Monthly Archives: September 2010

Get off the pity pot before you get a ring on your butt!

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Let’s imagine that you are a victim. You are the victim of a horrible crime or natural disaster. Can you imagine how that would feel? It would feel bad, depressing, discouraging, desolate. It would make you simultaneously angry and fearful. Being a victim can make one feel crazy because of all of the emotions. But most of us don’t want to wallow in the idea of victimhood. Most of us want to find a way out as soon as possible.

Now, what would you do with the overwhelming emotions?You could shut down and refuse to feel, possibly isolating yourself so that you will never be the victim again. You could become judge and jury for the rest of the human race, always pointing your finger at others, knowing exactly what their sins are and what they should do to fix themselves so that they would be more acceptable to you. You might decide to walk thru the pain and heal, bringing yourself from victimhood to survivor, ready to help other victims who want to find their peace. It truly is a choice. But being a victim means you don’t see that you have choices.

Choices are a funny thing. Many times we refuse to acknowledge our choices because then we can stay safe in our victimhood. And if you sit in victimhood long enough, it becomes comfortable. It becomes familiar and safe. Kind of like a baby in a dirty diaper. Babies scream when you remove their dirty diaper.Not because they enjoy sitting in their own filth but because they have become comfortable with it and change is cold and disturbing. So, they scream and cry and kick and flail. Yet, when it’s over, they are more content then they were before.

Being a victim is different from playing a victim. Bad things happen to us all. We get to decide how we will deal. Some of us will decide to use a situation to our advantage and soak up the pity that others surround us with. Then, we will manipulate those people so that they will always see us as a victim and never take their pity from us. Because some of us confuse pity with love. We can manipulate them to do things for us. The sad thing is, we don’t recognise that the people who we think we are controlling with their pity for us, are actually using us for what they believe they will get. It isn’t love.It is the farthest thing from love. It is conditional acceptance.

Now, to play a victim one needs to have an audience. The “victim” needs to put on a show. There needs to be an incident and an evil nemesis. All the better for the “victim” if there is more than one evil nemesis. Now, the unaware audience become players in the drama. They immediately fall into line with whatever the “victim” tells them. Ofcourse, there is the back story which makes the “victim’s” story believable. The “victim” selects only audience members who will believe the story.

And even when the truth comes out, the “victim” will hang on and spin the truth so that they do not lose their audience participation. Because there is no sense in playing a “victim” if there is no one watching. If a “victim” loses their audience they have lost their victimhood and they are left with themselves. And “victims” are nothing without someone to blame. They are a shell.

Some of the most incredible people I have ever met are the ones who have come through hell and do not expect or accept any pity from anyone. They are strong and healthy. They don’t believe what they hear. They know there is always another side to every story, and they take responsibility for their own issues. They are not victims, they are survivors. But not just survivors, they thrive, despite of or because of, their experiences. They gain wisdom and strength from their circumstances. They don’t judge others, they are generally happy and they love unconditionally. They have boundaries and abide by them and they find worth in everyone without trying to manipulate others.

And these survivors are not perfect. They are just responsible for their own selves. They don’t blame, they don’t hide, they don’t judge.

I aim to be one of the survivors. I fall short sometimes. Victims, martyrs and saints. Sounds like people we might feel sorry for or have a sad respect for. But to BE one of these labels is life draining, not just for the victim, martyr or saint but for those who genuinely care for the victim, martyr or saint. It is exhausting to care for a victim’s emotional seizures. It is depressing to never live up to the standards the martyr has set and no one can ever compare to a living saint. No matter that these labels are never accurate.

Bad stuff happens, we get to decide how we will deal with it. We always get to decide who we will be and how we will love. It is a choice. And no matter what, we always have choices. Once we understand that, we can no longer be a victim. And just like changing a poopy diaper, it is cold and uncomfortable but it is so worth it. Don’t be a victim of shit and if you think playing the “victim” will win you love and admiration, you are wrong. All it will do is give you a horrible case of diaper rash.

The Benefits of Having a Stalker

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How productive! Insted of throwing it, she made it into a clock!!

Some things seem so random to me.

 I have successfully left alot of unhealthy behaviors in my past and moved on. It has not been easy but I work hard on becoming the woman I want to be. The mother I want to be. So, when I am attacked from behind, I have to stop and wonder if the attacker truly spends their days and nights thinking about me. I guess that’s what stalkers do.

I told you about my first stalker. Now, my second stalker is different. She is not a pedophile, I don’t think… and she is not stalking me for me. She is obsessed with me and my family. I guess I should be flattered, but really I find it disconcerting and very insane not to mention annoying. I suppose it is naive of me to believe that just because I have grown and changed that other people have also. That’s not how it works. Otherwise, I would have surrounded myself with healthy people and then instantly been transformed into a healthy person myself without any hard work.

Now, my current stalker utilizes all the modern technologies. She has hacked my email and followed me to message boards. She has called a few times but for the most part has taken a shine to the Facebook. It’s one thing to stalk me, but stalking my kids is just ridiculous. I suppose that stalkers in general are so filled with a sense of self-importance that they truly believe that the people they turn their attentions to will feel gratitude. They do not understand that their attentions are unwanted and unappreciated. Who can really understand the mind of a stalker?

But it occurs to me, to be a stalker, one would have to spend alot of time thinking and planning a way to get to the prey. In other words, a stalker would have to spend time in the shit. The dirty, smelly, sticky, shit. Because if one is planning to hurl shit, one has to touch shit. One has to become very familiar with the properties of shit so as to be able to throw it and hit their mark. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. Nor does it say alot about the type of person a stalker is. Because we all know that if you play with shit, you get shitty.

Sure, I got hit with the shit, but she had to “become one” with the shit to be able to sling it. Me? I can wipe it off and keep on keeping on. Her? Well, I am not sure if you can ever get rid of that kind of shit. Then again, everyone has the ability to change, if they really want to and seek out new ways of living. I have.

Anyway, I do have gratitude for the fact that having a stalker again has given me a chance to look at myself and my ways of being an adult. I found myself lacking and so I changed some behaviors. Having my stalker also intimidate and harass my children has made us communicate about issues that I have tried to keep from them. Like stalkers and unhealthy behaviors and what to do when hit with flying shit. So, it has been a mixed blessing and a learning experience. No one is perfect, we all just do the best that we can in this life. If I make a mistake, I have the ability to apologise and make amends and move on. No longer stuck in the shit. In the grande scheme of things, it’s all a shiny turd shower that will eventually pass and the grass will be greener for the fertilizer.

Hospice,you got some learnin to do…

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from a queen size, maple, 4 poster to this? Yuck.

My dad was a throwback to a simpler time. A time where people used candles and there was no such thing as TV and food was made from scratch. Like the Victorian era. So, when he was dying, he refused to get a hospital bed. He was dying on the blue velvet antique settee. Jim tried very hard to get him to see that a hospital bed would be much more comfortable. Jim didn’t understand that my father was not giving up. My dad figured his terminal cancer was simply a matter of mind over matter. Getting a hospital bed meant giving up. And also, hospital beds are ugly. Do you think Queen Elizabeth died in a hospital bed?

But in the end, the hospital bed was delivered and I took up the blue velvet antique settee as my bed, as it was right next to the hospital bed. Jim slept in the blue leather wingback that was also a recliner. NOT your average Lazyboy.

Dying is not a very structured process. It is not predictable. At least not for those of us who have never done it before. Hospice gave us a general outline of how the end would look. But they didn’t give us details. Back in the day, people attended to each other during the dying process and so they would know what to expect and what the stages of death were and pass on that knowledge generation to generation. But in modern times, hospitals and professionals have taken over those roles and they keep the specifics to themselves. So, when my dad chose to die at home, Jim and I had no real idea of what that was going to look like.

About a week and a half before my dad died, he was determined to get out of the hospital bed and use the bathroom. He was a very dignified man and he didn’t want to be someone who had to use a bedpan. So, everytime Jim or I left the room, there was dad swinging his legs over the side of the bed and teetering off to the bathroom. The thing was, he was about 100 pounds and had stopped eating anything real months before so his walking was really more like luck. At one point, I walked in as he was attempting one of his bathroom hikes and he looked at me and afer gathering a bit of strength he said to me “Turn your head. I am without pants.” This cracked me up, but did nothing to deter him from his bathroom expedition.

A few days later, he decided that he needed to go to work. His business, which was about a mile from his home, the funeral home, was being run by his business partner. It was right smack in the middle of the village and on a warm May afternoon would no doubt have lots of people strolling by. My dad was going to get in his car and drive there. There was no stopping him. I tried to bribe him, lie to him, beg him, physically stop him from leaving the house. This is one of those typical things that dying people do. They get a huge burst of energy just before they actually give up to the process and there is nothing that can stop them. The worst part was he was again “without pants”. So, as he was headed out the front door I was getting him to step into his pajama bottoms. I finally caved and drove him to the funeral home (remember this is his business, I wasn’t just dropping him off to some random funeral home). It was just me and dad. Jim was running errands and dad didn’t like any of the home health aids Hospice had sent. So, it was down to Jim and myself and dad was having paranoid delusions concerning Jim so really, it was just me.

I got dad into the passenger side and I hopped into the driver’s side. Dad turned to me with tears in his eyes and said “I love you for doing this for me.” What he didn’t know is I totally understood his overwhelming desire to get out. Get out of your skin, get out of your head, get out of your life. I knew those feelings.

 So, off we go to the funeral home. I took the long way, which was about 2 seconds longer than the short way. I tried the whole way to convince dad that we didn’t really need to go there. He was already losing steam. I explained that his business partner might be there, or a family making pre arrangements or the people on the street would see him in his pajamas. Things that he normally would have rather died than let other people see him in this condition and not in his right state of mind.  But that day, he no longer cared.

 He explained to me how we would go in the back door. This was such a bad idea. The back door led to a set of stairs. I got him in without anyone seeing us. He crawled up the stairs and into his downstairs office. I went to get him a glass of water and when I came back he was laying so very still, I was sure he was gone. His breathing was so shallow. I got down on my knees to rub his back and he looked up at me and said “I’m not dead yet!” and smiled. Again, this is one of those things that Hospice does not tell you how to respond to. I just smiled back and said “Ofcourse not dad!” We talked some more about different things. Life things, past things. We actually laughed and then we cried. I was scared because I knew this was not what my dad wanted. He didn’t want to be the crazy guy who took off in his pj’s on some crackpot idea that escaping the hospital bed meant escaping death. Then again, he was having the best time he’d had in at least a few months. Our final adventure.

After about an hour of him floating in and out of consciousness and me not being able to get a hold of Jim, I asked dad if we could call the ambulance. It was obvious to both of us that there was no way we were going to be able to get him back in the car. As it was, his pain meds were wearing off and he no doubt had bruises from crawling up the stairs.  I had brought the supplies to keep him clean but didn’t think about bring the pain meds.He relented when the pain became intense and I called the ambulance.

When they got there, I finally broke down. I couldn’t in front of my dad. I had to stay strong in his delusion that he was fine and going to be fine. When the EMT’s came, I left dad to their care and went into the other room and cried. I wish Hospice had a pamphlet about these kinds of situations.

When I came back, they had dad on the stretcher and they were asking him about his pain level. He was smiling between the grimaces. Ofcourse, two of the three EMT’s were cousins and the other one was an old friend so dad was trying really hard to be the man these people knew him to be. Gracious, smart, compassionate to others joking and always with the smile. No one knew that dad had deteriorated to this extent which was exactly the way dad had wanted it. But now, everyone knew and I felt like I failed him.

They took dad and I waited for Jim. When we got to the ER, they had dad’s pain under control but wouldn’t keep him as his Hospice directive was to die at home not in the hospital. This ticked me off. I mean, obviously Jim and I needed some help, some direction, some professionals to step in and take over! But no, because dad said no hospitals when he was in his right mind, no hospitals it was.

How were any of us supposed to know back then how bad it was going to get? I had a birth plan with my first baby that said I didn’t want drugs. What the hell did I know? After 13 hours of labor (ok, after the first hour of labor) I knew I had made a mistake and I needed drugs. I was pretty sure I needed a C-section. Anything to get that baby out of me. And those professionals fought me because back when I wasn’t in labor, I had a brilliant idea that I didn’t need drugs or want them. Hospitals are not big on changing your mind once you’re into the process.

 Dad wanted no one near him except me. On our way home, he turned to me and said “Well, it didn’t work, but I’m glad we tried” and I knew exactly what he meant.

A few days later, Jim and I decided to take shifts. We relieved each other every two hours during the night and 4 hours during the day. On my off time I would crawl into dad’s big queen size bed and try to sleep. I was doing just this when Jim came gently knocking at the door. He stuck his head in and said “I think it’s time.” Funny how similar giving birth and dying really are. So, I pad out in dad’s terry cloth robe and Jim and I stand over dad’s hospital bed, watching him breathe. Very shallow breath. His eyelids fluttering with every inhale. I took dad’s hand and I said “It’s ok dad. We’re here. You can go. We love you.” and Jim leaned down to give him a kiss. Dad’s eyes opened and he looked at us both and he said “Thanks. Where do you think I am going? I can’t get out of this bed without you two trying to talk me back into it.” and he turned his head and went back to sleep. It was not time. Jim and I walked into the kitchen and giggled silently, tears streaming down our faces.

Hospice leaves out alot of details that could be helpful. Or maybe they did tell us but in the midst of accepting death is on it’s way and the medication procedures and the insurance ramifications and the pain and sorrow, we just didn’t hear about sudden bursts of strength or delusions or paranoia or the death rattle. We did the best we could with what we had. And we did laugh alot. At the situation, at ourselves, but never at death. Death is not funny.

Death, like birth is a unique experience. Both are life changing. Both have elements of happiness and sadness. Both are celebrated and neither can be avoided. And you never know what it will actually be like until you are in the middle of doing it.We are all born and we all die. That is a fact. Today, we have many, many choices as to how we are born and how we die. But no matter what we chose, the end result is the same for both. Life and death.

Hospice is a wonderful organization. But they should have a pamphlet titled “Turn your head. I am without pants. How to casually slip pajamas onto your loved one before they escape the house.”

It’s a “family” type bar….

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toss back a few of these and it really doesn't matter if you're balck, gay or a child...beer the great equalizer...

My evening started out with 4 of the most beautifully funny people I know and ended in the bar where my uncle spent his coherent drinking years. The N&H is now a gay bar. When my uncle was the star there, it was the farthest thing from a gay bar that you can imagine. It was a working class- linoleum floor- florescent lights- juke box in the corner that no one ever listened to- type of place. It was not a themed bar, it was not a bar that average people would wander into. It was a bar for the locals. It was a low class version of Cheers. And my drunk uncle was a star there.

He was still driving bus for a living at that point but his real job was holding down his end of the bar. They loved him there. His family had moved to a whole other state. But my uncle being resourceful, and using his last reserves of charm, found himself a girlfriend. She was a lovely woman. Red head, big boobs and very, very sweet. She had the mentality of Vera with an essence of Flo. Quite a combination.

She came with a son. My “cousin”. Now, as a child I had a HUGE extended family. But as the elders started to die off, the rest of the cousins started to drift. I wound up having more “family” than family. I had “aunts” and “uncles” and “cousins” who were not related to me in any way shape or form. But as we were from a northern state, I was taught to call my elders “aunt” or “uncle” as a sign of respect kinda like they say “Miss” or “Mister” in the south.

So, my uncle moved in my “aunt”, and her son became my “cousin”. My “cousin” just happened to be black. But that wasn’t something you’d want to discuss. We didn’t discuss the fact that my uncle was a drunk and we didn’t discuss that my “cousin” was black. In fact, it might have even been denied at some point. He didn’t have a father  and his mother was obviously white so……

He did have the hugest afro anyone had ever seen and chocolate colored skin (year round….he wasn’t just tan). But I guess those things could be indicators of some other race? Yeah, I didn’t think so. But it wasn’t polite to speak of these things….drunk uncles, black cousins, girlfriends with gigantic boobs, politics, homosexuality and income. I was about 6 when I learned these taboos. I bet that is why when someone else sees something strange or obvious at the same time I do, their reaction is always one of shock or awe and my reaction is, well, nothing. I mean, I wasn’t supposed to react, because that is rude and could embarrass someone or something. Whatever.

So, my “cousin” was getting confirmed in the catholic church. We got into our sunday best and went to a huge cathedral downtown. It was the first time I had ever been in such a beautiful church and sat through an entire roman catholic service. I was about 10 years old and I sat between my mother and father. Everytime the priest rang the bell my dad would lean into me and say something like “here comes the ice cream truck!” or “round one!” or “who’s at the door? Jesus?” which would crack me up and make my mother give us the Evil Eye.

Everyone was so proud of my “cousin”. And after this seemingly normal right of passage, when the other families were headed out to fancy restaurants or to their homes for a huge party, we headed to the N&H. They had set up the folding tables with some paper table clothes and they had peanuts in a dish and pickled eggs. I believe someone brought a cake. That was my first time in a bar. They didn’t shut it down for us either. Because everyone who went to that bar was “family” to my uncle and my “cousin”. Half the drunks in the city were there to celebrate my “cousin” becoming an adult member of the church. Good times. My grandma sat with her purse on her lap the whole time, my mother tried to organize everyone and my dad left as he had to work. My uncle was three sheets to the wind and I think my “cousin” left. But it was fun. I got to play some songs on the juke box and dance.

Tonight, we walked in and there were all sorts of good looking people there. There was loud, pulsating music and disco balls and a stripper pole. No where was there even a hint of the good ole N&H. Except the bar was still in the same place and they had Charlies Angels playing on the various tv’s around the bar…I believe it was the same episode that was playing on the black and white tv behind the bar all those years ago. I had a coke, just like I did when I was a kid (the bartender back then didn’t know how to make a Shirley Temple which was the biggest disappointment of the night when I was 10). There were no peanuts or pickled eggs, there was no drunk uncle being the life of the party. There was no spot for a little kid to show off her smooth dance moves to These Boots Are Made For Walkin in the corner and there was NO juke box.

Now, my uncle would have felt right at home there anyway because there was still alcohol and where there was alcohol there was my uncle. The gay men and women wouldn’t have phased him in the least. To each his own as long as they had vodka!!!

Me? I had a great time, last night and 27 years ago. Last I heard, my “cousin” had joined the military and was doing great. My “aunt” took a job with the airlines and got to fly for free. I have to assume all of the patrons on the N&H have long since passed away. Beer, picked eggs and peanuts are NOT the keys to longevity. Rather than being entertained by drunks telling dirty jokes, we watched a woman (we think, it was questionable) work the stripper pole and a bachelorette party do their Zumba routine (which I believe is illegal as not one of them had on their licensed Zumba gear….I was tempted to call the Zumba police and have them deported, then I remembered we were not in Arizona). It was sad to know that one of my uncle’s second homes was lost, but at least it went for a good cause!!

Rest in Peace N&H….you were a fine bar, well lit and friendly, even at 2am when dragging drunk uncles out. And gay bars, unlike 3d gay porn, are fun and funny, like a sophisticated drunk uncle. Long live the gay bar!!!