Was your experience The Breakfast Club or 13 Reasons Why?

I finished watching 13 Reasons Why last night. I read the book, and I think that this is one of the few times where an adaptation was better than the book. Why? They expanded the storylines to make the characters a little more complex. In some ways, a person might be able to identify with not only Hannah, but maybe with some of her abusers as well. The kids who seemed to “have it all,” can be miserable in their own way.

In high school, I ran around with the kids who would have been Hannah’s tormentors. In fact, I remember when I went home for my 10 year high school reunion, I went the salon to have my hair done. When I was seated, the stylist asked me if I remembered her. I didn’t. She told me her name. It was then that I remembered her. She told me that she remembered me, because I had always been nice to her when we were in school. That was all she said, everything came back to the present. We talked about what we we were up to in our lives. 

I remember being miserable in high school. I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. I hated being so different from everyone else in so many ways. I had bouts of depression. But by this time, I wasn’t picked on. Not while at school anyhow. I had someone’s football jersey to wear on game day. I dated the guys on the various sports teams, and my best friends were cheerleaders, who were also National Honor Society members. I talked to everyone. Inflicting and experiencing misery can take so many different forms, and I didn’t find this out until I became an adult.

I never thought of my friends as being the kind of people that Hannah dealt with, but now I know otherwise. I recently found out that one of the guys from our social circle whom I had very briefly dated, a football player, had grabbed another girl by the neck and pinned her against the wall at a party. This came out recently when she wrote of it in a FB post talking about sexism, the fear of not being believed, and how women are conditioned to not speak up about assault. She didn’t mention his name, but only did to me via instant message because she saw that he and I were having an open (civil) disagreement about something.

I have seen other stories on FB of (awful) experiences in high school from people I knew. Too many. Things I never noticed. Things that make me feel awful for not noticing. Even within my group, or as the girls called us at lunch, “the elite table,” there was unhappiness. Not the picked on kind, but if you saw the show, the kind that Zach was probably feeling.

My best friend, V. who was the captain of the cheerleading squad and our valedictorian, wasn’t happy. (No, she didn’t come up with that awful name for our lunch table.) I thought she had a perfect life, but she felt crushing expectations. In 12 years of school, she never missed a single day. She had perfect grades. Every. Semester. Looking back, she wasn’t exactly a gregarious person, particularly for a cheerleader. In fact, if you ever watched the show Daria, I used to joke that we were kind of like Daria and Jane. That should say something. It should have been my first hint at how she really felt back then.

And this was almost 30 years ago, before cyber-bullying made things worse.

For many, high school really is like 13 Reasons Why.  If anything, at its worst, it should be more like The Breakfast Club, but sadly that’s not the case.

That is really awful.

Better put that fire out before it consumes you.

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I told my therapist about the “walking off the train platform” thoughts. C’s theory was that the thoughts weren’t suicidal in nature, but rather they were more about the impulses that I periodically have to tamp down, particularly if I am going through an “upswing,” when it happens much more often. It’s a possibility considering where my thoughts were – wondering how the shock from the tracks would feel, the train, etc. As she puts it, I get urges to do things like push whatever buttons I see. It’s true. I do. I want to know what they will really do. (Sometimes I wonder if I saw the button to a nuclear detonator, if I would have an urge to push it too?) I have had the urge to hit a random stranger in the back of the head when standing behind him in the elevator, for apparently no reason, except to see what would happen. Of course, I know all of these things are wrong, but I always worry about the time when I am not in a place to make that distinction. I’ve given in to something bad once, and I don’t remember doing it. That is the part that scares me the most. The evidence was there though. Luckily it wasn’t the kind of thing that would hurt someone. (No, it didn’t involve buttons.) There were several consequences to this event, to include a misdemeanor, going to court, which was humiliating, and quite a fucked up sense of self for a while. But now, let’s look at last week, shall we…

Do you know those fire alarms, where you push one button in and then pull down a lever? (See pic above) About a week ago, at work, I pushed in the button that was the first of the two steps, but I did stop there.

I WORK IN A 490 BED HOSPITAL – A MAJOR TRAUMA CENTER!

No, I can’t tell you why I actually did it. Why didn’t I stop myself before I even pushed the damn thing, like I always do? I have no idea.

My therapist told me that with these two incidences, the train platform and the alarm, coming within a two week time period, I am “playing with fire.” (I’m sure there was no pun intended.)

Again, I never really want to do what the button intends to do, I just want to see WHAT it will do. I have no fucking clue where that comes from.

But in the case of a fire alarm, IN A HOSPITAL, WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?! That is at least a misdemeanor offense.

Thankfully, just pushing that damn button did nothing. It’s a good thing I don’t like levers too.

So now, I am really REALLY trying to stay aware of where my head is. I’m realizing that I have had all kinds of impulses lately to do things that I know that I probably shouldn’t do  – things, people – you name it. Nothing different from any that I’ve had in the past, but still the impulses are problematic just the same, as I know from previous experience. It’s fucking exhausting. This is when I wish I could just function like a “normal” person. You would think that if you don’t have control over anything else in your life, you could at least control your own mind.

Nope.

Time to get back into some kind of hobby. Preferably something that doesn’t involve other people. Maybe that will keep me out of trouble.

Fuck. I don’t need this right now.

Curiosity killed the cat

So riddle me this, if a woman wants to know what it’s like to date a woman, what does she really mean? Because to me, from my experience, going on a successful date with a woman isn’t a whole lot different than going out with your best friend. Great conversation? Check. Just an overall great time? Check. What separates the two, besides who picks up the check?

Fucking.

There was coworker/friend with whom I used to spend a lot of time, work dinners at her place, gym partners (her request), etc. A while back, after a couple glasses of wine one night, in response to something that I had said about her being safe for my current relationship, because I assumed she was straight, she made a statement about not knowing if she was gay because “she had never dated a woman*.”  In hindsight, based upon that and the fact that she always made incredibly intense eye contact with me when we spoke, ignored all personal space when talking, regardless of where we were, lingering touches and prolonged hugs, etc. I’m now kind of curious about that statement and if she was trying to send some kind of message back then. Even now, I’m not one to ask. But there is some curiosity. Plus, she’s cute. I may have been in denial back then, regarding whether she was sending signals.

We still talk at work frequently so if she was and still might be interested, I know that a relationship isn’t in the cards for her with anyone right now, which is good. She’s career driven and currently working on her doctorate. However, even if she was hinting at something, I’m not sure that fucking a coworker is the best idea, particularly this one. She’s very sweet and kind of religious. At work, she’s someone who is not one to easily say no, never raises her voice in anger, and is easily walked on. We have had numerous talks about these things, and I hate to say that I have made her cry in the past. I’m not looking for anything, and I doubt she would be either, still I’m afraid that somehow I would just end up hurting her, if that road was traveled. Fifteen years ago, I may have had a different outlook. I like to think that I have matured since then, and that MY curiosity wouldn’t get the better of me.

You know what they say about curiosity.

 

 

*Then again, if she was just curious, she may have taken care of that since then.

 

 

Time for puppy dogs and rainbows

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For some balance, here are two recent things that have made me happy.

  1. Today I worked with that really intelligent, shit together, advanced practice cardiac nurse, the one I mentioned in a post a while back. (You know, smart = hot) When we finished, as we were heading back to her office, she told me that I am like her “comfort blanket,” and that it has meant a lot to her. It’s always nice to be appreciated.
  2. Last week I received a package that was completely unexpected and really nice. It was an extremely thoughtful and not exactly a small one, really. I plan on putting it to use this weekend. Again, thank you.

These are the kind of things to keep in mind.

Prepare for the worst; hope for the best

I think I’m going to have to start keeping a journal of my moods again. I often, consciously, do not realize when I am under stress, but my body and mind will let me know. I don’t want to tip into an episode of (hypo)mania or depression. It’s tough though, because I may be in an off mood, but I don’t know if it’s just being irritable, hormones, or if it is something that could become problematic.

After seeing numerous healthcare providers after the chest pain episode, I feel like maybe I am being forced to examine things a little more closely. I got asked repeatedly if I have been stressed lately. My response was “I guess maybe a little.” Actually, if I were to take a look at things, an honest fucking hard ass look, it should have been an unequivocal “yes.”

When I look at my previous posts, I can see them, the significant changes. I see what is happening at work, the involuntary departure of my boss, who had always been supportive, to the potential threat to something I have poured myself into for the last 5 years. On top of this, I am in roles that I periodically feel might be better with someone else in them, getting ready to take on some larger projects that might be better led by someone else. I see the stuff in my personal life – a kind of loss to a kind of gain, but wait…that really isn’t the same kind of gain, which in some ways is its own issue. And while I have learned over time to bend so that I do not break, I’m not sure that I have been coping appropriately. I realizing I’m using distractions, and I’m beginning to look for others, not exactly the most healthy way to deal with life. It’s disappointing, because I feel like I’ve been through much worse in the past. This shouldn’t be enough to trigger anything. It’s not like anyone has died.

I was in a whopper of a mood a couple of days ago, and while yesterday and today could be categorized as better, there’s a part of me that is wondering if I’m about to embark on that fight to stay out those places – the ones that feel dark and suffocating or blinding and unstoppable. I know that stress is a trigger, and I can tell that my concentration is off and that I need to work out to get rid of negative energy. (But I can’t, not until I’m cleared by the cardiologist.) While I’ve always been able to hide this in the past, there is always the concern that I will hit a breaking point where everyone will know, for better or for worse. Given past experiences, I’m not sure which I would rather battle, a depressive episode or a (hypo)manic one. There is no winner in either scenario. While I may be able to focus some of the hypomanic energy, it can get out of hand, leading to terribly damaging decision making. One of my worst experiences was during what was most likely characterized as a manic episode.

I have been doing things like backing up all of my stuff and making sure there are there are arrangements for things that I want taken care of, should I not be around. I think I have been saying that it’s because the recent chest pains have scared me into making sure I have things in order, but I wonder if it isn’t more than that. According to pretty much everyone, I didn’t act as concerned as I should have about the chest pain, because they were pretty severe. I didn’t contact anyone for a couple of hours, and didn’t get seen by a healthcare provider until almost 11 hours later. Not my smartest decisions. I rationalized every one, but maybe it was something else. Regardless, I gave my sister instructions for what to do and who she had to contact should something happen.

It’s been a little over a year since the last episode. While this is likely (hopefully) just everyday piss poor moods, I will fight it like I do everything else, it turns out that it isn’t. As I say at work, “I’ll die on this hill, damn it.” OK, bad choice of words.

I guess I’ll just monitor and see. I’m sure it’s probably nothing. But I like to be prepared for anything. Here’s to being optimistic.

Or as I say to people about my approach to life in general, “prepare for the worst but hope for the best.”

What I would give to just have a normal functioning brain…

 

 

Well shit, I actually hit “PUBLISH”.

When I was a kid, we used to go to Florida every winter. One year when I was 11, Dad and I were walking out on the beach, and he says that he wants to talk to me. It’s a conversation that ends up being about homosexuality. When I look back on it, it’s kind of amusing. At the time, I was mortified. If I could have run into the ocean and drowned myself, I probably would have tried.

I have a couple of posts that refer to my best friend from my childhood and high school, Victoria, (She was the cheerleader in previous posts*.) So when Dad asks the 11 year old me, if I know what I should say if Victoria were to ever tell me that she liked me as more than a friend, I’m shocked and embarrassed. This is not the discussion you expect to have with your father. Furthermore, my crush on her had already begun. According to him, the correct response was, “I’m flattered, and I like you, but not like that. I just want us to be friends.” (Oooooh, burn!)  Basically, in today’s parlance, if Victoria were to ever have shown any interest in me, he wanted me to friend-zone her.

Well, no worries, Dad! Victoria is as straight as an arrow. And after almost 20 years, she’s still hung up on her college boyfriend, who is in the top 5 of my shitlist.

It was me you needed to worry about.

Had Victoria ever ACTUALLY shown the slightest interest, who knows what would have happened. As I’ve mentioned before, I carried a torch for her for years, and 32 years after that conversation with Dad, she and I are still close friends. I’ve never mentioned to her how I felt all those years. Not once. I never will. I have never been one to express my feelings openly or to make a first move on anyone, without knowing where the other stood. Ever.

I generally don’t show my hand when I have had even the slightest interest in someone, not until I knew there might be interest on the other side. (And I’ve been accused of being clueless.) Whether it was someone I had been in a relationship with, or if it was a casual fling with a straight “friend” who was curious and decided I was “safe,” I don’t take the risk of rejection. I let others do that. The worst cases are the ones where you know that the rejection factor runs high.  Those would be the straight girls.

So imagine my surprise, when after some imbibing, I craft an email that admits things that a fully sober me would never even want to let bubble to the surface of my consciousness let alone communicate to the person it involved. Aaargh, the worst part about it is that it was to a straight friend.

And I actually hit “Send.”

Skirting the potential for awkwardness, there was an odd kind of purpose to doing it. Even in my alcohol soaked brain, I hoped that she would know that she could find someone who saw her how as I saw her, to know that I would move mountains for her if I could, and since obviously I’m not a guy, there had to be one who would feel the same way somewhere. (Surely they aren’t all “toads”.) More importantly, whoever he is, he should realize how special she is and treat her the way she deserves to be treated. Much like I admitted a while back in a post, she made me realize that the type of person I needed in my life still existed. It just wouldn’t be her, for obvious reasons. Though, as I told her last night, she has now set the bar for everyone else.

I’m not stupid; I know how this works. She is and will only ever be my friend. One of my best, but still just a friend, and that friendship means the world to me. In the end, I just want her to be happy, so I will always be her biggest cheerleader, and I will like whoever she dates, unless given a reason not to.

And at that point, if it’s a good enough reason, then he too will go on my shit list.

-S

*Victoria was also valedictorian, so my fondness for smart girls started early.

 

 

 

Just in a “fuck it all” mood.

Some days I want to just get rid of everything and roam. I want to go where no one knows my name, where there are no expectations*. When there are no expectations, there can be no disappointment – disappointment in me or my disappointment in anyone else. But I guess I can’t outrun the disappointment in myself, can I?

I want to isolate myself away from the world, from the things that make me feel weak and foolish. (Ah, revisit self-disappointment above.) If I could hear the crashing of waves, maybe they would drown out the thoughts that remind me that my strength isn’t what others see, that there’s a fragility. No one else sees it; no one knows.**

Sometimes I just need to fade into the background – somewhere, anywhere. Be invisible.  But I can’t. Fuck.

 

*Let’s hope I get up with a better attitude tomorrow. Nothing happened to trigger this craptacular mood. I just woke up like this. Yay me.

**Almost no one.

A shocking thought from out of nowhere.

 

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I was recently in Chicago waiting on the train when I see the signs to stay away from the tracks, because they are high voltage. You know the ones that show the person getting zapped and dying. What surprised me is that I looked at the signs, down to the tracks, back to the sign, and then wondered what it would feel like. How bad would it hurt? Would it be instantaneous? What if I was to be hit by the train? I could just step off the side…

I have had something personal in nature weighing on my mind, that I don’t feel like discussing with anyone, because there’s literally nothing I can do about it, but I haven’t exactly been depressed or suicidal. (Not anything to do with C., if that is a question.) Yet, my therapist would label these thoughts passively suicidal. They came out of the blue.

I had just come out of a very productive meeting with a great team, and I am getting ready to make plans to move into what should be an exciting phase of work with some international colleagues. I’m not sure where this came from.

I guess it’s good that I don’t engage in as many (high) risk-taking hobbies as I used to.

 

By any other name

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People know that I have spent most of my life in the healthcare field. I think most people are surprised when they find out that I had briefly attended law school. I had actually wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid, like a little kid.* My focus on what to do with it became clear as I got older. (Health policy and legislation) I generally tell them that I attended for a year, and that I ended up not returning because of personal issues. I may go on to explain that my mother had died unexpectedly in the fall, and my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the spring. (He’s fine now.) I reconsidered my priorities. What would probably surprise people even more is the truth of what really happened with law school. I am not sure that anyone knows the truth of why I didn’t go back other than my externship director and C.

In law school, your academic progress is measured through two exams, one in December and one at the end of the school year. We are graded on competitive curves. By all accounts, it would outwardly appear that my first year went well. I was invited to try-out for the mock trial team, which was one of the best in the country, at the end of the spring. In the spring, I interviewed for externships, and I was accepted for a federal court position, the World Health Organization in Geneva, and General Counsel’s Office at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA), which is one of the top pediatric hospitals in the United States. I planned on going to Geneva. A good first year? Not really.

Dad found Mom when he got home from work. She was dead. He didn’t know what happened. She wasn’t exactly healthy, but we didn’t expect her to just drop dead either. The cause of death on the death certificate is “cardiac arrest, “ which is a catch-all. Because I was in the middle of the term, Dad didn’t have an autopsy performed. I found this out later, and this really bothered me. He said that he didn’t want to keep me out of school any longer than necessary.

I don’t remember if I spoke at the funeral, but I know I didn’t cry. I remember that my Dad cried almost non-stop. I didn’t really process the death either. That’s what happens when you only talk on the phone, and your routine isn’t impacted by the loss. It’s really kind of fucked up.

My mother and I had a complicated relationship, but I was closest to her. While I had wanted to be a lawyer as a kid, part of the reason that I went to law school as late as I did was to prove a point to her. I didn’t pursue it earlier, because when I was young, she had told me I lacked the logic to be a lawyer. She actually said this a lot. The worst part is that posthumously, I ended up feeling like she was right.

She passed away at the end of October. I had met with my favorite and toughest (by general consensus) of professors, Civil Procedures, at the end of the term in December to tell her that I thought I needed to take a break. I was having trouble concentrating. (I had not yet been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.) She told me that she thought I should stick it out. I’d be ok. So I did. Dad was diagnosed with his tumor in February.

As it was, I had pretty much done enough to get by on my midterm exams. My performance in class, which uses the Socratic method of questioning, gained my invitation for the mock trial tryout. My interviewing had won my externships. But there was one exam that I totally tanked in the spring. When you combine that with the other exam grades that are average, you get a letter telling you that you are academically disqualified. You get kicked out.

I spent some time hiking in the mountains over the weekend that I had received the letter, and then I went once again to my Civil Procedures professor, this time in tears. She recommended that I reapply in a year, because I could do that, and that I would more than likely have no trouble getting back in based upon the circumstances. I told her I didn’t think that I would come back. I needed to rethink my priorities. She had said that this saddened her. She said that it is always the “good ones that we lose.” Two weeks before I was to leave for Geneva, I had decided to instead stay locally and opted to work for CHLA. I ended up telling them about my academic disqualification on my 3rd day.

This is my dirty little secret. (I have a few, don’t I?) At work, I say that I have learned more from my failures than my successes, which is true, and that concept is important for what I do. But I don’t talk about this. I should. Had I finished law school, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I’m not sure I would be as happy with my work. Most of my attorney friends do not love what they do, and they don’t have balance with their life. I was supposed to meet an old friend in Chicago this week. He was going to leave work to meet me for a drink at 2130, and then go back to work. Sure I wanted to work in a different area, but I would have had to pay off debt in a firm first. I know I could easily turn into someone who would work 15+ hour days without even thinking about it.

I think that I don’t talk about the truth of what happened because I associate it with what my mother used to say about me. I also associate it with my ex-girlfriend who made me feel intellectually inferior, and eventually left me for someone she felt was more her equal who also happened to be an attorney. Both Mother and K. became the primary drivers for me returning to school to pursue a law degree, so when I didn’t finish, for the reason that I didn’t, well, it became an issue of shame. Even if no one else knew that, I did. My residual anger from that is part of what still drives me today.

I think I consider this my biggest failure. It was something that I had wanted since I was a kid, and something that throughout my 20s, I had been conflicted about – whether to stay in healthcare, where the military landed me or to pursue a law degree, which is what I had wanted for so long but thought I wasn’t smart enough for. This is another one of those things that I need to let go.

 

*When I was little, I used to dress up, line up my stuffed animals on the bed, and pretend that they were my jury and play “court.”

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