What’s With Life Lately?

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If you are wondering what Ride With Norman Reedus has to do with my life lately, read this long a** post all the way to the end and you will wonder no more! (This is the most recently updated part of my About Me page, you can read the whole page here)

If your favorite outfit goes out of style, don’t worry! It will be back in style again sooner or later. Just like fashion, life is filled with cycles. If you study the Red Road, you are familiar with the medicine wheel and how it can be used to relate to the cycles of life. This sh*t is real! I have very recently realized that some parts of *me* have gone through a full cycle! It’s kind of an exciting realization! 

Let me explain…

When I was only 18 months old, my Mom gave me up along with my older sister. We were adopted and raised by our stepfather’s parents. Well, he was our stepfather for another few months until the divorce was finalized but by then the adoption had gone through. Anyway, the point is… abandonment. I was so young, I barely remember anything about it. I do remember feeling very alone, crying a lot, feeling empty and heartbroken. That was the START of a major life cycle. At least, I think it was.

During this major life cycle, there were tons of smaller cycles going on. I survived rape and abuse, which forced me to adapt and learn the difference between being a victim and a survivor. (I am now a survivor, by the way!) I survived the death of a child (barely). I was homeless. I developed PTSD and oikophobia that I am still working through. In the midst of the worst of my early life, between 16 and 20, I spent a lot of time on a bike, mostly riding the mountain backroads through the Appalachian mountains. I didn’t own any of the bikes I rode–they were all loaned by caring friends who understood that I just needed to feel the wind in my hair. I never had a motorcycle license, either. Oops…

When I was homeless, I didn’t stay in one place long enough to really get attached to it. I hitchhiked, and hopped freight trains, I hiked and would camp out in the woods for months at a time. Sometimes, I had traveling companions. Sometimes I went alone. But always, I was FREE. I was empowered. I healed. It was that true feeling of freedom that developed a healthy love of the road and wanderlust. The road, the wanderlust, the traveling, the “no roots lifestyle” was the only thing that made me feel close to how I felt when I would borrow a friend’s bike and take off into the mountains.

I let my driver’s license expire about 15 years ago or so and never bothered to renew it. Couple that with oikophobia and it’s really tough to get it back now. You just try passing the road test while you are busy having a panic attack! I did eventually settle down a bit. But with some severe issues. I’ve spent the last 10 years or so working through those issues, whether I realized it at the time or not. I had gotten married to a man that I spent 24 hours a day with, 7 days a week, and always got along with! We were always together and always got along. We even worked together. We were best friends. I had a wonderful kid that I am enjoying raising into a truly impressive young man.

Then, I came to a nexus point. The nexus has lasted for about 4 years so far (writing this in 2021). It started with my husband working at the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan with several trips into Afghanistan. During this time, I was at home with our son in America. We live in a rural location and I had no license to drive our car, so I had to get creative and push myself a lot more than I had done in a long time. Looking back, it was a positive time. The solitude was good and a welcome change.

When he came back stateside, he had an injury that we struggled with for a little over a year until he could get surgery to repair his arm. That was stress incarnate! My body wasn’t in the best shape and I was struggling to maintain everything. Right in the midst of that, my English Mastiff began having seizures from a brain tumor and he passed away. I was crushed and fell into depression. Everything was so empty and dark. It stayed that way for a long time.

One week after we found out about Thor’s tumor and lost him, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My doctors assured me that it is benign and extremely slow-growing, but the location was the same as Thor’s. It had only been a week. I was screwed. My entire world fell apart and the ground dropped out from beneath me. I felt completely lost and completely alone. My husband was in total denial and dealing with his own feeling of loss from Thor’s death. I was heartbroken. I was terrified. I was alone. Even though I was surrounded by family, my husband was in his own mind and my son needed immense support to help him understand and process his own feelings. I had been enjoying solitude so much that I didn’t really have anyone to lean on. Yep. All alone, in all the ways that mattered, anyway.

Eventually, I found some patient support groups online and participated a bit. Even those were prone to provoke a bit of panic at times, hearing survivors’ stories about their craniotomies and all that. Seeing photos of them, screens from their MRI scans, and stuff… it’s still too much sometimes. But now it is a couple of years into my tumor journey and it is growing less than 1mm a year, just like I was told to expect with a benign left frontal parafalcine/parasagittal meningioma. One day, I will need surgery to remove it but that day isn’t here. I have panic disorder, which is like a severe anxiety disorder. So it’s hard to keep my mind off of my backseat driver that rides around inside my head. The more I think of it, the worse my anxiety gets so I try to just accept it and move on. Worrying myself into a frenzy about it doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s hard and the process is ongoing. I get the feeling that this is how it will be until it’s removed finally. It causes memory problems, word recall problems, balance problems, migraine headaches, and a host of other sh*t but knowing about it and why all this is going on is better than not knowing. Yeah, it’s kind f*cked up. But life is, too.

So yeah. Welcome to the wonderful world of deep yet strangely functional depression. I gained so much weight that it ain’t funny! I was almost 300 lbs! I just sank into comfort foods… and seriously, depression is painful. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome so my joints are loose. The tendons and ligaments that hold me together are weak. So the extra weight on my lower joints was too much for my body to handle. First, I had rolling ankles. Then my hips began dislocating more. Yes, dislocating hips have always been an issue for me. It’s weird and goes along with EDS. The more weight I gained, the less mobility I had. Finally, in 2020, I was about a month away from being completely wheelchair-bound, diagnosed with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Prediabetes. I’ve had a heart condition since I gave birth to my son. And a brain tumor. It was time to stop giving up. My husband was trying to be supportive of me, but he didn’t realize that his “supportiveness” was just enabling my self-destructive behaviors. 

I made the decision to take control and make some big changes. I started working out every day that I could. I couldn’t even stand up to work out, so I did it sitting. I gave up sugar. I started a keto diet. I started to lose weight. My blood glucose came under control quickly. My fatty liver healed pretty quickly, too. At the time of writing this on Halloween, 2021, I am at 171 lbs. I can jump. I can run. I can dance again!!!! Dancing has always been important to me, and music is kind of the filter through which I experience the world and life. I had lost that. Now I have earned it back. I’m not done. Thanks to my EDS, my skin is crazy stretchy, so I don’t have all that crazy loose skin that most people deal with when they lose a lot of weight really fast. It bounces back pretty fast for me, always has. And I dance every day!

I felt like everything was finally coming together. Oh, silly me!

I had a full abdominal ultrasound in 2020. That’s how they found the fatty liver disease. They also found abnormalities in my uterus. So I finally got in to see my OB/GYN in 2021. All hell broke loose again. She needed to do an endometrial biopsy, but my blood work was wonky and she needed to run another panel before I could get the biopsy, which meant a couple of weeks of waiting in between. I don’t do good with waiting for sh*t like that. I just want it done and over with. Especially knowing that the biopsy is to test and see if my uterine abnormalities are actually cancer or not. I already have a brain tumor, now they need to test for cancer on the other end, too. WTF?! Finally, I get in for the biopsy. I don’t recommend the type that I had for the faint of heart, BTW. No numbing and fully awake. That sh*t HURT! But it was over pretty fast, at least.  She told me to expect the results back from the lab in 2-3 days and assured me that I could review the results in my e-chart immediately. A week and a half later, I STILL didn’t have the results. Panic had set in days ago. I mean, WHAT THE F*CK takes so long unless there’s something really really wrong? Just so ya know, it wasn’t anything really wrong, the lab was just backlogged. I still have endometrial sh*t going on… it’s pretty much pre-pre-cancerous. The stage before it turns precancerous. But not something that needs immediate attention considering I’m in perimenopause now and if I get into full menopause before the pre-precancerous turns precancerous or cancerous then the hormones that cause the problem will stop and the progression will stop/reverse. We’ll see how that goes.

While I was waiting, something very important happened. I was again in the grips of nearly constant anxiety and panic. I really needed a shoulder to lean on. My husband, as much as he did not intend to, withdrew emotionally. I guess it was a self-defense mechanism of sorts. But that doesn’t change the fact that it felt me completely alone in my world-upside-down-ness.  I had to work through my sh*t myself. I HAD TO. I have a kid that needs his Mom. My kid has his own world of issues and the more I am lost in my mind and emotions, the less I can help him learn to handle his own. 

While I was working through my crazy, I spent a lot of time binge-watching The Walking Dead from start to finish (again) and getting into Fear The Walking Dead and Walking Dead: World Beyond. Yeah, I admit it: I go overboard when it comes to The Walking Dead. Some people watch soaps. Some watch reality shows. I watch zombies and awesome, compelling hero/antihero stories. It’s what I am into. I also surfed around and found Ride with Norman Reedus. That is a great show, BTW! I’ve been a little bit of a fan of both Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus since The Boondock Saints was released in 1999. I freely admit that The Boondock Saints is my all-time favorite movie (V for Vendetta is a close second, though) so I was interested to see what Norman Reedus was up to in Ride. After all, Murphy McManus (The Boondock Saints) and Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead) are two of his most memorable roles and I really feel those characters are 100% relatable to me in different parts of my life in a weird way.

I ended up watching every episode that I could. I set a DVR recording to make sure I didn’t miss any reruns. OMFG that show speaks to my soul! Norman Reedus reminded me, through Ride, of how I began: on a borrowed bike, riding the back roads just to get away and feel free. Riding is the closest that you can get to flying while you are still on the ground. I need that again! I need to complete this circle. It isn’t just a want. It is a NEED. Anyone who has felt that, and loved that feeling, and lost it, they know what I mean. You GET IT more than anyone else ever could. 

So, I am lacking a lot that I need to get it done. I need to get my license back, for starters. I need my motorcycle endorsement (let’s do it right this time…). I need a BIKE. It’s gonna be a process. I haven’t driven either a car or a bike in so long that I’m really NOT COMFORTABLE going for it right off the bat. I’m going to take a driver education course that includes practice sessions. The fact that completing the course exempts you from taking the road test is a big bonus! And I’m going to take a motorcycle course at the local Harley shop. And I’m saving up for a bike. I’m dying with anticipation of getting back on a bike and riding around some of the awesome back roads around here! I already have a few routes planned out in my mind (and heart!) and am just waiting not-so-patiently for everything to come together to make it happen. It will be a little bit of a process to make it work but I’m putting in the work. It’ll be great! As a side note: I also have a few new designs I need to take up to the tat shop. Every big transition in life needs to be documented and tattoos speak to me! I’ll post pics when I get them done!

And the thanks are to Norman Reedus for reminding me of what I missed, and for showing me what I need again. Thank you. I am forever in your debt.

Anyone who has read this far, you have an insight into me as a person that most people don’t and never will. Thank you. I have created a Google Music Playlist that I listen to up loud, with room to move around. It’s a work-in-progress and will be constantly evolving but for now, it has music that personifies how this transitionary period feels to me. Here it is (or click here to open it up in a new window):