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Blog Entries posted by Capulet

  1. Capulet
    Two years ago, when we moved into our new home, our realtor bought us a Keurig machine - this adorable cherry red contraption - and it's been nothing short of amazing to have - especially when there's a need for a 'quick cup.'    While I still drink coffee, it's mostly the iced variety from Dunkin' with a shot of caramel and cream - my Keurig machine has lately been going WEEKS without brewing - it's usually only used when my mother (Oompa) comes for a visit.  She'd come in and ask for a cup of coffee: 'got any decaf?'  Often I'd have to tell her that I only had regular - thus starting her new tradition of bringing me a box of decaf K-cups whenever she came to visit.  My supply of regular, though, has dwindled and I cannot open my pantry without it spitting out a box of whatever-flavored decaf.
    I'm feeling the need for coffee this morning - for starters, I'm cold.  It's barely breaking 50 degrees lately - nothing but rain, rain, and more rain.  We had a one or two day reprieve here and there, but never long enough for it to dry out a little.  So, I'm cold, I'm tired of the dreariness....and I'm just plain tired this morning because as usual, I crawl into bed at 2am (force of habit) and on this particular (rainy, of course) Tuesday morning, I am waiting for the guy who is installing a new shower to arrive.  8am, he said.  I got up at 6 when J left for work so I wouldn't sleep through the promised appointment time - it is now 9:45am and he's still not here.  
    Regardless, I needed an energy jolt this morning - so into the K-cup inventory I go and ALL that remains is decaf.  Now, when Oompa comes, I'll have to tell her to bring REGULAR K-cups because decaf ain't gonna cut it.  I'm already half asleep!
    Gonna be one of those days, yeah?  OK.  Warning heeded.
    So, I did say I would be writing a little about Mother's Day, being that I've had mixed emotions about this day for years, now.  
    Not because of my kids.  My kids are my life and I LOVE being their mother.  The son is going to be nineteen...(I can't...) in a couple months and the daughter will be turning THIRTEEN.  So, for one year, (help me Jesus!) I'm going to have TWO teenagers under the same roof at the SAME time.  Although I must say it's certainly felt like the daughter's been a moody, brooding teenager for a WHILE, already.  It'll just be official in a couple months' time and I'm definitely in for it.  Anyway - the kids and J took me to dinner last night at Red Lobster, followed by a trip to Dairy Queen for sundae desserts.  The son forwarded me a coupon for university logo apparel and the daughter bought me a card and a huge bag of watermelon flavored Sour Patch Kids...I guess she didn't get the memo that I need to get my ass back onto the Weight Watchers bandwagon, but it's the thought that counts.   
    Oompa planned her vacation to Italy for the week of Mother's Day.  Pretty sure it wasn't done intentionally - was probably a 'travel this week, get these super deals' kind of thing.  Either way, I wasn't really caring.  I'd just seen her two weeks before for Easter - and secretly was GLAD I wouldn't have to figure out a way to make her feel particularly special on Mother's Day all the while not knowing what my own kids had in store for me.  As is, I struggled with what to say to others on social media.  Mother's Day is just - I don't know.  Seeing all the Facebook posts scroll by, all these sons and daughters with pictures of their moms - the daughters who call their moms their best friend.  It's hard to take it all in, knowing that my mother is NOT my best friend - she's someone who annoys me to no end, someone who will commit an act of generosity, then turn around and ask what we'll do for her in return.  No, it's never simple with her.  She is both an easy and a difficult person to love...try to figure THAT out!
    So, Sunday, I spent a little time on my Facebook - to my sisters, I sent a Happy Mother's Day message on Facebook on each of their walls.  I sent J's sisters the same.  I sent J's born-again Christian mother (who isn't a fan of mine) a HUGE thank-you for raising the woman of my dreams (YES, I absolutely did do this, and yes, I did it to be mischievous) and the message I sent my own mother took longer than all the rest combined.  I chose my words carefully - trying to find words that were truthful but could also be interpreted in a way my mother needed them to be.  
    I thanked her for everything she's done for me and all she's taught me.  And she has.  She's done lots for me - some of it, I wonder if it was guilt-born.  She taught me a great deal...I cannot deny this.  She taught me to speak.  She taught me to treat others with kindness and respect.  These are the finer qualities...unfortunately, she also taught me about lying, about hiding, about sweeping things under the rug.  She TRIED to teach me to 'put things away,' but this was not an effective lesson - it's only taught me self-doubt, to suppress, and that if I can't remember something, it isn't true.  Logically, I know that's not the case, but to have that ingrained in you from a very young age - well - you're kinda screwed.  
    My mother taught me how NOT to be with my own kids.  So, that, I can also thank her for.  She taught me to allow my children to be who they are - without fear of being judged for it.  She taught me to listen to what my kids think of others - a child's intuition is rarely wrong.  
    Sadly I cannot explain these things to her.  My messages to her are generic, short and to the point.  I cannot even think about what I'd want to say to my mother, because I probably NEVER will say some of these things, even if opportunity knocks.  I don't think I'll ever have the relationship with her that I'd LIKE to have....that ship has sailed around the world several times over.
    Do I love her?  Of course.  But I also feel this incredible need to maintain an emotional distance.
    Not even sure what else is swimming around in my brain at the moment - I'm tired, I've not had sufficient sleep nor caffeine.  BUT, the good news is - there's another year 'til the next Mother's Day comes around.
    Maybe some things don't need to be overthought?  
    Hoping everyone is having a good week - will be back soon with another update.
    My best to you all!
    - Capulet
  2. Capulet
    Greetings, everyone!!
    Hoping you're all having a good weekend - we had a 'backwards' couple days.  To explain, we had our taco dinner on May 4th ('May the fourth be with you') and on Cinco De Mayo today, (May 5th) I am invoking the force (fourth) and we're having chicken for dinner.  If no one cares, I guess I won't either.  I'll just note both 'May days' have been duly observed, one way or another.   Additionally, the state of Pennsylvania is drenched - it's done NOTHING but RAIN most of this week.
    So, I had a counseling appointment on Friday with M.  We were also planning to discuss with the volunteer coordinator at the Women's Center some opportunities for me, since volunteering is a pathway into the 69-hour class they offer, as well as interning with them and eventually being able to apply for work there.  M has spent the last six months getting to know me via group meetings and individual counseling sessions and is aware of my 'plan.'  It was, in fact, her idea to discuss the next steps with the volunteer coordinator - whom, while she wasn't present in our meeting, has instructed M on what to suggest.
    Basically, in order to volunteer at this particular center, apparently, you cannot be receiving services affiliated with the Center.  This means, no counseling, no attending the support groups, no receipt of ANY 'help' whatsoever, for one year.  This is what they consider a 'transition period' - which makes sense - in order to be providing assistance to others, we must show them that we are in a proper frame of mind and we are not needing their assistance, ourselves.  
    Of course, I may attend their community events, the public come-one, come-all ones - and M will likely see me at those events - along with the other staff members at the center - they will see that I am still present, and still keeping up with the Center's activities, and there is still interest in becoming one of their volunteers.  M has also told me that I'm welcome to reach out to her if I ever needed a session or wanted to attend a group.  I was still allowed to do this and am still entitled to services - but then, that would 'reset' my year.  
    It was also explained to me that it is during senior year that I'll be expected to do interning/field work - and to cease counseling now will give me my entire junior year to prepare for that - my senior year would start in 2020 if I'm on track - and by then, my required year away from the Center will be up and I'll hopefully already be volunteering for a few months.  I can also hope to have that class taken that they offer, if it's a prerequisite to volunteering.  
    I explained to her that my reason for joining their groups in the first place was not because I was/am in crisis - because I am not at a point where this has been consuming me.  I joined the group first - I was simply seeking connection, to become acquainted with others that I could relate to.  I am still new to where I now live - I don't have too many familiar folks around me and I am having trouble emerging from within this self-protective bubble I've formed around myself for the last couple of decades.  The only reason I started counseling was because I needed a place to vent some of the frustrations that I was having with some of the changes related to my out-of-state move, my relationship, my decision to go back to school.  Change was/is never comfortable for me - and while I wasn't in crisis, I needed a place to put all of it.  My counseling sessions with M were never meant to be long-term, and I accept that our sessions have to come to a close.  I've gained some insight and perspective from it all - and we parted ways saying I've come a long way and I've 'graduated.'  
    And thus begun my 'transition' process.
    On the drive home, it hit me - I now have even LESS connections.  At least - not in person.  I know that here, in this space, there is NO shortage of connections.  And I will continue to make them here.  There is great importance in having these connections available to you - be they online or in person.
    In person, though, I have just ONE connection - at least one that is 100% safe - the one I have with my fiancee, who knows absolutely everything there is to know about me and about my past.  She's the one who understands me the most - as she's a survivor, too.  Yes, this made such a connection MUCH easier to form in the beginning - and all additional connections on top of this main one has been an incredible bonus.  Ten years later, we're still going strong and while I'm not looking for intimate connection with anyone else, I'm feeling that, emotionally, this is a time of evolution for us both - while we still love each other very much and have a strong understanding of one another's issues - we are BOTH making changes in our lives.  I've decided to pick up where I left off 20 years ago with my return to school and she's been spending the last six months in therapy working on coping with suppressed trauma that happened over 12+ years ago.  The EMDR has understandably taken a toll on her and she has been throwing herself into work and social activities to keep both mentally and physically busy - and I've felt very distant, very lonely - and that was my reason for researching and finding the support group in the first place.  
    And now, that's gone.  It's going to have to be, if I want to keep putting all of my eggs in this one particular basket.  The basket, representing this particular Center, where I very much like the environment, the staff, the atmosphere.  It is exactly where I want to be two or three years from now - working with M as a co-worker, being able to work with those who truly ARE in crisis and need that assurance that someone's listening, someone cares.  I want to be giving back.
    I do have upcoming opportunities to 'put myself out there,' this fall.  I'll be starting school at the end of August.  There is a huge difference though - and I think this is what I'm realizing...
    You see, I made a statement when I joined the Center's support group.  I let them know that I was a survivor of sexual assault, of domestic violence, and possibly of CSA.  I didn't have to say these words - my being there, being present and my participation in the meetings, was all that was needed.  These other ladies were getting to know me, already knowing this information.  The HARD stuff was already out there - without my having to put any words to it.  It's a nice thought, and for the moment, it was a comfortable one - not having to explain myself, not having to explain why I'd 'tune out' during discussions or even describing why the simplest of thoughts were harder for me to explain or even to convey to someone else.  I think this is what made it easier to sit through these meetings, knowing that I wasn't obligated to explain these things - they already knew and understood.
    What statement am I making when I walk into my first class at the end of August?  There's no pre-existing knowledge of who I am as a person and how I've gotten here.  There's no instruction manual.  There's nothing.  One GIANT unknown.  I am going to HAVE to work at making these connections from scratch.  These people are not having statements made, other than I'm a 40-yr-old who's decided to continue her education after 20 years.  And for me, I know nothing about the people I'm going to be sharing a room with two or three days per week - I'm not going to know whether I can relate to them on some level unless otherwise revealed.  
    I KNOW that this isn't something that EVERYONE has to know about me.  I've managed to keep it from my family for my entire life.  But even so, there's a very difficult-to-explain craving for that connection to exist, even if just as a starting point.  I do currently have a small handful of friends - the lady I bowl with being one absolutely terrific character - then there's my neighbor, a 60-something, who has always been very kind to us and who takes care of our animals whenever we are away for a couple days.  These two DEFINITELY have friend potential but they, sadly, do not know me the way J does.  There still remains in place a barrier - I only allow them to know things that are 'general,' things that are 'safe.'  There are things I'd never say around them.  Important, telling information, that would explain me in ways that I've never been able to allow...because, gee - what if they don't get it?  (Yes, I know I can't live my life like this - I need to afford others the chance to let ME know whether or not they can relate to any of it, rather than either yank the chance away or maintaining the we-can-be-friends-but-I'm-not-letting-you-get-too-close mindset!)
    This is yet another part - another step - of my own personal evolution - and perhaps the Center has unintentionally given me more 'preparation' work than I bargained for.  It isn't just this transition that I've got to get used to - I've been somewhat ready to take on a different role for a while, now.  It is more so the realization that there won't always BE this pre-existing knowledge when dealing with new people and forming new connections and relationships.  I've always known this, but have been plodding along, regardless.  Plus - I'm studying to be a social worker - I've got to understand the 'outside' world just as much as I understand the 'inside.'  If that makes any sense at all...and skills there, I don't have just yet.
    This next 365 days is the time to open up my mind to further personal growth, isn't it?  Especially in the area of forging safe, healthy friendships and connections.  Going to the groups, to counseling was just one way to get started, to prepare myself for the REAL tests that lie ahead - the ones that will start when I become a full-time student.
    This is going to be a hell of a self-imposed challenge that I've a year to rise to. 
    It took a few days to process all of this - being a rainy weekend has helped - spent time reflecting on my 'final' counseling session, on what is expected of me - even if it's more so a self-expectation than anything.  In between reflection, I've managed to get some spring cleaning done - lots of things getting thrown onto eBay, (who would have thought there was value in a broken XBOX that had been collecting dust for years?!) and the daughter's room, I've discovered, has a floor.  Mind blowing.
    Anyway - wanted to put out there an update on the brain traffic for this past week - hoping next week to see a reduction in clutter but as Mother's Day is rapidly approaching, I do sense another jam coming on.  Thankfully, Oompa will be out of the country, (she's going to Italy) but her absence never seems to stop the gears from turning, the constant stream of thinking that usually goes along with any reminder that I have a mother.  I'll likely be back in a few days to decompress.
    Hoping everyone had a good weekend.  As always, my good thoughts are with you all.
    - Capulet
  3. 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
  4. Capulet
    Hello, all!
    There's so much to update on but this week, the words elude me.  I guess I will just write, though - and see what flows.
    To start things off, we once again are hearing the pitter-patter of little paws in the house.  J has been feeling lately that void where Dexter used to be - he was her comfort, he always seemed to KNOW when she needed a cuddle.  So we adopted Salem - he's an 8-week old, all-black kitten.  Accompanying him is the plenty of scratches and teeth marks up our arms and legs - but all in all, we're happy and he's setting into his new home nicely.  He's not Dexter - nor will he ever be - but in some ways, he's already channeling our buddy, who will officially be gone two months on Thursday.  It still seems so unreal.  It IS, however, bringing content smiles to my beautiful wife's face, smiles I have not seen in a while.  If she's happy, I'm happy - and I gotta admit, the little guy IS cute!!
    Oompa came to visit, as promised.  I mentioned a couple of blog entries ago that she wanted me to 'greet' my uncle at my nephew/niece's birthday celebration - I chose not to.  My mother wasn't happy about this and stated that when she asks me for 'favors,' it's usually for a reason.  I asked at the time WHAT possible good reason there EVER could be for me to say hello to someone that I loathe.  She couldn't supply one at the time; she was likely at my sister's house and there were roaming eyes - so she said she'd tell me when she came to visit.
    Well - that visit came and went - and the only thing I was left with was a headache that lasted for two days post-Oompa departure.  While she was here, she tasked herself with the cleaning of my kitchen - (apparently she decided that my kitchen had excess 'clutter,' something that HER kitchen is not completely devoid of, nor was it ever!) and working on a blanket that she brought with her to crochet.  When she's at home, all she does is complain how tired she is - granted, she takes on way too much and this is her own fault - but when she's here, she won't go to bed until after 11.  (Yes, you may insert the moaning and groaning here!)  
    While she was here, she wanted to watch an episode of SVU.  Now, I don't watch this frequently - if it's on and there's nothing else of interest, I'll watch it - but I honestly lost track of the show during the Stabler days.  Anyway, my mother watches it weekly and did so on Thursday night - "watch with me," she said - so I did - but only because she'd be going to bed after and THEN I'd have my peace and quiet.  
    Anyhow, this particular episode - a man was about to get married and someone stood up in the church when the minister said, "speak now or forever hold your peace."  The woman who stood claimed, in front of all of the guests, that the groom had raped her.  I won't get into details in case any of you watch SVU and haven't seen this episode - but the accuser was investigated thoroughly, and my mother's commentary throughout was, 'oh, she's lying,' or 'I don't believe her.'  
    As it turns out, the woman wasn't being 100% truthful, but she was also not lying.  It's something you'd have to see to understand the full story of - but to hear my mother repeatedly invalidate this woman's words - it just further solidified that I can never - EVER - share with her.  Not about her brother, not about the isolated SA experience that further changed me.  None of it.  Instead, I have to pretend that I am unaffected by sexual assault; I have to shield from her, from most people around me, reasons for my being the way I am.  I am just not safe to emerge from behind that shield, yet.  I wonder, though, if I ever will be.
    I'm also momentarily propelled back into childhood when my mother would tell me that I lied, I made up stories.  For her to invalidate a fictional character was telling me that she was also invalidating ME - and so, even though I wanted to scream at her, I kept my mouth shut and 'put it in my sleeve.'  In a way, I'm GLAD she said nothing about her good-for-nothing brother - at this point, the anger I feel has bottled up over having to see him recently, (being asked to say HELLO to him, too?) is invalid because I'm a liar, too, just like this woman on television, and I made up a story when I was six years old.  If Oompa is of the self-imposed mindset that I made this up as a young child and is OKAY with that belief, then there's no changing it now, nor any motivation to try changing it.
    Come to think of it, perhaps this is why, for a full day after she left, I was feeling as if I was carrying a boulder (that was my head) atop my neck.  It was like there were a marching band making its rounds through my brain.  The throbbing was AWFUL.  I am glad to say, though, that has stopped and I'm feeling MUCH better and calmer now.
    SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) is in full swing, here - got the heads' up from M that this month's group would have to do with SAAM and we'd be designing and making Take Back the Night signs in Art Group tomorrow (Tuesday).  
    During the last several days' Mets games, I've been making loom bracelets in between pitches - I now have 20 of them - to distribute among the ladies at Art Group when I go tomorrow evening.  I think they'll love them - and I'm only wishing I could have made more. I probably would have, too, had I not run out of the color I needed - but I felt that SOMETHING needed to be done to spread awareness.  I've NOT participated in the #metoo movement on Facebook, even though a part of me did want to.  I've not posted anything on social media that could be interpreted as, "I'm a survivor," and no, it's not because I'm ashamed.  I've just got eyes (Oompa's, my kids', other family members') on my social media accounts (even if it's just Facebook and a somewhat-abandoned Instagram account) that I don't want seeing this side of me that I've chosen to keep private.  With what I've mentioned of my mother above, I do know not many would blame me for doing so, but at the same time, I feel angry that I've had to hold my tongue for so long, and that my reasons for keeping silent are for self-protection - I certainly don't wish to protect the man who raped me; he SHOULD be exposed for the animal he is - especially if he's living the good life that I know he doesn't deserve.  
    I went through HUNDREDS of black, white and teal rubber bands and although after the first two or three, the rest were woven in autopilot mode, I did do some reflecting as I put them together.  I'm going on 23 years since I was SA'd.  Yet, it still lingers, it still stings, it still tarnishes thoughts that would otherwise be beautiful. Yes, time has been good to me in the sense that some of these thoughts have lessened and I'm in an overall good place with all of it - but there's still the occasional reminder of that night.  I'm not even talking about the CSA that happened prior to the rape, I'm referring back to that night in 1996 when I'd be forced down an alternative path, one that was unmapped and held nothing but uncertainty.  
    I've also decided that in synchrony with going back to school and getting my Bachelor's in Social Work, I will also be exploring other ways of getting involved within my community.  I feel that I have spent enough time silently acknowledging that I am a survivor.  It is time to embrace the fact that I am not just a survivor, but one that is ready, willing, and able to interact with other survivors - even if on a peer level first.  I think I've kept this part of my life private for FAR too long - and it's time to emerge within my community as a 'known' survivor, even if it means continuing to keep my mother in the dark.  It's easier to do this now that I don't live so close to her and I've effectively managed to keep her at arms' length.  
    I've expressed a desire to M to, when the time comes, do my internship at the Women's Center where the monthly groups are held - and have made it known that I would like to volunteer there, as well as eventually apply for a job there.  She will be letting me know when I can speak to their volunteer coordinator - in October, it will be one year since I joined them at the center for groups, and that's the amount of time you need to be affiliated with them in order to be considered for volunteering services.  
    You know what's messed up, though?  In a small way?
    I did tell Oompa my plans to volunteer at the center.  And I told her that it was in preparation for the line of work I'll be going into once I've got my degree in hand and that they offer the training class to their volunteers for free - non-volunteers needed to fund this training course out-of-pocket.   She did ask why I would be going to a place like that or getting involved with them - and to tell her that it was because I wanted to eventually WORK there and not because it was because I BELONGED there - seemed...I don't know.  Like it was the truth, but not the whole honest truth.  I don't consider myself a dishonest person but to put it that way...it feels wrong.  Does that make sense?  
    A little?  Not at all?  Is my brain just in overdrive, per usual?
    For those of you who are observing SAAM alongside me - know that I stand next to you, whether or not you're observing silently.  I support you this month, and every month. I believe you.  And I am sending you one of my handmade loom bands, even if I've got to do it mentally.  
    Anyway.  Just wanted to empty off some of this chatter that is swirling within my brain.  I do think I'll be back within the next few days with another update, especially after tomorrow's Art meeting. 
    I am hoping everyone's having a fantastic day in your parts of the world!  Spring has officially sprung here - it is LOOKING like we are done with snow and 50-60 degree weather is here for at least the next ten days.  But living where I live is anything but predictable and that's subject to change.  Hoping not, though - I'd REALLY like to break out my outdoor furniture and get the back yard 'barbecue ready!'
    Until next time.  Sending y'all lots of love and hugs.  If you don't want the hugs, kindly pass 'em onto the person behind you.  I won't be offended. 
    - Capulet
  5. Capulet
    For the last few weeks, we have had a broken front door lock; and my son's key was refusing to come out of the door.  Home Depot wanted $130 for a new lock/set that looked the most like the one we have now.
    $130 that we just didn't want to have to spend right now.  I now have past-due vet bills, a car payment, increased insurance payments, this just wasn't on my to-do list.
    So, we left the son's key in the door (it was LITERALLY stuck and wasn't even turning, so it was impossible for anyone else to pull the key out and let themselves into my house) and started using the top deadbolt lock until we could invest in a new one.  In that time, we've had several people (to include two of our neighbors, the cable guy, the mailman, and the UPS delivery man) point out that our key was still in the door.  
    "We know," I'd tell them all, then would fidget with the lock to see if by some miracle, the key was removable, yet.  The movie, "Sword in the Stone" comes to mind.  It was confirmed that not even King Arthur himself could turn this piddly little key, and I've been delaying having to shell out the $130 for about a month, now.
    Yesterday, I was inspired to, once and for all, get out the tool box and see what I could do.  There had to be SOMETHING going on inside the lock, some reason the key wouldn't turn.  The sun was out and I wouldn't be freezing if I stood in the doorway and did some investigating.  In between shooing the cats from the wide-open door, I managed to take the whole thing apart.  The key remained in the lock and despite all the jiggling and button pressing and tinkering, it was LOOKING like I needed to invest that $130.  I needed to now put it all back together, or there would literally be a hole in the front door that the neighbors, cable guy, postman, UPS man would ALL be able to see through.  
    The first time I put it back together, I found that I couldn't even turn the KNOB now. 
    Screwdriver got thrown.  Slew of obscenities flew out of my mouth.
    Picked up phone to text J to see if she'd pick up a lock set on her way home from work - but decided against hitting 'send.'  I was going to try this again - I REALLY didn't want to spend $130!!!
    Picked screwdriver up, and in the process, scared the cat who had gone over to investigate it. 
    Took apart the knob and handle again, did some more tinkering, and apparently, all of my swearing must have helped, because not only was the knob turning now, but, out came the key, too.
    I screwed in for the second time the knob and handle.  Confirmed that the inside knob was now turnable post-screwing and the button on the handle was press-able.  I wasn't brave enough to try the freed key yet because I wasn't confident enough in my hardware skills to say it wouldn't get stuck again.  Nevertheless, I texted the wife to let her know that I didn't know exactly how, but that I'd fixed the door and saved us a trip to Home Depot.  Not that there was one planned, but it was likely having to be planned soon!
    Small update on this, since this was yesterday's excitement - I did end up trying the key when I returned it to the Son - I locked myself outside and used the key to let myself back in.  He's now put it back onto his keyring and I'm patting myself on the back.  
    $130 is a lot of fucking money to save, isn't it?  Yeah, I thought so.
    So, it's confirmed.  Gone (for now) are the days of having to explain to houseguests that the key being left in the door was NOT a result of absentmindedness and that it was because the lock, somehow, was stuck.  
    Please don't ask me how I fixed it.  I couldn't tell you.  
    So, this opens the door (no pun intended, or maybe it IS?) to conversing about something that I've come to realize over the last few weeks.
    People have been trying to fix ME for years.  
    My mother was first.  I came out 'defective' and with two bad ears.  They told her I'd NEVER speak (big surprise, I'm sure, to those who know me now - I'm not an overly loud person but if I'm comfortable with someone, I do NOT shut up!) and she made it her personal mission to 'correct' the doctors and audiologists.  She made it a priority to raise me as she would a hearing child.  Sign language was out of the question.  I had no deaf friends.  I don't know if this caused more damage, socially (it likely did) but it was almost definitely a result of her trying to 'fix' me.   Yes, when she realized she had a deaf child, she did rise to the occasion and did whatever she could to to make sure that I thrived, regardless of how.  It's HARD to say whether she had my best interests in mind, or it was more so in her own to have as 'normal' as possible a child.
    My parents also tried to 'fix' me by taking me to therapy as a child - I will never know their real reasons for introducing therapy into an 8-year-old child's life but have very deep suspicions it is for the behaviors that I was demonstrating - behaviors indicative of being exposed to CSA.  This is something my mother was never willing to see, even though the signs were all there.  As far as she was concerned, I was not behaving normally, and it needed to be fixed.  Oddly enough, she decided that there was enough 'fixing' done after a year and I was unexplainably yanked from therapy.  The behaviors continued well into my teen years, so I don't know - while I don't want to say the effort was wasted, I don't see that there was any resolution, either.
    As some of you know, I became recklessly promiscuous following the rape in 1996.  There was partner after partner - both men and women.  Some knew more than others as far as my history - and some insisted that I just needed to be "taught" how to enjoy sex.  "Just let me try this," they'd say while I laid there, TRYING not to flip out, "you will like it, trust me."  There was ultimately NO 'fix' here, but they sure as hell tried!
    My ex-husband tried to 'fix' me by pointing out EVERYTHING I did wrong.  It didn't matter if it wasn't illegal-kind of wrong - if it was not up to his standards, it was wrong.  Yes, he used manipulation more often than he did not, and he was SO talented at getting me to actually BELIEVE him.  I believed him enough at one point to completely transition into the mindset that if things weren't done HIS way, then they were automatically incorrect. And so, even though his 'right way' of doing things didn't necessarily match mine, I went out of my way to ensure HE was happy. 
    Reflecting on all of this - I think I always thought I was broken - even as a young child.  Here was everyone telling me what I needed to do, what was best for me, what would work, what wouldn't.  Rather than take the reins myself (when I was old enough to), I placed my trust into the wrong people and listened to them instead of listening to myself.  Instead of chalking things up to opinion, I'd say, "sure, I'll try this.  Sure, I'll do that.  Whatever you think will fix the problem, I'll do."  I suppose trusting myself to make better choices was always an issue, perhaps even more so after enduring trauma, but that's just another factor to consider as I try to get to the bottom of this.
    If I wasn't broken before, this definitely is what did it.  All of the 'fixing' others have tried to do, only succeeded in breaking me further.
    I know there's only one person that can truly fix me.  Right - me, myself, and I.  That's it.  It just became SO easy to let others guide me - they'd been doing it so long and I never had the confidence (or motivation) to speak up for myself.  Having this newfound confidence scares me now as I'm not used to fixing anything other than unruly doorknobs or a tech issue here and there.  I'm now recognizing the difference between what needs to be fixed and what was never broken and am wondering just how much was even necessary!
    Has this made it harder for me to fix myself?  Maybe THIS is why I'm feeling particularly stuck nowadays, why these 'grown-up' decisions are seeming so hard?  No one suggested going back to school, starting up with counseling, participating in a local Survivors Art/support group.  These were all things I took on, by myself, as a first step toward fixing my own way of thinking.  
    The only fixing I'm going to do for the rest of tonight is that of dinner.  London Broil on the barbecue - sun's still out and it's a good grilling day. 
    Back next time.  Hoping you're all having a good day!
    Peace, love and hugs,
    - Capulet
  6. Capulet
    As promised, the update on yesterday's family gathering - dual birthday party for my nephew (5) and my niece (1).  I meant to update earlier but a status update seemed more appropriate - admittedly, I was a ball of nerves, and my mother wasn't helping matters any.  There was much to say, much swirling around in my already-busy brain, but I figured, lemme get through the day, first - let me recuperate (with or without Lucy's 5-cent therapy) and THEN I'd write on this.
    To backtrack, my sister decided to invite my mother's brother to a birthday celebration for her kids - he is a person who, just hearing his name, sets me off into a fit.  We all know that she tried to get my father to chauffeur him home from the birthday party - as he would have to pass through the town the Uncle lived in on his way home.  I was put in a very uncomfortable position when this originally came up and had no choice but to drop it at the time of discussion.  It was either that, or open up a can of worms that I wasn't ready to open.  
    I agonized over this upcoming party for two months.  Over seeing him, over what would happen after seeing him, over the what-if-I-lose-my-shit-publicly question.  In that two months, I've had enough 'other things' happen that this just seemed - STUPID - to think about.  It wasn't an easy couple months - we lost a pet, we've hit some financial hard times, and we've had to refocus on the positive things in order to make the time go by faster.  The only problem with that - this party crept up quicker than I thought it would.
    After my sister texted me to ask me to show up an hour early to help 'set up' for the party, I texted Oompa to ask if I'd be walking into any surprises.  She'd mentioned briefly (or she might have mentioned more but whenever she says ANYTHING about her brother, I develop amnesia and out comes the usual response: 'oh, okay...') that he was back in the hospital sometime last month.  I will gladly admit to you all that I HOPED this meant he wouldn't still be coming, being unhealthy and all that.  Regardless, she responded to my text with, "what do you mean?"
    I asked her flat-out then, "is L going to be there?"
    She confirmed yes, he was still going to be in attendance.  And then followed up with, "do me a favor and please just say hello to him.  Then you can ignore him for the rest of the afternoon.  And have the kids say hello, too."
    I didn't like this AT ALL, but said I'd wave.  I didn't say though, that he'd see me wave.  And I told her I was NOT going to ask my kids to say hello to him.  He was nobody to them - (and not for nothing, the daughter barely says hello to people she DOES know!) - and it didn't matter to me whether or not they chose to say hello - it was up to them.
    She probably didn't like that at all, but said nothing more.  We arrived at the party early enough to help my sister set things up.  When he showed up, J made sure I was clear across the room. And my J had been asking me for weeks already - why am I even going to this thing?  That kitchen confrontation between me and my parents should have resulted in a firm 'if he's going to be there, I will not be going.'  And, to a point, she's right.  If this was anything BUT a birthday party for my autistic nephew who would likely have been disappointed if I didn't go - I probably would have made that statement.  So I said I'd go for him, for my nephew, whom I have no intention of ever disappointing - and that I'd do everything in my power to avoid my uncle and focus on the kids instead.
    Which I did manage to do yesterday.  I didn't say hello, I didn't make eye contact, I didn't wave, and when I saw him being 'led' around (he can't walk without assistance), I simply walked into the opposite direction.  (HUGE shout-out to my cousin who unknowingly rescued me from his path by asking me if I wanted to get a cup of coffee from the dessert table!  Well-timed, and well-played, cousin!)  
    There were times when I'd glance at him - at how pathetic he was.  He looks disheveled, dirty, unshaven.  Don't get me wrong, he was ALWAYS disgusting looking - more so to me than to anyone else, perhaps, but even more so now that I am grappling with whether he is responsible for the things I understand on a very deep level but cannot remember.  Everything I find disgusting about him is amplified, a hundred-fold.  Even the daughter wrinkled her nose at the sight of him - and the son was heard (even if only by J) calling him 'the molester' and questioning why he'd been invited.  I responded to them both to simply ignore him if they wished - that was what I was doing.  My guess is - they'd been told by the wasband that he was an unsavory sort and simply didn't care to ask their father to elaborate.  They kept their distance, though - which was relieving.
    I waited until he'd left the building before using the bathroom, which was inconveniently located behind where he was sitting.  Holding my bladder for a couple of hours, to me, was WELL worth it!
    After the party, we went to get some food at Applebee's.  Oompa texted me when we were waiting to get our check.
    "Did you say hello to your uncle?"
    I stared at my phone for about five minutes.  No, I hadn't.  I had made sure to avoid contact, simply because I didn't want to see him.  I knew that a 'hello' would have turned into a conversation.  Rather than risk saying something I didn't feel was best said at a kiddy party, I had decided against even the wave.  I didn't want him even LOOKING at me, which I'm sure couldn't be avoided.  For a few minutes, I considered telling my mother that I had waved but didn't think he saw me...but why lie?  She'd only ask if he saw me wave.  And we'd end right back up at square one.
    "No, I didn't," I decided that the truth was better, and texted back.
    She came back with, "Yet, you said you would say hello for my sake."
    The idea of telling her I waved but he didn't see me, once again paraded through my mind. Instead, I said, "I didn't want to end up having a conversation with him.  I have nothing to say to him."
    "I didn't ask you to have a conversation with him," she said, "I just asked that you say hello.  You know that when I ask you for something, there's usually a reason."
    "Oh, yeah?" I shot back, "What was the reason, then?"
    She said she couldn't discuss it then.  She likely had my sister's nose peering over her shoulder - or she was on the phone with him, and he was probably bitching about that niece (and her kids) who didn't even acknowledge he existed.  
    Either way, I very honestly don't give a shit.  There is absolutely NO reason whatsoever that would make my saying hello to a pedophile, a good one.  I AM sure I'll hear about it when she comes to visit in a couple weeks - J and I have already discussed what possible reasons there could be - maybe his recent hospital visit has revealed that he's finally going to be dead soon?   
    * Side note - I just had a nice mental image of him bending over, looking into the hole that will become his final resting place - and me walking by, kick-shoving him into that hole and continuing on my merry way....yeah, just thought I'd leave that there.   It is one thing that made me smile yesterday amidst all the mixed-in bouts of anxiety.  But it certainly conveys how much I've been looking forward to hearing that he's another step closer to the eternal fires of Hell.
    Anyway - when that 'reason' (Oompa's reason, that is, whether or not it matches the one I'm fantasizing about) is revealed - I'll be sure to let you all know as I'm sure you're all as curious as I am.  For now, though, I can only assume that he's not doing well, health-wise, and my mother is trying to eliminate any 'guilt' on my part for not having been cordial toward him when I saw him last.  This just further confirms that Oompa is completely clueless.  And ANY thoughts of someday telling her MY reasons for hating this man are now further away from ever being made a reality.  There is just NO way that I can trust her with it - all I'll be left with is even MORE invalidation....and really, who wants that?  Show of hands?
    Yeah, I didn't think so.
    In the meantime, I'd like to thank each and every one of you who rode in my pocket yesterday.  I felt you all there, and love you all.  
    This'll be a short-ish entry tonight; I'll be back later this week with an update on the 'other' stuff.  There's lots to share, but for now, I wanted to just clear this off of my mind.  As always, comments and thoughts (and guesses on the 'reasons') welcome - we could probably get our bets in before Oompa's visit during the first week in April and it might be fun to see who's right!?  
    Either way - I am sending you all love and hugs and plenty of well wishes.  Hoping your weekend went well!
    Until next time.
    - Capulet
  7. Capulet
    I'm not sure which to believe, first. 
    The fact that I received an email from the University that I applied to transfer into this coming fall - at 12:02am in the morning.  Someone was apparently in the office VERY late, despite this coming week being Spring Break...
    .....that I've been accepted for the Fall 2019 term and will be working toward my Bachelor's of Science in Social Work.  
    I've previously made this goal of mine known - but until a few nights ago, it was simply that - just a goal.  I knew that there were going to be additional processes behind it.  There were going to be more steps to take in order to make this goal a reality and I am now another step closer - I've decided not to apply anywhere else as my first choice has accepted me.  I'll be submitting the 'hold my place' fee (an amount that's going to be somewhat painful to throw anywhere other than toward this year's heating bill) later this week and I've spoken to my VR counselor asking her for an appointment as soon as she's able.  In the meantime, I'll be shifting focus onto applying for the state grants, for financial aid, and all the other required, headache-inducing, FUN stuff that's needing to be done prior to registration for classes.
    I remember feeling this way, before.  23 years ago, when I held my first college acceptance letter in my hand.  I'm going to college.  I'm in that final stretch of road that lays between being a kid and being someone with a job, a title, a purpose.  
    Little did I know that almost immediately following my entrance into college the first time around, that path would crack and split off into multiple additional directions that I didn't anticipate ever having to take.  It was no longer a straight line for me.  In order to get to where I needed to be, there were now unexpected detours that although I would have LOVED to step over whatever obstacle obstructing my path from A to B, I felt forced into having to take the longer, more unfamiliar route.  Much can be said for changed plans and shattered aspirations but it's always worse when you don't see it coming.  And in an instant - everything that I knew about myself was now gone. Everything I wanted to do - also gone.  My dreams?  Some remained, but they were now cloudy; and this thick murkiness enveloped them all - sort of a message to the 17-year-old me that in order to see these dreams clearly again, I was going to have to wait for the fog to clear, first.
    Yeah, trauma IS that powerful.   
    My assault did not happen on campus.  It did, however, happen four weeks in - when there was still that 'I'm in college,' disbelief.  My toe had been dipped; but there was still much to get used to.  People to figure out.  Lots to discover, including who I was - something that would only become seemingly impossible as time went on.  
    See, when I started college in 1996, I didn't really have a plan.  I wanted to do something with writing.  I thought being a playwright or scriptwriter would be ideal for me, the thought of writing for the stage and screen was an exciting one.  At this point in my life, I had become very shy, very withdrawn.  Perhaps that's one of the 'deaf things' my mother likes to throw forward as a possible reason for any of my 'odd behavior.'  
    On that note, yes, there existed little thoughts that I'd learned to not spend time with.  The thoughts were present but were not considered for rethinking.  Just as soon as one would pop up at a random opportune moment, it would disappear just as quickly.  I remained oblivious (if simply not remembering counts) to the possibility of previous trauma and the aftereffects until I was seventeen.  Until trauma looked me directly in the eye, there was that thought that lingered deep within that there was something wrong with me - based on the behaviors I remember having as a child.  As these thoughts had been forced (by myself, mostly) to sit dormant in the furthest recesses of my mind, I had been plodding along, just taking it day by day.  No one brought any of it up, so in turn, I did not, either.  Any concern surrounding my odd behavior had been dismissed so long ago at this point, and I'd effectively been led to believe that it was my overactive imagination that birthed these thoughts - nothing more, nothing less. 
    Either way, I was a watcher, not a participator.  I watched people from afar, took mental notes of their personalities, they'd sometimes inspire the creation of a fictional character in one of my plays, that I'd write in a spiral notebook since this was way before I had my first computer.  Scenarios played out in my thoughts, and I'd write them down.  I'd then mentally cast my favorite actors and actresses into the roles of my characters.  I didn't consider this a life ambition nor did I think it'd get that far and that I'd be sitting next to Steven Spielberg one day, but it was a thought, it was a goal, it was a direction, even though my brain told me that it wasn't a reasonable one.  There was nothing else that spoke to me - no other career aspiration - perhaps this is because Oompa threw them all at me and said they were good ideas.  Even as a child/teenager, she was forever trying to manipulate me into making choices she wanted me to make and to 'shape' me into what she thought was best, with little consideration for what I wanted or believed.  
    "You should be a teacher," Oompa said to me, once.  "What about for a deaf school?"
    "Why not?  You're good with kids.  You're a success story and you could be an inspiration!"
    Yes, I do have a way with children - I'm the favorite aunt, I'm the one who gets on the floor and plays with the kids at family gatherings, but that's generally because I prefer the company of my nieces and nephew in place of their parents and I don't see them as often as I'd like.  However, Oompa was a teacher.  I do NOT want to follow in my mother's footsteps in ANYTHING I do.  While I do sincerely love my mother and DO owe much of my 'success' today to 'early intervention,' I harbor a very deep, hard-to-find-at-times resentment for her - there was much she could have handled differently while raising me.  While there was much she did do, there were also things she neglected - things having nothing at all to do with my hearing disability.  
    At this point, bygones are bygones, and I've put into place an impenetrable barrier when it comes to her.  It has taken YEARS, but I've managed to establish a distance between my mother and me; it has become increasingly necessary to do so as I got older and wiser.  Admittedly, moving two hours away from her has helped, too.  
    Anyway, my first time around, I chose a major in Liberal Arts/English.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but was hopeful that eventually a different path would present.  Little did I know that one would, but in the most unfavorable way imaginable.  While the goal I have today took over two decades to become clear, I spent most of my first three years of college in a daze.  I'd been raped shortly after the beginning of my collegiate journey and I was still trying to deal with that aftermath of that while balancing the 'basic' introductory courses.  I wasn't thinking about anything other than just getting through the current day.  I was directionless, I was unmotivated, and I was LOST.  I was doing just the minimum needed to pass the class - that was pretty much it.  There was no longer any excitement, there was no longer any visibility on the road that lay before me.  All I had left of that was the faint memory of what it looked like BEFORE - and I was proceeding in hopes of not stumbling over an obstacle that had fallen when that illusion of a perfectly mapped-out future had blown up in my face.
    It was almost a relief finding myself pregnant with the Son in the middle of my third year.  In a way, I took it as a sign - that I needed to begin to focus on things that I knew were a sure thing.  It was time to stop wandering aimlessly.  Impending motherhood was now more important to me than trying to balance schoolwork that I just wasn't of the frame of mind to be doing.  And to what end?  I had no idea where I was going - I was going to graduate in another year or so, but then what?  Life was going to again, change drastically for me in a matter of months.  It made no sense to continue on a path toward the unknown.
    And so, I dropped out in 1999, telling myself that one day, when I was able to identify a newly paved road to a destination that was doable, I'd revisit the idea of picking up where I left off.   
    I announced late last year that I was ready to consider going back to school.  The Son is now in his second semester of his freshman year in college and my daughter is in the seventh grade.  I've spent the last nearly nineteen years of my life making sure they each had everything they needed.  I put their needs, along with those of the wasband and my stepchildren, before my own.  I gave little to no thought on what my purpose was, other than to be a wife and mother.  Although I will always be Mom to my children and a wife to my committed partner of ten years, I am now ready to be something more.  I am ready to work toward a career title, and I am ready for my reach to exceed that of what I'm used to.  I'm ready for all of it.
    Again, Oompa, who was, I believe, most excited to hear my announcement, pushed the idea of my working toward becoming a teacher.  Again, I told her no.  She suggested a few other things she thought I'd be good at - some having to do with working with deaf children, since I was still considered a 'success story.'  Likely, she'd want some more bragging rights reserved for when I graduated and was now working as whatever she recommended.  After all, my successes were because of her, didn't you know?  I shot those ideas down, too.
    I've previously shared with you all my aspirations to become a Social Worker.  Oompa's soured expression was what further solidified this choice for me - she was SO sure that I would agree with her that social workers don't break the bank with their paychecks and I'd pick something that she'd initially recommended...her wisdom wasn't to be discounted, after all.  'It's hard work,' she also said.  I wasn't sure whether to be offended that she was thinking I couldn't handle it, or to say, 'yes but because of your early intervention, I'm fully capable of a little hard work.'  In hindsight, saying the latter would have shut her up immediately, but it's one of those thoughts that come to light days after the conversation had ended.  
    For the first time in years, I stood my ground and told her that I wanted to become a Social Worker - and that was my goal - period.  I did NOT want to be a teacher.  I did NOT want to be an advocate for the deaf.  I did NOT want to 'apply to a trade school so that it was easier and I could start working sooner rather than later.'  I had started distancing myself from my mother prior to the age of 17, and I never shared with her details of my trauma.  I just never felt safe doing so.   That being said, I don't expect her to understand what mainly steered me in the direction of Social Work with a focus on Sexual Assault Counseling and Advocacy - but at this point - I am past the point of attempting to explain anything to her.  Her thoughts no longer MATTER to me - and little by little, I am finding myself becoming FAR more vocal with her when I disagree. You've likely seen a recent example of this with my recent decision to lease a Jeep (my choice) over a Subaru (her recommendation)...
    So, now, here I am, with the acceptance email in front of me.  Y'all know my tendency to ramble, and I'll try to wrap up soon, I promise.   I came here to blog about something very specific I am feeling, and all that's been said before the mention of my mother, well - it's not unimportant, but it's for the most part, supporting information.
    So, without further ado...
    How do I feel about this acceptance?  You'd think I'm whoop-whooping and clapping to myself in anticipation of finally completed some of the required steps to re-commit to going back to school.  But I'm not.  I can't stop looking at this letter, and although I am happy and I am pleased with myself for taking the steps I've taken, all of my doubts are coming back to say hello.
    I feel something.  Maybe many somethings, but for sure, it's not as simple as I'd like for it to be.
    I've got jitters.  Yes, definitely.
    I don't want to say I'm excited because I'm not sure that's what it is.  There IS some excitement though - knowing I've made good on the promise to myself to re-focus on my education is something I'm proud of.  I'm so used to doing for others, and doing for myself is rare.  Another thing to take pride in is having found something that, although under circumstances that I'd love to say weren't a contributing factor,  I can truly focus on building a career in.  
    I'm nervous.  I'm starting to wonder if this is indeed best.  Not because of what I've decided what I wanted to do by now - but because I've been out of the 'school loop' for so long, now - I'm used to life being the way it is now - to take on school would bring forth VERY drastic changes.  I know I stated above that it's something I'm ready to do - but I'm finding that the more ready you are, sometimes the doubt is stronger.
    Changes are, for me, VERY uncomfortable.  I am sure I am not alone in this - change is not easy for many.  I'm not completely in the dark on what college life entails, but...I'm 40, now.  I've spend the last 19 years building a life that didn't involve me conforming to schedules, doing homework, meeting deadlines.  I'm no longer a spring chicken, and I wonder if starting over at my age is even what 's best.  
    I know - we never stop learning, it's never too late to get that degree, you can be furthering your eduction until the day you die - I know all this, I have even said this to others.  I have to admit that a part of me anticipates there being somewhat of a sadness when I show up to my first class and I'm surrounded by kids my son's age, who are fresh out of high school and are going to get to travel that straight-line road that I was unfairly denied.  
    I am going to be not only required to emerge from within my 'bubble,' my comfort zone, in order to attend classes - I'll also be meeting new people, there will be discussions I'll have to participate in, there may come a time where I'll have to speak in class.  All of these possibilities are constantly circling my brain because this is what I do remember having to do 20 years ago (my first rodeo) and I was the same social disaster back then.  Understandably, there are going to be times I will have to say to myself, "Cap - this is all a part of your overall healing journey.  To put yourself out there is to re-learn how to establish a comfortable place within society."  I have been a self-proclaimed hermit for the last several years, and this, I FULLY expect to have some issues with in the beginning, as I attempt to emerge from this mental cocoon I've become so comfortable staying hidden inside of.
    I'm terrified because I know that my goal to become a Social Worker is going to REQUIRE I become somewhat comfortable using my voice, being around others, looking others in the eye when I speak to them.  I am going to need to learn to approach others, start conversations, learn to communicate in ways that don't involve writing emails or messages.  I know that I cannot be forced by anyone other than myself to do these things.  Even to self-push isn't always recommended but it certainly IS something that I've decided I need to work on as I proceed on my own personal healing path.  In fact, going back to school can be seen as intertwining two positive steps toward a better me.  It's inspiring but also scares the ever-loving shit out of me.
    I'm also sad - because there is great irony in one of the reasons contributing to my dropping out - now becoming something that is motivating my return to school.  That cannot be missed.  
    I know that all this seems...well, silly.  At least, it does to me - I know that a lot of time has gone by since 'the first time around' and that I should be embracing these upcoming changes as I am now approaching them from an adult perspective.  I know am not the same person I was at 17.  I'm more mature now.  I won't be attending any parties.  I won't be putting myself into any potentially dangerous situations. These changes are good for me - they're healthy, they're ambitious.  They're decisions I've made without pressure from anyone else.  And deep down, I know that some of these concerns are probably unreasonable and I'll likely be just fine.  I just feel it is important to be honest with myself and with whomever reads this - honest and truthful about what has been attacking all of my recent feel-good thoughts and leaving behind ones of impending failure.  
    I think, though, that there's also another thing to add to what I'm still having trouble believing.  That the fog has cleared, and the road ahead has become more visible.  There is no longer any debris for me to navigate over, around, under, etc.  There is once again - a straight path from here to where my degree awaits.  I'd taken a serious detour - but now, there is a part of me that is back where I was when I was seventeen - standing at the beginning of the road (be it made out of yellow bricks or not) and eager to get started on the rest of my life - and then there is a part of me that is fearful of that road unexpectedly changing AGAIN.  It doesn't even have to be in the form of trauma - change is brought forth in SO many different ways and I've too often seen things not work out the way people hope they do.  I'm just so used to things not happening the way I'd expect them to - why should this be any different?
    In closing, I am asking for all of your good thoughts and well wishes as I begin this brand-new walk; there's still much to be done to put my butt into a chair by the time September rolls around.  In the meantime, I've decided that now that I've had a chance to write on them, I'll say no more on my 'unreasonable' fears and instead just focus on what I CAN do to make it all a reality.  Still, some motivation wouldn't hurt!  
    That'll be it for today, I think.  I've a date with the online FAFSA tonight and tomorrow with filling out some more paperwork for the VR counselor - slowly but surely, and despite the unwelcome self-doubts, I am getting the needed steps taken.  And here's another thing I cannot believe I'm hearing myself say - but I'm proud of myself for getting to this point.  
    Hoping you're all doing well.  Until next time, friends.  
    - Capulet
  8. Capulet
    Hello, all!  
    In the interests of keeping up with this blog, I'm back for the second time this week.  I guess we have my overly chatty brain to thank for the increased nocturnal blog activity but if no one's complaining, I'm not, either.  On the sleep front, things have improved, although I might have just jinxed myself by speaking of my weekend success - it wasn't even Melatonin that caused me to crash the last couple nights - it was pure exhaustion!  But I've gone to bed around 2am the last couple nights - and would awaken around - get this - 9!!!  SEVEN hours of sleep!  I do not remember any dreams, any jolts, any tossing and turning. I'm sure the restlessness will start up again next week, though - it always seems to find me.  
    So - a question to start you off with.  
    Have any of you ever been told you were too close to a situation to see the potential for it to become unhealthy or toxic?
    This is indeed something that I've had happen throughout the last several years of my life.  Others will tell me they've seen certain behaviors of someone I am/was close to - and my natural response is always to defend.  I'm constantly looking for the good in people - I've seen plenty of bad and honestly, I'd like to consider that moving forward, there's more favorable qualities in others than there are undesirable ones.  In reality, we all have difficult people in our lives.  Family members for some, friends or co-workers for others.  Sometimes this label even extends to acquaintances.  Point is - we all encounter others we may perhaps identify as difficult - I'll eat my hat if you can tell me you don't know a single person who makes it HARD for you to communicate with, to have patience with, someone who plucks your every nerve, someone who is a threat to your emotional, mental, or physical (in some cases) well-being.
    It's been brought to my attention that this has happened MANY times in my life.  As a kid, I craved friendship - I didn't have many, because I was the 'different' one.  I was quiet, I kept to myself, I was shy.  I wasn't unfriendly; I just wasn't the one to initiate conversation.  And, so, whenever someone else did, I trusted easily.  I often overcompensated and emotionally gave more than I was receiving - and friendships quickly became one-sided.  Not because of anything I did, but possibly because whatever someone needed from me - they got and had moved on.  It's not a pattern I'm proud to say I have gotten sucked into, more than once.
    And then, people warned me about the wasband. "He's abusive."  "He's controlling you."  I didn't listen.  I stayed put for eight years - and for the entire time, defended him to everyone, as a faithful wife should - but deep down, knew that when any wife starts to question her own words, it becomes evident that she is simply too close, too biased.  She's missing a lot.  I missed a lot.  I'm strong enough now to admit this, but for a long time, I was ashamed - I felt STUPID for not having seen this before.  With him or with anyone else.
    Have you ever gone to a movie and realized that the theater was overcrowded and you'd be doomed to sit in the front row, the only place where seats were available?  This results in that larger-than-life screen and you know that you're SURELY not going to be comfortable with your head tilted back as far as possible for the next two hours or so. You're also finding that no matter how much you try to follow it all, you're still too close to see the FULL picture, even if it's right in front of your face.  You're still going to miss what's happening on the other end of the screen, because all you CAN see is whatever cinematically unfolds in front of you - never mind what's happening in the background, that sleight-of-hand move by another character, facial expressions, a wink here or there.  For me, I miss a lot of audio clues in movies, too, and the captions do help somewhat...but this really isn't about the movies.  
    Surely, someone who has gotten to know my love for the use of analogies can tell that there is one about to come.
    Now, say you decide to go see the same movie again - you get to the theater early, this time, and score seats closer to the back.  Now, you can see the ENTIRE screen.  You have successfully distanced yourself and can now see things more clearly.  Your perception is heightened.  You're seeing what's in the background, you're seeing how EVERYTHING comes into play.  Your eyes, along with your brain, now show you things that you might have known were there all along, but also further clarifies it all for you.  Slowly, you start to realize those little things you missed the first time around.  Important clues are revealed - and in some cases, there is the slow realization that maybe, just maybe, there is some truth to the original statement. 
    "You were too close to see what was wrong..."
    What am I getting from this epiphany-slash-analogy?  Well - for starters, I can choose to stay where I am in that front row and to remain oblivious to those 'extra' missed things that may or may not be important - or I can choose to back up and re-evaluate when I'm told that I'm missing things.  And it isn't always something I have to be told.  No.  Sometimes things (on their own) just don't sound right - and I get this nagging feeling deep down inside that something's off, something's wrong.  
    And, who wants that?  As survivors, we already have enough uncertainty in our lives - why would we possibly need or want any more!?  Seriously - the simplest traits like honesty are even more vital to us, because we've had more than our fair share of our trust being broken.  So, naturally, we prefer to sit with the rose-colored glasses on, even when we've the smallest inkling that it's not quite right.  To have to deal with the reality that it's not copacetic, is sometimes even worse.
    I'll admit that I don't ever want to have to adjust perspectives, but it's also safe to say that sometimes it's 100% necessary to do so.  It's an effective means of self-protection - and I've found that lately, I've had to resort to such measures.  In the past, I've ignored when something wasn't adding up - I questioned nothing, and it's gotten me burned in the end.  
    So - my advice to myself - since there is ALWAYS potential of getting burned again - is to make sure I listen to myself, to that little voice that tells me when I need to move away from the situation so that I can get a better look at it.  I owe it to myself to do so, and to start following my instincts.
    On that note, Tuesday is movie/date night - we WILL be arriving at the theater at least five to ten minutes before the previews start - when we went to see 'Venom,' we arrived just as the last preview was ending - and it was the front row for us both.  NOT fun!  And that was an ACTION movie - not easy when you're up close and personal.  No cricky neck needed but a cricky neck we received as penalty for not arriving early. 
    Anyhow - I sincerely hope everyone's had a great weekend and is having a wonderful night.  Mine will shortly be coming to an end and I'll be shooting for a third night of uninterrupted sleep - wish me luck.  
    Until next time,
    - Capulet
  9. Capulet
    Sleep.  A very simple word, yet so complex.  Such a natural thing, we all do it.  We spend most of the beginning of our lives sleeping - and I guess, sometimes, the very end, too.  We all know how to do it - we rely on it to revitalize and to refresh.  
    I USED to know what sleep was.  I used to both love and hate it.  Now, I just plain hate it and WISH I could love it.
    I fought it when I was little.  I was the typical 'five more minutes?' kid when told to go to bed when I was in grade school.  Sometimes I would be forced to go to bed at 8:30, when MacGyver was on from 8-9.  I know, who does that?  My mother, that's who!  I'd plead with her, but when the 8:30 commercial came on, she'd clap her hands and tell me it was bedtime - she'd tape the rest.  And this was back in the day when we had to record on VHS - more often than not, it'd not even record properly and I'd have to wait for the re-run. Still, there was no arguing with Oompa - if I didn't go to bed on time and when I was told, she'd make me go to bed a half hour EARLIER the next night!
    FYI, Angus MacGyver (the Richard Dean Anderson version) was the first man I ever had a crush on.  I remember going to bed wishing he'd save me.  Maybe it was because I would be pouting over missing the second half of the episode but even on non-MacGyver nights, I'd lay there and dream up scenarios where he'd swoop in and rescue me.  From what, you ask?  I don't know.  I was maybe 9.  This was not a time I suspect anything was happening during - but perhaps subconsciously, I knew something wasn't quite right and I was in search of a hero.  And MacGyver was my favorite - mullet and all - he always saved the day.  Or night.  He was my superhero, one that didn't fly or shoot lasers out of his eyes - but still someone who, although fictional, made me feel safe.
    I was a sleepwalker in childhood, too.  I am unable to say for sure when this started but it was MOSTLY stopped before I hit my teens, although there were a couple of isolated incidents as a teenager.  This, I don't know too much about, save the 'stories' my parents would tell me - they saw me walk the hallways, they wondered if I was up for a midnight snack - I'd open and close kitchen cabinets, I'd wake up with no memory of any of it, and it was never really made a big deal of - it was normalized - and I wonder sometimes if this was done so in order to further prior coverups/explanations that this was another 'deaf' thing.   
    Another unusual sleep-related event that is probably pertinent to mention - I was (and still am) a rocker.  I rock to FALL asleep.  I rock IN my sleep.  I rock as a prerequisite to sleep - sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for several - before flopping onto my belly and finally being ready to fall asleep.  This started in very early childhood - the self-rocking prior to sleep.  'It's a security thing,' Oompa had said, 'maybe it's because you can't hear?'  (I've yet to meet another deaf rocker, so I honestly don't think this has anything to do with hearing - especially since Oompa ALSO would try to encourage me to 'stop rocking' by way of incentives and 'rewards.')  Eventually she would also give up on this; perhaps when she realized it was something that couldn't easily be helped and I'd be rocking IN my sleep and in most cases, automatically.  I do remember this being a topic of discussion between her and my T that I saw when I was a child.  This was one of my 'behaviors' that she couldn't make sense of.  One of the behaviors, I think, she felt better attributing to my hearing loss rather than to the possibility of there being something worse.
    In high school, though, I NEVER needed to be told to go to bed.  I was in bed, rocking, by 9pm and I'd STILL give Oompa a hard time when she woke me in the morning.  She worked as a schoolteacher at the time, and she'd wake me in the mornings with a rough swat, shake or a poke - she'd be getting herself ready for work and didn't have time for the gentle, loving wake-ups.  I'd get annoyed and growl, 'I'm UP,' when I, in reality, was still trying to finish the dream I was having and would drift back off as soon as she left the room.  Minutes later, she'd return and she'd be PISSED if I was still sleeping.  
    I STILL remember the time she walked past my room and I still wasn't out of bed.  This particular morning, I wasn't feeling well and was having trouble.  I was propped up by my elbows in bed, not quite asleep but still trying to wake up.  She stormed past my bedroom to get to hers (next door) and when she saw I was still half-covered up with blankets, she hurled a hairbrush at me - like one of those uber-talented knife throwers at the circus - and the thicker part of the brush hit me RIGHT in the middle of my face, which caused my nose to bleed immediately.
    Yep, that got me moving.  And no, she never apologized for that.  I do remember making a smart-ass comment about it, to the effect of, 'do you even realize what you DID to me this morning?'  I want to say there was a moment where she looked slightly remorseful but, 'if you'd gotten up when I woke you - that wouldn't have happened,' was likely what she replied.  The nosebleed went away, but the memory did not.
    (Karma bit me on the ass on this one - MY 12-year-old is VERY difficult to rouse in the mornings!  Still, I do not bring hairbrushes with me when I go wake her - instead, I stand over her until she not only is awake, but is OUT of bed, too.) 
    My mother was not an explainer or a reasoner.  She was a warner, and then a smacker - physical discipline was what she'd been taught in HER childhood - her smacks stung, but were not to the point of being abusive, but still not a means of punishment that I've ever felt the need to take part in when it comes to handling my own kids - she feared the wooden spoon - my kids currently fear the wifi password being changed without their knowledge or their devices being taken away from them.  THAT, is equally as torturous as what I feared as a kid, for no such technology had even been invented yet.  My sisters and I were raised by different men - their father is a screamer - and day after day, he would come home from work and the three of us would sit on the couch and listen to his daily fit.  He'd scream about something.  It didn't matter what it was - something my mother said, something one of us kids did, an issue with the car, an issue with the house, an unexpected bill...no matter - the man screamed for up to an hour - every single night.  I had the luxury of 'turning him off,' (removing the hearing aid was usually the best course of action) and I'd sometimes find a small amount of amusement watching him 'muted.'  There were some VERY interesting facial expressions.   Additionally, he too was a smacker, more so toward his own two kids but I got my share of swats whenever deserved - won't lie.  I had my moments.  MY father, though - was a 'if it's not an issue of needing money, let your mother deal with it' kinda man.  Lord Capulet NEVER raised his voice to me.  He smacked me - ONCE - in my entire forty years of life - and it was one single smack onto my arm.  LOL.  I'll never forget that, actually - I was a teen and mouthed off to his wife, who had been annoying me in some way - hell if I remember what the issue even was.   His palm came down onto my forearm.  Didn't hurt.  Surprised me more than anything and effectively shut me up.  THEN, I got my (90's-style) laptop taken away for a week.
    Anyway - I seem to have strayed from the topic of sleep, which is what I originally set out to discuss.  I'll get back to that, now.  Everything mentioned prior to this was all before the age of seventeen, when the idea of 'normal' sleep would forever change for me.  Aside from the rocking. That remains the case, and this may be a good place to add a shout-out to my J, who has spent almost every night for the last decade, in the same bed as me and thankfully, can sleep through my rocking, rolling, flopping, leg-swinging and kicking, and from time-to-time, talking.   I got a good one.  I know I did.  
    I know I've discussed my poor sleeping habits before - we all know by now how sexual assault can affect sleep - I am no different in that respect. Aside from now wondering if some of these habits originated for reasons I've not yet come to understand clearly, I am finding that it's a constant struggle, even so many years after my own sexual assault.  I was a mother four years later - and mid-night feedings were a piece of cake because I was usually ALREADY up. This was NEVER something that I said to myself, 'Ok, this year, I'm going to get back on track with my sleeping.  I'll go to bed early, I'll get up early, I'll eliminate morning naps, I'll do this, I'll do that.'  Nope.  Never happened.  
    You would think that sleep was something I actually ENJOYED, based on how hard it was for me to get out of bed in my early teen years.  And I want to say I DO like it.  When it comes naturally and without hours of tossing and turning and without unnecessarily dosing myself with NyQuil just for the knock-out effect.  When it didn't usually bring forth unwelcome dreams, night terrors or the jolt-awakes.  Lately, I'm not able to sleep unless I'm EXTREMELY tired - in which case, the rocking lasts for no more than three to five minutes, and then I'm out cold.  Usually, to get to this point, I'll have had to have two or three consecutive nights of restlessness and be fully ready to crash.  I've taken to, though, trying to stay awake/occupied until my eyes are literally closing on me - because if I try to force the issue and go to bed before I'm THIS tired, I will end up tossing and turning and frustrating myself for hours before sleep takes over.  Then, by the time I'm sleepy enough to actually indulge in some REM, it's time to get up to get the daughter ready for school!
    Lately, it's been recommended that I try taking Melatonin twenty minutes before attempting sleep.  Over-the-counter stuff, no prescription was required.  'It works,' I was told.  It's not NyQuil, it's not addicting.  It's safe.
    I might be getting ahead of myself since the recommendation wasn't made directly.  It was actually J who introduced me to the 'swig' before bedtime - it was never really a full dose of NyQuil, but just enough to make her (and me when I'd join her for the swig) drowsy enough to drift off to sleep.  Now J's T has her on additional meds and has recommended Melatonin - something that J is finding hard to do because by now, she's got a long-standing NyQuil dependency.  We did, however, buy two bottles of Melatonin - one containing 5mg doses and the other containing 10mg doses.  
    I started with a 5mg tablet a couple nights ago.  I went to bed around 1am  - popped the Melatonin a little after 12:30.  I did feel tired soon after - and by 1, I was tucking myself in.  Did my few minutes of obligatory rocking and was soon asleep.  
    You'd think having taken a sleep aid would mean I'd sleep for more than two or three hours - I was jolted awake a little before 4am.  I have NO idea what happened here - if I was dreaming, I don't remember it.  It was still pitch-black in our room - usually it needs only for a light to come on three rooms over and I'm awake but that was also not the case.  And then it took me almost another two hours to go back to sleep.  Not too big a deal, but still disheartening.  And it's not even that I'm wide awake; I'm still TIRED after this little sleep, but my body just doesn't want to give in too easily to that deep sleep I crave.
    I've yet to try the 10mg tablet and will do so tonight.  If THIS one yields the same result, I'll assume that my body is simply too used to its current sleep cycles and patterns.  I don't think I'm even capable of sleeping more than three hours, four MAX, at a time.  I might have spent too many years training myself to function on little sleep, and now that I'll be hopefully starting school in September, I'm likely going to have my work cut out for me - trying to undo all these years of trying to avoid real sleep!
    Suppose I'll keep y'all informed.    And no, no real point to this blog entry, other than to say that getting this under control is something I'm going to have to work at.  Something I am going to have to be patient with myself in order to do, and I DO imagine there will be countless more tossy-turny nights before the restful ones show up.  
    But this sleep thing?  This, like so many other things in my life - is a struggle I strive to understand - and something I definitely need to correct.
    Anyway - sweet dreams and good night to you all.  I'm going to give it another try.
    - Capulet
  10. Capulet
    Did I mention how much of a pain in the ass my mother is?  You all might know her as Oompa at this point, but - I might change that to 'pain in the ass.'  She's always going to look like an Oompa Loompa,  but lately this new nickname for her is becoming FAR more appropriate.
    I might have indeed mentioned...but just in case I didn't...
    My. Mother. Is. A. GIANT. Pain in the ass!  I just spent most of this morning arguing with her and one of my lovely readers is likely going to have to front me some bail money because I'm about to be arrested for matricide.  Unless of course, I can 'untwist my panties,' (as she so eloquently put it) by venting here.  It seems like a much safer alternative to jail time, so - here goes.
    The son has pretty much commandeered use of my car - he uses it to get back and forth to the (local) college.  When he goes back to the wasband's on Saturday evenings, he will take the car with him (unless I need it for any other reason) and more often than not, it's with him these days more than it's with me.  That's okay - this was always my intention - let him 'take over' my car - in lieu of a hefty monthly car payment, he would pay for gas, insurance and any other upkeep/maintenance costs on that car - and I would get a new one to ensure I had a means of getting from A to B without having to rely on anyone else.  I've told him this, too - 'you NEED to find a job - if you want to have a car (and I added the usual mom-style pep talk about growing up, becoming responsible, etc) then you NEED to start learning how to budget and manage your money.'  
    As is, we are now living somewhere where 4WD is NEEDED and owning a SUV is highly recommended - and although my existing car (which will soon be the Son's) does not have 4WD and is TERRIBLE in the snow, I don't have the heart to trade it in as it was bought from money my aunt and uncle left me upon their passing.  Rather than the son spend the money (that he doesn't have) on a car that he'll have payments (that he cannot make) on, he can make do with a significantly reduced financial responsibility and use my old car to get to school/work.  It does snow a lot here, but it's NOT a CONSTANT problem - when it does snow, his classes are usually cancelled anyway.  
    I have some money saved - and am now feeling the need to be situated with a car - I'm going to be starting school in the fall, so there's a little time.  However, I've realized that the son is also dragging his feet.  He won't move unless I do.  He had PLENTY of time to find a job during his first semester (last fall) and didn't.  He isn't fully to blame for this, though - the wasband (another VERY accurate addition to my 'Top Five' Pains in the Ass) has been taking the majority of his elder son's and daughter's paychecks, 'to pay house bills with.'  Our son, aside from having an endless supply of self-admitted laziness, is a VERY perceptive and observant young man.  He sees that his older brother and sister NEVER have a penny to their names - they work and hand their paychecks over.  This has been going on for months, already, and my elder stepson, having finally reached his limit, has left the wasband's home and moved back in with his mother.  There was a HUGE blowout between him and the wasband, something I had no idea was happening until AFTER the fact - and long story short, Junior is no longer 'supporting the family,' and MY son has now been told that he now has to take over Junior's job working alongside his sister at HER job.  
    This means, now the son has a job.  Which is what I've been waiting for.  It is my intention to let the wasband know that he's going to need to afford the son a little bit of leniency with his paychecks so that he has the money he'll need in order to maintain the expense of having his own car and possibly his tuition so that he doesn't doom himself to a lifetime of debt. 
    So, how does Oompa fit into all of this?
    Well, for starters, she knows I've been saving up to buy a car.  And now, my savings is starting to dwindle - as we have lately had some hefty financial responsibilities - vet bills, vacation bills, household repairs, etc, all in the last three months.  The vacation we planned on, but the rest, we did not.  So, now, I am of the impression that leasing my next personal-use vehicle is likely my best option.  But being 'President's week,' she has began to urge me to research the sales because 'there are some excellent deals out there.'  Not a lie, but still, considering the window of opportunity is beginning to close on the Son's EVER being in a position to control his own finances, it's time to move.  To top that off, my sister's best friend's husband is a dealer at the Subaru near her and he's 'EXCELLENT' and 'can get me a good deal.'  (Though, likely only on a Subaru.)
    I've always wanted a Jeep.  I've already accepted that I'll not be able to afford the pretty purple Wrangler that sits teasingly in front of the local dealership - but saw today that a local dealership is offering NEW Jeep Cherokees, and I could lease for $169 a month.  I supplied Oompa (the pain-in-the-ass) the phone number and instead of calling THEM to find out more about this 'special,' she called the dealer she knew.  She then mentioned that he wouldn't recommend a Jeep (as no Subaru employee likely would) and that he recommended an Impreza or a Legacy and could get good deals on those cars for me.  We could go see him on Saturday because he got my brother-in-law a good deal on HIS car - he would definitely do the same for me.
    I told her that those cars mentioned were NOT SUVs.  And I had told her previously that I did not want anything other than a SUV.  WHY was she pushing cars?  Apparently, 'they have 4-wheel drive,' but, still.  These are CARS.  I told her, 'I am absolutely not wasting my time looking at cars when I already know what I want."
    "But why do you need such a big car?"  
    I could NOT believe she'd just asked me that.  I've never had a big car/SUV.  Before my Avenger, I had a Neon.  Before that, a Mitsubishi Mirage.  My SISTER, (who is smaller than me) - has a GMC Acadia - that is a VERY large SUV.  Why doesn't she ask HER why she needs such a big car?  She has two kids - who combined, are still much smaller than my 12 year old.  My 18 year old is bigger than ME.  J is bigger and taller than me.  What if I want to take my family somewhere?  We're not all going to fit in a clown car!  
    I told her I had my heart set on a Jeep.  She then proceeds to tell me that I should look them up online - they're not the most reliable, they're not the safest (Subaru is) and they've got bad reputations.  She actually went as far as to say she wouldn't 'cooperate,' should I not agree to keep an open mind and at least LOOK at cars that are 4WD.  Yes, you heard correctly - SHE will not cooperate.  Another manipulation tactic.
    I'm DONE with manipulation.  In the course of my forty years, manipulation has been a constant.  My mother and my ex being the two biggest offenders - the reason for that being they were people I depended on most.  Yes, manipulation indeed goes hand-in-hand with dependency - for if you 'upset' or 'disappoint,' you lose a means of support - whether it is a GOOD source of support is irrelevant.  What matters is, I THOUGHT these people actually were looking out for my best interests, and am sad to realize that this was never the case - it is a matter of what is more convenient for them, what THEY want.  There were almost always ulterior motives.  And I'm not even sure what my mother's motives are, here - was she trying to get my sister's friend's husband a commission?  
    I finally said, 'Look - NOTHING pisses me off MORE than someone who tries to change my mind when I've made it clear what I'm looking for.  I asked you to come along because you're good at negotiating with dealers (she is) and working out the best deals - but If you're not going to cooperate and help me find what I want to find, then I'll go without you and go buy myself a fucking Jeep!'
    That's when she said I should untwist my panties, the dealer would sell me whatever I wanted.  I told her that if this 'excellent' dealer could show me an actual SUV (like the Forester - more the type and size I'm looking for) and beat the lease price of $169 a month for a Jeep, then we'd talk and see about getting him a commission.  But that $169 a month was the right price for a car that I actually wanted - so why WOULD I settle for anything other than that?  Is she paying for the car?  No.  Is she co-signing?  No.  So what's the fucking problem???  Safety?  A Jeep would be safer than what I'm CURRENTLY driving.  They're not known to be reliable? Well, that's why I'm better off LEASING, isn't it?  Repair coverage.  And after the lease is up, I'd be put into a brand-new car.  There's not enough time for something to go wrong with it - if something does, it's covered. 
    As it stands right now, I'm going to the dealership in the morning - armed with my dwindling patience, my checkbook and my manipulation-proof vest - I know all too well how it's going to go.  She's going to try and push those 'cars' on me again - she's going to ask (again) why I need something so big...she'll get J to 'talk some sense into me,' and J is fully prepared to put her in her place - SHE likes Jeeps, too!  It's just sad that I have to be this firm with my mother - at forty years old.  That she still feels the need to control me and she CANNOT just let me make choices without trying to meddle.  She has two other daughters, younger than me, and who LIVE closer to her than I do.  Why can't she bother them!?
    In closing, I will let all of you know tomorrow of the following: 
    Whether I need bail money and where to wire it; (I'll pay you back...someday?)
    Whether I get a new SUV tomorrow or I end up planning to 'buy a fucking Jeep on my own;'
    And whether my mother is still breathing, and carrying on with her usual day-to-day annoyances...she likely will be, as no matter how angry or annoyed or irritated I can get, I could honestly never hurt a fly.
    My tolerance for bullshit is at an ALL TIME low with my mother, and with my ex, both of whom are tied for top pain-in-the-ass!  Some days, I just don't know who's worse.  When I eventually figure it out, I'll let you all know.
    Hoping the rest of you are having a less stressful weekend.
    My best to you,
    - Capulet
  11. Capulet
    Okay - so, Saturday was a LONG, exhausting day.  
    To backtrack - I met Oompa at the Subaru dealership as promised, to meet with the salesman she's been praising for the last week.  He knew I was coming and had wasted no time - he had a new Forester brought out for me to test drive within five minutes of my arrival.  
    I got in, adjusted all the mirrors and seats and took off.  Drove a couple miles down the street, turned around, and drove back.  I didn't like the overall 'feel' of the Forester, although it WAS a nice looking SUV.  I did indeed give it a honest try, which is what I said I would do.  Went back into the dealership and gave the keys back and asked what else Subaru had that fit the criteria.
    Drove a Crosstrek next.  It's a hybrid sorta - between a car and SUV, tires are bigger than those of a normal car - actually about the same size as the tires on a SUV.  I did like the Crosstrek a bit more than the Forester - but anyone who's seen Hotel Transylvania, (the first one) knows - it's important to 'zing.'  According to the movie, you only 'zing' once, when it comes to lovers, but I'm thinking the same applies to cars when we are prepared to empty our bank accounts and buy a new one.  Where there's no 'zing,' I wasn't going to force myself to search for it just to appease Oompa or her favorite car dealer, or anyone else.
    I then asked the dealer if he could show me some Jeeps.  He proceeded to tell me that the Jeep dealership was across the street (it literally was) and that he would have to refer me to his co-worker/colleague/friend.  My mother, who was standing there - turned to the dealer and said, "would you please explain to my daughter that Subarus are safer than Jeeps??"  (I did expect her to try and get someone to talk 'sense' into me - only, I thought it'd be J!) 
    I quickly held my hand up to the dealer and said, "No need."  Then, I turned to my mother, whose mouth was open.  "Ma....stop.  Just stop."
    She asked where the ladies' room was - likely because she was caught off guard.  The dealer pointed out the way.  I told him, honestly, between the Forester and the Crosstrek, I liked the Crosstrek better - but I still wanted to test drive a Jeep - and to see if economically, this was an option for me.  I was NOT going to eliminate that option before fully researching it. 
    He understood.  He made a quick call to his buddy at the Jeep dealership, and across the street we went.  
    Oompa, of course, the whole way - 'but I thought you said you liked the Crosstrek??'  'The guy did say the Crosstrek would be cheaper to lease than the Forester.'  'The Crosstrek is considered a SUV, you know...' (I did show her what a Legacy and what an Impreza looked like, as they were in the showroom.)
    I told her I still needed to a) test drive a Jeep (I'd never driven one before) and b) see what my options were on the car I actually had in mind - if it was not doable, then I'd consider the Crosstrek as a last resort choice.  But I was NOT going to be pushed into making decisions without having ALL of the information - not just the information she wanted me to have.
    Of course, she had to also ask the Jeep dealer about the reputation of Jeeps.  I had to laugh to myself - did she really think a Jeep dealer was going to tell her anything negative about Jeeps???  He looked at her and said, "My daughter drives one.  I have nothing bad to say about the safety of Jeeps."
    That shut her up momentarily, likely because she was secretly hoping that when they came back with the numbers, I'd realize that financially, I would be better off with the last-resort Crosstrek.  I let the dealer know what I was looking for - how much I wanted to pay monthly, how much I was looking to put down, etc.  He said he'd heard from the Subaru guy across the street, and was prepared to give us VIP treatment - same deals, same family and friend discounts as I'd be entitled to if I chose to go with a Subaru.  He then did some checking with their inventory and handed me a set of keys to a 2019 Compass; according to him, this would be the cheapest Jeep option to lease.  I took the keys and J with me for the third test-drive that day.  
    Well - third time was the charm.  I got the zing.  I don't know if it's because my heart was already set on a Jeep.  I'm SURE that if I'd gotten in and realized that I wasn't liking it as much as I thought I would, I would have been the first to admit to Oompa that while the Jeep was nice to look at, driving one just wasn't what I'd thought.  AND I'd have said that perhaps the Crosstrek was a better option.  If not the Crosstrek, I'd have perhaps waited a little bit longer before I decided on a car - because although the Crosstrek wasn't terrible, it wasn't quite what I felt I wanted.  It wasn't ME.
    However - I loved the feel of the Jeep, I loved both the interior and exterior look.  It's comfortable, it's smooth.  Not too big, not too small.  I'm not crazy about the color (white) but I loved the actual vehicle.  
    And this was my car.  Before I even got back into the lot with it, I'd decided.
    I returned to the dealer and asked him to go ahead and run me the numbers.  Oompa, of course, starts with, "But what about the Crosstrek?  Don't you want to go back to Subaru and compare prices to see which one is cheaper?"  Told her no, that even if the Crosstrek was cheaper, I LIKED the Jeep better.  The dealer did chime in that it would only likely be a difference of no more than 15-20 bucks - the amount to put down would be likely similar.  That wasn't enough for me to abandon the idea of a car I actually wanted - to save twenty bucks per month.  No.  I have about three unused cable boxes in the house - getting rid of THOSE would save me twenty bucks a month.
    "All right," Oompa sighed.  "Fine, if that's what you want..."
    So she sat there and shrugged her shoulders and I'm THINKING, pouted over the fact that I'd made this decision without much regard to her opinion - I negotiated, discussed, filled out, dotted i's, crossed t's, signed LOADS of paperwork and a check.  I now have a three-year lease, am completely covered bumper to bumper for the entire 36 months, and have a monthly payment of $210.  The down payment, yes, was a little more than I expected to pay, but included all the fees - registration, plates, all the other 'fun' stuff.  All that remains is to get an inspection sticker in the state of PA once the plates arrive in the mail.  A little bit more than I wanted to pay, but still doable.  The very Compass I test-drove was the one that they immediately had washed, prepped and detailed for me within the hour and the very one that I drove home in.  My Jeep, (and I know that it's not MINE in the sense that it's leased and not owned, but it was still something I paid for, I took charge on, and I did by myself!) is sitting in my driveway, and I am finding myself going to the window to admire it every so often, but I guess this is to be expected when you've NEVER before in your life, had a new car.  
    As I'm risking this blog entry being completely about nothing pertaining to healing - I'll add something I HAVE noticed before signing off for the evening.  And it IS related to my recent decision - so if the Jee- uhh, shoe fits... ;)
    I am finding that I am changing.  Slowly, but surely.  Not sure if turning 40 is what it took, but either way...
    I know that, as humans, we're constantly changing - this is a given.  I am discovering though, that lately, I am not allowing others to manipulate me into making decisions/choices that I don't want to make.  Previously, I would value the opinion of others above my own - whether I liked it or not, if someone told me that whatever it was I thought was a bad idea, then it was a bad idea and I'd modify what I wanted to suit whatever THEY thought was the better option.  I wasn't firm enough to defend my own beliefs/ideas and more often than not, I'd be steamrolled.
    Now, though?  I'm through with agreeing to things others want me to agree to because they think it's better for them.  My mother and my ex - as mentioned previously, are the two biggest culprits - but I am seeing myself becoming more vocal when needed - and recognize that this is easier to do the more I break away from them.  I've not seen my ex in WEEKS, my mother I see once per month, and this is a change from seeing him once a week for kid-swapping and her several times a week when I lived closer.  
    They both have less control over me, and although I've not lived with my mother since I was 19 and have been divorced from the ex for a full decade, I still can't say I'm completely dependent on only myself.  I do have my beautiful fiancee that I depend on for love, faithfulness, emotional support, all of those required mutual and financial decisions that a marriage/partnership calls for, but there's ALWAYS seemingly a voice in the back of my head - it is usually Oompa's or the wasband's, but definitely interchangeable when it comes to these two.  At one point, I cared so much about their opinion because to disagree with them would lead to resistance and all sorts of twisting of facts, and manipulation.  They were always right, I'm always wrong - this is how it always was.  But lately - I am finding that voice is becoming less loud - and no deaf jokes, please.    
    At least, now, if I'm wrong, I am going to figure it out on my own.  
    Off for now.  Hoping all of you are doing well.
    - Capulet
  12. Capulet
    Hello friends,
    My sincerest apologies for my lengthy absence.  Yes, it's happened before and it's likely to happen again, but we all know that I always, always come back to my writing space - I will go through times where I do not really know what to write but as soon as I sit down, I am often hit with a little reminder of how much of a help it is to process things through blogging.  Sometimes it takes a little while for things to start to flow, sometimes I have to get up and return the following day.  This particular entry has been sitting in draft mode for a few days, already, but - finally, it's made its way to you all.
    It has been a very, very long and emotional week.  For those of you who don't know, our beloved kitty has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  He was an otherwise healthy 8-year-old boy - until one month ago, everything changed for him when he suddenly became paralyzed in his hind legs.  Nearly one month from this discovery, he is gone.  I am still absolutely heartbroken, although with each day, I am comforted a little bit more, knowing he isn't suffering nor is he in pain.  He's probably extremely happy now, having been reunited with his hind legs in the afterlife, and is purring while running, jumping, chasing other animals in the fields of Heaven.  
    We honored our boy's wishes and made the call when he let us know that he was struggling just to stay with us.  We chose to do the euthanasia at home, so that he wasn't having to experience the stress of being transported to an unfamiliar location, especially being as sick as he was.  He was surrounded by people (and his cat siblings) who loved him dearly and at 4:35pm 2/11/19, he passed peacefully in J's arms.
    There is a very noticeable emptiness in the house - our boy was 'the man of the house' and he was ALWAYS present, ALWAYS where we were.  Whenever we had guests - there he was, to 'observe' everything.  He was docile, he was patient, and he was approachable.  Although he was more J's cat than he was mine, (he preferred her presence over mine, although he would sometimes demand that I allow him to climb onto my chest while I laid down) I am taking his passing VERY hard.  I am the one who is home most of the time - and so, I was the one to provide the around-the-clock care, medicate him, clean his litter box messes, transfer him and his bed, food/water dishes and litter apparatus from room to room, keep him company, etc, for the last month.  The day following his passing was especially difficult, for it was finally hitting me - there was nothing for me to do for him, no way I can make him comfortable, he was no longer there for me to open the blinds for so that he could enjoy the natural sunlight.  Just seeing his empty bed and empty food and water dish and rolled-up litter mat would send me into fits of ugly-crying - and even as I write this - I can feel that lump in the back of my throat and the tears begging to fall.  
    I've just ordered cremation vials/pendants for J and for myself.  His ashes will be returned to us within the week by the vet that put him down and handled his cremation arrangements, and we plan to carry a piece of him with us wherever we go - when the pendants arrive, we will fill them with some of his ashes and surely as he's in our hearts, he will also be on our person, even in the smallest way.  It is one way we are made a little bit more okay with his (sudden) departure.  I am also considering a small paw print tattoo, while J, his preferred 'human,' is wanting a more elaborate likeness of his beautiful face tattooed onto her arm, so that when positioned a certain way, it will look as if he's resting atop her chest like he used to do every night.
    Moving along, though, before I really DO ugly-cry some more and have to postpone the release of this blog entry for another day.
    Survivor's Art Group was canceled this month - we had snow on the actual day it was planned for, and there weren't enough confirmed guests when it was rescheduled for a couple days later.  M, the leader,  had sent me the topic of discussion so that I could give things some thought.  Ironically, this would be a 'Helping Hands' workshop/group and since I'd expressed an interest in knowing the topics beforehand so that I could better prepare my responses - so M has helped me to do this, in a sense. There WERE more questions listed than the ones to follow,  but these were the ones that stood out and were what I felt related the most to some things I've been recently dealing with.  The rest, I omitted, but saved for a later time/train of thought.  (And let it be known and understood that my 'train schedule' is AWFULLY unstable right now!  I never know what I am going to end up pondering and when.)
    Name something your hands have helped someone else with that you are proud of. How does it feel when you think about a time when you helped someone?
    I don't think it's my actual, physical hands that actually help others.  Yes, I help physically by giving assistance or even affection when asked - but this is just what's expected of anyone - when you see someone struggling with physical baggage and your hands are free - you help them.  If they need their hand held, you offer yours.  When they ask for a hug, you open your arms.  Other than that, my hands are not my best way of helping others.
    As most of my interactions are online, it's my mind and my heart that does most of the helping.  My voice.  Even if and when it is not my physical voice, as that's not one I am very comfortable using, especially around strangers.  While I do not hear with my ears, I do with my eyes and I respond with my heart where applicable.  I am told I am empathetic, have a very calming presence, a patient and caring disposition.  Lately, I'm not so sure this is the case as each and every one of my senses is being put to the challenge.  Not in small ways, either.  And I truly do wonder if I am indeed helpful.  I believe that no matter how much we help others - ultimately they have to help themselves.  Perhaps we've helped them to reach the point where they're able to.
    I have mixed feelings about my 'help.'  Sometimes it feels good to have been there when I was needed, and sometimes it feels terrible.  Especially having to make the difficult choice to 'help' along my cat's transition into his end-of-life stages, and eventually over the Rainbow Bridge in a humane, loving manner.
    Imagine all that your hands may hold for you, or for others, either materially or energetically. Over time, this may become very heavy and you may have your hands full. Is there anything you are holding that you would like to let go of now?  Describe what you are holding and how it feels to let go of this.
    I have let go of more than one thing, lately.
    The most obvious answer is, of course, my cat's required, continuous care.  I received these questions, ironically, a couple of days before his passing.  While taking care of him, I was also relentlessly researching how to care for cats with hind-leg paralysis.  I'd even joined a Facebook group for people dealing with handicapped/disabled felines and had conversed with a few on what to expect, how can I help him? What can I do?  What toys can I buy him to boost his morale?  Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to apply too many of their suggestions, as the upper respiratory infection soon began to batter away at his reserves.  Both vets we had taken him to were quick to say that his quality of life needed to be considered.  J and I agreed that as long as he wasn't in pain and was doing all of the important things (eating, drinking, eliminating), we were going to let him call the shots - for as long as he was able.  And here I am - browsing the 'net for alternative treatments, etc that would help him to thrive and adapt to his now-new lifestyle.  My plan was - get him strong enough, then help him learn to get around on his front legs - was fully prepared to buy him 'drag pants' (to protect his lower end from rug burn/skin irritation that the dragging was likely to cause) and work with him on his balancing so that he could properly and comfortably position himself  to use the litter box.
    This quickly became an obsession.  I wanted to hear the words 'euthanasia is probably best for him,' less and less.  He wasn't showing that he was in pain....why was this coming out of the vet's mouth, rather than, 'let's try this...'?  
    I felt like I was his biggest advocate; even J had to keep me in check by pointing out to me certain things - 'look at his legs, they're rock solid and it's just a matter of time before the rest of him is affected,' 'he's not eating,' 'he's suffering, even if he's not showing us as clearly...'
    Slowly, I began to see she was right.  I was holding on too tightly, to the idea that I could fix our kitty.  I needed to - not give up - but to step back a little bit and let J decide.  I was not helping him anymore.  Not that we were hurting him, but perhaps those words we'd heard from the vet were indeed the truth - there was nothing under the sun that could be done for him.
    I have also learned that, in general, when there is nothing I can do, then I must stop trying.  It's time to let go and to let things happen as they're supposed to.  It is not healthy for me to stick on this same obsessive path to nowhere.  There are more ways than one to learn this very important lesson and I've learned it in many ways recently.  It is not easy for me to let go - not by any means, and NOT with how much of my heart and soul I invest into it in the first place.  
    Think of a time when someone else loaned you a helping hand. What did it feel like to receive help?
    Tricky, this one.  I am not a big fan of asking for help.  Ever.  My mother taught me well - when you ask for help, you had better be readily available when someone asks YOU for help.  It's a tit for tat kind of thing - to ask for help gives someone something to hold over your head.  At least, in adulthood - this is the case.
    But, I don't know if it was always this way.  You see, I don't remember ever asking for help before I was seventeen.  Sure, my parents did mostly everything for me - they cooked, they provided a roof over my head, they bought my clothes, they gave an allowance so I had 'pocket money.'  There wasn't really much I needed 'help' with.  To me, this likely wasn't 'help' - they were doing what they, as parents, do.  What I do for my own children.  I don't look at this as 'helping them,' but as obligatory nurturing, instead.  
    I asked for help twice on the night I was raped.  Once directly, to the man who would rape me instead of helping me.  And the second, indirectly; for it was not even a 'help me,' but instead, a 'can I have a glass of water and can I use your bathroom?'  
    The help came in an unexpected form and was more accepted than asked for - from a kind-hearted stranger, a diner waitress, who, without my asking her to, called me a cab.  I didn't tell her anything - nor did I say anything about what had just happened at the time of my arrival.  My understanding was - you couldn't use a business's facilities without being a customer.  And I might've been somewhat stuck on the fact that she'd done what I asked my rapist to do.  I didn't supply him with the number to a cab, but did intend for him to call a friend to let her know I needed a ride back to where my car was.
    But somehow, this woman knew that something was wrong.  She was very careful not to touch me - even though I was trying my hardest to put on the 'I'm fine,' face; obviously ineffective.  My body language was likely suggesting differently.  When I returned from the bathroom, she handed me the glass of water and a menu, (just in case, I guess) and gently told me that there was a cab on the way, and that the driver was a relative of hers.  I must have been able to mumble a 'thanks,' because she said, 'take care.'  The cab was there shortly after, although it felt like hours and I'd hardly touched the water and still being under the impression that I had to be a customer to have the right to sit at the counter, had mindlessly stared at the menu without intending to order anything.
    The driver came inside and the waitress conversed with him for a brief time before he went back into the car.  On a normal day, I'd likely be able to lip-read the entire conversation.  Not tonight, though.  I did catch, 'when you're ready, he's waiting outside.  Just let him know where you need to go.'
    It didn't occur until later...YEARS later...that she'd also given me something that my attacker hadn't that night.
    A choice.
    Medical attention was likely what I needed, but it wasn't what I had the common sense to say at the moment.  Physically, I was hurting.  Mentally, I was telling myself that I was 'fine' and that the bleeding had already slowed - it would stop eventually.  So would the searing pain in places I'd never felt pain before.  All I could think of at the moment was how angry my parents would be at me if they ever knew about what had just happened - especially since I'd gone to lengths to lie to my father to get him to allow me to go.  In hindsight, I probably didn't even HAVE to lie to him - my father isn't the type to question where I was or who I was with - his usual is, 'have fun and be careful.'  (Which, further thought processing would tell me I failed at that, too.)  And WHAT would they both say, should the police be called?  I was a minor; they'd be called.  And then my parents, in turn, would be called.
    All of these thoughts sending me into instant panic, I gave the driver my home address and he asked no questions.  He drove.  And when he arrived at my Dad's house, he let me know that the fare was already taken care of, likely by the woman at the diner or it had been an 'off duty' favor.  Either way, no explanation was provided and another 'thanks' mumbled.  
    The help was greatly appreciated, but the choice was what I was more grateful for.  She COULD have called the police, especially if she knew something was wrong.  She COULD have told her family member to take me to the hospital, likely closer to the diner than where I lived.  She COULD have done so many things differently - just as I could have, too.  She chose, though, to allow me to make the choice between going to a hospital or going home.  What I wouldn't give, today, to thank both of these kind people for giving me what I needed at the time, no questions asked.
    This still scares me when I find myself needing help, whether it's with something simple - like taking out the trash or other household chores.  Or when I'm grappling with those deep, invasive thoughts.  My first notion is to make it clear that it's something I'll eventually finish (chores) or figure out on my own (thoughts) - but I never, EVER ask for help with these things.  J will attest to this, and often scolds me for taking things on by myself.  My usual response is, 'Well, if I want it done right, I have to do it, myself!'
    But I cannot and still will not ask a stranger for help; the biggest reason for this is obvious.  Even today, I am very, VERY choosy with who I ask for help.  J is my first and (I tell myself) ONLY option.  If it's not possible, I'll approach the Son.  I refuse to ask my parents for help - although my mother will offer it verbally and although she'll not say 'and in return, I want....' I will always know it's coming and she will always hold whatever it is that she's helping with over my head.  My father seemingly offers it freely and without strings, but I've never asked him for anything.  And it is only in desperation that I accept help - and even so, I am uneasy in doing so.
    I'm just not comfortable admitting the need for help - I know, in reality it is not the case, but my own, stupid brain tells me that to do so is an admission of weakness.  I am quick to let others know that there's nothing wrong with asking for help - and I believe this.  It's just, with myself, there is a barrier, a strong, almost impenetrable one - and that annoying voice in the back of my head, 'Capulet, you must deal with it yourself.  If you can't, go to J, but you MUST try to figure out your own shit!'  
    If you could reach out with your hands and take in everything you have ever wanted for yourself, what would your hands reach for?
    Not sure there's any material thing that I could physically reach out for that I want right now - other than my cat being alive and well, which is obviously unrealistic.  Aside from a million (or two or twenty million?) bucks, there's really nothing I want for as far as the material things or the money to pay for it all.  
    No, what I want is more those things nobody can see, the things nobody can give me.  I want to be normal, but don't know how that's possible, as for me, my definition of the word was tainted VERY early on in life.  What if THIS is all normal, based on what I've already seen?  
    I'd LOVE to have been left unscathed by life's ugliness.  I'd love to not understand heartbreak, trauma and its effects, loneliness, depression.  There are times where I wish I were the perfectly-formed person - the one who has it all - but there is NO 'all' without the bad, is there?  An 'all' good just doesn't exist.  Not for me, not for anyone. 
    Air.  That's all my hands are going to reach for.  Maybe some understanding.  Maybe wisdom.  Maybe motivation.  All of those things that are unseen to the naked eye, but would make sense of everything at the same time.
    So yes, I'd most likely reach for clarity.  Not just with myself, but in everything I've ever questioned in life.  
    In closing, this is the gist of what I've been struggling with this week.  A whole lot of everything and nothing.  My search for additional purpose continues - I did have a temporary, very important one for the last month - my fur baby's care and medical needs - but now that he is gone, so is that particular purpose.  
    I am well aware that one adopts many, MANY different purposes in the course of their lives.  I know I have great purpose here, and that is not in any way diminished nor will it ever be.  I love being here, I love this site, and love ALL of you.  It just seems when one alternate purpose disappears or is cut short, it is very, very hard to see what still remains as we grieve that loss. That being said, I wish to thank everyone who has reached out and who has sent me kind messages and who has allowed me to feel what I was feeling without judgement or criticism.  There was an outpouring of support, both before and after my beloved cat's passing, and I will NOT forget this.   
    On a positive note, amidst all of last week's insanity, I've submitted one college application for this coming fall's semester - to the local university where my son is now a student.  I paid to have my transcripts sent over to them and I am now waiting for a response.  The next step will be to meet with the Dean of Transfer Admissions - and this will hopefully happen soon.
    I am trying to remain focused on moving forward with life, because this is, above all, what we must ALL do whenever we're knocked down or otherwise delayed, be it through loss, or any other significant life event.  It is important to pick ourselves up, to re-emerge, to re-focus, and to keep going.  And this is something we survivors have to learn to do - not just once or twice, but SEVERAL times as we continue on our healing paths.
    I am hoping everyone is doing well, or at least as well as they can possibly be.  I am sending my love and thoughts.  Be good to yourselves - this is not something I say easily as it's something I am also having to remember to do for myself.
    Love and light.
    - Capulet
  13. Capulet
    I surprised myself last night.
    J and I had a much-needed date night.  We were at dinner and we were conversing about some OT hours she wanted to pick up.  I casually mentioned that Oompa was fully expecting ME to pay her a visit this month, as she was here last month.  She had casually mentioned, "oh, and the 10th is a good day for me!"  The 10th is THIS weekend.  
    No, thank you.  I'm still somewhat infuriated with my mother for the bullshit she pulled in regards to my niece and nephew's birthday party and the inviting of her brother and the trying to rope my father into her plans to get him there.  It was LAME and so WRONG of her - I just don't understand how she can be 'respectful of my feelings' sometimes (there was once a time when she had to answer a call from him when she was with me, and told me, 'don't worry, I won't tell him I'm with you'), then completely disregard them another time?  She is PUSHING me, to see how much she can get away with - and then she's going to attempt to manipulate me on top of all of that by saying I shouldn't let that be the reason I don't come to my nephew's and niece's birthday celebration.  "You wouldn't do that to them, would you?"  
    I do not want her to have any control over anything I do - she doesn't, but she certainly tries.  Manipulation is her game - it's what she resorts to when she doesn't see any other way around it.  So because she wants me to come on the 10th, I am NOT going on the 10th!  I'm TIRED of bending for her!
    Instead, I want to be pissed at her for a little bit longer.  I'm not ready to drop this.  She's likely noticed the side order of ice I've been giving her whenever she texts - she'll say how much she misses me, and my answer is always an underused, sometimes (purposely) misspelled 'me too/to.'  But, do I really?  No, I do not.  I do NOT think she understands how angry this latest shenanigan of hers has made me.  And until last night, I couldn't blame her too much, because I'd dropped it like a hot potato on the night she conversed with my father about it.  The physical conversation ended abruptly when I expressed unhappiness over the whole thing, but the mental conversing is STILL ongoing.  Despite additional stressors, this continues to be on my mind, and my mind refuses to shut up.  Perhaps this means I need to NOT shut up, I need to start becoming more vocal.
    As my niece will be turning 1 on the 20th of this month, I decided that I would be the one to say when I was coming to her neck of the woods (she lives about 15 minutes further away from my sister) and first texted my sister to tell her that I wanted to see my niece for her actual birthday - the dual party for her and her brother is taking place at the end of March.  I asked my sister if the 23rd was okay with her.  She said yes.  THEN I texted Oompa to let her know I was going to come see my niece closer to her actual birthday, we would do lunch at my sister's house.  She could come see me there.  I didn't say this bit,  but I'd rather come see the nieces and nephew than my mother.  THEM, I'll make a monthly trip for - because THEY are innocent in all of this - and there is SO much love in my heart for those beautiful children who call me Auntie.
    "You ARE still coming for their party at the end of March, right?"  Was the first thing Oompa asked.
    "Yes," I texted her back, "I'm NOT happy about the surprise guest you sprung on me, but I'm coming for the kids."
    She then said, "Well, we don't even know if he's going to feel up to coming."  (Again, he's this miserably unhealthy S.O.B. - bad knees, bad heart, diabetes, high blood pressure, probably a bunch of other maladies or things wrong with him, not including mentally - so yeah, by all means, let's invite an unhealthy, unstable man to a kiddy party!  What a wonderful idea!)  
    "NOT the point," I told her, "He shouldn't have been invited, and Dad shouldn't have been asked to go pick him up."
    She then tried to say something along the lines of, 'well, I'LL pick him up, I just needed your father to drop him back off...."
    I told her it was a 'waste of time.'  
    And it is.  A waste of her time, my father's time, MY time.  Because I really, REALLY would have liked to have gone to my nephew's and niece's birthday party without the added stress of having to make sure he wasn't staring at them or at my daughter with those disgusting eyes of his - because I just might have to kill him.  
    Oompa didn't respond to that text, nor did she say anything more after that.  I wonder if my assertiveness offended her - because this is not something she's used to - she's NOT used to being told off, nor of control being taken from her.  And believe me - being told she was wrong or that something she did was wrong IS akin to ripping the control from her hands.  Because now, things aren't going so well for her, are they?  Now she has to figure out how to make this right.  
    And...guess what?
    I don't care.  I don't feel bad, I don't feel as if I'm out of line, or I'm wrong about this.  I spoke up.  I stood my ground.  I let her know I was angry.  This is extremely unordinary of me - I am usually the type to shrug things off, an 'it is what it is' type of girl.  Anger is hard for me to express; one of those learned behaviors I'd mastered - suppression - always seems to kick in whenever I am made angry.  Well - I am proud to say that this is something I am more actively trying to change - when I'm angry, I need to make others aware of it, even if it isn't convenient for them. It may take me some time to do so, but - it's progress.
    THIS was a win - regardless of whether this piece-of-shit shows up - I still made my anger known.  I was not afraid of 'not being nice' and I expressed anger and disappointment.  I've yet to yell at my sister for inviting him - but I'm not entirely sure my mother didn't have a hand in this.  This entire situation SMELLS of my mother - and my sister could have been manipulated into inviting him, herself.  She, like my father, could very well have been a pawn in my mother's game/attempt to involve her brother - she claims the invitation was my sister's idea,  but I'm not so sure she didn't PLANT the idea in the first place.
    Anyway,  Small victory.  In this battlefield we call life, there are so many little wars we have to endure - whether we are at war with ourselves or with others - and these sweet victories add up.  Slowly.   Sometimes they're hard to notice, but they're there.
    Will keep you all posted on this.  For now, eyes are closing on me.  Hoping everyone is doing well this week.
    All my best. 
    - Capulet
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. Capulet
    Well, it seems I've started a new trend of updating 2x a month rather than weekly, but my promise to you all is that I'll TRY to blog more frequently. I have truly missed my for-the-hell-of-it writing and do resolve to get back into the routine of doing so regularly.  It's important to me to keep the mental wheels turning, even if they tend to slow down from time to time.  
    I've just not had much to update you all on - other than I've had a one-week reprieve from the wintery joy that is home - and J and I have just returned from one week in Central Florida for our 10-year anniversary celebration.  We visited Disney World, Universal Studios, Downtown Disney Springs.  We had an absolutely wonderful time - (word to the wise, though - do NOT visit Disney World on a weekend!  And if you're interested in Universal - SPLURGE on the Express Pass to bypass the long lines, it is TRULY worth it!) - and now we are back home, trying to re-acquaint ourselves with our normal routines.  J's gone back to work and all our laundry has been caught up on - and all our cats have been reassured that we will not be leaving them for another five years - seems to be how we roll - big anniversary trip every five years.  Not sure, though, that when we're both 45, we'll have the stamina for Disney World.  Maybe we'll take on Australia or overseas!  I've always wanted to see London, Ireland, maybe even Italy!
    We've five years to figure that out, though.  Our trip was nice, though - and it was much-needed.  Now our bank accounts and wallets are in need of some severe replenishment!  
    In the meantime, I've missed two consecutive meetings/months of the Survivors' Art Group.  The last one was smack-dab in the middle of our vacation - and the one before that - one of the kids wasn't feeling well.  I have, however, seen M before leaving for vacation and she did supply me with a worksheet and accompanying color-in sheet of paper depicting a blank head atop some shoulders, that they'd completed as a group during the last meeting - the first one I'd missed.  
    "Self-portraits," she said, "Feel free to complete this on your own if you're inclined!"
    The worksheet page had listed questions.  But the first one was immediately an indicator of how tricky this assignment would be.  HOW do these people complete this in one hour???  At this point, I've had this paper for over three weeks!  This should be an assignment we have a MONTH to complete; likely it can be proposed that at the end of one group meeting, a preview of next time's discussion could be provided and we could bring these worksheets to the next meeting for discussion?  At any rate, it's a thought for me to bring up to M on our upcoming session on Friday.  But, anyway...moving along.
    What would a self-portrait of me look like?  There were other questions, too, (but I'm too lazy to go fetch the paper from the visor of J's car - it's 12 degrees outside and we've had some rain) - but that's just the thing with these questions/exercises...not just this one, but usually ALL of the meetings are accompanied by questions that make you tap into the deepest parts of your mind for answers to.  They're thought-provoking and they make me sit and think for what seems like hours, before I answer one and move onto the next!
    I am PRETTY sure they're not asking for me to try and draw the profile picture I have of myself on Facebook, although that is probably what most people see - especially those who haven't taken the time to learn (read the book) the story behind the picture (face).  What they likely want drawn/written in that circle no bigger than a baseball, is FAR more complicated than just adding eyes, a nose and a mouth.  I think I'd need an entire wall - for who I am is not summable by just a few words.  And when you ask a WRITER who they are, you can fully expect an explanation of each trait.  Y'see, writers are explainers.  We're big on supporting what we write - if I write about my hatred of broccoli, (not the case, just an example!) I am going to explain WHY I hate broccoli.  We try to get the point across, and if we can, we can add a humorous spin on things or if the situation calls for it, we can be a hundred percent serious.  And like anyone else, it IS easier to talk about things that don't pertain to us, especially those dark, painful things that in order for them to be understood, they take a HELL of a lot of explaining!  
    Ironically, most of who you are resides and originates in the brain - and that's not even visible!!!!  We only see what's on the outside, what a person allows for us to see.  I suppose that sums up my existence these days - for only a VERY small handful HAVE been allowed to navigate the endless corridors of what is my brain.  (Do you like what you see in there?  I haven't kept up with the decorating, but I do try to spruce up the place every now and then with NEW content...wink, wink.)
    Well, crap.  I don't know what to put into this tiny little circle!!!!  Eyes, nose, mouth will take up most of the space - that's a given.  No room for interpretation on anything I draw, either - as I am by no means an artist!  Surely there are some key words that describe me to a T, that require little to no explanation.  
    For starters: I KNOW I am loyal, faithful and honest.  Although loyalty, faithfulness and honesty CAN be explained in depth, I don't think that my reasons for outwardly possessing these traits need to be discussed here - for the reasons that these are most important to me are likely the same for so many others.  We've been burned too many times, we've been hurt in immeasurable ways, we've been abandoned, we've had our trust ripped from us, torn to shreds, stomped on, chewed up and spit out - the list of ways of the breaking of trust goes on and on - and we've been hurled into the discard bin more times than we can count.  For these reasons alone, I'd sooner die before doing this to someone else.  To me, this is the creed to live by - there's NO alternative way to be.  I am NOT the people who have hurt me - these people are NOT in this portrait with me - not in the spotlight, nor in the background, even if blurry, like in one of those old Poloroids!
    And here's what we DON'T see in the pictures....
    I am also described as/struggling with: abused, afraid, angry, an aunt, authentic, anxious, balanced, battered, broken, brave, bullied, consistent, cranky on occasion, a daughter, defeated, depression, determined, distrustful, domestic violence, don't like confrontation, eager to please, easily manipulated, eating-disordered, edgy, emotionally shut-down at times, exhausted, fear-driven, fidgety, fierce, a fighter, fragmented, a friend, giving, a hard worker, heartbroken, isolated, insecure, kind-hearted, loving, a mother, nervous, obsessive-compulsive, paranoia, a partner, PTSD, rape, reliable, respectful, responsible, sadness, secretive, self-blame, self-hate, shy, a sister, sleep-deprived, socially awkward, submissive, supportive, a survivor, tense, timid, tired, walls, weary, a wife, worrisome, a writer...
    My portrait contains ALL of these words and phrases, (and possibly even more that I've not even thought of yet!) even if they are not things I'm currently dealing with and have come and go throughout my life - these traits and tendencies still exist and some were put there by those whom in the course of my 40 years, have taught me to possess the ones that might not be necessarily healthy, even if they are lying dormant at the moment. They are there because of my disgusting uncle, my rapist, & my ex-husband, primarily, and I have learned how hard it is for folks to see PAST some of these unfavorable qualities that are NOT my fault (but still MY responsibility to 'fix') - and see ME for the person I've always tried to be, regardless of what I've been taught.  As you can see, there ARE some qualities that are admirable - and I'm proud to be able to admit that these fit me, too - for it's also easy to see how they COULD have been omitted from the list entirely!  
    Yet, I still cling to and have never lost sight of those three key words - loyal, faithful, honest.  When you have all of these OTHER traits swimming beneath the surface, it is VERY hard to maintain and stay true to those preferred traits (and others, of course) that hold the most importance.  I've managed to do, though, by some miracle - so for the most part...
    I am VICTORIOUS.  And I will continue to be.  I will push myself to overcome those traits that can be viewed as faults, and I will succeed in (slowly) removing those undesirable characteristics OFF of this list - for I no longer want to be described as anything other than the good person I BELIEVE myself to be.
    TRY fitting all of that into a baseball-sized circle!!!!  
    I suppose I'll get to those other questions that were on that worksheet later on, or I'll just see what the next group session brings - it's seemingly an endless cycle of thinking that we've, as survivors, been doomed to, isn't it?  Either way, I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak openly on these topics, even if it's just to myself within the confines of a blog.  Maybe it resonates with others, maybe it doesn't.  It helps me greatly, though, to be able to process all of it here - it helps to see where I am and how far I've travelled to get here.  
    Until next time!
    - Capulet
  17. Capulet
    Have I REALLY been gone since December 4th?  
    Yes, friends - this is VERY much unlike me.  Those of you who know me - know that when my mind is cluttered and my brain is busy - I write.  It's how I make sense of things.  To say that my mind has been clear lately would be a lie - there's SO much clutter up there - it's starting to look like Grandma's attic! (Although MY grandmother, may she rest in peace, did not have an attic - she had a basement that scared the shit out of me for most of my childhood!)  
    My brain has been running a mile-a-minute, but I've been effective at compartmentalizing - at least until the holidays have passed us.  Rather than say, "okay, I'm going to think on this tonight and see what comes out - it'll be a good thing to blog about because I'm SURE there are others who feel this same exact way," the last few weeks have been more of a "maybe later," or a "perhaps after Christmas" or just plain, "not now."
    Things with J are....fine.  I don't want to say there's been improvement because with the looming holidays, stresses have indeed mounted and any left-over issues we have been having were not to be confused with the typical stress the holidays are notorious for bringing forth.  It's easy for past stresses to escalate, when new ones are introduced.  So rather than let this happen - I chose to just go through the motions of the holidays - and make the most of it, even though I was not feeling it this year.  If you've been following this blog for a while, you know by now the result of LAST year's (2017's) Christmas - I didn't want a repeat of that, when it comes to my mother and my sisters, and that entire part of my family.  
    This year's wasn't as dramatic - but it was still sorely lacking.  
    It hasn't been terrible.  Don't get me wrong.  It just hasn't been spectacular.  Maybe I've set the bar too high - maybe I'm just expecting too much at this point?  It IS, after all, what I thought Christmas was supposed to be.  Filled with love, with enjoyment, with fulfillment - instead, it's become purely obligation...my obligation to others, to make sure they have everything THEY want and need.  Over the last several years, I have bent for everyone else - to the point where MOST have now began to take me and all of my efforts for granted.  There is very little reciprocation - if not for my mother, my father, and J - there'd be NOTHING for me under the tree.  And while I'm not a material girl at ALL, it's hard to ignore that - when I have been attempting to MOVE heaven and earth to make EVERYONE ELSE happy - never mind my own happiness and sense of holiday cheer.  
    Since the divorce, the wasband has been unrelenting on where the kids spend the holidays.  They MUST be with him.  ALL of his kids.  They've got to be seated at HIS table - for Christmas, New Year's, for Thanksgiving, for Easter, for St. Patrick's Day, for Halloween, for Father's Day, (that one, I understand!) for July 4th, for Passover, for heaven's sake - and he's not even Jewish!  Early on, years ago, I had asked if I can bring the kids with me to someone else's house for the holiday (or if we could alternate?) and it's been met with an "absolutely not."  
    This, of course, means, that, if I want to spend any of the holidays with my children, that I, too, have to be at his house, celebrating within the chaos of HIS home, with HIS wife, all HIS kids.  Mind you, I don't mind any of his kids - I raised all of them, if you think about it, to include his and his wife's youngest.  I am, of course, free to choose whether I want to be there for the holiday, or if I want to go celebrate with someone else.  But my children would not be allowed to come with me.  If, God forbid, I chose to spend a holiday with someone else, then he's the type to turn around and poison my children's minds against me - "your mother would rather be with so-and-so than you...."  
    Yes, friends - his abuse goes ON - even though we are no longer married, even though we no longer live together.  His manipulation continues - and WILL NOT cease until he is six-feet-under.  This IS painfully hard to accept - but I'm out of energy.  There comes a point in time where you no longer have the desire to change things that simply cannot be changed.  
    So, I've sacrificed my ideas of what I'd like for Christmas to be, for the last decade.  It's supposed to be give and take - this, I know and this, I've been taught in childhood.  My parents aren't eligible for POTY (parents-of-the-year) but they DID teach me to have good manners, and consideration for others.  They DID teach me the true meaning of the holiday - that it was to spread joy, kindness and happiness.  Instead, I've learned to DREAD not only Christmas but every holiday, too!  No, it's not fair - I know this, you all know this - anyone with a shred of human decency and a sense of compromise knows this - but it is what it is.  He's not budging.  And because he won't budge or so much as meet me halfway, I have to celebrate holidays with my family on days that aren't the actual holiday - adding MORE stress to my already full plate.  And it is NOT easy to get the kids to come with me to 'family gatherings' that don't include their father - he's done enough moaning, groaning and bitching and complaining to them over the years - and if he's not invited, they're quick to refer to the 'WWDD' (What would Dad do?) way of thinking.  And if Dad wouldn't want to go, neither would they.  So, that's ANOTHER battle - I guess it's a good thing that my birthday is conveniently located five days post-Christmas - I can very well play the 'it's my birthday, I want my kids with me' card.  This usually works. 
    This year, I INSISTED upon doing Christmas Eve at my house.  Oompa, after some resistance (she wouldn't be Oompa without her slew of complaints!) promised to come for Christmas Eve, and then to sleep over and leave early Christmas morning so that she could spend Christmas Day with her other two daughters and the rest of her grandchildren.  
    Both my sisters were invited also - along with their spouses and all of their kids.  Youngest sister had previous arrangements with her husband's family - so she politely declined.  Okay.  I understood that and didn't begrudge her at all.  
    Middle sister came up with every excuse in the book before saying no, too.  What were her excuses?  Let's see...her husband is working for the first half of the day.  Oh, and he's allergic to cats! (he's not had any problem with the cats when he's come to my house in the past - my cats don't want to be around the likes of HIM, either!)  Or my youngest niece is bad in the car - a 2 hour drive would be 'too much.'  Yet, there are PLENTY of Facebook posts documenting their MANY family outings - some locations MORE than 2 hours away from where they live.  So, yeah.  Long story, short - she doesn't want to come.  
    So the stage was set, at this point.  Oompa would be there, I'd be doing a Christmas Eve/birthday celebration for J at my house.  She'd see her elder grandchildren Christmas Eve and her littler grandchildren Christmas Day.  I'd be spending Christmas Day at the wasband's, of course.  So now this meant that I wouldn't be seeing my nephew or nieces unless I went to THEM for my birthday - which doubled as an opportunity to give them their Christmas gifts, thus extending the holiday aggravation by a few days - I'd just like for them to be over and done when they're over and done!  
    Most of my shopping was done online - alone, and without much input other than the Son's sending me a link to an eBay auction for two books he'd been wanting to read.  "It's a good deal, Ma....you can get it for me for Christmas!"  I didn't think twice.  I bought the books.  Both of my kids are at the point where it's HARD to shop for them - they're getting quality over quantity, a couple expensive things and a few smaller things as 'fillers.'  They are the only ones I really splurge on.  I DID get for the wasband and his wife, and I did get for the REST of his children - I ensured NO one was left out - because although two are adults, one is not even his child, (it's his wife's son) I didn't have the heart to exclude anyone - there was something under that tree for EVERYONE who would be around my dinner table for Christmas Eve.  No questions asked.  Did they bring me anything?  No.  They did not.  They, just as always, took me for granted - they came, ate all my food, made a mess in my house, and left with full stomachs and a trunk full of gifts they'd received - my mother got nothing from them, I got nothing from them.  All we received was a sheepish "didn't realize we were exchanging!"  I could hear my brain going, then...Maybe not, you ass, but common sense dictates you go to someone's house for the holiday - you BRING something!  Even a freakin' dessert platter or pastries or whatever - it doesn't have to be wrapped!  Because the ONLY reason I want YOUR rude, ungrateful, obnoxious ass in my house is because it means I can have my children home too!
    I'm NOT going to have an easy Christmas next year, that's for sure - Oompa is flirting with the idea of taking BACK the torch she's passed down to me - and she wants to do Christmas Eve at HER house - which is far smaller than mine.  She'll, of course, invite the wasband and all the kids - but knowing him, he won't budge - he wants ME to do it - apparently I 'do a good job' keeping the family together.  Completely oblivious to the very sad fact that I don't feel as if I've a choice in the matter anymore.  Top this off with J wanting to spend next Christmas with HER family in Massachusetts - she did tell me this BEFORE this year's festivities - but knowing that she won't be here and there is likely going to be MORE bending on my part to keep everyone appeased.  
    How much more bending am I capable of, before I finally SNAP?
    I feel this is enough of my bitching - at least, for this year.  I DO sincerely hope that YOUR Christmas/holidays went smoothly and with a minimal of drama/stress.  It seems to be unavoidable to some - as some families don't understand the concept of 'simple.'  Still, I do hope that everyone's had at least one smile this past Christmas - at least one gift, be it something wrapped with a pretty bow or simply the gift of kindness, friendship or a phone call...whatever it was that made us feel loved.  We are ALL deserving of that joy, even if it was a small amount.  I did have some of this; and for that, I'm grateful.
    I am now headed over to the wasband's to watch the ball drop with my children - J will be working an overnight shift tonight and will drop me off there on her way - then I'll just drive my car back home, as the son has it sitting at his father's house for absolutely no reason at all.
    The next few days, the first three days of 2019 will be filled with NO celebrations, NO festivities, no NOTHING.  On the 4th, we are headed to Disney World and Universal Studios, where we will be celebrating out 10 year anniversary - of the decade we've spent together, 2018 has been the most 'bumpy' year.  And yes, I admit, this past year has unnerved me to my core - but I am going to resolve to continue to better myself as a person, as a wife, a mother, and a friend.  And to shed off the pounds I've re-gained whilst stress-eating all of the Christmas cookies!
    Happy New Year, everybody.  Will be toasting to my AS family tonight at midnight!
    - Capulet
  18. Capulet
    The first time I attempted to get this entry started, I got maybe two words typed out before my very demanding cat jumped up onto the desk, spilling my pencil holder of its contents as well as knocking my (thankfully covered) water bottle as well as other empty soda cans and nail polish bottles over.  I'm telling you - when this boy wants his love and affection, he stops at absolutely nothing and often resorts to destruction!
    So - here is attempt number two, now that I've banished him to the other side of my bedroom door with, "my Christmas tree BETTER still be standing in the morning, Mister!"  I then locked the door so he couldn't let himself in, (believe it or not, the little shit KNOWS how to open handled doors! He taught himself and has NO regard for privacy!) and am now sitting down to write.
    I had my second session with the Support Group Leader on Friday.  I will from now on refer to her as M, it's easier.
    Anyway - we really didn't have time to 'go over' my assignment from our last session (the one where she wanted me to share where I thought I'd be in three years) because I walked in prepared to discuss instead what I wrote about in my LAST blog entry - my recent struggles with J's re-entrance into therapy, of her starting EMDR, of being distant, overworked and overstressed, and of the rekindling of her social life.  It's what's been on my mind the most nowadays, and it felt fitting to discuss this in place of whatever the hell I might be doing in three years.  
    Previously, we briefly got around to talking about the company J keeps - particularly her boss/friend.  I've always been honest with J and told her that there's SOMETHING I can't quite put my finger on, SOMETHING about her that I don't like.  I've said it until I was blue in the face.  It is NOT a romantic attraction I'm fearful of.  No.  I trust J in every aspect, and I know that if there was any chance that she didn't want to be with me - she wouldn't be.  I have tried several times to explain to her that it is simply the fact that while she and I are actively disconnecting, I am witnessing her becoming close to someone else.  Although it's not on the same level, it still makes me feel (perhaps unnecessarily) threatened.  And although J has always invited me into the fold and tried to include me, I've always felt reluctant and as if I didn't want to be around her boss/friend, because of these irrational thoughts.
    Anyway - J's sisters dropped in on Thanksgiving night.  During the day on Friday, I was dealing with our cable mishap, so I was unable to join them for the trip to the nail salon (I swear, when it comes to mani-pedis, I'm probably the man in the relationship - I could care less what my nails look like as they're usually cut short for bowling purposes, and GOD HELP anyone who touches my FEET!) or for the breakfast they went and ate after that.   
    Being as we live four hours apart, J doesn't spend a whole lot of time with her sister.  So, whenever her sister comes for a visit, I am perfectly fine keeping a distance and allowing them the time and space to visit and reconnect.  Whenever J goes out with her sister (a heavy drinker) there is ALWAYS music and booze involved.  I am generally uncomfortable being around people who share this overtly loud and obnoxious, outgoing personality.  And that Friday night after Thanksgiving, the three sisters wanted to go to a bar for a few drinks after supper and said that I should join them.  I struggled with the invitation, but then I agreed to join them just for the food, but bowed out of the after-dinner bar plans.  
    Admittedly, there is currently more revolving around my not wanting to be around J's one sister either - it has a LOT to do with what happened prior to J's radiation treatment this past summer.  I am feeling that is not quite resolved - her sister had said she'd like to communicate once per week, she'd like to get to know me better, things like that.  She hasn't made a single effort to communicate with me - AT ALL.  And I'm all about reciprocation - I've done nothing, too.  I am stubborn, yes, but I also don't feel this is mine to fix.  SHE is the one who acted poorly.  If I said things that weren't necessarily nice or polite, it was because I was defending myself.
    Anyway, I remained civil and friendly - I politely declined the second invitation to go boozing afterwards.  Instead, I went straight home after the restaurant, thinking to myself, how long would it even take to get a couple drinks in?  A couple hours, maybe?
    They didn't get home until One. Oh. Clock. In the morning. 1:00.  1am.  An hour after midnight.
    What the fuck?
    Still, I figured, these are not family members J sees very often - she did move four hours away from her family so that she could share her life with me - so, that thought in mind, I remained calm when she came into the bedroom at 1am.  She admitted to having a little too much to drink and that after the bar, the one outgoing sister had insisted on driving out to ANOTHER bar where there was karaoke.  
    "I'm so glad I went," I was being sarcastic.  But still asked how karaoke went.  I still showed an interest, even though I wished she'd been home sooner - I felt as if I hadn't had any time with her that week, at all.  She'd worked a double on Thanksgiving, then Friday the sisters were there, etc, and as it unfolded, I couldn't be with them during the first half of that day because I was waiting for the cable techie.  She'd managed to get the day off work on Friday and Saturday, but still - with the added company, I wasn't feeling anything other than lonely at the moment.
    Anyway, she told me that the karaoke place was pretty crowded and that her sister got up there and sang and danced, she commented on how this same sister makes 'friends' wherever she goes.  She talked about how they had several drinks together and that the other sister (whom I truly DO like) was the one who had driven them all home, having only had one or two drinks all night.  And she waited until the VERY end to mention:
    "Oh and (boss/friend's name) met us at karaoke."
    See, I was fine until that mention.  I was.  I don't even think it was the fact that J was pouring alcohol into her body when she normally doesn't.  It was, though, the fact that she'd NOT told me that boss/friend would be there because she knew how I'd react.  She'd omitted that detail entirely, which felt like a betrayal, although a small one.  When asked why she didn't think to tell me this, she confirmed it.  "Because every time you hear her name, you lose your shit!"
    And yes, that's true.  I don't even know that it's jealousy - perhaps some of it is.  But at this point, I'd ALREADY explained that I was feeling disconnected from the one person I trust the most.  And that I didn't like this other friend's sudden and frequent presence.  Yet, J is not willing to change her friendship with boss/friend based upon these feelings I'm having, nor is she willing to slow down anything she's doing.  And, so, it's me who has to change.  And how the fuck I'm going to do that, remains a mystery.  
    We bickered about this on that night, making it a very emotional and late one.  I didn't sleep a wink.  She had a fair amount of alcohol in her system so that did enable her to get some sleep eventually.  But I was just unable to allow sleep to take over, there were simply TOO many thoughts swimming around in my head.  I still remained in bed, my heart raced all night long and I recognized familiar signs of anxiety that I hadn't seen in years.  This bothered me.  SO much. 
    It hit me that THIS was our first REAL argument in the decade we'd been together.  See, up until now, we've ALWAYS been on the same page with pretty much everything.  Yes, we've disagreed but it's NEVER felt like this before.  Since that night, we've talked many times about this particular 'fight' and for the time being, we've reached an understanding.  She will continue to work on herself in therapy while also enjoying her social outings after work once per week, and she will continue to maintain her friendship that she has become fond of.  At the same time, she will work on being more present at home.   She would like for ME to work on myself, too, and for me to continue sessions with M.  She wants for me to branch out and be able to make connections with people other than her.  "It's healthy," she says.  I told her that was something I needed to work being able to accept - because it was so deeply ingrained into me by my ex-husband that one simply does not form close connections to another person outside of a relationship.  You can have friends, but there's a line there - a boundary.  Only HIS idea of healthy boundaries and HER idea are two entirely different things.  
    Although she tries to remind me that I've been with HER longer than I have been with him, I can't help but be stuck on the simple fact that it only takes a split second to change someone's 'sight,' whether it's during one isolated moment in time that can be considered a trauma or something someone else has said to you that seemingly becomes tattooed onto your brain.   In the case of my ex-husband, this is what's happened - even though I TRY not to adapt to his way of thinking, I sometimes can't help when it's something that automatically kicks in!  
    She mentioned that she'd also like for me to get to know boss/friend and to perhaps become friendly with her.  Now, this is tricky considering that right now, this woman is EVERYWHERE and it's more unsettling than not.  But I did promise to try, if this is what would make her happy.  We have decided that J is going to engage boss/friend into perhaps going bowling or going to ball games, or into doing anything in a setting that I can actually FOLLOW and maybe ENJOY.  I have made it clear that I don't want anything to do with bars, with karaoke, with anything music-related and I refuse to be in a setting where people are just acting overall reckless. 
    This recent fight is also something she asked me to present to M, so on Friday's appointment, I went in fully prepared to do so.  I know I could have posted it here beforehand, but it didn't feel right.  Plus, I am generally slow to process what is happening, even those things right in front of me.  I suppose this is a place where I can gain some unbiased feedback, same as with M in session, so I am okay doing it now that I've openly discussed it with M.
    Plus, there WAS a moment in counseling that set off that little light bulb in the back of my head that has been dormant long enough for me to question whether it needed changing or that I'd be subject to being in the dark for the rest of my life.  So, these words are all the more important to write.
    I did previously explain J's rising social status to M, but our last (also our first) meeting was before the argument on the day after Thanksgiving.  By now, things had escalated, and I needed the time and space to address it.  So we talked and, somehow - (it's weird how this happens!) - something clicked.  We talked about how I didn't understand WHY I didn't like boss/friend.  She isn't a bad person, the few times I have seen her, she was actually fun to be around.  Yet, there was something else there.   Something that, when I backtracked a bit from not liking the bar/drinking/music setting.  
    Let's return, for a minute, back to October 4th, 1996.  Some of you know this date already.  It's forever etched into memory for me, as it's the night I was raped.
    For starters - I was not at all used to parties, or even attending one that didn't involve balloons, clowns or goodie-bags.  Or a Sweet Sixteen from the previous year - I'd attended three or four for high school friends.  Other than that, I wasn't a partier, and this was okay with me.  Being hearing impaired usually excluded me from many invitations, but I wasn't normally one to take offense to it.  It is what it is. 
    One of the 'first' friends I made when I started college a month before the incident, was a very outgoing type of person.  I'm not sure what exactly made us friends, since I didn't have this in common with her at all - but at the time, I had no reason to fear being social, either.  
    She was the one who invited me to this party that she heard about.  She convinced me to lie to my father and tell him that I was going to be spending the night at her house, following the completion of a school project that would likely take HOURS.  Lord Capulet, being the trusting man he was, agreed and said, 'have a good time, just be careful!'
    When we arrived, she almost immediately met up with some kids that she had gone to high school with.  And so, it quickly became a case of, 'see ya later, Cap!' and I was left alone.  Alone, surrounded by loud music and the combined smell of alcohol and weed.  It was thick, and it didn't take me very long to want to go home.  When I went in search of my friend, I found her nearly topless - her shirt was opened, she was laughing it up with a bunch of surrounding horny frat guys and it was clear to me that she was heavily intoxicated.  I approached her and told her that if she'd give me the keys (we arrived in her car) then I'd drive us home.  She guffawed in my face (what the holy hell had she been drinking!?) and told me that she was having too much fun and wasn't ready to leave.
    I don't need to get into details here as I've likely already set the stage for what happened next, but the short version of it - in attempts to leave on my own, I was raped by an older partygoer in one of the bedrooms when he'd lured me inside under the pretense that he would be making a phone call for me.  I ended up walking out of the party pretty much unnoticed, as everyone around me was drunk, passed out, stoned or otherwise oblivious.  BECAUSE of the booze, BECAUSE of the music.  BECAUSE of this very setting.
    So - I explained all of this to M.  For her, it made sense right away - that, for the past 22 years, I have been unwittingly connecting the bar setting with the party setting - that whenever someone were to ask me to go have a drink, my automatic answer, without thinking about it, is 'hell, NO.'  It doesn't matter who I'll be with, even if it's J.  Even if it's someone whom I KNOW would not leave me flat.  I don't mind the occasional drink of alcohol - I even have a favorite!  (And if you've actually read this far, you're welcome to inquire on what it is in the comments!)  I just prefer to drink at home - on MY turf, either alone with J or with my family members.  Imbibing is not something I do frequently, as I also deal with that pestering guilt of ENJOYING something that indirectly caused my trauma 22 years ago.  I was not intoxicated at the time - I was sober.  But the person I was with was drunk (and I don't even know WHERE she was when I left!) and I'm uncertain of what my attacker had in his system, as when he approached me, he did NOT have a drink or a joint in his hand.  Regardless, I automatically find myself arriving at the same place each and every time I recall this moment in my life.  She was drunk.  Had she not been drunk, this would NOT have happened!
    I didn't realize even THIS until Friday, either - but the loud, obnoxious personalities of both J's sister, as well as her boss/friend, both remind me of this particular 'friend,' (I use that term very lightly, we are not friends today) who has now made it impossible for me to look at anyone who ENJOYS heavy drinking, loud music, reckless, STUPID behavior and the bar/weed setting, etc, with anything other than loathing and disgust.  I honestly don't think it's the actual person I've grown to hate - because both J's sister and the boss/friend are (if I can remove their love of the things I hate) decent people.  If they were not, J wouldn't even like them at all nor would she associate with the boss/friend.  I know family is family and that is a connection that is not going to change but it is true for any of her friends.
    I just cannot connect with these types, especially if they are not willing to try and connect with ME, either.  And the way to do that, really isn't rocket science.  I need to feel that someone WANTS to get to know me, someone truly is interested in learning about the person I am.  I'm not getting that vibe from neither one of them.    
    I think that what it boils down to is - this is the TYPE of person that I can't bring myself to trust, the person who would choose alcohol or drugs over my well-being and peace of mind.  And not only do I not trust them, I don't find myself being able to ALLOW new people the opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy.  I simply don't leave my comfort zone long enough to do this.  I'm still, after 22 years, (or even longer!) living in fear of social settings, and not necessarily ONLY the ones where alcohol and loud music is included.  It has been said that I am 'different' whenever I am in a group of people.  I am quiet.  I focus on whatever it is we're doing (whether it's a board game or a meal) and do not engage in conversation, I laugh whenever everyone else laughs so I don't look completely oblivious, and I often pray no one has asked me a question that I just responded to with a laugh.  
    So perhaps, that's it.  This was the moment when the bulb went off in session.  Maybe this is why this woman's friendship with J is so bothersome to me - I wonder if I am also, deep down, fearing that this will eventually become something J enjoys, too.  SHE likes music, she likes drinking with friends.  She isn't into karaoke but she's in the process of evolving.  What if this is something that happens later?  (Not the karaoke specifically but rather, the more extroverted lifestyle?)  What if this a change that is yet to happen but is in the making? 
    This is NEVER going to be something I'm entirely okay with, no matter how much work I do on it.  It's not going to erase the injustice done to me by that other 'friend.'   I don't know how to fix this, either.  My speed is just different.  I am not opposed to having friends or making connections with people but I personally prefer 1:1 meetings for meals, coffee, shopping, something like that. I like the heart-to-heart talks - they are what strengthens a friendship.  I don't mind taking in a drink or two with J and perhaps one other person, but I HAVE to be within a setting that doesn't catapult these fears to the surface.  There IS one person, though, that I bowl with who is also a fan of the mixed drink.  She is, though, first a bowling friend than anything else and HAS truly made the effort to know both J and I on other levels and is becoming someone I can indeed consider developing a friendship with that is both based on trust and mutual fondness.  So, I guess this is progress. 
    I did remind J last night that I needed for us to stay close to each other through this...whatever it is we're going through.  No matter how irrational I've seemed lately, no matter how much of an asshole I appear to be at times when I feel threatened or otherwise rejected.  I joked that maybe one morning I would wake up to a world where EVERYTHING made sense.  That got a smile out of her, at least.  I suppose it WAS a funny thought to entertain, even for just a moment.  
    I'm just terrified of this type of adjustment I'm having to make, not to mention, sick and tired of being hurt, abandoned or otherwise expendable because I can't change these things about myself too easily.  I'm not sure if this means there's more from what happened 22 years ago that I've got to work on - maybe it does.  I've had some therapy, but maybe not enough.  Maybe this is the point in time when that unfinished business has become more evident and has chosen to show up - and not politely, either - the expression 'bull in a china shop' comes to mind when I try to picture the state of my brain at the moment!
    The issue of abandonment is also becoming more prominent following my birthday celebration last month.  (Not sure if this is even worth to mention - but J's sister did not attend my surprise 40th nor did she even care to follow up on it.  She was supposed to come, but claimed that her hand was hurting following an injury - yet if the party were for J, a little hand pain would certainly have been a non-issue and she'd have been the first one to arrive.  And J had also invited boss/friend to this party, too - SHE didn't come either, apparently something came up for her, too.)  And then we add to that, the staggering number of long-time friends I also had not show up or follow up either - it just all succeeded at making these thoughts even more confusing and bothersome and my heart genuinely HURTS right now over ALL of it.  
    That's it for today, I suppose.  It's taken two days to get all of this written out - and yes, this is unusual for me, too.  I'm normally able to hammer out one of these blog entries in a matter of a few hours, but this has taken me DAYS.  Even now I'm reading and re-reading and my finger is hovering over the 'DELETE' button...I'm unsure of how much I even like myself and how I am right now, so how can I expect too many others to?  The more I think about it, the more I am tempted to just click out of the tab because some of it probably seems so SILLY - but these are authentic concerns of mine and regardless of how they come across, they're things that NEED to be said.  So it's time, I guess, to hit 'SEND' and be done with it.  
    So...here goes.   
    *pressing button*
    - Capulet
  19. 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
  20. Capulet
    Have you ever walked into a class or a training or instructional setting to find that you already knew the material?
    This week's group meeting was exactly this for me.  I arrived a few minutes early so that I could use the bathroom and just sit and relax for a few minutes prior to the meeting.  Once I sat down and saw in front of me the art materials, I sort of knew right away what we'd be working on.  There were watercolors, crayons, markers, cups of water, paint brushes, glue, and two sets of plain, white flower cutouts in three sizes.
    "Is this a lotus?" I asked the leader.  She looked genuinely surprised that I was able to identify the project before she'd explained it to us.
    "It IS!"  She said.  
    A couple of the other ladies that were there were a bit unfamiliar with the symbolism behind the lotus, so there was a brief period of meditation/explanation before we started.  Then, we were instructed to color in/put together our lotus and write a little on what the colors we chose meant to us - the meaning/significance of the lotus itself had already been discussed, and we had a very wide variety of colors/art materials to choose from to use in decorating our lotus, along with a sheet of looseleaf paper.
    I should say first, that I actually did not know what a lotus flower was until joining AS in 2007.  It's always been the image I'd see on the site's main page and forums page - the hands cradling a lotus.  I remember looking it up and deciding that this was indeed a significant flower representing my long-time healing journey and that I'd someday get this flower tattooed on my calf (although the location is indeed negotiable, it is now dependent on the SIZE tattoo I'd like to get).  
    I chose for the the largest/bottom 'layer' of my lotus to be PURPLE.  Purple has ALWAYS been my absolute favorite color, so it felt fitting to choose this for my 'base' color.  I would later realize that purple is also the Domestic Violence awareness color.  I was fully intending to recognize my survival of DV in the crafting of my lotus and to give it a 'layer' of its own rather than sharing it with my 'base' color, but have slowly come to realize that this, although it took me YEARS to realize, is the type of abuse that I have endured the longest.  Eight years of DV, on top of a one-time rape at 17, and maybe 2-3 years of CSA that I cannot remember details surrounding - maybe THIS is indeed the 'big one?'  Maybe it's appropriate after all, to make purple my base color - for this is the color that likely best describes me and my current struggles.
    Next came the TEAL layer. Teal is the Sexual Assault awareness color.  This, I've known for a while, despite just having made the recent realization about purple.  I felt it appropriate to stack the teal over the purple, to represent that I've 'carried' sexual assault with me for the last two decades + two years.  For a long time, this was a very, VERY heavy thing for me to carry upon my shoulders and try to heal from, all the while I was trying to raise my kids, be a mother, a wife, a homemaker.  I am somewhat pleased to say that over time, it's become significantly lighter - but it is still a VERY important part of me that should indeed be recognized.
    Finally, for the top layer, I chose PINK, to represent hope, healing and the love of oneself and others.  I know pink is USUALLY representative of surviving/awareness of breast cancer - but like cancer, sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence - these are IMPACTFUL events in a person's life.  Upon further investigation of the color pink, I've discovered that this color also represents caring, compassion and love.  It stands for unconditional understanding - and is associated with giving and receiving care.  Yes, this color indeed belongs on my lotus - and right on the top layer, to show that regardless of what I am already carrying, I still have the strength to heal, and at the same time, provide that unconditional love, support and empathy towards others who are trying to accomplish the same.
    And pictured below - is my completed lotus.  It's nothing extravagant,  but I'm happy to share with you what went through my mind during the making of it.  It also helps that my bedroom floors are the color of mud - after all - "the deeper the mud, the more beautiful the bloom."  Unless you're me and your coloring skills leave much to be desired. 
    I hope this finds everyone in good spirits.  I will try and update again before Thanksgiving - but JUST in case I do not - I wish you all a blessed Turkey Day.  I am thankful most especially for all of the friends I have made here - the very first place I've seen such a beautiful flower, and the same place that best taught me the meaning of rising above.
    - Capulet 
  21. 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
  22. Capulet
    Hello, friends. 
    As many of you already know, I spend a good portion of every day just thinking.  You could call it self-meditation I guess, but without the breathing exercises as most of my current thoughts do not warrant 'calming' breaths.  I just find myself sitting silently, staring into space, and just zoning.   This past week has been one of those weeks where a lot of thinking and reflection has been done.  I am now finding that I'm feeling uncertain about some things - if not uncertain, then just plain confused. I'm probably confusing all of you right now, as a matter of fact, so I'll not beat around the bush any longer. 
    There is one thing that has been on my mind for the last several days.
    I have shared this privately with some of you but haven't mentioned it here, yet.  My parents and J threw a surprise 40th birthday party for me this past weekend.  I've known about it for months, though - I am NOT an easy person to surprise, although there were a few surprises within the (non) surprise that I WAS pleased with.
    Back in August, my mother planted the 'bug' in my ear that she was planning a 65th birthday celebration and that I should keep November 3rd open.  I knew that this would also be the year I turn 40, and that SOMETHING was coming - it was just a matter of WHEN - so this mention of the date was the first 'hint.'  
    This was another - we were on our way home from the wasband's - I want to say it was my goddaughter's birthday and we were there for dinner.  I expressed a desire to have a Halloween party this year.  Halloween fell on a Wednesday this year, and that's a workday/school day for most, so the idea was immediately met with, "well, why don't you do it the weekend before or the weekend after?"  The wasband then (perhaps too) QUICKLY corrected himself and said, "On second thought, do it the weekend before."  (The weekend after would be November 3rd.)  He is NOT one to give any thought to family gatherings, and he's sat the last several out.  Go figure - he makes a big deal when he's not invited and when he IS, he doesn't go.  
    Anyway, on the way home, I turned to J and asked her what was really happening on November 3rd.  She asked why I was asking.  I told her my suspicion that this was not a party for my mother, and that she was trying to throw me off the scent of my own party.  
    J admitted to it, then - and made me promise that I would not let on that I knew.  But she also said she was glad I'd figured it out because SHE wanted my input on things so that she could ensure that things were exactly as I'd like for them to be - my mother is a manipulative, controlling woman above all of her good qualities and tends to attempt to control EVERYTHING she puts her hands on, everything she gets involved with.  She tries to take over, she tries to top everything, she tries to take credit for it all.  The thought of her being in charge of everything was...ugh.  No.  My mother does know how to have a good time, she's good with food choices, she's good at baking cookies and cakes, she's good at tracking down guests and harassing them for RSVPs, (I know this for a fact....she was bugging ME to RSVP to my niece's 1st birthday before I even received the freakin' invitation in the mail!) and so on.  
    But Oompa's interests are NOT the same as mine.  NOT at ALL.  Before expressing my concerns to J about it, I'd been dreading the thought of her being the primary showrunner - and given how I'm feeling toward my mother in general, (other stuff that I'm trying to deal with internally) I didn't even think I WANTED this party.  I also found out then that she was not planning it on her own - my father and J were splitting the plans three ways - so it did make me feel a bit better about the party.  I would be behind-the-scenes, I would be able to provide J with answers to those questions that would likely come up. Plus, I could help give her ideas on who to include on the Facebook invitations - she set up an event page and I supplied about three dozen names.  Knowing they wouldn't all show up, it was still a way for me to make sure that those important to me were included and invited.  My mother doesn't know who most of these people are and I knew she'd only invite the people SHE knew.
    There were also times my mother would drive my J absolutely insane.  When the subject of seating arrangements came up - J let her know we didn't need them.  It was better to let people show up and sit wherever they wanted - perhaps a table could be reserved for the immediate family but everyone else should be free to sit wherever or with whomever they 'gravitated' and it wouldn't be a major issue.  You would think that would be enough, but no.  She kept right on singing the 'I don't know how to plan a party without seating arrangements' song - eventually I told J to let her know that she was free to seat the family as she saw fit but to allow the guests she didn't know the privilege of finding their own seat.  Seemed like a fair compromise for the time being.  
    So, anyway, this past Saturday was the 'big day.'  At this point, BOTH J and I were ready for it to be over with.  She has vowed never to be on a planning committee with my mother again and was looking forward to not having to argue about seating arrangements or however the napkins were folded.  I was getting tired of pretending not to notice all the whispering, the winks, the 'does she know yet?' looks.  Oh and practicing my 'surprised' face.  I had to make sure it wasn't the 'I knew all about this' face when I walked in, so I do admit to practicing my 'surprised entrance face' on my five cats for the past several weeks.  (Yes, I did.)
    I'll mention that ANY announcement to my kids that we're going to a 'family gathering' is usually met by moaning, groaning, eye-rolling, stomping of the feet, whining, irrational excuses and just about ANYTHING negative...I did not receive such protest from neither of my children when I mentioned to them that "Grandma" was having a party for her 65th birthday.  The Son even tried to 'play dumb' and said, 'so, why's she celebrating her birthday late?'  To that, I simply supplied the reason my mother had given me, there are simply too many October birthdays, so she wanted to break away from that cluster.  
    On the morning of, both kids got dressed without complaining about THAT, too - (they are DEFINITELY my kids - most comfortable in sweat pants/leggings and tee shirts!)  They both cleaned up as nicely as they could while remaining comfortable - him in a polo shirt and khakis, she wore a lace sleeved black shirt and black pants with heels.  By then, the cat's been out of the bag for a while but I wasn't about to let these two know that I already knew what I'd be walking into.  Nah, I was gonna milk it.
    Under the guise that she was 'working,' J had gone early in the morning to help with the party set-up.  So I arrived with the kids a half-hour later than they had asked everyone else to show up.  J met me outside, she was the 'go get her' person while I assume my mother turned all the lights off inside and was ordering everyone into position.  
    When I walked in, of course, everyone yelled out, "surprise!"  (And damn it, my cats were not there for me to respond in the manner that I had practiced!)
    I looked at my kids, who walked in behind me.  They were smiling, they had their phones out and were probably recording/taking pictures.
    "You two knew all about this, eh?" I said to them.  Then, the lights were flicked back on and one by one, the guests began to greet/hug me.  In a way, this was good because I didn't have to put on so much of a show.  Of course, EVERY SINGLE ONE asked me if I was surprised.  I'm a terrible, TERRIBLE liar (you can ask J - there's apparently a 'tell' - I giggle/blush when lying) so I said I had a suspicion, but yes, I was indeed surprised.  I just didn't tell them WHAT I found surprising.    
    I WAS pleasantly surprised to see that my closest and dearest cousin, (whom I haven't seen since 2011) flew up from Florida.  He came by himself, he has a wife and kids that I've not yet met (but will in January) - but this was likely one of the better surprises that came from that day.   His mother came - this is the aunt who is the at the root of my ED/weight issues but she was pleasant and said NOTHING other than how good I looked.  So that was another 'nice' surprise.
    I was also surprised in a way that almost makes me feel ashamed to admit.  Ungrateful, even.  Because those who have gotten to know me know that I am not a hard person to please.  The little things make my heart happy.  I'm laid back, I'm extremely low maintenance.  I don't require extravagance, just things as simple as love, loyalty and honesty from the people I care about.  So to write this blog entry makes me feel, for the moment, the exact opposite of thankful - and I do NOT wear this feeling well.  I hate myself for feeling even the slightest bit unappreciative of this party that my fiancee put in a great deal of effort (and worked together with my parents and managed to refrain from killing my mother) to pull off.   I love her with ALL of my heart and it KILLS me to feel anything less than beholden.  
    You see, I quickly spotted that out of the three dozen 'other' people I'd insisted on J inviting through Facebook, maybe two or three were standing in that room.  
    Don't get me wrong, this was not an 'empty' party by any means.  About 40 to 50 people were there.  My immediate family was present.  My parents, step parents, my sisters, their husbands and their husband's parents, my two beautiful nieces and my handsome nephew.  An aunt and uncle from both my mother's side and my father's.  My cousin and aunt from Florida, along with another local cousin, his wife and kids were there.  The wasband, his wife, and three of the four other children were there.  My four bowling friends from where I live now were there - they carpooled and came.  J's parents drove in from Massachusetts.  Originally more of her family was SUPPOSED to come but in the end, it was just her parents.  Then there were a couple of my mother's friends, people I've known for at least two or three decades.  And a few others I'll mention below.
    My best friend, someone that I've known since 1996, was not there.  (I think this is truly the one no-show that stung the most.)
    My high school BFF and her family - who had been sent a paper invitation because she was not on Facebook - was not there.
    Another friend I've known since CHILDHOOD, who coincidentally LIVES near where the party was held - was not there.
    The members of my softball team from where I used to live?  They were all invited.  NONE of them came.
    About twenty of my bowling friends from the league back in New York were invited.  TWO showed up.  (They were a husband and wife.)
    Then there were random people that I watched J invite - people that although I don't see them often and most correspondence nowadays is through Facebook, were still adored enough for me to want them included within the celebration.  
    None of them came, either.  And some were people I considered to be family, I'd known them THAT long, probably since I was in diapers.  And it's not because they lived too far away - some of them lived far closer to where the party was than I do.  
    I had one FB friend come - and she isn't even someone I've ever really been close to.  I have known her for twenty years, but there was a very long gap in between then and when we reconnected about three years ago.  But regardless of the gap in communication, SHE came.  So while that was a nice surprise, I was also gobsmacked at just how many DIDN'T.
    I mean, yeah - life happens.  But it just chafes me that ALL of these people had over a months' notice to make sure they didn't have to work or they didn't make any alternative plans for that day.  Yet most of them waited until the absolute last minute - some even the morning of the party, to say they weren't coming.  Some said they had other plans, but I don't buy it - if you knew you had plans, why didn't you say something sooner?  
    So while I truly appreciate my parents' and J's efforts to throw me a party, I cannot help that feeling of disappointment that started at the moment I walked in.  Maybe it wasn't complete disappointment because to say that would be an insult to the people who DID make the effort to come.  I am thinking that maybe the correct word is 'sadness.'  
    Yes.  That's it.  
    It is a very deep sadness/hurt that I don't know how to suppress, as I fill out the thank-you cards to the people who did come - while I truly AM appreciative that THESE people chose to make the occasion more special by being there and I sincerely enjoyed their presence, I cannot shake the nagging feeling that most of them likely came out of familial obligation.  It does NOT make me feel good about the person I've become in the eyes of those who were absent, regardless of the excuses supplied.  When you love and care about someone, your ass is there for them - you make it happen.  You DON'T wait until the fucking day before or the morning of the party to send a text or Facebook RSVP - that's just plain LOW.
    It feels like, to them, I've become expendable.
    I want so much for that to be an exaggeration, but it certainly doesn't feel that way.  And for some of these no-show friends - this was the final straw.  Some of these are people I've opened up to, for fuck's sake, because I trusted them with the version of myself that not everyone knows.  
    If I wasn't done with them before, (because I had hopes of them coming around eventually) I certainly am, now.  
    Have I disconnected myself from others to the point where they think it doesn't hurt if they choose not to show up for me?  
    Is this my fault???  Is this something I've done to myself?
    Am I being childish about this?  I feel like I am and that I should just be thankful for how nicely (it truly was - my J did a fantastic job!) this party turned out, despite these no-shows - but there IS that soft, almost muted, little voice in the back of my head, saying that I'm indeed not being immature about it.  It's also saying that I have a right to be sad.  
    Thoughts on this, guys?  And I'm not asking for pity - just a little validation that what I'm feeling isn't unwarranted.
    ....few hugs wouldn't hurt, either.
    - Capulet
  23. Capulet
    Happy Halloween, friends!  I hope everyone is satisfying their sweet tooth and staying safe in the process!
    Will try not to scare anyone with today's blog entry.  It won't be a long one - it serves as a little bit of a double purpose, though.  
    To clarify - I made an appointment for a 1:1 session with the woman who runs the monthly support group that I have been attending.  At the close of the last meeting, I inquired on potential volunteer opportunities for me, and a possible 1:1 session where I could come in and dump some of what was going on with me.  It wasn't an emergency - but at the time, it had been a rough week; I was feeling overall anxiety and uncertainty for MOST of this past month but especially so after recent discussions with my fiancee in regards to her rising social status.  (That can be read up on in my 'turbulence ahead' entry, if interested.)  My relationship, I don't think was ever in any danger - I just didn't realize that right away.  I needed TIME to process everything, to do so in the moment has NEVER been my strong point.  When I'm battling conflicting feelings and inner dialogue, I am guilty of  temporarily shutting down while I overthink things until they make sense.  Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes it takes weeks, months, years.  At any rate, it's always been the safest pace for me.
    While I think I can safely say that those most recent meltdowns POSSIBLY could be related-but-not-related to my anniversary being at the beginning of this month (which is over tomorrow - GOODBYE, October!) I am feeling a LOT better, now - more calm, more at peace with some of the changes I'm working toward.  I've got some new goals, new responsibilities, new PLANS.  For the first time in several months, I feel I am making progress toward being more successful, more accomplished, climbing out of the 'same ol', same ol'' pit that I've been stuck in for far too long.  There are still some things I am waiting to hear about (school) but for now, everything else is going GREAT.
    And so, I've entertained the thought of cancelling Friday's appointment.  I got the 'you better not!' look from the fiancee when I told her - and so I've decided that rather than cancel it, I'll instead give some thought to what I can 'bring' with me on Friday.  Earlier last week when an appointment time was emailed to me, I asked if it would be all right to bring with me something I wrote - kind of a breakdown of what I felt I needed to work on with myself right now.
    I know I'm going to have to answer the question posted in the title - 'why am I here?'  (Isn't that the FIRST thing a new counselor or therapist will ask?)  And given my past experience with therapy, I'm more likely to shrug and say, "you tell me."  That's not going to fly, I know.  I need to have an answer.  
    I'll discuss my search for additional purpose...the growing need to become more active and involved.  There are already some ways that I've already done so - but it honestly should NOT be THIS much of a challenge!  Especially in the 'offline' mode; I need to better prepare myself for going back to school and other upcoming social opportunities that may arise.  I need to feel the confidence to take on these things without doubting myself and what I know I'm capable of.
    I've done very little 'work' on healing from the DV my ex-husband put me through.  It wasn't even until recently that I realized that I was a DV survivor on top of the other stuff.  On everything else, I've done PLENTY of healing work, thinking, writing, sorting through, soul searching.  But I think MOST of my current mental conflicts are a direct result of his handiwork - although I've broken away from him and have not been his wife for nearly eleven years, his influence STILL haunts me today.  And it's in many ways, affecting my desire to put myself out there.  I just feel that, for the moment, there are 'consequences' to enjoying myself around others.
    I've only got 45-50 minutes for the session, so I'll start with this.  I'm not sure if this is going to become a regular occurrence, going to counseling.  I only know this lady through the group meetings and don't know if she will be an ideal sounding board but the only failure in this case would be not giving it a try.  Either way, I think it will be enough to talk about this time.
    I will be back later on over the weekend or early next. ;)  
    Hoping you're all having a great day.  Please keep me in your thoughts on Friday - and all of your fingers crossed that I can walk out of that meeting feeling a heightened, if not complete, sense of clarity.
    - Capulet
  24. Capulet
    Hi, all!  
    I'm not sure what today's blog is going to be primarily about, so we'll call it a smorgasbord.  We'll try a little bit of everything!  It's been a turbulent week (I've been using that word a lot - I feel it best describes a lot of the unexpected emotional twists I've had to endure this past week) and today is only the second day that I haven't felt as if I were on the verge of tears.  I've done a lot of thinking and have been able to put a few things into perspective, so am feeling stable enough to try and transfer some of it here.
    To start with, I have an interesting question for my survivor friends and peers.  
    Do any of you experience an unexplained physical coldness/chill during those 'turbulent' anniversary time frames?  My anniversary has already passed - it was on the 4th of this month, but I am wondering if some of the side effects are taking me a little bit longer to move past?  It is 67 degrees in my house at the moment (I've checked the thermostat multiple times!) - and I'm FREEZING.  My fingers are literally icicles. I've been 'cold' all week last week and thought it was because of the drop in overall temperatures, but....67 degrees?  I shouldn't be dressed like an eskimo and have my hood on while indoors just yet.  Aside from feeling like my bones are constructed purely out of ice cubes, I feel fine.  I do not have a temperature, I am not sniffly or have a cough.  My fiancee remains a furnace (I wouldn't want to subject her to cuddling with me right now, though) and my kids have said that they're not cold.  I do have to add that I remember feeling cold, above other things, on that night 22 years ago, but I cannot remember if I felt this same unnatural chill during last year's anniversary time - or the previous, and so on.  Is this new???  And if it is, what brought this on?
    So, I had my second group session last night.  More people showed up to this one - and one person from the first meeting was there.  They first started off with some meditation - something I don't have a whole lot of experience with.  I was having trouble with the listening part (the leader was instructing us all to take our deep breaths, try and picture a safe place, inhale, exhale, relax this, relax that) and I couldn't really participate-along with the rest of them because by the time I got the 'message' to do whatever, she was already moved onto the next thing.  It wasn't her fault - it's just a casualty that being deaf has taught me to have to accept from time to time.  So, safe to say, this part of the meeting was not effective for me.  And I'd soon learn that the meditation was something leading up to the NEXT part - although I do already have a lot of experience with journaling, she handed out plain black-and-white composition notebooks and asked us to decorate the cover to reflect and show where our 'safe place' was during the prior meditation process.  A place that I'd not 'arrived' at, nor would I be able to envision as effectively as the rest of the ladies in the room.
    Well, SHIT.  I'm already flunking at support groups!
    So, after some quick deliberation, I ended up taking a different approach on the design of my journal cover.  I'll PROBABLY not use my journal at all - this is the place where I've been able to most effectively convey my deepest thoughts.  Maybe I'll consider printing out some of my most powerful and impactful entries and pasting them into the book - perhaps there will be a future discussion where I'll be able to read from some of those entries - I'll have already thought them out and perhaps they will resonate with someone else.  Otherwise, the pages will likely remain blank.  
    To fill a page wasn't even the assignment; it was to present a decorated cover - depicting or representing my safe place.  It's safe to say I don't really have a 'place,' but there are some things that I try to remind myself of when I meditate - or rather, through my own way of meditation.  Yes, I do the deep breaths, I do inhale and exhale, but while I do this, I do not picture a particular place.  I instead mentally throw all of my cards onto the table and address each of whatever my current struggles are, with a motivating counter-thought.
    And lately, I probably could do with a little more of (my type) of meditation.  I'm going to sideline this particular thought train for a little while so that I can explain a little bit more about why I'm feeling the excess turbulence this month.  
    We already know by now that it's my anniversary month - and that this year, I'm experiencing some different side effects.  
    Another thing that's been on my mind....(and this is something I've had that internal debate on whether or not I should share it with you guys or keep it to myself)...is a recent dialogue with J that has left me very confused, very unsettled and very anxious.  
    First off, it wasn't a fight.  We don't fight.  We sometimes disagree, but neither one of us wants to fight with the other - we talk about things more often than not, but there ARE times where we 'drop' things and leave them alone because it's something that's not going to be resolved and falls into the 'just bitching' category.  Sometimes this is best, but lately, it's only succeeded in mounting our problems and issues and they are now starting to wiggle like a stack of Jenga blocks threatening to come tumbling down at any moment.
    I've mentioned before that she's become more social and has taken a liking to going out with her friends after work.  Sometimes it's once a week, sometimes it's twice.  I've also mentioned previously that I am absolutely hating this - not that she's blossomed into a social butterfly, because that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but more so that she's found things to do and ways to have fun that do not involve me but instead involve people that are seemingly taking up 'more' of her than I am.  I don't even know if I feel this way because I'm not at that same point in my own life, but either way, it has left me feeling more and more lonely than usual.  And lately, I've been more openly 'bitter' about her spending time with her friends - she'll, as a courtesy, let me know when she has made spontaneous plans after work, and I'll usually respond with a one-liner that fails to hide my disappointment.  Last week, this such one-liner was, "Ughhhhh."  PROBABLY not the best choice of words, but in the moment, it's what my fingers wanted to type.  
    Now, she KNOWS how I feel about social situations in general, and she knows about the anxiety I feel when it comes to the expansion of my own social circle.  She also knows that I quietly fume to myself whenever I'm told I won't be seeing her after work.  I have been honest about that and we both understand this is a direct result of what my ex has successfully ingrained in me.  She continues to remind me that I am no longer married to him, I am FREE now, and I need "more than just her" in my life.  This, too, is something I am struggling with - because for the last ten years that I've been divorced, it's been just her and I - there wasn't a need for me to have 'other people' to share (EVERYTHING) with.  It was a nice, comfortable, PRIVATE circle.  Either way, I've recently (probably for the last year) watched her change in multiple ways, from the person she used to be into a more evolved version of herself.  She's now made a true friend out of her boss, is becoming more and more friendly with co-workers and has taken more interest in doing things outside of our home 1-2 days a week.  As a direct result of some of these changes in her, she has now taken notice of me becoming increasingly withdrawn and snippy.  On top of all of this, she's also made the choice to return to therapy, a choice I support 100% since she's also mentioned the need to do some maintenance work on herself - something I think we ALL need from time to time.
    I'm not sure if the return-to-therapy is what prompted her to bring up on Sunday evening, that she felt that we BOTH needed to work on things within our relationship.  She made it clear that while she wasn't unhappy, she just felt that there were some things that needed changing.  
    This confused the fuck out of me, I won't lie.  The first thing that came to mind, was, "Oh, my God, I'm losing her."  
    And for the entire day on Monday, I sat in silence and solitude - ready to cry at the drop of a hat - and thought, thought some more and thought HARD.  About everything that was said on Sunday night - which confused me even more.  She had stated she wanted me to be 'okay' with her outings so that she didn't feel guilty about them.  I told her that I wasn't going to hold her back from going out with her friends, but at the same time, I couldn't be expected to be automatically okay with it, either.  It was something I needed to work at, as well as something entirely new that I needed to adapt to.  On Sunday, it got to the point where she ended up telling me that I've been saying I would figure it out for a while now (truth) and haven't done so, yet.  I responded that I was trying - "Rome wasn't built in a day!"  Another thing she mentioned was that she wanted me to be more honest with her about what I was feeling - which baffled me, because I guess, I thought I already was.  My "ughhhh" text message was an honest response.  My admission that this wasn't easy for me was another honest thought.  My snippiness and grouchiness whenever she talks about her pals, you'd think that is all based on some form of honesty.  
    How much more honesty did she want from me?  I think she sensed there was more that needed to be said, but at the moment, I was feeling lost and was drawing blanks.  Granted, emotions were running wild and I admit to having lost my shit on Sunday night during our talk, in an ugly-cry sort of way.  We both agreed to take the day on Monday to do some thinking and we'd reconvene when we were both in a better frame of mind.
    So, on Monday, after a long day of reflection, I was able to summarize a little bit more of what I was feeling and I broke it down some to J.  Not by choice - I was already semi-crying when she got home from work.  I had tried my hardest to hide from her my 'I'm holding it in' face, but when you're with someone for as long as we've been together, these things become virtually un-hideable.  She asked me what was the matter and I lost it again.
    And so, out it came.  What I'd realized in the less than 24 hours since Sunday's blind-siding conversation.  I have not changed.  She has.  She now has a more demanding job.  As is, our time spent together has diminished greatly.  She works a 40-hour week and VERY often ends up putting in a ton of OT to make it a SIXTY-hour work week.  Add to that, she's become so increasingly tired, unnecessarily stressed out, and on the days she comes home from work, all she wants to do is eat a quick dinner and go to sleep.  And as far as her friends go - it feels like they get more out of her than I do because she goes out with them AFTER an already extended day at work.  I VERY rarely even SEE her before she leaves in the morning (it's usually right after 6am) and when she's out with her friends, she comes home at 10 or 11pm and I'm LUCKY to get a five-minute conversation out of her before she's snoring.  She spends time with her boss for just about the entire duration of the work day and then there's the 'after work' activities that include this same woman, (counting two separate occasions when J went to help her move into her new apartment) so yes, maybe I do have a legitimate problem with that and maybe this is why the MENTION of this woman's name makes me envious enough to want to punch something.  MAYBE this is why when J invites me to come along, I really don't have any interest in it.  These are the people who are taking her away from me; (I know that's an unrealistic, paranoid thought, but for the moment, it was yet another honest take on it) why would I want to associate with them?  They represent the 'fun' that she's having that I am not a part of.  I am instead left feeling genuinely lonely after lately not seeing much of my one and only consistent 'person.'
    And that's just not a nice feeling at all - it's how I felt when I was married to my ex and he didn't want me to have any 'other' people - and it's not how I want to make J feel, either.  You see, I KNOW where my strengths and weaknesses are - and perhaps the biggest confusion here is - neither one of us has done anything wrong.  We remain faithful to one another - that's never been a question.  We love each other.  We just are, for the moment, at different places in our social lives and she's just more comfortable with her newfound status than I am.  And just because she has changed, does not mean I also have to if it's not what I want or am not mentally ready for.
    I honestly DO, though.  I don't want to let this go right now and then have to revisit the same problem ten, fifteen years down the road when she and her boss friend decide to take up knitting together after work days.  (Another unrealistic guess, but y'all get the point I am trying to make!)  I am absolutely TERRIFIED that if, by some twist of fate, I ever lost her, I would TRULY be a mess.  I'd force myself to physically move on but emotionally, that is going to be the challenge of my life, as I've no desire to forge this type of connection with anyone else, should she become unavailable to me.  I can honestly say I'd be FINISHED and a permanent emotional shut-down would likely be inevitable.
    We had a longer (calmer) talk after my (blatantly honest) little outburst.  
    I first have to admit that it didn't feel so good, though, guys.  I know that we're not likely to get what we need or want unless we ask for it, but I can't help but feel as if expressing these (irrational or not?) fears has made her see me in an entirely different light.  Does she now see me as an inconsiderate, ungrateful, needy bit*h?  I am not a selfish person at all and I'm admittedly the type to want to avoid confrontation at all costs, so just spitting out all of this inner poison has made me feel even more like shit!  I thought it was supposed to feel GOOD to take any kind of a stand - but nope, I'm not feeling that, just yet.
    But, despite what I'm feeling, she heard me.  And unlike my ex, she actually acknowledged what I was saying and where I was coming from.  This, too, is something that STILL floors me, even after almost a decade of being in a healthy, trusting, communicative relationship.  Maybe that's why this feels like uncharted territory - I've NEVER had that before.  If I ever were to tell my ex how I felt, he would have slammed me back with insults describing how the way I was feeling was entirely my fault and about how truly damaged I was.  My J and my ex are absolutely not the same person - not by a long shot - J is a kind, loving person while my ex was a monstrous asshole that has succeeded in reducing my self worth into an unidentifiable pulp.
    We have decided that she will work on being more present when she's at home.  Together, we'll do whatever it takes, we'll go out, we'll engage in activities that will keep her from falling asleep so soon after coming home from work.  Bowling two nights a week certainly helps!  We'll liven up our relationship by having a once-a-week dinner date night (not a bowling night), where it will just be the two of us.  We'll have a drink together.  We'll take in the occasional movie.  We'll try new things.  Last night was the first of several 'date nights' to come; we met up at a local steakhouse after my group meeting.  And it was truly nice to take that time to start to reconnect - because, as much as I hate to admit it, we DID lose something along the way.  It's never been MORE important to me to try and reclaim that connection before it drifts even further, simply because she's become too busy or I'm responding by shutting down. 
    And in the meantime, I have some work to do....more so for myself than for anyone else - but work regardless.  I will work on trying to find other things to become involved in and I will do so at my own pace.  I will put my social anxieties aside and join her on an outing with her work friends from time to time - and I will ATTEMPT to get to know some of them.  I've already spent some time with the boss lady, and all jealousies aside, she is not a terrible person.  I will keep more of an open mind when it comes to dipping my toe into these social situations.  
    We have established that relationship-wise, I trust my J completely, I am not afraid she'll fall in love with someone else.  This isn't the issue.  I've determined that I am more afraid that she'll eventually evolve even more and discover that she truly likes or wants more than what she has with the boring, laid-back, homebody that I have learned to be.  I am loyal.  I am trustworthy.  But right now, I don't feel 'fun,' nor do I have much to offer someone as far as a good time goes.  I'm stuck in a rut and I NEED to climb out of it.  
    And so, I am going to begin to work on trusting MYSELF; and in my ability to intiate a transformation of my own.  Given where I am right now and all of the damage that has already been done, it may take years.  But, I will get there.  I think I just needed to feel more united and connected with my "main" person in order to take these steps toward learning to trust and confide in and learn to relax around others. I needed to be able to feel that I'm not in the process of losing the one person who changed my life for the better.  And perhaps, that's the root of my recent snippiness - I do not respond well when I feel threatened with that idea - it also makes sense that this is why J's family/sister's words to me several months ago are STILL fucking with my brain.  This is why I cannot get past what was said to me, even if it was said in desperation or anger.  It cannot be unsaid and is possibly where all of this started.  
    Well, at least we recognize it - and I'm happy to say that we are working on us.  I know no relationship is perfect and by all means, neither is ours.  We are as good a couple as they come, but we've never had to really work at it, though.  It's just always come so naturally to us both, and I think I need that reassurance that we aren't the only ones who hit the occasional bump in that road!
    Now, back to the journal cover that I was to design.  I found some 'phrases' in the pile of magazine clippings.  Words.  These are what I use to get through things.  I think about them, I redefine them, I write them.  Aside from some not-so-nice things, I've been called a wordsmith.  And so this is what I decided to decorate my composition notebook with.  Single words and phrases that right now, ring true for me.
    "A window of opportunity has opened."
    "Comfort zone."
    "Chocolate."  (A reference to THIS blog - I could not let that go without some form of recognition as this is where I usually retreat when I have a lot of mind-clutter.)
    "Your future is yet to be written."
    There were a couple more - along with cut-out letters that I used to spell out my real first name across the top of the book.  When my turn came, I explained that I'd taken a little bit of a different approach to my journal cover decorating - and discussed that I use words and phrases in order to quell whatever my current anxieties are.  And each of those statements, at the moment, mean something to me.  
    And why did I put my (given) name?  
    Well - my name as well as my identity is another thing that I am struggling to define. I can tell anyone my name, but I honestly don't have a clue who I even am, being constantly torn between the person I really am and the person I present as, is exhausting!
    You see, here, I am Capulet.  You all know why I am here.  You all know my story.  You know my fears, the things that make me happy, the things that make me sad.  Chances are, you feel the same way.  I've been nothing but honest with everyone through my blogs, my posts, my private conversations.  It helps that being here affords us all that unspoken understanding of each other - we're automatically able to validate one another because, one way or another, we all get it.  We don't have to truly know someone to understand them when they write something that rings true with us, too.  And so, I honestly feel more connected to myself when I am Capulet and less connected to the person that my given name represents - the person that people offline see.  And partially, this is my fault, I have spent so much time shielding these offline connections from the things that aren't so easy to share or explain face-to-face.  I feel like I am someone else.  And that 'someone else' is what people usually see upon spending time with me.  And if these people do not know or understand the reasons behind why I am the moody, withdrawn, shy, anxious, unapproachable person I appear to be (especially in social settings) then it's likely harder for them to make the extra effort it requires in order to get close to me.  Additionally I can't expect them to keep trying if I'm going to constantly shut them down.  This is yet another reason I feel that I need to work on opening up to more people, (once I've established them to be trustworthy) and allow them to understand me in entirety; allow them to see me, not only as Capulet, nor as the person they think I am.  But somewhere in the middle where both 'identities' can merge.  Only then will I truly begin to comfortably live my life as an evolved, transformed woman.
    After the meeting, I was feeling a little bold and inquired about whether the Women's Center had any volunteer opportunities.  I was told they do, however they require one full year of affiliation with the center before they consider taking on someone as a volunteer.  And so I will continue to attend the group meetings and take them all for what they're worth - even though I may not in the moment be able to gain anything from them, they are thought-provoking and force me to be honest with myself.
    I should mention that I am also feeling a little anxious about tomorrow's (yes, tomorrow's!) appointment with the VR intake counselor - I will be discussing with her the possibility of going back to school as a full-time student, and then continuing onto acquiring my bachelor's.  I am trying to allow myself to feel excited and to ignore that voice within (the one that seems to always be lying and misleading me) that is telling me that my dreams are not possible; that a better version of ME is not possible.  That I will have to settle for the minimum because I am aiming too high.  I don't think that will be an acceptable answer, and I fear that if this is the one I am given, that it will emotionally derail me - again.
    I've also made an appointment with the support group leader for next Friday - I feel satisfied with having shared this much tonight, but feel that if J can seek 'outside' help and a place to safely put all of her own 'excess' baggage, then I certainly can, too.  I'm not looking for a permanent thing - just a safe place to vent to someone who is unbiased and may be able to offer me some suggestions on how to initiate some of these much-needed and long overdue changes.
    I do feel a little bit better tonight.  I had all day to myself - she again went to trivia night with her friends.  And normally, you probably could see the smoke coming out of my ears while I silently fumed over being alone (again) but I think that tonight, I needed it, I truly needed the alone time to think and to process and to refocus.  I also think that I need to continue to find a different focus for the times/days she chooses to go out - tonight, my aim was to find a way to adequately express what was going through my mind this past week and I have done that.  Moving forward, I will just have to learn to occupy myself with different things and explore alternative ways of keeping busy when she's otherwise unavailable.  
    I just wish this newfound, unfamiliar quest of mine for more purpose in life wasn't so fucking scary!  And that it came more naturally for me without my having to work so hard at it.  
    And with that, it is time to wrap up.  I am emotionally drained (and ironically this will put me to sleep quicker than a dose of NyQuil) and have been for a while.  I've dropped with exhaustion before 12:30am for the last few nights - tonight, I'm up a little bit longer because it was important to me to not interrupt the flow of thoughts.  I've got that habitual tendency to 'drop' things if I'm too tired or reserve them for another time, but this simply could NOT wait.
    In closing, I thank you all for continuing to listen to me, for not giving up on me, for getting to know me, and for supporting me.  I know I am by no means perfect and I know deep down that I definitely do contribute to my own problems, but, shit...none of this is intentional - it's just what I know and was taught that was needed as primarily a means of self-protection.  It truly does help to also know that the persona that I feel most connected to, truly has an army behind her.  So for that, thank you.  I truly appreciate you all.
    - Capulet
  25. 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
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