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.

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.

Missing Heather

I miss my little sister.  She’s in my dreams a lot.  So are my Mom, and brother, Steve.  A shrink would probably tell me that ‘I have unresolved feelings regarding family members who have passed’.  Then I would ask for my money back, because duh.  But then, I wouldn’t tell a shrink something so personal.  I reserve my innermost thoughts and feelings for total strangers on the internet.  That’s a joke, in case it wasn’t obvious.  I’m usually the only one who gets my jokes.

I remember this day.  I had a red tricycle.  This was our front courtyard and we would ride in circles around the tree in the center.  She was so adorable.  Her nickname was, “Smiley”.  Sigh.

This is me and Heather playing with the neighbor kids.  Heather’s little belly sticking out.  So cute.  Clearly, I was never into fashion.

This is the most recent photo before she died.  Someone on Twitter mistook a sarcastic comment I made earlier while playing a hashtag game, and stated I was to blame for the gun problem in America.  It hit me hard.  I lashed out and told him to fuck off.  I have since apologized.  I’ve since been crying, and I can’t stop.  I miss Heather so much.  I hate guns.  I hate that their main purpose is to kill.  Their second most used purpose is for practicing in order to kill more efficiently.  I know too well what it feels like to have someone you love suddenly ripped from your world.  I wish it had been me.

Death of a Teenaged Autist

I follow my local newspaper’s 911 tweets on Twitter.  On the first of this month, it stated a body had been found on the interstate just outside of town.  They were able to determine that he had been struck by a semi truck, and have since been looking for witnesses and the driver of the semi.  Today, I found out that he’s been identified as a 16-year-old boy from a local private high school.  He was unrecognizable, but identified by his shoes.

The cause of death is not officially determined yet, but his custodial grandparents suspect he was in the process of running away after an argument.  They think he jumped off a bridge in an attempt to land on the top of the semi truck, like he’d seen in movies.  He was autistic.  They think he saw it as a logical approach to obtaining transportation to see the Big Boy steam engine in Cheyenne, Wy.  This sounds like a credible explanation to me. I feel sad at his loss.  He was so young, and had so many trains to see in his future.  He will be missed, not only by his loving grandparents, but also by those of us who never even got the chance to meet him, and talk about trains, or any of his other interests.  Rest in peace, Jay Lavender.