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

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.

Dichotomy

I spent a lot of time thinking about this, yesterday, on my drive to & from my folks’ house.

I am a tangle of contradictions.

Most people know one side only, as I keep its opposite pretty well hidden from view.

And nearly all the people who know me IRL, know the jokester, who mixes in with the caring, nurturing part of me. (If I care about you, I care enough to joke with you/about you)

Something I don’t say often, though, is that – once I love someone, it’s forever. No matter how much this can hurt ME in the end. And I’m not just talking about being in love with someone, I’m also talking about Chosen Family love. And there’s a few of those out there.

Beloved Nephew is first & foremost of the Chosen. He is now, and has been for years, my best friend. There could never be anything intimate between us, because we’re family to each other, but he knows me better than anyone else alive.

And he’s seen both sides of my personality.

There are also kids, well, they’re not kids anymore, because they’re godsbedamned grownups now, (yes, I’m feeling the age, here). Kids my children brought home with them, who needed an adult at the time to tell them that they were going to be ok. That they were enough, that they could do this thing called life. I don’t get to see them, or talk to them anymore, because they’ve moved on & past needing me, but I still consider them Chosen Family.

And yes, it stings a little sometimes when I think that, once I wasn’t needed to prop them up, I was forgotten. But that’s what happens. And I don’t want anyone to feel any kind of obligation to me because I was kind to them. That’s selfish. I’m just glad they’ve grown, and hopefully gotten themselves to a good place.

And, yes, there are people whom I’ve been involved with in the past, exes. Who doesn’t have those?

And yes, some of them I love.

Still.

To this day.

NOT to say that I’d go back to them, because most I wouldn’t. There was a reason behind the split, and it was needed. I’m healthier, emotionally, mentally, without them in my life.

There’s a couple that I would, but it probably wouldn’t be good for me, so I keep my damn mouth shut. Go me. (sarcastic eye roll)

BUT.

Not one of them can say they’ve truly seen my other side.

The dark coldness that I keep for only myself.

Y’all have no idea.

There is a detachment that happens when my switch gets flipped. And I can honestly say I, myself, have only seen it truly come out a couple of times. Always in the most dire of situations, and ALWAYS as a protective measure, either for myself, or for a loved one.

Example – cutting my male sibling out of my life.

I’m not going to retell the story, just know that I did it to protect myself from further emotional harm.

The point here, is, that I was able to do it. With no guilt, no remorse, and no second thoughts.

And no one has ever, nor will they ever, talk me out of it. Familial guilt gets nothing.

Talk of blood, of dna, gets nowhere.

After all, his blood, his dna didn’t stop him from hurting me in the first place, now, did it?

Anywho, before I get completely derailed off onto a rant, this is only one example.

But it’s an effective one.

The level of darkness to which I can descend, should I deem it necessary to the situation, is one which most would never seek, and I’m sure, they would never suspect me of reaching it.

But a part of me lives there.

And only the Nephew has seen it, or heard it in my voice.

Probably because he recognizes a kindred spirit when he meets one.

But, I digress.

My tangled dichotomy is pretty balanced, ironically enough.

Because as deep as my darkness goes, that is how far my love extends. And vice versa.

Scary thought, hunh?

Safety First…or last…it’s whatever.

My Beloved Nephew and I were talking the other night about risk management. He was contemplating something that could change his life, but couldn’t decide which route to take. Which risk was worth it?

Some risks are acceptable, because they are very small, & not likely to cause a shift in your life. They’re easy, both to take, & to live with.

Example – trying a new food. This might end up as a foodgasm, & you’ll want to consume this again, or it could be an ashy dumpster fire, & you’ll wretch, vowing to never let this cross your palate in this lifetime.

Risk assessment? Low, go for it. βœ…

Other risks are – possibly life altering, in that they could bring either positive, or negative equity into your life. These risks could move you forward into your goals, sparking joy & abundance…

Or they could draw you into an emotional, financial hole that would be difficult to crawl back out of again.

Risk assessment? Medium to high. Research, research, research. Maybe ask an opinion from someone trusted. Try to see what the benefit-to-loss ratio is. Write down pros & cons. Weigh & measure everything before deciding.🚧

And, of course, there are some risks that are simply too.

Too dangerous.⁉

Too embarrassing.❌

Too awful.β›”β˜’β˜£

Too deadly.☠️

Abort commencement. Please back away from the door…it’s on fire… and emitting noxious gasses.β‰βŒβ›”β˜’β˜£β˜ οΈ

I’ve been rolling along, lately, trying to manage my life by taking only βœ… risks. Sure, it’s a whole lot more comfortable to live this way financially, geographically.

But, I’m left, emotionally, canceled.

This is bland, boring, quiet (which, yeah, I like my solitude & quiet, but sheesh), and I need something else. Something more than taupe, slate and oyster. Something a little more lime, crimson and onyx.

This is where I kind of fell down the philosophical rabbit 🐰 hole in the conversation.

What in your life is guaranteed?

I mean, rock-solid, certified, absolutely concrete, as a result of a myriad of choices throughout your existence?

Death.

That’s it. Everyone gets a one-way ticket. What’s at the destination? *shrug* No fricking idea, but we’re all going, sooner or later.

Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING else carries a platinum-plated guarantee like this.

Everything else in our lives is mutable, ever-shifting, transitory & possible/impossible.

Warranties and guarantees are for large appliances.

What does this mean?

Well, for me, this means I need to start getting off my ass, taking only the βœ… risks.

I need to start contemplating the 🚧 risks. I need motion, action, & research. Cause-Effect.

I’m tired of stagnating and waiting for something to come along. Waiting for my life to truly start.

Fuck.

I’m 50 years old.

My life started without me a long time ago, and has been chugging along, watching me sit on the sidelines. It’s been mocking me for years for my inactivity.

Fucker.

Comfort is a lie. The only way to truly be alive is to always be at least mildly uncomfortable.

Because if you’re not uncomfortable, you won’t shift to change anything.

And that, is death.

The only true comfort, is 6 feet underground, with your eyes closed on this plane forever.

-“Get busy living, or get busy dying, the only sin is lack of trying”

I know, Stephen King wrote the first part of that in the Shawshank Redemption, but I would swear another of my favorite authors, Robert Heinlein, wrote that in his classic Time Enough for Love. (I’ll have to go back & reread it for the 50th time to check)

Anywho, the sentiment stands.

‘Cause I’m not ready to be dead.

In The Middle

So, here I am…officially 50 years old now. (Birthday was on the 11th)

I sure as hell don’t feel like it – well, most days. Some days, I feel about 106.

I’ve actually been having a lot of health crap going on over the last few months, which doesn’t hrlp.with the “feeling old” thing, but I don’t really feel like talking about it right now, so – moving on.

Instead, I just wanted to blab.

First- I HAVE MY GRANDSON THIS WEEKEND!

Goddess, I love this little boy so much. He & my daughter lived with me until he was 2 or so, & I was like a second parent, rather than a grandparent, so we have a very special relationship.

He’s my Schnicklefritz, & my buddy.

We’ve been indulging ourselves in junk food & gaming, staying up late & laughing.

And yesterday we went to the zoo, & spent a couple of hours just bumming.

I cherish my time with this precious kid, & I’ll be sad when I have to take him back to his dad’s tomorrow.

He just makes everything else seem better, ya know?

My Floor is Lava

My emotions are all over the place right now.

Ever since my ER visit, & subsequent withdrawal from my latest med, I’m a sobbing hot mess, who can’t seem to figure out if I’m ok, or if my floor is lava.

So, I had a visit with my regular doc today, & I was hoping she could put me on a different med.

Instead, she told me that, because we’re having difficulty finding a med that works for me now…she’s referring me to the psychiatric clinic.

Now, back up a little.

I’ve been on anti-anxiety meds since 2008. Yes, it took a couple of trial-and-errors to find one that worked for me, but then I was on that one for about 12 years, with almost NO side effects.

Then, in October of 2018, I hit a depression so deep, I lay at the bottom of it for a whole year.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for my kids, my Best friend/Nephew, & my parents, I had 3 severe times that winter, where I would have “taken too many”, and just ended it.

I waited through the nice months of 2019. Normally the return of sun, warmth, & natural Vitamin D, can drag me from the seasonal depression.

But, it didn’t happen.

I finally told my doc when it was time for my annual physical (because I couldn’t raise any “give a fucks” to call sooner). I needed an antidepressant.

This was at the middle of December? maybe? Time gets weird when your brain is not balanced right. It’s slippy, & stretchy.

After a couple of weeks, my depression started to peel away like a bad sunburn.

Cue the side effects.

Then the ER visit capper.

Annnnnnd, here we are today.

My LOGIC says that my doc is right, & that a referral is probably the best thing. She’s not a psychiatric specialist, even though she does see a lot of depression/anxiety patients.

My INTELLECT tells me that this is fine, right & good.

My EMOTIONS, colored by the liars and thieves of anxiety and depression, tell me that my doctor has now washed her hands of this nutjob hot mess, who’s making shit up for attention.

And, since the doc told me that she’ll send my referral in, THEN the new clinic will contact me to schedule an appointment…

My lying emotions are now sobbing that they’ll never call, because my doc is just brushing me off, & I’m on my own on this from now on.

Logically, I know better.

Emotionally, the fucking floor is lava, & I’m going to burn.

And I’m having trouble even contacting my Trusteds, because I don’t want to lay this mess in their laps.

I know each of them would slap me on the back of the head & tell me that’s what they’re there for, & to stop fucking around & call them…

Again Cool Logic/vs/Emotional lava.

I just can’t right now.

I can smile, but it still burns.

Uncle Jeff

My Uncle Jeff passed away last night.

His son, my cousin Cody, passed away August 1st.

Once again, I will not be able to go to the funeral, because it’s 13 hours away. Also, my ElderDaughter & her family are coming this weekend to visit.

My head is a mess.

I’m glad I’ll get to see my grandbabies, EldestDaughter, her husband “Moose”, & her friend who’s traveling with them.

But my heart is also in shreds, after losing yet another family member to cancer. Father and son, both gone within weeks of each other.

At least he’s not suffering anymore”…they say

My head knows this is true.

My heart just wants to stop the pain.

My mom couldn’t even call me to tell me today, she texted me the news.

He was her baby brother.

My thoughts are so random and disjointed.

And I still have to clean house before the kids get here tomorrow night.

It doesn’t help that my water heater started leaking on Sunday, so I had to have a new one installed yesterday.

Another expense I can’t really afford…

Which just means that even if the kids weren’t coming this weekend, I still wouldn’t have been able to go to Iowa for the funeral.

I just can’t deal right now.

And yet, here I sit, again, trying to get through another pain-filled night by myself. I just really need someone to fucking hug me & tell me it will get better.

Just for a minute.

I want someone to comfort me, instead of always having to try to get through it alone.

I miss my family, but there’s no way to fix it.

I wish I could be there for my Aunt & my other cousins, but I can’t go.

I want to run.