Sunday, December 30, 2012

The year in review...

Recapping 2012...  Where to begin?  Oh, I know.  How 'bout this?  2012 was even suckier than 2011.  And I reeaaally thought 2011 was our suckiest year ever.  Then, along came 2012 to prove to me that I was incorrect in that assessment.  Like a little smartypants, 2012 had to show me I don't know as much as I think I do.  2012 was a year full of surprises, such as: 
  • I'm surprised I'm still married (I suppose the hub is, too- so I'm not dissing the man behind his back.  If we weren't Christians, I'm fairly certain we wouldn't be.  Yes, it's gotten that rough.  Seriously, how do non-believers stand each other when times get tough?  What do they fall back on?). 
  • I'm surprised we still have a roof over our heads.  Business continues to be poor.  The hub has no job at all right now, in fact- and once again, we have no idea what's going to happen, which is just fanflippingtastic. 
  • I'm surprised I'm not in a rubber room somewhere singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to an imaginary friend, which is not a testament to my strength, but to God's. 
  • I'm still fat.  That one?  Not so much a surprise.
Boom.  Done.  My End of Year Recap in under 30 seconds.  Hope you liked it. 

Of course, I still see the good.  There was some good.  There is always something to be thankful for, right?  My kids are all alive, healthy and doing well.  We've had setbacks, but we're still here.  I have precious friends and family who have been there for us through all the stress.  And I know that, as bad as the past two years have been, it could always be worse.  So, thank God it wasn't!  Focus on the GOOD, amen?

How was your year?  I hope it was better than mine.  And I say that with absolute sincerity.  Because, did I mention?  My year?  Not so much with the good.  Honestly, I'm not sure this old girl can handle another year as rough as the last two.  Please, God, let 2013 be a good year; a year of health, happiness, safety, blessings and profitable jobs.

Maybe I shouldn't even be doing a post like this right now- one that requires reflection and contemplation- considering the mood I've been in.  I don't especially like people right now.  Just call me... Miss Ann Thrope. ...Or Eeyore. Take your pick. I'm giving up on humanity.

So consider yourself warned. Here it comes.

I've been in a funk, I guess you could say, although I really hate that expression.  Funk.  What does that even mean?  It makes me think of Sly and the Family Stone, or something (That band always looked like they were having So. Much.  Fun, y' know?  I'm sure there were considerable chemical enhancements going on.  But...  I digress).

Ehhnywaay. I've just been in a really dark, dreary slump since before the holidays and I can't seem to shake it.  I keep trying, but...  Meh. 

I felt a Scrooge-y mood coming on while being sick for so long.  That gets a little depressing after a while, especially around the holidays when you have much to do with a deadline looming and know you're not going to get it done.  I got better for a few days, then got sick again.  And I'm still sick.  I'm exhausted.  This year's batch of crud really seems to be hitting hard.  Lots of people are in the same boat, I know.  And I feel for ya.  My kids all seem to finally be past it.  Thank God for that.  Please, let it stay that way. My turn next!

Then Scrooge became mixed with... Oh, I don't know...  Sylvia Plath, maybe?  The shootings in CT...  God help us.  Was there anything worse than that?  That brought everyone down.  Obviously.  And then the crap storm that followed.  Good Lord.  What a downer. 

I don't know why I still get shocked over how easily (and quickly) supposedly sane, rational human beings can become, um... not sane and rational, but I do.  Sometimes it seems that all of mankind is striving to devolve into chimpanzees, flinging poop at each other.  And that makes me sad.  And scared.  

And so... I find myself often wishing I could just go back to bed.  And that's not good.

Remember how after 9/11, people kind of came together for a little while?  How that tragedy sort of unified everyone?  It didn't matter who believed what...  Everyone was on the same side.  For a few minutes.  People understood that the crisis involved all of us and it was bigger than any one person's opinion and that was good for us (not the tragedy, obvs- but the reminder that we, as Americans, can choose to unite when needed). 

Those days are gone, aren't they?  They're not coming back.  The crises we currently face as a society are many.  And serious.  But no one has that rally together, can-do spirit anymore.  It's a 'scr*w you' spirit, if anything.  There's no desire to find common ground; not in our government, and not with individuals. 

It rarely occurs to anyone now to think, "You know...  Maybe I don't have all the answers.  This particular moment may not be the appropriate time for me to shout my political opinions in your face.  Maybe this one flippin' moment isn't all about me and I should shut up for a second and listen." 

No... No one listens. No one compromises. No one respectfully disagrees or believes in "live and let live" anymore.  Now we only focus on the things that divide.  No, it's worse than that-- we try to divide.  We look for the scab to pick.  We incite.  We instigate.  We blame.  We put our fingers in our ears to block out every voice but our own and we blame.  We blame.  We blame. 

Society is unraveling and everyone just wants to yank on the threads.

Am I being a drama queen?  I honestly feel like the country's headed for Hell in a hand basket, although I've never been sure of what, exactly, a hand basket is (Is it just a basket with handles?).  Is that overly dramatic, or just an accurate observation? 

Well, well...  This was a little tangent I hadn't planned to explore.  But since it's out there, I'm going to go with it, because there's been a lot of stuff rattling around up here that needs to find its way out.

I guess I can actually tie this topic back into the idea of the New Year, and an annual recap...  Since the current level of political, social, religious, and cultural discord in our country is leading me into a new attitude.  I feel a change taking place in my heart and mind. 

I've recently learned (am learning) that anyone who doesn't want to know what I think is not really my friend and is not worth my time.  Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?  But this 46 year old has spent years behaving like an awkward, nerdy 10 year old who convinces herself that the cool kids laughing at her are laughing with her and really are her friends. 

I touched on this a little in my last post, too- so I don't want to be a broken record, here...  But, I often feel it's me- and only me- who is left feeling like I should apologize after a disagreement for how I think or feel- no, for who I am- just to "keep the peace," even if I'm the one who was hurt or offended.  Do you ever feel that way? 

I'm done with that. 

2013 is going to bring out a new Michelle.  A more confident, happier Michelle, I hope.  I refuse to apologize for who I am anymore.  For what I do or say (if it's wrong)?  Yes, definitely.  But I'm sick of walking on eggshells to keep some people appeased and tiptoeing around the feelings of people who care nothing about mine.  I'm soooo sick of carefully trying to craft Every. Single. Flipping. Word I say, like I'm writing a legal document, for Pete's sake, so as not to offend someone who is bound and determined to be offended.  You know people like this, too, right?  Those who look for arguments?  Who pick out one or two words among the many you've spoken to zero in on and gripe?  They want to be offended, so they can complain about being offended, while not giving a rat's a** about offending you

So, my New 2013 Motto:  If you don't like me?  Okay.  Someone else will.  And doggone it...  I like me (said in my very best Stuart Smalley voice).

Does that mean the new, improved 2013 Michelle is going to be a Gigantic Horse's Butt?  No.  Well, no more than usual, anyway.  I'm not saying I will dig in my heels, try to be more offensive and refuse to apologize for it.  That would make me as self-centered, hypocritical and inconsiderate as some of my so-called "tolerant, open-minded" friends.

So, maybe the main change for the new year will not be so much in my own external behavior, but in learning to redefine the word Friend; learning to value myself enough to free myself from the people who have not earned that title.

I'm very aware there are times when I don't choose my words and deeds carefully enough and need to apologize (we all do that, peeps), so that won't change.  I try to be respectful to any friend- No, to anyone, really- who thinks differently than I do (within reason, of course. I wouldn't be respectful if you were proposing we go down to the crick and drown a bag of kittens, for example), and I certainly don't plan on changing that.  I like the fact that, while my opinions and beliefs are strongly held and deeply felt, I'm still able to sit and listen to yours without turning into a rabid dog going for your throat.  And I'd be oh-so-happy if others would extend the same courtesy to me. That's what a friendship is.  A give and take.  An open exchange.  A two-way street, and all that happy crap. 

I'm willing to consider the different angles of an issue.  I may not change my opinion, but I'll at least put everything on the table and have a look.  Some things are black and white, but many things are not.  And when we become entrenched and unyielding in those things that are not, we lose the ability to see the solution.  We lose Reason.  Not to mention?  We make total arses of ourselves and lose credibility, along with the respect of others. 

I do try to understand where others are coming from, and how they got there, even if I can't agree with their views or ideas. I hope to learn from them. I want to learn from them. That's what makes us grow and be better people, right? But frankly?  Some of my more Liberal-leaning friends acquaintances (no, my friends are not this obtuse, so we'll say acquaintances) don't really give a crap to learn anything from me. They don't feel they need to, after all. Because they're right and I'm wrong and I just need to benefit from their pithy, Anderson Cooper-y wisdom. It's clear that some of them think their Liberal views give them an intellectual and moral superiority. And I don't especially like being castigated or talked down to, thank you very much, like I'm just some big ol' dufus, especially by those who are too unintelligent to craft an argument without resorting to name-calling (BIGOT! CLOSED-MINDED! STUPID! CRAZY! JACKA**!) to make their point  (way to go, btw, on that whole anti-bullying thing, there, guys.  Dan Savage's anti-bullying campaign, for example, where he goes into high schools and rips pages from Bibles, calls the Bible "BS" and calls Christian kids pansy-as*ed really helps to drive home the message that tolerance is right and bullying is wrong). 

And by the way, as long as I'm rambling about the name-calling...  You know, being devout or steadfast in one's beliefs is not the same thing as being "closed-minded."  Closed-minded means: "Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments."  (I believe, in fact, there is a pic of Dan Savage next to the dictionary entry).  I can be resolute in my own beliefs while still being receptive and willing to listen to and tolerate yours.  Can you?  When you accuse me of being closed-minded because my beliefs don't line up with yours, yet you won't take time to learn why and how I feel as I do...  It is you, dear one, who is the closed-minded one.

Anyhoozy...  I'm just finally realizing that if you don't want to hear what I think, how I feel, how I view the world...  If you can't listen to a few mentions of God, faith or prayer without cringing, mocking and rolling your eyes (while giving me the "Wow, I didn't realize you're such a moron" look)...  If the phrases "family values," "right to bear arms," etc., make you ready to pounce before you even bother to ask me what those ideas mean to me...  If I'm supposed to tolerate and accept your views with an open mind, while you refuse to tolerate or even listen, respectfully to mine...  Well, then...  You don't truly have an interest in KNOWING ME, do you?  Which means... (and this is where my awesome deductive reasoning skills come into play) you are NOT my friend. 

For the record, I disagree with my Conservative friends, too, sometimes- and they with me. I'm not trying to single out one crowd over the other, just calling it like I see it. I find there's a more willing, open exchange of ideas with them; more room to disagree than with Liberals. They don't seem as determined to impose their beliefs upon me when we differ, or as eager to "correct" my supposed errant way of thinking.

In all honesty, I will probably continue to go the extra mile with difficult people and offer them the respect I wish they'd show me, but I will no longer apologize for who I am.  I can't count the number of times the words "I'm sorry" have come out of my mouth when they shouldn't have; when I'd done or said nothing wrong.

I am a Conservative.  Conservative is not synonymous with Idiot, Bigot, Hate-Monger, or Racist.  I am none of those things. 

I am a Christian.  Being a person of faith does not mean I am irrational, unreasonable, childish, backwards or stupid.  "Christian" does not just describe my belief system.  It's not a religion, as I'm not a particularly religious person.  Christian is who I am.  It's part of me.  The biggest part.  It colors every other thing I think and do.  And I like that about myself.  It is not wrong and it will not change.  If you don't like those things, then you don't like ME.

I hope I've made this clear and don't really need to say it, but, obviously, this little discourse does not apply to all of my Liberal friends.  Some of you are very open-minded and willing to consider and rationally discuss different sides of an issue, and I appreciate that quality so much.  Some of you are very kind and respectful to others whose beliefs and views differ from yours.  Thank you for that!  And yay, you.  That's part of what makes me love you!  In fact, I'd say that all of the people I truly consider my friends are that way.  So if my Happy New Year Dissertation doesn't apply to you?  Please don't get all bent out of shape and try to pick a fight or leave a nasty comment...  Or jump me in the parking lot.  I'm not up for it.  If I felt like fighting, I'd go chat with the hub (jk... kinda).

Oy.  This was an interesting little rabbit hole.  But there you have it.  The Michelle of 2013 is just as verbose and prone to veering all over the place as the Michelle of 2012.  I guess some of that's been back building for a while.  So, you see?  I told ya.  I'm in an ugly mood, and maybe should have waited for it to pass before posting.  But I don't think these feelings are going to fade anytime soon.

I'd better wrap it up, before I lose every friend I've ever had.  I sincerely do hope all of you have a happy New Year.  May 2013 be YOUR year!  And MINE! 

Despite my cruddy mood at present, my New Year's wish for you, friends, is this...
  • May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you and give you peace. (Nu. 6:24-26)
  • May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)
  • God bless us, every one! (Tiny Tim)
  • And may the odds be ever in your favor! (Hunger Games)
Happy New Year, Everybody!  Goodbye, 2012!

Friday, December 14, 2012

What are you worth?

Well, well, well… 

I, Michelle, Blogger Extraordinaire, awesomely awesome creative creator of the Bringing Blogging Back Campaign; the one who was going to single-handedly resurrect The Art of Writing About Absolutely Nothing, have done a darn fine job of keeping up with my own blog lately, haven’t I?

I have a good excuse.  Or excuses.  As some of you know, we had a brand new business open, and then go under, all in the span of 2 weeks.  That was fun.  And a little bit stressful.   When we fail around here, we fail BIG.  We don't go at it half-a**ed. 

Actually, we got the ol' 'flat head and phillips treatment' by Darrell’s business 'partner,' so the business didn’t just end abruptly.  It ended horrendously.  But, we’ll save those unpleasant details for another day.  The subject is still a little tender.  I don't wanna talk about it. 

Shortly after that, we had a death in the family.  Darrell’s uncle passed away last month and Darrell spent the last couple weeks of his uncle’s life taking care of him, pretty much 24/7.  He was an emotional basket case at the time, but is beginning to feel better now.

 And?  I got sick shortly before the time Darrell started staying at the hospital around the clock and have remained that way for the past 4 or 5 weeks, along with the kids, who have taken turns being sick off and on. 
So… do I get a pass for my blogging slackitude?
That last part is what this post is really about.  Not my slackitude.  The part about being sick, I mean.  …Well, not really.  It's not about being sick.  It’s about something I realized yesterday as a result of being sick.  Something big.

I went to the doctor yesterday, hoping to score some tasty antibiotics… or an assisted suicide, because I was ready to die.  I was desperate enough to enthusiastically welcome either one.  Seriously, I felt so, so crappy.  I’d known for about 2 weeks that I’d reached that level of Sick that wasn’t going to clear up on its own, yet I kept putting off making an appointment with the doctor.   First, we didn’t have the money.  Then, we got some money, but I knew there were ‘better’ ways to spend it.  Like on food, and stuff.  Toilet paper.  Slim Jims.  You know.
In the meantime, my throat, ear and chest hurt somethin’ awful, as we say here in Cowcrap County.  Basically, my chest has been congested to the point that I can’t breathe when I lay down.  It feels like Honey Boo Boo’s mom is sitting on my chest (which is a fun sensation for a claustrophobic!  Hello, panic attack!).  So, I keep sitting up throughout the night, gasping for air...  which also means I haven’t been sleeping.  TAdd to that fevers, chills and coughing fits and you got yourself a party.  Those coughing fits have been pretty intense and obnoxious little sleep interrupters, too.  So, I’m literally sick and tired- ha.
And?  A few of the kids and I have pink eye, too, which is a guaranteed good time and a surefire way to feel super sexy.  I'm considering changing my name to Job Jr. if I can be guaranteed that people will know it rhymes with lobe and not lob.

Since we are not insured, and this is The Most Wonderful Ridiculously Expensive Time of the Year, and an office visit costs roughly $56,080.03, I kept thinking hoping praying that I could hold on a little longer and maaaaybe it would clear up by itself.  I kept reminding myself of all the important things we needed the money for, or how many Christmas gifts I could buy for the kids with it.  So, I procrastinated until I literally felt like I needed to be in a hospital. 

Yes, literally. 
Anyhoodie…  The doctor gave me an injection in the office, to get a jump on the respiratory infection I have because I let it get so bad, and prescribed an additional week of oral antibiotics to make sure it cleared up completely, and I got a script for the super good cough syrup that actually works (with codeine or something in it, I think), then he sent me on my not-so-merry way. 
As I stood at the checkout counter, writing my check (for $148 and change- not $56,080.03), I felt horribly guilty.  Yeah...  Guilty.  Overwhelmingly so, like I'd committed a crime.  I felt bad that I couldn't just "tough it out" and get better by myself; that I wasn't a stronger, better person; that I was wasting so much money.  I felt so, so bad to be spending that chunk of my family’s money on the doctor instead of something important. 

Seriously, guys.  I was trying to blink tears out of my eyes as I wrote that check.  Not that anyone would have noticed the tears, thanks to the pink eye.
Then I realized…
I wasn’t spending it on the doctor.  I was spending it on ME.  I was spending it on my health and well-being.  Why was that not important?
And so…  I had an epiphany.  A little voice in my head said, “Have you ever noticed that you always apologize to your husband whenever you schedule a doctor's appointment for yourself?  Every single time.  You say, "I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to go to the doctor.  I can't take it anymore," as if it's an act of selfishness or a character defect to be sick.  You know something else?  You believe Christmas gifts for others, or a big ham for Christmas dinner, or even a bag of dog food ranks higher on the list of needs than your own health.  Your problem is not that you don't believe the doctor's visit is worth $148.00.  It's that you don’t believe your health is worth $148.00.  You don’t believe YOU are worth $148.00.” 
Well, cripes.  The little voice is right.  Man, I can't stand that chick sometimes. 
I realized I do this kind of thing a lot (I think we all, as women- and mothers- tend to put others ahead of ourselves, but…).   I am always feeling that I don’t deserve the same things everyone else does.  I often feel guilty for getting or even wanting the same things I believe others deserve.  

…Why is that? 
It’s that way whether it’s my health, or new clothes, or even how I allow others to treat me.  I can think of one or two relationships in my life right now that are… just... Not. Right.  I allow people to treat me in a way that I would never want my children to tolerate being treated.  And I just keep taking it.  Over and over.   
Some of these feelings of insecurity and unworthiness are common, I know, with adoptees.  But, jeez- I’m 46 years old.  That’s old enough to wear big girl panties and deal.  Isn’t it?  Am I destined to feel undeserving and crappy about myself for the rest of my flippin’ life because of something that happened in my infancy?  I'm stilll not sure I buy into that.  It's gotta be something else.  ...Doesn't it?
I’ve noticed the people in my life who tend to walk on me are also the types who are very self-assured and confident.  Or, at least, that’s how they seem.  These are the types who expect respect from others and they get it.  They always believe they are right.  They rarely apologize for being wrong (I feel I’m wrong all the time, for Pete’s sake.  I feel guilty when I know I haven’t done anything wrong.  Sometimes, it feels that apologizing is all I do.).  These people expect to get their way because they believe they deserve it.  They drive me nuts with their arrogance, and yet...  I'm envious of them.  I want what they have; whatever IT is that makes them value themselves so highly.  Not that I'd want to be a self-centered jerk to others.  I don't want to be selfish; I just want to stop feeling guilty every time I want or need something, especially from other people.  I want to stop worrying that I'm putting someone out to ask for something. 

I just want to feel like I'm as worthy as the next guy.  I know, intellectually, that I am.  But I want to KNOW, with every part of me, that I am; to feel that level of confidence.

So...  How do I do that?

Anyone?  Anyone? ...Bueller?
I do know this:  I decided in that doctor’s office yesterday that I will never, ever, ever allow myself to get that sick again before making an appointment and taking care of myself.  

No one, and no thing will ever again convince me that I should tolerate being sick as long as I can.
That doesn't solve the problem, but maybe it’s a step in the right direction, at least.