Monday, April 30, 2012

There is someone in my life, but I just use him to spoon

I'm kidding.  I'm mostly kidding.  I'm kind of kidding.
 I'm kidding?

We met under cliche circumstances.  I was separated from Wounded Man for the 3rd or 4th time, I can't remember.  I had to get a JOB because WM was being an ASS about child support, and there he was, the anti thesis of what I had been attracted to before:
 tall (before:short), white (before: brown), nice (before: satan).
 He shook my hand and he looked me in the eye and I think we both thought:
 "whoa, did you feel that?" 
I had been with the same man for 10 years.  Never cheated, never really thought much about anyone else, save for the 10 minute crush I had on the 22 year old when we were separated the first time (don't you judge me, don't you dare judge me!)
I never wanted to be interested in anyone else.  That was the stage that I was at.
And there he was.
This big, goofy, limbs and legs BARTENDER who was fucking.....normal.
Oh my God.
He was normal.
Still rampant in my addictions, I set out to seduce him. He was in the middle of a divorce. He had been married for 18 years.  I saw pictures of them in matching Hawaiian shirts. I barfed a little in my mouth.  Then I made up my mind: The man needed a thrill.  And I was determined to give it to him.
I rocked his fucking world.  This was 20 pounds ago, mind you.  I had some confidence from wearing Spanx and heels all day at the restaurant, so I was on fire.
We had an intense 'sex' affair for a month.  I was on my way to a new co-addiction, and I was teaching him the ropes.
Then Wounded Man came around again.  I fell for the drama all over again.  And I had to tell Mr. Normal that I was returning to my mess of a marriage.
He wasn't mad.  He understood. 
4 months after I returned to Wounded Man I ended up in a rehab for all sorts of things, which I ball together and call a Nervous Breakdown, old school style.
28 days of 8 hours of therapy.  No cell phones, no internet, no bullshit.  Let's just call it a Spa Vacay, shall we?  It sure as Hell rejuvanited something in me, probably my soul.
I came back.  New and Improved.  Determined to fix my marriage although the therapist there told me that I was being abused, I thought I could fix Wounded Man.  He promised to fix himself.
Well, as you can deduce, that didn't work out and once I got home everything was my fault again because I was crazy, an alcoholic, a sex addict, everything.  It was all me.
Fuck, that was a hard load to carry alone.  It got heavy.  I went to all these meetings, trying desperately to hold on to the peace I felt in Tennesee for those 28 dyas, and I started to slip back into breakdown mode.
Mr. Normal started to creep back into  my mind again.
I called when I should not have.  I was married.  It was wrong.
I called because he was nice to me.  Because he saw me.  Because I knew that deep down, in spite if the false bravado of the seduction and the crazed Adderall induced states from the summer, I knew that he cared for me.  I knew that he saw me.  I knew that he loved me.
I need to be honest here, because if I can't be honest here then where else is it going to happen?
I never could have left if I did not have Mr. Normal encouraging me.
It doesn't mean that I did not take care of my own fucking business once I left, because I did.
But, truth be told, Mr. Normal was the impetus to make the drastic change.
We fell in love quickly after that.  I considered moving in with him, even if it was just as rromates.
Thank the Universe that we finally came to our senses.
I fell out of love with him.
I grew to love him as a friend.  We share some great times together.  He is teaching me the meaning of mutual respect.
Do we still sleep together?  Yeah, sometimes.
Do I use his tub when I cannot stand the jenky showers at the Villa?  Yeah, sometimes.
But I have been growing.  As I learn to stand on my own two feet I realize that I do not need anyone to define me, or tell me who I am.
I'm busy, too!  I have my kids half of the time, and NOBODY gets in the way of that.  Good luck getting a return phone call on those days.
Mr. Normal does not mix with my kids.  My life, my decision.
Mr. Normal deserves a good life.  Mr. Normal deserves a good wife. 
What I know about myself these days is that I am not wife material, nor do I want to be.
My free spirit is calling me, and she's LOUD!
We had a come to Jesus talk the other day.  He told me that he was drawn to a few women at the bar, and I told him that I was drawn to this butch lesbian at church (I am not even joking.  I am seriously crushing hard on this woman, I don't know what to do...this is clearly a seperate post...k, bye).
The honesty that we shared was fucking phenomenal, honesty that I was never allowed in my marriage.
Although I feel a great deal of love for him, I know that I need to be single right now.  So I set him free.  Did it hurt?  Sure.  Did we have phenomenal sex after I set him free?
Come on.  I'm no fucking amatuer.
Mr. Normal and I will have what we have, until a third party comes along and says that "you cannot spoon and have sex occasionally with your best friend if you want me in your life."
That will be a sad day.
But I will understand.
And my free spirit will carry me ever onward.

Alpha Females

Oh, they have weaved in and out of my life, wicked step sister being my first experience with one.
The need to control, take charge, and claim credit for ideas that don't belong to them are known traits of the Alpha.
The need to spray my shoes and my spirit is so that I will know that they are in charge.
Oh yes, you are the boss, Alpha.  Look how under control everything is with your clenched fists and your pursed lips.
It's a good thing you are wearing those Manolos and carrying the Fendi.
We never would have known who you were unless you defined yourself by your fancy things.
Thank God you live between the gates so that I know how important you are.  You are so important.
Your milk toast husband knows, your brother and sisters who cower under your 'leadership' know.
You are so important.  You are the boss.
Every Alpha needs an Omega, and you have yours, she with the pinched frowny face and the shit talking garbage that spews from her mouth.
I understand how her husband might feel compelled to cheat on her.  I understand now.
She thinks you are so important.  so important.
I understand why you are the way you are, even if you don't.
I feel bad for the child that you were, who had anger management issues from the beginning.
I feel bad that you do unethical things in an effort to make yourself feel better.
I feel bad that in trying to be my mother, you never had a chance at coming even a tiny bit close to being the woman that she was.
You will never fill her shoes.  You will never replicate her legacy.  You will never be authentic, kind or true.
My mother's friends knew who you were years ago.
They still do.
So while you are playing Alpha, dear wicked step sister, please remember:
Some of us know you for who you really are.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Acts of Charity

In the latter years of my time with the "family" there was a charitable foundation set up in our names.
Each of us nine kids was allowed $1,000 to the charity of our choice.
In the weeks before Thanksgiving, we were given a very official form to fill out.
We gathered after the decadent dinner to have a board meeting to discuss how great we were. 
Oops, I mean our charitable acts.
Name of Charity, check.  I'm cool on that one.  Involvement with Charity: this was harder.  I mean, some of us had donated time to our children's schools, so that was a no brainer.  Others had an affliation to a particular religious group, I get that.  It was the outright lies of the others that made me snicker.
Look, driving through the drop off line to donate clothing from last season does NOT count as a charitable act, I don't care how slow you are going.  And that once a year "look how giving I am" stop at the food bank ain't gonna get you to Heaven.
What did I feel as I sat at that table?
Embarassed.  Completely and utterly embarassed at the pomposity of it all.
I played along.  Something didn't feel right, but I always played along.
There are family foundations in this valley that are doing phenomenal things for people on an hourly basis.  Somehow, despite the impressive size of their foundation, they always seemed more down to earth than our itty bitty look at me, look at me sessions.
And I can't help but wonder: if this shit wasn't tax deductible would we even be doing this?
I feel like an asshole calling us out on this shit, because $9,000 for charity is fucking $9,000 so why the hell am I being so petty about the means?
I understand what my mom and Puppetmaster were trying to do.  They were trying to instill the very thing I'm going to talk about next.
They tried.
On December 17th of last year I moved into a Domestic Violence Shelter.  They offered my little kids free toys for Christmas, courtesy of the generous volunteers from the YWCA.
I was grateful.
On December 18th, my sister invited Little Wise Woman and I to volunteer at Sacred Heart distributing toys to the needy.
I was grateful.
I was almost in tears the whole day because of this wonderful crazy parallel I was experiencing.
We had a good time.  Little Wise Woman asked if she could bring her friends next time.
My heart started to open just a little bit.
I had never felt particularly called to service in my previous life.  I was too busy worried about me.  Me Me Me.  I was so self involved I was getting tired of my self!
But I didn't know how to stop.  I tried to medicate with booze and baubles and bicycles and brownies.
They all worked for a time.
It was only in the process of writing this shit down have I finally been able to step outside of myself and CONSIDER what it would look like to be of service to others.
It's a simple formula.  I had to help myself before I could help others.
The world feels so beautiful to me now.  I am connected to humanity, open to recieve the gifts that life has to offer.
I stare into space for long periods of time and imagine: "What does service look like to me?"
Well, today it looked like going over to a friends house and talking her off the fence.  Yesterday it looked like letting my son put his head in my lap and watch TV way past his bedtime because I sensed he needed Mama time.  Tomorrow I will work on my Yoga for Trauma stuff for my women, my community.
I'm not great.  I'm not patting myself on the back saying look at me, look at me.
Rather, I am trying to explain that it was only when my heart opened up that my life took a dramatic turn.  Service came along with that heart opening.
I am not asking you to have a nervous breakdown, go to rehab, leave your husband, find yourself homeless and have an awakening.  That's my journey, it happened organically.  I never would have imagined the peace that it brought me, believe me.
What moves you?  Was it Howard Zinn how said the political is personal?
Service is personal, too.
What moves you?  What makes your heart hurt when you watch the news?  What do you have that you want to share with others?
I found out what moves me.  For me it was women and their children who were struggling in a system designed to keep them down.  For me it was mental illness and what I believe to be the root cause of most mental illnesses: trauma and PTSD.  For me it was the women and children I saw mirroring my own experiences.  Mirror, Mirror on the wall, I am egocentric after all.
I must be careful.  I am an addict at heart, and sometimes I can go down the rabbit hole with a new project.  I must remember that my kids come first.  I must remember that I come first.  I must not be a co dependent asshole, setting myself up to depend on the needs of other people.
It's a balance.  Always.  But after 28 days of Rehab, and 5 months in the poor house, and reconnection with my fellow humans, I have learned to check in with myself and be honest.  Just for today, at least.
I leave you with this question:
What moves you?
For me, the emotional component of that questions is what separates acts of charity from service.
Now get out there and change the world.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I was going to change your life!

Or at the very least, I was going to help lift you up.  How fucking presumptive of me
I like you lots and I love your babies like my own.  I give you rides places because I have a car and you take the bus and with the torn ligament and all, life pretty much sucks for you right now.
It wasn't any big deal to lend you my food stamps.
I have more than I need and you don't have enough so it ain't rocket science.
I know you would do the same for me.
I trusted you from the get go because while you were a mean bitch you had honor and integrity, and that goes a long way with me.
I keep thinking of me versus you.
Why do I have the car and you don't?
Why am I able to pursue my education and you can't?
And why were you raped for three years when you were a child and that man got 3 years, and I was raped once and that man got 40 years?
That one keeps me up at night.
You are black.  I am white.  Does that have something to do with it?
You were poor.  I was not.
Does that have something to do with it?
I think we both know the answers.
I saw you last night and you were stressed out.  You never get a break from your kids.  Someone is constantly hanging on you, needing you, crying at you.
When my kids were born my mother pulled me aside and informed me that she would be paying for a babysitter 2 days a week so that I could have some "me" time.
Those days are gone, but still....
Your mother stayed with a man because he was her pusher, regardless of what he was doing to ruin you.
Granted, my mother sold me out for a man as well, but it was hardly the same.
You never get a break.
You work, you take the bus home, you bathe your kids, you put them to bed...All day, every day.
Then you get high.
You cannot fool a fellow addict, my dear.
When I saw you in the bathroom late last night you couldn't stand up, your eyes were bloodshot and you were weaving back and forth.
We went in separate directions after we said goodbye and I turned around to watch you stumble aimlessly towards your room.
What can I possibly say?
That I would never do something like that?
I have.
That I'm going to narc on you?
I won't.
Instead I am avoiding you because I don't want you to lie to my face.
I am avoiding you because I see that your pain goes so much deeper than I can know, and I don't know what to do.
I don't know what to do.  I don't know what to do.
We read the same books.
We raise our kids in a similar fashion.
We both loved men who hurt us.
Why am I here full of hope for the future and you are here numbing your feelings?
I don't know how to help you without being a complete co-dependent asshole who would get stepped all over from the likes of a smart woman like you. I don't know how to reach out to you without coming across as a  patronizing fool.
I don't know if you want help, or if you recognize what you are doing, and why you are doing it.
The only reason that I know is because I've been paying a therapist $165 an hour to tell me that that's what I was doing.  You are intuitive, inquisitive and wise.  But you didn't have the resources that I did.
We are the same, baby girl.  The same.
So how come you got the short end of the stick?
And how am I going to fix this and make it fair?
I don't have the answers.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Broken and Blessed #2: Aneesha

Aneesha is beautiful.
 
Coffee with cream colored flawless skin.

Hazel eyes that have seen too much.

A beautiful smile, a charitble contribution from a dentist on the east side.

Her teeth knocked out by her man, confidence gone in a split second.

$31,000 worth of dental work.  God Bless that man.

Her body is big, a powerhouse.  It houses her spirit, 500 billion times bigger than that.

Two kids. Sweet babies that I love, whose heads I secretly smelled today because I miss that baby/puppy's breath smell.  Innocents.

Job at Kohl's.  Takes the bus.

No car.  Lost her shit in storage becuase she couldn't pay the bill.

Baby pictures left behind at the scene of the crime.

Her life contained in an 8x10 room.

Daddy not present, no support system. 

1 class away from her AA in psychology.

Livin' the nightmare.  Livin' the nightmare.

We talk books and movies, we talk shit.  We talk about violence.

Aneesha was raped from the age of 5 until the age of 8 by her mother's husband.

Her disassociated self repeated the story all robot like.

I get it.  I do the same thing with my story.

My eyes well up, I cannot comprehend.  I cannot handle the story.

She is my friend.  She is a bad ass. 

I am crying for that little girl that she used to be.

Her childhood was taken away from her, she did what we all did to forget.

She drank, she drugged.  She went crazy.  She got herself a man that was sure to abuse, just like her mama.

Mental Illness.  Addiction.  Abuse.

All the things that make welfare mamas unmarketable to the mainstream.

I ask you all to consider that perhaps the Trauma and the PTSD from childhood begets all of the other stuff.

Elika and I are bringing Yoga to the shelter.

It sounds silly, doesn't it?  Yoga.  Where is my granola, where is my patchouli?

But Lenny told me that the Defense Department is the largest grant giver for the studies that show Yoga can help reduce PTSD.  Yoga can help reduce the effects of Trauma.

15 women signed up last week.

Aneesha and I are going to the mat, along with all my other soul sisters.

We'll see what happens.

So far Aneesha is my favorite new friend.

But I can't tell her.

She might kick my ass.




What did you expect?

I suppose he thought that we would always take it lying down.
We were my Mom's kids, being whispered about in small circles at the Italian Gardens, the popular party place in the 70's and 80's. They don't stand a chance.  It's because of their father.  You know, he's not right in the head."
The story laid out quite nicely, don't you think?
We weren't right.  There was something wrong with us.
Meanwhile, all 9 of us  kids got into trouble.  All 9 of us had issues.
Wicked Step Sister had major inner child issues, the anger at her mother palpable from afar.  The rage she carries vibrates from her very being.
Puppet Master's only son?
Insecure.  Mean.  " I'm not enough, I will never be enough"  sitting at his shoulder, steering him through his blue collar existence.
They were his pride and joy, as the children of narcissists usually are.
All children are a parent's pride and joy.
What I mean to say is I believe he considered his children to be extensions of him.  They were great because HE was great.
Duh.
My brothers and sister and I were troubled.
PuppetMaster called me delusional at one time, having grandiose thoughts the next.
I was telling me him that I believed I could handle a leadership role at the family business.
Crazy.  There was something wrong with me.
One Christmas we recieved a very fancy book.  It was red, maybe 200 pages.  On the front was this title "The Duped and the Dupee."
It was Puppet Master's thesis on a Machiavellian Theory.
Thanks alot.  I would have preferred a journal with blank pages so I could start writing this shit down, but whatever.
Here's the thesis in one sentence, red headed stepchild style:

You are either gonna get fucked over or be the one fucking someone over, so you may as well be the one fucking someone over.

200 pages.
On fucking people over.
By the man that I spent my childhood with.
I don't want to say thank you for the gift as much as I want to say thank you for the insight into your head.  It was like getting a playbook from the other team.
I am not a good chess player, nor do I have a poker face.
I wear my emotions on the outside.  An open book, take it or leave it.
I used to take it lying down.  I wasn't strong enough or insightful enough  to see that it was the family system that was crazy, not me.
I'm stronger now.  I'm saner now.  Things are looking pretty clear from here.

What's more, I have realized that while I am not a good chess player, I am a story teller.

So if I indeed was the duped (and I believe I was), I am the duped with a knack for keepin it real.  And I intend to keep it real.  Trust.

What did you expect, that I would take every douche bag thing that you did and never tell?

I am a red headed step child.  I am a story teller.  I am telling it.
Who's the duped now?





Friday, April 20, 2012

Regarding my daughter...

Little Wise Woman knows.
It's a gift.  14 years old and calling it like she sees it, which is right most all of the time.
I admire her for her intuitive self, and I love her for her heart.
It's been almost two years now.
Two years since she left.  Two years since that awful night when she became a grown up prematurely and told me "Mom, I'm done."
She knows herself.  She knows what she can handle and what she can't.
I never had that gage.
And I had nowhere to go when the shit hit the fan when I was her age.
Nowhere to go.
She doesn't trust me.
Hell, would you?
Leaving an abusive relationship, going back, leaving, going back.
Swearing it was going to get better when Little Wise Woman knew better.
Raging at her in an Adderall trance, screaming at her for the most inane things.
She doesn't trust me.
Fuck.
Would you?
She doesn't live with me.  She is being raised by her father and his girlfriend.
I am grateful that she had somewhere to go.
I did not.
They have opinions about me.  They have opinions about lots of things.
Their opinions hang in the air as my daughter encourages me.
Write, Mom.
Write.
I'm proud of you Mom.
I'm happy for you, Mom.
Yes.
People  disagree with my honesty.  It is not good for her.
When you have a child, let me know.  When you are in the bowels of a deep clinical depression, let me know.  When you have nothing left except the will to live, let me know.  When you have given up everything, even your child, sit in that space and feel that guilt.
Until then, you must know.
Little Wise Woman knows.
And so do I.
Every day I become a better mother.
I was a shitty one before.
I am still not safe from the shame I feel for the past.
I guess that comes with time.
She is my daughter.  She feels it in her heart and so do I.
We don't live together in the conventional sense.
But she is with me, always.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Broken and Blessed #1 : Saudia

Saudia is a big ol' chubby black lady from Louisiana.

She wears glasses and has this beautiful gap in her teeth that makes her look like Lauren Hutton to me.

They are part of a smile that says "I'm Blessed", all day, every day.

Saudia was a crackhead.  She lost her job, her husband, her kids, her family, and when she had nothing left she got clean and said "Well, ain't nothing left for me in Louisiana".  She packed her bags and took the Greyhound to San Jose.

She got her on May 3rd of last year.  On May 4th she started looking for a job.  No car, not much money, didn't know the city or anybody in the city...but she knew she wanted to get work.

She landed a job as a home health care aide for a private company.

A few weeks in the family she was assigned to loved her so much they hired her on as full time help.
She lives there 5 days a week.  The other two finds her here, at InnVision Villa.

Her energy was open from the moment I met her a few days ago.
She talks that Southern talk that makes me want to crawl in her lap and get rocked.

I saw her today.  I was glad to see her.  She was flustered and in a rush.  Her sister in New Orleans was in the final battle of the war with AIDS, and the doctors told her she had but a few days left.

She was waiting for a cab, but I told her nonsense, and she eagerly took a ride from me.

She said "I want to give you gas money."
 I said "Hell No!."  She said "Don't fuck with me, White Girl", and the tone was set:
She was the boss, and I accepted the 20 she left in my console.

She told me that she was blessed.  That's why she gave me the money.  She was blessed, and she wanted to share it.

I got lost on the way to the airport, and we laughed.  Maybe I got lost on purpose.

She told me that she don't need no man, she's got a drawer at the shelter with all sorts of toys.

I howled.

She bragged about her sons and her grandbabies who she would be seeing on this unfortunate trip back home.

Once the older one got off the weed, he starting doing fine, great even.

I told her about addiction, mental illness, abuse, all the stuff that I put behind my name, and she said me too, me too, me too.

I made her take my number and told her to call me when she needed a ride back.

We didn't hug or anything.

But driving back home I sure felt happy.

She works.  She pays taxes.  She laughs.  She cries.  She brags about her grandchildren.  She gets off .  She struggled.  She overcame.  She is blessed.

Couldn't this be anybody's story?

She and I share "the leap of faith" thing that I talk about.  The leap of faith that was so fucking scary.
But here we are:
Broken and Blessed.

I made a new friend.

Her name is Saudia, and if I start talking like a ol' southern mama from a po dunk town in Louisiana, you can be pretty sure I got it from her.

I hope her sister has a peaceful passage.

I hope she enjoys the time with her children.

I hope she knows how happy her spirit made me today.

Good Night.



Monday, April 16, 2012

I should be grateful



*this is not fact.  this is called memory.  memory can be hazy at times.  everyone has their own experience.  this is my recollection of mine.



Yes.

I should be grateful.
I had a good life, some may say I was spoiled at times.
I was living large, in decadent houses, going on shopping binges with my mom, going on food binges with my mom...I should be grateful.
I watched my mother get assaulted by an out of control step sister.
I should be grateful.
I was the serf in the hierarchy at the dinner table,  I should be grateful.
I was privy to the name calling and the rage behind closed doors.
I should be grateful.

I was told that reality was one thing when it really was not, I should be grateful.

I borrowed $3,000 last year from Puppet Master to keep Little Wise Woman in private school.
I should be grateful.

I asked to borrow $10,000 to fight wounded man for the custody of my kids.
He said no.
I should be grateful.

I should be grateful for my life.
I should be grateful and I should not rock the boat and I should accept the scraps that come my way.

I should be grateful that the list of my mother's jewelry to be given out that my mother painstakingly put together on her death bed was 'lost', and I should be grateful for the rolled up paper bag of possessions that meant nothing to me.

I should be grateful that he blamed the business loss on my ex- husband, inflated the loss to double of what it actually was so he could write it off, and then let it spread through the family that the reason the estate had lost so much was because of Wounded Man and I's terrible decision making.

I should be grateful that he found ways to pay off his son through the project(who incidentally did nothing ), but insisted on raising the price of my home $200,000.

I should be grateful.

I should be grateful that three months after my mom died he booked a trip somewhere through a website called 'honeymoon destinations'.

I should be grateful.
I should be grateful that the one thing I asked for of my mother's possessions was not only not given to me, but put up for consignment at a local shop, for me to discover.  I should be grateful that I was able to purchase that item.
I should be grateful.

What I am grateful for:  that he did not loan me the $10,000.  I found my own way.
I am grateful for the $3,000.  I will pay it back someday.  I am grateful for the education, the trips to Europe, the books that I saw on the bookshelf.

I am grateful for my mom dying.

I miss her.  I ache for her.
But it was in her death that set me free from this system that we called a family.
In her death I have been able to rediscover my brothers and sister.  We tended to get lost in the whole alpha family feel that was my step brother and sisters.
He never claimed me as his child.
That's what hurt the most.
His behaviors seem sociopathic to me now.
After my mom died, his behavior seemed to get worse: less ethical, even.
With wicked step sister whispering in his ear, whom I believe to have no conscience at all, morality and fairness went out the window.
Well, they say.  It would have been the same if our Dad had died and your mom was left living.
No.
It would not have.
My mother had a conscience.  She would not go about forming LLC's in her children's names in order to protect the money.  She would not have.  She may have gone shopping at Chico's a few too many times, but that would have been the extent of it.
This was and always has been a system of the real kids and the step kids.
and you can probably guess which one I was.
I speak of this because nobody else will, and I'm tired of the false reality.
We were not the Brady Bunch.

What would my mother say?

Tisk, Tisk, Tisk.  What would my mother say, say the imaginary biddies in my head.

Well, first of, my mom's dead.
Secondly, I think she would be the last person I would take advice from, considering the choices that she made in her life, regarding relationships at least.
Lastly, if I was living my truth, and I was truly happy?
She would say "Good for you, Red Headed Step Child.  Good for you."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The War on Women


A few months back when I first found myself here at the intersection of surrender and faith I had a conversation with my step-father about my new life.
For those of you who don't want to read the previous 40 posts, allow me to quickly catch you up.
I left a crazy, co-abusive mess of a marriage in December.  I stayed in a Domestic Violence shelter for a month where I learned how to navigate the system as a broke ass welfare mama.  From there I moved into what's called a transitional housing unit, where I live in a room with two of my three children while I try to finish school, raise my children, and wait for wounded man to be court ordered to pay me spousal and child support.
What I have experienced in the past three or four months has been nothing short of miraculous, taking me to a whole new thought process that I'd never been to before.
Quite frankly, I'm loving my life.
Anyway, after hearing my story, my step father said this to me:
"Just remember, Katie.


You want to be the oppressor, not the oppressed."

Wow.  Really?


He wasn't kidding.  I know the man.  Like it or not, he raised me.  I spent more time with him on a day to day basis than any of his children did.  I theorize that he used the works of Machiavelli to raise us, and 'strife among the masses' appeared to be lesson number one in a blended family of nine children.
I get it.  I get him.  He's a smart man.  Like Oz was.  Great and powerful.  That's assuming you remember who Oz turned out to be.

Still, that sentence continues to march through my head as I watch what's on the news and I study the sociological problems of our society and I come to understand, on a very personal level, what it means to have a war waged against you.  The sentence lingers as I realize what it truly means to be oppressed.

In claiming poverty, I must confess: I am not like the other women that live here.  I have a huge advantage over them.  Because I was raised as an upper class white female, I can navigate a world they don't know how to navigate.  I still have a social network that consists of other upper class white folk

While 'Yo' remains my favorite word, I know when to shelve it.

Because of my social network, I am not that oppressed.

I recognize the irony.  I was brought up on trips to Europe, theater, private school and the like not only by my mother, but by my stepfather as well.  The gift of class was given to me by him.  And by class I mean it in the social stratification sense.

He sits on lots of boards.  I'm sure he donates loads of money too, like many in his position. My parent's cohort's names dot the landscape of this new life: the dining room of my house, the second floor of the library, the list goes on.  It is strange to see a name on the wall and remember when you played with their children.  They all care.  I know they do.  I think they are insulated.

My intent is not to bash the man, but to question the system.

Why is it okay to have the oppressor and the oppressed in the first place?

I'm not proposing Socialism.  Rather, I'm asking that we all take a look at what poverty really looks like.

What I have seen with my own eyes:
 Getting off work at 11 at night from Target and picking up your kids from "night" care at that hour, having to wake them up when you pick them up.
Watering down the milk for the breakfast cereal.
Stealing from each other.
An unspoken current of rage from the powerlessness that gets taken out on the children, thus assuring that the cycle continues.

Addiction.  Abuse.  Mental Illness.  Par for the course when you live here.

I have experienced  all of those things.  I am one of these women, and yet, I am not.

They are my sisters, and yet I remain on the outside, conducting an informal sociological study on them, observing their daily lives without judgement.  Sometimes it comes in and I have to beat it back.

This post isn't about me, or my process.

I am living a Pollyana existence knowing that I will find my way out.

I made choices in my life that led me here.  It is what it is.  I have no regrets, only gratefulness.

My fellow welfare mamas don't have the luxury to be grateful for being poor and oppressed.
It's what they know.  It's all they know.  There's not much to be hopeful for in this world of theirs.

The air here smells like defeat.  It is necessary to draw an imaginary box around myself so as not to get depressed or sucked into the vortex of hopelessness.  How can I pull them out rather than get sucked in?

Being that nothing is black and white, I was also introduced to St. Francis of Assisi by my stepfather.
St. Francis has always been my favorite saint, having given up a life of riches for poverty.
Pound for pound, nobody gets more Christ Like than him.
He wrote this:
Make me a channel of your peace:
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope,

Where there is darkness, only light,

And where there's sadness, ever joy.


We need to help these women.

It is my mission in life to figure out how.

I never thought I could change the world.  But now that I'm here, I know I've got to try.




Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making fun of people is fun

For awhile at least.
I'm pretty good at it too, with this vitrol I got brewing inside of me.
I can slice and dice most folks, and get in and out before they even know what hit them.
I get kind of high from it, a manic-y physiological thump thump tump high in my chest.
I'm a bitch.  I'm a mean, funny bitch.
But, as with any high, coming down doesn't feel so hot.
Guilt and shame make for a disgusting cocktail of self loathing.
And I realize that this whole making fun of people is all about projection, thank you very much.
I pose this question to myself:
What the hell is going on in YOUR life that you feel the need to make others feel small?
Well, duh.
I mean, haven't we gone over this a thousand times?
Read the previous 40 entries of this blog, I don't want to talk about anymore.
Okay, I lied, I really do.
Because I find myself fascinating the way a train wreck is fascinating.
And admit it: You can't look away either.
But if making fun of other people is no longer fun, I have a solution.
I'd like to propose making fun of myself.
Making fun of myself feels good.  I make fun of myself because somebody neds to knock me off my self righteous throne every one in a while, and really: who better than me?
Retrospect is a fucking gift.
Sometimes it is a 20 year thing, today is was a 24 hour thing.
Yesterday at this time I was in this terrible space in my head, spewing about my human sexuality teacher, rolling my eyes about having to learn about the proletariat and the bourgeosis AGAIN in social problems, oh my God, I was so above it all.  I mean, really.  These dumb kids and this lame professor.
What do they say about the finger pointing?  They say something about 4 fingers pointing back at YOU, in this case ME.
So maybe I should take responsibility for the fact that I'm 41 and still in Junior College, riiight?
And maybe I could actually get something out of it if I turned around and started talking to my classsmates.  Dang, I just called myself out.  That felt way better than making fun of THEM.
There was a meeting at the shelter the other night.  This lady gets up and starts to talk about how LUCKY we are to be there.  It's difficult to take her seriously when I am coveting her boots that I saw at Nordstrom the other day, the boots that cost three times my rent.  I am bitter.  Bitter and jealous, let's face it.
A boy from the local private high school comes and starts talking up the carnival that his school will be providing for us.  I, in my dark 'fuck you' space, am thinking "Well, schucks, kid.  Thanks for the token gesture and everything, but how about we sell your BMW and I pocket half?"
THAT is a charitable fucking contribution.
But really, who am I pissed off at?
I'm pissed at a system that devalues poor women and children.  I'm pissed that I'm embarrassed.  I'm pissed at myself.  But this poor Bellarmine boy?  He's doing the right thing, poor thing.
He had no idea he would face such a tough audience.

I am in a really interesting position that not a lot of people will ever find themselves in.  Most of the time I am grateful to God, Universe, Baby Jee Jee, whomever...for the experience.
But sometimes being poor sucks.  Being an old student sucks.  Being me sucks.
Perspective is a gift.
So today, instead of ferociously tearing down others, I gently tease myself.
It feels way better, believe me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Something is off.

I know it.
It's not a catastrophic 'send that bitch to rehab' off.
Rather, it's a slow hiss: barely noticeable.
But I feel it.  I feel it in my hesitation to write anything controversial or true because I know that my audience has grown to include those that I would be speaking of.
I feel it in my irrational fear that Wounded Man is watching, ready to pounce and try to take my children away from me.
What is this I feel?
I could drink to mask it.  I could fuck to mask it.  I could (insert addiction/compulsion here) to mask it.
Instead I ask myself:
What are you feeling, Red Headed Step Child?
Shame.
I am projecting the Shame that I have felt from the messages I received from Wounded Man, Puppet Master, Wicked Step Sister, my own Dear Mother, MYSELF...
that I really am not okay.
Inappropriate.
Too Much.
Fucking Katie.
Insert head shaking here.
Do you know that I have lived my whole life trying to be something that I am not?
Do you know what the cost of doing that was?
It almost cost me my life.
I died a little, day by day, until finally I could not pretend anymore and I cracked.
I went to Tennessee for those 28 days and I woke up at 4 each morning to go sit on the porch by myself.  I stared at some stars.  I watched some skunks go by.  And I deduced that I was 41 years old and had never lived my life on my own terms.  I was 41 years old and I didn't know who I was. I didn't know how to stand in my own shoes.
I was so busy trying to fit into the mold of what other people wanted me to be.  Or rather, what I THOUGHT other people wanted me to be.
So here I am again.
Relapsing in my thought process, I guess.
No one is shaming me now except me.
I know that the cast of characters that made up my life are reading.
That's their prerogative. (Don't use the Bobby Brown voice here...not the time)
They are not the cause of this feeling.
It is me that is responsible for the Shame.
Storm Large was introduced to me by a man and woman who saw me when I could not see myself.  They sent me to YouTube to watch the video of her song called "My vagina is 8 miles wide".
I can't make shit like this up.
Anyway, one of the lyrics goes " Maybe it's not that I'm too much, maybe it's just you're not enough for me, can't you see, I'm the kind of woman I'm supposed to be."
I sang that song to my young ones in Rehab.
I guess I forgot to keep singing it to myself.
I'm done with the Shaming.
Self Imposed or not.  I'm done.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Don't show up to the homeless shelter wearing the Burberry Scarf

Seriously, it's not a good idea.
 I don't care if you inherited it from your mother and are about 33% sure that it's fake.
That plaid pattern is uber recognizable now, even to other homeless chicks.
Combine that with the fact that you just pulled up in a Lexus, and you can see where the other ladies might get the wrong idea about you.
They don't care that the Lexus is 10 years old, or that it hasn't been registered since October and every time you and the kids see a police officer behind you you all chant "cop cop go away bust someone else on this fine day", or that it's not insured.
They just see that Lexus.
You probably shouldn't be super friendly, either.
Remember how Rehab was all "peace, love, I love my fellow addicts", and shit?
You and your addict friends were all kumbaya about it because all you had to worry about was your sobriety, having been sent there by someone who had enough resources to cough up $20 grand.
It's not like that here. These women are surviving.  Day to Day. With grace and dignity.  And a stoicism not even my bad ass grandfather could pull off.
So when you act all chipper like Julie from the Love Boat and ask someone "What's your back story?" don't be surprised when that woman says "My back story is MIND YOUR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS."
She is trying to survive.  And your Burberry wearing Lexus driving well meaning ass is not to be trusted.  Or bothered with.
When the volunteers come on the weekends with their paint brushes and flower pots and camp fire songs, don't be too hard on them.  It makes them feel good to help your down and out ass.
Don't bother telling them that the two toilets are broken upstairs, or that the computer from 1983 is nice and all but...or that locks on the kitchen cabinets would be nice so your food wouldn't get stolen so often.
They have a plan that they want to execute, and it really doesn't have anything to do with you or your needs.
You are there esoterically, not tangibly.  You are there to fufill the service hours, although you would kill to read the paper that kid writes about what a great experience it was helping those less fortunate.
When you see a girl volunteering wearing the same private school skirt as your daughter, do not strike up a conversation with her mother about how your daughter attends the same school.
It will render the mother speechless, she will try to maintain her composure but both you and she know that "but for the grace of God there go I" is running through that bitch's head, which will feel slightly patronizing.
And then you will want to slap her in the face, or at the very least go key her car.
What good would that do ?  Except satisfy the shit out of you, but seriously, you could get arrested and THAT would be embarrassing.  (although your street cred among the other women would go up...)
You will learn to like it here.
And even if the women don't open up to your cruise director self, once they hear your story they will realize that you are one of them.
And when one of your new friends tells you that your maybe fake maybe real Burberry scarf is bomb, take it off of your neck and give it to her.  She rocks it way better than you ever did, anyway.

Monday, April 2, 2012

You're killin' me, Willow Glen E-List


I have spent a large part of my life in Willow Glen, a charming neighborhood in San Jose for those of you reading from far away.
 I went to high school there.  Then I dropped out of high school there. 
I learned the fine art of business ownership under the tutelage of my mother and sister along Lincoln Avenue.
Later, as a bonafide grown up, I built several homes with my then husband, who is a contractor.  There is a street in Willow Glen that is named after one of my children.
I give you the back story of the relationship between this town and I so that you know that I am not talking out of my ass.
I know WG.
WG knows me.
I can't remember when the E-List started.  I know the people that started it as acquaintances, and I have a great deal of respect for them.
 I could NEVER sift through the bullshit that they sift through.
The E-List is described as the "electronic equivalent of talking over the fence" in a ploy to mask it as just another benefit to living in a charming neighborhood.  I believe that membership sits at around 3,000.
Sometimes, it is actually like that.
Recommendations for painters, builders, karate schools, you name it, there's a recommendation for it.
I find this invaluable.  A true gem, and something that Los Gatos did not have.  I actually missed the E-List when I moved to Los Gatos.
Neighbors being neighborly.  Aw schucks, aren't we a great little community.
And Yet...
I feel there is a "type" that is ruining the E-List.
The self righteous indignant hates to be called out on their shit type.
Do I sound bitter?
I am.
I've just had a public encounter with a woman who initially posted about terrible neighbors.  In her post, she wanted to know how she could find out if they were Section 8.  She also very clearly said they were not "typical" Willow Glen people.
Now what the fuck does that mean?
Seriously.  Nimby.  Nimby. Nimby.
So I called her out.
In Public.
On the E-List.
I told her that her post reeked of classism, and that I would appreciate it if she were more careful with her words.
Someone else stepped in and told me that I shouldn't accuse people of being racist.  Then she goes into a huge fucking soliloquy about being racist.
Uh.
I never used that word.  Never. 
It was Classist, second self righteous biddy, who no doubt is besties with first self righteous biddy.
I get an email from the moderator.
I am requested to cease and desist.
Seriously?
 I'm now being entertained by not only the indignant self righteousness, but by the sheer stupidity of the whole thing.
Why stop now?
I'm about to get Ageist here, and I can.  One of my best friends is 70 years old, and this is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want.
I have a theory that there are about 40 retired old people who have nothing better to do that sit on the computer all day long and wait to have their moment of glory on the E-List.
Last night, it was DD's turn.
I know this lady.  I know who she is, and where she lives, and how she wears her hair.  San Jose remains a small town to me, and I pay attention.
When she kicks out those terrible, non complying non Willow Glen  people ( Lady...just say poor trash and get it over with), I swear to God I am going to move in.
I am that immature.
And PS...I'm on the Section 8 Waiting List...
So There!


Wounded Man, I miss you.

It's true.
I'll be going about my day, happy as a clam, and then I'll want to call you.
Today it happened because our son was a total bad ass at the doctor's office.
He received 4 shots in a row and he didn't even flinch!  I wanted to call you because you're his Dad and I'm his Mom and who else is going to care about this kind of shit but you and me?

G. has been funny as all get up lately, have you noticed?  She told me this morning to "shut the hole where the words come out.  I guffawed first, because that's damn funny!
Then I told her that was not the correct way to speak to her mother.

I am grieving you today, Wounded Man.
I am grieving for our marriage that should have never been.
I am grieving for our children who should have had stability in their lives.
I am grieving for me.
This grief is as palpable as the dirt under our children's fingernails, the inexplicable chemistry that we shared halfway through the marriage, and the anger that I feel from you across the universe (from Los Gatos to Downtown SJ, at least)


You wronged me.
I wronged you.

Two people with unresolved childhood issues that never stood a chance of working out a healthy relationship together.

And now, two children left to cope in the bombed out remains of our shared past.

We must fix this.  Not today.  Not tomorrow, but soon.

They deserve to have both of us show up to an event, at the very least.
At the very most, they deserve to not be caught in our crossfire.

I'm happy now.  Working some shit out, mostly in public as you can deduce.
I hear you are happy too.  I'm glad.

I know that we are better off without each other.  We were terrible together, a co-addicted mess of emotions that ran hot and cold.

I don't miss that part.

I'm glad to be back to feeling like myself again. 
Retrospect makes things a little clearer, and I want you to know that I forgive you.

I forgive you.
You are the father of my children.
I forgive you.
We shared 10 years together.
I forgive you.
You loved me through my mother's death, our babies' births, my nervous breakdown.
I forgive you.

I'm sorry that when I came to you I had no identity of my own and behaved like I thought you would want me to behave.
I'm sorry.
It was soul sucking, but it wasn't your fault.
I'm sorry that I had a full on Cinderella Complex and thought that I should be taken care of.  You saw that before I did, and I denied it to the end, but you were right.
I'm sorry.
I'm sorry that you always had to clean up after me...parking tickets, dishes, and the like.
I'm sorry that I couldn't love you the way that you needed to be loved.

I have written plenty of things in my life.

This is by far the hardest thing I have ever written.

I just wanted you to know that I forgive you. 
 I hope that someday you will forgive me.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Why is she DOING this?"

I started this blog back up a month ago.  When I was writing in 2010 and 2011 about leaving my husband (Seriously...how many fucking blog posts can a girl devote to the cause.  Enough, already!)  my blog was private, with about three people following me. 
When I rebooted myself, I decided to go public, warts and all.  In part the decision was based on all of the positive feedback I had been getting from these loooong ass FaceBook posts I had been posting about being on welfare, calling out my ex husband for not paying child support, and other uncomfortable topics that you don't normally see on FaceBook.  People that I had not seen or heard from in years connected with me, and with my story. 
One night, in the middle of the night, I recieved a message from an old friend: "You have mad story telling skills.  You should go public."  Ok, maybe she didn't quite say it like that, but the message to me was loud and clear:
"Katie.  Tell it."
So I began.  I began with 'Why I went to Rehab', and posted it on Facebook.  By the end of the day 300 people had looked at it.
I continued spilling my guts with 'This is what Domestic Violence looked like to me", and the hits grew to 1,000 in two short days.
It was exhilirating, and I was virtually in tears for days.  Tears becasue I was being my true, authentic self, and people were listening.
I was becoming bold, and I was becoming empowered.  I told of being raped in "I was a Teenage Slut",  and threw a few more funny ones in for good measure.
By mid month my numbers had climbed to 5,000 hits.  But more importantly, I was recieving messages.  Sometimes 4 or 5 a day.  Messages that said "Thank You for telling my story. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone" 
I was being told that I mattered, that I had a voice and that my voice wasn't crazy, and that I WAS NOT ALONE.
I started fielding calls from people that were interested in developing this further, I was having concept lunches with creative types, I was happy.
In fact, I have never felt so happy in my life.
I hadn't channeled my creativity in so long, I was doubtful that it was still there.  Combine that with the whole connected to humanity bit and you get one deeply soul satisfied red headed step child.
Naysayers. 
I could name a few. 
I knew there were people who were incredibly angry with me and weren't capable of being happy for me.  I knew I was being judged by one person in particular.  She judges the shit out of everybody.  I knew I was not immune. 
My sister and my brother.  Incredibly supportive of me.  Do they agree with this emotional barfing?  Not so much.
What I didn't realize until a few days ago is that all the popel who adore me and this blog are ultra vocal.  And all of the people who don't adore this blog are not.
Not to me, anyway.
They are vocal to other people.  As in "Can you BELIEVE what she wrote?  WHY IS SHE DOING THIS?"
I was silly and shortsighted, I guess. 
Because I was showered in the good vibes, and not even considering that I would be fodder for gossip.

It hurt my feelings.  It made me feel small.  I wanted to quit.  I considered it.

I got mad and fired off a juicy angry rant to the lurkers, the gossips, the haters.

I realized that I cannot come from a place of anger, because that feels terrible to ME, not them.

I called some friends whose opinions matter to me, friends that I trust with this sensitive heart.
They helped me to see that standing up for what you believe in isn't easy.  It's not designed to be. 
Do you think ir was easy writing about the things I write about?
It wasn't.
It was scary as all get up.  Buy I took a chance, because I was standing up for myself, for the first time EVER.
I was standing up for myself.
My hits are at 10,000 now.  I can deduce that half of you love what I am doing, and half of you don't.  Thats great for those that dig me, and ok for those that don't.
I want to remind both sides that I started this blog as a way to perform some creative therapy on myself.  It wasn't for fans, and it wasn't for haters. 
It was for me.
Still is, as a matter of fact.
And that's why I ain't quitting.
It's all about MY narcissistic ass, thank you very much.
(But seriously, thanks for reading!)