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Blog Entries posted by Capulet

  1. Capulet
    That's what my daughter asked me this afternoon.  
    Ahhh...it's been a crazy-ish week, so far.
    For starters, I'm starting to think God has the absolute worst form of colic.  All he does is CRY!  I mean, yeah, looking at today's world, I can certainly understand the need to bawl rather than try and analyze why we're forced to deal with the amount of stress we're destined to deal with - all in one lifetime, too.  We've not had more than two or three days in a row without rain.  
    I normally wouldn't care so much whether it rained or the sun was out - I'm not an outdoorsy type at all.  When it rains, I'm usually at home and I busy myself with housework.  When it's sunny, my vampire mode kicks in and I prefer to stay in and relax if I have no other pressing plans.  Oh, and another interesting tidbit about me - I have something called 'achoo syndrome.'  It's really a thing, look it up.  I can't step out into the sunlight without sneezing violently and scaring the living hell out of whoever's standing next to me at the time.
    However, this rain worries me.  I'm planning a graduation party for exactly thirteen days from now and my backyard has been waiting (patiently I might add...since mid-April!) for a concrete pour and the ass-clown I hired to do the job will not do it if the ground is wet.  Weather IS a factor when it comes to cement pouring but he's also delayed doing the work on days God was 'happy' (as rarely as that's been lately) and I'm trying NOT to panic at the thought that the yard simply may not be finished in time.  Ass-clown says he will be here Monday and cement should be poured by Wednesday - but honestly, I've heard all of this, before. 
    We'll see.  I'm seriously going to join God and cry if this crap isn't done by the end of next week.  The cement is only the first step - I also have to repair patches of grass that the men wrecked during their working moments, and I have to see about some decorating...this, of course, means another trip to Home Depot is in my very near future.
    So, the party-planner in me is a nervous wreck.  I'll have about 50 people in my back yard, which, right now, looks like a waterlogged dump.
    The Son's actual graduation day is the 12th.  He is in need of a pair of pants and a dress shirt and a tie.  And a shave and a haircut.  Oh, and if an attitude adjustment could be arranged, too, that would be great.  You would think he needed a root canal; he's constantly complaining that he doesn't like wearing 'dressy' attire but it clearly states on his school notice discussing graduation what the Class of 2018 is expected to wear.  Every day since that notice came home, I'll ask him, "shall we go to the Big & Tall after school today?"  And every day, his answer is, "nah, I'm tired," or "nah, I've got homework," or just plain, "nah, I don't feel like it."  We are now nine days away from graduation and he has no pants, no shirt, no tie and no shoes, he's built like John Candy but has Zach Galifianakis' haircut with a five o'clock shadow he's too lazy to tend to.  It's just ANOTHER THING we have to deal with in a short amount of time.  So not only is the cement guy delaying me in several ways, I feel the Son is trying to cut it close, too.
    So, before he left to go to the wasband's house, I informed him through clenched teeth that on Wednesday afternoon, we were going to the store after school and we would NOT be leaving until he's got a full outfit for his graduation. I got a very well rehearsed, "Absolutely, Mom.  We will do that."
    The sports fan in me is not happy right now, either.  My New York Mets have sincerely forgotten how to play the game called baseball.  My father, whom I inherited Mets fandom from, actually went online to try and get tickets to a YANKEE game.  His reasoning?  "I want to see some REAL baseball!  I feel like I'm watching a Little League team!"  (And he's not wrong about that.)  I just came from watching tonight's game...score is tied at 1-1 for seven innings or so - then the Mets (Mess) decide to put in a reliever with a high ERA (I DO understand the bullpen was getting thin, but STILL....) and the Cubs score six.  And to add injury to insult, the Mets come up empty in the bottom of the 14th.  They've now lost four or five in a row - I forget which, but watching their games is rapidly becoming a risk of wasted time.  Maybe I'll just start putting the games on during the last inning?
    The Daughter had me laughing earlier this week, though.  Do you all remember where, in a couple blog entries ago, I mentioned that I was dealing with some private issues?  Well, I'm still not quite ready to divulge all those details but it has to do with her recent behavior and a phone call was placed by the school.  The wasband was involved, of course, but we've NEVER been on the same page when it came to figuring out what was best when dealing with our children.  He simply disciplines while I prefer to talk to them and both try to understand and help THEM understand why they acted in a certain way.  I feel that's the most effective way to parent because you're actually listening to THEIR side, too and they see this - which makes them more likely to come to me for guidance or advice or whenever they run into trouble.  I'm of the belief that if you lose your shit, they'll learn very quickly that you're NOT able to be there for them in a rational, calm manner when it's needed.   And so, I listen and I discipline them AFTER I've heard the full story, I know they understand what they did was wrong and not before.  But the wasband, having come from a broken, unstable home filled with violence and drug/alcohol abuse, has never been one to listen to what the kids have to say but is quick to deal out a punishment.  It's a typical Lion Vs. Lamb situation.  The kids are terrified of going to him first, for this reason mainly.
    Anyway, long story short - the daughter has had her phone taken away for two weeks, now, as a result of her latest misbehavior.  The wasband and I had sat her down (was just us three) and we had a discussion.  Before this (pre-planned; 'meet me at the park at 5:00' sorta thing) discussion, I told the daughter that she just had to hear him out and let him say whatever he needed to say - we already knew he'd resort to his usual unreasonable, belittling ways and she wasn't likely to get a word in.  She knows now that even if she doesn't agree with him, she'd better pretend she does because there is simply NO reasoning with him when he talks.  This is exactly how I felt when I was married to him, and sadly, STILL how I feel, even after being divorced for almost ten years.  The path of least resistance is simply to nod and let him THINK he's getting a point across.  She (and her brother) has come to recognize this trait in her father and she was prepared for this meeting knowing that she and I would talk later on when it was just us two.  
    So, this is the part that made me chuckle.  The wasband has a very distinct, unmistakeable face that he puts on whenever he doesn't understand or agree with something.  His eyes get narrow, his lip curls upwards.  He'll talk slowly, making you feel like you'd BETTER respond the right way.  Yes, I'm fully aware this is all part of the abuse he's been inflicting on everyone around him for the last two decades or more, but some people, I've learned to accept, simply can't be fixed.  The Son is nearly 18 and will eventually lock horns with his father (won't be a good day, but is inevitable, I think) and the Daughter, at 12, is already forming her own conclusions in regard to her father's character versus her mother's.  Anyway, when this face comes on, he's clearly disgusted with you, he makes you feel as if YOU'RE the crazy one, and whatever you approached him about in the first place, becomes something you simply don't want to address anymore, resulting in the dropping of said topic/subject.  It certainly was a deterrent when I approached him while we were married, and asked him if I could visit a therapist once per week.  That didn't work out so well.
    Anyhow, during our meeting, he put this face on.  A face that the Daughter now refers to as the 'TrumpFace.'  We had a very amusing talk on the way home from the park, where in the car I asked her how she felt it went.  She felt she didn't get a chance to explain herself because he simply wouldn't listen to her nor did he present as approachable due to the constant putting on of the TrumpFace.  I think, though, we'll just call it Constipa-Face because to me, it does resemble our current POTUS but also looks as if the wasband is severely constipated and is in serious need of some toilet time.  
    On one hand, I'm secretly glad that the Daughter and I have this mutual understanding about her Dad, but on the other, I am somewhat saddened because I do not feel that any child should feel that a parent is not truly there or understanding them and their needs.  I guess in this respect, I'm going to be pulling double duty because Constipa-Face is incapable of change.  
    Has a nice ring to it, don't it?
    So, ahh....yes - when the Daughter came into my room and caught me in autopilot mode, just kind of going down the list of shit I have to get accomplished this week, I looked down and realized that I was slowly feeding tiny bits of beef jerky to the cat.  He was enjoying it, too...it was a tender enough brand of jerky and he was likely savoring the flavor-filled chews before swallowing his treat.  And he'd wait patiently for the next morsel, too, which I'd deliver in between my own little bites.
    I suppose I'll find out in the morning if he truly enjoyed it or it ended up irritating his stomach.  
    Hoping all's well with you guys.  Until next time.
    - Capulet
  2. Capulet
    Hello everyone!!!
    I'll first acknowledge how long it's been since my last update...things have been - well - crazy.  Not necessarily a 'bad' kind of crazy - but perhaps the crazy that instead keeps me from being able to sit down and say that I've actually had time to process it all.  Sometimes it takes me time to even WANT to process some of it, so that delays me even more.
    The post-Oompa headache (that pounding sensation at my temples that I experience whenever my mother takes herself and her drama and goes HOME) has subsided and I'm finally able to sit in reflection.  Sometimes her visits are 'meh,' and sometimes they leave my brain feeling like the aftermath of a tornado.  Like, this past visit to our house for the holiday, for example.
    To start - my mother is 'preoccupied' these days.  Earlier last week, she found out that my youngest sister's husband has been cheating.  My mother, of course, was the first person my sister told; so now, naturally, everyone knows.  I was the first one Mom told - followed by the "please don't tell anybody."  Why?  Because my brother in law is 'embarrassed.'  He's the uncle that my kids ABSOLUTELY adore, the one son-in-law that my mother used to be able to boast about, the one daughter who had a husband that was 'a good one.'  He was the one up on the proverbial pedestal, but now that has come toppling down.  Now, Mom's illusion of the 'perfect' couple has been shattered - and you'd think my brother-in-law cheated on my mother instead of my sister.  It's all about Mom, don't you know?  It's always about her - because she has to be involved in the things that she has nothing to do with, she has to have a say in everything.  Apparently now that it's been revealed that my brother-in-law was cheating with someone at work - she's looking up potential alternative jobs for him - jobs elsewhere.  
    Yes, there's a lot wrong with that picture, if you ask me...but, this is not my business any more or less than it is hers - so...moving on.
    At any rate, she came here for Easter - although I'm sure it was begrudgingly; we all know that she wanted to be at my sister's side.  My sister had standing plans to go to her in-laws' for the holiday - (I should mention that she is being supported 100% by my brother-in-law's parents - they are absolutely FURIOUS with him for shaming their 'respectable' family - and are backing her completely - even if it means letting him shack up in his old bedroom because my sister kicked him out) - and upon finding out about her husband's infidelity, wasn't sure if she wanted to go to his family's for the holiday.  Oompa, whose plans were to be here with us, put herself on standby - if my sister decided to not go to her in-laws', then Oompa would be spending Easter with her, instead.  My sister, Oompa claims is 'needy,' (she is, she calls Oompa for EVERYTHING) and she didn't want her to be alone.
    As it turns out, my sister DID go to the in-laws'....my lying, cheating brother-in-law has a lot of reparations to make; even so, there's no guarantee they'll be able to re-establish trust.  Even I know though, that this is something they have to work out.  Just them. This is something that has to be figured out by the two of them alone, and without the influence of my mother, or of his parents.  Maybe there's a marriage counselor involved, but that's it.  This is something that NO ONE can fix, other than the main players - her and him.  That's IT.  ANY sensible person knows that!!
    Oompa, of course, doesn't understand this.  She spent a good portion of the weekend (while she was here) bitching about how shocked she was to hear about the marital problems they were having, not to mention looking up job openings for my brother-in-law ('he has to get away from that skank!!!') and calling around to inquire....she even called my sister every few hours to see how she was doing, probably hoping my sister would say she wanted her to go home and be with her.  She didn't.  So, although my mother stayed from all day Friday until early Monday morning, I could tell she really wasn't wanting to be here - she was physically present, but mentally, she was elsewhere.
    At one point, I had to say to my mother, "She'll (my sister) be fine.  She's a big girl.  There's nothing you can do."  
    OK, so...we're now all aware of Oompa's mindset...overall, she was NOT focused on visiting or enjoying time with any of us or even on the holiday.  In hindsight, it would have made more sense for her to have not come at all.  
    On Easter morning, she went to church at one of the local Catholic parishes around where we live.  I managed to sleep in.  I got up a few minutes before she came back from Easter mass.  While I was still 'waking up,' she got a call from her brother - (yes, the same piece-of-shit I've mentioned in previous blog entries, the same one she wanted me to greet at the family gathering last month!) - and when I came into the kitchen, she was in the middle of that phone call.  He had called to wish her a Happy Easter and I'd walked in during the tail end of their conversation.  When she hung up, she sighed, shook her head, and got back to preparing this (god-awful) pie she had decided to bake for our Easter dessert later on.
    "That was your uncle," she said while mixing pie ingredients, "He's not doing well."  And then, like one of those old-fashioned Italian grannies, she shook the wooden spoon she was using in the general direction of my face, and said, "Not that you care.  And God don't like ugly!"
    I blinked at her.  Honestly, I was at a loss for words.  At that moment, I'm 'hearing' the thoughts in my head.  She's not okay right now.  She's NOT calling ME ugly...she's just overwhelmed with EVERYTHING ELSE, and doesn't know what she's saying....yeah, that's it...right???  That's what's happening here?
    I guess I must have shrugged, too.  She went on, "THAT was why I wanted you to say hello to him at your nephew's birthday party.  It very quite possibly could have been your FINAL hello!"
    Okay, that's it.  I couldn't bite my tongue any further.
    "He's been dead to me for years, already."  I told her with one of my famous nonchalant shrugs.  I'd already suspected that was her reason for wanting me to say hello to him - so he could die thinking everything was peachy keen between him and the niece he'd been so estranged from for almost two decades?  That a 'hello' would somehow 'fix' this???  Hah.  Little did she know that I was fully prepared to do a happy dance whenever she would confirm to me that he'd soon be meeting his end.  It just didn't seem to be the right time to express my overwhelming joy over this man soon being reduced to nothing but a pile of shit, maggots and formaldehyde.
    "STILL."  She said, spoon still waving, "I taught you girls to have respect!"
    "Yes, you did."  I agreed, "And I have respect for those who deserve it."
    She went back to preparing her pie.  My stepfather was sitting at the kitchen table at the time of this dialogue/exchange and was mumbling.  This is his 'normal,' though.  He either mumbles or he screams.  And I'm not even sure WHAT he was mumbling about.  But all of a sudden, my mother whips her head around and (almost TOO) quickly snaps for him to 'shut up.'
    She went on to say to her husband, "You don't know what you're talking about! That's not it, it has to do with my mother and the inheritance, she's mad at him because of that....not because of...you need to shut up!  Just SHUT UP!!!!"  (And all of this was accompanied with the wide, wild eyes and facial expression that just added exclamation points to her words.)
    He mumbled again - but these words were haunting; "that's just what she tells you."
    I don't know what it was that he said (mumbled) to make her so snappy, but he's certainly right about that - what I tell her is what I've been sticking to for all of these years that I've chosen to eliminate her brother from my life.  
    Now here's where I hate my hearing loss the most - I wasn't going to ask him to repeat himself and to inquire as to what he'd said to make my mother so agitated.  By now, she'd had her outburst and he'd ceased his mumbling and I'm shit out of luck - no one else was there to 'hear' him for me - and when it was being said, ALL I could focus on was my mother's reaction.  I know that reaction all too well - it's the same one she puts on when she is trying to 'prevent' information from being given out or trying to say, 'it's time to nix this conversation' with her eyes.
    What gives, Ma?  Why are you so angry?  Why are you so anxious for your husband to 'shut up?'  What are you afraid your husband is going to 'remind' me of?? 
    Truthfully, I've not been giving too much thought to 'things' lately.  I've been trying to focus on going back to school, sticking to the 'important' things going on in my life currently - THIS is not something I want in my forefront, or anywhere near it at the moment.  My suspicions of childhood CSA is something there's no resolution to - not now.  Not until perhaps, my disgusting uncle finally DOES drop dead.  He's been expected to die before - and I've learned that unfortunately, this putrid asshole has more lives than all five of my cats combined - he's cheated death before, it'd be premature to celebrate his departure now - no, this will have to wait until that call finally DOES come.  THEN, I'll deal with whatever feelings should pop up, be they good ones or not-so-favorable ones.  Even so, I don't know HOW I'm going to approach this subject.  What I DO know, though, is she won't be involved when and if I do.
    In the meantime, and even though this is not a priority, I'm finding it increasingly disturbing that my mother, someone I am supposed to look up to, someone I'm supposed to be proud of, instead disgusts me.  Lately, I'm just appalled even more on how she STILL continues to invalidate me by demanding respect for someone who doesn't deserve it.  Oh, and now that it's even more clear she will go to great lengths to 'silence' anyone else with differing opinions on why I don't want this man in my life, more or less alive.  
    And last, but not least, she'll make ANY situation about HER - whether it's about me or one of her other daughters, she'll find a way to flip it and make it HER problem.  I hate to admit to so, but she truly has an unhealthy obsession with feeling needed, feeling wanted.  She can't just let people deal with things in the way they want or need to; she can't resist the urge to insert herself into the situation and to make herself involved.  Instead of just being there as a support, she has to make herself a PART of the problem!
    I dunno about you, but this all makes my mother a VERY difficult person to enjoy being around.  Sadly, all I can think about is how she's looking uglier by the day.
    You're right, Mom.  "God don't like ugly."
    Go say that in front of a fucking mirror, maybe it'll sink in.
    - Capulet
  3. Capulet
    Hi, friends.
    I don't normally post a spontaneous blog entry...usually I save these periodic updates for when I find that I've been struggling or something has 'clicked,' or unless I feel there's generally more to say.  Sometimes, though, it's okay to post the shorter entries, too, and in the interests of keeping the mind-clutter down to a minimum, I want to share a little thought I had this morning...a thought that didn't immediately register, but instead was automatically shuffled back to the 'let's deal with this later,' pile on account of bigger things occupying the front lines.
    I remember so clearly the night that the wasband and I sat our (then) 7-year-old son down in between us on the couch; it was the night we told him that we were going to be getting divorced.  It was the first time that we've ever broken his heart. I remember him looking up at each of us with tear-stained 'now, what?' face that in turn, broke MY heart.  The wasband, completely unfazed by our child's reaction, said, 'it's between your mother and I.  Suck it up, you'll be fine.'
    I remember thinking to myself in that moment, I'm the one who is going to be fine - I'll not have to deal with this man anymore, I'll no longer have to answer to him, I'll no longer be CONTINUALLY subject to his emotional and verbal abuse - even if I wouldn't be completely devoid of it - because this is the kind of man he IS and always was.  And as long as we have children together, this asshole is still going to remain a consistent part of my life...and he WILL harass me the same way he harasses his FIRST ex-wife, the same way he verbally puts down everyone he comes into contact with, be it at home, or the workplace or at family gatherings or at K-Mart because someone had the NERVE to say something that offended him.  Either way, a divorce, to me, meant that my contact with him was going to be severely reduced, and I was secretly THRILLED that this was finally happening after being his wife and living with him for the 8 years we were together.
    So, fast forward to ten years later, and also few days ago, my son came home from classes.  He and I sat at the table and had lunch - grilled cheeses!  While we were eating, he made the statement that he wasn't looking forward to going back to his father's house because he knew he would be treated badly, called names, and overall be made to feel like shit.  
    I understood exactly what he was saying.  I HAVE indeed (in the last year, especially) noticed a HUGE change in the wasband.  His health is declining - he's got multiple stents in his heart, he's got a protruding belly hernia that requires surgery to fix, and he's got existing blood pressure issues, diabetes and likely more unknown underlying medical issues that we're not aware of, yet.  He's a homeowner now, for the first time in his life, and now has financial issues up the wazoo (new house, new car, new everything), and all of the added stresses of commuting back and forth to work (4 hours total) every day and having his THIRD wife and six kids to support has taken a tremendous toll on him.  He's angry ALL the time.  He barks at everyone around him, even his current wife LOOKS miserable and is failing at hiding her unhappiness.  I have NEVER been more glad that I'm not his wife anymore - but at the same time, I feel terrible that our kids constantly bear witness to his mood swings and his bitterness.  He's a truly miserable man and this is NOT what I wanted for my son and daughter.  But this, like many other things, is truly out of my hands.
    BOTH of my children have recently come to me with, "I hate Dad."  BOTH kids have gotten to the point of (more than usual) eye-rolling at the mention of his name.  They have shared their frustrations about him with me and J - and I'm finding that I can 'defend' him less and less these days.  When they've complained about him in the past, I've always told them that he loves them and provides - and he does - financially.  His provisions are more obligatory than they are sincere - he SAYS he loves his children but instead belittles them all and acts as if he can't stand any of them.  He is the biggest definition of a hypocrite.  
    He mostly verbally and emotionally abusive toward them - although he is NOT afraid to resort to physical means of discipline when he sees fit.  My son put it perfectly - right now, he is physically unable to give them the beatdowns he THREATENS to give them, so they just stand there and take the slew of verbal threats, knowing he probably is too weak to carry them out and can't really move very quickly - THAT's how bad his health has gotten.  And they've learned to NOT take his threats seriously, either; they KNOW he is a bully and an irrational sonofabitch and that his treatment of them, although it's not necessarily right, is simply all he knows how to do and it's not likely to change.  Ever.  
    So, while we were eating our grilled cheeses, I asked my now 18-year-old son what he needed from me.  Did he need me to confront his father about how he's treating our children?  Did he need me to grab the balls I hadn't been born with, and defend him and his sister and speak up about what I now know goes on in his (unstable) household?
    "Ma, there's absolutely nothing you can do."  He said, "I get it, I know how he is.  If you tried to do anything, he would just make everyone's life even more miserable.  He probably won't live past 50, anyway, so I have learned to just take it for now and shrug off whatever he's gotta say."  (And he said that with such a casual ease - almost as if he, too, anticipates his father's dying to be what frees us all from him!)   
    I did the math, mentally.  He turns 50 in 2020.  If he's right, that's not a whole lot of time.
    "Dude, you're an adult," I told him.  "You know you CAN break away from him, you always have here to come and live full-time if that's what you want to do."
    My son shook his head, "No. Because then he'll say I abandoned my family and that I am refusing to help out.  And he'll harass me and treat me even worse than he treats me now."
    There was a little more back-and-forth but eventually, my son confirmed that the divorce was the BEST thing I could have done for myself, and that breaking his heart when he was 7 was a necessity.  He also said, "I WILL be fine - my dad's an asshole but I have the kindest, most supportive mother - so I have both ends of the spectrum!"  
    I managed a weak smile before he retreated to his room after lunch.  
    It also occurred to me that not only is going back to school, getting my degree, and finally starting a job is definitely going to help me break away from HIM - if my son is wrong and the bastard lives past the time it takes for me to finish my education, then I'll be in a better position to make a jailbreak move and remove my daughter from his house if she's under 18 at the time.  But as is right now - I am not financially able to sustain myself and my own current living arrangements without the child support he pays.  I mean, how fucked up is this??  If I were to take him to court and to petition for full custody, (right now we have joint custody - they spend half the week with me and half with him) I know damn well he would argue that I'm an unfit (in the sense that I'm jobless and completely reliant on his child support payments on top of monthly SSI) mother.  Deep down, I know that is not the case, I've taken care of them for their entire lives - I've loved and nurtured and supported them in every single thing they've strived to do - I was the one to take them to doctors, emergency rooms, any appointments.  I'm the one who attended basketball games, concerts (even though I can't hear a damn thing at those - it was MY face they saw more often, because he was either late or held up at work).  I'm the one who took them shopping (yes, with his money) whenever they needed anything.  In my opinion, that's better parenting than he's ever done.  But all of that, for some reason, doesn't seem like enough when pitted against a person like him.  He's spent enough time putting me down and making my accomplishments seem minuscule compared to HIS 'financial support' and I'm left with that dreaded feeling that a judge will agree with him and declare that they're better off with him.  Granted, the judge would have to be just as much of an asshole as he is but it's not a chance I am emotionally comfortable taking right now.  
    And, unfortunately my kids, if they were asked, are too damn afraid to speak up on HIS faults and abusive ways.  For some reason (probably because of his constant abuse!) they are naturally terrified of disappointing their father and I am fearful that I'd lose them entirely if they were too afraid to speak the truth.
    I've decided that, for now, I'm going to watch the wasband like a hawk - and the MINUTE he causes either of my children (or any of his others, I don't discriminate, especially since I raised his elder two and his youngest is my godchild!) any physical harm, will be the same minute I contact an attorney.  The emotional damage has already been done to all of us - and although I don't live with him anymore, I am STILL suffering those effects.  Y'all have seen how much of his bullshit has seeped into my current relationship.  And my kids, one of whom is now an adult, I can't expect to say or do anything that I can't even do, myself.  
    It looks like, though, little by little, my ex is losing their respect.  And it is something that he has brought upon himself.  In a way, that's a win for me. I'll no longer defend him to my kids - they're too smart for it, now.  And it is a small comfort that they are seeing him for who he is and that they don't like it, either.  Of course they love him.  Very much.  But it's VERY possible to love someone and hate them at the same time! 
    My son will likely never read this, but I feel I need to say something to him, even if it's in my head or here in the blog...
    BUT, thank you, Son.  You validate me more and more each time you share with me.  I hope you'll feel safe enough to KEEP talking to me about these things because for the first time in years, I feel like we COMPLETELY understand each other.  I'm glad that you know that I love you and will support you if ever you needed or wanted it.  And when the time comes for us to be 'freed,' I think this is what will enable us to heal together, along with your sister!
    The domestic violence struggle is so real, friends.  It's had (and still has!) such a debilitating effect on me and on them.  And I hope that this blog entry serves to further explain what DV survivors struggle with on a day-to-day, even after they've been removed from the situation.  It's not fun-and-games, it's not easy, it's frustrating, and it's disheartening.  
    With that, I hope you'll take the opportunity to let someone else know that you love and support them, regardless of what they are dealing with - that doesn't matter.  What DOES matter is knowing that you have their back.  That makes a world of a difference, and it's what I'm going to tell my kids, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
    - Capulet
  4. Capulet
    Well, would ya look at that...TWO blog entries in two weeks - a good start to my promise to do some more writing/mental uploading!
    This entry can mostly be attributed to Oompa's prompt and not-a-moment-too-soon departure on Thursday morning - she and my stepfather were here for two nights.  My father (to many: 'Lord Capulet') and his wife were ALSO in town, and since Monday, I've spend every day with one or both of my parents and their spouses - 'the steps.'  Yesterday afternoon was the first time we were ALL together, and I sat at the kitchen table with my four parents, having a cup of coffee while everyone conversed about what restaurants were close by, who had a coupon for what, which establishments offered senior discounts...
    As for me, I didn't care.  I've BEEN trying to get back on the diet wagon - so I was slowly trying to get used to the fact that it would likely NOT happen tonight.  Not with the restaurant names being thrown around.  My brain would adjust to the idea of one restaurant, but then they'd yell out the name of a different one.  Finally, I reclined, sipped my coffee, and let them figure it out for themselves.
    "What about Olive Garden?  I have a $5 off of $30!"
    "Wait, wait!  Texas Roadhouse?  $4 off two adult entrees!!"
    "Longhorns?  Don't they have a fifty-five and up menu for seniors?"
    "I don't have a coupon for (insert less-famous local eatery here), do we want to call them and see if they're offering any early-bird specials?"
    I managed to get through an ENTIRE cup of coffee while they threw ideas at each other.  And I'm not usually a quick coffee drinker, usually there's a small amount left in the mug when I finally dump it into the sink.  My answer was the same whenever asked - 'Sure.  Whatever you guys want.'
    I'm not sure who suggested what, but they decided on Texas Roadhouse, so we clipped the coupon and my father's wife tucked it carefully into her purse - then the next 'discussion' began.  Now, it was 'what time are we leaving????'
    I had no idea what time we would be leaving but I knew it was, at the very least, time for a second cup of coffee.  
    I'm not sure if I even knew what time everyone agreed on leaving my house - at this point, I was no longer really paying attention.  But somehow, I caught glimpses of what my mother was NOW talking about.  She started talking about the invitation on the table for my nephew and niece's dual birthday party.  My nephew will be five and my niece will be turning one.  My sister, in an effort to kill two birds with one stone, planned a party for both kids on a Saturday in between their month-apart birthdays.  She talked a little bit about how my youngest niece 'got the short end of the stick' because both my nephew and my OTHER sister's kid had both had 'big' parties for their first birthdays.  So again, I stared into my coffee while once in a while looking up and pretending to be interested in their conversation.  Only, next time I did 'check in,' she was in the middle of asking my father for a favor.  I didn't get all of it, but I saw, '...pick him up...' and 'on your way home, if you could drop him off...'
    Wait, what?  I snapped back into reality.
    I interrupted and asked her what she was talking about.  I think she'd assumed by now that I was comfortably situated in la-la land and that she'd be able to discuss this without my input.  She was wrong, though, and she kind of paused, took a deep breath, and said:
    "Well, you know...your sister invited your uncles to the kids' birthday party in March."  She might've seen the smoke beginning to shoot out of my ears, I'm sure of it, because she trailed off with, "...and she wants Uncle B to do the balloons for the kids and and they have no way of getting there...so, I thought your father could maybe give them a ride..."
    "Are you fucking kidding me?"  I cut her off.  I didn't care that I was surrounded by the four people who raised me and although Oompa has heard me swear a number of times, Lord Capulet is not used to seeing me angry.  Maybe it's because around him, I'm rarely angry.  My father doesn't push nor test my limits like my mother does.  Well - consider them currently pushed to the maximum, because I was LIVID now.  
    * Here is some background information, to clear up any confusion at this point - by 'my uncles,' I am referring to my mother's brother (Uncle L) and his very long time partner (Uncle B). Their relationship is as strange as it can be - they've not outwardly admitted to being gay, even after living together (in separate bedrooms) for over forty years.  Uncle L is a 'priest;' (the air quotations are being used VERY loosely here) - however, he's ALWAYS been a phony and I've some VERY strong suspicions of his being guilty of a lot of wrongdoing during my childhood days.  Uncle B, I believe, is his asexual domestic partner and for as long as I could remember, has had a talent for making balloon animals. Of the two,  he's the more harmless, more likable, but unfortunately remains faithful to my uncle.  It makes it VERY difficult to consider him family, but he is the one I will say a polite 'hello' to while I'd walk past and avoid the uncle whose blood I share like the plague.
    I asked Oompa to tell me again, HOW this fucking idiot got invited to a kids' party.  She repeated herself.  Uncle B's been asked to make the animal balloons.  Yep.  Got that.  Uncle L would come along with him.  He IS after all, blood, and wanted to see the kids for their birthday.  I rolled my eyes.  
    "He's just an old man, we'll put him on the opposite end of the room..."  My mother, by now is trying to calm me down because I'm starting to lose my shit.  Dad and the steps - both quiet. 
    I went off on her.  "You mean to tell me (my sister) can't hire a fucking clown that can make balloon animals that already lives in New Jersey that has his own means of transportation, isn't over seventy years old and isn't required to lug along his pet piece-of-shit wherever he goes?"
    "Stoppp..." my mother's WELL aware of how pissed off I am - I'm SURE she, by now was regretful of having brought this up in my company and was silently kicking herself.  But I am realizing that it's even more fucked up that she would deny me this information and sooner allow me to walk into my nephew's and niece's birthday party to find THAT fucking douche-bag sitting there.  Staring at me - because that's what he does, given the opportunity.  His eyes are unsettling, piercing, and whenever I see him, he's looking.  RIGHT at me.  
    "I'm not coming," I finally said, "I'll send a present for each of them, but if he's there, I won't be."
    My father and his wife gave each other a look.  My mother just sighed and asked if I'd really do that to my nephew and niece.  My niece, at a year old, would be fine if Auntie Cap wasn't there, but I KNOW my nephew would be looking for me.  Well, SHIT.  No, I'd probably not disappoint him, if you're going to put it that way.  My nephew is totes my little buddy - despite his parents, who are as fake as they come.  NO, I would not do that to him, but I CANNOT be expected to be as I normally am, with HIM there.  
    "Wait..." My father's wife finally said breaking the silence that had come over the kitchen table, "What is going on, here?"
    Ahhhh, that's right.  I'd not told anyone about my suspicions.  I'd given Oompa alternate reason for not liking Uncle L, reasons that seemingly don't fit a meltdown of this caliber.  I've decided she's never going to get all of the reasons - I can't trust her.  Just when I think I can TRY, she goes and pulls bullshit like this!
    Obviously, my mother had never shared with my father my hatred for Uncle L, either.  I felt...cornered.  No, this wasn't a good thing - this wasn't a good TIME.  No way in hell was I getting into something I wasn't prepared for.  
    INITIATE SHUT-DOWN SEQUENCE, I could hear my brain saying, in that robot voice.  Over and over.  Don't think.  Don't scramble for words.  Just get OUT of this!  And so, I did.  I was only able to say that I wanted nothing to do with him - he was a horrible person and I didn't want to be around him.  
    My Dad and stepmother were even more confused - when asked why, Oompa proceeded in telling the story I'd been giving her for the last decade and a half.  It did help that there was actually credence to these things - and surely, they're reason to dislike him but I'm sure my mother KNOWS there is more beneath the surface - and she's likely playing me at my own game - only sharing what I've been willing to share with her.  Perhaps she's hoping someone else knows more and she can get more details out of them.  The only one to know the entire reason is J...and although Oompa HAS tried to question J a couple of times over the years, my lovely wifey has claimed she knows nothing and is faithfully guarding that information.  I hold the control that way - and I know that my secrets are safer that way, too. 
    So, I sat back, fuming, while my father and stepmother listened, and my mother rattled off the reasons for my not liking my uncle.
    Here's why I don't like my uncle and why the thought of seeing him sends me into a panic, a rage.  According to Oompa, of course, and now, according to Lord Capulet and his wife:
    He'd allowed my grandmother to live her final days in FILTH - she lived downstairs from him.  There were cracks in her floors, roaches crawling up the walls, a nasty odor in the air.  He'd originally fought my mother on letting her live her last days at home - he wanted to put her in a nursing home because 'he couldn't take care of her.'  My mother did EVERYTHING she could to tend to my grandmother - at the time, she worked at a public school and she'd first go to my grandmother's house every day for a few hours before coming home.  She arranged for an in-home aide to tend to, feed, assist my grandmother while my uncle did what he does best - nothing.
    When she died - he wasted NO time in 'removing' her from the house, so that he (and Uncle B) could make renovations to the entire downstairs apartment she lived in - and transform it into a church.  He had a chapel upstairs but had been making plans to redo her living room into a congregation room.  This man HAS no congregation - he says mass daily, or so he claimed years ago - now that he's slowly becoming senile.  
    He (possibly with the help of his 'partner,') cheated my mother out of her inheritance.  My grandmother was NOT the sharpest tool in the shed and was someone who was very easily manipulated.  Somehow, Uncle B convinced my grandmother (when she first became ill) to sell HIM her half of the house - she owned half, and Uncle L already owned the other half.  Uncle B bought the remaining half - for 20 grand, so now, the house was entirely theirs.  A brick house in Brooklyn goes for WAY more than that - yes, the house was a DUMP - but it was still my mother's childhood home and she'd NOT been given the opportunity to purchase the house if she wanted to.  They'd gone behind her back.   A little work could have been put into it - some renovations, perhaps - and it would have put the value MUCH higher than what Uncle B paid.  Regardless, my ailing grandmother took the money and put it away - she willed that 20K to be split among her three children upon her death - my mother, Uncle L and their sister, who predeceased them all.  When she finally did pass, 'half' of THAT money now belonged to Uncle L - leaving my mother with a measly 10K - and her brother with the house and all of her earthly possessions that could be sold/distributed, etc.  My mother used 'her inheritance' to pay for the funeral, leaving her with very little money and maybe a few trinkets, including my grandmother's wedding ring that she'd wanted my Mom to have, (that she'd had to fight my uncle for - there was a time he claimed he couldn't find it - she cleverly told him that since it was willed to her, she'd hold him responsible for the monetary value of the ring - he had a change of heart very shortly afterwards and told her that miraculously he 'found' it) - or he'd have pawned them for even more money to pad his own pockets.
    (Admittedly, my father looked shocked at this point - BOTH he and his wife did.)
    Sadly, this is only enough to label him as simply an unsavory, dishonest person - but sometimes I wonder if this is enough to explain why I'd say I don't want anything to do with him - I don't even mind his partner, Uncle B, too much.  EVEN if he'd been dishonest with my grandmother and DID purposely cheat my mother out of what she was entitled to, I don't hate him.  I just don't want Uncle L near me or my kids, I don't think he should be around my nephew and nieces - I might've said too that I didn't understand how the asshole had more lives than all five of my cats combined, death had evaded him more times than I could count.  One doesn't wish death upon a miserly old man - especially one who is seemingly already paying the hefty price of his past greed - he relies on Uncle B entirely, needs 24/7 care, his knees are shot.  He cannot walk, he doesn't go anywhere.  He sits at home, day in and day out - and according to my mother, has forgotten names of some of his nieces and nephews - he's called my sister my name, or he's questioned my mother in reference to my sisters, "the one in the middle," or "the niece of mine who's in the medical field."  My mother has said he's 'slowly' losing his mind, but if you ask me, he's never had full possession of his mind!  I didn't know what pissed me off more - the whole invitation thing, or that she was asking my father to shuttle his disgusting ass to and from a party that I'm not looking forward to going to, anymore - or that she was making excuses for a piece of shit who doesn't deserve them!
    And my stupid, fucking sister!  We've HAD conversations about our uncle before.  Granted, not THE conversation - but she is WELL aware of how I feel about him.  Yet she invites him to a kiddie party!?  Where Uncle B, when he's not playing with fucking balloons, is going to be running around with a goddamned camera and taking pictures so that Uncle L can have them.  As if the creep doesn't stare enough!  I remember when my sister (this same one) got married - seeing him was unavoidable - he was at the wedding - the church part - and he had to walk past me to walk out.  Uncle B was behind him and as soon as he was next to me, he whips out the camera - "Let's take a picture!!!!"  Not a good place to cause a scene - my sister's special day...so I put on the fakest smile I could manage and held my breath.  My daughter was standing a few feet away and I might've made up an elaborate story about how I didn't want her to mistake the holy water for a drinking fountain and walked away as soon as he'd snapped a photo.
    My father didn't confirm whether he would pick up Uncle B and the douche-pig and drop them back home on the day in question - but at least he's got some things to think about, now.  Unfortunately, since I was in no position to fully explain my outburst, I feel that I have lost this battle and this, like my sister's wedding, will turn into another one of those 'can't be helped' situations - even though it COULD have been - if only my family had my back.  It further proves that they do not, and that when it suits them, they'll not think twice about making me uncomfortable.  I'll wonder if it is partially my fault, I've not exactly been straight-up with them about my suspicions - instead, I've allowed them to believe a different set of reasons for my hatred toward him.  It's something I will regret having done - but at the same time, I can't imagine ever being ready to share the truth with any of them.  How can I, though? I can't trust ANY of them!
    Anyway...it's taken me two days to get all of this out.  Normally, a blog entry takes about a day, with me getting up in between writing sessions, with interruptions being frequent, with having to constantly put my writing on hold because of things that come up in 'real life.'
    However, reality has made itself known in ways that very few people know about right now - and I've been HIGHLY emotional.  I will likely get to all of those details in a future entry, though - for it's taken me THIS long to finish THIS particular thought - THIS was put on hold by the 'other thing,' and now the other thing needs some further internalizing before I can discuss it fully and with some of my emotions still intact and without losing my mind.  The short of it, though - we are losing one of our fur babies.  It was a very unexpected development starting with the loss of function in both of his hind legs.  He's been diagnosed with 'saddle thrombus.'  Nothing can be done for him - and as he's seemingly not in pain, we have decided to let him live out his remaining days at home for as long as he's not struggling.  The moment he does show that he is starting to suffer, though, we'll be taking the hours-long drive to the vet that is only 20 minutes away.  As of right now, though, he cannot walk and has to be carried wherever he'd like to be, has to have his food and litter pan near him (within drag-distance) and has to be watched closely for any changes.
    J and I are devastated, we have spent the last couple of days crying off and on - and all of this bullshit with my mother and my uncle - seems so, very unimportant right now.  I second-guessed posting this entry, too - it seems SILLY to bit*h about a party guest who might not even remember my name - when there are far more important things to be concerned with - especially when it concerns a loved one who DESERVES more 'time' than he's been given.  
    More later.  Want to release this entry before it becomes THREE days!  I will be back with another update as soon as I can string together coherent thoughts on the rest of it without bursting into tears.  The tear dam has already broken - it usually takes a LOT for me to be able to cry - and the last couple days have shown me that I, as much as I'd love to, cannot control the flow of tears.
    Hoping all of you are well.
    - Capulet
  5. Capulet
    Whether we're talking about hindsight or vision, it seemed right to title this blog with something that's coming for us all. 
    I'm SO ready for 2019 to be over.  How 'bout you?
    While there have been some redeeming moments that it'd be unfair to acknowledge, this year has been overall shitty.  There has been more sadness than happiness, more frustration than there have been genuine smiles, and more tears than....well, you get the picture.  I've gained weight, I'm experiencing pain and discomfort in two areas of my body that I'm having to get checked out by a doctor before school starts back up, and both my heart and soul have taken a beating many times over during 2019.  Physically, my ticker is still pumping but it's been through the wringer.  While things have improved, I have emotionally taken significant damage and this tear may take longer to repair.  I haven't been 'myself,' lately, but have been trying to come back to who I was - and as a bonus, be BETTER than who I was last year.  Steps have been taken and the path is paved; I've just got to keep going. In order to do so, I need to slam the door on 2019 and step into 2020 with a renewed outlook.  I need to set my goals and stick to them, I need to not lose sight of what I want (and we ALL know how easy it is to do that) and I need to take care of myself.  That's one major problem I had this year - I let myself go, physically, emotionally, mentally.  I don't know how I managed to keep it together, but...SHIT, it wasn't easy!  I know what I need to work on, and I know how to do it....now I've just gotta commit to it!
    The stage was kind of already set for the holidays to be, by default, crappy.  My mother was starting her shit after Halloween was over with, on who was going where for Christmas Eve, my fiancee planned (last year) to be out of town for Christmas this year, and I was already dreading the idea of being alone this year.  And again, there were a few rare moments where there was joy, but for the most part, each day leading up to Christmas has left me wanting to isolate - and I did.  I didn't want to be near anyone, didn't want to talk, I didn't want my 'bah-humbug's' to affect those who actually enjoy the 'happiest time of the year.'  (Whoever coined Christmas to be this - is deluded, I tell you - because 'happiest' doesn't quite fit!)  Even after Christmas was over - it didn't feel like it was 'over.'  The sourness and bitterness lingered on - and it might, until I effectively dismantle the tree, take down my garlands that I effortlessly threw across the mantle, pull down the lights from the one window I hung them in, and throw everything up into the attic until next year's Black Friday.  I actually wanted to do all of this on the 26th, but as my mother decided to come visit for my birthday yesterday, I left them up so that she could enjoy the Christmas decor before I ripped it all down and tossed it all, along with the rest of 2019.
    I've literally had NO time to myself for the last week.  For the beginning part, I did - I spent much of it alone.  In a daze, kinda just...existing.  "Is it over, yet?" played over and over in my head, while just going through the motions and not really investing in all of the festivities.  It was more of like, a chore, than anything else.  My wife spent Christmas with her family out-of-state, and I chose to stay behind so that I could be there with my kids.  I was having guests on Christmas Eve, so I cleaned.  I cooked.  None of it was for me.  It was all for my kids and my ex - because when he's happy, the kids are cooperative and generally, everything goes smoother.  I know I spoke about our holiday arrangements in an earlier blog and it's the same, year after year...I sacrifice a LOT during the holidays so that my kids can have both their parents present.  It is VERY rarely what I want it to be, and this year was no different - it was just MUCH harder, with my better half not even being present.
    Having everyone over for Christmas Eve was similar to setting a kitchen timer and counting down the minutes before everything was over with.  I threw myself into an end-year pause; because I really didn't want to feel.  I just watched everyone else enjoy, I fake-smiled my way through it.  Inside, though, there was a huge, significant void.  I was hurting, and I was sobbing, but I'd be damned if I let anyone see that.  I just told myself that once it was over, I could just 'flush' it all and hope for the best next year.
    The holidays just weren't something I wanted to deal with this year, but alas, there's simply no choice where that's concerned - they show up every year, whether you're ready or not.  I do hope, someday, some of that holiday spirit will return and I don't have to feel the need to scowl at the little Christmas displays at the store, despite the sheer prettiness of it all.  It is just genuinely HARD to care, when those around you don't seem to care, either.  If it wasn't for me, there would be no tree up in my house.  There would be no presents under the tree.  There would be NO decorations, no lights in the windows.  I've always been the one to haul down all the decor on the day after Thanksgiving, and to 'Christmasize,' and the kids would all laugh at my OCD while placing the lights and trying to ensure all the little multi-colored bulbs were facing the right direction, and none would really even offer to help with the decorating or the preparing....I used to think that maybe it was because they all had things to do to keep them occupied - school, work, etc - and I was the one who was always home, so who better to do it all?  They all knew that I had it handled, and that I could be relied on to do it all.
    But now, this year, I'm in school, too.  I bust my ass every day to make sure I turn in my best work, my best efforts.  I pulled a 3.8 last semester, so that puts me 15 credits closer to my bachelor's, which is one good thing having happened in 2019.  The next year and a half will be a continuation of my education, and at some point, I may start working.  What's going to happen, then?  Who's gonna bring Christmas to my house, because this year, if nothing else, has been a real eye-opener on who it all falls on, who's the glue, who's the one who pulls it all off when it comes to the shopping, the wrapping, the stoking of holiday spirit, when there simply is none IN me to begin with.  And, in the end, there's thank-you's, there's 'you did a great job,' and 'you cooked a delicious meal,' but there's still that lingering feeling that I'm truly the only one who gives a shit.  My one and only love was not here with me.  Neither one of my kids asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  Of course, I would have told them, 'nothing at all,' because I don't ever want my children worrying about what material item they could give me - I'd know the thought was there and the sentiment alone would have been satisfying, but they didn't even ASK.  Instead, there's lists of what they WANT on my desk, in my text messages....new XBOX controller, new sneakers, LED lights for their room, cosmetics, money, gift cards to whatever-the-fuck-it is, and that stings, too.  Yet, I took their lists, threw everything on my credit cards, and pulled it off - because as always, others' happiness is more important than my own.
    Maybe I need to not give too much of a shit, anymore...something's got to give.  As of right now, I've not said anything to my family about how much I didn't enjoy this year's Christmas, and I probably won't....because it's over with, it's done.  What's the point?  It will just make J feel guilty for not being here (but she wasn't here for a lot of the rest of this year's struggles, so it's probably best she spent Christmas with her family) and it will cause guilt in my children, something I never want to do.  
    And so, I shall flush this emotional turd, and look forward to the brand new year, where MUCH will be changed up.  Fewer fucks will be given (and not just pertaining to the holidays), and I'll bet things will be happier and will go a whole lot smoother.
    Originally, I wasn't going to blog, today, but, really, what kind of a blogger am I if I don't put out an end-year reflection of sorts?  I know that my writing was yet another thing that I kind of 'slacked' on, but I'm hoping to get some of that, back, too.
    And now, to you all, my AS family:
    If you're struggling, I wish for you, lots of comfort.
    When times are dark, I wish you light.
    If you're in pain, I wish for you, relief.
    If you're feeling lost, I wish for you, clarity.
    For each moment of sadness, I wish for you a million small moments that make you smile.
    If you're lonely, I wish for you, friendship and companionship.
    If you're all of the above, I wish for 2020 to show you all that good things are possible, and that all of the work we do on ourselves, will pay off.  I also send you strength, positivity and all of my love.
    Happy New Year,
     - Capulet
  6. Capulet
    Hi, everyone!
    I know I promised this update a few days sooner, but I've had some unexpected things pop up that I'm not quite ready to share with the world, yet.  Please know though, that I am physically and mentally okay and this is simply something that happened that I feel I need to spend some time processing privately before it becomes blog-fodder at a later time when I've got it all figured out.  I also need to scream at Will Ferrell for a little while - because now even HE is asking me if I'm sure I'm handling it the way I should be.  All I can say on that is, I hope so.  
    But anyhow.  In my last blog, I promised to let you know whether I met my short-term weight-loss goal.  I did.  So, yay!  Yes, I'm very happy about this - I'm now setting another goal, and when that one is met, I'll keep setting goals until I can say I'm sincerely comfortable in my own body again.  It's been a very long time since that was the case and I feel that for the first time in ages, I've got control over my weight and my diet - which was one of my biggest health concerns.
    And now for the apology and the rest...
    It was recently brought to my attention that a post of mine in the forums was edited (just a sentence) because providing numbers/amounts of weight lost is against the forum guidelines.  (I'd only confirmed this AFTER the fact, by visiting the specific forum and saw them for myself.  See, when I browse the forums index page, I usually peruse the most recently added topics on the right hand column - I don't access these topics through the forum categories themselves.  And so I was not aware of this specific guideline when I responded to a post about dieting!)  Anyhow - I got a (friendly) note from a moderator letting me know that the post was edited and let me be clear - I am NOT upset about this nor am I upset with the moderator, who is a fantastic person and has always been kind to me.  I was very happy to see that she was doing her job keeping AS a safe place to be and I thanked her for doing whatever she felt was necessary.  It does my heart a LOT of good knowing that there are people out there devoted to keeping this a safe place for us all to visit and to turn to when we need.  So, to my friends who are part of the administration at AS - thank you for everything you do!!!  
    I'm generally not a rule-breaker and just KNOWING I'd broken one, although not intentionally, was what bothered me the most.  And then I thought about it in-depth some more later on in the evening, even though my exchange with the moderator ended on a pleasant note...
    It hit me that I've been posting a great deal about weight loss in my blogs for a long time, now.  My reason?  Simply put, you're supposed to write about things you think about, your life's challenges, everything and nothing in a blog.  Well, weight is a hurdle for me, always has been.  And my way of analyzing and dealing with this and other such obstacles in my life is to write about them and if I could, share them with anyone who would want to read.  But I realize now that in doing so, I wasn't thinking about others, about YOU guys - weight is a hurdle for more people than I realize, whether they're trying to gain it or lose it, maintain it, etc.  And it never occurred to me to, while I was ranting about my own personal struggle to adopt healthier eating habits, to stop and think about how many others are eating disordered as a result of traumatic life experience and how discussing these things may not be as well received as I originally felt it would be.
    And for this, I am deeply sorry.  While my intention was merely to share a personal triumph, I simply was not thinking ahead when I wrote these blog entries and may have come across as selfish.  
    Furthermore, I've decided that I'm no longer going to discuss my diet ambitions in my blog or in a post.  I am probably making a bigger deal out of it than it truly is, but this is a decision that I feel comfortable with making at the moment.  I'm pretty sure I'll have plenty of other things to ramble about.   If you're among the few that actually likes these (sometimes boring) diet updates, I invite you to inquire about my progress through private messages, where I feel I'll be able to speak more freely and without fear of offending because the topic is asked for and not imposed upon. 
    It's been a LONG day and I'm about to turn in...just wanted to get this sent out before I did.  
    Thanks for listening and for all the support!  Have a safe holiday weekend!
    - Capulet
  7. Capulet
    Hi, everyone.
    Here's hoping you're all well this week!  How am I?  I don't know, honestly.  Mentally, I'm fine.  Physically, I'm falling the fuck apart and I don't understand why.  You would think that losing over 40 pounds (yes, yes, I did...consider that your small, harmless weight update without details!) would make me feel better - and it has.  But lately, after bowling, my left hip has been hurtin' something awful.  It's usually fine if I sit stationary, but getting up to get a water refill or to do simple household tasks - HURTS.  It's been gradually happening; and most noticeable the days after league bowling.  It'll feel better a day or two afterwards and then I go bowling again and am back at square one.  I feel like an old lady. 
    BUT y'all will be proud of me when I tell you I've ALREADY been to the doctor...better yet, TWO doctors.  The first visit was to my primary care doctor, had to go see him in order to get the referral to the orthopedic.  He was my second visit and took x-rays of my hips.  He found nothing.  It's not arthritis, it's not any other issue with my hip.  He did ask me where exactly it hurt and when I pointed, he said based on the location, he feels it's more of a muscle/back strain, and prescribed 2x a day over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, ice after bowling (which I'm not going to do - I don't like ice) and physical therapy where they can work some of the muscles out and perhaps teach me some exercises I CAN do at home that may lead to my back/hip feeling better, overall.  My first PT appointment is this coming Friday.  I'll keep you all posted.
    Had my monthly visit with my mother, AKA 'Oompa Loompa.'  She was supposed to come LAST week, but forgot that she had promised her free babysitting services to my sister, who had a wedding to attend.  So the week before's visit was rescheduled to this past weekend.  She arrived early on Saturday, we had lunch here (sandwiches) and she spent some time with the kids before they went back to their Dad's.  Then, we actually did something we never really do with her - and we went to a movie - we saw Peppermint - not a very realistic flick, but still was nice to get out of the house and to go someplace where we didn't have to entertain each other by actually talking (see what I did, there?) to each other.  When we got home, she went to sleep.  That was the gist of Saturday - it was painless, it was 'busy' and she had time to enjoy her grandchildren during the day.  Sunday was a little different - she needed the local craft store because my eldest niece will be turning 1 next month and she's making the centerpieces.  So I drove us down to the Hobby Lobby - knowing fully well that I was going to be exposed to all sorts of FALL things as soon as I walked into the store.
    She went off looking for what she needed and I kinda lingered around where the garlands were.  
    Lemme explain a little something else that I may not have shared before - I'm not a fan of the fall.  I never was.  When I was a kid, 'fall' meant school was starting and summer vacation was over.  I hated school - I was constantly picked on and bullied - back in the 80's, they didn't have preventative measures in place so the kids that were fat, handicapped or different in any other way were getting bullied left and right - and because I was 'the pudgy deaf kid,' I was an easy target. 
    When I was a late teen, the fall was the season when I started college as a freshman, and also the same time of year that I was raped.  My 22-year anniversary is approaching - October 4th is the 'date.'  I do have to say though things have gotten MUCH better, the looming season change has always been accompanied by triggers, memories, little ugly-cry fests (for no particular reason) and bouts of depression, moodiness, sluggishness, etc.  I almost always feel crappy during this time of year.  Even though many years have gone by since my assault, it's almost an automatic fuck-with-your-emotions-thing at this point.
    I however, DO like Halloween - I know it's a 'fall holiday' but it was always, ALWAYS my favorite.  I loved the idea of being someone (or something) other than myself.  I hated myself - why like me?  No one else seemed to!  But yeah, Halloween...too bad it only comes once a year, right?  And there's CANDY...lots of it.   That made it all worth it.  I don't know if it would have made any difference, but when I finally walked out of that party where the assault took place, I did NOT see any Halloween decorations.  The walk from the party site to the diner at a local intersection was not a long one, but still - considering the time of year, I was pleasantly surprised to not see any carved pumpkins.  It might have been too early for that, though, the carved jack-o-lanterns don't usually come out until later in the month if not on Halloween night.  I might also have not seen ANYTHING but the tear-blurred pavement in front of me.
    So, at the craft store, there is a section dedicated solely to Halloween - here, you have all your black, orange, green and purple wreaths, the window clings, your skeleton/skull stuff, your cobweb netting, other decorations that you can 'add onto' existing wreaths or garlands, (these are called 'bits') and so, so much more.  You can literally go nuts in this store - and I did.  I actually found more season-related items than I did Halloween - I do already have some things to decorate further with in the garage - last year's 75% off sales at Walmart were amazing for such findings.  
    Anyway, what I DON'T have is too much generic 'fall decor.'  The most I'd ever done was put out my (fake) sunflower bouquet and then when it got closer to Halloween, I'd put out some (also fake) pumpkins and gourds...if I'd made it to the supermarket for a real pumpkin, I'd carve it on All Hallow's Eve and put him out on the front steps for the trick-or-treaters to enjoy.  
    So, I found some leaf, berry and pine cone 'bits' for half-price, then I found a 'fall leaves' garland that was lighted - my creative juices were flowing - I can't explain what came over me in that moment.  Here I am, I hate the fall and I'm standing here, appreciating the prettiness of these fake leaves, acorns, etc.  What the hell, man?  I have no reason to have this idea but here I am, thinking about how I could pretty this garland up even further by adding the 'bits' to it and securing them with thin pieces of twine.  I have a lovely mantle in my home that the finished product would look nice on.  And so, I filled my cart with small items that I could add to the (also half-price) pre-lit garland.  My mother, in the meantime, found everything she needed to put together centerpieces and met me up front.  We paid for our items and were on our way home.
    Once it was quiet-ish, (as much as it could be with my mother's nonstop mouth) I laid out all my 'bits' and the garland on the floor in front of me.  I then got to thinking as I began stringing together the garland and the bits - maybe I've been looking at it all wrong, all along?  Yes, the fall will forever present as a 'bad time of year' for me, both because of being bullied at school and the sexual assault having happened in the fall.  But the season really had nothing at all to do with what happened.  People didn't treat me poorly because the air was chillier, because the leaves were changing colors, or because to was October.  Hell, classmates or other people have fucked with me at least once or twice in the spring, summer, in the winter, my ex probably had made me cry at least once a month, so all bets were off as far as what my worst time of year actually was.  My hatred of the fall really doesn't have to do with something so beautiful; maybe the gorgeous fall scenery should be a distraction rather than a reminder.  Maybe instead of grumbling whenever I saw pretty colors up in the trees, I should have refocused on its natural beauty - for that's probably what I needed rather than focus on the ugly memories.  I'd been holding onto this particular dislike of the fall for the wrong reasons - and for too long.  
    I should add, this will be my second fall in an entirely new state - I remember last year's fall - we were still new to the area.  I had to pick up my son from school daily, and so the drive through the back roads was always SO scenic and absolutely gorgeous in the fall, and then of course, in the winter after snow had fallen.  So maybe new state = new slate?  Is it time for me to seize back a love for those things that are natural?  They ARE more beautiful here than they were in New York City!  Plus, here, I was not abused or bullied.  Here, I have no reason to dread the change from summer to fall.  Here, I have a new life and am sure being three and a half hours away from where I was assaulted is a huge help.  
    Perhaps I can learn to appreciate these things again, or even for the first time in as long as I can remember.  
    I'll ATTEMPT to get a picture uploaded of my finished garland.  I still have that irrational fear of the wasband coming across this blog and seeing all the things I've ever said about him, and as he's a frequent visitor in my home (kid transfers, holidays, drop-ins, etc) he knows what my mantle looks like and would be able to pick it out of a line-up (of mantles).  I'll play with photoshop and see if I can't crop it a bit and make it a little less incriminating...
    I WILL say that despite my unspoken rule of having to hate anything having to do with the fall, it IS quite nice to look at - and I enjoy having it lit up in the evenings while we watch television or a movie.  I feel at peace with my creation - and for the first time, with the season.
    Now, I FULLY expect to go through all the motions as my 'anniversary' nears - but perhaps this year, I will allow the scenery to provide me comfort rather than remind me of the inevitable - fall's going to come along every damn year - it's how I embrace it that matters.  And perhaps this sudden burst of creativity will make this upcoming anniversary and anniversaries to follow a little bit easier.  This year, I made a garland...and I think that on the 'anniversary,' I will make it a point to sit outside for a little while and take it all in.  And next year, I'll do something ELSE to reclaim the fall - to take back what, all along, I should have been enjoying but couldn't.  
    And that's progress! 
    Hoping you're all having a good week.    I'll update again soon - likely this weekend with a PT update.  
    - Capulet
  8. Capulet
    Not every post has to be about food or kids.  Okay, not MY kids, anyway.  
    So...ya remember my sister?  The one married to a jerk?  In previous blog entries, we referred to her as #1.  
    Well, that sister's water broke last night at around 8pm.  I was at Monday night bowling and heard from Oompa that she was meeting my sister and brother-in-law at the hospital.
    I stayed up all night long - I did trudge over to the bed around three-thirty this morning, but the anticipation of my niece's impending arrival effectively kept me from the deep sleep that renders me functional for the remainder of the day, so please forgive any run-on sentences or other grammatical errors.  I'm not all here today and I'm a bit zombie-ish, but still wanted to share with everyone some very wonderful news.
    My niece arrived this morning at 6:44am after 10 hours of waiting and countless texts between Oompa and I.  Oompa was there before and during the birth and for the cutting of the cord.  My brother-in-law doesn't do well in hospital rooms, so my mother was, for the second time, able to witness the birth of her fifth grandchild.  
    Both my sister and the baby are doing just fine.  Brother-in-law also doing fine.  
    I took a nap as soon as the first picture came through.  She's adorable.  Full head of hair.  Big, round, alert eyes.  Teeny-tiny little fingers.  Swaddled in the new-baby blanket that every single hospital in the United States has a patent on.  And the little pink hat they put on her head to keep her warm. Those widdle, teensy toes, too!  
    My uterus is tingling, guys.  Oh, my God.
    Not too much, though.  It'll pass.  I just SO miss when mine were that small.  The thought of nibbling on their toes NOW, at their ages, truly sickens me and simply wouldn't be right.  LOL.
    I'll just enjoy being an Aunt.   If we're counting my Godchild, we'll say I've now got three beautiful nieces and my one nephew.  All are happy, in good health and I couldn't ask for more.  
    I am very, very blessed, indeed.
    - Capulet
  9. Capulet
    Wow. I know I haven't been here in a while.   I wish I could say that my OCD over posting my three installments in order, without a random blog in between that would 'interrupt the flow' was my sole reason for this blog-hiatus (or a 'bl-iatus') but I'd be lying through my fingers.
    I just haven't been feeling it.  This summer has been a rough one - and I've only shared with a select few, the details that have kept me somewhat absent from my blog.  While I've remained a constant presence here on the site, I HAVE been distracted and my work here has helped provide alternative focuses when they were needed.  Those details will not be shared here, as they are still very personal and raise some hurt feelings that I've not entirely been able to bury, yet.  I am chalking this up to being yet another hurdle that has been thrown into my path, and we know all too well that sometimes due process takes longer than we'd like.  Patience is key - in healing from hurts both old and new.  I know and understand this, and safe to say, my patience has been put to the challenge during the last couple of months.
    I did post three very 'heavy' installments to my story recently.  Thank you to those of you who have read and commented on those installments.  I've been at somewhat of a loss for words when it comes to returning responses on some of it, but that, along with many other things, ARE on my to-do list.  On one hand, I can't believe that I actually wrote out some of the things I did - and on the other, I'm emotionally drained and I think that for a while, simply reading the kind, supportive comments posted by others, has been hugely helpful.  In some ways, I'm still processing a lot of things, (particularly from installment three) and there is indeed a cacophony of words swirling around but the right ones aren't coming to me, yet - whether I need them to add to the installment, or to respond to others, or to make sense of them, myself.  My uncle's passing hasn't really brought up any new feelings, thoughts, concerns, etc - and honestly, I did fully expect it to.  Other stressors, I think, are defnitely contributing to this block (can't think of a better word), but for now, this is okay with me.  I think that again, my patience with myself is going to be put to the test as I continuously remind myself that there is a time and place for things to be dealt or coped with.  Sometimes, it's simply not up to me when these things happen.
    I am better, now, though, than I was before.  Things have improved and I've re-familiarized myself with a level of optimism that I didn't have two months ago.  So, that's something.   I'm hopeful that things will continue to improve as now I've restarted therapy after a decade and am working on me, in hopes of coming out of it all with a significantly healthier outlook.  I've not yet delved too far into my trauma history, but I'm pretty sure that's going to eventually become a focus as we proceed with weekly appointments.
    So, let's move along, now.   While I cannot promise that I won't become scarce again, I'd still like to make an effort to catch you all up on a couple things that have been going on in recent weeks.
    I started school this past Monday!  Right out of the gate, two professors emailed to let me know that they were delayed with family issues, one would not be there until Friday and the other won't be showing up until 9/9, but we should still attend because there would be a substitute there to teach in interim.  The first professor, as promised, has returned and we're underway.  My Diversity class, though, although the substitute is a very well-educated man, has been VERY hard to follow on account of his accent - it's Indian, I want to say, and I find myself often 'drifting.'  Thankfully the discussions are power-point supplemented so I'm able to just take notes and not worry too much about missed verbal content.  I really like the two introduction to Social Work classes I'm taking - one in particular taught by a practicing social worker who has an office and sees clients when she's not teaching classes!  The other professor has almost every letter of the alphabet after HIS name....BSW, MSW, LCS, Ph.D among others that I'm sure means he's highly qualified to teach a bunch of entry-level social work majors.  He was the giver of my first assignment, due in two days - a response paper detailing why I chose the social work field and what strengths I bring to the chosen area of practice.  Had to describe two practices that I'd be interested in focusing in and I debated on whether to explain that my reasons were somewhat personal but figured this would validate the 'strengths' question.  There was a third question that needed answering and it had to do with the basic guidelines of social work - code of ethics, etc.  Why are they in place?  I know, it seems to go without saying but I'm pleased to say that little by little, I'm learning more about the processes involved and I'm absolutely fascinated.  I turned in that assignment a couple of nights ago in hopes of my first 'A,' but know that as I've been out of the 'school loop' for 20 years, I'm likely to be rusty in a few areas. 
    I must also add that It's pretty neat seeing the Son on a daily basis.  We'll likely drive in together a couple days per week - he has classes within the same department (the Criminal Justice and Social Work programs/buildings are within close proximity) so I will see my firstborn during hallway passings.  The Daughter started 8th grade on Monday, too, and so far, so good.  I'm sure that as the school year unravels, we'll be hearing about excitement and possibly drama on all three fronts.  For now, though, I'm grateful for a successful first week.  11 more to go until winter break!
    So, in the interests of maintaining a successful balance with today's blog, I have a question for you all.
    WHY does shit happen on the weekends????  I mean, I know shit happens.  Life has a way of showing us this, ALL the time. But seriously, it's WAY easier when shit decides to happen during the week.  Preferably Monday through Thursday.  Because, then, if the shit that happens is urgent shit, we can at least have Friday to make any and all necessary calls to try and rectify said shit.  
    Still with me?
    So, Friday NIGHT - the daughter comes into my computer room and announces that we've got no running water.  She was trying to refill her water bottle and 'nothing was coming out.'
    Let it be known that we have well water and it's via pump that it comes into the house.  Pump runs on electric.  If there's a power outage, we're also not going to have running water until either we're hooked up to a generator or the power is restored.  When we moved into our house 2 years ago, the pump quit within a month of us living there.  Woke up one morning and none of the faucets were willing to produce any water.  It was a $2000 fix; guys come and install a new pump.  Underground pumps are SUPPOSED to last for 8-10 years and it's only been 2.  Our last major power outage was in March of 2018, so that had been the last time, also, without running water.
    So, I went to bed on Friday night thinking, maybe it's not the pump, maybe it's an electrical issue, maybe it's a short, maybe it's something to do with the pressure tank, maybe it's this, maybe it's that, maybe it's something simple, and I'm losing precious sleep for no good reason...
    It's the fucking pump, isn't it?  That's what my brain kept going back to.  But it made no sense to wake my sleeping wife to alert her to the problem - who were we going to call at 2am?  (Yes, as it wasn't a school night, I decided that staying awake past 1:30am was going to be an accepted challenge...happy to announce that slowly but surely, sleep is becoming harder to avoid on nights before having to get up for morning class!) 
    But I slept like the shit mentioned above on Friday night, because my brain, very used to dealing with shit on a regular basis, was not allowing for sleep to take over.  Instead of just resigning to the fact that there was nothing that could be done about this shit at least until the morning, I was now laying there in worry over how I was gonna catch up on the dishes and laundry that had accumulated during this first week of school...  
    Trying to self-declare that it was ANY other issue than the pump, J and I spent a good portion of yesterday trying to get ahold of the gentlemen (or at least, the company) who installed the well pump in 2017.  Let us now refer back to the statement of shit only seeming to happen on weekends, and now point out that it's not only a weekend - it's a HOLIDAY weekend, so any shit that decides to happen on Labor Day weekend, you can be SURE is going to be extra nasty to try and deal with.  
    First, we were told that their technician was already out taking care of another emergency call - he'd call us back when he was finished.  Three hours later, the same technician calls and says he's not actually 'the plumber' and that he'd reach out to their plumber and we'd hear back from HIM.  'Momentarily,' he said.  When 'momentarily' never came, we called back and were told that we'd likely have to wait until Tuesday to speak with someone in their plumbing department.  They proceeded in telling us that the warranty on the pump they'd installed two years ago was likely expired.  Meanwhile, no one was calling back, we had no running water and we're both getting annoyed because we STILL don't know what the problem is.  
    At this point, the shit was becoming BULLSHIT.
    J called another company, and got a very nice man on the phone.  Apparently new water pumps SHOULD come with a five-year warranty.  So, now, we know the first company was probably jerking us around and didn't intend to come help us. They probably KNEW that this pump was SUPPOSED to be under warranty, and didn't wish to honor that warranty - or to send any of their guys out on a weekend.  We didn't want to have to wait until Tuesday to even get the issue looked at, so we decided to have this other company come out (at a higher weekend rate), and at least diagnose the problem.  If it was a simple fix, we wouldn't have to worry about warranties, about dealing with the first company.
    But, alas - it IS the fucking pump.
    The guy showed up and took a look at the breakers, at the water heater, the electrical wiring.  All of our fears were confirmed when he shook his head and said, "Yep.  It's the pump."
    GREAT.  (You may envision me swearing at this point because it's entirely accurate.  I'll refrain from typing it all up, here.)
    So we pay him the weekend rate (double, I'm thinking) for coming out and checking things out.  He left saying that should we go with his company, the money we paid for the initial visit would be applied toward the total price of the job of replacing our pump.  Incentive and motivation indeed.  But now, this leaves us with another dilemma.  Do we want to wait until Tuesday to get ahold of the proper person at the company who first installed our pump in 2017 and see if the warranty could be honored - especially after they already indicated that it was 'expired'?  Or did we want to go with these new guys who would be willing to come install a new pump first thing the next morning, and apply the three hundred bucks and change we'd just paid, toward the new pump they'd have to put in?
    Deciding that neither we, or our five cats, could stand being without water for the next three days, we decided to go with the first-thing-tomorrow-morning option and we're going to task the Oompa with dealing with the company who installed our first pump.  They acted VERY unprofessionally when we needed their help and they're NOT going to be without responsibility.  Even though the newer company referred to the death of THAT pump as simply being 'Mother Nature pressing the FU button,' and confirmed it was nothing we did nor was it caused by the workmanship of the previous company.  Likely during one of our summer t-storms, there had been a power surge, and the pump had shorted.  "It happens," he said, "but we do offer that five-year warranty!"  
    Oompa, despite her many faults that we've come to recognize, has many talents.  Dealing with difficult people is indeed one of them.  She's a woman who makes shit happen and gets shit done.  So, dealing with 2017's water pump company is going to be a mission that J and I will GLADLY pass onto her. 
    Tomorrow morning arrived and has become tonight.  The laundry that's been piling up on the bathroom floor has been relocated into the machine, that will remain unplugged until water flow is restored into the House of Capulet.  I've already had to disappoint a certain orange feline of majestic size several times this morning in letting him know that his daily indulgence of drinking from the kitchen tap was unavailable.  He's been giving me those sad amber-colored eyes ALL day - translation: "HUMAN.  I want my water.  WHY are you not turning on the tap!?"  I apparently do not speak 'cat,' so I've given him extra doses of kisses and for now, he's been catching up on his sleep.  Being pure royalty is such hard work, after all!  He's been satisfied, though, with the pouring of a bottle of spring water into the bowl he shares with his sibling cats.  
    The guys have been here since 11am and two trips 'back to the office because they forgot something' have been made.  It is now nearly six in the evening and we've STILL not showered.  There is enough grease in my hair to fry up a batch of chicken cutlets.  I feel absolutely disgusting.  MY HOUSE feels filthy!  As there are only a couple hours remaining of daylight, I'm hoping the job will be completed soon enough and that the shower we both desperately need is on the horizon!
    Anyway - will be back later next week with another update.  I have missed utilizing this space to talk about everything and nothing - and sharing with you all those things that aren't posted about in the forums.  And I know that lately, I COULD have opted to put these things into a coherent blog entry, but - timing is everything!  Perhaps as more clarity is gained, I will slowly be able to speak on some of the other things. Much in my life is beginning to change, and while some people 'pwn' these changes - I seem to take a longer time than necessary to adapt.  
    I've still missed everyone and I'm here to stay.  Even if my water pump isn't.    (And hopefully this new one will last longer!). I'm also hopeful that you've all had a good summer!  
    Sending you all love and light! (and let there be water!)
    - Capulet
  10. Capulet
    Dear Eddie,
    It has taken me at least five whole minutes to decide whether a piece of shit like you warranted a 'dear.'  It was completely out of habit that I started this letter in the same polite, courteous way I would start a letter to anyone else.  YOU, however, are not just 'anyone else.'  
    I also debated whether or not I should use your name - I don't even know if it's your real name.  Either way, I have decided that I want people to know exactly who you are - and unfortunately, using your first name is not even enough.  This, though, is ALL I know about you.  There are many appropriate not-so-nice names I could call you, but for the moment, they elude me.  And so I'll use the name that has sparked terror and dread in me for the last twenty-two years.  
    While there's so much accumulated that I need to say to you, I don't even know where to start.  
    First of all, make no mistake - you're an absolutely despicable, horrible person and as far as I'm concerned, a waste of air and space.  But, no matter how much hatred I have for you, you're still, unfortunately, an important part of my life.  Not in the sense that I can't live without you - because I certainly CAN and honestly, would LOVE to.  As a matter of fact, I most likely would be living an entirely different life if it weren't for you.  I'm thinking that 'important' is a too nice a word - so perhaps I'll change it to 'significant.'  Clearly, that is ALSO too kind and positive a word to describe the likes of you.  
    I'm not going to worry about word-searching right now though; there's far too much that I need to say to you, regardless of whether or not you ever see this letter.  I'm certain you'll never hear me; why would you?  You quite effectively silenced me 22 years ago.  
    It seems fitting to write you this letter today.  I have had so much time to think and to cope with the emotional, mental, and physical side effects of what you did to me that night. I have not physically seen you in exactly 22 years - but I have 'seen' you MANY times, through memories and other reminders every single day since 10/4/1996.  It's gotten a lot better with time, but you have visited me in my sleep; you've assumed the identity of my grocer, a random person on the street, a classmate, the guy who owns a pizza place in central Long Island, the list goes on.  You were there whenever there were televised rape cases or trials; you did this to me, therefore your face was the one I saw, no matter who was currently on trial.  For a long time, you were everywhere I turned; there was no escape.  Now, you're not there as much, but deep down, I know that you'll never completely leave.  And that's both mind-blowing and kind of fucked up - we knew each other for JUST thirty minutes - and yet you are going to occupy a piece of my brain for the rest of my life.  
    In hindsight, you probably do not remember that night.  Or maybe, you do.  Maybe it makes you smile or laugh when you remember how you brutally and heartlessly overpowered a distressed seventeen-year-old girl.  It doesn't do me any good to consider your pleasure in doing so, so I won't.  But do NOT, for one MINUTE, think I didn't see out of the corner of my eye, that cocky smirk that was on your face while you were holding me down.  You enjoyed every second of what you did.  Perhaps I was just 'another girl' to you.  You've probably done the same to other vulnerable girls.  You were calculated, methodical, and sad to say, you knew exactly what you were doing.  I guess I've always wondered how you can sleep at night - knowing you, using your body as a weapon, destroyed every single one of my hopes and dreams in a matter of just minutes.  And I also wonder why?  Why did you do this?  What was in it for you?  Was it worth it afterwards?  
    Because of you, I spent the rest of that first year of college in a daze - it's a miracle I passed the courses I was taking.  It was a literal chore to get out of bed every day and do the same thing - get dressed in clothes that may or may not have been washed, drive to campus (and back) in a dissociated, autopilot mode, then spend evenings at home in a similar zombie-like state.  Then it was a rinse-and-repeat kind of thing, all while I withdrew socially and drifted slowly into a more consistent state of darkness.  Nothing was crystal-clear anymore.  Everything became fuzzy, jumbled and otherwise difficult to see - the life I had plans for no longer existed and was abruptly replaced with the life you forced me to live.   
    Because of you, I searched for emotional and sexual sustenance in all the wrong places.  I felt as if I had nothing of worth to offer the boyfriend I had at the time - so he was history shortly after.  You were my first sexual experience - and you taught me that sex was painful.  You also taught me that saying 'no' would not work - that fighting would get me hurt, and that it was ideal to just lay there and take it.  And so I searched silently and recklessly, for that 'good' experience that would negate the bad one.  For the record, this didn't happen.  Of course, the guy that SHOULD have been the one I gave my virginity to, was instead, the one I cast aside when I feared my innocence was no longer intact.  Because of you.  
    And on that note, it is because of YOU that I am both mortified and absolutely disgusted with my past behavior.  I've had 22 years to reflect on all of those poor choices and it's a goddamn miracle that I'm alive today!  I'm ashamed of myself - because of what you taught me, I allowed men to do absolutely horrible things to me - because I was too afraid to say 'no.'  I don't know if it was because I was afraid of being punched in the face or it was a learned auto-reaction at that point, but either way, whatever they wanted was usually what they got - this accomplished absolutely nothing more than eventually reducing my self-worth to zero.  I stopped caring about any repercussions or consequences of my actions.  In fact, I wanted to die - I wanted them to just put me out of my misery - the misery YOU started! 
    Obviously, that didn't happen, either.  I survived you, and then I survived my own self.  And today, I'm STILL surviving, although the only difference is - I've forgiven myself for my part in these bad choices - as much as I'd like to blame you for those, I cannot.  I acted alone, same way I did anything else.  ALONE.  I will say, you may be to blame for my self-imposed solitude - it's how I felt most safe and the least threatened - but maintaining this constant need to be alone is on me, and perhaps on my ex, who further implied that leading a private, isolated life was ideal.  Even TODAY, I find myself wanting more personal space and alone time than seems reasonable - and because of this, I'm seriously lacking in social skills.  It may not be entirely because of you, but you definitely helped that along.
    Because of you, I can't wash my floors with Pine-Sol.  The unmistakeable smell triggers me when I try and all I can remember is my face being held down against the cold, hard, wooden floor (which STILL smelled like Pine-Sol) while you raped me.
    Because of you, I have a DEEP, almost UGLY hatred of music.  No, it is not your fault that I was born with the inability to hear it - but it was also the reason no one heard me calling for help.  It brings my children such joy - they LOVE music.  So does my fiancee.  And I can't help but remember and remain stuck on how the 'noisiness' failed me.  Ironically, the music became somewhat of a focal point - when I stopped fighting and succumbed to your brutality, I focused only on the vibrations of the floor beneath me.  And that's what I continued to focus on even after you were finished with me.  It was a small comfort.  I was alone in a place I was unfamiliar with, I was in a large amount of pain, I NEEDED something to distract me.  And so I kept my eyes closed and my face against the floor for several minutes before getting up...just counting each pounding, deafening beat....it was better than trying to figure out WHAT had just happened to me.  And for about five minutes, it was my only comfort.  It was the only time I can remember where I welcomed the 'noise.'  It was during that tiny window where music was still okay, that window was slammed shut once loud, blasting music became a known trigger.  
    Because of you, I have not worn a skirt since that night.  There were a handful of occasions that required me to put on a bridesmaid's dress, but other than that, I refuse to wear anything without a crotch.  Even with those god-awful dresses, I wore a pair of skin-tight spandex shorts underneath because I needed to feel that extra layer of protection.  You taught me that I needed to be mindful of what I wore - and that skirts were not safe, regardless of whether they were long or short.  And every time I walk past one in the department store, I'm reminded of the cream-colored skirt with sunflowers on it that I wore that night.  That was my favorite - it was long, it covered my legs, and came all the way down to my ankles.  Because of what you did, I was forced to throw it away because I couldn't bear to look at it anymore.
    Because of you, I learned all about fear.  The simplest, STUPIDEST things would now cause me anxiety.  For me, fear goes hand-in-hand with trust, another thing that I lost the ability to do freely.  Once upon a time, I was a very trusting person; I had faith in other people, I believed in the good in everyone.  To a point, I still do, but it's become increasingly difficult for me to trust that not everyone is out to hurt me and there are actually kind, honest and truly good people out there.  Because of you, I'm constantly second-guessing people, I'm questioning why people even wish to associate with me - what's their reason for it?  How are they going to eventually hurt me?  I HATE this about myself - I understand it, but I don't like it.  I've walled myself off, because of you, and now I'm in a position where I need to learn to break down some of these walls or risk being alone later.  
    Because of you, I'm afraid to ask for help when it comes to communicating with others and putting ANY trust into the kindness of strangers.  Because if you recall, I was desperate and asked YOU for help.  We both know how that turned out.  Furthermore, I felt for the longest time that being hearing impaired was what landed me into trouble in the first place - I certainly could have made that phone call, myself, had I been born with two functional ears.  But it wasn't about that at all, was it?  This was what you planned, right?  This diabolical scheme of yours was devised and set into motion JUST as soon as I uttered, 'can you help me?'  Am I right?  This, like so many other questions I have for you, will likely remain unanswered.
    You know, I wonder what you are like today.  Have you changed?  (Although it is hard for me to see you as anything other than a cruel monster, I know people change and truly have repented for things they've done in the past.  I'm not sure this applies to you, though.)  Are you a good person now?  Are you happy?  Are you proud of yourself?  Do you have a successful job?  Are you married?  Do you have kids?  Do you have a DAUGHTER????  If you do, I TRULY hope that knowing that YOU, yourself, are a sexual predator causes you to now live in fear of someone doing to her what you did to me.  Of course I am not the type to wish ill will toward the women in your life that you DO love and care about - but I sincerely hope that you understand the severe gravity of the effects of sexual assault - not just on the ones who have experienced it, but on the people around them.  And I hope you know and recognize that YOU are a person who has single-handedly caused these effects.
    Do you ever even think about what you did to me, and possibly, to other women?  Or do you fall into the 'none of the above' category and are you rotting in a cell somewhere because you raped another woman who had more balls than I did and reported you?  Either way, do you feel any remorse at all?  Do you even KNOW what your actions have done to me, and perhaps to others?  I've had to accept that most all of the kickback from that night has been on me - you couldn't have cared less when you left me in that room, a bleeding mess.  If you're still alive and karma hasn't caught you yet, you probably still don't care.  You didn't care when I begged you to stop, you didn't care that all I wanted was to go home.  Instead, you laughed at me, you mocked my screams, you terrorized me.  
    I've come a long way in 22 years, though.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I've fantasized about killing you.  And (because it was the only way I could get away with it) - in my dreams, I have killed you in multiple ways.  I've yelled at you, I've screamed.  I've beaten the shit out of you, I've smashed your face in, I've castrated you, I've hammered your ballsack to a slab of wood with a rusty nail.  You hurt me 'there,' and I wanted desperately to return the favor.  I'm not a violent person by any means, and I'm slightly embarrassed to even admit what I've thought about doing to you and to other sexual predators.  You have certainly made me angry enough to entertain these thoughts, but that's all they were - thoughts.  Time has shown me that the physical pain subsides and there is nothing at all that will completely cure the emotional and mental pain that sexual assault inflicts.  This specific pain, that because of you, I feel every single day.  Yes, time has mended my spirit a great deal, but there is going to forever be a part of me that you stole, you still possess, and that I will NEVER get back.
    You know what, though?  I'm not mad at you anymore.  I have come to the conclusion that after 22 years, it is no longer anger I feel when this time of year rolls around.  It's become a permanent mark, yes, but it's also a numbing sadness that, no matter how much time has elapsed, will always live inside me and become more noticeable in the fall.  While I didn't have a choice in what's been plopped down on my plate (because of you), I DO have a choice in how I deal and cope with what's been served.  And I am now choosing to put that pre-existent anger behind me - it's done me NO good to hold onto it and I refuse to give you any more of my time or energy.  
    Plus, when dealing with anger, there is usually a resolution...a way to come to terms with it and eventually dissolve it.  I think that, for me, means you'd have had to 'make it right' or otherwise pay for your crime at some point.  But you'll likely never be held accountable for what you did to me - even if you've been reported by someone else and you're paying THAT price, the debt between you and I will never be resolved.   So, today, 22 years later, I am feeling that it is time to let go of it...and while I've managed to released all of this pent-up anger towards you - I'm still and always will be disgusted with the poor excuse of a human being that you are.  I will never forgive you, either.  Your fate is truly out of my hands, but I do have hope that when the time comes, you'll get exactly what you deserve.
    I do have remaining guilt for allowing you to walk free, for not getting up from the floor and chasing you out of that bedroom - I sometimes feel that in that moment, I should have mustered up whatever strength I had, found my voice, and exposed you for the rapist you are.  I've run through this scenario in my head, too - maybe someone would have restrained you, someone else would have called the police, and you would have been put away.  I'd have gotten medical attention, my parents would have found out what happened, sure, but at least you'd have been locked up.  Had that been what happened, it would likely have spared other women from having to experience the same thing I did.  But sadly, this is just another one of those 'woulda been nice' thoughts that will never come true.  Because of that life-changing, impactful half-hour I spent with you, the once fearless being I was, was rendered weak, speechless, and paralyzed.  I truly feel that because of you, I froze in fear and shock when that window of opportunity was open - I COULD have done something, but I did not.  While I now understand why I felt powerless in the moment, I feel that I still failed not only other women you may have subsequently harmed, but also myself.  And I HATE you for that, I HATE you for making me despise myself.  I hate you for teaching me the true meaning of the word 'hate.'  Such an ugly word; one that I don't even want my children to use...yet so fitting for how I feel about you.  I hate what you've done, what you represent, what you're capable of.  I hate your type - and that there are so many more of you roaming around.
    I hate YOU, Eddie.
    This is what I have to live with, though.  Other than this nagging feeling that I've failed myself and others, (which I've forgiven myself for as well) I've been a good person.  I've never hurt another person.  I am kind.  I am caring.  And I didn't deserve this.  I know this now.  Because of you, it took a LONG time to come to this realization.   
    I survived 22 years ago and today, will continue to grow as a person.   I am not the same person I would be had I not met you, but that's beyond my control, now.  Instead of trying to duplicate the person I used to be or 'pick up where I left off,' I am going to focus on reclaiming the small, yet significant things that you either stole or otherwise changed for me.  There are some things that are gone forever, but there's hope for some others.  I'm going to embrace the rest of this fall season, and all of the fall seasons to come.  Rather than scowl at the natural beauty of the changing foliage, I will instead smile in appreciation of the breathtaking scenery.  I will buy the biggest fucking bottle of Pine-Sol and wash my floors with it next week.  Why?  Because I KNOW that my face will not be pressed down against that floor afterwards - and I'm going to prove that the dread I feel toward Pine-Sol is simply going to mean it's time to complete the never-fun chore of washing the floors.  I'm going to slowly work on lowering the walls that are up, because of you, and learn to more freely delegate my trust in those who are deserving of it. 
    I suppose while there's plenty to blame and loathe you for, there is one positive thing that I can derive from our encounter 22 years ago.  Undoubtedly, that was the WORST, most impactful night of my life and to me, to be able to gain any positive insight out of such a negative, horrible event is pretty fucked up.  I don't want to give you credit for ANYTHING, more or less anything positive in my life - especially when I don't think I would be inspired to pursue the line of work I'd like to without first encountering your cruelty.  Because of you, I have developed a profound understanding of myself as well as the MILLIONS of other women who have been sexually assaulted.  I understand the deep, lingering pain and constant frustration, the emotional and sometimes physical toll that rape takes on a person.  I know that us women are individual beings and we all deal differently, but we all share this  common burden that we have to live with forever.  Because of you, and other predatory beings like yourself.
    Before you, I was an English major and wanted to become a scriptwriter.  And now, after you, I want nothing more than to use this experience, coupled with my gained understanding and knowledge of 'what comes after,' and become an advocate for sexual assault/rape survivors.  Because of you, I understand EXACTLY what other survivors are going through and the grueling, seemingly uphill journey that lies ahead of them.  I am now ready to grab ahold of as many survivors' hands as I can, and climb this hill with them in unity and solidarity.  At first, I questioned whether I'd be able to devote the rest of my life to doing this type of work - it's certainly not going to be easy, but perhaps in the process, I will continue to heal.  I know and understand that I will be healing for the rest of my life.  And so, I have made peace with this change - I feel more confident in my abilities to help others than in scriptwriting - but perhaps I've done both.  I've re-written my life's script.  I'll never be able to completely discard the old, broken, battered version of myself - but I can certainly decide what happens to me, moving forward.
    As for you, Eddie...
    I don't know what's going on with you right now.  You can be living the American dream with a house and family - or you can be sitting in a 12x12 cell in prison.  I've no way of knowing.  Either way, I truly hope that at one point during the rest of your life, that you learn the true definition of suffering, the way you made me suffer.  I hope that one day, you will understand the feeling of being overpowered, and that you will experience vulnerability.  I hope you see for yourself how it is to feel lonely and isolated because no one around you understands what you're going through.  I hope you learn all about that feeling of keeping your silence - and that you come to realize that it's because you just don't know who to trust anymore.  It'd also be nice to see you struggle with things you thought were simple and easy, but are no longer.  Because following trauma, NOTHING is the same, anymore.  The things you did every day become foreign and become things you have to re-teach this altered version of yourself to do, all over again.  And I hope that someday, something scares you to the point where your heart (I know you have one) starts pounding for reasons that may not be immediately clear.  I hope that in that same moment, you freeze and are unable to move, or even BREATHE.  That's PTSD, that's anxiety.  That's what you unfairly sentenced me to.  That's what I've had to live with for the last 22 years - because of you.  
    YOU however, have to live with everything I've mentioned in this letter.   And knowing your type, there's likely lots more that you're going to have to live with.  And, ultimately, that's what you deserve.  You deserve the absolute misery you've inflicted on others, you deserve pain and suffering.  I'm just sorry that I won't be there to witness that moment when Lady Karma decides it's your turn to pay the price for all the terrible things you've done!  
    And last, but not least, I truly hope you see my face when she finally catches up to you.  Don't forget to watch for the satisfied smirk.
    - Capulet
     (Because of you.)
  11. Capulet
    Hi, everyone!!
    Hoping you're all doing well.  I know my updates are getting more rare, and for that, I do apologize.   I'm really trying to get back into my writing habits, but it seems I've been experiencing some cloudiness.  More on that as we continue.
    I'm hanging in there, though, as best as I can.  
    School is in full swing, now.  We're now in our third week.  I've just received this morning the date of my first midterm...yep, you read correctly - we're ALREADY getting ready for midterms!  Of course, there's no shortage of actual schoolwork to do before then - four papers to do, (one for American Government, three for Social Work, one of them being an interview of another social work professional in the field of my choosing) and there will also be a midterm for at least two or three out of the five classes - the rest of my grades depend on class participation/work/online quizzes, all of which I'm working on - whether I'm volunteering answers in class or throwing out a thought here and there.  
    Summer is beginning to pack her bags and to dish out those final warmer days before she disappears until next June.  The mornings are becoming chilly - and midday highs are lingering around 70.  It's still warm, but there is still that all-too-familiar feeling that is TRYING to remind me that the Fall is right around the corner.  We're not yet seeing the emerging fall colors, but this will be soon.  I used to be able to avoid it all, for the most part, but I can't anymore.  For the first time in 20 years, I do not have the choice to stay home and just keep the blinds closed.  I can't 'tune out' the season changes like I used to be able to, now that I'm out and about every day.  Last year, I made it a point to drive to the store while it was still daylight - and just take in the natural beauty of the mountains.  All while telling myself, this wasn't where I was hurt - this was a whole different scene - a much, MUCH nicer one.  I was able to gain somewhat of a new appreciation of the prettiness of it all.  I remember writing/saying something to the extent of, "I got this, Fall isn't going to own me, anymore."  While I'm not ready to completely disregard that statement, it just feels a little bit different this year, and I'd be willing to bet all of my chips on it being because of the restarting of school.
    23 years ago - I FAILED almost all of my midterms.  I'd been raped a couple of weeks before they were given.  I was completely unprepared, and any attempts to cram were unsuccessful because there just wasn't any room in my brain for lecture recollections or memorized textbook definitions.  What WAS there, was prevalent and I'd thrown in the academic towel before the semester actually was halfway over with.  The one midterm I might have passed, I passed by the skin of my teeth.  
    Something interesting I've noticed about myself, though...
    First, though, let it be known that I'm NOT a school person.  I'm not a scholarly type.  I VERY HONESTLY believe I have some sort of a learning disability, or at the very least, undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder.  This has ALWAYS been the case, even pre-rape, even in high school in the early to mid-90's.  The Oompa, a schoolteacher, used to confine me to my room when I had a test coming up (where she thought I'd be the least distracted) to study.  I'd sit on my bed, and TRY to read whatever was in the textbook in front of me.  Key word here - TRY.  It never would happen, though, for I'd get LOST in the text, and find my eyes drifting to the poster of Luke Perry on my wall (RIP, Luke) or to stuffed animals, or to ANYTHING other than the study material that I just couldn't deal with.  Hours would go by, she'd come in and try to 'quiz' me - and then she'd toss the book back at me when I came up empty and told that I had another hour to miraculously learn weeks worth of material.  She'd also say that if I scored any less than an 80% on the test, I'd be grounded...in reality, though, she really had nothing to 'take' from me other than TV.  "You're not watching insert-TV-show-here tonight!" 
    But anyway - school was ALWAYS a nightmare, and I've always had it in my head that I was going to fail because I couldn't focus...what the hell WAS focus, anyway??  I just had zero ability to do it.  My mind would wander, my brain would throw up the fences and information wasn't being retained...it was being rejected and bouncing back out almost as quickly as it'd be pushed in.
    Now, I'm STILL not a school person.  I've not really opened my books, yet, because I know how it was in the past, how I'll start reading and VERY quickly forget what it was I've just read.  I've browsed with my highlighter on some of my textbook pages, but I've not yet done the deeper, in-depth reading.  I've only gone to the textbooks when I needed a definition of something - or a quick explanation of what something was and it wasn't available on the internet (another something I couldn't do in 1996 - the internet DID exist but access wasn't as easy as it is, now!) or the professor was wanting specific definitions as put by the required course textbooks.  One textbook had exercises, so there was need to actually open that one - but for the most part, I've been focusing on what I can do without subjecting myself to reading that won't stick in.  
    For example - those four papers that I have to do - I've found that starting word documents for each paper has helped, even if I'm for now just writing the paper topic at the top and throwing notes and a potential outline in there for when the time comes to put it all together.  They are due October 7th, 24th, November 7th and December 5th.  Obviously, I'll focus on the October papers, first, but I'm finding myself being more obsessed with getting things started, WAY before they'll come due....just to make myself feel that I can breathe a little when the due dates grow closer.
    This is a huge difference in me from when I was in high school.  I don't know if being older has anything at all to do with it.  I know ADD though, is not curable.  I STILL can't sit and read through a book - especially not a textbook with big, fancy words.  I know myself, though.  When the time comes to prepare for midterms, I'm going to be obsessing on whether the papers are at least being worked on.  I'm ALSO going to worry about whether I've screwed myself because I've not put in the reading beforehand, and spent too much time trying to get ahead on other things.  So...it's a catch-22 anyway, isn't it? 
    Let it be known that the Son doesn't have this problem.  He can avoid opening books (I don't even know why he buys them) and he still pulls a 3.8 GPA.  (Yes, because of this, he's been called a jerk...but he's MY jerk, and I love him and am SO proud of him.)
    Anyway.  Moving along.
    I'm definitely in the school and homework groove I SHOULD have been in, all those years ago.  'Better late than never,' right?  I've had such an outpouring of support from those of you who know how hard it's been to restart this old engine that sputtered all these years ago...and as always, it's appreciated, it's loved and it's needed.  A continuance of that encouragement is needed, also, as there's nine weeks remaining in the semester.
    In other news... 
    The wifey and I went to Philly last weekend and took in a baseball game at Citizens Bank Park.  It was nice to just be able to relax, enjoy one another's company, and reconnect.  Even better, her Red Sox beat the Phillies, and knocked them down a couple of notches.  My Mets are still in the wild card race.  Which is, of course, the only scenario where I'd root for the Red Sox.  
    Last week, the daughter, while horsing around with her brother, broke her pinkie finger on her right hand.  I suppose trying to swat him was a bad idea.  Although the daughter agrees, she's not entirely upset with the orthopedic's instructions that she skip gym for two weeks.  
    Bowling two times a week has started up, again.  Back to my Monday and Friday night leagues, and thoroughly enjoying being back in that groove.  I have missed doing that over the summer.  Between my uncle/first abuser dying, and a couple of other personal issues (having nothing to do with the uncle dying) coming up, I spent a good portion of this summer doing some self-reflection, ultimately leading me back into T.
    T is...well...T.  
    On that note, I had an appointment this afternoon after class.  Went in and sat down, with no idea what to talk about.  I've heard of people growing attached, reliant on their therapists, and I'm just not feeling this with her.  She's nice and all - always starts out with, 'how are you doing?' Today, we talked about school, and how I'm adjusting.  How's my anxiety, things like that.  I told her everything's fine.  I mentioned NONE of what I mentioned above.  Silly, no? I think the word I'm looking for is, 'predictable.'  I've just never had a T challenge me or my thinking.  
    But...she asked how things were going on the home front.  Better, I had to admit.  Now that I have more to fill my days with, more to occupy myself with, I don't really sit and stew when she goes out with her friends.  We've determined that I'm just not a social butterfly (which anyone who knows me at this point, ALREADY knows) and that's okay.  It's just how I am.  Then, she took out her pen and notepad and said that next time, we were going to start working on some of my deeper issues, including the ones from whence the social awkwardness potentially emerged.  I tried to contain my excitement when I mumbled, "sounds good."
    Other than that, there really isn't much happening in my world.  I am SURE the next few weeks will bring forth a slew of additional thoughts.  Although I've been keeping busy, there's still that familiar little voice, that says, 'you better not forget that I'm still here!'  Right now, it's a whisper, a little reminder that no matter how much I would like to, how much I try, I cannot deny its existence.  I am hoping that I can keep the volume down by taking the time to somehow acknowledge this year's traumaversary, even if I exercise self-care and self-indulgence (extra caramel iced coffee) on the actual date.  I know it'll never be fully muted, though, and that the only way to keep it from becoming 'loud' again is to let these thoughts be and deal with them as they pop up.  On one hand, being back at school is helpful because it keeps my mind busy.  On the other, it's a reminder of where I was and what I was doing 23 years ago when my trauma happened.  
    Guess we'll see how that all goes!
    Hoping all is well with everyone.  I've stayed up WAY past my bedtime tonight - but seemingly my body doesn't want to ALLOW for me to sleep for a longer period of time than the 4-5 hours I'm normally accustomed to.  I'm sure I'll be paying for it tomorrow (today) but, I'll deal with that tomorrow (today).  Maybe a cap-nap will be in order (typo was added on purpose) tomorrow.  
     Talk soon,
        - Capulet
  12. Capulet
    As promised, your morning update following last night's novella.
    I'm smiling. 
    The scale is still alive, so if inanimate objects could smile, then the scale would also be smiling.
    Not only did I lose the pound I gained last week, I lost another on top of that!  I am now only a half pound away from my 25 pound goal!  Of course, I'm wanting to continue but 25 seemed like a nice number to set as a starting goal.  Almost there!!!
    I'm also pretty happy because not only did I have the steak dinner last week, I finished off a delicious gelati from Rita's.  My bowling friends wanted to celebrate the end of our bowling season and invited us to Rita's.  This place is certainly another one of my weaknesses.  Those frigging gelatis are to DIE for.  They put a layer of custard at the bottom, put a layer of italian ices (you pick the flavor), then top it off with another swirl of custard.  Oh, my GOD.  
    Each of those damn things is 19...yes, 19....points. (Oompa: "points!")
    They're closed in the winter, which is probably a good thing.  J and I have been known to go to the grocery store for ice cream in the dead of winter should we have a craving but since moving to Pennsylvania and enduring this past winter, ice cream is about as appealing as an ice bath.
    Rita's re-opens in the spring.  We were driving by it earlier in the week and upon seeing that it was now open for the spring and summer, I looked up how many "points!" a gelati was.  Nineteen.  UGH.
    SO I decided then and there, I'm going to reward myself ONCE per week with a vanilla custard/cherry ices gelati from Rita's.  I'll have to save up my weeklies, and will treat myself to Rita's if there haven't been any other slip-days in the week.  I think the fact that I had one last week and still lost over 2 pounds is yet another small victory; it tells me that I CAN treat myself.  I just have to be super cautious on the six other days.  
    So, that's it for now.  Hope everyone's day is marvelous.  Mine's started out wonderfully and I'm off to raid the fridge.  Eggs and toast actually sound GOOD right now.
     & ,

    - Capulet
  13. Capulet
    *Please be advised that this entry deals with teenage/child death, accidents, and fear.  If any of these trigger you, please skip it or save it for a time when you are in a better frame of mind.*
    Today, my seventeen-year-old son confided in me that two of his friends were killed in a car accident as recently as a day or two ago, in our old hometown in New York.
    He wasn’t emotional or a blubbering mess about it, but he did pull up the Instagram account of the sister of one of the crash victims.  There was a photo of the now deceased 19-year-old and a photo of the 17-year-old boy who died alongside him.  Then, he showed me a news article covering the crash and apparently, the 19-year-old had been driving, and somehow lost control of the car and hit a parked car and a utility pole.  The driver had been speeding and both boys died instantly.  
    My son hasn’t seen these friends in months, but heard through someone he is in frequent contact with about the accident/deaths. He is sad, I can tell, but I don’t think the severity and finality of the situation has fully hit him.  I think this is typical of boys his age, though.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he shed a few tears when alone, privately and where no one would be able to see him.  For now, I offered him my condolences and asked if he would like to attend services for his friends.  He shrugged.  It’s all I can do, really, aside from giving him the space he needs in order to grieve in the way he sees fit.
    Now that I’m home and we’ve finished dinner, I can’t stop thinking about this and about the fact we’re all on borrowed time.  These kids had their whole entire lives in front of them.  They were on their way to college, they had plans for themselves.  They had hopes and dreams.   They had families and friends who loved them.  And now, in a single instance, a snap of the fingers, they’re gone.  Just like that.
    Before this, I’ve been asked many, many times what I’m afraid of.  And ya know, I really, really, REALLY had to dig deep within.  I know I’ve said this before but I have seen a WHOLE lot of ugly in my lifetime.  I have met horrible people, I’ve read about things in the news that absolutely disgust me, I’ve experienced things that others would have categorized as scary but has instead left me unfeeling.  
    I am not afraid of spiders or other insects or rodents.  You will not see me screaming like a girl (even though when I DO scream, I am sure I sound more feminine than I do masculine…) whenever something crawls, slithers, scurries across the floor.  I’m the one called upon to rid the house of unwelcome creepy crawlies whenever the cats haven’t done their jobs or just can’t be bothered by the pests.
    I am not afraid of horror films, of clowns (the creepy ones), of those things that go bump in the night.  I’m not afraid of the things that jump out of the shadows and yell, “BOO!”  I can certainly be startled, and it’s happened from time to time, mostly because of my hearing impairment preventing me from detecting another person who may or may not be trying to get my attention. 
    I am, however, TERRIFIED of losing one of my children.  There’s just nothing else that compares to the fear of the possibility of that happening.  
    So, my son wanted to drive home today.  After telling me about the death of two of his friends, in a CAR ACCIDENT.  
    I have let him drive before, and he’s not a bad driver.  He, for the most part, drives the speed limit.  That annoys the people behind him, but I’ve always told him not to worry about them, his safety was more important than someone else’s impatience.  
    My first thought when he asked to drive us home?  No.  No, absolutely not.  I don’t want him driving.  I don’t want him to be tempted to speed, I don’t want him to test his limits and put himself or anyone else in danger.  I don’t want him to hop into a car with a friend who just got his license and is anxious to show off driving skills they may or may not have.  I’m SO flipping scared of this, of losing him or his sister, of getting that phone call, of my not being able to go on if anything were to ever happen to one of my children.  Because the fear of this is so great, NOTHING else makes me bat an eye.  Everything else is small potatoes compared to this insurmountable terror.
    I let him drive, though.  Because as uneasy as I feel about his preparing himself for life, I cannot hold him back nor can I put him in a big, huge safety bubble.  Same with my daughter, although I think I have a few years before I have to repeat this meltdown when SHE begins driving.
    I’m not even sure why I’m even writing about this.  Usually I get to writing when there is something pressing to ponder and I want to see if writing about it makes it less of a mystery.  This, though?  It’s not a question, nor a blog entry that requires feedback. I guess I just want to say I’m very, very afraid.  And to feel fear reminds me that I am human and the unknown applies to me, too.
    The unknown also scares me.  That’s a perfect description of it and sums it all up.
    I suppose in closing, I will to ask all of you to say a prayer for these two families in New York City that are one hundred percent devastated right now.
    - Capulet
  14. Capulet
    *** This was also posted in the Aftermath section.  It was a little bit longer than the standard length of most posts there but the message I hope to convey is a powerful one and I feel that it is more than just a post.  I've copied/pasted it here because while it was meant to be a post, it's also another one of my famous 'cleanses' and certainly belongs here, too.  ***
    This is likely going to turn out to be a long post. I apologize in advance.  There's just an enormous amount of brain-clutter these days and the OCD person I am is trying to sort through some of it, organize it.  Writing is simply my way of doing so.  I also am still trying to debate whether this should be a blog entry as opposed to board pollution, but it may very well end up being both...the message is powerful regardless of where it's placed.
    I made the stupidest decision when I was 20 years old. A decision even more stupid, it sometimes seems, than those I made during my own personal mission to self-destruct.
    I will set a small timeline in order to better convey where I'm going with this.  And in doing so, I dare not touch my suspicions of there being CSA in my childhood.  I have tried to remember the details of that, but to no avail.  I'm SURE it played a part, even a minuscule one, in my 'blueprint,' but without facts, I can't say for sure what stems from this and what doesn't.  And so, I'm leaving that alone.  Until the memories that have been repressed decide to resurface, this is not something that it's currently within my power to sift through, and so it's probably best to pull it out of the equation.
    So I will declare the rape I experienced at 17 years old to be the catalyst for the behavior that would soon follow.
    Shortly after the assault, I broke up with the first boyfriend I'd ever had.  A GOOD guy.  Very sweet, very kind.  He hailed from a strictly devout Catholic family.  We'd done nothing more than kissing and some over-the-clothes stuff.  We were both virgins and we'd talked about marriage being the best time to 'give' this to each other.  We HAD talked about marriage.  We were kind of serious/kind of joking, in that teenage dream sort of way.  It gave us something to talk about when being physical wasn't an option.  But anyway - after that virginity was taken from me, I felt I had nothing left to offer him.  
    Now, I know that's not the realistic way to look at it - I WAS still a virgin - I hadn't willingly given my virginity to another person.  I hadn't given my consent.  At the time, though, my brain was not allowing for me to think clearly.  All I could think of was how HE felt about it being so sacred.  I thought about how it'd be on our wedding night, should that ever become a reality...he'd probably know that he wasn't my first.  As if and he'd be disappointed, angry, maybe?  It wasn't something I wanted him to feel, nor was it something I wanted to explain as having happened to me, either.  And, oh, God, what if he didn't BELIEVE me? 
    And so, I sent him a lengthy e-mail and told him that I didn't love him, I didn't want to be together anymore.  He pleaded, he cried, he begged, he told me he loved me and wasn't giving up that easily.  But I was unrelenting.  Mean at times.  I cut him out.  Completely.  Eventually, he stopped emailing, writing letters, sending little presents.  He was truly gone...along with the rest of whatever was good in my life - discarded.  And for a long time, I blamed only myself while I grieved what could have been.  I did love him.  I did love the thought of him being the first person I had sex with.  But that was gone now.
    Time went on...I'd say a few months crawled by.  I signed up with AOL and began to frequent chat rooms, not looking for anything other than just to connect with someone.  I couldn't do it in person; I was too awkward around other people.  I wanted to be around SOMEONE, someone neutral, someone who didn't know me, someone who didn't know the girl I was before this monster....ruined me.  So, while those who DID know me questioned these personality changes, (that I, almost too flawlessly dismissed as being 'busy' and dealing with 'college stress') I was looking for companionship with people who weren't so perceptive to these new differences.
    Really, though..there was an incredible void within, and I didn't know how to fill it.  I was indeed isolating myself from people who cared about me - I withdrew socially, I stopped talking to life-long friends and eventually, they, too, followed suit.  I'm not sure if that's a failure on my part or theirs - aren't friends supposed to pick up on these things???? - either way, it was just how the cookie crumbled.  I fell apart, academically and JUST managed to pass my classes. Not sure if it was a pity-pass by the professors who probably noticed there was something wrong.   
    Eventually, I did what I thought was the safest, most anonymous way of connecting-but-not-connecting and socialized online more than I did in reality.  These people didn't know me.  Although I WILL say that I wasn't dishonest about who I was.  I was truthful about the important details - age, where I was from, etc.  I just wasn't me anymore.  These were strangers and I found it was easier to talk to people when there were no emotions attached. I was no longer the cautious, innocent, happy young lady I vaguely remember being.  I was now '18/f in _____' and no one really wanted or cared about all the background information.  It's just the hookup they wanted, sadly, and after a while, I began to (stupidly)  arrange for some of these meetings.
    My "first" was a guy who lived a couple towns over.  He was a year older than me.  Didn't go to my college, which was a good thing, in hindsight.  But we'd talked online first for a little while and then met in person.  He, too, was hearing impaired, so there was a little MORE of a connection than I'd learn I was comfortable with at the time.  I WAS attracted to him; he was very handsome.  And he quickly became the first person I consented to.  There was a brief, sloppy, clumsy encounter on the floor in his room, all of our clothing hadn't even been removed.  As quickly as it started, it was over.  And while this meant that I TRULY wasn't a virgin anymore, I can't help but feel like that didn't count, either - during this encounter, I felt absolutely nothing.  No pain, no pleasure.  Just...nothing.  
    He WAS a looker, but I didn't love him, I felt dirty and ashamed afterwards, I'm sure a side-effect of being touched for the first time since...that guy.  I ignored that feeling, though.  If anything, I felt it was a replacement of sorts.  A subpar experience to refer back to instead of the bad one that still plagued my dreams at night.  He DID contact me a few days after I'd slept with him and said that he felt needed to be honest - he still had feelings for an old girlfriend and he was going to attempt to re-connect with her.  He just would rather we remained friends.
    I graciously accepted that.  
    I think, for me, I was only looking to feel something...I wasn't sure what.  I was still having my bad days.  Nightmares, flashbacks, things were triggering me left and right, I'd begun to self-injure.  I continued to isolate from people I already knew.  I stopped caring about the importance of the things that truly mattered.  I was now fully emerged into a downward spiral.  
    So when approached (electronically) by men (and women) wanting to meet for drinks or for dinner (which I knew meant sex and more sex) I usually obliged.  I'd go, not expecting sex...maybe perhaps I'd be pleasantly surprised and someone actually wanted something of substance.  It almost ALWAYS headed in the 'meaningless sex' direction, though.  There was one-night-stand after one-night-stand.  I began to sleep around, not because it was something I enjoyed, but because, little by little, it began to chip away at my self-worth and in order to feel something - ANYTHING, that's what I needed.  
    Physically, these experiences were unsatisfying, sometimes painful.  Sometimes they'd be courteous to ask if I was okay with having sex.  Having once said no and not been listened to, I wasn't taking that chance again.  And so I would say nothing in place of the 'no' that I SHOULD have been able to say and instead became a silent participant, even if it was just by way of pleasing THEM in ways they wanted to be pleased.  That 'I'll do whatever you want, just don't hurt me' mentality was a constant - and rather than allow myself to be harmed, the submissive side of me would emerge and I'd find myself doing whatever necessary just to get through it.
    Eventually, there were more risky hookups...hookups that I am TRULY fortunate did not end badly for me.  I allowed for a lot of things to be done TO me - without caring, without feeling, without fear.  Numbness completely took over.  I allowed for some pretty messed up things, things that PROBABLY could be described as borderline assault, but simply because I allowed these things, they were not.  I want to say this is when I was at my lowest point.  Secretly, I wondered if this would be the end - would one of them kill me when they were finished?  Was I just not cut out for this cruel, unfair world and death was about to become a consequence?  Would one of these guys do me a favor and just end it all for me?  Was this what I was actually doing?  Trying to kill myself?
    Obviously, that was not the case as today, I'm still alive.  
    Okay, so here's what this post is REALLY about.  
    I have a question for you all - a question that lately I've had to ask myself.  Mostly because in some respect, I spend a lot of time trying to justify marrying an asshole.  The temporary insanity argument just doesn't cut it as well as it used to - there's so much more behind it all.  
    So, I met the wasband in the middle of all of this, shortly before turning 20.  He was introduced to me by a mutual friend, though so from the start, it was different from previous 'hookups.'  AND - he was a cop.  I suspect that friend we shared knew that I needed some positivity in my life and while she didn't intend for us to become anything more than friends, she had hoped that he could help me straighten out my life and sort of re-route the direction I was headed in.  She did tell me about him, too, before asking if it was okay to pass along my screen name.  He was recently separated, he had two small children and he was a 'good' guy - and bonus!  He was local.
    I met him online first.  We chatted a few times before agreeing to meet for dinner.  So at this point, my brain's like, here we go - here's the next one, this'll end just like all the rest of them...
    But then, it didn't.
    We went on several dates (dinner, movies, long walks...oh and there was TALKING!  Imagine that!?)  before he ASKED me if he could kiss me before I would go home for the night.
    I'm not sure what happened to my brain then, but something clicked.  Where that 'do whatever you can to keep from getting hurt' went, I don't know.  It wasn't there then. I did want to kiss him, yes, but there was also that fear of this turning into another hookup.  For the first time, it felt significant, it felt safe.  He wasn't pushing for sex.  He was patient with me.  It felt..not 'right,' but better than anything I'd ever felt before.  So, my first thought then was to test him.  And myself.  
    I told him, "Not yet."
    He respected my boundaries and didn't ask again until our next date.  I obliged this time and we shared our first kiss then.  From there, he would ASK me before proceeding any further.  We eventually (slowly) became more intimate - and were pregnant with my son four months later.  The choice to marry was next - and I was quick to accept his marriage proposal.  I didn't think about it.  I said yes.
    But I have to admit to myself that it wasn't out of love.  Shit, I didn't have enough TIME to learn how to love.  It's such a complex feeling, one that requires TIME to develop.  
    But, now there was a baby involved, now I'd met someone who made me feel that it was okay to leave all of the self-destructive urges behind and refocus on something far, FAR more important than ways to hurt myself.  And now, I had more to look forward to, I was bringing a perfect little human being into the world and it was time to put such thoughts to rest.  The transition from being a nothing more than a booty call or one-night-stand into someone's wife and mother, was sort of forced, but in a way, I think it's what I needed - I needed to be grounded, I needed to be forced into making this choice, even if I was the one to force myself.  Otherwise, I really don't know where I'd be now.  And so, I took what felt acceptable at the moment and went with it, regardless of the absence of the head-over-heels feeling that usually is the deciding factor in getting married...and so against my better judgement, I said yes to the dress.
    I think that for a while, it felt pretty great - I was beating myself at my own game, at life.  It's because when we were just starting out, he allowed me to take control.  And looking back, this is highly unusual for him - shortly after we were married, he seemingly evolved into an entirely different person and managed to seize any relinquished control back and became the aforementioned asshole.  At first, it was usually the money and budget related, or kid-related, parenting fights.  Then he would slowly bring up (and criticize) each and every one of my past flaws - possibly due to my still having some lasting, left over, under-the-surface issues despite his 'rescue' efforts. 
    I think that once I took his last name, he'd assumed that my name wouldn't be the only thing to change.  He had expectations that being married would somehow "fix" or diminish anything bad that had happened in my life.  I'd attempt to reach out and discuss things that still bothered me.  At first, he would listen.  Then slowly, he began to become increasingly 'tired' of hearing it and eventually the words, "you need to get over this," came out of his mouth.  That was my cue to stop badgering him with such matters.  I went to others with it, instead, especially those I felt could relate on some level.  When he found out that I was sharing feelings with people other than him, he became angry with me and accused me of seeking attention and that my preference to take some of these issues elsewhere was 'emotionally cheating.'  Even though I explained to him that I no longer desired to burden him with all of this, he was still paranoid and untrusting.  He needed to see ALL of my communications - emails, texts (now that they were a thing) and instant messaging.  If he, Heaven forbid, saw that I was beginning to confide in someone else, or even become close to someone (even though it was strictly on a friends-only basis) he'd get angry all over again and sometimes insult my friends to the point where I felt ashamed even talking to people that I truly liked.  To open myself up to someone else, even if it was just to spare him the repetition, he would view as a betrayal - I have absolutely NO idea how that even is the case.  
    I soon began to suppress EVERYTHING.  I just stopped talking.  I stopped thinking.  I stopped dealing.  Whenever something popped up, I engaged in a mental game of whack-a-mole and would quickly banish it back from whence it came.  I knew there was stuff still lingering, but it just wasn't acceptable to discuss any of it anymore.  And I certainly wasn't going to resort to old ways - I was now married, I was a mother.  The beast had been 'tamed,' unsure if this is even the correct way to describe it.  Yet, by respecting his wishes, although unreasonable and suppressing, I suspect I did some further damage.  Instead of healing through the support that others would have been able to provide, I began to isolate again.  
    Although I felt I did as he wished, I'd find out that this wasn't going to change the type of person he was turning out to be.  He continued to bully and manipulate me and everyone else around him.  He continued to put me down when I needed the opposite.  Little by little, he broke me down.  He made me feel horrible about myself.  I soon began to feel that just as I sadly didn't really love him when we agreed to marry, he likely felt the same way about me.  Why else would he treat me this way?  There just wasn't any other reasonable explanation for it.  I soon felt that this was punishment for all the crap I'd done in the past - it HAD to be.
    I'd just basically gone from one prison to the next.  Getting married and having children and raising a family did NOT fix me.  It only ensured a transfer from maximum security to minimum.  I'm still so, SO affected (although not as severely) by what's happened in the past, but now I've learned better ways of coping, simply because I forced myself to.  I served 8 years in this particular mental prison, he was my 'guard' rather than a husband and he subjected me to the most confusing 8 years of my life.  I was paroled and set free only by divorce, which will be close to 10 years ago that it was finalized.    
    During the time I've been 'out,' I've worked hard to pick myself up.  I'm in a healthy relationship with an absolutely amazing woman.  When I met her, I was a complete MESS.  
    I didn't know how to communicate very well offline, with another human being.  I'd gotten SO used to keeping to myself.  To allowing others to see only what I wanted them to see.  Once we met in person, we had an interesting time trying to get to know each other on every level.  And that's where I found the love that I didn't know I was capable of feeling.  My only regret was having not met her sooner, but I'm not sure if that's how life would have played out if I had.
    I have had to re-educate myself on how to properly sort out my feelings, my thoughts.  Regardless of being in a MUCH better place now, I'm finding it to be a lifelong process....and the whack-a-mole games have restarted - only I'm now struggling with moles I've never seen before...the moles, when they used to be purely black and white are now teal, pink, purple, red, blue, polka-dotted, striped, etc.  One pops up and I'll take a swing, only to find that another has popped up in a different location before I've had time to deal with the first one. And that's when it starts to get overwhelming.  
    Guys...there's still so much SHAME, though. 
    I'm so ashamed of myself for the things I did prior to meeting the wasband.  I know that I just didn't know how to handle it and I let others handle things FOR me.  My personal growth and evolution has provided me the wisdom to understand why I (and others) did (do) these things.  I get it.  All of it.  
    It doesn't help the feeling of shame I still get from time to time when I think about the blatant disrespect I treated myself with.  I was literally ready to punch in my one-way ticket to the point of no return.  But instead, I did something that I thought would potentially be less harmful and would give my life some purpose, no matter the cost.
    Has anyone else ever done this?
    Did anyone else get married just to escape the possibility of an alternative, less favorable path?  In my case, it didn't work out but it DID deflect from a far more dangerous existence.  If so, what was the outcome for you?  
    I think more people than we realize are guilty of this.  Not particularly on the same level, but still. I think this is something that I need to be told is normal (under the circumstances) and that I'm not a terrible person for making some of the poor choices I've made.  I've already forgiven myself for past indiscretions and accept my reasons for doing so but in the process, I've felt so ALONE with it all.  I've felt judged, even though very few people even KNEW this about me.  I was and still am my worst critic.
    This turned out to be MUCH longer than intended - will also post it in my blog as it's a cross between a post and a cleanse.  Regardless, it's one that I'd TRULY appreciate some feedback on, so please don't be shy.  Hit the comments below.
    Wishing you all an endless supply of hugs, if those are your thing.  If not, then I wish you strength, healing and light.

    - Capulet
  15. Capulet
    Okay, friends - I lied.  
    I FULLY intended to be here and updating a day or two before Thanksgiving, but WHEN do things go exactly as planned!?  I'm just glad that I was able to extend to you all a proper Thanksgiving greeting in some way or another before the holiday.  Additionally, it is my hope that you all made it through the holiday unscathed and that you're all gearing up for Christmas!!  
    I'm here now, so that's what matters.
    My Thanksgiving started off horribly.  It was shortly after 12:45am on Thanksgiving morning when the internet at Casa Capulet decided to stop working.  I tried everything to get it back up and running - I actually was contemplating posting a few things, but there was apparently an alternative force that was hard at work in preventing me to do so.  
    I begged, pleaded with my modem to cut the crap.  I even tried the neighbor's dog's name to see if I could 'borrow' their WiFi.  It was the middle of the night, they weren't using it, so why couldn't I? LOL.  (Either they don't like their dog very much or they were smart enough to use a more randomized password, because that was also a no-go!)  I reset the modem thrice; each time allowing it to be 'off' for longer periods of time in case that was the issue.  It wasn't.  It was too late to place a call to our cable company and demand a fix/reboot on their end, so I ended up giving up on it and going to bed around 3am.  I was up again at six or seven - and the modem was still flashing like a Christmas tree.  Our HOUSE phone worked, but that wasn't connecting me to the internet.  It did connect us to the cable company, though, who first attempted to troubleshoot over the phone - they insisted that it was not an outage, but instead it was a need for our modem to be replaced, for it was likely broken because they were unable to get a signal.  Then, they said those horrible eight words no one wants to hear:
    "We're going to have to send someone out."
    Now, in the past, and especially living in New York City, this meant we'd be waiting for at least a week for someone to come get us reconnected.  I don't know if living in the sticks of Pennsylvania makes any difference but immediately, I began to assume the worst.  I'd be waiting for a week or two, wouldn't I?  I was extremely relieved to hear that I'd only have to wait until Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and someone would be by between 9am and 9pm.  This did put the kibosh on any Black Friday shopping plans but I didn't really have any other than to use a coupon or two.
    Thankfully we have neighbors (across the street - with a different dog) who are kind and they allowed me to access THEIR network until the techie from the cable company was able to come over.  (And their dog's name was not the password, in case you were wondering!)  So, after Thanksgiving dinner at the wasband's (which went as well as it normally does - we sit around and do nothing/watch their usual chaos unfold as he barks out orders) I was able to come home and connect for a little while.  The connection was slow but it still enabled me to electronically keep connected with others.  So it was a decent end to a long, tiring day with minimal contact with anyone else.  My J was working from 7am until 11pm - so as is, I wasn't seeing her at all.  
    Late Thursday night, J's two sisters dropped in (they did say there was a possibility they would) and so, Friday morning, they went out for breakfast/getting nails done while I stayed behind and waited for the cable techie to show up - in the meantime, I pulled down the attic stairs and enlisted in the help of my daughter in getting out all the Christmas decorations.  Together, we got the tree up and we were decorating it when the cable techie finally arrived.
    Apparently our modem was fine.  It was the wires outside - they froze, and as a result, there was water in our lines.  It was the first I've EVER heard of something like this happening - and during the beginning of this year (March or so) we had two extended power outages lasting 3-5 days each.  Basically no power = no WiFi - so THAT's the worst-case scenario.  Water in the lines, though?  Never heard of such a thing.  
    "So, how do we prevent these wires from freezing?" I asked him, "Do you have wire sweaters, or something?"
    He gave me a look, he must have thought I was trying to be funny.  (Not me!)  I got a 'ahem,' followed by, "sometimes, ma'am, it's what happens in extreme cold weather conditions."
    I gave him a look back.  "You do realize it's only November, right?"
    At any rate, my wires have been replaced.  I am not sure if he took extra measures to keep them from freezing, but I suppose if it were to happen again, I always have my neighbor's WiFi to fall back on until they can come fix it again.  
    And get this - HER wires did the same exact thing on Saturday!!!!!  By now, MY WiFi was fixed, so I was able to extend to her the same courtesy.  I did tell her that just for shit and giggles, she should ask for wire sweaters, too.  
    So, this was the drama surrounding Thanksgiving. Thankfully (not a play on words, but...) it is all over with - the turkey has been ingested, the leftovers thrown away by now, the guests have gone home, and the weekend-after Thanksgiving plans to 'Christmasize' the house have been carried out, leaving just the outside lights to be put up. (maybe later this weekend?)  Now my primary focus is to just get through this ONE last holiday of 2018.  I've done SOME, but not all, of my Christmas shopping by way of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales but there is still much to  be done in that respect.  
    I'm just not feeling it.  I'm TRYING, but i'm not there, yet.  
    Here is where I will reluctantly admit that there's more going on in my life right now - there is more than just cable/internet problems, more than the usual holiday stress, more than the occasional tiff with the wasband about what I'm not doing correctly, more than the usual kid-related drama.
    In summary, my fiancee has returned to therapy a couple months ago and is currently undergoing EMDR.  
    I'm unsure if I've mentioned her return to therapy previously but it was a choice she's had to make - she's had a lot of work related stressors lately, and they have brought forth some emotional changes in her.  She admits to stuff coming up from 'way back,' stuff that she never truly finished dealing with or working on with her previous T.  When we met, she was undergoing therapy in the state she lived in - and our relationship, although it was what we both needed in order to get ourselves in a happier, better place, did 'interrupt' the work she was doing in therapy - even more so when she moved out-of-state and had to stop going altogether.  
    Now, for the last ten years, we've not had to worry about things - we were both safe.  She wasn't with her ex anymore, she wasn't even in the same state as him anymore.  And I was no longer married to mine - not to say a lot of damage wasn't done to me either, but we had each other, our relationship was healthy and rich in communication.  We carried one another through just about everything.  The love is real, the support is unwavering; we have been each other's rock for the last decade.  But it did neither one of us any favors that her pre-relationship treatment was interrupted and she is now in need of some maintenance.  
    So - it's been tough.  Without getting into details, the EMDR has been intense and there has been some distance within our relationship.  It's not because of a shortage of love or support, but instead a culmination of work stress, therapy stress and the emotional side effects of it all.  J is the one struggling with this, firsthand, and I've had to assume the role of a secondary survivor on top of being a survivor, myself.  She's throwing herself into work and in turn, I'm throwing myself into my new role as a moderator here - she does her thing, I do my thing.  It's probably what we BOTH need the most right now...the time and space to sort through things on our own without the other's influence but it's resulting in feelings of disconnect that I've never experienced with her before, and I'm TRYING not to be so uneasy and unnerved by it.  
    It is not an easy thing for me to feel so disconnected from the one person who really and truly gets me, the one person I've COMPLETELY opened up to.  She continues to remind me that I NEED to branch out more - and damnit, I've been trying!  And the recent no-shows to my birthday celebration isn't helpful either, it's only shown me who I THOUGHT were reliable friends but turned out not to be.  
    So right now, I will continue to make it known that I am there for her when she needs or wants and at the same time, bite my tongue about what I'm feeling about it all.  I've already tried to explain it but we all know that verbal discussions in the moment are not my strong point.    We have made efforts to reconnect already; we have our date night 1x a week, bowling leagues 2x a week and most weekends but there is still an uncomfortable feeling of division looming.  I truly feel this is expected while she's dealing with issues in therapy and it's just temporary and HOPE that's the case, but am trying not to rock the boat any further by being overly vocal about things right now.
    Other than this, in the last two weeks, two mysterious bumps have appeared in the back of my head, both within inches of where my cochlear implant has been living for the last 16 years.  One feels like a pimple, it's an 'external type' of bump and it's been suggested that it's an ingrown hair.  I don't think that's the case, though, as I do buzz my hair every now and then but it has never been completely shaven.  I've tried popping it, I've tried letting the hot water run over it, it's still not gone away.  Earlier this week, I noticed a second bump, this one more 'internal' and bigger than a pimple.  It is located behind my ear, where my neck meets my scalp, maybe a slight bit higher.  THIS one feels like someone smacked me in the back of the head with a heavy object, it feels like a bruise, both to the touch and whenever I press on it.  I do not, however, recall injuring my head at any recent time.  I don't know what is going on and J's suggested that a visit to the doctor may be in order.  And yes, I had to pause before typing that - because I DO know that whenever one has foreign objects implanted in their body and starts to experience discomfort, it's always been imperative to get it checked out.  
    But, y'all know me, I'm terrible with doctors.  I'm deathly afraid of what this means - tests, tests and more tests.  Blood work.  CAT scans.  (I cannot undergo a MRI, that'll kill me since there is a magnet implanted in my brain!)  I just about lost my shit over the summer over having to have tests done at the GYN, and my mammogram test (and re-test) and this is probably mild in comparison.  But it's just not something I want to do, right now.  J herself has a follow-up scan scheduled for later this week to check on whether the radiation treatment she had in June was 100% effective.  So we really don't NEED any other possible medical emergencies, not right now.  And if I can wait things out for a few weeks, that's what I'm likely to do.  Especially since we have a vacation planned (our 10-year anniversary) for the beginning of January. 
    I want to reach for my swatter, and thwack all that is unnecessary into that state of oblivion - at least until much, MUCH later.  
    But now????  Right now???  It's CHRISTMAS time, I cannot fall apart right now, especially having to be the glue...
    But that's a summation of why I'm Scrooge-ish right now, why I put together the Holiday Buddies thingy (have you signed up!???), why I'm such a constant presence here - it is because offline, I've nowhere else to go for support other than to a place that may not be entirely accessible to me right now.  Next week, I have a visit from my mother to look forward to - Wednesday, she will arrive and she will depart early Friday morning - in the meantime, we've plans to bake five types of Christmas cookies (which I will gladly share by way of photo status updates!) and hopefully that'll help somewhat ease into the spirit of the season. 
    Anyway - posting this now - again, my apologies for being somewhat absent.  I am trying to be better with this - perhaps it's a good thing that I have an appointment on Friday morning with the group leader/social worker.  
    I'll be back, soon.   
    Sending you all love.
     - Capulet
  16. Capulet
    First of all, I’ve been told today (at this point, yesterday) is “National Kiss-A-Ginger” Day.  My orange haired cat got a big-ass helping of love earlier.  Luckily, the other four don’t really care whether they get extra kisses, they just want the Greenies.  
    Secondly, I know I talk an awful lot about my kids.  If you’re sick of hearing about them, you need not keep reading, because the majority of this blog entry has to do with my younger spawn.  
    At least, understand that my reasons for writing about them is simply because, well, they teach me things about myself.  The little things they do, the things they say, you name it.  Their experiences (the ones they tell me about) remind me of my own.  They made me who I am and in turn, I am STILL learning how to mold them into exceptional human beings that will have a far better life than I did, especially when it comes to school.
    I’ll start off with some news about the son, since there is less about him this week.  Yesterday, he took his road test.  And…he aced it.  Which means he is now a licensed driver.  
    Have I mentioned how terrified I am about this!?  I am sure I have.  I do have to admit that I am a step ahead of him, here.  He will NOT be borrowing my car to get to and from school until he speaks to someone about getting a parking permit so that he doesn’t get me a ticket for parking in the wrong place.  This would be a ticket that he wouldn’t have any money to pay, either.  So, I told him that until he gets that permit from the main office, he will not have car privileges.  I’d also prefer to wait until spring before I allow him to take my vehicle to school, which is 10 miles away from home, 10 miles of winding, narrow, mountainous roads.  Did I mention, ICY?  This winter has been wack-a-doo, to say the least and I’m not 100% confident in his driving skills, so I’m going to hope he takes his sweet time in getting the parking permit…  He takes his time with everything else, why not this, too!?
    So, that’s the son.  Moving onto my pre-teen...
    My daughter revealed to me earlier this week that one of her friends (one of the two girls who slept over at our house before the holidays) is no longer her friend.  They’re ‘in a fight,’ she says.  What the hell does that mean, anyway?  IN a fight?  Like, you're IN a pool, IN a car, IN a circus tent?  IN a fight?  I know, I've got teenagers but my son wasn't big on that kind of lingo, so I'm assuming she left out the words "the middle of" and she's simply saying she's in the middle of fighting with one of her ex-besties.  I’m sure there is drama (my favorite!) and that it will continue up until their graduation in 2020.  Then, perhaps spill over into their high school years until they realize they don’t remember what they were fighting about in sixth grade and they’ll kiss and make up.  (Or high-five, mind you…if she's anything like me, she wouldn’t dare open up THAT can of worms until at least, college!)
    Now, I was 11 years old once, so I know how the majority of 11-year-old girls are.  They are rotten, hormonal little shits with a bone to pick about every stinkin’ thing.  They’re loud, they’re rude and they ONLY care about themselves or their social status.  Every damn thing is a competition.  Who has better hair, who has better make-up?  Who’s got the cutest boyfriend (oh, horrors!!)?  Whose mother is the coolest?  
    (In my daughter’s case, she, hands-down, has the best mother.)  
    Or, do these little competitions start in high school?    
    But either way, my junior high days were nothing short of nightmarish and I often went home crying because of the cruelty of my classmates.  I was quiet, I minded my own business, I ate lunch alone, I read books, I wrote in my journals.  Whenever I tried to get involved in any group conversations or team sports in phys ed, they’d almost ALWAYS find something to pick on me for.  I didn’t follow conversations very well.  I didn’t run fast enough.  I misunderstood something, and they found it funny.  This, sadly, was a regular occurrence because of my poor hearing.  And, so, I kept to myself for most of the three years I was there.  I had a small handful of friends who were too smart to get sucked into the middle-school bullshit.  Unfortunately, though, none of these friends went to the same high school as I; we moved to another city the summer after my 8th grade graduation.  
    My daughter, though, is JUST like her father.  Not in the respect that she’s a difficult person to be around.  No…she has far more people and social skills than I ever did.  She probably STILL has a better chance of making a friend than I do.  She’s popular, ALWAYS face-timing one of her friends.  She’s got her phone in her hand CONSTANTLY, with the exception for the one week it took to get her phone repaired when she dropped it and cracked the screen.  For this, I’m happy for her - at least she’s having a better go at the whole middle-school thing than I ever did.  The wasband, too, was a leader more so than a follower, and no one crossed him.  She isn’t a fighter or a bully, but usually, she is surrounded by friends and is known to be a good kid, overall and everyone LOVES being around her. 
    So, she tells me that she and this girl are ‘in a fight.’  I ask her what happened.  Immediately, she clams up.  “Nothing,” she says.  “I don’t want to talk about it.”  
    Still, I pressed on.  And she refused to tell me.  This went on for fifteen minutes before she had to go to sleep.  I figured they’d be friends again before she even told me what they were fighting about, so I left it alone again.
    Now it’s Friday, and they are still at odds.
    Finally, I asked her if in any way, shape or form surrounding this ridiculous little fight, she was in the wrong.  She nodded her head and admitted that she had indeed done something wrong, but at the same time, so had her friend.
    “Well, you know, two wrongs do not equal a right,” I explained to her, “If you were wrong and you know you were in the wrong, then you’re responsible for owning up to whatever it was you did.”  She said she understood that, she would when she was ready, and she STILL didn’t want to discuss their quarrel.  And, so, I dropped it.  Apparently this was something they needed to figure out on their own.
    Okay, so this evening at the bowling alley, I had two different experiences that I’ll share with everyone.
    The first was with a woman on the opposing team.  When I tell you this woman was the biggest whiner I’ve ever met since moving here, I’m NOT kidding.  There is a gal on my Monday night league, who loathes J because her high score bested hers. J is the new lady, the outsider…and she single handedly beat this lady's 3-game series and high game one week and since then, has been in the number one slot.  I must say I am very proud of my fiancee, she’s turned out to be quite the bowler.  Monday Night chick though, is NOT happy and we get a lot of eye-rolling whenever J is on a roll.  No pun intended.  This lady I’m going to tell you about, though, is far more immature than most five-year-olds I know.
    During our 10-minute practice before league play began, the pinsetters were malfunctioning.  A first ball would be thrown and if there were any pins left standing, the pinsetter would knock them down instead of picking them up and clearing the excess fallen pins before putting them back down for a spare attempt.  This happened several times before we let management know about the problem and we got a late start because their repair person took a few minutes to fix the malfunctioning pinsetter.  
    Well, it was MOSTLY fixed.  
    The first problem occurred in game 1.  The woman on the other team, let’s call her Whiner, just for the heck of it, throws the ball down the middle.  She leaves the five pin standing.  My entire team and I saw the pin was still standing when the pinsetter came down and knocked it down, tricking the machine into thinking that Whiner had thrown a strike.  An ‘X’ appeared onto Whiner’s score.  She was giddy, thinking that we wouldn’t care enough to go and ask for the five pin (the one in the middle) to be put back up since it wasn’t knocked down by her ball in the first place, but by the machine in error.  She threw a hissy fit, called my entire team ‘cheaters’ because the machine clearly said that it was a strike, and here we were, saying otherwise.  J and the rest of my teammates were sitting there in disbelief while she carried on and on and ON about that terrible injustice done to her.  She even went to the front desk and complained to the poor guy who managed the alley.  He, too, had to tell her that occasionally, the machines make mistakes and that scores sometimes have to be changed due to those errors.  Then he looked at us and shook his head.  Apparently this was a crazy he’d gotten used to over the last few weeks.
    She huffed and puffed, and then loudly announced that she was going out for a smoke and taking her ‘sweet-ass’ time and ‘didn’t give a shit’ who was waiting for her.  Unfortunately for her, by making US wait, she was also holding up her own team.  Her husband at one point was telling her to knock it off.  Then, she threw a legit strike and nastily hollered in our direction, “should we put the five pin back up again?”  
    We just looked at each other and rolled our eyes.  I wanted to rip off my bowling glove and tell her that we weren’t going to have that bullshit, weren’t going to stand for being called cheaters.  We were honest, we all saw that pin still standing.  It wasn’t our fault that she’d turned around and was walking back before the pinsetters came down and she hadn’t seen the machine break.  Was this woman serious!?  I mean, this woman was in her fifties, maybe early sixties.  She was acting like a damned child and making a fool of herself at the same time.  We were there to bowl and have a good time, and here was this psychopath running her mouth and saying we were cheating, even when the broken pinsetter continued to break down numerous times after that whole episode.  To say I wanted to punch her in the face is an understatement, but I don’t think I’d last very long in prison, so I kept my glove on, my hands to myself and my mouth shut.  
    I can’t...I just can’t with this lady, though. 
    The second experience involved my daughter.  She accompanies J and I on Friday nights to our bowling league.  The bowling alley has a nice little arcade and she usually meets up with some friends from school, tonight being no different.  First, a different friend was there and hung out with her until the end of the evening rolls around and the friend she’s currently ‘in a fight’ with, shows up.  The first friend who had been hanging out with my daughter, subsequently drops her like a hot potato and goes to hang out with the little shit she’s bickering with.  The lanes we were assigned tonight were literally right next to the arcade, so I had a view of her the entire time.
    At one point, she was sitting by herself next to the air-hockey table.  The friend she’d been hanging out with for the last hour and change, was now standing on the opposite side of the arcade, with the ‘frenemy.’  They were chatting about likely everything and nothing, and my daughter looked bummed out in general.
    Deja-vu hit me then.  I flashed back to when that was ME, standing alone, because kids were too cruel to consider how I might feel.  Then there were the other two, kinda rubbing it in her face, eating ice cream and not speaking to her or including her in their conversations.  My heart broke a little bit.  (Okay, a lot.)  I wanted to smack some sense into the kid she’d been hanging with before the other one’s arrival; that was flat-leaving and I wasn’t cool with it.  It’d happened to me too many times when I was a kid…they’d hang out with me only if there was no one better, but when their real friends arrived, I was a thing of the past.  
    That shit hurts.  BIG time.  I could tell that my daughter wasn’t enjoying her alone time, but she was trying.  She was playing with her iPad and doing a pretty good job of ignoring the other two.  And the other two were giggling and having a great time.  
    Oh, hell no.  My maternal instincts were SCREAMING.  WHY am I not doing something?  Why am I not getting involved?  Why do I not have my daughter’s back, here?  How do I even do so?
    But at the risk of further mortifying my daughter and wrecking her social status and jeopardizing my cool mom status, I did nothing, even though in an alternate reality, I would have LOVED to travel back in time and have my 11-year-old self punch them in the face, too, because this was all too familiar to me.  We were almost finished when I noticed she was alone, so it would not have made any sense to say anything, as much as I wanted to.  Once our balls were packed and our jackets were on, I called her and let her know we were leaving.  
    She came out of the arcade with a grin on her face.  In the car on the way home, she told J and I that she HAD made an attempt to apologize for her part in the ‘fight.’  She said she verbally apologized and when she was ignored, she sent a long text to the other girl, and in turn, her nemesis ‘blocked’ her phone number.  Then she referred to the ‘first’ friend as a “fake” friend, for having left her high and dry upon the arrival of the other kid.  I told her that I had noticed that too, and that it was NOT cool in any way.  She should never do that to another person. It’s just a damn shame that she’d experienced it first-hand, but I guess it’s all a part of growing up.  Is THAT where the term ‘growing pains’ comes from?  Wouldn’t surprise me.
    I told her I was sorry to hear that her friends (and I was referring to both girls at this point) were ‘fake,’ stuck up and rude, but was proud of her for owning up to her contribution to the whole situation.  I then told her that the ball was now in her ex-friend’s court and that it was now up to her to make the next move.  My daughter claims she doesn’t care and that she isn’t bothered by any of it, but I know better.  
    See, she is big-hearted and sensitive.  Yes, she is a headstrong and pigheaded pain in the ass at times but she is also someone I have raised to always, ALWAYS think back on her actions and if she’s wrong, she’s responsible for admitting to it and then freeing her own conscience.  She needs to ask herself if she did the best she could to rectify a situation.  What she does with that information is entirely up to her and I’ve always told her that she can confide in me about anything, whether she is right or wrong.  In this particular case, she didn’t want to talk about what she’d done, but judging by the behavior I’d seen the two girls display, I sincerely don’t care if they’re ever friends again.  If they are, great, because I DO think that a small part of her cares more than she’d like to admit.  If not….oh, well.  Still, it's a loss she'll feel more than I, and that's not something I want her to experience, so young in life and over something undoubtedly petty and silly.
    I have to admit, she eventually made me think about the Whiner as well as this 11-year-old brat my daughter once considered to be a friend.  I think it’s amazing how she and I both had to handle ourselves in two unrelated situations this evening and ultimately, we both learned something new tonight.  I'm not sure how to put into words what I learned, other than some people never grow up and it's better to allow them to make an ass out of themselves than to put myself in a bad situation by losing my own shit.  She, though, learned an important lesson.
    She understands that we're simply not responsible for how other people act.  We're accountable only for our own behavior and how we handle any form of conflict.  Punching other people in the face, although tempting, is never the answer, as that's likely to land us in jail facing assault charges.  As we go through life, we're going to be repeatedly upset or offended by the words and actions of others.  Learning how to handle such situations is important, for the people we keep around us in the long run end up being the people who are also well-learned in the same form of mature conflict resolution.  
    I guess it takes some people longer than others, though.  I'm truly proud of my kid, though; she's certainly better at it than I was at her age.  My mother NEVER talked about these things with me, so I was ill-equipped to deal with any form of confrontation and as a result, a very weak child.  So, mission accomplished, on that. ;)
    I am now going to extend the "National-Kiss-A-Ginger" Day and give my boy some more love before I hit the hay.  That is, if I can find him.
    Til next time.
    - Capulet
  17. Capulet
    Can someone explain to me what the appeal is of a frozen breakfast sandwich?
    I'm not even talking Jimmy Dean.  I'm talking the Walmart brand.  Frozen.  $3.89 for a box of four sandwiches.  They're about a thousand calories each and are no bigger than a plum, plus the eggs are questionable as to whether they're real or just pretend eggs.  There's a sausage patty, also questionable as to whether they're made of mystery meat or real pork, which would surprise me.  
    My kids LOVE these things. And because getting them up in the mornings for school is a process that leaves very little time for healthy breakfasts, they'll usually grab one of these Walmart brand Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuits on their way out the door.  
    Once in a while, when I shop at Walmart (yes, if you've seen weird people at Walmart recently, you may have seen me...especially perusing the holiday clearances)...I will seek out such quickie meals for the kids, so that they have something in their bellies before school.  They will usually skip lunch (daughter more so than son, since he has half-day every day and will opt for lunch at home) simply because they don't find the school meals appetizing in any way.  I suppose I can't blame them there; MY middle-school cafeteria cook used to serve us slop that looked akin to vomit on a styrofoam tray.
    THIS morning, though, my two were arguing over who was going to eat the last "fake" breakfast sandwich.  She claims that he ate the last one on a day that there was only one left...(you do the math, two kids, four sandwiches in the box, two sandwiches per day = breakfast on Thursday and Friday mornings)...not sure how it got lopsided - perhaps because on occasion even the microwaveable breakfast didn't sound appeasing to one of them, but this particular morning, there was only one sandwich left in the freezer.  And he, before she could go looking for it, ate it.  In like, two big 17-year-old size chomps, it was gone.
    Swear to God, you would have thought he ate a filet mignon that she'd saved her allowance for months to buy....she lost her shit.  She went on for about thirty minutes before school about how much she couldn't stand her brother.  There might have been tears.  Some foot-stomping.  Some choice words screamed at his back when she thought I wasn't paying attention.  I vaguely remember shaking my head mumbling something about how the sandwich was now down my son's gullet and there was NOTHING that could be done, so I was going to walk away and drop the issue.  Along with making a mental note to buy more of those fucking sandwiches next time I went to Walmart.
    Fast-forward to last night - I was putting some groceries away and found the same thing I found that other morning.  A LONE SANDWICH.  A result of one morning when he'd come upstairs and fallen back asleep on the couch and hadn't eaten his breakfast.  (There, that's how it got lopsided...)
    So...there's a sandwich, wrapped in the clear cellophane.  I couldn't cover it with a package of chicken breasts fast enough.  She doesn't pay attention to much, nowadays.  She's 11.  But she saw that sandwich, clear as day.
    "DIBS!" She screeches.  "That's MY sandwich!  He ate the last one!"  Couldn't even tell her she was wrong about that, but I accepted that the sandwich was called for, and that I would guard that sandwich for her.
    Fast-forward to this morning.  Snow day!  No school.  Both kids came out of their rooms at just about noon - well rested and hungry.  She decided to have a can of Boyardee (another quickie meal that we really shouldn't keep buying) and when he finally came upstairs, he went straight to the freezer and lo and behold, spied the sandwich that his sister had called dibs on.  He reached in, thinking he'd struck gold.  
    It was like slo-mo.  
    Her eyes got wide.  
    MY eyes got wide.
    It was time to prevent a war.  Because if he would have gotten as far as opening that cellophane wrapper, there WOULD have been bloodshed. 
    "Yoursister'sbeensavingthat." I said to him, real quick.  
    "Whut?" The clueless teenage look we all know so well.
    "Your. sister. has. been. saving. that," I say again, holding my hand out.  "Surrender the sandwich."
    "Why can't I have it?" he wasn't seeing his sister about to scale the kitchen table and go ape-shit on him.  And just picture this, her lips saturated in Boyardee sauce, hair wild, eyes wide.  It wasn't pretty.
    "Because she's been saving it and she called dibs on it last night."
    He rolls his eyes.  Sandwich lands into my outstretched palm.  Crisis averted.  For now.
    Time to go to Walmart.  But I need the heat wave, first.  20's, I can deal with.  Negative temps are NO BUENO!  
    Hope y'all are staying warm.  
    - Capulet
  18. Capulet
    Hey, guys!  Me, again.  Did you miss me? 
    So...here's a question.  
    Have you ever gone on the same drive a million times?  It's usually something as simple as dropping a kid off at school or running to the store for a gallon of milk.  You know, it's a routine at this point...you take the same route, you know where to turn, you've nicknamed the landmarks/street signs/other distinguishing areas surrounding you so that while you navigate and drive, you can kind of 'reserve' some of your attention to scenery or to whatever else is on your mind.  Yes, you're behind the wheel, so you're actually paying attention but at the same time, you've gone into a sort of autopilot mode?  You get to your destination (store, pick up kid, bowling alley, etc) and snap back into reality, "gee, that was quick."  And then you also wonder how you got there in one piece without REALLY paying attention.
    That's been happening a lot, lately.  Especially since moving from city surroundings into the country.  There's just less traffic on the road, so I find it far easier to zone off into space while I drive.  
    What do I think about?  I don't even know.  Everything and nothing.  
    Like, the Son brought home his cap and gown on Friday last week.  That just makes me feel even older than I am.  I think about how I'm going to have to plan a party for him for both his graduation and his birthday, how I've got to soon deal with the pains in my ass that are my family and wonder what kind and what amount of drama I'm going to be faced with in the near future.  I ponder the daughter's continuing childish behavior; and of course, remind myself to check for feathers if she's recently been unsupervised.  I think about the bills, how we need to build back up our bank account some now that taxes were just due.  These little things come to mind when I'm in autopilot mode, I'm feeling my eyes get fuzzy, I'm yawning...I get the shit scared out of me when I run over the grooves in the road, because I'm so deep in thought sometimes. 
    And today, I almost drifted off to sleep on my way home from the store!
    We can blame it on the Mets, if we want.  They just finished playing the Padres in San Diego, so two games started at 10pm this past week.  But that's likely not going to hold, especially if you know what time I actually DO go to sleep on any normal night.  And J knows that I went to sleep an hour or two AFTER those games ended, because that was simply closer to my 'normal' bedtime, which is now between two and three in the morning. 
    *note the time of this blog's posting.  See what I mean?  
    I suppose I should eventually try and get to the bottom of my sleep disorder.  I think it's safe to call it a disorder at this point because it's simply not normal.  I can't say my sleep patterns have ever been normal.  
    Some of you already know about my (ridiculous) sensitivity to light.  I can also say many are amused by it because, well, it kind of IS funny when you think about it.  Me, covering up all the lights, or first getting comfortable in bed, only to whip the covers off and grab a stray t-shirt to cover that damn blinking light on the cable box, because I'll NOT be able to sleep unless I can't see that pesky little green light!  If it's not the cable box, it's J's phone - she sometimes wakes up in the morning and finds her cell phone covered with a sock. (There's only so much I can see in the dark so while rummaging around her side of the bed, that's usually what I come up with...so I apologize to my sweetheart if her phone ever mysteriously smells like feet in the morning...)
    That light  sensitivity BS started in childhood.  I would literally NOT sleep if one of my sisters needed a night light.  Or there was a hallway light on that I could see from underneath a closed door.  Nope.  Until that hallway light was turned off, I would feel as if I were underneath a spotlight.  If I could see anything in the room because of these little tiny (LED lights on phone, cable/tv lights) sources of illumination, then I think I knew they could also see me.  Now, I don't know how much sense this makes, because really, how is being able to see me sleep a threat?  It's something I never really put too much thought into.  I'm REALLY thinking, though, that the possible CSA I experienced (and don't remember) has added to the mystery surrounding my sleep, or lack of.
    I also used to sleepwalk as a child.  This began at age eight or nine and continued until I started high school.  Thankfully, it wasn't a frequent occurrence.  My parents witnessed it a few times, and I am sure that there were times when they, along with the rest of my family was unaware.  I remember wondering why I was "on the other side" of my bed when I'd wake up in the morning.  (I'd go to sleep with my head on my pillow and wake up with my feet on my pillow.  The pillow never moved, but I certainly did.)  Back then, though, during my high school years, I used to go to sleep during 'normal' hours; I'd bring myself up to bed at 10pm and sleep until morning with few issues.  I even recall sleepwalking when I was a teenager, but cannot recall any other incidents past the age of fifteen or sixteen.  
    I should add that upon reading up on somnambulism a bit on Wikipedia, I've also discovered I have RLS (restless leg syndrome)...I didn't know there was a name for that!  In order to go to sleep, or FALL asleep, in addition to the need for pitch blackness, I also have to be moving my leg/foot.  One leg is almost always dangling off the side of the bed and it's moving all the way up to the point until sleep finally consumes me.  
    Good God, I'm a hot mess, ain't I?
    And I'm a very, very lucky woman, because I've been sharing a bed for almost half of my life.  Thankfully, the wasband and J both sleep like logs and my sleepwalking, talking, shaking, whatever the hell else I'm doing whenever I'm supposed to be sleeping, had/has no effect on their rest.
    I'd later add to my growing list of sleep issues when I started college.  After being sexually assaulted (and yes, there I go again with the sugar-coated version of what happened to me in 1996...twenty-one years later,  the four-letter word beginning with 'R,' still makes me cringe.)  I had horrible nightmares whenever I slept too deeply, I felt unsafe while sleeping.  I suppose this part makes sense - when I'm sleeping, I'm not able to hear anything, not able to see anything (thanks to my issues with lights) and therefore, I felt even more powerless and less willing to just let myself sleep soundly.  I mean, how dare I sleep, when this would force me to relinquish any and all control over my body?  Yes, unfortunately, that was my mindset back then.  I avoided sleep by way of caffeinated drinks, sugary snacks and late-night computer sessions.  I think it's also safe to say this was when I got my 'autopilot's license.'  I zoned out during class and traveling through the campus from one class to another, driving back and forth to school, I stared and stared while sitting alone in the cafeteria or I was at home in the safety of my room - it didn't matter where I was, I'd always, ALWAYS find myself slowly losing focus, losing myself.  I'd also find myself "fuzzing" during regular day-to-day interactions with the small amount of friends I had.
    Then of course, I had a baby at 21.  When the wasband and I welcomed the Son, I was already used to functioning on less than four hours' sleep per night.  So, when my son was a colicky baby that didn't cooperate nor sleep when I wanted him to, forcing me to sit in the rocker with him until he did go back to sleep, I whittled my amount of rest down to 2-3 hours per night.  I eventually would crash from exhaustion, and once my demon child started sleeping through the night, I slowly got back up to four or five.  
    That all being said, let's fast-forward to me, now, my present self STILL has self-diagnosed insomnia.
    This is what I don't get, mainly.  I'm in a decent frame of mind.  I no longer fear sleep.  I'm not sure if 'fear' is the correct word, as over the years my attitude toward sleep has evolved.  On occasion and when I'm nothing short of burnt out, I find myself welcoming it.  Maybe it was fear in the beginning, which is certainly understandable and justified.  That was when I avoided sleep at all costs, I would tell myself I wasn't tired when deep down, I knew I was full of shit.  Today, I'm an adult, I'm raising two children, keeping up a house, running errands daily, and I certainly get tired.  I'm exhausted at midnight, yet, I don't retreat underneath the covers until two or three in the morning.  
    Explain that to me?!  Because I sure as hell can't explain this to myself!
    Sometimes I need the help of my trusty bottle of NyQuil; this will eventually steer me to the bed, especially on nights that I feel the most restless.  Like I would when I was a teenager and a young Mom, I still eventually crash - and when I do, I'll sleep all day if no one wakes me.  I take less than the normal dose - just a little swig to get my eyes fluttering.  That usually works.  I don't like feeling like a zombie in the morning, though.  
    But, anyway.  Like most of my other life questions, the answers will present themselves when it's time.  I know I need to learn how to just allow myself to adapt to healthier sleep habits, but I also have to work on my patience.  With myself and with life, because these so-called answers simply don't reveal themselves overnight. (See what I did, there?)
    Oh - before I go - today was scale day!  (You didn't think I forgot to update you all, did you?)
    I lost just a slight bit under a pound today.  I am now over 25 pounds smaller than I was when I started.  Yay, me!  As for the scale, it gets to live a little bit longer.  What did I do differently this week?  Had a glass of wine with a friend that I hadn't seen in years.  She brought a local sangria that we used to love throwing back together back in the day - she was passing through my area to get to an Expo and swung by on her way home.  We had pizza and wine and while I am sure I could have drank more, I stopped at one full glass.  Believe it or not, wine has points!  And then on Sunday, the Son prepared dual briskets for everyone at his father's house and invited me to dinner.  
    That's right, the wasband and I did SOMETHING right - I do think it's because the wasband (as lazy as he is and in attempts to relieve his miserable wife of extra household responsibilities) often places cooking responsibilities onto our son, but the result is a favorable one.  While the wasband and his wife were gone all day on Sunday, my seventeen-year-old chef-in-training seasoned and prepared via barbecue/smoker two beef briskets that were absolutely delicious and ready when they got home.  They sliced them thin and put them between two slices of extremely bready Italian, topped with coleslaw and pickles.  I skipped the pickles and coleslaw as well as the bread and enjoyed my son's meal with a knife and fork.  
    So - onwards to the next 25!  As always, will keep you all informed.  (whether you like it or not!)
    Hope everyone is doing as well as can be!  Will update again, soon.  My best to you all - and as always, thank you for reading.

    - Capulet
  19. Capulet
    I was walking the dog in the front yard yesterday afternoon.  
    The Daughter, who's been attending school remotely 3x per week (the other two days, she is IN the actual brick-and-mortar school) came out and said she was finished with her last class (it was about 2:45pm) and in a sing-songy voice, she says, "it's the weeeeeeeeekend!"
    I suppose it is.  TGIF? At the time I started writing this, it was still Friday.
    She then tilted her head towards the heavens, and smiled.  "I can smell it."
    I looked at the dog.  Had he taken a shit and she'd stepped in it?  
    Negative.  No dog shit.  
    I sniffed.  Maybe a neighbor was barbecuing?  Maybe someone had a fire pit going?  The smell of burning wood IS one that I like - but nope.  I smelled nothing.  Nothing at all.  If not for me smelling the dog's ACTUAL poop that morning, I'd have started sniffing everything that was possible to sniff - just to make sure that I wasn't sick - during the wifey's and my COVID experience in April, we'd both lost our sense of smell for nearly a week.  When I was certain I'd smelled SOMETHING recently (perhaps the dog shit from that morning?) I turned to my daughter.
    "OK, what do you smell?" I finally asked her.
    "Fall!"  She said, "I smell it.  It's coming.  It's in the air!"
    I gave a short nod.  "Oh."
    Y'all know I hate the fall.  My daughter, unfortunately, does not.  And why not?  She's a teenager, she hates everything else!  She hates school, she hates homework, she hates certain people on certain days of the week.  Why couldn't she hate the Fall, too?  All the colors changing, the cooler nights, the hoodie weather, the being-able-to-be-outside-without-underboob-sweat?  If I'm being honest, these are actually nice things, the scenery is breathtaking, the hoodies are for SURE my go-to when there's that not-too-cold chill in the air - they get me through the  'regular' winters (to this day, I don't own a winter coat) and it's the season for pumpkin-spiced everything.  Nothing screams "FALL" louder than the arrival of such a delightful flavor.  And damn it, I DO like the pumpkin spice - it's just not available until...well, now.  
    And, damn it, this kid got my brain wheels turning.  AS SOON AS SHE SAID THAT.  And it wasn't the nice things I was thinking about, either.  
    I handed her the dog's leash and told her to see if she could get him to poop.  Rationally, I already know that we are transitioning out of summer and into what comes next.  The same thing that 'came next' for the last twenty-four years.  That almost-automatic foreboding feeling, though - was starting to sink in.  I'd be lying if I said it started right then at that moment - but, no.  I'd already noticed the shorter and cooler evenings, the frosty breaths while the dog goes out for the last time before bed.  We are still green as far as leaves go, but the signs are all there.  Halloween candy has appeared on the store shelves.  The 'limited edition' scents are being released - Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin this, Pumpkin that, Apple-Pumpkin, Roasted Marshmallow, you name it, Bath and Body Works probably has a sickening amount of it in overstock.
    I can't explain this feeling, though.  I know, though, that I don't have to.  You all get it.  I'm not by any means 'cured.'  I still remember my trauma (at least, the 1996 one) as if it were only yesterday.  While the nightmares and flashbacks very rarely occur anymore, there is still somewhat of a cloud that rolls in around this time of year, and just....stays in place for a few weeks.  I'm more on edge, I'm easily annoyed and irritated, I'm snappy.  My sleeping habits go from weird to weirder. I spend a good amount of time internalizing and playing the avoidance game - having a ton of schoolwork does admittedly help keep me focused on ANYTHING BUT my thoughts.  
    Not sure if all of that is good or bad, but like all else, it'll have to run its course.   
    Tonight's journal entry will be a short one and was intended to be one, also.  I just wanted to share the 'ugh' feeling that is settling in for a visit.  I certainly hope this year's 'fall season' is a brief one and I can get to complaining about the snow...
    Wishing everyone a good rest of the weekend!
    - Cap
  20. Capulet
    Hello, all.
    Did you all enjoy NOT hearing about my schoolwork?  I hope so, because I HAVE enjoyed not bitching about certain classes and papers that I really didn't want to write.  Of course, these were for the 'required' classes not pertaining to my social work major and it would only be natural for me to complain about those.  I will say though, that when I return to campus in a couple weeks, I'll be TRYING to refrain from giving my (former) Government professor a glare for giving me the only B grade of my last semester - it was a damned B-PLUS, he couldn't have let me have the A-minus????  Hmmmph.  
    I promise, although this blog has SOME (really, just a little bit) to do with what I'll be taking in my spring semester, it's going to be more focused on a bigger problem I'm noticing and realizing that we have in today's world.  Perhaps this is the main reason for me not being able to, for the life of me, come up with a good title for this blog entry.  It's just...something has been on my mind for the last couple of days, and it's really messing with my ability to come up with something more inviting to put down as a title.  What I'm about to discuss has left me mentally speechless in some ways.  I'll try to make as much sense as possible, though, so, bear with me, please.
    My Intro to Child Welfare class's (the one 8am class that I have this semester) syllabus was released over the weekend.  Now, you'd think that since I still have just under two weeks' vacation remaining, I'd only glance at it and get an idea of what textbooks I'll need, or that I'd MAYBE get a head start on some of the reading, but no.  I've already read through the instructions for the two papers that I'll be expected to write, and it's already been (jokingly, but sadly, also accurately) suggested that I might be FINISHED with these papers before the class even starts on the 21st.  (Go ahead and chuckle. I did.)  
    Anyway, my Child Welfare professor has already released all of the supplemental readings needed - the articles that we won't be finding in our textbooks and that we'll be discussing in class.  I opened up the document and started reading.  It was a compilation of child abuse cases that, sad to say, did not yield a happy ending for the dozen or so children written about.  The articles are nothing short of heartbreaking, and his intent, I want to say, is to demonstrate that there are cases that do indeed fall through the cracks, and that there are certainly flaws in the child welfare system, and there have been, for a very, VERY long time.  There have been WAY too many losses, and WAY too many children have fallen victim to it.  The system is in dire need of rectifying, but this is truly a process and requires for a LOT of corrections along the way, re-writing of policies and all of that fun stuff I'm still only beginning to learn about.
    One story in particular, I remember very clearly from 1987 - I was eight, at the time.  The story of little Lisa Steinberg, a six-year-old forever-angel who was beaten into a coma by her (illegally!) adoptive father, Joel Steinberg, who was at the time, a defense attorney.  In a rage, he beat Lisa to a bloodied pulp, to include dealing a traumatic blow to her head, and left her bleeding and bruised and alone before going to some kind of social event. Steinberg's common law wife, Hedda Nussbaum, found Lisa unresponsive, but alive, the NEXT FUCKING MORNING, and called 911.  Nussbaum claimed she was also abused regularly by Joel, and that her crime was neglecting to report the abuse of Lisa, who, after this particular beating, was in a coma for three days before being taken off life support.  Fifteen minutes after being disconnected, Lisa gained her wings, and the only consolation to the millions who would grieve a child they'd never met, was that her suffering had ended.  
    This was one of the nation's WORST cases of child abuse.  It was a MAJOR news story that I remember watching, seeing the headlines and even crying for Lisa, who was only a couple years younger than me.  Just a little girl, just like me.  And her father had killed her.  I was able to identify the piece-of-shit's face without seeing his name - as soon as I read about what he'd done, his face was permanently etched into memory.  I remember being more appreciative of MY father, who had NEVER raised a hand to me in anger.  I remember thinking, this never happened to me - I wasn't abused.  LISA was abused.  Child abuse meant beatings, it meant being forced to eat their own feces, it meant being locked in closets, it meant being tied to radiators, it meant starvation.  It meant one or both of the child's parents had harmed them terribly, and had put them either in the hospital or in coffins.  This wasn't something I'd experienced, so I felt, for lack of a better explanation, unable to fully empathize with Lisa and what she might have gone through at the hands of her adoptive parents.  There was always a sadness in me, though, from when I first heard her tragic story - perhaps I understood her pain in a different way, but at the time, I couldn't make any connections. 
    (I'm gonna come back to this....because now there's another thought forming....just wanna finish up on this, first...)
    A lot of time has gone by.  Eventually little Lisa's story had faded, but I'd never forgotten about this little girl - ever.  And when I opened this article and saw Joel Steinberg's monstrous face, along with his wife's negligent bit*h-face, (I'm sorry, she's just as guilty as he, if you ask me - she testified against her husband, I think, mainly so she could avoid severe punishment for her negligence!) it all came flooding back. I probed deeper, and did more reading (on my own) on this case - to refresh my memory.  In doing so, I learned that Steinberg was released from prison in the early 2000's and is now a free man, living in New York City.  What the fuck?????  HOW does a monster like this survive a stint in prison after murdering a little girl??  HOW has he not been knifed down in the middle of Times Square?  HOW?  I know this was a lifetime ago.  People forget, people probably WANTED to forget, and as soon as he was put away, (for 29 years?  Does that even seem fair?) they considered justice for Lisa served.  Life went on, more and different horror stories have emerged, and that face I'd memorized - became DIFFERENT faces.  I also have to consider that the Lisa Steinberg case is probably one that most of my classmates don't remember, as it occurred long before any of them were born.  I remember it, though, and I remember Lisa.  It is my hope, though, that when my classmates hear her story for the first time, that they, too, recognize just HOW flawed the child welfare system is - just HOW unnecessary it was for these beautiful children to die, and that we're just going to have to do better, to keep MORE children from being hurt or worse.
    And now the other thought...I did tell you I'd get to it....
    When I was still young, (maybe 10ish?) I remember the Oompa watching One Life to Live.  I may be wrong on the name, but I knew that it was a cheesy soap that, I think, is still being aired today, despite said cheesiness.  For some reason, I was home from school - and was sitting in the living room with my mother while she watched her soap.
    There was a rape - on the show.  I remember the man pinning the woman to the bed, and the woman fighting him.  The man also struck her a couple of times.  I asked my mother what was happening, and she said, 'he raped her.'  
    "What does that mean?" I asked her.
    "It means the man forced the woman to have sex with him."
    "Oh," I said.  I probably went back to whatever I was doing, but do recall that graphic scene on television bothering me.  Not to the point where it was triggering anything, but it is something I STILL remember.  Perhaps it is because I'd have an experience a few years later and I'd mentally come back to it, but, who knows?
    That was the day that I learned what rape was, by my mother's definition.  Granted, I don't think a child my age would have been able to handle elaboration on what ELSE rape was, but for the moment, I knew what it looked like.  I was able to recognize my own sexual assault at 17 as a rape - based on my mother's definition.  The man who did this to me - forced me to have sex with him.  It wasn't verbatim with what happened on the soap opera, but it involved force and it involved violence.  My own situation - there was no question about.  My perpetrator hit me, pinned me and I fought for as long as I was able to.  He had sex with me, and I didn't want it or ask for it or give my permission.  That was rape.  There was no question in my mind about that.
    Following so far...?
    Ok, good.  Moving on.  
    I now had my definitions of what child abuse and what rape were, without expanded understanding of the more serious, the more silent/unseen and potentially, the more deadly forms of both abuses.  It's the same with Domestic Violence.  I'd always thought that it meant one spouse was physically abusing the other - and gave no second thought to the gaslighting, the mental, the verbal and the emotional abuse my own husband was dishing out - that, I thought was because I was a miserable wife, I was too damaged to be what he wanted me to be.  I wasn't even considering that one isolated incident during the end-stages of our marriage, when divorce was already in progress, when he'd had sex with me AFTER my telling him that our physical relationship was over.  In my mind, it was more helpful to consider it a 'last hurrah,' and that we WERE still legally married at the time, so....what's one more time with the father of my children?  This wasn't rape - it didn't happen like it did in the soap opera, it didn't happen like it did when I was 17.  This didn't count.
    But....guess what?
    Yes, it does.  It counts.  
    And even though I was never beaten by my parents, there was still child abuse...there was abuse by someone else, and potentially my mother's relationship with denial, that left no visible marks.  There was abuse of my mind, also leaving no marks visible to the naked eye.  At least, nothing ever was confirmed, on account of my having no memory of anything that could be submitted as evidence that it was truly CSA that happened to me.  The CSA, I felt existed solely because of my behaviors as a child - a child who wasn't exposed to sex or sexual activity at a young age likely would NOT have behaved in the same way.  There is plenty written about my story in previous blog entries, so if you'd like elaboration on this or on the rest of it, feel free to look for the blog entry titled "Installment One: The Formative Years.'  
    Even though there were no beatings from my husband, there was still domestic violence.  I was still afraid of him, but not because of what he would physically do - more so what he'd say, how he'd manage to make me feel two inches tall using just his words.  I'm no longer married to him and no longer live with him, but he STILL holds an element of power and control over me, where he needs only make one statement, and over and over again, the things I want to and have said, are reduced to mere whispers that no one can hear over his higher-than-thou opinion.  He's always right, I'm always wrong, even though we're not having to make joint decisions on things having nothing to do with the kids we share.
    Friends - we as a society, are in trouble.  If 'trouble' isn't the best word, then at the very least, we have a very serious problem.  I told myself a long time ago, (okay, it was perhaps not that long ago, as my own realizations manifested and sunk in only a few short years ago) that I wouldn't lie to myself anymore, and that I was going to do the best I could in encouraging others to not discount, dismiss or make light of any of their experiences, because - they all count.  ANYTHING that has made us feel badly about ourselves - counts.   
    We MUST take a few minutes to re-define what all is involved in this trifecta of abuses.  Every day, there are survivors questioning themselves and their experiences, even invalidating themselves when it's, in all honesty, not fair to themselves to be doing so. Perhaps you've also been told what something was - your definitions were obtained without elaboration on what ELSE it could pass for, and you've had to take someone's word for what child abuse, sexual abuse, or domestic violence truly was.  It leaves WAY too much room for misinterpretation and self-doubt and that is, I believe, what makes it MORE tragic.
    Maybe our abusers, themselves, forced a definition onto us from an early age?  (For example, CSA doesn't always physically hurt - sometimes it doesn't go beyond fondling and inappropriate touch, and this child might have been told 'if I'm not hurting you, how can this be bad?,' or 'this is how I show you love.')  
    See what a clusterfuck that can cause in one's mind???  And furthermore, what damage it can continue to do, should we allow ourselves to believe the definitions that others want us to believe?
    Rape isn't always violent.  Sometimes it's silent, sometimes the word 'no' is NOT even uttered.  Sometimes it's done as a result of coercion, so that one doesn't have to deal with confrontation or with making their assailant angry or hurt their feelings.  Oftentimes, rape is committed because we simply don't fight it....and for whatever reason we choose not to fight, we MUST know that there was a deep, meaningful, VALID reason for it and that it doesn't, in any way, make it okay!  If it wasn't wanted, if it wasn't one THOUSAND percent agreed to with an emphatic 'YES,' then it was wrong.  And, this is a new one for me - but even within a marriage, mutual consent should always be given.  If crystal clear, conscious, SOBER consent was not given, we should ALL be allowed to consider that it was the wrong thing.  PLEASE remember all of this.  PLEASE expand your definitions, friends, because your feelings DO MATTER.  
    CSA doesn't always hurt.  Child abuse goes beyond beatings or starvings.  We can't always see child abuse, whether we've experienced it ourselves and suffered no physical pain - or we know someone else who has experienced it.  The system continues to fail SO many beautiful, innocent, PERFECT children.  Consider the ways the system has failed YOU - because it has.  It's failed me, too.  I'm sorry to all of my friends who were failed as children - this, I understand all too well.  Tell yourselves that it doesn't necessarily have to hurt, and that this was NOT love, even though someone you trusted may have told you otherwise.  That's a truth you deserve to know, too, and a truth you're ALLOWED to recognize and adopt as your own.
    And how about that wife whose husband tells her (you may place me in this category) that if she's not having the shit beat out of her on a regular basis, then she has no reason to complain?  She has everything she needs - a roof over her head, a spouse that provides, what's she got to complain about?  When in reality, she has a lot indeed to be upset about, that initial definition of domestic violence, that definition that doesn't quite apply, is blocking any and all rational thought beyond what you've already defined.  If this is you, and you're also that person dealing with a verbally abusive spouse, please know that you're in JUST as much danger as you would be if your spouse is throwing punches - and you don't deserve that shit!  You DON'T, no matter how much they may make you feel that you do.  
    I'm also realizing as I embark further onto this journey into the helping profession that there is so much anger within me - that this line of work I've chosen is either going to make or break me.  On one hand, I'm not going to be able to become too emotionally invested in any one child's (or survivor's of rape, domestic violence, etc) case - but on the other, I'm going to see and hear a whole lot that pisses me off and I'm going to be finding myself increasingly disgusted with our broken system and frustrated that I'm just one piddly cog within the whole of it.  And because I have experience with pretty much every form of abuse under the sun, I'm going to have a deeper understanding of why things are second-guessed, why there are suspected 'gray areas' (and I'm not saying they're there - I'd rather say they DON'T exist because to say there is one, allows for more room for self-doubt) and why certain things are a constant, continuous struggle and why healing seems so complicated at times.
    I know this Child Welfare class, once in full swing, is going to take a toll on my emotional state, mainly because I'm going to be reading about actual cases of abused children and in learning more about the variety of ways they were failed where they could have been HELPED, where they could have been SAVED, I'm going to hurt.  Over and over, I'm going to find myself either crying for them or wanting their abusers to pay a bigger price for their crimes.  If these pieces of shit are not on death row, scheduled to be executed, then they're not paying and they'll NEVER truly pay for the innocent life they've destroyed, but that's just my opinion.  NO ONE who hurts a child, or abuses another person in ANY WAY, deserves a mere slap on the wrist or to be walking free...but that is not my jurisdiction nor my choice to make.  This, like many other things, is out of my hands.
    My primary focus will be on helping those who HAVE suffered abuse at the hands of another - be it physical, mental, verbal, emotional, medical, elder, or sexual - and capitalizing on how I can help them to heal from these wounds.  It's my goal to show them that none of these marks, be they visible ones or otherwise, are their fault and that there is NO justifying abuse of any kind.  There's NO excuse for any of it.  My mission is to keep reminding others of that.  Every day for the rest of my life, if need be.  One man, woman, child, day, email, phone call, blog post at a time, in hopes that those cogs that surround me that are still grinding and stuck, will eventually begin to turn again, and that this system that is so fucking miserably broken will start to work as it should.   
    I'm sorry this blog entry was a bit on the deeper side, tonight - I just didn't expect to be re-acquainted with Lisa, and those children with stories like Lisa's, so soon.  Or maybe I did.  I AM going into social work, after all - did I really think this was going to be easy?  I guess I just need to brace myself because I am starting to see a whole lot of ugly that could have been prevented and need to be prepared to have these horror stories repeatedly thrown in my face.  Shit's getting real, and I'm hoping I made the right choice.  I can tell that this is just one of many future rants I may make on broken systems and perpetrators who deserve to die.
    In closing, a little advice for those of you who have been reading up until this point...(thank you, by the way!)
    Don't doubt yourself. If it feels wrong, it was wrong.  Don't minimize, or allow anyone else to tell you that what you've experienced was 'no big deal,' 'small,' or 'insignificant,' because that's NOT true.  Take a minute (or a few) to self-validate, to re-define, to tell yourself (repeatedly if needed) that your trauma was 100 percent real and that you deserve to be believed.  You deserve for your voice to be heard, no matter your age.  
    I know I said I was starting my 2020 eat-healthier plan this week, but that's going out the window; at least, for tonight.  I barely touched my dinner earlier, and now that I've purged all of the thoughts of the last couple of nights onto this page, I'm wanting to comfort-eat - and so, I shall.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to sleep tonight - it's been a battle with the tossy-turnies all week.  While I'm tired, I'm still not sleeping as well as I should be.  At this rate, going back to school could be easier to adapt to - or harder.  We'll see. 
    On that note, I'm wishing you all a good day/evening - depending on what part of the globe you're tuning in from.  My love and hugs to you all!
    - Capulet
  21. Capulet
    The sun is shining today!
    It has rained almost every day last week.  And when it rains, I'm tired, I'm moody and I'm just plain overall annoyed.  All I want to do is sleep.  Driving in the rain puts me at risk of entering autopilot mode - the wipers squeaking across the window...repeatedly...is what does it.  I'm unsure if this happens because it's a trigger or if it can be filed into the 'happens to everyone' pile.  Either way, I'm not sure what Mother Nature's problem is but she's cried buckets, drowning us all in the eastern states for the last several days with occasional, too-brief periods of reprieve. Brings me back to when I was a child and someone (for some reason, I cannot remember whom) told me that was because God was crying.  And I, being the extremely gullible child I was, would talk to God through the window and tell him that he needed to cheer up so that I could go ride my Strawberry Shortcake bike with the banana seat.    
    Ahhhh, the days without electronic stimulation!  Remembering myself as being seven, eight years old always made me smile.  Briefly, but a smile regardless.
    Having not much else to do because of inclement weather has forced me to think a lot about childhood days.  Mostly about the happier times.  I think there were a lot of contributing factors, really, other than my own boredom.  My own kids would never DREAM of doing the things I enjoyed when I was younger than they were.  No, they are far too fixated on their phones, their video game consoles, their iPads and any additional electronic devices that prevent them from being able to tell whether or not it's a nice day.  
    I was a kid who loved going to the park on nice sunny days.  I loved the monkey bars...most all of New York City parks had a set.  They were the boxy, metal square ones at first, before the builders got more creative and started building sets out of heavy duty plastic.  I loved hurtling myself upside down and hanging like a bat until all of the blood rushed to my head, then doing a gymnastics-style roll/flip back onto my feet.  I loved turning cartwheels in the grass...this was something I was good at, apparently - while I'd never mastered a back handspring, I was pretty lithe and was able to perform both two-handed and one-handed cartwheels, splits, back bends.  I didn't fancy the slide too much - as those too were made out of metal back in the day and if it was summertime, we'd scald our asses along with the back of our legs going down without a towel or something to sit on.  There were also the old fashioned see-saws and you don't see those anywhere anymore.
    Swinging was my favorite, though.  Some of my friends had back-yard swing sets and we'd swing as high as we could, until the poles came out of the ground, signaling to us that we'd best recognize our limits.  But in the park, the swing sets were welded into the ground and when there was no limit to how high we could swing, I'd go higher and higher until I was at risk of doing a 360...it felt as if I were flying.   There were times when I'd hold onto the chain links on either side and close my eyes, put my legs straight out in front of me, and lean backwards for an extended period of time.  Swinging while in that position would tickle my stomach.  I also remembered wondering what would happen if I were to let go of the chains.  I mean, I knew that I'd fall.  I wondered how much it would hurt.  Would a swinging midair hurl off of the seat kill me?  Luckily, I didn't investigate that any further since the thought scared me enough to outweigh what was likely childish curiosity.
    Then there was the familiar melody of the ice-cream truck - Mr. Softee is still my favorite.  I always preferred soft ice cream to hard.  I never could hear jack shit, but I knew the SOUND of the Mr. Softee that would make hourly rounds.  The familiar horde of children that would run over to the park entrance whenever that sound came blaring through the speakers.  SOMETIMES, my mom would get us each a cone - depending on the mood she was in, of course, or whether she had a few singles on her.  
    And sometimes, when it was REALLY hot outside, the sprinklers would be on, there was a little fenced-in pit with a drain where kids could run around in their bathing suits and keep cool while their mothers fanned themselves on a nearby bench.
    Those are the memories shared by most 80's kids that lived in Brooklyn.  When it rained, if we were lucky, we had the original NES systems with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt to keep us occupied, but for the most part, social media didn't exist and so we had to rely on nice weather in order to have any sort of fun on summer days.  Hell, some of these kids didn't give a shit about what the weather forecast said or whether or not God was crying - they went to the park ANYWAY.  
    I'd tell my kids these things and get all sorts of 'are you crazy!?' looks.  But that's evolution, I guess...we're simply not in the 80's anymore.  Rain or shine, there they are with their phones, their tablets, video games...because who cares about the park?!  It's more important to follow the saga of who's going out, who's breaking up, who's sleeping with whom...it's not just my kids, though, so this is somewhat relieving.  It's just saddening, a little, to know they'll never love these things as much as I used to.  We're just from entirely different times.  Makes me wonder what things are going to be like when THEY become parents!  
    There IS also a reason I'm mentioning these fond memories, I know I like to ramble and I thank y'all for bearing with me through all these novellas...LOL.
    So...we also had (another) power outage last week.  It went on from Tuesday at about three-thirty in the afternoon until Thursday afternoon.  Two full days with no power.  Thankfully we weren't reliant on running the heat, otherwise we'd have been cold on top of temporarily living the Amish lifestyle.  
    I'd been watching television when the storm hit and within a couple of minutes, we went dark.  We'd later learn it was because of a downed tree as a result of tornado-force winds in our area.  You can certainly imagine the kids' turmoil when nothing worked - at least until batteries were 100% depleted.  The wasband had power, though his went out for only a few hours before being restored.   And so for the sake of preserving whatever sanity I still possessed, I sent them over there until things were back up and running at my house.  Luckily, it wasn't like last time - when Snowmageddon wiped out our electricity for five days.  Still though, I cannot stress enough how much tree-inforcement is needed in these parts - the trees are tall and most are so dangerously close to power lines.  All it takes is strong winds and we're shit out of luck for however long it takes for the utility companies to come repair the lines.  But before they can come fix the lines, whatever tree that is lying on top of them has to be cut down and removed, making this a long, trying process in the Pocono Mountains.  And it's happened two times this year already - it being extended power outages.  
    If there's anything I miss about city life, that's it.  We paid about as much as you'd pay for a kidney on the black market for electricity and gas, but THEIR outages (unless it was due to a hurricane) were only hours long at most.  Here?  A single flipping tree falls and BAM, 15K people in the dark for three days.  And whenever we have bad storms, that's multiplied many times over, resulting in a surge of restaurant activity and generator sales.  I seriously need a generator...when the power goes out, it takes the running water with it and we are completely, (pun intended here) powerless to function until restoration.
    But as initially stated, that's about all I miss about the city.  Even though so many good memories were formulated there and it's where I spent the first twelve years of my life, I don't miss Brooklyn.  I don't even miss the park, and this is probably the saddest part of the whole thing.  Admittedly, the parks here are subpar in comparison and some don't even have swing sets! But my kids simply don't care much for them in general, as their brains have effectively been taken over by the invention of electronics and that thing called wi-fi that I, too, find myself in a state of panic without.  Mr. Softee, since he doesn't cover this area, has been replaced by Rita's - their gelati with vanilla custard with cherry ices in between is uh-mayyyyzing!!! (I won't put down the points value but I do know it for my own reference.)
    And I'm thinking there's more to my wanting to close the door and put away these childhood memories that I once loved - because I've come to realize that there are not too many others in existence that effectively fill in the gaps in between.  Not full ones, anyway.  Just snippets here and there, of people I loved and are long since gone...gone before they could and perhaps would have been able to answer my questions about myself as a kid.  Questions that plague me now as an adult.  I also remember places I'd gone and visited, some smells, too.  I can recall little details here and there but not what I felt or experienced during these times.  I'm just more often left with more questions I started with, and so whenever something sends my mind on a throwback, I find myself shifting focus more onto the present and imagining alternate futures that would have otherwise stemmed from perhaps, a more stable childhood.  
    I just stuggle with what could possibly have happened to cause these enormous, gaping holes in the canvas containing the events of my childhood?  I want to say that part of me is fine with not remembering the bad parts but I think I'd be lying to myself and to all of you if I said that I didn't want to eventually know the truth.  I know I'm a broken record about that sometimes, but it's simply not something that goes away.  I guess I just have to continue to be patient, I need to wait and see what unfolds with time, IF anything decides to reveal itself, it will be when when my brain allows for it.  It seems that most of my other happy memories came with a darker counterpart.  And this, I don't like at all.  For example, I remember my grandmother's house being a place where we gathered as a family and spent holidays - Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.  And then I remember entering the house after she had died - feeling no remaining evidence of her warm presence.  No, all I felt was a blast of cold, with a side order of hatred toward my uncle who was now the sole owner.  And as I wrote about in a previous blog, this brought forth a rush of a new set of emotions that I'm STILL dealing with, years and years later.
    In attempts to understand myself a little clearer, I try to picture an imaginary timeline of my childhood.  
    It had all started out sunny and bright.  Flowers in bloom, birds singing, (even though I can't hear them, I can picture the little musical notes floating above in this vision) people smiling, myself and other kids playing, laughing, not having a care in the world.  
    And little by little, the timeline weather begins to change.  It absolutely changes for all of us, for it's a part of life.  I'd imagine, as we mature and we transform from being children into teens and then eventually, adulthood, our 'timelines' do, too.  Because, as we grow, we have things to worry about - we have concerns.  We have responsibilities.  Some of us don't have secrets, though, like I feel that I did.  Secrets that even I don't know I had, buried deep inside that fun-loving child that exists only through these few clear memories, now.  
    For me, though, watching my own particular timeline unfold, these imaginary skies gradually became cloudy and darkened earlier than it would someone who isn't riddled with suspicion or confusion about things having occurred during their childhoods - for me, there are black patches of a whole lot of nothing.  There are these obvious voids; bottomless swirling holes that I can't make sense of.  Most of them are indeed accompanied by little bits of information - enough for me to form a hypothesis, but not enough to get the full story...I HOPE this makes sense because I don't know how to explain it any better than through this analogy.  
    But, yeah...they're there, right along with these occasional bright spots that I do recognize and I can smile about.  As I proceeded down (or up?) the timeline, they remained there, and even though things were cloudy, the imaginary sun still shone through and illuminated my path going forward.  It, however, shone bright enough for me to notice and subsequently, to skip over those black voids - because they simply weren't things that were going to be explained to me anytime soon.  Why sit there?  Why obsess over them?  Why peer into those holes?  I wasn't going to see anything.  In hindsight, I've tried, many times during the course of my thirty-nine years, to stop and peek into some of these holes and have always come up empty.
    The rain came during puberty, as I faced unpleasant bodily changes and contended with hormones that I, as expected, didn't know how to deal with the inevitable transformation into adulthood.  Who does, though?  If you asked the younger, child-like me, I'd say that was when God started to cry a lot.  It started off with little droplets and occasional showers before the sky finally opened up following a sexual assault when I was seventeen.  That's when the torrential downpours began, often accompanied by thunder and lightening and otherwise frightening 'weather' in between the usual periods of sunshine (the good days) that would best represent the years I'd spend healing, rebuilding the me that my own personal weather conditions have battered over the years.  
    Just like, in reality, while the bad weather occasionally batters someone's home, someone's property, causes wreckage and turmoil (power outages, hello!?) an emotional representation can also be successfully formed, at least for me.  Recovery reminds me of weather, in many ways.  There are good days.  Bad days.  Days where we want to be out and about be productive...and then there are days where we don't want to get out of bed and face the cruel, damp, dreary world.
    It's just so, very easy (and at times, appropriate) for me to make these symbolic associations to my past, using rain, gloominess and cloudiness.  I think it's also why I appreciate sunny days more, now that I'm older.  I think it's safe to say that I weathered those teenage-year storms and now, only the childhood voids remain.  And there they will continue to remain until the time comes for them to reveal the information that is hidden in each.  
    I do know that there are going to be many more rainy days to come.  That's to be expected of life.  Everyone's life, not just the lives of a survivor.  
    (I know I don't need to explain to anyone here that sometimes it feels like MY life is more sullied, tarnished, tainted and at times, 'worse' than other 'normal' people's lives, when in fact, we know next to nothing of what that person deals with on a day-to-day....it FEELS like this at times, though!  This is just me venting, though - I know that these 'normal' people have their own crappy cards dealt at one point or another.) 
    Even on these bad days, I make it a point to search for the smallest amount of 'sunlight,' little snippets of positivity that serve as reminders that there are indeed things to smile about regardless of shit weather, both metaphoric and real.  Reminders that even though so many question marks have been applied via (imaginary) Sharpie onto my envisioned timeline, there are still so, so many beautiful people, things, moments that I can stop to appreciate while I wait for the other things to make sense.  Kind of like enjoying the finer bits of life while waiting with a club in hand for the whack-a-mole creature to pop up out of whatever void it feels inclined to pop out of, first.  THEN, I'll hit this poor, unsuspecting mole (hope it's not a cat) on the head and see what unfolds.  It may decide to reveal what's in the gap from whence it came, or it may pop out of a different hole, sending me on a wild goose chase...similar to the one I've been on for the last several years.  
    Patience.  It's what I'll have to work on, now.  I can play this game for as long as I need to.  But brighter days are indeed helpful for the overall mindset.
    It IS, however, going to rain tomorrow.  According to my trusty weather app, God will shed some tears in the Poconos and it's going to stop on Wednesday and we should have drier conditions for the rest of the week.  Here's hoping.
    In closing, I am genuinely hoping you're all well, too.  I will provide a weight update soon but since we missed last week's due to the power outage, I'll simply say that I'm hoping to drop a pound and a half this week to make my grand total an even 30 pounds.  If that happens, you'll hear from me tomorrow at some point.  If not, then I'll plod on and keep trying.  You might still hear from me, anyway.  That's future planning for you.  
    - Capulet
  22. Capulet
    Huh.  Whadda-ya-know?
    I'm having a little bit of difficulty with my 'assignment.'  The counselor I saw last week gave me something to ponder for the next time we were to meet (there is no appointment set, yet) and I was happy to have something to occupy my thoughts with and even more giddy when she said I could write it out!  I suspect she understands the level of effectiveness writing has on me, so she was quick to encourage some 'writing homework' on my way out.  I accepted the assignment, as usual, because I do like being made to think seriously about something, to be tested, to be given the opportunity to be honest with myself at the same time.
    I just didn't think it'd be THIS much of a challenge!
    We all know by now that I'm a writer.  I know I'm always annoyingly pushing the idea upon others if there's an opportunity.  "You should write it out," "It'll help you make sense of things if you tried to put it all down in writing."  The list goes on.  If you're among those I've incessantly pestered about the importance of utilizing the power of the written word, I do apologize for coming on so strongly about it.  But this is something I TRULY believe in.  I believe it can help...because whether you're writing for your eyes only or you're intending to eventually share the finished product, it's still the easiest way to purge some of those thoughts and ponderings that are simply too hard to verbalize.  
    You see, writing is my biggest outlet.  More than talking.  More than therapy.  More than beating the shit out of a pillow.  It's my strongest means of communication.  The majority of my communicating today is done electronically as I do not have a whole lot of in-person contact these days between the kids being either at school or at their Dad's and J working a ton of hours.  I write texts, posts, emails, PMs, blog entries, MUCH easier than I can speak these words to others.  
    But, anyway.  
    The assignment is, "Where do I see myself in three years?"
    I did graciously accept this assignment when she gave it to me, thinking, 'piece of cake,' - because this is what I do, even when there are group sessions.  I'm always anxious to be given something to write, so mentally, I'm all - 'let's have it....throw it at me.'  Lately, though, I am finding that it hasn't been as easy as it used to be, for me to dig deep.  In the group meetings, I find myself sitting and thinking while everyone around me is furiously scribbling or otherwise working on their own responses.  It seemingly has gotten deeper, and there are now layers upon layers of CRAP sitting on top of it, making it even harder for me to gain access to these thoughts.
    I don't even know where I see myself tomorrow.  Or next week.  Yes, I have previously expressed some long-term plans and these are still active plans - but are going to take a little bit of time to set into motion.  And because things happen in their own time, and sometimes unpredicted circumstances come into play and effectively throw some of your plans completely off track, I've always just taken it a day at a time.  I've always paced myself because it made the most sense...we, after all, have to learn to crawl before we can walk, and then eventually break into a run.
    So, I now have to fast-forward THREE years??? (grumble, grumble.)
    In three years, the Son will be 21.  He'll be possibly about to graduate with his 4-year degree.  He might have an idea of what he wants to do with the rest of his life - which will put him in a FAR more advanced place than I was when I was his age.  I was 21 when I birthed him, I'd dropped out of college and was completely clueless on where I was going with the credits I'd already earned.  "I'll go back," I said to myself - and it will have taken 20 years by the time I do, but better late than never, I suppose.  He has just recently introduced to me his girlfriend - a lovely young lady that he's been seeing for a few weeks, now.  Perhaps in three years, he'll still be dating her - I like her a lot and personally hope she's still around.
    The Daughter will be 15, and in High School.  I am fairly certain she will be giving me daily heart attacks.  She's been applying mascara and lip gloss daily before school and she's only 12 now and smack dab in the middle of the seventh grade.  I joke often that she must have gotten her love for cosmetics from her father, (who wears many different 'faces') because she sure as hell didn't get it from me!  I am HOPING that in three years, her attitude will have significantly improved and that her immaturely destructive behaviors will have diminished, even just a teeeeeensy bit.
    For some reason, it's so much easier to envision where I see my kids in three years than where I see myself.  See, if this were a test, I'd have flunked on that, alone.  
    Fine, I'll try and shift gears and see what develops.
    I am positive that I will still be with my lovely J.  There is no doubt in my mind that we will be still be going strong in three years.  We have had our bumps and hurdles, but that's why we're BOTH striving to fix it now before it becomes a bigger problem.  To call it a 'problem' in the first place is a bit of an exaggeration, actually - so - it's just bumps.  In three years, I'm hoping these bumps will have been bulldozed a bit and that our path moving forward is more evened out.  When the surface in front of you is flattened, it's easier to see what's ahead - whereas the bumps sometimes serve as distractions and if hit hard enough, can bounce you completely offsides.  And like hitting a speed bump at 35-40mph, it can take a minute to recover from the jolt.
    Perhaps in three years, I will have learned that it's truly okay to be social, it's okay to let loose once in a while, it's okay to have fun and to SHOW that I'm having fun.  I know I'm uptight.  VERY much so.  And that isn't helping me AT ALL.  Maybe I will also find that I LIKE this - I can't say that's the case, yet, but it's being worked on.
    Maybe having started school (and probably having also graduated with my Associate's within that same three-year period) will have made it a bit easier for me to 'upgrade' from my current hermit status.  I'm not by any means wanting to be a social butterfly who is never home anymore; I think that to remain somewhat of a homebody, to keep myself calm, centered and reserved with the exception of a social outing or game night with friends one or two times every week or two is something I can live with.  
    I am far too used to keeping myself company - to the point where I like it a little too much to entirely abandon the thought.   I would like to be at that comfortable halfway, in-between point where I am no longer feeling extremely lonely and I'm also not feeling the anxiety or stress of having to be around too many people at once.  Again, I'm reminded of the 'baby steps' concept - maybe it will take MORE than three years to dissolve some more of that irrational anxiety.  And maybe, it is what it is.
    Maybe if I've already acquired my Associate's, I'll have already undertaken my mission toward my Bachelor's in Social Work.
    And, this might be a horrible thing to say - but since it is in reference to someone that didn't necessarily treat ME well, I am trying not to feel bad about saying it.  And this, too, is something I have to work at - not being so nice to people who treat me like stepped-in shit.  I am too forgiving, I am too weak to fight.  I do not do well with confrontation.  (Adding those to my growing list of the necessary little self-improvements.)
    But maybe, just maybe my ex will no longer be here.  The Son has already expressed his opinion on the matter.  "Dad isn't well.  He probably won't live past fifty."
    This is true.  My ex is NOT healthy.  So, in three years or less, maybe I'll finally be free of his influence, free of the bullshit he's ingrained in me and taught me.  I wonder often if his presence, the fact that he is ALIVE, serves as an impenetrable barrier between myself and that complete freedom.  Because, as stated before, we are not married anymore, but his reach has still remained a powerful constant.  I find myself panicking at the thought of him being angry at me for shit that I really don't have any control over.  Or, what he'll say to me next, how he'll react to anything that could be perceived as offensive to him.  I would like to find that I am no longer obligated to nod my head every time he asks me if I think he's right.  It never mattered if I didn't, there is still that weakened, mentally battered part of me that forces myself to agree with whatever bullshit he's currently spewing if asked.  
    Maybe in three years, I'll have found the pair of brass balls that I'm still trying to grow when it comes to standing up for myself, my thoughts, my wants, my feelings.  I am comparable to a trained animal at this point; even when an animal has been removed from the care of an abusive owner, the behaviors stick with them, forever.  And sometimes, this makes them 'unadoptable.'  No, I am not looking to be adopted - simply to express the disgusting gravity of this man's presence in my life.  In three years, I would like for this hold over me to be dissolved; I want to NOT worry about what dire consequences any choices I make may have.  
    I've already made a VERY small, but significant statement toward taking a tiny step away from his unwanted influence.  I told him over last summer that I planned to go back to school.  In part, I think I wanted him to realize - I'd quit school nearly 20 years ago because HE advised it.  Yes, it was me who ultimately carried out this choice because I was tired, emotionally a wreck, and pregnant.  Still, I let him convince me to put everything on hold so that I could not only focus on the Son when he was born, but also on HIS two children that he had by the wife before me.  Going to school was no longer feasible - in his eyes, being an instant, just-add-water wife and mother was my life, now.  This took precedence over my education - especially since I 'didn't have a plan.'  He has NEVER believed in me, in what I was capable of doing.  
    I don't think he made this connection, though.  This narcissist of a man instead made the comment/suggestion that I should just bypass the back-to-school idea and apply to work at the post office because they're a government agency and they hire individuals with disabilities and that I'd likely have no problem securing work.  
    "I don't want to work at the post office." I said to him, completely shocking myself.  I said it quickly, without thinking.  And normally, we do NOT speak to the wasband without carefully planning out our words; it does NOT end well if he finds he doesn't like what's been said.  I think I surprised him, too, with my abrupt answer.  He appeared slightly taken aback.
    "Oh." Was all he said.  And then he shrugged, "Whatever."
    (What is it with that word?!  "Whatever."  It makes me want to punch him in the face every time he says it!)  I think it's because I know that it's his 'dismissive' word.  It is what he says when he is finished talking.  GOD FORBID, though, I should be the one to mumble, 'whatever.'  It would lead to a full-on, drawn-out fight and of course, the end result was always the same, he was right, I was wrong, and I owed HIM an apology.  
    Perhaps in this case, the 'whatever' was a good thing - it wasn't toward me as his wife - he REALLY didn't care.
    In three years, I'd like to NOT feel the need to apologize to him anymore.  In the meantime, I am not holding my breath for the moment he realizes how many people he's wronged and with whom HE needs to make amends.  I do not even think 'I'm sorry' is in his vocabulary.  I have accepted that I'll likely NEVER hear them from him - but in three years, maybe I won't give a shit anymore because he just won't be ABLE to fix the damages he's caused.  Whether it's within three years, or within five or ten, all of his inflicted damage, including all of the effects, will die with him.
    There are probably a bunch of other things I'd like to see happen within the next three years.  I will likely become an aunt 1-2 more times.  I will possibly get a new car as my car has pretty much been commandeered by the Son, who uses it to commute back and forth to school.  I will likely have experienced some loss - two of my cats are elderly and are on a slow decline - this, I'm NOT looking forward to, but have to always consider the balance of good and bad whenever trying to look to the future. Perhaps this is what keeps me from shattering into a million pieces when something unexpected happens.  I need to prepare myself for every possible surprise, especially the unpredictable ones.  
    I don't expect to be right about every of my 'guesses' but if I can check off even ONE positive thing as being correctly predicted, then that's, in itself, a victory.
    Love and light,
    - Capulet
  23. Capulet
    Have y'all been here for the 49 other blog entries?  Proud to say this is the longest running blog I've had in years.  Whether entries were added in the middle of the day or the middle of the night, I've learned a lot by writing my thoughts here.  I've gained valuable feedback and perspective from YOU, my readers, and I DEEPLY appreciate all of you!
    Seeing as this is entry number 50 (are you sick of my ramblings, yet?) I wanted to make it a good, meaningful one.  I know I've been absent for a while (as far as my blog is concerned - I've been present everywhere else!) and I apologize for this extremely delayed update.  I seem to be experiencing a little bit of writers' block - this USUALLY doesn't happen too often.  But lately, it has been happening a lot - I don't know if it's because I've spoken on just about everything - but I know as well as anyone else, life is a bottomless pit when it comes to things we're struggling with, trying to make sense of or simply need to get off our chests. I am no different - I've just gotten caught by an invisible tree branch, and am, for the time being, hanging in limbo.  The things I COULD write about are swirling around me, I imagine in bright, neon sentences.  And as I stare at the words, they resonate as pure gibberish.  
    Do I write a letter to one of my abusers?  We all know I PROBABLY have a lot of not-so-nice things to say to these people.  But no, that's not going to do tonight.  I'm not feeling this - and I'm guessing a lot of you are not, either.
    Do I talk about the kids?  Because, really, we don't know enough about their typical nonsense, do we?  I have a feeling that this wouldn't be appropriate for tonight's entry, though they're starting school on Monday and this week, their pure ridiculousness has been amplified with the acquisition of their school clothes, sneakers, supplies and other needs that have successfully drained my wallet and bank account.
    Do I talk more about my wonderful mother, whose drama has been a constant since childhood?  And do I talk about something she said to me recently that I'm STILL pissed off about?  No one wants to hear about that, I'm sure - as much as Oompa is a favorite topic around here, there's become a need for me to experience her in small doses - this does include writing about her.
    The thought dawned on me to write about the power of memories and how these memories can certainly explain some of the self-proclaimed odd behaviors we display today.  I was watching "Castle Rock" on Hulu tonight (if you've seen this series, please - no spoilers - we're only on episode 4!) and one character asked the other, "what's your first memory?"
    I remembered mine right away.  (Don't you love when TV shows inspire deep thought without intending to?  It's all squished in between dialogue and while your characters are talking about a song or a picture or a smell from their childhood, YOU find yourself doing the same thing, trying to isolate your earliest memory, just so you can 'play, too!')
    My memory has nothing to do with music or smells or even anything I heard.  It's purely visual; given my hearing impairment, everything was, even from the beginning.  Perhaps that is where I get my gift of advanced perception - I see FAR MORE than is offered at times.  We've all heard of the possibility of heightened 'other' senses where there is one lacking.  I have found this to be true for me, as well as some slightly clairvoyant tendencies that I've never really tried to explain before.
    I was in diapers, standing up in my crib.  I know we rarely retain memories from that far back, but this one is clear; it's possible I was roughly a year and a half old.  I was in my bedroom, the same room that I stayed in for as long as my father lived in that apartment.  When my parents divorced, my mother moved in with my grandmother and I spent weekends at my father's, and this bedroom was small but still "my" room until I was roughly 11 or 12 years old and he bought a house in the 'burbs.  There used to be a picture hanging over my crib.  Two, actually.  One was a clown needlepoint that my favorite aunt made for me while I was still in utero.  I still have this particular needlepoint - it rested in my son's room when HE was a baby but he's since decided that thanks to Stephen King, he's not fond of clowns and the picture has been ordered removed from his room when he was still a toddler.  I guess they're not for everyone...
    There was another larger picture hanging on that wall, too.  I want to say there was some sort of nursery rhyme.  The Jungle Book is coming to mind.  Perhaps it had something to do with that.  I AM pretty 'smart' but I don't think I was reading at this age.  I do recall that hanging picture having words and it being there for years into my childhood, though.  Now, though, it is drawing blanks.  
    So there I am, bouncing up and down from behind the bars of my crib - perhaps this was before things would taint the person I was destined to become.  This is perhaps before my life's 'script' changed.  But I was happy.  I didn't remember sadness nor fear.  My mother and father were both there.  When I was a baby, my great-grandmother used to say my father looked like Jesus.  He had long hair, a beard, and was Jewish.  I'm not sure he ever wore sandals and a robe, but my Italian great-grandmother used to remind him of his resemblance to the son of God every single time she saw him.  He was a very handsome man in his day - today he more closely resembles Jeremy Irons.  My mother, when she was young, looked a little bit like the late Brittany Murphy.  They were smiling. They came in when they saw that I was awake, and made faces at me.  They spoke to me.  I don't think I heard or understood their words, but there was no doubt - they both loved me.  They knew I was deaf before I was able to stand - so they would make sure I was always able to see them because not being able to hear them would likely scare me in my young age.  
    And that's it...there are only a few more memories from that apartment - I had one of those Sit and Spin contraptions.  Mine was blue.  It was a round thingy I sat on, with my legs crossed around a middle piece/wheel that I would turn in order to spin myself as fast as possible, until the room and everything in it was a blur. I remember the couch we had - blue also - and quite ugly, I'd add.  I remember toddling down the hallway from my room to my parents' room and sitting on my Sit and Spin while my mother sat in a rocking chair and read.   
    As I got older, I'd soon be introduced to the idea that not all memories were good ones nor would they make sense. It's possible I do not remember many of the happy times in which my parents were together because they were divorced by the time I was two.  Being a non-hearing child, it's also possible I witnessed NONE of their fights, there was NO sign that these two perfect, happy people were having problems.  And so this 'earliest' memory of standing in my crib waiting for my parents to appear is the only one I have that still makes me smile today.  And I've been called "silly" because "it's not possible to remember things from that young," but I certainly do, right down to the room being filled with sunlight, the pictures on the wall, both my Mom and Dad walking in and putting on their, "oh, MY, LOOK who's up from her nap!?" faces.  It was a truly peaceful and serene memory.
    There are OTHER memories from childhood that when I look back at, I am NOT filled with this same sense of security.  In fact, I don't think ANY further memories award me this feeling.  Perhaps this is why it stands out so forcefully when I try and pinpoint my earliest, happiest recollection.  In fact, I'm betting on it.
    Other memories, although not definitive, also play a role in why I suspect I behave in certain ways today.
    In the memories to follow,  I am older.  Definitely no longer in diapers.  I am at my grandmother's house - so, SO many memories take place here.  This was also the house my mother's brother lived in, and still lives in today.  When you stepped into the main entrance, there were 2 doors - both were always kept open.  One led toward the left and a small hallway took us to my grandmother's part of the house.  The other led straight ahead toward a flight of stairs that would take us to my uncle's apartment, upstairs.  I remember sitting on those steps, just sitting there, so that I didn't have to be around those 'boring' grown-ups in the apartment downstairs.  In fact, I didn't want to be around ANYONE.
    Now, I'm pretty sure it was around Halloween or Thanksgiving - my grandmother was big on hanging up these paper decorations she'd tape to the windows or onto the walls.  Now that I think of it, it may have been Thanksgiving/the fall because I'm now remembering two smiling Pilgrims - a boy and a girl - it was just their heads - they were smiling and perhaps it said 'Happy Thanksgiving' across the bottom.  The girl had on a bonnet...the boy had on a top hat and a smile, there were freckles scattered across his nose.  There might have been a turkey somewhere, too - Grandma had them all as well as a witch's head, a vampire's fanged smile, a pumpkin, a cornucopia, taped to these walls, her kitchen walls, her fridge, etc, in observance of the fall holidays.  After Thanksgiving, she'd replace them with Santa-themed decor - but she always kept up with them as ALL holidays were celebrated at her house.  She didn't have a large house but it was, by default, where we were every Sunday for pasta and 'gravy' or during any holidays that required family-style observance.  
    I remember some of these decorations being a point of focus.  I'd simply stare at them for several minutes at a time.  Hard to explain but it's possible the one on her fridge was the one I focused on the most.  The layout of her kitchen was an odd one indeed.  Her fridge was actually against the wall BEHIND her stove - so whenever we needed to go get something from the fridge, we would have to exit the kitchen, walk around the corner and into another small hallway to where the fridge 'lived.'   Next to the fridge was the bathroom and across was a bedroom. 
    Whenever I slept at her house, I'd be in the bedroom directly across the fridge.  The bedroom or bathroom doors NEVER closed properly - not sure if it was because she'd never gotten the hinges fixed and my uncle was about as useful as a potted plant when it came to assisting his mother with the cleaning or maintenance around the house, but I do remember the presence of the fridge being sort of (or not 'sort of' but 'definitely') ominous and unsettling because when I was laying there trying to sleep, all I'd see was those ugly white doors, the decoration (usually a Pilgrim or character head) hanging on it.  In my brain, I'd 'hear' threatening, foreboding tones (or at least my idea of what these would sound like) and I'd ATTEMPT to close the door so that I wouldn't see the fridge or that freaking Pilgrim, but my grandmother would 'peek in' and the door would be reopened several times during the course of the night.  I am not sure if this is even important to mention, but whenever I slept there, my uncle would 'tuck me in' and tell me a made up 'scary story' before bed.  The stories never scared me as much as amused me - he was NOT good at thinking up new content - most of his stories were vampire themed and all started with "Once upon a time, in Transylvania...."  I was always in the stories.  And I was always the one to drive a stake through Count Dracula's heart at the end.  My cousins were the ones who would flee in fear and I LOVED being made the heroine, even though I knew it'd never be any other way.  As MY memory currently serves, he would leave after the story and I'd begin the task of trying to sleep but there was always that feeling of uneasiness, not related to his story-telling, but more so with my surroundings and the feelings accompanying them.  It may also be worth it to mention that this was AFTER I seven years old and AFTER an investigation into my uncle had yielded nothing.  Then in the morning, after I'd slept horribly, my grandmother would make scrambled eggs and he'd come downstairs with this brand of cereal - Puffed Rice - that he ate religiously every morning.  For some reason, I remember that cereal - I'm disgusted today by it if I walk past it in the cereal aisle in the grocery store.  
    Sleepovers at my grandmother's were a regular thing as my mother would be anxious to ship us off to Granny's whenever she wanted or needed a night out.  However, we were three girls and we never were together when we slept at Grandma's.  One week, she'd take me, one week, she would take the middle sister, one week she would take the 'baby.'  They do not recall ever having any problems sleeping - but I don't think anything was ever done to them, either.  The middle sister was born when I was seven - the investigation had already been completed and I'd like to think this was when any possible CSA had already stopped on account of perhaps my uncle being spooked.  They've made no mention of him tucking them in or telling them bedtime stories -  I've also never asked.  But today, they are fine with him - it's only me who has developed a profound hatred toward him.   They, along with my mother, though, have stopped questioning me as to why.  I've given the same story for the last decade: I hated watching him allow my grandmother to live in such disgusting, unsanitary conditions.  And this is what I'll continue to tell them if asked - the rest is just too complicated to try and explain.
    Perhaps, though, this triggers the need I currently have today for all doors to be securely closed when I am in my bedroom ready to sleep.  If at some point I see a door is open, I have to physically get up and close it.  And now I have a cat who knows how to open doors that have a handle-style knob rather than the rounded sort - this is pretty much EVERY knob in the house!  In order to effectively keep him from opening our bedroom door in the middle of the night, we now have to lock him out of the rooms we don't want him letting himself into.
    Anyway, there is one other issue I have when I'm trying to sleep.  Some of you may remember the light sensitivity issue I've brought up in the past but I will remind you if you're drawing blanks.  I absolutely cannot be able to see ANY sources of light, no matter how big or small.  I need for it to be completely dark - pitch black would work best. If I do not have these conditions, I cannot sleep well.  If there is an open door, that is one of the biggest issues because I'd have light coming in from neighboring rooms.  My grandmother would sleep on the couch whenever I was there, and so the kitchen light would pour into the hallway until she'd finally shut it.  Even so, I could still see that godawful refrigerator...not sure if it's because I knew it was there regardless.
    There were two windows in that room.  She had blinds on those windows.  I would sometimes attempt to look in a different direction while trying to sleep.  Instead of looking at the fridge, I'd look toward the window but that wasn't much better, either.  There was possibly a streetlight that was located not too far from that window and these blinds were NEVER able to completely filter out the outside light, so I'd see whenever cars drove by at night, there would be bright lights every so often.  And I remember HATING that I could see the light coming in from the windows, enough to occasionally try and bury myself underneath the blankets in order to get the complete darkness I craved.  Gawd, I spent HOURS trying to fall asleep and sometimes didn't sleep at all! 
    Today, I take extreme measures to ensure that every stray light is covered, even if it means draping a sock over the cable box to cover the small, red power dot that I feel is too bright.  I will cover my phone or flip it face-down, since while it's charging, a green light is constant.  If someone is awake (usually by the time I go to bed, no one is) then I will assume a light is on in the room outside my bedroom and I will lay a towel or clothing garment down across the maybe 1" space between the bottom of the door and the floor.  
    I KNOW it sounds awfully odd - I can't figure it out, either.  It's probably one of those things that I will need to consult with small-child Capulet one of these days, should she become more forthcoming with the details that would explain these behaviors that have carried over into adulthood.  I do know that I'm not "afraid" of the light - I know it cannot harm me.  I'm not sure if the light is even what bothered me as a child or what the origin of this even IS.  Was there light once, before I was old enough to remember the reasons behind this irrational fear, and I 'saw' something that scared me?  
    I just do not like that unsettled feeling that almost always seems to reappear whenever there is "spare" light when I attempt to go to sleep and it's dark outside.  Funnily enough, if I attempt a daytime nap, although I do try and block out as much of the natural sunlight by closing the blinds and drawing the drapes, I can still see everything in the room.  Even so, I can still fall sleep or nap in a room that isn't dark (although the door still MUST be closed!) as night.  
    Grandma also had a basement that terrified me.  And as much as I was scared by the three-room layout of her basement, I still would venture downstairs when I was bored.  It was EASY to feel bored at my grandmother's house - she had some toys there but there were only so many that interested me, so I would seek out other ways to quell the boredom.  The first room was where most of her 'junk' was stored.  A lot of it was my mother's and uncle's and aunt's accumulated junk that none of them had thrown away.  The second room (let it be known there were no doors in the basement; it was all 'open' and one room simply 'fed' into the other) had a washer and dryer and one of those wooden racks that was for clothes hanging.  There was a small bathroom in the second room but I do not remember that bathroom ever being usable.  The third room was always pitch-black, the only way to see anything in there was to pull a string (that sometimes took a while to find) on an overhead light.  I was never able to reach that string, so I never ventured past that second room.  But I could still see those two holes in the wall, they were literally holes that we were able to see outside through - next to one another.  I'm not sure how those holes came to be.  The house was pretty old, though.  But the way they were positioned next to each other made them appear as "eyes," especially during the daytime hours when they'd actually be the sunlight coming in through those two small holes.  I'd call those the "eyes of the beast," and I would repeatedly peek toward the third room from either the first or second, to make sure the beast was still there.  It always was.  I'd realize I was still afraid of 'it' and would go back upstairs.  At night, though, of course, the 'beast' wouldn't be there.  
    Again, this house was never maintained - my grandmother had her skills but house-cleaning and upkeep was NEVER one of them.  Everything was rickety and dirty, we learned to 'ignore' the occasional roach we would see crawling around on the walls or floors.  One of the adults would pull off a shoe and put it out of its misery if a big deal was made, but her house was literally infested by the time she did pass away in 2002.  This was also what 'flipped the switch,' I looked at my uncle and realized that despite remembering nothing 'off' from childhood (before age six or after) I loathed him.  And from that point on, I exorcised him from my life.  I think, though, I also eliminated the possibility of ever being able to get any answers from him, but perhaps that is okay - perhaps the answers will present themselves in different ways.
    Either way, these are just a few memories that I have of childhood.  As you can see, a lot of them circulate around her house.  A lot of them have to do with my uncle, her bedroom, and being afraid in the evenings.   A LOT of time was spent in that house - a LOT.  And until she died, I was a frequent visitor.  Perhaps my reason for being able to sail through all the sleepovers, family gatherings was because it was what Grandma truly enjoyed and I loved her VERY much.  And when she died, there was simply no more reason to return to that house for a visit.  And that afternoon we'd gone there after her funeral HAD indeed been the last time I set foot in that house.  Her death somehow 'freed' me from that house - and brought forth a slew of memories, emotions, recollections that I'd learned to effectively ignore for a long time - to include my attitude toward my uncle.  THAT was the thing I noticed the most, in fact.
    That tells me something, even though it's nowhere near the 'everything' I need to know.  In time though, perhaps I will understand more. 
    Memories are THAT powerful.  And lately, I've been making note of the things I do remember.  Ways I behaved.  Every little feeling, every emotion.  There are other things I've done as a child/pre-teen that I'm still hesitant to share here.  For now, those are mine and only mine to sift through, but sadly those, too, make sense and are 'in line' with the other suspicions I have.  And these are things that bring me sadness as well as anger - sadness because they exist and anger because there's nothing I can do to change the past.
    Memories sure are complex, aren't they?  They can bring us peace, or they can bring us further turmoil.  They can make us smile, they can make us laugh, they can make us cry.  They can confuse us while at times, they provide a sense of clarity.  And sometimes while they may repress, they cannot be erased, as much as we'd love for them to be.  
    And finally...
    In honor of this being my 50th blog entry, I've an announcement (of sorts) to make.  I've decided that my life has been 'in limbo' for far too long.  I focused only on raising my children and my family for the last twenty years, give or take.  I quit school and subsequently put my professional aspirations 'on hold.'  I was only two semesters shy of my Associate's, and I was majoring in English when I became pregnant with my first child and life just didn't allow me many opportunities to go back and finish what I'd started.
    And, so, I've decided that I'm going to get the ball rolling and soon go back to school.  I am also going to change my major from English to Social Work and obtain my BSW (Bachelor's in Social Work).  I feel that to choose English as my initial major was a result of simply not knowing where my calling was.  That's traditionally what people who like to write major in - English.  At the time, it felt that was what I wanted to do with myself, since I spent so much time as a child and teenager writing.  Twenty years and SEVERAL experiences later has shifted that focus, though, and I feel that I can truly contribute more toward a job in social work than I could as a writer.  I mean, I'll still write, but I think that being able to tap into my own personal experiences in order to help others make sense of their own, will be extremely valuable in this new venue.  
    And so, I'm going for it.  I am soon going to be making a lot of changes in my life.  Rather than feel 'stuck' on where circumstances have landed me, I am going to now embrace these circumstances and use them to strengthen me in my new career choice.  When I told my mother of my plans, she made a face that resembled one she'd make if I'd shoved a dozen lemons into her mouth, and said, "don't you realize how much WORK that is?  And that you're going to have to talk to a lot of people and you're hardly going to make any money??  I thought you'd be better suited to go into something to do with computers!"  
    I told her to enjoy her lemons.  I'll not explain this to her as I don't feel it's worth the aggravation - all I said to her was that my choice was made; I was going to do what I want - after spending the last 20 years doing what everyone else wanted or expected of me, it's now time to make something of myself.  I refuse to choose a field that I won't feel accomplished in.  Computers may be something I use daily, but I do know I'm capable of far more than writing code or trying to de-bug a virus-riddled PC.  No, I'll pass on those headaches.
    But to you guys, I'll honestly say it is NOT about the money.  It is also NOT about the amount of work, because as far as I'm concerned, I've already put in a significant amount of work into understanding how the mind works from a survivor's standpoint.  I have a natural understanding of it, mostly because I spend a great deal of time trying to make sense of my own mind.  I do know that others' work differently - of course they do!  But I think that having a basic understanding of the impact of sexual abuse/assault and its long-term effects will enable me to be a better advocate.  I truly feel that this is where my true calling lies - and by helping others to heal, perhaps I will eventually be able to consider myself healed as well.  I feel it will also give me a greater sense of purpose - for being a survivor of DV as well has greatly diminished my self-value in addition to putting a limit to what I could do with myself.  It's time to build myself back up and if I can, bring others up with me.  I want to make a difference in myself using the cards I've been dealt, the memories I've collected over the years, and to be able to pull something positive out of those negatives.  Because they're there - they're hard to see right now and I've still got quite a bit of work to do on myself, but I DO recognize that those positives exist and they are simply waiting to be recognized.
    I'll be keeping everyone informed of the process, of course!  I'm excited for myself, for the first time in years!
    Here's to 50 more entries.   Hopefully they'll flow a little bit quicker than the last few have, but you betcha they'll be here.  Thank you all again for being here and for hearing everything I've had to say.  You are all dear to my heart.  
    Peace, love and light - (darkness for me, please!)
    - Capulet
  24. Capulet
    The mind is a VERY, VERY tricky thing.
    This will be a short-ish entry as I'd like to share something that happened last night.    (Or it might be a medium-length entry, as you know I'm VERY susceptible to rambling!  We'll just have to see how it all flows!)  This should NOT trigger - it's not that kind of 'happened.'  But JUST in case - I will issue a SMALL trigger warning for a recovered memory, sorta - the memory itself isn't triggering, but you know - I'm thinking this has happened to some of you before and although it's not triggering, it's a little bit unsettling.
    So - here's the thing.
    Last night, after the kids had gone back to their father's, J and I went to the store to pick up some food and snacks and desserts.  Her Patriots are in the Super Bowl - AGAIN - so naturally, I am happy for her if her team wins - they'd earned it at this point - but...secretly, I'm rooting for the Rams.   Yes, I'm a little salty that my Giants/Jets (hometown teams) and Eagles (local team) didn't make it this year, but it seems that those damned Patriots are in it EVERY year!  So, like MANY, I'm rooting for anybody BUT the Patriots!
    Anyway - my love decided she wanted to have a party and since her work friends (including boss lady) got her into playing Fantasy Football and they'd been following the NFL since the start of this previous season - she wanted to invite them to our place for the game/food/drinks.  (I balanced the guest list out a little by inviting MY bowling friend and her husband - I'm NOT entirely comfortable about meeting some of J's other friends, but I did promise to get to know them in more 'comfortable' settings!)  So...counting us, we will have eight people here tonight.  We needed alcohol - as MOST of the people coming tonight are heavy drinkers (boss lady, especially) and we needed a bunch of snacks, food, etc.  
    OK, so we're coming home...our local town is a small-town type - there's a Main Street, with little shops, some fast-food joints, tailors, a bank, a diner, a Dunkin' Donuts, pizzeria, ice cream parlor.  There is also a very small cinema house - I want to say they feature OLD movies, and they charge maybe $1.00 to get in - but these movies are mostly ones that we can buy from the bargain bin at Wal-Mart in most cases.  We do have a regular Cinemark (for the new releases and the recent big-screen movies) at the mall, so fear not, there IS somewhere we can go to see something new.   
    So, on our way home from the store, we pass all these little shops, and the movie house - it's one of those old-style ones where there's an awning over the box office, almost - with the name of the movie on the side....I have NO idea what these are called, so I'm putting a photo as an example:

    Note - This is NOT my local small-town theater - ours is much more plain.  We don't have the fancy lighting shown up top, just the sides are similar - this is where they let us know what's playing and usually, we'll pass by there and I'll smile - last week they showed "Marmaduke,' and during the holiday time, they showed 'Home Alone.'  
    So - last night's 'feature' was missed, as I got caught on the phrase, "Stan and Ollie are here!"  The letters on the side spelled this out - perhaps the name of the movie was on the other side - or perhaps it was under the phrase advertising the return of Stan and Ollie, whoever these two were.  I didn't bother to look, though.  My brain was ALREADY racing.  Stan and Ollie.  Stan.  Ollie.  
    Stan and Ollie.  I don't know who they are.  Indeed not as Stan and Ollie.  If you were to ask me, "who are Stan and Ollie?" I'd likely have shrugged because yes, while I'd heard of the duo before, I wasn't sure who they were.  They were just another duo, one of the unknown ones that you'd heard but didn't have faces for.  And there are SO many famous duos - there's Thelma and Louise.  Ozzie and Harriet.  Punch and Judy.  Simon and Garfunkel.  Siskel and Ebert.  But almost immediately after reading the names in THIS duo, I had a mental image of Laurel and Hardy.  Just like that, there they were, in black-and-white, as I'd last seen them.  Laurel with his top-hat and Hardy with the bowl cut hair and badly-maintained toothbrush mustache.
    When I was a small child, my uncle (yes - the one I HATE!) used to watch March of the Wooden Soldiers.  On repeat, it seemed.  He had a copy of the VHS tape, and whenever I saw him or he was babysitting, he would ask if I wanted to watch Laurel and Hardy with him - and although I didn't necessarily find this particular movie entertaining, I would still agree to watch March of the Wooden Soldiers.  I was likely four or five - and I was not introduced to closed-captioned television until I was at least 8.  So this movie, to me, was completely visual.  Perhaps as it was one of the duo's 'silent movies,' it was something my uncle felt I could 'follow.'  I honestly would have done better with Tom and Jerry (another duo!) but March of the Wooden Soldiers, it was.  
    Laurel was the skinny one, Hardy was the stocky one.  Both were equally stupid.  They didn't do a lot of talking in the movie; it was mostly gestures, actions - mostly resulting in either Laurel or Hardy falling into water, getting a pie in the face or injured in an otherwise comical way.  Perhaps that's why I was able to derive a minimal amount of enjoyment of this movie - it wasn't because I understood the plot behind it.  I am sure there was one - and my uncle was able to 'explain' who some of the other players were.  I'd later find out that most of their movies were 'silent' films - makes more sense I'd understand them.
    But - to me - Laurel and Hardy were JUST 'Laurel and Hardy.'  A friend confirmed for me last night that their names were indeed Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy - so this tells me that I've remembered something - something purely out-of-the-blue, as I don't ever remember ever knowing that Laurel and Hardy had first names - or that they were their real names - I'd always thought they were fictional characters - they've always been recognizable to me as just Laurel and Hardy, those stupid, bumbling idiots from those stupid movies my stupid uncle used to watch and burst out in uncontrollable laughter, every single time one of them made a stupid move - says a lot for his own intelligence, I suppose.  (On another note, I am guessing that this is why I find MOST comedy 'stupid.'   That's yet ANOTHER realization I've come to in recent years - I can be made to laugh by a movie, but then there's 'stupid' comedy - I have found that kind of film is more likely to annoy me than make me double over in hysterics!) 
    This 'recovery' is even more bothersome because I've so closely associated Laurel and Hardy with my uncle.  I'd been doing so well at pretending he didn't exist - being I've no concrete memories of what possibly happened while I was often under his care as a child.  It was just so much easier to do this.  No memory = didn't happen.  I could live with this - as long as I kept him out of sight, too.  There WAS always the possibility of things coming back to the surface, but I'd always thought it would be upon his (delayed) death.  I'd also successfully blocked out anything having to do with Laurel and Hardy, just as I'd blocked out MOST things from that time frame.  It IS possible I knew or heard "Stan and Ollie" back then, but I've absolutely no memory of it.  And then, thirty-five years later, I see Stan and Ollie in bolded text, and BOOM, there's Laurel and Hardy, front row and center of my brain's auditorium!  HOW does that happen???  
    Is this what happens in the beginning?  Is it like a storm, perhaps?  As they all start off small, bearable and mild...then, before you know it, the elements become fierce, unrelenting, and you eventually find yourself flooded.  
    I'm GUESSING it's now started to 'drizzle' up in my brain because of my very recent struggles/trigger with having to possibly see my uncle at my nephew's and niece's birthday party.  We've also had additional stressors since my mother dropped this bomb on me (bomb discussed in my last entry) and as I deal with things that are more important (my sick cat), I've chosen to put this into the back of my mind, knowing I have a month and a half before this event is to take place.  That's ample time, right?  I just refuse to give this piece-of-shit ANY importance or any thought - he will NOT destroy me - I said that, of course, after deciding that my nephew and niece are FAR more important to me than he is - and I'd go to their party regardless - even if I had to carry a flask of vodka with me.  I've also some hope that he will eventually say he can't go for whatever reason, or he'll develop a nasty cold or he'll....oh, I don't know....die?  Or my father will be on MY side, and refuse to have any part of chauffeuring him there and back.  This is not likely, as my father, bless his heart - is clueless.
    Either way, it would seem that this has been sitting in the background for three weeks and is now starting to rot.  It smells AWFUL.  I cannot explain last night's experience otherwise.  
    I welcome any thoughts on this - especially those who have recovered memory from seemingly nowhere.
    My break from cleaning is over.  Back to the grind.
    Let's go, Rams!
    - Capulet
  25. Capulet
    A light blog today, just because.
    Last night, we had a laugh as a family.  It hasn’t happened in a while but, damn, it felt good!  Not saying we aren’t a family that laughs, it’s just so easy to get caught up in the more serious day-to-day routines.  Sometimes we forget to laugh, to cherish these little moments that bring us a chuckle when times become challenging.  
    As most of you know by now, we recently moved from the city and became country bumpkins this past summer.  To find a supermarket, bowling alley, restaurant, movie theater or just about any other place after five o’clock in the evening means driving down the pitch-black back roads for about fifteen to twenty minutes and bringing ourselves to the busier part of the town, where there is everything.
    Everything, except for an Applebee’s.
    For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a popular US chain American restaurant.  They’re everywhere.  It’s J’s favorite place to get a Caesar Salad and my son’s and daughter’s favorite restaurant, overall.  I personally prefer Texas Roadhouse (which we DO have locally) but I do rather enjoy the Wonton Tacos that Applebee’s serves.  The closest Applebee’s is about 30 miles away.  So it was arranged last week that yesterday, when J got home from work, we were going to get into the car and go treat ourselves to our favorite Applebee’s meal or appetizer.  
    Let me just insert a little story-supporting factoid here - when we first moved here, J began working for Amazon.  Yes, that Amazon, the one everyone shops at online. We thought it would be pretty damn amazing, plus the 15% discount she’d get on her own Amazon purchases were a perk we would have loved to enjoy come holiday shopping time.  However, J found that the bar was set way too high and the level of training was too strenuous and strict, they not only were inadequate in their methods of teaching and left very little margin for error.  Let it be known that J is an exceptional, thorough worker and she is the type to do well in just about any job she takes on.  Amazon, though, aside from being far too physically demanding, was too fast paced and simply didn’t want to take the time to properly train their new people…let’s call them one big-ass mindfuck, because at times, she would try to maintain accuracy and her job performance was better, although slower.  They apparently rate your quality of work and her quality was not matching up to the quantity…so they basically because of that criticism, she sped things up to try and appease them and I believe the problem wasn’t in the work she was putting in, but actually the presence of technical, computer errors with her scanning device she was using.  It was entering into the system incorrectly, resulting in the “too many errors” reason they gave her when she was terminated.  She worked there for three weeks before they fired her.  Normally, she’d have argued that the termination was unfair and unjust, but at that point, after constantly feeling overworked and underappreciated by them, she’d dosed herself with a healthy amount of ‘fuckitall’ and found a different job with better hours, benefits and pay.  And a note to Amazon before I continue, in the event one of you should happen upon this post - your company SUCKS.  I will still shop on Amazon simply because you do have the best deals at times, but the way you operate is absolutely ridiculous.  You put my wife through the wringer, worked her to the point of collapse, you didn’t step up and help her make any necessary corrections when you saw she was struggling…instead, to show your appreciation for her hard work and efforts, you fired her.  Y’all ought to be ashamed of yourself and your company.
    So, anyway…back to my tale for today…on our way to Applebee’s, we passed the Amazon Warehouse.  You can see this huge, white building from the highway.  J and I both flipped off the building as we sped past it, for they are a distant, but still unpleasant memory.  
    We found the Applebee’s, went in, sat down, ordered and ate.  Everyone got their favorite meals.  The bill came to just over $100 including a tip, but everyone was happy and so it was worth it.  The kids even suggested we do this every couple of months. 
    On the way home, we were soon to pass the Amazon Warehouse again, coming from the other direction.  J was being funny and in her tour-guide voice, says, “And over to our left, we will soon see the Amazon Warehouse that fired me.  Let us all show them our middle finger in appreciation.”
    All our middle fingers went up and toward the driver’s side of the car.  
    Yes, even my 11-year-old’s little middle went up; while I’m sure I’m not in the running for any parent-of-the-year awards, I still allowed for it because I feel she’s old enough to learn to express herself if the situation presents.  Plus, she’s seen and heard f-bombs come out of my and J’s and her father’s mouths on MANY occasions.  If she can successfully watch her mouth more often than letting a word slip, then I feel she’s earned the right to use a swear word when she feels the need to.  Because to me, swearing is simply your way of not sugar-coating anything and letting someone know how she REALLY feels about something.  If you ask me, swearing is healthy, but should still be done responsibly and she should be sure not to use such language around someone who could be offended by it (an older relative, grandparents, etc) or otherwise influenced by it, for example a younger sibling.  I know that personally, I feel better if I let out a string of well-placed swears rather when I say “oh, poo.”  I normally don’t condone unwarranted displays of vulgarity, but in this case, we were sticking up (our fingers) for one of our own.  
    What we DIDN’T count on, though was the car that had pulled up next to us on the left lane.  We were in the right lane and between the Amazon Building and our car, there was now another car full of unsuspecting people who, I’m thinking, probably thought we were flipping THEM off.  And they’d rather conveniently pulled up, JUST in time to see all of our middle fingers go up at the same time.  Add to this whole funny situation, the overhead light in the car is usually on when it’s dark outside so that lip reading is made easier…which means that not only were the cars next to us able to see our raised middle fingers, anyone driving along that highway at that particular moment could also see quite clearly our little family display of expression.
    When we realized this, we all quickly put our fingers away, there were a few “oh, my GODs” and “whoopses” and then, we erupted in an uncontrollable fit of laughter.  I’m sure my and J’s faces were red with embarrassment, but as soon as the car had passed us and was already a half dozen or so car lengths’ ahead of us, we joined the kids in hysterics.  We giggled at the pure timing of it all.  At what the occupants of the other car could possibly be thinking they did to piss us off.  At what the sight of a sweet, baby-faced, frizzy haired, 11-year-old with her middle finger up must have looked like, especially with her two moms and brother’s fingers up right next to hers, all pointing in the same direction.  At least, we’d given someone else something to ponder for the evening.

    We laughed for several minutes.  We laughed until the tears rolled.  We laughed until it hurt.  
    Then we just smiled at one another, for a memory has been made and tucked away for one of those times where we feel we need to pluck them from the reserves for one of those instant-smiles, because there ARE times we scramble for one of these 'remember when?' moments.  
    And, no one got hurt or arrested, so in my book, that’s a win. 

    Live, love and laugh a whole lot.
    - Capulet
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