Warrior Princess

November 30, 2007

Numb

Filed under: Breast Cancer, Destroying My Childhood — ggirl @ 10:42 am

“Self acceptance comes from meeting life’s challenges vigorously.  Don’t numb yourself  to your trials and difficulties, nor build mental walls to exclude pain from your life.  You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously. You will find peace not in denial, but in victory.” ~ J. Donald Walters

I’ve been feeling numb a lot lately.  Dissociated.  I’m not sure what the problem is, but it’s making it hard for me to generate much interest in anything.  Maybe the prospect of writing more  about my early life has stopped me dead in my tracks.  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

I don’t have to write about it.

It could also be because of my pending trip to Houston.  I’ll see Dr. Kronowitz on December 6, to take a look at his latest handiwork.  We’re going to have to talk about the necrotic tissue.  There is no good answer to the question of what’s going to happen next there.

If we’re going to leave the hard ridge, I’m going to be very very unhappy.  This has nothing to do with anyone other than me.  Dr. Ross promised me, two years ago, that at the end of all of this, no one would be able to tell I ever had a mastectomy.  Well, guess what?  Anyone could tell something terrible has happened.

On the other hand, if we’re going to do something about it, more surgery is guaranteed.  I don’t want to have more surgery.  I’ll never get back to even a semblance of my former physical fitness level if they don’t stop cutting.  Then, of course, there’s that other thing.  Stop hurting me.

I know this seems trivial compared to the possibility of dying from breast cancer.  It’s not trivial.  I’m happy to be alive and well.  I’m happy to have hair.  I don’t want my breast to look like a bride of Frankenstein breast.  Not trivial.

In case I haven’t said it lately:  I hate having breast cancer.

Now.  Back to being numb.

November 29, 2007

Warrior Spirit: My Own Walkabout

Filed under: Breast Cancer, Faith and Spirituality — ggirl @ 1:37 pm

My body is scarred and misshapen now. I have a scar running all the way across my lower abdomen past both of my hipbones (from tram flap surgery and radical liposuction). There are a couple of circular scars below that one from where tubes were inserted up through my body into my reconstructed breast. I have scars running all the way around the new breast. I now have scars on the right breast from a breast lift and re-placement of the nipple (to attain symmetry with the constructed breast). There is a hard lump under my left armpit with a ridge running under my new breast (remaining tissue necrosis from extensive radiation). Though it’s all an improvement over the way I looked after my mastectomy, it’s definitely not a pretty site.

I’ve regarded them as deformities so hideous that I’ve never let Hubby see them. Last week, when he asked me when I thought I might be interested in resuming intimacy, I told him that I’m afraid he’ll be repulsed. He reassured me, but I still had my doubts. Obviously, those doubts are centered in my own revulsion.

I’m working on a new perspective. Every day, I look at myself in the mirror. I’m reminded that these are battle scars that should be respected and honored. They’re evidence of a rite of passage like those celebrated by warriors in aboriginal cultures. I’ve walked through darkness and fought with demons. I emerged bloody and wounded. The scars are a roadmap of valor.

I look into my eyes, searching for some glimmer of beauty and wisdom. Then it’s revealed. I’m beautiful because I have warrior spirit.

For My Friends

Filed under: Uncategorized — ggirl @ 11:07 am


“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”~ Henri Nouwen

November 28, 2007

Dark Matter

Filed under: Destroying My Childhood — ggirl @ 1:22 pm

When I originally started this weblog, I had a couple of ideas in mind. I lost my best friend of 30 years to a heart attack and this was a means of continuing a “conversation” with her. She knew me when I was an angry, rebellious, hip young woman, when I was still an independent spirit unencumbered by adult relationships and responsibilities. We grew up together. I would write posts as if I were still writing letters to her.

I also thought it might be a good place to examine the path from there to here. I was a strange, isolated and abused child. My future shouldn’t have amounted to much other than a life of drug abuse, prostitution and physical/emotional abuse. And yet none of those things have come to pass. Against all odds, I’m a productive member of society, my husband isn’t allowed to even raise his voice to me. I earn my own money (even though I do so in Crazy Land). I’ve never been addicted to anything other than Diet Coke and nicotine. The only prostitution I’ve ever engaged in was limited to renting my soul to Crazy Land (or other wonderland places I’ve worked).

The only way to figure out how my trajectory landed me here in this moment seems to be to retrace the arc of my life. It’s a tough path to follow, dark and disturbing. Sometimes I’m unable to wade through the underbrush to get to the seminal moments that lead to this present. Many memories are lost to me, buried away by trauma. It’s also been my hope to reclaim some of those memories, no matter how brutal that unearthing may be.

Last week, my therapist reminded me of that intention. It was as if she’d wakened me from a deep slumber. However, I think my heart was already leading me back to my original path. My ongoing examination of the events leading up to my father’s death fit into the original plan. Aside from breast cancer, nothing has defined the latter part of my life so much as his suicide.

Some of my friends who are kind enough to join me from day to day have read the posts from long ago, when I was trying to set down the bare facts of my early life. Some of them have come to know me during my two-year (and counting) breast cancer ordeal. Some of them love to visit Crazy Land.

Because I’ve grown to care about so many of the people who visit me here (and whom I visit regularly), I’ve become reluctant to expose them to the past. Most people can’t tolerate knowing about much of it. (My best friend was one who could.) Nonetheless, I’m going to try to retrace my steps and get back to that original intention. It requires a lot of inward focus and, though I always try to be entertaining, sometimes I may not be.

Crazy Land will always be with us. I don’t anticipate being freed from the asylum anytime soon. And let’s face it, if I didn’t write about Crazy Land, it might cause me to have to make an involuntary visit to a long-term mental health facility.

Some days I won’t be able to walk backward into the darkness. I’ll no doubt find other things to talk about. Some days I may blither on about what’s going on in my life outside of Crazy Land. Who knows? Heaven forbid that I should be rigid about this.

I’ll always want to hear from you. I can’t tell you how many times, especially lately as I talk about my dad’s suicide, that comments from you have made me pause and rethink things. Comments have caused me to question my own assumptions and conclusions. You raise my spirits and make me laugh. You renew my faith in human beings. You, the new people to whom I speak, are treasures beyond compare.

Because of that, I wanted you to know that the nature of the blog is going to shift a bit. Be forewarned. I know that some of you carry your own traumas and I don’t want to add any more to your burden. If some of you choose to let go, if things become less entertaining or so weird that you must turn away, I’ll be very sorry. I would wish it not to be so, but I will understand. I will continue to visit you in your own weblog worlds.

If you’re interested in my previous posts about the past, please take a look at the following links.
Just the Facts, A Timeline
Sexual Abuse, Again
The Past Falls Away
Just the Facts, Part 2
Just The Dreary Facts, Even More
Deeper Into Darkness
A Small Bright Spot
My Own Good Reasons For a Suicide
Pariah
Torture
Alone
Nothing Left Untouched
You Just Can’t Make This Shit Up
The Baby Comes and My Father Finds Someone Else He Likes More Than Me

Well, this is about all I can do today. If you’ve made it through this many posts, you’re a real trooper. Maybe I can finish tomorrow.

November 26, 2007

The Decision, Part 3: I Hardened My Heart

Filed under: Destroying My Childhood, Suicide, Things Can Always Get Worse — ggirl @ 2:31 pm

“Rage cannot be hidden, it can only be dissembled.  This dissembling deludes the thoughtless and strengthens rage and adds, to rage, contempt.” ~ James Arthur Baldwin

I did as my father asked and called Shannon. I left a message on his voice mail and he called me back a couple of days later.

Several months earlier, my father showed me a recent photograph of my half brother. He looked startlingly like my father. I wished that I had never seen the image. I wished that I could destroy the memory it created in my mind. When I heard Shannon’s voice on my answering machine, I wished to obliterate the sound. Hearing it awakened all the old demons, the memories, the rage. The images unfurled themselves behind my open eyes. I hated him. I’d never met him, but I hated him.

Shannon’s mother had taken my own mother’s place in my house. She had attempted to make me treat her as my stepmother. Grace. Her name is Grace. Amazing how even typing the name is almost more than I can bear. If I hated him, I hate her a thousand times more.

I called him back and left another message. I told Shannon exactly how to get in touch with me. At that point, playing phone tag was a very expensive game for me. I needed to just get it done, get the contact over with so that I could get my father off my back. My illness left me with little energy to get through my day and the pressure was eating up all I had left. I was exhausted and enraged. I tumbled through flashback after flashback as I moved through my days.

Meanwhile, my father was still haranguing me about talking with Shannon. The only thing that would have made him happy was for me to get in my car and drive there, wait for him outside his house and have some big, fake happy family reunion with this person I’d never met. The more he goaded, the angrier I got.

I made myself clear. I called Shannon. I told him how to get in touch with me at work and at home. If he chose not to call, that made him a coward. You know, if you want to talk to me, then do it. Otherwise, leave me alone. This is what I told my father. I had done as he asked. I refused to pursue Shannon any further. The suggestion that I might made me want to set a building on fire and watch it burn.

My father dropped the issue for a while. Then he called me in the middle of a chaotic afternoon and demanded that I call again.

“No,” I told him. “Not only will I not call him again, I don’t want to hear from you, either. Ever.”

My father was astounded. I’m certain he never expected to hear those words from me. I was prepared to enforce the separation. He continued to try to negotiate with me, but he’d finally gone too far. We ceased to have regular contact.

November 21, 2007

Wasp

“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain.  But you have already borne the pain.  What you have not done is feel all you are beyond the pain.” ~ St. Bartholomew

I hate the holidays. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. I think, for a while when I was very young, I imagined that there was some possibility for “happy” holidays, but I don’t think the vision was well-developed or lasted very long.

When I was a child, the holiday season always meant at least a solid month of my dad enjoying his favorite sport even more regularly than usual. His favorite sport was hurting people. My birthday, the days leading up to Thanksgiving, from then until New Year’s day, Easter–they were all really fine excuses to engage in torture. Sometimes it would last for an hour or so, sometimes a day, sometimes many days. He tortured my mom. He tortured me. He tortured us both. Sometimes he tortured my pets.

It’s funny that I’d forgotten how easy it is to dissociate when I think back to those times. I feel blank. My brain has clicked to a different channel. The channel is called “Numb.”

Just to add some extra zest to the whole holiday festivities, my dad upped the ante by killing himself nine days before my birthday, a bare month from Thanksgiving. That event has cast a lovely glow over the holidays, too.

The weather is changing. Right now, the sun is shining and I’m watching leaves being blown off the trees. Tomorrow, it will be cold and windy. While I get ready for Thanksgiving dinner, the past will be replaying itself in the back of my mind. No one will hearing it buzzing around in my brain like a wasp.

I hate the holidays.

November 19, 2007

Monday in Crazy Land

Filed under: Crazy Land, Things Can Always Get Worse — ggirl @ 2:34 pm

Owner was out of the office a couple of days last week while his office was being painted.  He’s back today and unhappy with the paint job.  That’s entirely predictable.  Owner is one of the pickiest people I’ve ever known.  Hemorrhoid Guy, as a joke, left the vacuum cleaner and some Pledge furniture polish right outside Owner’s door.  Owner’s attention to detail is legendary.  (Note to self:  If you’re going to call him that, try to learn how to spell the word, “hemorrhoid.”)

Even though he hates the paint job, Owner sashayed over to my office a little while ago to ask me if I’d like to have my office painted.  Not particularly.  That means I’m going to have to move a bunch of stuff and probably end up working in Loathsome’s office in the interim.  After I move back in, I’ll have to inhale paint fumes for a week or so until they dissipate.  He asked me that question two weeks ago and I told him then I’m fine with the way things are.  He’s decided we’re going to paint my office.

Then Owner made me follow him around, pointing out to me how much the entire place needs paint.  Maybe we could paint everything else first and get to me sometime late in 2008.  Or early 2009.

“What if someone were to come here?”

Well, people come here every day and we try to distract them from noticing by making them fill out employment forms and lecturing them about safety.  No one yet has commented on that smudge above the copier.

I received an injury report a little while ago.  Yes, I love getting those.  One of our female employees was lifting a pallet on Friday and hurt her back.  Did she report it then?  No.  Why?  Because she didn’t think it was a big deal.  I called her foreman and told him to have her call me.

Hurt Girl called me in about half an hour.  After some time-consuming pleasantries, I asked her if she’d seen a doctor.

“Well, no,” she said, “I think I just strained it on Friday and I soaked it in the spa all weekend and it’s not any better.  I thought I’d report it just in case.”

“Well, ‘just in case’ I need for you to see a doctor.”  Yes, I’m a bitch.

“I don’t have a regular doctor.  Can you recommend one?”

I told her I can’t recommend one, but I can find her a doctor who’s listed on our worker’s comp HMO list.  I gave her the name of someone we use regularly.

“But I live in (fill in name of small town about 20 miles from here).  Can you find me a doctor there?”

The answer to that question is that I should be able to, by checking in on our insurance company’s website.  I typed in the URL and waited.  This is the message I got:

Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.  (Most of my requests in life have apparently been made in a way that will never complete.  How appropriate.)

I tried it again.  Same message.  I told my injured employee I’d call her back.  I called my insurance company and asked them to find a provider.  I sat on hold for 20 minutes, then the woman got back on the line and said she was having problems.  Really?  I asked if she’d like to call me back.

I received an email 3 hours later.  Let me repeat.  Three hours.  It’s a good thing no one’s bleeding to death.  She couldn’t get access to her own company’s website so she sent me an excel spreadsheet with names of doctors.  They were not organized by name, by specialty or by city.  Yeah.  This is mighty damn helpful.

I located some potential doctors and called the Hurt Girl back.  I gave her a couple of names and told her to see them so she can start feeling better and I can complete my report.  She called me back in 10 minutes to tell me that one of the doctors doesn’t accept workers compensation patients (even though they’re on my list) and the other didn’t answer the phone.

I gave her some more names and now I’m waiting to hear that none of those doctors accept worker’s comp, either.  Our insurance company is a nationally known, highly reputable provider.  They do an excellent job of taking Crazy Land’s  astronomically high monthly premiums.  This whole HMO thing was supposed to be the way Insurance Company was going to keep a lid on those ever-increasing medical costs.  I guess the best way to do that is to make sure no one ever sees a doctor.

Well, Hurt Girl hasn’t called back.  In exactly one hour and 25 minutes, my day here will be over.  The time can not possibly pass quickly enough.

November 16, 2007

Loathsome and Crazy Employee Friday

Filed under: Crazy Land, Things Can Always Get Worse — ggirl @ 1:27 pm

“In individuals, insanity is rare, but in groups, parties, nations and epochs it is the rule.” ~ Fredrich Nietschze (He got at least part of it right.)

It’s been a busy day here in Crazy Land.  Work, work, work.  Don’t they know I have more important things to do?

Good news:  Loathsome is back on the big project and out of the office.  Bad news:  He’s been calling about every 30 minutes with computer problems.  Lying Boy (our fabulous IT “professional”) has been out, so I’ve been the designated go-to girl.  Basically, that means that I listen to him whine for a while, tell him (for the umpteenth time) that I can’t help him, then I wait for his next call.  The scuttlebutt around the office is that he’s unhappy with the onsite printer he’s been given.  It’s old.  Loathsome does not do old.  Unless it’s really, really old (like antique Tibetan Buddhist altars) or he can dress it up in coordinated, tasteful clothing.

Mr. Moneybags swears that Loathsome is sabotaging the printer so he can get a brand, spanking new one.  I don’t know.    Mr. Moneybags has an obsession with co-workers sabotaging things from databases to (now) printers.  It could just be another manifestation of this particular nuttiness.  I do know that Loathsome only wants the shiniest, newest, most aesthetically pleasing everythingThat would, of course, include printers.

I’m officially taking wagers on how long it will be before he drops another multi-million dollar tool.  Second wager is how long he will hide the fact that he’s done it again.  Get your dollars in now.  You snooze, you lose.  My best (based on previous experience) estimate is about a week until the accident.  We won’t find out about it for two or three.

I’ve been filling out Environmental Health and Safety forms (part of my ever so eclectic job description) all morning for Hemorrhoid Guy.  Every last one of our clients asks for different information.  The same client can require different types of information from year to year.  It’s fine; I only have to search through old files to ferret out the bits of data to suit their capricious desires.

Hey, I’m versatile.  I’m flexible.  I have no problem with said searching.  The hitch in the whole process is that, though Crazy Employee has graced us with her presence, she’s too busy making personal calls to answer the phone.  The Information Superhighway and the receptionist were both out this morning, so I was answering the phone.  (Hence the ongoing Loathsome encounters.)  It slows down the data search considerably.

That brings me to the final Crazy Land anecdote for the day.  It’s time for Crazy Employee to update the employee manuals.  We have new workers’ comp insurance forms that haven’t been included in all of the old manuals.  When Information Superhighway told Crazy that she’d given the last of the manuals to The Ladies’ Man, Crazy replied that she’d just had the receptionist put some more together.  Superhighway repeated the problem, then took Crazy over to show her the empty cabinets where the manuals should be.

No, this time Crazy Employee did not cry.  Let me not understate the significance of this show of self-control.  However, she did grab a handful of hair from both sides of her head and moaned “Oh God, no!”  Even the residents of Crazy Land are baffled by her hatred of the dreaded employee manuals.

Crazy doesn’t have to copy them; we send them to Kinkos.  She doesn’t have to punch holes.  She does not have to collate.  All she has to do is place the main text in a binder, with pages that require signatures in the front pockets.  The back pocket contains special information (like workers’ comp insurance information, for instance).  And it turns out she’s delegating the task to the receptionist.  That’s what we all love about Crazy Employee.  She’s completely incomprehensible.

I have therapy today, so it’s an early day for me.  I probably won’t get around to checking in on my blog friends or even responding to comments and posts.  I’ll be back to my regular routine as soon as possible.

November 15, 2007

News Flash: Veggie Platter Located

Filed under: Crazy Land — ggirl @ 2:34 pm

Apparently, veggie platter was lost in the refrigerator.  It has been located and people are now eating it.  I guess that means I’ll have to bring something next time.  I guess that means I won’t be spitting in it, either.  It’s a mixed blessing, really.

Why My Dad Made The Decision, Part 2

Filed under: Destroying My Childhood, Things Can Always Get Worse — ggirl @ 10:48 am

“I believe that more unhappiness comes from this source than from any other–I mean from the attempt to prolong family connections unduly and to make people hang together artificially who would never naturally do so.” ~ Samuel Butler

I didn’t see my dad for about a year before he died.  He’d been married before he met my mom and had a son from that marriage.  They never had a relationship while his son (Shannon) was growing up.  My father liked to cry and feel sorry for himself about it every once in a while.

I spoke with my parents for an hour every day after I moved out of their house.  A year before Dad checked out, he started calling me a couple of times every day, haranguing me to get in touch with Shannon.  It was critical to the development of their relationship.  My father had always made me feel that he’d sacrificed having a boy to provide financially for me.   When I was a little girl, I believed it was my fault.  It made me angry.  It bruised my soul.

I’ve never had any interest in getting to know Shannon.  I resented him, the Golden Child left behind.  I do not feel connected to him.  For me, sharing a genetic link doesn’t imply a relationship, although it’s likely that Shannon is possessed by the same madness that infected my father and everyone else in his family.  Why would I invite that into my life?  It’s a terrifying possibility.

Furthermore, I thought my father used his blossoming relationship with his son to carry on with his first wife.  Before he started nagging me about it, my father had gone to the state where his son and ex lived (and where virtually all of my father’s family lived) for a visit.  He stayed at his ex-wife’s house and my mom stayed at my aunt’s house.  When I found out about that, I was enraged.  I didn’t want to do anything that would encourage that kind of behavior.

My dad didn’t have a lot of good things to say about Shannon, most notably, that he had a drinking problem.  I’ve had a rule since I was a teenager:  I don’t have relationships with addicts who aren’t in recovery.  I was very ill at the time and the thought of receiving some of those 3:00 a.m. phone calls that alcoholics like to make ratcheted up my already-high anxiety level.

Nonetheless, I finally gave in.  I called Shannon and left a message.

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