I Have Better Things To Do Than Survive

I cut my nails short.

cut my nails short

A fork ring also, for when I am out of spoons.

It’s a symbolic gesture to myself, one that serves to remind me to take care of myself while preparing for what’s to come. My fingernails have always grown long, strong and have been one of my vanity loves about myself, but I need them short right now.

Right now I am fighting with all of my everything not to fall down a deep depressive hole even though all the usual suspects are present. Loss, grief, stress, anxiety that reaches the moon, feeling and being out of control of my life. Having life move and change far too quickly for me to adapt to. Living with very strong trauma reminders (not triggers exactly, but reminders) and it would be so incredibly easy to just free fall to the bottom of that dark pit and sleep.

I don’t want that to happen though. Life is fucking terrifying, but right now it’s pretty terrifying for everyone I know. Taking a step back from the usual subjects of a depressive episode and pretending for at least a few minutes that there is a different American President, there is so much good in my life and possible in my life right now.

Val and I are back together and happy. I’m finding the ability to write again. The kids are all doing well and turning into lovely little people. Poly life is interesting. The world can change in a way that works better for me than how it has operated for a long time. I am closer to the life that I want than I have been in a very long time.

I “just” have to keep myself from falling down that hole, from self-sabotage (my depressive acting out of choice), from getting too deep into an anxiety hole. (Totally different than a depressive one for me, just as hard if not harder to get out of.) “Just” have to keep myself making steps forward and I can get to a level of okay that has been unfathomable until recently.

What the fuck does this have to do with my nails?

My nails are short and polished so that if I do fall down those holes, or if I start to slide, I don’t tear them off climbing back up. They are short and strong, they can grab hold, they can scratch and dig if needed. Chips in polish are little signs where I was fighting back. Scrubbing a floor, building lego sets, typing hard enough I should fear to break my keyboard.

So if – let’s be honest – when I do fall into a hole, one less part of me will be bloody and broken.

I’m Getting Married Tomorrow.

We’re finally divorced.

To save my fingers: I love all of you, especially you wonderful folks who have been here through all the bullshit, horrible, abuse, terror and continued fuckery. Thank you for bearing with us, thank you for understanding, thank you for your amazing support. Without you folks, I would not have made it through the darkness with this much Mighty left within me.

#IamMighty

#IamMighty

TOMORROW: We are getting married. Later on we will have a wedding party to celebrate with friends and family but we’re doing the marriage as fast as possible because HEALTH INSURANCE! Have a therapist already lined up, ready to go see my GP for proper medication, and once I adjust to meds again I’m going to be so very functional again. I’m crying at the thought. It took three years, four months and eighteen fucking days to get here, but here we are. Closing that door, breaking that toxic tie, it’s the best feeling.

Finally: We’re having a SheVibe wedding. Oh that’s right. V is dressing like the Doctor and I’m gonna wear my unicorn cover art gear. BECAUSE I CAN! Because I am Mighty and we’ve survived this long. Because we’re superheroes. Because we will live the life we want, on our terms.

cropped-shevibe_orgasmquest.jpg

It’s the holidays and everyone is broke. I know how it is. If you wish to gift us anything, money towards the legal bills that made this possible or house stuff from our amazon wishlist would be wonderful. (my paypal is crista at gmail) All I really need is continued love and support as we keep pushing through to make the life we want.

This is joy. I missed feeling joy.

I get my happy ending.

Stop Using The Mentally Ill as Your Scapegoat ~ #WhatMentallyIllLooksLike

The Stigma is deadly.

The last time I visited my parents my mom and I talked about something I had completely forgotten: When I was 20 a doctor tried to diagnose me with depression (this was 5 years before I started being treated) and we all freaked out and left his office pissed off. Why? Because we were outraged that he would suggest there was something mentally wrong with me– I wasn’t crazy. See, the stigma got me too. People avoid the treatment they need because of what the world tells them the diagnosis means and every time you casually refer to a murderer as “crazy” or say “mental illness” like it explains horrific violence you are reinforcing that impulse.

What Mentally Ill Looks Like by JoEllen Notte…

What is your most vivid childhood memory?

This is one of the few questions about my childhood that I can quickly answer. My most vivid childhood memory is sitting in a Doctor’s office, sobbing hysterically on my Mother in gut wrenching terror. I’m Nine and have just been told that it was in my best interests to go on an antidepressant. When my Mom can calm me down enough to speak, I tell her that I don’t want to go on meds because I don’t want to kill people. My nine-year-old self had already deeply internalized that mentally ill people, especially mentally ill people who are on medication, are dangerous killers. I don’t want to kill anyone. I know that how I feel isn’t how the kids around me feel, I want to be better, but I’m positive that if I take prozac I’ll become a murderer.

I know that I started taking prozac shortly after, but have no memory of how I was talked into taking the meds. Memory gets foggy again, though I remember often faking my caretakers out – putting the pill in a pocket or flushing it. Again, because I was positive that being on medication would make me kill people. Of course, skipping medication like that is dangerous, but the stigma was so deeply ingrained that I didn’t care. Missing doses made my suicidal ideation worse, but my brain said that was better than taking them as prescribed and turning into one of those “crazy” people on the news.

That nagging fear stayed in my brain well into adulthood when I finally saw studies that showed how mentally ill people were more likely to be victims of violence than commit these acts themselves. Even then, even now, that fear will pop up – even though I know that is wrong.

As soon as I saw the news about the Umpqua Community College mass shooting, I got the fuck offline. The weeks after the custody trial were some of the hardest, darkest days I’ve known as an adult, only in the last week and a half have I felt like life was real and that we would be okay again eventually. Darkness compounded by the knowledge that my mental illness, specifically words I have written here, were used against us as “proof” I am a lesser parent. I felt too fragile to deal with the bombardment of voices placing the blame for this tragedy on the mentally ill.

On me.

No matter how hard I try, those headlines, those memes, those clueless social media updates demanding we keep guns out of those “crazy” people’s hands hit me like personal attacks. They bring back that terrified child. They rip me open. I intellectually know how wrong they are, but the pain of seeing people I trust repeat those lies uncritically…It rips me open.

Again, from JoEllen’s piece:

Then it happened, the thing that always happens when folks want to ignore the gun conversation, the racism conversation, the misogyny conversation, hell, whateverconversations we really need to be having and when the shooter is sufficiently light-skinned (because, let’s not bullshit here) – the conversation turned to mental illness.

Suddenly there’s an explanation! Guns are safe you see, it’s just those unsafe mentally ill people that are the problem. Suddenly the term “mentally ill” is being flung around as a slur. Why? Because it’s the bad guy. Mental illness is the scapegoat. Then even the anti-gun people start doing it. Arguments like “Well gun control would keep guns out of the hands of crazy people!” happen. People talk about making registries where we track everyone with a mental illness, like mental illness = dangerous criminal. Pictures of wild-eyed shooters get trotted out (I’m not posting any of them, because fuck those guys) and everyone feels safer because this was an isolated crazy person.”

Everyone feels safer except us “crazies”. You know, some of the most vulnerable of our population.

My name is Crista Anne, and I have mental illness. I came out of the womb with mental illness, I will always have mental illness. In my 33 years, I’ve not been a danger to anyone but myself. I have been the victim of violent crime, repeatedly.

This is also what a mentally ill person looks like.

This is also #WhatMentallyIllLooksLike. I have Major Depressive Disorder & PTSD. I am Mighty.

I have no illusions that this scapegoating of the mentally ill will end anytime soon. At the same time, I can safely navigate myself to the wonderful #MedicatedandMighty hashtag on twitter now and see the thousands of astonishingly brave people sharing bits of their stories. Since #MedicatedandMighty overall does not have the sexual aspect to it that #OrgasmQuest does, this hashtag has been covered in many places Quest was not. The expansive positive coverage of life with mental illness thrills and touches me. It helps.

I choose to focus on the bravery displayed by those posting, the lives lost in the latest mass shooting to garner worldwide attention, and do what I can to push back on the intellectually dishonest bullshit that is ignoring our deeper societal problems and laying blame at the feet of those who are already fighting every single minute to survive.

This post has been incredibly hard to write. While I want to say more, much more, I am going to practice self-care and step away until I feel less raw. I’ll leave you with this segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on the topic. ::Warning, you may want to have tissues within reach::

Crista Anne is Mighty

Frustrated by lack of Posts? Trust me, I’m more frustrated.

MIghty as fuck

Ain’t got me yet

Trust me, I’m frustrated as well. There is either no time for me to write, there is time but I don’t even know where to begin, and the feeling of being constantly monitored that gets to a person. Sure, I’ve plenty of people who hateread me, or are here for trolling/threats. I’ve been outspoken online since internet culture began. Other douchecanoes being douchecanoes is something I am desensitized from.

The eyes on me are different, partially I’m being judged by the state if I deserve to be a parent while being…Me. I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on anyone, even the person who started this mess. Knowing these eyes are there makes me doubt myself. “Taken out of context I must seem so strange” I’ve already experienced having the moments of raw honestly I choose to share out of a desire for connection via shared life experience used to paint me in a horrible light.

I miss you. I miss this space. Miss my friends, readers, colleagues, co-conspirators and other revolutionaries. Oh, oh how I miss engaging with you all.

Wee Crista & Cycles of Bullshit

When I was a wee Crista, I was always sick. My immune system was crap, started having migraines at an incredibly young age, a lot of my body was haywire from the start. Most of my childhood and teen years were spend going to endless doctor appointments, with endless tests and an endless lack of answers. MRIs, CAT scans, tubes shoved everywhere, ultrasounds, shots, blood draws, allergy tests, spinal taps…endless. (Why when I was in labor with Maddy and it was time for the blissful epidural, I automatically went into place and was all “do your thing. It’s cool. I’m experienced with needles in my spine.”)

Finally in my early twenties I started getting real names for my conditions other than “you’re crazy”. Though, to many people, Fibro still means that. Whatever, I have an explanation and sometimes that’s everything. Haters gonna hate and all that.

Going back to Wee Crista, my Mom handled all of my medical stuff. I don’t remember my Dad ever asking me much about what I was going through medically. Checking in after tests. Asking me anything about how I was feeling, what it was like, anything. He seemed to pretend it wasn’t happening.

As an adult who understands him better, I’m less angry. He was overwhelmed, he was possibly in the dark about much of what was happening, and he just didn’t know how to be a Dad. Most of all, he was fighting his own demons. Adult me is understanding, Wee Crista was furious. Wee Crista took this as proof that he didn’t really give two shits about me.

Watching Val fight tooth and nail to be kept up to date, in the loop, and have his voice heard regarding the kids medical care – the basic stuff – brings up a lot in me. Watching him be aggressively denied in these instances, ignoring what the legalities say he’s entitled to be a part of, hurts me. It hurts beyond my love for him, it hurts me on the kids behalf. It hurts me on my wee behalf.

Wee Crista would have done anything for these actions from her Dad, Wee Crista was scarred from not getting them. Seeing the possibility of that cycle continuing breaks my heart. Angers me. Too many emotions to put into words.

Doesn’t seem to fail, every time I think that I am as disgusted and as appalled as I could be at the madness around us – a new low is found. Utter bullshit, and there are too many months of bullshit ahead.

Shocking! An update that isn’t Instagram!

Taking a rare quiet moment to actually write here. I’ve received a number of sweet emails from y’all, either checking in or just sending love. Tried to respond to all of them, but if I missed you – I appreciated your words deeply.

We’ve all the kids for most of this week, so I’ve been off being a different brand of superhero. It’s been wonderful, exhausting, but wonderful. I’ve learned that I need to start buying glitter by the pound like my dear friend Carin. Turning me into Queen Mommy Sparkle is a daily event – I’ve glitter in my pores. Not complaining, the house has been very happy, a huge change from the dark cloud that hung over us while we were in limbo.

Words want to fall off my fingertips on a number of topics that are floating around. As that’s just not possible right now, I’ve been RTing wonderful posts on twitter as much as possible. Posting via instagram is my best mode for the next few days. When the child load goes down, I’m blocking off time for my words. It’s important self-care.

I’m sending you all love and light. Thank you for your support, it means the world to all of us.

#OrgasmQuest Continues With New Challenges…

I have no sex drive.

None.

Stress has completely erased all of my sexual being.

This astounds me. Just as I was getting to a point where I could orgasm reliably, the absurdity began. Desperately want a sex drive, it just simply does not exist. Hell, I finally got my coveted Njoy Eleven and it has yet to be used. Intellectually I desperately want to make time at night to get back to masturbating regularly, however when I get to that time?

Nope.

There is no appeal. I’m too worn out and moving is too much to ask. Even knowing that making the effort would really help, that staying in touch with my sexual self is a vital part of feeling joy in life for me, I continue to sit here. Not out of a depressive way, overall I’m feeling incredibly empowered, but being sexual holds no appeal for me.

I need to fix this. Like everything else that is going on now, the only way out is through. The only way to correct the absurdly long list of things that have gone wrong is to push through them all. Life is one long labor, birthing a new person and a new path.

On the upside, my sexuality is something that isn’t outside of my control. Reclaiming my sex goddess is something that I can fix on my own. I just need to find the will to start. #OrgasmQuest is more important than ever for me. It’s more important than ever for my long-term well-being. I will get back to where I want to be, but not tonight.

Tonight I’m sitting quietly, working on calming my brain so that tomorrow I can wake up and work on getting to where I actually want to be. This post isn’t one of my best, but starting to write out how I am feeling is how I begin to fix myself. I want my orgasm back, again, but now a different battle.

Thank the tap dancing dildo gods I’m a fucking Superhero.

Softness as Strength

My body aches. Stress has been ripping us to shreds. Last night I kept my computer closed and cried for hours. Ugly sobbing, my nose is raw from having been blown so many times. The dichotomy between how traumatic my personal bubble has been and how positive my professional life is has become hard to process. I’m a Superhero, my idol calls me a pleasure revolutionary. Projects, opportunities are flying my way but there is such a hole that it’s impossible to enjoy them fully.

I feel guilt and shame at being angry about that, it feels so self-absorbed considering the gravity of our situation. If I lose half my kids it really doesn’t matter to me that my heroes are saying nice things about me. I feel guilty that I’m angry. Socialized as a woman all my life, it’s easier for me to experience guilt than it is for me to feel anger. I’m angry and guilty about that too.

What I need is softness, gentleness. So, I’ve been painting with my littlest while people on twitter call me a self-absorbed airhead. That doesn’t hurt my feelings anymore, but I’m out of shouting. It’s time to find strength in my softness again. Sit quietly. Find softness as strength.

“I need a light of some kind”

Living Fearlessly

People repeatedly tell me that they wouldn’t be able to be as open or as public as I am with my life, usually in a positive way. This is how I’m comfortable, living openly. As fucking terrifying as everything is now, I’m embracing living fearlessly. My center is returning, I am the calm in the center of the storm.

Today I am hoping for calm across the board. This is supposedly a day of rest. I’m making it a day of self-care. Taking care of my physical needs, touching base with loved ones for emotional needs, playing with the littlest in the yard. Standing in the sunlight, pulling it into the center of myself. Fueled by light. Shortly I’m going to put on makeup for myself, make my eyes so bright that darkness cannot touch me.

As of this moment we’re still planning on attending Catalyst at the end of the month. That could change in a moment, but I’ve decided to start planning like we are. Need to see my friends, peers, collaborators, idols and heroes. How social I’ll be is very dependent on what happens between now and then, but being there is still my goal. Life has to move forward.

While I am very laid back, I do not do well when I don’t feel in control. Part of why I don’t drink or partake in illicit substances is that I so loathe being out of control of myself. Over the coming weeks, months, to a very large degree the rest of my life will be determined. I have very little control of that outcome. To combat the discomfort I have with that knowledge, I’m living fearlessly in my way. Outspoken, honest, oversharing.

 

Motherhood, International Women’s Day & Me. #IWD2015

This is not a Mommy Blog, but this is a Parenting Post

Part of the stress that I’ve alluded to is something that I can share, though it’s hard.

The eldest of the kids that I birthed is this super awesome, delightfully weird, creative creature. They are brilliant, we see future engineer written all over them. We bond over our mutual introversion, “Mommy time” is usually us sitting together, they are doing puzzles on a pad while I work on my laptop. They are my love and my light, life feels better when they are in the house.

While the breakup of our marriage was as messy and horrible as it could be, after time and space, my ex husband and I are on great terms. He’s with someone wonderful, building his family. I’m over here doing the same and we are both incredibly happy for each other. He’s been one of the biggest #OrgasmQuest fans, which has been fun. We’re good friends, terrible life partners. These things happen. I don’t view our marriage as a failure, we got our delightful child and learned a lot about ourselves through the process of our relationship.

Over the years since we broke up and we’ve been co-parenting from different houses, something quickly became clear to me. As our kiddo grows up, they’ll be happiest if Daddy’s House is their main home. Not that they aren’t welcomed, loved, adored and space made for them here, but there are very different lifestyles between their homes.

My eldest is happiest with scheduled life, where things are planned out way in advance. I watch kiddo and my ex interact and they completely get each other. It’s beautiful. I only hear happy things about their life at Daddy’s house. I’m happy for them.

About a year ago the custody agreement was changed and he has physical custody of her. I’m okay with that. I see them all the time, we have a wonderful relationship, but in the end I know that they will flourish even more if they live with Daddy full-time once school begins and they enter that stage of life.

There has also been an understanding that eventually one or both of us will move to different states. It’s looking like my ex will be the first to move, possibly by the end of the year. When that happens, kiddo will move with them with my blessing.

My blessing because in the end that will be the best life for them, even if it completely wrecks me. I’ve privately worked though so many feelings about this, finally getting to a place of acceptance. My sadness is eased knowing how well this decision will work for her in the long run.

I’m a good Mom. I’m not “giving her up”, Skype means that I can see them all the time. They won’t be moving that far away, I’ll see them on a regular basis. That makes things easier.

It’s hard though, I battle feeling like a failure. Gender roles, being the Mother, there is an expectation that I Should Be The Main Parenting Figure. I’m bucking that for their best interests. Enjoying the time left when they are over every few days.

As it’s International Women’s Day, I’m seeing many celebrations of motherhood. That’s a little bittersweet, as I am experiencing that sometimes being the best mother I can be means letting go some. Processing these emotions has been part of my quiet, part of the stress. I’ve reached a good place now, but again – bittersweet.

Motherhood is part of how I now personally experience womanhood. I’m a full-time Mom, a step-Mom, and the non-custodial Mom. These different experiences of Motherhood are strong on my mind today, which is why I am choosing to share this deeply personal experience that I’m going through.

If you disagree with my choices here and feel the need to comment, I ask that disagreement be expressed respectfully. Thank you in advance.

Reclaiming Mighty – This Might Only Make Sense to Me

As the chaos of the last few days fall behind me, I’m now looking at a surprise stretch of time where the kid load is going to be cut in half. Breathing space ahead. As I push forward trying to get myself completely back to good with Looming Intense Life Shit, what I know for sure is that things need to change.

Things need to change within me. I need to change how I interact with my day, with my life. Stop waiting for permission to live my truth, stop self censoring because I don’t want to deal with fallout. Continued bravery. The next few weeks, months, who knows is going to be one long exposure to triggering events and situations, facing deep fears that I have avoided until I couldn’t anymore. (Hello panic disorder, you’re always there aren’t you?)

I am Mighty. This is fact.

Sometimes I forget though. Which I did just now. Next is remembering my Mighty. Once my Mighty is fact for myself again, I must keep that truth closer to my soul.
.x.x.x.

For 20 years now I’ve listened endlessly to Ani Difranco, I’m a queer who came to be in the 90’s after all, and different lyrics or bits of her words are in my head more often than not. Today it’s been a snippet off Living in Clip, Distracted. It’s resonating with me.

“…Awww the fuckin wench just talking about love n shit, what happened to your politics? Is this is conscious move away from overly political song writing? blah blah blah. …No man, I just…I got kinda distracted. *laugh*” (This is off my memory of listening to that album on loop for about a year, I may have fucked up the exact words.)

I got kinda distracted.

Have I lost you now dear reader? That’s in my head because I want to reframe my loss of Mighty to a distraction, versus an actual loss. That I can be distracted, write within reason about my distractions, without losing my Mighty. I can be Mighty and distracted. Mighty and occasionally a hot mess. While I need to move away from asking permission constantly, the first step of that for me is giving myself permission to be Mighty and everything else. Permission to believe that Mighty is not just one state of being, that it can encompass all my other states. They can all be Mighty.

My Dad died ten years ago, and I’m not really sure what else to do but write this…

My Dad, sister and I

My Dad, sister and I

I didn’t really get to know my Dad until after he died.

Didn’t begin to understand him until after he was gone. Don’t know if I exactly regret this, I did at one point, but now I have a cool acceptance that this is just how it worked out. At least I eventually got him.

Have you seen True Detective? If so, the older Cohle character is eerily like my Dad. They differ in that my Dad spoke a lot less, but the mannerisms, the chain smoking Camel Blues, the overall world view was very much my father at the end of his life. That knowledge might help with the mental picture.

My Dad was a quiet guy. He drew maps for my Grandfather’s land surveying company. When he was younger he wanted to be a garbage man, I later learned. He wasn’t ambitious or really interested in anything changing. He liked his routines. He drank his weight in coffee and was always chain smoking his camels. Everyday he wore jeans, a plain colored t shirt with a flannel shirt over it. He didn’t cut his hair, even after he started balding. When I was young, he’d have me braid it for him when we went out.

He loved to read. Science fiction and fantasy novels were piled up everywhere in his house. Loved Dune. Watched Star Trek non-stop. Bet he would have adored Doctor Who if it had ever crossed his radar. My deep love of football and of the Packers comes from him, we watched football together my entire life. After I moved away from Wisconsin, he recorded every single Packers’ game for me. Used to watch NASCAR to root for cars to crash. My musical tastes also come from him. He gave me my first Ani album. He thought Tori Amos was whiny, but also introduced me to her as a teen. He liked folk, blue grass and rock. He loved Nirvana and was crushed when Cobain killed himself. He also really liked Maroon 5, Songs about Jane was the last CD he gave me. I’m listening to it right now.

He and I were actually incredibly similar.

My Dad was also an addict. Cocaine. My Mom left him when I was six, his addiction had become too much and he picked drugs over us. After we left, he started dealing more and more. Eventually he was busted and went to prison. I was nine. His addiction, the people that he had around him and the decisions he made while in that spiral are really the base of a lot of my damage. I talk about this rather openly, but if you’re new to my world, I was sexually abused as a kid. My abuser was his drug buddy/roommate. That’s where my PTSD stems from and why I cannot even with coke.

After my Mom left, we moved in with my Grandmother. The home she had purchased had been in the country, but over the ensuing years Brookfield Wi became a very wealthy area. We were really poor but my classmates were all very rich kids while I was the depressed poor kid whose Dad was in prison. After he got locked up no one was allowed to play with me anymore. I was shunned and ridiculed. Kids are cruel and all that.

To say that I was angry is an understatement. I never forgave him in his lifetime.

Dad didn’t do confrontation. We never spoke of it. Any of it. We never spoke of his addiction, his prison time, my feelings, his feelings, anything. From then on we had a mostly superficial relationship. I spent every other weekend with him until we eventually moved from Wisconsin to Virginia when I was midway through my teens. What little relationships we did have revolved around football, music, the internet. He was my Dad, but we didn’t have a parental relationship. I didn’t let him but he also didn’t try. Angry, angry, angry. I distanced myself from him, his family, the town, everything.

My Sister is almost five years younger than I am, she was too little to remember addict Dad, too little to really remember his prison time. She and he had a completely different relationship. After he got out, Dad cleaned himself up. Got really involved in NA. Threw darts with other recovering addicts. He never stopped smoking pot, but whatever. She opted to live with him for most of her life and they were incredibly close. I resented the fuck out of the fact that he stepped up to the parenting plate for her, but I’m grateful for it. After his death, she’s the one who has been able to give me an actual picture of who he was.

He took in all the wayward teenagers in my sister’s social circle. When her best friend got pregnant at 15 or so, he took them in. Dad was great with little kids, playful and engaged. He took in stray pets, it was always a zoo on the rare occasions that I visited. I moved on and on, occasionally checking in with him as I bounced from Virginia to Dallas in my late teens. Eventually I stopped calling him, letting my Sis relay information about what I was doing and where I was living.

At twenty, my health crashed. Had to leave my life in Dallas to move in with my Mom, who had remarried (again) and was back in Wisconsin as well. The adjustment from being completely free, living thousands of miles from family and with a delightful collection of misfits, magicians and side show freaks to a semi invalid in her Mom’s basement was hard. (Obviously) The culprit was fibromyalgia, but I wouldn’t get that diagnosis for years. At that point I started spending random periods of time at Dad’s house, two hours away. It was a change of scenery, Dad didn’t fuss over me like Mom did, and at least everything was familiar there – even if I did look down my nose at everything and everyone. (Who isn’t a self absorbed  asshole in their early twenties though?)

Dad and I had a reconnection of sorts. Someone had filled him in that I was gay, he responded by wordlessly giving me a rainbow blanket he crocheted. (My Mom had taught him before I was born to keep him occupied while recovering from a knee injury and he was a crafty dude.) We never spoke about anything deep, but we developed a friendship. When I started dating a guy, the two of them became good friends and we visited Dad fairly often.

The last picture

The last picture

Said boyfriend and I started having problems, Dad let me know that one of his cats had just had a litter of kittens. What better way than to drown my sorrows of nothing in my life working than with teeny purring fluff balls? I spent two weeks at his house, covered in kittens and bullshitting with him. Don’t really remember anything from that visit other than one evening sitting on the floor passing kittens back and forth. Boyfriend and I decided we needed to talk in person, so he drove up to pick me up and head back home. Dad walked us out to the car and waved from the back gate as we pulled away.

He died 48 hours later. Heart attack. He was a month shy of turning 54.

My sister was a minor, so I was his next of kin and had to make all the decisions. The most he had ever said about his wishes were to burn him on the woodpile, real helpful Dad. If you’ve watched Buffy, The Body episode is horrifically accurate, though thankfully I didn’t have to find him. He was out surveying with my Grandpa and a few of his brothers, standing on a hill, when he just..fell over. That was that.

After he died, while I was getting his personal business closed, everyone I encountered told me about how he always talked about me. Mauston is a tiny, tiny town. Everyone knows everyone, suddenly everywhere I turned there was someone telling me about how Mike always talked about how proud he was of his girls. I had no idea. That knowledge opened the door for me to find out more, once he was gone my anger started to cool.

Five years after his death I realized I wasn’t angry anymore. Now, ten years later. I’m sad. My sister and I both have small armies of kids that Dad never got to meet. He and Val would have gotten along really well. He’d be amused by the fact my hair is still pink. We’d probably be pretty close if he was still around.

Now that I’ve written all this out, I just want today to be over. I’m not angry any more and I haven’t been for a long time. My Dad was a good guy who made a ton of really shitty choices, but was trying his best. I forgave him years ago. For better and a lot for worse, I am who I am because of him and those choices. Since I’m a real big fan of me, I’m grateful in the end.

Can it be tomorrow already?