Devil’s Backbone (Again)

Some shots from Devil’s Backbone…

Also, had this on my mind tonight:

You don’t know what someone is dealing with…what they’re going through. Sometimes a person can be confident and also anxious, look healthy but be sick, look happy and be miserable, look good but feel ugly, act hopeful but feel hopeless, smile and be broken, or never smile at all and be happy… You don’t know. So unless you ask, don’t judge. Don’t assume. Sometimes a person you see every single day or think you know very well can be fighting battles you know nothing about.

Be kind.

It’s Mine, Not Yours…

We live in a society where it’s become more important to look cool and APPEAR happy on social media than it is to be a genuine person. That said, let me just start this post off with the main point and get it over with:  I am unbothered by how bothered people (apparently) are that I have deactivated my Facebook profile.

If it’s that important for people to discuss amongst themselves, to speak ill of it, to assume that it has something to do with them (apparently, several people decided that I had just blocked or removed them and that it was something personal to them), or to assume that my disappearance there (again – it’s not like I don’t take random social media breaks – clearly I take long hiatuses here, too, if you look at my post schedule for the last few years) has something very defining to say about the state of my mental health as though I don’t share openly about not only my mental health but my entire life EVERYWHERE: it’s just not that deep. It’s really not.

Neither my very open sharing nor my random complete vanishing acts are that deep. It’s not a plot, a ploy, or a campaign for or against anything. It’s just me being me, just like for the majority of everyone else it’s just them being them. It’s just being real. Authentic. Me. ((internal scream))

This post is for THOSE people – because those people will be people who know about this blog – and anyone else who ever negatively reacted to or spoke about a person they knew who decided to be “weird,” “mental,” “sensitive,” or viewed as otherwise abnormal because the person – GOD FORBID – deacctivated, deleted, hid, or removed a social media profile.

Honestly. Get over yourselves.

I have long had the open opinion that social media is the devil more than the angel in the “devil/angel/shoulder” triad. I’ve always been super verbal about this. I have also, however, always been a person who subjugated myself to the BS that social media tends to inevitably be and bring because I often feel as though I MUST meet the social requirements of family and friends who “won’t see or know what is going on with the boy” or “in my life” if I’m not on (specifically) Facebook (because, you know, THAT is the one EVERYBODY uses).

Admittedly, and especially during the time that my mom was sick or during times when I’ve had a lot going on emotionally during COVID and isolation, I have spent a lot of time on the book of faces sharing my thoughts and baring my soul. It’s easy to do when you keep a limited friends list (mine has been between 50 and 60 people, mostly family for a few years now).

It always starts the same way when I get back on the social medias: I reactivate or rejoin so that I can be in these groups (mostly private ones) for support around certain causes (with mom it was dementia, and I’ve also been heavily active in other groups about everything from specific mental health issues like anxiety and depressions to coping with alcoholism to photography to coping mechanisms and grief to writing prompts to cleaning tips and online, chronological recipe roledexes)…but I ALWAYS end up wanting to educate my f-list about things or share with people that I THINK are close and real friends (and let’s be fair – 80% are) only to end up offending someone because I have an opinion, EVEN if they agree with the opinion but don’t think it is something I should share on the interwebs.

So, now that an entirely too long preface to the fruit of this post (despite the fact that I started this post with my main point) is finished – clearly, my long form writing is out of practice – let me share with you this glorious, foggy Sunday morning (where I am) my list of 5 things that I have considered at length over recent days and feel that every person should remember (or be reminded not to forget if they haven’t already forgotten these things):

1. Social media is preferred by most to be an illusion of a FAKE existence/reality and you can’t be a genuine and 100% authentic person on social media without being punished or judged by SOMEONE at SOME POINT. End of story.

2. Nobody cares. It sounds apathetic, but it’s true. The majority of people on public social media (not your close friends on your private posts, necessarily) DO NOT CARE about anything you post unless it is a picture of something they find aesthetically pleasing or that they think is hilarious (think, for the most part, kittens and other baby animals). They do not want to read words and they do not care to expand their mind or expound on their thoughts (or yours). Personally, I even (and, frequently) get insulted for USING WORDS, big and small, too much on social media. Go figure, right? ((dry laugh))

3. If you already struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety or personal issues like lack of self-esteem, self-confidence or self-love, SOCIAL MEDIA WILL MAKE THOSE ISSUES WORSE and contribute to your pain more than it will help you to face your demons and grow (again, in some cases people have used social media to overcome certain fears and issues, and there are some wonderful private groups on social media and many sites and forums online that are incredibly helpful for some people, but for the most part it (public social media) is not a safe or healthy place for the already struggling mind/psyche).

4. Just like in real life (haha), people do not want you to genuinely love them, genuinely try to get to know them, genuinely take interest in them as an individual human being, or genuinely give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to what shreds of truth and actuality they share on social media. They just want a lot of likes and compliments.

And, on that same note, those SAME people will be the people who ALWAYS pop up in your comments with some negative or completely abject and contradictory (to their own actual existence – because they’ll basically say that something is OK for them but not for anyone else) stance on posts that (again) really aren’t that deep. “Opinons are like assholes, everybody has one,” and if you don’t want to be shit on? If you’re going through a period where you are feeling less than or a time during which your skin is pretty thin? Stay off of social media.

5. Finally, the last but main point to remember when it comes to being on social media in 2020: at the end of the day, no matter how much you fight and bleed and protest and try to explain to the world through words and pictures what is wrong and how to fix it when it comes to political and social issues? The best way to accomplish that is STILL and always will be grassroots movements and activism, whether through writing or speaking, and otherwise making your voice heard in your own local communities and branching out from there.

You’ve got to remember that social media is just a bunch of noise at this point – a bunch of people with the intellectual advancement of a kindergardener (smart and not so smart kindergardeners) all yelling and raising their voices at once to share opinons, not facts, without first raising their hands and asking questions or hearing the objective opinons and voices of reason from people who know what the hell they are actually talking about.

Sorry, Trump fans, but it’s very much like Trump sitting in a briefing with Dr. Fauci to be briefed about COVID, not paying a lick of attention because he already has his mind made up and believes that he knows everything and doesn’t need one of the top infectious disease doctors in the world to help him (depsite the privilege that that is, in reality), and then getting on the podium in front of the whole nation and rambling on about how he is the most terrific person ever doing all the greatest and most wonderful things, playng down COVID in the few words that he uses to mention it, making a few insults about the intelligence of everyone in the nation for being anxious or afraid concerning COVID, calling leading doctors and professionals unintelligent and telling people to drink clorox (he says it was taken out of context, but…uhhhhh), going back to talking about himself for a bit longer, and then ending on a note of, “you’re stupid, this is not reporting, you’re a moron because you care about facts and not how wonderful I am, sit down, you’re fake news….”

Seriously. That’s what social media has turned into…

And, that’s why I needed a break from it – espeically now, during all of these insane election happenings… I would rather read a 20-minute read time blog post that educates me about something than look at your pointless meme about Trump’s tan or Biden’s age (and information skewing memes about dementia when you’ve never lived with, cared for, or been a caregiver to a person who actually HAS dementia), or waste my time trying to talk to people who are SO comitted to seeing the world in literal black and white and not understanding that there is SO MUCH GREY AREA and so much we can learn from each other’s thoughts and experiences.

Ultimately, for the people who inspired this post? My social media is mine, not yours. And yours is yours and no one else’s, so you should do with yours whatever you well please to do with it but don’t forget the realities shared above and don’t let it stress you out too much…and if it does or it begins to? Write it out elsewhere – in a blog, or even a text to me or a close friend. I mean, really – talk it out, whatever thing is bothering you. You do what you do, but don’t let social media have SO MUCH CONTROL over your life.

Sigh… I hope you’re all doing well. Thank you for listening to (reading) my rant. Please, share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. And? Look for photoblogs and random fun things from me in the coming hours and days. I went so far as to literally run away from my house I was so sick (physically) and stressed out. Minicay = photoblogs for your enjoyment, coming soon…

Excerpts from counseling chats, #1

The last few years culminated into feeling like a dream for the last several months – I have literally survived, I realize now, by living in a whole non-reality, on autopilot, and there are very few everyday experiences and mundane daily tasks that I do now without being in an almost confused state. Like, “what is this?” or, “how did I ever do that…I don’t remember…”

I am beginning to realize that I actually exist – and can exist – as a being separate from continuous worry and fear about/for my mother, and I have completely forgotten how to be that person. I still wake up some mornings, if I’m not already at my moms, with this programmed state of, “I have to go check on my mother,” being the first literal and conscious thought in my head. Even if I stay there, which I haven’t been able to peacefully do yet, I find myself in the mindset that I have to get up every few hours to check and feel guilty when I wake up and think I forgot to set alarms to wake up.

Everyone says, “it’s got to be such a relief, though, since she died…” It is, in some ways. But in others, it is the same, just different, level of stress to readjust to “normal,” which is difficult now anyway because WHAT IS NORMAL in a world of COVID? I focus myself on cleaning and doing what needs to be done before anything else (music, photography, etc.) when the things I used to do I was only able to do mindlessly, really – just as a distraction from insanity.

I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone who reads. It has to sound like the ravings of a lunatic mind – but as I’m remembering my intelligent, creative, indulgent, passionate, and subconscious mind I find myself feeling everything from confusion to guilt to elating freedom to even complete blankness and emptiness.

It’s not the grief. Well, it’s partially that but only about 3/4. I don’t know, in this moment, WHAT the word or feeling or experience is. I remember going to through it to some extent after Dorie died and I had been such an integral part of taking care of her, but it wasn’t the same as this, nor was the care.

24/7 worry and anxiety about someone for years, and then 24/7 for months – even to the point of every single daily task they needed to do and then to the point of helping them through every moment of their death…it’s a completely different experience to readjust to existing without that task attached to your back when it was there for so long.

So yeah, you’d think it’d be lighter, more peaceful existence…but it’s actually more like a feeling of chaos. I hope like hell it doesn’t last long. I have too much to do – and, too much I want to do. I assume it will last through and a bit beyond probate because that limits me on the speed at which I can chose to move forward and move on… If it were up to me, I’d snap my fingers and life and the “me” I was “pre-Alzheimer’s parent” would click right back into place.

We don’t get into any state of being in the blink of an eye and we become the next version of ourselves even less quickly, I suppose. That’s been my past experience. So trudge along and get it done, I guess… ((Yawn.))

🤷‍♀️

What the “Bad Apple” Analogy REALLY Taught Me

It might be one thirty in the morning but it is still Sunday, so Reverend Sister Christy is going to preach. We having church.

Today’s topic is: Don’t give up a good apple in your life just because you see a blemish and mistake it for a worm.

Misery may love company. But you know what miserable people really want? To be heard even in their silence. To be cared about even when they’re misunderstood. To be thought of even though they may not want to be seen. Even if they can’t or don’t want to express themselves or respond…they need to know they still matter, not tossed to the side because they or their struggles make you uncomfortable.

Why? Because disconnection is not humanly reasonable even if a human being doesn’t have the ability to express themselves – and all people are not going to express themselves in ways you can understand when they DO express themselves. We are meant to be a collective, supporting each other, even if it’s just with a comforting smile and soft eyes, or a simple, “Hey there, I was thinking about you and I’m here if you need me.”

People don’t necessarily always want or know how to express themselves. They may not necessarily want that. But what everyone wants and needs, whether they express it or not, is to have the option.

So get down off your high horse, Herod Agrippas of the world, and sit down and LET PEOPLE BE EXPRESSIVE in whatever ways they can be even if you can’t understand those expressions – and as long as they’re not abusing you in any way, if you don’t have anything nice to say or don’t know what to say? Just say so.

Stop punishing people just because you have your own issues and double standards, Herod Agrippas of the world. Get rid of those double standards, and if you have your own issues? Work on them rather than personifying them.

I won’t even say “as long as they’re not hurting you,” because you know what? SOMETIMES THE TRUTH HURTS. Abuse is different. But just because someone’s behavior or choices bothers you, or you don’t agree with them, doesn’t make them invalid or constitute a behaviors they should be punished for by someone with their own flaws and faults. NONE of us are perfect – and for all who would argue that the biblical God was, he himself was not perfect and he KNEW that after he screwed up “man” (see https://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/who-is-god/genesis-6/).

Here’s the thing: You aren’t living someone else’s experience. THEY ARE. So be kind in the ways you can be, even if it is to explain to them that you can’t be of help to them. Be thoughtful. Add some good to the world by shutting up and just offering to listen, even if they don’t want to talk. TRUST ME – that matters. It counts. It’s worth the effort in the long term, even if it angers them or seemingly stresses them, if you truly care for them.

No. Don’t give up a good apple in your life just because you see a blemish and mistake it for a worm.

I can’t – and that’s OK.

I can’t, and that’s ok to know and to accept and to feel and to express. That’s what this post is about. I know I haven’t really updated here and none of you will know what is going on in full but basically my mom has been living with me and… Well…

There comes a point where you have to accept what you can not do and stop letting people keep trying to convince you that you can do in their “motivational” ways. Sure, they’re trying to help.

But when I say I CAN NOT DO THIS BY MYSELF I need people to understand something: i am doing this BY MYSELF and it’s not working – and it’s not about not wanting to. It’s not about not believing in myself. It’s not about the inconvenience. It’s not even about my own mental health (though it should be). It’s about LITERALLY not being able to care for someone with these needs BY MYSELF, and raise my son and care properly for him. I’m not sorry that that will always come first. I AM legally responsible for him, he’s a minor. And he can’t help me with this. And…she’s not really even my mother. Never has been, by blood or otherwise.

It’s about debilitating migraines. It’s about health issues I had long before this ever started.

It’s about I PHYSICALLY am not strong enough to help someone who refuses to help me help them – lifting dead weight every five minutes to go to the bathroom? Nope. Can’t handle it. Especially with a migraine. Getting her in the tub? Impossible. So we improvise with bowls of water and a tub chair OUTSIDE the tub. Getting her to eat? Also impossible. Which doesn’t help with her strength issues. Getting her to get out of the bed and sit up without arguing and telling me how disappointed and ashamed of me my dad would be that I am trying to make her do something she doesn’t want to do – on his birthday yesterday, when she knew how upset I was – because she KNOWS what she’s doing and she just wants to hurt me.

This is not the dementia. This is just her being hateful and stubborn, naturally. Does she even have dementia? No. Not according to the doctors. She checks out fine. So this is just an angry, bitter, mean, frail and weak old woman who needs help with physical things 24/7 and is being verbally and emotionally abusive to the only person who can keep her out of the one place she doesn’t want to go – the nursing home.

Can I even get her in a nursing home? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you this much – I’m going forward with trying because the few people who have even dealt with her for a half hour at her home or dealt with her at church or even the beauty shop over the past few years have straight up told me that she is faking a lot of this and how she acts when I’m not around.

When my helping you hurts me to a point where I am literally sick all the time? I can’t help you anymore. And I will no longer try. This is my honest, heartbreaking statement: if she wants to do it her way, I will take her to the hospital and leave her there and refuse to care for her. They can’t put her on the street. I don’t know what they’ll do with her but it’s not my concern – I have NO binding, legal obligation to be responsible for her. Why? Because she won’t LET me – and maybe that’s been a blessing in disguise.

She’s already getting bedsores because she won’t move and wants to lay in piss diapers and fights me to change her. It absolutely ridiculous.

I don’t care about how it looks if I do take care of her or if I don’t. It’s not about that. I don’t want accolades for doing it, and I don’t give a damn if people think I’m horrible for not being able to do it. But I can’t do it. I can’t care for someone with these needs BY MYSELF, and raise my son and care properly for him. I’m not sorry that that will always come first. I AM legally responsible for him, he’s a minor. And he can’t help me with this.

It’s always going to be a never ending battle I’m never ever going to win. I have finally accepted that.

Now. To take more meds and pray my head quits and I can fucking breathe for five minutes without feeling nauseous and debilitated.

I Promise.

“What will matter is the good WE did, not the good we expected others to do. May you listen to the voice within the beat of your heart even when you are tired. And if you can wait for me…like I waited for you…I will be there.”

Bad Days, Good Days

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this in the last couple of days:  At this time in my life it’s not even about ups or downs or moods…it’s about bad days and good days. People say that you can choose to have a good day just by having a positive thought when you wake up, or by praying or meditating when you wake up – all sorts of different things like that, usually involving gratitude for something, even just life itself. I find that extremely difficult some days, and completely untrue on those days, as witnessed by my past couple of posts.

I don’t think that the power of positive thinking is always enough. There is nothing I can EVER do to change things with my mother. I can not cure dementia. I can not change her. I can not change the situation as it is at this time. Same thing with grief – I can not change the fact that my father and my best friend are dead. They are not coming back. In those instances, people will say it’s down to acceptance and that is true. I can get behind that, to some extent, although as most of you know I don’t believe in such a thing as an end to grief…

I was listening to music earlier while I was folding laundry and this song came on called, “Breathe Me,” by Sia. It hit me in my gut like a bad piece of chicken. We can take responsibility all we want to, we can take action all we want to, but sometimes it just hurts. Sometimes we are just lost. Sometimes we are just hurt. Sometimes we are just afraid. Sometimes we are all of those things and more, all at once, and we are completely overwhelmed. That’s where I’ve been.

Yesterday a friend of mine told me, “Now I’m gonna say this and I just want you to listen to me. I don’t want you to use (anything) as a crutch. You’re STRONG. You walk around with a shaved head because you want to! You don’t care what people think…” She went on… So last night I laid in bed, in my pitch black and freezing cold bedroom trying to stave off an impending migraine (unsuccessful, by the way), and I let all she’d said float around in my head. And ultimately, two things stood out to me.

I do have a crutch. It is alcohol. And it is a waste of time – it doesn’t accomplish anything positive, except momentary lapses in the ability to feel things. And, strength is relative. People see different things as examples of strength. The fact this person, who has been through more than I ever imagined when I first met her, completely rebuilt her life and walks around with such an air of confidence even my shaved head is in awe – for this person to say to me, “you are stronger than this. You ARE STRONG,” humbled me in a way that I couldn’t understand. Of course, that led to more thoughts and more considerations and a whole lot of writing in my journal…but I fell asleep knowing that I did not want to drink today.

And I didn’t.

And I don’t know why. I don’t know what changed.

I do know that by lunch time tomorrow I’ll be craving alcohol like the drought ridden fields crave rain…and I don’t know what I’ll do about that. Probably text or call her, or my cousin, or my therapist…maybe go to the feed store and hang out. I don’t know. But I do know this much – if you really want to make a change, you will do it.

I haven’t smoked in over 24 hours, haven’t had a drink in over 24 hours, and the only reason is because I just wanted to see if I could. I didn’t tell anyone until later in the day today, when I was at the feed store. I didn’t keep it to myself because I was afraid I would fail. I kept it to myself because I only wanted it to be about me and what I wanted.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But I do know that I don’t feel the same way I felt a few days ago when I was battling the suicidal ideation and the complete lack of regard for my life, my health, or my Be-ing. I don’t know what changed… I think mostly, it was being seen, and being cared for, and being spoken to in a way that wasn’t at all what I expected.

I always said I would never allow another “Dorie” into my life – or at least that there would never be another her. I think I may have changed my mind…or my heart… You never know who is going to walk into your life, or when.