Youth Has No Appreciation for the Lack of Pain

growing olderGee, did I?  Appreciate that I could wake up, jump out bed, throw on my clothes, leap down the stairs and run out the door? Run across a field, dance for hours and function with little rest?  I didn’t, because when you are young, you think you have a long time to be young,  and being 40 years old seems like light years away.

The years from 40-60 went by in a blink.  I did a lot.  The years were full of many ups and downs.  It sure wasn’t boring. But pass they did, until I had to admit I was years into the process of being “middle aged”.  ( That’s all I’ll admit to, because they say 60 is the new 40.  Ha!  Written by a true 60 year old. )

life's riches, aging gracefully

Now, I wake up in the morning and contemplate how bad I really need to pee because the process of actually sitting up, swinging my legs over the side of the bed, stand up and shuffle into the bathroom, trying to not fully open my eyes,  and admit that every single part of my body hurts . . . takes deep thought.  I don’t want to wake up to my day, not just yet.

Once it gets going I’m on a roll, and since I’m deeply addicted to writing my book, “Inside the Forbidden Outside” ( title change from “InsideOut”, two chapters linked to in this blog) I will sit here for the better part of at least 12 hours, getting up to make dinner and watch a movie with my old hippie, and occasionally make a stab at some kind of housework, teach a piano student or try to make some money selling Avon.  http://youravon.com/sonni. (What shameless plugging for myself.! You can order online. Yay.)  Oops, I can’t forget about Ambit Energy, my other moneymaker.  A girl (older woman) has to eat!  After dinner I’m back at the computer until the wee hours of the morning.

So, getting back to my post about my mornings, I get a cup of coffee and creep back under the covers, with some kind of painkiller laying on my tongue, grab my Nook off the bedside table and boot it up. It takes a lot of effort to do any kind of serious work in a timely manner on my Nook because I keep trying to make it behave like  my laptop, and it sometimes pisses me off and dumps whatever I’m writing, like it did this morning.  That is what got out of bed today.

I lay like that for at least an hour, which is why I try my damnedest never to plan on doing anything critical in the morning, and wait for the pain to slowly subside.

Youth – oh how easy things are for you physically when you are young.  Leap tall buildings in a single bound and not break anything on the way down.  The other day I had a minor fall in my mother’s garden, stepping in mulch and my foot sank and my knee bent into a plant and down I went, my body twisting in weird ways, and I couldn’t get up.   I go, SP and MV, (which is the acronym for shit,piss and monkey vomit, taught to me many years ago by my mother, that sweet woman who cringes when I cuss in her presense) And . . . I, in my embarrassment was in full view of the street.  The mulch was soft and I couldn’t get a firm hold on the ground with the foot that wasn’t attached to the knee in the plant (poor plant) and lift my body weight up with the other leg.  Finally, with much grunting, I was able to grab hold of a post and pull myself up.  Two days later and my body is still sore from moving muscles that had been frozen  together during hibernation this winter.  There is more leaping tall building with one bound in my life!

I think of my mother who will be 82 in a few days.  I can see the look on her face at times when a pain somewhere grabs her, and I think OMG and she is 22 years older than I am and if I feel like I do now, what will it feel like then?  But what she has in spades is optimism and a zest, APPRECIATION for being alive that young people just don’t have.

aging gracefully

So, I guess it is a trade-off.  Youth for wisdom. Youth for experience.  Youth for appreciation.  Youth for memories.  IF, when you get old you lose your appreciation for being alive, and lose the ability to have dreams and hopes, if you can no longer look at a flower and just stand there and appreciate the beauty, then you have lost the point of your live and wish it could just-be-over.

Looking back at my life, seeing the things I did, the mistakes I made, the people I loved, (and still do) the lessons I have learned,  spurs me on to keep my dreams alive and to create new ones as I age.  Welcome the lines and wrinkles, the gray hair and the skin that begins to sag because each one is a story in itself.  Through all the experiences I have had made they have made me who I am. Is this called aging gracefully?
aging gracefully

I only wish I could do it with . . . a little less pain.

Stop Believing Family is Supposed to Love You, When They Don’t

Older sister on the left and me on the right, and younger sister in front.  I remember this day at Wildwood NJ
Older sister on the left and me on the right, and younger sister in front. I remember this day at Wildwood NJ

When I wake in the morning I always grab my Nook, swallow 10 mg of methadone and start my daily routine on the web, while waiting for some of the pain to subside, so I can get on with my day, which usually includes 12 hrs or more in front of my laptop on my other website http://mynameisjamie.net or writing my book “InsideOut” There are three of ten chapters written so far that can be found on the opening page of that site. The weather isn’t nice outside, so I have a reason to hole up inside. I absolutely hate cold weather and won’t go out in it if I don’t have it.

I’m beating about the bush. I happened on some posts at https://drkottaway.wordpress.com/ about how childhood trauma can affect you.  There are quite a few great posts here and is a worthwhile blog going to.   I have some deep issues dealing with my family and they came to a head recently and dealing with them has not been easy. I decided to just write and get it out.

I am inserting a piece of music I recorded. My music is all improvisational, never to be played again.  A wrong note here and there. Keep that in mind and listen while you read.

———————————————–Sonni Quick   copyright 2015 -Watching and Waiting

When we are children, we have no way to process the things that happen to us, so we end up thinking it is our fault and most of the time it affects who we are to this very day. It’s not so easy to just say, “I won’t think about it any more.  It won’t affect my life any more”, because the damage has already been done and all we can do is pick up the pieces and try to use what we have learned in a positive way somehow. Easier said than done.  I don’t think any child escapes trauma of some kind and even though it may even seem like such a small thing today, back then it affected everything – which then affects your existence today.

Me, my father, my older sister and younger sister. Happy family time.
Me, my father, my older sister and younger sister. Happy family time.

I went through a molestation with a visiting uncle who took his penis out and wanted me to touch it. I did. He did it one of my sisters, too. I didn’t find that out, though for 45 years. I never told anyone. Neither did she. He didn’t visit for long, so he had no other opportunities to do anything else. I don’t know why I never said anything, but I knew it was wrong.  What do you say, “Uncle took his thingy out” – when I don’t even think I knew then what it was called? I never told anyone until I was in my 50’s. 

Negative family relationships

I have a sister a year older than me who, when I was 5, when we were walking to school, wouldn’t let me walk with her, and this 6 year old told me, “I don’t want anyone to know you are my sister.” Until we graduated, if she saw me in the school hall she turned her face away. If my own sister didn’t want me around why would anyone? I hated to go to the lunch room in fear I’d have no one to sit with.  Gym class petrified me and I thought of every excuse I could to not have to play games where people picked other people for their team. Since I had no friends, of course I was usually picked last or close to it. Until I graduated I had very few friends. Until I was 34 I had very few friends. I scared people off by not being friendly first, so I didn’t have to worry if I was going to be rejected. I had such a fear of rejection I rejected them first. Why would someone want to be friends with me?

It wasn’t until I started practicing Buddhism and this woman I didn’t know called me and asked if I wanted to come to a discussion meeting.  I stood there with my hand on the phone in total amazement. A woman called me like she was my friend?  She wanted me around? I remember this so clearly.

Aside from this, I hustled pool, changed my name and reinvented myself several timees.  spent many years working as a professional musician, on stage many, many times. Confident, strong and an air of being so sure of myself and my goals.  I needed no one.   My wall was very high. My confidence alone pushed people away.  I could walk into a club and pick what man I wanted to spend time with and walk out with him.  I made myself believe I needed no one.

It’s easy to see why my family didn’t quite know how to deal with me, but did they need to be quite so hurtful? We’re in our 60’s.  Okay, I led a very diverse life. It sure wasn’t boring. This truth telling has only been the tip of the iceberg? Could I have led their lives doing the same thing over and over for decades?

I have a younger sister, but we were never “sisters”. She has recently made it clear that she doesn’t know ” how”.  A few weeks ago at the age of 61 my older sister had quadruple heart bypass surgery. I have a fairly large family. Mom, and also a variety of neices and nephews and their families.  Everyone was at the hospital to support her – except me, because I knew if I went it would cause a big problem. So I stayed home and kicked the walls for a few days. I sent her a card, said nice things in about wanting to see her, wrote her an email asking her to please call. She won’t answer her phone because she sees it’s me. No response.

Four years ago I had to move home to Pa from Key West. I lost my home and my business, a retail store of ten years at the Weston Hotel where the cruise ships docked.  I lost everything. My husband and I moved to my mothers into a 10×10 room.  My whole life was in storage or in that room.  I think my family expected me to be a whole person, but I wasn’t.  I was shattered into tiny pieces that were unable to process thought very well any more. I was very sick and was put on the liver transplant list, because 40 years ago, when I left home to go to college, I turned to drugs.

Drugs took the place of friends. people don’t do drugs because it makes them feel bad. It fills a hole. It puts good feelings in a place there is none. I had no self worth and when I was high I could come out of myself and play and dance and sing and be the person I wanted to be. It gave me fortitude the same way a drink gives fortitude to an alcoholic.

I was raped once when I was about 20. The only person I told was this man’s girlfriend. I ended that relationship. All I did was run away and spent 3 days shooting heroin, but stopped the first time I felt sick and knew it would make me feel better. I made a sign on a piece of cardboard and hitchhiked home, although home was not where I grew up.

Except occasionally,when I went to Pa every couple years to visit, I had no communication with my sisters. Why?

I had a problem with drugs off and on until age 34.  Once and addict always an addict, just like someone never really recovers from alcohol.  One drink can set them back.  I never turned down any drug if it was put in front of my face. But at 34, I found Nichiren Buddhism, which I’ve written about many times. Even my mother changed from Christianity to Buddhism after she took an honest look at what it taught. But it was at age 34, when I realized my life really did have value and I didn’t need to be afraid any more. That was 27 years ago.

That day I stopped doing street drugs. But within months the ugly head of hep C reared with unexplained illnesses.  Since very few doctors knew abou Hepatitis C they gave an addict pain pills for the nerve pain or wanted to give me anti depressants because, since they couldn’t diagnose it, it was all in my head. It was another ten years before I got a diagnoses. I stayed on my feet for 12 more years until my liver was a complete mess and a transplant was necessary. It had turned to liver cancer. I was out of time. I had to move home where there was a good transplant hospital.

Shooting drugs from ages 19-22, hiding from myself and pretending to be someone else was a massive cause and effect.

My mother has always asked me why I did drugs. If I hadn’t left the state to go to college, which I screwed up doing drugs, and stayed home, maybe I wouldn’t have done them? Karma is karma. There are drugs everywhere.  Staying home wouldn’t have changed that, but being away my family also meant they couldn’t see what I was doing.

When I moved back to Pa I thought I would have a family who cared about me.  It was a very big shock, although I don’t know why, to find out that I didn’t.  They didn’t care a whit about what happened to me and proved it over and over and over.  I thought, “Stupid me”

I had that transplant 2 1/2 years ago.  Not one member of my family was there for me that day, except my husband. The rest of my  family went to the beach on vacation. Not one phone call to even see if I was dead. My mother did stop by the ICU on her way out of town. My Dr said my transplant was in the nick of time. My husband was scared to death and there was no one there to support him. My family didn’t like him, either, and they made no bones about saying so. The negative gossip was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  They didn’t know him, but being married to me was all that was needed. I was told I had maybe a couple weeks of life left at the most, if they hadn’t been able to find a liver in time. I’d been bed ridden for about a year by then. My husband had to do everything for me, even wipe my ass and help me on and off the toilet. I was on a massive amount of drugs to keep protein from building up in my brain and going into a coma.  My body swelled up so big with fluid it was leaking out through sores on my legs. Thinking was hard.  All I could was lay in bed and watch movies on my DVD player.  We don’t own a TV.  He would help me walk to the living room to sit or out to the garden and sit. Not one get well card. No one called.  Recently, when talking to my neice she told me how bad I looked before my surgery.  I bit my tongue and kept my mouth shut because I wanted to say, “How would you know?  I didn’t see you once the year before my surgery. . . .  They have no clue.  I was bedridden for a year after the surgery because I had to relearn how to walk and feed myself. After the surgery my back fractured along with 7 ribs, one at a time. The wall of solid pain didn’t even begin to diminish for six weeks. If anyone would have asked me if I wanted to die, I would have gladly gone. Hopefully I will be having spine surgery in the next couple months so they can place sensors in my spine to try and cut off the pain before it reaches my brain. I hate taking these goddamn painkillers. But when I stopped ‘using’ my life made me continue. what would my life be like with no pills, even though half of them are so I don’t reject my new liver.

Now, as I try to bring this sob story to an end, as I try to figure out what all of this means, I know, as we go through painful events in our lives, we want to see them as being separate . We want to see them as things that were done “to” us, and we carry these pains, stuff them down, and try to make ourselves think it doesn’t matter. Sometimes we let it ruin our lives.  I can honestly say that this hateful family of mine is not ruining my life. I seek to understand and change the karma I brought into my life of having a family such as this one.

It hurts me greatly when I think of it, but I have had my practice of Buddhism to help me understand that happiness comes from within.  I can’t ask anything else to change it for me.  That change has to come from within.  Without this practice of Buddhism I would have been dead a long time ago.  It was the direction I was going in.  But winter always turns to spring.  Every single year.  Every year is a new opportunity I have to live a life of value, and to pass that value on, because the only legacy we can every really leave behind is the effect we have had on other people, that has helped their life in turn.  If my family sees no value in me, then that is a cause they make for themselves. I let this consume me for the past four years out of my 60, but no more.  I try to think, what value would they bring into my life?  I have tried, though, because I see how much it pains my mother to see her daughters at such odds.  All 3 of us – none of us are friends.  She thinks she did something wrong.  She didn’t.  I so love and appreciate my mother and if this illness brought me home to live a block away from her, then that is a wonderful benefit. If anything changed with my sisters  it would take all three of us to want it to be better, and two out of three don’t.

I tried for so long to “make” my family see me as a real person – to want to include me in their lives. I’ve pleaded, wrote letters and even screamed and yelled in frustration, “Why? What have I done that is so terrible? Why are you being such a lousy sister?” I wanted to have even one person say they were sorry for letting me go through a traumatic illness, surgery alone, but my younger sister insists, “I have nothing to be sorry about”.  You have nothing to be sorry about??   She doesn’t get it.  Not at all. I wanted an apology for what she did to me. She’s says she didn’t do anything to me.  She’s right. It’s what she didn’t do. 

According to my family I am toxic. I am the scapegoat for all the problems in the family even though they haven’t been around me. This year, for Christmas, my mother and I cooked dinner and invited family to come.  They did, but there was also a Christmas party planned at my nephew’s house.  Everyone was invited but me so there wouldn’t be any problems. There will be no more Christmas dinners, or birthdays or fourth of July picnics.   I won’t be where I am truly not wanted.  What did they think I was going to do?  Christmas presents I had for one sister are still in my closet.  The birthday card I had for my other sister on March 15th was never sent. For awhile one sister did pretend to care – the one who just had heart surgery, but due to urgings from the family passing gossip, she, too, cut off communication. If I could think of what I did to cause this unforgivable animosity I could deal with it better, but I can’t.  I just don’t understand people who can be so hurtful andso selfish

So I ask myself, why do I want them in my life? What is the purpose of family? Do I judge myself by the way I am judged? Am I the person they judge me to be? No.

I know that what happened when I was five, when my sister made it clear she wanted no part of being my sister – she meant it, even though she didn’t think it at the time, and I’m sure doesn’t even remember saying it. I know the way I felt about myself helped lead me to drugs. I also know, through my study of life through Buddhism these past 27 years that this was karma I caused for myself, somewhere, somehow. It is what I do with this understanding that will either change it or perpetuate it.

For my own sanity I have to let my family go. Stop trying to make them love me, because they don’t. They really, really don’t. They are a group of people that kisses and hugs at holidays and talks about the weather and their jobs and kids, and then doesn’t speak to each other again until the next holiday. So shallow. That holds no value for me. I wanted a sister to be my friend. What is an adult sister but a friend. Someone you talk to about your life. Who you are. I wanted too much from my family. I see that now. I have no value to them. How could we possibly be friends? So how could their children or their children want me as their aunt. So here I am at age 60, finally realizing with utter completeness, I – Have – No – Family. I do still have my mother who loves me and shakes her head at the lack of compassion her family shows me. When she passes, I doubt I will ever be a reason to hear from any member of my family again.  I have my own children and grandchildren, but my immediate family no longer exists.

Now I’m going to go blow my nose and wash my face and take this pile of garbage out to the trash for the last time.

September 2015. Labor Day. I just went back re-read this and thought I’d write a catch up. My entire family and friends are at my older sisters camper at Raystown Lake, so nothing has changed there. Even if they decided I was worthwhile to be around I don’t think it would mean anything to me. Such is life. I also had the surgery on my spine a month ago but it caused complications I’m still healing from. AND 3 weeks ago I started on the new Hepatitis C drug so my fingers are crossed!! And lastly, I bought myself a present. A new keyboard I’m excited. I can record 6 tracks.