Reverse Pride

Reverse pride isn’t humility.  Humility is humility.  Reverse pride is when you are prideful of the fact you aren’t better than anyone else.  We all know this idiom:

Pride goeth before the fall.

I didn’t think that really applied to me because I was on the floor, I would never be ‘worthy’ of the grace of God, to take part of the sacrifice Christ provided for me.  Which is why my thoughts when I do something less than Christ-like I hear, “It doesn’t matter, I’m going to hell anyway”  I wrote it off to self-esteem problems.  I’ve been reading a book called “The Miracle of Forgiveness” and in the beginning it talks about pride.  It talked about how pride is also telling God who/what/where/why anything that isn’t in your responsibility to change or judgement you can pass.  I realized in a moment of clarity I hadn’t just been telling myself I’m bad and unworthy but I’ve been telling Christ I’m bad and unworthy and the grace He secured with his blood isn’t going to save me.  EVERYONE will have a share of His grace, no matter what they’ve been in this life.  Life is eternal, growth is eternal, the Grace of Christ is eternal.  With this knowledge came the realization of there is absolutely nothing I can do about my future, well, other than be the best person I can be.  No matter how messed up I perceive myself to be.  I have no control, and I am not perfect and neither of those are within my grasp or prevue anyway so I’m trying to figure out how I can better utilize the time feeling like an eternal-bug-in-the-radiator kind of person.  I’m moving forward towards my future again, it’s nice.

This begs the question: Why do I feel this way?  I’m not a bad person (in comparison to like Hitler, Dahmer, and the ilk).  They’re going to receive grace.  I’m not ‘useless’ or a ‘waste of clay’.  Where do these thoughts come from?  Is it that sometimes when someone corrects you by calling you stupid, where every other time it just bounces off your psychic armor until one day the chink is displayed and you are mortally wounded?  I’ve called myself stupid most of the time when I do something wrong, from burning dinner and blowing a tire to stubbing my toe on something I’ve left on the floor.  I’m far from stupid.  I still compare myself to others and, yes, that’s wrong, but I’m finding out all the useless information I seem to gather has made me rather intelligent.  Not to be prideful, but my last IQ test (online) I hit in the high 120’s.  If I could do math it might be a little higher but I suck at math.  How can I be so easily fooled and so completely without guile that I would believe everything bad and evil that I am told both inside and outside my head?  The bigger question is, how to I seal up that chink so the darts of negativity aren’t hitting the pink flesh beneath?  I am correcting my thoughts when I become aware of them, I try to keep positive quotes handy on my phone, my notebook, my walls, but how can I paper the inside of my head with them?  Any suggestions?  Please share.

Crossing the Line

Sorry, I’ve been distant, silent even.  Mostly because I did something wonderful and it confused me.  Let me explain…..

I went on vacation with my family, it was a wedding onboard a cruise ship and we were invited to join the happy couple for the honeymoon.  We all had our own rooms of course.  I brought a long two books; one pleasure and one enlightening.  I chose the Enlightening book first.  Before the end of the first day at sea I grabbed my book and went up to the top deck, sunglass/reading glasses in hand and a hat and read.   Within the first ten pages I came across a statement (that I can’t quote because it’s not exactly what I read but what I needed to hear) to the effect of:

There comes a time when introspection becomes indulgent.

It struck me so perfectly at that moment and I realized, every aspect of me said it was time to move on and move forward.  There was nothing more I could do with the deep dives into who, what, and why that makes me who, what, and why I’ve become.  I needed to put myself out there and try to put into place what I have learned, to build on the foundation that I have laid and hopefully not have any dead bodies hidden in the cement.  At many points in life we need to stop and do the self evaluation/inventory/mind-tripping that helps us move to the next level, but I feel like I’m all caught up now….

Crossing that line, the invisible line between the two worlds instigated a miraculous change in my psyche: I’m happy, I’m hope-filled, I have more energy, I am making plans for my future and are anxiously waiting to put that plan into motion.  (Mom is still doing well, so things are still as they were).  Crossing that line also gave me the push I needed to start  whittling down my meds.  I’m off one of my anxiety pills completely, I’ve cut my Lexapro in half, I’m still taking all my puppy uppers (Welbutrin).

I don’t know if I’m ready to go down another 10mg on my Lexapro.  This last jump down brought up the realization that I don’t really have the skills that I thought I had when  I was fully medicated, and emotions are starting to break through the chemical barricades.  I’m getting caught in the angry loops, but I have more success of talking myself out of them before I spin out of control.  I get overwhelmed and stymied easily , but if I just plug away at it, it gets done.  I’ve had to put some exercises into place so I could deal with the mental stuff, one of those is writing every day.  Which brings me back to the confusion….

For the longest time I used this blog as an integral part of my self exploration.  Anything too private was taken care of in my journal, and I’m back to journaling now too, but if continual introspection is self indulgent, it’s not something I should be engaging in if I want to move forward in my life.  And I’ve made some major strides in my life from March to now, but I didn’t know if I should start a new blog post-depression to write all the plans and the executions with both successes and failures or if I should just continue here; or should I do it at all?  I miss it, so I need to keep doing it .  I found that blogging my personal truths out into the world is an act of courage and bravery that makes me feel more courageous and brave in the real world. I think it’s not self indulgent if it isn’t wallowing in the dark but instead sharing the joy and excitement of rediscovering my life now that I’m outside the void.

Any input from my readers would be helpful.  Please,

Entitled to Surrender

I’ve been looking for a definition that encompasses my meaning and feelings for the word entitled.  Microsoft wasn’t helpful, nor were the additional sites it sent me to.  Merriam Webster Dictionary  was accurate but didn’t quite go far enough.  I went to the Urban Dictionary and it was almost spot on but the language used on the site isn’t as refined as I would prefer it for my use here.  So, I’m going to give you my definition:

Entitled

The belief of when you are doing something that benefits the whole you should be compensated, taken care of and/or relieved from your efforts from time to time.

That said, I’ve been fighting with this concept all through the holidays.  It really hit home when my nephew gave his 18 month old nephew an iPad mini.  I’ve wanted one for like ever but I never have the money in hand at the best time to buy so I’ve just made due with my iPhone and my Kindle.  Honestly, this almost brought me to tears.  It shouldn’t but it did.  I feel like I’m completely forgotten by the outskirts of the family.  The Grandkids know what a handful their Grandmother is but as long as it doesn’t impact their schedule or cause them any hardship they deign to visit for an hour or so or call once every eclipse. [Don’t get offended, I’m not done yet.]  After I wiped the tears away about the give before anyone could see them, I started to get angry.  I’m doing all the heavy lifting both emotionally and a good portion of the time physically but the 18 month old is entitled to an iPad to help him learn his ABCs.   (I’ve got an opinion on that but it’s not suitable for this forum….I’ll have it on Psyche-Stew soon.  Then on top of all of this, my sisters have been pulling back and recognizing I need a break but only willing to dole it out in one to four hour increments.  I need a Freaking Vacation….one that doesn’t include Mom, or a massage, or even just a weekend away so I don’t have the constant static of the baby monitor hissing in my ear while I’m trying to sleep.  But mostly the recognize it but are too busy to do anything about it.

So, for kicks and giggles I sat down and figured out just what I feel I’m entitled to.  We have someone during the day to take care of Mom, which is very helpful for me. However, that leaves me with 18 hours a day M-F and 24 hours per day for the weekend when Mom is all mine.  I would want the three of us to rotate the weekends, for the sisters to come three to four times a week to spend time with Mom so she’s not completely glommed onto me all the time, help with cleaning the house and cooking [because, honestly, I suck at both]. send me to a spa on a regular basis and understanding when I reach out to them for help and/or support I don’t get a litany of the things they’re doing and a bright “Hang in there” before I hang up.

To sum it up, I want them to take over preferably all of the work and leave me with the praise and accolades I receive when people see me and I tell them what I do. Not much, really.  😉

NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO THAT.

The only thing I am entitled to is my life and my free agency.  Beyond that, if Iwant to be entitled to something Ihave to find it within myself to provide those accolades and care I crave.

That said…..

I surrender.

Merriam Webster got it right this time defining Surrender as:

Surrender

: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed

: to give the control or use of (something) to someone else

: to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you

I’m not talking about backing away from my commitment to my mother or to my family.  I’m not going to quit anything that I am already doing,  that is not an option unless I plan to surrender who I am entirely.  No, I mean I’m going to stop fighting with reality and waging a spiky-word warfare with unsuspecting siblings.  My life, for now, is to be here for Mom, and I can’t do that fully if I’m allowing unhelpful thoughts discourage me and distract me into thinking that I’m being taken advantage of by the whole family.  I surrender the  illusion of entitlement.  I realize everyone is doing the absolute most they feel they can do and I can’t ask, demand, or whine about them giving more.  I’m the one who volunteered for this, to be the caregiver, and I will continue to give until my service is complete  My choice.  My free agency.  And that is how it is for every persons life.  I know that kind of has an over tone of I’ll-show-them, but I’ll assure you it’s not.  I’m anxious to live my life, to get out and meet the oncoming trials head on and ready to wrestle them to the ground.  For the first time I think in ever I am going to put my needs (writing, meditation, mental health, etc.) before anyone else’s.  I will be my next caregiving opportunity, for that, I believe, I am entitled.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.

Mom and I hit the rocks, then the reef, then the iceberg over the weekend.  One realization that came from it was startling, sorta dream-crushing and it needs to go through the journal process before I can share coherently.  Sorry.  The other realization is that I can’t make my mother have a happy end of life.  I can’t do it for her, I can’t ease her from her dystopian state into the station where she believes she belongs.  It’s not my job to make those choices for her.  It’s like trying to have a pet polar bear in Phoenix, just isn’t going to end well.  I will be there to help her with her choices, of course, but I’m no longer going to foist them on her.

The fight was bad, things were said, apology made but we’re still dancing around each other not sure when the other one is going to launch the next salvo of words to try and destroy the other.  Neither of us willing to admit we love the other, and there are moments when she talks to me and I wonder if I still do.  I guess I do, I haven’t called the Shady Pines to come and take her away.  She hasn’t called the police to report me for elder abuse, so I guess we are still on an even keel.

What I don’t really like about myself in this fight is the war in my head of how to behave.  I don’t want to be mean to her, yet I think bad things, and wish I had the wherewithal to do what I imagine.  I get too much pleasure out of calling her bluff and watch her try and squirm away from the consequences.  For example she believes I don’t love her because I won’t dust my room or clean the birds cage on a more regular basis because of her allergies.  So, I’m sending Sammy away to my sisters to live for a while.  My reasoning is two fold, I want the feathers that stay aloft in the air for hours, the one she breathes in, to settle down and to see how well she improves and to, mostly, call her bluff.  I won’t let her use my parrot as a wrench in her manipulation toolbox.

It’s those words, the mean words, that I want to get away from.  I know I’m angry right now and I’m working hard to keep my head from swimming in the anger and frustration.  When I start getting angry I start deep breathing and chanting in my head, but that’s ameliorating the symptoms, not ripping out the foundation of them so I can build anew.  I’m at a loss of how to do this though.  How do you plug the holes and snip off the pour spout of the venom in your brain in favor of peace, love, and …YIKES…I sound like a hippie!!  I don’t want to feel the bile bubble up or the desire for revenge or strut the I’ll-show-you posture any longer.  Part of me is hoping this declaration will be enough, that making the choice to do so will be all I need to do to become that loving, peaceful zen-like person…..I guess that is my circus and one of the many monkeys that are on my back.  Reality sucks, and it’s hard work.  Maybe I should rethink the hippie thing.

Honest Gratitude

I’m not alone, for the longest time I thought I was the only one in my peer group that was stuck inside the void.  Of course I had isolated myself to the point that I was the only one I saw mostly and honestly, I was ignoring me.  I shrunk away from all the love at church because I didn’t want them to know, but I knew they knew, and I was interpreting their love as pity.  I knew they knew because years ago for an essay in my genealogy class, Mom telling people to get sympathy for the heavy burden I am to her, and I’m pretty sure it’s written across my face most of the time.  But to face them, to accept their love, to say “I’m doing well” when they I was lying made me just want to stay home, so I did.

I’ve been going back to church, and I’m hoping to make it a life-long habit from here on out.  I’ve been listening to the topics of conversation, the messages between the topics and I’ve found that a lot of people that appear so happy, as if they have everything they want/need/desire are getting sucked in, stuck in the void that I’ve been in.  The insidious nature of the void is that it is a palpable darkness that your eyes are for all intensive purposes blind.  No one calls out encouragement while they’re in there because no one wants to be found or helped or comforted because we don’t deserve it.  Or, so’s my experience.  The darkness can be a blinding light to some, a red ethereal heat, or a frigid cold that burns to the touch but it is our own hell.  The trouble with having your own personal hell is that no one can help you decorate it because they can’t see it.  But they want to do something to “brighten” things up to help you.  People brighten up your hell just by being there, not by making you explain and explain and explain how things are working inside your head only for them to look at you and honestly say “I don’t get it.  Why can’t you just make up your mind to get over it?”  For me, when someone would say that, I’d want to scream and throw things at them…preferable food that stains or smells bad.

This time around, hopefully my last time around, I’ve been honest.  I’ve been truthful with people when a question is asked that I am capable to answer from my experience.  I can’t address their experiences directly because I don’t know them.  It’s like having someone explain how salt tastes to them without using the word salty.  It can be done, but it’s really hard to know the words you need to describe it.  By being honest about my depression, I’m hoping to rip the mask off the face of depression and stare at my own face and not be ashamed, to abolish the stigma from you, your family, your friends and those that just think you should get over it.  Knowing you aren’t alone, even though your experience is unique, the concept of depression is ubiquitous is a comfort to some, a sympathetic pain to other and a reality the world needs to accept, understand and get over their issues about it.

To be honest, I’m so grateful for this depression, this time around.  (yes, that’s probably the meds talking).  What I’m grateful for is the opportunity I’ve gotten to stitch the tear, rebuild the destroyed and fix the broken so I don’t end up here again.  I’m not sure that I won’t.  I’m still very easily sent of kilter if something happens or my plans are upset in any way, but I balance out faster, I gather my strength and I push forward.  Honesty and gratitude seem to be working hand-in-hand for me.  I think I need to stop using this site as a pity party on ePaper and start using it to be grateful, honest and helpful for others.  It’s just figuring out how to do that and making the time for it and not using it as a way to hide from the issues I’m dealing with

Stay tuned, boys and girls, it looks like things are going to change (for the good, I hope)…….

Once Bitten…..

There is a scripture that talks about a child being able to put his hand in the den of asps and not be harmed.  This of course is Isaiah divining the peaceable kingdom to come.  I know we aren’t living in the time of peace and harmony so why do I still stick my hand out to be bit every time I talk to Mom?  She is convinced that I truly do not earn my keep, at least not the $12.33 an hour I’m supposed to work for her.  I’m working from home today and she’s already planned blood draw and then her social worker is coming over which will more than use up the allotted time I’m supposed to work per day to “earn my money”  but it’s not cleaning house, it’s not doing her laundry, it’s not feeding her birds, it’s not slaving for her.  She wants unconditional love, unconditional devotion, and unconditional willingness to be kicked in the gut when she needs someone to hurt as much as she does so she has the illusion of control and doesn’t feel alone.  Where I want to hurt myself in those situations she wants to hurt other people.

I know that, I’ve know that she’s angry and scared and is having problems adjusting to the inevitable.  I know this then why is it it hurts and tears at me when she says things like “Well, it’s not like you’re earning your money.  I could probably cut your hours back so K can work full time”.  I know she needs and wants to keep me on “the payroll” because she’s afraid that if I didn’t need my medical so desperately, I would quit her and leave her alone to die.  I think that’s what she has always expected her whole life, that she would die alone because her family doesn’t love her, that she is unlovable.  She’s convinced herself her parents and siblings hated her, and if even half of what she has told me is true, it is probably the root cause of all this, her husbands have abused her, cheated on her (or so her expanding memory keeps telling her), her grandkids (except for one) hate her and she doesn’t know why, I’m only here for the money and benefits.  I can’t seem to change her mind on that.

The bright side to all of this is the medications are working.  I know they are because I’m not ranting about her, knowing that if I keep going on and on about how I do my job would send me into an emotional maelstrom and I would dwell on it for hours if not days.  I might still pick it up from time to try to figure out what do but I’m able to divert my thoughts when I realize I’m starting to spin before I’m out of control.  Amazing what happens when you take your pills every day.

The angry person that I am wants to tell her what she can do with her $12.33 and comprehensive benefits and put them somewhere the sun doesn’t shine.  But honestly I couldn’t afford to pay for COBRA and also lose the pittance of a paycheck that I get from my second job.  Heaven knows I’m not able to afford everything else with my first job.  Pushing the anger aside I’ve been able to think clearly enough and realize that going without medical is no longer an option in the US, and ways have been provided to help those of us who can’t make their ends meet.  So, what this means to me is that I don’t have to work for her any more, I can be her daughter, do what I am emotionally and physically able to do for her and take back the control I need for my own sanity.  I know, I know, control is an illusion, no one has control.  Despite that, I need to protect myself as much as possible as she starts to deal with her own end-of-life issues I want to be there with her and I want to help her and prepare her but not at the expense of my own sanity.  If anyone is going to drive me over the crazy cliff it will be me.  I am the mistress of my own fate.

So this gives me a whole new list of things to do:

  1. Contact Covered California for help in figuring out the system (done)
  2. Get the cost of COBRA
  3. Sign up for VHP but not on Medi-Cal.
    • Medi-Cal patients are treated differently than VHP participants.
  4. Assign my hours over to K and then quit my job as Mom’s “caregiver” and then start taking care of her as her daughter.

I doubt she’ll stop trying to hurt me, but at least she might have to think twice because I’m not getting paid to be her personal walking and talking Damnit Doll.

The Best Laid Plans…….

Okay, here’s the sitch with not going to school this semester.

After Mom’s little tirades and big tirades about how I wasn’t earning my keep, how everyone keeps a 40 hour a week job and comes home and cooks dinner, does a load of laundry or two and then cleans and picks up after themselves……then swinging over to I’ll be too scared with you sleeping in a camp site with a knife for protection, they’ll just take it away from you and slice you open.  They enjoy stuff like that…..You don’t care about me.  I’m afraid I’m going to die alone and even with you here, you can’t even be helpful to me for that…..  I’m going to stop now, my head is starting to hurt.  Even with all her blustering I was set on going to school.  I figured if I could work from home on Thursday, my sister coming in the evening to take care of her I could skip the traffic and nap before class and then with chemical aids like 5 hr. energy and soda I should be able to stay awake on the way home and not have to stay at the state park.  Easy peasy.  She wasn’t going to talk me out of going to school because she was scared.  I was kind of looking forward to being that close to the beach to hear it in the morning when I got up.

I talked to my bestest friend in the world and she just simply said “There are too many moving parts to that plan to work well,” and I realized she was right.  I think if she said the exact same thing as what my Mom said I probably would have listened to her.  Yes, that sounds like an immature reaction on my end, but I know my BFF wants what’s best for me whereas my Mom just wants whats best for her, so I don’t trust any of her advise.  I realize that is part of her narcissism, and I know in some ways she can’t control it.  She has to realize something is wrong with herself before she can start changing, and she will never see the error of her ways.  So after more thought and prayer and thinking as to what I could do to move my plans forward if I didn’t attend school.

So here’s the plan:

  1. I pay for my Continuing Education Credits
  2. I study and pass the test
  3. I pay the money and fill out the form
  4. I get my certificate back

With my certificate in hand by January, I will be able to look for a blood letting job and sign up for the online course for medical terminology and put on my resume that I know my education wasn’t very accredited but I am going to an accredited college that will teach me the right stuff, and by being so proactive in my education it will make me look like a good egg.  Everyone wants good eggs, bad eggs smell to high heaven, and even if you get rid of them their odor lingers for days/weeks/months to come.

One thing I found out while researching state parks for California.  They have a special pass for the disabled.  You pay $2.50 for the form processing and then you get 1/2 off your cost for camping and day use of the park.  I looked at there definition of “disability” and depression is one of them.  I realize that as things are getting better for me in that arena I will need to apply for it soon while I’m still in this maelstrom of emotions.  I want to start camping.  Glamping for longer times in the wilderness, but camping for weekends anyway.  I can afford that, it might be all that I will be able to afford for vacations in my life so I might as well embrace it now and get the stuff that I want and need for the wilderness experience.

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