Category Archives: Memories

Karen

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I sat at work today, knowing that my friend was dying, and I listened to music that made me forget for a while. And then I’d remember again and stop breathing for a second, and then I’d breathe deep to try not to cry, and I did that over and over.

It’s over now, and somehow even when you know it’s coming, it still shatters you. I sat at work all day and wanted to write a story. I felt like I needed to get it out before she was gone.  But now she’s gone, and the story is stuck somewhere in my throat, and I just want to scream instead.

I just keep thinking, she didn’t even get to turn 40.  She didn’t get to watch her daughters graduate, or her son get married. And I didn’t get to watch her turn into everyone’s favorite grandma while I slowly turned into the crazy old lady who screams at people to get off her lawn and the neighborhood kids are convinced is a witch who eats babies.

Because if I get to grow old, I will be a mean old lady. But not Karen. She probably would have tried, just so I wouldn’t feel guilty, but we all know everyone would have loved her.

And on a logical level, I know that we’re all going to die, and it’s inevitable, and most of us aren’t going to die quietly in our sleep at 95 after living a long and love-filled life.  Many of us are going to die too soon, and it’ll hit me again that I’ve lost someone I love, or I’ll be one of the people they say died too soon. There’s no way to know.

I just know I didn’t want Karen to be one of those people who died too soon, but she did.  And I hate it.

I’m not a very nice person. I don’t like being around people all that much, and I’m really not kidding when I say that if I grow old, I’ll probably be mean as hell.  That’s just the reality of my personality. People irritate me. And I’m not one of those people who will have hundreds of people show up at my funeral unless I die in such a way as to be memorable.  Like Bonnie and Clyde memorable, and since I’m not a violent person by nature [I realize that my dislike of people and general non-violent sort of personality are somewhat a contradiction in terms, but I’m more of a monk or hermit type than serial killer…aren’t you relieved?] I’m likely to die and be gone and the people I’m close to will show up and be sad, and life will go on.

I don’t say this to elicit sympathy or anything. There’s a part of me that wishes I was an extrovert and a people person who everyone just loves to be around because I’m in the room,but I’m not, and that’s okay. Part of the beauty of making the half-way mark to my natural life expectancy is that I don’t feel the need to try to be different than who I am anymore. Yay for small victories.

But Karen. See, Karen WAS a people person, and she was amazing. And she and Chris adopted us for a while, and I got to sit in the light that was Karen, and I can honestly say that I am a better person for having known her.

I remember the first time I ever saw Jacob, her oldest.  He was a toddler, and we’d been going to church a very short time, and there was this little blond cherub running up the aisle with his arms pulled back behind him funny, and my breath stopped, because that was, without a doubt, the cutest baby I’d ever seen.

Jacob was the first person who made Shaya laugh out loud in that great big gleeful baby belly laugh, and I remember being absolutely delighted that he had managed to do what I hadn’t. He’d made my baby laugh, and I swear, angels cried.  And then when Shaya was a toddler, we ended up living less than a block from Chris and Karen’s house, and we ended up spending a lot of time with them.

Here’s what you have to know, though. I’m mostly an introvert. I’m not shy, and I don’t really hate people, but when I’m with them, it drains my energy pretty quickly. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I can maintain 3 or 4 close friendships, and that’s it.  Steve is one, so that leaves me with enough energy for one other couple.

And Chris and Karen were that couple for a couple of years. And it’s crazy, because as we’ve neared the end and people have posted memories on Karen’s wall, I’ve realized that Karen was able to maintain real, authentic, close friendships with more people than I even know, let alone have a relationship with.

And she and Chris are amazing parents. I used to watch them play with their kids and they actually liked it! I was a little jealous because they would do activities with their kids and play games with them because they liked it, not because they felt obligated as parents to entertain their kids.

I have a vivid imagination, but I’m terrible with kids. No, seriously. I’m great with protecting them, and I love them with all the fierceness of any mama bear who ever lived, but when it comes to relating to them and playing with them, well, not so much.

I’ve managed to raise three of them, and they are exceptional human beings, but sometimes I swear it’s in spite of me rather than because of anything I’ve done.  Karen loved being a mom, though. I swear, it was her calling in life, to give those babies life and then raise them and be there for them as long as she could.

People will talk about what an inspiration she was and how she’s a hero, and that is true, but I feel this itch and I need to make sure that you know Karen wasn’t a hero because she had cancer. And the way she dealt with it doesn’t really make her a hero, either, because Karen dealt with cancer the same way she dealt with everything.  Cancer didn’t change her so much as it made who she always was visible to people who maybe hadn’t noticed her radiance before.

Cancer was nothing in the grand scheme of her life, except that it ended it way too soon. Karen is a hero because she lived her entire life with passion and purpose, and I’m not kidding even a little bit when I say that she made every room a little brighter just by being in it. The end isn’t what matters when we talk about Karen. It’s the middle that matters.  And the fact that I got to be a part of it makes me feel incredibly blessed and honored.

My heart is broken. And I wish she was still here. But I don’t regret giving her a piece of my heart, even when the ache from the hole she left stops me for a minute and I have to slow down and concentrate on every breath to keep from bursting into tears.

I just need you to know that Karen is a hero for how she lived, not how she died. I need you to know that she mattered to me, and that I was one of the countless people who she managed to just ‘click’ with, and that the fact that she clicked with me is a crazy, beautiful testament to how wonderful she was.

I’m gonna miss her like crazy.

Process of Recovery…Part 1

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So the number one thing I do in my life when I’m coping with or recovering from a difficult situation is ‘I use my words.’

I talk.

I vent.

I write.

I haven’t written regularly in a very long time, and much of the past five years, I haven’t written more than a brief blip about politics or religion here and there, whether on this blog or Facebook. I’ve written a little about the reality of what it was like to take care of my quadriplegic brother, but between not wanting to dwell on something I was still struggling daily with, and feeling like I was indulging in a damn pity party or fishing for compliments, I mostly decided to lay low.

I used to write compulsively when i was depressed, but something about the combination of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion prevented me from being able to string together a coherent paragraph about my life, and while putting thoughts into the ether used to help me process and get over whatever emotional turmoil I was going through, writing about taking care of Jeremi mostly made me feel trapped.

And alone.

And miserable.

Truth is, I love my brother, and that never stopped, even during the most difficult days, but an equally valid, yet far more difficult truth to write about and admit, is that I absolutely hated taking care of him.

And maybe that’s the crux of why I haven’t written much about it. It’s hard to admit that in spite of the fact that I chose to take care of him, I hated and resented it almost every single day. And eventually, I resented Jeremi as well.

The truth is, I’m not some spectacular example of self-sacrificial love.  I never wanted to move back to this town to take care of him. I never wanted him to live with me. I never wanted to have to be the main person responsible for his care.

Steve had always dreamed of having J live with us later, but I never did. I grew up feeling like a horrible person because I used to hide out in the kitchen or bathroom eating snacks, because I knew if I went into the living room where J was, he’d want some of whatever I was eating, too, and he was likely to drool on me or bite me or choke and spit or vomit all over me, and I hated all of that.

I hated being stuck at home, of never going on a family vacation, never going anywhere as a family because it was so much work to take J with us that it was just easier for one able-bodied person to stay in the house with him, and everyone else to go on outings alone.

It sucks to love someone and resent them at the same time. I grew up feeling like a selfish, hateful, resentful human being. I grew up feeling guilty every day of my life because there was always something I resented that happened.

I felt like I never got quite what I needed because J took so much of the energy my parents had that there just wasn’t much left over for me. As a young child, too young to understand what was really going on, I just felt like he was the ‘favorite’ because he got most of what they had to give.

And all of that was before I was 12.

So fast forward 25 years and there he was. Sick and dying.  My parents were also not in the best health and would have killed themselves trying to take care of him, and in my eyes, the only option was for me to uproot my family and take care of him.

But I didn’t want to.

Because I knew.

I knew there would never be enough help. I knew we were on our own, and that I wasn’t going to be able to do it all. I knew I was going to be miserable.  But I couldn’t see a way out.  I knew that if I said no, I really would be that awful girl who’d hidden out in the bathroom so she wouldn’t have to feed her brother a damn snack, except this time, he would die because of my selfishness.

Even knowing what I know now, having lived five years taking care of him and wishing most days I wasn’t, even having nearly destroyed my mental and physical health, and because of it, endangering the well-being of my family, even knowing that the best choice for Jeremi’s health was not the best for mine or that of my family…I’m still not sure I could say no if I had to choose again.

Because the guilt of that little girl is still there, and stronger than ever, thanks to the constant reminder of the past five years that I still can’t take care of  him without feeling resentment, anger, and self loathing for feeling resentment and anger.

He’s moved out now. He’s happy, healthy and safe, and I am SO glad that is true.

But I’m not.

I’m exhausted and broken, and I’d love nothing more than to  run away to Costa Rica and pretend, even if it’s just for a short time, that I have no obligations or responsibilities to anyone but myself.

I don’t know how to process 30 year old self-inflicted wounds, and I don’t know how not to hate the fact that I absolutely do not ever want to be the primary caregiver of another adult again as long as I live.

 

And here’s where the processing begins.

The truths is, if I had to do it all over again, if I had to make the same choice today that I made five years ago…

I would say no.

That little girl who hid out in the bathroom was a child.

It wasn’t her responsibility to take care of a brother who couldn’t take care of himself.  We shouldn’t have had to be alone in the house in the first place.

Now understand me here. I’m not placing blame.

My parents did the only thing they could given the resources that were available at the time, and there are no good options in a situation like that.

But as the child who lived through it, I had a lot on my shoulders that I wasn’t equipped to handle, and that I never should have had to deal with in the first place.

I wasn’t a villain. And I was exactly as selfish as every other human in the history of mankind was at that age. I was certainly no more selfish, and probably a little less so.

Five years ago, it wasn’t my responsibility to nurse J back to health. I didn’t have to do it.

And had I been thinking clearly, I would have taken a more objective look at what my kids were going to have to go through.

They’ve lived the same life for the past five years that I had for my entire childhood and adolescence.

On some deep psychological level, I think I was trying to make up for what I believed were wrongs I had committed against Jeremi.

And I was trying to do what I’d been taught from a very early age: when it comes to family, you do what you gotta do. You make the sacrifices necessary to support family, even if it means destroying yourself in the process.

But when you have kids who depend on you, who rely on you to be the safe landing spot when they have a problem or crisis, who depend on you to help them know how much they mean to you, sacrificing your own health and happiness means that you also sacrifice their safe landing spot.

My parents did the best they could to support both of their kids, but the truth is, two people just don’t have enough energy and personal resources to support two kids’ physical and emotional needs when one requires most of their energy just to keep him alive.

It wasn’t that they were inadequate, it was that the load was too big for anyone.

And that’s the thing I didn’t realize until I lived it.  My parents pushed past physical and mental exhaustion and burnout for decades because it was their child and there wasn’t anyone else to do it.

Steve and I did the same thing, but J wasn’t my child. I already had three kids, and they were taking up everything I had just on their own.  I never had enough to give to J without sacrificing what my family needed from me, but I didn’t realize it until I was falling apart.

I’ve broken myself, physically and emotionally, and I’m working on picking up the pieces and starting again.   I’ve learned some valuable lessons, but man, sometimes I wish I could learn things without having to go through hell in the process.

So the process has begun.

Wish me luck.

Straws and Camels

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Back in April, I wrote a post about why the thought of Mitt Romney as president scared the living hell out of me.  I talked about the Paul Ryan budget, how it slashes social safety net programs, and how, if enacted, would essentially make what I do here with J impossible.

You may have noticed that Paul Ryan is now the Republican candidate for Vice President.  While there are at least five instances of Mitt Romney supporting and agreeing completely with the Ryan budget, there is also video of him saying that he has his own budget that isn’t the same as Ryan’s.  At this point, nobody really knows what the hell Mitt Romney actually stands for, but last night, former President Bill Clinton spoke at length about the Republican ticket and their budget policies.

He reminded everyone that the Ryan budget will not only change Medicare to a voucher system for everyone under 55, he brought up something else that no one has really been talking about. It also cuts Medicaid spending by 1/3.

Clinton stated, and the fact checkers have verified, that two-thirds of Medicaid spending goes toward nursing home care for the elderly and people with disabilities and serious illnesses.

The money my husband and I get paid for taking care of my brother comes directly from the Medicaid Waiver program. His medical equipment, including his electric wheelchair and communication device, as well as the Chux, adult briefs, catheter supplies, and co-pays for medical services and medications that Medicare doesn’t cover also come directly from the Medicaid program.

In my April post, I gave a lot of details about the costs associated with taking care of J.  About 3/4 of the money we get paid working with J goes directly toward the expenses of taking care of him. Our added costs for housing, utilities, monthly fuel bills, insurance, medical care, travel expenses, cleaning supplies, and other out-of-pocket expenses for J’s needs amount to well over $1000 a month.

When you figure in how much it would cost us to pay out-of-pocket for medical equipment, medical supplies, and medications, the costs are astronomical.  There is absolutely no way we could come close to covering the extra $1000 we already pay per month if it wasn’t for Medicaid.  Trying to pay for the other stuff is a sick joke.

From the time I was a child, one of the most important values my parents instilled in me was that we take care of our family, no matter what the cost.  My dad took over the family farm before I was born, and shared the income equally with his parents and brother, in spite of the fact that he did the vast majority of the work.  He’s an excellent farmer, but it wasn’t exactly his dream job.  He sacrificed his own dreams to make sure his family was taken care of.

My mother paid for my grandma’s medications and helped her out financially for years, and when Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Mom took her into her own home and did her best to take care of her for two years until dealing with the strain became impossible. She wrecked her own health in the process.

So three and a half years ago when J became critically ill, my husband and I uprooted our family and moved 180 miles back home to take care of him.

We were faced with a choice between putting J in a nursing home, letting my parents try to take care of him themselves, in spite of the fact that they were both in their 60s and had health issues of their own, or moving back to take care of him ourselves.

So we moved.

I’ve written pretty extensively about some of the difficulties we’ve had, so I won’t go into it much here, except to say that it’s been hard. Trying to raise our three kids and take care of J, who was critically ill for the first year we lived here is the most difficult thing we’ve ever done. In fact, it was impossible to meet everyone’s needs. My kids were pretty much on their own, even though I was in the house, my marriage was put way on the back burner, and my own needs didn’t even figure into the equation for a long time.

It’s still a constant struggle to try to find a balance when there’s just too much to be done and not enough me to go around.  A lot of the time, we’re just treading water, hoping we don’t drown.

Which leads me back to the Romney/Ryan ticket and politics. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are both pretty open about wanting to cut Medicaid and other entitlements. Ryan has talked about privatizing Social Security [another benefit that J gets, without which, we would have to pay for his food, personal care items, clothing, etc. out-of-pocket as well].

Basically, privatizing Social Security would mean giving SS money to the banks to invest as they see fit and try to grow the fund.  We all remember what happened when the banks were given access to the money we had in commercial banks and allowed to use it for investment banking, right? In eight years, they managed to tank our entire economy.

Back in April, I basically bled all over my keyboard and wrote one of the most difficult posts of my entire life. It also signaled my official ‘coming out’ as a liberal to my family and friends, most of whom were, and still are, staunch conservatives.

Admitting to the people I loved most that I could no longer pretend to be something I wasn’t, in spite of the fact that all of them had passionately conservative political views, was not easy, to say the least.  In fact, if I’d been able to quiet my conscience and continue to lie about it, it may very well have made my life easier, at least for the time being.

But at that point, I’d been hiding my spiritual, emotional, and political journey from almost everyone for years, and eventually, it just became too much. It felt like I was betraying myself and more importantly, my kids, by not speaking out and telling the truth.

I’ve always insisted that the one thing we ALWAYS do in our family is tell the truth.  Honesty is so important to me that when my kids were little, I couldn’t even bring myself to tell them that Santa Claus was real because it wasn’t true.

I know that seems ridiculous, but for me, being lied to is the worst kind of betrayal, and under no circumstances was I going to do that to my babies. I don’t always give them every detail, but it’s always been a policy in our house that if the kids ask a question, I will give them an honest answer, no matter what.

Well, eventually, I realized that I was hiding a lot of myself from the people around me. I was always honest with Steve, and he stood by me and listened to me through all my struggles to figure out exactly what I believe and why.

I joined Facebook after we moved to take care of J in order to try to keep in touch with our friends in St. Joe, so it made sense to me that since cyberspace was the only place I could really go, I could tell the truth about my life on Facebook.

Well, it turned out you’re not actually supposed to talk about real stuff on Facebook. I suspect a better name for it might be ‘Maskbook’ or ‘Fakebook’ but whatever.  Part of the transformation I underwent during that time included tearing away every mask I’d ever put on and learning to just be me. The real me.

I figured if I was going to teach my kids what it means to be honest, I needed to be honest with myself first, and then with everyone else.

Yeah, well. First and foremost, I’ve always been a dreamer.

One of the things I love most, and happen to be relatively good at is writing. I’ve been writing regularly through online journaling for eight years or so now. A lot of the stuff I write is crap, but some of it is good enough that when I go back and read it later, it doesn’t even seem like I wrote it.

I suspect this may end up being crap, but oh well.

I think initially, I used Facebook instead of the blog because I’d kind of burnt myself out on blogging.  I also liked that there’s no counter on Facebook. Unless someone comments or hits the like button, you never know if anyone saw it or not. When you know people are reading your words, and you know how many, you tend to gauge ‘success’ by the number of hits.

So why am I back on the blog?  Well, I’ve pretty much outworn my welcome on Facebook. It’s an election year, and I have some political opinions that are less than mainstream in my group of friends. I knew that going in, which is why I was so scared of posting about politics in the first place.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to piss everyone off, it was just that I felt like I’d spent so many years contorting myself into the person others expected me to be, I’d forgotten who I was.

And once I found myself again, the most amazing thing happened. I actually liked me! Go figure. :-/

So, I began testing the waters and posting some opinions, and then I waited to see if people would leave my friends list in droves. For a while, they did.  On the one hand, I get it. Everyone has preferences, and some people hate politics or stories about poop, so naturally, some people were going to leave.

It still kinda hurts, but I do understand. The times when I really had a hard time with the whole ‘Facebook De-Friending Drama’ is when someone would post a disagreement on my wall about something I’d posted and get irate when I defended myself. When you have an argument with someone, it takes longer than a day to forget about the disagreement, and when your friends list gets one number smaller, well, it’s pretty easy to figure out that someone got pissed and left.

I’ve always had issues with people storming off angry, so even on something as goofy as a Facebook Fight, it feels like unfinished business. It also reminds me of Jr. High, and when the people leaving in a huff are people you once respected as a mentor and friend, well, it’s a little harder not to take that personally.

I don’t mind debating, in fact, it’s something I enjoy immensely when it’s done properly.  I love writing, and I love research, so learning things and sharing what I’ve learned is something that feels like flying to me. I enjoy having my opinions challenged, and I love it when people bring up points I hadn’t thought of and basically give me something else to study.

I don’t mind being wrong any more than anyone else does. It’s embarrassing sometimes, but the older I get the more I realize just how little I know about the world, so it’s a lot easier now than it was when I was younger.

One of the things I don’t deal well with, though, is when someone quotes a ‘fact’ that is demonstrably untrue and then refuses to admit that their statement has been thoroughly debunked. This is not how debating is supposed to work.

Everyone is biased, and a lot of people aren’t above using some spin, including me, but I do not deliberately quote lies and call them truth.

Ever.

And when someone else does, it makes me irate.

And now we’re back to Romney/Ryan.  Romney and Ryan have both been caught in outright lies.  These aren’t your typical bias, distortions or spin, these are straight up bullshit fairy tales worthy of the National Inquirer.

The blatant, shameless dishonesty that has been exhibited by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan just in the past couple of weeks would have been more than enough for me to either refuse to vote at all or switch parties if I was still a staunch Republican like the rest of my family.

However, even without the lies, there’s the fact of the Ryan Budget and what it does to Medicaid and Medicare.  I am not lying or even exaggerating when I tell you that if J were to lose 1/3 of the money he gets for all the care he needs, we would not be able to afford to take care of him.

J’s life, and our lives, would end as we know it.  We would lose our house. We would not be able to afford utilities or decent food. J has to have Ensure because he can’t chew, and his food cost per month is at least $200.00. On Steve’s income alone, our food budget for the five of us was about $300.00 a month.  So without Medicaid, either J would go hungry or we would.

The house we could afford on Steve’s income alone in St. Joe was a tiny three bedroom, one bath house that was a whopping 927 square feet.  We couldn’t begin to fit J and all of his stuff into that house with the rest of us.

This is real.  If Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win the election in November, and if their plan to cut Medicaid goes forward, they will be sentencing my family to a life of  poverty. They will greatly shorten J’s lifespan, and they will put us in a position where we have to choose between taking care of J and taking care of our kids.

I am a mother first.

One of the things that has been so disheartening for me is how a few of my own relatives have reacted to my becoming a Democrat.  The reactions have ranged from disappointment, to anger, to condescending arrogance, to accusations of being a Communist [now conveniently called ‘socialism’].

I’ve had to deal with being attacked personally, first on my Facebook wall, and then when I refused to be cowed on my own page, on their news feeds as rants and random Facebook memes that include how stupid and evil ‘liberals’ are.

I never dreamed I’d be a black sheep in my family, considering I’m a stable, happily married mother of three, who is also taking care of her adult quadriplegic brother, but here I am.

To find out that some of my own family values hearing what they want to hear and believing lies just because they back up their own ideas has been beyond infuriating to me.

To realize that people in my own family will vote for a man in November who will sentence me to an even more impossible life than the one I’m currently living is heartbreaking.

To know that some of the people in my family would rather hate President Obama based on nothing more than lies and spin from the worst news network in the history of television fills me with white-hot rage.

And I guess this is why I’m writing this one last [potential] Facebook political post, and why I’m finally talking about the people in my very own family who have treated me with less compassion, understanding, and mercy than I would expect from a stranger.

Some of the same people who showed me that when family needs you, you do whatever you have to do to make sure they’re taken care of, the people I’ve respected and loved since I was a child, are the people who now refuse to listen to me, accuse me of being a communist, treat me like I’m an idiot unworthy of anything but contempt, and in November, they will vote for a man who will choose to enact a budget that will very likely end my life, the life of my family, and the life of my brother as we’ve known it.

I know it’s crass to air dirty laundry on the Internet, and if I choose to post this on Facebook, I may very well burn some bridges with people I’ve loved all my life, but this is my reality.  This is the anxiety, stress, and agonizing pain I live with every day.  The people I believed would always be there for me have already shut me out, whether they realize it or not.  Stubbornness and the need to be ‘right’ has taken precedence over any willingness to understand me and where I’m coming from.

People always say to ‘vote your conscience’ which is often a way to tell people to vote against abortion.  Well, that’s your right, of course. But when you go defend the unborn, keep in mind that the candidates who would outlaw abortion are the very same people who believe that the life of my entire family is not worthy of consideration.  That is the real choice you face.

I’m Not Crazy, Just Bipolar

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Okay, so bipolar by definition pretty much means you’re crazy, but I read a book with that title and it made me happy.  Last week, I called my doctor and was talking to her nurse [named Joy, who happens to be one of my favorite people in the world] and I was talking too fast, and bursting into tears, and generally not making much sense, and she said to me, “Um, you need an appointment.  What are you doing this afternoon?”  It was 1:12 PM, and I was going to have to pick up kids from school at 2:30, so she said, “Can you be here at 1:30?”

“Yeah. Let me brush my teeth and I’ll be on my way.”  I might have changed my clothes, too, ’cause I don’t remember if I’d gotten dressed yet, but I was there by about 1:35.  They weighed me and did vitals, and in comes my doctor, asking what was going on.  I burst into tears mid-sentence, said I was feeling too crazy, told her about a trip through the internet I’d had earlier, and how I’d stumbled upon the term Bipolar 2 and so-called ‘Soft-Bipolar’ and that Bipolar 2 was scarily familiar.

I told her about seeing a psychiatrist years ago right after my son was born, and telling her about my crazy mood swings, and asked her then if I might be Bipolar.  She asked me if I’d every disappeared for weeks at a time, gambled all my money away, or gone on spending sprees or alcoholic binges. I hadn’t, so she said I was just depressed.

I was on Zoloft at the time, and it worked amazingly well. I’d been spiraling into a deep postpartum depression and Zoloft kicked me out of it.  I felt great. In fact, I hadn’t felt that good in forever.  I realized then that I’d struggled with depression since I was a very small child, like about age six.  I also knew that there had been times where I was really hyper and happy, but again, I’d never exhibited the ‘typical’ signs of mania, so my psychiatrist told me that was actually ‘normal’.

After a year or so, the Zoloft stopped working as well, so we raised my dose.  We continued to raise my dose until I finally decided I needed to find a non-med way of dealing with my depression. I found a book that was basically cognitive therapy written down, and put the lessons to work.  I managed to develop some coping skills, and thought I’d finally kicked my depression in the butt.

Looking back, I see now that I was probably rapid cycling for most of my adult life.  I know I’ve had normal days, and maybe even weeks or months where I was pretty okay. But the thing that stands out now is that about every six months or so, I would go through a time where I was having a hard time sleeping [insomnia is a given in my life and has been since I was a kid. The big difference now is that I take a LOT of meds before bed so they’ll make me sleepy enough I don’t have a choice but to go to sleep. In essence, they knock me out enough that I can’t think even if I want to, which allows me to go to sleep].

The creepy thing is, I can also see that there are times when I’ve been full on delusional and possibly manic, but due to geography and lack of opportunity, never got into nearly as much trouble as I might have. In other words, I was willing to do crazy things, but my friends kept me more or less grounded.  Growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere may very well have saved my life.

In fact, once I could drive, I made some incredibly crappy decisions without any consideration of the consequences. The thing is, it’s still kinda hard to know what was just normal teenage behavior and what was outside of normal. I certainly wasn’t the craziest kid in town, but I definitely did things when I was hyper that I never would have done had I been thinking clearly.

There were definitely times that had someone offered, I would have done anything anyone suggested. But during my normal or depressed times, I was too shy to talk to the kids who would have encouraged that kind of behavior, and when I was manic [or hypomanic] I was angry at those same kids and hated them…so I avoided them anyway!

So much of my life makes more sense now.  I’ve been reading stories of people with bipolar disorder, and every once in a while, it hits me, “Dear God, that’s me.  It was always me.”  I’ve always had incredibly deep emotional highs and lows. I just feel more intensely than what can be considered ‘normal’.  Sometimes, I would have an intense high or low for no reason, and then go back in my mind to figure out what had caused the mood swing.  Now I know, there was no cause.  I mean, there might have been a trigger, but that’s not the same thing.

So looking back, I think my first manic or hypomanic state happened when I was about 13.  I spent the entire year completely hyper and pushing boundaries. The funny thing is, something always happened that prevented me from going through with some of my more erratic plans. My best friend and I had gotten caught skipping class and I believe we were suspended for a half day and got our parents called. So we decided we were going to run away from home. I missed the bus on purpose, and as my friend and I were walking out the front door to go somewhere that wasn’t home, my friend’s mom was waiting by the front door of the school and saw us.  My friend had an eye appointment she’d forgotten about.

My life is kind of littered with weird little coincidences like that. Things would happen to prevent me from going as far as I’d planned or been willing to go.  The few times nothing was there to stop me from making a bad choice, the experience was horrible enough that it scared me out of trying it again [or else it triggered an episode of depression, which sucked away my motivation].  One of the weird things about mania is that everything seems connected. It’s all a sign from God, or the Universe, or whatever.  It’s common to have spiritual experiences. It’s basically an altered state of consciousness without drugs.  It can be a time of wonderful creativity, or it can be horrible and incredibly self-destructive.

I never became suicidal to the point of actively trying to take my life, but I’ve been to a point where I wished I could die, and would do things that I knew could kill me if I got lucky.  Or unlucky, depending on how you look at it.  One of my more brilliant slow suicide attempts was when I started smoking at 18. I didn’t have the guts to attempt suicide, but I knew that smoking could eventually kill me, so I started.

So my first manic state was around age 13, and my second started right before I turned 19. Once I was 18, I had my driver’s license, so I was able to get into considerably more trouble than I had been at 13.  In fact, thinking about it today is still a little traumatic.  During that year or so, I lost my virginity through sexual assault, flunked out of nursing school, was sexually promiscuous with multiple partners, experimented with drugs and alcohol, and was generally a complete basket case.

I see now that my behavior during that time was completely out of character for me.  Looking back, and having read real accounts of what a mania episode looks like, I see that I more than qualified during that time.  In fact, writing even the briefest rundown of what happened to me during that year makes me cringe in shame.  I don’t want anyone to read it, and I didn’t even go into any real details.

It’s highly disturbing to realize that while most of my episodes have been with depression and hypomania, I’ve had distinct breaks from reality, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that they were far more frequent than I’d like to think about.

During the semester in which I managed to get kicked out of nursing school [I find that I want to tell you that I didn’t actually flunk out. I still had passing grades, all As and Bs, in fact. The reason my teachers didn’t let me continue was because I didn’t do my clinical papers.  Seriously. I didn’t graduate because I didn’t get my homework done. I could have sat and recited every disease process I’d seen, word for word, during my clinical time, but because I hadn’t written it down, I didn’t get to continue] I can’t help but wonder what might have been different if someone had been able to see my behavior as a manic episode.

It was 1993-1994, so chances are, I would have flunked out anyway, but still. If I’d have been diagnosed, they might have let me come back the following year if I’d managed to get stabilized by then.  There are some colleges that allow you to drop classes and take a leave of absence due to mental health issues.  God knows I needed one.  As it was, I got a mood stabilizer of sorts within a short time anyway. I met my future husband.

Which is where I need to end, because my current husband [who is the same guy! Let’s hear it for my beloved having the patience of Job dealing with a crazy wife all these years] is waiting for me to finish this so we can go on a motorcycle ride.  Cannot say no to motorcycle rides.  They are magnificent.  😉

First Love

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I was having random thoughts this morning, and one of the things I thought about was my ‘first love’.  I’m not talking about crushes, although this might have started out as a  crush.  I had my first crush in Kindergarten.  I’m not sure if that’s ‘normal’ or not, but it’s true.  His name was ‘Brion’ spelled with an ‘o’.  I’ve never really understood some parents’ desire to make their children ‘unique’ by spelling their names wrong.  I mean, everyone’s different because that’s how the human race works, so why make the poor kid weird [and his/her name impossible to spell] or make yourself look like you can’t spell.

You know what’s weird, though?  I picked the spelling “Michaela” because the name itself is a feminine form of Michael, and that’s what I was going for.  I didn’t want to do phonetic spelling, like Makayla or some such.  And you know what?  Nobody ever spells her name right.  They get it when I say ‘It’s Michael with an ‘a’ on the end.’ [well, usually].

So anyway, my first crush was named Brion.  Brion moved away in the third grade or so.  My second crush was named Aaron.  Aaron moved to our school in the fifth grade, and it was kind of the thing to have a crush on the ‘new guy’ so I did.  There might have been other crushes between Brion and Aaron.  I remember having a couple of crushes on girls, believe it or not, but I didn’t imaging smooching with them.  Mostly, I just thought they were really pretty and wanted to be their friend [pitiful, eh?].  I think some part of me wanted to be close to pretty girls in the hope that their prettiness would rub off on me.

I was a scrawny little shit, and people took savage pleasure in telling me how ugly I was every chance they got, so I ended up with a pretty damaged self-image.  I wasn’t nearly as ugly as I thought I was, but it doesn’t really matter anymore. I was also ridiculously shy, and I can’t help but wonder if they were related.  In any case, I never told any of my crushes that I liked them. As an adult, I’ve seen what a kid looks like when they have a crush, so I know it was painfully obvious to anyone with eyes and half a brain, but I was blissfully ignorant of my unconscious advertisement of unrequited love.

So anyway, my crushes weren’t just a couple of months and then move on to someone else.  These things lasted years.  Sometimes I would have mini-crushes, but for the most part, there was one guy that I liked, and that was it.  I think my crush on Aaron lasted five or six years.  It’s funny, though, because when I got older, I actually got to know him, and suddenly, my crush was gone.  Funny how that happens, isn’t it?  I see now that my imagination supplied his personality, and my imagination was a whole lot better than reality back then [maybe because I hadn’t experienced much in relationships that was real, and so didn’t know that my imaginings were unrealistic.  When I finally learned that fact, it was both a relief and a disappointment].

So the last one, the one where I actually knew the guy and was friends with him before having a crush on him, was actually the first guy I ever fell in love with.

His name was David.  I called him David, Davy, Dave, and often there were other nicknames, like ‘Dumbfuck’, ‘Dipshit’, and ‘Dumbass’.  They all fit, because he was an arrogant, annoying, infuriating person, and I took great pleasure in insulting him because he needed his head punctured on a fairly regular basis.

Dave and I had been friends/enemies for a long time.  We had gone through school together, from Kindergarten through high school, and we went through stages of friendship and dislike for each other the whole time.  David used to call me for answers on homework, and I’d give them to him.  It wasn’t that he wasn’t smart enough to do it on his own, it was just that for Dave, it was always more fun [although it was also often more work in the long run] to figure out a way to get school work done without having to actually do it himself.

This was back in the days before cordless phones, and I remember him telling me that he was riding his bike in circles in the garage, while talking on the phone with me, because his dad had an extra long cord on the phone in the garage.  Davy was always a cutie, but he was also a trouble maker.  One of our principals said he was ‘a-moral’ which is probably a misnomer, but his point was that Dave had no conscience.

I have my doubts that was actually the case, but I know that he had no problem stealing, fighting, faking injuries to get insurance money, and throwing hammers at cars as they were careening at about 80 miles an hour down the highway.  I think maybe he had ADHD and was a typical selfish kid with a natural inability to think about the consequences of how his actions might affect someone else.  I think he had less parental supervision, and he was naturally a risk-taker, so he did stupid stuff.

I was the exact opposite, in a way.  My mom was distinctly overprotective, and my dad was instinctively fearful of most things, so I caught all of that fear and doubt, and it pretty much kept me from doing much risk-taking until I graduated from high school and was mostly on my own.  I kind of had an overactive ‘consequence’ meter, and it would often tell me the most outlandish and unlikely and horrible possible consequence of my action, which kept me from doing much.

Ironic that it might have saved my life at some point, but stifled it as well.  I’m not sure that a long half-life is better than a short, full one.

So anyway, one day, Dave and I were good friends, the next, something shifted for me, and I wanted more than friends.  David never did.  He lied to me once or twice and told me he did, but I think it was just a manipulation tactic.

I don’t know how to do anything halfway [all or none, baby] so when I was in love with David, it kinda consumed me.  I see now that I was never actually in love with Dave for who he was at the time [he was a big jerk, truth be told] but in his potential.  I knew there was something good in him [and I still believe that’s true] and I knew that if he could focus that ridiculous energy and brain power toward something constructive, there’d be no stopping him.

So I encouraged him, and I tried to make him see that I believed in him and that I thought he could do anything.  I was one of those annoying girls who thinks, “If I can just love him enough, he’ll change.”  Yeah, well anyway, I was 17.  And David taught me what a lie that was, and I think I deserve some freaking kudos for learning it before I was old enough to drink, don’t you?  He never changed, at least not while I knew him.

But you know, I did learn a lot from David.  I learned how to encourage people and really believe in them.  If it hadn’t been for that fact, Steve might not be the wonderful man [as in, almost perfect] he is today [because he needed someone to believe in him and build him up, and he accepted that from me and used it to change himself…I think Stevie is a bit unusual in that, because most people refuse to change, even when they know they’re completely screwed up and wrong].

I also learned that I can’t change anyone.  I can offer them tools to change themselves [sometimes] but ultimately, they’re the ones who have to do the changing.  I learned that I deserved better [lots better] than what he was capable of giving me [manipulative friendship was about all he could handle.  As long as he was getting more than he was giving, it was a good day for David].  I kinda learned a bit about unconditional love, though, too.  Not love as in God’s love for us, but human love [which isn’t really unconditional, but can feel that way sometimes].

I was able to give to him because I cared, not because I expected anything in return, and I remembered how that felt and still try it from time to time to this day.

Of course, there was quite a bit of hurt and pain involved, too.  I wanted him to love me back, as a ‘girlfriend’, and he never did.  I think maybe I was one of those girls who make a good wife, but not a good girlfriend.  David was 17 and 18 during this time, he wasn’t ready to have a wife yet [I was too young, too, but if he’d asked, I’d have said yes].  What was I thinking?!?

Still, I do make a good wife, and I didn’t make a good girlfriend, and it all worked out for the best.

I should tell you that when I was thinking about writing this, I had lots of stuff I was going to say, and then fatigue hit like a ton of bricks, and the second half of this was written in a semi-comatose state.  So I apologize if I don’t make any sense.

I still dream about David from time to time, though, which is a little weird.  We’re often in high school again.  I used to forget about Steve and the kids, but the past few times I’ve dreamed about him, I’ve remembered that I’m married in the dream [and actually stayed faithful].  It’s weird to be in high school and married with three kids, lemme tell you!

Anyway, when I wake up after I dream about him, I always pray for him, where ever he is.  Last I heard, he’d moved to KC somewhere. I hope he is happy and always ask God to keep him safe.

I think I was pregnant with Matthew the last time I actually saw him. Steve was driving, and Shaya was in her car seat, and I was about six months pregnant.  Steve knows Davy was my first love, so it’s always a bit surreal when they meet.  Now when I see Dave, the sadness and feeling of loss I used to have is gone, and I feel only a laughing fondness for my old school friend.

I also feel incredibly grateful for the man I married.  David will always have a special place in my heart because he was a part of my life for so long, but I have no regrets about how things turned out.  Steve is almost freaking perfect, and maybe I see him that way because I’m partly in love with his potential, but I’m okay with that.  I also love who he is right now, and that’s why I have no regrets, because Steve is already better than I deserve, and if he gets better…wowee, an added bonus!

I think I have to sleep now.  Good grief.

Interesting Times

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My friend Lindsay and I are teaching a Sunday school class called “Pathway to Purpose for Women.” It’s written by the women’s ministry director of Saddleback church in California, which is headed up by the ‘Purpose Driven Life’ guy himself [Rick Warren].

We started a few weeks ago, and things have been going pretty well. I love teaching adults, so it’s a bit like coming home after a long time being out of commission. There’s something inside me that thrives on being able to facilitate spiritual growth, and I think we’re beginning to accomplish that, so I’m excited.

Last Sunday, we started on chapter two, the title of which is: “Leaving Your Past Behind.” I felt like we needed to take a week and do the exercises that are listed in the book, so I assigned homework [evil me]. That’s all fine and good, except I have to do the homework, too.

So I put it off, and finally tackled the first exercise yesterday. I wrote a couple of pages on the exercise labeled, “Write about your pain.” I actually made some connections with my past and how it still affects my life, and I think I actually accomplished some healing, which is way cool.

I also learned that some of my issues have resulted in me being a selfish, competitive bitch, which is depressing. I thought most of my stuff was about my low self-esteem, being overly sensitive, and being a ‘victim’ of crappy circumstances.

What I realized was that some of that is true, but a good portion of it also comes from the fact that I’m a perfectionist who doesn’t like being second at anything. I figured out what caused it, and feel horrible about it, but here it is in all its glory.

My brother Jeremi has cerebral palsy and is a quadriplegic because of it. Growing up, J got most of the attention, whether from my parents [who had to take care of his every need] or others [who fawned over him and heaped praises upon his head for his every tiny accomplishment].

As an adult, I understand why they did it, but as a child, I only saw the great things everyone said about Jeremi, how smart he was, how mischeivous, blah blah blah. They would take several minutes to hug Jeremi, ask him yes or no questions so he could answer them [he blinked for ‘yes’ and verbalized ‘no’] and would laugh when he made jokes [they would ask him if he was being good or staying out of trouble, and he would always say, loud and clear, “NO!”].

When they were finished with J, some would turn to me and ask how I was doing, some would move on to my mom and dad, and forget me completely. It’s a weird dynamic, living with a sibling who has a disability. I loved Jeremi and prayed for him to be healed, but I think maybe it wasn’t always just for his benefit. I wanted J to be ‘normal,’ too, partly because I wanted to get some attention, too.

I had everything J wanted more than life, and yet I wanted what he had. I never wanted to be disabled, but I wanted to be significant, to be admired, to matter, too.

When I was in junior high, my school finally caved to the ADA and allowed Jeremi to become a student there. They had an assembly, saying that Jeremi would be coming, and that he was in a wheelchair. J wasn’t in any of my classes that year, but I heard from his classmates. They either pretended he didn’t exist or they fell in love with him, and if they loved him, they never hesitated to tell me how cool my brother was.

Meanwhile, I had just begun to carve out a spot for myself in the school. I had finally learned how to make jokes before people could make fun of me [for whatever reason, usually for being smart, ugly, or too skinny]. I learned sarcasm and wasn’t afraid to use it, even if it hurt my target. I wasn’t relentlessly cruel, but I could be mean.

I had learned not to be so sensitive, to build a wall between who I really was, and who I let people see. Of course, now I realize that I did myself considerable harm, but at the time, it was the only way I could cope.

That’s when I began to ridicule people who showed character traits that I had stifled, too. I had hidden the part of me that doesn’t quite fit in, whatever that something is. I dunno, I guess it’s the ‘artist’ mentality, for lack of a better word. I’m still trying to reconnect to that part of me, and I’m not all the way there yet.

So from my home life, I developed a strong desire to be in the spotlight. To be considered significant in my own right, not because I had a brother in a wheelchair.

I had a couple of instances early on where I would really try on an art project, or contest of some sort [I did spelling bees], hoping to distinguish myself. Sometimes I succeeded, and other times I failed. I’m just figuring this out, so bear with me, but I think at some level, I always wanted to be the ‘teacher’s pet.’

I was in a bad class to accomplish that, though, since several of my classmates were kids of teachers, and several others had parents who were friends with teachers, so those kids had connections before I ever started school.

They got preferential treatment because of who their parents were, and no one knew my parents. We lived in the country, and my parents were never big on being ‘room mom’ or whatever. Mom worked nights or evenings, and Dad was a farmer and worked his ass off, so there wasn’t an opportunity for them to get to know the teachers.  I was on my own, and I was too shy to speak up most of the time.

There were a couple of things that I could shine in. Unfortunately, they were areas that the teacher’s kid was good at, too.

So my whole life has been about wanting to be the best. But, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I had to give myself an ‘out,’ just in case I wasn’t ‘the best,’ so I never put forth my absolute best effort. That way, if I failed, I could believe that it was because I didn’t do my best, not because someone else was better than me.

This is exhausting to write about, I can just imagine what you are going through right now trying to read it.

I’m still trying to figure out how I can be a perfectionist and only do things half-assed, but that trait is still there, too. I think it’s been about making excuses for not doing anything, and making excuses for not succeeding when I do try [because I don’t try my hardest].

And all of this is because, like an idiot, I compare myself to others, and find myself lacking. Which brings us full circle, back to: I really don’t like myself very much. I don’t matter as much as others, so I don’t matter at all.
It’s all a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

So last night, I realized that I have to stop doing things half-assed. I need to do the best that I possibly can, and then let the chips fall where they may. One thing I figured out is that even if I fail, if I’m not the best, I can know that I did my personal best, and then the next time I try it, if I learned from my mistakes, I will do better.

I also have to stop using the, “If I can’t do it perfectly the first time, I’m not gonna do it, and if I’m not perfect the first time I attempt something new, I’m never gonna try it again,” lame-ass excuse.

I mean come on, big baby much?

That means I’m gonna finish this damn novel I started if it kills me, then I’m gonna edit the hell out of it [or into it, depending on how you look at it!]. Then I’m gonna take a hard look at it and start querying agents so I can send the damn thing out. If it gets published, great. If it doesn’t, I’ll write another damn novel, and do better next time, won’t I?

The cool thing about figuring out some of your shit is it empowers you to change the self-defeating behavior. The bad thing here is, I still haven’t figured out all of my shit.

I’m writing on my novel again, so I’ve obliterated a couple of blocks, but at some point this is gonna happen again, because I have a feeling I’m not done yet. I’m liking myself more and more, but finding out that I’m really competitive [and not very nice about it] bothered me a lot.

I’ve never been one to outwardly be a bitch to other people, but in my thought life, I’ve eviscerated more than one person who was more successful than I was. I’ve fought jealousy more times than I care to think about, and I’m sad to say that jealousy has probably destroyed more friendships or potential friendships than I realize.

I’ve been resentful, and a little afraid of people who are more successful than I am. Rather than try to learn from them, I’ve avoided them, thinking that they would see me the same way I saw myself: Inferior. I think I’ve missed a lot of valuable lessons by doing that, and I’ve probably missed getting to know some incredible people, too.

I’ve read two books in the past few months written by people who went to Calcutta to work with Mother Theresa for a while. Both of those people wrote a letter, or made a call, and ended up making the trip of a lifetime to meet and work alongside one of the most amazing people of our time.

It never occurred to me to write a letter to Mother Theresa because I figured it would be a waste of time. I never imagined that she would be able to take the time to talk to me, or respond to something I had written. And yet, for at least two people, she invited them to come, and they did. I wonder what would have happened if I’d taken a chance and called the number. I’ll never know now, but there’s a lesson in there, don’t you think?

Life’s about taking chances and risking failure, and sometimes a ‘no’ isn’t a failure, but a postponement for something better. You won’t find out if you never take the first step, though, right?

Damn, Damn, Damn

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I hate multilevel marketing. I think many good products have earned the right to be boycotted simply because of shit like, “I’ve just been working this business, and I make six figures now, and every one I know is making six figures, and we’re all rich and you can be too if you just spend lots of money on this wonderful product… blah blah fucking blah.”

Steve wanted to join Amway when we first got married, so we did. I hated it. I don’t sell stuff, and I can’t justify selling products to my friends and family for retail if I can get a discount. Seems wrong to me [which is why I’ll never own my own store, either].

So I hear about this supplement company from an acquaintance [who I actually like] and it’s MLM, but the supplements sound like they might actually help with some of my health issues, so I want to try them.

One month’s worth [two cans] of the basic stuff is $65 a month per person. I can’t [no, I won’t] pay $45 for a can of anything unless it’s freaking gold plated.

So I go to eBay thinking I can get the stuff cheaper, try the products, and see if it helps my health stuff. I accidentally let it slip today when I was talking to my acquaintance [who might have become a friend at some point, but now I think she won’t speak to me again, and I feel like an asshole and a bigmouth].

She was shocked that they sell the stuff on eBay, and called her upline person and we had a three-way call about it. During that call, the upline person informed me that selling the stuff on eBay was illegal, and that the product was probably fake, and that people who sell the product for cheaper than you can buy it from a distributor are unethical, and that I should be loyal to the person who introduced the product to me and buy from her even though I would have to pay over $20 more per can.

Oh yeah, this business is all about helping people get their proper nutrition so they can feel better.

During the call, I mentioned that the real average earnings of a distributor is about $1200 per year, and not the six figures everybody is always talking about [and I found that info on the company’s website. The lady tried to tell me that wasn’t true, but there it was, so, um, who’s lying?]

Yeah, so I think I pissed upline girl off. And I may have pissed off my acquaintance, which makes me sad, but the thing about MLM is that the ‘company’ brainwashes its distributors.

I kept hearing the same crap over and over that we used to hear at the freaking Amway meetings. “This business has been such a blessing to us, our friends and family, and we just love helping people. That’s our main concern, helping others to build their business and change their lives.”

Well, after upline girl leaves the call, my friend says that her main concern was that I might not get the real product, and that when it comes, we’d get together and figure out dosages and whatnot, because she still wanted to help me, and once I saw what the products could do, I’d be a convert for life, etc. Very friendly and helpful, although she did share that she doesn’t give her family a discount [after I’d said I wouldn’t be able to charge retail to my family because they’re poor, too].

She gave me the rationalization that [I’m sure] her upline gave her, which is, “Well, if you give the product away, they won’t appreciate what they’re getting.”
Huh?

How is that even close to being a valid argument for overcharging someone for a product?

We hung up, and I sent her an e-mail with the link to the truth about what distributors earn, and I also mentioned that upline girl kind of hurt my feelings because she basically said that I have no ethics [word of advice, if you’re trying to sell something, don’t try this tactic. It generally pisses off potential customers].

I also told her that I had a really hard time with people justifying a really high price for a good product when it could be helping so many more people if the prices were cheaper. I also said that it wasn’t true that getting something free or cheap means that they won’t appreciate what they’ve got, and that I would appreciate anything that helped me feel better whether I’d paid money for it or not.

Looking back, I’m thinking that might have been what upset her [if indeed she’s mad… the written word is hard to inflect properly, but you tell me what you think].

So later, I get an e-mail from my friend saying, “We are part of a company with great integrity and ethics. One of the guidelines of the business is whoever sold the products does follow up. Because of your choice to buy our products off eBay, I will not be able to do follow up with you.”

Does that sound, um, pissed off to you? Steve says I over-reacted and that she probably didn’t mean anything by it, but I was hurt by the cold tone. I imagine upline girl told her to do it, and not everyone can write in a way that ‘sounds’ kind.

So anyway, I wrote back saying that the e-mail ‘sounded’ like she was upset, and I apologized [and I was being honest, I don’t bullshit about stuff like that] for offending her, if indeed I did.

I don’t want to have hard feelings with this person because I genuinely like her. Multilevel marketing, [and that ‘company’] however, is a completely different story. I can’t believe that the exact script I heard ten years ago from Amway is still the same bullshit they try to pull, and the ‘company’ and product they’re selling doesn’t matter, it’s all the same spiel.

They all use “God talk” [Oh, this business was such a blessing, answer to prayer, way to do God’s work and help others.] Yeah, they’ll help you only as long as you’re padding their paychecks.

I understand the reasoning/rationalization, but I still think it’s wrong, wrong, wrong.

Dammit, this whole episode has made me sick. Blech. And I’m disappointed because I let myself start to believe that there might be something to help my fibromyalgia and all the bullshit pain, fatigue, foggy brain, and other crap that goes along with it.

That’s what hurts me most, because I really do want desperately to feel better, and yet every time I think I’ve made some headway, I get kicked in the face.

Damn stupid assholes.