Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I love my new life and my new home.  This building is great, with only a couple of issues.  Neighbors.  I was used to living in a little house.  On its own little piece of property.  With neighbors who could do whatever they liked in their own space and no one would ever know.  With really great insulation, tight windows and doors and a fabulous, energy-efficient heating system.

Now I get to live intimately with the goings-on of other people.  Not exactly strangers, but, well, you know.  So far none of them seem to be drug dealers, petty thieves.  As much as I can tell, there is not a meth lab within blocks.  So, except for the teenagers in the back flat who need to play guitar at midnight and who paint sprayed their bookcases and covered my car with white overspray, my neighbors are just fine, thank you very much.  Seriously, I am so grateful.

The exterior and interior spaces here are nice, although I lost some housekeeping ground during the long period that I have been ill.  I digress, but today, after feeling fairly normal for a few days, my throat is ragged again, I am sneezing like crazy and I am in serious need of a nap.  Perhaps tomorrow.

So, anyway, the place has been restored nicely, but the supposedly energy-saving windows leak like crazy.  I have not been able to find any tape that will not adversely affect the painted...and quite lovely...window frames, so I have plastic bags stuffed in between the indoor sashes and the outside glass panels.

I have put as much weatherstripping around the door as possible and still allow it to actually close.  Where I cannot do that, you can see daylight along the edges.  Towels are carefully held in place whilst I close the door without pinching any flesh in the process.  Next, I place a very large cardboard box that some of my shelving came in straight up against the door, with a box of printer paper to hold it close.  I bought some plastic, but, again, cannot find tape to hold it in place.  I had thought that I would hang this heavy plastic from the top of the door frame and push a bench against it, but that is not working out at all.

I have been anticipating my heating bill.  Trepidation.  Fear.  Loathing.  Apprehension.  More fear.  Mostly because it has been so freakishly cold and I have had to raise the thermostat from 55F to 58F, with several memorable days of thirty degrees below zero, when I had to crank that baby up to 60F.

It came today, that bill.  Those 3 to 5 degrees, for only half of the previous thirty days tripled that damn bill.

Tripled.  Three times what it was. 

I turned the temp down to 55F when the outside temps were above zero a few days ago.  Clearly, raising the heat level was a mistake, but we were so freaking cold all the time.  I was worried about CoolCat, especially when I had to be out of the house and was not able to have him near me, both of us covered with blankets.

No matter what happens weather-temperature-wise, that thermostat is staying right where it is.  Damn.

I did get a small space heater for the bathroom.  That tiny room is on an outside wall, underneath the stairway to the upstairs flat.  No insulation and no heating vent.  There was one day when I could see my breath in there. 

Anyway, I have stopped unpacking my stuff, because if next month's heating bill is high like this current one, I am going to have to look for another place to live.  I can only imagine what the bill would be if I used any lights.  Suddenly, never turning on any lights has turned out to be equal parts stupefying fear and frugality.

I am trying so hard to stop swearing all the time, particularly in print.  Fortunately, no one else can hear the nearly constant stream of profanity in my head.  Small favors.


Today was my last day at my state gig.  Last week I gave notice.  It probably should have been two weeks, but another week seemed like just about as much as I could take and not keep feeling terrible about myself and my failure there.

I thought that she would call and cancel my clients for today, but that did not happen, although when my phone rang in the car on the way over there, it was a number I did not recognize, thought it might be her and did not pull over to answer.

Turns out that she never got the message I left for her.  When I told her that today was my last day working for her she asked if I was O.K., in reference, I guess, to how ill I have been and it really touched my saggy little heart.  I said that I was fine and was going to ask if we could talk in her office, she went right back into the stuff she chided me for last week.  Even then it was funny.  My last day was a complete surprise to her.  She took it well, though.  I mean, it is not like I am leaving them in a lurch or anything.  They take/make appointments for me only a week ahead.

So, as she stood there, patiently waiting for my to reply, I again went through all of the process and that my ultimate goal (should I have such a thing in the first place, said safely in my head, by the way) was to allow my clients the opportunity to have their documents exactly as they wish, as long as what they want will not be of any detriment to them.

She then shared that she agreed with me, but that her preference was that her clients do things her way because employers like her way, and something (I lost the narrative for a moment there) about how she is accountable to them, the employers.  All the employers?  Everywhere?  Anyone specific? 

You know, in a way, from her perspective, as a state agency, she is most likely and absolutely correct.  She does have what is likely a whole mess of dunderheads in the capital somewhere who have nothing better to do with their time than mess with the good-to-excellent work being done by the minions in the towns, cities and villages.  At the bookstore we used to say that the weekly and totally wonkified changes that came down with insane regularity were created by a room full of chimps.  That always made me feel guilty about the comparison because chimps would never do anything that ridiculous. 

Even though it is much belated, chimps, please accept my apologies.

Back to the day.  I do, finally, get what she is about.  We talked more, I did not mention any of the times when she yelled at me or anything.  She believes that she is doing the best job she can under constraints that I can only imagine.  Actually, having worked for government agencies, I have an excellent idea of what she has to go through on a regular basis.  So, I just let it go, knowing that quitting was the best thing I could have done and if I cannot manage to do things...or not do things...that are in my own best interest, then I am doomed.  Stuck.  Somewhere.  Caught in the thrall of the past.  I will not have it.  So, there.

Two more interesting things.

There was a new volunteer in the department.  She comes from the senior training program and today was her first day.  She is really nice, interesting and interested in what she will be doing there, which will be to answer phones and add people to the lists for the computers.  She was doing a nice job, very competent and busy, and still she was instructed on how things are done and the standards and how "I do not allow games," which I guess is a reference to her rules.  Truly, I am just guessing about this, but it must be what she meant.  Yes?

The other, significantly more weird thing is that she was upset that I was leaving.  And, I get that as well.  She is doing what she believes she needs to do and has no problem with any of it.  Factor in that it is probably also personality driven.  If it works, then it works.  Since it does not work for me, my time is better spent elsewhere. 

Anyway, she was not happy.  She kept asking me why I was leaving and telling me that I was welcome back whenever I liked.  How much she was going to miss me and that she wished she had known that it was my last day as she would have had a present for me.  She told me that she was looking forward to having me back for the summer youth programs.  Like that.  And, she wanted me to make certain that I talked to her before I left.

I did.  One more weird thing is that we are as good and tight as friends as we ever were, something we could not have had is I had staying in that job.

I think that it went as well as it did because I was prepared.  I told my director at my other gov gig yesterday that I was quitting the state one.  Her advice was that I share why I was leaving.  I do not do confrontation and said so.  She told me that there was a chance that my supervisor at the state gig might not know how she comes across, and even if she did know, at least I would have shared that.  I said that I would think about what I wanted to say, and she told me that I should let her know if I wanted to practice, role play.

I think it was that conversation yesterday morning that helped me define this for me.  I helped me to think about why I am doing this and how I was going to handle that last day.  Today.

This is huge.  I mean, like really huge, significant and important to making it possible for me to keep making progress in my life.  This whole thing, the quitting, the waiting for today, my conversations with my supervisor and how successful today was. 

Monday, January 21, 2013


I am an emotional eater.  I never thought that I was, all those years of obesity.  The flesh piled on and I attributed it to so many things.  Love of good food.  Being a great cook.  Being frugal, not wasting.  Being a good friend.  All that crap.  I have always known that I am fat not because I have some kind of hormonal imbalance or some other stupid excuse, but because I just eat too much.

With all of the stuff from before, one thing there was, was an abundance is food.  I was, probably still am, a truly excellent and inspired cook.  It was something that I could do, mostly without any complaints or bad consequences.  It was the only thing that I did that did not bring abuse.  It pains me to finally realize that and admit it, because it is such a lame thing to have in my life that helped me avoid being hurt and I never, ever realized. 

I wonder what would have happened differently, what things I might have done or not done or thought if that had been part of my consciousness.  Would it have been something I could have exploited in order to be safer?  Would I have found a way to barter special dishes or meals for less harmful treatment?  Would it have sparked some kind of pointless and ineffective hope for something better?  I wonder if I did some of that without even knowing I was doing so.  I try to think back, to remember when some dinner or breakfast was particularly good and things were better for a while, but I have no memories of anything like that. 

There is a television commercial of recent memory for one of the weight loss plans.  It stars a woman who immigrated here from Russia and shares that she was unaccustomed to the large portions of food here and that she ate it all because it was so delicious.  It is supposed to be lighthearted, and she is significantly less weighty than she was before participating in that plan. 

However, it is weighty in so many other ways.  What it says to me is that I live in one of the richest places on the whole damn planet and I have hunger issues concerning food.  Good freaking grief.  What an atrocious, selfish, indulged cry-baby I am.

And, still hunger, for me, takes many forms and it is not just about food.  I hungered for someone to love me.  I got that, someone who declared that I was loved and cherished and that our life together would be wonderful and that he would always take care of me.  Well, in his mind that is exactly what he did.  Even now he rages against my betrayal of him, my leaving and sharing with anyone what our life was like, because from his perspective he was a great husband doing only what great husbands do.  There is not any awareness except how much of a failure I am.

I still hunger for acceptance by someone who might love me.  I am not interested in any kind of relationship, but it is a nice, although foolish and immature fantasy that someone might have loved me like that.  I used to do that, fantasize, at night before I went to sleep, that some faceless, nameless person was desperate to love me and take care of me.   When you get right down to it, that is all any of us want.  Someone totally unrelated to us who sees to our core and likes what is seen there, cherishes it and us.

I know that I eat to fill the empty space that should be filled with love.  And, I am not even counting the spaces where pain and horror reside.  Time will lessen the impact those things have had on my life, but those spaces will always be filled with the past.  And, really, that is as it should be. 

I do not exist in a vacuum and neither do any of my experiences.  Everything has come to create the person that I am now. 

Given the opportunity to magically go back in time, to change things, to reorder the phases of my life, to try to affect a different life is not something I would consider, much less choose.  I like who I am.  There is not any randomness in the Universe and it all means something, it is essential to the life I was supposed to have.  Much of it is certainly not my preference, something most of us could say about some aspect of our lives, I guess.  I guess a lot of things lately.  Just guessing, trying to make sense of some of it.

As for choosing, this past year or so, well, I would not change any of it, especially the managing to not get killed part.  Yeah, most especially that part.

More importantly, it has given me experiences to complement the ideas, thoughts and skills I need in continuing to do my work.  Everything has brought me to do this work.  I am good at it, like really good.  But, as wonderful as it is, it does not fill me and I continue to have days like today when there simply is not enough food on the planet to soothe my hunger, a desperate and bottomless void that cannot be filled.  Not by food, not by another person, maybe only by time. 

Or, perhaps that is one space that will stay the same.  Scarred over, this little pocket of sorrow that, oh, I do not know, maybe it serves to remind me how far I have come and that no experience is ever truly wasted.  Even if I never figure out the purpose, it has value.  It just has to have.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


About what I might want to do with this new life of mine.  Quitting my gig with the state was the first positive change I have made for a very long time.  A long time really quite filled with little steps, little new choices, heck, filled, finally, with choices as an actual option.  I mean, how major that is, something I can hardly wrap my mind around.

My therapist says that she believes one of the reasons I was able to leave that day is because I never gave up.  Sure, I never gave up, lost faith or compromised in my marriage, but she means something different.

I was able to make small forays into the outer world from time to time.  The consequences were not pleasant at home, but they were mostly worth it.  I volunteered wherever I could because volunteering was something that he could not fault me about and it helped to keep the secrets if it did not look like I was housebound.  So, the stuff I did at our daughter's school, at the church she and I attended and for the extended community meals program were acceptable, as long as everything at home did not change.  When she wanted to attend a private high school I had to work to provide that.  Otherwise, I was not permitted to work at a job.  There is so much more to all of this, but the point is that I now make choices that are not dependent on the mood or orders of someone else.  They do not come with penalties or retribution.  They are not logged in some demented score book in the head of someone else.  They are not made with fear, well, at least not more than the usual, the normal fears that any normal person would have when making normal choices.

Last week was a huge step forward for me and the truth is that it I am feeling a little shaky about it now.  I left a message for the department head because I knew that if I waited for her to return from lunch, or if I had returned later in the day, that my resolve would drift away like so many times before when I knew that I needed to do something and was too cowardly to do anything proactive for myself.  Our daughter was, still is I guess, learning disabled.  I fought every step of the way to find and provide the resources she needed.  Today she is on the cusp of graduating with a degree in the medical field.  Yay us.  Give me a person who is suffering and I will be exactly the champion that person needs.  I was not able to do that for myself.

The past ten months have been one step forward, one step backward, one step too scary to take and so much more.  Still managed to make it here, though.  This is so tough.  Being responsible for myself, making all of these freaking decisions, keeping it all together.  I thought that as time went on that everything would be easier, and most of it has, but I keep hitting these stupid barriers that take me back in time, to when I would have given anything to be able to do what I needed to do and could not.

I mean, this is insane.  I do not expect to recover from decades of crap in less than a year.  Pretty much do not hold that expectation.  Oh, lordy.  So much progress and still so far to go.  I am standing higher now, both metaphorically and physically because it seems as though I am actually taller now.  I know this because when I saw my doctor last month I was weighed (oh, the horror of that experience should be outlawed) and my height taken.  Something about keeping good records or some crappy reason.  So, apparently I am standing nearly an inch taller.  Life is so weird.

I am eager for new stuff, new experiences, new people.  All of that.  I wonder how I can want and not want so much at the same time.  I was thinking about making a list...I am a huge fan of lists, being old and all...of my fears, and then working on that.  Maybe I will do that, but for now that seems like a seriously bad idea.

on quitting

Last week informed me in so many ways.  The Quitting was one of them.

And, nothing says progress, forward movement like doing something extraordinary.  Something that is not part of my normal process.  Quitting is one of those things.

I have quit in the past.  I left a church community.  I quit a previous job, but I called it a retirement.  I had worked in animal rescue for twenty-eight years, the business was changing into something more political than it had previously had been.  I have quit friends, processed them right out of my life.  Life changes, and if I do not move along then I get left behind. 

So, I am not entirely without experience about leaving something.  There are surprisingly few instances of quitting in a very long life, but I have always sort of prided myself on not being a quitter.  I even made it a joking comment for the big quit that I did last year.  Gosh, even saying that it was last year just knocks me right out of my socks.  It has been ten months since I fled my home and my marriage.  Man. 

Anyway, during a therapy session, my therapist asked me something about why I thought I had stayed so long and I answered back "Well, at least I am not a quitter."  I meant it to be light-hearted, amusing, but it was only much later that I came to understand that it struck a chord at the core of who I think myself to be.

I am truly not a quitter.  I am a staunch family member.  A faithful friend.  Good neighbor.  I stick with and complete tough projects, even when they include difficult people (might have to number myself amongst that group on occasion) and resistant circumstances or situations.  Lots of that kind of stuff.  I do not bail when the going gets tough.  I am one of the 'tough' that then really gets going.  So, the circumstances have to be pretty extraordinary for me to quit, bail, leave.

When the second most important aspect of my life became too dangerous in which to continue (the first is being a parent), I left my marriage.  I left with the clothes on my back and a hastily assembled trash bag of a few pair of underwear, two pair of pants, my makeup bag and three rolls of tape.  I grabbed the undies and pants and swept the makeup off of the closet shelf with my arm, so I am guessing that the tape was collateral sweeping.  Some of that tape actually came in handy later.

I left in one of my husband's cars.  I am sure that the only reason I was able to leave is that doing so was something I had never done before, leaving that is.  I had never even mentioned it, much less threatened or suggested that it was a possibility.  My ex's belief that I would never leave is the only thing that prevented him from stopping or following me.  Even later in the day, he would leave angry, impatient messages on the cell phone he let me use, messages that gradually became less scary and more certain that I was most likely on my way home anyway, but my being gone was inconvenient for him. 

However, that is a quitting for which I never had a second thought.  I knew as soon as I backed out of the doorway, and continued to the car, that I had made a good decision, probably the best decision of my life.  So ironic the language needed to express all of this.  Best decision.  My life.  Amazing.

So, quitting that gig last week felt right in the most strict sense.  It was the right thing to do.  Probably should have been done earlier, but I am trusting, these days, that I am making choices, decisions and determinations in the time appropriate for them.  All things in their time.

In concert with that, a dear friend shared a quote with me.

“Quitting is not giving up, it's choosing to focus your attention on something more important. Quitting is not losing confidence, it's realizing that there are more valuable ways you can spend your time. Quitting is not making excuses, it's learning to be more productive, efficient and effective instead. Quitting is letting go of things (or people) that are sucking the life out of you so you can do more things that will bring you strength.”
― Osayi Osar-Emokpae, Impossible Is Stupid

I think I have to find out who this person is, more about him/her.  An excellent task to prevent me from doing anything more constructive around here.  You know, it is the right thing to do.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I quit one of my jobs today.  Next week is my last time there.

This is a gig at a state agency, where I do pretty much the same thing I do at the other places, but in line with the exact process they have for doing this stuff.  It is still all employment related and I do not do much of the social service work there, but the way it works is significantly different from what I do elsewhere.  It just is.

And, I am happy to do whatever and however they want things done.  Frankly, it is that kind of other-side-of-the-brain stuff.  Like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand or taking a different way home from work or making yourself eat sausage right after someone tells you what it is made of.

Like that.

The person who is in charge is the person who had been practically begging me to come there and work with them.  We met at a whole bunch of city sponsored employment and youth events.  I liked her right off.  Every time we would see each other she would mention that she wanted me to come and work with her.  After I left home and started this new life it was possible, and so I did, about, what, six months ago, or something.  I learned their method and, and I can truthfully share that I am good at it. 

The only problem is that she is difficult to work with.  Like, really difficult. 

I spent a lot of time training to get with their program and, like I said, I am good at it.  She is snarly, and not in a good way.  She snarks at the people who work there, even though, to my mind, they are already doing a fabulous job.  I do not see her much when I am working, being off in my own section, so it is always surprising when she has something mean to say to me.

Seriously, I do whatever she wants, how she wants it and it is never enough. 

There have been several incidents when I wanted to quit.  I did not because I am not a quitter.  I stick with whatever is happening.  Not always to my benefit, but it is what I do.  So, I did not quit.  I stayed and tried to keep out of her way. 

Today, she berated me in front of a client about his choice of paper, how many copies I wanted for him (the usual amount that we give to everyone) and criticized one of the things he wanted on his document.

She and I have had conversation about this.  The bottom line is that if a client wants something a certain way, that we offer what we feel are better choices, but the client is the decider.  Even if we think something a little different might be in his/her best interest.  That is how they do it and I am happy to comply.  And, I am happy because the focus of the work is to do what the client wants as long it does not compromise her/his ability to find work. 

The client was embarrassed and probably wondering why I was so half-assed about defending the work we did.  Well, I was stunned.  Like totally stupefied.  Stupefied or not, I let him down.  After he left, she again told me that I should not have put what the client wanted on his documents.  I replied that that I offered him several options on form and how to write things in the way that he/she wants his/her information presented.  And, on and on and on.  Then, some more.  Then, as I walked away I remembered that I had found a toll-free telephone number for her and turned back, just in time to hear her make a really mean comment about me to another employee.  They did not see me seeing them.

You know, the truth is that there are a million different ways to craft these documents.  Put a few dozen professionals in a room, give them the same client with the same information and the result will be documents that are similar, but vastly different in particulars.

Perhaps the worst part of this is that she talks to me in a condescending voice, huge smile on her face the entire time.  I am accustomed to dealing with this.  I figure if the regular employees can handle it, so can I.  They are there all the time; me, just one day a week.

No, I am wrong, the worst part is that she did this in the presence of a client.

I walked back to my area and closed my computer and gathered my stuff and when I passed through the larger room, I went to her office.  She was not there, so I asked another supervisor to please tell her that next week would be my last week.  He said fine, that he would and I left.

It was completely impulsive and as I walked to my car I knew it was, finally, the right thing to do because I felt fine, you know, like it was the right thing to do. 

And, I felt relief that I had only one more day to be there.  If she calls and tells me that they will cancel next week's clients, well, that will be fine as well.  I hope that she does not call, as I do not feel like discussing any of this.  That is me avoiding.  Too bad.  But, I would like her to cancel the appointments.  Lordy.

So, I am cool and groovy and everything is cool and groovy and I am feeling sad at just one more failure.  I am taking this personally.  I did not have to quit.  I could have stuck it out somehow and just avoided her as much as possible.  That seems too stressful.  It is also not supportive of me making a decision that is in my own best interest.  I can do that for my clients, fight for them, support and help them discover what they need, how they want to achieve it and, maybe, if we are lucky, access their heart's desire.  That magical thing has happened more times than I can count in the three and a half years that I have been doing this. 

I then go grocery shopping (mood altering, truth be told) and I am wondering why I am not feeling sad or something.  Then, after shopping and not buying the cake I wanted, choosing turkey wings instead...yes, I know, stupid decision, but it is too late now...I start home and on the radio they are talking about sports movies.  Movies about sports, like, oh gosh, Field of Dreams and like that.

The guest mentions Kevin Costner and that he has made a lot of movies about sports, mostly baseball, I guess.  That Kevin is good in these movies because he is so likable and believable.  The guest quotes one of the lines from a golf movie and it is one of those crystalline moments.  Perfect synchronicity.  Perfect words that express exactly what I am feeling about this whole work thing.  Perfect.  Like really perfect.

I repeated the line several times, but I had forgotten it by the time I got home.  So, I had to browse until I found it.  Second link.  Yay.

The line is: 

"That’s what the golf swings all about…it’s about gaining control of your life and lett’in go at the same time."

Seriously.  How perfect is that!

I did that today.  Yay me!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I felt fine after yesterday's slip and slide, or more properly, slip and thud.

My thighs hurt, as do my upper arms.  Really, who would have thought that there were muscles in there somewhere.  My neck feels wrenched.  My knees ache.  I am a mess.

I decided to make the best of this and have decided to really and truly get fit.  I am, at this point, willing to settle for even something remotely connected to fit.  I got the shoes, have access to a free Y membership, and if they will let me wear my regular clothing in the place, I am set to go.  Lordy.

Oh, god, choices. 

In the spirit of eating well, I was able to leave work early and came home to make something with the ground beef, that big log-shaped thing from the discount market.  I had a bag of poblano peppers.  I really prefer to just roast the peppers and eat them, but made a nice meat mix, filled the peppers and made a slab of meat loaf with the leftover meat.

Easy, too.  Ground beef, canned diced tomatoes (with the juice), a jar of jalapeno slices (all chopped up), a bunch of eggs, pepper and some grated sharp cheddar.  Oh, geez, a recipe!

Anyway, it turned out really yummy, and I have enough left for six more meals.  Yay.

Off to take my meds, some aspirin and some antihistamine. 

More of my good book and snuggles from CoolCat. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I have plenty of those, too many to count frankly.  Shortcoming could be my middle name, it is not, but it would be very descriptive of my many flaws. 

Today I discovered a new one. 

Living alone is nice.  I cannot even properly express how wonderful it is to live alone.  And, that was the problem today.

I live in the downtown area of my city, in an area of restored 19th century buildings.  Residences.  Mansions.  Historic District.  Many of the buildings are now divided into apartments or flats.  I live in one of them.

Some of the buildings are businesses of one kind or another.  Public service agencies,  shops and offices.   There are two flats/apartments in the old house in which I live.  There is an office on the north.  It is quiet, nicely remodeled, even though most of the equipment does not work well.  The place is drafty as a sieve, the pipes leak, stove works when it feels like it, but overall I like it here.  CoolCat does, too.

So, the quiet.  The person who lives in the other flat is gone for most of the day; she still works full time.  The rest of her time is spent, mostly, on bike riding.  She rides for distance and endurance.  Every weekend, most nights after work, all year long.  She is amazing and quite a decent roll-model for staying fit and engaged with, oh, I do not know, friends, fellow enthusiasts, community, the world.  It is inspiring and I admire her, and it helps to make up for her not being a good neighbor.  She is not headlines-horrible or anything, just seriously fussy and accustomed to being able to tell the other people who have lived here what to do.  She even pushes the landlord around.

Now, I really do not have any problems with her.  Truth is that when she was weird with me the first time it startled me and, unfortunately, triggered the kind of response I used to have when, well, back then.  It was almost immediately followed by a determination to get her to like me.  My guess is that we will never be close friends, but we are cordial and have had a few nice conversations.

So, more of the quiet.  Today I was leaving to go mentor at one of the schools and I noticed that there was a slight crumb of snow on the ground.  The driveway was fully covered and there were patches where it looked as if parts had melted and then had frozen in bits and spots. 

So, fully informed, I started back to my car and found myself on my side.  Black ice.  The bane of living and walking where it is often mid-day, sun shining, birds singing, but for nearly half the year it is bone-chillingly cold.  Freezing.  Something I appreciated for the fifteen minutes it took to try and stand and then crawl to the rain barrel and then finally crawl to the porch steps, hoist my fat ass up on the lowest step, catch my breath and pull myself back to standing.  Both knees and one hip could use replacing, and I make sure that I am well-footed, because when you factor in my fat ass and the rest of me, those poor joints really cannot get me upright, so I make every effort to stay that way.

The fall left me with sore knees, kind of wobbly after the crawling, aching hip and aware, for the first time of the single drawback, that shortcoming, of living here.  Well, anywhere actually.  It just made me realize what it means to have no one to notice if you go missing.  No one to notice if you lying on your side on the driveway.

It could have been worse.  I might have broken something besides my pride.  Well, not my pride because I have not had any for a very long time.  One of the things on which I am working is getting some.

I could have fallen at night, after my upstairs neighbor was home, the office on the other side of the driveway was closed, in the dark that is not relieved by even a near-by street lamp.  In the dark, in the cold and maybe so much ice that I would not have been able to crawl to the porch.  I have had a life of being alone, but this was different. 

However, I am fine.  I made it to school on time.  Got groceries. Came home.  Not going to the DV support group tonight.  Not willing to risk any more acrobatics.  If I got dressed right now I could still make it.  Sorry.  See you guys next week. 

The small thing that bothers me, though, is that I am so busy that I rarely think of myself as the elderly babe I am.  We all notice when the boys and I play and it cannot be on the floor.  I do not color my hair and I am mostly grey now, and you would think that when I stand before the mirror at least twice a day to brush my teeth and comb my hair and wash up that all that silvery stuff would be reminding me all the time.  My body is old, but I can do pretty much anything I long as it is not on the floor.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I am feeling better and this waiting is for a return to wanting to do anything.  Seriously, I would accept interest in any activity.  Even housecleaning.  My doctor says that I have been feeling ill for so long and have been so inactive that I have to push myself to do what I can when I can.  Excellent advice.  Rats.

Spring needs to come.  I am so cold.  This flat is so drafty that as soon as I find one place where frigid air is gusting through, several more come to my attention.  There is even a draft from the bricked-up fireplace.  There might not be enough plastic sheeting in my city to help with this.  I am keeping the temperature down, to 55F, in order to help equalize the indoor and outdoor temperatures, but it is damn cold in here.  If CoolCat shows any signs of being affected, well, then I will have to take action of some kind.  I wonder if the cold is contributing to my melancholy.  Laziness. 

My attorney tells me that she will have good news for me soon.  She has been telling me this for some time.  I suppose that it means that she is continually working on it.  This is not helping me.  If my ex has never had any qualms or hesitation about being in non-compliance of the court orders, has from the first hearing, continues to do so more than five months after the final decree, and has never suffered any legal consequences, then the chances are excellent that nothing is going to change.  All it does is mess with my head about how I struggle financially.  None of this is doing me any good, unless something turns into good news.  Whatever.  A side note is how comfortable I am, at my age, saying 'whatever'.  Lordy.

I guess that is it.  The other stuff for which I am waiting is either gross or stupid, most likely petty.  It is like I am waiting to grow up.  Truly, I do feel kind of immature, not connected or in control of so many things. 

Is life like this for everyone?  I really would not know, because having a normal life is new to me.  I struggle all the time with how I should act, what is appropriate for me to feel, although I think that feelings are just what they are.  Not much control there, only what I do with them.  Or, more properly, what I am not doing with my feelings. 

Doing well, generally, just all over the place today.  Hungry, but no energy for cooking.  Trying to avoid looking at the mess in my bedroom.  Want to take a nap, but making myself stay up and do something useful.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


First of all, I had no idea that there were basketball teams for five-year-olds.  I am that seriously out of touch with what interests and is available for young children.

Watching the first game in which my grandson played this morning was fun  The coaches are some of the fathers and young men from the high school..  His teammates all seemed to be having a good time, even though my baby and some of his friends were a little lost in the process.  They have had one fifteen minute practice, and it is going to take time for all of them to really enjoy it and build some skills. 

In the meantime, the coaches were wonderful to the kids who could not wait to boogie out on the court and the others who did not have a clue about what to do their first time playing and being in a huge gymnasium, loaded bleachers of parents and grandparents with cameras and all the noise, especially the horn or whatever it is that signals the ends...or maybe it is the beginnings...or something...of the play periods.  Or, something.

It is difficult to dribble or keep your eye on the ball when you have slammed your hands over your ears.  I almost had to do it myself.  Seriously.

I am tired.  I need to lose weight.  I need to be more fit.  I need to find my way back to good health or great health or even some less-crappy health, or some reasonable facsimile.  I might even want some of those things.  Not ready to make any decisions that will cause me any extra effort.  I have all of these needs, but all I want is to stay my lazy slacker, unmotivated self.  Well, maybe not so much the last one, as I do have motivation. 

I have a free membership to the YMCA.  Minor problem is that they will not let you wear your street clothes in the exercise rooms.  All I have is my regular stuff, so need to resolve that.  I have been checking for stuff at the charity shops, but because I am so fat, I cannot find anything even close to my side.  I guess that other fat women hold on to their clothing forever the same way I do.  Until something is pretty much in shreds, I keep wearing it. 

Another need.  I do have rubber-soled shoes that I do not wear out of the house...see?...I do have the heart to do this, just lacking the money to get clothes.  Maybe I could dedicate one of my old pair of pants (why is it a pair when it is one garment?  two legs?) to just exercising, shorten them a bit so that they do not look like regular clothes.  Use correction fluid to make a stripe down the outside seam? 

Allrighty.  I have been stressing about this, but there are easy solutions.  Rats.

As we were sitting there today, on the bleachers, I could not help thinking about ex-husband never attended any of our daughter's stuff.  Not music concerts, school programs, parent-teacher meetings and association, sporting practices and events.  Not even her graduation from high school where she was honored with awards and a scholarship.  Not a damn thing.  Nothing.

And, I could not help wondering if she might be thinking the same general thing.   Even when she had invited him to past events he could never be bothered to attend.  Interfered with his own stuff, even if that was only watching television.  O.K., that is mean to share that.  But, mean or not, it is the truth and it breaks my heart just as much now as it always did when she was little and all she wanted was a daddy that cared about her and wanted to spend time with her and just loved her.  All of my love and care and attention did not minimize any of that loss in the teeniest bit.  Even if I had been the most perfect parent in the Universe, which I most certainly was not, it could not have been enough to make up for anything.

I did try, though.  I tried a lot.  And, one of the results is that my trying turned out to be difficult for her as well.  There was just too much contrast.  She resents me for it in a way that I am fortunate to understand.  You know, I stayed in my marriage for lots of stupid reasons and one excellent one.  It was my hope that if I did my best and stuck it out that there might come a time when her father would have some kind of change.  Of heart.  Of soul.  Of conscience.  That there would come a day when he would see how wonderful she is, and maybe he would even try to make up to her for all the years when he was not involved in her life.

Maybe I wanted that for me, too.  Maybe I wanted that change to happen for me.  I do not think wanting that for either of us makes me selfish.  Stupid perhaps.  Mental healthy issues up the you know what.  But, not selfish, because all I wanted was for her to feel his love. 

When I left that day, I made sure that his sisters were notified and that he was not alone.  After that was accomplished, I called our daughter and told her that I had left.  Nothing more, and she did not ask.  That is how dysfunctional we are. 

There are aspect of his behavior that I simply cannot share.  When my daughter tried to contact him, well, it went very badly and she is still suffering for it.  Another thing with which I will never have the skills to help.

So, we go along.  I let her lead on this.  I can tell that there are moments when she wants to say something, ask something.  I have answers ready for whatever she wants to say, share or ask.  I do not like it, but I am prepared.

And, I know that next week, when we are sitting on the bleachers, filling our hearts with laughter and tenderness for those sweet children racing around the basketball court, that there will still be room for regret and more loss than any daughter should have.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Therapy today.  From my perspective it went well.

Oh, not so much for my lack of progress, which is lacking in so many areas, even though I am being reminded that it has only been ten months from that day and that it would be helpful if I stopped trying to shortcut my way through this.  Seriously?

My sessions are supposed to be the customary hour in duration.  We somehow manage to endure closer to two hours.  I have to keep an eye on the clock so that I do not get a parking ticket.  You get two hours and then you get a ticket.  Yep.

All right, the sessions are truly worth the time and expense and I would be nowhere near where I am today without them.  From the other side of the room it appears that I am considered interesting.  Whatever is going on here, I am grateful for it, especially since this sort of thing, mental health care, is the time when you have to be the most careful and informed about your health care choices and it is exactly the time when you are least able to be the proactive about finding the best medical resources.

I am lucky.  My therapist connected with me when I was newly in the shelter.  Still in deep hiding and protection, alone, scared witless, with no resources, not money, only a bit more than the clothes I was wearing on that day.  No friends, either, because no one ever knew what was happening, except for the friend in whom I confided the week before.

Here is where the interesting part comes in.  This woman was there leading a support group.  You see, the shelter was not a shelter with programs, it was a program that just happened to have a shelter attached to it.

I hardly remember those first days.  Guess I was shocky.  At least that is what I am told.  I do not even remember meeting her, only vague memories that everyone had to attend these meetings.  I understand now that doing so is essential to entering the process of healing, and it is pretty easy to comply because you are really not capable of making any independent choices.

So, I ended up with my therapist.  It has been an uneven journey.   Several months ago I just stopped going.  The work was too difficult and I gave up.  Well, not exactly.  What I did was run away from it.  The work was too hard.  We were at the point where I was supposed to do things, address issues that, frankly, I would prefer to ignore for the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, healing is not in that direction and when I ran into her near the clinic, I felt comfortable enough to ask if I could return.  She made an appointment for me right there and whilst I am not looking back, the process seems so slow. 

I know that I am inappropriately impatient.  It is not possible to repair decades and decades of a stupefyingly bad marriage, and I am clear that it was partly the marriage and partly my fault, even when you factor in the abuse.  Today I talked about finding compassion for my ex-husband.  I think that is important and I am pretty much there.  Oh, sure, I would like to not have been damaged by the one person I should have been able to trust more than any other person on the planet.  Yeah, it would be nice to come out of the other side of all of it with some resources, some measure of security.  That would be great.  However, these months of distance have very clearly informed me how poorly he was equipped to be married.

I loved him, and the truth is that I did not see any shred of evidence before we were married and for a year afterwards that there could ever be any problems or difficulties that we could not solve within the embrace of our love.

It is only now, with lots of talking and reading that I am able to understand how he groomed me for what was to come.  And, it is my belief, that because of his own mental health issues that it most likely was not a daily conscious choice.  All he wanted was to mold me into the person he could dominate.  I let him.  For that I take my share of responsibility.  I also take full responsibility for the times I failed, the moments when I fell from my own expectations of the kind of person I wanted to be, for all the times I was not my best self.

And, because I can give him that grace, the understanding and compassion for how, in the thrall of his own personal disturbing self, that he was doing the best that he could.  Mostly.  I will never know why he is the kind of person he is.  I will never have a clue why he was not able to be a kind and loving person, but rather chose to humiliate and hurt me, or why he was never a father to our daughter.

I thought, all those years, that if I stayed, if I did the right things, if I pleased him somehow, if I could perhaps figure out what the right things were, that everything would be fine.  But, I never did anything right.  On the rare occasions when I was able to perfectly follow whatever rules he had, the rules would change and there was still one more failure by me.

I will never know anything from him, but because I can try to understand, if I can continue to feel such compassion for him and his problems, if I can hold to the belief that he truly was doing the best he could, in the moment, with what he had, well, then maybe I can do all of that for myself.  I am working on that.

I have a wonderful daughter, son-in-law, both of whom are so loving and supportive, even though I have never shared anything about anything with them.  I have two of the best grandsons in the Universe.  Mostly excellent friends, an amazing therapist and an attorney who is still working for my interests even though we are five months post divorce decree and my ex-husband is still in defiance of every order of the court.  I just heard from her yesterday and she tells me that "we" are making progress and that she expects to have good news for me soon.  She is such a careful and hopeful person, that is my take, but it is more that she is a great attorney.  The proverbial dog with a bone, monkey with a mango, flea on a ferret...

The result, at least today, is that I might be able to fall asleep more than a few hours before I have to get up in the morning.  My five-year-old grandson has joined a basketball team and tomorrow morning is their first game.

I can hardly wait and so I am off to bed, to sleep, perchance to dream, ay, there's the rub.

Goodnight, Hammy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Yesterday was fine, a short day.  Today was a very long day.  I was tired from the second hour, made it through lunch, followed by a very difficult client.  Not that she was particularly difficult, but her disabilities are making it a real struggle for her to stay on task, stop lying and it is stressful for both of us, to be sure.  However, we finally did some decent work and it is my hope that I have encouraged her to be more comfortable with her truths, instead of taking whatever refuge she can find behind the wall of lies that helps her to avoid dealing with everything. 

This work is exhausting.  I love it, even when I can barely drag myself home at the end of the day.  Oatmeal with cream, my new favorite.  I have been eating lots of oats whilst I have been sick.  It is super easy to make, is filling and comforts me when nothing else can.

It has only been a few days since I poured that first, luscious layer of half & half on top of a steaming bowl.  It was amazing.  I mean, how can I have gone more than six decades without knowing the divinity of dairy and grains?  Who knew?  Why has no one ever shared this with me?   Why?   Why?   Oh, why????

Anyway, I never would have had the stuff around except that it was my intention to make my version of that Tuscan (I think...maybe...pretty sure) creamy potato, kale and hot sausage soup.  I never felt well enough to do more than shop for the ingredients, so there is the half & half, just sitting there, going to ruin and eventually down the drain, every gloopy, sour, separated drop.  Yes, I know what it would have looked and smelled like.  I have wasted cream before. 

But, not this time.  Man.  I had it for dinner again tonight.  There is an unequal relationship between the remaining oats and the carton of half & half.  I will run out of oats first.  Then what?  Buy more oats.  Then need to buy more cream.  More oats.  More cream.

How long does it take to have the oatmeal and cream come out even?  I am already old and am wondering if I have sufficient years left to bring this to resolution.  I suppose that I could start having some of the cream in my morning coffee.  Gah!  No!  Sacrilege! 

Wow.  That was a close one.

I went back to attending the domestic violence support group last night.  I am still afraid of being outside when it was dark.  I am still struggling with not only dealing with what happened to me, but it is so distressing to listen to the stories of the other women.  I promised my therapist that I would really and truly try to go back, and I did. 

I am certain that this is supposed to make me feel proud or strong or some damn thing.  I admit, grudgingly, that I do in some measure.  Doing this again is surely better than not doing it.  I get that.  Several months ago, when I was doing decent work on all of this, was getting close to some of the worst of it, well, it was too much and I quit everything.  When I was ready, when I thought I could get back to doing what I needed to do and put an end to simply going along and stagnating, I did reenter therapy and last night was my first time back to the support group.

If I am going to stay honest about all of this, I have to admit that last night was fine.  Maybe more than fine.  The woman who leads this group asked me some pertinent questions about my process of recovery as was related to what two of the other women were sharing.  I answered as clearly as I could and it helped the discussion.  I am one of the few women who return to the shelter for these groups and I could see last night that my experiences have the potential to help women who are going through similar circumstances and situations to what I did.

One of the most troubling aspects of this whole thing has been how alike my experiences have been to those of other abused people.  I include not only my ex-husband and other monsters like him, but women as well.  I do not personally know any women who are abusers, but they exist.  I know this because during these long months I have made every effort to educate myself about what happened to me.  In the process I have learned some terrible things, but every word, every book, every conversation is helping me to heal.  Not much, at this point, but each little bit is forward movement in my healing and I am grateful for all of it.

Back to similarities.  You know, or perhaps you do not know this, every murderer is often quite different from other murderers.  Even serial killers are unique in their practices.  Same thing goes for those who rob people or homes or businesses.  Ditto for all kinds of terrible people and the terrible things they do.

Except for abusers.  It is stunning and terrifying how nearly identical abusers are in how they groom and abuse their victims.  I really sort of hate, like really despise, the word victim, but nothing else applies for those who are mistreated, misused, neglected, abused and often killed by those who are most responsible for loving and caring for them, the victims that is.

The people most trusted to love and care for us, to have our best interests at heart, who are supposed to protect us,are the same people from whom we are in the greatest danger.

You know that saying about how happy families are alike in their happiness, but unhappy families are unique in their suffering?  Something like that.  Well, that is largely true, but it is the exact opposite for abusers and their families.  They are singularly alike in how they abuse.  How they groom their victims so that the abused finally believes that they are totally responsible for whatever befalls them.  How none of them, despite the rare and sad exceptions, take any responsibility for their actions.  How they never believe that they have done anything wrong. 

There may be those exceptions.  Maybe.  I have never heard of one.  Ever.  If they exist, no one is sharing that with me.

All I hear about, see and read are the women who are killed.  The ones who stay and no one knows how they have been forced to live until their bodies are found or their husbands get careless and the neighbors and police get involved and the women still die.  The women who finally find a way to leave, get divorced, get help, get restraining orders and they still die because restraining orders never saved one of those women. 

Just like court orders that are defied.  There is not any effective enforcement  when someone in a divorce proceeding decides to not do whatever the court decrees, as in my case, so it is for restraining orders, and the saddest part is that obtaining that order is often the one thing that sends the abuser over the edge.

 This country is full of women and children, men, elderly parents, disabled persons and others who live with daily, often moment-to-moment fear and pain and despair because they have been conditioned, brainwashed if you will, to believe that they are responsible for what is happening to them and that there is no help, nothing to end their suffering, nothing to save them.  

They do not tell because they believe that no one will care or help them, that everything is their fault because that is what they have lived with and they do not tell because they are ashamed of their failure to just get something right, do the right thing, do or not do something, just figure out what will make things right, help them.

And, I know, with absolute certainty that some of them have tried to get help, have shared what was safe to share and have asked for someone, anyone to assist them.  And, I know this because in the last few months, when I knew that I was going to die, I reached out to one of my husband's sisters and her husband for help.  I shared some of what my life had been like.  I asked for advice.  I asked for help.  I begged them to help us, to help me.  They believed me, but told me that they did not know how to help.  When I told them that I needed their assistance in finding help for my husband, her brother, they refused to be involved.

For me, that last moment, when I knew that that day was going to be the day on which I would not recover, not escape, that I would die, something helped me out of that house.  I think that the only reason that I made it out that day is because I had never tried to leave before.  I never argued or protested, never talked back, just tried to survive whatever happened.  I think that I escaped because it was the first time I said that I had to leave and then I just did it.  Had I hesitated, or delayed or gone back for my cats, I would not be writing this now. 

And, no one would have ever known what my life was like.  Most people would have been surprised, shocked by my death.  They would have been the people on the news interviews who say that they never had any idea, that he was the best neighbor, the nicest person, a great guy.  His friends would express disbelief that he was capable of such a thing, insist that there must be some mistake, some misunderstanding, some terrible accidental something that happened.  My friends would be shocked as well, because my shame at being such a complete failure in my marriage kept me from sharing anything with them.

I am a fairly smart person.  I am educated.  I do important and significant work in my community.  I have created programs and organizations.  I have championed and supported many social service activities and programs in my town and the surrounding areas.  I have won awards, for christsake.  None of that public life kept me safe, nor did it facilitate my being able to seek outside help.

This work towards healing and understanding and finding compassion for myself and my ex-husband might be the most important work that I have ever done.  I might not be stronger every day, but most days I try my best.  I now have a life that I never, ever even dreamed might be possible.  CoolCat and I are doing well, like really well.  I no longer settle, but I am content to settle into my new life.  I have a long way to go.  Yeah.

It is enough.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Going back to my jobs this week.  Yeah, they are all volunteer gigs, but I created most of them and I am very good at what I do. 

Mentoring is a snap most of the time.  I am with the same student for the second year, and that is all I have to share about that.  Yep.

The jobs related work, well, I actually did create both of those positions.  The first is for a city agency, to which I had gone with the idea.  Coming up on four years providing work documents, resources and referrals and support for social services.  I do the same thing, only slightly differently for a state agency.  I like both places, pretty much equally.  Very different environments and staff, but both are so satisfying.  And, if I finish early at the state gig, I can usually squeeze time in for something fun, lunch or a walk or just sitting down by the harbor and watching the waves and the people.

I have been away from those activities for a month because I have been ill for a long time and a trip to the doctor and some crummy test results and, well, here I am, back on track, recovering from a bad cold (is there any other and whilst I was not looking forward to having such a busy schedule again when I thought about it last week, today finds me feeling great about returning.

Tomorrow is me, doing my best to finish the laundry, something I really do not want to do, but I love clean bedding and clothes, so what is a girl to do.  It really was so nice to have a washer and dryer in the house.  You know, that might be the only, like absolutely only-only-only thing that I miss from my old life.  Seriously.  That means the balance of my Universe is just fine, so no complaining is warranted.  Rats.

 I had better make sure that I stop at the market for tote-able food for lunches when I am out tomorrow.  I really cannot see myself taking oatmeal or broth and saltines.  Maybe.

Wonder if CoolCat will miss our naps.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Welcome Sun.

It has been weeks since there has been more than moments or minutes of sunshine.  I know the Sun is still up there, it simply cannot penetrate the horizon to horizon breadth of grayness.  So, waking to full Sun and having it last until after 3 P.M. has been very nice.  That I missed part of it by napping does not thrill me even though my sick and tired body is grateful.

All the coughing and the rest is headache inducing, muscle exhausting and just plain miserable.  I have been ill so long and it was my unspoken hope that longer days, albeit marginally, might help fill me with positive thoughts and clear my lungs.  I actually do feel better today, so all those hopes are still here.

So.  The Sun.  I was so glad to see it today, especially on New Year's Day.  I called several friends to offer New Year wishes and one of them asked me if I make resolutions.  I think the only one I make is to not make them.  Ever.  There were so many years when I resolved to be a better person, to absolutely do my best to discover and do the right things, the things that would keep me out of trouble with my husband.  I failed very year.  Never got much better at divining whatever it was that would make us safer or more accommodating or pleasing him, making myself more likable.  Maybe even someone that he might love.  I still failed. 

It did not have anything to do with the New Year or resolutions or anything.  But, new beginnings were a significant part of our relationship.  Every time he would do things to me he would be hugely and abjectly sorry.  He would apologize, say it would never happen again.  He would cry and tell me that it was not his fault, that it was stress at work, but more often that it was something I had done or not done.  I rarely knew what he was talking about, and I would have to forgive him.  Over time my forgiveness had to be said a certain way.  My reply was that it was all right, it was fine, it was a new beginning. Nothing more, nothing less, or the cycle of abuse, remorse and forgiveness would immediately begin again.  What a fucking mess.

It was only after I left that I realized how ritualized the entire process was.  And, you know, I have come so far that it surprises me a little bit that I am even thinking about this today.  Even a few months ago I would have immediately gone and forced myself to release the thoughts and do something else, but no more.  Now I am trying to honor all of this and truly forgive him, and more importantly forgive myself for being the completely less than wonderful person I was, as well.  I have always believed that I was a mess, that I could never do anything right, that whatever the situation or circumstance that I would do the wrong thing, but I am not all of that.  I am just a person who does the best I can, and, really, that has to be enough.

I am still struggling with therapy and would love like you cannot believe to just stop going.  Unfortunately, I realized as I was leaving the session last week that I do not have anyone with whom I can talk about any of this.  My friends have their own lives and someone who is in the kind of ongoing pain that I have is a drag on anyone, especially people who love or like me. 

So, unless they specifically ask me about some aspect of this, I never mention anything.  That suits me.  I am tired of all of this.  I am willing, often grudgingly, to deal with thoughts and notions as they rise to the surface, although I am still resistant to the whole issue of feelings.  Everything in its time.  This being a grownup and building a new life is exhausting sometimes.

But, there was Sun today!  Yay!  I am crafting this New Year's Day Brightness into all of my new beginnings, every day of new thoughts and awakening desires and trust that I will always have what I need.  Honestly, until this very moment I was not even aware of how hopeful I have become and that I do trust about these things.  Trusting people is going to take more, what exactly I do not know, but at least there exists the possibility.