“Womanly” potential

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After “Quincineara Beat Down“, you can see that I’m struggling with a topic, and still trying to find a way to say EXACTLY what I mean.

At this point, I’m still struggling with my lack of sexual activity.  Part of it is due to my underlying illness, and part of it is due to family obligations where my partner is raising his foster son (again), and being the primary caregiver for his 80-year-old Mother. It’s a long and complicated story, but it’s sufficient to say that I’m not getting any and it’s ok.

But, just because I’m not getting busy with anyone does not mean that I am blind to the reality that women are facing today – the fact that we must be “feminine” and “womanly” before we’re anything else.

That focus on womanliness has been the bane of my existence because I’m not a girly girl.

In fact, if you’d asked me, I’m more like Mr. Spock on a good day, with everything being analyzed, especially intimacy and sexual issues.

For me, the need to don war paint, wear “feminine” clothing, and otherwise be anything but what I choose to be on any given day just feels like a fraud.  Why aren’t I good enough, just as I am, straight out of the package?  Why must I be dressed up and focusing on my appearance 24 x 7 x 365 in order to be “womanly”?

No answers here, but it’s still lingering in the back of my brain as the liver doctor wants me to see a nutritionist (which appears to be code for bariatric surgery), and I want nothing to do with that request if it involves surgery, or if it means I’m going to lose weight.

My weight is part of my wellness program (moving to CA 33 years ago and putting on 60 pounds happens to be choices that allowed me to live much longer than expected, AND stay out of the hospital).

 

Diplomacy challenged.

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I belong to the MyCOPDteam website, which is a support group for people battling COPD and trying to find resources in fighting this crazy disease.

I say COPD is crazy because even the so called “experts” on the disease – the docs, respiratory specialists and patients themselves – can’t all agree on it’s causes, triggers, definitions, etc., etc., etc.; making for a rollercoaster ride of things to consider and try in order to remain healthy on a case-by-case basis.

Into these care and treatment considerations come the various personalities of the patients and their caregivers and loved ones, willy nilly, with very little opportunity to filter in or out anyone who may be unhealthy for your individual state of mind.

There are key issues to be addressed with any chronic health issue, but the most important questions don’t get addressed until much further in the online support community, long after you have emotionally engaged with an internet friend or foe and their health outcomes.

Being a crabby New Englander, I was taught that a friend, no matter how boon a companion in real life, is still an “acquaintenance” until you’ve known them and been friendly for at least five (5) to ten (10) years.  What then are the rules for boundary management in internet life?

The reasons for the 5-10 year minimum getting-to-know-you period or reasonable limit is because people lie.  Or prevaricate.  Or put on one personality in public, but may actually be a whole other soul-sucking personality over time.  Until you’ve been in the trenches with someone, you don’t kniw who they are, but rather have bought a bill of goods they are selling you about their personality.

Into this picture comes the art of real life vs. internet life, and how well one manages the graces and decorum in the troll-filled universe we sometimes inhabit in the internet determines in a big way whether or not one is a fan of spontaneous interaction.  With strangers.  And their relatives.

I’ve done pretty well in the 1:1 world of Better Breather Classes.  I am who I am, and I participate fully.  Take me or leave me, but you won’t say you didn’t “notice me”.  And, we all have an unstated but clearly understood rule about manners and communication and kindness.  When in doubt – don’t say it, don’t do it – keep things running smoothly and ensure everything is non-confrontational and polite.  Everyone handles their chronic illnesses differently, and it’s not my business to police your interactions with others.  There is no “right” way to handle how you deal with your illness aggravations and vulnerability as you age.

I’ve also done pretty well in the world of internet dating, breaking through the safety wall to meet and date (or drop) the object of my potential lust and affections.  Because of the boundaries I created to protect my real world identity, few people got to be facebook-level friends  as my answer was always, “No.  You have my contact info on this (other) site.  Until we meet in the real world and decide that we know what we want from each other in terms of public behavior and manners, we’re fine staying friends on this (other) site and not on facebook.  There is no “right” way to handle how you deal with your love life and carnal desires, but I draw the line at starring in an episode of “Cheaters”, or of having your relationship drama rain all over the people in your life – online or in the real world.

So, with these experiences in mind, as I’m dealing with the bleed-thru of the MyCOPDteam friendly acquaintenances and their connections into facebook, I’m finding more things are getting on my nerves.

First, I’m not religious, so the whole “Prayer Warriors, I need your help” demand as a constant background battle cry is exhausting.

Second, we don’t all deal with the inevitable complications and end of life decisions the same way, so my diplomacy is being stretched thin as I go on facebook at all hours of the day and night, unprepared to deal with what can be endless drama in my otherwise lighthearted facebook experience by people who are chronically ill and showing their chronic illness panties – intentionally or otherwise – for all the world to see and remark upon.

Unless it’s siloed among my own family and extended family members – a place where it’s much easier to identify the landmines and avoid them through years of real-world exposure – I don’t wanna know.

 

Squirrel !

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I have the attention span of a flea.

Could be my historic ADHD, or it could be that I am no longer tied to a fixed time table, allowing my messy tendencies to take over my life.  Whatever it is, I’m currently:

– Cooking a pulled pork meal in the slow cooker

– Cleaning the cat’s room

– Writing this blog

– Taking a nap (seriously)

– Trying to publicize our upcoming shows

– Trying to update our website

– Calling a friend to see if she wants to go for a walk by the shoreline on Sunday

I can never do just one thing.  Never.

Meanwhile, I was supposed to get out of bed, tag some jewelry, and deliver it to our store in Salinas.  Yep.  Squirrel !  That so didn’t happen today.

Now, it’s many hours later.

– The pulled pork is done and made eight (8) different meals (I love the freezer – so much less waste).

– I just finished changing the cat’s water and replenishing the kibble (she got pork drippings earlier for dinner – I know, I’m a bad cat parent feeding her people food)

– I’ve had at least two (2) naps, as my ankles are horribly swollen since it was in the 80’s today

– The website didn’t get updated

– The original blog post that caused this stream of thought, a brilliant blog about dealing with Anxiety, never got pimped (until now, even though I’ve completely lost my train of thought about why it was so good).

– And, I’m about to sit down and make some more jewelry as I’ll be heading to Salinas tomorrow, if all goes well.  One can never tell what my reality will be vs. what I plan for it to be the night before.  Squirrel !

 

Spoons

I can’t tell if I’m lazy or tired.  I can’t tell if I’m the source of the problem, or if forces beyond my control are holding me back and limiting me.

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Every day, it’s a challenge of positive thinking and trying vs. very real exhaustion and pain, plus limited financial resources.

Today’s the day my 2016 taxes were supposed to be done in order to comply with the law and get my refund.

Well, I missed that deadline.  Despite working on my  taxes with great intent since December.

…Is it my old nemesis, Laziness?

…Is it my “You’re not the boss of me!” reactionary thinking?

Today’s spoon theory above is contrasting with the, “Achievers do this” meme, below:

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While I know I’m willing to embrace change and fail in order to make progress in my life, I’m finding I have zip for “staying power”.  While I do accept full responsibility for my behavior, what does that mean in the bigger picture of my exhaustion causing me very real dollars in terms of handling my responsibilities?

No idea at this point, but since I’m sitting here writing a blog instead of getting on with life, I’m voting for some sort of laziness and ennui bolstering my very real exhaustion as demonstrated by the spoon theory / battery life poster:

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When you’re on vacation, there are distractions to keep your adrenaline pumping and driving you to keep up.  At home?  When I’m chilled and trying to find my motivation?  Nope.

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Today has now become a new chance to clean up an old mess or failure.

 

Thinking

Melanie got me thinking in her latest SparksFromACombustableMind blog, “Getting to know you“.  So, before I do what I came here to do tonight, I’ll start off by answering her questions.  Anyone reading this can feel free to jump in or not, as they wish.

QUESTIONS:

What keeps you up at night?

What’s the most surprising self-realization you’ve had?

What’s the most illegal thing you’ve done?

What lie do you tell most often?

What do you regret not doing?

What gives your life meaning?

What do you most often look down on people for? What do you think other people look down on you for?

What bridges do you not regret burning?

What are you most insecure about?

How do you get in the way of your own success?

What’s one thing you did that you really wish you could go back and undo?

What are you afraid people see when they look at you?

ANSWERS:

What keeps you up at night?

Anything and everything.  Why am I here?  Why do my feet burn?  Why didn’t I stay up longer until I was tired enough to ignore my pain and sleep.  You get the idea.  All self-centered things, combined with whomever I talked off the ledge that day, or whomever came a little closer to losing the battle that we all share when fighting COPD.  And, despite it all, it is a fight to face your mortality each and every day and remind yourself that you’re fine and that today is not THAT day.

What’s the most surprising self-realization you’ve had?

As annoying as I can be, I do have people that like me.  Really, really like me.

What’s the most illegal thing you’ve done?

Shop lifting.  As a kid, I’d steal the bottles from the back of the store and return them to the front in order to get cash for candy.  Or, I’d shoplift.  I don’t know where I was when I got the idea that this was the thing to do, but I know exactly where I was when I was busted by the store owner.  I was with my big city cousin, visiting her neighborhood, and yet I only remember me being busted.

What lie do you tell most often?

“Do what you want.  I don’t care.”  While I know that everyone will do exactly what they want, but I do care, and passionately, that they make the decision that I think is best for them.  Yep.  Shades of my Mother’s daughter.  It’s like I’m the only one in the world that can see its pitfalls, and like Wonder Woman, I must protect everyone from themselves all while standing to the side and allowing them to make their own mistakes.  Crazy.

What do you regret not doing?

Not being brave enough to defy my Mother’s worries and join the Merchant Marine upon graduation from High School.  I really wanted to be Julie McCoy, even though I’ve never been innocent enough or perky enough.  But, wiser heads counseled me on everything that she knew I’d hate, and so I listened and made a new plan.

What gives your life meaning?

Nothing.  Seriously.  I’ve struggled with the meaning of life since I was about 5 years old and I lost my baby brother and almost lost my Mother to her heartache.  It’s been 53 years, and I’m still clueless and no wiser about why we are all here and what it’s all supposed to mean.

What do you most often look down on people for? What do you think other people look down on you for?

  1. What do you most often look down on people for? Abandoning their responsibilities to children or the people that love them.  Yeah, those bags got packed a long time ago for me, and even though I made it out alive, I still worry about letting someone I’m responsible for down.  Even though I’m only responsible for myself.
  2. What do you think other people look down on you for?  THAT list is endless.  But, since I’m not supposed to be concerned with what others think of me, I try to ignore that question as people will be who they are and think what they like, regardless of the truth or circumstances.

What bridges do you not regret burning?

Kicking Daddy Dearest out of my life.  While there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and wonder how he’s doing, he needs more care than I can provide to deal with his toxic unhappiness.

What are you most insecure about?

My physical safety.  As my body fails me, that worry comes back to the forefront more and more often even though no one has jumped me in years, or been mean to my face.  I just worry about cliques and mob mentalities and frailty.

How do you get in the way of your own success?

My own big mouth.  Seriously.  I know it, yet I still keep on talking.  I never learn.

What’s one thing you did that you really wish you could go back and undo?

I was a horrible 12 year old raising a 4 year old while our Mother fought depression and Daddy Dearest did his manipulating best to steal everything not nailed down from our Mother, including her children.  Into this den of snakes, I was cast in the role of child minder – even though everyone in the world KNOWS that I suck at nurturing and child care.  I had some scary moments with my Baby Sis when she was supposed to mind me, and I was not supposed to lose control of her, ever, and yet we’d be off doing something in the big city and she’d sass me and I’d lose my mind with fear that I would not be able to keep her with me as she’d run off and I’d have failed in my responsibilities to care for her, as well as failed in my attempts to give her a fun day out.

Despite our best efforts to get along, share vacations, and generally enjoy each other as adults that can choose whether or not to be in each other’s life, she has decided that I’m persona non grata and I’m clueless as to what it was that I did that was the last straw.

The baggage between the two of us is so bad that she hasn’t talked to me since 2015, and I’m still not clear about what caused me to be tossed from her life as the toxic personality.  I’d fix it if I could, but it takes two so I’m just trying not to cause her heartache by pestering her while missing her desperately.

What are you afraid people see when they look at you?

A silly, useless old woman. Family Collage

Galoshes?

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Yes, I have way too much time on my hands in Winter.

One of our fellow bloggers, Marilyn Armstrong, has reminded me of how lucky I am to be an escapee from Massachusetts’ Wintery ice world; I haven’t thought of (or even had to consider) the existence of galoshes in years.

Given the crazy rain and flooding we can have, I *do* have a staple from my childhood, mud boots, acquired since I moved to the boonies and given the flooding our county suffered in the Winter downpours of 2016 / 2017.  But, I haven’t thought of galoshes in years.

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In my case, the mud boots were an impulse buy from the local tractor supply store when I was out and about shopping for trees (I’d like a flowering almond, a dog wood, or a weeping cherry tree for that rear corner of the yard, by my neighbor’s shed).

Flowering Almond tree:

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or a Dogwood tree:

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Or, a Weeping Cherry:

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Whatever it is that I ultimately decide to do, I want something in the far left corner of my miniscule lot, far enough away from the house to not dominate my pocket of sunshine, and yet far enough away from one neighbor’s fence line and another neighbor’s shed (a butt ugly color – kind of a pale yellow, almost a beige) to not create reasons why I *must* talk to neighbors about my tree bothering their property.

If I can find a way to make an English cottage garden thrive in drought country, without planting trees that will grow too tall to block my sunlight, AND find a way to add a small fish pond, I’m going to do it.

– after I get the skirting finished

– after I get the electrical updated to add replacement fans

– after…  etc., etc., etc.  (This whole homeownership business can fill a lot of day dream time and distract you from whatever’s going on in the real world, if you let it).

 

I’ve decided to put off dealing with the landscaping until I can hire someone to do it right (and handle all the heavy digging and landscaping for me).  But, I still shop and sketch and think about what I’d like to put in that corner.  And, which shopping led me to the impulse buy of mud boots.  $19.99 at the feed and tractor store.  A bargain !

When I get the crazy notion to walk the fields behind my mobile home park, those goofy boots are perfect for dealing with any mud, protecting my feet in the event of rattlesnakes, and generally making me look like a harmless doofus, so that whosever abandoned property it may be will be assured that I’m harmless should they see me on their security cameras.

That being said, though, I’m about done with Winter.  I know it doesn’t compare to anything SparksFromACombustibleMind is enduring, because I ran away from much tamer Winters than she experiences in the mountains of Utah or my Aunt can see nearby in the mountains of Nevada / Las Vegas.  But, I have had enough of being housebound.

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We’re supposed to have a blood red wolf moon on Sunday night into Monday night, with a star gazing event planned to be able to get out of the house and enjoy it.  So, I’d appreciate if the storms would stop.  Please.  I’ve truly begun to turn into a mushroom, I’ve been stuck in this house so long…

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Dear Dr Ruth… Part II

I could have called this “Dale’s Departure”, too, as this is more than a sex blog, but you decide what to call it yourself, after you finish reading, if you’ve decided to continue with this tale.

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The original chat I’m writing about first began in Dear Dr. Ruth.    For those of you still interested in this chat, here’s the latest chapter where I pretend to be an expert on something that I’ve only dabbled in and researched on my own.  (Photo credit is “Quantum Leap”, and an episode where Sam got cast as Dr. Ruth).  

Sex and sexuality continues to be a huge taboo in the lives of healthy people, never mind folks who are disabled or dealing with a chronic illness.  I am here to say that handicapped or chronically ill people are not neuters or androgynous folks for whom sex and intimacy have no value.  We are not asexual children, for whom sexual activity has no interest as there are no hormones or memories of happier times driving us.

Everything works, even if it’s not in an appealing package or a body able to be supple and lithe and act on its urgings without effort.

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What’s been really strange, though, is learning that my much younger cousin, as she’s entered her 40’s and following the passing of her Mother, is also going through a sexuality evolution very similar to what I experienced.

Even though we have different fathers (the brothers), I am left wondering if there is something damaged in our Paternal line that makes it easy to get between the ears of the women of our family.

Since she was raised Jewish, I know it’s not the Catholic guilt that I always blamed for myself.  But, raised to be “ladies”.  Raised at a time when sexual urges and women’s freedom to act on their own sexual interest was evolving, and also becoming sexually active in a time of fear for not knowing what caused HIV and AIDs, it’s strange to see my 10-15 years younger cousin going through many of the same personal quests that I went through following the death of our Moms.

Maybe we both have the same fear of being exposed and ridiculed for our decisions to be sexually active without the benefit of marriage.  But, whatever it was that got packed in our personal baggage, we’ve both done or are doing our best to root out the existence of fear and derision from the voices in the back of our brains.  That inner voice that never shuts up and always sees us as less than.  Less than desirable.  Less than capable.  Less than intelligent.  Whatever it is, I do find it funny that we two wallflowers ended up being cast as Dr. Ruth personalities in our very different lives.  She’s speaking to the shy women to try and free them of their self-imposed bonds, and I am speaking to the handicapped women.  Amazing what a small world it is.

At any rate, I digress.

I tend to do that when given free rein.

In this case, a few months have passed, and one of the COPDteam members tagged me in a private message to again discuss his concerns.  In this case, Dr. Ruth is turning into a grief counselor and life coach.

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(The picture which started this conversation was probably something like this shared on fb.  I love http://www.VineyardColors.com for helping me address my ever present homesickness with beautiful images):

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So, he reaches out to me (and, remember, I type a lot on the tablet, so please excuse my spelling and missed errors – I think you’ll get the gist of the conversation despite the typos.  I’m still the blue ink typist):

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(For anyone who wants to know what Hypoxia or Pulmonary Edema is, there will be a definition at the end.  Basically, he wanted reassurance that he wouldn’t suffer when his time came).

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Another aside – temperature variations will kill us fastest with COPD, and many folks are too proud to acknowledge that they may not be able to afford to care for themselves as it gets closer to the end.  In my case, having learned from Dale’s situation, I have a temperature gauge in my house to verify what the actual indoor temperature is, and watch it like a hawk to make sure that my thrifty, Scot’s soul isn’t sabotaging my own health over my dislike of stale air plus worries that my money won’t stretch to heat my tin can home.

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I think in some ways it’s a betrayal of the private messenger to repeat this conversation verbatim.  However, since I’m hiding the names of the folks who are still alive and might object to something I’ve published being traced back to the correspondent, I’ve done what I could to recount a real-time concern while also hiding the identity of anyone involved.

Because these topics are so taboo to discuss, I want whoever goes through my blog to have the option to read what was going on in my life and my head, trash it all, or take it and make a book out of it which might help someone else in similar circumstances.

Once we’re no longer here, nothing much matters to the person that has left this earthly plane.  There will be no one left who cares about me to embarrass by anything I’ve said or done or written.

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Almost forgot – here’s what it usually says on the death certificate when one of us passes, and why my teammate was inquiring into the ways that Dale or Mom might have suffered before they passed.

hypoxia definition

hypoxia types

pulmnary edema definition

See?  Even the definitions leave you shaking your head and not wanting to think of the reality behind the process of dying.