Halloween 2016

Autumn
Fall

Happy Halloween!

Today is going to be a good day. The weather is perfect for Halloween- cloudy, slightly breezy and a bit cold. I love it. And for possibly the first time ever in my parent career all celebration is taking place on October 31st. My daughter’s class party is this afternoon and Trick-or-Treat is tonight as well. So much fun!

I am such a nerd.
(Oh well!)

I aslo have other plans to enhance my Halloween/ quintessential autumn experience today. I’m going to take a walk at the local university, enjoy the cooler air, listen to the crunch of the leaves as I stroll through the campus. Ahhh…. So peaceful, so lovely…
So cliche! But I don’t care if I’m unoriginal, I’m happy!

laughy face

After my walk I’m going to the grocery store to get hot dogs and crescent rolls to make Mummy Dogs for dinner. I might also do “witch/zombie fingers”. Those are just mozzarella cheese sticks with diced bell pepper pieces as the finger nails. Use a butter knife to slice little lines in the cheese stick to create more “finger-like detail”.
If I have time I’d also like to sit and watch some more Halloween themed TV and movies on Netflix and Hulu.
Just as I suspected, my Penny Dreadful phase came to an end, but it happened much sooner than I thought. I made it into season 2, just to the episode where it goes into Vanessa’s backstory and her finding out she’s a witch. And I think that may have been my favorite episode. Maybe that’s why I stopped there.
I’ve also watched a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Witches of East End, three of the Underworld movies, The Addams Family movie, and Jane Eyre. You might be thinking,  Jane Eyre?
Yes. Jane Eyre. I don’t know about the earlier film adaptations but the one from 2010 is a good Halloween choice. The book is even better for Halloween. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.
Today I’d like to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas, Halloweentown, Jane Eyre, and/or Corpse Bride. Last October I constantly had on Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride or Jane Eyre- even just as background while I went about my chores and stuff. But, sadly, this year Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t on Netflix so I haven’t got to watch it. ; (
However, I did get to at least listen to it via YouTube. That was pretty cool. Maybe I’ll do that again. That way I’ll actually get some things done- laundry, dishes, cooking, vacuum, dusting, etc. Corpse Bride and Jane Eyre are still good options too.

Whether I get to sit (with the cat on my lap, of course) and enjoy a movie this morning, or at lunch, or later tonight with the kids- it’s already a good day. I’m doing this blog post and feeling good about it, I helped my daughter do her hair for her class party- she’s a “zombie cheerleader”- so cute!  I walked her to the bus stop and we were actually on time. And I’m about to take my husband to work because we are currently down to one car. I kind of like that I get to take him to work right now because I feel needed and like I’m actually adding value. Sometimes that’s a feeling that’s hard to come by when you’re a stay-at-home parent.

Even though I’ve spent several paragraphs talking about Halloween, the truth is I’m very ready for Christmas! It’s crazy, I know. Oddly enough I think it’s because of the unseasonably warm weather- it sent me over the edge. I’m so tired of heat and sunshine! All it did was make me want clouds and cold even more.
For several days now I’ve had to fight the urge to turn on Christmas music! But tomorrow- it’s on. Christmas music all day!
I am going to hold off on the Christmas decorations though. Tomorrow I’ll take down the Halloween stuff but leave the fall things for the next few weeks. I’m going to try to make it until  November 21st before putting up the Christmas stuff, but I might end up doing it the week of the 14th. And I’ve already got some Christmas movies lined up on Netflix and Hulu. I’m so excited!
But for today I’m going to focus on staying in the present moment and season.

Happy Halloween
I sincerely hope you’re having as much fun as I am today.

 

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Beer With Breakfast

An escaped hyper pit bull at my daughter’s bus stop? This calls for Blue Moon.

So. Here I am. 10:45am. Sitting at my kitchen table. Drinking a beer. My second, actually. I had my first…. Hmm…. 20 minutes ago?

Pick your poison. What’ll it be?
Beer is my drink of choice and Blue Moon is my beer of choice. It’s brewed with orange peel so it’s cool for breakfast, right? I love Belgium-style beers. (New Belgium Fat Tire is another good one.)  My body does not react well to wine or liquor.

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So beer it is. This morning it’s beer because, as I stated above, there was an escaped pit bull at my daughter’s bus stop.

I do not like those dogs. I’m not comfortable with dogs in general, I’m just not used to them. Growing up we had only a few pets- some goldfish, two hamsters, one guinea pig, and the occasional temporary cat. My mom is very allergic to dogs so we never had one, and most of my childhood experiences with dogs were not so good. Dogs are so freakin’ hyper! When I was little even small dogs scared the crap out of me. Big dogs terrified me.
And you have to understand that as a child my parents didn’t have us around the most refined or responsible people. Most of them were not responsible dog owners so their stupid dogs were really stupid and scary- jumping in my face, barking, growling. Pretty much just actin’ a damn fool. It’s no wonder I didn’t like dogs.
Now that I’m older I’m good with small dogs, I’d even like to get one one day. But I’m still very leery of big dogs. I’m also completely distrusting of pit bulls, rottweilers, bull mastiffs, and all the other dogs on the Top Most Dangerous Dogs list, but especially pit bulls.

Pit bull advocates will argue that they’re a “misunderstood breed.”
Bull. Shit.
It’s not about the likelihood of whether or not a pit bull will bite (or out right attack), it’s about the physical harm they are capable of causing.

The dog that was at my daughter’s bus stop this morning is a dog we are somewhat familiar with. It’s a neighbor’s dog. It used to get out a lot but other people complained so they finally took better action to keep the dog in the house or the yard. It’s been a while since this dog has got out, but somehow it did this morning. Several other kids and families were on their way to the bus stop as well, and almost all of them were scared or at least nervous about this dog running around.
It’s a very hyper dog. The owner never takes her for a walk! So when she gets out she bolts straight for people- adults and kids alike. Like I said, she’s a very hyper dog so it’s hard to tell if she’s just trying to play or if she’s being aggressive. I do know for sure that she’s bitten one kid. It was a girl who was visiting at the owner’s house. She was playing with the dog and I guess the dog got confused or too rough…. I don’t know. The fact is the dog bit the girl on the arm.
Luckily, as my dayghter and I were about to walk down to the bus stop I happened to see the dog dash across the street. So my daughter and I got in the car to drive to the bus stop instead. On our way down the street we could see a couple of families (moms and their kids) who were already huddled together because of that stupid hyper-ass dog. Unfortunately,  once we got to the bus stop we saw that the dog was there. Only one kid was ok with that dog- the rest were scared and either standing back frozen with fear or running away, which is the worst thing you can do! But I’m telling you- that dog makes people nervous.
I was parked right at the corner by my daughter’s bus stop. The bus was there waiting for her. But she couldn’t get out. She didn’t want to and I certainly wasn’t going to let her anyway. The dog was on the other corner and the bus was across the street. I was afraid the dog would chase my daughter when she crossed the street to get on the bus.

So she stayed in the car, the bus left, and I ended up having to drive my daughter to school- which isn’t really a big deal, far worse things can happen. However, we did bust our butts to make sure she was ready to go in time for the bus. We even made sure we had time to actually walk to the bus stop. This is an accomplishment for us! And then here that damn dog comes ruining everything.

I tried not to let it ruin my morning, but it kind of did.
It really raised my anxiety, and I just couldn’t seem to let it go.

I was really looking forward to today. I’m going to the craft store to get some fall and Halloween decorations. (I love this season!) And I have a special dinner planned for tonight- crockpot mac and cheese, turkey tenderloin, and baked zucchini. My husband is out of town for work this week so I invited a friend over for dinner. She is an excellent cook and one of the most amazing, generous people I have ever know so I want to make sure I really do it up for her.
But, like I said, my anxiety was up and running and I was starting to feel like I wasn’t going to be able to follow through on all of my lovely plans for the day. So I thought to myself, How can I fix this? What can I do? 
Normally I would take my medicine- Xanax. But I’m out. My appointment is next week so I’m sure I can wait until then for a refill. But since I didn’t have that available I thought, Well, sitting down with a beer would be nice right about now.
I’ll just sit, sip my beer, calm down, and then I’ll be good to go. 

I needed to go the grocery store anyway- macaroni, toothpaste, children’s ibuprofen (my daughter has cough and sore throat). So I just added a six pack to my list. In addition to the beer I also got myself some smoked salmon sushi, an avacado, and ice cream. Whatever I needed to help reset this day.

I’m so surprised, and you might be too, that it took so very little to send my anxiety soaring to such a high level. However, anxiety is a complex, multi-layered thing. There usually isn’t just one cause behind it. A pit bull at my daughter’s bus stop will always be a cause for concern, but there’s more to my anxiety this morning. I’ve been having strange, angst ridden, emotional dreams ever since shit went down between me and my mom back in February. Last night I had a dream in which I was very angry at my husband because he purposely left our kids at a fast food/gas station!  So, obviously, in the dream I was very worried about my kids. I’ve also been having a little trouble with my fifteen-year-old son. I’m sure the dream, as well as my concerns regarding my son, had something to do with my anxiety this morning.
I wish this didn’t happen.
There is a voice in my head that’s been saying, Ok, I’ve GOT to get rid of this anxiety thing.
But lately there’s been a different answer.
Maybe you’ll never be rid of it. Maybe it will always be there, for your entire life. There is no getting rid it. You just have to live with it. Minimize it, manage it, but there is no getting rid of it- no cure. 

Well, I’ll manage. I’m feeling better already. I’m going to turn on some music, finish my sushi, make eggs and toast, some coffee, and then I’ll be good to go. I’ve got plenty to keep me busy- shopping, cooking, decorating, dishes, laundry. I like having a lot to keep me busy, but I also like that most of it doesn’t have to be done today. Most of it can wait until tomorrow and I like that. My husband will tell you- I am the Queen of tomorrow.

Eh. I’ll just do it tomorrow.

Like Scarlet-freakin-O’Hara, I am the queen of tomorrow.

scarlett and rhett b&w

I’m back, Part 2: Final updates

In my first blog posts, all those months ago, I wrote about being a stay-at-home parent and how I was feeling about it. I also wrote in detail and at length about my dad and brother, Daniel, and I’d like to briefly address those topics.

Last August I was dreading the kids going back to school. It seemed as if I had nothing but emptiness and loneliness to look forward to… Turns out I was needlessly worried because I have been absolutely fine! More than fine- I’ve been loving it, I’m happier than I’ve ever been!
I didn’t even have to find ways of occupying my time. I had been brainstorming about part-time jobs or volunteer opportunities, but I haven’t once felt the need to find something to do. I spent a little time in my daughter’s class, but that isn’t really my thing… All those kids and all that chaos- I don’t tolerate it very well. I have been busy enough with regular daily life things- laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, doctor’s appointments, emailing teachers, doing homework, etc.
And I love all of the quiet alone time I have during the day! Lots of alone time is a necessity for my well being, and I am getting plenty of it. I’ve also been feeling like I have purpose. I’m available to do things that my husband, son, and daughter need- often even at a moments notice, and I really like that. I know they do too.
Another key to the success of my stay-at-home-parent-experience is the time that my husband and I get to spend together when he gets home from work. Last school year, and for five years before that, once he got home from work I left for work. We get to see a lot more of each other now that I don’t have the part-time job at night, and because I have all day to myself to get things done at my own pace I’m refreshed and happy when he gets home. We are so fortunate to have a set up like this and it is working very well for us.
So that’s where I’m at regarding the whole full-time-stay-at-home parent thing.

As for my dad and my brother….

Back last summer, at the end of July or beginning of August, I had my dad over at my house  for the first time in years. As I mentioned before, I don’t see much of him. I can’t spend time in his apartment (unhealthy) and because of his drinking I don’t usually have him over to my house. Well, last summer I had my youngest brother bring him over. The visit wasn’t very good and thankfully lasted only an hour, but despite how uncomfortable it was I had resolved to do it again. My goal was to have him over maybe once a month, but I didn’t follow through on that. I have seen him, but not at my house. I’ve given him a ride a few times so that he can pick up his work equipment, but that’s it. However, I have started answering his calls a little more often.
As for my brother, Daniel- the one who’s an addict, in and out of jail and rehab….
I haven’t heard much about him in several months. The only reason I ever knew anything before was because my mom would tell me. Well, I obviously haven’t had any contact with her since February, but even before that, back in January and December, I was keeping more distance between us than usual because I was avoiding having that uncomfortable conversation with her. (See previous post- I’m back, Part 1)
Occasionally my brother Nick will give me an update, but he hasn’t mentioned Daniel for over six months. So the last I knew (from my mom) was that he was in yet another jail/rehab program. However, my dad called this past Monday to wish me a happy belated Mother’s Day, so while I had him on the phone I asked him if he knew anything about Daniel. He didn’t know much, but he knew enough. He was able to tell me that just a few weeks ago Daniel had asked our grandmother (my dad’s mother) for money. Well, we all know what that means.

Honestly, I don’t think he will ever be sober. He will never stop. It is going to kill him. I gave up hope years ago that he will ever stop doing drugs and live a normal life. It’s sad… It’s very sad, because I don’t think he’s ever known a day of peace or happiness in his entire life.
And sometimes, some days, I’m hit with a sort of “survivor’s guilt” because my life is so very different from his. I know peace and happiness everyday. I have my kids, my husband, my husband’s family, friends, a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Our kids go to good schools, we drive nice cars, travel, eat good food, go to nice restaurants…
And on top of all that I have Netflix and books! Ha!
I have Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, and Dr. Frasier Crane.
I have Jane Austen, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, and Ripple, The Water Spirit...

Starting to see some light

Wow, my first post for this blog was quite lengthy and didn’t contain any visuals- sorry about that. I did go back and add an awesome pic of Alice (as in Wonderland) doing a facepalm.  That first post did, however, contain profanity- which is unusual for my writing- but damn it I needed to vent!
Okay, okay, I’ll stop.

I dumped a whole mess of personal info in that first post. What’s really funny is that when I first attempted a blog (years ago) I had no intention of including anything personal at all. I wanted to focus only on books, quotes, movies, and music/song lyrics. But keeping the personal stuff out of it has proven to be unrealistic. It certainly doesn’t make for very good writing, at least not for me. I have found that it is very difficult to share my thoughts and knowledge without including the grit and chaos that has lead to them. If I mention books like Toxic Parents, The Feminine Mystique, Courage to Change, Emotional Blackmail, Stop Walking On Eggshells, Goddesses In Every Woman, Dance of the Dissident Daughter- I want to be able to say why it is that I’ve read that book. Even the fiction books I read have a connection to the personal, and if I include that then I have a better chance of inspiring readers and giving them something to relate to.

Speaking of personal, I wrote that first post on my dad’s birthday! I didn’t realize that until today. And, speaking of my dad, I actually saw him last night….
First let me say that I never call my dad. I’m not proud of that. He’s always the one doing the calling. Half the time I don’t even answer, but that’s because I know he’s been drinking and sometimes I just don’t have the patience to handle it. It’s not like I can have a real conversation with him. His personality during his intoxicated state has gotten worse over the years. It’s bizarre, sometimes even Twilight Zone bizarre. I could have a field day with adjectives attempting to describe to you what it’s like, but I’ll save that for another time.

Anyway, I do feel guilty for not calling my dad. I feel guilty when he calls and I don’t answer, and I feel guilty for not seeing him. Half a year can go by without me seeing him and he’s only a 15 minute car ride away. Lately it seems like every time I’m on the phone with him he mentions that he hasn’t seen us. So I’ve been feeling a little more guilty than usual. However, I should clarify that Al-Anon helped me bring my guilt down to a more realistic, more manageable level, and although I feel some guilt it certainly isn’t debilitating or unhealthy. Still, it’s there, and it motivated me to do something for my dad. He is, after all, a human being and I know he loves me (and my kids) even if he isn’t capable of having a real relationship with us. So I asked my brother if he could bring Dad over to my house.
(My dad doesn’t drive. No car, no license. Long story.)
Like I mentioned in the last post, my dad lives in a sketchy neighborhood so I don’t want to take my kids over there. Also, my dad’s apartment is difficult to be in because of all the cat hair and years of cigarette smoke. There is a sticky film over everything and the once white walls are now brownish.  We all feel like we can’t breathe and our eyes start to burn. My husband and daughter have asthma and allergies so there’s just no way they can survive in there. The kids feel very uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel like a safe place. We actually stopped visiting years ago for those reasons, and because we would all have to shower and put our clothes in the wash as soon as we got home! When we left his apartment we would smell terrible! I would be nauseous the whole way home. These are the reasons why I asked my brother to bring him to my house instead.
So, we saw him. Of course he was intoxicated. I like to use the word intoxicated sometimes because ‘drunk’ sounds so harsh… I expected him to be intoxicated, but he was very intoxicated. He couldn’t even walk straight. I was afraid several times that he was going to fall, and it seemed like he was having trouble focusing- his motor skills were off. He had trouble reaching for the door knob on our back door, then he couldn’t get it open. It took him a few tries. I think my brother had to help him. It was a very, very sad thing to see, and it was also strange to see it but not say anything. None of us even looked at one another. I felt like we were all pretending it wasn’t happening… But that isn’t necessarily true.
I mean, what can we say? What is there to say? He is what he is and we know it. No one is necessarily denying anything simply by being politely silent.

My dad and brother didn’t stay long, and as terrible as it sounds, I was glad. I was relieved when they left. My dad was trying to join in the conversation we were having, but it was clear that he didn’t really know what we were talking about. And he looks so unhealthy. So unhealthy. He looks terrible! But of course he does. A person can’t smoke and drink to excess for decades and not end up like that. I could hardly even look at him, and I felt bad about that but…  I don’t know how my brother can stand to see him like that so often. Then again, Nick has always been very loyal. And even though it was hard I’ve decided I’m going to see my dad again- not often, maybe once a month- but I’m going to make an effort. He’s sick. Alcoholism is a disease. I’ve been treating him like a pariah and a leper for too long. And, frankly, I don’t know how much time he has left.
So…. Well…. Yeah… I saw my dad. And that’s that.

Moving on… As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a few ideas about how to occupy my time in order to add meaning and purpose to my life, to expand my world. This blog is one of them. I really hope I can keep it going this time! My other ideas are volunteering in my daughter’s classroom (a very real possibility), going back to Al-Anon (very doable), having lunch with my friends who work full-time, and visiting my friends who are stay-at-home moms. Even though they have small children, and both of mine are now in school all day, that doesn’t mean we can’t still hang out. And I bet they would like that- they’re probably lonely too!
When I was in college I volunteered for the Suicide Prevention Hotline, I could do that again. I’ve also looked into some unique fitness opportunities like Pure Barre and aerial yoga, but Pure Barre is pretty expensive so that’s probably out. I’ll keep looking for things like that though. Or, here’s a thought- maybe I’ll get a job!
“The word today is job.  J-O-B.”
Okay, not really today, but maybe soon. It feels so strange, so wrong to not have a job, and especially to not even be looking for a job. This hasn’t happened since I was 16. Up until May 21st of this year I had a job, but the hours were at night and since we could finally afford it- I quit. Now I know more than ever the things a job can give you in addition to pay. So, anyway, sometimes there are part-time positions available at one of the local libraries. Or I could volunteer at the library- I love being around books!

Speaking of books, that’s what this blog is supposed to be about! The title, after all, is Words and Plots. Clearly that title implies books, novels, stories…. Clearly that title implies a sophisticated wonderland of quotes, insights, and intelligent reflections! The strange thing is I haven’t felt like reading lately, which is unusual for me, but I know what caused this accidental book sabbatical. I overloaded myself with reading. No, really. I was reading non-stop! Last summer I re-read all of Harry Potter, and then in the fall and winter I read several more novels back to back. From October to February I read The Wolf Gift (eh), half of The Wolves of Midwinter (eh), 2 Jane Austen mystery novels (loved them, will read more), Girl With A Pearl Earring (very interesting, really liked) and David Copperfield (LOVED). And these are just the ones I can remember. I think there was 1 or 2 more. I also did a few very time consuming blog posts/book reviews back in October, but they were taking up too much time (stupid old laptop!) so I abandoned the whole project. Yet, here I am, still with the same old laptop, trying again. It really is a shame I wasn’t blogging as I was reading all those books, the inspiration was flying through my head as I read them. Such a missed opportunity! But, like I said, I can try again. I’ve accomplished two new posts so far and I feel pretty good about it already. Today I’ve been blogging from my kitchen table, but Saturday I was at Starbucks so I was at least near other people- possibly even seen by a few. Actually, one guy even spoke to me- something about how standing is better than sitting. Thank you Random Stranger!
Until next time…

Why I’m Jealous of My Husband

It’s weird to be jealous of your own husband, right? That’s not a good sign, is it?

This blog was supposed to be about my passion for words. A well organized, well researched, masterfully articulated blog showcasing masterful articulation. It’s supposed to be about books and quotes and song lyrics; a celebration of creative, intelligent, inspiring language- and lovely shit like that. But sometimes plans change, and this is one of those times, because I’ve got other things I need to say right now. 

You know what? That’s it. That. Is. It!!! I’ve HAD IT!

facepalm

Yeah, well, those are obviously empty threats. So I’ve had it. So I’m fed up. What am I really going to do about it? Apparently I’m going to blog about it, a.k.a. write about it. Because that’s what I do.
I turn to words- listening to them, singing them, reading them, or writing them. I always have. I once wrote an essay about my brother Daniel. I was 9. I wrote the essay because I loathed him so much I seriously wanted to injure him. He used to make me so mad, and I needed to do something with that anger. Usually I just attacked him, but that day I somehow came up with a better, non-violent option. I had to get that anger out of me and, without questioning it, I went right to pen and paper to deal with those feelings.  That’s right- I wrote an essay when I was 9, not because it was homework, but because I actually wanted to. I needed to. It had an opening statement, an introductory paragraph, at least 2 body paragraphs consisting of 3 to 5 sentences, and then a conclusion.

My mom found that essay last year, or something like that, and gave it to me. I had forgotten all about it, but as soon as I saw it the memory of writing it came back to me pretty vividly. When she presented it to me she was kind of laughing and smiling at me like, “Remember this? Oh, how cute!” I was embarrassed and pretty uncomfortable. I was hurt and sad, too. I’m not exactly sure why… Maybe because when I wrote that essay I was serious. I wasn’t trying to be cute. Those feelings described in that essay, the anger and frustration, were very real- then and now. That essay was nothing to laugh at. It was, in part, a cry for help. My brother acted the way he did because of how we were being raised. I suspected it even then, and now at the age of 36, I know I was right. There is a certain amount of satisfaction in that, but the memories and ramifications of my childhood are still hard to live with….

Okay, honestly, sometimes there is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that what I thought was fucked up when I was a child really was fucked up. Growing up I could never be sure of my assessment of the situation because my parents denied it. My dad pretty much just didn’t talk about it, or acknowledge it, in any way -unless it was about my mom being crazy. He was always drunk when he talked (ranted) about my mom’s behavior so… that doesn’t exactly count as validation.  My mom just out right denied it. She would verbally acknowledge certain things, but then she would follow that up with either down playing how bad it really was, or blaming her behavior on external factors- including me and my brothers. I don’t think she meant to make us feel blamed. I don’t think she realized what her words were conveying, but… that’s pretty much what she said. There was no other way to take it, especially for a child.

To some readers it might seem like I’m being too hard on my parents or unfair to them. Maybe that’s true. I have a lot of anger towards them and I give in to that anger, but I wasn’t always this way. For years I tried to forgive them. I forced myself to be around them even though they made me uncomfortable. For years I went along with the denial- either not talking about any of it, or telling myself, “It wasn’t that bad.” But several years ago I came across the book Toxic Parents. My parents are in that book. Not by name, of course, but by definition and description. That book did something for me that no other book or therapy had ever done- it gave me the freedom to be angry. Instead of trying to push forgiveness- which I had been trying to do- the author basically said Bullshit. You do not have to forgive people who abused you, especially people who have not taken responsibility or apologized for what they did. That book made me feel ok about being angry. It told me that I wasn’t a bad person for being angry with parents who were toxic to me as a child, and who continued to be toxic to me in adulthood. Like I said, it gave me the freedom to be angry. Do you have any idea what a relief that was? For there to be even just one person in the world who would allow me to feel that anger and not judge me for it… It was life changing. The freedom to be angry– I snatched that life line, clung to it, and still haven’t let it go. It has done wonders for my self confidence and empowerment.

I’d also like to point out that the public service announcement from the ’80s is true: “Parents Who Use Drugs Have Kids Who Use Drugs.”  My dad is an alcoholic and drug abuser. My brother Daniel is also an alcoholic and drug abuser. He is currently pretty much homeless. He’s been addicted to heroin for 3 years now… I think. Maybe longer. Before heroin it was pills- all kinds of pills. I heard rumors about Oxycontin and methadone, just to name two. I don’t know the names of the other drugs he crushed and snorted. Before the pills I had heard rumors of crack and cocaine. These rumors came via other family members. I have never actually witnessed my brother’s addiction. I’ve always avoided being around him. It wasn’t hard to do; as soon as he was 18 my mom helped him get an apartment and a job, and he was out. O-U-T, out!
Anyway, where was I…. Before the crack and cocaine it was marijuana and alcohol- lots and lots of marijuana and alcohol. This I know first hand, either because I heard him talk about it, or because I could hear him throwing up in the bathroom when he got home. He was 17. He had his first drink and smoked his first joint at the age of only 13, maybe 12. We grew up watching our dad roll and smoke joints and get drink on a regular basis. Is it really any wonder that his son followed in his footsteps?

My mom did not do drugs or drink, but her father was an alcoholic. I don’t know half the details (not even close) of what went down in the home she grew up in, but I know there was a lot of anger and a lot violence. I am positive she has PTSD, and would also likely be diagnosed with a personality disorder if she would go to therapy like I have. With her father being an alcoholic she, of course, married an alcoholic. A very common pattern. And even though I’m not an alcoholic (and my husband isn’t an alcoholic), I’ve had a great deal of emotional issues to work through so my kids have still been effected by it. This is why alcoholism is called “a family disease.” Not only is there the genetic component, but there is also chaos, insanity, and dysfunctional behaviors that get passed down to the next generation.

Lucky for me I turn to books and writing rather than drugs and alcohol when I need help or comfort. It’s always been a natural instinct. For the past 15 years my focus has mostly been books, not as much writing. But recently that has started to change. I’ll start writing- a blog, a story- but then I stop. I abandon it. Yet here I am, trying it again because I need something. I need something that is mine and mine alone. Not something that I’m connected to because I’m someone’s wife or mother.
However, on the other hand, it truly is absurd for me to complain about anything. I have a good life, a really good life- especially considering where I started. I have been able to accomplish some incredible goals- a bachelor’s degree, an amazing husband, a good life for my kids. And I have the luxury, the choice, of being a stay-at-home parent, which is exactly what I said I wanted about 8 years ago. I don’t want a full-time job right now but… I don’t know how to explain it… I feel so pathetic because I don’t feel like I do anything important.

When all you really have in your life is yourself, your family, and your home- you will hyper focus on those things, and that can cause problems for all involved. Small things will seem a lot more important then they really are.  I hyper focus on myself, I’ve been doing it for years- my hair, my weight, my skin, my clothes. Am I  pretty? Am I sexy? Am I ugly? I am unattractive? Oh, god, I’m repulsive. Then there’s the house- we need to repaint, we need new carpet, new closet doors, new windows- we need a whole new house! We can’t actually afford to move, and we don’t need to- our house is just fine. We’re working on minor cosmetic things a little at a time, but, like I said, sometimes I hyper focus on small, insignificant details because my world is too small.

So let’s say I get the house, the hair, and the body I want. Then what? I’ll still feel like I’m lacking purpose. I’ll still feel insignificant. I still won’t have a career. I don’t even have a hobby! I still won’t have anywhere to be; nothing to accomplish beyond dishes, laundry, and dinner. I’ll still be lonely all day long. I’ll still feel unimportant and, frankly, a little pathetic. I mean, this shit is getting bad. My children are my main source of companionship! That is not ok. When our dishwasher broke I wasn’t in a hurry to get a new one because washing the dishes by hand gave me something to do! At the end of the last school year I started taking the long way to the grocery store because there’s more traffic, which meant I’d be around people. Sort of.
So I’m not exactly thrilled about the kids going back to school. I mean, it will be nice to have some peace and quiet, and to get the house back in order, but…. Mostly I’m terrified by the emptiness and loneliness that I’m afraid will bear down on me.

This is a very new feeling for me. I’ve been a stay-at-home parent for 8 years, and it wasn’t until the end of this past school year that I started to feel this way. I have no idea what I’m going to do. The thought of being alone all day, day after day…. I just want to cry. In fact, I’m sure I will break down crying at some point within the first week of school. But even having them at home isn’t as fulfilling as…. I don’t know what. When the kids are there I’m not lonely, but I still don’t feel as important or significant as I perceive my husband to be at his job.  I know it means a lot to him that I’m at home with the kids. I’m sure it means a lot to the kids too that I’m here for them and do things with them, and it might hurt them if they knew that I sometimes feel this way. I like being home with them and there for them, but, like I said, I need something else. I need to expand my world.

My husband’s world is huge. My husband’s world is the world. Literally. He works for a large financial corporation that flies him to various cities around the country and pays for nice dinners. He talks to people in Manila and Mumbai. He’s even had the opportunity to go to Philippines or the India. I’m sure he will one day. He has more than just a job, he has a full blown career. A very successful one. He is about to get another promotion. He doesn’t even have to apply for promotions anymore, they give them to him. He’s at a 6 figure salary, and that doesn’t include bonus. He deserves it, of course. He’s very smart, he works really hard, and I know he does it for us. I’m very proud of him and grateful for how well he provides for us. And he’s a great guy! He’s thoughtful and generous and treats me very well. He’s my best friend. And he’s a great father.

But I have to admit I’m very jealous of his career. I’m sure it feels really good to be worth $100,000! I’m sure it must feel amazing to be around important, intelligent people and be treated like an equal. I’m sure if feels really good to be respected, to feel needed and valued, and rewarded for something you’re good at. I don’t have any of this.

My husband also has a really great hobby. He loves cars, so one day a few years ago he did a little research about how a person might go about becoming involved in the racing world. Lo and behold, he found out that in some race circuits the people who are behind the scenes, in pit row, or doing the flags are actually volunteers. He then discovered that not even 2 hours form our house is Mid-Ohio Raceway where could volunteer for SCCA- Sports Car Club of America. All he had to do was send an email, pay a small membership due, and attend a one day training course. Even that was cool. He learned how to put out different types of fires and all kinds of things. He has sense been given an award for New Race Volunteer of the year, been offered a position as a pit crew chief, and he’s been trained on flags. When he arrives at Mid-Ohio people are happy to see him- not only because he’s a nice guy, but because they need him there! Even his hobby has him out in the world, being valued. And on days when the SCCA volunteers aren’t busy because the larger race circuits (Nascar, Indy car) bring there own crews, he still gets to be there behind the scenes, checking out the cars, meeting cool (sometimes even famous) people.

Between his job and his hobby he meets all kinds of people. And he knows how to do it too. He has the knowledge and the confidence it takes to make the type of first impression that makes people remember you and want to know you. I don’t have that kind of confidence. I think I almost did, once upon a time. I know I had more confidence at one point, but that was before I was pregnant with my son 15 years ago. Still, even then, I didn’t have the confidence that my husband does. Yet, he’s humble. He would tell you that all he does is “try.” Okay, yes, it’s true- he has the guts to try new things. However, I have told him that it’s more than just that. Lots of people try but end up with zilch or only mild success. For my husband though, things just seem to have a way of always working out for him. He’s blessed. I don’t mean blessed as in “we are blessed with good health, a roof over our heads, and food on our table.” I mean blessed, as in you are The Golden Boy, The Chosen One. “GOOD FORTUNE IS BESTOWED UPON YOU MY SON.” He had to agree. The evidence is irrefutable.

So, let’s see…. successful career, provider for family, awesome hobby…. Oh, yeah. He also has a really great group of friends. The last time he got a group of guys together I think there were at least 12 of them. Umm, I don’t have 12 friends. I might have 6….

And then there’s his family. My husband has a great family. He has a lot of family. And they’re all really amazing people- not barely functioning people, not crazy people, not people who are incapable of having a healthy relationship- but amazing, happy, caring, successful people. Meanwhile, my family is dysfunctional and I’m not in contact with 99% of the people I’m related to.  My dad is always intoxicated. He gets drunk- completely drunk- every other day. So even on the days he doesn’t drink he still isn’t actually sober. The only time he calls me is when he’s had a few- or several- beers. Shit, he might also be high for all I know. He lives in a sketchy neighborhood and…. he has no teeth. That’s right. My dad has no teeth. They all had to be pulled because they were black and rotting away right before your eyes. He didn’t tolerate the dentures very well, got frustrated, threw them, and broke them. He can’t afford another pair, his 90 year-old father paid for the ones he broke!
I’ve never really had a relationship with my dad’s family. It’s a large family, but not a close family. He has 6 successful (older) brothers and sisters, but I hardly know them, or my cousins, or even my grandparents. I think it’s awkward for them too. My brothers and I never really felt like we fit in.

Then there’s my mom. Growing up she was very, very angry and unpredictable. Living with her was extremely difficult. To illustrate just how difficult it was I’ll share that I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, among other things. My dad was the alcoholic, but he was a lot easier to tolerate than my mom. He was even easier to be around. But as the years have gone by my mom has slowly calmed down. She has more self-control now, but she can still be difficult to be around. She is, however, a really good grandparent. My relationship with her currently revolves around my kids and that’s about it. As for my mom’s family….Wow. Crazy, crazy, weird, unhealthy people. Once I started going to Al-Anon and therapy I stopped forcing myself to spend time with them. I was never comfortable around them, but I thought I had to be around them because we’re related. Well, I know better now. I will not tolerate people who do not speak to me with respect, who make fun of me, call me names, and de-pants my child! They are not healthy people. I just stay away from them.
I was, however, very close to my grandma- my mom’s mom. In fact, my mom became very jealous of the relationship my grandma and I had. But she was nice to me! My grandma was nice to me; she made me feel loved and special, which probably saved my life. But Grandma died several years ago….
That brings me to Nick, my youngest brother. He’s in school working towards a degree in electrical engineering. He’s getting good grades too. I’m proud of him. He did a few years in the Navy so that’s paying for school. Smartest thing he ever did. He and I were close when we were growing up, but we haven’t been close for a very long time. He doesn’t avoid our parents or my mom’s family the way I do, but, then again, he also drinks a lot. It’s possible he’s an alcoholic. However, I do give him kudos and admire that he is loyal to his family- even if they’re a mess. I just can’t do it.
So the closest thing I have to family right now is actually my husband’s family. They are very, very good to me- but it’s not the same. I still kind of feel like an orphan sometimes.

I had always planned to get as far away from my childhood as possible, and I have with my husband’s help. He has helped me grow emotionally, he’s taught me maturity and responsibility, how to be a more patient parent.

It’s hard not to feel like I owe him. So, I feel like I owe him and I’m jealous of him. And I love him- all at the same time. It’s hard to feel like his equal. It doesn’t come up often, but I’m starting to feel embarrassed to meet or spend time with the people in all of his many circles. He does so much and I do so little. People always want to know what you do. What can I say? I don’t have much to say. It’s all about what he (my husband) does, and what the kids are up to. But I don’t actually do anything. Certainly not anything that’s conversation worthy. I feel like I’m in his shadow, like I’m important only by extension.
He certainly doesn’t see me this way. And I know that, in reality, no one else does either.
But I still feel like he has everything, and I have nothing. (I know I have a lot more than nothing. I just want to wallow in self pity, okay!?)

It doesn’t seem fair. I’ve worked really hard too, and I continue to work hard to be the best I can for my kids. I’m terrified that I’m going to screw them up the way my parents screwed up with me and my brothers.
So I work hard to be sane and healthy for them, but you do not get bonuses or a fancy title for being a good parent. You do not graduate from therapy with a degree, there is no “most improved patient of the year” award, and self-improvement is not a paying career. It goes largely unacknowledged. Overcoming generations of alcoholism, overcoming poverty- these are necessary for a healthy life, and they are major achievements, but there’s not going to be any formal record of these accomplishments. And none of this is appropriate dinner conversation.

I said I have nothing…. But I have a lot more than nothing, I know. Still, I’m jealous of everything my husband has. I try to be happy for him when all these good things come his way, and most of the time I am genuinely happy for him. I try not to resent him. I love him. We have a great relationship. He’s my best friend. I adore him and I’m so proud of him! I’m proud to be his wife!
But I do need more. I need something of my own. I need to expand my world. It’s a good thing I’ve read The Feminine Mystique, otherwise I wouldn’t understand what the hell is going on with me. Because of that book I know that what I’m struggling with (loneliness, insignificance, lack of purpose) is not uncommon for a stay-at-home-parent. But I have to do something about it before depression really takes over. I have a few ideas. We’ll see…..