Posted in change, grief, mental health, sexual assault

grief – you’re doing it wrong

they found my mother on december 5, 2016. i can’t say she died on that day because they don’t know when she actually died. she was found in bed, nothing out-of-place except for the fact that she was dead. apparently autopsies are extremely expensive and the coroner decided one wasn’t needed after talking to her doctor. part of me understands that, she had heart problems, was an insulin dependent diabetic, and had survived breast cancer twice. they decided it was either her heart or her blood sugar and that was that. i wish i knew for sure, though.

my mother and i had a difficult relationship. we didn’t speak for the last four months of her life because she wouldn’t respond to me. we lived in different cities and i texted and emailed and called. she never responded. she didn’t even call on my birthday. for the second year in a row. not that i celebrate my birthday but still, a phone call would have been nice. i called the day before thanksgiving and left her a message that i hoped she had a good holiday, was spending it with one of my sisters, and that i loved her. i called her a few days later and left a message that i was just checking in on her, hoped she was doing okay, and that i loved her. i called a few days later, same message.

my last call to her was on tuesday, december 6, 2016, a little after 2p.m. i was just so tired of the game. i’d say something wrong, or wouldn’t respond the way she wanted me to and she’d get mad and stop speaking to me for a period of time. she’d ignore my messages, emails, and texts then call, the sad and lonely parent who didn’t understand why i was doing this to her. tired of the game i left her a message and god help me i remember exactly what it said.

well, i’m supposing if you were dead or in the hospital jeanne or michelle would have called to tell me, so you’re probably just home listening to these messages. you’re not answering my texts. you’re not answering my emails. and you’re ignoring my calls. i’m done, i’m just done. if you decide you want to talk you know where i am.

an hour later my husband called and said my little sister was trying to get in touch with me. she couldn’t, so she had called the switchboard at his office and left a message on his voicemail. i called her back and just said, “she’s dead, isn’t she?” that’s how i found out that she had been found. i left her that message and she was already dead. she had been dead for days. alone. in her apartment.

i grew up in a very abusive household. she knew about it and didn’t do anything about the physical abuse or the sexual abuse. she was a victim of emotional abuse just like the rest of us. i went back and forth for a long time wondering what she knew and when she knew it. why she stayed. all the questions we normally ask. she acknowledged it once then took it back and said she had no idea what i was talking about. she also told me that one of my abusers had tried to rape her in our living room. but she still let me stay weekends with him. she still let him take me. i found out at her service that she knew and had discussed it with her sister at least once.

she was a narcissist, a hypochondriac, and played passive-aggressive games like nobody’s business. she knew what was happening and she stayed. she let it continue. she told me lies about my sister and told my sister lies about me so that she could keep each of us for herself. like our love was only valid if it was hers and hers alone. but. i have to balance all this negative with everything else.

she loved to read and instilled that love in me. my first trip to the library with her she let me check out books on her card because my card wouldn’t let me have more than two books at a time. she never went anywhere without a book and taught me to do the same. she didn’t refuse me books, she looked at what i wanted to read and asked me why i wanted to read it. if i could cogently explain why, i could check it out (or she would if necessary). there were books all over our house and we had a whole encyclopedia set which was a big deal because it was expensive but it was awesome.

one year there wasn’t money for christmas presents so she had a friend who knew calligraphy make cards that presented each us with a “day with mom”. we could cash it in whenever we wanted and have a day alone with her, doing whatever we wanted. we went to the library, had lunch at home (grilled cheese sandwiches – she always put two slices of cheese on them which was a big deal because our cheese was a giant block of that government cheese, and hot chocolate made with milk not water), and spent the rest of the day reading. i still have my card in a desk drawer, she never actually made me turn it in.

when john quit his job and spent two years on the couch, drinking diet coke, eating m&ms, and smoking, she worked three jobs so that the heat and electric would stay on, they wouldn’t take the house, and all the other things that adults needed to pay got paid. the times there wasn’t a car she took the bus to and from work. when she worked nights i would meet her at the bus stop so she didn’t have to walk home alone. i had to sneak out but it was worth it.

somehow, i have to find a way to balance these two diametrically opposed views of my mother. i know that times were different when i was a child. none of the doctors reported the multiple times i was in the e.r. with pelvic inflammatory disease. none of them questioned why a 9-year-old had p.i.d. in the first place. none of them wondered how a 12-year-old ended up with lesions adhering her uterus to her bowel. there weren’t any mandatory reporting laws in the 70’s and 80’s or, if there were, the doctors just didn’t follow them. in high school i found out, after yet another exploratory laparoscopy, that i couldn’t have children because of the damage to my uterus but nobody asked any questions. nobody looked at my medical history and said, “hmmm. maybe there’s something bad going on here.” or maybe they did and just didn’t care. i don’t know.

but. i still have to balance my views of my mother. the questions i always thought i would have time to ask i can’t ask and now i’m out of time. i can’t ask why she married him. i can’t ask why she stayed. i can’t ask why she didn’t do anything. i can’t ask …

i haven’t cried.
i’m having nightmares.
i left that goddamn message and she was already dead.
she’d been dead.
alone in her apartment, tucked into bed like a goddamn fairy princess waiting for her prince to kiss her awake.
you could still smell the decay that saturday when i was there with my aunt while she was looking through papers.
i have to balance my views of my mother.
i don’t know how to do that.

Posted in books, mental health

i’m lying to myself

i can’t seem to pick up my nook. or my kindle app. or a paperback. or a hardcover. i’ve been listening to old favourites on my audible app instead of reading any of the dozen books i’m supposed to review. or the over 100 books that i have on the handy “own but haven’t read” shelf. or any of the over 600 books currently on the “want to read” shelf (which, i guess, technically is only over 500 because i have the former shelved on the latter as well).

i can’t pick up a book. i’m afraid of what’s inside of it. i’m afraid that i’ll be soaring along on the wings of the story and suddenly fall to earth as a character gets unexpectedly and viciously sexually assaulted. i’m afraid that i’ll be floating along on the updraft of an amazing character arc and suddenly find myself in the midst of a savage storm as the story i was reading turns into something completely and unmercifully different.

so i’m playing it safe. i’m revisiting old friends who do the same things every time i visit them. i’m listening to stories i’ve listened to a dozen times before knowing that nothing evil is suddenly going to pop out in the middle of the chapter; well, nothing evil that i wasn’t already expecting, that is. and in the meantime, i keep adding things to my “want to read” shelf and my “need to review” shelf. and i keep wondering, was it too many bad books in a row or have i actually hit the point where i don’t want to read any more?

and that’s a very frightening question to be asking.

Posted in books, mental health, quitting a book, sexual assault

rape is not a plot point

i’m now abandoning my fourth book of the year. the fourth book i’ve stopped reading in (not quite) six weeks because i have a personal policy of not reading books that depict the abuse (physical, sexual, or mental) of children or books that use sexual assault (attempted or otherwise) as a “plot point” for the story development.

i don’t mean plot point as in the main character is a sexual assault survivor and the events are pivotal to the character’s development. i mean we have a relatively good story about magic and demons and the main character (who happens to be female) for absolutely no reason necessary to further the plot or her story is sexually assaulted by a demon. why? it’s not germane to the story. we all know that demons are evil and brutal and evil and mean and evil. why is it necessary for that character to be sexually assaulted?

when did it become fashionable to be stuck at a character development point or a major plot point and reach for physical or sexual abuse? again, i’m not talking about a novel that is focused specifically on those issues; i’m talking about a perfectly good murder mystery that is running along, building tension, and all of a sudden the end is “oh, well, the mom was sexually abused so she was actually abusing her son but nobody knew about it and she was actually the killer because of all the abuse. the end.” wait. what? what does that have to do with anything and where did that come from? we barely even talked about that guy’s mother. that doesn’t make the story more interesting – it actually makes me want to throw the book across the room.

i try to be careful about the books i read. i don’t like westerns, so i don’t read them. i don’t like romances, so i don’t read them. i like a lot of different genres and have really had my eyes opened by a lot of different authors in the past few years. but it’s disturbing to be in the middle of a really good book and suddenly find yourself reading about the main character being sexually assaulted. or reading a graphic description of child abuse. or having either of those being the reason behind a completely peripheral character suddenly being the murderer because reasons.

sexual assault is a brutal, vicious, life changing attack. it isn’t a plot point. it isn’t an interesting way to add angst to a character’s life. it isn’t filler.

get help for sexual assault here.
donate to rainn here.

Posted in change, mental health

i love autumn

i love autumn.

the leaves change colour.

autumn leavesthe time changes to a more reasonable standard.

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image via

starbucks brings back salted caramel hot chocolate.

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did i mention the leaves?

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image via

now, intellectually, i know that the time change really doesn’t make a bit of difference after that first night. and, really, it doesn’t make a difference that first night because i sleep through it; BUT that time change makes a huge difference to me. i NEED that extra hour of sleep, people. it’s very important that the turtle gets all the sleep allotted to her and the theft of that hour is a personal insult and detrimental to her health. yes, i know i started speaking in the third person but that was only to illustrate the importance of the issue not because i’m a pretentious twit.

as for the starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate, if you haven’t tried it you should. with soy, no whip, and no foam. trust the turtle. it is absolutely fantastic and worth every single penny that you’ll spend on it ($4.85 i think? i use my gold card and really don’t pay attention to it until my card is empty. then i panic.)

the leaves speak for themselves. obviously.

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image via
Posted in books, mental health, social media

dear brain, what the fuck?

my brain just doesn’t want to focus on anything stimulating right now. i have books to read, i have PLENTY of books in my to read list, but i can’t seem to stay engaged.

going along with this, i don’t even have the patience for television; unless it’s dvr’d (is that a word? i feel like that’s a word.) and i can skip through the commercials. but that takes way more engagement than most television is worth. there are, of course, exceptions to that – broadchurch is fucking awesome and, well, that’s about it right now.

there’s nothing i can point a finger at and say, “that’s it! there’s the culprit!” i just can’t seem to stay engaged. it’s like my brain is just sitting up there, perched in my skull, saying, “bored now,” and anyone who’s ever watched buffy knows how that’s going to end — with blood and screaming and poor sandy being turned into a vampire (don’t ask, just go watch dopplegangland again) so that she can come back and try to seduce riley in season four.

maybe i’m reading too much. is that even a possibility? maybe i’ve turned my brain to mush by having the same reruns of the same shows on in the background whenever i’m working on things on my laptop. maybe candy crush saga has sapped my brain’s will to live with its refusal to let me get even ONE FUCKING STAR on level 56 even though i’ve been there for THREE FUCKING MONTHS. not that i’m bitter or anything. (and screw you candy girl who cries every single time i fail the level. bitch.)

in the meantime, i’m currently supposed to be reading four books (one of which i started in august) and the thought of even opening my nook is making me a little nauseous. even the thought of listening to an audiobook doesn’t fill me with thoughts of puppies and rainbows and …

oh! i just remembered! the hyperbole and a half book comes out in october! i must read ALL THE BOOKS so i can read that one!

fuck. i’ve done it again, haven’t i?

so much to say…

i’ve been trying to write an entry for a couple of weeks now. somehow it keeps ending up bogged down in facts and figures and statistics and links and that’s not what i want to say. well, that’s partially not what i want to say. there’s so much to talk about, with everything in the news in the past few months about domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse. and for victims and survivors times like this become overwhelming and it’s hard not to get sucked into the 24 hour news cycle. then suddenly we find ourselves irritable, cranky, overwhelmed, depressed, having nightmares, jumping through the ceiling at the slightest noise outside. or maybe that’s just me?

we don’t need facts and figures. we don’t need to have yet another person ask us why it matters, it didn’t happen to us. what we need is to take care of ourselves. light a candle that has a soothing scent. read a funny book. watch a funny movie or tv show. call rainn when it gets to be completely overwhelming and there just isn’t an explanation for why.

being a victim wasn’t our choice. it’s what happened to us.

being a survivor is our choice. it’s how we deal with what happened to us.

fuck them. they don’t deserve any more power or any more space in our heads.

if you’re overwhelmed call rainn at 800-656-hope or click here to chat online

Posted in change, mental health

change is bad, very very bad.

i tell people that change is bad, very very bad and i don’t think they get what i mean. for me, a change is any event that i haven’t specifically decided i want happening in my life.

as an example, let me tell you something that happened at the last place that i worked. one day, several of my male coworkers had a conversation about the relative merits of a woman naked and wet from a shower versus a woman naked and wet from a thunderstorm. there was a higher level employee sitting right there but he didn’t say or do anything about the conversation. neither did i. another time, those same coworkers had a conversation about how people coming out needed to acknowledge that they were hypocrites, liars, and abnormal. this time i couldn’t stay silent and when i asked if we could not have that conversation while at work, one of my coworkers asked if i couldn’t handle it. i said it was a matter of being in a professional environment and that perhaps the topic was not appropriate. a coworker a few seats down from me stood up and said, “and so long as you’re keeping track of who’s abnormal, i’m gay.”

when i approached a supervisor to report that i felt the office was becoming a hostile work environment, i was given a verbal reprimand. apparently politely asking for the discussion to stop was the wrong way to handle it, despite the fact that every training class i’ve ever been to (and i’ve been working since i was 15) said to approach the employee and try to handle it before approaching management. nothing happened to my coworkers. my husband and i talked about everything and i decided to quit.

now, quitting a job is one of the top stressors in a person’s life but i didn’t consider it a change. it was a well thought out, discussed, weighed, and planned decision that was made based on all the facts we had at the time and our decision about whether or not the situation would/could change in the future. this was a subtraction from my life, but not a change.

when i got hired for the position i hold now, it was an addition to my life not a change. again, starting a new job is considered a stressor in a person’s life, but for me it was a considered and thought out decision to make an addition to my life. not a change.

a change was when our corgi died so unexpectedly.

a change was when i hit a deer on the highway (and, for the record, that deer callously and with malice aforethought jumped in front of me with the intention of wrecking my brand new kia soul) and was out of work for more than a week and didn’t get my kia back for three months.

making an addition or subtraction from my life is a good and necessary thing. it’s like pruning a tree or a bush. it keeps my life from getting stagnant. but change is bad, very very bad. it’s unexpected, scary, out of my control, and never wanted. most people don’t see the difference when i try to explain this to them. i really think it’s just a linguistic barrier though, not a real difference in how we handle the events in our lives.