Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Laissez les bon temps rouler, cher!

Let the good times roll, and happy Mardi Gras! My thoughts are down south in New Orleans, wishing I was partaking of King Cake, beignets, and some chickory coffee, as well as some adult beverages, dancing down St. Charles and Canal Streets with the Krewes and the good people of the Crescent City.

When I was about 18 or 19, I went to a real live Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and man oh man do I remember it! I really had no idea what Mardi Gras was all about at the time, but it was an experience everyone should have at some point in their lives. I had never seen so many people, or such elaborate floats, costumes, and decorated homes! My friend, little (good) sister (!!!) and I walked along with the parade, totally unprepared for how long it would be, but still...we all get to say we DID IT!

Tonight our good friend Melissa Sigler, a Louisiana native, will be holding court at Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, but I won't be able to join her because Hubby has a gig tonight at another local venue. My heart will be divided between the two places, but my butt will be warming a chair at Hubby's gig. :) He's playing with another local artist friend of ours, Gordon Ellis, and also has a gig Saturday night at the Lipstick Lounge with a very promising new artist, Kat Hunter. Unfortunately, I will not be in town that night (boo!!), but I'm certain it will be an amazing night. Kat has some fabulous original songs, and includes a lot of outlaw country in her sets. We're looking forward to hearing a lot more from her in the future, and Hubby is very happy to be working with her, and with Gordon as well. He also digs working with Melissa, but hasn't had an opportunity to lately. They're working on it, though, and when they get together, Katy bar the door! (That means "watch out!" for those of you who don't speak Southern redneckese)

Had a good session with the therapist yesterday, discussing the funeral last week and family patterns I noticed while there. My take was that mom's family is overly pride-based, and dad's family is overly shame-based. Not sure what that makes me, other than screwed up in the head, which we all knew to begin with. Basically I'm in a good place right now, still a little more depressed than I'd like to be, but we're working on that with an increase in the antidepressant I take. I'm having some trouble staying asleep, and spoke with both the psychiatrist and psychologist about that. I feel tired during the day, even sleepy, though sometimes I have "slept" for 10 hours. My understanding is that Effexor can cause drowsiness, so I'm assuming that the recent increase in dosage is causing this, and that it's a temporary effect. I'm not taking any more Klonopin than I have been -- if anything, I'm taking a little less. I guess it's just a matter of letting my body get used to the different amount of meds it's getting.

This weekend I leave for Sanibel Island with my friend and her mother, who is a breast/bone cancer survivor (YAY!!!). I'm looking forward to relaxing, resting, communing with nature (seriously), and hearing the sound of the waves breaking 24 hours a day. I miss that about the place I grew up, Pensacola, FL. Though I didn't live on or even near the water, it was only a matter of a 15 or 2o minute drive to get to the beach, and I loved to sit and listen to the waves and smell the salt water. Sanibel has a basically south-facing beach, so I think we'll be able to see both sunrise and sunset on the water. I'm going to try to find that out for sure while I'm there. I'd like to take a dolphin cruise, if possible, and kick back and catch up on some reading. I plan to take some knitting with me, but I'm already laughing at the idea of knitting on the beach.

Try to drink some chickory coffee today, or at least eat something French-ish, even if it's just French bread or French fries.... Of course, if you can manage to get in a Hurricane or two, that would be much mo' bettah!

Au revoir,

Monday, February 27, 2006

Come Monday it'll be alright...

Anyone remember that old Jimmy Buffet-goes-country song? It's stuck in my head this morning, for some crazy reason.

Today is therapy day -- woohoo. Had to miss last week due to the funeral of my uncle. I wonder sometimes if there's reason to continue to go. I wonder if I'm making progress. I wonder if I do make progress, will I maintain it. Last week I saw the shrink who increased my Effexor by 75 mg -- now my dose is 225 mg. That doesn't bother me so much, I don't think. But not feeling completely better does. The shrink said I had a "complicated depression". Naturally, I translate that in my mind as "you are really crazy". (Remember, folks -- I'm just pouring stuff out here -- don't take anything too seriously -- just getting it out of my head.)

I think today we'll talk about the funeral and how that was for me, as well as seeing my family, i.e. my mom. I did have some rather rousing insights into my parents' family systems, which probably will be not a huge surprise to my therapist. I'm sure she won't be surprised that my sister thinks I'm not allowing her to call me -- neither was I, for that matter. I'm sure it further illustrates the craziness I came from. The question is, can I get away from it? I love my family, all of them, but I don't agree with a lot of them on many issues. I am the lone liberal of the family, both sides, which makes me a black sheep. At least I look good in black. :D

Not much to say today, I guess, so I'll close for now. But just for fun -- check out this link:
http://brud.info/ Yes, it's a monkey washing a cat. If that doesn't make you laugh, you are REALLY having a bad day.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Disappearing Hair Stylists! Grrrrrrrrrrr!

What is it with hair stylists leaving a salon and NOT LETTING THEIR CUSTOMERS KNOW WHERE THEY'RE GOING??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Today I called to make an appointment for a cut with the FIRST stylist I've found in Nashville that I TRUST IMPLICITLY, only to find that she no longer works there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Note to any Hair people reading this post: for God's sake, LET US KNOW WHEN AND TO WHERE YOU MOVE!!! We will FOLLOW you, giving you a built-in clientele! If you don't let us know, we are A: PISSED OFF, and B: CLUELESS about who to ask for at your old shop, or at the new shop we now have to find because YOU ABANDONED US!

Let me just reiterate: GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Friday Friday Friday

That means Yay! Yay! Yay! Not that I have any special plans, other than NO PLANS until Sunday -- then it's church, but that'll be uplifting, at least.

It's really been a long week and both Hubby and me are whipped. The kitchen and bedroom are virtual wrecks, as we've not even had a chance to unpack from our lovely trip last week, followed by the sad funeral trip this week. I suppose that's what we'll do most of the weekend, but at least it will be here in our own home, on our terms.

I learned while I was at my mom's this week that the bad sister thinks I'm preventing her from calling me. This is because when I wrote a postcard to her daughter, I said "Tell your mommy to help you write me back". What I meant was that my 7 year old niece should get her mom's help with getting my address and an envelope & stamp. 'Scuse me for being so obtuse, apparently.

Hubby's daughter sent us an invitation to come hear her and the grandkids sing at several events in March and April. Daughter is an operatic soprano, and has an absolutely glorious voice. However, we are not going to be attending these events, and she, I think, knows that. I did write her back, thanking her for the info and asking that if these events are taped, would they send us a copy? I told her, too, that we were very proud of her and the kids and wished them the best with these performances. Wonder if there will be a response?

That's it for today, people, or person, as the case may be. I'm about to veg on some back to back episodes of "Charmed" on TNT. I really wish I had Tivo or a DVR -- I would Tivo "Judging Amy" and a bunch of other stuff so I could watch it whenever I wanted. Of course, I have the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" DVD here to watch, which totally rocks, but I'm not sure if I'm interested in rocking out right this minute. Maybe later this weekend. ;)

Best wishes to all, and peace!


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Unique opportunity for perspective

We are now home from the family funeral in Florida -- over 1000 miles driven within the course of about 60 hours. We are both tired, but also both very happy to be home, so it balances out.

Uncle's funeral was beautiful. He chose some interesting music to be played, including Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me Lord?" I had to stifle a giggle at that one, because when it first became popular, somehow my brother and I associated it with that stupid song on HeeHaw -- you know, the one that goes "Gloom, despair and agony on me..." to which someone would moan pitiously, cracking everyone up. Oh well -- I can't help my upbringing! I got to see a lot of my 32 first cousins, and loads of the 100 and waaay plus second cousins, and even some third cousins. Most memorably, I got to meet my cousin Cynthia's children for the first time. Her daughter is her spitting image -- it really took me by surprise when I saw her. After the service, I went up and introduced myself and told her children how much I loved and missed their mother, and that she was a wonderful person. They all seemed genuinely glad to meet me and to hear this, but her daughter in particular seemed very moved. I realized afterwards that these kids were there, at their grandfather's funeral, without their mother to comfort them. They had aunts and uncles and their grandmother, but not their mom or their dad. As I was leaving, I saw someone waving at me through a tinted car window, and when I got close enough, I saw that it was Cynthia's daughter. She rolled the window down and thanked me again for what I'd said. Later in the evening, after I was sure my mom was home, I called her to ask her to get this girl's email or regular address for me, so I could tell her stories about her mother and grandfather, not to mention her aunts and uncles. I feel a very strong desire to get to know this young woman, and I hope she'll be interested as well. The look in her eyes when I told her how much I loved her mother was beyond words, and I feel she needs someone. Maybe I need her too.

Here's what I got in the way of perspective: my mom's family has too much misplaced pride, and my dad's family has too much misplaced shame. No wonder I'm crazy. I sat there for the last few days hearing about how this brother had said this to my mom and wasn't welcomed at her house for a while, and how you can't look at one of her sisters wrong or she'll get mad, and how my grandfather said you never take sides with anyone over your own blood, no matter what. There was a cousin at the funeral who was feared to be going to cause a commotion over something -- no one knew what, but everyone knew he was 'crazy' and to be watched like a hawk. I realized, too, that this had gone on in that family, probably from time immemorial, and that's probably why I never felt comfortable around these folks for long. Their ways were very foreign to me; their lifestyles unfathomable. Everyone is related somehow and there are lots and lots of open secrets, to which I was not privvy. Women cowtowed to men, period. Whatever my grandfather did/said was right and there was no questioning. God only knows what kinds of abuse people have suffered as a result of this very insular and backwards upbringing, but I'm just grateful my mother had the sense enough to leave there as soon as she graduated from high school.

On my dad's side, I learned that my grandfather was a womanizer and a drunk, and abused his family terribly. I also learned that an uncle by marriage had what is now clearly panic disorder with agoraphobia, depression, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. My aunt and her entire family suffered with this, because in those days, people like my uncle were seen as lazy, or no good, or just plain worthless. My aunt related to me many descriptions of the episodes he endured, and my heart just ached for her. She said the one person who ever helped her and understood without judgement was my dad, which explains why they were always so close. Now my dad is gone, and has been for almost 30 years, but my aunt remains. When I visit my mom, I always see my aunt if at all possible. 99% of the time, she comes to mom's house to visit me, though they live 40 miles away. Btw, this uncle died when I was about 15, and my aunt remarried one of the most wonderful men on earth. I have been very fortunate to have these men in my life. I remember my original uncle as a very kind man, always smiling. Whatever his struggles, he never let it show to us, and the same goes for my aunt. I told her after she gave me so much information that I am so proud of her, and am honored to be her niece. I told her that she didn't deserve the abuse she got from so many, and that she was the epitome of what a good woman is. She stood by her husband and her family, and never let anyone treat them badly. I wish I could somehow say the right words to remove all of her guilt, shame, and sadness at these experiences, but I hope what I did say helps.

She also told me that her daughter seems to have panic problems, so I was very open about mine. I told her to feel free to share with her daughter what I've told her, because I never want anyone to feel that they can't get the support they need from their own family. I do understand, and I do care, even if I don't know them very well. Keeping things quiet and hidden is what increases the stigma of these illnesses and disorders -- the only hope is compassion and education.

I also learned that my youngest sister thinks I am somehow not allowing her to phone me. All this because I wrote on my niece's postcard "Tell your mommy to help you write me back". What I meant was that she should get her mom to get an envelope and stamp for her, and maybe give her my address -- I wasn't trying to send 'hidden' messages to her. lol I have to laugh, because this is how it goes -- someone reads in something that is not there, and we're off to the races. God help us all.

Saw the shrink today and agreed to increase my Effexor dose from 150 mg to 225. We agreed that I haven't improved to the point I'd like to, and this will be a way to try to acheive that. I felt more comfortable with the shrink today than I have in the past, so I think things are going as well as they're supposed to. I see her again in a month.

Now it's time to make some phone calls, get some more appointments scheduled (ENT this time for chronic sinusitis, ear congestion, and throat tightness) and cancel some other plans. I was supposed to take a crochet class on Saturday, but I really, REALLY need the rest. I also am scheduled to take an 88 year old woman from my church to visit another woman who's in a rehab facility, and tomorrow night, have dinner with a friend from my previous home city, all of which I wish I didn't have to do at the moment, but life does go on, and we do need to keep our commitments, if at all possible.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Regarding previous "dark" posts

To anyone reading this blog, I want to make something clear. The reason I do this is to get things out of my head, to have a catharsis, as it were, so that I don't have to ruminate over things that I'd rather not occupy any more of my time with. I know that what I write sounds very scary sometimes, and probably really crazy, but please understand that there's a lot of stream of consciousness stuff going on here. I do not sit here in sackcloth and ashes with all the lights off, day after day.

Yes, I wrestle with some trauma issues, and sometimes they feel overwhelming, but that's why I do this, and why I go to therapy, and why I take an antidepressant, etc. I am actively working things out, by reading, by writing, and by thinking and talking with others, including friends (you all know who you are) and Hubby. He reads this every day, so he definitely knows what's going on with me.

So, I hope that makes things clearer and makes me seem less like someone who should be committed. By and large I am happy -- I have a good life, for the most part. I just have some crappy parts that have all ganged up on me at once lately. But, again, I'm working on them, and believe things will get and stay better, with time.


Bon voyage, Uncle Junior

I received "the call" from my parents about 20 minutes ago -- my uncle died. He had lung cancer, and had been in a great deal of pain. He slipped in and out of a coma during the last two days, but maintained at least some awareness of who people where and that he was not alone. My main thought now is that he is with his beloved Cynthia, and with his father, and his two brothers who passed before him -- somewhere. We will be leaving tomorrow to drive down to the Florida panhandle to attend the funeral services. Ironically, my Mom's birthday is Wednesday, so maybe I'll get to be with her some on that day.

Mom said she was OK, that this was the best thing for him, and that she was happy he was not suffering any longer. My Grandmother was "OK", too, but this is the 3rd child who has gone on before her, not to mention her husband. Of the 8 children she had, 5 are left. Possibly also ironically, all 3 females remain and seem to be in good health. As far as I know, the remaining males are OK too. Mom said that Grandmother realizes that she doesn't have much longer to live herself -- she's 85-ish. But then again, one never knows. My concern for her is more that the grief will do her in, not some physical condition. But again, time will tell.

I phoned my brother to tell him the news, and I was so happy to have him to talk to. We have not always been as close as we are now, but aging does make one a little more concerned about the quality of relationships with family members. He was going to phone our youngest sister to inform her. Our other sister has already been told. Of us all, I was the closest to this uncle. I really couldn't tell you what kind of relationship the others had with him. They were younger than me, and really weren't of the age to spend time with his children, 3 of whom were girls, and 2 of whom were older than I. His son was older, too, so I am pretty sure the rest of my siblings don't feel quite as affected by this as I do.

Here is a fond memory of Uncle Junior. He was a Shriner. When I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old, he came to town for a Shriner convention, complete with parade and all that festivity. He always stayed at the then-glamourous San Carlos Hotel, which was right on the parade route. When the parade time came, we'd meet him or he'd come get me, and we'd go downtown to view all the fun. After, he would take us to McDonald's, and let us get ANYTHING on the menu, as long as we would eat it. My parents would only let me order a cheeseburger or hamburger, so naturally with Uncle Junior, I'd order a BIG MAC, which was the newest thing on the block. I remember how special this made me feel -- like he thought I was worth giving whatever I wanted. I will never forget that. He always seemed so happy to see me, and always made me feel special. Special is a great thing in a little girl's life.

I will miss you, Uncle Junior, but say hi to Cynthia for me. You will both live on, at the best times of your lives, in my heart.

Your loving niece,

Cold, clear morning with Roger the cat

Roger, AKA the Might Hunter Hampered by Stupid Humans

Currently, it's 12 degrees here in the Nashville area, and yesterday's light snow is still on the ground in all it's sparkling beauty. We've opted, somewhat due to laziness, somewhat due to lack of desire to freeze our hind ends off, not to attend church this morning, which we will both miss. But, today, comfort wins out over spiritual sustenance in a community setting. For me, my spiritual recharging will come in the form of the birds who feed outside my kitchen door, and our cat Roger, who spends hours enjoying, and probably fantasizing about his domination over, these some 40 species who've gathered on our deck at one time or another. It is a supreme joy to watch him try to find some way, yet undiscovered, to get at the little critters. He clearly understands that he cannont beam himself through the windows, nor can he make the birds come in to him. I am not sure what he'd do if he did come face to face with another creature -- he seemed quite terrified of my then-toddler niece when she tried to play with him here, so I think he might also not be so cool after all if he came face to face with the terrifying Goldfinches or Cardinals. But watching him ponder and maneuver is truly a highlight of any day.

Roger was a birthday gift to me from a "friend". "Friends" don't give you live animals as gifts, unless you expressly request them. So when Roger was dropped into my lap, and I fell in love immediately, Hubby was none too happy, to say the least. But I think it took about 45 seconds for him to fall in love with said kitty, and we've lived happily ever after since. Roger is about 18 months or so old -- we don't know exactly, because he was a stray someone found and was feeding outside their door. But he has a very mellow disposition, which is very helpful in this house. That does not mean that he can't be a hellion -- oh, but he can, racing about at what seems to us to be no provocation whatsoever, playing with anything, and I do mean ANYTHING, that he takes a fancy to, even for a few seconds. Yes, he has "real toys", and sometimes he plays with them, but he's just as likely to play with a bag, or box, or pencil, or whatever else he can get his paws on. I bought a large braid of sweetgrass while on vacation in North Carolina, and I must not have realized that these are, in their real lives, Native American Cat Toys. Color me surprised! Well, at least it's natural? That's my best excuse/explanation for Roger's penchant for dragging this off the table to where he can roll around and bat it about for whatever length of time he feels like.

On the other hand, he loves to lie in our laps, and he sleeps in his own little bed at the foot of ours. He curls up so innocently in front of the fireplace, surrounded by his 'babies', i.e. the stuffed animals he's stolen from us. He has puppies and kitties, and even a little teddy bear. He may choose to toss them up in the air, wrestle them, or curl up and sleep with them, and maybe even all of the above in the course of 5 minutes. You can never tell what will happen next when Roger is awake.

One of the things he seems to really enjoy is when we are packing a suitcase to go somewhere. He believes that the open lid of the suitcase is an invitation to play hide & seek, just like he thinks that making the bed is also an invitation. For the suitcase deal, he will scoot underneath the opened lid, and wait for you to call him, or to tap the top of the lid. This is his signal to "attack" you with his paws from underneath. When making the bed, he prefers to get involved before you put the mattress cover on, and stay in place until you make the entire bed, with him in it. If he only catches you straightening the sheets/comforter, then he likes to dash under the covers, lie on his back and let you play with his feet, also by tapping and scratching on the top of the covers, saying "Where's Roger?" There's also the Laundry Game, which basically involves you dumping nice warm laundry on him as he lies in the middle of the bed. He doesn't play with it -- he just likes to tunnel in it and leave his cute little head sticking out for you to admire. Ah, the joys of a kitty.

It must be time for coffee, so off with me for now. Looking forward to spending the day reading, straightening up our office, and trying to work on Hubby's website with my very rusty knowledge of Front Page and HTML. Oh, and catering to the real king of the castle, Roger the Cat.



Saturday, February 18, 2006

Beautiful snowy day

This is a day for being inside and doing little projects. It's about 25 degrees, and snow, or maybe just ice, is falling lightly now. It must have started during the night, as when we woke up this morning, the ground was covered and the trees are outlined in white. My daffodils are just about to burst into bloom, but I don't think this will have a lasting effect on them. Besides, the yellow and green will be more gorgeous in contrast to the white fluffy stuff.

Got a really good sleep last night, and have had a good morning so far. I learned this morning that my childhood favorite uncle is in a coma, and will probably die soon. He has lung cancer, which I've known for a while. I find myself not feeling terribly sad about this -- in fact, not sad at all, just resigned to what we all knew was going to happen eventually. What I find comfort in is knowing that when he passes, he will be with his beloved daughter and my beloved cousin Cynthia (one of the few real names I will ever use in this blog), who was killed in a car accident under suspicious circumstances a few years ago. I attended that funeral with my (now) late husband, my sister, and my parents, along with many other family members. I remember walking up to the open casket, which I *always* find barbaric, and nearly fainting at the sight of her, all made up the way funeral homes do -- not looking at all like her beautiful self, but more like some charicature of an old her. The Cynthia I remember and we all knew was beautiful, sweet, friendly to the extreme, vibrant, and full of possibility. No one could resist her -- she just drew people to her like a magnet. Someone spoke at her service, a distant relation to us all, describing how she made him feel in high school -- she was a popular girl, a cheerleader, and he was younger, and nerdier, but Cynthia very proudly and frequently introduced him to people as her cousin and really made him feel special. That's how she was. I was always so proud to say I was related to her.

There is suspicion that her untimely death was caused intentionally by her estranged husband, a known drug dealer and all around bad guy. Cynthia had fallen under the spell of chemical dependency/addiction at some point, and though she tried to conquer the monster, she had been unsuccessful for any length of time. My understanding was that at the time of this accident, she was clean and sober for at least a short time, and was trying to break all ties with this idiot husband, again. It reminds me of my own sister, who also seems to have some addiction issues, though I'm not sure if they are strictly chemical, or if she's addicted to being treated like dirt beneath her idiot's feet. I know her ex, whom she continues to live and have children with out of wedlock, brings her alcohol and drugs and encourages her to partake, then berates and abuses her for being under the influence, telling her she's an unfit mother, etc., yet continuing to supply the very things he says are the problem. Yes, that's really crazy, but that's them -- crazy to the core, apparently.

My uncle was devastated when she died -- he had been devasted previously by her choices beforehand anyway, but this was the final insult, obviously. When we buried my grandfather 2 years ago, it was next to the headstone my uncle had placed for Cynthia. (That's not where she's buried -- her husband's family somehow arranged with the local government to have her buried on his family's land, meaning we could not visit her gravesite -- hence the headstone placed where we could visit.) I watched my uncle cry over her, rather than really his own father, who died at the ripe old age of 89, instead of his beautiful daughter whose life was taken at age 36. Now at least they'll be together soon, if you believe in afterlife reunions, and I do, to some extent.

In the middle of making this post, I received a phone call from my longest-term friend's mother, who was like a mother to me when we were kids. I wrote them recently to thank them for all the ways they were better to me than my own family was. They were my fantasy family. They fussed at me if I did stupid stuff, but definitely let me know I was loved. When I was robbed at gunpoint at age 19 while working at a sandwich shop, my own family didn't seem to understand how traumatized and scared I was. I ended up that evening going to my "other" family's home and spending the night. They petted and pampered me, completely understanding the import of what had happened. They told me straight out, when I was about to marry my first husband, that I was making a mistake, that it was wrong, and that I shouldn't do it, but of course, I didn't listen. So, I also confessed in this letter to them that they were right, I was so very wrong, and that I truly wish I had listened to them. I should have said that a long time ago, but I just couldn't. Now, however, things have changed, and they both, Mom & Dad, are getting much older and much sicker. Mom has now survived 3 kinds of cancer (ear, skin, and lung), and Dad has emphysema, and is recovering from a broken hip, on top of Type II Diabetes, so I felt very strongly that I needed to tell them how much I love them before any more time or sickness passes. I'm so glad I did that. :)

And now to close -- I've been writing this for 2 hours now. That's probably enough, don't you think? I just had someone point out in an Instant Message that my blog is not updated yet, so the pressure is on!!!!!!!!!!! lol

Peace, and remember to tell the people you love that you actually do love them, even if it's from your past, and even if you haven't talked to them in ages. Life is short, and these opportunities are priceless.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Passage of time

Well, it's a bit later in the day, and things are a little less tender, thankfully. I realize the difficult part of the situation described earlier with step-Daughter and SIL are dredging up physical memories and feelings from the past. When I am somehow reminded of experiences that included violence and/or abuse that I've experienced, my body and mind simply react; those neural pathways are already in place, merely waiting to be reactivated.

What shuts them off, eventually, is processing them, which for me frequently, lately, involves a lot of tears and a lot of tightness in my throat while I think and think and think and think and think. I believe the nightmares go with all that. For whatever reason, my mind has to play out these difficult feelings and recollections in horrific, vivid detail. I've always had very vivid dreams, whether they be good or bad, and definitely dream in full technicolor, complete with sounds, smells, tastes, and the sense of touch. If it's a good dream, obviously this can be fun, but when it's a nightmare, it's truly a nightmare, in every sense (I use that term very specifically and intentionally). After one of these nights, I have difficult shaking the feelings I experienced in the dream, further complicating matters.

Tonight, Hubby came through the door with a bouquet of flowers, hoping that something beautiful would cheer me up. He didn't need the flowers to do that, but I do love receiving them. It reminds me of outside, of not personal, of a world out there that is totally unaware of me and my crap. That's a good thing. I need to be reminded of the fact that there is a world out there that has nothing to do with me and needs absolutely nothing from me to continue.

I hate for Hubby's sake that we've had to come to this point with his Daughter. We, but more I, came to this point with my own sister recently, and it was extremely difficult then, too. I try to maintain a relationship, or rather a connection, with my nieces and nephew, but I really haven't heard anything from them, even though I've sent postcards and a box of various goodies for Valentine's Day. My oldest niece in that family is 7, so I can't really expect her to interact with me on her own. Therefore, this so far seems to mean that my sister is not going to do anything to help them respond to me. I guess I am not surprised at that, but I have to admit that it does leave me wondering if it will be of any use to continue to send things. Maybe she just throws them away rather than giving them to the kids -- I have no way of knowing. I hope I will be very pleasantly surprised and receive a note from her/them soon. It breaks my heart to not be able to be as close to them as I'd like to.

As for Hubby, he now has to make peace with that aspect in his family, though this is his only Daughter and her children. I know that's different than just a sister and kids, though I have always halfway thought of my sisters as my own kids. He has spoken to his Son, who is a doll and a tremendous support and joy for him. He echoed many of my own statements and observations, so I definitely feel validated by him. I hope Son and Hubby and I can continue to maintain a very good relationship, as it means a great deal to us both.

Now we sit here watching the Olympics, not really caring about who wins or even what sport is on. It's just something to do while we enjoy the fire after a pleasant dinner. It's getting colder, and we may get snow and/or ice. We have a long weekend ahead, and that would be fine, to be "snowbound" for the weekend. I would enjoy the solitude with Hubby like we enjoyed so much earlier this week at Fall Creek Falls. We may not have the lake and waterfalls to enjoy, but we do have a beautiful backyard, complete with stocked birdfeeders, so there is no end to the entertainment value of just hanging out in the kitchen, looking out the windows.

So I'll close this evening's post on a much better note than the previous few. I still have some questions about what is going on in my body with these feelings of vulnerability and unprotectedness and fear and on and on, but I guess that's what I'll discuss with my therapist on Monday. Later in the week I see the psychiatrist, and will speak to her about the tightness in my throat and about the nightmares. Perhaps there's some different medication I could take at night that might shut off some of these terrors. I would greatly appreciate the respite.



I don't know what to expect of this post. I suppose I could say the same thing every time I write here, but today is more unseeable than usual.

Both my therapist and my husband's therapist have advised us not to respond at all to step-daughter's email. Apparently because of my own craziness/dysfunction, this leaves me feeling as though it is truly ME who has the problem here. Clearly it is, because I'm the one who's making a big deal of what sounds like is viewed as a non-event. I'm sure I'm reading this wrong, because I don't appear to be able to judge things or react correctly. It is becoming clearer to me that I'm crazy, that my feelings and reactions and thoughts are inappropriate. I don't understand why, but this is how it seems to me. Naturally, someone or maybe everyone will tell me I'm wrong, which I'm coming to believe is the status quo for me.

How do I ever trust what I think or feel or see? The answer -- I can't. What does this mean? What happened to make my brain and heart so screwed up? Is it ever going to be fixed? Should I resign myself to not interacting or engaging with real people in real life? It feels much safer here, which of course is wrong. It must be, since I don't seem to do/feel the right thing -- ever.

Yes, I'm feeling very sorry for myself, which is wrong, too. Yes, I want to crawl under a rock somewhere, and be alone in silence for time unending, which too is wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. That's me -- wrong.

My Husband now, and since I came into his life, suffers not only the disrespect and abuse heaped upon him by his Daughter, but also the craziness of a vastly mentally/emotionally sub-standard wife. I make him feel bad, which some would say is a co-dependent situation, but I'm sure I'm wrong about that too. He worries about me, feels he has to ask if I'm thinking of harming myself (no, but maybe I'm wrong), and is torn between, according to him "Now I must deal with my wife's emotions in addition to my own. Her feelings of neglect and victimization, memories of me not standing up for her by not standing up to my son-in-law in 2004 when I knew that to do so would only provoke a fight. I knew my best option was to stay silent and let him rage." Apparently, his response/feelings are "right", and because of me, he feels bad.

He further says, in response to a comment on his blog, when asked why we cannot see the grandchildren -- the question was "Doesn't he allow it?": "My wife is not the mother of my daughter, so she is not a blood relative. We were married in Dec. 2003. The 2004 incident was only the 2nd time she had met my daughter. So, in addition to my own feelings of disrespect from my son-in-law, I must respect my wife's feelings. This therefore precludes us from any further contact with that family for the foreseeable future, or until the son-in-law apologizes. I simply cannot force my wife into a situation like this, and for my own sanity I cannot allow myself to be disrespected like this in front of my grandchildren." So I am responsible for his not being able to see his family. Very very wrong of me.

On the other hand, I did attend Hubby's gig last night (he's a professional keyboard player here in Nashville), though I truly did not feel that I could handle being sociable in public. I was quite surprised that my immersing myself into a discussion of a variety of concepts surrounding music itself, media, and, later, spirituality, I was able to have a wonderful time. Was that wrong too? I don't know. I just know I was distracted for a while.

I have an appointment with my therapist Monday, but I don't want to keep it. I feel very stupid, and very childish, and very raw, and very unprotected, and very crazy, and very afraid. I had nightmares all night of a violent, horrific, unpredictable man -- the best I can recall the premise of the dream was that unless you did things exactly his way, really dangerous, violent things would happen, not just to you, but to people/places that meant something to you. No big leap of logic to figure this one out, but the very fact that I have nightmares so frequently, and so many which include my step-SIL and my ex-BIL (sister's abusive husband with whom I've had several violent experiences with) and my own ex-husband (abusive alcoholic, more emotionally than physically), not to mention the man who robbed me at gunpoint when I was a college student, indicates to me that I'm really really crazy and really really plagued with crazy people in my life. So, is there any point to therapy at this point, if the response to people who try to persuade you to collude with their delusions that nothing happened, nothing is wrong is to do/say nothing? I dunno.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

People really suck sometimes

Well, it figures that after a glorious experience, there follows a really crappy one. This time it comes in the form of a grown step-daughter who is selfish, clueless, and now about to sever the relationship with my husband and me, though I doubt she's aware of that quite yet.

The background: July 2004 -- Hubby and I are scheduled to attend his 40th high school reunion in Virginia, and attend a "jam" party being thrown for us by his musician friends there. Monday of that week, I am still awake at 4:30am, after working a late shift, and receive a phone call from my husband's ex. Their daughter and daughter's husband had an altercation which prompted the husband's arrest for domestic violence, and a 72 hour mandatory restraining order. I spoke with frantic ex-wife for a while, and offered to help in any way we could. I suggested she have daughter call back when her father would be arising for work anyway, and she did. Before daughter called, I spoke with Hubby and offered to go up there myself to babysit while daughter took care of getting a permanent restraining order and child support, but in the end we decided we'd both go, as it was his daughter, after all, and I'd only met her once anyway. So, off we go, me taking off without pay from my job and Hubby burning up precious vacation time. I babysit the grandchildren and the two other children daughter keeps for pay, and Hubby and she go off to file for the RO. He also accompanies her to do several other things, and we warn her about checking her bank account, which she does not do until the day the TRO was to expire. She discovered that he'd cleaned out their bank account, including the $25,000 home equity loan check they'd just deposited. (What a surprise...) Naturally, she freaked, but we'd tried to tell her. At 20 minutes before the TRO was to expire (we learned previously that they were having difficulty locating him to deliver the PRO because she gave them the address of someone she "thought" he'd be staying with instead of her own home address), enraged son-in-law returns to the home and tries to come in the door. Daughter is freaking, doesn't want him in, and is calling the police. Hubby is physically holding the door close, telling SIL that the order has not expired yet and he is not allowed in the house. There was verbal repartee, as you can imagine, though Hubby did keep his cool and used the broken record technique, reminding SIL that the TRO was still in effect. Meanwhile, as I'm trying to prepare dinner, the children are witnessing this and are becoming more upset and agitated by the minute. Grandson stated, with great wisdom for such a young child, that "I don't think saying I'm sorry is going to work this time", in reference to his Dad returning home. When the 20 minutes were over, the police had arrived and SIL was allowed in the house. He was still enraged, and the children were upset, as both their parents were now hollering at each other. I took them downstairs to the basement and tried to comfort them as best I could, but SIL stormed down the stairs to get the kids. I was petrified, but determined to protect them if necessary. I told him that his behaviour was scaring his children and he needed to calm down, to which he replied that I was new to this family (7 months of marriage to Hubby at this point, second time I've met these people) and didn't know everything that has gone on. I pointed out that I knew enough to know that his behaviour was not acceptable and that he was freaking out his children. He then took them outside to talk with them, and the police and Daughter followed. Daughter was hollering at SIL, SIL was hollering at Daughter, Hubby followed Daughter but did not engage in the argument. Then, SIL stormed back into the house and ordered Hubby and me out, saying we were not welcome there. He followed Hubby at a very close distance, as if to provoke a physical altercation. He tried to incite violence verbally, by implying that Hubby was too old to lift the suitcases, etc., and would not leave the room we had been staying in until he got our things together. Then we left the house. Needless to say, we felt pretty crappy, and decided to go on home, instead of attending the reunion and party, forfeiting our deposits, not to mention the 'vacation' we were supposed to have had.

Fast forward to the holidays, 2005: Due to a similar situation with my own sister, where we were called to help an abusive domestic situation, combined with job stress, and probably years of unresolved depression, anxiety, and trauma issues, I felt it was necessary to resign from my job. I began to see a therapist, and saw my family doc for an increase in my antidepressant medication, which turned out to be a bad idea. My depression increased, as did my recollections/dreams about previous incidents, including the one with SIL, when I truly felt endangered physically. Though Hubby had been calling his daughter weekly since this incident in 2004, despite her basic lack of response to us, he had never actually confronted her about what happened. He did just after Christmas, though, and told her specifically that SIL needed to apologize to him and to me for throwing us out and telling us we were unwelcome in their home. She responded that SIL "didn't hold a grudge" (what grudge would he possibly have, especially with me???), but indicated that she would speak with him.

Yesterday Hubby received a box in the mail from their family for his birthday/Valentine's day. It contained photos, candy, drawings from the kids, and a hat that said "Old Dude made of achy breaky parts" and a coffee mug with a charicature of a frog on it with the wording "Old Croaker". Again, needless to say, these last two "gifts" tremendously hurt my Hubby's feelings, and really pissed me off. I knew instinctively that these came from the SIL, and I have since learned that I was right. Hubby at first didn't want to admit his hurt, but I told him that I was hurt and upset by this slap in the face, after which he admitted he was terribly disappointed. Further background: his own father died at age 57 while shaking Hubby's hand on Hubby's 25th birthday, so the "old croaker" thing was incredibly innapropriate. I hid the offending items as soon as Hubby was out of the room so as to not allow reminders to dominate our space.

Today Hubby responded to Daughter: "Your package arrived yesterday. Thanks for the great pictures of the kids. I loved their drawings and Harry Potter Valentines." Daughter then responded with this:

I'm glad you liked everything. I thought you'd like the pictures especially . . . SIL put all those together . . . sorting through about 5000 digital pics on his computer since July 2005, then we had the rest on CD's from our 35mm camera for the beginning of the year, then he narrowed it down to 108 that we looked at together on indexes that he printed, then chose about 30 to print on kodak paper, then he cut all the pictures out while I labeled them and put them in chronological order in the album with some extras that we thought you'd like. Also, it was SIL's idea to go to the party store and get the silly "over-the-hill" stuff with the kids. Honestly, my idea was to at least get a 60th Birthday card in the mail since we're so busy, but SIL insisted that we needed to do more than that, especially for your 60th Birthday.

I know SIL pretty well and these actions speak volumes. I also know that he will not call to you about something that happened so long ago and he's never e-mailed anyone for any reason. I know you're looking for a formal apology from him somehow, but I honestly don't think it will happen and I don't think I need to dredge-up the past with him when things are going so good for us now (it puts me in a very difficult position). I've thought about it several times, but there never seems to be a "right moment" and I simply think it wouldn't be helpful at any time. I'm sorry for the way you feel, but I hope that you might consider that SIL's "actions speak louder than words" and call it "water under the bridge." It's my desire to have you & WIP be able to visit sometime (regardless of Son's wedding?--I've heard nothing from him) and feel welcome.
"Life is too short . . . " Love, Daughter

So, there we go. Hubby is seeing his therapist tomorrow to discuss his potential response to this email. I was also included as an addressee on the letter from Daughter, so she clearly wanted me to know what she'd said. My therapist says this is not my issue, it's Hubby's, though I feel traumatized and reminded of the trauma when I have to deal with things like this. I guess that's why I'm in therapy to begin with, huh? Hubby at first did not want to respond, but now has written a draft of a message to her confronting each crazy statement, and will be talking with his therapist about that tomorrow. One of the things he mentions is how this has affected me -- and I really, really appreciate that. I have had tremendous difficulty dealing with this sort of issue in my own family, and have finally cut myself off completely from my sister, as she is not capable of making any kind of rational decisions, and this has way too much effect on me for MY own good. Apparently, I am just a crazy-bitch-in-an-abusive-marriage-who-can't-function-healthily-and-expects-me-to-collude-with-her-delusions magnet.

I hate people.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The most meaningful Valentine

Ladies and gentlemen, this is where I spent Valentine's Day -- Fall Creek Falls State Park in my (now) home state of Tennessee. It was the most romantic, exciting, peaceful experience I've ever had with my husband, and I'm more than grateful for this mini-vacation. We both needed it, and I think we've returned to the real world refreshed, invigorated, and more sure of our relationship than ever. Last night, to cap off the lovefest, we attended a 100-city international event sponsored by Imago therapists, that showed us more ways to appreciate and communicate with each other. Now, I have to admit, some of it was a bit hokey and felt unnatural, but it was well worth the time spent and we did come away with a rosy glow that contributed greatly to our both having a wonderful, peaceful night's sleep.

We left Nashville Sunday afternoon, and drove through the countryside to Fall Creek Falls. The closer we got to the park, the more snow we saw, and then the more snow that fell, as we climbed up into the hills. As you can see by the pictures, it was truly a winter wonderland. I was reminded of the 2 weeks I spent in Norway a few years ago at Christmas/New Year's, and longed to return.

Our "Fisherman's Cabin" overhung the water, and there was no shortage of waterfowl nearby at all times. We were fortunate enough to have a southeast-facing cabin, so we were treated to both sunrise and moonrise, which was wonderful on the 13th, as the sky was clear, so we could enjoy the waning gibbous moon. The living area of the cabin had a wall of windows overlooking the deck and lake, so we kept the curtains open the entire time. We cooked, we listened to music, we read, I knitted -- it was bliss.

On Monday, my husband had arranged for a couples' massage in nearby Cookeville, and it truly made a difference for us both. We had lunch at a local (what turned out to be) dive, and then returned to the park. This was the afternoon that we took the snowiest pictures posted above. As Tuesday was my husband's birthday, I baked a chocolate cheesecake for him (thanks Purr!!), which was a marvelous finale to a wonderful meal of broiled steak, baked potatoes, and garlic caesar salads. Some friends gifted us with a lovely bottle of bubbly, which we enjoyed with our meal.

Tuesday was warmer, and things were beginning to melt, so we headed for the falls again. This time we were able to get much farther down the trails, and got the beautiful waterfall shot you see above. There are quite a few more pictures, but these were the ones that were most attractive to me. I really enjoyed the physicality of hiking and climbing -- I'm not known as much of an exerciser. ;) But I truly enjoyed being so close to such natural beauty, and am looking forward to returning to this park in a warmer time of year to see how much farther we can go when snow, ice, slush, and mud are not such problems.

I read a little during this visit, mostly about finding more peace in one's life, and about female mid-life crisis. It was comforting to hear that other women have also been where I am, and have made major and lasting changes to their lives of their own volition. My goal is to lead a more authentic life -- a life that is more suited to who I am and what I am. The key, of course, is being clear on the who and the what, and I'm working on that. Tomorrow I see my therapist for our weekly session, and truly look forward to telling her about this weekend.

The skies are clouding up here, but it's too warm for anything but rain. The forecast shows that snow/ice are possible this weekend, which is fine with me. My husband has Monday off work, as it's President's Day. There's a great thing about being a government employee -- all of those lovely holidays! I am very much looking forward to another fabulous weekend with him, but this time here at home.

On a different note, this morning I drove down to pick up an 88 year old woman, a member of our church, who wanted to visit another church member who's had a stroke recently and is in an assisted living facility. She was such a delight, and very very interesting -- actually, so was the stroke victim, who had been a social worker in her earlier life. It felt great to be able to help these two connect, and to make two new friends. On the way home from the facility, we stopped at a local Starbuck's for coffee, and we had a marvelous time just chatting. After dropping her back at her apartment, I began to return to my home. I drove through parts of town I've never visited before, and enjoyed that part. However, as I was crossing a bridge, I could see two police cars parked in the right lane ahead of me, and as I got closer, I realized there were two officers actually pulling a man back over the rail of the bridge to safety. Apparently, the man was attempting to jump. When I got even closer, I could see the man clearly, and was surprised to see that he looked so 'normal'. What could have been so bad that he'd consider jumping from a bridge?? Was it a lonely Valentine's Day? Was it a drug or alcohol problem? Was it 'simple depression'? I was gratified to see that the police officers (one a Caucasian female, one an African-American male) were very gentle with this man (a Caucasian, approximately 45-50, dressed appropriately and not looking drunk or drugged). I hope they were able to do more than transport him to a mental health lockup, and I hope they know how precious they are for doing their job so well and so compassionately. I will be praying for this man, and hoping he will find the hope he apparently was bereft of this morning.

May we always have hope...


Saturday, February 11, 2006

The sound of silence...and dripping...

Well, we did receive our promised snowfall, and may get more today. My guesstimate is that we received 2-3 inches here at my house, and I have pictures to prove it, which I will post to this blog later. Unfortunately, the temp is above freezing, so things are beginning to melt, which means constant dripping. And now, as I type this, the sun is trying to poke through a very overcast sky -- booooooooooo! I was hoping to match the Winter Olympics look for a few days, but I guess it's not meant to be. Bummer.

Tomorrow we head to Fall Creek Falls State Park for a Valentine's treat. If you've never heard of this place, let me just entice you with a few pictures I lifted from the website.

Obviously, these pictures were taken not after a snow -- or maybe loooong after a snow, but I am hoping that by the time we get there tomorrow, I can take pictures of these things, snow-covered. Below are a couple of pictures of the cabins we'll be in -- couldn't find many, actually, but will be sure to take some while there. Now, doesn't that look heavenly? Romantic for sure -- and definitely restful. We're looking forward to being virtually alone for a couple of days -- the park staff told us that the cabins were full for the weekend, but the park will be basically empty the days we're there, which is why we're going. Additionally, Hubby has booked a couples' massage for us on Monday at noon, so we'll have plenty of time to sleep in, and then have a nice lunch after. Smart guy, wouldn't you say? :)

I'm a lucky woman, people, in case you didn't realize that before. I'm blessed with so many things, but my greatest blessing is the love of a good man who can put up with my foibles and troubles and craziness, and somehow still think I hung the moon. In spite of the depression/anxiety issues I've face lately, life is GOOD. And will get better. I do have great hopes for the future, and all of them are possible because I have a supportive, mature partner. I wish that for all of you -- there is no greater joy, to my knowledge.

Peace, and love, and all that good hippie stuff (burning patchouli incense as I type...)


Friday, February 10, 2006

Hoping for a snowy weekend

We have a very snowy forecast on the table for this weekend, but I'll believe it when I see it. We had snow on Wednesday, though it didn't really do anything but cover the grass and trees. The schools here opened 2 hours late, but the roads, as best I could tell, weren't really affected much by the mini-blizzard.

Snow is very comforting to me. When I was a child I never understood why we didn't have snow at Christmas. Mind you, I grew up in Pensacola, FL, so the chances were zero and none. But on TV, the little Santa on the Norelco, or should I say Noelco, cruising over the snow-covered fake landscape made me think it was possible. Lying bastards, those Norelco ad agency people. Still, seeing a snow-covered landscape makes me feel good. All of the blemishes are hidden. Everything looks smooth and curvy. Other colors are more vivid against the background of white. I sometimes wish I could cover my mind, heart, and soul with something like that, but in the end, it always melts, and what was there before still is there. Maybe I should learn to dislike the snow.

I've been thinking alot of my late husband lately. I guess I'm still mourning him in some ways. I would have thought I'd have been through with that by now, but maybe some things have lain buried, out of sight, like something snow-covered. Maybe it's reading the "On Grief and Grieving" book that reminds me of those first days, weeks, months...the disbelief and raw, aching pain, deep within the wellspring of my soul.

Last night my Hubby was talking on the phone with a friend about the NPR interview with the film-maker who made the new Neil Young movie, and he told him that the "Harvest Moon" album had been very important to my late hubby and me. Then today, as I was driving to pick up my Hubby's birthday present (Valentine's Day baby -- perfect match!), the song "Harvest Moon" came on the radio, and I just dissolved into tears. The words of that song now kind of rip at my heart, where once they were joyful. It talks about continuing to love someone after a long time -- which represented for us the year he and I were apart, though still loving each other. We were married on October 9, 1993 -- the night of a harvest moon, actually. We danced to that song at our wedding, along with Rod Stewart's version of "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?". Our marriage was the culmination, for both of us, of years of wandering lost, being associated with other people who were so so wrong for us, and finally, FINALLY getting it right. We knew that together we were 'home'. Neil sings..."because I'm still in love with you, I want to see you dance again, because I'm still in love with you, on this harvest moon..." I still love him, and I know that, wherever and whatever he is, he's still in love with me, too. I'm grateful for the few years we had together and all we crammed into it. I'm grateful he is not in pain any longer, nor limited in any way. I'm grateful to have lived the kind of life that most women, and maybe men, dream of with a partner who is their soulmate.

I'm grateful, too, to again be married to a man who is my soulmate. I'm grateful he understands and honors my past relationships. I'm grateful he allows me full expression of myself, good and bad, happy and sad, reasonable and irrational. He can care for me in ways that my late hubby couldn't, and I'm very grateful for that, too.

Further, I'm grateful to my sweet friend who got me through the interim, in ways only a girl-friend could. She too cared for me in ways no one else could have, and let me care for her in unique ways as well. Having the ability to distract myself with helping someone else make their way in life was much more healing than anything else could have been. I'm grateful for the opportunity to mother her without being her mother.

I think, though, that I'm also, for the first time, sad and mourning the fact that I can't have children. I had a miscarriage in 1988, which means I would have had an 18 year old child by now. That was during my first, hideous marriage to an abusive, perverted alcoholic, so it's truly a blessing that I don't have that connection to bind me to him for life. I'm already bound in my mind, but at least it's MY mind and I don't have to allow visitation for that. But what would it have been like if I'd actually had a child of my own? I can't really imagine. My mother told me forever "don't have kids; you'll never have a life of your own". She was right -- I wouldn't have had a life of my own, but maybe I would have had a better one because of the love between mother and child. There's no way to know. That's why I'm grateful for my husband's grandchildren, and for my 4 nieces and nephews. The sad thing is, there's only 1 of those families with only 1 of those children with whom we have a totally uncomplicated relationship. The others either involve abusive, dysfunctional parents, or divorced parents. All live far away from us, so we utilize the mail a lot. I sent the Valentine's presents out yesterday, and wish I could see the looks on their faces when they receive their surprise packages. At least I think they'll be surprise -- maybe they've realized we're pretty predictable about holiday-type occasions.

On Sunday Hubby and I are leaving for Fall Creek Falls State Park, just a few hours east of us. I hope the roads permit that, but if not, we'll spend our time here in our cozy home, enjoying each other anyway. He's made reservations for us to have a massage together, with candles, etc., at a spa near the state park on Monday, and we're both looking forward to that. He's such a romantic, for which I'm extremely grateful. (Late hubby was too). His birthday, very appropriately, is on Valentine's Day, and I plan to make a Chocolate Cheesecake for him. He's a chocoholic of the greatest order, so I know he'll enjoy it. So will I, for that matter. I have a gift for his birthday, though his Valentine's gifts will arrive later -- or vice versa, depending on how he wants to see it. The main thing is that I will love him with all my heart on that day, and on that evening, we'll be attending a couples class on "Love Beyond Hearts and Flowers". This is part of a 100-city international event through Imago, which I'm not really familiar with. My understanding is that this event is designed to enhance communications between partners, and though I think Hubby and I communicate pretty well, most of the time, there's always room for improvement, so we're both looking forward to this. Thank God I have a partner who actually believes that putting work into our relationship is not only positive, but crucial, if we want to continue to grow together. And we do, we definitely do.

This post has turned out differently than I expected, but I guess I'm not terribly surprised by that. Since I've started this blog, I just start typing, and it comes out -- whatever it is. And I leave it here, knowing that one day, this might make more sense, or be important. For whoever reads this, thank you, and don't worry. I'm OK, and am going to be OK. I have a lot to get out of my system, apparently, and this is one positive way in which I can do it.

Looking for the snow....


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Typical Weirdness, for me

It's been a weird 24 hours -- kind of a roller coaster of emotions. The first part of the 24 hours was wonderful, really. I heard from several friends and got a lot of positive strokes, which did my heart and soul so much good. But somehow, it all kind of fell apart later in the evening. I'm not really sure what happened. Maybe it was because a friend and I were talking about internet predators and how it's impossible to catch them all. Maybe it was because I realized that it's just possible that I now regret not having been able to have a child of my own. Maybe it was because I was thinking of my sister's children, and hoping they're somehow ok, even though they live in what must be virtually "Hell House". Or maybe it was because I started considering returning to work at my old job, though I was surprised to find they'd want me back. I don't know -- probably a combination of all of that.

I talked with Hubby about the possibility of returning to my old job, and he counseled against it, which was also a little bit surprising. He's been having to carry the entire financial burden of this household since November, and he worries about having enough money to pay the bills. I thought if I returned to just a few shifts a week I could make enough to ease his mind and also not tax myself too greatly. But he thinks that if I did return to online moderation with the company I quit due to stress and problems with management, I would be zapping my strength that I need for recovery. I guess he's right, but I hate not contributing to this household. He thinks my depression is showing through because I did not take a morning Klonopin the last two days. I do feel the depression more right now, and my psychiatrist warned me that this might happen after the anxiety/panic was not so prominent. Let's hear it for the psychic psychiatrist. But now what?

I'm hoping that now that I'm on 150 mgs of Effexor (since yesterday -- we titrated the dose over the last 3 weeks to wean me off Lexapro and Buspar, and on to Effexor) I'll start to feel better soon. It's not that I feel as bad as I did 6 weeks ago, but it's a little disconcerting to feel this gloom again. Life is complicated, isn't it?

Got all of the nieces, nephews, and grandkids' Valentine's Day gifts mailed, along with a gift to my sister-in-law. She is mentally retarded and lives in a group home in Virginia. I included a bag of goodies for the staff and other residents -- I hope she follows directions and actually shares with them! Either way, I know she'll be tickled to get a package from us. She always is, and that's a delight for me. I love her phone calls, as she now talks more and in complete sentences, rather than just one word answers. Sometimes she's unintentionally funny, but then again, sometimes I think she means to be. Hubby claims she's more with it than she lets on, and I wouldn't be surprised. I am looking forward to seeing her next time we visit the DC area, which may be as soon as April -- in time for the Cherry Blossoms. :)


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

People can surprise you, if you let them

Today I got several emails from friends that have left me teary-eyed with joy. It's hard to express the depth and breadth of my satisfaction(?) at the things they've said to me today. It's difficult for me to believe that people love me sometimes. When I'm depressed, as I have been lately, and probably really for quite a while, truth be told, I can't see the trees for the forest (and yes, I meant it the way I said it.) Even long-time friends seem like enemies somehow. Maybe it's because it's them I need the most.

I had not told others what I'd been going through recently until this week, basically, so I really didn't give anyone a chance to help. Why is that so hard for me? I'm always willing to be there for other people, I do my best to suspend judgement of others when they tell me their terrible stories, but I don't generally let them do that for me.

Because of the work I've been doing in therapy and on my own with books I'm reading, I have been realizing that I have to learn to be more open. I have been told that I'm 'hard to get to know' because I don't volunteer much about myself. I guess I'm afraid if people really know me, they'll realize I'm a fraud, not worthy of their love or respect, that I'm really just a child in adult's clothing. I'm not those things, of course, but something in me feels all of that and more. This is something I intend to try to conquer through therapy, etc. I just wish I knew why I can't just believe that people really care about me. Any thoughts??



What is it with me and dreams lately??? Last night I dreamed again of my late husband, and again, it was a bit disconcerting. What am I trying to work out in my mind? This dream involved flying to some Las Vegas-like destination, and the plane arriving at the airport before it was even open. The buildings were all dark, until we began to disembark. Then the lights started to come on, the escalators came to life, etc. It was a while before I realized I'd left my purse and my cell phone on the plane, and I told my late hubby I needed to go find it. Somehow, we got separated as I tried to find Lost and Found. From there, I don't remember exactly what happened, but I don't think I ever got my purse/phone back. In one part of the dream, someone in the Las Vegas-type place offered me 8 gold coins, which were actually quarters, as though I were a beggar or something similar. I didn't take it, because I told the guy when I found my purse and phone I wouldn't need it. Sheesh!

After my husband died, I couldn't dream at all. I wished I could; I wished I could conjure him up in my dreams, like many widow(er)s do. But any sleep I could was dreamless. I also couldn't pray, which was more disturbing. I'm not a 'religious' person, but I have always prayed and believed in the power and even necessity of prayer, for me, anyway. The only time I could talk to God was when I was driving, and usually then I'd be crying too, which probably wasn't the safest way to operate a motor vehicle. But it was the best I could do. I was so numb in those days (hubby died 3/27/99), and I felt so lost. I saw my therapist a few times, but the bottom line was that grief is not a treatable condition -- it's something that must be experienced fully, like it or not. I'm currently reading "On Grief and Grieving" by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the matriarch of the field. She co-wrote this book as she herself was dying, which I find to be very touching. Even in her own time of need, she helped others. I hope I can be like that when I grow up.

I talked to my mother this morning, and she told me some funny stories about my nieces and nephew, the ones belonging to my estranged sister. My oldest niece, almost 8, had to get glasses recently, but unlike some kids, she's very happy about it. She has some other friends who wear glasses already, and my mom and other sister wear them, so I guess it's not a big deal to her. When I was a kid, I think I would have been embarrassed to wear them -- kids can be so cruel with the jokes -- but maybe things have changed for this generation. I hope so. I have another friend who grew up in Southern California, and she's had to wear glasses from a very early age. She said she always felt so different from the other kids -- many of them may have worn contacts, for all we know. Growing up in SoCal is a little different experience than in some other parts of the country, I'm thinking. There is more emphasis on perfect, beautiful bodies there, and certain clothes/adornments. The sad thing is, my California friend is a beautiful, beautiful woman, and an even more beautiful person. There was absolutely NOTHING wrong with her looks -- she was an absolutely adorable little girl -- I've seen pictures and videos. Her little eyes sparkled and her smile would melt your heart. It makes me sad to think of how bad she felt when it was so unnecessary. I hate people who make other people feel bad.

I think of myself, too, when I look back at old pictures. I have always believed myself to be fat, since I was a child, because my family told me I was. I was put on my first diet around the age of 8 or 9, and even my siblings say they remember that I had to eat different meals than everyone else. My youngest sister commented that she didn't know how I could ever eat chicken, tuna or green beans anymore, since that seems like all I ever got to eat. But I look back at pictures of myself as a teenager, and as a young woman, and I WAS NOT FAT! How could I have been so brainwashed? Now, of course, I truly am fat -- I am obese, considered morbidly so. People who spend much time with me generally comment on how little I eat, and that I don't seem to eat things that are 'bad' for me. I guess the bottom line is that my body knows how to conserve -- it's been yo-yoed more times than Duncan (let's see how many of you get that reference!). I know that increasing my physical activity will help me lose weight, in addition to the things I've been doing anyway. (I've lost about 25 lbs. since November, partially because of medication problems, but also because I try to eat a very healthy and balanced diet. My current weight is 270 lbs.) My hubby and I frequently share a meal at restaurants, instead of each order something. If we do order separate dishes, we eat half (usually) and bring the rest home for another time. We eat a big salad every night with dinner -- don't slather on the fatty dressings -- don't eat fried food for the most part, though occasionally, being a southern girl, I simply MUST have fried chicken. We bake our own breads, with whole grains and as much crunchy stuff as we can cram in there. We use a yogurt spread as a substitute for butter, etc. etc. etc. I've come to believe that we need to eat more non-artificially enhanced foods, and it seems to be paying off. My cholesterol is 188, and my hubby's is a little higher -- he has a family history of hypercholesterolemia, but not so that it would be life-threatening. He does Jazzercise, and has for 18 years now, so that helps keep him lean and gorgeous, not to mention energetic. When I exercise, I tend to get a little freaked out by my increased heart rate (I have Mitral Valve Prolapse and Left Ventricular Hypertrophy, along with panic disorder -- all of this can involve rapid heart beat), and I really really feel uncomfortable sweating. That may sound silly to some, but I'm hot-natured, so making myself feel hotter than normal anyway is very unappealing. Still, I'm hoping to be able to add some regular walking, and maybe bike riding into my routine soon. I'm recovering now from the 'pseudo flu' and sinusitis/bronchitis that I've had since early January, so my strength is coming back. Wish me luck on that.

Enough for now -- didn't mean to write this much to begin with! Gotta get the Valentine boxes ready for the nieces, nephews, and grandkids, so off with me!


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Busy days

The last two days have been extremely busy, but I can't tell you what took up so much time. Funny how that is sometimes. Mostly, I've been writing to people, responding to email, cleaning up some address lists and mailboxes, and talking with different people. I guess that really is a lot, isn't it?

Yesterday I saw my therapist, as is usual on Mondays. I told her about the dream I had about my late husband -- actually, I printed out my blog entry describing it -- and asked for some interpretation of it. Fortunately, she's not of the Freudian school -- you know, everything's a penis -- but sees dreams as more individual and personal, which fits with my own belief system. The part where he 'morphed' into a blonde woman she said might represent me, and that now I am all that remains of 'him', that I'm the keeper of his legacy, so to speak. I thought that was a very reasonable explanation, and probably true. It was so helpful to hear from someone I trust and respect such a positive idea.

Hubby and I have recently been talking about legacies, and what that really means. His feeling is that if you leave people things, especially money, once those things are gone, so is that person who bequeathed it. However, if you leave words, thoughts, and deeds, those live forever. I think that's pretty much true. In my own family, we have no heirlooms. I seem to be the only one, or at least the main one, who cares about such things. Why, I don't know, other than it means a continuity, an additional sense of identity, a greater bond with our ancestors and what they went through to evenutally produce US. I plan to have heirlooms to hand down to my nieces and nephews. Hopefully, they'll want them. If not, I guess they can get rich on eBay, if such a thing exists at that time.

I'm feeling more like myself again, which is a great relief. For a while there I felt so fragmented. I wish there were a defrag button on my own internal hard drive, and a scan disc function, too -- that way the programs could go through and see where there are broken or missing links, corrupted data, and other more subtle issues that make my processor crash. Then they could do the repair work for me, and I'd be good as new. But unfortunately, people are not built with those buttons available, so you have to do the hard work yourself. Which sucks, let me add.

On a positive note, I am also feeling more confident in my abilities to learn and become productive again. I'm thinking of becoming certified in medical records management and/or coding. I'm not sure how that works these days. It used to be that you had to have a Master's Degree to be certified as a Medical Records Administrator (this mostly applies to hospitals, btw), but now I see programs for just certification in medical coding. I'd rather go the 'real' route and get a degree, not just a certificate. Or at least that's what I'm thinking now. I want to continue to explore this idea and make sure it's something I truly want and can commit to. Hubby says whatever kind of education I want to pursue he will see as an investment in our future. Am I lucky or what?

I am fortunate, too, to have a plethora of wonderful friends. I forget that sometimes. Today I spoke, well, IMmed for a long time with someone I adore, and had the time of my life. It was like sitting here with a neighbor drinking coffee and just shooting the breeze. We talked about redecorating and other things, as we usually do, and it was just so refreshing. I spoke online with another friend at length yesterday, and had a similar experience. Again, am I lucky or what?

Tonight we will pick up another friend at the airport. She's returning from seeing her father for what could be the last time. He's been very ill and she's had to make several unexpected trips to Buffalo to see him, but she seems to be at peace with everything. The fact that she was just married on 12/31 to a truly magnificent man is, I think, not coincidental, but synchronystic. They were made for each other, and I can't imagine her needing him in her life more than now. The universe does work things out, eventually.

That's it for now. Until later...


Monday, February 06, 2006

A brief post

It's been a busy weekend, concluding with Superbowl Sunday, which was a lot of fun this year. The game was actually A GAME, instead of an unbalanced brawl. Though I hoped Seattle would win (first trip to the big one, Holmgren possibly being the first coach to win Superbowls with 2 different teams), I still had a lot of fun watching with hubby and snacking on utter crap. (Chips, dips, Hooters wings, etc.) To make up for the crap part in advance, I made HUGE chef salads for lunch, with tons of lettuces and baby spinach, broccoli sprouts, tomatoes, onions, celery, sunflower seeds, almonds, a little bit of bacon, chicken breast and Virginia baked ham. Light on the meats, actually, but the veggies were so good I don't think it mattered. Aren't I good at rationalizing? :D

Had a dream last night, very disturbing. I dreamed my late husband returned, and that I knew he had died years ago. I told him that I had his ashes that still needed to be scattered, I watched him die -- how could he be here? He didn't give an explanation. I was petrified, knowing I'm remarried and very happily so, and that I couldn't have a relationship with them both. Late hubby walked away, as though going on an errand, and I knew if he left again I'd never see him. So I followed him as best I could. Sometimes I could see him in the distance, and sometimes I couldn't. At one point, he 'morphed' into a woman with longish blonde hair, white shirt, and blue skirt, which is pretty much the polar opposite of him. I could never find him again. I returned to 'my home', which wasn't really mine -- it was the house of some neighbors from my childhood -- no clue what the connection to them was. At this home my mom and I think some other family members (kids) were in the back yard, and I was naked inside, trying to 'wake up'. I think this happens alot when I'm really trying to wake up from my night's sleep, but it carries over into my dreams. I was trying to keep my eyes open and not go back to sleep (in my dream), and to put on clothes in case someone came in. I was afraid late hubby would show up again, and I dreaded it. I don't think I ever did get dressed all the way -- though I think I was trying to put on this black and white gown I have by my bed in real life. I woke up feeling sad, disoriented, and a little anxious. Also in my dream the time was 4:30, which meant I had totally missed my therapy session with my psychologist (2pm every Monday). I was VERY relieved to see eventually that it really was morning, and not late in the afternoon. I'm signing off now to go see her, and I'm taking a copy of this post to discuss. I'll post later what the interpretations might be.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Home alone on Friday night

This is a very rare occurrence -- to be home alone on Friday night. Hubby, a professional keyboard player, has a gig with a classic rock band and will be out until late. I didn't feel like being social, so I opted to stay home with his reluctant blessing. I got a chick flick (In Her Shoes) to watch, and received 2 discs of the first season of the TV show "Charmed" through Netflix to watch. I also have a lovely dinner I brought home from a local restaurant where I had lunch with my husband this afternoon, so I'm pretty much set. Oh, I also have new nail polish. :)

This has been a very busy day. It started with hubby saying he left one of his 'gig bags' at home and wondered if I'd be willing to meet him somewhere after he left work this afternoon to bring it to him. I volunteered to meet him for lunch and bring it then, to which he readily agreed. We had a great meal, and I felt good about getting to spend some time with him unexpectedly, especially since he'll be out late tonight. After that I hit The Avenue and bought a new top, 2 necklaces, and some new sunglasses. I had the women in the shop give me their opinions on the different styles, and came out with something completely different than what I normally wear, so that was cool. Then I hit Officemax, and picked up a few items we needed, and some we really didn't need actually. ;) After that, it was on to the movie store to rent a couple of flicks for the weekend. We're expecting snow tomorrow, which is great, since we plan to stay home and do some cleaning/organizing. Last, it was the grocery store, and then home. I'd been gone practically all day.

This is quite a contrast to a few weeks ago when I was content to sit here all day watching TV. Now that I'm feeling less depressed, it's amazing to look back and make comparisons with now and then. My head feels more clear, finally, and I'm not having panic attacks. I have been sleeping well, and sleeping through each night. I'm so grateful to have finally found a good psychiatrist who gets the complicated presentation of depression, panic, and anxiety. So many people, doctors included, do not understand the physical components of these conditions. Dr. William Kernodle, who has written extensively on panic disorder with agoraphobia (which is my diagnosis), maintains that panic and possibly other anxiety disorders should be classified as neurological conditions rather than psychiatric. I'm all for that! Anything that furthers acceptance and understanding is something I'm very much in favor of. I don't like feeling ashamed of my diagnosis because of what OTHER people might think, though I guess there's a part of me, too, that sees myself as 'crazy'. I try to readjust my thinking, but one of the worst parts of these conditions is the lying they do to you -- they tell you you're in danger when you're not; they tell you you're 'less than'; they tell you life is not worth living; they tell you you're completely alone in this world. Lies, all of them. It is sometimes very difficult to realize that.

Hubby is in therapy himself, and feels he's getting a lot out of it. He told me that his therapist confronted him, very gently, about his passive-aggressive tendencies. Though I haven't said this directly to him, I feel vindicated that someone else, a professional, no less, sees this. One of the problems with passive-aggressiveness in someone you're intimately involved with is that they can make you feel crazy. If you try to call them on their behaviour, they tell you nothing's wrong. This makes you wonder if you can trust your own judgment. An example: the other day he told me he had not slept well. I asked if he knew why, since he'd taken a sleeping pill and shouldn't have had difficulty. He replied that it was because he knew my mind was active (I was up reading in bed) so his mind was active, too. He said he felt what I feel, and that when I'm thinking about stuff, etc., he is affected by it. I told him immediately that that was not appropriate, that I wouldn't accept the responsibility for his not sleeping. I told him it wasn't fair to be so wrapped up in me, or to blame me, even peripherally for his problems.

I've had this issue all my life -- others telling me that my perceptions, my judgments were not correct. But they were. They almost always were.

I love my husband, very much, and I feel very grateful to have this man in my life. I also sometimes don't feel as though I deserve him, but then I also sometimes wonder if I really know him. I believe with all my heart that he's a good person, and I believe that our relationship is pretty solid, and has great potential for growth. I'm very glad he's seeing a therapist of his own and is dealing with his own issues. I want him to be able to let go of whatever plagues him or causes him distress and to recognize coping skills that don't work well for him. He deserves to be happy and free of old demons.

Hubby grew up in a very strict home, and is the older brother of a retarded sister, 4 years younger than he. She lives in a group home in another state, and we speak with her by phone pretty regularly. When they were children, he was always admonished to take care of her, wasn't allowed to have the normal sibling conflicts because she was different. He was not allowed to exhibit 'negative' emotions, nor was he allowed to disagree about anything with his parents. From what I've heard, he was held to a much higher standard, common with first borns and especially with those who have disabled siblings. He learned to cope by hiding his true feelings, his true thoughts, and trying to comply with the perfect child model his parents seemed to think appropriate for him. It's a shame they didn't realize what they were doing to him. I feel certain that, like my own parents, they never meant to harm him, but harm they did. I admire his ability to have survived, more or less intact, and his lack of hatred and anger towards his family. I hope his therapy will help him get in touch with what may be repressed anger and maybe shame. He doesn't deserve it.

Man, people have a lot of crap to deal with, don't they? It's a wonder any of us come out halfway sane. Maybe that's it -- we're at best half sane. The job we have, I think, at midlife is to find the other half of sanity and embrace it, let it wash over us and cleanse us of the sins of the father, so to speak. Here's to a thorough drenching, people. :)


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A long story

I'm putting this in my blog so I don't forget what brought me to this place. This story is 100% true, and for that reason, 1000% sad. Last night I found some letters (I keep everything) sent to me by family members and friends over the years. I found several sent by my youngest sister, and when I read them, it makes me so sad. I don't know what happened to her -- she had so much promise and so much hope at one time. I am considering scanning these letters and sending them to her to remind her of who she used to be. I wish I knew how to fix her, and how to make sure her children don't suffer further, but I don't, and I'm trying to come to grips with it not even being my place to do so. I think that part of this for me is that I've always thought of both my sisters as belonging to me, like they were kind of my children. My older sister (age 38) had some rought times earlier in her life, and had two marriages that thankfully ended in divorce. She has been married now for 13 years to a wonderful man, and they have 1 son, who is the first apple of my eye. I'm so grateful she found the right man. My brother (age 41) has been married to his soulmate for about 12 years now, and though they have no children together, he is stepfather to 2 boys and 1 girl. The girl is 15, almost 16, and is a truly delightful young woman. I enjoy her immensely and am looking forward to 'keeping her' for her spring break in March.

And now, without further ado, the long story...

I am the oldest of 4, with 1 brother and 2 younger sisters. My youngest sister (age 36) has been in an abusive relationship with the same person since 1992. She left him in '92, only to have him follow her down to Florida from Michigan, and somehow convince her to marry him without telling anyone. Then they headed back up north. During the next 5 years, she would call me from time to time, because he'd gotten violent, abusive, etc., and she wanted to leave. I would always encourage her to pack her things and get out of there, and sometimes she would actually get on the road, with me waiting for her to arrive at my house. However, every time there would be a point at which she'd call to say she changed her mind, she was going back, etc. In 1998, she had her first child, thinking that this would 'solve the problems'. Naturally, it didn't. Over the course of the next few years, my sister became an alcoholic, or maybe she already was an alcoholic to begin with, and it was just exacerbated. At one point in 2000, she finally entered a rehab facility due to her clearly uncontrollable behavior (diagnosed with bipolar disorder and polysubstance abuse), but this happened just before 9/11, and that gave her the excuse she needed to leave the facility -- wanting to be with her family. Over the ensuing few years, she went from bad to worse, and lived far enough away from us that we could not 'keep an eye on her'. She did a lot of really degrading things, really embarrassing things, and was hospitalized several times for her behavior. I tried to help her from a distance, but eventually had to convince my mother to actually go get her and my niece and take them away from her then-husband. My fear was that my niece would be taken from both parents and placed into foster care. Sister and husband did get a divorce, but she did not get an attorney. She agreed to the terms he wrote up, which included the codicil that my niece can never live more than 25 miles away from his union hall that the ex is assigned to. (Stupid, stupid, stupid, I know.) She moved back near him to comply with the divorce decree, and took up with another guy. Her ex didn't like this and came over and beat this man to a pulp while my sister was at work, taking my niece out of the house with him. (He was drunk at the time himself). The police found them, and returned my niece to my sister, and the ex was charged with assault and battery, but he cross-filed against my sister's boyfriend, saying he started it. The police knew this was BS, so nothing came of that cross complaint. I was called to come help, and I went straight away. The first night I was there someone (the ex) tried to break down her front door, and I literally threw my body against it and wedged myself between it and the wall to keep him from coming in. Naturally, my little niece saw all of this and 'knew' it was her daddy doing it. For some reason, my sister eventually took this idiot back, and immediately became pregnant. Mind you, they were and are still divorced. Then shortly after giving birth to her second daughter, she became pregnant again, and now has 3 children, ages 8, 20 months, and 8 months.

In October Hubby and I went to visit her (and him) to deliver a computer the rest of our family had chipped in on to help her stay connected to us, as she is pretty isolated. I dreaded it, but felt I had to do this. On my way there, I had my first panic attack in over 7 years, so that should have been my clue to turn around and go home. But, I persisted. When I arrived, my sister looked like a scarecrow -- gaunt, haggard, and kind of crazy. She is living with this ex of hers, who doesn't lift a finger to help with the housework or the kids -- he hands them off to her -- so she never seems to get any sleep. Further, he brings her beer or whatever to drink, brings her pot, and apparently buys pain pills from someone he works with and both takes them and gives them to her to take. Then, once she does these things, he berates her violently for having done so and tells her she's a terrible mother, she's ugly, no one would put up with her like he does, etc. While we were there, I witnessed him verbally abusing my niece, and I stood up to him, which earned me a look that made my blood run cold. It was then I knew that this man was more than capable of doing permanent physical harm to anyone he felt crossed him. He'd just days before thrown a baby car seat at my sister, and though it missed her, it hit her windshield and cracked it. The following day, Sunday, we were getting ready to leave, and my sister tried to apologize for how messy the house was. I told her I was impressed with how good everything did look, seeing as she didn't have any help. The ex, naturally, took offense at this and started verbally abusing me. I fought back, but throughout this entire weekend, I was convinced he could and would harm me, because I could see the real picture. Arnie and I left, after I told my sister that this man was eventually going to kill her, and that if she didn't get those children out of that house away from that man, she was just as guilty of abuse as he was. We got on the road, and I called my mother to explain what all had happened. In the meantime, my sister had gone in to confront her ex, who claimed that she didn't know his side of the story, that I 'just wouldn't listen', etc, but she told him she'd had enough, and wanted him to leave so she could pack her things and get out of that house. She had to call the police to get him to go, and she called my mother to have her call me to get us to come back and help, which we did. We brought them back to our house for the night (they lived about 5 hours away), and the next morning left to rendezvous with our mom in Birmingham, so that they could take them back to Florida. While we were doing this, the ex had the police call our house because he said we kidnapped his kids, but later he located them at my mom's. I was petrified that he was going to come looking for me, and since I worked at home alone during the day, Arnie and I decided that I should go stay out of town with a friend until this all blew over.

Since this event, I continued to have repeated panic attacks, and my depression, already being treated with medication, grew MUCH worse with an increased dosage that I myself requested. However, this was done by my family doc, not by a psychiatrist, as it should have been. Psychiatric medications should be monitored by an expert. I started into psychotherapy in November, for this event and for other reasons, so I thought I was doing well, but in December, I grew worse and worse, and actually became passively suicidal, again, as a result (unknown at the time) of the wrong dosage of medication. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't think -- all I could do was cry. On January 6 of this year, I had a 'crash', I guess metabolically speaking. Because I had not been eating or drinking enough, I became dehydrated and probably had some pretty serious chemical imbalances in my body. Fortunately, I got through that, but realized then that there was a big problem and that I need to see a specialist. I spoke to a doctor friend of mine who had me decrease my medication dose back down to the original level until I could get in to see someone. In the meantime, I saw my family doctor who added another drug to my regimen. I FINALLY got in to see a psychiatrist on 1/24, and have my first follow up tomorrow. I'm feeling a lot better, but still have a bit of a social phobia component going on. I tried coming to church recently, but had to leave halfway through the service because I began to have a panic attack. I'm hoping that now that more time has passed, I'll be able to try it again soon and be able to stay for the whole deal. I've resigned as chair of one committee, resigned from the another, and also resigned from being a Greeter. I hope that I will be able to return to at least Greeter duties soon, as I really enjoyed that. I am still helping out with one committee, and will continue to, but think I will limit myself to these two groups and to the Caring Committee, even though I don't seem to do much there yet.

End of long story for now....