What, Exactly, Is Happiness?

Rice pudding bowl

Rice pudding bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought the  rice pudding that my husband bought me from the diner would make me happy but it just made me feel momentarily content. Twice. Now, there’s only one small portion left from the giant trough that he brought home on Sunday night. One, huge, tub of home-made rice pudding, the Reddi Whip had already melted, making it look like a floating swan on water, peaceful, gliding, making no trouble at all. A sensory satisfaction of taste.

It appeared to be a raisin and cinnamon revolution. Rice pudding with no raisins and no cinnamon? I was briefly unnerved but it was so tasty, rich, sweet and creamy that I really couldn’t complain. Tonight, the last night, I added my own raisins and cinnamon. For my tasting pleasure, now it is gone.

I need strength to feel settled tonight. I’m scared, there are just too many potential problems for too many people going on in the next three months. I’m much better when the time is NOW than weeks ahead of time but inside I know I am freaking out. Trembling as my bones quiver from the inside out, shaking so that anyone who knows me can see.

Too many people I love are sick at the same time. I am feeling at an all time low, physically and emotionally. My shoulders ache, the pain in my back still digs into me, not letting go or it moves to surprise me, to the side. Poke, Stab, Poke. Winter, does not just weigh heavily on the branches of the naked tree limbs but also on my tightened shoulders that lock in place; it takes hours for the heating pad to barely loosen them. I’ve tried the steamy hot baths, bath salts…nothing helps.

Maybe, I should just give up on Winter. This year, I was promised that I  could go to someplace warm to soothe my aching bones and muscles, and again, another lay off. No one’s fault. It’s just the way the world works these days. Trust no one. You are not safe.

Protect Yourself.

What is happiness, anyway?

It’s elusive.

A distant memory, aging photographs, some distinct thoughts of the past. Maybe it’s age or money or just a state of mind. I can’t seem to see it at the moment….

If I don’t have it, it doesn’t mean I don’t want YOU to have it, it just makes me a little sad to see those with luck, get luckier and those who are down on their luck, stay there and go deeper under the icy cold, black abyss.

My real friends understand, I don’t need to tell them I am hurting, they know. Or, if I mumble a quick “fine” or “I’m good” they will look into my eyes, the pathway to my soul and understand. THEY don’t look away. They stick with me through all days.

True Friendship.

True Friendship=Happiness

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FWF: Kellie Elmore

English: Broken Heart symbol

English: Broken Heart symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The What ifs and The Should Haves Will Eat Your Brain by John O’ Callaghan

Learn from me.  I allowed your flesh-eating amoebas steal pieces from my soul and heart as if I was no longer a person with feelings, but a mass of rusty, mechanical parts. You won the round for a number of years but not the fight, no definitely not the fight.

You played unfairly, with aggression, the intent to severely wound with a fake smile plastered on your pale face.  I meekly, crept under a colorful fall red leaf, my sense of self, like a worm stepped on in pieces, buried deep down in the tough, brown unyielding ground.

How could you be my best friend one night yet not the next? No one could help me understand, no one understood either. Pain can either kill you or make you stronger. It’s a toss-up. I won in the end. I pitied you and you loathed pity.

There was not a single thing I could have done more than I had done already. Letters and phone calls, messages. I just wanted to talk to you but your holier-than-thou attitude refused my attempts. You ignored me, forgetting about the closeness we had for years. You were mean, hateful. I started, very slowly, noticing your flaws, the discrepancies in your behavior. My conscience was clear, like a clean pane of glass that smelled like freshly cut lemons. You were self-destructing in front of everybody’s eyes.

But I did not forgive you for destroying what should have been one of the happiest days of my life, you stole that from me, like a big, bold bully snatches and stomps on a little boy’s new toy. The night I invited you to your favorite restaurant, nervous and excited; you stole my special joy from me when I told you I was pregnant and you put your head in your hands and wept. I was flabbergasted, shocked, hurt, confused. I imagined joy, “congratulations” squeals of delight. I got nothing.  No, you sat in your seat, head down, tears falling into your soup. I stopped asking what was wrong when all you would do was shake your head from side to side signalling “no.” Our friendship was over. Your cover, blown.

I used to always defend your insecurities and phobias: driving, flying, going on a boat, or a train, going in elevators, the list got longer every year. You made your husband fly on vacation, alone. You didn’t have the decency to show up at your in-laws funerals. Everybody gasped in shock and horror; there was no turning back from that. You crossed the line there, there were no excuses for that type of behavior.

Everyone knew that you were a psychologically impaired person but there are some things people do for those that they love. There were medications and therapy but you refused to go, to try to get help,  therapy was fine for “other people” but not you. You refused to try, you were too scared to go. After awhile even your husband threw up his hands and gave in. Ice water ran through your veins.

Your husband, our friend, had the grace to tell us the truth, he confessed and told us everything, You continued to lie. You changed your mind about a deal you made with your husband, yet when we tried to talk to you, you lied to our faces.There was a cruel side to you, one you tried so desperately to hide, but it would escape when you let your guard down, didn’t it?

I could see the hatred that you harbored deep inside. It came out in whiffs like a puff of smoke or perfume, I couldn’t grab hold of it but I knew, for sure, it was there. I knew something was wrong with you since the first time we met as you handled my laundry, inappropriately, crossing boundaries.You hated that I knew all your secrets. I thought I knew you, and I did, on that very first day when my instincts whispered in my ear and I told them to go away.

I should have followed my instincts on the first day we met, I knew there was something off, something strange about you but I didn’t listen. That lesson, I have learned forever. For this, I thank you.

Take Me Home

Members of the United States Navy serve the ho...

Members of the United States Navy serve the homeless at Dorothy’s Soup Kitchen in Salinas, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We had run into each other before a couple of different times, I just didn’t who she was. I saw her at the food pantry waiting in line with her kid, one day we saw each other at the soup kitchen. We knew each other, all of us. We just didn’t acknowledge each other, we kept ourselves private, looking down at our kids or in our bags of free food or me, down at my worn pink sneakers. I heard her name once but nothing else. She was so tall and skinny why I could almost see through her, she looked so frail, like a bird thats broken. What I remembered of her were her frozen green eyes that seemed like they were stuck in her head with glue, like they never moved or blinked.

I guess the only thing we had in common was we were both moms on a mission to protect our children, to protect ourselves. Months later we met at the shelter, The Home For Abused Women And Children. I had been at The Home for a month now, she was just coming in. As soon as we saw each other we nodded, she took the bed next to mine. Her daughter and my daughter looked about the same age and they hit it off,  children were great like that, they were best friends in less than five minutes.

She and I probably took a good couple of hours to speak, none of us were good at trusting but we were  friends pretty soon. Once she made up her bed, with me helping her, we started talking. Not good stuff like you see on funny television, that’s for sure, but stuff we had in common. Both of us had been in abusive relationships; I felt guilty being here but she felt proud. That was what she was like, all the time.

She made me promise to talk to her first if I was ever tempted to run away from here and go back, and I was tempted often. So, when my kid said she “missed her daddy” I would want to leave straight away but Alison always knew before I even packed. She would come over, sit me down and she would not let me leave. We would go back in time, and tell her out loud when Brian hit me so hard my head cracked open and blood was everywhere, how I  saw it on the green tile linoleum, thinking it would be hard to get out. It was kind of out of my body, why would I be thinking that?  The pain so bad I wanted to die. She reminded me of what he said he wanted to do to my daughter and what he had done with my niece and that stopped me cold.

That changed my mind back to reality and she started reminding me of why I had left him and how he was still the same monster he was when I finally got out. Then she and I would hug and I would thank her until the next time it happened and I’d like to say it never happened again but it did. Lots of times.

We stood by each other, like real friends, and we joined a job training group together so we could get jobs somewhere. We all moved to another state, changed our names and started fresh. We shared a one bedroom apartment but we made do; the girls slept in the living room, we shared the bedroom working different shifts. We had “beat the odds” they said at the shelter, we were safe, we had our own home and we were proud.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND HELP:

The hotline number is (630) 469 – 5650.
Why should you call Family Shelter Service’s hotline?
  • You want to talk about your situation with someone who understands, or
  • You want to learn more about services and how to obtain information and help.

I like knowing there is somebody I can call at any time.”
– A Victim of Domestic Abuse

#FWF Kellie Elmore

Frühlingsblumen verschiedene Krokusse

Frühlingsblumen verschiedene Krokusse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Circle of Life: Death & Rebirth

This is the time for introspection, to put things in order not just for my house, but for me. My life lesson: I have clung to old friendships far too long, they are dead, like the crumpled crisp brown leaves on the yard. Friendships where I am the only one who is trying.  You can’t force a friendship and your real friends, your true friends are always there. “The past” is a nice memory not a basis for friendship.

It is the second week of November, I look out my window and see gray skies and naked trees. There is no more sun peeking from behind blue skies, I mourn the sunshine, the flowers, the bright, orange, red, yellow leaves of the Fall that used to embrace the trees. What was once my favorite season is now seen as the precursor to the worst season, Winter.

Winter is on its way, people are dismissive and say “add layers of clothing” as they stuff themselves into scarves and hats, mittens and feel warmer but not me and not anyone who shares the chronic illness of Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Disease. Those words taunt us, they are a  joke, a cruel comedy, a farce. Nothing helps, the winter chill goes through our bones and latches on like a one huge tick, sucking blood. We are always exhausted, we have no energy, we have what seems like the flu without the fever, every day of our lives. In the winter our bones and muscles are stiff, unyielding and painful.

Many times I don’t get dressed. My nightgown becomes my party dress and my pajamas serve as my jeans and sneakers. I know when I am in a ” Fibro Flare” when I cannot wear anything, that strains against my body. My body is bloated and the jeans make angry red imprints on my stomach even though they are the right size for me. If I have to be outside, as soon as I  come home I literally rip the tight, restricting clothing off, my bra, my pants and change into loose, soft pajama bottoms and a well-worn tee-shirt. It is only then I can breathe. To people with chronic pain, Winter is a slow death, a Tragedy.

After a long, bleak winter, when the temperatures get higher and we have weeks of rain, my body and mind change. My body hurts because of the dampness and the changing weather but my heart knows that soon I will see buds springing from the ground to show off the first fashions of Spring. One day out of the corner of my eye, I see several bright, green buds pushing their way from the deep, dark earth. It is the promise of Spring fulfilled, crocuses have pushed their way above ground: Hope. Once the crocuses have sprung forth, soon we will see the burst of color dancing before our eyes.  It is a ballet I love to watch.  I never get bored. In a matter of days the forsythia bush in my back yard has sprouted brilliant, bright yellow lights, buds and I know that we are safe and loved.

One day, the sun pulls out its lazy arms and stretches, beams its beautiful smile and soars to the top of a deep blue sky. It is officially Summer, It is time to Rejoice, to take advantage of every single day that we have been given, a reprieve, from pain, from gloominess, a treat. I enjoy the summer as much as I can. Even though extreme heat is not good for chronic pain patients, it is good for my soul to look outside and see the painting of flowers and sun and hear the laughter of children riding their bicycles in the neighborhood. The sun, makes me happy, it does affect my mood. It softens the world around us, like a soft, romantic filter on an otherwise hard life. I am grateful for the sun, every single day, it is time to Celebrate with friends: joyous laughter, food, children selling lemonade, dogs running around outside, people holding hands. This would be my final act.

Plinky Prompt: Know someone who could use a pep talk?

English: Icecream, at Wikipedia meeting in Hag...

English: Icecream, at Wikipedia meeting in Hagen, Germany Deutsch: Eisbecher, beim Wikipedia-Treffen Ruhrgebiet in Hagen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • We all know someone who could use a pep talk… so write them one! See all answers
  • Best Friends
  • Dear Jessie,
    There are no words I can say that will make you feel better, I know your feelings are intense, I would never lie to you. I know how devastated, you are with the loss of your husband, Gary. You are sad, in shock in denial and angry, who wouldn’t be? Those are all valid feelings but I want you to know you do NOT have to go through them alone.
    I am here for you, as your best friend, at anytime. You know that, Jess, just pick up the phone or text me if you want company, any time day or night and I will come straight away. I know what you are going to say “you don’t want to be a bother” but you’re my best friend, you are like my sister, NOTHING could make you a bother, ever.
    I know you would do the same thing for me. Let me and our friends help you through this difficult time, all of us are a family, all of us love you and the kids.
    Believe me, being strong for your kids, as much as you adore them, is probably another burden now, I think that’s fair to say. I know you need to be strong for them when all you want to do is scream, cry or kick some walls in. Sweetie, I understand.
    I know you don’t like to ask for help but I am telling you that there is a food/housework/babysitting schedule to help you out for the first few months. We’re not asking you, all your friends WANT to do this for you, you know I will listen to whatever you have to say but expect me to come over tonight at six with dinner, some treats for the kids, strawberry ice cream AND chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, your favorite combination since you were five.
    I will stay as long as you want, you can invite me in or kick me out, everything you decide is fine. I love you, Jess, the same as you love me, we are best friends and we have always been there for each other, nothing changes.
    I’m going to leave a pair of pajamas in an overnight bag for when you want company, any hour, day or night. No, it’s not too much trouble. Are you kidding? I love sleepovers, I always did. I’ll even bring the popcorn. To me, that’s what best friends do and I know, without a shadow of a doubt you would do the same for me.
    See you later.
    Tell the kids Aunt Nikki is coming over with some surprise sweets! See you at six. Love, Me

Plinky Prompt: Simply Be Thankful For Something or Someone

  • English:

    English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone). See all answers
  • Thankful
  • I am thankful, every single day and night, for my husband, Dan. We just celebrated our 25th anniversary together, focusing on what we feel is important: Love and Good Food. We went away to a Bed and Breakfast for two nights and spent two dinners at the Culinary Institute of America. In all these years, it seems like we blended into one person. I love him and appreciate him in every way, he is my best friend and the thought of losing him brings me to tears and I panic. I try not to dwell on it. He is the one person that I feel the most comfortable with in the world.
    Being married isn’t always easy, nobody said it would be. People stop us and are amazed that we have been married for so long. One friend told me that all her friends get married for two years at the most, they get divorced, they try again. Marriage vows are not about just “trying” they are about sticking it out and working things through.
    We are NOT talking about a pair of shoes or next year’s jean style.
    We have two wonderful (adult) children, hopefully one day they too will find the husband or wife of their dreams and will treat their marriages with the same respect, friendship and love that we have for each other.

National Invisible Illness Week: September 9 – 15th

Fibromyalgia Eye

Fibromyalgia Eye (Photo credit: Vinally2010)

Who am I?  Can you see me ? Over here. The woman with the curly brown hair, green eyes, the one sitting down on the bench inside Target or the supermarket. No, I’m not lazy, I’m tired. Did I sleep well? No, but I don’t usually sleep well even though I have medication for that. Do I feel rested when I wake up, eager to take on the world. Well, no but I am older. How old? I’ll be 57 in two weeks. Well, it might not sound old to you, to me it’s ancient.

I have a childhood friend who claims she has Fibromyalglia  but refuses to see a rheumatologist. What? Yes, she sees a general doctor, one who knows about endocrinology for her thyroid.Do YOU see the point? Right, me either.  I have tried so hard to help her feel better but I’ve stopped, she obviously doesn’t want to feel better, she wants to complain.I grew up with her, no other bond, my mother remembers she’s been complaining since she was five, I remember it too.

I had to go to neurologist after I suddenly fell, on my back and test after test came out perfectly normal except for one: I had no balance. He had me walk a straight line in his office as if he was a police officer and I was a drunken driver. I zig -zagged on that line as if I had an overdose of margaritas and tequila sunrises and amaretto sours, mixed together in a huge bathtub big enough to fill a college party.

“Hmm” he said, “you have no balance” I nodded my head, up and down, ‘yes, I said, I know’ but he shrugged his shoulders and sent me away and said “I was fine.” If I was fine, why didn’t I have any balance? “Oh, it’s probably your Fibromyalgia…”he said. I’ve found now that when doctors don’t know what you have and they know you have Fibromyalgia that’s the answer they give. Nobody wants to take the time to figure it out, they don’t care, half of them don’t believe in the diagnosis anyway; since we don’t have many answers let’s all lump the various symptoms together toss them into a bag and label them Fibromyalgia. That’s easy.

What’s not easy is not having a cure and there really no potential in site. I happen to have a wonderful rheumatologist in the city and he is not only incredibly knowledgeable, he also really cares and that is an amazing combination and very hard to find. I don’t have as much pain as others but I have no energy. I can do one or two errands depending on the day and I never know in advance. It’s hard to make plans. Close friends understand, others don’t, want to know who your true friends are? Oh, it’s not hard at all.

I have a handicapped parking sticker for my county, you should see the dirty looks I get sometimes when I try to get out of the car. People judge on no information, they don’t ask, they immediately judge. They don’t notice the pain in my eyes from sitting in my car trying to stand up? No. So they notice the pain in the back of my eyes so I don’t cry out?  I don’t look “sick” is that it? That’s what I thought.Do not judge me or my handicapped sticker, I don’t judge you.

There it is, I don’t look sick therefore I must not be sick? Wrong. If my legs were in casts or my arms and shoulders too perhaps you would understand, but just because my pain is in the inside doesn’t mean I’m not sick. Sometimes, I wish I could show you my pain, physically. because emotionally, you’ve already done your very best to make me feel like worse than I already do. Maybe you could stick my whole body in plaster, maybe then you would understand.

In Between Love and Loss

Love Hands

Love Hands (Photo credit: Luvinshots)

Love is not easy, but it is essential. Why do we all go on with our lives? Day after day shuffling our feet, not smiling sometimes for weeks or months, nothing to look forward to, nothing special on the horizon? With so much misery, disease, tragedy, war, incurable illnesses why do we accept it?  It comes down to one thing and one thing only: Love. You don’t need a crowd of people to love you, it can be one person or one quirky brown dog, or a petulant cat, maybe a goldfish named Frank, or wildflowers in a garden. We live for love. That is the ultimate dream and if you love one friend and the person loves you back you are incredibly lucky. Everything counts.

Love keeps us going when we want to give up, there’s a thread of love that inspired this blog from my friends. There is love between a group of friends and we have never met, there is a closeness, whose hearts and souls connected on a higher level. We may have originally gotten to know each other by our chronic illnesses, auto-immune diseases or fibromyalgia but that is the last thing we talk about now. If we lived closer to one another, they would be my safe place, my soul sisters.  We offer peace, love and kindness to each other, there is no judgment, just support.

I’m not unrealistic I know love isn’t always about happiness, when you love someone so much and they die or move away or just because they grow up and relationships change. Nobody tells you that when you are pregnant, that love also hurts, that love is also loss. Even if they told you, you wouldn’t believe them anyway. When you love your children so much and they walk away as strong, independent adults you are very proud but sometimes, if you are honest, it really hurts. Is it rational? No. It’s purely emotional.

I respect and admire both my children. But, part of love brings with it a searing unavoidable pain and there is nothing you can do about it. Without pain, we wouldn’t know how wonderful love really is.  The thread of love, twists and changes, every single day and night. You can’t control it, you can only change yourself and how you deal with the changes, like the waves of a turbulent ocean, strong, beautiful, unpredictable. Unconditional love is for children, it never ends, and I’m sure our children will not understand until they have grown up children of their own.

One day you are holding their hands to cross the street, trading toy cars or having a tea party, watching a shiny red fire truck, or playing dress-up and the next day, or so it seems, they are adults. They are adults you are proud of and cherish but they have their own lives now, and you are not the biggest part of it.  “Home” is someplace different now and just because they have a week off doesn’t mean they want to see you. First it’s a shock, then it’s a change but you get used to everything. This was never about guilt. I don’t want you to change for “the next time.”  I wanted you to let it go. Growing up sometimes means you can’t always have the last word and sometimes it means letting things go, if not for you, than for me.

“End of conversation. No new conversation.”

I love you, unconditionally with all my heart

Matchbox Toy Cars

Matchbox Toy Cars (Photo credit: sarflondondunc)

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Feeling Like Crap And Other Such Novel Events

Frozen Yogurt with Banana and Blueberries

Frozen Yogurt with Banana and Blueberries (Photo credit: planetc1)

An ordinary day, three loads of laundry,

Clearing my throat incessantly,

constant coughing,

a headache that won’t go away, top and forehead

swollen glands.

My dog, barking, throwing up water, three times.

Me, internal and external fatigue, Fibromyalgia or taking care of my sick child, combination probably.

Hard to move one muscle, I will it to move, it does not listen.

I call the far side of my bed “the office” too exhausted to get up, shuffle.

Imagining what it must be like to have so much money that money doesn’t even matter,

Can’t.

Worrying about our Mom getting older, all of us getting older.

Not driving as much. Reality. Stay in the moment.

Don’t meet worry half-way.

Sit. Listen. Quiet.

Old friends become past friends for me. Finally.

Goodbye you-know-who, I’ve cut the chain, I can sail away.

I value myself more, now.

We had great times but that was thirty years ago.

Friendships need to move forward, together.

What is there to miss when you had nothing for so long?

Happy 25th ANNIVERSARY to my husband and to me in October.

a lovely accomplishment, not always easy.

Life is work, kids, work is life.

Plain, unsweetened frozen yogurt with fruit.

slides down my aching throat with chilling ease.

A beautiful summer day.

An ordinary day...

An ordinary day… (Photo credit: ` TheDreamSky)

Playing ball with my dog, Lexi, at the park.

We are both exhausted now, lying together on the bed.

Her long, red body, snoring, my pale body tossing and turning.

Everything feels as right as it can, for this moment, this day.

There are no promises and certainly no guarantees.

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Yellow Magic Madness #29 Spinning Yellow, Out Of Control

Wheel

Wheel (Photo credit: Today is a good day)

I am a very

spiritual person and so I pray. Tonight, my oldest friend is in the ICU, his kidneys have failed him. We were born one day apart, he never let me forget that I was older by one day. Our mothers met in the maternity ward in our old local hospital many years ago. Tonight he is fighting for his life. Yellow magic, Yellow light, The joy of Yellow, the Hope.

My mind is spinning out of control, like a misguided ferris wheel on the wrong speed, it’s going too fast. He went through a bad time physically last year. I feel like I am living in a surreal world. Right now, all I think about, is him. I’m scared and sad and yes, a little angry too. Please don’t die, please. You had a lonely life, but you have us, your friends. Don’t give up. I am begging you.

10:30 PM : My phone rings, I don’t recognize the number, the voice sounds muffled, I hear loud BEEP- -BEEP sounds every few seconds. My friend has called me, I am shocked, happy, relieved, confused. We talk for only a few minutes, I tell him that “I love him, that all his friends do” he becomes emotional; I was so grateful to hear his voice. Let him make it through this night, and another….just one slow day, after another. Breathe…Breathe, Breathe.

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