How Do You Define Yourself? Part II

Sorry for the long back story dump yesterday, but I wanted to illustrate how clearly defined my identity was (especially to myself) until I was forty-five. That Spring I had my third and fourth cervical spine surgeries. They left me with a severely limited range of motion and constant moderately severe pain – even with muscle relaxers and narcotic pain medications. I couldn’t return to work – any kind of work. If I spent more than thirty minutes sitting, standing, or walking during the course of a day I’d pay for it with horrific pain for the rest of the day, a sleepless night, and at least one full day in bed recovering.

I wasn’t a nurse, a problem-solver, or a breadwinner. I spent every clear-minded moment fighting to get the short-term, then long-term disability benefits I’d paid an insurance company premiums on my entire adult life. One of the many things I learned was that according to federal law no company has to pay anyone longer than two years, so matter how sick they are or how much documented proof of physical disability they have. And it often takes longer than two years to even get a disability hearing, let alone a ruling. We were in such dire financial straits I couldn’t have afforded to put gas in a car to go visit a friend or go to church even if I’d had a car available (which I didn’t). When my application for disability was denied I knew that we’d soon be bankrupt and homeless, and that I’d never be more than a physical and financial burden to my family for the rest of my life. I attempted suicide.

I came out the other side of that deep, dark ocean of depression, but not without so many medical bills that bankruptcy was sooner rather than later. There was already a date set for the auction of our home on the courthouse steps when we finally qualified for a program to help us keep our home. We qualified for food stamps, and I began the long road of applying for disability a second time. I’m still waiting for a hearing date. It could be a year or more away and they are only required to give me 20 days notice. If we move out of the county I’d have to start from scratch.

UGH, another long post. I guess there will be a Part III tomorrow, because I’m still not at the positive stuff. At least I’ve explained things that are part of my life but I will not let define me: pain, isolation, shame, depression, bankruptcy, disability, or homelessness. Positive stuff tomorrow, I swear!

How Do You Define Yourself? Part I

I had a very clear definition of who I was from a very young age.  I was told I was “smart” and “pretty”. I grew up in a rural area, so I could tell people who my parents and grandparents were and they knew all they needed to know about me. But then I needed glasses, and my grandmother insisted my short, baby-fine hair needed a perm. Since I was going through that gangly stage (which lasted way too long in my case) and my parents got divorced before any of my friends’ parents did I just hung onto “smart” for as long as I could, and let all the other insecurities build.

I made some new friends in Junior High, thankfully. I didn’t find out until years later that a “mean girl” in the worst possible sense had put a lot of time and effort into alienating me from my childhood friends. But the friends I made in Junior High hung with me into High School, when I finally got contacts. It certainly didn’t put me back in the “pretty” category, but I could pass for “smart and kinda cute” on a good day. I threw myself into any activity that would look good on a scholarship application and didn’t require any actual skill or coordination, because I knew early on that I had no marketable skills and no money for a college education.

I graduated 6th in a class of 600, and got a four-year full-ride scholarship to the University of Kentucky College of Nursing. There I was neither smart nor pretty, but just a name on the roster. A name that was actually misspelled on my diploma, which I had to pay to get fixed. That had to wait until my third or fourth paycheck as a nurse, which was how I defined myself for a couple of decades.

That and Michael’s wife, Aaron’s mom, then Jack’s mom. Then my youngest has his own bullying experience, after which he changed schools and wanted to be called John, his legal name, which he goes by to this day. Is it wrong that I still want to find the boy who bullied him and made his life miserable (with the full knowledge of the Holy Spirit School teacher, counselor, and principal) for tainting the nickname my son used for almost the first decade of his life? I could slowly cut out his tongue with a smile on my face, but it would be pointless since he’s probably bullied so many other people since then he doesn’t even remember my son. He’ll be arrested one day for raping an unconscious college girl and his parents will pretend to be shocked.

Long post, so wait for Part II tomorrow.

Babies and Books and Boots – Oh My!

7qt_lyceum_v2

— 1 —

library
My name is Angie and I’m a book addict. I once gave up fiction for Lent. It got ugly quickly. Since I haven’t had the money to buy books in a while I don’t actually need a rolling library ladder, but I still want one. There are books in every room of my house except the bathrooms, and I have huge boxes of books that need shelf space. I already gave away the ones I didn’t want to read again. Perhaps instead of crown molding in every room I’ll have a shelf. And a light-weight ladder I can move myself. Along with the bazillion books I have on Kindle that should work out just fine. (Note to self: check Pinterest.)

— 2 —

Speaking of books, I have a lot of shelf space devoted to Stephen King. I don’t read other authors in the horror genre, but his style of writing just entrances me.  Whatever he writes I’ll read. I’ve had to borrow his last several books from the library instead of buying first editions, but I’ve read them all. This Sunday evening, thanks to my fabulous husband, I’ll be in the audience with a friend while he talks. We’ll all get copies of his new book, which he may read from. Since he’s never been to Kentucky before for a signing or a speaking engagement I don’t know what to expect. But it will be over ninety degrees and humid, and he’s getting on in years and is used to the weather in Maine. We’ll be at an outdoor amphitheatre, so I’m just hoping he doesn’t suffer heat stroke.

— 3 —

I also hope I can make it through the event. I have concocted a special ice-pack that lasts  a full eight hours (I promise to post about it later), I made a special trip to Goodwill for all-cotton, loose, breathable clothing. I’m even taking extra meds since my friend Lisa volunteered to drive. I’m taking a hat and a cane and chairs so we can sit or lie down in the line at the Ampitheatre.  The chairs can’t go in, so I’ll just leave them at the door and pray some asshat doesn’t steal them. They were Goodwill purchases as well, but I’m rather fond of them. We’ll get there early, since only half of the seats are covered, but it will be worth it. We’ll take food and drinks for the “in line” portion of the evening, tossing out whatever’s left when we enter. Then after we listen we’ll be called up by section to pick up our books (not sure why they aren’t just doing this at the entrance, but no one asked my opinion).

— 4 —

Sorry I’m a day late, but I tend to do my writing before bed, and if I wait too late (and have already taken my muscle relaxer) even I don’t know what I’m talking about when I read it!

— 5 —

Last night was baby-sitting night, which I look forward to all week. The 18-month-old and 5-month-old boys I co-sit with their GiGi are just the most handsome, brilliant, well-behaved children ever. Yes, I love my own two boys dearly, but Aaron never slept and John was completely fearless, a quality best appreciated much later in life. But the smells, sounds, snuggles – if someone could bottle that and sell it we’d never need anti-depressants. There is something wonderful about young children that I’m quite sure God designed to keep their poor exhausted mothers from just locking them in a closet for an hour so they could take a shower and eat a sandwich.

— 6 —

Of course God has a different plan once children hit seventeen. Then he makes even the most perfect and angelic child “borrow” your wallet and forget to put it back in your purse on a day you are going shopping. Or tell you they will be home at midnight and not be home yet at three (that was last night). My theory is that we, as parents, are supposed to get so annoyed with them that we aren’t quite so upset when they go away to college or move out of the house. Good try, God, but even though the furthest away my baby will go is one hour and forty minutes away (closest one hour) I’m not going to be ready for it. *sigh*

— 7 —

On the up side, I am now the proud owner of these gorgeous boots!boots
which I’ve been stalking at a consignment store for about three months. I thought I could get them for 25% off during their Memorial Day sale, but evidently Yippee Ki Yay is part of the Old Gringo brand, and therefore designer, which they never discount. But this past Thursday they held a three-hour Ladies Night sale with 30% everything in the store – including designer accessories! There were women who’d been there for two hours, clutching the designer bags locked to the endcaps. With the two laundry baskets of too-big clothes I’d taken in over the past several months applied to store credit I nabbed these $300 boots for $10. And when I put them on I feel like Miranda Lambert and Prince combined. Only fabulous things will happen when I wear these boots!

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