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

 

Everybody Grieves Differently

This month has been weird. My favorite and last surviving grandparent passed away. What typically is a normal part of life felt much different this time to me.

 

I spent most of my time with my grandmother when I was young. Her house was more like my home no matter where I actually lived. Going back there to her funeral did not change that feeling. Even without her now, it was still home and still full of things that remind me of her. She was a teacher and I think I learned more about the world from her than anyone. I can remember writing her a poem when I was in the fourth grade, something goofy about the spring and trees. She loved it, made a huge deal about it and then told me something that utterly blew my mind.

 

“Always remember, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.”

 

In the fourth grade, that seemed like crazy talk. All the best things rhymed but what could happen if I didn’t have to go by the rules? I wrote and wrote and wrote. I still write now, for some 38 years since and it’s her fault really. There are things to be said and stories to be invented and characters to talk.

 

Thank you Grandma.

 

I have to go now but you are welcomed here any time you feel like being the inspiration. Now I have a murder to plot amongst spies…

Every hero has some weakness…

Originally posted to www.diaryofashieldmaiden.com

Check out the new one from Giles Kristian
Check out the new one from Giles Kristian

Some days it is hard to remember when I wasn’t struggling to get my Warrior to remember something. Then those days come that I have too many things that need remembering in my head and then I forget. HOW IRONIC.

I talk about different ways to help him all the time but one of the easiest ways to help a TBI/PTSD patient work different parts of their brain is to get them to read. Not the easiest thing, granted, but there is really something for everyone out there. It’s worth a shot.

One thing about my Warrior is that he LOVES action (big surprise there) anything. Movies, television, books. One of his favorites is historical fiction books, particularly anything related to other warriors (see a theme here?) I can’t even remember how our household stumbled upon Giles Kristian only that it happened furiously and all at once. It wasn’t possible that we could get enough of him.

Then a funny thing happened…

My Warrior inadvertently became the best fan of Kristian. I don’t say biggest because that’s not really what I mean. I say best because a TBI/PTSD patient is likely the BEST kind of fan because they are constantly setting down books and forgetting where they put them. Sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes it is hilarious. During our travels, many Kristian books have been left behind in hotels rooms across the country, like some sort of Viking Gideon Bible program. We laugh about it now and imagine all the new fans we have inspired because we leave a book behind somewhere. I can’t remember how many times we have bought each book but it is safe to say MULTIPLE times.

Why keep buying them, you ask?

Because they are just that great. When we first started buying the books, they were not available in the US. I literally would scour EBay after each new release to find which bookstores in the UK and Australia would post them for sale (I bought from both.) When he announced via Twitter that they would be released in the US, we literally had a WOO HOO moment out loud in our house. Now we are hoping for a series of movies based on the books!

Books are the best gifts. Especially Viking books.

One thing my Warrior noticed once we started working on a sleep plan to try to help with the memory loss that sleep deprivation adds to the TBI/PTSD patients problems, was that if he was watching too many of his action/drama type movies, they seemed to activate those parts of his mind that caused the reoccurring nightmares. When I suggested that we switch to reading before bed there was a dramatic decrease in those nightmares. But what happened when he began reading the Raven series was something different altogether.

He was excited to read.

There are a great number of things I could say about the way Kristian writes but largely, for our household, the greatest thing is how he so richly captures the life of a warrior. There are sad and terrible events, but there is bonding, friendships and loyalty. More importantly, he deftly depicts the HONOR. Too many times Warriors return from any number of conflicts and are not revered or cared for. Sadly this continues but one thing so prevalent in Viking culture and shines through Kristian’s stories is the honor in which these warriors live their lives.

I would recommend reading any and all of his books. There are often social media contests in which you can win book copies (both of us have each won once) and you will not be disappointed in any of them. I had the great privilege of previewing his short The Terror and as usual it is full of fierce loyalty, warrior competiveness and love. What is better than that?

That’s right, NOTHING.

So pick up a copy, or two, of the Raven series for a Warrior you know. Check out The Terror HERE. You will be glad you did.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

A New Mission

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As many of you that follow me might know, I am caregiver to a disabled Veteran.  I have talked about TBI & PTSD pretty regularly but because of a few people reaching out to me for more information, I have decided to work on a blog specific to that issue.  While there may be issues that overlap between that blog and this one, it will be primarily geared to the journey of a caregiver.  I also will be blogging on the work on my novel from last year’s NaNoWriMo, SWITCH, which I have decided to pursue adapting to a screenplay.

All without trying to lose my mind.

I can do it, right?

If you are interested in following there, the blog is Diary of A Shieldmaiden with an associated Tumblr and Twitter account.  While my blog links will post to both of those, just like my personal accounts, there will be entirely different content on the Tumblr & Twitter accounts so you guys don’t get crazy bored.

As always, thanks you guys, you are just so awesome!

 

 

 

Why Dracula Untold Is Exciting

In a recent, brief post on summer movies, the subject of the upcoming Dracula Untold came up, and I have to say, I feel like I’m more excited than anyone else about the potential of this film. In fact, I glanced at Coming Soon for a look at the rest of the year to come, and I may actually be more interested in Dracula Untold than anything else on the slate (though Interstellar and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 are in the running). So here’s my version of filtering my own thoughts and explaining why you, too, should be super excited….

Are vampires even cool anymore?

Dracula_1
This is fair skepticism. After all, the Twilight phenomenon is now a couple of years behind us, and even HBO’s True Blood is sort of past its prime. Vampire fiction isn’t quite in the spotlight the way it was a few years ago… but you know what? Both Twilight and True Blood were equal parts teen (or close to teen) romance and vampire stories… Dracula Untold is straight up blood-sucking action! Which brings me to another fair question for skeptics….

Can vampire fiction be dark?

Again, fair question, given that the popular vampire fiction of the past decade was largely fluff. But does anybody remember the Blade series? Somehow over time these Wesley Snipes-starring action/superhero movies landed somewhere between The Matrix and Underworld in comparisons, when in actuality Blade himself was part vampire! This was real, dark, awesome vampire fiction, and it retains a huge following even today. The slots at Betfair, which are known in part for hosting a lot of movie-themed games, even offer a Blade game alongside the popular heroes of more recent Marvel flicks. Popularity in gaming is actually a pretty major indicator of what people want to see, especially in terms of mobile or online gaming. And in keeping with the prominent place of this casino game, the last film in the series (Blade: Trinity) racked up over $120 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo, despite pretty rough reviews. So, yes, vampire fiction can be dark!

So if it’s darker, what’s it about?

Your guess is as good as mine as far as the details go. However, according to the summary at IMDB and judging by the trailers, young prince/soldier Vlad Tepes basically sells his soul to a super creepy supernatural demon/vampire and invites dark forces (like gradually becoming a vampire) into himself. It’s all a way for him to gain the power to save his family and homeland from opposing forces. Ultimately, it looks like a sort of medieval war epic spun into a vampire tale, which actually sounds oddly original—not unlike Greek epic battles (think 300 and Troy). However, instead of intervention from standard Olympian gods, we get dark supernatural vampire demons.

Well, who’s in it?

The aforementioned soldier prince, Vlad Tepes, is played by Luke Evans, whose face is probably vaguely recognizable to a lot of trailer viewers that just can’t quite place him. So far though, Evans is actually on a bit of a roll in his relatively young career. He’s best known as the suave, self-assured villain Shaw from Fast & Furious 6, but he also stole the show (in my opinion) as a young Zeus in Immortals. Additionally, he was terrific as Bard in the second Hobbit movie (he’ll be in the third as well). Sarah Gadon (a relative newcomer), Dominic Cooper (best known as the young groom-to-be in Mamma Mia), and Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lannister) will also star.

So, add it all up and we’ve got our darkest vampire saga in a while. It’s also one that happens to feature an exciting cast and, rarest of all, a seemingly original take on the medieval war film. It could flop, sure, but for now I’m looking at it as one of the major events yet to come in 2014.

Summer Movies 2014

I was just about to order tickets for Dracula Untold and thought about the movies that we saw this summer:

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 11.05.54 AM

I feel like I enjoyed this summer more than previous ones because the movies were highly entertaining.  Interestingly enough, a large majority of them were really trashed with reviewers.  That really never impacts how I feel about a movie unless I was already not planning to see it and that seals its fate.  Maybe that’s how everyone is?

How was your summer movie dance card?  Did you enjoy it?

 

 

The Trouble with Trouble, oh yeah, and Syria too

I get a little crazy over politics sometimes. In all honesty, I think I have earned it with the extent to which I have worked in it over the years, but still, I understand not every home has people that yell at the television news.

In my defense, I warned them.

 I don’t work in politics as much as I used to but I have raised amazingly civic-minded children that go and do their own amazing things. I am very proud of that and feel like it’s my duty to teach them why they should care and why they should get involved. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s very hard.

This week was one of those weeks.

 It’s not a question of what we should do as a nation in the Ukraine, Syria, etc. Its all the vocal minority of ill informed people is becoming so loud that I can no longer bear the noise.

Sovereignty is the boss of things

 Sovereignty: the authority of a state to govern itself or another state.”national sovereignty”

synonyms: autonomy, independence, self-government, self-rule, home rule, self-determination, freedom “the colony demanded full sovereignty”

a self-governing state.plural noun: sovereignties

 Does anyone understand what it means any longer to be a sovereign nation? Maybe that isn’t high on the priority list in school any more but I feel like I have to mention that. How sad is that? POTUS cannot just direct folks to roll up into Ukraine or Syria because they are sovereign nations. If they ask for and accept assistance within parameters, that’s different but did, we not learn ANY THING in Iraq? By the Bush Administration misrepresenting the facts to the UN?

Just think about Ferguson

 In our own country we have people doing horrible things. Civil rights violations continue and one could argue human rights violation when examining all that happened just in Ferguson this summer. So say Russia or China takes issue with that and decides, lets just roll in there and solve that problem. What would be wrong with that? Some of our largest cities are battling gangs that cause pain, suffering, death and perpetuate crime that cannot be stifled. What would you say to a city that decides they are going to pick this place for random strikes and send in drones to kill all of them? What about the good, innocent people that live there? Why is it not okay in this country but just fine in others?

If just one more person screams BOMB THEM I will loose my mind

 The beheading of journalist in Syria is tragic. No one can argue those points. The follow up statement that we should roll up into Syria because they beheaded two Americans makes no sense at all. With all due respect to your opinions and ideas…

You do not know what the fuck you are asking

 A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America  ‘ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’ – Unknown

As a caregiver to a combat disabled OEF Veteran, you do not understand what you are asking the men and women of our Armed Forces to do. It doesn’t matter how much you respect members of the military, past and present. The reality is that serving in the military is no longer viewed as a duty and an honor by the majority of population. In fact, less than 1% of our society serves anymore. LESS THAN 1%. That number is just as dismal when you consider the percentage of Congressional members that have served. So when I say you don’t understand what you are asking, I am speaking to the majority of Americans. You cannot fully understand when you haven’t done it yourself. You just can’t.

It is a constant battle

A good day is one where there are no blow-ups, nothing is forgotten, no one cries, no one freaks out, no bad dreams creep in and everyone is smiling the next morning. These days are too few and very far between. Most days living with TBI and PTSD are constantly trying to balance how much you intervene, how often you interrupt or when you take over. You will be yelled at or met with resistance. You will feel angry but most days stuff that down, either on your own or with your favorite vice (mine is usually donuts.) There is often crying and deep sadness. There is a lot of busy work to keep you from thinking such things. This and life has to go on. The kids go to school, the Vet has to get to appointments, animals need to be cared for and did I get the laundry done. BONUS: You forgot the wet laundry and now it’s molded in your washing machine, ruining everything. If you have never taken care of a TBI patient, it can be likened to abuse from time to time because there is no impulse control, there is no moderating the volume where its only on LOUD when they are ANGRY. Then there are those perfect days where everything is right with the world, everyone is happy, and new good memories can be formed.

 But then there is reality

There is no one thanking me for my service and there are a ton of caregivers that just can’t take it. They leave. I get that. I can’t judge them. I judge the VA system that is woefully inadequate, the advances they will not fund nor explore because it’s too expensive. My Vet needs a name brand medicine recommended by two doctors and they will not authorize it. Why? It costs too much for the VA. There are millions of Veterans in the system that go through the same hassles.

So don’t call me a traitor

It doesn’t mean I am un-American because I am not a Republican. It doesn’t mean I am a traitor because I think they are wrong on every point. I am tired of Republicans perpetuating the myth that soldiers are Republicans and Republicans take care of them. That is all bullshit. You would be ashamed if you knew how many service members told me they had to lie and pretend to be Republicans when they went to the board for promotion. The number that was looked down on when they had to apply for food stamps to feed their families is staggering. Yes, and just don’t get me started on how little soldiers are paid. It doesn’t make me a bad person because I don’t think full-scale military intervention is the answer for everything.

I serve my country every day

When I get through the day and everyone is taken care of and I can breathe, I understand the importance of what I am doing. My Veteran has important skills and mentoring still left to impart upon anyone that needs it. He has stories and memories that were not affected that should be told. Let us serve as a reminder of the reason that we can’t just go do what we have done in the past. This country already cannot afford it. This country doesn’t understand what it is doing to military families.

That’s the trouble with trouble

There are times when we must act. It is part of the joint human experience. Advances in technology and weaponry that allow us to be more focused in our show of force. But that’s the trouble with trouble, when you choose a side, you also choose your enemy. It is a never-ending cycle in our lives. Unless you support compulsory military service and a draft, stop saying our military needs to roll up in some country or drop bombs and nuke them back to the Stone Age.

When you use the words “we need to kill them all” I don’t think you understand the word “we.”

That word doesn’t mean what you think it means.

From your couch or in front of a computer.

What are you giving up to fight the good fight?

Are you even registered to VOTE?

What?

I can’t hear you…