Confessions

Today is dark. It’s bleak and cold and I can’t seem to get up and out of the profound darkness that seeps upward from my soul. My heart is an open wound that seems it will never heal. I don’t want to be here. I’m tired, in pain, and just want that to release me from it’s clutches. How is it that you can be lonely in a house full of people? To crave silence and privacy, while at the same time wishing for someone to pull you from the abyss? I don’t want to be touched. I can’t help myself from crying.

I don’t want to live in the past – but I also don’t know how to get to a place where the past can be the past – to let go and try to just live today as it is. I am broken in ways that can never be repaired. There are some wounds that just won’t heal and that are inevitably fatal. Perhaps a part of me has died and the rest of me hasn’t gotten the memo. I don’t know.  Tears roll down and I’m unable to take a deep breath. I want desperately to be alone – but I know that is not the answer – even though I don’t think it’s a good idea.

I really don’t have a choice – I have to function – there are too many people counting on me – but at the same time – I wonder if I’m really doing any good. I feel like a ghost.

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Repair, Recovery, and Rejuvenescence

From Merriam Webster, the meaning of rejuvenescence follows the theme of the renewal of youth, and vigor. 

The Good Stuff

I love using fifty-cent words as much as the next person (especially writers/bloggers) but the thing is, the title really fits with the theme here. Truly, each of these words evokes emotions associated to my current circumstances. In the same vein as my previous blog post 30 Pounds of Throbbing Pain this post is a sharing of some of my personal journey towards wellness, physically, mentally, emotionally. A couple of weeks ago I was rushed to the Emergency Room because I was experiencing intense abdominal pain. The sensation could only be described as the feeling that something had ripped loose inside my abdomen, to the point that I could scarcely breathe. Now, in my experience any trip to the ER is stressful, and this one was no exception. Within minutes of arriving, they had started an IV, given me strong pain medication and were performing a variety of tests including a vaginal ultrasound and pelvic exam. As a woman who has given birth to six children, I have had my fair share of pelvic exams. They’re never fun, but over the years (especially during my child-bearing years) it’s become a lot less difficult to manage the stress and emotions that come unbidden during such a personal experience. It wasn’t long before we discovered what was going on, and soon I was scheduled for an appointment with my gynecologist.

discussionSo, the exam. Honestly, this had to be one of the most thorough pelvic exams I have ever experienced. At one point, he handed me a mirror so I could see what he was explaining. It may seem somewhat unorthodox or uncomfortable, but I found it empowering. Perhaps as women we should be more familiar with our genitalia. We should see it, be as familiar with it as we are with our breasts or even our face. I was surprised the emotions that were evoked by having my doctor explain in excruciating  detail every aspect of my vagina and pelvic organs. So, all of that to get to this point, I am suffering from a prolapse of my pelvic organs. Specifically, I have the following:
  • Cystocele – A cystocele is formed when the bladder bulges or herniates into the vagina.
  • Rectocele – A rectocele occurs when the rectum bulges or herniates into the vagina.
  • Uterine prolapse – A uterine prolapse occurs when the uterus falls into the vagina.
Now, I will bet you’re wondering why I am blogging about such a personal experience. I find as a woman, that there are so many things that we DON’T talk about. It’s a fairly common, with nearly one-third of women experiencing prolapse or similar conditions sometime in their lifetime. However, it seems that this is a topic that is rarely discussed by women. It seems that once we’ve had “the talk” with our mother’s (or aunt or grandmother or best friend) about sex, that somehow we’re supposed to figure it all out ourselves. Why all the silence? What are we so afraid to talk about?
This is really why I am sharing this experience. Maybe I’ll be the one story someone reads or hears that tells them this is ‘normal’ and not shameful. That you don’t have to just live with the symptoms, but should feel comfortable (or at least not scared to death) to talk to your own doctor about it.  I am fairly young for the surgery, most women are over 60 before they experience symptoms requiring surgery. My own mother had a hysterectomy following my birth, so it’s not something that was even on my radar. And while multiple pregnancies and vaginal births were likely a cause, so was the sexual abuse that I suffered as a child.
I guess the part that I really feel is important to discuss is that I wasn’t really expecting the flood of emotion that I’ve been feeling. And like my foot/ankle surgeries, it seems that I am just now repairing damage done to me during the years of abuse. At 47, finally, I am having reconstructive surgery that will return my body to where it was pre-abuse.

 article-0-0C42CD2700000578-329_468x365Even with the 700+ words that precede this sentence, I cannot adequately describe the myriad of emotions that I am feeling. I wonder how the recovery process will affect me mentally, when it’s likely that I will be experiencing things so reminiscent of the original injuries.

On Monday, May 19th, I begin the next leg of the journey to wholeness, to recovery, to rebirth of sorts. I realize that this may be long or arduous, but also empowering. I hope that this post (and you) will remind me of this in the dark moments that are sure to come.

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A Basket of Daisies

10120634-field-of-daisy-flowers The story of my mother’s pregnancy with me and my birth is, I believe, a fitting prelude to the rest of my life, and is both a source of happiness and pain.

In August of 1964, my parents had a daughter out of wedlock, a girl born with a cleft palate to a 30 year old divorcee and a 19 year old truck driver. They gave her up for adoption directly after her birth, perhaps sparing her some of the more painful times of my childhood. This sister is someone whom I’ve only a tiny bit of information on, whom is still a mystery to me nearly a half a century after her birth.

It was the summer of 1966, and my mother was married to my father, her second husband, a man 11 years her junior, and she was already the mother to two boys ages 8 and 10. It was at this time,  about the 6 month mark in her pregnancy, that it was discovered she had a cancerous tumor of the uterus. The pregnancy was already a difficult one when my parents found out that my mother was fighting cancer, and that the baby she was carrying was sure to be a stillborn. It seems no wonder she (admittedly) hated me, hated this dead thing inside her.

My mother was due to deliver me on Christmas Day, 1966. However, she was too ill to try to deliver and was scheduled for a full hysterectomy once she was strong enough to survive the delivery and surgery. For the better part of the last months of her pregnancy, my mother believed she was carrying a lifeless child, and was counting down the days until she could expel it. My parents relationship was strained and falling apart. Though she had many doctors appointments, a heartbeat was never heard, and no movement, no butterfly flutters or tiny hiccups were felt.

So it was a complete surprise when, on January 26th, in the elevator of the hospital on the way to surgery, a screaming Dawnfelice was born. A tiny, sickly baby, scarcely as large as my father’s hand, born live and fighting for every breath. My mother was rushed to surgery, where she underwent a full hysterectomy and cancer treatments, spending weeks in the hospital. My dad ended up at some point bringing me home, long before my mother made it back to our domicile. And, since they had not planned on bringing home a child, they had only a few provisions for a baby, making my first “bed” a shoebox.

Due to the tumor (which consequently weighed 9 pounds to my minuscule 4.5 pound frame) crowding me and feeding on the placenta like the stronger being it was, I was born quite ill and fragile. I remember even as a small child hearing the doctors tell my mother that I would be lucky to see my next birthday. Born with severe anemia, a hole in my heart, underweight and malnourished, the prognosis wasn’t good. I probably wouldn’t speak, walk, or live to see my 5th birthday.

So many times during those early years, I could be found in the hospital, suffering through complications of anemia, or yet another case of pneumonia. On one such rainy afternoon in Los Angeles General Hospital in the Spring of 1971, I had been admitted to the Children’s ward for treatment of an acute bout of pneumonia. I was running a fever so high that I was hallucinating. I was truly quite ill, in grave peril. My mother (my parents had been divorced for three years by this time, making her a single, working mother of 3 children)  asked me if I wanted anything, and all I could cough out was the word “daisies”.

My mother went down to the gift shop to bring me a bouquet, but there were no daisies to be had. So, in an act of kindness and desperation, she ventured out into the rain to a floral shop near the hospital. Still, no daisies. At a small drugstore blocks away from the hospital, my mother found a small brown basket filled with white and yellow plastic daisies and an adorably large lady bug on the handle.

daisies

Rushing back to the hospital to bring the basket to me before my dreaded appointment for an x-ray (I believed when they explained to me that an x-ray was a test where they could “see your bones”, my fevered brain believed that the large apparatus that loomed above the  table was actually going to crush me so they could “look at my bones”) my mother slipped on the rain-slicked entry to the hospital, falling and breaking her ankle.

Imagine the surprise when, instead of the 4 year old Dawnfelice Ruger coming in for a chest xray, the technicians see my mother Felicia Ruger being wheeled in for an xray of of her ankle. I don’t think it helped that in my fever-crazed fear that I got away from the nurses and ran screaming down the halls of the hospital, being chased by nurses and orderlies until they returned me to the xray room securely strapped down to a gurney.

That little basket of daisies was a prized-possession for many years, reminding me that there was some level on which my mother actually did love me. It also became the cornerstone of one of my first collections as a child, a collection of daisies. To this day, they are my favorite flowers, eternally optimistic in their simple elegance.

For more information on daisies, their meanings and historical significance – check out http://www.whats-your-sign.com/symbolic-meaning-of-daisy.html

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My Life Is Sweet

This summer I have made a concerted effort to organize my life enough to be able to spend Fridays at the beach* with the kids. This may seem easy to some, but for me, it requires a special effort to handle my OCD tendencies and actually get out of the house on a timely basis. Last Friday, we were finally on our way at about 2pm (after cleaning the house top to bottom, getting all the laundry put away, getting my mother squared away, and a picnic dinner packed into the van), with just one scheduled stop on the way. I knew it would be a somewhat abbreviated beach day, as there were thunderstorms on the radar, bearing down on our little berg.

The scheduled stop was to drop off packages to Josh so he could ship them for me. While sitting in the van waiting for him to come out of his office, a friend of mine appeared with her 3 kids in tow, obviously there to visit her husband James (who works with my Josh). We exchanged pleasantries, as she inquired if we were going out to the lake, and then she said “I wish I had your life!”

I smiled as we said our goodbyes and went on about the day. But, I have to admit that her exclamation stuck with me. What did she see that was to be envied? Certainly, in my blackest moments I would not wish my life on my worst enemy (this phrase gave me pause, do I have enemies? Sadly, I admit that I do). I’ve recently been struggling through a bout of depression, and despite my efforts to be a positive force, an agent of change, I heard the [not-so little] voice as it started in with “why on Earth would anyone want YOUR life?”…

So, I spent the rest of the afternoon musing, is my life (with all it’s challenges) enviable? Some part of me wanted to say no, wanted to wallow in the pit, to fall headlong into the abyss. Oh, poor wretched creature.

But the longer I thought about it, turning the idea over in my head, examining all sides, I began to see that the majority of me was quietly content. My life is sweet, my life is full.

I would have left this entire topic alone, except that the words came back to me this morning. I became aware of them running in my head as I lay in bed, next to my best friend, my true soul mate, my love and life. Here I am, safe and sound. My kids are all safe and healthy.

I am most blessed.

The song Life is Sweet, by Natalie Merchant (of 10,000 Maniacs) comes to me:

It’s a pity, it’s a crying shame
Who pulled you down again?
How painful it must be
To bruise so easily inside
It’s a pity, it’s a downright crime
It happens all the time
You want to stay little daddy’s girl
You want to hide from the vicious world outside
Don’t cry, you know the tears will do no good
So dry your eyes
Oh, your daddy, he’s the iron man
Battleship wrecked on dry land
Your mamma she’s a bitter bride
She’ll never be satisfied, you know
And that’s not right.
But don’t cry, you know the tears will do no good
So dry your eyes
Oh, they told you life is hard
Misery from the start,
It’s dull, it’s slow, it’s painful
But I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There’s so much more, be grateful
Well, who do you believe
Who will you listen to
Who will it be
‘Cause it’s high time that you decide
In your own mind
I’ve tried to comfort you
I’ve tried to tell you to be patient
They are blind, and they can’t see
Fortune gonna come one day
They’re all gonna fade away
Your daddy the war machine
And your momma the long and suffering
Prisoner of what she cannot see
For they told you life is hard
Misery from the start,
It’s dull, it’s slow, it’s painful
But I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There’s so much more, be grateful
So, who will you believe
Who will you listen to
Who will it be
‘Cause it’s high time that you decide
It’s time to make up your own
Your own state of mind
Oh they told you life is long
Be thankful when it’s done
Don’t ask for more, be grateful
But I tell you life is short
Be thankful because
Before you know it
It will be over
‘Cause life is sweet, life is also very short
Life is sweet and life is also very short
Life is sweet

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And then, the Abyss blinked….

Hello Depression, I’ve been expecting you. Seriously dude, can you give me a rain check? I have things to do.

I never really know how it is going to go. I could be having a great day, where everything is going right, and somehow, no matter how hard I try, there is something wrong. It’s like biting into a chocolate truffle and finding a cockroach in the center. Nothing that should feel pleasurable does. Food doesn’t taste good, and the pain feels almost like a comfort, if for nothing else in it’s ability to encompass you.

Sometimes, the physical pain is overwhelmed entirely, like a wave encompassing all the other waves, by the emotional pain. The bottom drops out, and you feel somehow like there is nothing inside of you from the throat down. You are empty, a carcass.

For me, this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it more than likely catches me by surprise. I’d describe it as akin to coming home from grocery shopping to find a serial killer sitting at your dining room table, sharpening your butcher knife.

I had a great day today. Exceptional really,  but right now – I feel empty, a waif, a shell of a person, waiting for it to end.

Down the hall, five beautiful humans sleep. Just 50 feet away from me, their father sits, reading a book, waiting for his wife. Certainly not waiting for me – the empty shell of Dawnfelice. I cannot find my way back yet. I am staring down, into the abyss. I can’t even cry, because there is nothing left to cry about. I feel dead inside.

What can I do? There were times before in my life, when the answer was simple. Cut, bleed, concentrate and breathe. Find my strength and move on. I’ve healed from that behavior, there is no more cutting, no more pins poking, no hair to pulling out until I have bald spots. It would feel “good” for a minute – but I can’t allow myself to fall back into that. I nearly lost a hand to a garbage disposal because of that compulsion.

So instead – I stare down into the abyss. DEEP. Feeling almost that tumbling forward felt in dreams. And then, when it seems I will fall in – the Abyss blinked and I stepped away and fell into bed.

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Why A Meteorite, You Ask?

Wikipedia (not ALWAYS the most reliable source – but definitely okay in this instance) defines a meteorite as:

A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth’s surface. A meteorite’s size can range from small to extremely large. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids. When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, ram pressure (not friction) causes the body to heat up and emit light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting/falling star. The term bolide refers to either an extraterrestrial body that collides with the Earth, or to an exceptionally bright, fireball-like meteor regardless of whether it ultimately impacts the surface.

I once saw a fallen meteorite at the Griffith Park Observatory on a field trip. It was 1982. I was immediately obsessed. [Consequently, I also observed a Tesla coil on the same trip, and while entranced, strangely enough I did not become immediately CERTAIN I would die by Tesla Coil.]

There is something so random, so amazingly deadly and yet, surprisingly statistically impossible about death by meteorite. It was PERFECT. A random, statistically insignificant and yet grimly repugnant way to die.

Historically, there have been few reported incidents of meteorites hitting anyone or anything – well few if you consider the length of time that man has been recording things falling from the sky versus the fact that meteorites actually fall with virtually equal probability everywhere on Earth – relatively few reports – and as far as I can tell, literally no one has actually DIED from a meteorite.

There are several reported instances of falling meteorites having killed both people and livestock, but a few of these appear more credible than others. The most infamous reported fatality from a meteorite impact is that of an Egyptian dog that was killed in 1911, although this report is highly disputed. This particular meteorite fall was identified in the 1980s as Martian in origin. However, there is substantial evidence that the meteorite known as Valera hit and killed a cow upon impact, nearly dividing the animal in two, and similar unsubstantiated reports of a horse being struck and killed by a stone of the New Concord fall also abound. Throughout history, many first and second-hand reports of meteorites falling on and killing both humans and other animals abound, but none have been well documented.

Don’t worry – I haven’t let the FACTS stop me from being obsessed with the idea. In fact, I calculated the exact angle that a meteorite would have to be falling at in order to kill me in bed – and placed our furniture accordingly. I used to switch sides of the bed with JW just to keep the probability numbers in my favor. I believe the odds of being killed are somewhere around 1/700,000. Wow, that just doesn’t seem low enough for me.

I mean, I’ve survived several car crashes, being thrown from a moving car (there WILL be a post about this), nine years of torture, being stabbed, the Cerritos Air Disaster (I was there, on a cul-de-sac at a BBQ), two abusive marriages, eight surgeries, four miscarriages and six live births.

Seriously, what IS going to kill me?

I plan to live a LONG, LONG life, if only to irritate my children (especially Jr. Asparagus). My grandmothers lived to 95 and 104 respectively, so I’ve got that going for me – plus – I live a relatively low-risk life (except my penchant for  risking life and limb to hang from a circus hoop for photo shoots while suffering from a herniated disk in my lower back) and I am in amazingly good health overall.

Death Defying

And we all have to die of something, right? I fully expect to die by meteorite.

P.S. I’ve left instructions for JW (just in case) on how to stage it to look like I’ve been killed by a meteorite in the event that I kick off from something entirely unrelated. 😉

P.P.S – I have also planned for the eventuality of the Zombie Apocalypse. Just in case.

Family Portrait

Yes, this was our 2010 Christmas Card. You're welcome.

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Panic!! at the Dentist?

I have OCD. It stands to reason – I have survived what many therapists have described as nine years of ritual abuse. Sometimes I have anxiety attacks. Most of the time when they happen I can ride them out, waiting for the panic to subside and the irrational fear to ebb off a bit.

But sometimes….

The last time I had a major panic attack was at the kid’s dentist. It kind of stands to reason – what is more fear inducing than taking several small children to the dentist? I had Bean (5) and Jackers (6) with me, and we had already finished their cleanings etc.

My kids go to a large pediatric dental practice in downtown St. Paul. The staff is very professional, and frankly, I know that I could not survive a day in that place – with all the screaming children (even if it is for their own good).  My kids aren’t screamers (thank God for small favors) but they unfortunately both had a cavity.

I am certain that the dentists and hygienists don’t mean to make a parent feel bad – but somehow – that’s exactly what happens. The anxiety started building during the second child’s exam (Jackers) – because he was going to need to have a tooth pulled. He was born with an extra canine tooth (we called it his “shark tooth”) that was small and a bit weaker than the other teeth.

Now – when you have five small children – you spend a lot of time, an inordinate amount of time, helping them brush & floss etc. We do our best, but sometimes your best isn’t good enough.

This was the trigger. IMPERFECTION! “You aren’t good enough. You have failed, and it’s going to cost you!”The accusation, of “you aren’t really doing your best, are you?” had begun to buzz in my head, and my stomach began to knot.

I barely got out of the office before my chest tightened and I couldn’t breathe. We got into the elevator and down into the car before the full force of the panic hit – and I was able to hand my Kindle Fire! back to Jackers & Bean to keep them busy.

I told them not to be scared – as I completely broke down crying, unable to breathe, unable to talk – panic and anxiety washing over me with fear and guilt. Realizing that it was getting worse, I was able to dial JW’s cell. I don’t think I could even talk at that point, simply crying into the phone “help!”. It scared me to think the kids were scared – but Jackers was very calm and brave – and kept Bean busy playing some game while watching me in the rear view mirror. “It will be ok, mommy”, he said, completely as if he believed it.

Sometimes I think JW has a transporter beam – or is secretly a NASCAR driver – because I think he was there in under five minutes. His presence causing a strange mix of calm and additional tears. Somehow, JW is safe, he is that elusive “Home” that my heart and soul have craved – and it calmed me enough to be able to drive home with him following.

He stayed until the full force of the attack had gone, and checked to make sure the kids were fine (which they were). In fact, they seem completely unaware of how awful those minutes were.

I am trying not to avoid the kid’s dentist. I am nervous to go back, afraid a bit that it will recur. But I know it’s not the “place” – the physical in any account – but the “place” in my heart where imperfection and failure equal physical pain and shame that is the problem.  How or when will that heal?

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