Blogging With Expectations That Will Only Disappoint You

So very true.

So very true.

Some bloggers don’t last very long in this cyber world. They write a post or two, set up the About Me page then disappear forever. Sometimes, it is clear they left because their expectations were never something that could be achieved, by themselves or anyone. They become defeated, rejected, and defensive and quit.

I think some personalities were designed to absolutely thrive in the blog communities. People who are interested in how life looks through other people’s eyes, for one. People who like to read. People who are fanatically surfing the internet day and night, ever in the pursuit of knowledge. People who can’t sit still.  People who like writing. People with crazy curious brains that have never yet found a subject that was too random or too boring to google. Also, all me.

I’ve had about three thousand different hobbies throughout my 45 years here on the earth, and not blog adviceone of them made it a whole month. I’ve tried knitting, painting, sketching, pottery, embroidery, woodworking, and leather crafts. FAILED at all of them. My mother was a writer and my father is a sculptor/painter. The desire to create is in my DNA, and yet I was worse than just bad at all of it. I’d tried writing as a teenager, and staring at an electric typewriter was just depressing. When my youngest daughter sold a painting to a gallery when she was a pre-teen, I had to settle with the thought that even if that talent had skipped me altogether, I still had given birth to kids with a lot of talent themselves. That sucked for me though. I have never even once lived vicariously through my kids, and their achievements have always been their own, and not mine at all.

blog picI accidentally found this hobby when I found myself waiting for days for my tweaker husband to come out of the spare bedroom he would lock himself in to for days at a time. I was worried, hurt, and needing something to take my mind off of it. One evening, I ran across a blog my sister had set up and wrote in. I’d never even heard of a blog before, much less knew any of my family kept one. I set one up for myself, and the rest is history. I’ve finally found something creative that I don’t suck at. Yay!

This blogging hobby has been bumping along for me over two years now, and shows no sign of boring me yet.

I ran across a fairly new blogger’s site where she was wondering how bloggers felt when they missed one of their follower’s new posts, and basically, deal with disappointing their new “friends”. I remember feeling exactly like that when I first started, and I have to laugh at how I was forced to change my expectations for my blog before I was driven crazy by disappointing all of those people who have been so loyal and kind to me.

I’m not ashamed to admit that when I first set up my blog, I was afraid no one would like me or

blogging isn't this gentle

blogging isn’t this gentle

anything I wrote. I felt fairly confident I could guilt my kids into reading it, but even then, my kids aren’t at all easy to manipulate into doing anything they don’t want to. Still,I’m just low budget enough to try.

I wrote and wrote for a whole week. Not only did not one person “like” a post or “follow” my site, but all three of my kids didn’t either. That was pretty humbling. Feeling a bit miffed, I didn’t answer any of my progeny’s phone calls for two days. Schmucks. Then, out of boredom, I started going through the stuff on my dashboard, and came across an option to keep my site private so no one could find it. Guess who had set up a private site? Yep. That would be me.

Please note: It did not, however, explain the three brats I gave life to who knew full well I’d set that sucker up and wanted them to read it. They hadn’t even tried to find the thing, all three claiming to have been too busy….yada, yada. I dealt with that lack of loyalty swiftly and firmly…. :-)

I made the site public, and tried to boost my self-esteem up enough to handle the rejection that I would feel if someone never showed up. Ten minutes later, I had my first follower!! I danced around the room, and even called Chef at work… because I’m a total geek who does actually dance around like a lunatic over trivial crap. Then I spent the rest of the day cyber-stalking the little guy who wrote a tiny blog about men’s fashion and had two followers — me and himself. I wrote a comment about how I liked his site and how the clothes he was writing about were cool. I wear the same blue jeans and t-shirts daily until they literally fall off of my body, and I was married to a Bandido who wears blue jeans and leather when he dresses up. What do I know about fashion, especially men’s? Still, I made the effort because of my gratitude. He never once answered back, and then disappeared from the internet completely.  I scared the little guy away.

I got a few followers every few days or so, and lots of comments, but I was unable to understand hamburgerexactly why most of them liked anything I was writing, or how they seemed to be completely misunderstanding the point of anything I was writing. Their sites explored subjects like travelling, tech tips, and in one case, pornography when I was successful at finding one, but most of them couldn’t be found when I clicked on their link. I was happy to not look like a total loser, but I had a suspicion something less desirable was going on here. That’s how I learned about spam, and also how I might have known that if I had read even the barest of instructions. When the confusion had been cleared up, I had maybe four comments from real people.

I removed all traces of my dorkness from the blog, and connected it to my Facebook account, and I found people from my life, both past and present, interested in what I was saying. That went a long way to helping me feel better about risking my entire self-image. The growth after that probably had more to do with me flipping out so publicly about my marriage falling to pieces, along with all the harsh reasons why. Also, people can’t help finding drunk posts fascinating. I fascinated people that way more than once.

People who could relate found me, and I looked for them. That’s how blogs grow organically. You share your experiences with people who can relate, and they share theirs with you.

I tried valiantly to keep up with everyone’s blogs, but between being dumped, drunk, homeless, and pissed, the time just was not there to keep up. I spent marathon days visiting hundreds of sites, and finally I threw up my hands in defeat, and announced my inability to do more than try to make it around once in a while. I felt bad, but what could I do? I quickly found out that people were very understanding and not as quick to feel rejected as I had feared they would.

I also found out something I don’t think people know about when they first start out. Blogging is a very successful way for writers to launch writing careers. It acts as a testing ground, sharpens writing skills, and publishers will often consider an unpublished author’s work if a large base readership has already been established. This is why often you find your site is getting a ton of new followers, but you never see any of those people back again. And this is why I always follow someone back when they follow me. Breaking into writing isn’t easy, and I’m happy to help the little bit I can.

loser (1)The unspoken rule of blogging is that if someone follows your site, you follow theirs. I’m pretty sure this goes without saying, but I still will, no human being on the earth that has a site with 2300 followers keeps up with all of those sites. It isn’t personal, it’s impossible.

I have a few blogs of people that I like their writing or I know personally that I read regularly. I go through my reader and read as many post titles as I can, and often click interesting ones that make me curious. I comment occasionally, but not always. It has nothing to do with arrogance, and everything to do with physics. Many, many of you are clearly much better writers than I am, have better topics, and are seriously on your way up to the top of your craft. And it is likely I just haven’t found you yet, despite being one of your followers. I’m thinking I have the same thing going on around here, as well.

A common problem I’ve run into with some bloggers is that they try to please everyone else. Blogs are great for practicing your skill at writing. They are not good for determining how awesome you are.

Trial and error has taught me that using “followers” or “likes” to gauge your worth instead of a method to improve your writing skills,  is the internet’s equivalent of a popularity contest. The cool kids are cool because their confidence in themselves attracts others who want some of that in their own lives, but multitudes of people who think you are cool doesn’t prove you are, in fact, actually a cool person. You are the one who has to decide that, and then don’t spend that much time worrying that other people might disagree. People are fickle, usually under-informed, and diverse. And that includes every human on the planet, including myself.  No one is ever going to capture a 100% vote by their fellow human beings. Approval is nice, but don’t make too much of it. It comes and it goes. Be someone that you can like and respect. That will go a lot further in your life than anyone else’s opinion.

Writing for some people, like me, is something I do more for myself more than anyone else. I’ve got issues, and this is cheap therapy. I like to interact with others who like the same things, or have the same experiences,  and I feel honored by people who keep coming back, or take some time to show they care. I want to help people if I can. I am building a writing career myself, and blogging has helped me develop better writing skills and build a fan base. Blogging has been good for me.

fine.jpgBut I also know that me, my life, my ways of dealing with stuff, aren’t for everyone, and that means nothing at all in the great scheme of things, and certainly has no impact on my own self-esteem in the least. It simply has no impact on my opinion of my worth as a person. There is a huge list of things I suck at in a spectacular way, but that doesn’t mean I’m worthless or dull. It means I can’t do some stuff other people can. Nothing more, and nothing less.

You should decide who you are, and work to become what you would like to be. We all have the ability to strive to be someone we can be comfortable with in public, and most of us are still working on ourselves. Your blog should be something that helps you with that, not a meter of how likable you are to others. If it makes you happy, and you like it, that is about all that anyone has the right to expect from their personal blogs. Odds are, there are plenty of people that will like it, and you, as well, eventually.

~ Bird

 

The Devil Made Him Do It

50-tremendous-grunge-for-your-desktop-noupeRecently, I went back and re-examined one of my posts, Satan’s Favorite Drug Ever – Meth. It is by far the most viewed piece on this site, and a glance at my analytics shows most of the traffic I’m getting these days are people looking for answers about drug addictions either in their own lives or in the lives of their loved ones. This is a big difference from the once reigning The Ministry of Mike Warnke and 3 Boobs, because neither of those pieces can really help or hurt someone reading them. I feel differently about the meth piece because when I wrote it, I was in the throes of a lot of pain, not having found some emotional stability yet from the crushing blow of losing a lot of things in my life I really cared about. Since I remember how desperately I looked for help on-line, I feel some responsibility to not steer others in the same predicaments in the wrong direction.

I stand by most of it, but the clarity of some time and healing makes me want to caution about some of the things I was doing when I wrote that piece.

  • Don’t Hide Things Until It’s Too Late For Anyone To Help

It blows my mind just how illogical things are when you go through something like this. When my husband photo (3)became a drug addict, it took me months to tell anyone. Instead of going to certain friends I can trust for some help and direction, I let things build up to insurmountable heights. By the time I knew I needed help, things were so bad, and I was in such a panic, I looked like a raving lunatic. I believe it was hard for my friends to understand why I was flipping out. As far as they knew, this had all just begun to happen. They didn’t know I’d been sitting on this time bomb for six months.

I tried to change my husband myself. The crazy thing is my sole motivation for doing this was so that he wouldn’t be embarrassed.

Embarrassed?!! After it was all said and done, the amount of humiliation he and I both suffered is immeasurable. One of the true regrets I have is not asking for help until things got too bad. Addictions never form overnight. They seize a person slowly, gradually, and the hold is never so evident until the person actually does try to stop. Chef tried several times to quit, but it was too powerful by that time. When I finally asked for help, there was nothing anyone could do.

  • The Devil Made Him Do It

iloveafoolThe second thing I would like to address is the obvious reluctance I had to hold Chef accountable for his own actions. I am a Christian, and I believe with my whole heart that satan made an appearance in my life through all of this. But Chef was the sole captain of our ship-wrecked lives.

Infidelity is a weird thing to experience. Even though I had been betrayed by this one person I trusted the most in this world, I had a really hard time launching my full anger at him. It is always easier to blame anyone and everyone else, because love doesn’t take bloom in seconds, and it certainly doesn’t die in seconds either. I’d never even once had my heart broken, and I was ill-prepared for just how much it hurt, and how long it took for me to accept that Chef had chosen to break that trust, and blaming satan wasn’t going to help him.

Satan presents us all with opportunities, but we ultimately are the ones who choose to accept the shit he relationshipoffers us. In my case, I found a pattern I’d fallen into for decades with Chef. Anytime he’d do something really hurtful, I’d play down his responsibility for it, and accept part of the blame for things I really had no control over, or blame the devil. I’m not afraid of being wrong, so I helped teach Chef  all these years that he could always depend on me to make him feel a little better about what he’d done because we could blame satan, or I could see where maybe I’d done something that made him stumble. This is not a good thing for any wife to fall into. Even to this very day, Chef is struggling with accepting the full brunt of his own actions without trying to lay at least a little of the blame on those in his life he hurt the most. We do no one any favors sugar-coating the truth. No one held a gun to Chef’s head and made him pick up drugs again, and not even the devil can be blamed for his decisions.

  • Advice Is Nice, But Therapy Is Quicker

cropped-ocean.jpgI’ve been dating a man we’ll call Simon for a while now. Before I launch into this part, let me say this — this has been an on-again, off-again thing, I never dated anyone else when I was with him,  and I don’t write much about him because he’s part of my life that I protect fiercely as my own. I had a little sniping argument with Chef one evening where he tried to make me jealous, so I changed my relationship status on Facebook in retaliation (because sometimes I can be petty and spiteful myself) and People Went Nuts. Yikes!! I don’t know if I should be flattered so many of you care, or insulted that so many of you thought I couldn’t land me another guy. :-) I’m going to choose the be flattered. I also would like to note for the record, I learned a very valuable lesson about cans of worms and unforeseen consequences, as well.

Ok. Back to the story at hand.

 

Sometimes, you just have to let it all go. Some things aren't worth saving.

Sometimes, you just have to let it all go. Some things aren’t worth saving.

For months after I left Chef, I found myself interacting with him daily anyways. I would call him pathetically hoping he’d have some magic words that would fix all of this pain he’d caused. I lived for every text, despaired over every day my phone wouldn’t ring, and hoped for his knock on my door, and cry, cry, cry every time he’d let me down, which was every, single time. Even though he’d moved the girlfriend into our home, gave her my clothes and jewelry, and made a mockery of everything I loved, I still seemed unable to be angry at him specifically. It was easier to be pissed at the girlfriend, the motorcycle club, the drug dealers, the devil…but not him. I was stuck in this tar-ridden hell for months, until Simon started to help me break free of these very codependent actions.

During that time, I had a whole little army of people who loved me and wanted to help me get through this, including my children. My son Dj would sit and listen to me for hours, and he would point my thoughts to Bekkie's Favoritethe good things about his dad, which actually wouldn’t help me much. It made what I’d lost feel so much harder. Rebekkah refused to talk about any of it, so I knew I couldn’t even mention his name around her. Weirdly, that made me want to talk about him more. My youngest daughter, Caitlyn, hadn’t really been around for much of any of it, being stationed in Japan, and she tried helping me by shaming me into being stronger. I promise you, that is a really, really bad tactic. No one stops doing anything because of shame. It just makes you feel worse while you’re doing it. At the heart of all three kids, though, was a genuine desire to help me.

sad girlI had friends, too, who tried one or all of these tactics on me as well, and it was pretty obvious, I was emotionally stuck. Then Simon came along, and he did the very best thing that could be done for me at that time. He just listened. He didn’t try to fix any of it. He let me be angry when I wanted to be angry. He let me cry when I wanted to cry. He waited patiently when I shoved him away and he was kind to me even when I’d taken something out on him because of Chef. He didn’t side with me, per se, or join in when I was verbally tearing Chef to pieces; nor did he defend Chef even when it was obvious I wasn’t being fair.

Basically, he listened to me sort through how I felt about all of it all by myself. He couldn’t have known that while I was attacking Chef, I’d be the first one to defend him should someone else attack him. He couldn’t have known that had he risen to my defense, I would have felt pathetic and weak, and wouldn’t be at all happy for the help. He only expressed confidence that I would find my way out of all of this eventually, and assured me that I had every right to find all of this very hard to handle. He expressed the logical opinion that any person who’d lived their entire adult life with one person is going to be codependent to some degree, and that wasn’t something to be ashamed of. I wasn’t sick or weak, I was wounded. There was no shame in having loved someone as much as I had.

I think God personally dropped Simon in my life right at the moment I needed someone like that in order listening with birdto begin healing. On my best days, I’m not a very easy person to even get to know, and people misread me daily. During the whole separation process, even I was surprised at some of my own reactions, and I really couldn’t have guessed what any of them would be from moment to moment. I needed someone to have a little faith in me, and to let me figure it out alone.

If I was to ever re-write Satan’s Favorite Drug, I would want to blame satan less, emphasize that it’s okay if it takes you awhile to accept that the person you love bears the lion’s share of the responsibility for the pain you are experiencing, and to encourage people to ask for help the minute something like this makes an appearance in your life. Not so that you can rescue the person you love from the clutches of addiction, but to set up for yourself a support system for the flood of destruction that you will soon find yourself in the midst of.

That being said, I also would want to emphasize caution about taking to heart everyone’s advice. Most of what truly good-motivated friends were telling me didn’t work for me at all, and in some cases, it even set me back a bit. Simon did what most people go into therapy for…he just listened. Good motives don’t always equal good advice.

  • Appreciation For The Experience

love-rupture-broken-heart-even-shines-with-loveI went through all the stages of grief, but I’ve found something else lately. I’ve moved past the acceptance, and I can honestly say I now have a true appreciation for the whole experience. I’ve come out of it all a different person, but not a worse one. Yes. Knowing what I know now, I’d have still loved him.

~ Bird

PS. Man. I’m seriously glad it’s over though! I thought that hell on earth would never end!!

 

 

 

 

Honorable Mention Moments

hamburgerLately, I have a bunch of little stuff that I want to mention, but none of it is really worthy of an entire post dedicated to it. Since these stories keep clicking around in my head, there’s nothing I can really do but write them down, gauge the level of lunacy I’m operating at, and move on.

 Incident Number One: Chef And Joe 

 Do you guys remember last year when I briefly took Chef in? I’m sure I mentioned that we had another roommate but for the life of me, I don’t remember what fake name I gave him on here, and I don’t feel like sifting through hundreds of posts just to find out. So, we’ll call him Joe.

Last week, with the weather being awesome, I strolled around the big flea market, and I ran into him. Joe is in his late twenties, and has been struggling with his own drug addiction for years now. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, though I often thought about him, and often prayed for him. I genuinely loved this little guy. Aside from his addiction, he was really a kind, gentle, compassionate person. Addictions aren’t character revealing for me by themselves, to the point they can define who a person is. They make people act in manners that are horrifying, but I’ve known multitudes of nice people who happened to be struggling with an addiction, and Joe was one of those people. When I saw his healthy, happy face, I almost didn’t recognize him. His eyes were clear, hopeful, and full of laughter. What a wonderful sight!

We started talking about when Chef and Joe would get high and immediately, they would start stealing from each other. I used to laugh my butt off because for some mysterious reason, most of the meth addicts I’ve known become kleptomaniacs when they are on the stuff. I have never experienced this phenomenon myself, and for the life of me, I have no real idea how people who never, ever even considered stealing from someone when sober, would become fearless thieves. I would watch Chef sneaking to where Joe’s stuff was stored, quietly digging through it, picking out the stuff he wanted for himself. This only worked because Joe would be quietly doing exactly the same thing in Chef’s room. And every single time this happened, all hell would break lose when one of the thieves would find something the other one had stolen from them before. It was just pure entertainment for me to watch them arguing, and they would go back and forth for literally hours. How do you argue that someone was wrong to steal your stuff when you only found out the stuff was stolen when you found it while stealing their stuff?

It was an awesome experience.  Loving addicts is a mixed bag, and the bad is so horrible, it’s easy to overlook stuff that is just funny. Maybe that makes me horrible, but I laughed every time I saw it, and it still cracks me right up.

Incident Number Two: Little Buddy

Every single person in this house is a devout animal lover. Besides Rebekkah’s Ella, Tony’s cat Sophia, and my dog, Jake, we’re pretty packed animal-wise around here. Mindy wanted her Chihuahua, Little Buddy, back from her ex-husband, and there wasn’t much any of us could do about it. She deserved her furry friend too. So, along came Little Buddy aka Spike aka Kujo aka Killer. First of all, this is what a dog looks like:

images (8)

or:

Chef-1-5Anything that looks like this:

little dog

Should be classified as a rodent.

Cute maybe, and even smart, but definitely, not a dog. Also, if it can be killed by a mouse trap, it shouldn’t be classified a canine. I’m serious.

Despite my preference for large dogs, I found myself intrigued by the tiny thing.

I’m loathe to admit it, but Buddy carried himself with such dignity and fearlessness, even among the giant dogs of this new pack, that I grudgingly came to respect him. He refused to take crap from any of us, even though Ella clearly thought he was a squirrel or something. She was interested for about 4 seconds, then immediately forgot about him.  I am not sure Jake was ever aware of the tiny warrior strutting somewhere around his feet at all.  In his mind, though, Buddy was a contender for the throne, even if no one was taking him seriously.

So, he immediately launched his first attack. He established his dominance over the other males….

by peeing on Dj and Tony’s heads at night when they were asleep. It was baffling at first. Dj and Buck both woke up damp and stinky. Some theories were bandied about, but nothing was clear. Sophia the Cat was a prime suspect for a few days, but the proof just wasn’t there. 

(On a related note, Sophia doesn’t like dogs, especially Ella and Jake. The fact that Buddy was smaller than she was obviously gave her the confidence to strike back, and Buddy was shamed in front of us all).

Then, two nights later, Dj woke up to a golden shower from Little Buddy. Turns out, Buddy isn’t fixed, and he was showing the two males in our house who’s Da Man. Since he couldn’t reach their heads when they were upright, his domination had to be carried out in the evening hours.

Little Buddy doesn’t live here anymore. :-( He obviously was made for greater things. His skills were wasted on us. We folded under his urination campaign with barely a whimper. 

I wanted Dj and Tony to pee on him when he was asleep just once, thus exhausting every possible solution before we voted him off the island, but I wasn’t able to make my argument convincing enough.  What’s a little urine between pack-mates, really?  Surprisingly, urine is a real deal-breaker around here.

Incident Number Three: Food

In the Blue House, there are five adults sharing a two-bedroom house. And it’s not for no reason. We’re poor.

We’ve found a way to live in a house, have all our utilities on, and still eat. For me, that alone is a tremendous blessing. For some of the others, however, the food thing was way more complicated, and the potential to spin completely out of control and consume us all was growing daily.

It is my suspicion that being married to a chef for a couple of decades, as well being raised by one, has affected how Rebekkah, Dj, and I define food. In all my years of shopping at the HEB’s and Reasor’s of this world, I’ve never once looked at an expiration date on a canned item. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew they had expiration dates. Because I grew up eating spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs, I assumed I had experienced real poverty. But then, this week I found a whole new depth to being poor. Cheese That Doesn’t Melt. I had to make a judgement call about what  can and what can not,  be defined as food. Yesterday, I handed down these two important decision:

A) If cheese won’t melt when dropped directly into an open flame, it isn’t food.

B) Meat that can’t be clearly recognized and doesn’t have to be refrigerated isn’t meat.

Obviously, I’ve been laboring under the assumption that I’d experienced real poverty, when in reality, I’ve been an elitist snob who won’t eat cheeses that don’t melt or meat that doesn’t spoil.

Mindy and Buck have a whole different perspective about food, and it’s probably way more practical for our situations than my kids’ and mine are. Turns out, there are whole brand names I’ve never heard about, mainly because I was not aware of the option to shop for groceries at dollar stores. For me, poverty has always been buying generic. 

Now, based on my experience with the non-food products I’ve bought from dollar stores in the past, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about eating anything from there either. I learned pretty quickly, you get what you pay for, and nothing I ever bought from these sorts of stores ever impressed me one bit.

But on the off chance we might be able to save a little money on groceries, I bought some of Family Dollar Store’s Mystery Meats and Refrigeration-Optional culinary offerings. In all honesty, I have no idea if they were delicious and e coli free. They were probably fine, but psychologically, they were ridiculously hard to not just freak out about, even after I’d obviously passed the Digestive Time Line that would have indicated real trouble.  That’s how I was coping. Rebekkah, however…

Rebekkah has found this eating-on-a-dollar-store-budget almost unbearable, even to the point of having nightmares about it. First, she has always been very, very picky about her food. She won’t eat meat cooked on the bone. When she buys fresh fruits and vegetables, she investigates their history like she’s adopting them, not cooking them.  Genetically enhanced fruits and vegetables are repulsive to her, and she’s not fun to shop with. 

My attitude has always been What You Don’t Know Won’t Kill You, and while I actively refuse to know too much about my favorite foods, I’ve been pretty easy to please when it came to food all of these years.

Rebekkah, however, does not subscribe to that same philosophy, and secretly, I think she suspects all of the food groups are plotting to give her cancer or something equally horrible, and I’m just avoiding dealing with reality.  

Now that our roommates are generously cooking for us, her psyche is quietly, but politely breaking down completely. She won’t be rude, but I’ve seen her mentally prepping herself between bites, and we spend a considerable amount of time discussing the benefits of preservatives and how unimportant it really is to know what animal was killed to provide us this meal. We know we aren’t fooling ourselves, but we try anyways. This goes on through most of her digesting process. The food generally tastes just fine, but as Rebekkah’s mother, I know. That doesn’t matter to her. At.All.

Being a fixer, Rebekkah’s answer to this has been to beat everyone to the punch by cooking ALL meals before anyone else can. She’s in college pursuing a degree in physics, yet finds the impossible time to buy “good” food, prepare a meal she won’t obsess on, and then cook it. There have been a few dinners ready by 4pm in the afternoon, but by God! They were trust-worthy foods that won’t cause us cancer.

She simply is wearing herself right out, and while I found it somewhat humorous at first, it really can’t be healthy for her to be this obsessed. Plus, it is a little harsh for me to laugh at her distresses. Her Food Hell is some good entertainment, but I can tell she’s about to snap and buy a Sam’s Club membership soon. 

Today, I had to forbid Rebekkah from doing this insane food preparation every day, or even every week. For one thing, the roommates haven’t even noticed her spiral into OCD insanity, and they innocently make comments or share little tidbits of knowledge that send my kid right into orbit. Then, I have to lure her back into reality. Quite frankly, my talents as a therapist are minimal at best. Instead of pulling her back from the edge lately, I am starting to join her there. I mean, really. What kind of cheese doesn’t burn??

I feel we made some progress today. We compromised and ordered a pizza. Baby steps. :-)

So, I guess that’s where I’ll stop. I have a plethora of weirdo things I’m experiencing these days, but I’m having difficulty processing the whole cheese thing right now. I need some french fries.

Later!!

~ Bird

What’s It Like To Have A Spouse Cheat On You

QuoraToday, I was goofing around on the computer, and I found something that really moved me. I thought I’d share it with you guys.

On Quora, a question was asked, “What’s it like to have a spouse cheat on you?”

This question has been asked and answered in every way possible on that site, but this time, I was moved by the answer Desmond Hardy gave. I think you’ll like it too. It’s long, but it’s worth it.

He writes:

“It’s like driving your car and having someone cut you off, which runs you off the road; your car flips multiple times before coming to a stop. As you come out of a traumatic trance, you only to begin to take inventory of the real damage in the aftermath of the wreckage. My wife had been cold for months. We were in our fourth year of marriage, but each successive year seemed to be an unraveling of our love into something that I could no longer recognize. 

While we were dating, my ex was the BEST girlfriend I ever had. She saw me through an estrangement from my brother, my mother, the loss of a job, and even helped me financially while I was unemployed, just to name a few. It was then that I was convinced that a woman who saw me endure such adversity should only expect to reap the benefits of my success and accomplishments. I never had a fleeting question or doubt about marrying her. Even moreso, I prayed that God would only give me eyes for her, so I wouldn’t be tempted by other women to cheat on her and mess up my blessing. It was the only relationship where I was in love with her as much as she was in love with me. Anybody who’s ever had a relationship like this knows you may only get 1 or 2 of them in a lifetime.

Fast forward 4 years, and she treats me like a transient roommate in our own home. I knew she was either emotionally separated from me, or she was engaged in another relationship, because nothing bothers you anymore when you’re getting your needs met elsewhere. She also dressed a lot better for work than what I’d been used to for a long time. She always dressed professional, but she put an extra 25% of effort into really looking appealing on a daily basis, which definitely raised my suspicions. 

Although I had my suspicions, they weren’t evidence of anything other than a nadir in our emotional closeness until I got a mysterious phone call one evening. It was a woman who claimed to be the wife of the man she was seeing. My heart skipped three beats, yet, I felt no anxiety talking to her. For the next 45 minutes, she told me almost every detail about their relationship that explained the deficiencies in my marriage. 

They met in college 18 years ago and developed a hot and heavy relationship. he was a newlywed, but that didn’t stop them. For 10 years they were on-again-off-again, until she finally cut ties with him. She decided to make vast wholesale changes in her life, and for the better. She committed her life to God, focused on healing, and her son, and putting behind her a relationship that was forbidden from the start. 

I entered her life a few years later, and appear to be everything that she thought she deserved; hard working, industrious, God-fearing, engaged with her son, and “a nice guy.” At least nice enough not to hurt her like the other guys in her past did. I was, in retrospect, a safe business decision. 

As the dirtbag’s wife told me of her experiences with my wife as the other woman for so many years, I immediately knew that virtually all of our marital problems were so far beyond me, that there was no way that I could ever compete with an 18 year relationship. I knew in that moment that NONE of our problems started with me (although I contributed my fair share of imperfection) and they couldn’t possibly be addressed or resolved without a major commitment on her part. 

As I sat and listened on the phone, I also got a glimpse of what I didn’t want to be, which was the male version of the woman on the other end of the phone. She was devoutly religious, devoted and dedicated to her family, and a fighter, who refused to give up on having a real family. These are all great qualities unless you apply them toward someone who’s unwilling to change. This woman suffered for years behind this man’s selfishness, arrogance, and myriad affairs with multiple women. Having that conversation allowed me to see that I didn’t want to be that person. 

Then my wife came home, and that’s when the fireworks started.  Elizabeth Kubler Ross coined the grieving/coping stages when we or a loved one faces eminent death, but we also are confronted with the same emotions as we encounter the death of a marriage.

Denial

This was my first reaction after processing the truth that most of our marriage was a lie. In 5 years of being in a relationship with her, I’d never called my wife a derogatory name until that night. I had no filter. It was shattered into a million pieces along with my dignity, and she wasn’t going to come off easy after all that her lies had put me through. After trying to save face while putting up her best defense, she finally simply admitted to being “fucked up,” when she realized that I knew too much. This didn’t provide me any comfort or solace, but it provided me with enough resolve to walk away for good.

The next morning, I packed up only my clothes and what was left of my dignity as I said goodbye to that residence forever. A good friend stopped by to help me fit everything into his truck, and I didn’t feel anything until I put the last of my things into my trunk, and it hurt so bad that I fell to my knees sobbing (and I do mean SOBBING, blubbering, balling,) uncontrollably.  

One of the most arduous things about dealing with your spouse’s betrayal that the cognitive dissonance of missing someone who betrayed you so deeply. You will still long for this piece of sh*t, and then feel guilty for doing so. When you commit your heart to someone, it takes far longer for your feelings to die than the time it took to end the relationship. 

It’s a lot like stars in the universe; any one of those stars may have already died, but it may take millions of years for the last of the light emitted from that star to reach us before we realize it. This is when I was immediately confronted with my second emotion.

Depression

If the anger was useful for providing a needed kick in the pants to walk away from an emotionally abusive relationship, then depression was completely counter-productive. Tears would flow at the drop of a hat for anything and for everything, because you don’t realize how much of your world revolved around this person until you associate some of the most insipid things to them. Seeing her favorite cookies in the aisle at the grocery store, hearing “our song” on the radio, subconsciously taking the exit to go home, only to realize that it isn’t YOUR home anymore all act as 12 inch knives slowly drilling their way into your heart at the slowest pace possible, yet with the maximum effect for torture purposes. 

You can experience waves of sadness like the changing of the tide on the sea shore; it can go from low to high, or high to low, but sadness will be a cloak that will never leave you for some considerable amount of time. I have often compared the pain to having a limb amputate with no anesthesia and with a dull knife. Regardless of the medical emergency that necessitates amputation, the pain is equal parts excruciating and constant. There is no way around this. 

I couldn’t sleep for over a month. For someone who falls asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, this a HUGE deal. I couldn’t focus at work. Simple tasks would get lost in space, as if I were afflicted with no short-term memory. I also had what seemed like a million colds that waited in line to infect me consecutively for the next 6 months. With the tremendous effect of stress on your body, it only makes sense to become a walking Petrie dish. 

Bargaining

This is the mind fuck of all mind fucks, as you, the victim, will rack your brain trying to rationalize how it’s possible that you somehow enabled your spouse to cheat on you.  I’ll let you process that for a minute.

 It’s like you’re constantly trying to balance an unbalanced equation, and you still cannot wrap your mind around it. You ask yourself did you show enough affection, or did you consider them enough, could you have been better in bed, or what if you didn’t do that thing that annoyed the crap out of her so much even for one less time, would it alter the course of history between you two. 

You will run countless simulations in your head of how you could’ve done myriad things differently to perhaps bring out a different outcome, only to be faced with the damning reality that you’ll never know if it would’ve worked any better anyway. But here’s the mind fuck; you continue to run the simulations ANYWAY!!!!!!!!! 

Anger

As you come more to terms with the amount of damage and loss you’ve sustained in this failed marriage, you won’t be able to avoid the rage that comes with the realization of how much time you wasted with this worthless $%*^**!  

Your trust,your hopes, experiences you planned on looking forward to, your every big and minor plan for the future involved her, and now that’s been completely stolen from you. Now you have to start over, and you’re in worse condition than when you started the first time. At least back then you were a lot more optimistic and hopeful; now, you can’t trust the opposite sex or yourself anymore, due to the fact that you were so sure you picked “the one” in the first place. 

You’ll expect her world to crumble around her feet, but it will surprisingly go on without a hitch. This makes you even angrier!!! I mean .38 HOT!!!!!!! If you’re not careful, you begin to realize that the longer you remain in this phase, not only will their quality of life remain the same, but yours will vastly and quickly deteriorate. And that’s why you have to reach a new plateau. 

Acceptance

This doesn’t mean that you’re okay with what happened, it means that you accept that everything you used to believe about love, God, relationships, true love, and marriage don’t have to be false just because your dreams didn’t come true through this marriage. This is the place where, after performing a thorough autopsy of your marriage, you can exhale with the assurance that comes with knowing you gave it your best shot, while taking note of your shortcomings for future relationships. 

It means that just because somebody cheated on you, it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. It means that It means that you’ve proven that you can be humble, selfless, sacrificial, patient, committed, and steadfast.  And more importantly, you’ll know how to do those things even better the next time that true love comes around.”

Beautiful. Thanks, Desmond.
` Bird
  

An Emotional Cancer – Bitterness

nelson-mandela-leaving-all-the-bitterness-anger-fear-hatred-behind-when-he-left-prisonBack when Chef and I were doing our Marriage Death Dance, I often voiced concern about not letting all that was happening make me bitter and angry for the remainder of my life here on earth. I can say happily, that hasn’t been the direction I took. Life’s too short for that crap.

However, I’m renting a room from a woman who took that sad, lonely path 20+ years ago, and to say that this experience has been unpleasant would be a giant understatement.

I’m in a whole new sort of crisis.

I would have to say that I’m generally spot on when assessing a person I meet. I knew during the interview that this landlord, (we’ll call her Janet), had some deep wounds from her own marriage falling apart decades ago. She spent a great deal of time explaining to me, in detail,  the pain she had felt when her husband had left her for another woman, and how she felt her own children had sided with their father and his new wife against her. Since the conversation was happening days before Christmas, I chose to chalk up the deep sadness she was conveying to holiday depression. All of this had happened to her when I was still a teenager, but I know firsthand how much things like this hurt. Still, the bitterness was shining through.

After 27 years, it seemed to me that it shouldn’t be this fresh kind of pain. Who could live so mired in that kind of devastating pain day in and day out for so long? If I’d been hurting like that in Year 3, I’d have lost my mind. 27 years? Yikes!

One of her sons had recently had a baby, and she was upset that she hadn’t been able to see him yet. She was also angry at her ex because she felt he was bitterness 3poisoning her now middle-aged children against her still . The new daughter-in-law was barely able to stand being in Janet’s presence for a mere hour, and staunchly refused her repeated invitations to stay over one evening so Janet could enjoy her first grandchild. Janet described her a cold and unkind. I just wanted to rent a room, so I listened to all of this quietly, trying to offer a word of encourage here and there. I didn’t know any of these people, so it was hard for me to really offer anything to the conversation. There was a lot of misery to be heard in that first conversation we had. And, personally, super bitter people make me nervous. I kept waiting for her to bring up the Lord, as she had mentioned her Christianity in her ad along with a few emails we swapped. She toted her home as a place for wounded people to recuperate and rest before setting out on their own again. It was a nice thought. Towards the end of the conversation, I steered her towards her views about the Lord, and it quickly became clear that along with her ex-husband, new daughter-in-law, and her children, she was also bitter towards God. She mentioned that she was waiting for God to punish her ex-husband and his now 27 year marriage to his new wife, and since He hadn’t done it yet, she was angry.

Rest stop for the emotional weary? I don’t think so.

Rebekkah and I tend to stay to ourselves. Even when I owned my own places, we spent a great deal of time alone with our books, writing, etc. Since the room was very large, with a lock on the door, I felt like we could stand this environment for a little while so I could find a more stable, permanent home for us. I mean, really! How bad can it be?

You.Have.No.Idea.

bitternessThere is a pettiness here that literally makes me want to pull my hair out. Janet doesn’t seem to understand that people renting rooms from her doesn’t make them her foster children nor her housekeepers. Tony, the injured veteran, has to stay warm because of the metal in his body. When he adjusted the thermostat one evening, Janet turned the heater off at the breaker. The cold was almost unbearable for me, and I rarely feel cold, thanks to hot flashes accompanying my change of life. I can’t imagine how Tony was feeling. Rebekkah was coughing in her sleep, and we were all generally miserable. We have a fireplace, but she stoutly refused to even entertain the thought of us using it to stay warm. The next morning, she turned the breaker back on, after Tony basically lost his cookies all over her, and she blew out the motor. For the next 6 days, we watched a stream of church friends come in to look at the heater, fiddle with it somewhat, and then leave. One guy told her that she had fried the motor,  but she wouldn’t pay the money to have the motor replaced. She hinted to her tenants that we would have to pay for it. Finally, Tony, Mindy, Bekkie, and I confronted her about the problem, and when she had no choice, she finally had a real heating and air person come fix it. It was terrible. People were yelling; she was trying to blame the very same people from her church that were trying to help her. Accusations, lies, excuses, and justifications were bandied about like a hellish volleyball game. It sucked.

I’d already been having my own issues before this happened. I couldn’t get her to give me my lease, nor would she take anything for rent except cold, hard cash. I’d paid her with cash, trusting she’d give me a receipt….twice. Neither time did she give me anything at all. According to the other roommates, our rent is unreported income and she wants no paper trail. I wished I’d known this from the beginning. Some of my expenses are paid for through work, and without receipts, I don’t get that money back.

wallpaper-strongholds-bitternessI find that no matter how well things are going for Janet, she is consistently unhappy, and has sharpened her self-pity into a tool to use against others. Every person I’ve talked to that has come into this house to fix something for her has expressed their sympathy for this poor, trodden-upon soul. She’s often on the phone in her room lamenting the suffering she is experiencing at the hands of almost every person in her life. And of course, her own actions are never brought up in those conversations.

I finally began confronting her about things she’s been doing to spite us. Turning off brewing coffee pots. Locking me out of the house when I step outside to smoke. Hiding important mail. Going into my room without me there. Opening the backyard gate and letting Ella run into the neighborhood. There are tons more, but you get the general idea.

Rebekkah and I are looking for our own place, having pretty much been completely soured by this atmosphere.

But even now, I have to say that even in this situation, I’m glad to have experienced it. I’ve seen the results of bitterness, un-forgiveness, and a myriad of other destructive emotions when they are left unchecked to take root in our hearts first hand. It is a hard thing to see.

Bitterness is a destructive and repulsive weapon we use against ourselves. It’s a cage of our own making, and we hold the keys to it in our own hands. Like the seed of a tree, left alone, something small can grow to engulf a person’s entire life. Forgiveness isn’t designed to help the person we are forgiving. Instead, it is designed to help ourselves mend from wrongs suffered, and to move past things in our lives that are best left behind us.

Is there hope for a woman who has been bitter and angry for 20+ years? I’m sure there is, but without her own decision to let the past go and accept her own part in the crumbling of her life, she will remain stagnant in this cesspool. People quickly move in this home, and move even more quickly right out again. In some way, surely she has to notice that the only thing any of us have in common is her?

I haven’t used any real names, nor do I want people to throw stones at this woman. She’s made her own life much more unbearable than she has been able to make mine, and soon, I’ll be saying goodbye to this house, and to this person who is so unhappy.

~Bird

James 1:26: 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

My Blog Has PTSD

Funny-and-Clever-Egg-Photography-2So, I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. As dilemma’s go, it’s a good one.

Everyone Has A Story will be two years old next month. In the space of this time, it went from being a random, sporadic telling of some stuff from when I was a kid, to a soap box to declare my hatred for nipple shirts, to my opinions about men rifling through women’s panties’ drawers, to the crushing play-by-play of a marriage falling apart due to drugs and infidelity. Now that I’m well on my way out of that horrendous chapter of my life, I find myself actually at a loss for words.

I’d write about my infinitely smaller stresses these days, but they are so minuscule compared to what I have been writing about, I feel stupid even bringing them up.

I promise. I’m trying to find something worthy of you. Like humans, I think my blog has PTSD. I’m working on the cure… :-)

Thanks for your patience!!

~Bird

The Treasure In Your Heart

Seal_SouthPadre_05_JPG_800x1000_q100As a teenager, I spent a significant amount of time on South Padre Island. We lived in a little town near Port Isabel, and the beach was close, free, and fun. My favorite times to go to those sandy shores, though, was right after a tropical storm or even better, a hurricane. Things that once rested silently beneath miles of water for decades, or even centuries,  would be dredged up and deposited on shore by massive, dangerous waves of water. Ships have become dislodged and been discarded callously on those beaches, unaware of the value of their find. Bobby pins, dishes, beer cans, and more than enough spare tires and toilet seats to be comfortable with,  were pretty common items to find. But there was always some surprises, too.  It was the coolest kind of treasure hunting, in my opinion. Angry winds and dangerous floods, the last vestiges of a powerful and indifferent storm, weren’t enough of a threat to keep people like me inside. The best loot would be gone within minutes, and the race would be on the minute the car wouldn’t be blown off the road.

I never managed to find anything of real worth, but I was content with my spectrum of sea shells, drift woods, and the occasional artsy photograph I’d snap. The trip to the beach after the storms wasn’t about what I could own; it was about a perfect moment being created just for me. Curiosity and Imagination surged as I sifted and dug, looking for that special something wisdomthat I would recognize only in the minute I saw it. Each spoon, or thimble, or whatever else I would manage to collect held a history that probably would never be known again. Fanciful, childish stories would begin to form in my mind, and often, I’d find my brain happily focusing on shaping those imaginations into something clever, and nothing else. My incessant, over-analyzing mind would become quiet, feeling safe for a minute or two.  The whole experience was almost spiritual for me. With hope beating excitedly in my chest, the sand oozing through my bare toes, and the heat from a cheerful sun gently  bleaching my hair as she peaked around gray clouds, life seemed to stand still for me. There was no past, no worries, no fear of the future. Only God’s voice rumbling somewhere far off, the power of the ocean, and I existed in those moments. The rhythmic journey of waves coming and going provided a soundtrack, and tiny crabs danced happily to the mysterious music of the water.. The whole experience was important to me, and I always went home feeling more settled, peaceful, and relaxed. My mind would seem cleaner.

vodkaI look back at my footsteps through my life, and the path I’ve traveled is so much clearer to see now. Storms would present themselves in my life — sexual child abuse, betrayal, absent father, the list goes on and on, and those spiritual waters would churn up motivations, disappointments, pain, and other equally disturbing things from the bottom of my heart. As a young woman with three tiny children and a brand new marriage to focus on, behaviors I’d long suspected might be bad for me were simply justified, ignored, and finally accepted, like one would a cane because of a severely damaged foot. I truly believed back then God had just healed all that up, sight unseen, and I never had to think about it again. As time went by, it became easier to leave the past in the past. I was a pretty happy, functioning person who had somehow avoided being truly damaged by on-going sexual abuse by a person I had trusted…. That assumption fell right to pieces when another person I trusted betrayed me. Suddenly, old, unresolved wounds stemming back to childhood became entwined with the present situation with my unfaithful husband. 20+ years of burying those scars as deep as possible hadn’t made them disappear. They jumped readily into the chaos of my broken heart, vivid and clear.  I was that powerless, pissed, frightened little girl all over again. My refusal to address the abuse years ago actually made the death of my marriage twice as hard. Ignoring a problem never pays off in the end. They just bide their time, waiting to emerge from the darkness, riding on the back of another devastating storm.

Like any other infection all the band-aids and self-deception in the world won’t make deep, crushing wounds just evaporate. I’d learned to survive in this dog-eat-dogsolving problems world, as do most people who have suffered trauma so significant as children, but my make-shift coping skills began to break down, and I found myself less and less able to emotionally keep myself stable, productive, and more importantly, in control. Being molested, you learn just how powerless a person can really be in this world, and power becomes the name of the game. Commitment becomes hard; being vulnerable is never an option.Love is hoped for, yet never lives up to the hype. Suspicion lurks deep in the shadows, waiting for the betrayal to come, positive that it is only a matter of time.  Every kind word or romantic gesture becomes suspect to even myself about the true motives of my intimacy or my husbands..Sex becomes a currency and love a weakness. Silently, a struggle was always going on between me and my husband, and the effort it takes to act like everything is okay is exhausting. It takes so very little to tip over a life like mine, and when I’d been betrayed by someone so close, all those weak, infected wounds broke open with such anguish, it took months for my soul to stop weeping.

There is quite a bit of debris littering my heart after this latest, greatest storm in my life, and yet, as I mentally pick up and examine memory after memory, unlike the treasures swept up on the beaches of Texas, I’m aware of the history of each one. This storm is over and the healing process is well on its way. I feel He’s re-broken some old wounds to set them correctly this time. The real treasure I will find among all of this wreckage is wisdom, and the healing will be strong and straight, not fragile and temporary. Each storm has made me stronger, and even my failures have value to me now.

Army_of_the_LordNor is every thing I’m finding in my heart  garbage. There are some treasures in there, as well. I’m no longer afraid of what the storms of life will be able to uproot in my heart and drag into the light. I’m proof of God’s enduring mercy despite the blackness of my sins buried deep inside of my heart. Turns out, He wasn’t as surprised at what He found there as I was.

Thank God!!

–Bird

 

 

 

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