Add to Technorati Favorites

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Today I Made Crabapple Jelly

This isn't really a big deal because crabapples are everywhere and the jelly is easy to make, but it also provides me with quiet time to think. And this is what I thought about:

My brother has denied Tabitha's claims that he molested her. I have two sisters who have stated they believe him and assume Tabitha is lying. One of those sisters has taken it no further. She continues to show love to Tabitha and invite our family to visit. The other sister has ceased all communication with me and my family. Ironically, the sister who will no longer acknowledge our existence used to be my best friend. When she was in trouble, I bailed her out. When she needed a babysitter, I watched her children. When she divorced, I cried with her.

When it became clear that she was no longer talking to us (and it was pretty obvious at my parents 50th anniversary when, while seated in the same room, I asked her a question about her children and she looked at me for about a minute, then turned away and started a conversation with someone else--and I think she put more effort into avoiding me than she put into helping make the anniversary reception a success), I thought I should feel hurt or angry. Instead I just felt tired. And when one feels as tired as I do, it's difficult to care much when someone tries to snub you.

I thought I might feel more when the tiredness subsided, but either that hasn't happened or my body has just decided not to expend energy on this particular development. I'm thinking it's the latter. It was nice, though, that my sister's new husband treated me nicely--even warmly. Clearly he's not willing to take sides in a matter that doesn't concern him. Smart man.

As I thought about this, I realized I no longer bend over backwards to maintain or build relationships with my family members. I used to do that. I wanted those relationships--I think I needed them. But I don't anymore. Well, I want them, but I'm unwilling to exhaust myself in one-sided relationships.

More than that, maybe, I"m understanding that my worth will be discovered by other people, regardless of whether or not my siblings and parents choose to acknowledge it. I believe my mother continues to try. It's difficult to tell, given her deteriorating mental capacity. I know my father cares for me deeply and as often as he's able, he tries to build and strengthen out relationship. My youngest brother tries intermittently to maintain a friendship, but his life is fraught with problems of his own making. I'm content to allow our relationship to remain less close for now. My sisters can't seem to decide what they want. I've decided that's a dilemma that belongs to them. I've made it clear that they're welcome in my life and in my home. I'm not going to shout to be heard. If they don't know that by now, perhaps it's time for them to figure it out on their own.

I'm not abandoning my family. I'm just moving my efforts to a place where I feel more fulfilled and less stressed. I think, for awhile, I strongly needed those relationships. Now, after unsuccessfully trying to build them, I'm understanding that one-sided relationships are not what I'm looking for and I'm willing to stop trying for awhile. As I stated, they're welcome, but I'm too tired to go looking for them when they would never do the same for me.

I've learned a lot about relationships in the past seven years.

I used to believe that the only relationships that last are those bound by blood or marriage. I don't believe that anymore. I have friends who have remained closely in my life for more than seven years. Closely, to me, means they check in with me regularly, or they let me know they read my blog, or they invite me to visit or spend time with them. It means I can call if I have a problem, or a question, or for no reason at all, and that call will not be an intrusion. It means they make time for me because they enjoy spending time together as much as I do.

I've been related to people in my family for much longer than seven years. I don't believe I can think of a seven-year span when even one of my siblings has stayed in touch with me. When I went to college my parents and siblings didn't contact me for an entire year. The same was true when I moved to California. I believe things are better now. I usually hear from my parents (who live three blocks from me) at least once monthly, and some of my siblings will usually contact me a couple of times during the year. I try to call or visit them at least monthly, as well.

But here's the difference: it's very clear when I call my sisters that they have other things to do. Our phone calls last about 10 minutes. I spend time with my dad because we own a business, but much of the time he's gone. I can only tolerate my mom for a couple of hours--not because I don't love her, but because she has become less lucid in the past year and talking to her takes a great deal of effort. Sometimes she forgets I'm there so I just go home.

When I spend time with the people who have chosen to stay in my life for the past seven years, however, it feels different. It's clear we're together because we enjoy it, not because we're relatives who are supposed to stay in touch occasionally. There is a mutual effort to remain close, I'm not doing all or much of the work, and I know they love me because they know who I am, not because I"m related to them. They ask real questions about my life--about me. I don't know when I last heard a question from a sibling that wasn't about my kids. My siblings have no idea what I do for work or what I enjoy doing in my spare time. I'm guessing most of my friends could make an educated guess and if it wasn't correct, it would be pretty close.

I understand there's nothing keeping my friends tied to me and that at any time they could leave. I hope they won't--but they could. But Tolkien Boy told me he's not going anywhere and if I disappear, he plans to find me so he can tell me how upset he is that I would do that to him. And it's highly likely that I would react the same way if he disappeared. And really, why stay in someone's life for seven years if you plan to abandon that person later? That makes no sense. Which doesn't mean it won't happen, just that it doesn't make sense if it does.

And at this point, my jelly was finished. I have lots of lovely, light red jelly-filled jars sitting on my cupboard. Now I have to figure out where to put them away. Since DJ and Tabitha moved home, I'm finding I have no more spare shelf space. It's a problem.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Confession: I don't know right from left.

Last night a friend chatted with me. This is how it went:

Friend: So...depressed much?
me: A little, yes.
Friend: I would never have guessed based on your blog posts...Haha.
me: You don't have to read them.
Friend: Yeah, I do. They show up in my reader.
me: Probably I've been excessive talking about it.
Friend: A little, yes.

My friend has a point even if I believe it's invalid. I need a place to write down the mess inside me. I've never said this would be a funny blog--or even an interesting one.

However, given that the last billion posts I've written have noted how depressed I am, my friend is right. It's a bit excessive.

And when you're right, you're right.

Or maybe left. As noted in the title, I really don't know the difference.

So I will stop posting about my depression--but I have to say, anyone who has experienced severe depression knows that's about the only thing one can think about when it happens. Sometimes thoughts stray to related wishing for death...or feeling helpless...or believing one is unfit for human company...or being sad...

Regardless, Friend is right, and I just proved it by almost making this blog post about depression. I will now change that.

Here is a funny cat:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Hunger is insolent, and will be fed." ~Homer

On yesterday's long drive home, I pulled off the freeway to use the facilities at one of the many truck stops lining I-80's stretch across Wyoming's south border. As I reached the bottom of the exit ramp, I saw a young man, probably in his mid-20s, and his dog. The man held a sign: "Stranded. Broke. Hungry. Please help."

Even as I passed him, I noticed both he and the dog were terribly thin. Some men are like that naturally, and maybe he was one of those, but I couldn't stop thinking about him. So I grabbed a couple of hot dogs, a bottle of water, two bananas, a Reeses, and a packet of dog food. As I checked out, using the last of the cash budgeted for my trip, the change came exactly to five dollars. Disregarding my mother's voice from long ago ("Don't give money to pan-handlers. They'll just use it to buy drugs or alcohol."), I slid the bill into the hot dog box, helped the attendant bag everything, and went to my car.

A minute later the bag was delivered and I was on my way with his whispered, "God bless," ringing in my ears.

And then I cried.

I cried because I wanted to put him in my car and take him somewhere safe.
I cried because I wished the food had been more nutritious, but I opted for calories over healthy, not knowing when that young man might eat again.
I cried because I knew other people would help, because that's what people do.
I cried because we have very little money right now, but he has less.
I cried because the cash I gave might buy a tiny bit of drugs or a drink of alcohol, but maybe it would buy some breakfast in the morning--either way, it belonged to him.

Mostly I cried because I was tired, I'd been through a difficult weekend filled with many people, I hadn't had time to do the lesson planning I'd hoped, and depression had nothing to do with my tears--nope.

Darrin said I couldn't ask the young man if we could give him a ride. About 20 miles down the freeway, a flashing sign announced an escaped prisoner and a warning not to pick up hitchhikers. I don't believe the hungry young man was that prisoner--they usually don't have dogs, right? But it reminded me that I didn't know him and probably it was a good idea to let him manage as he saw fit.

Still, I'd like to stop crying all the time. It makes my eyes itch. And I can't stop wondering about that man and his dog. I hope they eat today.

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Love is...finding one who is willing to hold your hand no matter how unfit it might be." ~Nishan Panwar

Depression continues strongly. I'm now in the place where I no longer care about anything for a moment, then I wallow in self-pity--wishing someone cared, and follow everything up by at least one very large panic attack.

Do I know the self-pity feelings are silly and false? Yes.
Does that make them less real? No.

It won't last. Therapist promised me it won't last.

Still, the worst part often seems to be what happens as the depression cycle approaches an ending. I'm tired now. I'm not good at redirecting myself. I vacillate between feeling like I might die inside if someone doesn't check in with me--see if I'm okay--tell me I'm loved--and telling myself to stop being an idiot and contact someone myself. In the end I don't do anything. It takes too much effort and I'm pretty sure if I'm the one contacting someone else, I'll spend the next five days castigating myself for bothering someone.

It's a problem.

I keep reminding myself that anything causing me pain is temporary and fictional.

I think, though, of people I know who have depression regularly; the ones who feel little excitement for life, who cannot enjoy beauty, who ache beyond crying. As I enter the landscape they frequent, I can't decide if the numbness is a relief. It might be--but that's irrelevant as there is little I can do about it.

I have a calendar. It has reminders of my schedule for the next month. I will be told where to go and what to do--and I will do it. And at some point, my system will stop being messed up by a drug that mended my reaction to a flu shot.

Therapist will check in with me tomorrow. He will ask me how I'm feeling and listen to my reply. He will remind me of the things I need to do to make it through this, and remind Darrin of danger signs to watch for. He will tell me I can do this and he believes it will not be much longer, then remind me it's okay if I have to get help from others.

And Therapist will check in with me the day after tomorrow...and the next day...and the next...

What would I do without Therapist? Does he check in because I pay him to do so? I'm not sure how I feel about that: I have to pay someone to care about me?


I'm not thinking about that. I accept what IS right now. The fact that I have to pay someone to check on me does not negate the fact that he DOES it. And I need to be checked on. So everything is great.

See? That would be a self-pity wallow. Hold on tight; the panic is about to set in.