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.
I met an art snob yesterday. People like that really get to me. I understand that views of what is “good” or “bad” art are very subjective, and everyone has the right to their own opinion on the matter, regardless of whether others agree or not. However, when I meet someone who believes that their personal views on art are perfect and they refuse to even allow room for argument or debate, it makes me frustrated and honestly makes me want to never talk to them about art again.
I feel much the same way about music snobs. Like most people, I have definite preferences when it comes to music, and there are artists and bands I personally find much more talented and introspective than others, but I never understood the need many seem to have to “shame” others for their musical tastes. I have eclectic musical tastes myself, just a few days ago I was in a Marilyn Manson mood, and then the very next day I was popping in a Carpenters cd. But if I suddenly want to listen to 90’s boy bands, Katy Perry, or the Hannah Montana soundtrack, I’m going to do so without feeling guilty.
Last night I had a really bad panic attack. The situation that triggered it is a complicated one that has me feeling rather torn in half. As I have probably mentioned before, my husband is a special education teacher. He is extremely devoted to his work and his students and loves what he does. This past Monday, he found out that one of his prior students, a girl who is now 19, needs a place to stay. My husband would like for us to take her in. I am really conflicted about it.
My husband and I used to do foster care, so I’m not unfamiliar with taking in strangers and looking after them, but the reason we had to quit foster care was my deteriorating health. That worries me about taking in a new, adult person who has both emotional and developmental issues. It also worries me because we recently downsized into a much, much smaller house and the autistic side of me is deeply worried about having no privacy or time alone which is essential to my well-being. Plus, I don’t know where we will move all the stuff that is now in the extra room.
On the other hand, I do feel deeply for this girl who has been through A LOT. My heart aches for anyone who already struggles with physical or mental disabilities and then has to add the weight of being abandoned or alone. She is living my worst nightmare in many ways and I can’t help but feel compassion for her. However, having never met her myself, I also worry about whether we would be a good fit or not. Often, that is something you just can’t tell until you live together, and if we do take her in, there is a good chance we would need to keep her at least a couple years until she graduates school and is moved into some form of independent living housing.
I feel so conflicted and anxious.