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

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I finally sorted out most of my medical mess yesterday. 

My new and self-proclaimed greater and more comprehensive insurance is certainly new, but is fraught with not great and whilst it may be more comprehensive (I will never know because I am too confused right now and it might become my usual state), it is much more confusing to navigate.  A conservative estimate of how much time this ate up (sorry, it is late and I am hungry) is that I spent between ten and twelve hours on the phone or on the computer, often working on both at the same time.  By the time I left the pharmacy last night, having cleared up a whole poop-load of miscommunication that originally indicated that I might be hoarding or misusing one of the happy drugs, I was more than exhausted, but feeling so much better about every darn thing.

As for misuse of that med, I had mentioned that I was nearly out of the pills and when my doctor's office called in a new prescription, the nurse called me back and told me that the prescription was refused because I already picked it up.

He was positive that was the information from the pharmacist, and I could not remember doing that.  I have been so sick I thought it must be that I am more unwell emotionally.  I was questioning all kinds of things and experiences from the week.  And, I was really frightened, scared that my mental illness was getting out of control.  I mean, if I could not remember fetching an anti-depressant, could not find the bottle or paperwork anywhere in the house or the car, then I was in serious trouble. 

All of my doubts about my abilities and my path towards better health meant that it was all probably an illusion.  I could feel myself going to ground, preparing to hide out and hope everything would pass.  And, then, it seemed as though confronting my bad memory about the med would provide some useful information, something that would help me pull myself back to what stands for normalcy for me.  I decided to go back to the pharmacy and have the pharmacist tell me that, yes, I had picked up the medicine.  I needed that closure about that.

Turned out that I did not pick up the medicine, but it had been re-shelved because it was rejected by my insurance because a refill was being requested a week and a half too early.

I am good at being able to express my feelings now, but I cannot express the relief I felt about not having made that mistake.  Even better is that the pharmacist was so helpful and explained how to take all of the new and old meds so that they would be effective, especially since there were increases in dosage and new meds. 

I was so thrilled that I bought myself some mascara and a 12-pack of diet cola on the way out and promptly dropped it just outside the door.  Had to go back in for bags for the cans that spewed all over and it is still in the car.

I am a very resourceful and determined person.  I sometimes think that I am more stubborn than dedicated, but it is what it is.  I rarely give up.  It is one of the reasons I am still here on the planet.  It is how I am able to get up in the morning and do stuff.  Most days.

This past week was a challenge and I was not all that physically or emotionally up to it. 

I have been in and out of illness without sufficient breaks of health for a long time. 

I finally found a doctor in this village and she is outstanding.  No nonsense, and I really like and need that.  She also was clear about how I was not properly medicated (except for the happy drugs, which she only had to noodle with a bit). 

So, I am on some new meds, have in increase in others/happy drugs, and two meds are gone.  Even so, I am taking more stuff than before.  It is too soon to know if any of this will work well, but I am feeling more confident about where all this is going.

I received the last of my test results yesterday and I do not have the suspected problem, and the results were so good that because of the results and my age I do not have to have that painful test again. 

I think that what bothered me so much this week is that I had to keep calling back to my insurance company because whomever I talked to had given me incomplete or incorrect information.  What if I had gone with the first and bad information?  I shudder.  I need to add here that part of the problem is with me.  I am not assertive enough to ask questions when faced with someone who is positive that she is correct.  I could not ask for clarification or challenge anything told to me.  That is why I had to keep calling so many times, hoping to connect with someone with the right information and with whom I felt comfortable talking.  This is not the fault or a problem with the people on the other end of the phone.  It is with me.

What worries me is that I found myself paralyzed at several points during the hours and days of calling and that I had moments of just giving up and doing without the health care stuff I needed.  As it is, one of the specialists I need cannot be found closer than one hundred...yes, one hundred...miles from where I live.  I wonder how that fits into my new, better and more comprehensive insurance coverage.  My final call to them yesterday afternoon reassured me that this is the case and that fact even astounded the company representative that was trying to help me.

So, I will be going without the help of that kind of medical resource and my doctor is readjusting some of my meds and we are going to consider this the best we can do.

I am feeling less fragile and hope that I will be able to figure out what all of this is here to teach me.  One thing I know already is that I cannot take my endurance for granted, as I nearly failed, gave up a couple of times.

I still have to find a therapist and dentist next week.  Fortunately, I have only one day with something that needs to be done, so I have plenty of time to search my insurance coverage on-line, make calls and have little breakdowns.  But, I am not quitting.  I am going to get this mess straightened out, keep reminding me that most of the mix-up is because of my abilities to cope and just keep keeping on.

Monday, March 23, 2015

finding medical care

I have an internist and am very satisfied with the care and resources.  Unfortunately, the world of medical insurance and care is so complicated and difficult to research. 

I have a computer, it is connected to the Internet and I know enough about both aspects to teach other people how to use both, heck, I can even write code, or I used to be able to do that.  I am too stressed from organizing my health care stuff to find out.

I am privileged.  It is important to stress how insanely privileged I am regarding medical care.  I am acutely aware of this because I work with people who are not so lucky.  And, it really is all about luck.  The luck of having the ability to wrestle through all of this mess.  Lucky to have sufficient resources to afford additional health coverage in addition to what Medicare provides. 

What I have in common with less lucky people is the nearly paralyzing stress and fatigue of trying to navigate this crap. 

It is like the complexity of taxes, of all kinds.  Get one system, simplify it and apply it to everyone.

It is like laws.  Go back to the time before laws and lawering and make everyone follow that if what you want to do or say does not cause harm to anyone or anything...including yourself in most instances, there certainly are exceptions...then go ahead and do or say whatever the heck you want to say or do.  If there is no harm, then, no foul.

There are lots of other ways to make life less stressful, and I know that the one most helpful to me is to make the payment systems at stores and clinics and wherever, one same process.  If I have to scan or swipe my information or membership card, if I have to swipe my payment method card, standardize all the damn machines for doing so into one universal machine.  Period.  I know that the clerks and sales people would like the same thing. 

But, this health stuff is horrible.  I know that I have decent access to care and that it will (most probably) will not impoverish me, or if it does, it will be relatively temporary.  I prepare for extra and/or medical expenses by saving anything I can.  Sometimes I have to delay medical care for a while if it is not an emergency, and I do my best to avoid any behaviors that would create an emergency situation.  Except for the falling, but I am working on that.

I arranged for and paid for the top tier of health benefits through my medical plan, for medical, dental and vision care.  The dental benefits alone will pay for the extra fees.

However, because our health care system is such a mess, many providers, clinics, hospitals and individual doctors are bailing out of some things. 

Medicare is one of them.  Complicated and inconvenient (and sometimes greedy)insurance companies and their procedures is another.  It once took my old insurance company nearly eight months to pay a simple office visit claim.  During those months, my doctor and clinic were waiting for claim payments from practically every insurance with which they work.  That is insane, and whilst I understand the desire to hold on to your money as long as possible, to cause problems for others who need their money is kind of disgusting. 

And, that causes all manner of difficulties for health consumers, me, you and everyone.  And, that means that I have spent two full days trying to find:
  • A pre-colonoscopy preparation thing that my insurance will cover.  It is in my best interest to do so because to pay for it myself will cost more than a hundred dollars/US.  My second call to my prescription service graced me with a person who was willing, unlike the first call just a minute earlier, to dig around and find a prep thing that would be covered.  A subsequent call with the gastro office was actually funny.  The prep thing that my insurance will cover is one of several dozen available, but which has not been used in several years...maybe longer.  The office person was familiar with it and will prescribe it, but it might not be available in a pharmacy; will have to be ordered.  However, it will save me me and will cost only $14.00/US.  So, I can schedule the colonoscopy.  Ultimately, two or three hours well spent.
  • Same thing for another prescription, one for my heart crap.  I have that settled, too.
  • Now that I have moved, I need a new therapist.  It would be best for me to have one with a couple of specialties or at least experience or interest in treating someone like me.  The one that my internist says is the best match for me no longer takes my insurance or is a Medicare provider, because of the issues I have already mentioned.  In fact, when I called the clinic, the woman who answered the phone was so cool and welcoming until I asked if they took my insurance.  My best guess is that she often experiences people who are upset and probably not nice about that.  So, she was immediately stressed and defensive.  I had to reassure her that I was not upset or challenging their policies before I could convince her to tell me what their customary session charges are.  
  • Another few hours were spent, nearly five, in searching for a female therapist who is part of my insurance providers and within driving distance that would not encourage an overnight stay, you know, just to be safe from all the driving.  I think I have found two possible therapists, but I am now too exhausted to try any contact with either of them today.
  • One of my anti-anxiety meds has gone from $26/US for three months to the same price, but for only one month, and I cannot express how unbelievably grateful I am that I will be able to afford this med, even though the first month will cost $130/US. A minor complication that I am not fussing about.  It took a long time to find this med.
  • The dentist I would like to use is within walking distance of my flat, is reasonably priced and is nice.  He is not on my provider list.  Huge surprise.  So, I am going to just stab a knife into the list of the ones I did find.  Too tired to do anything else but home for the best.
Those who do not have my resources do what I used to do and that is to seek medical service with anyone who will take them, not rip them off too much and not be too far away to reach.

Having what I have now is why I am so privileged and lucky and I have nothing that is worthy of complaint.  So, I am not really, but I am thinking about how if this is so difficult for me with every skill I have, what can be done for those around me who cannot navigate or even begin to understand this mess.

I was planning to visit the village's community center where there is a program for seniors.  I cannot just walk in and announce that, "Hey, I know that there are other old folk like me who have having conniptions about juggling all that health care jazz..."

Nope, cannot do that, although I am thinking that going there and meeting other old folk would be more than nice.  Maybe we can incorporate health care stuff into the employment stuff that I will be starting up again.  Soon, I hope. 

This mess is not our fault, unless you want to extrapolate it to how we vote for the people who are the chief messer-uppers.

Gooder-news is that I found a support group that is close enough to not require an overnight stay and I am going to it tomorrow.  Unfortunately, it cuts into my on-line and on-telephone research time, but there is a excellent chance that I will sort out all of this medical and insurance stuff before I die, but we have to wait until all of my test results are back from last week's bloodletting.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I had an appointment with my new doctor this week.  Two days ago.  Some of the test results are back and, man, is my life changing or what/

New heart meds.
Different statin.
New high blood pressure med, that also helps with my heart crap.
Vitamin D, because I apparently do not have a level that could be found.  Should help with nearly every health issue I have.
Transitioning from oral meds for diabetes to more oral meds plus insulin.  I can hardly wait.
Some weird preliminary something from my pap test, but I cannot handle worrying about it now.
Bone density testing, colonoscopy (freaking yikes), mammogram and some other damn things still to come.  I can hardly wait.

My anti-anxiety med came back at nearly $127.00/US per month, and that was after the insurance discount.  Under the old insurance plan it was $10.00/US per month.  It is one that most people cannot tolerate taking, weird side effects and all that, but it has worked like a charm for me; I really hate to give it up.  Oh, well, until I find a med that my insurance will cover I will just have to embrace skittering out of my skin for a while.  Should really be a boost to the fighting downstairs.  I can hardly wait.

Other than that, my new doctor is a dream come true.  As recently as four months ago, my old doctor was noodling around and not addressing the problems I was having.  To find the new doc and have her be someone this thorough and assertive about treating the few things I have is, well, it is a little stunning, as well as being reassuring.  More than reassuring.

I meet with a diabetic clinic person in two weeks, see my doc three weeks following that, to retest my blood and adjust meds as needed.

I am used to needles, both for myself and as a vet tech and owner of pets with extraordinary needs. If you are fuzzy I can treat your diabetes and hyper-thyroidism, give you infusions, administer vaccinations, rid you of worms and other parasites, and neuter you.  I really can.  So, none of that should be a problem.  I can hardly wait.

Other than that, I feel just fine, like usual.  Although, as I spent the afternoon thinking about all of this, there might be a chance that when all the dust/drugs/needles settle that I might begin to have more energy.  It surely would be wonderful to find the right types and amounts of  not so depressed happier-drugs after all this time.

The fall I took last week is healing and I can lift my leg again and get into and out of the car with ease.  I have new library books and some DVDs

Oh, and I am calling my new doc Sawbones because she told me that if I am going to keep falling so much that I had better get a bone density test done pronto.

I finally made an appointment with the dentist just down the block.  I can walk there.  Turns out that even though I do not have a plan that requires me to choose from a school pack gaggle gargle (HA) of dentists, he is not on the list-that-does-not-exist.  Lordy.

I have tomorrow with no appointments, nothing to do except sort art supplies or if that gets too strenuous, I have fillums.  Guardians of the GalaxyMaleficentMaze RunnerThe Hundred Foot Journey.

I can hardly wait.

I am sort of regretting making this the week when I do or arrange for all of this stuff.  So much easier to crawl back into my lair, dark and quiet and lovely space that it is.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


I should be leaving for my thrift shop gig right now, but I am here, sittin' at the old computer looking for recipes to make a marjoram tincture or oil infusion.  I am tired, but I cannot sleep.  I am hungry, but I cannot eat anything without risking nausea or at least an upset stomach.  I have a small headache.

My downstairs neighbors had another of their fights this morning.  Someone started it at 3:10 a.m.  It woke me and I got up.  The floor must have been creaky, because the shouting stopped immediately.  As long as I was awake, I did what all old people do, I went to the bathroom.  When I returned to bed and settled down, hoping that the very brief fight would somehow, miraculously, not keep me up, the fighting began again. 

It did not last long, but there was not any way that I could go back to sleep.  PTSD triggered in that way, and this kind of fear-induced adrenaline takes a long time to metabolize.  When we are frightened, adrenaline is produced for the flight-or-fight response needed to protect ourselves from danger, and if there is no immediate risk, it is absorbed/or something in just a few minutes.

When released, triggered by an experience that returns us to previous trauma, the adrenaline sticks around for a long time.  For me it can be more than an hour.  It used to last longer, so an hour is a real improvement, and I am grateful. 

But, the fighting from downstairs prevents me from going back to sleep.  I rarely assign responsibility to the triggering event.  It has been more helpful for me to take on all of the responsibility for my feelings and, most especially, my responses to what happens in my life.  But, I make an exception for the couple in the lower flat.  I have spoken to them a few times, explaining the problem. 

The first time we talked, I shared my issues with their fighting, a tiny bit of my experience and a bit more of the work I did with our women at the domestic violence shelter.  Lots of blah-blah, but I told her, the wife, that I was a readily available resource for them and either one of them could come upstairs to take a break and/or cool off.  Any time of day or night was fine, and one of them was always welcome to sleep or just hang out by her/himself.  I have been criticized for making the offers to them, but they do not have any other places to go except for their friends, who most likely would be as intoxicated as they would be.  Too bad.  They can use my flat if need be.  I just do not want anyone to be hurt or scared or die.  You know?

A bit of background is that the fights have been happening since I moved here, which means that they were happening long before I arrived.  In the first six weeks that I lived here, there were ten big fights.  Like, really big.  A few lasted for hours.  I stopped counting after ten, but there were a few more.  One involved another couple. 

After that two-couple fight, I tried to talk to them, but no one answered the door and I discovered several days later, during another conversation with the wife, that they were most likely sleeping off an adult-beverage-fueled evening, as they had made the other couple stay the night, being unable to safely drive home.  Alcohol seems to be a large factor in these fights.

So, once again, no sleep and I had to manage to stay awake (no adult beverages) to make my morning appointments and all that jazz.  After a few hours, I called our landlord to share what has been happening.  Interestingly enough, he called their cell phones to read and remind them of the noise prohibitions in our leases before he called me.  This is when he asked me to call the police.  I apologize for the lack of coherent continuity; I am tired.

So, anyway, after that big fight, she initiated the conversation, explaining in a snotty manner that they are young (emphasis) and they like to go out.  In fact, they had so much fun that they made their friends stay overnight for safety.  Then, she looked at me the way old, fun-crushing babes like me deserved to be visually chided.

I asked her if she was talking about regular people noise and she just stared at me.  I said, "You know, regular people noise, the kind people make when they are having fun."  Still facing that stare, I continued to tell her that I was concerned, tried to talk to them and finally had to call our landlord because of the fighting, and that we had previously talked about that problem, you know, middle of the night, PTSD triggering, inability to return to sleep and the problems it causes for the next couple of days.

I reminded her that my health issues are not her concern, but that they are mine, and that all of this was not so much about the two of them, but about me and that I would not be able to continue to live there if I could not sleep.  Seriously, I told her, this is only about me.  Although I think you are  nice people, what you do or do not do is your business, I have to take care of this aspect of my health.

Lots more blah-blah-blah from me, but I still find it interesting that she/they think that I am just being an old, cranky and nick-picking neighbor that is trying to interfere with their fun.

She initiated another conversation about this a couple of weeks later, sharing that they had some serious conversations about their relationship and were considering separating for a while to see what happens.

That was three weeks ago, three really nice weeks of good sleep and decent relations with them.

Well, until last night/this morning.

I am hoping that she did not answer the door(s) because she is sleeping.  Even if she simple does not want to talk to me or face me, that is fine, too.  But, I would have liked to go to work today.  I would like to have slept and not be tired and unable to nap right now.  I would like all of that very much.

My fear is so much less disabling now.  I am upset with myself that I cannot control the triggers when they come.  I hate having to interfere with the lives of other people.  Everyone should be able to do what they want, even if other people do not like it, even if doing whatever it is is not in their own best interest. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I am nearly, almost, practically out of my meds.  I knew this day was coming, but each week marched past without making any attempt to find a new doctor in, or near, this village.  I did look at the list of doctors recommended by my insurance carrier, but did not call any of the offices.  I also did not look for any doc or clinic not in the book, even though I had to switch insurance plans when I moved.  The new one is better, provides better coverage and the ability to choose medical resources outside of plan, and it is the same price as my old plan.  It also includes drug coverage and I will be paying less for Medicare provisions, saving me fifty dollars/US each month.  Nice.

Well, I ran out of one of my meds over the weekend and made a call yesterday to the office of one of the plan doctors.  They transferred me to someone else, who finally called me back today.  Turns out that the doctor I chose has left the practice since the materials were published at the beginning of this year.

I have an appointment for next week, and being without meds for that time is not a problem.  I was very clear on my needs.  My two health issues, the mental health stuff and that I really needed a female internist because of my PTSD.  We will see what happens next week. 

I was going to request a referral to a psychiatrist or other head doc, but a quick look at my budget informs me that I cannot afford the co-pay my insurance plan has for mental health care.  I did fine in my old city because I was homeless when I started therapy and it was no-cost, and it continued because the organization received a grant to continue beyond the government limits for people like me.  I made donations and provided services to the agency as a way to compensate for the therapy I was receiving, but I cannot do this now.  Nor can I keep driving back to the city once a month for sessions there. 

A conundrum all right.  I need to get creative about this, but I think it will come down to another part-time job.  I am going to start looking on-line tonight.  This village does not have a regular paper, but I should be able to find job listings on some of the aggregators.

What else.  I fell on ice again this morning, whilst walking my grandsons to their bus stop.  I wrestled myself upright and they continued on the sidewalk and I walked in the street, which was ice free.

I can hardly believe that I have never hurt myself in the falls I have had over the past couple of years.  Scrapes, but nothing broken or anything.  I wonder what my bone density is and if I am not yet brittle enough to snap any bones or joints.  Maybe I should bring that up during my doc appointment next week. 

I meet with the folk who are in charge of the money I received from the divorce.  I have no idea what any of it is or how it works or anything. 

I really hate change, even if it is for the better.  I really and truly hate it.  However, I have to do all of this, including the job searching, because I am falling into entropy, apathy and ennui...the trifecta of depression and anxiety supported behaviors.  I am bound by torporness.  I am stuck with a mostly useless vocabulary, save when it comes to everything I am to stuck to move out of.  Grammar suffers.

I found a book whilst noodling around in my library's book catalog.  I thought it might help, but it is about a different aspect of fears and fear inducing behaviors.  Lots of anecdotes about specific fears and how they form the way people behave.  I was hoping that there would be some information that would help me deal more effectively with my triggers.

It is called The Fear Cure, Lissa Rankin, and it is a seriously decent book, but not all that helpful to me.  I like the style and construction and will finish it only because the author is downright heartfelt about what she has to share.  If you suffer from phobias or regular fears, this should help.  For me, I think only more therapy is going to help.  Rats.

Trying to avoid what needs to be done is a mistake.  Oh, so comforting to stay inert, another mistake.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I never really thought much about the terms used for the process of regaining one's life.  You know, like healing and recovery mostly.  I am sure that there have to be people who are healed and/or recovered, although I am not sure that it could ever be just one of them.  They seem essential to whatever the heck we are doing. 

So, even though I have been PTSDing all over the place, there was a minute on Saturday when I was calmer and breathing and was back in the realm of coherent thought.  I thought, it is going to be so nice when I have recovered and all of my triggers are gone.  When I am not thrust back into past experiences by what I read in a novel or listen to some otherwise innocuous comment that one of my friends makes at coffee on Saturday, something completely unrelated to me, but triggering just the same.

Some day when a particular string of notes or tempo in a song will not put me back there.  I am really looking forward to that time, although I guess that if the triggers are not happening, that I will not notice their absence.  The triggers will be gone when there are no scabs to be pried off.

For no good reason high school popped into my head.  Those years were neither super or horrible, despite what was going on at home.  I had friends, but, like most students, did not fit into any of the social groups.  I knew kids from all over the spectrum, the colliges (smart), the hoods (think denim jackets, pre-black leather days), nerds (I was closest to that group, and this was prior to geeks), the athletes. 

There were the ever-present cheerleaders and sports superstars and they were part of the popular crowd, although there was not any name for them that I can remember.  They were pretty much what everyone else aspired to be and knew that they did not have a chance of elevating themselves.

I was also a band member, which is a kind of geek.  The other music department groups were better than us band members, especially the choirs, who were comfortable mentioning at a moment's notice that anyone can play an instrument, but only a few can sing.  There is not any reply that will not make you be more apparently geeky.

And, it is like life, you cannot be friends with everyone, or even like them because not everyone is going to like you.  I have suffered, self-inflicted, with the struggle and desire to be liked for all of my life.  That is not exactly true, what I wanted was for everyone to love me.  It does not need a genius to figure out why, but I think this is true for most people.

The people who shine do, the rest of us try to not be blinded by their glory. 

Factor in that I am not attractive and I learned early that in order to have friends I had to be the best kind of friend possible, giving, listening and supportive.  I did not have the social skills to properly do that, but it never interfered with trying my best.  I have continued this practice into adulthood and most of the time it serves me well, socially and in the family, but not so much in a personal sense.

Just like most people. 

Anyway, I had a yearning to connect with that time, so I came on-line and looked for my high school yearbook.  A mostly weird experience, with most of the sites asking for a fee.

So, fees.  I refuse to pay for anything extra.  I will pay bills in person (not possible to do up here now) rather than spend a stamp to mail it.  If I am at a restaurant and something I would like is an extra cost, I do without.  I never buy the best of anything, but that is another, very long story.

So, anyway, I kept looking until I found the whole darn thing on a site.  The images were not great and I could not read any of the text, or identify anyone in the group pictures, or the names beneath the individual photos, but I was able to identify the people I knew, and one of those was me. 

I had passed my part of the alphabet and was picking out people I had as friends before I though to find my photo.  I was easy to find.  I thought, I recognize you, but where are you?  Where did that girl go?  Probably the response that most people would have.  We are not remotely the same person we were last month, much less half a century ago.

I keep going back and looking at that picture.  That girl was pretty, in a nicely pretty way.  I married two years after that photo was taken and I am guessing I still had most of that prettiness, although I was way too skinny.  Uh, no problems with that now.

That girl was a truly crappy student.  She remembers being astounded to have scrabbled enough grades to graduate, positive that she would be able to do so.

That girl played coronet and french horn in the band, although she dropped each of them at least once, and was part of the back stage crew for a few plays.  That girl was able to do those things because her mother favored her (for not great reasons) and used her participation at school to hurt other people in the family not so privileged.  That girl was clueless for most of those years, but even when she figured it out she kept accepting that favor.  She regretted all of that then, but not enough to stop taking the favors.  She is to-the-bone ashamed of it now.

I remember the day that photo was taken.  My mother had given my sister and myself some of her clothes to wear.  Mine was a soft white cardigan, the kind rich people wear, with small pearl buttons.  I remember waiting for my turn and sitting on the stool in front of the backdrop.  I remember the photographer telling me to tilt my head; tilt more.  Smile.  Hold your head and smile.  And, I did and I did not look too bony and my face shows a girl who is happy.

I remember.

I remember that life then was not all bad.  There were good times.  There were even plenty of times when the good stuff was not going to be turned into a debt that had to be repaid in not so good times.

I remember loving my parents, despite all the other stuff, but I mostly remember how much I loved my brothers and sisters.  I remember being the person who hid and protected them when our parents were behaving dangerously.  I remember being led into their bedroom by my stepfather and that what I did there would influence what happened to all of us outside of that room.  I feel just as sick now as I did then, but I also feel that I needed to comply and the years have allowed me to block most of it.  That is a blessing, and I am grateful.

And, of course, that led me to all of the years that followed.  It feels right to remember and honor all of the good times in my life, especially my marriage.  That rightness transcends honestly, it keeps anyone from becoming a monster, because I do not believe in monsters of the human behavior kind.  The most heinous act upon another person is never excusable, never allowable, and most likely never forgiven.  Lots of thinks happen in our lives that deserve, at least eventually, forgiveness, which is mostly about doing it for our selves and our own well-being and growth.  Forgiving the other person is nice, but I sometimes wonder where it resides in the equation.

Nothing in life, not a crappy childhood or marriage, is all one thing. 

I saved that photo image of that girl.  I cropped and stretched and it is my desktop image.  I am going to try to remember that it is possible to smile and look happy because even in the depths of suffering, there are moments when happiness rises.

I am going to try to remember that lying in order to facilitate safety is not the worst thing a person can do to survive.  Absolutely not the worst thing to experience, and that carrying shame for lying to protect yourself just adds to the suffering and is a barrier to healing and recovery, and, man, do I ever need to keep that process moving along.  Just chugging and huffing along.

I am going to remember a lot of things that suffering made me forget or block and I am going to honor suffering because it has made me appreciate and be grateful for, well, for just about everything.

And, I am going to remember and think about that girl until I have a better understanding of who she was and where she has gone.