well. I’ll likely come up with a theme so you can decide to not read it when I post. But the fact of the matter is: we all get old and we all die. This will be good for me to do.

Thank you.