Dysfunction, Lies and the Ties that Bind Them

This has been a roller coaster of a year for my family.  Since March I have finished up some really cool cooking classes, learned to make rain barrels (I have 3!), seen some good movies (and some bad ones), had a TON road trips, some archery tournaments and had some really great times with the family.

And then there is the flip side of all of that.

I have had health issues and there have been several family members that are quite ill.  I don’t ever expect that things will be perfect.  The idea of that is an illusion that our society sells everyone from a very young age, and in my opinion its what contributes to people feeling so terrible about themselves.  Social media doesn’t help because people don’t often see the perfect lives someone tells with pictures and think “hey its not real.”

Then someone dies.

I watched the shit show that emerged after a relatives death earlier this year and I just kept telling myself that I am NEVER getting into that again.  EVER.  Then one of my parents became critically ill.  Because it was touch and go for a few days, it seemed to have triggered the “death freak out” response in multiple people and suddenly I was the target of ALL of it.

Sometimes, I can’t catch a break.

Initially, I did not handle it well. I willingly admit that. There was so much crying that I thought I would be perpetually dehydrated.  Then I got angry.  These were people, related to me or not, that knew nothing about my actual life.  It was surface, “how are you doings” in passing, no real participation and feeling.  After a couple of weeks trying to manage my feelings and how hurtful everything that was said actually felt, I woke up one day and pushed it aside.  For some reason, I finally realized that there is so much these judgmental people don’t know or remember.  They are projecting their OWN sickness onto me because they feel so awful.  My favorite part was a phone conversation in which I was instructed to “not get upset and only talk about good memories with them.”

Bells when off.

Good memories?  No, I never snuck out of the house, no I didn’t give up going to college to run away, nope, there are no good memories.  What exists in my childhood space is watching multiple addictions, multiple abuses, embezzlement, arrests, drug use, one of my siblings being whipped in a late night drunk fit, cleaning up food slung all over the floor after a 2 AM fight, taking butcher knifes out of adults hands during 2 AM fights, hiding my siblings in my room so they can feel safe and go back to sleep during those middle of night fights.  Or forcing me to bartend at 12 for all the adults with them.  Or smoking weed with teenagers that KNEW ME that then went to school and told everyone and eventually trying to offer me drugs.  Repeatedly.  Or asking me to sit up in the middle of cocaine fits at 1 AM and just talk.  Those are the memories.  And when I think of THAT life it pisses me off because what I could have had…what was stolen from me.  It also became glaringly obvious to me that a WHOLE lot of lies have been told to hide those things.  People living in the same house don’t know the person I know.  There has been so much time and effort put on spin of the who’s and what’s over the years that it is astonishing.  The degree to which people are willing to judge you from what someone says is also devastating.  There is a spider web constructed over a multitude of things and its beginning to unravel.

I see your sickness.

I have made a couple of trips to visit.  Both of them made me sick when listening the all of the lies being passed around.  How do people look you in the face and lie like its nothing?  I feel nothing but sorrow for the people caught up in it. It is choking them and they can’t see it.  But…I finally do.

Reality is real.

I reminded myself that the reason I have to limit my time in that house is because it makes me sick.  Physically, emotionally, psychically sick to every fiber of my being.  Do you know that feeling?  It’s like your soul and your light are being sucked out of you as every barb, nasty comment and eye roll flies by.  Sometimes it makes me wonder do they every think about how they make someone feel that they are supposed to love?  That’s not love.  It’s some sort of fucked up roll of crap they were handed by their parents paired with the deep need to control and suppress all the real issues while covering the lies they have told. So very toxic.

So I again remind myself.

I didn’t leave that house because being a “rebel” was more important than an education.  Quite the opposite.  So much dysfunction existed that I was never a matter of concern.  I was not asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I was not asked if I wanted to go to college.  Back in the Jurassic Period, pre-internet, when you graduate, still a minor in an overseas location on a military base, your sponsor is 100% responsible for anything you will and will not do.  Any communication or information that needs to be received.  Any arrangements to visit a college, meet with a program director, etc. would have to be initiation by the person not the minor.  While I left and entered one of several difficult and painful relationships I have had an an adult, I also left to get work experience and start college.  I knew I had to leave or it would kill me. Literally.  My first suicidal episode was when I was in the 9th grade and no one cared.

Triggers

Going back and having so much in my face this summer, of what its perceived that I don’t do enough of or that I want to “take over things” was very triggering.  It forced me to mentally inventory all of those things that were done to me or in my presence.  It made me have to have conversations with family members and piece other things that I thought I knew but needed missing pieces.  While I never thought I would enter into “self therapy” that ended up exactly what I have had to do the past few months.  I know I can’t do anything about their misconceptions, the lies that were and ARE being told.  I know I can’t do anything about the need to control things that some of them have, or the way the perceived obligation in some minds overrides everything that was ever done to me as a person.  Its weird and its gross but I no longer let it be my problem when its their own sickness.  They can be dysfunctional all they want but I don’t have to participate.

Remember…

You don’t have to just TAKE something because they are family.  If strangers did some of this stuff to you, you would IMMEDIATELY know it was inappropriate and/or call the cops.  You can’t change someone’s sickness, only they can.  Stop trying and give yourself the freedom to be happy.  One of the things I am working on right now is remembering I can make that choice every morning.  I don’t have to put up with the pain and anger.  I can be happy.  Really terrible things happen in life, that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a happy person.  Money and position in society isn’t what makes a person a good person or a happy person.  That comes from the inside.  Trust me.  I saw it this summer…all the privilege and nice “things” around and everyone was angry and toxic and miserable.

Resources

There are many, many great places for help, you just have to use them.  These are some of the places I go for help:

 

A great resource for any mental illness and their care takers  https://www.nami.org

 

The Bloggess is a force of nature and also a great resource for any one battling depression, she has so much great advice but also fearlessly shares her experiences  http://thebloggess.com

 

Sometimes you just need a diversion  http://cuteoverload.com

 

my OWN grass

 

 

 

happiness

 

End of the World Baking

No, not that kind of baking.  Get your head out of the gutter.

I had some requests for my recipes from the other night so I thought I would post them for you guys.  We made sure to stay close to home the last few days just out of concern for the crazies exercising their last-day-on-the-planet desires.  As a result, I figured with Christmas coming, baking needed to get done and if some how the Mayans were accurate, what would be a better last meal than desserts?  Remarkably, I actually got a few other folks to do the same and now we are all a few pounds heavier and, well, happier!  So here we go:

Cake

Best Ever Banana Cake lives up to its title.  I found this on Pinterest, have made it a few times and I SWEAR it is actually super easy and comes out looking like you bought it at a bakery!  It is a lighter banana bread with cream cheese icing.  You can top it however you like (it calls for nuts) but I have done variations that include chopped dark chocolate, coconut and sea salt chopped almonds with great success.

Cranberry Upside Down

Cranberry Upside Down Cake is a Martha Stewart masterpiece.  A great bake & take to an event, it is an unexpectedly delicious combo that never lasts more than 24 hours.  I am serious.  It is that good.  What’s awesome about it, aside from being super fast to make, is that if any makes it to the next morning, it is SO good for breakfast with your coffee.  Growing up in Europe, it is the kind of not-to-sweet cake I miss living back here in the US.

 

Sweet and Saltines from Trisha Yearwood is what I would qualify as a candy.  It is so simple and you make it in a total of about 30 minutes start to finish.  A layer of toffee is cooked on the tops of Saltine crackers then smothered in chocolate and popped in the freezer for 15 minutes.  I use dark chocolate chips and it is just DELICIOUS.Sweet and Saltines

 

Cashew Brittle is a take on my friend Kari’s super easy microwave cooked peanut brittle.  Like I NEVER use the microwave to cook so this made think twice about it.  However, trying it, I am hooked!  I doubled the nuts and choose cashews but the possibilities are endless!

 

Cashew BrittleMISS KARI’S PEANUT BRITTLE

 

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light Karo syrup

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup of dry roasted peanuts

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp margarine

1 tsp baking soda

Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray ahead of time.  Mix sugar, Karo syrup and salt well.  Microwave for about 4 minutes or until amber-colored.  Take out and add peanuts then microwave for 2 more minutes.  Quickly add vanilla, margarine and baking soda and mix well.  Will set up fast so spread quickly on previously greased sheet.  Wait until completely cool, pry up and break into large pieces.

 

Enjoy!

 

Any really awesome recipes you baked this week?  SHARE!

 

My Nerdy Kitchen

BEFORE Kitchen cabinets and Little Monkey being goofy
BEFORE Kitchen
BEFORE Kitchen wall

Living in a 100 year old tiny house is difficult.  There is always something breaking, not working or needing updating.  While I have advocated down sizing before (and still do) it can pose quite a problem for a cook.  There are many things I don’t need in other rooms of the house but the kitchen is one of those where I still don’t have every thing I need, much less every thing I want.  One of the problems posed by this little space was where to hang our nerdy artwork.  Because there was an empty wall in the kitchen placed where nothing could go against it if you wanted to maintain any sort of emergency exit plan (read here:  between two doors) it ended up this was the art wall.  From there the kitchen project began.

For most people, I am sure I don’t have to explain the importance of paint colors. You CAN use dark colors in small spaces but it has to be the right dark color (see my bathroom below).  This tiny house was painted on the main floor in awful pink tinted beige with dark burgundy accent walls.  The result was a house that was dark and depressing at best.  Marry this with really badly done mint green cabinets and it just got worse.  When we first moved in, we weren’t really sure where to put all our pieces because clearly cooking had to take place but there was so little prep space that it became a chore.  We tried several configurations, none of which helped.  We finally started a couple of months ago, one project at a time, until we finally arrived at the finished project this weekend.

AFTER Kitchen wall

Yes those are comic books and Daleks.  You don’t have to like it but it is quite representative of our household. While the old table we gave a facelift isn’t quite Tardis blue, its close enough for you to get it.  Someone, solely the fault of Halo, we went down a deep rabbit hole into very specific nerdy art with candy and/or cupcakes involved.  It’s sad.  I have added a great print from Amy Houser and I fear I will never stop looking for them.  Currently paint and glittering a sign to hand that says “Make Cupcakes Not War.”  See what I mean?

As a side note, the master tiny bath was redone as well.  It was previously a God-awful shade of blue that did not “brighten” anything.  Combined with a poorly hung mirror and a light fixture above it hung 8 inches too far to the right made for a depressing bathroom.  Though I went with a darker color, it ended up looking much richer and simply repositioning the light and mirror properly, results in far more light reflecting and a happier room.

AFTER bathroom, Darby approved

Shades of orange, chalkboard paint, take some cabinet doors down, add Big Foot fabric and BAM!  Shouldn’t all rooms be happier?