Thursday, April 15, 2010

Five Rooms in a House


Do those words put together in list form remind you of anything?

No? Then what about this? Kubler-Ross model.

Some of you may have guessed the reference after two words. (You would have guessed after one word if you had had any inkling of where this post is going.) Others may have had their memory jolted with the name Kubler-Ross. For everyone else, here is the answer:

The Five Stages of Death.

There is a wikipedia link Here. Included in the link is a rebuttal by one George Bonanno[2], professor of clinical psychology of Columbia University. Professor Bonanno claims that two decades of serious scientific research reveals no basis to support The Five Stages of Death theory.

I don't know. Considering that the only claim is that people suffering catastrophic pain/loss will pass through at least two of these stages - in no particular order - at least once, I find the claim that there is no evidence strange.

For one thing, two of the stages are at odds with each other: denial and acceptance. By definition, if you aren't accepting what has happened/is taking place, then you are denying it. And if you aren't denying it then you must be accepting it. So that means EVERYONE goes through at least one of the stages.

What about the other three? Anger. Bargaining. Depression.

I find it very difficult to believe that less than the majority of people who learn they are dying, or that someone they love is dying, or that someone they love has died, or that their spouse has filed for divorce, or that they've lost their job, or whatever catastrophic event you care to consider, does not at least get depressed about it. The two most common reactions to horrible events are anger and depression.

My personal biggie is depression. According to the Kubler-Ross model, people not only pass through the various stages, skipping some and visiting others, they may actually shift back and forth between a couple of stages.

This means one can be angry on Monday, accepting on Tuesday, angry again on Wednesday, depressed on Thursday, accepting again on Friday, depressed again on Saturday, bargaining on Sunday, and angry again on Monday.

Or some other combination.

Leaving a stage does not mean that stage is over. And entering an accepting stage does not mean it either. It may not last.

And to further complicate the idea that the theory is bogus, the theory clearly states there is no time limit. Moving from one stage to another may take weeks, or months, or even years.

I have experienced all five stages in my life at various times and dealing with various events which, in my opinion - sucked.

Denial is probably the one I understand the least. It tends to be connected to bargaining, I think, and I am a bargainer. If I'm bargaining for some kind of reversal, then I must not believe it's a "done deal". So, I have to plead Guilty to denying the truth when I don't like it at all.

Anger. Well - yeah. Of course. I can remember slamming billiard balls over the pool table. Hitting them so hard with the cue stick they actually flew off the table. Using the cue as a bat and hitting all the balls at once. Yelling at God. (It's always God we blame, isn't it?) Swearing at him. Demanding to know just what in the hell he thought he was doing anyway? Oh, yes. I have become angry when devastation strikes. Then I'm grumpy around those I care about.

Bargaining. I've already admitting to being a bargainer. My problem is I generally never have anything to bargain with. I mean, what can I offer God that he doesn't already have? Myself? He's already got that. Had it for years. I keep worrying he's in the market to trade up and a better model, or just give up and toss this one aside. Fortunately, God is more gracious and has far more patience than I'll ever know. But I still worry about it. I'm a real pain in the spiritual ass.

Depression. Hell, it's not unusual for me to be depressed when nothing has gone wrong. All I have to do is remember some trauma from my past and - whoosh! All the feelings of goodness and contentment are submerged beneath waves of emotional pain and anguish. Yes. I get depressed about catastrophic events.

Acceptance. This is a strange one. It's the one that frustrates me most. Why? Because it doesn't always stick around. I'll get to a place where I have accepted the truth of a matter, feel fine about it, and actually being to move on. Then, without warning, there I am - denying, bargaining, getting angry or depressed. Those four feelings/attitudes never seem to want to leave. But acceptance? It can hardly wait to get away from me. I think acceptance really hates me.

Part of my problem is my sensitivity. Things that other people let slide away like water from a duck's back just crush the hell out of me. It's like we all have this invisible umbrella, and for other people it sheds the water, because they're holding it properly. Somehow, I hold mine upside down, so instead of channeling all of these negative feelings away, I collect them - right on top of myself. For a person with an I.Q. many people would drool over I'm not very smart.

But the core of my problem - I think - is that I appear to define my self worth on people, things and events outside of myself. Instead of looking at myself with my own eyes, I try to see myself as others must see me. And their actions dictate far more to me than their words. So when I talk to someone who tells me I'm wonderful, but then refuses to have anything to do with me, I have to discount the words and assume there is a problem of some kind.



I'm not sure which of the five rooms I'm in, but it's quiet. So it must be either depression or acceptance. Certain actions I have taken recently suggest acceptance but, like I said, acceptance doesn't really like me. It might be depression in disguise. We're good friends.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Bottom's Looking Bigger and Bigger All the Time

Edited at bottom:

So I just got an appointment to go in to be checked so I can renew my diabetes medicine. Now we're waiting on a call back to tell us how much the whole thing is going to cost us.

That's US, as in WE. NOT U.S. of A.

So far we have been told it will cost $150 to show up and leave. Nothing done. Nothing checked. Just boom! We're out $150 for gracing them with my presence. I knew people didn't like me, but I didn't realize it was going to cost me $150 just to have them look at me.

Once I'm there someone (or more) will take my pulse and blood pressure. This is extra now. Not covered by the $150. And since this is a diabetic appointment someone will need to draw blood from my arm. Someone else will need to test it. And it will need to be reported. Not free either.

As things sit now I would not be surprised if we were told it's going to cost us $300. Or MORE. If we're lucky it will only be about $250.

At $250 my decision becomes difficult. That's a lot of money. With milk at $3 a gallon and bread at $1.25 a loaf and butter at $4 a pound that's still a lot of groceries.

The telephone/internet bill is about $70. That's three months worth. (Why have internet? It's getting so one can hardly live without it. Even son's band practice is done over the internet now. No exceptions.)

So, at $250 I have to choose between medicine and other things - such as food. And what makes that so aggravating is that $150 of that bill is for absolutely NOTHING. Just showing up is worth 50 gallons of milk. I'm not sure that it is.

If the bill turns out to be $300 or more the decision becomes significantly easier. I will cancel the appointment and quit taking diabetic medicine. We can't afford to do anything else.

Can we afford the consequences? Well, let's examine that.

I have no job. Therefore I generate NO INCOME. So my loss represents a no-change status regarding income.

If I am gone there is less food being consumed. Less water being used. Less electricity.

From a strictly financial perspective it actually looks to be a good deal.

But there's more to life than money.

Unless you live in the United States of America. Then that's all there is, I'm beginning to think.


Got a call from the clinic. The final guess they're giving is $250. So I will be going to the clinic next week.

I signed off by telling them, "Be sure to send a thank you to the governor". The woman chuckled grimly and assured me the governor's office would be hearing about all of his cuts to healthcare for the poor.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Graveyards are Where We Make Them

After Daddy died we would visit his grave often. As often as we could. It was nearly 100 miles away.

We would go to the graveyard, tucked away in the trees just outside of a small town, and walk to the grave site and stare down, as if expecting something to happen. Perhaps wishing it was just a bad dream from which we could awaken. Like nightmares, when they are so out of control your brain forces you to wake up.

I often wake up screaming. Scares Spouse nearly to a heart attack.

Daddy used to have dreams like that, too.

I remember a long time ago at Spouse's brother's house. Spouse was talking about my dreams and how I would wake up screaming at least once a month, and sometimes more often. Then Spouse made the comment, "I wish I knew what you were dreaming." To which I replied, "No you don't."

When Lynahr died we did the same thing. Visited every spring. Lynahr was buried beside Daddy. Mother is terrified being buried and so she arranged to have herself cremated instead of buried beside Daddy. (Personally, the idea of being burning - even dead - is terrifying to me.)

Daddy died in '74. Lynarh died on 911.

By the mid-80s I didn't visit Daddy's grave so much. Now we don't visit Lynahr's much either.

I guess it comes down to being used to the idea that someone/something is dead.

For years I would take monthly drives back to the place where I grew up. Then it kind of just - stopped happening. The last time was last year, or the year before, when I brought Son there and took pictures.

It's not the same. It isn't home anymore. Not my home.

Acceptance of unpleasant things comes hard and slow. For some it is very hard and very slow. For others it is like waiting for the next glacial age. But for all of it, it is happening. We may think we have frozen in time, but life does go on. And sometimes I hate life for that very reason. Why does it go on? What right did life have to continue when Daddy died? When Cile died? When Grandma died? When Stephen died? When Lynahr died? But it does. And it asks no questions and seeks no approval for doing so. It just - goes on.

And so when a friendship dies what do we do? Often - but probably not always - we visit the places where that friendship meant the most. And we continue to go there until such time that we accept it has truly died - and life is moving on.

I don't want life to move on anymore. I want it to go backward.

The problem is, if life returns to those happier times in my past, it means I will not have the happier times which took place later. Spouse. Son. My friends here online. And so returning to the past will bring the same result: loss.

Life seems to be one constant lesson about gaining people and things - and then losing them. Not all at once. But eventually.


I don't always like it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Heart of a Fool

So. I'm posting again.

Hadn't meant to.

Didn't think I would again.

Not for a while anyway.

But here I am.

Like the battered woman returning to her abuser I come back for more punishment.

Why do people do the very thing they know is going to cause them grief?

I can't answer that.

I don't know the answer.

But I'm unhappy. In case you hadn't guessed.

Been unhappy for a few weeks now. I lost a friend.

They didn't die.

That almost would have made it easier.

They just don't like me anymore.

REALLY don't like me. And they have made it impossible for me to talk with them ever again. So I'm never going to know the reason why.

Just that it has something to do - with me.

Have you ever had someone turn on you?

Generally, it happens before they are willing to say it out loud. But you can tell. Their manner is different. All wrong. They are stiff. Resistant. Cold.

And what do they do?

They begin to look for reasons why they shouldn't like you. Why they should be angry with you. And every little thing you do and say suddenly becomes something to add to their list of complaints against you.

They blow up violently at you. Even when there's no reason. And when you ask about -

They ignore you.

Until they finally screw up the courage to do what they have wanted to do since their heart turned away - kick you away.

And it's your fault.

It's my fault.


You know. For a person like me, and I wonder how many of us there are, losing a friend is like - dying. Or taking very ill.

When I was younger the pain just found a quiet place and went there. But now that I'm older I seem to be running out of places to hide my sorrow. And I spend the days in tears.

I remember a saying from my youth: Life Sucks, And Then You Die.

Isn't that the truth sometimes?

I shouldn't have posted. Surely there was room for this one to hide, too?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Living Forever in History

You know, life is full of lessons. Some are fun to learn. Some are dull. Some are painful.

The painful ones are probably the ones we learn best. Or, perhaps I'm better in saying, are more firmly grounded into our hearts. Whether we learned them best or not is a matter for debate.

For instance, why do we return to a painful relationship looking for joy and acceptance when we know it just isn't there? But we do. A lot of us do anyway.

One of the more painful - or at least humbling - lessons we can learn is how little we matter in the Grand Scheme. Assuming there is one. But even if there isn't, the truth is, our importance is fairly relative. Or, should I say, our lack of importance is relative. In other words, none of my relatives are important. haha

But I have been reminded in the past week that before I entered this world people were living lives just fine without me. They had no concept of me. And life was grand. And when I leave this place some day, people are going to continue living their lives just fine without me. Eventually, there will be nothing left to tell people I was ever here. And nobody will care.

I guess that's what makes the present so much better for most people. They weren't there in the past. And they won't be in the future. Their time is now.

For myself, I find I don't think of the future so much - except as an extension of the past. My life takes place within a chapter of a much longer story. Relatively speaking, I guess I'm a paragraph, or a sentence, referring to some obscure character who may, or may not, seem interesting to the reader, but who the reader will never learn more about because the story has moved on - while I have not.

Most of my stories send out tentacles into the past. It's the way I write. WHY is this person like this? How did his come to be? Who are these people? History is such a fascinating thing.

I believe it is possible to traverse time in reverse. Some day, barring the world's destruction, people will find a way to do it physically. For now, memory is the road to the past.

Written accounts are best for going beyond our time. Some times they are needed for our own lifetimes, too. Memory brings us back. The page in the diary. The entry on a blog. A letter written to a friend. Email saved and not destroyed.

The past is the reason we can change. The reason we won't sometimes.

This blog contains memories of people who were most precious to me: Daddy. Stephen. Lynahr. Cile. Grandma. They're all gone now. But part of who they were while they were here is contained in this blog. So others can know they existed. And that they were interesting people. Worthy of being loved by anyone.

I guess that's why I'm finding I can never leave this blog for long anymore. I've tried to quit it. Several times. But if my time is short I want there to be something left that says I was here. I want people to be happy about some of the things I wrote. I would like people to say, "Bevie James seemed like such an interesting person. Wish we had met."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cyber Vacation

Hello. I'm back. Been away for awhile. Not physically. But then this isn't a physical place, is it?

No. I've been away in the cyber world. Or, to put it better, I've been to another cyber world. One of those online gaming places. It's the cyber version of these week long camps where people go to dress up like knights, Romans, Klingons, Civil War soldiers, 18th century farmers - or what have you.

I can't do that in real life. Costs real money. A shame. I think it would be a lot of fun.

So I did the next best thing: I went to a cyber camp and have been role playing there. Very addictive.

I won't tell you which one I'm in, although I have tried a few. Just in case we bump into each other. More fun if we stay in character. You know? haha

It's fun to play dress up. Even as an adult. I learned last year that my grandmother did that all the time in the 1930s and 40s. She would get all kinds of people to dress up like 1800s lumberjacks, school marms, and what have you. Then parade all through the countryside on horse drawn wagons. She knew how to have fun.

Most of the games are war related, which I'm not particularly keen on. I prefer the socialization and play-acting. I don't like taking it seriously, like some do. No sense of humor at all.

You tease these guys - and most of them are guys (I think. In play acting one never knows. haha) - and they get angry. As though people never laughed hundreds or thousands of years ago.

I think they've seen too many movies.

But that's where I've been. And that's where I'll be going.

Like I said: it's addictive.

See you later. I've got to get into my cyber costume.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What Makes Us Choose What We Choose

Priorities. It's how we live our lives, isn't it? In fact, we can't live our lives without them.

Which is more important? Go to the movies? Stay home and save the money? Stay home sick and risk losing one's job because they're not that understanding about such things? Or go to work and risk having it get worse and then you lose even more time?

Some priorities are easy. Some get complicated. To others, our complicated priorities generally aren't complicated at all. For some reason we can all see with perfect vision and clarity when it's somebody else confronted with a dilemma. But seldom when it's ourselves.

I have canceled most of my medical visits over the past eight months. Why? Because we don't have health insurance and we also don't have a lot of money. So I skipped my diabetes doctor. Canceled my heart scan. Canceled my colonoscopy (not a difficult decision). And have skipped going to the dentist.

The result is I now have at least two teeth with fillings falling out. One major. Back to that. A few years ago I went two years with broken teeth until we saved up the money to pay for repairs.

My feet have also swollen. My long, slender toes now look like stubby little sausages. The skin is stretched to where it actually hurts. The feet feel both warm and cold at the same time.

Now. Priorities.

Getting these things taken care of is important to me. PAYING somebody to help me deal with it is important to somebody. I have been in debt to medical facilities before. The only creditors worse are banks and the government. So, the choice: Go to the doctor when I know I can't pay for it and will then get phone call after phone call every night of the week for the rest of my life demanding payment; Or not go to the doctor and know that I am slowly but surely killing myself?

I have chosen the second of those two choices.

But that doesn't amaze me. For me, the choice was obvious and hardly worth debating. What amazes me is what took place this week.

Spouse and I stopped at the vet to get Firestar more food. He was out. And after he nearly died he's been on a special diet food only available at the vet. It's expensive, but it lasts a long time. Only it's prescription. So in order for us to continue to purchase it, we had to bring Firestar in to be examined.

So I did.

I spent $66 so Firestar could eat special food which prevents him from getting sick and dying. But I won't go myself.


I based this one on the truth that Firestar's condition is not of his doing. At all. All of my problems are my own fault.

Firestar has no choice in his life. His health is in my hands, not his paws.

I am responsible now for both of our lives. But it's easier to let mine slip than his.

Why is that? He's just a cat.

Except - he isn't. Is he?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Things He Did

I only knew my daddy for seventeen years. And of those years I only remember a dozen. Not a long time to get to know somebody.

What I most remember of him is his laughter. Daddy was a knee slapper. He When he laughed it was loud and hard. He put all himself into his laughter.

After he was gone I learned more things. Things that took place before I was born. Some of what I learned surprised me.

I knew Daddy had wanted to fly airplanes. For a short time he actually had a pilot's license. That was before I was born. By the time his second child was born he had lost it. To keep a license one must fly so many hours at month or something. That costs money. After he got married Daddy never had much of that.

All of that I knew. How Daddy had taken his mother, his step-father, and Ranlen up to fly. Ranlen was about two. He was sitting on grandma's lap, having a great time. And then grandma told him to look out the window. Up to that moment Ranlen had thought they were on the ground. Once he realized he was in the sky he threw up. All over grandma.

The piece of information I found most amazing I only learned last year. Daddy had wanted to go gold mining in Alaska. Mother didn't even try to stop him. "Go ahead. Go." That was her response. He was packed and ready to go. Then, the night before he was to leave, he changed his mind.

Now I know where I inherited my fear of trying something new comes from.