Monthly Archives: January 2015

I’m kinda dumb.

Today was just… not well planned. I did too much. That was stupid of me. Let’s start with the premise that I’m down 8 hours of babysitting over the last week–sitter has been sick. That means I’m way higher anxiety/stress than most weeks.

Today started at 4:30am. When Shanna woke up. I kept her from waking up Noah and Calli but it was a near thing. (We actually had a lovely chat.)

We left the house at 8 to drive to Mountain View. Then we drove to Burlingame. Then we went back to Mountain View. Then we drove to Campbell. Then we went back to fucking Mountain View. Then we drove to south San Jose, like where 85/87 hook up. (So about 145 miles. Most of it in bumper to bumper traffic.)

We spent a while scouting the hotel for the My Little Pony conference Easter egg hunt we are working on. (I’ve never been there and it seemed like a good idea to look around. I’m glad we went–we had a great time playing in the hotel.)

Then we went to a craft store to get stuff for Valentines. In the store Calli spent a lot of time crying and yelling at me that I am so mean because I never buy her anything. The irony of a full cart completely escaped her.

Then we went to a comic book store because we had time to kill before we picked up Noah for work and the kids love spending their allowance that way. Calli spent a fair bit of time crying and yelling at me because I am so mean because I helped her pay with exact change so she wasn’t handed change back from the cashier. Clearly I should be shot. (She didn’t tell me that she wanted change till we were outside.)

Then we went to lunch with Noah. That actually went fine.

Then we drove first to one Sports Basement (where I have gone before to register for races) and I discovered…. wrong fucking store. I was kind of far from where I needed to be. I feel ok about not knowing that the Barnes and Noble in the Pruneyard is now a fucking sports store. IT WASN’T WHEN I LIVED THERE. But we registered for the race tomorrow. (For 8 damn people. I kept that registrar busy for a while.)

Then we rushed back to Mountain View for a play date with a friend. On the drive I talked to a good friend who is on the far side of the country. The play date was fine. The little guy had kind of a loud day (I am not allowed to complain about loud children. ahem.and I was kind of freaking out before we arrived (LOTS of Calli screaming at me sets me off) so I spent a lot of the play date twitching. I pray I wasn’t too rude.

Then we picked up Noah from work and he played with the kids in the park for 40 minutes while I read my book and tried to stop shaking.

Then we drove south for dinner with former students. That was a lovely experience. Hanging out with them makes me feel like I might actually know shit and I might have some value as a person. I’m not sure why they give me so much of a bump compared to most of the people in my life. Realistically, all of my former students give me a big bump of self esteem. (Holy shit—it’s no longer mandated that you know me and you choose to continue knowing me?! That’s shit is solid gold for my self esteem.)

Why do the students build me up more than my other friends? If I fucking knew that maybe I could solve some of my problems.

Today has been long. And I’m completely wired for sound. Anxious. Fuss. It’s 9:15 and I should be asleep.

My friend on the phone explained the origin of the allies wanting “cookies” thing. Apparently Chris Rock had a standup routine in which he mocked fathers wanting approval for doing basic parent things. I had no idea. She said it generalized from there into other allies. Good to know.

Tomorrow I am sitting on my ass until the 5k race. Oh yes, I will.

Food, connection, triggers, projecting, all the good stuff

It is very rare that I ask someone for permission before I write about something. Mostly I think, “If you didn’t want me to write about it you shouldn’t have done it.” Sometimes I try to recognize that my writing causes other people to have feelings and that’s a complicated thing. I don’t think I “make” people feel things. But I think that if you are going to put a whole series of bombs along the bottom of a building you can’t get upset when the building explodes.

I asked before writing this one. Because I’m going to touch on someone very dear to my heart whom I have hurt quite a lot around this topic. She’s not the reason or the center but people have feelings when they are mentioned in connection to big feelings. I need to process some layers though and she’s touched on in the layers. I’m trying to be gentle.

The other day I was sitting in the kitchen watching Noah, my husband, make breakfast for the family and I felt these waves of emotion. Gratitude. Relief. Appreciation. Surprise. Confusion. Sadness.

Why didn’t my mama want to feed me? That’s such a huge and pervasive thing for me. I can’t not think about the effect this has on my life.

It isn’t that my mom didn’t want to feed me. That’s not what happened at all. My mom ran out of spoons and money. My mom spent much of my childhood very depressed and very poor. She didn’t know how to deal with all the things that were happening to her (I don’t blame her for that) and she did not grow up learning how to cope with such problems.

My mom was thrown into the deep end of the pool without one swimming lesson. She went from being a sheltered, Mennonite hick to being married to a city boy who was a drug addicted, alcoholic pedophile. She really didn’t know how to cope. She didn’t know how to deal with her husband raping her. She didn’t think she had choices. She didn’t know how to deal with her husband beating her children. When she did try to get away, things got worse–not better.

I’m trying to tease out some of my food stuff. I had diarrhea this morning. I haven’t been eating off plan so I assume that it is at least partially because I’ve been thinking about how to talk about this stuff for a few days. But who fucking knows.

I don’t have an official diagnosis but I suspect I qualify as being a “highly sensitive person”. I’ve desensitized myself in many ways over the years–I’m way less sensitive than I was as a kid. When I was a child I had huge food issues. I couldn’t handle unfamiliar foods. I would completely freak out. The wrong texture in my mouth could set me off for hours. I couldn’t “get over” the wrongness of some things in my mouth.

As an adult I have tried really hard to expand my food palate–partially for my own sake and partially to model for my children. But trying new things is complicated for me. I have to be in the right emotional state or I will freak out or get physically sick. Just about anything can make me gag if I’m in the wrong emotional state. It makes me challenging to feed.

Noah surprises me all the time as I reflect on the enormity of the task he has taken on with regards to feeding me. He is mellow, flexible, and very happy to be experimental. He doesn’t take it personally when I have an issue. And he shows up the vast majority of the time to just make food. Even through the elimination diet when I was a moving target of problems. He responded with cheer and good humor and just asked for new directions. He likes them written down, please.

I don’t have to beg. I don’t have to coax. I don’t have to behave “good enough”. I don’t have to do a bunch of things I don’t want to do in order to try and talk him into it.

He just makes food. Because he wants me to eat. He wants me to live for a long time so I can be here with him hanging out.

Trusting someone around food is a process. I don’t like making food very much, but I would much rather have people come to my house where I control the food so I don’t have to wonder if I will be ok or if I will act like an ungrateful asshole at their house. This means I do a lot of inviting people over. I usually cook for those events instead of expecting Noah to cook for all of my friends. He has long days. I don’t need to be mean about him doing a lot of cooking. I probably make dinner 30%-40% of the time. Ok, usually more like 30%. But once in a while I’m nice and I do an extra breakfast shift. (Like, not even weekly. My husband is so nice to me.)

I feel a lot of shame a lot of the time around being ungrateful. I don’t deserve the effort people put into me. Shame is poison. When I feel ashamed, I tend to also feel anger. Shame isn’t guilt. Shame is believing that people are going to be upset with you for breaking unspoken societal guidelines… not breaking a Law or a Rule… just… people won’t like you for doing the wrong thing. Shame is poison. Shame is believing you aren’t good enough because you don’t conform enough to being just like other people. When I believe that other people think I’m not good enough… I get mad at them. Even when this whole cycle is just in my head. It’s part of the reason I’m so difficult to deal with.

A few years ago we tried to have a friend live with us. Part of the deal was: she would handle food. It would be off my plate. Then I could turn my attention elsewhere and do other things. It didn’t work out due to a lot of complicated things revolving partially around her being disabled and unable to just show up seven days a week like clockwork. Because I thought I had her at home to make sure the kids got fed, I started burning spoons I didn’t have to spare if I have to feed the kids. Then sometimes I had to feed the kids.

Oh I have the feelings. I still do. We are still trying to figure out how to mend our relationship. It happens in drips and drabs. Rebuilding trust is so hard.

Rebuilding trust is hard because I am unfair in how I ask people to be rigid in what they offer as my friend. I tend to require people to practically sign blood contracts that they will be present in my life x days per month/year and I need to be able to Trust That. That’s really a problem for people who have unpredictable illnesses like oh roughly half of my peer group. Right. Shit.

I was a monster. I exploded and kicked the cabinet door off. I’m not saying it is someone else’s fault–I lost control and that isn’t ok. It isn’t excusable. How do I move forward and not do that again? Moreover, beyond just never demonstrating that level of rage in front of my kids again, how do I learn to separate my feelings from other peoples actions?

I think about this and I feel scared. What am I going to do if Noah decides he is kind of done cooking for a few years? Am I going to explode at him? Am I going to expect him to just provide for me in that way?

At this point I’m pretty sure I exploded at my friend as harshly as I did because I have an enmeshed thing going on where she is both mother and sister and I have a lot of big, explosive feelings towards both of those roles. My friend wasn’t able to be the perfect Platonic Ideal… and I couldn’t cope. That isn’t her fault and I feel a lot of guilt around putting her in that position. I think that the enormity of what I did to that friend came into a kind of intense relief when I started doing a similar thing with someone else. (I mean the first noun definition of relief: “prominence, distinctness, or vividness due to contrast.)

I want other people to mend the wounds I have. But it takes a kind of consistency that literally isn’t possible for most people. It isn’t fair or appropriate to ask it of them. This is something I do over and over and I have to change how I handle this. No one can fix me and it is wrong of me to get so mad at people for failing to do so.

How do you heal and learn to trust people while knowing that you can’t trust them to be reliable? Not because anyone is doing anything wrong. Not because they are actually letting me down (I’m not their kid nor their boss so they don’t owe me a fucking thing) but because I have this crushing feeling of being let down.

I’m worried about this being the kind of thing I pass down to my kids. Entitlement about having other people feed them. Entitlement to explode when you don’t get what you want. The feeling that if people take care of themselves they are betraying you.

That’s pretty fucked up.

I’m too hard on my BFFs. Pam told me so. She has a lot of authority to speak about such matters because she has been standing close enough to be in the role for years only she doesn’t have room in her life. She has great boundaries. There is no enmeshing with Pam. She’s on her path. But she comes and looks at me over long periods of time and tells me when I’m doing stupid shit. That’s useful.

I enmesh unless other people have strong boundaries. That’s a lot of why I like people with strong boundaries as much as I do. But really, what I like are women who like making food who need me to clean their house. (Ok, they never need me to clean their house… but I pick people who don’t especially like cleaning so I can feel useful.) I look for people who have challenging relationships with their families–people who are also looking for substitutes to heal some wounds and I try to offer trades. Only I’m not direct or blunt or explicit… I just kinda move in. Until I’m scared that I’ve overstayed my welcome and I evaporate like I was never there.

I project onto people that filling my needs will fill a need for them, like it works in reverse for me. I like doing things for people. I like feeling useful. I like feeling like I have useful skills and abilities.

The ability to feed people is a thing. It’s a big deal. It’s a comfort thing, it’s a way of supporting life. I get why people feel good about being feeders. But I can’t assume that just because someone is a feeder they will reliably and predictably want to feed me. I can’t assume that they will always be able to. And it isn’t ok to punish people when they stop being able to.

I really struggle with how much of this feels like, “You just aren’t allowed to get angry when your needs aren’t met.” But that’s black and white thinking. That’s not very useful.

I’m writing this because I need to figure out a better way of handling my feelings before they get so big I explode. Lots of communal “eat together” stuff happens in my life. I have big, explosive feelings on a regular basis. People say they will feed me then cancel at the last minute. Plans change. I have to manage my feelings better.

Just because people enjoy making food doesn’t mean I can expect them to make food for me.

I’m not sure how to change my set of reactions. Food is primal. Food is necessary every day for life. But it isn’t necessary that other people provide food for me.

I am a little worried about how I will adjust to the road trip. I’ve gotten very used to Noah cooking breakfast and dinner. When I am responsible for providing three meals a day… am I going to expect the kids to do an inappropriate amount of work because I feel like I can’t cope? I’m worried. How much work is inappropriate?

Do I need to develop habits around snacking every x minutes so I don’t get hungry enough to react badly at people. (That actually first happened to me as an adult when I went back packing with a dear friend. He started insisting I eat every 45 minutes while hiking or I got bitchy and he was tired of me ranting at him. It worked really well.) I can’t expect other people to manage my food issues. They are mine. I get into so much trouble because I expect other people to handle me. I spend too much time acting like I am a child and everyone and anyone is responsible for me. Like I’m still wandering from house to house as an unwanted charity case.

I feel like it is vitally important for me to stop feeling like I am a charity case. I don’t know how. Having money isn’t doing it.

I feel like a ridiculous whiny baby when I write about these things. Just get over it already. But it’s hard to shame someone into being better. I have a lot of intense triggers around food. I have a low ability to discern my bodies signals around hunger. I have a lot of resistance to making food. I have a lot of anxiety around most parts of eating from the mechanics of chewing (I’m still worried that I might suddenly run into some awful texture by surprise–it’s part of why I can’t eat seafood.) to digesting to pooping. I don’t have a body that works how I think bodies “should” work and I feel like I’m still looking around for a mom who will help me fix it.

When oh when will I stop looking for substitute parents?

At this point I’m picking candidates who have as much or less life experience than me and that’s not really working and I have to stop. I get really upset with them and that’s wrong of me. I have to change this habit.

I feel scared. I want to say I don’t know how. I know what I want to stop and that doesn’t give me a roadmap of where to go and that feels really scary right now.

I don’t know how far back on the chain of my behaviors/emotions I have to go to start changing things. I feel very overwhelmed wondering how much of my basic personality is actually toxic and I need to change it.

The funny thing is: the shame around wanting people to take care of me by feeding me is wrapped up in the shame around being a loud person.

I have a voice designed for gathering up crowds in a large out door location. It’s a gift. It’s a wonderful gift when it comes to getting peoples attention when they are outside and spread out.

I’m not good at toning down. Then I married someone who has a habit of getting really loud and emphatic. Then we had two kids who think that what they are talking about can be the only important thing in the house so sometimes we kind of have four people shouting at one another. At that point Noah or I get overwhelmed and make everyone stop. It’s kind of funny. We all have to take some deep breaths.

I want my girls to be able to shout people down with their position. I mean, it would be better if they could communicate their position without shouting but I know too many women who are just flat incapable of strongly advocating for themselves. I want my girls to be able to shout people down. I want it to be a tool in their tool box. Boys are given that tool. It’s not a tool that makes you well liked, but sometimes it is a necessary tool. Folks who can’t do it say it isn’t useful but I’ve watched a lot of things get solved by who can shout loudest. I want my kids to be able to win.

I am torn between thinking that being a somewhat scary person is a good thing because it means my kids get acclimated so that maybe other people will be less intimidating in the future. Then I think, “Oh that’s an absurd justification you disgusting monster.”

When food is tied up with a loud voice it probably isn’t going to go well. Shame is a monster. Shame tells me that if I had the audacity to be too loud (for whom?!) I should be punished. I’m not really allowed to punish myself in most ways any more (I don’t have privacy). I used to be punished with food denial. I go through periods of intense anxiety where my stomach hurts really badly and I drop weight really quickly. It’s like I’m trying to punish myself–but I genuinely can’t eat more at those times or I vomit.

I probably eat more sugar than is “good” for me but I get the impression I’m still relatively low compared to the “average” American. (At least I see spreads of food in pictures representing what people eat and I eat WAY less sugar than those pictures ever represent. Whoa.) But frankly even though people want to think of eating as bad… if it gets calories into me sometimes I have to accept that as good enough. No, it isn’t perfect. I’m doing my best. I eat far more fruit and vegetables than I used to–it has to be ok that I snack on buns too.

I went to bed absurdly early last night. I think that partially happened because I wanted to work on this and I won’t get any other chance. I woke up at 2am. By 3 I feel like I am getting pretty hungry. My instinct is to just sit here and whimper as my body hurts. I had to think about it for thirty minutes before I got up to get a cheese stick. My impulse is to wait 5 hours for food. No wonder I’m so damn cranky all the time. I sleep weird. I eat irregularly and expect my body to just keep going regardless of how many calories I have in me.

I could have been a primitive hunter gatherer. “Didn’t find food yet. Keep walking.”

(I’m kidding.)

Maybe the road trip will be kind of like the fast. (The fast didn’t make it so I have solid poop every day forever, but I have a fair bit of it and I’m pretty happy with my current functioning.) I will have a huge break from how food normally looks in my life. I won’t have any of my normal crutches. I won’t have any of my normal support.

Ok, now how do I get it done?

Without living on packed foods plus restaurants. Ahem.

Ok, I feel a little guilty about this–it sorta feels like the first step to not having explosive reactions when people don’t meet my expectations is to just not have expectations of people but for me that results in treating people like interchangeable pieces. That’s not really cool either. “Who cares if you won’t come. Someone else with 2.5 kids will be invited in your place and no skin off my nose.”

I’m sorta ok thinking of people that way when it comes to hosting large group events with a maximum RSVP… it’s ok to just treat number of RSVPs as interchangeable and not act like there is an A and a B list.

But in general with personal relationships? That’s… kind of awful.

I’m going to flip to talking about road trip planning for a minute. I laid out the big map and showed the girls my proposed Plan A route. Shanna immediately had objections. “Why did you go this way? I’d rather go that way. What is this thing over here? I want to see that.” I took a deep sigh. Some of her proposals mean that I won’t be wandering through the cities of my random internet friends. This kind of bummed me out.

But the road trip isn’t about my personal tour through everyone I’ve chatted with on the internet. I don’t feel like I should be the One Who Decides. So if my kid says, “I don’t want to go that way I want to go up here and see the Grand Canyon” I can’t really say, “But then I won’t get to meet [screen name].” Suck it up, Buttercup.

Flexibility seems to be key to handling the food stuff. I don’t know how to become more flexible. I mean, I already have. I eat vegetables and maybe no one else is patting me on the back for that but I bloody well am. I can go over to a friend’s house and eat a whole spread of vegetables and not gag at all. I am quite impressed with my progress. Fifteen years ago I could not do that.

But it isn’t just flexibility. How do I stop trying to force my female friends into the role of mother/sister? How do I stop enmeshing and projecting and transferring and all those other fun psychiatric terms?

Part of it is that I want to feel part of something and I don’t usually feel part of anything. I barely feel like I am “part of” Noah and Shanna and Calli as a team. They are all related by blood to all those other Gibbs. I’m just an interloper. My mom was never accepted into my father’s family. She had it better than I do–but they made sure she knew she wasn’t truly family.

Strangely I have no trouble feeling “part of” just Shanna and Calli. They feel like mine in a way that changes when we are alone or when we are with Noah. When Noah is around I relinquish most of my hold. I don’t have to be as aware. I don’t have to be in control. I take my responsibilities as a parent pretty seriously. I notice a slump of relief when I’m not “on duty”. I drop hypervigilance when the babysitter is here, when other parents visit (they are generally more jumpy about what my kids do than I am so I can relax knowing that someone else will freak out for me), when Noah is here. It’s a nice relief but it is weird feeling these walls between my relative levels of attachment.

My relationship with Noah is so complicated. Recently I was talking to another woman about how she has to live at the whims of her husband. Him having a hard day kind of wipes the house out. I flinched because I was thinking, “That’s my role.” Noah and I have periodic discussions about how he isn’t allowed to be grumpy in an ongoing way… I can’t handle it. But he has to handle me being grumpy. He has to deal with me snapping and being difficult. I apologize constantly but sorry bakes no bread.

I’m thinking about how I want to handle food on the trip. How am I going to handle grocery shopping and cooking and food storage? That’s a long time to not have a system. But my system will have to adapt to the fact that I don’t have control over what kinds of things I will find where.

I will not be doing the Whole Paycheque tour of the US so I can stick with comfortable, over priced food. Yes, we will probably eat factory farmed meat. (Frankly I haven’t found a source of sausage for non-factory farmed meat so we always eat some. And restaurants. We’re going to hell; I know.)

You can’t make contact with local farmers to buy one steak at a time on the road. Doesn’t work. Or rather: I probably could but that would become the focus of the trip and then my kids would hate me.


Being a vegetarian doesn’t work for my body. Horrible digestion problems. Lots of doctors (including many who are vegetarians themselves) say I should not give up meat. That means accepting that I am part of the mass meat market. Ick.

Now I’m dithering. Am I dithering? Have I just reached the end of the processing for one entry? Am I dithering by thinking about logistics for food? Should I instead be bludgeoning myself in the head for my emotional problems? Are the logistics the point or aren’t they? I’m not sure.

Am I better off having a timer on my phone that goes off every x minutes and I need to eat something so I don’t run low on spoons and I can deal with more vagaries in other people supplying food or not? But people get upset if you start snacking because they are half an hour late on dinner. Saying, “I’m going to get psycho if I wait for you” doesn’t help.

I actually did that this week. A friend was bringing lunch and I was eating when she walked in. I felt like I was about to gnaw my arm off. It seemed stupid to wait so I could explode.

For the whole last week I’ve been starving. I’m eating larger than normal meals and snacking in between a few times. And I’m craving sugar like it is going out of style. I went to the store with the kids. “Can I have…” “Yes!” Bad news. Well, the kids thought it was great news. Ranch 99 has the best buns. You want to ask me for lots… I’ll say yes. Totally a sucker for the buns. And mochi. Say “YES!” to mochi. That’s my policy. I like mochi. I’m not sure why because it seems like it should be a weird texture for me only it is the best mouth feel ever.

Frankly I’m trying to build up familiarity with non-American foods so that when I travel it will be easier to find things that feel comfortable and “safe”. I don’t have that many more years until we want to leave for the year. If I don’t eat a fair bit of the stuff now I won’t build up that level of comfort-feel.

Watch me justify my awesome bun binge.

I could live on dim sum. I do order vegetables.

I’m getting the impression that food-wise I should stay out of Japan and Korea. I’ll have a hard time. And yet, Tokyo Disney calls my name. I can find a way to suck it up. They have chicken and beef. I’ll just have to patiently practice how to say, “no fish at all, please–not even broth”.

Now I’m dithering. But it’s after 4 and I’m tired. I’m ready to go back to bed.

I need something resembling a plan. I need to be more mindful of my expectations around people and food. I am already better about carrying snacks so I don’t get over-hungry as often as I used to (parenting helped me with that habit–specifically nursing).

How do I stop treating these women in my life like they have to be stand ins for other people? Why do I keep acting like they have the power to heal me?

Because I’ve watched too many movies and read too many books about the power of friendship. The reality is my life will never be the kind of life that is featured in a heart warming special about camaraderie. C’est la vie. (I’m pretty sure there should be an accent in there.)

I don’t think that means I should devalue what I get. I get friendship. I get shared adventures. I get journeys of self discovery walked side by side. I don’t get healed. I don’t get to have the feeling of connection I believe other people feel as represented by media. (If it happens on tv it MUST BE TRUE.)

Maybe the healing just has to come from always having such a plethora of snacks on hand that I don’t ever get to the point of low blood sugar. (Nuts are awesome.) Maybe the healing is about other people providing bonus food, not the mandatory-for-life kind. Maybe the healing comes from being safe?

I don’t know. I’m still a bitch.

I’m less scared than I used to be. I blow up less often. I am less destructive when I do blow up. I have fewer expectations of people.

Hey–I haven’t blown up at someone about tardiness in a very long time. That’s huge progress for me. It just isn’t a trigger in the same way. Having my kid have a sudden poopy diaper as we are about to walk out the door to be 1 minute late… teaches you that people are late. It’s ok. It has to be ok. All of a sudden you are 30 minutes late and there isn’t a thing you can do but slap a smile on and make the best of it.

I am not where I need to be. I need to work harder on treating my friends how they deserve to be treated. They are doing their best and I don’t have the right to explode when they don’t meet my demands. It isn’t their fault my mama wasn’t nice to me. I don’t have a fucking free pass.

Life is hard. 5010 words. Time to stop.

I have 5 minutes

The kids are in swim class. Apparently the online system didn’t register them properly so I sent them out to the pool and the teachers were very confused. Whoops. Easy to fix. All the folks here know us now. They wanted to know how swimming outside went over the summer. They asked why we delayed coming back so long–we were missed.

It’s really weird living in this town year after year. I’m finding a place and that’s so odd. Folks expect me and tell me that they feel sad when I don’t show up. I mean, that’s happened with some hobby stuff over the years too–but this feels different.

This is about being rooted. I have a place in this community now. I’ve carved it out by myself by showing up over and over.

It’s fascinating to me how often my neighbors stop by to chat. I have friends who will not answer the door at all unless they are expecting a delivery or a visit. My neighbors drop by semi-regularly just to talk. I love it. If someone needs a tool they will come ask. I have the kind of neighbors who will ask to borrow a cup of sugar.

I love my neighborhood.

I’ve been ridiculously irritable and grouchy over the last few days. What day is it? Am I about to bleed? Well, I’m on day 21 of my cycle and my cycle is frequently right around 31 days long. 5-10 days before my period I’ve been having problems.

But this was barely before that window. This isn’t the PMDD.

I’m struggling with the kids. Struggling like whoa. I’m not doing ok with them being rough with me. It is triggering me like hell. People who will kick me in the face repeatedly don’t feel like my friend.

And my time is up.

Short, maybe–talking vaccines again.

I’m alone in the house. I haven’t been waking up and immediately medicating. I think that is a lot of the reason I am feeling so on edge and irritated. I have so many mixed feelings about medicating. Taking pot makes me feel good and surely anything that lets a bad person like me feel good is bad. So I dither and snap at my family like a big jerk-face. I feel sad that my kids and my husband both occasionally say, “Mom have you had your medication?” (S–just like your mom!)

I needed a break. I haven’t been getting alone time when the babysitter has been here. I’ve been staying in the house and working and that… it doesn’t lower my stress level. Well, it shortens my to-do list, which lowers my stress, but I’m left with all the day to day stuff.

I’m not sure what I’m cranky about. People are just being people and I’m having big feelings about it. I know a lot of pro-vaccine people who turn my stomach with how they talk about non-vaccinating people. They will always claim, “Oh I’m not talking about the people who can’t vaccinate.” Well–who decides what is a good enough reason to forgo?

I have feelings.

I vaccinate my children. I have looked at the science and I decided it was a wise choice for my family given our habits. I did not fucking vaccinate because other assholes want my herd immunity. Fuck right off.

I really don’t know why I care about this topic as much as I do. I don’t want to tell people they must vaccinate. I don’t want to tell people they shouldn’t vaccinate. I think the science is pretty clear that mostly vaccines are a mostly good idea. (No, we don’t vaccinate for flu. Even though lots of people die of it. Unless I was going to West Africa soon I wouldn’t volunteer for Ebola vaccination either. The flu shot is not reliable. I’m not a guinea pig.)

But I recognize a much broader swath of “It’s ok if you don’t vaccinate” than most pro-vaccine people.

Mostly, I think this isn’t something we should legislate. I think people should be allowed to make bad choices. I think people should be allowed to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. I don’t think seat belts should be mandatory for adults.

If you want to kill yourself, well that is up to you.

I don’t believe in protecting people from themselves. I see it as highly problematic. Where does the nanny state end?

Most of my friends will not let their kids play in the front yard because they are afraid. Want to know what they are afraid of? It’s rarely cars or kidnappings. They are afraid someone will call CPS. I’m not the only paranoid one. I hear the same frightened conversation from lots of people.

I think this is a fucked up situation.

I understand that the government is finally starting to understand that they did not do a good enough job of protecting abused kids in the past (I’m a statistic on this since I pressed charges against my father) but the pendulum is swinging all crazy. We aren’t letting children learn responsibility gradually. This is bad.

I’m interested in comments on vaccine positions if you can state them without ever saying what you think people “should” do. I hate the word should. Try phrasing like: “In my ideal world people would….” “If I got to be the boss of everyone I would enforce….” I think an ideal schedule is…”

Should triggers the hell out of me and then I won’t have a conversation with you I’ll just be angry with you. And that’s kinda silly.

To me, there is a certain level at which this is a statistics argument and a much deeper argument beyond that. I remember questions on OkCupid like, “Would you kill yourself to save ten people? A hundred people? Ten thousand people?”

To me, most of the you gotta you gotta you gotta vaccinate argument usually sounds like, “YOU PERSONALLY WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE IF YOU DON’T VACCINATE!!!! HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF?!?!?!!?!?!?! YOU DISGUSTING PERSON, YOU!”

I’ve rarely read a more nuanced pro-vaccine position. Which is why I never ever tell my anti-vax friends that they should vaccinate.

When people say that anti-vaxxers can’t be convinced by science I say… I’ve never read an attempt that wasn’t dripping with scorn, derision, and the assumption that the target audience is stupid and inferior. Y’all fuckwads almost ensured *I* didn’t vaccinate.

But I know what kinds of wacky international travel I want to drag my kids through so I vaccinated. I’m not risking them. I want them too much. I have put so much time and effort into them that I am not risking lose them over something that science can help me with.

See: an entirely selfish reason to vaccinate. I think this would be an ideal tactic for pro-vaccine people to employ. Stop yelling that it will be all the anti-vaxxers fault if VPD (vaccine preventable diseases) happen. Each individual person bears equal spiritual and legal responsibility for EVERY PERSON WHO GETS SICK. That’s how this shit is phrased.

So much for your side being the side with calm, cool logic. Yes, lots of people have contracted Measles and they’ve had the horrible experience of being ill. None have died. I sound cavalier. I know I depend highly on the wonderful modern medicine we have.

I fucking vaccinate. Don’t give me shit.

I think we are a society who expects too much safety from life. That’s not how it works. People get sick. People die. The Pertussis vaccine lessens the severity of the disease but it doesn’t prevent it. (I have my damn Pertussis vaccine-I’ve even gotten the fucking available boosters.) I just…

I’m not going to get hysterical and say that the first person victimized by a virus (talk about the ultimate in victim blaming) is legally or financially responsible for the further illness of individuals.

That’s like saying it is all my fault my father did something (never knew for sure what) to the daughters of the woman he dated after my mom left him. I didn’t prosecute when I was 3 years old so it is all my fault he hurt other kids–right?

How much responsibility do I bear for not reporting my later rapists? Paul? Dan? Kevin? They were serial rapists. I’ve heard from other victims. I’m outside my window of opportunity for prosecution. I chose to let it go because I thought there was a lower than 2% chance that I would win in court. And I couldn’t go through another failed prosecution. That was devastating. (To be fair, the only reason my father’s prosecution failed is because he killed himself after confessing to everything. Still super hard.) He wasn’t declared guilty in a court of law. It sucked.

To me, the way pro-vaccine people yell at anti-vax people feels an awful lot like the people who have told me that I am to blame when my rapists rape other people.

Viruses do what viruses do. Rapists do what rapists do. People can only do the best they can to protect themselves. You don’t get to demand that other people jump through the same hoops to be protected from bad things. People get to pick their own risk profile.

But at what point do we (as a society) decide that, say, deciding to not vaccinate your children necessitates home schooling them or putting them in one of a few segregated private schools so that your children are not allowed to infect the general population? I think that’s different. I think that society is allowed to say, “Your choices have consequences.”

I think that is fair. Not nice… but fair.

Maybe. Not sure.

Should Disneyland have a sensor at the front that they run across everyones forehead before they come in? Temperature above 99.5 and you can’t come in unless you have a doctors note verifying that you have a higher than average basal temperature?

Not sure.


Today has been productive, but not active if that makes sense. Backed up my computer. (It had been 310 days. Whoops.) Moved lots of old pictures onto external back ups to free up space on main hard drive. Deleted most of Noah’s Dropbox account (it was using more than 50gb!) because I’m tired of my computer yelling at me about a full startup disk.

Used the itunes gift cards the kids got for Christmas. We have been waiting for hours for all the television episodes to download. Not done yet. Shanna picked She-Ra. Calli picked He-Man. Hilarious. 75 more fucking episodes to download and it’s been going for a long-ass-time.

Moved stuff around on the iPad. Yet more waiting for synching. Doing all of this computer shit is the kind of thing that many people get paid to do. I don’t think I could be paid enough to do this every day. Ugh and ew.

Signed up for swim class. I’ve been resisting classes of any kind for a while. My kids like to sign up for various lessons and then bitch about going. So I have been stalling on re-enrollment. To be fair, swimming is the class they have liked the most and resisted the least. We start up on Monday.

Four loads of laundry. Two loads through the dishwasher already. I need to print, sign, then scan and email a piece of paper. Ugh.

The kids are expressing great frustration that I won’t give them the screen right now. Hello… it’s synching. Not my fault you can’t have it. Get you some patience if you want these damn shows.

How come I can do a whole bunch of things and feel like I’m not doing much?

ETA: It took six forking hours to do all the computer crap. Oh man. So glad I don’t do this for a living. And I did grocery shopping.

I’m mostly trying to justify that sitting for a lot of today doesn’t make me “lazy”. I was sitting in front of work…


I just read a blog article from a white woman aimed at other white people. It was fascinating how many times she told white people to just stay home and not go to protests because it is none of our business.

Centering black stories, yes. Telling news reporters not to ask for white opinions at said protests, yes. Not acting like you as a white person are an equivalent target as black people, yes.

Just stay home?

Hm. Well, there’s one way to make it seem like white people don’t care about black issues.


What an interesting article.

My dad is part of the 5% that came home from Vietnam to a lifetime of drug addiction. What was broken there?

I’ve had people tell me that I’m addicted to drugs (the only one I’m still using is pot–the others aren’t appealing anymore), that I’m addicted to cutting (don’t do it now that I have good reason to pick other methods of coping), that I’m addicted to sex (I haven’t picked up promiscuous sex in years; if I need positive touch I can get it now without having to beg strangers), and that I’m addicted to various other things I don’t do any more.

Truly I should have stopped everything I was doing in my life to move into the 12 step approach to life. Clearly, without a 12 step program I will never do anything but drugs, promiscuous sex, and cutting.

Err… or something.


If I think that everything is “someone’s fault” and I’m ok with people not vaccinating… do I believe that people damaged by a VPD (vaccine preventable disease) who are vaccinated have the right to sue a patient zero if that patient zero is unvaccinated.

I just had that thought.

Some folks on the internet wonder if everyone involved in the Disneyland measles outbreak should sue the woman who brought the disease. Especially because she exposed people on multiple plane flights and in multiple states. This woman put a lot of people in jeopardy. How should she be held accountable?

That’s a fucking good question. Have I mentioned how glad I am that I’m not a lawyer, judge, cop, nor politician?

I’m not sure what I think about that. I can come up with lots of points on both sides of the argument. I don’t think I have an opinion beyond I’m glad my opinion doesn’t matter.

Are non-vaccinated people required to act like ticking time bombs who treat every sniffle and fever like a reason for complete quarantine?

To be frank, when my children were unvaccinated… that’s how I treated it. If they seemed anything other than 100% healthy I just stayed home. But that’s a privileged decision. Well, maybe choosing to not vaccinate must be a privileged choice then? You only have the right to do it if you can keep yourself out of the general population at the slightest nose sniffle?

I don’t know.

Poor people get screwed in every fucking conversation. They aren’t allowed to make decisions based on *them*. They have to care about everyone else more than them.

Rich people get to say, “Well, my circumstances are special and I can accommodate all the ways I deviate from the norm so I’m allowed to have variation in my behavior.”

Poor people need assistance. They need it from the government, from friends, from churches, from schools… They have to cooperate. They have to jump the hoops put in front of them and they have to do it with a smile or they will be punished with the revocation of support.

Frankly, it would be a fascinating social experiment to segregate the non-vaccinating families into separate schools/public facilities. It is a choice to not vaccinate. Unless of course one of your kids had a nasty reaction then it isn’t safe to vaccinate the rest of your kids. Should you be punished if you physically can’t be vaccinated? Some people are too frail of health–the vaccine would probably kill them.

The arguments for vaccines include that “some people can’t be vaccinated thus it is MORE important for everyone who can to ensure that they are vaccinated”.

When folks are ranting and raving against non-vaccinators, they never actually qualify their arguments with, “I only mean people who don’t have a reason I believe in that supports their position.” Because I could come up with diseases a kid could have where people would say, “Of course that child should not be subjected to vaccines. It would be dangerous.” But where is the line? Who gets to decide?

If one child in a family has a reaction, do the parents have the right to withhold vaccines from their other children out of fear that it is a genetic issue that will also exist in the other kids? What if one child is specifically disabled and the others aren’t?

Who makes the rules?

I think that people need to do research for themselves. I am cheerful about explaining why I made the decisions I made, but I’m not going to bust out a long list of links to justify my decisions. I am not responsible to you. I do not owe you an explanation (Whoever you are) and coming up with that justification is work. You don’t have the right to demand that I stop what I’m doing and go do the work that is important to you.

I try very hard to qualify my statements with “My information may be out of date.” “This is what I remember.” “To the best of my recollection.” “I have read.”

I don’t know the One Twue Way and I don’t pretend I am representing The Twuth.

I have a hard time with the fact that if I write about my life in a public way periodically people expect to be able to walk by and assign me work to prove to them that my life is acceptable. (I’m not saying you did that Krish. You asked a polite question. I have conversations all over the internet. The non-polite people don’t last long in my sand box.) Err, I’m not going to prove to you that I’m allowed to do what I’m doing. You are not my boss. I already have a note in my wallet telling me I’m allowed to be here doing what I’m doing. I don’t need your permission too.

My arms hurt. But I’ve been having feelings. And vaccines are relatively safe to write about compared to all the other feelings I’m having. Ha.

It is funny how we deflect attention to keep going.

Both kids have been complaining about headaches and eye pain in the past couple of weeks. We talked about it and decided to limit screen time more. An hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Kind of funny that I have no interest in limiting their screen time and… they need me to do it. It makes my life easier for them to have days where they go from playing independently to the screen back to play to screen to play… they watch a show or two then get bored and go play. I think they are learning a lot about how to manage their time and resources. Only they’ve been on the screen too much and they are both hurting. That means it is time to change things.

Life involves a lot of testing things out to see how it works. Sometimes you try something and find out it didn’t work how you thought it was. Sometimes you have to change how you are doing something.

My life seems to be little other than change. I’m always adapting. I go through periods of using the screen for 10-15 hours a day for months and then I have months where I’m on the screen 0-1 hours a day.

Timer is about to go off.

No ones fault

I process my emotions in an outward fashion. It helps me gain distance and perspective. It means that people share their processes with me. I’m struggling with the Godmama separation. I’m processing that in a variety of places and ways. In one arena a kind friend suggested that I explain it to the kids as, “Sometimes people just can’t get along.” I said that I have not reacted well when people have said that to me and I don’t think I could say it believably. I’m not saying it is a bad suggestion or a wrong suggestion–it’s one I can’t really deliver.

I want to emotionally react to the phrase. Not because I’m attacking the person who said it (reasonable to share how you would respond! You didn’t tell me I “should” do it–totally respectfully suggested) but because I want to parse why I’m feeling feelings this big.

I cannot count the situations in my life that have ended with people saying, “Sometimes people just can’t get along.” I get told that a lot. My needs and issues are too complicated and big and people don’t have the spoons to devote to adapting to me and that is phrased as “people can’t get along.” It hurts me a lot.

I don’t believe in no-fault divorce. I think there is enough fault to go around. I think it can be both peoples fault and that’s ok. I have never had a break up in my life where I was blameless, and I’ve gone through a really high number of break ups. Do I think that I am completely and totally to blame for the friendships or romantic relationships that go south? Of course not. But saying “it’s no ones fault” is saying I didn’t do the shitty things I did. I’m not going to pretend I did everything right and by some magic of the universe it didn’t work out.

Do you know what is no one’s fault? Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Break ups are because of people.

I don’t want to tell my kids that sometimes things just don’t work out and people evaporate from your life. That has made me incredibly paranoid. It is part of the reason I don’t god damn call people to ask for help (unless I am desperate or I don’t really NEED the help–when the help is optional asking is easy) even though a variety of people have told me I am allowed to ask for help.

When I’m desperate I tend to throw a rope out into the universe not knowing who will catch it. I don’t pick a person and go to them. I don’t trust people enough. I don’t have the spoons to ask multiple people if I get told no. It hurts too much. So I don’t go to Person A and ask for help. I say, “Can anyone help?” and somehow magically Person P shows up. They say, “I was really bored today–I’m happy to get out of the house.” I may never see Person P again. That’s how a lot of the help I have received this lifetime shows up.

I’ve even gotten help grading papers that way when I was a teacher. Throwing a rope to the universe is the best approach I’ve used.

But my friends tend to be people who are barely sustaining their life and they don’t have spare spoons if you show up to ask for one. So I don’t walk up to specific people and ask. That results in people dumping me for over stepping.

I tell my children that sometimes people don’t want to be in a relationship with me because I am not an easy person and people have the right to make that choice. It doesn’t mean I’m wrong or bad or that no one can have a relationship with me–it’s just not something that is worth the effort for that person. Why? I don’t know. Life is complicated.

I can scare people. They have the right to opt-out of being scared. I do not “deserve” to make people feel that way. They have the right to opt-out of knowing me. I’m not going to pretend to my children that this isn’t true. I want them to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they do not have to stay in relationships with people who are hard for them and they don’t need to feel bad about being too hard for some people.

There are seven billion people on the planet. You won’t be too hard for everyone.

I believe that we all bear some fault. There is enough to go around.

Noah regularly tries to get me to believe that I care too much about blame. He thinks it is irrelevant. I say, “Awwww, what a position for a privileged white boy to have. ‘No one is to blame for bad things happening. They just happen.'” Nope. In my little corner of the world I can god damn point at why things happen and it isn’t because nature made it so. It’s because people acted. They made choices. Some of those choices sucked and had negative consequences. Fuck this “no one is to blame” bullshit.

People do things. They hurt people. It happens. That’s not “no one’s fault”. White politicians enact laws that harm people of color and want to claim it is no one’s fault too. Bullshit.

I’m not angry with the Godmamas for splitting the blanket. I’m hurt and sad. M in particular has been one of the Wise Elders of my adulthood and I feel very sad that I managed to not show this person enough respect. I feel very sad that I did such a bad job of demonstrating my love and devotion that she now feels the only way out of this bad situation is to not know me any more.

I’m not going to say there is no blame here. Instead there is enough blame to go around. I clearly did not meet the needs of the people I was in a relationship with. I tried and I failed. That happens. I’m not going to say it is no one’s fault. It is the fault of both sides.

You need more than one person trying very hard to have a relationship. You need two people trying hard and communicating about what they need. If you lose the communication or if you don’t have people try hard… relationships can’t be carried by one person. That’s not how they work. Is that a blameless situation?

I don’t blame my Owner because he was less invested in our relationship than I was. He was invested to the degree he wanted to be invested. It wasn’t enough for me to stay permanently. I need to have a partner who is more enthusiastic and devoted and he didn’t have that to give. I’m not angry with either side of us for the break up. But I’m not going to say it was no one’s fault. It was his fault he didn’t want to get married and have kids and it was my fault that I consider those things deal breakers.

I don’t think we are bad for each bearing our side of the break up. I think we want what we want and that’s ok.

I see a lot of good reasons for the Godmamas to feel hurt. I’m not pretending they have no right to feelings of their own. I’m not going to blame the break up all on them. But I can’t say it is no one’s fault. I did things wrong. They didn’t communicate about their needs. Sometimes things fail even though people are trying. To me that is materially different than “Sometimes people can’t get along.” I don’t know why it feels so different. I have to feel the acknowledgment that you tried and failed. I don’t want it to feel like some magical intervention is the reason it didn’t work out.

Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out.

Meh. Sometimes people can’t make things work out. One person can’t carry a relationship.


Vaccine follow up

I am not the most educated person in the world on the topic of vaccines. I am not staying current. I had a 6-12ish month period where I read everything I could get my hands on. That was 5-6 years ago. This is a field of science that is changing rapidly. My information is almost certainly out of date. This is why I do not try to tell other people what they should do. I don’t know. Your life circumstances are yours and you need to determine what is right for you.

I feel ok living with the decisions I made. I think that is the end result of where people need to get on the topic of vaccines. I don’t think I need to obsessively keep up with the research and be willing to argue every specific with every person who wants me to. This is Not My Field and I don’t have to know everything about it.

This means that some people are going to decide I am stupid, ignorant, and other mean words. Whatever. It is not possible for me to stay fully up to date on every field in the world. I can live with this. Vaccines (and whether to get them or not) is not my field. I’m not trying to convince people that they should or shouldn’t vaccinate. I think everyone has individual factors. I think people should do their own research and not fucking look to idiots like me to tell them what to do.

I don’t god damn know what you should do.

I suspect I have the opinions I have because of the anecdotes that have walked through my life. I got to play with a little girl who was a quadriplegic from the polio vaccine. Her father was the doctor who injected her. I know people who have to live with horrifying traumatic brain injuries because they wore a helmet. Many of them wish they were dead instead of living with the injury. So I’m not pro-helmet laws either.

I don’t think people should be forced to preserve their lives. I think that is a bizarre point of view. I don’t get the purpose in forcing people to stay alive as long as possible under any awful circumstances.

I don’t think people should be killed to put them out of the misery of the rest of society either–I’m not promoting eugenics.

But people should be allowed to hurt themselves and make stupid decisions. The trouble with vaccines is we have herd immunity questions (that frankly science hasn’t proven beyond the shadow of a doubt–this isn’t the “theory” of gravity here) that mean that some people opting out impacts the people around them.

But I’m still not happy about my government forcing people to do things. If the Jehovah’s Witnesses want to die of entirely treatable issues… that is their business.

I’m also not a big fan of locking people in mental hospitals to prevent them from hurting themselves. I have this body. I should be the only one who gets to decide how much pain I can inflict on it.

I’m not telling you that you should hurt yourself. I’m saying that my government should not be allowed to prevent me from hurting myself. I’m saying the government shouldn’t be allowed to decide that everyone has to be equally subjected to vaccines because vaccines kill and injure some people. Go spend some time on VAERS. Yes, the reactions are rare…. but no one has died of measles in this country in a long time. So we are balancing a rare death from measles on a rare death from vaccine reaction. The stats are very different on each vaccine. The efficacy is very very different from disease to disease.

My kids are mostly vaccinated. I’m mostly vaccinated. I travel to places where I don’t have the crutch of easy instant access to medical facilities. I take care of the risks I can take care of because it seems smart. I’m not going to god damn risk tetanus for some hoity-toity holistic ideal. The tetanus vaccine fucking works and I’m going to god damn stay current. I’m comfortable with that.

I don’t get to tell other people what their risk profile looks like because I don’t know.

It is fascinating to me how vaccine arguments seem to polarize so strongly. Folks on both side get very angry with me because I won’t pick a side. I can’t. I think there is more than one right answer. I know a lot of people who don’t vaccinate at all. I’m comfortable with going to their houses and taking the risk of exposure. I feel it is an acceptable risk.

I think Americans want to feel safe too much. We believe we can coat the world in bubble wrap and stop having to be afraid. We can give people enough injections/pills to GUARANTEE health!!!! WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN we say.

I think that studying the hypnosis during pregnancy and then having two labors from hell convinced me that not everyone is going to get to the same level of safe or health. You can have privilege and take All The Steps and still have things go to hell. I’ve seen so many bad things happen to people who were doing the right thing that I just don’t believe there is a right path that will keep you safe.

It takes all kinds.

How do I feel about people who refuse vaccines? Like they get to make their own choices and I hope to hell I don’t have to watch this person go through something awful. I’ll be there if something happens, but I hope I don’t have to help this person through a disease. And if my kids want to fuck a boy and the boy refuses to get the HPV vaccine… I will tell the girls that is a boy who cares more about his own discomfort than your potential cancer. Not a great choice for a partner. Even though I think it is ok to not vaccinate.

I’ve had people tell me they won’t have sex with me/come to my house/etc because of my disease and/or vaccine status. It’s not awesome, but it is life. You get through being held accountable for your actions. More than one boy has said they won’t have sex with me because I tested positive for HPV. They didn’t want to risk picking up an infection they would pass to their other partners. (Then I found that the next girlfriend was HPV+ in one case and I felt very rejected.)

People get to make choices and live with the consequences of those choices.

I do wonder about segregated schooling for vaccinated or unvaccinated children. I wonder if I would be ok with that. I don’t know. I haven’t thought through the topic enough. But it is a thought that wanders by occasionally.


I had the… fortune(?) to wander through a vaccine conversation yesterday. Lots of strong feelings. People tend to only believe that which supports their previous beliefs.

Life is really scary. I hate to break it to you folks: everyone is going to die. Whether you die from getting the vaccine or not getting the vaccine or cancer or a car accident or falling off a cliff. You aren’t getting out alive.

Sometimes I feel a little weird about the wide spread hatred of non-vaccinators. Ok, fine you think they screw up your herd immunity. Why don’t you just think of them as the low hanging fruit that can die first? Why bother getting mad at them? Why are you so angry that someone else wants to risk their kid?

Because you don’t really believe you are protected enough until everyone conforms. Well… hate to break it to you buddy, that’ll never happen.

My kids are not fully vaccinated. I’ve had people tell me we aren’t welcome in their home. I’m comfortable with that.

Life involves all kinds of risks. The fact that I haven’t fully vaccinated my kids on a schedule decided upon to hit the maximum number of poor people with little access to health care… I can live with that risk.

Even though I’m playing Russian roulette with the very reasons I’m alive. Live involves a lot of risks.

For me buying a big enough bottle of Ibuprofen is a risk. I want to die pretty badly. For me having a razor blade in the house is a risk.

Getting in my car is by far the most dangerous thing I do. I’m planning to drive 13,000 miles this year with my children. Where are the people lining up to rail at me for being a terrible mother and risking their lives more than absolutely necessary to shuttle them back and forth from the state run prison I mean school.

My kids are vaccinated for the diseases that would kill them or cause permanent brain damage. I sincerely doubt I will start getting the flu vaccine before I’m 60 and I don’t have any idea if my children will ever get it. If you don’t want me in the house… I can live with that. Yes, the flu kills lots of people. When my children were young enough to be at risk I didn’t take them out of the house much. The flu kills specific classes of people. It is not equally dangerous for everyone. I’m comfortable with the amount of risk I’m taking. I live very near wonderful hospitals where they can yell at me all they want as they save my life.

Modern medicine is a funny thing. I only want as much of it as I want.

Ok, we also haven’t vaccinated for chicken pox yet but Shanna says she is probably going to ask for it the next time we go in. I’m comfortable with that.

I made the decisions that could not fucking wait. I wanted to let them make the rest of the decisions. I think they have the right to decide for their own bodies. Just like I get to decide for my body. Most likely, the girls and I will get our hepatitis vaccines at the same time. We want to go to third world countries and it will be relevant. At that time it would be just flat stupid to ignore the hepatitis vaccines. (Given the amount of risky bdsm and sex I’ve done it is just flat stupid that I never got the hepatitis vaccines. I had multiple partners who were hep +.)

Life is about risks. It is such a near thing that I’m alive. I’m not going to be paranoid. I just can’t. Well… that’s not true. I’m paranoid about the things I can’t avoid being paranoid about. The stupid things that don’t matter, like: oh my god is someone mad at me. I don’t get paranoid about things like death.

What the hell is there to get paranoid about? It’s going to happen. Like, duh. It will even happen to my bright shining children. I hope I die first but I’m told I have to make it to old age. So we’re in a race to die of old age. That means I won’t have to see them die. I’m paranoid about Noah dying–which is kind of funny. Why just him?

I depend on Noah in a way I’ve never depended on anyone else. It’s not just that I’m a dependent. I’ve been a dependent most of my life. It is bigger than that. Noah sees me and is willing to engage with me on any old uncomfortable topic just about any minute of the day. He doesn’t need me to be convenient. He takes me as I am.

My kids need me to behave. They are getting stronger and stronger at defining what that means for them. I am so proud when my kids tell me that my tone of voice is too harsh or when they argue with my assertions.

But even though I worry about Noah’s death and I know it will hurt me a lot… I’m just going to take steps as if it is true. Noah will die. I don’t see trying to deny that it is coming. I need to be prepared. It could happen tomorrow or it could happen in 30 years. Either way has to be ok.

I don’t really have a choice.

Body check in (and kids)

I’m pleased to say that in general I’m sleeping better than I was for a long time there. It is unusual for me to wake up before 5am. Sometimes I sleep as late as 6! When Noah was gone and I stayed up later than usual with the kids I slept in till… 7:30. Whoa. That happens less than once a year.

Given that I usually go to sleep between 7 and 8pm that means I’m getting more sleep. This may contribute to me feeling somewhat more energetic. (I don’t feel like I’m up to my “normal” level of energy–I’m still slow and sluggish.) I’m catching up on chores I’ve been looking at for months. I go in cycles. I don’t do much for quite a while because I’m too tired. I stare at the things that bug me and I just… can’t do anything about them. I don’t really understand how much of this periodic exhaustion is depression vs. physical illness. It happens every so often to me. I wouldn’t say every year–it definitely isn’t an every single year issue, but it is recurring. I lose a bunch of weight then I feel so tired I can barely move for months. It takes months of recuperation before I feel “normal” again.

To be fair, this round of illness is being followed up with normal poop!! That’s a huge change! Sometimes I walk around the house singing about how happy I am to poop. My kids are going to be so weird.

Ok, having really solid poop is kind of bizarre. It feels… well… it feels like I’ve all of a sudden switched to anal sex being the main way I have sex. I feel just slightly abraded all the time. And having that feeling from pooping instead of sex is… kind of confusing to my body and brain. I’m really not sure how to interpret those signals. Because traditionally I learned to kind of like that feeling and liking the aftermath of pooping is WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD. It’s not like I go straight from the bathroom to masturbating, but it’s kind of a weird…. almost satisfied feeling.

Gross. Gross. Gross.

I am occasionally bordering on constipation! It IS a novel feeling! And given that I’m getting all the way to rabbit pellet firmness sometimes… that’s a pretty solid ruling out of food allergies!

What the fuck?! I mean, really? Why does my body vary so much. I went back to my “normal” diet. I’m eating the same stuff I used to eat and now I don’t have diarrhea and I have had for most of my life. I DON’T UNDERSTAND AND I FIND THIS INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING.

I had diarrhea for a week after the most recent break up. Now it has cleared up and I’m back to solid poop.

I’m in a fair bit of pain. Not just the arms. My shoulders and neck. I’m a lifelong reader. At this point I think that pain is all my own fault. My lower back has been acting up lately. My hips are enflamed like mad. If you casually run your hand down the outside of my thigh from the hip joint towards the knee I will react as if you touch me with a brand. It hurts.

I’m not over-exercising. I don’t think I’m under-exercising. I’m walking and running a few days a week. I do some weight lifting (not a lot) and I have a very physically active–lifting-things-heavy kind of life. I’m pretty sure I bought the wrong mattress like three years ago. It’s way too soft now and I think that contributes to my back hurting.

Of course my arms hurt. Of course.

As a test run for the road trip, having Noah gone worked well. The kids and I are capable of finding a rhythm without him. But boy howdy we miss Noah. The kids like and dislike the way I don’t cook as much. I didn’t even try to maintain our normal way of eating that Noah cooks. Not up for adding that much work to my plate. Noah is so nice to us. But between me doing some work and the kids doing more work than usual, we ate.

On the road I suspect we will do a lot more assembling food than cooking food. As far as I’m concerned Calli is way big enough to be doing that so we will be trading around food-prep duties. Shanna could cook several meals by Calli’s age. I haven’t been working with Calli as hard because Shanna interrupts and tries to take over. I’m not doing it all.

I went camping with friends a few years back. The wife does the vast majority of the work and they are ok with that deal. (Lots of reasons for it that they worked out between them–I don’t even quibble with the reasons.) I… I’m not ok with that deal. I can’t support my end of that deal. Standing very near that deal caused me to get upset emotionally and they will never camp with me again. I can’t be the mom who does everything. I don’t have that to give. I will end up crying and screaming and freaking out and being mean to everyone. I am neither physically nor emotionally up for that. Sometimes I wish I could. I feel like I am much more pathetic than my friends who can carry the load. But I can’t. I will explode. I will make everyone near me very miserable if I am expected to do everything for people who sit and watch me work.

I think that part of the difference with my kids compared to other adults: my kids don’t push me to keep working when I say I am done or I need a break. I don’t communicate as well with adults. I’m not blaming the adults. I don’t communicate very well. When I am with other adults, I feel like their expectations matter and I have to live up to them. With my kids… well… you get what I fucking have to give and that’s that. I have been much better about my language with the kids lately.

Recently I was in the car and I was frustrated and I started cursing and after the second curse word I switched to ‘crumbs’ and from the back of the car here comes Shanna, “Oh mom! You caught yourself! Good girl. I’m proud of you.” Twitch.

My kids have rather low expectations of me and I don’t know if that is good or bad. We talk very frankly about, “I’m doing my best. Sometimes my best is not going to be good enough. Sometimes you are going to feel frustrated or sad or angry because my best is SO COMPLETELY NOT GOOD ENOUGH. You get to feel upset about me not meeting your needs… but you need to know that sometimes I can’t. Either you figure out how to do it for yourself or you need to form a relationship with someone else to get that need met. I can’t do everything.”

I was at the park with friends recently. The other mom watched her kids the whole time. She was surprised that I wasn’t watching my kids. Shanna wandered off to where people had brought their hula hoops and she asked if she could play too. The other mom expressed concern about my kid just inviting herself into the play of random adults. Completely reasonable.

This is how our unschooling works. Shanna and Calli wander through life talking to whomever happens to be present and they pick up random skills. Shanna learned a lot about the hula hoop that I can’t teach her. I’m thrilled she got the chance. The people who were practicing didn’t mind her hanging out with them and asking questions. Most people seem to love sharing their random knowledge. Shanna is really good about knowing how to ask questions–she practices all the time.

I don’t believe in stranger danger. My life has depended on the kindness of strangers.

Instead I am close enough by that I kind of visually check-in every 15-20ish minutes. I don’t need to stand close by–if I can yell and get you to hear me then the leash extends out pretty long. In a museum we have to stand close to one another because mom isn’t allowed to scream. In a public park, I can project my voice loudly enough to be heard clearly across a football field. I’m completely comfortable with my kids exploring out to the range of where I can get their attention. If they hear their name faintly shouted from far away they turn and run. We’ve practiced. They miss hearing me less than 5% of the time. Usually when they don’t hear me it is obvious what happened to cause them to not hear me.

Strangely enough, they don’t get defiant about the end of the leash. They appreciate that I let them range so far and they know that if they mess with the leash I will pull them in closer and they hate that.

Kids behave how you expect them to behave, by and large. I expect my kids to be helpful, to listen, to be respectful, and to ask questions. I tell them over and over again, “If you see someone struggling with a hard job–offer help. If you stand and watch someone struggle with work you are a jerk-face. There are no shirkers in this family.”

We all come out of childhood with baggage. I lived in a house where only Auntie ever did any work. All the kids and Uncle Bob sat around watching her work. Made me crazy. I won’t fucking live like that. Auntie was actually fairly ok with it–about as ok with my friend who goes camping and is happy to do the work.

It is hard letting other people be ok with what they are ok with. I’m a judgy bastard. Even when I can understand the good reasons why person A does what they do I still want them to get more help. I project my desire for help onto everyone around me. Because I’m an asshole like that.

AND YET IF YOU SHOW UP AND OFFER TO HELP ME I WILL PROBABLY TELL YOU NO. Because I’m stupid. Because explaining how to help is often way more work than the work. Sigh.

I do recognize my idiocy and hypocrisy.

But I’m training my kids how to help. Because it is not more work than doing everything myself. It is WAY LESS WORK because they will be here for the long run. Teaching them how to help is an investment in the future. I’m fucking thrilled to teach my kids how to help.

I think we will handle the road trip and I think I am going to miss Noah like crazy. This may be the longest time I’m away from him for our whole marriage. I’m hoping. I hope I’m never away from him longer than that. If I weren’t going with the kids I wouldn’t be able to do it. The kids will help. The kids will be company. The company and emotional distraction is as much of a help as the fact that the kids will make me sandwiches. We are going to eat so many sandwiches. (The fact that I can put the kids at a table to make lunch while I set up camp is just AWESOME.)

appreciate my kids.

I do not want to teach my kids to be dependent recipients of work. I want them to walk into just about any situation and figure out how to be helpful. I’m great at doing this. My kids are going to pick up the skills too. If I have to beat it into them. (I’m KIDDING. I don’t hit my kids. My “beating something into their heads” just consists of endless repetition. I make up songs as we do stuff and I just sing the same fucking verse until my kids will be able to repeat my expectations of them in their sleep in many decades.)

And now both girls want some snuggles. ttfn.


FYI: We will not be hosting Easter this year. Easter falls on the same weekend as the My Little Pony conference and our bathroom will be ripped apart for a remodel.


Mortgage is below $180,000 now. Whoa. And I am taking out a huge loan so I can be more in debt. Oh man that seems stupid. But I want to fix all this stuff. How am I going to pay off not only this $180,000 but an additional $100,000 in the next six years? Realistically… five years.

How am I going to do this? Technically, the HELOC is a lower interest rate than my mortgage. And the HELOC will have an early repayment penalty. It is kind of feeling like rolling a bunch into the mortgage is smartest. The HELOC has to take at least three years to pay off. And the more I send to the mortgage the faster I pay it off the less interest over time. I’m already to the point where each payment is way more than 50% principle.

I’m feeling ridiculously tempted to send $20k to the mortgage. I want to do it. I don’t want to do it. Oh man.

I have ~ $105k in cash and ~ $180k in current debt. That means that between where I want to be and where I am right now I need to come up with an extra $200k. Pretty much. In five years. On top of all the ridiculously expensive things I like to do, like travel.

To me, that sounds like this year I have to pay a minimum of $50k on combined mortgage/HELOC if I want to stay on track.

No pressure. It seems completely insane to me. I doubt my mom has ever made $50k in a year. I made that much money my first year working as a teacher, barely.

Hm. How is this going to work out?

And I will do this while maxing out 401Ks, IRAs, 529s, and doing some additional random mutual fund investing.

Ok, I just sent $10k to the mortgage. That means I’m flirting with $50k in our primary checking instead of $60k and I can live with that. That’s enough heading into the remodel and travel. At least $20k of that will go into the remodel and the traveling will be in the neighborhood of $10k. But the travel money will come out slowly and mostly just look like barely expensive months. By the end of this year I will probably be able to send an additional $10k to the mortgage. That means that by the end of the year my mortgage principle will be below $150k. With four years to go. I’m going to be paying $50k-$60k for the next few years. Ouch.

But then, before I’m 40 years old, we will all of a sudden have a place to live that is paid off. Our relative income requirements will drop through the floor. We will owe ~$6k/year for taxes and then whatever maintenance costs.

I’ve lived in the bay area my whole life and I’ve been poor for more than 2/3 of my life. Needing this much money is crazy to me. Some day my house maintenance plus taxes will be less than $1,000/month. That will include utilities because the solar on the roof is awesome. That’s an amount of money I can come up with to keep my family safe. Food will be a different challenge.

Right now mortgage plus taxes plus maintenance fees is more like $4k/month. I… I can’t be the sole wage earner and keep that ship afloat. I feel pathetic but I can’t.

I’m scared of the future. I believe this period of being rich will be brief. If I don’t secure my future I will be in a lot of trouble. I’d like to be relatively sure I will be able to live in the future on less than $30k/year. My garden is coming along! Not there yet, but I didn’t want to be there yet. I want my garden to be pretty much ready by the time I’m 50. I’ve got time.

Calli has been telling me frequently that I’m not allowed to die. When I raise an eyebrow at her and kind of smirk she says, “Well… you can die of old age when you are 90 or something. BUT NOT BEFORE THAT.”

That’s rather a big deal to someone like me.

I’m trying to prepare for a future even while I’m scared I won’t have one. Even while I’m scared I don’t deserve one. Even while I’m scared that some day I will be in too much pain to continue and I will kill myself early. I’m trying to live as if I will live until I am 90 so I must take steps. I’m trying to show my kids how to take care of yourself for your whole life.

Noah is home. I missed him. I feel very lucky that if I am going to be stuck on this stupid, hateful planet for 90 years–at least I get to do it while spending most of those years with Noah.

By the time I’m 90 I will have spent less than 2/9 of my life in horrible poverty. Whoa. Perspective shift.

If I live in this house when I’m 90 then I will have lived here for 65 years. Whoa. I’ve already lived here for 8 years and that feels wacky. In June, right before I run off on my road trip, I will have lived in this house for three times as long as I’ve ever lived anywhere else.

Wonderland is working for me.

Kind of ironic

Both kids have been talking about the Godmamas practically non-stop for the last two weeks. Talking about how nice and wonderful they are. Talking about how much they are missed.

And now I get to say to my kids, “Actually, they don’t want to be your Godmamas any more. No, I don’t know if you will ever see them again.”

They didn’t ask for a while. I told them they would have to wait until their Godmamas were ready to see them again. Now, I get to change my story. Parenting is awkward.

House work it is

The kids decided we will ride bikes to Lego Club. That means light house work before we go so I’m not tired. Pulling that trailer is a freakin’ hard job. It’s ok. I only have five loads of laundry to fold and dishes and vacuuming and…

It never ends.

But I’m having a lot of fun with the kids. Despite all of us being somewhat grumpy and fussy we are cuddling like mad.

Busy day.

This morning the kids and I woke up and did an hour or so of house work. Then we went out in the yard and did 3-ish hours of yard work. Then we went to a tea party with friends. Then the friends came back to the house with us to play for a while. Now the kids are with the babysitter and I’m hiding in the garage for a while.

When I say “we did yard work” I mean I told the kids they had to weed under the trees before they got screen time. I’m so mean.

I put up the travel trailer for the kids (and their friend) to play in. I put it up, took it down, and they had a lot of time to play in an hour. Yay! This sucker will work out.

I feel like today I’ve had more energy than I’ve had in months and months. Part of me wonders how much of that is related to mending bridges with a friend. Not sure.

I finished attaching the landscaping fabric to the pallets in the back yard. I lined the planter boxes with fabric then covered it with cardboard. I moved all the stupid decorative white rocks into one of the planter boxes and I probably have enough rocks for drainage in that one. I need more rocks for the other two boxes. Then I need fill-dirt. Unfortunately Fremont soil is a clay nightmare. Tomorrow we have a few hours in the morning to work before Lego Club. I’m not sure what we will work on. Probably housework. Lots of laundry to fold.

I miss Noah. But I’m actually having fun with him not being here. I cleaned the bathroom. I’m hoping to get the house really clean before he gets back because he likes coming home to a clean house. I haven’t had the house clean since the housewarming party at the beginning of December. I know people think I keep my house spotless all the time… not so much. I go months without cleaning up entirely.

Heck, I only file once a year. That mess gets kind of insane. I file right before tax time. Because I’m a lazy bastard.

My back hurts and my arms hurt. But my front yard has made lots of progress towards being ready for the remodel. (I cleaned up the front yard a lot.) I have a few plants I want to move. The mums can go further towards the street in the front yard. The rosemary and sage and oregano I hope to propagate and move them to the back yard. I want an herb garden in the back.

I’m probably still a few days away from being ready to plant the mushroom kit. I only have like three more weeks. Eek! I hope to be ready to plant it before Noah gets home on Monday. Oh crap. We should also do the carnivorous plants kit. The seeds are in the fridge. I forgot about them. Crap.

Today the kids impressed me. We were in the car and Shanna and I were bickering. Calli said, “Will you two stop arguing. I am hungry and I’m getting grumpy and I’m tired of hearing arguing.” Then Shanna said, “Yeah. I’m hungry and getting grumpy too. Can we stop arguing?” I thought that was awesome. Yes ma’am. I’ll stop arguing. So happy.

Holy crap my arms hurt.

Status and comparisons.

A social-media-friend posted today that she wants to take a month off of comparing herself to other people. My instant thought was, “Wow. I can’t do what you are doing.” Which cracked me up. Someone else is trying to stop comparing themselves to people so I compare myself to them and feel like a loser. Like I do.

Right this minute I’m waiting for my meds to kick in. We were out of the house for ten hours and holy crap I could use extra apathy right about now. I don’t medicate when I’m driving (safety first!) and it makes my stomach hurt. It is really hard to eat as many calories as I need when my stomach hurts like this. So by the time I got home I was shaking.

During the road trip I think that I need to plan around being able to medicate by 1 or 2pm. I just don’t think it is smart for me to require myself to go longer than that without medication. It hurts my body. It means that by 6pm I’m not able to be patient with the kids and I end up having to apologize and I’m crying and it’s just… not something I can do steadily for five months. This hurts.

It was a good day. Two social calls and dinner/playtime at Ikea. We drove really far north and I stack those days pretty heavily because I’m not willing to drive more days.

Lately every social call feels fraught. Who am I going to drive away next? I don’t feel secure in my relationships. It was funny to talk with the folks at the first social call about insecurity and how it drives people away. Irony and all that.

And now my cat wants to crawl on my lap and I am gently but firmly telling her no. I cannot fucking pay attention to anything but me right this minute.

This insecurity feels tied in with the comparisons and with my wacky-ass perceptions of status. It should be said that my early understanding of “social status” came from the Clan of the Cave Bear books. Status decides that when the group goes for a walk you stand between (wo)man number 4 and (wo)man number 6. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually work that way in my real life. This means most of my early understandings are completely useless.

Noah tells me that someone else said (dinno who) that societies need to have a clear top and a clear bottom (of the social ladder) and it needs to be hard to tell where the rankings are in the middle. That seems plausible and all.

I read an article today that said it is better to not have “goals” and instead have “systems”. I agree and disagree. (For example: don’t have “run a marathon” as a goal; instead you should have the goal of running x miles on y days through the training period and that will allow you to run the marathon later.) I… Ok I’ll just say it: I think that is stupid. Well, not stupid exactly but missing some important steps.

If your goal is to write a book then you need to figure out a system to support that goal. If your only thing is, “I’ll start writing every day! Surely everything else will work out!”

I can tell you that it is perfectly possible to have a disciplined system where you write daily for years and never get around to writing the book. Sure, the system matters.. but without goals I think just setting up systems kind of burns out.

I don’t know many people who run enough to just do a marathon because they like maintaining that training schedule. I’m sure there must be people in the world but I feel confident saying they are rare. That means a whole lot of people (like me) do a marathon because they have a goal of doing a marathon and not because they want to Have The Long-Term System of Running.

Post-marathon I’m trying to figure out how running and exercise will work for me on a longer-term basis and that is systematized to some degree… but not just set a system and forget it. The system changes because my goals change over time. Sometimes I’m training for a marathon and sometimes I’m training for a 5k. There is not a system that will just cover both situations.

I’m quite certain there are writers who sit down and just babble daily and miraculously a book appears at the end. Most of the people I know who have written books have to start with the idea of what they want to write. They may not have every single line or plot-twist pre-planned, but they know they want to write a book. The goal isn’t just writing for the sake of writing.

Which brings me to: how do you evaluate your system or goals? How do they play into status? And then oh no do you compare yourself to other people to evaluate your progress?

At this moment in time I haven’t cut in over three years. I had one previous longer stretch in my life where I went longer without cutting, but at that time I was engaging in a myriad of other self-harm acts fairly intentionally. I wanted to hurt me. If I compare just to myself, am I doing well or not that well right now? It’s not my longest spree of non-self-harming because there are days when I have some alcohol and I know crystal clear that it hurts me to do so. Is having the occasional drink of alcohol better or worse than my previous tendency to go pick up very risky sex? I’m really not sure.

I evaluate some of these things by talking to other people who engage in self-harm. I compare my level of self-harm to theirs and I think about the sustainability of what I am doing.

At this stage of my life I feel comfortable saying that I am unlikely to accidentally kill myself with my self-harm. I am no longer doing things that could kill me accidentally. I’m still not good at taking care of myself, but I’m not courting death. That distinction matters to me.

When I say that I compare myself to other people that self-harm I don’t mean I decide that one or the other of us is “better” or “stronger” or “crazier” or … whatever. I mean I look at the range of self-harming behaviors and I try to figure out the potential lethality of what I’m doing. I try to determine if what I am doing something that I can keep up and sustain my life.

Cutting isn’t an option because it is modeling for my kids and they are both emotional enough that I am not going to be the god damn model for that behavior. Just no. I don’t pull my hairs out anymore because look at you fucking funny. I don’t pick up casual sex any more for a whole long list of reasons; very high on the list is that I don’t want to model such behavior for my children.

I know people who are able to be promiscuous AND good parents. I don’t think I am among their number. I’ve seen it happen–really and truly. There are some people who can compartmentalize their lives and engage in behavior when their kids aren’t around. My boundaries are shit. If I think something is ok sometimes I’m not good at saying no when I “should”. So I just don’t look around for prey anymore.

I’ve managed to alter some of my compulsive behaviors–I am working hard on my hypervigilance and I’m making progress. I am not managing to lessen my paranoia that everyone in the world is going to end up hating me because I am a disgusting human being, but I don’t think people will attack me randomly. That is progress.

Noah thinks I deserve to have a high opinion of myself because I have reached many of my life goals. He thinks I should think of myself as successful. I can’t figure out what would make me feel successful. Money isn’t doing it. School didn’t do it. Will parenting when I get to the far side? Somehow I doubt it.

I feel like I have spent my life trying very hard to walk next to the line of status without ever joining. Sure it means I will never be “high status” but it means that my position in society is ambiguous and people don’t know how to treat me. That’s better than people knowing they can treat you badly. Indecision is important. Privilege is important.

Sometimes people in my life say things like, “I don’t believe in privilege.” Invariably they are white. Usually they are men (but not always!). I believe in privilege. I’ve been much closer to the bottom of the social status ladder than the average white person from my current social class. If someone says they don’t believe in privilege my thought is, “Then why do white people commit more crimes and black people spend more time in prison?” It’s systematic. That doesn’t mean that individual white people never get a raw deal.

I went to parties over the past few months. It’s the holiday season–parties happen. Specifically I went back and visited a social group I used to spend a lot of time with and whom I haven’t spent much time since I had kids. It was weird. The whole time I was there I was shaking because I was convinced I would say something off-putting to someone and I would be told I had to leave. Even though the hosts are not that kind of people. I would have to physically assault someone for no reason in front of a crowd to be ejected. They don’t eject the rapists or the other awful people. My paranoia is kind of ridiculous. (Though to be fair I didn’t see a single rapist [that I know of] at this party–which was a great change. Every other time I’ve been in their house I’ve known of 1-3 rapists present.)

Sometimes folks ask me to tell them who the missing stairs are. Sometimes I can tell and sometimes I can’t because if I told it would be obvious who the victim is and I was sworn to secrecy. I’m not good at holding my own secrets. It is hard to hold them for other people. I think I have done so pretty well over the years. I talk about having the knowledge (because having the knowledge and sitting on it is fucking awful for me) because otherwise I will blurt. Talking around something is a way for me to avoid jumping up and down on it.

Sometimes, when I know about a missing stair and I hear from yet another victim I feel very guilty–like it is all my fault this additional person got raped.

These things all feel tied up to me. Status, comparisons, missing stairs, privilege, feeling successful, making goals.

I’m told regularly that I should only compare myself to myself. But what about when I’m backsliding. It totally happens. Then I feel like a shitty piece of shit who should die. But when I’m backsliding and I look around at other people who have comparable problems to mine I can find some compassion for myself. Most people with severe mental illness backslide. It isn’t because I am a failure. It is because I am a person with severe mental illness.

Today I was talking with a friend who has much more severe physical issues than I do. Never the less we could talk about comparable childhood issues and she was able to give me some useful ways to talk about my sensitivity issues.

I had not ever really thought about the fact that I write so poorly partially because holding a pen/pencil hurts my hand. Anything that requires tight movements of my fingers. Know how I freak the fuck out when it comes to having to do fine work I have to pinch my fingers to do? It hurts. It always has. I have to talk to someone with a diagnosable hyper-flexibility disorder in order to find someone with comparable problems. Talking to her means that I got to be told, “Hyperflexibility problems happen on a spectrum. It is possible to have one or two hyperflexible joints that will cause you major life problems.”

Oh. Yeah, I’ve always had several joints that were hyperflexible. My hands hurt like a motherfucker when I try to write. My knees hyperextend like a motherfucker. They always have. I have to be careful how I hold my legs or they hurt really badly.

I don’t recognize that these things are problems unless I compare myself to other people. For me they are just how my body works. I can compare how my body changes over time, but even that is hard to do because memory is imperfect. I can watch how my behavior changes over time… sorta… mostly I assume that my behavior is shit because I’m a shitty person.

Sometimes I cry and apologize to my kids for being so mean and they look at me very confused and say, “I didn’t hear anything mean.” I am not a good judge of whether or not my behavior is acceptable.

Partially because “acceptable” changes from person to person and I know a rather freakishly diverse group of people. I fucking love my friends. They are so awesome. I’m grateful you spend time with me and show me what it is like to be a person like you.

Noah sometimes tells me he thinks I should feel more successful because of how I handle money. I don’t know how to really make him understand that I don’t feel like having money is a sign of success. It’s mostly a sign that nothing bad has happened recently. That doesn’t mean I’m so good or anything like that.

One of my friends was talking about her money situation with regards to having two special needs kids. I listened and thought, “I’m a fucking piece of shit for complaining about my life. Compared to this I have such a fucking cake walk.” At this stage my problems are mostly self-imposed to the degree that mental illness can be self-imposed.

I do not feel that someone else having a hard time means that I am successful and judging your success or not by how much money you have seems to necessitate thinking that people who have less money are less successful. Oh barf. Fuck you with a fucking chain saw.

I don’t envy money. I envy people who have emotionally-close families. I envy people who have a life-long group of very close friends. Most of the people I’ve met who have noticeably more money than me… I don’t envy a god damn thing about their life. I wouldn’t trade my life for theirs for anything. Once in a while I meet the rare rich person who also has a ridiculously tight family unit… ok, I envy them. That seems god damn unfair.

It has been a weird life. Seeing my boss last week was fascinating. He knew me when I was very poor. He gave me work so I didn’t have to live on ramen any more. He semi-regularly bought me food because otherwise I wouldn’t be eating during work shifts. Now I can take him out to lunch. Does that make me feel “successful”? Not really. Mostly I felt very sad that life has been so hard to him over the past decade that he needs to have people buy him food. He looks like a scarecrow. He’s lost almost 30 pounds and he was always a slender man.

I went to the park with one of my former students. I listened to her life woes. She talked about longing for a $2 ball of string for crochet and having to put that desire off for months or years because she doesn’t have an extra $2. I said, “When is your birthday?” “Two weeks ago.” “Here is money. Happy Birthday. I love you very much and I think it is not ok that there is a universe where I have extra money and you can’t have a $2 ball of string. Don’t tell your husband I gave you the money.” (Long story there I’m not sharing on the internet.)

Do I feel “successful” because I rarely pass a homeless person without giving them food or money? No.

Having more “things”, having more money than other people does not make me feel better about myself at all. It feels orthogonal to my search for self-worth.

What has made me feel successful? Having strangers on the internet tell me that my book made their life better. I made them feel less alone and less bad about themselves. That feels like success. Mostly my life doesn’t involve a lot of people telling me how I’ve made their lives better. Life doesn’t really go that way by and large. It’s ok. It is what it is.

I walked out of my college graduation feeling like a fraud and a piece of shit. It is pretty remarkable (and pathetic) how I can turn things that *should* make me feel good about myself into reasons to hate me.

I have many pictures on my walls. Well over 150 pictures. More will come. Some are studio pictures, many are candid shots. They span many many decades. I have the one picture of my grandparents that I have on the wall. I see the faces of my sister and brother and many many friends who are no longer in my life.

I think I consciously don’t want to cull the pictures of the people who are no longer actively in my life because I know how important they are to me, even though I don’t see them any more.

If my sister showed up at my door tomorrow crying and apologizing… I’m pretty sure I couldn’t shut the door on her. If she showed up yelling I could slam the door in her face. If my brother ever decides to try to mend fences I will probably bend over backwards. If my mother ever has the courage to approach me I will probably fall to my knees apologizing for being such a bad daughter.

It is hard for me to have boundaries. Even with people who hurt me very much.

Sometimes I feel like I am “not attached” to people because I can walk away from so many relationships. Last year I ended a 15 year relationship. That hurts. I did not feel the person could be safe for my kids and that’s just a non-starter. Sorry, you aren’t more important to me than my kids. My kids are my responsibility in a way that no friend ever could be.

My favorite shirt now has nine holes in it. (To completely jump topics.) I’m very sad about this. The biggest holes are the size of a quarter. It’s time for this shirt to go. (I’ve already sewn up holes several times and it is starting to look like shit.) Money is convenient and awesome to use for trading for goods and services. Money can be used to trade for things that other people perceive as social status whether I agree with their evaluations or not.

I had the fucking ladies who worked in Tiffany’s oohing and awwwing over my wedding ring. I believe the whisper was, “Oooooh. That’s real.” Which… how the fuck they can tell is beyond me. Frankly that seemed weird to me. The rings that other women wear are imaginary? What the fuck?

It was a fucking outrageously expensive ring that I still feel guilty about buying. I could have paid down my fucking mortgage more.

The thing is, I’ve had several occasions as an adult (since getting married) where I needed to manipulate the fuck out of people to get them on my side. (Police officers, lawyers, and judges top the list!) The fact that rich people look at me and know my jewelry is real means that I get less pushback than I would get if I were more visibly poor.

I watched how my mother was treated. It was really bad.

Rich white people look at me and think, “Ahh. On My Side.” Knowing that rich white people look at me and think that makes me want to puke. But I’ll exploit it when I have to. Because that’s how the world works.

I deeply admire my friend who is trying to find self-worth without comparing herself to other people. I think that is healthy and admirable. I also think I’m not capable of doing it. Maybe never, definitely not right now. (Not that she said nor implied that I should copy her. Err, I am just having my feels over here.)

I don’t like me very much, but my kids do. My kids pick hanging out with me over options that frankly sound more fun to me. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are entirely sincere about the depths of their devotion. They prove it over and over again. They pick hanging out with me over other people. Blows me the fuck away. When we talk about our favorite part of the day at dinner, more than half the time one or both of my kids tell me that their favorite thing was snuggling with me or spending time with me.

I know this will change and I need to let it change. I tell the kids, “I’m really happy you feel this way about me right now. It will be ok if I am not your FAVORITE PERSON forever. I will adjust and learn to live with whoever supplants me in your affections.” When I say that Shanna looks at me intently and says, “Moooom.” She has an adorable glare that goes with it.

I really don’t know how the future will go. And I’m scared. But I’m really grateful I get to face the future with Noah and Shanna and Calli. And my friends. I have great friends even if I don’t trust that will still like me in the future. I’m sorry I don’t have more trust. I have a lot of good reasons to think people aren’t going to like me long term. It’s not just paranoia.

But I recognize that I’m pretty paranoid and that isn’t useful or necessary.

So cold.

I’m wearing warm jammies, socks, slippers, a big fuzzy warm robe, a multiple-layered fuzzy blanket, a warm hat, and the heater is on. I’m just about shivering. If I stay very still I can keep my teeth from chattering. I feel like my body is just weird lately. The internet says it is 49 degrees outside. That isn’t that cold. So ridiculous.

I draw a great deal of comfort from the fact that I fulfill selfish needs that Noah has. He is unlikely to get rid of me as long as I meet his needs.

I understand that sometimes I fail to meet peoples needs and I become expendable. I know how the world works. I draw a lot of comfort from the fact that I meet so many of Noah’s needs. I’ve been asking him to remind me which needs those are.

I always think that sex would be one of the most important things and he says that sex makes it to the top five but probably isn’t the most important thing. That’s nice. He’s more interested in the fact that I am good companionship and I have made his money multiply like rabbits. When we got married he had a lot of personal debt. In the past eight years he has gained three dependents and more than doubled his net worth–largely because I am a compulsive saver. It is hard to get him to nail down the other top five things.

I’m having big feelings. It is true that I didn’t supply support to my friend. That’s a fact. I feel guilty and ashamed of myself for letting my friend go through such trauma alone. But I offered help and I was told no. I don’t know what to do with these feelings. I’m being punished for not helping and I feel bad for not helping but I was told I was not allowed to help. I don’t know what to do there.

Was I supposed to show up anyway against orders? Was I supposed to pester weekly to find out if I could maybe help now? Your wife doesn’t like me very much and she’s not nice when I bug her. Do you really think I should have bothered her every single week trying to help you? She told me no in no uncertain terms.

But now I’m bad. Yeah, that figures.

If I offer and offer and offer and offer help and I’m always turned down… when does my responsibility expire? When have I done all that I could do without running over peoples boundaries?

Is that what you expected? That I would declare myself “family” and show up even when I was told to go away? That’s not something that *I* am constitutionally capable of doing.

When my family tells me to go away… I go away. I nod, say: “Ok” and start walking.

Ok, sure I write hysterically about it for years to come… but you only have to deal with my hysterical writing if you choose to come to my blog. I don’t feel that bad.

I offered dinners and time spent together for years before the accident. You wouldn’t respond to emails or phone calls. You made me go through your wife and your wife doesn’t like me. Your wife has been literally flipping me off for a long time. Like, other people can witness her flipping me off. It isn’t subtle.

When your friend marries someone who hates you that is probably a death knell for the friendship even if it takes a while.

I tell myself often that if I have the same problems with everyone in my life… it isn’t always someone else’s fault. But the thing is, people are also acting on patterns in their own lives. I’m not the only one who has the same issue over and over.

I notice that my friend is now in the position of having no one in her life other than her wife. It isn’t just me who was run off. It was everyone.

Maybe it isn’t all my fault.

I’m not saying I was perfect or blameless. I didn’t help when you really needed help. It’s true. The fact that your wife told me I couldn’t help is kind of only tangentially related. You needed help and you didn’t get it. That sucks and hurts and is terrible. I agree. It isn’t fair that after all the years of you doing things for me I didn’t show up to help you.

I was told to leave you alone. I’m really sorry. I listen to orders. Except when I do the opposite. I’m fucking inconsistent.

It has not seemed wise to ignore your wife. It seemed like that would lead to problems. But listening to her rules also lead to problems. I don’t think there was a way for me to do anything right here.

I’m sad. But I don’t feel like this was all my fault, for once. It’s funny that I got way more upset over the Dear Jane Letter Lady and I only knew her for a year. This is 15 years and custody of my children down the drain.

Frankly, if you are going to pull this kind of shit, I am fucking elated you did it before I died so you didn’t hurt my children. I was wrong in my choice for custody. That hurts. I feel really bad that I made such a wrong choice for my childrens safety. The relationship was pretty damn solid before you got married. Whoops.

Guess your wife didn’t like the arrangement. And now she takes priority. That’s right for your life. And shitty for my kids.

Luckily I’m not dead yet. I have a chance to do better by my kids.

The future scares the shit out of me.

But I’m grateful every day for my children. Even though I am scared by the responsibility they represent. I must ensure that they are safe for 13 more years. Even if that means not being nice to some adults in my life. The safety and security of my children is more important to me than other adults. I chose to bring them into the world and I am responsible for them. Other adults need to take care of themselves. Is that fair? Life isn’t fair.

I only get support when I ask for it, micromanage how it happens, and reward people for supporting me.

I don’t know what fucking world you live in that you think people should ignore your protestations and help you anyway. That’s not a world I live in. No one god damn shows up to support me when I need help but I haven’t asked. I sit here alone.

Near as I can tell–that’s just how life goes. If you can’t ask for help you won’t get it. Not as an adult. Some people luck into families that care for them when they are small but even that isn’t guaranteed.

I fail at some parts of being a friend, it is true. If what you need from me is for me to show up against protests and do things for you… I won’t be a good friend.

I don’t have that to offer.

Feeling supported

It would be really easy for me to spend a lot of time being bitter at everyone in my life because I don’t feel very supported. It would be a combination of a rational reaction and an irrational reaction. I don’t get all the support I need. That’s true. It isn’t anyone else’s fault that I’m not getting my needs though and that’s the part that keeps me from blowing up at people over it.

I’m having big feelings.

I had lunch with my old boss. He’s doing better than he was for a few years. He was my Technical Director when I did theatre. I worked as his subordinate longer than I worked for another direct boss in any job. I like him a lot. He was a sweetie and ripped a board for me so I can finish the camp trailer–it’s easy when you have a table saw.

For a few years there he was lost in an alcoholic haze. I don’t think he remembers much from several years there. He cheated on his wife and had a bad divorce and things just went south for him. He’s stabilizing and doing better now though.

It’s funny talking to him. I met him when I was 16. I met him in the interim period in between Tommy committing suicide and my dad committing suicide when the prosecution was in progress and my family was pretending I didn’t exist.

Talking to him is funny.

He spent a while telling me how annoying it is dealing with some of his current helpers because they have psychological issues and he’s tired of being flexible. To be fair–when I worked for him it was clear that he managed me so well because he had years of history of working in psychiatric hospitals as his ‘side job’ to pay for his theatre career.

When he was describing the boys in the shop these days… I laughed and said, “It sounds like you are describing me.” He said, “Oh you weren’t anything as bad as these boys. You managed your freak outs. You had them–but you still got freakin work done.”

This boss is one of the people who convinced me that I am an extraordinarily hard worker. He continues to bolster my sense of self esteem.

When he was bitching about the boys and trying to say that I wasn’t anywhere near as unstable I said, “Do you understand when you met me and how much I was freaking out?!” I gave him timeline data. He looked shocked. “I had no idea that was going on. You managed your freak outs well.”

My vision of myself doesn’t seem to align with other peoples vision of me very well. I’m never sure what that means.

I had a temper tantrum this morning over string. I’ve been trying to untangle a mess of string for weeks. Every time I make progress helper knots screw everything up and I… I lose it. This morning I finally just threw it away because the temper tantrums are so ridiculous.

It was funny watching Shanna’s reaction. I started getting very angry and cussing a lot. She started looking intimidated and kind of guilty. I stopped my stream of swearing and said, “Oh honey I’m not mad at you or anything about you. I’m mad at the string. I find the string very frustrating and I feel like I could just scream in frustration.”

Her body language completely changed to being completely relaxed and casual and, “Oh ok.” She got up and started dancing. It was… kind of interesting to watch. She spends a lot of time saying, “Thanks for telling me that.”

I am not good at things that require me to squint and pinch my fingers. I get so mad.

And yet it has taken me literally years and over a dozen times of unknotting this fucking same bit of string before I finally throw it away. Because that doesn’t feel like a valid option either. That feels wasteful and bad.

Being poor really messes you up for life.

I’m having lots of feelings. I think it is funny that I’m not more upset than I am. I feel resigned and callous and like I expected this rejection. It’s been a long time in coming.

I am not surprised that I’m being rejected because I did not provide enough support even though every time I offered support I was told no. That just makes sense in this situation. Clearly there was something desired that was never explained to me in the slightest. There was no way for me to do this right.

I’m sad but I’m not exploding with self-deprecation and self-incrimination. I choose to believe that is good.

Although I wonder if I feel as guilty about not being more upset as I feel upset. If that makes any sense. I feel some upset. I feel as much guilt for not being more upset. Language is weird.

Talking is weird. People are weird.

We showed the kids some Bowling for Soup videos this morning (like we do). The kids didn’t understand why I cried so much through this song. (Watch the video and you’ll probably get it. My kids… don’t make the same leaps.)

I’m not having fun explaining to the kids why some adults want to change the nature of your relationship such that they never talk to you again. But life isn’t really designed to be fun for me. That’s not the point of life.

At the end of my life, maybe I’ll stand before some kind of cosmic judge. That judge will know that I’ve been an asshole to a lot of people. Hopefully there will be some kind of balance in being nice to my kids. That’s a bigger, harder, more encompassing job that I actually opted-in to doing. I’m not going to get much credit for being a good friend. I hope that in the balance I’m not that bad of a mother.

I miss my mom. I miss my mom so much.

The funny part of people being mad about not having more of a “grandparent like” relationship is: you are the only grandparent like people I allow to have any influence on my children and you still are angry and feel like what I am giving you is inadequate. Ok. I don’t know how to be different in this regard. I have given you so much more control than any other adults that I don’t understand you punishing me for not giving you more. I don’t know how to give more. I don’t know what that means or looks like.

And you never told me what you wanted. You just pulled away. Then told me that it was all my fault.


Move on

Since I’ve been predicting this one for a while I don’t feel particularly shocked. I don’t feel as upset as I often do at a break up. I don’t feel like I was perfect (I’m not a perfect person) but I feel like I tried. My trying wasn’t enough.

If one of the big complaints is that I didn’t provide enough support but I never turned down a request and you turned down dozens of offers of support… I have a clear conscious.

It hurts, but life hurts. I’ll keep walking.

I think it is funny how I react differently to each break up. Sometimes I feel completely devastated. This one should be HUGE. It is… but I’ve seen it coming for a long time and so I’ve had time to start my grief process.

With each person who dumps me I feel a little more afraid that in the end there will be just Noah because even my kids will get sick of me. Then I get scared that Noah will hit his limit too. I’m not a very nice person. This is proven to me year after year as my long-term friendships and “support” and “chosen family” can’t handle me. If you have the same problem over and over… it isn’t always someone else’s fault.

I’m really hard to put up with. It’s just true.

I’m scared.

I think it is interesting how much my suicidality is tied to hormone cycles. I don’t feel suicidal at all. This breakup isn’t one that causes me to feel like I should die because I hurt everyone. But I wonder if I am going to trot this one out when I’m already feeling bad as just one more reason to flagellate myself. This breakup isn’t trigger enough for a huge explosion of self-hate all by itself–which is probably healthy.

Quite frankly I’ve been trying too hard against too much rejection for too many fucking years. I god damn know I tried and was told no.

In some ways, it is a relief. I’ve been trying to offer help for years. It has been an open debt. Closing the account is like a company choosing to pay out all of the backlog of vacation pay. Ok. At least now I don’t have a potential energy sink I have to make allowance for. I did make allowances. I did reserve space. I offered it and offered it and offered it. You didn’t want it. And now you tell me I didn’t support you enough and you are done.

If I have to chase you that hard to support you… no I can’t do it. You are right that if you need that much chasing I can’t do it. I can’t give you what you need. Offering is all I have. If I have to insert myself and just do it without offering… I can’t. I don’t have that space in my life. I just don’t.

I’m sorry that you felt used. I thought the deal was pretty clear. If it feels bad to you then it should end. That is true.

I will be grateful for the rest of my life for the amount of support you provided. You made the last six years of my life much better than it would have been without you. I love you very much and I’m sorry things have worked out this way. I will always love you. I understand that the current deal isn’t working. Ok.

If you ever want to come back I will still love you. That will not change. I am sad, but I do not feel rancor.

I could, but I don’t. I think that your life changed. I think that you wanted to have a certain kind of relationship but I didn’t understand what you saw in your head and I’ve never had relationships that functioned that way. I don’t know what it is you wanted. You never told me. You never asked me for changes or differences, you just pulled away. You wanted me to manifest a relationship I have never experienced and I can’t do that.

It is interesting to me how there is a difference between someone pulling away and someone swiping at me. If someone pulls away and never swipes… I feel no desire to slam a door. There isn’t anything to protect myself against other than the black-hole-like draw of wanting to earn the love of someone who has proven they don’t love me enough. If someone says something that hurts I get scared and feel like I have to slam a door.

The funny thing is, the people who swipe are the ones who come back. They are the ones who show up. Is that why I want to slam the door? Because I want to prove the narrative that everyone leaves and if they don’t leave I will push them out and close the door behind them? I sure like believing I’m right and “Everybody Hates Krissy” is one of my favorite narratives whether it is true or not. I’ll find a fucking way to antagonize people until I make it true.

Today is a full day. Last Hindi class of the session. I’m making Noah go because I’m having trouble being patient in the class. I’m so ridiculous. I make my kids “behave” for the vast majority of their lives. I can’t enforce classroom behavior very well for a one hour thing in the middle of the week. My kids don’t adjust well and I get angry and I stay angry all day. So Noah is taking Calli to class. He takes notes. Then we teach one another at home. We’ve learned a remarkable amount of Hindi this way.

Then we get to go to a horse-riding birthday party! Super exciting. One of the home school families who we see the most. The party will be pretty smooth and easy. I get more support than I deserve from this crowd.

Tonight Caliban (an off-shoot of the Irish band Tempest) is playing in a local coffee shop and the Nextdoor crowd from our neighborhood is going to meet up there. It starts at bedtime which I’m not thrilled about, but we’ll stay for a little while. Luckily it is hella close to my house. At bedtime and less than 5 miles from my house is very different from starts at bedtime 40 miles from my house, which is how events in San Francisco work. The amount of time it takes to get home factors into how acceptable a late night is.

I don’t know what the future will bring. I have this weird feeling that if I can grow to be ok with an ever-changing cast of characters… I will never have to be alone. If what I want is a consistent group of very predictable people… I am doomed to disappointment.

The key to happiness is low expectations. That’s what my husband tells me. Noah makes me happier than anyone else ever has. He under promises and over delivers consistently. My dear friend would tell me that no one else can “make” me feel anything.

(See, I do listen to you.)

On the PTSD support forum there is always a thread from a female supporter dealing with a male sufferer and infidelity. Always. These women always want us on the PTSD board to say that the cheating is because of the PTSD. To our credit we present a universal front: PTSD does not CAUSE cheating. PTSD causes you to feel shitty and unconnected and then what you do with those feelings is a whole ‘nother layer of shit.

My PTSD causes me to not trust people and to feel paranoid that everyone is going to leave me because no one loves me. Then my behavior really sucks and some people have to stop associating with me because I am hurting them and I believe that I am justified in believing that I’m a bad person and everyone will leave me. It’s a “charming” loop.

Noah works hard at being consistent for me in a way that is literally not fair to him. I am so dysregulated that he overcompensates by trying to be regular.

Whether I feel happiness or not… Noah’s behavior is a constant reminder that I need to find it in me to feel like one person is going to stay whether I like it or not. I have to believe because there is evidence and proof and consistency there to back it up.

Noah makes me feel happy. Even I can’t discount his behavior. He doesn’t do it by jumping through spectacular hoops. He does it by making breakfast in the morning and smiling at me.

I’m going to have more relationship break ups. I have no idea who will be next. I see a few possibilities due to tempestuous interactions but who knows.

I will mourn the loss of this relationship. I will not feel like the loss of this relationship will end my life or substantially change things for me in how I cope. I’ve been effectively managing this loss for almost a year. I’m grateful it came in stages with death throws so I could adjust instead of it being sudden. That was a mercy.

I’m sorry it didn’t work out. I love you.