Doctor & Patient: The Follow-Up

**Potential trigger warning**

I think my doctor is a compatible astrological sign and/or is perhaps magically able to defuse angry women. I realize sometimes it’s a little like talking to a cornered animal or a small child, except when it’s me, I can’t be likened to either; I’m more like a venomous tornado. He handled my appointment with grace, class, ease, and owned his mistake 100%. I can count on one hand how many doctors I know who would have owned up to a major error, and he’s maybe one of three, if that. Anyone who has dealt with an asshole in the medical community knows precisely what I’m talking about. This doctor is in the teeny, tiny minority because he has managed to maintain his humanity, sense of humor (I’m pretty certain his sense of humor is why I like him so much. I can appreciate someone who can match my sarcasm, snark, and wit.), and the ability to stay grounded. I hope he never changes, because it would be a damn shame. I walked in enraged, and walked out laughing. I’m not that moody, not even for a Scorpio, but again, refer to my opening line.

I spoke, he listened, and we discussed possibilities for me to meet with someone who fits the criteria of what I need moving forward. He could have blown me off; instead he tried to problem-solve, and that is going above and beyond in my eyes. A far more jaded doctor would have passed me off to someone else, simply for being honest. God forbid you point out to another human-being that there’s a flaw in the system, or that they, themselves, are not perfect. Denial is not just a river in Egypt for some.

I’m proud of myself for handling this without reverting back to the old, angry version of myself who definitely would have handled things in a much more brusque manner. Despite being angry, I was calmer than I thought I’d be once I sat down. I know the initial look on my face was anything but cute, but that frosty look is my usual, unapproachable “Don’t fuck with me” look. I have scared postal workers with that expression; I know it’s not a good face. My doctor, all credit to him, seemed concerned, but unphased. He knew something was wrong, he just didn’t know what it was. Once he heard me out, everything was okay. In no way, shape, or form was he pacifying me, nor did he come off patronizing. I know the difference, and I would have walked out if he’d tried it. He’s too smart for that level of nonsense, and he earned another layer of my respect for keeping things real.

I know a lot of people would not have gone back, and many would not have been able to go back and be honest with him, but I’m no ordinary patient. I believe in full disclosure, even if I keep certain things private and keep pieces of myself to myself; I still don’t believe in accepting bullshit from anyone and eating it politely with a knife and fork. That’s not my style, nor will it ever be. I lack the ability to bite my tongue. I’d rather be honest and say what I’m feeling, as opposed to keeping it inside. That’s not healthy.

As I write this, it seems as though my ulcer is acting up once again, so I definitely don’t have the time to hold any more stress or anger inside my body. I need healthy outlets, and writing has always been my first line of defense because it’s one of the clearest most concise forms of communication. You don’t write as long as I’ve been writing if you don’t have something to say and have some serious talent to back up the words, otherwise, words are just that; words.

Did I feel better walking out of this appointment? A little. I’m glad I was my usual honest self and got the majority of the anger out of my system, but ultimately I still came away upset, just not at the doctor. He admitted that he wouldn’t have asked certain questions if I’d looked more closed off. If I had looked like I had a wall up, he wouldn’t have dug so deep. I wanted to point out that just because a woman has makeup on, it doesn’t mean she’s an open book. Yes, I answered his questions. I did side-step a few, whether he noticed or not is another subject entirely, however, is wearing makeup what’s hindering me in getting proper care? It made me wonder if that has been an issue for the past ten years or so; the simple fact that I don’t walk into doctor’s appointments looking like death, which is usually how I feel on the inside. Is that REALLY what people are paying attention to?! Is everything artifice? I do believe it’s called “Invisible Illness” for a reason. Thirty minutes of my time to look human may seem ridiculous, but that thirty minutes calms me down so that I actually go to the damn appointment. Some doctors recommend coloring books to their patients as a form of therapy. Well, makeup is art therapy for me. It wasn’t even my best work or full-on glam. Let’s not judge the broken, pretty mess by her packaging. Let’s not make assumptions. It sort of makes me want to show up in sunscreen and mascara next time, just to screw with him. However, that’s my “It’s over 90 degrees and I’m going to the grocery store in sunglasses” look. I try to look a little more human and pulled together when I’m face-to-face with someone.

In hindsight, I realized that nearly all of my doctors, both past and present, are men, save one. I have an appointment in August, but I’m not about to ask another woman how she feels about my eye shadow blending skills. <rolls eyes> The first time I was there, the nurse went on and on about how good I smelled. That’s such a girl thing because my friends do it all the time with me. Women notice things that men do not. Men are more visual, but I don’t wear makeup for men; I wear it for me.

In my dealings with my beauty blog, I have sponsors, so I’m occasionally paid to write honest, unbiased reviews (Yes, they’re coming to the right person.) and I’m constantly trying new products revolving around hair, nails, skin, and actual makeup. It’s something I do for fun, something I hope will one day become more. However, the pain I experience has already held me back these past few years in terms of expansion, of starting a YouTube channel, and branching out. I re-branded last year, but my confidence levels are nonexistent, so if I’m not comfortable posting a photo of completed work to Instagram, then I’m definitely not ready for a camera in my face 3-4 days a week when I need to be filming. Despite support from my friends that I am definitely skilled enough to do it, I don’t feel ready. But does that mean I should be taken less seriously when seeking medical help? NO. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in my case, its skill-set. That’s not even 1/100th of what I can do in this world, and by judging it, you’re taking me down to less than a centimeter. Not cool.

After my appointment someone asked how I was feeling mentally, and I said “Let’s face it; I’ll never be okay. This is not fixable. Maybe if someone had done something to help me when I was six, or seven, or eight, I’d be okay now, but they didn’t. I feel neglected. I feel like my life isn’t my own. No one should have to carry this pain with them, this knowledge, and have to keep on living.” I then realized I’m deeply upset, and there’s no fixing it. I could go to a hundred doctors and there’s no cure in sight. I am who I am; imperfect, shattered, hilarious, loyal, honest, goofy, inappropriate, a permanently exhausted night owl, the person everyone turns to in a crisis or for advice, the girl “most likely to take a bullet for you”, the person described as “part lawyer/part doctor/part pitbull”, the psychic/spiritual guru for friends and for many of my close family members, mother to Cat and Kitten, a kickass Godmother, a truly amazing sister, and the very best friend anyone could ever have. I wear so many hats and own so many titles. That’s my “normal”.

Beneath the positive, there is also a lot of fucking pain. You can’t mask that. No one sells “You’ve been through hell” concealer, or everyone in this world who suffers from an invisible illness of any kind would be stocking up. I look in my own eyes and see it. They may look sparkly and green in the right light, to the right person, but to me, that’s predominantly a sign of intellect and personality, nothing more. I have a dark, twisted sense of humor. People either enjoy it or they stare at me and say “I don’t get it.”, which usually results in the response “Bless your heart.”, mostly because I don’t have time to explain it to someone if it goes over their head. I’m quick-witted and even quicker with my sarcasm. You either get it or you don’t, but it’s not intended to be offensive, unless my tone changes or I intentionally speak a different language in front of you.

Suffering from depression isn’t just abysmal highs and lows. For me, it’s living in pure darkness and trying to find shards of light scattered here and there. Light comes in many forms for a creative type. I love learning how movies are made. I am fascinated by certain aspects of history. Certain artists intrigue the hell out of me. I actively study parts of the world that most people will never see in person. I have traced my ancestry back to 85 B.C., which was no easy feat, and I’ve researched cats so thoroughly that you can ask me anything about domestic or big cats. I never stop learning. And yet, I openly and honestly discuss suicide in the same breath. I don’t believe in hiding it. I don’t believe in masking the pain or lying.

Last month, one of my cousins tried committing suicide via overdose. It deeply affected her oldest daughter and other family members. While they are all taking it personally and questioning the kind of person she is, I’m the one person who seems to truly understand how much pain she is in to have hit rock bottom. I know how awful it is, and I refuse to sit in judgment of her for it. In fact, all I want to do it help her. I’m sick of their attitudes. They’re acting like it’s all about them when the truth is; her pain has NOTHING to do with them and EVERYTHING to do with being strong for decades and finally breaking down. I didn’t realize how deeply it affected me until I broke down in the shower one day last week. I am deeply concerned, especially now that she is back in the hospital for the third time. What they deem as selfish, I see as a diamond in a pressure cooker. That’s precisely how a doctor once described my own situation to me. I try to remember those words whenever I reach my breaking point, but it’s not easy to hold on to mere words when your support system is a mess, or nonexistent.

I spend 97% of my time alone, so how could I not think about suicide? Between the stress and the isolation, it’s hard not to. There are days when I’m taking a long walk, just to clear my head, and there’s this little voice hoping I get hit by a truck or a bus, or a car not paying attention. Unfortunately with my luck, I’d be in a body cast and no one would ever think anything except that the driver was an idiot that didn’t see me. No one would ever think I had anything to do with it, and for the most part, I likely wouldn’t be thinking about it either because I have “city brain” and I’m very careful when I’m walking, but there have definitely been moments where I’ve nearly been hit because a driver wasn’t paying attention and each time, a large part of me was sad they stopped or that I was paying full attention. It’s sad to admit, but it’s also honest, and human. I despise my life and almost everything in it. I find it pointless to pretend that it’s okay. I am 1000% NOT okay. I cannot remember a time when I was okay. Passable? Yes, but okay? No.

As I constantly have to explain to other people, my ties in life are different from theirs. My Grandparents are gone. My parents are gone. I have a handful of cousins I am close to, and I just recently lost my Great-Aunt, who was the last tie I had to my father’s side of the family in this country, aside from my cousins who I am currently trying to avoid because they stress me out. I haven’t heard from my brother in months and constantly live in fear that I will get a phone call from a hospital or the country coroner’s office. I come out of my skin every single time my phone rings and I don’t know who the caller is. Every single day of my life, I question my existence. Between the migraines, the physical pain, and the emotional pain, there doesn’t seem to be much of a point in sticking around. Why would any sane person allow themselves to go through this kind of torture day in and day out?!

I used to stop myself from acting on these thoughts because I was afraid my brother would be the one who found me, and I couldn’t do that to him. His best friend committed suicide in 2005 and it left him devastated. I didn’t want him to find his sister dead; I was certain it would break him. Especially after we lost our parents. My brother isn’t me; he’s not strong. One of my best friends lost her brother to suicide and she has told me that no matter what I am going through, it’s a permanent solution to problems that are “temporary”. However, you can’t say that to someone who has spent the majority of their life in agony and who rarely, if ever, knows happiness. Nothing I’m going through is temporary. It is all quite permanent and very real. I don’t think my other friends are aware how much I’m hurting. I’ve only recently realized how one-sided our conversations are. My relationships and friendships are solid, but I will always be the black sheep. I’m needed when I’m needed, but where do I go when I’m in need? To a doctor and/or a licensed therapist, and right now, I’m not okay to sit with a therapist weekly, or even bi-weekly. I am gutted and I don’t have the emotional capacity to sit and discuss anything when I feel like an empty shell. I don’t care to stare at someone for 45-50 minutes. I don’t like wasting someone else’s time, nor my own. My last therapist dropped me during one of the worst times in my life. I genuinely trusted her. I’m not ready to be hurt like that again, nor will I allow it. She was the only therapist I’d ever liked, and her not so much as returning a call and referring me to someone else was incredibly unprofessional and rude. It’s something I’ll never forget or forgive. There is always a professional way to do something. It’s one of the first things I learned in business and I was eight years old at the time!

So my appointment went well, and I’m glad for that. I genuinely DO like this doctor (I wasn’t kidding about following him to China. That’s one of the highest compliments I can pay him. I’m certain he knows it was genuine.) and he’ll be getting one hell of an online review when I get a moment to collect my thoughts. Not because I have to, but because he deserves it. I’ve never written a review for a doctor before (I’ve recommended my former neurologist to people in need, but this is different.), but I want him to have a great one moving forward on every website I can slap one on. I don’t actually know anyone who could write something better, and that isn’t ego talking, it’s mere fact. For obvious reasons, I have protected his name this entire time. As I’ve said before, “privacy is not a setting”. I adhere to laws and boundaries, even if some of them are personally defined.

Even when he stops being my physician, I’m still going to feel protective of him; I discovered this accidentally. A family member made some very derogatory remarks to me about him while I was in the process of writing this and I’d never felt more defensive and protective of a doctor in my entire life. You would have thought she’d taken a shot at my brother! My reaction was to pause before thinking “Did she actually just say that to me and think I’d accept it?” However, she had, and my exact words were “I’m a very good judge of character and unlike you, I trust my judgment and intuition. Number two, this is someone you have never met, spoken to, or spent five minutes in a room with.” I later informed her that it was disrespectful and inappropriate for her to attack a stranger based on her personal experience of working in a hospital. You can’t just go around assuming that every doctor is egotistical and arrogant. Far more was said than that, and I refuse to give it credence by repeating it. However, nothing I said was negative or led her into this series of hateful, rude, callous, inappropriate remarks. She did end up apologizing, and I’ll chalk it up to her usual idiocy, but much like attacking my work, which I’d never allow, you do NOT attack this doctor. I may have been mad at him for an isolated incident, but I did not disclose anything more than facts. This is someone I respect. That means he’s done something to earn it.

When you find a good doctor, however brief the encounter may be, it’s important to let them know which qualities they possess that they need to hold on to in order to survive as medical professionals. It’s a sad jungle out there. Finding someone amazing who cares and genuinely wants to help people, and isn’t egotistical, is very similar to finding a unicorn. Apparently, they DO exist in the medical community if you search hard enough. 😉 There’s an immense difference between having a healthy ego and having a Donald Trump complex.

In one of the most screwed up healthcare systems in the world, any American citizen that becomes a medical doctor has just completed an additional four years of medical school and, depending on their chosen field, there is a 3-7 year residency or fellowship process after graduation. It puts the average physician over $175,000 in debt, if not more. Yes, they are choosing to become doctors, and no, most of them don’t go around earning our respect as patients because insurance companies dictate far more than they should be allowed to, but there are good doctors out there. Bedside manner isn’t a given, it is often learned, and so much more is learned by taking time for your patients. In their efforts to help people, they can become doctors that focus solely on research or they can practice medicine based on their field choice in the state(s) in which they are licensed. I found the needle in the haystack, and I am glad our paths crossed. I think I’m a better person for it.

Broken, pretty mess and all.

You’re my readers and you all know I’m not afraid to be exactly as advertised; a “Speaker of Powerful Words”. I want what I say to make an impact, regardless of the subject matter. It’s why I choose to write strong things, like “The Descent Into Hell Is Easy”. That is one of my favorite pieces from earlier this year, but there are always stronger pieces in the pipeline. Thankfully, my mind works in mysterious ways.

Do sleduyushchego raza moya lyubov’ (Until next time, my loves),

Li

Aut viam inveniam aut faciam-“I shall either find a way or make one.”

P.S. Yes, he knows I’m a writer and that I wrote the angry piece. I was honest with him. He’s getting a copy of it, and this, at my last appointment, along with my heartfelt thanks.

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I Don’t Have Time For This

“I am a migraine, that occasionally gets to be a human-being.”  😦

In preparation to meet with my new neurologist next month, I forwarded a copy of my current migraine report to myself so I can print it and bring it with me. In one month, which was recent, I counted thirty migraine days. That’s not just “chronic”; that’s unfair. No one should have to live like that.

When people see me pushing through my migraines by continuing to write, by going places (which isn’t often), by running errands, etc., they assume I’m okay. I’m NOT okay, but I have learned, in the nearly twenty years I’ve suffered from migraines, when I can push myself and when I cannot. I pay dearly for it, but I also think sometimes it’s unhealthy to be in your room 24/7, never leaving the house, never breathing fresh air, because while you’re suffering, life is also passing you by. I’ve lost an enormous chunk of my life being sick, and not just with migraines. It’s hard not to feel robbed at times.

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I wish I fully believed this. 

At a doctor’s appointment at the end of last month, I stupidly felt incredibly trusting of the new physician, and in the last six or seven minutes, he revealed he’d be leaving in six weeks. :0 I’ve never seen a doctor wince when he looked at me, but whatever my eyes or face did in that moment, and I’m not sure what either of them did because I tried to play it off with humor, he knew he was in deep trouble. I’ve had cheating boyfriends not look at me with that kind of pain on their face, so I automatically knew this was a good guy. Of course, I knew that the second our eyes met when I was being handed paperwork.

When I left his office that day, I sat outside for over forty-five minutes, contemplating the effort it took for me to get there in the first place. Physically, mentally, and emotionally; it was a LOT. The strength it took to open up and be comfortable with someone new was monumental. If I didn’t truly need to be there, I wouldn’t be. As I sat outside, I went through every emotional range you could think of. I nearly went back upstairs and told him off, except I actually like him, which is SO rare, I’d follow him to China. I understand that a lot of doctors have contracts and can’t take patients with them, but I have no intention of staying with this practice if I’m not going to be understood by the person who replaces him. If I’m not going to be treated with the same courtesy and respect, I’m out. I’ve dealt with this enough times to know that I don’t have to stick around if I’m not getting what I need out of the situation.

I can wait to see what he does, Google the new location and see if he accepts my insurance and make the switch if he does, but ultimately, I am going into my next appointment pretty fucking angry with him. It’s SO unprofessional to be seeing new patients 6-8 weeks before you leave. I know that wasn’t his call, but I still have the right to deem it unprofessional and to be pissed.

When I spoke with him on Monday to let him know that the medication he’d prescribed had affected me pretty badly, it just plain made me sad because we have this great rapport. I’ve searched FOREVER for a doctor that “gets it” and ultimately, gets me. I nearly cried when he said he was leaving, but I was wearing expensive mascara, so I forced myself to stop. I haven’t felt right since that day. Not mentally, not emotionally, and physically I’ve felt weakened and messy in the sense that I am slowed down from a physical perspective. 😦 It was like taking an emotionally draining beating, except the only physical interaction was a handshake. When was the last time a doctor met me and said it was a pleasure meeting me? A long time.

I’m both too young, and too old, not to mention far too smart, to place faith in people and be left hanging again and again. It was like being on an amazing date, but immediately learning something wasn’t right; you click, but you’re both going in opposite directions. That’s the best analogy I’ve got right now.

The relationship between doctor and patient is based on trust. If you cannot trust someone, then they cannot be your doctor. There are certain types of medicine where this is even more crucial because you have to communicate with your doctor. Consistency with the person you’re seeing is important, at least it is for me. I don’t want to build trust with someone and have to start over again. I’ve done it so many times already and I don’t want to do it again. This, in my mind, was the last time I planned on making an effort. I went into this new situation kicking and screaming. I tried talking myself out of the appointment the morning of, so clearly, I already sensed all was not right in Whoville. I don’t know if there’s still pieces of me left at ground zero, but I DO know I walked away a different person.

When he asked me to describe myself, I noticed that he disagreed with my assessment. He doesn’t think I’m a broken mess. He actually said “I can’t put you in a box because you don’t fit in any of the tiny boxes. I could, but it would be wrong, and that’s not fair to you.” I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to hear a doctor say that to me, but it’s been the majority of my life. Someone more jaded would just check off the little boxes and send me on my way; passing me off to someone else to get me out of their office, instead of taking the time to truly help me. He not only wants to help me, he’s making an effort. But in doing so, he’s upsetting me because he won’t be there much longer, and ultimately, where the hell does that leave me?

Square one is not a fun place to be. I was back at square one when I showed up in his office. I kept my appointment, I filled out the insane paperwork, I sat with him for nearly an hour, and I haven’t been okay since.

When I see him next week, he’s going to get an earful. I’m putting it all down on paper so that I get it out of my system before he even says a word. It needs to be said, and I need the catharsis. He needs to know that by seeing me late in the game, it was a gross error in judgment. If I needed someone to care about me temporarily…well, I’ve got family for that. Quite frankly, I’m at the point where I prefer for my insurance to pay for people to care about me, as opposed to dealing with people who should care simply because it’s what you do.

The one diagnosis I did come away with was shocking. I knew I was experiencing PTSD, but C-PTSD, or Complex PTSD, is more common in military personnel returning from active combat. It is also prevalent in veterans. The discussion we had about trauma brought up a lot of things I thought I’d moved past. It also brought up a lot of things I thought I’d dealt with. This is precisely why I’ve felt worse since meeting with him. He picked at all of my old scars and opened them up. I’m slowly bleeding to death and it’s messing with my ability to function.

Reading, writing, watching TV, hell, watching sports; I’ve been unable to do a whole lot since that day. There have been days where I’ve barely been able to articulate how upset I am, except I’m incredibly contained most of the time because I’m very in my own head, so if you get me talking, I don’t always stop. On the plus side, no one disagrees with my thought process in terms of how I feel on this subject. I actually said that I’d be about 75% less forthcoming with a new doctor because I already feel like my trust is shattered. It’s an awful feeling. And yes, I pretty much have it in my mind that once he leaves, I will, too. I don’t foresee myself committing to someone new, not unless they make a damned good case in twenty minutes or less.

Ultimately, there aren’t a lot of medication options left for me, and unless you’re on medication, I don’t feel you actively need to be seeing specific types of doctors. I wouldn’t go to see a surgeon unless another doctor believed I might need to have surgery, was planning to have surgery, or was recovering from surgery. It’s all very common-sense based in my eyes. Either you need to be seeing someone, or you don’t. I certainly don’t want to waste my time if a doctor isn’t there for me. That’s not how the relationship works.

I keep saying “I don’t have time for this.”, because I don’t. Life is so fucking short. Your support systems, from personal to professional to medical, all need to be in sync with who you are as a person and what you need. If they’re not, you have to be honest with them. If you still don’t get what you need through that honesty, then yes, you must walk away. And sadly, you have to be okay in doing so. No matter how painful it is.

He may not agree with me, but I know what a broken mess looks and feels like. I may have walked into his office like I was going out on a date (That wasn’t my intent.), but that’s usually how I go to doctor’s appointments; slightly dressed up with makeup on. Someone told me last night that my face masks the pain I am in. I asked if that made me fake, and they said no, it’s just a point of pride for me. I feel like crap, but I don’t have to look like crap, too. So yes, I put forth effort into looking like a human-being, but by no means is it a “mask”. It’s not false.

A good doctor usually talks to me like a peer or colleague almost immediately, which he did. Technically, he and I ARE peers. I enjoy people who treat me like a person, with no judgment. They’re rare, but they exist.

A huge part of me doesn’t want to go back, but I said I would. He said he’d “do his homework” when we talked because he “really wants to help me”. He even said “Hey, read this book. You write, so I know you read.”, and thus far the book is fabulous. When was the last time I took a book recommendation from a guy? Roughly fifteen years ago. I did actually take a recommendation from someone else last year, but I will have to get the name of the book from him again because I didn’t get around to reading it after it sat for nearly two months. It was the subject matter though, not the guy. I adore him, but there is a time for specific subject matter and when you’re in the middle of writing something positive and happy, that’s probably NOT a good time to read something sad. The book was about the Holocaust, but I still can’t remember the name of it.

So, if I’m dark and crazy this month, you all know why now. Hell hath no fury like me pissed off at a doctor when I didn’t need to be. I actually think he’s a little afraid of me, so I hope he takes my outburst well because I don’t think I’ll be able to contain myself twice.

Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’ll be back soon.

Lisa-blue copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

Privacy Isn’t A Setting

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A few days ago it dawned on me precisely what bugs me most about some of my family members. To be fair, it’s probably in my top ten things that bug me about them. It’s not just the fact that their combined I.Q. is my shoe size (I’m a nine, in case you were wondering.), but their flagrant use of personal information and photos on social media makes me cringe. Their motto seems to be “put it on social media, and that will make it true”, when in reality, photos are often artifice.

A year or two ago a “friend” pointed out that I have zero photos of myself on Facebook. She had actually gone through every single album of mine (Who DOES THAT?!) before messaging me to demand that I send her a photo of myself “because we’ve been friends for so long and she has a right to know what I look like”. I nearly laughed myself onto the floor at her audacity. My response went a little something like this: “I’m an EXTREMELY private person. I utilize social media for work and to keep in touch with close friends who live far away, but that does not mean I owe anyone the rights to my private life, and that includes personal photos.” In response, she claimed she was “super private too”, which is laughable because she is constantly posting photos of herself, as if she’s trying to prove something. I went on to describe myself as a “little old lady with blue hair and no teeth” and further stated I was “somewhere between age 10-100 and she could choose one she felt best fit the profile.” She hasn’t spoken to me much since, and I’m good with that because the truth is, it’s not a deep, personal friendship, nor has it ever been. She’s mostly an acquaintance, despite “knowing me” for over twenty years. This chick couldn’t tell you a damn thing about me without Facebook to remind her, so I wouldn’t exactly call her a friend. The fact that she feels the need to report that her new dog farts more than her husband is really unnecessary. I cannot imagine saying or sharing something like that on social media. It’s inappropriate, but to each their own? :/

My best friend Marion flew from Germany to meet me after we’d been friends for several years. She had zero clue what I looked like, other than knowing I had long dark hair and light eyes, and that I’m very fair on the complexion side. When I met her at the airport, it was like we’d been friends forever. My hair color has changed so many times during over 20+ year friendship, and she will swear up and down that I’m stunningly gorgeous. I’m concerned she has cataracts. 😛 I simply do not see what my friends see when they look at me. They will all say I’m not what I describe. Other than stating my current hair color, height, and the best description of my eyes I can give, there’s no other way to say “short and pale”. There’s a reason that when I wear heels, they’re at least 3-6 inches high.

But I digress; privacy is crucial to how I live my life. I write the truth, I speak my mind, I say precisely what others think and may not have the courage to say, but I don’t even mention my cat’s names on here. I made that decision for privacy’s sake, and because a friend started calling them Cat and Kitten and I thought it was cute. Suffice it to say, they have very unique, creative names that I’m proud of. When someone does happen to hear their names and the story behind them, they’re impressed. I am always complimented for my creativity in pet names. Fluffy, Mittens, Pumpkin, Princess, Muffin, Buttons, Cookie, etc., that shit does NOT fly with me. I also don’t use human names for pets. It’s a rule.

When I refer to a guy, I often use his middle or last name. That might very well be what I call him in every day life, but again, it’s very much a privacy thing. I’m not posting photos of him and invading his personal life, or bringing direct attention to his place of employment. If you’re in a relationship with a writer, you know you’re going to be written about in some capacity somewhere along the line, but you also need to know ahead of time to be on your best behavior before I break out the Taylor Swift songs. 😉

I’ve written about a lot of people in passing, and I’ve never named names. My brother’s name is not a secret, but that’s an entirely different story and YES, I struggled with that SO MUCH. Ultimately his health is so much more important than my protecting him. Spreading the word about what he’s going through and getting him some much-needed help is far more important. He has yet to have anyone approach him and ask if he’s my brother, so I think he’s good, at least on that level. The fact that he no longer looks healthy might have something to do with that. 😦 As for the rest, not so much. It seems people are much more apt to helping an animal than a human-being. I’ve never understood that. It makes me cringe to see how much humanity humans have lost.

I don’t remember exactly when I started my Instagram account, but I can tell you that it’s original intent was for my work as a makeup artist. It isn’t attached to this platform because they’re separate, for obvious reasons. Thus far, it is full of photos of flowers, food, a few makeup items, and one or two cat photos. Like I said, not my original intent. But again, I struggle HARD with posting photos of my completed work on myself, often deleting forty photos every day I put makeup on because they’re “not good enough” or because I’ve deemed the angle “weird”, which it usually is. I don’t mess with the filters, either. If you don’t look good the first time, then retake the photo and keep going until you get the most accurate portrayal of your work. Thus far, I’ve shared exactly two photos with close friends, and no one else. Posting it online crosses such an immense personal line for me because privacy is mandatory in my life, and once you throw yourself into cyberspace in such a manner, privacy is dead and buried. It becomes a setting, and nothing more. I’m not okay with that.

So to see my family posting hideous photos of their newborn genuinely makes me cringe (I’m not exaggerating. I know cute when I see cute. That baby is NOT cute.). Why do people feel the need to post announcements on Facebook to thousands of their “closest friends and family”? Anyone can snatch up those photos, especially the ones that had personal info on them in the background, and the baby’s wrist band, and track you down. It’s a simple fact. If I could zoom in on them, which I did not because I don’t care to do so, what would a stranger do? If that occurred to me, why did this NOT occur to them with a newborn in their arms?!

When did birth announcements go out of style? Is it too hard to mail a fucking envelope? I would NEVER publicly put a newborn on display like that. Not online, not en masse, and certainly NOT because I feel the need to show off. I’ve never posted a photo of my Goddaughter for that precise reason. Not her baby photos and not a current photo. She is a CHILD and it is my job to PROTECT her. The Internet is a place of exploitation; it does not promote the healthiest “sharing” experience for photos of babies and children. Let’s call that my detective brain, but it’s also common sense, which is something sorely lacking in today’s society. I’d rather be slightly paranoid than the stupidest person on the planet.

My cousins needs to STOP. Give the kid a few months before you show me photos (Upwards of sixty per day. Honestly, he hasn’t gotten better-looking since being born on Friday and hasn’t done anything even remotely interesting, so please save the photos for yourself! Stick them in an album until he’s thirty.), and PLEASE, pour me a double shot of Kentucky’s finest bourbon first because, EWWW! Yes, I have very high standards on newborn cuteness. They’re called “my baby photos”. If you can’t compete with them, you’re not a cute baby. These are the facts. I’m just being honest. I truly lack the ability to lie and tell you your baby is cute. My face will give it away in half a second.

It’s wonderful that the baby is healthy, despite being born three weeks early. My cousin actually looks like he’s going to puke in a few photos holding him. Again, I feel like there should be some semblance of privacy there. Keep SOMETHING to yourselves. He’s not the one posting them though; it’s his wife. Whatever she wants, he acquiesces to. I find it unnerving.

I had to make an executive decision to block everything from here on in because I cannot abide by what they’re doing. On top of making me uncomfortable from a privacy perspective, you’re letting people know precisely where you are at all times. We don’t live in the safest world and it’s important to be smart about what you post and how you go about it. Announcing “Home from the hospital.” was one of the stupidest things I’ve seen him do, but I ignored it. I’m going to ignore a lot from now on because these are not people who enjoy the truth. They’re people who want what they want, when they want it, and genuinely seem to enjoy burying their head in the sand.

The other decision I made was to prioritize my health, and in doing so, I will not be attending the Bris. My cousins don’t know this yet, but after being told it would be the end of this month earlier this year (the due date was the 25th), that was what I’d prepared for. First babies are usually on time or late. Based on his healthy weight and size, I can only assume the due date may have been miscalculated since my cousins’ labor was induced due to high blood pressure. Instead of the Bris being the original date I was given, it is this Friday. In the middle of the day. I am battling migraine after migraine with no break. I am dealing with too much pain within my body. I am NOT okay to be in a space with the nearly 200 invited guests (I shit you NOT! I’m baffled by this. 100% a “Facebook event”. I’ve decided to not respond at all. They won’t even notice I’m not there.) and a newborn. I can’t do that to myself.

I will go on my own, at another time, and bring them gifts. Forty-five minutes, maybe an hour, and I won’t have to deal with an over-crowded apartment and loud noises. I fully intended to be there for him, but his parents and all of his siblings will be there, so he should be fine. I absolutely won’t be missed. If he’s annoyed, angry, or disappointed, so be it. I asked myself if he’d drop everything to be present for anything in my life and the answer is no, he wouldn’t be, so I shouldn’t feel an ounce of guilt. In the year and a half I’ve lived here, we have not seen each other once. The one time I asked him for help, he said no, after having said he’d do anything for me because I’m family. We live thirty minutes away from each other. Clearly I’m not much of a priority. Any time I’ve suggested doing something, he’s told me coming up this way “makes him anxious” or he’s made an excuse, like saying he wanted to do something with me, but he’d only “fall asleep” while doing it. Really?! I’m great company, I’ve never had anyone fall asleep on me, When his wife decided we should all do something together, I wanted to tell her that I’m no one’s third wheel, because that is genuinely how I feel. I can spend an hour with you, but I’m not meeting a couple for dinner unless I am bringing someone with me. Yes, I can go alone and I’m fine in doing so, but do I want to deal with a couple and their nausea? Not so much. Do that with your couple-friends, not with family. My cousin should be allowed “out to play” on his own without a babysitter/chaperone. How much trouble can he get into with me?! #1- We’re related. #2- I’m NOT going to steal her husband! Refer to #1. #3- Couples should have healthy individual relationships with other people as well as relationships with other couples. #4- Please refer to #1. If she can go out on her own with her family, then he should feel confident to do the same. Pretty soon, he’s going to be BEGGING for breaks from being trapped at home with a wife, dog, screaming child, overbearing mother, and overbearing mother-in-law. Call it a hunch. I’ve just become extremely unsympathetic and incredibly unavailable. I refuse to go over there until his mother returns to Florida. If I have to spend five minutes in her presence, she won’t survive it.

A close friend, who is very secure in herself, casually mentioned to me that any woman would be intimidated by me being close with their husband. She’s fine that her husband and I talk. She knows he’s like a brother to me and that I have zero interest in him. A wedding band on a man’s hand is like a big red EUNUCH sign on his forehead. LOL. While I find that utterly baffling (other women being intimidated by me), I took a good look at that particular side of my family and realized that compared to them, I am basically a supermodel. One cousin asked what foundation I was wearing in a recent photo because “your skin looks so flawless.” When I replied that I wasn’t wearing foundation, she asked if I’d used a filter on the photo. No, I hadn’t. Without outright saying it, she let me know I looked a little too good, and again, I thought it was so bizarre, so yes, I could understand the comment my friend made, if we weren’t related! Basically, my cousin is an extension of my brother. I don’t see either of them as men; I see them as little boys. They could have twelve kids a piece and they’d still be little boys to me, and eunuchs. There’s no sexual component to being friends with a sibling or a cousin. I find that utterly ridiculous. However, I’m not going to argue with a petty woman or my cousin who thinks she’s his savior. If he wants a relationship with me, he’s going to have to work for it.

On a much sadder note, late Saturday night my Great-Aunt, the last of sixteen siblings on my Dad’s side, passed away. My five cousins are deeply upset, as they should be. The funeral is today and then Shiva begins for seven days. Four of my cousins are sitting Shiva and I have agreed to do it as well. My Great-Aunt had a rich, colorful life and was an interesting, groundbreaking woman. The funeral is going to be a fight because four of my cousins are arguing with their Uncle about the cemetery choice. I agree with them; she would have preferred a Jewish service and a more religious burial. She sacrificed a lot being married to my Uncle. She left her Orthodox Jewish family and rigid tradition to marry him. However, she still lit Shabbat candles on Friday night and baked lasagna and made meatballs every Sunday. She never truly forgot where she came from.

I spent most of yesterday fielding their issues, trying to help them, taking a call from the lawyer’s office, etc. I’m amazed I didn’t have a stroke. By the time I was ready to make dinner, I was a shaking pile of lunatic. Her funeral is in less than nine hours and I’m still awake, typing this, unable to sleep, dealing with severe pain in my upper back and ribs.

So yes, you get written glimpses into my life, and I do share photos here and there, but the chances of me posting thousands of photos simply to show off or look like an idiot are slim to none, and slim just left town. I have yet to find a single reader that thinks “Man, she doesn’t write enough about herself.” The comments I get that are the most profound are when I am as honest as I’ve been today. Or when I am writing about specific subject matter.

If you’re close to me, you know who I am. If you’re a friend or a family member I deem worthy enough to have a relationship with, then you know I have nothing to prove. People always tell me they love me because I’m always real, all across the board, and they don’t have to question if I’m different outside their presence. I’m just me, in all my craziness. It’s okay to be low-key and real. It’s okay to be private.

Am I judging my family for oversharing like they’re the fucking Kardashians? They’re new parents, and they’re stupid, so yeah, maybe a little, maybe a lot. Do I think what they’re doing is dangerous? Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind that it is unsafe. However, I’m smart enough to keep my mouth shut. When it comes to babies and parents, their first thought will be that I am jealous. They won’t hear the knowledge and intelligence in what I am saying, they will simply think I want what they have. Do I want to be a moron who doesn’t know when to stop? Fuck no! Do I want to tote around a hideous little child that everyone keeps saying is adorable and handsome? G-d NO. When I have children, I don’t think anyone will have to lie about their looks. I’m good breeding stock. 😉 And yes, I just laughed at my own joke.

P.S. Apparently I’m not the only smart person on this planet. A sweet friend of mine just posted a photo of herself and her infant son at the beach. For his safety and protection, she used a filtering app to shield his face with an emoji, so the only thing you can actually see are his lips, and nothing more. I praised her for being SO smart and protective as a Mom and she agreed with me that it’s the highest priority. So, she got to share the photo, which is a sweet photo of mother and son, but she in NO WAY exploited her infant by putting his face all over the Internet. Brains, class, and beauty. Yes, we’re out there. 🙂

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Pull The Trigger

Almost two weeks ago, after an appointment with the Certified Nurse Practitioner at my doctor’s office, I went into the afternoon with one thought in mind: What are my triggers? It began to nag at me, until a few things dawned on me.

I keep a food journal to track what I’m eating each day. I’ve done this for a little over a year now, mostly because I wondered if something I was eating was causing my migraines to become worse than they were prior to my move. After going over it repeatedly, I genuinely don’t think my diet is triggering me in terms of stress or my migraines. It’s simple, boring, repetitive, crazy healthy (for the most part), and I’d probably murder you for a Triple Classic with bacon and cheese from Wendy’s and a baked potato with extra sour cream if I went within a minute of the place. Notice I didn’t say a mile. I haven’t touched fast food in almost a year and a half. I catch myself missing it when I’m stressed, or a few days a month when I just NEED a change of pace.

The CNP was exceedingly clueless as to what is causing my blackouts. I would refrain from blonde jokes temporarily, but she opened the door wide open the following morning when she called and yelled at me about the medication that was prescribed to me after she’d left for the day. And by yell, I mean she has a very shrieky voice and it is offensive to my ears, especially when it goes up an octave and she’s actually yelling. She blew off my lab work like it was no big deal when I questioned it, thus leading me to wonder if she can read lab results because I can, and I’m not a medical professional. I questioned the issues because they’re exceedingly visible (Elevated white count, which is NOT uncommon in Fibromyalgia sufferers or in anyone with an autoimmune disease, except I never used either word in my visits to this doctor’s office. I knew my blood work would speak for itself.) and her answer was “Can you like pop in next week and re-do it?” (Said precisely like that.) Um, NO. I’ve got a hematoma that spans three fingers on the inside of my left forearm that IMMEDIATELY bruised. I hadn’t even left the office and it was BLUE, which never happens to me. I’ve applied Arnica gel to help speed up the healing, and it’s looking a lot better now. It went from looking like someone had taken a mallet to my arm, to looking like a trauma version of Saturn, to looking like a heart, and now that it’s almost gone, it’s just plain ugly.), but I’m not rushing back for blood work any time soon. If you aren’t concerned enough to call me about that, which my physician did NOT, then I’m not concerned enough to come running in. In fairness, my doctor should have looked at it and called me to go over it. That’s what every doctor should do if something doesn’t look right. I went in running a fever and that was also blown off like it was no big deal. “It must be because it’s a warm day.” No, that’s not it, USE YOUR BRAIN.

The entire appointment was useless. I didn’t need to come in to tell you I could fail a baseline test, or that my neurology appointment couldn’t be moved up. You didn’t “save me” a trip to the emergency room by having me come in to “assess the situation”. And for the record, they thought I’d come in because of my migraines, NOT because I’m blacking out and losing time almost daily. Why would I go to a primary care physician’s office over migraines?! I wouldn’t.

A smart person would have ordered an MRI or a CT scan ahead of my neuro appointment, just to be on the safe side, but this chick didn’t even have suggestions (Did you know CNPs earn roughly $98,000 a year when they are part of a medical practice? Factor that in and you’ll be able to tap into my disgust.). I was so distracted that I forgot to ask about new anti-nausea meds and a muscle relaxer. It only took three phone calls for that to get cleared up.

When she called to yell at me about the medicine, it was because, in her words, I should “only take the muscle relaxers at night”. I had to bite back the “Duh!” that I was thinking when what I almost said was “Chill, blondie! I wasn’t prescribed an entire bottle of them. I was prescribed fifteen pills.” I paid roughly .30 cents per pill because the doctor who wrote it (not mine) was afraid to give me a full prescription. That annoys me, because it’s more cost effective for me to have a prescription that is a month of medication, as opposed to a few days worth. The normal daily dose for this drug is 80 mgs. I was prescribed 10 mgs. One pill does NOTHING. Two is slightly helpful, but 30 mgs does the trick and helps all of the muscles in my body ease up a smidge. I am going to be extremely honest with my doctor about that when I call for a refill. I don’t particularly like the drug, but if it helps my muscles not be stiff when I wake up, then I’d prefer to stay on it until another doctor says otherwise.

The anti-nausea medicine is for twenty-one pills, which is a little more practical. The whole “passing the buck” onto the neurologist pisses me off. Implying that they could get me in sooner to see him was obviously not handled properly, if at all. The neurologists’ office told me when I got the appointment that this was the first opening available with any of their doctors. There were literally two times on the same day, and I chose the earlier of the two. I took what I could get. I know they’d contact patients if they had cancellations, but obviously, there’s no room. As a first-time appointment, I expected to wait. I’d rather wait and actually get the doctor’s full attention, as opposed to deal with a rushed physician who is completely overbooked.

In all of this craziness, I learned that my ultimate trigger isn’t something I’m eating, but an actual person. Anyone who seems to gain from your misery, pain, isolation, and fear that something is seriously wrong with you is just plain evil and is someone you should probably avoid. It’s not often I find myself hating people, but I realized I hate how I’m being treated. I hate how anyone can deny how horrible their treatment of me is, and in the classic deflection technique, tries to turn it back on me. That’s not love, it is hatred, and it is so palpable, it enrages me.

This person is the ultimate “self-harm”. Rarely is a kind word spoken to or about me, unless there’s an insult thrown into the mix. I’d elaborate, but it chaps my ass to the point where I just can’t. Repeating hateful things said about me that aren’t true is giving the other person credence. When you tell someone who is chronically ill, and has been for the majority of their life, that they “Don’t want to get well.” because they didn’t go running to pick up two prescriptions the second they were filled, or ask for someone else to pick them up, there’s not a whole that that you can say to that, is there? It’s a crock of shit. If a muscle relaxer and anti-nausea medication would cure and/or “heal” me, then I’d have been on both years ago. Is waiting 48-72 hours going to change anything? No. Not one bit. Those medications are not cures. They’re temporary solutions to long-term problems. They will not magically heal me.

When you genuinely care about a person, you don’t ever want to cause them harm with vicious, hateful words. But now I see what others have been trying to tell me for probably the past twenty years; this person doesn’t love me. Maybe they think they do, but when you love someone, you want what’s best for them. You can always say things without being cruel, hurtful, or harmful. If you can’t, there’s something wrong with you.

When you realize that a person in your life, however close or not, is a serious trigger for you, you need to be self-aware when you’re around them, especially if you’re left without a choice. I feel my best when I am completely away from my triggers, both human and otherwise, but I know that’s not always a possibility for everyone. Hell, it’s not a possibility for me at the moment, but at least I’ve fully identified the target and know how to deal with it.

The neutered, “I’ve been to therapy” Lisa would disengage, say nothing, and walk away, but would internally be enraged. However, I’ve decided that particular version of me isn’t acceptable in my daily life any more, whether I’m going to therapy or not, so I’ve decided to let the other person (and people) know that their mouth is a problem and that I expect them to keep it in check with me. Yes, they will likely slip up here and there, but it’s my duty to correct them immediately, or the issue will get bigger and continue to fester. It’s easier for me to say what needs to be said and shut it down, so I am able to let it go. Mostly because, I don’t think I’d be a very good inmate.

When coping with triggers, it’s important to first identify them. If you are able to write them down and nail them the first time you try, that’s good. If you need to nail them down in therapy, or over time, that’s good, too. It shows growth. It comes down to “What/who hurts me the most.” I see a lot of people mention family issues as major triggers, or their wife/husband/partners, friends, children, etc., and all of that is normal. You definitely want to write those down if they’re affecting you and find a way to turn it around, but also look at your past and present, as well. You might even want to look into future things you know will take place that are causing you some form of triggered pain.

Ultimately, we’re all different. I’m not Zen enough to ignore rudeness and insults that are blatant and feel personal. I can let a lot fly, but there are things I MUST call people on. And if I happen to remain silent about something, it will eventually come out at a more appropriate time. I do believe in the “write it out” philosophy, too. I am lucky in that 99% of the people who effect me do not know I write and if they do, they don’t read my work, so I can come here any time and write exactly what I’m thinking or feeling. I can be my authentic self, and if they ever stumble upon it (they aren’t interested, so the chances are slim to none), they’re probably too stupid to know who or what I am talking about.

When I used to write about friendships, one of my best friends thought everything I wrote was about her (on occasion it was. She should know better than to piss me off or push my buttons.), but I never named names, and I never would. Most of the time what I am writing is a generalization and pertains to no one in particular. If I have to resort to calling someone out by name, that’s a pretty sad day in my writing career, but I’d do it in a New York Minute if I had no other choice. Otherwise, I like to keep my integrity in check.

From here on in, I am willing to “pull the trigger”. That’s my analogy for shooting down someone or something that is causing me any form of harm or emotional pain. No more.

I’ve been through hell and back. I have the scars and the ashes to prove it, but I’m done feeling victimized and/or excluded from my life. I’m in control. I am the boss. If you step out of line, prepare for the warning shot. I only warn once.

‘Pull The Trigger’ is copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Memorial Day Silence

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It’s so important to remember what this weekend is truly about. I have deceased family members that served and one family member who currently serves. My brother’s best friend returned with a Purple Heart. He always says “the real heroes came home in coffins”.

I got to spend half of this holiday weekend solo. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy “me time”. I was able to enjoy a long walk, a manicure, and have lunch by myself. Even though the walk killed my legs (I’ve walked so much the last few days, I’m probably going to be crawling in the morning.), it was nice to be out of the house, breathing fresh air, and enjoying pretty decent weather.

It’s 11:00 PM on a Sunday night and I’m singing at the top of my lungs, and because there’s so much wood around me, the acoustics are amazing. I am reminded that my professionally trained voice is pretty damn good. I need to sing more, because I need that creative outlet, just as I need my other creative outlets. Not singing is like cutting myself off from oxygen. It’s also a waste of talent. I hate wasting my talents, regardless of what they may be.

I definitely need to write more. I have two things I am working on, plus the novel. I also have a seven hundred page book to tackle as a reader. That’s a lot of work and a lot of words, but I love it. Tomorrow, I will write and read, and enjoy what’s left of my solo “me time”.

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Exactly how did I come to be solo this weekend? My cousin Julia is getting married in Vermont. By now, she’s about four hours or so into “wedded bliss” (Yes, I just rolled my eyes. I won’t lie about it, either.). As far as I can tell, my brother & I are the only family members who were excluded from the guest list. Believe me, this did not come as a great shock. The family dynamics are such that I do not consider them family any more. I grew up with Julia and her brother, Jamie, along with three other cousins. I can honestly say I felt my cousins were forced upon me at times, but I always loved Seth, Jamie, and Julia the most. So yeah, it’s a slap in the face and the epitome of rude, but it just reaffirms why I distanced myself after my mother’s death. This behavior will remind me why I will continue to avoid them on a whole. These are the kind of people that would eagerly attend a book signing as “family”, but only so they can say they know me. They’re happy to jump on the bandwagon, but they can’t be genuine family members. Here’s a fact; they don’t me. They stopped “sort of knowing me” by age fifteen, and even then, they didn’t truly know a damn thing about me

The things that were said and done are completely unforgivable. I rarely think about it or focus on it, but this was one of those defining moment reminders that I’m “not goof enough” in their eyes to be treated with any level of respect. Family embraces you; they do not throw you to the sharks and allow you to be eaten alive.

In fairness, I would not have attended even if I had been invited, but when you have a wedding and turn it into a four-day weekend, it’s a little over the top for me. I know destination weddings are popular, but they’re also expensive for attendees. The one family member I know who is attending actually said “Thank God it’s not in Hawaii!” I know people who’ve gotten married in Hawaii and didn’t even tell people. If you want a vacation wedding, you don’t need to drag 100-500 of your closest “friends” and family along with you. If you haven’t seen or spoken to someone in the past 2-5 years, and will not see or speak to them again for the next 2-5 years, then they don’t need to attend your wedding. Those are actually a set of rules every good wedding planner will tell you about your guest list. I know this because I’ve planned a wedding that didn’t work out. My up-to-date guest list is currently at under ninety people, and approximately 50-60 won’t attend. I look at it like this; those that do attend will have one hell of a party to enjoy. My cousins, who had actually been on the list, have since been removed. My Grandmother would be appalled at the mere thought of me not sending them invitations, but I can’t abide by her every wish.

When I do get married, I want the people around me to be those who are genuine in their love and respect for me. I don’t need anyone who is full of crap attending simply because they were invited. Nor do I want gifts that have even a trace of negativity in them. BTW: If you’re getting married, register for things in reasonable price ranges and use registries from different stores, not just a few, because it’s unfair to expect people to attend an out-of-town function AND spend a fortune on a gift. My cousin’s registry was appallingly out of touch and overpriced. Buy your own damn vacuum cleaner! Don’t register for one that’s $600. Maybe get with it and DON’T register for a $900 gift from Bloomingdale’s (I’m appalled that this was actually fulfilled. I hope like hell it was his parents or hers, because that’s INSANITY.). Asking for a $2,000 gift card to Anthropologie is taking it a bit far. Am I off-base? I would cringe at the mere suggestion of asking people for such things. In fact, I’d rather people give to a charity that’s important to me. How many people use a $400 vase? Not many. Even if they’ve been married for thirty years. And honestly, I’m surprised she’s not registered at Tiffany’s considering the prices on some of these items. There’s nothing down-to-earth about any of that.

I get invited to funerals, but I don’t get invited to weddings. What does that say about my family? It says “You’re not good enough to celebrate the happy times, but come and pay your respects.” I have an answer for that; no. I did not attend my Great-Aunt or Great-Uncles’ funerals. I was not personally contacted about either passing. It’s not hard to make a fucking phone call, I made tons after my parents passed away and not once did I complain about who I had to call or how many calls I had to make. I did it all by myself.

My Great-Aunts’ funeral was seven months after I lost my Mom. I was a third-party mention. I was in the process of moving, surrounded my boxes and tons of junk. I didn’t have the ability at the time to drop everything and run three and a half hours away. I sent sympathy cards to each of them, one of which was returned to sender. But when my Great-Uncle passed away, I never would have found out if my Aunt hadn’t told me.

I take great issue with my mother’s immediate side of the family trying to use my Aunt as the go-between, and saying things about me that aren’t true. I was accused of being “hateful” and “angry” at my mother’s funeral. I was mourning TWO PARENTS who died young; how exactly did my professional courtesy toward them become an accurate portrayal of how I feel or think? They don’t know me to decipher that aspect of who I am. Not one of them said “I’m so sorry for your loss.” or “Call me if you need anything.” There was not a single kind word spoken to me or my brother. There was zero sympathy or empathy. For all I know, they might have been wasting the thirty minutes it took for them to show up and pay their respects! You can tell a lot by watching a person’s face and the three of them looked like someone had interrupted their Wednesday afternoon.

I was insulted by one cousin who, in response to the eulogy I gave, came up to me afterward and said “You’re such a great writer. You should really do something with that.” Wow! Why don’t you slap me?! The woman has zero tact and even less common sense. I have no tolerance for crap like that. It was a backhanded “compliment” and I could have let it go, but when I heard that I was “hateful” toward them at the funeral, which is untrue, I lost it. If said to my face, none of them would have faces to walk around with, so why say it behind my back? If you think there’s an issue to be resolved, grow a pair and say something to me directly.

Ultimately, the world doesn’t revolve around them, even though they believe it does. I was barely aware they’d be attending. I was dealing with a lot, and I still am. Have any of them reached out once in nine years to see how my brother or I are doing? No, but they’re more than happy to discuss me behind my back. That’s not family. They’re merely people I dealt with growing up. Family behaves like family, not when it’s convenient, but all the time. I just happen to have the unfortunate luck in being related to them, despite the fact that they’re my first cousins once removed (which to me, is basically saying they’re my second cousins. I don’t care about being genealogically correct on this one.)

I spent most of my life being compared to their children. My Great-Aunt would brag to my Grandmother (In her eyes, her Grandchildren were somehow superior to me simply by existing, My mother & Aunt also dealt with this while growing up.) and in turn, I’d have to hear “Why can’t you be more like…” How about because I’m ME. Being myself is damn good, and I’d prefer to remain me. With all due respect to my Grandmother, who was an amazingly tolerant, kind, giving, generous woman; I’m glad I’m me. She took a lot of shit from my Grandfather’s family, as well as her own, and having witnessed all that I did between her and my Mom, I won’t stand for it.

I have cousins who CHOOSE to be a part of my life. We didn’t grow up together, and at least one cousin feels robbed because of that fact, but we’re close and that’s a lovely thing. They’re smart enough to see me as I am and accept me. I can only have a relationship with people who are open to having a relationship with me. If you’re going to treat me like second-hand shit, and tell blatant lies about me, then NO, I am not going to engage with you. I have the right to pick and choose my friends, as well as my family. Simply put, I don’t need the drama, or the hassle.

I find myself content sitting here typing, with Kitten by my side being a cutie. I have thirty minutes of a movie left to watch, and I can binge-watch Pretty Little Liars on Netflix until I get sleepy. I can finish my laundry and just breathe. I am grateful for the time spent on self-care. I am grateful for the songs I’ve sung tonight, for the solitude and peace of it, and for the fact that I can pull some of that solitude back into myself Tuesday afternoon when I return from my doctor’s appointment. I missed NOTHING by not being invited, and I do not feel excluded. In fact, I feel superior.

Even more so, I am content in the fact that by being me, I’m one of the strongest people I know. I don’t have to be false or put on airs, or waste time thinking about what others think of me. Think away, providing your combined I.Q. isn’t equal to your shoe size. Life is short. I have real problems. Who gives a fuck about self-absorbed idiots? Not I.

P.S. Grandpa, I am deeply sorry that your sister’s children are not what you thought they were. I’m glad I see everyone clearly. I know you can see it, too.

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Life Is Full Of Everything

Nine years ago today, I lost my mother. I can’t always say it out loud, I can’t always talk about it, but I honestly have no clue how I’ve survived this long without her. Not because I need someone else in order to survive, that isn’t it, but because life is full of people that mean something to you, or at least, that’s what life should be.

Stupidly, I sometimes expect certain people to be a little more like my mother, and they aren’t. On a scale of my Mom to them, they’re epic failures. They don’t mean to be, they simply cannot be her. No one can. Irreplaceable people are precisely that; irreplaceable.

I have spent the past year and a half holding on tight to everything near and dear, and I’ve been a failure. I have needed help, and I’ve allowed my health to fail in the process. But ultimately, I have actually needed kindness, compassion, understanding, a person who listens, and someone who can put me first sometimes. No one ever does. Not for long.

When you go from being someone’s daughter to just being a person, there is a great shift. Suddenly, nothing is right in the universe, but there’s no way to fix it. And so, you move from one thing to the next at your own pace, trying to succeed and make a person proud, a person who is no longer here. Inevitably, there’s nothing you can do, because life is full of everything.

People, places, things, photos, shared moments, building memories. That’s life. It’s laughter, misery, friendship, companionship, love, and so much more. I went from being a daughter to just being. I’ve spent nine years trying to figure out who the hell that is. I still have no answers.

Hours before her death, the last words my mother spoke were “I love you, too.” I’d been sick for weeks at that point from Fibromyalgia pain. I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t move, and I had missed Mother’s Day the weekend before due to pain and a migraine. I felt like the biggest piece of crap on the planet. So getting the call that my mother had gone into cardiac arrest was like lightning striking through my entire body. I remember exactly what I was thinking and exactly what I said. I also remember thinking “This cannot be happening. This can’t be my life!”

After losing my mother, I got a brief respite for a few years before more damage could be done to my psyche. But as I sit here today, I realize some damage may be irreversible.

When you’re sick and you’re hurting, Google is your worst enemy. So tomorrow, I see my doctors’ Nurse Practitioner to see if she can be of any help in figuring out why I am suffering to the extent I am. Unfortunately, I suspect the only thing I will come away with is additional referrals to more doctors and maybe a prescription, or two. While there, I’ll get my lab work done. That should be an interesting experience. I hope someone reminds me to pack a snack. Especially since it’s going to be over 90 degrees tomorrow and I’m basically the Wicked Witch who will melt, with infinitely better skin. 😉 It’s 91 today and I can barely breathe.

Today has been a shaky day for me. I’m unable to function, unable to think, and it took repeated phone calls to find out what I was forgetting (and G-d help me, I WISH I had just let it go because when I did find out what I’d forgotten, knowing something wasn’t right with my memory, I wanted to crawl into a hole a die. I have less than 20 hours to solve the problem and quite frankly, I’d give up completely if I didn’t feel that not giving up was the right thing to do.). That I could not remember something from last week definitely makes me question what the hell is going on inside my brain. I want answers, not more questions. I’m terrified knowing I, once again, have to ask for help and that I might very well get shot in the process. It has occurred to me that, quite frankly, few people care to have your back when you’re down, but damn, they want you to have their back when they’re in the same place as you. They want you to fix their problems and make everything better, but are very happy to cast you aside once all is well in their own world. It doesn’t make you feel very good, and they’re, unfortunately, too stupid to understand that something isn’t right and they should reach out.

If we’re close and I say “I’m fine.” or you ask how I’m doing and I don’t answer, I urge you to look deeper. It’s extremely rare for me to say “I’m fine.” or “I’m okay.” when I’m not. If you dismiss it and take it at face value, then you’re showing me that you really don’t give a damn, because you’ve just accepted a blatant lie. I can’t remember the last time I was “fine” or “okay”. I wish people weren’t so self-absorbed and took a minute to really connect sometimes. No matter how good or bad my life may be, I still check in with people. If someone tells me they’re fine and I sense otherwise, I call them on it. That’s the mark of a true friend/family member.

I rarely go to the doctor. I’m not fine. I’m not okay. And quite frankly, I’m afraid for my life and sanity.

Life may be “full of everything”, but right now, life is empty, scary, lonely, and heartbreaking.

Here’s hoping my prayers are answered and that someone, somewhere, is looking out for me.

Lisa-blue

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.