Wednesday, March 06, 2019

I miss you people

I started blogging, in a way, to improve my mental health (e.g. venting.) And I realized after some turbulent times I probably need to go back to it for that reason...and also I miss you people!

So let's say this...my job is a lot different, but at the same place, so...you guessed it...it's time for a good rant!

I am working on more policy stuff, which I love, but still doing events, which I ... you get the point!

One of these days, I'm going to buy the shirt I've been threatening to make and wear it to my event. And that shirt is going to say one of the following things:

1. "I'm not your Mommy." Seriously. I have to organize shit for hundreds (and in the case of my biggest event, thousands) of people. Don't ask me at the last minute where the venue is. Or if you can have a meal tailored to the South Beach Diet. Or if I can give you a ride from an hour away.

2. "Not my problem." In the vein of "oh, my 10 friends forgot to register - and they're right outside! Can I bring them in?" As my father used to say when we were little, "Would you like your answer loud or soft?"

3. "Here's 50 cents. Call someone who gives a shit." Ok...that one might actually get me fired, but depending on the day, it might be worth it! Case in point today: we get a 1,000 word email (and I am not exaggerating) complaining that the various support groups (which are run by volunteers, and the spaces for which are donated by kind organizations), occasionally change times or locations.

This person wrote, and I quote, "My mother co-founded a rubber stamp club and in 20 years, they only switched church locations where they meet ONE TIME. They STILL meet on the SAME DAY, at the SAME TIME. Why can't you guys do that?"

Hmm...ok. We'll assume that a. None of our volunteers ever need to move, change jobs, retire, or have anything go awry in their life or their loved ones' lives. Or simply move on to something else. Also, do you have a 100-year-lease option for free in multiple spaces around the state?

4. "We're low budget. Very." The beauty of working for a small, grassroots nonprofit and doing fundraising is that you get to put the bulk of the money into programs. The not so beautiful part of being affiliated with a national organization is that people assume we're bigger than we are.
Case in point from last week: "I assumed there would be a van that would be taking people to your event (which is an hour away from where they live."

Why didn't I think of that? In fact, I should plan to take my work limo to the event. Afterwards, we could go sit in the work lounge. Then drive home in the work Batmobile.

So what's new with you?


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What I wanted to say

Dear Tootie,

You are no longer suffering, and for that I am grateful.

I've gone through so many feelings since you left this world Saturday. Grief, relief, rage that you had to go through so much during your 82 years on this planet.

What I should have said to you is what I have only realized in the past few days: you were brave.

You raised five children and catered to a demanding, grumpy, negative, and often demeaning spouse for more than 60 years.

You had one psychotic break and hospitalization after another, one medication failure after another, one that finally worked and had terrible side effects. But you kept going. You didn't give up.

You didn't give up when the rest of the family felt ashamed of you, hid you during your times of illness. They told us you fell down the stairs again and would be in the hospital again. We worried. We finally figured out they were ashamed of something they didn't understand, something that was not your fault.

Yet, later on, you were open about living with bipolar disorder, which affected you so much since you got diagnosed so late.

You were not ashamed. You were strong. You inspired me. I should have said so, and would have said so, but I didn't recognize it until now. I was so focused on being angry at everyone who continued to marginalize you, to fighting for and speaking up for "the cause," that I was blind to what should have been more important.

It takes an exceptionally strong person to persevere when the people who are supposed to care for you most say they "wish you weren't so weird."

You weren't weird to me. You made me sugar cookies when I wanted them on a whim. You took one step at a time with me on the stairs to match my pace, when I was afraid of falling down them. You told me, when I was upset about my mother getting remarried to an awful man, that it was important that you knew how I felt on her wedding day. No one else wanted to validate a 9-year-old, but you did that for me.

In fifth grade, I naively asked you for a red velvet pinafore, not knowing your medication made your hands shake. You still made it for me.

*Ninja edit: Speaking of brave, I just remembered how you chased off a bear from your cabin porch in Minnesota.

You were just five feet tall, but you said you shook a stick at him, and told him not to come back, and he ran off!*

You were the only grandparent I connected with. It isn't an accident that you were the first person I hugged. (Meanwhile, I refused to go sit on my grandfather's lap, telling him, "I don't like you!" What can I say, I was born with good people sense.)

You continue to inspire me not to give up. I have so many more choices than you do. For that I have both gratitude and sadness.

You lived with so much shit you never should have had to live with, and now you are free.

I only wish I had told you how strong you were.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Better

I'm surfacing. 2017 was the most challenging year of my life, and I wanted to thank all of my friends in the blogging community for showing me so much wonderful support.

I want to send a message to anyone out there reading this who lives with depression or suicidal thoughts and tell you it gets better. To all of the survivors, you are stronger than your abusers. Getting well and carrying on and healing is the best revenge. It can be dark and horrendous and it can feel like not waking up again is the only way out, but it does get better. I swear. You do not have to die.

In the meantime, this organization saved my life. My boss allowed me to keep my job and believed I could recover even when I did not, and when a previous therapist wasn't sure. (Incidentally, note to former therapist: thanks for nothing. I'm stubborn and stronger than I thought.)

I'm raising money again this year for an event I'm in charge of in May with renewed focus. We never give up hope on anyone. I thank everyone who did not give up on me. If you feel so moved, I would love to have your support.

More to come - being able to be upright and go to work every day is a blessing, and there is much going on. I'll visit your blogs soon!

Thank you all again. I'm so grateful.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Theft.

I keep apologizing for not posting often when I do post, and then feel bad when I don't post, so here it is: I had a traumatic experience in January that basically stole some of who I am. It's hard to do just the day-to-day stuff. It is a slog sometimes to get out of bed and get to work, go to the grocery store, or what have you.

I'm not sharing this looking for sympathy, but I feel like I need to vent with my thumbs and writing helps. And maybe it will help someone else going through the same thing.

All trauma is hard to talk about. Some types more than others. Having tried everything else I usually do to try to get well, and having nothing work so far, I started doing group therapy. The second meeting involved check ins, and one woman (everyone in the group is female) said she hates it when people tell her how she is - e.g., you're an angel, you're this, you're that - even if it is meant to be a compliment.

And the word that came into my mind was theft. We are all in that group because something was stolen, some part of us, that none of us are sure we can recover.

Some experiences make our brain short circuit. Do a Google search for complex PTSD and see what you think. On the surface, academically, I know this makes sense. I know things take work and effort and time.

Still, my brain acts up. Why can't I do this on my own? Why can't I cast one day and one night aside as a 24 hours, and move on?

It is hard not to give up. That is exactly what my boss told me not to do when I burst into tears talking about this a couple of months ago. He is not a really expressive guy but he said, I know this is frustrating. And I know nothing has worked so far. But keep trying. Don't give up.

I'm trying not to.

#metoo

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Cancer, you're a dick.

Dear Cancer,
Fuck you. With a capital F.
I get that death is the cycle of life. What I do not get is why, despite pouring billions of dollars into research, we can't eradicate you.

I do not get why you keep robbing us of people suddenly and unexpectedly.

I understand that death is a part of life. I do not get why you have to come in and swoop down on those who are just beginning a new part of theirs. Like the fates snipping the thread.

You took someone who spent his entire life providing comfort and a voice for those who are most marginalized. And he planned to do it after retirement, yet you couldn't wait to get your hooks into him.

I am told anger is part of the grief process. I'm fucking angry. I am also sad, because I emailed someone yesterday about meeting whom I will never meet again - at least in this life. Because having watched other two people very close to me die of your filth, slowly and painfully, and having lost others when I was too young to know what was going on, I just feel helpless.

I would never wish you on anyone. But why do you go after the saints among us?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Thanks to strangers

Sorry to be MIA again. Depression sucks, and it's hard to write when you're depressed. I'm sure a lot of writers get that.

We lost two people recently who vastly improved the quality of my life, and, I imagine, countless others. Sheila Michaels single-handedly led the campaign to use an acronym/prefix, Ms., that didn't indicate a woman's marital status. I emailed my dad, who is the first feminist I ever met, her obituary and he replied: "Why haven't I heard of her?"

Like so many others, she was lost to history. I hadn't heard of her, either.

When I was little, I asked my grandmother, "What does 'ms' mean?"
She replied, "That's if you can't decide if you want to be a 'miss' or a 'missus.'" I found that pretty amusing, but then realize now that in her generation, those were the choices. Period, end of story.

Sheila Michaels created a movement nothing short of revolutionary - the idea that a woman had an identity outside of her legalized romantic relationships.

To children's book author Michael Bond I owe much. I read the Paddington Bear books as an adult during a time when my world was so stressful and chaotic that I could only handle reading something light and fluffy - or so I thought. There is a gentle humor in these volumes and a deep emphasis on lasting friendship. And, the idea that you can accidentally flood a house, or cover important papers in marmalade and still be loved is a pretty damn decent one.

A few months after I started reading those books, I was hospitalized for a week. Paddington - a stuffed one - was the only bit of cheer in my room.

The Paddington books create a safe, happy place, one that we can sometimes only find in our imagination.

Distraction can be a lifesaver. I imagine that isn't just the case for me, but for many others.

 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Love and resist

This is going to be a raw post, because the mood here in and around Portland is raw. Bear with me. I have to get this out.

How are you? has become a loaded question. No one here is asking, How was your weekend? Because I live near, and work in, a city where senseless hate claimed two lives and impacted so many others last Friday.

It's not OK. We're not OK. And it feels personal when it happens where you live.

I rarely get angry, but I am angry. Sad, raw, and angry. It takes the White House until Monday morning, and being nagged on social media by a member of Congress and Dan Rather, to respond and say this is wrong? Any previous president in the past couple of decades would be here, meeting with the families and the survivor, calling for unity and condemning the hatred and violence.
Not this one. This one had to be badgered into condemning senseless hatred and violence, and even then, didn't respond personally, but did it in a staff account on Twitter.

This one and his ilk bear responsibility for inciting the hatred and violence that has become a pattern, that has emboldened those want to live in the America of 100 years ago.

What is heartening is the fact that I believe most of us don't want that. We may disagree politically, but most Americans are, I feel, reasonable. We don't think it's OK to shout racial or religious slurs at teenage girls on the train. We don't think it's OK for people to be afraid just because of the color of their skin, how they choose to worship, or who they choose to love.

Some people chimed in immediately, saying this guy must be mentally ill. As someone who lives with major depressive disorder and some other things, I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of the time, people living with mental illness are more likely to be crime victims, not perpetrators.

I saw a great headline from a column: "Racism is not a mental illness."

It is heartening to see the outpouring of love from the community here. More than $1 million has been raised for the families of the victims; more than $20,000 has been raised for the girls, in case they need mental health and/or counseling services. I know I would.

So maybe, as John Lennon says, "Love is the answer."

I say, love and resist.