Like the Bird on the Wire
Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free
Leonard Cohen, "Bird on the Wire"
I see that it has been almost a full week since I posted anything. Bless me, father, for I have sinned? It feels like that -- like the beginning of a confession.
Of course, we don't owe each other an explanation. Sometimes, we might want to unplug for a while. A vacation from electronic life can be healthy. Also, real life gets in the way sometimes.
In my case, for the past couple of weeks, I have had to do most of my writing on my phone (a bit awkward). However, it's also, well, it's been shitty as hell and I felt like I wrote enough posts about how shitty things felt.
I didn't want to completely alienate all of you (not ALL).
Why Do We Write About Ourselves?
When I write personal experience, I try to write it in such a way that it is not just a cathartic release for me. Instead, I would like people who read it to get something useful from it.
Sometimes I struggle to find the "useful" part of my own articles. However, reading other people's essays and articles is very educational because I learn that, often, the best part of what a writer has to offer is their unique perspective or viewpoint.
Why Do We Read About Others?
Each person has a unique experience of life and a way of describing it that is theirs alone. This is one of the things I enjoy the most about the Hive.
The types of articles I enjoy might be totally different from what you like. I like to hear what is going on in people's minds and their lives. I like to know their struggles and fears. I also am fascinated by the ways people live.
My Canadian life seems boring to me, but when I hear from my Hive friends and they show the landscape and the markets where they live, I find it fascinating. I am also really intrigued by people's daily concerns.
For example, @fermentedphil wrote about his palm leaf problem a while ago, and more recently about the birds eating his figs. Since palm leaves and figs are highly exotic to me, I simultaneously felt empathy for his plight and fascination. Similarly, I was intrigued when @xplosive talked about rescuing his Harris hawk, which is a legal pet in Hungary, and nursing it back to health.
Does Anyone Want to Hear It?
As a sensitive person, I sometimes think, "Okay, Harlow, things suck, but no one needs to hear about it." However, I think we need to focus more on the stories (fiction and non-fiction) that we feel a need to tell and less on the audience.
What? But the Audience...
If I totally didn't care about the audience, I would just write in my Cambridge hard-backed notebook and never actually publish anything. Nonetheless, when we write our audience too much in mind, I think we tend towards self-censorship.
It might not always be obvious, but I am careful how I handle certain topics, especially on Hive. I am aware that, first, my words have a tendency to be read more carefully here. That is an honour, but also a responsibility. I am not alone in this by the way. There are a lot of avid readers on the Hive and it is surprising how in depth the reading and comments can be.
One example is that I have a lot of problems. I don't always discuss them in detail because why focus on the problems all the time. It can be frustrating. However, another issue I am acutely aware of when I discuss my problems is that many other people, many of whom are so kindly reading my work, have far, far worse concerns.
Some of your problems make my problems look like a happy little walk in the park. I am often painfully aware of this as I write about my life. Part of me is grateful and recognizes the many good fortunes that have smiled on me and continue to smile on me. I am aware and very grateful.
After struggling for about 20 years, several of my friends urged me to go on disability because I have a few disabilities. However, it is hard for me to even admit these now.
It is Hard to Admit That I am Disabled
I come from a long line of people who are "high functioning." That means disabled enough to suffer terribly, but well enough to struggle through some kind of full time employment.
It fell apart for me. I got burnt out. Part of that was due to poor life choices and part was due to my daughter having borderline personality disorder (BPD) (undiagnosed) and bipolar II (also undiagnosed, despite my best efforts). She is an adult now. My mother also had BPD.
Going Off on a Tangent about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
My Adult Daughter Has It; My Mother Had It
Have you ever dealt with someone who has
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? I have a profound amount of compassion and empathy for people with this. Marsha Linehan, who invented the only good treatment for it, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) famously likened people with BPD to emotional third degree burn victims. It is true hell for them.
That being said, it can also be hell to be around them. They tend to be very hard to get along with. Many therapists cannot or will not work with them. That is unfair in my opinion.
We were "warned" about people with BPD when I worked on the Suicide hotline. Why? They tend to be manipulative and to "use" claims of suicidality to manipulate people.
I told the trainer that I thought this was an unfair depiction. People with BPD often feel sad, abandoned, mistreated, and alone. They often feel they do not deserve to live and that life is unbearably painful.
So, yes, they can be manipulative, but it reminds me of when I learned about saving people who are drowning. They teach you to never, ever get into the water. The drowning person, panicked, might put their hands on your head and push you under so that they can stay afloat. (This is why you reach, throw, tow, go, but I digress.)
Similarly, a person with BPD does anything and everything to not feel awful. Unfortunately, this often includes a lot of drama and manipulation. Obviously, it is important to protect ourselves, but too many people misunderstand BPD and get judgy about it.
That being said, dealing with both my daughter and Mom having BPD really burnt me out. I could write a book on how and why this happened, but it would be a boring book, and depressing to write, so you'll have to take my word for it. Or sit there in judgmental disagreement.
Recovering People Pleaser?
I am trying to be more at peace with people not liking me. As a lifelong people pleaser, this is not going well so far.
You know what's funny is that the people I want to like me usually do not and vice versa. I think I know why, and, if you can adjust your personality and behaviour (only those two small things), this info could be life-altering.
This is messed up, and you might already know it, but most people like people who do NOT like them. Yeah. There. I said it. Read that again. Either you already knew it or it will change your life.
This used to really bother me. If I like someone, why would they prefer someone who does not like them? It took me years to figure this out because I can be pretty slow sometimes.
Now, it seems obvious. If someone likes you, you might think that is an "easy" person. Maybe they like everyone. Maybe they are not very bright or observant and they don't really know you. This liking might seem cheap.
On the other hand, if someone doesn't like you, why not? It is intriguing. Did you offend this person? Is it your hair? What don't they like?
Now, you (most people) want to find out. You work harder than ever to befriend this mysterious asshole who doesn't like you. After all, who wouldn't like you? Your momma said you were a great person, right? I hope she said that. If not, she ought to have said so.
What was my point? Oh, Right...
So, my point is that, after dealing with my own issues, physical and mental, for 20+ years and dealing with double BPD in my life, I was well and truly burnt out. Now, I get a disability income from the government. This is one of the things I find hard to share. Why? First, I am definitely not the most disabled person around. There are people in far worse shape.
Secondly, although I am poor on what the government gives me, it is a more generous amount than what most people get worldwide. I calculated that what I receive is 65% of the local minimum wage, though. And it would not be easy to live on minimum wage. I often feel frustrated because I have many skills, but I cannot use most of them most of the time due to my problems.
Honour Your Problems.
Your Furnace Being Broken is Still Important Even if Your Neighbor's House Burnt Down
I try to remind myself that, no matter how many people might have it worse than I do, my concerns and problems are still valid. On the one hand, gratitude is healthy and it is good to count your blessings, so to speak. However, sometimes, we all feel bad about things, and there is little profit in telling ourselves it is not okay to feel sad, bad, or mad because millions or even billions of people have it worse.
By this logic, no one has a right to feel any emotions at all ever! I think being realistic is important, but also honouring your feelings is vital.
This has been a shitty month and I feel like hell. Am I a broken record? Fine. Then I am a broken record.
I know you might be going through (or have gone through) something way worse than what I will ever experience. That makes me genuinely sad. Nonetheless, I still am struggling like crazy every day.
Normally, I struggle to get out of bed because of emotional issues. I damaged my knee this month, and could not get out of bed as a matter of practicality. I could not even go for imaging. I was only able to walk to the car today.
I could have called an ambulance to get the imaging, but it seemed a bit dramatic. I was terrified that I had a blood clot or that I might never walk again.
As some of you may remember, I am a very large lady. I hate it when people suggest weight loss. Of course, people. That is obvious. However, it is not trivial. I lost 75lbs last year. It takes time to do this right.
In the interim, I have problems. When your knee suddenly is excruciatingly painful and you cannot stand on it, but you are too large for crutches or to be carried or assisted, what do you do?
I seriously considered calling the ambulance. However, I realized that, unless it is a blood clot, which seems unlikely, the imaging would show one of two things:
I have soft tissue damage and need to rest the knee.
I have more serious damage and require surgery.
I realized it is unlikely that they would do surgery on me unless I lost about another 100lbs or so. This is because surgery is harder on large people, but also it is so much harder to do rehab and such on a large body. The new knee just would not last.
That made me think the imaging was pointless. If I needed surgery, I would be in trouble. If I needed to rest the knee, a humiliating ambulance ride would not help.
I decided to rest my knee for a week and see what happened. I have mixed feelings. I can walk again, almost without pain, but I have to take tiny steps because of my knee. I think I will rest it on land and work my legs in water this week. I don't want to further damage the knee, but I also don't want my muscles to atrophy from too much time off my feet!
Meanwhile, my father’s open heart surgery got postponed to January 25th. I was relieved. I am his only relative in town and I might be able to visit him during his long hospital stay now that I can walk again, slow though it is!
My adult daughter. What can I say? I love her and she is mentally ill. I mean, I can relate in that I struggle with depression and anxiety and binge eating disorder. I have my share of problems.
I could write a lot about her. I had her when I was a teenager, but I was also an honours student. I worked so hard to avoid the clichés. I thought I was a decent mother. You know, all mothers muck up. However, I read a lot of parenting books and I made an insane effort. I thought it was sufficient.
This week, she said some horrifying things to me. Things I wouldn't say to someone who was a person I really hated. She knew these things would hurt me because this was her second time saying the same things. Last time, I stopped speaking to her for a few weeks.
What else can you do when your adult child says horrifying things that make you cry and haunt you for days? The funny thing is, she has BPD and bipolar II -- she has been saying awful things since she could speak (alarmingly awful and, yes, I did take her for help multiple times, but the help was unhelpful.) So, considering that, it is astonishing that she could come up with something to say to me that was so upsetting. I generally have a thick skin where she is concerned.
(This is the longest conclusion in the world.)
I haven't posted anything this week because I have been trapped in bed with a bad knee. My laptop is on the other side of the bed (because of the way I have to put my knee up) and I haven't wanted to risk dropping it. I have been sedating myself so I don't go insane with boredom and worry, being stuck in bed, thinking I might never walk again. Thankfully, (knock on wood), it now seems this worry was unfounded.
I am worried about Dad's surgery and I feel I have nearly completely failed as a mother. It's been challenging.
Meanwhile, what the hell is happening to the crypto and stock markets? Hell's bells! I keep telling myself that if I believe in crypto (and stocks), it will be okay in the long run, but will it?
I have a tiny amount of money in reserve. Should I spend it on crypto? It seems like now is the time. Then again, as Nortel Networks stock plummeted in value, I scooped up a deal I lived to regret... Ha!
Maybe next week will be better. I hope things are going well in your life, and, if they are not, I hope you manage to find an outlet or some way to hang in there!
"Too many people simply give up too easily. You have to keep the desire to forge ahead, and you have to be able to take the bruises of unsuccess. Success is just one long street fight." - Milton Berle, comedian (1907-2002)
Thank you for reading. Gold star to you since this was so long!