Tag: mindfulness

Dear Dad, thank you for calling…

Dear Dad, thank you for calling…

I look at it this way Pops. Our futures have intertwined so that both us may come to know a final peace and understanding of ourselves. I’ve always known the only way through any or all of this was was by having to find a way to not only forgive and forget, but to also remember the love that was there as well.

If you’re willing to reach out today and ask for help, and I’m more than touched that you did. Than let’s find that peaceful journey for you to the next chapter of you life and in turn both our lives as father and son. I picked a beautiful spot by a pond with wildlife galore. Come and enjoy it with me…

I’m sorry your wife wants to move on right now. I can’t imagine how difficult or painful that must be while continuing to combat the effects of parkinson’s on a daily basis. We can and will find a way to provide better for you including living with me in a two bedroom home already outfitted with support bars in the bath and shower and your own bedroom to boot. (I planned it that way when I moved here two years ago,)

You’ve always trusted me to handle complex paperwork for you. When I was younger and there were all sorts of health insurance forms or union documents to read and figure out you always turned to me for help. It was out bonding time together. I loved when you’d trust me because you knew I was smart and I’d get a kick out of seeing you smile like “Oh yeah, I get it now. Thanks!” I never knew it was from the dyslexia you’d grown up with all your life. I enjoyed the trust and you trusted me in turn.

I was proud to be the son of a union factory worker. You worked you way to shop steward by reading and re-reading all of the contracts and union books. You always had a strong sense of right and wrong when it came to the working man and you’d go to bat for them. Some of the best memories I have is going to union hall meetings with all the cigarette smoking and guys yelling at the mic;s in the aisles. You never gave up and you never took a hand out either. I remember more than a few strikes and picket lines too.

I’ve never forgotten where I came from Pops…

I can safely say that after spending more than just a few 24 hours “on the inside” of more than a couple dozen rehabs and psych wards. I fully understand the fear of having your life upended and landing somewhere when you no longer decide what bedtime is or where or when you get to take a walk. It’s scary and I totally get it. That’s why I need you to trust me now and let’s get you someplace safe. Hopefully with me here in Massachusetts. If you’re going to need 24 hour care for medication reminders every three hours, I’m more than willing to do that for you.

I’m glad you called this evening. And I’m even more glad that you acknowledged I was angry but that you were willing to move on. That meant a lot to me. So if you’ll trust me once again to get you to the next step I’m ready when you are.

Your Son, ~R

Emotional Rubber Bands…

Emotional Rubber Bands…

rubber bands, whiplash, herky jerky, it’s all the same when it comes to my family and it simply can’t continue like this. i have to choose not only my mental health over my family but also my physical health as well.

two years without health care is a long time when it comes to reestablishing healthcare especially when it comes to specialists. with my families history of colon and prostrate cancers, the first up was the new GI which started a cascade of #ptsd and #anxiety symptoms.

i did my homework and made sure to bring all of my medical records from the previous medical system to expedite the process and also to show that i was informed and cooperative new patient. the dr.’s extremely knowledgeable which is why i chose him so that’s a good thing. what i hadn’t planned on was the aggressive push for even more medical info when it came to my father…

these days i can relate to how my mother always had a hard time with dr’s and hospitals. it’s all the questioning even though it’s right there in black in white that’s the trigger. no one wants to recall their past when it’s riddled with land mines. it’s a friggin’ war zone and when one goes…they ALL go.

anywho… i had prepped like a good student…four color coded folders for each speciality in case he asked. the g.i. folder was the largest and had every letter, mri, sigmoid, tech notes, xray notes, pcp notes…”do you have the results of your father’s last colonoscopy?” “can you get them?” “you do have power of attorney don’t you?” “these are things you’re legally entitled to you know.” “i’m just trying to take what you provide me and turn it into science.” he says gesturing from outstretched hands at me motioning to random notes onto one sheet of paper because the medical terminal was down… really? no…are you fucking kidding me???

of course he was an hour late and i hit grid lock rush hour traffic right at five thirty, an hour and half just to get out of boston via route nine. it’d be two more hours before i was finally back home. exhausted, not angry or frustrated, just frazzled like shell shock and everything hurt. my stomach, my head, my body, just everything like a spiral…

who knew the next jolt was to hit the very next day. yep, the voicemail from my father asking for help for what i’m guessing may be his final wishes. i mean, i’m compassionate to what he’s going through, but realistic just the same. i mean, it doesn’t change what he’s done but that’s not the point. the point is moving on and still being able to live with myself.

do i have to forgive him? i already had in a way. i mean after our last parting two summers ago, i had already began to do just that, it was what it was and move on. i knew these’s dr’s would be key and i still have three more to fit in by january. oh, and it’s winter which i haven’t driven in for at least thirty years.

yeah, forgot that one. i had to learn how to drive two years ago after being able to walk, subway or taxi anywhere in the city of boston and now i have to drive just to get coffee. i’m not whining on that one, that accomplishment i feel really proud of actually. from finding a driving school to sponsor my road test to the registry for the written, i earned that one.

however…

while i was comfortable with having to make the trade off of country driving over city driving. i hadn’t anticipated the lack of quality specialists here on the cape. the largest and closest healthcare system is the one i’m trying to leave and also doesn’t have the best track record. all my neighbors do the same so i’m not alone in how most of rural mass. thinks about specialist healthcare which is kind of a shame. boston is a great teaching hub and it certainly has innovation on its side. what it does lack though is a broader network of care for all regions and especially those beyond just the greater boston area.

switching from as needed to daily medication was a huge leap for me but it’s necessary if i have to rely on a car for everything. when i lived in the city if i had to run out for coffee or a sandwich and cat food. even in the worst weather or worst of winter colds, i could usually muster a coat maybe some sunglasses winter boots and headphones for a block and a half to the corner bodega. fun little place on the edge of villa victoria called Casa Cuong, just the basics in it’s two small yet well stocked aisles… i can recall the rush of hot air from the ice cream coolers when you open the door in winter like it’s just outside my front door now.

i loved the juxtaposition of corners here in the south end. Casa Cuong with its treasure trove of goya, kix, friskies and klondike bars on one corner. venti iced coffee, turkey wrap, yogurt w/granola and peppermint bark at Starbucks on the other. total time out and back was about twenty minutes maybe thirty when dressing for winter.

nowadays twenty minutes seems like a luxury. a luxury in that it could take me twenty minutes just to get through tying my shoes and getting on some jeans and a shirt if i’m real lucky. i’m winded at just about anything so i have to stop about every fifteen minutes to sit, catch my breath, take the next incremental step and so forth.

you get the gist…

i miss the city for a lot of reasons chief among them is it was my home for my entire adult life until 2016. there’s not an inch of of it i can’t recall and that’s a huge blessing on my journey.

if there’s one thing i’ve learned while emerging from this self imposed cocoon it’s that new memories are going to be important if i’m ever going to make that final hard tack in my life that i’ve always dreamed of. the type where after a vigorous and difficult struggle through wave after wave, you’ve somehow managed turn face first into the wind and you’re no longer concerned with what’s behind you only with what’s ahead and ensuring that horizon as as clear as glass.

i can’t keep having these emotional rubber bands from a toxic family keep whipping me all over the place. it’s too much. i don’t wish him or them any ill will. i just need to focus on me before i end up not being able to care for myself.

when i think of the health issues that run in our family it’s crucial that i get through these next three to four dr. appointments, not including things like labs, colonoscopies, MRI’s etc. etc.

i always knew there’d be stress once i lined up these appointments, it’s the impact from the driving that i hadn’t planned for. toss in my father’s voicemail and that was that…face plant into bed for next five days.

it’s slow going and while i did manage to have an “up day” for thanksgiving, i am sidelined by the gritty scratchy eye thing again. that and the whole body still hurts which means the auto-immune system is in over drive and does it suck. mostly it sucks because i know i’m still a long way from any relief. psoriatic arthritis? maybe, all of the men on my father’s side have ended up in wheel chairs so there’s that… ankylosing spondylitis? that’s another maybe except with my father’s diagnosis in 2016 there is a genetic component to consider or rule out. after this many years neither is palatable but at least there’s a regimen to follow, a plan, something to hang your hat on each night and finally sleep with some peace of mind.

the mind, body and gut connection isn’t lost on me. while mindfulness, meditation and yoga can be helpful. i’m at the stage where we need to move to the next step in the process. living in thirty minute increments of effort isn’t normal for someone my age and yes that’s depressing and yes i know that doesn’t help. look up #IBS, #PA or #AS and they share many of the same symptoms including #depression and #anxiety. that’s good and bad. good in that one medication or plan could solve more than one issue. bad in that it takes all of those specialties to test and agree on who the lucky winner is.

the blinds are open again and there are plenty of leftovers lucky me. during the two days i had energy i was pushing through all of my batch cooking and stocking up the freezer with things like homemade chicken soup and stock. two staples for any gluten free and/or anti-inflammation diet. i made another roaster for thanksgiving day and i’ll throw that in the slow cooker for shredded chicken. an afternoon with the kitchenaid and foodsaver should knock out a couple 1lb bags which are perfect for quick meals.

my neighbor who’s recovering from breast cancer says she’s grateful for the up days too. we both joke about the mornings when you wake up and you just know your body isn’t going to hate you that day and you zoom through laundry, cooking, mail, a shower and collapse.

tomorrow supposed to be sunny and warmer than the past two days of single digit wind chills. the plan is to finish the leaves we all got clobbered with here in new england. one day the leaves were on all the trees and then two back to back wind storms mean everyone was buried all at once.

weather looks good? check. leaf blower batteries charged? check. your body still hates you in the morning? check check and triple check.

tomorrow after the leaves?

why i gave up facebook…

 

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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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.

 

 

ongoing notes re: surviving childhood sexual abuse and the movement from victim to survivor

ongoing notes re: surviving childhood sexual abuse and the movement from victim to survivor

i’ve survived childhood sexual abuse and today it’s no longer about placing blame or making complete and utter sense of things from the past. i’m ebbing and flowing between moments of complete contentment and flashing shatters of utter chaos. i say these things from a comfortable place though. it’s taken awhile for my psyche and hardened shell to finally open up enough and allow me to finally forgive myself. forgive myself enough to finally believe that none of it was ever my fault.

from 3rd to around 6th grade i have vivid memories of being overwhelmed during class and i would panic until i found a way to sneak into the coat area or closet and hide under all of the coats. i’d pile them all on top of me so that i’d be in complete darkness, mentally clamoring to shut out the world, my inner voice begging for the din to stop and for ‘it’ to leave me alone. i use school grades to recall my childhood rather than actual age or year.  3rd grade, mrs. glassman, u shaped alcove and pegs. 4th grade, mrs. millet, step in closet, row of pegs. 5th grade, mrs. wolf, u shaped alcove, hooks and shelves for lunch boxes overhead…

the weight of them felt so so calming…i hated it when they would find me. there was one particular classroom that ‘was’ an actual closet rather than the other communal alcove types. this one I had to step into and close the door behind me. one day i saw a boy looking at me trying to figure out what I was doing while I fumbled with the latch. i didn’t have time to process embarrassment or shame, panic to escape overrode all else. it was also the same classroom where we grew green beans in dixie cups had a guinea pig and learned about dinosaurs. mrs. millet was so nice and comforting. pronounced like ‘Edna St. Vincent Millay.  lots of color block pant suits, creme lime green like a perfect nonpareil candy, contrasting vests too with large pockets for keys and whistles. dark hair with curls from those really big purple plastic rollers, the ones with the holes in them, all layered up in a semi bouffant and a scent of jean nate’. she reminded me of my mother, she loved jean nate’ but my favorite was windsong. mrs. millet always knew how to coax me out until my mom could come and get me. we only lived a few blocks away and i would mostly just sleep after that…

eventually i was diagnosed with petit mal seizures, epilepsy runs in the family, as well as ADD, allergies and a calcium deficiency. i had to have allergy shots daily, first riding for hours in the car with my father until he learned how to do them on my shoulder. i was never sure why i had breathing problems but with so much going on it’s easy for mental health needs to get lost in all of that. when i had to have a kidney operation, things were pretty serious health wise for about 6 months…this also granted me a reprieve from my father’s verbal abuse. lucky me…

nature vs nurture, the lines blur for me and no longer matter.

childhood trauma reverberates throughout a lifetime. i don’t remember what the ‘trigger’ was back then other than an overwhelming urge to hide in complete darkness, warmth and silence. it’s only recently that i’m coming to terms with the fact that my challenges today with flashbacks isn’t actually a new thing. it’s been with me my entire life. i still have them and that’s the challenge i’ll have to make adjustments for. life doesn’t owe me anything, i’ll make the best of what i do have and there’s nothing more comfortable than that.

as I sift through the fog and haze of a childhood that never should have been… sometimes i’m comforted in remembering those amazing teachers, school counselors and mental health professionals who did actually recognize me and who also tried to help me directly along the way. my parents weren’t equipped to step up to the plate and assume even the most basic challenges of parenthood which is not okay and that’s not my fault. i forgive myself and begin anew…

sexual abuse isn’t something a family likes to talk about. certainly not if you’re a boy of 6. just prior to that i witnessed things no child should ever have to see or experience. yet i still managed to maintain my composure that fateful day. i bundled up my infant sister, found the diaper bag and knew that i had to call for help. you see, if not for my mother’s suicide attempt, my life never would have taken the turn it did that awful day. a day so seared into memory i could paint it, draw it, recreate it or even photograph it in amazing detail. complete with smells angles of light, color of furniture…it evaporates…it’s also a movie that plays on a constant loop in my head but without any sound…i only hear “mommy needs help.” everything else that judders back and forth in and out of focus is dull and muted…

what the real professionals knew and understood what was underneath all of that mental torment and acting out. what they saw was just a scared little boy looking for some encouragement and who just needed a little structure and support along the way. i craaaaaved stability so much it would ache and crush me from the inside out sometimes. stomaches were part of daily life, they did what they could for as long as they could.

i’ve been twirling this stuff around for awhile now and…well…i guess i finally felt the need to spit it out. why tonight is beyond me but I’ll roll with it.

the solitude of small town life agrees with me. peaceful yes, easy on the body, eh not so much. lol. if i’m going to get through shoulder, knee and potentially hip surgery, i’m gonna need to ‘travel light’ as it were.

i’m glad i’ll be starting start back with my therapist jerre tomorrow. she’s a cool woman who’s also an amazing artist. she specializes in addiction and oddly enough that’s kinda what I need right now. we took a few months off of therapy last fall which was actually really good for me it turns out. i was able to get through the holidays with a sense of peace that I don’t think I’ve ever felt before and i’m beyond grateful.
~R

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