Category Archives: human nature

Silence Is Not Always Golden


(January 5, 2016) You have the right to remain silent, but in this case, why choose silence? What is the motive for withholding from someone well-deserved praise and acknowledgement – especially one you call a friend? Is it passive-aggressive competition? Understand that when you’re dealing with me, it is a game you’re playing with yourself. And who are you to dictate who’s getting enough or too much praise?

True, there are drama queens who fish for compliments because their egos need constant stroking. I am not that. Yes, I’ve met “vampires” – online and in real life – who suck the light out of me and leave me only darkness in return. I think those types are the exception and not the rule, yet somehow I seem to attract them all, just like the many mosquitoes who find me tasty. But perhaps I completely underestimate the degree to which “selfie“-absorption has become the norm in our society. The internet has created a jungle of egos that forever engage in a game of the survival of the fittest. We are “brands” – commodities – trying to peddle our “wares“. But there are so many making the same noise! “Look at me! No, look at me!” Honestly, it’s an exercise in futility. “Branding” draws an ego response that, most times, is ugly and brutally cutthroat. The irony is that true achievers are blazing trails and living life in the real world. Being king or queen of the internet means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Then there are those who suffer unrequited praise and acknowledgement. This is the hell where I’ve dwelt my entire life. I give it, but it’s rarely reciprocated. Praise and acknowledgement elude me – to the point where I am flat-out ignored. It’s intriguing, but bizarre. I try to understand why people withhold encouraging words from me. It has cut deeply in the past. After nearly five decades of it, it’s chipped away at my self-worth and it’s taken me this long to finally realize the damage that was done. There’s been so much negativity piled on. If words were weapons, people would see the scars and disfigurement. Fifty years is a long time to right the wrongs. I have nothing to build upon except my own withered warrior spirit, since others choose to withhold words of encouragement for whatever reason. With me, a little bit of sincere encouragement would go a long way.


But why? What is up with that? Why is this my lot in life? Is my presence so great that it instantly threatens those around me online and in real life? Seriously? Relax. If only you knew how difficult it was for me, an INFJINFP, to assert myself in the company of more than one other person, you’d see how totally ill-informed your assumption is. Or worse, do you see this weakness in me and choose to exploit it? Bad on you!


I was never one to feel like life was one big competition. Frankly, I never saw a “prize” worthy of it, even as a child. Early on, and without realizing it, I adopted the Buddhist philosophies “there’s room for all kinds of greatness in this universe” and “what’s yours can’t be taken away!” We are all individuals with our own unique gifts. These gifts and talents are our birthright! Everyone is part of the whole. (We just haven’t evolved to this egalitarian state of being just yet). Keep calm and do your own thing. I persist, though at times it seems all for naught.

In this jungle, I find myself unintentionally raining on others’ parades just by being in the room (or on the social media platform). One of the biggest myths people have about the amount of praise I must certainly receive daily – if not hourly – is that I get more than my share. Because I’m attractive, people think my life has been a cake-walk and that I’m always surrounded by good vibes and good words. But, in fact, the complete opposite has been true! Or is it coming from an even darker and more desperate place? Do these withholding people want to deny me my just desserts, so as to kill my sparkle and watch me fizzle and die? I shield myself and I keep smiling and pressing on.


I’m not being conceited for stating my truth, based on decades of observation. I’m not self-absorbed because I question the motives of those around me. It’s such a valid observation that a team of psychologists deemed it worthy of a study. Of no surprise, in the 22 sample scenarios where withholding for various reasons was reported, all involved interactions with those closest to us – family, friends (online and off), roommates, spouses and fellow employees. After reading the study I was thankful not to be the only who’s dissed by an army of those who withhold.

A January 4, 2013, Psychology Today blog post offers reasons behind the withholding phenomenon so that we who are dissed may better understand what motivates people who withhold. The reasons are pretty much what I expected, with jealousy and ego being the main culprits:

Recognition-deprived” people feel uneasy giving kudos to another because it possibly opens old wounds of their own. I grew up “recognition-deprived” but was an early adopter of The Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated.

A competitive person who needs constant approval may feel that giving praise and acknowledgement to another somehow demeans them. To them, complimenting another is like admitting that they themselves are inferior, inept and defeated. Beyond that, there are those who only feel good when they tear another down. I’ve already said I’m not competitive. Because of this, people take credit for my observations, contributions and witticisms. I have matured out of the whole “tearing another down to feel good about myself” mentality. I learned that in actuality, you’re tearing yourself down.


A person who grew up with praise-withholding parents who justified their deliberate withholding as a way to keep the child from becoming big-headed, conceited, cocky or egotistical, may actually feel that this is the proper way to be. I grew up in that deliberate praise-withholding atmosphere. I was called self-centered if I gloated for even a minute. Sometimes I’d get an ugly, guttural, “Oh, yuck!” or I’d have the beaming light slapped out of me. Personally, I never believed that paying the ugly forward would relieve me of it.

People in denial about their own unmet need for acknowledgement may deny others when praise is due. “Commending a friend, when appropriate is a responsibility (in fact, it is a ‘requirement’) in a close relationship,” the blog post states.

Those with a strong sense of entitlement (through parental spoiling) expect recognition and take it for granted. They are the self-centered ones. They withhold, but expect praise. Others are not so eager to oblige these types.

All of which is to say that your not being acknowledged likely says much more about the other person that it does about you – or your worthiness,” the blog post says. “So in such situations you’ll be far better off once you learn to be content simply through becoming more adept at self-acknowledgement.” Well, wouldn’t you know it? This is the place where many of us get stuck. It’s especially difficult to build yourself up to this higher conscience on your own.

Crying inside over withheld praise from those you’d think would give it to you freely because they genuinely cared about your well-being is not a weird emo kid thing. Receiving praise and acknowledgement for a job well done validates us. Giving sincere encouragement to someone who is depressed and struggling gives that person a glimmer hope. There is not one person who doesn’t need lifts like these every so often. And really, how hard is it for one to help a fellow human in need when nothing is required but kind words?

Alas, as commodities in a capitalism run amok existence, fear is instilled upon us that there is not enough to go around, so you better grab what you can however you can. Sadly, we must toot our own horns and beat our own drums, even if no one hears them. As the blog post reminds us, “Ideally, you goal should be to feel unconditionally good about who you are independent of any external ‘favorability meter’. …” The blogger psychologist offers up a link to a solution – The Path To Unconditional Self-Acceptance.


Yes, self love is crucial to our well-being. I’ve known it for awhile now. It’s eluded me like encouragement and acknowledgement from others has. And still, there’s a small part of me that can’t help but be hurt and resentful toward those who chose to withhold, even in my darkest hours. I can’t help but dream that when I do receive acclaim from a large audience in a bigger arena, I will want to dis those who have dissed me. There would be resentment for the sudden interest to be accommodating when there were years of silence. “How dare you all!” I will think to myself. A few kind, simple and sincere compliments would have cost you nothing and given me everything when I needed it most. I know. It’s not very zen of me to feel this tinge of vengeance. Someday I’ll get past it, but right now the hurt is still too great.

In the meantime, my inspiration has been revived by the most unlikely source – a pop song, if you will. … The gorgeous Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off!.

There’s learned wisdom in Swift’s happy little ditty. I’m sure she’s met major opposition by the army of the jealous and the withholding. But she rose above it! We all have this power to overcome within us. Swift embraced her goddess power early in life. And she shares her gift with us, so that we who are still seeking may dance, release, enjoy, overcome! Thank you, Taylor! Keep on keepin’ on, love.

Taylor Swift

Musician Taylor Swift poses for a portrait in West Hollywood, Calif. on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010. Swift’s new album “Speak Now” will be released on Oct. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

… But I keep cruising, can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music in my body and it’s gonna be alright

‘Cause the players gonna play…
And the haters gonna hate…
Baby, I’m just gonna shake..
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heartbreakers gonna break…
And the fakers gonna fake…
Baby, I’m just gonna shake…
I shake it off, I shake it off …

~ Taylor Swift, partial lyrics of “Shake It Off“.

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V For Victory?

(October 4, 2015) My husband is cheating on his girlfriend. I’m not joking. Sometimes the weirdness of life just writes itself – the comedy of errors in high def.

However, I’m not laughing … yet. Instead, my disgust has risen to new heights, it disturbs me so. And I’m perturbed that I’m so disturbed by it. The pang of this discovery hit me like the jab and twist of a dull knife – THE dull knife that has been lodged in my side for years now, the one I thought I’d finally become numb to.

But not so. I asked myself the tough questions: Why does this fling bother me? Why should I care? Do I regret the ending of the relationship but pretend not to? Am I jealous of who the new fling is? Or has my pride thoroughly been shaken and my ego wounded? Why does it bother me so? The questions ran a loop in my head for 24 hours as I sought to be honest with myself, even if it stung. Perhaps this was my opening to remove the knife from my body once and for all. Why did I just leave it there in the first place? Had I not healed and progressed as much as I thought I had?

I was doing so well, or so I thought, cutting verbal contact with him the day my big, sweet, special, beloved, ginger, boy cat crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on July 11, 2015. I’m still grieving for him and the two others I’d lost – the ex-neighbor man’s orphans – all within a two-month period. But the trauma of the abruptness and sudden mysterious illnesses and deaths of my kitties shattered all that was unnecessary in my mind. It felt like then was a good time to cut the pretenses that me and the almost-ex were friends. Nope. Friends like those made me want to be alone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I certainly wasn’t in the mood for his “obligatory” condolences. He had turned a cold heart to my kitties once the girlfriend situation was an official go. It was bizarre and sad. The kitties didn’t understand the coldness.

I was adapting well and filling my time during that time of very little contact. I updated my resumé and sent out some queries, that have since been rejected. But some contact had to be maintained via email because no one can just can’t go ignoring the bills. I’d itemized some things and sent an email notice, which got ignored. After a few days I sent another saying it was uncool to ignore my emails and to make me feel like I was begging. He finally texted a response the other day, saying he took care of business. Then he asked how I was doing, since it had been so long that we last spoke.

I was fine, I replied, busy transcribing my poetry so I could organize it and enter the manuscript into a contest, which I did. It was poetry I’d written 30 years ago – stuff he didn’t seem interested in looking at when I mentioned them in the beginning of our relationship. I replied to him that in reading those poems while transcribing them, I thought some were surprisingly good, while others were like, “meh.”

“You are your own worst critic,” he texted back. “You are a good writer.”

As I continued on with a few more texts, including thanking him for the compliment, I realized that his responses came fewer and farther between. He must have been preoccupied by another because he’d stopped in “mid-sentence.” I figured the girlfriend called and he opted to show her some respect by not subjecting her to the constant buzzing of his endless text alerts. (Vibrate mode is not very quiet!). I told him once he was worse than a 13-year-old with the texting. He could barely converse with me in real life when he came to visit. Personally, I’d rather stay mobile and talk hands free than be stuck having to stare at the screen.

The whole text encounter simmered in the back of my mind for the next 24 hours. I didn’t understand why it nagged at me. This should not bother me to this degree. Yet it made my stomach ache. The next day I checked the phone site, which I hadn’t done in a long time! I saw that I was sort of right. Texts began with the other precisely when I thought they had – that point where I was basically dropped in mid-text . The predominant phone number on the bill was the real shocker. It was the fling’s number, not the girlfriend’s, that filled page upon page of the phone bill. The texts with the fling that evening led to a long phone call. While he was texting and chatting it up with the fling, the girlfriend called! A kind of long conversation with her, then back to texting the fling. None of this should have bothered me, yet I obsessed over it.

Come to find out, the text exchanges between he and the fling are daily, for hours on end, usually in the evening and lasting into midnight some nights. The massive data amounts listed between the texts were probably FaceTime® video chats. Their video conferencing escapades probably centered around a lot of tits and ass, six-pack abs and v-spot shots – exhibitionists that they both are. Whichever of her ex husbands or boyfriends forked out the dough for her overly-sized fake breasts did her and the rest of the female population no favors. Her reputation for barraging mostly married firemen with sexts of nudie and boobie shots of herself precedes her. She cares not one iota about the carnage left in her wake. He once texted me a selfie with him bare-chested, “getting ready to start the day,” it said. It was unprovoked, came out of nowhere, and I didn’t reciprocate. I thought nothing of it at the time. Now it makes perfect sense. But still, why did it consume me?

It was while images like those flashed in my mind, like a waking nightmare, that I thought back on my first encounter with the fling a decade ago. We were her customers in the little shop of horrors she managed, buying phones and a service contract. He’d met with her earlier but he needed my presence because it was my credit that allowed the purchase and contract of those new, expensive phones. The experience was uncomfortable for me and the blatant disrespect too much. Her customer service tactics involved ignoring the wife and leaning in toward the man with her low-plunging neckline “office” wear. No, I did not like her and I told him about it later. It fell upon dead ears. Their friendship was already blossoming and I felt like I’d interrupted a private running joke. Yeah, I had. The joke was on me.

“Nah,” he said. “We’re just friends. She’s friends with all the guys. Besides, what would she want with an old guy like me?”

I could always see past his false modesty. He didn’t wear it well. “You’re a man with an insurance plan! Age doesn’t matter! She and her child need the security! Besides, don’t you think [her employer] would be appalled at how she’s using that small-town phone shop as her viper lair?”

So, there it was, the truth, spilling out and leaving a big sloppy mess for me to clean up inside my head. Why did this newest and latest bother me so? I finally figured it out. Truth is, I was played! I married a cad. His need to seek adoration from every single woman he encounters was and is insatiable. His mighty ego needs a constant stroking. When the love hangover fades to sobriety, real life is just too incredibly boring for him. He savors the rush adrenaline junkies get  sneaking “innocent” flirtations with every woman who is not his wife. And he does so without conscience.

Oh, how we fought about these women. Oh, how he became so harshly defensive, telling me I was a sick and jealous person, which made me ugly. He felt entitled to “spread it around” like Johnny Appleseed. Basically, as long as he was bringing home the bigger paycheck, I should just suck it up, trust him, and greet him with a big hug when he came home. But I could not trust him. The man has no three-foot circle – the cone of lookie but no touchie. He is the master of mixed messages. He misleads women, making them think he is available and then feigns innocence when a woman tries to get close. To argue with him about boundaries was to dredge up something that would read like Bill Clinton’s testimony about his (non)relationship with Monica Lewinsky.


keepcalm-o-matic dot co dot uk

The most gut-wrenching part of it, I came to understand, was that after all this time I was right about the fling and all the other “women-friends”! It has all come to pass. I went through years of counseling with the issue still unresolved. I was gaslighted by him – made to feel crazy. I was broken and needed fixed. It was too much trouble for him to reassure me. He didn’t want to seem like an asshole to strangers (women) by bringing the niceness home to me instead of sharing it with the outside world. No, the ugly, insecure and verbally abusive part of him was reserved especially for me – and the first wife, so I was told.

This is a huge victory, but one that I am still absorbing. It’s not easy to accept that my marriage was not real – that it was all for show. It’s not easy to accept that I married a man incapable of real love and that I was too wounded to notice. But these recent revelations are beginning to change my life in a most profound way. I am starting to be  for the lessons he taught me. Never again. I am worthy of real and true unconditional love. Once that victory seeps into every molecule that combines my cells with the cells of the universe, I will forever revel in it.

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The Quicksands of Time

Not Anymore

(image via @drjoyce_knudsen, a master trainer in the fine art of personal development on Twitter®)

(June 21, 2015) I feel like a bit of a poser after that last blog post. My attempt to come across as empowered reeks of false self-bravado in my mind. I wish I felt that empowered. Lately, I repeat this to myself over and over again. “My happiness will not depend on someone else.” I try to stand tall but too often fall short. I try to roar my battle cry but can only muster a squeaky little “mew”. The “fake it until you make it” mantra has gotten old. I’m tired of pretending.

Just because I’ve painstakingly uncovered & identified the issues that slowly kill me everyday doesn’t mean I have the wherewithal to overcome them … yet. I’m beaten and battle-worn. Fear lurks from deep within. There’s something I’m afraid to come to terms with, or that I repress or deny. Perhaps the beast lies within the subject of this blog. I feel guilty for putting it in words – like maybe I’m wrong about it. It’s not easy to own. It’s unfathomable to comprehend.

Yes, I can accept that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea – OK, a lot of everyones. I got that now. So I strive daily to embrace my uniqueness. Sure, it would be nice to share with others our combined uniqueness. But c’est la vie. Right now I need to be my own best friend. I work hourly to coax out and nurture my gifts. I run interference minute by minute on the haters and naysayers – myself included. Once you get serious about working some law of attraction mojo into your life, you become aware of just how much negative self-talk is clogging up your mind. I lost count in the first half hour of how many times I had to knock down my negative self-talk with positive affirmations about my oneness with the universe. It wore me out!

I’m also OK with being single again. By choice, I’ve lived most of my life alone. As it stands, I’m still legally married. We’ve been living in separate towns for nearly three years now. (We led separate lives while in the same house for years previous to that.) So far that arrangement is working out great for him. He’s living the single life. He’s got the out-of-state girlfriend. He goes on mini-vacations so often he doesn’t have time to fulfill our dissolution of marriage agreements to ensure that he can buy me out of his pension. What he does is none of my business, he tells me.

Strangely, though, he feels entitled to know the details of my life. He knows I’m not in a position to get out much at this phase in my life. I have obligations to other living beings I must tend to daily. But I’ve started riding my road bike for therapy and to get back into shape after years of inertia. (Proudly, I can say I’ve done more than one 25-mile ride and think about riding my bike often. Eventually, I hope to do century rides and compete in races. But I digress.) If I mention an outing – which is usually a bike ride or errands – he has to know: Did I meet anyone? Did anyone flirt with me? What was I wearing?

I see that he likes the power his money holds over me. In his unspoken opinion, his money pays my way, therefor he owns me. It’s subtle and passive-aggressive. I have the most visceral lottery fantasies where I win $200M+, buy my name off our mutual assets and finally cut all ties, remodel my current home to make it an even better sanctuary and invest in a house in the state where I want to retire. I find myself begging the universe to make it so.

Then there is the scar that cuts the deepest: the damaging dysfunction of my family. I grew up in homes built on quicksand foundations. It’s the reason for my disconnect with self and the universe. My parents didn’t really want to be together. I was the thing that forced them together, tearing my mother from her homeland. This is the crux of how I was made to feel my entire life. My father wasn’t the least bit into fatherhood. He preferred drinking and gambling away the family money at the Elks Lodge. There were a lot of fights about that between them. Consequently, he was gone a lot even when he was home.

I was 10 when my parents divorced. Both remarried immediately. My father literally vanished from our lives after that. A move one state north was instant. My mother, step-dad, two younger brothers and I attempted a new start in a new place. On the edge of 15, I watched helplessly as my step-dad died of a stroke/heart attack right there in the hallway. He died thinking I was angry and resentful that he wasn’t my “real dad”. I never got to redeem myself with that one. By now, I’m sure his spirit knows how sorry I am.

Home life became a new and different hell after he was gone. I was the scapegoat for all the family’s woes. Fueled with a deep resentment, mom held back very little in her wrath against my very existence. There was palpable contempt in the air. What my mother doled out in my early childhood intensified in those later years. I was made to feel like “the other” – like I didn’t belong. I was unplanned, perhaps unwanted. I didn’t resemble anyone from her side of the family. … My academic accolades were blown off as no big deal. (I was a 4.0 student until I entered high school. I stopped caring by then.) I was told that I was incredibly selfish and unlovable. I was compared to neighbor girls, distant relatives and passing strangers, the main theme being: Why can’t you be more like so-and-so?

This is not one of those “blame the parents” rants. I see it all now with a critical eye – a situation to overcome. I’d forgive my mom for everything in a heartbeat and blame her for nothing, if only she would leave the past in the past and free herself of her resentments. It would set us all free! Since my separation and move to her town, our conversations have become downright toxic. She interrupts, talks right over me. She belittles my feelings of hurt or ill health. Unprovoked character assassinations never cease and cut deeper each time. It takes me hours … days to process the “poison” out of my system. The last ambush, over a month ago, was the last time we spoke. Two weeks into it I sent her an email saying that I loved her but couldn’t take anymore of the negative talk about the past. It was counter-productive. I told her I wished it were different between us. I got no reply.

It gets weirder. Since leaving my husband for his love of juvenile girls-gone-wild type party scenes and his complete need to be admired by every woman he encounters, my mom remains unfazed by any of it. She is fine with his abandoning me once I began chemo. I was probably being a bitch, she said. Her biggest concern over my impending divorce was not of my plight, but of losing contact with him. The worry subsided once it was clear this wasn’t the case. She made sure I knew it when she told me she didn’t need me to have contact with him. They were friends.

These days they talk and text regularly. I’m sure some of the main course for discussion is about what a fuck-up I am, with a side of feigned concern. The two of them “feasted” upon me regularly when we visited my parents. It was sly, subtle “gaslighting” stuff. It got so bad that I told the ex I wouldn’t visit my parents with him present if I was going to be ganged up by the two people in my life who should be treating me exactly the opposite. It stopped for awhile, then got worse after step-dad number two died.

My mother refuses to seem my ex with critical eyes. No. Those eyes are reserved for me. She’s happy that he’s found a new girl who is so nurturing and caring – things I’m not capable of, she says. She tells me I’m getting way more than I deserve from him – and way more than any man’s given her. She tells him he’s done enough for me already. He needs to make his new girlfriend happy. She is oblivious to legal and binding obligations no matter how many times I reminded her of them. She forgets we all suffered for what my father did to us. Nothing more can be said or done about it. Let the healing begin!

I truly think mom would be happiest seeing me lying in a hump – a pile of bloody, broken bones, quivering and whimpering at the very thought of living life. But there’s a lot of victim mileage to be gained when she speaks of how she’s tried, how she’s cared, but to no avail. I’ve got news for everyone. It’s not going to be that way. My happiness will not depend on someone else. Not anymore.

Keep on keepin’ on, fellow travelers of time and space.

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Filed under affirmations, awakening, divorce, dysfunction, empowerment, failed marriage, growth, human nature, law of attraction, life, mental health, narcissism, psychology, relationships

Alone Again, Naturally.

“show me a spark
directionless, i’m lost
light up the dark
& thaw the frost

throw me a rope
not the hangin’ kind
i need some hope
to free my mind”
~hmt 2/20/12

(June 15, 2015) Hello, it’s me. I thought about y’all for a long, long time. In my absence there has been some positive and forward motion, even if only seemingly superficial. There is still fear and doubt. There are still no clear answers to the question of who I am and how should I proceed with life. The confusion and uncertainty have me feeling as if I’m 54 going on 18 – out on my own for the first time with no direction or purpose. Perhaps the answers I seek are cemented too deeply by the density of the fears and doubts that have paralyzed me lately – even physically at times.

To exacerbate matters more in my quest to save myself from myself, I have no where to turn in the physical world but inward. I’ve been “in” for some time now and I guess I’ll be here awhile longer. The light within is still too dim to make sense of all the junk and the treasures hidden in the attic of my mind. There’s something of epic proportions waiting to let loose. I’m tiptoeing all the way back to childhood to identify and hone in on the hurt that needs to be caught and released. However, on the plus side, there is now some light where there was none before. For that I am grateful!

Floundering about in the muck desperately seeking salvation creates a hopeless cycle of neediness, rejection and self-sabotage. That heavy needy vibe hangs over us as we spin on our heels looking outside for answers. Then rejection by people for having come across as “too intense”. Finally, by whichever method of self-sabotage we choose, we indulge, thereby pushing people even further away. Back to square one … again. It’s a less than ideal existence. I’m in limbo. Fear and doubt have me cornered.

Synchronicity revealed itself in a tweet I came across the other morning by @leebokseong2, a Malaysian Buddhist poet and philosopher on Twitter®. It read:

“In a struggle … Each of us has to find his salvation
Each of us has to purify his mind
All done by oneself.”

It struck a chord with me so I retweeted it and followed that with my own thoughts:

“i can definitely vouch for the ‘all by yourself’ stmt. hard not to be resentful that no1 else gives a shit. finally over it now”

I’m “over it” only because I’m finally starting to accept the fact that I am my own salvation. I had to admit that deep down I was waiting to be rescued – for people in my life to do the right thing. I waited for any kind of clear and tangible rescue from the universe. None materialized. At times I resented the universe for leaving me stranded. Was I not a worthy person?

Early on, one of the most bizarre things I saw was that while in the throes of a painful major growth-spurt, people – friends and family included – tended to shy away or flat-out ignore me. Not all, but most. If they did acknowledge me, they withheld compassion and words of encourage. Small talk. Fake kisses and hugs. Not exactly what I was hoping for. Is my karma that bad?! Had I done something so unforgivable? Methinks not, but you never know another person’s level of unforgiving.

As an INFJ (take the Myers-Briggs test here) with INFP cognitive processes (find yours here!) and a highly sensitive person, how people regarded me came across as icy cold. In subdued earnestness, I tried to connect with people who sadly didn’t want to connect or reconnect with me. This past weekend reality hit me in a do-or-die sort of way. Why did I feel so strongly that I needed anything from anyone? And why was I so incapacitated when no one heard my cries for help?

I swore I was not going back to being that clingy little junior high girl who wanted so much to fit in and be accepted. I kept that sad little girl at bay all these years but after recent major losses and changes, she came creeping back. Decades later, I am beginning to embrace the fact that I AM ALL THAT I HAVE AND HAVE ALL THAT I NEED! The wait is over! I’m the heroine I’ve been looking for all these years! HUZZAH!!!

The world can be a brutal place for us misfits, sensitives and wandering souls. People don’t like broken things. It’s partly why any level of mental health issues are not discussed much in the public arena. None of us really knows what to do with a “wounded” person. So we add insult to injury by shunning them – or unintentionally patronizing them. I realize there are varying degrees of neediness and there are career drama queens (and kings) whose modus operandi is to suck the ever-livin’ life out of people. Those types don’t appreciate the concern others have for them. Their needs are insatiable. I’m definitely not of this lot and never was.

In fact, in the not too distant past I was strong and thriving. I was ambitious and energetic. I was funny and creative. I didn’t let jealous naysayers get me down … much. I reached out to those old friends, hoping they’d remember that old me and by reconnecting it would awaken that part me again. I hoped they’d make exception to my current state of confusion by offering kindness. A simple, but genuine, “You can do this!” would have worked wonders and been greatly appreciated. I now see deeper value in the words last year of a passing stranger – a sort of mantra I must adapt for myself: “If I had your looks and talents I’d be taking the world by storm right now!”

I believe our duty in life is to find – and live – our own truths and share our unique gifts. In doing so, we will one day all converge somewhere in the middle to share and grow together – as humans. As mammals. As inhabitants of Earth. As dots in this universe. To make this seemingly elusive dream easier we must desperately seek to be our own best friend, accept ourselves completely and unconditionally and know that we are as worthy as everyone else to live a happy life. Better late than never.

Love and light, spirit travelers.


Filed under awakening, divorce, dysfunction, empowerment, failed marriage, growth, human nature, life, marriage, mental health, psychology, relationships, wellness

Purgatory — Warning: Adults Must Be Accompanied By A Child In The Pool

(June 18, 2014) The ups and downs of grieving over my dead marriage and directionless life seems mostly to consist of downs. The couple of days of “victory” (peace of mind, strength and sureness) were fleeting and seen now only in the rear-view mirror of my mind. Now I’m back in the quicksand pit of self-pity. All that energy, drive and hope I mentioned in the last post, zapped! I have to push through the day just to get the basics done. Victory eludes me again and like a broken record I ask the universe repeatedly: Who am I? What is my purpose here? To what do I owe this displeasure? Why can’t I hang on to that peace, strength and sureness?

It’s truly daunting to wind up back at square one again. Even knowing that energy follows thought and that I can create my reality, I can’t seem to dig myself out of the sty that is the negativity that haunts me. I know I have to dig deeper — into the dark crevasse in my heart — to uncover, stare down the pain and banish it once and for all. Instead, this past week I’ve engaged in various destructive, empty avoidance behaviors, like watching too much TV and talking to myself on Twitter and Facebook. But a big, noteworthy plug here is that I’ve dawdled that time SOBERLY!!! Though I’m grateful that at least the momentum is sticking on that note, the cesspool of self-pity is about as bad as any booze hangover I’ve experienced.

So, back to the drawing board. How do I give myself a hand up to lead a more functional and productive existence? How do I summon the strength and courage to face the hurts in that dark place in my heart so I can finally put it behind me? What thing has its grips on me so tightly that I can’t seem to break free of it? How many times can I repeat to myself, “Be brave!”, before I feel I’ve gone off the deep end? I grasp for answers and the reply I get is, “What was the question again?” But I’ve stumbled upon the key to the dark place in my heart: forgiveness.

Yet another exhausting conversation with my mom — the first in more than a week — sparked my discovery. Mom preaches forgiveness all the time and tells me that the root of my problems is that I blame her for all of my problems. I need to find forgiveness, she says. But I find this statement the height of hypocrisy, because if there’s one person in my life who harbors a lot of deep resentment and anger, sadly it is my mother. For someone who says, “Don’t dwell on the past,” when it’s to her advantage, she throws it in my face every single time we talk. She engages in a full-on character assassination, telling me of my supposed ineptness as a human being, devoid of any compassion for anyone but myself. She uses this ugly false warped opinion of me to play the victim and gain sympathy from her friends. I drain myself playing the defensive and trying to refute all the poison she throws out at me. I don’t know what to say to get her to stop and look inside at the root of her own dark crevasse in her heart.

Today I told her that I would so easily forgive the past if it stayed in the past. Because I don’t roll over and accept that I am this supposed selfish person incapable of love for anything but my cats, there is emotional hell to pay. This is the kind of stuff she tells her friends and our relatives overseas but it couldn’t be further from the truth. My acknowledgment of a hurtful past is not me placing blame on anyone. But she can’t very well face, much less vocalize, the deep resentment she harbors for my father, the sperm donor who couldn’t take “no” for an answer. It might reveal that at the crux, she resents my ever being born. It seems I’m not the only one with mental housecleaning to do. But since I can’t even lead that horse to the water, I must find that oasis and save myself and hope that one day she finds it too.

Also disturbing about today’s conversation was that mom gloated on the fact that she spoke to my “soon-ish to-be” ex a couple of days ago. They chit-chatted about the new girlfriend and, by the tone of her voice, I could only glean that my mom actually told him she was happy for him! She also knew that he was coming down next week to officially tell me he’s moving on, face-to-face, he says, because he respects me. So he had informed me in a text. But wading in the murk of the trough that is the daddy of all mother-daughter dysfunction, it forced me to seek problem-solving answers.

I came across an informative article from the “Guide to Psychology” simply titled “Forgiveness.” I highly recommend reading it! A couple of lines stuck out, one being: “… even though someone hurts you and refuses to apologize, and even if it means that the relationship cannot be repaired, you can still offer forgiveness — for the sake of your own mental health.” The article defines forgiveness as “the refusal to hurt the one who has hurt you.” Forgiving requires empathizing with the one who hurt you. The “therapeutic task” mentioned in the article is to “admit all of your childhood hurt, not blame your parents, but to allow the light of honesty to heal all wounds.” Wow!

But, as with all great steps toward self-actualization, there are painful drawbacks to forgiveness and “one major psychological complication,” the article says. And that is: “You cannot forgive someone until you have fully felt the pain he or she has caused.” Voila! There you have it! Pain is unavoidable in growth. That is the life-saving homework I’ve been avoiding for decades. I’ve been treading the slimy waters of purgatory for so long that I fear grabbing hold of the barbed wire that’s been thrown out to save me. I’ve turned the hurt from others on to myself and it’s stunted my growth, my victory. But I have an idea that’s been brewing in my head for years — a sort of exorcism — that I’m ready to throw myself into wholeheartedly. The time has come. Victory is certain when this work is done. Because, seriously, I’ve come so far for it not to. I’ll keep y’all apprised of my progress.


Filed under alcoholism, awakening, divorce, dysfunction, failed marriage, growth, human nature, life, marriage, mental health, psychology, relationships, wellness

Hell-O Again!

(May 25, 2014) Almost two years later I shudder when I look back at my blog posts from The Great Chemo Days In The Desert 2001. It’s like someone else took over my mind and wrote those words. It’s like someone else took over my body and lived that life. Something deep within erupted. I’m still reeling a little from the fall-out. Likely, it was the “Riba Rage”, so common with the chemo drug Ribavirin – a sort of angsty truth serum. But the last entry punched me in the gut with its profundity. It’s the point where I remain stuck. When I wrote it I still had four weeks of chemo to go, but felt more hope and conviction than I do now. Or was it Ribavirin false bravado?

There have been many starts and stops since chemo ended on October 30, 2011. Mile-markers whiz by me as I continue going through the motions of restarting my life. A year later, still weak from chemo but “high” on Ribavirin, I moved to a new city. (Yes! Those chemo drugs stick around for a long time!) Once here, it was an unraveling of health issues, adding new alphabet to my already thick and chunky soup. There was the IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Then came the ISC/PBS (Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome). It was obvious my nerves were haywire. And then it was one step forward and three hobbles back with three back-to-back foot surgeries. It’s been almost a year since the first one and I’m still recovering from the last one, which healing still has months to go. On the plus side, I’ve made up for a lot of lost time both inside and outside my new home in these past two months with sub-par but adequate mobility and energy. How sweet it is!

But mentally, those mile-markers were merely illusions, as I have seemingly failed to move forward in that arena. The roller-coaster ride that is my marriage recently went off track and is now free-falling into an abyss. Within a month the Master of Mixed Messages abruptly went radio silent, cutting me off completely. With a little detective work, I find that it’s been a busy month and he’s rapidly moving on with his life with a new woman, “honeymooning” in Hawaii, cashing out his family’s trust in Utah and house-hunting in Colorado. Problem is, we’re still married — tied together by assets he’s done nothing towards liquidating because his priority is him and his next adrenaline rush. He hasn’t bothered to tell me what his plans are — or that he’s even got a replacement — but he’s shirking his current obligations, that’s for sure. He missed the past two alimony payments and paid only because I had to email him twice to remind him. He was out of cell range, he said. Yeah, Hawaii is far but not Third World. And now he’s missed this last one which is shooting red flags out of a canon right about now. I fear that all the muff diving and pillow talk has choked his sense of reason and he may yet walk away from his responsibilities to me, his “old” obligation, because he’s got the new one to hide behind. Anything is possible because the game has changed completely!

But I needed that big cosmic wake-up call. It’s clear now where I stand, all doubts shattered. My Karmic lesson is painful and has come back to bite me in the heart. I’ll never again fall for the sad story of the unhappily married man who sleeps on the couch because his ogre wife is a cold fish and it’s zapping his life of all meaning and he feels dead inside … except when he’s with me. Etc. etc. etc. It’s come full circle, that Karma. But in it I see a pattern emerging and I pity the new one. Hers will be a similar life played out, same as mine, when it stops being fun or she falls ill or is severely injured.

A segment in a true crime TV show grabbed my attention last weekend and momentarily pulled my thoughts out of its spin cycle. A man meets a new woman but has an “old” one but it doesn’t stop him from running off with the new one. After three years marriage he wants out because he’s bored and met yet another new woman. So he kills the “old” new one to be with the new new one. The criminal psychologist said that people who move from one relationship to another like this man are compulsive people. “… He’s easily bored, always seeks excitement … and treats people like objects.” A parasite must have a back-up host waiting in the wings before completely finishing off the current host. Yes, it’s a veritable scum pond out there in the dating and relationship world.

All in all, it was a necessary opening of the skies above and the earth beneath me. I’ll close my eyes, release my fears and plunge into the abyss. With any luck, I can ferociously flap my dusty, weary wings and rise like the Phoenix. It must be done. Thus the blog.

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Filed under #HCV, awakening, compulsiveness, divorce, dysfunction, failed marriage, growth, HCV, hepatitis c, human nature, life, marriage, narcissism, psychology, relationships

Love Me, Love My Dysfunction … Not! When Bad People Happen To Good People.

(August 2, 2011) I’m finally ready to release the ties that bind me. It’s got to happen! Change forces itself upon me like a wrecking ball. I realize now that it smacks of insanity to continue living as I’ve lived the first half of my life. Oh, but what a force I must reckon with. Like that tightly wound ball of rubber bands people build to amuse themselves, the layers are deep and made up of many parts, colors and textures. Peeling away at them seems endless. An occasional *snap* of a resistant layer of the bouncy ball sends me yowling in retreat. I get knocked down. I get up again.

At 18 I was out of the nest, escaping the responsibility my family thrust upon me after the death of my first stepfather when I was 13. As the rational thinker of the brood, I had an uncanny knack for finding solutions to problems. However, my attempts at rationality were fruitless. I got chided and criticized instead. I watched my family get caught in the web of dysfunction that haunts them to this day. Back then, I bought into it a little. Why me? Why was life so cruel to me?

Though I lived in fear of someone pulling the rug out from beneath me while out on my own, deep down I knew I was responsible for creating my reality. (I attribute it to all that Nietzsche I read at the end of high school.) Granted, I wasn’t happy with the cards life dealt me. When I was a child I was at the mercy of the actions of others. I didn’t have that “solid” foundation that others grew up with. I acted out. I saw life as pointless. Always an uphill battle. Little did I realize then is that this sort of dysfunction is more commonplace than not. Some of us are better at building illusions than others. We’re all living lies to some degree.

In counseling a few years ago, where I was given the task of “fixing” myself to save my marriage, the therapist told me that a lot of my behavior was “learned”. There was insecurity, leading to jealousy. There was victimization, leading to a self-imposed loss of control. And then there was guilt — anger turned inward — for what, I don’t know. Was it because I failed the impossible expectations? Was it my inability to save everyone from their harsh realities? Was it because I wasn’t the perfect little child, whatever that was? Over the past decades I mulled these thoughts in my mind countless times but never wanted to take pause to look at the truths they revealed. It’s not like I want to blame the parents. You only glean so much mileage out of that one. It’s up to me and me alone to realize, deal, make right and move on. I had to quit playing the martyr, reject responsibility for situations not of my doing and stand on my own two feet. This means for some harsh words, thoughts and analyses — harsh only because the truth hurts.

I have to undo all the silly expectations I had in life. There will never appear a knight in shining armor who will swoop me up and save me from all of this. There’ll be no big hand from the sky that reaches down to pat me on the shoulders and say, “There there. You’ve been through a lot. None of it was of your doing. With one fail swoop, I’ll make all the bad disappear now.” And really, I can only gain so much playing the victim. As a life plan, it’s a dead-end. A line from Naomi Judd’s “Breakthroughs” book, she says, “You’re allowed to be the victim only once. After that you’re considered a volunteer! Making better choices can make you a victor.” (Thanks to my friend LP for sending it to me! Take a peek at Naomi’s book on Amazon!)

In fact, many of the old clichés pop into my head during my downtime. We’ve heard them over and over throughout life but the words have no meaning until we’re forced to ponder their depths. “To thine own self be true.” Yes, I must love myself. I can’t be a good friend or lover until I accept myself, warts and all. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it.” No, I’m not responsible for any family member who repeats a cycle of dysfunction over and over. Whether an addict or another “helpless” victim, they make their own beds and must lie in them, just as I do. I love them. I wish them well. I pray they find it within themselves to take responsibility for their own actions and decisions. I help in whatever small way I can. But frankly, I’ve got a lot on my plate these days. I get no help. I ask for none. I expect none. I gave up on being rescued decades ago.

But tell me, why must we wait until we’re 50 and made a shambles of our lives before we figure it out? Why must we be put down by a disease before we slow down and see the truth? Why must we have a big tragedy, loss of life, home, loved ones before we see life for what it is — a series of decisions made by us and mainly us? I should’ve taken heed to this wisdom 20 years ago. But things come when they’re meant to come. The first half of my life I found it easier to drown my sorrows than deal with my reality. I see now that how I respond or not respond to what’s before me is a true indicator of what drives me. Am I a quitter? A victim? No! I know a complete 180 in my thoughts and actions is what’s needed now. Why, though, do rational thinkers get written off as cold and callous? Simply because people like their illusions. They’re used to them. They don’t like it when you tell them (a line from a recent Sears commercial): “I hope you brought your umbrella, ’cause it’s raining cold, hard facts up in here.”

Medical Update: Mom is recovering at home after a week in the hospital from her laparotomy. Prognosis is good. After researching my condition of dropping HGBs (hemoglobins) and RBCs (red blood cells), I found that national protocol requires a blood transfusion if your HGB level drops to seven (7). My gastroenterologist may have a protocol for what becomes dire and needs some sort of intervention, like, say, a HGB level of nine (9). I won’t find this out until I see him on August 26. The doctor who is supposed to cover his patient load was going to make me drive two-and-a-half hours to see him for 10 minutes to tell me this. Oh, yes, and I will complain on the 26th when I see my regular doctor. In the meantime, I have a blood draw on Monday, August 8. I’ll do what I did last time and have the results released to me from the lab itself. I also found in my research that my elevated Mean Corpuscular Value (MCV) indicates a Vitamin B-12 deficiency (eHow’s MCV signs, symptoms, remedies page.). I now have liquid B-Complex and liquid B-12 to hopefully counteract that. Unfortunately we must be proactive in our own care because of our insufficient wealthcare system.

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Filed under #HCV, awakening, chemo, chemotherapy, dysfunction, failed marriage, growth, HCV, healthcare, hepatitis c, human nature, life, marriage, psychology, relationships

Chemo & The Places Your Mind Will Blow: Beer & Loathing On A Front Porch In Desolation Desert.

(July 18, 2011) Ten weeks into chemo and not even half way through it yet, the accumulative ill effects I’ve heard about are becoming apparent. The pressure builds like that of a volcano just looking for that hole to blast through. All problems magnify like the annoying buzz of a flashing neon sign: Open All Day and All Night. My jaws clench and my ears ring much of the time. The top of my head feels as if it wants to blast off my head and splay brain matter all over the place. Throw in a sad existence in a dead marriage where I’m left to cope with the surges of chemo-induced anxiety attacks alone, I begin to see where one might be driven to that major red-flagged side effect of this treatment: suicidal tendencies.

As bad as this sounds, I’m not going anywhere! I have no intention of ending my life. Yes, at times I’m frustrated and in despair. I have no concept of my reality and what my future holds. My dreams seem overly ambitious and I feel that I’ll return to my sad pre-illness existence and all struggles will be for naught. I am nothing near suicidal. Quite the opposite. I have a pressing new conviction to finally live my life on my terms. It’s a concept not quite within my reach just yet.

The building pressure that each new Monday night injection brings ups the ante against my sanity. I have no outlet, no place to go to feel a part of the bigger picture. No, not here. The vibe is dead and the place culturally devoid. This is where lost souls come to die. Once people experience the undeniable brutality of the people in this unforgiving desert hamlet many become alcoholics, tweekers or mother’s little helper addicts. Yes, even the do-gooder cheerleader moms aren’t spared unless they brainwashed by their small-minded churches.

I felt like busting loose Saturday. Though my balance was a little iffy, my head abuzz and my ears a-ringing, I had to get out. I go days or a couple of weeks without seeing nor speaking to another human being. There are days that I must audibly eke out a word just to make sure my voice still works. My intention that day was to go to my usual family run old hardware franchise that sells Science Diet® cat food and then drop into my friend’s thrift store to visit and look at more stuff I didn’t need. Some of it was about getting things done and some of it was about mixing with the public. The experience in the hardware store parking lot was a foreshadowing of the surreal day I was about to have.

I recognized a customer while in the store but couldn’t remember from where. It was while I was packing away my purchases that I’d figured out where I’d seen the man who was my age: on a movie set a decade ago. When he came outside I said, “Hey! You’re such-n-such, aren’t you?” His obvious but nonchalant stares in the store weren’t imagined because once I opened the door to conversation he was all over it. He asked if I was still married to the fireman. I said, “Well, yeah, but it’s a mess. It’s all a mess now. There’s a lot of uncertainty.” Wrong thing to say though this truth-serum chemo brain now tires of pretending. The man saw a window of opportunity and attempted to enter further. Before long I had his phone number and address. If I’d stuck around another 15 minutes I’d have had some afternoon delight and his house key too.

I told him I was going through chemo for HCV because I thought, certainly, he must see that I have the buzz-cut hair of a marine, though I must have looked pretty stylish in my hat and scarf ensemble. I could see the wheels in his head clicking. His attempts at slyness was underestimating my ability to cut to the chase of most interactions. He asked how contagious HCV was, how it’s spread and if it was something that required a condom when having sex. Yes, I told him. Probably so. I’m not sure what happens when I’m in remission but while it’s active, yes. I thought it odd and switched back to less invasive personal talk. Besides, it wasn’t sex without love that I wanted or needed. Empty sex was easy to get in this town. If I were so inclined I could go to any bar in town and have sex. No. It isn’t sex I need now. Besides, there is no one in this town I want.

When the conversation was winding down because the heat was beginning to make us sweat, he said, “Call me.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I doubt I will,” I said. “I am still a married woman.”

He persisted. “Well, it’s an offer, you know, if you need someone to talk to. I’m there with my nice house on 2.5 acres — just me and my two big dogs — if you ever need a quiet place to hang out.” Ahem. I have a quiet place to hang out, I thought.

Some middle-aged divorced men almost hover too much like a wet blanket as they seek every day to fill the void left by the woman they’d spent their young years with. Their divorces are nasty. Some are left bitter and almost destitute. Many cruise internet social networks and adult chats and single friends networks and troll. I’ve never done any of those things. I know people both male and female whose social network and/or dating profile pages are complete opposite representations of the people they really are. Why let more bullshit into my life? I’m done living the lie of being pigeonholed into someone else’s idea of life. I’m done dealing with jealous ex-wives and their resentful children. I’m done trying to fit in where I don’t belong.

My friend wasn’t at her thrift store shop and texted me that she was running late and would be there soon. “Soon” was too relative a term. My energy level was fading fast and my window for the day would disappear. I texted back, “OK, I’m going to the cig store”. While there I battled the urge to buy beer and lost. I walked out of the store with two quarts of Sierra Nevada Torpedos. Bombs away, indeed. The pressures of our lives unleashed with the “Pffft!” of the beer cap. We did what any sensitive and seeing angsty girl at the dysfunction junction of desolation desert would do — we scared away door-to-door proselytizers as we smoked cigarettes and drank beer at noon on her front porch.

I justified the stupid decision by saying to myself, “Well, if I’m going to feel like shit everyday I may as well have a reason.” But my mental health and body’s physiology can’t take it. When I choose booze, I lose. I’m allergic to the stuff and now with compromised health and a weakened immune system the stuff was particularly dangerous. In the throes of our boozy good time, I wasn’t seeing that. Here we were: one 20-something single mom with a military ex-husband who abandoned his daughter without looking back; a 30-something neighbor girl fighting a beater ex-husband who’s immune to small-town “Boss Hog” laws; and me, the barely-50 girl with a lot of bones to pick about their situations, which I could relate to, and those of my own. One beer led to more. Eventually the 30-something girl bowed out. Us remaining two talked and talked, more loudly as the stuff hit us hard in the desert heat. I released, that’s for sure. It felt like I was getting stuff off my chest but the reality was that I was bringing in new stuff. The marathon finally ended by 10 p.m. after a couple of hours pool-side at my house.

The next morning I woke up feeling racked and regretful … and really stupid. My voice was hoarse. I thought, OK. Do I need anymore verification as to why I should avoid alcohol and why it’s counterproductive to my mental stability — not to mention physical health? It’s not hard for me to avoid booze when I set my mind to it. It’s even easier when I live in a place where there is life, springing eternal, even if my life seems temporarily dry and empty. But what about release? How do I release the mental ties that bind while in this place and still save face? How can I hang on to hope when there is no sight of it, not even a glimmer? The alternative has got to be real for me. It has to have substance. Sticking my head in a new age bubble is as pointless as sticking my face in a beer bottle. But the bottle brought it all to the forefront. I need to find the answer. I’ll never stop looking for the answer. I wish just once the universe would go easy on me and throw me a bone of clarity rather than the usual bones of contention. I guess that’s what growth and enlightenment is all about.

Doctor Update: Wednesday is my “Month 2” visit with the gasteroenterologist. This will be an important visit since there are two recent blood draws to compare with the first — one being the special full blood chemistry and HCV viral load count he ordered between the two regular monthly draws. I’m curious what he will say about my angst issues. If he has to prescribe a pill, it should be a light does of an old school tranquilizer, like Valium®. I can’t take any of those frightening newfangled psychotropics. My reaction to them is almost worse than a night of boozing. If that’s my only alternative, they may as well just shoot me right there in the office.

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Of Mice And Me: Who Cut The Cheese And Left The Stink Behind?

(July 12, 2011) The feedback I received from friends in private and on the comments here about the last blog entry I’ve taken to heart. It’s not like the harshness of my last “riba rage” hadn’t already weighed heavily on my conscience. HCV chemo treatment is chaotic mentally and physiologically and bothersome things in life become magnified. It’s almost as if I have verbal turrets. Or maybe it’s what growth and enlightenment and processing the old skeletons in the closet feels like. Chemo treatment is a sort of freaky truth serum that leaves me feeling like I just got ambushed at a surprise party when all I wanted to do was hide and lay low.

Ever since I watched my stepfather die in front of me at age 13, I observed human behavior and formed opinions early on. After his death (RIP, my man) the upheaval in the home was a bit much. No rest for us weary and traumatized remaining family members. It was a dramatic death. Everyone within a mile radius knew something was going down when they heard the Flight for Life® helicopter land in the neighborhood at 5 a.m. (I have other issues that sprang from that day but that’s an entirely different blog). When my mother and her friends returned from the emergency room hours later with a bag of his bloody clothing, I needed no words to know attempts to resuscitate him had failed and he was gone. I fell to the ground and got no peace for sometime after that — possibly years. People came out of the woodwork, ringing the doorbell and chatting with my crying mother and leaving flowers and baskets of food. Stunned but appreciative, our realities altered, we almost forgot to fulfill our basic needs. Yet, the whole scenario was a psychological overload. Some of these people I’d never seen before. I was in shock and trying to console my mother and people kept coming. I’d asked her, “Who are these people? Are they from daddy’s work? Are they neighbors?” Most were neighbors. Silent neighbors. Mysterious neighbors.

The chaos got to my mom. She was having to live the experience over and over, retelling the story to strangers. She finally said to me one evening as we fell exhausted on the couch and stared at the door and waited for the familiar key noise of my step-dad returning home from work as we did every night for quite some time, “Why can’t people be concerned for you and come around and be kind when you’re alive? Why come after the fact to leave flowers on the grave?” The statement stuck like glue in my wounded mind. It reminds me now of the hundreds of live news broadcasts set in front of flash-mob novena candle memorials left at the site of some person’s tragic death. When I see those I always hope the neighbors treated the family decently before the tragedy.

It always to me that humans were a failed experiment because of their propensity to run from others when things got bad. Multifaceted and deep-seated as this condition is, I never stopped trying to analyze the whys behind it. There are those who fear another fellow’s illness will rub off on them. There are those who don’t want to feel obligated to help out a weaker fellow. There are those who stick their heads in the sand when things get ugly because they like their new-agey denial bubble. But I wondered if went even deeper, like animalistic limbic-brained stuff that drove people to cast out the weak among them. This is what I hoped was not the case for my being cast aside because my weakness is only temporary but my memory is not.

The subject of abandonment brings to mind Abraham Maslow’s intriguing 1943 theory, the human Hierarchy of Needs, represented in simple form as a triangle. (A visual of Maslow’s Triangle) To me, the sad part about Maslow’s pyramid is that the general populace, for one reason or another, seem stuck in the 2nd or 3rd tier of the climb to self-actualization. It’s like we’ve created a selfish, empty society of users and consumers. On a grand and worldly scale this is a human fail. Looking out for number one. If you think my assertions are hogwash, consider that “60 Minutes” just days ago reported that there are currently 9,000 homeless Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. They suffer unimaginable mental and physical damage and have been cast out to fend for themselves, abandoned by a society who doesn’t like “broken” things.
(CBS News: 60 Minutes. Air date: 7/10/11). If that wasn’t enough ugly, I also caught this PBS weekend news special a couple of weeks ago explaining the stigma and discrimination against our returned war veterans (KCET SoCal Connected “Vets For Hire”, originally aired 11/10/10). One man’s “flag-waving mentality” comment took me aback, as I’ve uttered the same sentiment almost verbatim. I live in a town where the main industry is creating weapons of mass destruction — where jet noise is “the sound of freedom” (yes, these words have actually been uttered in our city council meetings) and military might reigns supreme.

Animals live in the limbic (reptilian brain) mode, seeking food and shelter on a daily basis to stay alive. I don’t hold that against them. They harbor no malice or hatred. When I was entering my 20s I hung with a crowd of small-time scammers whose mantra was “It’s a dog-eat-dog world. You gotta take it or it’ll be taken from you!” I told them I didn’t buy into that mentality. I told them it was crap. But for every one of those from my old “gang” who utter the words there are tens or hundreds of thousands more who currently believe the same. The sentiment is heartbreaking and seems more like a cop-out — a way not to take responsibility for your actions.

I meant only to shake people up with that last blog entry and perhaps force them look inside themselves. Not just for me, mind you. It’s not about me. Stop and take a look at how we treat others on a daily basis and do it for the sake of our family, friends, neighbors and all life-forms on our planet. We’ve been given a brain supposedly greater than our mammalian brothers and sisters with a supposed capacity for greater empathy and compassion. It never ceases to blow my mind that people don’t strive toward this in the truest form. Going to church and patting the ones on the back who believe as you do or putting yourselves in a new age bubble where one doesn’t allow that energy to enter one’s realm doesn’t seem like the proper way to rise above and think outside the triangle. My apologies to those I may have offended.

More on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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When The Going Gets Rough Everyone Skitters Away Like Mice

(July 7, 2011) The responses — or worse, nonresponses — I’ve received from people both in real life and on the interwebs about my disclosure of HCV stuns me, quite frankly. Really? You want to avoid me now? You even go as far as to unfollow me on Twitter? You have nothing to say? No curiosity? Not even a “Oh, that sucks! How are you doing?” I can’t imagine reacting this way to a real-life friend or a cyber-friend. It’s just not in my mental makeup to kick people when they’re down.

I thought I’d made it clear in my introduction page that I didn’t seek sympathy and that I don’t derive pleasure as one of those who thrives on the whole woe-is-me attention surrounding illnesses. Anyone who’s had any dealings with me since I’ve disclosed my HCV diagnosis and remained on speaking terms knows there’s a plethora of stuff I like to talk about. After the initial, “Hey, how are you feeling today?” “Blah. I feel like crap! I’m very drained and tired. Thanks for asking.”, our conversations drift toward the places they had before HCV — our families, hot guys, social observations, politics, travel dreams and world woes.

I wonder if the people I know in real life are banging their heads against the wall trying to recall if I’d ever bled on them or if they’d ever sipped from my water bottle. There is an undeniable stigma associated with blood-borne diseases and there is an undeniable propensity to lump all blood-borne diseases with sexually transmitted diseases. People fear the unknown. The unknown becomes understood with education! But it’s not easy changing social stigmas. People embrace their ignorance because it’s easier to do so.

HCV, the “silent epidemic”. Named so because those infected with the virus may not know for decades that they have it. But I think there’s another reason it’s silent. People who have it are silent because they don’t want to find out who their true friends are or aren’t. People who have it don’t want the pigeon-hole into an ugly social stigma. People who have it just aren’t up for having people visibly step away from them. Folks, you won’t catch HCV by talking to an infected person. You won’t catch it by even touching an infected person — unless there’s blood and you come in contact with it.

So I wondered, how can I educate people? How can I convey that it’s not just a disease that junkies living in Needle Park catch. Far be it. At the clinic where they showed me the ropes on injecting the lovely chemo stuff, the nurse told me that one of the district attorneys in that big city had just begun treatment. But that’s not enough to sway people’s opinions. I decided to put it into terms understood by the general populace and googled “famous people with HCV” and learned a few things myself. Natalie Cole? Really? Jack Kevorkian (RIP pioneer man)? You don’t say?! Mickey Mantel (RIP)? Get out! Evel Knievel (RIP)? Slap me silly! (Incidentally, the dead ones died as a result of their untreated HCV.) The list is surprising in some cases. Some contracted the disease rather innocently. Some contracted it through the means that most people think all sufferers contracted it — by being “bad” people. (Is experiencing life a “bad” thing if you don’t harm others?)

I discussed my experience of people’s reactions with a friend and she wondered if people just didn’t know how to take the news or how to respond to it. She said some of the blog entries were difficult to swallow. It’s possible. For that, I’m sorry. I know it’s a buzz-kill. But abandonment is not the right response either. Remember the Golden Rule. Is that the response you want from others if it were you? HCV disclosure laws apply to medical professionals on a need to know basis. If someone didn’t tell you they had HCV you’d most likely never know they had it. It’s not leprosy. Anti-discrimination laws protect HCV sufferers on the job. Hopefully anti-bullying laws are enough to protect a person suffering HCV stigma at the workplace. There aren’t really a lot of instances where we cross paths with another person’s blood. We need to move past the old “toilet seat” and “door knob” ignorance of the olden days. And really, we need to find those rare lost things in today’s society called compassion and empathy. It goes beyond HCV.

Famous people with HCV:

Wikipedia List Of People With HCV

NATAP’s List of Famous People With HCV

HCV New Drug Research: “Celebrities w/ Hepatitis – Judd Opens Up About Being DIagnosed”


Filed under #HCV, dysfunction, HCV, human nature, life, relationships, stigma