Krissie: Summertime and the Living is Crazy

So. Oh, shit, you know, I was going to start complaining about all the things I have to do, but that’s so bogus. Yes, I’m doing a million more things than I do in the winter, but I’m loving them. There are three reasons I love the theater. I think the major one is that after a winter of isolation (truly — at this point there are no friend here I can ask to go out for lunch or to the movies or shopping – they’ve all moved or developed a deep dislike or me or we’ve drifted so far apart it would be strange) I get to be around thirty or so people, all of whom I like a lot. Then again, I’m someone who generally likes people. I’m interested in them, like talking to them about themselves, about stuff. The second reason is I love singing. For some reason my singing voice for musicals has gotten loud and strong and on-key. And higher than it used to be — I can hit an F without much problem when my voice always used to crack on Es. Plus it’s lower than it used to be too. I don’t seem to have my country or folk voice any more, which was passably good (not professional, but good enough), and I hadn’t been singing in years, so that part’s glorious.
And I kind of like to act. Er … overact. I don’t try to be the center of attention in any circumstance — if someone else wants it I can be very cheery and quiet. Which can be a problem if I’m with someone who always craves attention. It can get … annoying. But I like to act, to fling myself around on stage. In this one I get to fondle a handsome young man and get kicked in the bustle by him. And I’ll probably cry when he dies. (Jesus, just started crying now — it’s so sad). So we’ll see how much I like sad acting.

It’s exhausting, a tremendous time sink, and my favorite thing to do. At least here, where everyone is fabulous and there’s no star-drama etc.

Plus, I love my book so much I take any time I can to write. Some of my other stuff is getting behind, but basically it’s glorious.

So, no complaints. I’m in a lot of pain but I’m seeing the chiropractor today (a holistic one) and I think they’ll help a lot.

The main worry is Tim. Erin kicked him out and said he had to get therapy, which is all good. But I’ve listened to their one way phone calls and she yells at him when he’s trying to be calm and nice. Tim’s ready to try, but he has to go through certain things (the therapist for one) before she’ll let him back. And there’s the on-going problem of where they live (in a trailer right next to her very toxic parents who have always hated Tim and most of the in-laws). And she needs to learn to share the baby — Tim’s fantasy was they’d both wake up in the middle of the night and change the baby and rock her etc. but Erin doesn’t want to let go. She had her first baby on her own and I think part of her wants her second baby on her own.

And I’ve got to figure out just how much I can interfere, which is pretty much not at all. I go down to see the kids and Erin dumps on me and I need to respond, but I try to be noncommittal. In the past when they’ve broken up (they’ve broken up a lot in the last six years) I’ve been very careful because I wanted what was best for Alex, and I couldn’t say whether having Tim in the picture WAS the best. Alison’s arrival changes everything, and they need to exhaust all possibilities before they give up.

But I gotta keep my mouth shut.

I know most of you with grown children have some who are divorced. Any advice on how to deal with this. I know it’s not my business, and I can’t fix it. But I’m not sure how much I can say when they talk to me. I say counseling and the kids and give a little. The thing is Erin’s pretty low on compassion and affection. When Tim’s feeling anxious or blue and asks for a hug she says “Grow up.” Which he needs to, but if someone asks for a hug it should always be given (unless it’s a pervert).

Any advice on how to deal with this mess?


Krissie: As Ye Reap So Shall Ye Sow

Photo on 5-28-13 at 9.15 AM #2 I can’t complain. The things we do in life have consequences. The way we were raised can cause deep scars, and those scars affect how we turn around and raise our own kids.
With distance I’m recognizing my mother’s mental illness. Funny how that got lost along the way. She was relatively sane and as happy as she could be for the last almost forty years of her life, once my father died. Add remembering my father’s alcoholism, plus my brother’s, and it’s easy to forget the constant, screaming rages. Locking myself in the bathroom while she tried to batter it down with a firepoker. Chasing my sister into the neighbor’s kitchen with a knife. Her times in mental hospitals. The period, when I was sent away to live with my aunt and uncle (my extremely bi-polar aunt) when she had daily shock treatments. I visited her in the hospital once and she had scorch marks on her temples. My father was in the same hospital … oh, shit, you don’t need the deets. But I’d forgotten how sick she was. It puts things in perspective.
But it made me a lousy mother. I did everything I could to protect my kids, to rescue them, to save them, to bail them out, to rationalize what they did, to go with the flow. On top of that my baby boy was wounded. He has severe learning differences, though they don’t show, and a lifelong series of abandonments. And I kept wanting to fix things.
All the other little boys in my life died. Obviously I was the little mother in my family, and my father was my little boy. So was my brother. So was my nephew, while my sister, his mother, went through all her messes. And they all died. Young.
Which made me even more protective.
I didn’t lose it till this December, when something snapped. And he’s been so much better. Or had been. But he can’t find a job, he has no money, no car, no place to go. And yet he makes my life a living hell. Richie’s too. Richie’s heart was racing on Sunday night, he was so anxious. And it’s our fault. We made him the way he is. We kicked him out once, and it was the most painful thing I’ve ever done. I can’t do it again. Not when I was abandoned on every single level.
But if I won’t do what’s right I can’t complain. So I’m not going to whine, or give you details, or fuss. We’ll figure it out. I’m hiding out in the bedroom, working. But if he starts berating Richie again I’m going to have to do something. Because I won’t let him kill Richie from the stress of dealing with him.
But I digress.
Because I can complain about the snow. Most definitely. Latest snow on record up here, and certain areas got a whopper. They had to close the road to Smuggler’s Notch, big fat flakes came down all day, and it was still on the ground on Sunday when Richie and I went shopping.
IMG_0853 Note the apple blossoms.
It got into the 50s yesterday, with some sunshine.
Damn, I need the weather to get better. I need things with my son to get better. I need to close my eyes and listen to “Co-Dependent No More” except I don’t like Melody Beattie’s writing (I feel guilty that I don’t — how’s that for co-depency?).
I think I gotta concentrate on one day at a time. I can’t look ahead to the end of the week with dread — I’ll probably enjoy it. Or shudder at the thought of that long drive so soon after making it. Or angst about the work I want to be doing. Or the fact that I don’t feel I have a home any more.
We’ll talk about that tomorrow.
In the meantime,  I said I couldn’t complain but I actually did. Mea culpa. Oh, my god, mea maxima culpa. I didn’t think guilt was my thing. But I’d rather feel guilty than think my son is a total shit.
Okay, enough. I got books to write, worlds to save. I’ll get it right eventually.

Krissie: Busy Days

This is ancient Pooska, Kaim’s kitty. She’s seventeen, and she was being sickly, so we took her up to the vet and he thought she had kidney failure. I’m not going there. In fact, I didn’t think he was actually very good — he gave Cello antibiotics for a bladder infection but didn’t take his temperature.
So we’ll see. $258 later …
However, I got wonderful ideas for Richie from you guys (ideas for Richie to get me), and I cheered up and even put stuff on my wish list at Amazon. YOu guys cheered me up with reminding me what was important – time with Richie, foot rubs, etc.

So I thought I’d explain about a good friend of mine and her daughter. She and her daughter were very very close growing up and then her daughter, we’ll call her Mary, ended up in school on the west coast (after three years of drifting through other schools). Her daughter has emotional issues. Anyway, she settled into school very happily in San Francisco. She’s very reserved and somewhat shy, but eventually she found a comfortable situation and good roomies. Anyway, things happened, she decided she was Gender Queer (which means kind of androgynous and sort of waffling between male and female) and didn’t want to be called “baby girl” (a term of affection from her mother) or daughter, or Mary. She chose a new name that no one had ever heard of (let’s call it Maim) and now her family has to call her that and they get corrected every time they get it wrong. And they get it wrong a lot. Though she corrects them nicely enough. And they’re allowed to use her and she. But she’s not their daughter, she’s their child. And don’t get me started on wanting her breasts removed, and she’s a tiny little thing with probably a 34 B.
Infer what you wish. My poor friend is very supportive but a little frustrated, and her father is confused and annoyed. He just wants her to finish school after about 9 years of school and never holding a job and being supported by her parents her entire life.

Anyway, that’s the story of Maim. Oooh, that’s a terribly alternative name. Maik. Ah, that’s a good fictional name.

Anyway, just another thing to add to the mix of depression.

But anyway, off to get the car looked at and do some last minute shopping (plus have a nice lunch). So we’ll have a good day.

If anyone had advice on how my friend should handle Maik let me know and I’ll pass it along.

Krissie: Games People Play

Speaking of which, Joe South died recently (he’s the one who wrote and sang that, plus a number of excellent songs). But I digress.
When you live a life surrounded by alcoholics and addicts (my father, my brother, my sister, my favorite cousin, a former BFF and of course my son) you learn one thing (well, I learned many things) from Al-Anon and various readings. You can’t play the guessing game about whether the person you love is using, is high, is drunk, is whatever. When my father wasn’t drinking he was strung out on pills (uppers and downers). My sister liked cocaine, my brother liked anything, my cousin liked heroin. So I’m used to getting phone calls, visits, etc. where the loved one is slurring, falling asleep, hyper, whatever.
And you can’t play the game about is he or isn’t he? It’ll make you crazy. Basically it’s just too fucking co-dependent. You can go searching for empty bottles or stashes or pills, or you can let go and let god, because if you take the stuff away they’ll find it some other way, it you confront them or cry it’s just a waste of time. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Your higher power can’t fix it, it’s up to their HP. Continue reading

Krissie: Dodged a Bullet

Phew. The storm clouds were brewing overhead yesterday. I finished going over the revising (or making notes where to revise) my mip and I’m ready to move forward, thank God. I emerged from my office to go pay Mr. Coolbeth and get the hutch when my son arrived and was thrashing around, having a fit over where he’d put his water bottle. Turns out he was freaking out about health stuff (he gets so worried about even minor symptoms which is one reason he should be in VT — he has health insurance here). I calmed him down, he apologized, said he was going to go to the emergency room that night and if they put him on antibiotics he wasn’t going back to Michigan because they make him so sick.
Okay. He was planning to either call us or come by after he went to the emergency room, so we went on with our lives. Then, we get a toxic phone call. Let me give you some history. Erin’s mother is a powerhouse. I happen to really like her — she’s tough, she’s gorgeous, worked her ass off all her life. But she’s got attitude up the wazoo, and she hates my son and is fiercely possessive of Alex, her grandson. Which makes sense, the first couple of years after he was born she took care of him while Erin worked and went to school. She’s always been the real sticking point in their relationship — Erin is very very tied in with her family, and Tim not only wants to travel and live away from Vermont for a while, but he hates doing anything with her family because there’s such tension and snotty comments and outright confrontations. At the end of their relationship my son’s problem was that she was spending more time with her family than with him. Her problem was that he was a screaming asshole. (See, I’m fair).
Actually, I shouldn’t say at the end of their relationship. It limps along.
So Erin’s mom calls in a tight, furious voice, wanting to know if I know where Erin is. I said no. I asked if Alex was okay (she sounded like it was a disaster). She said no. He missed his mother. She said he wasn’t there (I imagine he was staying with his cousin — they go to the same daycare). She said he called and was upset and that ever since Tim’s been home Erin has been ignoring him to spend all her time with Tim, and she wanted to know the phone number of the big house.
My blood pressure soars. First off, she’s wrong. I don’t know what happened the first night, though I know she wouldn’t have asked her mother to help out so she could see Tim, because her mother would say no way. The second night they all slept at the Big House. Don’t know what happened Friday night, but Saturday was the big blow-out of Alex’s birthday, which was a huge amount of work for Erin. And the g’mother wasn’t even in town for the weekend. Alex spent Sunday with me, having a blast, don’t know what went on Monday but Tuesday night G’ma says he’s being abandoned.

So I know she’s going to get things as riled up as she can, and she wouldn’t hesitate to go to the Big House and start some horror scene (she’s done it before) and I worried about Alex and envisioned horrible things happening and where was Tim going to stay if he didn’t go back, which I was pretty sure he wouldn’t, and I knew he’d come over and start ranting about G’ma, so I took a tranquilizer and went to bed. (I’m supposed to take one when I go to bed, BTW), trying to ignore my feelings of impending doom.

I wake up, my car is back, there’s a note on my computer saying “love you guys, never went to the ER but I’ll see how it goes.”

Phew! He is coming back — there’s no life for him out there. And frankly, it’s just not possible for me to refuse him a home if he’s clean and sober, which he is. I’ll just need to keep backing off and see how things go. At this point Erin is planning to get some time off to go out to Michigan and drive Tim back, and he’ll go to Voc-rehab then, plus job counseling. And we’ve said over and over again how we just don’t have the money to get him a car.
So we’ll see. But right now he’s gone for at least a couple of weeks, and I can take a deep breath and get back to focusing on my life and my work, without the anxiety that’s been plaguing me.

And I’d really much rather concentrate on all the brilliant ideas you guys gave me yesterday about the house. I’ll start this afternoon when I come back from lunch. I love the idea of index cards and clear labeling. The breaks from writing to do just a little at a time. The clean sweep ideas of garbage bags and boxes (I put clothes in clear garbage bags and everything else in boxes. If I donate in black garbage bags it feels like I’m giving away trash.

So. Gotta go in and write a little bit, just to move ahead. Then lunch. Then attack the house. But at least disaster and rage and emotion haven’t landed on my doorstep.

Krissie: Kids

Okay, this is something terrible to admit. I hesitate to do so, but my kids aren’t going to go searching on the internet for me and I think I can get away with it.
I’ve been a helicopter parent, hovering, hovering. That’s my choice, my fault. In fact, the worst thing I did for my kids was not to set limits. I had such a wretched, painful childhood that I wanted to spare my kids that. I could always see things from their point of view, and I didn’t want them to hurt.
So of course I ended up with kids who always look to us to rescue them, who can’t survive without us supporting them. I feel like we can’t do anything for ourselves, when money’s so tight, because we have to make sure our kids are all right.
Then again, I have two wounded kids. My daughter, solid and funny and smart and hard-working, had what used to be called a nervous breakdown around the time she turned 18. She hasn’t been the same since. She’s fragile, unable to do more than two classes at a time in school, is easily crushed. She’s had some moments of independence — she figured out where she wanted to go to school, arranged financing, etc. I didn’t realize until it was too late that I had to co-sign the loans. But since I’d been paying her $1000 a month rent in Philadelphia it was cheaper, and she seemed focused. As it is now, she’s been in this school for 5 years (three years at other schools which I paid for out of pocket) and graduation isn’t in sight. If she can’t do more than two classes, how is she going to work full time (she’s never held a successful job). And several of her college loans are asking for money because she hasn’t had the financial aid office fill out the proper forms. She’ll be 100k in debt if and when she graduates, and I can’t envision her working.
And my son, who’s coming home for a week on Thursday (paid for by his ex). I’m really really annoyed with him, and I’ve never been angry with him in his life. All the totally fucked-up things he did, I would grieve for. The expensive schools, the opportunities, and he’d simply go back to his old ways.
Mind you, now he’s relatively clean and sober. Because his drugging and drinking was done at such a young age (starting at 12!) and he had a number of years at therapeutic schools (costing anywhere from three to six thousand dollars a month) his body was able to mature out of it. I don’t think adult addicts and alcoholics can return to using responsibly, but I do think it’s possible for kids whose brains hadn’t developed.
Anyway, as far as I know the weed and drinking aren’t the problem. His moods are. And he’d being a total asshole to Erin, who, poor soul, wants to get back together with him. And he’s holding her hostage, emotionally.
I finally wrote him and said he had to decide if he wanted to be free and unencumbered (which he thinks is what he wants right now) or have stability, which comes with responsibilities. And if he chooses freedom then he has to accept all the uncertainties, financial and otherwise, that go with it.
We’ve bought every car he’s ever owned (except for the $300 one) and I was about to co-sign a loan for a more expensive one when he didn’t even have a job. I’m insane. And we’ve been supporting him out in Detroit, simply because our life is simpler and calmer when he’s not here.
But enough is enough. I’m tired of him. I’m tired of his complaints, when he’s been given more than almost all of his friends and not really had to work for it. I’m tired of my daughter’s absolute inability to face the hard facts of life.
I want them all to go away. They’re not fun anymore.
Isn’t that a terrible thing to say? A horrible, wicked thing to admit? I’m tired of trying to fix them, particularly since it never works. They have to fix themselves. You’d think they’d want to, but both of them still expect to be rescued.
And God knows I still want to rescue them.
My son has severe learning disabilities and a screwed up body from a bad snowmobile accident during his druggy phase, making many many jobs unavailable. My daughter has severe emotional issues.
But he’s 25 and she’s 28. I won’t ever be able to cut the apron strings with my daughter, since we co-signed those damned loans that she’ll never be able to pay back. But we can tell my son that it’s time for him to grow up. Either be a man, find a job and accept the responsibility of his family, or stop asking us for money.
It’s no wonder I don’t want them around. All these problems I can’t fix, and they don’t seem to be trying to do anything to fix them themselves.
And it’s my fault for indulging them, fixing everything in the past. Or at least I share the blame.
Long, long rant. I love my children, would gladly die for them. I wish they were still the sweet babies who loved me, but then I’d have to go through all that hell again till they grew up. So no thanks.
It always seems like everyone else’s children have got it together. They hold jobs, they have families, the girls have boyfriends or girlfriends by the time they’re 28.
Long rant and I don’t know if I’ve come up with any answers. Except to let go and let god, something I always forget to do. The best step (for me) of the 12 steps is number three. Turn it over to my higher power. I can’t fix it this time.
And it kills me.

Krissie: Rode Hard and Put Away Wet

They took my phone from me. Probably a good idea. I’d try to hunker down and work and then someone would call and I’d dissolve …
So they took my phone away from me. I’ll need it back at some point so I can talk to my mother’s doctor. Both about her pain issues, and when you can tell if she can no longer live alone. I was kind of waiting for a fall or something to tell us, or if she could no longer take care of her own needs. But it sounds more like it’s mental health issues for her. She’s entirely isolated if I have to go out of town and she sinks into a depression (with a little lashing out for seasoning). At this point she wouldn’t qualify for a nursing home, but there’s an extended living place with a couple of medicaid spots (she has no money to pay for it and obviously neither do I). In the meantime I’ve got three different people checking in on her, as well as Richie, and when I talk to her doctor I’ll see what kind of help I can get. I guess it waits till crisis level to get me moving, but we’re there.
And my son has figured it’s no use fighting, his life is over and he needs to get out of town. (Told me on that phone yesterday that he’s running away, because that’s what we do in our family — he learned it from me). Thank you, darling boy, for sticking the knife right where he knew it would hurt.
He doesn’t understand that when life gets too overwhelming you go to your respective corners to calm down until you can deal with it. God, if he weren’t so broken with pain I’d give him the slap upside the head he’s deserved so many times.
My other child has backed off for now, so I can put that on the back burner. And I told Richie not to tell me how broken my son is. I can’t fix it, and I can’t bear it until I figure out how I can bear it. So give me a fucking break.
Richie’s doing a great job. And my son will be off by the time I get back — his flight leaves the same morning I arrive home. Hell, and my life used to be terrorized by which classes I hadn’t done my homework in.
I couldn’t even write yesterday — people kept calling. But hey, no phone today.
I’ll work. That should help. Yesterday someone brilliant said I needed to separate my own grief over the broken relationship from his grief. And in truth, right now my pain is more for how much my son is hurting. I’ll deal with the loss of my grandson, if it comes to that, later.
More people go through this than don’t. I need to remember that.
So I’ll work. That’ll help. Horrible nightmares last night, so I’ll need to nap. But this will get better. It has to.
With luck tomorrow we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled “I can conquer anything” kind of day. The sun will shine again, we’ll go to the aquarium and dream about nixies.
Right now the best I can do is not cry.
But you guys really helped yesterday — lots of smart people out there. Unfortunately lots of people who’ve been there and done that and can tell me how to deal with it all.
In the meantime, one day at a time.