Toxic People

I’ve been reading a lot about forgiving toxic people so that I can move forward positively in my own life. How its “better” for me. I’ve written before about people who I’ve moved on from in a positive way. Getting to a point of neutrality about them and remaining there is great. Gotta tell you though… There have been a few doozies. Malignant, malicious, darkly and deeply unhappy people who my husband and I are supposed to forgive for unforgivable sins. So, ummm…no. Not forgiving, not forgetting. Not now.

One of these people is deceased, so if God wants to, she can be forgiven. We don’t “have” to, given the depth and gravity of the damage this person caused. We are not supposed to speak ill of the dead. Yeah. No. The facts aren’t refutable, and I have the absolute right to be – and remain – salty about it. We deal with the fallout on a daily basis. It’s stressful. She doesn’t get a pass because she died. The others…. well, lessons learned; simply moving on and not giving toxic any oxygen.

My mindset on these individuals is to decide, on a case by case basis, what works in terms of ME being able to move forward. The saltiness, the anger, that will hopefully dissipate over time. It helps to talk about it; feeling it is necessary to acknowledge and experience rather than bottle up. Telling someone that they “need” to forgive or that they can’t speak about someone is also telling them that they shouldn’t feel hurt, betrayed or angry about it. That’s not healthy either. Getting those feelings out gives control.

My goal is to move to neutrality. That point where, I simply don’t care anymore. Toxic out, healthy in. It’s also important to remember a smiling face doesn’t mean a person likes me or is my friend. Even at my age it’s a valuable lesson that is required relearning every so often. Brushing up against that kind of malignancy SHOULD leave a mark. Whatever the toxic relationship – a domestic partner, family member, friend, co-worker. I want to tell you it’s OK to be angry, hurt and feel betrayed. Talk about it with someone you trust; get those feelings out and regain your control. Decide for yourself how you need to get to that neutral place.

It ain’t easy. There’s a grieving process to go through as well; after all, you are losing a relationship. Whether by choice or circumstance it is still a loss. You may miss them, at first. That’s OK. You might also feel some sadness that your choice has created “non-relationships” for others. For example, our choice to sever ties with my husband’s biological mother meant that our children would not get to know their biological grandmother, at least while they were growing up. Let’s see, my youngest was 4 last time we had any contact so… about 17 years. That’s a sobering, somber number. But you do what you gotta, for yourself and your children. That’s all for now folks. Enjoy your day, and go forth feeling empowered by your healthy choices!

Sunday thoughts

Good morning. I reactivated my FaceBook this morning after a weeks break. I’m sad to note that little seems changed. Not that I really expected it (I didn’t) but I did expect to (maybe) not feel disappointed. Disappointment was uppermost. I’m not angry right now; just sad. Sad to think that a symbolic gesture by one person is leading people to actually vote for Trump in November. Pelosi’s shredding of SOTU WAS petty. Absolutely. A gesture against the person speaking the words not the stories contained. But baby and bath water got thrown out by an individual act.

If I’m taking the temperature of my newsfeed correctly; people are turning to Trump because these stories are felt to be unrecognized. And yes, the state of our union comprises individual stories. So how about the stories of thousands of victims (usually women, but not always) who will no longer have legal protection from their verbal and emotional abusers, due to a DOJ definition change. Additionally, the VAWA Reauthorization has stalled indefinitely due to a spineless Senate unwilling to close loopholes regarding gun access for known abusers. Trump DID just sign an order about the rape kit backlog This is largely symbolic, since the manpower required to do so would be staggering.

How about the stories of thousands of farmers going belly up due in no small part to ill-considered foreign policies?

Further, let’s talk science and climate change. Lets discuss all the environmental law rollbacks this petty man has instituted simply because he wants to impact things the former president did – without thought for the bigger picture and future impact. As a person with respiratory problems, I would appreciate less pollution, not more. Not happening in this administration.

Of tremendous concern: POTUS’ demonstrated inability to have a controlled, thoughtful and insightful response to foreign events. His demonstrated inability to work well with others and to listen to advisors who actually know what they are talking about. The mark of a good leader is knowing what your weak points are; having advisors who fill those gaps; and taking their advice. Trump doesn’t do that. Ever. And still may get us into a global conflict if he’s not checked. The Senate just demonstrated they do not have the willingness to fulfill that obligation. Which is absolutely terrifying…

I’ve often heard it said that when someone shows you who they are, believe them. Trump has shown us time after time that he is a serial philanderer, a small minded bully, and a thoughtless, reckless, mean spirited misogynistic bigot with an over inflated ego. I submit that the minimum social skills required for leadership and diplomacy are sorely lacking in this revenge minded narcissist. We need a president who is at heart a decent person. That is not this man.

Please think about who you are voting for. For example, just because a candidate is pro choice doesn’t mean that they aren’t suited for the position. Additionally, a “booming economy” should not be the only benchmark of presidential leadership. This man has, in almost every other respect, zero leadership skills and no real high points of his term. He is his own worst enemy, and has only his own self interest at his core. #anyfunctionaladult can do better. We should let them.

Long Time No See

Good morning Friends.

It’s been awhile. Lots of changes, upheavals, losses, gains, joy, sadness, illness, madness, triumph, tragedy, travel and a host of other things in the last several years since I’ve had the time or inclination to write. Life came at me full-tilt boogie. Death has been a too frequent, most unwelcome visitor. In the last four years I’ve lost a sister in law, father in law, brother in law, two aunts, my mother, and my best friend. I also learned a great deal about trust (as in who not to). I directed my energies as I deemed most appropriate, and sidelined the blog indefinitely.

My social media presence has been exclusive to FaceBook. And I’ve taken a step back from that, temporarily deactivating my account while I recharge and reevaluate my priorities. Those who know me have seen changes in my world view over the last decade. I’ve learned more about privilege, intersectionality (Jesus, what DOESN’T intersect?), feminism, to name a few – and I’ve moved left of center as a result on the political spectrum. I’ve watched partisanship erode the ability to work collectively and this country’s collective values slide into an abyss of “winning”. FaceBook was doing more to me than for me, so I took that break.

I’m now in my late 50’s. My girls are grown. The oldest is getting married this year. The Viking and I will celebrate 35 years of wedded life this summer. Time for a name change to the blog at least. “Post-Menopausal Masshole” cheekily fits the bill. IMHO.

The plan, such as it is, is to focus on positives as much as possible and limit politics to a stricter schedule for posting and discussion. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure what I say is (my) True, Necessary, and Kind. Also, tightening access to all of my sm.

That said, I’m trying to reconcile some stuff: I’m in a fortunate (privileged) position in that I can step off sm for a time and my day to day reality becomes less toxic with that click. Because I am a cishet white person, my “real” life isn’t all that hugely affected by the current noxious poli-social culture. For so many of the people I care about, their lives are impacted to a much greater extent than just their social media presence. They can’t simply deactivate their actual lives. It’s awful, and I don’t know what to do with that terrible feeling.

Because I Miss Him

So much time, so VERY VERY missed – every day. You were here for dinner 7 years ago tonight, and I never saw you again.  I miss you and think of you so much,  Daddy! Today, and every day. …… So here’s my story again


Through the Door: 7 years Gone

I pull in the driveway just as the shadows are starting to lengthen and the afternoon is at its golden magical moment. Its been a long day and my feet are killing me. As I walk up the deck steps to the back door I don’t hear our two dogs barking – which is strange,  because they usually bark when a leaf blows by the window – never mind when they hear footsteps on the trex decking. But no matter – I’m tired. I open the door and take a step into the dim coolness of my kitchen – shedding my sweater as I walk in.

I’m greeted by Miss Nellie – our old greyhound, who lifts her head off the couch and grins at me, tail thumping. For a millisecond I accept this – then I freeze. Nellie’s been at the Rainbow Bridge for close to three years now.  Then I hear his voice behind me –  “What’s for supper, Donna Jean?”   Dad?  Oh, Daddy…. I spin around and RUN, fast as I can,  hugging him tightly. He’s real, and I’m not hallucinating.   “Take it easy kiddo”, he says, “I’m still recuperating. I just got the OK to drive again today.”  That’s when I know.  It’s June 6, 2007.  Its not the date I woke up to this morning – but when I stepped through my back door this afternoon it’s where I ended up.  And I’ve been given a rare gift.  One more last afternoon with my father.

I frantically try and think of any way to keep him at my house for as long as possible, as we chat about the girls and wait for them and my husband, to get home. Its surreal. My brain is telling me this isn’t possible, but oh, my heart…. my heart.  I don’t know how I manage to keep it together; as this great big lump of emotion in the center of my chest tries to work its way up my throat and explode out of me.  But I do keep it together, barely.  Dad doesn’t seem to notice. There’s so much I want to tell him, but can’t.    The crew gets home just as I think  I can’t stand any more and they prove a distraction.  I’m in for another shock – when I left them this morning they were 21 and 15. Now, they’re 14 and 8. We decide on pizza for dinner and Grandpa is highly encouraged to stay. As usual, the girls have him wrapped around their fingers,  and so he does.  I content myself watching him with them, remembering how much they mean/t to him and how much he loves/loved being their grandfather.

Time slows, I start to almost feel like this is normal – and then it suddenly accelerates as Dad gets ready to leave – he’s heading for an AA meeting – just like he did before. My heart sinks because I know he’s leaving and this is the last time I’ll see him – again. Don’t go Dad. Stay awhile. But the time arrives. I know it, and I know I can’t stop him.  I tell him unequivocally to take it easy – reminding him (as I follow him out to the car this time) that he has to see the surgeon before he goes back to mowing lawns and landscaping. But I know it won’t make any difference.   There really are no do-overs. What was, was. What is, is. And what will be, will be. The timeline is locked in, and on June 7, 2007 he will have a massive heart attack while unloading his lawn mower at a clients house and he will pass away before I can get to the hospital to say goodbye.   “I know,” he says.  “Love you.  Sayonara, Kemosabe.  Keep the Faith.”  “Bye Dad, I love you too!” And with that, he leaves – just like before.

As I turn and walk back up the driveway the light shifts back to golden for an instant.  I hear the dogs barking inside the house. I go back through the door again, back to my future. I smile through the tears I can now let loose –  because I got my chance to say goodbye, after all.

Growing Up, and Letting Go.

Thought I would post these today, with permission of course.  Time slips away and these moments are gone before you realize it.  Thank You Baby Girl – for allowing me to save them and share them. You’re beautiful!  May 3, 2014

And I Think it’s About Forgiveness….

With apologies to Don Henley who wrote that lovely song that’s been an earworm for me today….  My daughter’s boyfriend’s mother posted on Facebook today, wondering about trust after being burnt severely (figuratively speaking) which sparked (pun intended) some great conversation about said trust, whether or not people can truly change, apologizing, moving forward, and forgiveness. It got me thinking.

Of course, we are in the middle of the Lenten season, wherein we meditate, make small sacrifices (Not small animals though, wink wink)  and reaffirm our connection to our higher power as Christians. Those of you who know me know I am definitely not an overtly religious person. I don’t proselytize, I’m fairly tolerant, moderate, and  liberal in my religious viewpoints. And I certainly don’t force my views on anyone else, or expect others to conform to my way of thinking. I have discovered progressive Christianity and it makes sense to me.  But I digress.  That being said, I do strongly believe that LOVE and FORGIVENESS are the keystones of the Christian faith.

Here’s my response to her initial post:  “Did the person apologize? We have the option to forgive, and we never have to forget either. Leopards don’t always change their spots, but sometimes they can. There’s a nasty person inside each of us. In some, it consumes them. But there’s also good in each of us. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean they get a free pass, and you can choose not to have them in your life. Forgiving allows you to move forward unencumbered. And if they’re still a slimy lying sack of putrescence, it’s not your problem anymore. Good luck!”  The person has not apologized, for the record. And, has apparently not changed their spots, even though they are being vocal about being a changed person. Its a sad fact of life that sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself and another person is remove them from your life.   I speak from experience.

Anyway,  let me tell you a true story….. I’ve alluded to it before in my “Tales from the Northland” series on this blog.  So let’s talk about my mother-in-law for a few minutes.  The Vikings biological mother.  Who has, shall we say…”issues”….  She’s a manic depressive who refuses to take medication. And she doesn’t like me. At all. I come from a family that loves and talks to one another no matter what.  My dear husband’s female parent doesn’t have relationships with too many members of her family.  And its always their fault.  Her problem with me stems from the fact that I believe her issues with her family are hers alone and if I want a relationship with them, then I will have one. Period. My husband recognized that he (and consequently, we) would never have a stable loving relationship with his mother,  LONG before I did. Had I listened to him – I would have saved myself much stress. No “kamikaze” nasty voicemails on the answering machine when I came home from work, no disappointed children because they didn’t understand why their grandmother didn’t call them or arrange to visit, no venomous, filthy letters blaming me for all her problems with her son and her grandchildren. I think I even caused the crucifixion of Christ himself if you asked her about it…..  I do wish her well though.

It took me quite awhile to get to that point.  Especially since it was affecting my children.  You can say what you like about me, but don’t screw around with my kids.  Momma  E will get seriously pissed off…. and I did.  She had reached out shortly after 9/11 after a few years of no contact.  I imagine quite a lot of people attempted to repair, or did repair, relationships after that time.  We were crystal clear that if she was in our lives, she was in, and that she would maintain contact with the girls regardless.  That didn’t happen. So we severed ties.  My children do not understand conditional love, and that, unfortunately, was all the woman could offer.

Mental illness is a terrible thing.  I understand that she was driven by her paranoia and her disease.  So I forgive her, but I  would forgive even if she wasn’t ill.  Its easier than being upset.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that not everyone is going to think I’m amazing –  even if I am (Ha ha  just kidding). And I recognize that being the biological parent does not automatically grant access rights to adult children, or their children.  The most loving thing we can do for her, and for ourselves, is stay away – far away.  Needless to say, the last 12 years have been stress free in terms of monster-in-law issues.  I kinda like that.

Leopards usually don’t change their spots, and the art of apology is almost non-existent these days. There’s usually a “but” tagged on right after the “I’m sorry” which negates the apology completely in my opinion.  But regardless, forgiving is the right thing to do. As I said in my response to the Facebook post, it frees you.  I don’t have to worry about what my mother in law is doing or where she is. Its immaterial.  I hope she’s happy. I just don’t want her near me or my family.  I can rest easy in the assurance that I am not contributing to negativity, entropy, or bad karma.

If I stress about this and other issues like it, I lose sleep, I get cranky, and needlessly anxious. Which is of course, not a good thing.  So it is about forgiveness.  Forgetfulness, no.  I need to make sure that my family and I are in the best mental place possible.  I love my monster in law in the sense that I wish no ill to befall her and that she have a happy, productive life.  I/we just want no part of it.  Being loving, as I said before, sometimes means that the toxic people in your life have to get out of your life.  Being part Irish, I’m also  superstitious.  I truly think that if you wish someone ill, it comes back on you.  I make sure not to rock any empty rocking chairs with my foot and if my front or back door blows open – I don’t ever say “Come in.”

In this season of reflection and reaffirmation, I think it important to acknowledge that sometimes things are broken beyond repair. And that in order to move on in a healthy manner, one needs to be forgiving, but not forgetful. Thats all I got for now, friends. Enjoy your evening!

“Ours Not to Wonder…

…What were Fair in Life; but finding what may be – make it Fair up to our Means.” ~ Anne McCaffery

This made headlines recently and I figured I could use a good op-ed piece to get my muse kick-started again. So here goes…

First of all, I am completely supportive of same-sex couples adopting and/or having their own biological children together.  A loving home with good consistent co-parenting is a key factor in raising a healthy well-adjusted child. (I’m leaving single parenting out of my factoring in this case, although a loving strong and consistent single parent is just as effective in raising a healthy well-adjusted child – I think we all can agree that having two involved parents is the optimal situation for all concerned. Parenting is a tough gig.) That said, it is not the “right” of any couple to be able to have children simply because they want them.

If one or both of the partners is infertile then medical insurance can cover procedures to mitigate that, and/or provide Artificial Insemination or other options to assure pregnancy.  In the case of this lesbian couple – its safe to presume that at least the biological mother was fertile – in which case it was NOT incumbent upon her medical insurance (if she had any) to provide coverage for the AI procedure. Just as it is not incumbent upon a fertile heterosexual woman’s insurance to provide that coverage.  There’s no problem with the plumbing in either case.

No, I can’t say its fair that same-sex couples have to struggle on this level too, but in regard to this issue – that’s the way it is.  I’m going to use myself as an analogy here for a moment:  I had bariatric surgery several years ago.  I could use a few nip/tucks here and there post-weight loss.  However, I am not covered for it. Fair? Nope. But that’s the way it is. Life’s given me bat-wings so I better learn to fly with them! Anyway, however any of us may feel about same sex relationships, and related civil rights –  we cannot deny basic biology. Unless there is some help or scientific intervention there can be no fertile relationships between same sex partners.

So,  – the correct thing to do if AI is the way fertile females are choosing to conceive, is to SAVE THEIR MONEY in order to get the procedure done.  Mistake #1 in the case I am discussing here. Mistake #2:  The couple  advertised online (Craigslist???) for a sperm donor.  They must be OUT OF THEIR FREAKIN MINDS.  Mistake #3:  The man involved actually responded to an online advertisement to be said donor.  He was not a registered sperm donor.  HE must be OUT OF HIS FREAKIN MIND too.   The poor kid could’ve ended up with John Wayne Gacy or Delphine LaLaurie as parental material!  We all know what a wonderful, safe place the internet is, so let’s search it to find the perfect person to create a child with…….. OR NOT.

Mistake #4: AI is a medical procedure with inherent risk even when performed by a licensed physician.  Conception a la Turkey Baster at home is, how shall I say this – a “Bozo No-No”….. yeah that works…. The woman was fortunate in that her home performed procedure did not result in complications such as infection, peritonitis, sepsis, STD’s, or even death – and lead to a healthy baby.

I guess my bottom line here is that life isn’t fair.  We all have dreams that are unfulfilled; things we want to do that we cannot.  It is what it is, and we should try to make the best of it if we cannot change it.   The Kansas court rightly decided that the donor should be responsible for child support in that proper procedures were not followed by any of the adults involved regarding the insemination of the woman, or the subsequent support of the resulting child. The judge also quite correctly inferred that the child is the person who matters here.  Hopefully this will serve as a heads up to other couples deciding whether or not to have AI. If you want to be a sperm donor, please register and donate at a licensed medical facility. These steps protect you legally.  If your insurance doesn’t cover artificial insemination, save your pennies, consult a lawyer, draw up a binding contract that clearly spells out obligations and will be recognized in court, and use state approved and medically licensed facilities and personnel to perform the procedure.  Or alternatively – ADOPT. There are far too many children who need loving and supportive homes out there.  But that’s another story…..