A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Harassment

This idea for this post came from my Doc friend’s blog. She was talking about harassment and where does the line get drawn. She had a patient who was making passes at her staff in jest, but it was still annoying. Of course it was annoying. It was harassment. And as I wrote back to her, harassment is determined by the person who is receiving it, not the person who is inflicting it. It has nothing to do with the intent. It is all about how something is received.

I also went on to say that for someone who has a traumatic childhood, or was a victim of sexual abuse or other violent acts, the response to someone’s intent to be funny has just the opposite effect. It can cause a major trigger that can put someone into a tailspin for days and weeks. They may not even know what they are reacting to. It could be a word or even the tone of the harasser.

Harassment can come in many forms. Often people think they are doing a good thing. But someone who constantly harasses someone from the concept of improving the person is totally misguided. What makes that person think they have that right? What makes them so superior to be able to comment?

As I thought about this all week, it hit me that parents come from a point of improving their child but when does it become harassment? Isn’t improving a child the role of a parent? Is there a point when the parent should stop trying to improve their child?

What about a spouse or your partner? Is it ok to harass them into doing something, especially when it affects your family or home? It probably is not ok, but it is hard not to do. I speak from experience.

My husband’s 28 year old daughter will not learn to drive. This makes me crazy. She is terrified, she says. She finally got her permit and then took one lesson. This took three years to accomplish. She said the lesson went ok. But she has made no attempt to continue.  Instead, she relies on her father to tote her around like Miss Daisy. I think he enjoys her dependency on him. Did I say this drives me nuts?

I am skilled in motivation interviewing. I teach it matter of fact. I know in my heart that I am not going to move either one of them on this topic, so I resort to harassment- truth be told. My intent to get his daughter to drive is based on the best interests for her. I want her to be independent and not have to rely on US for the rest of her life. We won’t be there. She has no other family and she has no friends. Her mother passed away at the age of 52. She instilled this irrational fear to drive in her daughter as the mother never drove.

The real reason the daughter won’t drive is because then she will be expected to do something with her life. That ain’t happening either. I know this probably irks me more than anything. What a waste.

Does harassing them help? Absolutely not. It only escalates my anger and frustration more. Can I walk away from it? NO. It slaps me in the face every time she calls her father for a favor. There was over twelve years when his daughter was out in California with her mother that she never called or spoke to her father. It hurt him to the core. But when the mother died, it was; “Oh, Daddy.” He can’t see it or chooses not to.

The bottom line is it still harassment, even with the good intent. I know in my heart I want her to have a life and not rot away like her mother did. I am sad that she is wasting her life. She has all the capabilities to do whatever she wants, but she chooses the easy way out. I have no right to her life. But boy, it is hard to keep my mouth shut. I am so helpless on this because she is not even my kid.

The bottom line is harassment is a person attempt to control. It is coming at someone from the viewpoint of superiority, or desiring some effect of change. I lived with harassment my whole life. Although it was sometimes masked in humor, it was my family’s way to control and inflict. Years of harassment left me sensitive to being criticized in any manner.

We cannot change people. We can influence them, we can teach, we can support. But it is impossible to change someone who does not want to. But damn, its hard not to do.

 

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Don’t take this personally

“You’re too sensitive.” “I meant this is a good way.” And my favorite: Don’t take this personally.” Everyone time someone says those things; I know it is going to be a dagger in my soul. I am too sensitive. I will take it badly. And I most definitely will take it personally. Because that is the honest intent. Prefacing statements with “honestly” or to “tell the truth” does not excuse the fact that you are about to be mean. “It’s for your own good” never really is. It’s about you feeling superior to me.

Being an empath is not a pleasure. I see right through most people’s crap in a heartbeat. It does not mean that I can shield myself from the hurt. I never learned that part of survival. Because of that, I am very vulnerable to insults, even if they are shrouded in good intentions. They never really are good intentions.

When you are a large woman, you are a walking target for these kinds of insults. People feel so justified to say, “You would be so pretty if…..” “or you have a beautiful face….” People tell you how much better your life would be if only you could be more like them with statements like: “you should run with me some morning.” Oh Honey, if you really knew me, you would know I can hardly walk some mornings due to psoriatic arthritis. But you don’t really see me, so thanks but no thanks.

These comments do more than just hurt me. They trigger me. My family never lacked in cruel comments. It was a sport to see how clever someone could insult another. I was an enigma in the sense I was the only woman in my family who was large. I mean I am the tallest by 5 to 7 inches, I wore a much larger size (my Mom was a zero to 3) and I had boobs. I spent my childhood listening to “how much better I would be if I only…” This is emotional abuse by the way. I was deprived of treats, often subjected to ridiculous diets like green beans and Jello and constantly harangued about my shape.

[And this is how just writing about my childhood trigger me to justify it. I realized this when I went back to reread what I wrote:] My mom was in charge of the food in the house and meals were excessively high in carbs and fat. There was always soda and cookies available because the other siblings could gorge on them. They were thin. I was an extremely active child and teen often spending the day swimming or riding a bike for miles. I was not allowed to sit around and watch TV or even read. As a younger woman, I was very active. I only slowed down because of the PsA and if I did not have it, I would still be playing tennis and other activities as much as I could.

My family’s constant barrage of self-improvement comments were actually telling me how I failed. There was little said to counter the demeaning of the words. It successfully made me feel like a failure and that was the intent. I know this now, but it scarred me. So now when people make their veiled comments, I hear the disappointment in my mother and father and it brings me back to that time. When you have PTSD, it does not take much to trigger you.

When you grow up with a sense of failure, you have two choices: over achieve or lie down and whither. I overachieved. My success had not dampened the hurt I feel when someone is critical. I am so sensitive, that a look can set me off. I feel people’s disdain of me even if they think they are hiding it. I read people very clearly. It does not matter who or what the relationship. It does not matter if I love or hate the person. Their intent comes beaming through.

Next time you go to make a comment, try to remember that a large person already knows they are large. Chances are they have spent a lifetime trying to meet other’s expectations and have failed. They may not be strong, and your words will haunt them for days. You have no right to demean someone ever. If you think you are helping them, you are not. Get off your white horse and stop being so pompous. Learn that “right reflexing” (the attempt to take charge of someone else’s change process) does not motivate anyone to change. Understand your motive before you speak. Send love, not hurt.

 

Who rescued who

  It is no secret that I love animals. These two came to us after they picked us. When visiting the home where they were being fostered, Cookie crawled into my lap and Browny nestled in on my side. We were sealed forever as a family.   After my Heart Dog (one who owns your heart) Bishop passed away, I did not think I would ever feel the same. And I did not when we got the pair. It is different, but it still is love.

 Miss Cookie selected me to be her favorite, although she loves her Dadder. Browny bonded more with him. Browny comes to the Mommer especially when he needs hugs and reassurance, which is often. Mommer also gives him energy massages which he loves.

At first, they would not sleep in our bed. It took a lot for her especially to trust us. They had clearly been abuse as they cringed when someone raised their hand  or held a stick up. There was no tossing sticks for them and it took a long time for them to run after balls, being fearful of the toss. They ran when I had the broom out. It took time and love.

Their personalities are very different. He is hyper and demands a lot of attention. But he is a sweetie.  She now likes to be in my lap as much as possible and has a quirky funny disposition. She is a love.

 She loves to roll in the snow, but hates the rain. She likes to be with someone, especially me.  We spend hours together in the garden. She comes for me promptly at 9:00pm to go to bed.   She is silly and possessive and devoted. We cannot figure out why anyone would hurt these two. Browny has suffered two seizures, booth mild. Other than that they are healthy, active and our loves.

   We do not know their true history and never will. We do know Cookie is slightly older than Browny, maybe. We have had them four years. We figure she maybe around nine if she was really five when we got them. They both have slowed down unless there are squirrels in their yard.

  This morning I woke up to Cookie throwing up on my foot. She has been itching a lot. She has seasonal allergies which have reared every year about this time. There is little we can do except give her low dosage Benadryl and lots of love. She hates the itching and so do I. This morning, she seemed to be very off and I pray there is nothing more wrong. I do not know if I can stand to lose her in such short amount of time and I certainly do not want her to suffer. It was then I realized how much I adore these two. And so, who rescued who?

By the time I finished writing this blog, after I fed them, Miss Cookie seems to be feeling much better.

The Draft

It’s hard to believe it was forty –five years ago. It was so different from now. I was 18, innocent and trusting. The world was in turmoil as we were involved in Viet Nam. All the guys who I graduated with had registered with the draft. We all knew someone who went over and did not come back. It was an unjust situation. You had to register and you had to take your chances.

There were tons of stories on how to get out of being drafted but it was very hard to be 4F. My hubby was one of the lucky ones who was exempt for a medical reason. His number was 35 in 1968.

My sister had many friends who went over. My brothers all went to college and were exempt. My first close experience was in 1972 with a Vet who had returned. His name was John. I was going to college with my best friend from high school. We had sung as a duo since the time we met. Music was our lives. There was a big presence of returning Vets who went back to school at the college. She ended up marrying one. She and I joined the Jazz group on campus and went on tour to other colleges on the East Coast. John was in the group and played guitar like a dream. We eventually formed a group with another guitarist named John, also an older Vet, and the four of us called ourselves Synapse. We were good.

I had it for John really bad. He really was not that good looking. He was older and I think that had appeal. He also had his own apartment which for us who still lived at home was a super plus. He was also pretty messed up and did drugs. No one could wake him up or startle him. He would go bat shit if you did. There was a lot more, but let it suffice that although there were many firsts with him, it was not a stable relationship. But oh, could he play a 12 string.

Then I met my ex. He was also 19 and in a band. He was on the draft at a precarious 200 number. He would be called up eventually. He was not going to go to college and was working as a machinist. But at that time, his love was music too. He was in a band called Jaspur who played country rock and was very popular. He had long hair and a beard. He did not do drugs. We met, fell in love and made plans to go to Canada. It was my dream to have a farm and he was prepared, city boy that he was, to live in the woods instead of Nam. The draft ended in 1973 and the need to escape ended.

Later in our lives, he became a cop and fell in with a group of right wing supremist who were all ex marines. He blamed me for not going into the service. That is just another reason why he is my ex.

My family did have members who served. My sister-in-law is a lieutenant and actually served oversees during the Nam war. My Uncle and his son were/are both commissioned officers in the Navy. My oldest nephew had one foot out the door of high school and the other in the Navy. He served for over 20 years and just recently retired as a Master Chief. I won’t say he isn’t messed up because he is. He feels like life sort of passed him by and wished he had a family. My mother’s father served also. WWII was the cause of the death of my grandfather. He was really messed up when he came back and they thought he might have been gassed. He died in a sanitarium.

I think the fear of being sent to war made my generation hateful of the government and we do not trust it. Returning soldiers were not greeted at the airport with banners and flags. They were spit on. Nam ruined lives in many ways and this was before they had treatments for PTSD like they do now.  The generations after us have no idea what it was like to know that graduating from high school could be a death sentence. It is not like my parents’ generation where going to war was glory and honor. There was honor in my grandparent’s generation too.

I am not against the people who serve. I am against war. I abhor violence. I think we are still involved in places we should not be. I think it is crazy to sacrifice our young. But I know I would rally for a real cause if need be. I thank the people who served whether they had to or choose to. It is a true sacrifice. I mourn those who did not return. And I grieve for the lives ever changed by the horrors they saw.

I pray every day that the blond idiot in the White House does not get us into a conflict with his mouth.

 

 

On the horizon

moon-super-1

Thanksgiving has passed and now we are on to the “Holiday Season.” Ever since I was a kid I was bedazzled by the light displays. I think the spirit of Christmas is different from when I was growing up. There was religion still involved. I do not remember being bombarded with all the shopping stuff. Santa was important, but it still revolved around the celebration of Christ and traditional values. We learned about charity and giving in other ways than just presents.

The holidays now are  not about traditional values and the religious components. It makes me sad, even though I have severed my relationship with a formal church. I did that many years ago when I decided that the lies and propaganda that was being said at services was counter to my foundational principals of faith. There was too much political bias and discrimination being offered up as acceptable practice.

Let me be clear that I am not without faith. I have a strong spiritual belief which does not require me going to a church to practice.

No one can truly predict the future but from my view, I see Christmas becoming a completely different holiday and morphing to something that is not pleasant. I see it eventually disappearing. It will become so obnoxious that people will not celebrate it. The pressure to shop and get everything correct will become such a burden that it will be eliminated. I see it happening now where people do not want to bother because it is such a bother. My generation is getting too old to fuss and the next generations have not had the same exposure we did because parents are too tired and are working all the time. It’s now about the loot under the tree.

My youngest nephew sent me a text asking that I keep a look out for a specific gift for his daughter that she HAS to have. I was thrilled until I found it and saw the price tag. She is going to be seven. The toy is a stuffed fur ball that has a computer in it that makes it giggle and other things. It was $150.00. No way was I going to spend that much on one toy for a seven year old. I have seen pictures from their Christmas fall out of unwrapping gifts. That would be one of many toys for her. What was he thinking? What does this teach her? And in all honesty, they cannot afford spending money like that on toys that will be broken or not wanted in two months. But I know it all has to do with pressure and acceptance and nothing to do with Christmas.

Even my oldest brother does not want to exchange gifts anymore. There was a tradition that was attached which included spending the day and a luncheon together. But the last two years, the town they live in turns into a Dickens Christmas and is wall-to –wall people in every restaurant and store. They are in their 70’s and as my brother said, they do not need anything. It has always been a challenge to find something for them, but I spend the year doing it. It keeps them in my thoughts. I have not acquiesced to his desire to give up the practice yet, as I already had somethings purchased. I hope we will still get together but this has created some hard feelings.

What I see on the horizon about losing the tradition of Christmas is very sad but I am powerless to change it. Things will be different and a new set of traditions will be formed for the younger set. As my family gets older and we are separated by long distances, things will change. I can keep my traditions alive in my home and that’s about it. But as my strength and energy fails, I find even my normal over the top decorating of my house, my baking and candy making will not be over the top. But I know in my heart the spirit will be there.

 

Thanksgiving

writing spot 2014

It is Thanksgiving week. Many people travel at this time back to their family homes to gather to give thanks. I am sitting at my spot at the kitchen table thinking how wonderful and blessed I am and grateful. Many times I will sit here or in my chair and look around my home and think how lucky I am and how much I love this place. I did from the moment I moved in.

I saw the house in a whirlwind of viewings of places when I needed to move and get out of the house I was in. I was in the process of a crappy divorce and did not want to remain in that house. I had sold it and already successfully secure a mortgage loan. I actually do not remember much of the visit other than I liked it, it was in the village  where I wanted to live and it had a garden and a pool.

Heron Hill 2012  house after renovations and painting

The interior was very dark. They had covered all the windows with heavy drapes. It was early spring and the garden had not quite come to life but I saw potential. I bought it, had it inspected and moved in. Little did I know that the  inspection was a fraud and I discovered many things that needed to be redone, including a very leaky roof.

At that time, my one basset had seizures every so often. She would circle and her face wound cave and her tongue would hand out. She would be like that for hours and sometimes, she would whimper or cry. They were awful. I had her tested and they feel that she had been so abused that there was traumatic brain injury. My friend took her and Bishop for the day. They came over with them after the move was done. She walked into the house like she owned it. She pranced around the back yard. At night, she walked down to our bedroom, pulled the blanket on her bed over her as she always did and slept. She did not have another seizure until four years later, which was actually a stroke and she lost her life to it.

side after

There is an old style enclosed back porch with large screened windows that was my spot in the summer. I would sit out there for hours. In the winter, the downstairs room became the TV room and I filled it with overstuffed comfortable furniture. That was the only new thing I bought for years as I have too much furniture and need to get rid of some. There are many hand-me-downs and antiques and furniture I got in my first marriage. There is one room I call the museum which has a lot of crystal and fine things that were given to me by relatives. I wish I had a relative to pass it on, but sadly, there is no one who wants or even gets what they mean.

I have made improvement through the years. The interior has been redone with bright paint and papers. I had the bathroom and kitchen refurbished and the lower level area redone to include a man cave for my husband.  The exterior was painted the colors of the blue heron. We call the house now Heron Hill as there are over a dozen heron garden features all over. I had the old pool removed and the garden completely re-landscaped. I had the driveway widened and redone along with some new retaining walls.

The house was built in the same year I was born. We have aged and have creaks and groans but are still functioning. People comment on how comfortable the house is and often say it has a warm special feel to it. No one will ever say it is glamourous or worry about spilling something. It is a place to relax and recoup. I have one person who stays here to watch the dogs while we are away who absolutely loves the place and calls it her vacation spot.

Waiting for Santa Paws

I am sitting here this morning gazing at the snow falling. The house has an abundance of windows including a bank of almost  floor to ceiling ones in the front. They are old and drafty and I will soon cover them to keep the warmth in. But that’s ok because I have many plants inside and they have white lights in them to keep a festive feel even after I take down the Christmas stuff sometime in MARCH!!!! ( wish I was kidding)

Christmas 2014 1

On Thursday, my husband and his daughter will sit down to a meal which we all helped to prepare. I insist we say at least one thing we are grateful for. I practice every night thinking of things I am grateful for before I sleep. Even when the pain of my Psoriatic arthritis is pulsing through me, I find peace and solitude in my humble abode.

 

 

Death is not for sissies.

fogfalls

Death is not for sissies. This past week was an experience I would not want to repeat. There were moments of beauty and love that will be in my heart forever. But watching someone die is not something I want to do again. Now I know that I will not partake in Hospice work as a volunteer, even though I am trained to do so.

My mother in law (MIL) spent over a week in the hospital. The family dynamics made it a difficult situation. The oldest son wanted control of his parent’s estate and health proxy, but it was given to my sister in law (SIL). My hubby is the middle child and always on the outside looking in. There were arguments that were nothing but my BIL and SIL battling for control.

My MIL was admitted for aspirated pneumonia. She had dementia. She has spent the last couple of years in and out of the hospital and was placed into a nursing home. The place she was in was depressing and ugly. It was close and convenient for my SIL to go to. Mom was kept pretty much in a wheelchair when not in a tiny half room. My SIL moved her out of her private room and told no one. After my father in law passed last September, the family splintered as the SIL was totally in charge of the estate and money and what happened to Mom.

From the moment Mom was in ED, my SIL thought there was hope she would recover completely. She took measures to keep her alive that she should not have. The Wednesday after she was admitted, the charge nurse on the floor pleaded with her to allow her to go into comfort care and be released from her illness. They were suctioning her, giving her nebulizer treatments and she was sustained on high power oxygen. She could not eat. They were giving her mega doses of potassium IV and antibiotics. Her infection stopped spreading, but it did not get better.

Finally, on day six, my SIL agreed to comfort care. BUT….she did not want them giving my MIL any morphine. She felt that was what killed my father in law. Long story but the bottom line is my SIL is very selfish and undereducated and once she gets an idea in her head, there is no changing it. She named the one insistent nurse: Nurse Kevorkian. And she was very upset with the fact that Mom got a variety of nurses, care technicians and PA’s. She hated the PA’s and was quite rude to them. The MD assigned to Mom said she would not make it from day one, but agreed to let my SIL decide when to go to comfort care. Then she liked him.

Finally on day six, she signed Mom over to comfort care, they wanted to immediately removed the IV. My SIL almost changed her mind accept that it was explained to her that it was painful and not doing anything. It took another day for her to agree to have the line removed. She did not want the O2 turned down or changed to normal. The staff, fortunately, have to followed protocol and when we left at night they took her off the high pressure and put her on a very low dose of 02. Mom hated the cannula and pulled it off her face. SIL kept fighting with her to put it back on. When I felt it, I told her there was barely anything coming through and I said to her, “Let’s leave it off for a while.”

But the hardest thing for SIL to understand was the course of medications they give the dying. She kept saying no to anything but they did medicate her. They told her the morphine (they used the name of the drug and not the word morphine in front of her) they were giving her was helping her breath, so she let them administer it. Mom became very agitated and they wanted to give her Ativan to calm her. They tried to give her a pill which of course she could not swallow. But when they came back to give her the Ativan sublingually, SIL had a fit. That made no sense because she was OK with the pill of the same drug. For three hours Mom thrashed about.

But she did drink a sip of water when they tried to give her the pill. My SIL went off the deep end and said she could finally eat and ordered food. They brought trays up of pureed foods which of course she did not eat. But she offered to her son when he was visiting.

Mom spent the next couple of days in and out of it. She would call for Clara. She would smile at me when I leaned over. She knew us. And then the last day, she was totally out of it. She was talking to whoever she saw in her “sleep”. She made hand gestures that indicated that there were people in the room for her. We could not understand her because she often switched to French, which is her native tongue. She would hold out her arm, her fingers grasping for someone. At one point she made the gesture of “you and me” and then smiled. But there were many moments of anguish and pain as her face contorted in a painful grimace. Her body would become rigid and she tried to sit up. She had longer pauses between breaths (apnea) and then would shutter and take the next breath. Her toes were a curled mess. She suffered the indignity of being rolled in the bed to get cleaned up and left for hours in uncomfortable positions when she slipped in the bed. Before they put her on comfort care, she would moan. I never understood how my SIL was not bothered by that.

I was angry at my SIL for allowing my MIL to suffer. The nursing staff was very nice and they would talk to me instead of my SIL because she was so rude to them. They knew not to say anything about drugs in front of her. They would tell me her stats and were very upfront with me. After being there from 9 am on Wednesday, I asked the nurse if she would make it through the night and she felt she would. Although her O2 level was fluctuating, it was rebounding back to 90. We left, my BIL left and then at 9, my SIL left to go home for the night. Mom was sleeping quietly and we all thought she would be there the next day. At 10:15pm, all alone, she crossed over. Eight days and nights of being by her bed and she still died alone. I think she knew my SIL would have freaked.

The next phased of drama is the service and funeral. We talked about the planning of it front of my MIL every day prior to her death. My SIL was going through menus and calling places. One night, she and my hubby wrote the obit and talked about it very loudly in front of my MIL. Then, the next day, she said no more talking like that in front of Mom. She had Googled it and said she found out Mom could hear. I told her that from day one, but what did I know? No matter what anyone said, my SIL wanted what she wanted and that is what would happen. I do not care as I do not believe in big elaborate funerals. Spend the time and money when the person is alive. But at the end of the month, there will be a memorial service and funeral.

Now, the real battle starts as the accounting of the estate will take place and my SIL is going to have a lot of explaining to do. Can’t wait.