Monday, November 26, 2012

A Quiet Anger

It would appear that I have some anger issues. You might think, "yeah, look how she talks about her mother." Well, we'll get you some mentally unstable relative living with you and see how you react.

Actually, I woke up quite chipper and relieved this morning - after reading this passage last night. Now I've got a name for things and a handle to begin working with them. Much relief. The trouble is not knowing.

From Surviving a Borderline Parent:
Anger can be expressed in many, seemingly surprising, ways. As you read the following list, see if you recognize any of these expressions of chronic anger in yourself:

  •  bitterness 
  •  comparing yourself to others and feeling that they have it easier than you do
  •  critical thoughts, about others as well as yourself 
  •  feeling inwardly annoyed and frustrated when someone doesn't understand you
  •  thinking of your rebuttal when someone is trying to talk with you, acting defensively 
  •  guilt
  •  impatience 
  •  muscle tension
  •  difficulty letting go of past resentments 
  •  difficulty listening and taking someone else's viewpoint into account 
  •  persistently feeling life isn't fair 
  •  sarcasm 
  •  dread 
  •  irritation 
  •  shutting down when upset with someone 
  •  speaking insensitively to others, perhaps feeling guilty about it afterward (or not) 
  •  an attitude of "whatever," or "so what-I don't really care."

Kimberlee Roth;Friedman, Freda B., Ph.D.. Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds & Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem (Kindle Locations 1103-1109). Kindle Edition.

Looking at the list, I half wonder if anger isn't a prime characteristic of Gen X. The Boomers let all their anger hang out. Gen X has had to deal with all the trash and wasteland the Boomers left in their wake.

Not unlike a borderline parent, who gets to rage without consequences, takes the best for themselves and is never required to provide for those who come after, and who is always right.

Well, anyway, I'm feeling a metric ton or two lighter simply because I know I'm angry now, and I can start finding out about what and doing something about it. There is a way OUT now, and I am absolutely getting out of here! Enough, already!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Binding up

 Now that Mother is in full time care in an Alzheimer's/dementia unit, I'm finding I have quite a bit of emotional, physical and intellectual snap back to deal with. Let me explain it this way, I am having to consciously reorient myself back in the world and in my own home, and that process has loosed quite a bit of emotional "stuff" that I thought I had put away, and some of it is just stuff that I had forgotten existed and now it's bubbling back into the flow. Physically, I thought I was having a heart attack, but it's just back muscle spasms, but they've been some big ones. Intellectually, I'm having to come to myself again, something I put away a long time ago in order to take care of her.

I used to scoff at people who stayed home all day to take care of an elderly relative. Shouldn't that be the most obvious of devotions, and how hard could it be to chase an old lady around anyway? Well, if she's your childhood abuser, it's hell pouring acid on your soul day and night. If you're a Christian, I heartily recommend getting the counseling to help you thru it, and I think you should do it if you can at all, or at least as much as you can muster, but it won't be a walk in the park and any advice that tells you "it will all be alright" is lying. It will be difficult at every turn, but there is no exemption from doing the love of Christ, and if you do it in devotion to Him, you will survive it.

To what purpose you survive it, I'm just not sure yet. When Mother came down here 14 years ago, she as much announced to me that she had come for me to take care of her until her death. She relished the thought of getting close, but it drove me in terror, and I do mean terror, to Biblical counseling.  She was coming down from the North like a Valkyrie bent on conquest and my desire was to cut all ties and run to Florida where no one could find me. I would have lived in box under a bridge if it had meant peace of mind, but if you have bent your knee to Jesus as Lord and Master, then it isn't all about what you want. He gets a say.

Well, amongst the endless revelations required for counseling ("she did what... and you just took it... and go home and write out some examples of...", all crap counselors love and I LOATHE. I'm trying to forgive and FORGET, you idiots!), I did get enough nuggets of wisdom to get me thru each step with faith and faithfulness, to her and to Him alike.

I have no true regrets, I did what I could, I did far more than anyone else in my family did or would ever think to do in the next million years, and although I feel like I lost the last 14 years to locusts and how in the next million years can that time ever be redeemed, I am more firmly entrenched on my knees before my Lord than ever. So, I guess bloodied, old and still standing is still better than hiding under a bridge from God and Mother alike.

So now I am discovering all sorts of things on the other side of sacrificial devotion. One really bad one is that having come out of the dailiness of care taking, I'm nearly fearful of the reduced requirements of caring now. In other words, her daily needs are taken care of - and I don't want to go over there and get guilt tripped and watch her disintegrate any more. The trajectory up until moving her into care was always deeper and more daily. Now that I've got the daily farmed out, better medical care, and there isn't a thing I can do to make her any happier anymore, I just don't want to do it at all anymore. I understand that she's upset about it, but my soul doesn't want to deal with it.

It isn't that it's compassion burn out, it's that I've been borrowing from something else inside me to produce the compassion required for years, and going over there to be compassionate but firm yet again... ? Perhaps it's like the bank accounts. She's into me for thousands of dollars, and I have receipts that need to be reimbursed piled up on my desk and my desktop, but I haven't had the time and emotional strength to order all the accounts and write the checks. It's the same with my soul, I've just been giving out from whatever I could find at hand every day, every day, every day, for months and years on end. Now the accounts must be put back in order, separation between what is hers and what is mine must be made, and I must plan and purpose for my own future - and mine alone - while she must experience her new life for herself.

That sounds so horrible. But it's true. It's time for me to bind up my wounds, I can't fix her troubles any more.

To that end I've begun to read after my own interests again. The ADHD diagnosis last year was very helpful, so I thought it would be interesting to read about introversion, being an introvert, n'all.  Found  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking via an online recommendation of a friend. Very educational, revelatory even, and good gouge for an extrovert with an introvert in their life that they just don't "get," simply because it will tell you why you're an extrovert and what that means. If you think introverts are rare, as it turns out they are 30-50% of the population, and that guy at work you think is an extrovert.... well, maybe not. Perhaps he's just coping with you!

From there I went to Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds and Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem  .  I haven't dealt with the psychological implications of Narcissistic Personality Disorder since I realised that Mother probably was NPD. The descriptions were just too accurate and horrific and I could not deal with her with that in front of me. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, it's a fantastic coping mechanism and I recommend its usage heartily and liberally. Your shrink won't, but good God Almighty, we've got sh*t to get thru, people, let's keep those feet moving one step at a time.

I'm up to Location 675 in the Kindle edition, a series of exercises about grieving the loss of your childhood, what it should have been and what it was. I was much struck with this one:

Exercise #3 -  You're asked to write a eulogy for your ideal parent's funeral. Write about the feelings associated with the loss of your expectations, hopes, and wishes.*

This is all about a theoretical person, perhaps or necessarily someone entirely different from either of my actual parents. One of the biggest nuggets of wisdom I got from counseling was that God knew who my parents were and who I was before He ever put me into that family. My situation was never a mistake. It wasn't easy and it wasn't all goodness and light, but it wasn't a divine error either. Now I have the opportunity to talk to someone who would have, theoretically of course, raised me with all the wisdom and kindness that was absent in real life.

What would I say? What were my hopes and wishes, even expectations, that never could come true? Who would I have been? What would have been my path?

I don't know, but I'm going to think on it for a spell. Watch this space for that eulogy.

*Kimberlee Roth;Friedman, Freda B., Ph.D.. Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds & Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem (Kindle Locations 677-678). Kindle Edition.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Stranded at the outskirts

Always. Never can seem to find the way home. The bad dream that never ends.

What do you say
When it's all gone away,
"Baby, I didn't mean to hurt you?"
Truth spoke in whispers will tear you apart
No matter how hard you resist it.

It never rains when you want it to.

Humble Me by Kevin Breit, sung by Norah Jones

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"exactly who I am"

From Pacing the Panic Room, a great little blog that I just found this morning and is apparently going away:

"Some people that have seen the photos I posted above mentioned they rarely see me smile this way, some of those people have been my friends for years, Cole sees me smile this way 100 times a day.

I love this woman so much and never knew that true happiness had little to do with smiles and laughter, but had everything to do with comfort, how calm my heart and head can be while wholly existing with her. It's incredibly lucky to be loved this way, and I get to be exactly who I am around her, shamelessly and unapologetically me, without a shred of fear or self consciousness I know that she loves me for it, and that's when the real toothy McHuge smile comes out."

He's on to something.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Well, I thought it was

I got rid of this because it's going nowhere, but now I've brought it back because I've got things I need to write out and nowhere to write them. What a sad little conundrum. So I reactivated it, I'll put back up the precious few posts from before that were almost worth someone else's reading and go on from there.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And that is that.

I don't know whether to keep the blog name or turn it loose also. I guess I'll give it a day or so to think about it.

It is a shame. It's such a pretty little glade to think about in now. Too bad.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Pinterest Files

I was trying to explain what Pinterest was to a friend, but she wasn't getting what I found so useful about it. This is what I sent her today:

I'll show you how Pinterest will clarify things for you. This woman is a prolific pinner, but she has a brilliant eye. If you spend much time looking at her pins in a given area, you'll start to edit your desire, which is exactly what someone who knows lots of stuff but can't execute needs: Editing.

It's the counterfeit principle. You'll never learn to throw out a bad $20 bill by learning all about inks and paper. The only way you teach your fingers to throw out the bad bill is to handle mountains of good bills, then your fingers acquire their own muscle memory and reject the bad.

The same with all the other stuff you don't need and ultimately don't want. Fill your vision, in this case literally, up with beautiful things you do want, and if you keep at it you will react viscerally to your own environment when it does not reflect that. You'll edit your own stuff down and toss whatever it takes to make the vision of the beautiful or the joyful happen.

A vital tool for directing the head is the eye. Seeing is different than thinking. The Bible says so. Use it.

My Pinterest is over there ---------->

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I've been watching the videos about the neurobiology and effects of ADHD here from a conference held by the Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada. The ones by Dr. Russell A. Barkley are particularly disconcerting, but very educational. I recommend them mostly for those who have ADHD or have a family member with it. I don't think the idle curious will be able to sustain the interest long enough to make it thru for merely educational purposes, unless of course that is your bent.

For me, it was the most serious explication of the disorder that I've yet encountered, as most of my exposure has been the popular literature and necessarily time limited visits to doctors (Ed.D. and MD).  Full of brain diagrams, studies and control groups, and some very good information on how my medication works. (I'm so glad that I've got a medication that works as well and cleanly as it does. It's relatively new, so if I had been diagnosed years ago I could have acquired a slew of other issues. Grace where you find it.)

I don't know why, but somehow I did not think ADHD was as structurally deep in the brain as it is, or as broad spectrum. I guess I just thought it was some missing chemicals in my neural pathways that the medication patched over, and then I would be just as neurobiologically sound as the next normally developed guy. My plan was to take the meds and work really hard at catching up my life to "standard" and then go on to do whatever really "hard work" could take me to. It appears that is not to be the case.

The medication is a tremendous blessing, not to short change it one bit, but it doesn't fix everything. My brain is never going to be as if I never had it. The difference is forever, I'll never be normal or standard in function or living. I'm damaged goods for life.

I'm damaged goods for life.

Something about that fact, that stone cold inescapable fact, has taken my legs out from under me, for at least the space of the morning. I have rules. First rule is "I'm fine." I'm always fine. Family is moving again and I'm losing all my friends? I'm fine. Parents in perpetual warfare, brother in another crisis, sister dead in life and then dead at her own will? I'm fine. Bruised, used and forgotten? Move along, nothing to see here. I'm fine. The world going to hell in a handbasket? I'm fine.  See, I keep going, I keep working, it doesn't matter about all that out there, I'M FINE.

Well, I'm not. I'll never have the same resources and strength inside my own brain that most people do. I'll always be bent and missing some resources in my head. I promise you I've never wanted or tried to be late, absent minded, forgetful, blunt, squirrelly, messy, and always, always fall short. Once I found the diagnosis, I thought I was going to get fixed. And maybe not always fall short, maybe move forward and make progress and make goals and move on and move up and get over and get to the next thing. But there is no fix.

I will always be broken.

I feel like I've been told I will always be missing the left side of  my self. As if there are organs missing, parts that everyone has and of course I must because everyone has them, but now I know I don't have them at all so it will always be this catch-up substitute try to make it work so I can be welcome in polite company kind of life. Did you know that my whole life I've deliberately stayed away from people because I don't want to subject them to all the confusion my brain makes me live in on a daily basis? It's irritating and taxing for other people to be around, I know that, so I just stay away so they don't have to be bothered.

Years ago, when I had to find an internet nom de plume, I chose Sweetbriar. Not so much for the rose reference (which I was much more into then), but for the thorns. To be around me was to endure a high ratio of thorns to blossoms, and the blooms came so infrequently that really you couldn't count on me in a pinch. I'm best left in the back of the woods, a spring novelty and a home for wild rabbits. But that wasn't the life I wanted, it was never the life I thought I was going to have. I was supposed to be normal.

In school, all the tests said I was gifted. In society, I came from a good family, well educated with a good name. At work, I was the one that was going to go higher. But I never could pull it together. I could never follow thru to completion. And now I guess I know why. My legs were always cut out from underneath me, I just never knew it. I've been clawing my way over and over again towards an entire set of expectations and dreams that I have no ability to live. If all my desires came true tomorrow, I couldn't sustain it for even one day.

"Tomorrow" and "someday" have been my shelter in the storms. Even if it isn't here today, satisfaction is out there as soon as I "get my act together."  That illusion is burned away now, there is no someday and I CAN'T get my act together. What I really am is finally exposed to me, even tho I guess it may have be very plain to some others.

Thursday morning, my last day of holiday at the beach, I started praying about a little art sign I saw in a shelter magazine that said, "I do not know what it is I am like." I think it is very true about all of us, but I wanted to know more of the truth about me. I don't want to go about with some fine notion about myself that isn't really true. Be careful what you ask for, God does answer prayer.

Perhaps that is why this song kept bubbling up Thursday.

"For with much wisdom
Comes much sorrow
So the more that I know
The more sorrow grows
Like a fish caught cruelly
Like a bird in a snare
We are caught and we are captive
Unexpectedly here"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reweaving the cloth

What happens when you blog about things that are just percolating in your head? My blog.

To wit, I'm thinking that sins and repentance have some permutations and consequences that we (I) don't often think about. To be very sure, I firmly believe that having believed on Christ to save you puts the responsibility to protect your eternity in His hands - you cannot keep (protect and maintain) yourself from falling away. If he does not keep you, none of us are stable or strong enough in ourselves to not fall into whatever it takes to be deceived or fall away again. That's why God alone is the judge of our hearts and the saviour of our souls. He knows and accounts justly our confession of belief and makes us into his own, it isn't our achievement.

That said, there is the dealing with our daily sin and/or continuing "old man." We do have our part to play in our place in time with how that is going. It is actually, tangibly better if we make active search for God's way and deliberately are willing to be humbled in order to be conformed to the truth. If we do not, then we may still be received into the presence of God at the end of our days but the consequences of our intransigence will certainly play out in our character and our lives.

Does that sound complicated? No, it's simple, but it's the conclusion of the matter, not the beginning of the thought. I was thinking about three people I know and/or know of. Two are dead, one is making progress in that direction.

One is a fellow I never met, but who had particular excellence in hospitality, humility, leadership and intelligence. You noticed those things in about that order. It is quite remarkable that you would notice the first two before the last, but that came directly out of his commitment to God. He had made his choice and his choice had changed him, and permitted the last two gifts to do many things that others with his rank, affiliations, and training yet envy. Now that he is gone, no one can fill his place, no one can do his job, no one will take up his efforts because he was a unique expression of so many of God's gifts and graces. We all wish he were still there, we will always wish he could step back into our lives, we would all rather have him living and moving in our world. I suspect that will always be true. If the way of God's world were different and he could come back 10 years from now (for argument's sake like that FedEx guy who got stranded on an island), we would want him back in our lives without change.

Another is my older sister, whom I loved and love yet to this day. She should be here, she should have had a full life. She would have been a terrific mother. We would have been such great friends and teammates now. Nothing will be set to rights until the dead in Christ rise and she and I have the years together that should have been all along. But she was a stubborn girl for many reasons, and when she needed help and love and truth, her family couldn't give it to her. And she died. 

The last is my mother, who is now old, and the dementia and deterioration are in full march and cannot be turned back or turned aside. She has no thoughts of regret, but that is not the product of old age, she has always been that way. The truth always comes out eventually and as I spend her final years helping her the best I can, so many lies and cover ups and excuses are being unraveled, but now it is too late. She cannot say "I'm sorry" now because she never said it when she still could.  She is a Christian, there is no doubt in my mind at all that she has acknowledged Jesus as Lord and relies on Him in this life and for life eternal.

But following hard on that foundation is the fact that she has never forgiven who knows how many people in her life, has ordered her goals in ten thousand ways to protect her cash flow and her self image, and has told so many "white lies" to achieve those goals that she hasn't known the difference between the truth and a lie since she was in her twenties, at least. When she goes, although I love her, I will not miss her. I have always missed who she could have been, who she should have been had she been willing to be someone other than that false image she's always tried to be.

If she had given up her own artful creation years ago, or even ten years ago, God could have made something solid and satisfying from all the remnants that were left. It wouldn't matter how few threads were left, He could have rewoven the cloth into a pattern of substance, something that would satisfy her and rectified so many injustices that still produce wounds decades later. But she would not.  And so she carries that attitude with her to the grave.

How will she deal with seeing those friends and family she so cavalierly wounded when there is no sham or pretense to hide behind any more? She loved them and they love her, there is forgiveness and acceptance, but how will she endure the meeting? It is a hard, hard thing to think about. I guess I'm worried for her. This is something that cannot be altered now, it is all those things she has been trying to avoid all her life, and it will come.

She'll make it thru alright, I know. Jesus will see to that. I just wish it didn't have to be this way. I wish it had never been this way.  I used to waste hours daydreaming what if I could go back in time to this point or that event and turn the tide, warn of the disaster coming, save a life, "save" all our lives. Finally I let myself dream it all out as a thought experiment over about ten days. The conclusion was that it would all end the same anyway because she was who she was, and that's the thing that needed to change. Not the events or the timeline, but the character of the individuals involved, and that can't be done thru warning or exhortation. Only a willing humiliation combined with the redeeming power of the Truth will change any of us.

The cloth of my own life hasn't much to recommend it either. What or who I am is not much of anything, I have no status or accomplishments to name, my family is disappearing and my friends are few and tenuous, to my shame alone. My only hope is that God can still reweave the threads of my future into something He can be proud of. I'd like to be someone He can boast Himself about, a tree who bore fruit in season, someone He took such good care of that the end of her days was so much more amazing than the beginning that all the people around her still talk of it.

That's the thing I challenge Him with in private, and now in public. Yes, at my own hand and by my own effort, I could do nothing, but my only claim to success is Him. What shall He do? What is the story he is writing? Shall he leave me as I am, or make something of me? I have not forgotten my responsibilities and I know He hasn't forgotten His, and therein lies my faith and expectation. I hope. I come, I cry, I watch, I wait, I look, I long.

Posted by Sweetbriar at 4:09 PM

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Face time

  "Graduates were spread throughout the fleet, carrying the gospel. USN kill ratios increased to 12:1."

 When I read that line, I realised how different the standard we carry as Christians for instructors, pastors, evangelists, teachers than do certain real world learning situations. I can't blame it on liberal post-modernism either, as the Church has been struggling with it in every age. We are too willing to accord wisdom and status to those who are willing to accept it, when if the gospel is to be advanced those who have had serious face time with God and accepted his pedagogy in practice are to be sought.

"Graduates were spread throughout the fleet, carrying the gospel. USN kill ratios increased to 12:1."

What is it about us that does not get that kind of results? Paul had a very hard time of it when he preached to the comfortable and educated, yet he had some seriously wealthy sponsors who helped him in every town. All the churches had trouble, but it's difficult to go thru Acts and find a group that wasn't steadily increasing. It isn't the money that bothers me, it's the lack of effect. Jesus IS the Truth, he said so himself. If we are as much of the Way as Navy fighter pilots are fighter pilots, something about how we frame and understand the world should be completely different than it is now. Something is off and I'm not satisfied with the explanations given to date.


I would like to say something about Lex, but I still can't. Having written one sentence with his callsign in it, I have tears streaming down my face again. He gave us face time in his written words and somehow we felt it, knew it, and our world was affected by him in a way that his absence causes genuine pain. Right now more words do not help.