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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Seen and Not Heard

With the recent presidential election, I have seen the best and worst of people on social media and in "real life." I've read posts made by friends that make me wonder if I really know them as well as I'd like to believe. I've seen the city that I work in make national news because a white woman spit on a black man at the polls and called him racial slurs. It's not a pretty time in this country, that I know for sure. On the other hand, I have seen people trying to lift others up and encourage them during this shitstorm. I've seen friends respectfully disagree and it has made me think that perhaps all is not lost.

But that's not the main point of this blog. Something else is on my mind tonight and while this post might be all over the map, I need to get it out. For me, social media has been an extremely important part of my life (put down your pitchforks, advocates of "put your phone down and go outside). In person I am at times awkward. I don't always know what to say and I'm almost always suspicious that when I meet new people, they don't like me. I've done my best not to appear that way on the outside but if you could peer inside my head while I'm at social events you'd want to feed me a Xanax. Social media is a way for me to be to be involved while still feeling safe from the judgment I'm convinced I face when someone meets me in person. Is it all in my head? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is. Does that make it any less difficult for me? Nope.

I have used Facebook as my outlet in many ways. I've raged about animal abuse. I've shared my (somewhat unpopular) opinions about this election. I've called people out when they try to hide behind a computer and be hateful to others. I'm not ashamed of any of these things. I've actually only been ashamed of my posts one time in my life, and that is when I shared personal information about what was happening between my husband and I. I should not have done that and can confidently say I will never do it again. I was acting out of a place of anger and hurt and neglecting to think about repercussions. I was letting myself feel all the emotions rather than stuffing them down. I'm proud of that part but not so proud of the rest. I have wanted to publicly apologize to my husband and I'm using this forum to do so. I am so, so sorry, Tom. I've made it clear to you what you mean to me and it's up to you to decide how far your forgiveness will go.

The title of this blog is "Seen and Not Heard" and that's essentially how I feel today. Today, after calling someone out for a racist, bigoted comment he made I was privately messaged and called a stupid bitch, a skank and ugly. I was told it was clear why I don't have a man. He said I loved black men (but he used to N word). He also said that "Blacks are ruining this country and stupid assholes like you talk so much shit." This stellar human being then proceeded to block me before I could respond.



I'm cool with debating. I don't even mind trading insults. But to send such a message then block me? That's cowardly. And I wasn't having it. I shared the message on my wall and told my 600+ friends that if they felt so inclined, to message Captain Fuckface and let him know what they thought of him. This isn't something I've done before. It's not me to ask others to fight my battles. However, when you block me as a way to "silence" me from firing back...that doesn't sit well.

Those who didn't want to partake kept scrolling. A good portion of my friends and family did message him. Then, out of nowhere, one friend told me I was being "immature" and that I needed to "be a woman" and turn the other cheek. I'll be honest, I kept calm with her because I have believed since I met her that she needs friends, but inside I was seeing red. Turn the other cheek? Be a woman? Allow me to understand this: a male internet troll is allowed to use words like "faggot" and "nigger" and we should all just shrug our shoulders and say it's cool because we should be the bigger people? No. Hell to the fuck NO.

I will always hold people accountable for their fucked up behavior. It is not, and never will be, OK in my eyes to spew hate speech and misogyny because some cowardly fuck (who likely has a dick so small it's practically inverted) is able to hide in the safety of mama's basement and say horrible things to others without consequence. That's not what I'm about. I don't give a rat's ass if it's "just Facebook." Too many assholes are using "just Facebook" as their platform to tear down other genders, minorities, sexual orientations etc. and I frankly don't give a fuck who thinks it takes more energy to try and shut them down than it does to ignore...it's NOT OK and I will always make that known.

I feel like a lot of people want me to be quiet. I think I make people uncomfortable with how open I am, how much I'm apt to swear and my willingness to call people out when they do something shitty. Someone attacked my sister this morning and I refused to let it slide...and a family member threatened to unfollow me for "starting shit on Facebook." While I'm used to this, it still makes me scratch my head. And once again, it's over something a man said. Apparently we're supposed to shake our heads and overlook "boys being boys" because that makes us the "bigger people." If that's the case, I don't want to be the bigger person. I want to be the person who refused to keep her mouth shut. I want to be the one who inspires someone else to stand up for what's right, whether it's on social media or in person. I'm tired of being told to ignore it, to turn the other cheek, to rise above. Fuck that shit.

This is me. I am a fighter. I stand up for what I believe is right. I stand up for those with mental health issues. I stand up for anyone who has ever been bullied for how they look, who they love, which gender they identify with, etc. I will never, ever be everyone's cup of tea. People in my family don't even like me half the time. It used to hurt but to stifle who I am at my core to please those people will damage me way worse than their disapproval.

No one, absolutely NO ONE, is going to silence me.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Dear Joe

First of all, happy birthday. You would be nine today. This morning I would've opened my eyes and snuggled you (and possibly sang to you) and told you how we'd celebrate when I got home from work later. I would've brought you some cake and ice cream and a toy that I'm sure Maggie would have immediately claimed as her own. You wouldn't have cared, you always shared your toys. I would've made you both pose in silly party hats and posted the pics on Facebook for everyone to look at. You see, a lot of people loved you besides just me. A lot of people had their day brightened by a cute Joe Boxer pic. I think it's safe to say you had a fan base.

Today is going to be a little different. 11/7 will always be different, for the rest of my life. Today I woke up and thought of you as Jake and I did our morning ritual of me hitting snooze and him snuggling up on my shoulder to catch a few more ZZZ's. I finally got up and had to coax him out of bed, just like I sometimes had to do with you. We went downstairs and Jake went outside to go potty then came trotting back in and waited at the treat jar, just like every other morning. He ate his treat and we headed back upstairs. I scratched his butt as he walked and he stopped at the landing so I could rub his back, too. We do this every morning now. It's comforting to me. I like it- it's good for me. And it's good for Jake.

I was looking through old pics this morning. I wanted to remember all your other birthdays. I always tried to make them special with cake or treats and presents and party hats and singing. You were the light in my life and I wanted to celebrate you every single day. Although my memories aren't all as vivid as they used to be, I still remember so much. The time you bit Kevin's head because he wouldn't stop shaking me by the shoulders (he was joking, and I did warn him, but he thought it was funny- till he was sporting tooth marks in his forehead). When you heard my friends out in our yard late one night trying to wrap my car in Saran Wrap- I didn't hear a thing but you sure did- you alerted me right away. You always kept me safe. I remember days of working as a waitress and coming home to find something new you had destroyed (digital camera, medicine ball, remote)- that's when I had to start crating you. But you were OK with it and always happy to see me when I got home.

We went on road trips together. You were my best buddy, my sidekick. I lost track of how many nights you watched me cry from whatever man had broken my heart at that particular time and you leaned on me and licked my tears till I couldn't do anything but laugh and hug you and feel lucky to have you as my dog. I could look at you, just a look, maybe a head tilt, and you could read what I was thinking. People may not believe that but you and I know it was true. You understood me and I understood you.

That's why I knew I had to let you go that day. I knew in my heart you were ready and you were done- that you had fought as hard as you could and I fought with you but we weren't going to win this one. Life has not been all that great for me since you left. I always said that it would drive me to the brink of insanity to lose you but I didn't realize how true that statement actually was. I miss you every single day and I'm not sure what I would do if I didn't have Jake to hold onto at night. I often wonder what you'd think of him...he's kind of an asshole but that's a puppy thing and I do recall you were a bit of an asshole till about age 4. Of course I say that about Jake just as lovingly as I said it about you. It's a term of endearment, it truly is.

Tonight Barb from Camp (you remember Camp, you liked to go there and play) will probably come over and share some wine with me. It's not just any wine- it's a special bottle she brought me on New Year's Eve 2015- two days after I had to let you go. It was my favorite wine and they had stopped making it but somehow she brought me a bottle. I said I would save that bottle till your birthday and raise my glass to what an amazing dog you were, and it still sits in the cupboard today. I plan to sit and think about all the ways you were my perfect boy. Jake and Maggie will wear hats and they'll get some cake. I will be as upbeat as I can but make no guarantees I won't cry. Crying is good- it means you affected me that deeply. You changed my life, Joe Boxer. I wouldn't trade one moment for anything.

Someday I hope to see you again. Sometimes I think you're still all around me. I look for signs but I can't be sure. Happy birthday, my boy. Mama loves you to the moon and back and always will.




Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Another New Beginning

I haven't blogged in awhile so I figure my lunch break on a Tuesday is as good a time as any. Before this, I had posted about my intent to write about how happy I was at how my life was going. I'm glad I didn't because I'd look like a complete fool at this point.

The depression is getting SO much better. I think I'm finally beating that and will be OK although I'll always need to practice diligent self-care to keep it "in remission" (is that even a thing for depression?). Unfortunately, my depression and all the other ways I'm not perfect have apparently cost me my marriage. I have never felt so unwanted and damaged and broken in my life. I did want it to work and I loved fiercely with everything I had- that's what I do when I throw myself into something.

I think it's time to stop wearing my heart on my sleeve and believing that everyone has good intentions, and that "happily ever after" exists with a man because honestly? I don't believe it does. Not for a second. I think that I'm just a pretty face to every man I meet (I'm not intending to sound conceited here, either). I don't think anyone sees me as anything more than that and once I show my true self, even the parts that aren't so put together and shiny, a man will always run from that or try to break me down.

I have so many things running through my mind: moving (although I do have a place I can rent), losing friends, starting over, who will kill spiders for me...how will I ever date again someday when no one seems to really want the total Amanda package, etc.

I think I'm strong and I know I won't die. I can do this. I think the problem is the person inside of me who actually wants to have a family and build a life is so disappointed that she's never going to believe what anyone tells her about love ever again. She's always going to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. And that sucks, because I miss her. She was happy and enjoyed life and always believed her "true North" would appear and she'd have her own kind of fairy tale. Now she's 34, never really goes out and does anything and thinks boxed wine is one of the food groups.

This isn't a post looking for pity. I just needed to get my feelings out. I don't need or want pity, truly. I do need and want my friends and family and I'm so thankful for the uplifting talks, people who have taken me out to get my mind off of things, just the support in general. I'm so damn lucky in that regard. I've kind of seen this coming. I tried to fight it but I have to take the gloves off now and hang them up. I'm looking ahead and I know I'll have my pets and my friends and family to help me muddle through.

I'm hoping this can be my last "sad" post for awhile. I want to go back to writing funny stories like I used to. I really, really enjoy making people laugh and smile even if it's by sharing a slightly embarrassing story or something that makes me look silly. I can laugh at myself and my sense of humor is definitely not dead. So if you're still reading, thank you and I promise things will get better after this. I had a fleeting thought to delete my old posts because what if someone new comes along and sees them and decides he doesn't want any part of that...but that would be betraying the many people who have messaged me or commented or texted saying, "Hey, me too. You said what I could not bring myself to say about how I feel. Thank you." I won't do that to those people. I'm only capable of being genuine and to delete would not be genuine.

So I'm off to put on my big girls pants and face whatever comes next. Standing on the ledge ready to take the leap. Maybe I won't fall, maybe I'll actually fly this time.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

A soul not so black

This week I helped rescue a puppy that was being sold on a Detroit garage sale site. I say helped because it was truly a joint effort...I found her and wanted to save her but my friends and family, being the amazing people they are, all assisted to make it happen. For two days I argued with the seller who kept standing me up on when he'd bring this sweet baby to me. A lot of people who care about me were worried he was scamming me or that he was setting me up to be robbed. Some thought there was no puppy at all and that he was stringing me along. My heart told me to keep on trying anyway- to not give up just yet.

And last night, this beautiful baby was placed in my arms.


I don't have proper words for the emotions that came over me when I was finally holding her. I was going to be able to make sure she had an amazing life with a loving forever family. The fact that I had the power to forever change the world for this sweet little soul made it all worth it. 

I don't get to assist with rescue nearly as often as I'd like, but I do what I can. I wish I could save every single animal in need that I come across, but I can't. I've been asked, in a roundabout way, why I put myself through it. I don't even view it that way. This is my chance to do two things: make a difference in the world one animal at a time and maybe, just maybe, save myself from believing all the horrible things my brain- my depression- tries to tell me about myself on a daily basis.

You see, even when I'm not having "an episode" or a low moment, I'm almost always fighting a struggle inside. I'm ugly, I'm useless, I drink too much, I have gained too much weight. I'm not a good friend, not a good daughter. And definitely not a good wife. All these marks against me have made me feel like my soul has turned black and that there's nothing special or worthy about me. When I save a life it makes me feel like maybe I'm not all those things, at least for a little while. I feel like a good person who is making contributions to the world rather than just pathetically existing until she dies. Animals have always had a way of making me feel more selfless, more giving and more kind. 

Some days I feel pretty inside and out. Those are the days you'll see me on Facebook being cheerful and funny, and posting selfies. The majority of the time, though, I'm just struggling to get out of bed, put on my big girl pants and face the world without wanting to retreat. Animals help me with that. 

So that's why I do the things I do. Maybe someday when I meet my maker, if there is one, he'll forgive the bad things I've done in my life because the good things will overshadow them. 

And when I get there, I expect all the dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, squirrels, frogs (and any other creatures I may have left out) I have rescued and loved to be waiting for me. That, to me, sounds just like heaven. 



Monday, August 8, 2016

Coming out the other side of a black hole

You may not know this about me, either because you don't know me well enough or I didn't share this aspect of my life with the world till now, but I suffer from severe and at times debilitating depression and anxiety. I've struggled with it all my life although I wasn't officially diagnosed till my mid 20s. Since then, my life has been a roller coaster of being fine, being just OK or being in what I can only describe as the deepest black hole I can imagine. Part of the black hole is my fault- I take daily medication for my condition and once I started to feel good, I'd stop taking it. It wasn't necessarily a conscious decision on my part. I never woke up one morning and thought, "Man I feel good, I'm not taking my medicine today." It would be forgetting to take it one day, then two, then seven, then a month...and then I'd find myself back at rock bottom, fighting demons I can't see and hating myself for ever thinking I could exist without my medicine.

Turns out I hadn't actually hit rock bottom till earlier this summer. The years of taking my meds then stopping, pretending I was just fine and self-medicating to avoid situations that made me uncomfortable (family parties where I was worried someone might ask why I don't have kids yet, gatherings with friends that made me feel like unless I was drinking no one would like the real Amanda who is actually kind of reserved and quiet) caught up with me with the force of a speeding freight train. I found myself hospitalized- I put myself there. I called for help on my own because I was scared to death at how low I felt and what dark thoughts were running through my mind: "Maybe you're better off dead" "Your family might hurt for awhile but they'll be happier without you" "Your husband doesn't need your bullshit and could find someone better" "Your life will never amount to anything else anyway- you might as well stop it all now"- these are all things I actually thought and believed and it terrified me. So I made a call and was checked in at U of M. I spent three days there hiding in my private room, wearing pants with no drawstring (you can't have anything on you that could be used for self-harm) and having my every move monitored. I felt like a failure as a person, wife, daughter, sister, dog mama. It was like everyone was watching me and nodding their heads saying, "We knew this would happen. We knew she'd crash and burn." I was very embarrassed. It's not easy to admit you don't have control over yourself, that there's a chemical imbalance in your brain, a defect in your DNA, that makes you different than "normal" people in society.

It wasn't my last trip to the hospital, either. I wanted SO badly to be well after those three days, to be able to put it all behind me and smile and be a productive citizen, one of the shiny happy people. I couldn't think of anything I wanted more than to be the woman who is always smiling. The woman who keeps her husband happy and is a good friend and family member. I didn't want to be the one who sometimes didn't want to get out of bed because despite all the things she has in life, she couldn't see past the darkness in front of her. It's like being in a prison in your own head.

It has taken me till very, VERY recently to start to feel like maybe there's hope for me. It's been one week and a day since I stopped self-medicating and started taking care of myself and seeing past the black void that I felt swallowed up in. I don't know how else to adequately describe how depression feels for me except that nothing is ever enough. No goal or thing I want (tangible or otherwise) is enough to make me stop feeling like my life is collapsing on itself. I more or less have EVERYTHING I've ever wanted in life. I wanted to be with my husband more than anything else I'd ever wanted- now I'm Mrs. Quick with a big ring on her finger. I wanted to live closer to my family- as of one year ago, I'm a resident of Monroe County and can be at my parents' house within about ten minutes. I wanted a good, reliable job- I'm coming up on three years in a great position at a fantastic company that pays well and offers incredible benefits. Yet none of it was enough to ward off feelings of despair, self-loathing and sadness. So basically for me, depression is feeling so low that you can be handed the world and still feel like you've got nothing. The glass isn't just half empty- it's bone dry. And that really, really sucks. I don't think some people understand just how badly it sucks to want to be happy and show the world what a good person I am and that I want to be here and I value everyone in my life but not be able to do it. To almost lose people I love because I just CANNOT bring myself to get out of bed, to leave the house, to go socialize. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

But now I feel like maybe, just maybe I'm reaching a point where I understand that this is not my fault. Depression is not my fault. Anxiety is not my fault. What would be my fault is to not get up and try, to stop taking my medicine, to not go to a therapist. Those things are within my control. Taking care of myself is within my control. Things as simple as drinking enough water, washing my face and putting on moisturizer, sleeping on clean sheets so I can rest better...those are basic self-care tasks that I need to do for myself because I deserve to feel good- but no one else can do it for me. I've got to put me first. I have not done that in years, if ever. I want to start.

So I'm going to start blogging again. I've said this before but writing has always helped me to feel better about things. It also helps me to explain myself to others in a way I can't always do face to face. I hope some of the people reading this- the friends I haven't gotten back with, the people who have seen me be a hot mess, the ones who have taken my sobbing phone calls when I felt like I had nowhere else to turn- will have a better understanding of what I'm feeling. Why I might not return that call or text right now, or complete a project I agreed to do as quickly as I originally promised. I am doing the best I can and working to repair myself and my marriage. Those things, and caring for my animals, are trumping everything else right now. If that upsets anyone, I'm sorry. Things won't be like this forever but this is what I have to do right now to get what I want out of life. So if you see me on Facebook, say hi. Maybe I'm having a day where I feel more social. If I respond to a text or message that's a week old, don't be mad at me. Please just be patient. I'm going to be the person I was meant to be. I owe myself and my loved ones and my animals that.

And if you're suffering from depression or any other mental illness, please do not be embarrassed or feel like you have to hide. There are lots of resources at your fingertips when you're ready to use them. Talk to someone about it and NEVER be ashamed because it's NOT your fault.

XOXO
Amanda

Monday, January 18, 2016

Joe

I decided to start my old blog back up. I've tried to do this a few times in the past but got too busy (or too lazy) to actually follow through.

I'm starting back up because I don't know how to handle this all-consuming grief I feel inside over losing Joe Boxer. I'm hoping that writing things out somewhere other than Facebook will help me somehow and that my entries can go back to being witty and fun like they used to be. I deleted all my previous entries, though. I just want to start fresh. They still exist but they aren't visible to anyone. Maybe I'll repost them someday. Maybe not. 

Back to Joe. I don't have adequate words to describe the pain I am feeling inside. Tomorrow will be three weeks since I made the choice to end his pain and while on the outside I might seem OK, I'm not. I am absolutely 100% NOT OK. I cry at random times- it just comes without warning. Sometimes the realization that he's gone hits me out of nowhere and my body physically jolts like someone just pushed me incredibly hard. I don't know how to deal with this. Joe was my best friend, my constant companion. The only being on this planet that has never hurt me...except when he had to leave. 

I don't feel alive anymore. I don't want this to be a slap in the face to those in my life because I still love everyone, especially Tom and Maggie, very much. But when Joe left something inside of me died. It feels like any sparkle I had is gone and I don't know how to get it back. I don't even know if it WILL come back. I feel like I am existing day to day and when things get particularly hard I reach for alcohol (and no, this is not a cry for help and NO, I do not have a drinking problem so please do NOT come at me with any suggestion that I do because you'll be abruptly shut down) because it's the only way to numb this terrible, terrible pain in my heart. I want to touch him and pet him. I want to hear him running through the house because right now, even with Maggie around, the house has an eerie, devastating silence that I can't fill no matter how loudly I play my music or what volume the TV is on. 

I sleep with the blanket he covered up with during the last few weeks of his life. I don't do it every night- I save it for nights that are the hardest, like last night. Out of nowhere, sitting on the couch with Tom I started to cry. I don't know why. I just thought of Joe and admitted out loud that I missed him and the tears came. I tucked myself in with his blanket by my face and wished for a dream about him so that I could see him again...and a dream came alright, but a bad one. I woke up around 2am ready to cry and had a hard time getting back to sleep. 

I don't understand how an otherwise healthy dog can get sick and go downhill so fast. Some swelling the night before Thanksgiving and gone by December 29th. How the fuck is that fair? Why did cancer take over my beloved boy and make him hurt and cry? How can something like that happen to such a beautiful, selfless animal? I fucking HATE cancer. I hate it all. I hate reading posts about people and animals who have cancer. It isn't fair. But that's life, right? Life is rarely fair. 

Bringing home his urn last Friday was one of the worst days of my life, almost worse than when I had to let him go. I don't have words for the tightness in my chest and the pain in my heart. I don't have words for the anger, sadness, frustration, loneliness and shock that was attacking my system all at once. I thought I knew pain from stupid breakups and other things that have happened to me in my life but I didn't have a clue till then. A month ago that day I had my boy and I still had some hope. Then, January 15th, I was holding an urn with his ashes. The urn itself is beautiful and I'm grateful that I have it because I plan to be buried with it. But that didn't stop the tears and pain and I honestly don't think anything will. I don't think I'll ever feel 100% happy again. I might get close, but never fully there. 

How do I keep going without him? I genuinely want to know. I feel like my joy has been stolen and I won't ever get it back. I miss him so fucking much. I would do anything to get him back. I have to stop writing since I'm on lunch at work and no one likes a crying front desk person. 

Mama loves you so much, Joe Joe.