Month: April 2018

Please Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore

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***

I remember sitting on the shiny wood floors of his house crying as we fought–I don’t know what about–but I’d pointed out he never gave me flowers during the argument.

Never one to celebrate official holidays like Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, or even my own birthday, I did enjoy kind gestures. I think that’s why it was something I sought.

I wanted a sign that he loved me.

I wanted to be appreciated.

I wanted to feel special.

I wanted.

I don’t even think it was ever really about flowers–it was more of a metaphor for the entire relationship.

Show me you love me enough to stay.

Everybody leaves me.

Don’t leave me.

Often during a verbal battle, he’d storm out of the house angrily, tired of my shit. It was a brilliant and infuriating power move.

With nowhere to channel my rage after he’d leave mid-fight, I’d pace, or weep, or both.

Once I even threw many bottles of alcohol at a wall after he left, smashing them to pieces. I cut my hand on the glass as I immediately felt shame, humiliation, and remorse for my childish loss of control, and scrambled to clean up my ugly mess.

He almost always came back with a fresh pack of smokes. It was a smart move in hindsight, removing himself from a situation that had become heightened to calm down, but it also triggered every abandonment issue buried deep inside of my soul.

Everybody leaves me.

Don’t leave me.

This time he got his pack of argument cigarettes at a grocery store, bought a cheap bunch of flowers, and dropped them next to me. I was still sitting where he’d left me, head in my hands, quietly crying. The wet plastic around the drooping bouquet clung to the gleaming floor.

“Here are your flowers,” he growled.

Somehow, this hurt so much more than not ever getting flowers.

After we broke up, we saw each other weekly for lunch and sex, even after we were both dating other people.

He told me all about his new girlfriends, sharing intimate information that made me cringe for them.

The one with weird nipples from breastfeeding three kids.

The one who kept her shirt on in bed because a former boyfriend had body-shamed her.

The one he couldn’t sleep with because so many guys walked up to them on dates that were former lovers of hers she became unappealing to him.

I felt awful for them.

I wondered what he told them about me.

We’d always been such good friends, and I think this was why he was so candid with the personal details. I still miss him as a friend to this day. We understood each other from the minute we met without saying a word, and I’ve rarely felt this way. When I hear talk of people recognizing each other instantly from past lives, he comes immediately to mind.

I even dream about him sometimes, so many years later, and in almost every dream, he’s rejecting me. He’s with someone else and I’m still not enough. Never enough.

He claimed to want me back, that he wanted me to marry him, and we were still intimate–yet afterward, he regaled me with stories from his new dating life. It was the most mixed of messages. I went back and forth emotionally because I still loved him, too.

But if we loved each other, why were we seeing other people? And why was he giving me the sordid details of his new love life?

One afternoon while we were in his bedroom, a girl he was currently dating left a bouquet of flowers at the back door of his house. I assume she must have tried knocking while we were busy, but nobody answered. After almost five years with him, I was unsettled to suddenly feel like the other woman in our relationship.

He brought them in and I asked if he’d given her flowers, too. He told me they’d often exchanged flowers. I asked if he’d given the other girls he’d been dating flowers. He had.

I began to cry. He looked confused, I think because he’d mentally placed me into the new role of “casual sex buddy” rather than my former role of long-time girlfriend.

Labels aren’t so easily shaken off.

I couldn’t believe the small gesture of affection I’d asked for during our relationship was now being casually and repeatedly given to women he barely knew. I was supposed to be his best friend. I’d stuck with him for years, begging for scraps of devotion, throwing embarrassing fits when he rejected me–and these women he casually dated got flowers? Just like that?

Silent tears ran down my face looking at the flowers she’d left, and hearing this was the new normal. They were getting the relationship I’d wanted with him, while I was being used physically and emotionally to fill in everything they couldn’t satisfy.

He was bewildered by my pain.

I was surprised by how badly I still wanted a sign that he loved me.

I wanted.

The next time I came over for lunch and sex, he’d bought me flowers. He hid them on the back of his toilet, and asked me to retrieve something from the bathroom to surprise me.

Rather than being surprised, I assumed they were more flowers from another girl. He had to explain that they were mine. It took me a moment to understand what he meant.

The toilet flowers were for me. It was painfully apropos.

I couldn’t take them with me because they would raise questions from the guy I was dating. This realization forced me to see how incredibly broken my ability to maintain relationships had become. I was messed up, and in the process of messing up other people. It had to stop.

We’d gone from best friends in a relationship for years, to a marriage proposal, to broken up, to lunch/fuck buddies with weird leftover relationship issues.

He finally tired of my indecisiveness, of our emotionally confusing situation, and ended it, firmly telling me to stay away forever. He was done. I drove away crying so hard I couldn’t see the road.

Everybody leaves me.

It still hurts.

I’ve told my husband I don’t like flowers, that I prefer plants because they don’t die, but I don’t think he believes me. I think he assumes I’m used to being disappointed in relationships, and sweetly hopes he can fix it.

He brought me flowers for no reason last week. Just like I always wanted.

I wanted.

And now, every time I look at the cheerful daisies meant to make me feel appreciated, I’m unbearably sad inside.

Instead of making me happy, they force me to stare at exactly how broken I am, and to think of all the ways I’ve failed in the past, and of the ways I’m still failing every day.

Flowers look like failure.

Flowers wilt and die, just like relationships.

Flowers leave.

I don’t want flowers anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Make Your Husband Leave Work to Check If You’re Still Alive: Facebook Edition

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Happy image courtesy of: http://inspirobot.me/

***

Before I share this tale, I want to make it clear I’m not taking suicide lightly, nor have I ever been suicidal. I’m a naturally redheaded woman with sensitive skin, a sensitive brain, sensitive everything, really, diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and ADHD neurology.

Fortunately (and perhaps surprisingly) for me, depression has never been one of my issues. I’ve lost two uncles to suicide, but depression that severe doesn’t seem to be in my wheelhouse. I might be too stubborn to kill, honestly. You’ll pry this life from my bitter, freckled, ginger hands… as long as I don’t get distracted by something sparkly along the way.

With my non-suicidal tendencies in mind, please enjoy the story of how I caused my husband to race home from work to make sure I was alive.

 

***

 

It started when Facebook sent me a message to potentially forward to my someone in the event of my untimely death. (Are there such things as timely deaths?)

Facebook recommends a “legacy contact” for this purpose–someone who can be trusted with your password, and will even turn your Facebook profile into a memorial page if you pass. I have 2 friends currently whose pages have been turned into “Remembering… (insert name)” pages, rather than remaining frozen in time, with their last Facebook post about something trivial sitting there forever.

I have 3 other friends who died before the new memorial feature or without designating a legacy contact, and it’s quite jarring when their birthdays come up every year. I sometimes sadly peruse their pages to remember them, and yes, it always makes me think about which post could be my last.

I received this prompt from Facebook in my private messages in the form of a pre-written-by-them blurb to forward to my legacy contact:

“Hi, Facebook now lets people choose a legacy contact to manage their account if something happens to them: https://www.facebook.com/help/1568013990080948

Since you know me well and I trust you, I chose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this.”

I thought to myself, Oh, hey, Self. That seems like a pretty good idea. I would actually rather tell my husband in person to remove my Facebook page completely because a memorial page will make my family sad, but it couldn’t hurt to make sure I choose him officially as the person to do this.

And then my mind wandered to the dark place.

The dark place my mind went to when my gynecologist found the lump in my left breast and doctors/insurance put me through the stress of a sonogram, an old school mammogram, and then finally a digital mammogram able to accurately see through dense breast tissue to determine if my lump was cancer or justacyst.

The dark place my mind went to when I was diagnosed with pneumonia at the Urgent Care and they sent my lung x-rays to be examined further without telling me, and I received a call out of the blue from what sounded like a bored teenager telling me, “We, um, need you to go get a, like, chest CT with contrast to make sure the spots all over your lungs aren’t lung cancer…” so I completely lost my shit and cried silently while my son played in the next room, called my husband to come home from work, and then we went for the CT where they told me the spots were justcalcifications from previous untreated pneumonias because I haven’t had health insurance most of my life.

The dark place my mind went to where I never woke from the second abdominal surgery to correct all of the adhesions caused by the first abdominal surgery because redheads are notorious for reacting oddly to anesthesia, but I woke up fine and it was justasurgery.

The dark place where my son grows up without a mother because my weak walking meat bag has failed me. That dark place. I hate that fucking place.

I thought about my husband getting this blunt, impersonal message, and assumed if I clicked send to designate him as my legacy contact, Facebook would store the message until needed somehow.

This was my big mistake… and also how I sent my husband into a terrified frenzy that could only be rectified by his seeing me physically okay and alive.

I don’t really know how I thought Facebook would know I was dead unless Facebook is plotting to kill me, which really wouldn’t surprise me since Facebook knows all and has apparently been watching us and selling our information or whatever. But I write. And my brain decided my husband should receive a nicer, more personal note with my “Surprise! You’re my ghoulish legacy contact which is code for you to please do something with my dumb Facebook page if I die suddenly! Lucky you!” message.

So I thought about what I’d say if, perhaps a car T-boned me and ended this trip, or something equally sudden and gross to think about. And then I added my oh-so-touching words to the blunt legacy contact message, thinking I was softening the blow or something.

I don’t know what I was thinking. Really, I wasn’t, because again, in my head, my husband was receiving the message I wrote post-my-mortem. Words from beyond the grave. I think Facebook said I could add to the message, and that’s where I got the idea that they’d store my note in case the legacy feature was activated, if that makes sense?

The other thing to understand before I share the message that shaved 5 years off my husband’s life is that I am uncomfortable with all things mushy and PDA. When couples constantly share gushy, kissy-face crap, I automatically assume they have relationship issues, one member of the couple is horrifically insecure and in need of constant public reassurance, or both. But even sex scenes in movies make me uncomfortable, like I’m watching someone’s private moment, so I’m willing to take some of the blame here.

ANYHOW, because of my issues, our “affectionate nicknames” for each other are Poop Face and Stink Butt. And below is the goodbye letter to my husband I imagined would be delivered via Facebook from the shit-show that is my brain:

“Hi D____, Facebook now lets people choose a legacy contact to manage their account if something happens to them: https://www.facebook.com/help/1568013990080948

Since you know me well and I trust you, I chose you. Please let me know if you want to talk about this.

*
Stink Butt,

If you’re ever in need of this, it means I’ve taken on a new form of energy within our universe, and I will love you and M____ for eternity in a different way than originally planned. Take good care of our son and yourself, and find love with someone gentle, patient, and calm as soon as you can, because life is short and precious.

Thank you for being a good person. Know that you gave me hope and showed me kindness beyond anything I’ve ever known. I love you and our son more than everything, and I always will, no matter what. Be there for him, hug him, and tell him you love him every chance you get, and please tell him I will love him forever, too.

My guardian angels will be watching over him now that I no longer need them, and they will surround him with the love and peace with which they protected me, so he doesn’t need to be afraid. Ever. I have incedible guardian angels. Total badasses. So I want you both to move forward and be happy as soon as you possibly can, because everything is going to be okay. It is. I promise.

Xoxoxoxoxoxo times infinity,
Poop Face”

***

Awwwww. It’s like a goddamned Nicholas Sparks novel all up in here, right? Someone call Ryan Gosling and tell him we’ve got his next big role ready to go.

The first paragraph is a nod to the law of Conservation of Energy, which gives me great peace.

I also often think my son would have been better of with a different, calmer-brained mom, so my first order of ghostly business would be to haunt my husband until he finds a gentle mom for my son. That’s what the short, precious life business is about. Because mourning is a waste of time, life is for the living, and also, get my baby boy a new mom as fast as you can because he needs his good morning hug and kiss goodnight, damn it.

The second paragraph is gooey, so I’m a bit embarrassed to share it here, because of my aforementioned gushy-averse issues, but there it is. My husband has championed me and supported me where many a man has failed, and damn it, he deserves props because I’m not easy.

The part that makes me think about not being here to tell my son I love him makes me want to cry for the rest of the day, so there’s that. Ahem. Moving on.

And the last part is true, whether you believe it or not. I felt my guardian angel’s hands on my back as a kid when there was nobody in my room, and it filled me with warmth and peace. I turned around to see nobody there… and I wasn’t afraid. You can tell me it’s not real if you want, but I know I’ve got at least one really powerful angel looking out for me, because again, I’m not easy.

Now imagine my husband receiving this note in the middle of his work day, trying to call me, and me not answering because I loathe phones and leave my cellphone charging on the counter with the ringer off all day, no matter how much I’m nagged to check my damned phone by Mr. Stink Butt.

Imagine him calling. And calling. And calling 6 more times, with no answer. And texting, with no answer, after receiving what essentially reads like my suicide note delivered to him, strangely enough, through the Facebook Messenger app, which he knows I refused to put on my phone.

What happened is that I hit send, I shut down the laptop, continued to ignore my phone, and went to take a nap because I have adult rickets (extreme vitamin D deficiency) and hypothyroidism, both of which make me flu-level exhausted on the reg.

I was soon awakened by the garage door opening, and walked out of the bedroom to see my husband burst through the kitchen door with wide, scared eyes. He grabbed me and said, “Oh my god, you’re okay! You’re okay!” and I was like, “What the what? Of course I’m okay. What the hell is going o-oooooh… oh, shit. Oh, shit, I’m so sorry.” Because I pretty quickly figured it out.

I’m stupid is the short answer.

I’m stupid.

Because of course Facebook immediately sent my drippy little note along with the legacy contact designation. OF COURSE. And I don’t answer my phone ever.

My poor husband had to grip me by the shoulders to make sure I was still here.

My poor husband had to physically touch me before he could drive back to work with the post-adrenaline shakes.

My poor husband.

Jesus.

***

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I’m trying, InspiroBot. I’m trying. 

 

 

 

It’s Not Worth It

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You complete me, http://inspirobot.me/

***

The above image pretty much sums up my general mood lately.

I surprised myself today by impulsively taking Facebook off my phone. I’m finding myself listlessly scrolling through social media far too often, bored with my life, and seeking solace in dumb places.

Facebook is dumb. Yeah, I said it.

To be clear, I’ve made real connections with great people on Facebook. I’m in a private group, for example, with amazing, open-minded, intelligent women I adore. They’ve been a godsend, as I live in a state where the first question I’m asked by another mom on the playground is “Where do you go to church?” so I don’t really have many real life friends.

(No offense if church gives you peace, but I consider my spirituality a private thing not to be discussed with strangers I’ve known all of 15 minutes. Maybe learn my last name before we wax existential.)

I don’t go out much. I isolate myself on purpose. Having a child means I don’t often get invited to fun things. That’s being a parent: I know the rules. I signed up for this.

Regardless, I’m lonely as fuck. Yes, even for an introvert. We introverts still need friends. We like to do things, too–just not every day. There’s a difference between needing a break between doing things to recharge, and being antisocial. I’m not antisocial. Humanity has disappointed me from my biological father onward, but I still believe people are generally good, I promise.

I do.

It has occurred to me lately, however, that I probably could have written two books with the time I’ve lost commenting, reading linked articles, and mindlessly staring at random mental offerings on fucking Facebook.

What else could I have done with my time? All that precious time.

Social media in all forms is a time-suck, and Facebook is, for me, the biggest rabbit hole of them all.

I will scan Twitter for the latest shitty things happening in our country, and be burned out very quickly. We’re all shouting into a void together, watching the world burn in real time. Sarcastic thumbs up. I can take about 5 minutes of that shit. No addiction there.

Instagram is like looking through a photo album for a few minutes and done. I’m good. I can easily stop.

Pinterest bored me. I lasted about a year and deleted it when I got an email notice my account was hacked because I didn’t care. Bye-ee.

I feel too old for the app with all the cutesy animal and flower filters. Like I’m someone’s sad mom trying to wear Forever 21 clothes and go clubbing with my adult daughter. Can’t Snapchat without feeling self-conscious about my age.

Facebook, however, is a trap. It’s an addictive maze built by other people’s hopes, dreams, problems, angst, joy, vitriol, politics, and constant images to be wandered through lost, turning corners, desperately trying to find the way out of their heads. It’s like being smacked repeatedly in the face by hundreds of turbulent psyches at the same time. I find it entirely overwhelming.

I read my Facebook feed in a state of panic, sorting through the wreckage, looking for the happier thoughts to pull free and save–but I can never get to them all.

Sometimes the injustice of something horrible will compel me to share it, hoping to help in some small way, to shed light on the darkness. I almost always later delete these anger-shares, realizing I’m helping nothing. I’m spreading darkness, not awareness. No light there.

Sometimes I stumble across a happy story, like a shiny penny heads-up in a dirty parking lot, and I share it, desperately hoping to make someone else feel a lucky, rare moment of happiness, too.

Then I feel ashamed of my privilege because I can pretend the bad things aren’t happening if I look away–I have the luxury of only sharing happy, shiny things if I want–yet ignoring evil never helped anything change for the better.

So I freeze and share nothing. Or share it all. But no matter what, I always feel like I’m doing it wrong.

Facebook is a psychological disaster.

It’s too much. I’m a really sensitive person, but really, it’s too much for anyone. We weren’t built for this. It’s not supposed to be like this.

Yay! We’re so connected now! we crow triumphantly, ignoring all the ways “being connected” has torn us apart, and in many ways created more separation between humans than ever before.

And the stupid, stupid little high school drama fights. I usually delete argument-baiting comments from nitwits and move on, but recently engaged with one–and it was one of the most ridiculous interactions I’ve ever experienced. I felt my IQ drop 10 points for letting a pathetic troll goad me into responding. Never again.

I also feel like an idiot for not realizing how vulnerable to data theft we have all been because duh, as people have said since the inception of Facebook, WE are the product being sold. That’s why it’s free. (Because it’s not.)

I’m now considering shutting down my profile. I used to take breaks from Facebook, but I’ve seen so many snide memes and comments about people announcing that they’re leaving that I’ll probably quietly step away for real, rather than only taking a break.

Because I often have multiple private messages waiting on Facebook when I come back from a break, I used to post a comment that I was leaving for a bit because the thought of someone reaching out to me and not receiving an answer made me feel guilty. (I’m almost entirely motivated by guilt. It’s a living.)

Leaving a comment on my timeline as a “Taking a break, not ignoring you!” placeholder notice was never meant as a dramatic “Please beg me to stay/tell me you’ll miss me!” attention grab, as I didn’t say I wasn’t coming back–it was merely me trying to be polite and/or informative. Yet I see asshole-ish memes about doing this, implying I’m supposed to leave people hanging out in my inbox indefinitely, wondering why I’m not answering. (Yes, I’ve come back to “Did I piss you off? Why aren’t you answering?” messages.)

So I think the thing to do is to deactivate my profile without warning–except disappearing quietly from lives is now known to the exquisitely insecure among us as “ghosting,” and is a bad thing, according to the latest articles written by most-likely toxic people who get “ghosted” a lot and don’t want to accept responsibility for their crappy behavior.

(Because placing a boundary and walking away from someone who doesn’t treat you well without reaching out to make absolutely sure they know why they suck is “ghosting” and the kind thing to do? Ummm… yeah. Okay, butt-hurts. Keep telling yourselves that, but I promise you didn’t want to have that talk with me about your bullshit before I walked. It wasn’t going to be nicer than me stepping away quietly. Trust.)

So basically, I can’t win. I can either announce I’m taking a break or leaving for awhile so the snide people can feel superior, roll their eyes, and say, “Gosh, just leave, drama queen!” -OR- I can make myself go away without fuss, and then I’m a dick who’s “ghosting” everyone if I don’t send a personal message to each of the the hundreds of people I know, explaining kindly why I’m leaving them.

See? Dumb.

It’s all so dumb.

I have better things to do.

They might also be dumb, but at least they’ll be dumb for me.

(“Dumb for Me” would make a great memoir title. Dibs.)

I don’t want to think about dumb shit like this anymore. My brain is full of dumb social media things and I want it to be full of cool things.

I want to learn another language. Or two.

I bought art supplies and a stack of canvases two Christmases ago, and I have wanted to paint since, but haven’t done it. I want to try painting.

I have GarageBand and a son who’s a whiz with it who can help me record music, and I’ve been playing guitar. I want to do more of that. I want to write songs again.

I want my writing to mean something. So whenever I feel like writing, or venting, or babbling on Facebook, I’m going to come here instead to do it, because at least then my thoughts aren’t disappearing into the mind-numbing ether of a pointless timeline scroll. My words have a roof over their head here instead of limply trying to perform in Zuckerberg’s Unraveling Circus.

I want to do yoga again, in addition to strength training. I was meditating daily for a while with my son and we both loved it. I want to start doing that again, too.

We were having weekly board game night and stopped. I want to play board games and non-screen activities with my kid. I want to take walks.

More than anything, I want to stop catching myself staring down at my stupid smartphone like all the other zombies, mindlessly tapping and scrolling while our necks wrinkle in new and exciting ways, when I’m surrounded by living human beings I should be talking to in person.

It’s not worth it.

I want to feel again.

I want my life back.