Beauty is as Beauty Does

So in dealing with the year and a half (almost two years now) of hell, I've picked up some... interesting hobbies.

Anyone who knew me before we left for Idaho probably didn't see me as much of a girly-girl. In fact I had a distinct disdain for makeup, fashion, hosiery, and lingerie, especially the expensive kind.

Then when I started my job as a bank teller and started treating the ADHD I discovered the most dangerous gateway drug ever: eyeliner.

When your job consists of dealing with the public on a one-to-one basis face to face everyday for 5 minutes at a time, makeup becomes almost mandatory. When you have such a ready availability of customers and your job performance metrics depend on randomized surveys there's a huge incentive to try different things out to see if they help.

Turns out a moderate amount of eyeliner encourages others to look you in the eye, making for happier interactions on both sides and increasing customer satisfaction and trust.

Dark brown eyeliner (which Chris ordered for me, God bless Amazon) made my job much easier and more enjoyable.

The experimentation didn't stop there, of course. Contacts turned out to be very helpful. Some brighter colored clothing. Then a good haircut, a proper shade of lipstick, some good eyeshadow...

It only took me 30 years to get to the point I should have reached at the age of 15 or so. I'm just a little behind.

Makeup obsession and experimentation led to clothing obsession and experimentation, then shoe obsession (okay, that was already there) and clothing obsession...

Then the obsessions took a turn for the less obvious. The job performance boost I experienced from wearing makeup turned out to be next to nothing compared to the boost I experienced when the lingerie and hosiery obsession started.

Wait a second. Isn't this all about visible cues, about interacting with other people? Then how does something not visible to the customer become a boost?

Simple. The customer reaction to the makeup efforts only accounted for about half of the boost. The other half was due to my increased confidence.

Turns out NOTHING increases my confidence quite like well-fitting and pretty lingerie and hosiery.

The reaction it gets when Chris sees it is just a bonus.

True beauty may come from the inside, but the inside is certainly helped by efforts on the outside.

So sure, makeup and clothing and lingerie and hosiery obsession may seem like rather shallow pursuits, but the truth can be quite different. Striving for making the best of what I have improves my quality of life and happiness (and therefore the quality of life and happiness of my family) so much that I no longer think of good cosmetics and good clothing as a waste of money or time.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm off to look for more pretty additions to the collection.

Putting it Out There

I've been holding back quite a bit of material, and quite a few words, for a very long time.

Anyone who reads the other blog knows about the situation with my kids, and the separate situation with my husband. My kids currently live with my ex (who is an unfit negligent parent) because of a jurisdictional trick he pulled off in 2010. This has left me feeling helpless and heartbroken and turned out to just be the first of a series of catastrophes.

Not too long after a lazy judge screwed up a whole bunch of lives my dear husband's health took a turn for the worse. He'd been struggling with symptoms for years but had no real diagnosis.

Then his brother died, from a "systematic failure" i.e. a combination of heroin, painkillers, infection, and untreated cancer.  This left him reeling.

Then we received a letter from the IRS, claiming that Chris had underpaid taxes for 10 years.

2 days after returning from the funeral a physician's assistant found the lump in Chris's neck. Thyroid cancer, slow-growing thank God.

Not long after, Chris was laid off of the job he'd held for 5 years. Fortunately I'd just started work, but it wasn't enough. Things were looking up though, because that meant severance pay and a new start for him.

Unfortunately the catastrophes did not stop. Loss of a contract. IRS issues compounding.

Then Chris's mother passed away a few months ago.

Fortunately this month we've been able to take care of a few of the problems. IRS is being dealt with. Chris just started a new job. I just quit my job, which was making both of us miserable.

So yes, there's some good stuff in there, but that's not the point.

I've been dealing for the past year and half with this series of catastrophes while learning to deal with newly diagnosed ADHD and not-so-newly diagnosed depression and generalized anxiety disorder. While doing so, I chose the method of coping I thought would work the best: dropping off the face of the planet.

Oh how wrong I was. Not that isolating myself didn't beat other options such as: running away, curling up in a corner and sobbing, complete and utter self-delusion, etc. However, isolating myself meant giving up the form of therapy that helps me the most: writing. Not just writing though, writing with an audience.

I did this out of a fucked up idea that talking about the pain would make it worse, and to be honest for the first while talking DID make it worse. Every inconsiderate, stupid, ignorant person I ran across just made everything worse.

For the most part our readers are not inconsiderate, stupid, or ignorant though, and I should have made that distinction.

Also, I worked under the fucked-up fear that whatever I wrote about my struggles with this year would be used against me in court by my ex. That's certainly true. It wouldn't be the first time.

However, given the track record on his part of taking my words out of context anyway, it's not like I really have anything to lose.

There's also fear that someone new looking from the outside at my situation would make some false snap judgements. After all, what kind of mother manages to lose her kids and then can't spend all of her time fighting to get the back?

One who is too busy trying to keep her sanity, and trying to keep her husband alive, and trying just to survive. That's the kind of mother I am. The kind that's holding on by her fingernails to whatever logic and sanity she has left while doing her damnedest to get her family back together and not become a widow or get divorced in the meantime.

Anyone who can't see that, well fuck 'em. Life is not clean, life is not fair, and bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people all the damn time.

I can't let the judgements of strangers get in the way of telling the story. I've realized more and more that telling the story is important.

Not just for me. Yes, it's my kind of therapy. Yes, it helps immensely as long as I keep a thick skin against the trolls. But it's not just about me.

Somewhere, out there in the interwebs, someone is dealing with a similar kind of bullshit. Maybe they don't have the custody issues, or the sick spouse, but they know what it's like to have your entire life capsize on you, and every time you right the boat that is your life the storms come back and capsize you again. And again. And again. And they know how hard it is not to give up and swim away but to work with your crew (spouse, family, friends) to right the boat one more time.

You may get discouraged, you may want to call it quits, hell some of the crew is injured and barely holding on and your arms and legs are sore from righting the boat and treading water, but you're going to give it one more shot. Because it's your life goddamnit, and their lives, and you're not going to give up.

That's where I am. Sore and tired and discouraged and sure, there's a nice breeze picking up but it takes more energy than I have to reattach and trim the sail, never mind tend to the rigging. But I'll find the energy somewhere.

Someone, somewhere, knows exactly what I mean by that, and maybe feels like no one understands, just like I once did. So for my sake, and for theirs, I need to write.