Saturday, April 7, 2018

Turning Points

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. I wasn't feeling quite up to par, evidenced by just an overlay of exhaustion. We got up and Paul made me this delicious breakfast, complete with fried quick-bread donuts made with duck eggs (he called them duck nuts.... thank God they tasted good enough to get past that image). Then we basically slept again, made an obligatory effort at fun in the guise of shopping and going out to eat, and finally came home and called it an early night.

A gift from my daughter-in-law....who truly gets me.
Truth be told, I'm not that enthused today either. Paul left for work about 6 am, and when I got up at 8-something to go release the ducks and gather eggs, it was a cold and windy MF outdoors! So it will take some real effort to make anything at all of this day! Right now I'm thinking through what's absolutely necessary and watching one of the Ma and Pa Kettle movies.

It's been a hellacious year. It's been a hellacious couple of years. The whole presidential campaign, awful enough on its own but for me following sequential losses of 3 of my dogs, then losing what I had thought of as real connection with parts of my family over POLITICS of all things.... I watched the TV and Facebook just explode with hatred and condescension where once there was fun and the excitement of reconnecting with family and friends. I felt the losses keenly, one after another, until I was just so near the bottom emotionally that I THOUGHT it was the bottom.

Then my uncle died. Killed his wife and then himself. The lowest place I've ever been, and that's no lie. I've been divorced 3 times, had a couple of break-ups that were greater losses than even the divorces, been excommunicated, watched my therapy dog hit by a car in front of me, had kids rebel and separate themselves from me. But losing Brann Alan completely wiped off the last speck of dust between me and the bottom and made me ONE with the bottom. Opened cans of worms that have been wriggling around in the background for all the years I've been alive, and a few before that. An old family wound ripped open, a new rift trying to sort memorials and funerals and all that business between our family and that of my uncle's wife. Allies and enemies, and old hurts reopened while new ones bled. There were pieces of me everywhere. There still are.

Doesn't that seem just too damn depressing for a birthday post? I say it all to determine that this will be a year of rebuilding. I've realized I cannot rebuild what exists on the shaky ground of insecurity and pretense, even with those whose approval I crave. So I am and will be only me. I have no desire to pick any fight, and I don't rise to too many invitations offered as taunts. I will only be me. Effy Wild says, "My vibe attracts my tribe." So me putting out safe, shallow vibes was just surrounding me with shallow relationships that couldn't withstand the testing of hard times. 

Well I'm 50 now....and fuck that! God made me me. And that's who'll be climbing out of the well of despair I found myself in. Being openly desirous of certain relationships has already put some people off that I thought were my tribe...and that's a little distressing and feeds my little insecurity gremlin. But it's also just true. I didn't push anybody away by being fake. And as I begin to meet those who are truly my people, I realize that hey, my tribe can take it. We are badass. And sometimes we are over-exposed and need to go unpeople for a while. And then reconnect for awhile, and then unpeople.... rinse and repeat. People need community and privacy and they need to be safe in either case to seek what they need.

I feel like there are deep shifts and rifts happening all around, for the better AND for the worse. Guns are becoming a factor in disagreements and expression of unhappiness. Women are reclaiming their power in a way that isn't all about castrating men. The religions and spirituality of the world are able to see each other more for what they are (thanks to the internet and more broad-minded television programming) and less for what our "church" or preacher or even parents tell us they are. We can see each other striving to find truth even while we can clearly see others trying to suppress it. The earth is moving and shaking and those loose, ungrounded beliefs that we built upon are falling into the cracks, leaving visible what really holds us together or tears us apart.

I'm a little bummed not to be in my 40's anymore. But hello 50. Are you ready for me?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

To gun, or not to gun.....why is it even a question?

For most of the nation, this month's discussion started at a little church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. For me and for my family, it started Halloween night, when my uncle did the unthinkable. He shot and killed his wife, and then himself. Just finding the link to post here led me to read it and find new information that I hadn't found before.... she had multiple gunshot wounds.

I guess that was part of the "denial" phase of my grief. I hung onto the hope that he'd fired one shot, a warning, a threat even...and that it had killed her and he had killed himself in shock and remorse. Oh God. So, so, so full of despair. The only light moments I've had were when drinking, either visiting with family or on the phone....but then the next morning in addition to the return of the horror, I have the shame of having imposed or interjected myself into somewhere I don't actually belong. Now I'm past the shame of it, because I can see in myself that I only long to belong to something. I still regret having shown my neediness. But Tara Brach says shame COMES of our need to  and our fear of looking needy, that line between being available and vulnerable, and self-sufficient. The little junior high girl in me shows up again, all insecure.

What a digression that was. You see, my uncle Brann wasn't a typical uncle by any means. He was the product of a marriage between my grandfather, divorced from my grandmother with whom he'd had 5 children, 1 deceased, and his second wife, also a divorced woman with 5 children of her own. Most of these first-family children were grown when Brann was born, and so he was born into my generation, to be surrounded by nieces and nephews who thought of him as "theirs," while the older half-brothers and -sisters weren't sure how he fit into their lives.

As I grew up the feud between the two sides of the family grew, never waned, and to this day, the day before the beginning of the funeral activities, 47 years after Brann's birth and 9 days after his death, that generation of half-brothers and-sisters have me fit to be tied how we will make it through these services with any semblance of honor or dignity. The only peace I find is truly in not speaking aloud to anyone of anything. So all the words and wordless waves of emotion just swirl around inside me. When they become too great and I start making small yelps that slip out aloud, I take a Xanax and wait quietly until I become again "comfortably numb."

So this event transpired the night of Halloween, and I was told about it the following night. That was Wednesday. After a couple of days of hysteria, I got in my truck and made an escape for my haven, our under-developed farm-to-be outside Floresville, Texas. On my way, my Dad called to offer me comfort but then the subject of the other side of the family came up and I was caught again in that place of grief and anger and enmity that I wanted no part of. I finally arrived (having stopped and bought a bottle of Jack Daniels), had 2 or 3 drinks, slept well that night and most of the next day. At some points I woke up and checked my phone for messages, Facebook, funeral updates. At one point I tried to post something and my phone wanted to post my location as "Sutherland Springs, TX." So later when all the reports began coming in about the shooting in the church I realized just how close we had been to this new tragedy.

Finally I come back home and find all the usual polarizing arguments about gun control and I'm just astounded at the insensitivity of people to human loss and human need and human frailty. Why on earth did my uncle, with whom I'd climbed trees and snuck cigarettes and beer in my youth, consider picking up a gun part of a quarrel? Why did this other man decide upon taking a gun into a place of worship, a place where we expect to find peace and comfort and even release of painful events of the week.... WTF??

Something has fundamentally changed. And I'm too grieved to make sense of it. And too overwhelmed to actually think.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Out of Proportion?

When you deal with depression in the form of feeling chronically and helplessly unworthy, you (hopefully) learn to praise yourself for even the smallest of accomplishments, and you eventually train yourself to see them better instead of glossing over them and heading straight for the things still undone.

Today I am keeping my 2 granddaughters, which is in itself a big deal for me because it falls outside what I can deal with by myself for a full day. Today is only partial and didn't require my attention starting at 5 am (their mom got a late start due to issues with Hurricane Harvey), so I'm only just now getting tired and brain fuzzy.

At lunchtime I fixed them chicken, noodles, and broccoli. Like, a real meal. And I sat down and ate with them. When you suffer for hours on end believing you're just not up to par, that's a big win. So while being on my own case for not having done dishes yet, I keep patting myself on the back for that win. And yes, I stopped doing dishes to come post that. But that's part of making the win count...I just want to share it.

If you feel like you're not getting enough done and that that makes you inadequate or unworthy, look for those little wins and celebrate them. Bear witness to your effort however you might think others would "rate" it. Perhaps it's an exaggeration, but so is the punishment of beating yourself up for the things you haven't done. Fair is fair.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Reblog! Vinegar Hill Charlottesville

Coming out: The White Supremacy edition

**please note that the big white block in the middle of this article (and it's rather an ironic thing that it's a big white block....) was originally United D@ughter$ of the Con7eder@cy but without the symbols. Somehow they managed to get themselves censored out of this post. Freedom of the press indeed.

Image of Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Image of Statue of Adolf Hitler standing in in Berlin.

Oh wait. It was decimated in 1945. It no longer stands there. And guess what? It wasn't replaced with a shiny new one. I wonder why?

The image on the top stands as the reminder the world needs. And we don't need a statue of Hitler to remember who was responsible or what evils were perpetrated.

I hate applying these same standards to Robert E. Lee, because I'm a southerner and I have held fast to my southern heritage as something to be proud of. I've downplayed any complicity in the fact that many of my ancestors kept slaves because "everyone did." I've researched numerous ancestors who were actually Confederate soldiers, and with that information I was qualified to join the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and even attended one of their meetings. I never finished the paperwork and I marked it down to being too busy, but that wasn't really the truth.

For years I've justified being proud of Confederate ancestors by declaring that they fought for what they believed in, and besides had I been alive at any point during the years of slavery, I would have objected to it just as I presently object to abortion. I've therefore washed my hands clean of something I never really sullied them in to begin with. 'Sall good, right?

But it's not. The reason I never completed the UDC application process was the racism evident at the one meeting I attended, where there was a lot of conversation that included the nearly but not quite whispered words "coloreds" and "Mexicans," as if the "colored and Mexican" waitstaff around the edges of the room couldn't hear. And really, it was irrelevant if they did because they were just The Help. It was if The South was still alive in that room, and I didn't say a GODDAMN WORD against it or even about it. That was 8 or 9 years ago and I didn't even tell my husband about it until last night. So much for asserting I would have been outspoken in the way-back-when.

Well in order to CHANGE we have to speak the truth, confront it, dig it out, and bear witness to it. Let me tell you, it takes the indignation and self-righteousness right out of you. We get so angry when our past is questioned, and usually that's a fast recovery for the pang of fear we feel first. But when you just let the fear come ahead on, and name it, and bear witness to it...."_______ happened," something else happens.

I know. I did it. I'm doing it. I'm saying out loud that my lily-white DNA matches me to many, many Black Americans, well-known ones and not-so. It's not because of "diversity." It's because they and I share ancestors who raped their slaves, and I own that. What's more, I own that I myself have harbored a little white supremacy all along. It's wicked, it's there....and I know it! Now I can begin to change. Now I can begin to change.

Now we have the opportunity to raise monuments that show the whole story and the true story in one place, and how it's shaped us and how we'll use that truth to shape the future, even if they are only in our hearts or on our blogs and Facebook pages.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

It's become so clear that

my views and observations and opinions are not welcome on Facebook. At least by about half the people I know, and in most cases respect. The introduction of an idea outside the dogma of one's political or religious bent is just plan HERESY and is attacked with fervor and I can almost feel the spittle coming from their mouths as the words fly onto the screen.

I was told today that I have "changed", and "not for the better." To my mind, I've not changed but am currently and constantly changing, and I refuse to keep it a secret. My journey is MINE, to document and comment as I see fit, and to draw lines that restrict abusive words and behavior aimed my direction. 

So as the theme of my posts over the last year have been based on the idea of my "coming out" on matters big and small, I've just deleted everything before that and move forward with that idea. I hope to develop a following simply because there are matters that, when put into the arena of civil discourse, can be discussed in ways that benefit everyone who happens across it, especially if they add their own voice. Not their anger, hatred, piety, dogma, or bigotry. Because I will shut that shit down quicker than you can say SHARKNADO!