I fear for our future.
When Mom was diagnosed with cancer over five years ago, I was terrified. I was convinced I was going to lose her to the battle, I was convinced I was going to have to take over the house for Dad. After chemo and radiation and all of the different chemical concoctions the hospitals pumped into my mother, she pulled through.
Afterwards, she was given opioids to manage her pain from the radiation, chemotherapy and resulting full hysterectomy. It made sense. She was in pain.
As the years went by, her doctor visits kept bringing good news that she was cancer free, but Mom kept taking the pain pills. It didn’t make sense to me. I would bring up the subject to her as delicately as I could, and would receive the same fierce retaliation each time.
“I need them for the pain, Katie.”
I can’t see my mom’s pain, so I don’t want to say it isn’t there. But where is the line between pain management and drug abuse? One year? Three years?
It’s been what, five years? And she took her last opioid pill last night. Unfortunately, it wasn’t because she wanted to, but because her doctors wouldn’t refill her prescription without going to a pain specialist, which she cannot afford.
So now, she faces a new battle, and I’m not entirely sure I feel sorry for her this time. My mother has always been an addict. She’s addicted to coffee, chocolate, cigarettes, gambling, weed, and I’m pretty sure she’s a Judge Judy addict as well (but who isn’t?). She has an addictive personality. She strives to control every aspect she can of her life with ritual and repetition, and that includes her addictions. I want to see my mom make it through this withdrawal and as terrible as that sounds, it’s only because I have a feeling a lot of this pain is in her mind.
She loves to build things up in her mind more than what they truly are. And that’s anxiety and depression talking (she’s addicted to those medications as well), however, I wonder if she can exist happily without the aide of a fucking pill. Or a cigarette. Or a constant distraction of a television judge that doesn’t reflect our court system accurately whatsoever.
I hope with all of my might that she can get through this. I hope she can push through and not spend the extra hundreds of dollars we don’t have to see a specialist just so she can get her fix.
And on the flip side– maybe this is all in my head. Maybe her pain is real. There can be irreversible damage done when people go through chemo and radiation. I don’t want to diminish her feelings or her pain at all, but I know that she (and her entire family) enjoy making company with misery. I mean, whenever we have family reunions, the first thing my aunts and uncles do is compare medical stories. “I had my hip replaced last month,” “Well, I had pneumonia for 14 months straight,” “Oh yeah? Well I’m pretty sure I have the black plague.” Sibling rivalry, I swear. I wonder if that’s how it’s always been in their family.
Perhaps there’s some mental and emotional residual pain they all experience from seeing their mom go through brain cancer. I know my Aunt Cathy, according to my mom, has been acting very much like my Grandma in her last months. But again, the same with Cathy, I’m not entirely sure what she’s suffering from besides emphysema. And yet, she seems to be really slipping both physically and mentally. (Now that I think about it, a lack of oxygen to the brain can probably do terrible things.)
But back to Mom. On one hand, I hope her pain is real, because then I’d be wrong, and I want to be wrong. I want to think that my mom really does have pain and these opioids don’t have such a stronghold on the person I admire most. But I’ve known the lady for 30 years. I like to think I know her. I pray to gods she gets through this all on her own. Without help. And without smoking herself to death, which, I’m sure is probably around the corner.
I wish she could see how wonderful she is, how strong she is, how smart she is. Then maybe she would have more encouragement to get out of the house, to try and find a hobby or a job, or something to do besides sit and waste away.
That was the worst part about this cancer. After she got through the cancer, she gave up. She went back to smoking. She went back to being less active. She’s become a shadow of her former self. I miss my mom and she’s still alive. How does that work? What the hell kind of game is this?
Keep fighting, Mom. Keep fighting.
As I let this ever-present topic consume all of my brain capacity, as the details of the local incident come to the surface, and as the social media pages run rampant with bits and pieces of story that may or may not be true, I’m left to digest what I know of my own experiences with bullying in my community.
Part of my thinks, half of the people at the school board meeting last night were bullies to the members on the school board. I understand these people are upset, but is there anything the school board really could have done to resolve the issue before it happened? I wonder how the parents of both the victim and the perpetrators are handling all of this coming out into the eyes of the entire state. I know some of the parents of those kids. I know some of the siblings of those kids. I know none of them are perfect.
There are moments, bits and pieces of what was said at the meeting that replay over and over. A pastor spoke up and told the 100-plus-person audience to return to God and seek refuge in him and his word. That’s a load of bupkiss if you ask me. Too much of our country is already reliable on an invisible god that will not reach down and do the work for these humans (because, in my opinion, that god doesn’t exist)…and so, there are many a person left thinking that “God will provide. God will lead the way. God will do everything for us,” when really, it’s we who have to do the heavy lifting of talking to our students and sons and daughters about how to treat another human being with dignity and respect.
I think back to my own house, where I grew up. I saw violence and anger quite a few times. I watched my father get angry over the simplest of things; he would lash out at my older brothers, or, if my parents thought I was asleep, they would argue in the kitchen. Their angry words would echo up our stairs, and since my bedroom was at the end of the hall, more often than not, as quiet as they tried to be, I would hear every word. I would slowly walk down the hallway, and sit at the top of the stairs, gripping the newel post. I had nightmares for years. I hated sleeping upstairs alone for the longest time. That was the model I was given on how to react to things that intimidated, scared, or offended me– anger, words, threats, intimidation, violence.
Did I let that anger get the best of me sometimes? Yes. Did I push it onto other people in the form of hurtful words or a push, or a punch? Yes, I did. I remember getting into a fist fight with my friend, Meagan, in sixth grade. I remember calling a boy on the playground dumb in maybe first or second grade. His name was Caleb, and he retaliated by climbing up the playground equipment where I was at, gripped my shirt with both of his hands around the cuff of my neck and shook me, telling me not to say that. That worked. I stopped. I remember in high school, making fun of a girl, Stephanie. I made fun of her size, and her name. I was a bully because that’s what someone did to me. I regret doing those things every day.
Regardless, how would “God” help me to understand how to act and react towards people? Some would say it was the mentors I followed and the role models I looked up to who helped me to see how we truly should act towards others. And some would say God brought those people into my life so I could see how God wanted me to act. That takes credit away from the amazing people who did have the respect and dignity of being humane towards others. I’d like to give them credit rather than some benevolent god.
The community has shifted and soured and taken sides. Good and bad. But, no solutions have been resolved over the situation. Bullying still occurs. It still happens everyday, whether at school or a workplace or at home. There is a certain level of having to figure out how to manage the situation by yourself. There are times we all respond with impatience, anger, and misunderstanding. There are times we respond with kindness and understanding and enough of an unbiased opinion/solution to the situation to where things can progress in a more positive way.
I’ve been finding inspiration in the things I’ve been reading lately.
I just finished a book by Rupi Kaur. One of her poem reads like this:
is an easy lazy thing
but to love
but not all are
willing to practice
Practice love, patience, kindness, understanding. Gather information before jumping off conclusion cliffs. Don’t compare your journey through a tough topic to your own journey– they will never be the same. And remember the solutions to those issues are up to us (not God) on how we handle and receive them.
As I sat in my room for hours after a heated discussion at a local school board meeting, I kept thinking to myself, “I have so much to say on this subject, to this school, to these students.”
I wondered how this grey cloud that was cast over my tiny little town would break and came to the realization that this cloud has been hovering over this place for decades.
Grabbing my anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications before bed, I looked at the pill bottles and thought of all of the names of all of the bullies that hurt me in my life. And those bullies didn’t just come from my school. They came from my daycare provider, they came from my church, they came from school, they came from home.
I thought of all the tears I’d cried over the names given to me that I didn’t choose. Fat pig. Disgusting cow. Bearded lady. Failure. Poser. Piece of shit. Queer. Bitch. Ugly….
I thought of the boys who cornered me at a local show and spit in my face, and kicked me and called me white trash. I thought of the girl who spit in my hair, in my face, in my hands. I thought of how she pursued me online, back in the MSN messenger days. Once I blocked her, she sent another friend with another account after me. People I didn’t even know. And they began with the names. I finally stopped using the thing all together for fear they would find me. And it didn’t stop there.
When I was 15, I went with my friend to the mall. We were stopped outside of a Hollister store so I could tie my shoe. My friend went into the store because she could actually fit into (and afford) the clothes. As I waited outside, a large cluster of teenagers came into view at the end of the shopping center. As the group grew louder and came into view, the voices and faces looked and sounded familiar.
My soft pretzel I’d just eaten lurched into my throat as I sprinted into the store to grab my friend to get the hell out of there.
It was too late.
They never touched me that day, but they embarrassed every ounce of blood in my body to a boiling point. While my friend and I booked it down the length of the mall, the murder of bullying crows cawed behind us, saying my name (first and last) at the top of their lungs with slurs of names behind it. “Katie Mullaly is a fat sow!” “Katie Mullaly can’t get a dude hard even if it was her own dad!” “Katie Mullaly is a slut!” “Katie Mullaly is a dumb, fat, bitch that no one cares about!” What’s worse? My friend that I was with laughed and giggled along with the group because she noticed one of the boys she was crazy for at the time was a part of the herd.
I remember every fucking second of it. And it still burns in my chest; that embarrassment, that anxiety, that incurable desire to want to off myself and bleed out on the floor of that mall just so they would shut up.
Just last year, a very old classmate of mine showed up at my house around Christmas. She and I used to be best friends in high school and junior high. We had a falling out over boys…fucking boys…when I was 15. She admitted that she was the one to send her group of cronies after me. Including the guys at the rock show. Including the girl who harassed me over the internet. And once they realized how terrified of them I was…they didn’t stop.
I was bullied by many people in my life. Those words took the greatest toll because, for some reason, I believed those people and I believed the words they said to me about me. I can’t even fathom what people say about me when I’m not around.
One giant fact remains: I told one of my teachers that I trusted. I told her everything about what was going on with these kids. But these kids were smarter than me, they were more charming than me, and thus, they were actually favorites of the teacher that I told. And when I told that teacher the names of the people bullying me? She tossed me aside, dismissing my claims because the girl I experienced and the girl she experienced couldn’t possibly be the same girl. The girl she knew was smart and funny and witty and sarcastic.
And I gave up.
I gave up and I shut up and I started all over with a new group of friends. It wasn’t easy. It came with its own struggles. But one thing is for sure…I can’t stand the names Corinna, or Colby, or Cale, or Christian, or Jordan.
I thought of the kid that I grew up with who sexually abused me for YEAARRRSS, and when I finally decided to tell my friends because I was terrified something bad would happen to one of them because she feigned interest in him? They didn’t believe me either, because that’s not what he would do. That’s just not who he is. Was I sure? I was fucking sure. Everyone carries a darkness with them. Some are just more careful about letting it escape than others.
And as those medicines I took earlier in the evening sat at the bottom of my stomach, I realized that those words, those actions, will forever haunt me, like a VCR tape stuck on rewind and play; rewind and play; rewind and play.
When I posted something to Facebook this past year about our art program being downsized, I got a call from the school’s current superintendent. And he chewed me out for saying how I felt. And that same burning, acidic take over in my chest rose up my throat. As that man barked at me over the phone, my bullies came to mind. And I now realize, even a superintendent can be a bully.
More on this tomorrow. Because I’ve been triggered so deeply by this topic, I know I’ll have more to say in the morning.
I heard a joke at Oswald’s last night:
There was a family sitting around the dinner table. A dad, a son, a mom and a daughter. The father, talking to his young and maturing son, asked him if he knew how many types of boobs there were in the world. His son responded with a shrug and a curious eye toward his father. His father’s reply was three.
“There are the melons: they’re full and juicy and have so much goodness to them. There are also pears, which kind of droop but still have some good meat to them, and then there are the onions that are shriveled and ugly and make you cry.”
The mother, overhearing her father’s poor choice in life lessons, in response, asks her daughter if she knows how many types of dicks there are in the world. Again, her response was three.
“There is the oak: strong, long and is sturdy enough to provide for many years. Then there is the birch, which is still strong but not as much and has a tendency to wither. And of course, there’s the Christmas trees. They’re good for about three weeks then they dry up and the balls are only for show.”
You hear a lot of dirty jokes when you date. Apparently, it’s a good ice breaker, but I’m really getting sick of them. The jokes and the dates….and the dates who are total jokes.
It’s been six months of dating…give or take. And already, I’m looking into getting my tubes tied and my uterus removed and my tits chopped off. I am absolutely disgusted with the male population.
Not one. NOT ONE man that I have dated in the last six months has even been remotely interested in who I am as a person but is rather more interested in my lady bits and chest baubles. Are you fucking kidding me? Pardon my french, which…by the way? Totally not a come-on to making out! Seriously, everything that I’ve said or thing that I’ve dressed in or ordered off of a menu has been taken by my date in a sexual manner. I’m so frustrated. I’m so discouraged. I’m so confused when it comes to why dudes even try? Is that all they want? To breed? Is that REALLY all the capacity of their minds is limited to? No….no. I shouldn’t say that. Men are so much more than that…there’s also money and the different types of games and contests in which they can flaunt their talents to other males to show who is better.
WHY HAVE MEN NOT EVOLVED?!?!
All I want is someone to care. Someone to listen. Someone to notice that I’m frustrated or tearing up and ask me what’s wrong, or what they can do to make it better. I want someone to understand me, and as I’ve feared before, perhaps, maybe I’m just not meant to be understood.
In other news, I’m strongly considering going back to school. For what? I’m not quite sure of yet. I’ve meddled with the idea of children’s literature, teaching, children’s psychology…but I do think I want to emphasize more of my time and learning on children or teenagers. How I get that to come to fruition, or how I am able to afford it will be a different story. Perhaps I’ll just get the books some of those classes recommend and work through those myself.
I just don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I don’t have a goal, I don’t feel like I have much purpose…I can’t see the future; and at some level, you have to be able to see what’s ahead of you, so you have something to work towards. I just feel so lost and so jaded and so bent. Ruptured. Useless. No matter what I put my mind to, my mind doesn’t care.
This is a new kind of depression. This is a new kind of numbness. It’s almost blind depression where the body is doing what it should be doing (working, sleeping, eating, whatever…) and the mind just sits in a grey mist in my mind. (This could totally be Seasonal Affective Depression talking.)
It was only two weeks ago I was in California having the time of my life…and it already feels like it was years and years ago. I’d never felt so happy. There was nobody there that I knew, so no one had preconceived notions about who I was or what I stood for; no one gave a shit about my existence. Let me tell you, that feeling of knowing you exist and you don’t all at the same time is kind of beautiful. But again, only good for so long. I want to exist to someone.
And if I can’t? Then I’ll just make my own existence that much better. I will not be waiting around for Mr. Right or Mr. Possibly or Mr. Thatwasfun. I’m going to start living my life for me.
I want to get out of this shitty little town. I want to have a job or a career path that makes me feel like I’m doing something worth a damn and not just pushing around the small town gossip with a pre-approved broom. And? I want to fucking have fun. I feel sooooo, so, so, so imprisoned here– like everyone is watching me. And they are. My parents are, my bosses are, the people who read my Facebook are. I don’t want people to even notice me let alone watch my every move!
I’m being choked out, like when you put your hand over a candle jar and you watch the smoke fill up and the flame flicker out. I’m flickering out. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just need something to happen to get my motivation going again…
Yesterday was rough.
I found that one of the boys that I really, really liked, whom I’ve met and known for quite a long while became “Facebook official” with another gal. I’ll admit, it stung. I felt (and still feel) our connection was pretty solid, but I think what it really comes down to is distance. He’s in Wisconsin, I’m in Minnesota, and we only got to see each other three times in the two years we’ve hung out.
Usually, I’d be more upset. I’d be devastated. But I really do care about this guy, so I really hope he finds happiness with this lady. And I told him that. I also told him that I’ll always be there for him in whatever way I can be. Because that’s what friends do. Friends or companions or whatever the fuck you want to call what we have/had. I wish him only the best as he truly deserves the best.
That being said, it means I start back at square one (as mentioned yesterday in my moody post about giving up on dating.) I’m sure this subject will be brought up in my next therapy session, and a lot of feelings of worthlessness and shitty self-esteem will come oozing out. It’s pretty much a guarantee at this point. Which really makes me reflect on the last four months, since everything happened. And that’s the date that I’ll probably use for quite some time, considering it was a rebirth of sorts, for me.
So, upon reflection, I feel like I’ve been on somewhat unstable ground, emotionally. And from what Dr. B says, that’s okay. I’m healing. She’s brilliant and I love my therapist so much. This past week, I told her that I’ve felt really guilty about not hanging out with friends and not doing too much extra socially, and she said something that I hope I never forget. She said: if you had a gaping wound and your friends asked you to come hang out, would you go out? Answer: no. You’d give yourself the rest you need to feel better to go hang out. And that’s what I need to do. She also asked me why I was putting my friends’ happiness before my own.
That’s what I’ve been doing almost my entire life! I’ve been putting other people’s happiness before my own. I’m a people pleaser and I feel like I always have been. And where does it get me? It gets me shoved around from job to job, getting taken advantage of by men, and by coworkers and non-profit groups and pretty much anybody I give a moment to listen to. Friends. Parents. Everybody – they’ve all been put before my own happiness. And the crazy thing is? When she asked that question, I wondered what my own happiness even was. Have I ever put my own happiness first? Have I ever allowed myself the time and space I need to feel good about myself? To feel safe? To feel WORTH anything? (Insert Aughra voice from “The Dark Crystal”) Don’t know. (stretches down to her haunches on the floor with a loud grunt) Don’t know.
So here’s my next question: what do I do now? Now that I’m on this path to my OWN happiness? I don’t know where to go…and I don’t mean physically go, I mean mentally and emotionally go. I don’t think I know how to put my emotional needs before someone else. This is new to me. Yeah, sure I’ve taken time for myself and whatever, but I haven’t put it as the first thing on my list, ya know? I feel like there’s a difference between treating myself to a shopping venture and really delving into allowing myself permission to say no and to do what I want to do. It’s a complete and utter “fork in the road” scenario. And I don’t know what road will take me where. I’m so lost. And now, I know for sure, that I’m alone in this. So there’s some pressure in my thinking that says, “no matter where you go, it’s on you – even the mistakes.” Yikes. But mistakes help us learn, or so they say.
This would be the part in my Pocahontas movie where the wind brings all of those pretty leaves and tells me exactly where to go because good ol’ Mother Willow is on my side, but real life isn’t Disney, kids. So, it’s trial and error from here on out for a while. A time for change – a time for learning – a time to truly take time to reflect on my truths that I’ve experienced and find what makes ME happy. Not someone else.
My goals for today: kick ass at work, go home and get my laundry and cleaning done, enjoy the evening to the extent that I can, which may include reading/writing/potentially going for a walk. Tomorrow, I’m going to take AMAZING photos for work at Saturday’s event, go to the play to support my little mentee and hang out with my friend Dom, and then ALLOW MYSELF SOME FREEDOM. Whatever that may be.
I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. (I’m hoping the more times I type it, the more I’ll believe it – much like Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining”– I’ve got this.
(Insert another “Dark Crystal” reference when Gen finds out he has to go on this huge journey without the help of his master:) “Dear, dear Master. I’ll find the shard. I’m not ready to go alone…Alright, alone then.”
I think I’m gonna quit the whole dating thing…maybe become a nun, perhaps a nomad, but really, it’s looking more and more like I’ll be the crazy cat lady who collects books and cats and becomes a hoarder and their neighbor finds them in their house dead simply because they weren’t getting their mail from the mailbox.
I’ve tried long-distance, short-distance, long-term, short-term, casual…you name the type of date and I’ve tried it.
I’m starting to think it’s me. And if it is me, what about me is unappealing to others? Yuck. I don’t even want to go there. Right now, I’m just trying to keep from crying at my desk at work.
It’s just not fair.
I really liked this one.