Rant

Man, How I Missed Me

I have some strong feelings about prescription medication right now. I’m taking more than I ever thought I would and I need each one. It sucks, but what can you do, right? Assuming your doctor is competent, he/she wouldn’t prescribe something unless you need it.

As much as I don’t like it, I take my meds and bitch about it in private. However, I don’t think I should keep my recent experience to myself. So I’m going to share. Before I start my rant, I want to state that every person can react differently to a medication. Just because someone has a bad experience doesn’t mean you will too. Don’t let what you read here scare you but do let it remind you to be cautious and vigilant.

I’ve been taking gabapentin since 2016. Six weeks after my back surgery (spinal fusion), my toes were suddenly on fire. Or they itched. Or both. I didn’t know exactly how to describe it. The doctor at a small clinic said peripheral neuropathy. She explained that some nerve damage was common after surgeries such as mine. It could be temporary or permanent. Guess which mine was?

She wrote a prescription and told me to notify my pain management (PM) doctor as he would be issuing every RX for it after this one. My PM guy agreed with the first doc’s assessment, and I added this new med to my pillbox.

At first, I was happy. The pain went away; of course, I was thrilled. I didn’t even have many side effects. I read everything I can find on adverse side effects because I’m often one of those .0000002 percenters who have weird reactions. Luckily I only had weird, extremely vivid dreams. I thought I got off easy.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was always a little forgetful, but I became what I referred to as ‘flighty.’ It got worse as the year went on and I started to worry. I was writing less and less because I couldn’t seem to concentrate for longer than ten minutes at a time. There were days when I had to think hard to remember if I’d taken a shower in the last day or two.

I was feeling down almost all the time. At the time, I refused to use the word depression because I didn’t think I needed to see a shrink. I was a dumbass. As long as I didn’t use that dirty word, I didn’t have to take it seriously.

Brain fog is how I would describe what happened in my head. Anger was my number one emotion. It’s easier to be pissed off than scared.

Dizziness and headaches were frequent. Anxiety reared its ugly head. I cried more often than I ever had. I was restless and at times, unsteady. You know when you get up too fast, and you get dizzy and unsteady? It was like that, but the unsteady would stay for a little while.

Soon I started feeling weak fairly often, and I had trouble sleeping. I was a mess. Most of these symptoms I ignored or just dealt with them. But there were a few that bothered me more.

My lack of concentration was a big deal. I couldn’t write. I could start but never get far. It seemed like I couldn’t access my muse. ‘She’ was locked up in solitary confinement, and I could only wave at her.

Anxiety always sucks but to feel it as often as I did, sometimes with no explanation was horrible. But the worse symptom was the one that started me on the road to fixing this situation: depression.

Everyone has times when they are down, and a lot of people go through depression at some point in their lives. For me, I never stay down for long. So feeling this way for at least a year was strange, wrong. Of course, I’d never been through chronic pain depression, which is what I thought my problem was.

I read all about what prolonged pain can do to a person, and I thought ‘oh crap, I guess I have to live with this.’ I was almost to the point of asking my doctor if there was anything that would help. If you know me, you know that’s a big step I never want to take.

One of the medications I take is Tramadol. It is a synthetic opioid. I react badly to hydrocodone and meds like it so Tramadol is all I can take. Since it’s a ‘big’ pain reliever, I became convinced it was the source of all my troubles.

A lot of the adverse reactions that could happen with its use described my life! Part of me was relieved. I believed I knew what the problem was. However, I was screwed! I couldn’t take anything else, and my only other option is another spinal fusion, which wouldn’t completely fix everything. Well, there is one more drug I can take, but it’s some serious shit. The kind of thing they give you in the hospital after surgery. NOT HAPPENING!

Around the time of all this research I realized I was overdue for a physical. I made a massive list of all the things I needed to talk to the doctor about and made an appointment. I told her all my symptoms and asked if she thought it was Tramadol and if she had any suggestions.

Her answer changed my life! She said: “Actually, I think it might be the gabapentin.”

I’m not exaggerating when I say I almost fell off the table/bed. She pulled up symptoms on her computer and read some off to me. My mind and my heart raced. I barely heard her when she said there were other medication options. She said to talk to my pain management guy and told me to have hope.

I did both.

The next day I was sitting in the PM doc’s office, describing my symptoms while the doctor nodded in agreement. They took me off gabapentin (slowly) and put me on Lyrica (also slowly). It sucked because my toes expressed their displeasure in the form of the weird itch/burn. I was warned that Lyrica could cause similar reactions, but there are a lot of patients who react badly to one of the two meds and fine to the other.

I’ve only been on the new med for a few weeks, but so far it’s incredible. For the first time in about a year, I feel like ME again. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until the symptoms went away.

Brain fog, what brain fog? Memory issues? Well, my memory always sucked, but it’s back to a reasonable level. Concentration? I haven’t gotten distracted once while writing this post, so I’d say I’m okay there. I even know when I’ve showered, lol.

I haven’t felt anything resembling depression. For the first time in a long time, I have hope. Last week I sat down to write three different days, and it worked. I wrote, a lot actually, on each of those days. I’m going to write (fiction) today as well. Hopefully, that writing won’t have as many compound sentences as this post, but words are words, and I’m happy for any that hit the page!

I have no way of knowing if the new medication will cause the same issues, but I figure I have a little time. The gabapentin didn’t wreck me until I’d taken it for two years. I hope Lyrica won’t destroy me too, but until (and if) I start having bad symptoms, I’m going to live my life and enjoy being me again.

Again, I want to state that everyone is different, and just because I had a bad time with these meds doesn’t mean you or your loved ones will. My step-dad and my Grandmother are both on gabapentin and aren’t reacting as I did. In fact, my step-dad has been taking it for much longer than I did and is fine.

I do want to stress vigilance and knowledge. Learn as much as you can about anything you put into your body. Don’t let what you read scare you, though. You may never have the possible side effects, but if you do, you’ll know to talk to your doctor about the medication.

Wish me luck as I get back to writing!


Sidenote: to give you an idea of how different life is for me now, this post is over 1400 words. Even two months ago I either wouldn’t be capable of writing this, or it would take me hours or days. This took about 20 minutes.


Photo by kgrkz on Unsplash

 

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! (A Saturday Rant)

I’m so frustrated! It’s hard to put into words, and you all know how I am, that means a LOT of words will follow.

Everyone I know would probably agree that I’m one their biggest cheerleaders. I’m mostly around writers, and I’m a strong believer of encouraging these other pen monkeys. I want them all to succeed. I try to make them feel like they are worth something.

I spent too many years with a foot on my neck being told subtly and not so subtly that I shouldn’t write, that I wasn’t good enough. That it wasn’t something, I should take seriously. Or that I would never succeed. Those people in my life eroded my confidence, exploited my fears, and generally frakked me up mentally. You can see why I don’t want others to fall victim to this.

So, I made it a practice to encourage other writers. To make them feel welcome among the various groups I’ve been a part of. To show them they are good enough. To make them feel a part of something important. Or more accurately, that they have the right to be a part of it.

I did this to the exclusion of myself.

Now, (actually for months) the writing group I go to is in the process of destroying itself. The group as a whole seems to be less important than Marsha ONE, Marsha TWO, Marsha THREE and so on. (This may sound minor but it is not. The details don’t matter here as I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)

Each Marsha is so wrapped up in themselves or is busy being snide to each other, they don’t even see the Kristi’s of the group are suffering from the fallout.

I really want to indulge in some constructive selfishness, but I’m the only one in the group not allowed to do so. I’ve learned the hard way, if I, who is expected to stay in my role as cheerleader, express an opinion, I’ll lose friends or at least offend everyone for calling them out. Or I’ll be the final straw that breaks the group. Dammit ONE, TWO, and THREE, cut your shit!

The last time I said how I felt everyone acted like I’d grown horns then screamed it over a global intercom and shook my demon finger in their faces. No one could believe I had feelings other than encouragement for Them.

The other response is denial. It’s quite frustrating when someone tries to convince you your feelings are not legitimate because they refuse to see the problem. Pretending there is no issue doesn’t absolve one from being part of it Marsha.

Hell, I’ve felt like I’ve been on the outside for so long I don’t know what I would do if that changed. I know other people have felt this way, but that only meant they didn’t notice I’ve been going through it. So I keep my mouth shut about me and cheer-lead them. It’s strange to try to convince someone to not listen to those inner doubts when the same fears float around the top of my head.

I’m left with a new dilemma. Say something or stay home. Who am I kidding? I’ll keep going and keep repressing and keep getting angry. Then option two will bubble up, and I’ll have to spend all my time fixing all the Marshas’ hurt feelings at my audacity for having feelings!

Like most rants, this one rambles around and probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to those reading it. However, getting the words out, especially on ‘paper’ helps me more than I can say.


 

Stop Bringing Me Down!

You know the type. The melancholy girl, the persecuted guy. That one person you know who spreads their own brand of misery wherever they go. Maybe you’re unlucky enough to have several of them in your life.

There are a few for me, and each one is unique, and I have to handle them differently. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting and potentially detrimental to me. What does that even mean?

Let me give you one of my examples. One of the biggest downers in my life, we’ll call her Sarah, has affected me in ways I am only now realizing. Between her negativity and ‘poor me’ attitude, she tapped into my overly developed empathy and brought me so low I’m not sure how to pull myself back out of the hole she dug for me.

I’ve barely written in months. For some reason, every time I sat down to work doubts, fears, and sadness overwhelmed me to the point of immobility. I stared at my pen or screen and did…nothing. Why should I? It was going to suck anyway. Why bother to try when I would fail in the end. Why move that pen when only junk would come out of it.

WHAT THE BLOODY HELL? That wasn’t me talking! Well, it was the old me, but not the me who wrote steadily for many years now. Nor the me who overcame those fears long ago. So who was it?

Sarah. Poor sad, despondent Sarah. The woman who enjoys living in her hell and spreads her misery in all directions. We all have some degree of empathy. For me, it’s so stupidly strong that I will start actually to feel the intense emotions of those around me. It sucks. I don’t see Sarah all that often, but it’s enough that her wretched aura got to me. For months.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming everything on the girl. I’m fully capable of screwing myself over with writing. However, in this case, she shares some of the blame. The truth is, she’s brought down my entire writing group. All of us have been down for months. Empathy is real people, and we have little control over it. She doesn’t mean to bring those around her down, but damn, she’s good at it. Just like I don’t intend to let it get to me.

Ironically, she complains when others do it to her. She once told a group I was in that she hates people exactly like her. HA!

Anyway, what can one do to guard against someone else affecting you in this way? Wish I knew. I do have some guesses though, things I will try to put into action.

Avoid the source of misery. Sometimes this is mostly impossible. What if it’s a close friend or family member? Unless you live with the person, you can limit the time you spend with them. No matter how you feel about someone, if they are toxic, you need to get away at least some of the time.

Tell them. Okay, this one is hard, and I won’t be doing this. It will only add to her problems. Guilt won’t change her anyway.

Encourage them. This won’t work. Not if they don’t want it to. Some people are content being down. It can be a comfortable alternative to effort and accountability. Still, if they are in your life, you probably care about them, and your good will might mean a lot. Besides, empathy works both ways. Maybe your positivity will fight against their opposing attitude.

Recognize what is happening and do whatever you can to counter it. Now that I know that part of my issue is others bringing me down I can tell my negative feelings to suck it! When I say to myself that writing is a waste of time because I’ll fail, I can remind myself those are not MY words. That aspect of myself is small and tied down. I’ll always have doubts, but they will not cripple me the way they did in the past.

Share your story. I’m well past some of the bad feelings I’ve picked up from others, but they are Not. So I can tell them what I went through and how I overcame these things. It may or may not help them, but at least the effort is there on my part.

If all else fails (in my case), use ear buds. Doesn’t make sense, right? Empathy is about feeling what others are feeling. However, loud music and putting my head down to write can distract me from what is being said and felt. Something is better than nothing when the misery in the air is loud.

What a rant! I’m not as angry as this sounds. I’m simply drained and tired of it all.

As much as I’ve been affected by some others in my life, what I choose to do is my responsibility. Like I said before, not every writing difficulty is 100% Sarah’s fault. But it’s important to acknowledge the effect she’s had on me. I advise you to do the same with the people in your life who did the same to you. If you don’t realize what’s happening, you can’t take steps.

Don’t feel guilty for not wanting to be brought down. Know it’s not your responsibility to fix someone, whether they want to be fixed or not. All you can control is you. I’m choosing to do something about the situation. I have enough roadblocks in my life as it is. I don’t need this one.

File it under self-care and convince yourself that taking care of you is the most important thing.


Roadblocks & Annoyances

My muse has been waking up, so it was no surprise when my body starting betraying me again. It seems like every time I get close to being myself again after all these back problems and medication adjusting, something pops up that could potentially stop me from writing.

This time it is my sensitivity to salicylates. It’s been quite some time since I had my first major allergic reaction and I’ve done many things to avoid a repeat performance of Hellboy (this was my entire body turning bright red after drinking a smoothie containing blackberries and blueberries). I really thought I had this stuff under control, but I learned twice in the last week how wrong I was.

Okay, confession time. I did learn tea was very high in salicylates, but at the time of my first reaction, I didn’t know. So I kept drinking it, every day. As time went on, I reacted to more things. The doctor had warned me of this, and while I listened to her, I unwisely decided to keep enjoying the things I loved until my body told me I was done.

Unfortunately, when I react to one thing, there is a domino effect. There are three different types of salicylate. I wasn’t reacting to the one that includes mint and menthol, so I didn’t cut either out. I loved my mints and cough drops, they acted as substitutes when I stopped smoking years ago. Then came the fateful day when my body rejected both. It was awful! They caused sores in my mouth, even under my tongue!

Once that happened I reacted to certain shampoos and cosmetics. I had already cleaned out the ones with ‘benzyl salicylate’ on their label, but I left the ones containing aloe. Mistake!

And I still drank tea. Even when there were signs it was doing bad things to me, I kept drinking it. Then my body, which is clearly smarter than me, decided it for me. I reacted, and it wasn’t fun. Shortly after I reacted to a face cleaner, then yesterday I an unexpected enemy reared it’s lovely, delicious, terrible head — paprika. I ate a grilled chicken salad. The chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper (another salicylate), garlic, onion powder, and paprika. Stupid me, I have looked at the lists of foods to avoid a hundred times and simply never noticed the spices. It’s more accurate to say I ignored it.

My punishment was to turn into Hellboy again. Honestly, I’m lucky I haven’t had any breathing issues, though the doctor says it will come to that.

There are a few more items in the house I need to figure out replacements for. Did I mention I can’t have mint? I have yet to discover a toothpaste that is for sensitive teeth but doesn’t contain mint. I guess I should cut out regular pepper too, ugh!

I had to learn all the terms used by various companies that mean salicylates without actually using the word.  Most sunscreens have the evil in them, but the label says homosalate or octisalate. Some of the ones for sensitive skin don’t have those two, but they have aloe. I found two I can use, which are more expensive but safe is good.

I’m discovering more and more things I have to avoid, but I’m paying more attention now. I hate giving up things I love (no more chicken strips from restaurants), but it’s time to give in. I don’t only turn red when I use things I shouldn’t, I also feel really awful. Lie down and stare at the ceiling awful. This stops me from writing, and I can’t allow it any longer.

Back pain and surgeries have already been roadblocks to writing, I can’t let my own bad choices also stop me too.

Yesterday was the first day with no tea. I hated it, but I survived. Today will be the same. The two pieces of chicken meant for my salads will be given to my offspring, and I’ll find something plain to eat. I’ll pout a lot and curse the unfairness of it all, but I know it’s all worth it.

Most importantly, I’ll write.

Disappointing/Potentially Dangerous Morning Due To My Own Bad Choices

As an adult, I have the right to make terrible decisions, right? My most recent mess up has to do with Pop Tarts, and I’m ticked off about it. Not long ago I made a choice to start eating a cherry one every morning. Not the healthiest thing, but it was quick, easy, and kept my blood sugar mostly normal.

Besides eating mostly sugar for breakfast, my biggest mistake was assuming something as cheap and bad for you as Pop Tarts are, there couldn’t be real fruit in them. I was spectacularly wrong!

There are dried cherries, and oddly, dried apples in them. Guess who is allergic to berries and most other fruits? Actually, it’s more that I’m overly sensitive to something in a lot of foods – salicylates. I’ve always had issues with them, but until several months ago, when I had a severe reaction to some berries, it wasn’t too much of an issue. I’ve never cared for most fruit, so I rarely had any, except in Pop Tarts.

I learned from my doctor that my sensitivity would grow worse once I had the bad reaction. The problem is salicylates are in so many foods. To break it down a bit, everyone is sensitive to them, as they are basically poison. As we grow and try new things, our bodies build up a tolerance, allowing us to eat them. How else do you think you can eat tomatoes, which are nightshades – poison? People like me are more sensitive to them and can’t build as strong a tolerance, so are likely to have an allergic reaction eventually.

Have you seen Hellboy? Imagine a female version, and you’ll get a good mental image of what I looked like when I reacted to a smoothie containing blackberries and blueberries. I’d avoided these my whole life until that day, apparently for a good reason. My entire body turned bright red, and I felt terrible. I probably should have gone to the hospital, but I took a Benadryl and waited.

So, back to the cherry Pop Tarts. As usual, I ate one today. I was cutting potatoes for a stew I was going to throw together in the slow-cooker. I ended up eating pretty slow, in between potatoes. It took about fifteen minutes to cut the veggies and get everything in the pot. Then I went to my bedroom to change into my gym clothes. On the way, my bottom lip started feeling strange.

It was a tingling that was almost a burning sensation. It was the same with a couple of my fingers. Curse words flooded my thoughts because I recognized the feeling. I was reacting to something. I panicked a little at first because it could only be the cheap pastry or the tea I was drinking with it. I looked at my cup of tea and realized I’d only taken a few small drinks. It had to be the damn Pop Tart!

Claritin is part of my morning pill routine so I didn’t take a Benadryl. All I could do was finish getting ready and take my kid to school. I almost didn’t go to the gym but decided I would because I didn’t really feel bad, the burning, which had moved into my entire chin, wouldn’t stop me from working out. When I got to the gym I checked my face and the bottom half was definitely red. I worried I looked like a ventriloquist’s dummy but I sucked it up and got on the elliptical. The allergy stuff wasn’t going to kick in for at least two more hours so I kept my head down and made as little eye contact as possible. Actually, I do that every time I go to the gym so I wasn’t acting out of the ordinary, haha.

After my workout, I went to the grocery store and picked up something different for breakfast. I came home and looked at the ingredients on the food that betrayed me, and sure enough, it had real fruit. I’m an idiot for not checking this before I started eating them every day, which was two months ago. I can only guess how I was able to eat them this long. With the fruits in dried form, maybe it takes longer to get to me?

At least this will force me to eat something healthy in the morning. I should have been all along. The truth is, I’m a creature of habit. Buying a box of Pop Tarts was an impulse and then quickly became a habit. Plus, I LIKE them. Whatever I choose to eat for breakfast always becomes an everyday thing. I don’t have time in the morning to think too much about food. I certainly don’t have enough time to eat anything that takes a lot of prep.

Now, the Claritin is doing its job. My face isn’t red, and my bottom lip and chin aren’t swollen or burning anymore. I still feel it a bit in my fingers, but it will go away soon. If it doesn’t, I guess it will be doctor time.

The really sad part for me is my tea. I drink a cup every day while I eat breakfast. For all I know, it contributed to what happened. Tea is high in salicylates. I have been drinking it anyway because I did build up a tolerance. I knew eventually it would probably betray me too but I was hoping it would take a long time. Giving up my daily caffeine is terrifying! I may have to anyway.

I hope this time I’ve learned my lesson!

 

Writers Are Mean…

All writers are mean. We are abusive, bullying, nasty, horrible people. We are overly critical, judgy, and our standards are too high. We cause crying, anger, yelling, sadness, depression, anxiety, and sleeping problems. Writers do and are all these things, to ourselves, often.

Therefore, why on earth should we allow other writers to do the same to us? Too many times I’ve seen a writer trying to bring another one down. In most cases the perpetrator is doing so to make themselves feel better – superior. You know what makes me feel good when reading another writer’s work? Telling them the good things I see.

I’m more than happy to critique something when requested but generally most writers when they put themselves out for the world to see, i.e. a short story on their blog, or a Facebook post, etc, need encouragement.

Personally, I know sometimes I need the motivational push or someone to tell me it’s not terrible, or something else positive. So I have to assume other writers need the same.

Why can’t we hold each other up and be supportive instead of mean and judgemental? There are a few people I know who like to tear others down and it is clearly based on a lack of confidence on their part. Maybe no one helped them or encouraged them early in their career. I know that even when I or other writers in my community try now, these people don’t notice.

What if they were told the good stuff when they first started out? Would they feel the need to be crappy to other writers today? Maybe so, but also, maybe not.

Think about this. If you’re only surrounded by harsh comments, negativity, unwarranted criticism, and unfavorable comparisons for years, you’re probably going to be a pretty miserable human right? Since, as a writer, you’re going to do this to yourself and be unable to escape it, wouldn’t it be great if someone, preferably many someones, was there telling you what you did right? Saying how you are great with dialog or description, or how your writing voice is so clear. Maybe just telling you they love your stories.

Now what if it were other writers telling you the good stuff? As writers we can’t help it, we value what other writers say over everyone else. I mean, sure, your mom, or spouse, or best friend can say every word you write is perfection but you know they love you and that makes their credibility a little shaky (even if they are correct). When someone else who practices your craft gives you positive feedback, WHAM, it hits you in the ego in the best sort of way. Little tendrils of goodness invade your subconscious…maybe I’m not the worst writer on the planet…yeah, that is a damn good sentence…perhaps I can do this, etc.

I believe, as a writer, I have several jobs to do.

1: Write, as often as I can.

1.5: Finish what I start writing.

2: Always try to improve my craft.

3. Help other writers as much as possible.

The third one is very important to me. When I first started writing I was alone in it. One person encouraged me but only as a hobby. I was a stay at home mom with a husband who thought I should never do anything for me. My job was to be a mom and nothing else. Throughout the years I was actively discouraged and ignored when it came to writing. Everything from being told my writing sucked to being accused of being irresponsible for even trying. Once I was divorced and then married again I was the victim of subtle undermining. My confidence was shot and my desire to write was nil.

Then one day I realized something. My exes were A-holes who played on my real issue with writing: fear. I always worried I wasn’t good enough at it, that I was wasting time only to fail. I feared succeeding as much as failing. I was afraid of what others though or might think.

So I took the first steps toward writing regularly. Eventually I married a man who actually wants me to write. I found other writers in my community, most of which were encouraging and welcoming. The ones who aren’t, well, they can’t touch me after the stuff I heard from the exes.

Being around others like me changed everything. Now I write all the time. I have more confidence in what I do and I’m constantly improving.

When I meet new writers, or people trying to get back into it, with fear in their eyes, everything I went through comes back to me. So I step up and try to make them feel welcome. I share my story when needed and always have something positive to say about their work. I do the same for people who are actively writing. All I want is to be as supportive as I can. No one should have to feel bad about writing.

There will always be the negative writers around so I hope my attitude and others who think the same help to balance out the bad things we all have to hear. It takes so little effort to do these little things to help others and everyone benefits.

I’ll save my mean writer side for myself. Speaking of, after rereading this I spotted tons of complicated or shaky sentences and am fighting the urge to fix them. See? I don’t need anyone else to tell me I suck. Maybe someday I’ll even stop listening to myself.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to encourage at least one writer this week. I hope this message doesn’t self destruct!


Photo by Ryan McGuire

Why All Adults Should Strive To Be Someone A Child Can Trust

I had an eventful weekend. It didn’t start that way. On Friday I wasn’t feeling very good so I stayed home and spent all day alternating between sitting in my desk chair for 20 minutes and laying down for a while. I couldn’t figure out if I was having massive allergy issues or if I was sick. I erred on the side of caution by taking it easy.

On Saturday I was still a little sluggish but better so I guess it was allergies. I decided to stay home again just in case. I was so bored! I tried for a while to plan my new novel but I was unsuccessful. I did manage to cook dinner, clean off my bathroom counter, and  some dusting.

My daughter planned to have a friend, who I’ll call “M,” come over to spend the night. It was her best friend, who is practically a part of the family, so even though I didn’t feel good I didn’t mind.

At some point in the evening my daughter comes into my room alone looking nervous. I need to insert some back story here. M has an awful, controlling boyfriend. This guy made her delete all her social media accounts except Facebook and only allowed her to use it if he had the password. He wouldn’t let her see her friends often and cheated constantly. I was terrified it would get worse.

So back to that night, it took her a while, but eventually my kid started talking. She said M’s boyfriend had hit M, multiple times. For a few moments I couldn’t speak. I’ve been pretty angry many times in my life, I admit to a hot temper. But I’ve never felt anger like I did in that moment.

The first thing I asked was if M knew she was telling me, she did. I asked a few questions but quickly realized I needed to be asking M. I had my daughter go get her. She came in with her head down and sat on the end of my bed facing me. This kid looked like she was prepared to get in trouble! My heart broke.

I asked a lot of questions, like how many times, what else did he do, how long, etc. She was hesitant but once she started answering the floodgates opened. It took every bit of self-control I had in me to not demand we go to her mom and call the cops NOW. The problem was she had already said she didn’t want him to go to jail, she wanted him to get help. I also realized if she was ready to tell her mother she wouldn’t have come to me first.

So I controlled my impulse and gently steered her in the direction I thought she should go. I felt, and still feel guilty about it. I felt like I manipulated her and she’d had enough of that crap.

Anyway, she told stories of how when she tried to leave the guy he would cry and beg or if that didn’t work he would hit her. One day he punched her in the stomach repeatedly and hurt her hand when she tried to block him. I could go on and on at what this little bastard did but it’s getting me all worked up again so I’ll stop. Suffice it to say, he was abusive, in all the ways.

As the conversation continued I was searching for ways to get through to her and finally found the two triggers. First I said, “I bet you haven’t felt like yourself in a long time.” She was shocked and agreed. Then I asked her what she would want to happen if it was my daughter who’d been abused. It was a lightbulb moment. She looked at my daughter, then for the first time met my eyes. “I would want you to go to the cops.”

She agreed going to the police was the right thing to do but was nervous at the idea of facing him in court. I couldn’t advise her. She’s 15, old enough to be questioned in court, but maybe young enough that she can’t be forced. I just told her to tell the police how she felt about it. Did I mention the boyfriend is 18?

Then came the hardest part of all. I had to talk her into telling her mother. She didn’t want to but knew she should. She said she would tell her in the morning. I said “I think you should tell her tonight.”

She balked. I offered to do the talking and she agreed. As guilty as I feel for pushing her to tell her mom, I know in the back of her mind it’s what she wanted. So the three of us got in the car and drove to her house. On the way there she said she felt guilty. I told her it was okay to feel that way as no one can turn off feelings. She seemed relieved to hear it.

It was hard to tell her mother but I imagine it was easier for me than it would have been for M. Obviously the woman was very upset but it went as well as it could have. She said the best thing she could have at one point. When she asked M why she hadn’t come to her, M said she was afraid to tell an adult and she’d only barely told my daughter that night. Her mom said “I understand but it was telling an adult that is going to get you the help you need.” It was another lightbulb moment for M. I wanted to fist pump at the mom!

We went back to my house and on the way I asked M if she felt relieved. She said she did.

I haven’t heard anything yet about what they have done. I know M’s mom planned to go up the school and I hope she went to the police. M didn’t go to school today because she didn’t want to face the boyfriend. I do know he already knows she told her mom about him thanks to her idiotic sister telling him.

The night she told me all this I managed to get her to change her password on Facebook. While she was at my house he logged onto her account, pretended to be her, and asked both my daughters what ‘she’ should do about him.

We talked about ways to avoid this guy and to never be alone in the halls.  I also told her I would be more than happy to drive her to and from school because she normally rides a bike. It’s the only time she’ll be alone.

I’m worried about what’s she’s about to go through but I’m so happy she’s took steps to escape the situation. I’ve always been the ‘understanding’ mom of my daughter’s friend group. So thankfully she trusted me enough to tell me, the poor kid has been so scared and confused for so long.

The rest of the weekend was taken up by writing group stuff and Batman vs. Superman ultimate edition. I am still not feeling great but I was able to get out of the house today to work on planning my novel for Nanowrimo.

I’m a little distracted thinking about M but I plan to do some writing this afternoon. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress.


P.S. Should I feel guilty for thinking about going to M’s mom or the police even if she didn’t agree? When I thought she wouldn’t do it, I was sorely tempted to do it myself.

I Can’t Wait Until I’m Old So I Can Be An (*$#%@&^)

When I was younger, a few months or so ago, I often wondered if people getting close to the age they consider old said that to themselves. Lately I’ve encountered so many mean, irritable, grumpy, rude, insertcurseword-ish elderly people it was like a plague had hit.

It seemed everywhere I went they were to be found. At my favorite writing spot hogging tables. At the grocery store mumbling obscenities at everyone they passed when the other people didn’t move out of their way quickly enough. Driving through town causing road rage wherever they very slowly went. There was the guy at the convenience store who cut in a long line and glared at the young girl who dared to question him, or at least started to dare before his frightening expression shut her down.

Oh, I can’t forget to mention the lady in a department store parking lot whose car somehow managed to take up three spaces. When I noticed I shook my head and she jumped out of her car and screamed at me as I walked by.

During some of these, and other, encounters, I’ve said what was stated in the title to myself. Or wondered if I’d be a jerk to everyone around me with impunity once I hit a certain age.

Every time I encountered one of these people it would irritate me and I’d piss and moan about it to my husband or friends, sometimes even my kids, but I wouldn’t do anything.

Then something happened.

I wish I knew what my trigger was but I don’t . One day I realized my bullshit detector was on super sensitive while my tolerance of said bullshit was at an all time low. At times, like with the lady in the parking lot, I snapped back. All I said was “Look at your parking lady.” when she was yelling and questioning my right to shake my head. However, while I know I didn’t say it in a nasty tone, I’m quite sure I delivered it in a way that would irritate her the most. Not very nice on my part.

Or at the grocery store when an extremely older woman tried to herd me out of her way with her cart and I didn’t budge. In all fairness, in this case I couldn’t have moved due to other shoppers but I know damn well I wouldn’t have anyway.

So this brings me to my point. It’s a vicious cycle. These pissed off elderly folk were probably treated poorly by people they thought of as old and now that it’s their turn, they are doing the same to the ones of us who are younger.

AND I WAS IN THE PROCESS OF PERPETUATING THIS CRAP!

There I was, reacting the way we all eventually end up reacting  when others are jerk faces to us. It’s like the ones who were pissing me off were gradually passing the torch to me. I’ll admit, at the rate these encounters were happening, my goal-age for being an old asshole was going to end up being much younger than the ones I watched behave badly. Not only that, but I was contributing to the anger these perpetrators already had too much of.

A strange, and all too often occurrence (at least the start of it) today made me really think about what I was doing. A lady deliberately cut me off with her cart several times at a drug store. I don’t know why she singled me out or what prompted her to keep it up but I was getting pretty irritated. Not the first time she did it. I hardly noticed, just a minor blip on my ‘oh look another a-hole’ radar. I can’t tell you what my expression so I don’t know if it contributed. A few rows in she did it a second time, with eye contact.

I remember thinking, man what’s up with this lady, but I kept searching for what I needed to buy. You know that feeling you get when someone is staring at you? I kept feeling it and every time I looked up I saw her over the short displays and she would quickly look away. It was so weird but I said “It’s not all about you Kristi” over and over. But it was all about me this time.

We were in the vitamins section and there are four or five rows of the stuff. Each time I left the row I was on, there she was, her cart almost colliding with mine, along with a nasty look, then a satisfied smile for her friend looking at end caps.

After several times I was beginning to wonder if she was playing some kind of game since she seemed to be enjoying herself. Then it hit me. Was I really taking the time to wonder if some pissy old lady was messing with me? Yep. As this had never happened to me before I was quite surprised. It was a little funny and I found myself smiling. I glanced at my nemesis  and instead of quickly turning her headthis time she glared at me. Guess the smile rubbed her the wrong way. Oops!

I giggled. A lot. It was just so ridiculous. I couldn’t help myself, every time I looked at her, I laughed harder. She got madder, then I guess confused based on her expression. Somehow through my giggle fit I found my vitamins and started to leave. She moved to cut me off again.

I let her. Then I left.

Once in my car I felt guilty because I know me laughing made it worse. Then I got mad because I didn’t think I should have to feel guilty for her being an ass and I hadn’t done it on purpose.

Then I made a decision. From now on I’m going to do whatever it takes to avoid people like her. I don’t have to bite back, or in this case laugh (which is another form of fighting back at times). I can keep my head shakes to myself and just get out of the way when needed. This doesn’t just apply to the well aged, I’ll stay away from jerks of all ages.

I can’t control my face (when I amused mostly) so I’ll keep my head down when others act like toddlers. I’m not really a petty person and I don’t like how someone being nasty brings it out in me. I can’t fix them, but I can try to be a better me.

Most important, I’m not going to let the anger infect me. And when I’m old enough to act like an asshole and get away with it, I won’t. Even when I want to.


 

Sidenote: Somehow some aspects of the lady from the drugstore must becomea part of my novel. I’m in need of minor characters.

Bad Day? Maybe, Probably, Okay Yes.

Well, I just compared a specific human to a tapeworm so I’m thinking yes, I’m having a bad day. Have you ever had one of those days where anger, or irritation, crept up on you?

I didn’t know it was happening. It started with wanting some information. Before too long I came to the conclusion the info should have been forthcoming long ago. A vague grumpiness at the situation developed, then the universe produced a figurative air pump it became full-blown irritation before I had really analyzed what was bugging me.

Some attempts were made to defuse the situation but when my direct question was answered with words that equaled nothing, it got worse. Finally I realized I’d been irritated for quite some time about this junk.

The problem is I despise negativity. I can’t handle it for very long and as a result I either try to resolve issues quickly (too quickly some would say) or I push them away (mostly this one). So I quietly and unknowingly let it all build up for weeks into a just as quiet explosion.

I’m sitting here pissed off and besides some lengthy text complaining to a friend, I’m not really doing anything about it. Pretending a tapeworm doesn’t exist only helps the tapeworm though. Unfortunately I’ll probably just walk away from the situation.

This post sounds passive-aggressive in its vagueness right? I’m not trying to be, I’m simply trying to not call people out.

The point is I let something negative grow until I’m miserable and it’s affecting everything. For example, this morning I decided to work on a quick timeline for my novel. Well, it didn’t end up being anything resembling fast but it was helpful. I found some holes that need to be filled in my plot and I changed the order of a few events. I planned on doing actual writing after lunch but haven’t because I got pissy.

At this point I’m not sure how to turn the day around. I don’t want to wallow in self-pity. My plan is to make some new plot cards and take a look at the story as a whole on a story board and from there I hope I’ll write.

If you want some free advice, don’t bottle up emotions or you might also find yourself comparing people to parasites and trust me, it feels as ridiculous and petty (if a tiny bit satisfying) as it sounds.

 

Random Observations (A Ramble)

If you don’t like meandering ramblings then this post is not for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I’m sitting in a Starbucks. It’s not my normal writing spot but for some reason I felt the need to change it up. I hear people say either this place has the best coffee or the grossest brew. I don’t really care because I get hot tea, English Breakfast, which is nearly impossible to mess up. I’m here for the atmosphere and the aroma.

If you know me at all you know I despise the flavor of coffee but adore how it smells. Something about it improves my creativity.

Anyway, I ordered my tea and sat down. As I pulled out my laptop and my spiral I overheard a short conversation between two men dressed in business suits. They were talking about work when suddenly one changed the subject.

“I love my wife but she calls me at work about the kids and it drives me  crazy. I mean I’m at work, how does she not get that. She never even asks if I can talk. As soon as I say hello she’s all ‘blah blah blah blah,'”

The other man nodded then talked about an app that tracks everything for his baby. Diapers, feeding schedule, everything. So he and his wife were on the same page and she doesn’t call him at work. Though she does text.

I had several thoughts as this conversation unfolded. First was why on earth had I tuned into this? Second was that the first guy was a moron and the second guy was smart. I get it that when you’re busy with work it’s rarely good to be interrupted with a personal call, especially when it happens often.

However, why hasn’t this guy done something about it? Perhaps a conversation with his wife would take care of the issue. Ask her to text or something, get the app, don’t answer unless you are able to talk, etc. Also, I hate it when people piss and moan about their significant other. It’s disrespectful and crappy.

The other guy handled this issue in a much better way. He and his wife got an app, probably had a conversation and he never said one negative word about her. His nod to his coworker indicated he understood and that was enough.

I’m feeling pretty judgy right now but he struck a nerve. I never gripe about my husband to anyone and he never complains about me to anyone. We respect each other enough to keep out mouths shut, even when we’re angry or irritated with each other. Well, to be honest I have complained that my husband never puts himself first but I don’t think that one counts as negative. It’s okay if you think I’m a hypocrite lol.

To change the subject, let’s talk writing. I made an important connection this morning while at the gym today. I was on the elliptical and thinking about my fantasy trilogy. Yesterday I started having new ideas for the first book. They came out of nowhere during physical therapy and grew throughout the day.

I woke up today with even more ideas and I was thinking about them while working out. I made a plan for what I wanted to write today and it hit me. Exercise. It was the key to unlocking my sad case of writer’s block!

Since coming home from vacation I had only gone to the gym once until Tuesday. Once I restarted my gym habit my muse came out of hiding. She’d poked her head out a bit for a writing prompt but not much else for a month. Now ideas are flowing easily. I almost have too many!

My writing was always easier and better after working out but I never realized I had inadvertently trained my muse to almost need the exercise first. When I look back to when the block started it all makes sense. It began with me getting into vacation mode. I was still working out but as it go closer to time to leave town I slacked. I wasn’t really writing much but it was fine because I was gathering stuff and making lists and generally preparing (excuses all).

I told myself I’d get work done on the plane or when there was down time at my in-laws’ house. It never happened. Then I came back home and I don’t know what came over me. I went to physical therapy two days in a row that week and it kicked my butt. I went to the gym once after that and my tooth disaster wrecked any chance of me working out again until this week. If you’ve ever had an abscessed tooth then you understand why I stayed home and felt sorry for myself. Also, no writing happened.

So on Monday school started and I had a PT appointment after dropping my daughter off. I told them I was done. I wanted back in the gym and they previously didn’t want me doing anything other than cardio while in their care. I plateaued a long time ago and at this point I was only making them money and getting nothing out of it.

On Tuesday I worked out, and yes I was careful not to overdo it. Or so I thought. I was so sore but I felt great. I went back to PT on Wednesday for one last time and asked a lot of questions about what I could and couldn’t do in the gym. They had me do all my exercise a final time, including some alterations so I could do some of them at home. I was almost done when the random idea struck. I must have had a dramatic physical reaction because when I came out of my writer’s trance several therapists were staring at me haha.

My husband had come with me so he had to listen to me babble about the idea all the way home. I was so excited that I don’t think he minded too much. He knows how I’ve struggled and how disheartened I’ve been about it.

This morning I went to work out again. It was hard! It was amazing too. Almost the entire time I was making stuff up, just like a writer should! It was even about the project I want to work on.

There are still issues I have to work through of course. For example. I came to Starbucks to write all these ideas down but instead I eavesdropped on someone’s conversation and decided to write about it. I’ll have to find a way to push distractions away. Writing a blog post isn’t so bad but other things need to be ignored.

I am a creature of habit so once I reestablish my routine, or come up with a new one and get used to it I’ll be good. My plan is to always write after working out. If I’m able to write again after lunch then I will. My muse likes structure so I will give her structure!  I will go to the gym daily to at least get on the elliptical for a while. I’m not sure what my schedule will be for the weights and machines yet but I’ll figure it out quickly.

The best thing about working out today is at this moment I feel no pain. I might wreck that by sitting here writing but I’ll find my way.

In other news there is a nerdy convention this weekend. I’m trying to decide if we’re going. It’s also my husband’s birthday on Saturday. He’s into the same stuff I am and I know he wants to go but with my unresolved (and expensive) dental issues we don’t know if it’s feasible to go to this thing. He says we shouldn’t do it just for him. I say we should. Now it’s in my hands. I need to decide soon but I haven’t heard back from the dentist about my insurance and price.

Okay, this is random but some guy just did one of my biggest pet peeves. It ranks up there with people complaining about their spouses to their coworkers, friends and family. I live in Texas, in a biggish hub city surrounded by many farms and ranches. This means there are more trucks on the road than small cars. There are some smaller trucks but I’m talking F150 and bigger.

This guy in an overly large Ford (a 250 I think) pulled into the parking lot here, deliberately taking up several spaces and actually blocking another car. My car. He’s lucky I’m hanging out for a while! I mean come on buddy. I know the truck is big but it can fit in ONE space. Or if his driving is so sucky he could have taken up two spaces further way from the door, where people don’t normally park. He was only here for a few minutes but still, he and his truck are not so important they should have the right to do that. What a dipsh…nevermind.

20160825_101018 I’ll just leave this here.

Okay, rant over. Time to get to work. I’ll post a writing update soon. I hope to have a lot to say!