Fish out of water

Drip, drip, drip. Water runs slowly at first, seeping into the basement. The water threatens my dad’s graveyard of electronics. Radios, VCR’s, some his for hobby, but mainly electronics that need fixing or are unfixable. Broken parts, machines on the floor open from the last ditch effort operation to save them. Laughter. “Dad is going to be mad” said Matt. Matt has a new obsession. When no one is watching he goes into the laundry room on the first floor and overflows the utility tub. Laughter. My dad yells in horror at the prospect of his electronics’ burial in water. Matt flooded the house multiple times over the year. I can’t pinpoint when this obsession started or ended, it happened about 3 decades ago. 

Drip, drip, drip. Water runs slowly towards the basement. This time the fish tank broke that was sitting by the front door that no one uses. Luke used the front door that day. He flung the door open and the door knob went right through the fish tank. Luke and I try to grab the fish, save them. I reach my hand in to grab a fish. The fish is slimey. I scream and pull back my hand cutting my arm on the broken glass. My dad enters the scene and is mad because the water is everywhere. My dad grabs me by the arm and throws me out of the house. He said, “Go get f*cked and get the hell out of my house.”  I wander around outside crying. I was only trying to save a fish. My mom had to call over my grandma that night. She was the only one who could console me. 

The morning after the 24 mile run

Good news, I’m still alive and can walk after yesterday’s first 24 mile run. My toenails are all intact. How do I feel? Tired! My body’s alert system is going off. Sirens blaring, something is wrong. Beep, beep, beep. It took me three hours to fall asleep last night equaling about four hours of sleep. I have been struggling with insomnia for over a week now. I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to walk today. I am throwing my son a birthday party sleepover tonight and taking them to the beach this afternoon. I want to swim and play in the water with the kids. My son is 15 though and would probably be happier if I just dropped them off. Not going to happen!

I also haven’t had much of an appetite. Is this normal?? I burned off around 3000 calories, ate about 500 calories yesterday which puts me about 4000 calories in the hole. I can feel the definition of my rib cage, my bones poking me at night. I weighed in at 123 lbs this morning. I am 5’7″. I really don’t want to dip below 120 lbs. With the 4th of July coming up this weekend maybe I am worrying for nothing. I will probably pig out just like everyone else. 

Have a good day! See you tomorrow. 

Marathon training, week 6

I am breaking one of my rules here. I am blogging after having a beer. Sometimes after I have a beer or two I tend to share all of my secrets. But I guess I really don’t have to worry about that because you know more than most of my best friends already. Giggle. To tell you the truth, I am celebrating! I ran my first 24 mile run today. Woo hoo! I am not going to lie to you and say it was easy. It was a really hot day, so I ended up breaking down and walking at mile 8. I felt like I was going to puke or pass out. A couple of weeks back after I ran the 10k, I saw a man pass out while running the race. He didn’t even catch himself. He landed right on his face .07 miles from the finish line. They wouldn’t even drag the poor guy across the finish line. I had images of the man passing out in my mind at mile 8. Plus at mile 6, it was so hot that I took my honk if you’re going to hit me shirt off. Here I am passed out on the side of the road and I won’t even getting a honk before they hit me. Geez. 

I almost talked myself out of running 24 miles. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I spent about four and a half hours staining my deck yesterday. I woke up with sore legs (what?) and a sore back. What am I thinking? It is hot out. Am I crazy? I admit I am a little crazy, but crazy is better than boring in my book (blog). It took me about five hours. I walked about three miles of it, but finished strong. I think it helped to take a twenty minute break in the A/C after the first twelve miles. I have a three mile speed training and short six mile run planned for the rest of the week. When did six miles become short?!? I am not sure that I will want to do another marathon. I hate speed training, but probably like the half marathon distance the best. I am just happy that I was able to run 24 miles today even though my brain did not want to cooperate.  

The accidental overnight sail

Last summer my husband and I bought an old 25 foot sailboat. After about a month of ownership, we decided to take three of our friends out for a 3 hour tour. The day before I bought brand new water shoes for the trip. But we had one small problem the evening of the cruise, not enough wind. We decided to have a cook out on shore and in the process broke the first rule of boating safety by consuming alcoholic beverages. 

It was a warm July evening. I wore my capris and a t-shirt. After supper, the wind picked up out of nowhere. We were ready for the quick sunset cruise out to the lighthouse and back maybe five miles from shore. Once we made it to the lighthouse, the wind was really whipping and there were three foot waves. We thought it would be a really great idea to see how fast the boat could go. We did get the boat to go fast, faster than we have seen it go since. The problem was that the boat went fast in the wrong direction. When we got done testing the speed, we were 15 miles north of where we were supposed to be and it was getting dark. 

In the meantime, my friend and I needed to use the bathroom. We had a toilet on board, but we didn’t know how to use it. After using the facilities, we were supposed to pull a lever to empty the contents into a lower compartment. We didn’t do that. As a gracious host, I had my friend use the bathroom first. When it was my turn, I opened the lid as we hit a wave and spilled the contents  down my legs onto my new water shoes. Great, now I am soaked in my friend’s urine. No problem, I had extra clothes on board, right?! Well, no. 

Now it was dusk and we were lost. The depth finder was not working, the GPS coordinates did not take into account that there was land between point A and point B, we had no maps, and our cell phones all died. To make matters worse,  we were almost out of gas. We were in deep water! Every time we tried getting close to shore we would ground out, using what little gas we had left to get ourselves out. When we went out to deep water we hit some big waves spraying us with water. I was freezing after being soaked with urine and water not to mention the drop in temperature after dark. I used the spider filled sail cover to stay warm. One of our thrill seeker friends thought it would be a good idea to dance around on the wet bow much to his wife’s dismay. They ended up falling asleep at midnight. My husband spent the night steering the boat while his other buddy and I worked the jib sheet. Our minds started playing tricks on us and we were afraid of hitting dark objects in the water. At 5 AM I couldn’t take it anymore and had to go to sleep. Geez, all that and I missed the sunrise!! In daylight we were able to get back to shore. We almost made it to the harbor when we ran out of gas. My husband jumped into the water and had to swim the boat to shore. 

We made it home at 7 AM the day after our three hour cruise. My body was swaying back and forth for the next couple of days. The day after we got back I decided to go for a 6 mile run even though I was still swaying and felt like crap. It was the hardest run ever because I ended up coming down with pneumonia that day. 

What did we learn from our (in)experience? I am now toilet trained, we carry extra gas, extra water, and bought an additional phone battery charger. I have extra blankets, sweaters, sleeping bags, shorts, pants, coat, robe, and rain gear that stays on the boat just in case we are foolish enough to have another accidental, overnight sail. 

The cure for autism part 7

Drugs! It took a little while to get back to my cure for autism blog. The reason being that I feel a lot of anxiety about this because it will be the hardest cure to write about so far. In retrospect, I am not sure we could have coped any differently. Back in my day we didn’t have blogs, the Internet, or even many books on how to cope with a violently autistic family member. There certainly were not any books written by siblings for siblings. How does a dysfunctional family cope with almost 2 decades of constant stress and daily episodes of violence? We lived in fight or flight mode for almost twenty years! Twenty years!! Doctors could only offer one basic solution to our constant stress, medications to treat our symptoms. Every single person in our household was medicated at one point or another. 

Besides being autistic, Matt had a myriad of mental and physical health issues. He was given several different anti-psychotic medications. Some made him like a zombie, limp like a rag doll. Mom couldn’t stand that. Others didn’t seem to do much of anything or had side effects that were intolerable. One drug made him stiff as a board and he needed assistance doing simple things like walking up stairs. 

My dad had several ulcers. He was impatient, angry, and seriously depressed. I often worried when I came home to a completely quiet house that I would find that he had killed himself. He was distant, dispondent, or storming around the house angry about something. My mom was was always full of worry, anxiety, and self-doubt. Always afraid to make the wrong decision, perfectionistic. Her teeth were constantly clenched. 

Then there was me. Outwardly, I had it all or so most people thought. I turned down the opportunity to have a career in modeling to go to college which was paid for in full by my family. I always had my pick in men. I drove a red firebird in high school. I can honestly say that I had someone pass a semi in the pouring rain in a no passing zone on a two lane highway just to try to get my phone number. Do you hate me now? Most of the other girls did. 

Inwardly, I was a mess. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would go long periods of time  without eating much. Every time I ate I would feel nauseous and my stomach burned. My grades dropped because I couldn’t concentrate in school. I was put on a high dose of amphetamines which did help my ability to focus but was like drinking 10 cups of coffee. I started scratching my skin, picking at scabs, pulling out my hair. I had issues with anxiety, hyper vigilance, and obsessive compulsive tendencies. I was seriously depressed. I was prescribed the highest doses available of anti-depressants. I felt like a zombie, totally numb to all feelings. Some drugs made me sleep 18 hours a day, weight gain, constipation, diarrhea, but nothing made my environment change. I could tell when the medicines weren’t working for me when I had nightmares. I dreamed that cats were clawing up my body or birds were pecking at my skin, my skin crawled. The worst thing that happened was that I was prescribed the highest dose of Prozac and became downright unconsolable. I grabbed a bottle of pills, locked myself in my room, threatened suicide, and ended up spending a couple of days in the psych ward. But I wasn’t the only one in the house thinking of my own demise. Mark was also very depressed and was having problems focusing in school. He would hang nooses in the tree next to our house for my mother to find in the morning. He was quiet in school and at times was a target for bullies because of it. He really wanted the pain to end, perhaps even more than I did. 

Luke was hyperactive and couldn’t concentrate in school. He was always moving around in his chair, tapping his pencil, and annoying the teachers. He was medicated for ADHD. Luke dealt with the stress by partying hard. Sometimes my parents would find him out in the yard in the morning. That was if he even came home at all. 

Still no cure, not for any of us. 

(We are all living relatively happy lives now. I promise I will write about something light and fluffy tomorrow!)

Hyper Vigilance 

I sit and watch looking for signs of trouble like a prairie dog on guard. Except no one ever relieves me from my post. I must stay alert. I can’t relax. Never let my guard down. I startle easy.  Relaxing classical music makes me edgy. Soothing piano music blooms my anxiety. I pace the floor. I feel a little trapped. Sleep eludes me, I wake at the slightest noise. Matt does not sleep either. He rocks in his bed back and forth, back and forth, back and forth sometimes so violently that he chafes his face and gets blood on the sheets. My brothers can’t sleep, Matt is too loud. Sometimes Matt is angry or dad fights with him over brushing his teeth. He can’t stand anyone touching his mouth. His teeth eventually rot. 

Mom puts the classical music record on at night in attempts to calm us on the roughest days. I can’t relax. I can’t sleep. I have nightmares. I wake at the slightest sound. Every night I wake up and can’t go back to sleep. In the middle of the night I am safe, but sleep eludes me. I can’t clear my mind. I can’t stop thinking. Worry. Hyper vigilance gives me a false sense of control over my environment. I like to be in control. My rules and rigid structure give me a false sense of security. I hate chaos. Sometimes we would make plans to go somewhere and Matt would have a meltdown. Lots of times we turned around and headed back home. I don’t like a change of plans. I accused my mother of favoritism. Why was Matt the god of our world? The rest of us were crying to go, looking forward to it. Why was it that Matt could hurt me and everyone I loved and not get in trouble for that? Why did he dictate every waking moment of our life? Why did mom ask him what he wanted to do and not us? These were all the questions I asked as a sibling. I was angry at my mom a lot even though it wasn’t her fault. I blamed her. I resented her. 

I would like to say that I am no longer hyper vigilant, that I don’t wake up to the slightest noise, that I have given up all desire to want a lot of control over my life. I am not sure that this is something that will change. 

Just low

I feel down today. Just low. I feel like I am climbing a mountain and can never reach the top. Running uphill and only getting a few feet from the ground. Why do I try so hard? Why must I run this marathon? Literally. I am exhausted. Tears escape my eyes with little or no provocation. Sleep is restless. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to run. I don’t feel like eating.  My muscles all ache. I haven’t felt this way for awhile, but it is no stranger to me. 

It started on Father’s Day with a slow descent. I thought maybe it was because I was mourning the relationship with my father that I never had and will most likely never be. Wishing for a moment that someone else was my father. Feeling envious of his daughters. Why was I never good enough? What is wrong with me? 

I did conquer a fear on Sunday. A fear of driving over high bridges. But I only did it because I was trying to avoid another fear, the fear of being late. Does that count? I don’t know anymore. I am trying to keep my head above water and to keep climbing that mountain. I am sure this moment of moodiness will soon pass. 

Kicked out of the roller rink

After I was old enough to drive, I started hanging out at the roller rink a couple of small towns over. The roller rink was small too. It seemed like we were turning more than we were going straight. I always ended up with a blister on one side of one foot since we only skated one song in the opposite direction. 

There was a little girl that would go skating when I was there too. She was about 5 years old. Her parents would drop her off during open skating and head to the bar next door. It seems like when someone shirks off their responsibilities, other people take it on. Good thing I was like a big sister, protective instead of predatory. There was one occasion though when she protected me. I was hanging out with another friend when this older girl came up to my friend shoving her and accusing her of looking at her boyfriend. I told this older girl to leave my friend alone. She took my head and bashed it into the wall. My little friend told the owner I was in trouble and he kicked the older girl out. She promised she would find me and kick my ass in the parking lot when skating was over. I admit I was a bit worried.  I was used to getting hurt by my brother, but was not good at fighting back. I refused to leave early, but she never showed. 

The second time someone got kicked out again inadvertedly had to do with me. My mom thought it would be a good idea to take Matt roller skating with me. Mom took Matt by the hand, gently leading him around the rink like a small child. The slow skate started and the lights dimmed. Matt had to go to the bathroom. Mom took off his skates and put on his shoes. On the way out he grabbed a little girl by the hair and started kicking her over and over. It took a couple of people to get him off of her. The girl’s dad was furious. Once again, the owner came over and kicked us out. My mom was crying, apologizing profusely, saying it wasn’t his fault. The owner was understanding, but said we would have to leave just the same. 

It was storming when we left the skating rink. I drove home in the pouring rain, tears pouring from my eyes. I screamed at my mom that I was never having kids because I never wanted to have one like Matt. My mom kept repeating over and over that she was thankful that Matt did not have his roller skates on while he was kicking that girl. We were both crying hysterically, the thunder a perfect crescendo for our outpouring of grief. I remember listening to In A Gadda Da Vida the whole mournful trip home. It was just another day in the life. 

Marathon training, week 5

I am tired already. I come up with a lot of my blog ideas while running and apparently develop my ideas best between 3:30 AM and 6:00 AM. Yesterday I woke up at 3:30 AM, laid in bed until 4:00 AM, got up, wrote my blog, tried to go back to sleep without success, and decided at 5:30 AM to go for my 18 mile run before the storms moved in. It was humid in the morning, the last few miles I think I was getting a little dehydrated. Every muscle in my body hurt, even my feet cramped up and a toenail was bleeding. 

I saw a deer on my run, we eyed each other up a little but decided we would not be running partners or adversaries. On the last mile, another runner was coming towards me along with a truck with a trailer on the back. To make things more suspenseful, there was a black cat in the middle of the road. The cat ran in front of the truck escaping by a couple of inches, the runners were safe as well. 

Today is my day off. I took my daughter in this morning to get her wisdom teeth out which has been rather uneventful. I remember getting mine out when I turned 21 after being in a lot of dental pain. All is remember is crying hysterically and getting bloody drool all over my roommates car. On the last day of recovery, I met my husband on his birthday. It has been almost 20 years since I got my wisdom teeth removed. How ironic that after having my wisdom removed, I made one of the smartest decisions in my life. 

Two more days of training this week, then my first 24 mile run next week. Yikes!

Nautical thoughts

My husband and I had a boat renaming party this past weekend for our sailboat. I have another confession to make. I fell in love with another man. He gazed into my eyes and called me beautiful. His embrace drew me into the intoxicating scent of his cologne like a siren calling to a sailor out at sea. He bestowed upon me a gift of a parchment paper journal for Internet free blogging. I was in love hook, line, and sinker. I called my dad for Father’s Day anyway, all the while feeling the guilt of desiring another dad. My new love presided over the boat renaming ceremony. 

The ceremony itself went without a hitch. When I woke up the morning of the party, I had great trepidation after looking at the forecast. A storm the size of the continent of Africa was coming towards us with a guesstimated arrival time of noon, when the ceremony starts. I consulted Paul, my husband who has the gift of weather parting, and told him we were in need of a miracle because at this time I wasn’t sure that the boat wanted to be renamed. And part the weather did. The ceremony started with a little drizzle, just enough to keep a few of the fair weather sailors home despite the free beer. The party included denaming the boat by pouring champagne into the water by the bow and toasting. My new love told the story of Paul’s and my accidental overnight sail with the mere thought of changing the name of the boat. Good thing I did not tell him about the boat almost starting on fire right after the old name was removed. (The ceremony also required a virgin to urinate off the side of the bow, so we skipped that part). Then we finished the ceremony with renaming the boat, pouring champagne on all sides of the boat, another toast, and a beautiful closing toast by Paul. 

The party was attended by our children, a few close friends, our employees, a few random sailors, and my mom. Paul’s mom called a couple days before the party and said she couldn’t make it because it might rain despite the fact that Paul told her she has windshield wipers. Well, I had better go back to bed or start on my 18 mile run this morning. Another storm the size of Africa is coming and I don’t think I will be as lucky this time.