Archive | September 2021

Roles vs. Authenticity

I don’t know what truly comes from the real me versus simply how I was trained. When I have an urge, how can I distinguish?

I feel like I am the captain of a ship, well below deck and rooting around in the cargo hold. Problem? I am on the high seas during gale force winds at times. I have to keep the boat afloat in the meantime. But it is in the cargo hold that the map to where I am going is stored. The answers are deep within.

Authenticity is everything to me now. Being married for 29 years erased what little sense of self I had. It was all about Barry. I understand how spouses often die within a few years of each other. If being the spouse of this person is who you are, who are you when that is taken away? What I love about LGBT people is their willingness to pioneer their own lives and not just live the roles imposed upon them by society. We had a manager like that at Goodwill. The man wore high heels, had fabulous hair, and had a boyfriend. I am far too binary sexually to blend into that crowd. I was born female, identify as such, and have only wanted to date men. Barry, when I met him, had two ex-wives and an ex-girlfriend. There was no doubt as to “what side of the buffet he ate from.” I could only date that type of man, no iffiness or questioning of his sexuality, period.

It reminds me of the saying in the Bible, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.” What I love about Buddhism is the mindfulness aspect. Meditation brings about awareness of the voices that were trained into your head. It is the ultimate untraining or detraining. Buddhism is more of a threat to Christianity than the latter can ever comprehend. Christianity indoctrinates and Buddhism says, “Are you sure? What proof do you have? What if the preacher or Bible is simply wrong?” To which the church replies, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Only listen to the voice!”

Do I have enough years to sort all this out? Is an urge coming from subconscious programming from my dysfunctional parents or my authentic self? I am uncertain how to find the needles of authenticity within the haystack of parental training.

Great Blood Tests

Last weekend, I went to a drive-thru blood lab. I wondered what my results were going to be because I consumed pizza the night before, not exactly health food. That was more white flour and salt than I had consumed in a very long time.

My results were fabulous. The PA was very pleased. High vitamin D levels, good cholesterol, and triglycerides at 109, the lowest mine have ever been. It proved beyond a reasonable doubt that my gradual, persistent dietary changes have worked. I guess part of me was not completely convinced that diet alone could make those kinds of changes.

This is all in the context of my brothers having liver failure.

My family lives in a fantasy world. The world they live in is one where things happen to some people, not to others, and we never know why. You just kind of roll with things as they happen and deal with things as they occur. Problem? That is not reality. In my world, the real world, actions have consequences 100% of the time, just not immediately or necessarily visibly. Here’s the issue: consequences are never instantaneous. Action…time lag…consequence. We would all be geniuses if the consequences to our actions were swift and unmistakable. Nobody would make the same mistake twice. Instead, the results of our actions are often years or even decades in the making, ensuring that when the inevitable occurs, we look around for the proximal cause, find none, and condemn God or the Universe for the situation of our own making.

Your liver has no real nerve network, to my knowledge. If you get so much as a hangnail on a finger, it annoys you until it is fully healed because your hands are loaded with nerves. On the other hand, your liver can be 80% or 90% dead and you feel fine. Your only warning may come from funky liver enzyme levels in routine blood tests, like the ones I just had. Maybe you don’t believe the results because you feel fine. By the time your skin turns yellow (jaundice) or you develop abdominal fluid retention (ascites), it’s too late to do much of anything and no self-respecting doctor is going to implant a new, healthy liver into someone still drinking.

The mystery of denial is how people can look around and see consequences happening to everyone else and never truly believe they can happen to them. That sense of invulnerability is the foundation of a lot of delusion. Which is all fine and dandy, I guess, until the inevitable happens. Shock at the obvious results of one’s behavior has always struck me as somehow illegitimate. It’s like driving 100 mph and then being indignant when one crashes and burns. So you didn’t see this coming…Very interesting. Feigning surprise is not my strong suit.

Weird Juxtaposition

Today I went to get my blood drawn. I am seeing a doctor for my first physical in five years and needed blood work done, partly due to the accident. So far, so normal.

I missed the normal hours of the most local Sparrow Lab. Crap. Do I just not get the blood drawn at all and try explaining it to the doc on Wednesday? No. Wait. There’s a drive-thru lab in the old Sears automotive center in Frandor. I’ll go there.

I had slept late. It is now pushing 11:30. I have been fasting. But off to Frandor I drive. There is a huge line, maybe thirty or 40 cars. At about 12:30 a lab person comes up to my car and asks if I am there for a covid test or lab work. I say lab work and he says I can go ahead in line. I do not do so because where he was pointing to doesn’t seem to be a big enough space for my Impala to get through. I maintain my position in line and wait. Eventually I get to the lady in the lab coat. She asks if I am there for a covid test or lab work and acts almost elated when I say lab work. It was like I had just made her day.

She tells me to go to the green sign and wait for bay one, two, or three. Apparently, bays four and five were solely for covid tests. Keep in mind, I have gotten tires here. Someone cuts in front of me from the line going to bays four and five. I am not arguing. This is why I did not cut in line earlier: people’s reactions lately have been over-the-top, to put it mildly.

Eventually, I am invited into the bay. The lab guy asks for information regarding my blood draw and whether I had been fasting. I hand him my lab work requisition form. He is extremely happy. The form has everything on it he could possibly want: my name, DOB, insurance, what tests need to be done, etc. He acted like I was the first person all day to have the proper paperwork. After I gave him the form, it took about ten minutes for him to create the vials, poke me, vampire out a sufficient amount of blood, put a cotton ball and tape one me, and send me on my way.

Factors in today’s experience: the collapse of Sears, covid, people’s impatience, healthcare worker burnout…

The whole thing was just odd. Imagine going to a defunct Jiffy Lube for a colonoscopy. Kind of like that.

Parallel Lives

I have a friend that I have known since high school. She was a grade ahead of me and we became friends through a mutual friend. Our friendship has, at times, been off-and-on because of our marriages. When we would get back together, it was always weird because we seemed to be going through similar situations.

It happened again. I went off on my mother. Afterwards, I have felt wonderful, better than ever. It was very cleansing, handing that stinky, steaming pile of childhood issues back to my mother. I feel clean for possibly the first time. I will issue no apology ever for saying what has needed to be said for at least thirty years.

Then my friend went off on her husband and our mutual friend. The theme was the same: one-sidedness. You know, those relationships where you give and give and give and when you have the audacity to seriously expect something in return, how dare you. I am tired of emotionally taking care of my mother. My friend is tired of emotionally taking care of her husband and our friend. I do not blame her at all.

This morning we were texting. She said she and her husband were cleaning out the living room and I told her of the vision I have of her: She is standing in the middle of her immaculate cleared-out living room saying to herself, “Yep. I’m ready to go now.”

I do not believe that you can get rid of stuff without getting rid of the ideas and relationships that the stuff represents. She has been married for over thirty years. They have a natural and an adopted son. Their marriage has always been rocky. They have been getting rid of decades worth of stuff lately by having yard sales and that kind of thing. She commented on how freeing it is to get rid of stuff. Little does she know…

I see this is as a fresh start for her, not them.

For myself, I feel freer and clearer than I ever have. And I have a little bit of an urge to start clearing things out again. But the clearing out will be an effect, not a cause of emotional change. Energy moves, sometimes internally first and sometimes externally.

It’s just weird how we always seem to be dealing with similar issues simultaneously.

Clarity At Last

I went off on my mother last weekend. It felt good, but I thought it might just be the catharsis that provided some relief. I don’t think that now. I feel like I know what happened.

My whole life, I had been shamed, told how “inappropriate” my behavior and words are to others, the very others that never did anything for me. When Ma was going on and on about her worry over my oldest brother that will not stop drinking, something snapped. This was part of my parental team that was perfectly fine leaving me at the ER to find my own ride home after almost killing me. Their pretense of concern for my well-being was unmasked. It had never been so glaringly obvious. I believe they truly believe they care about me, but their actions prove otherwise. They are very delusional.

I am again having car problems, but am solving the problems using different resources.

My whole life, there has been this voice of rage inside of me. It would say, “I have never been this angry in my life.” The first time I heard it, I believed it. After the 20,000th time, I knew it had origins not of any current situation. This was deep. It was mechanical, like I had tripped a tape recorder within. I projected this anger onto various current situations. But I was raised with the bullshit belief that anger is basically never appropriate. So I suppressed it and have been depressed my entire life from about the age of ten onwards. I took out my anger in self-mutilation ways, like picking off my fingernails and even toenails. Gross, but it somehow made me feel alive. (This is because you cannot selectively repress emotions. If you suppress one, they all go down.) I have seldom acted out (but when I did, watch out!), but I regularly “acted in.” There was just nowhere for the anger to find expression. I have prayed for death most of my life.

Then I got into psychoanalysis. No more cognitive behavioral nonsense. Actual psychoanalysis. I am still furious at all the CBTs that managed to ignore every imaginable red flag I was waving. They are too untrained to do any real good. I was sending up smoke signals of self-mutilation, dissociation, and every other sign of early-childhood neglect. Nobody caught the hint.

I took all the shame dumped on me and handed it back to where it actually belongs. I will not own this steaming pile of crap. It was never mine and I will not claim it.

I feel like I am no longer simmering with rage. At first, I thought feeling better was just a fluke, but it has been about a week. I wake up feeling good, for the first time in memory. For the first time, I feel like I am not taking anger from Area A and sticking it in Area B. I feel a clarity that is new. I have never felt this good.

I may never hear from the family again. That is truly okay. I don’t need to stick around to watch the train wreck. I don’t need to get blamed when everything blows up, and it so will. I may or may not get a call when someone dies. Not my problem.

When I told Ma that I was done, I meant it even more than I realized.

After the earthquake, the tsunami.

This past weekend, I released a lot of pent-up pressure at my mom. She was going on and on about she was worried sick about my oldest brother, who has suddenly admitted that his liver no longer works and how it is too late to do anything about it. This is one of the people that put me in the ER and then was going to just leave me there after I begged for a ride home. Her concern is worthless because it is 40 years too late. Now that nothing can be done about the situation, she is worried sick about it. Her lack of concern for me is revealing. If she cared one tenth as much for me as my oldest brother, my life would be so very different. I tore her a new one and meant every single word. And I feel so much better. And, yes, it is about my feelings now, not theirs. I have been holding my tongue for many, many years with my mother, trying to have compassion for her. When they abandoned me at the ER, my one-sided concern for my mother and father evaporated. They are on their own, just as I have always been. Welcome to my world. Good luck with that.

My question: When did my brother get an epiphany and realize he was dying? Suddenly the fact that he has been killing himself with beer is real. When and how did that happen? How did 40 years of denial just evaporate?

I suspect it was my other brother that made the difference. This other brother has an actual diagnosis of cirrhosis, COPD, heart disease, etc. He is terminal and knows it. However, he has cleaned up his act and consumes a super-healthy diet, has stopped drinking, etc. I think he took one look at the oldest brother and said, “Bro, that ain’t fat. That’s fluid retention. Your liver has stopped working.” And, somehow, it got through to the oldest brother.

When I say something, it means nothing to anyone, ever. My words have no meaning. (And that is why I gave up trying to communicate with anyone in the family years ago. Talking to a brick wall would be more enjoyable.) The family’s attitude towards me has always been, “You are really over-exaggerating things. Dave (the oldest brother) doesn’t have a drinking problem. You are just really over-dramatic. You’ll see. As you get older, you’ll understand how mistaken you are and maybe, if you have enough sense, you might want to be part of this family. We will welcome you with open arms, on our (worthless) terms, of course.”

Now, my mom is like, “Oh my god. Dave is drinking himself to death and won’t stop. Isn’t that awful?” My response is, “You’re just figuring this out now? Seriously? This is news to you? So….you haven’t taken anything I’ve said seriously for the past few decades. Good to know.”

The tectonic plates in my family have shifted. This is how it works: You have an ocean plate and a land plate. Water is extremely heavy. It pushes, pushes, pushes the plate downward. But there is nowhere for it to go because the land plate is in the way. And so the pressure builds…and builds…and builds. Over centuries or even millennia. Then, suddenly, the ocean plate dives underneath the land plate a few feet or inches or whatever. The pressure is released.

But that is so not the end of the story. A wave has begun from the instant dislocation of the plates. And now the wave starts marching across the ocean, growing as it goes. The Japanese gave it the name “tsunami.” Living on the Pacific Rim, they understood the relationship between earthquakes and tidal waves. One time, around 1100 or 1200 CE, they had a tidal wave without the prior earthquake. They called it an “orphan tsunami.” Geologists did some digging. Turns out there was an earthquake in Oregon or maybe Washington state, on the other side of the Pacific. The Japanese are smart.

The plates have shifted. The denial is over. The pressure has been relieved. Now is the calm before the tsunami. Things are about to get real, real ugly. The stage after denial is anger. Rage is about to ensue. I am confident that I will never be forgiven for being right. Reality has vindicated me. I don’t need their acknowledgment at this stage in my life. These family members are about to get pissed off at each other. Decades of frustration will look for an outlet.

This will get progressively uglier until Dave (and perhaps the newly-sober brother Bob) die.

I am glad I had it out with my mother and truly got out of the family. I am headed deep inland. Up a mountain, safe from the approaching tsunami.