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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Note to Commentors

Just thought you might like to know, I'd love to have you call, but I'll know it's you if you ask for George. Silly people--of course, that's not really his name.

Phone Conversation 7

Caller: Hey, we've got a lot of water backed up here. I need someone to come out and look at it.
Me: Okay. I'm really quite good at looking at things. I'll be out running errands in about an hour and I'll stop by then, if that's convenient for you.
Long pause...
Caller: Is this George's Plumbing?
Me: No, it isn't. You know, I was just talking with a friend of mine. He says that friendship is fairly easy, it only requires a little bit of thought now and then. I don't necessarily agree with that, because I think a good friendship requires regular maintenance. What do you think?
Caller: Well, mostly my friends and I just go drink on the weekends. But if I need anything, I know they're there for me.
Me: That must be a comforting thought.
Caller: Yeah, it is.
Me: So, do you ever just get together and talk?
Caller: We go camping sometimes.
Me: Hmmm...I'm not a great camper, but I can see how some people might like it.
Long pause...
Caller: I should probably call George's Plumbing.
Me: Well, you did say you had water backed up, so I think that's a good idea. Do you still want me to come look at it?
Caller: You can come look at me.
Me: Thank you. I'll pencil that in on my errand list.
Caller: See you later, then.
Me: Good-bye.

Phone Conversation 6

Tolkien Boy: :D
me: That makes six in the last two days.
TB: Your conversations, recorded, are hilarious.
me: I thought it was funny, too, at first, so I was messing with them. Now I'm getting tired of it. This is the latest conversation:
Me: Hello
Man: Um, is this George's Plumbing and Heating?
Me: No.
Man: Oh. I'm sorry.
Me: It's okay.
Man: um...bye.

Perhaps I should start a new career. I'd be a good plumber, maybe.
TB: Please don't. The thought of you as a plumber is almost overwhelming.
me: Why?
TB: You're far too talented as it is. If you could do plumbing, I'd have no potential skills to bring to the friendship.
me: Wait--friendship requires skills?
TB: No, I'm kidding. All that friendship requires is a little bit of thought, now and then.
me: I completely disagree. I think of friendship all the time. Nonetheless, it still challenges me.

Phone Conversation 5

Me: Hello, you have not reached George's Plumbing. This is not his number, it's mine. Please hang up, recheck the number in the phone book, and dial again.
Caller: Ummm...okay...but I'd rather talk to you, if you don't mind.
Me: Oh, hi Mom. I'm getting so used to the wrong number phone calls, I'm not even checking the caller ID anymore. Not that it would matter on this particular phone. We can't see the readout anymore.
Mom: So, do I have to call back or is it okay if we talk now.
Me: Well, I don't like giving special treatment to anyone, but since you birthed me out, I suppose I can make an exception just this once.
Mom: Sam, you're a little bit disgusting.
Me: I know, but funny. I can hear you laughing.
Mom: It's a combination of bad taste and insanity, something I seem to have passed on to you.
Me: No question about it. Thanks, Mom.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


One of the many contributors to my decision to visit the psyche ward, was a shift in my recurrent nightmares. I've had so much success with directing my dreams, so when they changed suddenly, and without my permission, I didn't know how to proceed. My collaborator in my dream work suddenly became the person within those nightmares who was hurting me. I was distressed and frustrated. It was a huge relief when I was told that this is not an unexpected side-effect of the PTSD, and I could take steps to regain control or choose medication to suppress the dreams.

I spent many hours, one-on-one with a therapist, being instructed and planning steps to change my dreams. One of the things about which the therapist and both psychiatrists were adamant: I had to continue to develop my friendship/relationship with my dream partner, and use his help in guiding the new dream scenarios. There were two reasons for this:
1. People who have PTSD have difficulty fostering and maintaining relationships that have any degree of closeness. If I was able to recover from the feelings I'd been having which made me want to end my friendship, and continue to use that friendship to help me, I'd be on my way to growing beyond this. I'm already an anomaly, in that I've been able to maintain my marriage for many years (I blame SSA). Many people who experience PTSD have multiple marriages and sexual partners. They rarely remain in a relationship long enough to establish emotional intimacy which is vital for good emotional/mental health.
2. My collaborator already has a background helping me deal with it. It took us about three months to make everything work. To find someone else with the desire and willingness to learn about my needs and help me with them would be very difficult--and sort of stupid since it's not necessary.

So I did as I was instructed, and my friend and I have once again embarked on the dream direction journey. But I'm feeling unhappy about it all. I don't like having to rely on anyone, but if I don't do the exercises with him each night, I sincerely regret it when I fall asleep. It makes me feel inordinately dependent, and helpless.

I've been trying to alternate a couple of nights when we do the exercises together, with a couple where I do them alone. This has not been successful.

Once again, I'm getting really tired and discouraged. Honestly, I just want to sleep. I don't want to bother anyone each night, in order to get that rest. I've tried working with Darrin a bit, but he's too close to me, which probably doesn't make sense, but is true, nonetheless.

I'm going to go try this on my own, once again. Wish me luck.

Phone Conversation 4

Me: Hello?
Caller: My kitchen floor is flooding.
Me: Wow, that must be frustrating.
Caller: Yes, will you send someone out? My address is: xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx.
Me: I'm the only one here right now, and I can't come.
Caller: Oh, it's lunchtime. Okay, I'll keep mopping, but will you send someone as soon as they get back from lunch?
Me: Actually, I don't expect anyone until 3:00. That's usually when they get home from school.
Caller: School?
Me: Yes.
Caller: Isn't this George's Plumbing?
Me: No.
Caller: Oh.
Me: Sorry I can't be of more help. Good luck with that kitchen.
Caller: Good-bye.
Me: Good-bye.


Myth Number 1:
I'm just going to do a little bit of counseling, work through the emotional stress I'm feeling, and get back to the my regular routine. I think it will take about four months.

Myth Number 2:
My past is my past. I can make everything better by achieving great things in my future. I don't ever have to look back.

Myth Number 3:
If I'm the best parent I can be, the things that bothered me in my childhood will become equalized, and they won't bother me anymore.

Myth Number 4:
I can forget the things that hurt.

Myth Number 5:
I don't need any help. I can do this on my own. I've been strong my whole life, I will continue to be strong.

Myth Number 6:
I don't need people. They are basically unreliable, and really owe me nothing. There is no one who can care about the things that have happened to me--not even me. Everyone has his/her own life, and that's as it should be. I can get through this without anyone else.

Myth Number 7:
I'm not angry.

Myth Number 8:
I can figure this all out, find a solution, and make everything better.

Talk about delusional. I'm amazing.

Phone Conversation 3

Caller: Hey, is George there?
Me: There is no George at this number.
Caller: This isn't George's Plumbing?
Me: Nope.
Caller: I must have the wrong number.
Me: Yes.
Caller: Can you tell me what this number is?
Me: You dialed it, you would know better that I.
Caller: You don't know your own number?
Me: What makes you think I live here?
Caller: Do you?
Me: Yes.
Caller: So, you don't know your own number?
Me: I do. But I don't give it out to strangers over the phone.
Caller: Oh. Good idea.
Me: I think so. Good-bye.
Caller: Good-bye.

Phone Conversation 2

Caller: Is this George's Plumbing?
Me: No, it isn't, but that does seem to be the question of the day.
Caller: What?
Me: You have the wrong number.
Caller: Oh, sorry. Do you have the right number?
Me: I have the right number for me.
Caller: What?
Me: No, I don't have the number for George's Plumbing. However, I'm assuming it's similar to this one, so maybe if you just start calling, but change one or two numbers, eventually you'll get the right place.
Caller: What?
Me: Or, you could look it up again in the phone book.
Caller: Where do you think I got this number?
Me: Off a restroom wall?
Caller: What?
Me: Good-bye.
Caller: Good-bye.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I've been doing intense research for about seventeen hours now. I took a break to sleep, drive my daughter's carpool, and go running from about 2:00 a.m. till 8:30 this morning. There are so many things I'm learning that I don't want to know. So many things that have significance, that I actually have done and never understood why. Now I understand, but it brings more anger than relief.

Why must I continue to live with the things that were done to me? I have physical trauma, intense loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, self-numbing, self-harm habits, fear of men, fear of sexual relationships...when will it be enough?

Now, as I examine the emotional ramifications of the "mental illness" I'm studying, it seems that there's no end to the damage one person can inflict on another. That hardly seems fair. Please don't tell me that nothing in life is fair. Tonight, I just don't want to hear it.

I took the first steps in the assignments I received at discharge. I contacted those who bore the brunt of my relationship sabotage tactics. I apologized. We discussed ways to strengthen the parts of our relationships that my actions had weakened. I was humbled to have to rely on their ability to forgive and to love me in spite of me. I promised I'd try to never let that happen again. We made a plan to continue better than ever. I don't know what they felt. I felt miserable that I had lost control, been manipulative and paranoid. I felt vulnerable and completely at their mercy. I don't like that.

Stop the cycle. Watch for signs of stress. Use healthy coping techniques.

Exposure therapy, one of the treatments used for people who have PTSD scares the crap out of me.
Exposure therapy is a form of behavior therapy that deliberately exposes you to the very thing that you find upsetting or disturbing. It's especially useful for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. Under controlled circumstances, exposure to the event or things that trigger your obsessive thoughts or traumatic reactions can help you learn to cope with them effectively.

Somehow, this just doesn't seem to be something that I'll find helpful.

Phone Conversation

Caller: Is this George's Plumbing?
Me: I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.
Caller: You're sure?
Me: Last time I checked, yes.
Caller: This is the number in the phone book for George's Plumbing.
Me: What a coincidence. It seems to be my number as well.
Long Pause....
Caller: Could I talk to George?
Me: I suppose you could, if he lived or worked here, which he doesn't.
Caller: Do you have his number?
Me: No. Do you?
Caller: No. Do you need to call him?
Me: You never know. I might need a plumber. I'll go check my faucets. Thanks for calling. Good-bye.
Caller: Good-bye.

Quote of the day

"Who wouldn't want to dig in the sand to the sound of ukele music playing in the background?"

banned 7-up commercial

Monday, May 28, 2007

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

I have it. I don't want it. When I was first told it was mine, I just assumed it was a nice way to say I'd experienced something out of the ordinary--duh! I had no idea that it was an actual illness that anyone can contract. It has symptoms and side-effects and people who have it often become addicted to drugs and alcohol to escape it. I was assigned to watch more than one video about addictions and how to live with them. I told my psychiatrist I didn't feel that would be helpful, since I don't drink or abuse drugs. He said addiction, in this case, refers to any behavior that is harmful, and cited cutting, anorexia, and compulsive exercise. I watched the videos.

I left the hospital with a list of assigned research projects. The one to which I'm supposed to give priority is learning more about PTSD. It doesn't make me happy. Apparently, because of this, I'll be in therapy for the rest of my life. Not once monthly type therapy, but intensive therapy for as long as it takes for me to learn how to cope with the ups and downs in healthy ways. But once I figure out how to be a real person and live, I'll still have to have checks every two to three years to be certain I'm coping healthily and not having flashbacks or uncontrollable nightmares. I'll be checked on my phobias and isolation tendencies, on my family and friend relationships, and outlook on life, in general.

I'm not sure how I feel about all this. For sure, things could be worse. The psychiatrist said that, given the extent and duration of the abuse I've endured, I'm pretty healthy and he said that's because I'm very strong. It makes me want to cry a little bit. I'm not sure why--gratitude? frustration? sorrow? Regardless, life goes on and I intend to enjoy it.

Last night I spent an hour jumping on a trampoline with my kids and their cousins. It beats the heck out of a night in the psyche ward.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beatboxing flute inspector gadget remix

I want to take him home and keep him forever.

Feeling Stressed

pI'm sitting here eating a bowl of corn flakes because I promised I would have something today, and so far I've only had fresh air and sunlight. But I'm feeling some stress, which usually impedes my eating, and feeling a bit triumphant because half the bowl is gone and I don't feel like throwing up--a very good sign.

I've decided that my stress level is above normal today, and I'm giving myself permission to feel that stress for the following reasons:
1. Tomorrow is the last day of seminary. This would not be a problem if I wasn't in love with all my students and wishing I could see them every morning for the rest of my life. And while I understand this is unrequited love, I'm still going to miss them terribly. I think I'll move my running time from lunch hour to 6:15 a.m. to help fill the void this creates.
2. Tonight is seminary graduation. Since the grads are my class, I'm in charge of refreshments. I had a couple of people lined up to help me make food. Both called me last night to let me know they'd decided to leave for their 3-day weekends two days early, thus giving them a real holiday and leaving me to fend for myself. So I've been putting together the food by myself and will continue to do that until the meeting begins. I'm already tired. Plus, one of the people who left me in a bind was my beloved mother. I've decided I need a new one. Any takers?
3. Darrin's father is coming to Utah and has said he needs to see us. He asked if Darrin would take a week off work and we'd just stay the entire time he was there. He offered to pay our hotel bill if we'd do that. However, the kids are still in school and what Darrin's father forgot is that both Darrin and I work, so we won't be able to take that time off. We compromised with the plan to see him over the weekend (Saturday-Monday), and then he's welcome to make a stop at our house on the way home (which won't happen since he's on a flight headed back to the East Coast). So, when I'm all done with seminary graduation I will stay up the rest of the night washing all the clothes that my children have hidden in the twilight zones of their rooms, but decided they must have for a weekend in Utah, and making certain that enough socks and underwear get packed.
4. We will be spending the weekend with Darrin's sister and husband who always seem to be in crisis. Sister-in-law has decided that Brother-in-law, who has been in poor health for the last forty years, is dying. This could be a very long weekend.
5. After my recent unfortunate incarceration, my house is a bit more messy than I can endure. In between making food for the masses, doing laundry, and packing, I'm cleaning. Stupid, I know, but really very necessary in order for me to exist. DJ and Adam underwent training this morning on how to work a dishcloth. They seem to have forgotten the intricacies of such a modern piece of equipment, but after a little practice, I believe they have mastered it. Tabitha pitched a fit because I told her it was more important to me that she be able to walk into her bedroom without needing a machete to chop through the walls of clothes, toys, and trash that have built up, than it was for her to get to school on time. I even suggested she take a day off to see if she could discover the color of her carpet. She is apparently not feeling adventurous today since she left for school in a timely manner leaving the carpet hue a mystery.

While I understand these things are not vitally important, they are, however, causing me extreme stress. I need to go run. I don't think I'll be getting a chance to do so. However, I'm congratulating myself on my corn flakes ingestion. Most people wouldn't consider that progress--but for me, it's huge.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Perhaps I should carry a purse...

I don't. I never have. It just seems to be one more thing that I might misplace, and I prefer pockets.

But AtP and DJ have made a lasting impression on my daughter. DJ fell in love with AtP's manbag/murse, and asked for one for his birthday. So we found a replica complete with the picture of Mao and the Communist propaganda printed boldly in Chinese on the front flap. Tabitha is highly impressed with DJ's new manbag, and DJ doesn't leave home without it.

A couple of days ago I was driving Tabitha to school. She was intently watching a woman who was walking down the street. Tabitha turned to me and said, "Mom, look at that lady. She has a womanbag."

Feminism at its best...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Smart Psychiatrist Man Says...

Smart Psychiatrist Man (SPM) found me "fascinating." Imagine that being said dryly and emotionlessly while being stared at through watery blue eyes peering from behind relatively clean thick glasses. Apparently, after all the testing, and in spite of my family history of mental illness, the only conclusive diagnosis he can pin on me is PTSD, which I already knew I had. There is no residual chronic depression (he says that being sad is different from clinical depression). Schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, Alzheimer's, substance addiction, and clinical depression have high instance in my family--and often those illnesses can be exacerbated by PTSD. It seems, however, that I have none of those, and that my only illness is brought on by trauma/violence in my past. SPM said that was very interesting. He also said that we could treat the symptoms of PTSD with drugs if I would like that. Symptoms would include nightmares and social phobias. I asked if the drugs would be lifelong. SPM suggested that was a possibility. I asked for alternatives. He smiled and said the alternatives require much more work and can be frustrating. He said especially for the nightmares, the work was extremely intense. I asked if he was talking about guided dreams. He said yes, and then used a more official sounding term for what I've been doing since January. I explained to him the process I'd used to control my nightmares, and included the fact that I'd had a partner to help. SPM asked me why I was no longer using my methods, assuming they were no longer effective. I told him that my partner had taken the place of my cousin as my attacker. SPM's smile got larger. He said that whenever crisis occurs in the life of someone who has PTSD, it is normal for that person to feel that a close, safe person is now dangerous--hence the nightmares and other erratic behavior. SPM said he was surprised that Therapist had not taken on the role of attacker in my dreams, but then added that I was a little bit unusual. Thanks.

SPM told me that I could figure out the dreams once again, gave me some preliminary tools to use, and mapped out some guidelines he thought would be helpful. I left that particular session feeling huge relief. I've been consumed with guilt that I would dream such awful things about a loved one--especially since he would never be capable of hurting me in violent ways. I thought I was losing my mind, and I was really sad about the feelings of fear and distrust I was experiencing. The most helpful thing SPM told me was that everything I was going through was normal within the realms of PTSD. He also agrees that I don't need to be on meds for the rest of my life (or at all, if that's my choice), that my actions in the past eight months, especially with directional dreaming and increased social interaction with men (no, I didn't give details of my choice of men with whom to socialize) were proof that I could take control of those things and manage them in my life. He also was firm that I work with a therapist who had a background in dealing with PTSD, so that I'd learn to recognize symptoms and not ignore them to the point where I'd end up back in the hospital.

It's sort of hard to think about this, because I keep believing that if the trauma in my past had not occurred, I'd be really well-adjusted and normal. But then I remember that SPM said that the sum of our experiences contribute to who we are. He mentioned that parts of the psyche evaluations measure self-concept (personal beliefs about self). He said that even though I have lingering doubts about self-worth, I also have a deep belief that I'm of worth--evinced by my desire to make changes and work toward resolution of the emotional distress I'm going through. A person with less self-esteem would feel too defeated to begin, and there would be much time spent building that person to the point where actual work could begin. I don't have to do that preliminary stuff because, as SPM said, I "have a fairly high opinion of [myself], but not an inflated ego-image." That's a good thing. So even though I believe without the abuse experience I'd still be pretty amazing, the fact that it happened and I'm still me is amazing in and of itself.

I thought as I walked into the hospital that I had lost everything I've fought so hard to gain over the past eighteen months. I believe differently today. It was just one more point on the learning curve. My Bishop, Therapist Number Two (TNT), and a couple of nurses all assured me that I'm going to be okay. I believe them.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"And if you claim there is a hell, then we shall meet there."

I am not a good hospital patient.

Well, the first twenty-four hours I was, but as soon as I found the answers that made everything make sense again, life became beautiful...and sort of hilarious. It's impossible to survive three days and two nights in a lockdown mental facility without a sense of humor.

I was provided the following toiletries (none of my own were allowed):
1. toothpaste/brush
2. deoderant (not to be confused with anti-perspirant, which is another thing altogether)
3. a bar of soap
4. hand lotion
5. contact lens care kit
This ensured that I wash my hair with hand soap. Not knowing what else to do, and assuming that it would imitate conditioner (and plus, it smelled like coconut--the only scented thing in the whole place), I used the hand lotion on my hair, as well, and then gave thanks to the Lord that there are no mirrors in the entire ward.

I was issued a pair of scrubs so immense that I could easily have hosted a dinner party inside of them. Imagine Samantha wandering about the psyche ward in a shirt falling off her shoulders, but being too preoccupied with making certain the pants stayed up to care too much about the shoulder thing. Finally, on day two, a male nurse suggested he might be able to find me something a little more attractive--but a men's small is still rather large--only a small dinner party could be hosted inside the new scrubs. Sigh...

Characters of interest in the Behavoioral Health Unit:
1. A person I am supposed to visit teach--but she's that sister who makes the appointment and then is never home...we all have them...anyway, I introduced myself and suggested that I was so desperate to see her that I'd admitted myself to the psyche ward when I knew she'd be coming. Then I asked if she'd allow me to share the May Visiting Teaching message with her. Then I cracked up. I'm so hilarious.
2. Psychiatrist Man who knows everything, doesn't think I'm crazy (just a little unwell...yeah, he actually sang a bit of that for me), and has no expression whatsoever. He was pretty wonderful, and just what I needed to get back on track.
3. Therapist Number One (TNO) who had no idea what to do with me because Psychiatrist Man told her I was pretty advanced in my therapy, so he was uncertain if a project would be of help to me. As projects are how TNO deals with all her patients, she was somewhat put out and found one for me anyway (which I chose not to do). She told me she expected me to take the project seriously and report to the therapist who would be taking her place the next day. I giggled and said, "You're not serious!" She assured me that she was. I ignored her.
4. Psychiatrist Woman (Asian with very pretty legs...) who analyzed and reported on my psyche tests. She was confused because the tests showed conflicting results. She asked if I knew why. I told her I thought it might be because one can only answer three true/false questions before becoming bored. Answering 995 was cruel, unusual punishment and I probably wasn't paying particularly close attention toward the end. She said, "Well, then we'll have to do some of this orally." Fine by me--she was lovely company. Darrin agrees with me.
5. Therapist Number Two (TNT) who made certain I attended group therapy from 8:45 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. (half-hour lunch break) today. Group Therapy became Samantha therapy as all other participants started dropping out after lunch. By 1:30, I was on my own and in a one-on-one session with a very earnest, serious TNT. I wanted to drop out, as well, but more than that, I wanted to go home. I finished the therapy sessions.
6. Mr. Harris, the older man with Alzheimer's. This was genuinely a huge highlight for me. Mr. Harris decided that I was the newest doctor in the ward. He was adept at swiping patient charts and bringing them to me. No one could understand the constant stream of words he muttered, but occasionally something intelligible slipped out. After I had refused the sixth patient chart, he said clearly, "Well, you can only do the best you can do. That's all anyone can ask..." then shuffled away, disappointed that I didn't want his offerings. During the second evening, a psych tech lost a small piece of paper and exclaimed about it in Mr. Harris' hearing. Mr. Harris immediately began searching his pockets for the paper, then moved behind the desk and began rifling through open file folders and other confidential materials. Four nurses tried to distract him away from his task, but he intended to find that paper. A male nurse held up a nearby magazine and called, "Mr. Harris, come look at this magazine with me. Look--it's Patrick Dempsey! The hottest male star in America!!" Then he turned to the rest of us and sheepishly said, "Well, that's what it says..."
Amazingly, Mr. Harris moved to admire the sexy Patrick, and the nurses cleaned up his mess while giggling at the two men reading the women's magazine. Male nurse said, "Hey, whatever works...and Patrick Dempsey is hot anyway..." Finally, to make my stay complete, Mr. Harris decided to move into my room with me. Six times the nurses moved him back to his own room, but he was determined. Finally they dragged me out of my beloved group therapy and asked me to verbally reclaim my territory, feeling that if I told Mr. Harris to leave my room, he would. I started giggling and said, "No way!! I'm leaving this afternoon. As far as I'm concerned, if he wants my room, he can have it." The nurses started talking about legalities and liabilities. I grinned and went back to therapy. When I returned, my room was intact, and Mr. Harris was sitting in the hallway, peacefully coloring in a coloring book.

Finally, about an hour before discharge I was allowed to wear my own clothes (wow--they smell so nice!) Visiting Teachee gave me a hug good-by, TNT breathed an audible sigh of relief, Mr. Harris tried to kiss me (thank you, sexy blonde nurse, for saving me from that privilege), and Patrick Dempsey Admirer Nurse escorted me to the ground floor and out the door. The first thing I did when I got home was shower...for a long, long time.

Who Knew?

Apparently, if one has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a therapist's leaving (for whatever reason) is a major event--especially if the therapist/client relationship has been highly successful. One might even say that such an event would cause the client to experience elevated levels of stress such that she might choose to be in denial for a couple of weeks, and then extreme distress might set in. The distress could possibly move to erratic behavior, alienation of friends and loved ones, thoughts of self-harm, recurrence of anorexic tendencies, depression and thoughts of death. This could actually escalate to the point that the client would admit herself at the Behavioral Health ward of the hospital.

Anyway, that's what the psychologist at the psyche ward in the hospital told me during my stay there. I'm guessing he's right.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Darrin Speaks

I'm a little bit preoccupied with my husband lately--as evinced by the theme of marriage insinuating itself into my more recent posts. As a rule, Darrin lives in a supporting role in my drama, and I am always the main focus. However, lately, he's been more vocal than usual about certain events that have been taking place in my life.

For example:
Darrin: I'm a little concerned that you told Therapist you're finished with counseling.
Me: Why? Don't you think I'm better? Is there something wrong? What do you see? What haven't you been telling me?


Darrin: I'm concerned because you still aren't eating normally, and I don't want anything to happen to you.
Me: Why? What do you think could happen? What do you mean "normally"? Why are you watching my eating habits? Don't you trust me?


Darrin: How about we discuss something else?
Me: Okay.


Darrin: You've made some good friends lately. A couple of them have been extremely loving and helpful to you. But some of the things you said to me about them makes me think you're a little uncomfortable with the closeness of your friendship. You're getting ready to shut them off. And don't argue with me about it--I've watched you do it for a lot of years.
Me: What makes you think so? I don't notice anything different. Did you not see me talking on the phone with one of them today? Everything is fine.


Darrin: Okay, if you say so. But I still think you're scared and getting ready to run. And I just want you to think about what your friends have done for you, what they mean to you, and how much you love them, because once you push them all away, you're a little bit difficult to live with for about two years. I'm not looking forward to that.
Me: I think you're wrong. I'm not pushing anyone away. I'm really hard to live with sometimes?


Me: I know you're right. I just don't know what to do.
Darrin: That's why I suggested more therapy. Maybe someone can help you work through the stress you feel when you love people so much that you become afraid of them.
Me: I'm not afraid of you.
Darrin: Because you know I'm too lazy to go away. And because I have no reason to ever leave.
Me: The others will, though. All of them.
Darrin: Why do you think that?
Me: I don't know why they would ever stay. There's no reason.
Darrin: You? Maybe they'll stay because they love you?
Me: Do you really think that's a possibility? Because I can't imagine it, and it's making me crazy.
Darrin: Sam, I don't want you to lose everything you've gained in the last year. You're practicing the piano several hours daily to avoid being with people, you've stopped attending activities with the young women, you don't go out to lunch with friends very much, you go home instead of staying at church for Sunday School, and you've been running too much again.
Me: Maybe this is just who I am. Maybe I'm not meant to be with people. I'm just meant to play the piano and run and be alone.
Darrin: You know that's not true.


Me: Can I have some time to think about this? I'm really feeling overwhelmed.
Darrin: Yeah.

Marriage Commandments From My Mother

1. Never marry someone of a different race. You will end up divorced.
I actually tried to do this, just to annoy her. Darrin, my Spaniard, is as close as I could get. My maternal grandfather cornered me after I became engaged and asked me what Darrin's racial background was. I said, "He's Mexican, of course. I think that's so much better than the bastard hillbilly roots your family contributes to my bloodline." Then I walked away. My mother hurried over to her father and assured him that Darrin was not Mexican, but definitely white, and his ancestors came from Europe--and that my comments were made because I was a little stressed about the upcoming nuptuals (it's true, I was stressed about that, but I made the comment out of spite, not stress).

2. Be a stay-at-home mom (or stated differently: never work outside the home). Your husband will not love you if you don't cook and clean for him, and your children will grow up to be prostitutes and drug abusers.
I told my mother that I would probably work for the rest of my life--and that if Darrin married me so he could have a built in maid, we would definitely not stay married. We both eat--we both do dishes. We both wear clothes--we both do laundry. We both use the toilet--we both clean the bathroom. We both walk in the house--we both mop and vacuum. She assured me that wouldn't work. I promptly got a job after we were married, just to prove that it would. I also let her know that since I wasn't having children, the prostitute and drug-abuse populations would be sadly disappointed by my contributions. Now that I do have children, and work outside the home, I'll have to work on that one. Also, according to this statement, since I don't stay at home and clean for my husband, he's probably lying when he says he loves me.

3. Never get separate bank accounts. This is one of the greatest causes of divorce.
Until my mother said this, I had never before considered the evils of banking separately from my husband. However, Darrin has never been great at keeping track of money, and I've never been happy about baby-sitting adults, so we have separate bank accounts. Now, if we get a divorce, everyone will know the reason why. We have an agreement that because money seems to magically disappear when it's in my husband's possession, the paychecks come to me first--I pay all the bills and make necessary investments, and then deposit disappearable funds into Darrin's bank account. I don't ask what he does with them--and he never questions what I do with any extra money I may have, either. We do a household budget together, so that he's aware of our monthly expenditures, we save for our Christmas and travel funds, he knows we have investment accounts--although he has no interest in whether or not those are doing well. The only real problem we've encountered with our separate accounts happened this week: Our credit union issued new debit cards. Because we're signers on each other's accounts (in case of death), the CU sent us each a card for both accounts. Except for the numbers on the cards, they look identical. The CU did not designate which card was linked to which account. So now, collectively, we have four cards, but no idea to which account they belong, which, given Darrin's magical disappearing money talent, could be a disaster waiting to happen. So perhaps my mother's dark prognostications are about to find fruition.

4. You should never have to explain to your husband why you are upset at him. He should just know.
I understand that mental telepathy is something that most marriages are blessed with, but mine is not. Occasionally I fall into the trap of believing that if I know something, Darrin must, by osmosis, also know it. But this usually only happens when I get really busy. I learned from the time when Darrin and I first became friends, that if I want him to know something, I usually have to tell him. He's just not great at mind reading, especially when we're having relationship stress. However, looking comparatively at my marriage versus my parents' marriage, I would have to say that I'm much happier than either my mother or my father, and I believe that's because Darrin and I talk to each other about pretty much anything. I don't make him guess why I'm upset, or show that by slamming doors or the silent treatment. I don't drop hints, and then become frustrated because he just doesn't get it. I don't act like everything's fine when I'm sad. My mother points out that her marriage has lasted more than twice as long as mine, and I should respect that. She has a point--I am truly amazed that two people who communicate so little can actually have remained married as long as they have. Perhaps that is par for the course for heterosexual marriages (I find that possibility a bit depressing).

5. Always put your husband's needs first.
This is a lovely and romantic sentiment. I believe it's also a recipe for depression and loneliness, because if you're always putting someone's needs before your own, you're in no condition, emotionally, to cope with life's challenges. There needs to be an equitable balance of some sort. I've heard that marriage is a partnership. Most successful partnerships consist of give and take. There will be times when I need to cater to Darrin's needs, but there are also times when I need things from him. I understand the philosophy behind it--I just don't believe it's practical.

P.S. I really do love my mom. I just think she's wrong. The end.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Number one:
Darrin loves chick flicks. This has developed in the years since we've been married. I, on the other hand, prefer a good comedy--or a walk outside. Tonight we alternated between Sweet Home Alabama and While You Were Sleeping. I finally escaped for my walk. Friend Larry has suggested that perhaps Darrin is compensating for a romance deficit in his marriage. When he propsed his preposterous proposition, I shoved him off the bleacher seat, upon which we were sitting while we waited for a Junior High choir to sing to us. This was very difficult since Larry weighs at least twice as much as I do. I felt much better when he sprawled on the floor, a good 15 inches below where I sat (yes, we were on the bottom row), however, part of me wonders if he was right, especially since he just lay there and laughed at me.

Number two:
I am incapable of being serious today. If you called or chatted with me and I seemed a bit light-hearted, well, I was. And nothing was sacred. I can't help it. Sometimes that happens. Don't be offended, I'll be better tomorrow and life will be frighteningly serious and you can share all your heartbreaking drama with me again. I promise I'll listen this time, and I won't laugh nearly as hard. I still won't offer advice. I still won't tell you if I think you're right of wrong. But I'll say soothing things like: "That sounds like it was a difficult thing for you..." or "Wow! how do you feel about that?" or "I can understand how that might be upsetting for you..." If I practice my validation statements for an hour or so tonight, will you give me a chance to use them tomorrow?

Number three:
The blue flax are in bloom. It's gorgeous and I'm very happy about it.

Number four:

I love this picture. I know. It's creepy. It also makes me giggle a little bit. Also, the face on this Cupid reminds me of someone I know....oh, and don't forget to notice his tattoo...

Number five:
I found scented markers on my dining room floor. This is unusual because there is never anything on my dining room floor except carpet and furniture and occasional crumbs when I need to vacuum. I think the cherry one smells best. If you hold the marker too close when you smell it, it colors your nose.

Number six:
I did not straighten my hair today. That's all.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Noun: homophobia
1. Prejudice against (fear or dislike of) homosexual people and homosexuality

I can't imagine anyone being afraid of me. For that matter, I consider myself fairly likable. However, I remember as a teen hearing some fairly nasty things that were said in reference to fags, dykes, gays and lezzies. Good friends of mine would make horrifying generalizations about people like me...

1. Lesbians hate all men.
2. Lesbians wish they were men
3. Lesbians are jocks who wear their hair short and are masculine.
4. Lesbians are ugly.
5. Lesbians are a menace to society because they recruit and seduce younger women.
6. Lesbians are mentally ill.

I heard the terms "dyke" and "lezzie" used to describe awkward or overweight girls. It was sometimes applied to young women who were strong or athletic. It always brought a sense of sadness to me, because I couldn't understand how the stereotype applied to me, or why there was such hatred behind it. I realized later that much of the fear and hatred is fostered in homes and churches where children are taught that homosexuality is a choice or a consequence that comes about because of sin. Naturally, I bought into that whole idea because I felt that somehow I was the most sinful individual ever born and that being homosexual was somehow a punishment for allowing my cousin to rape me.

Still, compared to the fear and anger levelled at gay men, the lesbians in my life got off fairly lightly. My best friend (straight) was somewhat of a late bloomer. He was slight of build and not really interested in girls and dating until we were Juniors. He was often called a fag (yeah--he played the clarinet), a "pretty boy", time someone put up pictures of naked women all over his locker (to my delight and his chagrin). And he wasn't the only one who was ridiculed. I happen to know that of those who were labeled and tormented, some of them truly were gay, and the things said were extremely hurtful. One of those young men told me that the thing that upset him the most was the intimation that he wanted to molest little boys. This particular young man was gentle and funny and sweet. My younger brothers adored him--and there is no way he would ever have hurt them.

Today the climate for those who are attracted to members of their own gender is much more moderate than it was when I was a teen. I would never have revealed my orientation to my closest friends and the only ones who knew were those who shared my plight. I remember a school trip where a young man from another school--popular, well-liked, nice-looking--came out to his friends. They were in a classroom at a junior college. The response was for the young women present to suggest that he try making out with them--it would "cure" him. He became upset, feeling that he was being mocked (and actually, I don't think he was--I believe those friends really thought he would change), and he began to cry, which is not something that you should do in front of a group of girls if you want them to leave you alone. I watched as his frustration grew with each tender touch intended for comfort, until he ran from the room and hid in the men's restroom until his coach dragged him out and onto the bus to go home. My thoughts were that he was pretty silly to tell his friends in the first place--but now that I understand that his parents were mostly absent and he was an only child, perhaps he wasn't so silly, after all. He was seeking for some support among the community in which he felt safe. Regardless of his needs, though, his friends reacted with the biases and judgements they had been taught, and what could have been a loving, supportive experience became one in which the young man felt abused and attacked--unfortunate, to say the least.

I've often wondered what I would do if my sexual orientation became widely known. A year ago the thought of it scared me to death, but during the past twelve months I've taken steps to make myself known to many friends and loved ones. Should the knowledge become common, I think I'll be fine. There will be those who will no longer associate with me. There will be some who will be "okay" with my orientation because I don't choose to act on it--but they'll still feel weird about me. But there will also be those who will hug me and who will not think differently of me at all. I told my high school and family friend, Larry, about my orientation in March. He laughed and said, "I just have to say two things. First, that completely explains why someone as beautiful as you married someone as ugly as Darrin. And second, now I understand why you never seemed at all interested in me in high school!" Just for the record, Darrin is not ugly. And even if I were straight, I don't think I'd have been interested in Larry--but you never know.

Last year I participated in a leadership meeting for the bishops in our stake, and I spoke at a stake conference meeting for the adults dealing with the topic of same-gender attraction. I've been somewhat side-tracked lately, as I've dealt with abuse issues and overcome some personal milestones. I don't intend to stop, however. The day must come when bishops no longer tell young men that they can be "cured" from homosexuality by ceasing porn and masturbation binges, when bishops don't shy from the topic--but will talk about it and allow those who come for counsel to also talk. The day must come when people within the church stop planning the final judgements and destinations of those who are gay, and instead work on learning how to love them while they live. It is absolutely unhelpful to hear the terms "Sodom and Gomorrah" linked to our lives, and those who isolate us are robbing themselves of some rich and rewarding friendships--and they are robbing us, as well, of their love and support--something to which all of God's children are entitled.

I could just be a pipe dream that someday I can say in Relief Society, "It's been a particularly trying week for me...there's a really gorgeous girl at work...I'm finding it a little distracting and frustrating..." or "It's really comforting to me to remember that one of the things Christ felt during the atonement was the confusion and frustration that can come when I am strongly attraction to another woman and he understands how I feel..." Okay, it's not going to happen. But it would be nice to believe that if I did say something like that, I wouldn't be ostracized or stoned. Maybe in a few thousand years?

Ah, well, in any case, I wish everyone a happy International Day Against Homophobia. Next year we should have a party!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Time Out

Today I have a day off. I have decided not to do that again. It's just much better to always be doing something, because for some reason, today I'm sad.

However, it's the first day in nearly a week that I've felt that--which is vast improvement considering it's something I used to deal with daily.

So maybe it's okay to be sad sometimes. Perhaps it's good that I took a day off to think about this. It doesn't feel paralyzing or demoralizing. It's just me, remembering that occasionally life has down times and tomorrow will be better.

The purpose of this blog is not to continue to belabor the problems in my past. I suppose, though that if they happen to catch up with me once in awhile, I can leave them here. I hope that's all right.