I have to be careful how I word this post as there is a slight (but unlikely) chance the person I am talking about might read it. However, it has been weighing heavily on my mind so I wanted to talk about it.
There was a person in my personal life I was really close to for several years. I cared about them deeply and loved them like family. They were much younger than myself, so I tried to set a good example for them and be a sort of big sister to them. We spent much of our time together, partly out of necessity at the time and partly because I genuinely enjoyed their company.
Now they are all grown up and I am still in loose contact with them and seeing how they have turned out has kind of broken my heart. They have embraced some radical ideologies that are rude, ignorant, and sometimes bordering on mean or even cruel. I know I only had a real influence on them for a few years, but it still makes me feel like somehow I failed them that they have turned from such a thoughtful, sensitive, caring young person to a cold, bitter, angry, and sometimes hateful adult.
I still love them and know that goodness I knew inside of them must be there somewhere. I know they have had a rough life and many hurtful experiences, just as I had growing up. I wonder if I am being too hard on them. I know sometimes the other side goes way too far with political correctness, perhaps it is just a reactionary thing? Maybe they are just being young and foolish, like we all once were? I don’t know, but it still hurts my heart.
Yesterday my husband and I traveled over to Indiana to meet my mom and her husband for Christmas dinner. We all decided to meet at a truckstop that is about halfway between us, so that neither of us would have to cook, clean up, or drive too far:
I genuinely had a good time and am glad I’ve been able to spend more time with them recently. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, may remember that there has been a lot of water under the bridge between my mother and myself over things that happened when I was growing up. She made some huge mistakes, and as is often the case, my sister and I had to pay for many of those choices just as much as she did…maybe more in some cases.
She genuinely seems to be regretful and is trying to make things better between us, so although I am always going to be cautious and protective of myself, it feels good to be able to embrace forgiveness for my own peace of mind and well-being. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what we went through was ok, or that the damage wasn’t done, but it does mean that it doesn’t have control of my life, my mind, or my heart anymore. I can move on.
I am somewhat a believer in the saying “When we know better, we do better”. Some of us take a long, long time to “know better”, but healing and wisdom are ours once we finally do face the truth.
Yesterday I had rather a bit of a breakthrough moment. Now, to most people with healthy backgrounds and relationships, this will likely be a bit of a “duh” moment, but to people like me who were groomed to be codependent caretakers, it is an immensely important realization.
My “eureka moment” can be summed up in one sentence:
I don’t owe anyone ANYTHING, and no one owes me ANYTHING.
Of course, this does not mean that I can’t give to others out of the goodness of my heart, or that they can do the same, but none of us should feel required to do so. I would say the one exception to this rule would probably be children. If you bring children into this world, you do owe them something – and that is to do your best at providing them a safe, stable, and loving childhood. I guess pets fit that category as well. If you sign up to take care of something that can’t care for itself, you are essentially accepting that responsibility.
Outside of that, I’m not sure if any of us should feel like we have to fully take care of others emotionally, mentally, physically, or materially. We all have a responsibility to do our best to meet our own needs, and while that may mean reaching out for help now and then, we have to realize that sometimes we may be turned down and that is ok. If so, we just need to keep looking I suppose.
As someone with disabilities though, I do want to say that I do feel it is vitally important to have public programs and assistance available (whether these be government or charity systems) for those of us who sometimes struggle more than others at being “functioning adults”. To me, it is just a simple matter of society welfare and empathy that should strive to help anyone who falls through the cracks.
“Without Tess”, written by Marcella Pixley, is one of the best YA novels I have read in a while. I rarely give books five stars when rating them, but this one I did. The story revolves around the main character (Lizzie), and her dead sister (Tess). Lizzie is the younger sister by a couple years and was only 10 when her older sister tragically passed away.
The real star of the novel is Tess. As you read through the book and relive vibrant memories Lizzie shared with Tess, you come to both love and sometimes dislike Tess. Tess was a true believer in magic. She was creative and passionate. She was both loving and loyal, but at times cruel and violent. She was mentally ill, and at times downright psychotic. This novel is a lifelike retelling of what it is like to grow up with an extremely mentally ill sibling. It addresses the love, the hate, the sadness, the pain, the rage, the guilt, and all the other emotions that come along with such a disturbing family dynamic.
I had a deeply personal connection with this book, both as someone who grew up with a mentally ill sibling, and someone who eventually lost that sibling, mostly due to that mental illness. At one point the book even made me tear up, which is extremely rare for any book to do. Definitely recommended!
By: Maranda Russell
The lace unravels.
The smaller holes
become bigger tears
as the candle wax
hardens on the soft,
but the altar
The following is a journal entry of random thoughts and feelings I wrote down one night when I couldn’t sleep. As you can probably tell, I wasn’t in the best mood when I wrote it:
“Lately I’ve been deeply struggling with so many dark thoughts. Not necessarily dark thoughts about myself, but about the world and humanity in general.
I feel like I have lost all sense of personal ethics and could do anything if pushed far enough. Lie. Steal. Kill. Betray. I don’t feel guilty about this though, because I think it is a universal human weakness. I’m not sure that ethics and morality even exist once you push a human being past rational thought.
One thought resounds through my consciousness, that much of humanity isn’t worth the breath that is wasted on them. The twisted side of me wants to see the world burn, even if I burn with it. I am often confronted with the very real possibility that the world would be better off if humans went extinct.”
*By the way, if you are struggling with feelings like these, BetterHelp offers some great advice about online therapy options!
On Facebook I shared a post about some tax changes that are being made to churches and non-profit institutions. The debate that started, made me think about my own experience working for a non-profit organization and I wanted to share a little bit of that here. For around 6 months or so, I worked for a non-profit religious hospital system. My job was to be one of the people in the emergency department who collected patient information (especially insurance information) and processed payments.
From the beginning, it was drilled into us that it was about the money. We were hounded to make sure we collected certain percentages of money from patients while they were still there in the building, whether they could afford it or not. We were encouraged to apply pressure to them to pay at least a percentage that day, regardless of their personal circumstances. Although patients could legally ask to be billed later, we were told to NEVER tell them that, and only offer that option if they brought it up first.
We were told bluntly that the hospital had to make sure to look like they were doing enough “public outreach” to keep their non-profit tax status, so when they did run public assistance programs we were told to advertise them when talking to patients. It became clear that they didn’t necessarily do programs for the poor because they CARED about them, it was so they could continue to get the tax breaks and other non-profit advantages. I heard so much negative talk there about Medicaid patients and the poor. I was also told flat out that the company was purposefully looking into opening more locations in areas where the people were more likely to pay, and closing locations where the populations were poorer.
One huge issue I had was that even when someone was brought to the ER and died, we were pressured to try to get money from their grieving relatives. More than once, those in charge actually chose not to tell family members that their loved one had passed away until AFTER we collected insurance information and copays/deductible payments. They would send us in, and we would know the family’s loved one was gone, but we were told to lie and pretend we knew nothing. This killed me to have to do. One time a lady begged me for information on her husband who was dead, and I couldn’t tell her anything. I also struggled to go up to a mother whose child has just tried to commit suicide and ask her for money. I felt like scum.
In the end, I couldn’t keep this job due to my own health issues, but I couldn’t have kept doing it with a clear conscience either.
The last week has been rather rough. Healthwise, I seem to be having some immune system issues. For some reason, I have gotten sores all over my gums and strangely, under my tongue. They aren’t like regular canker sores, they are more like little painful little red balls and swollen, ulcerated patches. I’m not sure exactly what they are, although while looking around online, I did find forums full of people with CFS and fibromyalgia who have experienced similar outbreaks, so I am guessing maybe it is related to that.
Unfortunately, the sores that are near the back of my jaw are causing an immense amount of ear pain, to the point that it feels like an ear infection. I was also running a low grade fever last night, which makes me think it is some kind of virus or infection causing the sores. I am taking some antivirals suggested by the doctor, but they don’t seem to be helping at all and are only serving to make me nauseated on top of everything else.
Today I was supposed to go to a birthday picnic for one of my husband’s coworkers, but I simply didn’t feel up to it. I feel bad for letting him down because I know he really wanted me to go so that I could get to know his friends better, but socializing is the absolute last thing I feel like doing right now.
All of this has me rather depressed and feeling lethargic. It feels like ever since I overdid it on our mini vacation to Kentucky, my health has taken a nosedive and is struggling to recover. That is what many people don’t understand about CFS, that once you trigger a relapse, it can take weeks to get back to “normal”…and our “normal” is far below average to start with! Chronic pain and chronic illness are no joke and make for a rough life sometimes.
Lately I have been really struggling with the temptation to go “no contact” with someone who has been abusive to me throughout my life in different ways. If you follow my blog closely, you can probably guess who I might be talking about. I did manage about a year ago to get some physical distance from this person, which helped a lot, but I still have such feelings of dread, sadness, anger, hurt, and despair whenever I hear from them (or more consistently lately, when I am ignored by them).
I know my therapist would probably do a happy dance if I decided to go “no contact” with this person. They won’t say so outright, but it is clear to me that they see that the relationship is not conducive to my healing. The last time I saw my therapist, she asked me what I was getting out of hanging onto the relationship…and I couldn’t really say. Other than hurt and frustration, I’m not sure I’m getting much at all.
However, I can’t help but feel that if I totally disengage with this person, it will cause me to feel guilty and fearful. Guilty because I was groomed from a young age to feel responsible for this person and to be their caretaker. Additionally, I feel guilt about what my other family members might think. The fear would mostly be due to the fear of confrontation, whether in person or through more passive-aggressive avenues. The thought of letting go also plays on my fear of being all alone and unloved.