Warrior Princess

August 30, 2006

Reptilian Brain

Filed under: Uncategorized — ggirl @ 3:47 pm

We need cancer because, by the very fact of its insurability, it makes all other diseases, however virulent, not cancer. ~ Gilbert Adair
It dawned on me this morning that, somewhere in the reptilian part of my brain, I still believe that I’m sick and, therefore, weird looking.  It’s hard to get over the feeling when you’ve spent most of a year looking like you’re getting ready to die.  Then there was that 7 weeks when I wasn’t allowed to wear a bra because of radiation.  I wore shirts over my tee shirts to try to camouflage the remaining (unsupported) girl. That was really depressing.  I just had to stop looking at myself in order to pretend it didn’t matter to me.
In reality, my hair is growing back really quickly.  I was still pretty bald in July when I finished up radiation and now it’s probably about an inch long.  It’s curly, thicker and much darker than my hair used to be.  The hair on the rest of my body is coming back really slowly, but that’s okay with me.

I also now have some color in my face.  During chemo and radiation, I was just white the whole time, with dark circles under my eyes.  My face was completely round because of the steroids they used.  So there you are…a white, moon-faced bald person with dark circles under my eyes.  Wow.  I’ve never looked so attractive.  I gave up the desire to wear make up or nice clothes.  Partly it was because I just didn’t have the energy, but it was also because I just hated the way I looked.  There wasn’t really anything that could be done to make me look better, anyway.

I’ve been wearing makeup for the past couple of weeks and I’ve even worn some skirts and dresses to work.  I’m not getting much joy out of it, though.  My therapist asked me last week if I was excited about being able to dress up again.  Um, no.  I wish I were, but I’m not.  Throughout the past year of treatment, I always assumed I’d be happy to be able to dress up again.  It’s just another one of the many assumptions I’ve given up.
I just realized yesterday that it’s time for my three month checkup.  I think that’s part of the reason why I noticed how unattractive I feel.  I try not to think about cancer until I have to.  It makes me so anxious to even think about going to M.D. Anderson.  I feel a little queasy and a lot of dread.  I’m sure everything will be okay, but I’ll have to manage my thoughts until I go.  My appointment is scheduled for next Thursday.

That means I’ll be incommunicado for a while next week.   On that note, I need to write a long email to the attorney who lives next door.  I’ve decided to talk with him about the breast cancer diagnosis.  They had been watching the cancer grow for some period of time.  I did my part…I did monthly self exams and annual mammograms.  Well, I’ll save that for another day.

America held hostage day 1672

Bushism of the day:

“Secondly, the tactics of our—as you know, we don’t have relationships with Iran. I mean, that’s—ever since the late ’70s, we have no contacts with them, and we’ve totally sanctioned them. In other words, there’s no sanctions—you can’t—we’re out of sanctions.” – Annandale, Va., Aug. 9, 2004

 

August 23, 2006

Scars

“The scars of others should teach us caution.” ~ St. Jerome
Sometimes I can be so clueless.  In my last post, I was puzzling over why it was critical for me that I never be anyone’s second choice.  My father.  It all always comes back to him.  Throughout my life, my mother was my father’s second choice, through 3 affairs and 2 marriages.  She hung around–and made me hang around–for them all.  In the end, she ended up with the prize, assuming you could call my dad a prize in any way whatsoever.  But as recently as five years before he killed himself, he went to visit his son from a different marriage and stayed with his son’s mother.  My mother was relegated to my aunt’s house.
In a way, I was always second best in his eyes, too.  I could never live up to his expectations and he constantly compared me unfavorably to other girls.  In a way, when he forced me to serve as bait for the 13 year old he eventually married, he was choosing her over me.  He told me that she looked like she was lonely.  I can’t remember the other reasons why he told me I should get to know her.  It didn’t really matter because when my father wanted something, he was relentless.  I just gave in.  Even though she wasn’t in the least bit interesting to me as a friend.  After a while, things became clearer to me when they began a sexual relationship.  He wasn’t actually choosing her over me in the way I originally thought about it, but he certainly sacrificed me in order to have her.  Writing about this always gets me in touch with my rage.

As for my competition issues, I think they arose from the fact that my father was always thrilled when he could make himself seem smarter than my mom.  He was competitive with me, too, to some extent.  As I got older, he wasn’t able to keep up intellectually, but I continued to let him win in some arenas.  In others, I just didn’t let him see exactly how good I was.
It’s so simple to backtrack.  I guess the answers I get from looking back don’t make me very happy, so I manage to confuse myself sometimes.  As a matter of fact, my parents have been a source of infinite confusion.  I think that as a child, things were too awful to bear.  Being confused was a critical survival mechanism.  I survived, but there are a lot of scars, both physical and psychological.  Unfortunately, many of my ex-lovers had to pay a heavy price because of them.  I did, too.  I still do.

America held hostage day 1665

Bushism of the day:

“They’ve seen me make decisions, they’ve seen me under trying times, they’ve seen me weep, they’ve seen me laugh, they’ve seen me hug. And they know who I am, and I believe they’re comfortable with the fact that they know I’m not going to shift principles or shift positions based upon polls and focus groups.” – Interview with USA Today, Aug. 27, 2004

 

August 22, 2006

IQ Tests

Filed under: Office Hell, Things Can Always Get Worse, Uncategorized — ggirl @ 4:53 pm

(Originally published 9/01/04)

I’ve wasted most of my day today attempting to verify my IQ scores. My SAT scores placed me in the top 1% and I scored 136 onthe last IQ test I took. Big deal. I periodically get really obsessed with my IQ, as if it matters one tiny little bit to anything. I suppose I’m feeling insecure or needing some pats on the head. It’s kind of pathetic, Really. Oops. I’m trying really hard these days to cut myself some slack and calling myself pathetic probably doesn’t qualify as slack. I was surfing around, looking at high IQ societies to figure out if I could get in one. I could get into several, but I don’t even want to be in one. My impression of those groups is that they involve a lot of solving those stupid murder mystery things where everyone plays a part…sort of like participatory theatre except nowhere near as interesting as real art. Boring. If they’re so smart, why are they wasting their time with that bullshit?

I’ve been laying low in my office these days. My stress level rises exponentially whenever i have to interact with j. You know, I’ve given him too much credit. I always thought that he must surely have insight into his own behavior. Other people, including my therapist, have convinced me that I’m incorrect. The unfortunate facts are that he is self-righteous, bigoted, narcissitic and a hypocrite. Of course, while I’m typing this, I’m thinking “He’s just a very wounded person who’s deserving of my compassion.” I think there are always at least two ways to interpret people’s behavior and I always select the nobler interpretation. Though it may be correct that most people don’t act out of their highest self, I have a great resistance to changing my approach. It doesn’t hurt me in any way to believe that people are kinder, smarter, etc. I don’t let them get close no matter what their motivations or inclinations.

The problem is that people (including me) tend to behave in hurtful ways out of their own blindness or weakness or pain. Mainly pain, I think. So you just naturally want to keep them at arm’s length until one can discern each person’s level of self-awareness. My therapist thinks that my standards may be a little stringent. She keeps telling me that if I would venture out of my safety zone, I might find people who could appreciate me. I’m not going to be finding that appreciation at work, that’s for sure. It’s a little late in the day to start talking about why that’s so, but believe me, it’s very true.

I’m supposed to be proofreading someone else’s work and, of course, I’ve been avoiding it by writing this post. They request so little of me. I guess I’m going to try to complete that task before I go. Still missing you, Becky.

August 17, 2006

First Date

“Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone.” ~ C.S. Lewis
I didn’t start dating until I was 17.  I was pretty geeky and not just a little anxious about the whole “boy” thing.  I’m not sure what exactly prompted the young man to ask me to the prom, but I think it was a matter of one brainy, geeky kid finding another brainy, geeky kid.  He could pretty much count on the fact that no one else had asked me.  The funny thing is that I no longer remember which brainy kid was first.  I think it was a guy named Tom, who was a physics afficionado.  I don’t know.  I went to a couple of dances with different guys that I had absolutely no interest in whatsoever.  I was horrified to discover that they actually thought they were going to kiss me at the end of the date.  Wait a minute.  I don’t think anyone ever mentioned that before.  Even a hug seemed a little too intense for me then.  But not for long.

I was a major star in the literary magazine group, offering cogent comments about others’ works and submitting quite a few of my own, all of which were published.  (I know this means absolutely nothing, so don’t think this is self congratulatory.)  It was a small group, not more than 20. Michael was one of them.  I’m not sure why it happened, but one night I decided that I was in love with him.  Until that night, he was just another one of the boys in the group.  I hadn’t even seen him that day, but there was going to be a meeting the next day.  I spent the rest of the night dreaming of him.  Michael was very bright, very articulate and he seemed a bit lonely just like me.  I think I believed he was some tortured genius stuck in a home with people who didn’t understand him.  Like me, except for the genius part.  He was very good looking in a boy-who-wears-glasses kind of way.  Much better looking than any of my previous prom partners.
I made my interest known to him when I asked him to a dance.  You know, one of those dances where the girls ask the boys.  He lied and said he was going with someone who was completely out of his league.  The rest of the school year, I pined away.  I developed facial tics when he entered a room.  I adored him.  He was a year older than I and after he graduated, I was left adrift.  No one else interested me.

He showed up at a friend’s house one day in December.  I’m not sure how he found out I was there, but when I saw him, I distinctly remember wondering why he wanted to take a walk with me.  Not that I would ever have declined the invitation, even though the temperature outside was very brisk.  I had my love to keep me warm, you know.  I don’t know what we talked about.  Just the close proximity to him made me a fucking idiot, I think.  I was just so thrilled that he would even consider being with me outside of the usual confines of the literary magazine meetings.  Hell, he wouldn’t even sit by me at the meetings.

After he left, it took me days to get back to normal.  I was deliriously happy.  Shortly after that, I got a call from the previous editor of the magazine, asking if I wished to go with him and Michael to a teacher’s house for a visit.  Oh my god.  Yes.  Yes yes yes.  I was alone at the apartment at the time.  My mother was in another city, visiting my asshole father.  (That’s a whole other story.)  I tidied up as best I could.  I was reading Dylan Thomas’ poetry and Michael commented on it when they arrived.  We hung out at my teachers’ house for a while, they brought me home and that was that.  At the time, I wondered why Michael even came along.
Shortly after that, we had the annual literary magazine Christmas party and Michael was there.  I think we said hello, but I was waiting for him to approach me.  He never did, but I noticed that he watched me as I chatted with other people.  I was the editor of the magazine that year and felt comfortable enough to mingle.  (Mingling wasn’t then and isn’t now one of my best interpersonal skills, although I’ve learned to fake it when I have to.)  After the party was over, I told my teacher that I saw him watching me.  “Well, he’s going to need to do something more than just look,” she said.  Hey, I wasn’t picky.  Watching was fine with me.

Prior to the end of his Christmas break, he came to my parents’ house and asked me to go to my teacher’s house with him.  I’m not sure I was ever happier than that moment.  On the way to her house, he pulled into a park where people from my high school tended to hang out.  I was puzzled. He turned off the engine and grabbed me.  We kissed for what seemed like an eternity.  In retrospect, I think I should have insisted that he at least buy me a coke before we made out.  I didn’t care.  After that, though, no guy was ever allowed those kinds of liberties.  Hey, I have standards, you know.  They just didn’t apply to him.
That was the first date that really counted.  All of the others were practice dates, wasted time.   It was one of the first times that I ever got anything I wanted.  I mean anything.  My home life was never what I wanted.  The loneliness I felt at school never went away.  But that day with Michael gave me hope.  I could see that it was at least possible to have things turn out the way I wished.  It was also the last time any young man even attempted to resist my charms. That date marked the end of who I had been.  But, as we all know, the good times never last.

America held hostage day 1659

Bushism of the day:

“Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat.” – Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2004

August 11, 2006

For Becky

Filed under: Things Can Always Get Worse, Uncategorized — ggirl @ 3:38 pm

This is the first time I’ve written since you’ve been gone. I thought it might be good to continue our discussion. Your death has opened some new place inside of me. I find that I have a sense of the interconnection of all things. If my physical body was split open, there would be the whole of the universe swirling inside of me. I sense the movement of all beings everywhere, like feathers rustling as we all nestle inside this soft machine.

The funny thing about it is that, shortly before you died, I spent a fair amount of time actually thinking about the pieces of my heart which are scattered across the world. My old friends and lovers have good days and bad days, like what they had for lunch or hate the traffic while they drive to work in the morning. They are out of my reach. I suspect dying is something like that…you leave, knowing that your loved ones will fill millions of mundane minutes, but you will never know how they passed those ticking seconds. I wonder if you ever thought about this and imagined what some old lover was doing at 4:18 in the afternoon on a Wednesday. Doesn’t matter, though, of course. It only matters that you will never imagine anything again.

Originally published 8.31.04

August 10, 2006

Porous Time

Warning:  Some of this post may be triggering if you suffer from ptsd.  Proceed with caution, please, and take good care of yourself.

“Our memory is like a shop in the window of which is exposed now one now another photograph of the same person” ~ Marcel Proust

I always live in a world populated by memories, fragmented and unpredictable.  There was so much violence in my early life that there are very few full memories available to me.  I remember blood or pain–the worst parts, but not how events began nor ended.  Even the terrible memories are sparse.  When I was around 13, I was reading Sigmund Freud (always an ambitious reader, here) and I recall that I discovered the concept of repressed memory.  Not being a very sophisticated thinker and wading in water a bit above my head, I believed that if I just maybe prayed hard enough, I’d find a way to forget everything that had happened to me.  I think I conceptualized it as a tabula rasa event, liberating from the past and the present.

Lately time has seemed more porous than usual.  They’re not flashbacks in the way that one would normally think of them.  I’m not suddenly standing (figuratively speaking) in some horrific moment from the past.  Light has always been very meaningful to me, opening doors to former times.  I can’t always recall where the memory of light is located.  For instance, there are times when I’m in the bathroom and light from the window recalls for me a moment of terror.  Which moment of terror is difficult to discern.  Not that I necessarily wish to. of course.

The memories that have been materializing these days are things like a vision of my mom taking something out of the oven.  Or a random day at school (but not one of the heart wrenching ones). Like all of my memories, they’re only snippets, disconnected from the flow of events.  They’re like tiny photographs arising and falling away.

I don’t actually believe in the concepts of past, present and future.  I mean, they exist for us; they’re human-created ideas.  In the universe of eternity, time means nothing.  All moments are the present moment.  There’s some comfort in that.  I have never lost anyone.  Though they may have died, the times we were together are still alive and animated.  It’s easy to talk to the girl I used to be because she’s still here.  Quantum physics reinforce my view of time and space.

I don’t know why there’s been this shift in memories.  I suppose it’s a good thing, in that not all of the memories are bad ones.  Some of them are very tender.  I consider myself blessed to revisit those moments.
“I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe — I believe what I believe is right.” —Rome, Italy, July 22, 2001

August 7, 2006

August Weekend

“It’s a glorious privilege to live, to behold, to know, to love. To look up at the blue summer sky, to see the sun sink slowly beyond the horizon, to watch the worlds come twinkling into view. And you and I are here.” – Marco MorrowIt was just your standard early August in Texas kind of weekend. The heat wasn’t completely unbearable due to some friendly cloud cover. It’s supposed to rain today, but then it was supposed to rain yesterday. Our next door neighbor, who’s about 80, was out with a sledgehammer in the midday heat all weekend. He’s breaking up some concrete on his side of the fence. Hubby thinks he’s doing it just to irritate us. (They had some heated words recently about who was responsible for some serious storm damage.). I’ve never liked the guy. He hangs on to his wife’s hand like he’s got her on some kind of leash.

I was completely wiped out on Friday and fell asleep sitting up a couple of times. It’s hard to remember that just because they’re not medically torturing me anymore doesn’t mean my body is well. It’s so frustrating not to be able to be more active. It’s a tension I’m trying to learn to deal with through mindulness. Speaking of mindfulness, I saw Pema Chodron on PBS this weekend. What a wonderful face! There are very faint frown lines, but many laugh lines around her mouth. The interview reminded me of how critical it is to maintain my practice. I’ve had quite a few reminders lately and I’ve been acting on those reminders. I meditated twice this weekend. She noted that it’s important to confront what it is in us that causes us to bear hatred towards others. For a while now, I’ve been praying specifically for help in giving up the rage, hatred and resentment I harbor in my heart. Facing my own narcissistic wounds might help that process along.

Hubby finished up his latest book and I read the forward. He’s really an excellent writer and the references he cited were diverse and many. I frequently forget just how good he really is and that it was that gift that drew us together from the beginning. On the other hand, there is absolutely no money to be made writing nonfiction books for university publishers. I thought we had an agreement that there would be no more books until cash flow issues are resolved.

Looking for something to celebrate? Today is Picnic Day in Australia. My husband took me on a couple of picnics during our honeymoon. Very romantic.

America held hostage day 1649

Bushism of the day:

“Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers.For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There’s a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It’s kind of muddled.” –explaining his plan to save Social Security, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 4, 2005

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