My shrink wants me working on specific aspects of my hypervigilance/empathy issues. Specifically she wants me doing woo woo shit trying to work on “creating a barrier that starts inside my spine and goes to the edge of my skin and holds me in without letting me contact other people”.

Woo woo shit.

But I’m GGG and I’m paying for her input on my life so I work on my assignments. It’s funny what I think about and notice when I do.

I notice the angry parents more than I notice the sad/upset people. Trying to “focus on myself” means I notice anger more. That’s kind of funny. I think I partially noticed that  because of a conversation I wrote about on the kid blog. My kid told me I was being average for yelling as much as I am at Disney World.

So I went to multiple theme parks without them (there was one roller coaster I wanted to ride and then that park closed so I went to the one that was open to eat) and I spent my time kind of looking around trying not to be impacted by peoples feelings.

I notice way more angry people than usual.

Want to know something funny about anger? I only notice situations that feel like they have probability to escalate as I’m walking around normally with my kids. I tune out the annoying yellers and ranters who just exist without impacting me. I just don’t notice them. When I’m trying not to emotionally connect with people I notice them and they bug the shit out of me.

Why are people so god damned mean?

(Small break to change the topic: ok, watching weather is way cooler on the east coast than it is on the west coast.)

It’s funny how I’m watching people act out the equivalent of that toddler HALT thing you are supposed to look for. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Thirsty) Uhm, it just occurred to me that it is absolutely equally as important for all age groups… but I learned it for watching toddlers.

I’m telling you, I’m learning how to take care of myself by taking care of my kids. It’s a trip.

Anyway. The arguments and fights. Whoo. Just calm down everyone. Clearly I’m not the only one struggling with adjusting to the weather and the distance of walking here. I’m not going to recount the bickering I heard because it’s not central to my story.

I’m the main character here. Stay on topic.

I really and truly love having a space where I get to be the center. I don’t have much desire to “promote” my blog or sell ads to make money. I just want a place where I get to be self centered because I can’t really be in the rest of my life any more. Not if I want to have the life I want to have in thirty years.

I have to think about Noah. I have to think about my kids. I have to make decisions that will have all of us continue this fantastic privileged life we are leading. We are so ridiculously lucky.

I think about that as I spend a lot of money on presents for freaking everyone I know. Yeah. It’s gotten ridiculous.

I think it is funny how it is a mix of things that remind me of you and things that I think will delight you because it will remind you of me.

So so so so many books.

I can’t tell if I am trying to buy peoples love or if I just want to share this ridiculous privilege that I find I’ve stumbled upon. I didn’t earn it. I just… have it. I’m learning so many things. I really want to share.

Want to know my favorite part? I am buying presents for grown ups too, but mostly kids. The won’t care at all if I’m trying to buy their love. They will say, “That sounds great!”

And in the process I will also get to share what I’ve learned. Because they will love me and want to spend time around me. See, it works all the way around.

But it still feels bad. It feels like my mom trying to buy me off from noticing that my life was shit. It feels like trying to buy forgiveness for harm.

I don’t think I’ve harmed them. I really don’t. But I feel scared.

I could let fear keep me from sharing this awesome experience with the kids in my life in the best way I know how. But that seems kind of silly. Even if the best way I know how isn’t The Best Way How Ever it’s ok that I want to do it this way.

“This is why I thought of you when I saw this. This is the aspect of your personality I want to remind you is visible in the world.” My unspoken wish is that this talisman will work as a form of validation for you. I see you. You do matter. I can’t be with you all the time telling you that. Please take this and try to remember it on the dark days. I see you. You do matter.

Is that trying to buy love? I don’t understand gift cultures very well. What I grew up with was very distorted.

My mom overbought gifts because she was brought up Mennonite and poor and she wasn’t allowed to have things. Even when her family was fostering children and the foster children were given presents (to help them adjust) my mom wouldn’t be given presents. So my mom gave her children mountains of presents. By the time I came around it was stuff she has been buying all year long at $.25-$.99 at a time.

I have a lot of feelings about receiving gifts. Then I married Noah. His mom has gift giving issues of her own. We get a lot of stuff. Dealing with it has been an emotional journey.

Apparently Noah’s parents are very happy that we keep sending status updates about our journey to Texas. They are very happy that the kids are excited about visiting them.

I’ve written a lot of 10+ page letters that are probably kind of confusing talking about my background and why I’m not telling the kids negative stories about their grandparents and why I am telling the kids as much about their family as I know. “You get a blank slate with these kids. Whether or not you abused Noah is kind of moot. Don’t fuck this up. The well hasn’t been poisoned even if I don’t like you very much.”

I feel waves of horrifying guilt that I can’t curate this for my mother.

It’s different.

If my niece and nephew hadn’t both been sexually assaulted.

If I had managed to keep it from jumping down a generation. But I can’t do that. I can’t control their story. I wasn’t willing to stand next to them making sure nothing happened.

I get exactly two chances to do that this lifetime. It’s an incredible gift.

Thank you, Noah. I will never run out of gratitude for the fact that you are the reason I get to have this life.

I am watching the sun rise over the savanna as I sit on my balcony. The kids are still asleep.

I’m not sleeping here. I don’t think this is a proper queen bed. And I ran out of sleep aid. So I’m lucky if I catch 4-5 hours of sleep. Even with melatonin and pot. That forking sucks.

I miss Noah. I miss going to sleep without a wad of pills.

Human beings are social animals. It’s a well documented thing that some of the most successful marriages are those in which highly traumatized people have the opportunity to earn attachment.

I am really glad we did this trip. I will be really glad when it is over.

I’ll get to write about it for decades. I only have to live through it once.

I only have to be away from Noah for this long once.

It feels like trying to breathe without my left lung.

It feels like trying to go to sleep only I can’t because I lost Ted and I don’t have Noah and I feel so sad and like such a failure because I can’t even keep my teddy bear.

I can’t keep my mother. And I can’t keep a teddy bear. Clearly I do not deserve to live.

And that’s what keeps me up at night.

Sleep deprivation is known torture. I find that my inability to sleep goes in weird cycles with how safe I feel. The less safe I feel the less I sleep the less safe I feel in a terrible worsening cycle.

This is why I take handfuls of pills when I travel these days. Sleep isn’t optional. We leave the resort tomorrow. I’ll buy more. Driving will be fun before then.

We are spending the night in Miami tomorrow. I want to drive down to the Keys. I want to take pictures of the Everglades. We will have a king sized bed so I can sleep.

I’ve seen so many things. It is becoming kind of amazing to me. It’s not that I think I understand everything I’ve seen. I’m just saying that I have a significantly different impression of the field of botany than I used to have. I used to think plants were boring. I don’t any more.

I’ve seen too many kinds of fantastic plants. I’ve see such incredible growing techniques. I want to keep learning.

I hear my garden is missing me. Sniff. I miss you too baby. Next year will be great. ALL THE FERTILIZER! We’ll come back from this period. It’s ok. Eventually I’ll figure out automatic watering and you won’t have to suffer when I’m gone. I’m sorry.

You know what, Noah? I’m glad Puff didn’t have to spend her declining years dealing with snow. I’m glad she gets to enjoy the last of her life surrounded by sunshine most of the year. And yet she would be pissed here. She’s always pissy the one week we have horrible summer. She had a hard enough childhood with me. I’m glad she is so spoiled now.

I guess things are working out ok.

Today we are going to Typhoon Lagoon because it is the last park we haven’t been to. We’ve been here for like 18 days (minus travel time to/from NYC) and we still haven’t been to the last park. That’s a sign we’ve been resting a lot. Ahhhh. Wise choice.

I’m looking forward to the time on Vero Beach. Hurricane Joaquin means we shouldn’t spend a lot of time playing seriously on the water. Which means we might spend a lot of time sitting alternated with the kids running back and forth in the sand.

Sounds great.

The kids are really frustrated with being on resort property because there aren’t many places where it is appropriate to run.

We like to run everywhere. We don’t have good instincts around that. We spook animals with our sudden bursts of energy.

Good grief we are ridiculous.

Enh, we do fine as long as we move a lot during the day. We can sit. But we only choose to do so when focused on something we find interesting.

Is it really so bad? We are interested in a lot of things. The kids are progressing on skills. Why must it happen in an environment where they are forced to learn to sit all day whether they like it or not?

I just don’t get it. Ok. Wandering off. My arms burn like fire.

Good stuff.

I need to write down some good stuff so that in the future when I reread my archives (ha ha ha I’ll never do it) I can see that I wasn’t a whiny bitch full time.

Right this minute I’m sitting on my balcony overlooking a false as hell savanna. For all that it isn’t even vaguely a savanna, it’s pretty and the animals seem ok. I have mixed feelings about zoos because I’ve read too much about animals going crazy from lack of stimulation. I’m glad this is fairly large. 26 acres isn’t a horrifying box.

Good things: thank goodness that every aspect of checking into Disney is streamlined and assisted. Do you know why I shop inside the parks and pay way too much money for gifts for everyone I know? Because I know that paying $25 for a t-shirt helps Disney keep this many employees standing around ready to help. If they tried to charge less for food and merchandise they would not be able to float an army of employees.

The kids and I had a chat about my behavior today. I told them that I feel like I’m not being very nice lately. Eldest child said, “Mom it’s obvious you need a break and you are louder than we like you to be but you aren’t being mean. You just… aren’t being as nice as usual. It’s ok.”

Youngest child said, “It is hurting my feelings that you don’t want to snuggle. I wish that would change.”

On one hand that doesn’t sound happy or good so why am I recording it here? On the other hand… I always see me as being mean and evil. My children tell me that is not their experience of me. That’s good.

Oh my goodness. A herd of longhorn cattle (a specific breed I can’t remember the name of right this second–they are indigenous to Africa and we don’t see them much in the US) are playing and running around right under me! Ok, that’s ridiculously cool. They are frisking and nudging each other.

The kids and I have been having really interesting conversations lately. We talk about the patriarchy and feminism and biospheres and sustainability and conservation and responsibility.

My kids perceive themselves as people who have the power to influence the world around them in positive AND negative ways and they pay a lot of attention to their behavior because of this. I feel floored that they care.

I mean…. I’ve told them they must care. But I’ve said that to thousands of kids over the years. Do you know how many have believed me? I could count them on my fingers.

We have 53 days until we get home. That’s a good thing. We are almost 3/4 of the way through the trip. I just went and counted (because people keep asking me) and we will see 30 states on this trip. (Including our home state.) Given how far we are through it I know that for sure now.

That’s awesome.

In order they are: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, DC, Virginia,North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico & Arizona.

I originally had hopes for seeing a few more. I’m going to call it good though because we are crispy fried.

That’s a good thing. I’m respecting our limits.

Oh, good thing. I scheduled childcare for four nights this week. I’m already ecstatic. Want to know something better? I booked two massages for this week. I hurt so much.

Lucky bitch. Lucky bitch. Lucky bitch!

Right this second I feel like a spoiled, pampered, selfish princess. It’s kinda awesome. I’ll feel better after two massages this week. Hell yeah.

Good thing! I weighed myself this morning. Right at 160 lbs. Yup, that’s where I want to be.

Also good thing: Uhm, my pooping is doing better than average with fewer incidents of diarrhea. I’m happy about that. It isn’t expected. I can’t really figure out what is triggering what at this point. My eating is all over the place. But I have solid poop at least half the time right now. Well, “solid” is relative. It’s formed and banana-like. I don’t get hard poop. That’s just not part of my life. That’s ok though. I hear constipation sucks. My kids sometimes get too hard of poop and we have to consciously eat fruit for a bit. It doesn’t seem more pleasant than my diarrhea.

I haven’t been reading. It’s just not the year for it. I read a few books before we left home but I have only finished two Ramona books on the trip. Otherwise I’m reading the internet and that’s it. I just don’t have the attention span for more right now. It’s hard. I hate it when my brain is full like this. But, on the good side: I’ve watched several good shows on Netflix on this trip. Strange Empire, Call the Midwife, Grace and Frankie. They have more or less replaced West Wing as I’m traveling.

Good thing: my libido has returned. I miss Noah. I’m going to kill my Hitachi before I get home.

To build on that last one, I’ve occasionally looked at Craigslist Casual Encounters on this trip. That’s something I do for shits and giggles. It’s not like I can follow up. I have my kids. But it’s fun to look. You know what? I’m so grateful I am not still hunting.


Kids are wonderful and tiring

I want to write but my thoughts are scattered and my arms burn like fire. This hotel room table is at a bad height for me ergonomically and I never let that slow me down. I’m kinda dumb.

I’m over reacting to a lot of things. I’m having trouble not screaming over little, stupid things. It doesn’t help that the kids truly are being irritating. What is happening is: I’m pushing them away because I need space and time to calm down in my body. When I push them away they feel freaked out, rejected, and needy so they cling harder and whine the whole fucking time they are grabbing at me in ways that hurt and piss me off.

Next week the kids have scheduled child care. They asked. I feel a little guilty because Eldest Child flat said, “Mom can we arrange a bunch of childcare next week? I know it will be expensive but I’m pretty sure it will be good for all of us.”

Holy crap. How did I get a child this wonderful? This insightful? This aware?!?!?

My shrink regularly tells me that Eldest Child is preternaturally aware of how people work. “7 year olds just don’t care that much about other people. She’s unusual.”

This because my kid can graphically go through verbally describing why people get upset and which contributing factors are likely to bother which person. “It makes sense that you are angry mom. It is very frustrating when I do _____.”

I don’t know if it is weird. This is all I know. My kid behaves this way because I model it. I don’t really know another way to parent.

My kid understands that in some situations she messed up, sometimes I’m the one who messed up, sometimes Youngest Child messes up… the kid is just good at saying, “Ahhh I think this mistake happened because x person was tired and we haven’t eaten. Let’s fix that.”

I worry about teaching her to take too much responsibility for other peoples stuff, but at the same time she’s quick to not take responsibility when she wasn’t involved so… I don’t know. Maybe it will all work out? Who knows. But she is an amazing person. I am so grateful I get to stand near her.

My Eldest Child is so breathtakingly willing to accept consequences for screwing up that I can’t possibly avoid them for myself when I screw up. When I am inappropriate with the kids we discuss making amends. “What do you think I should do to help make up for this mistake?” Because I talk to them the same way about their behavior. No one is above making amends.

If you screw up you must take responsibility and find a way to solve the problem as best you can. Some problems can’t be fixed and you just have to live with the guilt of knowing you hurt someone/broke something. But you can learn how to not make that mistake again.

Everyone makes mistakes. The best people make mistakes every day and learn from them and make new mistakes tomorrow.

You can’t get through life without mistakes. You will never learn all you need to know. Mistakes teach you about fringe cases and important details. Mistakes teach you about how your awareness needs to spread to more areas.

Mistakes are as mandatory as breathing. You can’t grow without breathing and you can’t grow without making mistakes.

It’s ok. We all mess up. Sometimes the mistakes kinda suck and someone gets mad and maybe there’s screaming or a fight or grounding. But then you pick yourself and you keep going. Because that is what life is.

I check in with the kids after I scream at them. “I was a jerk and I was too loud… but I didn’t go over the line and start insulting you or calling you names, right? Was I in bounds that way?”

Once Eldest Child said, “Actually you slipped and called us brats. Don’t do that again.”

Yes ma’am.

I haven’t done it since.

And my children have never had the experiences I had at their ages. They have never been told that they are stupid, worthless, unworthy, a bitch, a cunt, a whore or that they are too pathetic to deserve life.

I have to tell myself that an occasional errant “brat” isn’t the end of the world. Especially when my children have the self confidence to turn around and tell me that saying “brat” is over the line and I need to knock it off right now.

This trip is causing me to see both of my children in a bunch of different settings so I’m feeling increasingly certain that Eldest Child needs to be evaluated by someone other than me. She has a lot of sensory issues and avoidance behaviors that she is developing to cope. I don’t want her to get locked into avoidance as the only way to cope with sensory overload. I did that with food as a kid and it is part of why I have so many health issues.

I’m really grateful that for all that she is hypersensitive to a lot of things… she doesn’t have the food texture issues I had. Thank goodness.

I’m watching her struggle with the same things I struggled with as a child. The things that made me feel helpless, incompetent, and like I was a failure as a human being. I have enough education and awareness at this point that I recognize that these patterns mean there is something not wired correctly. Help is available in the world. We just have to figure out what kind of help is needed and access it.

She struggles at the same things that used to cause my brothers to laugh at me and tell me if I “couldn’t even throw a ball I was too pathetic to deserve to live.” I’m not really sure why sports are so fucking important.

She doesn’t need to have the years of self-hatred I had. We can find help.

I feel sad and happy at the same time. I know enough that my kids won’t have to suffer like I did. But there is this part of me that can’t stop grieving over the fact that no one gave a shit about me for decades.

I know it isn’t true now. I know that I am loved and cared for now. I know that if I am in need of help now I can find it and/or pay for whatever I need.

But I still hurt. I feel like a pathetic, self-pitying bastard. It doesn’t feel like it is ok for me to keep mourning all these layers of shit from my childhood. But I hurt so much.

I’ve barely cried in months because I don’t like doing it around the kids and I don’t have privacy. I’m sure that is contributing to how backed up I feel emotionally. I don’t have a lot of release available to me when I’m alone with the kids. I really and truly need private space for the ongoing processing of trauma.

I have really big feelings about that. I’m feeling a lot of shame and guilt that I’m sitting here crying and whining like a dog because I can’t stop because I haven’t cried in a while.

The kids and I have been watching a new show, “Call the Midwife”. It’s borderline inappropriate for the kids because it deals with some really harsh truths about life in poverty. But I’m not one to shelter my kids from the fact that other people suffer terribly. They don’t deserve to go through life not knowing that other people have it shitty. No one deserves that, in my opinion, and I kind of hate the parents who bring their children up in a bubble such that the kids can’t understand suffering of other people.


Last night the episode talked about the “Workhouse Howl”. The keening, crying screaming noise that only happens when people suffer horribly for years with absolutely no chance of ever stopping that suffering.

I felt kind of freaked out because when the character started the cry… I knew that I make that sound. My kids kinda looked at me when the crying was explained. Yes, I make that sound sometimes.

It isn’t true that I have no chance to stop the suffering any more. But once your body starts crying like that… stopping it isn’t a voluntary thing. It just happens. Once you have been in that much pain for that long… you can’t always keep it in for the convenience and happiness of everyone around you.

Suffering and pain are really complicated and layered. I would like to believe that some day I will get to the point where I no longer hysterically scream/cry sometimes without volition because I have so many pent up emotions I can’t suppress the noise.

Being rich doesn’t fix these problems. Being rich means you can slowly begin to get help, but getting help is a confusing, horrible process. Even though I can pay for help, I have to know where to go for help, who to ask for help, and what kind of help I need to ask for.

That’s hard.

I have to find the solutions and then find people to help me implement the solutions. It’s hard. I understand why people who are struggling with poverty just can’t.

Trauma impacts you forever. I’m kind of tired of people acting like trauma isn’t a big deal and you should just “get over it”. You know what, motherfucker? I am getting over it. I am making progress. It’s still a nightmare. It’s been a nightmare to be in my body for decades. It is slowly improving but I have trouble believing that being inside my body is ever going to be a pleasant experience.

I wish I could stop crying.

Empathy is a mixed bag.

I’m having a special snowflake problem. One of the reasons my marriage with Noah works as well as it does is because I am overly sensitive to emotional nuance and he is… less sensitive than might be perhaps preferable. Which means I don’t set him off and he can just be kind of consistent as a reference for me. This is convenient for both of us. But I can tell him when someone in his life is looking for emotional response.

“Dude. So and so doesn’t come and say such and such without wanting some kind of response. You don’t know what kind of response so you have to ask, ‘Oh no. Would you like x or y?'”

Mostly I do this with the kids of course. I don’t micromanage every relationship he has. Ahem.

Disney World is incredibly hard because when people around me are having big feelings, my body surges with them. The World is pretty much all about big feelings.

This is exhausting. It’s pretty awesome, but it’s exhausting. Every kid who is shrieking sends my blood pressure skyrocketing.

Luckily I have naturally very low blood pressure and I know how to get it back under control relatively quickly… but I still have the reaction and I have to deal with it. Every kid who is crying causes an emotional surge.

I’m kind of tired of my body bouncing up and down because of everyone else’s emotions. It’s starting to physically hurt.

I’m not so good with “boundaries” in some big, dramatic, noticeable to me ways. If my friend is in a troubled relationship I fret and worry and spend almost as much time flipping out as if it were my troubled relationship and that’s inappropriate.

I feel connected to people. Their sorrows, their frustrations, their difficulties impact me.

Yesterday we had a server at breakfast who messed up everything about our order. Everything had to be sent back and redone. To the extant that I said, “May I have milk to go in my tea” and she brought me an additional pot of tea, with no milk.

Goodness woman. Are you listening at all?

But she looked really sad. She looked like she was having a rough time and having a hard time keeping her mind on her work.

I tipped 80% because we didn’t order much and that was about how much I would have left if we had ordered 3-4 breakfasts like a “usual” table for her.

My experience of working service jobs was that someone forgiving you for mistakes can turn a day around. It inspires you to keep trying.

I notice people feeling bad and I just… can’t ignore it. Even when it is to my detriment. Even when I cause myself problems because I’m not keeping my mind on my business and instead my mind is on everyone’s business but mine.

I think I’m getting better about this but this may be a lifelong struggle for me.

I kinda wish I didn’t love all you motherfuckers. My life would be easier.

Abuse & therapy

I was asked for a little advice. A friend is getting to the point where (s)he believes that (s)he can no longer be in denial about being in an abusive relationship.

I’m going to use very gender ambiguous language here. As ambiguous as possible because this is not a gendered issue. Abuse can happen to anyone regardless of their age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.

Abuse can happen to anyone and it is not your fault. You cannot control the behavior of other people. If other people decide to abuse you… you have control over how you react. You do not have control over their behavior.

This is a website that goes through some things to think about with regards to abuse. What things count as abuse. I am intensely bothered by this attitude we have in America that abuse is always (or even mostly) perpetrated by men upon women.

I think we can only say “mostly” if we ignore a lot of more subtle forms of abuse. Yes, men tend to be more physically violent than women or non-binary people. I think that is a result of enculturation as much or more than biology.

Men are abused. Non-binary people are abused. We need to get rid of the narrative that only women are abused.

If you think you might be in an abusive relationship you need to start thinking about some aspects of your life differently. You can no longer consider your partner before yourself. If you are being abused you must act to protect yourself. What does that mean?

Well, I think most people who are being abused would be best served by getting into therapy with a skilled and educated provider because such a person can help you access resources in your area I can’t know about because I’m some chick on the internet who doesn’t live near you.

But I’m 30+ years into my therapy career and I’ve seen 21 therapists and I’m well aware that skilled and educated providers are thin on the ground.

Be ok with firing a therapist if they turn out to not be skilled or educated in the kinds of stuff you need help with. Therapists are service providers and if a service provider doesn’t have the skills you need… move on. You wouldn’t hire someone to dye your hair if the only skill they have is doing a buzz cut.

It’s not about being mean to the therapist. You don’t owe a therapist anything other than appropriate compensation for the time you spend with them. Beyond that you don’t owe them anything. Move on if a given provider isn’t fitting. Therapy is about helping you develop the skills you want to have and you don’t currently have. Their feelings are irrelevant.

I mean, they are people and they matter… but don’t keep seeing  a therapist because you feel bad about breaking up with them. They really should have at least enough training to encourage you to move on to someone who is a better fit. If they are clingy… run fast. Consider reporting them to the state board.

Ok, how do you interview therapists to see if they are right for you? There are a bunch of factors to consider.

  1. Are you looking for help working through a short-term crises or are you looking for a long-term therapy relationship? It is best if you can screen for suitability for your needs early on. If you don’t go in with expectations set it can really be hard. Most people who are not mentally ill can have 3-6 months of supportive sessions to get through a crises and then move on without therapy. Not everyone is a lifer. I am, and if you are then you need to learn how to look for that. At this point I tell new potential therapists, “I’m looking for a long-ish term commitment from therapy. I need an intense relationship with a lot of transference because I’m trying to heal wounds from neglectful parenting. I need a relationship with someone who can be supportive and enthusiastic about me being genuinely a non-standard person. I need a parental substitute who can help guide me without trying to control me.”
  2. Do you know much about different therapy types? It might be most effective if you do a little bit of research before you go in. CBT, DBT, psychoanalysis, Gestalt therapy, Existential therapy… there are as many different models of therapy as there are people who need help, just about. Google these terms. I don’t want to put just random links up next to the terms and there is a lot of conflicting information out there. You have to be educated because most therapists aren’t capable of telling you, “I know x but you probably need y.” You have to learn what the options are and you have to proactively say, “I think I need help with changing my behavior. I believe a dialectical behavior therapy approach would work best for me.” Then go shopping for people who have specialties that match up with your best guesses. Your best guesses are all you have at first. (Personally I now say, “I need Harm Reduction therapists. Period. I don’t work with abstinence only people.”)
  3. Be ok with making mistakes. Life is about screwing up and then learning to do better. You’ll screw up as you try to figure out how to stop being abused. It is really hard.
  4. Document as much as you can force yourself to. If you are married and especially if there are children involved things may get to court. If you go to court you want to have documentation of when you have what kinds of arguments. Write down as much as possible about what you are saying and about what your partner is saying. Date everything you write down. If you are dealing with a bad co-parenting situation, write down every time your partner demonstrates neglect towards your children because it could be vitally important in court for protecting your kids. It’s time to stop thinking about what you want instead you must think about what is best for your children. If you have no children… well, documenting will save you headaches in court. If you aren’t married and things are bad enough for documentation… maybe just run. Rebuilding may not be harder than what you are doing.
  5. If you decide to pursue therapy as a short term process, go in with as much supporting documentation as you can so your therapist can jump in full speed with you. Write up documents. Write up a cast list for your life. Write up diagrams explaining how people are connected. Mention major traumas that may be applicable. Talk about how your work/school/friendships are being impacted by this problem. You need to explain to this professional how much of your life is being impacted. They can’t know unless you tell them. If you write this stuff down as a document they can read it outside of session and you probably won’t be charged for the time. My current shrink read my whole auto-biography when we started working together. Now that’s professional dedication.
  6. Be aware. Joint counseling is NOT RECOMMENDED in abusive relationships. Couples counseling often just adds fuel to the fire. Get yourself in order.
  7. If you are being abused the best advice I can give you is don’t try to change your abuser in any way. That’s a waste of your energy and time and you need to throw as much energy and time as you have at yourself. You need to prioritize you. You matter.
  8. If it is bad enough, you can call your domestic violence shelter in your area and ask for help finding resources.
  9. Calling the police is a very mixed experience. I can’t say if you should or shouldn’t. It depends on how bad the abuse is.
  10. Be aware that the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when you leave. That is when the most folks are killed. Be careful. Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker and learn how to listen to your gut. You can’t move on in life if you are dead. Take threats seriously, but don’t get paranoid. Learn how to evaluate threats.
  11. Reach out for help. Tell your friends. Don’t get isolated. You’re going to need help. It’s ok to need help. Helping you is part of the glue that holds social communities together. Helping people in a time of need is bonding. It’s ok to ask for help. You are still a grown ass woman or a grown ass man or a grown ass person not on the binary. You are not diminished by needing help. You are humanized.

I love you. You need to love you too.

To clarify a point

Pam asked me to clear up a point. In my previous post I mentioned Blacksheep and I mentioned having trouble with a friend not respecting a soft no.

These are two separate people. I’m not being more specific about the soft no problem because I’m having very large feelings and I could be Miss Ranty Pants but I’d prefer to preserve the friendship and figure out a way to manage my expectations and needs that doesn’t torpedo the relationship. So I’m being a bit vague.

Ms Blacksheep is a good Jewish mother. If you hint that something is a no she immediately is there noticing with the, “Oh this doesn’t work for you? Should I try ____ or ______ or ______ or if you don’t want any of those options I’ve got ______ in the freezer.”

No, my big feelings about Blacksheep just come up for me a lot because I can tell I am triggered beyond what is proportional to what is happening in the relationship. I’m really afraid of fucking this one up. Hysterically afraid of fucking it up. So afraid of fucking it up that when I’m with her I’m triggered and ranty and more likely to fuck it up. Because I’m awesome.

I do that with some relationships and not with others and it isn’t clear to me when or why it is different.

I’m trying to figure out why though. Maybe I can do something about it.

Does that help, Pam? I love you. Thank you for asking me questions.

Day off- watched Mississippi Damned

The kids and I took yesterday afternoon off. We got back to the room around 2 and we stayed in from then on. Now it is noon and the kids don’t have any interest in getting dressed.

So after a light breakfast of Lucky Charms I made myself a huge lunch. I had orange juice, two cups of tea, a ham and cheese sandwich, an apple, and carrots with hummus.

I am stuffed and I haven’t drank all my orange juice yet.

And just now my meds hit.

Hallelujah. Today is awesome.

I actually think I might try to talk them into getting dressed around 4 or 5 and heading into Magic Kingdom for the parades and fireworks. That’s going to be our best shot at seeing them.

So of course, being me… I’m watching Mississippi Damned which is about a dysfunctional family. I hear there will be intense incest and beatings later in the movie. (I’m going to spoiler the fuck out of this movie as I watch it. Just so you know.)

I’m in my feels.

It’s not much like my family or my story. But it is based on a real story and I’ve read a lot of responses from women who say this is like their stories.

This is intense. Like, whoa.

This… you know what? I feel like my mama did me a mountain of favors from the simple fact that she stopped dating.

I’m really glad I only had to deal with one crazy abusive father and one demanding controlling step-father and one inappropriately sexual boyfriend. That’s a short list compared to many women.

She had other relationships in her lifetime, but they predate my memory. Like the father of my sister, who denied that he had ever had sex with her.

My mama did find it in her to go it alone. In some ways… I think that was the biggest gift she gave me. She taught me how to be ok alone. I mean, she’s not ok and she’s not really completely alone. But she doesn’t need Romantic Relationships.

Many women my age believe they aren’t safe unless they have a man. My mama taught me that having a man around is never fully safe.

I feel deeply conflicted about what it is that I’m teaching my children.

I’m going to keep doing it. I’m in it. I’m in it till the end. I’m committed. But I don’t know I’m right. You never know until it is over and it is too late to do anything different.

But as I watch a screaming fight over interrupted sex between folks who are married to other folks and a miscarriage and…

You know what? My mama ran from trouble. She taught me that the safest way to deal with most problems is to run.

I don’t know if she is still running. I know I am. But right now I’m sitting on a porch in sunny Florida at Walt Disney World.

Running has worked out okay for me so far.

This movie is about people who can’t run from their problems. They are deeply invested in their local community. They have roots.

I wonder what that would be like.

What would it be like to believe that leaving everything you know means “moving to a fairytale world”.

No, that’s just life. You move. You start over. You meet new people.

You don’t stay in a small town if you are a dyke with a big mouth. You move on. I didn’t have problems for being queer. No one ever gave a shit about that part of my identity. They were too overall baffled by my presentation to figure out what the hell to object to.

(The dyke in the movie just got in a fist fight.)

And she goes home to get hit more.

I left home when I was 18. I didn’t get out because I was smart or because I was more deserving. I got out because I had the resources to do it.

I believe every one deserves a basic income. I really do. People stay in the most horrifying traumatic situations because they don’t have better options. Money is a disgusting tool.

“If anyone is to blame it is you” said to the woman who interrupted the sex that shouldn’t have been happening. Because the problem is the person pointing out the problem, not the problem.

Yeah. I know that dynamic.

Oh god. Murder. Well, that’s one way to deal with cheating. But why did you shoot the woman who was being cheated with instead of the damn man?

You know what? Fuck the sisterhood.

Shoot the man. Don’t defend the sisterhood of “don’t sleep with my man”. No. Fuck that noise. He’s the problem. She is not someone you have the right to demand such loyalty of that the punishment for disloyalty is death.

No. No. No.

I have not signed such an oath.

You know what? I’ve fucked married men. I’ve fucked cheaters. I don’t owe the sisterhood nothing.

Does that make me a bad person? Add it to the list. Whatever.

Oh golly I respect this man. His daughter flat out asked, “Are you a good father?” He said, “Sometimes. Sometimes not.”

Thank you for that self reflection. I appreciate it even though it isn’t for or about me.

“Some daddies aren’t good at being fathers.”

Yeah. That’s the truth.

I’m having feels about Noah. But I’m not going to write about them. I want to forget them.

Oh no. Here is where the incest stuff comes up. This boy was already victimized. He knows how things work. Now he’s the initiator because he thinks it is how it is supposed to work.


“Get me a beer.”

Words I’m glad I didn’t have to hear much.

“2nd Notice of Eviction” oh I’ve seen that on my door a lot.

“At least I didn’t let some high school crush be the highlight of my life.” Oh that’s something I was afraid of.  I’m pretty sure I’m safely past that accusation.

This fight right here, between the destitute convict and her mother about money and childhood abuse… that’s part of why I never asked my mama for nothing.

“You gotta watch your back in places like that…. As long as you’re next to family you got heart.”

Oh. My. God. From a family with a lot of trauma and incest and abuse. You know what?! Strangers in the big city are not a bigger risk than your family.

Why do I say that? Because being raped by my “friends” was less traumatic than fucking my actual biological father was. (Friends is in square quotes because at this point I no longer perceive that people who would do that were ever actually my friends. They were guys I knew.)

Hell yeah. Grandmama just brought out a shot gun on the man who was throttling her daughter. ROCK ON!

You know what? I’m not that violent of a person. I try hard to find a way to find solutions without violence. But if you are being attacked I think you have every right to a full throttle defense, from yourself or from a nearby person. And besides the bitch didn’t defend her daughters from her own husband. I’m glad she will at least defend them from their husbands.

Yeah, I do believe in bystander intervention sometimes. I know it isn’t popular. I know that it is frowned upon in some circles. I know why. It is dangerous.

Life is dangerous.

It’s not about being a hero and you can’t think about it that way. That isn’t the point. It isn’t about “being a rescuer”.

It’s about paying attention to the people around you and giving a shit about what happens to them.

But people are so complicated. This movie is reminding me how very complicated people are. We are all so hurt.

“You’ve always gotta make it about you, right?”

Well, we are the main character in our own story, right?

But not everything that happens near me is about me. Sometimes it is, but mostly… I’m not the center of everything. I’m just some chick.

It is complicated how some people are in a position to care more about your intentions and some people are in a position to care about the results of your actions and fuck your intentions you son of a bitch.

Now a woman is fighting cancer. Watching how her family copes with it…

That’s why other people believe they need family. They believe they cannot get such support any other way. But I showed up in the queer community at 18. I watched tight, fierce, chosen families.

I’m an asshole about them. But I know they exist. You just have to show up for them. If I wanted to keep showing up in those communities things would have been different.

I ran away. I went home. I built Wonderland and I had babies and I stopped seeing a lot of the people who were my “chosen family”. A few of the people from back then still come around. Not many.

The number drops by the year.

My loyalty to the people who have made the transition into parent-age with me is decidedly impacted.

And more cheating. More screwing underage inappropriate women. Yeah this movie is a humdinger. I believe this is based on a true story. I know men like these.

I am so grateful I am not prey any more.

I am even more grateful my daughters never will be. It won’t happen.

But doesn’t every mother want to believe that? Even when it is right under their noses and they can’t possibly not see.

I try to tell myself that my children are too blurty. Too prone to share all their business with everyone who walks by. Including every factoid I’ve ever taught them about anatomy or bodily autonomy or bodily integrity or…

I try to tell myself that even though I can’t save everyone… I can keep them safe. Yes, I know I’m throwing everyone else under the bus. I’m sorry.

I didn’t throw them there. I just didn’t roll under with them.

But isn’t that how white feminists justify most of what they do?

What we do.

I’ve got skin in this game and make no mistake.

Oh no. Now we get to the college acceptance letter that decides if the next generation of abuse victims is getting out or staying home to just pass it right along.

She did it. She got in.

In time for her most supportive aunt to die from poverty and diabetes.

Yeah. Life is a real shithole.

The aunt didn’t wait until she actually ran out of insulin. She stopped taking it because she didn’t want the end to be slow and by drips. She had no more money for food anyway.

Yeah. Life is like that.

The last thing she did with her life was tell the girl to “get out. Get away. Go be what we couldn’t.”

Perspective is a nasty son of a bitch. I begged my niece to get out. She wouldn’t.

Ok. I can’t go under the bus with you. I can’t.

I won’t make that choice for my children.

Oh god. The most supportive aunt did have some money left. She left it all to the niece in a lump sum for college.

Yeah. That’s how you get out. You have some support appear.

And the lesbian is in the psych ward. Because she can’t move on from her one high school crush.

Life sucks so fucking much.

Do you know what watching these kinds of movies makes me want to do? Log on to my bank account and transfer more money into long-term investments.

I do not want to end this way. They are killing themselves left and right.

I do not want to end this way. I want something different. And that takes money.

Just like my father in the movie the serial predator kills himself instead of taking his punishment and giving that respect to his victims. Fuck you. Yeah, I know bad shit happened to you too. I know.

Take your fucking punishment you son of a bitch. You earned it.

God damn bastard.

I believe people need to be held accountable for their behavior. So I write mine down as it happens so that I can’t rewrite history. Yeah. I fuck up.

Everyone does. Some of us do it big. Some of us do it over and over. Very very few of us tell the truth about it.

I need truth. Even though truth is sometimes not the same thing as fact. Something can be distorted and still be a truth. Because in every truth there is room for many interpretations. It doesn’t mean it is a fact.

How am I defining these.

It can be true that I need to defend myself even if people don’t feel like they are attacking me. I have more than once needed to physically force people off my body on dance floors because they landed on me and didn’t notice that they were crushing a person and, “Hey why are you so mad?”

I wasn’t assaulted. That’s a fact. There was no intent to harm. It is still true that I had to defend myself. Because they were hurting me and I had to make it stop.

There can be more than one truth. Near as I can tell there is no end to the amount of hurt that can be passed around. I think that means there is room for a lot of different truth.

As I sit here in my posh Walt Disney World condo I reflect on how I don’t deserve to be here.

There is no deserve. Jenny, you asked why I conflate people saying I deserve things now with meaning that I deserved things that happened a long time ago. I love you very much and I take the question very seriously and I may bring it up for years as I try to explain it. I hope it doesn’t get annoying. Tell me to get over it if you need to. I love you.

Saying it is a trigger is short hand. Most people who deal with mental illness can tell you that something is a trigger and that’s about as much as they can follow that path. “I have BIG FEELINGS.”

Well, I’m not like that. I was told that I would know when I was in real labor when I was no longer able to speak. Bitch I was articulately yelling instructions while I was pushing. I was popular for bdsm demonstrations because you can beat the shit out of me and in between screams I can drop down into normal speech and clearly articulate what hurts and where and what is positive and negative about various sensations for what reasons.

I’m special.

I can talk when I’m hurting.

I learned. I taught myself. I worked on it because I was told and told and told to be quiet and I noticed that I only got help when I could tell enough of the story fast enough to get peoples attention. I have to be good at an elevator pitch.

And that skill plus running away has provided the most safety I’ve found.

Let me tell you, things work so well with Noah largely because we are both talkers. Speaking of which, I should go call him. Big feelings.

I want to write more about triggers. But I also want to rest my arms.

A writer I admire had a good post: http://www.raisingmyboychick.com/2015/09/on_dependence/

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about home schooling our children, a topic that comes up a lot at this stage of our lives. We were talking about how to help kids develop these specific physical skills and we were brainstorming approaches.

I remember, when I was a little girl, I used to go to my mother and cry and say, “But I’m not good at doing anything but reading. I’m so useless.”

My mama would tell me, “You aren’t useless. Maybe you don’t know for sure what you are good at yet but give yourself a few years. You aren’t dead yet.”

That’s an intensely positive memory of my mother and I’m grateful I have it.

At some point in the past few years I recognized my talent: I can teach. On one hand it doesn’t seem like a big deal. On the other hand… I’ve been teaching for a while and I recognize how few people really have it as a talent.

I’m not trying to brag. I’m trying to be self aware.

I am incredibly good at seeing that someone has trouble doing ______ and helping them figure out how to do it. Not doing it for them but helping them brainstorm how to do the task. I’m good at showing people ways their bodies can move to accomplish things they didn’t know they could do. I coach people well.

I can do it with physical skills–even skills I’m not that great at. I can look at what a person is doing now, ask some questions about where they want to be, and help them bridge the gap. “Oh, you don’t see that you have to also move this finger over here like that in order to get it. Yup you nailed it!”

I am good at seeing the potential people have. That’s a real skill and not one everyone has.

Sometimes I don’t even realize how many skills I possess and how much stuff I know until I realize that someone else doesn’t know it yet and I can teach it. I am an accomplished, experienced person. I’m not a single subject expert at much of anything–my standards for “expert” are too high. But I’m acceptably good at a ridiculous range of skills.

Thank you, mama. You told me I’d figure something out and you were right. Thank you.

I am not always the best person to execute a plan of improvement. Sometimes I have to delegate to someone who has more steadiness for long-term execution.

A few weeks ago someone online said there are three kinds of leaders: visionaries, sustainers, and builders.

That really touched my heart. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

I’m not a sustainer and it breaks my heart. I want to be. I wish I was. I’m not. My Auntie was a sustainer and I have admired her and loved her my whole life, I can’t be like her.

I’m somewhere between a visionary and a builder. I’m not someone who feels strongly motivated to put a lot of physical energy into building things for other people. I’m a selfish bastard. I’ll build in my house and in my yard.

Which leaves me with visionary. I’d better start writing more.

I have some ideas for books. That’s pretty exciting for me. I should start making notes. I’m actually fleshing out a solid outline for a speculative fiction book in my head.

That’s kind of a departure from my normal…

I have no desire to work for policy change. I know that is the route to real difference in the future but I don’t have it to give. I get so agitated and angry and upset. I can’t sit in the room and be calm like that. But maybe I could give the people who do have such energy a few ideas? It’s worth trying anyway.

Never doubt that you can influence people. All you have to do is talk and talk and talk and then act in front of them. For better or worse you will influence them.

Seeing Frida Kahlo’s work in Washington DC motivated me in a profound way. I’ve had men flat tell me that women don’t do anything worth paying attention to.

Maybe for you. I disagree. Many women have done things I want to pay attention to. Let me cut you off instead.

I honestly believe that at this stage my primary duty as a home schooling parent is to teach my children self regulation. That means teaching them to be aware of their bodies and their emotions and figuring out how to manage them. It is hard. I learned most of these skills as an adult, I didn’t know how to regulate myself when I was a child and that fact complicated my whole life.

My children will never have such difficulties. They will be privileged to always have an awareness of themselves.

It can be taught from childhood, this privilege. I recognize it in healthy families and I try to emulate it. I see parents I respect talking to their kids about, “Well sweetie lets talk about what you ate today and lets see if we can figure out why your belly hurts.”

Don’t block them from having experiences. Stand there with them and help them interpret the experiences. Yes, that’s what we’re doing here!

If you do something for your child to make it “easier” for them you aren’t actually helping them. You are handicapping them. All children need to have the experience of struggling through difficulty towards mastery. This is how they learn to walk. This is how they learn to speak Hindi. This is how they learn to throw a ball. If someone helps you by doing it for you… you can’t learn.

Watching your children struggle isn’t always fun, but I’m finding it very validating and rewarding.

Oh. That’s why things were so hard for me as a kid. Because I was a kid. Oh. Ha.

People are just people.

One thing that struck me on my last chat with my therapist. She said, “It isn’t surprising to me that you do so well with other disabled people. They have had to learn how to set boundaries and they are comfortable with you having boundaries.”

Yes. Oh yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES. That.

I like doing a lot of reflecting on my behavior and the people around me. I’m trying to slowly, over time, change my behavior and that means paying attention to how things are going. I can’t lie to myself or I can’t get better.

On this trip I have stayed in the homes of twelve friends. Of them, the only ones I had problems with… were the people who have no specific listed disability. Sometimes those problems are MINE and just consist of me crying and feeling anxious as I deal with someone. I have a hard time with Blacksheep sometimes because I am completely paranoid that somehow I am going to offend the fuck out of her and she will go postal and hate my guts forever. So I feel a lot of anxiety around her but we had no negative interactions. We talked about how we are trying to replace the negative inside voice I hear for her with a more positive voice because really she’s not a negative person. But I’m scared shitless that I’m going to fuck this one up so I don’t calm down very well and it’s hard.

Ok, Blacksheep is the one with no diagnosed disability that I’m aware of that I had small problems with that were clearly all in my deluded little head. I see that.

The other folks I had a hard time with… I don’t think it is just me in the same way that it clearly is all me with Blacksheep. These other people engaged in behavior that… was problematic or triggering and it isn’t just me who would have a hard time.

I can name thousands of women who would go off like a roman candle if you told them that women stay in domestic violence situations because they are “poisoned by their estrogen” so I don’t think it is ALL ME having the problems.

I’m trying to figure out how much I’m being ridiculous and how much I’m having a predictable and acceptable range of reactions to a variety of stimuli. No one gets along in 100% of situations.

I do very well in poor households and rather badly in wealthy households. In poor households they appreciate that I show up and do not dump work on them. They appreciate that I try to be a help and not a burden. I show up in rich houses and they actually rebuke me because I am not… I don’t know… demanding enough? I got told it is offensive to offer to do dishes after someone cooks for me.

Well, maybe to you.

A year or more ago I talked to some friends at home about “guest” behavior and we had an interesting discussion. They noted out loud that other people don’t put as much effort into hosting as they do and that is something they were trying to decide how they felt about. I put it into context to them. They host approximately 1-3 people every other month. That’s it. Rarely do they have a month where they host 5 people in a month. In contrast, we regularly have 10-30 people over a week.

I can’t put the same effort into people that they do. I can’t. It literally isn’t physically possible.

Everything is relative.

This was floating through my head because my shrink asked me why I think I handle people who are disabled so well because normally it is hard for folks to adjust.

(This was asked after I relayed the series of “rules” a friend has. She has OCD. I don’t say OCD when I’m being cute and trying to say someone is a neat freak. OCD is a debilitating condition that severely interrupts lives. OCD is not a joke and it isn’t funny. It can be really sad and hard. I’ve had many friends who literally couldn’t leave their house for extended periods because they couldn’t stop turning the light switch on and off. That’s not a game. That’s super hard.)

So anyway my shrink initially laughed when I said my friend had OCD and I said, “Don’t laugh. I ain’t playing.” She asked for clarification. I started to explain the layers of rules around “This cloth is for this kind of mess on this surface and that kind of cloth is for that kind of mess on this surface and…..” There were at least seven types of cloth I was introduced to for a less than 48 hour visit. They all have very specific uses and purposes and cross-using is NOT OK.

My response to this was, “Excellent! You have a system! Please explain it to me so I can be correct in your system.”

My friend was very happy to have me over.

My shrink says, “That right there. That is what you do. You act like people are ok how they are. Do you know how rare that experience is in the lives of people with severe mental illness?”

Well, I don’t think the piles of cloth are harder to learn than the computer shit my friends babble at me and I have to develop enough of a lexicon to deal with them. Why isn’t OCD worth just as much effort?

Why shouldn’t I care about my friends OCD the same way I care about my other friends having musical or color or texture or food preferences? People are people. They take work to learn and that’s ok.

We are all different. Thank you for being different from me. You teach me about you and about me.

I just had a thought but it feels really judgmental.

I do well with people who don’t act like they are “all right” and I’m broken. I do well with people who think they are kinda fucked up and I’m kinda fucked up and together we can find a way.

The problem with Blacksheep is that she presents an aura of “I’m alright” but when you talk to her in detail you find out that she knows reality. She isn’t full of shit. (That’s why I keep her and keep fighting through this fucking anxiety. Some day I won’t feel intimidated I’ll just feel ok.)

I’m not even mad at the folks I had actual confrontations with. I’m trying to figure out how I want to manage things differently in the future, or even if I do.

I think I handled the dude who told me DV is from estrogen poisoning well. I argued until he shut up on that topic. When I hit done I left his house. I never called him a name and I didn’t start screaming profanity. That was handled as well as I’m going to handle such things. *pat self on back*

I want to get better with Blacksheep. I want to get better about the friend who told me over and over how scary I was while also not being willing to hear a soft “no”.

I think that the next time some dude calls me stupid I won’t wait 24 hours to process I’ll just stop mid-stride and say, “Well this won’t work out. Bye!”

But I think leaving in 24 hours and not starting a fight was still good. I’m proud of me.

So I’m not where I want to be. I want to have better sensors on what is “safe” and what is “unsafe” and I want to have more security in myself that my instant reactions are “ok”.

Which means I need to stop feeling so anxious about Blacksheep. That’s not the right reaction.

I’m working on it. My anxiety goes up and down over the years and I keep coming back.

I will get where I want to be.

I think that part of the reason my Lizard brain freaks out about Blacksheep is the same reason I worry about DSH and J and T and and.

They are independent, strong, fierce women and I admire them so much that I’m afraid they are going to find out “the truth” about me and they will hate me/shun me. I don’t conform to being like them and that screams danger to my Lizard brain.

I’m not saying these laudable women want me to conform to being like them. I think they like me how I am. This is my Lizard brain, which ain’t exactly known for being “rational”.

Men are different. I don’t feel like I need to conform to their behavior in the same way. I just… don’t. I believe I should emulate the wonderful women I know because they are all better than me anyway.

What do I mean by “better”?

I don’t even fucking know. I could go down the list of these people and say, “Are they better at handling money? Sex? Relationships? Mothering? Jobs? Reading? Writing? ETC” and come up with a whole spectrum of answers some being worlds better than me, some being on par with me and in some areas… I do excel. I am good at some things in ways that others aren’t.

I can read faster than almost anyone I’ve ever met. Whoopdie fucking do.

Clearly I don’t think my “worth” or their “worth” is based on these factors. But I still feel this shaking sickness in my belly because I’m wrong and they are right and I am going to be killed for not conforming.

Do I think Blacksheep wants me dead? Oh good grief no. No no no no. She likes me a lot and she has demonstrated that through words, actions, time spent, and money spent on stuff that wasn’t “for her”. That woman has absolutely proven her devotion over more than a decade. I still flip out around her. She is so strong and I don’t feel like I am.

Which is funny and stupid at the same time. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t think she is “stronger” than me across the board. Yes, she is intensely superior at sports she has trained at for decades. Physically she is stronger. Duh.

I’m not sure how that translates into personhood though. I’m not saying I think she is actually a weak person masquerading… I’m saying I need to deal with my fucking feels.

I want to change this reaction.

Blacksheep is kinda like Jenny for me. Not exactly the same, but similar in terms of how much energetic response I have from just thinking of their names. These are women I’ve decided are Important. And I don’t know what that means. I have a poorly defined understanding of what our future together will look like so I feel intense anxiety.

I don’t feel as anxious about some other people, like Sarah or Kira, I think because I have a neater and tidier imagining about the future. I’m not sure I will be right but I have more of a comfortable imagined future going on.

If I’m really honest I suspect that a small piece is I see what I have to offer Sarah and Kira. I really don’t see what Blacksheep or Jenny get out of knowing me. I don’t see how I support them the way they support me. I do see how I sometimes support Kira or Sarah. I see specific exchanges that happen. Some of them are purely emotional, but they are clear to me anyway. I see the back and forth.

I sometimes kinda feel like a vampire when I talk to Blacksheep or Jenny. I want all of their attention and energy. Give it to me me me me me me and I’m not sure I’m as good about paying attention to them. I try like fuck. I don’t know though.


I’d give just about anything for a day of feeling…. nothing. I’d like a vacation from feeling.

I’m so tired.

Guilt, guilt, I’m drowning in guilt.

Want to hear something stupid? I feel guilty when I don’t post much. I feel guilty when I’m not calling people on the phone. I feel guilty when I’m not writing 20+ postcards a week because people might believe the intensity of my devotion wavers.

Guilt. Guilt. GUILT.


What do I think I should be communicating about? I don’t even know. But I feel bad that I’m not juggling paying attention to more people. Just because I should. I should make sure all these people know that they matter to me.

I feel like I’m going insane.

I feel so much guilt that I’m not turning and paying attention to absent people even though I’m trying to pay attention to what is happening to me right now and that’s kind of important. I feel like I’m letting folks down and proving that I don’t deserve relationships. See, I’m not contacting them enough.

I’m honestly not sure how much “enough” would be.

I couldn’t be doing more than I’m doing. And I feel so bad. I’m an idiot.

I’m having fun at Disney World. We are catching up on sleep and relaxing. That’s nice. Tomorrow we plan to go to Hollywood Studios for a few hours and then we will rest for the remainder of the day.  The last few days have been pretty busy, but we’ve gone through most of the big rides in Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. We haven’t been to Epcot for much other than dinner and we haven’t set foot in Hollywood Studios. It’s been raining almost since we arrived so we haven’t gone to a water park yet.

We are in this room for ten more nights. Then seven nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge. I think we will see everything.

We’re heeeeeeeeeeere.

At Disney World that is. Yesterday was intense. It took more than eight hours to get from one hotel room to the next. It was about four and a half hours of freeway driving. I’m not counting the driving time where I got lost in forking Orlando. That took a while. Grocery shopping was sorta epic.

As we drove out to the resort I started shaking and my stomach hurt and I felt like I was about to puke. I kept up a steady chatter to myself, “Krissy it’ll be ok. This will go fine. This is Disney. You are late for check in… they will have people waiting around who are happy to help you. It’ll be fine.”

It was rather ridiculous but hey, do what you gotta do.

We got to the driveway and I started asking just about anybody in a uniform, “I’m new here, which step do I do first?”

They all smiled at me and directed me to where I needed to be.

They are all thrilled to get a Californian. These are the Disney Vacation Club properties, so they see owners and that is a fairly set group of time share people. Variety isn’t as common as you’d think for a hotel.

I had a lot of questions and I said flat out, “I’m going to feel anxious until I have a few concerns addressed.”

You know what? Like magic extra employees kind of backed over to where I was talking to the nice desk clerk. They all smiled like they were super excited that they might get to help.

fucking love this place.

You know what? They addressed every concern right down the list. I do have to unhitch my trailer, but that’s ok. It means we will be more likely to sneak off to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter exhibit and that’s exciting.

Oh, parking is right next to our room. This is so fabulously convenient I have no words. I thought it would be a hike. I feel so spoiled. After three months of continuous travel I now think that one of the biggest luxuries in hotels in nearby parking.

I had a very nice person help carry my stuff in from the van with a dolly so I didn’t have to make eleventy billion trips. He thought it was hilarious that I wouldn’t let him carry the heavy stuff up the stairs. It was his first day back at work after a back injury. You aren’t carrying my heavy fridge up the stairs! Heck no!

He thought that was funny. He asked a lot of questions about me and what I do. He was thrilled to meet a writer. He said he had never met one before. Over and over he said, “Whoa. You are one hard working woman. I’ve never seen a woman rush to carry heavy stuff up the stairs for me before. And you home school your kids. And you travel around the country. And you write books. Whoo. You wear me out.” He must have said it twenty times. I laughed.

He asked for information about my books. I gave him all that he needed to find me. Who knows if he will follow up.

It’s a bit awkward to tell people, “I wrote about my experiences growing up in an incestuous family. It’s intense.”

Trigger warnings, baby.

This was all after a hilarious incident with a conservative postal employee in Georgia. I’ve never seen a federal employee retract their implication that there is anything wrong with being queer so damn fast in my life. With a smile.

It’s funny what conclusions folks jump to when they find out you are home schooling.

Nope. I ain’t teaching the Bible. We don’t pray.

I mean, we have many Bibles in the house… but I teach it as one set of mythology among many that humans have come up with over many thousands of years.

It’s just one path out of many. They are all ok.

We were kind of a hilarious experience for my newly adopted niece in Georgia. (Long story.) she is growing up with a Baptist mother and a Catholic father. They attend church regularly. It’s a big deal.

I leaned over and said, “I’m a Godless Heathen.”

Her eyes went wide.

Yeah. That was wonderful.

I said, “You are going to hear a lot about people like me and when you hear those things you can decide for yourself if you agree or not. I’m just one person out of many. I don’t represent ‘all the weirdos’ of the whole world but I do represent a lot of them. When you hear people say nasty things about people like those know that they are talking about me. And think about that.”

She nodded slowly. I was an intense experience for a 9 year old.

I really loved settling into the room here at the resort. We have a system. I explained it to the kids. We all relaxed once the system was discussed and the kids stopped chafing at boundaries every other second.

It was palpable. I didn’t take my medication until after this experience occurred so it wasn’t just that all of a sudden I was stoned and I didn’t care any more. The kids stopped fighting.

It’s been a rough few days. I’m not proud but I screamed and screamed and screamed in the car. They would not stop beating on each other. I mean… they stopped when I went a little nutty. But they would not stop until I went berserk screaming about how they had to Stop Stop STOP.

I felt kind of bad about it until we talked about it later in the evening. I said I was sorry that sometimes I was an asshole when more gentle methods failed but sometimes I really need to be effective. You can’t hit each other.

Eldest Child nodded and said, “Oh I know. We really couldn’t even hear you until you broke our concentration.”

Youngest Child nodded and said, “Yeah… uhh… it’s hard to hear you sometimes when we get into it.”

Then my eldest child looked down, and brushed her head bashfully like we were in a damn movie and apologized.

It was… kind of weird.

YC didn’t apologize exactly but there were amends made. At five it isn’t always a verbal apology yet and that’s ok.

I asked if we could make an agreement to ask for rest any time and every time we feel tired so we don’t whine or get cranky with each other and everyone agreed. They know where their free feeding snack food is. They don’t have to ask me every other minute if they can have _______. It’s glorious freedom.

I think it is hilarious that they both, separately, echoed something that Noah said to me a long time ago in almost exactly the same tone of voice.

“One of the things I like about you is that you make every place feel like home” with a happy sigh to follow. This is in reference to how I set up and organize hotel rooms to within an inch of their lives if I am going to be in them long. I have to or I can’t find shit and that makes me crazy. I have to know where all my stuff is. We have a lot of stuff. That’s a lot of things to put my hands on over and over and over so I can know exactly where it is when I need it.

This is how I comfort myself. This is how I create the order I need. This is how I create the structure and the scaffolding to teach the lessons I want to teach. We are not working on the in-the-room-manners here. That lesson happens elsewhere. Here, we rest. It’s so relaxing and nice.

Only we rest and relax with a pool and a playground a 3 minute walk away so we get lots of exercise right before bed so we go to sleep easily.

This is why I pay for this. Because having people leap to help me with a smile has a cost and I am happy to pay it. I’m told that privilege can’t be bought, but advantages can. If I’m going to be a fucking rich person I’m going to occasionally pay for some fucking advantages.

Oh this is wonderful. And I have to not swear so I’ll get it out now.

Ahhh. Maybe not. I’m feeling pretty mellow. That was a happy fuck.

Cause I’m like that.

Thank you Noah.

I have quite the set up for our little mini kitchen. We don’t get a stove or a full size fridge so I brought our fridge up. The freshest food goes in the apartment fridge so the kids eat it first. The stuff they are allowed to grab at will is in an open container at a tempting eye-height. Other snacks are organized by priority in drawers cause I’m a neurotic fuck.

Tier two foods are things that we will access a lot on the trip for breakfast but they shouldn’t be freely snacked on during the rest of the day or we won’t have breakfast for the rest of the trip. We’re here almost three weeks. Be strategic.

Tier three foods are meal foods that probably require adult help because the microwave is hecka high.

Seems reasonable, right?

Ahhhhhh. Freedom.

It is funny watching them stop asking for things every few minutes. It is kind of weird every time I see this tremendous example they just want to find out what the boundary is.

I can work with that.

Apparently, there is a certain level of beating on one another in the car that brings very unpleasant screaming.

Dude, I was going 60 miles an hour on the freeway, how am I supposed to react? I’m in an unfamiliar area during a frigging interchange. STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW.

I get kind of upset sometimes. I’m told I can be intimidatingly loud.

Well if you’d stop when I asked in a more moderate tone dozens of times.

I genuinely don’t know what else to do. I mean, sometimes I use the radio to startle them. But a good loud blast of sound is the only thing I can figure out to do when they go at it in the car.

I do not use the screaming method outside of the car. I separate them. In the car… THEY HAVE A TUMBLING MAT BETWEEN THEM AND THEY STILL REACH AROUND IT TO BEAT ON EACH OTHER.

Oh my. Yeah. Sibling stuff is complicated.

Mostly they get along really well. Sometimes… yeah. We have a long way to go on impulse control. But I don’t have a lot of room to complain. I was way the heck more violent than them.

This trip has had highs and lows, like all trips. I think being at the resort is going to be a high point. We are really excited to explore. We are ready to not be in the car.

The first thing we are doing is going over to child care to talk about options and schedules so the kids can pick times they want to be there.

I’m not sure what I’ll do. But I’ll go do something.

I feel a little weirdly guilty and ashamed. This is such a stupid thing to want to do. What a waste of money and time.

But it will be… so fun.

I love you Disney. Thank you for smiling at me.

Stupid hormones.

Well, I’m feeling better than I did when I woke up yesterday. Instead of taking a whole handful of sleeping pills last night I took barely any sleeping pills and melatonin. It was an experiment and I slept for 8 hours and I feel a bit better. Sleeping for eight hours is vitally important to my health and continued ability to travel. I will literally go crazy with sleep deprivation. I just can’t fuck around with it. Even though I’m scared to death of how many sleeping pills I’m taking.

When my friend saw me pop the handful she looked a wee bit alarmed. Maybe because I almost threw them back up all over her floor. My gag reflex is mighty. “Yeah I overdosed on sleeping pills once. My body is afraid I’m doing it again with every pill I swallow. Let alone a handful.”

I had a wonderful time in Georgia despite being incredibly emotionally volatile. I felt like I was flipping out, but seeing my friend was really nice. I finally got a little pushy and asked if I could weed her beds on the last day because I knew I was so full of nervous energy I was about to explode. Weeding calms me down.

Georgia red clay is a motherfucker. I see why she imported bought dirt for her beds. That clay is tough. I’ve read about it in hundreds of books, how punishing it is. I’m grateful I got to get down on my hands and knees and rip plants out of it. That gave me a perspective I can’t get any other way. That was wonderful.

Since many of you know Mitrian I’m going to talk about her directly just a little bit. I’m probably not the only one who misses her a lot since she has had a reduction in spoons and she isn’t blogging much.

She has a wonderful set up for her life. She has a beautiful three bedroom two bathroom house she can afford without roommates. That is such a blessing after the whack jobs she lived with in California. She had some scary housemates.

She has 2/3 of an acre? I may be remembering that wrong. But she has enough land for a small orchard (we helped her plant the first fig tree!), many raised beds of vegetables (as a vegetarian she can go most of the way to producing her own food with this much land), and a great chicken coup for her five birds. She will end up with more birds in the future. She has Lots Of Plans.

Her house is just about big enough for all of her spinning wheels, heh. She has tons of room to do her work. She thinks she isn’t well organized, but compared to many of the houses I see I would say she is about at a B-. She doesn’t have the money to go to Ikea and just buy a place for everything, but she does really really well with what she has. I think she’s doing wonderfully. I was really impressed.

Not in a condescending “I think of course you must suck” sorta way. More in a “Life is hard and you have eleventybillion demands on your time and arms and you have limited spoons so you are doing GREAT” sorta way.

Mitty was less depressed acting than I’ve seen her in many years. Her chickens are obviously wonderful for her.

And she gets to spend a lot of time with her niece, which is very valuable and healing. From what I can see, Mitty gets to feel like a good role model and that is a powerful spur to grown ups getting their shit together. It worked like magic on me. Not that Mitty “didn’t have her shit together” before… but I sense extra motivation now. Before she left California she really didn’t know what direction her life was going to take and limbo is hard.

Now she has a place. She’s creating an amazing extended network of people to barter with. I feel like I learned a lot just listening to how she is constructing a life. She has thought of possibilities that would completely miss me. I’m so grateful I got to visit. She said we are the first visitors she’s had in her guest room in the two years since she bought the house.

Gosh I want an RV. I want to be able to visit Duluth and Covington more often. Luckily the other people I really want to see are moving back to California and they will be more convenient soon. Excellent.

I’m super happy we made it to Georgia. Even though we are home sick and getting punchy.

Tennessee was a different kind of nice. I’ve known that friend since I was 10/11 years old. (We can’t remember exactly but she’s a year older than me and I was at her 12th birthday.) It was more of a “Let’s see if we are anything like we remember” tentative visit. No, we aren’t like we were and that is a special kind of nice.

It’s wonderful seeing people go from fucked up kids to functional, awesome adults. My friend in Tennessee had a few reasons her life could have gone off the rails. She had her first child at 15. She wasn’t very savvy about keeping herself safe when we were young. (Nor was I so I’m not throwing stones. But I was on birth control from the age of 12.) She had a kid and grew up fast. I would say that hands down she is one of the best mothers I know. She’s super close with her kid but she isn’t controlling and neurotic. She guided her kid through life in a way no one helped her. I learned so much.

Most of my friends have little quirks. I am so grateful when my friends point out, “I have this quirk…” Instead of getting annoyed with me for not understanding. My friend in Tennessee is a hippy like me. She uses cloth stuff instead of disposable-almost-anything. I *loved* her set up. She’s really thought through her cloth usage. She has different piles of cloth all over the house with different textures for different purposes.

I feel inspired. Sorry Noah.

So the last two visits have gone very well. I’ve been irritable. Luckily my friends seem to believe me when I say, “I haven’t been able to fully medicate in months and as a result I’m kind of irritable and tense and cranky and it isn’t you and I’m really happy to be here. I’m sorry I’m not mellow but I literally can’t be right now.” My friends are saying that it sounds hard and otherwise we are having a wonderful time together.

I feel so lucky to know the people I know.

I got to have a fangirl dinner with someone I know through Twitter in Georgia too. That was nice. She really isn’t hopeful that things can change so that black women are abused less. I want to believe she is wrong. I’m afraid she is right.

Today we drive to Disney World. I wish I had more energy for excitement. Instead the main thing I’m excited about is that I won’t have to drive for almost three weeks so I can medicate more.

I talked to my friend in New York who is getting married this month. I told her I can’t do anything to help at the wedding because I’m too pressed for time, I have too many responsibilities, and generally I’m just fucking tired. I can’t do any favors right now. I hate myself but it’s accurate.

I’m going to get me and my two kids from Florida to New York for your wedding. That is what I can do right now. That’s all. I can show up.

I wish I could do more but I really can’t. I cannot have responsibilities for helping adults right now. I feel so guilty and ashamed of myself.

I’m sure that feeling of shame is part of why I felt so bad yesterday.

It’s not all of it, this is normal freaking out for me. It is cyclical. And yet. Yesterday was really intense. I don’t get the inside-a-round-room-with-videos-narrating-self-harm thing as often any more. I don’t even see that every month lately. (Thank you brain. I want to stop and notice that you’ve been pretty nice to me for a while. Most of this trip has gone super well from that point of view. Thanks!) I really hate having those kinds of thoughts when I’m driving.

seriously have to fight my urge to jerk the wheel sideways so we get hurt. It has to be a conscious decision to keep us safe.

We are still here and we are fine. So I made that choice. But I had to choose. I had to decide, “Not today. I still have shit to do.”

I want to research incest so much I can barely breathe. That means I can’t die yet. I want to see what my children are like as adults. We can’t die yet. I have to choose life. Even when it hurts. Even when I don’t want to.

Sometimes I feel bad that what I’m doing with home schooling at this point is working on emotional self regulation. Only I can’t regulate myself. Sad face.

You know what? I actually do regulate myself at this point. I no longer follow my impulses and self harm. I no longer walk along the outside of bridge railings for shits and giggles on days like yesterday hoping I fall. Regulation doesn’t mean avoiding having big feelings. It means dealing with them in a healthy way when they come up. If you avoid having big feelings that isn’t regulation–that’s suppression or denial. Neither is all that useful for life.

My kids have a very different load of emotions compared to me. I am completely confident that if Younger Child were abused in this period it would lead to all kinds of problematic personality formation issues later. That kid is volatile and extreme in a way Eldest Child never was. EC is placid and hard to disrupt most of the time. YC is a powder keg. Look at the child wrong and the child might explode into sobs. It can be hard to be supportive and caring as much as that kid requires. But I’m doing it. That’s the job. Ok, I’m not perfect every day. But I think I get it right more than 75% of the time. Sometimes I have to say, “I love you and I can see that you need __________ but right this minute I can’t give it to you. I’m sorry I’m failing you right now.”

I think it is very important that I not tell my kids that they are asking for too much. It isn’t that you are asking too much. It is that you are asking for something that I am not capable of giving. I’m sorry that I am failing you.

To me there is a huge difference between mean and abuse. I think about this constantly. Abuse makes you feel small. Abuse makes you feel unworthy. Abuse is about taking someone else’s inability to meet your needs and saying it is your fault for having unreasonable needs. Being mean is different. Being mean involves sometimes saying asshole things and admitting, “I’m being an asshole right now because I have x, y, and z going on with my body and I’m sorry I’m taking it out on you. You deserve better I just don’t have it to give.”

Sometimes I think I confuse having boundaries at all with being an asshole. I can’t tell how much they are the same thing and how much they are completely different things. I didn’t grow up with boundaries. Any and all application of boundaries feels like an asshole move to me. But a very healthy and appropriate kind of asshole.

Every postcard I wrote yesterday involved some variation of “I want to go home.” Which I find kind of hilarious. I hope my friends don’t get bored of my whining.

I love you all. The kids are waking up.

Crash day

I’m having a hard day. Lots of self-harm urge. Lots of suicidal ideation. I want to beat my children then strap them into the car seats and drive off a bridge.

Not really. I don’t want to do that. I’m not going to do that. But today my disordered thinking is taking up waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much room in my brain.

I feel frantic, angry, like I can’t control what I’m thinking, like see… this is why I should be killed. Because I have these terrible thoughts and I deserve to die.

I suspect that part of the trigger this morning was telling a friend that I couldn’t do a favor she asked me to do. She was nice about it, but I never feel good about saying, “I can’t”.

What is the point of me existing if I have nothing to offer?

I drove much slower than usual today and a 4 hour drive took almost 6 hours. Not because we broke for lunch. Because I stopped and got out of the car every half hour or so because I didn’t trust myself to stay alert for a long haul. I am not reliable today. I need to be monitored.

But there is no one here to monitor me but two people who are not in a position to tell me anything. So I have to monitor myself. So I’m trying to be careful.

This is hormones (my period tracker said I could start ANY DAY NOW) plus exhaustion plus general stress plus homesickness plus… I’m just crazy.

I’m trying to convince myself that I haven’t self harmed in years and I am not going to start today.

But I feel like shit. My chest hurts. My heart hurts. My head hurts. I’m tired of crying.

It’s not that the last visit with a friend went badly. The last two friends-visits have been among the best of the trip. The kids and I had a wonderful time with both friends.

I’m just….


Mellow birthday

Oh today has been divine. I went to a chiropractor and a massage therapist. I feel like they did wonderful work. We went out to a nice lunch. My friend made dinner and a pineapple upside down cake. I took a nap. I feel loved and cared for.

I contrast this to previous years. There have been previous birthdays where tons of people went to tons of effort… and I spent the entire day in a hell of anxiety because I was convinced that everyone was about to hate me any second.

I’m so ridiculous.

My friend asked me why I conflate people telling me that I deserve what I’m getting now with the implication that I deserve what I got when I was a kid.

Because it is a trigger. It isn’t rational. It isn’t because I “want” to conflate the two. Because when someone says that they are so happy I’m getting what I deserve my central nervous system goes live like touching a match to the end of a fire cracker. It’s a trigger. And people say it to me a lot. So I flip out over that one a lot. So I vent about it on places like Twitter, and here, and… y’all get to see it.

Sorry. Trying to document the fun of PTSD. Why do I continue to conflate those two things? To show how fucking frustrating it is that I have this central nervous reaction year after year after year after year.

I’m tired of reacting to these things. I react to fewer things than I used to. I am improving. But some reactions are still there. Some triggers are huge. “Deserve” is a rather large trigger for me. It’s not rational. It’s just there.

Hey I no longer flip out when people say, “Don’t hold back tell me how you really feel.” I’m improving. Things are changing.

But change isn’t constant. Change isn’t easy to measure. Change comes in fits and starts. Change often hurts.

I’m trying. Documenting things and venting actually helps this process. I hope you notice that I’m bitching about slightly different things over time…


I don’t understand why some places and some people feel comfortable and others feel so deeply invasive and hurtful I just have to run away. I don’t understand this mechanism very well.

My friends are combative people. Not 100% of them, but I pick people who prefer direct conflict and resolution over people who want to … avoid talking about the elephant in the room. As a result I’m very accustomed to people dressing me down. I’m very comfortable with someone saying, “You fucked up and I’m going to explain how in great detail.” I’m great with that.

I don’t do so hot with “You are rude.” Most people who say that are unable to even flesh out what they mean by it. It is some weird “not comfortable” feeling. I’m different from people they are used to and that means I’m rude.

I’m not a conformist. I do not have a desire to blend in with the crowd and avoid rocking the boat. I want to point out that the boat already has cracks in it and maybe we should rock it a bit more to test the breaking point so it doesn’t break all the way out at sea. Let’s do it near the shore and find out how safe we really are.

Tension, stress, and conflict all enable people to find out who they are. Your reactions when you don’t have time to think really define who you are. That is your Lizard brain in action. That’s the part of you that you don’t have full control over.

My Lizard brain tells me that if people think I’m rude I should be scared. I should be afraid of what they will do to me. When I was a kid being rude was greeted with soap in the mouth, a slap in the face, or a spanking. Hilariously, most of my beatings happened in school. I was not very respectful.

So I distrust and dislike people who want me to conform to middle class mores about avoiding conflict and trying to not be rude. I’d rather just be rude and take the punishment. I’m used to punishment.

Sometimes I think it is interesting how people don’t go looking for the best treatment they can get. They go looking for the treatment that makes them comfortable. For me, a lot of what makes me comfortable is pissing off people. I’m a contrarian. I spent my childhood being told that I was a rude asshole. Now I’m doing my best to prove people right because that’s my identity, right?

If you tell a little boy that he’s aggressive and awful because boys are like that… you are affirming that he should feel comfortable with that behavior.

I was told and told and told how rude and stupid and awful I am.

Why do I have so many assholes in my life? Because they make me comfortable. I can handle them better than I can handle the faux-polite people who want to shame me into conforming. The assholes will just yell at me and let me go about my business.

But I want to be a different person. I want my children to be different people. I want my children to get their sense of belonging from people treating them kindly not from people being abusive. I’m accustomed to abuse. It feels natural and appropriate. Both being abused and being abusive.

I have many abusive tendencies and I work very hard on controlling them. I do not want to pass on the hurt that was given to me.

But in order to learn different patterns you have to be around different kinds of people. I don’t really feel like I belong around people who aren’t direct, confrontational, and rather abrasive.

Part of what I love so much about the friendships I have developed is my friends don’t tend to hold back. They “tell me how they really feel”. I love it. I feel safe. I feel comfortable knowing that when I cross a line I’ll be told in blinking neon so I can’t miss the hint. They don’t soft shoe around problems and that means I trust them. I feel like I belong. I can be a bit explosive and say, “X is not ok for me” and my friends can hear that without shutting me down.

The visit in Nashville was wonderful. This visit in Georgia is shaping up to be amazing too.

Why are these visits so much easier? Oh lots of reasons. These are women I’ve known a long time. They are women that are very comfortable with me being direct because they are direct too. There is no shaming about how I’m doing everything wrong. They are ok if I want to do things for them and they are happy to help me since I’m so tired. I don’t feel like a burden and I don’t feel like I am being inappropriately self sufficient. This is wonderful.

I’m glad I didn’t wuss out and go home and miss these wonderful women. I feel so much love for them. I’m so glad they are in the world reminding me of the fact that there are intense wonderful people littered across the globe. You can’t tell how much you will like someone based on anything about their appearance or where they are standing. It’s a surprise.

I can talk about my insecurities and they aren’t minimized. I can talk about what I really want to do today and they don’t tell me they are disappointed because I don’t want to do something that is 20 times as energetic.

Tomorrow is my birthday. My friend has all the stuff in the house to make me a nice pineapple upside down cake. They are my favorite. And ice cream. Because yay ice cream!

It is funny to me that my friend feels safe in her neighborhood partially because there are a whole bunch of cops nearby. My eyes went wide and I said, “If I found that out about my neighborhood I’d move.” We had a fascinating conversation about relative safety and what makes each of us feel like we belong.

I’m mentally ill. I have to deal with the fact that people think I’m scary. Police officers shoot mentally ill people when they feel like it. It happens weekly if not more often than not. It’s not rare. The police scare the shit out of me. It’s odd to me that other people feel safer around police. I feel like having police officers in your neighborhood is kind of like living on an old mine field. You don’t know if you will explode as you walk around.

My kids feel like they belong anywhere. They are genuinely able to conform in a not-threatening-their-core-identity way.

Their core identity is still shifting so fast that who knows who they will turn out to be. I know that I really fucking like them. I respect them. I admire them. I’m grateful they exist and that I get to know them.

We didn’t hit homesickness until day 89. Until that point it felt very much like we bring the sense of home with us as long as we are together. I believe at this point that if Noah were with us… yeah we could travel indefinitely.

“Anywhere beside you is the place that I call home.”

I miss Noah. I miss the feeling that being around Noah gives me. Not the irritated with a cis-het-rich-white-man feeling. That bit I try to ignore. I’m more talking about the fact that Noah acts like it is an awesome thing that I’m in the world. Noah acts like his world is literally less bright without me. It is fascinating how hanging out together means that both of us fill with energy to go out and do things and create things and talk about things and change things.

We give one another energy. We give one another a sense of belonging and acceptance that neither of us are used to.

I miss Noah. Today is day 91. We see Noah again on day 133. That sounds heinous right this second. 42 days to wait? Evil. Terrible. Not. Cool.

But you know what? I’m glad I’m doing this. It won’t be hanging over my head as that thing I always wanted to do and I never did because I was afraid. I’ve thought about doing this every year since I turned 18. I was always too afraid.

My children give me courage. For you, I can do anything. I want to teach you about the world. I will be brave for you.

You are the reason I belong in a family. I will do anything I must do to have this continue in a manner that is healthy for both of you. You make me want to keep breathing. You make me want to get up and eat healthy food and be physically active and sleep well so I can find out what you are like in 40 years. I want to know you.

I’m so grateful I belong somewhere.

Not trying to be mean.

I really and truly understand that most of the folks I’ve had a hard time with on this trip are doing their utmost to be nice to me. The trouble is, it’s hard to be nice to me. I’m prickly and picky and specific and do it my way or you’re hard for me.

That’s not terribly fair of me, but it is true. I try hard to record what is true instead of what is fair or what I wish was happening.

I wanted to travel and deal with people. I’m doing so. Guess what? It’s hard. No big surprise twist there or anything. I’ve been hiding in the bay area for decades because it feels safer. No shit I have some trouble with people while I travel.

The woman who was trying to warn me about the upcoming culture shift wasn’t really and truly trying to tell me that she thinks I am wrong about everything I do. She was trying to help me see that I’m about to walk into a different culture as specifically as if I was walking into a different country. She’s right. She was right that I am wrong wrong wrong in the view of southern culture.

She wasn’t lying. She wasn’t wrong. She wasn’t trying to be mean. She was trying to warn me. Too bad I like shooting the messenger. Historically I hear it is a popular approach.

But it hurts my fucking feelings and I’m going to go cry for a while.

I really wish I could take things in stride and just nod along then be fine. That isn’t in my future though. I’m a responder.

Periodically people say, “Why don’t you just ignore _______?”

There isn’t enough pot in the world to cause me to be able to just ignore things. I pay attention. I pay attention to as many things as I physically can then I drive myself crazy trying to watch more things than I should be able to physically track. My family ignored problems. I don’t ignore things. Just… no. Can’t.

Yes, my life would probably be easier if I could ignore more things. My life would also be possibly easier if I were 5’10”. I could wear shoes that kinda get me there to cheat… but I’d break my fucking ankle. Ignoring things is kinda like that. I could pretend to ignore things. I wouldn’t really ignore it though… I’d just pretend. And that would be a problem.

I can see how this woman was trying to be helpful and sweet. Hell, I can see that about everyone who has bugged me on this trip. They are trying so hard. Trouble is I’m really really hard.

I’m adaptable up to a point. Then I’m utterly rigid and it must be my way or I’m not comfortable. Just about no one but Noah is naturally comfortable with my way. I think Noah is only semi-comfortable with it because even Noah’s way makes Noah uncomfortable so my adjustment isn’t that big. With other people… adjusting to me is hard. It takes years of effort. I can point at the people who are good at it and pretty much number them on my fingers. I freak people out. They have to limit their exposure to me.

I get it. I’m sorry.

I feel like that with other people. As intense as people find me… I find y’all as intense and overwhelming. Not because I want to criticize but because I’m terrified you won’t like me and there is nothing I can do to make you like me. I will never be able to jump through the right hoops in the right order so I should just go jump off a bridge.

I wish I didn’t feel like minor social difficulties totally justifies me being suicidal.

I don’t really think that. But my lizard brain does.

I’ve been taking more sleeping pills at night than I wish I needed to take. At this point I take three over the counter sleep aid pills a night so I can sleep more than 5 hours. It means I’m sleeping 8-9 hours every night and that is wonderful. Also it makes me sluggish and tired in the mornings which helps me not bite anyones head off because I can’t take pot first thing in the morning. Not till after driving which means I’m only stoned at night while I’m sleeping these days.

When I get home… I’m going to smoke pot. Fuck these stupid time release pills that might or might not effect how I feel in a few hours. I want immediate gratification for anxiety SO BAD.

I’m tired of spending my whole days shaking because I need to be careful to not say the wrong thing and prove I’m a monster.

I’m afraid that the monstrous line is at me asking for OJ in a house where they don’t have it. Because then I will be rude and deserve any castigation someone feels like giving me. Which means I will be yelled at for asking for juice. I may lose my shit if someone yells at me for being rude like that any time soon.

Necessary disclaimer: losing my shit will involve a lot of screaming and maybe jumping up and down. I don’t think I’m on the verge of hurting anyone for being annoying.

Oh, other disclaimer. On the trip… I’m not hitting the kids but I have developed the bad habit of grabbing a little piece of hair and pulling on it to get their attention in a loud place where they can’t hear me. It isn’t “nice” but good grief it is hard to get their attention sometimes and that works. They generally make a face at me, but I don’t think it “hurts” because they aren’t crying or exclaiming in pain. Just letting me know that I’m a turkey butt for pulling their hair.

I can live with that.

I honestly got the idea from a letter from Noah’s mother. I asked her how she got herself to stop hitting her kids. She said she started pulling their hair instead. How loving are we?

I don’t want to hit my kids. There are times when I need to get their attention and we are in a highly distracting environment. I’m not sure I feel “justified” or like it is a great habit. I’m not sure if it is abusive. I don’t pull their hair till they cry. If they tell me to stop on a given day I do. But inevitably I will need their attention again a few days later and I do it again.

I’m conflicted on whether or not this is appropriate. The fact that I’m not hurting them is the only reason I continue. They genuinely do not react as if they are in pain. It’s annoying.

I’m ok with the fact that I annoy them sometimes. Ha. Turn about is fair play, darlings.

I am totally ok with annoying the shit out of my kids. I won’t lose sleep over that one little bit. They have done the same to me.

People tell me constantly how self possessed my children are. That is the specific phrase that has come up dozens of times over the last few months. It is usually said in a tone of almost wonder but what did you do to those children?

I don’t even know. I tell them every day that I don’t know them very well and I’d like to know them but they are going to have to tell me who they are because I don’t know by looking at you.

As a result my kids are very good at explaining who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, and how they want to be touched.

They are getting much better at hearing the word “no” and stopping mid-blow. (Good grief they fight one another a lot.) I am very impressed with the self control I can witness them developing. They are already different than they were when we left home.

Younger child, duh, is having a harder time with the self control lately. Given the age difference that is appropriate and logical. But lots of improvements have been made.

My kids are being inculcated in “Ask Culture” so strongly they can barely recognize that there are Guessers in the world. Does that make them self possessed? I have no idea. Ok, I went and looked the term up. Calm and unflappable. People who say this have never seen Younger Child tantrum. That’s my baby alright. Totally true of Elder Child though.

It’s not that Elder Child never gets upset. That totally happens. But when EC gets upset it is always related to a clear pattern of, “You should have eaten hours ago, you are exhausted, or anyone would get upset.” That kid is just… able to go with the flow of life. I’m inspired daily by how good this kid is at adjusting to the little vagaries of life. I absolutely strive to be more like her.

She says that she learned this from me and if I want to be more like her I should listen to myself sometimes because I’m a good teacher.

Sometimes I think about tickling them until they pee. That’s the mean torture I envision when they taunt me.

I am enjoying the trip. I wish I didn’t care so much about what people think of me. I wish I genuinely didn’t care that sometimes people think I am rude because I am not aware of their little cultural nuances. That doesn’t need to be part of my awareness. I don’t need to give a shit. They can go be offended in their sandbox and have fun with that.

The same way I come to my sandbox to express my frustrations. Totally a valid coping method. La la la la la

I’m not saying that people suck. I’m saying that the way people exist is sometimes confusing and upsetting to me. Ok, sometimes I say that people suck. I’m not trying to today. Today I’m trying to be open minded and understanding and shit. Because I’m not pissed right now so it is a good day to try and care about other peoples point of view.

See the difference? Ok to try and see other peoples point of view on days when I’m not actively pissed. When I’m still furious… I’m not very understanding. This is why I say, “Not today. Bring it up on a different day.” It’s not that I’m completely unwilling to listen. It’s that I am getting realistic with myself about what I can hear when.

I really like how much the kids like me. I try hard to be worthy. I love that my baby wakes up and goes to sleep clutching me. It absolutely does a lot to heal wounds made decades ago when I would cry myself to sleep longing for my mother. I can’t fix the little girl I was. I can make this better.

It is fascinating watching how boundaries actually help us all get along better. Yesterday I made the kids clean up the van. I did it one day after the previous cleaning because the kids spent the drive ripping up bits of paper and dropping them about the van. If you can’t keep the fucker tidy enough to keep us from littering every time we open the doors… we have to clean it up. It is not ok for us to litter across the country. We have to be tidy enough that we can open and close the doors without a storm of paper erupting. That’s Not Ok.

I told them they had 30 minutes or they weren’t getting screen time and we weren’t going swimming. I’m tired of rewarding them after they refuse to do work. They had it clean in 23 minutes.

That’s why it drives me so bat shit crazy when they stretch it into three, four, five hours of crying and saying, “I don’t know how to clean it.”


I’m past patience on this one. I have patiently shown them and patiently shown them and patiently shown them. Now I’m pissed and I’m not fucking showing you any more. Just god damn do it and stop trying to make me do everything for you.

I’m so tired of being manipulated into doing everything. Yes, it is fucking work for you. I’m ok with that. It’s work for me too.

Seriously, most of cleaning the van involves throwing away the bits of paper and putting the drawing supplies back in the art supply bag. There is a very specifically limited amount of bad this mess can get.

I’m fucking tired of them crying that they “can’t” do it so I have to do it for them.

I’m really really cranky about this right now. Oh goodness. Just… livid with anger. I need to calm down. Hyping myself up at 9 am is stupid.

The kids are feeling frustrated that I do many hours of work and then I use the screen. They do many hours of sitting as passengers and then want to sit and use the screen. Nope. You get to do work.

I’m not the only worker here.

Noah said I’m raising little pioneer children who must do work to support themselves. Something like that.

I know many mothers who are happy to “care for” their children for decades. I’m not happy to do that. If you are physically capable of doing it for yourself you are going to do it because I’m exhausted and if I keep pushing myself to do work for you when I’m this tired I will snap and beat the shit out of you at some point because I will hate you for making my life so much harder.

I have limits.

I don’t ever want to beat you. So I need to look at the factors that make me feel completely overwhelmed and angry. I need to limit them. Which means y’all can brush your own hair and teeth and get dressed and clean up the messes you make. I can’t be responsible for everything.

I’ve told Eldest Child, “Know how I used to do everything for you as a baby?”

At this point she dreamily says, “Yeah. That was the best.”

I say, “Notice how we didn’t leave the house much because I was literally not capable of doing that and going out into the world?”

“Yeah, I remember that.”

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life locked in our house because that is all I can handle?”

“Oh. Ok, I’ll brush my hair and get ready.”

It’s not that I’m a mean person who wants to torture you. It’s that I want to do exciting things with you and I need you to do a lot to take care of yourself as we go on adventures because I’m not capable of doing everything. It’s not about being mean. I just can’t.

Do you get angry at people in wheel chairs if they don’t change all the light bulbs in the ceiling on their own? Or do you say, “Maybe this would be easier for someone who had usage of their legs and a ladder.” It’s not that the wheel chair user is lazy or uncaring.

And the person in the wheel chair can do it alone with the right tools and time. But it’s much harder and it will eliminate other tasks that person would like to do with the time. That’s kind of how caretaking works for me.

I have to think really hard and consciously about people in order to caretake. It’s not very natural for me. Fuck this whole “women are nurturing” bullshit. We fucking learn how and it is fucking hard. This is not a fucking instinct. It’s torture.

I do it because I want to find out what lessons are to be learned through these specific relationships. I caretake for self-serving reasons. Because I want credit for having done lots of this years later.

It actually kind of sucks.

Today we move on to Dollywood. I’m excited. We will get on the road earlier than usual, I hope. So far the kids aren’t moving that fast. Well, EC is ready. YC is screaming at me. Joy. Time to get moving.

Wish I didn’t see both sides.

I can clearly see how people are trying to be nice to me. Trying as best they know how. They want me to learn how to conform. They want me to learn how to be nice.

Trouble is… I’ve got an alternate plan.

Thing is, when you are a guest… you must play nice.

This is the trouble I’ve been in since I was a little girl. I am not good enough. I don’t please people enough. I don’t read the signals right.

In some places cleaning is a sign of deep love and respect and service. It is honored and cherished.

In some places I am disrespectful and rude and I am insulting them.

For the exact same behavior.

This is part of why I flip out and feel like I am losing control sometimes. It’s hard to know what the right thing to do is. Sometimes it is ok to ask and sometimes I get in trouble for even asking. I’m supposed to just know what is acceptable. 

I feel so tired.

I’m so tired of doing everything wrong and insulting people. When I’m on my best behavior.

I haz the big feelings. I’m super anxious and watching a fabulous show called Strange Empire. It’s working for me. I like thrilling (but not scary), violent movies about women who are happy to shoot you if that is what needs to be done today.

I just like that in a woman.

Adventures aren’t that fun when you are on them. But I long for them and have fun talking about them for years afterwards.

I like talking and dreaming about adventure more than doing. Cause I’m a twerp. I’m an ungrateful twat.


Since I may forget to say it tomorrow… thank you for putting up with me so long Noah. Happy Anniversary. I’m really glad I’m with you.

More than halfway done.

The very very very very bestest thing I can say about the trip is it is more than half over.

The person we are staying with tonight had to go out. She has plans with friends to work on dog training stuff. So she left us here with her housemate. She told him, “I don’t want to dump my guests on you”. I said we would go out to dinner so he doesn’t have to prepare food for us. She said, “Oh good. Then you can have quiet time.”

Apparently my desire to prepare my own food and clean up after myself is rude. I was told so.

When you are a guest people lay out all they want to share with you. If you request something that isn’t offered you are rude.


I have big feelings. I want to move on. I want to hide. I want to crawl into a hole. I wanted to relearn that people are really different and that’s a hard thing. Well I fucking learned. I’m not doing so hot.

I loved seeing Noah. I miss him. I want to go home. I want to go home where it is ok for me to be weird. For me to do the things I feel comfortable doing.

I miss my neighborhood. I miss being able to rest for multiple days in a row. I miss knowing that I know what I’m going to do in three days. Right now I’m winging it day by day. And people always expect me to have plans. “What do you plan to do in our area? Are you going to ____ or ______ or ____?”

Uhm, I honestly haven’t heard of any of those things. I haven’t researched everything for every place we will be every day of this trip. It is too hard given that frequently we end up changing our plans. I can’t have everything decided in advance. Won’t work.

I seriously don’t know what we are eating a meal in advance most of the time. I just can’t decide. Things go bad. I’m not able to cook. I can’t plug the fridge in so I have to hurry up and eat everything that spoils. The kids have the audacity to have their own opinions. What.forking.ever.

People are clearly trying to make me feel comfortable. But it is getting to the point where people say, “I want you to feel comfortable” and I hear “I want you to make me feel comfortable.”

I can’t. I don’t know how to make me comfortable. I sure as shit don’t know how to make you feel comfortable.

I want you to feel comfortable. That is pretty much the phrase that makes me least comfortable. Because people who say that to me almost never want to find out what would make me comfortable. They want me to feel comfortable about the things that make them comfortable.

I don’t share your biases. The things that make you feel comfortable are things that make me feel wildly uncomfortable.

Know how I describe my interactions with my friends and you say, “Get new friends”? Guess what, my friends treat me in a way that makes me feel comfortable. They aren’t always nice to me. Sometimes my friends are complete and total assholes and they are vile. But I feel comfortable with them in a way I have never and will never feel comfortable following the rules of “polite” society.

I get your rules wrong. Then you tell me how wrong I am.

No. I don’t feel comfortable.

No how you told me in detail how my behavior was wrong?


I know.

I know I’m wrong. There is no chance that I’m going to be what you want me to be.

Too late.


You know what I would like? I would like to go a whole week without having someone explain “the rules” about how to be polite to me. I’d like to have one week without people telling me I’m doing everything wrong.

“When you are a guest it is polite to ____” “But that wouldn’t work with any of my friends.” “You need new friends.”

Right. Let me get right on finding friends who will conform to the rules you believe people should follow so that you can be more comfortable with how I act.