Pass the happy pills!

Dear Amy: Almost 20 years ago when my husband and I were just 19 years old, he cheated on me.

Twenty years on, I’m still having a hard time trusting him.

Will I ever be able to trust him — or will I always feel this way?

What can I do to start trusting him?

I feel like I have some form of PTSD from it. He says he was young and made a mistake, but is that even a legitimate excuse? He has apologized so many times.

I just don’t know what to do. I want to live free. It is so time-consuming worrying about him and trying to track him.

I am constantly accusing him of things that turn out to be nothing.

We have five children together, and he is a wonderful dad and husband.

I know I’ll regret it later if I don’t get it together now.

How should I handle this?

— Suspicious

Suspicious: Twenty years is an extremely long time for you to live in a state of “high alert,” and for your husband to tolerate your ongoing and very disruptive and baseless accusations.

It is a testament to your mutual commitment to each other — and a marvel — that your marriage has survived.

Constant rumination paralyzes your problem-solving skills, distracts you from the positive tending of your relationships, can affect your physical health, and is overall very time-consuming. Your husband has been forced to react to your compulsions and accusations. And I assume you are exhausted from this.

A psychologist might diagnose you with obsessive rumination disorder, which can be triggered by PTSD. You might be introduced to mindfulness training, which is basically a technique where you purposefully and consciously yank your mind back to the present whenever you find yourself obsessing. You will be retraining your brain to refocus, and eventually your brain will refocus without your prompting.

Additionally, I am certain that you would benefit from “talk” therapy.

Why were you so traumatized by an event that many others process and recover from? Insight into this will be life-changing for you. Insight and self-knowledge will bring you into a new relationship with yourself, your husband and your children. (c) Ask Amy

Wow, Ask Amy, that’s harsh. Really harsh. I like to tell off letter writers as much as the next person, but this is someone who’s asking for help with the way her mind works, and she doesn’t know what to do. If she were “enjoying” the situation, she wouldn’t write in to ask for help, I wouldn’t think.

Why were you so traumatized by an event that many others process and recover from?

Wow. So infidelity is okay now? If someone asked me that question about my particular trauma (which wasn’t infidelity), I’d want to deck them. In fact, I’ve actually been there. People have told me that exact thing about my trauma, and it makes them seem ignorant. “Why can’t you get over it? It’s a normal parenting method.” Sorry, Ask Amy, but this isn’t a good day for you. This advice is dreadful.

Anyway, though, to answer the question of why the letter writer didn’t process and recover from it, nineteen is an emotional age, and since that time she’s had five kids. There hasn’t been any time for her to process it. My guess is that it wasn’t processed properly at the time, and that’s what’s causing the problem. That said, I don’t like the implication that the wounded party should “get over it already”.

Obviously it’s bad that she’s been pestering her husband over this for twenty years, but I think it’s unhelpful and unkind to make the letter writer feel bad about it. And I’m not even sure what to think. It’s possible that the letter writer has no mental illness whatsoever and is being massively gaslighted (gaslit?) by her husband. Maybe he got caught that one time and now knows how to cover his tracks. We don’t know for a fact that it isn’t the case.

His excuse is that he was young and made a mistake, which indicates he made that excuse years later (or he wouldn’t have been calling himself young). So at the time, he must’ve forced her to get over it and move on, which is incredibly unhelpful. I can see him saying, “Sorry, I made a stupid mistake,” and then privately thinking, because I got caught. Never again. 

It could help, if the problem is on her end, to see a psychiatrist for the obsessiveness. Personally, I take Prozac for obsessive tendencies, and I spiral into complete irrationality that I cannot get a grip on when I’m off the Prozac or not getting enough of it (due to changing seasons and/or monthly hormones). It could be a direct fix for her thinking patterns.

Prozac and other antidepressants, from what I can tell, work by thinning out your thoughts so that you can’t dwell, obsess, or fall too deep into sadness. That’s why antidepressants are also used for OCD. But I’m not a doctor, so don’t quote me on it. It’s why I suspect, though, that my short-term memory is shot to hell: not as a side effect of Prozac, but a direct effect. At any rate, she should seriously look into it, especially if talk therapy doesn’t get it done (and my hunch is that it won’t, because she’s got twenty years invested in this obsession. Good lord, get this woman some pills).

Some sort of miracle.

I have no clue how to account for this. My life has devolved into some sort of hellish existence filled with drama and snark and pain. Surely my mother must be involved, right? 

I was engaged in combat with some people, and I don’t even know what went wrong. I keep replaying it in my mind. On Monday and Tuesday, I was stressed. We all know that. But what went wrong? 

While I was at my brother’s house for five hours, he asked me to be there and accept a furniture delivery and then to watch it out front to make sure no one stole it–it was too heavy for me to bring in, and the delivery people had a rule about not taking anything up the porch stairs. 

I rolled out of bed thirty-five minutes after my alarm started playing, raced outside in my pyjamas and house-slippers, and drove to his house, praying I wouldn’t get mixed up by the one-way streets. Then I parked and ran in the rain for three blocks to find his house, and then I was there, and life made sense. 

But during the five hours, I had no entertainment, and that felt quite mind-numbing. The delivery showed up after three hours, and the delivery guy frowned at me when I handed him the signed papers. I didn’t know what I’d done wrong. Then, while I kept an eye on the delivery out front from my brother’s window seat, several dog walkers scowled at me for having something out front that was blocking the walking path. Not my fault, people, not my fault. 

My paranoia must’ve gotten triggered by all that. 

My brother paid me a measly $25 for my efforts, and I asked him how to get home, but his response made no sense, so I prayed for luck on the way home. I only got turned around once… no, twice… so that was good. 

When I got home, I read what my dad had written about me for the disability people. He accused me of having “preposterous” paranoid ideas, and of being incapable of having in-person relationships. He and I argued, and I was very hurt by it. 

Things went to hell on the forum that afternoon/evening. I wasn’t equipped to cope with it. My paranoia must’ve been off the charts at that point. And the next day, I took my mom to the drugstore to get her flu shot. She acted like such a diva. (To my loyal followers, I’m guessing that last sentence was superfluous.) 

That afternoon/evening, I equally (if not moreso) was ill-equipped to cope with the horrors of the forum. But why do I blame myself? I had nothing to do with the forum’s decision to implode. Even if I hadn’t been a stress-mess, it would’ve been impossible for me to deal with. The people over there feed on vitriol and pain. I don’t understand that dynamic. I’m the sort of person who wants to smooth things over or put them to rest.

Yeah, I can hold a grudge for years, but what I mean is that if someone makes minor steps toward reparation, I accept it; but on the forum, everyone else will keep stirring the pot and pooh-poohing those efforts, like, “Your semi-apology is an affront to us all! How dare you passive-aggressively pretend to apologize when you followed it up with a snarky comment!” I’m not like that. I like to move on and put stuff in the past, if that makes sense. Like, I don’t want to beat a deat horse. If someone’s sorry or backpedaling, I’m happy about it. But the forumites want to dig in with their talons and keep the pain cycling. I think that explains it. 

This even happened to me recently. One of my very favorite friends apologized for something, and then he later read an email I’d sent him prior to that, that he hadn’t gotten to reading yet, and he replied to it, “I think I’ve apologized enough,” and I was like, “Uh, of course you have! You read that email out of order. I’m not one to beat a dead horse. I appreciate your apology and feel the need to apologize as well.” 

But the dynamic of… bludgeoning someone over something is painful to me. Like, “I’m sorry I ruined your day.” 

“No! You’ve ruined my whole life! You’re terrible! Let’s list everything you’ve ever done wrong!” 

I can sort of see that if you’re that angry and/or suspect the apology’s insincere, but to react that way all the time creates a sort of hellish landscape that no one can ever break free from. You become trapped and suspended in a controlling universe. It’s like, you know what? The person apologized in half of their forum post. Focus on the good instead of continuing to stir the pot. That’s all I’m saying. 

And the forumites flat-out refused to harmonize with that end goal in mind. It was the opposite. When there’s no give and take, you can’t successfully navigate a huge blowup. I suspect that if someone had apologized with 100% sincerity, it still would’ve been met with the dire need to keep the drama going at any cost. And that sort of sickens me. My central nervous system isn’t built for it. I’m built for peace and harmony and getting along. I’m too fragile to handle…

I’m remembering something. I took an extra Seroquel an hour ago (it’s allowed), and it’s kicking in right now. I’m remembering how my mom would withhold forgiveness for long stretches of time, during which time she’d act deeply wounded and put-upon. It was one of the things she’d do that was damaging to me. Nothing good came from it. But that doesn’t explain why I get so triggered by people who are vindictive and hurtful. My mom did way worse stuff than that. Hmm….

I mean, she blamed me for her mental issues, saying I was manipulative and sadistic, and that I enjoyed playing the “let’s upset Mommy today” game, and winning at it. Old news. So how does that tie into my inability to handle intense lack of forgiveness? I feel really close to it, but the drugs are kicking in and I’m not sure…

I guess to me, for whatever reason, when there’s no peace and everyone’s angry and being unyielding, it feels like mental torture. And it really hurts. 

I might get into the miraculous nature of this tomorrow. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When life imitates fiction…

This is totally creeping me out. I lay in bed last night and wanted to do some soul-searching about how awful things went on the forum and how it tore me apart. What I realized blew my mind and caused my eyes to pop open under the covers. The whole event seemed to follow the short story I wrote for said forum’s contest last weekend.

I won’t reprint the whole story here, so check out that post if you haven’t yet! First off, the story takes place in New York City, and the forum I use is for a competition that’s based in New York City.

Jeanne has a nightmare that wakes her up. Likewise, what happened on the forum upset me so much that I had a nightmare several nights ago that actually made me wake up screaming.

Jeanne is afraid that life itself can’t be trusted, that no higher force is looking out for her, but she’s been trying hard to overcome that, so when her boyfriend proposes to her and she flees, she immediately feels guilty about having treated him that way.

In turn, I had reason to not trust the forum (due to a disturbing incident almost two years ago), but I was starting to think, oh, you know, the forum’s a safe place. I’ll be okay there.

And then, as soon as Jeanne’s making progress toward feeling safer, a plane flies into the World Trade Center.

And then, as I was feeling safer on the forum, things went to hell in two seconds.

(I’m not trying to compare these two situations’ gravity–not remotely. That’s not the point here.)

Jeanne hoped it was a fluke (the plane colliding with a tower), but she wasn’t gullible enough to fall for that, so she ordered her friend to leave the other tower.

I had a sinking feeling as soon as things went south on the forum, and I reported the thread to management on Monday. It wasn’t dealt with until yesterday (Friday).

Jeanne saw the second tower get hit and knew she’d been right that the evil had deliberate (not accidental) intent.

I got caught up in watching people trash each other, not from a place of anger (which I can relate to), but from a place of getting off on causing problems, laughing at others, and enjoying watching others suffer (none of which I can relate to, unless I’ve gone someplace awful in my mind). In other words, I wasn’t merely witnessing anger. I was witnessing deliberate cruelty and destruction.

Jeanne saw one of her friend’s coworkers and ran up to him to find out where her friend was. The guy was spaced out and couldn’t offer any help.

I tried to get everyone on the forum to quit being cruel, and I got nowhere.

The entire tower (only one of them in my story’s timeline) collapsed.

That forum went straight to hell. There’s no other way to describe it.

Jeanne realized she was in over her head with blaming herself for stuff that was out of her control.

I realized that the forum is a den of iniquity and a hotbed of sin, and I asked to have my account deleted from it.

We don’t find out if Jeanne’s best friend survived, but she probably didn’t.

Part of me died this week from being exposed to so much unmerited and inexcusable cruelty.

Jeanne made her way back to the one source of support she knew she could count on.

I’m here blogging where I know that sort of unthinkable hostility won’t happen.

Yeah, it’s just freaking me out like you wouldn’t believe. How does that work? You write a story and then it takes on a life of its own?

At any rate, I finally got myself deleted from the forum. (I practically had to beg the competition head to do it, and he finally got it done.) Those lowlifes can feed on each other now without poisoning me. I hope they destroy each other. I know that sounds cruel, but they deserve it.

I’m meant for better things.

The end of an era.

I feel miserable. I’m not even sure how to describe what’s wrong. It has to do with the forum. I went back there, and as soon as I was there, I felt attacked. No particular reason, but I’ve created a fear response with the forum. That was why I felt attacked. It’s not that anyone was really attacking me… not yet.

But my nervous energy soon turned to anger, and I started sending angry PMs to the main participants in the recent thread from hell. I sent one to someone who I used to be friends with. I said, “Do you know what a pot-stirrer is? Why are you doing that? Don’t you want peace?”

She wrote back and said that she’d asked me long ago not to contact her again, and that she’d report me for harassment if I replied, and that she’s blocked me everywhere she can over the years.

Holy shit. Usually I know it when someone’s my enemy. I must not have gotten the memo.

I’m flabbergasted, to say the least. And it probably goes without saying that it made me feel worse. All I can remember is that she and I used to be friends, and we disagreed over some stuff, but nothing major. Then the forum went to hell for the first time  almost two years ago in early 2019 (the second time being recently), and I couldn’t cope with what was happening. She sent me a PM, but I couldn’t cope with whatever it said, because I knew it must have something to do with the drama, and I was going under really fast. I never opened her PM. I emailed her and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t open your message. I couldn’t cope with all that was going on.

Ah-hah! I searched my email. I must’ve blocked this from my memory. (Trust me, that’s not too surprising.) After the last incident in January of 2019, I emailed her thusly:

I just sent NYC Midnight an email asking them to remove me from the forum. This is crap. I don’t understand why you’re backing this verbal assault upon someone (who, for the life of me, I still can’t identify). It’s wrong. It’s grandstanding and getting up on a high horse, and it’s not okay. I’m through. I try not to treat people that way. It is a lynch mob. And that’s not cool.

I think I emailed her because I was going under and couldn’t hold on, and I believed her to be behind a lot of it. And her response was:

You made your point clear in the forum – there is no need to reinforce by sending your spite to me privately. I’m sorry that you couldn’t be bothered to read the post or understand the thread before attacking people.

If I can interject here, the whole thread was about attacking a nameless person who allegedly gave insensitive criticism to people about their stories. Everyone piled on, and no one would say who the target was. I feared the target was me (it wasn’t), and I fell apart on the thread.

I hope that whatever is causing you to be so attacking, hostile, and unreasoning resolves for you quickly. When it does, you owe several people – *especially Nick – apologies. I won’t be responding to you again until that occurs.

Best of luck to you.

I guess she spent a while thinking I’d apologize? [Eyeroll.] Nick, whom she referenced, kept grandstanding and essentially preventing anyone from working through the issues. I added him to my “list” but I blocked out that Nixie hated me.

I was talking to the aforementioned unidentified person, and she thinks I’m overreacting. She keeps telling me that people like to be mean, and it’s human nature, and why can’t I accept it? (She somehow handled being so accused a lot better than I did when I thought it was me, but she knew it was her. Am I emotionally weak in this regard?) (That was how we became friends–she told me, “It’s not you, it’s me.”)

Is this true? Am I overreacting because of how I have no capacity at all to deal with all this drama? The guy who runs the contest seemed to imply the same thing when he emailed me. He said, “Sometimes negativity occurs on the forum,” and I’m like, did you not read the whole thread? Negativity is akin to pessimism. But bullying people, being snarky, and deliberately jumping in to make things worse are all horrible behaviors. Negativity is a bad outlook. But it’s also a very euphemistic word to describe the cruelty that occurred at the forum.

So now I’m trying to explain to my friend why I need to leave the forums, that when things were going well a while back with my NaNoWriMo and 3-day Novella threads, it lured me into a false sense of complacency in which I thought the forum was a safe place.

I was so wrong.

I need to accept that my days on the forum are over. I can’t work with hostile, snarky, cruel energy. It doesn’t mix with who I am. I can be that way. I’m not saying I can’t. (See the above message I sent two years ago in early 2019.) I’m just saying that when other people live in a world of it, I can’t expose myself to it because it corrupts me. It’s over. My time on the forum is over. And it’ll be okay, I hope.

I don’t do forums. I just need to accept this. There’s something about the group dynamic combined with internet anonymity (or at least the physical distance of being behind a keyboard, even if people know who you are) that creates a situation that’s not healthy for me. I just can’t continue to do forums, this one or any other one.

I fear time will pass and I’ll want to go back to the forums. I’m shaking my head at myself over that. Oh God, protect me from my own optimism and don’t let me return. Ever.

Answering some questions on my own today!

TRIGGER WARNING: very mild discussion of suicidality in the second letter.

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: What should I have said to this person? While I was talking to an acquaintance about my parents he indirectly said that life expectancy for someone born in 1952 is 67 years. My parents were born in 1950 & 1952 they are both in good health at ages 68 and 70. I don’t have to talk to this “acquaintance” ever again. I would just feel better if someone would tell me how I should have responded to his “comment” about life expectancy.

This is one of those situations where you want a witty response but you’re so floored that you’re only going to come up with one after the fact. So what I’d recommend, since few of us are on-the-ball comedians, is to take the angry approach. “Why would you try to make it sound miraculous that my parents are still alive? Do you have any idea how hurtful that is?”

It’s a real downer when someone points out your parents’ life expectancies. I agree with your decision to limit exposure to this clod.

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: My 16-year old son is constantly dwelling on the fact that he thinks he’s ugly. For the record, he isn’t. My husband and I say that he looks nice and very handsome at least twice a day. He gets upset because he only hears it from us, apparently, which I don’t believe. Anyway, how can I do more to help? He’s concerned with his weight. He’s far from fat, but he’s not toned like the other boys in his class, and that makes him feel ugly. He also doesn’t like his clothes or his room because he feels like they’re just so boring and basic. Now, I understand where he’s coming from regarding his room because it looks like a prison cell in there, with bare white walls, a window that’s locked, shut blinds that are always closed, and a bed he’s been sleeping on for about 12 years now. We never bothered to get him posters or anything special for his room because for the longest time, he didn’t seem to care. Finally, he doesn’t have any friends at all. He’s been labeled as one of the “weird kids” for so long that people won’t approach him. That may not sound in relation to the problem at hand but he’s constantly beating himself up because he knows he has the potential to be the popular kid, and he knows he can have everything he wants right now in life socially and physically, but he has zero motivation and would rather kill himself instead of trying to change. As his parents can we help?

You have a very glib attitude about your son’s suicidality. First and foremost, talk of suicide should be taken seriously. Although I suspect he might not be genuinely suicidal (keep reading), I’m not equipped to make that call, and no mention of suicide should be cast aside as inconsequential. He might need professional help for that ASAP. I don’t know if he needs talk therapy or medication or what, but you could start with his general doctor, who might be able to point you in the right direction. For a more urgent threat, call 911 or a suicide hotline.

Everything else seems obvious, at least to me. You didn’t get him posters for his room because he didn’t care? Guess what? Now he cares. So what flows logically here? Get him some posters!

BUT! While you’re at it, redo his whole room. Paint doesn’t cost much, and neither do curtains and nice bedding. Give him a budget and unleash him on Amazon and at Home Depot. hate his room, and all I did was read about it!

Also, your son shouldn’t aspire to being “the popular kid”. He should aspire to expressing himself as he is and finding people who appreciate him for that.

And no, he can’t have everything he wants in life socially. There’s no magic pill for that. I wouldn’t put that pressure on him.

As for his physique, it’s incredibly hard for some people to be self-motivated, especially at his age. You need to put him into a weight-lifting class or some martial arts, or wrestling, etc., etc. Rather than expecting him to have the discipline to get up and lift weights all on his own, you should guide him to a twice-weekly (or so) class that’s structured to meet his needs.

You should also take him to church and have him join its youth group. The kids there might not be from his school, so he can reinvent himself as he sees fit.

It sounds like (possibly) he’s telling you in his own way what his needs are, you’re sitting on your hands and doing nothing, and he’s mock-threatening suicide. While I don’t condone playing the S-card when you’re not genuinely suicidal, think about this from his perspective: he tells you he wants to tone up, you do nothing. He tells you he hates his room, you do nothing. He tells you he has no friends, you do nothing. You sound like a caring parent, but you need to become more action-oriented. Now get moving!

My short story!

Hey guys! I can’t share my story over at the forum because it’s gone to hell, so I figured I’d share it here! This is © Meg Kimball, 2020. My assignment was to write a 1,000-word story taking place at a newsstand with the genre of historical fiction and the inclusion of a parking meter. (Because there have been so many parking meters throughout history, am I right?) MAJOR shout-out to my beta readers again!! You guys are great!! All of your comments helped turn an unclear story into a more cohesive one!

Out of Her Hands

Jeanne jerked upright in bed with a gasp. She’d had her recurring nightmare, the one where her beloved proposed to her and then died on their wedding day. But it wasn’t just a bad dream. It was real, and it was her fault. If only she’d never met him… he would’ve been elsewhere. The car wreck wouldn’t have happened.

But this morning’s nightmare was worse… something about letting go and falling… falling…

Peter. Are you there? Over the past five years, Jeanne often sensed him lingering in the spaces between her waking life and her dreamscapes.

Jeanne.

“Top of the morning, princess.” Lamar exited their bathroom with shaving cream on his face. “Sure you want to spend your day off with me?”

She loved Lamar for different reasons but often feared he’d die, too. At least they weren’t engaged. She nodded, stretched, and forced a smile.

**********

Lamar owned a newsstand. Jeanne worked for a realty firm, but she only had minor appointments that day, which she’d delegated to colleagues.

The early morning rush kept Jeanne busy. Lamar appreciated the help since his employee was having surgery. After 8:00, the morning crowd thinned.

“Hey, Jeanne, do we have any more of the Times?” Lamar pointed to a box in the corner.

Jeanne opened the box and saw a startling message taped to the pile: Jeanne, Will You Marry Me? Below it was a photo of her and Lamar. She turned and took in his dumb grin, his lopsided hat, his eager hope for a positive response.

She fled.

**********

Insensitive brute. She raced up the sidewalk. He signed his own death warrant, and I’m supposed to be happy about it. Dammit!

Opening her flip phone, she dialed her best friend Ruthie’s office landline.

“Jeanne? What’s up?”

“He proposed, the brute. He freakin’ went there.”

“Yay! Oh, that’s wonderful news. Congratulations!”

“It’s a mess. I shouldn’t have flipped out, but…” Jeanne slowed her stride. “I should go back, right?”

“You left? Oh! He loves you. He’ll under—”

BOOM. The earth shook. Jeanne bumped into a parking meter. “Ruthie? What happened? Are you okay? We had an earthquake…?”

Jeanne heard ongoing screaming through the phone.

“Oh my God! The other tower… hit. We can see it… window,” Ruthie shouted over the din. “Someone… an airplane.”

“What?!” Jeanne turned toward the World Trade Center. Heavy black smoke hugged one tower in a claustrophobic death grip.

“Oh my God, people… up high… going to jump,” Ruthie yelled. “Don’t jump!”

“Get out!” Jeanne rushed toward the towers. “Get out of the building now.”

“No, no, the other… hit, not mine. I’m fine…. are more jumpers.”

“Dammit! Get out of that building right now! Just do it.”

Jeanne stopped speed-walking and took several breaths. Faster action might’ve saved Peter after his accident. Jeanne needed to catch her breath and fix this. “Ruthie? Talk to me.”

“Yeah… here. No one… what to do. It’s—it’s crazy.”

“I’m telling you: hang up the damn phone and get the hell out of there. Now.”

“Uh, sure, okay. Love…!” Click.

Jeanne continued the trek toward the towers. Several blocks nearer, she shut her eyes and prayed to a God she no longer admired. Spare Ruthie, and I’ll return to You. I promise. Just get her out of there.

She opened her eyes in time to see a plane fly into Ruthie’s tower. BOOM. Part of the plane went all the way through and kept going.

Her phone rang, displaying Lamar’s name onscreen. “Lamar?”

“Jeanne? What’s happening? Everyone’s saying—”

“I have to find Ruthie.”

“But—”

She slammed her phone shut.

She neared the towers. People were leaping to their deaths, and rescue workers were rushing around in a helpless dance. This wasn’t happening, couldn’t be happening. Peter, I need you.

She scanned the chaos. Wasn’t that Ruthie’s coworker? Jeanne broke into a run, passing the towers and continuing to a nearby café. She raced inside. “Rafael,” she panted, sitting across from him. “Where’s Ruthie?”

He stared past her. “I don’t know. Lost her. Said she had to grab something off her desk, I think?” His expression went vacant, unseeing.

Jeanne shoved his words from her mind. It didn’t matter if Ruthie grabbed something. It mattered if she got out.

She tuned out the people rushing around outside. Peter, you have to save Ruthie from her own stupidity. Please don’t let me down.

I’m here, Peter whispered. I’ve got eyes on Ruthie. Believe in me, love. I’m always with you.

For well over half an hour, she scanned the outside area for any sign of Ruthie. No luck.

She thought hard. Ruthie would probably go to the newsstand. Jeanne had to get back there. Her phone rang. It was Lamar again.

“Have you seen Ruthie?” she asked immediately.

“What? No. Where is she?”

“I don’t know. I begged her to leave the building. She wouldn’t listen.”

“I’ll look out for her.”

“I’m coming back. Bye.” Jeanne left the café and ran. Suddenly, the earth roared and moaned, opening itself up to swallow an entire building. Jeanne grabbed ahold of a parking meter. Dirt. Debris. Tiny scrapes on her skin. She opened her eyes. The world had been powdered. She coughed and kicked her way through dry slush. White papers flew through the air, untainted confetti of the innocent dead. The silence was an inviolate sanctity.  

Jeanne put one foot in front of the other and quieted her mind. She didn’t let herself picture the best-friends paperweight on Ruthie’s desk. If that’s what Ruthie had gone back for… No, surely, she’d gone back for her purse. But…

In a flash, Jeanne intuited that Peter’s death wasn’t her fault. Life followed an unpredictable pattern that wasn’t her burden to bear. It was God’s. Sobs overtook her. She turned a corner. Almost there.

I love you, Peter—always and forever, Jeanne said silently. If Ruthie joins you, take care of her. She staggered toward the newsstand, ready to embrace her own salvation.

The week from hell is upon us, and it’s only Wednesday?!

If this week was a ship that I could valiantly leap off of, it would be “woman overboard!!!” in two seconds.

Okay, it hasn’t been that bad.

Meg, have you lost your mind? Pollyanna herself would quit playing the glad game at this point. 

To recap a few points, on Monday I spent five mindnumbing hours at my brother’s house waiting for a furniture delivery. I say mindnumbing because I don’t have portable internet, and I was bored senseless. This can actually be hard on me psychologically.

Later that day, I read what my dad wrote about me for the governmental disability people (so I can maintain my disabled status–they check in once every few years). I confronted him about it and we fought bitterly. He called it “preposterous” that I was (and still am) convinced that my sister tried to kill my mom, and he said I’ve rightfully given up on any in-person relationships. There was something else he said, too, but I’m forgetting. I confronted him and he got mad. He said, “You really shouldn’t have read that!”

And I was like, “Well… DUHHHHH!” complete with a ridiculously offensive facial expression.

And he said, “And yes, it’s definitely preposterous. Your sister isn’t murderous. When are you going to accep that?!”

Never. But oh well.

That night too, things started going south on my forum, which I’ve felt more trustful of over the past few years. Feeling more trustful was an error in judgment on my part.

Come Tuesday (yesterday), I took my mom to the drugstore and she acted like the train wreck that she is. You all can find a recent post of mine about that.

Later on Tuesday, I had a meltdown on the forum and couldn’t cope with it any longer. I told them all I want to leave the forum, and the reason I told them that (instead of just leaving) is that I was sobbing hysterically and falling apart. To summarize the thread over there, someone complained about their assigned story prompt. (It was a fake ID–the object to appear in the story.) Everyone else was like, “Deal with it, loser, or find another contest to enter.”

Then someone else said, “I understand how you feel about the prompts,” to the original poster; and then everyone jumped all over that person and ganged up on her. I yelled at everyone to stop it, and then people started commenting about how much they freakin’ enjoy watching people have meltdowns, how it freakin’ entertains them when people fall apart. I’m as big a fan of shadenfreude as the next person, but what they’re describing seems borderline psychopathic to me.

So I left the forum last evening, logged out and everything, and if I have any sense, I won’t go back. I sent two emails to the competition begging them to delete me from the forums. (That won’t affect my standing in the contests–the forum is separate and optional.) I don’t know if they deleted me as requested, because I’m not going back to find out. Here’s hoping I’ve been “cancelled”.

I had insomnia until 3:00 AM, and then at some point last night I had a nightmare. We were kids, and my maternal grandmother was mad at my sister, but my sister couldn’t escape. This enabled my grandmother to grab her and start spanking her. My sister felt humiliated and violated and horrified, and I shrieked loud enough to wake myself up. Same old, same old.

This morning, one person from the forum sent me an “are you okay?” message, but I can’t read it without logging back into the forum. Not happening.

Then I logged into facebook, and my psychic friend Ash wanted to talk to me on the phone. She gave me her number and I called her.

“I had a nightmare last night,” she told me. I raised an eyebrow. So had I. And Ash didn’t know how awful yesterday was for me. “Spirit says my nightmare was about you, even though the characters were me and my family. I dreamed I was being chased around the house by my mom, who was wielding a knife, and I couldn’t escape. That level of violence is horrific. Did you experience that as a child? I already know you were spanked all the time.”

“Well, yeah,” I told her. “My mom would seek me out wherever I was in our mansion and engage me in one of her power struggles. I’d resist her, and she’d spank me, and then I was free to escape. It happened all the time. The only knife incident I recall is when my dad had me cornered in the kitchen and he wanted to spank me, but I grabbed a paring knife off the table, aimed it toward my chest, and told him to back off or I’d stab myself. He backed off–go figure.” I wondered if the knife in Ash’s dream was symbolic of something. Hmm… a knife draws blood. Blood equals life energy. Knifing someone would equate to sucking their energy away with deliberate intent.

“Right,” Ash said. “I had the strong feeling of being pursued and chased.”

“No place was safe,” I said. “My reality was hellish and horrific for years, and there were a few incidents of torture-level violence thrown in for good measure.”

“I just wonder if you’re forgetting something even more traumatic. Spanking doesn’t seem too horrific.”

“No, there’s just… it was awful. Just constant and degrading and humiliating. In retrospect, even a small fraction of it would cause me to collapse if it were to happen to me today.”

As we were talking, my dad walked past his bedroom, looked in, saw me using his phone, and waved. (That’s one of a few reasons I’ll go into his room. That, and so I can sneak his snack foods.) I suspect he must’ve overheard part of our talk.

She told me about a YouTube psychologist she follows and said she senses a connection between him and me, and she urged me to reach out to him. He was in the dream after she was chased with a knife.

I promised her I’d look into the psychologist and contact him if I felt so called. Who knows? I’ll definitely follow through on that. I told her of my plans to read a book that has great reviews and claims to help you learn to do self-EMDR. I told her I haven’t read it yet because I’ve been engrossed in writing my memoir. (This is true. Even yesterday I had a good writing session between disasters.) She said she believes the book will help me, and that she’s glad to offer me reassurance that I’m on the right path. You gotta love Ash.

I was glad not to have too many concerned emails from forumites and friends connected to the forum in my inbox this morning. Whenever I lose it completely like I did last night, talking to people about it makes me feel really self-conscious and sort of stupid.

So, as of now, it’s Wednesday, just after 2:00 PM. Worst week ever. (But God bless my psychic friend Ash!) Is there any way I can just leap forward to Sunday? Hmm…. hibernation, perhaps?

A banana peel from God.

I went to take my mom to get a flu shot today, and she was not on her best behavior. When I opened my car door in her condo’s parking lot, I saw a banana peel at my feet. I’m not usually superstitious, but sometimes you have to admit that symbolism can appear at the oddest of places. It was like a portend of doom from the universe, but what could it mean? Hmm…. banana peels underfoot… slipping and falling… my mother. Turn back! Turn back while you still can! Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. 

I silently thanked the banana peel for its message, kicked it out of my way, and approached my mom’s condo. She was coming down her stairs with the condo door open, because she’d been waiting for my arrival but had to go back upstairs to get her mask. We exchanged greetings, and she tried to maneuver her cane to get down off the very lowest step. But she hurled her body through space, and I was prepared for it. I caught her at ground-level.

That was a divine banana peel.

She burst into tears and sobbed. “Oh! If you hadn’t been here, I would’ve fallen.”

“Well, I am here. Come on, let’s go.”

I got her into my car and drove us up the street to the drugstore. I got her out of the car and up onto the curb and inside the store and behind the wheel of a cart (she finds them more helpful than a cane) and back to the pharmacy counter, where the pharmacist tech wanted to see her Medicare card.

“It’s in my purse,” my mom stated. “OH MY GOD WHERE’S MY PURSE!!!”

I groaned. “It must still be in the car,” I said slowly.

“NOOOO! OUR LIVES ARE RUINED! I NEED MY PURSE!” She turned the cart around and was about to rush out of the store, but I stopped her.

“You’re not going anywhere. Now, you sit yourself down and I’ll go get your purse.” I managed to get her seated, and I left the drugstore.

There was her purse, mixed in with and hidden by some trash on the floor of my car. I grabbed it and went back inside. When she saw her purse, she sobbed and made a scene.

Hanging out while she got the flu shot was an ordeal. She didn’t obey the pharmacists or understand their instructions. She kept asking them things that were redundant or unnecessary. I’d checked out mentally by that point.

After she got the shot, she needed to get a few items. I’m not making this up: she plowed over a man in the incontinence aisle. I detoured so I wouldn’t have to listen to his assurances that he was okay.

Then there was the production in the dairy aisle. “Are they out of milk? How could this happen?! Our lives are ruined, ruined, ruined.”

We got in line.

“Excuse me!” my mom yelled to the person ahead of us. “Are you in line?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m sorry! I had a stroke, and now I’m feeble.”

“Oh, you’re okay,” the woman said.

We got up to the cashier, where my mom couldn’t figure out how to use her credit card. The cashier said to me, “Ma’am, are you with her?”

I nodded reluctantly.

“Can you help her get her card in the slot?”

I grabbed it from her hand and slid it into the chip reader.

We finally made it out to the car. My mom was acting all chatty and glib when she looked into my back seat and asked, “What’s in that box?”

Not to be easily distracted, I ignored her question and focused on helping her, but sure enough, she hit her head on the car while sitting in the passenger seat. There were more tears.

I got into the car and gave her a stern lecture for having a meltdown over her purse and for not focusing on safety while getting back into my car. “Priorities are important,” I told her. It went in one ear and out the other.

“You see how helpless I am!” she wailed.

“No,” I said. “There was no excuse to break down over your purse.”

“I need my cell phone! I need my credit cards! My life would be ruined without them! Oh, they’re so very important to me. You don’t understand how hard it is–”

“They can be replaced.”

Back at her condo, I got her inside and left.

It’s odd how often narcissism goes hand-in-hand with histrionic personality disorder.

I believe!

I don’t have a huge knowledge of astrology beyond knowing that my sign is Taurus the Bull. But a few times over the past few years I’ve noticed that I’ll share a problem with a friend and she’ll reply, “That’s happened to other people I know too lately.” So it finally clicked in my brain that there could be something to the concept of planetary alignment with people collectively dealing with difficulties at the same time.

Today, I argued vehemently with my dad. He and I can go for years without a blowup. That’s not an exaggeration. And massive shout-out to Ashley Leia for offering support!!

Then, I went to my forum, the one that’s been peaceful ever since the “Incident” several years ago. It was no longer peaceful there today. Snarkiness, ganging up on someone, and all the rottenness were back. However, it wasn’t as bad as the “Incident”, so no one panic. (For the curious, check out the thread called “An objection to plot-filled objects!”)

Then, I got into a semi-argument with a friend from the forum with whom I’ve never argued before. She said she enjoyed the drama, and she was mad at me for reporting the thread. Heated words weren’t exchanged, or anything like that, but I was somewhat taken aback by her stance.

So I finally asked my psychic friend, Ash, what’s going on astrologically. Apparently, it’s something called “mercury retrograde in scorpio.” And Ash said it’s definitely a difficult experience. I’m a believer.

I have no clue what “mercury retrograde in scorpio” means specifically, but I have observed that Scorpios are very hard to get along with. I knew a guy once who turned me off of Scorpios for good. Put it that way. And I think you all know I refuse to date any Pisces or Aries men. What does that leave, nine signs? Eh.

Oh! Also, Ash did my natal chart. Here’s a fun image of it!

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She gave me a reading about what all the lines mean, and I might blog about it later! Until then, I’m trying to avoid conflict wherever it may find me. (Run! Run!)

Ambiguity!

Okay, so it’s stunningly ambiguous as to whether or not this guy likes me. He thanked me for the cute video and said “You’re welcome,” as well, and he reread my story as soon as he got up and sent final revisions. After I submitted them, I told him I’d done so and was ready to party, and he wrote back again and said that decompressing after these things gets easier. (I hope he’s right! Pass the bourbon!)

So, yeah, no clue if he likes me. He seems to, but generally guys will let you know. It’s one thing they don’t show by actions, but by words only, meaning he’s probably not into me because he hasn’t said so. But you never know. Actions definitely speak to a person’s character, so I’d say he’s a great person for helping me out by beta reading, but actions don’t speak to whether a guy likes you. If you have to ask, he probably doesn’t. Oh well.

I’ve got a huge week planned. I’m shuddering just thinking about it. The only good news is that I should earn some money, which is great because it’ll fund my gambling addiction. Go ponies! I’m going wild with my superfectas!

(I have to throw stuff like that in there in case my family members are reading my blog. You never know, and I wouldn’t put it past them.)

Tomorrow I have to go over to my brother’s house again. Last time it was to greet his chandelier installer, and tomorrow he’s having some furniture delivered.

On Tuesday, I have to take my mother to the drugstore. In good news, it’s up the street from her house and we’re going on foot. No driving. In bad news, it’s my mother. I think that says it.

Oh, hey, Ashley Leia, my mom’s going to pay for me to get a flu shot, which I think you approve of based on your blog post about getting the flu shot. She wants me to have one, and I’m not opposed to it except that without insurance, it would be $70 at the local grocery store. One less thing to worry about this winter!

After that point, my week will clear up, but things could get fun around then because we’ll be able to post our stories on the forum. I’m just feeling tired now, though, and my alarm’s set for tomorrow. You’d think going to my brother’s house to watch furniture would be the easier of two tasks, but:

  1. I’ll never master the one-way streets of Old Louisville, and
  2. I have to stay there for three hours or longer until my brother comes home from work. At least he’s paying me $25 for gas and such, which he offered after my initial response to this arrangement was, “Uhhhhhh.”

I want to get back into writing my memoir, but right now I’m conked and have already taken my nightly sedatives. Hopefully they’ll kick in soon.

The contest results come in very early December, six-and-a-half weeks from now. I’m hopeful!!

Sorry there are no obscene photos in this blog post! Maybe next time!

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