Nephew Mind Blown

Last night, I ate a S’more and while I was holding my nephew. I got some marshmallow on my finger and then, like any good aunt, I stuck it in his mouth instead of licking it off myself.

I think I broke him. Not in a bad way. But I don’t think it had occurred to him before that that things could taste radically different. He just sat there, completely still, eyes wide.

How is this real life? I just don’t know.

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Well, It Happened

My ex-sister-in-law finally shat the bed hard enough that she may not be able to wiggle out of consequences for her terribleness.

I thought I’d feel more pleasure in it. I’ve been waiting a long time for her actions to catch up with her.

But the sheriff in the county has a Facebook page where he posts arrests and under his post about this were comments from other people who’ve been through the wringer with her. And it just made me so sick and sad. My first thought was “Why didn’t someone do something about her earlier so that there wouldn’t be this trail of people affected by her?”

But the amount of people who have tried to do something for her and about her is enormous. People have tried to intervene in her life from the moment it was obvious something was wrong when she was very young. They tried repeatedly. They keep trying.

Nothing worked.

And there’s no good outcome here. Regardless of how this turns out, she has kids who needed her to be better than this. And she wasn’t. And the repercussions of that are going to echo down for their whole lives.

That really sucks. And I’m really sorry she doesn’t get that and is, I think, incapable of getting that.

Smile

You guys, my nephew smiled at me. A real smile. Quite a few times. I got a little choked up over it.

I want to go hang out with him today and let him smile at me a million more times, but we both have shit to do.

And, also, while I held him, he babbled in my ear, just being a noisy little pumpkin.

How is this life? How is he a thing in the world?

I tried to get a picture of him smiling, but he was not cooperating. You can kind of see the start of one here.

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Purple Afghan

I love how it turned out.

I also love that it looks almost as nice on the back as it does on the front. Trust me, too, when I tell you that, in real life, it has a really lovely “old sweater” comfy vibe.

Yesterday, the animals met the baby. It then took the orange cat some time, but this morning, as I was getting dressed, he came into my room, meowed loudly so I would look at him, and then he peed right by my closet. On purpose.

So, I fucking guess he figured out what happened to the Butcher and why.

But before that, he seemed mildly curious about the baby, so it wasn’t a total disaster.

But this dog. Oh, this dog. First of all, when you come to my house, normally, you have to be greeted by one million loud barks and jumps and maybe you even need a dog on your lap.

But the second he saw the baby, he went quiet. He still greeted everyone and leaned on everyone who sat on the couch, but he didn’t bark. He sniffed the baby so gently and then licked his hand. And then, later, on, licked his head. And he didn’t bug my sister-in-law while she held the baby.

And when I held the baby so the baby could reach over and pet him, the baby drooled on him and that was fine. I’m not 100% sure if he, at two months old, can really grab things on purpose yet but he sure likes finding new things in his hands from time to time.

I think Sonnyboy really got that this was a puppy. Or as close as we weird things can come to making a puppy. And, in typical Sonnyboy fashion, he was open to it. Okay, there’s a baby now. Let’s fix its hair and not make a lot of noise and give it some room.

I said this on Twitter, but I mean it all the time. I think Sonnyboy is a great dog and I am so glad to know him. But from the start, he should have been a family dog. I know he doesn’t feel cheated. I know he’s delighted to have a home and a couch to sleep on and a wide group of people who love him. And also, for some reason, lots of chicken biscuits to eat on our walks (seriously, people. If you’re not going to eat all your chicken, don’t buy it.). He’s happy to be out of whatever stupid situation caused him to need to be rescued. But he would have been a great family dog.

And who ever left him tied to a tree in rural Smith County cheated him out of that. And I don’t think I’ll ever forgive that. This is a dog who should have been raised up from puppydom with a child. And he might not know he’s been cheated, but I see it.

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Money Changes Everything

My parents came back through on their way home last night. We had to stop at Walmart and send money to my nephew for something. Then they fought about how much money to give to the Butcher for his birthday.

They ended up giving him a generous amount, but I’m sure it was less than they gave my nephew.

Which… I don’t know. I have grave doubts that money they sent my nephew is going to the thing he told them it was for. I think, instead, it’s going to his mom, who has, yet again, burned all bridges in her life.

And on the one hand, it’s their money. They should do what they want with it.

On the other hand, it’s utterly noticeable how much more money they give to our brother and his family than they give to the rest of us, how uneven it is.

I’m trying to just learn to roll with my resentment, to tell myself that it’s okay to feel angry and conflicted about it and to not have a plan for resolving those feelings.

But it’s hard because I feel like they’re also trying to spend my money. I should get a new car so our brother can have my car so the nephew they’re always throwing money at can have my brother’s car. I should get this furniture or that furniture. I should… blah blah blah.

This is a fear that’s always been sitting in the back of my mind–that I’m supposed to also do for the family what they do for the family. That they can’t see me as a person with my own life and wants and desires. I’m just supposed to be another sucker like them–working hard and throwing that money at whoever seems to need it the most.

Plus, they’re miserable. They just fight with each other and bitch about their friends.

And I have been working so hard to stop being miserable that I am afraid of getting sucked back into that.

Anyway, here’s my nephew. He’s also unhappy. But I think that’s just because he’s in a growth spurt.

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Baby Growth Spurts are Nothing to Joke About

Y’all, I just saw this child on Friday and last night, he seemed a third again as big as he was on Friday.

Also, on Friday, he was still like “Eyes? Yuck, why do I have to see things? I will just shut these and hope for the best.”

And last night he was all “I will kind of look at you! Oops, my eyes slid over to this other thing to look at! Whoa, here’s another thing to look at.”

His mom said that he smiles at the tassel on the curtain by the changing table. She doesn’t know if that’s because the tassel is his friend or if he’s just pleased he recognizes something.

It’s weird when you think of how sight must happen. That at some point, you have to make the connection that you’re seeing actual things out there in the world that you can predictably see again, that the things you’re seeing are something and so looking at them is worthwhile.

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I’m also… ugh… this is stupid and uncomfortable, but I’m trying to get more used to how I look, to just be neutral to slightly pleased with it. So, that sucks and is weird, but I just can’t run around being all “I hate this meat sack.” I don’t need to love it, but I have to make some peace with it.

Anyway, look at those adorable tiny jeans!

Cragfont

I went to see my nephew yesterday and he is just so adorable. I can’t even tell you. He has one very light, but very bushy eyebrow. He may also have another, but where I was sitting and the lightness of the eyebrow made it hard to see the other. He makes cute little snores.

The Butcher’s Wife and I contemplated whether the Butcher can read minds or is just super empathetic and where the line is between those two things.

Then I went with some friends who have a podcast to Cragfont, a creepy old house up in Sumner County and it was delightfully and sufficiently spooky. I’ll link to the podcast when it goes live, because I was on it! Talking about festering crotch wounds and old Tennessee history and creepy things. All my favorites.

So, Cragfont was built by the Winchesters. General Winchester was a buddy of Andrew Jackson and he and Jackson and Judge Overton went and founded Memphis. Winchester’s son was Memphis’s first mayor. Jackson’s protege was Sam Houston. Sam Houston’s ex-wife, Eliza Allen (Houston Douglass) stayed with the Winchesters often enough that her silver tea cup is still in the house.

Winchester also owned a bunch of flatboats he hauled stuff back and forth to New Orleans on. One of his primary exports to New Orleans was bacon. And, I would imagine, other cured pig products.

This was also some of the early work of the Franklin family. And remember, the Franklins and the Douglasses were all intermarried. Also, Isaac Franklin’s mother was a Lauderdale and the Lauderdales were just east of the Winchesters.

I felt like I was hearing a story the Franklins figured into, but without hearing the Franklins properly figured in.

Anyway, we did have one strange experience in the house. I won’t spoil the podcast by telling you what it was, but I will note that one of the pictures in this bunch shows the location of the strangeness. Since it’s October, you should see if you get a spooky vibe off of any of them and give it a guess.

For

Yesterday, I spent all afternoon holding my nephew while he slept. Well, he didn’t only sleep. He opened his eyes and looked around a little bit and he did an enormous pooping. And my mom absconded with him for a while.

But mostly he and I sat on the couch and he dozed on and off and I felt at peace.

The thing about a baby is that I want him to feel comfortable and safe and cozy. And the thing I realized is that I’m set up to make a baby feel comfortable and safe and cozy. Softness might not be coded “sexy” in our society, but children like it.

A thing that kept passing through my mind on the way home is what’s a body for? Like, in terms of our society. And the message we women get from the time we’re very little is that our bodies are for pleasing men. And this is achieved by being young and thin and every troll on the internet will insist this is because of evolutionary biology–men are looking for healthy women to reproduce with.

But if reproduction is the ultimate goal, then the female bodies most pleasing to babies, the ones that allow them to thrive, would be most highly prized.

(And let me be clear: I don’t think a body is “for” anything, except the things the person who is that body wants to use it for.)

It got me thinking that part of the role of objectifying women is to socialize men into prizing women who give the appearance of being for nothing but whatever a man decides. And part of the clusterfuck of it is that it’s not even what an individual, particular man decides, but the things that will give him the most status–so what the generic group decides.

It’s fucked up for everyone.

But anyway, it was wild to sit there and realize that my body was doing something it could do really well, something it seemed almost custom designed for. Like, for once, I felt comradery with tall people or strong people. She shall reach the things on the high shelf! He shall open all jars. I shall keep the nephews warm and cozy while they sleep.

And Rose Came to Visit!

We spent the afternoon hanging out in the hospital with the baby. I let Rose take some pictures, and it’s fun to see what a three-year-old thinks you need pictures of.

She also took one of the Butcher’s wife’s ankle which tickled me.

And here’s one I took of the baby, sucking his thumb.

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When you’re a baby these days, they make you wear mittens on your hands so you don’t scratch yourself. It also makes it harder to suck your thumb.

On his second day, he decided he didn’t like being wrapped like a burrito and he sometimes prefers to be put up on your shoulder. He was opening his eyes a little bit, but he always looked like he wasn’t sure said eye-opening was a good thing.

He both seems so impossibly tiny and like there’s something really screwy about nature’s idea that something that size should come out of your vagina.

He’s Here!

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He’s under the heat lamp here, which is why he appears to be so red and I appear to be covered in a fine layer of dirt. But in real life, he’s not part tomato. I just noticed that my toes made it in the picture, too.

He has the Butcher’s ears and he looks like my dad when he scowls. He kind of generally looks like his mom in a way that, when you see them together, they obviously fit, but is hard to articulate. So far, as far as I observed, his likes are being held–especially by his mom and dad, being wrapped up like a burrito, and putting his tongue out. His dislikes are poopy diapers and the whole process of being born.

I sang to him. That was his first song. I saw him make his first sneeze. I saw his first poop. There will just be so many firsts these coming days.

The Butcher let everyone hold him, but once the baby came back to him, he cuddled up with him and that was that. He held him for the rest of the time I was there.

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Tomorrow is D-Day!

Tomorrow, my nephew, Delano, who will have to have a nickname once he’s out in the world, will be born. I’m planning on going up and sitting in the waiting room and seeing him on his first day.

I’m so excited.

And worried, of course, but much more excited than worried.

 

Pot Stickers Unstuck

I cooked potstickers last night, successfully. I didn’t make them. I’m not that ambitious. But I cooked them and they didn’t stick to the pot.

Usually, when I make them, they do. But I finally realized that I had been taught in the wrong order. You don’t cook them in water you let boil off and then brown up the bottoms–that will indeed let them stick to the pot. You set them in the pot lightly coated with hot oil, let them brown up, and then put in a little water, which, by the same action that deglazes a pan, pops those potstickers right off the bottom of the pan.

Dad called last night for their weekly call. In it, he let slip that he was helping the Butcher financially–which is fine with me–because they always buy groceries for our other brother.

And, like, I couldn’t even be mad. I just finally realized he doesn’t care about me as much as he cares about our other brother. I don’t mean that he doesn’t care about me at all or that he dislikes me, just that there’s a level of caring and nurturing and doting on that he does for our brother that he doesn’t do for me.

And it’s fucked up and it sucks, but I need to stop believing that he cares about the three of us equally. He doesn’t and it doesn’t have anything to do with me.

Oh well.

Like, I think I have long thought that he was capable of caring about us all equally if only I knew the right combination of words and deeds to express my needs to him. But no. There’s not something more I need to do to “earn” my father caring for me in the way he cares for our brother. If he can’t do it, whatever. He can’t do it.

His loss.

Butt Down

My nephew hasn’t flipped yet. If he doesn’t flip, they’ll go in and get him. I watched a video of an ancient midwife flipping a baby just by rubbing a woman’s belly with her oily hands. I don’t feel confident enough to try that. Also, it would be weird.

The Butcher sent me a text yesterday that said, basically, that, if anything happens to him and his wife, he wants me to raise his son.

Of course I would.

But man, it made me cry to think of it.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Fisk to go through Looby’s papers, to see if he had any written-down thoughts on who bombed him.

I’m very nervous, because their library has really scary stairs. But I also acknowledge, it’s weird to have strong opinions on all the stairs you encounter.

Obsessive Thoughts

One thing I’ve noticed is that the more fucked up I feel about other things, the more I feel like I’m fat and disgusting. I saw a really cute picture of myself from Saturday night and it was like dueling voices in my head “oh, I look cute and happy there”/”I am fat and disgusting.”

On the one hand, I’m glad I can recognize now that that’s an obsessive thought, but on the other hand, it’s really grueling.

My parents called yesterday to tell me more how to run my life. I think it makes me angry for two reasons. One is that I can run my own life just fine, thank you. I can ask for help when I need it and take care of other things myself. I don’t need people calling me up to ask if I’ve done this or that thing they think is necessary or to tell me that I need to be sure to ask this or that. I mean, we literally had a fight over whether my kitchen door would open completely once the floor was fixed.

My dad was saying that it would and I was saying that was the whole point of getting the floor fixed, but he was so hell-bent on arguing with me that he just carried on with the argument even though we were both on the same side.

Also, I’m pissed because they decided I’m going to go up there for at least two weeks in January to help my mom while my dad has knee surgery and rehab. This is something I would have gladly agreed to do, which I guess is why they felt free to just skip the part where they asked me and made this plan with me and went straight into telling me that this is what I would do. So now I’m pissed and resentful, but what can I do? Someone needs to go up there and sit with them and neither of my brothers can really do it.

Yesterday I broached them coming down here to do the surgery and in-patient rehab. Then there’d be three adults who could pitch in. I wouldn’t have to take an indeterminate amount of time off work. And it wouldn’t completely fuck the schedule of my secret big thing.

Which I guess is also why I’m super pissed. I’m doing important and interesting stuff. (Though, fuck, I cringe to write that.) Why is my life the life in the family considered expendable? Why is it that I’m the one who has to go take care of them? I have accomplished all these things. Why do they work so hard to make me feel like I’m a failure because my house isn’t to their liking?

I think they want me to feel terrible about myself so that they can control me. I don’t think they know that. Not in a way they can articulate.

I don’t know what to do about it or whether anything can be done about it. The point, I’m learning in therapy, is for me to figure out how I’m feeling more quickly and then react in the moment in ways that make me feel better.

That’s the goal–to respond to them in ways that I can live with. Not to make them change.

Not there yet.

Changing Paths

I have switched outer squares. I admitted to myself that I didn’t like the flower square I was making because the flower was too small and my idea of just filling it out with other, different flower squares was supposed to mask my unhappiness with the square.

There’s probably a lesson there. But I’m going to try real hard not to learn it.

I did, however, find a square I like that I think will make a fine outer loop. Also, it’s pretty “border”y, so that will let me have a simple border for the whole thing:

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Reasons I like it (even if the edges aren’t looking exactly straight here). It’s got kind of pokey features similar to the interior motif. It’s got open areas like the interior motif. It’s got a roundness to it that reminds me of the other square and, like the other square, it’s built on eight repeats in each round. And it’s got dimension without being too heavy. And the flower is nice and huge. Plus! Popcorn stitches.

I also think I have solved the dog’s flea problem. I can’t find any evidence that anyone else is having problems with the Serestro collar, so I don’t think it’s that fleas have developed an immunity to it. But what are the chances I’d get two collars in a row that would fink out?

So, this morning, I scrutinized Sonnyboy. He had no fleas near the collar or on his head or neck. None on his upper shoulders. And then, beyond his harness, on his back and back end, a ton of fleas. So, if the collar is working on the front end, why isn’t it working on the whole dog?

After our walk this morning, I took off his harness.

I don’t know why that should matter, but my fingers are crossed.

Also, my dad went to the doctor and he is cleared to drive again. His doctor thinks it was just some cartilage breaking loose, so he’s got a cane and hopefully can limp along until his scheduled surgery.

Attack

I think I had a panic attack last night. Anyway, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t think clearly. I didn’t take anything for it because I kind of didn’t realize that’s what was going on until I was lying in bed almost asleep and then, since it felt like I was finally falling asleep, I didn’t want to ruin it by getting up.

My dad is being completely ridiculous. He heard something pop in his knee before the immense pain started. They have him in a brace that basically immobilizes his knee and he’s on crutches. He walked at a snail’s pace. And yet, can we sit around and watch TV or will he let someone else pump his gas? No.

And, y’all, my mom should not be driving. Which she seems to know, but she’s still going to have to drive him back and forth to the doctor.

I genuinely don’t understand who they’re doing this for. Like, who is the judge or the audience that is supposed to be impressed by my dad enduring a huge amount of pain when he should be taking it easy? Who is watching and praising my mom for still driving even when she’s scared of it, “because it must be done?”

And this unseen judge, this scrutinizer and scorer, it’s in my head. I don’t know if it’s what causes my anxiety or if it’s a symptom of my anxiety, but I know how brutal it is and I can’t stand that my parents live with it, serve it, instead of doing what it would take to be happy and comfortable and safe.

I hate that they don’t think they can prioritize those things, because that would make them “bad.”

And at the same time, I resent that they taught me the same thing.

Dad

So, my brother called me from Georgia yesterday to report that Dad was at the ER. I half-wish I were the kind of person who could feel like this was poetic justice. He fucked up his knee.

Well, his knees are already good and rightly fucked. He’s having knee replacement surgery after the holidays. But rather than take it easy until then, he has to drive all over tarnation and clean people’s bathrooms against their will and move couches to complain about the things behind them.

And so, when he got down to my brother’s, he ended up at the ER.

This has lead to a family kerfluffle because my brother is pissed that my parents went to the ER before he went to work, but didn’t bother to call and tell him until after he was at work and couldn’t leave to be with them. The Butcher is pissed because they briefly seemed like they had this idea that they could just stay in Georgia until Dad was off his pain killers and then he could drive them home.

But now it appears that they’re going to stay in Georgia until this weekend, at which point my brother will drive them in their van this far and then rent a car home. Then the Butcher will drive them in their van home and rent a car and come home.

I have, thankfully, been left out of the negotiations. And you know what? It’s weird and nice. For the first time in my life, my brothers are taking care of the crisis. Completely. All I have to be is moral support.

When I realized that I was being kept out of the loop of planning or participating in this madness, my first thought was “Great, they can deal with this.” Not, “Oh my god, they’re going to kill Mom & Dad.” Not “But I must swoop in and help.” Just “Yep, those grown ass men can handle this.”

It’s what my dad’s always wanted, I think–for his boys to care about him and take care of him. And now they are, so that’s nice.

Can I admit, though, I feel a little like I’m cheating? Like, I know that I should be stressed up the butt about this. I know I would normally feel anxious and I’d be calling every hour to see what’s going on. I know, thanks to so many family crises, exactly how I react in these situations.

And I’m skipping out on all the emotional burden thanks to the medicine.

Sorry, brothers.

I’m concerned, of course. But they can handle it.

Some Fools Fool Themselves, I Guess

I’m feeling better this morning. It’s just hard. I love them and I wish I could figure out how to spend time with them in ways that don’t make me feel like I want to hide until the visit is over.

My dad has a friend and he’s constantly talking about how this friend treated his kids so bad and now they’re messes and how you can’t ride someone all the time and expect them to be okay.

And I keep listening to him say these things and I keep waiting for the connection to be made and… nope.

We got the dog to play a few rounds of fetch. I couldn’t tell if he liked it. He seemed to be having an okay time, but after a short while, he took the ball and went in the house.

I feel you, dog.

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Too Much Togetherness

My parents cleaned my bathroom today. Like, scrubbed on hands and knees cleaned. They also vaccuumed. They love to do this shit because, if I complain about it, then I’m a lunatic. Because they’re helping.

Really, they’re going through all my shit and passing judgement on it and me. My house is disgusting. I need to do this and that. Yes, they rearranged my house to suit them, cleaned the bathroom to their standards, and then tried to leave me a list of things to do, as if my job is to take care of their house.

This, though, is my house.

It doesn’t feel like it right now.

And I hate it. I hate that they do this and I hate that I don’t know how to stop them from doing it

I hate that their biggest complaint is that I’m bossy, but they do this shit. I hate that they make me feel so bad about myself without even trying.

I hate and feel guilty about how miserable they make me.

Trivia

I went with S. to see Roxane Gay last night. (I have thoughts but they sit so close to my bones… or possibly my fat… that I’m not ready to put them down in public.) So, my parents took the Butcher and his family out for dinner and somehow they ended up playing trivia. And my parents don’t go to bars, so this was their first experience with it.

They called me up on their way home and, you guys, they were so delighted. They were laughing and bragging about how they came in second and… I don’t know. I just had this thought that there are things in the world that my parents would enjoy and they don’t know it. They don’t even know how to find those things.

And it’s not like my parents are not adventurous. They are. But somehow, sometimes, I feel like there’s this other life they could have had where they would have been a little happier and it’s tantalizingly close.

And sometimes they stumble into parts of it.

And that makes me happy for them.

You Should…

Yesterday I read an article about how women should have fewer children to help the environment. It was written by a feminist. Which means all her previous stuff about women’s rights to bodily autonomy was bullshit.

So, that’s frustrating.

It’s also a numbers problem. The difference between a million and a trillion is staggering. The difference between a thousand of something and a trillion of something is staggering. But at some point, we just perceive those as very large numbers.

Women having “too many” (and is that ever ugly) kids is everyone who is in the ocean right now peeing in the ocean of our environmental problems. Like, it sure seems like it’s problematic, but everything in the ocean pees in the ocean and that’s not what’s ruining the ocean. You peeing in the ocean or not has no effect on the huge atolls of garbage and plastic. The ocean deals fine with pee.

I get that we want there to be individual solutions because we’ve lost faith in collective efforts to change.

But conceding a woman’s right to determine what happens to her body in this one case, even as you argue that it’s wrong in all other cases is just gross and wrong. And forcing women to have fewer children isn’t going to save the environment.

I don’t know. It just really bugs me how quickly bullshit is okay when it’s your side proposing it.

My parents are not packing up the Butcher’s stuff today. Apparently he talked to them about it and made it clear he’d be super pissed off. That did not stop my dad from sitting at dinner divvying up my stuff. He kept insisting that the Butcher come and get half of my dishes because they “need” them. The Butcher’s family has their own dishes.

Maybe this is a weird thought for an opinion columnist to have, but I do wonder if one of the unacknowledged privileges of whiteness is the belief that you should get to boss people around, that it’s fine for you to sit around and think about what people need without consulting with them and then make grand pronouncements you expect to be followed.

I don’t know, really. I also think I get so on edge because I don’t want to be blindsided by nonsense that I then turn everything into too big a deal.

But I’m also glad that the Butcher and I have said out loud to each other on many occassions that this isn’t how we want to be treated or how we want to treat each other.

Hard

A thing I have realized in therapy, which I guess I knew at an intellectual level already, but hadn’t admitted to myself deep down, is that I love my family very dearly–they are the most important people to me–and I don’t trust them.

And that makes spending time with them a source of great anxiety for me because I’m getting and giving all these cues that say “We all love each other and take care of each other and watch out for each other” but only the first part is always true.

Anyway, my parents are coming on Wednesday for the baby shower on Saturday. I’m a bit concerned about what they think they’re going to get up to on Thursday while I’m at work. They haven’t said anything to me but my brother said that they’re planning on making the Butcher’s room a habitable guest room. Which, you know, I get it.

But you don’t go through someone’s stuff without their permission or without even discussing it with him if you want to have a functional relationship with him. And you don’t fail to discuss it with the owner of the room the stuff is in so that she doesn’t have an opportunity to tell you that’s a dumb thing to do and that you shouldn’t.

Paella

The guys came over last night and I made paella for them. They were a little dubious at first. And then they went back for seconds. Huge piles of seconds.

It made me feel like I had powerful magic.

It also made me a little sad because I was planning on leftovers for dinner tonight.

New kitty has taken to pooping in the bathroom (on the floor, not any place useful) when there are fireworks. The litter boxes are clean but she doesn’t seem to care. She must register her displeasure, though there’s nothing I can do about it.

Physician, Heal Thyself

I had a long discussion with my cousin last night and I’m not sure how it went. It’s hard to talk to someone whose baggage is so similar to my own and to tell her the things I also need to figure out how to believe.

I don’t know, often, what would make me happy. But this morning I walked the dog and the breeze was cool and I felt lucky to be there, in that moment.

Yesterday the fire alarm went off at work and I got down the stairs and outside without having a complete meltdown. I still went down them like an awkward child, but it never blew up into a full-on panic attack.

This is better than where I was six months ago.

And I feel like that’s what I have to offer her–this is the way I’m trying to take out. I think it’s working. And yes, it’s been hard and it’s sucked. But it’s been worth it, I think.

I don’t know if it’s the right thing for other people. I don’t want to be in charge of telling people what the right thing for them is. And I know I’ve been very lucky. I found a drug that worked on the first try. I found a therapist who worked on the first try. (And I know I may not continue to be lucky.) And other people will have harder times finding drugs that work for them or therapists who tell them what they need to hear.

I was, metaphorically, drowning. I got lucky and found a ladder that would hold me. I am, however, not very far up the ladder. I can’t say for sure where it leads. I can’t see if there are other ladders that might work for her. I can only say, “I see that you, too, are drowning. Here is the ladder I’m on.”

I don’t know. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard giving advice when you’re in the process of learning how to hear those same words said about yourself and you know how hard it is to hear and believe them.