Feeling the Gratitude…Mostly

This was taken on Thanksgiving day in 2006. It was an overcast and rainy day. I was looking down the road just out front of the house we used to live in.

I think I’ve gotten to the point that it is comfortable to just ignore the holidays…any holiday. Most of them were at one time spent with a family, a family I was born into. But I am feeling like I’m without family now and so since gathering with loved ones is the meaning of most holidays, the holidays have ceased to have much meaning anymore.

B and I were invited to his brother’s family’s celebration of Thanksgiving, as we’ve been every year now since I can remember. I can probably count them somewhat as family. This particular brother of B’s has a special place in my heart for reasons I won’t go into here. But I just wasn’t up for the crowd that I knew would be there.

When I turned down the invitation, which B relayed to me, I didn’t expect him to do the same. But he did and we spent the day as if it were any other day off for him. It was weird. It had a strange feel to it.

But as I sit here I realize I am grateful and have reasons to give thanks.

-I am grateful that I have a roof over my head…despite an inconsiderate neighbor. d
-I am grateful for a warm bed and food to eat.
-I am grateful for the support I do have from B, despite our difficulties and my complaints. He is the reason I’m not homeless.
-I am grateful that I am able to spend a quiet holiday alone if I so choose without anyone hounding me about how I should be somewhere I don’t want to be.
-I am grateful that I no longer need to ignore elephants in the room, just to keep the peace.
-I am grateful that I am no longer feeling the push to have superficial. meaningless relationships, with the people I was meant to be free to be vulnerable and authentic around.

So to be clear, I am not grateful that I no longer have a family, but I am grateful that I am free from the role of family scapegoat and doormat. I am grateful that I am not being told how selfish and sensitive I am.  I do wish it could be different but if it’s between being ambushed and bullied or having peace, I choose peace.  And I am grateful for some semblance of peace.

Happy (bittersweet) Thanksgiving.

This one was taken the same day as the one above, Thanksgiving 2006 (BC: before consciousness). It was such a dark day, which depicts what the holidays have felt like for me in the last few years.

 

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I Made Myself Dinner

dsc02535I’m not feeling too sorry for myself. I’m feeling good enough to get my butt to the kitchen and cook myself some tasty food.

I’d already pre-cooked everything with the plan to have chicken and rice tonight for my solo Christmas dinner date.

A couple days ago, I used my crock pot to cook some chicken thighs. So easy. Thighs in the crock and season as you please. Cook on low for a couple hours and then crank it up to high. Moving it up to high makes the chicken way more moist than if you leave it on low.

I found this out by accident one night when I needed the chicken to cook faster.

I also made some steamed white rice as well as some broccolli.

So all I had to do tonight, after I took everything out of the fridge and shredded the chicken, was throw it all together in a pan (along with the gelatinous broth the chicken made) and heat it all up.

I had a little Kim-chi and some stuffed green olives too. I’m officially addicted to Kim-chi now.

And I also mixed together a little bar-b-que sauce and some (homemade) mayo to use as a sauce for my chicken and rice dish.

In the past, when I’ve stayed home alone on holidays (including Thanksgiving) I’ve had little energy and felt too sorry for myself to cook or prepare myself anything.

So when Mr. B would get home with no left overs for me, I’d feel angry and resentful.

Ugh, so narcissistic of me. But tonight I decided to take care of myself and have something really yummy and fairly healthy.

The chicken came straight from the farmer too by the way.

Sorry, no picture of tonight’s fare. The pic above is from another time I cooked chicken thighs with mushrooms.  Mr. B took the camera today and I don’t have a phone that takes pics.

As my father might have said, “Dems da breaks.”

A Slap in the Face

In meditation this morning, I remembered something difficult.

It was a relatively recent Christmas (within the last ten years) my family and my sister’s husband’s family were celebrating Christmas at my sister’s house.

My father and I had been talking, and something came up for me in my mind during the conversation. It was something I felt and still feel great shame about. Guilt too.

I wanted to tell him. I wanted him to help me let go of it.

As I began, he interrupted me.

Instead, he made his confession. He told me that when I was about three years old, I had done something that he watched me do from the window. (Sorry not gonna reveal it. It’s too embarrassing.) And afterward he called me inside and asked me if I’d done what he saw me do.

I told him no.

(Even at that age I knew his wrath and that telling him I did something I figured out he’d perceive as bad, would get me in a lot of trouble.) : This is my own commentary. My father did not say this.

Continuing, my father told me that he’d hauled off and smacked me hard in the face, when at the age of three I lied to him.

He was telling me this, he said, because he was feeling so bad about it.

Somehow we ended up in the living room after having started the conversation in the kitchen.I was crying. What I’d wanted to say, forgotten. A new memory now in my head, that I had not remembered and still don’t.

Now I carry it in confusion, knowing it happened, but not truly remembering it. Frustrated with my father’s need to dump on me this information, this memory, of such violent abuse he committed on me.

And as I sat there, on the arm of a chair in my sister’s living room, tears streaming down my face, she walked by and glanced down at me.  Our eyes met. I felt shame for the possibility she’d think I’m ruining Christmas with my emotion.

My sister kept walking.

No Santa, No Stocking

5-christmas-stockings

When I was a child, hell up through a lot of my adulthood… (because I lived at home up until…let’s just say an abnormal age)…one of my parents would sneak in my bedroom to leave the full Christmas stocking on my bureau. OK, so once I reached a certain age, they’d leave it hung at the fire place.

I remember even being awake in the wee hours that this happened one year. I was still a kid who was too excited to sleep.  But I pretended to be asleep when my bedroom door opened, so as not to spoil the ritual.

The stocking was to give me/us (my siblings too) something to enjoy and distract us from waking my parents up too early.

My parents would be up most of the night on Christmas Eve, finishing up for the next day. What took them all night, I’m not sure. It was certainly different each year and as we grew, I don’t think their nights were as long the years before. A lot less to assemble and my mother had more time to wrap things as we became more independent.

The stockings could only provide so much entertainment when three kids were anticipating all the fun stuff that would be under the tree, downstairs in the living room. All those pretty wrapped presents just waiting to be torn open.

I went to bed last night remembering the stocking ritual…every. single. year. Never a glitch. My parents were quite predictable in this and it was one of the many things that made Christmas so much fun in our household.

How they slept through our talking and squealing with excitement those Christmas mornings, I’ll never know.

I was feeling sad last night, thinking about how I would not wake up with an overfull stocking in my bedroom and thinking of it now,  my heart hurts, that there is no Santa any longer to leave that stocking for me.

A Chaotic Christmas Past

3-kids-and-christmas

On this rainy, wet and gloomy Christmas Eve day, I feel quite bleak myself.

As I meditated this morning, my thoughts were all over the place. Finally they stumbled onto a memory of a Christmas past and stayed there.

I’m not clear on the age I was, but I would guess nine years old. And so that would make my sister three. This would make sense because any younger, my sister would not really be independent enough to sneak down the steps by herself.

Every Christmas, as the rest of us waited in anticipation at the top of the steps, my father would go down to the living room to set up a tape recorder at the back of the Christmas tree. He wanted to capture all the happy conversation, shouts for joy and other excitement.

Years later, in my father’s home office, I remember coming upon both reel-to-reels and cassettes, that resulted from everything he’d ever recorded, including all those past Christmases.

I would’ve listened to them all, but settled for the cassettes since there was no longer a way to listen to the reel-to-reels.

As I listened, I remember coming upon one Christmas recording in particular. One in which my mother was clearly in distress. I could not make out what she was saying, but she was upset with my sister.  At the time of listening to the tape, either my mother was present and explained to me or I’d asked her about it later.

She’d been angry, upset and distressed about my sister having sneaked downstairs by herself and having found all the pretty wrapped presents under the tree, dove in and incidentally, opened all (or most) of my presents.

I don’t have a memory of this, it’s only there because of the audio tape and the clarity my mother gave to it when I asked her about it.

As I listened though, I could hear the pain in my mother’s voice and my heart went out to her. At the time, I thought it was kind of funny too, that my sister had done that, and a bit envious too, as I would not have been so brave to do something like that.

For me, it was quite clear that you don’t go downstairs until dad says it’s OK. But who knows if that was so when I was three. I think it probably was though, given other things I’m aware of and an early developed fear of my father’s wrath. But my situation was different. I was an only child until a few weeks after turning three. So with an infant for a brother, there would not have been many other presents besides my own to rip open. My parents always exchanged Christmas Eve so they could have their attention on me or us kids while we opened our gifts.

Once I was aware of what had happened that Christmas morning, either as I listened, or thought back to what I heard, I began feeling sorry for my mother because her’s was the only voice on the audio making any noise of the injustice.

I could see in my own mind, what would’ve been going on. Where the tree was, where the presents had been placed, the wrapping paper strewn all over the living room, the train set in the foyer, forgotten for the time being.

My father apparently didn’t have much of a reaction, as I don’t remember his voice showing up aside my mother’s distressful one, seemingly close to tears.

I can only imagine now, her frustration in being the only one who felt this way. My father did not seem to be supporting her from what I could make out, not saying much of anything. (But my memory of what was on the tape now is blurred as well.)

Her tone of voice clearly demonstrated frustration, like she wanted to make it not have happened.  But she couldn’t and I also think she felt as though her hands were tied because it didn’t seem to be appropriate (to her) to punish my sister on Christmas morning. And maybe there was guilt too. (?) No presents for her oldest to open.

Upon further listening to the tape, I could hear my sister’s voice each time she’d rip open a package, squeal with excitement and then exclaim, “Daddy, daddy, look daddy…”and then announce to him the treasure she’d found in the beautifully wrapped box.

Should she have been enjoying herself so immensely after what she’d done? Not that she’d know better at three though right? But what would be an appropriate line of action for my parents to have taken? Perhaps that was another piece of my mother’s distress and deep frustration.

Thinking of this today…this morning…I want to cry. But not because I feel that I was slighted that Christmas. I don’t really remember it and I don’t remember my reaction. Surely there was something for me to open. But again, the memory is not clear.

I was almost never angry at my sister when we were kids. She could do no wrong in my mind, and I in fact gave her toys out of my brother’s hands at times when he didn’t want to share or when he’d had something first.

I no doubt participated in her growing feelings of entitlement, although I certainly wasn’t thinking about that or aware of it at nine years old.

I do feel sad for myself. I wonder if my father would’ve been so calm about it, if I’d done the same thing and opened someone else’s presents. I tend to think not.

I feel most sad for my mother though, because no one was there to validate her feelings, something I have a feeling she lived with most of her life.

And it is just another incident that chiseled away at the emotional health of the family as a unit.

Merry fuckin’ Christmas.

Beware the Elephants in Rooms and Spending Christmas Alone

wildlights_elephantsculpture_ryanarcher-saintlouiszoo_webIt’s the most elephant time of the year.

Go ahead. Sing it to the tune of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

It’s not my best attempt at being like Al Yankovich but “It’s the most elephant in the room time of year” didn’t quite work.

The partially made up lyric went through my head while I was sitting in a line of traffic waiting for a red light to change. It made me laugh when it came out of my mouth.

And then I thought of the last Christmas I spent with my family. The elephant present that year was huge. (Present=here… or there really. Not, present=gift.)

While out today, I decided to listen to a few Christmas songs on the radio. I did it to feel the sadness.

I need to cry so much but I am cold and numb right now. The anger has hardened into stone and it’s difficult to break through it.

One stop I made after the outdoor farmers’ market, where there was no music, was the grocery store, where there was nothing but Christmas tunes.

I could feel the tears wanting to come, a small lump in my throat, the sadness in my heart. Among the many people shopping around me, I felt so lonely.

I looked through the shelves of baked goods that are a few feet from the entrance because the Christmas cookies that Mr. B picked up for me there last night, quite frankly suck.

I decided on a raspberry pastry that reminded me of the pastries my mom used to get for Christmas morning while we opened our presents. They were from a real bakery in our town. She’d get a variety of all the same flavors I saw at the store today. Apple, cheese, raspberry. Cheese was always my favorite and I may go back and get that one before Christmas.

I want the reminders this year. I want to walk right into the pain and stop turning away from it. I want to sit down right in the middle of a deep puddle of pain and feel every bit of it as I remember the good and the bad.

I will be alone on Christmas day. It is by choice (in a way). If you’ve read other posts here, you know I am not in contact with my family and have not spent Christmas with them in the last few years.

My mother has sent emails each year to ask if I want to see her while she is in town. She’s retired now and lives out of state. I have not heard from her yet this year. I am not sure if I blocked her email or not. If I did I won’t know if she attempts contact or not. Unless of course she sends a Christmas card. Which I’m considering shredding and not opening. The last card she sent for my birthday caused me a major melt-down I’d rather not relive.

Edit Friday 10/27/17: Her email isn’t blocked. She sent an email a few months ago to see if my email was still the same. She wanted to know so that she could keep me in the loop as far as her will is concerned, even though she “isn’t planning on dying anytime soon.” 

I wonder if she even kept me in it at this point. I did email her back to just simply say that “Yes, this is still my email.” I did not receive a birthday card from her this year though and it is the first year for that. So my thought goes to the possibility that she will take me out of her will. Not that she’s rich and the inheritance itself is not the point. The point is that taking me out of her will means she no longer considers me her daughter, or important enough to think about in such a way to leave me with something from her. 

My sister sent a Christmas card/picture of her kids last year…the first one in three years, along with an invitation to her annual open house Christmas party.

Edit 10/27/17: And my sister sent another the year I wrote this.

I don’t respond to my mother and I didn’t respond to my sister.

But it was nice to see a picture of my nephews and how they are growing.

I am invited to Mr. B’s family Christmas, but I turned it down because of the drive. His sister and her husband have it at their house, which is more than an hour away.

Last year there was so much traffic it took us two hours to get there and the drive home was just as long.

I suggested going up the day before to avoid that traffic to spend the night if his sister is OK with that. They have a big house with lots of property. It’s also a town with lots of cool things to do. I’m sure there’s a place to go see some awesome Christmas lights up there.

But then I realized we’d have to drive home Christmas night anyway and I have a tough time driving at night just locally, let alone that distance.

Why doesn’t Mr. B drive you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t, but I’ll tell you anyway.)
He makes me nervous when I’m in the car as a passenger with him. Tbh, he’s not a very good driver.  In addition, he has a Jeep Wrangler and I can’t stand all the bouncing around. It’s a very uncomfortable ride for a passenger and the head rests are like bricks. If he hits a bump or a pot hole, the passenger bounces around without much control and I’ve hit that brick too many times to want to be anywhere near that Jeep anymore.

Another option would be to stay until the day after Christmas. But we have a cat who will fill up his litter box the first day and possibly stop using it to opt for another spot in the apartment.

Yeah, No thanks.

I might consider asking our landlord to feed him, but I don’t feel comfortable asking her to scoop the litter. So that’s a no go.

Edit 10/27/17: With the reality of who the landlord is now, there is no way I’d actually ask her to come up here while we are not here. I can’t stand that nasty narcissist gas-lighter bitch.

So I’ll be alone for Christmas.

I’ve been alone before on Christmas… a couple times now.  Last year was the first year I spent with Mr. B’s family…for Christmas. Before that I was alone Christmas of 2013 and 2014.

I would like to listen to some Christmas songs on Christmas day, while I’m sitting here, in the silence of the apartment, all alone, to see if I can get the water works going.

Damaged and Depressed

I feel like I’m still recovering from Thanksgiving today. (Saturday.)

I felt worse yesterday. (Friday.)

And I didn’t touch a single drop of alcohol on Thanksgiving. (Thursday.)

It goes much deeper than that.

Going from one toxic situation (affair) and the ugly break up of it with just a year in between, to another toxic, gang-bullying and abusive situation, has made me severely traumatized that I have not been able to crawl my way out.

And so it’s gotten to the point that I feel like this every. single. day.  I feel like I’ve already died. Essentially I have. Essentially I am dead…or might as well be.

In addition and in the midst of depression and the lack of recovering from so much trauma, we have moved recently, from a house we lived in for 13 years to a two bedroom apartment.

This, as you can imagine was a lot of work. Living with a man who has a difficult time parting with things made it no less stressful. His sister was our landlord and has still not sold the house, so the two car garage still has shit in it that Mr. B has to figure out what to do with.

Much of it has been taken by other family members and he has taken what we have room for here. Our storage area has reduced significantly though as you might imagine.

To add to the stress, about a month after moving in, we discovered an infestation of fleas in the new place. I am pretty sure they were here before we were from the information I’ve read about those evil fucks, but there’s no way to prove it.

Edit Monday 10/9/17: I think now that I may have been wrong in thinking the fleas were here already. Our cat was an indoor/outdoor cat who was, I found, already pretty itchy when we moved. Fleas are apparently not as noticeable when living in a house (although I do remember dealing with them a couple times at the house) as they are in an apartment. The fact that the effected animal was able to go outside also gave the house some respite and so the infestation didn’t have as much of a chance to grow like it did here. Kitty wasn’t going outside (and still isn’t) so there was no where else for the family of fleas to go and grow.

Fighting fleas is a good example of chaos control, which has felt like the story of my life. We sprayed, powdered, vacuumed and dusted. I also packed up some of our shit and boxed it back up to make the dusting easier. So that is still all boxed up and down in the basement and garage as well, taking away from our storage area.

I no longer have a desk in our new place. It was broken in the move but in addition there is no place to put it here. So I spend my time sitting on my bed or in it, depending on the temperature of the room. So I’m even isolating from my roommate.

Edit 10/9/17: I have moved the small drop down wood desk that we had in the living room into my bedroom. The drop down part gives sufficient room for a laptop. It would not hold a lot of weight but it does the job I need it to do and also gets me out of sitting in my bed all day using the computer. I listed this desk on Craigslist a couple times too. So glad it didn’t sell.

Even if I wanted to sit in either the living room or dining room, I wouldn’t be comfortable doing so now because of all the powder and spray we used on the only half way comfortable piece of furniture out there…the sofa.

10/9/17: A year later, the couch is sittable as far as the powder being faded and vacuumed. But it’s not comfortable and although B uses it, in my mind, it’s simply something that takes up space. I have never had a good and comfy couch of my own. So pathetic.

The self-isolating has also become worse now because the dog I had walked for someone, passed away a couple weeks ago, so I don’t even go out once a week for that anymore.

Under all this stress for the last seven, almost eight years, I have not taken care of myself at all, using junk food, alcohol, pot and cigarettes to numb the pain. All of that also certainly has added to the physical damage.

I have aged significantly in a short amount of time. As someone who has looked younger than her chronological age, this has also taken a toll on my self-confidence as well. I know 51 ain’t no spring chicken and in all honesty I do have a tough time accepting the aging process, but I look and feel much older than those 51 years.

Anyway, although the junk food doesn’t give me the same intensity of a hangover as alcohol does, I still feel something similar to one nonetheless.

Carbs, I am finding put me in a state of lethargy and depression. I couldn’t believe how knocked out I felt on Thursday night when I got home. And although I’m sure it had something to do with being surrounded by other humans…which I am no longer acclimated to…it was mostly all the carbs I ate that night, I’m sure of it, given my self-observation of late.

I find that when I eat close to a keto plan, I do much better. I start to lose weight, depression begins to lift and I have some energy.

But then I break down and eat something sweet and I’m not talking about just some fruit. Nope, I’m all about the cookies, brownies, cake, you know, shit like that.

This is not a problem perhaps for someone who can control themselves, be somewhat indifferent and not eat a whole fucking box of cookies in one sitting. But that’s not me.

I know what the problem is:

I don’t feel good enough. I don’t feel worthy of being healthy. And until I do, this self-sabotage won’t stop.

10/9/17: Sad, not much has changed in almost a year. I am truly stuck and today I’m feeling depressed and rather bored. It took a lot for me to just get to this task of editing here. I have been drinking coffee, which is not a good thing for me. I did follow a keto way of eating for a few weeks and the heart palpitations where un fucking real. And I was not drinking coffee during that time. 

I went back to eating carbs but kept it on the healthier side for a while, like eating salads and quinoa with veggies along with some beef or chicken. But I gradually went to eating junk again and got caught up in that cycle of wanting to be excited by my food. Used food as something to look forward to as I do not have anything I look forward to in life. And I got caught up in that cycle because once I start eating junk, that’s when I get lethargic and have no energy to prep good healthy food. Today I bought some stuff on the healthy side. Let’s see if I eat it.