The Perfect Opportunity
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The Clue Bus

I got some indirect feedback today. Indirect as in, it wasn't directed directly at me, but I noticed. I think. Maybe. Right. So two things:

Clue 1: Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not required to heal. It's actually not. I'll be damned. I spent the good part of twenty-five years trying to forgive a rapist because I thought if I could, I could wipe away some of the trauma.

Words on that:

It wipes away absolutely nothing. I'm not saying, don't do it. I think there's a lot to be said for forgiveness; I'm just not buying the bullshit line that says you have to do it. Sometimes it might be better to just let it be and walk away from it.

It's the trauma you got to find a way to cut loose and forgiving somebody might be more like the glue that allows that sort of shit to keep happening. It's like a free get out of jail card that never expires.

BUT! If you get pissed off and stay pissed off and hold that shit close to your heart...

Maybe a couple of years ago when I was seeing a therapist who scared the shit out of me - note: I continued to see the therapist who scared the shit out of me because I thought I had to do that - I thought it was all on me. Where was I? Maybe a couple of years ago when I was seeing a therapist who scared the shit out of me, I suddenly asked him if I had the word Victim flashing on my forehead in neon lights.

Otherwise, why the hell would people keep fucking with me? Seriously. Why?

I don't recall his response being particularly helpful. However.

Maybe just last year, in conversation with the West Coast Dude who's been teaching me how to breathe, I said the same thing and he said... drumroll...

Yes, actually, you do.

That's a holy fuck moment, people. 

We carry our trauma and our trauma tells the world that we will, indeed, put up with this shit. It tells the world that we will, indeed, utterly accept this shit. For a lot of reasons, but they're not what matter just now.

What matters is that it's the trauma that draws the trauma and that shit has got to go. If forgiveness helps, that's cool. If forgiveness just feels like it's sort of ok for that shit to happen... then it is not.

It is ok to work to understand. Compassion. My mother told me this once and I absolutely believe her. I think she might have been quoting a dali lama during her flirting with buddha phase. My mother said, compassion isn't agreement. Compassion doesn't mean to you have to tolerate a thing. Compassion helps us understand and in understanding, there is power.

So why did that miserable man walk into my house on a school night and do some pretty bad things to me? A lot of reasons and none of them relevant to me other than to understand none of it was about me. Not even slightly. Thinking about who he was and how he maybe got there and what might have happened to him helped me see the world differently, which solved absolutely nothing, by the way. It solved a bunch of other things later.

But, you know what? I don't forgive him, but I don't dwell on it either. I spend a lot more time focusing on the triggers that came out of the event and the events that led up to that event (he surely was not my first abuser, you don't really think that?), and the events that came after. There are a shit ton of them and when I'm done examining each one that presents itself, I put it down.

Like baggage on a train platform. If it follows you, so be it, but you don't have to put the effort into dragging it. Another thing my mother said that I believe is utterly true. 

I think about that a lot. Forgiveness or no forgiveness is up to you. You decide. They're your boundaries and I'm not Jesus. And neither are you.

Clue 2: Shame

I wrote something about shame earlier today. I wrote about not being able to ask for help because it came with a dose of shame too big to choke down.

I need to be clear about something. Whether or not people are actually 'shaming' me isn't relevant. Not at all. The only thing that matters is what I do with it. I know that sounds trite, but it's not. Shame is also a really tough thing to scrape off the bottom of your shoes. Thinking about it helps. I can't do a damn thing about what anyone else thinks or does, but I can do plenty about what I think and how I choose.

That sounds pretty urgent. 

Also, you don't need agreement from anyone about whatever you've experienced, are experiencing, or think you might experience. 

Also, pretty urgent. 

The Clue Bus: Ouch

What I did on Monday:

I walked into an urgent care facility with some pretty significant and very measurable symptoms in addition to some very difficult to measure but also pretty significant symptoms. The urgent care facility was perfectly capable of taking blood samples. The web site says they do and this was validated later.

I told myself this happened because I'm uninsured. Wait. I'm self-insured, self-pay, and that does come with some negotiated fee structures depending on where you ask. I have a whole bunch of cash saved up for just exactly this sort of thing because I have been to this rodeo. 

I'm self-insured because I missed the window between November 1 and whatever date before 2021 was over and didn't get myself reinsured by the State of Vermont when my cobra expired. 

OOPS! I won't be insured by anyone until January 1, 2023. Major fuckup. 

I told myself this happened (I'm getting to this) because I was self-insured.

Fair. Right? No. Not fair and not reasonable. 

...and one more thing... it doesn't MATTER if I saved up a whole bunch of cash to take care of myself for a year. I'm still a person and I still have (last I checked) a right to medical attention. 

What I let happen to me on Monday:

By the time I saw the doc, she had nothing for me. My blood pressure was checked and I heard the number 140 over something and then I heard this... well, you're in a doctor's office, everybody gets a little nervous. They did a COVID test because it was mandatory. They also did a flu test. Whatever. Both negative but that's not why I was there. Here's what I got:

Go to your PCP.

I don't have a PCP! I gave up! There are no PCPs left in the State of Vermont!

Yes, it's really hard in this state but here's what I want you to do. Go to the parking lot and call this clinic in Essex Junction. I don't know where you live (it's on my fucking forms, woman, which are in your fucking hands) and I don't know if the location's convenient, but they're your best bet. They just opened up and they're still taking patients. Do it right now, don't wait. See if they will see you today.

(It was 4pm by then) 

But, wait! Aren't you going to run any tests?

We aren't equipped to handle what you're going to need and you're going to need a lot. 

What? Wait. Can't you do anything for the pain? Because Tylenol and Advil aren't cutting it and I can't sleep! What about a proactive course of antibiotics in case it's Lymes?


She actually threw her hands up and said she wouldn't even begin to know what she was treating.

Here is the appropriate response:


Not in all caps, but you get the point. There is no paperwork if there is not insurance to submit. You just prepay the $139 up front and get what you get unless you decide that's not cool at all.

Here is what I did:

I went to the parking lot and cried and then I searched my phone like she told me to and found the clinic and left a really incomprehensible message. The message was so incomprehensible that when I called back the next morning (not at 7:30 like I should have), the response was, wait, did you leave a message last night? We dialed a couple of numbers but couldn't figure out who you were. You need to come in here. Now.

I felt so hopeless and so scared and so shitty and so alone and then so full of shame because I let my insurance expire and now I'm untouchable. Whatever will my brother say about my complete fiscal irresponsibility, should he find out? How can I keep him from finding out... oh, and it just cycled and this has nothing to do with my poor brother. Nothing. 

It gets better (ok, worse):

I did see the doc yesterday, see the last post. And I am scared and I am glad I've got help and I am glad there's a 25% discount if you pay before you leave. The doc and I also agreed that he wouldn't be ordering any super expensive bloodwork or other diagnostics without a good reason and a conversation. That's just good practice anyway. The doc asked three or four times if something was ok. I didn't bother to ask how much because OF COURSE I want you to run a full workup on me and OF COURSE I think I should have an EKG given what you've just said about my blood pressure. 

I left the clinic scared shitless, but a lot better. Like, maybe I can do something about this and maybe it's a good idea if I take really good care of myself right now.

And then this happened:

I got a text message from urgent care asking for feedback. You know, rank our doctor?

And this is what I did:

Not a dog damn thing. I deleted the message.

And then THIS happened:

I got a call from urgent care this morning. It was a 48-hour check up. I didn't understand. What the hell could they possibly be checking if there was no diagnosis and no treatment? 

I decided to tell the truth and while I told the truth I said the same thing over and over again, it wasn't the doctor's fault. I know if I have to wait two hours even with a place in line that it's really bad, so please, it's not the doctor's fault.

What?! I probably wrote that in the last post too. Go check. I'll wait. 

And finally this:

I got a call back this afternoon from a supervisor of some sort and here's what I realized. I was diagnosed as COVID negative. My paperwork said I came in with flu symptoms and asked for a COVID test. My paperwork failed to note my symptoms, my lack of fever, lack of cough, lack of congestion. My paperwork failed to note that I'd already self tested three times in the last week. That morning being the latest test. 

I lost my shit. Not like, angry lost my shit, like, upset and crying while STILL defending the doctor sort of lost my shit. I ALMOST went so far as to tell the woman I was not a liability and she didn't need to worry.

The supervisor kept asking me if I was upset because they failed to give me my COVID results... What?

HEATHER! Seriously?

I'm just shaking my head.

My Mother Has a Fistful of Clues:

In 2003, my mother, who was in Ohio at the time, had to call my doctor for me on another telephone while she kept talking to me on the first line because she was pretty sure I was bleeding to death. She was right. I was bleeding to death and I'd been cowed one time too many by the doc and the doc's office and mostly the PA who put me on Premarin and said I was overreacting. I was bleeding to death and it took my mother calling the doctor to actually save my life. By the way, I REALLY appreciate that, Mom, in the event that I haven't been perfectly clear.

I literally ruined a mattress. Rendered it unusable by anyone in any way because I bled right through the top and out the bottom. THAT, people, is a shit ton of blood.

I ruined a theater seat on October 30, 2003 at the Gershwin Theater (look it up) because I was too embarrassed to get up and change a supersized tampon (they're kind of scary looking) every 30 minutes which is when they expired in my body and left on their own steam. 

I felt guilty as shit about not meeting my brother and his wife downtown for drinks afterward. I was a little unsteady on my feet and alcohol wasn't going to help. I still felt that I didn't have a good enough reason to go home (I went home because I had to go home).

My doctor let it go. Her office let it go. Her PA let it go. I let it go. My husband let it go.

MY MOTHER DID NOT LET IT GO. From Ohio. My mother might not do a good enough job taking care of herself, but she sure as shit was going to fly through that phone to make sure *I* was OK. Same for my kids. I'll walk through walls for my kids, although most of the time I suspect they'd just like it if I backed off a bit. I do my best. 


Clue Bus:    Am I going to have to run you over?

Me:        Please don't. I'm already pretty messy, don't you think?

Clue Bus:    Relevance? This is hardly your first offense. 

Me:        No.. no no no, it is NOT my first offense... please?

Clue Bus:    Maybe. We'll see. Watch your Ps & Qs.

Me:        yessir. Duly noted.