Monthly Archives: December 2015

Finished this book: Gardens in the Dunes (by Leslie Marmon Silko)

Cover of Gardens in the Dunes by Leslie Marmon Silko

Cover of Gardens in the Dunes by Leslie Marmon Silko

This is a lovely, layered, complex book weaving together the stories of many people connected to two sisters of the Sand Lizard tribe, Indigo and Sister Salt, back around the turn of the last century.

There were three themes I really enjoyed. One is the ways in which difference and similarity are interwoven. For example, When Indigo sees some ancient pre-Christian European statues, she immediately recognises Bird Woman and Snake Woman from her own beliefs. These kinds of interconnections are made throughout the book and by multiple characters.

The second theme is that of personal agency. Although Indigo is still a child when her life starts taking unexpected turns, she is always thinking about how she can and should act to survive, to be reunited with her family, and to continue the important work of looking toward the future and the past. Continue reading

Living Alone and Loving It (I Can’t Wait)

 

Blogger sonofabeach96 posted My Nurture Trumps My Nature the other day, in which he talks a bit about his solitary nature and how that works with his married-with-kids life. He was inspired by blogger Kim who has started Who But You (the living alone project), a blog series about living alone.

I really enjoyed reading through these posts. There have only been two times in my life when I have lived alone, and I have loved it. The last time was for the year after my divorce. It was a very tough year in some ways: major home renovations, the emotional aftermath of divorce, my health taking a nosedive, and the coldest winter in over a century (with only me to walk the dogs and shovel the walks).

But in other ways it was delicious. Continue reading

Best Relationship Quote Ever

Okay, so by now you all know that I love Captain Awkward’s advice. I’m slowly making my way through the archives, and the other day I came across the best relationship quote ever.

You know how we always talk about how relationships (friendships, family relationships, love relationships) take work? That we have to expend effort to get something back, and so forth? Well, I always thought of the “work” in this equation as something unpleasant. As in: the effort expended when things are going well isn’t actually work, but the stuff you have to do to repair or maintain a crappy relationship / friendship is what we mean by “work.” Continue reading

Research is important but it’s not necessarily accurate

Rumpydog posted yesterday about a study comparing dog people to cat people. I was intrigued, but also (as usual) prepared to be hypercritical of research assumptions and methodologies, and in particular the “commonsense” taken-for-granted beliefs that shape the initial formulations of hypotheses. I love good research and an armful of endnotes, but part of what I love about it is looking for flaws. (Although when you point out my typos I will be embarrassed and probably need a bunch of cookies for comfort.) Continue reading

Happy Holidays

Hi everyone! I don’t reblog much, but I was entertained and moved by this lovely glimpse into the life of an assistance dog and her family. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And while this post offers a very gentle reminder about assistance dog etiquette (and the logistics and rationale behind it), part of the story pissed me off enough that I’d like to remind everyone to not only BACK OFF when you see a working dog but also to keep your damned kids under control. Of course, out-of-control kids are always a pet peeve of mine, haha! Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have eaten so many sugary delicious shortbread cookies before this attempt at a reblog…?

I guess I’ll head outside with the dogs and we’ll inspect the yard for toys and new smells. Have fun slipping into Emma’s world for a while!

Big Brown Eyes

1bHappy Holidays Everybody!

Phew – there’s a lot going on at home just now.

A big ‘thank you’, licks and nuzzles to everyone who sent me get well wishes. My paw is a lot better now.

On Saturday just passed, we celebrated 19 months of my partnership with Mammy.
Daddy & Mammy simply can’t think what life would be like without me. I’ve heard them say that I completely changed their World. This appears to be a good thing – at least, it results in biscuits and fuss on a regular basis, so I’m assuming it’s a good thing.

On Thursday, Daddy and I will be taking Mammy out for her birthday. Between you and I and the water bowl, we’re probably going to go somewhere to feed the humans and then Daddy and I are taking Mammy to the theatre.
Daddy is in pantomime for his very first time…

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Saw this movie: Pirates of the Caribbean

It’s hard for me to watch movies. Two hours is a long commitment to invest in something that I know in advance will likely irritate me. Also, I find it hard to sit still for that long. Also, by the time I am ready to watch TV in the evenings, it is usually less than two hours to my bedtime, and I hate stopping shows or movies in the middle.

But I was feeling tired and cranky this weekend, so I cancelled most of my plans. On Saturday night, I stayed home with my animals (missing what I bet was a fabulous night of techno music at the Pyramid, but at least my ticket was only $10 so I wasn’t too regretsy) and decided to take a chance on a movie.

I wanted something entertaining and light but not too light—because most comedy movies leave me cold. I cracked open a bottle of wine (and was I ever surprised to see it had a cork instead of a screwtop; I’m drinking classy booze now, apparently!), Continue reading

Surrounded by Addicts

Sometimes that’s what it feels like. There’s addiction in my family, but people don’t talk about it much, if at all. I learned all the childhood things you learn in an alcoholic family system. Although I had no words to explain what was going on, I internalised the behavioural patterns that go along with this dynamic.

Almost every dating or cohabitation partner I have had has turned out to have a drinking or drug problem (or both) except for my very first love (who was Muslim, so the no-alcohol thing was part of the package).

The addictions of my partners keep taking me by surprise. I like to think I am a pretty smart and perceptive person, but if you want to figure out who’s the addict at any given party, take me along and see who I start hitting on. I’ll hop into bed with them, then fall in love and move in, but it will seriously take me weeks or months or even years to wake up one day and realise I’ve done it again. To realise I am once again emotionally and financially entangled with an addict. It makes me ragingly furious at how I’ve internalised all their bullshit, how low my self-esteem has plummeted, how stupid I have been in not seeing it coming, how naive and ignorant I am in this area. It makes me doubt myself and all my perceptions, in a way that reinforces the effects of the addict’s gaslighting and crazymaking of me during the relationship.

Basically, by the end of these relationships, I am a hot mess. I’ve believed the lies they told me to explain the red eyes and the missed appointments and the headaches and the late work nights. I’m the stable, rational, competent one who keeps the household running even though I don’t know where all the money is going and my partner is always too sick or too busy to help out. I’m generally kind of suspicious and cynical, so I am always convinced that of course I would know it if something was going on, of course I would know if my partner was drinking or doing drugs, of course nothing would slip by me.

But it slips by me all the time. And by all the time, I mean five of the seven actual relationships I’ve had over my lifetime. (One-night-stands and brief fun flings have been excluded from this study.) After my last split-up,  I decided it was time to end this ridiculous cycle, and so I resolved not to get into another relationship for at least a year.

That first year of living alone was hard, but also wonderful. It’s been three years now, and I’m still single, and I still love it. But I have not yet broken the cycle. A person with whom I am very close (but not romantically) is an addict. And our relationship has now moved into the part where the addict occasionally treats me like shit while I keep trying to smooth things over because obviously people are drunks or druggies because they are so miserable, so why would I add my anger to the mix?

For a long time, I thought I was bringing this upon myself. By being too nice, or too bitchy, or too frigid or slutty or naive or whatever. In a way, that is probably true—not that I am too anything, but that the pattern of interaction with addicts is familiar to me. I do not see the warning signs because I have been raised and trained and reinforced not to see them. This is a huge blind spot for me.

The disease model of alcoholism and addiction says that this is a biochemical disorder or predisposition to addiction. But you can be sick (cancer, AIDS, PTSD, common cold, depression,) and not be an asshole. Whereas addicts all turn out to be assholes in the end, even if they were lovely and kind people to begin with. I prefer the behavioural model of addiction because it more accurately reflects my experiences with a long chain of addicts. Behaviour is something that is learned and can be unlearned and replaced with other things.

Also, it helps me to remember that their actions are a result of their choices. Addicts will use all kinds of excuses and justifications for why they get high. A classic one within romantic relationships is “I wouldn’t need to drink if you were only nicer / more understanding / less demanding / willing to fuck more often / etc.” and this obscures the fact that the drug use is in fact a choice. And if it doesn’t feel like a choice—if the addict is really at the point where it feels like it’s no longer a matter of free will—well, being a manipulative jerk is still a choice. Emotionally abusing your partner is still a choice. Refusing to take responsibility for your own actions is still a choice. There is nothing I ever did as a teenager or a middle-aged woman or any in-between age that forced anybody in the world to take a drink or snort a line. That was their choice, every single time.

And my choice, every single time, has been to walk away. It has often taken a lot of time and agonising and therapy and journalling and crying myself to sleep, but in the end I have always decided not to stick around to be the Helpmeet Scapegoat. It is not noble or admirable to let yourself be treated like garbage under the guise of being a good, loving partner. Helping other people only goes so far: I don’t require effusive thanks and gratitude, but I DO require that people not try to blame me for their own actions. I prefer to be surrounded by people who take ownership of and responsibility for their own lives.

Which brings me to this person in my life. Yes, I have known for ages that he is an addict. I love him and worry about him. But now we have progressed to the stage where he is both leaning on me and treating me disrespectfully. And it’s been kind of a wake-up for me this week to realise that despite remaining single-on-purpose for three years, despite all my self-congratulations on how wisely I am keeping myself safe and breaking the cycle, I am right back here again. I thought the danger was in romantic relationships, but it’s not. The danger is in my huge blind spot. The blind spot that lets me Wile.E.Coyote off the edge of the cliff. Right now, I am suspended in mid-air, looking down with a comical expression of surprise and dismay, while the audience groans “Not again! When will she ever learn???”

They say people re-enact situations to try for a different outcome. If that’s the case, I feel like I am seriously failing at this lesson. I’m mad at myself for letting myself get into this situation again. But I can see two good things: The first is that I now know this problem can come from anywhere, not just romantic relationships. This is a valuable lesson.

And the second thing? I have been through this before. I know I am strong enough to survive it.