The Disposable Individual

For two weeks I have been dealing with some sort of break down in communication between my doctor’s office, my pharmacy, and myself. This has led to an absence of refills for several much needed medications … and a drastic toss into the life of understanding sudden, unintended withdrawal symptoms. Until yesterday I was doing a damn good job of hiding the physical withdrawal symptoms. I did tell someone about the physical aches that I was feeling, but they chalked it up to “Getting old really sucks!” so I stuffed my physical pain so that no one could diagnose me with stupid things like old age or the flu.

Yesterday I got home from work in an exaggerated elevation of mood. I was laughing about everything, probably much more than was necessary, but it felt good. That is until reality hit, my life is not where I want to be right now. I worked my ass off last week, with Friday being the toughest day of all. I was exhausted when I got home and asked my teenage daughters if they felt like cooking dinner. I know better than to use a question to motivate a child to action, but I did and it was a failure, of course no one feels like cooking dinner.

I realized my mistake as I spoke the words, but rather than getting upset I recognized that no one felt like doing much of anything. Although my girls had the day off from school, I guess they are entitled to a day of rest as well.

Sometime later I requested one of the children make me a cup of coffee, and I was told, “Get up and get yourself a glass of water!”

I couldn’t hold it in anymore! “I did not work my ass off all fucking day so that I could come home and serve myself a glass of fucking water for dinner!” I knew this was the emotional side of my withdrawal rearing its ugly head, but the words were out, it was to late to stop the train wreck that was happening! The child that suffered my words sent me three text messages in response to my outburst, but I could see from the preview that I shouldn’t bother reading those until I pulled myself together. Instead, I turtlized everything (yes, that is a new word that I am coining)!

I starting stuffing everything that I was feeling for fear of the repercussions of sharing what I was feeling. In the past I have been accused of dragging others down to my level and through my shit when I feel like this. As a helper by trade and a human by birth I work really hard to be sure that I don’t do that, which often leads to me shutting down for fear of hurting others as much as I hurt.

After many hours of quiet I decided I was in the clear and comfortable enough to talk to someone. It was quite obvious that I wasn’t being my usual funny, avoidant self, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when the other person merely said good night to my attempts at conversation.

This morning I was still feeling pretty raw emotionally, and physically, I can’t even describe my level of pain; I just know that withdraw sucks. I didn’t smile when I finally convinced myself it was time to get out of bed. I found nothing to laugh about, and by about 1 or 2 in the afternoon I realized that I had barely spoken a dozen words all day … and that no one had bothered to reach out and see how I was.

This catapulted me into a place I don’t want to be, but reality sucks, and this is what I’m facing. If I am not being the funny one, the life of the party, the smiley one, the helping one, the let me kiss your ass one; then there is not a single individual in my life that wants to be around me. No one seems to know how to handle the “family mascot” when s/he isn’t able to use humor to deflect the layers upon layers of pain hidden behind the smile.

So, today, while everyone was outside, enjoying the lovely weather and doing all sorts of cool stuff that we have waited all winter long for … this mascot was lying in her bed, trying to come to terms with the fact that her pain has made her a disposable individual.

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Destined for Greatness

What if I told you that each of us is born destined for some sort of greatness? That God created YOU to be an amazing individual, but from the moment that you were born your environment has catapulted trauma onto you, thus resulting in your lack of luster?

I’m asking you to consider the above, I’m not trying to shove my beliefs on you, I’m just asking you to consider it as you read this post.

In my last post I briefly discussed the death of my brother over eight years before my birth. I also discussed how my siblings often consider me lucky, because I didn’t have to try to survive during the horrific time in the lives of my parents and family. Or, did I? Did I in some way endure the consequences poured upon their souls by society?

Some will have an easier time imagining this than others, but for a moment … imagine that you have had to bury a child, specifically an infant; imagine the torture, pain, and questioning your faith in God.

Now, you find out that you are going to have another child. What if this one passes away? What if there is another investigation? Or if the children are removed out of fear that I’m not a good parent? What if … a million other things run through your mind?

In the midst of all of the chaos your father says, “You’re pregnant.”

You respond with, “Oh, Dad, I am not.”

“Don’t tell me, I know when one of my girls is expecting!”

With in a couple of weeks of this conversation your dad, your hero, passes away. You grieve, you deny, you hide and five months in you find out that Dad was right, you are pregnant. Three months later the baby is born a full month early.

Every stressor that you endure during this time is flooding your infant with cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal gland during times of stress. Stress, upon stress, and yup, more stress, and your baby is fighting this intense hormone that is being directed right to him or her.

The child’s environment is already changing the child before birth, the infant is ultimately fighting a war in utero. The destiny for greatness suffers, the child is born not knowing who s/he is, just a baby, already tainted by society.

I hope that you were born to achieve greatness, but the truth is … I was not. If you were, you have a fighting chance to find you, your true destiny, yourself. However, there are many just like me, born lost and fighting a war that no one knows about, we can reach greatness, we just have to put up a bigger fight.

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Unblaming My Parents

October 16, 1965, a day that forever altered the progression and growth of my life.

How can that be when I wasn’t born until December 8, 1973?

I always thought that I was spared the pain of my brother’s passing, by being born many years after his death in infancy, but was I!?

Trauma has followed me through out my life, and when I told my parents in a desperate attempt to get help I was told things like, “Well, if you wouldn’t dress like that …” “Don’t tell anyone.” Or even just the silent treatment. One thing was clear, police and investigators had no place in our lives.

I learned to sit down, shut up, and take the blame. For a short time I was very angry that my parents were unable to be more supportive and less blaming in these matters, but today I had an epiphany.

When my infant brother passed away the media found them guilty almost before they were even questioned, and the inquest must have been horrific to endure. Everyone was pointing fingers, all but one detective that took the time to not only hear my parents, but to fight for them. One person out of all of those that were involved in the case, the odds were clearly stacked against my parents. God willing, they survived the tension of that chaos and moved forward to not only raise three older children, but to have two more.

Now there’s me … repeatedly raped … but the odds are stacked against my family, so I go to no one, it’s a risk too great to endure.

I acted out in ways that made me pure hell to raise, when life got to be too much I even tried overdosing … having your stomach pumped is not for the weak. I ran from my problems, leaping from a cliff with no parachute into a valley of lava.

I tried everything I could to be the better person, to be stronger and more resilient than I was raised to be. With each passing trauma I realized a tiny bit more that my reaction is my choice, not that of my parents.

My parents must have been really scared during the loss and investigation into their son’s death … sort of like me … deep in the brush of the old race track during the state fair. No one to turn to, no one to help, no one to guide me … No one, but God, and I missed it. I was so busy blaming my parents that I forgot about the faith I’d been raised in, besides, God didn’t want a dirty hoe like me in His house!

Today was different though, today I was driving past a location where I had once been severely beaten by an ex-husband, and I experienced a flash back. I had one of my children in the car with me … and I realized I had to keep myself together, or risk freaking her out. I can’t blame my parents anymore, they are both deceased and can’t fight back, I can’t blame my ex, because if I got that close I can’t be responsible for my reaction. The only person to blame for how I handle this situation is me, and this time I turned to the faith I’d been raised in and somehow I just knew, it’s not what happens to me, but how I react … I own that, so I am unblaming my parents for lifes traumas.

Applying God’s Word to Abuse

When I decided to move from Pennsylvania to Michigan, a single mother with three small children, I remember my mom’s tearful, parting words, “You are breaking up the family that you created. God doesn’t look kindly on that.”

In that very moment I not only questioned God’s love for me, I also accepted that any and all bad things that were about to happen were God’s punishment for my sins. I had felt this way for a very long time, to be honest, I had been attoning for my sins since I was about eight years old. I never knew what the sins were, just that the world was about me and all bad was caused by my failure to follow God.

The idea that an eight year old has so many sins to atone for may seem unjust to you, but at that developmental stage a child is unable to see the world beyond themselves, thereby accepting all grief and pain as their fault.

Many years prior to my move to Michigan I had pulled away from church, I was ignoring everything that God put before me. I only saw the bad, because I was looking for it, and when you look for something, not only are you bound to find it, chances are that you will find it in the last place that you look. So, here I am; almost eighteen years later, trying once again to figure out what I did wrong in life to deserve all of this.

Recently my daughter has been attending church, and placing loving pressure on me to attend as well. I can think of a million excuses not to go, but I have one reason to go; God really does have my back, He always has, and He always will.

My biggest reason for turning my back on my faith and religion is that much of scripture is twisted by individuals to meet their own needs.

You have heard it said, “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” Matthew 5:38

This passage is used many times through out the Bible, but I choose Matthew 5:38 to demonstrate what often happens …

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:39

Matthew 5:38-42 discusses the topic of biblical contraversy elegantly. Often times, an abuser will stop reading at verse 38, because they have met their own needs, but continuing on we can see that it is not man’s job to bring us to repent for our own sins.

I am definitely not a theologian, but maybe that’s something I should study, because one of the reasons that I have made the decision to turn my back on religion is the mass confusion concerning this. Every swing that has ever connected with my body has touched my soul and allowed me to turn it into this is my repentence for past transgressions. My assailants have grasped onto my thought and torn me apart with words from the Bible about how women are less than man, how we are meant to be a man’s slave, how divorce is against Christianity.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:18-19

Now, it’s time to face the cold, hard truth; I’m watching some of my children suffer from control and abuse of others. Their take is that it is their penance for past transgressions, one of the “gifts” that I have given them, which I must now take back. We are not placed on this earth to repent for our sins at the hands of evil, for we are here for a greater purpose, and our sins will be judged by God, on the day of His choosing, when we are brought before Him, our shell encapsulated in a grave, and our soul standing before Him.

 

To Bipolar or Not to Bipolar

Has anyone every tried to suffocate you with a pillow? What about dangling at the ends of another’s hands by your neck, your feet just inches from the floor, and no air getting in, nothing left but the telltale signs of his fingerprints etched in bruises upon your neck? Or, has anyone ever struck you as you held your infant child in your arms, with five other young children looking on?

My answers to these questions are yes, yes, and yes. These are just a few of the instances of abuse that I endured during my second marriage, and they left me spent, fearful, dare I say paranoid!?

In order to survive in a home like this everything has to be perfect … children shall be seen and not heard, the wife is in control of everything … or at least everything that causes his anger to be triggered.

The night that this beast was arrested he called me over a dozen times, from the county jail, to try to persuade me to drop the charges (the calls were collect of course). Finally, I had to call 911 to contact the jail and make him stop calling.

Within two years of this horrendous relationship I was preparing for another marriage. The stress was high, though a good stress, it triggered negative memories and behaviors within me. I became fearful of “being owned by a man.” Scared that the old one would hunt me down to be sure I never had happiness. Most of all, I was pissed off, yes, I was angry that my past could taint my future, and every little thing that I viewed as out of place was cause for screaming, and in some cases even throwing things.

My fiance sat me down, “Laura,” he said, “this isn’t normal, you need help.” He ran me to the doctor who said that I had bipolar and started me on medication.

That was in 2002, and for the past 14 years I have had endless amounts of counseling and when things weren’t perfect my husband would report it and doctors would throw more medication at me. We never decreased or altered, we only added more medication.

When I was raising five children, working full-time and attending college part-time I slept about two or three hours every night, but when college break was on, this mama bear was curled up in bed trying to catch up on lost sleep. No one said a word about my illness when I was setting the world on its ear, but when I slept for more than five hours, suddenly I was considered depressed and whoop, look out, more medication down the throat!

Through all of this I have tried to tell others that I am in control of this, that it was an enviromental reaction, not a chemical imbalance, but no one listened.

NOW, finally, after 14 years of medication I have someone that is listening to me and is considering the fact that I might have been misdiagnosed and over medicated. Now, think this through, I can’t just stop taking my meds, the withdrawals would be pure hell … bad things could happen. So, first I am weaning off the medication that causes: weight gain, high cholesterol, and diabetes … my three biggest concerns since starting this medication path so long ago.

We don’t know for sure if I’ve been misdiagnosed, the only way to know for certain is for me to be off medication, and I have a lot of weaning to get there. I can tell you, that I believe my earlier bouts of anger and throwing things was pure fear of anything less than perfection. Now I know, I’m not perfect, my children aren’t perfect, and neither is my home, but the world won’t end because of that … no one is going to kill me … because those that I surround myself with know that each of us is in charge of our own happiness.

Finally, I have found a doctor that listens and is in this field to help me rather than possible kickbacks. Woohoo!

Emotions Make YOU Weak

Yesterday morning I woke up with an amazing feeling of worthlessness. I held myself in check as long as I could, but the minute I ran out of things to keep my mind busy I got drop kicked by memories of marriages past.

Husband #1 wanted to fix me, to mold me into a better person. Husband #2, well, I was never good enough, no matter what I did. Husband #3 was once asked what did he think would be worth his efforts in raising children that ended up being a worthless waste of time. His answer: “Their mother.”

These thoughts, scrambling through my mind, seemed to kick the hamster that powers my brain off the wheel. I found me, the strong one, folded into the fetal position on the couch, sobs wretching from my deepest core.

Family and real friends will ask, “Why?” They will make you think, make you accept what you are feeling and give a couple of words to help you feel and move on. That’s all I really needed, I had a million things to do, I didn’t have time for this emotional crap. I certainly couldn’t venture out into society like this, that would show I’m not only weak, but vulnerable as well.

A niece asked me to send her a private message on Facebook, and we talked, she almost got me through it, but I was feeling in need of more. Dear friends posted that I’m not worthless, and though it helped, still I needed more. Then, I got a text asking “Why?” I explained the feelings, and the response was, “Oh well, you’re not worthless. Don’t let them best you again.”

“Don’t let them best you again!” that’s it, the fire that I needed. I felt like it’s okay to feel like crap every so often, but I can’t let them continue to win, by doing so I’m giving my power up. This … this is what good friends are made of, they make you think, they challenge you to become a better version of yourself.

I was still feeling pretty low, but I no longer felt weak, I just felt like I had to feel this, acknowledge it and move on. I now had the energy and power to start my day.

As I went through the day my negative emotions were still there, still dragging me down, but God has a way of putting things where we need them to be. As my daughter and I sat in front of a desk I happened to look at a dry erase board and I saw a quote by Mandy Hale:

The only keeper of your happiness is you. Stop giving people power to control your smile, your worth and your attitude. ~Mandy Hale

And the only thought on my mind was, God’s got my back.

Though I had spent a good bit of the morning in utter emotional chaos, I was able to pull through thanks to God, family and friends. This helped to prepare me for the emotional sucker punch I was about to be given in the late afternoon.

Just as things were coming together there was a knock on my door, allowing entry to the visitor I was handed a document detailing law enforcement interviews of the criminal investigation that tore my marriage and family to shreds. Taking the papers I didn’t know if I was holding fire or ice, but I could feel a burning sensation in my soul.

Since I had already felt so low in the morning and was able to stand up to it I was curious if I would have the energy it would take to read through snippets and quotes from the forensic interviews. Once the visitor left I took a folded arm across my chest in a way trying to protect my heart from what I was certain would be nothing but devastation. With my spare hand I held the pages close enough for me to read, but not for the children to see … and I cried again. The shame, guilt and pain that were entwined in those papers showed a lack of compassion on the part of some, maybe even a bit of psychosis. Yet, my earlier experiences had shown me that God had my back, and good always prevails. The aches that I felt no longer seemed insurmountable, instead, I knew who I could talk to about this, and I knew that He would protect me from further devastation as I explored the negative emotions that must occur so that we can know what true euphoria really is.

Friends, family, and above all God, are here, traveling this crazy path with me and I couldn’t be more grateful for those still in my life.

Blaming the Top Tier

A few people have had the nerve to ask me questions about the disintegration of my marital vows. Some have asked, “What happened?” or “When did you realize things were going bad?” or “What were the signs?”

As far as what happened, in all honesty, that is not my story to tell, so I will leave you hanging on that question. (Sorry, but I must respect the privacy of others.)

When did I realize things were going bad? Oh, about four or five years ago our relationship dynamics changed, and it was all downhill from there. I always hoped that tomorrow would be a better day, but tomorrow never came.

What were the signs? I could list some of the signs that I saw, but I don’t want others looking for those signs and assuming that their nuptial vows are on the fritz. So, instead I will share a long lost memory that struck me this morning. You may say it is superstition, or an old wives tale, take it as you will, but here’s the story.

As per marital tradition, the top tier of our wedding cake was boxed up and frozen, to be thawed and enjoyed on our first anniversary.

As our anniversary approached we found ourselves with a new addition to our home, she was just a newborn, and cute as hell. I was registering for college, so things were rather hectic, and let’s not forget the other four children that he welcomed into his arms when he married me.

All seven of us were eager to relax and enjoy the memories of our wedding day as we served the thawed cake, but it wasn’t to be so.

Opening the box that contained the top tier we discovered a spider that had frozen to death in the middle of our cake. Now, it wasn’t anything spectacular, like a black widow or tarantula, but it may have been the first sign of doom just the same.

As I share this, I am well aware that we had a long, happy relationship prior to the discemination of vows, but even so, for some reason, the spider story hit me hard today.

It’s the simple memories … both happy and later sad, that make me realize that there has got to be something left for me in this world … some sort of peace within that allows me to move beyond the past.