First comes divorce; or Other things than death

Isn’t it amazing when you realize that your spouse has been miserably married to you for 11 years and you think “Whew! Thought it was just me! It’s both of us!” and you can continue on your way to getting a divorce. Because that’s what you do when your relationship is toxic and hurts you. 
You know what I can do for this body that is toxic and hurts me? Keep med compliant. Yoga. PT exercise. (And all the other bullshit useless advice I get from day to day.) But I can’t divorce this body. And the pain from something like I have never stops. 
So, not feeling in the mood for advice on the relationship or the body issues. Both are pretty worthless for me right now. Just have to keep my head above water until I can figure out one or the other. Since living with me 24/7 is a gamut of misery and no one in my family can stand being around me. Mhmmm. Yep. Ok then. I’ve long stopped believing the toxic bulllshit poured in my ear. Or at least I thought I did. Today he thought it was “funny” to accuse me of having a “secret Amazon account”. Just like all the email accounts I have that are secret to communicate with my …  Well I’m not sure what I do with them. I get confused easily enough that I am pretty sure I would have emailed him from an OMGZ SEEKRIT EEMAL ACCONT years aso. And as soon as I figure out what I’m doing with those emails, I will let everyone know. 
And of anyone has any questions about pain and short term and long term memory issues, be sure to ask my husband. Apparently he is an expert and understands why I can remember that I made 31k at the chamber of commerce but can forget to make a phone call on a bad pain day. Or an agreement we made on a bad pain day.  WHOOPS. That’s backwards. He knows not shit about how it works. But is sure ready to use it to hurt me. 
In closing, if you think the man I married is an asshole, you are no longer welcome at his house while you are in St. Louis. I have a list of names if you want to know if you’re on it. Or if you just think he’s an asshole in general, you’re not welcome. But be aware. History has a way of rewriting itself around him. So if you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and just don’t come to his house. That way things are nice and easy for him. (But if you want to sneak over when he isn’t here and see my new bathroom, you’re more than welcome!) 
File this whole thing under “I DOAN GIVA FUUUUUUUCK” as per the movie Friday. 

Joint pain and range of motion; or Words I Say While Putting on a Bra

I don’t know how to begin to explain the joy that is putting on clothing when you have chronic pain issues. Because you have no idea how all that stuff is connected until one thing hurts. And it can be only one thing. Or many. Either way, it’s a load of fun.

When  people have surgery, they learn quickly what is connected with what. When I had my oldest, there were complications that lead to me basically having to have minor surgery to fix things after. And it was the most painful experience of my life. Or at least it was in the top five. I was still in the hospital when I sneezed. Before I could even start crying, there was a nurse there to put something good in my IV. Because all that stuff is connected And even coughing was profoundly painful. It took me a month to be able to walk fully upright. I have heard from people who have had even laparoscopic surgery that said they had no idea how connected those muscles were until they coughed. Or sneezed. Or went to stand up. And everything, and I mean everything went OHFUCKNO and that was the end of that.

In my case, things are strange. Things that hurt one day, may not hurt another day. One morning I may have full range of motion and then other mornings I try to stand up and hiss in that special way that means “Where the hell did that come from?”. I am lucky enough to have swelling in my sternum due to RA. And that is one of those things that you don’t know how much you flex that area until you flex it and it puts in its two cents worth. It makes using my nose spray fun because sneezing is so painful that I will brace myself on the counter. Which is a bad idea as that is how you hit your head and knock yourself cold. Which is about the most embarrassing thing to do. Especially when there is no one in the house with you and you wake up on the floor with a bump on your head. Not that I would know from experience. NOT AT ALL. I watched Jessica do it. At least once.

So – putting on clothes and how it relates to the rest of my life.

For the most part, we cannot go in public, as women, without a bra on. This is something that can be uncomfortable physically and just socially. But on the days I cannot put one on, what do I do? My husband has given me suggestions about how to put on my bra which makes me want to stab him in the face. Guess who has never worn a bra? HIM! And guess who has no idea how to twist their shoulders and hips and torso to put one on? Well, again, that would be him. Any form of trying to put one on when you have shoulder, neck and sternum issues is amazing. Put it on backwards and turn it around? Still hurts. Put in on with the straps up and over already? Twisting shoulders and torso to get it hooked – still hurts. What it comes down to is – it hurts. It is social and sometimes physical necessity that most people who don’t have to wear one or who *do* have to wear one but don’t have pain issues don’t grok the depth of having to wear one to go out.

So let’s talk about anxiety about leaving the house. Like the bra, there are things that can make me socially and physically uncomfortable about leaving the house. And the “helpful” commentary I get about leaving the house isn’t actually helpful. My anxiety disorder and asking me what “set it off this time” is like asking me why my sternum hurts. Well, I have RA. In my sternum. Why am I having a panic attack about leaving the house? Well, I have an anxiety disorder. There is nothing that “sets it off”. It is something that lurks in my life and some days makes it impossible to do the easiest of things. And continuing to insist that there has to be something that can be done or changed or started or stopped isn’t helpful. My Vicodin helps with the pain a bit, but doesn’t guarantee that I can rotate my shoulders. My Xanax and my antidepressant help with the anxiety disorder and intrusive thoughts, but doesn’t always mean that I can bounce out of bed and run out to PetSmart. It means that I have some chemicals that help to combat the fucked up chemicals that I live with. Not cured. Not fixed. Not perfect. And surely not suddenly explainable.

And much like the weather changing can add to my pain issues, things that change and happen around me can add to my anxiety and my depression. The chemical mix I am on now seemed to be working pretty well. I felt better than I had in years. And then something happened. Something large and angry and was not something that I had any control over. My husband and my daughter managed to have a screaming fight on Thanksgiving at my parent’s house. So what little I had gained, I lost, and then some. When the adults in your life cannot act like they are adults, there is little you can do to make things better. And when the person who is supposed to have been the one who takes care of you and protects you from the world becomes the person who shoves you back down the hill, it’s a hard pill to take. Living with someone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart for whatever reason is something that will make a sick person, sicker. It is as if they have forced a weather change and then get angry when your shoulders hurt. There’s nothing I can do to fix my brain. The only thing I can do is get help from the person who is supposed to be there to support me.

Which leads me to wonder about when it has become too much. Most of us who suffer from chronic and/or recurring health issues wonder when we will become too much. When helping becomes something not that the other person wants to do, but feels they *have* to do and it becomes a burden. And in some cases, they begin to sabotage you because it’s the only way they know how to act out their frustration. Which makes you worse and you need more help. Which means they become more resentful. Which makes you worse. Because let me tell you, we can tell when you are being hurtful on purpose. Or obtuse on purpose. Or are shoving us back down a hill on purpose because it has become too much to deal with and it feels good to shove, finally. Helping me put on a bra is an easy thing. But continuing to try to help me stay calm, get things done around the house and get me to go out to do even family things, day in and day out, is way more complicated and exhausting than helping with the pain issues. Add them together, and every day that passes, some of us wonder when it will be done. Or when the help will just stop. Or turn to harm. Or if it already has turned to harm and I have turned a blind eye to it, because what the hell else can I do? It isn’t like I’m a trust fund kid who can just do her own thing. I am dependant on the person who now holds a job. And who is angry that their money isn’t enough. And who is angry that *I* don’t have enough money. Angry about things I cannot fix. I have a child to think of outside of my own health. He has to come first. And even then, it is a struggle to make sure these things are done for him the way they should be.

So I guess the long and the short of it at this point is that helping me put on a bra or vacuuming the living room is easy. Being an emotional support and respecting my fucked up chemicals in my brain is much harder. And in a lot of cases, more harm than help is given. And we can’t even explain that. Because it’s harder for me to explain why what you think is a normal conversation in some cases is pushing me closer to the edge. Just like me telling you that my sternum hurts, you have to take my word for it that this conversation, for example, is making me hurt and I need your help.

Until one day, I realize that the help has ended. And it will. I have looked up statistics on people with chronic pain, depression, anxiety and all the other little fun things I have pinging around my life and I realize that we don’t stay married. Our partners become exhausted. Or we do when we can no longer bring ourselves to continue to explain why our partner is hurting us, physically and emotionally. When we are forced to make choices about what is more important to us – monetary security or emotional support. And then we are faced with the reality that we have neither. That’s when we stop wearing a bra and going out in public. And that’s when we stop trying to become a person who can shoulder it all. We stop trying to become a person. We stop wanting to be.

And we do. We stop.

“If you would just…” or The Four Words That Lead Into Stupidity

There are very few phrases that come after that beginning that make me want to do anything other than smack the person speaking. If this phrase disappeared from the English language, people would be much kinder to each other. I promise you this is true. Because anything that comes after those four words? They make you look like an asshole. Seriously. Starting a sentence like this assumes that A) you know more about the subject you are about to discuss and B) that the person you are speaking to is a bit of a simpleton. I mean, really. If you would just X, then everything would be fine! Goodness me!

“If you would just pay your bills on time, you wouldn’t be so stressed!” Dissection needed here. Let’s start with the fact that if I HAD the money, I would have paid my bills on time. It’s the NOT having money that is the stressful part. And every time someone says this to me, I want to look at them and say “SWEET BABY JESUS THIS IS THE ANSWER! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE??!” Because I have thought of it before. I am trying to make 1000$ in 1500$ or 3000$ and that shit is hard. Bending time and space might be easier for me at this point. (Part of my fantasy world includes four new tires on my car and all my bills paid by their due date, every month. What a sad little fantasy I have fallen into.) “I have always paid my bills on time and $HORRIBLETHING once happened to me so you have no excuse.” I find that these people have had the good luck and privilege of health and just plain not being in the wrong place, sometimes. You got pulled over and were polite to the cop so you went on your way? Well, isn’t that nice! Once, the same thing happened to me, except the cop was having a bad day and decided I didn’t get a warning, I got 7 tickets. Because he was an asshole who didn’t like my hair color. (This is an actual story in which I learned what is and isn’t a felony and calling a cop a bigoted asshole was NOT a felony, at the time. The judge was impressed I had done my homework and threw out all 18 tickets I got in 7 days. It’s called harassment. And after a while it was just funny.)

“If you would just” are the words that belittle the thing that has happened to the other person. Be it health issues, legal troubles, money, kids being idiots… It takes what they are sharing with you and what to them is a major issue, you, with four words, relegate it to a small thing that they shouldn’t be making such a big deal out of. After may years of therapy, I have tried hard to let others have their feelings when they express them. I have even asked “Are you wanting supportive friend, proactive friend or friend with a tarp and a shovel? Do you want advice or sympathy? Because I can do both rather well.” Instead of listening and helping your friend or family member feel better about a bad thing, you are being the jerk who has decided that their problem isn’t worth real input. And I left out a phrase in there because I wanted to put in another paragraph that is JUST for this part of the input from you, who has started with the 4 Hated Words.

So, your friend tells you about a situation that sucks. That is painful emotionally. That is expensive and may even be causing them physical pain. And it is a direct result of their own stupid behavior. Guess what – THEY ALREADY KNOW THIS. You don’t need to tell them. You don’t need to chide them for their stupid behavior. Believe me – BELIEVE ME – we know we fucked up and it lead to this. I just looked at my bank account and realized I made a mistake that cost me an extra 25 bucks for overdraft. And if I had just paid attention, this wouldn’t have happened. It was my very own fault. I know this. And if I talk to you about it, I probably already know it and am looking for a little sympathy or a There There with optional head pat. I don’t want to hear about your budget sheet you would be HAPPY to send me and that if I would JUST make a budget and stick to it, this wouldn’t be an issue. Oooooooor, yes, thanks, and go fuck yourself.  (80% of the shitty things that have happened to me in my life are direct results of my own stupid choices. Or bad choices. Or no choices at all. And I find that’s true for most people. Don’t stop it from sucking, but at least I am a little enlightened about it.)

And say that this person has come to you time and again with the same problems. The same complaints. And you are not feeling charitable about continuing to listen to them. Did you know that there are other phrases that a therapist can teach you for detaching  yourself from the situation? I sure do. And so does my friend Tee. We both know how to say “I’m sorry. I just don’t have it in me right now to help you with this. It seems to be a recurring issue and I am feeling pretty done in, myself, emotionally. I can’t be the friend you need right now. And I don’t know when I will be able to be, again.” That sounds amazingly more adult than “You’ve fucked yourself over again and I’m tired of dealing with your whinging. Go bitch to someone else.” Here is where yours truly admits to saying the second thing and not the first and left scorched earth behind her in a relationship that never really recovered. It is a matter of choice of how you want to pause this relationship in question. And it’s so very hard to be the adult. So god damn hard.

But back to the Four HorseWords of the Bitchocolypse. Don’t start with them. Use this as a jumping off point to understand that the problem someone is bringing to you may be a mask for one that is so deep and so scary that all she can do is bitch about the water bill not being paid. Maybe she is leaving town to try to get a job and is terrified about the effect it is going to have on her family. But what she *can* say is that she can’t get him to do the god damn cat box. Because that’s an angry thing that is simple and people can relate to. Not the fear and guilt of leaving an autistic child with a father who hasn’t spent the time with him over the last two years that she has and that she is terrified that this may be her last shot at making money for real. And that is when the “Why don’t you just tell him that BLAH BLAH BLAH $CONSEQUENCE.” is not helpful. Because she’s done all that. And she doesn’t know how to give voice to the fear and the anxiety of the Real Hard Issues, so she bitches about the everyday ones that are open ended and never ending.

Those four words, in short, make you unkind and dismissive. And hurt other people. They are right up there with suggesting I get a bus schedule to get a job or that I should be willing to accept anything that’s offered. How do you know more than me about the issues I am having trying to get a job. The bus ain’t gonna fix it, sister. And you just let me know what category of friend I have to put you into, now. It isn’t the one I will commit a federal offense for, either. So don’t even ask me.

More on this later when the other pains aren’t chewing at my toes. The little bastards aren’t going away…