Wednesday, May 24, 2006


This is why I love blogging: not only do you have a place to put down your thoughts, but you have wonderful people inside the magic box who read them and write back to you! Seriously, your comments mean so much, I wanted to address them in a separate post.

Tucker is doing much better, we played ball for the first time in a month yesterday – you’ve never seen a happier dog! For the first couple of days after the split was taken off he continued to hold up his leg when he was standing still, and only putting weight on it intermittently. We kept telling him to “put his foot down” and now he’s starting to forget to favor it. Our other dog Bailey continues to have problems with one of his ears, an on-going infection that gets better then gets worse again once the medicine has been used up. I’m stopping by the vet today to see if they’ll give me some other treatment to try without seeing him, no need to pay for a 5 second visit when he’s already been diagnosed. *sigh* It’s always something! And I want another doggie. At least I feel like I’m taking care of living beings that need me.

Avonlea, as usual, was right on the money. She said, “My experience with depression has been that it's a feeling of loss and anger that I've pushed down as far as I can, feeling those feelings does tend to alleviate the depression.” Part of my problem with resolving depression when it hits is figuring out which one of my myriad of issues I need to tackle to access the feelings. When I went back to therapy a couple of years ago I thought it was to deal with infertility, but after a few sessions we were right back talking about dear old mom again. “This can’t be about her, AGAIN!” I cried to my doctor. Alas, she is the root out of which all the other branches sprouted.

Avonlea also said, “But always waiting for something bad to happen - that's PTSD and that's the hardest thing to deal with. It sounds like your mother's "illnesses" were a traumatic force in your life and that you grew up without a sense of security.” She could not be more right. One of the dichotomies I struggle with is how afraid of my mother I always was. She was always sick, which in my mind is a sign of weakness, but she maintained the fear level partly by physical violence.

Partly she was just plain scary sometimes. Our cat had kittens when I was maybe 7 or 8 and instead of taking them to a pet shop or trying to give them away, she put them all in a sack and drowned them in the backyard. My sister and I cried and screamed and pleaded and clung to each other like survivors on the Titanic. She was unmoved.

She had a rubber strap that she used to “spank” us. I have no idea where this thing came from, maybe she had it made special, or made it herself? It was more of a paddle than a strap I guess, one piece of half-inch thick black rubber with a hand grip, perhaps 18 inches long in total. Looked sort of like this, without the festive dots. When we moved out of our original house when I was 16 my sister and I found it in the hall closet and destroyed it.

Once, after she had used the strap on my sister and I for some minor infraction of her rules, we went together to my Dad and asked him to help us, to see if he could make her stop. He said, “I don’t want her mad at ME!” We were crushed. At the time I thought that meant he didn’t want her to hurt him, but now I realize he meant he didn’t want to upset the fragile balance of civility he tried to maintain when he was home, and also he wanted to ensure he could get laid. Sorry, I know that’s crass but it’s the truth.

Any shred of security we might have felt was gone after that day, we realized we couldn’t count on him to step in no matter what she did.

Cricket advised me to “tend myself, because nobody else will do it, and sometimes that means to pause long enough to wallow.” Wallowing tends to sink me deeper into despair, I find myself thinking constantly about whatever is bothering me and I have to literally say to myself, “No, stop thinking about that.” There’s a fine line I’ve not yet mastered yet.

Sandy said, “There is a certain joy in finally being able to experience the emotion, but it does suck to feel it.” My question is, why do I have to keep feeling the same emotions and having the same feelings over and over? How many times do I have to grieve for it to take?

Coloratura inspired me to take advantage of the beauty around me. I’ve made a point of leaving the dogs inside and just sitting on the front porch with a cup of tea or coffee every day, listening to the birds and the Yurt Family next door, to the dogs in the neighborhood communicating and the wind in the trees. The other day I was driving with the sunroof open and my senses were overwhelmed with the perfume of Spring. It smelled like Nature’s candy – a mix of jasmine, bay, eucalyptus, freshly cut grass and wet fertile soil.

Bird asked about meds…I’m hesitant to mess with my Rx but I will do some research. I started taking it when I was having debilitating panic attacks, and it has basically eliminated them so I don’t want to mess with that. It doesn’t do as good a job with the depression, obviously. My sister is bi-polar and has been on lithium for many years. One of my many fears is that one day I will become full-blown bi-polar, which is highly unlikely, but I witnessed her rapid descent into the illness and it scared me.

Fertile Soullovingly stated that I’m not my mother. I can’t hear this enough, honestly, so thanks for that.

Kross-Eyed Kitty reminded me that my mother is mentally ill and there’s no ground to be gained in trying to fix, change, reconcile or understand her.

Tiff, Kath, Sue and Chee-Chee, you continued support is greatly appreciated, especially given that all of you out there have your own issues to deal with. I’m still working on that first memoir post. I found out last night that I’m finally going to meet my step-grandson this weekend! I’ll let y’all know how that goes. Every Memorial Day in recent memory we've attended a picnic with a bunch of D's old work buddies. This year I told D I was sick of being the only childless couple there so we aren't going. We'll be attending our local Art & Wine Festival with the dogs instead. I think that counts towards taking care of myself.


  1. Donna,
    Talk to your dr. about the meds. Tell him how you feel about it and ask if there is anything medical/pharmaceutical you could try. It's worth it.

    Bi-polar is scary, scary thing. I believe my husband has bi-polar but refuses to even acknowledge some issues, much less get medical treatment. Never know who will walk through the door at the end of the day. St. Johnswort has helped him a lot.

    Keep posting. I am thinking about you and hope that your blog is a good outlet for your feelings. I am going to add my e-mail address to my blog, so if you want to ever talk through email, you can write me.

  2. Dearest Donna,
    I wish I had words of wisdom to add the great advice you already received. I'll just state that I'm glad the dogs seem to be improving and that the Arts & Wine Festival sounds like a great plan.

    You've created such a healthy and wonderful life for yourself out there, that I know whatever you decide to move forward with will be the right choice for you.

    Hope the Yurt Family isn't making any trouble!

  3. I don't know what to advise about the depression. Sometimes I get it so badly i can barely function. I'm still up and down a lot and never feel entirely free of it.
    I'm glad the dogs are going well. The phoo with the cone on his head looks so cute.

  4. Sounds like steps in the right direction - the wine and arts thing is a good example of you taking good care of yourself.

    The experiences with your mother sound really scary. My mum hit us but only maybe 5 times in our entire childhood. When it happened she was in a rage. Luckily I've been able to talk to her about it, and understand where it came from.

    I know how you feel about going round and round in therapy. I said something v similar to my shrink a few years ago. Then I came up with an image that helped me. That this was like peeling the layers off an onion. An onion that was hit by a spade on the way out of the ground so it has a scar. Everytime you peel off the layer, the scar looks different. You spend time thinking about it, approaching it from different directions, then you realise it's the same scar. Then you peel off another layer and it takes you a while to realise again that it's the same scar...

    Also, it helped me to realise that I was never going to be fixed. Just that I was going to understand it better.

    Sorry this turned out to be all about me. Thank you for making me think.

  5. Oh sweetie.

    I have the same thoughts and feelings about feelings that never seem to go away. The only thing I can tell you is that I'm learning, I'm learning that living in the present moment also means not being in the past with those feelings, and yet, sometimes they do need to be felt before you can move on, and felt each time they come up.

    I've been through counseling and medication I'm finding the answer - peace in buddhism, meditation and yoga, walks with the dog, etc.

    Peace is something that takes effort, living in the present moment, takes effort. But there is joy in the world and we can be a part of it.

  6. The story about the kittens and the strap is so child should witness such things. :-(

    We will be at the Art & Wine festival on Sunday. Let me know if you're going on that day and I'll look for you.

  7. Donna
    You are not your mother, you are not your mother, you are not your mother ....
    (and thank-you for still reading about my crap - it makes me feel slightly less lonely through all this).

  8. Hey, I was just thinking about you and this post, and wanted to send a hug your way.

  9. Dear Donna, what you wrote about your mother really hit hard. A picture is forming of someone who was extremely narcissistic and kept everyone off kilter all the time. It's an effective dominance technique, and when it's used on children it can keep them off-balance well into their own adulthoods and beyond.

    I'm so sorry, my dear. You deserved kindness and a solid ground and protection from harm, and you got horribly cheated.

    And I will say again that you are not your mother. You are kind and fair and thoughtful, and nothing you let yourself feel will ever change that.

  10. Donna,

    Your mom's cruelty is utterly unimaginable. I wish there would have been a way to spare you of just a portion of it. I'm especially sorry that your dad chose to protect himself rather than intervening on your behalf.

    I am glad that you've opted not to attend the Memorial Day picnic. Doing things that you want to do, like attending the Art and Wine Festival and taking care of your dogs trumps doing things you feel obliged to do any day of the week.

    Take care.

  11. Umm, I missed the earlier post, but you are definitely not your mother. And for the record, I am not my crazy-ass mother either.

  12. omideargod... Donna... I haven't popped in for a bit... and I'm completely overwhelmed. My remarks are likely to be completely disjointed...

    ok.... I wrote, deleted, and rewrote my comment four times...

    I'll have to come back... just know that I stand completely in AWE of your formidable strength.


  13. I'm so happy to hear you went to the festival instead of the torture gathering. That is a very healthy choice! :)

    Some of the things you mention bring back memories of my childhood. I sent you an email. :)