The Ugly Truth

nia4My mom has Alzheimer’s.

There, I said it.

I have watched for seven years as the disease slowly progressed and day-by-day, cell-by-cell, darkened the little neurons in her brain.  In seven years she went from being forgetful and otherwise completely functional to being unable to read or write and often trying to put her underwear on over her head.

Your brain is like a giant power grid.  Alzheimer’s just shuts off the power very slowly, one switch at a time, until most of the lights are off.  Sadly, it does this without shutting off the power to your heart.  That would be a lot kinder and gentler way to die in my opinion.

The problem is that mom was my best friend.  We were very close.  I still talk to her several times a week, sometimes for over an hour a day, but the conversation consists of me telling her the same things over and over again, because she asks me the same questions over and over again.  She has no short-term memory left to speak of.

She can still shower and use the toilet and feed herself, but it’s a matter of time before those lights go out, too.  She falls more and more often, and that may ultimately lead to a broken hip, which will render her immobile and totally unable to care for herself.  This is not going to end peacefully.  It’s going to be a slow agonizing death for her, and for us as we watch her go through it.  The only “good” news in this is she doesn’t really seem to know what’s happening.  At least she is not aware of how bad the situation really is.

I was told years ago by a friend that I should find an Alzheimer’s support group and start attending.  She said my life was going to get a lot worse before it got better given Mom’s disease.  I didn’t do that, I just thought I could handle it on my own.  Now I’m fighting with someone I love very much, and was even thinking of cutting them out of my life (which I’m definitely not going to do, I’ve calmed down since then).  Why?  Because my world without a healthy mom is spinning out of control so much that I don’t know whether to shit or go blind (a favorite expression of southerners everywhere).   Mom was definitely the glue that held our family together, and Alzheimer’s is now making it difficult for all of us.  It’s a cruel cruel disease that takes prisoners and kills them very very very slowly, while the family and friends suffer the torture that the disease inflicts.

We have a charitable giving campaign at work every year.  I didn’t participate for years, until last year.  I started directing a small donation to an Alzheimer’s research institution.  I upped the donation this year when it was time to sign up again.  It’s too late for mom, but I have to hope they will have a cure by the time I am her age.  I dread the thought of putting my son through the agony of watching me slowly fade away the way we’ve all watched Mom disappear.

I have started online therapy, as I mentioned.  I started out being angry at someone and what we’ve come to conclude is that everyone is off balance because of the tragedy that has befallen Mom.  I am trying to make peace with it but I’m angry and I miss my mother, dammit!  She has a heart condition, and I keep hoping that her heart will just give out one day, and that she can die quietly in her sleep.  I guess we all hope that will happen for those we love, because the suffering that they go through, and that we go through watching them, feels too great to bear.

My mom has Alzheimer’s.

 

 

Online Therapy

In my last post I was pretty upset.  So much so that I felt I needed to talk to a bh_logo_mediumprofessional.  I knew if I waited for a live appointment I would talk myself out of going, so I opted for online therapy at www.betterhelp.com   I thought I’d fill you in on how that works, in case you’re interested.

BetterHelp.com is an online therapy service, staffed with licensed counselors and therapists.  You fill out a questionnaire so they can match you up with someone.  If at any time you are not happy with your therapist, you can request to change to someone else.  My therapist’s name is Tiffany and she’s got a master’s degree plus she’s a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).  I like her.

You correspond with your therapist in a private chat room.  You can talk as much as you want, as often as you want.  The therapist replies as soon as possible.  I find that Tiffany always responds within 24 hours.  You can also book live chat sessions for one hour, in which you chat real-time.

It’s definitely different than face-to-face therapy, but I like the fact that when I have something to say–even if it’s 2:00 in the morning–I can just say it and get it out.  I know that appointments and waiting weeks or months to see a good therapist would deter me from going through with this process.

I can’t really say what has been concluded thus far.  It’s personal, very personal indeed, and it involves other members of my family who didn’t give permission to have their business plastered all over my blog.  As upset as I am, I’m really trying to respect their privacy.  But, let’s just say there are some deep issues that involve the past and the present that I have to try and stumble my way through and get some closure on.

With most therapists charging $100 an hour or more, I think the price is quite reasonable.  You get the first week free, and you can cancel if you aren’t happy.  After the first week, you have to pay for 11 weeks at $35 a week.  You have to pay for all 11 weeks at one time.  But, that’s less than $400 for 12 total weeks of therapy and I don’t know any place that you can get that kind of assistance for that price.

I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made so far and I am glad I signed up for this.  If you need to talk to someone, give Better Help a try.

Saying Goodbye

Sometimes you have to cut people out of your life to move on and heal and be sane.  I’ve realized I have to do that with someone.  Someone you never want to have to do that to.

I’m sitting here at 2 am having doubts about my decision.  Everyone says the mean, cruel, hateful behaviors that I’ve been subjected to over the years are just a product of a particular generation, but I don’t buy that.  I know other people from the same generation who are nurturing, kind, and loving.  (Seriously, I’ve heard of the Millennial generation and the Baby Boomer generation, but never “the Asshole generation!”)

My heart just aches and I feel so empty.  I can’t stop crying.  Things have been said that cannot be taken back.  I am reliving all kinds of painful incidents.   I’m kicking myself for things that I said that made the situation worse.  I’m also looking at how others have been treated and I’m seeing a pattern of cruelty and abuse that looks very familiar.  I want to write about the details but I just don’t think I can.  It’s too raw and too painful.

I’m calling a therapist tomorrow so I can go talk to someone.  I suddenly feel like there is this huge gaping wound in me that is not going to heal.  I can’t think, I can’t function. I feel like I was hit by a truck.  Then again, I’m kicking myself for letting it bother me!  It’s like I can’t win and I am lost.

Small Voices Matter

My friends have a child in the Lewisville (Texas) Independent School District (LISD).  Their daughter is being bullied and the school district is giving them a very hard time.  Please join me in standing up to LISD by sharing this post.   #smallvoicesmatter

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Baby It’s Cold Outside… but Maybe Not?

Yesterday I booked a trip to Orlando for Christmas.  My son and I wanted to go somewhere tropical formickey-mouse-snowman-christmas-510x640 the holiday but all the resorts were outrageously expensive and I didn’t have $5 thousand lying around to burn.   So, I booked one of those time share deals–pay $250 for three nights, and in return I have to go through a time share presentation.  Ugh.

That was really our only option for the budget, because the resorts charge outrageous prices that time of year.  I guess it’s because they can–apparently we ain’t the only cats who avoid family at Christmas.

That sounds awful to say, but it’s true.  And I’ll tell you the history.

When I was 18 years old I leased apartments to work my way through school.  I would volunteer for the Christmas Eve shift every year just so I had a reason not to go to my parents’ house any earlier than I had to.  It wasn’t because of my parents, though.  It was because of a certain other person in our family who had to make a scene.  Every.  Single.  Year.  It was like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were on their calendar marked, “Show My Ass in the Biggest Way Possible.”  The holiday was so miserable that I fantasized about growing up, moving away, and spending Christmas alone.   If it wasn’t arguing about something it was a crying fit about a dead dog.  It was always always always something.  Oh, and it happened at Thanksgiving, too.

I loved Christmas.  It was my favorite holiday of the year.  I lived for it, decorated, shopped, wrapped, baked….but then that person would have to make their scene each year and so it was often anticlimactic and disappointing.

I grew up, finished school, and moved away.  I came back for Christmas, and it still happened.  Once I had a child, though, I stopped traveling at Christmas.  As I told everyone, “Santa will come down our chimney for our son–you can be here with us if you like, but he’s not going to travel at Christmas.”  With that came a wonderful thing–peace at Christmas.  My son was the focus, and I did not go to see my parents and engage in the drama.  They would come and visit us, leaving the drama starter at home.

I got to decorate, shop, wrap, bake, etc.,. to my heart’s content, and I got to see Christmas through the wonder of a child’s eyes.  It was magical.  In 2009 we moved to North Carolina.  And we were close enough to my family that we were able to visit for Christmas.  We didn’t have much of a reason not to.

The first year, we went for Thanksgiving.  While we were there had an early small Christmas celebration.  I’ll give you three guesses what happened, and the first two don’t count.  Yep–the Scene Maker started with their antics.  But, there was one critical difference between this time and all the times before…

…I had to see the impact of it in my son’s eyes.  I had tolerated it all those years and was used to it, but he had never had a miserable or unpleasant or drama-filled holiday in his life. He was 12 at the time and caught in that odd space between being a child and a teenager, and the confusion and tension I saw on his face was just heartbreaking for me.

The next year, we visited the family for a short time just before Christmas.  And yes, it happened again.  The drama was something that my father was so used to he simply said, “You know ____ always has to show their ass.”  And that look on my son’s face?  There it was again.  I can’t begin to describe it accurately, but it was one of disturbance, pain, anxiety, confusion, and sheer fright.

It killed me to see that.  And at that moment I made up my mind:  there would never be another holiday with my family.  It was one thing when I had to take the abuse but it was a whole other can of worms when I had to see my son get hurt.

One of the most frustrating things about this whole situation is that my parents–my father in particular–is an enabler.  Come one, come all, even if you do act like an asshole.  Ruin our holiday and we’ll accept it as a normal occurrence.  If it were me I’d un-invite the offender until s/he could learn to behave.  But, that’s not how it works at Dysfunction Junction.

I see my parents several times a year.  I love them with all my heart.  But, I just cannot spend a holiday with them anymore.  This year we’ll travel through there on our way to Orlando and spend a night or two, and deliver a few gifts, but there will be no Christmas festivities with “the whole family.”  I just can’t do it.  On this Christmas Day I will be in the company of someone I love more than anything–my son.  I’ll be dancing with Mickey Mouse to the tune of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and avoiding drama at all costs.

Just Say “HELL NO” to Domestic Violence

DomesticViolenceI have a very sensitive and important subject to talk about, and that is domestic violence.  I hate it when I have to go all “serious” on my readers but this subject is very near to my heart because my mother, in the 1950’s, was the victim of domestic violence.  By the time he started hitting her, she was pregnant.

In the fifties, it was not okay for a woman to be divorced, much less divorced and pregnant or with a child.  But, she had the balls to leave him anyway.  She  moved back with her parents and stayed married until the baby was born.  Then she divorced him.   She eventually met my father, who was a good and gentle man.  He adopted the baby and the prick who was the sperm donor was out of her life for good.

All my young life, my mother told me, “You never let a man hit you.  Ever.”  I never questioned that.  I’m pleased to say no man ever has.  I bruise easily, though, and my ex-husband used to say, because of the bruises I carry around on my legs, “People will think I beat you.”  I told him this:

“Anyone who knows me knows you don’t beat me, because you’re still fucking BREATHING.”

Today I found out someone I love very much got into a domestic violence situation.  She is very young and truthfully I’ve always thought she was too good for the guy she was with.  Now I KNOW she is.  I asked her if he hit her, she said no, “he just threw me around.”  She is sore in her back and arms now.  A relative is on the way to get her, while that asshole is sleeping.  I am trying to convince her to come stay with me.  I’m trying to convince her to press charges against him, and she won’t do it.

I’m writing this mostly so she will read it, and if another woman out there hears what I am saying and it helps her, well, I will have accomplished my goal of trying to stop the spread of this hideous behavior.

Here are some very important facts to realize:

  • Women ages 18 to 34 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
  • More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.
  • 1 in 3 female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner every year.
  • Most women brought to emergency rooms due to domestic violence were socially isolated and had few social and financial resources.
  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
  • On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
  • In domestic violence homicides, women are six times more likely to be killed when there is a gun in the house.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
  • Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.

 

Signs of Domestic Violence

Does your partner

  • Accuse you of cheating and being disloyal?
  • Make you feel worthless?
  • Hurt you by hitting, choking or kicking you?
  • Intimidate and threaten to hurt you or someone you love?
  • Threaten to hurt themselves if they don’t get what they want?
  • Try to control what you do and who you see?
  • Isolate you?
  • Pressure or force you into unwanted sex?
  • Control your access to money?
  • Stalk you, including calling you constantly or following you?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you most probably are a victim of domestic violence.

Here are even more signs of this behavior:

  • Telling the victim that they can never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away
  • Accusing the victim of cheating
  • Keeping or discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family members
  • Embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Taking the victim’s money or refusing to give them money for expenses
  • Looking at or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing
  • Controlling who the victim sees, where they go, or what they do
  • Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
  • Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim’s every move (in person or also via the internet and/or other devices such as GPS tracking or the victim’s phone)
  • Preventing the victim from making their own decisions
  • Telling the victim that they are a bad parent or threatening to hurt, kill, or take away their children
  • Threatening to hurt or kill the victim’s friends, loved ones, or pets
  • Intimidating the victim with guns, knives, or other weapons
  • Pressuring the victim to have sex when they don’t want to or to do things sexually they are not comfortable with
  • Forcing sex with others
  • Refusing to use protection when having sex or sabotaging birth control
  • Pressuring or forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol
  • Preventing the victim from working or attending school, harassing the victim at either, keeping their victim up all night so they perform badly at their job or in school
  • Destroying the victim’s property

Get HELP

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

If you are being abused by your partner, know there is nothing you have done or are doing to cause the abuse. It is solely the choice of the abuser to abuse. It may seem impossible to escape your abuser, change your circumstances, or find the help you need, but it is possible. However, you know your abuser best, so think carefully through your situation and circumstances and do what is the best for you.

While the information that follows may be helpful to you, please know it is not meant to be used as the only information you need to get and stay safe, nor is it inclusive of all the information you may need. It is critical that you connect with someone knowledgeable about domestic violence that can help you create a safety plan specifically for you, your family, and your specific needs.

Plan ahead where you can go if the abuser shows signs of escalating. Make a list of safe people to contact (DV program, friends, relatives, attorney, and important persons/services). Have numbers for local domestic violence programs. Pack and have ready a bag or suitcase of essentials, including medications.

Obtain and secure personal documents and information for you, and if you have children, for them as well: birth certificates, driver’s license, social security cards, immunization records, passports, licenses, bank accounts, debit and credit cards, checkbooks, W-2s, paystubs, insurance cards and policies, school records, clothing, and keys. Any documentation that you might have about the abuse, pictures, recordings, medical records, and police reports are also very important to have. Include cash if you can and any other valuable that you don’t want to leave behind. Keep in mind that large items like furniture might not be possible to hide.

Find a safe place to hide these—with a friend, relative, and/or another place the abuser cannot access.

If you are in the home during an incident:

  • Avoid rooms with no exits, like bathrooms and closets. Also, avoid rooms with weapons, like the kitchen.
  • Get to a room with a door or a window to escape.
  • If it is possible, lock the abuser outside. Call 911.
  • Get medical attention if you are hurt.
  • If you have contact with the police, get the name and badge number of the officer(s).
  • Contact a domestic violence program, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233), or go to a safehouse.

 

Finally, please remember that you are worth MORE than this!  Your life matters and it should be treasured and respected and loved, not abused.  

I’m Just Venting a Little Bit…

yodaI removed my last post because I decided it wasn’t worth risking someone telling my family what I was upset about.  (I don’t know who would be dumb enough to do that, but I’m sure someone would do it and then that would cause a whole new set of problems.)  I’m just venting here at this point.

For those of you who missed it, basically I found out that something very important was kept from me by a relative.  It’s someone I should have been able to trust, and it has really rocked my foundation and broken my heart.  It had to do with Bobby, the ex-almost-husband, who much like a disgusting cockroach just continues to crawl around my life and gross me out to no end.  I keep hoping I’ve heard the last of his shenanigans, but then someone else comes forward to tell me, “Oh, he did this…” or “He said that…”  I’m tired of hearing it.

I’m not sure if people understand how hard this whole episode of my life has been.  I don’t think people understand how rotten I felt about breaking off the engagement, and how much he has harassed me over the last 2+ years as a result.  Click here to read the whole story.   And here.

At first I felt awful about breaking his heart, but now I’m just still so angry at myself for not being able to see what he was at the time.  I could have seriously ruined my life marrying him, and I almost did.  It’s a very sick feeling to know that I would have brought someone like that into my home where my child lives.  I cannot believe how close I came to disaster.  It makes me doubt and question everything I do now when it comes to dating.  I mean, I knew him for over two years and he was completely deceiving me the entire time.  Either by cheating on me with other women or by going behind my back to my friends and family to manipulate me.  Now, in hindsight, it appears he was trying to control me and take away my support system and ultimately isolate me from everyone.

I am tempted to publish his full name here and his identifying information so if any woman out there encounters him and Googles his name she’ll find my site.  But, I’m going to let sleeping assholes lie undisturbed for now.  I have thrown away any and all evidence that he ever existed.  Most-recently,  I found a photo album of us on a shelf.  I had forgotten it existed.  It is safely on its way to the garbage dump as I write this.

I cannot shake the feeling that there’s more to the story.  What is someone going to come and tell me next?  I just cannot begin to imagine what facts are still undiscovered where he is concerned.  My wonderful readers, thank you for holding my hand and my heart as I’ve gone through this.  Your support and friendship has meant a great deal to me.  I’ll keep you posted, but let’s cross our fingers that I have heard the last of him.   I can hope, anyway.

A Great Day for my Gay Friends

download (1)I know, I know, I need to lay off the serious posts.  I just posted one about racism, and now I’m going to talk about gay marriage rights.  But, I do feel this issue is so important that it deserves a little attention.

Growing up I was pretty ignorant about gay people.  Like most kids I did not understand boys who were “sissies” or girls who were really “butch.”  I was friends with them, but I didn’t understand.  One of my best friends in high school was a lesbian and I didn’t know it until years later!  I don’t know if she knew it at the time, but as I understand it she finally admitted it and came “out” in college.  We had lost touch by then so I didn’t really learn about it until much later.  I wasn’t surprised, I was just shocked at how stupid and blind I was as a teenager!

When did I start to understand gay people?  When I had a female hairdresser who was a lesbian.  We became friends and I got to know her and her partner very well.  I found out they were no different than heterosexual people when it came to matters of the heart, relationships, etc. Well, that’s not exactly true–they had the added burden of having to be discriminated against for their sexuality!

Later, after I had my child, he attended a private Montessori school.  Many of the kids who attended school with him had gay parents, and I had a chance to get to know them.  There was one couple I particularly admired because when they decided to split up, they still managed to behave in a fashion that put the child’s interests first.  One of them, the biological mother, could have legally kept her departing partner from ever seeing the child again since she had no legal rights to him.  But, they maintained a working relationship that allowed him to remain in the non-birth mother’s life.  I honestly thought they behaved better than many divorcing heterosexual couples I had seen.

Ever since those days, I have wanted gay marriage to be legal.  And not just because I think it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution to deny them that right.  I felt, after observing a lesbian teacher10011640_719759281483870_2679637996973538668_o at the school, that they also deserved the responsibility and definition of marriage.  And here’s why.

This woman, I’ll call her Dolly, had two children.  These children proudly proclaimed that they had FOUR mothers.  Dolly was the birth mother.  Then she had a partner at the time of the birth of the children and so that was Mother #2.  Those two had split up and found subsequent partners, and those women were Mothers #3 and #4.  She had a full blown church wedding with the second partner, and she demanded all the rights and privileges of a married couple.  What was an even bigger shame, in my opinion, was that as soon as that partnership started unraveling, they were just able to call it quits and part company without going through all the legal paperwork the rest of us had to go through to get divorced.  I felt very sorry for those children because she quickly moved on to yet another serious partner and I guess she got dubbed Mother #5?  It seemed like her household had a revolving door of partners/mothers/spouses and I know that had to be confusing for the children.   Dolly and Mother #5 each had children in the class–and they quickly started having sleepovers at each other’s homes with the kids all present.  Guess what the topic of conversation was at school the next day?  My seven year old son was soooo confused having Dolly’s love life explained to him in class by his peers.

The day I found out about this, we were driving home from school and from his car seat he said, “Mom, I just want you to know I will never, ever ever be gay.”  Seven years old he says this!  I said, very sincerely, “Son, I don’t think you will be.   But, IF you were, I would love you just the same.  Why are you bringing this up?”

“Because my teacher, Dolly, is being gay with Sam’s mommy.”

And, I guarantee you if I had paraded that many MEN through my bedroom in such a short time, dubbing all of them “Fathers” for my son, that my son’s teacher would have given me a good scolding about how confusing I was making life for my child.  The other lesbian parent I was friends with at the school found Dolly’s revolving relationship door to be quite inappropriate and confusing for the children, so it wasn’t just me who thought it was a bit much.

Perhaps the right to legally marry wouldn’t have changed Dolly’s revolving door.  But, I do think that having serious consequences both legally and financially at the end of a marriage might have made her marriage a bit less disposable.

The good news about all this, though, was that my son was raised to be very accepting and understanding of gays and lesbians.  In middle school and high school when other boys would ask “Do you think that guy is gay?” my son would simply respond, “Why the hell do you care?”  So proud of that young man I am!

One more point and I’ll get back to writing about more light-hearted topics.  I respect your right to believe that being gay is wrong in the eyes of whatever deity you worship (presumably the Christian one?)  I admire your conviction and I understand where you’re coming from.  But this country was founded on the principle that the government would not have or endorse or make a national religion.  Our forefathers wanted to escape the religious persecution they were experiencing in England.  George Washington said, ““The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”  So, to impose the doctrine of the Christian religion on society by forbidding homosexual marriage is just not constitutional!

And why that horse’s ass Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) voted against legalizing gay marriage is just an abomination in and of itself.  It was less than 60 years ago that it would have been illegal for him to be married to the white woman he is married to today!!!!

For all the people out there who are threatening to set themselves on fire or leave the country because of the SCOTUS ruling this week, I have a simple solution.  It goes like this:  If you are opposed to gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person!    Isn’t that simple????

My Journey Away from Racism

racismIn light of the senseless shootings that just took place in South Carolina, I thought it might make sense to visit the topic of racism. I don’t usually write about things that are completely serious, but today I feel like doing just that.

I was raised in Georgia, by parents who worked very hard to provide for us. They were very good people, and still are.  But, they were raised by poor families that were very racist, and, they in turn educated us to be racist as well.  I remember as a child thinking that the word “nigger” was a normal part of speech!

I remember going to my first day of public school and seeing black girls and not understanding why their hair was so different from mine.  It was because I had been kept in my own isolated little bubble of the world that had no interaction with black people.  I will never forget how the black girls in first grade had braids that stood up straight off the tops of their heads.  I didn’t understand how their hair defied gravity.  I asked my parents about it and it was explained to me as being caused by black people having very dirty, greasy hair.  I had no reason to doubt that explanation at th e time.  Hell, I was only five years old!

When I was in high school I ran with a crowd far above my station in life.  They were kids from educated, upper middle class families.  They weren’t as racist as my family was and that was a lesson for me in and of itself.  I remember one time, on student council, we had a black guy serving with us.  I gave him a ride to lunch one day in my car.  He was a nice guy and I didn’t mind.  I told my mother about it later and she cautioned me not to let my father know I had a “nigger” in my car that he had bought me.   I thought that seemed a bit excessive, but of course I kept the information from my dad.

The more educated I got the less racist I became.  I met black people from all walks of life along my journey into adulthood, and I found them to be just like me.  I will tell you when the racism that I was raised with finally started to really bother me.  It was when I was 31 years old and newly divorced.  I was dating again and I realized something that bothered me.  I was thinking about who I was attracted to, and why, and I had to question why I couldn’t date a black person without incurring my father’s wrath.

My father didn’t like black folks, but he also couldn’t stand my ex-husband.  He felt he was lazy, and sullen, and he also felt he took advantage of my hard working nature.  He didn’t work for 4 out of the 6 years we were married and that really annoyed my hard working father who had made quite a nice living for us with nothing more than an eighth grade education.  I realized that I could find a man who worked hard, made six figures a year, treated me like a princess, adored my child, worshipped my parents, and was an all around great human being.  But, if he was black?  My father would still rather I be with the ex-husband he couldn’t stand.  And that bugged the holy shit out of me.  I couldn’t stand the illogical reasoning of that and from then on I found that racism just didn’t make any sense to me.  It bothered me down to my core and I started to really and truly despise it.

What bothers me about my father’s racism (along with my siblings’ racism) is that they act like black people have somehow taken something from them, or denied them some fundamental right.  The truth is no black person has ever hurt them, or deprived them of anything in this world.  Why they are so hostile and so angry to people of color simply doesn’t make sense to me.

Sometimes people who are racist say “Well, it’s just how I was raised.”  I am living proof that you are not automatically a product of your environment–I am also living proof that education opens minds and changes attitudes.   So, that argument that “I was raised that way” is simply a crock of horseshit that I don’t buy.

I write this today sitting downstairs in my house, as my son and his black friend are playing video games upstairs.  That friend of his has no home, so he is living with us for awhile.  I am glad that I evolved enough in my thinking that I don’t deny a home to an otherwise homeless child just because of his skin color.  My parents are visiting us next weekend and I know it’s going to bother my dad to no end that there’s a black person living in our house.  I have struggled with the discomfort that is going to cause but I just don’t care anymore.  I’m 47 years old, I pay my own bills and own my own home.  If I want this young man in my house, my dad is just going to have to deal with it.  More importantly, when I think about the illogical nature of my father’s aversion to black people, I am reminded that the young man who shot those nine people in that church in South Carolina had very similar views and used them as justification to murder.  I’m not going to sit by silently and abide that kind of thinking any longer.

May those nine precious souls lost to racism in South Carolina rest in peace.

Dirty Dishes

When last I reported on the happenings of the fam-damily, I was in trouble over a set of cheap dishes.   That was last October.  I managed to visit Dirty_disheshome a couple more times and nothing really changed.  Then on my last visit in March, I got out of the car, said hello to my mother, and the angry sibling walked up and threw her arms around me and said an amazing two-word sentence that I’ve never heard her say:

I’m sorry.

She has never been so succinct.  All previous attempts at that sentence always went like this:

I’m sorry, but… <insert justification for bad behavior, which usually involved blaming me>.

Then she said:

Let’s don’t hold anymore grudges.   

Okay, well, I wasn’t the one holding a grudge about cheap @#$%&!@ dishes!!!!!!!

This is what frustrates me about my family–there are no consequences for bad behavior.  You do something really shitty like stir the pot over a gift you put strings on, and then it’s just as if waving a magic wand makes all the drama go away.  I do give her credit for the unconditional apology.  That truly floored me.  But I’m quite frankly left wondering when the next explosion will occur and what blame will be assigned to me in the process.

At this juncture mom has pretty serious dementia and is never coming back.  They aren’t doing anything to stave off the progress of it, which frustrates me but it’s not my call to make.  All I’m trying to do is spend time with her and enjoy what time we have left together.  I’m biting my tongue and doing whatever I have to do to keep the peace so I can enjoy that time as undisturbed as possible.  But, it really bothers me that people think they can say and do anything in this family and then, like rinsing off dirty dishes after dinner, just wash away the damage that’s been done and act like nothing happened.  It’s been going on my whole life and while I’m a big believer in the power of forgiveness, it’s very hard to forget the damage that’s been done.

I’m Not a Loser (Right?)

Depression runs in my family.  There were five suicides in my family, some on BOTH sides of the family, before I was 25 years old.  First cousins, and uncles, who all just snapped one day and offed themselves.  I grew up thinking that kind of shit was normal.  Not desirable, but definitely a “normal” cause of death.

When I was 15 my depression manifested itself as an eating disorder.  In a very short time period I was on the verge of hospitalization.  I went from 145 pounds to 102 pounds at my lowest.  I would have lost more if they had let me.  Something in me was willing to live, though.

(Now I’m fat as hell and 180 pounds so I think I’m over that phase.)

But still, depression is an issue I have struggled with and that I have vowed to successfully treat.  I take my medications, and, when I feel them not 5-Ways-to-Stop-Self-Doubt-in-its-Tracksworking I am the first person to talk to my doctor about adjustments.  I think of it like diabetes:  I can manage it and live longer and healthier, or I can just ignore it, not take my medications and that will shorten my life and also reduce the quality of it.  It’s a no brainer for me to take my meds.

I confess, though, that when I go home to visit my parents, my depression flares up really bad.  And I know why:  it’s because my father treats me like a loser, and has for years.

I can remember a time when he seemed to be halfway proud of me.  He never said much about it to me, but, I could tell.  And other people told me how proud he was of me.  The last ten years or so, though, have been a different story.  I think his own depression has gotten the better of him so much so that he is truly a “glass is half empty” kind of person.  There is a part of me that desperately wants to sneak some Prozac into the water supply at their house, just to see what happens.  I know he’s got his hands full with my mom and her dementia, which is tearing all of us up.  But, I still just don’t understand why I am treated like such a loser.

I have had a full-time job with benefits since September 1, 1992.  I have not gone a day since without health insurance and a good paycheck.  I finished undergrad school summa cum laude, and have a doctoral degree.  I make six figures a year, live in a $300,000+ house that I pay for on my own, have a great career and I’ve never been arrested.  But, I will never ever ever get a single compliment out of that man.  For the life of me I don’t know why.  All he can do is talk about what I haven’t done, or, make fun of things I have tried to do.  What the fuck is up with that??

I’m not sure why things are the way they are.  I just know that I almost always leave that house and cry on the way home.  It’s hard enough to watch your parents get old and frail, it’s even harder when you feel like they have no respect or admiration for you, their own flesh and blood.  Especially when you don’t know what else you could do to prove your worth to them.  It’s just a really hard pill to swallow.

Today, no matter how old they are, go hug your kids.  Or call them on the phone and give them a virtual hug.  Tell them how proud you are of them.  They need to hear it.

 

Planning Christmas Dinner

Growing up in Georgia we always had turkey and dressing for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  At some point I recognized I really didn’t like turkey and my mom started catering to my penchant for queso instead.  While the family sat around eating turkey I sat with a crock pot full of queso with meat in it and pigged out.  It was delicious, and there’s a simple recipe for it:  one pound of Velveeta (which I don’t believe is cheese, I think it’s a petroleum product since it can last indefinitely on a shelf), and one can of Ro-tel diced tomatoes and chilis.  Add in a half pound of browned sausage or taco meat and you have a meal fit for a Mexican queen.

As I grew up and started a family of my own, I sort of followed Mom’s model for holiday dinners by having one simple rule:  everyone gets what they want to eat.  Since our holiday celebrations are typically just me and my son, and maybe my best friend when she can travel, it’s not that big of a burden to cater to everyone’s tastes.  This year, for instance, at Thanksgiving my son wanted sushi.  I gave him cash and told him to go to the store and buy what he wanted.  Simple enough.  He had sushi and was a happy camper, and later on that evening we had filet mignon with my niece and her boyfriend.  Winner winner, gourmet steak dinner!  Everyone was happy and there was not a single piece of turkey anywhere near my kitchen.  I don’t *do* turkey, unless someone requests it.  And, no one ever requests it.

So as you plan your Christmas feast this year, my advice is to think about what everyone really likes.  Then?  Serve THAT.  It’s a holiday for you, too, and there’s no sense in sticking to food traditions that don’t work.  If your kids hate turkey, why fight with them to eat it?

I have a unique dilemma this year in that I will be alone for Christmas.  My son is going to his dad’s for the holiday and Fox will be at his mother’s house.  So it will just be me and the dogs.  I don’t know what I’ll serve but you can bet your sweet ass it won’t be turkey!  I may just have a bottle of wine and a bag of tortilla chips.  I’ve made meals out of less than that.  Or perhaps I’ll make up a cheese plate and attack that bottle of wine in style.  What I won’t do is feel sorry for myself for being alone.  I have spent one other Christmas alone and it was really kind of peaceful.  I mean, I missed my son of course, but there was something kind of luxurious about sitting around in a bathrobe all day drinking wine and playing on Facebook to see what everyone else got for Christmas.  I even ordered myself a gift wrapped present  or two from QVC and opened those on Christmas day.  The best part about buying your own Christmas presents is you surely get exactly what you want!

What Christmas alone is not?  It’s not dysfunctional.  There are no temper tantrums by drama queen relatives.  No arguments.  No brawls.  No hurt feelings.  Nobody trying to goad someone into pressure washing their trailer house.  None of that stuff….just peace, quiet, and your entertainment method of choice.    Maybe I’ll work on some art projects in between surfing Facebook and seeing everyone else’s Christmas festivities?  Might be a good day to work on some seashell crafts and daydream about the beach, since beach season will only be five months away by then.

Whatever you decide to do for Christmas, I hope it’s a healthy, happy, and merry celebration for you!

 

My Lamb Recipe

I try not to take myself or any subject too seriously on this blog, but October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month and I have some pretty strong feelings about this subject.  So today, mortals, let’s get serious for just a few minutes.  This is serious stuff.domesticwk2

When I was about 10 or 11 my parents sat me down and told me that my brother was really my half brother, because my dad was mom’s second husband.  A long time ago, back in the 1950’s, mom wanted to get away from her emotionally abusive mother and she thought the way to do that was to get married.  By the time she found out she was pregnant, he was beating her.

In the 1950’s the only thing worse than being beaten was being a “divorcee” .  But, my mother had too much respect for herself to let the abuse continue, so she left him and went back to live with her parents.  She stayed married until the baby was born so that he wouldn’t be a “bastard” .  Later she met my father and he wanted to adopt the baby and make it his own legally.  The biological father was such an asshat that he agreed to this as long as he was off the hook on child support.  My brother is now almost 60 years old and even though that man lived in the same town until he died, they never met or got to know one another before Mr. Asshat finally died.

My mother is my hero and always has been ever since I found out about this part of her life.  She just wasn’t going to take the abuse, and, she endured a lot of scorn for her decision to be a “divorcee” .  Once I knew about this it then made sense why she had always said, “You never let a man hit you.  Never.”  And while I questioned a lot of things my mom said and believed, I never questioned that particular statement.  At the age of 46, I’m proud to say I have never let a man hit me.  I’ve never been hit or even swung at by a man.  I have a theory about that.  I think that I am just not attracted to the kind of man who would hit me, and, I think I attract non-violent men who wouldn’t ever think of hitting me.

I do bruise easily, so I often wear blue and purple splotches on my legs just from grazing a table or some other stationary object.  When I was married, my husband jokingly said, “People are going to think I beat you.”  Here was my response:

“No one will think that, because you’re still fuckin’ BREATHING.”  

And not that he was the kind of man who would hit me, but he knew if he ever decided to lay a hand on me I would kill him or at least severely maim him.  What can I say, Lorena Bobbitt was also a hero of mine.  And I do believe if a man ever hit me, I would seriously think about reenacting her butcher knife trick.

I do have to say that in light of this history, it is sometimes very difficult to comprehend how any woman can stay in an abusive relationship.  I just don’t fathom the concept.  But, I know it happens for reasons that are tragic and heartbreaking and I also know sometimes the deepest bruises come from emotional abuse.

I used to live across the street from a gal whose husband was so insanely jealous that when she separated from him he stalked her unmercifully.  He went right down to counting how many pairs of panties she laundered each week (with the theory being if she had sex with someone else she would use an additional pair or two).  I stood in her living room one night and heard him screaming at her on the phone so loudly that you could hear every word he said from 10 feet away, and her children stood there and heard it, too.   He never hit her but he did push her down once.

I did everything I could to protect her and keep her safe.  Her parents had money and they were going to help her any way they could.  She had all kinds of resources and support, yet she eventually took him back.  And of course at that point he hated me because I had called him an abuser.  He threatened to sue me for defamation of character as a result.  It was an ugly situation that never resolved itself.  I lost my friend over it and to my knowledge she is still with him.

Signs of Abuse

I hope that as you read this list you find nothing that sounds familiar, but if you do at the end I’ll post some resources for you to explore.

You might be experiencing domestic violence if you’re in a relationship with someone who:

  • Calls you names, insults you or puts you down
  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school
  • Prevents or discourages you from seeing family members or friends
  • Tries to control how you spend money, where you go, what medicines you take or what you wear
  • Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
  • Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Threatens you with violence or a weapon
  • Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
  • Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
  • Blames you for his or her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it

Resources For the Abused

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If you have never seen the movie “Slingblade,” you really should.

Just please remember that if you are in danger, your abuser may be tracking your internet activities.  So, please just call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 without clicking on any of the links below.  Or, if you need me to call for you, e-mail me at info@broomwithaview.com and tell me you read my article on “the special recipe for lamb” and that you’d like a copy of it.  I will know exactly what that means (since I have never cooked lamb in my life) and I’ll then reach out to you with a friendly e-mail, my phone number, etc., and I’ll help you as best I can to find a safe place to land.

Probably the best resource is the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or just click here to go to their web page

Helpguide.org has quite a few good tips and resources available.  Click here.

Here’s a website by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  Click here.

WomenLawyers.com has an excellent list of domestic violence victim resources.  Click here.

 

Just remember one thing… NO ONE deserves to be beaten or abused.  There is help.