Emotions or “Why I, a US citizen, avoid July 4th. And no, it’s not because I’m a commie bastard.”

Not written here for a bit. There’s a few reasons for that. Life gets in the way, as per usual. But in this case it was more of an emotional/psychological bit of thing going on. Since 2010, the 4th of July has always been hard for me to handle and deal with, and in the last few years it’s been especially bad emotionally, for different reasons.

Growing up, July 4th was never just America’s Independence Day. It was my father’s birthday as well. My dad was born in Cuba, and came to the US when he was (I think) 9 years old. He always thought it was funny and really cool that his birthday was Independence Day. We always had cake, usually some variation of red, white, and blue in some way. Some years we even had actual sparklers on the cake. Cookouts every year, rain or shine. If it were raining then… well, the basement door, which was more of a giant garage door, would be opened up and set to an angle. The grill placed just below it, technically outside, but just barely.

Life was so very far from peachy, especially the last 10 years before my mom and I left my dad in Florida. Often for holidays, even his birthday, entire dinners would be thrown into the trash because he didn’t tell any of us he was going to head over to his sisters for the entire evening instead of come home for the holiday meal. And none of us were allowed to touch the dinner until he was home There were a lot of problems then – ones that most parties that are still alive agree could have been handled better. And pretty much all of us were suffering from mental illness in one form or another.

So to say that holidays for me are rough is an understatement. I’ve managed to work through my issues with nearly all of the standard holidays because those were easier to deal with. They were JUST holidays. Many of which I’m able to focus on other people for. Christmas? Spoil my kid rotten. Halloween? Take my kid out trick-or-treating! Easter? Here comes the easter bunny! New Years? Valentines? Father’s Day? Focus on my husband. Celebrate fresh starts and new ideas with him. Celebrate the fact that Valentine’s is exactly one week after the anniversary of when we started dating. Father’s Day is for dads, and my husband is my kid’s dad. Mother’s Day? Hey I’m a mom, and so is my mom! Thanksgiving? Surround myself with my family. St. Patrick’s Day? My husband’s part Irish and likes to drink so why the fuck not. (Unlike most on St. Patrick’s Day my husband actually IS part Irish, not just claiming to be. He’s also part Sicilian and has a blood card somewhere for Cherokee so, that’s a fun combination.)

But… Independence Day is much harder for me to refocus. Had the story simply ended in 2010 with my mom and I leaving, I think I could have been able to refocus it easier. But… in 2013 my life changed in a huge way. And by 2014, my perspective on many things had changed. I now finally could see things from the other side, and I regretted a LOT of things I had said and done, especially to those of my family I left behind in Florida. But mostly my dad. The last thing I ever said to him was on the phone after receiving a letter from him. I used someone else’s phone so he wouldn’t have my number to reach me. I told him I hated him, and never wanted him to contact me again. That I didn’t need him and I was happier without him. That was roughly a week after I started dating my husband in 2013.

And to this day it eats me alive knowing that’s the last thing I said to him. Later that year, he had a massive mental breakdown, resulting in his inability for quite some time to recognize anyone, even my baby sister who had been stuck taking care of him. He had the breakdown around the time I started telling people I was pregnant (I was a few months along at that point) and I had made it known that I didn’t want him to know, that I didn’t want him to know anything about me or my life. I don’t know if he ever found out or not. After my son was born, I did try to make amends the only way I knew how. But I didn’t have a good phone number for him. I didn’t even know if he still lived at the address he was at when I left after staying with him for six months looking or work in 2011. I contacted a sister of mine, to ensure I had the right address. I sent him a card, apologizing for my actions and words and acknowledging that I had hurt him in such a way that no one should ever hurt another, let alone their parent. I sent a picture of myself and my son, and my son and my husband with the card. I don’t even know if he ever received it – as I came to find out later that he wasn’t at that address anymore.

He died a few years ago.

Heart failure, from what I understand.

I’m not making this post for pity or sympathy. I want to make that VERY clear right damn now. Just…  just trying to work out my feelings and put them into better words than I did for my therapist on Friday when I brought it up with her. The closer the calendar gets to July 4th, the more withdrawn I tend to become. And after the holiday, it takes me a bit to re-enter the world so to speak. I try to separate my personal feelings from the actual holiday of Independence Day, and I do the typical Fourth of July activities. Cookouts. Burgers and hotdogs. Lots of soda. Fireworks. Oh the fireworks. My son loves the fountains, but hates the fountains that have all the popper in them. The noise is jarring for him and frightening. He finally got to watch some this year without freaking out too badly. He actually started getting excited for some that he liked when we had more than one of that type. But even as I do these standard, regular holiday activities, the memory of my dad is nagging at the back of my mind. And the harder I push it away, the stronger it is and the harder it is to push it away at all. I also tend to avoid social media the closer it gets, and on the day of, and immediately following, because of family members.

One of my sisters visited his grave marker on his birthday. She took pictures, and wrote a touching post about him and honestly I can’t fault her for that. He was her dad, too. And I’m genuinely glad that she can speak well of him. And that she celebrates his birthday on the 4th of July with joy and laughter and so much life. I want that for myself, but I know it’s a long road yet for me to work through all of this baggage and let it go.

I am optimistic. One day, I’ll be able to wake up on July 4th and not dread the day. Not dwell on my regrets and the might-have-been and maybe even share funny stories with my kid about his grandpa on his birthday (especially the funny birthday stories like the time we found out or next door neighbor was also born on the 4th of July!). One day I’ll face the day and not feel the need to hide in the kitchen and cook so I can hide any tears by cutting up an onion for burgers. But I’m taking it a year at a time. It’s all that I can do, really. In the meantime, I’m gonna make pies or Jello. Cook up some burgers and brats. Crack open a cold can of Pepsi (fuck you, I like Pepsi!) and watch my husband as he fails to blow himself up with the fireworks I bought at the actual fireworks store we have in town now.

My Winter Holidays

I hope everyone’s winter holidays went smoothly. Mine were the best ones yet. While I received some wonderful gifts from my mom and my husband, and watched my son finally get the hang of tearing into the wrapping paper to see what Santa brought him, there’s one gift that money couldn’t buy. And it did my heart more good than anything else this past holiday season.

A sister of mine whom I haven’t been on good terms with for quite some time now came to visit my mom while she was staying with her in-laws here in GA. She, her husband, and my mom all went out to dinner a few days before Christmas. And instead of just gift cards as had been in the past, for my mom they had actual gifts. And put actual thought into them. But this is not the part that literally moved me to tears. It was the fact that, should I wish, I can contact her again.

I wanted to come here to write about it immediately after mom got home and told me this, but I was far too emotional at the time. Now, I have 3 sisters. As some of you might recall from a great many posts in 2015 I had one of them living with me for a time. This is not that sister. Nor is it the youngest sister either. We’ll call this sister… “Babs”. While I don’t mind my name being bandied about, I do know she values her privacy and all that. So yeah, “Babs” and her husband “Ron”. The last time I saw either of them had been at their wedding in 2014. My son was barely 4 months old at the time. He’ll be 3 in late February. So that should give you an idea of how long it’s been since I’ve seen them. So this to me is quite a big deal that I’m allowed to be on speaking terms with “Babs” again. One Florida sister down, one more Florida sister to go… If that could ever reach a “Once a year X-Mas card” level of contact, who knows. But a gal can dream!

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So large it won’t all fit in the picture!

In other, less emotionally stirring news, my blanket has gotten HUGE! So large in fact that it needs to be stored in a giant green tote bag, and even then it’s not quite done yet. At last measurement, the blanket I am knitting was at 12 feet across and 5 1/2 feet long. Once finished the stripes will go vertical on my bed rather than horizontal as planned simply because oops! I made it queen size instead of full size! I need to add a few more feet for it to properly cover the width of the bed. I think I’ve got the length of the bed plenty covered.

I’m looking forward to my birthday at the end of the month, which someone who’s turning 30 usually wouldn’t be happy to see a big 3 in front of that 0. And while no, not thrilled that I’ll be officially in “mid-life”, I am excited to use one of my Christmas gifts! TARDIS silicone cake molds! I’ll of course be making a blue velvet cake, as it’s one of my favorites, and come on, it’s a TARDIS. It can’t be any other color BUT blue.

Anyway, New Years Eve was a rather quiet affair with lots of rain (thank goodness I didn’t have the money to buy fireworks!), pizza, and cuddling while watching random Youtube videos.

Lastly, the only other major event of 2017 so far was an unexpected trip to the courthouse for my husband yesterday. Apparently my brother-in-law (We’ll call him… “Grant”) wants to get back together with his wife, my sister whom I kicked out in 2015. But there’s a restraining order against him by both my sister and my husband (they each have one, not they went in on one together). “Grant” wants to have the order modified, or rather, wants the one my sister has against him removed so that they can get back together. Unfortunately my husband is dragged into this because it all stems back from an incident in 2014 that resulted in my husband and I having to go to “Grant’s” place to get my sister. It got… tense. Police got involved. My husband pressed charges, and we’ve got a restraining order against him. Well, my husband has anyway. This began a chain of events that includes attempts at coercion and ending in kidnapping. I won’t go into detail because frankly, that stuff has nothing to do with me or mine. But my husband got called to go because “Grant” is seeking to have ALL protection/restraining orders against him removed or modified. And we want nothing to do with him or my sister. My sister didn’t show up to court, and so all orders are in place indefinitely until she is located. And the kicker here? “Grant” has been in contact with her, violating the protection/restraining order and he should rightfully be sitting in jail because of it. And she’s been using someone else’s account on Facebook to get in touch with him. It’s all a crazy clusterfuck at this point. Meanwhile we’re just sitting here like “keep both of them crazies away from us. We don’t need that mess in our life.”

A Family Day With a Toddler

Yesterday was the second day of the Roselawn Annual Arts and Crafts Festival. They hold it every year without fail, rain or shine. This year, we live close enough to walk, and knew the times and dates of it at the same time. So of course we went!

Made a family day of it. Took the toddler. And boy did we have fun. It was hot as hell, and we had to leave after only a few hours, but we still had lots of fun. My son had shaved ice for the first time from the best place in town (Coconuts has been around for ages, and they are without a doubt the BEST! Even better than the Kona Ice snowcones!)

He also had his first regular water bottle and promptly poured most of it on himself. But he figured out a system of using his tongue to staunch and control the water flow. My husband bought me a cherry pit hot/cold pack. My mother a little owl print handbag (she loves owls!) and our son a little tool belt, complete with toy tools.

After this, we went home, relaxed for about an hour and a half, and then bundled the little Boobear into the car and went to our favorite Chinese restaurant. It’s a buffet, and normally I don’t like buffets, but this one is particularly good in that they keep on top of the food. It’s regularly refreshed, even if it’s only half a pan left. Completely removed and replaced with a fresh pan entirely. The old stuff gets recycled by being set aside for the owner’s pets, and the occasional local homeless (they do put it in the fridge to keep it from spoiling). Anyway, so we went and have a lovely time of it. My son kept dropping food on the floor. See, he’s used to doing that when we’re not looking, and sharing his food with the family dog. The waitress was so understanding, and after we explained the situation, she would make a little barking noise whenever she’d sweep up his mess. He loved it!

After dinner, we went over to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things my husband and I needed. Really, we went for diapers and printer ink but walked out with a whole lot more than that. Then again, it’s Wal-Mart. If you don’t walk out the door with more than what you actually went in for and needed, you’re obviously doing Wal-Mart wrong. That place is designed to trap you until you’ve spent every last penny.

Anyway, it was a relatively quiet night. Poor little man was all tuckered out after the day he had. And so were we! Exhausting, but most definitely needed a fun family day.

Life, the Universe, and Everything in between.

So, projects get put off until NEXT week. No big. So long as at least 2 of them get worked on I’m good.

Since the news of my dad’s death, this week has gone to pot. Mainly because I’m having to deal with the emotional wreckage that is everyone else. I know I stated I felt nothing, and that’s still mostly true. Now, I feel only a few regrets. I’m sad that when I sent the card last year with the photos of myself, my son, and my husband, with the attempt to make peace, he never received it. Simply because nobody gave me his correct address. I had asked if he still lived at the address that I had, told both sisters what address it was. I was told that he still lived there. This was, apparently, a lie. So my attempt to make peace with my dad a year ago was never received, as he hadn’t lived at that address for a very long time.

My regrets may not be much to other people, and I know both my sisters are sitting there telling themselves that I deserve whatever I get. But honestly? Throughout this week, the way I have been treated by them, despite the bad blood and dreary history I have with them, I still love them. They are my flesh and blood.

But those two have serious psychological issues they need to work out that I CANNOT sort out for them. Unfortunately, both are too proud to see anyone about them, because having any sort of mental illness is seen as shameful and is despised in the lifestyles they have chosen.

But when you learn that you are being used as an excuse to cut off ties between a mother and her other children, simply because you are the most readily available excuse, you know there’s some really messed up problems in there. It isn’t that I have not tried to make things right. I’ve been trying to make things right since I first learned that a major contributing factor to how I had been throughout my entire childhood and adolescence was a hereditary psychological disorder. I will be the first to stand up and say I was a fucked up hot mess as a kid. I was angry all of the time. I could be violent. I was nearly always manic or depressed and never any sort of stable mood for very long until I was a teenager. I’m not using my mental illness as an excuse for my past, but it does allow me to look at it from a different perspective, and allows me to see how some of my behaviors had been influenced by it, making them more extreme than was truly called for in the situations. It’s an explanation of a contributing factor that throughout my childhood and teenage years nobody could figure out or explain, but KNEW there was SOMETHING there.

So, since finding that out about myself in 2009, I’ve spent the years reaching out, trying to do everything I can think of to make amends for my past with them. And each time, I’m shutdown. Cut out. Initially my baby sister heard the word Bi-polar and immediately started telling people she was afraid for her life and couldn’t be left alone with me anymore – without taking the time to try and even understand the mental disorder whatsoever. Without even attempting to learn the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 (which is what I am). Or the 14 other classification types that existed at the time. No, the word bi-polar immediately gave her an excuse to get rid of me permanently.

Irony in this? In my self-harm days the primary reason I self-harmed and even attempted suicide was not because I was selfish. It wasn’t to punish anyone. It wasn’t even because hurting myself felt good. I did all of that because logically, it was a sound course of action. The reason? By harming myself I was not harming my baby sister. By removing myself from life, I would no longer be a burden on the family and my parents could then focus all of their time and effort on my baby sister rather than on me, where I felt it was all wasted. So not perfect logic, but to a rather chaotic mind, it was a sound and ordered sort of logic that (at the time) was perfectly reasonable. The core of EVERYTHING I did while in that state of mind was actually to my little sister’s benefit and my own disadvantage. If I did something that could have a benefit for her, then I would do it regardless of what happened to myself.

Anyway, yeah. So, I’ve got some regrets, but I’ll have to just come to terms with them. One day, I might find out why my sisters hate me so damn much, and why they punish everyone else associated with me simply because they happen to know who I am. I doubt it, but hey, who knows. At least I have a major goal in life now. To outlive all 3 of my remaining siblings. I no longer want the last laugh. I NEED the last laugh. And I’ve become a very patient person, mellowed with age, understanding, motherhood, and therapy.

I hope one day my sisters all come to the realization that they need to seek psychological help as well, because while yes at times of great distress anyone can show symptoms of mental illness, these three women have been showing them their entire lives. One is actually a diagnosed sociopath. The other two? Most likely bi-polar type 1, with narcissistic delusions of grandeur. But hey, that’s just a theory.

Anyway, yeah. So one of my major life goals now is to outlive all 3 of them. So that one day, everyone who has been fed nothing but lies about me, nothing but fairy tale nightmares about me, will have to look me dead in the eye and tell me how sorry they are for my loss. And it WILL be painful, when those days come. But I want, I NEED to be the last one standing. How better to prove them wrong by a simple fact of our own frail and fragile mortality? I can think of no greater justice in this world than to simply live and exist on this planet longer than my enemies, just to spite them. Even if I were to drop dead 1 second after the last one is put in the ground, or however they are done. I could drop dead 1 second after the memorial or funeral service. I’ll still have outlived those who despise me so much. They can win the petty little battles. But I intend to win the war.

Today is my mom’s 58th birthday.

Today, my mom turned 58. And even though she’s sick, and bone tired from work, I think for the first time in a long time it’s one that was pretty darn good. I made her cake, like I always do. (I love baking birthday cakes!) And we had the obligatory candles (for fear of burning down the house, I got a bit 5 to go with the big 8 left over from my birthday) and did the happy birthday song.

And even though she’s not feeling well, and we had to cancel our original plans of having a nice lunch at this really fucking awesome burger joint that opened up in town – I think she enjoyed herself for the first time in a long time on her birthday. There weren’t many gifts, and what few she did get I gave her closer to the end of March (a few books from one of her fave authors, which I found at the local Goodwill).

But she smiled today. She had her cake. And more than just her family gave her birthday wishes on Facebook. And not just the “Well, they’re on my friends list, so I have to say something for their birthday” kind of well wishes. People she actually cares about, and who care about her.

So yeah, I think she had a pretty darn good birthday this year.