Sorry For the Word Vomit…

I know it’s been awhile and I know I said I was going to stop apologizing when I missed a Wednesday or Sunday post, and I am… (yes, I do know it’s Thursday) I just don’t want anyone to think I forgot about them or this blog.

We moved three weeks ago. (A BIG, HUGE thanks to my friend John and Tetris!) I think by today, we could have the last of the boxes from the garage come inside and find their place, so that’s exciting.

That’s not entirely the reason I haven’t written though. It’s a big part of it… there is more though.

I did get offered the PCA job and yesterday finished with the paperwork and fingerprinting. I’m hopeful about starting training soon.

Babymaking is… getting a lot less fun. A lot more stress and I wonder if it’s the right thing to do anymore. I want to leave it up to God. I keep telling myself I am leaving it up to God but somehow, I keep managing to wrestle it away from him and stress over it some more.

September is right around the corner, which means many things. School is about to start. My fingers are crossed that Tayla will not struggle as she has in the past. At least, not in the same way. September 29th will be my grandma’s birthday and Noah’s due date. And the 11th, of course, is Natalie’s birthday. My eyes are stinging and my throat is closing up as I write.

I’ve been going through a lot of stuff, with the move. I have three jewelry boxes which I find pretty amusing since I don’t really wear a lot of jewelry but in one of the boxes with the bracelet she gave me for being her maid of honor. I remember shopping for her wedding dress with her… the one time she told me I was right (she should’ve gone with the ivory colored dress, the one that made her look like a princess).

The toast she made at my wedding as my maid of honor. The singing, the dancing, the hot tub. Somehow it reminded me of sneaking out on the golf course to go drinking. When she threw that party, had fliers made up and then had no idea how she got busted…

The times she took me along to some event with her friends, forcing me to have fun… ever the older sister in spirit…

And now, I feel so empty and hollow.

How can that be? I have a husband, a daughter, wonderful family and friends, yet the absence of this one particular person… makes me feel utterly alone.

I keep telling myself that once her birthday is over, it’ll get better… but after September, it will be my birthday and then after Halloween, it’ll be all about Christmas and I don’t know if I can handle that right now. I guess I don’t have to. I’ll try sticking to one day at a time.

But maybe not this day… it’s hard to reassure myself that things in my life will be okay when the world around us is in such utter chaos. I don’t have the energy to get into politics but I think we can all agree, we as a nation, are not where we’d like to be and the world right now is a scary place.

On that lovely note, I think I’ll take a nap and hope things look better when I open my eyes again.

Thanks for letting me ramble!

Peace.

I’m Sorry, I Stink

Seriously. So bad. It started in my car.

Yesterday I took Tayla to school. When I unlocked the car and opened the door, I was about knocked on my ass. The stench of rotten eggs wafted out.

“Where is that coming from?” Tayla asked.

“I don’t know. Dad probably farted, then slammed the door shut and let it bake for us…”

We got in and I rolled the windows down and let it go.

But the stink didn’t leave.

I wondered if something was wrong with the car, or maybe I ran over a skunk and it was caught on something under the car…

So when I was done with my errands for the day, I parked next to the dumpster and started to investigate.

Immediately I found the culprit. Last Wednesday, Don’s mom sent him home with a big bowl of spaghetti. Guess who forgot about it?

I chuck it and figure that’s the end of it.

Nope.

Today, Don took Tayla to school and when he got home he said “Your car smells so bad that when Tay and I opened the doors, we both puked.”

“Seriously? You BOTH puked in my car?”

“No, just outside. It was instantaneous…”

“I threw away the spaghetti…”

Later in the day, we have to go to Mary’s to take care of the cat. I start walking toward my car (cue horror movie music) and my stomach starts to tighten. I reached out a trembling hand and pulled the door open.

“Sweet baby Jesus, wtf died in here?!”

“I told you it was bad” Don said.

“Yeah, but it was bad yesterday…”

“I got it. I found out what it was. It wasn’t the spaghetti. Remember Friday when we went to Hy-Vee and bought that frozen rotisserie chicken? It fell out of the bag and under the seat.”

“FRIDAY?! It’s Wednesday! It’s been in the 80’s!”

“Now you know why it stinks.”

I have NEVER in my LIFE smelled anything as heinous as rotting chicken. It smelled like a slaughterhouse full of diseased cattle. It smelled like Satan’s burnt asshole. It smelled like maggot riddled intestines…

I thought I was going to puke… I had to breathe through my mouth for awhile. Then, I made him stop at every gas station we passed so I could buy more air fresheners. The first place we stopped, I ran in and asked the two cashiers “what is the strongest scent you have?” They both pointed to the “Black Ice”. I told them I’d take two. As I was reaching for my wallet though, I had second thoughts.

“What if this smells worse?”

“Worse?!” Don looked at me incredulously. “It cannot possibly smell worse”.

“I mean, what if it’s scented with black licorice… I hate black licorice…” but the thought of getting back in the car, having passed up the opportunity to even TRY anything different wasn’t going to fly.

I grabbed the two Black Ice air fresheners and headed back out into the heat. I approached the car cautiously as if it were a feral animal, ready to pounce. I grabbed the door handle and notice a man walking into the gas station. He’s a big guy. Like a football player, he was wearing a Viking’s jersey too. He passed me right about the time I was opening the door and as soon as I did, it was like he walked into a glass wall. His head snapped back real fast like he’d been slapped and was turning around to see who did it. Since no one was within slapping distance, he just eyed me suspiciously and shook his head quickly, trying to shake off the vile encounter.

I got back into the mobile death trap trying to make the lemonade out of these very rotten lemons.

“Hey, we could stop the war! Save the soldiers, we can just drive this down the dirt road with the windows down and they’ll drop like flies!’

We cracked a few jokes, tried to ignore the stench that’d had only grown with the air fresheners (in case anyone is wondering, it’s not black licorice, it smells like a dude who took a bath in cologne) and my perfume that Don had sprayed vigorously before I got in… I had to hit him for that. He does it at home too… instead of changing the cat litter, he sprays my perfume… Hello? I’d like to wear that again and not think of cat shit…

My final thing of the day was to meet Ryan and my mom for coffee to celebrate Natalie’s sober date.

I was feeling good about going, I wasn’t too late and then, I was horrified. The car smell had permeated my clothes and purse! OMG. No one said anything but it wasn’t long before the odor reached from my t-shirt to my nostrils and I had to get out of there! Actually, I had to be home before Tayla went to bed because she has to get up early for school… but ugh.

Gross. So, if anyone has to see me within the next couple of days to a week- I’ll probably reek. I’m sorry!

Why We Need to Stop Comparing Addiction to Cancer

First, I think we need to acknowledge there is a difference between drug use and drug abuse. Some people can use substances recreationally, not everyone can. People are hardwired differently. I don’t know why some people don’t have an issue with having one glass of wine at dinner, while others struggle.

I’ve been noticing the growing argument for “addiction is not a disease” along with some form of an analogy about a kid with cancer. “That five-year-old didn’t ask for cancer”. Ok, I get it. I do.

And I think it’s a poor comparison.

Whichever side of the disease vs willpower side of the controversy you’re on, please know that addicts don’t choose to be addicts either. I understand no one “held a gun to a drug users head and made them inject drugs”. On the other hand, do you understand that when you’re cancer free, you don’t have to work every day to stay cancer free. You don’t have the temptations surrounding you or when the stress builds up or a family member dies and you need that relief, you don’t think “man, I could really use some cancer right now”.

I once heard someone say that if there was a cure for cancer half way around the world, nothing would stop that person from getting their treatment but if there was a pill that could cure depression sitting on the table across from someone who is depressed, they might not be able to get up off the couch to get it.

Depression is a chemical thing. Addiction is a chemical thing. How terrible is it that the affliction some people deal with destroys the mind to logic out? It doesn’t seem like a matter of willpower to me. It’s more believable to me that there’s a glitch in the brain.

Comparing addiction to cancer doesn’t make any sense. They are not the same thing.

It’d be a little easier to compare it with diabetes. Type two diabetes can be passed on genetically or a person can live a lifestyle that leads to diabetes. That person wasn’t asking to get sick. Sometimes it’s possible to make lifestyle changes that will help get blood sugars under control but that person has to be very aware of everything they put in their body.

I know firsthand what it’s like to have unmanaged blood sugars. I have made many changes and in turn, my sugars are lower and I am getting healthier. I also know how difficult it is to maintain those changes. Sometimes I just want handfuls of chocolate. Or cheesecake. Or pasta. Sometimes I indulge. A lot of times I don’t.

Addiction runs rampant in my family and I lost a sister to a lethal mix of rx drugs and heroin. Four days before she died, we had an intervention for her. She looked into our eyes and told us she was done. She wanted to be clean (and had recently celebrated 9 months of sobriety before this last relapse). She knew her lifestyle could kill her. She did it anyway. I don’t believe it was simply a matter of willpower. It’s not right to think that had someone stayed with her that night, everything would’ve been ok. She needed 24- hour supervision. Sometimes it’s not a “day at a time” it’s a minute or a second at a time. Do you think anyone in their “right” or healthy mind would conspire and lie to loved ones just to be able to essentially kill themselves?

Addiction at the very least is powerful, can we all agree on that? It’s killing people and it needs to stop.

Can we stop comparing it to cancer? Trying to claim there are no “victims of addiction”? I’ve never done heroin and it’s ruined my life. Because the bottom line is, blaming people doesn’t help anything.

Natalie’s On My Mind

I don’t know if she’s here because I’ve been thinking about her so much or I’ve been thinking so much about her that she’s here… It doesn’t matter I guess.

It probably has a lot to do with the writing I’ve been doing. The sister piece last week and dealing with her loss for another project due Friday…

I had a dream about her last night. I don’t think it was a visit. It didn’t feel like one. I saw her, I hugged her, I yelled at her for making us all worry ourselves sick. Turns out she’d been lost in an oil field for 14 months (???) I cried so hard with relief and then, Justin (my brother) went missing. Once I noticed Justin was gone, Natalie was gone again too.

When I woke up, I had that moment or two of not knowing what was going on and that fleeting feeling that she was still here. I actually told my brain to keep it down because if I was allowed to fully think out that thought, I’d know it wasn’t true and I couldn’t pretend. Ugh.

Last night we didn’t go anywhere to see fireworks. Tayla didn’t care that much and I’m not dealing with traffic and mosquitos for myself. Don was actually home, I don’t remember the last year the three of us were together. We were watching Spongebob when the noise got SO LOUD. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw flashes of light. I went out onto the deck and we basically had a front row seat. There was a line of trees but there was a dip in the middle, right where the fireworks were! They were beautiful. I even saw a few red hearts! I’ve never seen those before… and there were four. Not all at the same time but still…

Today we continued to pack. We did the front hall closet today which was filled with jackets and vests of Nat’s. Tayla and I tried them on and boxed them up. I can’t bear to part with them yet. Not even the ones that don’t fit either of us or neither of us would wear. There was a wave of sadness.

Onto my desk… I have a corkboard attached to my desk and a lot of pictures hanging up. I started to unpin them and put them in a photo album. Flipping through the pictures, there were more of Nat and me as little girls than I remembered… Another wave.

A song on the radio. An old card she’d sent. Memories. Wave after wave. I couldn’t get away from it. Even when we went to Don’s mom’s house. “Johnny Dangerously” was on TV. She loved that movie and we would quote it a lot.

God, I miss her so much.

I’m supposed to write about persisting and overcoming and I feel like a hypocrite whenever I start to write. I don’t feel like I’m overcoming this grief. I wonder every day if this will be the day and get swept up in the waves and carried away… I am persisting, I guess. I don’t feel very triumphant but I probably never will. Not when it comes to this grief. I’ll never overcome it or get over it… I’ll just have to continue living with it. Hopefully. it will lessen. I’m sure it won’t ever go away and I don’t really want it to.

“Grief can only live where love lived first”.

Struggling & Surviving

I know it’s been awhile. While I don’t like that it’s been so long, I am doing my best. I’m not going to make promises to do better because… I don’t want to set myself up for failure. If I can do better, I will.

I don’t even remember where I left off…

We did find a place to live, it’s in Burnsville. I’m so happy to be going back to that city. Even though I don’t care much for the name… BURNS-VILLE? Who came up with that? How? WHY? Ok, I couldn’t take it anymore. I did some research and if you can believe Wikipedia, “The name Burnsville is attributed to an early Irish settler and land owner, William Byrne. His surname was recorded as “Burns” and was never corrected”. Hmm. The city council must’ve been Irish too…

Anyway, we’re moving into a townhouse. It’s close to just about everywhere we go. I’m really excited. I think moving day will be July 28th. Now, if I could find the energy to start packing up boxes…

Work has been slow (and partially nonexistent when my car was out of commission). So, at the request of a friend, I applied for another job (to do in addition to, not instead of). Not many hours, which is ok with me. I’m still doing physical therapy for my back and am not 100% yet. It is a PCA job and while it’s nothing I’ve done before, the fact that my friend thought I would be good at it, really means a lot to me and makes me want to do my best.

Still, making ends meet is difficult. I know it is for most people. So what else can I do?

I can write.

I subscribe to a lot of writing newsletters, calls for submissions, writing groups etc. And I’ve found many writing projects, all of which pay. There is at least one a month, to keep me busy until November.

In May, I answered a call for submissions from “Chicken Soup” for the _________’s Soul about stepping outside your comfort zone. Trying something new. So I wrote a piece called “Mic Drop”. They say the selection process is a very long one, so not sure if/when I’ll hear back on that. I was just happy to have written and submitted something.

For June, I submitted and essay and a poem to a woman who is putting together a book called “Celebrating Sisters”. If you follow me on FB, I’m sure you saw the call. I wanted to do it. I wanted it to be an uplifting story. I wanted to let people know that even though Natalie is gone from this earth, she is not gone from my life. In some ways, I feel our relationship has gotten deeper. Stronger maybe. I believe she is ALWAYS with me. That’s really what I need. Someone who is totally focused, 100% on ME. 😛

I shed a lot of tears. I listened to her music as I wrote. I went through pictures. I cursed her. I told her I loved her and still love her… it was exhausting.

For July, I’m attempting to write for “Nevertheless We Persisted” about a turning point in our life.

2016 was such a terrible year for me… and there were many gifts that came along with the grief. I’m going to write about that. It’s due July 7th, so wish me luck!

August is about Risk. September is about Setting Boundaries. October about Mother’s of Angels and November on Redemption.

So that’s what’s been going on over on this end…

What have y’all been up to?

Acme’s Funniest Person Contest

Many of you know that last night I participated in Acme’s Funniest Person in the Twin Cities Contest. This is my third year entering and I’ve got to say, I LOVE it. I love Acme. I love the stage, the people, the crowd, the atmosphere… The headlining comedian last night said that being on the Acme stage was a dream come true. Some people laughed, even though I’m not sure he was joking… maybe but I didn’t laugh. It is a dream come true. This stage has hosted some of the hottest comedians today. Lewis Black, Arj Barker, Patton Oswalt, Jim Gaffigan and Louis C.K., not to mention two of my favorites: Chad Daniels and Jenny Zigrino. So, yes, standing where they stood? It IS a dream come true. Next dream? Stand on that stage and get paid. But, that’s a ways off, I know. Something to strive for, right?

Yesterday was a difficult day. I woke up not feeling well. Physically I ached. I was tired and sore. Mentally, I felt unprepared. Unfunny. Unworthy. I texted my best friend Shar, “I don’t want to go tonight. Not feeling well.” She asked what the real reason I didn’t want to go was and I told her. She did her due diligence, assuring me I am funny. I am good enough and she loves me, despite how I may feel about myself.

I went over and over my routine. Timing it, deciding I didn’t like it. Changing it. Timing it. Changing it. On and on… before I knew it, it was time to go.

Ugh, no matter how many times I do this, I get scared sick. I wanted to vomit. I couldn’t concentrate or sit still or listen…

I met the three other contestants. One guy, Josh, it was his 4th year entering the FPC. I believe it was Brandon’s second year, it was Brian’s first year and my third. Everyone was really nice. Brandon especially. He was quirky behind the curtain, funny in front of the mic and an all around encouraging person. I was definitely ok with losing to him!

So I didn’t win my night, but I had fun … a lot of laughs and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my score was high enough to make it to the top 25 and I’ll advance to the semi-finals in August!

Oh, I almost forgot! Natalie was there too. We parked behind a car whose license plate read HELLO. I thought “Um, hi” whoever you are… Then, in the bathroom, there was a door in the back. It looked like it had said Natural Disaster Shelter or something like that but the sticker had been ripped and now just said Nat. The final (because they come in 3’s) was when I was telling Don about the signs and I looked up and Shar and my mom were standing on either side of the parking spot 444. (A sign that angels are around)!

Oh Look, More Growth (gag)

Two steps out of Darlene Merchant’s office I thought:

“Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do I keep coming here when I know it will rip me…”

“Because” I interrupted “you know it helps”.

I lost my argument and won, I guess.

I had another Accelerated Resolution Therapy session today.

It had been awhile but I remembered exactly where we’d left off.

Each of us experienced an individual loss of Natalie. I lost a sister, my parents lost a daughter, so many people lost a friend… I think all of us were so in shock, I don’t remember hugging anyone. Except for Enid, right when I walked in the door. In the ART session, I needed a family hug. I needed to honor the loss of a family member, not just a sister but our entire family dynamic was forever changed. There was now a huge hole in our five person family.

So today we processed what happened once we got to LaSalle Apartments. It was the most agonizing wait. I can already feel my chest tighten, just thinking about it. What a contrast… it was a gorgeous day, the building was bright, clean and classic.

I remember sitting and holding myself. Pacing. Wondering what the fuck was taking so looong.

It was a nice conference room, big enough to accommodate all 10 of us. Room to roam but every second spent not talking to anyone who knew what was going on… It felt like my skin was on fire. I was fully awake, alive and still burning in Hell.

Finally, the Medical Examiner came to speak to us. Asked about her medical history etc.

It was when the detectives took my parents up to see Natalie for the last time that I lost it. It’s when reality set in that I would never see her again. Not the way I remembered her.

How we’ve been doing the ART in my sessions, is I go through the scene in my mind a couple of times. I do some body scans, notice what I’m feeling. Sometimes I sit with it then try to move it, other times I just move on to the “director’s scene”. I knew I was ready to move on because the director tried to jump in at every chance.

Here’s what happened once I “re-wrote the scene”.

Jessica let me into the apartment. I started yelling at the M.E. and the cops to get out. Just GET OUT. Once they were gone, I laid down on the bed with her. I held her. I cried into her hair. I told her I was sorry. When I looked up, Justin was on the bed too. The three of us held hands. At this point, I know my brain was tired and overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do because I saw my parents near the bed but they were like holograms. They were flickering, like I wasn’t sure if they should be there or it should just be us siblings. I ran through a quick log of memories, of the three of us. At the cabin, on vacation, when Justin was just a little guy…

God, it hurts.

Then I was down in the conference room. The M.E. started to name “the name of the deceased is…”

I flew towards him.

“Stop! Just stop.” I clamped my hand over his mouth.

“Not today. Don’t do this today. We need just one more day.” I told him.

By now I was sobbing.

We did a body scan and at first, I saw myself trying to push this mountain of grief away. It wouldn’t budge. I heard Nat laughing.

“You won’t get it to go that way,” she said.

Clouds appeared and parted. Sun rays came down, spilling onto the pile of unimaginable sadness and melted it. It looked like lava but quickly cooled and turned into a river.

We ended, as we always do, going across the bridge. Towards grandma’s fountain.

I started with my hospital blanket (because of the rough texture) around my shoulders and I leaned over the bridge to feed some koi fish. It was peaceful.

When I was ready, I finished crossing the bridge, taking my seat in front of the fountain. I tipped my head back, indulging in the slight breeze that blew before the sun set and the multi-colored lights of the fountain came on.

I felt almost… content. There was still a sadness. Originally, my body had felt heavy. Tired. Weighed down. Now, I was still tired but not in the same way. I was exhausted from feeling and working. I felt sad, but like the first few layers of lead had been lifted.

I’m not really looking forward to going back next week but I know I will.

I know I will and it will help.