Archive for the ‘Disorders’ Category

Big Sister, Part I

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

sisters in matching outfits

Years ago, I read a book called ‘The Sibling Bond‘ after reading an enthusiastic review somewhere. I remember its theories and insights as uniquely thought-provoking. Now, it’s all just depressing.

The sibling bond is like no other relationship. It is fraught with everything under the sun – issues of identity, intimacy, security, fairness, all woven together in  a complex knotted mess.

I’m calling it a mess because I’ve had a major falling out with my sister, the sister I grew up with, the sister who was half of what my mom called “You Two Brats.”

In healthy families, children’s roles and identities are not fixed at birth or rigidly imposed early in life. In other families, however, parents fuse their children, treating them as if they were the same. The children are lumped together, treated as if they were each other’s twin despite differences in age, stage, sex and temperament. The children can become fused in their minds, because they are fused in their parents minds.

Sibling bonds will become intense when, as children, the siblings have had plentiful access, contact, AND have been deprived of reliable parental care.

I remember myself as an anxious, fearful child who looked to my sister for warmth and companionship. She was two years older, husky and athletic. I was skinny and clumsy and still can’t ride a bicycle. We ate together, bathed together, were punished together and rewarded together. When we fought and I tried to get our mother’s attention, she would scream, “You two fight it out!”

I gave up on the hope that my mother would intervene and protect me. So when my sister devised tortures to try out on me, I learned to accept my fate. The worst came at bath-time. My sister would take my cotton undershirt and hold it under the hot water tap until steam came off it. Then, I would have to put it on. It hurt and I cried but there was no escape.

The other bath-time torture was the wet bar of soap: She would order me to choose whether I wanted it “in the eye or in the mouth.” I remember the panicky brain work of making the choice. The choice was always wrong, naturally.

My sister had a huge problem with being copied. She became enraged if she perceived any copying. If I drew with a blue crayon, it might be construed as copying. She made up a thing to yell when she started to do something, meaning it was her idea and could not be copied. When she decided I had copied her, there was ‘slavery.’ It was actually called slavery.

Did everyone grow up this way? I really have no idea. But I loved my sister, because she was all I had. We made up a private language that we could speak a mile a minute. She taught me how to shave my legs. We both had to smoke our father’s cigar when he picked us up for Divorced dad dinners in expensive restaurants. We both had to endure his criticism of our hair and our teeth, and his self-congratulatory appraisal of his latest girlfriend.

Once, my sister was determined to get even with some guy for something, and the only way she could do it was to sleep with someone. I tried every argument to change her mind. When she announced that she planned to pick a stranger off the street, I told her to just use my former lover, a compliant stoner. She fucked him alright. She fucked him for around six months. At some point, I begged her to stop, but she wouldn’t. She told me that she wasn’t through getting even.

It was still a choice of the eye or the mouth, but without the choice factor.

We spent years of our lives, fused together or enraged at each other. We used to rely on each other to be what we called a Reality Guarantor, to compare our experiences or point of view. It was so reassuring. Whatever I might be worried about, she swore that it was nothing serious, it would go away or never happen or that she had it too and it wasn’t cancer.

Now we have crossed a line. Too many grievances have been aired. I see her as pathologically competitive and sadistic. She has rewritten my history, casting me as the villain in pieces where I was once the clear victim. Maybe it’s better to be the villain. The truth doesn’t matter to her, and I am the truth police, as everyone knows.

According to her, I’m the devil himself. “You think your shit don’t stink?” she shouted at me over the phone. Who even talks like that? Who are we, Mob Wives? Shouldn’t she at least say ‘doesn’t stink’?

 

 

Could It Be Low T?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

poor low t couple

If you live in the US and watch TV, you have been bombarded with commercials touting drugs for low testosterone. Never mind that doctors agree only a small proportion of men – about 0.5% – need testosterone therapy.

The ads are funny at first, then it might occur to you that a lot of money is being made by pharmaceutical companies preying on mens insecurities. Not only that, but they are pathologizing the aging process.  But of course it gets worse.

High testosterone levels increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and death by 30%. Averse effects of testosterone drugs are creating a whole new class of lawsuit. But those constant ads keep nagging that if you just feel kind of icky, kind of grumpy and apathetic, IT COULD BE LOW T!!!

So I went to the website Is it Low T and took the quiz. I had a strong feeling, no, really an absolute conviction that I would test positive for Low T. Here is my score, where I lied about my erections because I wasn’t sure how to answer.

low t score

As you can see, I’m in big trouble. I’m not even a man and I have fucking Low T!

When I was a weight-lifter, in another lifetime, many of the guys at my gym were huge pro bodybuilders. At certain points in their ‘training cycle,’ they would bulk up by taking steroids and pure testosterone. You could tell which ones were using, because they were easily enraged and prone to acne breakouts on their backs and shoulders. Their feeling was obviously, Anything for bigger muscles.

Now, men are urged to raise their testosterone levels if they’re feeling sad or tired or don’t always feel like having sex. Look at that poor suffering couple above. He looks around 20 but awwwww, he can’t get it up. She’s not helping with that awful white bra. Is she a nursing mother or something? Anyway, this image comes from an article about Low T. I wish she would just masturbate and leave him alone.

Here is a chart showing the rise in testosterone prescribing between 2000 and 2010:

testosterone_4 chart

I don’t know about you, but I see plenty of repercussions.  Angry, acne-ridden men who want to fuck all the time when they’re not dropping dead of a heart attack. I’m just not into it.  If you or your sad and apathetic husband still see more testosterone as the answer to you problems,  bookmark this ad:

lawsuit Low-Testosterone-Treatment-Side-Effects

 

Peaches, Grief, Guilt and Restraining Orders

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Ary Scheffer - 1814

As I write this, we still don’t know what caused the death of poor Peaches Geldof but we are human, most of us, so we feel the tragedy. For me, it was yet another trigger, a blast of PTSD, complete with unwanted images of her dead body, what position she was in, wondering how her family will live through this. Looking at pictures of her adorable babies, reading her loving descriptions of them, struggling with the very idea of deliberately leaving them.

She is none of my business but I refreshed my google search for news, every few hours. Just like I did with L’Wren Scott. How dare these people leave their loved ones, how dare they leave strangers like me to wonder in horror at the big hole they left, to feel like the last page of a book was torn out before we could know how it ended.

I wish I could stop taking it personally but such is my PTSD or Complicated Grief or whatever pathology can be assigned to my condition.

In the days leading up to Max’s birthday, I was more anxious than I realized. I had a fight with my sister over plans for his birthday dinner. Weeks have passed but she still won’t talk to me.

In the days following his birthday, I felt better. I could feel him inside me, not like a dark companion this time but like part of my heart, myself, a good part. I felt lighter, I guess.

But nope, I was not really okay. I sent a curt email in the middle of the night to a close friend’s husband, who knew Max. In the morning, the friend emailed me, hysterically blaming me for destroying the husband and being a monster.

Stung at being the monster in someone else’s narrative, I debated this in escalating emails that resulted in her blocking me both on facebook and in real life gmail. Now I am officially a monster who would dare to make someone feel uncomfortable about Max’s suicide. And I have lost a friend. Maybe they would like to file a restraining order.

I have already suffered the shock of a restraining order! The fiance who refused to talk to me filed a restraining order, citing a fear for her life. It did not pan out, obviously, but it is the post post-modern way of telling someone to shut up or else.

If I could file a restraining order against myself, I would. I would accuse me of torturing myself when I least expect it, with waves of anger, remorse, and morbid preoccupations. I could make me stay 100 yards away from myself and my place of employment.

Meanwhile, one of my facebook friends, needless to say a complete stranger, told me that she was depressed today, more than usual, and wants me to call her. She has a physical handicap and that must be hard. I don’t want to take this on but I will, because even though I’m a monster in real life, on facebook I’m still a nice and compassionate person. For now, anyway.

Hate Your Legs?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

skinny legs

I’m not happy with mine either, and here’s why: The model above.

Just look at how skinny those legs are! Hmph, bad photoshopping, right? That’s what I told myself. But then, I accidentally started a video, and the skinny legs marched toward me confidently, even though their owner looks like a polio victim.

Now, we all know that our culture has screwed up our body image, and we know intellectually that legs this skinny aren’t desirable (or for most of us, attainable.) But after seeing enough images of bone-thin models, a normal-sized woman looks hefty.  Hefty and meaty.  Hefty and meaty and unworthy.

How are we supposed to even know what a normal leg looks like?  Personally, I only wear shorts at home, no matter how hot it gets. I may have run out in shorts to walk the dog, but in general, I don’t want to impose my legs on innocent bystanders. I wear a size 4, which is fairly small, but no way will I get my legs out and submit them to judgement. And I’m not thrilled about my lack of a waist.

No matter how many magazines print sanctimonious, preachy articles about eating disorders and the pressure to be unnaturally thin,  these images aren’t going anywhere. A couple of beautiful plump models will appear every so often, as if to prove there’s no bias in the fashion industry. But the ideal of a size-nothing body remains entrenched.

If you have a daughter, your work is cut out for you. Not only do you have all those pop singers writhing around like desperate prostitutes, you still have these fucking legs to deal with.

Remember Tragic Fashion Boy?

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Poor tragic-fashion-boy

Poor Tragic Fashion boy!

I came across this picture and it brought back a whole era – the era in my life when blogging and fashion were exciting and full of adventure. I was genuinely fascinated by characters like Sea of Shoes and Tragic Fashion Boy.

Now, life has lost its luster, and my priorities have certainly changed. But it makes me sad to see these photos of Charles Guislain, who is now around 20, and still the object of male lust on various websites. God only knows what he has experienced in the last few years.

tragic fashion  boy-grey

charles guislain

I see he is working as a photographer. I hope he’s happy with his choices. I hope he’s decided to eat more.

Oddly enough, today someone reminded me about Daphne Guinness, another character I once found interesting. In a new interview, she revealed that she dresses “intuitively.”

I don’t care about her any more but I still love words. What does she mean by dressing intuitively? Is it possible to dress oneself counter-intuitively?

Let me know what you think.

Crazy Mothers Club VII

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

mommy and me

 

Yesterday, I was bitching about my hair on facebook, and a friend passed on her mother’s advice about spending too much time at the mirror.

I couldn’t even imagine my own mother giving me any advice, although she did warn me not to have ‘intercourse’ after I started coming home at 3:AM. She was pretty useless in the advice department. She didn’t prepare me for anything except a conviction that I would never, ever, grow up to be like her.

Look at her body language in this picture. She holds me like I’m a time bomb or some infectious agent. And me, I look away anxiously, maybe at someone less scary.

It is pointless to blame your crazy mom for all your shortcomings, and yet. Getting over a crazy mom is a tall order.

An interesting school of psychology maintains that Adverse Childhood Experiences can represent trauma that doesn’t just ‘go away.’ Having a crazy mom is an ACE; enough ACE’s and you are screwed, unless other factors were present to create some resilience. You can get your ACE score here.

“The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study uncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems.This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.”

Bummer! On the one hand, you now have an excuse for being dysfunctional. On the other, it is awful to reflect on your childhood helplessness, or on your own failings as a mother.

Thoughts?

The Story of the Salt and Pepper Shakers

Monday, December 30th, 2013

oandm stove

Once, in another lifetime, we noticed a change in our neighborhood. Elderly, blue-collar residents were dying, and houses went on the market at absurdly inflated prices.

I heard that a yuppie couple had bought a house down the street and that something was wrong with her baby. One day, I saw the blonde yuppie mom passing by with her stroller. I welcomed her to the neighborhood and she seemed very nice. Her baby had a misshapen head and had to wear a special helmet. I pretended not to feel sorry for her, and after all, I had my own troubles.

She told me about her house and about her vintage O’Keefe and Merritt stove, which she was very excited about. She lamented that it was perfectly refurbished but was missing the porcelain salt and pepper shakers that belonged above the hood in their own recessed compartments.

I have an old O’Keefe and Merritt stove and I’ve never cared about the salt and pepper shakers. I never used them, and I only clean the stove maybe once every hundred years. Since the nice yuppie cared so much about the salt and pepper shakers, I impulsively offered her mine.

She was thrilled. She couldn’t get over how great this was. I basked in her happiness and my own niceness.

That was my only encounter with the nice yuppie. I think she moved away before too long. Many months later, I met another neighbor who had befriended the yuppies. She told me that she’d heard about my nice gesture, and commended me for my generosity.

As the years go by, I realize how valuable those fucking salt and pepper shakers are. I look at the empty compartments and think what an idiot I was. I probably just wanted the yuppie mom to like me.

When I review this story, I only feel my stupidity, and this in turn causes a vague sense of shame. My husband thinks it’s a story about doing something nice, but it isn’t. It’s a story about regret and resentment.

However, If I could go back in time, I’d do the same thing, because it feels good to be nice, even if you aren’t.

A Tough Choice

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

pearl lowe for peacocks 18 british pounds

The skirt above, by Pearl Lowe for Peacocks is priced at $30.00

The skirt below, by Balmain, sells for $2,280.00

balmain skirt $2280

It’s worth spending $2,250 more for the Balmain because _________________________________.

 

Triggers and Tarzana

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

vintage sheet music

 

Once you are traumatized, you are vulnerable to triggers. And triggers are everywhere.

Jane Birkin’s daughter, Kate Barry, jumped from her fourth story window last week. I couldn’t stop thinking about her despair, and how fame and talent don’t protect families from depression or suicide.

Then, on Homeland, they executed the poor hero, making us watch as the life drained out of his face.

When I’m triggered enough, my mind reverts to familiar paths that lead nowhere. Often, it settles on Tarzana Treatment Center, a lucrative rehab business whose $45 million budget is largely funded via contracts with Los Angeles County.

I took my son to TTC when he relapsed during a period of hard-earned sobriety. They made a big fuss about payment and made a copy of my credit card. They refused to let the family inside the building. After a few days, I started receiving calls from a guy named Del, in the financial department. He said they needed more money, even though they were a Blue Cross provider and had accepted our son’s insurance.

Del’s harassing phone-calls brought me to tears but he persisted. He threatened to kick Max out instead of keeping him for the agreed 30 days. I came up with $1,000 and then another $1,100. Del kept calling and demanding money. He said the rehab cost $500 a day. Meanwhile, Max called me, sounding panicky; he shared his room with a bunch of convicts who played cards all night, depriving him of sleep. He was cold but I wan’t allowed to bring him a blanket.

After around 12 days, a woman called me and said she was a therapist at TTC. She told me that my son was being discharged for lack of sufficient funds, but that she had convinced them to let him stay until morning.

In the morning, Max’s dad picked him up from TTC. He was still in withdrawal from klonopin. At dawn the next morning, he jumped off a cliff.

So I think about Del. I sometimes call his extension at TTC but I always get his recorded message. A couple of days ago, I called and he answered.

I told him who I was, and told him what happened after he kicked out my son. He stammered that he was sorry for my loss but quickly regrouped. He denied calling me to demand money and I laughed maniacally. WHAT?!, I said, Are you serious? You called me a million times! You made me cry!

No, he said firmly, this never happened and couldn’t have happened. They never discharge anyone for lack of money. Never. He has worked there for 18 years and it has never happened. Furthermore, it wasn’t his call. It was someone else’s.

I asked whose call it was and after some arguing, he gave me a fake name with a fake extension number.

Now, if  you are still reading this, you can understand my distress. I’m going to call it distress because rage doesn’t cover it. Why didn’t that cunt just apologize and say it was a terrible unforeseen consequence, one that he regretted?

I don’t want to hear “Just let it go.” I want to hear useful ideas about how to proceed.

No Dancing

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Jessie Wilcox smith - At the Back of the North Wind

 

When I saw a few moments of the Cancer Dance video on the evening news, I was dismayed. The news people smiled and exchanged platitudes about courage and healing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, they mused, if people everywhere were inspired by the dancing mastectomy patient to face cancer with such joy?

If you’re reading this and you have cancer, and you like the dancing, please forgive me for my bad attitude.

I just feel that it’s one more way to pressure people into masking their trauma and fear and grief. BE HAPPY! Find a silver lining! Things could be worse! Be thankful for the ‘lesson’ of cancer or death!

Our culture offers nothing for the grief-stricken. We just want them to keep quiet or go away. What if some women insisted on wearing black mourning clothes to her mastectomy, to say goodbye to her breasts? That video would not go viral.

I will never be “over” my loss and I will always grieve. I accept that but no one else does, except for the parents I see on online forums, who express their anguish and desperation to strangers who have Been There. Online People can be remarkably patient and compassionate. Real Life people get sick of your morose demeanor. They get sick of hearing you ask with complete sincerity, “Why doesn’t so-and-so just kill themself?” They are upset by your negativity. And they feel helpless in the face of such intractable sadness.

A couple of nights ago, I chatted online with a total stranger who seemed really smart and really nice. I told her my story and asked what to do about facing or avoiding my dark constant companion, as I think of it.

She asked a few questions and then told me that grief was noble. She advised me to look for people I could help, and to honor my son however I could.  Her words were a huge comfort.

I’m going to just feel noble instead of hating myself for being sad. I’m not going to dance and act happy, because I’m not a model of courage and positivism. And If I find out I have cancer, I’m going to make a big fuss and take to my bed.  I wish America were like Africa, with shaman elders to dance around and perform some rituals for us who have lost our children or breasts or limbs or sanity.

At least there are wise strangers out there in cyberspace.