The Other Side of Fear

In November 2021, I sold my house and moved.

Now, that’s a very generic statement, for the extremely complicated and intricate dance of events that took place.

I’d been wanting to move for years.

Living where I was, in North Dakota, had so many painful memories and so little joy left for me. Yes, I have many good memories there as well, and I treasure those; but you can’t live in memories.

I struggled everyday to find a reason to get up, to go forward, and couldn’t find enough reasons to stay.

So – I made a lot of choices that ended up with me moving to Washington, to be closer to my ElderDaughter & my grandbabies.

And, my life has changed so much, that I’m still amazed on the daily that I actually live here now!

Pre move-in

I bought myself a used RV, & hooked it up in my ElderDaughter’s backyard.

It’s perfect for me & Sal.

Front window wins!

It’s big enough for the 2 of us, without being too much for me to handle.

And, I haven’t been this at ease in a long time, if ever.

My anxiety has dropped to the point where I’ve been able to lower my meds in half.

I’m finding myself having moments of pure contentment and joy out of the blue. It’s been years since my depression has been this minimal.

I’m finding a new balance, here.

Everything you’ve ever wanted, is on the other side of fear ~ George Addair

A Dozen of this and that

Today, it’s been 12 years since I started blogging on WordPress.

Oh, sure, I had my blog on another platform for a while prior to switching over here, but, I can neither remember the platform name, nor the length of time I was there, because I’ve been here so long.

And… My whole life has been completely upended multiple times in those 12 years.

It tends to happen.

See, when I started all this, it was a way for me to “scream into the darkness”, as I used to say, but… I had a hard time actually doing that, for a long time.

I started off with my original reason for blogging, which was that I’d needed a safe place to put all of my feelings, questions about life, the universe, & everything.

I had a blood relation take offense to something I’d written, on my own space, for my own reasons. It wasn’t aimed at that person, had nothing to do with that person, but they still had decided that I was a horrible person, & raked me over the coals for, what to me, was a simple, philosophical question I had, & was looking for answers to.

So, I started an anonymous blog to do my soul-searching.

And, after my initial posts, I fell into writing about normal, everyday, mundane things. Humorous, usually. But not the real, raw, self-intospection I needed.

Until, my past & present started to bleed into one another.

My introspection started uncovering things I’d “conveniently” forgotten. More like buried deep within my own psyche.

It led me to reasons why I’d lived as I had, self-destructive behaviors and all.

I started to get a handle on my own flaws, foibles, failings and faults.

I also started to see the good things.

It took me a while to allow nyself to truly be vulnerable here, but I was encouraged by friends I’d met while blogging, & led with my chin.

And, the tone of the blog changed, to become a journey of self-discovery, mentally, emotionally, and more.

I’ve posted some flash fiction here, too, because that is also a part of who I am.

Or was. I haven’t posted any fiction in a loooong time now. Life has led me down a long, dusty path, & there hasn’t been any fiction for a while that was yelling to get out.

I’ve been too busy, just hanging on.

I want to start blogging again, though. I do miss it, sometimes. There are a lot of things I still want to explore, explain, & examine.

But, I can feel the tone changing again.

Don’t ask me how it will end up, because in all honesty, I’m not sure where it’s going yet.

Maybe I should just hop the train, and settle in for the ride.

Another dozen years couldn’t hurt… Right?

I’m not Angry, I’m just…

I am not ok.

I haven’t been, for a while.

And that’s ok.

Circular logic, I guess, but there you go.

Something happened in my family in July, & I’m not ok about it.

And honestly, I feel as though it’s been a long time coming, this fracture, but I kept holding back the floodwaters by putting my back to it, & ignoring it.

I heard something the other day, that has been rolling around in my mind ever since.

Constantly examining your feelings & trying to logically define them, keeps you from feeling them; which prevents you from healing them.

I know that I need to get all of these things that are surging forth in my brain out there… But I have no one right now that I can actually tell these things to.

My kids don’t need that burden, and I don’t want them “in the middle”, which is where they’d end up if I told them how bad things feel for me right now.

My Beloved Nephew has enough chaos going on in his world, that he sure as hell doesn’t need mine; even in periphery.

That’s it.

That’s the list of trusted ears & shoulders.

So, like always, refusing to burden others with my problems, I try to work through shit on my own.

Did you know that hyper-independence is a trauma response?

Executive Dysfunction has me sitting & zoning out, when I have a list of things I need myself to accomplish.

My depression is so thick right now, I’m having a hard time not just curling up in the fetal position, & sleeping through the day.

I know I desperately need help with my house (which I’m trying to get ready to sell), but I refuse to ask for help. Any help would either come with judgment, or conditions, or both – and I can’t and won’t deal with either of those. Anyone even offering, gets pushed off with a “it’s fine, I’ve got this”.

Winter is coming.

I wanted to be out of here before that, and I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen now.

And again, I’m disappointing people, because of my mental state.

It’s times like this that scare.

Because the way out is so far above me, and I don’t have a ladder.

It’s very dark here.

The Weight of it All

I’ve had to deal with weight issues all my life.

As a kid, it was the fact that I loved sweets so much.

Ugh, Ice cream is my Nemesis.

When I die, this is how I’ll probably go.

As a teenager in high school, I was called “the fat girl” in my class, even though I was a pretty healthy 130-135 lbs at 5’7″.

I’ve never been svelte, like some of my Scandinavian extended family members; instead being closer to the stockier build of my Germanic/Austrian family.

Age 17, I’m the one on the left. My cousin on the right is German/Italian.

Looking back, I don’t see a fat girl when I look at myself, but I was sure made to feel that way by others.

After having my third child, my weight ballooned. Part of it was getting older, having kids, & not fighting super hard after the third one to get back to my pre-baby weight.

Part of it was emotional abuse I suffered during my marriage.

And, the weight was a “convenient” way to subtly protect myself, and fight back.

The weight prevented anyone from getting “too close”.

It prevented anyone from seeking to get to know me, because there’s that invisible dividing line that stands around fat people…

Fat people are lazy

Fat people are not attractive

Fat people aren’t worth the time, because if they don’t care about themselves, why should anyone else?

And so on…

I lost a bunch of weight after my divorce, too. I went on a program of supplements, worked out really hard, & lost almost 70 lbs, at one point. I felt better physically, sometimes, & mentally, a little.

And then, shit started to go downhill.

I had a bunch of things happen that affected me both physically and mentally, that just…stopped… any progress I’d made.

And, I started to go backwards as far as my weight was concerned.

Physical limitations due to my Rheumatoid Arthritis didn’t help.

And mentally?

Well, the weight was yet another wall between me & the outside world.

People couldn’t, wouldn’t get close enough to hurt me if my weight was keeping them away, right?

Right.

Yet another unhealthy coping mechanism I adopted.

*sigh*

But, unfortunately… It’s very effective.

Sister Sarcasm

I’m sarcastic. This is a given fact, and if you’ve ever met me in real life, it’s fairly obvious after about 5 minute’s worth of talking.

When I’m at work, in front of customers or certain coworkers, I mask.

Masking – a process in which an individual changes or “masks” their natural personality to conform to social pressures, abuse or harassment.

If I’m in an unknown social situation where I’m expected to “conform” to social norms, I mask.

But catch me in a known, comfortable, or laid-back social setting (ex., with friends, or my kids)? And you’ll get the Sarcastic Sister.

And… I use it to deflect criticism, as well.

In fact, I will use sarcastic self-deprecation to head off criticism from others.

I mean, if I’m cutting myself down… what good is it for someone else to attempt microaggressions & insults?

After all, I got there first, and with far better sarcastic insults about myself than anyone else can come up with. Who knows me better than me? Who knows right where to stick the knife so as to thwart further injury by outsiders?

Yup.

I emotionally cut myself to prevent others from doing so.

That’s priceless logic, ain’t it?

So, to show what I mean, a friend of mine upon moving away, gave me a box of affirmations. In the “advent calendar” style, you can pop one open & read something nice, that’s supposed to boost your mood about yourself.

So, of course, I’ve started opening them, & immediately twisting them.

Cause of how I do.

Pandora’s box, Trojan horse…same feel.
My body doesn’t make the sweet feelings anymore, so I use store-bought.
Because – science.
Cloning – not for everyone.
*sigh* is the picture clear enough, or..maybe a couple more.
No caption necessary
My personal favorite – simple & eloquent

One day, I decided the shit was deep enough around me, so I’d take it easy on myself…

Nice enough, yeah?

One of my coworkers asked me yesterday

“How the hell.do you think these things up? Do they just pop into your brain as soon as you read the cards?”

*sigh* yeah.

It’s called Maladaptive Cognition.

There’s always that small “voice” in my brain that pipes up to knock me “back into my lane”.

Another coworker told me I should write “sarcastic self-affirmations”, cause they’d sell like crazy. Meh. I know they might, but why risk yet another form of rejection among so many others?

I usually just shrug it off in front of others, & lay it off to “Well, I’m just twisted.”

They agree, & we go on about our business. They’ve been entertained with my antics, & I’ve prevented someone else from hurting my feelings by beating them down a little myself.

It keeps the hyenas off my lawn.

Sarcasm – the ultimate self defense.

I Am

I am that which lies between

The instant before the stone hits the water’s surface, knowing it will shatter the peaceful pond

That final exhalation of breath when life ceases

The moment of pure clarity before waking, disappearing in the fog of consciousness

and the desperation of waking in terror from nightmares, gasping for breath

I am the tingling smell of ozone, right before the lightning strikes


And the instant and all-consuming blindness that happens after the strike, leaving you in the void of darkness, groping for the nearest safety


I am the rope, dangling just out of reach, fibers brushing just your fingertips, and swinging away


the foothold inches from where you cling, toes stretched and straining to touch


I am that which is forever sought,


Always dreaded


Ever unattainable


I am that which lies at the heart of desire


And at the bottom of fear


I am.

Barbed Wire, Concrete, & Sarcasm

When I was very young, and I’m talking single-digit ages here, I was an extremely gregarious, open, talkative, & mostly-happy child.

Me, about age 9, horse-whisperer.

I had friends, I was involved in Girl Scouts, even had a “boyfriend” (in 10-yr old speak, that meant we spent a summer talking about horses & riding horses around town.)

In 1981, after we moved from Iowa to North Dakota, I started to change.

Through no fault of my own, when I started school, I was immediately tagged as “other”.

Small town, everyone knows everyone, & either they’re related, or their families have been friends for generations.

Me – I was smart and didn’t play their traditional sports, so automatically, a geek, and a loser.

Mind you, I could’ve ridden circles around them on horseback, but put both my feet on the ground?

Completely uncoordinated & awkward.

Anyway, I got bullied a LOT in middle & highschool.

So, I started building defenses.

And while my first defense was to retreat from social interactions, after being “Mean Girled” multiple times,

Sarcasm was one of my favorites languages.

I just kept my comments low, usually one-line zingers, so that only the closest people to me could hear.

And, I wrote.

A fuckton of bad emo poetry.

And some interesting essays, that I still enjoy re-reading, sometimes. Ahh nostalgia, you saucy, philosophical bitch.

Once out of highschool, I went a little bonkers.

Of course, this was post- 16-yr old trauma, but… Some of it was me, searching desperately for my younger, more outgoing self. And, it was the late 80s. EVERYTHING was overblown in the 80s.

The hair, the clothes, the makeup, movies, music, hell, even the jewelry.

And, so was my Attitude.

With a CAPITAL-FUCKING-A.

I drank, I partied at one particular fraternity in college (TKE, love your house forever), and, after I left college, I partied harder.

I spent a lot of time perfecting my “fuck off if you don’t like me” persona.

When, in reality, I cared a whole mess of a bunch.

Emotional defenses are some of the most difficult to break through, both from outside AND within.

And it affects the reasons why you do the things you do, as well as how you react to things around you.

My current defense mechanisms are strong, and mostly unconscious.

And with this being Mental Health Awareness month, I’m gonna spill some of my deepest-held secrets.

Buckle up.

It’ll never happen

I talked to my mom on the phone last night, and it finally struck home to me.

I will never have her support for the traumas I’ve been through in my life.

We were talking about a friend of mine who moved back to Florida, & when she asked where she lives, I told her.

Mom: “Oh, that’s the same city *he’s* (my male sibling) lived in.”

Me: Yeah, mom, I know.

“And btw, the girls (his daughters, my nieces) are coming up to visit this summer. I need to get in touch with Youngerdaughter to see if she wants to schedule her time home to coincide, so she can see them”.

Me: It would be nice, I don’t get to have any contact with them.

My sibling made a big deal of telling me years ago that he had the passwords & logins for his wife’s social media, as well as his daughters, so I believe he would not just watch if I tried to interact with them, but actively block contact or attack me through their pages.

You can think me paranoid if you want, but he’s attacked me verbally & emotionally so many times I have blocked every attempt he’s made to contact me. He is toxic in my life, & I won’t put up with his abuse.

Mom: “Oh, honey, he’s changed.”

Me: Not enough to say he’s sorry for what he’s done & said. Last time, Mom, he said “I’m sorry if you felt hurt, but sometimes you’re just too sensitive.” He didn’t say he was sorry for hurting me, he put the blame for my trauma back on me, then told me that I was “too sensitive”.

BEING SENSITIVE TO PAIN IS A TRAUMA RESPONSE.

Me: Mom, he has never apologized for what he said, or for what he’s done, he’s always just “I’ve grown up, & want to move past this”

Me: Translation – I’m tired of being called out for the real harm I caused, & want everyone to sweep it under the rug, because it doesn’t fit my “benevolent Christian man, husband & father” persona.

Mom: “Did I tell you my dog hurt her paw? She won’t let anyone anywhere near it.”

After about 10 more minutes of basic, surface conversation, I told her I love her, & hung up.

Avoidance, thy name is Mom.

Same thing happens whenever I bring up anything regarding the sexual assault I suffered from my best friend’s brother when I was 16. Her best friend is this (now man’s) mother. Every time she comes to visit, my mom wants me to see her, & they end up, somehow, working his name into the conversation, which sends me into a PTSD- induced panic attack.

Mom once: “Its been XX years. You should move past this. Let it go.”

I was never believed, not by anyone from either of our families. I was never allowed to talk about it, except when my parents tried to send me to a Christian counselor, & then told him that I thought I was molested. Not that it had actually happened, but that I thought it did.

I love both my parents. And I’m lucky to still have them in my life.

But, that hurts.

It hurts to know that my pain will never be valid in their eyes.

That they don’t believe that one instance even happened, but that I made it up or dreamt it.

And that they don’t remember reading the actual email my sibling sent me that ripped our family apart.

“My little sister died years ago. I don’t know you.”

Oh, fucker, you don’t know how right you are.

She died at 16, when a boy she trusted sexually assaulted her, and no one believed her.

She died at 17, when her parents sent her to a counselor & told him they thought she was delusional.

She died again at 19, when she was raped in college, and didn’t feel as though she could tell her parents, because why would they believe her now, when they didn’t before?

She died AGAIN, when at 20, they accused her of being on drugs, and forced her to get tested, when she’d never taken drugs in her life.

And she dies again, and again, and again, when they excuse her abusers for hurting her.

I still love my parents.

Don’t forget that.

But, loving them, does not make what they say & do, right.

My parents have always been the “turn the other cheek” people.

I can’t. I won’t. I will NOT give you another chance to hurt me, after being repeatedly struck on one side.

I still love my parents.

They’re good people.

But, the pain is real, when I know I’ll never have their unconditional love & support.

It’ll never happen.

Conscious

I don’t want to sleep.

The depression & anxiety have gotten worse, & my brain keeps trying convince me that I’ll “not wake up”, if I fall asleep.

I have to force myself most nights to lay down, put on a eye mask (so I can’t look around), & pass into unconsciousness.

And then, there are the nightmares

I

Just

Need

Sleep