Within my memory of  family, including grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles we all s struggle with some a demon or two.  These demons seem to stay with us, passed on to a new generation. Some would say they have no demons, and that the demons of another are just a mutation.  There is a thread of mental illness here, a bit of paranoia there.

I keep all of these demons in a metaphorical closet.  The door bulges from time to time and the demons threaten to escape their prison and leave a radioactive trail of destruction in their wake.

Some of the demons have taken root in me, but I fight not to let them take over.  In the closet you’ll find  my demons  and the demons of those who share my  bloodline.  The demons are stored in little potion bottles upon a shelf.  Mix them together and they’ll make a lovely toxic soup.  Look up at the shelf.  Suspicion, anger and weird religious based notions on the highest shelf.  Depression, darkness and isolation. Sanctimnious thoughts and hypocrisy.  Don’t touch that  pretty bottle over there…that little demon will tell you women are less than, even evil, that she-devil’s voice, she’s hard to get out of your head.  In the closet there is a tinfoil hat, to protect us from any sort of wordly common sense.

When I leave my inheritance, they key to the closet will be lost forever.  No need to pass the demons on to another generation.

Daily Prompt:Inheritance

Moves Like Jordan

We pulled into the parking lot  of  some might call the den of iniquity, more commonly  known as your typical American public high school.  No driver’s license yet, he still needs to catch a ride from mom now and then.  My son’s face breaks into a smile as he spots one of his skinny long legged teammates.  He leaps out of the car with a quick goodbye.

Leaving the parking lot, I spot all the usual sights.  Individuals much too manly to wear a winter coat.  Kids laughing, walking in to the school. The brisk weather makes their walk a bit more hurried, as if they have a sense of purpose for the day.

For about a minute, years ago, when my son was still shorter than me, I thought about homeschooling my kids, but it never happened.  I imagine if I had homeschooled my kids, at this point it would joyless for him.  A teen boy at home with his mom all day?  I’m not vain enough to imagine that I am the end-all and be-all of human companionship.  Plus there is no way I could teach calculus or physics or any other number of classes at this point.  And god forbid anything should cut into my internet surfing time on my days off. When my son shares something new that he learned from his day, I’m happy.  I don’t have a fear of my son being exposed to ideas that are new or different.

My son is more of a social animal than I am.  Well, actually lots of people are.  I imagine at this time, he and his friends are quickly gorging on lunch, while making quick conversation.  He is at that envious age where he can eat lots and lots of calories.

Sometimes he’ll tell me about a free minute at basketball practice where they clown about and pretend they are Michael Jordan or some other well known NBA star, name forgotten by me.  At the end of the day, on the way home from practice, in the car he and his friends will joke and give each other shit about something that happened during the day.

My son is happy and that means a lot to me.  I count myself lucky to observe his joyful, carefree moments.  Soon enough, he’ll have to cross over that treacherous gorge from childhood to adulthood.  We are in no hurry to have that happen.

Gorge: a narrow valley between hills or mountains with steep walls,  there may be a stream or river running through it.  It can also mean to stuff oneself with food.

Inspired by today’s daily prompt, gorge.

Never Ending Dysfunction

My sister has been staying at my mom’s house for a visit.  These visits are tremendously stressful for her because she will harbor the ideas of guilt of what she should be doing for her mom, but her ideas of what she could be doing rarely turn into action because she becomes quickly overwhelmed.  My sister and my mom can’t get along but they have this relationship where they can’t leave each other alone and I often play odd man out.

I went to visit, a bit of a drive from where I live.  I thought we would have some lunch and that would be it.  As soon as I get there, I can see my mother is struggling to keep up with being able to live alone.  I don’t know that she takes her meds appropriately.  Any suggestions of what could be done to make her life easier are instantly shot down.

At this point my mother is angry that we have confronted some of the issues that she struggles with.  She takes her anger out on my sister who has been drinking during her stay with my mom.  Now I more than anyone understand the anger and frustration with my sister’s drinking.   The things my mom says though are unspeakably cruel.  She calls her a slut multiple times, she says she wants nothing to do with her and that she(my sister) is not her daughter any more.

At this time my sister’s normal reaction is to bolt.  She usually ends up in a bar somewhere.  This time she tells me she can’t take her life anymore, she is depressed and wants to get help.

So we go to the emergency room and work our way through the system to see what can be done.  Her blood alcohol level is sky high.  The staff asks her lots of questions and her answers sometimes vary.  A physician asks her about the quantity she drinks each day.  On this occasion she says her drink of choice is wine(she drinks anything).  Once she tells him she drinks two glasses of wine.  Another time she tells him she drinks a box of wine a day.  “A box?” he says, puzzled, but then moves on.  I’m not sure the physician knew boxed wine was an actual thing.

My sister is directed to a treatment center eventually where she currently withdrawing from alcohol.  I hope it works.  Earlier in the week she had attended an AA meeting where she met a man who gave her more alcohol and tried to assault her.

I’m not sure what the answers are.  I pray that this time she can gain peace and sobriety.

Girl, you can’t leave

An old post, Window and Walls, that received some new traffic is the inspiration for this post.  I used to have a blog that mostly talked about religion and gender where I talked about my experiences growing up in a conservative, religious household.  My father’s family practiced what an Old World brand of Catholicism.   Between my mother and father an assortment of rules governed a very narrow path I was allowed to walk.  The rules weren’t always explicitly stated, you had to figure them out for yourself, and the rules could change at any time.

What I say here is more from an insider’s standpoint and a discussion of gender roles.  If you didn’t grow up in a religious conservative household you may not have the context to appreciate the bizarreness of this world.  It applies to men and women in these circles, not to men and women at large.

After high school, I did attend college.  I quit and eventually moved back home.  I found a job that paid well enough for me to live by myself.  I’d always known, being a girl, different rules applied to me.  I’m not sure that it was explicitly said many times, but in the back of my mind, I knew that even though I was an adult, I was not “allowed” to move out.  Of course in forbidding me to leave, they had to marginalize me in every way.  Marginalization is a common tactic to get the womenfolk to follow the rules.  Sometimes, though, it is the mothers who are the most cruel of all.

It sounds truly bizarre, but when I did eventually leave, it was almost like running away from home, like I had planned a jailbreak.

My parents didn’t view me as a fully functioning adult.  Besides dropping out of college, I didn’t quite get their reasoning.  Looking back it seems even stranger.  I hadn’t become pregnant before marriage, no criminal record, no drug use, no tattoos, weird piercing or hair colors.  I’d experimented a bit with alcohol, but hey my dad was an alcoholic.

The view that women aren’t fully functional adults until they marry is a common one is some religious circles.  Having attended Catholic schools for 12 years though, if I had classmates were brought up similarly, I didn’t know them.

One day years ago, I ran into groups online that seemed a lot like my parents.  I found the viewpoints more typical of some Protestant groups, but there are some Catholics that have these strange viewpoints as well.  They might fall under the label of complementarian, fundamentalism or red pill.  Men are alphas or betas.  The red pill women of course are all married to alphas, per their own definition of what an alpha is.

The religious conservatives are very concerned about gender roles.  They have an assortment of influences that guide their lifestyle. John Piper is notorious for spewing nonsense about gender roles.  Their leaders are always men, and just like the Matt Lauers and the Harvey Weinsteins, well boys will be boys.

They tend to be hyperfocused on gender roles, sex and marriage.  Other parts of the bible such as Matthew 25:35-45  seem to mean little to them.  On one blog I came across, a woman was essentially reproducing someone else’s copyrighted materials to sell and she seemed clueless that this was stealing.

These people make up their own rules about what is acceptable for each gender.  Appearance is very important for women.  You must wear dresses or skirts, not gain weight or let yourself go. Curiously though, the same rules don’t apply for the menfolk.  They can roll out of bed, not bother shaving, not bother tucking in their shirt, wear jeans and attend church right along with the women folk who must wear be properly primped and dressed.

I find it funny appearance is so important for the women, but not for the men.  My mom and dad weren’t fashionistas but there was a minimum code of formailty for a given occasion I think that has been lost today.  Modesty is sometimes important, because dontcha know if a man behaves inappropriately towards you, it is probably your fault for dressing the wrong way. If you don’t think our culture dresses right, that is fine.  I’ve been mixing it up with public school parents for years, some of the menfolk could improve their appearance.

A woman’s weight is tremendously important.  She should have gained only a few pounds if any since high school.  Conversely, men perhaps gaining 50 pounds since high school is A-okay.  My high school age son is not quite 6 foot, it is hard to imagine putting 50 pounds on him and calling that normal.  Of course when the men folk are concerned it is only about a woman’s health.  Maybe they should visit a cardiac rehab unit and compare the number of men and women…what you wouldn’t want to be logical?  When they are done comparing the amount of men and women, they can start comparing the ages of the participants.

Many that advocate these ultraconservative ways haven’t practiced what they preached, so why would you listen to them?  They’ve been divorced a time or two, had children by different fathers/mothers etc. etc.  One of the more curious examples is a woman who married a man who had a child out of wedlock and insists that he was some super in demand alpha.  I’m not sure what universe she lives in, but of the people I grew up with, no one was looking to marry someone who’d had a child out of wedlock.  I don’t mean this as cruel statement, just more of a statement of fact amongst the Catholics I grew up with.

Only a red pill man can install a ceiling fan, and only a red pill woman can bake a pie, according to the red pill adherents.  The rest of us are simply too dumb to take our gender roles seriously.  Never mind that my husband has done significant remodeling in the houses we’ve owned.  I guess he doesn’t know the rules, as he would rather eat glass than ruminate and cogitate over such issues.  He is more of a doer.

Dimming the Lights

Though I never subscribed, I used to be an avid reader of People magazine if I could get my hands on it.  If I could point to one thing that killed my interest it would be their endless coverage of the Kardashians. It  Gushy coverage about Angelina sure didn’t help.  Blake Shelton is the sexiest man alive?  Who knew?  I’m sure he is swell but he wouldn’t be my choice. And does People think we want to know about Ben Affleck’s new girlfriend?IMG_0816

The daughter of a B list celebrity used to live in my hometown.  I was always surprised to see how people would ooh and ah over her, particularly one reporter at the newspaper.  It felt like you could feel the slobber coming off the page when he would write about her.

I’m sure we have all had a celebrity we admired.  Maybe we still admire them.  The glow of celebrity started to dim when the media started treating them as experts on everything from childbirth to politics and they were given a voice to spout their nonsense.  I remember reading an article about a model’s very strident beliefs about home birth as the ideal years ago and feeling bothered.  Then I asked myself why would I be so stupid as to let a celebrity bother me.

Maybe the People magazine view of life offers something else to others.  Maybe it is a chance to distract ourselves from our own mistakes by wasting time thinking about someone else’s marriage, house, or criminal charges.  We can tear others down and speculate on the future failures of others…cough cough…not that I would ever do such a thing.  When it gets to that point for me, it is time to walk away and keep my eyes on my own paper.

You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine

There is a little voice in my head that tells me I should be the best possible version of me each day.  Seriously.  Acting on what the voice tells me is another matter. Unfortunately once the holiday season comes I struggle mightily with listening to the voice.  Who knew that Thanksgiving, the time we should be grateful, starts the season of bah humbug for some?

I’m told by some I should try to placate the needs of other family members during the holidays.  I try really hard.  Cooking and cleaning…I can do that.  But there is a giant voice that rumbles from within when my mom starts telling her latest tall tale.  Apparently we are distantly related to Good King Wenceslaus and our ancestral home is now Transylvania.  Whether this is a bit of mental illness, a bit of early dementia, or the natural extension of my mom’s need to be a social climber and present to the outside world that we are indeed very important people.  Not only are we very important, but we are important in a unique way, that is key.  For not everyone can claim their ancestral home is Transylvania. Speaking of good King Wenceslaus, I recently discovered that R.E.M. has their own  of the version song.  How did that escape me?  You would really have to be a big R.E.M. fan to listen to it, and like it.

I fell asleep in my clothes last night.  That is never good and makes one feel extra slovenly.  I felt slovenly and didn’t care to interact with the  world.   I went to the pharmacy in my hoodie and sat there waiting for my prescription trying to not make eye contact to the guy singing “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine“.  Of course he put extra emphasis on the lines “Late in the midnight hour, you’re going to miss my lovin”.  He added a part to the song involving back rubs that I don’t recall hearing before.  I don’t know if it was my hoodie and slovenly appearance, but his own brand of magic he was targeting at other female patrons, never came my way.  Now Lou Rawls has invaded my brain making me think about the lovin’ I am going to miss.