Childhood Reminiscing

My early years were spent in a duplex behind 7-Eleven on Wasp Road or Hornet Road, I don’t remember which they were next to each other. It was also a cul de sac. You don’t know how long it took me to remember the words “duplex” and “cul de sac”.

We lived there until I think I was 5. It’s odd because I have so many memories from that time period. I first thought they weren’t memories, then my sister said some of them were her memories, eventually when I was alone with my mom I asked her some things and my dad other things. My mom could make some events sound more interesting than they were or so I always thought.

I didn’t find out until after she passed away the stories she told me were true and some had actually been toned down. If there’s one thing my Dad does not do is lie. Don’t ask me about my Grandmother because I’ve shocked people with some of my responses. I think one was “You mean the Psychotic whore who abandoned her children and left them living in a chicken coop?”. That didn’t go over well but I refuse to sugar coat a thing for that woman.

My Grandfather (Papa) and his girlfriend lived in the duplex with us. Seven people in that duplex was kind of a lot but I don’t believe Papa Doyle was there the entire time. It wasn’t the best neighborhood even then. There were drugs, drinking and fights. It was low income and some unstable people lived there also.

It was cold outside when I saw the man on his bike, I didn’t know what he was dragging next to him as he rode until he got closer. It was a dog hanging on a stick attached to one of his handlebars. When he went by he told me we better keep our dog from barking or the same would happen.

I remember standing there, unable to move for a long time. My mom finally came to get me. She kept asking what was wrong. When I told her she went into Mama Bear mode. She did this well. No one messed with her babies no matter how old they got. She knew her limits though. She waited for my Dad to get home from work and told him. He left the house with a slam of the door. I didn’t see the man on the bike again.

My Grandfather had a habit of not locking doors and falling asleep with lit cigarettes or cigars. A large drunk man was coming home late one night but came into our duplex instead of his. He made it all the way to the room I shared with my twin sister when I screamed. My Dad came running, picked the man up by his shirt collar and it was like they both floated down the stairs and out the door.  On another day outside a man put his hand through his bedroom window, I just remember all the blood.

My brother was 12 and already smoking pot with the kids in the neighborhood. He didn’t realize the glass door was down and my mom had cleaned it. He smashed through it. My sister doesn’t remember these things only being stung by a bee on the bottom of her foot which isn’t correct. I stepped on a piece of glass it was in the arch of my foot but I ignored it until I got home. When my mom first looked at my foot she thought I stepped in something. When she realized there was glass embedded in it things changed.

We also had an odd shaped glass ashtray. It was kind of a triangle. Somehow I fell into the point of the ashtray and it went to the back of my throat cutting it. The problem was it cut close to an artery. My mom was in panic mode because blood kept gushing from my mouth. To the hospital we went. They stitched it but I had to be still for days so it wouldn’t rip and open the artery. This I don’t remember but I have a small scar under my chin from hitting the table with the ashtray.

The best thing my Dad did was work hard and sell everything he had to put a down payment on a house to get us out of that neighborhood. A man with an 8th grade education, an outcast, forced into the Navy, an alcoholic, never shown love, gave everything to protect his family.

The love he had for my mom was special. It wasn’t easy but they never gave up on each other.

My Dad set a high bar. For me a man should protect the people he loves, he can be strong but sensitive when needed, my Dad has never disrespected a woman sober that I know of, if he makes a comment it’s positive, he’s honorable, that’s the word that fits him most.

Alcoholic Reminiscing

It’s difficult relating to other women about relationships and men because I’ve it’s always been complicated with me. I always had crushes that were never returned or revealed. When I started drinking it was 1990 and we all hung out in groups. I’ve said before the group I hung out with was not filled with your boy next door types. They were all older and the majority had done some kind of prison/jail time but not all of them. There were not many women around on a day to day basis except me.

Everyone gathered at J’s apartment. People were in and out constantly and the music was always loud. So loud that he had his phone rigged to flashing lights so he would know someone was calling. I was there so often that J would tell me to answer the phone and the door after giving me a list of who he didn’t want to see or talk to. He usually had a revolving door of roommates I answered for too.

One was John. I loved John. He was 6′ tall and thin with blond hair that went down almost to his waist. I remember walking to the store with him one day, I fell behind and a group of guys drove by and started whistling at him. They couldn’t tell it was a guy. lol He was warm, funny, and when he hugged me it was always like he would never see me again. He would pick me up too which I thought was impressive considering my size. He didn’t like it when the other guys said stuff about me in front me. He was one of the few that would tell them to stop. We were good friends for years until I messed it up.

He always had girls around him. He was in a band, taught guitar, and sold guitars so he was popular. He also drank too much, liked coke and crack too much too. At first he had a crush on my best friend but I thought of him as a friend so it didn’t matter. A few years later my feelings had changed. Unlike most men I’ve met he actually sat me down in a room and said “You know I love you. I love you so much but not in the way you want me to”. If more people were just honest my life might’ve been a little easier.

Two alcoholics who have been drinking together for years are eventually going to do something stupid. I initiated it and felt incredibly guilty when I remembered the next day. I stayed away from J’s for a little while. There were consequences to our actions that I felt were mostly my fault so I didn’t tell him. J with the big mouth decided to tell him. John was pissed. I didn’t know this and went to the apartment and started drinking with J like I usually did. When John arrived I was already drunk. He wouldn’t talk to me or look at me. The song “Black” by Pearl Jam came on and when I heard “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s life” I pretty much lost it. I tried not to show emotion in front of them for years. I learned early on they smell weakness and prey on it. This time John lifted me from the table and took me to an empty room where he just held me and rocked me back and forth.

He said he wasn’t really angry he was sad. It wan’t the decision he wanted me to have to make alone. He’s also the only man that has ever told me the only reason he regretted being with me was because we were drunk and I didn’t deserve that I deserved to be treated special because he loved me.

We continued to be friends. A few weeks later he hooked up with a stripper. I had a hard time being around them and drank more. She had me beat. She drank so much she would wet the bed every time she stayed over. But there was always another to take her place. There were a lot of strippers that came and went and I didn’t like any of them. I tried at first but they never looked past the fat girl hanging out with the guys. Some of them didn’t like that I was always around. I was rude to 1 or 2 by saying “you’re not that great I’ve slept with your boyfriend too he’s not that picky”. I know not a great thing to say. Whenever I felt bad about myself or backed into a corner I lashed out and if cheap hard liquor was involved forget it. The cheaper the vodka the meaner I would be.

My story took a turn for the worse didn’t it? John has been with the same woman for years now and doesn’t drink as much. I haven’t seen him in about 17 years. I’ll always remember the good things about him. Even though I was drunk I can still have those memories of things I’ve never had sober.

Should’ve

I forget what started the fight. Was it my drinking or his cruelty? He never wasted an opportunity to humiliate me. It wasn’t always like that.

When I first met him I was 16 and painfully shy. The boys in High School never looked at me or if they did it was to make a joke about my weight and laugh with their friends. It’s hard to be invisible when you’re 5’7″ and over 200 pounds.

He saw my potential. I thought as a friend, person, possible girlfriend. None of the above. I was being groomed by a professional to think all of these things when he really wanted someone to control, manipulate, humiliate, use, and years later throw away.

I should’ve let him kill me that night. I’m not sure why I lived. Nothing got better when I was no longer around him and his friends. In fact I became a little like him.

It was the “I love you. You’re my best friend. I need you.” that hurt more than anything else. In a twisted way he probably did love me. He always said it after doing something he knew hurt me. He was with other girls and I was with other guys because mostly we were best friends. Feelings changed time to time and he would do something to ruin what I had going on.

He was at his meanest at parties. They were always where he lived and I was there everyday. He would say “Dana is wanna be slut she’s too fat to be a real slut”. “If Dana ever got pregnant she’d have to lose a couple a hundred pounds so people would know she wasn’t just getting fatter”. It was worse than that I don’t remember all of it. One day I said something back to him I thought was funny. He grabbed my arm, twisted it behind my back, pushed my body to the floor and my face into the carpet. He said “Don’t you ever f*cking talk to me like that again”. Then let me up like nothing had happened. His friends were yelling at him to let me go because at this point they were sick of his shit.

Nine years wasted to end up at the bottom of two flights of stairs, bleeding and half conscious. First words out of his mouth as he put me in his car were “No one will believe you. You’re a drunk and a liar.” He would’ve been right if he had kept his own mouth shut and gotten rid of the heavy oak chair he smashed over my neck and head. But he always had a big mouth and gossiped more than anyone I knew.

But I still wish he had succeeded because I don’t belong anywhere. I had a taste of what life could be like today only to find out it was a lie. Be nice to Dana for an hour and then she won’t bother you for awhile. Don’t invite her to the parade with her nephews, or the neighborhood block party, and NEVER volunteer to spend time with her if she hints at it. Quickly change the subject instead. All of this hurts more than any physical pain could.

To know how others feel and think about you is something I want to erase from my memory. There’s no drug, procedure or therapy for that. I don’t want to feel anything at all anymore. No joy, no pain, no love, no sorrow, nothing. Just numb like a rotting tooth at the dentist.

Coping With Confusing And Scary Diagnoses

I’ve been told to stop saying “You don’t understand” by my twin sister and my dad. I’ve been told a lot by them lately and I’m reaching a boiling point. They don’t understand.

When you have lived most of your life thinking the way you are is just how it is, you’re supposed to suffer for some unknown reason. So you do and you get accustomed to it.

The day the wall crumbles isn’t really a relief. I didn’t know how to feel. I was in shock, I couldn’t think or speak. Then the anger came. Then the grief and feeling of loss. 20 plus years of my life wasted, countless Doctors seen who never picked up on a mental illness that I most likely started showing symptoms of by the time I was 10, I am now told.

I wasn’t really given any information on Bipolar Disorder just medication. I educated myself. I did get a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis. The state also did their own examination for Disability. I was still angry and my family didn’t want to talk about it. I do not do well in Therapy, I’ve been many, many, times. My brain shuts off as soon as I sit down. If they start with asking me to write where I see myself in 5 years forget it. If they want me to picture a stop sign during a stressful situation forget it. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me.

When you’ve had several Doctors give you a diagnosis that is either life threatening or reveals you have had a traumatic experience you can’t remember and they want to use you as a teaching tool it’s rude. They could wait a day instead of hitting me with the bad news then asking if they could video tape my stuttering and tremors.

What I remember from past is pretty bad. To think that there is something worse scares me so when I was told about the type of Conversion Disorder I have I was devastated. The Doctor was filled with joy to have a live specimen for his students, colleagues and book. I did get a second opinion on this also and it was confirmed along with other disturbing results from a brain scan.

I’m having trouble coping with all of it. I fought with my sister again because she was crying and said “No one knows what it’s like to be tired all the time and in pain. I can’t do what I want with my kids and husband. I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this.” She was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I have a life expectancy of maybe 57 because I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Conversion Disorder, Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3 (1 remaining kidney working at 68%), Celiac Disease (stays active), Autoimmune Diseases (related to Celiac), Chronic Low Heart Rate and Blood Pressure, Chronic Low White Blood Cells, Swelling in one part of my brain and a significant loss of white matter, Osteoporosis, and I’m 44 years old.

I’ve never been in love or a relationship. When I was young I thought I would have a house, husband, and children. Yes, I am responsible for my own actions. I did not know I would go into Menopause at 37 or that I had been dealing with a mental illness for many years. I chose to medicate myself with alcohol and spend time with people who hurt me physically and emotionally. I honestly believed I deserved it. I wouldn’t have had a child unless I was in a financially, mentally, stable situation so it is what it is.

Hearing my sister complain when she has a beautiful home, 2 gorgeous well behaved boys, a husband (I’ll keep my opinion to myself ), many friends, and is a stay at home mom, pissed me off. It’s always a contest with her. She can win. I give. If you can’t appreciate what you have you don’t deserve it. I’m done begging her to love me. I’m done begging people to “understand” what’s wrong with me.

If one more Doctor treats me indifferently or like I’m a moron I will not sit there quietly and take it. I’m done with that. I am a person with feelings and a brain that still works pretty well sometimes. I am not deaf, slow, or dangerous. I’m tired of being treated like dog shit you found on the bottom of your shoe.

DRINKING: Why I Miss It And Why I Stay Sober

I like to remember when I was drinking sometimes. Once in awhile I miss it. The important thing is to remember the good times and the bad times. I have a habit of only reflecting on the good times. I also have to remind myself why I stay sober. My reasons won’t be the same as someone else’s reasons and that’s fine as long as it works for me.

I loved the excited feeling I would get inside as I prepared each day to drink. It was a ritual. I had to do my hair and make up and pick an outfit to wear. Even though I was over 200 pounds these things still mattered to me. I make myself sound disgusting but I guess I had a pretty face and there were men who were attracted to me.

When I drank there was a physical change in me. I stood up straight and held my head up looking people in the eye with a confidence only alcohol could give me. At times this did cause trouble. Other times it worked to my advantage. I never would’ve met as many bands as I have if I hadn’t been drinking. I never had to pay for a meet and greet, my best friend and I would somehow end up meeting them. I was the charming one and she was the beautiful one.

I regret the fact I don’t remember some of the people I’ve met. How could I forget an entire car ride and conversation that lasted over an hour? I didn’t blackout often but we had been in the pit during the concert so it’s possible I hit my head. Guys hated it when we went in the pit so I would make W. go in with me just to piss them off. Drinking with me was like a box of chocolates, you never knew who you were going to get.

Alcohol almost always acted like a stimulant with me until I reached a certain point. I just never knew when that point would be so I would drink until I got there. I wanted to feel normal inside, I wanted the pain I couldn’t name to go away, I wanted to be able to talk to people and not feel like I didn’t belong all the time. And alcohol did that for me.

Alcohol also made me say things I wouldn’t normally say, do things I wouldn’t normally do, spend time with people I wouldn’t normally spend time with. Did I love meeting Lars Ulrich, Zakk Wylde, Sebastian Bach, Stephen Pearcy, Pantera and being at The Rainbow? Yup. But some meetings didn’t go so well and all I can say is I’m glad they were as drunk as I was.

Never being in a relationship wasn’t exactly fun either. The police knowing my name in three towns was bad too. Pepper spray is never fun, twice is just cruel (both by accident I was caught in the crossfire). A DUI is something to be ashamed of not to mention what I put my family through.

I’m sober now because I know why I drank. It became clear when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It didn’t take me long to stop drinking after that. As I learned more about why I drank it made things a little easier. Treating addiction has to go hand in hand with mental health treatment or you are not going to get far. I know this firsthand.

If I drank now my body couldn’t handle it. My brain would think I could drink like I used to but I only have one kidney now. I have thought about it recently because my medications are not being absorbed and I feel like I did when I was younger. I have my dad to think about. If he wasn’t here I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t have some kind of light fruity drink. Which I never ever would’ve had years ago but now it’s the only thing that sounds appealing. Kind of strange.

I’m tired, alone, trapped, isolated, filled with grief but for who? Maybe everyone and myself the life I could’ve had and now never will. The 20 years I wasted or my mom who I still miss ever single day or my best friend who I never see or my twin who would rather commit me than have a conversation with me.

I always told W. if things got bad I was going to Vegas and pulling a Nicolas Cage. She always laughed and said “No you won’t”. This last time I said it and she started crying. She said she wouldn’t blame me and she knew how bad it’s been for me but she loved me. First time ever someone said the right thing.

So I’ll stay sober and try to help my Dad celebrate his 74th Birthday tomorrow. Do they sell cakes shaped like pigeons?

ATTACK OF THE KILLER GALLBLADDER

I’ve been having Gallbladder attacks about 1 to 2 times a week for the last 6 months. Years ago I would have an attack every 3 to 4 months. But I’ve been having them for at least 14 years. My Primary Care Doctor would send me for an ultrasound and then say “Doctors really don’t like to remove gallbladders unless it’s really diseased”. Meanwhile the ultrasound techs were getting more and more frustrated on my behalf because they could see just how many stones I had (usually over 50). My Doctor continued to say the same thing about surgery.

Around this time other problems began to surface so my gallbladder problem was put to the side.

Two years ago I went into Kidney Failure losing the function in my right kidney. I was left with a little less than 70% function in my left kidney. I also have Celiac Disease. I had been in Kidney Failure for a long time and didn’t know it. I didn’t have any symptoms that would’ve stood out except for the amount of weight I was losing. Fast weight loss can also cause gallstones.

Six months passed from my kidney failure and I started to have problems with my stomach. I either couldn’t go to the bathroom or I was running to the bathroom. My gallbladder attacks became a little more frequent.

The past year I have had nothing but diarrhea and the last 3 months gallbladder attacks at least once a week or more.

I’m already gluten free, dairy free, and corn free. I was looking up the best foods for your stomach and started to eat those. Before I was eating mostly Cocoa Pebbles with Lactose Free milk, a lot of chocolate flavored gluten free snacks, and usually one meal a day.

The best foods for your gut that help with bad bacteria are NOT always the best foods for your gallbladder. Who knew? So I had bought this salad mix with different cabbages and kale, sunflower seeds and a Sweet Onion Citrus dressing. I didn’t use the dressing I make my own. My stomach started to do a little better.

A few days ago I was starving and had a huge bowl of salad with all the cabbage and I tried a new salad dressing that said “Greek” dressing. It didn’t say it had sardines in it until you read the tiny ingredient list on the back and it was listed half way down. Caesar salad dressing has sardines not Greek! I also ate GF Brownies, Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas, Lactose Free Gluten Free Ice Cream, I was binge eating.

I have never been in so much pain in my entire life. I wanted to go to the hospital but I refused to go to the one near us. It felt like a Boa Constrictor was wrapped under my bottom rib cage. Specifically the right side. It was hard to breathe, the pain was constant and sharp under the bottom right rib. I drank pickle juice, apple cider vinegar and peppermint tea. I’ve never had an attack last this long. From 1:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. I was in agony until I finally conked out.

Turns out cabbage is on the DO NOT EAT LIST for gallbladder disease. So is chocolate, coffee, chips, pork, vegetable oil, refined sugar, tap water, nuts (specific types), eggs, margarine and packaged foods. Add that to the gluten list and there isn’t much left to eat.

It’s been difficult dealing with multiple health problems that interfere with your mental health. My appointment with the Gastro Doctor isn’t until June 27th meanwhile my twin sister manages to get an impossible appointment at the Celiac Center in Boston with the Director on June 19th for her Chronic Fatigue. There are days where I just can’t handle it all.

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS

A commentary on today’s society. If you are abnormal, peculiar, or deviate from social standards, than you are not worthy of acceptance.

You are treated differently, unwanted, unloved, unequal. Unless, of course what makes you unacceptable can be used to society’s advantage. The “normal” ones do not care what the cost is to you as long as they are entertained or provided with a new scientific discovery. Your pain, suffering, isolation is of no consequence to them.

They do not comprehend that you have more empathy and compassion than is typical. They are mundane and cruel, unable to see the devastation left behind by their self-indulgence.