Monday, October 30, 2017

Weight Loss Update

I am experiencing some troubling health symptoms and it is necessary that I pull my head out of the sand and take stock of what my health picture will look like in the near future if I don't take my situation seriously.

I've been making an effort to work out these past couple of weeks.  My weight loss stalled for quite a while .... didn't gain back any of the weight previously lost but didn't lose any more either.  Just stayed on a plateau.  Well, at the beginning of October I decided to make more of an effort...... and I lost 10 pounds this month.  And not without working up a regular sweat either! 

Monday, Wednesday and Friday are gym days.  Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are usually walking days.  Sometimes, I will miss the Saturday if the spouse isn't around because that is the day I go walking with him.  Sunday is the 'day off', but I normally putter around the garden so ..... still keeping moving.

As I am also a compulsive type, I have given over to cleaning the house from top to bottom far more than is necessary.  It helps to burn calories, I say.  I usually keep my OCD in check with the cleaning because I have driven my family members crazy in the past but .... all the kids are gone and the spouse is at work all day so I just have at it now.  If I want to clean the effing bathrooms every day, I will.

I am working from being a hoarder to becoming a minimalist.  My anxiety is triggered by having too much stuff around me and so I am aiming for hotel room/showroom aesthetics.  I also want to be able to move out of this house in one morning or to do a moonlight flit when the time comes.  I also don't want to leave a bunch of shit behind for my kids or spouse to have to clean up.  It is/was my mess and therefore, it is my responsibility to get rid of it.  My kids don't want any of this random stuff.  Yes, I am sure they will take the sofas, the TVs and the dining room table, not to mention the items in the fully stocked kitchen .... it's all stuff that has a good use.  But I'm sure they don't want out-of-style clothing, old DVDs, CDs and VHS tapes, or smelly candles/generic wall art/electric hair curlers.

I've been really busy cleaning, decluttering and burning calories.  It is a job without end it seems and usually I get quite sweaty at my travails.

I am at the lowest weight in years ..... which is to say, 207.  For my height, I am no longer obese, merely overweight.  I have been categorized as obese for years, however, which is not a good situation.  I have teetered on 250 in the not so distant past but I find it impossible to gain more than that.  250 seems (thankfully) to be a weight I cannot attain.  I guess I've never eaten enough to gain into the 250s and beyond.  There's the silver lining.

I am also trying intermittent fasting.  I like it.  My body likes it.  I am finding that hunger is quite well controlled while IF, no crazy sugar crashes because ..... sugar is a toxic substance.  When I eat sugar, I overeat.  Plain and simple.  My blood sugar goes haywire and I find myself constantly stuffing my face.  When sugar is cut out, weight loss is easier.  Duh.  Why does it always take me so damn long to figure this stuff out??

I will continue with my weight loss plans throughout November.  We have our usual family Thanksgiving dinner to prepare but this year, it will be vegetarian.  Many family members are cutting meat from their diets so I aim to please by not cooking a turkey or a ham this year.  We have prepared vegetarian TG dinners in the past and I am happy to get back to that ..... I find it easier overall to prepare the meal and clean up afterwards and I am all about ease and low hassle these days.

My goal is to weigh less than 200 pounds by the end of November which is a weight I haven't seen since 1996.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Disaster Preparedness

For the first time in over a week, our skies are blue.  We have had big problems here from smoke from the various wildfires burning out of control here in California.  The smoke gets stuck behind the mountains and becomes denser when there is no wind.  I have had a permanent cough, still coughing today, my neighbors aren't faring much better.  One set of neighbors had to leave town with their children as their eldest boy is asthmatic and his health was becoming seriously affected.

To my readers, I hope that none of you were affected by the horrendous firestorm in Northern California, specifically Santa Rosa.  Such devastation is impossible to fathom when it comes with such speed and seemingly from out of nowhere.  One house fire is bad enough.  Thousands of house fires is, to me, incomprehensible.  I cannot believe my eyes when I see the razed-to-the-ground remnants of what was once a vibrant neighborhood.  I know the region well.  I am a frequent visitor to the Bay area and surrounding region.  I cannot imagine how long it will take for the residents to rebuild their lives when so much was lost.

As a result, I have imagined our own lives here at home in the face of such terrifying and traumatic loss.  Many of those residents who were interviewed after the fact stated that they literally had to run for their lives.  They only had panic stricken minutes to decide what to take with them as they fled for safety.   Many people lamented the loss of their important personal documents, family photographs and heirlooms to the inferno, literally living through the worst case scenario.  I cannot imagine the feeling of utter helplessness.

What does one take from a home when there isn't any time to spare?  Fire, earthquake, floods .... anything can happen at any time to anyone.  Are we prepared here?  I can say honestly that we were not prepared here.  Even though we live on an earthquake fault line, knowing full well that a high magnitude quake could definitely level our town, we haven't made very good preparations.

There have been many instances of disastrous natural events here in California and across the nation and world but this one, in Santa Rosa particularly, has had a profound impact on us.  Probably because we know the city but also because we always thought we'd be safe living in the middle of an established neighborhood and community, never once thinking that under the right diabolical conditions, a fire could sweep through and burn everything in its path to the ground.  And for it to happen late at night and in the early hours of the morning when most people are sleeping, well ..... that is just the most heart wrenching scenario of all.

We spent the week deciding how to best organize ourselves and this is what we came up with:

One storage tub with lid for everything that relates to our personal and financial lives.  All documents are in this tub right now as opposed to being all over the house in different drawers and cupboards.  This one took a while because there was a lot of paper to sort through but we kept the relevant stuff and got rid of the rest.  The documents include the obvious: birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports, mortgage and house related paperwork, medical records, important statements, etc.   Checks, credit cards and $5000 in cash in an envelope are also in the tub, along with external hard drives and flash drives.  The drives contain family photos and financial information.

Now, we are deciding whether to pay for a safe deposit box at the bank and just put all this stuff in there.  A fire safe here at home sounded like a good idea until I read that many of those home safes just melted in the intense heat of the inferno.

Our plan to escape with our important stuff will only work if we are actually home at the time that an event occurs.  If our own house should catch fire while we are away, we will still lose everything.  If an earthquake hits and the house is reduced to rubble, I guess we'd be able to dig the tub out eventually .... I just don't know.  I start to think about this stuff and become awash with anxiety.

We have a plan for our pets too.  I purchased 2 lightweight hand-carry crates for our 2 cats.  We don't have any other pets and that is the way it will remain.  We are thinking along the lines of 'what if' and planning how to get out a little bit easier with the items/possessions/animals that we need to get out of the house.

I have accomplished a ton of decluttering, too, as a result of hoping to be a bit more prepared in the face of disaster.  I have donated never-worn coats, jackets and other clothing in the hopes that it will be of benefit to someone.  I have gone through every drawer and cupboard upstairs and emptied the lot.  My other plan is to nightly close all upstairs bedroom doors so that I know where I could reasonably expect to find our pets in the event of an emergency.  The less places for them to hide the better. 

The storage tub is now next to the garage door but of course there is never any guarantee that we will be able to necessarily grab it if we have to suddenly get out.  I'm not sure where the best place would be to put it.  By the garage door?  By the front door?  The back door?

What is everyone else doing to prepare for an evacuation?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

2017 FOOD SPENDING UPDATE

From my blog post dated 12/29/2016, complete with new updates:

12/29/2016 I totaled up our yearly spending and was surprised/not surprised to see that we spent $13,000 on food in 2016.  Obviously, we are too indulgent.  Sometimes, we have been too generous.  On those rare occasions that we went to restaurants to celebrate family events, we picked up the tab.  I don't mind picking up the tab but it seems that the people we go out to dinner with never reciprocate and I'm not OK with that any longer.  It's not OK to take us for granted, to assume that we are always going to pay.  Restaurants will be off the menu for the most part in 2017, unless the spouse and I are away on trips.

10/07/2017 Update
: Yes, we did indeed spend $13,000 on food overall in 2016 which, given the size of our family (2, sometimes 3, people) is, IMO, more money than we personally should have spent.  I tried to stick to the budget but, given the number of trips we've taken this year plus the spouse's heart surgery, etc., we have still visited restaurants.  When the spouse was away from home in the hospital, every meal was eaten either in a fast food joint or in a hospital cafeteria. We have done better lately as far as restaurant fare goes but, as I always say, my foibles continue to keep me at the 'work in progress' stage.  I still have difficulty saying no to myself.  However, there IS definite progress.  We have not spent anywhere near as much money in restaurants in 2017, which was a goal in itself.  Yes, we have picked up a couple of restaurant tabs this year during our trips but only for parties of 4.  Usually, us and one other couple.  This is a vast improvement on what has gone on in the many years prior, when the spouse and I would regularly pick up the tab for as many as 8 people (more even!), usually family members and SOs.  Of course, this new practice of ours of not eating (as much) in local restaurants has made us a mite unpopular and, because we usually refuse invites out to restaurants now for health reasons, no one invites us out anymore.  We are cheapskate pariahs!!  It can't be helped. Our bank account can't afford it and neither can our waistlines.


12/29/2016 I have been reading other people's blogs and their food spending is practically half of ours.  $7500 seems to be a figure to shoot for so, in 2017, my goal is to stay under $7500.

10/07/2017 Update
: If my calculations are correct, there are 12 weeks left in the year.  2017 is almost over.  How are we sitting with the $7500 budget?  We are currently $175.25 under budget but we will undoubtedly go over.  So far this year, over 40 weeks' time, we have spent:

$2133.52 restaurants (this includes all trips, hospital, etc)
$5191.23 groceries

Total spent $7324.75

12/29/2016 Our other spending for 2016 has been well within limits, no horrible surprises there.  Something has to be done though about the food and the eating.  Smaller portion sizes for sure, less alcohol, better meal planning.

10/07/2017 Update: Yes, we have been sticking to smaller portions, less alcohol and better meal planning.

All in all, not a bad update.  I'm happy with the reduced spending but will be trying harder in 2018.
  I will be setting a goal of $6500 in 2018 because I know we could've done better this year.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October .... My Favorite Month!

Afternoon, all.

The good news is .... I'm back from my trip to the east coast.  I had a great time with family and got to know a new place in a new state.  I really pushed myself on this trip, traveling day after day for miles.  It was exhausting but definitely lots of fun.

The bad news is .... I came back with a nasty cold virus that laid me low for a bit.  Better now.  I'm not surprised that I picked up the first cold virus I've had in years .... I didn't sleep well and pushed myself harder than I have in a long, long time.  I'm not a spring chicken anymore and boy, did my body let me know it.

Anyway, I'm back home and I've been cleaning up both the house and our finances.

After spending days eating in restaurants, the first thing I did when I was home (and well enough) was to inventory my kitchen.  I got rid of the last kitchen items I never use and, as a result, took a load more stuff to Goodwill this morning.  I now (finally and for the first time ever) have a functional kitchen with no hoarded crap ~ every thing in the cupboards, drawers and pantry has a use and a reason for being here.  For me, this is a first.  I have never been this organized before.

I became absolutely SICK of eating every single meal in a restaurant.  I won't go into the details as to why that happened but it did.  Well OK ..... the house I was staying in was not set up for visitors or cooking.  Let's leave it at that.  I was afraid of another bout of food poisoning after watching the way some of the food servers and cooks handled the food but, luckily for me, that didn't come to pass.  I vow not to eat in restaurants for as long as I am living in my own home with a perfectly fine kitchen in which to prepare food.  Thank you.

The spouse and I concocted a meal plan for the week and went shopping.  I haven't had any food waste around here since ... forever.  Everything either gets eaten or frozen.  I try not to bin anything.  I have stopped food hoarding too.  That was a tough one but I have been quite successful lately in not adding food to freezers that are already full.  For me, it's just not necessary now.  We have been eating our way through two freezers and both of those freezers are now looking a lot less full.  I'm trying not to panic!  #anxiety

As for our finances, things have never looked better.  I no longer shop and hoard.  Definitely not perfect but a helluva lot better than I was 10 years ago.  I have been emptying out our living areas and my house is starting to sound echo-y, like a cave.  Not sure that I like that but .... I just want the stuff gone.  I just want to see what I have and to USE it.  Tomorrow, I will de-junk a couple of closets.  I most certainly bought far more stuff than I could've used in several lifetimes, that's for certain.

Health wise, the spouse is doing great, recovered from surgery.  We are making plans to take up hiking and biking.  We both have weight to lose.  By far our biggest challenge right now.  I haven't gained back the weight I lost last year, so there's that...... but progress is lacking without a doubt.  That has to change.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sleepless In Mojave Part 342234

It's almost 1am and I'm unable to sleep.  Whenever I toss and turn in bed, I give it the better part of an hour and then, if I'm still wide awake, I get up and read or type.  That's what I'm doing now.  I have thoughts in my head and they need to come out.

1.  I went on the first of my 2 trips of the month.  It was a weekend out of town to a casino.  All I can say is, what a fleecing dump.  The room was definitely OK but the resort fee wasn't OK.  There was no mention of that on the website and so I ended up paying double what I thought I was going to pay.  Yes, we ate in restaurants and the prices were sky high.  $30 for mashed potatoes?  Count me out.  We got sick on our first night, I swear to g-d.  Everywhere we went, the goal was to separate us from our money.  Unbelievably expensive, way too hot, too many consumers, not much fun at all.  We drank, gambled, went to a club, went to a show, went shopping in overpriced shops.  The bloom is definitely off that rose.  It was boring.

2.  My adult child who is moving out of state for a job has been an absolute bear to be around.  I guess it's because of the apprehension involved in moving far away?  I don't know.  Spoiled, argumentative, snippy, rude, ungrateful.  I'm tired of it.  The spouse is far more patient than I am and takes this sort of thing in stride.  Me?  I go into orbit.  I am tired of other people's bullshit, family or not, and I refuse to be disrespected, a doormat.  I always put myself out for my kids.  I have already spent several thousands of dollars to make this move happen.  Were it not for the spouse and me, this kid wouldn't be able to go anywhere.  So, how about some gratitude?  I really am tired of the constant bullshitty attitude and cannot wait to pack up the car and wave goodbye.  Honestly, I am at the end of my rope with these kids of mine.  Obviously, I have made mistakes in their upbringing and they are probably as sick of me as I am with them.  But still, I have tried my best and we were very close once but they have moved away and I am hurt by some of the things that are currently going on.

3.  Our debate regarding selling the house vs. not selling the house goes on.  The spouse wants to sell up and hit the road but I can't make a decision.  Having already royally fucked up our finances in the past, I have now swung the other way and have become too careful.  The old reckless me has gone and it's apparent that I can't wish her back.  I keep telling myself to 'take the chance' and 'hope for the best' but that approach served me very poorly indeed and now I just can't take that chance.   Every time I think I have it all figured out, a wave of trepidation reminds me that the world is a very different place than it was 20 years ago.  My inability to make this decision is causing depression.

4.  Cat has moved to Las Vegas.  She grifted a car out of some acquaintance or other and, along with her drug addled friend, has moved to probably the worst place on the planet for someone like her to move.  This is probably going to turn into an even bigger shit show but the situation is out of my hands.  I hope she gets her life together before it's too late.  Time is running out (for us all).

5.  East Coast trip is coming up.  However, I have a lot to do here at home and the past 6 months have been a bit crazy around here.  Not much has been done.  I am looking forward to being back at home with nothing immediate on my calendar so that I can focus on cleaning and painting, putting in new floors and making some upgrades.  I just want to stay home for a while, just me and the spouse.  No adult kids living here, everyone living their own lives, financing themselves.  We need our own lives back now, we've been through enough.

6.  I no longer intend to lend anyone any money.  Family members have approached us recently for loans for surgeries and the like.  We have made a couple of loans that will need to be paid back.  People are going to have to fund themselves in the future.  We just made a loan to a family member who needed surgery but who has just returned from a vacation!!  WTF  What the hell was this person doing taking a trip when they knew that surgery was right around the corner?  There's that lack of respect again .... but I will say that we agreed to the loan before we knew about the vacation.  I have enough problems with family members right now without adding to the list so .... we went ahead and made the loan but I'm not happy.  I feel a bit used and abused.  I realize that I have allowed this to happen.

7.  This is the longest rough patch I have been through emotionally in a while.  I have a zero tolerance for bullshit and I have cut out an awful lot of awful people.  The past year has been really tough and I just want to say that I really, really, really wish I had listened to my gut and NOT gone back to England in 2016.  I made a huge mistake going back there and I am mentally still paying for it.

8.  Thank you for listening.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day: I'm Laboring

1.  I have had a horrible 3 days worth of bad mood and temper and the spouse says that I must go find some help for my depression.  I don't really feel that this is depression with which I struggle.  It is rage.  Therefore, I need to go find further help for my rage.  I went to a therapist a couple of years ago and it was OK but expensive.  I have spent some hours today online reading about treatments and therapies for dealing with rage and, judging from the comments section of some of these articles, dealing with rage can be a years long (life long, even) endeavor.  All I know is, I am becoming frustrated with my life as it currently sits.  I went to the UK a year ago and my rage level when I returned home was high.  A year later, it is now worse than ever.  No one seems to understand.  My children don't understand because they were never abused in the manner that I, my sibling and my mother were abused, although by far I was abused the most.  I am taking that fucking trophy.  I earned it.  I was the unwanted and unplanned child and I got it from both sides.  All sides. There is just no way I am ever going to overcome the lasting effects of my shitty start in life but I am going to have to find ways to manage the rage and anger now, before I turn into a total and complete witch that no one wants to be around.

2.  The 'failure to launch' adult child who moved back home with us after graduation from university earlier this year has landed a good job in a different state.  Thank all the gods.  Move out date is in one week.  The apartment has already been secured.  I am gathering together bits of furniture and housewares to furnish said apartment as the spouse and I have already anted up a fair chunk of change for this move and we don't want to spend any more money than necessary.  This is it for us now.  We will no longer have any adult children on the payroll as of October, when that first paycheck rolls in from the new job. I will miss this particular kid a great deal but this is by far the best and most favorite option: that he gets himself his own life.  I am not easy to live with and I'm having a hard time right now.  I need space and recovery, especially since the spouse's traumatic surgery was only 4 months ago.  I am hoping, praying that this job works out and that the kid will finally launch.

3.  One of my other kids is having money problems.  This kid is married but not on the same financial page as his spouse.  The spouse in question likes to spend and give money to extended family members and it is causing problems.  I wasn't aware of the situation until recently when they couldn't make rent.  I have already rescued them several times, even going so far as to let them move back home with us.  It was a nightmare then and it will be a nightmare now, hence no invitation to move back here has been extended this time.  My kids have got to learn to live within their means and by themselves without any help from us.  My DS is a highly skilled professional, making an excellent income.  However, as I always say, there is never enough money so ya have to learn to make do with what ya have.  If Michael Jackson can die $1 billion in debt, after having made $1 billion in his lifetime, what does that tell ya?  It's easy to spend every single cent and end up on the street, as I almost did 10 years ago.  I know how easy it is.  Anyway, let's just say that my DS and spouse are no longer living in their apartment and have moved in with a family member on the opposing team.  I'm staying out of it.

4.  A big part of my extreme mood swings right now is my sibling in the UK and her reports on the goings on with my parents.  Bear in mind that I have resumed receiving my news second hand from another extended family member because I am still completely unable to have a rational, productive conversation with my sibling at this time.  She makes me extremely angry with her drama queening.  My sibling is also filled with rage but doesn't realize it yet.  I was at that stage once, when I couldn't face the awful facts but I have moved way beyond that point now.  Speaking with my sibling sets me back YEARS emotionally and I just don't have the energy to keep 'going back there'.  I only want to move forward.  Therefore, Zero Contact must be enforced.  I digress. Apparently, the social worker is trying to place my mother in a nursing home and my father in a tiny flat in the town.  My father is having none of it.  Things have gone from being inert to full tilt in a matter of days.  I guess the moldy old dump that my parents have been living in for the past several decades really grabbed the attention of the medical community.  It is possible that the mold has caused major health problems for the both of my parents.  I have no idea how this is all going to play out because the subject of money (as in, how much money does my father have?) has raised its ugly head and the thought of whatever money he does have, disappearing into a nursing home to pay my mother's bills, has apparently caused some big arguments.  I'm staying out of it.

5.  What else?  I have 2 trips coming up fast.  A 3 day binge with the spouse for his birthday, health permitting.  He says he feels great but, to me, he looks tired.  Whatever we do, it will be low key but fun.  We need some fun.  And the opportunity to be alone and talk things over without ears listening in all over the house.  My other trip is a trip to the East Coast.  The spouse is staying home.  This will be the first time I have ever gone on a trip by myself.  I usually hate doing things by myself so I'm trying to look on this as an adventure, some personal growth.  Christ, being stunted from birth has been a real bitch for me.  I know for a fact that my brain has never been right, regardless of how funny that sounds!  I just know that my brain development as a newborn through the age of 5 couldn't have been normal.  How could it?  Shut away for years with a depressed mother and an enraged violent sperm donor, without playmates or much in the way of stimulation, out in the middle of fucking nowhere without a car!!  The neurons just didn't make the connections they should've made.   Considering that 90% of a child's brain is developed by age 5??  Yes, I have all the answers now as to why I am the way I am, and why I did the things I did all throughout my life.

"Brain development is the most significant from birth to age 3. The brain's capacity develops 90 percent before a child reaches age 5." <------ THIS.  How scary.  Well, at least I didn't turn into a serial killer ......

6.  A bright spot:  Our finances are healthy and I no longer hoard.  I don't even go shopping for crap anymore.  Just food.  I still have some residual items that I need to get rid of and I have promised myself that I will do just that when I return from my East Coast jaunt.  I have a tendency to allow small piles of stuff to develop around my house .... I have stuff on the dining room table, in the corner of our bedroom, in my laundry room, in the empty upstairs bedrooms .....  Nothing major but just little piles that I need to deal with once and for all.  The garage needs to be sorted.  I have promised myself that I will do all this in October, my favorite month.  A new beginning perhaps.  The next in a long line of 'new beginnings'.  Well, I can at least say that with every 'new beginning' I do actually make mental progress.  It is just SO SLOW.  Evidence of my poor brain function/organization?  Yes, probably.  There is brain damage here, I'm just not sure how to classify it.  Neglect and trauma in babies and young children definitely causes damaged wiring, that's a fact.

I'm going through a bad patch but I'll make it out.  Me and this wonky brain, we've spent a lifetime together, miraculously making it this far.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Saturday Night: Darkest Before The Dawn

“Always we hope someone else has the answer, some other place will be better, some other time it will all turn out. This is it; no one else has the answer, no other place will be better, and it has already turned out......"
- Lao Tzu

Time seems to be getting away from me.  I have spent the past couple of months assisting various family members in their 'Life and Health' endeavors, which has left me precious little time for myself.  I am hoping that will change come mid September and I'll be able to take a breath and focus more on the things that I need to be doing.

I need to reassess my health, my finances and my overall general situation in life, and I hope to be able to do that when I can sit down for a bit and work on some plans.  I have a couple of trips coming up, one to the east coast, so I need to get done with those first.

The heat and humidity here have been just unbearable of late, not to mention the various brush fires that keep producing choking smoke.  This year has been the worst of any of the years I have lived here in the Mojave desert for brush fires.  They seem to have become a constant factor in daily life and I am getting tired of it.  I'm not sure what's going on.  We are hearing sirens day and night although the police department have stated that we are not dealing with an arsonist.   Obviously, that thought has crossed minds.  Couple that with the humidity..... and there are days when I have felt murderous.

I have also been doing a bit of traveling.  The spouse and I visited Wyoming and Utah, looking for a possible retirement destination but I don't know ..... this mythical destination called 'retirement' isn't as magical as I'd imagined.  It is representing a stage of life that, honestly, I never thought I'd reach and I admit to having held it out as a sort of gilded carrot on a stick.  Now that the carrot is within grasp, I don't really want it.  Everywhere we visit, it's the same: the same big box stores, the same housing tracts, the same stressed and harried people, the same traffic. What is the point?

It's ridiculous but what I really want to do is to go back and redo the last 20 years!  That is how I am feeling tonight.  I've let this feeling build up and now it needs to come out into the light for study.  I would like to go back and finish some of the things I started but couldn't finish because of other people's needs and influences.

"I took a wrong turn back there somewhere."

Perhaps it is the constant togetherness that the spouse and I experienced for the 3 months following his heart surgery.  That was such a stressful event and for the time that ensued the surgery ..... I went on autopilot to be able to endure it.  He is doing great, by the way, completely re-engineered, as it were.  But there is trauma there.

As readers of my writings will know, I made some serious mistakes in the past with the family finances and with relationships outside of my family.  I allowed people in who should never have been allowed to set foot inside.  However, I have worked through those regrets and I feel that I have served my penance over the past 20 years.  I am not haunted by those constant feelings of regret anymore.  I have worked through those emotions.

So what is wrong?

I am feeling that life has passed me by and that there is nowhere to go from here.  The world has become even more of a dangerous place and I've left it too late to visit some of the places I really wanted to see.  The Japanese call this 'Paris Syndrome'.  One works and saves for years to be able to afford a luxury, blow-out, romanticized trip to Paris but, when faced with the reality that actually IS modern day Paris, the shock of that reality is too much to handle and deep depression sets in.  I think I am experiencing something akin.

.............

My father "tried to commit suicide" last month.  My sibling, in her particular impartial manner, says that he was seeking attention and is angry over the way my mother has cognitively declined.  Well, we all know that he didn't take care of our mother/his wife properly and that his laziness, ignorance and carelessness contributed mightily to this state of affairs but ..... suicide?  I don't believe it.  I find it hard to believe that he actually tried to off himself.  Sociopaths, as a rule, do not do that.

He chose his 78th birthday to do the deed.  My sibling texted, then called me in a dramatic panic as is her normal state, to inform me that I needed to jump on a plane forthwith and get my arse over to the UK ASAP.  Not given to taking orders from my dysfunctional UK family, and already serving out a Zero Contact mandate, I informed my sibling that I would be doing no such thing as my plate is already full on this side of the pond with my own immediate family affairs.  This, of course, went down like the proverbial lead balloon. I was surprisingly calm and matter of fact.  There was no argument, tears, cursing or stunned silences.  Nothing would surprise me with this lot and their machinations to continually assault my emotions and so I treated the situation as just that.

My father had apparently taken an overdose of sedatives that had been prescribed for my mother's sundowning and my sibling found him with an old rusty shotgun across his lap.  The spouse remembered that my father had hidden this gun in the attic and, obviously, the leaking roof hadn't done it any favors and it probably wouldn't have fired anyway.  But .... really?  Was this the way he planned to exit?  An ambulance was called and arrived 2 hours later.  My father was admitted to the hospital, evaluated, deemed incapable of looking after himself let alone our mother/his wife, and plans have had to be made for our mother's care.  My sibling says that our mother is so far gone that she doesn't know who or where she is.  That breaks my heart.

A social worker entered my parents' house with my sibling to evaluate conditions and promptly filed some sort of emergency report with the County.  Apparently, someone finally noticed that my parents were living in a hell hole filled with spider webs, insects, no heat or hot water, broken windows, a broken toilet and extremely high levels of mold.  Then I began to get angry.  These are all the things I tried to fix a year ago with no help from my highly manipulative yet ineffective sibling and her scheming husband.  They only want whatever money is left from the estate. 

Whenever I have to deal with that bunch of dysfunctional fuckers in the UK, the end result is that I make myself ill with stress and rage.

Yes, I am finally allowing the deep, buried rage to work its way out now and it hasn't been pretty.  It has tried to force its way out for years but different lids - shopping, spending, FOOD, booze, hash, destructive people - have served as distractions.  I've never really dealt with my rage but I know it's there.  As I no longer employ distractions, I am dealing with my rage head on.

Most of the time these days, I confine my violent hissing outbursts to when I am alone but unfortunately I haven't been able to always control it around other people and my family have come in for it just lately.  My temper has really been a bitch.  I used to read or hear about other people being 'filled with rage' and would wonder what that truly felt like because I self medicated so much.  I never wanted to acknowledge that I myself am filled with rage, never wanted to fully admit to it but it's true.  I know what real rage feels like and I hope it will burn off over time.  It's an extremely violent reaction that comes up from deep within and anything can set it off but the person who sets it off the most for me is my father, closely followed by my sibling and her bullshit.  For this reason, I absolutely CANNOT return to the UK to visit my blood family - no matter what - because there will never be any resolution of this destructiveness by, from or with the people who caused it.  We will never, ever be whole and there is no use in my pretending otherwise.  It's DONE.

Christ, when will this turmoil be over?  When will I be able to finally feel that I am a 'normal' person??  I am afraid that I will never know what it feels like to be truly happy.  My life seems to be a continual round of dealing with one stressful situation after another.  Honestly, I am strong and I am a survivor but this is testing me royally.

In one of my rages last week, the spouse blew his top and shouted "When will this be over?"

I thought for a second and replied desperately, "When my father is dead!  When my father dies, I will feel like....... Free at last!  Free at last!  Thank god almighty I am free at last!"  That is truly how I felt then and how I feel now.  Of course, I've borrowed MLK's quote ...... and it was said off the cuff, with such powerful conviction on my part with fists raised in the air, wild eyed and felt right through to my very core with a flash of hope in that belief ....

....that the spouse looked at me as though I had lost my mind.  I meant every word. I need to be free of this mental and emotional oppressor.  The man who gave me life but who yet resented me every day of every year for as long as I was forced to live with him, who would threaten to take that life away and bury me in the back yard under the dahlias .... what other trauma did I endure as a child that remains stored, unremembered by me yet indelibly stained within my psyche? 

I am a damaged individual, to say the least.

I am a constant work in progress.

Some weeks I feel as though I'm breaking through, other weeks I feel as though I'm breaking down.