Saturday, March 31, 2012

Words have power.

In the current landscape of my life people talk about the various -isms. Racism, sexism, ableism, etc all have problematic words. You are supposed to just not use those problematic words any more. I can't sleep at night for wondering when someone is going to call me on my inappropriate words and tell me that I am bad for using them.

One of these days a sex worker is going to be angry with me for referring to myself as a whore because I have never actually been paid. Just wait, it will happen. I will make them feel marginalized. I will be co-opting their language of oppression. At least, this is what I sigh deeply and expect. A long time ago I decided that whereas sex work is a perfectly valid form of employment it would not be healthy for me. I already have issues internally with figuring out where my consent actually is.

When I try to picture in my head what it will be like to talk about the book in public, once I get up the nerve and all, I think of what I might say to scathing people who are upset that I use the expression, "white trash." I expect to be called a racist at some point. It has happened repeatedly. These days I just start singing, "Everyone is a little bit racist sometimes" and I try to respond to any actual substance. Am I racist because I believe that my cultural background is white trash? I think it depends on who you ask. Given the brutality of my childhood most people I talk to cede that it deserves harsh labeling. I really and truly do not know a better way to describe it.

I am trying to not be white trash any more. I do associate it with racism. And sexism. And homophobia. And and and and. Part of needing that phrase is my overwhelming shame that I would not have gotten help at important times if I was not white. Part of needing to identify myself by that bit of race privilege is to acknowledge that no matter how bad I think it was for me... I still was given a pass in ways I don't even understand. There are still brutalities that are not mine to endure. I don't speak for the "trash" experience because people who are not white get an entirely different reception. I don't know from personal experience what it looks like but I hear it is pretty bad.

Who the fuck am I to think I can speak for a neutered carefully non-racial experience of poverty? I think that would be a far graver sin than acknowledging that my poverty and brutality carried with it an air of people who didn't believe they were at the bottom of the barrel even though in every measurable way they were?

My nephew used to work at a movie theater. I think he worked there for about two years. He quit because they wouldn't promote him so he didn't feel adequately "respected."  Then he went on to just not work for years. The hilarious thing is, he has a bunch of stories about breaking expensive equipment at the theater. He thinks these stories are great. He tells them with pride. Then he honestly can't understand why they don't promote him and he thinks it is more dignified for him to sit at home asking for money from his sister--the one who was working fast food while a high school student.

Oh man. There is such a warped perception of the world there. It's not unique to being white, no. It's not one story. It's the whole fabric. My uncle believed he was superior. That was what I grew up hearing. It is subtle. I don't feel like it is a stretch to say that their culture was actually bad.  The funny thing is, not everyone in the family monolithically believes the ad-copy. Auntie is a rather dignified and respectful soul. She treats everyone decently regardless of any part of their "identity." She just doesn't care what someones race or sexuality or religion is. She's doing her thing and she'll smile at you and ask you about your day regardless of how you differ from her. She doesn't see it as relevant. Why couldn't she be the one to create my culture?

That's the thing, she did. She created a household where she adamantly believed differently from the prevailing loud noise in the house and she kept her mouth shut. Silence is consent. The only reason I know she believes differently from the common speech I heard every is because I have quietly watched her actions for decades. When you are bringing up children that kind of dichotomy doesn't work. I have her in my head as a contrast to all the hostility and hatred, yes. But I feel like she is also just a random piece of flotsom in the river of that family. She gets pushed back and forth between the currents and she goes along with whatever happens without raising a fuss. She doesn't see it as her place. That means that when children are repeatedly victimized she isn't willing to see it or deal with it. She wouldn't even know how.

I know that my family being white trash is offensive on its face. I know how charged that phrase is. I use it because it is true. I don't think that carefully avoiding it because it bothers people is the right approach. The right approach is talking about it and figuring out how to stop being that. Silence just enables the ongoing problems.

White trash believe that they are being unfairly persecuted by all the people of other races who want welfare or support even if they have been on the doll for generations. That is my experience of my family. That is why I include that in my personal definition. I was taught hostility with my Pepsi and Snickers. We didn't do mothers milk.

If I am hopeful I say that I don't think I am currently white trash. The problem is I don't know who or what I am. I don't know who I am becoming. I don't know what I will be like. I feel like I am at a crossroads. I'm kind of hard to describe.

I had lunch with a friend. She said that she feels like she spends a lot of time with her kids. My eyes kind of went wide--she has a job! She is away from her kids for at least forty hours a week! How is it possible to spend a lot of time with your kids if you have such a commitment! I have been thinking since about why it is so important to me to be not-separate from my kids right now. (It's not for any moral superiority.) In having two daughters I got to once again experience that feeling of one-ness that exists between mothers and children. I did not get to have the standard slow separation from my mother. The more I read about attachment disorders the more I cry. The idea of being away from Shanna and Calli for consistently more than about twenty hours a week makes me want to cry. I hurt inside thinking about not seeing them for that much time.

I stay with them and I spend my whole life with them right now because this is the only time I will have to repair the damage I have from my mother not being with me. I have one twenty year period to fix these holes in myself. Out of the whole of my eighty-something + year life that means I had twenty years to fuck it up then I get twenty years to fix it before I enter into the next stage of actually being an independent adult. I need every minute I can get now because the wounds are so deep and they are festering and they need a lot of care. I need the feeling of one day at a time separating. I will need that long to be ready for it.

My daughters are not mine. They are on loan for a brief time. It is so complicated to think about the fact that I do not own them. I can't control them. Once they are adults I have no guarantee of ever seeing them again. I have this time and that is all I am promised. If I miss even one minute of it I will hate myself for losing the most precious time I will have this lifetime. This is the only time when I will be able to keep them safe and build them up to be as strong as I can. It's hard for me to do. I'm having to figure out how to do it for myself at the same time. I'm not starting from a place of feeling strong and capable and worthy.

My children will not be white trash. It's not about the poverty. It's not about the violence. My children will not grow up in an environment of bitterness because they feel the world owes them for some undisclosed worth they just have. For me acknowledging that I am white trash is partially about feeling the overwhelming shame that comes from knowing that as bad as things were it was mitigated by so much racial privilege. It is all tied together.

Calling myself a whore is a similar kind of acknowledgment for me. I was diminished to the point where I was convinced that I should never accept money for sex--I just gave it away for free. I couldn't even see any value in what I was doing. I was not good enough. I was not pretty enough. I was not stable enough. But I still would go out and have compulsive sex with large numbers of people. I have had six month periods where I slept with nearly fifty people. But I wasn't ever paid. It's a false feeling of security. Do I actually know what it is like to sell my body for coin? No. So why do I feel like I get to use the word whore? When you are taught by your family of origin that you are a whore and that your eventual livelihood will come from being used for sex... Maybe I am co-opting. Maybe I don't deserve to sully the word for actual prostitutes. They aren't necessarily compulsive sexually. I shouldn't conflate my psychological issues with a real-world profession. But I do and I always have. Since I was a young child I have believed that it is an accurate word to describe me. Slut just isn't the same.

Sluts have sex because they want to. Whores have sex because they have to. Sometimes because they need the money. Sometimes because, well, they just have to. Not all whores are adequately paid for their work. Pimps are a common problem. This is not a well run free market economy.

I try really hard to imagine what kind of mother I want to be. I want to show my kids an awesome example of parenting. It's the most important thing in the world to me. I don't care about a job or vocation or hobby very much. I care about the people in my life. I care about what kind of person I am going to teach them to be.

I don't want to present my culture of origin as de facto. I don't want to teach them compulsive behavior about sexuality. What does it mean to be actively not racist? Does it mean giving up the phrase white trash? But it has so much utility. It has so much purpose. It is so effective at provoking conversations and anger about the layers of filth involved. How can that be used in a productive way rather than just being one more way that another white woman is an asshole?

I don't know. I know that every time I talk to someone in person about why it is important to me they agree that it is "ok" for me to use it as a self-label. I do talk to people who are not white. I don't like this feeling of seeking approval from "Representatives From the People of Color" in order to talk about my experience of race. I cringe when I bring up this topic. I feel like the only way for me to talk about race is to sit back and shut up. My experience isn't important. Only it is to me. How in the world can I create a different experience for my kids if I don't figure this out? I know that if I try to just not talk or not think about these things that I will never have the ability to really change my behavior. I won't know what behavior is important to change or why. If I stop using the phrase in writing or in speech I won't take it out of my head. I will just be censoring myself for select audiences. Silence is consent. I don't think I can agree with the idea that I shouldn't talk about my experiences.

I wish I understood more about what knowledge I am really searching for right now. I'm not even sure. There is a conversation I long to have. I am not so good with the almost-there-but-not-quite things I know of. It's time to run off.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Always with the defensive, this girl.

Yesterday was one of those magical running days. The kind where the beat of the music and my grief match up perfectly. It's hard to describe what I enjoy about running. There are several stretches of blocks in my neighborhood that I use for sprinting. The lines on the sidewalk just require it. When I get to those specific streets I pray for the right fast song. I run until I can barely breathe. I run until I am gasping out sobs and I can barely see anymore because I am crying so hard. There is so very much to cry about.

I have so much grief. I feel like I will never stop grieving. I will never feel like I can move past these feelings. I'm trying to trust the process. I'm trying to believe that even though this cycle of mourning isn't over it will end some day. I just don't know when. It's hard to keep going.

Why was I crying yesterday? It's hard to remember specifics because I cover so many topics in my head. I spent a lot of time thinking about why I am the sort of person to send nasty judgmental shaming letters to. I get them every so often. I trigger the shit out of people. It's the same reason my former therapist fired me. I don't do things how other people think they should be done. In the process I am deeply distressing. People don't like feeling distressed by how "off from the norm" I am. They want me to fall back in line, damnit. I should do _________ in order to be acceptable to them. I can't.

I can't ever be acceptable to everyone in my life. That isn't an option open to me. I will always bother people in some way on some level. Pretty much everyone. I will always talk about subjects that make you uncomfortable, no matter who you are. I will search for that topic that bothers you the most and then I will harp on it constantly. I do this on an unconscious level. I default to challenging people. A lot of the time I'm not doing it on purpose. I believe with every part of me that I would not have survived if I was willing to let other people set the terms of my reality. I would have crumbled a long time ago. I would have to believe that I was who they say I am.

This time I would have to believe I am an addict. I am bad. I am helpless before these things that control me. My cutting, anger, drug use, and sexual activity are bad. I am bad for being addicted to these things. Bad. Bad. Bad. I know. I've always known. I know that you think I am bad. That doesn't mean that you are right or that I have to agree. That's an opinion not a provable set of facts. I'm obsessive (even though I hear this kind of pedantry means you lose the argument I am going to do this anyway because it is my fucking blog and I'm only arguing with myself which means there is no such thing as losing) so here's a definition for you:

Addiction is defined as the continued use of a mood altering substance or behaviour despite adverse consequences.[1] This can include, but is not limited to, alcohol abusedrug abuse, exercise abuse, and gambling. Some defining characteristics of addiction include: impaired control over subtances/behaviour, preoccupation with substance/behaviour, continued use despite consequences, and denial.[2] Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs).[3]Physiological dependence occurs when the body has to adjust to the substance by incorporating the substance into its 'normal' functioning.[4] This state creates the conditions of tolerance, and withdrawal. Tolerance is the process by which the body continually adapts to the substance and requires increasingly larger amounts to achieve the original effects. Withdrawal refers to physical and psychological symptoms people experience when reducing or discontinuing a substance the body had become dependent on. Symptoms of withdrawal generally include but are not limited to anxietyirritability, intense cravings for the substance, nauseahallucinationsheadaches, cold sweats, and tremors.

That's from Wikipedia. I use marijuana under medical supervision to deal with psychological issues. Yes there are technically adverse side effects because smoking is bad for your lungs. Overall it makes my life so much better it isn't funny. I repeat that it has fewer side effects than any other drug I could be on.

Cutting, sex, and anger are all in a hand wavey category. I have a problem with the 12 step language of weakness. "I'm not responsible. A higher power has to save me."  Well... I am certainly addicted to harming myself. I do it in a variety of ways. I don't give any particular method much higher billing than any other. I think that is what he really meant by saying I am addicted to these things. But of course he's blowing hot air out of his ass so he doesn't quite see the pattern. I go through long periods without cutting. I have gone many years between periods where I feel bad enough about myself to need that release. I can easily channel that frustration and rage into other areas if given the slightest chance.

Cutting works to put an end to bad emotional states that would otherwise lead to suicide. Is it a great approach? No. It isn't. But for an awful lot of my life I didn't have a better choice and I think that cutting was significantly better for me than suicide. No one is going to take that belief away from me. I had to cope. I managed. I survived. The last time I cut I had kind of an epiphany that it wasn't working any more. I threw away my scalpels. I have moved beyond the utility of that as a coping method. I didn't stop because someone shamed me or told me I was bad for doing it. That kind of response is only likely to cause me to go do it more and more and more. I stopped because I realized it was insanity to continue. Insanity in the sense that it doesn't make sense to keep doing the same activity and expecting a different response.

I no longer have a life where I need a physical outlet for my emotional pain. Thank you, Noah. Thank you for being my bulwark against the dark. Thank you for providing me with a safe place to live for the rest of my life. Thank you for supporting me so that I can do work I am better suited for and I don't have to go out and "get a job" to prove I have worth.

The emotional pain I feel now I can talk about and find solutions for. I think the only place where the language of addiction is particularly useful for me is where it talks about the diminishing returns issue. Or if you talk about the cost being too high for the benefit.

I asked Noah for monogamy partially as a way of providing myself an 'out' on dealing with a lot of my problematic behavior. I'm not good at self-regulation when it comes to sex. Now I am safe. Now I will always be able to say, "I'm in a monogamous marriage; I can't have sex with you" instead of having to be able to say "I don't want to."  Saying I don't want to have sex with someone is hard. I feel unworthy of doing so. I feel like if someone is suffering for lack of sex it is my job to fix it. I can be a sacred whore, that's fine--but I must be a whore. I don't say no very well. I am going to hide behind monogamy and be grateful for it. I feel guilty that I am dragging Noah behind me kicking and screaming into this change. I feel like I am unfairly punishing him for a problem he doesn't have. But I asked and he agreed and he doesn't really want to talk about whether it is fair or not. It is. Move on.

I cried yesterday because I feel terribly bad that in order to protect myself from my own impulsive behavior I have curtailed Noah. It seems selfish and immature and just flat mean. I am such a bitch. And I'm trying to learn how to tell him "no" in general. I no longer close my eyes and go away and let him have sex with me. It's hard. It's hard to feel like I am not breaking rules. It is hard because I feel like I am bad for not giving him release when and how he wants it. I am not holding up my end of the deal. He is supporting me--don't I owe him?  I told him that thirty years of being a whore is enough for anyone. It's time to retire.

Noah isn't attacking me. Noah doesn't require that I put out because he wants me to. I project that onto him. I fear that belief. I have it. That's enough.

Am I an addict? Maybe? Yes? It seems to be an irrelevant question.  Unless you believe that someone who takes thyroid medication is also an addict it is simply a innate bias to say that the pot is a problem. It's not your preferred kind of medication but I'm a hippy and my doctor agrees that it is good for me. Imagine me sticking my tongue out at you. I also see a massage therapist and an acupuncturist (ok, not since pregnancy but I will get back there some day--I believe in the benefits). I think I should see a chiropractor about something going on in the lower right hand side of my back. That has been a problem since Jeremy sodomized me when I was like ten. I have never been able to get it to stop hurting. Running is teaching me a lot about my body. I think I have a better idea of how to deal with the pain.

So! Am I an addict when it comes to pot? Wikipedia says no. I'm going to go with that. Sex? Well... obviously I'm doing as much "recovery" from that as I can do. I am not actually interested in celibacy and trying to be celibate just because someone else might think I should be would result in me not being married any more. Noah wouldn't tolerate that. He's dealing with me saying "no" a lot and he's dealing with not being allowed to have sex with other people. I think he's a god damned stand up guy. No more can or should be asked of our marriage as I'm figuring out this shit with my relationship to sex. So am I addicted to sex? Maybe? But it doesn't matter because I've figured out how I can have a healthy relationship with it and I'm moving forward. Kind of a useless thing to sit around and go to meetings on at this point. Just sayin'.

I haven't cut in nearly a year and I no longer have my favored cutting tool. I could some day acquire another one, sure. I don't think I will though. I don't want that modeled for my children as an option of coping mechanisms.

It's interesting to me how this evolution has happened. I cut for many years. When I stopped cutting my body as a teenager I started cutting my hair. It got shorter and shorter till I shaved it when I was seventeen. My mother was so angry with me it wasn't funny. I felt like the whole world was radiating anger with me for cutting my hair. I was told constantly how ugly I was and how unflattering my "new look" was.

It's been very weird and uncomfortable that people keep gushing about how good I look with a shaved head/short hair this time. It makes me cry. Because when they say it I hear my mother ranting in my head and I want to hit them and cry that they are lying to me. I feel rage that this person is lying about finding me attractive this way. I try to not do more than clench my fists. I try to not stomp away. I smile. I say thank you. I think that I flinch sometimes and then people simply become more emphatic. Noah certainly tells me that he likes it often. That is one of the things I cried about yesterday. "Hair" was on.

I wonder if my family hated this as a hair cut because of how intense it makes me look. I feel like I have to plaster a fake smile on my face all of the time or I look like I might punch you in the face as soon as say "hello". It's weird. I feel like the effects of aging are doing interesting things to my face. I am going to wrinkle like fuck. All the women in my family have deep lines of care from a fairly young age. We live hard lives and it shows. I look at my hands and I see my mothers hands. I see the rope appearing. My hands are the hands of someone who does manual labor. Well, I don't have deep callouses yet. But I will as soon as I get up the energy to do more gardening. I would have done anything to prevent aging the way I am if I had stayed in a relationship with Tom.

One of the things I cry about when I run is thinking about how resentful Tom would be of the changes in me. It's strange. I cry because I loved him so much and he wanted such a small piece of who I am. I feel bad that after my family he felt so very good to me but we didn't know how to be real people together. Tom lives in a world where "pretty" and "sexy" are such a high bar that they become a vocation. I'm naturally pretty lazy. I don't think I am that pretty and I don't see much point in dressing up a plow horse to take it to town. I know I am attractive but it's different. As I age it becomes more dramatic to me. I am intense in a way that precludes pretty. Pretty is about unoffensive and I will never be that. My perception of the world Tom lives in is honestly kind of bleak. I would not be happy in it. I can't stay dedicated to something I feel like I will never actually attain. It involves a lot of specific activity and specific idleness that I just don't want. I think back over how I lived my life and I feel glad that I made most of the choices I made. I was always running.

A boyfriend from high school sent me a congratulatory message about the half marathon and sent me a link to a marathon training program that is way more awesome than what I had been doing. By which I mean I am so grateful that this program wants me doing two miles for the first few weeks because it feels like such a wave of relief I can barely stand it.  Doing only two miles for the last two days of running has meant I have practiced sprinting. It uses different muscle groups and it feels good to stretch my legs once in a while.

I lost my train of thought a while ago because my cat jumped on the keyboard and then I got mad at her. We had to pause and have a negotiation wherein she glared at me and looked sad that I had thrown her the floor. I sighed deeply and went and got a blanket to prevent her from drawing blood and I moved my computer so she could lay on my lap. Puff's mother gave her to me when Puff was only a few days old. Her eyes were still closed and I bottle fed her to keep her alive. Puff's mother brought us the babies to save them from a rain storm that would have drowned them outside. The feral mama wasn't willing to come inside and care for the babies and she didn't want anything to do with them later, but she did save them. That feels important. I have had Puff for fourteen years. My niece named her. T said, "She looks like a puff of clouds." She is white with grey nearly-Siamese markings. For a couple of years after Shanna was born Puff avoided me. I feel like our relationship has deepened a lot over the last year or so. She doesn't mind Calli the way she minds Shanna. She loves that I sit in the garage alone. I attribute a lot of our relationship growth to the smoking, actually. It keeps me away from the kids and she is quick to remind me that our alone time should be special, darn it!

I feel the need to apologize for my many typos. I stop writing when I am abruptly pulled away to do something else and I really don't have time to edit. I'm not a professional writer so it feels ok to be sloppy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I love getting mail. Sometimes.

Yesterday I got a letter. Normally I am thrilled by such instances. In this case I believe the person sent a letter because if he sends a letter I can only respond on his terms. If he sent an email he knows I would just argue with him and refuse to let him set the terms of the conversation. As is, I don't feel like this letter deserves a letter back of its own so I'm just going to ignore it. Well, maybe "ignore" is a bit strong. I'll stew about it but I'm not going to respond to him. I hear he has me blocked all over the internet. Hallelujah.

I would like to say in public that I am under the care of a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, and I do actually have a general doctor as well. The folks who "take care" of me are professionals in good standing in their various professions. They all agree that I should be on some kind of psych med at this stage and if pot is working, why bother replacing it with something that has more side effects. Does that make it an addiction? Is someone who takes thyroid medication an addict? It's an interesting question.

I certainly need pot. I feel a grotesque amount of shame about that. I'm aware the 12 step folks want me to get off it entirely. Obviously that would make my whole life better. Given the magnitude of my mental health issues I would need to turn to western medicine and pills. Seriously, they make everything worse. But obviously I am a disgusting low life addicts. Obviously.

And because I am obviously I am an addict, that means I am bad and abuse, right? I have anger issues. I've had anger issues for a long time. I must be addicted to anger, right? It totally makes sense. I'm comfortable in that emotion so I default to it and if nothing happens for a while to make me angry I'll go find some moron on the internet to argue with. Since I was eighteen I have kicked holes in drywall twice and punched a hole once. I kicked the cabinet doors off. That is the entire extent of property damage done in my life. That is manifestly an anger problem. I don't hit people at all any more under any circumstances. I don't do that "girl" thing of whacking people when they are irritating. I married someone who finds it offensive so I stopped. I'm not going to be doing bdsm play with anyone else again so I don't think I will ever hit a person again in my life. It's kind of weird to think about.

But obviously my anger is running my life. I'm angry all day every day, right? No? Wait. What?!  You mean the gross assumptions about me might be incorrect? I spend all day every day in a mellow and cheerful mood. I am edgy and anxious when new people come around and I feel uncomfortable. I have this constant fear that people are judging me (but I get a letter ever year or so from someone telling me that I am disgusting and abusive so I think that isn't a paranoia on my part) and it makes me more prone to fight with people I think don't like me anyway. The best defense is a good offense. If you strike me as someone who is likely to shame me and put me down I am going to attack you and be on offense from the beginning. It isn't always perfect. But then I get letters like yesterday and I'm glad I have that approach.

I'm not going to do what people tell me and then they get butt hurt and *I'm* the one with the anger problem. Right. Obviously if I don't want to do what he says when he says it I am in denial.

I am not at a place in my life where I can start going to a bunch of meetings in San Francisco. Not even to make other people feel better about my "sobriety". I can't bring my kids and telling me that I could get childcare from someone who thinks I am disgusting is hilarious. I would rather drop my kids off to play in the park alone. They would be safer.

A lot of the reason I have no contact with my family isn't because I am paranoid about them sexually assaulting my kids during an Easter Egg Hunt. I don't allow my children around my family because my children don't need to sit and listen to people talk shit about me. I'm far from perfect and I deal with that. My 19 month old and my nearly four year old don't need to be in the house of someone who feels quite free to put me down and talk badly about me. Hell fucking no. That is a hostile environment for me and mine. Calling it "support" is pure hypocrisy and it sickens me. No you don't want to support me. You want to shame me and insult me. I'll pass.

Anger is absolutely the monkey on my back. I deal with it by trying to figure out why I am angry and changing the part that feels like an attack so I can stop feeling defensive. There isn't a chance in hell I am going to go visit the house of someone who has shamed me up one side and down the other and not feel angry. Then he will take that as more confirmation that he is right. No thanks. That is a lose/lose situation for me. Shaming isn't love or concern.

That's the part that matters. When people come to me in love and concern to "talk about my behavior" (it happens) I try to meet them where they are and listen. I don't think I am perfect. I listen to advice when it is given appropriately by people I respect. Someone who sends me a nastygram letter unsolicited where he recommends that I go stay in a residential rehab facility because I smoke pot?  Yeah. Kiss my ass.  I'm fairly unlikely to smoke for the rest of my life. But it is a drug I need right now. I guess I'm bad for that. I guess I should abandon my children to the mercy of people who think I am bad and head off to a place that will cause me massive panic attacks as soon as I walk in.

And after I walk in I won't be able to go to the bathroom when I want. And if I don't draw pictures when they tell me to draw pictures all hell can break loose. Oh wait. I'm just being paranoid. That doesn't happen to people. Oh wait. It happened to me. Uhm, no. No thank you. I don't think there is a chance in hell that residential treatment would improve my life. I think that would be the thing that sent me over the bend and I would never be released because they would be pumping me full of frightening chemicals just to get me to stop screaming. I will never go back to a treatment facility. I would rather kill myself. My therapists know this. They don't think I need to go to rehab. My therapist thinks that rehab would be an entirely inappropriate place for me because I am not hurting my life. I am appropriately using a medication that my body apparently needs right now so that I can go on to be a (mostly) happy, highly functioning adult. What is the problem?

The problem is that someone is mad at me. He has shit going on in his own life that he is upset about and he wants to vent his spleen on someone. I'm a convenient target. This is what being the scapegoat means. This is how such patterns continue on and on in life. He acted like the bringer of truth.  "You've surrounded yourself with friends who don't see you(sic) addictive behavior as anything unusual, and with a husband who is a hard core enabler." Yes. I have chosen to surround myself with people who are nice to me and who do not send me nasty letters. You illustrate nicely why I do that. You are not right. You have an opinion.

I'm addicted to anger, cutting, sex, and drugs. Apparently. Sure. Why not. All of these "addictions" spring from the same basic place of feeling unsafe and like I deserve to hurt. I've been looking into the treatment for these issues for some time.  Guess what the first step is?

Safety. Safety, for me, includes not talking to people who are going to send me long letters about how bad I am. Whether I have issues or not it is not the job of anyone to send me nasty letters about my issues. This isn't how you help someone. But it is how you contribute to the surrounding feeling of unsafe. I guess I shouldn't let go of that paranoia of people sitting at home thinking nasty thoughts about me. I have yet more evidence.  Shit dude. He felt motivated enough by his hostile judgment to print out a letter, find an envelope and put three stamps on it! That's commitment! It wasn't even an off-hand email in a bitchy moment. He put effort into it. He didn't open a dialogue about, "I'm feeling worried about you. Are you open to talking about some of the stuff that is going on for you?" He has no interest in my consent. He's just interested in telling me how bad I am.

"A while back you wrote about how outraged you were when you discovered that there were adults who knew that you were being abused as a child and didn't do anything about it. Another time you wrote something to the effect that at least your kids were not being brought up by totally fucked up addicts, they were being brought up my(sic) a high functioning addict. I like Shanna a lot, and if we ever meet when she is grown up, I don't want her to be able to say to me, "If everyone knew my mom was an addict, how come nobody did anything about it?"

This is for Shanna."

Bam! That's class A perfect color shame. He's not telling me these things because he is a judgmental asshole!  No!  He's doing it for Shanna. He thinks it would be far preferable to be on western meds so that I can sit on the couch and stare at a tv and not do anything self-destructive and recover from my "addictions".

I feel the love in every line. Don't you? I was raped over and over. I was moved more than 50 times. I was not allowed to develop any normal attachments in life and I'm bitter about it. Obviously he needs to step in because I am a stoner. It's the same thing as rescuing me when I was a kid. I'm just as bad.

I'm sure I am not reading this is the best possible light. I hear that 80% of all things read in text are read with the wrong tone. I guess it is too bad that this person didn't have the respect for me to ask to talk to me in person, you know, if he was serious about wanting to help me. Instead he sent an aggressive and hostile letter (you can't miss that even if you tone down my paranoia) and I'm supposed to just... what? Smack myself in the forehead and say, "You must be right! How have I lived without such sage advice commanding me how to get my life together!"

Why do I write about these things? Because if I didn't write about it I would mutter under my breath all day. I would slam cabinets. I would be pissed off as fuck because this fucking asshole just god damn ruined my day. But if I come and write about it I can let it go. I went through all the thoughts. Now I can stop talking about when the kids are around.

There are always going to be people who dislike me and disapprove of me. If I let that ruin my day I can just go kill myself and get it over with. There are enough of those people for every day, forever.

In the best light I can see this letter as him trying to say that he misses having me as a friend and he won't hang out with me until I get treatment so please hurry because he misses me. There is definitely a way to see it that way if I'm generous.

But this is a whole lot of shaming. I don't need people in my life who shame me. I don't need to be made to feel bad. That's not ok. That's not an acceptable thing to do to a friend. If he wanted to talk to me about these things he could have. He didn't. He wanted to sit on high and give me judgments and orders. Well who died and made you the king of anything?

Don't worry. I'll tell Shanna you sent me a nasty letter trying to protect her. I'm sure it will make her feel much better.

If someone actually wants to talk to me and offer polite conversation about their concern, I promise I won't write a hostile blog post about it. If you treat me like a reasonable person I'll treat you like one. If you send me shaming text, I might print the whole thing verbatim and I might keep it private. You are taking a roll of the dice. I don't keep secrets very well.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The half-marathon.

Three hours and eight minutes. I only went over three hours because I had to stop and wait in a huge line for a bathroom break.  That took quite a while, it was ridiculous. I did not enjoy yesterday. It was definitely one of my shittiest running days ever. I felt like I was at the wall the whole time. My body just felt off the whole time. I felt sad and lonely. I resented the hell out of the fact that most people (that's pretty much a lie, but I'm going to ignore reality for a bit) were in groups and had supporters. I felt isolated and alone. I don't feel alone when I go running most of the time. I feel like I am running and no one in my life can do that with me so ok, I happen to be alone right now. Thank god I don't have to listen to their chatter.

When I am running in a big group of people it feels different. I feel like there is a glass wall between me and other people. I feel like they are on the other side, where people are loved and supported. Then there is me. Alone. Again. It's really idiotic and self absorbed. There were a lot of other people there alone. A few of them talked to me!

My feelings seem out of place with my reality. Ok, I was alone at the race. I felt sad that no one came to watch me run. I mean, dude. It was in Oakland. It's not like it is inconvenient to a large percentage of people I know. Someone could have. It's always complicated, you know? Yesterday I felt like this running thing is a bad idea.

I like how I feel when I run by myself. When I run by myself I feel like I'm not trying to compete with anyone else. I'm just doing my thing. When I run with other people I see how our paces match up and as I drop back and back and back in the crowd... that makes me feel lame. Then I start feeling shame. This is pretty ridiculous. I have been running for less than four months. I don't need to feel bad that I am not a better runner. It would not be particularly good for my body to try and insist that I be a faster runner right now.

I think I want to run the marathon because I am hoping I get to see my brother one more time. I'm not going to continue training so I can do it again. I saw my mother and my sister and my nephew and my aunt and my cousins once more before I broke ties. I haven't seen Jimmy in a long time. I know that he looks like my father. I feel like I am already losing the picture in my mind that I have of what that part of my family looks like. I feel unspeakably sad. I feel like there is a weight on my chest. I'm still grieving.

I'm told that grief is kept in your lungs. Shallow breaths keep the grief inside you. Running certainly makes me breathe more deeply. I cried as I ran. I missed my family and I longed for them so much it hurt. My family is the kind of family that is intensely good and intensely bad. I miss the good. I can't stay because of the bad. I'm really struggling with continuing to believe it is the right decision. I feel so much guilt. I feel so bad that I am keeping my kids away from my family. My mother lives in downtown San Jose. And she has never seen Calli. I feel so bad. I am a terrible person who is hurting my mother.

And I thought about that as I ran past all the cheering people on the sidelines. They were there to support someone they loved. I have driven off the people who would do that for me. And then I have a pity party about it. How pathetic. So I cried a lot while I ran. It was a very hard run.

I felt weird because I didn't see anyone else eat. I start eating between mile three and four. I take two or three handfuls of trail mix every other mile after that. I run hanging on to my little baggy. Sometimes I feel lazy and I put it in my pocket for a while. In the race environment I felt like the country bumpkin come to town and I'm doing it all wrong. I don't have sleek running gear. I'm not sure I've ever been that close to so much spandex in my life. And I ran in a cotton sweatshirt. I was given a lot of funny looks.  What? It's what I own. Everyone else was advertising a cause or showing off former marathon shirts. This is also, not true; I wasn't "the only one" but there really did seem to be a uniform and we were weird. Those of us who weren't wearing the uniform were quite odd. Oh, and then there were the ladies who ran in tulle skirts. They were cute.

I feel weird running next to people for long periods and not talking to them. It feels awkward and uncomfortable. It feels like a lot of pressure to come up with something to talk about. If I don't I feel gauche. And that distracted me from running, and them. I think that it is because people train at different paces. When you are in the group of people who are collectively running around fourteen minute miles that means there is a lot of walking. But people mix in their walking in different ways. It also felt like some people ran at a slow jog without really having to pause to walk. But they never went very fast. I'm a very impulsive runner. I run at the speed of the song on my headset. I have a lot of slow songs on purpose so I don't try to sprint forever, but I do sprint. Mostly the songs are the latest albums from Lady Gaga, Adele, and Katy Perry with a few older songs I like mixed in. It's a whole bunch of songs that cause me to sit and think about different relationships in my life. I like how I wander through different topics as time goes on. I'm not stuck thinking about the same person in the same way every time I hear any particular song.  It's a slow journey through different situations.

If I try to run without the music I can't do it. I can only kind of stumble along. I don't have anything telling my body it is time to move. I don't want to run. Not really. I rather hate how it feels some days.  But I don't have another way of seeing Jimmy. I don't really care if that is pathetic. I'm not magnanimous. I'm not sure that is a healthy reason. I need to see what Jimmy looks like. It won't be true, but I will reconstruct a memory for myself of my father. It will be the only picture I will have.

I've been watching more movies than usual and recently I heard the line, "You never stop needing your parents." As I was running part of the reason I was crying was because I realized how far ahead of me Jimmy will be. I realized he will probably leave the race grounds long before I finish. Unless I spot him in the vast zoo of five thousand people right before the race I don't really have a chance of seeing him. And I will spend that whole race hoping to see him at the finish line. I'm going to cry a lot. I kind of wonder why I do this to myself.

Why does every activity have to be viewed in the most self harming way possible? Why do I always have to have a tale of loss and woe? When will something I am doing be about something, anything other than grieving? My therapist, God bless her, heard that line and looked straight at me and told me that I will never stop grieving. When you were hurt like I was as a child you never stop feeling pain for very long. It feels like a cross between a harsh sentence and great comfort.

I don't perceive reality very well. I feel isolated and alone when I stand near people. The fact that people are apathetic towards me hurts my feelings because I feel constantly reminded of the apathy I experienced as a child. It caused me a lot of damage when I was a child. The fact that people are apathetic towards me makes me not want to stand physically close to them. Running through the crowd was occasionally terrifying. I don't like being near large crowds. I consider them dangerous and I'm not even sure why. I feel like I could all of a sudden have some need and people would run past and not care and I would feel devastated. The impending loss of trust feels overwhelming. Like if I fell and was injured. I feel like people wouldn't stop for me. I feel like this mass movement of uniformed lemmings all run in pursuit of a time goal and that is what they are there for and please get out of the way. It's not even slightly true. I look around at people and judge faces and there were a lot of people who looked like they would probably be the sort who stop. For someone else. Someone who deserved help. It's not that I think that other people are deficient in being willing to help good people. It's that I think I am the kind of person you step around on the side walk because of course this loser is on the ground again.

I don't know how to change this feeling that I am a terrible person who does not deserve any human compassion and people are going to know that and treat me accordingly. I don't know how to stop feeling dirty.

I'm glad I get to look forward to six months of running by myself. I need the time alone again to apologize to my knee for running according to trying to keep up with people. I wasn't listening properly and that was rude. We'll work it out. I need to figure out how to stop trying to run with anyone else. How do I have blinders on and ignore the people around me. I was seriously spooked by the crowd. I spent a lot of time looking at the spectators and feeling sad that I never saw people I knew. At least I won't have that distraction in Long Beach. I will be just running to the finish line. I know the spectators aren't for me and I can ignore them more comfortably.

I'm still not sure how to deal with pacing off of other people. That didn't work out. And I think I should look up what "interval training" is. People kept asking me about it. I don't understand why. Google is so cool. Hm. Five minutes on Google tells me I don't think I will ever answer those questions. That's not a kind of runner I want to be. Excellent!

I feel like I am feeling like I must run a fast marathon and I shouldn't have that as a goal. If it takes me six hours that is ok. If I seriously feel compelled to go too fast I will hurt myself. I've never run long distances before. I don't want to injure myself and prevent going to the race. That would be stupid. And I don't want to find out about how much help my fellow runners would be willing to provide if I injure myself at the race. Both of those sound like Bad Plans.

It's hard to actually stay on my pace but I need to learn how to do it. That is a lot of what I learned from this race. I am too distractible. I need to not feel hurt by the apathy around me. People aren't mean, they are concentrating. I should be concentrating too. I did start singing along by mile ten. People smiled at me. It's a lot of how I measure my running speed--how well I can sing along. I measure my heart and lung workload that way. I don't have a good silent method. I suppose I have six months to practice, if I want. Or I can just sing along and let people smile. It's not like I'm doing something terrible. I'm not singing loudly.

Time to stop whining and go inside.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Race day

I'm going to leave my house in about an hour to go run the half marathon. It's raining like mad. I can't shake feeling sad. My neck hurts. My head hurts. My heart hurts.

Maybe I shouldn't be running to prove something to someone, but I am. I'm always trying to prove something. I'm always trying to prove I am worth something. Sometimes I fail. But I'm always always hoping I'm good enough.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's an interesting week

This has been a freakishly social week.  I'm thrilled.  It's like I'm not a parent again, only people are coming to my house because I'm a parent.  It works.

I'm recovering from bronchitis. I didn't appreciate it when the urgent care doctor told me I would have been better off with pneumonia because that would have healed quicker before the half marathon I am running in four days.

I've been thinking really hard about the ways in which I feel alone and unconnected, which is slightly ridiculous given that I'm fueling these thoughts with stuff people tell me when they come to my house because they like me. Last night my friends were telling me about their marathon experience. They ran with Team in Training to raise money for cancer research. They both have experiences in their backgrounds that made it a very poignant, specifically relevant thing for them to do. My grandmother, the one I am named after, died of cancer. I don't know what kind.

I wouldn't be able to train for the marathon as part of a group. It's not really just the timing issues. It's because I'm not running a marathon for anyone but me. I feel like a selfish piece of shit. I know a lot of people who are very outward focused in the "why" behind them doing things. I can't be. I feel so very self involved. I want to run a marathon to prove to myself that I can. I want to run a marathon because I want to show my brother that I can even though I don't particularly want to speak to him at the event. I'm actually terrified of running into him and I hope the crowd of 5,000 people will be enough to hide in.

I want to run a marathon for the same reason I wanted to be hanged by the neck. To prove that I can survive doing things that are too hard for most people. I feel like I shouldn't admit that out loud. I don't want to be part of something bigger than me because I never will. I will always feel like I am there on a temporary pass and I'm not really part of it. I don't know how to feel connected to people.

Yesterday someone told me that for a very young child to be overly affectionate with people they don't know is a sign of an attachment disorder. I did that. I went to anyone who was even vaguely affectionate towards me. The problem is that most people don't keep coming around and the result is that I have learned to be bitter and not try to join anything. 

I have been trying to let my lungs heal this week so I have not been smoking pot. It is remarkable what that does to my mood. I've had a lot of suicidal thoughts. I've had a lot of intense feelings of worthlessness. I will never actually be good. I will never be someone who contributes in positive ways. I will always be a drain. I will always be unfit and unworthy. I'm not even sure what I am unworthy of.

A friend said something to me this week that I have always felt but not had the nerve to say out loud: my story is mostly remarkable because it happened to a white girl.  There are many tales of horrific incest and abuse from women of color. White girls either don't experience it or don't talk about it. I've never known how to feel about that. I'm very aware of my privilege. I'm very aware of the fact that I would not have gotten the help I have gotten if I hadn't been white. I don't know how to feel about that. I never have known. It's not like I think I understand the black experience, I'm not that stupid. But I am often only willing to accept advice from people who aren't white. Advice from white people often feels irrelevant to me. Either they didn't ever live in the gutter so what the fuck do they know or they didn't really crawl out.

My experience of advice from black women has been intense. They aren't going to give me a pass for suffering. Everyone suffers. Black women have to live every day with the fear that their son might be murdered for having the audacity to walk home from a convenience store with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. That is honest to god fucking fear. That is real. 

I told Noah this morning that the current debate about abortion in this country scares the shit out of me. It scares me in a visceral, personal way. The reason it scares me so much is because Noah has had a vasectomy. My intention is to be monogamous. If I ever get pregnant again it will probably be the result of being raped. I don't have the hubris to think that won't happen to me. Instead I have the life history where I feel like I should never leave my house again if I want to avoid that possibility. I should only see people I carefully prescreen and invite to my house. That is the only way I won't have to deal with the potential consequences of a child I would not be able to raise with love.

I have had a transvaginal ultrasound. It wasn't pleasant. The doctor was a stupid bitch and I didn't want to do it and she insisted and I was stupid and didn't feel like I could really say no. It was when I was pregnant with Calli. I got pregnant the cycle after a miscarriage. There was the potential that the previous miscarriage was a twin loss and I needed to know that information. That could have been determined by blood tests. She insisted up one side and down the other that I allow her to check with an ultrasound. I knew I was less than a month pregnant and she wouldn't be able to see anything any other way. Even with the transvaginal ultrasound she couldn't see much of anything because Calli was still about the size of a pea. I left the building crying because I hadn't wanted that woman to penetrate me. Unfortunately I'm not very good at saying no when people want access to my crotch. I don't ever feel like I really get to.

I know that right now I am feeling unstable. I know that this is why I am "mentally ill". Because even though I have a great life and I "should" feel safe I don't. Is this really mental illness or is this simple pattern recognition? I don't feel like I even know.

I'm working on part two. I'm thinking about who were the important pivot people in my life. I'm thinking about where I learned different ideas. Where did I learn that I was supposed to exist for other peoples entertainment, not my own fulfillment. I'm thinking hard about how I was shaped. And this time I want it to sound like a story not a bare recitation of facts. I'm scared shitless of writing dialogue. How do I characterize these relationships? Oh god.

I'm really glad people are coming to visit me this week. That's why I argue with myself about my "value". Obviously people do see value in me. Obviously they think I am worth putting in some effort--they have already done so. But why? What value could they possibly get from knowing me? That's what is interesting about writing part two. It's not just thinking about what people have done to/for me. I have to acknowledge what I have actually done. How I have been a person that others want a relationship with. Unfortunately being sober means I feel like I should just write over and over and over about how all people want is access to the hole between my legs.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Those wonderful kids

Recently Shanna asked me why I am so grumpy. This was at a time when she had asked me fifteen times in five minutes if she could have a cookie with her snack. I laughed. I told her that I was far less grumpy than I used to be. I asked her why I sound grumpy. She told me that my tone of voice made her think I don't love her. I stooped down to her level and grabbed her up in my arms. We sat on the floor and I said, "I have never been happy in my life the way I am happy now. Before you were born I was far more grumpy. I sound grumpy because I have a sharp tone of voice and it has nothing to do with how much I love you. I love you more than I love breathing. More than I love ice cream. I love you bigger than the whole sky. It's annoying to be asked the same thing over and over and I do sound sharp when you do it. Please know that never for one second do I stop loving you."

She smiled and then buried her face in my neck while she hugged me.

You know how I ranted about nursing Calli? I was going to wean early this time! She's almost nineteen months and still nursing. I can't cut her off. It's just too mean. We nurse once most days but she sometimes pitifully asks for a second time and I can't tell her no. Pretty much every nursing ends with deep teeth marks on my nipples and me saying ouch. She always gives me a kiss when I say ouch. She never did learn how to nurse very well. When people talk about how wonderfully bonding nursing is they don't explain that it is bonding because it is horrible and you do it anyway. Horrible experiences that are shared are the most bonding kinds of experiences I know of. You have gone through something together. Yes, there is sweetness in cuddling up to your wonderful baby and having them lie still for a few minutes. Mostly nursing is bonding, for me, because there are these two people on the planet who are alive because I went through the discomfort and awful to keep them that way. I did that. I made you from scratch. Every piece of you started out inside my body. It was uncomfortable and crappy. Then you came out and caused me way the heck more pain. Then you latched on to one of the most sensitive parts of my body and hurt me more. For years. I let you because I love you so much. I let you because keeping you alive is far more important to me than any momentary discomfort. All of this pain is temporary. My relationship with them isn't temporary.

I think they are worth suffering for. I think their needs are important enough to let my nipples be gnawed on daily for almost four years straight (so far) and counting. Because this precious time won't last forever. Some day I won't be able to actually satisfy their needs. Some day the things they need will be outside of this house and outside of me and there will be nothing I can do. I can do this. I can do this thing over and over even though it really isn't my favorite. I can. I choose to partially just so that I can look back with absolute certainty for the rest of my life and know that for at least a short time in their lives I really and truly did meet all of their needs. I am good enough. I am enough. Maybe just for now and not for always, but I have done this thing.

Nursing is one of the hardest things I have done. It has been a daily invasion of my body for year upon year. I'm not good at that kind of thing. I did it anyway because the most important thing in the whole world to me is that I be a good mother. Is nursing "full term" really what defines a good mother versus a bad mother? Of course not. That's silly.

I am going to walk a harder road than many other mothers. I am going to be insufficient in ways that other mothers will not be. Life is a balancing act. I will not be able to meet needs that other mothers meet with little or no effort. I will simply be unable to. But I can meet this need, even though it is hard for me. I can. I do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Things I appreciate about my husband.

Noah doesn't always like what he hears, but he listens.
Noah does significantly more to help with the kids than most of the fathers I hear about.
Noah works night and day because he wants to be able to provide his family with as comfortable of a life as he can.
Noah wakes up every day and makes me breakfast.
Noah often comes home from a long day at work and makes me dinner.
If I ask Noah to do housework he doesn't sigh or react passive aggressively.  He either jumps up and does it immediately or he acknowledges me and says he will do it when he reaches a good pause in what he is doing.
Noah doesn't hesitate to change a dirty diaper.
Noah pays attention to me and cares about my moods.
Noah listens to a lot of criticism and responds non-critically.
Noah is appreciative of the work I do in our home.  He doesn't take me for granted.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I have seen a friend this month.

I'm an ungrateful brat. P came over for dinner Wednesday.

I'm not resting my arms.

I have so much going on in my head and I am alone a lot.  If I don't type then I just don't express anything. My friend who was supposed to come over yesterday was sick so he cancelled.  (Good!  Take care of yourself!) That was going to be my first sit down and really talk to an adult other than Noah this month.  Today another friend wants to come over but I don't think she should because Noah, Shanna, and Calli are all pretty sick and she's 29 weeks pregnant.  Don't come over and get sick.

So I released the book and then... sat at home.  Alone.  Thinking.  I'm really grateful that a number of people have called or messaged me to tell me that they read the book.  There are a few different pieces of this that I'm focusing on.  First: it was readable, right?  I'm kind of insecure about my writing style.  I'm worried it is difficult to follow.  I'm rather abrupt.  Second: I really am curious which parts of the story bother people the most or stick with them.  Third: I am curious what people think about their own lives as a result.  I've had two conversations in particular where people used the book as a springboard to talk about a lot of stuff from their childhoods.  I felt my heart soar.  I made them think.

I had a good therapy session this week.  I'm glad I got to go this week.  We spent a lot of time talking about how becoming an adult involves a lot of shitty work no one wants to do.  You are an adult once you learn the systems involved in surviving and you can do them without thinking or complaining.  Because as long as you still don't know what you are doing, you are a child.  And if you are complaining?  You still aren't an adult.  These things simply have to be done and complaining about them is pretty ridiculous.  Who am I going to bitch at because I have to dust?  Really?

We talked about how I have areas of my life where I have strong beliefs about what makes a good person and they make it kind of hard to actually be a good person.  I give other people more slack than I give myself.  I have these really strong beliefs because of the circumstances of my life.  I would have different strong beliefs if I had different circumstances.

I have had a hard time learning the tasks of being a house wife.  The repetitive nature is daunting.  How do you actually get to the point of having a system?  Of knowing how and when all these tasks should be done?  Once upon a time girls were trained in how to do these things, I wasn't.  I just have to kind of guess.  I am happier in a tidy house because then I spend less of my time hunting for things.  Less time tripping and hurting myself.  Less time breaking things because it is impossible to be careful in a mess.  It's not a moral judgment, exactly.  I have a lot of anger built up around people being able to say, "Well I can't find it so I don't have to deal with it."

Last night Noah tactfully didn't point out that I want him to do more and more work while being cheerful.  Maybe I shouldn't be so fussy that I have to do more and more work while being cheerful.  That's what being a grown up means in this house.  It means that there is a lot of work to be done, and you do it, and you need to be a pleasant person while you do it.  None of this work is a personal affront. None of it qualifies as an indignity or imposition.  At this point the house is really forking tidy.  It's not much work to keep clean.

I care a lot about tone and attitude.  My kids are going to learn their entire approach to life from me.  I am keeping them home from preschool and elementary school.  I am teaching them what it means to be a mother and an adult and a citizen.  I don't want to teach them to stuff their feelings or hide their emotions and pretend to be happy.  I want to model what it looks like to build a life where you are genuinely content.  No, not everything is ever perfect.  But I've picked my burdens in life, it seems like even a bit more so than most people.  I really went out hunting for what I wanted.  And I have it.  It's a good life.

My beautiful Shanna is on my lap right now.  She is engaging and fun.  She's trying to talk me into letting her put the NaNoWriMo bumper sticker on the wall.  I think I'm going to decline.  She makes me smile.  I have begun to notice that the lines on my face do not easily settle into smiling.  That feels sad.  I want to work on that.  I have so much to smile about.

I grew up going between living in truly isolated circumstances and Auntie's house.  Auntie's house was always busy.  There were a lot of people coming and going.  I miss people.  I miss feeling like part of a hive.  I live a very quiet life.  I hang out with my kids and that is pretty much it.  It's hard figuring out what conversations are appropriate for Shanna.

Yesterday she asked me if my mother is dead.  I told her no.  She asked why we don't see my mother.  I told her I would explain more when she gets older.  I don't know how to have this conversation yet.  My mother lives thirty minutes away and you can never see her because she will tell you that small stupid things are your fault because you deserve to suffer.  I don't want Shanna to grow up thinking she is bad or to blame for adult matters.

Part of the reason I am alone so much is because I allow other people to have inappropriate influence over me.  I try and try and try to do what they want, long after it is bad for me to try.  I'm not actually good at boundaries, no matter what I try to claim.  I keep my boundaries by keeping my front door shut.  I only have to worry about the people and things inside this house.  I don't have to bend to anyone else's needs or whims.

One of my high school boyfriends told me yesterday that I was always good at boundaries.  Ha.  The reason I stopped talking to you was because I continued to feel like I had to have sex with you because you wanted to have sex and it's not very nice to tell people they can't have what they want.

Noah doesn't really want to talk about monogamy anymore.  He agreed to it under duress and he'll do it, fine.  But he doesn't want to talk about it.  I feel scared.  I feel like at some point in my life someone is going to tell me that they want to and I won't feel like I get to really say no.  People like me don't get to say no.  I rehearse in my head, "I'm in a monogamous marriage.  I don't have sex with people any more."  I pray to god I never get in a situation where saying that is ignored.  I'm afraid it will.  I'm afraid to ever be in a situation where I might be vulnerable to someone asking.  I'm so scared.  Because I'm afraid that I will say no once and it will be ignored and I will do what I do and I'll put my head down and shut up and try not to cry and just get through it.  And afterwards I will talk about it like it was consensual and I deserve all the damage done.  Because I do.  Because I always deserve what I get, right?

I'm afraid that part of the reason I stay home so much is because I can't control what happens to me when I leave home.  Bad things happen and there is nothing I can do about it.  Even stupid shit like losing my wallet.  I feel like being out in the world is dangerous.  Maybe it is for everyone.  Maybe I'm just stupid and I deserve what happens to me.  This is part of what I worry about passing on.  Other people don't seem to be terrified that if they go out they are likely to be hurt.  I feel like I don't have a lot of resiliency left.

The cease and desist letter feels kind of like a punch to my stomach.  It didn't come from someone I outed as abusive in any way.  He's more of a neutral-to-positive sort of character.  And he still wants to silence me.  I should just shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up.

How you spend your days is how you spend your years.  I keep a tidy house.  I garden.  I run.  I play with my beautiful daughters.  I'm teaching them about the world.  I'm teaching them about how all of life is a process.  There are steps you can skip and steps you can't, the trick is finding out which is which.  I read about twenty pages out of The White Trash Mom's Handbook yesterday.  From the title it seems like the perfect book for me.  It's not.  It's all about how to stay within the system and look successful while taking short cuts.  I suppose for someone who wants their kids to be "successful" in public school it is full of valid points.  I don't want children who are successful at public school.  I want children who are successful at life.  Very few of the really successful people in our country went to public school.  Think about that.  It's a broken system.  It manages to turn out most of the cogs in the machine but it doesn't turn out people who know how to run the system by and large.

I don't think there is anything wrong with people putting their kids into preschool and public school.  I think it is the norm in our world.  I'm not very good at fitting in with norms.  I would not be able to "pass" enough for my kids to have a successful public school experience.  As I read that book I noticed over and over how the author keeps saying that you have to "play the game" or your "kids will suffer".  It's true.  My kids would suffer because I am their mom in public school.  I would do things wrong.  They would be punished.  They would almost certainly be weird and different and public school is not kind to such children.  My children will most likely never appear normal.  They are wonderful and great and awesome, but they will always be quirky.

For all that I whine about being alone, I have found a life and a space that fits me.  When I am feeling self-confident I have places to go.  I have friends.  Lots of people like me.  I stay home because *I* have issues.  And because I'm shitty at managing my kids and doing anything else at the same time.  At home I can be all "free range" and not feel guilty.  My kids and I are working hard at learning how to coexist.  How do I get my work done while they have their own work to do?  How do we all get along?

From my daughter I learn that it is better to say, "Hey, will you please help me find the ipad?" rather than "You didn't put the ipad on the table."  Because I sit here and listen to her talk all day long I am learning where my manners are disgusting.  I'm learning where I am very rude.  I'm working on it because I don't want to hear it from her.  I think it is good for me.  It's the least judgmental feedback I have ever received.  I just have to sit around and listen to her ape my tone of voice and attitude.  It's humbling.  There is no one in the whole world I can blame anything on but myself in this house.  My daughters have me for an influence.  And Netflix.  Thank goodness for Netflix.  Shanna is learning how conversations go.  It's dramatic to see how this is working for her.

I'm trying to understand better what my social needs actually are.  I'm looking forward to the Storytelling at the end of the month.  So far I have had one person tell me absolutely yes (yay!) and several others are strong maybes.  I'll take it.

We are also going to a sex party at the end of the month.  I'm intimidated.  I don't think anyone will inappropriately push me (the host would kick anyone out who tried) but I think I will feel awkward and weird.  What am I there for anyway?  What business do monogamous people have being out in the sex communities?  What is the point of going?  Because that is my community, for better or worse.  Even if I never have sex again in my life the alternative sex communities are mine.  I belong in them.  I am sexually deviant.  But am I?  I don't know.

I feel like I don't know who I am or what I want.  I feel scared.  I feel isolated.  I feel like I should never do anything other than garden, hang out with my kids, run, and clean again.  This is my life now.  I chose it.  I should stick with what is safe.  I have never been this safe before in my life.  What is wrong with me that I want to shake things up?  What is wrong with me that I get bored?

I still don't feel safe.  I feel like this could all be taken away from me if people knew how disgusting and broken I am.

Do you know why I keep my house as clean as I do?  Because I live in terror of a CPS visit.  I kicked cabinet doors, obviously I am an unfit mother.  I have kicked holes in drywall (years and years ago).  I yell.  I get so very angry.  Obviously I am unfit.  I do not deserve the goodness and safety I have.

I should go somewhere sleazy and unsafe and become inebriated and unable to say no coherently and forcefully because that is what girls like me do, right?  Is it even possible to hang out with people and do anything else?  I don't know.  I feel like I don't know anything at all.

I am never going to fit in.  I am never going to be "normal".  And I mourn that.  I mourn that I can't give my kids that because I don't know what it looks like.  Instead what I'm giving them is a very structured environment where we work all day long on communicating with one another in polite tones.  How do you ask people to meet your needs in a civil tone of voice?  We're working on it.  We do a lot of "try again".  Because here I get a lot of chances.  Once I walk out of the front door I give up my right to be able to try things over and over till I get it right.  I'm not practicing anymore.  That's the real world.  I'm not ready.

I have approximately fifteen more years to learn how to be a functional, polite grown up.  Now that I'm thirty that doesn't sound like nearly enough time.  I haven't managed yet, what hubris do I have to think I can learn in the next fifteen years?  I have fifteen years to focus on how to teach my kids what they need to know in order to move off into the world.  It doesn't feel like enough time.

So far I have made ~$140 on the book.  That's about half of what I spent on ISBN and it doesn't even begin to pay for the editor.  I have to figure out how to promote the book or I won't be allowed to leave the house to do anything fun until November.  All of my spending money is pre-spent.  I'm not sad though.  Even though this is an expensive hobby it is one I needed.  And I have eight more spiffy ISBN numbers.  (You can buy one or ten and print vs. ebook needs two separate numbers.)  I guess that means I should keep writing.  I can't decide what to work on next.

I'm supposed to be resting my arms.  But I'm so lonely.

Friday, March 9, 2012

First cease and desist.

I'm trying very hard to rest my wrists and I'm failing because I want to interact with the world and the only way I do that is through typing.  Damnit.

Apparently on March 1, 2012 the following (heavily edited to omit all personalizing details) letter was sent to Amazon Corporation, On-Demand Publishing LLC, Book Surge LLC, and On-Demand Publishing LLC.

NO SECRETS, NO SHAME, NO SILENCE    by: Kristine Gibbs

Dear Sir or Madam:

This notice is to call your attention that your organization is publishing and distributiing (sic) a book authored by Kristine Gibbs entitled "NO SECRETS NO SHAME NO SILENCE".  The book puts forth information about myself which are misstatements, untruths, and SLANDERIOUS (sic).  This information can adversely affect my professional repretation (sic) as well as the professional repretation (sic) of other family members.  The information contained in the book has NOT been authorized by any member of my family and has not been vertified (sic) for accuracy.

DEMAND IS HEREBY MADE that your organization Cease and Desist from the publication and distributuion (sic) of said book forthwith.  Failure on your organizations' part to comply with this demand immediately can subject your organization to general damages as well as punitive damages.

Dated: March 1, 2012   Signed: ________________________________

In response Amazon sent the following letter:


Dear Mr. ____________:

I am Senior Corporate Counsel for Kindle content matters at, and I am responding to your March 1, 2012 letter to Amazon Corporation, On-Demand Publishing LLC, and Book Surge LLC regarding the book No Secret (sic), No Shame, No Silence, by Kristine Gibbs.

As a bookseller, cannot be charged with reviewing, investigating, and determining the truth or falsity of the innumerable statements made in the millions of titles in our on-line catalog.  The title you identify, which is just one of many thousands of titles independently published and offered for sale directly by a user of the KDP and CreateSpace services, illustrates that reality with particular force.  In addition, we believe strongly that providing open access to written speech, no matter how controversial, is one of the most important things we do.  It's a service that the United States Constitution protects, and one that follows a long tradition of booksellers serving as guardians of free expression in our society.

We do not take lightly the serious concerns you have expressed regarding this title.  Your remedy, however, lies in pursuing those concerns directly with the authors.  Please find the author's contact information so that you can contact her directly:

Kristine Gibbs (my gmail address)

You can be certain that, if the author elects to withdraw this title or a court determines based upon review of a full factual record that the book infringes your rights, we will promptly honor any corresponding direction not to distribute the item.

Please feel free to let me know directly of any such determination.

Matthew Kline

To this I say: Amazon, you have made me very very happy.  Very happy.  So happy I think I'm going to cry.  Every single line of that book was written with my absolute best ability to tell the truth.  The book is not very dramatic and there isn't a lot of "characterization" because I didn't want to exaggerate and say something that wasn't true.  I wrote the truth.  I will stand by it.  And now I feel like I had a fire lit under my ass.  I'm going to call a print publisher today and get a quote.

It's time to start approaching bookstores.  The book is kind of hard to find in the kindle store.  I need to start talking more.

I wish he had called me on the first day instead of sending that letter.  If he had laid a huge guilt trip on me I could have edited the book when only thirty-something people had downloaded it.  Now eight hundred people have downloaded it.  The cat is out of the bag.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Hey!  What are you doing March 24th?  It's a Saturday.  I'm being brave and putting this up on the open internet because I honestly don't think many people will come.  If you know where my house is you can come.  I will be sending this out as invitation to particular people, of course, but Noah wants me to believe in open sourcing.  Here I go.

I spend a lot of time feeling sad because I don't feel very connected to people and I do not seem to be able to get over that barrier in most social settings.  I like hearing the stories that people want to share about themselves.  I like finding out how other people think of themselves.  You don't have to script anything.  But personally I like sitting and listening to stories that are around 5,000 words long. I'm just sayin'. If anyone likes goals.

What stories from your life make you think the hardest?  Which stories taught you the most?  Which people are the most influential and why?  I would really like to know.  I know some pretty amazing people and I would really like to find out more about why you are who you are.  They can be good, they can be bad.  They can be upbeat or they can be very hard.  I can pretty much handle anything.  And I really enjoy being cheered up.

This isn't a party and I'm not doing any extra preparation nor am I making food.  So you can bring food or we can order pizza.  So far this book is a very expensive hobby.  I don't think we'll be hosting a party for a while.

Saturday March 24th at say 1pm?  Does that work?  I really am thrilled with improv as well.  Truly.  It'll work out.

Dear Amazon, my life is not erotic fiction.

To whom it may concern at Amazon:

First, let me thank you for making it such an easy process to self publish.  I really appreciate that it is easy for a non-technically savvy person to get a book published.  Well done.

There is just one small issue.  It was quite difficult for me to write this story.  There were many many hours of crying involved.  I'm admitting, in public, to some pretty horrendous happenings.  I feel very upset that Amazon has decided to categorize this story is "fiction" first of all, it isn't--I promise, but particularly "erotic" fiction.

If you find my life story erotic I don't want to know about it.  I feel great nausea at the idea that people might think of my life story as "erotic fiction".  That is completely inappropriate.  Please put my book into the memoir section where it belongs.

Direct link:

Thank you.

Kristine Gibbs

They switched categories.  Huzzah!  Working with Amazon has been such a pleasure.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My first book

It's live now.  Would you like to go buy it?  No Secrets, No Shame, No Silence

I'm going to go offline now.  The paper version is going to take longer because my stomach needs a break from stress.