Kellie Elmore, FWF

Lady wisdom (2)

Lady wisdom (2) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t understand it then, but I understand it now…

…though I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take a very long time. Truly, it took almost my entire life to learn this lesson that I so desperately needed to learn. I guess you get small signs at first, maybe you trip you have a pebble in your shoe,a week later you trip over a rock. You, again, think it’s you being clumsy. Still, it’s a coincidence, you barely notice and of course you’ve always been clumsy.

A week goes by and during a heavy rainfall a few small branches from a tree break off and land on the ground but you are not looking so you fall and stumble on them and wind up, wet with sore ankle. Turns out that your ankle was fractured and it has to be in a cast for 4-6 weeks.

Finally you start thinking, what on earth is going on?

What is happening? There is a message waiting for you from whatever God, Spirit, Nature or Force that you Believe in. I never used to see the signs to change my patterns when I was younger, maybe I was too self-absorbed but now in mid-life I pay attention to what the Universe has to tell me and I am grateful.

I used to think everybody acted like me because I was the only person I really knew. My standards were high, different, my style was individual, the friends I connected with were similar; but others weren’t. Some of their styles like empathy and compassion are the same but how they displayed it or didn’t was very different from me.

It’s very hard to get used to, very hard. So you need to trust, trust your instincts and know in your heart that even though D. or C. or M. may love you, they can’t show it to you in the way you need to hear it. It isn’t that they are being obtuse or stubborn it is not something they can do, certainly not easily if at all.

Is that a deal breaker? It used to be, for me. Does it have to be? Absolutely not. Does that mean you need to break up a friendship? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. If you feel you are giving ALL the time and not getting anything back, maybe. No friendship can sustain 100 percent on one person doing ALL the work.

But if you know in your heart that if you called said person at 3AM and desperately needing them and you know without a doubt that they wouldn’t hesitate getting dressed to come to you, you should know better.

It’s the measure of Love.

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Whoever Said “Facebook Friends Aren’t Real” Is One Big, Stupid Idiot.

An American version of a fruitcake which conta...

An American version of a fruitcake which contains both fruit and nuts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The holiday season is winding down and I’ve read blogs about fruitcake, go ahead, start the jokes… Pass them around like some people did (not me, kids) like a joint or bottle of beer when they were in college. I’ve heard it all, all the silly jokes how nobody likes fruitcake, and everything is artificial, ad nauseam.  My father, when he was alive, ate fruitcake joyfully and loved it; he passed that gene on to me.

I love fruitcake, I honestly do. For years I begged people if they had received fruitcake as gifts NOT to throw them out because I would happily take it off their snobby shoulders. Funny, in all that time, nobody offered me their unwanted fruitcake. Nobody, until recently, one of my Facebook Friends, Sarita, saw me talking about fruitcake and out of nowhere she offered to send me a mini fruitcake that was baking in her oven.

Sarita, is one of my group of Facebook Friends that share a common and unyielding illness. We all seem to have some sort of chronic pain disease, in my case, Fibromyalgia. Believe me, it is not limited to Fibromyalgia (Fibromyalgia generally doesn’t work alone) but comes with many other ailments. I also have an auto-immune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and some of my friends share that as well. Others have different, chronic pain but we are connected, perhaps not in person since we live in different places but definitely in our hearts.

When I told my (adult) children that my friend on Facebook was sending me a mini-fruitcake across the country they looked at me with those critical eyes, and the “what are you crazy” stare? “Mom, they said slowly in single syllables, you. don’t. even. know. her. she. could. be. send.ing. you. An.thrax.” I had never heard a more ridiculous thing in my life. Of course I knew her, I have known her for years, we’re friends, we are here for each other, we support each other.  The fact that Sarita was a “stranger” NEVER ONCE crossed my mind because Sarita was my friend and I was hers.

“So, my observant 19-year-old daughter said,  you wouldn’t mind if I was corresponding with some random man on the internet and he baked me some cookies and sent them to me and I wanted to eat them? Well, now that was indeed different, I said. I have talked to Sarita on the phone several times, we’ve been in touch with each other for years and I am not 19 and Sarita is certainly not some stranger. However, my daughter was right, I would not feel comfortable with her taking candy from strangers but I hardly see it as the same situation.

Facebook Friends for those of us with common limitations are not only useful to us but sometimes life-saving, Who knows better what it feels like to be in a Fibro Flare than another Fibro patient? I don’t like to complain to my family or my friends at home because frankly, they just don’t get it. How could they? They don’t have the illness. I’m not saying they lack empathy (most lack it a few don’t) but my Facebook Friends understand what I feel, completely every single day.

To them, I say THANK YOU, for the love and support and the ongoing kindness. We are all here for each other and that means a lot. I need to take a break now, for some more fruit cake and with it some pumpkin bread as well. What did you say about my Facebook Friends? Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s okay, we are all wrong sometimes……May God or Spirit or Angels Bless these special people in my Life. They are in my life for a reason.

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I am sick, I am not sick, I am

Pain #TP637

Pain #TP637 (Photo credit: ConnectIrmeli)

I am not sick. I am. I am sick if I feel pain, pain hurts. Sick is pain, not bumping up against walls and tremors. So, I am not sick. Not now. Not yet. You did hear me, right? I am not sick. What happens when invisible illness become visible? When a pink cane accompanies me everywhere? I am not invisible anymore. People see me and give it a thought, “oh, there’s something wrong with HER, I wonder what it is.”

I think the same thing, flatly, without terror, at least today. What IS wrong with me. I have shut down for the most part and if I could stay in bed in my white-flowered pajamas, thin and comfortable, I would do that all day and night. I can’t. My kids are home today for a visit and as most parents know, I would do anything not to scare them or put them through any unnecessary concern.

I am unbalanced, imbalanced. I cannot walk a straight line. My neurologist was cavalier the first time he saw this, in fact he ignored it. Why would he ignore something as strange as that? Maybe because he ran over his 8 minute limit.  I don’t like him. I don’t like a doctor who does not acknowledge emotion, who pretends it is not there. I need to switch. He didn’t want to give me this second MRI but my” huggable rheumatologist” insisted. He is a doctor I respect. A person that you can be proud to call your doctor.

I need a favor, I have asked a friend and she can’t do it. I have asked another friend and I haven’t heard back. I hate asking for favors. Do I ask again or just call a cab? I’m too tired to even make this decision. My room is disgustingly disorganized and I don’t have the energy to clean it but I will try for ten minutes. There is a banana bread in the oven baking for my son for his 24 hour visit, I would have crawled to make that for him, I had to lean on counters but I did it. I just hope I don’t burn it since I am lying down upstairs.

I’m getting very tired. Tired of tests, tired of illnesses, tired of sickness upon sickness piling up on me. This blog is the friend I can always talk to. I do not tell my mother half of what is going on because I don’t want her to worry. Here, I can say anything, I am not seeking pity, just a few minutes of peace of mind. It generally doesn’t work but I give it a try. I have nothing to lose. I cannot hide because I am here, just because I don’t complain does not mean I don’t hurt.

photograph credit to the noted photographer above.

no rights.

Talking To Myself Upside Down

Im upside down

Im upside down (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight there is no one to talk to, no one who cares enough, who knows me well enough and understands my past pain.  Sure, there are people I could call but it’s not the same. I want someone to sit next to me on the couch like my old best friend, because she understands and knows the real me. She knows all the family dynamics as I know hers. Why does she insist on disappearing like she does? Why can’t I just forget her altogether? I’ve teetered on the edge for years now.

Today, I think back to when we were younger. Back in the old days when we were both single and desperately wanted to get married but independent, happy, working together. Going to the Village after work, seeing movies, drinking strong coffee, eating good street food. Coming home and talking for hours more. I remember talking to you while the mice ran over my feet in that scary store front apartment.

I was mugged one night, after being out late with you and the next night I asked if you would walk me home; you walked me home, my friend, without hesitation.You said you would do it every night, forever, until I was comfortable and I know you would have. I had asked my sister before you, she automatically said “no.”You were always there for me and I was there for you. I know your secrets, Denise, some your husband don’t know and you know mine. We had a special friendship. Remember when we were pregnant with our first kids in the swimming pool at my mom and dad’s? That has to be one of the happiest memories of my life.

Many, many years ago when you had your impacted wisdom teeth out, you actually let ME go with you and come back and you let me tuck you into bed and make you a milk shake. This for you, was utter trust and love. I’m sure you didn’t like having anyone help you. You let me and I felt honored and proud.

We are both mothers now, we each have two children, both not far apart in age. I thought for sure your second child would be a girl, how could it not be? I know a part of you is  probably emotionally damaged but I know I am your best friend and down deep you are mine. You make no effort and since its been so long I don’t expect it and I don’t even want to start another time to make an effort. It is too painful. I’ve told you this before, when we are together we sync so well back into best friends that it makes me miss you more when we part and I cry.

So, instead, I am talking to myself, upside down. I’ve tried so many times to connect with you, I’d probably see you more if you lived in France. You live an hour and a half away and your relatives live about 25 minutes from me. You will always be my best friend in my heart but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss what we had, when we were young. In spite of it all, I miss you, I love you, that will never change but even after all these years, it truly hurts. I wish it didn’t.

For Denise F.

 

Carry on Tuesday: I have wiped the slate clean

Description unavailable

Description unavailable (Photo credit: wakingphotolife:)

There was so much anger and resentment in my past, in my youth, it piled up like a bloody automobile accident on an icy winter day. Black ice that you can’t even see, like feelings that you didn’t know you still had. They snuck up from deep inside me and burst, like popped balloons. Years and years of self-teaching and negotiating and drawing lines and speaking up and creating boundaries had finally come. There had been teachers and books and confrontation to arrive at this peaceful place now, a place of breathing and thinking, forgiving and living in the present. It took a lot of work but I was proud of myself, finally.

I had wiped the slate clean and all the baggage of my past was behind me. However, I look across at you, my lover of five years and I fear it is still in you. I begged you for years to come to therapy with me, to work on our relationship but you refused. Does it mean anything to you that I have done all this work for our relationship? You shake your head back and forth and say in a low tone: “Not really.” You scratch your beard and stroke it, a habit that I have come to detest. I shudder from the cold temperatures in the room and in your answer which is void of emotions. You do not like change, I know, why would you like change; you haven’t noticed anything was wrong to begin with. I sigh deeply. I don’t know what to do, how to respond to you, you are a creature of habit and you annoy me now, this highly predictable presence in MY artist’s cottage. I don’t know if you belong here anymore, I mutter that under my breath but you don’t listen to me, even if I had shouted it out loud. You never listen to me, do you? You just hear what you want to hear, as if you were a five-year old boy, plugging his ears with his fingers and screeching some vile noises, getting louder and louder by the minute. I want to slap you but I have to control myself because that would be getting nowhere and I abhor physical violence in every form. Look what you have almost made me think of doing!!

I get up from our scratched wooden kitchen table, I feel sick to my stomach and head to the sink and heave into it, my long brown hair falling far into the sink. I am trying to vomit the destruction out of my body but nothing comes out. I want to look at the decay, describe it, name it, show it, but I can’t. I can’t even do that right. Nothing comes out of my body except the decaying dry heaves of a woman starting to become undone. No, I will not let myself do this. I stop myself and breathe. Slowly.

I lay on the sofa, with a red and blue crocheted blanket tucked around me that my mom made for me years ago. I’m tired, confused and feel very much alone. I don’t know what to do right now. I know in my heart and deep inside me, just one thing, we need to separate.  I need to be free, he is stifling me and I feel I can’t breathe anymore. “He had” no idea, he will wail, I’m sure, when I would later say this a mere week later. But, it was in the room with us for a very long time. He just wasn’t paying attention.

Shifty-Eyed Evader or Unblinking Intimidator?

eye 172/365

Image by attila acs via Flickr

I See Your Soul

No Shifty-Eyed Evader here and while I don’t think I am an Unblinking Intimidator I am definitely much closer on that scale. I’d give myself at least an 85 percent of looking into people’s souls through their eyes, maybe 100 percent. If you are a Shifty-Eyed Evader, I won’t stay long enough to make eye contact. Eyes are so important to me. Shifty-Eyed Evader? You don’t stand a chance with me. I read a lot from people’s eyes, I am intuitive and I get a sense of who you are FROM your eyes. If you don’t look directly at me? I will be gone faster than you can even blink, shifty-eyed or not.

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Best Friends – Chronic Babe Style

holding hands - age 10, and age 8

Image via Wikipedia

The best friends in my life have common traits: warmth, kindness and the gift of caring deeply. They are all people who I can rely on without a single doubt; that is something very important to me. Some people have a big family to fill these roles; I have my friends.

I met one friend when our children were six, they are now eighteen. Two years ago, in the dairy aisle between the orange juice and yogurt of our local store, I took a chance and impulsively asked her if she would like to go for coffee one day.  I didn’t have to worry, she said she “would absolutely love to” with a big goofy grin. Since that day we have seen each other at least once a week at our favorite diner, we talk daily and we e-mail. When she thinks I look wan and tired, she tells me to sit, when she thinks I am not feeling well enough SHE begs off and reschedules.

I’ve also had a best friend for thirty-five years, we met at work after I graduated college. We’ve been through so much together that our friendship is practically tenured. We have gone without talking for months on end, if not years because she disappears emotionally.  I tried to break up with her but when I thought of the word ‘best friend,’ I saw her sheepish face and her emotional handicaps. I don’t understand why she does it and neither does she but I accept it and we work at our friendship. No-one said friendships are always easy.

I was two when my other friend was born and we were inseparable for the first eight years of our lives. We were childhood friends, bound together by foundation, emotional glue.  We grew apart, with different interests and different locations yet there was never a birthday when we didn’t send each other a card. I got married and had kids and lived in Boston, she had Springsteen tickets and a new boyfriend. Even though we may not see each other for years there is an emotional connection and joy built into our foundation, like red bricks for a building. If I needed her, she would be there for me in one second, no questions asked and I would do the same for her.

I have best friends on line who support me and whom I support in our chronic pain journeys; we give each other all that we can and it is always enough. Saying that you understand, you can relate, is a gift that we inherently have. Everyone is equal here and safe. There is one person I consider a ‘best friend that I have not yet met.’ I trust her advice, love her honesty, intelligence and wit not to mention our shared love of everything sweet. I have a friend on-line that I call my ‘twin’, another that I call ‘my little sister’ and one I refer to as ‘the mother hen.’ There is a friend on another coast that I would go to if she gave a seminar, not thinking twice that I had never met her in person. These friends on-line are important in my life; we send each other messages of support, and soft, gentle hugs that you feel in your heart and they cause no pain.

These women are in my home with me on my laptop, helping me when I am down, congratulating me when I feel better, always available for a question. We are a group of people with a common thread of pain, sharing support, advice and friendship. We understand what others are going through because we are there ourselves. We are not just friends; we are a circle of women, connected; another way of saying family.

Kaddish, In My Own Way

It’s the night before New Year’s Eve; almost 8 years ago plus a night that my father was proclaimed dead at 10:20 pm. In virtually 25 hours from now. I thought, perhaps, that I should write tomorrow instead of tonight, but I’ve learned the hard way that when you want to write just do it, because otherwise the thoughts and feelings will not be able to be resurrected. Funny word to use, resurrected. If only.

I miss my dad more than anyone will know. I miss his gentleness, his soft hands, his blue-gray eyes and his always reassuring smile. I miss him telling me “not to worry” and that it does get better with age. I miss having in my life and in my children’s lives.  More importantly, I miss him in my mother’s life because what she is without him, is not someone I really know.

I remember a time when my father was very depressed, clinically depressed and my mother became nasty, and angry and also very depressed.  I remember saying at the time that I felt “like I had lost my father and my mother.”  It wasn’t far from the truth and I’m sure not uncommon. But it was incredibly painful to be a child mourning two strangers, two parents.

I wrote earlier how I didn’t know my mother anymore; her nastiness, bitterness, anger.  I recognize this time of year for her, of course,  but I also do not know this woman I call “Mom.”  A once-gracious,  charming, likable and happy woman, that still can charm any stranger she meets; but, now, also a woman who holds the pettiest of grudges, all the time, and for all time.

My father was the ying to her yang, he was the soothing, gentle part of her that we knew and loved. Without him smoothing out the ripples, there would have been many more fights and disagreements, as they are now. I knew he played the game all along, but apparently my mother never knew that he listened to both sides of stories and adapted to each one, in order to have peace in the family.

There is a significant hole in my heart and soul that nothing can replace.  I miss my dad, because once you lose a parent, you are never, ever the same.  Not ever.  Maybe because my dad and I were so alike that missing him is so much harder for me. I’ve often said that he was the one that understood me, that could read me like a book, that we could know each others  thoughts or feelings in a second’s glance. He is not here anymore, nor will he ever be but sometimes I can see him in the actions and deeds of my son. He lives on in my son, his gentleness, his stubbornness, his capacity to love, his ability to read me as if I were made of glass.

My father was no saint. There were a lot of things he did that I did not understand or like. No one is perfect, no-one is expected to be. The reality of all this is while I mourn for my father, I am also mourning for a  mother who has become a stranger to me. I say the prayer for the dead, Kaddish, in my own way. I remember my father, I remember how much he meant to me and I give thanks for having him in my life for as long as I did. There are some people who never have had a dad in their lives, much less a good dad.

I pray that my mother will try and come back to who she was, at least with me. I hope that she can see that how she is acting is not doing her any good; only harm. So when I say good-bye to my dad tomorrow at 10:20 pm, I would love, at the same time, to be saying “hello” to my mother, a loving mother whom I seemed to have lost.