When you know a friendship is toxic

Now that I have just one short week until I can begin editing Waking Dreams, I have been musing on a friendship that recently ended after quite some time. I have really struggled with this decision, and it did not come lightly.

Over the weekend, I was on a hike with an amazing new friend and we began to talk a bit about our pasts. Something this new friend said really hit me. She talked about how funny it is that we women are always so concerned about the effect our decisions have on the social group, that we often sit back and take a lot of BS for fear of rocking the boat.  A light went off in my head. I have been angry at this other former friend for quite some time and my fear of “rocking the boat” in my social group has had an effect on me. I sat silently and then reacted poorly to a lot of things, but now… I just don’t care. My family is more important. And I want it to be extremely clear that I do not condone the behavior of this former friend (hereafter “NPD”).

I struggled for a while wondering why NPD had behaved in the way he did. Why did he continue to harass my husband and I, in spite of my repeated requests that he stop? Why could he not go a single conversation without implying that my husband had terrible clothing choices, was inept at taking care of himself, and me and was going to be a terrible father? Why did he think it was appropriate to then turn to making fun of my daughter, who had yet to be born? Why did he think, even after we asked and told him to stop, it would EVER be funny to joke that he was going to have sex with our daughter? And when we responded with a “WTF?! Don’t EVER say that again” – why did he laugh at our response and say “What? I’ll wait until she’s 18”? And when we said that was still inappropriate, why did he continue and say “What? I”ll have had a vasectomy by then!” Apparently our horrified response was exactly what he was looking for, since he continued to make the joke another two to three times. Maybe he would have made it again, but we stopped seeing him by then.

I will not stand by and tolerate someone who takes me aside to tell me what a horrible wife I am (while I was pregnant!), and then makes me listen to him complain about how his wife is a psycho bitch. Then, when I defend her, have him rally and tell me I am being mean. At the time, I was boggled. I had no idea what end was up or down with NPD.  Sometimes he was so nice and charming, that I forgot about all the other crud. Then it would resurface and I would feel like crap all over again. When Nick pointed out that he thought our daughter came early because of all the stress of dealing with this person – well, that highlighted for me just how unhealthy the relationship had become. Now, I just don’t care. I am still a bit angry at NPD and partially at myself for being so slow to realize how toxic the friendship had become. Better late than never, right?

I do not know if NPD behaves like this with other people, but I know that this is how he behaved with us. Given how he’s twisted what I’ve said and what others have said to suit his own version of the truth (i.e. whichever version makes him out to be the good guy), I can’t trust him.  I do not know what’s real with him, or what he says just to get attention, since he seems to want attention all the time.

Mostly – I will not gamble my daughter’s emotional or physical safety on what I already know to be an emotionally unsound person. I will not have her think it is okay to make fun of people in the way this person thinks is okay.  I have already placed my friends in the awkward position, and I am truly sorry about that. I will see NPD at social events, but that’s it. Our interactions will be minimal, and I will never leave my daughter alone with this person. Ever.

The epiphany was that I do not need to hide my feelings. I am happier when I am open about who I am. I want to put my foot down now and let my daughter know that it’s okay to cut people out who hurt you repeatedly. I hope she would have the strength to walk away if she’s ever in a relationship with someone who abuses her emotionally and/or physically. Cut and run, because YOU are more important than any potential social fall-out.

So, what do you do when you know a friendship is toxic? If it can’t be repaired – accept the loss and move on. Profit from my experience! Don’t spend months mourning the loss and wondering what went wrong! Accept the fact that just like all those other vices (junk food!), they may make you laugh or feel good every now and then, but overall, if they make you feel crummy, you should probably leave them by the wayside.

Thanks for listening, and I apologize for the high drama content of this post!

-The Rambler

First Draft Complete!

As of June 24, 2012, the first draft of my very first novel is complete. In my excitement (okay, in my happy exhaustion), I completely neglected to post on this blog. So here is the announcement:  It’s done!

Starting next week, the editing begins. I will not lie – this will be a long and ugly process. There are many plot points that need complete overhauling. If I were tracking changes, this would be an UGLY redline.

I can’t wait!

-The Rambler

Beer and stories to come…

So, I am sitting down to drink some wonderful beer. It is pure bliss to a nursing mother who rarely gets to taste beer for fear of ruining the precious milk supply. But little girl is asleep upstairs, and I have cracked open the yummy Oakshire Overcast Espresso Stout and am about to drink it all! Mwa-ha-ha! (Please don’t wake up, little girl.)

Anyway, I have been thinking about what I want to do with this blog and I decided that I will soon start posting some short stories. If folks so desire, they can get a taste of my writing style, offer thoughts, criticisms, or pour all the praise they want on my very grateful ears. By and large, the short stories will most likely be horror. There may be some fantasy, too. I may even write a collaborative short story with my very creative husband.

First, I need to finish up my draft of Waking Dreams. Now that I have posted this random little tidbit, off to write one of those final chapters. This time next week, I hope I am writing an update that says merely: “DONE!”

-The Rambler

Progress!

Well, I have finally broken the writer’s block that has kept me stumped the last few months. Hurrah! I cleaned up the piece of plot that apparently nagged at the back of my mind for these last months until I decided to just remove that plot line, and deleted all references to it and re-wrote the last chapter I had written. I have my next chapter outlined and now I just need to sit down and…write. I only have three chapters left of this monster, then I get to go through and do what I love best – EDITING!

In very important other news, my husband’s master’s thesis was just approved, which means he is done with his Masters in Neuroscience! Technically, his Masters in Psychology, since the Institute of Neuroscience is within the Psychology department at the University. In spite of the several challenges that faced him*, he did it! I couldn’t be more proud. You may not be able to tell, but if you listen closely, you may be able to hear me doing the happy dance and squealing with joy. I have my husband back! Woot!

Now, we are preparing for Phase 2 of Nick’s educational plans – med school applications. Groooooooan… I have every confidence that he’ll get in, it’s just such a long and nerve-wracking process.

Well, I think that ends this particular ramble, so I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

-The Rambler

*including the financial struggle of our family living on my small income, taking care of my mom while she was in hospice, taking care of me and my family when we fell apart after my mom’s death, helping us renovate and sell her home, buying our own home, and the birth of our very first child.

Whoops!

Well, thanks to my older sis, TMiYC, I now realize that I apparently had some goofy comment settings. I apologize to anyone who tried to comment and encountered word captcha prompts. I believe I have corrected the issue. Sorry!

Apology aside, I have been very productive. My sister and nephew are visiting for the long weekend, which has been awesome. I made apple spice cake. Hung out with friends. Celebrated the 70th birthday of a very dear, beloved man. Played with my little girl. Napped with my little girl. Heck, I even thought about writing. Quite a lot. That counts, right? Maybe tomorrow I’ll do more than think about writing… I mean, they do say “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?”

Okay, that’s really not my motto to live by, I swear it. It’s just a coincidence that it happens to be true.

-The Rambler

Real World Time

So, now that I’m all caught up on what I’ve been up to since my solitary 2010 entry, here we go “for realz”.

Back in 2010, I truly thought I would post weekly or monthly updates here. Not so! After a while of brutal neglect of this blog, my sister kindly reminded me that writing a blog does actually help the creative process. The reminder was quite public. You can check out her gentle and humorous nudge here: I’ll Love You More if You Blog

When I read the post (mind you, she ran the post by me prior to posting, since she’s responsible like that!), I laughed and then thought “Who has time for that?! I’m a new mom and I’m barely finding time to write anyway!” Of course, we make time for things that are important. And ever since I picked up a pen when I was 11 and began writing an atrociously plagiarized fantasy novel, I have loved writing. Deb and I, ever the duo, even came up with pen names at the time. I was “Raven (R.T.) Sangstrom” and she would be “Sarro Sangstrom” – these were also the pseudonyms we used for each other in an alternate universe we created for our then-Emo selves. Ah, those were the days! When dreams were as real as anything tangible!

I never did finish that novel. I got really close – almost as close as I am to finishing Waking Dreams, actually – but I lost steam. Mostly because I made a huge mistake. When I was twelve, I looked over the 130 painstakingly handwritten pages and realized that it was entirely rubbish. Wholly unoriginal. My little brother had read the whole thing and loved it, but he was only 9. Actually, he was really ticked off and threatened to burn or tear the pages of my book if I didn’t finish it. Luckily, he wasn’t nearly half the terror he pretended to be. He only hid the pages, he didn’t destroy them. Kind of like he hid my “Best of the 70s” tape rather then destroying it when I listened to “How Do You Do” and “Brand New Key” too many times.

Anyway, that’s a little background into why, after all this time, I am back into the world of blogging! If you find this blog wretched, you now know who to blame: my sis, TMiYC. Go to her blog and tell her I suck. (Not because I want you to deal with the wrath of my older sister. Nope. Not at all. Ok, maybe a little. I dare you.) If you like the blog, then it’s all me. 100%. I can be silly, I can be serious, and I do rather enjoy the nonsensical, so be warned.

Most of all, whatever your feelings, thanks for reading.

Love and Peace!

-The Rambler

Well, it has been quite some time since my last post. I swear I had every intention of updating this blog regularly. Really. *ahem*

That being said, quite a bit has happened in the interim. In 2010, I lost my mother to what felt like a very short bout with neuroendocrine cancer. I took time off work to take her to her chemotherapy, and then, to take care of her in her final months.  After she passed, I struggled with all of the usual caregiver doubts. I worried that I hadn’t given my mom enough pain medicine to cope with her pain, or that I gave her too much and it hastened her end. Did I offer her enough liquids? Should I have forced food on her more frequently? Was she comfortable? Why didn’t I say what I wanted to say so many times? Did she hear me when I told her I loved her at the end, and that we would remember the light she brought into this world?

For that first year, every time I thought about my mother, I felt I was reliving the pain of losing her all over again. I felt that deep feeling of regret and hurt, a loss that I wish no one ever had to feel. Time and again, I saw that woman around town, with hardly any hair dressed in a pink jump suit and tan jacket, that made me stop in my tracks, fighting the urge to chase her down crying “Mom! Is that you?!” Every time I saw this woman, I knew it was not my mother. I had watched her body be laid to rest in the cold, wet ground of the cemetery.

Once I returned to work, there was continued turmoil. It may or may not have been influenced by my grief, before I finally switched jobs. My new job is fantastic and fits very well with my spouse working towards a masters in Neuroscience.

At the end of 2011, I welcomed my very first child into the world. My sweet little girl. Prior to her delivery, I struggled with the knowledge that my mom would never meet my daughter. My mom had always told me that my husband and I would make beautiful babies. Then our little girl came along and turn our world on its head. Oh, how right my mom was! In so many ways. Like she predicted, I have never loved any person or thing as much as I love that little girl. All those little things that used to put me in STRESS! mode fell away. So long as I can keep her safe, sound, happy, and loved… the world is as it should be.

There were a lot of big and little things that happened between 2010 and now that I have simply glossed over. Now, my little girl is five months old and I am even closer to finishing my very first novel. It is still titled “Waking Dreams”. Someday it may have a better title, but I will wait until I finish these last few chapters before committing.

Hopefully my posts hereafter will be (a) more frequent and (b) more cheerful.
– The Rambler