Saturday, March 29, 2008

A new beginning

Yesterday I had an appointment to get my hair cut at noon. I was taking stuff to Habitat for Humanity; so I drove the truck. And, I turned on the radio. The ad was for the place where I was getting a haircut - and they were having a benefit for Breast Cancer. So, I arrived there. Found that two of the people there have breast cancer and one is not doing well. So, I had my head shaved in support of all the people who have had breast cancer.

And, I had my head shaved because I have a new beginning. Yesterday, I began more in-depth therapy after answering that blasted questionnaire about the important events of every five years of my life. Seems I had forgotten to tell my therapist that I was raped at 14. Hmmmmmm. It's age, really it is - a simple brain fart.

Anyway, at least my head is nicely shaped. And, the face will decrease in roundness (somewhat) as I continue to lose weight. Not sure what will happen to the jowls and the wattle under my chin. LOL Wonder what color the hair will be that grows back.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why I call myself a Christian

Ummmm. Today a friend sent me a forward entitled "When I say I am Christian", and it was lovely. But, when I say I am Christian, I mean that following Christ's teachings makes more sense to me than anything else. I mean that I believe the Christ is God. I mean that I'd rather take the Judeo-Christian history and writings and try to make sense of them for the here and now than to write my own concept and history of God. It's easy to say.

Living out my Christianity is much more difficult. Love your neighbor. Okay. That's easy, I see him about twice a year and he's a good neighbor. Not difficult. Christ as manifested in Jesus says that I have to love my enemies, too. Doesn't say I have to agree with them, be around them, tolerate their insanity - but Jesus does insist that I love them. I love Osama Ben Laden. He's a child of God, however insane I may believe him to be. He deserves the love and grace of God just as much as I do...though i freely admit that I've never ordered the murder or destruction of anyone. My anger does not rage that strongly. I have wished someone would have a bad day, but I don't think that counts as more than a venial sin or simple idiocy - as if to believe that I had that much power.

Power, that's what living my Christianity is about. Power, what I have, how I use it, where I bestow it, how I rein it in, when I turn it loose. Okay, I tried to skip what I mean by this business of power and Christianity. In this world each person has a certain amount of power. For some power is perseverance - the squeaky wheel gets the oil. If enough people write to congress, congress eventually listens. That's power.

Power is being aware of all the benefits I have had in my life because I am white and intelligent and well educated (in spite of having gone to school in Mississippi). That's when I learn to rein in the power that I have.

Power is about choices and how I can help others have choices. My personality is usually an assertive woman. I am strong, and I can speak well and for others who have no voice or are ignored. I am compelled by my Christianity to open my power to be used by those who are mistreated, ignored, hungry, homeless, powerless.

Power is abused by every one of us. Ted Kennedy in settling his complicity in a woman's drowning. Presidential candidates in slinging mud at one another. Charismatics who draw people to them with false promises and use the people for their own ends. Fanatics, tyrants, ordinary white women, me.

Power gives a person control and choices. I like to think that I have control of my life. (Give it up, sharecropper, you know better.) See my rational self knows more than my emotional self sometimes. And, I like to think that I don't need to control, but, if I think that, then I have choices that keep me from being trapped.

My Christianity says that I have lots of choices. I can choose life or I can choose death - figuratively and literally. Death is the ultimate choice, but I have lots of choices to choose a slow death by ignoring the needs of others, but using my power for my own self aggrandizement. And, I can try to control others through my power.

I'm not about control (though I fight it a lot). As a Christian, I am about feeding the hungry (sending a godchild a grocery card, donating to a food bank, inviting friends for dinner and companionship). Hunger is not simply wanting or needing food. Hunger is a longing for love and acceptance, too.

So, dear friend who sent me the "spam" about Christian, I mean that I am called to live my life by using my power to benefit others. I am called to control my insanity so that I can be a living example of what is good and right. And, I am called to love not only my neighbors and my enemies but also myself. I am called to forgive as I am forgiven - freely, graciously, and without fear.

Being a Christian means that I take account of my life on a day to day basis. Praise myself for the good, rue the bad, accept forgiveness and go on to the next day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Someone chided me today about not posting - soooo

Tomorrow I get to see my psychiatrist and my therapist. I haven't had my bloodwork done as a baseline for the psychiatrist; so I'm not excited about seeing him.

As I enter into a deeper kind of therapy with my counselor, I have filled out innumerable pages of information about me and my family. the last three pages are divided into little sections - one for every five years of your life. You are supposed to note everything that was important to you in that five years - in less than 2 inches of typing paper space. I don't usually write small. Ha!

And, How do you remember what happened of importance when you were 36-40 when it's twenty-two years later? I completed this section and laid the paper aside. As I thought of important things in my life, I wrote between the lines and in the margins. I don't know if she'll be able to read all the jabbering, but she will have a fairly good picture of my life...well, except for some childhood years when I remember very little - and there's lots of space left to write in those blocks.

And, why does this matter?

I've been having emotional and mental flashbacks to bad things that happened in my childhood. For instance, we were eating our usual Sunday evening supper of bacon, eggs and biscuits (sometimes pancakes), and I remembered as I chomped on a good piece of bacon that I didn't particularly like eggs in my childhood. We always had eggs; somebody in the neighborhood had chickens even after we got rid of ours. And, I always had biscuits, bacon(sausage or ham) and molasses for breakfast. However, some mornings we didn't have meat - some evenings we didn't have meat. And, Mom would offer me an egg. I don't like eggs without meat. Bleah. So, I'd eat my biscuit and syrup and catch the schoolbus.

Okay, this memory took about 10 seconds or less. And, I jumped into wondering if we were that poor - and, yes, I remember Mom buying me a new dress so that I would look like everyone else at times when we probably didn't have meat. She wanted us to look good even if we were dirt poor. Then I realized that I must have gone to school hungry sometimes. A biscuit and syrup isn't really enough breakfast for a schoolkid. But, I don't remember being hungry. And, how many other families were as poor as we were. I could think of only two that might have been.

Then I jumped from there to other times when Mom tried to keep up appearances. Dad was a drunk...a very talkative, and, by the time I was 13-15, a very verbally abusive drunk. He had hallucinations and delusions by then. And, he would declaim in a loud voice right after supper that he had seen me in some juke joint having sex with some guy or in a car by the juke joint. Places that he might have been at some time in his life, but long ago.

So, Mom would give me her car keys (a little 49 Ford named Freddie) and tell me to go away and come back after he was asleep. That was usually around 9 pm. So, I would drive the back roads of Quitman County, Mississippi, from about 7 until 9 - just to avoid my father's verbal abuse. Fortunately, I discovered that others were in similar situations - not people in my school, but other schools and other ages. We often gathered on the side of a road to shiver when it was cold and to talk and laugh and avoid talking or thinking about why we were there. But, sometimes, the roads were long and lonely, and I felt very homeless.

In the space of less than 30 seconds, I went from enjoying Sunday supper to crying and being afraid of being homeless (not likely to happen now - not sure about then).

There are other less graphic times of flashbacks when a word, a look or tone of voice triggers the emotions of "then" and I respond in "then" not "now". I'm getting better at recognizing some of these times, but mostly they catch me (and often my partner) unawares. And, they hurt. The feelings I feel hurt, and the way I respond hurts my partner. And, I want them to stop.

So, I've tried to write the important events of every five years of my life down on paper. And, I've cried a lot. I've hurt a lot - for me, my brother, my sister-in-law, my cousin, and my Mother. I don't know what pain they had. They are all dead except my cousin. I can't know what caused Mom to be as she was about appearances, but alcoholism wasn't really a word then - My Dad was the town drunk. He wasn't sick. No one knew about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and what World War II might have done to him. They only knew he was drunk. And, that was shameful.

That shame is punching me in the gut occasionally. It hurts as much now as it did then, and I want it to stop.

So, if I'm silent a bit, I'm just working on getting better and not hurting.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Night Musings

We have a new floor in the condo - vinyl that looks like wood - ash, I think. It's got some blue-gray streaks in it. Some Wal-Marts have it on their floors. We chose a slate vinyl in similar colors for the bathroom and laundry room. But, the installation was one of the poorest I have ever seen. Lisa arrived at the condo to find none of the furniture put in place - bookshelf in front of the sliding doors, dining room chairs in the guest room. I won't go into the details of our discussions with the flooring company owners or their installation person. However, nothing can be done about the lumps and bumps in the floor - or nothing that we are willing to do now. The furniture is back in place, the glue is mostly off the floors. The floor leveler is mostly off the walls, but the baseboards are still in horrible shape.

Welcome to Good Friday.

On a more positive note, the flooring is beautiful and greatly improves the appearance of the condo. Area rugs will help all of that. In a few months I will be over my anger and be content with the beauty and easy upkeep of the floors. They really are gorgeous.

And, we have a new kitchen range and vent hood. Replacing the countertops will be next...someday.

I am home and getting ready for Easter. Each year, I hide plastic eggs in the house and invite adults (usually women - this year we have one man who is coming) to eat lunch and hunt Easter eggs. I have made an Easter basket for each person - filled not only with some candy but with some totally useless junk and some wonderfully useful stuff like bag clips, sticky notes, scrapers, body lotion, cat treats, and the requisite Easter stuffed animal.

We are having baked ham, potato salad, cole slaw, corn-on-the-cob, and Laura is bringing a pecan pie. No pressure there, dearie! LOL. I have so many new places to hide eggs now that we have renovated the house. What fun that will be!!!

My internal clockwork is not running very quickly right now. It's anxiety - generalized anxiety. And, not sure I've mentioned this, I think I'm having some flashbacks to the bad times of my growing years. These emotions and thoughts affect what is happening now - so I'm in a different kind of therapy - one that will deal with the bad childhood adn growing years...and look at how that's affecting me/us now. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be taking my anti-anxiety medicine more often, but I forget to take it. So, I'm spending time anxious when I might not be if I'd taken my medicines. Bleah.

Today was so beautiful at the beach. We had a wonderful storm Wednesday night with lots of rain and wind, and the ocean was roiling. The pelicans were fishing Thursday morning in the troughs of waves that were easily eight feet high sometimes - mostly six footers with the wind whipping the tops of the rolls into wonderful mist sculptures that disappeared before I had time to think of what they looked like. Then the wind died down, and the ocean calmed down, and today has been so wonderful with the oceanside door open. I had a long period of aloneness with my knitting the ocean today. It was great to contemplate how little my problems are in the perspective of the ocean.

I'm back at home tonight. All is well. The cats are happy we are back. And, I am glad as well. Have a happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

He thinks too much

"Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much; such men are dangerous." Dangerous not only to others but also to themselves. Those of us who are alone so much tend to think too much. We live inside our minds, and minds are notoriously irrational. Just think about your dreams. Some dreams we can interpret easily - they relate to events of the day, concerns of the week, a recent happening or what you ate for dinner. Other dreams are bizarre and seem to have little relevance to anything. That's where we can go astray when we live in our minds.

Just thinking about God and praying silently in our own words can distort our perceptions of God until something jerks us back into the reality of The Other. We tend to anthromorphize God just as we do with animal stories. The reality of God is we don't know a whole lot about God. We do know more about how wishes us to act and live - and alone and in our own minds isn't it.

When I read the beginning of the "Big Book" in Alcoholics Anonymous, back when my father was trying to get sober and failed, I was amazed that the way to their "salvation" was to find another drunk and try to help. To seek out others, to put self behind the needs of others. Jesus said, "Inasmuch as you have done to the least of these, you have done to me." A maxim that's difficult to follow.

For the past three years, I have been living in my mind. Yes, I have contact with others on a regular basis, but not much. I am not "out there" doing things. In consideration, I have been quite ill. Now that I am better, I realize that I've been living in the mind of a crazy person, which is dangerous. My thinking is skewed to think only of me. And, I leave myself wide open for all the cantankerous and disturbing memories of bad events in my life. They were mostly in my childhood. I haven't acknowledged or taken responsibility for the bad events since then. Not my fault - all because I was emotionally abused as a child. Yeah. Right.

I've been depending on medicine and medication to lift me out of my quagmire of mind and body and deposit me on sane, happy and populated ground. Realizing this, I snort-laugh. How dumb can I be? How blind am I to all that I know and feel? This quagmire isn't going to get drier or smoother without my help. I can't sit here and knit and expect to be transported to another state of mind.

And, God. I've had what I thought were lots of conversations with God, times when I spoke, and times when I listened. It's possible that what I heard was my own voice from deep inside my mind telling me to wait, do nothing now. And, it's possible that God was working inside me to ready me for this moment of realization that now is the time to act. Not solve all the problems at once, but to inventory the situation and work toward resolution of the snags and peek through the doors that I've closed. I'm not ready to give up my isolation, yet. However, I think it's time I entered the world again...slowly. I'm fearful of doing anything too quickly...might be just my crazy mind steering me down the primrose path again.

Today is the first day of my new exercise program. I will get on the treadmill every day for at least 10 minutes. For me that's a quarter mile right now. I'm winded and breathing hard at the end.

Today is the first day that I will read prayers from a written prayer book every day.

Next week I may make more changes in my routine, but this is enough for today. Oh yeah, I recharged my iPod again, and music definitely helps. And, another thing - I just saw the osprey returning to the next across the creek as I was on the treadmill. Yahoo. Spring is here!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quit new medicine

The Cymbalta is causing jitteriness and inability to connect words. can't even knit. So, I will not take it in the morning. Psychiatrist appt is Wed. Not working tomorrow.

Think that I will ask psychiatrist about using exercise and music instead of anti-depressant if he thinks that anxiety is a more major problem than depression.

Think that I'm not thinking all that straight right now anyway. Good night.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

New Medicine

New psychiatrist, whom I like very much. New medicine added, Cymbalta. One medicine discontinued. Began taking cymbalta on Thursday. Now Sunday, am experiencing the jitters and inability to focus and hand coordination. I've been trying to learn some new knitting stitches and I keep dropping the needles and shaking when I try to knit. So, I thought I'd write about this.

I seem to be highly sensitive to SSRIs; so maybe the depression is not treatable that way. I also tried Wellbutrin with this same effect. An increased does of Prozac (currently 10 mg) did the same thing.

My insides feel as if they were shaking.

Other than that I feel pretty good right now. It's a beautiful sunshiny morning. Partner has gone to church; so it's very quiet. The creek emptied yesterday with some storm activity just offshore, and we had about 10 feet of sand from our seawall to the water. The stump that give us the gauge of how deep the water is was completely on land and additional stumps could be seen poking out in a line near the channel. At least we know more closely where the channel really is. The shoreline around the cypress trees was littered with logs and branches.

This morning the water is up some. Only half the stump is visible, and all the little pokies running out toward the channel are underwater again. As you might imagine, boating on a creek is an iffy proposition, but these little fishing boats just zip around. Of course, they have almost no draft at all - like our jet skis. But, the kayaks are best for poking into the nooks and crannies of the creek. You do have to watch out for snakes in certain places, and I've had some tell me that snakes have fallen out of the trees on them. I would think the snake would be as scared as me if it fell out of a tree. We have cottonmouth moccasins here. I am certainly cautious of them.

I do look forward to the water getting warm again. Our kayaks are the sit-on-top kind and have holes in the bottom for drainage; so I don't kayak until the water is warmer. A cold bottom is not my idea of fun. But, I have been known to jet ski fully wrapped in ski mask, hat, coat and long warm pants. Soon, very soon.

UPDATE: Am seeing psychiatrist tomorrow. Jittery symptoms better today.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Why I blog meme

Well, I've been tagged by Juanuchis for this meme.

Why I blog:

1. List three reasons for your blogging
2. List the rules
3. Tag three others with the thread

1. Three reasons why I blog:
I like to write.
I need a place to express my thoughts and feelings.
I type easier than I write; so this is my journaling.

2. See above.

3. I tag Wormwood's Doxy, Mystical Midget, and TTwo Fruits in the Sukka.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Religion of Family

I have a first cousin who was adopted into my family when she was four years old; I was sixteen. My aunt and uncle were so thrilled to have a daughter, though I had been their surrogate daughter for many years. The year she was adopted was the year after we left my father, the year after my brother died, the year after my nephew was born, the year after my mother made my brother marry the mother of my nephew...not all in that order. So, I wasn't particularly interested in a four-year-old. Finally, I wasn't the daughter of the town drunk; so I was enjoying my junior year of high school. I did see this adopted cousin several times over the next few years, and when I was 27 she came and spent two weeks with me. We had a good time. I think I've seen her twice since then.

She spent her after school time with my grandmother, who had been bitter about the troubles between my mom and dad. Consequently, I didn't spend much time with her. My uncle Myrvis lived with my grandparents and was an integral part of this cousin's life - as he never was part of mine. He and my Dad tried to out drink one another.

(I know this is rambling; hang in there with me.)

Myrvis is 89 years old now, and his health is failing rapidly. I knew enough of the relatives to follow him as he left his family home and moved into the Veterans Nursing Home and subsequently to an assisted living facility near his cousin, who cares for him. The adopted cousin did not know these people, and she has lost touch with my uncle.

This adopted cousin is not someone that I want in my life. She stole money from my aunt, was involved in drugs, birthed a child who was addicted and very much a problem in her teen years, and thought that I hung the moon. She chose her profession in life because that's where I was working the summer she visited me. She knew about my life as I grew into adulthood while I was totally uncaring of her existence.

As a thoughtful, caring, loving person, should I track her down and let her know where Myrvis is? What is my spiritual obligation to this family member? Myrvis was never terribly fond of this adopted cousin or me. I don't know if he would want to see her, and he doesn't talk on the telephone much; so I can't ask him. I asked the person who cares for him tonight; she said, "I don't know. You just have to do what you think is right."

So, what is right?

The religion of family. I want to pick and choose which members of my extended family that I want in my life. To a great extent, I believe that is a choice I can make even as a loving, caring person. I don't have to invite everyone into my life - that includes the ones who are family. Where do I get to set boundaries? What might be good for her, might not be good for me.

Perhaps I shall check the phone directory in the last place I knew she lived. Then, I'll make a decision. Meanwhile, I'm praying about this.

An hour later - I found a phone number that could be hers; I called, and I got no answer and no answering machine.