“Just wanted you to know that your checking account is overdrawn.”

Emergency ward entrance

Things are possibly about to get uncomfortable around here.  I’m going to talk about my process of forgiving individual care providers who have mistreated me at the Sioux Falls VA, (SFVA.)  I’ve been working on forgiveness for several months, now.  I’ve done well enough; I was able to enter the VA building and get my annual checkup and visit the dental clinic.  I have no intentions of seeking care with mental hygiene.  My skin has always been an insurmountable barrier to getting any treatment there.  (Abuse and medication are the only options since I got out of the service.)

Frankly, I’m embarrassed by this sorry state of affairs.  Fortunately, I’m capable of healing without subjecting myself to the people as mentioned above, who chose to behave horribly toward me when I asked for help.  I have the tools, map, vocabulary, the ability to recognize healing, and the support.  My goal is to die with a healthy, healed spirit at peace with the world as it is.  I don’t know what, if anything, occurs after death.  I live my life in a manner that allows me to feel proud of myself for persistently striving to be my best possible self.  (It makes enjoying my own company delightful.) 🙃

I’m accountable in this process to myself and my life partner.  I accept course corrections and guidance from the members of my social tribe and others who offer wisdom through various media.  I learned a great deal during the traumatic period of my life when my (elite military forces veteran) ex-husband stopped taking medication for his mental illness.  It took me years to process it all.  Some SFVA providers automatically disbelieved, verbally abused, and humiliated me when I went there seeking assistance.  I won’t forget, but I will forgive it.

gesture saying no

I’m struggling to forgive the ER doctor, who when I reported rape, offered to do an exam.  I refused the exam, and he took my refusal as permission to ignore my report altogether.  When I first entered the SFVA after being raped and tortured, my ability to find the words to describe my state of mind, and what just happened, was grossly lacking.  Not because I’m autistic, but because I’m human.  All I could do was hold back the scream that was threatening to escape and never end.  That I even managed to get out the word rape, is heroic.

Sadly, I was black that day, too, she said, disgustedly.  South Dakota is a red state, meaning Republicans are in charge.  Republicans motto should be:  We hate abortion, but we love racism, rape, homophobia, and god.  Facts.  A holy bible was signed by 45 and sold on eBay – eleven damning words, yo.  It’s uncanny how well they sum up many Republicans.  I’m not a Christian.  I used to think I understood what holy meant in respect to the bible.  I don’t know anymore.  The word Christian doesn’t mean anything to me any longer.  I feel like an ass for believing for so long that it defined someone actively striving to live as taught by Jesus Christ.

When I was a member of a fundamental Christian church in my late teens, (cult according to family 🤭), I had an experience that shook me to my core.  I asked Jesus (in my head) if it was wrong to be other than heterosexual.  I didn’t expect an answer, but I wanted to know from Jesus.  (I didn’t trust anyone else to tell me the truth.)  I didn’t hear words or anything like that.  I felt a moment of intense intimidation like Jesus threatened me if I dared to mistreat anyone.  It scared the shit out of me.  I wish I could articulate the experience more clearly, but that’s my best attempt.

child reading bible

It more than answered my question.  It’s also why I don’t call myself an atheist.  I can’t undo that incredible, scary experience.  There are a few other things involving strangers who helped me in extraordinary ways, including a woman who held me after the first time my ex-husband hurt me.  I was hysterical and confused, as it was out of nowhere and defied past behavior and logic.  Neither of us knew he was sick at that time.  We were both on active duty in the Army, and I was in a Circle K convenience store, weeping, disheveled, and trying to hide.

It was just what I needed at the perfect moment.  My spirit insists the universe had something to do with it.  Things like this make it hard for me to dismiss God altogether.  When I look at how numerous people around me who identify as Christians behave and treat me, I’m wary of association.  I don’t know many who live as though they believe what’s written in the Holy Bible, (new or old testament.)  We each decide how we experience life, and how we interpret scripture, or not.  Actions still speak louder than words.

I was just following orders.  – ICE members when hell demands payment, probably.

I have no respect for those who claim such association while embracing things like rape, homophobia, and racism.  These are traits of people who fail at coexisting with other humans who do them no harm.  Fortunately, they’re all going to die.  Yay.  If you’re a Republican and don’t support these things, why are you a member of a group that openly, loudly does so?  Association is support.  I’m off to continue reading, Fall; or Dodge in Hell, by Neal Stephenson.  It’s so good! 💜✌🏾

“You really are cooking up a little scheme here, aren’t you?”

eggs

Welp.  I cooked my first keto meal today.  I used an instant pot/pressure cooker and a recipe from a keto book.  It was successful enough that I can still eat the results.  I learned a great deal in the process.  Before this, M cooked my food.  He’s a vegetarian; I didn’t even ask him to prepare food for my keto diet.  I’ve baked cookies from scratch, but that’s about the extent of my kitchen abilities.  I blew it as a kid in my mom’s kitchen.  (If the same flooring exists in the kitchen of my childhood home, I’m confident I could still create suds with just a little bit of water.)

I put liquid dishwashing soap in the dishwasher.  I used a liberal amount.  Then I dared to play with the resulting Bubblepalooza until my mom returned from the grocery store, horrified.  I was sofa king banned from even entering the kitchen after that fiasco.  I had to stop at the threshold and ask for things.  It sucked.  Don’t try this at home.  The Army spoiled me by providing mess halls.  For years after, I didn’t eat hot food unless someone gave me some.

M made me a pseudo vegetarian.  (I didn’t know how to select and cook meat, so I ate what he cooked.  And lots of candy.)  I have a huge sweet tooth.   My mom was on the health kick before I existed and throughout my childhood.  I was ten the first time I had a Coke, (and it burned my mouth and made me choke.)

I recently found out my sweets craving has an off switch, much to my delight.  Increasing the (right) fats in my diet turned it off.  I didn’t even notice at first.  I just stopped craving sweets.  My challenges with cooking today were based on not having the proper equipment, and not reading the instructions for the instant pot, beyond the warning labels.  I overcooked and slightly burned my Mexican Egg Casserole.  (It’s breakfast until it’s gone.)

onion and knife

While still edible, it lacks flavor, probably because I overcooked it, which is something I’m surprised I identified with my middle school taste level.  (Thank goodness for hot sauce.)  Had I read the instructions, I would have realized pressing start was necessary for the timer to begin counting down.  Whoops.  (Fortunately, it told me my food was burning with a beep and text.) 😂🤭  The recipes are not autism-friendly.  They leave out a lot of information.  Chopping an onion for the first time (with a crappy steak knife) took a while.

I wish it had given precise instructions on how to go about this task, including which tool to use.  Start from washing the onion, and finish with chopped onions ready to be added to the pot.  Pictures in progress would be immensely helpful.  (They say a thousand words and all that.) Next time, I’ll choose a book that has a better quality of presentation over the number of recipes included.  (600 seemed like a good idea at the time.)

Since there’s a good chance the grocery delivery person has more meat choosing experience than me, I ordered my ingredients from Hy-vee grocery.  (+10 for accepting available assistance.)  I just ordered all the tools I need for next time.  A food scale, measuring cups and spoons, knives and cutting boards, and mixing bowls.  Now I know why M only cooks at his place. 🤣  (He’s too polite to tell me my kitchen is lacking, no doubt.)

pepper and tomatoes

I’m proud of myself for barely succeeding on my first try.  Heh.  I’m amazed by how much food I got for so little money compared to buying junk food.  I have all the ingredients for a week’s worth of lunches and dinners in my fridge.  This weekend will be my second attempt.  I anticipate it going much better.  Fortunately, M’s cooking is keto-friendly if I skip the bread, so I have time to learn.  (Premature publication)  I’m off to continue reading Fall by Neal Stephenson.  I love it so much and am at about halfway through. 😆✌🏾💜

“And the heat! My god, the heat!”

feet standing on ON sign

It’s ridic humid and hot here.  Menopause is forcing me to make some lifestyle decisions.  Since I am not able to power my home with excess body heat, there’s no point in risking spontaneous combustion.  From my perspective, it seems menopause is a built-in get-your-shit-together-or-burn stage of life.  I found a supplement on Amazon that works well for me, called Breeze.

After the first bottle, I was hot flash free and thought that meant they were over.  I was mistaken, (and winter tricked me.)  Next, I tried a soy isolate supplement, and it didn’t help at all.  So I went back to using Breeze.  After only a few days, the hot flashes disappeared again, (and I internally kicked myself for playing.)  My electric bill doubled in May from running the central air at 68° F all that time.  🤭🤫

Now, I’m a fan placement ninja.  I have it set at 70° F, and am comfortable.  I’m able to sleep until my cat wakes me at 4:30-ish AM.  Then I return to bed for a few hours after feeding her.  I’m feeling tired earlier in the night, now.  I felt sleepy and went to bed before 11 PM last night (without being ill.)  I haven’t done that since Jr. High.  In the Army, they told us we only needed 4 hours per night, and I believed it without question.  🤪  My side hustle was ironing uniforms and polishing boots while the smart soldiers were sleeping.  (And you know I thought I was the smart one.  🤣)

workout gear

I had an orange and royal blue sweatsuit and matching sneakers I wore after hours while ironing and shining.  I thought I looked so cute until someone asked me if I worked at Dominos.  😂 (I kept wearing it because funny is even better IMO.)  I bought an RX7 and later a BMW 525 SI IIRC (both used), so the extra fundage served me well during my car-caring phase.  Driving a late model BMW while a glorified private still cracks me up.  (Even though it was a flashing neon sign saying, I’m new and have no concept of tomorrow.)

I’m devouring all the junk food in my house this weekend.  After that, I’m adopting the Keto diet.  One of my autistic besties made the change recently, and it’s eliminated issues we share.  The headache upon awakening and lots of other minor inflammation and pains I didn’t notice when not in my body are being addressed.  Also, my new belly.  At first, I was going to keep it, but then I realized it’s bullying my wardrobe options.  Plus, spandex looks hot.  Hard pass.  The belly has to go (do crunches.)

I’m reading, The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu, (translated by Ken Liu, who wrote the Good Hunting episode on Love, Death, and Robots on Netflix.)  I love it so far.  Before this, I read The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu, and Exhalation by Ted Chiang.  I’m enjoying all three authors tremendously.  I watched the new season of Black Mirror.  Suddenly, I love Miley Cyrus.  I want her to cover more NIN songs, then move to Nirvana, Green Day, and keep going with alternative rock.  It fits her like a glove.  Also, Netflix, please release the Ashley O songs for downloading and streaming.  (That shit on Spotify?  Really?)  Thanks!

Striking Vipers - Black Mirror - Netflix

Striking Vipers was brilliant.  The actors likely made Charlie Brooker dance with joy.  They gave his characters believable dimension and relatability, allowing him to tell a story about us, whose subject was previously denied, causing unnecessary hardship.  (Keep throwing money at him, please, Netflix. 💜)  Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, starring Ellen Page was fabulous.  I’m watching Pose, now, (thanks to The Read podcast.)  More love.  TV rocks, now.  I’m off to stare at it while depleting my fruit roll-up stash.   💜✌🏾

“You’ve got a little rage.”

child swinging over water

Welp.  I’m still sporting Distracted by Everything mode.  Instead of pouting about it, I’m going to have a ramble.  First, shout out (into the void) for the cop and theme park worker who fist-bumped Karma, recently.  Way to flex your inner superheroes.  So shiny.  I’m proud of you both.  (Hey everyone, lets copy.)

(Rips off bandaid)  I got a thorough, tailored to fit like a glove, still has me a wee bit shaken, earned, course correction, the other day.  Sofa king ow.  And after much thought, the only thing I have to say in response, is, thank you, Maryam Hasnaa.  Okay, maybe more than a wee bit.  Shook, but extraordinarily and helpfully.  (How did they do that?)

I started reading; The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. It was recommended on The Friend Zone podcast recently. World rocked. So hard.  Must read.

toy soldiers

I’ve accidentally remembered and resolved several things from childhood, just from the information presented so far. There are no cures in the book, duh. But it has resources galore, and at least three of the methods defined will undoubtedly work for me (PTSD.) I’m not even done reading it yet!

Then my VA trauma popped up and said, hey. So I burned through a shitload of rage energy with my drum kit. I’m angry there exists numerous, cheap, quickly taught, scientifically supported treatments for PTSD, and not one of them were ever offered to me by the VA, despite the fact I endured several stays in the Mental Health Ward over the years and acquired the autoimmune issues that often accompany.

I’m furious to know I lost years of my life suffering needlessly, merely because the VA only decided a few days ago to follow up on giving a shit about veterans’ health. Also, that 82% trust rating of the VA hospital system by veterans is bullshit. (You only asked the ones who still bother going there.)

That’s, How To Further Lose Our Trust 101: Lie to us about how we feel about your not holding up your end of the deal ever, VA. 🖕🏽Just legalize weed and focus on the ones coming home today. The damage exists, and greedy indifference is mostly why. Maintain for us, do better for them.

masked person flipping the bird

Train all in the Mental Health department to recognize, understand, and assist veterans learning to cope with mental illness via the useful studies and tools that have been available for decades, but have been passed over in favor of medicating us. (You bastards. Shame on you. You put government contract shenanigans ahead of our health, and we know it.)  Congress, we know your part in this.  Stop fucking us for doing what most of you wouldn’t.

Years of my life spent barely functioning, believing all I could do was battle the symptoms from hour to hour, and keep my rage in check. The few times, I managed to accomplish incredible feats, such as completing my education, were hugely expensive to my body. That’s what trusting the VA got me.  My rage is healthy. I’m learning all sorts of things that are eventually going to lead to my being a devastatingly effective bitch who will get off on making sure the VA evolves into what it should have been all along. I’ve had a lot of time and experiences to draw on. Glad I got that off my chest.  ✌🏽💜

“Leo, I don’t care for your demeanor.”

children learning

I mentioned in comments recently how Sheryl Crow is teaching me how to communicate with people from a more productive place.  Her song, Halfway There on her Be Myself album is my anthem for the lesson.  (It’s also a great song.)  Music is the most effective way to teach me something.  I feel like I’ve already made good progress.  Now, when communicating, instead of only thinking about presenting my viewpoint, I also think about how those who might not agree will hear it.

The reasoning behind the lesson is the fact there’s little point in expressing my opinion in a manner that will cause the listener to tune me out.  I have a cat for that.  Heh.  I know whenever I speak to her, she’s listening for keywords, (such as, treat.)  She’s interested in my tone of voice.  Anything beyond is noise.  If I want people to consider my opinions as worthy of thinking about, I have to work on how I present them.  Just like with Amelia Bedelia, my tone of voice, and the words I choose will make or break the conversation.

I didn’t realize how horrible I am at this until recently.  I tend to come off like a drill Sgt.  In my defense, I did virtually grow up in the Army.  I’ve been out long enough to recognize it’s an entirely different world than that of a civilian.  It took a long time for me to adapt.  The hardest part was accepting civilian attitudes.  It’s incredibly frustrating to work with (or even be around) people who aren’t giving their best by default.  Of course, not all civilians are like this, but I seem to find the ones who are regularly.  😂

child weeping

Fortunately, I no longer lecture people on the merits of doing their best, (like a drill Sgt.)  I even try to keep my face in check, but I’m never sure I manage.  I’m a thought telegrapher.  (You can probably imagine how much fun this added to my training. /sarcasm)  Worse, my expressions aren’t necessarily the NT (neurotypical) version.  Aside from about-to-laugh or about-to-cry, I’ve been told I look angry when I’m thinking or processing.  Damn eyebrows.

Body language is something I’ve decided not to stress over any longer.  I don’t get it, I probably never will, so no more beating myself up over it.  As for my own, I’m working on not walking away like I’m trying to escape whenever I talk to people.  (Even though, half the time, I am.)  My entire lifestyle centers around not having to speak (out loud) to strangers much.  I suspect many who have or had a speech impediment share this habit.  I also used to put my foot in my mouth virtually every time I opened it.  (Thank goodness, Stevie Nicks already taught me the importance of thinking before saying.  Love her!)  Now I’m ready to take it further.  Baby steps, yo.  🙃

The battle for access to abuse-free health care continues.  Jade and Keia of Gettin’ Grown talked about the fact African American women frequently die prematurely due to racism in the medical field on this week’s podcast.  I felt validated after listening.  I’m not the only one who has had to deal with doctors or dentists who don’t think black people feel pain.  Or who automatically disbelieve anything we say.  I’m glad I decided I’m not going to die prematurely due to the crudeness and cruelty of some alleged professionals.

I’m proud of myself for refusing to see the evil dentist who mistreated me again.  I looked right at her (probably with angry eyebrows) and said, “No.  I specifically stated I would not be seen by her again when I made the appointment.”  The receptionist acted confused, but I saw a different dentist that day.  It was the first time I stood up for myself, but not the last.  I’m grateful the Patient Care Representative at the VA is a (more than) decent human being.  She’s already helped put in motion an eye exam, and I’ll be seeing a non-evil dentist later this month.

cute cat on the floor

I wrote her a note identifying some examples of the abuse I’ve endured in the Mental Health clinic and ward.  I didn’t share much, and only mentioned one person by name, but it was an overwhelming exercise.  I also shared how I was dealing with my ex-husband turning into Ramsay Bolton at the time, which is what drove me to seek assistance in the first place.  It brought back all the shit I’ve had to put up with since I got out of the military.  Plus, the Kavanaugh Travesty triggered me and stapled me to the floor as a result.  It was like standing in the midst of a trauma avalanche.  Good times.

I’m doing better now, (finally stopped weeping.)  I look and feel like I talked shit about Mike Tyson’s mom in his earshot, but at least I’m not silently wishing slow deaths on everyone who ever hurt me any longer, (then feeling guilty about it.)  I finally slept, which helped.  I also listened to lots of music and watched a Will and Grace marathon while pacing.  I might take the saying, walk it off, too literally, but whatever works.  I paid enough attention to recognize how insensitive (and probably offensive) we were in the 90’s.  I didn’t notice back then.  (+100 to the millennials for helping us see how unkind we were without realizing it.)  ✌🏽

p.s.  Here is a fabulous, healing, and hopeful video.  #SISTERHOOD