My Story – Part 13 (Chaos Reviewed)

Continued from My Story – Part 12

I spent the last few years putting together a timeline of my life experiences and the last year writing out My Story here in order to make sense of everything that happened in my life and in an attempt to process the emotions attached to each event. I analyzed my inability to keep a job and maintain a stable lifestyle to the point of obsession. I struggled the entire 5 years that I received Social Security benefits to justify my need for them. I questioned the validity of my illness and berated myself for not trying harder. As the stigma of mental illnesses became a talking point for political bureaucracy, the voices of so many people commenting on social media and articles about the misuse of social services ran through my mind, saying things like, “Why can’t you just keep a job?” Or, “You need to try harder.” Or, “You’re just lazy.” It’s very difficult not to take things like this personally when I’ve struggled with mental illness for the majority of my adult life and heard friends, family members, and even professionals in the mental health field say those exact same things to me. The hopelessness of realizing that my life is somehow worth less because I haven’t figured out how to live in a world of chaos is devastating.

As more and more people spoke out about the traumatic consequences of having experienced rape and sexual assault, it became clear to me that the sickening display of public ignorance surrounding these tragedies is most certainly a contributing factor for the “rape culture” in which we live. The lack of compassion and victim blaming that occur in our society should give each of us reason to pause and question how our morals are serving us or if they are at all. It is with profound sadness and intense anger that I struggle to understand a callous society that feels so alien to me. A society that re-victimizes those who have already experienced horrible victimization through the criminal acts of rape and sexual assault by shaming victims when they are most vulnerable rather than placing that shame and blame where it belongs — on those who committed the crime of rape.

The effects of constant chaos in my life continued for years — one thing after another after another. I never knew what I was feeling because there wasn’t time to reflect. Much of the time everything felt so unreal that time no longer had meaning. I simply had TOO much life to process in TOO short of a time! In the years after I was raped, I had numerous other encounters of a sexual nature that tested my strength to survive. Maybe it was my naivety or maybe it was just plain stupidity on my part, but I was easily taken advantage of. For some reason, I have a knack for getting myself into situations that have serious detrimental effects on my emotional well-being and my ability to function as others do.

All types of relationships are extremely difficult for me, whether it’s family, peers, or intimate relationships. There’s a point of contention where most people would say that I don’t put forth the effort in which to “maintain relationships.” While I acknowledge some truth in this statement, I would also point out that most, if not all, people struggle with exactly the same thing. Out of sight, out of mind takes on a very literal meaning for me when so many people I was once close to told me to basically “buck up and get over it” during some of the most traumatic experiences of my life.

I’m like a feral animal who’s been kicked one too many times.

Trust most certainly does not come easy for me. It was for this reason that seeking therapy this last time was so terrifying. It took every ounce of courage I had in me to seek out help. I continue to reject the notion that psychiatric medication is necessary in the treatment of severe mental illnesses. I acknowledge that these medications might prove beneficial to some people, even life-saving as some would say; but for me, they were completely worthless, often more damaging than helpful. Therefore, I will continue to refuse medication. I did, however, accept therapy and case management. I still remain leery of therapy which, perhaps, hinders any progress as a result. Therapy is a slow process, one that I question relentlessly. I’m still not convinced that it “helps.” Or maybe I just haven’t found the “right” therapist for me.

Now, I doubt I will ever know because I simply don’t have it in me to start over with yet another new therapist. After a year and 4 months, my therapist and I parted ways, rather abruptly this past week. I’m still trying to process this sudden end, so I’m not really sure what I should say about it. I think my defenses went up when my therapist commented on the fact that a lot of my issues are financial in nature; so I should get a job, something I’ve heard so many times from so many people. If only it was that easy. I could have been a real smart-ass and said, “Well, nah-fuckin’-duh!” But I didn’t. Honestly, I’m not really sure what my response was other than maybe stunned silence. I simply don’t remember.

He asked a simple question, “What are your goals for this year?” I couldn’t answer. I have no idea. I really wanted to scream at him (but didn’t). If I could answer questions like that, maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have sought therapy to begin with! Then, he asked what my goals for therapy are. Yeah, same reaction — complete shut down. All I remember is the argument going on in my brain for me to SHUT UP! when I tried to fill the awkward silence by voicing my concerns again that therapy is a waste of time. And before I knew it, he was handing me his business card, telling me to email him when, for all intents and purposes, I was ready to actually “talk.” He literally said, “The ball’s in your court.” As if this, my life, is some sort of petty, manipulative game.

If the ball is in my court, I choose NOT to play the fucking game!!! Perhaps, by simply making that statement or writing about any of this publicly is indeed “playing the game;” but I take a very literal approach to my life, no-nonsense. I hate drama in real life. It feels like a waste of time. Drama is for television and fiction novels at best, just as games are for people who feel competition is a necessary part of life. The two go hand in hand and are part of the illusion that creates suffering.

I’m left wondering, “What the hell is wrong with me?!” The same question that has plagued me since early childhood.

I took his card. I left in silence without saying a word. I was livid; but more so, I was hurt. As I drove home in my car, I cried the tears triggered by a deep sorrow — despair that I may never heal, despair that I’m left to face it all alone yet again. One of my favorite parks in the area was on the way home; so I decided to stop at the last-minute to go for a walk and try to clear my mind. Nature walks typically quiet my thoughts to a more manageable level. Considering it was only 33° that day and I was wearing dress shoes rather than my usual hiking shoes, it may not have been the best idea; but I needed to test a theory.

Safely back home, I cried more. I vented to KR when he got home from work. I vented to my case manager the next day. The thought occurred to me that I should quit case management as well, but that small part of me whispered, “No, not yet.” Maybe my case manager is right. Maybe I would benefit more from a life coach rather than a therapist, but part of me feels that too much from my past still affects my conscious mind and interferes with my ability to move forward. I don’t know how to process any faster. I can only grow from that which I understand, at the pace my brain allows me.

The echoes of my past are as jumbled a mess as ripples on a lake, as hard to decipher as a nightmare in heavy sleep.

I’m convinced that depression is a grieving process — stuck grief. Most people don’t give themselves enough time to grieve losses, myself included. When we push away that grief by carrying on as always, it prolongs the grief. Having lost a lot in my life, I wonder if I will ever properly process all of the emotions that I fight to this day, particularly when the emotions themselves trigger such a strong flight response that I simply check-out for a while. It’s usually when I’m most stressed and depressed that I end up isolating myself the most. The majority of the time, I just want to be left alone. Solitude has been my one saving grace. However, it has its price as well. I meant for therapy to be my “reality check,” to assist me in coming to terms with my chaotic past. Sometimes, I need help in gauging what is rational and what is irrational. The anxiety that I feel daily as a result of this constant second-guessing is equally chaotic and overwhelming. Is it really too much to ask for one person who is willing to help me remain grounded, to help me recognize what so often I cannot — that I’m slipping too far down the rabbit hole?

I don’t know what the future holds or if I will ever be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, let alone successfully maintain employment. The only conclusion I have made from all of this self-reflection and introspection is that I am flat-out exhausted. My life is a minute-by-minute struggle on a daily basis to keep my head above water. I’m tired of bottling everything up. I’m tired of having no one to talk to about this incredibly difficult time in my life. I’m tired of feeling worthless. I’m tired of second-guessing everything I say.

And most of all, I’m tired of remaining silent.

This is my chance to tell my side of the story.


~ Finitoque ~

This is where I will end The Story of My Life (for now, maybe). It’s seems only fitting to end it where therapy ends. I apologize for the length and redundancy in parts. For those of you who remained loyal in reading My Story and those who stopped by for a briefer glimpse into my crazy world, my bizarre reality —

I thank you sincerely and wish you all the best. 

My Story – Part 10 (My Relationship with KR)

Continued from My Story – Part 9 (Relationships with Family)

When I began this blog at the beginning of the year, that very first post, The Year Rang In Like A Cyclone, described an atypical experience from mine and KR’s relationship, at least atypical up until that point. First, a little background info:

My current boyfriend and I met online back in 2000 while I was attending college. I’ve referred to him as KR in “My Story” and here. Quick recap since I didn’t go into much detail about our relationship in that post: We went on our first date in July 2000, and he moved in with me the following December. We dated for a little over a year and a half that first time we were together. The reasons for our break-up in March 2002 were complicated. I felt completely overwhelmed at the time and could feel myself slipping into a deeper depression. I had just been hospitalized for the fifth time at a psychiatric hospital. While I was in the hospital, he moved us out of my apartment and in with a friend because I could no longer pay my rent. In retrospect, this move was the final straw for me that caused me to break up with him at that time.

However, KR and I remained close friends even after the break-up and talked occasionally. In November 2006, I was facing homelessness again. KR offered to take me in when no one else would. I accepted, and we’ve been together for a little over 7 years this time [our 8 year anniversary is coming up in a few days]. I’m not going to say that it’s been any easier this time than the first time because each of us has our own issues that cause us to struggle financially as well as emotionally. I don’t blame KR for this any more than I blame myself. Placing blame does absolutely no good. I accept that our struggles are part of who we are, that the person he is and the person I am does the best we can in order to survive.

After I moved in with KR in November 2006, he became my rock, the one person I felt I could trust and depend on. He became the person who could bring me back to reality when I felt it slipping away. Even with all of my issues, he stuck by me through everything. Even after our relationship ended in March 2002 and we went our separate ways, he was there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on. With his help, love, and support, life for me became a little more stable during that first year and a half we were back together. We had our fair share of ups and downs during that time, but I finally found some breathing space to begin processing some of the chaos that I lived through for so many years.

When KR was fired from where he worked in May 2008, this triggered many of the same worries and insecurities that caused so many of the problems I struggled with previously. Lack of money and financial stress are a recurring trigger throughout my life. KR losing his job was a devastating blow. Like I said in an earlier post, the money I received from SSD benefits barely covered my student loan payments and child support. At the time, I had also received part of an inheritance from the sale of my grandmother’s farm; but I knew I had to make that money last for as long as I possibly could to cover my share of the expenses.

Another disaster struck in December 2008 when a fire broke out in the apartment above ours. Thankfully, most of our belongings were fine, even the electronics; but our apartment sustained heavy water damage, particularly in the kitchen area. A large portion of my inheritance money was spent to secure a new place for us to live and for moving expenses. We ended up moving into a different apartment complex, another gated community, right across the street from our old apartment. This was my second favorite apartment that I have ever lived in (it would have been my first favorite, but nothing beats living in Hawaii). This apartment was beautiful! Perfectly set up, a gorgeous kitchen, and even a screened in patio for our cats (and me) to get some fresh air. For the first time in my adult life, I felt contentment in that apartment. However, the constant sirens (we lived right next to a hospital) and the occasional gun shot were enough keep my nerves on edge.

KR remained out of work until October 2009. We survived on that first portion of my inheritance money until it was all gone. KR finally accepted work through temp agencies; but money was tight. Fear began taking over my life. I was terrified of losing everything again. I had already become increasingly fearful of leaving our apartment due to several incidents I experienced while riding the bus and during bus transfers downtown; but by this point, I rarely, if ever, left our apartment without KR’s company. He was my “safe” person.

Maybe it was the stress of travelling to my mom’s for the first time after so many years or being around other people for the first time after a long period of social isolation; but a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving 2009, I ended up sick, very sick. More than likely, it was the H1N1 virus that was going around at the time. I never went to a doctor. We couldn’t afford it. Delirious from fevers that spiked to 103° at night, I lost an entire week that I have no memory of. KR said there was at least a couple of nights that he thought he would have to throw me in a tub of ice water. The care and nurturing KR showed me during that illness were proof enough to me of his gentleness, devotion, and love.

Financially, things were getting dire by around May 2010. Rent was due and we didn’t have it. We were desperate for a solution. KR’s dad and step-mom, who had only recently reconnected with him around Christmas 2009, lived in Cookeville, TN. His dad wasn’t in good health, and I think he wanted KR nearby to mend their broken relationship before he died. (KR, as well as his siblings, suffered physical and emotional abuse by their dad and step-mom; but that’s his story to tell, not mine.) Since KR wasn’t having much luck finding a permanent job in Nashville, he stayed a few days there with them to check on jobs and housing. Then, Nashville flooded and he couldn’t get home for another couple of days (it was a bad flood!). On May 8th, 2010, we moved to Cookeville, TN.*

*I understand that this tidbit of information may give away my identity since I’m probably one of very few people who actually blogs in the Cookeville area — a little cross-referencing between my 2 blogs would give it away; but at this point, I’m less concerned about anonymityThis is, after all, my story; and I shouldn’t be ashamed to tell it. — With that being said, should you discover who I am, I ask that you, please, be respectful.

I liked the Cookeville area from the start. It reminded me a lot of my hometown, but they rival each other in beauty. I’m much more comfortable in a rural setting like this than a concrete jungle like Nashville. In that respect I was more in my element, but the new-found obligations to KR’s family stirred up quite a whirlwind for more than a year. I wasn’t accustomed to being around other people. I felt incredibly nervous and socially awkward, probably due to the prolonged isolation. Often, I found myself overwhelmed, shutting down from over-stimulation. It took me quite a while to work into somewhat of a routine to feel more at ease with my surroundings.

After KR’s dad passed away at the end of January 2011, KR’s step-mom was lost. Her grief consumed her. Later that year, she moved back to their hometown in Michigan where the majority of KR’s family still live. KR mourned the loss of his father in his own way while pretty much denying that it affected him at all. I’m sure that his dad’s death stirred up a lot of his own childhood insecurities because it was around this time that I first noticed changes in our relationship — nothing concrete, only an intuitive feeling that something was off.

That “feeling” was paralleled in our homelife. When we first moved into that old, decrepit trailer more than 4 years ago, we had no idea we would be stuck there for so long. It was only meant to be a temporary housing solution. In the beginning, we tried very hard to make the best of it and get along with our neighbors despite their odd behavior. For the most part, we did get along with them for the first couple of years. Oddly enough, you’d be surprised what you can get used to; but increasingly over the years there, our neighbors’ behavior became stranger and more bizarre as the living condition of both trailers on the property deteriorated.

I’ve written extensively about that trailer KR and I lived in prior to us moving this past June; so feel free to read any of the following posts from the last few months for a better understanding of what KR and I dealt with while living at our previous address:

  • Life Just Keeps Coming At Me 
  • Gunshots, Sirens, and Panic 
  • The End of Silence 
  • NO Trespassing 
  • Shattered 
  • The Roof Is On Fire

I’m so thankful to be out of that deplorable living situation. That rental was absolutely in worse shape than any place I have ever lived; and I’ve lived in a number of “bad” rentals over the years. I’m fairly certain that it was the reason for many, if not most, of mine and KR’s most immediate problems. While the move did our relationship a world of good, I find myself worried about KR’s recent moodiness over this past year. Many of our issues have been there for much longer, especially those concerning sex and the fact that I’ve been unemployed for more than 9 years. These are issues I’ve coped with my entire adult life; so I guess, that makes them more my issues than his.

I love KR with all my heart. I can imagine growing old with him. I want to grow old with him. Despite all of the struggles we’ve been through together, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would do it all again because there have been more happy times, more good times, than bad. It’s all the little things that I’m so thankful for. Things like:

  • Playing video games together into the wee hours of the morning.
  • KR making me sit through everything Monty Python because it’s just silly. 
  • Watching every episode of Star Trek: the Original Series together… and Star Trek: the Next Generation… and Star Trek: Voyager… and Star Trek: Enterprise… (we will make it through DS9 eventually) because Gene Roddenberry’s reality was so much more hopeful than our own.
  • Lying on a blanket on the ground during a neighborhood black-out, side-by-side, star-gazing.
  • Any of the hiking excursions we’ve taken, especially the one on my son’s birthday in 2012 because KR knew I was having a rough time and needed to “get away” for the day.
  • During our move from Nashville to Cookeville, I became so overwhelmed that I lashed out during a meltdown. KR safely restrained me, patiently holding me until I calmed down. (In my opinion, there’s no greater love than a person who can do this for another person without losing his temper.)
  • KR writing love messages on the bathroom mirror so that they “magically” appear after a shower.
  • KR leaving me with a kiss every day before work (even if I’m still sleeping).
  • KR painting my toenails because I impatiently make a mess of it and paint my whole toe!
  • The fact that he tries to understand me, my thoughts, my triggers as I try to understand his.

These are only the first 10 things that popped into my head. These are the types of memories I want to focus on, remember, because they are far more important to me. Emotionally triggered arguments that feed off of our insecurities only have power when I give in to the parts of me that obsessively ruminate over past resentments and perceived maltreatment. Perhaps, a few of those perceptions are justified; but it does our relationship no good to concentrate on negativity when the positive aspects of our life together suffer as a result. My continued goal for this relationship as it has been for the past 8 years is to focus on the positive.

Most of the time that’s easier said than done, but nothing worth doing was ever easy.

To be continued….

My Story – Part 9 (Relationships with Family)

Continued from My Story – Part 8 (The Relationship with My Son)

I grew up believing that it was unacceptable to express sadness, hurt, disappointment, frustration, or anger toward anyone or anything that provoked these emotions in me. For that reason alone, resentment built to an intolerable level that fueled my “running away from home” at the age of 19 when I married so young. I was never great at communicating with my family. None of us were. From an early age, I often felt as though I lived in a house of complete strangers who occasionally interacted. Sure, we watched TV together, ate dinner together every night, took trips together, and occasionally had fun as a family; but I often felt like something was missing.

It was like that emotional bond that’s supposed to be there between family members had simply been severed or nonexistent to begin with. No words could really explain it. No matter how hard I tried to make my family proud of me, it just never seemed to be enough. This felt like an impossible task after 1998. I felt like a colossal disappointment after that. I often felt like I did as a child, helpless to stand up for myself against an indifferent family whose expectations were completely contradictory to my own. It took years of therapy and a lot of distancing for me to realize that I’m not here to please my family. I have to make my life count for me.

As I discussed earlier, when I left Tullahoma in 2005, the feelings of rejection and invalidation I experienced at that time strained the relationships with my mother and sister. This was during a period in my life that I was struggling immensely, financially and emotionally. I asked to come home to stay, to live, if for no other reason than to have the emotional support of my family, but also to be closer to my son so that I could be involved in his life. I was told ”no” by both my mother and sister. Mom said she didn’t have the room for me and my sister simply said that I should stay where I was and work out my own problems. I felt rejected, abandoned — an abandonment that I felt so often growing up.

If you could ask anyone in my family, immediate or extended, they would probably tell you that I was an emotional child who demanded nothing less than to be left alone (little has changed in that respect). I remember on more than one occasion either a cousin or my sister would intrude on my “alone time” and bear the brunt of an almost cat-like attack, all claws and screams of rage followed by no less than 15 minutes of bawling my eyes out. These types of meltdowns early in life resulted in my exasperated mother silencing me often with the phrase, “Dry it up!” Nevertheless, by at least mid-way through kindergarten I had learned to control these fits of rage through self-soothing or completely dissociating from my emotions.

Dissociation, of course, is a less than ideal way to handle emotions; however, for the immature mind of a child, it allowed me to cope with emotions and situations that felt completely overwhelming and out of control. To this day, I couldn’t tell you why I so often felt overwhelmed or out of control, just that I did. In most cases, my emotional outbursts as a child were simply too difficult for anyone in my family to process or manage much of the time which left me feeling ignored — abandoned — and fueled resentment that I had no idea how to process myself — a vicious cycle.

The rejection of my pleas for help in 2005 triggered these same feelings and a response that I recognize now as all too familiar, reciprocating rejection. It resulted in me staying out of my mother’s and sister’s lives for the majority of 4 years, only speaking to Mom occasionally by phone. Emails between my sister and me in 2007 were harsh and bitter which strengthened the divide between us. She expressed her own resentment in emails, stating that I was never around when she needed help with either our mother or our father before he died and how stressed she had been that she had to do everything herself while caring for her own family and working a full-time job.

I understood that my sister was stressed and feeling overwhelmed with everything. I know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed as that feeling has been a constant throughout my life. It’s most certainly not pleasant. She at the very least had most of Mom’s brothers and sisters there to help out and all of her friends to help her cope, as well as her husband and his family. For much of my adult life, I felt completely alone in my struggle to survive; but at the time of these emails, I had one person, KR, who I felt I could trust, count on — and no one else. When you’ve been kicked enough times by people you care about, trust in people no longer comes naturally. I needed her to understand that I had my own stuff to deal with and take care of. I felt like she completely disregarded anything that was going on in my life, considered my struggles insignificant and trivial to her own.

My sister once told me, “I feel like you feel like everyone owes you for something.” At the time I told her that no one owed me a god damned thing and that I didn’t expect anything from anyone else. I didn’t. I knew I was on my own and had been for more quite some time. Maybe I was wrong, though. Now, I feel like I am “owed” certain things. I deserve validation for my emotions. I’m justified in the expectation of compassion and understanding for my experiences. I’m entitled to respect for my boundaries. And I have the right of dignity to live my life any way I see fit without the added pressure of being someone I’m not. These concepts are hard for me to grasp, but I want to have enough self-respect to know when not to sacrifice my own well being for that of others. (Let me clarify here by saying: I don’t expect these things; but I feel I and every other living creature on this planet deserve these things in order to transcend spiritually and live in a civilized society.)

After those emails, we didn’t speak at all until around mid-July 2009 when, out of the blue, my sister called to tell me our mother was in the hospital. A week after that phone call, she called again demanding that I come home to take care of Mom while she recuperated (by this point, I no longer saw East Tennessee as my home; it hadn’t been “home” for more than 17 years).

My best guess is that agoraphobia began taking control of my life as early as May or June 2008. I rarely if ever left our apartment at all, sometimes for a couple of months at a time.

My mother has a lot of health issues from heart problems to Type II diabetes; but this hospitalization was due to bacteria in her stomach causing problems. Since I didn’t own a car at the time, I had to take a bus from Nashville to Knoxville where my sister picked me up. I stayed with Mom after she was released from the hospital for 2 weeks. Traveling in this way as well as the visit itself was stressful; but I felt that I handled it well despite the severe anxiety I felt.

It was a challenge to push the thoughts and memories out of my mind of comments family members said to me during my divorce and after the rapes and throughout my pregnancy with the child I gave up for adoption, let alone the hurt from 2005. Many of these comments made by family members were some of the worst I heard and only confirmed my childhood beliefs that I was worthless and bad. During that visit in 2009, both Mom and my sister simply ignored that they rejected my calls for help in 2005. Typical.

After Mom said she was feeling better, I became antsy to return home, back to Nashville. I stayed as long as I felt I could. The weekend that I decided to come home she was doing well or so I thought. The following Monday she had a doctor’s appointment to have blood work done. Apparently, she took all of her medications on an empty stomach and became violently ill as a result. One of the nurses fussed at her about driving in that condition; so my mother took it to mean that she could no longer drive.

Prior to me leaving from that visit with Mom, my sister began pressuring me to drop my life in Nashville with KR to move in with Mom permanently. I refused. My sister blatantly came out and said that Mom wanted me to move in with her to take care of her. I couldn’t even begin to express how badly this terrified me. I wasn’t even able to take care of myself. I would have NEVER given up my children had I thought I was emotionally stable enough and capable of caring for another person in the way she was asking of me. It made me angry that they would even ask this of me considering they had very little to no involvement in my adult life.

What about KR and my life with him? The fact that KR was unemployed at the time and we were under a great amount of financial stress as a result didn’t help matters any, either. My mother can be horribly judgmental when it comes to whomever I’m dating (or married to as in the case of my ex-husband); so it felt like she was trying to manipulate me into doing what she wanted by insulting not only KR, but me as well. I’m pretty sure KR was struggling with depression during the time he was out of work (though, I doubt he would admit it). I wanted to be there to emotionally support this man, who I loved with all my heart, who supported me emotionally when I needed it most — when NO ONE else would give me that emotional support that I so desperately needed.

But another part of me felt guilty because I felt like I was being selfish and unreasonable for even considering my own life. I felt even more guilt when Mom had a mild stroke a month later in September 2009. I couldn’t have prevented that from happening even had I been there, but the shame I felt was intense. Every time I talked to my mother for the next couple of months, the pressure built as she continued to use guilt in an attempt to manipulate me. She expressed animosity which led me to believe that she felt that if I hadn’t left when I did, she would have never had the stroke.

This was one of those situations where I totally don’t get how psychologists say, “No one can make you feel a certain way. You choose to feel that way.” If I had any choice in whether or not to feel guilty about these events, I wouldn’t have because I knew the stroke wasn’t my fault; but, nevertheless, I still felt guilty. Maybe this was just an example of cognitive dissonance. Whatever it was, it was crazy-making!

A couple of weeks after Mom’s stroke, my sister called to give me an update. Again, the hospital was preparing to release Mom, and my sister was demanding that I be there by Friday or Saturday to stay with Mom for at least the next two or three weeks. I flew into a panic trying to explain to her our situation and how I was feeling about everything. I don’t do well with short-notice. I need time to mentally prepare for a trip. The previous trip pushed my limits way too hard. Financially, my life was a mess at the time; and emotionally, I was a wreck.

My sister said, “I don’t want to hear your sob story!” She ranted on about how stressed she was dealing with Mom’s care, working full-time, caring for her kids and husband. Too late. I was already triggered. I didn’t hear much after that because I pretty much lost it and hung up on her before I screamed every obscenity I could possibly think of at the defenseless phone. I’m sure my upstairs neighbors must have wondered if I had lost my mind or something. My heart was racing. I could literally hear my heart beating in my head, and I was shaking all over. It took me the better part of an hour to calm down with KR’s help.

It was at that point in October 2009 that I decided I’d had enough. Once again, I stopped speaking to my sister after that volatile conversation over the phone; and I began limiting my phone conversations with my mother as well. I chose not to go to Mom’s at that time. I didn’t return there for about a year, not until October 2010 when I finally decided to introduce my mother and son to KR for the first time. We drove to East Tennessee for that day only, had an early dinner with them, and drove back home that night.

Since October 2010, I’ve made it back to Mom’s house a total of 8 times. That’s not a lot considering I live less than 3 hours away. I haven’t been to my sister’s house in many years, probably not since Daddy died in 2004. The issues with my mother’s health are of great concern to me. I worry about her living alone, especially with her being on dialysis now. The worst part is that my mother expressed concerns that she is a “burden.” I don’t EVER want my mother to feel that way. I dearly love Mom, and only want what’s best for her.

I realized quite some time ago that I cannot expect my family of origin to completely understand me, my thoughts, my life, or a lot of what I’ve experienced since I left home at 19. They don’t even know the half of it. I would be too ashamed to tell them much of what I’ve experienced or even thought about (part of the reason for anonymity here on this blog). Maybe it’s too much to expect my family to be emotionally supportive. After all, expectations lead to disappointment; and as my dad so wisely once told me as a little girl — my expectations were always so high that it’s no wonder disappointment followed me wherever I went.

Above all else, I remind myself daily that each and every person on this planet — my family members included — are simply trying to survive in the best ways they know how. It’s not my place to judge or criticize anyone else, just as it’s no one else’s place to judge or criticize me.

Everyone struggles in this life. No one is more worthy or less honorable than another. There’s no reward or punishment in the end other than what we create for ourselves.

To be continued….