Monday, October 10, 2016

Our lives are fragile. They can change in an instant. Live today in light of the truth-and carry no regrets.~Joshua Becker

Week 6 in Annie's Thoughtful Thursday

It's been 5 years since my breast cancer diagnosis.

The treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation) nearly killed me. Life is fragile, and fleeting, and precious.

Five years ago,  the dog and I went for a walk at Rice Creek Field Station with my son. This is the place where biology students do their research. We often walk the trails here, it is beautiful and peaceful. I had an appointment later to get the results from the biopsy and wasn't at all worried or worked up.

Joe took a picture of me with the dog.

That was the last picture taken of me with all my body parts, just 7 days later I was in surgery. And 3 weeks after that, the torture of treatment started.

I can't find that photo. I was wearing a denim skirt, a pink long sleeve t shirt, and birkenstocks. We tried to re-create it, except for the clothes (I now HATE pink, camo is my new pink).

But the dog didn't want to cooperate; he peed and pooped.

Live all your days in truth and transparency-I strive for that, anyway. And regrets? Nope. The dog pooping as we tried to commemorate this anniversary is a metaphor for not carrying regrets.

That's what I'm thinking about today.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

"Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them." Rabindranath Tagore

(Week 5 in Annie's Thoughtful Thursday.)

"You're an idiot mother. You're evil. Burn in hell. Every bad thing that happened in my life is because of you. You're a wicked mother who had kids just so you could torture them. Burn in hell. I'm never going to talk to you again."

Let me tell you about post traumatic stress disorder.

First, there is some trauma. Lets say, your severely mentally ill loved one terrorizes you by

  • setting fires outside your bedroom door while you are sleeping
  • spray painting mean comments around the inside of your house (for example "stupid" on the door, "therapist=the rapist" on the hallway wall)
  • telling random strangers, "I'm sorry, she's messed up." or "She's a child abuser."
  • threatening to call the authorities and do anything to get your teaching certification revoked
  • now and then disconnecting the electricity to the house
  • regularly telling you, "Go drive yourself off a bridge." and "I hope you die today." and "Why don't you just go kill yourself so I can have the insurance money. Then your life will have meaning." and "You're a fat, ugly bitch."
  • locking you out of the house (that time when I was in the back yard with the dog in July; 95 degrees, barefoot, and no leash)
  • shooting you with a BB gun while you are relaxing on the couch
  • asking you to make appointments (dentist, psychiatrist, gp),  refusing to go, then blaming you for never making appointments
  • abusively complaining about: how you breath, how you walk, how you brush your teeth, how you shower, how you smell, how you talk, how you drive, how you eat, how you cut your nails, how you do the dishes, how long you take in the bathroom, saying out loud that you need the bathroom, that you talk on the phone ("I know you're talking about me."), the music you listen to, and, oh my god, how dare you sing!
But the worst and most damaging

  • randomly throwing things at you when you're not expecting it - boots, cans, bags of cat food, rubber bands, shoes, books, bowls of hot soup, water bottles, balloons filled with water (not the kind that are designed to burst, the kind that are meant to last) tomatoes, expensive medicine (ruining it, and it can't be replaced without a new prescription and $1,000), and more at your head, chest, back...
And this continues for a couple of years or so. There is really no visible way out, no way to stop it, no way to rationalize with an irrational person. I'm the parent, the responsible one, the one in charge.
So there's the trauma. 

Then came the hospitalizations, a bunch of moving out and moving back in, very definite healing, and the realization that I'm not obligated to take care of him anymore. 
So there's the post.

Now the stress disorder: when the triggering incident (the opening quote above, from a few days ago) leaves you a shuddering, weeping mess on the couch. The words, yelled at you through clenched teeth feel like stabbing knives. Actually, knives stabbing me may not have hurt as much as the words. And you react like a jerk/bully shouting accusations back. And then you feel sick, dizzy, nauseated, and you feel pain. For days. 

We are going to be ok. Different, but ok. There will be appointments with the therapist, I'm going to try Cognitive Behavior Therapy, he is going to try practicing mindfulness. We will fearlessly face these dangers. By golly.

                                      (This is me being fearless. Photo by Gabriel Espinosa)