Archive for March, 2011

28 March, 2011

An Open Letter to OCD

*Warning: Language Advisory*

Though I have the mouth of a sailor in real life, I seldom curse here. This is different. If you’re offended by four letter words, best skip it. But honestly? Sometimes you just need to let loose and talk about how you really feel. When it comes to this? I have strong feelings.

An Open Letter to OCD

Dear Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,

We’ve had a long relationship, you and I. You came into my life before I was old enough to understand what you were, and you’ve been here ever since. I’m not sure who told you that you were allowed to pitch a tent in my head and camp out, but you did it.

Even if I cut you some slack and say that you didn’t exist before my earliest memory of you, that still leaves eighteen years that you’ve been a recurrent uninvited guest in my life.

And apparently, you aren’t ever going away.

That means that we have about seventy more years, if I’m being optimistic, to spend with one another. And seventy years is a long time for two beings to exist in the same space without being completely honest with one another. Complete honesty is important in any relationship, don’t you think?

Wait… you don’t think that. You spend every day lying to me and planting thoughts and images in my head that aren’t true. You don’t value honesty. Manipulation is your game. I forgot. See, I don’t play that way. So regardless of how YOU prefer to handle things, I think it’s time for a little come-to-Jesus discussion between the two of us. It’s high time that I told you what I really think.

I think you suck.

In the words of my best friend, you suck big, hairy donkey balls. And you blow goats. And as far as I’m concerned, you can go to hell in a hand basket while fucking yourself.

There, I said it. Now don’t you feel better, knowing how I really feel?

But I’m not quite done.

What you do to me is bad enough. You come into my life and bring your friends… your panic attacks and your depression and your sensory processing disorder. You do your damnedest to render me non-functional. You have, at times, succeeded. I’ll give you that. You took years from me – my teenage years, when I was 15, 16, 17… afraid of my own shadow because the pictures you put in my head were terrifying and I had no idea what they were. I curled up on my bed and cried, consumed with terror. You made me hide in the corner and want to suck my thumb. You made me feel alone and crazy.

Oh, you were a sneaky bastard. Did you think I wouldn’t figure it out, eventually? Did you think I’d just accept it? That I’d spend the rest of my life as your pawn, ordering magazines and vacuuming in straight lines to prevent car crashes and unknown disasters?

I suppose you did. I did too, for a long time. You robbed me of so much joy. You made me afraid of people. You made me afraid of myself. You sat back and watched, while I scrubbed the skin off my hands. You told me I’d get sick. You told me that if I just kept scrubbing, I’d feel better.

You tried to rob me of my faith. You made me afraid of church, planting images of armageddon in my mind and telling me that I needed to ritualize every time I committed a perceived sin.

You robbed me of my friendships. At least, of some of them. But you know, I have to thank you for that one. Because I learned, along the way, which of my friends would stick by me, even when I was losing my mind. Now, the friends I have are the ones worth keeping. So those friends you took? You can keep them. I don’t need them anyway.

You try to rob me of my education. You force me to check my papers and make me sick with anxiety over exams. You make it hell for me to learn, as I have to re-read sentences. You send me panic attacks in the middle of class. You embarrass me, as you make me repeat words over and over again. But I suppose, at least, that helps me learn Russian better. There’s that.

Still, you’re nothing but a fucking thief.

And while all of that is horrible, the pain and suffering you put me through, what’s worse is what I’ve seen you do to those I support.

Did you know that? I suppose you must. You see me every day, and I see them. I’m not the kind to just lie down and take your bullshit. I’m an advocate. All those other people you visit? We’re fighting you. But it’s hard as hell, and I’ve watched you do things to do them that make me feel helpless.

I’ve watched you steal their dreams. I’ve watched you steal the little moments from them, making parenthood into a nightmare because you tell them they might hurt their children. Making home ownership a trial because you tell them they can’t throw anything away. You take their money, as they pay for storage facilities to house the boxes you tell them they HAVE to keep. As they pay for the medications and treatment and doctor bills. You cackle with joy every time a medication doesn’t work. Their desperation – my desperation – to find relief feeds you. And each time a treatment option fails, you get a little stronger hold.

I’ve watched you zap their relationships with their friends and families – these people I care about. You tell them to isolate. You tell them it’s just safer that way. You try to take their lives…

You know, I watched you very nearly succeed in killing someone I love. At making a life that was so miserable, so filled with fear and dread and pain and pictures that wouldn’t go away, that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep living that life at all. And for that alone, I would hate you, you cowardly son-of-a-bitch. You never show yourself, but you wield the power to destroy lives? To take people from us? To take someone I love from me?

I watched, helpless, as you destroyed the relationship I had with the first man I ever truly loved. As you ate away at me and at him, and planted doubt in our minds, and built a wall between us. You, OCD, succeeded in tearing apart a bond that was strong. You broke our connection. You stole my love from me, almost forever. You make me fucking sick. I don’t have enough words to describe the hatred that bubbles in my chest when I think of you and what you’ve tried to do.

But you didn’t really get it, you know. Oh, you killed the relationship. But you didn’t take my love for him. You didn’t take my capacity to love. You certainly didn’t kill me.

And for all that you’ve done, I’ve learned from you. How to be strong. How to be stubborn. How to keep fighting. You taught me these lessons, and I learned them the hard way. These lessons are the ones that saved me later, when other demons and monsters entered my life – some real, some made up in my own mind. You taught me how to survive.

You’ve made me meticulous. You’ve made me serious. And I’ve learned to use these things. That education you try to steal from me? I get it in spite of you. Because I’m damn good at what I do. Because the need you’ve programmed into my head to be good at everything I do prevailed over the fear that I might fail. And the fear of failure ensures that I work hard.

And of all the things you took and tried to take – you never managed to steal my hope. You buried it at times, you and your friends, under panic and depression. Under despair and terror. But you never took it from me. It’s still there. Along with my laughter and my capacity to find humor in even… in even you.

Everything you’ve done to me has made me stronger. Everything you’ve done to those I love has made me hate you enough to fight you with every ounce of that strength you so carefully built in me. And now, you filthy fucking obsessive-compulsive monster, I am stronger than you.

So come on. Give it your best. Show me terrible pictures. Make me feel like I need to cleanse and wash and ritualize and count. Give me your panic attacks that steal my breath and make my heart race. Show me dread. Try, you just try, to take something else from me. Because you know, you might be winning the battle right now, but I guaran-fucking-tee you – you won’t win this war.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to let you rule my life. And you know, once I get something in my mind… I can be just a little obsessive. I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that.

Sincerely,
Bobbi

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27 March, 2011

The Bad Auntie

Last night, I babysat the Chaos children.

At least, that’s what was supposed to happen. I was there, in the house. I watched them. I didn’t let them kill one another. I fed them. I diapered them. I put them to bed.

Did I take care of them?

I’m not sure.

Last night, I wasn’t a very good babysitter. I wasn’t a very good aunt.

It started well enough. The Munchkin Girl ran to greet me, and smothered me with hugs. She knocked me over and climbed on top of me, using me as her personal jungle gym and giggling wildly when I tickled her stomach. For the first time I can remember, when Kelly and the Computer Guru left, she just said “bye!” and went back to clinging to my legs as I tried to start dinner.

The Monkey Boy was more upset over mommy and daddy leaving, until he found out that I was making macaroni and cheese. He then hopped back up the stairs to play his computer game, periodically shouting down “Bobbi…Bobbi….BOBBI…. you need to make macaroni for dinner, okay?”

So I did. And things were okay right up until dinner. As the macaroni timer beeped, I received an e-mail.

I shouldn’t have read it. I knew when I got it that it wasn’t going to be good. Call it a sixth sense. I just knew that the contents of that e-mail were going to change my evening. But I read it anyway.

The news was bad.  A friend of mine – someone I care for very much – had tried to get in touch with me the previous evening. I was out, and the message didn’t seem urgent, so I didn’t think to worry about responding briefly. I assumed that we’d get in contact at some point the next day. What I didn’t know then was that this friend was considering self-harm, hoping maybe to put an end to things. I didn’t know that my friend would go through with any plans like that. If I had, I certainly would have responded differently.

My friend was okay, but disappointed about having survived the evening. My friend was upset with me.

And me? I found myself in a house that wasn’t my own – the sole care provider for two blissfully clueless children – and having a small breakdown.

Anger. Anger that it had happened. Anger that I hadn’t seen it coming. Anger that promises were broken. Frustration. Guilt. Sadness. Tears. Fear.

I launched into solution mode, but my hands shook so badly I could barely hold the phone. I was consumed with thoughts of “what if…”

Meanwhile, the Monkey Boy ate his macaroni and tried to tell me something about digestion. Munch spit milk all over the table. She dumped macaroni on the floor. Monkey told me, “Bobbi…Bobbi…Bobbi…BOBBI BOBBI BOBBI…. *Munch dropped her macaroni on the floor.”

She probably could have hurled the macaroni at me, and I wouldn’t have noticed. I was starting the barrage of phone calls I would make in the next hour. Text messages to my friend, who wanted nothing to do with me. Calls to our mutual friends – unable to form complete sentences on the phone as I explained the situation. Calls that felt like betrayals, sharing secrets, trying to make sure that the people who needed to know what was happening knew what was happening.

“Bobbi…Bobbi…BOBBI! I’m full.”

“Okay. Stop eating then.”

It went on for awhile. I let the Munch out of her high chair. Monkey called down from upstairs, “Bobbi…Bobbi…BOBBI…I have an idea… let’s go outside!”

I told him fine. We’d go outside. He had to find his shoes. And his sister’s shoes. And put them on.

“But Bobbi…Bobbi… we’re not wearing shoes. We’re wearing sandals.”

And then, in my fear and frustration and anger, I snapped. I turned, and shouted, “I don’t care WHAT you wear. Just FIND your shoes and put them on!”

I immediately felt guilty.

Outside, it wasn’t much better. The Monkey Boy has a new obsession with sticks. He plays with them perilously close to Munch. My nerves were already fried, and I felt like I spent the entire time barking commands.

“DON’T play so close to your sister!”

“LEAVE HER ALONE!”

“IF YOU TOUCH YOUR SISTER WITH THAT STICK, I’M GOING TO TAKE IT AWAY.”

Finally resorting to the kind of commands I use with The Cooper Puppy.

“DROP IT!”

It got dark. We went inside. I bathed the Munch and put her to bed. And then I found the Monkey playing in his room. Watching him, I felt waves of guilt. My anger and fear at a situation that had nothing to do with him had led me to behave badly. Where I’m usually patient, innovative, and even-tempered with the children, I was short-sighted and short-fused.

And the kid really hadn’t done anything.

In fact, compared to some nights, he was an angel.

So I cried. And then I apologized.

“I’m sorry I was angry earlier. It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I know. I was just trying to *unintelligible something about buzz lightyear, I think*”
“I know. Bobbi was just upset and she was naughty because of it.”
“Why you upset?”

Why? So many reasons. None of which a four-year-old should understand.

“Well, my friend is really sick. And that made me sad.”
“Oh. Why is your friend sick?”

I wish I knew. If I did, I could be more help. If I knew why, I could take away that pain.

“I don’t know Monkey. Sometimes people just get sick. You wanna go brush your teeth now?”

The teeth were brushed. Hugs were given. We read a book about the body and Monkey explained to me the intricacies of how germs work. I told him I loved him and put him to bed.

In the long run, he probably won’t remember this night. He’s more likely to remember the fun we’ve had. He won’t ever know how bad I feel about losing my temper with him. He’s probably already forgiven me.

I haven’t.

Did I take care of the children last night?

I’m not sure. But in a lot of ways, they took care of me – with hugs and kisses and sticky fingers, reminding me that there’s always hope.

Last night, I was a bad auntie. But we survived it. And maybe today will be better for all of us.

*Bobs

26 March, 2011

Saturday Seven: Food to Die For

saturday7-2011-03-26-14-28.jpg

List the foods you’d want served at your last meal.

So apparently, I’ve been slated to die. It might have something to do with all of the blood loss that came out of my ingenious strategy for dealing with too much Russian homework. The good news is, I get to choose the foods for my last meal. Seven foods – my favorite seven foods in the world. (I’m hoping that this slated-to-die thing comes equipped with an extra-large stomach capacity.)

  1. Pepper-crusted prime rib, cooked medium, with an au jus for dipping. The best I’ve ever had comes from a place called The Apple House in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It’s so tender, you can cut it with a fork. And then it melts in your mouth. And then you die a little. Hey… maybe that’s why I’m dying. You give me all of these foods at once, and I’m bound to go.
  2. Pepperoni Pizza from Village Inn Pizza Parlor. Best. Pizza. Ever. I haven’t had it in four years, since my last trip back to North Carolina. But if I’m dying, by God, I want my Village Inn.
  3. Macaroni and Cheese, made with cheez-whiz. Macaroni is my ultimate comfort food. My grandmother used to make it every Friday night when we’d go to her house for supper. When I first got braces and couldn’t chew anything, I’d go next door to grandmother and ask her to make me a pot of macaroni, because you don’t have to chew it. When I’m hormonal and craving dairy, macaroni is the bomb. When I’m sad… you get the idea. If I’m going to be dying, I’ll need the comfort of my macaroni and cheese. Made with cheez-whiz. Because I hate Velveeta and Easy Mac.
  4. Dave’s Alfredo. Dave is my best friend Kelly’s husband, a.k.a. the Computer Guru over at Dances With Chaos. Dave makes THE BEST Alfredo sauce. Ever. The promise of Alfredo is enough to guarantee my arrival at the House of Chaos in 15 minutes or fewer. It’s creamy, and cheesy, and warm, and…. oh god. Food orgasm.
  5. Logan’s Rolls and Butter. I love bread. Can I just say that one more time, to be clear? I LOVE bread. I can easily consume my weight in buttered bread… french bread, italian bread, white bread, pumpernickel bread, sourdough bread, potato bread… As long as it’s buttered, I’m game. That said, Logan’s Roadhouse makes rolls that are divine. The butter drips off of them They’re soft. They’re squishy. And I’d rather eat them than candy.
  6. Australian Iced Coffee. Is this a food? Does it count? Well, there can be ice cream in it if it’s done well. So we’ll put it on the dessert category. Do NOT get this confused with the stuff that Starbucks calls Iced Coffee. It pales by comparison. Here in the US, iced coffee is just that. Coffee with ice. As I don’t really like coffee when it’s hot, I certainly don’t like it with ice cubes thrown in watering up everything. That said, when I was in Australia three years ago, I was introduced to the marvelous milky drink that they call iced coffee. It’s like chocolate milk, only with a more cappuccino-like flavor. And I miss it. Very very much badly. Because you can’t get it here.
  7. Fried Croissant with Ice Cream. This dessert has more calories than one should consume in a month. It is my mother’s concoction, and it is heaven on a plate. Take one croissant – the large kind – cut it in half, and fry it in butter until it is crispy. Then, between the two halves, sandwich some vanilla ice cream. On top, add whipped cream and chocolate syrup (fudge, if you have it). Eat. Pass out into a sugar coma. Die happy.

There so many other foods I wish I could fit into the list. Dave’s Crack Chicken (Picante Chicken… but I eat it like it’s crack), Mama’s Winter Soup, My French Dips (I’m sorry, but I just happen to make the best French Dips ever), Popcorn… the list could go on and on.

It shouldn’t be possible to love food so much.

Now I’m hungry.

*Bobs

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The Saturday Seven was created by Lizz over at Am I a Funny Girl. It is inspired by the ever-popular book List Yourself: List Making as a Way to Self Discovery. I’m playing because it’s fun. I encourage you all to play too!

25 March, 2011

Too Much Russian Homework? Just Buy a Hacksaw.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have piles of homework, most of it in Russian. I’m being quite literal. Piles. Piles of books. Piles of papers. So much Russian homework that my brain wants to write my English sentences using Russian grammar. For example:

At me, there is a lot of Russian homework. (I have a lot to do.)

To me, it pleases itself, the Russian homework. (But I kind of like it.)

I have never not seen so much Russian homework. (Seriously… 13 workbook pages front and back? And a novel to read? And a portfolio to put together?)

At me, on Monday, will be an exam on Russian language. (Did I forget to mention that?)

Not to fear, though. I’ve come up with a solution for handling the ever-increasing work load. All it required was a little skill with a hacksaw. And some heavy Vicodin usage. And knowledge of how to properly tie off a tourniquet.

With one hand.

There’s the little matter of blood stains, but nothing some hydrogen peroxide, heavy bleach, scrubbing, and new carpet won’t fix. Aside from the blinding pain, I think the plan was good. I’ll leave this hand to perpetually do Russian. The other can occupy itself with the little matter of linguistics homework, e-mail answering, OCD TEXAS, dog walking, and dish washing.

What?

You don’t believe that’s my hand?

Fine.

Here’s what really happened. During my last visit to Lockhart, my dog found this detached Halloween hand hiding out under the coffee table. I don’t know why it was there. I didn’t ask. What my parents are doing with a detached Halloween hand under their coffee table, I’m not sure I want to know. I was, at the time, doing Russian homework.

Dad said, “You know, if you put the pencil in that hand and leave it there overnight, when you get up in the morning, the homework will be done.”

Never one to dismiss a suggestion that could potentially save me hours of work, I happily handed my pencil over to The Hand.

I am sad to report that The Hand did NOT complete my Russian.

Perhaps the body it was severed from only spoke Hebrew.

Damn those de-hand-itated Hebrew speakers.

*Bobs

P.S. I really do have piles of homework. I may never get through it all.