Thursday, December 13, 2012

You may want to pee before you start reading...

I don't even know where to start with all this.  I've tried journaling so I can blog it, but it's just such a cluster fuck of insanity.  I'm just going to dive in to just get it out.  This may be confusing and isn't perfect, but I need to purge.

There has been this ongoing issue with my mother, but it has recently come to head when she was taken out of her house by ambulance Tuesday morning with chest pains.  Turns out she was having an atrial fibrillation that lasted for hours.  This on it's own is not the end of the world.  Unfortunately this is the rotten cherry on the poop sundae.

My mother, who is mentally ill but won't get help, has been living an episode of Hoarders.  She can't take care of herself but has refused to sign a power of attorney.  She doesn't take her medication even though she's diabetic, has high blood pressure, has short term memory loss from a severe head trauma in 1995, degenerative bone disease in her neck and spine and a heart condition with three stents procedures within the last two years.  Her diet consists of junk food and sugar.  She has cats living in her basement that have been using the house as a giant litter box.  Her refrigerator and basement are bio-hazards, and I wish I could say that was a joke, but it's not.  She recently flipped her lid and spent every penny she has on mail away catalogs to the tune of over $15,000.

Yeah, you read that correctly.  My mother ordered $15,000 worth of shit from catalogs.  Anything good, you ask?  No.  It was all from Miles Kimball, Oriental Trading, The Vermont Country Store, Hale Groves and Fingerhut to name a few.  It was $15,000 of Made in China.

When did we discover this little nugget?  The day before Thanksgiving.  The first Thanksgiving I was having with my crazy ass family because my brother-in-law is in Afghanistan.  I went against my better judgement and own personal wishes and had a holiday meal with my highly dysfunctional and incredibly mean family.

Do you know how hard it is to eat turkey when you're trying not to kill  your mother and/or sister (Cleo)?  Hard.  Really fucking hard.  But I put on my big girl Betty pants and did it.  This was the beginning of this recent crisis, but really it's one big ongoing crisis due to my mother's mental health condition.

My mother spent all that money, but did she pay the taxes on the house?  No.  Has she paid her electric bill in months?  No.  Does she open her own mail?  No.  I've been finding piles of unopened mail all over her house. Her house that is a cluster fuck of cheap shit and boxes.

My mother has been living on a very limited budget for years.  She was disabled by an accident in 1995.  She fractured her skull, torn an artery in her head, had a blood clot and almost died.  There was some brain damage as a result of all of that.  She lost a lot of her short term memory, but it also compounded her mental illness.  She just recently has come into some more money when my father filed for disability after having cancer and started collecting his pension.

 My older sister (Cleo) has consulted with Alzheimer's groups, my brother (The Prince) with an elder attorney and I have consulted a friend with Public Health Nursing.  We all agree that she can not continue to live like this.  She isn't able to make her own decisions.   Unfortunately it's not that easy to prove incompetence so we're stuck trying to get my mother to agree to help or spend upward of $6,000 to try and make a go of it within the court system. 

My mother is bipolar, but is undiagnosed because she refuses to seek help.  She was hospitalized during one of her manic swings when I was 15 years old.  We had to call the police on her.  (At 15 I had to strong arm my 25 year old sister Cleo to make the call or I would because my younger brother and sister were stuck in that house with her.  They escaped to the neighbors house and called us.  Seriously, why was I the adult in that moment?)  My mother had walked over a mile on a country road to the local bar, gotten drunk, walked home, got a few knives and my dad's guns and said she was going to kill my father when he walked in the door.

When the police showed up she assaulted an officer and was put on a 72 hour psych hold.  Unfortunately when you piss off the cops they put in the bad place where you look sane by comparison.  It didn't help that everyone went to bat for my mom convincing the doctors that it was a one time thing.  This shopping spree is just another manic episode, only it's a really big one this time.

This is all enough, but it's not everything.  When you grow up with a crazy mom and an alcoholic dad there are no chances to escape without "issues".  I have four siblings and we all have issues.  Lilith, my oldest sister, who is also probably bipolar and is a drug addict, isn't in the picture.  We all had to cut her off because of her lies and craziness.  My second oldest sister, Cleo, is really dysfunctional.  She was one of my mom's favorite children so she has entitlement issues.  She has terrible anxiety and is highly sensitive and no matter what can always make it about her.  My brother, The Prince, is the Sun in my mother's universe.  He has major entitlement issues and will never believe anything bad about his sainted mother.  My youngest sister, Freedom, just wants to hide.  She becomes easily overwhelmed and just shuts down.

Beyond that we all have our own issues with each other.  Specifically to this situation The Prince and Freedom didn't want Cleo having sole power of attorney.  They don't trust her decision making abilities for various reasons.  (My opinion is that she is my mother's enabler and allows my mother to manipulate her.)

Me?  I could not give a fuck.  My mother was emotionally and mentally abusive toward me my whole life.  I was her favorite whipping post.  She loved to take her anger at my father out on me.  When I was 18 she raged at me, chased me out of the house and as I was pulling out of the driveway I saw her throwing all my belongings out of my bedroom window.  When I came home, which I had to or she would have found me, she made me pick all my stuff up off the lawn by myself or I would be punished.  After my parents divorce she let her boyfriend verbally and emotionally abuse me.  (Seriously, what mother lets any man tell her teenaged daughter that she needed to get up off her fat ass and/or move her fast ass more often?  Oh right, mine.)  She also let another grown-up male friend of hers verbally abuse me.  She never said or did anything.  When my brother punched me or threw things at me she would tell me not to piss him off.  Nice, huh?

When she had her accident I dropped out of college, got a job, supported the household, took care of my disabled mother and helped Freedom with her final years of high school.  I did this the ripe old age of 20 and all by myself.  My older sisters lived in other states and my brother was in college.  I worked overnights so I could cart my mother to all her various doctor's appointments and so I could be available for my sister.  Three years later when my mother seemed able to care for herself I moved to Florida to be with Wahoo - my saving grace and person who taught me how to be loved.

Two years later we moved back to New York to find my mother needing help.  Her house was a cluttered disaster, her finances lacking and her not able to care for herself.  We moved in and went to work.  We helped her pay her bills and took care of the house.  (Cleo lived about 6 miles away and insisted that my mother was fine.  Enable much?  Why yes, yes she does!)

Those two years are some of the worst years of Wahoo's life.  He was raised by Ward and June Cleaver.  He wasn't used to someone ranting and raving during fits of rage.  He wasn't used to someone making up their own reality or sudden bouts of paranoia.  He wasn't used to someone who had an unbelievable capacity for cruelty.  Not to him of course.  God no!  She would be sweet as pie to him, but she'd abuse the fuck out of me.  At 25 and 26 years old I still didn't know better.

My role in this family has always been as a caretaker.  When I was 17 our house was burning down I dragged both my brother and mother out of a fully engaged house fire.  That has always been where I found worth for myself by taking care of them.  I was only as good as my last favor or deed.  My job was to please those who were worth more and who deserved more than I did.  How fucking warped? 

(Over the last 6 years I have gone through great lengths and substantial costs to alleviate myself of that role and those feelings.  My therapist and I have made tremendous in-roads on all this.  I am a more confident person.  I have no fear speaking my mind or not being accepted.)

Back to the drama at hand.  We had a brief window of opportunity on Wednesday.  My mother, scared from her recent health scare, was agreeable to signing a power of attorney.  We all agreed that we should jump on this opportunity.  I called a friend from high school who is a local lawyer and told him what I needed.  Poor guy pulled himself out of his sick bed (stomach virus) to do this for me in less than 24 hours time.  He also drew up a Healthcare Proxy.  When Cleo and I discussed this Power of Attorney we agreed that we didn't care who got it.  It was important that we get it and it made sense that she or I did because we live closest and do what needs doing.

When I spoke with the attorney he asked if both Cleo and I would like to be co-agents on the POA.  He suggested that we work in tandem.  We'd make decisions together and have equal responsibilities.  Keeping my brother and younger sister's wishes in mind I said yes.  I made that choice against my own best interest and desire.  I put myself out there to keep the family peace.  The lawyer also suggested that we list a back-up person.  I agreed and said that my brother would work.  I thought this important since he lives 3 hours away and my mother goes down state to visit him and my aunt, who lives about 30 minutes away. 

I called Cleo and told her this as she was arriving at the hospital to discharge my mother.  I explained that the attorney had given me the option and that I thought it was a good one.  He was giving us his legal advice and I found it sound.  She didn't sound happy and told me she would see what mom said. 


Perhaps you're asking yourself the same things I was asking myself.  We're letting the crazy lady have control of the decision?  Didn't we all agree that she wasn't in her right mind?  Who's really driving this ship out of crazy town cause it feels a lot like we're making a U turn!

What did I get in return  for my gesture?  A whole lot of bullshit.  Cleo called back and said she was going to be the only one with POA.  She insisted that the POA, which was completed by this time, be changed according to our mother's wishes.

At this point I'm at the edge.  My friend is sick and working on something for me because he's a generous soul.  (Of course he's billing us, but he went a few extra miles because we've known each other since we're 6 years old!)  I've had him draw up these papers based on his legal advice, my other siblings wishes and common motherfucking sense.  I'm trying so hard to make everyone happy because this situation affects every relationship I have with my siblings, nieces, aunts, uncles and cousins.  My mother I can live without, and do so quite happily, but the rest of my family? 

Cleo, who I have defended to my younger siblings, lashed out at me.  She accused me of trying to take away my mother's choices because my mother chose her.  She told me that the younger two turned me against her, that she saw this coming and that she never wanted to speak with me again. 

I then told her to remove me from all legal documents because I was done, and that I wanted nothing to do with this dysfunction and insanity.  Did it turn out that way?  No.  My poor friend, per my sister and mother's request, drew up new documents and called me as he was walking to the local diner to meet them.  He did this because he works from home and he didn't want to expose them to his germs.  I went and signed as a back-up so as to not inconvenience my friend.

Am I going to act as an agent of that document?  Absolutely not.  I sent them all an email and then called both  younger siblings.

I have cried buckets and buckets today.  Angry tears.  Sad tears.  Hurt tears. Old tears.  New tears.  I cried before, during and after.  I cried in the car while Wahoo was driving us home from the store.  I sobbed in the shower.  I cried on the phone with Wahoo when he called to say goodnight.  (I'm dog sitting at a local Inn for Inn's owner.  Luckily we don't have any guests right now.  Could you imagine?  Oy!)  I've cried while writing this.

When something like this happens it triggers all the old abuse.  I have flashbacks that I can't control.  I'm not sure if this is a PTSD response or what.  The older stories that I shared above have been ricocheting around in my mind.  All the old feelings of being unlovable and being worth less than others try to take over.

Something that's making this slightly worse are my holiday plans.  Wahoo and I are driving to Indiana and Kentucky to spend the holidays with his family.  Dealing with this and knowing that I'm going to witness first hand a loving, caring and functional family hurts.  It reminds me of what I never had.  It cruelly forces me to ask the question:  Why couldn't I have had a little of that?  

In the past, I probably would have isolated myself.  I wouldn't have talked as much about it with Wahoo.  It's hard to explain it to someone whose parents think they walk on water.  There is a certain amount of shame involved.  I felt like if I tell him why my family doesn't love or respect me then he'll see the light.  I'll be revealed and he'll leave.  Logic and rationale don't matter in these moments.

My therapist once told me that by doing this I was continuing my parents abuse without them having to lift a finger.  That stopped me in my tracks.  I saw it all in a new light.  Did it magically go away?  No.  Just like anyone in recovery it's something I will always struggle with. 

Now I'm a lot more open about it all.  To Wahoo's credit that man listens to hours of it.  He watches the tears with nothing but support and love.  He gives and gives and gives.  He also refrains from hurting anyone, which is down right miraculous, because I'm having a hard time.

I actually told my brother today that it was either my tears or someone else's blood.  He quickly agreed that crying was OK. 

So that's my long, sad story.  I've have learned my lesson, again.  How many times before it sticks?  Hopefully this is the last lesson they teach me at my own expense.  I feel like I've taken crazy pills or checked into crazy town.  My therapist says that's normal when you're the healthy one in a dysfunctional family.  It's a blessing and a curse.  Some days more curse than blessing.

**** I've changed names.  Funny enough these are the nicknames I use behind their backs.  Lilith for her darkness and power of destruction, and Cleo is short for Cleopatra - The Queen of Denial.  ****

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Wahoo Short Film

This is Wahoo's entry into a Short Horror Film Contest.  Enjoy. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Thing About Birthdays is....

The thing about birthdays is they are what you make of them.  I used to hate my birthday.  It was a day of complete dread.  It wasn't always that way, but it was how it became.  It wasn't until I learned how to love my birthday that I understood how I came to hate it.

When you're a kid your birthday is a day of unadulterated joy.  It's a day of presents, cake and games.  At some point that all changed, and my birthday become a guaranteed disappointment.  It wasn't about gifts or anything like that.  It was about celebration.  Sometime during my childhood I stopped being celebrated.

Of course I didn't understand it then.  While I was living my way through it I just thought that was how things worked.  I thought that as you grew up birthdays just lost their magic.  That you lost your magic.  That parents kinda fell out of love with their kids a little.  I didn't realize that it was really because my parents marriage was constantly on the rocks and that they just stopped trying. My birthday became something they had to do, and a lot of that came through.  Ain't it grand how crystal clear hindsight can be?

It didn't help that people had a tendency to die around my birthday, or that my parents decided to put the family dog down a week before my 12th birthday.  I can say that my 12th birthday was my worst birthday, ever.  I loved that dog with everything I had.  Pepper was a best friend, guardian, guide and part-time parent.  Something in me died that day, too.

I actually ended up getting into a lot of trouble in school right after my birthday that year.  It's also right around the time that I started to realize what I was made of.  I was a tough kid that could push all those feelings some place deep and stonewall the world. 

Not a healthy way to live, but it was God sent for the next 10 years.  Until Wahoo.

Wahoo always made a big deal about my birthday.  In his family his birthday was always a big deal.  He'd go out of his way to make grand gestures, but in silly ways.  He still does. :) 

At first it was hard for me to get on the same page.  It was a day I waited to see how long it took my parents to call or to see if someone would forget me.  It was a day that I was reminded how unimportant I was, while still trying to put on a happy face for Wahoo. 

But we can't depend on other people for our happiness.  We have to make our own happiness.  I now embrace my birthday.  Years ago Wahoo gave me the ultimate gift:  The Birthday Week.  It's a week of celebration and indulgence.  It's a time of gratitude and splendor.  It's a week that I do things I want to do just for the sake of doing them. 

This year is no different.  Sunday was a family birthday day.  Last night was pizza party night with just the two of us.  Tuesday night will be a movie night.  Thursday will be for book shopping.  Not sure what the rest of the week will be, but it'll be about and for me.

My best birthday was probably my 33rd.  I threw myself a birthday party at our local game hall (kind of a Mom & Pop Chuck E. Cheese, but way more fun!).  I invited all my nieces and nephews and my friends with kids.  I bought tokens for the kids, made cupcakes in various sizes and handed out party favors.  Some of my friends thought it was a little wacky, but those kids had a frickin' blast!  We all did.  It didn't matter that I was the oldest person having a birthday party there that like 20+ years. ;)  

I'm not 100% recovered from all the sad birthdays, but I'm working on it.  There was still a little part of me that waited to see who called and when, but it didn't make or break my birthday.  I make the most of March 28th because it was the day that I came into this world. 

One of my favorite birthday traditions.  Wahoo dumps garbage bags full of balloons on me.  This year he did it at midnight and again upon waking.  It's like being in a balloon bubble bath in bed!  I love it!  This is a photo of me waving from under the pile. :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Horny Nibbler - I Heart Winter Photo Series

The other day on Lucy March's blog I got to pontificatin' about my love of Winter.  While discussing the joys of snowy country lanes and fuzzy deer I thought;  why not do a photo series? 

I'm pleased to present the "I Heart Winter" by Me.  I hope you enjoy my first piece in this series, playfully titled "Horny Nibbler". 

Horny Nibbler

Right up the road a piece (yup, that's a technical rural form of measurement) there is this eclectic little farm with an array of animals.  This fine specimen lives on aforementioned farm, and like his brethren has a penchant for escape. 

I was driving home one day when I happened upon a whole herd wandering on the road.  Luckily I had my trusty camera and I was able to get some great pics - including this one.  The snow is gently drifting down creating one of my favorite kind of days.  There is a sense of magic in the air, and I feel like I'm living in a snow globe. 

The tree my friend here is nibbling, the yard he is standing in and the house he is in front of is not where he lives.  This is the neighbor's yard.  Luckily, this particular house belongs to a family of Russian circus performers who love animals and are rarely home.  Naughty boy. ;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bestill My Beating Heart...

So it's Valentine's Day.  Wahoo and I aren't real traditional folk.  We're proud of our 13 years of unwed bliss or as I also happily refer to it as livin' in sin.  I've called  him my Life Hostage for as long as I can remember.  We don't exchange gifts, anymore.   We just don't have that kind of relationship. 

Meeting Wahoo was a real turning point in my life.  He was the first person who really saw me.  He was also the first person I ever truly trusted.  The difference he's made in my life is incalculable.

This is a very Wahoo gift or gesture.  We got a late snowstorm on February 13th three years ago.  Wahoo had taken the dog out to play in it, but came back in later with a grin.  He asked me to look out our second story bathroom window.  I thought he wanted to show me their play prints, but found a love note instead.  :)

Wahoo's medium for this piece of artwork was snow on road.  I can not even tell you how big this was or how long it took him, but three years later it still makes my heart do funny things.

I'm not a fan of florist flowers.  LitDiva did a great post about a week ago about receiving flowers at work and the sordid implications of such a gesture.  I must say that I agree with her.  When we first met I told Wahoo if he sent me flowers I'd punch him right in the mouth.*  His reply was a simple "good to know".   

Does that mean Wahoo has never given me flowers?  No.  The flowers Wahoo brings home are hand picked wild flowers or he plants in them in our flower garden - where he tends to them for the duration of the growing season.  

I see a lot of couples use days like today to make up for the other 360 days that aren't birthdays or holidays.  They buy flowers and "romantic" gifts.  They go out to dinner and make all the right sounds and motions.  I just don't know how they do it.

I'd rather be with someone who makes sure I have a shoveled path to a cleaned off car, surprises me with snowy love notes, does the dishes because he knows I don't like to, doesn't insult my pride (and inflate his own ego) by "jumping to my rescue", tends to my flower gardens (minds out of the gutters, ladies), opens the car door for me, I can laugh with or just makes me feel like a treasure on a Wednesday in April. 

There are times I think it might be nice to cave to society's vices, but then that Wednesday in April happens and I know that I'm the luckiest damn girl in the world.

Happy V Day!

i carry your heart with me 
e.e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) 
* I had a bad experience with a guy who sent me flowers.  Long story short....  I don't like gettin' flowers.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Luminate Your Winter World

I live in a rural area of Upstate NY.  Each Christmas Eve community volunteers set up luminaries on our country roads.  It's a beautiful tradition that I look forward to each year.  A few years ago I decided to place luminaries along my walk to contribute to the community's efforts.

Volunteers save up plastic gallon jugs, usually milk jugs, to set along the road side.  Instead of using plastic I decided to use recycled glass jars.  I saved up my Newman's Own sauce jars to use, but you could use any glass jar of your liking.  Jelly and jam jars come in all shapes and sizes now and would make beautiful luminaries.

I have also made luminaries out of white paper lunch sacks.  You could use any small paper sack I like to use white for it's versatility.  You can leave the paper sacks plain or decorate them.  I've done both with great results.

I like to use glass jars because you can fill them with candies.  During the Christmas holidays I've used peppermint candies.  Not only do the candies look great, but my walk smells minty, too!  On Halloween night I've used candy corn, which makes the outside of my house smell sweet.  The kids love it!

Luminaries can be done anytime of year, but I especially love them in winter.  I love seeing the flame as it lights the dark night while balancing on snow.  It's like magic.

Luminaries are also a great way to dress up your outside for special occasions such as dinner parties or cocktails, but it's great for no other reason than to add a little magic to an otherwise ordinary night.  ;)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fight like a Lady...err...girl!

"Fight like a girl" is a breast cancer campaign, and we thought we'd put our own spin on it.  Wahoo's pretty in pink to show his support for Kara, and the sign is a play on his last name.  

How many guys would don a skin tight pink shirt and allow their captor girlfriend post it around Facebook?  He rocks. :)

Thank you for keeping Kara and her family in your thoughts.  Every vibe counts!  :)