Why Are You Still Single?

This is the dreaded question. What it really means is, why are you unlikable or unlovable?

Today, I was asked this question by a man who was also single. I answered like I would have in my former life, pre-brain surgeries: “I’ve raised a lot of men. They go on to marry the women after me. By that time, I can’t stand to look at them.”

But there’s a lot more to this conversation. The man asking me was a cabbie I had previously gotten a ride from once before, who told me a horrible and sad story about how he was driving a dump truck in New York City and a Chinese food delivery person ran a red light and put himself under the cabbie’s dump truck. The cabbie stopped his humongous truck as quickly as he could, but of course, it took far too long and the delivery person was dragged some distance. The cabbie was so traumatized that every time he drove over a bump he stopped his vehicle and got out to look under it. The food delivery driver died almost instantly.

The cabbie also revealed to me that when he left New York to start his life over, he left his kids and two divorces behind. He had to get away from all of the landmarks and reminders, and as it turns out, his second wife was cheating on him as well. He needed to start his life over with a clean slate. 

When I saw him today, I asked how he was doing and if he was able to spend time with his kids on his trip back home. We talked about how hard it was for him to be away from them, harder still to leave them behind and to come back here to return to work and deal with feelings of isolation.

I know from our previous conversation that he is a firm believer that the man is the head of the household, and that women should bear children and stay at home with them and take care of them. I’m quite the opposite – my goal has always been to find a true partnership, where I don’t have to be responsible for the household plus my job plus keeping everything straight for my husband. When we pulled into my parking lot and we got done laughing because he scraped the bottom on the undercarriage on the parking marker, I didn’t do a very good job of fending off his thinly-veiled come-on line of “So, why are you still single?” while his voice suddenly dropped to a lower level.

My first thought is, isn’t it obvious? I mean, I walk with a cane. And I have to use a taxi that is designated for use by disabled people because I can’t drive myself. Those are just the obvious things. Sometimes I get Quasimodo eyes because of the facial paralysis. There’s other factors too that I don’t discuss with strangers, and that includes my complete lack of hair nearly anywhere (except my big toes right now – why couldn’t that be my eyelashes???), and my really, super painful infection tracts that I get in various areas of my body that is another autoimmune disease. I’m sure that the fact that I’m a demanding pain in the ass is cause for consideration too. 

If I didn’t have any scruples, I could have said, “Let’s do something.” He doesn’t know anyone here and has only lived in Phoenix since April. He could probably use a friend, maybe even a girlfriend who doesn’t take advantage of him and his willingness to pay for everything. If I didn’t have any scruples, I could probably explain a few things to him and he might say hey, that’s okay, let me help you, call me for anything. But I can’t do that. That’s not a partnership. That’s encouraging the same pattern for him. 

I’m also trying to change my own path and patterns. I don’t believe I’m unlovable. But I no longer want to say yes to men just because they show interest in me. (I’m still surprised when anyone signals they’re interested because that’s the furthest thing from my mind; sometimes all I’m thinking about is dodging dog poop to get to my front door.)

That cabbie and I have a lot of healing and growing to do.

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Sugar and Spice and…NO.

Today was dedicated to running around and getting prescriptions and a flu shot. Nothing special about today except the weather was grey and rainy, which is not at all normal for Arizona.

And oh god, a message that started with, “I’m sending you this message because…”

I didn’t read it while I was out in public. It was from someone I used to be close to, who dropped off the face of the earth for the thousandth time. She sent it through Facebook messenger, so I’m not sure if she previously deleted my email addresses.

The gist of her message was, “I don’t expect a reply. I cut off contact with you because 20 years ago you didn’t bring me food when I was sick and you went to Las Vegas with your boyfriend instead and you didn’t call me. And one time when you were visiting you didn’t call me, I had to call you, and you said you were getting really busy, and I could drive up to St. Cloud to meet up with you or go out to eat with you and your sister and brother-in-law and it offended me.”

So let me explain a few things. When we lived in New Mexico at the same time 20 years ago, she had a pager she would never respond to. That was how I was allowed to contact her. Also when we lived in New Mexico, she was a heavy pot smoker, and whenever she smokes weed, she starts fights. All of her other acquaintances would ask me what was wrong, and I told them to keep her away from the weed if they didn’t want to fight. They finally made the connection. And for the last few months that I was there, I couldn’t get ahold of her at all even after driving to her last known location because she cut off all communication. This is a repeating pattern.

Whatever visit she’s referring to where she had to reach out to me, again, I have never been allowed to call her. She doesn’t believe in talking on the phone. Keep in mind that texting has not been a thing for the entire last 27 years that she and I have known each other. She didn’t like to talk on the phone because it made her nervous; the reasons why changed over the years. Email was not always practical because, again, it was not always portable. So there were times our relationship was limited to mailing letters back and forth. When I used to travel, sometimes I would only be back for 3 or 4 days, and I would have to see multiple households because my parents were divorced and remarried, plus my siblings were grown and married. I was fucking trying to make everyone happy. Plus, hey – I was flying into their state. The last time I flew into the area (not as a resident), I DID see her, stayed at her place and saw her boyfriend perform with his band.

I’m not going to keep score on who didn’t fly out to see me. She had her own shit to deal with. But to be told I’m not worthy of friendship because of these things makes it pretty easy for me to close this chapter.

Co-Dependency: I’ll Scratch Your Back If You’ll Scratch Mine

Co-dependent: I’m quick to use the term. It’s not so easy to define, though. I’ve been trying for better than a decade to find just the right words. It seems most psychology publications are in the same boat as me.

PsychCentral defines it as “a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.” So really, they provided two definitions, not just one.

GoodTherapy.org breaks it down with a good ol’ list (because we love bullets) and explains that the “old” way of thinking was that everyone’s feelings were centered on one person’s addictive behaviors. Now co-dependence is recognized in much broader terms to include the role of caregiving, denial of personal problems, low self-esteem, feelings of guilt when offered help or attention from others, sensitivity to criticism, perfectionism and fear of failure, a projection of competence and a need to control others.

But the definition from GoodTherapy.org doesn’t make clear that there has to be at least two people in the relationship to make it co-dependent. At least one of the parties has to have low self-esteem and be sensitive to criticism and project a false sense of competence, and have support and attention from another party to continue carrying on with those behaviors. And let’s be clear, here: both or all parties can be co-dependent upon each other. Mothers and daughters, friends, teachers and students, lovers. Of course, some relationships are much more intimate and lasting than others.

Here is a comprehensive list from CoDA.org (Co-Dependents Anonymous.org):

Patterns and Characteristics of Co-Dependence; Co-dependents often:
• have difficulty identifying what they are feeling.
• minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel.
• perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
• lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
• label others with their negative traits.
• think they can take care of themselves without any help from others.
• mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
• express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
• do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted.

Low self-esteem patterns; Co-dependents often:
• are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
• compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
• put aside their own interests in order to do what others want.
• are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings.
• are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
• accept sexual attention when they want love.
• make decisions without regard to the consequences.
• give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.

Control patterns; Co-dependents often:
• believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
• attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
• freely offer advice and direction without being asked.
• become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice.
• lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence.
• use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
• have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others.
• demand that their needs be met by others.
• use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate.
• use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally.
• refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
• adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
• use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
• pretend to agree with others to get what they want.

Avoidance patterns; Co-dependents often:
• act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them.
• judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
• avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance.
• allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships.
• use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
• diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery.
• suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
• pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away.
• refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves.
• believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
• withhold expressions of appreciation.

As I revisit the definitions, I evaluate first my own behavior, but also a few specific relationships near me (that I have to be careful not to become too invested in, though I tend to become protective and outraged when I spot misbehavior). I think that the actual name “co-dependency” will be adjusted within the next 5-10 years, though what it will morph into will be a great mystery.

The Great Debate

When I was 14, I was visiting my dad’s house for the weekend and sleeping on the couch, which was the normal – I didn’t have a bedroom there. I’m a light sleeper. So it was a surprise that somehow between 12:30 a.m., when I fell asleep, and 7:00 a.m., when my stepmom answered a phone call from a stranger alerting her to the fact that her purse was scattered on the stranger’s front lawn, that the house had been robbed – and the burglar had somehow gotten past me. Three hunting rifles had been taken off of the wall along with a video camera and tripod, and of course, the purse.

The next night my dad took my place on the couch with his handgun in case anyone decided to come back. We used all of my babysitting cash to re-key the locks. But this story demonstrates many points: I grew up around guns (that were never locked up), the hunting rifles made it somewhere into the wide world to be used for who knows what, and that we are a violent society. The cops were surprised I was still alive and unharmed.

Not many years later, when my brother was five and a half, he was given his first gun for Christmas. His first few minutes alone with it and he shot out his bedroom light. I was never given a gun because I was a girl. Mind you, I never felt as if I missed out. But my dad and my brother perpetuated craving violence and guns. Even though I was the one who was on the couch, exposed, they were the ones who wanted to kill, kill, kill. At least, that’s what they projected.

My dad’s own father died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In fact, Dad was the one who found him. Included in the three rifles that were stolen was the one that Grandpa used to do the deed. It had a strange sort of sentimental value that I couldn’t relate to. Who would want to cradle that weapon, and use it over and over, knowing its history?

Fast forward a few decades to when I lived with violent men. One was the guy who grew up in Manhattan in a household whose own siblings stabbed each other. The last day I saw him was the last time I called the cops on him, when he was supposed to be gone at work while I moved my things out of the house we were renting. Instead he was hiding in one of the back rooms and came out when I set down some moving boxes and attacked me. I struggled to get back out to my car in my stocking feet and he was restraining me and pinning my arms, telling me that if I would just do what he told me to do, we would be happy. I finally wrestled free and got in my car and called 911. The responding police officers bought his big-eyed innocent act and told me that if I called them again that I would be arrested.

Then there was the live-in boyfriend who threatened to shoot me – twice. He also talked about taking his guns to work to shoot all of his co-workers constantly. The cops reassured me there was absolutely nothing I could do until he actually followed through and hurt one or all of us. 

Most recently of course was my downstairs neighbor who moved out the last weekend of July, 2017. He used to beat his wife and abuse their cat. Whenever I had visitors I was a nervous wreck, because I had no idea if he would pound down the door while they were here, falsely claiming that we were too loud, or take it out on me later, screaming and raging and dreaming up reasons to call the cops on me. Worse yet he could of course physically pulverize his wife and cat for revenge, just for existing. He was ex-military so I knew it was likely there was a gun or two or seven in his apartment.

So here we are in the U.S. with our easy access to the worst kinds of weapons and ammunition. I am the one who was laying on a couch while a stranger or two crept past me to rob our house; you would think I would fall into the category of wanting a gun for home protection. I grew up around them; you would think I would relax around them. I’ve lived with and around plenty of assholes who have wanted me dead; you would think that I would feel safer armed.

Fuck that.

First of all, we have over 7 billion people on the planet. We are no longer hunting strictly for food supply. Anyone who claims that is an outright liar. And hunting season is so abbreviated that there’s no need to keep guns out for the entire year to make them accessible to every man, woman and child on the planet. Second, home invasions do not happen with the regularity that the NRA has somehow convinced the gun lovers they do. I remember reading from one guy a quote last week that Texas experiences 800,000 home invasions a year. My answer was, “Are you talking about bugs?” I mean, c’mon. If that were true, Texas would be experiencing a mass exodus.

The biggest and hottest debate that has resurfaced is the arming of school staff. I cannot stress this enough, but there are so, SO many reasons why this is a bad idea. Right now I live in the city where Philando Castille was shot. He had a permit to carry a concealed weapon and told the cops, and was shot and killed anyway. If for some reason some idiots decided arming school staff members would be a good idea, the staff members had better be lily white, because we Americans cannot be trusted to be color blind. Even black cops have proven to have prejudice against black suspects without meaning to.

I posted this article on Facebook regarding an armed officer who never engaged in the shootout that was happening in Florida. He simply hung back while all of those kids were getting shot. I pointed out that if an officer did this, why would we expect teachers to uniformly charge without fear or hesitation, and to act correctly? A friend of 27 years, whom I considered a decently good friend, didn’t like that I used this as an example of why we shouldn’t arm teachers and staff. He also didn’t like that I proposed that we have stricter gun laws regarding background checks, wait times, amount of ammunition sold, amount of ammunition guns could fire, types of guns that could be sold on the market, and age of buyers/operators. He resorted to calling me an idiot. Finally, he just outright blocked me. 

But am I an idiot? I’ve just been trying to stay alive. I have all of this violence swirling around me, and all of these men are insisting that they have a right to violate me. I’m saying no. I will continue to say no. I’m good with saying no.

Lastly, here is a comprehensive list from a woman named Karen Nichols in Ottawa Center, Michigan; she had many questions regarding arming teachers and staff, and did a great job of articulating them:

Which teachers get guns?
Where will the guns be stored?
Who decides when guns can be brandished?
What penalties will apply if teachers mishandle a weapon?
Will teachers volunteer for gun duty?
Can teachers refuse it?
Who will audit their adherence to regulations?
Will students know which teachers have weapons?
Who will be liable if the teacher with the gun becomes the shooter?
What will be the consequences when students are accidentally shot by a teacher?
How will armed teachers communicate in a tactical situation?
Will teachers with a history of mental illness be allowed to use weapons?
Will teachers be required to disclose any history of mental illness?
Will teachers be issued a weapon? Reimbursed for purchase? For ammunition?
How will administrators conduct non-weapon-related discipline against a teacher?
Will there be armed assistance available to deter workplace shootings?
Who will shepherd the armed teacher’s classroom while the teacher is attempting to locate the active shooter?
What happens when a teacher misidentifies a student as a threat in good faith?
Will teachers who do not carry lethal weapons be offered non lethal alternatives?
If an armed teacher is shot, can another teacher employ his or her weapon?
How will armed teachers identify themselves to arriving first responders?
Will armed teachers be required to learn how to give first-response medicine?
Will armed teachers be required to attempt an arrest before using lethal force? Under what circumstances?
Will proficiency training on weapons count for teachers’ continuing education and professional development?
How will insurers adjust health and other rates to account for the presence of armed employees?
Will teachers receive additional pay for being armed?
how often will armed teachers be re-evaluated for licensing purposes?
Will armed teachers leading field trips deposit their weapons in a personally owned vehicle or school-owned transport?
Will one teacher per wing of a school building receive weapons? Two? Three?
Exactly which standards will count for proficiency—greater than a big-city police department, State Police, FBI, hobbyist, marksman?
In training scenarios, how will using force against innocents be penalized?
Will racial sensitivity courses be required?
Do parents have a right to refuse to send their kids to schools with guns?
Will students have to sign waivers? Will parents? What if a parent signs a waiver for a minor student who, when that student turns 18, refuses to abide by its provisions?
Will teachers on probation be allowed to carry weapons?
What about teachers with active union grievances? Complaints about sexual harassment? Anger management? Divorce proceedings?
Will armed teachers wear holsters?
Will they be stationed strategically during pep rallies or other gatherings?
Will they participate in lockdown drills as if they were armed or unarmed?
Will funding for the policies outlined above be distributed according to local budgets, statewide formulas, or national formulas?
Will schools in high-risk neighborhoods receive more or less funding? Suburban schools?
What is the right ratio of armed:unarmed teachers by grade level?
What is the procedure for debriefing and assessing armed teachers’ performance during a crisis?
Can an armed teacher who flinches be fired? Can an armed teacher who breaks protocol be rewarded?
Will preschool teachers have guns?
Will teachers in “juvie” (high risk) schools have guns?
Will the teacher or the school be liable if their gun is stolen?
Can administrators carry weapons? Can they do so in disciplinary situations?

Think about this: I quit playing clarinet after 8th grade because my band teacher was an outright asshole. After I quit, he was fired for punching a student. But let’s give him a gun, right?

This is a Test

Another chronic illness blogger has been kind enough to let a bunch of us tell our stories on her site, and late last week my most up-to-date info was included. She has indicated that she may discontinue the series if she no longer has parties interested in being part of the project, but there are so many of us out there that I would be surprised if the well ever dried up.

From This Point. Forward.

Today was a really big day in my little alien world. I finally got the upright MRI that I’ve been asking for for 6.5 years. In all of the 56 doctors that I’ve seen, it has only been the most recent neurologist who hasn’t fought me on my request and put the order in.

So I got strapped into a chair and a cage was lowered over my head and screwed into place like I was Hannibal Lector. Like I was ready for some football and to call out some huts! I was sandwiched and squished between two huge, white panels, a bar propped between the panels for my hands and then one lower for feet to rest on to make my very own roller coaster ride more comfortable.

A couple of times the tech buzzed in and said, “I’m picking up movement. Try to keep very still.” I had explained to her that I sometimes have trouble with tremors in my neck when we were going over the questionnaire, but maybe she’s heard that line before and doesn’t think it’s important to remember. I breathe with my diaphragm, so at a break between segments, I moved my arms as far away from my torso as far as the sandwich bread slices would allow me – that way there was less of a chance that my smushed arms would move my head when I breathed.

The tech had given me the option of tilting the chair back at 30-45 degrees, but I explained that it would compromise what we are trying to catch on imaging, so I had to stay completely upright. The MRI takes about 40-45 minutes, and to make sure the pressure in my skull was really high, I exercised my arms for about five minutes both before the cab picked me up, and then again when I changed my clothes. All I have to do is mimic the bicycle motion with my arms like what I do in PT and I nearly go completely blind from the pressure in my skull. This is why I can’t exercise. I would probably give myself seizures.

At the end of it when I was extricated from the face trap/sandwich boards, I got up to walk and ended up stumbling around like a cat coming off of anesthesia. I had to have a lot of assistance to walk back to the room where my cane was waiting for me. I might have said, “No, I don’t need a fucking walker.” This scan had better not let me down.

Jann Arden Made Me Do It

Sometimes nostalgia makes us remember things incorrectly, or forgive those who did us wrong. Sometimes when we re-watch movies we thought were once great, they fall flat and we figure out we should have just remembered them fondly instead of watching them one last time. I’m talking about “Bed of Roses,” people. Christian Slater was trying to soften up his image a bit after going through a darker phase (“Heathers” and “Pump Up the Volume,” anyone?), and Mary Stuart Masterson was trying to transition into more grown-up roles. Hell, I was trying to transition into more grown-up roles myself when this movie came out.

“Bed of Roses” was released just as I got my first job under the general umbrella of real estate, specifically for me in title work, throwing me into a 20-year career path. It was also the birth of my dating life as I never experienced it before. Men were actually pursuing me. One of them was an assistant to a very successful real estate agent who used my team for closings. I will call said young man Mr. Sweater (to be explained later). Mr. Sweater was a fast talker, demanding but charming, drove a BMW, tall, and good looking in an Izod-Polo-Gap kind of way. He asked me out, and I accepted. We went to see “Bed of Roses” and then went to eat at Albuquerque’s infamous Rainbow Cafe.

At the cafe, Mr. Sweater ordered me a fruit torte just to “watch my mouth” as I ate it. He talked about how he wanted to fall in love with a woman and send her thousands of roses and buy out a city. I talked about Jann Arden’s song “Insensitive” and that I recognized the song in the movie because I already owned the CD, and Mr. Sweater nearly danced on the table, asking if he could borrow it so he could memorize all of the songs like I had.

Apparently it didn’t take much to get in my pants, because we had sex to close out that first date. I don’t remember much about it, that’s how unremarkable it was. No fireworks. No heady thoughts that I had found my soul mate or that he suddenly cared about me. I certainly didn’t expect to have thousands of sterling roses show up on my doorstep. I did leave some CDs with him, though. My music has always been precious, and for any of you who grew up pre-MP3s, you know how difficult it sometimes was to replace stuff once it was gone (for instance, it took YEARS and YEARS to replace an imported EP of Nine Inch Nails “Get Down Make Love” that a friend gave me from England after it disappeared with an asshole ex who felt entitled to it). I expected to get the CDs back because we talked about future dates – they were definitely on loan, not a gift. The CDs included Jann Arden’s.

This is how different we were in our approaches: Mr. Sweater had a very idealized way of thinking about love and how it should look like a Hallmark commercial; I thought he should treat me like I am a living, breathing human being. Whenever I didn’t act in a way that he wanted me to, he would immediately get pissed and chastise me. Mr. Sweater was all about status and money. It was exhausting for me, because I’m the opposite. I mean, sheesh, yes, I LIKE money, but we seem to not be able to spend much time together – it’s more like a distant and divorced relative. Mr. Sweater would always talk about how much one article of clothing would cost, and I would say, “Gosh, that’s an entire month of rent for me.”

We were doomed. We barely had much in common bringing us together in the first place – in fact, that first date was our last, even though we talked on the phone many times after that. But the final straw was him talking about spending $350 on a sweater and then buying a very high-strung cocker spaniel for $800 (both in 1996 dollars, not adjusted to 2016 dollars). Said dog chewed the hell out of said sweater when Mr. Sweater imprisoned the dog in his apartment and barely took him out for a few minutes at a time – the dog was going fucking crazy. I finally laid it out for him and said, “Hey, how about if you stop talking about how fucking expensive everything is? That’s all you ever talk about, and it’s boring. By the way, take care of your dog or he’s going to keep acting out.”

That didn’t go over so well. Mr. Sweater kept talking about how important the price of the sweater was, and that I just didn’t understand because I didn’t own anything that expensive. From there we quickly progressed to “Fuck you” from both sides.

The problem was that he still had some of my music. That included my precious Jann Arden CD. Why didn’t I just go out and get another one? Well, besides music not always being easy to find (especially a Canadian artist in Albuquerque), I was also on a very tight budget – sometimes I only had $10 a week for groceries. (As a side note, my menu for weeks was 1 bag frozen veggies, 1 can cream of whatever soup, 1 bag cooked white rice, 1 can tuna, and I mixed that up for an entire week and a bowl was either my lunch or dinner – nothing else). For a week and a half, I asked him to bring my music back. Finally one night to shut me up he threw everything in a box and put it at my door located at the back, knocked and then ran. My roommate opened the door while I opened my window and yelled out the front, “YOU AND YOUR SWEATER CAN GO FUCK YOURSELVES!”

Yeah, not my best moment. My roommate had no idea the drama that was unfolding under our roof, and she certainly didn’t expect me to yell expletives out the window like we were living in Hell’s Kitchen on a 5th floor walk-up. One date. One lousy lay. Days and days angst over a guy who didn’t have a clue about how to truly invest himself into a loving relationship. I mean, how could he be so…insensitive?

“Bed of Roses” is available now so you can watch it on Netflix like I did this morning. It feels kind of lackluster, and I’m not really sure if it’s because we’ve seen better scripts come out since then, or if it’s because I know what it’s like to be in love and it’s not just about reciting a bunch of lines and hitting your marks and buying out an entire city’s supply of purple sterling roses. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not about the grand gestures. It’s about my boyfriend seeing my face and knowing that I either need to sit down, lay down, or be done for the rest of the day – even if it’s 2 pm. It’s about being able to let down your guard and have your inside jokes and sacred space, and celebrate laugh lines and hold each other through vulnerabilities.

The Jann Arden song that was in “Bed of Roses” was actually quite fitting for Mr. Sweater – Jann, seriously, did you know that guy?? I wonder if he ever figured it out or if he is like countless other men who are still stuck on empty.

Grief and Acceptance

Every other week I am in my counselor’s office, and there seems to be something new that brings me to tears, which drives me crazy. I can’t figure out why I am crying so much. I mean yeah, I have experienced loss on a major scale in the last nine months – my sister, my friend, my uncle, moving states, losing my job, losing all of my doctors, losing my option for more surgeries – but I keep thinking that I should be adjusted by now. But reading this post by my fellow blogger reminds me that I keep experiencing loss and that I still have a sense of instability. Since my U of MN doctors insist that I don’t have Lyme, I have to go through the long process of getting set up through the NIH rare diseases unit and make arrangements through Vanderbilt University to be studied there, as they have locations designated throughout the country for patients to be screened. In the meantime, I have to continue with my treatments with my naturopath, even though I have NO IDEA if it’s the right thing to do.

In addition, I’ve been given the option of getting a TAP block in my abdomen with the hope that it will relieve some of the nerve pain that I’m having from being allergic to the drainage catheter from the shunt. The doc is going to numb nerves on both sides of my abdomen leading to my lower belly. The kicker? I have no idea if it’s going to affect my sexual functionality. And I’ve got a brand new boyfriend. And I really like said new boyfriend and I want to jump him every time I see him. And I don’t think it will be fair to lose what little functionality I do have, because who knows how much longer these good years of responsiveness are going to last? It’s asking a lot of a new boyfriend to possibly give up intimacy for an unknown period of time (forever???); I mean, I call him The Saint Paul, but Jesus H…I don’t know, is there something that is a step above sainthood? If I lose my ability to orgasm, that’s gonna take a LOT of mourning. Maybe some booze and mood stabilizers. I’m already stressed out about possibly taking out the shunt permanently because it’s clogged and I’m allergic to all of the shunts, which means that I may be stuck laying down forever and can’t be up for even an hour.

In closing: Send kittens and puppies and rainbows.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Picnic with Ants

When people think of grief they often think of death, they don’t think about grieving over other significant losses.  Those of us who have had major losses due to chronic illness know all too well that we grieve those losses.

The five stages of normal grief that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying” are: Denial, Bargaining, Depression, Anger, and Acceptance.  Kübler-Ross describes these stages as being progressive, you needed to resolve one stage before moving on to the next.  This is no longer thought to be true.  It is accepted that most people who have loss go through states of grief but it is not linear nor is it finite.

The 

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Don’t Ever Think ‘Equality’ Is A Dirty Word

We need women (and MEN) from all walks of life, from all occupations, from all age groups, to get on the bandwagon with the idea that equality is worth it. Already my nephews, aged 10 and 6, have started reciting the ugly words, “Boys are smarter than girls.” They certainly didn’t learn that from me or their parents. Now our work is even harder with trying to turn that thought process around (if it is even a process – because they are more parrots at that age than scholars).

I want all girls and boys to grow up to appreciate differences while embracing each other for their value as human beings first.

I want women to receive equal pay for equal work.

I want men to stop claiming all space as their own, including women’s bodies.

I want women to be supportive, rather than see each other as competition to be beat.

But in addition to that:

I want people who are labeled “disabled” to be out in the work force (if they are able) and have a social life filled with inclusion, and to be portrayed correctly in advertising, TV and movies.

I want “inspiration porn” to end.

I want the freedom to practice – or NOT practice – any and every religion of my choosing.

I want churches to start paying taxes.

I want people of ALL races to be valued, truly, but I want privilege to be acknowledged and then driven to extinction.

I want our actions to match our words.

I want choices, whether it’s the company I keep, the job that pays the bills, the food I put in my body, the chemicals I keep away from my dwelling and the doctors I see. The more we work towards total inclusion, the better our lives will feel, period.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jennifer-lawrence-feminism-equal-pay_us_56d08bfee4b03260bf769e58?

Dude, You’re Stepping On My Personal Space

I wrote this article for Patient Worthy on February 14th; since that day I got daily (sometimes twice daily) texts from this guy saying, “Good morning cutie” or “sweet dreams cutie.” The most recent ones – because he still won’t stop – say “Just got to my hotel” and “How are you?” For the life of me, I can’t figure out why he would bait me with the hotel remark because that one really came out of the blue. I haven’t traded texts with him since February 10th. Was the hotel text his clumsy attempt at a booty call? Or was it not intended for me, and instead should have gone to whomever was playing the part of his dirty little secret?

Dude, just…stop.

Boundary Waters and Dating Boundaries

Where Have All The Good Men Gone?

Yesterday I posted an article on Twitter from The Good Men Project site.

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/bots-wedding-feminism-marriage-cost-jrmk/

With the post, I said, “If men are butt hurt by women having careers and their own income, they’re not worth marrying.” Then I included the hashtag #feminism.

I always, always hesitate to include this hashtag. It’s not because I don’t believe in equal rights – I do – but some days I’m just not up to being attacked. There are a multitude of men on Twitter who create mask accounts and watch hashtags like “feminism” because they immediately jump on that thread of conversation to argue with women and tell us we don’t know what we’re talking about, and that we’re stupid, and that we don’t know how to read, and that we are emotional, and that we are fat, and that we just need a good dick to stick it to us.

The first kid that jumped in wasn’t using very strong language. In fact, he was a lot less forceful than the others, but I am thinking this is because of his age; as he gets older and continues to buy into this thought process that men are the “victims” of feminism – rather than understanding that a more equalized and emotionally connected society brings happiness and contentment to most rather than just a select few – he will become more and more angry and disillusioned about his life. When I remarked upon the fact that the ex Dumb and Angry wanted to shoot me because he felt threatened by me earning my own income (that was behind the fight I had to call the cops on), at first the kid said he didn’t know if that was true, but if it was, he wouldn’t continue discussing this topic because I would only be able to see my own experience. I keep saying “kid” because I’m guessing this one can’t be a day over 19. His next argument was that his dad wanted to be the breadwinner and his mom wanted to stay at home, though she ended up having to work. Did I deny those people exist? On the contrary, I absolutely know they do, and told him he can still find them in the 1950’s household fetish group on FetLife. I’m not speaking for them. I’m speaking directly about the men who feel threatened about women earning their own wages.

Another guy jumped in. I’m not sure if his picture was actually of him, but I’m guessing him to be about 27. His first statement was something like, “What if men won’t marry because when they divorce, the ex gets custody?” My reply was, “What if you’re assuming the sole purpose everyone gets married is to procreate and overpopulate the earth?” Then he started MANSPLAINING. He was alternately condescending and insulting. I could tell that he’s been hating on women for a very long time and participating in these “manosphere” groups and picking up their vocabulary. At one point he told me I must be “thick” if I didn’t understand what he was saying. I had restated his argument as “Marriage = children = divorce = custody.” He also pulled up some statistics saying that men work harder and longer than women (not taking into account, of course, that the imaginary children he was so worried about would be taken care of first by his imaginary wife – meaning, if the imaginary children got sick at school, the imaginary wife is traditionally the first one called if she can be reached to pick them up from school, therefore she misses work. We were also missing a chart that allotted time for each spouse for household chores like laundry, cleaning and yard work. Guys, the work doesn’t end when you leave your job). Then he started using the ultimate phrase that is the favorite of all white men from ages 18-60, and that is “strawman.” It didn’t matter what I said, he made sure that became a regular part of the exchange. Then he started calling me pet names (adding to the condescension), so of course, I used them right back. At one point I said something like, “Oh, Bunny, it will be okay. I’m sure some women will worship you – or at least you will tell them they do.”

A third man jumped in. My guess is that he is, again, white and probably around age 47. He said he would never ask “her” because if they got divorced, she would get custody of the kids and he would be ruined financially. He did not use any punctuation. Basically, his argument was the same as the 27-year-old’s: Marriage = children = divorce = custody (with a little child support thrown in). My guess is that he has already procreated with a long-term girlfriend and works at a job that he greatly dislikes; he’s one step away from living in mama’s basement.

A fourth kid (again, maybe 19-22) jumped in and said to me, “You’re a fucking retard.”

A fifth guy cutely said I just needed to get shagged. The 27-year-old agreed, then crowed about how happy he was being a white guy living in Asia (thereby revealing his oh-so-common fetish for Asian women as complacent sexual servants).

So a couple of accounts were reported for being abusive. Keep in mind I didn’t know these guys before they jumped my shit for including the hashtag #feminism. I wasn’t hanging out on the hashtags they use to talk about how stupid women are. They came over to my side to call me an idiot and a retard.

Today a friend sent an article without knowing what had transpired on Twitter. It very well could have been written about these guys. Why it resonates so deeply with me is because it seems to be EVERY man I encounter on OKCupid: not a single one I have interacted with has been interested in a relationship and commitment; rather, they want to fuck as many women as they can, and they are constantly on the lookout for a better choice. It happened most recently with Nashville, and with the guy who is currently separated and probably going to go back to his wife, and with countless others before them. Motherfucking internet.

“The systematic, quantified pursuit of women tends to make men bitter and resentful.”

This statement was written by the author of “The Game” as well as the most recent book, “The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships.” He’s a male who has fallen into the trap of fucking around and always looking for the next best thing, never placing any value on the person he is with, and he has fought his way out of that harmful thinking multiple times. There’s a whole subset of vocabulary used in the manosphere. I invite you to read the article below. It’s the most enlightening thing I’ve read in a very long time – mostly because I realize that it’s not my imagination, and that men are actually congregating and deciding to be heartless, nasty, promiscuous, belittling, dissatisfied, condescending, derogatory and abusive. As was pointed out in the article, all of them have missed the conclusion of each book where the writer talks about how all of that behavior is destructive to the man (and women).

As one of the guy’s grandmothers pointed out, “We’re women too.” Women are not anonymous islands; we are just as interconnected as men in our roles in this society. We are mothers, daughters, aunts, granddaughters, friends. Violence carried out on women affects ALL women. It’s not okay to punch your girlfriend and then turn around and kiss your mother.

It’s a long article, but I promise you, it’s absolutely worth the read from beginning to end:

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/01/jared-rutledge-pickup-artist-c-v-r.html#

As a side note, no one – male or female – joined in this conversation to speak up and say, “Hey, it’s not okay to call her “thick” or a fucking retard or say she just needs some dick.”