The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Tested By Fire (Parts 2 & 3 of ?) February 19, 2011

Hello all.  Today is another anniversary for me.  I didn’t realize the date until I was at work today.  In the middle of just another Saturday at work.  I was actually hiding in the bathroom checking Facebook on my phone, and I noticed the date, February 19th.  Two years ago today, my world broke.  Not to be dramatic or anything, but you know, it kinda was.  A week and two days after a tornado hit my hometown and killed 8 people on the same day that I found out I wasn’t going to have a job the next year. 

*

It had been a normal-ish day.  Read: a difficult day.  I was teaching, as usual.  It was almost the end of 6th hour.  Speech class.  We weren’t doing anything.  I think they were supposed to have been finishing an outline or something.  The principal’s secretary beeped in on the intercom and told me I had a phone call.  I went to the office to get the phone.  It was my husband, and his first words were, “You need to come home. The house is on fire.” 

*

My heart fell through the floor, and I said the dumbest thing ever:  “Are you kidding?!”  (Like he would joke about that, right?)  He assured me he was not kidding:  “No, I’m not kidding!  The house is on fire!” And I said “Well how bad is it?”  He replied, “I don’t know, but the firemen are here and there’s a lot of smoke.”  I told him I was on my way.  The secretary was sitting behind the counter looking at me, and I just looked down at her and told her my house was on fire and she said “Go. We’ll find someone to take your classes.”  I practically ran down the hall to my room, grabbed my purse out from under my desk.  I was hyperventilating, shaking, almost crying.  Things were falling out of my purse and I just grabbed them and stuffed them in the bag.  One of the kids asked me what was wrong and I said “Don’t worry about it.”  In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t been so snippy, but at the time, I think I didn’t want them to know or something.  I’m not sure.  I tore out of the room without a backward glance, ran out the side door, threw myself into the car and flew out of the parking lot throwing gravel. 

*

My school was about 10 miles from my home, and my normal 15 minute trip probably took 5.  I could see from down the street, there were several fire trucks surrounding my house, and I knew it was bad.  I pulled up and parked on the street in front of the house.  The firemen were everywhere, but it looked like they were finished.  The front door was standing open.  I think they were dragging a big hose out and rolling it up.  I walked up, and they said I could go in.  RMB and I went in together.

*

This house has been mine since it was built.  It was built especially for me.  Me and the kids and their father.   I was there when it was nothing but a concrete slab.  During construction, I crawled on my hands and knees and scraped plaster and wall texture off the floors, inch by inch, with a razor blade in the dead of winter.  I picked out the colors of the tile and the cabinets and the brick and the shingles on the roof.  The kids’ dad and I.  We were blessed to get this house because he has a CDIB card.  A certificate of degree of Indian bloodChickasaw, to be precise.  We entered the program at just the right time and we were able to get a new house, built on the lot we picked, with the colors we picked. 

*

When I walked in the front door of the home I’d lived in for 13 years, first with The Dufus, and then alone with my kids, and then with RMB, all I could see was black.  The walls, the floor, every surface, every object in the house was blackened.  One living room wall and the door leading to the hall were charred.  The firemen had torn into that wall and chunks of drywall were scattered in the floor around it.  The living room windows were blown out from the heat.  The living room ceiling fan was drooping, melted, toward the floor.  The back door was open, and the remains of the couch had been thrown outside.  Most of the things in the living room had been heat damaged.  The entertainment center, the computer desk.  My laptop that Mom got me when I started back to college.  The digital camera she got me for my graduation.  The TV, VCR, the kids’ collection of Disney movies.  The flower arrangement that was the casket spray on my first baby’s casket. The coats in the entry closet.  All blackened and melted.  The smell was overwhelming, nauseating.

*

I called my mom and dad to tell them what had happened.  I might have done that when I first got out of the car.  I don’t remember.  They were at our church building, sorting donated clothes and items that we had been collecting for the tornado victims.  School was almost out, and Mom went to go get the kids and bring them.  RMB and I had gone back outside, because we couldn’t take the sight, the smell, and the lingering heat.  Mom pulled up behind my car and she and the kids jumped out.  They walked across the yard, Mom hanging on to them, holding their hands, even though hers were shaking uncontrollably.  I walked in with them.  At first they just looked around in shock, then finally they started to cry.  Even RMB.  It was the third house fire he’d been through, and he said he didn’t think he could take it.  I did my best to comfort all of them, tried to tell them it was ok, that it was ok to be sad, and we’d get through it.  They couldn’t stand to stay in there very long, and we had to leave anyway.  The house was unliveable and there was no power and no water.  We knew Mom and Dad would let us stay with them, even though the kids’ dad and his wife and daughter were already staying there, since their house got ruined in the tornado. 

*

PART 3

We went to the church building to look through the donated tornado clothes and find something for the kids to wear to sleep in and to school the next day.  Mom and Dad’s house was now our house, and would be, indefinitely.  We were pretty sure the Chickasaw housing people would rebuild the house, but we had absolutely no clue how long it would take.  At the start, I was hoping for two or three months.  I was being optimistic. 

*

We went to Mom and Dad’s and tried to get settled in- just one big happy family.  My parents, me, my husband of only 21 months, my kids, their father, his wife, their toddler daughter.  Like a reality tv show from hell.  I only took a few days off from school.  Being me, I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone too much.  In the next few days and weeks, the rest of the family set about trying to remove everything from the house so they could gut it and rebuild.  I couldn’t be there.  I was stuck at school, trying to put on a normal face, trying to teach English and Speech to kids who couldn’t have cared less, all the while knowing it didn’t matter, because I wouldn’t be there the next year.  Meanwhile, everybody else was going through MY house, throwing out MY things, MY memories, without me.  I know, it was my choice to stay at school, but I didn’t feel at the time that I had a choice. 

*

Over time, we emptied the house and the reconstruction began.  Living at Mom and Dad’s was challenging at best.  After a few weeks, the kids’ dad and his family got some relief money from FEMA and moved to another town where they could find a house.  Things got easier then, but by that time, RMB had left.  He and my dad had a difference of opinion one night, but that was just a convenient excuse.  He went to stay with his mother, and remains there to this day, two years later.  We’re still legally married.  I plan to remedy that with this year’s tax return. 

*

So here we are.  Two years later.  The house was rebuilt, better and more beautiful than before.  Again, we got to pick the colors.  Wall paint, trim, carpet, tiles, kitchen laminate, everything.  Up until it was almost finished, RMB was going to join us when we moved back in, but at the last minute he decided he wasn’t coming back. 

*

But we’ve survived.  Exactly 6 months after the tornado, we moved back into the house that was cleansed by fire.  Our lives were a literal mess before the fire.  A literal disaster.  The house was continually a filthy wreck.  My new marriage was a complete disappointment.  The fire took care of all that.  A clean, fresh start.  The kids and I are here now, alone again, and we’re happy.  We’ve been tested and come out on the other side, stronger and better than ever before.  Tested.  And passed.

*

Until next time,

D.

 

Tested By Fire: (Part 1 of ?) January 24, 2011

Filed under: Tested By Fire — DDKlingonGirl @ 11:37 am
Tags: , , ,

Hello all.  I haven’t really ever explained here the story behind a certain sentence in my ‘About’ section that reads, “After a series of personal and professional blows in 2009…”.  I have decided I’m ready to tell part of that story, because today I have at last started on the final stage of the recovery.  I’m going to tell this story somewhat backwards, I think, because I don’t want to lose what’s in my head right now waiting to come out, by going back to the beginning and telling it from there.

*

So today I went to the E-Z Mini Storage after I took the kids to school.  That stuff has been sitting there for almost 2 years now.  I can’t really believe that it’s been that long, but it has.  RMB and I have made a pact that we are going to get that shed emptied by the end of this month, and obviously there is only about a week left of this month, so it’s time to get down to serious business.  I had wanted to clean and sort things as we removed them from the shed, in preparation for either returning them to their previous use in my home or including them in The Great Garage Sale.  We haven’t dedicated as much time to this endeavor as I had hoped, so today I decided that I would just bring it all back over here and store it in the garage with the rest, so that I can clean and sort at my leisure. 

*

Opening the shed is something akin to opening a time capsule or Al Capone’s vault, or unearthing a new layer of the remains of Pompeii or something.  I see things I haven’t seen in almost two years.  I see things that were relatively unscathed by smoke or water damage, things that were heavily smoked, and even a few things that were actually touched by fire.  Today the most significant thing I saw that fits in that last category was our wedding album.  On the top layer of stuff, in a small blue laundry basket, in pieces.  The pictures on top were from the honeymoon, pictures of the penthouse condo we were only able to experience because of my mother and her generous arranging of an upgrade to her timeshare.  The room had a hot tub in it.  We were not expecting a room like that, but it made the time so memorable.

Symbolic and sad

*

Back to the storage shed.  I brought one carload back to my house.  Included among other things were a box of figure skating video tapes, an Igloo cooler, a barely-used set of hot rollers, a box of kitchen tools, boxes of framed pictures, books and journals, and a bag of completely forgotten, but welcome, skinnier clothes!  When I got it all stored in the garage, I started picking through the bag of clothes first, looking for things I could wear now.  I sorted the clothes and started a load of them in the washer.  Then I looked through the journals and the pictures.  Nobody would believe how many journals I have!  Year after year, page after page, the parts I didn’t want anyone to read written in Gregg Shorthand that I learned from Mrs. Moxley in high school.  I didn’t clean them, but I decided what was to go or stay.  I started boxes of garage sale toys and miscellaneous, and I let go of some of the kids’ books and memory books from school that were too smoked up to be saved.  

*

Finally, after mostly emptying a box of kitchen things, I decided I’d found a stopping place.  I carried the smoked up spatulas, whisks, can openers, corkscrews and knives into the kitchen.  I ran a sink full of water and washed the breakfast dishes from today first, then the stuff from the past.  This cleanup is so overwhelming.  It’s huge.  It’s devastating, even two years later.  But I keep telling myself I CAN tackle this.  I NEED to tackle this.  It’s been too long already.  I can do ALL things through Christ.  One step, one box, one hour at a time.  Sure, it would go faster if I had an army of help, but it’s my responsibility.  And again, I think I need to do this, to sort through every smoke-stained box, every warped, heat-damaged item.  To examine what they meant to me, to let them flood me with memories, both good and bad, and then to either clean them up and embrace them again or let them go.  Both the items and the memories. 

*

My plan is to continue this work over the next two months.  I have a week to bring home the rest of the stuff from the storage shed, and then I’m giving myself until the end of March to completely sort through the garage and get ready for the sale.  And when the sale is over, whatever is left will be loaded up right then and there and taken to a donation center.  And I will finally be free of the aftermath of the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life. 

*

Until next time,

D.

 

Milestones, Recovery, and Improvement July 26, 2010

Hello all.  Tonight my post is dedicated to recovery.  Recovery from what, you ask?  Well, mainly recovery from writer’s block!  I’m not promising this post will be brilliant or even entertaining, but at least it will exist! 

Tomorrow is my Weight Watchers meeting.  I haven’t talked about that lately because I got on the ‘talking about books’ kick.  I gained 1.4 last week when we went to Branson.  I wasn’t terribly distraught because it wasn’t a huge gain and if I hadn’t been trying to be somewhat careful, it might have been five pounds!  Unfortunately, I haven’t done any better this week.  I haven’t eaten any healthier, and there have been a couple of days when I’ve just felt completely out of control.  I’m now reduced to cheating:  water pills today and tomorrow, and I’m actually donating blood before weigh-in! 

However.  I am definitely going to pull my cranium out of my rectum and get my stuff together this week.  I’ve got what feels like a million things I need to do in the next few weeks.  Small sampling:  send off for birth certificates so daughter can get driver’s permit, get referral from doctor so I can take daughter to dermatologist for acne like I should have done- what, like 2 years ago?  Make dermatologist appointment.  Make back-to-school dental appointments for kids.  Shop for school supplies.  Continue to search for photos and videos for my 20-year class reunion. 

I would add ‘try to work on cleaning out garage and/or storage shed,’ but I’ve been saying that for a year now.  On a related note, the kids and I have been back in our house for almost a year now!  It’s hard to believe.  August 10 marks one year since the kids and I moved back into our house after it was rebuilt from a house fire. 

We’ve come a long way in some respects, and we’re still in a huge rut in others.  I think, overall, we’re all happier than we were before the fire (and consequently, before the marital separation.)  I hate to admit it, but it’s true.  I think there is more peace.  Unfortunately though, we still have a really bad habit of simply cohabitating.  We share the same space, but we aren’t very connected.  Two 16 year-old girls, a nine year-old boy, and a Mom who’s about to turn 38.  And most evenings, one of us is on the computer, one of us is playing Playstation games, one of us is reading a book, and one of us is texting and listening to an iPod.  Sometimes all in the same room, sometimes not, but those are our regular pursuits.  We talk a little, share thoughts a little, but it’s not all cozy and Brady Bunch-y.  It makes me feel like we’re failing somehow.  Like I’m failing.

On the positive side, we have one teenage girl who is no longer severely depressed.  We have a soon-to-be 3rd grader who is no longer third-world skinny and who is much more even-tempered and often pleasant.  And we have a mom who has been trying to fix healthier foods and who has managed a 50+ pound weight loss in the last 7 months. 

There’s nothing on my walls, though!  We’ve been back in the house almost a year, and if it were not for my sisters and the work they put in last September for my birthday, the very few pictures and things that are on the walls would probably not be there.  The curtains are still held up with tension rods, some windows don’t even have curtains, there are no blinds, and most of the space is bare. 

See, here’s where I’m struggling!  I can either focus on our health and our food, or on housecleaning and homemaking, or on our behavior and relations, but it feels next to impossible to do that all at the same time!  I am simply not a superhero.  In a few short weeks, we’ll be adding school and all its pressures and pains back into that equation!

I understand I’m not the only single mom in the world, and I have it a lot easier than most.  I have parents who help me, health care for my kids, food benefits from DHS, and low income housing.  I have a car that runs, a job with bosses who are flexible, caring, and supportive, and an education that will allow me to find a better job when the economy improves. 

So am I asking too much of me, of all of us, when I’m trying to be Betty Crocker, June Cleaver, and Dr. Phil all at the same time?  I know there is always room for improvement, always a way to do better.  But maybe I’d be better off just learning to savor days and moments.  Making sure there is a bond forged between my and my kids, and between them and each other, that makes all the housekeeping, health-food eating, perfect-family-game-night stuff secondary. Maybe I need to realize all of that is not nearly as crucial as all of us just knowing that even if we’re not playing charades and eating homemade health food in a spotless house that looks like a Martha Stewart photo shoot, we’re still a good family and we’re still ok!

Maybe I’m onto something. 

Until next time,

D.

 

Cats, Kids, and Carpet- A Difficult Dilemma May 16, 2010

Filed under: Mood Swings,Parenting Perils,Stupidness! — DDKlingonGirl @ 10:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Hello all.  I’m having a really hard time, here.  You all know I caved in to pleading and sad eyes and told the kids they could keep those two little fuzzballs (kittens) they brought home the other day.  One of the ones the neighbor girls’ mom wouldn’t let them keep has already been killed by dogs and wound up on OUR front sidewalk when we came home from town the other day, which really upset the kids, Daughter S. more than the rest.  Of course, she’s the one I really did all this for- she’s the one who was devastated when our last cat disappeared, and still misses her a lot.  She’s the one I was trying to make happy.

Ok, two things- 1) One of The Dictators apparently has a serious problem because the potty accident I cleaned up in the bathroom behind the toilet had blood in it.  Or looked like it did.  And 2) I don’t want my house (yes, I’ll say it again- my brand new, clean and shiny, everything restored and nothing smelly, stained, ripped, gouged or broken, house rebuilt after the fire) ruined by being repeatedly shat on by these two little kittens. 

I know- they could and would learn to use a litter box.  But how many messes and how many permanent poop stains am I going to have to have before they do?  And how are they supposed to live until they do- locked at all times in the bathroom where there’s no carpet to ruin, except when they’re being held? 

I told the kids earlier, I’m not one of those people.  I can’t deal with inside animals.   I can’t stand to walk into my house and have it smell like dog or cat!  Most of the people I know who have inside animals, their houses smell when you walk in, either of just smelly dog, poop, pee, or litter box.  Of course, now that I say that, I can think of a few examples of people I know whose houses don’t seem to smell like animal.  I don’t know how they managed to train them so they never seem to have an accident, or how they managed to clean up the messes the animals made while they were training them so that they didn’t create a permanent smell.

I’ve already gone down that road- my house before the fire was a hellhole disaster area.  Between animal accidents and food spills, the carpet was beyond stained, no matter how hard I tried to clean it, and even when the house was clean it still smelled funky when you walked in the front door.  If there was dirty laundry anywhere in the floors or even clean laundry in baskets, the cats we’ve had in the past would pee in it, which drove me FLIPPIN’ INSANE!  I know the house had been lived in for 13 years and a certain amount of wear and tear was to be expected, but still…

I worked my butt off to get in the habit of keeping this house clean when we moved back in after the fire.  For the first few months I spent all my time in the mornings before I had to go to work, cleaning and straightening and trying my hardest to develop habits and patterns and routines that would allow me to keep this “new” house from becoming like the old one.  And even now I’m already slacking off and things are not as perfect as they were at first and it terrifies me, because I’d rather die than live like that again.  I’d like to blame it on the fact that we have internet now and I have this blog that I love and enjoy writing and spend too much time on.  And Facebook.  And whatever else I do online.  Or on the fact that I have a lot of days where I have to go to town early or take the kids to an appointment. 

But I can’t.  All I can do is be brutally honest with myself and say that it is my fault only, because I’ve made those things a priority over cleaning, and because I haven’t developed a chore assignment chart for the kids and made them help, even though what feels like a half-dozen counselors we’ve had over the years have been nagging and begging me to do so for ages.  I can get them to do stuff sometimes, when I leave notes threatening to ground them for life if they don’t do the chores I’ve listed for them to do.  But sometimes they don’t bother.  So obviously, I don’t have the discipline to train an animal or a child or myself to do anything right, and since I can’t, maybe I might as well not ruin my carpet trying!  Maybe I might as well take the lazy, selfish way out and just break the kids’ hearts and get rid of the stupid cats and just say this house does not have inside animals, period.

So what do I do- be a cold, hateful, selfish mother who cares more about her new house than she does about her kids’ broken hearts or do I just invest in some really good carpet cleaning techniques until the blankety-blank cats learn to use the box?  Daughter S. is already acting depressed because I told the kids in a fit of anger that they’d better say their goodbyes before they leave for school tomorrow, because The Dictators might not be here when they get back. 

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t even like animals that much.  I can’t get attached to them the way some people do.  Sometimes I have enough trouble being attached to my kids!  I’ve had our three dogs for years and if they all disappeared tomorrow I might be ever so slightly bummed for a brief moment, but then I’d think “Hallelujah, they’re gone!” and start planning what I could do with my back yard! 

Well, I’ve succeeded in getting myself in a major pickle, as well as a serious blue funk.  I told the kids we could keep the cats, even though I never wanted them.  Now we’ve had them for a few days and I REALLY don’t want them.  Where do I go from here?

Until next time,

D.

 

 
The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Shawn L. Bird

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