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Grief

A friend of mine died yesterday.

They were one of those online friends that my family used to scoff about and call “not a real friend.”

We met in person some years ago. They were in town on their way to visit family, and we had a very pleasant lunch. They were a real person with a real life and a real family. I felt like they could be my sibling.

We kept in touch over the years, but they fell ill. (Due to their wish for privacy, I will not disclose the illness, even though my friend is no longer alive.) At first, I was worried, but my friend seemed to be overcoming their illness and was on the way to recovery. Other problems cropped up in my life, and I lost touch. We didn’t communicate as much as we should have, and that was my fault entirely. I own it.

By chance, I found out from my friend’s partner that my friend passed away. Even though they had overcome their previous illness several times, a secondary condition caused them to rapidly decline. In less than 48 hours, my friend was gone, taken out by something unexpected as they continued to work towards a full recovery from their illness.

I’m terrible at keeping in touch, and this hurts my heart in a way I didn’t think possible. Every time I think I’m done crying for my friend, I start crying again.

This isn’t fair. They were supposed to have more time. They were supposed to have lunch with me again and marvel at my cherry blossom and meet my sunflower and my husband.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Goodbye, Linden. I’m sorry. The world is so much dimmer without your light.

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If it’s not one thing, it’s another

Well, I failed abysmally at Blogtober. In my defense, though, I had crisis after crisis after crisis to deal with, and I’m still dealing with them now.

First of all, what was supposed to be a fun excursion turned into two brutal weeks of illness that knocked us on our butts as a family. Michael and I got hit first, then the kids. We’re on the mend now, but I’ve still got a cough that pops up whenever I step out of the house (most likely due to the poor air quality from all of the vehicles on the busy street nearby).

And if that wasn’t enough, our kitchen sink stopped draining. We did what we could as unlicensed amateurs to get it working again, but we failed. After that came a fight with the property management company that owns the house we rent because they didn’t want to deal with the problem and told us to call a plumber. Trouble with that was that we’d already paid the $1235 a month in rent and didn’t have anything left over to pay a plumber, and our spidey sense told us that it wasn’t something we could fix.

A few days later, they acquiesced and sent over a maintenance guy to try and clear it, to no avail. After a weekend of more washing dishes in the bathtub and improvisational cooking (it’s a real pain in the ass to cook three meals a day without a working kitchen sink, I’m here to tell you), another maintenance guy came over with a more powerful auger and tried to clear the line…to no avail.

The head of maintenance finally called a plumber, and the person they sent over was able to clear the line, but he discovered a big problem. The pipe that runs below the basement flood was clogged with mud, which means that the line itself is broken. The line is cast iron and probably over 70 years old, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that it has corroded to the point of letting mud in.

So now we wait and see what the property management company wants to do. They likely won’t have a copy of the report on the line until Monday, but at least I can use my kitchen sink until the next big storm causes the groundwater to force more mud into the pipe.

In the course of working on the pipe, the water and ick from it got onto the laundry that I hadn’t caught up on, causing it to look and smell awful. I’m doing my best to catch up, but it’s a massive challenge with a young toddler who gets anxious when I’m not in the room with her.

Speaking of my little sunflower, she hasn’t been getting enough sleep, and it is probably at the root of her clinginess. She’s been refusing to nap, so I’ve been putting her to bed early. She’s been getting an average of 12 hours, but everything I’ve read says she needs to be getting at least 13-14 hours a day, so I’m anxious about closing that gap.

It’s also NaNoWriMo time, and while I haven’t been able to work on my project as much as I’d like, I have been making progress as I can, and that’s something, I suppose.

And now it’s time for me to sneak into the shower while my sunflower and cherry blossom are asleep and my husband is playing his racing game. Huzzah!

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Admitting Defeat

My unpredictable schedule doesn’t allow me to blog daily, and that’s okay. Maybe if I can find a way to update the blog on mobile, I’ll be able to continue with the Blogtober challenge.

Until then, consider this my white flag. I’ll keep blogging when I can.

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Falling Off the Wagon

I tried to keep up with both Inktober and Blogtober, and I failed.

It happens.

I got back up and got to work.

Will I fail again? Possibly?

Will I get back up again? I will until I can’t anymore.

I am now back on the wagon for both things. Wish me luck!

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Domestic Dungeoneering Podcast?

Yes, I’m considering starting a podcast. I’m having trouble narrowing down the theme, since there are a lot of things that I’m passionate about, but I’m working on it. I’m actually excited to be moving forward!

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I am free

CW: Suicidal Ideation

Today, my husband and I had an argument. As a therapist, he is very passionate about invalidating language. The argument was sparked by me stating that a character in an anime who was assaulting another character had “anger issues.” Within the context of that argument, I discovered that I had internalized ableism.

I was wrong, and I felt terrible about it.

But then as we continued to talk, we went into my feelings of terror and fear of rejection and anger at being called out for invalidating the anger of the character. It didn’t matter that she was a fictional person; it mattered that this was something I did without being aware of it, echoing the invalidating language I grew up with.

And it dawned on me that up until Michael and I met and married, I was not allowed to be wrong.

It was not safe to be wrong.

It was not okay to admit to being wrong.

I grew up in an authoritarian household where my parents’ thoughts and opinions were absolute, and anything that didn’t agree with what they said and thought, especially my father, was wrong, and was punished. Sometimes the punishment was physical, but many times, it was emotional. The utter rejection for daring to voice an opinion that was not in lockstep with the “elders” was brutal and cold. Being cast out when one is already an outcast and has only family for company is a cold, lonely place.

In talking with Michael, I realized that I finally, after all of this time, have a safe space to be wrong. I have a space to fully discover and articulate my emotions and separate them from the judgments I’ve made.

This feeling of freedom is one I only ever thought I would experience if I ended my life. I only ever wanted the pain to stop, to stop feeling guilt for existing, to stop feeling guilt for making mistakes, to stop destroying myself to please other people.

I’m just about to turn 42, and it feels like my life is actually beginning.

I am free.

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Poisonous People

The more I dig to the roots of my trauma, the more anger I feel at the people responsible for it. I’m not really at a point where I feel I’m ready to tell the world at large what was done to me here, but suffice it to say, it fucked me up good and hard for the past 40 years.

I had dreams and aspirations, just like anyone else. My biggest one was always to be a mother and have children of my own, but I had other ones as well, ranging from becoming a botanist to playing the piano for David Bowie (which is, unfortunately, something that will never come true).

I also wanted to be an actor. From the first time I could read fairy tales on my own, my siblings and I would act out all sorts of things ranging from Sleeping Beauty to Night on Bald Mountain using toys, ladders, and other props. We called it “Mount Sinai Theater” (and the spelling of Sinai was so atrocious that I’ve blocked it from my memory, but it was WRONG).

Hell, even that happy memory was tainted by the mockery of my phonetic spelling of Sinai.

As one might guess from the name of our home troupe, we grew up in a strictly religious, conservative, authoritarian home. We weren’t even allowed to listen to modern music when my father was home, so 80s music has a special place in my heart as a refuge. (He relented a bit when a friend of my mother’s introduced us all to Amy Grant, but that was the extent of how he bent.) Fortunately, he had a soft spot for showtunes, jazz, and Roger Whittaker, and that was why we were allowed to indulge in theater.

My sister Rachel and I liked to record things together and be silly. We even came up with recordings we called “Sunshine Radio.” As we got older, we and our brother Jesse acted in school plays and musicals. By the time I reached high school, I was the go-to person to play the villain. When it started to bother me, I was told to be grateful I was chosen for anything at all.

You see, I stopped being skinny and bony when I was four years old, even though I grew up in poverty and knew hunger and scarcity like an auntie who lived in a spare room. My weight gain is thought to be tied to a trauma that began when I was four and continued off and on until I was eleven. By the time I graduated high school, I was 180 pounds, and much of it was muscle from weight training, but much of it was also fat.

Even without the weight and muscle, I am still a person with a large body frame and a broad, high-cheekboned head. I’m also not nearly as pretty as my sisters or as smart as my brother, which was something I was reminded of a lot growing up. I was a natural for the villain because of my looks and size.

On top of that, I had undiagnosed autism, so I didn’t understand the things that came to others all but instinctually, and I had a hard time making friends or understanding the unwritten rules of society. My siblings did their best to educate me and help me not be too much of an embarrassment to them, but I still managed.

And people were cruel. When I was in high school and mentioned that I dreamed of playing piano with David Bowie, a girl who delighted in bullying me told me that by the time I got good enough to play with David Bowie, he would be dead.

She was right, though. My parents couldn’t afford piano lessons, much less a piano, so the best I could do was learn to play the trombone, and I didn’t even do that very well because of the constant heckling I got at home when I tried to practice. I was too humiliated to tell the band director what was going on at home, so I gave up playing. I still have my trombone, though. I guess it’s a memento to yet another deferred dream.

I’ll probably talk about this more another day, but I grew up surrounded by people who broke me down and stole my joy. With some of them, it was intentional, but with others, it was just what they thought was normal and acceptable…or maybe they thought if they made me an object of ridicule, it would be easier for them to hide their own flaws in the shadows.

Anyway, it worked for a long time. I’ll be 42 in two months, and I’m just starting to rediscover who I am and what I lost over the years due to bullying and being forced into a container that didn’t suit the shape of who I truly am.

And right now, in this moment, I am blessed. I have a wonderful, supportive husband, two great kids, and the rest of my life to be my true self without the people who poisoned me along for the ride.

And my dears, it’s going to be a good one.

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My Art Style

I’ve come up with a name for my art style. It’s FAAFO (Fuck Around And Find Out). I like it better than “Trying to Impressionist,” my previous name for my art style.

The more I create without thinking about whether it’s marketable or even objectively “good,” the more I enjoy it. I’m also participating in Inktober this year, and it’s pretty awesome to be able to try and flex those muscles consistently.

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Rough Day

I found out what my dad really thinks of me and my siblings.

It’s a lot to digest.

Needless to say, the roots of my anger, pain, and bitterness dug a lot of themselves up today.

I’ll elaborate when I have had time to process my thoughts and my pain.

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Manifest Destiny

Strange as it sounds, I’ve been exploring manifestation as a tool to help me work through trauma and explore new opportunities. I’ve also been participating in free workshops and trying NLP and hypnosis to help me work through some of my blocks. While part of me feels like it’s absurd woo-woo stuff, another part of me feels like it’s opened my eyes to new opportunities and reawakened deferred dreams.

I’ve also been started on a new medication, and I have been able to accomplish more than I have been in years just in the past month. I’ve started work on a novel, I’ve been creating more art, and I’ve been exploring a reentry into acting.

While manifestation itself may be a silly thing, I do feel like some of the things from these workshops have opened my eyes to the opportunities and passions I had buried in the years I spent being a good mother, partner, employee, sibling, aunt, and daughter.

While I’m sad at the time I’ve lost in pursuing my own dreams, I’m glad that I’ve finally found the drive and support system to start doing the work to make my own dreams come true.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to buy my dream farm with the money I make from following my dreams.