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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.

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Break it down again

Sometimes wisdom comes from the closest to home. My husband and I have been under a lot of stress, and when there’s a lot of stress, cracks start to form and dams of emotion burst.

Yes, we’ve argued.

We’ve argued in front of the kids.

It happens.

The fact is, we love each other, but sometimes, whether we mean to or not, we hurt each other. We do our best to overlook it, but sometimes the lack of care or lack of consideration gets to be too much, and it has to come out.

Fortunately, we both understand and acknowledge our weaknesses and do what we can to do better. I am autistic, have chronic pain, have an audio processing disorder, am visually impaired, and can be extremely socially oblivious, especially when I’m trying to muscle through my own depression. There are times that I do or say things without thinking, and it hurts the people closest to me, especially my husband.

Michael is a good man. He’s patient, and he’s learned from his mistakes. He also knows his worth and sets boundaries as he needs them. He is also an excellent therapist who is frustrated because he cannot use his skills as a therapist to help me overcome my own demons (it’s unethical and would turn our relationship into something we don’t want it to be).

He did, however, give me a couple of tools to help me process my emotions–wheels that break down feelings into their emotional roots. He also told me that a statement is not the same as an emotion.

For example, if I said, “I feel worthless,” that’s not an emotion. Buried in that statement are sadness, anger, and fear. I feel sad because it is ingrained into me that the value I bring to others is monetary, and if I am not making money, I do not have value. I am angry at myself because my eyesight and body are weak, and my ability to work is limited by my need for the bathroom and for rest when the pain and/or exhaustion get to be overwhelming. I feel afraid that I will be rejected by the people I love because I do not bring in a steady income to this family, I cannot do conventional work anymore, and I’m scared that they see me the way I see me and will get rid of me when I am no longer useful to them.

That’s heavy, Doc.

At the same time, though, it feels liberating. When I am able to disengage myself from the pain my thoughts are causing and break them down into their basic emotional components, I can analyze them. The simple act of analysis actually quiets my mind somewhat. Now when I thought comes barreling in and knocking me on my ass, I can hear my husband saying to me, “That’s a judgment, Rebecca–what are you feeling?”

This also ties into a free class I’m taking right now about manifesting money in your life. Yes, I’m aware that a lot of people think it’s a woo-woo waste of time, but I feel it has value because it helps participants shine a light on their internalized feelings about money and how those feelings may be preventing them from seeing and participating in opportunities than can lead to financial success.

I have enough to say about money that I should probably make a separate blog discussing everything I’ve learned about myself and my attitudes in the last week. Between the tools that Michael and Tasha have provided for me so far this week, I’ve been learning a lot, and I hope that things change for the better as a result.

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Tripping over life, as one does

This is one of the times I’m grateful for a small audience, as I can barely do more than a social media post or two these days, and rarely in promotion of my art or writing. Blindness in one eye plus CPTSD, depression, anxiety, autism, IBS, IC, endometriosis, and PCOS makes for a hell of a mix.

A few weeks ago, a news story triggered a series of flashbacks that culminated in me turning into a sobbing mess when I was supposed to be helping my husband clean and maintain our house. It actually set me back for two days, it was so bad. I talked to my psychiatrist about changing my meds because they seem to have stopped working when the flashback kicked in, but she told me that when a flashback is that strong, it’s not something that medication can ameliorate or suppress.

What upsets me even more is that there seems to be something in my subconscious that is determined to force me to be miserable, especially now that my husband has a job he loves and was able to use part of his bonus to buy something that plays well into his hobbies. He got a motorcycle that was being sold for parts, and he fixed it up, and now we’re trying to get it titled and licensed, which is proving to be both time-consuming and frustrating. In spite of the frustrations, my husband is happier with this project than he has been with any of his other projects.

I’m angry at myself because I don’t share his joy. I think motorcycles are awesome machines, and this one is no exception. I’ll never ride one again myself due to past trauma, but I still love the way they look and smell, and I don’t begrudge Michael the time he spends with Charlotte, his motorcycle. (I came up with the name, and Michael liked it. She really does look like a Charlotte.) While I do enjoy playing Wurm Online, cooking, and watching the odd documentary when Nem is napping, I don’t have the same joy my husband has with his hobbies.

On another note, my nibling was waiting for the school bus with a good friend who lived in the neighborhood. The bus had been running late or not running at all week. Due to the heat and the bus being more than 90 minutes late, my nibling got annoyed and decided to head back to the house. Their friend opted to wait a bit longer, so my nibling stayed on the phone with her while she waited. When my nibling’s friend was alone, she was approached by a man who asked her if she needed a ride. My nibling’s friend said no and started to walk away. The man got out of his truck and started pursuing her. My nibling told their friend to run and get help. Their friend got help, and the man pursuing her got arrested.

The man who attempted to snatch my nibling’s friend had a long record of wrongdoing that was gradually escalating into more serious crimes. His most recent crime, according to court records, was violating an order of protection. He was given a suspended sentence of one year of jail time and two years of probation.

It wasn’t the first time he was given a suspended sentence and probation. As I recall from his court records, there were at least two other times when he was given a suspended sentence and probation. I find myself wondering if the prosecuting attorneys in that county aren’t paying attention to prior offenses when prosecuting cases with certain kinds of criminals. Just looking at this guy’s history, he’s been escalating. I’m all for second chances and rehabilitation, but anyone who reads the guy’s case history can see that being given so many second chances over the years just made him bolder in his crimes.

I guess that’s why his claims of innocence and victim blaming are so utterly absurd. He claimed that he thought they were prostitutes, and he had been watching them all week. Do sex workers anywhere wear backpacks? Do they often look for clients at school bus stops? Do they stay in the same place for 90 minutes before giving up and heading home?

Anyway, I hope the prosecutors and judges wise up and hold the guy accountable before he decides that he can stalk and kill someone while he’s on probation with a suspended sentence yet again.

So, that’s where I’m at now. Processing grief and anger that someone who was repeatedly handed second chances wasted them all while others who were never given a second chance or were wrongfully convicted sit in prison.

Life’s not fair, but it’s up to all of us to do what we can to make things better.

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Like a Wrecking Ball to the Psyche

This page went offline for a few days because the annual fee for the hosting has fallen at a time when we had more month than money. I hate this, but we’re still figuring things out and dealing with a lot of stuff.

I just had my bankruptcy hearing last week. It’s never fun, but it went pretty smoothly overall. It made me relive the trauma of the fire, though, because I had to share that I lost everything two years ago, then after my youngest was born, I lost my job. A few months later, I lost the central eyesight in my right eye, and my overall vision is deteriorating. I just hope I don’t lose my eyesight altogether. While I would hate being only able to see things as fuzzy blurs, it’s better than not being able to see them at all.

We also have stuff going on that I can’t really talk about publicly. Our marriage is good, and our daughters Sam and Nem are great, and none of us have broken any laws (none that we’re aware of, anyway). Suffice it to say that the laws apply very differently to people based on their income.

I also have to somehow overcome my people-pleasing ways to set boundaries to protect myself and my children. I hate having to do that, but I keep telling myself that it’s better than subjecting my children to things they should never have to endure.

And the rebuilding continues, one brick at a time.

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The Tyranny of Fear

I am a perfectionist. I’m intensely uncomfortable with being wrong and making mistakes. That is one of many reasons that I have a hard time sharing my writing and art. I have had it drilled into my head that I can’t mess up or be wrong–EVER. So when I mess up and/or get something wrong, it’s a really, really bad time for me internally. When I step back to look at myself, it’s amazing how much of my self-worth is tied to getting it “right” the first time, every time.

I’m afraid. Every minute of every day, I’m afraid of screwing up. I’m afraid of making mistakes. I’m afraid of getting it (whatever it is) wrong all of the time.

For example, I messed up a crustless quiche this morning. The recipe called for pepper, and I misread the amount. It turned out terrible. I ended up throwing it away after we all tried to eat it. I cried because I wasted perfectly good bacon, eggs, and cheese to make that quiche. A quiche normally is good for two breakfasts, but this was garbage. I pride myself on my cooking, so this was really, really hard on me. Worse, hearing honest critiques of my failure triggered bad memories, which made me cry.

Fear is a tyrant with his boot on my neck. Although I’ll never make that recipe again, the pain and twisting anxiety are still with me. I am trying to push through and do my best in all things, but the fear keeps me from moving forward. I need to figure out how to move it off of me.

Until then, here I am.

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Domestic Dungeoneering: Deep Dives

I’ve been pretty open on social media about my struggles with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and trying to maintain functional enough to ensure my husband and children have all that they need. Often, stuff like writing, artwork, and other freelance work gets put to the side in favor of things that take greater priority. Recently, I had to humble myself hard and ask for help from my friends just to be able to feed my children. My bank account had hit negative numbers thanks to a surprise charge, so I was beyond broke when I needed money most. My friends came through in a big way, and I was able to buy food, diapers, and other things my children needed.

I’ve also had to file for bankruptcy for the second time in my life. It’s just one more thing in the constant trauma I’ve been experiencing over the past few years. From the house fire, to the trauma of giving birth to (and nearly losing) Anemone, losing my job, losing my central eyesight in my right eye, losing my ability to enjoy reading, gaming, and using electronic devices like I used to…it’s been a lot. Add to that chronic pain and the anxiety and depression that were already present, and I’m a mess. I still manage to keep the kids clean and fed and wearing clean clothes, though, so that’s progress. I also wouldn’t be embarrassed to have someone come over and see the house as it is now, even though I would probably keep them from looking in my office/storage room.

I am doing my best to carve out time to write and make art, though it feels as if I don’t deserve that time because there is so much that still needs doing every day. I also play Wurm Online to help give myself a little respite from the real world. It doesn’t require that I have perfect vision, though it is a bit frustrating when I click on the wrong command. I’ve made friends from all over the world in my time playing Wurm, and after a hiatus, I came back to build a deed that resembles my dream hobby farm. It even has the name I wanted to use for my farm–Tranquility Base.

Additionally, my husband and I are doing our best to incorporate more exercise in our daily lives. The pandemic and stress caused us to gain weight, and while I can’t speak for my husband, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I’m doing my best to choose nutritionally dense foods and sensible portions, but I also have trouble making myself drink enough water, and I’m constantly exhausted from my medications and from having to wake up in the night when one of my children is having trouble staying asleep. I feel like I do as much as I do through the grace of God and the miracle of caffeine.

A few days ago, I made lists of what I love about Michael and what I love about CB (I would have made one for SF, but she can’t read). I had a dream that I made that list for Michael, and I felt like I needed to make it for him. I also made one for CB because she is going through a rough time, and I wanted to remind her that she is loved and has lots of amazing qualities that make her special. Michael was pleased by the spontaneous gesture…then he challenged me to make a list of what I love about myself.

Dear Reader, I still haven’t made that list.

I don’t even know where to start.

Even with the medications I take to keep myself marginally functional, I’m still struggling to see what there is to love about me. Maybe it’s the strong lessons that were hammered into me as a child that I was worth less than nothing because I was a girl. Maybe it was the teachings that to love anything about yourself was vanity and a sin. Maybe it’s the self-hatred I carry for every mistake I’ve ever made in my life. Maybe it’s because society says I am ugly and useless.

And maybe it’s just depression that refuses to abate no matter how much therapy and medication I throw at it. Again, it just makes things more manageable and helps me be somewhat functional.

I don’t know what it is or how to fight it…but by God, I’ll do my best to dig deep and rebuild myself.

Maybe then the list about me won’t be so hard to make.

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Let’s Play Money-Making Game

Pretty much any app that advertises itself as a quick way to get money is lying. The only truly reliable app I’ve ever used is Swagbucks, and it will neither make you rich, nor will you get your winnings quickly, but it actually does pay you and never runs out of the gift cards you want.

(Incidentally, it’s been my experience that any app with “luck” or “lucky” in their name is more or less a scam just using you to farm ad clicks. Feel free to correct me if you’ve actually had an experience that wasn’t just a waste of time.)

The only app/websites I’ve actually had decent luck with making any money are NCP and Swagbucks. I also have accounts with Picky Domains and Slogan Slingers, but I’ve only made money from Picky Domains once, and I have used Slogan Slingers once since they switched to making people pay to submit their ideas.