Archive for the ‘childhood’ Category

Okay. So it’s true that I complain about things my parents failed to do as much (or more) than things they did do. Today in the “stuff they didn’t do, but should have, and it should have been obvious” category, I offer proof from an unlikely place: the Family Feud.

That’s right, the game show.

Not the original, 70s-tastic version hosted by Richard Dawson (unfortunately).

Today, on a 1990s-era rerun (thanks Game Show Network!), contestants were faced with the following survey question:

“Name a home repair that is necessary no matter how broke you are.”

Hmmm. I struggled thinking of possibilities…in my experience, we just never fixed anything. This has made me hypersensitive, so now even little things like light bulbs get insta-replaced in my own house.

Eventually, the contestants gave all four correct results:

1. Plumbing

2. Leaky Roof

3. Refrigerator/stove

4. Hot Water Heater

Interesting.

Breaking this down, my parents go 0/4.

0/5 if you count the refrigerator and stove as separate items.

1. Plumbing. The plumbing in my childhood house went out when I was in grade school. We had raw sewage running down the side of our house and driveway for over a decade, because instead of fixing the septic tank, my dad just disconnected it. My mom, brother, and I had to throw our used toilet paper in a trash can (because apparently it was more sanitary if we just flushed the poop). My dad couldn’t live with that, of course, and continued to flush everything to its final resting place directly out my brother’s bedroom window. No wonder he left home at 16.

Unfortunately, I can’t find the super-classy picture of when the chain in the tank broke, and there was a fire poker stuck in there for flushing.

Moving on…

2. Leaky Roof. Small potatoes. Try having the living room doors leak and soak the entire carpet every time it rained, making it necessary to wear shoes indoors just to get to the bathroom, unless you wanted to walk in mud. The roof in our entry room did actually partially collapse due to a leak when I was about 14. I have pictures, but I need to scan them. Proof from the eventual patch job that happened 10 years after the fact though:

It’s hard to get a clear sense of it here, but the floor was so wet for so long, the book case actually warped away from the wall. You can also see the mold line on the back wall marking how far upward the moisture wicked into the walls. Classy.

3. Refrigerator/stove. To be fair, the refrigerator actually did work until I was 16. 3 of the 4 burners on the stove did work, but the oven went out when I was about 8 and was never fixed. My brother and I determined to purchase my mom a new stove when I was 16 and had a job; in a freaky coincidence, the week we slated for a Home Depot trip, the refrigerator also crapped out entirely, so we ended up buying one of those as well in the same trip. It’s like even the appliances knew my dad was never going to fix them!

d-con in the kitchen? Sure. Why not? No fire hazard here, either. Safety first.

Which brings us finally to…

4. Hot Water Heater. I’ve complained a lot about the water situation at my house growing up. In case you missed those posts, our water came from a box spring, and emerged from our (very dirty) taps in roughly a 40:60 mud and silt to water ratio. I used to have to ring mud out of my hair after every shower. Gross. Showers in themselves sucked, because our hot water heater was dysfunctional, and had to be reset on an hourly basis. Taking a shower meant going into the front room, tripping the reset button, and waiting an hour for a whopping 5 minutes or so of water that was either lukewarm or scalding. Generally, I jumped in, got wet, turned off the water while I lathered, and then rinsed as fast as possible, because the longer I stayed in, the more mud I had to contend with. How we never had a fire in this house I will never, ever, understand.

The entry room where our water heater was located was always very inviting…for rats.

I like that this question included the line “no matter how broke you are.” Because even the survey of 100 random people understood that certain maintenance things aren’t negotiable. Failing to fix one of them is bad enough…failing to fix all of them is almost incomprehensible. How my parents could have ever thought it was okay to raise kids in that would be a lucrative and interesting study (take note, Family Feud question writers…)

What really hurts me is the reality that a new stove, refrigerator, and hot water heater cost significantly less than the price of one tractor. My dad had friends who could have fixed the roof for a minimal cost, and we had a neighbor who offered to fix the septic tank. My dad turned them down because of the cost. It was literally better to let us live in squalor than give up the chance to buy another D-4.

When should children be removed from a home?

Before this happens.

Home Sweet [Clean] Home

Posted: June 7, 2011 in childhood
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Finally. My boss is home from Europe, and I am home from my bosses. After almost a month straight of house sitting, it is nice to be home, chilling with the cat and my laptop. I picked up my boss and his partner from the airport a little after 10, and I’ve been reveling in being home ever since. Especially since my house is sparkly and clean. I came home this morning and cleaned. It’s one of those annoying/cathartic things that I don’t really enjoy, but simultaneously revel in. Since the house I grew up in never felt clean, I derive a pretty significant amount of satisfaction from feeling like my own house is a clean, safe, healthy place to be.

When I house sit for my boss, I tend to have weird dreams that revolve around my childhood and/or my house. I think it has something to do with the fact that when I’m house sitting, and walking through the neighborhood where my boss lives, looking at all the nice, big family houses, it always makes me think about how I grew up. It makes me think about families, and about what goes on inside the walls of a house. What makes a house into a home? I’m not entirely sure, but I know the answer is somewhere in the combination of love and support and discipline and encouragement that I didn’t get. I look at these big fancy houses/homes and somewhere in the back of my head I go back to being a little kid, wide-eyed, and wondering what it must be like to be a kid and get to go home every night to one of those nice, clean, painted and polished houses/homes. Part of me can’t really wrap my head around what that must be like.

Wondering about that sort of thing too much can be dangerous territory for me. It’s hard sometimes not to focus so hard on all the things I didn’t have that I lose sight for a while of the things that I did. More important, the things I didn’t have made me into the person I am today, and she’s finally someone I really genuinely like. But for the younger, childlike version of me that didn’t and to some extent still doesn’t understand all of the needlessly traumatic things I went through as a little kid, it’s hard not to be angry. While the childlike version of me is busy having a tantrum, it puts the 27 year old me in serious danger of becoming bitter.  Letting go of all that anger is hard, but deep down on a level I can’t always get to, it’s liberating. It’s what will allow me to live my life and love (almost) every minute of it, and not wind up broken and wasted.

For now, though, I just can’t wait to curl up in my nice warm bed, with my clean sheets, and my freshly vacuumed carpet, and my kitty…and no mice.

My parents are on their way to California right now to see about selling the property. There are multiple problems with this plan, because there are multiple heirs involved, and there’s a conservation/development easement on the property which legally bars it from being sold in pieces. Not all the heirs want to sell, and everyone has to agree, so there’s really no way that this is going to work…instead of letting the lawyers do their thing and deal with the situation though, my parents are content to give me a bad time for not “supporting” their decision.

It’s not that I don’t support their decision…it’s just that I’m realistic. I think the following exchange with my mom demonstrates how twisted my parents’ view of reality has gotten lately. [Side note: my parents’ cat just died. Not only was the cat insane (quite possibly the strangest cat I’ve ever encountered…) but they also never cleaned up after it. While my mom was in the hospital after her aneurysm I cleaned their house, and found a chair that the cat had pooped on…they threw a blanket over it and continued to use it like nothing was wrong…]

Mom: “We’re leaving Sunday for California. Meeting with a buyer for the ranch.”

Me: “Did everyone agree to sell?”

Mom: “No. They just keep making problems. I miss the cat.”

Me: “We can get you a new pet. How are you going to sell if not everyone agrees on this? You can’t parcel it out, so I don’t understand how you can negotiate a sale…”

Mom: “Dad owns one quarter. They need to sell. I’m not ready for a new pet.”

Me: “Okay. Probably easier for you to keep the house cleaner without a pet. I guess you know how I feel about it.”

Mom: “Oh thanks. Just once I wish someone cared how I feel about all this.”

Me: “What would you like me to do about it? I can’t make them sell…”

Mom: “I have always been interested in what you think!”

Me: “I just don’t understand the logic here because you can’t parcel the ranch out…It has to sell as one piece.”

Mom: “Our lawyers think we’re handling things correctly.”

Me: “That’s good, but I still don’t get it…”

Mom: “Never mind.”

So…now I’m the bad guy for…what, pointing out the facts? It scares me that my parents could be selling this property on some level, because that can’t manage money, and I have no doubt they’ll burn through it long before they should. And probably still not pay for garbage service or repairs on the house in the meantime.

…and let things like this happen:

Pretty sure there's supposed to be a floor there...but yeah...that outlet is totally safe for use.

…or this…

....spices....Jello....mice....black widows....check, check, check, and check.

…or this…

The living room...where supposedly we spent "quality time" together...

As a final note, I recently sent Mom a message letting her know that I mentioned the hoarding on my Avon Voices video submission page. I told her not to get upset that it says that the house I grew up in was so full of dirt and clutter that I sometimes didn’t feel like there was any room left for me, or for healthy, supportive relationships. She sent me a message back that said “I couldn’t get the video to load. I will take your word that it is good. Also, sometimes it’s better just to tell the truth.”

…I’m curious to know exactly what she thinks the “truth” is based on the pictures…

Bullies and Bibles

Posted: February 14, 2011 in childhood, rape

A couple of things have been on my mind this week. First off, bullies. Someone from high school that I didn’t really know very well added me on facebook a while back…I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it opened a Pandora’s box of add requests from people who I either haven’t spoken to in about a decade, or never really liked much in the first place. Some of the people who have been requesting to friend me I actually haven’t seen since elementary or middle school. Some of them I don’t feel much of anything about – I’m indifferent or ambivalent. Whichever comes first. Some of them I barely remember. Others were downright mean.

I don’t understand what would possess someone who absolutely hated me and spent the better part of their formative years making mine miserable to attempt to befriend me on facebook. I understand the curiosity of wanting to see what people are up to that you haven’t seen since they were eight…but it’s sort of the ultimate slap in the face to ask to friend someone you spent years tormenting. Most of the time I approve the requests just long enough to see what these people are doing, and then immediately delete them. I’m pretty comfortable with what I’ve accomplished in the last eight years. I don’t need the vindication of having these people, most of whom are still living in the same little town, working at the same dead end jobs, and spending time with the same closed-minded losers, see what I’ve managed to do with my life.

What bothers me more is that some of these people are friends with people who happen to be friends with the guy who raped me…hence his ability to find me. Easily. That was a good wake up call, and motivation to revisit the people I’m friends with on facebook. It took me a couple of days to mentally prepare myself for me…I guess because I wasn’t looking forward to having to go through and revisit those parts of my life. I finally did though, and it was very liberating. I deleted everyone I wasn’t really friends with; everyone I don’t really have any desire to ever talk to again; everyone who was friends with people who fall into the latter category. Or with the rapist. It sort of bothers me that he considers himself human enough to be on facebook…

On another note, I’ve been getting lots of ads from people that I used to go to church with. What’s funny to me is that when I was growing up, I was ostracized by these people for not being a “good girl.” Back then, because that was all I knew, it never really occurred to me that something was wrong with the big picture: I may have been a “bad girl” by some standards, but no one ever took into account the way my parents acted. No one ever seemed to question the way they responded to situations, or the impact that might have had on their kids.

When I was maybe five or six, I wanted desperately to be a “good girl.” I understood the concept of other kids helping with chores around the house and getting an allowance for it, so I made up a chart of chores I could do and how much I thought my parents should “pay” me for it. I don’t remember specifics, but I think most things were about a quarter. I remember working very hard for a five year old…doing dishes, folding towels, picking up my room, clearing the dinner table. I don’t think I ever received an allowance. And after a while, somewhere in my subconscious I became aware of the fact that no matter how much I did, the house was never going to get clean. It wasn’t even going to get any better. I didn’t understand the situation, but I know that even at such an early age, I already had the helpless feeling of knowing somehow that it wasn’t going to get any better. I always hoped that it would…but I also had the ingrained disappointment of knowing somehow that my parents wouldn’t change. They still haven’t.

Sometimes I wonder how much these people I went to middle school and high school with have changed. It’s a little incomprehensible to me on some level that they have normal lives…like karma never caught up with them. One girl used to pull my hair and push me around almost every day. Sometimes she hit me. Once she punched me in the face in the middle of class in the fifth grade. The teacher didn’t do anything to stop her. As far as I know, she never changed. It doesn’t seem fair.

Most of the people I went to church with were nicer to me, but they still didn’t like me. They didn’t want to spend time with me because I was a “bad girl” and they (or their parents) seemed to be afraid my badness would rub off. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to manage to be good. I wanted to. I didn’t understand that I couldn’t change because I didn’t have control of the situation. My parents did. And it was too much responsibility to ever put on a child. They still don’t understand why.

This is not the first of these posts, and will not be the last. As long as my parents are still alive, I’m always going to be playing parent in some form. I have Wednesdays off from work, so I made today my periodic “drive out to the parents’ house and pick up their garbage and take it to the landfill” day.  It went fine, but it’s always a reminder of just how screwed up my family is. At 26, it’s pretty devastating to have to feel like the parent in this relationship. What’s even more devastating is coming to the realization that most of what I was told as a child just simply wasn’t true.

Now, to be fair, I feel obligated to spell out some of the facts, the foremost being that my parents are, at the most basic level, truly nice people. My father, when it comes right down to it, is probably the most honest person I’ve ever met. I can in good conscious say that I don’t think he’s ever intentionally told a lie. My mom is very sweet and I can’t imagine her ever hurting anyone intentionally. Despite how it might look to someone who doesn’t understand the complexity of the situation, I love them because they are my parents, and to some extent I am able to wrap my head around the idea that they did the best they could.

That being said, how do you make sense of the world when what you’re being told doesn’t line up with reality? As a child, you learn to adapt, and it’s easy to start believing that the problem is you, rather than the situation. As a little kid, I wasn’t able to process the reasons why there were differences between what my parents told me was true and what I saw around me.

Some examples:

The statement: “Our family is the most important thing in my life.”

The reality: This was “good enough” for our family – the truck my mom had to drive had holes in the cab so big, we had to put garbage bags over our laps when it rained to keep from getting soaked. There was no heater, and I had to sit up on the seat with a squeegee to keep the windshield clear enough for my mom to see out of while she was driving. No radio, no working gas gauge, no heater, and only one working door. I was always told that “there wasn’t any money” to buy my mom a decent car, and I endured most of the humiliation of being driven around in the truck by ducking under the dash so no one could see me when we pulled into parking lots. My dad responded to my complaints by insisting that anyone who judged me by the vehicle I rode in wasn’t worth being friends with. He failed to grasp how cruel other kids are, how unsafe the truck was, and how irresponsible it was that he was more than willing to spend thousands of dollars on a new (by “new” I mean shitty, old, rusty, someone else was going to sell it for scrap metal) tractor.

The truck my mom drove for most of my life.

 

The statement: “I’ve always taken care of you.”

The reality: It isn’t possible to nurture anything in a kitchen that looks like this. Aside from mice and termites. And even the mice got sick sometimes.

The kitchen where all our meals were prepared...

 

The statement: “We’ve always supported you.”

The reality: “Support” in this case meant “toleration” based on the stipulation that I stayed out of the way and didn’t cause what my parents might consider “trouble.” What I’m learning now is that I wasn’t really the “problem child” I’ve always been accused of being – more than anything, I was “normal” in the sense that I just wanted to feel like I was important to my parents and that what was going on in my life mattered. While the message I was told always included verbal statements of “you matter,” the reality included a solid dose of the real underlying message, which was “my tractors matter. If you have a problem, please deal with it so I don’t have to be involved. I already have too much going on in my life to deal with your issues as well.”

Sorting through the devastation that someone else created...

 

The reality is that my parents are still relying on me to be the responsible one in our relationship, much the same way they have since I was old enough to dress myself. They hoarded things and allowed the house to collapse around us, and now they’re leaving me to clean up the mess, and the devastation.

I’ve been meaning to write this down for a while. Back in September, I got a chance to meet a bunch of crew members from several different boats on The Deadliest Catch. It was a neat moment for me, not so much because I’m a fan of the show (I am, but that isn’t the point…) but because Alaska is ingrained into my getting healthy on many different levels.  I started watching The Deadliest Catch a few months before I moved to Alaska in 2007 to work for the Alaska State Parks system. I had zero interest in the first few seasons; it wasn’t until I signed the paperwork for my contract with the state parks and bought my plane ticket for Kodiak that boyfriend insisted I watch the show so I’d know which boats to look for and take pictures of once I got there. I relented and watched a few episodes.

Moving to Alaska was a huge turning point in my quest to get healthy. In a lot of ways, it was the moment after which I started making real changes toward getting better. It was the point where instead of giving up and missing out on an amazing opportunity because I was afraid of the panic, I took charge and sought help because I was tired of missing out on opportunities because of anxiety and panic attacks.  Instead of forcing myself to go to Alaska and spending several months being miserable the whole time, I made the decision that I wanted to go to Alaska and be capable of embracing the experience. Prior to moving to Kodiak, the last time I’d forced myself to suck up the panic and travel was to spend two weeks in Europe in the summer of 2004. I spent the entire time shaking – literally, physically shaking – and absolutely desperate to go home. I thought if I could just get through that one experience it would make all other travel experiences easier. It didn’t…it just made me fear the panic more. I did get a doctor’s prescription for an anti-anxiety medication before I went to Europe, but in the Catch-22 that is anxiety, I was too afraid to take it, so it sat unopened in my suitcase the whole time. In fact, it’s probably still in my medicine cabinet.

When I went to see the doctor a few months before leaving for Alaska, something had changed. Instead of just saying “I don’t want to have panic attacks while I’m in Alaska,” I made the transition to saying “I’m tired of having panic attacks period. I want to learn how to overcome them. I just want to feel like a normal person for a change.” The doctor prescribed a different anti-anxiety medication (Cymbalta), but refused to send it through to the pharmacy until I made an appointment with a therapist. I kicked and screamed right up until the first appointment, because by that point I had very little faith in what simply talking to someone could do for me. I left for Alaska with medication in hand and a sense of trepidation. What if I really couldn’t be fixed? Then what??

I arrived in Kodiak terrified and homesick, but determined. A big reason why I credit Alaska as a major turning point is the length of time I stayed there – over the course of four months, I had to learn to face the anxiety because there was no imminent departure to look forward to. It was like a lengthy exposure therapy. It didn’t solve all my issues in one swoop (which I initially found disappointing) but it was a major turning point that opened me up to the idea that I could take steps to get better. I could survive four months in Alaska. On an island. Maybe I really could do anything.

That isn’t to say that Alaska wasn’t a struggle. It was – a huge, but very rewarding one. One of the things I did to calm myself down when I was having a rough day was to drive out to the Kodiak harbor and watch the boats come in and out. It was a strangely relaxing thing to watch them. I grew up near the ocean, but I was never a particularly huge fan of it. There was something cruel about it really, being dirt poor and living in a miserable home in an otherwise absolutely beautiful location. In Kodiak, however, I learned to really love the ocean for the first time. I found solace in the idea that the men who worked on these boats went out for months at a time, and for that time, the boat was home – that kind of strength can only be inspiring. In addition to that, it made me think of my mom, who worked on a processing boat in the 1970s during the Alaskan King Crab boom. Before she married my dad, she was a little bit fearless. She lost that by the time I was born, so in a strange way going to Alaska helped me reconnect with the woman my mother used to be. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a powerful thing.

Back to last September when I met Jake Anderson… For anyone who isn’t a fan of The Deadliest Catch and missed this story, Jake’s dad went missing over a year ago in the woods of western Washington and hasn’t been found yet. (You can read the full story here and here ) When I had a chance to meet Jake Anderson, along with Jake and Josh Harris and several other crew members from Deadliest Catch boats last September, they were collecting donations to try to find him.

I donated, of course, but something else was nagging at the back of my mind. As I left the craziness that was the autographs table, I gave Jake Anderson a hug and told him I hope he finds his dad. I told him I lost mine too, once, and he’ll find him. Then I rushed off and let 14 crazed screaming teenage girls behind me sweep in, cursing that I hadn’t taken an extra five seconds to clarify – my dad never went missing. But my Great Uncle, Jim did.

My Great Uncle Jim disappeared when I was nine. He had Alzheimer’s disease, and one day he just wandered away from my grandmother’s house, where he was staying, and never came back. There were a lot of days out on horseback searching through fields and ravines, and I remember being deeply impressed with certain aspects of the next few weeks – the rain and the rush of posting fliers and the crushing presence of search and rescue people. I remember most of all the uncertainty – the wanting answers. Did Uncle Jim just wander away? Was he kidnapped? Was he murdered? Was he still alive? A volunteer search and rescue worker found his body several weeks later at the bottom of a drainage ditch, under two feet of water. It was an El Nino year, and it had been raining for days. They only found his body because one of the members of the search team slipped and fell, and landed on him.

Most of all, I remember cleaning out Uncle Jim’s wallet. It had been under water for days, and everything in it was wet and covered in mud. It smelled like silt and decay…and death. I’m still not sure what my parents were thinking when they allowed me to be exposed to so much trauma without any consideration for what it might do to a little kid. (This is a big theme of my therapy lately…) When we cleaned out Jim’s house, a lot of his things ended up coming back to our hoarded home. For years, the comforter on my bed was from his house. It was impossible for me as a nine year told to separate these physical things from the idea of death, which I had trouble comprehending. (Again…this is a big theme of my therapy…)

Years later, I still think about my Uncle Jim and how traumatic it was to lose him that way. I wasn’t particularly close to him (then again, I’m not particularly close to anyone in my family) but it was a sudden and dramatic loss that was never mitigated for me. It was followed by more losses (Jim’s brother and sister) that were also never dealt with in a healthy way. Though my dad always claims that family comes first for him, he’s never followed through on what I’d consider a basic responsibility – getting tombstones for their graves. My Great Uncle Jim bought his own tombstone after his wife died. (My earliest distinct memory, coincidentally, is of her funeral, when I was three). Family legend is that he carried it around in the back of his truck and proudly to everyone before it was placed over her grave. My dad never had his date of death engraved on it.

So, Jake Anderson…I sincerely hope you find your father. I think the way your support your family is amazing, and I wish I’d had a big brother like you when I was growing up. You deserve to know what happened, and the comfort of finding out the truth. Wherever he is, I hope your father finds safe passage home.

My Great Uncle Jim's headstone, still missing his date of death.

It’s true. Because of my childhood, simple things like light bulbs now hold an extraordinary amount of symbolic power over how safe and secure I feel.  It all stretches back to being a child and learning very early on that just because something that broke around the house was an easy fix didn’t mean it would be taken care of. Replacing light bulbs for instance.

The bathroom in our house in California only had one light fixture in it. It was in the middle of the room (which was small) and it was a glass globe that shielded a single bulb. If that single bulb burned out, there was no light in the bathroom. When it did burn out, it generally didn’t get changed for a while.

Because of where the bulb was placed, it couldn’t be changed without a step stool. My mom had neck and back problems that made it increasingly hard for her to handle reaching overhead to change the bulb, so for a long time, I suspect my brother was the one who took care of it. He left home when I was 11, and after that, there were lots of times that the light burned out and just never got changed. My dad just didn’t do it. It never occurred to me that that was odd, because that’s what I was used to.

When I got old enough to reach the bulb from the top of a step ladder, I started changing the light when it burned out. But there was a period in the middle there where no one changed the light. The idea of candles still brings my dad to tears because he’s afraid the house will burn down (a real possibility considering the hoarding, but I’m quite certain he’s never put two and two together). The only option left was a battery-powered lamp, which provided just enough light to figure out where things were.  Now that I think about it, it almost made the situation more pleasant…dim lighting made it harder to see the worst of the dirt…

There's only so much dim lighting can do...

Flash forward to the present, and sometimes the simplest of things jolts me back to that place where the people who were supposed to be taking care of me quite simply failed. The house that I currently share with my boyfriend has standard lighting fixtures in the bedrooms upstairs that cover two bulbs each. Since we have three bedrooms, a master and two smaller ones, my boyfriend and I each have an office. As a general rule, I stay out of his and let it be his man cave full of computer equipment I don’t understand and various other odds and ends that cover the floor. I stay out of the man cave because it looks like a tornado hit it, and it drives me nuts. It’s the messiest room in our house, and sometimes it gives me flashbacks to my childhood home. When it gets too bad, I complain, throw around official-sounding words like “peritaxis”* and eventually boyfriend gives in and cleans it. (His version of cleaning does not equal mine, but I try to compromise).

So imagine my reaction a few days ago when I ventured into boyfriend’s man cave to collect some stray dishes, flipped the light switch…and nothing happened. Nothing. The bulbs were burned out, and instead of replacing them, boyfriend elected to use his desk lamp and ignore the overhead lights. I marched into the master bedroom, where boyfriend was sniffling with a cold and watching TV, and gave him a short, concise lecture on how his failure to replace the light bulbs made me feel like I was back in California.

This is one of those situations where tiny things turn into happy reminders that I’m in a much different place now. The next day, the lights had mysteriously been replaced everything was back in working order. Now if I can just get him to clean up the floor…

*Peritaxis, as my therapist uses it, refers to situations where the present is experienced as more than just what it is. In my case, for example, it means experiencing the past, and the neglect I suffered, in situations in the present where something is occurring which mimics certain aspects of something I’ve gone through before.