It’s Only Human

The single most challenging thing in life is to know when to ask for help, remembering that one is never left to go it alone. Turning a blind eye to the helping hands around you when in a time of great need is a grave mistake.

There are some who get an intrinsic reward from sympathies of the masses by hoisting themselves up as martyrs in the face of great adversity and challenge. Whether it is out of pride they find no resources, or to get the attentions they crave, remains a mystery.

There is no shame in asking for help. Please never take the load yourself if you feel like you are drowning. Reach out when you are overloaded. Someone will offer to help or point you toward someone who can help.

It is no sign of failure or weakness if you ask for help. The important point is that you must recognize when you need help.

  • If it is sapping your energy/resources and there seems no solution in sight, no matter what you try; then you need help.
  • If you feel your back is desperately against the wall with no path to resolution, then you need help.
  • When you feel overwhelmed with all of the tasks/expectations set before you and you begin to shutdown physically or emotionally, then you need help.
  • When you’re experiencing a highly charged emotional state and it seems never-ending, then you need help.

Being in any of these situations it is easy for one to be blinded by the situation and not see who is around who can help – thinking you are alone to handle it.

The important thing is to know you are never alone.

Let me repeat that with emphasis…

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.

There are hundreds of thousands of folks who probably have gone through the very situation(s) you are in and can offer guidance and solutions. Maybe family, friends, professional agencies, counselors, doctors, psychiatrists, support groups, message boards…even a complete stranger.

But you must open your mouth and say, “I need help.”

Simply complaining or staying silent will not alert those around you that you need help. Everyone around you is working through issues of their own and may not be intuitive enough to know you are in dire straits and need assistance.

Know too, that just because a person is busy does not mean they are not open to help. Please do not use that as an excuse to keep sch-tum. If they cannot help directly, they may know someone or some resource that can help.

I know it is humbling to admit vulnerability, but we are a community and we are put on this earth to help one another.

When that help is given, remember it. Do not claim that it was never received or disregard the help that is offered. You are less likely to be helped in the future.

Some of my favorite songs regarding helping

The Band –

Billy Swan –

Joe Cocker –

The Staples Singers –

The Little River Band –

The Youngbloods –

And most importantly – Bill Withers

 

Best Cure For Heartbreaks

When someone shuts you down, turns you out, excludes you from their company; it hurts.

The cut is so deep there is a hollow ache that begins in the throat which feels asphyxiatingly tight. The hollowness spreads so deep within your chest — as if someone took all the wind out of you as your brain begins to process the complex flood of emotions which are about to follow.

  • Disbelief
  • Shock
  • Speechlessness while the hollow ache travels
  • Humiliation
  • Worthlessness
  • Grief-ridden sorrow that appears to have no bottom
  • Anger and indignation
  • Guilt over feeling angry

I find that it is easy to crawl inside myself to heal while simultaneously building internal protective emotional barriers to never allow this to affect me in this way ever again.

That method of cutting one’s self off to wallow and lick wounds takes so much time. So so so much time.

Over that time, whilst wallowing in the flood of emotions, I began to waste so much of my energies dwelling on the event, reopening the wound over and over again. Picking at each second of what had happened to try to heal.

Yes, you must take a minute to cry- sob even. But then there’s an immediate fix, that I offer to you…one that washes everything away.

Service.

Acts of selflessness toward others. Random others. Opening that wound so wide to let the love you have pour out to others in acts of kindness and generosity of spirit. Expect nothing but their happiness in return. Because, as the love of yours pours out, a new form of love surrounds you like a comforting warm wrap. It feels healing. It strengthens your spirit so you may face that hurt with newer eyes.

It may still bring you some sadness; but there will be compassion. And perhaps ultimately understanding and mercy.

The more you serve, the easier it is to find your way back out of the pain.

And it is strange, I’ve often found an opportunity to serve directly following a hurt dealt. As if the universe was handing me a first aid kit for my heart.

I hope that if you experience the kind of pain you did on that rejection ever again you look up and outward for the opportunity to begin kindly serving selflessly.

Don’t shut down. Open up.

And lastly, I’ve found through experience, that in every horrible hurtful event there lies an element of ridiculousness. Some crazy element of funny, that at the time, I could not see.

Always look for the humour in the event. It is there.

Logical Science Reasoning: Sex Ed – Masters Level

Reference article in order to digest my message

You probably didn’t click the prerequisite link to read the article, but I will summarize this before the lesson begins.

A Mormon blogger serially tweets a scientific truth that men are 100 percent responsible for all unwanted pregnancies.

Ooh…I bet you took a defensive stance on that sentence, didn’t you?

If you click the link and read each tweet listed in the article you will see that she addressed each and every rapid fire retort that’s swirling in your brain in defense of your responsibility as a man with sexual ability.

Seriously, click it and read it.

I can wait.

Not only is it a grand lesson in biology in a developmental sense but also speaks to the very hypocrisy I’ve spoken to you in the past about expectations on women.

Ok so I bet you skimmed it and closed your mind with the reasoning “She’s a man hater on the attack.”

No, grasshopper, her points are distinct and clearly accurate to the function and capability of your body over and above a woman’s body.

Remember when I told you my friend and I dominated the sex trivia game and kept the high score rating for as long as we were in college? I’m here to say this mother of six nearly perfectly correct.

One more time, read the article point by point and find the two bits she omitted.

Did you find them?

Nah, probably not, my sweet little headstrong Harry.

She failed to mention two ways in which the steps a woman takes can fail in preventing an unwanted pregnancy.

  1. Antibiotics are Birth control pills’ kryptonite. It’s like taking nothing at all. Bam! She’s got a baby on board
  2. Getting her tubes tied won’t necessarily prevent your Olympic swimmers from getting to the golden egg. That’s why I have my cousins David and Sarah.

So where is my lesson in this? When you become sexually active and you will eventually; you must take great care in how you proceed with your partner knowing that one slip-up on your part means fatherhood.

Ask yourself this question: “If we do this deed and she becomes pregnant is she someone I can invest a good portion of my life supporting her financially and emotionally while raising a child together lovingly for the next 18 years? Am I willing to put my needs, goals and life plans on the back burner for that length of time just so I can experience approximately 5 seconds of toe curling, mind blowing, nearly fainting dead away ecstasy?”

Weigh it carefully. What sacrifices would you have to make as a father to raise that child?

If your not willing to commit to your partner like that; then masturbate, use all the forms of contraception at once, (triple bag it if necessary) or abstain until you want that family.

Do not ever expect that your partner is solely responsible for the contraception.

Although vasectomy is an option, like tying tubes, it can fail as well.

And finally, condoms do in fact expire which could make them more prone to break while in activity.

Keeping it close to the vest

This is the time of your life when you feel the most defiant and frustrated with your parents. “Their home, their rules” butting up against your desire to be an independent adult. You begin to notice they’re flawed and hypocritical. They only see you as a child and irresponsible when clearly you believe you are not.

From their end, they see a lack of ambition and autonomy. Poor choices on both sides fuel the arguments. They say that raising a teenager is like nailing jello to a tree. It really is.

In my experience which I have shared with you often enough, I kept a lot of of my frustrations in a journal form because voicing it would result in physical repercussions. I had always wanted to say the things to my parents that went into the journal, but over time, I had realized that it would not have been made a bit of difference to them and it would not change how I was raised.

What was done is done and cannot be undone.

Although, my experiences taught me what not to do as a parent. I stand by the belief that everything that happens to you is an opportunity for learning. When you look back on your childhood and your experience with us, I hope you too, can find a teachable moment.

Do not hang on to any bitterness and let it cloud your life. I did that for several years and it was a complete waste of time. Turn it toward something positive. List out all of the things you wished you had from us and resolve to model your parenting and relationships after that.

Parenting is hard. We think as parents we are approaching it in the best possible way, but we are human and we make mistakes. And let me tell you, the struggle with wanting to be a better parent than your own and resorting to the same tactics that were used on you is real.

Let me share my list of things I did my best to approach parenting you:

  • If I promised something to you, I followed through.
  • I was not going to Joan Crawford you with psycho expectations on how you kept your room, or how you dressed.
  • If I was to resort to corporal punishment, it was only as an absolute last resort if you were about to harm yourself or others with your actions. I believe I spanked you only 3 times in your childhood and I did not want to do it.
  • I was going to lead by example in terms of motivating toward a good work ethic and problem solving.
  • I wasn’t going to spend time comparing you to others with “Why can’t you be more like…” or “Don’t be like…”
  • I did not direct your behavior with “Don’ts” I would simply ask you to do what was desired or gave you limited choices to get you toward the parenting goal.
  • I resolved to listen to you when you spoke and did not let the belief “Children should be seen not heard.” rule in this house.
  • I was not going to go on surprise purges of your spaces with full on rants and corporal punishment in the aftermath.
  • I would allow you to find your independence by encouraging, advising and supporting you in your effort to learn to drive, find a job and finish your school projects on your own.
  • I made time to spend with just you instead of leaving you on your own all the time.

Some would say I was not strict enough. Maybe not. Maybe that was my big mistake as a parent to you. However, I did believe giving you the freedom to fall on your face and try to learn that the failure was yours and yours alone. (Not some outside force or the failure of someone else) Although, I do believe you are still learning that lesson today.

Know that some battles are not worth fighting. Only pursue the ones which are worth fighting. If after a day or week you cannot remember the reason for your anger, it was a battle not worth fighting.

With that said, I know you have tons to say to your father based on how he approached parenting you. And I am sure you have tons to say about whether or not I stood up to him enough. You’d be surprised to know, that when you were not around there were indeed shouty throw downs, I even dragged him to therapy (which did nothing to shake him out of it). And at some point, I expected him to ask for a divorce and I said, “bring it”. The reason you did not see it was because I resolved to limit parenting disputes if you were present. I know the kind of unrest that causes a child, seeing parents at each others’ throats over good cop/bad cop. It’s unhealthy. And at some point when you get older, it becomes a bargaining chip on your part to play one parent off the other and instigate the arguments in order to manipulate your way.

I know this because I did this. My family were openly fighting about parenting choices and at some point I found out how to make that benefit me.

With all you have to say, I encourage you to think about why you need to say it, what you expect from it and when you feel you need to say it. Personally, if you had something to say to me about parenting I would wish you would say it all now while I have the chance to be a better parent to you.

And lastly, the thing I have noticed about you with the contentious relationship you have with your father is that you are letting him rule your happiness in terms of earning his approval. The only person who should rule your happiness is you. You should set the standard of approval by what you want for yourself. If you feel you have done your best then you shouldn’t need to turn to others for affirmation. Self satisfaction should be enough.

Only The Lonely

I said that I had more to write about those three weeks with my mom and I deliver.

It was a trip that was overwhelming with all the things to process. The actual things, the emotional things, the outrageous things, me wrestling with my conflicting things, and then the biggest thing.

The loneliness thing.

My mother had her mother for several years as her bickering buddy, her television watching companion, her people-judging partner, her fellow gossip gal, and dining companion.

They laughed, they bitched, they screamed at each other; but through it all, they weren’t alone.

Until Mimi died.

The one thing in which I differ greatly from my mother is that I am most content to be alone. I believe she has always been a social creature but too afraid to put herself out there. Mimi carried her socially. Was it social anxiety?

Maybe.

Mom had few friends of her own. She liked groups in her youth. A gang of friends with whom to spend time. She had a couple close friends in Germany but after moving to the States they held a fairly infrequent correspondence until that eventually faded away.

In the end, she had her mother, Mimi. They were friends in a loving, and yet, volatile way. Like a Debbie Reynolds-Carrie Fisher way, I suppose. Or maybe mix between a Joan and Christina Crawford way.

Their downs were dramatic for certain.

After Mimi was laid to rest, one would think that mom would have had an Earnshaw epiphany and realized now she had the freedom to really live.

I think she had some of it, but it was my sister who now carried her. Mom was not ever going to be brave enough to independently seek happiness for herself, make new friends, or build a career.

I think after the disease took hold and really presented itself, my sister could no longer carry her socially and the role of patient to caregiver began.

This meant hiring in care workers while my sister worked and it meant hours Mom went without human interaction. She could not drive anymore due to macular degeneration stealing her vision and the LBD made it risky for her to venture out to visit with nearby neighbors. (Although, most nearby she had some bone to pick with at some point.)

You and I both know we can go hours on end without any interaction except for television, books, music or the internet and relish in it.

However, imagine yourself blind and all that self entertainment is dependent upon your sight. Operating remote controls, not knowing what’s going on in a program (if you do manage to fumble your way to a show to watch) due to simply music and no dialogue. Much is lost.

Inevitably, loneliness sets in.

And boredom.

This is now an Eleanor Rigby stanza.

While I was there she had the 7/24 company she hadn’t had in years. We talked and watched shows, listened to audio books and dined together. The one thing I wished we could have done was taken walks together. She simply wasn’t steady enough on her feet to do that, however.

Having to return was the single most conflicting action of my life. I’m needed in my own family but I was beneficial there too. Every time I took a trip to the store I saw opportunities to just uproot and stay there. But it would mean starting over. There are no real job prospects in that area and it would mean forcing the whole family to forsake their paths for my sense of responsibility.

There seemed to be no right answer on this. Deep down, I believe I should have stayed longer. Everything inside me screamed I was failing her, I was failing my sister and I was failing my sense of responsibility toward family.

But I have an immediate family too–you and your father.

I knew when I returned, I wasn’t totally myself because I focused on her loneliness. Leaving her back to the hours on end without interacting with others. She spent some time in a nursing home facility after I left, so she had more contact with others but she fell while there a few times.  The trade off did not seem to balance in my opinion.

I made it a point to call her after I got back and it was a hit or miss when she would answer the phone. When she did, it was clear that our conversations would be superficial and tiring for her as she struggled to complete thoughts. I don’t want to frustrate her at all. So making the calls seems to be reopening a wound over and over for her.

This disease is complicated and difficult to know exactly how to help from this distance to combat the loneliness. I want help but I want her to rest as well.

My advice to you is to treat those who may be suffering from loneliness the way you would wish to be treated if you felt alone. Just be sure that in your efforts you are doing good in the process and not creating more pain. Take care with your intentions and act accordingly.

 

youngerhandholdingolderhand

The Injustice of Aging

You’re young. So very young. This post will seem like a lot of whinging about what a drag it is getting old.  You’ve witnessed several elderly patrons at your place of work fall; and as the compassionate soul you are, you have helped and identified the problems to management to assure the incident is not likely to happen again.  It is that kind of consideration that gives me faith in humanity.

I don’t believe you were aware of all of the things I witnessed while visiting my mom. As well as the things I am ashamed to falling prey as a caregiver having little to no experience with dementia other than my teenage self re-living the same frustrations I did when my great-grandmother came to live with us while she suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Society is bent on valuing youth; because… “The children are our future”. (Also the right end to a pageant question as proven by iCarly.)

However, these bright eyed gifts are molded by their elders. And they deserve some respect and care as they make their journey into the sunset.  This is merely to forewarn you of what lies ahead as you age.

It’s not just the physical or mental deterioration which you must endure on this journey. And might I just say, some of it was a complete surprise.

For example:

As you age, your digestion changes once again. To the point where you are slower to digest and certain complex foodstuffs you are not able to break down as you could in your youth. (becoming lactose intolerant was a shocker to me)

Your ability to see at night deteriorates as well. I recall my grandmother on my father’s side having me take the wheel after sunset in Laredo ( a town with which I was wholly unfamiliar)  because she could no longer see to drive. She drove a huge boat of a vehicle too.

Your kidneys are not as efficient as they once were. So they slow in the processing of wastes and you swell a lot if you tax them. (Think cankles and puffy feet) It’s actually painful.

Skin issues become a thing. Fungal infections, boils, yeast, suspicious growths, moles, skin tags, wrinkles, wens. Jesus I thought the dermatology visits were over when acne was resolved.

And this doesn’t affect you since you’re a guy… but the many plagues of menopause are shocking. Burning mouth syndrome, hot and cold flashes, mood swings far worse than PMS mood swings, the hemorrhagic instability of the in utero sloughing process. The sudden transformation into a carnival sideshow freak crossed with Frieda Kahlo. My beard if left to grow would be better than yours. I would stake a bet on it.

Your mind is not as sharp to grasp and hold onto items in short term memory. As you age it progresses while mid sentence. You cannot finish a fucking sentence while talking! Imagine the shame and embarrassment of that.  Some of it is funny like the “Where’s my [thing I cannot find but is on me the whole time]?” or the “What did I come in this room for anyway?” scenarios. Others are scary like losing a chunk of time and space while driving a route you’ve driven over and over. Or scary like attempting to place [some object] into [place where it does not belong].  And yet other are scary like not remembering if you had shampooed or rinsed your hair while you are in the shower. Or super scary like standing in that shower and not knowing what to do at all. You are simply frozen in indecision.

Aside from the obvious aging issues of diseases tied with old age, lifestyle based illness, poor reactions to viruses you once could recover with ease in your youth there is more.

There is harassment, discrimination and abuse.

Refer to this handy chart: 2018-08-17_14-56-49

I got to see some of this first hand while staying with my mother.

For the Financial Abuse:

  • The phone calls trying to scam her of money or scam her medicare coverage for services she did not need.
  • Care workers stealing from her instead of doing the work they were hired to do.
  • Neighbors charging her exorbitant amounts for services they had no need to do.
  • Pharmacy delivery people taking blank checks or forcing my mother to sign checks she clearly could not sign for the deliveries. (who knows how much they were taking out of her account)

For the Psychological:

  • Careworkers guilting my mother into allowing for them to not doing their job because she was not as bad off as they were.
  • My own response to frustrations of the symptoms of her disease as if I felt she was purposefully being uncooperative when clearly I did not understand how her functioning degrades as she grows more tired during the day.
  • Neighbors verbally harassing my mother over things she cannot control.

For the neglect:

  • Careworkers not showing up, showing up late, sleeping on shift, not doing the tasks for which they were assigned.
  • My mother not getting the right meds at the right time of day due to the mismanagement of her prescriptions in the pillbox
  • The horrible food choices delivered to her door once per day only 4 days a week. Never in a timely manner.
  • Not discarding spoiled or discarded food which might lead her to consume such by accident.

Luckily for my mother, I never once saw her physically abused. But that is not to say it didn’t happen in the nursing home. I have no proof of it.

There aren’t many protections or safeguards from elder abuse other than vigilant family members and case workers. As you grow older it becomes increasingly important to have a network of younger family and professionals who have your back. Don’t think you can go this alone.

And if you are obliged to become a caregiver to either me or your father, know these things:

  • It is exhausting.
  • It requires selfless giving, unlimited patience, compassion and non-judgement.
  • You become the parent of your parents.
  • There is support for caregivers when it gets to be too much.
  • It is a-okay to say you cannot do it and arrange for in home care or nursing home care.
  • If you choose to get outside help, you must never trust they have your parents’ best interests in their purview. Assume they are all out to take advantage of you or their situation to their benefit. Stay vigilant and always check up on their service.

The Final Curtain

Today I had a bit of a scare; just as I was informed that my father-in-law fell whilst out walking Daisy. Turns out it might have been another heart event. He’s in the hospital undergoing tests. Within an hour, I myself, felt a familiar dizziness followed by clammy hands which made me very concerned that I too, was having another heart event.  I couldn’t say for sure that I had chest pains or any of the other pains that go alongside the classic symptoms of a heart issue, but the wooziness and the clammy hands seemed very familiar to the ones from the past; which, over time, ultimately led me to the emergency room having the stents put inside me.

The cost was outrageous and I vowed that I could not go through that hardship again. As it was far too expensive and I am in a current massive debt as a result of having to defer my budgeted obligations to credit while paying of medical bills. I figured if this happened again I might just as well let nature take its course and take me.

As I sat at work today, deciding whether or not to take the nitroglycerin pill (which I ultimately did) I was wrestling with my selfishness to survive and my need to accept my fate. I do feel much better, but after several internet searches, I found this could be the warning shots to the actual attack. As I read those words I thought, “Well, this is a very inconvenient time. I just committed to several things. Work is a mess. I just started binge-watching a new series and the next season starts soon. I have a commitment very early tomorrow morning for charity work. I have a lunch date Sunday.”

I want to know for sure if I am having the warnings of a heart event. Have the off again/on again neck and shoulder pains over the past month also been warnings? Why isn’t there a quick way to be sure like an at home test? Blood pressure cannot be a good predictor. Why isn’t there a home scanner that can say, “You are having a heart attack, please act accordingly.”?

I do feel tired now, and I have that shitty post nitro headache due to the blood vessel dilation. But my hands are no longer clammy. Could it have been a panic attack because of the news of my father-in-law? I might never know. Because anyone reading this would say, er rather…scream “Dammit! Go to the hospital!”

They say this because they care. Maybe. Or are they just selfish because they want me around and do not want to accept that nature has other plans? It is quite the dilemma when seeing someone whose hard living and is the cause of their poor health. I made this bed and I must lie in it. I do what I am willing to try to exist longer, but I also know there’s a shitload more wrong with me than just my heart/vascular. So why try? If my heart doesn’t get me, will the genetic predisposition of RCC get me?

Remember when I said the only person who can fail you is you? I am your example. I love sweets too much, creamy casseroles, the occasional cheeseburger and smoking. I gave up the alcohol because of the heart event and pizza and fried, fatty foods. You know –  the real obvious things. I turned to smoothies and more vegetarian fare. I drink loads of water. But I cannot seem to break all my vices. I need just one soother to my stressors.

My maternal grandmother had a friend, Bette who smoked.

A lot.

Ultimately she was diagnosed with emphysema; but she did not quit smoking. We were seated at her kitchen table where she explained that she enjoyed smoking and it was too late to quit now. Her fate was sealed. Why face death miserably in withdrawal when you can face it doing the very thing you enjoy?

I can understand her point of view. As it is also mine.

A ton of people will be judgemental about my decisions, but there are a lot people on this earth cheating the inevitable every day because they want more time that nature really does not want to give them.  Our earth is overpopulated. We need to recognize when our time is up and take a bow. Be thankful for the life we had, the people we met along the journey and hope that we left a nice enough legacy to keep them thinking happy thoughts of us long after we’re gone.

I will leave you with this little gem.  And don’t listen to the Elvis version because it sucks.