August 2021

Let’s see what happened this month.

NANCI GRIFFITH DIED. I can’t believe it. I am grieving.

I have been crying some and it feels good.

My whole life has changed in the past month. Maybe our lives change every month. I was taking too many mega long naps- as I have mentioned with shame before. I am not napping anymore. I did not know I would be able to last a day without utter fatigue. I blamed parenting stress, side effects of my anti-depressant and uncontrolled depression.

Mim’s behavior required that my naps halt. She knocked on a neighbor’s door expecting to see a middle schooler. Instead his dad answered and she asked this middle aged man, “Do you think I’m sexy?” I stopped napping.

She wasn’t abducted. I hadn’t exactly abandoned her. During my naps, she usually eats snacks in my bed and uses my phone and runs outside for 10 minutes and plays with her friend McKenzie- then she runs back inside to ask me where the mentos are or where her fudgesicles have gone- things like that. I mumble answers and she flits and rushes to the next thing.

I gave her a little book with Truth or Dare questions. It was my version of age appropriate summer reading for my resistant reader. She loved it. She carried it everywhere. Asking everyone truth or dare and then scolding them for choosing truth. She ripped out the quarter size pages and ate the paper when she got bored with that particular dare.

McKenzie and Mim dared each other to knock on neighbor boys’ doors and flirt. Instead one of the boy’s dad answered.

I don’t want to remind myself and you of the statistics of girls with disabilities being sexually abused. The numbers are too dire. Mim living her life without being abused is almost impossible. My raising Mim to avoid abusers is impossible. It won’t be my fault if it happens. It won’t be Mim’s fault if it happens. And yet, I would do anything to avoid this particular tragedy for her.

When I went to talk to the neighbors and explain- I don’t know what exactly- Mim came with me. She interrupted my apologies and my nods while the parents explained to me how dangerous it is for Mim to speak to men like this. They brought up the girl who was kidnapped on the first day of school. She was walking home from her high school and she disappeared. Mim started crying and begging me to go look for this missing girl with her. I soothed Mim and asked her to wait while I finished the conversation. Mim interrupted again and asked “Well, Does Issac have a girlfriend.” I was crying and laughing and red in the face.

Mim was sitting outside by the basketball court with McKenzie and her sister and the sister’s friends who are high schoolers. I walked the dogs a couple of times so that I could leisurely stroll by. I got a feeling. When Mim ran inside to smuggle out her candy jar and an unwanted case of Diet Dr Pepper for her new friends, I stopped her and asked our the big girls smoking. Mim answered No with her solid tell. She hides her lips and closes her mouth tight so as not to let the truth leak out. She ran back to them with all her goodies. She ate chicken nuggets with them while they waited for two of the girls hair dye to set.

Our condo and theirs shares a wall so she isn’t far away when she visits. I was hanging out on the back patio to keep an eye on her new activities. Later that night, about 8:30 Mim and I were following our usual bedtime routine and she said I hope Mike (the dad of the sisters next door) can keep a secret. And I said what is the secret and she decided to tell me. “I whispered to Mike that the girls were smoking but I told Mike if he tells them I told then, I will never give him any of my Skittles again.”

I had one session of EMDR and it has been life changing. Miraculous. I don’t feel like I am carrying a heavy load—-dragging a sack of heartache, anger and fury.

I’ll describe my session so you can picture an actual EMDR session. I started with the title of my trauma “Betrayal” and I put a picture in my mind that has bothered me Walt’s bare feet tangled up with a woman’s bare feet with a background of cheap carpet of a hotel. The therapist led the title selection and a vision that encapsulated the grand event. The therapist has a script. The. bare feet —That is how I picture this particular trauma. I chose a phrase that described how my trauma made me feel. Summed up by the word worthless. I am not enough. I followed the direction of the therapist and followed a dot on my laptop screen with my eyes. The she would stop and ask what do you see now in your mind’s eye. I saw a school bus. I saw my kids and I shopping in a grocery store. I saw younger versions of my children. Tucky with wispy curls and a far away look in his eyes. BeBe with a contagious smile. After repeating the process for about an hour, the therapist asked me to picture the original image of the bare feet in a hotel. What emotion or thoughts are you having now regarding the betrayal. “He is ridiculous.”

It sounds unbelievable. The true use of the word incredible. I thought it would only last a few days. I thought there would be some trick. A few weeks in and I am decidedly less traumatized. I can’t explain it.

(This post The Sock will give you an understanding of why I chose bare feet as my visual.)

I have cried about Nanci Griffith and it has been a delicious crying- all about me and my feelings. Not veering back to the same point over and over- Walt cheating and lying and me being a fool. It was my good old crying of tears hot and steady and a release coming. Arriving at a destination of grief and love and bitter sweetness for all her music has meant to me. It isn’t a sinking into a deeper and deeper hole to nowhere and ending up in the same place I have been for years. It was a path to somewhere. I cried and the tears flowed and I moved through the emotions of sadness and then I felt the lifting of the pain.

I feel more myself. Sensitive and weepy when I need to be and relaxed when I watch tv and happy when I read a story to a class of children. Moody and sweet and lumpy and free. I have felt true instead of stuck.

A new classic for my library reading. Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. A metaphor for how the trauma gummed up every issue I had.

I have experienced life as myself not as a frozen version of myself. Ridiculously stuck.

I have been working on a mantra- money flows to me. I say maybe 10 times a week when I remember. I think it is actually working. I was skimming over a few thousand emails and I saw that I signed up for Better Help 4 months ago. I was going to have an online therapist. Well, I signed up and made one appointment and the therapist started sending. me this aggressive homework I needed to do before the session. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I wanted to talk over my problems and that this was a long term problem that would be best waded into. Not jumping into the deep water. I imagined finding 45 minutes in my week to go on the Zoomies with her but no time for homework. So I avoided her emails. I did not reschedule. Four months go by and I realize I am paying 320$ a month to avoid this eager counselor. So I repeated my mantra and emailed the company Better Help and after 24 hours these fine people refunded me all of my money. 4 x 320- whatever that is. A lot of money. See money flows to me. My kids think my mantra is superficial but I explain that I am convincing myself not to hide from finances. Not to bury the emails. And it worked. Money flows to me.

To replace the napping, I started watching more tv. As a child I was quite a television junkie and I don’t think it harmed me. I can be more productive now that I am napping less- so tv seemed like a good place to start. I’m working on the Mentalist. It is a tough one. Lots of seasons and lots of episodes per season. Oh, Patrick Jane how you make me grin. And Teresa is so jaunty and Irish with her freckles. I was so happy when Grace Van Pelt and Rigsby got married. I am finally to the season where Teresa and Jane admit they love each other. I love these people. They have gotten in my head, like company visiting for a good while and a grand time.

The Mentalist. So good for killing time but maybe too many seasons.

And let us all contemplate rom-communism. If you don’t know what I am talking about. Lord help us all. Mercy. Honey, you are farther behind than me on Ted Lasso episodes.

This passage was taken from A Rom-Communist Manifesto by Rebecca Howard on Publicradiotulsa

August brought home BeBe and George. Thank God.

BeBe had her glorious New York summer.

George and LIzzy went and farmed in Pennsylvania for a month.

The century old barn in the Allegheny Mountains.

I got these slides out to Mim’s teachers so they can know who Mim is to her family. It can take months to get to know every child in your class and in middle school there are so many classes and teachers and kids. The slides introduce Mim head on. I wish i could give a presentation to all of the kids in her classes- so they too could know the why and how of who she is. Instead of wondering about her or avoiding her- if they got to know her… what if.

Dolly started her senior year in full force. She works at an animal shelter, interns with sports medicine at her school, and applied to Smith early admission. There was a mishap with her IB final project which is called by an acronym which I do not remember because IB is overly confusing. Dolly wrote a paper on how horses effect people. Apparently this paper which was to focus on psychology should have been only on people. No horses. Dolly was furious. Her IB coordinator who is wound tighter than a drum phoned me and she wanted me to be on the same page as her. Her page said that Dolly should redo the paper about a different subject only involving people. I do not know if she has ever met Dolly- Obviously she has to have. Dolly’s mind cannot be changed. Dolly can not be convinced. The IB paper will not be rewritten.

I got myself in a predicament. Somehow I agreed that Dolly could get a rescue dog. I can’t explain when or how this happened. Last Sunday, Doll and I stood in a line without shade for the free weekend at the Humane Shelter. Scooter was waiting for Dolly. She checks the adoptable dogs page nightly. I believe her search parameters are most needy, hard to train, and fat head Pitt. Scooter needed us. Scooter was online described as a German Shepherd mix with three legs. Which Dolly knew would be an easy sell to me. While sweating profusely, I accepted my fate of 900 square feet condo with four children and now four dogs. I can’t call BeBe and George children exactly because they are 19 and 21. And one of the dogs is officially BeBe’s. We finally got to Scooter after two volunteers mentioned that they preferred not to get Scooter out of his kennel. We went to an outdoor pen and Scooter immediately started attempting to escape. He wanted to jump over a cinder block wall or squeeze through the metal gate. He was bone thin and his think hair was spotty (the kind of fur that sheds all year long and loves couches and black leggings. Of course, Dolly won him over with treats she carried in her hip pack with the Dunder Mifflin patch. Scooter was leaning against her whole body and sitting to get a treat. And then he would race back to pace and leap for an escape. His laminated info sheet mentioned a bite history. I asked the volunteers if a dog had bitten Scooter. They stifled chuckles and said I should ask at the info/ adoption desk.

The adoption specialist checked Scooter’s computerized file. She informed us that Scooter should not be adopted by anyone who has a dog. Or by any people. We walked out. Dolly was downtrodden. So disappointed.

I looked at Dolly’s time commitments and I wondered how she pictured raising a dog. She doesn’t get home until after dinner 5 nights of five. I knew better than to ask such a dumb question. Dolly did confide that she was going to take her dog to college. I wondered if Smith accepted dogs in dorms. Dolly planned to train Scooter or another rescue to calm her anxiety and that way she could use Scooter as an emotional support animal and have him certified. Then Scooter could go to college.

Sometimes, Dolly is just like me. I would babysit when I was in high school and college and I would take the kids to events at school so that I could be busy and yet there. I could avoid my social anxiety or nerves about seeing a crush by taking care of kids while I watched a soccer game. Dolly can avoid lots of college born anxiety by adopting a dog. She could worry about training the dog instead of getting in. She could avoid worry about being lonely at college because she would have Scooter. Scooter was the answer to many problems.

Dolly knew she was as busy as a hornet. She knew Scooter was a nightmare. And that almost any rescue in our condo would cause huge turmoil. Mimmy finds it very difficult to adapt to new dogs and increased barks and increased rough housing. One of Mim’s ways of expressing her overwhelm with the dogs is to walk out our front door, slam the door and ring the doorbell repeatedly while the dogs go utter bananas. This communication rouses all the people inside to silence the dogs.

Next month is Addy’s wedding. (And yes, I am going to the wedding. See this post, I’ll Just have to go to her Wedding, to understand my hesitation.) The usual stresses are popping up. Addy and Ficken evacuated Louisiana for Hurricane Ida. Ficken was in town for two days and he changed the oil on my dumb brown Ford. (See this post to learn how I ended up with a brown Ford.)

Is August over?!

Mim tried out for cross country. She wanted to be on the team but she is completely uninterested in running. The try out was to run a timed mile. She came in last but she was unaware of it because she ran with some high schoolers. When I got to the warm ups, Mim was starting to panic. Do you know how ridiculous it is to expect kids to run while raising their knees up high and clapping under their knees? That really freaked Mimmy out and made her feel like the whole try out was impossible. I saw a couple of high schoolers that I know from Doll’s grade. I grabbed Poppy and paired her up with Mim. Some other seniors ran with them and encouraged Mim. Relief. She came in to the finish and leaped over some small bushes. She didn’t know that she wasn’t tired out. The coaches offered her the manager position. She loves being a boss. She is very intense about the snacks she will offer. George who was on the team for years, suggested oranges and granola bars. Mim though that was ridiculous. She insists on candy and chips.

I got to do some photography sessions this month… the words are hard to find but the images will convey some of my thoughts. The power of a mother…

And I said Fare the well true love of mine

And I said fare the well sweet lips of wine

And you said Fare the well my Texas Rose

and then you blew a kiss of innocence as the trains began to roll

so long ago

Nanci Griffith

I love you.

By the way, Mim still calls, her before bed treats “bed night snack”. You’re welcome.

p.s. I forgot to mention COVID. it is still happening and wreaking havoc on all of our wellbeing, jobs, families, health and sanity.

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