Saturday, April 29, 2017
A long time ago, I fell in love with helping people. Years later, I realized through a mine field of good therapy that I had simply learned how to profit from my dysfunctional codependence. Whatever works. Two days ago, my boss asked me if I'd ever considered counseling (belly laughter) after I cried for about 4 hours straight the day after I sent my resignation letter. The day before that, my Mom had some side eye comment about how all jobs suck and that's why they pay you. The day before that, my husband looked at me with an amusing terror while simultaneously telling me that he was totally on board when I had a long talk with him about needing to quit my job. He hugged me and I imagined that while his face was out of view, he probably had the wide, gaping, fearful eyes of a man who just realized he married someone who actually meant all those head-in-the-clouds, wander-lustful, Buddhist sorta things she says that made him sort of love her.
Three days ago, I officially put in my resignation notice on my career. It's not like this has never happened before. I've resigned. I've run off to Mexico to chase my dreams whilst losing my mind and finding myself. I've stayed home and raised kids and depended on someone else to make the money while I did whatever I did. But, I always knew I had my career in my back pocket. I always knew what I intended to be doing. I always knew that I'd return some day to the tumultuous, drama-filled, adrenaline rush of my career. It's addictive. I've always been well suited to it. It feels a bit ingrained in my me-ness. But, life throws some curve balls and I'm Babe Ruth reincarnate.
A few years ago, I got the diagnosis. I'd suspected the diagnosis for, sheesh, 12, 13, 15 years. I'd been afraid, no-- petrified, of the diagnosis since, well, as long as I can remember. But I got it. It became a reality. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I guess I've thought all this time that I was simply a fully crazed hypochondriac who had manifested these symptoms out of sheer projection and I was not, in fact, a sick girl. A crazy one, SURE, but not a sick one. And then, they gave me that damned test. Some marvel of modern medicine that keeps you from getting to pretend you're just nuts and instead, have to stare shit right in the face. Damn science. And that was that. I no longer got to pretend, I had to deal. And the doctors (plural. ugh) had a lot to tell me about how I couldn't fuck around anymore. Face sufficiently slapped once again by that asshole, reality. I hate that guy.
Sometime around the millennium, I was working in the basement of some insurance company where the CEO only knew me as "sweetie", and going home to a husband who liked to punch me in the face sometimes. I had two little babies and in hindsight, a horrifying lack of insight. I went to a psychotherapist and tried desperately to get him to tell me I was hopelessly mentally ill. He wouldn't do it. I think it frustrated him that I preferred having a diagnosis born of chemical imbalances or genetics instead of just a wretched string of circumstances that led me to feel like I did. You can just take a pill to deal with a clinical diagnosis. He was proposing that I had to, like, gain a bunch of awareness and work out my shit. Who the fuck wants to do that when your mind is fully occupied by your small children, your full time shitty, unsatisfying job, and a gem of a husband who thinks you are Mike--um...Mika Tyson. I preferred to be fully crazy in the clinical sense. So, I'd go to therapy. I'd get mad at him for saying I wasn't a giant fruit basket. And he'd get mad at me for saying I was. Probably the best therapy I ever had, for the record, and I've had a lot. (Have you thought about counseling. hahaha)
So, I did what any self respecting, barely 20something, screwed up gal would do. I divorced my therapist (not my husband) and decided to volunteer in a field that fights the very thing I came home to every day. I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children. Yes, I appreciate the irony of it now, and in a far less mature way, did then.
I fell in love. THIS was my calling. You just know when you find it; that THING that you're SUPPOSED to do. I wasted no time in stopping all that volunteer stuff, divorcing the asshole, and going back to school for the express purpose of becoming a Child Protective Services Investigator. There was no other goal. That was all the goal I had. 3 years later, I graduated. Two years after that, I finally got the job. Ironically, my husband (a different one) was in a mental hospital the day I started, but that's a story for another day.
I didn't quit that job the first time. I mean, I technically did, but I didn't want to. Life threw me more curve balls (Babe Ruth, baby) and it all just fell apart. I was pretty much forced out of the job by life, a bit of a mental breakdown, some hearty misunderstandings, a murder-suicide plot (I was the murder victim piece of that) and a trio of paranoid, bitchy bosses.
I did a lot of things in the interim, including running off to Mexico and getting that goddamned diagnosis, but I reapplied for the career I chose over and over again until finally, 8 months ago, I got the job again. And I was overjoyed. I truly was. I loved that job! I'd wanted it back for years. It was everything I liked about work. I'd have preferred to be back in Mexico sipping margaritas and not giving a shit about anything, but who wouldn't, right? But that wasn't the reality I was in.
Two months after I started my job, I missed a doctor's appointment. This may sound like nothing to most of the non-chronic-diseased world, but when you have that damned reality happening like I do, that's kind of a big deal. Because I missed that appointment, I ran out of medication. Because specialists in our lovely healthcare system are as they are, I couldn't get another appointment for almost 2 months.
Some PA I'd never seen before took mercy on me and gave me a few of my meds back because his wife had my particular diagnosis and he (and his polka dotted bow tie) were beautifully sympathetic. But I didn't get the important ones back. The ones that make you really sick when you start them and take 3 months to adjust to. I had to quit those. Cold turkey. That went pretty well for me. Two months later, I started them again. And so came the really sickness. Two months after that, I had to quit them again because I couldn't do my job. And I got sick from that, again. If you're keeping score, my 8 months is up. And I've spent 6 of it in health nightmare.
And then I took that damned test and had that damned Come to Jesus moment with my doctors (plural). And it all came crashing down, again. I was sucking at my job. I was sucking at my health. I was sucking at my happiness. All around, I was just sucking. And then the doctors (plural) tell me (in a nutshell) if I keep doing what I'm doing, I'm just going to die. Let's not mince words here. I will just fucking die. My disease will attack the important parts like those two flaps in your chest that make you breathe and that muscle that pumps your blood around with it's rhythmic thump thump thump. So, for all my denial, I mean strength (ahem), it was face slapping reality time. I had to give a shit. And I had to give a shit now.
So, I quit my job.
And the next day I went to my office and I was relieved and happy. Until about lunch. Then I cried for 4 hours. (Have you considered counseling. Bwhahaahaha).I didn't cry for the job, I guess. I mean, I hadn't particularly enjoyed it this time, given that I was doing it whilst feeling like I'd run a marathon, with the flu, after being run over by a truck, for 6 of 8 months.
I cried because I'd never had to quit a job because of this (far too many expletive pronouns) disease. I'd never had this dumb thing - a thing that I stayed in denial about, that sent me to Mexico, that made me throw my bucket list into high gear, that had caused more tears then all 47 or so of my failed marriages and abuses and traumas combined -- have any real effect on my career. What? My life, yeah. My relationships, fuck yes. My thought processes, uh huh. My ability to open a jar of pickles, damn skippy. My entire outlook on life, Oh yes sir. But my career, um. no. I guess I figured it wouldn't until it was straight up time to go on disability and rev up my electric, off-road, hybrid flotation device wheelchair. No, that didn't occur to me.
I never HAD to quit a job because I just couldn't DO IT. I had to leave my dive instructor course one day because I couldn't swim against the current towing a grown man in decent surf once. ONE DAY. Another day, I managed it. I had to take a leave of absence for a couple months once because life sucked too much. I've quit because I just didn't want to anymore. But I'd never had to quit a job so I didn't DIE. For fuck's sake, I'm 38 years old. I'm THIRTY EIGHT YEARS OLD.
And I am chronically broken and have to figure out how not to die.
And it was devastating. It IS devastating. This was my chosen career. This was my favorite job. This was my calling, my AHA job.
Not to brag or anything, but I'm the strongest bitch I know. What the fuck is happening?
Then I had to realize, it isn't just this job. I won't be able to do a lot of jobs in my profession. Stress is not allowed. Stress makes me sick. Stress will kill me. Wait. What? Stress is an integral part of my career. It's in the job description. It's like, the thing I like. I can't just not work as a CPS investigator, I can't work as a crisis counselor. I can't work as a case manager. I can't work as a social worker. I can't have a job that has my very favorite part of my career, DRAMA. I'm not allowed. Because I will fucking die. What the fuck?
What the hell do I do now? No, seriously, what do I do now?
In case anyone is wondering, travel the world and live on beans and rice in third world apartments has crossed my mind at least 374 times in the past 10 days or so. I'll let you know if I can work that out while maintaining my brand new car payment and raising the two kids I have left in the house. Somehow, I feel like maybe that time hasn't come yet. But, then again, I haven't had any Jack Daniels yet either.
(Maybe I should consider some counseling.)
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Making It Through Hard Times
One Breath At A Time...
Paying for my raising more and more...
I'm deleting some writings from an old blog so I'm putting the ones I care to keep here. Perhaps the best explanation of codependency I've ever written.
A dream metaphor
Polar Bear in a Snowstorm
Some days it's hard doing it on your own
Saturday, July 16, 2016
So often I find myself being kicked in the rear by karma. Even if it is a silly, simple declaration about how much I hate cats or that fibromyalgia is not a real disease, life has this way of taking my very strong, misinformed, declarative s and showing me how my words taste with Sunday dinner. And sometimes, karma has a really hard, painful lesson waiting for me that's years in the making. Lessons that inspire phrases like "If I knew then what I know now..."And my teenage son is the catalyst for one of the hardest lessons I have had to swallow. Wisdom, I've found, rarely comes with ease, but at the end of a long treacherous road of bad decisions and soul pain.
Im at an age where my friends are in varying stages of parenthood. Some have planned carefully or maybe not and are becoming parents just now or have adorable little toddlers wrecking their sanity yet stealing their hearts 100 times a day. But many are like me. They find themselves with teenagers embarking on young adulthood and the image of those little pudgy babies and sticky hands are far in the past. (If they're a lot like me, they can't even imagine going back there at this point and don't know how all those middle aged new parents find the energy.) Teenagers. They'll teach you a thing or two. If you've never called your own parents and apologized for ever being a teenager, consider yourself lucky (or ignorant to reality). Either way, teenagers are a challenge under the best of circumstances. But I've never claimed to have the best of circumstances, now have I?
Back to karma. There's a trend I see with my peer teenager parents. It wrenches my heart every time. I feel for them. I feel for them because it has happened to me. I know how much it hurts. How terrifying it is. How it feels like a divorce only from someone you love far more deeply than a spouse. Someone you've literally poured all your energy and love and strength and care into. Someone you'd die for.
And then they say "Im going to live with my Dad/Mom/Grandparent/whoever because they love me more and you SUCK and I hate you."
Knife meet heart. Anger. Rage. Indignance. Tears upon tears upon tears. Paralyzing Fear. Self doubt. Depression. More anger. More fear. More rage. More tears. Determination. More self doubt. Mounds of regret. Blame. Shame. Guilt. More depression. More rage. More indignance. And then, if you're lucky, some clarity and acceptance.
But in all those feelings, 99 percent fail to realize the karma of it all. I haven't. My son has done the Dad thing more than once. And I blamed Dad as a "brainwasher." I was angry at my son for his hurtful words but I always managed to employ a self defense of believing my son was brainwashed and didn't REALLY feel that way about ME. He always came back, after all, when he realized that the grass on Dad's lawn wasn't made of gold and perfection either and maybe he didn't hate me so much after all. It was when he "ran away" and decided to demonize me and move in with my parents that I really had to soul search. That's when the knife cut deep. Because I can demonize his father all day, but did my parents brainwash him? They're not always my biggest fans but it was a far stretch to believe that my parents would do what I'd believed his father had done in the past years. I'm not saying my defenses didn't go there, they did, but it took a lot of stretching to believe they would intentionally try to take my son from me while my poor innocent son was simply a victim. No, this was on my son. He said and did the things to convince my parents that he was better off out of my house and influence. And even more of a shock to my reality, he'd probably done that with his Dad as well. And I'd pitied him. And coddled him. And helped him learn how to act this way. Hello karma.
Here's the mistake I made that makes ME responsible. Here's my karma. I taught him that it was ok to hide from his father in my arms. I taught him it was ok not to respect his parent. I taught him it was ok to demonize his parent in favor of ME. I even ENJOYED (yes.) when he demonized his father. I didnt do this when he was younger (regardless of what his father may believe) but when he became a teen and started to see what that grass was made of, I openly played along and was glad that he'd finally "figured out" what a (insert whatever here) his Father was. And we bonded over making fun and being disgusted by his parent. Sigh. Hindsight. If I'd known then and all that.
But guess what? It wasn't just his father I'd done that with. It was in other relationships as well. I'd let my sons participate in angry or petty or downright ugly sessions cursing and plotting imaginary fantasy revenge against other men I'd ended relationships with. As a disclaimer, I never did any of the things and I did DISCUSS with my sons that venting was ok and even necessary sometimes but that you shouldn't act on those things. But acting wasn't the problem. It was the disrespect for the human. The lesson I taught them about ending relationships and dealing with feeling wronged. I taught them that it was ok to hate, even for a little while. But more importantly, I taught them how to demonize and detach with total disrespect.
I taught my son how to treat people who he was hurt/disappointed/angered by or even just needed to healthily detach from. I did that. And karma showed me that it wasn't innocent. I was wrong. And that boomerang has now hit me square in the face.
My mother told me, when this all blew up: "You taught him to be this way." I was so angry she'd said that. There was so much she didnt understand at that moment. But, as with many things that truly infuriate me, it was because there was a recognition of truth to it. I had taught him a thing or two about how to be this way. There are a few things he did in this process that I didn't teach him. Those things are someone else's karma. I wont address those because thats just more fingers pointing away from me. And that's not the point here.
I taught him with no bad intentions. I taught him thinking all along that I was being fair to the other people involved. They "deserved" my anger and disrespect and hate. I taught him when I wasn't even trying to teach him, but was only trying to survive myself. I taught him how to treat ME right now. Because he needs to detach from me. (The hundred normal and abnormal reasons for that are for another time) And in his detaching, I am learning valuable lessons. Humbling lessons. Painful karmic lessons.
So, here's my advice to every mom and dad and otherwise child influencing person that's earlier in the process of learning than me. No matter how much you hate the other parent (or otherwise authority figures), pay attention to the lessons you're teaching them about how to deal with those feelings. Because when you find yourself with the inevitable "I hate you" teenager moment, they're going to treat you just the way you've taught them to. Coparenting will pay off in the long run no matter how much teeth gnashing you have to do to accomplish it. (And trust me, I get hating the other parent for immensely justifiable reasons. But that's between you and you only.)
As a caveat, I want to add that I think there's a significant societal problem that is being created by the prevalence of divorce and one parent households and all associated things that is creating a generation of children who can "get away with" running off to another parent/grandparent to avoid discipline or working out normal conflict and challenges. A problem we, as a society, need to overcome by learning to work better together and put our own feelings aside. I failed at that and even when I tried, the other parties failed at that. And now, my son is living with my parents and running away from BOTH of his parents. I cant speak for his father, but I can quell my self doubt enough to know that I dont need to be run away from. Im not perfect, but Ive been a good enough Mom.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
I found this page with about 1000 posts responding to "You know you have RA when... I had to share some of my favorites, And add these below as my own! Too funny!
When you need a nap after reading all these comments and exhaust yourself from laughing.
When your friends learn to read your "unique typo language" in texts and your autocorrect has now learned words with typos because you type them wrong so often.
When your teen asks you why you have such a big phone but have your text on tiny and your response is.... I can see just fine, thank you! I just need a bigger target for my fingers.
When your hubby comes home several times and excitely tells you about the cane/walker/wheelchair he saw in the window of the thrift store and asks you of you want him to go buy it for you. Lol
When you're jealous of the people who look like they're SUPPOSED to be using the courtesy electric scooter cart at WalMart/Target.
When an elderly relative passes away and you get excited when you "score" things from their house like back scratchers, claw extenders/grabbers, shoe horns, heating pads, canes, etc..
When you have . 100lb service dog and explain that he helps you stand up and/ walk and is your handrail/cane and they look at you like you've got to be making that up.
When your hubby/teens automatically ask you what you need from the store before they come home because they kmow you dont have the energy to stop anywhere after work every day.
When you've redone every single form at work so that you never have to handwrite and almost everything is in a drop down menu or template so you dont have to type as much.
When your boss congratulates you on your initiative, helping out your coworkers by making things more "efficient" and considers you some sort of tech genius for doing the above and you explain it was totally selfish and a survival skill.
When you seriously consider making an ADA request to your employer for a stamp of your signature instead of having to actually sign thing but keep putting it off because you're too tired to argue with the medical records person at your office or go get a note from your doctor.
When your boss just clocks you in and out on a sick day because he knows you just changed medications AGAIN and youve used up all your sick time AGAIN and he doesnt have the heart to doc your pay AGAIN. :-D
When you can just use half hearted hand gestures and your family knows that you mean "open this for me", "I dont have the energy to turn off the light", "Im too tired to speak", "turn on netflix for me", "Come from across the house and hand me that thing thats 4 feet away away from me", "Nope. Too tired to ____",
When you call in to work with "I cant walk today" and then show up the next day perfectly fine.
When your wardrobe slowly morphs into loose fitting dresses and anything resembling pajamas and your shoe collection becomes padded flip flops and slip on boots.
When you tell your husband that you may have to cancel date night because fixing your hair just seems like a little too much to ask today.
When you have a coffee pot within 10 feet of everywhere you spend time so you can stay awake.
When your kids cook for you more than you cook for them and you justify with yoursellf that their wives will thank you someday.
When every electronic device you own is touchscreen or voice activated because a mouse is a torture device.
When you truly believe that people who run for enjoyment or go to the gym are mentally ill masochists.
When you've named your Dr. Grip pen at work "My Precious" and get really anxious if anyone uses it.
When you have had entire conversations with your bottle of prednisone trying to work out your relationship issues.
When your doctor makes you take prednisone injections so you don't stop taking it AGAIN after you weigh yourself AGAIN.
When you throw your scale in the trash only to go fish it back out again because you think you've maybe lost 5 of the 25 prednisone pounds.
When you seriously contemplate the idea of wigs because fixing your hair is just too much. When you opt to just stop fixing your hair instead.
When you get hair extenaioms because you've cut your hair to make it easier to fix, but now you cant put it in a ponytail. :-\
When you get jealous of your cat because they can sleep in any position and as much as they want.
When you want to punch people who tell you all you REALLY NEED is marijuana. :-[
When you have to struggle not to assault anyone that uses the words essentials oils, herbal supplements, wtfever free diets, or my whotfever used ___ and is now cured.
When you either want to hug or punch anywho who says I know how you feel depending on their diagnosis.
You know you have Sjogrens:
When you treat having something to drink like having an oxygen tank and panic if you get stuck without it or forget to take it in the car.
When you have to excuse yourself from a meeting to get more water because you can no longer open your mouth and talk because its too dry.
When have to explain that you didnt get hit in the face, your tear ducts are just inflamed.
When you're certain everyone believes that you're high because of your cotton mouth and red eyes and you actually start to get paranoid.
When youv single handedly bought your dentist a new car with your billing.
When you have to explain that youve actually never used methamphetamine or crack and it's a disease that has made you lose so many teeth.
When you get tired of it and just tell your dentist to PULL THE TOOTH ALREADY.
When your dentist tells you its almost denture time before you're 30.
When you stop even attempting to name your diseases and just say, "Ive got some diseases youve never heard of."
When you need another nap after typing all this. Zzzzzz