The title of this post is actually a quote from my new friend and auther, Tom McCaffrey on his website The Wise Novelist. Tom wrote The Claire Trilogy and I cannot recommend it enough. The problem I have with this philosophy, which is great, is that I hate going to the gym. Also be prepared for this post to get dark.
I just learned that my LOA doesn't end next week, I have a few more weeks to get my shit together, which is not long enough because I never get my shit together. My to do list (I don't make lists) is more like a word map of anxieties than a manageable list of tasks that should be easy to accomplish. I slept until after noon today with only brief moments of consciousness in order to provide basic needs to my dog Boo. And I took my morning meds.
Now for what is paralyzing me for real today:
As I mentioned previously, I have great difficulty compartmentalizing but this most recent school shooting in Texas has me horrified. As I live in Florida, the response of our senators is disgusting. From the live updates on CNN:
In separate interviews with CNN, Florida GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott defended the need for AR-15s and semi-automatic weapons, dismissing calls for expanded background checks. Rubio instead said he would try to force a vote today on a measure to bolster school safety in other ways.
In a back-and-forth with CNN, Rubio contended that expanded background checks would not solve the problem and said even if Washington banned AR-15s, a killer would find a different weapon.
“Listen, at the end of day, you're arguing about what they're using to commit this, and the truth of matter is these people are going to commit these horrifying crimes whether they have to use another weapon to do it; they're going to figure out a way to do it,” Rubio said.
What the fuck else would I expect from the "government representatives" of this fucking state? Then on top of that, I get this from my daughter's school superintendent.
Back in the day I was trained in elementary school for attacks from above (hide under your desk when the air siren screams) and fire drills. In high school we had bomb threat training. Now, our children are trained how to barricade themselves from a shooter and teachers in many districts are encouraged to carry guns. How is this progress? With over 200 mass shootings in 2022 as of today, and school shootings on the rise dramatically since Columbine, what the fuck are we doing to protect our CHILDREN from this? The GOP response: More guns because only "crazy maniacs" will use those guns for harm, and if they can't get the big guns, they'll get little ones and it will happen anyway. "Thoughts and prayers" help as much as snake oil does for cancer. In other words, not at all.
Where is the compassion for human life and the drive to protect it? Why is everything reactive instead of proactive? What are we doing about the toxic masculinity that teaches gun violence is a cathartic answer to the stress of living in this country? How the fuck do I protect my children from this culture?
I'm counting the minutes until V is released from school today knowing she will go to my parents and be embraced with love by my moms. And I do not know what to do. Last night V and I were frustrated with each other, today I just want to wrap my arms around her and keep her there. Forever.
There is a very strong "Us vs. Them" attitude here in Florida. When I first moved down here, my father encouraged me to date. I had broken up with someone I truly loved before the move, and was significantly depressed. So I set up a POF account (don't do that, just don't) and was very honest in my profile about who I am and what matters to me. Including that I'm a progressive liberal and conservation/animal rights/human rights advocate. I wish I had kept the screenshot of one of my first responses... I was told, in a three paragraph screed how I had moved to the wrong state and should be in California with all the other "fruits and nuts" and wait for the state to fall off the continent with the next big earthquake because if I didn't like guns and trucks and confederate pride I didn't belong here.
On local Facebook pages I see posts aplenty about how "Northerners" moving here for less taxes and better weather (I'd argue the weather is not a draw for me) are "ruining" the state. And to be truthful, I do believe the great influx of people moving here IS ruining the state, but for ecological, infrastructure, and educational reasons. Development here doesn't seem to be controlled AT ALL, and the only reason my development is building a new school is because a mother who moved here on the initial promise of plenty of schools drug up the initial building contract promising a school in our midst. That's it! They got called out on their own legal contract and acquiesced to local pressure.
Not to mention that "Florida Wo/Man" is a REAL THING. The people here are damn good at making bad decisions. Attempting to rob a fast food joint with an ALLIGATOR is a thing that happened here! Even in my "good development" in the "best county" in Florida, there's a rash of bicycle thefts that result in the bikes being thrown into retention ponds. And someone was shooting people with a bb gun out of a car. They shot an elder lady walking a dog.
I live between Jacksonville and St. Augustine (I believe both were locations of crimes in Criminal Minds). My father is a retired police Sargent from a large city near NYC in NJ. He has stated more than once that the murder close rate in Jacksonville is abhorrently low. He has mused that retired law enforcement officers should set up an independent task force to actually solve those cold cases. I wish he would set that up, he would find equally amazing retirees and definitely make a difference. My father also believes in on the street patrol (hoof it, don't drive it) with officers recruited from the neighborhoods, to increase the trust between civilians and LEOs. When my father was a patrolman in the 70's in a very diverse city, he had friends EVERYWHERE. As a "punishment" one time he was sent to sit in a vehicle near a potential "hot spot" all shift, every shift. It was near where we lived. Every shift he received free full meals from the people he knew there. When asked how it was going, he replied "great!" And his commanding officer realized my father could make the best of any situation.
I don't know how to make the best out of the current social climate. I'm not interested in hearing that there are good parts on both sides of the gun control debate. There aren't. Like most parents, I want my children to grow up and have the lives they want. That used to be a relatively easy dream. Of course there has always been violence and accidents happen, but this... This is chaos.
This fear washes over me and I cannot shake it. I'll try to read. I'll play with Boo, I'll hold V until she tells me "Mama, let go!" and my dreams will be filled with screams and blood and helplessness.
And tomorrow I'll tell V how much I love her as she goes off to school and hope that today is not the day someone enters her school with a high powered gun, and hope if it happens, she's smart and quick enough to survive. Parenthood in 2022 should not be like this!
Change does come from within, and the individuals and families that have had enough of this will eventually prevail (Hope springs eternal...) but will it be soon enough? I do not know.
I've always had difficulty with expressing what's in my head (like speaking words that make sense) because aphasia and word salad are a symptom of my migraines. But since the mental collapse of winter 2021/2022, it has become much worse, so I'm really trying to figure out if compartmentalizing is what I actually wanted to say, since spell check isn't freaking out, I suppose it is.
My mother recently suggested that I discuss an issue with my therapist. The issue is, I get too emotionally involved in issues I can't do much about.
I had to stop following the news about the war in Ukraine because I was living there, through it, in my head. I CAN donate, share information, and hold space in my heart that maybe that asshole Putin will give up, even though that's not likely with that fucking narcissistic dictator.
I moved from New Jersey to Florida (ugh) in 2017. V (the wildflower child) had been in an elementary school in NJ that had, as just the basic curriculum, Spanish, Art, Dance, Music, Computer Sciences, as well as the standard Math, ELA, PE, Social Studies, and Science. So we move with my parents to the county in FL with "the best school district in the state." Again, for perspective, that state is FLORIDA. Guess what's not available in these public schools? SPANISH, dance, art as a basic requirement, and you know, SPACE for the kids.
Recently a zoning suggestion for the "new school" being proposed, would split our development into a minimum of three different school zones. Sometimes one side of the street was zoned to another school than the opposite side of the street. I'm not even going to get into the bussing fiasco. The thing is, the very reason we moved to this county and this development, was because there was promised at least two new schools built HERE, in the development. I'm going to give you one chance to guess how that's going. I'm absolutely livid that there's a chance my daughter may have to go to her last year of middle school (8th grade) in a completely different school. WTF is that? Anyway...
I'm a longtime supporter (and member of) the LGBTQ+ community (yes I married a man, doesn't mean I'm straight). The attacks on rights, people, and even fucking recognition of the legitimacy of LGBTQ+ rights as humans and their value to our collective community... There's a rage I can't contain. I can only make sure my home is a safe space, and donate to the local shelter organization for Jacksonville LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, JASMYN. I want to find the parents of children disowned for being themselves and well, I should try to understand, but violence is my first instinct. My daughter is asexual bi-romantic and I'm so proud of her for being herself.
I hate all of the GOP at this point. Anti-science, anti-environment, anti-compassion, racist, misogynistic ego maniacal monsters. All of them.
And why the fuck would someone my hubs has worked for, without a raise, who is family, refuse to give him a raise, right after telling him he spent between $1000 - $1400 a night on a resort stay in Hawaii, and then say his expenses are too high for a raise. Fuck him.
There's no infrastructure here to support the continuous development. For all Florida's social and political flaws, the environment and wildlife is astonishing. But none of that is safe from the siren song of easy money for developers.
I'm angry. I'm angry about everything that I see as injustice or exploitation of people, resources, animals... I'm a progressive liberal leftist and that will never change.
One of my favorite lines in the televised version of "American Gods" is Mr. Nancy's "Anger gets shit done." But my anger allows not much doing of anything I can do to change the situations. I've protested, I've walked, I've donated when I can, I call out people for using hateful, outdated, or prejudicial speech. But I can only change what is right around me. And that makes me feel hopeless and insignificant. Which makes me even more angry.
I do have to do something to compartmentalize what I can, and cannot change. And try to be satisfied with leading my own life in line with my values, helping Hubs to understand my views, and raising V, and hopefully my bonus children, to carry on with compassion and awareness.
Sometimes though, that's not enough, and I rage. Today is one of those days. So after posting this long rant, I will try to relax, focus on my small gardens and my dog, make sure V's cramps are under control, and keep Hubs from feeling overwhelmed and depressed. And tonight when I lie down to sleep, I will try to not dwell on all the things I cannot change.
So there's simply too much to say about the last couple of years to really cover everything. So consider this a continuation not a recap. We'll all catch up I'm sure.
During the last four or five months, I have issues with time right now. And words, that's another story. But during this time, I've discovered an even deeper connection with the animals outside my home.
When the hubs (George) and I bought this house last year (almost to the day actually) It was new construction in a newer "neighborhood" of our very large development here in NE Florida. (GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY!!! Fuck you DeSantis).Since I've gone on LOA, I've been taking almost daily morning walks with my Moms (yes you will learn, Mom1 is my birth mom, Mom2 is my step-mother, Dad is well Dad, and they all live together in the house around the way that we originally moved into. I didn't get far and my family is weird). We take a walk halfway around their neighborhood's "lake" (retention pond) and keep track of the wildlife. I've taken hundreds of photos of the birds (and alligator) we see.
I created a little garden next to one of the contractor installed trees (a cyprus) in my backyard, mounted a bluebird house, and have spent more money than sense on bird food of all kinds.
Also a pair of mute swans appeared on my retention pond in my little neighborhood. If you haven't seen mute swans in the wild, it's intense. They are HUGE and make Canada Geese look slight and delicate. These swans literally just appeared one day. And I fell in love.
So... A lot has happened since my last post. Trigger warning: Mental Health, SI, Self Harm
|Angel passed away from cancer. I adopted Boo Violet. I got a job at a very large bank. I met a guy. I got moved around to a new project. Started dating said guy. Got moved to another department. Proposed to the guy. He said yes. Bought a house with the guy. Moved me, my kid, and my dog in with the guy. Adopted two girl rats. Planted gardens. Married the guy. Got drunk at the reception (which pretty much sucked a bag of dicks), crashed my car, spent my wedding night in jail. Quit drinking on Halloween 2021. Had a mental health crisis during the holidays. Went on Leave of Absence from my job 12/20/21... Haven't gone back yet.
Also made friends with two swans who appeared around the time I was contemplating and planning suicide. They are a large part of how I survived. I also entered a partial hospitalization program, changed my meds (still doing that), and re-focused on my art, and the natural world.
I am more tan than I have been in years, and my body dysphoria just hates that, but mentally, I'm getting stronger every day.
I'm currently too tired to write much as to why I've been "away." Or think too much about any one thing. But here is an email I sent today to a very dear, very new, friend:
Fuck a duck... er... swan
This is your fault, you did say keep in touch. And I knew you'd empathize.
So that's my thoughts today. Glad to be back doing this. Will probably be even more random now than I was. Is that possible? Who know... Am I talking to myself? Probably.
It's been a while since I posted, but today is the Ides of March, and yesterday was the Walk Out protest, and I have a lot on my mind while my Wildflower Child is in school...
You ever have a moment when a random (yet very important) memory flashes and you have an epiphany that is so profound you actually don't possess the language to express it?
I am having that moment and I am going to my very best to explain...
I was "that kid." I was that kid in kindergarten when the only kids who spoke to me were a girl that only spoke Spanish (and I didn't) and a boy who ate paste, with pride. I was also hearing impaired at the time, so it was very hard to connect in general.
I was "that kid" in elementary school. My social anxiety was blooming in full force, I had migraine, and early enough I had a truly shit home life that spilled over into every other facet of my being.
I was "that kid" in junior high. The girl with the hand-me-down clothing and self done haircuts and color and obsessive interest in books and entertainment that no one else gave a shit about.
I was "that kid" in high school who read Henry Rollins with the punks during lunch, out loud, and wore whatever the fuck I wanted and got straight A's and took two languages and all the arts I could and made REALLY BAD hairstyle choices. Though I did end up having a handful of close friends at both my high schools, it was hard work.
I was quiet, nerdy, unfashionable, book smart, anxious, depressed, self-harming, damaged. I also took care of my two younger siblings FROM THE BEGINNING (elementary school), had jobs when I could, took part in some very specific after school activities, and desperately did everything I could "right."
I'm not even going to get into college because that's an essay all it's own.
The point is, I was THAT KID. Now here comes the revelation...
In 8th? grade (possibly 7th, a lot of my memory is no longer linear due to trauma), my math teacher, MATH teacher, noticed I was doing fine academically, but physically and emotionally I was withering. I weighed 92lbs at the time. I was my full height. I was not anorexic, I was dying of stress.
He gave me a book.
The book was "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. Now Card has turned out to be a huge piece of shit as a person, but that book became incredibly important to me and if you don't know the story here's an example of how this book, given out of concern to a troubled kid, could have resulted in something VERY DIFFERENT than me feeling like I had an ally who actually cared if I continued to breathe.
Ender is six-years-old in the beginning of the book, (this is very much a sci-fi book, and way better than the movie). He's being bullied at school because he's a third child (population control) and he's constantly monitored by the government because all children are, humans are at war and the government is recruiting at a young age. Anyway, ENDER KILLS HIS BULLY IN THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK! He hits him in the face and drives his nose into his skull. Ender never learns the boy actually died, but he killed him, at six. First grade.
I was being bullied. I was being abused. I was isolated. I was weird. I was scared all the time. I was given this book by a concerned teacher who knew I loved science fiction. Ender commits genocide in the climax of the novel. He is a murderer. A mass murderer.
Now, going with the victim blaming bullshit I've previously mentioned, it would be incredibly easy to assume I would have gone on a shooting spree (granted I'm female, so statistically less likely, but still). ALL THE FACTORS that people are blaming this type of mass violence on, were there. I had everything except, I'm not a sociopath. I'm not a murderer. Nothing any of those people hurting me, or that book that actually made murder a viable option, convinced me to commit violence against my peers.
So... Can we agree the reverse is true as well? If someone is a sociopath, a person amenable to the idea of killing, is a hand out or an invitation to lunch going to stop them? Is being nice going to stop the person who doesn't see you as a person from hurting you? And if the damn adults don't respond when kids say they're worried, then absolutely NOTHING will work.
I had a CD when I was in High School of Mandy Patinkin singing show tunes. There was one song that was a mashup of "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" and "Children Will Listen." (You can hear it here https://youtu.be/owxRpV7l8Dc)
This jumped into my head today after my therapy session. Of course we as a nation are dealing with the tragedy that is the Las Vegas shooting, but my personal tragedies are front and center in my mind as I attempt to find healing from a habitually broken heart.
I listened as a child. I was taught. I was taught through abuse and neglect that I was to take care of the family and adapt to the abuse and violence that I experienced and witnessed. I was taught that it was my job to put my body between the abuser and my younger more fragile siblings. That I was the one to call the police when my mother was being beaten. That I should keep the house clean so there was no evidence of the hell in which we were living. These lessons added to the anxiety and depression with which I was born and turned into a syllabus of worthlessness. If I wasn't caring and fixing and adapting, I had no purpose.
I continued that role in my marriage. I defended and supported and cared for a husband who didn't do the same for me. He tore me down, isolated me, raped me, stole from me, lied to me, gaslighted me. And for over a decade, I adapted to each increase of the abuse. I drew my lines further and further from my self preservation and lost more and more of myself. Until I couldn't anymore because it isn't only about me. I have the Wildflower Child and she deserves to see what real, healthy, relationships look like, so she can have them herself.
And then I did it again. And again. To lesser degrees, but no less damaging to my sense of self and my hope of finding true partnership in this life. Today in therapy it was pointed out to me all I've just laid out above. I hadn't seen it until now. I knew my choices have been not good in people I trust and give my heart to. But I hadn't seen the scars of my abuse in that light before.
This helps. It hurts right now because it is freshly exposed and raw. But if I can see something, I can address it. And hopefully avoid it in the future.
I took my first dose of Cymbalta yesterday. The major concern was that I would be allergic to it or have an adverse reaction. I don't respond to all medications like I'm "supposed to." Intravenous Valium for instance makes me psychotic and paranoid. Percocet causes me to shake uncontrollably and sweat bullets. Codeine has caused hallucinations. It's super fun trying out a new medication.
So here I am, almost 24 hours after taking my first dose, still hating that I am back on anti-depressant medication, but wondering if I will better be able to function through the life changes that are occurring beyond my control. My heart is still broken in a million pieces and as much as I try to reason myself into believing that I will be okay, I don't feel like I will ever be okay. I want to be a good mother to the Wildflower Child. I want to have someone to love and be loved by. I want to be able to stand on my own two feet and weather the slings and arrows of this mortal coil. I want to be able to "win" NaNoWriMo'16. I want to be free of the impulses and doubts that keep me from actively seeking out the things that make me happy. I want the later half of my life to be full and expansive. I do not want to be trapped by "I can't."
Later today, I'll take the second dose.
Today I made a call I've been putting off for oh... A long time. I called the intake department of my local Behavioral Health group that takes my insurance. The same group that sees my Wildflower Child. The same group that inspired me to have to get sole legal custody of said child. The same group that has made me crazy with red tape and screwed up schedules and also shown me that there is hope for my daughter to be the capable and awesome person I know she can be. I made an appointment for an intake appointment with the same wonderful and warm woman that did my daughter's evaluation almost a year ago. I finally admitted to someone that can actually do something, that I need help.
I've been in therapy in the past. Many times. But the last time was well before the Wildflower Child came into my life. Well over a decade ago. Some therapists have helped. Others have just pissed me off. Some have made me wonder how they got their credentials. The problem is, I'm rather intelligent, and self aware, and have studied a fair amount of psychology myself. And I have enough hubris so that if someone isn't "getting it" I immediately discount everything they say and scoff at the entire process.
Well, I'm done with that bullshit.
I need help.
I am not ashamed to admit that I am at the end of my rope. I am not in danger. I am not in crisis. I am in flux and I am fighting situational depression and I have some major decisions that have to be addressed and eventually made, sooner rather than later. I need an outside support system to help me find the right directions for myself and my daughter.
More people need to understand that asking for help, getting mental health care, is not a sign of weakness. Even I need to own this. This is a strong, proactive, decision to hopefully guide me the best possible outcome for all involved. There are a lot of variables in my life right now; a new relationship, a Domestic Relations conference coming up, my parents moving from the Mid-Atlantic to most likely Florida (FUCKING FLORIDA) as soon as they can, my professional future, where will I be in a year or two, how will I continue to provide for my daughter, and my dog...
The stress I am under results in a few rather negative responses. Either I devolve into a blinding rage that is scatter shot at the people around me. Luckily that doesn't last long. Or perhaps I will become self-loathing. I have a history of self-injurious behavior, and while I haven't cut or burned myself in years, I'd like to make sure that I don't feel that impulse again. Then there's the paralyzing fear. Because that's awesome. And a great way to make appropriate decisions. </sarcasm>
I want anyone who reads this to know you can ask for help. There are resources available. You are not alone. Needing mental health care and support isn't a failure. Getting it, makes you stronger.
Wish me luck with my providers. I'm hoping I click with the first one.
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.