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Blog Entries posted by Capulet

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

    - Capulet
  2. Capulet
    Hi friends,
    So sorry for the lapse in communication lately!  I've been sort of lurking (and I'm not sure I like that word, either - seems almost too 'creepy' to use on a site like this one) and have been doing more reading of than responding to but as always, my thoughts and well wishes have remained with you all.  I just needed a little time to adjust to and process the downswing of last week, when I was dealing with the passing of yet another anniversary.  Happy to say that sleeping has gotten better - I've only been 'startled' awake once this week.  The night time insomnia, however, remains my greatest hurdle - and sadly, will probably be a permanent battle.  
    Anyway, this will be a small, yet significant update.   I'll probably write more after my next support group meeting that is scheduled for next Tuesday.  I like the idea of being able to go over some of the topics discussed in group after I've had adequate time to give them the thought they deserve.
    I am, later tonight, going to be stepping outside of my comfort zone in a few different ways.
    A group of us (yes, I said GROUP!) are planning to meet up at a bar (yep, a place that serves alcohol!) for a couple of drinks and then we will proceed over to a local 'horror night' event.  The theme is Haunted Hotel - and it's apparently a yearly setup - to promote and further enhance the Halloween spirit as well as scare the shit out of anyone brave enough to venture inside.  It's a walk-through type of thing, we'll encounter plenty of those things that go bump in the night, our fair share of (fake) blood and guts, frightening scenes, etc.
    But this isn't what makes me nervous.  I'm not easily spooked by grotesque displays.  Those, I can handle and during Halloween, can be even be entertained or amused by. 
    So, what's my issue?
    For starters, we will be a group.  J and I have gotten close to the couple we bowl with on Friday nights - they are older than we are, but very young-at-heart and are a lot of fun to be around.  We've done other things with them, but it's been limited to contained, easy-to-follow and well-lit situations.  Bowling, for one...when one gets up to bowl, it's easy to have one-on-one conversations with the other.  We did an Escape Room with them and had a lot of fun.  We've had them over to watch football.  We've gone to their house for a game night.  They're awesome company and lots of laughs are usually had whenever they are around.  They are TRULY good people.
    J's boss, now also a friend of hers, will be joining us.  I've met her exactly once - and this is the person J has been spending a lot of time with - both inside and outside of work.  I still have my green-eyed monster lurking within (there's that word again!) but am currently trying to suppress it whenever she speaks of fun times with her friends - (times that don't involve lonely lil ol' me)  - I trust J with every fiber of my being and we both (as well as all of those who have been reading my blogs) know that this expanding circle of hers is my separate issue to work on - especially since I have SUCH trouble expanding my own.  Anyway, J's friend is also a fan of the spooky, macabre stuff.  And so, we (more so J) felt it was appropriate to invite her along. 
    So it WILL be a small group, but still a group.  And even these small group gatherings (and in the dark, to boot!) are uncomfortable for me.  Doesn't matter if it's family or it's friends - I still stand to miss a GREAT deal when there is group chatter and cannot help but feel the simmering anxieties that are present for the duration. I will likely be laughing along whenever they all laugh in unison, even if I have no idea what they're giggling at.  A small voice inside will (LIES!) tell me it's me and my complete obliviousness - not necessarily the truth, but still always the perceived idea.  
    So, first - we will be going to a bar (and this is also NOT my thing) for drinks and introductions (J's friend to our friends) beforehand.  On the rare occasion that I throw back, it is usually done within the safe confines of my own home - I do not feel comfortable drinking anywhere else or around others.  I'm sure it's because being around drunk people is an obvious trigger and usually brings me back to my 1996 incident, but have been told that I need to try to more frequently participate in things that I haven't had much success with in the past.  It's the only way I'm going to build up to being comfortable in social settings.  And this will strengthen my personal mission to build up to the eventual expansion of my own inner circle of trusted friends.
    I'm a different person, now, than I was in 1996.  I'm smarter.  More responsible.  I do trust J and our bowling friends - I don't think there will ultimately be any harm in my having a drink with them in good fun, but because I will not be at home where I feel most 'safe,' I am feeling like I'm back in high school and there's peer pressure - I don't want to be that 'wet blanket' and be the only one not drinking.  J's friend, as well as the couple we bowl with - are all social drinkers.  And going to the bar before the Haunted Hotel, was their idea - it certainly wouldn't be something I would suggest.  J, a non-drinker like me, is even considering having one, only because she's not fond of the 'scary' stuff and will require the liquid courage.  
    And, so, I will probably end up giving in to the 'peer pressure' and have one drink with them - not because I'm comfortable with it, but because I know that despite old (although not unfounded) fears, I need to be able to keep an open mind and try new things.  I will just ask the bartender to make it a mild one.  I will make it a personal mission to stifle any and all discomfort and truly try to put aside my reservations long enough to enjoy the evening.
    It all sounded like so much fun when it was proposed three weeks ago.   Not sure what happened between then and now, but presently, I feel that I am sincerely trying to convince myself that I won't have a good time when I may surprise myself instead.  Isn't that how it usually goes?  You dread something and then once you give it a legit try, you find that it's not as bad as you thought it'd be?
    Pray this is the case for me tonight, and that walking the fine line between what is comfortable and what isn't proves to be a positive experience rather than the negative one my brain is well-trained to expect.
    Will be back in the middle of next week.  Hope all is well with all of you!
    - Capulet
  3. Capulet
    Dear Eddie,
    It has taken me at least five whole minutes to decide whether a piece of shit like you warranted a 'dear.'  It was completely out of habit that I started this letter in the same polite, courteous way I would start a letter to anyone else.  YOU, however, are not just 'anyone else.'  
    I also debated whether or not I should use your name - I don't even know if it's your real name.  Either way, I have decided that I want people to know exactly who you are - and unfortunately, using your first name is not even enough.  This, though, is ALL I know about you.  There are many appropriate not-so-nice names I could call you, but for the moment, they elude me.  And so I'll use the name that has sparked terror and dread in me for the last twenty-two years.  
    While there's so much accumulated that I need to say to you, I don't even know where to start.  
    First of all, make no mistake - you're an absolutely despicable, horrible person and as far as I'm concerned, a waste of air and space.  But, no matter how much hatred I have for you, you're still, unfortunately, an important part of my life.  Not in the sense that I can't live without you - because I certainly CAN and honestly, would LOVE to.  As a matter of fact, I most likely would be living an entirely different life if it weren't for you.  I'm thinking that 'important' is a too nice a word - so perhaps I'll change it to 'significant.'  Clearly, that is ALSO too kind and positive a word to describe the likes of you.  
    I'm not going to worry about word-searching right now though; there's far too much that I need to say to you, regardless of whether or not you ever see this letter.  I'm certain you'll never hear me; why would you?  You quite effectively silenced me 22 years ago.  
    It seems fitting to write you this letter today.  I have had so much time to think and to cope with the emotional, mental, and physical side effects of what you did to me that night. I have not physically seen you in exactly 22 years - but I have 'seen' you MANY times, through memories and other reminders every single day since 10/4/1996.  It's gotten a lot better with time, but you have visited me in my sleep; you've assumed the identity of my grocer, a random person on the street, a classmate, the guy who owns a pizza place in central Long Island, the list goes on.  You were there whenever there were televised rape cases or trials; you did this to me, therefore your face was the one I saw, no matter who was currently on trial.  For a long time, you were everywhere I turned; there was no escape.  Now, you're not there as much, but deep down, I know that you'll never completely leave.  And that's both mind-blowing and kind of fucked up - we knew each other for JUST thirty minutes - and yet you are going to occupy a piece of my brain for the rest of my life.  
    In hindsight, you probably do not remember that night.  Or maybe, you do.  Maybe it makes you smile or laugh when you remember how you brutally and heartlessly overpowered a distressed seventeen-year-old girl.  It doesn't do me any good to consider your pleasure in doing so, so I won't.  But do NOT, for one MINUTE, think I didn't see out of the corner of my eye, that cocky smirk that was on your face while you were holding me down.  You enjoyed every second of what you did.  Perhaps I was just 'another girl' to you.  You've probably done the same to other vulnerable girls.  You were calculated, methodical, and sad to say, you knew exactly what you were doing.  I guess I've always wondered how you can sleep at night - knowing you, using your body as a weapon, destroyed every single one of my hopes and dreams in a matter of just minutes.  And I also wonder why?  Why did you do this?  What was in it for you?  Was it worth it afterwards?  
    Because of you, I spent the rest of that first year of college in a daze - it's a miracle I passed the courses I was taking.  It was a literal chore to get out of bed every day and do the same thing - get dressed in clothes that may or may not have been washed, drive to campus (and back) in a dissociated, autopilot mode, then spend evenings at home in a similar zombie-like state.  Then it was a rinse-and-repeat kind of thing, all while I withdrew socially and drifted slowly into a more consistent state of darkness.  Nothing was crystal-clear anymore.  Everything became fuzzy, jumbled and otherwise difficult to see - the life I had plans for no longer existed and was abruptly replaced with the life you forced me to live.   
    Because of you, I searched for emotional and sexual sustenance in all the wrong places.  I felt as if I had nothing of worth to offer the boyfriend I had at the time - so he was history shortly after.  You were my first sexual experience - and you taught me that sex was painful.  You also taught me that saying 'no' would not work - that fighting would get me hurt, and that it was ideal to just lay there and take it.  And so I searched silently and recklessly, for that 'good' experience that would negate the bad one.  For the record, this didn't happen.  Of course, the guy that SHOULD have been the one I gave my virginity to, was instead, the one I cast aside when I feared my innocence was no longer intact.  Because of you.  
    And on that note, it is because of YOU that I am both mortified and absolutely disgusted with my past behavior.  I've had 22 years to reflect on all of those poor choices and it's a goddamn miracle that I'm alive today!  I'm ashamed of myself - because of what you taught me, I allowed men to do absolutely horrible things to me - because I was too afraid to say 'no.'  I don't know if it was because I was afraid of being punched in the face or it was a learned auto-reaction at that point, but either way, whatever they wanted was usually what they got - this accomplished absolutely nothing more than eventually reducing my self-worth to zero.  I stopped caring about any repercussions or consequences of my actions.  In fact, I wanted to die - I wanted them to just put me out of my misery - the misery YOU started! 
    Obviously, that didn't happen, either.  I survived you, and then I survived my own self.  And today, I'm STILL surviving, although the only difference is - I've forgiven myself for my part in these bad choices - as much as I'd like to blame you for those, I cannot.  I acted alone, same way I did anything else.  ALONE.  I will say, you may be to blame for my self-imposed solitude - it's how I felt most safe and the least threatened - but maintaining this constant need to be alone is on me, and perhaps on my ex, who further implied that leading a private, isolated life was ideal.  Even TODAY, I find myself wanting more personal space and alone time than seems reasonable - and because of this, I'm seriously lacking in social skills.  It may not be entirely because of you, but you definitely helped that along.
    Because of you, I can't wash my floors with Pine-Sol.  The unmistakeable smell triggers me when I try and all I can remember is my face being held down against the cold, hard, wooden floor (which STILL smelled like Pine-Sol) while you raped me.
    Because of you, I have a DEEP, almost UGLY hatred of music.  No, it is not your fault that I was born with the inability to hear it - but it was also the reason no one heard me calling for help.  It brings my children such joy - they LOVE music.  So does my fiancee.  And I can't help but remember and remain stuck on how the 'noisiness' failed me.  Ironically, the music became somewhat of a focal point - when I stopped fighting and succumbed to your brutality, I focused only on the vibrations of the floor beneath me.  And that's what I continued to focus on even after you were finished with me.  It was a small comfort.  I was alone in a place I was unfamiliar with, I was in a large amount of pain, I NEEDED something to distract me.  And so I kept my eyes closed and my face against the floor for several minutes before getting up...just counting each pounding, deafening beat....it was better than trying to figure out WHAT had just happened to me.  And for about five minutes, it was my only comfort.  It was the only time I can remember where I welcomed the 'noise.'  It was during that tiny window where music was still okay, that window was slammed shut once loud, blasting music became a known trigger.  
    Because of you, I have not worn a skirt since that night.  There were a handful of occasions that required me to put on a bridesmaid's dress, but other than that, I refuse to wear anything without a crotch.  Even with those god-awful dresses, I wore a pair of skin-tight spandex shorts underneath because I needed to feel that extra layer of protection.  You taught me that I needed to be mindful of what I wore - and that skirts were not safe, regardless of whether they were long or short.  And every time I walk past one in the department store, I'm reminded of the cream-colored skirt with sunflowers on it that I wore that night.  That was my favorite - it was long, it covered my legs, and came all the way down to my ankles.  Because of what you did, I was forced to throw it away because I couldn't bear to look at it anymore.
    Because of you, I learned all about fear.  The simplest, STUPIDEST things would now cause me anxiety.  For me, fear goes hand-in-hand with trust, another thing that I lost the ability to do freely.  Once upon a time, I was a very trusting person; I had faith in other people, I believed in the good in everyone.  To a point, I still do, but it's become increasingly difficult for me to trust that not everyone is out to hurt me and there are actually kind, honest and truly good people out there.  Because of you, I'm constantly second-guessing people, I'm questioning why people even wish to associate with me - what's their reason for it?  How are they going to eventually hurt me?  I HATE this about myself - I understand it, but I don't like it.  I've walled myself off, because of you, and now I'm in a position where I need to learn to break down some of these walls or risk being alone later.  
    Because of you, I'm afraid to ask for help when it comes to communicating with others and putting ANY trust into the kindness of strangers.  Because if you recall, I was desperate and asked YOU for help.  We both know how that turned out.  Furthermore, I felt for the longest time that being hearing impaired was what landed me into trouble in the first place - I certainly could have made that phone call, myself, had I been born with two functional ears.  But it wasn't about that at all, was it?  This was what you planned, right?  This diabolical scheme of yours was devised and set into motion JUST as soon as I uttered, 'can you help me?'  Am I right?  This, like so many other questions I have for you, will likely remain unanswered.
    You know, I wonder what you are like today.  Have you changed?  (Although it is hard for me to see you as anything other than a cruel monster, I know people change and truly have repented for things they've done in the past.  I'm not sure this applies to you, though.)  Are you a good person now?  Are you happy?  Are you proud of yourself?  Do you have a successful job?  Are you married?  Do you have kids?  Do you have a DAUGHTER????  If you do, I TRULY hope that knowing that YOU, yourself, are a sexual predator causes you to now live in fear of someone doing to her what you did to me.  Of course I am not the type to wish ill will toward the women in your life that you DO love and care about - but I sincerely hope that you understand the severe gravity of the effects of sexual assault - not just on the ones who have experienced it, but on the people around them.  And I hope you know and recognize that YOU are a person who has single-handedly caused these effects.
    Do you ever even think about what you did to me, and possibly, to other women?  Or do you fall into the 'none of the above' category and are you rotting in a cell somewhere because you raped another woman who had more balls than I did and reported you?  Either way, do you feel any remorse at all?  Do you even KNOW what your actions have done to me, and perhaps to others?  I've had to accept that most all of the kickback from that night has been on me - you couldn't have cared less when you left me in that room, a bleeding mess.  If you're still alive and karma hasn't caught you yet, you probably still don't care.  You didn't care when I begged you to stop, you didn't care that all I wanted was to go home.  Instead, you laughed at me, you mocked my screams, you terrorized me.  
    I've come a long way in 22 years, though.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I've fantasized about killing you.  And (because it was the only way I could get away with it) - in my dreams, I have killed you in multiple ways.  I've yelled at you, I've screamed.  I've beaten the shit out of you, I've smashed your face in, I've castrated you, I've hammered your ballsack to a slab of wood with a rusty nail.  You hurt me 'there,' and I wanted desperately to return the favor.  I'm not a violent person by any means, and I'm slightly embarrassed to even admit what I've thought about doing to you and to other sexual predators.  You have certainly made me angry enough to entertain these thoughts, but that's all they were - thoughts.  Time has shown me that the physical pain subsides and there is nothing at all that will completely cure the emotional and mental pain that sexual assault inflicts.  This specific pain, that because of you, I feel every single day.  Yes, time has mended my spirit a great deal, but there is going to forever be a part of me that you stole, you still possess, and that I will NEVER get back.
    You know what, though?  I'm not mad at you anymore.  I have come to the conclusion that after 22 years, it is no longer anger I feel when this time of year rolls around.  It's become a permanent mark, yes, but it's also a numbing sadness that, no matter how much time has elapsed, will always live inside me and become more noticeable in the fall.  While I didn't have a choice in what's been plopped down on my plate (because of you), I DO have a choice in how I deal and cope with what's been served.  And I am now choosing to put that pre-existent anger behind me - it's done me NO good to hold onto it and I refuse to give you any more of my time or energy.  
    Plus, when dealing with anger, there is usually a resolution...a way to come to terms with it and eventually dissolve it.  I think that, for me, means you'd have had to 'make it right' or otherwise pay for your crime at some point.  But you'll likely never be held accountable for what you did to me - even if you've been reported by someone else and you're paying THAT price, the debt between you and I will never be resolved.   So, today, 22 years later, I am feeling that it is time to let go of it...and while I've managed to released all of this pent-up anger towards you - I'm still and always will be disgusted with the poor excuse of a human being that you are.  I will never forgive you, either.  Your fate is truly out of my hands, but I do have hope that when the time comes, you'll get exactly what you deserve.
    I do have remaining guilt for allowing you to walk free, for not getting up from the floor and chasing you out of that bedroom - I sometimes feel that in that moment, I should have mustered up whatever strength I had, found my voice, and exposed you for the rapist you are.  I've run through this scenario in my head, too - maybe someone would have restrained you, someone else would have called the police, and you would have been put away.  I'd have gotten medical attention, my parents would have found out what happened, sure, but at least you'd have been locked up.  Had that been what happened, it would likely have spared other women from having to experience the same thing I did.  But sadly, this is just another one of those 'woulda been nice' thoughts that will never come true.  Because of that life-changing, impactful half-hour I spent with you, the once fearless being I was, was rendered weak, speechless, and paralyzed.  I truly feel that because of you, I froze in fear and shock when that window of opportunity was open - I COULD have done something, but I did not.  While I now understand why I felt powerless in the moment, I feel that I still failed not only other women you may have subsequently harmed, but also myself.  And I HATE you for that, I HATE you for making me despise myself.  I hate you for teaching me the true meaning of the word 'hate.'  Such an ugly word; one that I don't even want my children to use...yet so fitting for how I feel about you.  I hate what you've done, what you represent, what you're capable of.  I hate your type - and that there are so many more of you roaming around.
    I hate YOU, Eddie.
    This is what I have to live with, though.  Other than this nagging feeling that I've failed myself and others, (which I've forgiven myself for as well) I've been a good person.  I've never hurt another person.  I am kind.  I am caring.  And I didn't deserve this.  I know this now.  Because of you, it took a LONG time to come to this realization.   
    I survived 22 years ago and today, will continue to grow as a person.   I am not the same person I would be had I not met you, but that's beyond my control, now.  Instead of trying to duplicate the person I used to be or 'pick up where I left off,' I am going to focus on reclaiming the small, yet significant things that you either stole or otherwise changed for me.  There are some things that are gone forever, but there's hope for some others.  I'm going to embrace the rest of this fall season, and all of the fall seasons to come.  Rather than scowl at the natural beauty of the changing foliage, I will instead smile in appreciation of the breathtaking scenery.  I will buy the biggest fucking bottle of Pine-Sol and wash my floors with it next week.  Why?  Because I KNOW that my face will not be pressed down against that floor afterwards - and I'm going to prove that the dread I feel toward Pine-Sol is simply going to mean it's time to complete the never-fun chore of washing the floors.  I'm going to slowly work on lowering the walls that are up, because of you, and learn to more freely delegate my trust in those who are deserving of it. 
    I suppose while there's plenty to blame and loathe you for, there is one positive thing that I can derive from our encounter 22 years ago.  Undoubtedly, that was the WORST, most impactful night of my life and to me, to be able to gain any positive insight out of such a negative, horrible event is pretty fucked up.  I don't want to give you credit for ANYTHING, more or less anything positive in my life - especially when I don't think I would be inspired to pursue the line of work I'd like to without first encountering your cruelty.  Because of you, I have developed a profound understanding of myself as well as the MILLIONS of other women who have been sexually assaulted.  I understand the deep, lingering pain and constant frustration, the emotional and sometimes physical toll that rape takes on a person.  I know that us women are individual beings and we all deal differently, but we all share this  common burden that we have to live with forever.  Because of you, and other predatory beings like yourself.
    Before you, I was an English major and wanted to become a scriptwriter.  And now, after you, I want nothing more than to use this experience, coupled with my gained understanding and knowledge of 'what comes after,' and become an advocate for sexual assault/rape survivors.  Because of you, I understand EXACTLY what other survivors are going through and the grueling, seemingly uphill journey that lies ahead of them.  I am now ready to grab ahold of as many survivors' hands as I can, and climb this hill with them in unity and solidarity.  At first, I questioned whether I'd be able to devote the rest of my life to doing this type of work - it's certainly not going to be easy, but perhaps in the process, I will continue to heal.  I know and understand that I will be healing for the rest of my life.  And so, I have made peace with this change - I feel more confident in my abilities to help others than in scriptwriting - but perhaps I've done both.  I've re-written my life's script.  I'll never be able to completely discard the old, broken, battered version of myself - but I can certainly decide what happens to me, moving forward.
    As for you, Eddie...
    I don't know what's going on with you right now.  You can be living the American dream with a house and family - or you can be sitting in a 12x12 cell in prison.  I've no way of knowing.  Either way, I truly hope that at one point during the rest of your life, that you learn the true definition of suffering, the way you made me suffer.  I hope that one day, you will understand the feeling of being overpowered, and that you will experience vulnerability.  I hope you see for yourself how it is to feel lonely and isolated because no one around you understands what you're going through.  I hope you learn all about that feeling of keeping your silence - and that you come to realize that it's because you just don't know who to trust anymore.  It'd also be nice to see you struggle with things you thought were simple and easy, but are no longer.  Because following trauma, NOTHING is the same, anymore.  The things you did every day become foreign and become things you have to re-teach this altered version of yourself to do, all over again.  And I hope that someday, something scares you to the point where your heart (I know you have one) starts pounding for reasons that may not be immediately clear.  I hope that in that same moment, you freeze and are unable to move, or even BREATHE.  That's PTSD, that's anxiety.  That's what you unfairly sentenced me to.  That's what I've had to live with for the last 22 years - because of you.  
    YOU however, have to live with everything I've mentioned in this letter.   And knowing your type, there's likely lots more that you're going to have to live with.  And, ultimately, that's what you deserve.  You deserve the absolute misery you've inflicted on others, you deserve pain and suffering.  I'm just sorry that I won't be there to witness that moment when Lady Karma decides it's your turn to pay the price for all the terrible things you've done!  
    And last, but not least, I truly hope you see my face when she finally catches up to you.  Don't forget to watch for the satisfied smirk.
    - Capulet
     (Because of you.)
  4. Capulet
    Hi, everyone.
    Here's hoping you're all well this week!  How am I?  I don't know, honestly.  Mentally, I'm fine.  Physically, I'm falling the fuck apart and I don't understand why.  You would think that losing over 40 pounds (yes, yes, I did...consider that your small, harmless weight update without details!) would make me feel better - and it has.  But lately, after bowling, my left hip has been hurtin' something awful.  It's usually fine if I sit stationary, but getting up to get a water refill or to do simple household tasks - HURTS.  It's been gradually happening; and most noticeable the days after league bowling.  It'll feel better a day or two afterwards and then I go bowling again and am back at square one.  I feel like an old lady. 
    BUT y'all will be proud of me when I tell you I've ALREADY been to the doctor...better yet, TWO doctors.  The first visit was to my primary care doctor, had to go see him in order to get the referral to the orthopedic.  He was my second visit and took x-rays of my hips.  He found nothing.  It's not arthritis, it's not any other issue with my hip.  He did ask me where exactly it hurt and when I pointed, he said based on the location, he feels it's more of a muscle/back strain, and prescribed 2x a day over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, ice after bowling (which I'm not going to do - I don't like ice) and physical therapy where they can work some of the muscles out and perhaps teach me some exercises I CAN do at home that may lead to my back/hip feeling better, overall.  My first PT appointment is this coming Friday.  I'll keep you all posted.
    Had my monthly visit with my mother, AKA 'Oompa Loompa.'  She was supposed to come LAST week, but forgot that she had promised her free babysitting services to my sister, who had a wedding to attend.  So the week before's visit was rescheduled to this past weekend.  She arrived early on Saturday, we had lunch here (sandwiches) and she spent some time with the kids before they went back to their Dad's.  Then, we actually did something we never really do with her - and we went to a movie - we saw Peppermint - not a very realistic flick, but still was nice to get out of the house and to go someplace where we didn't have to entertain each other by actually talking (see what I did, there?) to each other.  When we got home, she went to sleep.  That was the gist of Saturday - it was painless, it was 'busy' and she had time to enjoy her grandchildren during the day.  Sunday was a little different - she needed the local craft store because my eldest niece will be turning 1 next month and she's making the centerpieces.  So I drove us down to the Hobby Lobby - knowing fully well that I was going to be exposed to all sorts of FALL things as soon as I walked into the store.
    She went off looking for what she needed and I kinda lingered around where the garlands were.  
    Lemme explain a little something else that I may not have shared before - I'm not a fan of the fall.  I never was.  When I was a kid, 'fall' meant school was starting and summer vacation was over.  I hated school - I was constantly picked on and bullied - back in the 80's, they didn't have preventative measures in place so the kids that were fat, handicapped or different in any other way were getting bullied left and right - and because I was 'the pudgy deaf kid,' I was an easy target. 
    When I was a late teen, the fall was the season when I started college as a freshman, and also the same time of year that I was raped.  My 22-year anniversary is approaching - October 4th is the 'date.'  I do have to say though things have gotten MUCH better, the looming season change has always been accompanied by triggers, memories, little ugly-cry fests (for no particular reason) and bouts of depression, moodiness, sluggishness, etc.  I almost always feel crappy during this time of year.  Even though many years have gone by since my assault, it's almost an automatic fuck-with-your-emotions-thing at this point.
    I however, DO like Halloween - I know it's a 'fall holiday' but it was always, ALWAYS my favorite.  I loved the idea of being someone (or something) other than myself.  I hated myself - why like me?  No one else seemed to!  But yeah, Halloween...too bad it only comes once a year, right?  And there's CANDY...lots of it.   That made it all worth it.  I don't know if it would have made any difference, but when I finally walked out of that party where the assault took place, I did NOT see any Halloween decorations.  The walk from the party site to the diner at a local intersection was not a long one, but still - considering the time of year, I was pleasantly surprised to not see any carved pumpkins.  It might have been too early for that, though, the carved jack-o-lanterns don't usually come out until later in the month if not on Halloween night.  I might also have not seen ANYTHING but the tear-blurred pavement in front of me.
    So, at the craft store, there is a section dedicated solely to Halloween - here, you have all your black, orange, green and purple wreaths, the window clings, your skeleton/skull stuff, your cobweb netting, other decorations that you can 'add onto' existing wreaths or garlands, (these are called 'bits') and so, so much more.  You can literally go nuts in this store - and I did.  I actually found more season-related items than I did Halloween - I do already have some things to decorate further with in the garage - last year's 75% off sales at Walmart were amazing for such findings.  
    Anyway, what I DON'T have is too much generic 'fall decor.'  The most I'd ever done was put out my (fake) sunflower bouquet and then when it got closer to Halloween, I'd put out some (also fake) pumpkins and gourds...if I'd made it to the supermarket for a real pumpkin, I'd carve it on All Hallow's Eve and put him out on the front steps for the trick-or-treaters to enjoy.  
    So, I found some leaf, berry and pine cone 'bits' for half-price, then I found a 'fall leaves' garland that was lighted - my creative juices were flowing - I can't explain what came over me in that moment.  Here I am, I hate the fall and I'm standing here, appreciating the prettiness of these fake leaves, acorns, etc.  What the hell, man?  I have no reason to have this idea but here I am, thinking about how I could pretty this garland up even further by adding the 'bits' to it and securing them with thin pieces of twine.  I have a lovely mantle in my home that the finished product would look nice on.  And so, I filled my cart with small items that I could add to the (also half-price) pre-lit garland.  My mother, in the meantime, found everything she needed to put together centerpieces and met me up front.  We paid for our items and were on our way home.
    Once it was quiet-ish, (as much as it could be with my mother's nonstop mouth) I laid out all my 'bits' and the garland on the floor in front of me.  I then got to thinking as I began stringing together the garland and the bits - maybe I've been looking at it all wrong, all along?  Yes, the fall will forever present as a 'bad time of year' for me, both because of being bullied at school and the sexual assault having happened in the fall.  But the season really had nothing at all to do with what happened.  People didn't treat me poorly because the air was chillier, because the leaves were changing colors, or because to was October.  Hell, classmates or other people have fucked with me at least once or twice in the spring, summer, in the winter, my ex probably had made me cry at least once a month, so all bets were off as far as what my worst time of year actually was.  My hatred of the fall really doesn't have to do with something so beautiful; maybe the gorgeous fall scenery should be a distraction rather than a reminder.  Maybe instead of grumbling whenever I saw pretty colors up in the trees, I should have refocused on its natural beauty - for that's probably what I needed rather than focus on the ugly memories.  I'd been holding onto this particular dislike of the fall for the wrong reasons - and for too long.  
    I should add, this will be my second fall in an entirely new state - I remember last year's fall - we were still new to the area.  I had to pick up my son from school daily, and so the drive through the back roads was always SO scenic and absolutely gorgeous in the fall, and then of course, in the winter after snow had fallen.  So maybe new state = new slate?  Is it time for me to seize back a love for those things that are natural?  They ARE more beautiful here than they were in New York City!  Plus, here, I was not abused or bullied.  Here, I have no reason to dread the change from summer to fall.  Here, I have a new life and am sure being three and a half hours away from where I was assaulted is a huge help.  
    Perhaps I can learn to appreciate these things again, or even for the first time in as long as I can remember.  
    I'll ATTEMPT to get a picture uploaded of my finished garland.  I still have that irrational fear of the wasband coming across this blog and seeing all the things I've ever said about him, and as he's a frequent visitor in my home (kid transfers, holidays, drop-ins, etc) he knows what my mantle looks like and would be able to pick it out of a line-up (of mantles).  I'll play with photoshop and see if I can't crop it a bit and make it a little less incriminating...
    I WILL say that despite my unspoken rule of having to hate anything having to do with the fall, it IS quite nice to look at - and I enjoy having it lit up in the evenings while we watch television or a movie.  I feel at peace with my creation - and for the first time, with the season.
    Now, I FULLY expect to go through all the motions as my 'anniversary' nears - but perhaps this year, I will allow the scenery to provide me comfort rather than remind me of the inevitable - fall's going to come along every damn year - it's how I embrace it that matters.  And perhaps this sudden burst of creativity will make this upcoming anniversary and anniversaries to follow a little bit easier.  This year, I made a garland...and I think that on the 'anniversary,' I will make it a point to sit outside for a little while and take it all in.  And next year, I'll do something ELSE to reclaim the fall - to take back what, all along, I should have been enjoying but couldn't.  
    And that's progress! 
    Hoping you're all having a good week.    I'll update again soon - likely this weekend with a PT update.  
    - Capulet
  5. Capulet
    I promised an update on my PT appointment sometime last weekend - and surely, you've noticed that I've said nothing.
    Simply because there's really nothing to report other than my orthopedic doctor is an incompetent idiot.
    Regardless of the fact that his office made the appointment for me to have my first PT appointment, the order was never sent downstairs to the 'gym.'  And so, last Friday, I showed up in my workout clothes, completed the registration, sign-in, co-pay, etc, only to be told that nothing could be done without the order from 'upstairs.'  And as luck would have it, the orthopedic doctor who had sent me to PT in the first place was not in the office that day, so a quick call couldn't be made at that time.  So basically, I was shit out of luck, short $35, and still hurting.  They DID claim they put in a request for the order - and rescheduled me to come back THIS Friday at the same time - I would not have to pay the co-pay again, and hopefully they'd have all they needed from the doctor in order to proceed with the actual evaluation.  
    It's a good thing J was still in the neighborhood - the initial plan was for her to run a couple of quick errands while I was at PT - then she would come pick me up there and we'd go to breakfast.  
    Breakfast came a little bit earlier - we went to a nice little diner that makes delicious omelettes!  So, eh..the morning wasn't a complete waste.
    I DO have to say though that my hip HAS been feeling a little bit better...it DOES occasionally hurt when I get up and walk, but it's not as bad - perhaps there's some truth to what the idiot orthopedic was saying about having a little bit more mobility - it was a rough return-to-2x-a-week bowling, but slowly, I've been feeling less sore on the days after.  I may not need to continue with the PT - I sure can't afford to throw $35 per PT session at them - so this week, I plan to let them evaluate me, then I will ask them for exercises I can do at home and I'll just manage any stray pain with OTC anti-inflammatories. I'll show up at my orthopedic for a follow up the week after - and I'll let him know that PT will NOT be an option for me.  Maybe he too can recommend exercises that will help.
    So that's it - the short, sweet (with a reduced-helping of 'ouch') update.  Will keep y'all posted on Friday's evaluation.  Hope you're all well! 
    - Capulet
  6. Capulet
    Hello, everyone!  TWO blogs in a week????  How unusual.  Or is it?  
    Well, guess what?   I did it.  I did something I PROBABLY should have done years (and YEARS) ago, and joined a local support group.  
    Firstly, let me explain something to you all.  I'd always thought about joining a support group.  I've always fallen victim to loneliness - ALWAYS.  Being hearing impaired is only one contributor to this constant feeling of being the outsider and never quite being able to fit in, but it was further exacerbated by being told that there were limits to what I should be talking about, being made to feel that sharing was a bad thing.  (Thank you, ex-asshat...uh, husband, for that) And so, previously, when faced with whether or not I should seek out a support group, I'd always decide against it because regardless of that pesky loneliness, it didn't feel safe to take that leap, yet.
    Joining AS was, before last night, the closest I've ever been to a support group.  This was more my speed - it's a community rather than a small group, but for me, being somewhere there was an unspoken understanding among members and not having to explain myself in depth was NICE.  It was even nicer that my hearing impairment didn't keep me excluded from conversations and that I could 'speak' freely without having to use my voice or show my face.  Oh, and I was able to keep AS anonymous - it was another way of keeping my private life separate from the life that I share with people who aren't privy to my personal struggles.  I still do this, to this day - the only person who knows about my belonging to AS is my lovely J.  And, there's another thing - joining a support forum online has enabled me to THINK out my responses.  Speaking live is new to me - I am a think-before-you-speak type of girl.  Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's not.  Maybe it's the reason I leave so much out - because online, I have time to mentally (and then physically) edit what I put out there.  Who knows?  Either way, I've always been SO much more comfortable online but now that I'm entertaining the idea of getting involved in this line of work, I'm going to have to learn to master the concept of live, in-person communication.  So an (online) search led me to join such a group.
    We had our first meeting yesterday evening; this particular group meets once a month.  
    There were only three of us, including me, and a leader.  (The group leader was the same very nice woman I emailed to inquire about the meetings in the first place.)  This group is centered around art, although you do not have to be an artist to participate. They provide the paper, paints, crayons, markers, colored pencils and paintbrushes.  You need only bring yourself and an open mind.
    So, first, there was a question written on the dry-erase board in the front of the room.  The general idea is to answer/discuss that question and then afterwards, we are to try to use art to express further what we have just discussed.
    I shit you not, I sat there with a blank piece of lined paper in front of me for what seemed like forever.  I was wishing for my keyboard and a monitor to magically appear in front of me, but only had my pencil available to write with.
    What makes my heart happy?  Safe? Proud? Scared? Strong? What does my heart need? How do I look when my heart is happy/sad/everything else?
    Those were the questions we were given at the beginning of the meeting to ponder.  I felt like I was back in school and my teacher had just given me a timed assignment - we had ten minutes to write some stuff down and I think I only managed half-assed responses, simply because of the type of thinker I am.  When called upon to respond, I simply told them that I'd share my answer to the last question - the 'how-do-I-look question.'  For some reason, this was something I felt I could best explain given the amount of time I had already wasted not knowing what to write for the other ones.  For those, I just jotted down simple, one-word answers for the time being.  I wasn't going to even share my answer to THIS question - but it just felt okay to say this much in that moment.
    I explained that I look the same when I am happy, sad, scared, proud or feeling strong.  I've spent so much time trying to mask my true feelings.  For a long time, I wasn't allowed to share when I was sad or afraid.  I learned to pretend that I was fine, or if that didn't work, supply a bullshit, sometimes nonexistent reason for looking as if I were particularly 'off.'  And so, to keep myself safe, I would adopt the same generic, expressionless face for everything.  I was honest ONLY with the person closest to me (yep, my wifey) and even so, there was still an insatiable need to downplay my true feelings.  Not because they were unimportant, because I know they WERE valid thoughts and concerns, but they were simply thoughts I didn't have enough words to back up at the time.  
    Y'all ever see this fantastic T-shirt featuring just squares, words and Darth Vader's face in every square?  Underneath each face is a word - happy, sad, cheerful, excited, frustrated, angry, proud, sleepy, confused....and there's the same exact picture of Darth Vader's face above each word.  See the attachment below. As you can see, the expression is the same, it doesn't change.  That's what came to mind when it comes to me - not to mention my kids (and J) tease me about my breathing sounding Vader-ish from time to time.  That last bit is not the point, it's just there for your entertainment as well as motivation for me to order this damn T-shirt for myself somewhere down the line.  

    Anyway, this is, for sure something I feel that I need to continue to work on.  I know that now, I am safe to express myself truthfully with the (very few) people I trust.  And lately, I've made a little bit of progress with this, too.  It's been an emotional few months, to say the least.  I have been able to even CRY in front of my fiancee - never before have I been able to speak about something to the point of tears rather than drop it and pull out my pre-determined face for whatever it is I'm supposed to be reacting to.  I'm finding that I'm expressing myself more now than I have in the last TWENTY years. 
    This brings me to what makes my heart proud - it took me a while, but I did that.  I got to where I am, DOING what I felt I needed to do and without being properly taught the right way of expression.  I self-educated - and I listened to my own heart when it came to choosing how and to whom I expressed myself honestly.  I still do feel that this blog is where I'm most honest - but perhaps, one day, I will be able to do the same thing offline.  And perhaps, people will TRULY be able to identify what I'm truly feeling because my face, I'm sure, will gradually soften as I become more comfortable removing that (heavy) mask.
    What about the rest of it, then?
    It isn't hard to tell you what makes me sad.  I just didn't really feel comfortable getting into such a long-ass list at the meeting.  But it's the same shit that makes us all sad.  I don't think there's anything that I am uniquely sad over other than how long it's taken me to reach the point I'm at and all of the wasted time and potential - while I understand it, the regrets are what gets to me in the end.  I'm not sad enough to let it eat away at me, though.  I'm going to fucking FIX that - I'm going to make up for that lost time, if it's the last thing I do.  But most of all, what makes me (and probably you, too) sad is the existence of UGLINESS in this world - people being abusive to others, not giving a damn about what their cruelty does to another person.  I'm sad that people are betrayed left and right, trust is broken every day, that fear is something so easily learned.  And of course, this particular type of sadness is going to exist for years and years to come - NONE of that shit is fair!  
    What makes my heart feel safe?  Ahh, this is a hard one.  I think this varies from person to person but they're not asking about them, they're asking about me.  I didn't write anything underneath this word at the meeting.  I was literally drawing blanks...and again, reaching for the imaginary keyboard.  Honestly, though?  Being able to trust someone and to remove them from my imaginary list of 'toxic' people and put them on the safe list is something that isn't done often or in my case, easily.  By now, I'm used to people 'disappearing' or becoming otherwise absent from my life.   And so, it's become 'safe' for me to keep most people at arms' length and cease making emotional attachments right away.  Not to say I don't like them - there are many, MANY people out there that I am fond of and think of as being good, honest  people that I'd love to one day get to know and become good friends with.  ONE DAY.  But just as soon as I say that or start to feel that is possible with someone, my safety mode kicks in and all I can think about are those who have disappointed me in the past by making promises to always be there but haven't kept them.  I'm well aware that people come and go from our lives, that's what happens; that's life.  We find ourselves being close to a person, thinking this is a 'lifer,' only to discover that three or four years later, they've gradually drifted and moved on.  Perhaps there is a pre-set time and place for people to be friends or feel close to each other...I do believe we cross paths with people who are perhaps put there for a reason by forces unknown - as fate has it, they may need us too, for that particular moment in time and for whatever reason.  I'm thinking, though, maybe very few things, if any, are forever?  The 'forever,' you have to work at.  For that, BOTH parties have to commit and want the same thing.  I've found that usually it's me who makes the effort with others.  And it's not safe for me to keep doing that  - when and if it doesn't work out the way I'd like or hope for it to, the hurt is real.  And so, it makes me feel an added layer of security to keep an emotional distance for a little bit longer whenever I am faced with becoming friends with a new person.  
    I suppose the above friendship issue is one thing that scares my heart.  In a nutshell, what truly scares me is the loss of something I find to be a sure thing, something I TRULY cannot imagine life without.  Don't get me wrong - what terrifies me the most is the idea of anything ever happening to my kids, or to J.  These three people are the ONLY three I have an emotional attachment to that NOTHING can ever change.  Okay - that's not entirely true - I know that there isn't a single relationship on this planet that comes with a lifetime guarantee - a better way of phrasing would be to say this is the ONE relationship I've had where I've been able to lay ALL my cards out onto the table and allow my partner to see things I've never shown anyone else...I've given her my entire heart; I've held back nothing.  My kids, too - my love for them is permanent, unwavering and unconditional.  They piss me off every single damn day - in one way or another.  But NEVER will they 'drift' from my heart. The thought of anything ever happening to any of these three people scares the shit out of me - it's more than the idea of losing them, I truly believe I will lose myself, too, should that happen.  
    And finally, what makes my heart happy?  What, indeed?  The three people mentioned above - the son, the daughter, and J.  Absolutely.  They all make my heart happy, despite the times they annoy or piss me off.  Them being a permanent fixture in my life makes me happy - because they are safe and safety = happiness.  It's never been the material things that have brought me joy - it's consistency.  
    So, what does my heart need now that I've identified the other ways it both keeps me going and holds me back?
    Thinking back to last night, this was probably the hardest of all the questions. Again, I am a very deep, profound thinker; when I am asked a question, the answer I present MUST make sense to me before I attempt to clearly convey it to others.  Not sure if that's an OCD thing, a Capulet thing or the way it is for everyone - I'm guessing the latter is only true for some and not for others, because this, too, is dependent on what mental problem solving methods they most frequently use.  But in order for me to answer the question of what my heart needs, I had to FIRST get through the other questions.  In a way, they serve as a map, a blueprint, sort of - a route to the answers.  I am simply incapable of arriving at one conclusion before figuring out the prerequisite answer.  It's just the way my brain works.
    Before I answer the 'need' question, though, I want to mention the 'art' part of the meeting - since talking about this will likely build up to a more effective means of responding to it.  Since we were discussing hearts, it was suggested we draw one and surround it/fill it in, with words, other pictures, colors, whatever, to try and describe what your heart feels through your drawing.  The two ladies got started right away; I guess they already had their answers.  The leader did her own picture, too - but I sat there and stared at a blank page for the first 20 minutes.  No - scratch that - it wasn't completely blank - I'd completed just the first step and had drawn a heart - just a plain, empty heart.  Nothing inside.  I suppose that wouldn't do - those who know me know that my heart is capable of so, SO much more than the emptiness that was reflected on my paper.  Yet, I truly feel restricted - I don't put as much of my heart and trust out there as I know I can.  I am not allowing as much INTO my heart, either - for the longest time, I've been content with what I have - it's enough for me, there was never a true desire to spread myself even further, to share myself with others and trust in others as I do J, who has been my 'lone' person for the last ten years.
    This has become different, now, though.  My kids, I will trust with my life - but I cannot expect them to be able to see me through those things I'm trying to survive - they are not privy to that part of my life, and that's not their fault; it's simply the way I've wanted it to be.  Should they ever approach me wanting to have a conversation about such things, I'll trust them with those details then.  But until that happens, I am content with trusting them to become good people, to stand up for what they believe in, and to not put me in a nursing home when I start to shit myself on a daily basis.   J holds my highest level of trust - there is not a single thing about me that she doesn't know.  But now, she is evolving - she doesn't have a wall fortified by a padlock over her heart - she has made new friends, she is starting to enjoy social outings with people other than me, she is growing into a stronger person.  Now, don't get me wrong - our relationship is by no means in danger.  We're good.  I just feel lately that while she's growing, I am truly stuck in that same comfort zone that I've been sitting in for the last decade and if I continue to be stuck, I will end up even more lonely in the end.  A change is necessary, and it's ME that has to change.  
    Who the fuck invented that word, anyway?  Surely not someone who is content with keeping things the same forever!  
    So, I grabbed my crayon and filled my heart with bricks and colored them red, to symbolize the wall that obstructed the way in.  It was all I could think of, really - the best interpretation of my heart in its current state.  There's much to be seen beyond that 'brick' wall, but that wall needs to first be torn down, little by little, piece by piece.  I waited until my turn came and explained to the group that I felt that there were many things my heart needed but for a long time, I've been building and fortifying walls - my goal was to start chipping away at it so that I and others could access my fullest potential as a person.  
    I have that picture on my desk right now - I said I was going to keep it and bring it home and when I felt I made a little progress in lowering some of these mental walls, I'd draw little cracks in it.  There will eventually be no more room for 'cracks' and this wall will eventually crumble and fall.  I'm going to make sure of it - this is what I hope to gain from joining a support group.
    So, I've determined that I need to be able to overcome my hesitation and fear of becoming emotionally invested in or attached to the newer people in my life.   I need to be able to make those cracks in this wall and then work on first weakening it - (not completely demolishing it because there are certain safeguards I need to keep in place) - in order to allow others the chance to show me that they are capable of being both supporters and friends.  I'm not looking for anything beyond friendship, but even that seems harder for me to find given my own personal hangups.  I need to be willing to take chances on people, I'm sure there are some who doing the same.  I need to open my heart to the possibility of expanding my very, VERY small circle so that there is a safety net in place - what happens if something DOES happen to my person?  In doing this, I will also be making my heart stronger - I can only assume at this point that to shy away from these opportunities would have the opposite effect.  So - yeah - If I get burned, I get burned.  At least I'll know deep down that I tried and it was through no fault of my own.  I will have to deal with the emotional fallout, yes, but then I will simply have to accept it and move on rather than stay stationary for the next decade.
    I NEED to explore what else makes me happy.  I trust that the already existing factors will remain in place, but if I was truly content with my life as is, I would NOT be feeling as emotional as I have been as of late.  That's a given.  It's taken me a while to figure that out but better late than never, I guess.  I also recognize that in my quest for happiness, I'll have to take risks that scare me.  Perhaps they'll make me more proud in the end, once and if I've succeeded.  Who knows.  Either way, I see how it's all connected.  It was a good question - it didn't seem like it at first - it was almost too loaded.  Lots of things make me happy, lots of things make me sad, scared, strong.  I guess it's easy to put down what's obvious without giving it an excessive amount of thought, but that's just not who I am.  
    And lastly, I need all the help I can get.  I'm not usually one to ask for it, but perhaps I should start effectively expressing to others what I need.  I'm rediscovering and re-training that little voice within that, in the past, was denied the requested help and support.  I recognize this as being the reason I stopped asking for help, I stopped reaching out, stopped offering my own support.  This accomplishes nothing, friends - nothing!
    I've already started picking away at this wall covering my heart.  I've been at it for months already, I wanna say - it's not been easy but there are some small cracks beginning to form.  So, I'm getting somewhere.  Slowly, but surely. 
    So, hey, grab a mallet.  Help me make some more cracks. Maybe we can help each other through this daunting part of the healing process?  Isn't that what the point of it all even is?  Isn't that what I needed from the start??  Maybe instead of building and fortifying walls, we should start being more openly focused with communicating (both with ourselves and with others) what our hearts need?
    Until next time.  Hoping you're all well.  
    Sending  and a just because it makes me smile.
    - Capulet
  7. Capulet
    Hi, all.
    Here is a little bit of an in-betweener kind of post.  I've had a bit of an emotional week and while I build up to writing about it, I've chosen to keep my mind circulating by blogging about something a little bit lighter today.  Something that makes me smile and laugh.  It's important to share those things, too - not just the stuff that requires deep contemplation.  I believe that we all need a little bit of a break from that every once in a while.  
    There is one little Oompa-Loompa update - she texted me this morning saying that yesterday was 'Grandparent's Day.'  And out of her nine grandchildren, only my sister's son called.  AND, I'm sure even he did not do this on his own - he's four and autistic.  Ummm....is this like Christmas or something?  Is this an annual thing?  I don't remember celebrating or calling MY grandparents on September 9th every year.  I certainly don't remember my kids EVER calling her to wish her a Happy Grandparents' Day.  So there's the baffling question of the day....WHY is she inclined to bit*h about it now???  
    I'll be seeing her this weekend, perhaps I'll ask her.  Or maybe not.
    Okay, without further ado - a story about my cat...mostly because talking about Oompa usually raises my blood pressure and defeats the purpose of keeping it light.
    I've unofficially diagnosed my cat with separation anxiety.  
    Wherever I am - he is, too.  He's my (much more adorable) shadow.  I think he literally panics when he can't see me - he will follow me from room to room.  Whenever I go downstairs, he'll join me, even if he just needs to see that I'm doing something as 'boring' or 'unimportant' (to him) such as laundry or emptying the dehumidifier.  I am a fan of baths, and while I soak, he will sit on the edge of the tub, especially if the faucet is running.  Once he's had his fill of running bath water, he'll sit contentedly on the toilet seat until I'm toweling off.  He will occasionally 'interrupt' my typing by jumping up onto the desk and staring me in the face until I move my (wireless) keyboard and focus completely on HIM.  He doesn't give a shit if I'm in the middle of blogging - when he wants a scratch or two or two hundred, he'll make damn sure he gets it.  When he's needing to be close to me but not necessarily wanting to be petted, he will sit on the floor next to my chair - almost as if he's standing (or sitting) guard.  And there is where he'll remain until I decide to leave the room for whatever reason - he'll follow if he hasn't fallen asleep.  
    Of course, he doesn't accompany me to the bowling alley on league nights, but if he could, he probably would.  I think though, given that he has never been a fan of loud noises, the constant sound of clattering pins would add PTSD to his list of mental issues.
    He is this gorgeous orange striped tabby with a little bit of a mischievous (mean) streak - he's the youngest of my five-feline family but the second biggest.  I'm sure he means to play but he tends to bully the other cats by spontaneously lunging at them as they walk by - he's gotten his face scratched a bunch of times by unappreciative siblings, but still hasn't learned the concept of personal space.  He's a very handsome cat - and he knows it; he will sit with his head held up high whenever I walk by because he knows that I can't resist stealing a kiss whenever I pass him.  I speak to him in the same voice I use to speak to babies and he'll reward me with the content slow-blink.  He is usually the first to greet me when I come home (although he's probably mad at me for leaving in the first place) and the last kiss before bed.  Since the other cats have no way of reading nor will they find out any other way, I'll also admit that he's my favorite.  
    We share a connection - this fella and I.  When we adopted him, he was no bigger than a bell pepper, if they had arms and legs, he would look like those delicious orange ones.  He was taken too soon from his mother - the woman claimed the mother cat had very little to no interest in feeding her kittens anymore and her busy work schedule made her unable to handle bottle-feeding them all every two to three hours - so I agreed to take him in as he was, he was no more than three weeks old and needed to be nursed via kitten formula for at least three more weeks before we'd be able to introduce him to the kibble.  
    (That was an absolute disaster at first; he would attempt to eat the cat litter and habitually took his shits underneath the TV stand for a couple weeks before grasping the concept of what that "really, really big food dish" REALLY was.)
    But - we bonded.  Through the feedings, through times where he'd nestle into my neck and take little naps on my shoulder, he'd even suck on my tee shirt - there's a name for that condition but it's a safety thing and common in kittens who were forced to wean too quickly.  He's since grown out of the 'wool sucking' (that's the term - I Googled it) but still has a need to be close to me at all times.  
    He also has a talent for opening doors - that's likely been mentioned before - we don't have the traditional knobs; we have the door handles you grasp and turn downwards.  And our little redheaded feline, when he feels his entrance is warranted, knows how to put all of his weight (and he's not by any means light) onto the handle, push the door open, and stroll in.  If we really don't want him in our rooms at night or to be awakened before the sun comes up, we HAVE to lock the door.  According to J, he's gotten inside and has managed to scare the shit out of her when she wakes up to find our bedroom door (always closed when we go to sleep) wide open.  She'd started locking the door after two or three of these scares.  This, though, didn't stop him from 'rattling' the handle while he tried to figure out why he couldn't come in.  And that makes noise - a lot of noise that I can't hear, but she can!
    Sometimes, though, on the rare occasion that he's not in his usual spot next to my desk and is out roaming around the rest of the house, I'll close and lock the door sooner than usual.  I swear, though, this boy knows when I'm still awake, and he will literally sit and meow-cry at the door until J gets up and either lets him out of pure frustration or yells at him to 'shoo' because - "it's not time to come in and collect your daily dose of love!"  If I do let him stay in overnight, he WILL eventually catapult himself off of my rear end before daybreak because HE'S ready to be let out and quite frankly doesn't care whether I was having an epic dream.  Most nights, though, he will be forced to leave as soon as I'm ready to turn in - and it's an endless cycle...he'll make several attempts to get back in before surrendering to sitting outside the door until morning.  J has mentioned though, that lately, he has been relentless to the point where he's keeping HER awake or waking her up at 3-4am.  
    (Oh, and when he does this, he's my cat.  No one else's but mine.  At least, that's the impression I get when the wifey says, "YOUR cat kept me up all night meowing at the door/jiggling the handle/walked across my face at 3am!")
    Is there some sort of kitty-valium out there?    
    I think I chose to talk about his separation anxiety because this has a little bit to do with what I'm also trying to deal with.  See, I'm his 'person.'  The thought of not having access to his person scares him.  He has to have me in his sights at all times.  I sometimes wonder if this is a little bit more noticeable nowadays because of my own mounting fears/issues surrounding MY person's evolving social life.  That'll all probably be discussed further in a future blog but for now, I'm still in the process of communicating both with her and with myself on how to quell these fears.  Of course, it's different when we're dealing with animals - they don't have the same needs as we humans do, but they sure as hell understand that 'lost' feeling if their person is absent, busy, or otherwise unavailable.  
    So, make sure you give your furry friends (if you've got 'em!) some extra love today, 'kay?  They'll appreciate it.  
    Anyway - that's the 'light' blog for today.
    BTW - I just realized the date...  
    Tomorrow, our nation grieves the 9/11 attacks - my thoughts are with all of those affected by this historical tragedy and especially with my native state of New York.  I will never, EVER forget that day.  I wept that day from my back porch as I saw the sky blacken with smoke, and will likely weep tomorrow morning, too, as we mark 17 years since the attacks on the World Trade Center.  If you're a praying person, please say an extra one for Michael C. and Lloyd R. and their families.  One was a rookie firefighter that I went to high school with - the other was a broker who never made it out of the towers - he was married to one of my friends.  Both lives were full of hopes, dreams and a whole lot of promise but were cut short.
    There will be no blog tomorrow in observance, but I will 'see' you all, soon.
    Love and light,
    - Capulet
  8. Capulet
    Have y'all been here for the 49 other blog entries?  Proud to say this is the longest running blog I've had in years.  Whether entries were added in the middle of the day or the middle of the night, I've learned a lot by writing my thoughts here.  I've gained valuable feedback and perspective from YOU, my readers, and I DEEPLY appreciate all of you!
    Seeing as this is entry number 50 (are you sick of my ramblings, yet?) I wanted to make it a good, meaningful one.  I know I've been absent for a while (as far as my blog is concerned - I've been present everywhere else!) and I apologize for this extremely delayed update.  I seem to be experiencing a little bit of writers' block - this USUALLY doesn't happen too often.  But lately, it has been happening a lot - I don't know if it's because I've spoken on just about everything - but I know as well as anyone else, life is a bottomless pit when it comes to things we're struggling with, trying to make sense of or simply need to get off our chests. I am no different - I've just gotten caught by an invisible tree branch, and am, for the time being, hanging in limbo.  The things I COULD write about are swirling around me, I imagine in bright, neon sentences.  And as I stare at the words, they resonate as pure gibberish.  
    Do I write a letter to one of my abusers?  We all know I PROBABLY have a lot of not-so-nice things to say to these people.  But no, that's not going to do tonight.  I'm not feeling this - and I'm guessing a lot of you are not, either.
    Do I talk about the kids?  Because, really, we don't know enough about their typical nonsense, do we?  I have a feeling that this wouldn't be appropriate for tonight's entry, though they're starting school on Monday and this week, their pure ridiculousness has been amplified with the acquisition of their school clothes, sneakers, supplies and other needs that have successfully drained my wallet and bank account.
    Do I talk more about my wonderful mother, whose drama has been a constant since childhood?  And do I talk about something she said to me recently that I'm STILL pissed off about?  No one wants to hear about that, I'm sure - as much as Oompa is a favorite topic around here, there's become a need for me to experience her in small doses - this does include writing about her.
    The thought dawned on me to write about the power of memories and how these memories can certainly explain some of the self-proclaimed odd behaviors we display today.  I was watching "Castle Rock" on Hulu tonight (if you've seen this series, please - no spoilers - we're only on episode 4!) and one character asked the other, "what's your first memory?"
    I remembered mine right away.  (Don't you love when TV shows inspire deep thought without intending to?  It's all squished in between dialogue and while your characters are talking about a song or a picture or a smell from their childhood, YOU find yourself doing the same thing, trying to isolate your earliest memory, just so you can 'play, too!')
    My memory has nothing to do with music or smells or even anything I heard.  It's purely visual; given my hearing impairment, everything was, even from the beginning.  Perhaps that is where I get my gift of advanced perception - I see FAR MORE than is offered at times.  We've all heard of the possibility of heightened 'other' senses where there is one lacking.  I have found this to be true for me, as well as some slightly clairvoyant tendencies that I've never really tried to explain before.
    I was in diapers, standing up in my crib.  I know we rarely retain memories from that far back, but this one is clear; it's possible I was roughly a year and a half old.  I was in my bedroom, the same room that I stayed in for as long as my father lived in that apartment.  When my parents divorced, my mother moved in with my grandmother and I spent weekends at my father's, and this bedroom was small but still "my" room until I was roughly 11 or 12 years old and he bought a house in the 'burbs.  There used to be a picture hanging over my crib.  Two, actually.  One was a clown needlepoint that my favorite aunt made for me while I was still in utero.  I still have this particular needlepoint - it rested in my son's room when HE was a baby but he's since decided that thanks to Stephen King, he's not fond of clowns and the picture has been ordered removed from his room when he was still a toddler.  I guess they're not for everyone...
    There was another larger picture hanging on that wall, too.  I want to say there was some sort of nursery rhyme.  The Jungle Book is coming to mind.  Perhaps it had something to do with that.  I AM pretty 'smart' but I don't think I was reading at this age.  I do recall that hanging picture having words and it being there for years into my childhood, though.  Now, though, it is drawing blanks.  
    So there I am, bouncing up and down from behind the bars of my crib - perhaps this was before things would taint the person I was destined to become.  This is perhaps before my life's 'script' changed.  But I was happy.  I didn't remember sadness nor fear.  My mother and father were both there.  When I was a baby, my great-grandmother used to say my father looked like Jesus.  He had long hair, a beard, and was Jewish.  I'm not sure he ever wore sandals and a robe, but my Italian great-grandmother used to remind him of his resemblance to the son of God every single time she saw him.  He was a very handsome man in his day - today he more closely resembles Jeremy Irons.  My mother, when she was young, looked a little bit like the late Brittany Murphy.  They were smiling. They came in when they saw that I was awake, and made faces at me.  They spoke to me.  I don't think I heard or understood their words, but there was no doubt - they both loved me.  They knew I was deaf before I was able to stand - so they would make sure I was always able to see them because not being able to hear them would likely scare me in my young age.  
    And that's it...there are only a few more memories from that apartment - I had one of those Sit and Spin contraptions.  Mine was blue.  It was a round thingy I sat on, with my legs crossed around a middle piece/wheel that I would turn in order to spin myself as fast as possible, until the room and everything in it was a blur. I remember the couch we had - blue also - and quite ugly, I'd add.  I remember toddling down the hallway from my room to my parents' room and sitting on my Sit and Spin while my mother sat in a rocking chair and read.   
    As I got older, I'd soon be introduced to the idea that not all memories were good ones nor would they make sense. It's possible I do not remember many of the happy times in which my parents were together because they were divorced by the time I was two.  Being a non-hearing child, it's also possible I witnessed NONE of their fights, there was NO sign that these two perfect, happy people were having problems.  And so this 'earliest' memory of standing in my crib waiting for my parents to appear is the only one I have that still makes me smile today.  And I've been called "silly" because "it's not possible to remember things from that young," but I certainly do, right down to the room being filled with sunlight, the pictures on the wall, both my Mom and Dad walking in and putting on their, "oh, MY, LOOK who's up from her nap!?" faces.  It was a truly peaceful and serene memory.
    There are OTHER memories from childhood that when I look back at, I am NOT filled with this same sense of security.  In fact, I don't think ANY further memories award me this feeling.  Perhaps this is why it stands out so forcefully when I try and pinpoint my earliest, happiest recollection.  In fact, I'm betting on it.
    Other memories, although not definitive, also play a role in why I suspect I behave in certain ways today.
    In the memories to follow,  I am older.  Definitely no longer in diapers.  I am at my grandmother's house - so, SO many memories take place here.  This was also the house my mother's brother lived in, and still lives in today.  When you stepped into the main entrance, there were 2 doors - both were always kept open.  One led toward the left and a small hallway took us to my grandmother's part of the house.  The other led straight ahead toward a flight of stairs that would take us to my uncle's apartment, upstairs.  I remember sitting on those steps, just sitting there, so that I didn't have to be around those 'boring' grown-ups in the apartment downstairs.  In fact, I didn't want to be around ANYONE.
    Now, I'm pretty sure it was around Halloween or Thanksgiving - my grandmother was big on hanging up these paper decorations she'd tape to the windows or onto the walls.  Now that I think of it, it may have been Thanksgiving/the fall because I'm now remembering two smiling Pilgrims - a boy and a girl - it was just their heads - they were smiling and perhaps it said 'Happy Thanksgiving' across the bottom.  The girl had on a bonnet...the boy had on a top hat and a smile, there were freckles scattered across his nose.  There might have been a turkey somewhere, too - Grandma had them all as well as a witch's head, a vampire's fanged smile, a pumpkin, a cornucopia, taped to these walls, her kitchen walls, her fridge, etc, in observance of the fall holidays.  After Thanksgiving, she'd replace them with Santa-themed decor - but she always kept up with them as ALL holidays were celebrated at her house.  She didn't have a large house but it was, by default, where we were every Sunday for pasta and 'gravy' or during any holidays that required family-style observance.  
    I remember some of these decorations being a point of focus.  I'd simply stare at them for several minutes at a time.  Hard to explain but it's possible the one on her fridge was the one I focused on the most.  The layout of her kitchen was an odd one indeed.  Her fridge was actually against the wall BEHIND her stove - so whenever we needed to go get something from the fridge, we would have to exit the kitchen, walk around the corner and into another small hallway to where the fridge 'lived.'   Next to the fridge was the bathroom and across was a bedroom. 
    Whenever I slept at her house, I'd be in the bedroom directly across the fridge.  The bedroom or bathroom doors NEVER closed properly - not sure if it was because she'd never gotten the hinges fixed and my uncle was about as useful as a potted plant when it came to assisting his mother with the cleaning or maintenance around the house, but I do remember the presence of the fridge being sort of (or not 'sort of' but 'definitely') ominous and unsettling because when I was laying there trying to sleep, all I'd see was those ugly white doors, the decoration (usually a Pilgrim or character head) hanging on it.  In my brain, I'd 'hear' threatening, foreboding tones (or at least my idea of what these would sound like) and I'd ATTEMPT to close the door so that I wouldn't see the fridge or that freaking Pilgrim, but my grandmother would 'peek in' and the door would be reopened several times during the course of the night.  I am not sure if this is even important to mention, but whenever I slept there, my uncle would 'tuck me in' and tell me a made up 'scary story' before bed.  The stories never scared me as much as amused me - he was NOT good at thinking up new content - most of his stories were vampire themed and all started with "Once upon a time, in Transylvania...."  I was always in the stories.  And I was always the one to drive a stake through Count Dracula's heart at the end.  My cousins were the ones who would flee in fear and I LOVED being made the heroine, even though I knew it'd never be any other way.  As MY memory currently serves, he would leave after the story and I'd begin the task of trying to sleep but there was always that feeling of uneasiness, not related to his story-telling, but more so with my surroundings and the feelings accompanying them.  It may also be worth it to mention that this was AFTER I seven years old and AFTER an investigation into my uncle had yielded nothing.  Then in the morning, after I'd slept horribly, my grandmother would make scrambled eggs and he'd come downstairs with this brand of cereal - Puffed Rice - that he ate religiously every morning.  For some reason, I remember that cereal - I'm disgusted today by it if I walk past it in the cereal aisle in the grocery store.  
    Sleepovers at my grandmother's were a regular thing as my mother would be anxious to ship us off to Granny's whenever she wanted or needed a night out.  However, we were three girls and we never were together when we slept at Grandma's.  One week, she'd take me, one week, she would take the middle sister, one week she would take the 'baby.'  They do not recall ever having any problems sleeping - but I don't think anything was ever done to them, either.  The middle sister was born when I was seven - the investigation had already been completed and I'd like to think this was when any possible CSA had already stopped on account of perhaps my uncle being spooked.  They've made no mention of him tucking them in or telling them bedtime stories -  I've also never asked.  But today, they are fine with him - it's only me who has developed a profound hatred toward him.   They, along with my mother, though, have stopped questioning me as to why.  I've given the same story for the last decade: I hated watching him allow my grandmother to live in such disgusting, unsanitary conditions.  And this is what I'll continue to tell them if asked - the rest is just too complicated to try and explain.
    Perhaps, though, this triggers the need I currently have today for all doors to be securely closed when I am in my bedroom ready to sleep.  If at some point I see a door is open, I have to physically get up and close it.  And now I have a cat who knows how to open doors that have a handle-style knob rather than the rounded sort - this is pretty much EVERY knob in the house!  In order to effectively keep him from opening our bedroom door in the middle of the night, we now have to lock him out of the rooms we don't want him letting himself into.
    Anyway, there is one other issue I have when I'm trying to sleep.  Some of you may remember the light sensitivity issue I've brought up in the past but I will remind you if you're drawing blanks.  I absolutely cannot be able to see ANY sources of light, no matter how big or small.  I need for it to be completely dark - pitch black would work best. If I do not have these conditions, I cannot sleep well.  If there is an open door, that is one of the biggest issues because I'd have light coming in from neighboring rooms.  My grandmother would sleep on the couch whenever I was there, and so the kitchen light would pour into the hallway until she'd finally shut it.  Even so, I could still see that godawful refrigerator...not sure if it's because I knew it was there regardless.
    There were two windows in that room.  She had blinds on those windows.  I would sometimes attempt to look in a different direction while trying to sleep.  Instead of looking at the fridge, I'd look toward the window but that wasn't much better, either.  There was possibly a streetlight that was located not too far from that window and these blinds were NEVER able to completely filter out the outside light, so I'd see whenever cars drove by at night, there would be bright lights every so often.  And I remember HATING that I could see the light coming in from the windows, enough to occasionally try and bury myself underneath the blankets in order to get the complete darkness I craved.  Gawd, I spent HOURS trying to fall asleep and sometimes didn't sleep at all! 
    Today, I take extreme measures to ensure that every stray light is covered, even if it means draping a sock over the cable box to cover the small, red power dot that I feel is too bright.  I will cover my phone or flip it face-down, since while it's charging, a green light is constant.  If someone is awake (usually by the time I go to bed, no one is) then I will assume a light is on in the room outside my bedroom and I will lay a towel or clothing garment down across the maybe 1" space between the bottom of the door and the floor.  
    I KNOW it sounds awfully odd - I can't figure it out, either.  It's probably one of those things that I will need to consult with small-child Capulet one of these days, should she become more forthcoming with the details that would explain these behaviors that have carried over into adulthood.  I do know that I'm not "afraid" of the light - I know it cannot harm me.  I'm not sure if the light is even what bothered me as a child or what the origin of this even IS.  Was there light once, before I was old enough to remember the reasons behind this irrational fear, and I 'saw' something that scared me?  
    I just do not like that unsettled feeling that almost always seems to reappear whenever there is "spare" light when I attempt to go to sleep and it's dark outside.  Funnily enough, if I attempt a daytime nap, although I do try and block out as much of the natural sunlight by closing the blinds and drawing the drapes, I can still see everything in the room.  Even so, I can still fall sleep or nap in a room that isn't dark (although the door still MUST be closed!) as night.  
    Grandma also had a basement that terrified me.  And as much as I was scared by the three-room layout of her basement, I still would venture downstairs when I was bored.  It was EASY to feel bored at my grandmother's house - she had some toys there but there were only so many that interested me, so I would seek out other ways to quell the boredom.  The first room was where most of her 'junk' was stored.  A lot of it was my mother's and uncle's and aunt's accumulated junk that none of them had thrown away.  The second room (let it be known there were no doors in the basement; it was all 'open' and one room simply 'fed' into the other) had a washer and dryer and one of those wooden racks that was for clothes hanging.  There was a small bathroom in the second room but I do not remember that bathroom ever being usable.  The third room was always pitch-black, the only way to see anything in there was to pull a string (that sometimes took a while to find) on an overhead light.  I was never able to reach that string, so I never ventured past that second room.  But I could still see those two holes in the wall, they were literally holes that we were able to see outside through - next to one another.  I'm not sure how those holes came to be.  The house was pretty old, though.  But the way they were positioned next to each other made them appear as "eyes," especially during the daytime hours when they'd actually be the sunlight coming in through those two small holes.  I'd call those the "eyes of the beast," and I would repeatedly peek toward the third room from either the first or second, to make sure the beast was still there.  It always was.  I'd realize I was still afraid of 'it' and would go back upstairs.  At night, though, of course, the 'beast' wouldn't be there.  
    Again, this house was never maintained - my grandmother had her skills but house-cleaning and upkeep was NEVER one of them.  Everything was rickety and dirty, we learned to 'ignore' the occasional roach we would see crawling around on the walls or floors.  One of the adults would pull off a shoe and put it out of its misery if a big deal was made, but her house was literally infested by the time she did pass away in 2002.  This was also what 'flipped the switch,' I looked at my uncle and realized that despite remembering nothing 'off' from childhood (before age six or after) I loathed him.  And from that point on, I exorcised him from my life.  I think, though, I also eliminated the possibility of ever being able to get any answers from him, but perhaps that is okay - perhaps the answers will present themselves in different ways.
    Either way, these are just a few memories that I have of childhood.  As you can see, a lot of them circulate around her house.  A lot of them have to do with my uncle, her bedroom, and being afraid in the evenings.   A LOT of time was spent in that house - a LOT.  And until she died, I was a frequent visitor.  Perhaps my reason for being able to sail through all the sleepovers, family gatherings was because it was what Grandma truly enjoyed and I loved her VERY much.  And when she died, there was simply no more reason to return to that house for a visit.  And that afternoon we'd gone there after her funeral HAD indeed been the last time I set foot in that house.  Her death somehow 'freed' me from that house - and brought forth a slew of memories, emotions, recollections that I'd learned to effectively ignore for a long time - to include my attitude toward my uncle.  THAT was the thing I noticed the most, in fact.
    That tells me something, even though it's nowhere near the 'everything' I need to know.  In time though, perhaps I will understand more. 
    Memories are THAT powerful.  And lately, I've been making note of the things I do remember.  Ways I behaved.  Every little feeling, every emotion.  There are other things I've done as a child/pre-teen that I'm still hesitant to share here.  For now, those are mine and only mine to sift through, but sadly those, too, make sense and are 'in line' with the other suspicions I have.  And these are things that bring me sadness as well as anger - sadness because they exist and anger because there's nothing I can do to change the past.
    Memories sure are complex, aren't they?  They can bring us peace, or they can bring us further turmoil.  They can make us smile, they can make us laugh, they can make us cry.  They can confuse us while at times, they provide a sense of clarity.  And sometimes while they may repress, they cannot be erased, as much as we'd love for them to be.  
    And finally...
    In honor of this being my 50th blog entry, I've an announcement (of sorts) to make.  I've decided that my life has been 'in limbo' for far too long.  I focused only on raising my children and my family for the last twenty years, give or take.  I quit school and subsequently put my professional aspirations 'on hold.'  I was only two semesters shy of my Associate's, and I was majoring in English when I became pregnant with my first child and life just didn't allow me many opportunities to go back and finish what I'd started.
    And, so, I've decided that I'm going to get the ball rolling and soon go back to school.  I am also going to change my major from English to Social Work and obtain my BSW (Bachelor's in Social Work).  I feel that to choose English as my initial major was a result of simply not knowing where my calling was.  That's traditionally what people who like to write major in - English.  At the time, it felt that was what I wanted to do with myself, since I spent so much time as a child and teenager writing.  Twenty years and SEVERAL experiences later has shifted that focus, though, and I feel that I can truly contribute more toward a job in social work than I could as a writer.  I mean, I'll still write, but I think that being able to tap into my own personal experiences in order to help others make sense of their own, will be extremely valuable in this new venue.  
    And so, I'm going for it.  I am soon going to be making a lot of changes in my life.  Rather than feel 'stuck' on where circumstances have landed me, I am going to now embrace these circumstances and use them to strengthen me in my new career choice.  When I told my mother of my plans, she made a face that resembled one she'd make if I'd shoved a dozen lemons into her mouth, and said, "don't you realize how much WORK that is?  And that you're going to have to talk to a lot of people and you're hardly going to make any money??  I thought you'd be better suited to go into something to do with computers!"  
    I told her to enjoy her lemons.  I'll not explain this to her as I don't feel it's worth the aggravation - all I said to her was that my choice was made; I was going to do what I want - after spending the last 20 years doing what everyone else wanted or expected of me, it's now time to make something of myself.  I refuse to choose a field that I won't feel accomplished in.  Computers may be something I use daily, but I do know I'm capable of far more than writing code or trying to de-bug a virus-riddled PC.  No, I'll pass on those headaches.
    But to you guys, I'll honestly say it is NOT about the money.  It is also NOT about the amount of work, because as far as I'm concerned, I've already put in a significant amount of work into understanding how the mind works from a survivor's standpoint.  I have a natural understanding of it, mostly because I spend a great deal of time trying to make sense of my own mind.  I do know that others' work differently - of course they do!  But I think that having a basic understanding of the impact of sexual abuse/assault and its long-term effects will enable me to be a better advocate.  I truly feel that this is where my true calling lies - and by helping others to heal, perhaps I will eventually be able to consider myself healed as well.  I feel it will also give me a greater sense of purpose - for being a survivor of DV as well has greatly diminished my self-value in addition to putting a limit to what I could do with myself.  It's time to build myself back up and if I can, bring others up with me.  I want to make a difference in myself using the cards I've been dealt, the memories I've collected over the years, and to be able to pull something positive out of those negatives.  Because they're there - they're hard to see right now and I've still got quite a bit of work to do on myself, but I DO recognize that those positives exist and they are simply waiting to be recognized.
    I'll be keeping everyone informed of the process, of course!  I'm excited for myself, for the first time in years!
    Here's to 50 more entries.   Hopefully they'll flow a little bit quicker than the last few have, but you betcha they'll be here.  Thank you all again for being here and for hearing everything I've had to say.  You are all dear to my heart.  
    Peace, love and light - (darkness for me, please!)
    - Capulet
  9. Capulet
    I've been quiet for the past week.  I'm sorry, guys.  
    After my last entry, I've had a lot to think about.  That incredibly annoying voice in my head is back, and even though I'm deaf, I can still hear it.  There's a hamster, that although is cute in a little hairy rodent sort of way, is CONSTANTLY running in his little wheel situated in the middle of my brain...every time the wheel turns, a new question, thought, memory, WHATEVER, is thrown into the fray and is resulting in less of that thing that normal people refer to as 'sleep' and more of those not-so-wonderful headaches.  I did just buy a BIG ASS jar of Advil for those, though.   
    It's just been a week of realizations...I suppose these can be both good and bad.  Good because it's a sense of understanding that perhaps wasn't so clear before - and bad because well, really - who wants these new truths to exist?
    Guys, I promise this is NOT a blog entry having to do with weight-loss.  It is, but it isn't.  I won't be discussing numbers or food; I did give my word that I wouldn't be blogging about diet as it's a sensitive subject to some and I don't wish to unintentionally promote poor body image.  But there IS something new that I'm realizing in regards to myself - and it sort of applies, it 'fits' and I'm pretty sure that it's one of those things that pop up when something else does - whether intentional or not.  Very much like when A pops up, then it makes you think about B, C, and D.  There's a lot of that happening with me lately.  And I feel that I need to cleanse myself a little by admitting something to you all that I've been struggling to share - I'll explain further why at the end of this post, but here goes.
    But, first, a couple of 'background stories.'
    This one is from back when I was a child, aged 11.  I remember it very clearly, though it was a lifetime and a half ago.  Setting the scene a little.  It was my cousin's birthday.  My father's sister's son was turning 8.  And my aunt, a single mother, was having a family gathering for his birthday at her house.  She boiled up a pot of hot dogs and served them to all the kids - mostly, it was just the rest of my cousins and maybe one or two of the birthday boy's friends from school.  
    Anyway - I ate my hot dog rather quickly, having been hungry. 
    I brought my plate over to the stove and asked my aunt for another.   There were plenty in the pot.  Some of the other kids were already chomping on seconds.
    "You don't need another one," she said to me, "That's why you're so fat."
    I didn't argue with her.  I remember there being a slight pause as my stomach somersaulted.  Instead of responding with, "I'm hungry," I simply put my paper plate in the trash and went to sit next to my grandmother on the couch.  
    When they had cake, a piece was offered to me and I declined.  I remember looking at myself in the mirror later that night and deciding that my aunt was right - I was fat.  11 years old and fat.  And I didn't know it then, nor understand it - but that is absolutely NOT what an adult tells a child.  When a child is hungry, you feed them.  No questions asked.  You simply don't make a kid feel as if there's something wrong with them for being hungry.  That is completely and totally un-fucking-acceptable.  And I often picture myself standing next to that 11-year-old version of myself asking for another frankfurter, so that when told I was fat, I could THEN respond to my aunt in a manner that would have impacted her as much as her statement to me at 11 years old had.  
    Of course, I know this is not in any way realistic.  It does please me, (although only slightly because of that 'nice person' I am) that my aunt is a miserable old lady now, with very few friends who can tolerate her endless criticism.  She's lonely, she's realizing that she's not as liked as she thought she was.  
    Now, let's fast-forward a few years.  Now I am married to the wasband and I am raising three children.  We have our son, who was a toddler, and then we have his two older children that I'd raised since they were ages four and two. By now, I'd already been through my fair share of weight fluctuations.  The short version - I was 'pudgy' throughout high school.  Not fat.  Pudgy.  Then in college, my SA occurred about a month into Freshman classes - after that, I dropped a bunch of weight due to loss of appetite and actually looked good for a while.  
    Then I married the wasband, became "comfortable" with eating and gained a bunch of weight after the Son was born.  Motherhood took an enormous toll on me - I was still young...21, 22, 23 years old and raising three kids.  I honestly don't know how I did it, a lot of it was on autopilot mode - or perhaps it was because I felt I had so much to prove to the wasband...and to everyone else who was telling me (even if non-verbally) that I couldn't do it.  I'm not going to lie...it WAS stressful.  I was home during the day with the Son, who cried and cried and CRIED, I couldn't even clean the apartment without putting him in the Snuggli so that I could hold him while I did laundry, dishes, floors, whatever.  Then, the older kids would need to be dropped off/picked up from school, and that was me, too.  Whenever one of them got sick, it was also me to take them to doctors, pharmacies, all with a colicky infant in tow.  Now, we'll top all of that off with the 'in the background' stuff - my r*pe having occurred as recently as 5-7 years prior to that - it wasn't as 'fresh,' but it still indeed bothered me - I still had nightmares, I still cried on the bathroom floor during the few opportune moments I was alone, simply because my husband was a VERY firm believer in 'what is in the past, belongs in the past....and in the past it should stay.'  These were the 'suppressing' years; he'd ask how i was doing, I'd say, I was fine.  And for a while, I believed it.  At the same time, I ate because I was stressed out, I sought comfort within food.  And that resulted in me being at my heaviest.
    The wasband was not kind to me.  He would tell me I was fat, I was unattractive.  He would point out other women he found attractive.  He'd ask in front of the kids, "what does your fat ass want to eat tonight?"  I'd shrug.  I felt horrible, ashamed, unimportant.  But at the same time, he wasn't wrong.  I WAS eating unhealthily, I WAS overweight.  I DID let myself go. I mean, I couldn't have it all - what I really needed was love, support and a little bit of understanding and when there was very little of that available to me, I had instead given in to bad eating habits.    
    So, after he'd called me fat for the umpteenth time, I went on a diet.  I was successful and lost a bunch of weight.  Got myself back to where I was before the Son was born.  
    And so, here is story number two, now that I've set THAT scene:
    We were at the mall, the wasband and I - meeting up with some friends.  Another couple that we knew - while our sons were at soccer practice, we'd gone to the food court in the mall for lunch.  
    He bought himself and me these enormous chicken parm rolls from the pizza place.  I'd already lost a fair amount of weight and could only eat a couple of bites of mine before feeling full.  And the wasband, in front of these people that we barely even knew, pointed out that I'd hardly touched my lunch and commented that I was starving myself.  I honestly wasn't; I just wasn't hungry at the time.  Even if I WAS being mindful about how much I'd eat, it was still NOT the time nor place for him to make such a comment...and certainly not something you do in front of other people.  He then told me that he wanted me to eat every single bite of this way-too-big chicken parm roll, it'd be good to get some meat on me - I was both confused and mortified.  I mean - you're going to tell me how fat I am and then when I lose the weight, I'm starving myself?  Just what the hell do you even want from me?  I did want to ask him this at the time, but I didn't.  At the time, I just forced a smile at these people and fumbling for an excuse, said that the food didn't taste right.  I had it wrapped and fed it to the kids later on that evening.  He wasn't happy with me, but I don't think I cared enough at the time to discuss it.  I just felt even more like a failure.  Nothing I ever did was right or pleased him.  It would only be a few more years we'd be married at this point - but this was shortly before I became pregnant with my daughter.
    So now I have shared a story from when I wanted food and a story for when I didn't.  Both times, I was made to feel ashamed for what I wanted.  Hopefully, I have successfully painted a little bit of a clearer picture of why I am so conflicted with diets or even the topic of weight.  Why, in addition to everything else that's wrong in my life, I can add 'eating disordered' to my list of problems.  
    See, I always knew this about myself.  I always blamed genetics because it was easier to do so - my mother's side is big-boned, my father's side is not.  I could be either way - I do think that while my mother CONSTANTLY struggles with weight, I tend to have better luck than she with diets in general - possibly thanks to Dad's genes.  
    This, though, I don't have a name for.  I'm definitely not bulimic; I do not force myself to purge what I've eaten.  I do not think I am anorexic - I DO eat, although I do limit food intake at times because I'm fearful of becoming the 'fat' person again or the 'unattractive' one, which is indeed a characteristic of the disorder.  I've never dropped enough weight where hospitalization was necessary.
    I just don't want to be seen this way anymore - I was seen as fat when I was a child and chastised for wanting more food.  By a family member.  Then I was seen as fat/unattractive by the man I married - when the one you marry is supposed to love every single thing about you - even the extra pounds, should there be any.  See, when something is ingrained in you from an early age, you sometimes don't realize it's not the proper way of looking at it until MUCH later, when the damage is already done and the scars are deeper than you thought they were.  Is there even a correct name for this issue of mine?  Or is 'eating disordered' it, even though it's a pretty broad description?
    Anyway - I couldn't help LOSING MY SHIT when last week, I got on the scale and three pounds of bloat showed up in big, bright, red, digital numbers.  I'd GAINED three pounds.  WHY?  What the hell had I DONE to gain three pounds in seven days?!  I certainly hadn't overdone it - not three pounds' worth, anyway.  I'm currently on a mission to return to a healthy weight - and TRUST me on this - there is still a ways to go before I'm there.  I've made progress.  I DO feel better.  I'm in a committed, healthy relationship with a supportive woman who loves me no matter what the numbers on the scale say.  She certainly has NEVER made me feel badly for my weight although I HAVE fluctuated a couple times in the nearly ten years we're together.  She's celebrated my accomplishments with me as I'm on my way back down to a healthy weight, after discovering earlier this year that  I was at my all-time high.  I'd gotten comfortable AGAIN, I'd let myself go, AGAIN.  And it was because no one was telling me what was wrong with me anymore - I was genuinely happy.  When someone is happy, it's very easy to carelessly slip back into old habits simply because no one is putting you down for that extra helping of food you helped yourself to.  And it all adds up and has a way of catching up to you.
    And so, this is a little different.  I realized for the first time, that being at this weight was unacceptable to ME - before it was unacceptable to anyone else.  And the decision to fix it was made solely by me, completely unaided by anyone else.  
    Yet, when that three pounds showed up, ALL I could hear in my head was how fat I was, how I'd ALWAYS be what others already saw me as.  All I could feel was failure.  And a soreness in my big toe after kicking the scale across the bathroom floor.  I swore up and down, left and right, I was ready to break down and CRY.  The only reason I didn't is because I had plans to take the Son to an appointment.  I no longer wanted to go to this appointment - I wanted to literally run until that three pounds was GONE, even if I had to sweat it out.  All these unreasonable ways of removing that ridiculous THREE POUNDS were running through my head - I found myself thinking that I needed to skip a meal or two, I needed to do BETTER than this.  I saw the ex's disgusted face, I heard him belittle me over and over.  And for a fraction of a minute, I believed it.  I'd failed.  I'd screwed up.  
    And then - two days later, I'd discover that it's my time of the month; the bloat was simply my body's way of prepping for my impending menses.  And so, that episode in the bathroom?  Completely uncalled for.  How stupid do you want to guess I felt, then?  PRETTY silly, I'll say - I have already apologized to the scale and to myself - but I will not apologize for WHY I am this way.  It's not my apology to make, but it IS my responsibility to recognize the reasons for my flawed thinking.
    So what am I realizing other than I'm eating disordered through no fault of my own?  (If there's no name for this, then it's perhaps acceptable to leave it at this...)
    I'm realizing that as I heal, as I progress further and further into an understanding of the complex mess that is myself, I am able to better delegate blame for these things, and place it where it belongs. The weight issues - definitely started by my aunt, whose intention was probably not to cause permanent damage, but instead to exercise tough love.  Definitely not the best way to go about that, though.  And then, it was further exacerbated by the domestic violence by the wasband, who seemingly makes a career out of being hurtful toward people whom he's supposed to be kindest to...his emotional, verbal and mental abuse certainly played a role.
    It does help, though, to sit here and attempt to make sense of my thoughts by writing them out - it's the same thing I would be doing in therapy, honestly.  And I've covered all my W's.  Who?  What?  Where/when?  And of course, the most important of them all: WHY?  
    I guess while I've given it all my best guess as far as the 'why' goes.  My whys.  I don't think I'm capable of understanding THEIR whys.  
    I suppose that's a good thing, though.  I don't wish to understand why people do horrible things to others and make them feel as if they're anything less than valuable.  It isn't something I'd ever do to another.  I think the problem is this - because of THEM, I still do it to myself.
    I guess I just want to feel that I'm doing this the right way, that my feelings are normal.  I don't expect all of them to be - surely many are understandably influenced by repeatedly being abused - but I also feel that it's important to divulge that this weight loss journey is by no means without struggle.  I HAVE had success, do not get me wrong.  I just feel that some of it is because I'm too hard on myself, and some of my methods are a result of being fanatical rather than relaxed. I simply don't know how else to be.  I don't know how else to shrug off a couple pounds' gain as being no big deal rather than break down and become obsessed with taking it back off immediately.  I'm feeling the need to own these things, for to admit is to recognize the problem.
    Thanks for listening, if you've made it this far.  And of course, for allowing me to (try to) make sense of why I am this way, even if it's just to myself for now.  I will try and come back in a few days with another entry...perhaps something a little lighter next time.
    I welcome any and all comments, but please - do not post them here.  I feel that PMs are likely the best place to send feedback on this matter.
    Good night, all.
    - Capulet 
  10. Capulet
    I’m sitting here, amazed.  Just amazed.  Or completely flabbergasted.  Or a mix of both.  That expression, ‘one step forward, two steps backwards’ makes SO much sense today.  And there’s absolutely no particular reason for it.  It’s not something someone said, it’s not because of something I read.  It just hit me and brought with it the elusive sense of clarity that had been hiding for a long time.
    You see, I thought I knew everything about myself.  With the exception of the fuzzy, not-yet-accessible repressed childhood memories, I thought I knew everything else that happened to me, everything I did and that was done to me, every single STUPID-ass decision I made (and now I also understand the reasons behind these) and everything that I’ve spent every day simply trying to move past and to survive.  Because right now, life is good.  Aside from all of the shit that’s ‘in the background,' life is truly going as well is it’s ever gone.  I know I’ll never be able to get back all the time where it DIDN’T go so well, so all along, I’ve been trying to make up for it, instead. 
    See, I just thought I'd had it all figured out - why I am the woman I am today.  Also, what I need to do to improve…to be the woman I want to become.  
    I’m not by any means trying to say that I’m a bad person as is…if you’d take the time to get to know me, you know this isn’t the case - but deep down, I know I can be even better if only I’d allow it.  I know I can be healthier.  I can smile wider and mean it, and I can laugh more, I can be more loving, compassionate and considerate to those around me, to include family members that I’m struggling to even like at times.  I can certainly travel that extra mile, make that extra effort to be better.  While this is all true for just about everyone on the planet, for me, it’s the result of a defense mechanism triggered by shit I’ve been holding onto for most of my adult life.  I find that instead of dropping everything and rushing to another’s rescue, I hold back.  Mostly, this is the case with the aforementioned family members but lately I’ve been finding that I do it with friends, too…old and new friends, alike.  
    And I don’t want to, anymore.  I have been trying to reach out, under the impression that this is how it’s supposed to be…if I don’t reach out, how am I supposed to be your friend?  How are you supposed to be mine?  I mean, I can be anyone’s best friend - I’m there for someone whenever they need or want.  They call and I’m there.  But when I need or desire some company, support, a bag of popcorn, whatever - I don’t ask for it.  Instead, I wait.  I suppress, I stew.  I focus as much of my healing energies elsewhere.  For a while, though, that worked wonders.  I found that in supporting others, I was slowly, but surely healing my own self, too.  I firmly believe there’s no right or wrong way to deal with what’s built up on the inside - someone just does what they’re comfortable with and what feels right.  And for someone like me, who isn’t in a position to seek out therapy (GOOD therapy) then if this method works, then what’s wrong with that?
    I mean, I’d love to say that I’ve been able to fully lay out all my cards on the table and list everything, all the little secrets that still bring me shame...although I KNOW I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of…these were things done TO me, things that I know were not my fault at all.  I’m just trying not to feel like the phony I KNOW I’m not...because I'm so understanding and extremely perceptive when it comes to other people, what they are feeling.  I can answer their questions, but when it comes to my own, I draw blanks.  You see, it seems that no matter WHERE I turn, there’s new questions, new realizations and my mental list gets longer rather than shorter.  I’m finding myself understanding things I never would have thought of before and it’s nothing short of unsettling.  Things that I never admitted, even to myself, things that deep down, I was more than aware of for YEARS and buried rather than dealt with.
    I didn’t even know what gaslighting was until I was educated by an earlier post.  I swear, for a moment, I thought this woman had dated my ex.  God, it’s TRULY unnerving to say ‘me too’ to something you really never thought was a problem, isn’t it?  Especially when it’s something you originally knew wasn’t quite right but didn’t really have a name nor could I properly categorize what was happening as being a form of domestic violence.  A silent, more difficult to recognize version of domestic violence in the form of mental, verbal and emotional abuse.  I always thought that domestic violence consisted of screaming, door-slamming, one spouse beating the other, one spouse controlling the other, perhaps there was unwanted/forced sexual intercourse.  To me, THAT was domestic violence.  It just didn’t fit with what I formerly perceived it to be.
    While there were many heated arguments between him and I during the course of our marriage, (mostly one sided - he’d always be the one to belittle, bully, etc and I’d be the one to apologize for things I didn’t feel I needed to be sorry for) he never, EVER raised a fist to me.
    However, the very confusing sexual advances/encounters did happen a small handful of times toward the end of our marriage, I’d thought to myself it was probably because just as I was confused and needed to get used to us not being together anymore after eight years, he, too, had to make that same adjustment.  We had agreed to separate (he asked for it) and since he was penniless and unable to relocate into his own apartment which would make him responsible for two times the amount of bills, etc...I allowed him to live at home with me and the kids - we figured the transition would be a little bit easier on our little ones if he remained consistent.  I suggested that while he could stay for as long as he needed to set up somewhere else, he should sleep on the sofa.  
    He looked absolutely APPALLED with me then…
    "After eight years of being together, you would kick me out of my own bed, too?”  He said, “You know I have to work in the morning, I should at least be able to get a restful night’s sleep in my own bed.  Especially since I’m the one who has to move out eventually."
    He piled the guilt on, layer by layer.  He was the sole breadwinner in the family.  He paid the mortgage, all the bills, bought all the food, supplied the clothing.  All I did was maintain the house (not very well, either), cook the meals, and tend to the kids…and here I was, kicking him, the hard worker and sole supporter of our family, out of his bed.  
    I remember that day so clearly.  I was making a PB&J sandwich for my then two-year-old.  He was standing behind me, having just gotten home from work and we were having our “daily” discussion.  We had so many of those.  As part of our separation, he’d asked if we could talk a little bit every day - especially since he was now ready to start seeing someone else (I do think he knew her long before this - he’ll never admit to that, though) and he was ‘concerned’ with my frame of mind and how I’d be able to cope with his being the first one to move on.  He’d say he wasn’t officially leaving until he was sure I’d be okay on my own.  Trying to be a nice guy throughout the whole divorce process so that looking back, he would be able to say he was decent throughout all of the proceedings.
    And so I shrugged when I finished making the sandwich.  “Fine.  You can sleep in the bed, but we’re not having sex anymore.  We can’t.”
    “Why not?”  He asked.  I could have told him that he was glowing in the dark, he appeared THAT surprised.  All I could do was look at him with the best ‘are you serious right now?’ look I could manage.  But no words came out.  I just didn’t have any.  I mean - what?  You don’t want to be married to me, but you still want to have sex with me?  You want your cake and you want to eat it, too?
    A few weeks passed.  He one day came home from a night out with the woman he was now seeing regularly.  I was already in bed when he slipped under the covers and began to have sex with me.  And then, when he was finished, he said, “I can still see us doing this ten years down the road, even if we’re with other people.”  Stupidly, I nodded.  I don’t know why.  No, I didn’t agree with it…I am not someone who cheats, therefore I would NOT be engaging in sexual intercourse with him if there was someone else in my life.  And maybe in a way, this was his way of admitting to me that he’d cheated before and was capable of cheating again.  I didn’t have someone at that time.  He did.  He had HER, this woman he was spending most of his free time with now.  What did he need me, for??  So now, he was cheating on his mistress with his wife.  How ‘bout that?  How much sense does this even make??
    Luckily, this only happened only a few times.  In different ways, he would solicit sex and if I resisted, he would make me feel as if I was the one behaving irrationally.  (“You’re all of a sudden not comfortable with me anymore?  After all this time?”)  And so, believing I was already dead inside, I’d give in and participate, even if it meant laying still and ‘checking out’ while he did what he wanted.  Eventually, I suppose he tired of the ‘stick in the mud’ personality I’d adopted for the time being and it stopped completely, but from time to time, he’d remind me of our little ‘secret,’ and that he trusted me not to tell anyone.  And like an idiot, I didn’t.  Like a CHILD, I didn’t.  I held onto it.  All of it.
    By now, he was ready to move out.  His ‘mistress’ was letting him spend the nights at her place - so there simply was no need for me, anymore.  And so from there, he moved out and the divorce was finalized.  
    Now, his mistress is his wife.  And now, ten years later, SHE'S miserable.  The person he is, has not changed.  He still thinks of himself to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.  He provides for all of his children (he has five total - three others in addition to the two we have together) and he is an active, present father.  He’s just an absolute shitty husband, and while I understand his wife’s current situation all too well, I don’t pity her at all.  I feel horrible, but I’m partially glad it’s not me, anymore.  Another part of me feels that maybe she's not having as much of an issue with him...she's still married to him, after all.  And, maybe it was just me he treated the way he did, because he knew I was too weak to defend myself.  But, maybe I'm completely off and the reason she's still with him is because she's not ready to break away yet.  History repeats itself, sadly.  
    And although I am no longer with him or live with him, the effects are lasting and I imagine these scars will be with me for the rest of my life.  Because of him, I’ll never feel as if I’m anything less than an ugly, fat cow.  Because of him, I’m afraid to speak my mind sometimes, I’m afraid to disappoint someone if my opinion differs from theirs, even though they’re not like him and would probably be okay with a differing perspective.  Because of him, I remain silent when I should be using my voice.  I was weak when I met him.  And instead of making me stronger through the love a husband is supposed to have for a wife, instead of helping me to build myself up into the woman I deserved to be, he further battered me with words, with insults, with bullying.  He constantly undermined me, disrespected me, called me names, even made fun of me in front of our children.  Yes, there were occasional good times - probably more good than bad, in hindsight, but whenever there was a rough patch, it would ALWAYS overshadow the good parts to the point where I couldn’t remember them anymore.
    In case you are wondering, I did tell my fiancee about all of that stuff when we got together.  But, no one else.  
    This, right here, is the only place I’ve spoken of it.  This is where I’ve given it the name it deserves and where I’ve finally recognized this, along with his behavior throughout our marriage, as being so, very wrong.  This is where I break my silence and for the first time, acknowledge that I am a survivor of domestic violence.
    There's probably more I can say.  Probably more I NEED to say.  But if I don't post this now, I probably never will.  
    I feel both relieved and ridiculously gross at the same time.  Back later.
    - Capulet
  11. Capulet
    *** possible trigger warning for medical procedure details, etc.  I've kept it as mild as I could but you just never know. ***
    Hello friends!
    Apologies for not getting this blog out sooner.   It's been a busy few days and I've not had the quiet time that my writing usually requires.
    This is the follow-up to the 'Have you seen my big-girl panties?' blog entry; with a bit of added information that I don't believe I've shared yet.  
    Firstly, the mammogram results showed some calcification on the right side and the doctor felt that he needed another, closer peek - and that was done via 3-D imaging.  It came back benign and I've been instructed to simply return next year for my routine yearly mammogram.  So, of course, after agonizing over having to have this done in addition to the biopsy, I was relieved to be told that there was no further cause for concern over the ta-tas at the moment. So that's one (of two) weights that have been lifted off of my chest.  (No, no pun intended...)
    The biopsy was another story.  
    See, I can deal with my boobs being squished for a few seconds while they take an x-ray, but this particular OTHER test - the biopsy - was causing my anxiety levels to skyrocket.  Made the mistake of letting Oompa know about this upcoming test.  Hearing my mother say, "oh, yeah, that's definitely unpleasant" was NOT helpful and I promptly changed the subject.  She didn't ask too many other questions though and went on about other things that were going on in her life that she deemed more important. 
    Anyway, biopsy day came...J took half the day off work and came with me for moral support, and I was of the impression that she would be allowed in the examination room WITH me.  And at first, she was.  The nurse came in and took my vitals first.  My BP was through the ROOF, but I told her that was no surprise - this test was making me EXTREMELY nervous.  She smiled and told me that I needed to calm down.  The whole procedure would take no more than five minutes.  I wouldn't feel anything afterwards.  I'd already had children, and what was going in was far smaller than what had come out.  She showed me the specimen-collecting tool - looked like a straw, almost.  Thinner, though.  She explained the 'straw' would be inserted, and the sample would collect inside.  "Five minutes, and you're all done," she said.  I shrugged and apologized - "I'm just not good with this kind of thing..."
    I know that some people choose to share whether there is sexual assault in their history, and there have been times where I entertained the idea of letting my GYN/the nurse know that I have some serious issues with examinations/touching (even though said touching is for examination purposes) and I'll also have a problem if the touching causes pain.  Paps are a necessary evil, but even with those, I'm clenching the edges of the table, they're irritating and my stomach's in knots by the time they're finished.  And just the idea of having to have this biopsy done was causing me pain BEFORE I even walked into the doctor's office.  Yet, it had to be done before he'd approve me for any medication to keep these periods under control.
    So, then, the doctor walks in and promptly asks J to leave.
    It happened so fast.  I don't think I even heard him say that she had to leave for the duration of the procedure.  I think that if I'd heard him ask her to go wait in the waiting room, I would have insisted upon her staying in the exam room.  But at this point, the lower half of my body was covered with a sheet and I was now in full-blown panic and really couldn't speak.  All I could think about was going home, being in my own bed, in my comfortable pajamas.  But to get there, I had to finish this stupid exam, first...  But anyway, J complies and mouths "sorry" as she's ushered out into the waiting room.  They closed the door and again, the anxiety levels begin to rise...it's go-time now and I'm beginning to consider running out of the building. I think what saved me from actually doing that was the fact that I had nothing on from the waist down.
    The doctor must have been told that I was nervous because he hands me this squeeze-ball thingy.  It was one of those foam stress balls, about the same size as those high-bouncing blue rubber balls I used to bounce off my grandmother's stoop back in Brooklyn.  
    "Okay, you just hold onto this..."
    I held it.  He then instructed me to lie down, and assume the position most appropriate for the examination.  The nurse stood next to me and was nice enough to warn me prior to whatever would be done next.  "Okay, he's now going to clean the area with betadine,"  then "Take a deep breath and exhale..."  "You'll feel some cramping now."
    I nodded after each 'warning.'  I complied when they told me to breathe (who knew, you had to breathe!) and I counted the moments until it'd be over.  I got through it...somehow.  I'm not sure if it was because I was squeezing that stress ball so tightly for the duration or if I 'checked out' for a few seconds during the painful, cramping moment - that, too, is entirely possible.  But the nurse was right - the whole thing DID take just five minutes.  
    And now, it was over!
    When the doctor was finished, he gave me the "okay" sign and left the room.  The nurse stayed behind only briefly while I sat up.  I guess I was shaking.  She asked me if I was all right.  I handed her the stress ball back and nodded.  I couldn't really say much.  She asked if I wanted a pad.  Another nod.  She opened a drawer and handed me one.  I had a feeling there was more she wanted to ask me but she didn't.  Again she asked if I was all right.  I could feel my eyes well up, but I refused to show weakness...I still have a problem with this, guys, a big one.  I do think, though, she was able to pick up on more than I'd intended, and rather than ask any more questions, she gave a reassuring pat on the arm and finally left me alone in the room.
    I fumbled with my clothes and dressed as quickly as I could.  
    In the meantime, a few tears escaped.  I wiped them away as quickly as they'd fallen; I'm not even sure why I was reacting this way.  I questioned myself, mostly...and where I stand when it comes to my own healing journey.  I thought I was over this, to be honest.  Yes I was raped - but this happened nearly 22 years ago.  A lifetime ago.  Since then, I've been married and divorced.  I've had two children.  I've had at least 15 paps done, one for each year between now and then, perhaps one every two since I very possibly missed a year here and there.  I've had plenty of other medical procedures done, including a five day hospital stay (with meningitis) and two cochlear implant surgeries.  My body's been through plenty.  This simple little 5-minute procedure SHOULD have been a walk in the park in comparison to brain surgery (implants) or having a PICC line put in following the meningitis episode.  And I honestly don't remember THOSE procedures (perhaps I was too sick or anesthetized to really remember) causing me this much stress before and after.    
    I just don't know if this means that I'm not as far along as I thought I was?  Or does this happen often, with others?  You're okay for a while and then one thing, even something as simple as a medical procedure, causes you to revisit a state of panic that you hadn't felt in a while?  Are you momentarily flooded with an overwhelming rush of emotions during that five minute, ten minute, however long it is, procedure - and then, when it's all over with, you're back to normal?  (or at least whatever you perceive 'normal' to be?)
    Either way, I managed to compose myself and we left - the doctor let us know that he'd call within a few days with the results. This was Wednesday last week - Thursday through Sunday morning, I had mini-vacation plans with J, my mother and the Daughter.  This is also a reason to stress, apparently, as my mother NEEDS to be administered in SMALL doses and the daughter's tolerance of her grandmother is wearing thin.  VERY thin.  Admittedly, it WAS a little easier to be able to go on this trip knowing that the underlying stress over these appointments was no longer and they were over with - now I was just waiting for results.  
    He finally called on Friday - and gave me the green-light to start taking the depo shots.  "A touch of endometriosis," he said.  But no cancer cells, everything else was fine.  The depo shot would regulate and relieve some of the endometriosis symptoms.
    See, I could have told him that, myself. But these medical professionals have to see for themselves, don't they? 
    But anyway, there you have it - that's the update on that...I do not have cancer, but apparently, (surprise, surprise!) I have underlying issues.  
    What ELSE is new?
    - Capulet
  12. Capulet
    Years ago, I used to spend a lot of time interpreting dreams.  Mostly my own, but whenever someone else told me theirs, I'd sit with them and we'd together make sense of why they dreamt about this person, why they'd dreamt of themselves either doing or behaving in a certain way, the list went on.  It was healing to be able to make sense of certain dreams, and so I kept a notebook and whenever I had one, I'd write down whatever I could remember so that I could further analyze them later.  I haven't kept such a notebook in a while, though - perhaps that's because I've not had many analyze-worthy dreams in recent years - most of them have been 'reruns' or the reoccurring dreams that I've already made sense of as best as I could.
    Dreams are a magnificent thing - they are so, very powerful, they're derived from our innermost, deepest thoughts...and when you can remember them (as some of them disappear as soon as you open your eyes and are fully awake) they're possibly the more important ones that contain hidden meaning and messages within.
    I had a very strange dream last night about my uncle.  The 'most reverend'...the...ughhh...the...abomination of a human being.  Yes, that's better and much, much more appropriate when it comes to feelings while talking about him.
    This particular dream was strange, in a way, funny, even a little scary when you think about it.
    I'm not sure what brought it on.  It could be anything at this point, but I think it's due to him coming up in conversations twice in the last few weeks.  Maybe a combination of that, topped off with the memories (involving him) that I have been struggling to make sense of as of recently.
    The first time he was mentioned was when Oompa was visiting us last - we were on our way to the supermarket and he'd called her cell.  I was driving and so at a red light, she turned to me and said, "I need to call your uncle back, he left me a message asking for a favor.  Don't worry.  I won't tell him I'm with you."
    (Yes, I did find that to be a bit strange - why now, all of a sudden, she's being all protective?  Same woman who has for YEARS been asking me why I can't stand her brother?  Now she's all, 'don't speak, I won't tell him I'm with you'??  Hmmm.  VERY interesting and I'm seeing possibly more flags than I should be, but this isn't what today's blog is about.)
    And then, Oompa sent a text last night, asking me if I wanted her to buy me pizza.  I responded with, 'Huh?' knowing she likely didn't mean to send me that message - its intended recipient was likely my sister.  My mother responded with "Oops. Wrong daughter.  I'm with your uncle and cousins (not his kids) at Luigi's Pizza* (* = name has indeed been changed...I'm not sure where the REAL Luigi's Pizza is although I'm sure there are several scattered across the United States) and was going to bring your sister some pizza for dinner."  
    I responded with, "Oh, that's nice."  And I had no desire for pizza for last night's dinner.  Made a nice little bowl of quinoa and brown rice with apple-flavored chicken sausage, instead.
    So...now, about the dream - it was odd to say the least.  I'm not even sure where I was - perhaps it was at a family gathering of some kind because that's the only reason I could think of that would warrant his being there also.  But dreams aren't known for precision; they're erratic and unpredictable so that throws that theory out the window.  Lately though, he's not been attending any family parties - because no one wants to be delegated the task of picking his rotting ass up and bringing him home afterwards and he lives far from all the rest of us (me being the farthest) and he doesn't drive nor do well with public means of transportation, having bad, arthritic knees.  I've also made it clear that while I can't really help whether he shows up at a 'big' event such as a wedding, I'll NOT attend if it's a small holiday gathering at someone's house and he'll be there.  And for the most part, my mother and sisters have done well with not including him - but they make it clear also that their reasons for not doing so are because of the reason stated above - no one wants to chauffeur him to and from the event.  
    Okay, so, in last night's dream, I was standing there - there were people around me.  I can't remember whom, now.  I'm sure my J was there, my kids were there.  It was that kind of event - it was important; I sensed that.  The only person I remember seeing, though, and clearly - is him.  
    Or at least...parts of him.
    Let me just say this, he is not a short man, he's of average height.  Taller than me, for sure.  I'm 5'2 with sneakers on.  He was always a large, obese man.  I last associated with him at my younger sister's wedding, a brief hello and 'gotta go,' was the gist of our brief interaction, as I went out of my way to avoid him whenever I could for the remainder of the wedding.  
    There are some surefire signs of aging - his hair is thinned and grey now.  The eyes, though, have not changed - they're sky blue - and while I absolutely love blue eyes on a person, his always made me uncomfortable; they had an inexplainable way of piercing through me, threatening me.  And that feeling has not changed...when I see his face, the eyes are what makes my heart leap into my throat.  He's survived far more than he deserves to - a heart attack, a quadruple bypass, gangrene, other shitty ailments that he has no business being alive after going through - he's lost some weight but still carries around a large overall frame, filled with a whole lot of ugliness that if you ask me, should entirely cease to exist.   
    So I'm just minding my own business.  And there he is...his...HEAD...was walking by.  All I see is his face, there's no doubt in my mind that it's his.  His face sickens me...and then there were feet.  You're probably thinking of this grotesque vision of a severed, bloodied head but it wasn't that way at all, it was as if that were his natural shape/form.  Head rested on top of feet where the neck and shoulders are supposed to be.   No blood, no gore - just this...defective, malformed creature that he'd become in my mind's eye.   If we can get past the sheer creepiness of this image, I'm thinking there's more that I can derive from this dream.
    And he walked (scurried or waddled, perhaps, there were no legs) past me.  He looked at me and kept walking.  At one point, he probably would have stopped and tried to speak to me, but in this dream, he did not.  Nothing happened.  He said nothing.  I said nothing.  
    I may be silly in thinking there's perhaps a meaning to all of this.  Maybe I'm overthinking, which is something else I am guilty of doing all the time.  
    But seeing him reduced to being just inches tall...that was the nice part.  If I wanted to, I could have picked up, drop kicked and punted that walking head into the Atlantic Ocean, but for some reason, that wasn't how the dream ended - I just woke up after he passed by.  And I kind of had this stupid smile on my face, too.  I think it was confusion that kept me from laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.
    See, there were perhaps times where, theoretically, he WAS bigger than me and I likely felt powerless against him.  I'm without concrete memories to support these theories, but I've had to further accept that I feel a certain way toward him for a reason.  Even if that reason is not entirely clear right now, it is time to listen to my gut feeling.  And to see him take on an entirely different shape, even in a pretty far-fetched dream, his being small and without any way of defending himself, was NICE.  Unrealistic, but nice.  
    I'm bigger than you, now, asshole.  And now I have power over you.  I CAN hurt you and turn your pathetic life upside down if I wanted to, but I choose not to.  I choose for Karma to take care of you and give you what you deserve, and when the time comes, she sure as hell will.  And THEN, I'll laugh.  I'll not lose any sleep over any of your misfortunes or eventually, your death.
    This is basically what the dream tells me.  That, and I've got to lay off the horror movies before bedtime.  Or maybe it's the salty snacks...?  I'll go with the first assessment, though.
    Hope you're all doing well.  Until next time... 
    - Capulet
  13. Capulet
    Hi, all.
    Visiting this site on a daily basis is a constant reminder of the amount of unjustified pain and suffering that sadly exists around us in today's world.  It's even harder to realize that some of the pain we see and hardships endured are so close to our own.  And let me be clear on this - this isn't to say that it's a bad site.  No, this isn't what I'm saying.  I mean to say that AS is just real, SO very real and the things I read daily are yet another reminder of just how much I understand that neither I nor anyone else SHOULD understand.  And while each day goes by and the next begins, I come back in hopes of seeing someone post some good news, something to celebrate, something GOOD and positive that is happening in their lives. 
    Being here (as well as having slightly too much time on my hands) also makes me think in depth about the small, yet complicated things that continue to burden my heart - and then I find myself fantasizing about what things would be like in my version of an ideal world.
    - In an ideal world,  I'd smile every day and mean it.  None of those fake smiles.  You know the ones.  The ones you put on just so no one can see you're starting to cry.  
    - In an ideal world, I wouldn't look at someone and first wonder how they'll end up hurting me in the long run.  I'd be willing to take more chances at both new and old new friendships, because I'd know nothing of betrayal.  Betrayal wears many, many faces and does its job in different ways - but the end result is the same.  
    - In an ideal world, I'd have allowed more people into my inner circle.  While I fortunately have my longtime partner by my side daily, there's still a need for a larger network of people to share your life, your triumphs, your joy, your disappointments, sorrows, etc.  Because, let's face it.  One person can't possibly be your everything.  In a perfect world, I'd have realized this a lot sooner and in turn, I'd be more willing to welcome within my circle anyone who wanted to be in it.  Alas, I've seen too much ugliness and it makes it VERY difficult to be without some skepticism.  In an alternate, fantasy universe, though, this hesitance wouldn't exist and I'd have plenty of room in my heart's blueprints to fit everyone and I'd spend less time purging those whom I cannot trust.
    - In an ideal world, family wouldn't be your last choice of people you want to be around.  You wouldn't DREAD upcoming birthdays or holidays like I have started to lately, simply because the demands of others have gotten to the point where the holiday spirit no longer is felt; instead, these 'wonderful' times  have become obligatory, mandatory, and no longer fun, thus resulting in a severe case of the bah-humbugs.  
    I should add this side note to my last 'ideal world' list item - since my move (and even before) I'm currently feeling that I need to take in my mother in small doses.  I might need bail money wired over sometime soon because I've had to walk away from her a number of times lately, during some of her recent outbursts.  At Christmas, at the kids' birthdays, at the Son's graduation party.  I'm TIRED of having to referee between her and my daughter, my fiancee, my son, the wasband...in another realm, I'd not have to do this at all and everyone would figure out their own shit!  
    And as much as she wants me to care about whether my daughter spends a week at her house, I instead leave it up to the daughter.  If SHE wants to go, then fine, I'm more than happy to make it happen.  But if the daughter says doesn't want to spend four days with Grandma being paraded around her friends at the senior community pool, then that should be enough of an answer for my mother.  However it is not and I end up getting the 'woe is me' text message.  I, being the nice person I am, don't have the heart to tell her that I honest to God don't give a shit about how disappointed she is that she can't entice a 12-year-old into staying with her for more than a day, if even that long.  Because the truth is - I don't think I could, either!  Five minutes with her and I'm annoyed.  Ten minutes and I'm ready to go home.  Any more than that, I end up in autopilot mode and while I still manage to count down the minutes until she (or I) leaves, I spend the remainder of her visits enjoying her less and less.  And this causes me to hate myself for feeling this way toward the woman who birthed me, who is in MANY ways responsible for my successes.  There's more to this, but I'll not discuss this right now.
    - In an ideal world, medical appointments do NOT lead to additional medical appointments.  There isn't much I can do about this one, but I sure could dream.  I have yet another appointment on Friday - the previously mentioned biopsy will take place.  And then I will likely STILL be stressing after that because now I've found out that the mammogram results showed some calcification in my right ta-ta that the doctor now wants to get a better look at.  So a 3D scan is scheduled for Tuesday.  And ALL of this started with a simple, routine, annual pap.
    - In an ideal world, we would have no concept of time, no deadlines, no limits.  Everything we need or want to do for ourselves should be attainable easily without the fear of not having enough time to do all of these things.  It'd also be nice if we could make those wonderful, special moments last longer if not forever, and bask in the euphoria we feel during those times.  Wouldn't it be great to be without fear of good things being sullied or tarnished by negativity??  Furthermore, wouldn't it be ideal also for negativity to simply cease to rear its ugly head?
    This perfect, ideal world simply doesn't exist, though.  As much as I want it to, I know it doesn't.  
    Instead, we're left with what we perceive to be ideal as opposed to what we have in front of us.  And more often than not, what we see first are the things that we don't particularly enjoy.  
    How can we change or modify things so that they look more like we want them to, instead of the blistering mess that we're used to?  What changes do we have to make within ourselves to make life a little bit more bearable?
    Anyone want to share some of their ideals?  It's healing, I promise.  Just post 'em below!!!
    Will also post some more in my own comments, if I can.  There are just so, SO many things I'd like to change in today's world and it appears that while listing them and discussing them, I've lost track of time and my bowling team is patiently awaiting my arrival.  
    So, until later, my friends.
    - Capulet
  14. Capulet
    It would appear that I have two sides.  Two faces.  There are currently two versions of me - and while it’s been suggested/confirmed that I do/have suffer(ed) from a personality disorder involving multiple other versions, these additional ‘parts’ have become silent and have grown otherwise dormant at the very least.  
    Now I am currently faced with just two opposing sides of myself that are currently attempting to form a coherent connection.  Or rather, to integrate, if that description even fits better. Furthermore, I am wondering if it's more of a one-sided effort on the part of the adult version of myself.  I'll explain this further, don't worry.  
    I've recently shared the information that I'm about to discuss in this entry...and I know in the past, I've shared other bits and pieces of what I recall about childhood, but my thought process is CONSTANT, (imagine the hamster in his wheel, it's always going and going and GOING) and I'm always searching for alternate perspectives on the same matter.  It's mostly so that I can understand on more levels, even if others have difficulty following.  I need to thoroughly investigate these things, and by writing/posting and re-reading what I've put down, this affords me the ability to both gain perspective from outside parties as well as to have it available to me to refer back to when I finally hit that brick wall that is repeatedly thrown into my path toward understanding myself as a whole.
    So, who am I? 
    When I say I am two-faced, I am not referring to the negative version of the term, which is most commonly described as being the type of person who would smile at you one moment and then stab you in the back as soon as it was turned.  
    This isn’t me.  I know that and you all, I’m hoping, know this too.  I am kind, I am caring, I am loyal and I am compassionate.  This, I know for a fact - I couldn’t intentionally hurt another person.  I have killed before but my victims are primarily of the eight-legged variety and it’s usually done by way of a shoe or rolled-up newspaper - even so, if it’s within my capacity to do so, I’d sooner scoop them up and toss the spiders outside.  But that’s pretty much the extent of the harm I could cause another living soul.  I’m more inclined to help someone else if I can - especially in situations where the pain they are enduring is a common, familiar one.
    My conflict is with myself, basically.  The much younger, child version of myself that is flat-out REFUSING to share with her older self what she knows/has been hiding for years.  
    You see, these are two equally as powerful forces, despite the age difference - the adult is stronger in the sense that she’s already gone through a fair amount of healing.  She understands the effects of sexual assault, whether it’s a constant thing or a one-time thing.  She has facts to support her memories, she has a deep, accurate understanding of the aftermath, of the emotional roller-coaster that we, as survivors, are forced to ride.  
    And then there is the child, who although she’s young and without the same level of understanding, she’s been working hard at being an impenetrable fortress of information; she’s managed to keep in place these enormous shields - and to keep them there for thirty-five years, give or take.  She’s effectively locked away and kept things from people around her, from her parents, from her teachers, from psychiatrists, from friends, and even from her adult version, the single person she could likely trust the most, but still isn’t willing provide the key to at the moment.  And for this great amount of time, she's stood her ground - doing whatever it was she needed to do in order to protect this information from whomever she felt the need to fortify it from.
    The right-now Capulet is whom you’re all familiar with.  This is who you see, who you talk to, whom some of you converse with regularly.  What you see is what you get.  Right-now Capulet was raped at the age of 17.  She can give you accurate details about that - for she remembers every single moment of that night where her world was shattered and everything came crashing down, every minute she laid on that cold, wooden floor, every second that took seemingly longer to pass than a mere second.  She can tell you how that floor smelled, what was on the computer screen, she can tell you of the rusty barbells that were also on the floor, just out of her reach, and how she’d briefly considered using one to fend off her attacker.  She can tell you how helpless, how defenseless she felt when she couldn't.  And furthermore, she can tell you how this single event has absolutely everything to do with the person she’s become, nearly 22 years later.  She is still more comfortable conversing online than she is in an in-person social setting, but is open to working on learning how to get through these hurdles in the near future.  A lot of right-now Capulet's struggles are a culmination of being hearing impaired (especially the socially awkwardness) and having been sexually assaulted as a teenager, then dealing with a number of abusive situations on top of this - it all adds up.  
    And then we’ve got the small child Capulet who, while she’s done a VERY good job of blocking out details that she knows are true, she’s had moments of weakness - evident only because the adult version has managed to obtain tiny little snippets and fragments that somehow seeped through these shields - perhaps they’re not untraversable as we originally thought they were.  Or perhaps, throughout the years, they have weakened some or have otherwise lost some of its original strength, comparable to expired medicine.  Either way, right-now Capulet is aware and further convinced of there being something of importance behind these shields.  She knows it's likely ugly and thus the reason for these shields being there in the first place.  Yet, she struggles with an insatiable need to know the truth, no matter how grisly it is and how damaging this information has the potential to be.  
    Why, though?  Aren't I doing well enough without these added bits and pieces to my already overflowing plate?
    I'll attempt to explain this before wrapping up this entry - been working on it for HOURS, already - my brain hurts.  Thinking I'll go to Dunkin' for an iced latte.  Or maybe not because it's raining and I don't desire to leave my house this morning.  Either way, I'm rewarding myself with something sweet, something sugary, once I've posted this.  I fucking deserve it, don't I?
    But anyway, here goes.  I think that these little fragments - these little memory snippets that I can't make sense of right now, are pointing to something that although I'm without evidence, I can't completely ignore, either.  Just as I couldn't overlook these signs if I saw them in someone else, particularly a child.  These snippets/fragmented pieces that I AM privy to, are strong ones.  Kind of while piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, you have to complete the outside border, first.  I would say I have a fair amount of that border in place, but nothing in the middle.  It's a whole lot of emptiness.  Each of these broken memories I possess is a a piece here, a piece in the other corner over there, a piece in the middle of the bottom...etc.  While they're different pieces in different locations, they're all a part of whatever the finished picture turns out to be.  So right-now Capulet is sitting at the table, trying to get this puzzle completed.  Small-child Capulet is not supplying the missing pieces, and although I've tried bribing her with the things I KNOW she loves, I've gotten nowhere in the acquisition of said pieces.  Instead, it's 'HELLO, brick wall!'  This kid has major skills, let me tell you.  I've been at this puzzle for a long time, now, and have gotten nowhere.
    Another thing I struggle with that is likely contributing to my desire to get to the bottom of it all - I also want to know...(no, I NEED to know) - if anything having occurred in my childhood led to what I'd later on endure as a teenager - what kind of shaping/forming/grooming took place at such a young age?  What happened to small-child Capulet that caused her to lock up and hold onto the key for a lifetime afterwards?
    And all of this is likely stuff that a therapist would get giddy over and likely see an opportunity for some major dollar signs.  “Come to my office and we'll figure it out, we'll get some answers!” I’m sure they’d say in response to this blog, should they come across it.  And I've actually just pictured the face of my old T...followed by a brief image of her clapping her hands.  She used to clap in order to get my attention as a child.  I remember not liking to look at her sometimes, and so she'd 'clap' or gently rap on the tabletop to get my attention so that she could speak to me.
    But sadly, I’m not in a comfortable enough financial situation to seek out a GOOD therapist.  I've had the same aforementioned therapist twice.  She met the small child version of me when I was approximately eight years old, as well as the adult version when I sought her out about ten years ago and I was going through a divorce.  Both times, she's failed.  I likely wouldn't have considered going to see her ten years ago, knowing she wasn't successful in breaching small child's walls, but I'd hoped that she had some memory or input that she could share with the adult version.  She either did know some things that she wasn't comfortable sharing right away and maybe wanted me to work up to remembering at a slower pace rather than just dump all of this information on my already mounting reasons for concern, (and for this reason, I agreed to continued weekly sessions) OR she truly knew nothing - either way, I had some issues stemming from the dissolution of my marriage that she WAS in a small way, helpful with.  But for these deeper, more pressing issues, she was proven ineffective and not helpful and I felt as if I was wasting money.  And so, I stopped visiting her altogether.  I still do have her email address and I've considered sharing some of my recent writings with her - just in case she does know something - but then again, maybe it's best that I not do so.  She's one of those who would ask me to come in for a session and I don't feel I should have to pay for this information.  
    And now, here I am.  With the same concerns.  Minus the marital problems - my current relationship is healthy, secure and wonderful - no complaints there.  
    As far as I’m concerned, I AM my own therapist.  Anything we’d do in a T’s office, I’m perfectly capable of doing on my own.  I talk, sometimes too much.  I write.  Also too much at times.  I think.  If it helps me, who's to say that's a bad thing?  I spend entirely too much time thinking, I believe that too, has been confirmed.  However, none of these are unhealthy ways of coping.  They're just what works for me.
    I also want it to be known that I am NOT in crisis.  All this is just stuff that until recently, I’ve kept in the furthest confines, the deepest corners of my mental health closet - and I've recently come to open up this closet and begin searching for deeper meanings to these two sides...one side who wants to know everything and the other who wants to keep things suppressed and hidden.  
    How do you get these two sides to work together?  Is there some way to reach a compromise?  What does small-child Capulet need, and from whom if not from the older, more knowledgeable version of herself??
    I'm not sure anyone knows the answer to this, either.
    And so, I'm not sure who is going to win this ongoing tug-of-war battle.  The adult will pull and pull, and ultimately grow weary and tired.  Then the small child, who's got a comparable amount of strength, will pull back, by way of solidifying these shields until SHE'S tired or otherwise feels safe.  This game may go on for several more years.  Possibly for the rest of my life.
    While it's way easy to look up cheat codes for some of the console games I play, this isn't something I can search for a shortcut on, there are no guides that I can follow, no secret twists and turns or jumps that will catapult me onto the other side of those shields.  I'm stuck on this level and I'm not seeing a way to get through it.
    And for that reason, I feel defeated.
    And now, I'm going for that coffee, even if I make a cup in the kitchen. Not feeling Dunkin'. 
    - Capulet
  15. Capulet
    ***Please skip this if you're generally uncomfortable with talk of periods, bleeding, medical procedures involving the female reproductive system.  I'm trying to make this mild and non-triggering but you just never know.  So proceed with caution!***
    Okay, guys, I'm nervous.  
    Ain't gonna lie, I'm seriously trying to swallow the lump in the back of my throat, with my new doctor's name on it.  If the roles were reversed, I'd probably be the one saying, "it'll be all right, it's gonna be uncomfortable for a few minutes, but then it'll be over with...your health is more important than being nervous or scared for a little while..."  But when it comes to applying these pearls of wisdom to myself, it's an entirely different ball game.
    I don't want to get into extreme detail about my female woes; some of these details are just plain disgusting, so in summary - when I have a regular period, it's not pretty.  Not that monthly menses ever is, but mine are absolutely ridiculous.  And since having my children, they seemingly became worse.  And so when my daughter was young, I consulted with a local 'vagician' (we may thank my darling daughter for this alternate, creative term for a gynecologist - it's seemingly stuck and I now refer to these doctors as 'vagicians' only) and she put me on birth control.  Obviously, my reasons for being on BC is NOT to prevent pregnancy, as for the last ten years, I've had relations with only a female and I'm not worried about conceiving.  My reasons for starting the pill was to regulate/control monthly periods.  And for the last several years (I want to say five or six years) the pill I was taking daily was working BEAUTIFULLY.  I wasn't HAVING a period.  I'd take this DELIGHTFUL little white pill every day and I spent more on the prescription than I did on Tampax.  And my GOD, it was the best, BEST thing, EVER... 
    But I ran into a birth-control snafu last year.  Almost exactly a year ago, in fact, right smack in the middle of my move from New York to Pennsylvania.  In the midst of the move, I forgot to take a pill.  It might have happened twice.  This wouldn't be the first time I've forgotten to take a pill, but it was the most unforgiving, indeed.  I tried to get back on track, but since messing up once or twice, I began to experience spotting.  This wasn't the once a week kind of spotting - this was more like every single fucking DAY kind of spotting.  It increased with activity, too.  Then, when I thought it had stopped, it would start again within a day or two.  I couldn't catch a break...this went on for literally months.  And to top it off, I wasn't near my regular vagician anymore.  And my insurance was no longer the same, and we were in the process of changing everything over....and I didn't have a CLUE where to go in my new surroundings.  I kept telling myself - it'll correct itself...just give it time...
    When it continued, I stopped taking the pills, thinking that maybe my body needed a 'reset.'  I had enough for the next six months, and so I threw away the "pill wheel" I was working on at the moment and planned to start again at the start of my next period two months ahead - I'd allow my body to have a normal (abnormal) cycle, then I'd start taking the BC the following month.  Hopefully I'd get things 'fixed.'
    My spotting stopped.  EVERYTHING stopped.  
    I got a regular period a month later and was reminded once again, WHY I became so reliant on these BC pills.  Still, knowing that I'd go back to my pill-taking regimen that I knew would eventually control it, I endured it.  I loathed every minute of it, I envisioned throwing my uterus, my cervix, my fallopian tubes, everything involved in the female reproductive system, out the window - what the hell did I need 'em for, anyway????  I'm almost 40, I'm DONE with baby making.  I don't need my eggs anymore. I could sell them.  I'd donate them if I could.  But I certainly don't need one released every month anymore, there's NO way they're going to ever be fertilized.  So I grumpily went through that time of month, every single day swearing up and down every time I went to the bathroom to remove and replace a saturated tampon.  The first couple days of a period (while not on BC) are usually crampy in general - days 2-4 are the heaviest and then it will taper off on the fourth or fifth day.  Usually.  
    The following month came along.  I started the pills again on day one.  Of course, I had another ridiculous period but this was to be expected.  It lasted the usual 4-5 days.  And now because my body had to become re-acquainted with these pills, the spotting was back.  But upon looking up the side effects of this medication, I knew to expect that, especially for the first few weeks.
    But then the weeks became months.  I'd been waiting patiently for my body to 'take' to the pills again, I hadn't forgotten to take any, I'd been taking them every morning.  Yet, the spotting never stopped.  And, again, with increased physical activity, came increased spotting.  Again, I felt that I couldn't catch a break.  My uterus hated me and I didn't know why.  My J had been saying for weeks already, "I think it's time to get checked out." I'd been saying, "yeah, it'll correct itself, that's what it says online!"  But deep down, I knew it probably wouldn't, it would have already if it was ever going to.
    So, this prompted my visit to the vagician two Mondays ago.  J made me the appointment and although I didn't want to go, I begrudgingly went.  Although I understand that at this point, something had to give.  Prior to visiting this new doctor, I once again stopped taking the pills and discarded whatever was left in that month's supply - since I knew that stopping was likely the only way to stop the spotting.  And it did.  Leads me to believe that the pills simply aren't working for me anymore.  Or something else is going on with me that is causing these pills to be obsolete.
    The doctor gave me my (two years' overdue) pap, did the breast exam...we then discussed the pills I'd been taking and he suggested the depo shot - once every three months...won't have to remember to take any pills, I will just have to remember to go in every three months for a new shot.  Which I'll gladly do if it helps manage the monthly discomfort.  
    "I'd also like to send you for bloodwork."  He said, "Just to make sure your hormone levels are okay and if the shot is indeed the best option for you."
    "Sure."  (Now I'm NOT good at bloodwork in general - that's another blog for another day - but in short, needles being anywhere in my inner elbow makes me panic, my BP to spike and overall, I lose my shit...I instead direct the phlebotomist to the back of my hand where my level of anxiety over bloodwork is usually lessened - and if they can, they'll oblige.)
    "And I'd also like to schedule a mammogram..."  I knew this was coming.  Bring on the 40's, bring on the obligatory booby-squishies every year.  This isn't as invasive as having paps, though, on a scale of 1-10, ten being the most uncomfortable, I'd put annual mammos at number four and paps at a nine.  
    "Yep."  I've got a cousin who DIED at age 41 due to breast cancer.  So this is something I KNOW I'm not going to fuck around with.  So the mammogram appointment wasn't as concerning as what he'd want next.
    "Okay, and then I'd like a trans-vaginal ultrasound...to check for fibroids."
    Hooooold the phone...what?? I must have looked at him funny because he further explained that in order to confirm that the depo shots were the best form of BC, he had to run some tests and make sure that my abnormal periods (when I had them) were not being caused by any other condition.  I guess that made sense.
    I left the office.  Went straight to the lab, got my blood drawn from the back of my hand, as requested.  Check!!!  
    Then the radiology building was across the way - dropped in over there, made appointments for the ultrasound and the mammogram for later on that week.  Check!  
    I went home feeling, gee, I accomplished a lot in one day - it was a nice feeling.  For a little while.  I then spent the next few days dreading the ultrasound and wanting it over with.  The ultrasound and mammogram were scheduled as back-to-back appointments and so they too would be dealt with in one combined visit.  I agonized over the ultrasound more, naturally, mostly because of the location of this particular test, as well as it being an internal exam to boot.
    Surprisingly, when the day came for the mammogram and ultrasound, I would discover that although the ultrasound is indeed a bit invasive, it was NOT as uncomfortable as the pap I'd had in the doctor's office.  The technician was a female.  She gave me a sheet to cover myself with and treated me with professionalism, respect and considering the nature of the test she was about to perform, her demeanor was overall calming.  I needed this.  I'd put the Ultrasound at a six or seven, based on this.
    Went home proud of myself for having done everything asked of me at this point.  All done!!!!!  And I'd managed to deal with it all, process it all, as well as bring myself to these appointments without having to be dragged - may not seem as big an accomplishment to most, but for me, it's big.  I've been told I need to follow up with my primary care doctor because my BP was found to be 'elevated' (gee, I wonder why) and I'm also due for a regular wellness check with a new doctor - one that I do have as appointed by insurance company, but also one I've not met yet.  
    Later, though.  This isn't a priority right now.  It SHOULD be, yes, but it's not.  A dentist visit is also on the horizon - and the same situation applies - I don't have one of those, either!  I'm pretty sure I'm going to get scolded for the shape my teeth are in and the fact that I've not had a cleaning in five years.  I don't do very well with the dentist, either but I'm guessing this is common among survivors and non-survivors alone.  It's something I'll work on, eventually, I guess....but the best way for me to deal with these medical things is one at a time.  Piece by piece.  Little by little.
    And apparently, the vagician is not finished with me, yet.  
    He called on the same day I had my ultrasound...several hours later, in fact.  J spoke to him on the phone, there was a lot of 'okay, so when can she come in for that?' as well as other things that ultimately meant to me that we weren't as finished as I thought I was.  J hung up and then told me that he had called to say that the results didn't show any existing conditions (which is a good thing) but he still would like to determine why I have abnormal periods and rule out endometriosis as well as a couple other things that I really didn't care enough to ask for clarification on.  I'm stuck on what he said first - he now wants to do a biopsy/DNC before I get my next period as a final test prior to prescribing the depo shot, which would need to be administered on the day my next menses begins.  I'd likely feel some period-like cramps and some discomfort for a few days after the procedure, but he'd be able to run some further tests...
    ...a biopsy.  I don't even like THAT word.  A sample..??  Fine.  A specimen?  Ehhh, that's fine too.  A BIOPSY???  Are you TRYING to give me a heart attack or is that a natural reaction to the word for everyone else too??
    "Oh, hell, no," was the first thing I said when J finished relaying the message to me.
    J's saying she'll go with me and hold my hand through this but even so...what?  Why can't you just go by what you're seeing in the bloodwork, the ultrasound and just give me the stupid shots????  I know what a DNC is and I don't want that shit, I don't want to relinquish a piece of my uterine lining, my cervix, I want it all to stay where it is and where the good Lord intended for it all to be.  I did the bloodwork they asked for...that came back fine.  I did the mammogram, which although uncomfortable, I knew was necessary.  And then I did the trans-vaginal ultrasound which came back showing nothing concerning.  Why can't we leave me alone, now????   
    So while I went to the first appointment on my own and to the lab on my own and finally to the mammogram and ultrasound on my own, this is increasingly becoming an appointment I have to be dragged to.  And J is willing to do that, for she's more worried about this shit than I am.  The appointment is currently set for next Tuesday, but we realized that J has to work on next Tuesday and likely wouldn't be able to make sure I show up at the doctor's office to have this procedure done.  She knows as well as I do that I'm more likely to say, 'screw it...I'm not coming."  And so she asked me last night for the doctor's phone number - she would reschedule for three days later - for Friday next week, since that's her day off.  And she'd go with me and we'd go to lunch afterwards.  It all sounds great but I'm stuck on what the procedure entails, I can't see past that right now.
    So after I moaned and groaned about all of the above for a half-an-hour last night, J eventually said: "Sometimes we just have to put on our big-girl panties and go do what we need to do..."
    Me, in the middle of my meltdown:   "But how am I gonna put them on if he keeps asking me to take them OFF?"
    I got the "only you" head shake, followed by the much-needed laugh.
    Yeah, only me.
    For now, I'm trying not to agonize over this.  I seriously would like for one appointment to STAY one appointment.  None of this, 'let's get some labs' or 'let's check this out' or 'let's take a look at that' shit.  If it's not broken, don't fix it.  That's always been my motto, and deep down, I DO know that things break for unseen reasons and they have to be 'investigated.'
    Never said I liked it, though.  
    And if this is all a preview of what life after 40 looks like, I've got some adjustments to make when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to medical stuff.
    Still nervous.  Still more scared than I'll ever be able to verbally admit to anyone.  But I'm also working on being honest with myself with what I'm feeling, as well as with others who ask me what's going through my mind at any given time, rather than shrug it off and say 'nothing.'  And writing these things down is the most effective means of doing that...so thank you in advance if you've made it this far.
    In closing, I hope that my American friends have a safe, happy 4th of July!!!  I'll be using the holiday as a distraction from the events that will likely take place next week - it's all I can do right now.  
    - Capulet
  16. Capulet
    It’s time to smile.  I know a lot of things you’ve seen from me have been deeper, more serious stuff, so here’s something light for today.
    I have a funny story for you guys to enjoy.
    This morning, J and I were in a dead sleep.  She was planning to be up early-ish this morning for a work thing, and I was also planning to be up so that I could get a head start on drinking a 32-oz bottle of water prior to having an ultrasound done at 11.  Alarm was set for 8am.  
    That wasn’t what woke us, though.
    Okay, so, there we are - we’re sleeping.  Snoring, perhaps.  Either way, we were OUT.  And, in my sleep, I feel my back being pushed.  I hear nothing, of course.  I open my eyes a bit and see that sunlight has begun to seep into the bedroom through the blinds.
    And I smell…something.  Doesn’t smell bad, but it’s not something I’m used to smelling first thing in the morning.  It was NOT the unmistakeable scent of freshly brewed coffee but it wasn’t entirely unpleasant, either.  It was just plain unidentifiable given having just woke up.
    I turn over (major belly sleeper here) and there is my daughter, with this cheshire cat grin.  She’s holding a plate overflowing with scrambled eggs.  Ahhh.  Brain and nose made a connection right about there.
    “I made you guys breakfast!” She’s proud of herself.  “I texted you to tell you.”
    “Huh?  What did you do?”  I jumped up out of bed. The first thoughts that ran through my mind were 1) What the hell time is it?? 2) Are we dreaming?  And 3) Considering the daughter NEVER cooks unsupervised, what does my KITCHEN look like right now?  
    I checked my phone for the time.  It read “5:49am.”  Additionally, there was a text message from the daughter, sent 10 minutes earlier, letting me know that she was making us breakfast.  J also got a text.  However, neither of us was awake to receive these texts.  And if you already know what my sleep habits are, you know as well as I do that 6am is still considered to be the MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT for me.
    I groaned.  I’d JUST laid down at around 2:30am.  Not blaming the daughter for my lack of sleep...I know that's entirely on me...but now I was posed with another question.
    “Did YOU even go to sleep at all last night?”  
    I’d gone to say good night to her around 2am.  She’d been face-timing with one of her school friends and I’d told her THEN to go to sleep.  She waved me off, saying she would.  But as it is summer vacation, I am not as strict about when she needs to go to bed.  And so, I left her in her room and turned in….but, now, I’m thinking I should be a little more adamant on when her bedtime is - a little later in the summer, but still no later than eleven or twelve, the absolute latest.  This staying up all night shit - that’s MY thing.  Out of all the things I could ever inspire my child to do, I wouldn’t want that to be one of them.
    “Nope!” She was a little too cheery.  And again, she’s holding up this plate of food she’d just prepared.
    “Oh, hell, no!” I said.  I might have been prepared to unleash a string of obscenities along the lines of “You need to go to SLEEP when I tell you to go to sleep!  You’re not supposed to be sitting up all night! (I know, I know, pot calling the kettle black!) What the fuck were you thinking, coming upstairs at this hour and cooking without help!?  What if something had happened in the kitchen, what if you’d cut or burned yourself?…”  And a whole bunch of other things that sleep deprivation would have certainly inspired.
    But, instead, I quickly bit every corner of my tongue and stopped myself.  
    Ya see, she’s standing there holding the plate of (seven!) eggs.  Smiling.  She’s proud of herself.  And, if I’ve learned anything about parenthood…it’s as follows.
    When your child brings you something they hand-drawn or hand-made, you hang it up or display it, even if it looks like the equivalent of a two-year-old’s scribblings or something made with cracked, drying Play-Doh.  If your child is ACTUALLY two, you’re to tell them it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen and you think it belongs on display in a museum.
    When your child wrecks something accidentally, you stifle any and all of your feelings of sadness, anger, or that are otherwise unfavorable, and tell them with a smile so forced that it looks real, that it’s okay - it wasn’t as important to you and can be replaced.  Even if it was passed down several generations and is truly lost.  Kids are generally destructive and chances are it’s your own damn fault for leaving whatever it was within the kid’s reach in the first place.
    And when your child makes you seven scrambled eggs at 5:45am, you get up and eat it.  Even if you’re not hungry.  Even if you’re slightly annoyed at the hour.  Even if your kid makes you something that closely resembles animal vomit, you eat it and hope it tastes a hell of a lot better than it looks…you also hope they didn’t use anything that was on its way to spoiling because kids aren’t known to check the expiration date on the refrigerator contents when they’re in the mood to be creative.
    And so, while J stifled her laughter into her pillow, I ate the eggs, trying to hide my “WTF” face in between forkfuls.  J had a few bites, too.  Several hours later, I’m happy to report that the eggs stayed down, they were actually cooked very well and that although this spontaneous meal resulted in us being super-tired today, it made a pre-teen genuinely happy.  
    She went to bed after we ate (at about six-thirty in the morning, she was apparently wide awake all night long but still overtired enough to drift off to sleep as soon as breakfast was served) and I first surveyed the kitchen to make sure nothing was on fire before putting the milk she’d left out on the counter away and then attempting to try and go back to sleep.  
    However, we were unable to do so and our day started at 7am.  
    And so, today, I’m tired.  We both are, actually.
    Tonight, the daughter goes to bed at 11.  I have already informed her of this.  Additionally, I told her that as much as we appreciated breakfast this morning (we otherwise would likely NOT have eaten anything at all before work/appointments) and as much as we LOVED that she wanted to surprise us, to please make 8am the earliest time breakfast is served.  We are not morning people in this house.  
    On that note, I also gotta say that the kid who woke us up this morning is the same kid who REFUSES to wake up when she has to get ready for school.  What the hell is that?  I literally wake her for school at 6:10, which is LATER than the time she woke us this morning.  
    I usually start by walking into her room (with shoes on, of course, because if I’m not careful, I end up stepping on whatever she leaves on the floor the night before) and I’ll start pulling out and rearranging the pillows from underneath her head to the back of the bed.  I pull down the blanket, thinking the fan being on will give her a chill and she’ll get up.  Nope.  She’ll instead pull the blanket back up.  I’ll holler her name in 20-second intervals, followed by, “GET UP!” or “If you’re not up in five seconds, you’re losing your iPad.”  Or “Okay, iPad belongs to me, now.  Wanna lose your phone?  Get UP!”
    I’m not sure if it’s the frantic “YOU HAVE TEN MINUTES TO GET DRESSED, BRUSH YOUR HAIR AND GET OUT THE DOOR!” that does it, but she’s not missed her bus ONCE this past school year.
    Yet, when I can get a few hours of extra sleep, she’s waking me up at 5:45 in the morning with scrambled eggs.

    Hope everyone's having a blessed day.
    Best wishes.
    - Capulet
  17. Capulet
    Greetings friends, 
    Here's hoping that June is wrapping up nicely for you all!  
    It has been an absolutely insane month between trying to get the back yard finished, my son's high school graduation, the end of the school year for all students, having yet another handyman/contractor show up to install a transfer switch for our new generator (our VERY early Christmas present from Oompa) as well as a ceiling fan in our family room so that we don't melt this summer.  And I also got the ball rolling (with J's help) on making my first doctor's appointment in the state of Pennsylvania.  
    Side note: I'm TERRIBLE with doctors, guys.  TERRIBLE.  I've been sick a small handful of times since we moved here eleven months ago.  I've changed insurances two times but STILL have not gone to a single physician, primary care or otherwise.  ('otherwise' is the reason for tomorrow's 10am appointment)  I don't know if this is the norm for everyone.  Yes, I am well aware that NO one likes the doctor or going to visit but I sadly admit that in the past several years, I've gone out of my way to avoid anyone with "M.D." after their names.  Dentists, too.  While my health is slowly improving due to diet and lifestyle changes that I've initiated without a doctor's recommendation, I've got other, separate issues that I've been ignoring because they're not an emergency and I'm not experiencing any discomfort that I can't live with.
    This won't do, though - I'm smart enough to know and realize that this is by no means a permanent solution.  Over the past several months, I've had some uncomfortable and unfavorable side effects to the birth control medications I'd been taking for years, now - so it's time for a GYN exam/re-evaluation of whether or not this medication is still good for me or it's time to find something else.  This will require a physical examination, I'm sure, as well as a breast exam, a pelvic...and to top all that off, this is a NEW doctor that I've never seen before, and even better (not really) - it's a male doctor.
    Honestly, aside from not being able to live with one, I have nothing against men.  There are some fine, upstanding men in my life that I love very much.  However, from a medical perspective, I don't care if my dentist is a male. I don't even care if my PCP is a male.  I don't care if I go to the ER with a mysterious onset of symptoms, chances are you'll get whoever's able to handle your needs first.  But if someone's going to be poking around in the nether regions, it'd damn well BETTER be a female!  However, I'm not getting my way this time around.  The situation I'm having right now with irregular spotting/bleeding needs to be handled NOW (I've had enough) and the female doctor in the office is not available until August.  And so I'll suck it up and go visit the male doctor, but will INSIST upon having a female nurse present during the exam.  There usually is one, though, so this helps me not to lose my shit over this and focus more on resolving this medication issue and for future appointments, I can always switch to the female as she'll be available for the next visit.
    Anyway - let's move on.  (chorus:  "Yes, please!")
    So...recently, I've had some things come up that have made me question how I come across to others.  It's also made me question myself, in some ways.  I don't blame myself for the REASONS I am who I am, but I wonder if, along the way, I should have made more of an effort to be a different TYPE of person, overall.  A different version of me that others see.
    Yes, I know....you all have your "HUH?" faces on right about now?
    As I attempt to explain this, I don't want to get into extremes because in order to do so, I'd have to share personal background information about certain family members that I don't feel that should be put out there by me.  So I will do the best I can whilst omitting incriminating details.  
    There was a misunderstanding about three weeks ago, between myself and a few of my in-laws.  
    I WILL say that two of these in-laws (J's parents) are NOT supportive nor do they approve of my long-lived relationship with J, but it is for religious reasons - as a person, they like me, or so they say...but as J's partner/lover, they do not.  I have repeatedly felt that they hold J's decision to move away from them against me  - for I, at this point, represent to them her choice to leave her family behind in pursuit of love as well as a better life for herself.  I often wonder if this sits in the back of their head, even though J made this decision on her own...every time they see me, are they consumed with a level of hidden animosity toward me and this prevents them from truly liking me?  Whether they do like me as a person is true or not, I really don't care at this point, but let's be real - who wants to be disliked or given the feeling that they're not accepted in EVERY aspect?  I certainly don't, and I don't know if this stems from an early desire to people-please but deep down, the two-facedness of J's parents bothers me a GREAT deal and it has for years.  
    Regardless, they are her parents and I respectfully keep a distance whenever they are around or we go visit them.  I do not believe in their religion, but know that it truly makes them uncomfortable to see me slide a hand around J's waist or hold her hand, or peck her on the lips as I walk by...and so whenever in their company, I find it more effective to just sit across a room or excuse myself entirely so that they can feel comfortable visiting with their daughter without me around.  It's not as if they attempt to engage me in conversation, either - when they do, it's simply small talk.  They have made absolutely NO efforts to get to know me on a deeper level - I don't think they even know J as well as they would like to think - so I don't take it personally. I am comfortable just keeping that rift in place; although we are polite to one another and we engage in simple, meaningless chit-chat and kiss hello and goodbye, there is always going to be that unspoken understanding between her parents and I.  It's unfortunate that it has to be this way, but it's something I simply don't know how to fix nor do I know if its within my capability to do so seeing as they're not only drinking the Kool-Aid, they're also SWIMMING in it.
    Now, one of J's sisters is another story.  She has always been an ally to us, a very strong supporter of our relationship.  She's always been the OPPOSITE of their parents.  And before I came along, she was J's 'person.'  J felt comfortable going to this sister for emotional support, for advice, for whatever at all she needed.  And resultedly, they became EXTREMELY close.  She, too, misses J a great deal, and even though she's been living away from the rest of her family for nine years, will sometimes comment on how she wishes that we lived closer to all of them - I'm sure J wouldn't mind cutting the trip back home by a few hours, but for me, that'd be a HUGE no-no based on the cold shoulder I'm used to receiving from the parents.  And they currently live WITH her sister, so lately, I've felt myself detaching even MORE and allowing J to go visit them all (her parents and sister) and I'd stay home so that she would not have to hear me moan and groan about how uncomfortable I am and how much I want to go home - this usually starts about ten to fifteen minutes after we arrive.   It's not fair to J to have to feel pressured or rushed while visiting her family, and so it's just better this way - it's better for me to stay behind so that she feels less pressure, less tension when she's in their company.
    I'm not sure if this is doing us any favors in the end, though.
    Here's a short summary of what happened.  Recently, J underwent a medical procedure (no further details needed here other than that) - and there was a miscommunication between J and her family and somehow, her sister's claws came out and she lashed out at me because she felt that I wasn't handling the situation in a manner that was acceptable to her.  She said some horrible things to me through Facebook messaging and came at me with some OTHER things that were nothing less than surprising to hear, coming from someone I thought was on our side.  I'm not sure where THOSE comments came from, but basically, I'm wondering if her sister has also been two-faced all along...because yes, while a lot of things are said in anger that aren't necessarily true, there's always an element, no matter how small, of truth to it.  People don't say things that they don't truly believe in the smallest way, so now I'm left with a lot of underlying, leftover stray, random thoughts that are strengthening this rift that was put into place by her parents.  
    At the time when J's sister got nasty with me, I responded in kind.  Actually, I wasn't nasty, nor was I rude - but I WAS firm and I defended myself - I simply told her MY perspective on the whole thing and she seemingly backed off - she ended her part of the conversation with "I'm sorry, I just love my sister so much and if I can't be there, I expect YOU to be."  It was something along those lines, something indicative of her belief that I would actually allow the love of my life to be without ANYTHING that she needed as she underwent this treatment.  And so, I shot back, "I've been loving and taking care of your sister for the last ten years, almost.  I'm not stopping now."
    And it ended there...no resolution, no making nice, just a dropped conversation.  I was SEETHING, though.  I mean...what the fuck!?  Never in my life have I mistreated someone, especially someone I've been in a relationship with.  I've never cheated on a partner - having been repeatedly cheated on by the wasband, other partners in the past, I'd never dare to do that to someone I loved.  I've never been abusive nor have I raised my hand to another person, except in dreams...and many of you will remember that I have trouble doing that even in my dreams.  Sure, J and I have got our occasional moments where we bicker but it's NEVER been a full-on fight.  We are soul mates in every sense of the word...I've never done a thing to deserve what was said to me, and I truly felt blindsided - I think that's really the gist of why I felt so frazzled afterwards.   
    J had her medical procedure done, which lasted one week. During that week, I had many, MANY conversations with her.  I really didn't want to share what was said to me by her sister/family before she had the procedure done as not to add any stress to her already overflowing plate, but she knew something was bothering me before the procedure and all plans to wait on discussing it went out the window.  Honestly, it would have likely made things worse if we had saved these conversations for later.  They couldn't be delayed without mounting anxiety in the meantime...and so I shared with her the messages, to include my responses.  I was completely honest with her about everything that was said, as well as everything I was feeling.  Her sister had made a lot of comments that had led me to believe that she'd been misunderstanding J for a long time, as well - I simply couldn't understand where some of these horrible things CAME from!
    Side note - J's parents and sister were invited to the Son's graduation party to be held at our house.  Prior to this 'falling out,' they were planning to come.  After all was said and hurt feelings and shit being slung from every corner, I wasn't sure they'd still come but they did tell J that they were still attending.  Now, her parents, I knew from before, would never change.  We're still going to have those uncomfortable, awkward moments - because that's what we've established at this point.  It is what it is with them.  
    But her sister was also coming and SHE's the one I am having the most issue with at the moment.  My son's party was going to be the first time I'd seen or heard from her sister since this incident, and nothing had been resolved nor any apologies made, nor any attempts made to set things right.  I wasn't approaching her - because I feel I did my part and what she did, she did unnecessarily and it was completely uncalled for.  
    And so J had a conversation with her sister on the morning of the party.  They called to let J know that they were on the road and asked if we'd like to meet them fro breakfast.  I declined because I still had a lot of setting up to do and couldn't get away, but J got dressed and went to go meet them.  She was also tasked with speaking with her sister beforehand and letting her know that this was NOT the time for continued awkwardness or an argument - it was my Son's graduation celebration and I wasn't going to be made to feel uncomfortable or angry by anyone.  This was a day to marvel in the Son's accomplishments, enjoy the company of the people who came to share in it - there was much to be discussed but now wasn't the time nor place.
    When J's sister arrived, she came in first, ahead of J and their parents.  Without a word, she took my hand and brought me into the bedroom.  There, she apologized for what she said to me and explained that a lot of her behavior stems from her feelings of helplessness - being four hours' drive away from J was taking a toll.  When J called to let them know that she had to get the procedure done, she had been upset and as a result, her sister's protective side took over - she didn't understand the full picture and so she prematurely lashed out, thinking I wasn't upholding my end of what needed to be done.  I told her I, too, was sorry - not for what I said to defend myself, but if I'd somehow given her the impression that I was in any way abandoning J's needs or coming across as being selfish because that indeed is not the person I am.  And I also said that while I expected that sort of comment to come from their MOTHER, it was extremely hurtful to even think she'd (her sister) think that low of me after knowing me for nine and a half years.  Her sister looked me in the eyes and told me that I, too, was her sister.  She loved me, she lost her mind momentarily and her claws would have come out for me too, if there ever were a situation where I needed defending.  (And I think this is another 'issue' that needs addressing at a later time - J is a grown woman and can certainly defend herself if she felt the need to do so...and from our talks on this matter, J has never felt the need to do so with me - it looks more to be an internal issue that her sister is having...for the duty of being J's 'person' is no longer hers - perhaps she's having trouble with that and it has also caused her to lash out on me - because I didn't 'do' things the way she would have, etc...)
    J's sister ended this five-minute conversation apologizing once again and then saying that she would like for us to become closer.  She'd like for us to talk once per week, through text or through FB.  She'd like for us to truly get to know one another, beyond the hellos, goodbyes and small talk - which admittedly while I am more comfortable being affectionate toward J when her sister is around than her parents, I STILL don't feel I quite fit in there, either.  What happened has certainly driven that wedge further, but we made 'nice' for the moment, which is what I needed to happen in order to start moving forward.  
    There is still some work and reparations to be done/made as far as this relationship I have with J's sister, but it's made me think about OTHER relationships that exist in my life.  Relationships with family members, with my parents, with my sisters, with my children, with the wasband, with friends, with people I've met here.  The list goes on.  
    A little statistic for those factoid-lovers out there - on average, us humans live for 78.3 years. Most of us remember people we meet after age 5.  So, let's assume we interact with 3 new people daily in cities, 365 days in a year plus leap yeas days is 365.24. In total it will be (78.3 – 5) x 3 x 365.24 = 80,000 people we interact with in a lifetime.  Let's also assume that at least 20% of these people are ones whose names we know, who we remember beyond that first meeting.  That still comes out to be a pretty big number of people.
    It's made me think about myself a lot, too.  About the walls I put up...(I think the POTUS would be proud.)
    These walls have been up for a long, long time, I'm guessing.  I have such a hard time allowing people through...I am picturing this as I type...there's a HUGE wall, possibly two or three football fields' width, with a single door somewhere in the middle.  Some people have made me aware that they've been running into, driving into, attempting to jump over it, even trying to dig underneath it...but can't seem to get through that tiny little doorway enough to say that they TRULY know me.  And, you know...this isn't their fault - it's the way I've intended for it to be - all the while I've had the key and means to allow people in.  
    Right now, after the events that have transpired recently, the only one who is behind this wall and has one hundred percent of my heart, soul and trust, is J.
    She's inside this wall, and she's sitting next to me and we're surrounded by this enormous amount of open space.  I am imagining though that while I like that well enough, it's still a lonely place - because between the presence of this wall and the amount of time it's been up, I'm at risk of ending up alone later in life.  Because as much as I don't want to imagine this ever happening - I have to be realistic and remember that ANYTHING can happen that could result in a break-up or separation.  This is NOT to say this is something I am concerned with right now because J's and my love is a strong one, perhaps even stronger than these walls - but I have to repeatedly ask myself - hypothetically, what if someday, she wasn't there anymore?  Then what?  Where would that leave me, standing in the middle of this huge, empty space?  I know that I have been able to scale J's walls but her sister has been behind her wall before me, so if something were to happen to me resulting in my death, I know that moving forward, J would be okay - she has another rock situated there for life.  Me, though?  She's it. I love her with everything I am and if life could guarantee that she's going to be there for the rest of my life, this wouldn't even be a thought.  But it can't.  And I've been working so hard and for so long to make sure she's the only one there.  I'm not sure if this is more harmful than helpful, though.
    Not even my mother has breached this wall.  She can't figure out why, and she's expressed many times a frustration over not being able to 'reach' me but, well...that's just too bad.  She's too much of a pain in the ass to even WANT inside this wall.
    My two children are stationed at the imaginary doorway - if not sitting on top of this wall.  I only say this because while I trust my children completely, there are still things they do not know about me and that I've not been able to share with them in regards to my life and my past.  I still feel the need to shield them from these details because as their mother, my wish is to spare them some of the grisly details that may otherwise and unnecessarily upset them.  Nothing can be done about these things right now, firstly - and secondly, even though the Son is about to turn 18, he's still in many ways a child.  The daughter is just 11, she's not ready to see past the doorway just yet.  And so they are granted access to the 'inside' by default because of them being 'permanent' fixtures in my life.  Nothing short of death will eject them from my heart - and should they, one day, approach me and ask me about my past or for details, I'd be okay with sharing them - but they'd have to ask for them.
    I also feel the need to mention that with each time I've been burned by someone, a layer is added to this wall, to solidify it.  I think it's all measured in invisible 'materials,' if that makes sense.  For example, if someone were to lie to me or break my trust in a minor way that can be eventually moved past, and otherwise apologized for, I'll certainly forgive them but won't be able to help adding a 'dirt layer' in front of my wall that they'll have to spend some time cleaning up/digging to get through, but will eventually be able to find this doorway and try again. If someone were to cheat on me though?  A wall made of steel will come crashing down in front of these people and they're not guaranteed to get through this one in this same lifetime.  The wasband is currently behind THIS wall - I've forgiven him his infidelities, though - because without having burned me this way, I would not have found my true soulmate.  And so, the only reason he remains behind this steel wall and I haven't banished him into an entirely different universe reserved for those I never want to associate with again, is because of the children we share, that love him very much.  Between dirt and steel, we also have brick, glass, etc to measure the different strengths of wall required for that 20% of the 80,000 people I'll meet in my lifetime to pass.
    So, along with the idea of working with my sister-in-law in future weeks, months, years to come, I'm now wondering if I should further open this make-believe (solidified, of course) door, and see who's still trying to get in and who's given up by now.  Do these persistent people deserve a chance?  Do I need to work on making room (although I think it's a matter of FILLING space rather than making room) in my heart for others by opening up a little bit more and loosening some of these self-inflicted barriers? I've spent a fair amount of time collecting trust - I am told that I'm an easy person to trust - and I believe this because yes, this is a great deal of who I am.  I'm loyal, I'm honest, I'm faithful, I do not break others' trust; I can't live with myself if I ever did, and if that did happen, it'd likely be accidentally or otherwise unintentional.  And I always own up to my mistakes when they're made.
    I wonder though, if it is time for me to reciprocate and put some of my own trust in others?  Even if I do it a little bit at a time (which I'm working on), it's still so, so hard to do enough to allow someone complete access. I imagine that'll take a while but it's another hurdle I'm finding myself facing these days.  
    How does one even clear this type of hurdle?  I'd love to hear, so if anyone has any input, please do comment!  
    Until next time, folks.  My dinner (pizza) and date (of course, J) have arrived.  We're taking in a movie and we'll relax tonight.  I'll be back later.
    ,  and all my best,
    - Capulet
  18. Capulet
    Hello friends.
    I know that I have been somewhat absent for a little while.  My prescence here has declined greatly over the last couple of weeks and for a little while, I was only really responding to PMs and giving posts a quick-read, just to try and keep up.  I sincerely hope that while I've been scarce, that everyone's doing as well as they can be doing.  While I've been thinking of my friends here while keeping busy offline, the reason for my decreased activity is indeed a good one.  
    There is now a high school graduate in the house!  That colicky, fusspot of a little boy that I rocked to sleep every single night for the first several months of his life, has now officially completed the twelfth grade.  I do admit to stealing the title of this entry from a shot-glass at the Christmas Tree Shop.  But I believe it, completely!  It amazes me how much WORK was involved getting him to this point, to get him across this particular milestone.  How many times he'd gotten frustrated, how many times he's expressed his hatred toward school.  There have been countless projects, book reports, science fairs, visits to the school nurse on the days he'd faked sick because he wanted to go home, (the elementary school nurse and I were on a first-name basis) parent-teacher conferences, two previous graduations (from elementary and junior high) trips, and HOMEWORK.  The homework, is of course, in caps simply because I have six more years of homework woes to endure as the Daughter will be entering 7th grade at the end of the summer and through her, it will all continue...she and her brother are SO different, in personality, in movie, music and food tastes, but when it comes to homework, they're the same.  BOTH of my children dread it and do the bare minimum - it's the only complaint I've gotten from both of their teachers whenever the time comes for me to visit their schools for parent night.  "Your son/daughter is an absolute delight to have in class (I'd make sure at this point they were talking about the right kid) however, he/she is missing x amount of homeworks..."  Then the wasband and I would have to remove any and all electronics for x amount of time - one day per homework missed was ideal...this way, while they MADE UP the missed assignment, there would be absolutely no distractions.  
    But for my son, it paid off.  My only hope is that he feels the same way - and that as he embarks upon a new journey (college), he sees that all of the hard work he's done up until the present time has been worth it.
    The big day was Thursday.  On the way to the ceremony, I looked at him while stopped at a red light.  He was dressed in his shirt and tie, had on his cap and gown, he looked so damn handsome!  
    "Hey," I nudged him, "I want you to know that I'm so proud of you."
    "Thanks, Ma."  I could tell he was trying not to show his nervousness.  He fiddled with his tie, scratched underneath the cap, (those things are itchy) and chewed on his nails.
    "I also want to apologize in advance for the ugly cry you're probably going to see when you walk across that stage."
    Then there was that grin I love so much, followed by a light chuckle, "That's okay, Ma!"
    Surprisingly, the ugly cry happened AFTER the ceremony and tossing of the graduation caps (as well as the frantic relocation of aforementioned cap with attached tassel) when he descended the stairs leading from the school building...carrying in one hand his diploma and using the other to unzip the deep purple gown so he could free himself from the confines of the graduation robe he'd had to wear for the last three hours in a sweltering gymnasium.  Twelve years of school (fourteen, if you count pre-school and Kindergarten) finished in the blink of an eye!  That brought on the tears and I couldn't hide my emotions long enough.  I got a look of horror from the Daughter, who I'm sure, pretended she didn't know me for a full sixty seconds, the usual narrow-eyed wince from Constipa-Face (I expected no less from someone who has not a single sensitive bone in his body) and the "there she goes!" from someone else, possibly Mrs. Constipa-Face.  
    The Son, though, gave me a hug.  I kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear, "wait til your next and final graduation...if you think I'm bad now, I'll be a hot mess, THEN!!"  
    Lucky for us all, I have another four years.  Now I've got to get around the fact that he'll graduate college before his sister even finishes High School...
    And then, to the Daughter, I said, "You just wait, too...when YOU graduate, I'll be crying even HARDER, and I'll make sure there are honking noises when I blow my nose...JUST for you, my darling...and even better, still - you're the spitting image of your Mama, so you won't be able to hide..."
    She groaned.  Serves her right for making fun of her mother, doesn't it?
    I'm sure I'll be ugly-crying AGAIN when his senior picture proofs arrive.  He took them two days before graduation and I'm expecting those to arrive in about two to three weeks. 
    Then, two days after the graduation, I had forty people show up to my house (would have been at least six to seven more people, but I had a few last-minute cancellations) and although I had Oompa staying here for a few days to help out, I certainly got in my exercise...just within my own home.  I lost count of how many times I went up and down the stairs, how many trips I made from the kitchen sliders/upper deck to the newly-set concrete slab one story below.  By the time the night was over on Saturday, I was ready to collapse in exhaustion; my feet were KILLING me and I had some unpleasant chafing in an even more uncomfortable place.  
    This morning, I felt a ton better, both physically and mentally - Oompa left early this morning (but not before expressing any and everything that disappointed her at one point or another...while Constipa-Face is good for nothing less than a daily dose of disapproval, my mother takes first place in every single woe-is-me contest that there ever was - even the imaginary ones) and will be gone until the Daughter's birthday, which is in two weeks.  I spent the day with my father, who leaves tomorrow morning and will return for the next party, which is going to be held at the wasband's house.  And since the wasband has effectively demonstrated that it's NORMAL to show up an hour after the party has started, I may demonstrate my own learning abilities by doing the same thing.  (I say 'MAY' only because my Daughter will likely suffer the consequences of my being purposely tardy; and that's not fair to her at ALL.)  Who am I kidding? I'll be there on time if not a little bit early - at least my kids will know I'm reliable while their father is not.
    I will be spending the next two weeks attempting to get back that feeling of normalcy and calm - the amount of stress that I've had on my plate was at an all-time high and the lowering of my blood pressure is a vital, necessary thing.  
    I'll be posting another update shortly - for now, another good nights' sleep is in order as the recuperation process has begun.
    Sending lots of hugs and love to you all - I've missed everyone!!!  
    - Capulet
  19. Capulet
    This will be brief, because this is being typed while I can still move. 
    Tomorrow, I may be in traction.  Or just very, very sore.  Possibly too sore to go and retrieve the free taco that Taco Bell is offering, while supplies last.  So, if you've got a Taco Bell near you, today, June 13th, is free taco day!  Personally, I like the ones with the Nacho Cheese Dorito shell...
    I, however, may be in too much pain to get myself to the car.
    I will start you all off with some good news.  The concrete has been poured and I now have my table and chairs set up outside.  The Son's graduation party is almost ready to go.  I'm expecting 40 people to show up for the celebration this weekend.  My niece's christening was this past weekend, relieving me of SOME of what's been on my plate for the past several weeks.
    And now for the reason for my (slight) exaggeration.  Today, I spent three hours this afternoon in the yard, collecting and decorating with rocks.  The cement is a 20x20 slab, and there's somewhat of a 'step' up from the grass.  I decided today that it would be a wonderful idea to line rocks along the slab's perimeter, to 'dress' it up a little bit.  And so one by one, I collected large rocks from the wooded area behind the house and walked them over to the slab, placed them down along the outside in an artistic manner, piled the smaller ones on top of the larger ones.  Then I placed the solar light stakes along the path leading to the fire pit.  
    By the time J came home, my back was killing me.  
    Regardless, she needed assistance lifting a VERY heavy box from her trunk.  A box containing a flat-top propane grill/griddle that we had invested in yesterday morning.  It'll be great for when we have a power outage.  It'll be the only way J will cook outdoors.  She has a not-so-fond memory of lifting the cover off a traditional gas barbecue grill and when she pushed the 'ignite' button, the grill was a little 'overexcited' to be started up and she singed her eyebrows.  Since then, she's been deathly afraid of propane grills, but since there's no open fire on a flat-top, she's happy to share some of the cooking duties with me.  
    And the Son, who can lift heavy things, was not home.  Whenever I need help, he's not home.  Always seems to be the case.  But he did have a good reason for not being home - he was taking his senior pictures.  The portrait studio was at his school today and they were photographing the class of 2019 and since he missed the opportunity to have them taken for THIS year, they were kind enough to squish him in between two juniors and I will finally have an updated graduation photo for my wall.  Of course, before that happens, I will need to wait for the proofs to be mailed.
    So, anyway, this box must have been at least 100 pounds.  We aren't weaklings but we ARE both almost forty years old and this was quite the feat.  We struggled with the box containing the flat-top, managing to first drop it to the ground, then I pushed and she pulled - until the box has been relocated into the garage. 
    Then...we went bowling in our summer league.  Three game set.  I walked in like an old(er) lady.  Managed to bowl 2 good-ish games and 1 trash game.  I throw a fifteen-pound ball an average of 16-17mph down the lane, and yes, in case you're wondering, the high speed does mess with my accuracy!
    It probably wasn't a good idea to bowl with a backache. 
    But I did it, anyway.  
    So therefore, I will probably wake up in knots.  I'm not sure how to describe a delayed injury (or even soreness) any better than basically going to the gym, working out for hours and then waking up the next day wondering what the hell possessed you to do such a thing.
    Wish me luck, friends.  I think tomorrow morning will be one of these.
    Until next time. 
    - Capulet
  20. Capulet
    That's what my daughter asked me this afternoon.  
    Ahhh...it's been a crazy-ish week, so far.
    For starters, I'm starting to think God has the absolute worst form of colic.  All he does is CRY!  I mean, yeah, looking at today's world, I can certainly understand the need to bawl rather than try and analyze why we're forced to deal with the amount of stress we're destined to deal with - all in one lifetime, too.  We've not had more than two or three days in a row without rain.  
    I normally wouldn't care so much whether it rained or the sun was out - I'm not an outdoorsy type at all.  When it rains, I'm usually at home and I busy myself with housework.  When it's sunny, my vampire mode kicks in and I prefer to stay in and relax if I have no other pressing plans.  Oh, and another interesting tidbit about me - I have something called 'achoo syndrome.'  It's really a thing, look it up.  I can't step out into the sunlight without sneezing violently and scaring the living hell out of whoever's standing next to me at the time.
    However, this rain worries me.  I'm planning a graduation party for exactly thirteen days from now and my backyard has been waiting (patiently I might add...since mid-April!) for a concrete pour and the ass-clown I hired to do the job will not do it if the ground is wet.  Weather IS a factor when it comes to cement pouring but he's also delayed doing the work on days God was 'happy' (as rarely as that's been lately) and I'm trying NOT to panic at the thought that the yard simply may not be finished in time.  Ass-clown says he will be here Monday and cement should be poured by Wednesday - but honestly, I've heard all of this, before. 
    We'll see.  I'm seriously going to join God and cry if this crap isn't done by the end of next week.  The cement is only the first step - I also have to repair patches of grass that the men wrecked during their working moments, and I have to see about some decorating...this, of course, means another trip to Home Depot is in my very near future.
    So, the party-planner in me is a nervous wreck.  I'll have about 50 people in my back yard, which, right now, looks like a waterlogged dump.
    The Son's actual graduation day is the 12th.  He is in need of a pair of pants and a dress shirt and a tie.  And a shave and a haircut.  Oh, and if an attitude adjustment could be arranged, too, that would be great.  You would think he needed a root canal; he's constantly complaining that he doesn't like wearing 'dressy' attire but it clearly states on his school notice discussing graduation what the Class of 2018 is expected to wear.  Every day since that notice came home, I'll ask him, "shall we go to the Big & Tall after school today?"  And every day, his answer is, "nah, I'm tired," or "nah, I've got homework," or just plain, "nah, I don't feel like it."  We are now nine days away from graduation and he has no pants, no shirt, no tie and no shoes, he's built like John Candy but has Zach Galifianakis' haircut with a five o'clock shadow he's too lazy to tend to.  It's just ANOTHER THING we have to deal with in a short amount of time.  So not only is the cement guy delaying me in several ways, I feel the Son is trying to cut it close, too.
    So, before he left to go to the wasband's house, I informed him through clenched teeth that on Wednesday afternoon, we were going to the store after school and we would NOT be leaving until he's got a full outfit for his graduation. I got a very well rehearsed, "Absolutely, Mom.  We will do that."
    The sports fan in me is not happy right now, either.  My New York Mets have sincerely forgotten how to play the game called baseball.  My father, whom I inherited Mets fandom from, actually went online to try and get tickets to a YANKEE game.  His reasoning?  "I want to see some REAL baseball!  I feel like I'm watching a Little League team!"  (And he's not wrong about that.)  I just came from watching tonight's game...score is tied at 1-1 for seven innings or so - then the Mets (Mess) decide to put in a reliever with a high ERA (I DO understand the bullpen was getting thin, but STILL....) and the Cubs score six.  And to add injury to insult, the Mets come up empty in the bottom of the 14th.  They've now lost four or five in a row - I forget which, but watching their games is rapidly becoming a risk of wasted time.  Maybe I'll just start putting the games on during the last inning?
    The Daughter had me laughing earlier this week, though.  Do you all remember where, in a couple blog entries ago, I mentioned that I was dealing with some private issues?  Well, I'm still not quite ready to divulge all those details but it has to do with her recent behavior and a phone call was placed by the school.  The wasband was involved, of course, but we've NEVER been on the same page when it came to figuring out what was best when dealing with our children.  He simply disciplines while I prefer to talk to them and both try to understand and help THEM understand why they acted in a certain way.  I feel that's the most effective way to parent because you're actually listening to THEIR side, too and they see this - which makes them more likely to come to me for guidance or advice or whenever they run into trouble.  I'm of the belief that if you lose your shit, they'll learn very quickly that you're NOT able to be there for them in a rational, calm manner when it's needed.   And so, I listen and I discipline them AFTER I've heard the full story, I know they understand what they did was wrong and not before.  But the wasband, having come from a broken, unstable home filled with violence and drug/alcohol abuse, has never been one to listen to what the kids have to say but is quick to deal out a punishment.  It's a typical Lion Vs. Lamb situation.  The kids are terrified of going to him first, for this reason mainly.
    Anyway, long story short - the daughter has had her phone taken away for two weeks, now, as a result of her latest misbehavior.  The wasband and I had sat her down (was just us three) and we had a discussion.  Before this (pre-planned; 'meet me at the park at 5:00' sorta thing) discussion, I told the daughter that she just had to hear him out and let him say whatever he needed to say - we already knew he'd resort to his usual unreasonable, belittling ways and she wasn't likely to get a word in.  She knows now that even if she doesn't agree with him, she'd better pretend she does because there is simply NO reasoning with him when he talks.  This is exactly how I felt when I was married to him, and sadly, STILL how I feel, even after being divorced for almost ten years.  The path of least resistance is simply to nod and let him THINK he's getting a point across.  She (and her brother) has come to recognize this trait in her father and she was prepared for this meeting knowing that she and I would talk later on when it was just us two.  
    So, this is the part that made me chuckle.  The wasband has a very distinct, unmistakeable face that he puts on whenever he doesn't understand or agree with something.  His eyes get narrow, his lip curls upwards.  He'll talk slowly, making you feel like you'd BETTER respond the right way.  Yes, I'm fully aware this is all part of the abuse he's been inflicting on everyone around him for the last two decades or more, but some people, I've learned to accept, simply can't be fixed.  The Son is nearly 18 and will eventually lock horns with his father (won't be a good day, but is inevitable, I think) and the Daughter, at 12, is already forming her own conclusions in regard to her father's character versus her mother's.  Anyway, when this face comes on, he's clearly disgusted with you, he makes you feel as if YOU'RE the crazy one, and whatever you approached him about in the first place, becomes something you simply don't want to address anymore, resulting in the dropping of said topic/subject.  It certainly was a deterrent when I approached him while we were married, and asked him if I could visit a therapist once per week.  That didn't work out so well.
    Anyhow, during our meeting, he put this face on.  A face that the Daughter now refers to as the 'TrumpFace.'  We had a very amusing talk on the way home from the park, where in the car I asked her how she felt it went.  She felt she didn't get a chance to explain herself because he simply wouldn't listen to her nor did he present as approachable due to the constant putting on of the TrumpFace.  I think, though, we'll just call it Constipa-Face because to me, it does resemble our current POTUS but also looks as if the wasband is severely constipated and is in serious need of some toilet time.  
    On one hand, I'm secretly glad that the Daughter and I have this mutual understanding about her Dad, but on the other, I am somewhat saddened because I do not feel that any child should feel that a parent is not truly there or understanding them and their needs.  I guess in this respect, I'm going to be pulling double duty because Constipa-Face is incapable of change.  
    Has a nice ring to it, don't it?
    So, ahh....yes - when the Daughter came into my room and caught me in autopilot mode, just kind of going down the list of shit I have to get accomplished this week, I looked down and realized that I was slowly feeding tiny bits of beef jerky to the cat.  He was enjoying it, too...it was a tender enough brand of jerky and he was likely savoring the flavor-filled chews before swallowing his treat.  And he'd wait patiently for the next morsel, too, which I'd deliver in between my own little bites.
    I suppose I'll find out in the morning if he truly enjoyed it or it ended up irritating his stomach.  
    Hoping all's well with you guys.  Until next time.
    - Capulet
  21. Capulet
    The sun is shining today!
    It has rained almost every day last week.  And when it rains, I'm tired, I'm moody and I'm just plain overall annoyed.  All I want to do is sleep.  Driving in the rain puts me at risk of entering autopilot mode - the wipers squeaking across the window...repeatedly...is what does it.  I'm unsure if this happens because it's a trigger or if it can be filed into the 'happens to everyone' pile.  Either way, I'm not sure what Mother Nature's problem is but she's cried buckets, drowning us all in the eastern states for the last several days with occasional, too-brief periods of reprieve. Brings me back to when I was a child and someone (for some reason, I cannot remember whom) told me that was because God was crying.  And I, being the extremely gullible child I was, would talk to God through the window and tell him that he needed to cheer up so that I could go ride my Strawberry Shortcake bike with the banana seat.    
    Ahhhh, the days without electronic stimulation!  Remembering myself as being seven, eight years old always made me smile.  Briefly, but a smile regardless.
    Having not much else to do because of inclement weather has forced me to think a lot about childhood days.  Mostly about the happier times.  I think there were a lot of contributing factors, really, other than my own boredom.  My own kids would never DREAM of doing the things I enjoyed when I was younger than they were.  No, they are far too fixated on their phones, their video game consoles, their iPads and any additional electronic devices that prevent them from being able to tell whether or not it's a nice day.  
    I was a kid who loved going to the park on nice sunny days.  I loved the monkey bars...most all of New York City parks had a set.  They were the boxy, metal square ones at first, before the builders got more creative and started building sets out of heavy duty plastic.  I loved hurtling myself upside down and hanging like a bat until all of the blood rushed to my head, then doing a gymnastics-style roll/flip back onto my feet.  I loved turning cartwheels in the grass...this was something I was good at, apparently - while I'd never mastered a back handspring, I was pretty lithe and was able to perform both two-handed and one-handed cartwheels, splits, back bends.  I didn't fancy the slide too much - as those too were made out of metal back in the day and if it was summertime, we'd scald our asses along with the back of our legs going down without a towel or something to sit on.  There were also the old fashioned see-saws and you don't see those anywhere anymore.
    Swinging was my favorite, though.  Some of my friends had back-yard swing sets and we'd swing as high as we could, until the poles came out of the ground, signaling to us that we'd best recognize our limits.  But in the park, the swing sets were welded into the ground and when there was no limit to how high we could swing, I'd go higher and higher until I was at risk of doing a 360...it felt as if I were flying.   There were times when I'd hold onto the chain links on either side and close my eyes, put my legs straight out in front of me, and lean backwards for an extended period of time.  Swinging while in that position would tickle my stomach.  I also remembered wondering what would happen if I were to let go of the chains.  I mean, I knew that I'd fall.  I wondered how much it would hurt.  Would a swinging midair hurl off of the seat kill me?  Luckily, I didn't investigate that any further since the thought scared me enough to outweigh what was likely childish curiosity.
    Then there was the familiar melody of the ice-cream truck - Mr. Softee is still my favorite.  I always preferred soft ice cream to hard.  I never could hear jack shit, but I knew the SOUND of the Mr. Softee that would make hourly rounds.  The familiar horde of children that would run over to the park entrance whenever that sound came blaring through the speakers.  SOMETIMES, my mom would get us each a cone - depending on the mood she was in, of course, or whether she had a few singles on her.  
    And sometimes, when it was REALLY hot outside, the sprinklers would be on, there was a little fenced-in pit with a drain where kids could run around in their bathing suits and keep cool while their mothers fanned themselves on a nearby bench.
    Those are the memories shared by most 80's kids that lived in Brooklyn.  When it rained, if we were lucky, we had the original NES systems with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt to keep us occupied, but for the most part, social media didn't exist and so we had to rely on nice weather in order to have any sort of fun on summer days.  Hell, some of these kids didn't give a shit about what the weather forecast said or whether or not God was crying - they went to the park ANYWAY.  
    I'd tell my kids these things and get all sorts of 'are you crazy!?' looks.  But that's evolution, I guess...we're simply not in the 80's anymore.  Rain or shine, there they are with their phones, their tablets, video games...because who cares about the park?!  It's more important to follow the saga of who's going out, who's breaking up, who's sleeping with whom...it's not just my kids, though, so this is somewhat relieving.  It's just saddening, a little, to know they'll never love these things as much as I used to.  We're just from entirely different times.  Makes me wonder what things are going to be like when THEY become parents!  
    There IS also a reason I'm mentioning these fond memories, I know I like to ramble and I thank y'all for bearing with me through all these novellas...LOL.
    So...we also had (another) power outage last week.  It went on from Tuesday at about three-thirty in the afternoon until Thursday afternoon.  Two full days with no power.  Thankfully we weren't reliant on running the heat, otherwise we'd have been cold on top of temporarily living the Amish lifestyle.  
    I'd been watching television when the storm hit and within a couple of minutes, we went dark.  We'd later learn it was because of a downed tree as a result of tornado-force winds in our area.  You can certainly imagine the kids' turmoil when nothing worked - at least until batteries were 100% depleted.  The wasband had power, though his went out for only a few hours before being restored.   And so for the sake of preserving whatever sanity I still possessed, I sent them over there until things were back up and running at my house.  Luckily, it wasn't like last time - when Snowmageddon wiped out our electricity for five days.  Still though, I cannot stress enough how much tree-inforcement is needed in these parts - the trees are tall and most are so dangerously close to power lines.  All it takes is strong winds and we're shit out of luck for however long it takes for the utility companies to come repair the lines.  But before they can come fix the lines, whatever tree that is lying on top of them has to be cut down and removed, making this a long, trying process in the Pocono Mountains.  And it's happened two times this year already - it being extended power outages.  
    If there's anything I miss about city life, that's it.  We paid about as much as you'd pay for a kidney on the black market for electricity and gas, but THEIR outages (unless it was due to a hurricane) were only hours long at most.  Here?  A single flipping tree falls and BAM, 15K people in the dark for three days.  And whenever we have bad storms, that's multiplied many times over, resulting in a surge of restaurant activity and generator sales.  I seriously need a generator...when the power goes out, it takes the running water with it and we are completely, (pun intended here) powerless to function until restoration.
    But as initially stated, that's about all I miss about the city.  Even though so many good memories were formulated there and it's where I spent the first twelve years of my life, I don't miss Brooklyn.  I don't even miss the park, and this is probably the saddest part of the whole thing.  Admittedly, the parks here are subpar in comparison and some don't even have swing sets! But my kids simply don't care much for them in general, as their brains have effectively been taken over by the invention of electronics and that thing called wi-fi that I, too, find myself in a state of panic without.  Mr. Softee, since he doesn't cover this area, has been replaced by Rita's - their gelati with vanilla custard with cherry ices in between is uh-mayyyyzing!!! (I won't put down the points value but I do know it for my own reference.)
    And I'm thinking there's more to my wanting to close the door and put away these childhood memories that I once loved - because I've come to realize that there are not too many others in existence that effectively fill in the gaps in between.  Not full ones, anyway.  Just snippets here and there, of people I loved and are long since gone...gone before they could and perhaps would have been able to answer my questions about myself as a kid.  Questions that plague me now as an adult.  I also remember places I'd gone and visited, some smells, too.  I can recall little details here and there but not what I felt or experienced during these times.  I'm just more often left with more questions I started with, and so whenever something sends my mind on a throwback, I find myself shifting focus more onto the present and imagining alternate futures that would have otherwise stemmed from perhaps, a more stable childhood.  
    I just stuggle with what could possibly have happened to cause these enormous, gaping holes in the canvas containing the events of my childhood?  I want to say that part of me is fine with not remembering the bad parts but I think I'd be lying to myself and to all of you if I said that I didn't want to eventually know the truth.  I know I'm a broken record about that sometimes, but it's simply not something that goes away.  I guess I just have to continue to be patient, I need to wait and see what unfolds with time, IF anything decides to reveal itself, it will be when when my brain allows for it.  It seems that most of my other happy memories came with a darker counterpart.  And this, I don't like at all.  For example, I remember my grandmother's house being a place where we gathered as a family and spent holidays - Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc.  And then I remember entering the house after she had died - feeling no remaining evidence of her warm presence.  No, all I felt was a blast of cold, with a side order of hatred toward my uncle who was now the sole owner.  And as I wrote about in a previous blog, this brought forth a rush of a new set of emotions that I'm STILL dealing with, years and years later.
    In attempts to understand myself a little clearer, I try to picture an imaginary timeline of my childhood.  
    It had all started out sunny and bright.  Flowers in bloom, birds singing, (even though I can't hear them, I can picture the little musical notes floating above in this vision) people smiling, myself and other kids playing, laughing, not having a care in the world.  
    And little by little, the timeline weather begins to change.  It absolutely changes for all of us, for it's a part of life.  I'd imagine, as we mature and we transform from being children into teens and then eventually, adulthood, our 'timelines' do, too.  Because, as we grow, we have things to worry about - we have concerns.  We have responsibilities.  Some of us don't have secrets, though, like I feel that I did.  Secrets that even I don't know I had, buried deep inside that fun-loving child that exists only through these few clear memories, now.  
    For me, though, watching my own particular timeline unfold, these imaginary skies gradually became cloudy and darkened earlier than it would someone who isn't riddled with suspicion or confusion about things having occurred during their childhoods - for me, there are black patches of a whole lot of nothing.  There are these obvious voids; bottomless swirling holes that I can't make sense of.  Most of them are indeed accompanied by little bits of information - enough for me to form a hypothesis, but not enough to get the full story...I HOPE this makes sense because I don't know how to explain it any better than through this analogy.  
    But, yeah...they're there, right along with these occasional bright spots that I do recognize and I can smile about.  As I proceeded down (or up?) the timeline, they remained there, and even though things were cloudy, the imaginary sun still shone through and illuminated my path going forward.  It, however, shone bright enough for me to notice and subsequently, to skip over those black voids - because they simply weren't things that were going to be explained to me anytime soon.  Why sit there?  Why obsess over them?  Why peer into those holes?  I wasn't going to see anything.  In hindsight, I've tried, many times during the course of my thirty-nine years, to stop and peek into some of these holes and have always come up empty.
    The rain came during puberty, as I faced unpleasant bodily changes and contended with hormones that I, as expected, didn't know how to deal with the inevitable transformation into adulthood.  Who does, though?  If you asked the younger, child-like me, I'd say that was when God started to cry a lot.  It started off with little droplets and occasional showers before the sky finally opened up following a sexual assault when I was seventeen.  That's when the torrential downpours began, often accompanied by thunder and lightening and otherwise frightening 'weather' in between the usual periods of sunshine (the good days) that would best represent the years I'd spend healing, rebuilding the me that my own personal weather conditions have battered over the years.  
    Just like, in reality, while the bad weather occasionally batters someone's home, someone's property, causes wreckage and turmoil (power outages, hello!?) an emotional representation can also be successfully formed, at least for me.  Recovery reminds me of weather, in many ways.  There are good days.  Bad days.  Days where we want to be out and about be productive...and then there are days where we don't want to get out of bed and face the cruel, damp, dreary world.
    It's just so, very easy (and at times, appropriate) for me to make these symbolic associations to my past, using rain, gloominess and cloudiness.  I think it's also why I appreciate sunny days more, now that I'm older.  I think it's safe to say that I weathered those teenage-year storms and now, only the childhood voids remain.  And there they will continue to remain until the time comes for them to reveal the information that is hidden in each.  
    I do know that there are going to be many more rainy days to come.  That's to be expected of life.  Everyone's life, not just the lives of a survivor.  
    (I know I don't need to explain to anyone here that sometimes it feels like MY life is more sullied, tarnished, tainted and at times, 'worse' than other 'normal' people's lives, when in fact, we know next to nothing of what that person deals with on a day-to-day....it FEELS like this at times, though!  This is just me venting, though - I know that these 'normal' people have their own crappy cards dealt at one point or another.) 
    Even on these bad days, I make it a point to search for the smallest amount of 'sunlight,' little snippets of positivity that serve as reminders that there are indeed things to smile about regardless of shit weather, both metaphoric and real.  Reminders that even though so many question marks have been applied via (imaginary) Sharpie onto my envisioned timeline, there are still so, so many beautiful people, things, moments that I can stop to appreciate while I wait for the other things to make sense.  Kind of like enjoying the finer bits of life while waiting with a club in hand for the whack-a-mole creature to pop up out of whatever void it feels inclined to pop out of, first.  THEN, I'll hit this poor, unsuspecting mole (hope it's not a cat) on the head and see what unfolds.  It may decide to reveal what's in the gap from whence it came, or it may pop out of a different hole, sending me on a wild goose chase...similar to the one I've been on for the last several years.  
    Patience.  It's what I'll have to work on, now.  I can play this game for as long as I need to.  But brighter days are indeed helpful for the overall mindset.
    It IS, however, going to rain tomorrow.  According to my trusty weather app, God will shed some tears in the Poconos and it's going to stop on Wednesday and we should have drier conditions for the rest of the week.  Here's hoping.
    In closing, I am genuinely hoping you're all well, too.  I will provide a weight update soon but since we missed last week's due to the power outage, I'll simply say that I'm hoping to drop a pound and a half this week to make my grand total an even 30 pounds.  If that happens, you'll hear from me tomorrow at some point.  If not, then I'll plod on and keep trying.  You might still hear from me, anyway.  That's future planning for you.  
    - Capulet
  22. Capulet
    Hello, all!
    A Happy Belated Mother's Day to all of you who are either mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, fathers pulling double-duty, babysitters, to anyone at all who loves and nurtures a child...be it for a lifetime or simply for a few hours at a time, it matters none...yesterday was all about you guys - and I hope someone took the time to let you know how appreciated you are!  The Son and Daughter got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers as well as a lovely card - the card is on my mantle and the flowers are in my bathroom with the door closed, for that's the only place they are safe from the extremely disobedient cat that likes to feast upon the flower buds.
    Moving on...
    Today was...interesting.  
    Interesting in the sense I stepped foot on a college campus with a backpack slung over my shoulder, but not because I'm the one taking classes.  No, that ship has long since sailed.  I was NEVER a good student.  The whole school setting was ALWAYS a challenge for me.  I did complete three years of college before I dropped out when I discovered I was pregnant with my son...and never looked back.  Lately though, I've been thinking about finishing up my Associates'.  Why not?  I can do it.  I'm only a semester or two shy of the degree.  
    But this isn't really about me.  It is, but it isn't.  I'll explain. 
    My son, the soon-to-be high school graduate, had his college orientation today.  We were, of course, accompanied by the wasband, since this, being a monumental moment in our boy's life, warranted the presence of both of the Son's parents.  Especially since, for the majority of the duration of the orientation, the Son would be traveling seperately with student cluster groups while the parents would be required to sit through six (yes, count them - SIX) separate topic lectures on financial aid, student safety on campus, student financial institutions within the college, managing course loads, a small lecture on what we, as parents, would now expect out of an 'adjusting' college student and finally, a briefing on commuting.  Yes, you may now YAWN, I know I did plenty of that.  
    This is where it gets stupid - because upon arrival at the orientation event at 7:30 in the morning, we were presented with a folder outlining the topics of each lecture, and MOST of what was discussed in each 'meeting' was simply read to us by whatever unfortunate professor had been assigned the task.  I mean, did they think we forgot how to read?  
    One of the main reasons the wasband was convinced to take the day off is because me + lecture halls = disaster.  In large crowds, theater/auditorium surroundings, I generally miss about fifty percent of what's being said, especially during the end portion of each briefing when hands would shoot up and we'd have a Q & A.  The wasband agreed to join me and be an extra set of ears and during each lecture, he would mumble, "they're just reading from the outline on page whatever-it-was," and he'd be answering work-related emails on his phone.  And so, I silently sat in my seat, and I allowed myself to 'get fuzzy' during those parts.  I think I even closed my eyes a couple of times - to say the whole thing was boring is certainly the understatement of the year.  It's relieving though, I was not the only one - many of the other parents were also sleeping.  When I get blurry, as I sometimes put it...you know what I mean?  You stare at something for long enough, your vision begins to blur as it turns into a non-blinking daydream.  It happens A LOT with me.  I talked about when it happens while I DRIVE, sometimes - I know, it's not safe at all, but it can't be helped.
    However....during these fuzz-outs...
    I did find myself forced to remember...especially during the moments when the Son and his peers would join the group of parents for certain parts of the orientation event.  I watched him walk into the auditorium in the beginning of the day for the introduction.  I watched him smile (he's so handsome!) when he saw some people he knew from his current school.   I watched him talk to other incoming freshmen, saw him shake a few hands.  I watched with pride as he requested information on campus employment during the information fair walk-through.  
    I also saw things in him that reminded me of myself, when I was seventeen years old.  I noticed the clueless face; it appeared at moments when he THOUGHT no one was looking.  But, you know...Mom sees everything.  
    It looked so much like my face, guys.  
    I saw him shift nervously when he accepted his folder,  when he was given his sticky name tag that he'd be wearing for the day.  I saw the tiny little cringe when they talked about joining one of the dozens of clubs the University had to offer.  
    You see, my son is by no means a social butterfly (do they refer to males as butterflies?) and while our reasons are certainly different, it's something I can relate to.  My being 'different' was always something that prevented me from initiating conversation, it caused me to shy away, to simply observe from afar.  If someone approached me, I was always friendly.  I still am.  For the most part, though, it's VERY difficult for me to take the initiative to approach someone else and introduce myself.  The Son, although he's very well liked, also prefers to keep to himself - he likes being friendly with people from a distance.  He spends hours talking to 'invisible' friends by way of his XBOX headset and he prides himself in his ability to have over twenty thousand Instagram followers - but I rarely see him conversing with 'real life' friends.  His idea of a normal day is to wake up, go to school, eat, play XBOX and sleep - rinse and repeat. I, too, felt more comfortable being by myself.  I still do.
    The Son's hearing, if you go by the medical assessment, is diagnosed as being normal.  However, he's got a condition that plagues MOST teenagers these days - it is called 'selective hearing.'  The Daughter has it, too - she was blessed with this condition at birth while his, I feel has been gradual.
    For the most part, I ignored the wasband and his phone and focused mainly on the boy I raised.  I watched his expressions, his movements.  He's terrified...no more or less than any of his peers, though.  Eventually, my ex's presence faded - I ALMOST forgot that he was even there.
    Today, while watching my son, I was brought back to MY freshman year.  This was not a good year for me, as many of you know by now what happened to me in 1996 - and it is safe to say that this experience I had when I was encouraged to 'be social' ended up forever tarnishing my remaining college days as well as the rest of my life.  I'd been told, "Hey, listen...you're in college, now.  It's time to get to know people, have fun, join clubs, socialize."  And it might have been Oompa's voice saying these things since I didn't begin to find Will Ferrell annoying until much later.  And eventually, my mother's voice morphed into my own - I believed all of it and started echoing these things to myself.  I tried to be what others who were less socially inept recommended for me to be, and I ended up putting myself in danger.  Yes, I do know that what happened wasn't my fault - there is no misplacement of blame here, it falls upon the miserable excuse of a man who assaulted me.  I just feel that my way of thinking had been effectively manipulated when I truly wasn't unhappy with the way things were in the first place.  So WHAT if I was quiet and shy?  Who cares?  I had my innocence.  I was simply doing things at my own pace.  Until things happened and my pace went out the window along with any self-caring I had left.
    And now, 21 years later, here is this know-it-all professor saying that the way my boy likes to live, the way he's comfortable and content, (eat, sleep, play video games, with the addition of his new college class attendance in between eating and sleeping) is described as the 'highway' way, and he'll find himself bored if he doesn't integrate some University club and social activities into his (already) busy schedule.
    What do you DO with that?  My mind at this point was racing.
    I wanted to scream at this idiot...let him be who he wants to be, damn it.  If he wants to get up, go to class, and come right back home, then that's his God-given right - no one has any reason to tell him any differently.  If he joins a club, it's going to be because he has a genuine interest in it, not because he's going to be coerced into it for the sake of building up his social resume.  If he prefers quality over quantity when it comes to making friends, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  If he wants to be socially awkward, then that's what he'll be.  
    He's my boy and I love him, dearly just the way he is.  And I'm going to make sure he knows that.  I'll encourage him to be the best person he can be - the choices that lead him onto the path of adulthood will be his own and his own alone.  If he's happy, I'm happy.  
    That should TRULY be enough, shouldn't it?
    OMG.  What time is it?!  My eyes are closing on me.  I'll be back later this week.
    Hope y'all are doing well.
    All my best,
    - Capulet
  23. Capulet
    Hey, all!  Hoping this finds everyone in good health...mental and otherwise!  As for me, I'm still...well...me. I dare not say for sure that I'm in good mental health because that, as always, remains a matter of opinion.   
    So...spring has finally sprung where I live...where there were gnarled, menacing tree branches, there are now lovely cherry blossom trees in bloom, colorful leaves growing, grass and flowers sprouting.  Rising temperatures are also lifting my spirits - although we've had more than enough rain, it's still nice to be free of the arctic nightmare that was this past winter.  I'm more motivated to go outside - this week, we're having a little work done in our backyard.  Next week, I'll be attempting to decorate.  The Son's graduation barbecue has been set for five weeks from now and I'm motivated to make our back yard beautiful.  The cherry blossom tree I want of my own is likely going to be next year's project; making the yard presentable is going to keep me busy enough for the next few weeks.
    Lost a little bit less than one pound,  bringing my total to 26.1.  Slowly but surely, I'll get there.  My water intake hasn't been what it should.  Will work on that this week.
    But, anyway...enough of the small talk... 
    Lately, I've been struggling with sleep, again. I thought I had it figured out, but I apparently do not.
    Tylenol PM has been deemed ineffective - two nights this past week, I took two and waited, waited and WAITED.  Sleep remained elusive, even though I had managed to cover every single little annoying light in the room.  I tossed and turned for at least another two or three hours before I finally fell asleep - an hour before the alarm roused me to get the kids up and off to school.
    I think I know what the problem is.  It's not until I'm trying to fall asleep at night that my brain (which has been inadequately programmed to accept SLEEP as an acceptable and normal way of life) decides that it's time to think about things that I don't necessarily have answers for.  At two or three in the morning, no less.  I'll be tossing and turning, intent on replenishing on my energy and strength and my brain goes something like this: "Pssst.  Hey, Capulet.  D'ya remember the kitchen drawer you meant to re-arrange and organize?  Well, it's getting fuller because you've been neglecting it for weeks.  How much longer do you think it'll be before you won't be able to open it?  And when you finally DO get to it, the knob you pull to open the drawer is loose.  You're going to need a Phillips screwdriver to tighten it.  The screwdriver is actually IN that drawer, too, so you don't have to look far.  You planned for that, actually.  And then when you're done with that knob, you're going to need to tighten at least a dozen other knobs throughout the kitchen and bathroom cabinets..."
    So, there you have it...there's me...at three o'clock in the fucking morning, there I am with the screwdriver, because my brain won't shut the fuck up about the knobs.  You'd also think - okay, all thirteen knobs tightened, am I going to be able to sleep now?  No.  Because then it starts with the next thing.  It's like my brain queues thoughts - things I push away when I have all the time in the world during the damn day, and it saves them for when I'm supposed to be sleeping.  But I think I'm a sleep superhero - I've mentioned previously that this was something I've been used to since I was in my late teens.  Sure, the day after, I'm a zombie and the night after, I USUALLY crash accompanying a NyQuil swig.
    So, a couple nights ago...I had a pounding headache.  Took a Tylenol PM - (and here's further proof that it simply doesn't work...I either need to take three or four or find something stronger) and headed to bed.  Few minutes in, there's the voice of my brain.  
    "Hey.  Hey.  Never mind sleep.  Tell me, Capulet, why do you think you don't like music?"
    I punch my pillow.  Oh, my God.  All I want is to SLEEP!  Shut up, brain.  SHUT UP!  I attempt to ignore the voice.  I think of other things.  I think of my beautiful nieces and my handsome nephew.  My cats.  My upcoming house projects.  The parties I'm trying to plan for birthdays, graduations, other marvelous life moments.  I try to "start" a dream...hopefully I'll drift off and finish it.  No such luck that night, though.
    "You're not going to sleep until you explain to yourself why you hate music.  Come on.  It's time to think about this and nothing else, because you're NOT going to be able to sleep until you do..."  I want to say Will Ferrell is the voice of my disobedient brain - simply because I can't stand him and find him annoying.  Very convenient, isn't it, to have him narrate my impromptu middle-of-the-night thoughts?
    So, I get to thinking about my dislike of music.  It's not because I want to or choose to, it's because Will Ferrell won't let me sleep.
    I always thought that it mostly has to do with the fact that I can't hear it.  I can feel the beat, I can hear, through the help of my hearing aid, the sounds.  But I cannot string together the words to a song.  I can't tell if it's a pleasant sound or dissonant.  I can't enjoy it, even in the smallest way.  I don't understand when someone tells me that music is more than hearing; it's an experience.  I don't get it when my fiancee rushes over to me after watching 'The Voice' with goosebumps on her arms and she says, "Oh, my god...their singing...it sent chills through my body...look!  See the goosebumps?"  And sure enough, yes, there they are.  I don't get it when I see people in the gym or jogging in the park with headphones in.  I mean, I guess I CAN understand - for these people, it serves as a distraction...when you can focus on your favorite songs while you work out, the exercise doesn't seem so tedious.  Maybe that's why I fail miserably whenever I DO bring my ass over to the gym. 
    I see people with song lyrics tattooed on them.  Lyrics I normally cannot identify the song they came from or who the artist is.   
    My mother loves music and enjoys Broadway...she goes to shows often with her (retired) friends.  My father, when he's not swearing at the Mets and their recent lack of baseball talent, loves music and occasionally 'jams' with his (also retired) friends - he plays the organ and the saxophone, for fun.  He's also known to enjoy American Idol when it's on.  My sister (the one who's a bit of a snoot) has been performing since she was a small child and much to all of our relief, she's now just had her second child and is just now focusing on motherhood, something she should have started doing five years ago when my nephew was born.  
    My fiancee loves playing her favorite music in the car or in the bedroom...she will attempt to tell me about certain songs, certain performers, and as much as I try, I can't bring myself to care.  In fact, J and I have an inside joke.  Whenever I see people sing, I have to admit to being amused by it and often referring to it as 'people screaming.'   Because, to me, it looks like they're screaming in pain.  Especially the ones who belt out in song and distort their faces so excessively, it reminds me of someone attempting to pass a kidney stone or preparing for childbirth.  And so, on J's days off, I sleep late (most likely because the night before was a restless one) and while she's waiting for me to awaken, she 'watches people scream' with her cat.  It works for me.
    And finally, my KIDS love music.  The daughter is constantly playing music through her iPad while she does homework, cleans, takes showers.  A lot of the time, I have to tell her to turn her stuff down, because it's giving me a headache.  The Son, a few weeks ago when I picked him up from school, expressed his sadness that I couldn't hear music.  He said he 'felt so bad' for me, that he found it devastating that I didn't know what I was missing.  I told him that I wasn't bothered by it.  I think I found it more touching that he was of the impression that we'd even have the same taste in tunes...
    I've even seen and met other deaf people (and it's safe to say they are just as deaf as I) who enjoy feeling the beat and claim to love music, even watching people sing/perform on television, even if they're not getting the full audio experience they still SOMEHOW manage to gain from music and reading the subtitles as a person performs.  I'll never understand though, how that's possible, either.  But I never questioned it. I don't think I ever really cared enough to do so.  I guess it would be a different story if I'd ever heard music.  If I'd been born with the ability to hear and lost my hearing later in life, I think I'd have been crushed, having something I enjoyed so intensely taken away from me.  I think that's what my son THINKS happened in my case, even though I've explained time and time again - you can't possibly miss something you've never had the pleasure of understanding or experiencing.  
    But...I have to confess...I hate music.  When I hear music playing through the radio or through someone's phone or from the TV, it sounds staticky.  It's just loud, annoying noise.  Oftentimes, it gives me a headache because that's what noise DOES.  When you can't make heads nor tails of it, you're left with unnecessary background noise that plays in your head long after it's been turned off.  I can't help but roll my eyes - is it really as hyped up as everyone says?  I mean - I've always said people were entitled to their own opinions, not everyone likes and dislikes the same things.  But almost every single person I know likes music...and I can't help but feel left out because this isn't something I can take joy in alongside them.  Ebenezer Scrooge's 'bah humbug' comes to mind whenever I see someone enjoying music or singing...and I just find myself disconnecting from any and all forms of music.  I allow myself to get lost in thoughts and if the 'noise' gets to be too much, I take my ear out.  I retreat into silence, because, for me - this is more comfortable.
    I have another theory, though, on why this is such a torrid topic.  And this isn't an easy theory to recognize but in hindsight, it makes a whole lot of sense.  I am going to issue a trigger warning at this point...okay?
    When I was assaulted at seventeen years old, it happened at a party.  I was in someone's bedroom (it was not my attacker's house nor a fraternity house - it was simply someone else's 'folks-are-away-on-European-vacation-so-let's-have-a-rager' house) and my assailant had locked us inside that upstairs bedroom under the pretense of making a phone call to someone who could pick me up since my 'ride' was downstairs and drunk.
    Anyway, at one point after things had gone terribly wrong, I was pinned down on the floor, with him on top of me, methodically ripping away my soul.  It was after I had stopped fighting him - any previous attempts to cry for help were not heard nor recognized and the door remained locked for the duration of the assault.  And although I may not have understood it in the moment due to shock and eventual 'check-out', I'd later begin to realize why no one came.  It's because, through the floor, I could literally feel the blasting of the music playing downstairs.  This kid must have had top-of-the-line speakers and stereo equipment because it was the type of loud that one could barely hear themselves in, never mind someone in a bedroom upstairs.  My body (back mostly) vibrated along with the floors.  Surely, no one heard my feet and fists stomping on the floor.  No one heard me scream.  No one came to my rescue because NO ONE HEARD ME.  During that life-changing moment that I will never be able to associate without the presence of loud "noise," I lost not only a huge part of myself, but also the ability to see music as anything but bothersome as well as loathsome.
    And there you have it, friends - I want to think that although the hearing impairment is likely the primary culprit, that there is also that secondary reason why I won't open up my mind to music.  I just can't.  Yet, I've been known to jot down some poetry and I was constantly writing things down following the sexual assault.  These were my most common outlets.  Both of these are closely associated with songwriting and with creation.  But for me - there was no musical vision accompanying these words.  While another artist might be able to put 'noise' and lovely melodies to these words, all I can manage, is silence.  I am sure that music in general is a beautiful thing - yet, I can't help but associate it with something so ugly and heartless, cruel, cold.  And this is something I don't like about myself nor to admit about myself, especially since I know that for so many people, whether they are close to me or not, this is a STAPLE.  People have said they don't know what they'd do without their favorite music...for to them, it's comforting.  
    As I near the end of this post, I do want to put a little disclaimer here - that if you are one of those who gain comfort from music, I certainly do respect that - I just would never be able to understand it the way you do!  And in no way do I feel differently about any of my friends who love something I dislike so much - for I truly feel we all have our valid reasons for loving/hating something.  I just feel that unless you can effectively explain and comprehend what your own personal reasons are, then you're not justified.  (I don't know if this is even the right word or even fair to say - it's just a feeling I have when it comes to my own likes and dislikes, and it's, as expected, nearly 3am right now so I've surpassed the point of translucent thinking.)  
    I truly wish that this was different for me and that I were more open to reading song lyrics, 'feeling' the meaning behind them, etc, but this is not something I can do right now.  If this will ever be possible, I don't know, but I'm not in a hurry.
    But, to me, aside from not being able to hear it properly, music is simply just noise...and likely a triggering one.  
    I'm not sure if writing this blog entry will enable me to completely understand or even to answer this particular pressing question that from time to time plagues me at odd hours of the morning.  I'm not sure if it's even validation I seek.  Either way...I'll hope that this interpretation appeases Will Ferrell as I hobble over to the bed.  I've taken the swig a few minutes ago and am hoping that shortly, sleep, along with silence, will overcome my otherwise busy, insomniac brain.  I'm sure that in the next couple nights, Will shall be back and he'll be asking me (at 2am) if I've remembered to feed the Daughter's hermit crabs or if I've remembered to transfer the clothes from the washer into the dryer or I've paid a bill or emailed an aunt for her birthday.
    My best to everyone.  And, until next time, adios!
    - Capulet
  24. Capulet
    Hey, guys!  Me, again.  Did you miss me? 
    So...here's a question.  
    Have you ever gone on the same drive a million times?  It's usually something as simple as dropping a kid off at school or running to the store for a gallon of milk.  You know, it's a routine at this point...you take the same route, you know where to turn, you've nicknamed the landmarks/street signs/other distinguishing areas surrounding you so that while you navigate and drive, you can kind of 'reserve' some of your attention to scenery or to whatever else is on your mind.  Yes, you're behind the wheel, so you're actually paying attention but at the same time, you've gone into a sort of autopilot mode?  You get to your destination (store, pick up kid, bowling alley, etc) and snap back into reality, "gee, that was quick."  And then you also wonder how you got there in one piece without REALLY paying attention.
    That's been happening a lot, lately.  Especially since moving from city surroundings into the country.  There's just less traffic on the road, so I find it far easier to zone off into space while I drive.  
    What do I think about?  I don't even know.  Everything and nothing.  
    Like, the Son brought home his cap and gown on Friday last week.  That just makes me feel even older than I am.  I think about how I'm going to have to plan a party for him for both his graduation and his birthday, how I've got to soon deal with the pains in my ass that are my family and wonder what kind and what amount of drama I'm going to be faced with in the near future.  I ponder the daughter's continuing childish behavior; and of course, remind myself to check for feathers if she's recently been unsupervised.  I think about the bills, how we need to build back up our bank account some now that taxes were just due.  These little things come to mind when I'm in autopilot mode, I'm feeling my eyes get fuzzy, I'm yawning...I get the shit scared out of me when I run over the grooves in the road, because I'm so deep in thought sometimes. 
    And today, I almost drifted off to sleep on my way home from the store!
    We can blame it on the Mets, if we want.  They just finished playing the Padres in San Diego, so two games started at 10pm this past week.  But that's likely not going to hold, especially if you know what time I actually DO go to sleep on any normal night.  And J knows that I went to sleep an hour or two AFTER those games ended, because that was simply closer to my 'normal' bedtime, which is now between two and three in the morning. 
    *note the time of this blog's posting.  See what I mean?  
    I suppose I should eventually try and get to the bottom of my sleep disorder.  I think it's safe to call it a disorder at this point because it's simply not normal.  I can't say my sleep patterns have ever been normal.  
    Some of you already know about my (ridiculous) sensitivity to light.  I can also say many are amused by it because, well, it kind of IS funny when you think about it.  Me, covering up all the lights, or first getting comfortable in bed, only to whip the covers off and grab a stray t-shirt to cover that damn blinking light on the cable box, because I'll NOT be able to sleep unless I can't see that pesky little green light!  If it's not the cable box, it's J's phone - she sometimes wakes up in the morning and finds her cell phone covered with a sock. (There's only so much I can see in the dark so while rummaging around her side of the bed, that's usually what I come up with...so I apologize to my sweetheart if her phone ever mysteriously smells like feet in the morning...)
    That light  sensitivity BS started in childhood.  I would literally NOT sleep if one of my sisters needed a night light.  Or there was a hallway light on that I could see from underneath a closed door.  Nope.  Until that hallway light was turned off, I would feel as if I were underneath a spotlight.  If I could see anything in the room because of these little tiny (LED lights on phone, cable/tv lights) sources of illumination, then I think I knew they could also see me.  Now, I don't know how much sense this makes, because really, how is being able to see me sleep a threat?  It's something I never really put too much thought into.  I'm REALLY thinking, though, that the possible CSA I experienced (and don't remember) has added to the mystery surrounding my sleep, or lack of.
    I also used to sleepwalk as a child.  This began at age eight or nine and continued until I started high school.  Thankfully, it wasn't a frequent occurrence.  My parents witnessed it a few times, and I am sure that there were times when they, along with the rest of my family was unaware.  I remember wondering why I was "on the other side" of my bed when I'd wake up in the morning.  (I'd go to sleep with my head on my pillow and wake up with my feet on my pillow.  The pillow never moved, but I certainly did.)  Back then, though, during my high school years, I used to go to sleep during 'normal' hours; I'd bring myself up to bed at 10pm and sleep until morning with few issues.  I even recall sleepwalking when I was a teenager, but cannot recall any other incidents past the age of fifteen or sixteen.  
    I should add that upon reading up on somnambulism a bit on Wikipedia, I've also discovered I have RLS (restless leg syndrome)...I didn't know there was a name for that!  In order to go to sleep, or FALL asleep, in addition to the need for pitch blackness, I also have to be moving my leg/foot.  One leg is almost always dangling off the side of the bed and it's moving all the way up to the point until sleep finally consumes me.  
    Good God, I'm a hot mess, ain't I?
    And I'm a very, very lucky woman, because I've been sharing a bed for almost half of my life.  Thankfully, the wasband and J both sleep like logs and my sleepwalking, talking, shaking, whatever the hell else I'm doing whenever I'm supposed to be sleeping, had/has no effect on their rest.
    I'd later add to my growing list of sleep issues when I started college.  After being sexually assaulted (and yes, there I go again with the sugar-coated version of what happened to me in 1996...twenty-one years later,  the four-letter word beginning with 'R,' still makes me cringe.)  I had horrible nightmares whenever I slept too deeply, I felt unsafe while sleeping.  I suppose this part makes sense - when I'm sleeping, I'm not able to hear anything, not able to see anything (thanks to my issues with lights) and therefore, I felt even more powerless and less willing to just let myself sleep soundly.  I mean, how dare I sleep, when this would force me to relinquish any and all control over my body?  Yes, unfortunately, that was my mindset back then.  I avoided sleep by way of caffeinated drinks, sugary snacks and late-night computer sessions.  I think it's also safe to say this was when I got my 'autopilot's license.'  I zoned out during class and traveling through the campus from one class to another, driving back and forth to school, I stared and stared while sitting alone in the cafeteria or I was at home in the safety of my room - it didn't matter where I was, I'd always, ALWAYS find myself slowly losing focus, losing myself.  I'd also find myself "fuzzing" during regular day-to-day interactions with the small amount of friends I had.
    Then of course, I had a baby at 21.  When the wasband and I welcomed the Son, I was already used to functioning on less than four hours' sleep per night.  So, when my son was a colicky baby that didn't cooperate nor sleep when I wanted him to, forcing me to sit in the rocker with him until he did go back to sleep, I whittled my amount of rest down to 2-3 hours per night.  I eventually would crash from exhaustion, and once my demon child started sleeping through the night, I slowly got back up to four or five.  
    That all being said, let's fast-forward to me, now, my present self STILL has self-diagnosed insomnia.
    This is what I don't get, mainly.  I'm in a decent frame of mind.  I no longer fear sleep.  I'm not sure if 'fear' is the correct word, as over the years my attitude toward sleep has evolved.  On occasion and when I'm nothing short of burnt out, I find myself welcoming it.  Maybe it was fear in the beginning, which is certainly understandable and justified.  That was when I avoided sleep at all costs, I would tell myself I wasn't tired when deep down, I knew I was full of shit.  Today, I'm an adult, I'm raising two children, keeping up a house, running errands daily, and I certainly get tired.  I'm exhausted at midnight, yet, I don't retreat underneath the covers until two or three in the morning.  
    Explain that to me?!  Because I sure as hell can't explain this to myself!
    Sometimes I need the help of my trusty bottle of NyQuil; this will eventually steer me to the bed, especially on nights that I feel the most restless.  Like I would when I was a teenager and a young Mom, I still eventually crash - and when I do, I'll sleep all day if no one wakes me.  I take less than the normal dose - just a little swig to get my eyes fluttering.  That usually works.  I don't like feeling like a zombie in the morning, though.  
    But, anyway.  Like most of my other life questions, the answers will present themselves when it's time.  I know I need to learn how to just allow myself to adapt to healthier sleep habits, but I also have to work on my patience.  With myself and with life, because these so-called answers simply don't reveal themselves overnight. (See what I did, there?)
    Oh - before I go - today was scale day!  (You didn't think I forgot to update you all, did you?)
    I lost just a slight bit under a pound today.  I am now over 25 pounds smaller than I was when I started.  Yay, me!  As for the scale, it gets to live a little bit longer.  What did I do differently this week?  Had a glass of wine with a friend that I hadn't seen in years.  She brought a local sangria that we used to love throwing back together back in the day - she was passing through my area to get to an Expo and swung by on her way home.  We had pizza and wine and while I am sure I could have drank more, I stopped at one full glass.  Believe it or not, wine has points!  And then on Sunday, the Son prepared dual briskets for everyone at his father's house and invited me to dinner.  
    That's right, the wasband and I did SOMETHING right - I do think it's because the wasband (as lazy as he is and in attempts to relieve his miserable wife of extra household responsibilities) often places cooking responsibilities onto our son, but the result is a favorable one.  While the wasband and his wife were gone all day on Sunday, my seventeen-year-old chef-in-training seasoned and prepared via barbecue/smoker two beef briskets that were absolutely delicious and ready when they got home.  They sliced them thin and put them between two slices of extremely bready Italian, topped with coleslaw and pickles.  I skipped the pickles and coleslaw as well as the bread and enjoyed my son's meal with a knife and fork.  
    So - onwards to the next 25!  As always, will keep you all informed.  (whether you like it or not!)
    Hope everyone is doing as well as can be!  Will update again, soon.  My best to you all - and as always, thank you for reading.

    - Capulet
  25. Capulet
    As promised, your morning update following last night's novella.
    I'm smiling. 
    The scale is still alive, so if inanimate objects could smile, then the scale would also be smiling.
    Not only did I lose the pound I gained last week, I lost another on top of that!  I am now only a half pound away from my 25 pound goal!  Of course, I'm wanting to continue but 25 seemed like a nice number to set as a starting goal.  Almost there!!!
    I'm also pretty happy because not only did I have the steak dinner last week, I finished off a delicious gelati from Rita's.  My bowling friends wanted to celebrate the end of our bowling season and invited us to Rita's.  This place is certainly another one of my weaknesses.  Those frigging gelatis are to DIE for.  They put a layer of custard at the bottom, put a layer of italian ices (you pick the flavor), then top it off with another swirl of custard.  Oh, my GOD.  
    Each of those damn things is 19...yes, 19....points. (Oompa: "points!")
    They're closed in the winter, which is probably a good thing.  J and I have been known to go to the grocery store for ice cream in the dead of winter should we have a craving but since moving to Pennsylvania and enduring this past winter, ice cream is about as appealing as an ice bath.
    Rita's re-opens in the spring.  We were driving by it earlier in the week and upon seeing that it was now open for the spring and summer, I looked up how many "points!" a gelati was.  Nineteen.  UGH.
    SO I decided then and there, I'm going to reward myself ONCE per week with a vanilla custard/cherry ices gelati from Rita's.  I'll have to save up my weeklies, and will treat myself to Rita's if there haven't been any other slip-days in the week.  I think the fact that I had one last week and still lost over 2 pounds is yet another small victory; it tells me that I CAN treat myself.  I just have to be super cautious on the six other days.  
    So, that's it for now.  Hope everyone's day is marvelous.  Mine's started out wonderfully and I'm off to raid the fridge.  Eggs and toast actually sound GOOD right now.
     & ,

    - Capulet
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