Author: R. Zamora

Originally from Los Angeles, now a New Englander though and through.
Goodbye Dad, again…

Goodbye Dad, again…

my father has been leaving voicemails for a few months now. we had a falling out last year when he called me at 4am my time making accusations that were not only hurtful but also incorrect.

i’ve been blamed for everything when it comes to my father. i was never enough for him. me the person was never enough for their own father…and yes it hurts.

all of the numbers i have for him are blocked so they do go to a blocked folder on my phone. (i don’t have a landline and haven’t for well over 10 years.) new vm’s started showing up a few months ago and i ignored them. he never says anything other than “this is your dad…just trying to reach you…okay. <click>”

he finally left a vm that briefly mentioned something about having an operation and that he couldn’t walk for awhile but beyond that i didn’t much more so i called and chose to forego the fake talk and just stick to the facts. this was a few weeks ago, not today.

what should have been a perfect opportunity to say he was sorry for his horrible phone call a year ago, he chose to act as if things are just rosy and fine as they’ve always been. he’s done that his entire life. he’s not at fault. there’s never a need to apologize or take responsibility for his own actions. it’s always the other persons fault and when he doesn’t like someone telling him the truth he lashes out.

after our last call i left him a vm that said “i’m sorry you have to hear this over voicemail but please don’t call me anymore. there’s nothing i can do for you any longer. i have a new life. i live 3000 miles away in boston and i haven’t seen you in over 25 years. i wish you the best in whatever manner that means but please please please. if you respect me as a son, do not ever call me again.”

i thought that would have been enough but it wasn’t. more vm’s showed up. 5-10 second snippets of “just me, trying to reach you, again.” as if that’s my fault? i called the home phone to leave a vm that i had hoped his wife would hear. in that vm i said to her “do not allow my father to call me again. i don’t know what his health his like and if it’s failing there’s nothing i can do for him. so please. i know this will sound harsh but forget i ever existed and please leave me alone.”

i thought that was the end of it and i could finally breathe easy…until today.

today started as a good day so i was feeling pretty positive even though i had seen another vm that had come in late last night. another 12 sec version, more guilt and a sense of urgency. i tried to put it out of mind and focus on the other tasks i needed to get done today. and then i caved…

i figured if i was in a solid place and in a positive mood how could anything go wrong right? wrong.

as usual the phone call turned into him calling me names no child should ever have to hear from a parent. more blame and more name calling is not part of my daily life any longer and it was time i told him the truth in a calm and direct manner.

the statement i made to him wasn’t about the past. it wasn’t about childhood. it was about who he is today and his actions of who is today. he’s never learned that he’s the one who’s chased every person away from him in his life and now at 78 the truth is coming home to roost.

it must be scary to be 78 and not know where you failing health will take you. it’s a fate that many many people face on a daily basis so i don’t have any sympathy there. heck. he’s been kicking me to the curb since i was 2 years old and at my age now you think i’m still going to allow you to tear me down because your a selfish self centered old man?

i owe you nothing…

after he fired off all of the below the belt insults i simply told him “you don’t get to turn my life upside down because you think you’re entitled to call me your son. i’m not your son and i haven’t been for quite a long time. you’ve never liked it when people tell you the truth to your face but there it is. don’t ever call me again. pretend i never existed and i’ll do the same.”

he was still yelling hateful things when i turned off my phone. hateful to the end…

yes today hurts, things like this always do. the difference for me today is it won’t paralyze me any longer. there are no more emotional rubber bands to snap me back to those horrible years. those emotional times that zing you right back to being some submissive boy desperate for his father’s love that he’d let him call him any derogatory name in the book and cry alone behind closed doors so he’d never see the pain he caused.

i may hurt and that’s okay. the fact that i can push past the hurt and see that my life is still unfolding ahead of me is a huge huge step. just one of many but progress nonetheless.

goodbye dad. the mental health field has tried to make me conform to societies norms of “but he’s your father” and that’s not always a healthy viewpoint. sometimes the only way to survive is by letting go of childhood wishes and longings that will never materialize for you. in my case i’ll never know what it’s like to hear and feel what it’s like to have a parent acknowledge they’ve wronged you and show a genuine interest in rebuilding that trust. the trust they themselves broke which has impacted your entire life.

the requirement has never been some grand gesture or pubic flogging by any means. just that one simple phrase and look in their eyes that lets you know they finally get it.

as a photographer it’ll be hard to put away pictures of my childhood. photos of him and me before everything went off the rails. before i ended up living with my grandmother because he made home life so horrible my mother ended up in a mental institution. (the short version, my grandmother and the catholic church did the rest.)

anywho…i’m just letting all of this flow out as it happens and so i don’t implode keeping it all bottled up inside.

i dunno. this october will mark 13 years sober and after everything i’ve been through setting up an entirely new life here in a small town i knew nothing about, and my mother’s passing during all of this as well. i’d say i’m holding up pretty well.

today i had firewood delivered which is a PERFECT mindfulness exercise for focusing on the task at hand rather than all of this other ugly stuff. i don’t care how wet i get. i don’t care if it sucks. i don’t care if i get eaten alive by mosquitos.

school psychologists would always as me about home life or family life and i’d always say the same thing. “we’re like dandelions.” “in what way?” “well, you know how when you blow on them they scatter all over?” “yes” “we’re like that. as soon as you’re old enough to fend for yourself, we all scatter as far away from each other as we can get.”

during the summer i’ll have my coffee on the deck and when it’s dandelion season i’ll hand pick every last one of those suckers until they’re all gone. my inner dialog going…

“nope…nope…nope…not in my yard you don’t”

get rid of the weeds in your life. they suck the energy out of you and they leave nothing beneficial behind. ~R

Winner Takes All…

Winner Takes All…

From one of my favorite stories of the Big Book of A.A. Winner takes all is about a young woman born legally blind but keenly aware she was the lesser wanted child of her siblings. This is the last chapter of the story and it was the one that gave me my Aha moment. Regardless of how things do or don’t turn out with my Father. None of that is relevant. Today is relevant. What I choose to think and feel is relevant. How my actions reflect those thoughts and feelings are relevant.

It’s hard when you have to say goodbye to a parent, especially one who’s still living. I don’t hate my Father but I don’t like him either and that’s a very valid feeling. I wish him the best in whatever capacity that might mean for him today. For myself? I’m moving forward to continue my healing process.

Hope for me are the positive things I can see on the horizon. Those in the front window of my imaginary car. The rear view mirror serves me no purpose any longer. It’s utility is reserved only for short and subtle reminders of where I’ve been and where I never want to return.

Although my Father may have been the primary cause for stuffing and swallowing my feelings of guilt and shame all these years. That doesn’t mean it’s a permanent state of being. The choice is mine, on a daily basis.

Today. Today I choose to be happy and I hope you’ll do the same. ~R

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Enough…

Enough…

For anyone new to the site I’d like to offer some insight to my Twitter and #SurvivorCulture tweet. My site needs work so you’re probably seeing a happy post about getting back to my previous therapist. Which definitely is good news…especially given the current circumstances.

My father and I tried to forge or repair some sort of relationship last year and it blew up in my face pretty badly. That’s always been the history when it comes to my father and me. When in doubt, blame the kid.

My father has an anger and mental abuse problem and he’s never owned it. I owned it for him by swallowing every single form of abuse he chose to dish out. Verbal, physical and the worst of all. Complete shut out and denial. If he didn’t want to hear something he made sure he got his way and never ever had to live with consequences.

Well. Here we are today. Him leaving me voicemail after voicemail playing the aging old man and I’m sick card. Uh uh. That’s not how life works.

The last time I saw my father was over 25 years ago. We’ve had sporadic phone contact over the years and always at my reaching out to him rather than the other way around.

My usual role as the hurt little boy wanting the love of his father has been a hard role to live through and it’s come at a great great cost. No regrets though. Truly. Because that life is no more…

The #MeToo movement came along at a time in my life when I was already trying to unravel and make sense of my childhood. What I had planned on was it accelerating my having to deal with my own childhood sexual abuse. Not only was my childhood traumatic and painful, he’s still coming from this utterly disgusting catholic altar boy silence and denial upbringing.

I’m still working through the dynamics of an older female family member having been my abuser. Not entirely sure where I’m going with this blog but I hope to get back to my photography. All of the images on the site are mine now and I still have a whole other site to convert over.

Thank you for reading and thank you for being here. ~R

 

Thursday’s With Karen Resume…

Thursday’s With Karen Resume…

I decided to reach out to my previous talk therapist and see is she was willing to work me in some how. To my relief and amazement she said yes. Is insurance a fit? Check. What about Video Conference? Check. What a relief… I dunno. It’s such a huge change in service of basic comfort level I guess I’m a bit overwhelmed, in a good way.

This means not having to start from scratch. This means safety on all of the topics I’ve ever needed to discuss in therapy, including the most sensitive of them all. One layer deeper in fact and well, I’m just grateful.

This means having to rely on the commuter rail but that might not be such a bad thing. The ride is scheduled to be an hour give or take so it’s just figuring out the stop to park I guess.

With my discount the rail and subway passes are affordable. I thought it was going to be much more but now park and ride seems like the way to go. Gives me that chance to work on public anxiety both good and bad. (Oh and get that frigging lens fixed jackass!! You want real photos, not just iPhotos!)

I know, I know. Things have been up and down health wise so timing has been an issue. It’ll turn into one of those random first thing I think of one morning and then obsess until it’s done all last minute. Ah yes, thank you ADHD, gotta luv ya…said no one ever.

Tonight I take a deeper breath and rest a little easier knowing I now have a safe place to land.  That’s not only a huge piece of the medical puzzle out of the way it’s also a way to reclaim my identity. I haven’t shot with my Nikon in ages and that’s definitely gotta change.

the lens robert…

yeah i know…

do you want to miss this opportunity? you know, back bay, south end, down town, all of your favorite architecture?

no, no i really don’t actually. i’d like to build a darkroom at some point. i have a story to tell…

then get your ass moving…

Thank you Universe. As usual your timing was impeccable.

 

 

Trying to keep positive…

Trying to keep positive…

these flare ups suck when then take me out of my routine. you know the drill. something triggers that familiar ‘un-happy’ gut feeling. not yet excruciating but you know it’s just a matter of time.

today i was finally able to run errands after being in bed for the past 3 days. the familiar dull painful and mentally distracting headache. more than that actually. eyes, forehead, ears where the psoriasis patches ache 24/7. then the joints kick in and your spine feels achey but can only be soothed temporarily and for unpredictable durations.

however…

i’m blessed to have learned the chef skills i did in my twenties and i’m blessed to have this period ranch style kitchen to spread out and feed myself. with my putting off seeing a PCP appt. at least i’ve gotten better at my diet which removes a huge variable once i do see a dr.

it’s allowed me the space and ability to experiment how to reverse, as much as i can, some of the effects once they begin. bone broth is an amazing gut recovery for instance so now i always keep shelf stable varieties on hand when i need to calm things down a bit.

with the availability of things like flax milk and flax wraps it makes it pretty easy to incorporate those omega-3’s for organic fruit smoothies, add in Garden of Life plant protein and that’s a great way  to start the day.

so… while i still try to work up to going to the dr’s i can at least reduce some anxiety that i’m eating the best i can.

the fear of the dr. thing is proving to be more challenging than i thought. i do have a G.I. dr. appt in Nov. and i know i at least need to get back to regular colonoscopies. with my families history of colon cancer that’s pretty much a non-negotiable. my fear comes with the exposing of my body and the fear and vulnerability of those feelings that trigger memories that are very terrifying for me.

while i’m grateful for the breather i have between now and November to try and prepare myself. it’s tough to find a balance between how much thought you need to give to your symptoms. diet alone isn’t allowing me to manage things now it just buys me recovery time post flare up. it’s the trigger that’s been elusive.

meaning, yes you have to pay attention to IBS but you also have to manage your anxiety and depression. i may not be able to control whatever auto-immune issue or A.S. issue is out of my control and beating me up physically, but i am able to shape how i view my situation.

today was a post flare up recovery day. let’s hope it lasts as long as my last 10 day up time window. fall’s coming and this yard work never ends. lol.

xo ~r

It’s been awhile…

It’s been awhile…

just checking in and i want to be clear when it comes to my previous therapist you asked if you could follow along and i had said yes. at the time i didn’t see the harm, in hindsight it would leave me feeling too exposed.

i’m not truly sure what made things change course so abruptly and while a full and honest explanation would be respectful i certainly won’t hold my breath. when a man discloses something as sensitive as childhood sexual abuse, it can be a very delicate balancing act i’m fully aware. if it was a subject you didn’t feel comfortable with or capable of fully embracing than i wish that had simply been said.

at any rate. please do not read or follow along. i’m not good at being a unicorn remember?

#PTSD is still part of life, the anxiety of medical and prescription transition number three has now been completed. with my exchange plan i was afraid to get routine services, with medicare and BCBS medigap i can finally start to relax a bit. Prescriptions are what they are. I think the days of $5 copays, unless it’s very generic and widely used, are starting to become a rarity. unless i’m in some deductible period or the dreaded donut hole. Egads….

mental health wise i think things are proving to have a symbiotic effect. when my body isn’t aching from every square nodule, i’m up and about and i don’t need 1/2 hour epsom salt baths to get going either.

my recent bout with #IBS, or at least that was what we ‘thought’ it might be two years ago, knocked me offline for 4 days straight. so you’re in bed in agony because you’ve been tossing and turning for 4 days and nights, your hips hurt, you feel like you can’t bend or twist enough to get down to that last itsy bitsy stetch of muscle that will finally make you say ahhhhh….it eludes you and you beg for more sleep.

my last flare up with 3-4 days of no eating and/or just bone broth really let whatever was in my system pass out of my gut so my stomach finally felt normal. with the malaise of aches pains coming and going so i dropped 10 pounds, not a bad thing, i’ll take it.

not sure if it’s the yoga and stretching i’ve been doing on the deck but the more i move the better i feel. now that i’m down to 185lbs from 220;bs i can definitely feel a difference. well, when i can move anyway.

for now i’m just keeping busy gardening which really is a good workout i have to say. whipping a 100ft garden hose around is pretty fun and great arm and shoulder work. the constant up and down around the deck helps the legs since it’s semi-uneven down to the pond level.

i’m getting better little by little. mindfulness, meditation, stretching, healthy eating and super baby steps yoga seems to be bringing a much needed rhythm and routine to things.

now. time to get my damn Nikon lens fixed, i need a trip to NYC… ~r

 

why bother part 2…

why bother part 2…

well, the house is fully automated. lights on timers. varying so as to project someone home. bills are all automated although i’m sure electricity and other services will eventually get cut…

in the meantime, there’s no reason to keep up this charade any longer. this site is paid up for two years, it’ll stay online until non-payment happens.

i haven’t found homes for my cats yet but will soon and i don’t really care what happens to my house once i’m no longer here. when you’re gone, nothing matters, nothing hurts anymore either.

that’s all i want. no more loneliness. no more pain. no more being taken advantage of. no more being brushed aside, diminished or shrugged away.

i thought i could do it. keep going no matter the costs. keep going in hopes of some mythical release or indescribable amount of love and safety the likes of which no one has ever know was finally going to magically wash over me and i’d finally know what love and safety felt like…that was the hope anyway.

childhood sexual abuse and non-stop trauma can damage someone beyond repair. i sacrificed not only giving up the idea of ‘wanting’ kids but intentionally making sure that my name ends with me.

i’d like to think i’d be a great father. one of those fathers who’s always fascinated in anything you’d say or do. a father who’d share the same childlike imagination in stories and in real life so that everything would always seem possible. a father who’s very presence meant you’d never ever have to feel unloved, unsafe or unworthy. a father who’s one look was enough to let you know you’d be okay, you were protected and you were loved…

wtf is the point any longer…

wtf is the point any longer…

my “therapist” left in a complete lurch. my father starts calling me again more than a year later playing the ‘poor old man’ card as if that means i’m supposed to just pretend you didn’t kick me to the curb last time…just like you’ve done for my entire fucking life?!?!?

the post office won’t deliver my social security or medicare mail because they don’t want to ‘dismount’ their truck for 15 seconds and one car length to put it into a slot on the side of my garage.

i’m cut off from E V E R Y O N E and no one cares.

i have no medical cards, guidebooks or other handouts because of them. my credit cards have sent emails saying my address was undeliverable, it’s not. yet the USPS can continue to abuse someone with a disability.

w t f is the point anymore…seriously.

Been a heck of a week…

Been a heck of a week…

last thursday was a hit to the gut. she used all the right words. “I know that you have abandonment issues and…”

i do/don’t recall much beyond the utter collapse that i’d never be able to work with her again. we were so close and the one last thing i needed. the one last thing between being forever trapped in childhood or smashing the world to bits is still lying on a shelf in my closet…buried behind even more boxes. waiting to either ruin or free me forever. a box of photos from my mothers past i have yet to open. a part of my timeline fully suppressed, held at bay and kept at a distance until i was strong enough.

this isn’t easy work. i know that for myself the work isn’t in the graphic details either. childhood sexual abuse doesn’t need to be recalled or retold in order to be understood. when someone says to you they’ve endured things no young boy of six should ever have to that’s more than enough.

there’s no easy lead up in therapy when it comes to working with someone like me. when she offered to ‘be the one’ to help me make that final walk through, the one last and most vulnerable part. i only asked one thing. “if you promise than you have to stay to the end, you have to stay to the end.” this had been many months prior.

During our last session this past thursday she said she wouldn’t be able to see me in private practice…i lost my breath…i tried to keep it together…buy time long enough to recover…put on a brave face, we always do. that’s how people like me get through life. we pretend we’re fine until we aren’t…

i had been sobbing at this point. overwhelmed at possibly trusting someone again, the possibility of finally not being the only person carrying my story…

i don’t know where to go from here. next week begins trips to boston for the medical stuff. these random bouts of muscle weakness and joint pain is pretty disconcerting.

as for the mental health side…well. i’ve been alone most of my sober life, which will be 13 years come october. i wouldn’t trade that for anything, i do miss people though.

camera in tow with my shades and tunes. it’ll be comforting to be anonymous in bustling boston again.

Good Days, Bad Days…

Good Days, Bad Days…

Blech. I was down for the count the past three days, and hard too. I mean really really freaking hard like a mack truck hit me then backed up did it again and again and again.

The more I research Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) the more I begin to understand ‘arthritis’ related conditions and symptoms. When my father was diagnosed last year it was another piece of the puzzle falling into place.

When my body started to go haywire about 5 years ago I was playing whack-a-mole with pain. Then it was just my shoulder and elbow randomly and relieved somewhat by cortisone and the usual OTC pain relievers.

At one point I had a trainer at Equinox who was great helping me get my core in shape, which is key for back pain and in general. We steered clear of the lower back and knees until things got stronger but not by much. We learned to work around things and I thought I was in relatively good shape physically.

I’ve had back pain all my life and just chalked it up to me being one of the unlucky ones and that I could just find a way to work around things. That worked for the most part until the pain moved from just the lower back and hips to pretty much everywhere.

On any given day I could be taken down by one specific area or every joint and muscle could rise up in revolt all at the same time. It’s day by day and the randomness is maddening.

I don’t know that I have AS mind you, I just know it runs in the family, as does many other forms of arthritis, so it seems like a prime candidate.

Night time is brutal even with good sleep practices and a tempurpedic mattress and pillows. I have 6 pillows lol. 2 tempurpedic, 2 down and 2 generic poly fill. I’ll start out all nice and comfy but come 2, 3 or 4am and the back pain is off the chart. That’s when all the tossing and turning begin and I may as well never tried to go to sleep in the first place. Hence the constant fatigue and every other system thrown totally out of whack.

In some of the research there’s a lot of overlap between GI issues as well as AS issues. My hope is that once I get back to seeing Dr’s in Boston again. Is that I can finally find a good rheumatologist to try and get to the bottom of things.

After spending the past three days in bed all I know is whatever is going on is that it totally sucks without medical support. I’m being realistic before I start getting to appt’s come August. I just need to know if the pain means my joints are at risk or am I cleared to do physical therapy or other exercise program.

Even when I do get that info I’ll still need help with the pain though and that’s worrying. With thirteen years in recovery I’m not about to be led down the opioids road that’s for sure. Yoga and stretching I can do. Exercise in the form of gardening I can do. Adding in more walking or other outings for longer duration such as photography? That’s gonna be a challenge without a clear medical support plan.

Another sucky part is when you’re stuck in bed or indoors, the last thing someone with anxiety and PTSD issues needs is to get stuck in their own head. Boo, hiss, bad, get out of the head or you’ll go nutty…trust me on this.

I’ll have to put the Complex-PTSD (CPTSD) research on the back burner for awhile. I won’t be much good to myself until I can at least take a normal walk without feeling winded and exhausted.

Not being able to walk as part of my daily life makes me miss Boston. A lot actually. I was importing some old external drives awhile back and the images from my old site brought back fond memories.

With my aversion to public transportation I’d always preferred walking and Boston is such a walkable city. The architecture and history always made walking an absolute joy.

Note to self: Send your lens to Nikon for repair you dolt, how are you going to document your journey back when it’s stuck  on 24mm?

One other lovely side effect or symptom from wither IBS or AS is trouble with vision. Today’s one of those days when a random eye will go completely out of focus regardless of eyeglasses or drops. Coupled with my right eyelid dropping down not only is walking an issue but so is my photography.

That would kinda be a crusher I think. Here I am about to launch my boat into uncharted waters, where photography is very much a part of the healing plan, and now looking through a viewfinder is further hampered.

Next week is a big week. I’ll be saying goodbye to the counseling center I’ve been going to since I first moved and which is also bittersweet. I’ve come to enjoy the drive between here and Plymouth and the back roads are an enjoyable part of that during any season. On the plus side I now know the route by heart and it’s still an easy drive to the waterfront.

The following day I have to head to Boston for an overnight at a hotel. Not sure if I’ll drive or take the commuter rail but it’s all workable. Part of the change in prescribers is due to health insurance and also to go back to the PhD. I’d been seeing for years. He knows my history best and it’s a familiar office and familiar process. It took me many many appointments to learn how to get in and out of his office without a full on panic attack.

Anxiety & PTSD make for a brutal combination when it comes to Dr. Appts. I had to plan everything down to the minute so I wouldn’t be stuck in the waiting area too long but arrive early enough just in case he wanted to see me earlier. He seemed to like doing that anyway, not that it was an expectation. Planning included how long each coffee shop took to get through the line on the way to the appt. Whether he wanted both doors opened or closed, it’s an old brownstone and has these massive double doors from the outer entry into his office.

Eventually I got the hang of things, knew where all the exits were and that sometimes the bathroom light would be out so plan ahead. Part of my situation is I need routines and part of it is making sure I can be on auto-pilot due to the early morning hours. With there only being one day a week for afternoon appointments sometimes I’d have to take a seven a.m. appointment which makes it kinda hard to be mentally nimble.

Fingers crossed by body will cooperate between now and then. Nothing fun about being bedridden with something that feels ten times worse than the flu and there’s nothing you can do about it. No position is comfortable…ever…and it’s relentless.

 

 

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