Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SpotLight on Blogs I Read.

I read Erin's first book (Stolen Innocence) and was blown away. Her second book debuts soon. Go pre-order it and read this post about the second book. While you're at it, check out her blog - it's great.

Erin's first book contains collections of her journal/diary entries. If you think that format is interesting (and I do), check out
Beauty's latest venture with journal entries. Be sure to submit some of your own. I did. Personally I think the reaction will be something like this -

which is a picture I stole from Perfect's blog.

And after all that serious stuff, if you need a laugh, check out Nick's Monday jokes. It's a great way to start your week, or to get over the mid-week hump.

If you want to see some beautiful, thought-provoking pictures - go here to Marj's site and check out her collage art work.

Thank you for taking this tour with Enola's blog.
Please exit to
the right and watch your step. Come back soon.

Being called to Task on Not good enough

Last evening, storms were forecast ed and so our planned pool trip was out. Instead, my husband raced home to mow before it rained. I picked up the kids and headed to the grocery store. We decided to grab a bite to eat at the McDonalds.
Since it was an unexpected trip, I did not have the diaper bag. I also didn't have an ice pack to keep the expressed milk cold while we were shopping.
Instead, I grabbed a diaper and pack of wipes from the "extra stash" I keep in my car, transferred those to the little cooler bag, put the bottles of pumped milk in the little cooler bag and carried it inside. I added some ice from the soda fountain and voila - the milk stayed cold until I got home.
Bugaboo chose our impromptu gathering to blow up his diaper. So off to the bathroom to change him. Didn't have a table cover. So used some paper towels. He screeched a little when I wiped him - guess that pack of wipes on ice was a little cold !! (oops) He then drooled all over himself, and wasn't too neat about eating the yogurt I got him. Of course I did not have baby food or a bib in my "bag of extras."
So we make it home just as the skies open up. Bugaboo is starving - it was his first taste of yogurt so I wouldn't let him have more than a few bites. Husband remarks, "you should keep an extra container of food in the car."
I talked with a friend last night and we were talking about our evenings. She said to me, "Enola you are so organized. I never would have thought about keeping extra diapers and wipes in the car."
My response - "If I were really organized, I would keep the diaper bag packed in the car. Or have food and a spoon in the car. And an extra set of disposable changing table covers."
She laughed and said, "will you ever cut yourself a break? Pat yourself on the back for remembering diapers and wipes, improvising with the ice and move on. You can't be perfect."
She's right. Bugaboo got a clean, dry diaper. Munchkin and I got a laugh at his surprised face with the cold wipes. We laughed harder when we each "just had to" take a cold wipe and put it on our own necks just to see how cold it really was. Bugaboo got to try yogurt and a McDonald's french fry. No one suffered. We all had fun. Grocery shopping is done.
My friend told me to focus more on what I accomplish and to take just a minute to allow myself to bask in the glory of a task completed, before I move on to what I haven't done or should have done. I think she's right.

Monday, July 27, 2009

To "deal with" List

I come back to the same voices in my head, "you're weak," and "get over it," and "why are you so pitiful." I tell myself to "snap out of it," and then I remember something else going on. Something that explains why I'm overwhelmed. A justification, if you will. How can I forget about these things? Oh yeah - because I have to. I have to push them down and deal with them one at a time, lest I become overwhelmed.

So what are these things that I need "tuned up" in T? What is my "to do" or "to deal with" list?

* Medical and Money - we had Bugaboo's birth which was on my old insurance. Met that deductible and out of pocket co-insurance max. Then he was hospitalized at 6 weeks. That was on Husband's insurance so had to meet that deductible and out of pocket co-insurance max. Then Bugaboo had two thyroid tests, the gastro issues and a hip ultrasound. Munchkin had her broken leg, including x-rays. They were all on the new insurance calendar year. We had to get forms filled out that there wasn't any insurance to subrogate too. Then those were lost by the insurance company. Then I had kidney issues on my old (firm) insurance but new calendar year. That required paying COBRA, plus deductible, plus out of pocket co-insurance max. But the actual surgery was on my new (current job) insurance so new deductible and out of pocket co-insurance max. Ugh! Can you say broke and headache? Typically, I'm ultra organized, make the calls, create the piles, make the notes and handle it. But....this time I've thrown up my hands, thrown out the bills, deleted the voice mails from creditors, and ignored it. If I don't acknowledge it, then it's not there. Now I'm in a huge mess.
* Sister - can't think on this one too hard or I get jittery and panicky and shut down. So have to do it in little spurts. The whole thing gets me. Did I know how bad it was and ignore it, or am I just now putting the pieces together? How much of this stuff swirling around in my brain do I need to pluck down and organize into sense? Why didn't I speak up sooner and tell Sister to get out and run with the kids? Should I be supporting her efforts to work on her marriage? Is it none of my 'freakin business?
* Family - who all is contained in this word? Do I add in the four step-now adopted-all into contact- but now ignoring us-kids? What about the one adopted, never met one? What about the may exist-may not one? What about extended family?
* Estate - gotta find out about dad's estate. Blech.
* Dad - still haven't fully processed this one.
* Missing piece - can't keep up with information. It's compartmentalized. How do I get it all together and keep it together. This whole faking that I can differentiate reality from not, is very difficult. Yes I'm looking at you blankly because I can't figure out if I really talked to you, meant to talk to you, talked to you in my head or what the heck happened.
* Bugaboo - he's not doing all that he should. Is this normal? Is he just lazy because Sister gets everything for him? Or is the fact that he's not crawling, rolling over, sitting up on his own, pulling up something to be concerned about? What roll does all the dang meds I took play in this, if any?

The real question - will I come up from the land of Stuffing it and hiding under the covers to deal with things? Stay tuned....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Boiling Point

There has been a lot of stuff bubbling under the surface. I've been stuffing it down as fast as I can but it keeps bubbling up. It hit the boiling point last week. Like steam in a teakettle, it burst out in a loud whistling sound.

I overcame an inner debate of sorts. I just read Lynn's blog and it seems she has had a similar inner conversation. She said it better than me, so I hope she'll forgive the cut and paste -

Teenage Girl - It's just his job. He doesn't really care. Not the way you think. Beside, he's just a therapist. He's faking. That's what they do. They pretend to care about people. He can't give you what you want. That ship's done sailed, honey. He's not your mother. Face it - your mother couldn't love you.

Little Girl - But he really does care about me. I know it's true. I felt it lots of times. I felt it through the body that day in his office when he said it. He said he cares very much about me and I felt the truth. He wasn't lying. He didn't mean just me, he cares about you, too.

So the little voices that speak outside my ears had a conversation like above and I decided to make a final attempt to reach out. I emailed T - not my typical, long-winded, rambling cry for help. Just a "hey haven't heard from you. Want to do coffee sometime?" I had a return message very soon. As I intellectually knew, there is a lot going on with her and some very good reasons for her business. Kept it fairly low key but I did tell her that I thought a "tune up" appointment would be good. And it was good - because my head knows she cares, but my heart doesn't get that message often.

I told my friend Kim, that I'm trying really hard to do something good for me each day - sometimes it's big and sometimes small. Last week was two big things - emailing T and calling the local rape crisis center. Actually the call was a huge thing. They have an adult sexual abuse/rape survivor's group that I've been thinking of checking out. I went to the website and emailed an inquiry. Several days and no response. So I actually picked up the phone and called. That was a huge step. I think this might give me a new healing perspective without actually finding a new T, which upon reflection I really didn't want to do at all.

I also left work at lunch on Friday, and instead of running around, picking up the kids and the other Mommy tasks I usually do, I got my hair cut and colored and took a nap, then out with some friends. That's a little thing, but much needed.

Doing something good for me is like pulling the kettle off the burner for awhile and dialing down the heat - in a safe way. There are other things that turn down the flames to, but they aren't so healthy. There's been some of that too. Mostly to achieve an equilibrium of sorts so I can be in a position to function enough to do something good for myself.

On tap this week - two much needed financial calls - blech. More about those later.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The As - Abuse, Anger, Anguish, Ambivalence, Abandonment & Attachment.

A is for Abuse, Anger, Anguish, Ambivalence, Abandonment and Attachment

(I have major issues with opening up and just talking. People talk about freewriting exercises. I freeze. I do much better with questions and answers. So I’m going to interview myself. Since I talk to myself anyway, maybe this will work.)

Q – Where do you think you are in processing the Abuse.
A – I’ve learned enough through my years in therapy, the books I’ve read, the blogs I’ve perused, the survivor sites I’ve joined and my training & education to know there is something else I’m not putting my finger on. Probably some memories out there floating around or something. Every so often it bugs me. But generally it stays far enough down in the depths that I can safely ignore it. I know there are some depersonalization/dissociation issues to deal with too. But I'm ignoring those too.

Q – How’s the medication, depression, anxiety?
A – The medication is okay. I’m still hungry a lot of the time, so maybe that’s more nursing-related than medication related. The depression is a tad bit better, but still not great. The anxiety is still higher than I’d like. I’d really love to throw some ambien for sleep and some xanax for the anxiety into the mix (says the me who used to despise medication, and still does, except when I don’t have it and then want it). But until I wean Bugaboo, it won’t happen.

Q – How’s the SI urges?
A – Bad. But under somewhat of a control now. ‘Nough said.

Q – So that’s the A for Abuse. What’s the Anger and Anguish?
A – Anger and Anguish are tied in processing my father’s death and the feelings towards his family. There’s some Ambivalence thrown in there too. Some confusion and back and forth see-sawing of things. I’m having trouble processing through that. Also having trouble because my sister and I generally “take turns” being the needy and the strong one. She’s needy now – with her anxiety, marriage issues and things. But I’m needy too and have the “older sibling” issues so I won’t lean on her when she is needy. The feelings keep spilling over into life. I cry a lot more than I used too. And the anger cycle leads to SI urges.

Q – So what is the Attachment and Abandonment?
Ablech. Isn’t our time up?
Q – No.
A – darn. Can I plead the 5th?
Q – Does this have anything to do with why you won’t return to T?
A – Yes.
Q – Tell me more about that (see, even my inner voices have been to enough T sessions and have worked long enough now with social workers that I have the “language” down pat)
A – I tried counseling before I had my daughter. It was okay, but nothing great. No real connection with the T. She let me “drive the boat” too much and so I could steer around anything hard and any deep issues. I got so far as to cut off contact with Toilet when I was pregnant. But didn’t get into any real issues.

Marital issues led me to seek some counseling later and I decided to try someone different. Ran a list of therapists covered by insurance, crossed out the ones I knew or had used in court. That left a few. Called some and went from there. Ended up with T. Did a few marriage sessions, and then some big panic attacks ended up with me in individual counseling. And thus began the road of abuse-related therapy.

T was good. Knew just how to push enough without pushing too hard. So progress was made. One of the biggest keys to progress was the fact that she gave me her email. I’m much, much, much better at writing things out and corresponding by writing. Somehow that turned into IM-ing sometimes and then pretty often as I worked through some really tough stuff. That was a great way to work through things for me. My schedule was crazy and she was kind enough to meet after hours or at other odd times. Sometimes we’d meet for coffee. Made a lot of progress therapy wise. But also felt like I got to know her too. And I know this isn’t something she does with all her clients. It was kind of a unique thing. She told me as much.

I gained great respect for her professional abilities, and those of her practice. So I stepped over my own boundary (that I had set) and began referring some of my clients to her. It was very strange for me. Especially when my husband started seeing her husband and we did group sessions. But it worked well as time went on. And I still send people over there.

The relationship dynamic changed and it became more friends/mentorish and less therapeutic in some ways. It was good but I kept telling myself to hold back. Because surely this wouldn’t continue, right? I mean no one sticks around me more than 2 years.

But………something happened. Not sure what or when. The emails and IM stop. So do the coffee meetings. Maybe it was supposed to work this way? Don’t most Ts build up attachment and then cut the cord? Kind of like parents do with kids? I mean in normal families? See I hate attachment because in my family whenever I got attached to someone, they kicked me in the ass down the street.

T is my mom’s age – a few years younger but same general age. Although her kids are younger so I never think of her as being the same age. But anyway, enough that there are some mom-type issues on my end. So there was a barrier on my side – see female old enough to be my mother and guard goes up. But then I let it down a bit as time went on. And the communication increased. And I did that dreaded A word – Attachment. I began to look forward to visiting and talking, value her advice, seek out advice. You know – things you do with a friend who is older and has more life experience. Someone who you have learned has valuable advice and insight.

So I get pregnant and the counseling part sort of winds down naturally. And stops after I give birth. T visits in the hospital. I also call her in a panic when Bugaboo ends up in the hospital and she comes over immediately and is very supportive. And we email some and talk a few times. Meet for coffee some. I contact her when my father dies. We talk briefly. 5 minutes. And she asks me to call when I decide whether I’m attending the service or not. So I do, but have to leave a message. I email too. And that’s it.

That was over 2 months ago. No return emails. Nothing. Now I know one of her children was in for a visit. Another got married. Her mother is older and has health issues. She’s got a life and family. She doesn’t check email all that often. She has a business to run. She’s busy. She has other clients. And I should get over it? Right. But see there are all these attachment and abandonment issues. And I hate them. And I miss having someone in that role – mom-type role to run through things with and talk too.
So why don't I pick up the stupid phone and call? Or email? Or text? Because.......I can't. That reeks of needy. And then I'm the one pushing things. See, I need someone else to make the first move. Because then they act because they want too - not because I did. Make sense? Oh and what if there is no response? Well just can't go there.

So why don’t I make another T appointment with her? Because I’m not sure how to go back to that strictly T-client relationship. I’m not sure it would work at this point. And I absolutely can not be needy – not me. So what if she thought I was just making an appointment to get back to talking and visiting? Horrors of horrors. Me need someone? Me affected by someone not calling me back? No way.

So while some sessions to work on these recent issues and the resurge of SI would be good. And I know they are objectively a good idea, I can’t do it. And perhaps my continued issues with neediness and control are even further indications that I need to.

Q – does the fact that you struggled writing this for days and weeks, have anything to do with the fact that T knows about this blog and has access?
A – Damn straight skippy. Because now I’ll wonder if she calls whether it is from seeing this or just because she thought of it on her own.

Q – so what are you going to do?
A – nothing. Because I’m stubborn. And I hate rejection, even if it is just perceived or in my head. And because de-nial ain't just a river in Egypt. It's a way of life for me. Stuff it down and move on.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Anniversary to me - and an update

Like Beauty I can't figure out stupid bullets either so you'll have to make due with astericks. Every time I use bullets the spacing is all funky.

* last week was my husband's birthday and our 10 year anniversary. For my husband's birthday, Munchkin wanted to go to a Japanese steakhouse. So we did. That was fun and great food.

* Then this weekend, my in-laws came up. After lunch, Husband and I drove up to the mountains. This is a picture from the car window. Came out blurry but I like it anyway. It kind of looks dark with a hint of color that speaks to hope.

* We rented a "vacation rental by owner" - place. The location was nice. Here is the view out our back deck.

We walked around the downtown shopping area. It was a very upscale, boutique type town. We pretended to be rich and imagined how we would decorate our mountain cabin, main home and lake house. That night we went to a very fancy restaurant. I started off with a glass of wine. We then shared the appetizer sampler - venison, bison, rabbit/rattlesnake sausage and ostrich. We had very good salads and then chose ostrich as our entree since it was our favorite. For dessert we had this chocolate cake which was yummy and I had a godiva chocolate liquer mixed with vanilla vodka drink. One of the best parts was sleeping 8 hours straight. Our back porch had a rock wall (see picture) with a bench underneath. You could turn a switch and release the water which flowed over the rock outcropping, over your head and down into the pool beneath. So it was like sitting behind and underneath a waterfall.

* Munchkin and Bugaboo did great. It is the second time we've left Munchkin overnight (first time was with in-laws when she was 3) and first time ever leaving Bugaboo. They did good. I only cried once missing Bugaboo. He did not sleep for my MIL but she was okay with him being fussy. He definitely missed me because he wanted to nurse non-stop when I returned.

* We have an evaluation pending on Bugaboo. We should get our appointment set soon. He is behind developmentally with his large motor skills. He babbles fine and seems okay with smaller motor skills. But he isn't rolling over back to front, sitting up on his own, bearing weight on his legs, pulling up, standing on own or crawling. I think he may just be lazy. He doesn't have to get anywhere because his big sister gets everything for him. But I need to be sure.


No more SI yet. Just the one incident. Well none of the actual cutting. Still some of the picking and stuff but I'm not worried about that right now. I did buy some bandages and straight razors - after debating myself. But when I did slip, I made my own tool by dissection a shaving razor. I don't want to use it again. Because I need shavers to be "safe" to use for obvious reasons (permanent hair removal not being a financial option!) So now I have my safety, fall back kit and there is some comfort in knowing it is available.

* Some of you emailed me or commented about going back to counseling. But I have some ~personal~ issues with that. Maybe I'll muster up enough to write about them later.
* We returned home to find Munchkin's sunflower bloomed. Whew. Didn't kill it. Got pictures of the bloom. Now I'm safe to complete the project.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Blog Carnival - Freedom to Heal check it out

Mile191, from Come into My Closet hosts the blog carnival HERE . This month it is the Freedom to Heal edition.

Check it out. Mile's format and antecdotes are perfectly tied to the submissions and there are some great ones this month.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All Alone and Left Out

(this was the catalyst for the last post)

I'm the "let's all keep in touch" one. I email. I reach out. I call. In 2001 I received a bonus in the form of being able to use the company time share. I thought carribean first. But, knowing my Nana would probably not live much longer, I arranged to travel to NH. I invited my sister and her family to meet us up there. We had a family reunion, of sorts, and celebrated Nana's birthday. Husband & I stayed a bit longer, and visited more with family. That was really the last contact until Nana died.

When Nana died, all the calls went to Sister. Sister is not one to mince words and she'll call a spade a spade. So she talked harshly about Dad and his behavior at the funeral. I was more "smooth it over" and "don't ruffle feathers." I could tell my aunt didn't really want to hear all the bad stuff. While she didn't support dad's actions, he was her brother. Still, it was Sister that dad focused on and cursed out in his nasty message. It was sister that everyone consoled.

I've gotten a few emails over the years from that side of the family. A few cards. IF I initiate. That is it

No one called me about Dad's death. I left my aunt a message. My Dad's family never called me back to tell me about his death. They called my Sister. My one uncle called is all -- to tell us not to come to the funeral. I've emailed several family members but no responses. My sister has gotten lots of responses - she forwards them to me. My Sister met up with two aunts when they drove down for the funeral - understandable, she is local and I am not.

My step-brothers, Alex and Adam have not emailed me. I've emailed them. No response. They've called Sister. When we met, they were more interested in
keeping up with her. Sort of understood - they knew her more. I emailed them after we returned and invited them to meet up with us for Tgiv. No response.

My Sister has gotten several phone calls from the aunts and uncles. Emails too. She tells me about them. My uncle who called her asked, "now do I need to call Enola or will you talk to her?" Sister said she thought I'd like to hear from him. He did call - a week later.

My aunts email my Sister. On emails I'm not even copied. I wrote a long email to my uncle and attached pictures -- no response. And I thought we had a good relationship. He is the one
I stayed with the summer I lived there. And visited several times when we were up there in 2001. He's emailed Sister though.

So Sister, Alex, Adam and I were chatting about going up to NH. I mentioned I probably couldn't go until next summer. Sister just called me. I invited her down here for a few weeks in August. That way she and the kids can get away. Sister doesn't work in the summer. Kids are off. BIL's room rental is just through July 31st -- then he has to make alternate arrangements. So Sister thought she would take the kids somewhere, let BIL stay in the house, and then he'd move to the house in the city (available then). I asked if she wanted to come here.

Sister just called - she is going to NH. For 2 weeks - over 3 weekends. She asked if I could fly up. (no) She asked if I would be mad or upset if she went. An aunt called her to chat and Sister made arrangements. Aunt asked if she should call me. Sister said I might appreciate it. No call though.

I am not really mad at Sister. I'm upset and hurt that this big reunion is going to go on without me. I'm missing out.

I don't get it. I know Sister is funny and sarcastic and blunt. I like her. So I understand why they'd want to stay in touch with her. But why not me? What did I do? Why do they ask - oh do we have to call Enola?
Is it a chore?

I know a large part of it -- I was distributed to Mom's side in the divorce. Sister was sent to Dad's side. But then I spent the summer up there. I returned to Mom's house though. So maybe they saw that as choosing to go back to Mom. My dad was hurt that I "picked Toilet over him." He saw it as personal. My Sister chose to go live with Dad and then was kicked out. Then Dad reunited with Sister, calling her every day and visiting every weekend. I got to see him 1x and talk maybe once a week. So Dad's side sees Sister as "theirs" and me as choosing mom over dad.

Also, Sister has been open about her struggles and I have not, as much. I just can't. I know they will say, "well why didn't you come live here?" Or "Why didn't you go live with Dad?" Putting me, once again, in the defensive position.

So once again my inability to talk bites me in the ass. Once again I am not the chosen one. Once again every one else is chosen over me. Even though it is my sister chosen this time, and I love her, it still hurts.
I'm the crazy one. The one that didn't press charges. The one that stayed - that didn't leave. The one that "chose" toilet over Dad. The one that had Toilet (not Dad) walk me down the aisle. And sure I could defend myself - but at what cost? And why should I have too?

So, flights are too expensive and no vacation time. Do I borrow to go? Stay home. Insert myself? Not? I hate this. Once again I am --

And left wondering what the hell s wrong with me that no one wants ME?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Back to Zero - screaming without words

From 1 year, 9 months, 29 days of this



(I'd be lying if I said I regretted it - not right now anyway. Right now I'm remember why I started. Because it works. I feel good right now. No more panic. And I know I will sleep well)

Blog Carnival - get your submissions in.

(shamelessly cutting and pasting from Marj's blog)

Freedom to Heal!
The theme for the July Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse is "Freedom to Heal." I'm excited to announce that Mile 191 at Come Into My Closet will be hosting this Friday, July 17. About this carnival edition, Mile 191 says, "I have come to realize that healing is a choice. We have the freedom to move into a better future and to not give even one more moment of our lives to our abusers. We are free from them and have power over our past as we realize that healing is freedom....possible, available....healing is worth fighting for." Wow, Mile 191, I couldn't have said it better myself. Now I just know you are going to be a GREAT host! Hurry, folks! The deadline for Friday's carnival is Wednesday, July 15. You can use the Blog Carnival submission form here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

WARNING - enraged Big Sister ahead

My Sister and her husband have had problems. She can be quite demanding and rigid in her ways. He is very immature and childish. Sister spent many years in therapy for her own issues and they have gone through marriage counseling too. I have seen huge changes (for the better) in her. My husband has observed those changes too.

Despite my sister's maturing ways, BIL hasn't changed much. Just before he left for Iraq, there was a huge incident (I wrote about here). Later, I updated some in this prior blog post.

My Sister decided to use the break while BIL was overseas to re-evaluate herself. She decided to give it one more chance, to give her best and see what happened. BIL came back, was wishy-washy about re-enlisting, ended up re-enlisting, got a job promotion and just finished his 2 year degree. Sister started working at a job with handicapped/developmentally-disabled adults, that has the same schedule as the school so she can be home with the kids when they are off. BIL has some minimal contact with his bio dad, but none really with his mom/steo-dad. Things seemed to be going okay.

Until a few months ago.

Sister has some health issues - namely something called gastroparesis which is an inability of her body to process food effectively. So she is on a liquid diet. It's probably stress related. She finally got back on an anti-depressant and was prescribed ambien as well. It seemed that her health was getting better.

Sister called me awhile back, very upset. Between her difficulty talking about it, my being triggered by some of what she was saying, her being upset - it took awhile to get all the details and there are some that I know I've missed, blocked or haven't absorbed. The long and short of it is that Sister told me that BIL raped her and that she woke up, from an ambien-assisted sleep, to find him "having sex with her." It wasn't the first time she woke up to find him making advances. But it had gone much further than ever before. She also told me about incidences where she was startled awake during a long car ride to find him groping her. Major trigger because of the similarities to Toilet's actions. BIL also would come up and grind against her - major trigger there too. BIL blames it on the fact that his step-dad was very touchy-feely/grabby, and so he didn't know any better.

After the last incident, Sister kicked him out of the bedroom and forced him to sleep on the couch downstairs. She can't take the medication any more for fear of what she will sleep through. She also demanded he seek counseling. He did. The counselor said that BIL had many issues - ADHD, depression, PTSD from the two Iraq deployments, and childhood abuse issues.

Sister was giving it time. When they've visited, BIL has still been on the couch. But the fighting was continuing. BIL has a tendency to lie. About everything and anything. Lies to suit whoever he is talking too. Mostly trivial stuff too. He'll tell Sister he needed money for gas; then she'll find out that the gas station debit was for fast food - not gas. He'll forget to do something as promised and then lie and make up an excuse. He always has excuses too. He promised the kids and my sister that he would not re-enlist in the Guard. Then he found out about this significant signing bonus so he did re-enlist and tried to smooth things over by using part of the money to go to Disney.

Sister laid down some ultimatums. BIL didn't follow through. Didn't complete what he needed for school reimbursement. Didn't return the numerous phone calls to the church pastors and leaders. Didn't follow through on regular counseling appointments. Kept insisting Sister let him back into the bedroom. Didn't understand why she was "carrying a grudge."

BIL continues to minimize things, and describe the incident as "groping." He tried to tell Sister that his counselor told him Sister should have moved forward by now. Sister talked to the counselor (with BIL's permission) and that is not true. Counselor told BIL and Sister that this would take years. Also that BIL has to work on getting help with his issues for himself - not just to get back into the bedroom.

BIL attended church with us while we were up visiting. He was upset because all the men in the church were saying, "he we need to get together." He thinks Sister is talking about him. In reality, Sister is trying to get some of the men to reach out to BIL in hopes he will find some good friends to mentor him and hang out with. He also talked with my husband. He continues to minimize things and say Sister is blowing things out of proportion.

The straw that broke the camels back was one of the pastors telling my Sister that she needed to cut him some slack. Sister explained a bit about what was going on and the pastor back-tracked and had his wife speak with Sister. The wife told Sister that BIL needed to move out for awhile. She had another couple in the church contact Sister/BIL. The other couple separated 1 year ago. They are working on their marriage and the husband was very honest with BIL about what needed to happen if BIL wanted the separation to be temporary.

BIL continues to deny the extent of the issues. He is so focused now on figuring out what he will do on his own. He moved out this morning. He has never lived on his own or managed his own money. I do not know how he will cope. He can't make decisions on his own. He needs to learn how. He is on the self-pity stage.

He also minimizes his fault and blames things on Sister being too "sensitive" because of her "childhood issues." I don't know exactly what happened with the "incident." I think Sister told me but I was dissociative during the details so I can't say for sure. Not sure if it was forced sexual intercourse or "just" (insert sarcasm here) touching without consent. My husband (male that he is) sees a difference. I do not. Apparently BIL does too.

Sister feels guilty. She hates that the kids are upset. She is torn between being honest with the kids and telling them too many details. It's just crappy. I don't want to see marriages fall apart, but I do want to kill BIL.

I'm trying to encourage her to get some counseling for herself. But she says she feels "counseled out" and that she has compromised all she is willing to do. So we'll see how it goes.

In any event this has thrown me for a loop. I keep telling myself to, "suck it up buttercup" and that it "doesn't affect me." But it does. Stepping on some major toes. Not exactly sure why or how, but I just know it is. Guess I'll add it to the "List of things I need to Muster Up Energy to Process and Deal with." That list is getting much longer these days.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Information Overload - family secrets

On one of the days I was on vacation, we all drove over to meet with my step-siblings. Back when my dad re-married, he "inherited" four children. At the time they were aged 3, 10, 13 and 14 (I think). Later he adopted them and their last names were changed. The oldest and the second youngest informed my aunts/uncles that they wanted contact with Sister and I. So we emailed and then met up with them.

Alex is now almost 30. He is a very handsome, tall young man. He is married and has been for 4 years. Adam is 26. He is also tall and handsome. He is married and has been for about 2 years. He's an angry young man.

I can't say that I've made sense of all I learned. It's still meandering around my brain in random order and mayhem. But maybe if I can get it down here in any format, I can make some sense of things. At the very least, I'll have preserved memories before the escape again. So in a somewhat chronological (by time) order, I learned -

  • The three oldest kids have the same father. (contrary to what we'd been told). Rita was married and had 3 kids. Then divorced (he didn't die like we'd been told). Then married again. That guy committed suicide (didn't have cancer like we'd been told). He had huge gambling debts and had bookies after him. The youngest is his child. Two weeks after his death, she met my father. They were engaged very soon thereafter.

  • Rita has many siblings, but no contact with any except one. That one is dead now. She did reunite with her mother just before her mother's death.

  • Rita is hyper-sexual. She has since had a boob job and is now a size DD. She doesn't eat so she is super skinny. I don't know how her tiny frame holds up her chest. We saw pictures dating back years. She has always maintained the bleach blond hair (usually with bad brown roots) and bright red lipstick.

  • Her nickname is shotsie - based on what she does with shot glasses when dancing and/or tending bar. 'Nough said.

  • Even throughout the marriage with dad, she would go on "benders" and go back to bartending.

  • Dad enjoyed showing her off. He enjoyed the attention her looks attracted. But if anyone made a move, he got mad. Rita liked to reciprocate and flirt back. There were lots of fights over this.

  • Rita and Dad thought normal kids' playing was being too rowdy. All the kids were evaluated for ADD/ADHD at some time and medicine was often forced.

  • Adam was hospitalized in a mental ward for 1 week as a young teen. There was nothing wrong with him other than being a normal teenager.

  • The daughter was likely "pimped out" to her mother's boyfriends. She shows many of the mentally ill signs that her mother displays. I wonder how much is mental illness and how much is abuse-aftermath.

  • Rita is definitely bipolar. Likely suffers from multiple personalities/DID. Likes to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, horse tranquilizers, her kids' ritalin and other medications. Her kids say she displays a different personality every minute. I felt a slight tinge of sympathy for her. But she knows she needs her medication and chooses not to take it.

  • Rita does not believe in feeding the kids. The boys talked about not having food. There was a lock on all cabinets and the fridge. Dad and Rita usually ate out. They would often bring leftovers for the daughter but nothing for the boys. Adam eats and eats now. Luckily he has a high metabolism. his wife said their house is like a food warehouse. Adam must have a fully stocked cupboard.
  • The kids recall a time when Sister first moved there and had the "nerve" to request seconds of food. Rita was in her "impress the new kids" mode and gave it to her. All the other kids immediately requested seconds too. Another time soon thereafter, Sister did her usual chores and requested her $10 a week allowance from Dad. The other kids held out their hands too. All of them immediately walked to the neighborhood deli store and bought food to hoard in their room.

  • The two oldest boys were taught a "work ethic." They worked like slaves on the farm. They topped trees, drove fence posts, etc. There was no time for school work - just slave labor work.

  • Dad often "got into fights" with the boys. Alex described it as fist fighting. Adam described it as a beating, which his mother watched and cheered Dad on, saying "go get them."

  • The daughter was a spoiled princess - when she wasn't being "pimped out."

  • The youngest was spoiled. He was the son Dad never had. He was 3 when Dad and Rita married. He was never taught a work ethic and given everything. He has no marketable skills and is floundering now.

  • Alex was kicked out two days after turning 18. When he protested, his mother called the cops and he was taken away in a police car. The cops told Alex there was nothing they could do.

  • The daughter was kicked out at 18 too. She's married but getting a divorce.

  • Rita's sister and husband died in a murder/suicide. Their three kids moved in with Dad/Rita. The one son disappeared. The kids' think he went into a psych ward or juvenile detention. The daughter was placed in charge of feeding the horses on the back acreage. She didn't feed them and many starved to death. My dad was supposedly kicked out in 2002 (during their split) for hitting the girl in response to discovering the malnourished horses. When Dad came back, the two kids were placed into foster care.

  • Dad and Rita took a "break" in 2002. This is when Dad briefly reconciled with Sister and I. Seven days later, Rita started dating her divorce attorney. She announced he was moving in. Adam put his foot down and said "no" to his mother. He was kicked out of the house at age 14. He lived with friends for a few years.

  • Dad kept in touch with the boys after they were kicked out. But he always maintained loyalty to Rita.

  • We saw pictures. Pictures of Dad at the daughter's wedding. Pictures of Dad with the youngest. We brought pictures with us, of Dad growing up and with us as kids. Both boys remarked, "wow he was happy then. Look how happy he looks."

We learned the true story of Dad's death. He was at the house preparing for the upcoming funeral of Rita's mother. They would have to drive a few hours for the service which was set the next week. (what is it with my family and waiting awhile before burials?). He took the car in to have new tires put on. He started weaving and hit a tree. The crash is not what killed him. He apparently had a stroke while driving. Alex got a call from a state trooper saying there was an accident but it wasn't bad. Alex called his mother and she said it wasn't bad and to just stay at work. After work, Alex called and his mom said, "don't go to the hospital." Alex went anyway. Then went to his mother's house. He said Dad was on tubes and they learned that the brain stem had severed - so he was brain dead. Alex wanted his mom to turn off the machines. They argued but set a date to turn off everything the next day or two. Dad died before then on his own. I find it interesting that Rita wasn't there in the hospital with Dad.

Rita is somewhat disabled - suffering the injury of the month. She gets these parasites, injuries, whatever, very frequently. She has many explanations, none of which match up or make sense. The kids think she is living off the insurance proceeds. They are not sure about a will or any other information. She is being helped by a friend of my dad. Husband #5 maybe? Or is it 6?

None of the kids knew what happened to Sister and I. Just that we left. They were not allowed to ask about us.

Alex was the oldest of his "crew." He is most like me - the pacifier. Make peace with everyone. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. He sees his mom when necessary and thinks he can "handle her." He does all this to keep the peace with the family. He has some of the same denial tendencies I do. He finds security in his "stuff" and his house. He has a ton of "toys" but doesn't use them often.

Adam is the angry one. Most like my sister. Very direct and says it like it is. Sees the ugly and isn't afraid to talk about it. Doesn't gloss over things. He takes security in order and control. He does not want children at all - afraid to be a parent.

Both are married to extremely nice women. Alex's wife comes from normal family. Adam's wife comes from a dysfunctional family.

We met Alex and his wife at the graveyard. Then drove back to his house. It is impressive. Huge and very nice. He lives at the end of the dead end street where Rita still lives. That was a bit nerve-wracking, being that close.

One interesting fact I learned is that I may have yet another sibling. My dad was married before my mom. I knew that. They divorced. What I didn't know is that the wife was pregnant at the time of divorce. Dad wanted to stay together for the child. The Wife said she had an abortion but it is widely believed that she did not. So I may have an older sibling out there somewhere.

It was old talking with the boys. I remember Dad as this controlling tyrant. They remember him as the meek one, overruled by their mother. They enjoyed the one-on-one time with Dad. Like Sister and I, they found him very different when alone, than when he was with others.

I don't know what to do with all this info. My sister is jumping head on into a relationship with the boys. I'm more hesitant. The boys want to go to the lake with us and want to go this year. Well, Alex does. He craves that family bond. Adam is more hesitant. They loved the aunts and uncles. I delayed the trip till next summer. I want to see how this plays out for awhile. But we did invite them to my sister's for thanksgiving. I think a family meal and holiday might be something we all need.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The House of Horrors Revisited

This is where I grew up from the summer before 7th grade until I fled to college.

On the trip to my sister's for the 4th we took a road trip. We drove down to see my step-brother. I will try to tell this coherently but it's still a whirling mess in my brain.

On the drive down, we drove by my old stomping grounds. I was appalled at the distances my mom had let me walk - alone - at night. This is the house where most of the evil took place.

It has changed. The cedar wood siding was replaced with vinyl. The windows have been updated. The door was replaced. The window by my bedroom is the same. You can see where the station wagon used to park - oil stains still.

I shivered as we drove by, but also realized it was just a house.

We drove on to my father's grave. My step-brother told us that there had been problems with the ground sinking in the rain. Until that was fixed, no gravestone could be erected. He told us it was the fresh grave in the back. Sister and I walked toward the back of the graveyard and saw a new gravesite with flowers and a heart-shaped, red, white & blue hanging basket. We talked about the fact that it meant Rita must have been there for the 4th of July already. We walked around to see pictures and the wasn't him. It was someone else. We looked further and there it was.

No flowers. No pictures. The marker is a cut-out from the funeral home webpage. It is on a funeral home marker. The funeral home must have put it there.

Father's Day was just a few weeks ago. Graves of other fathers are covered in flowers and momentos. His grave - nothing.

Sister and I felt a bit bad about not brining flowers. So we picked a few from the church gardens. My nephew and daughter stuck them in the grave dirt in rows. We met my step-brother and his wife there. Alex didn't even look at the grave much. One of the kids stepped in the dirt and Sister and I moved to grab them. Alex said, "ah don't worry about it." He didn't have much attachment to the site.

Sister and I thought about leaving a picture of us on the site as a message to Rita that we had been there. We decided not to though - because we didn't have one of the two of us with us.

Sister and I reminisced about what her husband had told Dad in their last phone conversation back in 2002. BIL told Dad, "you are going to die a cold, lonely man. When you are dead and in the grave, there will be no one to mourn you. You will die alone." And he did.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Off on a Trip & Update

We are leaving in a few hours to visit my sister. It will be fun. Lots of laughs, junk food and playing with the kids.

While there we will have a private small memorial service for my father. Two of his adopted children will meet us at the gravesite. We will then go to one's house to hang out a bit and catch up. Should be interesting. I've not seen them in almost 17 years. In emails thy have alluded to their mother being "crazy" and "off her meds" and "psycho." According to one of the boys, Rita (dad's wife) does not know we are coming or even that we have spoken to them. We plan to keep it that way.

I had my annual physical last week. All seems well but the zoloft makes me ravenously hungry. The anxiety is also getting pretty intense. I've had some major panic attacks recently. I spoke to the doctor and she switched my meds to lexapro. The switch is going okay. I get dizzy but not sure if that is due to panic attacks or the med switch. I'm hoping this will help with my depression too - it's definitely not at a level that is good and seems to be worsening.

Baby also had his 9 month check. The doctor had some concerns about his gross motor skills. He doesn't roll back to front. He doesn't sit up on his own, although if I sit him up, he can stay sitting up. He doesn't bear weight on his legs. Doesn't pull up. Doesn't crawl. Doesn't push up on his arms if he is on his tummy. We're doing some exercises with him. I just learned a church friend specializes in this area so I have an email in to her to see if she'll just take a look at him. This has hit me with quiet resignation. Chalk it up under "I deserve anything bad that happens like this" thoughts.

Work is crazy. Husband's work laid off several but so far he seems safe. My job just announced furlough days. We will have two linked with holidays - an extra day without pay. We'll also have two other days to take as we want (without pay). It could be far worse.

So that's all that's new. I'm off to catch a few hours before we hit the road. Driving at night works well with the kids. Have a wonderful 4th of July.