Parental Shaming

I am a huge fan of the TV Show New Amsterdam. I’ve loved it when it first aired and have loved it ever since. This is their third season, and it is riveting! I am a medical show aficionado ever since the show “Emergency” in the 70s. I’ve watched just about all of them, although I never really got into Grey’s Anatomy which really is more of a soap opera.

I watched Marcus Welby, MD, Quincy ME, St. Elsewhere, Doogie Howser, Diagnosis Murder, Scrubs, E.R., House, Chicago Med, Code Black, The Good Doctor… so many. New Amsterdam is set in a hospital in Canada.

What is different about this show is that they don’t sugar coat ANYTHING. They deal with many issues that regular people struggle with, and they show it in all it’s raw emotion. From losing staff because of COVID-19, to a beloved doctor who had COVID 19 and dealt with the damage to his heart. Doctors and nurses and psychologists grappling with things like addition, body issues, PTSD. It’s not depressing at all. It shows that the struggle is real, and the pain is real, and it’s okay to show emotions. It walks the audience through what the character is dealing with and it’s so real! So inspiring! It is by far my favorite show of all time. So far. 🙂

SPOILER ALERT! If you’re a fan and haven’t watched the latest episode, skip this paragraph!!

On the last episode, the resident psychologist, Iggy, was showing symptoms and one of his friends on staff came to find out what was going on. What was revealed in that story was that Iggy broke down and confessed that he’d been binging and then starving himself. He was extremely body conscious because of the way his father shamed him for being overweight. I cried listening to the types of shaming his father put him through. Maybe his father was cruel; maybe he thought he was doing the right thing. But Iggy ended up with such low self-esteem and self-hatred that he couldn’t even accept a compliment. But this was SO real!! He and the other doctor (who is a recovering addict) went through several conversations throughout the day, yelling at each other, then Iggy breaking down, and it was incredible. What a very real and raw performance.

And that brings me to shaming. I was born in the late 1950s. My parents were born in the late 20s and early 30s and grew up during the depression. Their parenting philosophy, probably the same one their parents used, was that shaming a child for misbehaving was a way to motivate them to improve.

Not this child. Not at all! Especially when I was a teenager. Teenage girls are notoriously dramatic, pouty, etc. I’m sure I put my parents through hell. But they didn’t know what to do with me! My dad, especially, thought I was behaving the way I was on purpose to piss them off. I did not. I was working through hormones, and boys, and middle school and high school with very little support! My parents’ philosophy was, act right in public. Be pleasant at all times, and if you can’t be pleasant, go into your room and don’t come out until you can be pleasant. Meaning I never was taught how to deal with my emotions. I wasn’t to be to boisterous and I wasn’t to be sad in public. “Behave like a lady” was a running theme. While self control in public is important (just go to a Walmart on any given day and you can see inappropriate public behavior), stuffing down emotions 24 hours a day just results in disaster. I eat my feelings.

I was and am a people pleaser, and it devastated me every time my parents (especially my dad) shamed me. I felt them withdraw their love when I was “bad” and then only got love when I was perfect. This led to the anxious, fearful, insecure adult I am today.

When I was 19, the summer between freshman and sophomore years of college, I did a temporary job for one of Dad’s friends. Mind you, this was my very first job EVER. After three weeks of tying vines in their vineyard, I was asked by Dad’s friend if I enjoyed it. Apparently I told him how hot and awful and boring it was. Which he promptly relayed to my dad. My dad bailed hay in the 30s and 40s on a farm, and a good work ethic was the foundation of who he was.

He exploded at me. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was a lazy, disrespectful, ungrateful person and that I was not his daughter! That I was spoiled and didn’t know what hard work really is. Most of that is a blur but I remember the feelings it generated in me. I was crying, and I went to Dad for a hug and he pushed me away and said you’re not my daughter, get away from me!” Instead of making this a teachable moment, he destroyed me.

I ran down the hall crying to my room. I wanted to lock my door, but I knew that would just piss him off even more and because he always believed this kind of behavior was me trying to make him feel bad. He ALWAYS thought that. Dinner was served about an hour later and my mom came to try and get me to come out. I didn’t want to. I wasn’t hungry, I was beyond devastated. I can’t even think of a word that is strong enough. But I went out to the table. I ate as much as I could even though I felt like throwing up. I had to “be pleasant” and pretend that nothing had happened. Our family was really good at pretending. I had to pretend that Dad hadn’t just gutted me with his words.

Keep in mind a child’s relationship with the opposite sex parent forms their relationship with the opposite sex. Since my dad didn’t treat me like I was valuable, I didn’t think I was valuable. I went back to college that fall and started drinking, smoking pot, and I lost my virginity and then began sleeping around. I was desperately trying to get male approval and that did not work.

Broken Relationships

Somehow I managed to graduate from college and go on to work. I married a man and had two children with him. But because I had a broken chooser, he cheated and ended up marrying (one of) the women he cheated on me with. I married a second time a few years later, and that was even more of a disaster. He was verbally abusive to my children, and quite frankly, scarred them for life. I divorced him and after about eight years, I married a third man whom I thought was stable. Had a good job, was kind, etc. But he was on some strong antidepressants and I personally feel he is bipolar, but he hated my kids and while they were nearly grown by then, he didn’t like that they still lived with us. He was verbally and psychologically abusive to me. He called me names, yelled at me, said all our problems was my fault, that his kids would never live with us ever if they lived in the same town. He got mad that I wouldn’t have sex with him (gee, wonder why, you verbally abuse me then expect me to have sex with you?) and so he started having affairs. He currently lives with the last one. He said he’ll never get married again because of me. I told him, “Ditto.”

I left him for my own peace of mind, and he filed for divorce. I didn’t care. Like many abusive men, he never ever saw anything as his own fault. Quite frankly, I feel sorry for his girlfriend, having to put up with him. She can have him!

(Side note: one of his daughters had three kids by three different men, and after our divorce, she and the three kids lived with him and his girlfriend for a couple of years, and his girlfriend didn’t work either. Karma?)

I am damaged. I know that I am emotionally damaged. I am working on it. I can’t afford therapy but I can afford self-help websites and books. I will never marry or even be in a relationship again. I can’t be a good partner to anyone because all I want is to be left alone. After a father and three husbands, I am done. I do have a roommate, which is out of financial necessity, but I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. If I mistake, no one criticizes.

So. Long post but dear God, if you have children, help them grow up to be secure individuals who are guided with love not fear and shame. Don’t spank. Ever. I don’t understand why it was ever an acceptable thing to hit a child for doing wrong. That teaches nothing but fear. The child will begin to fear the parent. Believe me, I know.

Thank you for reading. Cheers!

7 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish Others Would Stop Saying

This article was copied from an amazing website called The Mighty. The link to the original article is here: 7 Things People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder Wish Others Would Stop Saying.


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive, persistent and unrealistic worry, and caused by genetic factors, brain chemistry and personality. In fact, 40 million people in the United States are affected by an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

As someone with GAD, here are 7 things I’d like to ask you to stop saying.

1. “Stop thinking about it.” Don’t you think if it was that easy I would not think about it? It maybe easy for you, but as a person with GAD I have to practice the coping strategies I’ve learned in therapy. And sometimes I can’t even do that. So telling me to not worry simply does not cut it.

Instead, try asking me to go for a walk or if there is anything you can do to help me process what is happening.

2. “Everyone feels anxious.” Yes, everyone feels anxious, and it is completely natural. Anxiety actually pushes us to get things done, but when your anxiety stops you from being able to function, guess what? That’s a problem. So please do not compare GADers (yes, I created this word) with non-GADers (this word too).

Instead, acknowledge what I’m going through. Say, “I see this is really hard for you. Would you like to talk about it?”

3. “I’m stressed too.” Not to discredit your stress, but you are certainly discrediting ours. What you do not understand is that we have a hard time controlling our thoughts, and whether you realize it or not, no matter how small it may seem to you, our anxiety tends to maximize everything.

Instead, try offering some words of encouragement.

4. “I know how you feel.” Unless you have GAD you do not know how I feel, so please stop saying that you do.

Instead, say, “I don’t understand exactly how you feel, but would you be willing to help me understand?”

5. “You need to calm down.” When people suffer from GAD, there are times when his/her anxiety is through the roof and it takes me time to calm down. It is always a three-ring circus going on in our heads. That advice is like telling someone who is sick to stop coughing. So no, we cannot calm down right now.

Instead say, “Is there anything I can do to help you?”

6. “You are doing too much.” (Translation: “You are being dramatic.”) Thank you for your words of comfort. We know our thoughts can be irrational at times, but that is how our brain works. Can you imagine 1,000 tabs on your computer are opened, and you cannot stop new tabs from opening? Well, that is how we feel. Just because our disorder is invisible does not mean it is not real.

Instead, ask me about what methods I use to ease anxiety (like breathing methods and yoga), and remind me what’s worked in the past.

7. “You worry too much.” Yes, we worry too much and we know that, but if you have not figured it out by now, we cannot control it. Telling us we worry too much does not help. We were already worrying about 50 things prior to this unnecessary statement, and now we are worrying about worrying.

Instead, say, “It’s OK to feel this way. I know your anxiety can be difficult, but I’m here for you.”  

Keep calm and carry on! Cheers!

Four Milk Duds

Good morning! What did you have for breakfast this morning? I’m not very good at making sure I eat this most important meal of the day. This morning so far, I’ve had four Milk Duds. Nutrition be damned! I know that I will need to eat something else soon, because I’m very hungry and, to be honest, a little nauseous.

Today is an anxiety day. Actually, the last few days have been anxiety days. I can tell, because the dishwasher is still loaded with clean dishes, and the piles on my kitchen counters are high. Yesterday was Wednesday, and I showered for the first time in five days. Ick, I know. I had to force myself to shower yesterday because I had to go to the windshield place to have the chip in my windshield fixed before it went from being a $35 chip repair to a $300 windshield replacement. Payday is tomorrow and that will alleviate some of my stress.

The good news is that tomorrow is Friday! Which is followed by two whole days off. I have a cleaning lady coming on Saturday to deep clean my whole apartment (except my roommate’s bedroom and bathroom. He’s way cleaner than I am.) I don’t like cleaning on the best of days but having anxiety just makes everything worse. It’s the snowball effect.

I am going to go fix myself something to eat, even if it is just cereal or instant oatmeal.

Cheers!

p.s. Update: I was ambitious and fixed scrambled eggs with cheese, and two slices of sourdough toast with jam. I have more piles on my counters but I feel much, much better. Onward and upward!

It’s Fri-YAY!

Today, my friends, is a better day. My kitchen counters are clear. The dirty laundry is now clean. Even folded and put away! The dishwasher is empty and ready for newly dirty dishes. Assuming I can get them in there when the time comes.

I spent a day and a half in bed. Slept a lot, ate a bit, had intestinal distress, woke up this morning and felt ever so much better. I don’t know if I was ill with a virus, or if it was my anxiety, or a little of both. I am thinking I very well might have IBS. But, I need to see the doctor for diagnosis and guess what she is going to say. Yep. You got it. “Well, you are overdue for your colonoscopy, so why don’t we get that scheduled and kill two birds with one stone? So to speak.” I clench just thinking about it.

Oh the joys of being over 60. Yep, colonoscopy every 10 years (or as long as I can stretch it). I’ve had one in my life, after my 50th birthday, and it galls me that 10 years have already gone by and it’s TIME for one again. Please God, no.

Now. The test itself isn’t bad, except for lying on your side on the table exposing your bum to three or four complete strangers. Especially when your bum is as fat as mine. But, they give you some good drugs in your IV, and before you know it you wake up and it’s over! Piece of cake. You go home and sleep the rest of the day. And you don’t poop for like four days because there is absolutely nothing in there.

Why am I whining about getting the test? First of all, the cost. If it’s diagnostic, they charge you. If it’s “preventive” they don’t, unless they find something. So you go to sleep, then wake up and find out if you’re going to be paying nothing, or whether you know owe $5,300 to the surgery center. If not more. Sighs.

But. (no pun intended). The prep is just all kinds of wrong.

First, you are off red meat for a week. Secondly, you cannot have anything red — jello, drinks, nothing. Then a bland diet with virtually no fiber (or very little) and no seeds or popcorn for a couple of days before the prep. No solid foods the day before the prep. Clear liquids only.

Next you stop by the pharmacy and pick up your prep. The Walk of Shame, I call it. You sidle up to the counter and whisper, “I have a prescription to pick up.” The counter person looks at you like you’re a lunatic and says, loudy, “What’s the name?” I look around to make sure no one I know is nearby and tell him my name. “Okey dokey!” he says, cheerfully, and pulls the items out of the bin. “Oh! You’re picking up your colonoscopy prep!” he screams at the top of his lungs (or so it seems to me). The 45 people in line (okay not really) stare at me with pity. “Yes,” I whisper, wishing I could just sink into the floor. “Can you please not talk so loud?”

“Oh!” he says in a voice that is barely lower. “I didn’t know it was a secret.” I glare at this 20-something young man whose first colonoscopy is 30 years in his future. “Well, it isn’t anymore!” I snarl. He tsks at me.

“Do you know how to use it?” I expected him to hit the mike on the store’s loudspeaker any minute. I snatch the bag after paying for it. “Yesssssss.” I say, specifically sibilant on the last letter. I hold my head up high and try to walk with as much dignity out of the pharmacy.

Okay. So they can put a man on the moon and a rover on Mars but SOMEHOW they cannot find a way to make the prep for a colonoscopy taste less disgusting. The stuff tastes like camel snot. Not that I’ve ever tasted camel snot, but that is about the most disgusting thing I can think of. Worst of all, is you can’t mix it with anything other than clear liquids such as Crystal Light. But it can’t be red crystal light, so my fave flavors are out. The only thing left is lemon or lime or other equally gross (to me) flavors. But honestly, it doesn’t really help.

Some tips: Mix the prep with your crystal light the night before so it is well-chilled. Use a straw so you can try to bypass the taste buds on your tongue as much as possible. When I did it, you had to drink 8 oz. every half an hour, or something like that. Quite frankly, I’ve tried to blot that whole thing out of my mind. It’s like a gallon of this nasty stuff and once it starts working, you park yourself on the toilet and bring entertainment so you don’t think about the fact that your bowels feel like they’re being turned inside out. Bring a book, a laptop, a tablet, something to help keep yourself entertained. Que up some movies on Netflix. Your butt may get numb, and your upper thighs from sitting on the toilet so long. You will be there for HOURS. You can’t get off the toilet until everything runs clear. Oh boy!

Meanwhile keep on trying to drink that nasty crap every half an hour and you have to DRINK IT ALL. It’s like a gallon of this shit. By the end, your stomach is rebelling and threatening to throw up everything. The doctor will warn you that if you throw up, you have to cancel your appointment and reschedule. Well, there is no way I want to start this again, so you just find a way to not throw up. I personally didn’t finish the last 8 oz. I was going to puke all over the bathroom. I just threw the last few ounces out, and when the time comes and they ask if you finished all the prep, just nod your head and lie through your teeth. (Keep in mind that if you’re not “clean” enough they will send you home and you have to do it over anyway. Try to finish as much as you can and pray.)

They say to buy moisturized wipes for wiping and not TP. Frankly, I didn’t leave the toilet so I just didn’t wipe until I was sure it was over. I don’t know what these other people are doing, but there is no opportunity for multiple wipes. Just saying.

Well that went down a different road from the post I was planning! The good news is, it’s Friday and I have the next two glorious days off. And my laundry and dishes and all is DONE. I’ve hired a housecleaner to deep clean my apartment next weekend and I cannot WAIT.

I pick up my mom’s laundry every Saturday morning and return it to her on Sunday morning. It’s a very small chore that I am very happy to do for her. She will be 91 in April and I cherish every minute with her.

Have a great weekend, everyone! ❤ Cheers!

It Usually Starts with a Dirty Dish

I have anxiety. GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I struggle with this daily. I hate to use the word suffer, but rather use the word struggle. Yes, it is a daily struggle. Well-meaning people will tell me that if I just tried hard enough, I could overcome it. But anxiety is like an internal war, battling with my inner voice that constantly tells me I’m good-for-nothing, stupid, fat and lazy. The fat part is true. I mean, fat is fat and I don’t fool anyone. But I am far from stupid, and my anxiety keeps me from completing tasks, which looks like lazy. Simple tasks, like doing the dishes, overwhelm me and I start to shut down. Anxiety is like slogging through quicksand. It’s extremely difficult to pull myself out of it while it is sucking at my energy, my self-esteem, and my motivation.

Anxiety makes me enervated, keeping me from being able to do, well, just about anything. I can have brief periods of positive energy. Usually that only happens when everything in my life is going smoothly — circumstances, life, financial, etc. But when I get a negative balance in my checking account,and payday isn’t until another week and a half, that can send me over the edge. If everything is going smoothly with my adult kids and my 90-year-old mom, I can skate on good vibrations. But the precarious perch upon which I emotionally sit can knock me off balance with just one simple thing.

Case in point: I know that I am sinking into another quicksand of anxiety when I see the dishes start to pile up. It always starts with one dirty dish. I finish a meal, and just leave my dirty dishes on the counter, telling myself “I will put them in the dishwasher later,” my procrastinator brain lies.

And then, the next dirty dish, and discarded containers of fast food because I just. can’t. deal. with prepping a meal. I can measure the depth of my anxiety by the depth of dishes and detritus on my kitchen countertops, the unwashed laundry, unmade bed, un-scooped cat litter box. It overwhelms, and my anxiety ramps up. So far, (knock wood) no panic attacks. Just mounds of dirty dishes and laundry, and everything.

I sink back into my recliner with my comfort food, my TV remote, my computer and try to pretend none of it is there. I can’t even read, because my ex-husband’s voice is in my head, yelling at me that I have no business reading when there are “things” that need to be done. Ten years divorced and his ugly words hurtle against my brain again and again.

Until it comes the time that my roommate is spraying the kitchen with air freshener because it smells. Until I don’t have any forks or spoons or knives to eat with, no clean plates, no more money for food delivery. This is the face of my anxiety and probably depression. And I do the dishes. Sometimes it takes me several hours, because the overwhelming anxiety causes me to stop and rest for awhile. Because, my brain screams at me, “WHAT IF IT’S NOT PERFECT???”

Today, my kitchen counters are full. My motivation is low and I am feeling overwhelmed. But soon I am going to have to force myself to clean it up. I just have to.

Welcome!

Well. Here we are. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and exposing my writing publicly. This is a scary prospect for me, as I have a crippling fear of criticism. I love to write; have always wanted to write, but then what to write about? I put this question out into the universe and . . . nothing!

Write it and they will come. (Sorry for stealing, Field of Dreams!)

I’m a nerd. A huge nerd. I love books, TV, movies, writing, virtual worlds, and yes . . . video games. I play World of Warcraft (not very well, but I play it). I’m 62 years old and my kids (who are in their 30s) think I’m hilarious.

Two of my favorite things in the world are books and the ocean. My perfect place is sitting on the beach with a book and nothing to do but read all day. I’ve had an urge to write all my life but it has been crushed by an overly critical parent. I mean, Dad meant well, but … here we are. Time to get over it.

At any rate, three more years then I retire. I don’t have enough retirement savings so I hope to supplement my income with . . . you guessed it, WRITING!

My inspirations are JD Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts), Debbie Macomber, JA Jance, Janet Evanovich, and Sue Grafton (may she rest in peace. Sue, when I get to heaven, I hope you have the Z book finished by then. Just sayin’!) . I occasionally dabble in Steven King and Dean Koontz, as long as they don’t involve aliens. Psychological thrillers I love. Weirdo outer space things? Not so much.

My favorite author that rises to the top, the crème de la crème, is James Patterson. I love love love his work. He is extremely prolific and I can’t ever hope to aspire to be this kind of author. He is a brilliant author who can plot like nobody’s business, he makes huge amounts of money by attaching his name to aspiring author’s work from his Master Class. I love the Alex Cross books. I’m reading “Deadly Cross” right now, but slowly. I’m savoring it, because I know it will be another year or so before another one comes out. (No spoilers in the comments!!) If Jimmy ever kills off Dr. Cross, I will be verklempt.

So. There you have it. Me in seven paragraphs. But that’s just scratching the surface! My 62 years on this earth have been filled with ups and downs, from marriage to divorce, to marriage to divorce, to marriage to divorce; to swearing off relationships altogether, because I have a broken chooser. Cancer, a fire, losing all my possessions, and job loss. Losing my 91 year old Dad in July of 2020, a.k.a. the Year From Hell.

Then 2021 came along and said, “Hold my beer.” Insurrectionists in the Capitol building. My sweet mother will be 91 this year. Love her.

Join me on this journey won’t you? And please . . . be kind. And gentle.

Stay safe!