My World

I am stronger than I look. Or act most of the time…

I have been phobic about people vomiting. I don’t mean that I find it gross or even scary. I mean the terrified, body quaking, I would rather die than face it, type of phobia. The type of phobia which has made me seriously consider becoming a hermit so I never have to be around other people who may vomit. I mean phobic with a capital P, H, O, B, I, and C.

Also, for as long as I can remember, I have a healthy dose of generalized anxiety. Sometimes that is so bad I feel like vomiting, which combined with my phobia can make me spiral faster than beyond comprehension.  I can have anxiety attacks anywhere, anytime. Put me out of my comfort zone and it is almost always a given.

Both of these make traveling with others extremely uncomfortable for me, probably made worse since I was the youngest child and always had to sit on the uncomfortable hump in the back seat of the car in between my brother and sister who both got car sick, usually on me. I can drive myself cross-country without a problem. Put another person in the car who may become ill and it becomes one hell of a cardio workout. The older I got the worse it became.

So for a little over a year, Ron and I started taking more day trips to get used to me traveling with others, gradually expanding how far we would go, culminating in 4 long trips because we discovered that I would drive almost anywhere to hike and see spectacular waterfalls.

Waterfalls put life into perspective for me. They make me realize that the world is not about us as individuals. They have been around for years and will continue their path with or without us as long as we don’t interfere with the natural course. They come in all shapes and sizes, but all are stunning in their own way.  I relate to waterfalls because they look so serene on first glance, but have much turmoil going on and are a force to be reckoned with.

It went well and we have had a blast desensitizing my phobia and anxiety. The true test came yesterday on our way home from our latest trip viewing 25 waterfalls. My worst fear came true. Ron got sick 7 hours from home. I quickly worked out a system that when he had to heave, the music got cranked up because it is really difficult to pilot a vehicle at 70 mph around Cincinnati with your fingers plugging your ears. He got the experience of heaving to Motown’s Oldies and I got to face my greatest fear and come out stronger knowing there is nothing I cannot do if the will is there.

So I am already planning our next trip because I refuse to let this fear win.  Plus, I found 8 more waterfalls within 6 a six-hour drive so if he gets sick again I still save an hour of listing to Baby Love at full volume. Not that is a horrible thing.

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If Only Our Lives Were As Fun As We Make Them Seem on Facebook

I had a conversation with a woman who is depressed because she felt her life didn’t measure up after reading posts from friends on Facebook.  I pointed out how often Facebook updates don’t portray how life is, only what you want someone to see.  It is more like a photo album with snapshots you want people to see.  Most of the time people don’t post the awkward, embarrassing, and down-right humiliating snapshots and choose glamor shots.

*Note: you do not need to remind me of the pictures I posted when I was a magic pink cow, drugged up in a dentist chair, etc.  I am using an analogy here.

I described a few times I posted something humorous even while I was literally in tears over something deeply painful.  Sometimes because humor helps me deal with pain, but also because I never lose my warped sense of humor matter how badly I am hurting.  Basically, it gave me a moment of relief.

I told her I have left out details from some events and focused only on the positive since that was the overwhelming experience.  Like last week when I posted about our fabulous trip to Brown County.  It WAS a fabulous time.  But due to lack of space and what I wanted people to focus on, I didn’t mention the full-fledged-I’m-going-to-die/wish-I would-die-because-it-would-be-less-distressing panic attack I had on the way home.  30 minutes of hell did not wipe out more than 12 hours of bliss.

I failed to mention that when I don’t post for a few days, it is often because I am processing (obsessing) on a situation I am dealing with, but sometimes it truly is because my life is fairly boring.

**Note: Yes, I am an adult child of an alcoholic.  Uses jokes to defuse, anxiety, tendency to isolate, and all those other flags you therapists are reading.  Let’s leave that for another blog some other day.

Comparing your life to a person’s Facebook posts in no way compares your life to theirs.  Yes, some people do appear to have a better whatever, but there are many more struggling.  We all have highs and lows.  Life isn’t about using a score card.  If you are not content with your own life, make changes, but don’t change to live up to another person’s expectations or you will only disappoint yourself.

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I Support Love

I have sent e-mails, made phone calls, and written a couple of brief letters opposing HJR 3, the proposed Constitutional amendment defining marriage in Indiana.  This is the letter I am sending today:

Dear _________,

I am writing, yet again, to voice my opposition to HJR-3 the proposed amendment to Indiana’s Constitution.  Honestly, I am baffled why this debate is dragging on and more baffled as to how it came to be in the first place.

Our legislators swear an oath to support the Constitution.  This may be slightly embarrassing for the original authors of HJR-3 (P. Eric Turner, Timothy Wesco, Wes Culver, and Rhonda Rhoads), but I am not convinced they have read the document and understand what they are supposed to be upholding.  Of course, the fact that the amendment made it this far means there are many other legislators who may not understand.

Perhaps it is my ignorance.  If so, please explain to me in layman’s terms how this amendment is not violating Article 1, Bill of Rights, Section 23: “The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.”

As a heterosexual woman married for over 28 years, I can vouch that my marriage has provided me with privileges, including tax breaks and protections under the law. Privileges I did not have during the two years we cohabited prior to marriage.

“Strengthening” our constitution to uphold our law, IC 31-11-1-1, which states: “A marriage between persons of the same gender is void in Indiana even if the marriage is lawful in the place where it is solemnized.”, appears to be a CYA maneuver. It is true that I am an idealist, but I expect more from the people elected to represent their constituents.  I want them to protect all citizens and not be in a CYA mode.

To exclude citizens based on their sexual orientation is as equally appalling to me as excluding citizens for any other trait inherited at conception.  We no longer have laws against interracial marriages or preventing those with disabilities from marrying.  It is beyond me why it is still okay to exclude other traits.  Our state law is bad enough, reiterating it in the Constitution is an abomination.

From my earliest memory, I knew I would one day marry a male.  Even before my first kiss with a boy at age 5, I knew.  Although I did hold hands with other girls far more often when youth status allowed it to be socially acceptable, I was never attracted to girls, but I knew other girls who were.  From talking with friends who are homosexual, they had the same experience, just in reverse.  There is no question in my mind that sexual orientation is determined at conception.

The only arguments I have heard supporting our law and proposed amendment:

  • 1. The need to uphold the sanctity of marriage
  • 2. Religious views.

Let me know if I am missing other arguments.  If there is some bizarre twist that would take away some of my current privileges as a heterosexual woman, know that I am okay with that as long as it is applied equally to all citizens.  Until I hear back from you, I will address the arguments I am aware of.

I am confident that recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples will not influence the sanctity of my marriage.  Despite being reasonably presentable, not one lesbian has ever tried to recruit me to the other side.  Even if the laws relaxed and they began, I would not be interested because I was born heterosexual.  And the sanctity of marriage is totally questionable anyway since I was able to get ordained on-line in 30 seconds and can legally marry people.  Trust me when I tell you that the fact that I can sanctify a marriage is hysterical.

As for the religious views supporting the law and proposed amendment, I am going to refer back to Indiana’s Bill of Rights:

  • Section 2. All people shall be secured in the natural right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD, according to the dictates of their own consciences.
  • Section 3. No law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.

I REALLY love Section 3!  Go ahead and read it again.  There are many religions that support same-sex marriages.  However, I do not know of one that embraces adultery, so if you want religious reasons to dictate laws and the Constitution, why don’t you focus time, money and energy on that issue.  Create a law that prohibits adulterers from ever marrying again.

If our legislators are not courageous enough to uphold our Constitution and feel the need to let the voters decide, at least we can be thankful for Section 36 of the Bill of Rights: “Emigration from the State shall not be prohibited.”

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The Easy Life: Lessons you can learn from your appliances.

Our spare refrigerator has been making a noise since last night.  I was trying to decide if I should bother with a repairman or buying a new one because of its age.  The noise was becoming intolerable so I needed to do something.  Using my zero experience with appliance repair, I opened the door and looked inside.  I could not make any diagnosis by looking at the soda so I opted to try the freezer.

When I opened the door to the freezer and the noise was even louder which told me I was at least closer to being able to tell the general area of the mechanical problem I would know nothing about.  I moved a container a fraction to stare daggers at the back of the freezer in the direction of the offending noise.  The noise stopped.  Whether it stopped making the noise from the container vibrating or my death stare, does not matter.

What matters is that I am feeling smug about my obvious untapped skills, grateful not to have to spend any money, and incredibly humble that I have a spare refrigerator that I was fretting over.

Seriously?!  I am fretting over a second refrigerator that we use to store soda.  If I could not fit the soda in our main refrigerator, I could easily and safely walk to purchase some anytime.

Meanwhile a friend of mine is desperately trying to raise money to buy safe stoves for women in refugee camps.  Currently women in Darfur risk being raped to gather the firewood necessary to cook for their families.

I have known Mastora Bakhiet, founder of Darfur Women Network, for several years.  She is one of my sheroes.  Since she came to America she has tirelessly worked to improve the conditions of women back in her home country.  She gathers basic necessities and does speaking engagements to educate about the plight of the women and children still living in fear.  She does all of this as a volunteer because she knows how fortunate she is to have made it out alive.

She has a deadline of September 30th to raise $5,000 in order to stay on the Globalgiving website.  Please consider a donation if you are grateful that your problems just are not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of life.  Your donation is tax-deductible and as a bonus I will come and give your appliances a death stare at no charge if needed.

Mastora Bakhiet

Mastora Bakhiet

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My sister died this week.  It was a shock because it was sudden, yet not.  We all knew she would die relatively young and it was a bit surprising she made it into her fifties.  The official cause of death is a heart attack, but she was an addict for more than 40 years including up to the day she died.

I’ve spent hours processing her life this week trying to find the meaning and purpose of why I was born to be her sister.  Wondering why her life was so much more difficult than mine and wishing it had not been.  Desperately trying to focus on the good.  As siblings leading vastly different lives our relationship was contentious.   She called me names when I tried to help.  She called me names when I set boundaries when I knew I could not help.  We did not cut each other any slack because we were siblings.  Through it all I knew we both wished things were different.

I was nine when she ran away the first time. She slipped in and out of our lives for the rest of hers. The contacts usually fell into two categories: when she needed something or when she thought she had it back together.  Each time she tried to build a relationship.  I don’t remember when I gave up hope that she would change, but I know that I eventually mentally checked out of the sibling relationship.  The last conversation I had with her still had the element that she wanted us to be sisters again.  Given the circumstances, I don’t regret that I could not, but after all my pondering this week trying to focus on the good, I can say there is no question in my mind that she loved all of us to her greatest capability.

Perhaps the reason I was born to be her sister is so that she could teach me not to judge the less fortunate.  All my adult life I see the homeless, the addicts, the mentally ill and I see my sister.  I see people with stories, families and worth.  Perhaps the reason I was born to be her sister is for her to teach me another lesson about the resiliency of the human spirit.  Regardless of her mistakes and against the odds, she kept trying.  Those are lessons I can share and hopefully teach people to have compassion and help even one person who is struggling be able to overcome the odds.

Michele is at peace now and I wish the same for those that loved her.

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