Category Archives: exhausted

Brotherly love.

My brother and I were never particularly close. 

Close in age, certainly.  We are less than three years apart.  In the photo above, that is me on the left.  My brother is the chubby baby in the Giants onesie on the right.  We are two years and nine months apart, yet you can never imagine two people so different.

My brother and I were brought up in a very abusive household.  Our parents, well-meaning as they might have been, were a non stop source of stress and strife in our little lives.  They fought constantly, every single waking moment of the day and night.  She was a shrew, my mother.  Nagged to the point where you could no longer stand the sound of her voice.  (It still makes me cower a bit when she raises her voice.)  My father, the man I have come to call “the sperm donor”, was a self-absorbed, egotistical hippie type who never quite grew up enough to understand that you no longer get to be a “free spirit” once you make the commitment to having a wife and children.  Sure, you can be an individual, but you do not get to live your life as one.  There are three other people in the picture.  Three other people who matter, who count on you and who you need to give thought to before doing the selfish things that stop you from being a part of that family unit.

My father, in something so cliche it embarrasses me to mention, left my mother for his secretary (cringe) back in 1973 when I was merely 7 years old.  Not that this was his first affair, mind you. This was merely the one that “stuck” and the one that finally took this man out of his home and into hers.  There was a part of me that was so grateful when he left.  For years, I had endured listening to their fights that would end up with punches thrown, furniture being flipped over, disgusting and vulgar things said right over my head and the endless tears that my mother would cry each and every time he walked out that door and away from “this bullshit”.  I came to feel that I was a part of the “bullshit” he needed to walk away from and, as every child does, began to blame myself for my father leaving.  This was further confirmed when my mother, in moments of distress and uncertainty of her future would say thing like, “he never wanted any kids to begin with.”

Great.  Like I ASKED to be born into this?

For years, I resented my father.  Years. Hated him with a fervor and a passion that no little girl should ever have to know.  When I got stuck having to go to his house on the weekends, I was moody, irritable, out of sorts, angry.  I felt deep venom for my mother for leaving me with this man who obviously did not want my brother and I there and truly made us, or at least me, feel like we were cramping his bachelor lifestyle.  He had a girlfriend (the secretary) named Yvonne.  She was a red head. Tall. Thin. Gorgeous.  And their lifestyle consisted of walking around nude all the time.  It’s just what they did.  And while that’s fine monday through friday, it is probably something that should have been curtailed when your 9 year old daughter and your 6 year old son would come to visit.  They smoked weed.  A LOT of weed.  We were never really “watched” or cared for.  It would make me feel so uncomfortable being in that environment.  I don’t think it effected my brother the same way it did me.  He sort of found it all funny…that he got to see “boobies” at Dad’s house.  But for me, a young girl on the precipice of my pre-teen years, it made me feel out of sorts.  I used to sit in the loft of his apartment and just get lost in books.  Reading for hours on end til my mother and whatever random flavor of the week she was dating at that time would come and pick us up from his place on the west side of Manhattan. 

As I got older, savvier, I learned how to take the train back from Riverside Drive in Manhattan up to Queens Boulevard in Queens.  I would run away from his apartment, letting myself into my mothers apartment with my key.  (Those of you who were “latchkey” kids would understand why a 10 year old would have her own key to the apartment.)  Most of the time, my mother would not be there.  She’d be out, somewhere, with whomever she was dating.  Sometimes, she would be there with her boyfriend and I would get stuck back on a train, heading back towards Manhattan after listening to my mother screech at my father at the top of her lungs about how the HELL he could not even notice his daughter had disappeared. 

Simple.  He was too stoned most of the time to even notice whether I was alive or not. 

“I thought she was upstairs, reading,” he would stammer, trying to stifle his laughter. 

“You’re an asshole, piece of shit,” she would continue.  Blah blah blah.

This was my world.  The world of the broken home. The world of having two sets parents who were so self-absorbed and involved in their own worlds that they never really saw the magnitude of what they were doing to their children. 

Truth be told, I think the divorce took a much deeper toll on me than it did on my brother.  My brother stayed in touch with “bio dad” long after I made the decision at 11 years old to never see him again.  I hated him, all he stood for and his selfish ways.  The last time I saw my father as a child, it was at my 11th grade graduation.  He showed up, after the ceremony of course, with some flowers.  I took a single photo with him and that is the only memory that I have of him that stands out in my head.  I saw him again, when I turned 19, in a chance meeting at a Florida mall while I was on Spring Break with some girlfriends.  We talked.  Ironed out a few things.  Said some things that needed to be said, but by this time, he was older…the age I am now, actually, and it seemed like life had beaten him up so badly, I couldn’t muster up all the venom and rage that 9 year old me wanted to throw upon him.

A mere 6 months after that chance meeting, my father was dead.  Killed by a heart attack caused by cocaine usage.  He was driving on the I-4 interstate when the heart attack occurred. He jumped the median and slammed into a Pepsi tractor trailer going in the opposite direction. 

In my utter distress, in my lack of being able to wrap my head around this…I made a joke out of it.  A morbid joke.  Something to the extent of “this time, Pepsi actually beat out Coke.”  No one appreciated the joke.  I was called “insensitive”, but I had experienced such a disconnect between me and this man that all I could rely upon was a macabre sense of humor to get me through.

Fast forward to now.  Right now.

My brother is having an affair.  He told me about it.  He didn’t need to.  I knew it was going on.  I could tell.  All the tell tale signs were there.  “My wife doesn’t understand me,” he would say.  He sought my advice and was appalled when I told him to go the hell home and work things out with your wife.  He thought I would have taken his side, told him to go…be happy!  Do your thing!  Live your life!  But as I looked at him, all I could see was my father.  He looks so much like him.  He sounds so much like him.  And in that, he represented everything I ever hated about my own selfish father. 

Recently, his wife found out about his affair.  She called me, crying, asking if he could come down here to stay with me for a few days.  He wanted to “clear his head” before making a decision about whether he would be staying with her or leaving her and her three beautiful children for this girl who “understands him”.  Of course, I told her.  Let him come down here.  Let him be with me and my family.  Let him see what a loving family unit is supposed to look like.  Let me talk sense into him.

He came…and it was the worst three days of my life in a very long time.

I have never seen such selfish, self absorbed behavior since my fathers existence on this planet.  He spent the entire weekend texting this girlfriend of his.  He ignored me when I tried to talk to him.  He ignored my kids, my grandkids who he has scarcely seen since they have been born.  All he wanted to do was go out and party.  “What is there to do in this town,” he carried on.  “What’s good?  Where are the clubs at?  Who’s coming out partying with me tonight?” 

And all I saw was my father…and the rage slowly boiled in my blood.

“I thought we were going to have some family time,” I said.

“Yeah.  Yeah, of course.  We’ll have family time.  But it’s the weekend.  So, let’s get this party going!  Where’s the Hard Rock?  Let’s go gambling!  I got a grand burning a hole in my pocket.  Let’s do this.”

Not the faintest hint of moral dilemma in his eyes.  No thought to his grieving wife back at home.  No thought to his three children, ages 9 through 13, who are suffering right now, listening to mommy cry at night as they go to bed.  The three of them acutely aware of what their father did…but having to suffer the consequence of his insanely selfish actions.  There was a lot of arguing between my brother and I. I would try to talk to him, try to get his face out of his phone and off the texting that was going on between him and this random girl (who, incidentally, DOES know my sister in law and apparently, does not care about sleeping with her husband).  I tried to keep my brother focused. 

“Go to the mall with your nephew,” I told him.  “He’s missed you.  Go spend time with him.”

My son reported back to me that Uncle spent his entire time at the mall walking alongside him with his face buried in the phone.  We went out for dinner.  Same thing.  Out for breakfast with family. Same thing.  Went to go visit my husbands family.  Same thing.  Face buried in that phone…no consideration to any one else.

And I finally exploded.

My brother declared he had to “get the fuck outta here”.  Apparently, the whore that he had taken up with was giving him ultimatums about coming home.  He was pacing the floors, gotta go gotta go gotta go gotta go.  Change my ticket change my ticket change my ticket now now now now now now.  It was around then that I released the wrath of 9 year old me all over him.  Everything that 9 year old me ever wanted to say to that stupid, selfish, piece of shit father of mine came flying out of my mouth.  Only now, it was 45 year old me, screaming it at my baby brother…who looks like the man, acts like the man.  We fought ferociously to the point where he was punching the dashboard of my car, jumping out of it in the middle of the highway and me, considering throwing my truck in reverse to run him over and leave him to join the same fate as his father…dying under the wheels of a truck.  All of a sudden, that wild rush came through me…and the fury was too huge to fight.  I couldn’t contain it any longer and in that instant, I wanted him to die…and I wanted ME to the be the one who put him in that box.  I wanted him to suffer for the things he did to me, but it wasn’t him. It was my father. I wanted him to suffer for the things I knew he was about to put my beautiful niece through.  She is now the same 9 year old little desperate girl that I was at the time, and I knew what lay before her.  I walked this road before…and I felt so justified in just removing my brother from this world to spare her all the pain.  Let her father die while she still loves him and still wants him in her life.  Let him just die that way…before she grows up hating him, blaming him for every failed relationship in her life.  Never trusting men ever again because she couldn’t trust the one who gave her life.  I just wanted to hear his body under the tires of my truck as I rolled over him again and again and again.

Fast forward once more.

I am at home.  He is gone, back on an airplane New York bound, on the way to ruin the innocent lives of my precious niece and my two nephews.  On the way home to destroy whatever little is left of my sister in laws self esteem.  He is going home to break everyone’s hearts.  My parents.  Her parents.  All the children involved.  And the last thing he said to me…”This isn’t about YOU, this is about ME!  It’s always been about ME!”

Yes.  Yes, “Dad”.  It was always about you.  And because it was always about you…hearts died in the process.

I turned on the song “Helpless” by Neil Young.  It is off the album “Everyone Knows This is Nowhere” and was one of my fathers favorite songs.  I put my head down and I cried.  I cried long and hard from a place so deep within me that I knew I was no longer an adult woman, but that little girl whose father destroyed her self esteem, her sense of security, her trust and faith and most of all, destroyed her life.  I wept so hard for this broken doll inside of me.  The pain was palpable.  I could feel her within me, so angry for never getting a chance to tell the real man who ruined my life what I really thought of him.  Angry, that now my relationship with my brother, my one link to that time in my life is now irretrievably broken. I cried for loss.  I cried from abandonment.  I cried for the realization that I was left to my own devices by my daddy when I was only 9 years old, the same age my niece is right now.  And wept harder still…because I know now, as a 45 year old woman, that I can never, ever get those moments back, nor can I save my niece from becoming a 45 year old woman who is going to inevitably look back with the same pain, grief and anger.

It’s been two days since my brother left town.

He sent me a text message.  “Left my sneakers there.  Can you ship them to me?”

No apology.  No “I’m sorry” for hurting you.  No sense of responsibility for the devastation he left in his wake.  No regret.  Just concern for his sneakers.

He is, after all, his father’s son.

And I sit here, my heart still torn wide open, trying to wrestle with the fact that I have all these open wounds that I thought were long gone, but realize now they were just scabbed up, waiting to be torn wide open to bleed, to fester, to become infected.  It is a painful realization to find out that what you thought you were so far past in your life, you never really resolved after all.  You just buried it deep down, burned it in a box and scattered the ashes somewhere.

Eventually, the winds of time blow them back at you.  You suffocate in their thickness as they choke you and blind you. You shake your head to clear your thoughts, to gain some sense of vision and clarity.  Then suddenly, you realize.   The game remains the same…only the players have changed. 

And like a lost little child on a subway heading to Queens at 2am…you brave it alone.

Home is only a few more stops away. 

Focus 52: "Glass"

This photograph was taken, a complete fluke considering I did not realize what the prompt was for this week, at the Salvador Dali Museum this past week.  This is the spiral staircase that takes you between the three floors of the museum.  It gradually narrows, slowly winding to an end, just under the glass dome.  It made me think “Stairway to Heaven”.  It made me think about the way things have been going in my life lately.  Things have been looking up and then, leading nowhere real fast.  It’s been a very confusing time in my life.  I have been in and out of the hospital three times in the past three weeks.  Little pieces of me being removed each time.  Doctors saying one thing, doing another, forcing me to lose control over the one thing that we should all take for granted: the ability to have control of our own bodies.  I feel like I am on an upward climb…but repeatedly hitting this glass ceiling that allows me to LOOK towards the future, but not allowing me to get there.  It’s frustrating, to say the least.  I want to be somewhere that I can’t get to.  I am trying to remember that there are people out there that have it a lot worse than I do.  A LOT worse.  I don’t have a fatal disease…something which was a possibility several weeks ago.  What I do have is a disease that is slowly overtaking my reproductive organs, literally encompassing them into this big, woven web of scar tissue, forming a barrier around what does need to be removed.  It is like having to drill through 20 feet worth of solid rock to get a poisonous snake out of your garden.  It should not take so much work to rid yourself of evil, the evil here being one of my ovaries that encompassed in a man-eating tumor.  This cystic tumor is three times the size of my poor, overworked ovary, causing me incredible pain.  Yet, the pain that I have to endure in order to remove, well, the pain…it’s almost ironic. 

To get rid of pain, you must endure worse pain?  Somehow, it just seems medieval. 

This past Thursday, I had a laparoscopic surgery to drain and/or cut the cyst off my ovary.  Upon entry, the doctor discovers that I have webbing, scar tissue, called “endometriosis” covering my entire abdominal cavity.  It is everywhere.  It is “stage 4″, which is apparently the worst you can have.  One of the last things I remember the doctor saying to me before the surgery is…”You know, you should have told us you were having pain before the FIRST surgery.  We could have taken care of it then.”

I had no words.  None.

This is the equivalent of an “I told you so” from a doctor.  And I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. 

I had told him, for weeks, about the pain I had been enduring.  My husband and I had just called the doctor two days earlier to tell him that I was in the emergency room with excruciating pain just the day before.  He cut away a portion of my uterus, a bunch of fibroids and polyps.  He did a D & C to check for cancer (none) and then, abladed my uterus so that I could no longer bleed to death nearly every month.  With every passing period, my red blood cell level kept decreasing.  I am severely anemic.  However, the pain.  The pain from that ovary that they never removed remained and I felt this was all for naught.  That caused an extreme amount of mental duress for me.  This past week, I came back into the doctors office again, the pain absolutely maddening and the depression, deepening. 

Doctor makes that remark from earlier and then, gives me 3 hours to let me know that A) your ovary has just blown up, B) you’re going under the knife again for emergency surgery and C) this time…This Glorious, Wonderful Time…we will be removing that ovary. The bane of my existence.  And life shall be good again.

Of course, this is when I find out about my endometriosis.  The moat of impossibility that is encompassing the remainder of my battered uterus, one innocent ovary who is likely wondering “what the hell did ‘I’ do to deserve this?”, and of course, the culprit, the right ovary who…had she not spoken up in the form of extreme pain, would have never alerted me to the presence of the EndoMonster, eating my insides. 

So into surgery I go, tube into the belly.  Soreness extraordinaire when I arise the next day.  Complications.  Stress with my already stressed out husband and an argument that never should have taken place due to a misunderstanding.  But it’s okay.  Because now, I have been made to understand that despite the doctor’s best Black and Decker power tools, the wall of the EndoMonster could not be penetrated and the force within, the control center of pain, that God forsake ovary…still remains.  He could not get through the enormous amount of scar tissue surrounding it. 

Square one. 

There are questions that need to be answers, research that needs to be done, phone calls to be made.  But, in the midst of all this, there was a birthday to celebrate.  Two days after that emergency surgery, I had pre-planned an amazing weekend with my husband to celebrate his 37th year on this planet, 12 of those in my life.  Thusly, we went to the Dali Museum where, to bring this full circle, I took the picture that captured what I am feeling.  The feeling of moving up and yet, going nowhere.  We took a helicopter ride over the beaches in Clearwater.  It was scary, exhilarating and amazing. We did a lot of laughing, a welcome distraction from all the tears as of late.  Then, we went to an out of the way Indian restaurant to burn our mouths on the finest curry based delicacies they had to offer.  We stayed i a hotel, also a welcome reprieve from all the time we have been spending at home, only to wake up to a brand new horror the next day.

My belly, never flat…but never sticking out further than my size F breasts, was completely engorged, swollen and bloated.  It was painful.  Extremely painful.  Tender and hot to the touch.  By later that morning, I could no longer fit into my pants.  It was then I found out that during the laparoscopic surgery, a woman is pumped full of carbon dioxide to both shrink and dry out the organs in the abdominal cavity and to expand the area in which the doctor has to work.  It is quite common, apparently, for the sudden expansion to occur a few days after surgery as my husband and I read horror story after horror story from dozens of beleaguered women who have gone through this process.  It is also, from what I understood (and concur with) extremely painful.  By late Sunday night, my belly was swollen to the point of looking equally as pregnant as my sister in law who is presently 9 months pregnant with twins.  I was scarcely able to breathe as I was babysitting my grandchildren for the night.  I could not lift them and eventually, I could not lift myself without assistance. 

We called the doctor this morning who wanted to see me “right away” as “that kind of pain and swelling is not normal”.  Not normal?  We read literally hundreds of stories that said quite the opposite.  This pain and swelling IS rather normal for this surgery and for some women, the swelling and pain can take weeks to go away.  Once again, I am questioning my doctor…and questioning myself.  I am normally a fabulous advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves in times of health crisis.  Yet, I had scarcely enough time to be able to read and understand what is happening to me.  My husband, God bless him, is doing what he can to give himself an education on the topic…baptism by fire, if you will, but he can only do so much. 

I see my doctor again tomorrow morning and I think, at this visit, I will be releasing him as my gynecologist in lieu of someone who cares enough to be able to give me rational explanations for what is going on with me.  I want to know why this disease was not discovered years early by the barrage of tests I have taken for other gynecological ailments I have suffered through, such as interstitial cystitis and cervical cancer.  I want to know why three gynecologists, two urologists and one family doctor never thought to look for something as common as endometriosis knowing my history of painful periods accompanied by excessive bleeding.

I want answers.  I deserve answers…but my surgeries are coming faster than the questions are forming in my head.

So, when I looked at the spiral staircase, leading upward toward the glass ceiling, allowing in the sunshine and the promise of something brighter, but never quite allowing you to touch it, I thought…there it is.  My life, in a photo.  This is where I am right now.  Looking skyward, with no discernible means of getting there…

just a long climb spiraling rapidly to no where at all.

Focus 52: "Mornings"

I hate mornings.

I detest mornings.  I am an insomniac, so I am all too familiar with the concept of being up at a sunrise.  Every morning, the sun rises, reminding me that for yet another night…I have not slept.  It is torture to me.  I am not the type of person who welcomes the sun with a cup of coffee and a positive attitude.  The sunrise says to me, “you are already several hours behind the pack, girlfriend.”  It says to me that it is now time for me to go to sleep, finally, and waste a good portion of the day.  By the time I wake up again, it will be about 3pm.  Too late to do any thing productive.  Generally, I fall asleep around noon, wake up late afternoon and by then, life has pretty much passed me by.  I resent the morning a great deal.  It bothers me.  And, no sooner did I see the sunrise, then I am waking up with a sunset looming only a mere three hours away. 

I loathe mornings. 

However, the only time I make peace with the morning light is when I am at the beach.  When I am on the beach, I don’t feel so much animosity towards the sunrise.  I appreciate it then…because the water is glimmering.  There are people on the shore, starting their day and admiring the sunshine.  Generally, these people have had a good nights sleep and are happy to see the sunshine…and I look at their faces with great appreciation for what they are feeling.  I know at that point…I can lay a blanket out on the sand, fall asleep under the sun, wake up in the late afternoon as I usually do and feel like I spent the day at the beach doing what everyone else is doing.  Lazing about just soaking in the sun.  It’s okay then, to greet the morning.  It doesn’t mock me so much when I am on the beach.  I don’t feel bad about having an insane sleep schedule.  I don’t hate the fact that I woke up so late in the day, because when you are on the beach…sleeping until the late afternoon is not only acceptable, it’s welcomed.

But, in my daily world…I hate mornings.  They remind me of just how much of my life I am wasting fighting with my body’s internal clock.  And it’s a waste of time.  A complete and utter waste of time.  It makes me feel bad about myself.  I hate feeling that way.  My sleep pattern has been erratic since I am a little girl.  Sometimes, I don’t sleep for two or three days and when I finally do, it is because the sun has risen and said to me…don’t you think it’s time to go to bed? 

And I always agree…and go to bed. 

I feel comfortable at night.  There is something about being awake all night long when most of the world is asleep that brings me comfort.  I can be alone in the silence and it is alright. I don’t have to talk to any one. I don’t have to answer to any one.  I don’t have to get dressed.  I don’t have to wash my face, brush my teeth and go out and run pretend errands that do not exist.  I can just sit quietly in the soft glow of my computer and do my thing.  Read.  Study.  Write letters.  Watch mindless television programs.  My DVR is filled with television programs that air during the daylight hours that I can watch at night.  Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I don’t.  But at night, everything is my prerogative. 

Besides, everyone knows calories consumed after sunset don’t stay on the body.

I hate mornings.  I hate everything about them. 

And just when I decide to break up with them for good, my husband takes me to the beach and reminds me why it is okay to fall in love all over again.

It’s okay to cheat on a sunset, now and then.

Focus 52: "The View From Here"

This is the view from here.

In my mirror.  I’m looking a little run down.  Tired, but happy.  Frankly, I have nothing spectacular to offer up this week because my heart is just not in it right now.  I’m just so tired.  I’ve been taking midterms, studying, writing term papers, finishing up homework.  Exhausted is not nearly an understatement.

But, I found time to offer up a weak, half assed smile to you guys, because you have been such a strong means of support for me.  I appreciate that.  I need the words every so often.

I also think I have realized that gray is SO not my color.  Washes me out, don’t you think?

Next week’s prompt is “Silly”.  I will be going away for the weekend with a girlfriend of mine that I haven’t seen in 13 years.  I imagine “silly” is going to take place quite often.  Incidentally, I will be in Washington, DC…so if you hear of any disturbances at the White House, look around for your favorite Jewish Princess.

I won’t be the one wearing gray.