Monday, October 31, 2011

CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!

Chronic pain seems to make dealing with everything much more intense. It's no secret that I don't sleep well, but over the last several months my broken sleep has worsened. What used to be a once in awhile occurrence of waking up a little stiff in the morning has progressed into waking up with a severe lower back ache that radiates into my hips, upper legs and knees. Spikes in my pain level also affect my blood sugar level and my blood pressure.

Each morning I arise to take my "puppies" outside. Yesterday morning I arose and did all my usual routine for Sunday morning. After Fenway and B.A. (pictures on right-hand column) were back inside and I had filled my mother's pillcase for the week, I went back upstairs. Several minutes later a loud commotion erupted in the den. Upon going back downstairs, I discovered my cat, Tara cowering under the teacart while Bob (my mother's black & white Manx) was hovering nearby hissing at her. Although Tara outweighs Bob by probably 10 pounds, she's a little girl and a scaredy cat.

At the same time I came down downstairs to investigate, my mother got up to do the same. There standing in the hallway in nothing, but her baggy white cotton underwear and the same shirt she had been wearing the last few days was my mother wanting to know what all the racket was. I shooed away the cats and then asked her where her nightgown was. Without hesitation, she informed me she doesn't have any. At that moment, I felt every muscle in my body stiffen. I walked towards my mother, took her by the shirt and lead her back into her bedroom.

I stood in front on the large armoire she has in the corner next to her dresser and opened it to show her that upon two of the shelves were nightgowns and robes neatly folded. As soon as I did that she looked surprised and said, "Oh! I didn't even think to look in there." Of course not! That would have been too simple. To be honest, I just couldn't deal with quizzing her about the incident right at that moment, so I told her to put a nightgown on and I went back upstairs.

As soon as I got upstairs my mind started racing. I had assumed for the past few months that my mother had been getting up in the morning and getting dressed before she came out to eat breakfast. It made me feel good to see she was finally making an effort to do better by taking better care of her personal needs instead of sitting around all day everyday in her nightgown and robe and making me nag her into doing everything. All of a sudden it hit me! She wasn't making an effort at all. She had been going to bed in her underwear and a shirt all that time, thus having to get dressed when she got up in the morning.

As soon as I came to that rather startling conclusion down I went to confront her. I tried using logic by asking her what made her think she had no nightgowns when she had nightgowns all her life and if she thought she had nothing to wear at night, why didn't she say anything about it to me? What I have learned the hard and very painful way is that logic and reason cannot be used where my mother is concerned. She will sidestep every question like a well-seasoned politician or just not answer at all. She kindly informed me that she hadn't said anything about it because she didn't want to bother me. I reminded her that I have told her at least a hundred times or more that it's more of a bother for her not to tell me things and that I'm not a mindreader.

Because I have been advised on numerous occasions to reduce my stress load, I have tried repeatedly talking to my mother about her lack of participation in her own care. I have tried to impress upon her that she needs to "throw me a bone" once in awhile, but I have come to the conclusion that she has no intention on making anything easy for me. As strange as it may sound, I feel as if she's punishing me for something. Because the situation has gotten so outrageous and out of control, I finally got to the point of needing some concrete answers about what was really going on with her so I could get her the help she needs. I had a neurologist run a battery of tests (blood work, CT of the brain, memory tests) on her to determine if her "problems" were organic in nature. All the results came back normal and the scores on the computerized memory test revealed she was in excellent shape for a person her age(83). He said there was nothing wrong with her brain and that he understood the problems I described to him, but he didn't know how to help me.

Over the past 6 or so years my mother has undergone a major personality transformation. Nothing about her now resembles the woman I have known for 50 something years. If I was a little crazier than I am right now, I might think aliens had abducted my mother and replaced her with the pod that lives with me now. Because depression seems like the most likely culprit for her transformation, she's tried antidepressants a few times in the past 6 years, but each time her behavior shows no improvement. There's absolutely no difference when she takes antidepressants or not. Her standard answer for not doing anything, but vegetating in a chair in the livingroom day after day is that "she's old". WTF? I have a 90 year old aunt that still cooks, cleans, plants a garden, knits, goes grocery shopping, etc, etc and my mother who was a talented artist, wonderful seamstress, Chef Boyardee deluxe just to name a few things she did well can't do anything because "she's old"...I don't get it! Because you're old, you're supposed to stop enjoying the things that have always brought you pleasure? Because you're old, you're just supposed to sit in the corner and not participate in life? Because you're old you're supposed to give those people who love you and who try to help you a hard time?

All the things she chooses not to do are just that...choices! Her general health is great and there's no reason why she shouldn't be doing something. Yesterday she admitted that she sees the big change she's undergone in the past several years, but she claims she can't see why I feel as I do and why I might question she sincerity. I think she chooses not to see because if she saw that she has created a lot of needless stress for me, she might have to take responsibility for her actions. I've tried to tell her that it hurts to have a mother who forgets things like my birthday and who continually does nothing to help herself. Like a serial abuser, her answer for everything is that she's sorry, but I try to tell her that actions speak louder than words and that if she was truly sorry she'd do something about it.

Because yesterday was the straw that broke the camel's back and I just can't take anymore, this morning I set her up with an appointment to get some counseling. My head hurts! My chest hurts! And I'm tired of fighting this battle. I need help!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

LIMMERICK TIME

Let's take a break from reality by having a little fun and hopefully, a chuckle or two. Put your best foot, paw, claw or whatever forward and show me what's lurking just below the surface.

My family eats nothing for lunch
For breakfast we eat Cap'n Crunch
We swing through the trees
With the greatest of ease
Sometimes we're a dysfunctional bunch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME - PART 1


The drafty old house built in the early 1800's I called home was expensive to heat during the winter or so I was told throughout my childhood. What child really pays attention to details like that unless buying heating oil prevents buying groceries or clothes to wear? My mother was a seamstress, so I always had a more than adequate wardrobe made from the scraps of material left from the outfits she made for others. When she was young and before she married and had children, her dream was to become a fashion designer. Her creative flair usually showed up in my clothes. Somehow she'd take a little of this and a little of that and turn it into something that looked like it belonged on a rack in an upscale department store. She also was very frugal when it came to buying groceries and making things stretch between paydays. She baked everything from scratch and in quantity so my 3 older brothers who seemed to have hollow legs for stomachs would never be hungry as they played sports during their school years. Being the youngest and the only girl, I grew up feeling less important than my brothers in the grand scheme of things at 20 Walter Street.

In the corner of the kitchen next to the radiator sat a 25 gallon steel galvanized trashcan filled with flour. Three gallon size glass pickle jars sat on the shelf by the kitchen table and were used for cookie jars. They never stayed filled for very long with four hungry children and their friends devouring their contents. Waking to the smell of fresh doughnuts being made or coming home from school to discover the cookies jars filled with freshly baked cookies ceased when I was 8 years old. The battle to stay afloat financially finally ended. The war had been lost and my mother sought employment outside the home to help make ends meet. At that point she became an LPN and worked the 3 to 11 shift at the local hospital. At 8 years old, I became the chief cook and bottlewasher. Life as I knew it changed drastically and eventually so did I.


Winters were always long and harsh in Maine, but as a child I hardly noticed things like that. The first snow always brought much excitement and anticipation as we hauled our sleds outside. My mother always fussed at us for tearing up the lawn with our sleds when we tried to rush things by sledding before winter had fully set in. The hill which ran parallel to my house was named "Little Walter" unlike its cousin, "Big Walter" which seemed like an almost vertical climb in the winter making it almost impossible to navigate at times. The top of our lawn was situated so that it made a excellent runway for sledding. From the top we would go down over the sloped lawn onto the snow encrusted sidewalk past driveways along menacing snowbanks finally coming to a stop before we reached Main Street. There on the corner sat Miller's Cave, the friendly neighborhood beer joint with a sign on front saying "If you can't stop in, smile as you go by". It was a place I always hated and feared, but I always managed to smile as I walked by! Inside among many perched upon the barstools sat the man I called my father. He was the stranger who resided in my home. He was aloof and withdrawn. Like many others, alcoholism robbed him of being capable of being a loving husband and father. He sat and drank his life away while his children frolicked in the snow and grew up having a father in name only. And in the end, I believe the loss was more his than ours...

Monday, October 24, 2011

IN NEED OF A WORTHY MID-LIFE CRISIS


By George, I think I have it all figured out! Now, all I have to do is figure out what to do with it...

I have given great thought to what I lovingly call my serotonin–norepinephrine–dopamine crisis aka The Big D (depression). Socrates would be so proud of me for leaving no stone unturned in my continuing crusade to examine my life. Yes, after close scrutiny, I'm quite sure my brain has always lacked something that others seem to have. I've always wondered why someone who is highly intelligent doesn't function at a level that reflects their intelligence while others who appear to be quite dense rise to the top like cream. Sure, the lack of support and guidance early in my life probably didn't help, but others who have been products of dysfunction have overcome great obstacles to become successful and happy. So why haven't I? Am I lazy? Am I simply unmotivated?

Anyone who knows me knows laziness isn't the culprit as reflected in my Wonder Woman status for much of my adult life. It always amused me whenever I heard, "Get Karen to do it. She can do anything!" Yes, Karen can do anything, but be successful and happy. My list of things I've started in life, yet never finished is so long it's mind boggling. That in itself would be a major cause for depression in most people. But unlike most people who have a fear of failure, I find failing to be a relatively easy thing to digest.

For me, it's succeeding that throws me in a tizzy. Maybe it's confusing how someone can be labeled as Wonder Woman, yet feel like a failure. Sure, I can do anything, but I become bored and distracted easily and never feel as if I'm challenged for very long. Everything I've done in life to this point only seems like menial tasks to get by, when I know I'm capable of so much more. Okay, so why didn't I choose something that I felt challenged me? Ahhhhh, there it is! That's where the fear of success rears its ugly head. That's where the face of self-destruction comes into focus. I've never found that one thing that feels like "home", my niche, that special place where I belong because I've always held myself back from exploring the possibilities by never allowing myself the luxury of completion or success. What an excellent way to punish ones self! And at this point I don't even know anymore why I feel punishment is necessary. The old demons appear to be dead, so is it just a lack of not knowing how to proceed or where to proceed from here? At this point is it habit more than anything else?

I've always felt like I'm treading around in some murky mud puddle under a dark cloud awaiting impending doom, but I learned to build a convincing facade early in life. I became the class clown, the risk-taker, the first to do everything, the organizer, the one who questioned whether the sky is really blue. I always needed the feeling of being on the edge to feel alive. I needed to push all the boundaries and test all the limits except my own. All sensation I gathered were from external sources and never from within. Now, that I've distanced myself from the edge I feel a void in my life. I'm lost and feel as if I'm slowly spiraling down. The murky mud puddle is becoming increasingly more difficult to navigate. I think living on the edge was how I self-medicated to replace the lack of serotonin–norepinephrine–dopamine I possessed. I think engaging in risky behaviors and unhealthy relationships was my way of keeping the adrenaline pumping. It was my way of feeling normal because I've never had a clue as to what normal really is. Even the bad boys who were initially oh so delicious become predictable and boring after awhile. Now, everything has become predictable and boring and now... once where my demons treaded is a silent overgrown path.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: MENTAL LEPER CROSSING


It's been weighing on me heavily lately like some crushing menace I can't avoid. I keep wondering if I'm depressed and if so, is it possible to have been depressed my whole life? Can a person be born depressed? As far back as I can remember I've always felt the same way. I look at my gene pool and wonder if I was short-changed on the naturally occurring serotonin–norepinephrine–dopamine most people are blessed with. Perhaps my wiring is routed some other way. Or maybe happiness is like everything else in life. It has to be taught and encouraged right from infancy in order for it to develop properly. Sure, I've had moments of elation, but those moments have never been caused by anything I can take sole responsibility for doing. Happiness when it has come has always been external and I know that's wrong. I know I should be able to feel good about things that I do, but nothing I do seems quite worthy of happiness.

I awoke this morning while it was still dark and as I lay in bed, I let my mind wander. It took me to a place where I could hear voices singing.
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

I knew one of those voices was mine, yet I have no clear memory of being there. Why have I blocked out insignificant things like that, yet can remember painful things in vivid and sometimes grossly perverse detail? If I allow myself I can sink into a dark, cold place where things that happened long ago feel as if they just happened today. If I allow myself I'd never leave my cave again. If I allowed myself I'd become consumed with this darkness. I struggle to stay afloat and I'm afraid of what's going to happen when I can't float any longer. Do I simply sink and quietly fade away or does the survival mode kick in once more and save me from myself?

I think I need to get back to ranting about religion and politics and leave my feelings neatly packaged inside a box with a great big red bow on top. I'm tired of having questions, yet never finding answers that are adequate to satisfy me. I'm tired of remembering a young person who was once diagnosed as being a depressed neurotic (the shrink told me that meant "sad nut"). I guess that's better than being a depressed psychotic or is it???? Sometimes I wonder if being out of touch with reality might be better. I'm tired of wondering if neurosis ever subsides in time or does it take root like a weed and never really goes away even when it's sprayed with weed killer.

I looked up "neurosis" and found neurosis can involve: anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, low sense of self-worth, phobic avoidance, vigilance, impulsive and compulsive acts, lethargy, unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, repetition of thoughts and obsession, habitual fantasizing, negativity and cynicism, dependency, aggressiveness, perfectionism, schizoid isolation and socio-culturally inappropriate behaviors. Wow! Add heartburn and headaches to the list and it looks complete to me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WAX ON WAX OFF


My daughter claims that when I decided to go blonde I underwent a complete metamorphosis. I am now a proud foo fooey "let's go get our nails done" type of woman. I even graduated to having my legs waxed and although waxing doesn't rank high up on the pleasure meter unless you have masochistic tendencies, it does last longer than shaving.

One of our mother-daughter activities used to be going to have our nails done together. My daughter has always been a princess and has a shoe collection to prove it. I even occasionally would make it a real family affair and bring the queen mother along to have hers done. One time I suggested my daughter get her legs done while we were there getting our nails done. When asked if it hurt, I shrugged and told her it wasn't too bad (my logic being if you had given birth nothing topped that), so off she went to the waxing room to become a real sophisticated woman.

She had only been in there a few minutes when one of the women emerged and told me my daughter wanted to see me. I know I had a puzzled look on my face because my waxroom escort looked as if she was going to start rolling on the floor laughing her ass off at any moment. WTF? Had they mistakenly waxed my daughter's head instead? Removed her eyebrows? Ripped off her lip when waxing her upper lip?

Inside the room was my daughter laid out on a table. She was on the verge of tears and when she saw me she whined pathetically, "you told me it didn't hurt!" I couldn't help, but laugh and when I replied, "and I told you the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus were real, too!" the two waxing sadists (direct descendants of Marquis de Sade) burst into laughter. To this day, they still chuckle about me having to hold my daughter's hand while she had her legs waxed and to this day, my daughter still scolds me for lying to her. What a bad mother I am! My only regret is that I didn't get any pictures of the blessed event.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

JOHNNY CAN'T READ AND WRITE BECAUSE HE WAS TOO BUSY LEARNING TO RECITE THE LORD'S PRAYER


I woke up this morning thinking about why so many people are up in arms about prayer not being allowed in schools. I remember as a child praying in school, but now I look back and see how wrong it was to impose Christianity upon everyone. It's great if you believe in a Christian god, but what if you don't? What if you're family is Jewish or Muslim? What if your family is Buddhist or Hindu? What if your family is Wiccan or Scientologists? What if your family is Agnostic or Atheist? What's wrong with just having a moment of silence in respect of all belief systems and not just favoring one? What's wrong with teaching tolerance and respecting all differences? What's wrong with teaching a child God has many faces and sometimes God is a faceless entity called science and reason? Shouldn't schools be more concerned with teaching our children math, reading and science than instilling religious doctrine? I guess it's okay not to be able to read or write as long as you can recite the Lord's prayer because God takes care of all His followers and will provide for you when you can't get a job. If I sound angry, I am! Religion is not the cure all to everything! It belongs in church and not in our public schools!

Monday, October 17, 2011

WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS


I've reposted this a few times since it was originally written in 2005. Each time I repost it, it always makes me feel as it did when I first wrote it...empowered. I know some of my friends and family are having a difficult time with my recent admission of being a "nonbeliever" (please insert label of choice here). I'm struggling with it also because it feels so foreign to finally be free of living a lie. I feel alone and I think it's human nature to seek out like-minded people, but in doing so, I find I have a growing need for the people who love me and who have journeyed through life with me to at least feel the same amount of tolerance towards my beliefs as I have for theirs.

The cage bird sings for freedom. It sings as a disguise. It sings because if it remains silent, it will fade away and die. Many times I have tried to place myself in other people's shoes especially those people who feel as if they have to hide or cover up who they really are or conceal the lifestyle they have chosen to live because they fear the stigma and rejection attached to it. I grew up being the black sheep of the family, but even the antics of a black sheep doesn't come close to type of reaction created by someone who is homosexual. I can almost understand why some people try to lead a straight life, be something they are not and never feel comfortable enough to reveal who they really are. The inner turmoil must be devastating. Yes, I know all those who say horrific things about homosexuality. I've heard all the arguments...all the pros and cons!!! I guess my views on the subject allow me to see the person as a human being and not as some perverted demon or freak of nature.

Several years ago my mother made a strange statement to me one day. She told me that I had changed her views on homosexuals. Me? I'm straight....how did I do that? She asked me if I remembered the day I first learned that one of my female cousins was a lesbian. I thought back to that day 30 something years ago and remembered what an uproar within the family that announcement had caused. Hey, at the time I probably felt relieved because the focus wasn't on me and the gossip was centered elsewhere! Yes, I remember being told! My mother asked me if I remembered what I said to her when she told me about my cousin. I thought back, but I couldn't remember my initial reaction. My mother refreshed my memory by telling me that I informed everyone in the room that my cousin was the same person as she was the day before they all knew she was a lesbian. As far as I was concerned, nothing had changed.

My mother said my words stuck with her and she knew what I had said was true. She stopped labeling my cousin and allowed her to continue being the person we always knew her to be. That acceptance broadened in time and allowed my mother to view others with different preferences and lifestyles as being just as human as she is and it made me smile knowing the black sheep can be pretty sagely at times.

THOU SHALL NOT KILL


Christianity teaches "thou shall not kill" as one of the Ten Commandments. As far as I know there was no fine print attached to each of the Ten Commandments as acceptable loopholes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it does say "thou shall not kill" and not "thou shall not kill except for the lives taken in wartime, people executed under the death penalty and instances of "pulling the plug" on sick people who are virtually dead already, etc. etc." The fine print appears to have been developed to justify a false morality, society’s questionable mores and an ever-growing Christian hypocrisy. Each person can take a simple statement supposedly handed down from God and interpret it to mean whatever they want it to mean, but in reality doesn’t "thou shall not kill" mean exactly that? God's followers seem to twist and turn and scramble His word until the only godly aspect left are the trees cut to make the paper His word is printed upon.

People attempt to justify their actions through holy doctrine and Scriptures, but I can’t seem to find where it’s written that killing is okay sometimes and sometimes it’s not except when God does it or when death is orchestrated in God's name. In fact, doesn't it seem God’s name gets tossed around a lot of places that it has no business being tossed? Personally, I find very little difference in taking a life as an act of war or taking a life of a convicted murderer. The old eye for an eye seems barbaric to me regardless of the circumstances. I see little difference in taking the life of a dying person by pulling the plug or pulling the plug on a nation of people through the horrors of war. To me killing is killing! Let’s face it, war doesn’t only kill the guilty! It kills the innocent, as well! And all "friendly fire" including people wrongly executed gets is a big "oops"!

Are our motives what make some killing acceptable while it makes other killing a crime? Is it humane to end a life of someone terminally ill and justified to end the life of a convicted murderer? Is killing in the name of God justified? Is killing an abortion doctor justified due to believing in the right to life? Can I carry a gun and use it to defend myself against any threat real or imagined? But doesn’t killing even when it's in the name of God go against the whole commandment when God told us "thou shall not kill"? If it sounds like I’m confused, I am. We pride ourselves on being righteous, moral people, champions of justice in the free world and keepers of the faith, yet we kill. We kill our own people. We kill other country’s people. We kill the old. We kill the young. We kill the guilty. We kill the innocent. Would someone please explain God’s commandment of "thou shall not kill" to me so it makes sense? And in the meantime, I'm thankful for only having my own commandments to live by. Those are ones I seem to understand with no difficulty.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

OMG! IS THIS MY LIFE?

Partially written in 2004:
When going through a difficult period, I always tell myself "if this is the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do, then I have it made". I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to tell myself exactly that throughout my life, but somehow it works. Somehow everything turns out the way it’s supposed to happen and the way things unfold often make me wonder if life is not just a series of tests, hidden paths and unsolved puzzles.

This year I went from having a responsible job in which many things were expected from me to quitting my job because I felt I needed to make a stand. I was expected to do something that was not only unethical, but also illegal. Reality isn't always easy to swallow especially when a person is used and abused by people they trust. Following my principles put a hardship upon me and changed my path for the rest of the year, but I did the right thing and that’s what mattered most. I eventually found another job and recovered from the void I felt, but have kept what I learned from that experience very close to me. Always proceed with caution in the workplace!

I also got involved in a relationship which initially looked very promising, yet turned out to be based on all the wrong things. The person wasn’t a horrible ogre (quite the contrary). He was just the right person at the wrong time. It makes me wonder if that elusive, illusive creature (Mr. Right) really does exist. Time will tell and maybe the answer wasn’t one "the wizard" could give me after all. I’ll just have to search a little further down the yellow brick road and hope 2005 treads softer on my heart than 2004 did.

I learned a valuable lesson in priorities this year. People who really do love me will rise to any occasion. The ones who lag behind and make excuses for not being there, are the ones who need to be left behind... permanently! I can walk away and not look back. Some say not to burn bridges, but I say that once a bridge is crossed there should never be a reason to backtrack. If you need a new path, build a new bridge! In other words, start over and don’t make the same mistakes.

This year I learned how to deal with chronic physical pain and how to enjoy the absence of that pain when it subsides via painkillers. I learned to remain open to new relationships in spite of having been disappointed and hurt. This year reaffirmed that I don’t want empty promises or pipe dreams. I've survived once again and I've come away stronger and more sure than ever that what I want is more than just survival. If I have to remain a hermit, I want a fellow hermit to share a fantastic hermitage and life with me. That sounds a little more appealing than stargazing and aimlessly wandering alone. Doesn’t it?

Timeline from 2008-2011 :
2005, 2006 and 2007 really aren't worth mentioning! REALLY!
Unemployed permanently (2008) Some call it "retired" and I hate it!
Still a caregiver. One parent gone and deeply missed (2008). One parent still with me and driving me crazy.
Add going blonde to the list (2008). And if blondes have more fun, I'm still waiting!
Being pain-free only lasted long enough for me to build a tolerance to painkillers. Add going cold turkey from Oxycontin and Percocet10's. Withdrawal was so much fun! I highly recommend it for everyone. (2009)
Therapy sessions with a yoyo inspector. Some insights gained, but mostly I learned how little control we actually have over the events that touch our lives. Life happens and we just have to keep up or fall by the wayside. (2010)
Still alone and suffering from chronic pain, but thank goodness I'm not in pain from being alone. Being a hermit has its merits!(2011)
Add complications from diabetes to this ever-growing list. (2011)
Add becoming an uncloseted atheist/agnostic/secular humanist or whatever you want to label me as being because living a lie is no way to live. That goes for anyone who resides in a closet! (2011)
Still taking stances whenever and wherever I can.

CONNECTING THE DOTS


I must have asked hundreds of people throughout my lifetime about Adam and Eve, but never received a sufficient answer that made any real sense to me. In fact, most of my questions about Christianity have been met with a "how dare you question God" attitude and not with the loving tutelage of someone trying to spread the Word. Eventually, I just stopped asking and sifted through the mountain of BS so I could connect all the dots by myself.

So how is it that I dare to question God and more importantly, what is it in me that drives me to seek the answers to my questions? Was I born without certain filters others seem to have? What makes me believe it's time EVERYONE opened their eyes and questioned God's laissez-faire approach to mankind. According to the Bible, God wasn't always that way. In times past, His Hand was in EVERYTHING and now it's like He's on some kind of permanent vacation. His followers continue to worship Him. They pray and their prayers seem to fall on deaf ears. They pray and the despair in their voices is maddening. Isn't God listening? I want to know when He packed His bags and I want to know where He went. The Cayman Islands, perhaps?

Yes, it appears God hasn't been pulling his own weight lately and really needs to get off his holy ass and do something.....HUGE! Might I suggest throwing mankind a bone by allowing the cure for AIDS, cancer and a few other horrible diseases to be discovered? Might I suggest that He/She/It stop killing off young people/children/babies and stick to people who have lived a full life? Might I suggest that people are shown how brotherly love works so wars and hunger will cease?

And while I'm at it, will someone PLEASE explain the FIRST FAMILY to me? Does anyone care to explain if incest is wrong, how did the world get populated in the BEGINNING? Eve was supposedly the only babe in town, so you do the math. Okay, so maybe incest was an acceptable practice back in the day and morality has come a long way since then (or at least it has in some families), but it still doesn't explain why Christians aren't all on the same page with all their interpretations of the Scriptures and why they get so defensive over simple questions. Could it be that they have questions too, but are too fearful to come out of the closet and ask?

Wait! I hear a voice...
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22)

Friday, October 14, 2011

AWAITING THE LIGHTNING BOLT

I have to apologize for the delay in the start of my discussion of the Bible. I know everyone was waiting in breathless anticipation! God must have smote me for being the blasphemous heathen I am. I haven't felt well for a few days thus no blog entry. A friend who will remain nameless thinks I'm depressed...God probably did that, too. I must be getting mentally spanked to go along with the physical ass kicking my health has received in the past 10 years.
Actually, I shouldn't give God credit for my demise. Let's give credit where credit is due! My decision to live fast and hard in years past is catching up with me now (a mixture of free will and karma, no doubt) and my mental state (IF it is in bit of a blue funk lately) is that way because it's difficult to live a "normal" life when normalcy is no longer an obtainable commodity. Wait! Was normalcy ever obtainable for me? That question is way too freaky for me to attempt to answer today!

I'd like to start my discussion of the Bible at the beginning (always a great place to start). Supposedly somewhere sits a supreme being (please insert mental picture of a very old man in robes) who at some point in time decided it would be a good thing to start creating things (some think this all happened about 7,000 years ago). In 7 days, wham bam thank you, ma'am the creation was complete...heaven, earth, the entire universe (the whole kit and kaboodle right down to the lowly pond scum). Man started his existence naked in a paradise in which he immediately started testing his boundaries and trying to destroy the perfection God had bestowed upon him. It makes me wonder why God didn't create a smarter being than that. One a little more peaceful? A little healthier? A little more compassionate? A little more driven to do the right thing? Wasn't man created in the likeness of God? I guess when it only takes 7 days to create everything, some flaws should be expected! Perhaps someone should check the tag to the backside and see if it says "Made in China"!

This supreme being gave man free will, yet when man uses his free will and acts disobedient/immoral, he's punished. Think, but do not act! Act, but do not think! It just seems to me that it's a real waste of human flesh to "allow" people to do horrid, sinful things because their Creator felt the need install free will instead of good judgment and brotherly love. From a nonbeliever's viewpoint, it appears the Christian community, at large, is constantly being tested, judged and having a proverbial carrot dangled in front of their collective noses. It also appears to me that the faithful are faithful primarily due to the fear of retribution and not from a place of love. Perhaps frustration is why Christians are so easily angered and prone to violence....just a thought! Fear breeds all sorts of unsavory things.

Isn't it equally sinful (or at least overly selective) and arrogant to only want those among us who freely believe to have eternal life in the hereafter? Aren't we all supposed to be God's creatures? Why do the ones who "claim" they believe, yet make no attempt to live a truly righteous life get favor over someone who has lived a good life helping others, but doesn't adhere to any Christian dogma?
Even a serial killer can have everlasting life as long and he repents and is "saved", but someone like the Dalai Lama is doomed to burn in Hell according to what Christians believe? So as long as you become submissive and repentant, the path to Heaven is yours? Perhaps some nice swampland in Florida might interest you also!

Ask 50 different Christians about what they believe and you'll get 50 different versions of the same story. Fundamentalists say the Bible is the literal word of God, while others believe the Bible is a collection of allegories meant to be used as religious guidelines. Each Christian denomination differs, but the differences are man made and come from man's inherent need to explain the unexplainable and to promote his own beliefs. Each denomination has their own way to put a believer on the path of righteousness and each denomination believes theirs is the ONLY true way to salvation. Too bad for those other less enlightened, less fortunate Christian sects along with all the non-Christian religions and the pitiful, uncivilized heathens like me! I guess they'll all find out they goofed up when they die. Oops! I hate when that happens.

Next on my hit list: The First Family (not the Obama's) and incest

Monday, October 10, 2011

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?


As a child, I played a game called "telephone". A group of us would assemble in a line and the first person would whisper something in the next person's ear...only once! What was heard by each person was passed along the line until it reached the last person. The last person's job was to say out loud what had been whispered in their ear. I always thought it was hilarious how much the initial whisper had been distorted.

As I grew older, I saw this same type of distortion in work all around me. I realized how people's perceptions vary even when they witness the same event. Just talk to several people who witness an accident or a crime and one might think that all the witnesses are either crazy, blind or they were at different locations witnessing completely different events. Gossip works the same way. By the time the story gets back to the person who has been the subject of gossip (and it always does), the truth is usually extremely exaggerated. I always enjoyed sending the story back out for Round 2 when I had been the brunt of some juicy tale. Of course, I always made the story juicier instead of trying to clear up any misconception people might have about me. Over the years, I've often wondered how many historical stories had been "stretched" somewhat to make the story a better story. We all know "drama" makes for a better story!

Just imagine the type of distortions that stories have that have been passed down for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years by word of mouth. It makes me wonder just how reliable are facts in the absence of technology (youtube, camera phones and twitter or Facebook)? [LOL] Even the written word can be subject to speculation and skepticism. I can write anything and claim it's fact, but unless I have empirical evidence all my words will ever do is remain a good story, at best. Will some people believe my words without any proof? Of course! Some people will believe anything without question. Some people want to believe...need to believe!

Although the next logical step is for me to discuss the Bible, I'm going to say, "Hold that thought... I shall return!"

Sunday, October 09, 2011

WORDS FROM WITHIN

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."

Steve Jobs, Commencement speech at Stanford University, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I WILL FEAR NO EVIL - A NONBELIEVER'S QUEST FOR GOD

My first exposure to religion was as a small child. At the age of 5, I was baptized into The First Congregational Church of Brewer, Maine. For all those not familiar with the Congregational Church, a quick history lesson should refresh your memory. Does the word Puritan mean anything to you? My church was a quaint white church overlooking the Penobscot River. The beautiful stain glass windows illuminated the interior as the morning sun rose high in the sky. When I attended church with my family on Sunday morning, I sat quietly on the pew mimicking what the others did when they did it, yet I can't remember a word of what was ever preached in that church. The singing was nice! The peaceful atmosphere was nice, but my only true memory was the feeling that there was more to it than what I was being told and I personally wanted to be touched by the hand of God.

By the time I was 11, often times I walked to church alone or occasionally with a friend who I asked to accompany me after our usual Saturday night sleepover at my house. Her mother was dying from Hodgkin's disease, so she sought refuge in my home and in my life during that dark period in her life. One Wednesday night she asked me to go to church with her. I remember thinking to myself, “It’s Wednesday! Who goes to church on Wednesday?” I soon found out the answer to that question! The Baptist preacher bellowed from the pulpit condemning all sinners to burn eternally in the flames of Hell. As he spoke and thumped his fist on the pulpit to drive home his words, I knew he was speaking to me personally. I was doomed to burn in Hell if I didn't seek out Salvation, so when my friend asked me to attend Bible camp with her during that summer, I eagerly accepted.

We were divided into groups and met in tents outside the church for various religious classes and activities. We were expected to memorize a new Bible verse each day. Whenever that feat wasn't accomplished, off the unfortunate person went to see the preacher. They always would return subdued and very repentant. When they upped the verses from 1 to 2, I seemed to have difficulty focusing and remembering the words. I froze when asked to stand and say my verses. My mind went blank and the interior of the large tent darkened and filled with impending doom.

I felt true shame as I walked to the preacher’s office inside the church. I remember my long, slender legs shaking and feeling weak as I entered his office after knocking. I stood humbly before him looking down at the floor. At first he spoke softly and I lifted my eyes to meet his. It felt as if he peered into my soul and I shivered. He finally stood and walked around me, then laid his hand on the back of my head. I trembled as he prayed for me and it seemed my fear ignited something in him. His voice slowly became louder and louder until it filled the whole room. I was a sinner and was going to burn in Hell.

The tears ran down my face and when I was instructed to kneel, I felt almost relieved. I cried and prayed and asked God's forgiveness. My pleading was frantic. I asked God to enter me and fill me with His Spirit. I truly wanted His Grace, but the only Grace I would receive that day was being bent over a desk and receiving what Grace there was in being spanked. As he spanked my bottom, his voice trembled as he prayed for me. Each time his hand met my backside, it lingered for a moment. When he finally stopped, he stood behind me while I repeated the verses. I could feel the intensity of his eyes gazing down upon me. Each time he said "say them again", his voice trembled and his breathing quickened. Suddenly his voice changed and the words that came from him were ones I had never heard before. Finally there came silence. It was finally over! By the time I stood erect, my bottom was so sensitive it hurt to have the fabric of my shorts and panties brush across my cheeks.

As I walked back to the tent, the realization that “something” had just happened filled me with trepidation. Had I finally been touched by the hand of God? It wasn't until many years later when I awoke screaming from a nightmare that I realized what had actually happened and I wondered how many others had been touched by God via the good Pastor.

Gratitude statement: Since I have completely changed the look of Mildred Ratched Memoirs, I have decided to make this my last gratitude statement. I am truly thankful for all good beginnings, but I'm also grateful when all those beginnings come to an equally fitting end.

Monday, October 03, 2011

MILDREDISM FOR BEGINNERS


My lifelong quest for spiritual knowledge has lead me in many directions with each new direction leaving me as empty as the last. When I finally reached the point of realizing that I am what I am and that for me, God does not exist it was a point in my life that has come with both the feeling of great liberation and immense sadness. My sadness isn't due to not finding God, but of feeling true empathy for the pain anyone experiences who comes out of their closet. Living in any tightly sealed closet is like living in a coffin, but coming out doesn't always involve love, compassion and the support from those people who claim they love us.

Although I do know how it feels to be judged, this time is different. This time I see just how little tolerance there really is in the world and that instead of people viewing each other as brothers and sisters and accepting each other's differences, I see how people want everyone to view life as they do. They want each person to be a cookie cutter version of themselves with no deviation. I want to scream, "I do not share the same desire". I appreciate the differences people have because I know without them life would be a very humdrum experience. Without them there would be no food for thought or choices to make. I also can and will continue to respect a person's right to believe or not believe in any higher power or lower power if they so choose. I can't or won't say a person's relationship with any God is a fictitious thing because I believe reality is what a person perceives it to be. Having a relationship with God simply is not a relationship I have nor one I feel I need as validation of being a good person. I don't believe religion holds exclusivity on bringing out the goodness in mankind. If it did, the world would be a much better place than it is.

I think we all believe what we need to believe. I know many find great comfort in their faith and feel a need to worship. Perhaps Karl Marx was correct in claiming religion is the "opiate of the masses". Again, I have never found that comfort nor the need to worship as others have, but I will stand in support of a person's right to choose. I will not stand in judgment nor will I belittle a person when their opinions and beliefs don't match mine. Yes, I will state how I feel, but in doing so I don't NEED anyone else to tell me I'm right...or wrong. Ideally, I'd just like the people journeying through life with me to accept me for who I am and to accept I am a good person without religion being at the core of who I am. Ideally, this is just a WANT and not a NEED!

Gratitude statement: I'm grateful for the inner strength I have especially at times of great adversity.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL


Thus far, 2011 has been a miserable year, a transitional year and every now and then, a year filled with promise. I think nothing is more frustrating than to watch others go through major health problems. I say "watch" because as much as we may offer our support to those who may need it most, we don't really know how it feels to have something like breast cancer or to finally become pregnant after 10 years of trying only to have that pregnancy terminated as a medically necessity unless those are things we have experienced firsthand. Nothing we do or say has the power to change the outcome. So in reality we just have to sit back and watch and wait. As I have offered my support where and when needed, what I have found out about myself is that as I've grown older, it's become increasingly more difficult to stand up and be a strong person for others. Where I have jumped in fearlessly in the past, has become more of a dangling my toes in the water for a few minutes before making the plunge process. I have brushed my own tears away so many times that now I wonder where they are. I wonder if we have a finite number of tears and if I've used mine up.

I've asked myself many times why being brave has become so difficult. Why has facing unpleasant, unfair things in life become like torture to me? Is it due to coping with my own health problems and realizing life is really a short, fragile commodity that we all take for granted at times? Is it because I have reached my limit on pain and suffering and I need to now focus on things filled with hope and promise? Is it because we just grow colder as we grow older and too much pain makes us shutdown? Am I just once again being too hard on myself and expect perfection where there never will be?

So, if I allow myself I will turn away from the pain and look towards hope and see new beginnings. I can see struggle turn to gain and new love start to blossom. I can see friends and family meld together and stand up to support all who need it. I can see the promise of second chances and lasting happiness. I can see strong people who have waited and believed that things would get better and now they have... I can see friends who are as much my family even though we are not linked by blood or genetics. I can see anger and frustration dissipate through compassion and understanding. I can see everything come full circle because hope really does spring eternal (if you let it)!

Gratitude statement: My most humble gratitude and thanks goes out to all those people who stand with me and support me daily.

All gibberish within ©2004-2011 Mildred Ratched Memoirs.