What does the little man inside say?

The Depression Monster is riding my back. It’s at minor annoyance level.  I’m a bit surprised by my suspicions of why I’m feeling low.  I think it’s because I’m studying Stevie Nicks, and I’ve come to a rough point in her past.  I’m at the overwhelming betrayal:  She was told she had to stop using cocaine or she’d die. Clearly, she stopped.  When she was recovering from addiction to cocaine, she was prescribed Klonopin.  It led to a worse addiction.  That’s a pretty big mind fuck.  I’m experiencing it retroactively, but apparently, my empathy didn’t get the memo.

I paused the documentary at that point to process what I’ve learned so far.  Fame is ugly.  It’s not new information, but watching Fleetwood Mac lose their innocence was hard.  I now know Rumours was created from pain.  They were all experiencing raw grief.  The successful album says a lot about their professionalism and abilities.  Most people don’t want anything badly enough to endure such circumstances.  They were about to make it big, but I don’t think they knew it.  They certainly earned it.

It bugs me something so sought after is basically a trap.  A trap for drug addiction, and a new type of loneliness exclusive to famous people.  It triggers my protective nature.  Fuck the universe for tempting so many people to strive for fame before revealing it’s true nature.  People don’t like to be fucked with, especially not after pouring everything they have into reaching for excellence.  Fuck.  Also, the men interviewed in this documentary are pissing me off.  They’re music producers from the late 70’s, which is probably enough explanation.

They’re accidentally doing a fairly good job of conveying how things went down, but you have to read between the lines.  They’re inarticulate and behave like frenemies at best, ex-lovers at worst.  Nobody is watching this documentary to hear about how butt-hurt the producers are decades after the fact.  Besides, Gen X women know misogyny speak fluently.  When men describe a woman as a bitch, diva, full of herself, bossy, and/or demanding, we are aware it actually means she was a formidable leader.  It says she didn’t submit to male dominance.  It means she’s someone worthy of our attention.

I’m noticing similarities between Stevie Nicks and Carrie Fisher.  They’re both survivors and storytellers.  They’re understandable to me.  I’ve probably stated this many times, but understanding is the path to love.  When you understand someone, you can’t help but love them.  Loving those who don’t know I even exist is surprisingly delightful.  It’s a safe secret.  I’m not very good at being a fan of famous people.  I rarely go to concerts because the other fans scare the shit out of me.  I’m pretty sure a lot of famous people have been traumatized by their fans.  We should rename fame.  It should be called Public Pain.  (I’m a huge fan of stating what’s meant.)

I can’t recall ever meeting anyone famous.  It’s a perk of living in South Dakota.  We’ve all rehearsed how we plan to act should it ever occur, but even my rehearsals haven’t gone well.  My imagination is kind of an asshole.  I’m barely able to manage it, (mostly because it amuses me too much to try very hard.)  The only famous person I’m confident I could meet (without regretting my behavior ever after) would be Michelle Obama.  I know exactly how that would go down.  She’d smile and offer to shake my hand, and I’d immediately start bawling.  I wouldn’t be ashamed because I know so many who would react exactly the same way.  (She’s probably used to it.)

I know I’m rambling on and on, but I can’t help myself.  I haven’t spoken to anyone but my cat in a few days.  (It was deliberate, but I’m an inch away from too weird, to begin with.)  So here we are.  I still have a profound sense the end of my life is impending.  It’s been over six months, but the feeling hasn’t waivered.  I hate to admit it, but I’m enjoying the planning process.  (I think it’s just that I like planning in general.)  I’m at a point now where I recognize I need to write a short story about my childhood nightmares.  It’ll be a cleansing.  I’ve always been reluctant to write it because it’s a horror story and it’s not reality.

I would suck as an author.  I have the discipline and imagination.  I don’t have the thingamajig required to convince anyone a fantasy is real.  The things I love most about novels are things I’m only capable of recognizing, not reproducing.  I’m pretty sure identifying them is more fun, though.  I don’t do the foreshadowing dance anymore, but I still get a burst of joy every time I recognize it on a first read.  That’s a lot of mileage considering I was in primary school when I learned of it.  But as a writer, I don’t foreshadow, I announce in advance.  Sigh.  Sophistication is a bitch.

Why give me comprehension without the skill?  That’s fucking mean.  But I’m not complaining, just rambling.  I’ve managed to put off this short story for most of my life.  I guess it’s time to purge it.  I’m extremely curious about what comes after life if anything.  I’m mostly sure the answer is nothing.  The thing I like most about that possibility is its nature; there can be no regrets.  The itsy bitsy chance someone imagined it right, or even close, is still enough to get lost in for a while.  It bothers me a bit that I’m not grieving, though.  Does it mean I’m ready?  We’ll see.  I’m off to beat my drums.

 

 

 

 

I sent 16 of my own men to the latrines that night!

My therapy session on Tuesday left me feeling reflective.  We talked about my family members who have died.  I shared with her why I cried for a year after my brother died, and told her about him.  I think she really understood why I loved him so much.  I had never done that before.  Even thinking about it now has me smiling.  It was incredibly healing.  He visited my dreams last night, but I don’t remember the circumstances.  Just that I was glad to see him, and was aware it was a dream.  He’s never far from my thoughts.

I’ve also shared with her aspects of my relationship with my Mom that have previously been private.  I feel like my Mom is with me 24/7.  Not a physical presence, but a lifelong acknowledgement.  For my entire life, I’ve been in an ongoing internal conversation with my Mom.  It’s so seamless, it’s like breathing.  Even before I could speak, I thought my thoughts to her, and accepted her words as her answer.  It wasn’t always logical, sometimes was hilarious, but was most often effective.  When I left to serve in the Army, I continued.  I had a good idea by then what my Mom would say in many situations.  When we talked on the phone, I would report the incidents in which I used her “voice” to guide me through a tough situation.

It probably hasn’t been helpful when I talk to other people, though.  I struggle with conversations.  It’s a sophisticated dance between controlling my anxiety, and comprehending/staying present well enough to remain on topic in real time.  In my eyes, I come off to others as having a low intellect, and an intermittent ability to connect with others.  I know that in actuality, I have a high intellect, and suck at conversations.  I do far better when I can type versus speaking aloud.  But texting is ideal.  I text back as soon as I notice.  This could be immediately, or a few days.  The time it takes to respond means nothing negative.  I have 2 phones. I only give out the number for 1 of them.  The other is an extension of my brain.  I don’t even know the number for that phone.

Therapy is exhausting, but that’s not really a con.  I’ve been sleeping regularly.  Every single night I sleep now.  For between 4 and 6 hours.  I haven’t done that since I was in the Army.  It’s a combination of a new sleeping med, having the mountain on my back excised, being drained from therapy, and not being afraid to go to sleep.  The fact that I can run outside now is probably contributing as well.  I like the awake me better.  I despise feeling sluggish.  It’s a panic trigger, which becomes a twisted level of hell, Dante style, when I don’t sleep.  Fuck that.  So I’m pleased with how it’s going.

I just found out that Prince is dead.  I’m going for a run.

Disability Day of Mourning

Today is Disability Day of Mourning.  There were lots of posts on Twitter.  There was a list of disabled people who were murdered by family members by date, name, and cause of death.  I skimmed the list to see if the little girl who lived across the street was on it.  She wasn’t.  Her name was Rachel, and she was 9.  Her mom took her into their basement and shot her, then herself with a shotgun.  Rachel was Autistic.  My sister, Heather, was her babysitter.  Naturally, the whole neighborhood was shocked.  Murder is not an acceptable way to cope with disability.  There are no excuses.  Nobody has the right to steal someone’s life.  Especially not that of a child.

Even when I was serving in the Army, I firmly believed that killing someone is wrong.  I didn’t claim conscientious objector status, because it wasn’t an issue for me.  There was only one incident in which a weapon was fired intending to hit me.  That weapon was practically a relic, and it’s shooter was only 15.  Of course I didn’t return fire.  I told on him, and he got smacked by his grandfather.  I got an Article 15, but it was just company grade, and not my first.  That Iraqi boy’s life was totally worth 14 days of extra duty and restriction.  Other than that, I was what is commonly referred to as a “chairborne ranger”.  I spent the majority of my military career in various schools.  I enjoyed it.  My motivation came from finding out that in the event of chemical or biological warfare, the first person required to remove their protective mask and gear was the person least mission essential.

I didn’t want to be that person, so I made sure I had crucial skills.  I eventually became the NBC NCO (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Noncommissioned officer).  That alone pretty much guaranteed it wouldn’t be me.  The often denied chemical and biological agents used in Desert Stormy by Saddam Hussein caused a lot of people to get sick, and some passed it on to family members.  It’s only recently been acknowledged by the VA.  They tried to pull a Vietnam/Agent Orange again.  Fuckers.  It takes 10-20 years for the VA to overcome denial.  Unfortunately for Vietnam veterans, it’s apparently a recurring condition, as they’re dumping programs for them left and right of late.  Fuckers.

I don’t regret my service, though.  I learned some crucial lessons.  I learned that maintaining American freedom is not the reason we’ve participated in wars since WWII.  That’s just the lie that gets suckers like me to volunteer.  It works well when you couple it with the bullshit they teach in public schools.  I was 17 when I shipped out for basic training.  I was a young, naive 17-year-old with an extremely sheltered childhood and undiagnosed Autism.  I bought into the whole “protecting my country’s freedoms” line.  This is an embarrassing admission in hindsight, but I joined the Army because I wanted to be a soldier so I could help prevent war.  My high school debate training left me thinking that I was good at stating my case, and convincing others to adopt my views.  Shut up.

So it was an eye opening experience, but one I needed.  I literally grew up in the Army.  It was so painful to accept the fact that America isn’t the best country ever.  That we have a bloody, horrific past, just like pretty much all other nations.  That as a nation, America is a teenager who hasn’t yet figured out where she fits in on the world stage, and has shitty boundaries.  I’m sure plenty of other people had this figured out by age 17, but I didn’t.  It was like finding out there’s no such thing as Santa Claus all over again.  I remember watching CNN, and being floored by the fact that they were lying their asses off.  I had assumed if it was on the news, it was true.  Shut up.  So yeah, I had to grow up.

I also learned how to embrace and love hard, demanding physical labor.  The feeling of being completely exhausted, and barely able to walk after a hard day of work is so good.  I learned that my capabilities are far greater than I ever imagined.  I learned how to cope with incredible fear.  I shake, cry, hyperventilate, and emit strange moaning sounds when I’m extremely afraid, and I can still function despite it.  The first time I experienced this was when we had to throw 2 live (REAL) grenades over a wall in basic training.  We stood inside a bunker with a thick plexiglass window to observe those who went before us.  Every time, we’d duck for cover when the shrapnel flew at us and embedded in the plexiglass.  It was loud, it smelled badly, and I was terrified.  I was in the middle of the line, and when it was my turn and I was handed 2 live grenades to put in my LBE pouches, my legs were like Jello.

I walked so carefully and slowly, trying to make sure I didn’t trip.  It was a short distance to where my Drill SGT waited by the wall.  We were told to throw them like a shotput, not a baseball.  All we had to do was pull the pin, and project the grenade over the top of a wall that was probably around 10′ high.  It was a very simple process.  However, our Drill SGTS told us the horror stories of the Private who threw the pin and kept the grenade.  When I finally made it to the designated spot, I pulled out the first one, pulled it’s pin, and threw it as hard as I could.  It probably went about 2 feet beyond the wall.  Then my Drill SGT grabbed me and shoved me down against the wall, and lay over me.  This was standard procedure.  I got back up, and started crying.  I asked if it was okay if I just threw the one.  It was not okay.  So I threw the other one pretty much exactly like the first one, bawling my head off the whole time.

Another important lesson I learned in the Army was how to let go.  How to let go of people, stuff, and places.  I had friends who got orders to move to other countries.  I literally lost everything I owned when moving back to America from Germany.  I lived in Texas, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.  I went on field problems in 29 Palms, California, and Yuma in AZ.  I went to basic in South Carolina.  Suffice to say, I’ll never be a hoarder.  I don’t allow myself to get overly attached to objects.  There are other important things I learned from my Army experience, but these are the ones that remain helpful.  There.  I’ve managed to refocus in order to prevent my grief over the murders of so many innocent disabled people from crushing me.

The sea was angry that day, my friends

Today was slow.  I had bad nightmares last night, and still remembered them when I awoke.  I hate when that happens.  The dreams involved family members who have passed away.  Only they were still alive in my nightmares and were rejecting me as a sibling/daughter.  I analyzed it, and have decided it means I feel betrayed by my family members who have died.  It’s proof that I’m still experiencing grief in my subconscious.  The only death that I experienced externally was that of my brother Steve.  When my Mom, sister, and Dad died, I didn’t react in a way I can identify.  Certainly not in the way I responded to losing Steve.  I fell apart completely when he died.  My entire life came to an abrupt halt, and I cried or was on the verge of tears for a whole year.

I remember wanting to hunt down the surgeon at the Mayo Clinic and kick his ass for letting my brother die.  When my Mom died, I felt numb for a long time.  When Heather died, I felt angry.  When my Dad died, I felt alone.  But I didn’t express those feelings.  They all died over a period of five years.  I still have other siblings, but my relationship with most of them is good but distant.  Most of them were grown up by the time I came along.  I was very close to Steve and Heather when growing up, and after becoming adults.  When I left for basic training, Heather was the only one still living at home.  She moved out on the day she graduated.  She was fed up with racism and didn’t want to spend another day putting up with it.  Her experience was different than mine in that regard, even though we were only a year apart.

Most of the racism we experienced was subtle.  This meant it went right over my head for the most part.  When we were the only ones not invited to a birthday party, or when we exchanged gifts at school, and Heather got a wrapped, empty box, it didn’t occur to me that it was because we were black.  In high school, a few black families moved to town, and Heather dumped all her white friends and hung out with the new black kids exclusively.  I remember feeling like she was mean and racist to do such a thing, but she vehemently disagreed.  She entered her first abusive relationship while in high school.  Her boyfriend was the first and last person I ever fought with the intention of killing.  He punched her, and she had hearing loss and TMJ as a result.  I saw red when she told me.  It was the angriest I had ever been in my life.  I took a baseball bat and went to his house.  I walked right in without knocking and proceeded to beat him with it.  I told him if he ever hit my sister again, I would kill him, and meant it.  It scared me how angry and violent I became.

When I was in the Army, stationed in Germany, Heather called me and told me her boyfriend beat her with his belt.  It took every ounce of discipline I possessed to refrain from getting on a plane, going there, and killing him for it.  It made me feel like I was going insane because I couldn’t protect my little sister.  As I was pacing and raging, it hit me.  Heather knew I couldn’t come there and protect her when she told me.  She told me because she needed to know I loved her enough to want to murder the fucker who beat her.  When I realized this, I was able to calm down.  I begged her not to let that fucker into her home ever again.  When she realized I was weeping, I think it registered with her that she was hurting me too by allowing psychopaths in her life who did nothing but rob and beat her.  It all felt very twisted, and beyond my ability to fully grasp at the time.  In hindsight, I don’t really understand it any better.  But I do remember the murderous rage I felt when someone hurt her.  I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I began calling her more regularly and checking in on her.  When she would tell me about some cute guy, I would ask her if he had a job.  When she said no, I’d advise her not to bother with them.  It was a turning point in our relationship.  I was finally the big sister, and she valued my advice.  When she had a job that she didn’t like, she asked me if she should quit.  I asked her if they spelled her name wrong on her paycheck.  She said no, then we both laughed.  I told her that a job is a means of earning money, and nothing more.  Just do what you need to do to the best of your ability, and don’t expect it to be fulfilling.  I told her if she wanted a career instead of a job, she’d have to get more schooling.  So she started going to university part-time, and eventually got a degree and a position she loved.  She kept a journal that was given to me after she died.  In it, she talked about how she looked up to me.  I treasure it now.  Whenever I feel like I’m failing at life, I read it.

I miss the times when she’d visit, and we’d laugh until our faces hurt.  I miss being able to pick up the phone, dial her number, and say something like, “remember the dent?” Then hang up, knowing she would be on the floor laughing from just those 3 words.  I miss her picking out my clothes and making me look a lot cooler than I actually am.  I even miss her teasing me by telling me that I’m the whitest black person she knows.  I would give her a lecture on how culture and skin color don’t correlate, and why her statement was ridiculous, and she’d listen for a while and then burst out laughing.  I’d eventually laugh with her, and realize I was just as silly by taking it seriously.  I miss my Heather.

I know a secret

I got a little sleep.  Probably about 4 hours.  Good enough.  Two of the women I follow on twitter lost a parent yesterday.  I know how horrific that can be, and both are completely leveled by it.  I think one of the worst parts is the disbelief that you can survive without them.  It’s really hard to have the rug you’ve been standing on your entire life yanked out from under you.  It can make an adult feel like a helpless child instantly.  Intellectually, you berate yourself for feelings that don’t feel age appropriate.  But emotionally, it’s exactly how it feels.  It takes a while to make that final step forward, and recognize the fact that you will be able to go on living, even after your parent has died.  By a while, I mean a long time that can’t be measured in clock time.  The healing is internal.  The process of becoming your own parent is scary, painful, and hard to wrap your mind around.

But it can be done.  I know this because I did it.  Eventually.  And with much reluctance.  Because it’s not fair for parents to die.  They should live as long as their offspring.  With some exceptions, parents are a necessary support system for feeling okay about living on this world full of hatred, ugliness, beauty, and delight.  Life is hard.  Life without a parent is harder.  Being your own parent and continuing to go on sucks.  It’s a victory, but it still sucks.  Because you’ll always have that painful scar from the loss.  We all live with pain.  But that doesn’t make it suck any less.  I feel strong empathy for my friends who are suffering so much right now.  I can’t do or say anything to help them feel better, no matter how much I wish I could.  All I can do is acknowledge the ache in my own heart, and remember how vulnerable, and leveled they are now, and will be for a long time.

I think we are all connected on an invisible level.  I believe this, because I want to believe it.  I’m not religious by any stretch, but I do feel a connection to all that is alive.  I know that any love and good thoughts I aim in the direction of another will be accepted on some level.  I’m glad of this.  It allows me to share the love in my heart without the physical connection that causes me so much anxiety.  I always picture people in my minds eye as children.  I think we’re all children internally.  I think adulthood is masks and responsibilities.  Shhhh.