Words are powerful. Once you spit them out, you can’t suck them back in. The especially harsh ones hang in the air, then drop like stones, shattering the target and diminishing the speaker. Often we use words like missiles, carefully aimed so as to inflict the most stinging injury. Then like children, we beg for forgiveness for our carelessness. Or all too often, don’t beg for forgiveness. One thing’s for sure. We need to be very mindful of what we spew.
Details are a bit blurry because of all the ever-changing psych drugs I was prescribed, but somewhere in 2005, I was strongly urged to attend intensive group therapy sessions after a suicide attempt, or be placed in-patient for treatment. My psychologist was unrelenting. Okay then. Intensive therapy it is! I ended up attending longer than almost any other person there, probably because of my husband’s excellent insurance. We were separated by then, and I was not feeling warm and fuzzy toward him, but I was thankful for the ‘cadillac’ insurance policy, and his hard work at the job that provided it.
Attending group therapy was not my gig. I didn’t care for spilling my guts to people I didn’t know or want to know. At social events, I usually reverted back to my career as a musician/entertainer. It was a nifty way to participate in a group without revealing too much. It was safe. I could protect myself. I was an introvert who had learned very early in life to survive emotionally by pretending to be an extrovert, then quickly retreating behind my invisible shield. But that’s tough to do when you’re sitting in a tight circle looking at other wounded people.
Each round of revolving door psych meds really heightened my emotions, so after a few weeks of being mute, I went into performance overdrive. Myself and another participant entertained the group every evening with non-stop chatter. We pretty much knew every gory detail of each others’ lives, so after a particularly prickly day of ‘ex’communicating…well, he technically wasn’t an ex yet. You see, this was our 2nd divorce. Okay, that part actually gives me a headache. Anyhoo, when I was asked by a concerned fellow nutcase about divorce negotiations with the hubs, my smart-mouth answer was, “I’d like to shoot him and watch him die!” Well…now…of course it was just a wisecrack, and in the context of ‘group’, was my norm and mostly harmless. Stupid, but harmless. However, I did make an egregious faux-pas during a phone call to the Social Security Administration. My mouth ran-eth over as I repeated the ‘shoot him’ joke to the customer service person. It was again in the context of ” OMG! Aren’t men a pain?”and she did laugh, so I thought nothing of it until a couple of days later. But let’s pause here for a bit of a back story.
My life went straight down the crapper after my emergency heart bypass surgery in December 2002. I could hardly work because of the PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety disorder, brain fog and depression resulting from the intervention into my heart. There’s a well known connection between the heart and brain, also involving the chakras or energy centers of the same. Ih fact, it’s said that the heart is the second brain, but I have to wonder if the heart is not only the seat of our soul, but uses the brain as a peripheral fact/sensory-vessel and actually runs the show in our bodies. My intuitive healing work in clearing the body of trapped emotions certainly supports that theory. You can’t think your way out of or clear stuck trauma with your brain, but once removed, your heart is more free to give and receive love, and live in gratitude rather than in the anger and resentment all of us tend to latch onto that keep the wounds open and festering.
I didn’t understand any of this at the time, however. The terror of waking up hearing the clinking of steel surgical instruments hitting the tray, thinking that I was still in surgery, not able to open my eyes or move to alert anyone that I was awake stalked me. It drove an overwhelming anxiety and doubt that I wouldn’t be able to care for myself and my daughter, a high school senior who was planning her freshman year at Indiana University. Add to that the many years of anti-depressants and bi-polar meds that accompanied the progressive unrelenting exhaustion that was part of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome diagnosis from 1994, and I was in a complete strangle hold of fear, hardly recognizable even to myself. I simply didn’t know this post-heart surgery person.
But before December 2002, I was doing so well in condominium sales that I decided to finally exit my longtime unhappy marriage. Since the condos were very nice, and my husband refused to move out of our family home, I bought an especially beautifully situated one with gorgeous views out back and the perfect spot for my 6′ 5″ black mirror finish grand piano. My daughter Ashley and I and our furry companion chihuahuas, Prissy and Brewster, settled in along with my big ol’ piano. It was no small feat to move it into the 2nd story condo. It involved a forklift and 2 crews of piano movers, but that’s a story for another time.
After only one year in the condo, I bought the house back from the hubby who couldn’t afford the it on his own, which is what I had tried to convince him of the year before. Ashley and I, the dogs and the grand piano moved back into the house I loved just 3 months before a tragic cascade of events, including losing the lucrative sales job, sent me to the ER, afraid I was having a massive heart attack. I was admitted into the hospital and scared into emergency surgery by a cardiologist who told me that I could die before I ever saw Ashley walk down the aisle. That woman had a very effective sales pitch which she also used on other surgical candidates. A friend’s husband, who had the same doctor, experienced that pitch in order to get his surgery scheduled post haste. I will always prefer to believe the doctor’s motives were pure, but I also suspect that in my case, there could have been cardiac interventions employed to prevent having a double bypass. That decision took 10 years of my life away. And a year later when my health was still speeding downward, the good doc had no compassion for my personal situation hell, and instead browbeat me for not being a good enough patient. Her words were “let this news be a two-by-four to your head!” I was stunned at her lack of compassion and unwillingness to even listen to me. So much for bedside manner. But let’s get back to some humor. I need a laugh. How about you?
Between 2003 and 2005, I moved 5 times. There were so many because I was trying to re-group from the unfortunate rabbit trail into the abyss of a 2nd marriage with Ashley’s dad, also my 2nd hubs. My search for an an abode had to include one that I could afford for my daughter, myself, the dogs, and my big ol’ piano. The piano was necessary so that I could teach lessons here and there, as well as practice for the service at the church that employed me as a musician. And because my entire life had been based on music, my instrument was part of my identity. My other instrument was my voice which was much more easily transported, although it was showing strain and an undependability that I had never experienced before.
I became the queen of packing and very efficient at relocating, but each move took more of my non-existent energy. The trauma from the heart surgery on top of all the prescription drugs, migraines, profound fatigue, and fear that the rest of my life was lost was overwhelming and unrelenting. How I lived through this is still a mystery to me, and I certainly must have been delusional to sign up for it in the first place! I have heard it said that the earth is a schoolroom where we can learn the necessary lessons needed in our soul’s progession. But honestly, it felt like I crammed too many lessons into a way too small slice of my life.
To continue the saga, because of a lack of funds, I moved from my lovely family home a 2nd time to another condo with Ashley, the dogs, the piano and the ex, in order to provide my daughter (and me) some kind of support system as she began college. The stress of 2003 was too much for her as well, so she sadly left school before Christmas, but thankfully had a job waiting for her at the vet clinic that she had worked at part-time in high school which provided her a bit of continuity from our previous life. After I gave my Mercedes SUV back to the dealership (an event of extreme embarrassment), Ashley and I shared her car for a short time. Both of us had jobs across town, so juggling one car was difficult until I was able to buy an interim jalopy from a friend’s son. That car was the bain of my existence. It literally rained on me inside the car from a sunroof that sneakily collected water until I stepped on the brake just right, then it released it’s fury on my head and business suit…several times! This provided occasional comic relief, but mostly we were all suffering, including the dogs.
After a trip to the heart hospital again for irregular heart rhythm, I knew that I could no longer stay in the emotionally impossible situation with the ex who had magically turned into my 3rd husband, so on to an apartment large enough for Ashley, the dogs and the big ol’ piano. This 2nd exit from the hubby the afternoon of his Mom’s funeral was unfortunate timing that couldn’t be prevented. I was working part-time as a real estate agent selling condos again, living with a friend temporarily until the apartment was ready, and needed to be out of her home before she and her husband returned from vacation. Navigating through all of this, the funeral, and the in-laws, was daunting and sent me to the ER again after the movers left that evening. I had no way of knowing that the mother-in-law that I had been very close to would pass unexpectedly. Everything that could possibly have happened…did. What a nightmare! Where’s that humor? I’m gettin’ there.
When Ashley moved to her own place with her dog, Brewster, I sold my beloved piano for living expenses and moved to a smaller apartment with my little Prissy. That was move number three. Unbelievably, that apartment had a leaky ceiling which caved in (the complex really was great, but my luck wasn’t), so management moved me to a temporary place, then into ANOTHER really tiny apartment. Whew! After relocating to the really tiny place, I didn’t even try to unpack. There were boxes stacked high all over the itsy bitsy living room with just enough space for me and my doggie’s bed.
I often didn’t bother to answer the door unless it was the UPS guy. I peered through the tiny peephole. There was a cop standing there. I opened the door.
“Are you Mrs. King?” (I kept my maiden name after divorcing the 2nd husband the 1st time. I was very busy moving and divorcing).
“Yes. Can I help you?”
“I’m with the Fishers Police Department. I’m here on behalf of Homeland Security.” Who’s homeland??! “May I come in?” I stepped aside.
“We received an alert from Social Security of a possible threatening situation.”
I started smiling, trying desperately not to. He looked for all the world like Barney Fife! Small man, full uniform, holster and gun at the ready!
“Ma’am, did say you wanted to shoot your husband?” I absolutely spewed laughter.
“Does your husband have a gun?”
“I don’t think so.” (I’m valiantly struggling to compose myself). “You’ll have to ask him.”
“Do you have a gun ma’am?”
“Good lord, NO!”
“Can I look around?”
The officer began to survey the piles of boxes covering most of the tiny living room, the look of dismay plainly on his face. If there was a gun, he was beginning to surmise he would never find it anyway without a search warrant.
“Well…are you positive you don’t have a gun?”
“Nooooo! I don’t! And I don’t really want to shoot my husband. It was a joke! Really.”
“Well, Social Security has to report every threat. I’d be more careful about what you say from now on.”
“Oh yes, officer. That was a very stupid joke. Never again.”
And I never did.