Five Days Gone Forever

I’ve never been much on religion or fate or astrology. I’ve dabbled in all three at different points in my life and eventually abandoned them all and just lived day to day thinking that everything that happens simply happens with no rhyme or reason. Then something happened that makes me question that theory. I don’t know which of the three was in control of the situation (or maybe something else entirely) but something bigger was calling the shots to make everything fall into place perfectly. There are just too many coincidences for this to all have happened on its own.

About five months ago, I was in the middle of a horrible break-up. We had decided to go our separate ways and I was looking forward to spending some alone time to focus on my three year old son and  myself for a change. I had reconnected with a very special person from my past and we agreed that we would see one another but take things very slowly and get to know each other again after nearly  30 years.

This special man and I had seen one another three times when I collapsed on the floor out of nowhere and wouldn’t wake up. He called an ambulance and searched through my cell phone for family to call. I was taken to the hospital and placed in ICU. For days I slept and the doctors couldn’t figure out why.

While I slept my family and friends all gathered together at the hospital. Family that I hadn’t spoken to in years, friends that cared more than I was aware of and old friends from high school that I hadn’t seen in years poured in to wait together for a verdict  on my condition. There were wars and reconciliations as well as accusations and apologies and I slept through it all. I slept long enough for all these people to settle their differences and talk out their issues. They all had the opportunity to see from their own perspective that I had a lot of people who cared about me in their own way.  They were able to see the role I played in each of their lives and when I finally woke up, I was also able to see how important I was to each of them.

Eventually the doctors were able to diagnose bacterial meningitis and began to treat me accordingly. After five days, I opened my eyes. There were a lot of after effects that I had to deal with and five months later, I am still recovering. That special man never left my side and has turned out to be the man I’ve been looking for all my life. He just happens to be the man that my parents didn’t approve of when we were kids, but they were given the opportunity in those five days to get to know him and see how much he cared for me. He came home with me from the hospital and took care of me until I was able to take care of myself.

I gained so much from the whole experience. I now have a relationship with my mother and brother and because of that, I have a lot more contact with my oldest son. My family was able to talk to the people that have been closest to me over the last several years and to know that I have been responsible and thoughtful and worked hard to be a good mother to my little guy…and I had worked hard to do the right things for my oldest son as well. I also gained an appreciation for life and the little things that I never noticed before. I realized the importance of slowing down and taking time for myself and taking care of myself.

I lost a lot along the way as well. Most of which I am getting back slowly over time but some things may be gone forever. I look back now and see how far I’ve come in just five months. When I left the hospital, I had problems using KathyV2013my hands, words wouldn’t come easily, my thoughts were slow, I walked on a walker and I slept most of the days away. Now I am back at work full time, I have use of my hands and my legs and I’m back to a somewhat normal sleep pattern. My words have come back and my thought processes are still speeding up. I think I’ve regained most of my mind but it seems to work differently now. That is something I will learn to work with over time.

I also lost five days of my life that I can never get back. That is emotionally very hard to deal with. The ‘not knowing’ of what really happened and having to rely on what I’m told from each person’s point of view. I gained so much from the whole experience that in the end it doesn’t really matter what happened. It only matters that it happened and it changed my life forever.


Decades of Reality

When I was a kid, wrestling was a big thing in my house. We all gathered ’round the television to see who was going to beat who up and who was gonna finally agree to that cage match that everyone wanted to see. The adults encouraged the kids to imitate their favorite wrestler and the kids practiced their pile drivers in the back yard with no mats or pads. We all thought it was real. These guys loved and hated one another and the drama was so intense that we just couldn’t miss a single chance to see what would happen next. Then it all came crashing down. I was too young to remember exactly what happened to expose the whole thing, but it was scripted. Imagine that! Wrestling was scripted! At that point, the whole thing began to move down on my family’s priority list when we turned on the television. Over the years we each individually stopped watching it all together. It was fake…and we just couldn’t be bothered with a bunch of fake stuff.

Nearly three decades later, I find myself glued to reality TV…but it’s different now. Looking back, it’s absolutely amazing to me that technology has gone so far that once the Big Brother or Survivor or Amazing Race season is finished, I can get on Twitter or Facebook and actually talk to the people I watched for months. I can have real conversations with them and get some insight into how they go about moving on with their lives after their show. A large majority of them really are ‘real’ people and do have an appreciation of their fans. Many of these people are given opportunities for new careers and travel after their time in the spotlight and some choose to go back to their normal lives. In most cases, they keep some type of contact with ‘their people’ in varying degrees.

It’s particularly interesting to find someone who is a few years out from the experience and has moved on with a somewhat normal life. One example is Natalie Cunial from Season 9 of Big Brother. Keep in mind that for three months, I watched her brush her teeth every morning, strategize in bed every night and everything in between. So, even though I didn’t find her until a few years after the show had aired, it was like I knew her. It was like finding a friend on Facebook that you thought you’d never see again. The strange thing was, she didn’t know I existed…and I’m just another ‘friend’ on her massive list of people who took an interest in her life. Natalie is an amazing artist and has just given birth to her first baby. She and I have spoken a few times about pregnancy and being a new Mom. I’m sure she’s spoken to thousands of people just like me but that’s the thing that draws me to these shows. She is real. Even though I realize that Big Brother is at least partially scripted, Natalie is a real person and somehow felt enough of a connection to her fans, who she had never seen, that she has kept in touch and continues to let us care about her and her life.

There are others active on Facebook and Twitter, who have a show currently airing. Speaking to them is just a little different. They won’t generally tell you that they are under contract to keep certain secrets until they hit prime time, but you just know by the way they clam up when you ask certain questions. CBS is currently airing the 26th season of Survivor and among the castaways, you’ll find a few Facebook junkies. My favorites, John Cochran and Dawn Meehan are both actively speaking to a few thousand of their closest friends on a regular basis as we all learn a little more about their fate in the game each week. Phillip Sheppard, Malcolm Freberg and Brandon Hantz are also on my ‘friends’ list and I have spoken to each of them very briefly.

Even though I know that scripts do come into play with these shows, I also know that after the show life goes on for these people…unscripted life. Just like everyone else, they have good and bad times…joy and sadness. They are real and many of them don’t hide their ‘realness.’ I can’t imagine what it must be like to get online everyday and speak to a few thousand of your closest friends but I’m sure it’s a great comfort in the hard times to have a few thousand people send their well wishes. We all want someone to care…and that’s something that hardcore reality fans just do. We care.


Fear!

Maybe I’m a little slow but I’ve just figured out that fear is the reason for absolutely every decision I make. I don’t just mean decisions about what food to eat or locking my doors at night. I mean absolutely every decision I make!

I get out of bed in the morning because I’m afraid if I don’t, I’ll not get to work on time and I’ll lose my job which will open up a whole new can of fears. Everything I do to get ready for work in the morning is based on this fear of losing my job. I’m afraid that if I wear sweats and flip flops, things could go downhill quickly with the boss. Then if I don’t drive a certain way, I could have/cause an accident and not get to work on time.

I drive on the right side of the road for fear that I could hurt myself or someone else. I make coffee when I get to work not only because I want some, but also because I know it will help with my shining disposition and the thought of an outburst at work is simply terrifying. I sit at my desk a certain way, for fear that my feet and legs will hurt when I get up if I sit wrong. I pick my son up at preschool on time everyday, for fear that he might get kicked out because of me and that can be disastrous on many levels.

Fear is such a tiny little four letter word that means so much. It comes from everything around me and I subconsciously react to it with all of my senses and most of the time, never really realize that I’ve actually made a decision. Kind of like not touching the hot burner on the kitchen stove. I don’t think about it but it’s just something I don’t do automatically for fear of being burned.

With all  this built in fear of the little things, how sad is it that while all of this is going on, there are forces in the world who constantly and deliberately bring even more fears to my attention? I’m talking about the media, the drug companies, advertisers in general, politicians, preachers, and the list goes on and on.

I have to eat Activia every day or my pipes will get backed up and I need a glass of red wine to keep “the cancer” away. I need this pill for this and that pill for that and If I don’t take my calcium my spine could disintegrate and then where would I be? I have to stay healthy because all the terrorists are coming to kill us all and I have to be strong enough to fight! Well, at least until late December because the Mayans have told us that the world is going to end and I should really prepare myself for that too. I only have a little over a month to make sure that my afterlife is taken care of and I won’t be stuck in some horrible place for eternity with no access to my Activia, wine and calcium.

No wonder I’m such a mess!


My Own Personal Holiday Hell

It’s happening a little early this year for some reason. I can’t quite pinpoint the trigger but my usual holiday depression is setting in and I feel myself slowly slipping away. Sometimes I wonder if it only comes because I expect it. I fight it every year and somehow manage to survive. Some years are easier than others and some years I pay a little visit to the doctor to get some help for a few months.

Well, I’m sick of it! I’m suspicious of the reason that it comes back year after year and I’m beginning to believe that my methods of coping are the culprit. So, this year, instead of stuffing it all down, ignoring it, denying it, turning the pain into something else…I think I need to try owning it instead. For once, admit it, pay attention to it, take it out and lay it on the table and just look at it.

I’m actually a little afraid to face it all but I think it’s necessary. I just don’t want to live the rest of my life knowing this will happen every year and knowing in the back of my mind that there is the possibility of making it stop.

So, prepare yourself. This could get very ugly.

 


My Secret Place

I’m lucky enough to have a job that allows me to get up and just disappear when things get tough. I don’t vanish for hours and hours and I certainly don’t hide to have a nap. Sometimes it only takes five or ten minutes away from it all to get my head together and get back on track.

Somehow I discovered just the place to make this all happen and for a long time I didn’t understand why it worked for me. Just outside the back door of the building where I work, there is a little grassy patch that has been invaded by clover. It’s not a glamorous place. It’s probably about a three feet by three feet patch of grass between the sidewalk and the building that overlooks a parking lot. The electrical meter hangs on the brick wall just above it but that particular area is not viewable from any window in the building and even though the roar of the traffic from a busy highway is undeniable, it’s still very tranquil for me.

Now and then, like today, I’ll take a walk to my secret spot, kick off my Pay-Less shoes and sink my toes into that bed of clover. It just does something to me. I can’t explain it. Just a few minutes of tromping through clover and breathing in and out settles my nerves and helps me get focused.

cloverI didn’t know why it worked, but it did. So, when things got rough, I would just go out there and hold my little ritual without questioning it. Then a few months ago, a childhood friend sent this picture to me and it all made sense. She and I had grown up next door to one another and with her parents still living in the same place, it was convenient for her to buy the house I grew up in. She sent this picture of the clover that grows in what is now her front yard. It’s the same patch that she and I sat in as children and just did all those kid things that you do on long, lazy summer days. Funny how you don’t consciously remember things like that but your mind and body never forget.

The weather is beginning to cool and soon it will be too cold to expose my toes to the elements. Now, instead of having to cope with the day to day grind without my clover, I’ll just set this picture as my PC wallpaper and remember those days so many years ago with my friend when neither of us had a care in the world.


“Sandy” As Cheap Entertainment

I think most people from time to time wish they could lock themselves in the house and never have to deal with other people again. I’d like to think that would make me feel better and lower my stress level considerably. We all know that is not very realistic. We still have to make money to buy the necessities in life and to pay for that roof and four walls we’ve surrounded ourselves with. Besides, I don’t think it would take very long before those walls started to close in on me and cabin fever would set in. My stress level would probably double at that point and totally defeat the purpose.

Normally, I tend to think this way when someone or just general circumstances in life become hard to deal with. I have recently found myself feeling just the opposite. Lately, I have had a “difficult person” in my life but instead of wanting to just stay away, I find myself wanting to be around more and more. It has become a form of entertainment for me.

This person, we’ll call them…oh, I don’t know…. “Sandy”….like the squirrel from the Sponge Bob Squarepants cartoon, because that is what happens to be on my son’s television at the moment.

Like the cartoon Sandy, this one is actually very intelligent and capable of doing what needs to be done and figuring out how to deal with more than your average day to day problems. The thing is, this Sandy loves to manipulate people, lie when it isn’t necessary and keep drama rolling at all times. All Sandy’s energy and brain power is devoted to these things rather than just simply taking care of the everyday tasks and solving normal daily problems. I’m sure it’s all very exhausting.

I’ve learned that there are very simple rules in dealing with people like Sandy. First you have to keep your nose clean and make sure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. Cross all your  T’s and dot all your I’s and by all means, re-check yourself often. Second, watch your back every second of the day. Never just assume that everything will be okay because people like Sandy can strike when you least expect it. Finally, the third rule is to be sure to give them plenty of rope with which to hang themselves. Then sit back and watch the show. All this checking and re-checking and watching your own back, does take a little extra energy, but it is necessary and the payoff is usually worth it all.

The Sandy’s of the world are a very interesting breed to observe. They seem completely oblivious to the tangled mess they make of their own lives in the process of deliberately trying to hurt someone else. They usually believe that they are winning the “game” until the very second before their whole charade is finally exposed.

If you happen to be the target of their deceit, take it as a compliment because they only attack people that they see as a threat in some way. Maybe they think you are smarter or more capable of something that they want for themselves. Maybe they envy you in some way. Sometimes they just want to get rid of anyone intelligent enough to see through their lies.

So, instead of Sandy making me want to turn into a complete hermit, she has accomplished just the opposite. I am beginning to very much enjoy the show. Who doesn’t like seeing justice served?


Mommy Memories

This is the second time in my life that I’ve had the pleasure of contending with a two year old on a day to day basis. I love it but it’s tough sometimes. Every now and then I’m given a hard situation that, on hindsight, will be one of the funny memories I’ll keep close to me forever. My super awesome two year old, Gavin,  handed me one of those moments last weekend and I find myself thinking of it now with a chuckle.

Here’s a little history in the situation:

Gavin’s Dad is pretty open minded when it comes to letting him play with things that bump the borders of the gender line. He has a pink Minnie Mouse blanket just because he likes Minnie and a friend gave him a tiny baby doll that he carries around like “his baby.” Lately, it seems he’s been gravitating more toward the “girlie” things and I think it’s beginning to wear on Dad a little. So, when we changed daytime caregivers and all the toys came home from “Grandy’s” house this weekend, Dad was a little taken aback by the little dark haired barbie doll in the princess dress he found in Gavin’s bedroom. I explained that he had found it in some of Grandy’s things and started calling it “Princess P” after one of his favorite characters, “Princess Presto” from a PBS television show. It wasn’t a “doll” to him. It was a television personality.

So, Saturday morning, I went into Gavin’s room to get his day started to find him sitting in the middle of his bed. “Princess P., Mama!” flew out of his mouth and he pointed to the barbie laying naked with no arms in the middle of his bedroom floor. “Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?” became the chant and I soon realized it would be chanted over and over again until Princess P was reunited with her arms…and her dress.

For the nearly twenty minutes that followed, this chant when on. I thought my ears would bleed. I searched absolutely everywhere for her severed arms. I asked him where they were and he just kept chanting.

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

I looked through books and stuffed animals and toy boxes. I searched under the bed and behind the dresser.

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

Finally I found, the left arm in the corner between the bookcase and the wall. It was obvious to me that he had ripped them off and thrown them.

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

I moved the bookcase to look behind it, but still no right arm. I searched his room inch by inch and finally in the opposite corner of the room, under Chuck the Dump Truck, I found the right arm!

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

I feverishly began cramming arms into tiny little sockets and tried not to pop them back off in the process of shoving her back into her princess dress.

“Arms gone, Arms gone! What to do? What to do?”

The moment the Velcro reattached on the back of her dress and just short of my skin falling off my bones, the chanting stopped. All was once again well with the world.

I took a deep breath and sat in the floor with him to have a talk about respecting our “friends” and how we shouldn’t rip their limbs off to throw to the far corners. That’s just not what friendship is all about. I can only hope the lesson he took from that day was something  more than: “Chanting the same thing over and over, makes Mommy move really fast and get things done!”


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