It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like F&ck This

Sorry for that whole censorship ‘o’ the title thing, but a lot of times blog posts won’t make it into email boxes if they have swear-y words in the title.

Fortunately that doesn’t apply to the content. So here we go.

It’s beginning to look at a lot like FUCK THIS. That has been going through my head over and over, AND OVER, again for about three or four weeks now.

I don’t know about you guys, but Christmastime is a combination of magical wonder and complete and utter bullshit for me. I have been screwed over, stressed out, raked over the coals, and that was just in the prep leading up to the *big day.*

Some of it didn’t even have to do with the holidays, either.

  1. Thankless Thanksgiving

I wanted to do that thing on Thanksgiving that yuppies do, where they go around the table and everyone says something for which they are appreciative. We don’t pray, and the other adults in our house have a hard time being grateful and complimentary; so I just thought it would be a good time to set a better example for the kids, you know?

I was too buried in mashed potatoes and mixed emotions to even remember to have everyone do it.

The thankful part of Thanksgiving – unfortunately – went largely unrecognized. This isn’t to disregard the sincere and kind comments made by our guests; I’m really just referring to the 25 times I had to ask the people that live here “is it good? Is the turkey moist? Do you guys like the sweet potatoes?” …only to receive grumbled “it’s fine”s, or to notice that many of the dishes I lovingly prepared went largely untouched.

Which was fine. We had enough leftovers for me to spend the day after Thanksgiving turning all of it into freezer meals that fed us for roughly 9 days.

2. Who has time for hurt feelings, though, when medical stress descends upon you?

We’ve had some medical situations that sort of pumped the brakes on the rest of life, anyway.

My oldest daughter – almost 16 years old – had been having weird pain symptoms for some time, and because she’s a woman, naturally, every doctor we had seen prior to the last two months has dismissed her as “just another chick complaining.” She’s had three, main things going on – simultaneously: migraine headaches, severe abdominal pain, frequent and unexplainable “sports injuries” (in bilateral joints). We’ve been blown off by doctor after doctor after doctor. “Just a chick with migraines.” “Oh obviously you are playing too much tennis and not resting enough!” “Cramps are normal.”

One doctor at UCLA Women’s Health – a woman, younger than me no less – had the audacity to look me blank in the face, say “believe it or not, pain is actually common in many women that experience periods.” Then she asked me to leave the room and asked my daughter what kind of birth control she was really there for.

So in the last couple of months, it’s all sort of gotten worse. My daughter has hardly played any tennis or worked out at all, and yet she’ll still feeling pain in her knees or her shoulders as if she’s been training 6 hours a day. Her migraine headaches have gone from once a week or two, to Imitrex every day. And a few weeks ago, she started having the abdominal pain she got intermittently, which she describes as barbed wire being wrapped and pulled around her waste and back (those of you familiar will immediately think endometriosis, I know…); well that’s been happening almost daily now, and so badly we’ve wound up in the urgent care, the emergency room, and a solid two weeks of one doctor’s visit after another.

What has made the situation all the worse is this: everyone is a fucking asshole.

Healthcare in this country is total garbage. And I’m not just talking about the expense of it.

I made an appointment with one specialist over 100 miles from our home. We got halfway there and were going to be a few minutes late for the paperwork check in time (but still on time for the appointment), so I called, only to find out that the person who made the appointment never actually scheduled it. We turned around, defeated.

In a startling turn of events, when it was time to figure out the migraine situation – in late November – I learned that there is exactly one neurologist in the entire county that sees children. And he isn’t taking any new patients right now. One. Apparently kids don’t have neurological problems where we live, this is just too perfect of a place, right?

Luckily I found a phenomenal physician in LA County, we just have to drive 57 miles each way to see. Every four weeks.

(But wait…the migraine maintenance medicine he prescribed makes her so groggy and sleepy she can’t even do her schoolwork.)

What else…

  • A kid in the ER one night threw up on me.
  • Over 6 different people have suggested that birth control will resolve everything (it won’t, in fact birth control makes migraines worse and if she really does have something like endometriosis, birth control or any hormones for that matter are not the answer).
  • We hit our out of pocket maximum, and yet everyone is still collecting the money up front, leading me to be owed over $4,000 now at this point in refunds, reimbursements, and “hey this is YOUR share of the medical expenses.”
  • For pain, someone gave her Naproxen, and even though she has no problem with Ibuprofen, with the Naproxen, she broke out in over 20 canker sores inside her throat and mouth.
  • I asked the nurse practitioner at our primary care physician’s office to send her for abdominal ultrasound, just to be sure…sure, sure, no one thinks her pain is anything legitimate, but can we just check? The ultrasound came back with her left ovary literally swarmed by ovarian cysts. (The nurse called to tell me the news and suggested I put her on birth control, even though one day prior we had discussed just how that was not a solution and would only worsen her migraine headaches.)
  • In response to the news that my teenage daughter, who has been experiencing pain in some way or another for at least six months now, to the point that she is unable to function in her normal life on many days, was going to have to start having tests and seeing specialists to get a handle on what is going on, my husband asked me when the budget would be freeing up for him to get some things preventatively done on his commuter car.

The good news is that we are – hopefully – finally getting to a point that we are going to be taken seriously. Why? Because finally the neurologist suggested I just take her to my OBGYN practice. They are old men and they don’t really deal with menstrual disorders, but they won’t blow her off and they will advocate on her behalf to get good care.

3. It’s beginning to look a lot like fuck this

And then there was Christmas. Because of everything going on, Christmas was a scurry in the last couple weeks to make magic. I think I slept about two hours a night, while the rest of the time baking like crazy, ordering gifts on Amazon, and – finally, in a moment of desperation – paying my 16 year old (who is too nonfunctional to do much else) to wrap the majority of the gifts.

I did manage to take the kids to a light show, like we do every year; although – lesson learned – my dad can’t go in the future because he just rushes everyone through it, complaining about how cold he is and ruining the evening with his griping.

When the real FUCK THIS came up, though, was about a week before Christmas, when I attempted to take my kids to the Polar Express train ride out of Fillmore and Western.

If you are in Southern California, you know that one of the priciest and – supposedly – magical Christmas experiences is actually to take a ride of the Fillmore and Western Polar Express. Everyone shows up in their Christmas pajamas, there’s lights and music and they act out the movie/book in front of you as you take a train ride and sip hot chocolate. Everyone gets a bell; it’s fun.

We had never been, and I decided with everything shitty going on, it would be a fun break one evening for my kids. So we attempted to go, and the bad news is that my 3 year old – who gets startled pretty easily – was getting on the train with me, and a man behind us started yelling to his kids who were ahead of us. It scared my little guy, and he started to cry.

Not like a screaming tantrum crying though. A basic cry. It was honestly so loud in there, my other two kids didn’t even know he was doing it.

Nonetheless, we were sitting in the front of that car, and had barely even sat down; he was still crying and I was starting to calm him down, when the train employee came over me and told me I should take him off the train to calm him down.

I understood, but I also didn’t. Like I know my kid, and I know that I can calm him down before the train leaves. We still had 30 minutes, and literally no one could have noticed what was going on. I also knew that if I did take him off the train, there was no way I would get him back on. When a toddler cries for a calmer situation and immediately gets what he wants, instead of learning to self soothe and adapt… well, come on…

Still, I understood that the lady was just doing her job. Right? And I don’t like the thought of being one of those people that ruins the experience for everyone else with drama; especially at an event for kids. So we got off the train, and I – obviously – couldn’t get my little guy to go back on. The train left, without us.

So I emailed customer service, and this is where it gets really annoying. I told them what happened and just asked if they could maybe send us the bells. At the end of the whole thing Santa gets on the train and gives everyone a bell. My kids just really wanted their fucking bells, and I paid for them, you know?

I got an email back from them not apologetic. Not saying I could have my bells.

I got an email back saying it didn’t happen. That what I said DID. NOT. FUCKING. HAPPEN.

At that point, I just gave up and gave in. Christmas became fuck this. I did the gifts, the day. All of it with as big of a smile as I could manage. I made Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning brunch, and we did all the things and I’m sure that it is a fact that my kids had fun.

But I was also just done.

The terrifying part is that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas is just the start of it for us. Now we have birthday after birthday after birthday, Easter…Moms have it hard you guys. We don’t just do it all, we bear the mental and emotional load of it. We are the figure it out-ers, we don’t just have to take our kids to the stuff, we have to figure out how to make it all work and advocate for them and make sure everything is where it needs to be so that things don’t get worse.

But also, we do it all because we want to. And that is where being a Mom is the weirdest and most emotionally conflicting job of them all.

So if you had happy holidays that resembled the most picture perfect scenario you could ever imagine in a Hallmark movie or quaint Christmas card hanging on someone’s mantle, I am genuinely happy for you. If you’ve had it rough this season, I feel you also. Or, if you are like me, and it’s a mixed bag of negatives and negatives, but also positives and unbelievably happy children – in spite of it all… well, I am right there with you in the trenches, my friend. This is a weird place in life to be. It’s beginning to look a lot like fuck this, but also fucking bring it.

REMINDER: Not Having To Work On Thanksgiving Is A Privilege

Every year, I see all of these posts on Facebook and other social media sites going around about companies choosing to not be open on Thanksgiving, so that employees can be with their families. There’s also the loud, ALL CAPS proclamations that only hideous and awful people would work or shop on the holiday.

I wrote about this several years ago, in fact it was the only time I was Freshly Pressed on WordPress’s coveted homepage. I guess I didn’t get my point across to you guys, though, because still many of you are continuing, I see along your own blogs, Facebooks, and Twitter feeds, to look down upon people that work on holidays, and shame those that shop on Thanksgiving.

To be clear: if you don’t want to shop on Thanksgiving, I don’t care. And if you are fortunate enough to not have to work on Thanksgiving…well cheers! Good for you!

But this is one of those times that the famous quote comes into play: privilege is thinking something is not a problem, because it does not affect you personally.

So let’s try this one again.

Not having to work on Thanksgiving is a privilege. I’m sure if your house catches on fire because you don’t know how the fuck to use your oven properly, you’ll appreciate the fire fighters and ambulance workers that – wait for it – work on Thanksgiving, instead of spend time with their families.

Let’s say you suffer some burns and have to go to the hospital. Certainly the employees there are terrible people for choosing to work on the holiday, instead of being with family as well.

There are a host of professions in which holidays are like any other day: non-negotiable. And before you all get back on your high horse and start in about how retail employees, specifically, should receive the day off to spend that time with their families, consider a few things:

  1. Many retail employees don’t make shit for pay any other day of the year, so need the overtime pay. When I was in college, paying my way through, I volunteered to work every holiday so that I could have some extra cash for books. I still got off in time for my family to plan their dinner around my schedule. It can be done.
  2. Many retail employees work in jobs where they don’t make shit for pay AND they don’t get holiday pay or PTO for that day off. That one day to “spend with their families” is literally the difference between making the rent, and being evicted.
  3. Many people have other family members who work in the positions I mentioned or are in the military, or have recently had a falling out with family or recently had a tragic death …there are a ton of reasons why someone would choose to go work to take their mind off an otherwise depressing situation. It’s the holiday season, and that isn’t always a positive thing for people (check post-holiday suicide rates if you don’t believe me). We should all be comfortable doing what we have to do to get through it.

And for the people that shop on Thanksgiving…that go out and wait for the deals. Sure, some of them are just materialistic pieces of trash who want cheap, new TVs.

But there are some in there, too, that have to get those deals, or Christmas for their kids doesn’t happen. Like at all.

Not having to working or shop on Thanksgiving is a privilege. Those of you in either, or both, of those positions should be grateful (hey…you could post about it on your Facebook grateful status).

REMINDER: You Do Not Have To Post On Facebook To Be Grateful

Shocking, I know.

You are capable of being something – anything – without posting it on the Internet.

A lot of people are doing that whole month long grateful post thing. You know, the thing where every day, for the entire month of November, you post a pithy status update on your social media app of choice professing loudly and clearly for all to hear that – YES, YOU ARE GRATEFUL.

If this is your thing, cool. Let me say that again for the people in the back: IF THIS IS YOUR THING, COOL.

I am not saying you shouldn’t do it.

But don’t be coming at me with bullshit like the claim that I am not grateful because I choose to not post a daily gratitude affirmation for the entire world to read.

Honestly, people.

Here’s the thing about Facebook. It’s a place where people can, much like in Las Vegas, be just about anything they want to be. Grateful is one of them. It’s all about the impression that you give people with your Facebook impressions, and all that jazz.

There are going to occasionally be people posting about gratitude that actually are the most terrible, selfish and ungrateful people on the planet. And there are similarly going to be people that don’t post the whole gratitude thing, and appreciate things more than you could ever imagine. This is the result of the Internet’s ability to let people unabashadly craft their own persona, based on reality or not.

So this can serve as a little reminder for those of you that are in the back, and haven’t gotten the memo just yet: you do not have to post on Facebook – or anywhere else – about being thankful to actually be grateful for what you have.

Please Stop Telling Me I Should Do Things For A Living

The title, alone, sounds ridiculous. Please stop telling me I should do things for a living? What do I expect – to sit around and do nothing as a grown ass adult?

No. That’s not what I mean at all.

A couple weeks ago, we had a little family and friend get together for my toddler’s second birthday. It wasn’t too extravagant. About 20 people came by. We had burgers and broccoli cheese soup, a cake, and a donut display. Truth be told, he slept for 75% of it, having started his nap that day a little late.

As I always do: I made the party set up a little on the extra side. The table of desserts and foods looked Pinterest-perfect, which truth be told I always do. Not because I feel that I have to, but simply because I want to. It’s what I do to feel alive.

Yes. I want to have personalized water bottles and theme-specific drink glasses. Yes, DIY tables cape projects actually make me feel like I’m living my best life. This is just something that’s important to me as a parent, to give my kids some of these fun picturesque memories that I didn’t have as a child.

Sue me.

Just as with all parties I throw, meals I cook, or hostess gifts I bring, the comments almost immediately rolled in:

 Oh Heather, you should do this for a living! Seriously you should get into event planning, think of how much money you could make if you did this for a real job!

You are doing too much for someone that doesn’t get paid!

Imagine how nice this party would be if you were getting a paycheck to throw it!

[Insert drawn out eye roll]

I completely get that this is meant to be a compliment, and isn’t it just so late-stage millennial of me to be offended by something someone said that was meant to be nice?

But honestly: is there ever going to come a point when a woman can be a mom and have that be enough?

As in this is just what mom does – she throws parties, and those parties are extra.

Or when a woman, who is a mom, does something nice and it’s just a part of what she does as a mom – not something she should do in another sphere for a financial payoff; will that ever just be enough? That Mom did something really nice for us?

And really, when did we fall into this black hole of equating the things people do solely by how much money they bring in?

When people tell me that I should event plan or personalize shop or bake for a living, they are telling me that what I am actually doing for a living – raising and educating three human beings while running a household so my husband can pursue his dream job – is of little or no value to them. Like it’s temporary, or just something I do for fun while figuring out what I’ll do when I become a real adult.

Every time I am told that I should do something else for a living than what I am actually doing, a little piece inside of me breaks in half and turns on itself. What if what I do has no value?

Moreover: what if my children heard someone say that to me (which they have)? Will they begin to find no value in anything I do? If they want to do what I do when they grow up, will they feel as worthless as this makes me feel?

And the big one: what in the hell am I doing spending all this time with people who share values I don’t espouse, or want to raise my kids to learn?

There’s a folly to it all because it is meant to be a compliment: that I do something so well I could make money by doing it professionally. But does it really teach our children the value we want to teach them – that something is only really valuable if it brings home a paycheck? And, taking it a step further, that if someone does something for free they are either wasting their time and energy, or not contributing to some grander vision?

I’ve asked so many questions, to which I have one answer: a mother’s contribution is not defined by how much money she does or does not contribute to the household budget.

As I said, I do these parties, the Sunday dinners, the homemade gifts because I want to. The things I do that I do not get paid for as a stay at home mom go well beyond that, too. It’s the homeschooling, the Mom Therapist Mode. The extra curricular activity taxi cab driver. The scheduler-medication administrator-personal chef- laundry woman-housekeeper. It’s all of it.

Becoming a stay at home mom was the most valuable decision I ever made, and one even my husband continues to believe is not what I really want. Women have come so far, how could I ever want to define my life as just a mom? You could do so much more if you did something for a living.

Please stop telling me to do things for a living. As I see it, I am. I’m doing a lot of things for a living – not for a paycheck or a promotion. But to live.

Groupon Is Basically A Scam Now, and I’m The Last To Know (Also Men Wear Rompers Now, So Basically Screw It All, I Give Up)

So I bought a Groupon last week for a local photographer.

Let me start by saying that finding a photographer worth the money around here is tough. The good ones are all working in Los Angeles, taking headshots of Justin Bieber. Out here in the ‘burbs, we have a conglomerate of people either licensed and way overpriced, licensed and trying to break into the Justin Bieber headshot business, or not licensed but owning a nice camera and doing this for fun but making themselves look like a legitimate photography business.

Nevertheless, I bought the Groupon. The reviews of the guy were great – five stars, in fact. I needed someone to take photos of the kids before they get any bigger. A deal seemed the right way to go.

So I bought the Groupon, opened the voucher, and contacted the guy by email, which was the only way the voucher offered.

The email kicked back as not being a valid email address.

I tried again.

Kicked back.

I emailed Groupon and asked what they’d recommend I do, stating clearly that getting ahold of the guy or getting a refund to my account would both be acceptable. I just wanted to get my photos taken I’d paid for.

They asked me to give them a day to investigate…

…let me pause here and say that several years ago we had a problem with a Groupon, and immediately they issued me a refund in funds to my account that would be good for a year. So them saying they wanted to investigate gave me pause.

Still, I responded: sure, keep me posted.

They then responded and offered me Groupon Trade In Bucks. The bucks would be applied to my account, and after I receive the email that the money was applied I would have 24 hours to use it.

This was – in a word – bullshit. I paid good, hard earned money for something they could not guarantee or deliver. Why, then, am I being forced to buy something else I may not be interested in within 24 hours to get my money back?! I had no problem with store credit with Groupon…but 24 hours to use it?!

Sounds like a scam.

It seems as though businesses are more and more getting away with this kind of crap – putting their hands in your pocket and showing no remorse when they screw you over. You go to the nail salon, they act like they are doing you a favor to give you ingrown toenails. You buy fruit at a farm stand, they hide moldy fruit under the good fruit in hopes you won’t check. This newest event with Groupon is no surprise, but being unsurprised does not make it right. In fact it’s as if people are so numbed by this kind of crap happening – money being thrown at services that are never properly rendered – that we’ve been numbed into complacency.

We just expect to be screwed over.

Several months ago, my husband and I ordered a baby changing table online at Babies R Us. It came broken, so we returned it to the local store as the instructions said to do. They ordered us a new one, and low and behold: that one came broken as well. This time when we followed the instructions, though, I said – enough! We’d been waiting for over a month for the table, and we just wanted our money back.

They refused to give us our money back, instead issuing store credit for the clearance price the table was currently marked at. When I questioned that, because I clearly had the receipt, they said it was their discretion. That was it! No more explanation, just their discretion.

I took the store credit and called their 1-800 number, and they gave me the same line but said they’d refund me to my card the difference and the cost of shipping we had wasted.

We never received anything.

Back to Groupon. Still, seeing no other options, I replied and said that I would take the Trade In Bucks. I know you will all be unsurprised to hear: I never got the Trade In Bucks.

Not only that, I emailed them today and they did not respond.

I went to live chat with their customer support, as the site said that was the recommended mode of contact…when I put in the description of what was going on and clicked to chat I got the response: “Sorry none of our agents are available to chat at this time.”

I clicked to receive a phone call, my phone rang once and they hung up (I only knew it was Groupon because I Googled the number).

They then emailed me this:

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Calling me and hanging up after the first ring, then emailing me to let me know you called IS NOT A RESOLUTION TO THE ISSUE.

I emailed again. No response.

So I finally took to Google and found tons of people with the same experience. Groupon is now nothing more than a money grabbing scam site. Millions of people in the last few months, alone, have reported them to the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs.

Then again, I feel like I have only myself to blame – I should have just clicked on the photographer’s website and seen how much this one wreaked of illegitimacy.

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Lesson learned.

This seems to be a greater issue, though. Not only that people just basically expect to be screwed over for things they pay for now, and companies (*cough cough* airlines *cough cough*) thinking they have a right to deny you the things you pay for, while still keeping your money…but there is another question about the legitimacy and transparency when it comes to online funding and selling sites, like Groupon.

Or GoFundMe, which is meant for charities or crowdfunding of a local cause or people in need; and yet people constantly head to it for things like vacations they can’t afford.

Or what about Kickstarter? A site that is marketed as being for innovative companies, and yet is often used for the antitheses of innovation – which people buy into, like the kid that launched a Kickstarter for potato salad. The kid did it as a joke and something like quadrupled his fundraising goal.

There. Is. Nothing. Innovative. About. Potato Salad.

Or the newest Kickstarter-abomination: RompHims. Rompers. For. Men. RompHims not only met, but largely surpassed their fundraising goal, and – like many Kickstarters – wasn’t to start a business, but to simply sell their product.

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Like the people that go on Shark Tank just to get on TV.

I don’t know what’s worse: the absurdity of what legitimately good ideas like crowdfunding and charity sites have fallen to, the scam that deal sites like Groupon have turned into, or the people that handily give over their money to all of it, no questions asked.

Probably the people, but I don’t know. I just want my Groupon refunded. And my family photos done.

3rkbux

I Lost 31 Facebook Friends Today Because I Posted About My Anxiety Disorder

By “lost” I mean that I gave them the boot. They were all family. My husband’s family, to be specific.

I have an anxiety disorder. It’s mostly hormonal at this point, but the more I deal with it the more I realize it’s also situational. Situational in the sense that I feel a huge conflict between who I am and what I feel I’m allowed to be.

What I feel my husband’s family allows me to be.

To the point, though: right now, I’m in a bad place anxiety-wise. Depression too. It’s OK for me to say that. It’s OK for me to talk about it. And it’s OK for me to set limits and boundaries with all of that in light.

That I feel I have to say any of that is absurd.

So we have been thinking about moving out of our neighborhood basically since we moved in about two years ago. There’s a lot of crime in the community, which is crazy because it’s a beautiful neighborhood with a lot of wonderful people. But moreover, the situation with living in a family-owned home was stressful. And…it just wasn’t enough room for our family.

Finally, several weeks back we found a couple rentals within our price range. Rentals that were bigger. Rentals that didn’t make us feel we were responsible for maintenance because of the family nature of it. Rentals that were a real step up for our family. We started looking at them, applying for them…and within a day or two of even looking, we got the best of all of them.

So we’re moving out of the family-owned townhouse in the crime-ridden community with AMAZING neighbors (that part is in no way sarcastic…except for the ones from that whole pee gate episode a while back, I have never met nicer people)…and the family owned townhouse is up for rent.

Today, my father in law just showed up at the townhouse, though, insisting he be allowed to come in and inspect the place to see what kind of work he would need to do.

To start, we have put so much work into the place simply because my husband and I felt it was our responsibility. Nay, it was said it was always his and his brother’s responsibility. So to be so freaked out and worked up about how much work it may or may not need before it goes up for rent again was a little…suspicious… Moreover, we paid through the 31st. If we need until then to move out, we sure as hell can. And if you really have to get all freaked out and come over – is it so hard to make a phone call and ask when a good time would be? REALLY?

Apparently.

In any event, my husband walked outside and asked politely that he come another time. Today was not a good time. My anxiety level was already through the roof. I have spent every day since Saturday (today is Wednesday) crying, most of the time for reasons I’m not sure. I’ve used more Xanax this week than in the last several weeks. In short: I’m a mess.

The move, however, has been going PERFECTLY. We have just a couple more days in the townhouse and the new place is basically all set up already. And my husband knew that I needed to know that THAT aspect was under control, since everything else seems to be falling apart. Not to have the added pressure of any complaints about the townhouse on my shoulders.

Also, my home is – right now – my only safe place.

His dad pushed his way past him, and barged into the house.

Terrified of my personal space being violated like that, I went up to our bedroom and shut the door. I stayed in there trying to stay calm until he left. It isn’t that I can’t be around other people, it’s just that my home is my only safe space and I need to feel that way. And who knows, anyway? I could have been in the shower. The kids could have been running around in underpants… Who thinks they can just show up and barge into another person’s house like that? ESPECIALLY someone you know has an anxiety disorder?

Once he left, I felt completely panicked and violated. My safe zone was taken control of. I’ve been working so hard to have safe zones – things that help me stay calm, help me keep my anxiety under control… now I have lost that one. Sure, we are moving out in just a couple more days…but a couple days with a panic disorder is an eternity.

So, naturally, I took to social media to vent my frustrations. I did it as vaguely and anonymously as I could. There was NO WAY anyone would know who or what I was talking about. NONE!

I had no intention of even going into specifics as to what happened. I wasn’t planning on blogging about it, like I just did. I. Planned. Nothing. But. To. Post. A. Vague. Vent. And. Reminder. (And note: my husband’s dad is not on Facebook, so would never even see this.)

Here was the pertinent part (the rest was me talking about how much I truly hope to keep the friendships I have with my former community)…

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Within minutes, though, the family brigade came out in full force. First, my husband’s mother, who is never online and was at work at the time, suddenly became active enough on Facebook to see my post and decided to reveal in the comments who the offender was. Suddenly aunts were telling me I am ungrateful and should delete my post. That I should be thankful for everything they’ve done for me (to be clear: the only person that has done anything for us has been MY dad, and my husband will be the first to admit that). Shame on me for being such a terrible person!

Shame. On. Me. For. Having. An. Anxiety. Disorder. That. Necessitates. I. Need. A. Safe. Space. That. Being. My. Home.

I tried not to respond to their shit, but finally I did and just defended myself. Which I know I shouldn’t do. I’ve been going to therapy for this anxiety, and the therapist even tells me if I don’t stop defending myself to these people nothing will ever change.

But it just kept going. Suddenly uncles were revealing gossip that had clearly been spreading through the family about us moving out (the idea that we gave no notice that we were moving out). MY near and dear and long time friends were coming to my aid, and family were telling – Internet screaming – at them to butt the fuck out of family affairs. Family members were making public calls for other family to join in and back them up about not tolerating MY TOTALLY AND UTTERLY EGREGIOUS BEHAVIOR ANY FURTHER (it sounded a little drunk-Facebooking at that point). My husband, at work, started getting phone calls from people not even affiliated with me online to get me under control.

Like really?

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To all of this bullshit, I have a few things to say:

  1. It is not OK to just show up at someone’s house, under any circumstance, for any reason whatsoever, and just barge in. You may be stupid. You may have no manners. You may be a blood relative. Doesn’t matter – it is never OK.
  2. It is not OK to shame someone for having an anxiety disorder that requires a little extra consideration about the rude and ignorant shit you do and say.
  3. People are allowed to have feelings and express them.
  4. If you are so stupid so as to respond to someone’s vague post about something with all the specifics, YOU ARE TO BLAME when that escalates out of control.
  5. Facebook friends should be people I would actually be friends with in real life. I would never be friends with people that shame someone for having an anxiety disorder and asking that their personal space at home be respected because of it.
  6. My husband’s family never responds to all the positive and bad ass things I post online about our lives. Adorable pictures of the kids. Silence. Husband got a promotion. Nothing. Heather has an anxiety disorder. FUCK YOU HEATHER YOU DUMB CUNT HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT THIS FAMILY LIKE THAT.

Here’s the thing about it all that I have come to realize and think about over the last several months – not just today. Our kids are witnessing all of this. They hear about it or see it or feel the effects of it at a family party. Is this really the lesson I want to teach my kids? That people can bully and shame others for sharing about their mental health? My oldest daughter has generalized anxiety disorder – should I teach her that she should hide it and not set boundaries with others to keep that under control?

At this point, this isn’t even about me anymore. It’s about my kids. They deserve extended family that is accepting and loving and compassionate and doesn’t act like a bunch of psychotic drunks calling publicly for a revolt against someone that says something they don’t like. If someone doesn’t gel with those values I want to raise my kids with, they’ll be deleted and blocked from online and real life. Tonight, it happened to be 31 of them.

 

 

Toxic People That Are Family Are Still Toxic

There. Someone had to say it.

I’ve written about family issues – generally speaking – on this blog before, and I am sure I’ll write about them again. But when I go through the history of my posts on this issue (the family issue), I can see a change in me as I’ve aged. As I have grown, I have come to realize something very important. Almost profound, at least as far as life and family and every day dealings go for me:

Toxic people that are family are still toxic. And there is nothing that requires you to allow toxicity in your life.

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If You Aren’t Someone’s Cup O’ Tea, Oh the Fuck Well

We have a lot of family issues, probably in part to the fact that we live close by to a lot of family (both on my husband’s as well as my side).

The other part I think is that I’m not many people’s cup o’ tea.

I am honest, and I speak out about injustice. I can be a little loud. I don’t say things like “someone has to say it,” or “I’m just telling it like it is” as an excuse to be a bitch, but at the same time I do speak up and out when I see something that I think is wrong.

And in two families full of work-a-day workers, who wear their busy schedules and hard work days like a fucking medal of honor, my lifestyle of writing into the wee hours, sleeping past 10, painting in my pajamas, reading for at least 3/4 of the day, and subscribing to more shows on Netflix and the DVR than any sane person could find the time to watch, has created – shall we say – a bit of tension.

It isn’t only all of that, though; my husband and I just have much different values than a lot of our family members. We believe in holistic care, my husband’s hair is shoulder length and he has a hippy beard, we homeschool the kids, and I can’t remember the last time I wore a bra. To top it all off: we eat gluten free.

I can’t tell you the last time we attended a family event where people weren’t harping on us about our lifestyle choices. Particularly my husband’s facial hair (I mean really, people, it’s just hair…); and then there’s that whole annual intervention where every single person we know within a 50 mile radius makes it their life’s mission to get us to stop homeschooling the kids (this is usually around the end of summer when the new school year is about to begin).

Of course there will always be the grandmother in the family that harps on the way people dress, or the aunt or uncle who have an opinion on everything. But then there is an innocuous old lady set in her ways, and people who legitimately believe that they have a right to tell you how to live your life. In the latter, the only thing to describe them as is: toxic.

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It’s only recently that I’ve realized, though, that you can’t be everyone’s cup o’ tea. And, that I’d rather be true to myself than someone else just to make people happy.

The Worst Comes Out Of People When You Start Saying “No.”

Especially when it’s hell no, but we don’t say it that way very often.

My husband and I only have ourselves to blame on this one: we used to say “yes” to everything. Ev.er.y.thing. Everything. Even when we lived 50 or so miles away from our respective families, we still would say “yes” to every fucking thing that asked us to do. And our health and relationship paid for it.

Finally, our kids started growing older and getting into more sports, which meant our time was limited. And then my husband started working the night shift at his job, making the “no”s a necessity. We didn’t have the luxury of being able to passively do what everyone else always wanted us to do anymore. Finally we had the reasons we had been looking for all those years to have balance in our lives, the balance we had been craving for so long.

We were going to have to say “no” to some things. A fair amount of things.

It is then when the worst comes out of people. After years of pushing us around and getting us to everything our families wanted us to be at, they have gone down kicking and screaming – in their own ways – since the first time we had to say “no” to something. So much so that now even when we say “yes,” what we say it to is never enough.

Go to a party for a few hours, “but why didn’t you stay longer?”

Have other plans the one day a week we have as a family with no sports and no work for my husband, “you should have cleared your plans with us first.”

This is why setting boundaries with people that have never had any boundaries set on them before is so difficult: they don’t like it, and become completely unreasonable and irrational. Because really, what kind of a person sits by the clock keeping time as to how long you stay at a party, or actually has the gaul to suggest people check with their social schedules before making their own plans? For their own lives.

I’ll tell you what kind: a toxic person.

Toxic People That Are Family Are Still Toxic, and Being Family Does Not Mean You Owe Them Anything

A meme went around the Internet the other day, something to that effect. You do not owe anyone anything, especially toxic people and in particular family that is toxic. Blood relation does not mean that a person has an uninhibited license to treat you like shit. Being someone’s cousin’s cousin or sister-in-law’s mother or even a closer relative, like a brother or a mother – be it by blood, marriage, or another association that makes these people call themselves family – does not predicate any obligation what.so.ever.

Let me be clear: the minute you identify a person as toxic to you, any obligations or shit you owe them (for example: owing someone for giving you life, as I often hear my father say) go out the window. Out the window. Out the fucking window. Out the fucking window and miles away.

You paid your debts to them tenfold just dealing with their toxicity for however long you dealt with it. Even if it was only once and for just a day.

And so for this reason, my husband and I have taken a pledge to our selves and to our kids to cut out all the toxic shit we have dealt with for so long. People want to say nasty things, be nasty people, and act in nasty ways? Well they will be flushed out with all the other nasty toxic shit that gets flushed out of our lives on a daily basis. We don’t owe anyone anything, especially our happiness and senses of self worth. And our kids deserve to be surrounded by good people, or else that cycle of being surrounded by bad ones will just continue.

I’m not saying that everyone in my or my husband’s families are toxic; and honestly this post isn’t about us or them or a particular incident. I’ve only been thinking about this lately because I’m just so tired of being mad at myself for letting people treat us, and me, in ways that I would never treat someone else. And I’m even more tired of seeing and hearing people overlook bad behavior for the sake of the family. What about the sake of the self? Does that not matter anymore?

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