DO YOU SEE A LIGHT BEYOND THE DARKNESS?

“When the whole world is entrenched in the bunker of physical and often emotional isolation, only flexibility and ingenuity can revive us to remain grounded and imbibe the bolstering sunlight piercing through the canvas of chaos.― Erik Pevernagie

Whether it’s socially, mentally, or physically, being out of your comfort zone can be unbearablemore so for some than others.

During the pandemic, we’ve had hard decisions to make, all of us, knowing whatever decision we made for ourselves would impact the loved ones in our bubble who’ve been riding it out with us. They’re not only counting on surviving it themselves; they’re counting on you to survive. A year is fleeting compared to a future without the people you love.

I always remember what my younger sister would say when things were not so great. “It’s temporary.” And what I used to tell myself, “Life is an adventure, part of which is figuring out what to do with every challenge thrown at you and then rising through the challenge.” 

The restrictions, added to other stressful political and personal situations, have been tiring. They certainly brought out the ugly in some and the beauty in others. There are people in my life who’ve been sick with Covid or lost loved ones to the virus, and, at least for the time being, the spark I used to see in them is gone.

Finding ways to cope with even simpler things like wearing a mask and the constant handwashing and disinfecting is frustrating, yes, but we are warriors and survivors, and I love that about us. It comes down to preserving yourself for when you can get back the life you want. It’s definitely a time we need therapeutic measuresincluding ways to escape. 

Sure, it was easier for most of us writers. I worked on several books, wrote poem after poem, read one book after another. Those were all things I could never wait to do, so, believe it or not, it was exciting.

Taking walks has always been an excellent balance for working in isolation, but there’s a lot of construction going on around here, where I live. Long Island is the suburbs, but my neighborhood, right now, looks like a rundown part of the city.

My son, who never cooked much in the past, decided to watch all these cooking videos and learn to make all these incredible meals from scratch. He became a great chef and managed to lose weight in the process because he worked out daily while doing his job remotely. All of it was a great confidence builder and kept him motivated!

Working out whenever, wherever, makes you feel good (well, afterward, at least 😉).

As for me, along with whatever else I was doing, I’d think crocheting might be enjoyable or maybe guitar lessons, but then I’d have to buy a guitar. So, another pastime I had was deciding what place I wanted to move to and then, from time to time, check out what houses were for sale there. For a while, it was Norway, then Germany, then Amsterdam. Right now, it’s York, in England. Yes, I want to move to York. I do very much, want to move.

And who knew I’d rediscover Super Mario Brothers and become so good at the Dr. Mario game? (Listen to me, bragging!) Well, it helps your coordination and response time. That is good for me. 😆

Music was another Godsend.

We’re so lucky, too, to have the internet for connecting with everyone—being able to talk to people all over the world about how they’re coping with the very same thing. I can’t imagine how people managed crisis after crisis in the dark ages. But they did!

And what I love most is the fact that laughter gets you through everything. You can’t ever lose your sense of humor. I was joking with a cab driver the other day about neighbors who never knock on your door, and suddenly, during the height of a pandemic, they come a-knocking. And it’s to tell you something like there’s a piece of paper outside your door, an advertisement. Uh, thank you? 

No! Don’t bring me things when we are in lockdown! Do not knock on my door

He and I laughed so much about that, joking back and forth because you have to. Sometimes people mean well, I know. And sometimes they don’t. 

Another day, I got a letter in the mail saying that my neighbor (mentioned by name) is a disgusting boyfriend-stealing whore who will sleep with anyone, and her family deserves better than that. High school shit or something you’d expect to see on Desperate Housewives or maybe Jerry Springer. Its author used cut-out letters like a ransom note and pasted a biohazard symbol at the bottom. It’s not what healthy people do. It’s more so the work of a narcissist dragging everyone into their bullshit. They are experts at character assassination. 

How dare they, right? Whatever happened between these people is their business, and I don’t care. Imagine someone cutting out all these letters to make a note like that? And God knows how many of these the person sent out! I found it appalling. Not my circus, not my monkeys, as they say. Come to think of it, I don’t have any of that chaos in my life these days, and I like it like that.

Aside from the heartbreak I feel as so many are still struggling to cope, I also have this stubborn enthusiasm that we may finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. And that has me talking up a storm lately with an energy I haven’t put forth in a while.

Hold on to your peace however you can, and you will be okay.

“I can be by myself because I’m never lonely; I’m simply alone, living in my heavily populated solitude, a harum-scarum of infinity and eternity, and Infinity and Eternity seem to take a liking to the likes of me.”― Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude

HOW TO WIN THE PRIZE IN A SMEAR CAMPAIGN

Smear campaigns. Some of you are familiar with them. It’s when someone is desperately trying to destroy another person’s reputation, beginning with his or her credibility. It’s not a situation where one caring person is confiding in another out of concern. It’s a hateful mission where the motives are insecurity and a need to do damage control.

I often speak out on this subject because I’ve seen it happen between friends (really frenemies), coworkers, lovers, and family members. The saddest thing is when it goes on in a recovery group where everyone is there to work on themselves and help each other. Why would you isolate and destroy vulnerable people who have likely suffered from narcissistic abuse and are working to correct learned behaviors?

It happens a lot. A friend of mine is a target of this right now. I’ve been a target myself in the past.

For some, including me, the obvious solution is to get out of this person’s circle abruptly, if necessary. If it’s impossible to avoid them entirely, I’d have as little contact as I can manage and refuse to participate. It’s easy to let them charm you when you’re hoping to resolve things, but confiding in them or pouring your heart out is usually a mistake. Just protect yourself. Let them say you abandoned them, rejected them, whatever they need to tell themselves. You don’t owe them a damn thing.

You may say, it isn’t right to have to sacrifice other relationships in a group by removing yourself. I think of it this way. Anyone successfully recruited in some war against you has never been in your corner. Your real friends will come to you. They will have your back and likely sever ties with the character-assassinating troublemaker. Sometimes people will go along with the narcissist to remain part of the crowd (like high school), but that’s not your problem. People believe what they want to believe.

I know it seems unfair, having to surrender without a fight. This person gets to win, and you don’t get to set the record straight. Let me repeat, TOXIC, as in detrimental to your health and well-being. Not worth it. If you’re dealing with the kind of person I’m talking about, you can’t fix it. The more you try, the worse it will get. Think “troll.” Yes, it’s like dealing with some internet troll. You’ll never get them to see things your way or empathize because they don’t really care about you. They’re not able to put themselves in your place. They’ll even take pleasure in your pain.

Humility is your friend here. Let your ego take the hit and move on. You trusted the wrong person. Cut your losses. You’re going to get good at this, and you’ll soon know to avoid these people like the plague, so you’re never in that predicament again.

Experiences like this are traumatic, but they help you learn and grow. They force you to look at whatever part you played in the whole mess, even if it was merely taking the bait from time to time. When we do that, we can easily say and do things that are ordinarily beneath us and, in doing so, strengthen the narcissist’s case. That’s why I say, drop the ball and run. It’s a trap, where you’ll always be damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

You’re dealing with dangerously fragile egos here. Because of what they experienced in life, they consciously or subconsciously, came to believe there is not enough love to go around. They see attention and admiration as a limited commodity. They need to feel they are more worthy and deserving of those things than you are, and second to none. They have to tell themselves they are the favorite, numero uno, the chosen one in every scenario. There are many reasons you may pose a threat. It can be anything. The damage control they do is to convince themselves and others that you are not better or more worthy because if you were, they couldn’t handle that. Underneath it all is an inner child seething with rage.

I’ll share a little story that explains, on a much lighter note, about taking the bait. My mother-in-law used to criticize me on unimportant things. She’d say something like, “She has everything in that diaper bag except the kitchen sink.” That would upset me because, like all new mothers, I wanted to believe I was handling things well. Instead of getting upset, I could have said something like, “Oh, no, the sink’s there. Check the zipper pocket.”

Here’s the key. It’s no fun for them if they can’t bring out the worst in you.

I’ve found it helpful, too, to figure out how I might have handled things better and how I can come out a better person. That’s not to say you weren’t a nice person before, or that I wasn’t, just that we are always striving to get better. What I’m saying is, when people tell you, “don’t lose the lesson,” that’s the critical part. That’s how you win. Continue to do the next right thing, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Live your best life and strive for greater understanding. What’s going to happen is, people will eventually know not to mess with you.

Feature photo by alan9187 from Pixabay

I Survived My Scary Ambulance Emergency Thing

So, here is the story of what happened this weekend.

I had a stereotactic guided core needle biopsy scheduled for Friday, August 16th. The place where I was having the procedure is affiliated with a good hospital.

Before the procedure, a nurse told me they would be using a local anesthetic called Lidocaine to numb the biopsy area. They cautioned me about driving. I live, maybe, four blocks away from this place and said I would walk. She thought that was a long walk! I don’t know, but I am from Queens, and we walked all over the damn place—nearly a mile, no sweat. Some people out here on Long Island are the same, but others think even two blocks is too far to walk. 😲

For the biopsy procedure, they had me sit in a chair, so they could take tissue samples to test. I didn’t feel a thing. It took a while and then even longer for them to come back and tell me they had biopsied the wrong area and had to do it all over again. I was reluctant because, at that point, I didn’t even know if I wanted to use their facility again. They told me my insurance would cover the second procedure. That was ridiculous because my out of pocket for that procedure was $600. I told them that wasn’t happening, and they suddenly decided I wouldn’t have to pay the second time.

I left then, and no one asked if I was okay. I’d forgotten all about the Lidocaine myself, to be honest. I made it about ¾ of the way home and then just fell like I was sliding into home plate. A woman came along and helped me to stand, but I couldn’t without her assistance. Then a second woman and two men came over and tried to get me to sit. They called an ambulance for me. I heard the EMTs talking in the back, and one said, “She was given Lidocaine for a biopsy. That could have made her dizzy.”

Once in the hospital, they took a bunch of x-rays. That was almost the worst of it, getting slung from bed to table and back again a bunch of times, but you hear people saying all this nice stuff about you. They were like, “Oh, this one’s easy, she’s light.” And, “You’re young.” Don’t know how many times I heard that, but okay. My son is thirty-four, but if you think I’m young, I’m not going to argue with you.

According to the x-rays, I fractured my left hip and also have something they called an impacted, nondisplaced left transcervical femoral neck fracture. The for-sure worst thing had to be the spasms that would shoot from my thigh down the leg, making me want to jump out of my body. The doctor said the nerve does that when the bone is broken. They did a hip pin where they placed a screw in there to hold it together. That stops the nerve from spasming like that. The surgeon did a fantastic job.

By now, however, I am an old hand at this fracture stuff. I sprained my arm at 15 when my friends and I got drunk once. I sprained my ankle twice as an adult and fractured my foot a couple of years ago. Maybe I am just too preoccupied with everything around me, always processing. HA! That’s probably not the reason, but life seems to fascinate me, no matter what is going on. I’m in the ambulance, I’m fascinated. Being wheeled into the OR, I’m fascinated. Giving birth, talking to people, eating, walking, listening to what happened to the patient next to me, I’m fascinated. It’s all so fantastic when you think about it. I know I can’t be the only one. There must be kindred spirits out there who feel the same way.

And things just amuse me so much.. Nurse: “When you go from walker to chair, just make sure the chair is under you.” Don’t know why I should find that so funny after what just happened to me, but she said, “You’d be surprised!”

I was thinking then; now I will be picturing that all day and laughing.

One of the doctors told me it could take almost a year for my hip to be 100% back to normal. When my physical therapist was here, I asked him about that, and he was shaking his head. He said, “I know you only five minutes, and I can already tell you’ll heal a lot faster than that. It isn’t going to take anywhere near that long.”

He is super kind, and the home care nurse was, too. She was at the door, all nervous, saying, “I’m the nurse.” I was like, “Well, hello, the nurse.” She laughed then. They must always be apprehensive about what they’re walking into because they deal with a lot of nastiness, people who are upset, angry, and scared. I’ve witnessed that with other people receiving care. I’m sure the home care team has to cut those people a lot of slack because they are patients and they’re sick, but these empathetic healers deserve way more appreciation and respect than they get.

Anyway, every experience, whether I want it or need it or deserve it or not has taught me so much about myself and others. And also, what to do, what not to do. It reinforces for me, too, in a divine way, really, that there are angels out there with beautiful hearts, and that most people do tend to have kind hearts.

What helps me, too, is everything I learned in recovery. Like the idea that you must accept the things you can’t control, control whatever is in your power to control. And then, there’s the part I added where you step up and embrace the challenge. If I hadn’t been able to do that in my life, I wouldn’t be here today.

Oh yes, and I have since looked up whether it’s common for a doctor or radiologist to biopsy the wrong area, and the truth seems to depend on who you ask. I found this cancer forum where laypeople thought it was unacceptable and would never go to that facility again. Medical professionals seemed to have more of an understanding of how that kind of thing can happen. One thing for sure is; you always get a second opinion, especially with biopsies. I knew a woman who thought she had ovarian cancer. I told her to get a second opinion and then a third if the second was different from the first. She did not have cancer.