I spent a lot of time last year looking at my life, going over the things I was doing, and deciding what I really wanted and what I could afford to let go of. What I needed to change.
This year is the year of cleaning up. I will clean up my own messes.
When I left my wife three years ago, I created a ton of chaos in my life, most of it financial. I hadn’t gotten to the point where I could do anything about it. There was always a reason why I didn’t have to look at it yet. I was busy working, or I didn’t have any disposable income, or my child support was too high for me to do anything with what little money I did have.
Always something, right?
This year, I sat down and took a look at my life and all the things that I had up against me. I made a list of all the things that stood between me and being the successful, healthy, well-adjusted person that I want to be. It’s kind of a long list. I had tax debts due to math errors and bad paperwork. I had personal debts – not credit cards – but bank accounts and the like. Stupid debts. I had student loans in default. I had child support. When I had it all written out, it was all so entangled that I had to enlist help just to make sense of it all.
I called my dad.
He’s good at seeing things the way they really are, and he didn’t have the same attachment to all the problems that I did. The emotional attachments, the shame of having strewn wreckage over every part of my life. He helped me get it battered down to a set of steps. Now, I’m going through and plugging each of those steps into place.
My life is getting better, and I feel better for having actually taken the steps to make it be so. It’s a long path, and there’s a lot left to do, but this year, I will make the life that I want to be living.
I’m Tired I’m tired of acquiring but never keeping nice things; possessions I work arduously for that are torn up, soiled or otherwise destroyed. I’m tired of endless piles of laundry, clothes strewn across the floor, indistinguishable as clean or dirty, but washed again nonetheless. I’m tired of chaos, of the arguing, of the drama and constant conflict that ages my soul. I’m tired of being shown how for granted I’m being taken. I’m tired of never knowing if I’m coming or going. I’m tired of feeling responsible for the complete care of everyone else and sacrificing my own care of self. I’m tired of feeling chronically exhausted. I’m tired of my complaints and concerns being pushed aside, minimalized and marginalized. I’m tiring of knowing “things could always be worse” as a means to not being able to be entitled to my emotional journey. I’m tired of listening to others during their times of deepest sorrow, frustration or fear and being a pillar of strength for them but rarely being given my own time to grieve. I’m tired of being told I’m hormonal. I’m tired of having my emotions rationalized for me. I’m tired of being expected to “deal with it” and accept that “it’s just part of being a parent” or “being an adult”. I’m tired of feeling like I cannot still express my inner child, have big dreams and be encouraged to chase them. I’m tired of adults bullying other adults. I’m tired of divisiveness and actions that only perpetuate further trauma and abuse. I’m tired of being an angry white female. I’m tired of feeling threatened by PRIVILEGED WHITE MEN I’m tired of fearing for my own safety, bodily autonomy and well-being EVERY DAY. I’m tired of, when expressing my concerns and frustrations, being called names like snowflake, FEMINAZI, bitch and CUNT. I’m tired of working myself until I’m literally ill and yet still feeling immense guilt for purchasing that $19 shirt at Target. I’m tired of the pressure to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect daughter/sister/nurse. I’m tired of attachment titles. I’m tired of being expected to take a side when my beliefs lie somewhere in the middle. I’m tired of women having no safe place to candidly talk and share without fear of persecution, name calling or mean-spiritedness. I’m tired of male violence against women. I’m tired of watching so many of my fellow brothers and sisters continue to live lives full of anger, resentment and self-entitlement, oblivious to their own inner demons. I’m tired of Dr. Google. I will always side with evidence backed scientific studies. I’m tired of watching parents put their children at risk for a lifetime of illness because of a handful of conspiracy theorists. I’m tired of trying to explain facts to those same people and them finding a means to justify EVERY SINGLE TIME. So, I’m tired of selective ignorance where there is a literal WORLD of information at mere fingertips. I’m tired of reckless, self-serving decisions of others that may adversely affect countless people. I’m tired of online battles, egocentric conversations and people’s inability to say “I’m sorry” or “I was mistaken”. I’m tired of being oppressed because of my gender. I’m tired of being objectified because of my outward appearance. I’m tired of consistently having to maintain a stern exterior to protect my children and myself from pervasive predators. I’m tired of mean, bitter people. I’m tired of always being strong. I’m tired of being responsible for everyone’s emotions, blatantly disregarding my own. I’m tired of letting things roll off my back all the while knowing they will puncture me on the way down. I’m tired of pretending I’m always unbreakable. I’m tired of violence, both via the media and in the world. I’m tired of endless wars, of which neither party will ultimately win. I’m tired of our elected officials, having taken oaths to serve citizens and country, acting like nothing more than selfish, insecure middle school children. I’m tired of relentless mind games, fear mongering and empty threats. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of taking on all of this weight. I’m tired of being accused of attacking others when I can no longer keep it all in and finally break down and speak my mind. I’m tired of the fragile male ego and the need of constant reassurance. I’m tired of watching women lessen themselves to help a man feel significant. I’m tired of toxic masculinity. I’m tired of men trying to justify their bad behavior as “urges” or “needs” or the old adage “boys will be boys”. I’m tired of watching the world in its current state; its destroyers in utter denial. I’m tired of ALL THE GREED- It has caused abuse, war, human mutilation and countless children’s deaths. I’m tired of society’s RIDICULOUS expectations of the ideal female form. I’m tired of fake tits, tight asses and flat tummies. I’m tired of men expecting “perfection” in a woman while they fill their ever expanding waistlines with chicken wings and beer. I’m tired of the ass-patters, the at-a-boy-ers. I’m tired of seeing blame shifting, scapegoating and flat out lying all in pathetic attempts to save face and avoid accountability. I’m tired of feeling stretched far too thin, always dancing on the edge, but never actually jumping. I’m tired of cooking countless dinners, only to have them picked at by children. I’m tired of washing dishes with tears of frustration in my weary eyes because the dinner I made and threw out was the last of the food budget. I’m tired of pretending to be OKAY. I’m tired of never being allowed to own my feelings. I’m tired of sharing and being condemned for doing so. I’m tired of hard swallows and “I’m fines” through gritted teeth and clenched fists; anxiety attacks in the bathroom between motherly duties. I’m tired of pushing through my own emotions inappropriately in order to quickly address the needs of others. I’m tired of finger pointing; defensive, argumentative conversations. I’m tired of waiting for inevitable civil war, feeling riddled with anxious anticipation EVERY DAY. I’m tired of the pandemic that is disrespect, both for others and self. I’m tired of trying to fix everything. I’m tired, I’m tired. I’m tired… I think it’s time I rest.
I originally wrote this for my blog this past September and it remains one of my favorite writings to date. Thanks for reading!
Fortunately, my daughter Sam, who has ben recently diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, has medical insurance through her employer.
As long as she can keep her job during all of her treatment, it covers a fair amount of some of her costs. At least after her catastrophic cap was met for the year (didn’t take too long to reach it).
We all consider the deductibles and copays, and prescription copays in our lives, but be sure to check your policy on investigative drugs. Medical trials. Travel and time off work. Did you know that many insurances do not cover care if the “Standard of Care” doesn’t work? Some don’t cover food unless it’s eating out instead of buying a loaf of bread and lunch meat. Some only will cover hotel rates available to AAA members in the 1950s. Some will pay a portion of their “idea” of what your gas should cost, but only on the DATE of your appointment, even if you’ve had to drive out of state the day before or after.
Pray you never need to know the intricacies of your health insurance. Even if you mange to jump though the right hoops and snag every receipt, it would take a team of dedicated government trained legal assistants to maneuver through the paperwork. Oh, and then you can wait for over a year for any reimbursement.
Moral of the story.
Including your 20-something year old child should have some type of additional policies, because my 20-something had never been sick in her life. She had to use her insurance for the first time and we learned a very hard lesson: chronic health issues and cancer do NOT care about your age, your gender, your race, your educational level, or your income bracket. Buy that add-on policy you pray you never have to use. I mean, yeah, it’s going to crimp on picking up that name brand mayonnaise, skip a few cups of designer coffee or don’t upgrade your phone to get it, because you don’t know how important it can be.
Pray you never need it, never have to walk this walk or fight this fight while being financially sucker punched at every turn.
Traveling 400 miles for treatment in Houston, TX, at MD Anderson alone adds up. Lodging is expensive. On her third trip out of state, she and I were in Houston away from home and family for several weeks straight. After that, we’ve got weekly visits for treatment and tests will go on for the foreseeable future.
Imagine you are just finishing college. You’ve invested all these years into student loans and grades and worked from the bottom up in a field helping others, so you’d be all set in your field after just one more test. You’re 20-something, but you’re invincible; you’ve never been sick.
You’ve got all your ducks in a row and have considered every possible decision.
You have spent your entire life on college student budget working your own way through school, accumulating debt, but going into a field where you are guaranteed to be a super star. Soon, you are going to kick open the doors and rock the world.
You dream of the vacations you didn’t take because you had to write papers and pay for copies and laundry, and you begin to plan them in your head. You go to sleep, dreaming of how great it’s all going to be now that you’re done. Once that last test is passed, you can consider your future. You have dreamy conversations with your parents about how one day not only will you buy a house, but this will have a little retirement cottage in the back for them, and they won’t have to worry about anything.
You tell your baby brother to keep up his grades, you bribe him and tell him to work his way to and through college, but you will be there for him if there are any hiccups along the way.
Your phone rings on a Friday afternoon as you’re in a store looking for a pink bow tie for your little brother’s prom coming up this weekend. It’s the doctor you saw, and out of nowhere, he says you have cancer and he will see you again next week. Just like that.
You’re alone. All alone.
You’re holding a bow tie for the baby brother you adore and have dressed his entire life. Your life just changed. The air is sucked out of the room, and nothing moves. You walk over to the dress shirts and begin looking for his size, but now you can’t remember for sure if he has that adorable little boy neck or of he has now grown into a lumberjack.
You call your mom to check, but instead, “I have cancer” falls out of your mouth.
Everyone’s life just changed and it all hits you.
Imagine dropping everything to live in a city far away for a month while still having to pay rent, utilities, and a car payment. Leaving your bed, pets, plants, and family behind. Being afraid of checking the mail or answering the phone: there will be bills in there with numbers that look like jackpots for the PowerBall.
Seeing things you never wanted to see. Learning a language you didn’t want to learn (Cancer Speak). Realizing you aren’t in invincible 20-something with the world at your feet, that you now must depend on the kindness of strangers when you don’t even recognize yourself in the mirror.
In the meantime, you travel every week to Texas, three states away, sleep, eat, get prescriptions, anything else you might need. Make sure you keep your job so you can keep your insurance and have a life when this is all over. Oh, also, you’re fighting cancer, so we are going to dump some of the most horrible chemical combinations known to mankind into your body and you are going to be sicker than you could ever possibly imagine.
Lucky that our family is tight. We pull together we pull through. All of my kids have sacrificed what they have and the course of their futures for family members and this is no exception. WE ARE LUCKY.
Samantha’s cancer is rare, which means she’s interesting to the scientific world, which opens us up to the option of seeing the Most Genius Medical people on the planet who study her type of Cancer. WE ARE LUCKY that we were able to get together the resources to get her to the people who could try to help her in the first 3 months.
WE ARE LUCKY that friends, family, and strangers have taken it upon themselves to raise money, cook dinner, open their homes, offer a ride, send a card, give a hug, and pray for us.
We are simply terrified, we know the first chemo regimen and treatment plan failed. We see the doctors and nurses faces when they hear her diagnosis. We realize what it means to be in trials, research programs, and testing studies. We know that we can only get the only hope kind of help out of state. We don’t feel very lucky because we know as a family that as the expenses, bills, costs pile up, the income has gone down on several fronts. Things like car repairs, broken air conditioners and power going out don’t stop because of cancer.
We don’t feel lucky because there’s interest on the credit cards and interest on the payments, and we are paddling like a herd of ducks in a hurricane just to get thru every day. We don’t feel lucky because it’s unnatural, it’s unnatural and soul-emptying to be a parent whose child has cancer. We don’t feel lucky that ”she’s grown up.”
We are her parents and she will always be our child. We don’t feel lucky that “at least she doesn’t have kids,” because she loves children and wanted to be a foster mom, because that’s who she is.
We don’t feel lucky because no one who has cancer is lucky.
A 2016 poll found that there are between 0.5 to 0.6% people who are transgender in the US.
This putS the total number of transgender Americans at approximately 1.4 million adults.
This is her journey:
Despite living in a sizable city, there are very few people who know what transgender means. Not even the doctors here knew what transgender meant until we explained it to them.
Imagine having two transgender children in a community that is extremely conservative and evangelical. The schools are unwelcoming. The churches are unwelcoming. Most people reject the local LGBT individuals. The state legislature is actively pursuing bills that legalize discrimination against people like my children.
Given that the trans population is less than half a percent of my state’s population, the lack of awareness of transgender people is unsurprising.
Visibility of transgender people in the media is increasing, but not at a rate fast enough to make a dent in the general population. Here, where we live, at least, visibility occurs as the few LGBT people come out of the closet to their families, friends, coworkers, and ultimately to the community as a whole.
Being out in a conservative, Republican city and state is often dangerous. Add in any other minority characteristics and the danger to the individual increases exponentially.
My two wonderful teenage transgender sons have to navigate this world. It’s terrifying to think of them in the school setting (so they are homeschooled), unbelievably frightening to think of them out there alone and out as they medically transition in the future.
Transgender visibility and awareness is vitally important. My kids were born into the wrong bodies. In the second trimester of my pregnancies, each of them were exposed to increased testosterone, changing their brain structures to resemble male brains.
Like sexual preferences, being transgender is not a choice. My sons, despite the identification at birth being female, are male. Because they are trans male, they are the lucky ones. They are less likely to be abused, less likely to be killed than trans females. They will, with testosterone, grow facial hair, increase their muscle mass and deepen their voices. They will enter into society with the stereotypical male look with ID cards that match their genders.
Most transgender people are not fortunate enough to have accepting families and doctors. Most struggle and suffer because of the extreme prejudices they face.
As allies to the LGBT community we can help change these struggles.
We can make sure that all people are accepted and treated equally.
Trans visibility is key, but without our speaking up for the community, for our friends and family members, change will be slow.
We must make this a seismic change. For my boys. For all trans people. For the world.
While we at The Band work tirelessly to bring you expert resource pages, sometimes the best advice is from someone who has been where you’re standing. What follows is a mixture between a resource page and a post.
I introduce to you, The Band, a Demo Tape.
Take what you need and leave the rest.
I have a quirky sense of humor, coupled with a southern gal’s disposition, so brace yourselves for impact. This will be a bit of a rant, but it’s been building up for awhile, and sometimes ya need a rant to get the point across.
When I moved to West Virginia, I had no idea how downright painful it would be to deal with the uneducated public when they encounter me, my service dogs, and (possibly) one of my seizures while I’m out trying to live my life. It’s as though the burden of WV service dog education has fallen squarely upon my shoulders.
And that? SUCKS!
On behalf of all people with service dogs in WV or elsewhere, listen up:
No, not EVERY service dog is a seeing-eye dog. I am NOT blind.
No, I am NOT training my service dog for another person or a blind person.
No, it is NOT okay for you to talk/whistle/call to my service dog for ANY reason. You are distracting him from his job, and my safety depends upon him doing his job to the very best of his ability. You wouldn’t walk up to and pet, whistle, praise, talk to, or feed someone’s wheelchair, cane, or walker. Don’t do it to my dog.
No, you may NOT pet my service dog. He is WORKING at keeping me safe in what can be a very dangerous environment for me – please respect my needs. My one dog will avoid people who try to walk up and touch him by moving to the other side of me, yet people STILL try to touch him past that. The dog will sigh loudly if someone tries to pet him, yet people find that adorable. Pay attention to the dog’s body cues!
Yes, he is my service dog! I am not just walking around with a random person’s service dog for kicks. It isn’t easy to have such a requirement.
Yes, I NEED a service dog. Even though you cannot see what’s wrong with me, I am disabled. No, my health issues that require a service dog are not something I have ANY desire to speak about in public with a perfect stranger.
Yes, it IS rude to start with “But you don’t look sick” when you ask me why I need service dogs. In fact, I may haul off and punch you if you do so. The blatant disregard and disrespect which runs rampant here is getting old. I’m tired of being judged by my outside ALL of the time. So just stop it. I don’t judge you for wearing your pajamas to the store.
Yes, it IS extremely BAD for your kid to walk up to ANY dog they do not know, let alone tackle a service dog. It’s not the dog’s fault if it bites your kid when it’s your kid who ran up to the dog. The dog is defending itself and its handler. TEACH your children – they are your responsibility. I keep my responsibility on a leash.
Do NOT smack my dog or jerk my dog from me to shove something into my mouth, with the intention of preventing me from swallowing my tongue. STOP BEING IGNORANT. I will NOT swallow my tongue – it’s an old wives’ tale, a person cannot swallow their tongue.
My service dogs are my lifeline; they know more about me and my seizure disorder than you EVER will. Let them do their jobs. Touch my dogs or my person and you risk getting the arse-whoopin’ of your life when I come to. Just ask the well-meaning idiot who broke one of my back teeth with a spoon (a tooth that I still don’t have the money to repair). She slapped my dog and slung him off me, not realizing that I could have choked to death on my own vomit. Not OKAY! I will never be a victim to a random person’s stupidity ever again. Someone should have stood up and stopped her – no one did. Well-meaning idiots are still dangerous idiots. Do NOT be a well-meaning idiot – educate yourself!
Okay, allow me to begin again.
Hi, my name is Tearanny and I have two wonderful service dogs, Drachon and The Fatkid. Drachon is a 7-year-old German Shepherd that loves to swim and play ball at every opportunity. The Fatkid is a 15-year-old chocolate lab cross that loves tummy scratches and anything food related.
We all enjoy time outside together whenever my health and the weather allow. Both are extremely territorial of their yard and their Momma. They are very loving, loyal, and exceptionally well trained to take good care of my special needs.
My boys are both certified and registered Seizure Alert & Assistance Service Dogs. I have left temporal lobe epilepsy which generalizes. It is a brain disorder that results in seizures that cause me to lose consciousness and hurt myself in the process. When these seizures occur, my service dogs sense the chemical changes in my brain chemistry and warn me long before my body presents an aura – pretty amazing by anyone’s standards.
For those that do not know, an “aura” is a distinctive feeling or some other warning sign that a seizure is coming. My boys help me lie down, turn me onto my side, and lie on me to keep me on my side throughout the seizure activity. They can bring me my medication and my telephone upon request, or if either feel that it is necessary at any point.
My boys will lick my face to calm me as I begin to stir from my seizure activity – I’m in a postictal state, a “flight or fight” response immediately after a seizure, and then an extreme exhaustion sets in.
My dogs are a deep emotional support after seizure events. They help me keep my balance as I make my way to the bathroom and bed after seizures or on days when my balance is still affected by bad seizure events. They never judge me for being too sick to brush my teeth, cancelling plans, or failing to change into something fashionable the day after a seizure when I’m too sore to move. They love me unconditionally and I owe them to be worthy of such devotion – they are my shaggy blessings!!
So, if you see us out and about, or anyone else with a service dog, here is the skinny on how to act:
Service Dog Etiquette
Never pet, call, talk, feed, whistle to, or otherwise distract a service dog for ANY reason. To do so can potentially injure a handler and earn the dog a correction; even the most well trained dogs can be distracted. Be kind, considerate, and thoughtful – if you are sincerely a lover of animals, respect the dog’s job and his handler.
Ignore a service dog; it’s truly what the dogs PREFER. Remember, they are NOT pets; they are trained to do a very important job that they take EXTREMELY seriously. A person’s well being is completely reliant upon that dog’s work drive – respect that dog’s drive.
If you feel you must pet a service dog, ASK first. But don’t feel offended if the handler says “No.” Service dogs need to be released from Work Mode to interact with someone; this can be a SEVERE hazard to the health of the handler. The dog (or handler) might be having a bad day, or might be in a hurry. Ever tried to make it through the store when 20 people are asking to pet your service dog and all you want to do is get your groceries and get home because you feel awful? I have, and it is less fun each it happens.
Train children to never waltz up to a strange dog – ANY dog – without first asking permission. Teach them to follow your lead, and make sure your lead is worth following. Teach your kids about safety around dogs and then teach yourself about service dogs.
Speak to the person, not the assistance dog. Most handlers do not mind talking about service dogs and their dog specifically, if they have the time and you are respectful with your inquiry.
Never make assumptions about the individual’s intelligence, feelings or capabilities. Offers of help are appreciated, but ask first. Usually, the human/dog team can get the task done by themselves.
Don’t be afraid of the service dog. There is no need to be afraid of a service dog. They have been professionally trained to have excellent manners and skills. Always approach an assistance dog calmly and speak to their human partner.
If you happen to see me when I’m having a seizure and my dogs are with me, leave us alone. Let my boys do the job they were born and trained to do. I will ask that you keep the well-intentioned idiots away from my boys and me until the floppy-fish dance has concluded. When I come back around, I will call my folks or a friend to pick us up to take us home. Pretty simple, eh? No reason to hit my service dog and break my tooth!
Business Owners and Service Animals
Some customers and employees may be anxious or nervous about an assistance dog in a business establishment. While I reassure them that my service dog is thoroughly trained and has a legal right to be there under the ADA, it gets old repeating myself each time I enter a new establishment. Here are a few tips for business owners:
–Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal OR ask what tasks it has been trained to perform; however, businesses cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person’s disability.
–People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees, isolated from other patrons or treated less favorably than other customers. People with assistance dogs deserve the same respect as any other customer. However, if a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
–A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his or her service animal from the premises unless:
(1) the animal is out of control and its owner does not take effective action to control it (for example, a dog that barks repeatedly during a movie), or
(2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. In these cases, the business should give the person with a disability the option to obtain goods and services without having the animal on premises.
–Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
–A business is not required to provide care or food for a service animal, or provide a special area for it to relieve itself.
–Allergies and fear of animals are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animals.
–Violators of the ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties.