Friday, January 27, 2012

A Birthday Present To Myself

or... My Mother Told Me If I Ever Told Anyone, They'd Never Believe Me

...and now I have to tell the truth one more time.  Now I am ready to really let this go.

My mother was right about nobody believing me, for a long time.  Because I made sure she was right.

I've wanted to write about certain things for quite a while now.  But I hadn't figured out a way to do it without being negative.   I mean, yeah it's important to me to get things out there- mostly because it might just help someone else to not repeat certain things that are not so productive.  But then, being negative is just not all that productive either.

So I think I've found a way to do this without hitting the 'oh feel sorry for me' notes.  After all, that would defeat the purpose. 

So here goes...

I've been told by friends that I am one of the most honest people they know.  I value that appraisal so very much.  But it wasn't always that way.

There was a time when I was very small, so small that I don't even remember anything before that time, that I first faced the choice.  It was a choice between the truth and dangers that I perceived as even worse.  I have always been a super fast learner.  It didn't take me any time at all to see that lying was the only viable way to remain safe.

I wish that I could say that I didn't know any better.  That I was under the impression that everyone lived the way that I did.  It might have been easier in some ways if I had thought that way.  But that would be a lie.  Not only have I always been a super fast learner, I also have always had razor sharp perceptions.  I knew things I shouldn't know for my age way before my peers.  I knew and understood complex things without ever having them explained to me. 

From the very first time that I lied to cover up the ugly truth, I knew it was wrong.  Over the years, I felt myself disappearing into a hole where no one would ever be able to find me.  And certainly never be able to help me.  At the same time, I was continuously reminded of how fortunate I was to be living the life I had.  At some point, I think I believed that I was too lost to ever be found and unworthy of anything or anyone.  I hate to admit this, but I became brainwashed thoroughly enough that I finally gave in to the darkness.

I lied and lied and lied.  With a smile on my face.  I made certain that NOBODY ever knew what my life was really like.  I performed perfectly on cue.  It was Oscar worthy, really.  When somebody got suspicious, that's when I pulled out the big guns.  I made sure that every word, every motion, every nuance was perfectly positive in every way.  I eventually fooled myself as well.

For many, many years I honestly believed that the life I had was all that I would ever have.  I dreamed so small.  I did crazy things to make sure that I stayed stuck right where I was.  School was my only reprieve and I would count the hours every night until I could go back.  The weekends seemed endless and summer break was a kind of torture.  My charade was growing old and once in a while I allowed myself a close friendship, but never for very long.

It was not a real life.  And as I got older and more mature I realized that sooner or later this would have to end.  I just had no idea how to get out of the darkness, the insanity, the uncertainty.  Still, in the back of my mind there remained a bit of hope that never quite died, no matter how bad things got.

I did have chances to tell someone.  Over time I allowed more people into my world to some degree.  But I just never could bring myself to tell the whole truth.  I think I had actually forgotten exactly what the truth was.

I managed to move out of my mother's house and into an apartment with room mates.  And then to get married- all without truly facing my demons.  Why I didn't tell the truth at this point is beyond me.  There was no longer a tangible reason to hold back.  All I can say is that I had been well trained and complete control is a difficult bond to break.  The mind can be a funny thing with all its' myriad locks and keys.

One day, I experienced a change.  It was my 30th birthday.  I never saw it coming.  It was as if a dam had broken loose in me and the truth just would not stop flowing out.  All those years of lies bubbled up like a volcano.  I was done.  I wouldn't have it anymore.  It felt good and bad at the same time.  I was so embarrassed that it had taken me so long to get to that point.

I had to fight harder than I ever imagined to complete the process.  I needed to do things that I never imagined I would ever dream of doing.  Harsh things.  Things that cannot be undone.  The lies came back to haunt me.  My guilt was immense.  I had wasted so much time and broken people I loved.  Things would never be the same and I knew it.  And yet, there I was in the rubble- finally free.

I will never be able to explain completely why I didn't stop what was going on much sooner than I did.  I will never know why this one lesson was so hard for me to learn.  I will always be sorry for the people I lied to.  I will never be proud of how I took my husband down the rabbit hole with me.  I am still sorry I resented people who failed to help me, even though I made sure they wouldn't.  I hope that one day I am able to get over the fact that there were things I didn't see while I was still dealing with this that caused me to allow my nephew to be hurt.

I don't say these things so I can pile another guilt trip on myself.  I say it because I'm being honest and that finally feels right.  I started going through the motions of stopping the actions that were keeping me from being who I'm supposed to be 8 years ago.  It's been a long and difficult process.  And now, although it's not a perfect picture I present here, it's a real one.  And that's all I ever wanted. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fearless Husband Update

Thanks Retta.  That was super fun!

Sometimes the right people with the right ideas come along just when you need them.  Retta over at Loretta's Journey from 460 to 199... drew the wonderfully creative item above in black and white and asked her readers to have some fun with it and add our own inspiring word.  She encouraged us to do whatever we wanted without worrying about being good or doing it right and then share it. 

I took her art and uploaded it into photo shop and then just colored away.  It was fun because I could try different colors out quickly, erase them if I needed to and then just stop when it looked good to me.  I don't think I've ever just finished coloring without every space being filled, no white space left.  But this felt right to me this time and with Loretta's permission I got to do just that!  How freeing!

And now for the update part:  With definitive information from a current CT scan, my husband and I now know that the most extensive repair with help from a second surgical specialist is the best way to go.  We want to achieve the most permanent result possible with the highest life quality quotient.  Knowing how well my husband came through the initial life threatening infection, our doctor believes that he will have a fabulous result.  So, it's go big or go home!

Do I have fears?  You betcha'.  Are there downsides to this choice?  Naturally.  As with anything worth doing there are no guarantees.  But where would any of us be if we never took a risk? 

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.
-Kenji Miyazawa

Friday, January 20, 2012

Help! They're Trying To Save Us From Ourselves... Again

Even Seattleites have their limit.

Here in the northwest we work pretty hard to make sure nobody actually sees us doing anything mean or confrontational.  Heck, people have even been known to leave a note on the car window of a person whose alarm keeps going off rather than confront them.
photo credit:
In a city known for its passive aggressive tendencies, it takes a lot to get somebody to actually say anything to your face.   They'd rather talk nasty behind your back.

Well....somebody finally had enough.

Check out this video of a real killjoy, (even though she claims she wasn't trying to be one) and the reaction she got.  Pause the music player.

I think the worst part is the anchors making fun of the woman's frustration. 

This situation reminds me of the people who get in the left lane on the freeway and sit there going right at the speed limit, making sure you don't have the chance to speed or anything like that.  Yes, people here do this- all the time.

All this snow seems to have brought out our uncivilized side.  I say, bring it on! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We're Still Not Moving & Now I Know Why

First of all, I want to thank everyone for all the positive comments about my husband's upcoming journey to health.  It's gonna' go well.  I just know it.  And one of these days I'm gonna' want abs just like the ones he's getting, only I'll have to pay for them...

We're expecting a pretty big snow storm over the next few days and I know I've mentioned before about how much I just love snow.  Not.  It already looks like this:
Beautiful, yes.  I'll leave it at that.  Let's keep it positive, right?

I'm thankful that we were able to get him in to have his CT today despite the snow covered giant Seattle hills.  This CT will help give more detailed info. so the doctor can decide on an actual surgical plan when we see her again on the 25th.  I have decided that I'm just going to take in what she tells us, allow it all to sink in, and then set it free to the universe.  That should put me in a good place to be ready to support my husband in the way that he will need in May when he actually gets the work done. 

In the mean time I have realized a few things (yeah, you can feel free to figuratively whack me over the head!)- As annoyed as I have been with waiting for our plans to move to Texas to come through, I can see some good reasons as to why they have not:   
1) It's a really good thing that we are in the position of my husband having been at his current job for a long time with good medical and paid time off for him to be able to recover fully.
2) It is so fortunate that I have awesome contacts and medical referrals through work I have done over the years.  It makes me feel much more confident about this whole thing. 
3) If we had moved to Texas last August when we truly believed we were going to, we might never have discovered our love of Palm Springs.  And that really has been such a wonderful surprise.

So yup, it is time for me to buck up and be thankful for how this is all working out.  As with anything, there is much to be gained by the attitude that we choose to have.

I believe this will be transformative for both my husband and I.  He is going to be healed physically, stronger than ever.  And he has already shown that he is well on his way to conquering any residual fears from his prior experience.  He's meeting this challenge like anything else that comes his way- with a smile on his face and a peaceful demeanor.  I continue to admire his fortitude of character. 

Meanwhile I am going to take this opportunity to face up to the fact that medical situations were more than just a little bit weird as I grew up and not allow myself to be further traumatized.  This time will be a positive.  My husband is the best reason ever to change my thoughts and feelings about this.  He deserves everything I have to give. 

So, with a little shout out to Robin over at YOUR DAILY DOSE, I'll end this by saying that I have seen yet again that the lessons really will keep coming until we get it.  That must be why they say it doesn't do any good to shoot the messenger!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Catch Me Quick Before I Stop Being All Grateful About This

My husband and I went to see the hernia specialist yesterday.  She consulted with us on what can be done to correct everything that is left from his prior attempt at dying.  (In case you missed that story, you can find it here.)

Let's just say it ain't pretty.  Basically, it boils down to rebuilding his entire abdominal area.

The Good:  Since my husband did so great under such bad circumstances at the initial surgery, he should expect a really good outcome!  Insurance is paying for all of this.  It is definitely not considered cosmetic.

The Bad:  He's got not 1, not 2, but at least 3 major hernias.  No wonder the security in Disneyland stopped us to check what he had going on under his shirt.  Boy were they most unpleasantly surprised.

The Ugly:  My husband will be getting an internal girdle.  That's right ladies, be jealous.  For the price of a couple of years in his 30's spent looking like he's got the paunched gut of an out of shape 70 year old, my husband should be rockin' as close to washboard abs as he has ever had for the rest of his natural life.    All of this repair may involve another specialist for rebuilding muscle tissue.  We'll know after yet another CT scan.  At one point the words 'swiss cheese' were used...

And the doctor decided that my husband needs to wait to do all of this until after his next big test in mid May as he won't be able to study or do much of anything for 6 to 8 weeks and she doesn't want to mess up his chances of passing his next actuarial exam.  Even as a surgical specialist, she says she could never imagine taking those tests!

She also let us know that letting go of our past horrible experience is a must, as attitude and expectations can play a huge part in how things turn out.  I know she's right.  I get it.  I really do.  As bad as things were, we have actually been truly fortunate in all of this.  So many things could have gone wrong with that first surgery.  And the fact that I actually know lots of people who will never get a second chance with their loved ones does make me feel sufficiently guilty. 

But Damn it, this man has been through enough and I just can't imagine how much more he's going to have to take.  So, I reserve the right to be snarky about this, at least for a little while...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sometimes My Husband Still Surprises Me

I have a feeling that my husband is somewhere on the Asperger's scale.  No seriously, but just mildly so.

I have a good friend with a husband who is diagnosed with Asperger's and he and my husband get along famously.  It's like a bog ol' nerdfest when the two of them get together.  And nobody else seems to get this guy better than my husband.  (Asperger's is a form of autism that affects social skills more than anything and a person with Asperger's is likely to be highly intelligent yet very bothered by overstimulation.  Mozart, Einstein and Thomas Jefferson all shared symptoms of Asperger's .) 

What could possibly make me think something like this? 

I'm won't pretend to be an expert on the subject.  These are just my observations:
My husband sometimes misses social cues- big time.  He has to cut the tags out of every piece of clothing he owns and food textures can be quite troublesome.  He's such a freakin' number genius and yet sometimes he panics if you ask him to add up a simple list of things and then he has to double and triple check his answer and explain how he got to it.

I'm not complaining.  Again, just my observations.  It's actually a part of his charm.  And he balances me out quite well.  Besides, I may or may not be known to let his quirks get me out of a bind here or there on occasion, but I'm not admitting to anything...

So yeah, he's just not a real emotional guy.  (But like I said, that keeps my 'fieryness' in check.)  While I appreciate how rational my man is, I must admit that I do sometimes miss out on romantic notions.  Small things like not thinking about the resale value of a gift, or how much it will cost to insure it.  Or sometimes he just doesn't seem to get the emotional intricacies of a given moment.  He can be perceived as pretty cut and dried with an affect that comes off as rather flat.

And yet, at times he is so clever and funny and brings out a childlike joy in just experiencing something.  And he will do literally anything for me, even if it goes against his highly logical side.  These are the times when sharing his life is magical.  So... what a wonderful surprise it has been to see how excited my husband has become about the idea of having a vacation place in the desert.  Imagine how wonderful it has been to hear him almost gush at how good he feels in that heat, how 108 with no humidity feels just right, how being able to get away to a place that is just so different is amazing to him, how he just never dreamed that he could want something so much.  It's just so cool to see him willing to take a chance on something without over thinking it.  Just because he wants to.  He doesn't often verbalize about goals much outside of rational lists and good investments.  So this is just fun.  And I'm happy for him. 

It's good to be able to share a dream and actually have a concrete plan to make it work.  My husband keeps me grounded so my dreams can take flight.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Universe Seems To Agree With Me...At Least For Now

A little wary of puttin' this out there as Murphy's Law has a way of taking me down a notch or two.
But hey, I'm being fearless here and IT'S ON!

Yesterday, my husband came home and told me about how the head actuary had taken him aside midday and asked him to come meet with him in his office.  Yeah, my husband was kinda' worried.  But then, being the statistical analyzer that he is, he figured out that he must not be being fired because they would have done that before the end of the year.  Sometimes I gotta' love the fact that my husband is so damn all-fire rational.

So this meeting happens and it turns out that my husband has been selected to be REWARDED for his helpfulness in teaching his peers.  Yup, he will be receiving an award for his hard work and dedication to helping others.
In the form of $1500.
Project Sun has officially kicked off with a BANG!

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credit: myspace layouts

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bring On The Cheap!

Being one who doesn't usually make New Years resolutions, I still do seem to 'take inventory' at this time of year.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that in our household all things seem to start anew in January.  My husband and I both have birthdays in January and our anniversary is also in January (thanks to Martin Luther King Day being the next three day weekend available for eloping!).  So while the calendar indicates that things have started over again with a brand new year, so too do all our major milestones. 
January has become a time in which we take stock.  Sort of see where things are, evaluate if we are on track for long and short term plans, look at finances, see what needs doing or fixing, etc.  This year my husband and I are completely on the same page.  And oh, what a page it is!  While we are NOT giving up on our dream to move to Texas, we will be embarking on a project that will ensure that we have access to warmth and sun even if it takes a while longer to get to our desired destination.
I am excited and super determined to help make this happen in any way that I possibly can!

Photo credit:

So this project of ours is going to require some serious saving.  And I am pretty good at that.  Really, I am.  In the past I have been known to do things that are not that fun or glamorous to make things I really want to happen, happen.  For example:  when my husband and I were newly married and in a pretty big mountain of debt, consisting mostly of student loans, I went to work at a real estate office down town so we could pay off the debt and save for a down payment on a house.  Now, you must understand that I am not at all a 9 to 5 kind of girl.  I don't do office politics, ever.  So this job was a stretch for me and my artistic self.  And it just plain sucked.  I mean sucked hard.  It was so bad that on most days I ended up crying in the bathroom by lunchtime.  The people in the office were mean and the boss was truly the biggest ass I had ever met.  And yet... I knew that the 1400 extra dollars I was bringing in every month was just the thing we needed to get our plans on track.  So with that knowledge and a deadline in mind I was able to work there for exactly the time it took me to get $10,000 for a down payment while also cutting way back on expenses so as to seriously bring down the student loan debt at the same time.  Yup, I managed to work at that office for just over 7 months.  And then I promised myself that I would never do that type of work again. 
So here I find myself at another time in my life when cash is needed and dreams are big.  How bad do I want it?  What am I willing to do?
OK, maybe not this.... (pause my music player)

That was just plain scary...

But I am willing to do a lot.  I've already decided that there will be no more driving to places that are within 2 miles of my house.  My cruiser bike will get me where I need to go.  And it already has a nifty rack and basket installed to carry things... 

And I'll get a great workout while I'm at it!  I also intend to put my crock pot to some serious use in the near future as well as buckling down on buying in bulk and freezing and preserving- and making sure that I put every last food item we already have to its best use.  No more letting leftovers go to waste.

While I was at the hairdresser the other day, getting my quarterly trim, I ended up sharing my plans with her.  She wasn't nearly as excited as I am about all this.  She told me she would never be able to stand the idea of greeting the weekend knowing that she wouldn't be going out and asked me how I could possibly cut back any more as she is aware of just how good I am about saving money already.  It got me thinking. 

I guess I am one of those people who enjoys delayed gratification more than immediate satisfaction.  At least when it comes to something that is bigger and better, anyway! 

So, what do you do when you really want something?  What's the cheapest or hardest thing you've ever done to get to a goal?  Was it worth it?
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