Thoughts on death

Warning: This post will talk extensively about death and it can get extremely uncomfortable. There’s a brief mention of sexual assault as well.

Hello, readers! I hope everyone is doing well! Since the title of this post may be a bit ominous, I just want to make it clear for everyone that I’m not planning on dying. At all. Well. At least not before I’m… about 85. I guess that’s a good number. Still 50 years to get there, and all that.

But yes, I have been thinking about death. Just not my own.

Not too long ago, my dad texted me to tell me my grandmother is back at the hospital, because she’s not eating. He says she’s fine, aware of her surroundings, talking to people… just not eating. So they took her to the hospital to monitor her. Not too long before that, she had been released from the hospital after a scare with her blood pressure.

My grandmother is very old. I mean, my father’s 66, so I believe she’s at the very least 86. He’s not even her oldest child. While everyone expects their relatives to live forever, we know it’s not realistic. She’s elderly. She suffers from high blood pressure and heart problems. Her Alzheimer’s is advanced enough that she remembers some people and not others, or remembers people some times and not at other times. We all know she’s not doing well.

So, I was thinking. When he texted me that he had gotten messages from our home town about grandma, I did think she was gone. I’ll admit I didn’t really start crying or anything – my relationship with her is so strained she explicitly told me I’m not her grandchild, so I stepped back. She’s still my father’s mother, though. And for this reason alone, I care.

All this threw me back to 20 years ago, when I lost my other grandmother. I was just 15, but I can remember everything as though it had happened yesterday. How could I forget? I lost someone I loved dearly, and not too long before that I was sexually assaulted. It was the summer from hell. Everything happened so fast I  never told anyone until it was way too late for everything to be done, because I just couldn’t think about anything else.

This one was a hit. But it was also made less impersonal than it could have been.

I have lost relatives in a big city and in a small town. My first experience was my uncle, in the big city I was born and raised. It was all very… distant from the actual experience. People told me he had passed away, I cried, and my parents went to the funeral. I didn’t. I was too young back then. I actually can’t remember exactly when I first set foot in a cemetery in my own city, and it was all too… cold. It had angels, and tall crosses, and all that, and… I don’t know, it felt… wrong to me. 

Then, I lost my grandmother, and, although it was a horrible pain I will never forget, everything was so involved. We all started moving and coming together. We had all lost someone we loved dearly. We were in this together. One was calling people to let them know. Another one was setting up the living room for the wake – the coffin was actually already there, it had been for a few days. Oddly enough, it didn’t strike me as weird? It might have been the grief, or just how… naturally, in a weird way, everything happened. Things were getting done. We were all busy. We got flowers. We told people. We cooked. We made coffee. We set up the house to welcome anyone who came. And people came. They started coming, and they kept coming. The house was filled with people. A structure near the house was filled too. Way more than 100 people came. People I didn’t know. People I knew but hadn’t seen in years. 

And there was warmth. People were embracing us, physically and emotionally. They were there. They were talking about how much they loved us, how much they loved my grandmother. They were telling us about what a generous woman she was, and what fond memories they had of her. They were telling us ‘I’m here if you need me’, and they meant it.

In the morning – she passed away at around 2 am -, we were all there. Ready to go to the local cemetery. We all walked there – small town, after all. And it was… simple. And the cemetery itself made me feel at peace. It was just plaques with the names, date of birth and death. It wasn’t oppressive. It was up on a hill, and you could see and hear the sea from there.

I said my last goodbye to my beloved grandmother, left some flowers there, and some at my grandfather’s grave too. And then we went home, with all of those people still supporting us.

I don’t know if it’s like that everywhere, but in a small, heavily Catholic town, we have what people are now calling death positivity. No, we don’t like death, of course. Who does? But it’s something that happens. And you’re open about it. You gather your family. And your friends. You don’t have to ask people to come. They will come anyway. They will fill your home. And the wake will happen at home, with family there. It’s… different.

My other grandmother won’t have this. She won’t die at home, I believe. She’ll probably die at a hospital. A stranger will dress her. She will be driven to the cemetery. A cemetery that is just… wrong. And I’m not sure many people will be there. Two of her children have passed away. Two of them live in other states, and might not make it to the funeral. That leaves three of them. Maybe a few grandchildren will show up. But maybe not, everyone is so busy.

I don’t have a relationship with her. She made this choice almost 30 years ago. But it still makes me sad to know that she won’t go surrounded by love and warmth, with her family around her.

Such is the reality of this situation. I guess me being sad won’t fix anything. I can’t drop everything and rush to her side. I’m not even wanted there. I can’t take her home and make sure she sees a familiar and loving face every day until she goes. I can’t do anything.

And I wish I could.

I just hope she goes as peacefully as possible. That’s all I can hope for from here, across the country.

Well. I don’t really know why I wrote about this. I just had to get those thoughts out there. 

Thank you for reading, if you did, and see you all on the next post. A less morbid one, hopefully.

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Random thing I like: werewolves

Hello, people! How are you all? Well, I hope.

I’m… doing better, so I’m back here to ramble on about something you probably don’t even care much about. Yes, children, this crazy lady is gonna talk about werewolves today. 

Why werewolves? Because. Just because. To be honest, it’s just one of those themes one is fascinated about for no other reason than because they’re fascinating.

My story with werewolves (no, sorry, I don’t know an actual werewolf – or that’s my story and I’ll stick to it) started early on in my life. My mother comes from a very small town, and, being born in 1950, she grew up during a time in which they didn’t have electricity (it was a gas motor that lit everything, and it was turned off at night). Darkness brings fear. Fear brings legends. And there was often a legend about the local werewolf.

Werewolf legends come from very early on in history (if you go way back to Greek mythology, you’ll find the story of King Lycaon, who served human flesh to Zeus and was punished with a curse), and vary some from place to place. What they have in common is that these monsters are often cursed, and are humans who turn into wolves or a mix of wolf and human, often during the full moon.

The reasons for the curse of the werewolf are various. In my mother’s small town, the werewolf was the seventh male child of any family. And you know he was a werewolf because he looked pale and tired, and often avoided religious symbols and refused to go to church.

And, according to the local version of the myth, you got rid of the curse by cutting a limb off of the afflicted. They would stop changing, and would, naturally, not have that cut limb for the rest of their days. I’ve heard this story several times before I could even read, and it became ingrained in my psyche.

As I got older, I started reading about legends and myths, and watching movies – when my parents weren’t watching, of course. I became completely fascinated with those cursed creatures. They were tortured monsters, and something about me just felt a rapport with those monsters. I was curious about them, and, even though they were often included in scary movies, I was much more interested in their plight than anything going on around them.

Then I became even older and started branching out into the online world and the roleplaying game world, roughly at the same time.

And during my incursions on both worlds, I started learning of a roleplaying game about werewolves. You could read about a long history and varied culture, about myths and legends, about how one became a werewolf, and you could ‘become’ one yourself, by creating a character hailing from tribes all over the world and playing them with other people.

I was hooked. Curiosity caused me to go after the books. I got the second edition (yes, I’m old) and gobbled it up. Then the third. When I was reading the third edition, I met some people who were into the game as well. We talked, and tentatively started writing together. Then we created a group, our own personal lore, and our own pack. It was a lot of fun. That group sadly fell apart due to the Storyteller’s ego not accepting that her characters were not the center of everyone’s world.

I was out of a group again, but as soon as the 20 year anniversary edition came out, I met other people who wanted to play. And we did, for a while.

Now I’m out of a group again, but my fascination will never die. I’ll always love werewolves, I’ll always love writing about them as though I’m one of them, and, maybe, I’ll write something about them in the near future.

Okay, I’ve rambled on enough already, haven’t I?

I think I’d like to hear about your themes of interest now. What themes are you kind of obsessed with? Share them with me, you might teach me a  new obsession!

See you all on the next post!

The writer isn’t here today

Hello, readers! How are you all? Well, I hope! I’m… alive. The past few weeks have been rough on my mental health, but I’m doing the best I can to take care of myself. I’ll just need some time, but I’ll be back on my feet soon. 

Despite being pretty meh lately, I still want to at least drop in a post to… well, to post.

I’m here, I’m doing relatively fine, I’ll be okay.

I just need a break to get back to being myself, and to keep on writing abut things you all probably don’t care that much about.

See you all soon!

 

On self harm

Hello, dear readers! How are you all? Well, I hope!

First of all, don’t panic – I haven’t vanished. I have just been busy with work and with my second blog, in Portuguese, which I have been working to establish. If you know Portuguese (or don’t) and want to check it out, it’s linked on the sidebar!

Second, the title of this post should be enough, but the warning that we’ll discuss self-harm on this post is important. If you feel that this is not a theme you want to read about, please stop here. 

I will have to admit to an uncomfortable truth – I used to self-harm when I was younger. Often.  

It was something I knew I was doing, but I wasn’t strong enough, at the moment, to stop myself. It was and is hard for people who don’t do it to understand, but I thought I would talk just a little about it.

My mental health, for many reasons, was always unstable, sadly. I can’t remember a time in my life when I was completely balanced. But that’s probably a conversation for another day. 

I can’t remember exactly when I started self-harming. I can’t remember exactly when I stopped either. I do remember that I had already stopped when I moved into the apartment where I live now – so, I can say I haven’t hurt myself on purpose for at least five years. 

Being someone who has done it in the past, I thought I would talk about it a little.

When my mother found out I used to self-harm, her first question was: are you trying to kill yourself?

No. I wasn’t. If I wanted to kill myself, I would have done it. Very quickly. I’m not going to describe methods here, because that would be irresponsible, but if I wanted to kill myself, then or now, I could have done it. I don’t want to do it. I like being alive.

Back then, though, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t know I was mentally ill. I just knew I was hurting.  And I knew I had to do something. So, I did what I knew how to do, and masked the emotional pain with physical pain. It was so easy, I spent so much time alone at home with my brother. He was so focused on the TV, I just needed to slip into the kitchen and steal a knife, and go to my room. 

It worked. In a dysfunctional way, it did. I didn’t know how to deal with my inner pain without making myself feel another kind of pain. I was young and dumb. I didn’t have help – therapy came years later.

This post is becoming rambly, but I just want to dispel a few myths.

  1. People who self-harm are trying to kill themselves. Usually not. They are usually looking for something to distract them from their inner pain. And physical pain is something that works.
  2. People do it because they want to, and can just stop whenever they want. Not me, at least. For me, it was an addiction. It was a drug I didn’t have to buy. It was just there in my kitchen waiting for me. It took therapy and learning healthier coping mechanisms for me to stop hurting myself for good. And I still think about it, every day. I don’t do it anymore, but the urge is there.

Well. This post was… kind of hard to write, I’ll be honest. But it’s one of those things I just have to say. I have to get it all out, and to stop thinking my mental health is something I should be ashamed of. It’s not. It’s something I need to work on – true. But it’s not something ‘wrong’ I’m doing. I’m not doing anything. I’m not looking for attention, or trying to hurt anyone around me.

And if you struggle with your mental health, neither are you. You’re hurting, and it’s okay to admit that. Ask for help. And know that, even if you fail every now and then until you can find better ways to cope with your pain, it’s okay. It’s not your fault. It gets better.

Much love and appreciation for anyone who reads this. 

 

The healthcare saga continues

Hello, readers! How are you all? Well, I hope!

After the horrible MRI event, I had yet to post an update, and it wasn’t because I forgot (though it could have been, I forget everything). It was because I was still waiting to see my doctor in order to talk about what was going on inside me.

So, the good news: my insides are less rotten than I expected them to be. Instead of two health problems, I only have one. Small victories, right? My doctor was extremely good about listening to me and talking to me about my options – at this point, medication ‘to see how it goes’ or surgery to fix it once and for all. Surgery would mean that I won’t be able to have babies in the future, which, well… is a non-issue, since even if I do want children at some point, I fully intend on adopting, regardless of my biological ability to have them from my own body. 

Much to my surprise (which is sad for our state of affairs – a patient should not have to be surprised at that), she simply presented me with the consequences (no babies), made sure I understood them, and that I was sure I was okay with them. You know, as you do with adults who are able to answer for themselves. Once we were both clear on the fact that yes, I know surgery means no babies, and no, I do not want babies, and I am making an informed and adult decision, since I planned on getting surgical sterilization anyway, she referred me to a colleague, since she is sadly not a surgeon.

I confess I am a bit anxious because it is a male colleague, and I haven’t had the best of experiences with male doctors taking female issues and my right to make choices seriously. Still, I read some reviews after googling his name and hitting  a site that’s kind of Yelp for doctors in my state, and it seems like his previous patients are very happy with him. 

So, I’ll have to set up an appointment with him and hope for the best.

Fingers crossed, and will have an update on the healthcare saga after the next appointment. For now, I’m cautiously optimistic.

See you all on the next post!

Raised by a narcissist

Hello, readers! How are you all? Well, I hope!

I come here today to talk a little about my own life experience. Before I begin, I’ll just warn anyone that this post will not be pleasant, as it deals with emotional abuse. This is your final warning.

Now that we’re past the warning, I’ll preface this by saying that I love my parents dearly, I really do. Even my mother. But she’s a narcissist. And being raised by her has damaged a lot of stuff in me.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, or particularly organized. It’s mostly me sharing some of the things that happened to me, things I didn’t even notice were not the norm while I was growing up.

  1. I was blamed for things I ‘did’ even before I was born. For as long as I can remember, she talks about how I made her suffer while she was pregnant, in an accusatory intonation. I also stopped nursing at 3 months old because I hated her, not because – who knows, I was a baby.
  2. I could never have anything nice. Any time she gave me something I loved, she took it away by forcing me to give it to someone else.
  3. I was never treated as me, but as a reflection of her. I had to be perfect, or else.
  4. I was treated so much worse than my brother, that at some point, when I was around six, I decided I had to be adopted. I just couldn’t believe someone would treat her own child like she treated me.
  5. She was always trying to change me. She ruined my hair with chemicals to make it straight. She wanted me to hide my developing breasts because ‘none of my classmates had them’. She yelled at me in front of the school if I had torn a bit of my clothing playing, because ‘I looked like a homeless person and she was ashamed of me’. She refused to even ride the same elevator as me and pushed me to the service elevator because ‘I was dressed like a maid anyway’.
  6. She used me to please others. I remember my body autonomy being stripped of me very early on. I was forced to hug people, and let people kiss me, to the point where I now hate being touched. I was also supposed to suffer to please others. Such as when I had surgery and my grandmother (another narcissist who had formally informed me I’m not her grandchild when I was around 6) decided to offer to ‘keep me company’ as soon as I came back from the hospital. Of course, her ‘keeping me company’ meant that every time I was trying to rest, she would call me to change the channel on TV or call someone for her, to the point where I was tired and in pain at the end of the day. And then my mother refused to tell her she couldn’t come back, ‘because it was gonna hurt her feelings’. I had to do it myself.
  7. She used to take my things and give them to her friends, even as an adult, as the time she had one of her friends stay with us for a few days and gave away my favorite house dress ‘because she liked it’. I got this one back because I called her friend and demanded my dress back.
  8. She used to covertly insinuate that I had an inappropriate relationship with my father. Now, I’ll admit that my dad did and does enable her. He’s been married to her for 40 years, so I guess it is to be expected. But he has my back, as much as he can, and we have a lot in common. So the fact that we often go to a nice little café – she never wants to go, even if we invite her – means something disgusting is happening between us.

Well… I think that’s it. At least that’s what I can remember now. I’m sure there’s more, but these are the points that stand out the most to me. What’s sadder is that, as a child, I didn’t see anything abnormal about all of that. I thought every mother-daughter relationship was strained. I thought I was bad – until I started meeting my classmate’s moms, and they started commenting on what a good child I was. I used to envy kids who had divorced parents, because if my parents would only divorce, I could live with my dad, because he would need someone to cook his food and do his laundry, after all. 

I don’t really know why I wrote this post, to be honest. I just felt like venting a little, and well… any writing still counts as writing, right? Even if it’s intensely personal.

Now is your turn to speak. Is there anything about your own life you thought was normal just to find out it wasn’t, at all? Share with me in the comments!

See you on the next post!

Being a woman is a daily battle

Hello, readers! How are you all? Well, I hope!

Today, I come here again for a bit more rambling. I’m almost sorry about that. Almost.

Before I get started, some context:

  1. I’m a cisgender female, so I can’t talk about the experience of a transwoman;
  2. I’m a Brazilian woman living in Brazil, so I can’t talk about the experience of women elsewhere.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the theme of the post, shall we?

I’m a single woman, and chose not to have children. I don’t have a problem with anyone choosing not to, but this is my choice. I’m mostly asexual, which means I’m not interested in having sex with anyone, and I’m romantically attracted to men and women. This is me, this is my reality, and, unless asked for details, I’ll keep to myself. 

I’m also a college educated woman working on a highly male-dominated field. And living in a very sexist country.

What are the challenges this presents?

  1. Men consider themselves entitled to my body, since I’m there and apparently available;
  2. I’m considered the perfect fuck buddy because since I don’t want kids, that’s all I’m good for, right? Who cares about what I want?;
  3. I’m being constantly judged (more than men) by my appearance, how I wear or style my hair, how much I weight, what I like to wear, etc;
  4. I’m considered much less competent than my male peers by my customers, who go from believing exactly what I have said when it comes from a male to outright refusing to speak to me or let me provide service;
  5. I have to fear for my life all the time, and not know whether or not my life partner (not that I have one now, but you get it) will be the one to kill me;
  6. I have to deal with my pain being ignored in medical settings because I’m probably overreacting (according to several providers’ opinion);
  7. I don’t have reproductive autonomy – abortion is a crime in the country, and getting approved for sterilization – even if you have a medical reason why getting pregnant will be unhealthy/dangerous – is nearly impossible if you don’t have children. It’s so bad I’m actually being denied treatment for a medical issue because the best course of treatment would render me sterile. Yes, things are that bad here.

This is just what I can think of right now, as general challenges women face in my country.  I know women in other countries have other challenges – some of them even worse, just like honor killings, which we generally don’t have here.

I also have to say I know that I face less challenges than other women. I come from a structured family. My parents were both hard workers and able to provide me with a comfortable life. We were not (and are not) rich, but our basic needs were always met. Education was considered important in my family, and I managed to graduate college without debt, through getting a good scholarship and having a father who was able and willing to cover the rest of my tuition, leaving me to cover only the cost of books, copies, etc.

I was able to find a decently paying job and keep it when I moved to another state, through my own hard work and having an understanding boss.

Overall, I do have a pretty good life. I know that. I know I have come into this world and lived life with privileges a lot of other women don’t have.

And my life would still be easier had I been born a man.

Phew, that was a hell of a rant, wasn’t it? I’m done, I promise. And it’s your turn now. Why don’t you share your woes with me – regardless of your gender?

See you all on the next post!