Try, learn, and do better

I really must learn to stay off social media.

Found a FB post from my eldest bro. He left a comment on his own page – not tagged to me, not sent to me – saying ‘happy birthday to my little sister even tho ya don’t give a fuck about yer American family’.

Do not want to admit it, but my heart is beating damned fast right now. And my angry replies are bubbling to the forefront – “listen, you sexist racist bigoted mother fucker…”.

Wish crap like that didn’t affect me. At all. Wish I could have seen it and coolly just moved on. Still want to defend myself, lash out, blame, make them SEE. Since I know going direct to the source is a waste of my time, I came out here. To be safe. To say what I needed to say.

Ow.

Odd how, even knowing what a piece of shit I’m dealing with, I let it affect me. I guess that’s programming at its basest level.

Here is my flaw: I want too much to be loved. And I’ve been made to feel that it’s my fault that I don’t get what I want from my family. They were never wrong. They ARE never wrong. It’s me. My fault for wanting, my fault for feeling, my fault for thinking and hoping.

I have met strangers who were kinder to me than you. People who wanted nothing from me, and gave me everything. And you dare to call me family? You dare to approach me with guilt and shame, bullying and controlling tactics? You hurt me, I walk away, and I am accused non-stop of being a child, being wrong, being whatever it is you call me in the depths of your oh-so-perverted mind. Fuck you ’til the end of time. I hate you. With every fiber of my being, I hate what you are, what you stand for. Your ignorance, your total disregard for anyone other than yourself, your fixation on money, money, money, your blatant LACK of caring on the most basic of levels. You have no right to shame me, you piece of shit.

…My oldest brother will die before hearing from me. That’s his punishment. And maybe some people think I’ve no right to mete out my own punishment. Maybe that’s even true. But I’m tired of waiting for the Universe or some Goddess to make things right. I don’t want to strike out; that will be detrimental to my own psyche and THAT is what I’m concentrating on. Not him or his “feelings”. I’ve no time for the latent incest-ridden fantasies my eldest brother holds.

And yeah, that shows a distinct lack of character on my part. I’ve witnessed people stand in the midst of an emotional storm and keep their balance. It can be done. Those that have done it have earned great respect from me. They’ve shown me what can be done, if you stay centered and grounded. I want to be like that. To be able to have my say, take the backlash, smile sadly and turn away without hurting anyone.

I ain’t got enough drugs to make that happen.

So I protect myself and everyone else by staying silent. I say nothing, again.

You know…I should at least give myself credit for having the strength to do that. To walk away, rather than engage.

Good. on. me.

In 20 minutes, I need to begin verb conjugation. Write out the irregular verbs. Again. Try to mash them into my brain one more time. I will get this. I will get this!! Try, make mistakes, learn, do it better next time. That’s the level I’m reduced to. No grand schemes, no lofty goals. Just try, learn, and do better.

Yep. That’s a good motto for today.

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The spread of my mind

The spread that takes over the dining room table as I work on Dutch is immense. Homework, two dictionaries, past sheets on verbs and grammatical rules I’ve collected, and a large language book that often references exactly what I need when I need it. I can rarely get thru a sentence without turning to at least one of these tools to check a definition, spelling, or conjugation. It’s a pain to haul it all out, set it all up. Even more of a pain to work that way, tossing one book to the side for another, scribbling down two words at a time, and consulting so much I sometimes forget what the hell I’m working on.

Does not help that the other day I couldn’t remember how to spell “could” in English. It didn’t look correct to me, and I sat and pondered why the hell there was an ‘L’ in it in the first place. I realized the three famous rhyming English words – could, should, would – are strange animals in language. They imply shame. You could have done more. You should have done more. This wouldn’t have happened but for this or that. They are nags over the past, blame throwers. They imply things would have been much nicer if only this screw-up hadn’t occurred.

I think a lot can be learned from languages. Not just communication, but culture. It’s the idioms that give it away. Growing up with only one language, one communication style…you get blinded to it. Or maybe I was just ignorant of it right up to the point I began working on Dutch.

American English uses ‘look’ a lot rather than ‘listen’. They mean ‘listen’: look, I didn’t want to be the one to tell you this… or look, we’ll be okay. When you take a step away from it, it sounds funny. It literally makes no sense to use ‘look’. But American culture (if there is such a thing) places value on speed. Get it done and get it done quickly. Their use of ‘look’ rather than ‘listen’ emphasizes that. Your eyes can take in far more than your ear can in the same amount of time. So, looking is quicker than listening, ergo, look. They ask you to understand it instantly. They do not want to waste time convincing you or debating the merits of their statement. They want comprehension. NOW. Similarly, in American English you ‘run the risk’, while in Dutch, you ‘walk the risk’. The difference is speed. Americans do everything faster.

Speed is not an indicator of value.

I was weaned on ‘could, should, would’. Weaned on speed. Do more, go faster, be better, work, work, WORK, you damned workhorse! And honestly, I don’t know my limits. I go until I become such a raging bitch I grow unbearable to be around.

I have never gone ’til I drop. I don’t where that limit is.

That…haunts me. Feeling like I have more in me, if only I could (there’s that word again!) control myself.

Here it is Sunday, and I have not yet begun my writing that’s due on Monday. Too many hours fiddling with homework sentences, conjugating verbs and trying to learn every single word. I feel behind, yet I know that (so far) every week I’ve been the only one in class to hand in every single bit of homework every time. My brother thinks my teachers are searching for my limits. They want to know how much is too much. I want to be Miss Polly Perfect, so I’m sweating. More time, every day. No time for English. No time for my scripts.

I feel myself nearing that anger edge, which is where I don’t want to go. Keep me busy, keep me challenged – yes. But drive me mad? No.

And here’s the crunch: I know that if I work hard now to capture this, it’ll be easier. Right now I spend about an hour of my time on every sheet of homework. Give me 8-10 sheets, and there’s my regular work rotation every day. Add into that writing stories and memorizing irregular verbs and you’re encroaching on ME time. Oh, and I’m forgetting reading. I’m supposed to be reading, too. But…if I was doing this in English, I wouldn’t spend even half that time on it. And I want to get there with Dutch. So either I work hard now, or keep struggling.

My American side is screaming for quick fix. Some leap-frog pill or hypnosis trick that’ll get me over this hump. Bought some fish from the vendor outside for dinner last night. Listened to a conversation in Dutch. Heard SO many words from my homework – recognized them immediately. But I still struggled with the meaning. My head was three steps behind – oh, that word…what does that mean again?

How do I get myself to learn?

Pure repetition is a recipe for madness. As is more work. I’ve got to get it into my writing. Pick up a verb and use it, in all its forms. Maybe I’ll ask my teachers for some of that. Or maybe I’ll just start to do it.

Thinking I might abandon my written homework this week in favor of my little story. It’s not really on target subject-wise, but the object of our written homework is to get us writing, and it IS writing. Plus…it’s what I want to write. If my teachers give me leeway on subject matter, they won’t be able to stop me writing. That is, when I have an idea. I don’t expect that of me every week. I think it’s the one area of my life I’ve managed to totally eliminate the ‘could, should, would’. It’s impossible – even for me – to come up with decent story material every week.

Once again, I find my comfort in the written word. Doesn’t matter these days if it’s English or Dutch.

I can slow down to tell my stories.

It’s the spread of my mind.

The tracks of my tears

Around noon yesterday I headed to the toilet and saw in the mirror some dark, wet splashes on my T-shirt. Didn’t know until that moment that I’d been crying. I continued to cry…hot, heavy tears that literally leaked out of my eyes.

I was mourning the death of my dreams.

Step back: yesterday I had my one-one-one language lesson. Or should I say I sat in one a one-on-one conversation. The other student showed up, having been told that she didn’t have to pay for the lesson. I had to pay or I’d get kicked out. She gets a free ride. A bit of reverse discrimination that doesn’t sit well with me. It was obvious my teacher preferred talking to the other student. So little was said to me that I actually didn’t even have to be present or try to weave coherent sentences together for answers. And I heard two things. One, I need to calm down. Two, everyone is bloody well convinced I’m a fucking genius and with that conviction comes the expectation for me to do more.

Nothing – and I mean nothing – could have sent me back into 17 year old mode me like that. It’s not something I expected or was even aware of. It was my tears that tipped me off: I’ve been triggered, and I’ve got something going on.

This burden I feel to do more, be more, simply because I catch on quickly or register high on an IQ test is overwhelming. Making mistakes isn’t good enough: I’m too smart for that. Doing average isn’t good enough: I’m too smart for that. Doing only what’s expected of me isn’t good enough: I’m capable of more because I’m so fucking smart.

Oh fuck you fuck you fuck you!

Constant nagging. Constant expectations – and constant disappointment in those around me when they judge I haven’t lived up to their expectations.

I. hate. it.

It was like a memory bell going off in my head – aha! Yes! Now I remember. Now I remember why. And thoughts of teachers mingled with memories of my mother, and I heard echoes of those terrible words: You can’t. You can’t keep writing in English and master Dutch. You can’t be an actress or a musician because you’re too smart. You can’t do what you love because. Because.

I was told I need to establish boundaries. Yeah, says my brain, if I was capable of establishing boundaries I doubt I would count the rapes I experienced as three. Three times I’ve been violated. Plus the guy who liked to hit me, the stalker, and so much other sexual harassment and lack of boundary issues that it’s bloody well evident to ME that I have a real problem saying “no”.

And my heart and chest felt full. Congested, like your nose feels when you’ve got a cold. I found it difficult to take a deep breath. The full force of that terrible day – the day my mother quashed my dreams – came back to me. I felt every bit of me break. And finally the word I have so much trouble saying came screaming out at me in full lit-up neon letters:

NO!

You want boundaries? Here it is – and if you try and cross it again I’ll rip your goddamn arms out of their sockets.

…And why do other people need boundaries? Don’t they know how fucking rude they are? How wrong it is to harass, harangue, belittle, scold, or shame another person? Have other people NO empathy whatsoever?

Did I not say I was a writer? Did I not make it clear how necessary this is to me? Did you not see my face light up and my eyes glow as I spoke of my work? Did you not grasp that this is my reason for living?

*scoff* Put it aside! Like that’s gonna happen.

Ended up talking to my bro, getting it out of me. Went to the gym and burned hard; passed the 2km mark at 15 minutes. Spent the evening quietly, soothing my brain every time this issue resurfaced (and boy, did it resurface!).

What’s really bugging me is this insistent belief I have that I can do it all. Write my plays in English like a madwoman and turn around and ace Dutch. I’ve just been easy on myself. Lazy. I can do more. And the truth is, I can do more. I have, many times in the past. But…I also become a raging lunatic. Crazed. Angry all the time because I’m always doing something I have to do, or feel obligated to do, or shamed into doing, rather than doing what I want to do.

I mean…who’s life is this, anyway?

In the midst of all this desire to achieve, I’m in real danger of losing site of my main goal: happiness. I want to master Dutch. I want to write plays. I want to get in better shape. Goals aplenty; I’ve never had problems with that. But drive me too much, work me too hard, and I forget the basic axiom: be happy. I consider it a personality fault. A weakness. I’ve seen other people do more with less. Though, to be honest, I can’t speak as to their level of happiness.

All I’m really left with is a desperate wish that people would stop telling me how smart they think I am.

Stop expecting so much from me. Why is it you can be delighted with the offerings of morons, yet look on my contributions and efforts with a ‘eh, you could have done better’ attitude? Don’t I deserve a little cheerleading?

Don’t you see how much work I put in to look so smart?

…This is nothing I asked for. I was born with it. And, like so many of us, I pay the price for what I was born with every damned day of my life. And. it. sucks.

That much is evident in the tracks of my tears.

Dead from the belly-button both ways

Your brain isn’t broken. It’s not! It’s impossible, so just stop saying it.

Do not know how long I worked on Dutch yesterday. I can tell you I began before my brother came out for breakfast, and finished just before dinner. Several times walking away in there; I kept telling myself I’d done enough, stop, take a break. I’d get up, walk away for half an hour…then come back and do more. Couldn’t stop. Don’t know if it was guilt from not doing enough last week or just stubbornness.

And I looked up every word I didn’t know. Wrestled with every sentence to fully understand the little turns of phrase. I even bloody well wrote my little story for next week, keeping it short, keeping it simple, and doing my best at every turn to use our current homework words.

Determined to make notes on what my instructor tells me today, but not necessarily change my answers. Last week she let four mistakes slip by her. She’s not infallible, and unless I really understand her corrections I’m not making them. Better to learn from my mistakes than give a wrong answer she told me to write down – that just frustrates the hell out of me, because I have no justifications or logic behind my answer other than ‘my instructor told me that was right’, which is NO justification at all.

I DID take the time to read part three of my thriller trilogy. Just enjoyed it. Think I want to expand one scene, add a bit to it and give one character a few more lines. Other than that, it’s ready to go. It’s tense and creepy (just what I wanted) and other than having to buy a prop gun for the finale, it doesn’t call for much in the way of props.

Also took the time to walk my agenda out. Gotta light a fire under my ass. Time is slipping away from me. To make my commitment to the group and present them with a finished draft of the trilogy, I’ll have to write non-stop over Xmas. So, this weekend I have to start correcting Taman. Can’t put it off any longer. Need it done and off the system so I can move on.

Trying to stop saying ‘I’m doing my best’. I’m always doing my best, but it’s beginning to sound like an excuse. I’m one of those people who always did well at whatever she tackled, so it’s difficult for me to accept my errors and mistakes. Trying to make sure I always AM doing my best: putting in the time and doing as much as I can without driving myself insane. Or making myself ill.

Feels like I have very little me time. Which is silly, because everything I do I do for me, but… I guess I’ve grown accustomed to having ample time to sit and think. About stories, about the news, about my past, about life. That’s the time that’s disappearing. While I agree I need a balance – time to think AND things to do – I don’t know where that balance is. And let’s face it: I tend to overdo things. Exercise? I have to go run myself into the ground. Dutch? I want to master everything overnight. Writing? Days lost in a concentrative trance. I don’t do things on a small level. So I’m naturally worried about overload. That side of me that bites and growls, that side of me that people stare at…

And there’s my problem. I lost in for a short time in Monday’s class, and one of the instructors shot me that look. If you’re a person who loses it on occasion, I’m sure you know the look I’m talking about. That startled deer in the headlights gaze: frozen in surprise, with just a hint of fear showing somewhere around the eyes.

I have made an oath to not do that kind of thing a million times. And a million times, I’ve broken that oath.

That’s what’s bugging me. I did it again. (Can you smell the blame?)

Fuck.

Maybe I do need medication. Lately… Let’s just say I’ve had this small stream of people’s facial reactions run in a loop in my brain. Those startled looks I get, all piled up, one after the other. I feel wrong. It’s my fault. My fault that I do it, my fault that I’m too fucking chicken shit to go thru the whole process and find a medication that works for me. And I just think, you really never feel this way? It’s hard for me to grasp. No. Not just hard; impossible. I can’t imagine it. Can’t imagine being so balanced, so calm, so together that I never lose it.

Where’s the bloody passion? It just makes me want to grab people and shake them. Shake them and shake them and shake them until their eyeballs fall out of their sockets. Feel something, damn it! React! Wake the fuck up!

I realize a society based on passionate people would be very chaotic. But sometimes it feels like I’m the only person awake on this planet. Everybody else is asleep. Busy in their little worlds, with their little dreams. They see but don’t see, hear but don’t hear, care but don’t care. And while I can blissfully experience that kind of distraction while obsessing over something like my work, I cannot fathom being there 24/7.

To quote my dad, you’re all dead from the belly-button both ways.

I’ll take the stars

Well. I took my time off right to the edge. Don’t think I could have sat around on my ass for another hour without going ballistic. Headed to the gym, ready to kill anyone in my way or myself if no easy victim showed up between home and there. Did not hold back – couldn’t hold back. Impressed myself with my iron stomach muscles, easily lifting both legs off the floor and holding for a count of 10. Impressed myself again on the cross trainer, blowing thru an 8 minute kilometer and topping 3.7 km at 30 minutes. And then the free weights – DAMN, girl! Is that muscle I see in your arms? Lift, lift, pant, think about the meaning of life, lift, pant some more.

I’m going back for more today.

My rheumatologist is happy. My condition is stable, and my joints show no signs of decay since my last x-rays. Yippee. Even said I could try to take the methotrexate down if I felt up to it. Assured her that although my hair loss continues, I know I can’t go without these drugs – and if I do go bald, I’m tattooing my entire head. Got that gold star I always want from someone plastered on my forehead: good on me for exercising, good on me for weight loss, good on me for doing so much. I needed that.

Upset with myself. Realize I’ve got a mother-thing going with one of my teachers. They gave us a spot check test just before class ended – those pesky irregular verbs. Oh, the look of disappointment that crossed my teacher’s face when I didn’t get the answer correct! And the gut wrenching hit of guilt that washed over me – I didn’t do enough, I didn’t try hard enough, I’m not good enough or smart enough or – … That shit has got to stop. Right here and now. I am NOT learning Dutch from a mother substitute. I refuse. For the last 36 hours I’ve been telling myself I’m doing what I can, when I can. I’m learning faster and faster, more and more. I’ll get it. I’ll get it. But Gods! It feels like one of my old nightmares. I get surrounded by these huge, disappointed faces (in my head; I’m not actually surrounded by monster faces – tho mentally, that’s the picture I have). I feel small, ashamed, and trapped. It’s not a good combination. Working to shrink those disappointed faces down to mini-size. Being as triggered as I am, it’s a real challenge.

Bolstering myself up with my newly grown confidence in my English writing. Think I’ll take time – this morning, while it’s quiet – to read part three. Haven’t had the time to do so since I banged out the first draft. I’m already reviewing it in my head, making mental notes of changes to add. But I want to just experience it, front to end, without interruption. How well did I capture what I see?

Had a good, long, hearty laugh yesterday. Was talking to my bro (big surprise) about social situations. We’ve both got our problems. Mentioned my lack of filters, how I can’t stop blurting out these deep truths. My brother laughed, and said ‘What do you expect? You learned your social skills from an agoraphobe.’ Yeah. Dad was very anti-social. More than six people in a room and he got real nervous. As a kid, I didn’t realize this. I knew Dad was less social than my mother. But he didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 and we had tickets to a show downtown that I realized Dad had problems in public situations. He became more and more wound up the further into the city we drove. He was tense, angry, swearing a lot. After the show was even worse: the crowd let out, and I thought Dad was going to have an heart attack. And Dad…he said whatever was on his mind. I grew up thinking politics, religion, and sex were good to go topics at a dinner table. Had a lot of missteps with friends and acquaintances. Still do. Dad welcomed my input, welcomed me to these cultural and philosophical debates. Even, I think, wanted me to speak my mind. Why was that? Now that I think about it, why did he do that? I’m replaying memories in my head right now, and I see him encouraging me to lay out a sound argument. Back up my statements with facts. I don’t remember him acting that way with anyone else in the family. My oldest brother would say something in support of what Dad said. He’d get a nod, maybe an additional exclamation. My sister would add in her two cents: generally a snide comment, again in support of my father’s statement. And then Dad would look at me. Challenge me with his eyes. Say it, his eyes would plead. Bring out your views. Tell me how wrong I am. As I grew older, these debates would get hotter. My logic improved, my access to facts to back up my statements was wider, and I think I was cutting too close to the center at times.

Did my father think that at some point I’d change? That money would change me? Or was that part of the original challenge I read in his eyes: can you stay true to who you are right now for your entire life? Can you hold onto your innocence, your faith, your dreams, in the face of everything life has to throw at you?

In the end, Dad was very clear about what he wanted for me. I want you to be happy, he said. Over and over. Not rich, not famous, not thin, not smart, not skilled, not useful, but happy. I know happiness is a mode of travel, not a destination. I can look at life with stars in my eyes or a sour pussed expression that will ruin everything before I even touch it.

I’ll take the stars.

I’m not gonna stop

*sigh* Where do I even start?

I got the contract copy from the theatre group. There it was, number 4 under the clauses: absolutely no videos, filming, audio recordings or any other recordings of any kind ever under threat of absolute torture. Iron clad, clear as a bell. It also stated it was the theatre group’s responsibility to add that notice on all public displays, playbills, and advertising – which they didn’t do. They also didn’t adhere to the two shows listed in the contract; they ponied up two more shows on there without admitting to them. That’s the group’s karma, frankly – and I added in that note to show that no, they’re not exactly on the up-and-up.

But the video clause was a problem. Because my bro has been putting in around 50 hours this week trying to compress audio tracks, clean things up, make things visible, and put titles on everything he spent three days filming and talking about getting out to the public (and not one of the theatre board members bothered to correct him at any time). And I – I got to tell him. Tell him that all his work was for nothing. Gee, thanks you sat up babysitting your computer for half the night while it tried to process these vids. Thanks you listened and re-listened and brought down all the coughs and sneezes and interruptions so you can hear the dialogue, which you compressed several times to get the best sound you could. But you can’t release them to the public.

Did not go down well in brother land. I had to hear loads of bad comments on the group, their abilities, and them as people. I had to hear about all the time and work and effort. I had to hear about how his attitude was now ‘Fuck them; I’m not sharing any of it. They’ve got the rough footage. They can look at that. They don’t get to see my work and take it for granted – not when they couldn’t even say hi to me.’ He rounded out his tirade with ultimatums – he’ll never put that time in again, never film them again, never come multiple nights again, never again put up with everything he felt he had to put up with. I think I heard ‘never’ at least a dozen times.

And I made the mistake of teasing the group with upcoming vids. Now I have to explain. Again.

I do not like making excuses for my brother. I do not like tempering his words and anger into a palatable message for the world. It puts a lot of stress on me.

On the other hand, I sure as FUCK don’t want him around the group anymore. Not with that attitude, and not with his life-long ability to hold a grudge.

I still want to use these people to get my work out. Yes! Maybe for the first time in my life I have a slight ‘hidden agenda’ – though, to be honest, I’ve made no secret of it. Because I’m not someone who can go into a situation like this, pretend to have some fun – pretend to enjoy myself – while really not liking any of it, but sticking it out because I want something from the people involved. I’ve tried. Tried to be underhanded and sly. I can’t do it. Just like I can’t sell something I don’t believe in. Tried.

I have to come from a place of honesty.

Took me over an hour after my bro left the house before I could fashion a short reply to the original message. I didn’t want to just say ‘okay’. I wanted to let them know about the work my brother’s done – all the time he spent for no reason because they didn’t make a public announcement. All that time lost. I did make mention of it, but it wasn’t really acknowledged in return. No ‘gee, sorry he spent so much time’ or anything. Just a small justification, and a rather cryptic repeat of ‘we can share it amongst ourselves’, which I take to mean he’d like to see the vids my brother put in over a week of his own time working on. Thing is, they have the raw footage. They don’t need to see what my brother’s done.

So, here I am. Facing my brother’s anger, which is righteous and just; he should have been informed. Facing this idiotic and unthinking response from the group, who seem to expect stuff to just be done for them. And me in the middle. Soothe my brother as well as I can, be empathetic and understanding because I’ve stood in his shoes. Explain to the group as well as I can, be gentle and kind because I don’t want to ruin the possibility of working with them in future.

And keep them well apart.

Which throws a real wrench into the thriller trilogy. Oh, I had grandiose plans to use everything at my disposal! The sounds were going to be many, and richly layered. Now…Now I’m looking at taking it all down to the minimum. Stripping it as far as I can, so my brother is involved as little as possible. Even thinking about just doing the sound myself. It would take longer, and be a big burden on me because I’m just not as fast or as competent as my brother at engineering, but I could do it.

Telling myself maybe it’s a good thing. I was creating something I was capable of doing…but not everyone could do it. This should create a script more people can do. I hope.

Still, I’m sad. Sad because now I must curtail all my communications with my bro. Not mention the group, or the thriller, or any of it, because it’ll set him off.

And I’m sad because my brother won’t be as involved as I wanted him to be.

I like working with him.

But I’m not gonna stop.

Choice

Yesterday, I chose to care about myself. Just a little bit.

Hauled back two heavy bags of groceries late morning. Noticed my ankle hurt a wee bit with every step. Didn’t matter how careful I was, how I placed my foot – when I stepped, there was an edge of pain. I was all fired up to go to the gym, to push, to not care. Dare I say it? To hurt myself. But the reality of that bit of pain with each step weighed on me. I sat in my bedroom, a large bandage in my hand all ready to wrap that damned ankle up, and suddenly my bad mood telescoped out into the future. I saw myself hurting my ankle – badly. Saw the weeks, the months down. Saw the just sitting there feeling like a fucking idiot on a thousand levels. And some quiet voice in me spoke up and asked, ‘Do you really want to risk sitting around and going even deeper into this for months due to injury?’

It was hard to say no. Because I wanted to hurt myself. That’s my thing: go to the gym and push my body until it breaks. And I suddenly realized it wasn’t about health or endurance, it wasn’t even about getting some endorphins going so my mood improved. It was about punishing myself.

Hating myself.

Self-flagellation comes in all forms.

Acceptance of the moment, my reasons, my self-hate, was the key to opening my mouth. I’d not said much to my brother up to that point; still in a hissy fit. But once I stopped and accepted what was going on with me, I communicated. And I found it easy to avoid angry communication. In fact, it wasn’t even part of the equation. My anger left me as soon as I realized what I was doing. I had no need to harangue my bro over his SIM game. He enjoys it; why should I spoil that for him? And I found no reason to nag about the housework, either. It never really takes that long to tidy up. No. I admitted to my bad mood, my twisted anger, my desire to hurt myself – and all that surface shit just slid away.

So I did not go to the gym, despite my angry ‘no matter what’ declaration yesterday. And I learned something. Thought it was only exercise that would release my anger in this fashion. But it isn’t. If I can get to the core issue and admit it, I can let it go without all the sweat and effort. That’s a big IF. Everest height. And it’s not a mountain I care to scale too often. I suppose I shouldn’t say that. It should be my goal to handle my mood swings in such a manner, right? Find the cause, accept it, move on. No acting out, no mad blog writing at 5 a.m. But I am comfortable with my old methods, with the exercise push and mad writing, the slamming of doors and gut-churning anger. …How utterly sad to say that. I’m fucking used to such horrors.

…I’m fucking used to being such a horror.

Ah! I was going to say I see my sister in all this – the acting out, the hissy fits, the slamming doors. I do see it, and I do hate it. But I also realize now what’s probably at the base of my sister’s actions. Self-hate. Makes me have a drop of empathy for her this morning.

Could we just stop with the epiphanies? Just for a little while? This hyper awareness…I welcome new levels of understanding, but hey! You’ve got to give me time to digest one bit of info before shoveling a new load into my head. Feels like there’s just too much to grasp, too much to know, and as soon as I get a hold of one idea something else loosens and gets away from me…

It’s like learning Dutch. If I concentrate on the correct verb and sentence structure, I’ll get the verb tense wrong. If I think too much about the verb tense, I’ll screw up the syntax. I can’t seem to hold all that info in my brain at once. I know it’s a matter of practice. Go slow, go steady, and keep trying.

But although I suffer embarrassment over my poor language use, I do not have to go through emotional turbulence over every little word. Setting out to change the way I think…now that’s difficult. I get triggered left and right, have to stop and sort myself out, fight against the depression, reign in the mania…it’s bloody exhausting. There’s no manual out there for this, no instruction booklet to make things easy. What I would give for a big Book of Life with easy to read chapters and answers in the back!

For now, I’m choosing to care about me. It’s not a choice I’m comfortable with. Not. at. all. But I am more afraid of months down, unable to get out or do much of anything, than I am of carrying some extra weight on my body or feeling guilty from missing a day at the gym. Until I can take a step without pain, I’m choosing to be careful. Choosing to not push. Choosing to not hurt myself.

I can do this. I can learn to take care of myself.

It’s a choice.

Coloring outside the lines

The saddest thing in the world may be the moment when someone you depend on lets you down. Doesn’t have to be a big let down. Just a casual comment, said out of haste or distraction. Sometimes those are the worst. Because you know they’re said out of haste or distraction; in other words, this was the first thing that popped into their heads. It’s kind of snapshot of what they think of you.

What happened? Teacher give you a hard time?

No, that’s not something from my past. That was said to me yesterday, by my almost all supporting brother. And while I understand he had things on his mind, etc. etc., I’m having a hard time getting past the childlike aspect of it. Thinking I’m upset because someone ‘gave me a hard time’ – like a child who can’t “handle” the real world. Oh, poor baby. Teacher gave yoo a hawd time. Boo hoo! Crwy. Crwy like a widdle baby.

Or is that just me?

Seriously. I’d like to know.

Not sure why so many people think everyone is just well prepped and mentally able to deal with anything that fucking comes their way. Aging body? Why are you panicking? It happens to everyone. Yeah, but this is the first time for me. Then there are eye rolls and sighs, because damn! Don’t you have enough human empathy to imagine what getting old was like? Everyone has gone thru this. What, you think you’re unique or special? There’s nothing unique or special about you, never was. You stupid, worthless woman.

Yeah. Yeah, I guess I am stupid and worthless ’cause no, I can’t fucking imagine it correctly. And I’m a fucking writer. But there’s always a gap between imagination and reality, and if YOU don’t fucking know that, you’re a moron. And let me tell YOU something, bee-yitch – if I’m stupid and you’re a moron, I’m still smarter than you, so I win. Fuck off.

Anyone know the number of a good exorcist? I think my sister’s hateful soul has somehow landed in my body.

…So I did not talk to my brother about what was up with me. His head was full of rehearsing, and he was rushed, and, to tell the truth, I feel like he didn’t give a fuck. He just wanted me to be quiet so he could continue playing his stupid SIM game on his fucking phone. That’s what he does almost all day long. I came back after close to five hours. Were the dishes done? No. Was anything picked up, rinsed, even moved since I left? No. I came back, upset, a long day behind me filled with anxiety, to a dirty sink and a dirty kitchen without ONE fucking thing changed from when I left the fucking house. And HE was playing his fucking SIM game, in his room, as usual. Then it was that casual, belittling comment. Not a good head space for me.

Do I expect the world to stop turning when I’m upset? Do I expect everyone to drop everything so that I can get some comfort? …I’d like to say no to that, but I’ve been told I act like that’s what I expect. I suppose it could be viewed that way…when I’m upset I generally want to try to talk it out. Try to feel better, somehow. Sorry my problems aren’t any of your concern. Sorry you feel so fucking put out listening to my fucking anxiety issues. Sorry I don’t want to wrap my head around your fucking SIM game parameters. I don’t give a shit about your team, your buildings, your fake sales. I’m involved in REAL life here. Get it? REAL life.

That’s angry, and defensive. …Gee, I wonder why.

Swollen ankle or not, I’m going to the gym. Rain or not, I’m going. Cold or not, I’m going. I’m fucking going and I’m fucking burning this out. Don’t give a fuck if I break my goddamn fucking ankle right now, I’m burning this the fuck out the ONLY way I know how.

Fuck everybody, and everything.

And I know I gotta get past this. Walk into Thursday’s read thru with even a HINT of this shit on my mind and I’ll lose it. It will not go well. My defenses will be up too high, everything will sound wrong and predatory to me, and I’ll end up in tears or screaming or both.

*sigh*

Pull it together. We get thru this one foot in front of the other. One step at a time. One word at a time. One moment at a time. Stop looking to tomorrow for trouble. It might never happen; we could die today.

Should I be concerned that last bit seems to be a glimmer of hope? Is it wrong for me to think of death as something good, something that releases me from this cycle of up and down, happy and sad, manic and depressed? I don’t want to die. I just want this shit to stop. Let me – allow me, please! – more than 48 hours feeling good about myself.

But you can’t ask permission for that. You can’t beg for self-worth. You’ve got to claw for it, every single minute of every single day. Hold it close, keep it warm, remind yourself you’ve got it.

So, here’s what you got:

Words. You got words. Words you use well, words you’re learning to use well. Words in two languages. Use them. Write. You know how to do that. Let it loose. Spill it, baby. Spill it all over the page. Make ’em cry. Make ’em think. This is your gift, and your weapon. Use it.

And stop following all the rules. Life doesn’t have rules. You’ve just made them up, or allowed someone else to make them up for you.

It’s time to start coloring outside the lines.

Keep on rock ‘n me, baby

This morning I hit the unfriend button on FB. Unfriended my uncle. Still half on the fence with the whole idea, but I can’t shake the truth that if anyone other than a family member did to me what he did, I’d read him the riot act. Sharing DNA doesn’t allow people to treat you like dirt. So after much deliberation and a lot of anxiety, unfriend it was.

I’m worried about the backlash. The demands to know why I did it, the endless denials and accusations, the being told I’m wrong over and over. Do not know how much I’ll take before I…blow up? Finally get angry? Tell them to fuck off? Report them for bullying and abuse? Any or all of the above. That frightens me, too. So far I’ve dealt with this very level headed. I don’t want to lose it now. More; I don’t want to give them one iota more of anything they can use against me. Losing it is definitely one of those things they’ll use against me.

Found myself thinking the other day that if, when I die, my mother appears to me, waiting to guide me to the other side, I’ll grab her fucking hand and DRAG the bitch to Hell. And if that means I’m stuck in Hell for all eternity, well, as long as I know she’s getting HERS, I’ll deal. Can’t be all that much worse than living here.

Now, that’s a sad fucking thought, isn’t it?

Fuck! I’m screwed up.

…Having a difficult time getting myself motivated. Maybe I finally took the word ‘holiday’ in its entirety. You know – REAL time off. Gym time, writing, reading – even running my lines for memory’s sake has become a chore, a non-emergency, something I can do tomorrow or the day after. For my own peace of mind, I’ve allowed it. I know what I can do when I am motivated; no need to push it if I’m not. One more performance to stay healthy for. One more run thru of the play to do. Focus!

But something’s cooking. I hope my inner eye is focusing on the thrillers. I think it is. I’ve begun pacing again, talking aloud to myself, sorting out ideas. The task of taking my ideas to paper seems monumental, but that’s my lack of motivation. I’m sorting. Thinking. Plotting. Getting that film of the story to run seamlessly in my mind.

Been talking aloud to myself a LOT lately, actually. About all sorts of things. Part of that is my brother’s schedule: he’s out more and more with band rehearsals and other stuff, leaving me alone in the house. Part of it is just ME. It’s what I do, what I’ve always done. I think I give myself comfort this way. I think it helps for me to hear with my ears all those words of support I tell myself. After all, that’s why I think I began it in the first place – to allow my ears to hear those words no one ever said to me. You’re beautiful. You’re talented. You’re brilliant. In talking to myself, I can be brutally honest without fear of being ridiculed. I can be supportive without strings; my self talk doesn’t hinge on me acquiescing to political views or moral stances I find abhorrent. And I feel it, down to my toes. It’s mother-me comforting child-me.

Same reason why I rock while seated. It’s a comfort motion. My torso moves for and aft, back and forth, rhythmically, like I’m rocking a baby. I am rocking a baby: me. I’m telling myself I’m okay, I’m safe, and I can take care of myself.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to give myself what I need. It’s healthy, in fact. I’m embarrassed by what I do: the rocking and the talking aloud. Embarrassed a LOT. Part of me is afraid it looks insane, and I know what happens when THAT line of thought occurs to someone. Everything that comes after gets discounted, no matter how on the mark or true it is. Part of me is just plain ashamed of myself: here I am, 50+, and still trying to comfort that crying little girl in me. I should be beyond this. Over it. Able to let it go, and get on with my life.

I shouldn’t feel so fucking stuck.

But I do, and saying I shouldn’t is just one more way for me to reinforce that blame and guilt instilled in me as a child. It’s all your fault. If you were better/stronger/smarter, you wouldn’t be here.

Oh, yeah. It’s lovely having a war of confidence go on in your head 24/7.

I always feel so naked when my confidence is shaken. So the worm, wriggling in the mud. Nothing. Contemptible in my lowliness. It is what’s allowed physical abuse into my life: hit me, I deserve it and worse. That’s a mindset I have to fight against every day because no matter how long it’s been since I was in an abusive relationship, I still think that way. I still hate myself that much. I still think that little of myself.

Rock. Or smoke. Or do anything other than think about what you just wrote.

Ugly truths are like scabs. I can’t help but pick at them. And it hurts. Another way to hurt myself…

Run. Hide. Deny. Distract.

But truth will out. Even in my distractions. I know the music I’m including in this is a ‘love’ song. But flip it to me talking to me-the-child – because that’s the way I’m hearing it this morning.

Keep on rock ‘n me, baby.

Six Easy Steps to Stopping a Narcissist Cold

October 16, 2:05 p.m. (my time)…That’s the last time I received a comment from my uncle on the play notification I posted on FB. Almost two entire days of silence. This morning, of course, there was an email in my mail. One of his mass sends to friends and family. The email was a picture of a patch – one of those embroidered things people put on their shirts and jackets to make them feel important (like a Boy Scout). The pic was two buzzards, with the caption ‘patience my ass – I’m gonna kill something’, and I can’t help but feel I had at least a little to do with the level of frustration and anger it reveals. Side note: my DNA sister was the first to respond to my uncle’s email, posting a laughing meme back (her communication style is exactly the same as his, so no big surprise there).

The following is the conversation in full. I’m copying it here to make sure I don’t lose my words, because this is one of those RARE times I actually shut up the narcissists in my family by turning the tables on them, and I want to remember it.

uncle: I imagine this will be funny…..sorry, I won”t be in that area then. LOL

me: What’s so funny that you put ‘LOL’? You didn’t make a joke.

uncle: K-, Yes I did….when I said, I won’t be in that area then. That was my joke.

me: Oh. But you don’t live in the area. In fact, you live on the other side of the world – a fact I know. So…where’s the joke?

uncle: you need another cup of coffee Ms. !

me: What does my caffeine level have to do with our discussion? And why are you trying to change the subject and blame me for your poor “joke”? A joke is supposed to be amusing – yet your original statement, “I won’t be in that area then” isn’t amusing, it’s simply a fact. There’s no cause for laughter. No cause unless you feel uncomfortable for some reason. Shifting attention to my caffeine intake is simply a distraction from your discomfort. Why are you uncomfortable? ..Plus, get it right. I live in Rotterdam, not Amsterdam.

uncle: I was hoping some caffeine would wake you up and you would see my joke…;.clearly you have seen my joke all along. And….I won’t br in Rotterdam to see the show either.

me: Actually, I don’t see your joke at all – which is why I queried you in the first place. However, if you’re referring to me noticing your discomfort, yes, I did see that. It’s pretty obvious. I also noticed you continue to sidestep my question: why are you so uncomfortable?

uncle:  I’m not uncomfortable…..just made a joke about the show sounds good but I won’t be in the area to see it. I thought it was a funny comment.

me: Well, we already established it wasn’t a joke. You didn’t say anything unexpected or funny even tho you keep insisting you did. So you’re either uncomfortable for some reason, or the LOL isn’t actually because there’s a joke in your statement, but because you’re making it into a joke. Returning to the stage is important to me. Why do you feel the need to make it into a joke? I don’t understand. Please explain.


Since asking him to explain himself, he’s been silent (other than the patch email today). Hallelujah! I called him out on it and didn’t let him get away with SHIT. Notice how I turned things on him? Needling him with the idea that he was uncomfortable? That was deliberate. I wanted to wind him up on that point, knowing it wasn’t on the mark, so he’d admit he wasn’t uncomfortable – which led him straight to the point I was making: he was being a bully. There was nothing funny about his comment; he was belittling me. Note: he didn’t like my post about the upcoming production. He just made his ‘joke’. And the fact that, half way through the conversation when he realized I was getting the upper hand, he had to make ANOTHER joke just showed that yes, his goal was to belittle me. That joke was all about ‘you’re not even worth replying to; I won’t answer you directly, just make a silly joke with you the butt of it’. The last few sentences are the real corker: Returning to the stage is important to me. Why do you feel the need to make it into a joke? I don’t understand. Please explain. Straight up statement: you’re making fun of me; why? Explain yourself.

Oh, how I made him run!

Distilled down, here it is:

  1. Destroy their first statement. This isn’t true because… Stay calm, and state the facts.
  2. Explain how, if their first statement isn’t true, then the following must be what’s really going on. This is where the turn happens. We already established it wasn’t a joke. So you’re either uncomfortable for some reason, or the LOL isn’t actually because there’s a joke in your statement, but because you’re making it into a joke.
  3. Push the alternative you know isn’t true. Why are you so uncomfortable?
  4. Make them admit the false alternative is false.
  5. Point out that the only thing left is precisely what they don’t want to admit to: they’re being an asshole. Don’t say asshole. Don’t accuse them of being mean. Again, turn it. This is important to me. Why do you feel the need to belittle it?
  6. Ask them to explain themselves.

The sheer I wanna get up and do a jig JOY I feel over mastering one conversation with a family member!! If only someone had told me it was THIS easy to shut them up!

Six easy steps to stopping a narcissist cold.