Monday, January 31, 2011

I DO, I DID, I DON'T

I don't ever remember dreaming of one day getting married when I was a child. My dreams were more centered around either fantasy or faraway places. When I did grow up and was in a serious relationship that eventually led to marriage, it didn't take long for me to know I had made a huge mistake.

For me, marriage seemed alright in theory, but when it came time to apply the theory to everyday life, what I found was that everyday life is a real ruthless bitch sometimes. Instead of immediately doing an exit stage left, I let my first marriage drag on for almost 10 years. I could say, it was for the kids' sake, but I'd be lying. The truth was I didn't know how to walk away by myself. I was more willing to stay in something that was clearly wrong than to find the courage to leave. I exited that relationship by starting another and another and another. For a very long time I had the morals of a common alley cat.

Looking back I can clearly see how my rebellious streak played a pivotal part in my decisions where men were concerned. If my friends and family hated the guy then he was the one I would pick. Red flags? I simply disregarded all of them! With my first husband, I say I overlooked his drinking problem until we actually lived together under one roof and we didn't live together until we got married. While we dated I just didn't see any evidence of alcoholism. I ask myself now did I overlook it because I wanted to overlook it or was he that good in covering it? I guess at this point, it really doesn't matter. What matters now is that although hindsight may be 20/20, foresight can also have the same clarity.

What also matters is the pattern I established early on in life. Instead of saving myself, each time I started a relationship it was a destructive one that whittled away at my core. I guess the truth isn't that I'm actually afraid of getting involved again due to the kind of men I attract. I'm afraid of myself and my need to be self destructive. I'm afraid of my impaired judgment. I'm afraid of history continually repeating itself.

The "funny" thing about my pattern is that over time it got worse and not better. I went from copying my mother and marrying a drunk to getting involved with someone so evil I dubbed him "The Anti-Christ" to marrying an actual nutcase to cruising the internet for hook-ups and everything imaginable inbetween each. We always rag on men for being dogs, but where sex was concerned I was far worse than any man.

I guess I'm being pretty hard on myself, but it's necessary so I'll finally allow myself to start to mend. It's necessary for me to connect the dots from being repeatedly abused as a child to wanting someone to prove to me that not all men are bad. I need to connect the dots of seeing that instead of finding someone who would love me, I punished myself by choosing those people who would reinforce all my fears. Failing in love was so much easier than succeeding has ever been.

Gratitude statement: Today, I'm thankful for riding the tides of love and hate and for knowing I can do far better than I have in the past. If love ever comes knocking again I feel I have the right tools to be able to love a good man.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

FROM THE CUCKOOS NEST

I've been restless all weekend. Part of my restlessness was due to the subject matter I started on Friday and part of it is due to the increased pain in my back and neck. It wasn't until just a few minutes ago that I connected the dots and saw one has caused the other. Does this mean discussing certain things is wrong and should be avoided?

I feel like there are many things I've never expressed regarding my marriage. I've kept them locked inside and today I sit here almost terrified to think of ever getting involved with someone again. Did my marriage cause this fear to emerge? I think in part, it may have, but more than my failed marriage, it's the accumulation of a lifetime of failed relationships.

I'm an intelligent woman, yet I always select partners with whom a successful relationship is a long shot. I see the pattern. I see why the relationships didn't work and yet, I seem to be that proverbial moth attracted to a flame. Was putting myself in "time-out" the right thing to do or has it had the same effect on me as someone who suffers from agoraphobia who never goes outside the confines of their home?

I feel as if I have punished myself enough, but I don't know how or when to do something different. I feel as clueless as a teenager first exploring the opposite sex. Do I? Don't I? How far is too far? Will I lose myself again in the process of answering these questions? Although I've learned it's better to be alone than it is to be with the wrong person, I wonder if I should just be content with flying solo? Are there people who shouldn't have intimate relationships and am I one of those people?

Gratitude statements: I'm thankful I haven't grown so complacent that I stop questioning myself and life.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

WHEN ONE FLIES OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST

Like the great Phoenix, Mildred Ratched arose from the ashes. Actually, she arose when her survival mode finally kicked in. She had weathered all the ECT's they gave him all the while not knowing how to feel about the act of sending an electric shock through a person's brain. From the outside looking in it appeared as if that sudden burst of electricity seemed to disrupt a person's whole psyche starting with the short term memory first. After about 20 shock treatments, she was convinced that they "worked" because any person receiving them simply forgot they were depressed. They forgot the trauma and stress. The brain had temporarily short-circuited and was trying to reboot. With an altered reality and a new regimen of drugs, she began to wonder if the person she first met would ever return. Even though she felt he now measured her worth in what she could do for him, she remained hopeful!

Mildred coped with the episodes of him nodding off with lit cigarettes with justified fears. Since he slept very little at night because this was when the psychotic episodes happened and his inner demons came to life, he stayed perched in the livingroom downstairs where he and his Lazyboy could become one. Mildred confiscated the hatchet he kept under his side of the bed "for protection" knowing she was safer without it being there. Protection from what? How does one really stay protected from the figments of their own imagination that lurk in the darkest recesses of their mind? She looked towards the future and knew the day would come when those demons no longer existed. She remained hopeful!

Yes, he and the Lazyboy became well acquainted while she fell asleep each night wondering if it would be her last. Each day she saw new evidence from all the burn marks on the furniture that it was a real possibility that he would burn down the house one night while battling his demons. Reality suggested that since all the bedrooms were upstairs, anyone asleep there would probably not make it out of the house if a fire started. After smoking for 27 years, Mildred quit so she would have better leverage to get him to quit. Smoking had already effected his general health and now while he battled issues like congestive heart failure, she knew quitting was the only sane thing for him to do. Did I really write "sane"? Even when the issue eventually erupted into rage on his part and he punched Mildred in the face, she remained hopeful!

As he sank deeper into his own little world rarely doing anything more strenuous than holding the remote control, it became glaringly apparent he was extremely over-medicated. As he went to both VA doctors and civilian doctors, neither set checked with what the other was doing. Both had labeled him with a different disgnosis and both gave him different treatment plans. Mildred finally stepped in demanding that the VA doctors address the issue not next week and not tomorrow. She wanted it addressed NOW! Their idea of addressing the issue was to whisk him off to the VA hospital in Biloxi, Mississippi where they abruptly stopped all his meds. Yes, you read "abruptly" correct! What Mildred got back in two weeks was a person in a full blown manic state with not only having delusions of grandeur, but also heightened paranoia and hallucinations. Mildred remained hopeful right up until the day he left taking with him just about everything they owned.

With him went their only means of transportation, 90% of all their belongings (Mildred got to keep the pissed soaked mattress and some dishes) and all their money. As one flew over the cuckoos nest, the other one remained to try to rebuild a shattered life. She did feel some sense of relief to know the guns were finally gone. Yes, I said guns! This is another case of someone who shouldn't be allowed to own a gun who owns not one, but ten "for protection". Mildred says in her most sarcastic tone, "We all need to feel safer because the Second Amendment gives people the right to bear arms!"

Gratitude statement: Although you're probably expecting the statement to read that I'm thankful because I no longer have this cross to bear, what I'm really thankful for is being able to have experienced mental illness is such a personal way and still remain hopeful.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, January 28, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JIM

A few days ago I rambled on about building bridges without really taking a look at the bridges I build. For some reason, I rarely burn the bridges I build. In fact, I would have to say once a person plays a significant role in my life, they remain in my life unless they choose to depart and burn the bridge we have. Often times people from my past are placed on a period of PAUSE to be revisited at some later date when I can safely press the PLAY button again. I'm now wondering why I have a need to stay connected to people...why is letting go so difficult for me???

Today is my ex-husband's birthday and although I'm sure many of you may be expecting a tale with gory details Mildred Ratched style, I think this post has to be typed by the hands of Karen because Karen married Jim and while Mildred was always present, she played no part in their relationship until the end. Until then, she merely lurked in the shadows watching and waiting. The reasons why Jim is no longer my husband seem so faded and unimportant now. Of our past relationship I can say that while love was never the problem; sometimes or should I say often times we both battled uncontrollable forces. Surrendering is a difficult thing for me to do. I think the same holds true for him.

Somehow when I entered into my relationship with him, I felt strong enough to fix him. It wasn't until years later that I saw how deluded that thinking was! No, I didn't want to "fix" the usual things a woman thinks she can fix in a man. The toilet seat being left up, underwear and socks being tossed on the floor and gaining control of the remote control were the least of my concerns. I willingly and lovingly tackled mental illness and guess what? I got my ass kicked in the process! I thought my love and support would/could make a difference in his life. I thought I was big enough to weather the storms for both of us, but what I found out was how small I really am and how unrealistic my goals were.

Today, as I wish Jim a happy birthday I have only wishes of stability and good health for him. I also have hopes of happiness for him although I think any happiness for him can only be found in stability and good health first. I know how hard the road is to travel alone and I know how a heart can long to be loved, but sometimes love is not the magic cure all that people think it is. Sometimes love hinders a person's progress and as the song says, "sometimes love just ain't enough."

But there's a danger in loving somebody too much,
and it's sad when you know it's your heart you can't trust.
There's a reason why people don't stay where they are.
Baby, sometimes, love just ain't enough.


Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for the huge capacity my heart has at times.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about dreams. No, not the kind you have at night. Not the ones that somehow always leave you in breathless anticipation and seem to dissipate as soon as a person awakens. No, the dreams that have captured my thoughts are the ones that take root during a lifetime and seem to stick with you. I've always envied those people who have the drive and stamina to make their dreams come true. I've often wondered why I seem to lack that drive and stamina. Why do things always seem just slightly out of reach? Why do my "projects" lay shamefully incomplete? Am I really that clueless as to how to succeed in life or are unfulfilled dreams symptomatic of people with addiction problems?

While cruising around the blogosphere I stumbled upon contemplating dreams. This person wrote:
letting go of dreams, hopes...aspirations can be ....be oddly painful... dreams are like the weeds in the garden of your mind. while you are busy planting the goals for future... dreams plant themselves in ...and take root. while you need to lavish time and attention to get ideas and goals to take root and flourish... dreams flourish without the slightest of attention... without any ray of light.
impossible dreams, ones you *know* don't make any sense and will probably never come true are the absolute worst kind of weeds. they spread their roots deep into the underground terrain of your mind making pulling them out an herculean task... they muddle up your thinking... leaving small paper cut wounds when you stumble across them without expecting to in the least.


Gratitude statement: I'm not so sure of how grateful I can actually be since I have never allowed any of my dreams to come true. But I can say I'm thankful I still have some dreams! Those are the ones not even Agent Orange can kill.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

THE ART OF BRIDGE BUILDING


Have you ever given any thought to the bridges you build with other people? We all build bridges with people with whom we associate and depending upon our skills as a master craftsman is how sturdy the bridge will be. Factors like the length of the relationship and the nature of the relationship also play a big part in bridge building. Keep in mind also, that as we build our side of the bridge, the lanes going the other way may not be constructed at the same speed and with the same materials. Sometimes the bridge going the other way isn’t built at all.

Once a bridge is built we then have the pleasure of traveling across it. That journey should never be taken blindly because we may miss spots that require additional work and reinforcement. The other side of the bridge reveals new destinations to move towards and carries an element of the unknown, yet the bridge itself holds a sense of security and familiarity because each step of the way was designed and hand-crafted by us. A bridge is our work of art and sometimes our legacy.

Sometimes we burn bridges to end a relationship and other times we hang an Under Construction sign on it while repairs are taking place. The destruction or reconstruction effort depends solely upon the amount of damage done and our priorities. Keep in mind some bridges can’t be repaired and once a bridge is burned we can’t cross it ever again. Sometimes we get the opportunity at some future date to rebuild the bridge. It’s up to us if we devote our time and effort into that endeavor. I highly recommend not building the same type of bridge as before, but a new and improved model that is resistant to past damages and flaws.

Sometimes what becomes confusing to us is when we have built a bridge and try to surpass its capacity. A hemp bridge over a dangerous ravine might be functional, but hardly the type of bridge you’d carry a heavy load across or travel across quickly. The durable bridges made of steel and concrete are the ones that withstand the test of time and are made for strenuous journeys. Hemp bridges become easily frayed and worn, while more durable bridges seem to last a lifetime with less maintenance required. Just as it may take a whole village to raise a child, it takes a whole crew to build a bridge. As long as you treat the crew right and reward them justly, the bridge you build will be a masterpiece.

Gratitude statement: While I have to shamefully admit to building some rather flimsy bridges at times, the bridges that matter most to me are the ones that have withstood the true test of time.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, January 21, 2011

GET YOUR FREAK ON

Like most everything else in life, being a freak or being perceived as one may be very subjective and it also comes in varying degrees I've learned. What I have personally experienced regarding freaks are the following: a freak lives on the edge, is an adrenaline junkie, usually has intimacy issues or commitment phobia, is larger than life, is very likable and intelligent, displays some odd behaviors (quirks), hasn’t mellowed much with age, has a "pied piper" quality, has a strong, uninhibited libido and follows that beat of a different drummer. Of course, each person will undoubtedly define freakdom differently.

Throughout my life I have attracted people who definitely fit this description. At times, it has really bothered me because as I viewed many of my friends moving into what I thought was the midstream and their lives followed a pattern considered the norm, my life has never seemed to fit that pattern. Many times I’ve longed for normal and at times, I've made myself miserable because normal was always just out of reach.

I think the closest thing I can compare this to is a person who is homosexual or bisexual, yet chooses to remain in the closet. This person never really embraces who they are and lives in constant turmoil. My happiest times have been when I’ve gotten a "wild hair" and just gone with it. I’m happiest when I follow "to thine ownself be true". I have to admit as I have gotten older, the frequency of the wild hairs have lessened, but I don’t know if that's because I've tried so hard to stifle them over time or if it’s just a natural progression and we all end our lives in a virtual state of normalcy.

Many years ago while I was in the trying to understand myself mode, I asked a male friend to tell me why I attract freaks (people who make my life feel like it’s a high speed car chase, like a roller coaster, like that moment just before you dive off a cliff into an abyss) He asked me if I really wanted the answer to the question. Of course, I wanted to know! I needed to know! He told me it was simple. It’s the look in my eyes. Over the years I’ve really thought about it and I think he was right. There are many things a person can cover or disguise, but the mirrors of the soul do not lie. Oh sure, I have friends who are anything, but freaks, but the people I feel closest to and feel they really understand me and do not and cannot pass judgment on me are those people who look into my eyes and see a need for speed, the same need they have perpetually percolating just below the surface.


Gratitude statement: Although the road has been a long, strange one at times, I'm thankful for my journey to understanding and acceptance.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, January 14, 2011

WHERE DO I SIGN UP?


The following message was sent to me via email about 6 years ago:

About two years ago my wife and I were on a cruise through the western Mediterranean aboard a Princess liner. At dinner we noticed an elderly lady sitting alone along the rail of the grand stairway in the main dining room. I noticed that all the staff, ship officers, waiters, busboys, etc. all seemed very familiar with this lady. I asked our waiter who the lady was, expecting to be told she owned the line, but he said he only knew that she had been on board for the last four cruises, back to back. As we left the dining room one evening, I caught her eye and stopped to say hello. We chatted and I said, "I understand you’ve been on this ship for the last four cruises." She replied, "Yes, that’s true." I stated, "I don’t understand" and she replied without a pause, "It’s cheaper than a nursing home."

So, there will be no nursing home in my future. When I get old and feeble, I am going to get on a Princess cruise ship. The average cost for a nursing home is $200 a day. I have checked on reservations at Princess and I can get a long term discount and senior discount price of $135 per day.

That leaves $65 a day for:

1. Gratuities which will only be $10 per day.

2. I will have as many as 10 meals a day if I can waddle to the restaurant or I can have room service (which means I can have breakfast in bed every day of the week.)

3. Princess has as many as three swimming pools, a workout room, free washers and dryers and shows every night.

4. They have free toothpaste, razors, soap and shampoo.

5. They will even treat you like a customer, not a patient. An extra $5 worth of tips will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.

6. I will get to meet new people every 7 to 14 days.

7. TV broken? Light bulb need changing? Need to have the mattress replaced? No problem! They will fix everything and apologize for your inconvenience.

8. Clean sheets and towels every day and you don’t even have to ask for them.

9. If you fall in the nursing home and break a hip, you are on Medicare. If you fall and break a hip on the Princess ship, they will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.

Now hold on for the best! Do you want to see South America, the Panama Canal, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Asia or name where you want to go? Princess will have a ship ready to go. So don’t look for me in a nursing home, just call shore to ship.

P.S.: And don’t forget, when you die, they just dump you over the side at no charge!

Gratitude statement: I'm always grateful for plans that sound good!

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

FLYING SOLO


As we live our lives, we collect among other things a plethora of regrets. Impulsive decisions, love gone wrong, could haves, would haves, should haves pile up until what’s left is the very narrow path we follow. So what happens if we suddenly stop and step off that path? What happens if we get a wild hair and do something totally out of character? Ha! What could I do that would be totally out of character for me? I’m afraid that list would be very short. Yet, my impulsivity that has guided me throughout life isn’t working correctly now. Where did it go? Why did it malfunction in this time of need? Is this my wake up call? Is this what midlife is supposed to be like? Have I finally reached "normal"?

Sometimes I feel as if some giant vampire has sucked my will from me and here I sit in a void alone. Where once lived the girl your mother told you to stay away from now resides a hermit contemplating not the meaning of life, but the futility of life. I want that girl to reappear, older, maybe not wiser, but untainted by life’s trials and tribulations because she’d merrily say "fuck futility, I’ll see you guys later" and here it is later… much later and does that girl have regrets? Yes, but you see, doing all those should haves would have probably put her on the path of having what would have been considered the dreaded normal life at an early age… a fate she felt was worse than death itself. So here she is now on this path sitting on a park bench with the sun dancing through the trees. A cool breeze gently caresses her face as she feeds the birds and squirrels. Autumn is all around her and painted upon the foliage is a quick peak into the future. As she looks skyward she sees one perfect white bird soar across the horizon before joining the flock flying south for the winter. As she smiles, she thinks, "Normal may not be so bad afterall!"

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful to have a past to reflect upon and a future to look forward to...

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

Friday, January 07, 2011

THE QUAGMIRE


What made me do it in the first place? Was it a conscious choice or was it nothing more than my fated plight? Some say the road to addictions is rooted in our genetic make-up while others more lean towards environmental and societal discord being the culprit. So the argument between nature vs. nurture goes on and on. So should addictions be viewed as an disease as real as cancer? Isn't an addiction like having cancer of the soul, of the psyche or of the whole being? Ask any addict and when they reach a moment of truth, they'll tell you just how diseased their life really is and how their disease has affected every person who cares about them.

For me, drugs were a highly effective numbing agent. They masked my pain and helped me build that rubber wall I existed behind for many years. For years, I thought what I had constructed was a rather superior brick wall. Pink Floyd was even nice enough to write a few songs that nicely summed it all up until an old boyfriend, my first love opened my eyes to my flawed thinking. No, my wall wasn't made of bricks unless those bricks I used were made of rubber. You see, normal bricks no mater how thick can be penetrated. My bricks had to be made of rubber because everything just bounced off them. The few times I did have any real feelings during those dark years were quickly disguised by my "I don't give a shit" attitude.

The sad part is that the disguise after awhile wasn't a disguise at all. It was who I had become. I was a person who had few morals or values except those ones I learned on the streets. So, was it a conscious decision to build that wall? Well, yes and no! I think it started out as just living in the moment and experimenting with those things offered to me and then something clicked when my reality was altered. The addiction switch got turned on and then everything was fair game for keeping the cancer growing ...eating, sex, drugs, gambling, work, etc etc. It all fed the starving monster!

I wasn't a typical addict, but one who binged and purged on everything. The purging part was what kept me in denial for such a long time. Hey look at me! I haven't done drugs in a long time so that means I'm not really an addict. Hey look at me! I haven't had sex in a long time so that must mean I'm not really an addict and so on and so forth.

The reality of it is that I've learned my limitations the hard way. I know what I'm capable of and with just a little taste of those things I love most, the monster is let loose once again. So does that mean I don't take risks or battle with that monster inside me any longer? No, it's always present. It's always lurking somewhere just beneath the surface. It has kept me from believing that I can not or will not ever experience "normal"...whatever "normal" is. You have to understand, "normal" is that pie in the sky that every addict fantasizes about tasting. However, somehow we all know a "normal" life isn't something that would hold our interest for very long. The word "quagmire" comes to mind.

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for the truth no matter how harsh and ugly it may be at times because if "they" are correct, "they" say the truth will set you free.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.

LET'S TALK ABOUT IT


I’ve always found it fascinating how several people can read or see the same thing, yet each one of them gets something different out of what they've read or seen. This is a small example of how faulty communication can be at times and may give a person some insight into how easily a miscommunication or a misunderstanding can happen. When unsure, an easy remedy is simply asking for clarification instead of sitting back wondering and perhaps feeling an array of unnecessary, negative emotions. You know what they say about assumptions and the only stupid question in life is the unasked question. One of the crucial keys to harmony and personal growth is the development of effective communication skills. Without it, we just randomly collide in the abyss of uncertainty.

Gratitude statement: I'm thankful for being able to welcome in yet another new year.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.