Trying to process it all…and failing

My brother, Leo, sent me a photo of my mom sleeping. It looked like a 19th century death photo—not kidding. I’m still trying to process it. She isn’t coherent and isn’t able to communicate with me over the phone. She is having massive panic attacks and is combative with staff. She no longer recognizes my brother and I doubt she knows who I am anymore.

I’m sorry to be a downer, but I can’t not mention all this, because it’s what’s happening now and it’s my mother. I cannot not discuss how devastating this is and how it’s affecting my every waking moment. How I know I need to be at peace with letting her go because she needs to transition peacefully, but how I’m not ready to lose my mother.

She adopted me, raised me, made me who I am in so many ways. But in the end, to love her is to want final peace for her. When she is gone, a big part of me will go with her.

I want to thank my loving, sensitive husband for being with me at this time and helping me through this. He is an angel incarnate. Such a gentle, understanding soul. I love you, Paul.

Bev’s vlog for 1.21.2014: Serve your own plate

On the heels of my husby’s, here’s my latest vlog. He does it better, but he’s a natural at it. I’m a writer, after all. He’s a video guy. *sigh* Probably should’ve done this second vlog back on the 16th, but hey, I didn’t. Pfft! I’ll be posting them every week to two weeks throughout the year. And hey, just like on FB, you just never know what tripe will come outta my mouth. But that’s part of the fun, right? RIGHT?!

Dreams that terrify, haunt, and warn

Quite often, my dreams scare me. They’re always intense, always intricate, always complex. Unfortunately, I don’t always dream of good things. I dream of horrific things. On occasion, I dream of things that happen in real life. I also dream about things that could happen in real life, but haven’t. Still, the thought that they could completely horrifies and haunts me.

An example would be the dream I had last night. In the dream, my husband and I were at a mall. Now, in real life, I avoid malls like the plague. I don’t care for crowds, I hate shopping (didn’t get that female gene, apparently). If I could order everything online, I would. I’m an introvert, so going to the mall isn’t my thing. Too many people, too much noise, too much sensory irritation.

But I digress…

In the dream, we noticed a small, remote-controlled Army-green truck buzzing along through the mall. I looked around, but didn’t see who was operating it. I shrugged it off because there were toy stores in the mall, as there always are. Probably someone trying out the truck for their kid or something, I figured.

Suddenly, the small truck exploded, but it was such a massive explosion that it blew up a huge part of the mall. People were running and we were trying to get out of there to save our lives. Apparently, a person had fitted the small truck with some sort of explosive that was powerful enough to detonate and cause bodily injury and massive property damage. In hindsight, after we escaped, we realized it had been a terrorist attack! Needless to say, I was shaken up after the dream. It was too real, and the fear I felt was palpable.

I recounted the dream to my husband upon awakening, telling him that the scariest part about the dream was that it seemed like something that could happen in real life, if some diabolical, heartless SOB decided to do such a thing. This is why I say my dreams are often so terrifying and realistic that I wake up traumatized.

Who wants to dream about such things—and then worry about them happening in real life? I know there’s a slim chance that anything like that would happen, but with the constant influx of bad news in the world and not knowing what terrible people are out there and what is brewing in their twisted minds, I DO worry about such things. After all, I live in Colorado Springs, which isn’t that far from the Aurora theater where James Holmes decided to maim and kill people who’d innocently gone to see a Batman movie in July of 2012.

I also tend to have night terrors, and my poor husband has been on the receiving end of those terrors one too many times. Instead of running from my terrors, I tend to charge at whatever it is (or what I think I’m seeing) and I try to fight it. As you can imagine, this isn’t a safe response for anybody in the same bed or in the same room.

I suffer from PTSD (diagnosed in mid-2006), so night terrors have been a part of my life for a while. They’re not fun, and there’s certainly nothing funny about them. If you’ve never felt genuine terror take hold of your body and shake you from the inside out, I can tell you it’s not pleasant. It is NOT true that only combat veterans, police officers, or firefighters have PTSD. Civilians and everyday people have it as well.

Having an overactive imagination is a blessing and a curse. When I was a small girl, the pediatrician told my mother I shouldn’t watch any shows with frightening or supernatural images. According to her, he said my imagination was such that even watching something as seemingly harmless as Casper the Ghost could frighten me and cause me to have issues. Quite frankly, I didn’t care about Casper as much as I did Dark Shadows. Mom would send me for a nap when Dark Shadows was on, but I remember trying to peek around the corner so I could watch it.

Thankfully, I grew up and was finally able to see classic episodes of the campy soap opera that featured vampires, werewolves, witches, and the like. I also grew up loving dark fiction, cutting my teeth on Stephen King’s books as a young girl. My husband and I have a huge collection of horror movies, both classic and modern. You can try to take the girl out of the horror, but in the end you can’t take the horror out of the girl.

There’s a good chance I’ll keep dreaming horrifying dreams. I’ll wake up terrified—and sometimes crying—but I doubt my mind will ever stop conjuring up intense stories, characters, or plots. I try to remember some of them and jot them down, especially if I think those stories might lead to a viable short story or a novel. Other dream tales I don’t care to remember because they’re too traumatic or distasteful. Most of all, I can only hope that the other dreams I have—of tragedies about to happen or those that could happen in real life—don’t occur at all.

Yes, I know it’s not healthy to live in fear, but I think it’s wise to be aware of our surroundings, to take note of anything that seems out of place, and to report it to authorities if you have any suspicions. We are all busy, we all have lives to lead, we all have errands to run. But in this day and age, vigilance is imperative; we must look out for one another. We all exist in our own microcosm to some degree, but we should make an effort to remember that we are also connected to others and to the larger world in general. We are all responsible, to some degree, for what happens in this world while we’re in it.

With that said, I hope my dream never comes true. Maybe by writing this blog post, the potential for this dream-horror will be snuffed out, never to manifest into reality. I pray it never does.

In my oddly optimistic way, I wish more people would evolve, stop engaging senseless violence, realize we are all connected, and begin to act in a more self-actualized way. I want my children to grow up in a world that’s kinder and more thoughtful. Unfortunately, that’s one pleasant waking dream I’ll probably never see realized. But one can hope, right?

Inspire kids — it can shape the rest of their lives!

You know what’s awesome? Receiving a message from your high school journalism teacher — the woman who played a big role in me becoming a professional freelance writer, editor, and published author. Her name is Lana Smith, and she is one of a few mentors in my life who absolutely shaped the person I’d become and what I’d do for a career.

I began in journalism class at Widefield High School (in Colorado Springs) when I was a wee sophomore, went on to become the advertising manager and, eventually, the editor-in-chief for the WHS Gladitorial.

My first paid article appeared in the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper when I was 17 years old. I started writing in elementary school and have never stopped. I was blessed to have teachers and parents who encouraged me every step of the way.

Always support your kids in their passions/interests. It’s *incredibly* important to do so. Hearing from Lana today really made my weekend — and my week!

Books are books—READ and LEARN!

Books are books, regardless of how they’re shared with the world—via print, electronic means, or audio. Personal preferences aside, all are legitimate means of delivering written material for your personal and/or professional edification. You may prefer a print book, but its eBook counterpart is no less viable since both contain the same creative vision, author’s spirit, and communication therein. They are merely presented in a different way.

We are not going back in history, folks. We are moving forward, like it or not. Do not worry, though, because I predict that print books will never fully go away. There doesn’t have to be an either/or choice when it comes to books. There’s room for all means of distribution.

The key is for people to READ, regardless of how it happens. READING is what’s of primary importance. Not enough people read. If you want to put your energy behind something important, put it behind getting the word out about improving literacy and encouraging people of all ages — especially kids! — to read.

You’ve heard, “Reading is fundamental”? It damn sure is. The survival and evolution of humankind depends on it. As a communication major at the University of Colorado, I learned that you cannot NOT communicate. That is the first axiom of communication, as set forth by Paul Watzlawick’s book, Pragmatics of Human Communication: A Study of Interactional Patterns, Pathologies and Paradoxes.

Regardless of what you do — even if you’re not talking or writing — you are communicating, even if it’s nonverbally. It’s impossible to NOT communicate in some way. And since you must communicate in some form, it’s essential to educate yourself as best you can so you can communicate more effectively. Nobody communicates perfectly all the time. It’s an ongoing process.

Reading helps us think AND communicate better. If you cannot afford to attend a university, you can take FREE online college-level courses through MIT, Harvard, and 62 other educational institutions through Coursera.org. You can TEACH yourself to read better, comprehend what you’ve read, and analyze written content. Read, learn, improve. You owe it to yourself AND to the world!

Hooray for awesome family visits!

Cannot express what a wonderful time we had with Jon and his girlfriend Cait. I didn’t check email once (sorry if you emailed me) and I felt like I finally got some time to just be me and hang with my kids.

Britt was amazing and helped me do so many things, like cooking, straightening up the house, and making a special treat for Jon’s 24th bday.

Overall, the only bad spot was that Paul had to work till 11:30 p.m. every night, but we did stay up and hang out several hours after he got off work.

All the way around, I’d say the visit was a success. These past several days gave me perspective on why I get so stressed out and have such a hard time. I’m really not as kind or forgiving of myself as I should be. I’m critical of myself in major ways and I’m rarely happy with anything I do (contrary to what some people may think).

Also, there is not enough balance in my life between work and play. I’m probably 90 percent work and 10 percent play right now. Moving that to 70/30 would be better. I love my career because I enjoy what I do. So I don’t see it as *work* like most people think of their jobs as work.

Anyway, gained some perspective and that’s always a good thing. Beautiful time with the family and so grateful for my adoring husband, two fantastic kids, and Jon’s magnificent girlfriend. As far as I’m concerned, Cait is family now.

Ever see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? Cait reminds me of Ramona SO much! Seriously. She IS Ramona! I adore her in every way possible.

Sitting with (another) suicide

Found out some terrible news about an online friend. In fact, this person was on my LiveJournal friends’ list. I This person committed suicide, and that’s the second person I’ve known who has committed suicide in the past year. Still trying to digest this news. The weird part is that his brother is on my FB friends’ list and is also a former h.s. classmate of my husband’s. I knew about the suicide when it happened, and I was sad for his brother’s loss. It tugged at my heart and made a lump form in my throat. I couldn’t imagine losing one’s brother that way.

What I didn’t know — until yesterday — was that the person involved was also an LJ friend. You see, I knew his first name, but didn’t know his last name (or had forgotten it). I didn’t realize it was THAT person. We hadn’t exchanged any comments for some months on LJ because, well, I am not on here as often as I used to be. So the news hit me again as I realized this was a person I knew and had communicated with as well. This person was brilliant, funny, educated, and talented. The world has truly lost another amazing person. Once again, I wish I could rewind time, change history, stop what eventually happened (the suicide).

Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of my old friend Harold’s suicide. That one I’m still coping with…and will be for a while. Our parents knew each other and hung out together in the 80s. Harold and I flirted with each other and even made out a bit in 9th grade. I think we crushed on each other quite a bit, but were too shy to become full-blown boyfriend/girlfriend. We reconnected again and dated briefly before Paul and I got together in 2005.

I don’t know what else to say, which is odd for me. Just a lot in my head about all of this. It’s one of those things that I need to sit with, silently, and ponder.

[Musings] Watching my mother slip away…one memory at a time

I am fortunate to have two mothers — my birth mother, Fay, and my adopted mom, Shirley (or my MOM mom, as I call her, since she raised me). They are both the same age, but one has Alzheimer’s. It’s been difficult and heartbreaking to deal with my mom Shirley’s dementia. Even more heartbreaking since I’m far away and cannot visit her in person, mainly due to finances.

Talking over the phone is challenging because I never know what she will say, what she will remember, what she won’t remember, or anything else. She still remembers who I am, thank goodness. But someday, she may not. I’ve cried countless tears after phone conversations with my mom. I want to put things back the way they used to be, when she remembered.

She doesn’t remember my first husband’s death and keeps asking where he is and why we aren’t married anymore; I simply told her it didn’t work out. I’m not going to tell her he died (and from what I’ve read, you’re advised not to do so). She doesn’t remember meeting Paul and wonders when she’ll get to meet him. The other day she thought Britt was still a little girl. She never remembers what I do for a living, or that I’ve been working from home for over 16 years. Conversations are hard and tug at the heartstrings.

I love my mom, but watching her go through this is agonizing. She just turned 79 years old a couple days ago. I never know when it will be the last time I get to speak to her…so I cherish every conversation we have, regardless of how trying and sad it may be. 😦

If you don’t “get” me, this is a post for you

To those of you who don’t “get me” or are frustrated at trying to connect with me. Please read and, perhaps, you’ll understand. Or not. At any rate, this is how things are with me, and you can accept them or not. You cannot change the person I am or erase the issues I’ve had all my life. I’m pasting a conversation I had with sister Aspergirl friend, Thorne. In hindsight, I think it was meant for a blog post.

First and foremost, I am an Aspie female. I did not have a clue until last year. **And this is where I pick up from Thorne’s conversation**: “After going through life and wondering what was wrong with me, and learning how to ‘act’ in order to get along with others (the best I can) and cope with my surroundings, it was a relief to find out there was an explanation for it. Now I just wish that some people I know would take the time to understand why I am the way that I am and not ask me to change for them.

My biggest pet peeve is when someone who is not me and who has NOT lived my life tries to tell me I’m THIS but NOT that — and they try to act like they know who I am inside. I think I know myself better than anyone else, quite frankly, and I am most assuredly a female Aspie. I’m also very smart and I have learned to shift my behavior and I’ve had to learn to cope by mimicking others or learning how to respond (there are still situations where I mess it up) throughout my life. I know (Thorne) you’ve had the SAME problems with such things. It’s very annoying! Pretty arrogant for someone else to act like THEY know you better than yourself, isn’t it? Grrrr! I think I’ve lived in this body and with this mind for 48 1/2 years and have had a lot of experiences that they don’t know about, so they can either accept that this IS me or they can pound sand. They don’t get to tell ME who I am, know what I mean? I’m just thinking of the stuff you and I have discussed privately. People can be soo annoying over stuff like this. I’m glad Nan posted it and shared with me!

Like you said, this will definitely come in handy; it would be even handier if you could have a sheet that you carried around and handed out to people when they “just don’t get you.” You could say, “Here, read this!” They probably wouldn’t, because most of them don’t care enough to bother. But still, it’s tempting.”

I always find it interesting that people who would push, scream and cry against you trying to change them or tell them who they are seem all too eager to change YOU or tell YOU who you are or are not. What arrogance! I know who I am, I know all kinds of shit I’ve been through (that YOU know nothing about) and I think I’m more of an expert on ME than you are by far.

I love when I tell people I have PTSD and they try to tell me I couldn’t possibly have it (like my oldest brother did). Hey, why not talk the psychiatrist who diagnosed me (along with several other issues)– how about that? Who the hell is ANYONE to tell ME they are a bigger expert on me than I am MYSELF?! I wouldn’t EVER dare do that to someone else. It’s not my place, and it’s not anyone else’s place to do that to me.

So, the bottom line is that I’m who I am am for a reason, and if I do not fit into your tidy world view or you don’t know how to “deal” or “connect” with me, that’s your issue and not mine. If I cannot “deal” with someone or cannot “connect” with them (and I can be nice and congenial to most people, but I rarely feel a true and deep connection with them — just being honest), I simply decide to keep walking my path and if we find a way to relate, that’s great. If we don’t, I’m not interested in forcing it into being something it’s not.

I will say this — if you have publicly insulted or embarrassed me in the past, there is very little chance I will allow you an opening to do that again. Rude, tactless behavior directed at shaming someone in front of others by drawing attention to their physical appearance is NOT a cool thing to do, and if you truly had compassion, you wouldn’t think of doing that to a so-called friend.

Okay, a long post, but I needed to get it out of my system. If I’ve offended anyone, that’s your issue. You’re welcome to stay, but invited to leave if you do not understand that this is my virtual home and sanctuary and I post whatever I want on my blog without any permission needed. This place is primarily for MY expression and thoughts. You have your own place for YOUR expression and thoughts.

Also, a warning: if you are combative or mean in the comments, you will be removed and blocked. I don’t think anyone will be, but just in case. 🙂 This is a statement I needed to make in a firm, yet authentic, way. It is NOT a post that’s up for debate or examination. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. 😉