Thursday, November 22, 2012

Debbie Downer here...

Holidays are hard for me. Everywhere I look I see families getting together to celebrate, carry on or start new traditions, and overall enjoy each other’s company.

I don’t have that in my life. It makes me feel out of step, isolated, alone, and a bit of a freak.

My family does not celebrate any holidays or birthdays due to their religious beliefs. I don’t judge them for that; this country was based on religious freedom for all and this is what they believe to be the only true religion. I was raised this way since my 2nd birthday, so I don’t remember the few holidays we did celebrate, so I have never known anything different.

It was really hard for me once I started school. Before then, the only other children I knew all believed like we did and I never had any reason to question it. But once I was in school, there were all of these activities that I was not allowed to participate in. Do you realize that almost all holidays are celebrated during the school year? Columbus Day, Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. It’s pretty much at least one per month. Every single time one came up, there were activities I was excluded from. Every single time I was given the third degree by my classmates and teachers alike. “How come?” they always asked. I would just shrug and say something like, “It’s against our religion.” Or, “Because my mom says I’m not allowed to.” My mom would usually meet with my teacher every year to explain the reasons why, and many of my teachers were very understanding and would find some other activity for me to do instead of the holiday themed project everyone else was doing. I hated that so much.

I don’t like to stand out in a crowd. It makes me uncomfortable. And you know your life sucks when the Jewish kids, who were often made fun of because they didn’t celebrate Christmas, made fun of you for not celebrating Christmas. When I lived in Mustang, Oklahoma, all three schools - high, middle, and elementary – combined to put on one big Christmas play. We were shuttled to the high school by bus several times a week to rehearse and practice the play. I sat out in the audience area and just watched. How I longed to be up on stage, to sing and act with the others. I could care less about what the play was for; I just wanted to participate, to belong. Also, I really loved to sing, dance, and act! I really wanted to be an entertainer of some sort when I grew up, and I ached to be on the stage, performing.

When junior high and high school rolled around, it was a bit easier although kids could be a lot more crewel with their taunts. My favorite retort about not celebrating Christmas was to ask someone how long they had to wait to get something they really wanted. Had they been drooling over it since May? I never had to wait for something I really wanted. If my parents knew that there was something I really wanted, they bought it for me. No waiting for my birthday or Christmas. I will admit, that was pretty nice.

I “drifted away” from the church in my early 20’s, once I was out on my own. It was purposeful; I meant to do it. I never really wanted to be in this, or any, religion. I was baptized when I was 16 out of fear; fear of disappointing my mother (not God) and my sister; fear of being rejected by my peers and friends in the church; fear of never being allowed to get married. I was engaged to be engaged to a young man and I loved him with all my heart. But our parents would never allow us to be married if we both were not baptized. He believed in this religion and went willingly; I thought that eventually, if I was married, I would eventually be able to accept this religion in my heart, so I went outwardly willingly, but inwardly against my will. A year and a half later he left me for a woman 16 years our senior; they have been happily married and very active in the church’s ministry for over 25 years now. My mother thinks that this is what caused the rift between me and religion; I cannot get her to accept that it was merely one more weight on the already out of balance and tipping scale.

All of my co-workers throughout the years seem to talk endlessly about their holiday plans with their families; some complain about having to travel or the enormous amount of cooking or shopping they have to do, but they all have this…this thing...this thread…in common with each other. The radio, TV, internet, blogs, craft sites, magazines, super markets, department stores – you can’t get away from the holidays; there is nowhere to go that isn’t saturated in decorations, sales, recipes, seasonal foods, music, etc.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t feel offended by the holidays; I feel…envious. Not of the gifts, or what the holidays are actually celebrating (or think they are celebrating), but the traditions, the belonging.

I also don’t blame my religious upbringing or the religion itself. I blame myself for not standing up for myself at an earlier age; making my mother understand that this just was not for me. My father was raised as a child in the same religion (by sheer coincidence) but never committed to it and was not involved in it as I was growing up. I was often pouty because I wanted to stay home with Dad instead of going to church. When I was about 12 or so and really chafing under my mother’s religious constraint, I vowed that when I turned 16 that I would stand up to her and I knew that my father would have my back about my freedom to make my own choice in the matter. That was snuffed out, however, by my father’s untimely death from an aggressive cancer two weeks after my 14th birthday. I tried throwing myself into the religion, hoping it would be like an arranged marriage and that I would soon come to accept it and love it like I saw others doing all around me. But my heart seems to remain like a stone, non-absorbent.

I feel like a little wooden rowboat without oars, adrift in a harbor filled with party boats. No one sees me. No one hears me. I am unnoticed and doomed to be torn asunder by a speeding pleasure craft.

Happy holidays.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I moved away from Montana for this?

I just don’t know what to do. I am so unhappy at home but I don’t have anywhere else to go. I want to be with Sissy, but I never get to see her anymore. Mom’s car died a couple of months ago and she cannot afford to get it fixed or to buy another one. Her hours at work were cut to just three full days and half of Saturday each week. One of the guys at the company, who will tell anyone within earshot what a "fine Christian" he is, was giving her rides to and from work every day since they worked the same schedule and he has to drive right past her place. Mom gave him $20 a week for gas. After a couple of weeks he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore, so he quit helping her. Bastard. No one else will help her out even though there are at least two other people that could, and everyone knows that she has no other way to get to work (public transport is no aid in this situation). So, since Sis has been going down on Thursday nights in preparation for her weekend job down there, she has been taking her to work on Friday, Saturday, and Monday mornings, and picking her up from work in the evenings (Mom is supposed to work on Wednesdays, but has no way to get to work that day). Since Sis has to pick Mom up on Monday evenings, she doesn’t start for home until after 6pm; most of the time she winds up spending Monday night as well and then not getting home until Tuesday evening. I leave the house at 6am and don’t get home until 5:30-6pm, depending on whether or not I need to run a few errands or not. I go to bed between 8-9pm because I have to get up so early. So, I get to see her 3-4 nights a week for 2-3 hours each evening, if I’m lucky. We never get to do anything together, we don’t get to talk or watch movies because Les is always planted in the recliner watching whatever he wants on NetFlix.

It is so incredibly frustrating. She is the main reason why I moved back out here and I never get to see her anymore. She is also very frustrated by it and feels like she is just visiting in her own home.

I hate living with Les and Jim; Les is just an ill-mannered 4 year old living in an old man’s body, and Jim is just an asshole. Les throws temper tantrums if things don’t go exactly his way – and this would include being able to take a pan out of the cupboard without other pans getting in his way or trying to find the bottle of mustard in the fridge – yells at the dogs for barking 80,000 times a day (which they do constantly because they are DOGS), stomps around swearing and being generally pissy on a regular basis for no reason that he can tell you. Jim never takes a shower or washes his hands and he is FILTHY all the time. The end of the couch that he sits on is pretty much ruined – three shades darker than the rest of the couch from his clothes and hands. He pees into an old gallon milk jug in his room instead of getting up to use the bathroom like a normal person in the night or morning; when he poops he plugs up the toilet about 85% of the time. He is also the world’s expert on every freaking thing under the sun and will contradict everything you say just for sport. He always has some smartass remark to make, even if it’s just a response to me asking him to pass the salt at the dinner table. Les constantly feeds the dogs from the table then yells at them for begging or from having the runs all over the house because he gave them a bowl of chili “to share”. He usually leaves the crap for me to clean up when I get home from work because he has been “cleaning up shit all day and I’m tired of it.” I keep explaining to him that when he feeds them crap from the table, ESPECIALLY stuff like CHILI, they are going to poop. A lot. And if he doesn’t get up out of the chair to let them outside more than once every six hours, then they are going to poop a lot in the house. It’s not rocket science. Jim has a tendency to eat everything he can get his hands on. If there is something that you buy from the store and you want to be sure you get at least one serving of it, you have to hide it. If it’s in his line of sight, it’s fair game. And that is fine; but he will eat ALL of it and never consider the fact that perhaps someone else may want some of it as well. Case in point: the other day he ate an ENTIRE jar of marinated mushrooms from Costco. Now, remember, this is a Costco-sized jar – probably 80oz or so. To be fair, he didn’t eat them all in one sitting; he ate ¾ of the jar in one sitting and the rest of it the next day before anyone could even try to get any. I have started Weight Watchers and have to hide all non-perishable foods in my room – including cans of tuna fish – to keep the guys out of them. I have one drawer in the back fridge in the washroom for my perishable foods, and I have to keep reminding them to please leave that for me. When I tell them it’s for my “special diet”, they are pretty good about it. Mom made up a few little laminated signs that say “This food is for Heather’s diet lunches for work. Please don’t eat it.” I haven’t used them, but I will if I have to.

This is why I haven’t been blogging lately. I feel like everything I have to say is negative and whiney. I am really unhappy but I don’t have anyone I can talk to about it. I talk to my mom about it a little bit, but I have to be careful because sometimes what I say gets back to Sissy, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. A few months ago Sis and I were driving to the store and she literally begged me to promise her that I would never leave her. She grabbed my arm so hard that I nearly steered the Rodeo into a ditch, and said, “Promise me you won’t ever leave me.” How do I say “no” to that? She is also quite unhappy but can’t really change anything either. Les is 75 years old and is not going to change. He is very controlling and punishes her for being away from home even though he knows that she must work because he cannot. He gets so upset when she stays over on Monday nights instead of coming home.  It’s killing me to watch her slide further and further into insecurity because of the way he treats her. When she makes dinner, she constantly asks him if it’s OK, does he like it, etc. Seriously, she will ask him this four or five times until he gets mad. Or, if he is “punishing” her, he will say something like, “Oh, it’s all right I guess.” “It’s too salty.” “There’s not enough spice in it.” “You didn’t make enough.” (this even though he can’t eat all that he put on his plate) Sometimes she makes dinner and puts it on the table and he’ll say something like, “What the hell is this crap?” It makes me want to launch myself across the table and choke the living snot out of him. When we explain what the hell the crap is, sometimes he is happy and other times he pouts. Usually, the latter if he is punishing us. If I make dinner and he says that he doesn’t want any of that crap for dinner, I tell him that’s fine and he can make his own crap for dinner. I do this in a very calm and matter of fact way, despite the fact that I really just want to throw it at him. It’s not like that all the time; they do laugh quite a bit and have a good time ripping on each other; but you can only be nasty to someone for so long before that is all you remember. When the good times come, they just aren’t as good.

We are also just so incredibly broke. I finally went back to work for Longview Fibre but I really don’t like the job. The company and the people are great, but I’m basically an over-qualified file clerk and it’s horrible. What little money I make goes to gas ($600 a month), a few groceries for my eating plan, dog food, cat food, kitty litter, goat food, hay for the goats, helping Sis with her car payment, paying the electric bill, the PO box fee, Les’ chewing tobacco (trust me, it’s hell when he is without it or thinks he might run out of it so I will pay whatever it costs to keep him supplied), any groceries we need during the week when Sis is down south, trying to keep my cell phone in service, trying to keep Mom’s cell phone in service, trying to pay the ever escalating phone/internet bill that I am always behind on and can never quite catch up, helping Sis with her IRS bill, car insurance, my storage bill, Sis’s storage bill, etc. Money is “borrowed” but never actually paid back. I can’t save anything and haven’t had a hair cut or the oil changed in the Rodeo in about nine months. The front passenger side wheel is making a horrible noise and I just know that it will sheer off from the axle while I’m on the freeway. I just have to turn the radio volume up so I can't hear the noise.  She just turned over 197,000 miles while on my work today; it’s months away from being 20 years old and if it dies, I am seriously SOL.

One possible light at the end of my tunnel is that a better job may be coming my way. I was contacted by someone I used to work with; I can’t really say anything about it as it is not really an official job within the company yet, and I won’t have any idea as to whether or not I’ll actually be considered for it until sometime in December. It would be a great job and I assured the person that contacted me about it that I am EXTREMELY ENTHUSIASTIC about it. They had me send them my resume, which they in turn submitted to the powers that are making up this new "team", along with the person's personal recommendation.  I was extremely flattered by the offer.  The downside? A two-hour, 94 mile, each way commute that will cost me approximately $900 a month in gas alone. I hope that if I get this job that I will be able to buy a different car that gets more than the Rodeo’s 15 mpg. It will probably cut my gas bill in half, but then I’ll have a car payment to make and more expensive car insurance. I am hoping to get a 2000ish VW Beetle (convertible if possible!). Or similar. Something that gets closer to 30mpg., although with my credit now in shreds I'll be lucky if they let me buy a donkey.  I’m not making any plans or getting my hopes up.

I feel trapped. Trapped by wanting to be with Sissy and trying to help her out financially and sisterly. At the same time I hate living with a house full of people that do nothing but cramp my style and piss me off. I live with them and not my sister. I have a two bedroom home worth of furniture rotting in storage that I have to pay $100 a month for. I am supporting, caring for and cleaning up after animals that are not mine and at the same time I am not allowed to bring home a pet for myself. I still live in a storage room with a bed in it, despite promises of it being cleared out (and despite the fact that Jim’s room was cleared out and decorated for him within two weeks of his moving in, with art from my house to boot!). Instead of being able to spend quality time with my sweet and wonderful sister, I have to spend all of my time with two Neanderthal knuckle draggers. I hate it. But I have nowhere else to go and even if I did have somewhere else to go, I have no way to pay for it. I moved so that I could spend more time with my family, but I still never get to see the kids. Sometimes, I feel like leaving Montana (and my good job) was a big mistake.

I’m so sorry to be like this, but I have no one to talk to. I hesitate to talk about this stuff on here because I don’t know who in my family reads my blog (probably no one) but I have no friends to vent to. Mom understands but I hate constantly whining about all of this to her; it makes it sound like I am complaining about Sis but I’m really not. It’s just so hard to hold it all in, all the time. I have quiet little cries in the bathroom at work, and sometimes I bawl my head off on the drive home. I feel like a total bitch for complaining about the fact that I have a job, a vehicle that runs (for now), a paycheck, and a family that lets me live with them when so many others have so much less. But sometimes those things just don’t equal balance, contentment and happiness, you know? It’s like looking at rich people and thinking that they must have no problems in life at all. But we all know that is not true.

Does anyone have any advice for me? Besides “shut up and be grateful”?

Cheers. Thanks a lot.