September 28, 2018

Replacement Therapy

When I started this blog, I was 29 years old and living with my mom Linda, little sister Carolyn, and Piva the Great Dane. Saying things were difficult is putting it mildly. I had only been sober a couple years and was trying to get my life together, but not being loaded reminded me why I used drugs and drank to cope.

Many people have experienced hardships and survived without lasting trauma. I've read that even though PTSD is caused by events, one must also be genetically predisposed to develop it. That's why not everyone surviving the same tragic event will develop an anxiety disorder. Bipolar disorder is also genetic, but if someone has a relatively stress-free life, it will stay in remission. Same for alcoholics. If one never has a sip of alcohol, their alcoholism will remain dormant.

By that point, I had already been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD (with OCD traits) for several years already. Even with seeing specialists, taking my medications, and doing the work it takes to heal, I still struggled. The stress of my living situation was taking its toll on me. My mom drove me nuts because everyone's mom drives them nuts, Carolyn had Borderline Personality Disorder, and Piva was old and incontinent. I'm using past tenses because they have all since passed away. Piva got bloat in June of 2011, Linda died of ovarian cancer in July of 2016, and Carolyn committed suicide in October of 2017. (She swallowed a bunch of pills while I was in the hospital having Zach, and I wish she was alive for me to yell at her about her timing.)

The way I coped with our living situation was by laughing at it. I did odd things, made fun of them, and blogged about my antics. Turning the situation into a farce took away its power to destroy me. My mom loved my take on life because the situation was even harder on her. Now that I have a child of my own, I understand that.

Things didn't get any easier after I left. I was excited about a new path of spirituality and service, only to be sexually assaulted by one clergyman and groomed by another. To their credit (and their only credit) they confessed and validated my account after I reported it. My mom was diagnosed with cancer that day, and it spared me having to undergo an investigation, which in themselves are traumatic. It's among the many reasons why most people don't report sex crimes.

During this journey, further research was done about anxiety disorders, and a therapist and psychiatrist explained to me that often people mistake PTSD for bipolar disorder because the symptoms can be identical when triggered. In time, my diagnosis was changed, and I felt a mixture of relief and confusion. I had written so candidly about my experiences with bipolar disorder, and now it was like, "Oh. Never mind." It was an amplified version of the kind of embarrassment I felt when I kept calling an Asian male nurse "doctor" until the actual doctor arrived.

I stayed sober though. Throughout all of this, I've stayed sober. A week after giving birth, I went to the ER with a kidney stone and bladder infection. They gave me a shot of something strong for the pain, then later I went home with a prescription for ibuprofen. My only concern is that I haven't resumed AA meetings since moving to Pittsburgh, but that's being remedied as we figure out childcare and transportation. Having a baby suddenly makes everything exponentially more difficult. That's not an excuse though. My child deserves a healthy, happy, sober mother.

Nearly ten years after starting this blog, things are drastically different. My mom, Carolyn, and Piva have been replaced with Jason, his kids, and Zach. No one is crazy, which makes writing difficult. They are horrible muses. Once Jason and I got into a three-day argument about ghosts. That's as dramatic as it gets around here. 

Pile-Driving Me Crazy

Thanks to Jason, I know more about sports and sports entertainment than I ever wanted to. He loves football and the WWE and has a captive audience with me because I once read a one-sided piece of paper on listening skills. It was handed out in a tenth-grade meeting of peer counselors, and I still remember the gist. It basically says to listen without judgment or advice. Since then, I've discovered that most people know how to solve their own problems, it's just hard. When they're stumped, they'll directly ask for advice. Giving unsolicited advice comes across like "I think you're stupider than I am. Incompetent too." In any case, I've mastered the head nod. 

In return, Jason is a good listener but will text me a "Wrap It Up" GIF when the subject no longer interests him. 
Courtesy of the Chapelle Show
When I began writing again, I told him, and he said, "That's great!" Then I told him again, and he said, "Okay." Then I told him again and sent him the links, and he didn't say anything. When he got home, I asked him about it, and he said that he read them. Then a tumbleweed flew by. I got upset by his withholding of praise, so he said, "They were very good," which may as well been a hearty "Good for you!" I huffed off, and he called me back to thank me for recognizing Newark as the armpit of America. (Last year I tried to convince him that Western Illinois is.)
Western Illinois is just this for five hours.
Even if my blog was terrible, he should be reading it as a courtesy to my spending countless hours hearing about his emotionally abusive relationship the with Detroit Lions,
Jason was born and raised in Pittsburgh, so his fanship for the Lions must be some kind of masochistic fetish. 
and his speculations on The Undertaker's retirement. 
The other piledriving man in my life.
If I asked him to read my stuff, he would, but then I would lose my leverage when picking activities. I've already learned that the key to a happy relationship is accumulating leverage and using it properly.
I convinced Jason that the Lions always lose when Zach wears their fan gear. 

My Tweetheart

Even though I pick on Jason for not reading my blog, he plays my Twitter games without fail. That's how we met, through his playing my games. Among all those players, he stood out immediately because he's so damn funny.
Occasionally a picture of my son will pop up on the feed, or I'll get a notification that he mentioned me in a tweet. I regularly do a search to see recent batches of tweets about me and Zach. Here are some of my favorite ones in chronological order: 

This is from before we met, which makes me wonder if I fell for some kind of scheme:
These are from right before Zach was born:
Here's the birth announcement. This photo was taken twenty minutes after Zach was born:
Now our life with him. The days are long
but the weeks fly by: