Another year gone and a new one started. Same as every year; takes a few weeks to automatically write 2017 on our checks instead of 2016. Resolutions made; some will be kept and some ~ not so much. Another year added to our age and if there are still children in the house, another year closer to their tweens, high school or leaving the nest. Some of us may lose an aging parent, a job, become engaged, marry or even or divorce. The year is a bit over one week old so essentially a blank slate.
Anyone who reads my posts surely must recall what I’m looking forward to. My seven months overdue Botox for Migraine injections which I’m thrilled to say I received on January 2 and already booked my 3 month appointment. Now I’m counting down the days till January 31 when I have the vision in my right eye corrected with a simple laser treatment. That still won’t restore my near vision and I can’t make an appointment for my left eye until the right one is done. I also can’t make an appointment for a refraction (eyeglass fitting) until both eyes are done. Whenever I have the refraction done I’m getting measured for contact lenses because losing my near vision overnight isn’t working out too well for me. I haven’t knit or read a book since the winter of 2015-2016 ~ one year ago. I’m up to the highest strength of cheater glasses so hope this can be finished up as soon as possible. But I have the January 31 appointment so I’m trying to stay positive. It’s progress albeit it small.
One of my book shelves…
I knit chemo caps…
My biggest dilemma of this year actually came on Christmas night but it took until January 1 for me to process it and decide how to move forward. My best friend’s (since I moved to Maine) ex-husband with whom she maitained a good relationship was killed in a single car accident the morning of December 20. He was a bit pompous and a womanizer which is why they divorced many years age, sharing custody of their only son. However he was an excellent physician who was in charge of the local ER for 18 years. He went on to implement new programs for the rural community, started a health center in an extremely rural area then went to work overseas with Doctors Without Borders where he worked on missions in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Malawi, Sri Lanka and the Congo. He risked his life volunteering to care for Ebola patients in West Africa four times. I learned about the accident approximately 2 hours after it happened but waited till the afternoon to call her even though I knew afternoons were not the ideal time to speak to her. My friend drinks. She doesn’t talk about it nor does she stagger or fall. She always has a Nalgene bottle with her sipping water. However around noon she replaces the water with white wine and unless you talk to her you’d never know. When I had a legal matter my attorney spoke to her around 3pm and she spoke jibberish. At first I made an excuse for her but then I told him the truth. We had an understanding that if she was called to testify it would be early morning. Whenever my phone rang in the afternoon and I saw it was her number I wouldn’t answer. I simply cannot tolerate talking to someone who is drunk. They make no sense at all and I find it beyond irritating. When I called her that afternoon as soon as she answered I knew she’d been drinking. She said “Hey he’s dead, what can you do? That’s life.” She assured me she was fine and didn’t need anything. I called her twice more in the next few days; the first time it went to voicemail and the second time I reached her on Christmas Eve morning. Again, she was calm but in the years I’ve known her she never was a very emotional or demonstrative person. I told her to please let me know when the memorial service was and we left it at that. On Christmas night my daughter was driving home from the 6pm church service when her phone rang. It was my friend. She demanded to know what was wrong with me. My daughter was confused and said “Well she can’t see very well”. My friend went on and on about how she was dealing with a traumatic event in her family and couldn’t deal with “your mother’s stuff”. My poor daughter was dumbfounded as she was sitting in the great room both times I was able to reach my friend. She had no idea what she was talking about. Being a rural area, there are dead cell spots every mile or so and the connection kept getting lost. My friend called back several times even more irate because of the dropped calls. The next time their call dropped she called back and was particularly nasty telling my daughter “I’ve had enough. Don’t ever call me again.” My daughter came in the house and asked if I had talked to my friend and I told her not since the day before and asked why. When she told me I was shocked. I couldn’t figure out what I could have possibly said when we spoke that could have caused her to react like this a day later. To say I was upset is an understatement because I felt like a little girl again. Getting into trouble but not knowing what for. It really troubled me for nearly the entire week, causing insomnia and angst. I contemplated calling her and asking what I did to upset her. Then I thought I should call and apologize ~ but for what? On January 1, 2017, I had my first clarity and told myself no. That I’d simply had enough. I am tired of being someone’s “punching bag” just because they’re mentally ill, jealous or drunk. It started with physical abuse before I even began kindergarten and I am still allowing people to do it. So I blocked her number on both my phone and my daughter’s and haven’t lost any more sleep nor thought about it.
I’m not sure how I feel about her; I’m not angry but I’m not sad or upset. And I definitely don’t feel guilty which is a rather big step for me. I guess if I had to define my feelings I would say I’m done feeling guilty and done apologizing just to “please” someone else. I can’t guarantee I won’t feel guilty about something in the future, but right now I’m content to leave the past behind. Instead I’m enjoying the snow and …..
Those of us who suffer from it often morphs into another person just to deal with the demons in our head. Some hide by purposely not disclosing anything about the incident(s) or events, even to spouses or significant others. Some lie when asked. I usually do. When people ask me about my childhood I answer with what they expect to hear ~ “it was good” when in reality it was a nightmare full of horrors. Many of us compartmentalize by locking the trauma behind a closed door. For many men and women who’ve been through war, the battles continue long after the guns go silent. Sadly, their pain is often compounded by a VA system that is rife with problems and at best, difficult to navigate. Often the wait time is 60 days if not longer. A person who served our country in war should not return home only to do battle with the government agency that is supposed to be their lifeline. Many have a revolving door of therapists which in my opinion prevents the formation of that important bond, the continuity which is an integral component in the healing process. I’ve spoken to veterans that have had to “prove” to the VA that their brains are somehow hardwired differently now after returning from war. Why? Who knows why some engage in battle and return unscathed by the sound of gunfire, bombs, and smell of death while others are profoundly affected.
I’ve blogged in the past about the constant almost year-round gunfire in the Western Mountains of Maine. Coupled with the firecrackers/fireworks from late spring to November, someone could go bonkers, especially a war veteran who is triggered by the unexpected sound of gunfire. In my July 4, 2016, post called Caution! Major Whine Around The Corner… I ranted how the never-ending firecrackers and sound of gunshots disrupt our lives to the point where I’ve decided to list my house next spring. Shortly after I posted that I had a chance conversation with a man I know slightly from living down the road. He used to wave at me and The Germs whenever we walked by. We were at the dump of all places and I was still ranting about the incessant noise that emanates from our mountains. I learned he was a Vietnam veteran and suffers from PTSD. He told me he’d tried everything but because the gunshots and firecrackers are on any given day, there’s no way to avoid them. Knowing the noise was worse in the warmer months I asked if turning on the AC worked but he didn’t have one. We don’t really need them because of being in the mountains and the ones I’d brought with me when I moved didn’t fit my windows as I have casements. I did, however, buy one that would fit just to block the noise out. The next day we took one of our older ones down (he doesn’t have casement windows) and offered it to him. He was reluctant but after I explained it was just sitting there and really would help, he accepted it. For a military veteran, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be subjected to unexpected random noise like that. I read where many veterans with PTSD place signs in their yards:
I guess I should write about this as it’s affected deeply me for weeks. I was sailing along doing well as far as my PTSD. The severe flooding I experienced in 2012 after being fired from my job for reporting workplace violations seemed to have resolved. It was a good thing because I still haven’t found a new therapist. I had one and hit it off well but my insurance won’t cover her. Something about she has the wrong type of accreditation; she’s an LCPC as opposed to a LCSW. In the Western Mountains of Maine there aren’t many choices unless one wants to drive an hour to see a therapist. I’ve found my insurance company reasonable in the past so intend to ask them for a reconsideration. I was just so busy between getting my German Shepherd’s blog up (BTW that’s not her picture up there), traveling for her weekly treatments and grad school beginning at the end of July with a required (10) day stay at one of their campuses.
Then out of the blue an email crossed my path about mid August. The story was so horrific that I was triggered immediately. I mean, I could literally feel it spread through my body ~ both cold and warm at the same time. The abuse this 4 year old girl suffered was very similar to what I had endured. Although I never thought my name was Idiot, I had been called it many times. In the past if I was triggered that intensely I withdrew for a while until I could get my emotions in check. However because of my dog’s medical issues I had veterinarian appointments so hiding out at home wasn’t an option. Dogs are very important to me as I never really knew unconditional love, no make that love in any form, until I emancipated myself and adopted my first shelter dog. It’s been a dog that’s gotten me through some of the worst times of my life so not keeping her appointments wasn’t an option. Then in the past when I’ve been emotionally fragile due to triggers I’ve found solace in the Catholic church but this summer I’ve taken, for lack of a better word, a sabbatical from it for several reasons. It’s a small parish where everyone knows your name (like Cheers ) yet they are mean, spiteful and unkind. So much so that the previous priest asked to be reassigned. He was replaced with a granola priest who I’m convinced will have the parishioners out there planting a church garden next spring. Plus he stares at the ceiling and speaks in a dull monotone (he’s only 40). Yet the parishioners fawn over him like high schoolers at a prom. I was in the departing line one time and heard the couple in front of me telling him how wonderful it was to have a priest that, “Is one of us”. They were referring to him being a native of Maine whereas the previous priest was, God forbid, a transplant (like me). Then next up our diocese settled a sexual abuse case from many years ago and it came out that they would have settled earlier but wanted the victims to sign a confidentiality agreement to never discuss the abuse which the now adult victims vehemently refused to do. If anyone has read some of my past posts, then you know I had a similar situation where I wouldn’t sign that type of agreement. I was flabbergasted as it was my understanding that the church was no longer “covering” up sexual abuse by priests. Guess I was wrong and it left me very unsettled. So seeking comfort in the church wasn’t an option either.
Instead I’ve thrown myself into writing Sasha’s blog, sometimes for 8 hours straight. It had originally been a Facebook page where she had over 200 followers but Facebook is simply not the venue for me so I deactivated my account. Since Sasha’s medical journey began in March 2016 that’s where I started the blog. Yet, when I’m not taking her to the vet I ignore people and stay home. I don’t have a lot of friends. Strike that. I have one good friend and some acquaintances. I haven’t talked to my good friend since I read about this abused child. I just don’t feel like engaging in banal conversation. Perhaps that makes me sound terrible but I’m trying to focus on what’s best for me for once instead of doing what other people expect of me. I never liked making small talk anyway but especially when I’m upset.
Anyway, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. I still haven’t figured out how to put a share widget on this page for my dog’s blog but when WordPress Live Chat comes to life again on September 26 I’ll try and remember to initiate a chat before 7pm ET. I usually forget about it till long after that. Or, maybe I’ll just order one of these books. Seriously I’m a fan of the “Dummy” books.
I am going out on a no-dog related adventure next week. My iPhone 5S must have known Apple was launching a new one because it died ~ as in deader than a doornail. I’m a visual person so want to see the size difference between the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The only thing I DO know is that if you opt for monthly payments through Apple you get Apple Care free. Verizon has a similar deal. Whereas if you buy it outright you get nothing, nada, zilch.
No significance to this cat picture other than I like it so much I used it as my screensaver at most of my jobs.
I started this blog to chronicle my AT hike which I realize now was just an attempt to escape PTSD ~ something I had under control until 2012. I’ve made a few posts about my abusive childhood but like so many of us, life got in the way. The death of my “heart” dog Callie Ann, a beloved friend’s suicide and the multiple medical problems of my beautiful German Shepherd Sasha. In the process I found it necessary to end a somewhat long relationship with my therapist, a LCSW. I found another one I liked only to learn my insurance won’t cover her fees because she’s a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) as opposed to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Insurance companies and even states vary I’ve learned so in my downtime I might write an appeal to my health insurance company. Until then, I’m just going to dive in; get it out of my head. For me words are a catharsis. I use words to give shape to my experiences. Words help me “see” who I am, what I’ve done, where I’ve been, where I’m going. Words help me understand. They are a coping mechanism of sorts, a means of expression through which I can separate the good in my life from the not so good.
Initially I thought it best to blog in chronological order but upon reflection have reconsidered. It would be intensely painful and some days my stress management ability is in overdrive and other days ~ not so much. Instead I’m going to write random entries; if a memory comes to mind I’ll write about it and see where it leads.
Just going to plunge in because essentially I’ve had:
I know, I know ~ not related but its a German Shepherd!
I feel a major whine coming on! Why can’t I enjoy summer? Go ahead and ask. No? Don’t want to ask me? Well I’ll tell you anyway. I CAN’T enjoy summer because nearly seven days a week I have to listen to gunfire during daylight hours than once dusk falls its firecrackers. Today is July 3 and the gunfire started around 11 am, reverberating through the woods. and mountains. Then as usual when darkness fell the firecrackers started. Thought they really amped it up due to the holiday weekend. If I knew who they were and where they were lighting up I’d stick a cherry bomb up their ass.
I moved to the Western Mountains of Maine from a very urban area over ten years ago. At the time I thought I was buying a little slice of heaven; over 30 wooded acres beginning from bottom of my driveway and extending up into a mountain. I live in a 2 story log home at the top of a steep 825′ driveway ~ definitely not visible from the road.
It’s bad enough the hunting season (the first of several) begins in August and the dogs and I have to outfit ourselves in bright orange when we hike lest we be mistaken for a black bear and shot! The hunting seasons end in December but I never bargained for all the shooting. A resident or visitor is not allowed to discharge a weapon on Sunday yet it happens every week without fail. Calling the authorities is an effort in futility. I live in the willy whacks ~ how could anyone pinpoint where the shots are coming from?
My bucolic hideaway turned into a nightmare. My property abuts the river which means it’s private but no one is phased by the “Private Property” or “No Trespassing” signs I painstakingly nailed, hammered and staked over my entire acreage, especially the river area. It’s so beautiful there; pristine, quiet ~ the perfect place to relax. Also, where else can you take a couple of really big German Shepherds and have such fun?
I often find fire residue, shell casings along with nasty garbage, evidence of burning and a plethora of what I have learned is the #1 favorite beer in Maine ~ Bud Light. I eben found a “sex toy” once!!! On MY riverbank! Come here ~ I’ll give you a toy!
In 2012 fireworks became legal here and my summer peace came to an abrupt halt. One eventually becomes accustomed to the sound of gunfire during the day but now the nights are disrupted by the never-ending boom of firecrackers and such. We recently had a forest fire burn for about 10 days during a particularly dry spell and I have to wonder if an errant spark caused it. Tonight they started about 9pm and it lasted until after midnight! I’ve mentioned how annoying the constant din ~ no make that freaking booming, is to people in casual conversation and they don’t see anything wrong with it. Obviously I’m from another planet where the inhabitants are more sensitive to the beauty and tranquility of nature.
Makes me long for concrete under my feet and the whooshing sound a subway!