formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Me, Too...

His name was Mark. He was a sophomore. I was a freshman. He was in my English class. I thought he was cute. He told me I was a good writer. It was the night before winter break started. I saw him in the bar I'd gone to with my friends. He invited me back to his dorm room. I went with the thumbs-up from the girls. He opened another beer for each of us.  He turned on the stereo. There was kissing. It was all good.

Until it wasn't.

I said no. I said it loudly. I said it several times. He ignored me. He said, "Come on. What did you think you were coming back here for?"

When it was over, he fell asleep. I got dressed and went home. In tears.

I didn't say a word to anyone. Not for days.

When I finally got up the courage to tell my mother what happened, she blamed me.

She blamed me.  

She blamed me.

And I blamed myself. I was drinking. I went to his room voluntarily. I kissed him. What did I think was going to happen?

It was my fault. 

I believed that. For over 30 years, I believed it. I was ashamed, embarrassed, angry with myself for putting myself in that situation. And until this morning, my mother was the only person I'd ever told. This morning I blurted it out to a friend during conversation on FB Messenger... and I realized that I could say it out loud.


I can finally say the word I've refused to apply to myself for nearly 35 years...

I was raped. 

I never spoke to Mark again. I saw him on campus occasionally and when I'd pass him on the sidewalk, I'd look at the ground instead of him, ashamed, embarrassed, and angry with myself. On some level, somewhere deep inside, I knew he was the one I should have been angry with. I knew he was the one who was wrong. But that place was DEEP inside.

So I stopped thinking about it. I just pretended it didn't happen.

Occasionally the memory would bubble to the surface, during a conversation, a movie, a date. When I did a report on sexual assault on college campuses for work a few years ago, the memory reared up, tall and strong, and slapped me right in the face. Hard. I had to think about it, whether I wanted to or not. I realized then that the incident - the rape - has impacted, on some level, every single relationship I've ever had (including the one with my mother). It explains how I haven't ever fully trusted myself or men... how I've never been able to completely show myself to anyone, to be completely vulnerable or honest.

That was a hard realization to come to.

So I pushed it on down again.

Because that's what I do.

A couple of years ago, two very good friends countered a comment I'd made on Facebook about how a girl shouldn't "put herself in a position to be raped." They lovingly told me that no matter what position a girl puts herself in, when she says no (or is incapable of saying yes), that should be ALL it takes for a rape NOT to happen. I tried to justify my statement, born out of 30+ years of belief and blame. They persisted. And for the first time ever, I began to see it all in a different light. For the first time ever, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't my fault.

Then, a few days ago, the 'Me, too' posts started showing up on Facebook... and I started reading about what other women have endured. At first I thought, how brave they are. Then I thought, there's so many of them. Then I thought, I'm one of them.

People often comment about how open I am, in my blog and on Facebook. I always maintain that there are parts of me no one has ever seen and there are things I will likely never discuss. I believed for a long time this would be one of those things. But this morning I said it out loud and the Earth didn't open and swallow me whole. The sun is still shining, the breeze is still blowing, and I'm still right here...

... a little closer to whole than I've been for 35 years. 

Friday, October 13, 2017


I have decided that I should like to fall in love again.

Whew. Twelve little words = big statement – for me, anyway.

I have been, for all intents and purposes, single for 13 years. And it’s been largely OK. The first two years were by design – they were spent healing (silly me, I thought two years would be enough). After that, I dated on and off but nothing stuck. Every time I put my heart out there, it got stomped on a little bit. Or a lot. And I did some (unintentional) stomping (which was even worse). So I built walls. Tall ones. I didn’t let anyone climb them. I took myself out of “the game.” I did it intentionally… mostly. At first. Then it became habit…

… habit born of fear.

When the cancer came, it broke me in many ways; it made me feel broken. And the idea of starting a relationship with someone new and having to say, “Oh, by the way…” was not something I was in a hurry to do. For a long time I thought it might preclude me from ever being in a significant relationship.

But that was fear talking again.

And I’m finished with being afraid.

Over the years, I’ve watched so many of my friends and acquaintances – many of whom seemed to be confirmed SINGLE FOREVER - find love. I’ve seen people split from their spouses and, within a year or two, find happiness with someone else. Both of my ex’s exes have happily remarried (and they came after me).

This new phase of life, and the thought of the opportunities and possibilities ahead, has made me realize that although I manage fine on my own – and I quite like my own company – I really do want to fall in love again and be a part of a duo. I’m not looking for it to happen tomorrow, or next month, or even next year… but I want the Universe to know that I’m FINALLY open to the possibility.

Just sayin'. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

I Ain't Askeerd a Nuthin'

Yesterday I had a "conversation" on Facebook with someone I don't know, via the comments section of a friend's post. I can't even remember what the original post was about (something political). This guy (someone I came to realize is much younger than I am) said something like, "Ignorance can't survive in today's world."

Lord, how I wish that was true!

I commented (after several others), that ignorance can and does survive; it has always; it will always, forever and ever amen. His subsequent comments were sweet, really, and full of optimism and idealism. He felt that I was being a Negative Nelly. I said I'm simply a realist. I've lived in a world full of ignorance and intolerance my whole life, it was that way before I was born, and I believe it will be that way long after I die. I went on to say that I believe humans will destroy the planet long before we ever become a truly enlightened race.

And I believe that completely.

I also explained that I believe there are many, many intelligent, good-hearted people doing good work around the world. I try to be one of those people. I raised my daughter to be one of those people. My realistic view of the world doesn't mean I don't try to change my part of it, to make it a better place.

His last comment, again sweet and full of optimism, told me to be brave... he told me not to let fear win.

Be brave. Don't let fear win.

I let that sink in for a moment. I thought of all the things I've dealt with in the last 20 years. I thought about all the times I've had to will myself to be brave, in order to just get out of bed in the morning, just to do what had to be done. And you know what I realized?

I ain't askeerd a nuthin' no mo.  

I've dealt with death and depression and illness and divorce. I'm living with cancer. I've raised an amazing kid all by myself, with woefully inadequate funds. I've been out of work and underemployed. I've had relationships I thought were rock-solid, relationships I thought I couldn't live without, simply evaporate without explanation. I've felt alone and stranded and completely stuck in some dark places, both literally and figuratively.

But here I am - upright - looking forward to the next phase of my life. 

In looking at that list of difficulties, I realized that while I have certainly been afraid - so very afraid - I'm not anymore. Because I made it through, that's why. Oh, I bear the battle scars for sure, and there are still some open wounds, but they will heal. They are healing. I am healing.

And for the first time in a very long time, I can honestly say there's no fear. My heart feels open, my head feels focused, and my whole being feels ready for the big things coming my way. Good things... good things I'll let you in on over time.

And if some of the stuff heading toward me isn't so good? Well, I'll handle it... just like I've handled everything up 'til now.

Because I ain't askeerd a nuthin'. 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dog Days

It's been nearly a year since we lost our beautiful boy - Sundance. That's nearly impossible for me to comprehend. I still miss him every day. But not long after he was gone, the sharp edges of grief were dulled, ever so slightly, by another dog.

This is Finn, the day I brought him home from his third shelter in his short life - just 8 months old (though the shelter mislead me a bit, assuring me he was older), scary-skinny, and bright as a button. It was all good for the first couple of days. And then, I guess, he started to feel more at home.

After his second night, and my third pair of shoes, he had to be crated. He's still crated. He'll chew anything not nailed down. Including Pip and Rue, the cats.

There was definitely a period of adjustment for those two.

There have been rocky moments. Rue, who crazy-loved Sunny, wants to love Finn. Desperately. And Pip wants to be his buddy. But it's really hard to take kindly to someone who spends most of his time making sure your head fits in his mouth. I completely believe Finn thinks the cats are simply odd-looking little dogs and he just wants to play with them the way he plays with his peeps at the dog park. After nearly a year, however, there has been no blood let and, as far as I can tell, the cats still haven't used their claws on him. So, although I spend a lot of time picking up stuff they knock over and yelling, "What in the fresh hell is wrong with you people?!," we're all good.

At the dog park, Finn is a bit of a celebrity. When we arrive, we hear choruses of "Finn!" It's sort of like when Norm entered the bar on Cheers. Then Finn makes his rounds... to every single human in the park. He's well-loved, is my boy. He does have himself a good time - every time - and comes home, more often than not, sporting a Pigpen-like cloud of dust, dirt, and just plain muck. And if it's rained recently?

I once had someone ask if he was a chocolate lab. I looked at her like she was nuts and replied, "Um, he's black." She looked at him again and exclaimed, "Oh my god, that's mud!" 

Yeah. We frequent the dog wash regularly.

He's been a handful since Day One. Truly. And because I was still grieving for Sunny and probably shouldn't have gotten another dog right away, it's taken me a little while to fall in love with him. Though I think he's quite smart sometimes, he's a colossal idiot at others (most others). But he's also the friendliest, happiest dog I've ever had. He hasn't yet met a person or mutt he doesn't love with his whole heart, and that makes it easier to love him, even when he's chewed your new pair of running shoes. 

And he's a handsome fellow, too... 

Who has had some very cute moments... 

Even if he's a little dumb... 

Now, at 18 months old, he's still puppy. But he's a big puppy. No longer scary-skinny (and a frequent diner at the Cat Food Buffet), he's 80lbs of black fur that winds up on everything I own. He has absolutely NO concept of his own size and he thinks he's a lapdog... 

He's a big goofball, who makes me laugh (and shake my head... and holler)... 

He's definitely part of the family... 

And I really do think that he's going to be a good dog. Someday. 

Until that day? I'll just keep loving him. And pushing him off the couch. And extricating the cats' heads from his mouth...  

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Year of Me - Just Diane

When I started this blog, my daughter was 8-years-old, in the third grade.

I told lots of stories here (and on Facebook) of her growing up. The readers who came here regularly got to know her pretty well. I'm not sure if any of those old regulars are still coming 'round but if you are, I'm about to make you feel very old...

Three weeks ago, I drove her over to the University of Virginia and moved her into her dorm.

I'll just let that sink in for a moment.

My kid is in college. And I'm now living alone for the first time in my life. Well, as alone as I can be with a big dumb dog and two obnoxious cats.

It's been a bit of a transition, for both of us. Things were a bit rocky her first week at school but they settled down and she seems to be pretty happy. I get frequent texts and calls, but not because she needs things... just because she wants to tell me about a cool class or club or person. It makes me so happy. I'll admit, though, it was hard for me that first week (because if your baby is hurting, you're hurting, too), and leaving her at school was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do (I had to pull over at a rest stop because I couldn't see to drive), but things settled down for me, too. I'm kind of enjoying the empty house, even if I have to do all the dishes myself.

This empty nest has left me thinking, though... about how I move forward. I realized just how tangled up in Ryan my whole sense of self was. Is. And I've realized that I need to do some work - and some play - to reclaim me. Just me. Just Diane. Not Diane, Ryan's mom (though I will always be that person and glad of it!).

For the first time in 25 years, I'm on the front-burner. There is no one ahead of me on my immediate priority list. That's a strange feeling, peeps. I've been spending some time thinking about

What Do I Do With Myself Now...

And making some lists.

I've planned several trips this year, to see faraway friends, starting with The Brown-haired Bestie in Charlotte (during which we'll squeeze in a writer's workshop, like in the old days). I'll be seeing my friend Cari in NY over my birthday, I'll head to England with my girl over her spring break, then there's a visit planned to the Red-haired Bestie (some of you may remember Blognut) in Chicago, and then I'll head to Maine to camp for a week with my Close-by Bestie.

In between those visits, I've got a tai chi class planned, I've joined the gym, and I'm looking a few other things to get me reacquainted with my life.

In my last post, I rated the areas of my life and found every one lacking in some way (some pretty significantly). I went into a busy summer, plugging along, feeling tired and overwhelmed. We're starting fall with me feeling much the same way, but I also have a sense of optimism I haven't felt in a while.

Right now there's a big pot of chicken-vegetable soup simmering on the stove. It's lunch for the week... I'm starting back on the Whole 30 eating plan, as it's the only one that seems to right most of my physical wrongs. And tomorrow morning, I'm going to do my best to get up at 5am and get to the gym, to swim, something I love but don't do near enough of.

It's just the start.

It's a whole new year, peeps. The Year of Just Diane. Come on along if you want. I'm happy for the company! XO

Yeah, that's me, right there. Hiya! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I'm Not Dying. Yet.

I just gave a few Facebook friends a fright. I posted this:

If you found out this afternoon that you have just a year to live:

1. Would you be happy with the life you're living?
2. If your answer is no, what would you do differently in your remaining 365 days?

Apparently, some people thought I might be dying (you know, given Myrtle and all).

Oops. And heh.

I felt bad that I scared them. So I followed up with my reason for the questions... 

I read a blog post yesterday about an interesting project taken on by Single Dad Laughing. He came to the realization that he wasn't enjoying his life as much as he should be, so he decided to live this year as if it was his last. It's his '365 Days to Live' Project.


He started right away, too. Obviously he still has to work and pay rent and get his kid to school on time, so he might not be able to do everything he'd do if he knew his/the world was ending, but he's working on some pretty fun stuff, like trips, and moving to a better space. Before he started, he evaluated his life in several areas. I wasn't really clear about his method, but I liked the idea, so I wrote down all of his areas and added a few of my own... 

Then I rated my life on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being Colossally Bad and 10 being Exceptionally Good

I was a little scared, truth be told. 

Rightly so, it turns out.

It wasn't pretty.  

My areas can be separated out into Mental Health, Physical Health, and Emotional Health (though a few naturally bleed into more than one category). Today wasn't a very good day so I tried hard to think of things in the larger view. I tried to be really honest with myself. I tried not to be overly-dramatic or whiny (though it was an overly-dramatic, whiny sort of day). I tried. I did. 

Still, when I finished, I was kind of appalled. But when I really thought about it, not really surprised.

Here are my areas and my ratings. There are a couple I feel the need to explain... 

Mental Health
Depression – 4
Anxiety – 3
Stress Level – 3
Loneliness – 5
Spirituality/Connection to Nature – 3
Self-worth – 4

This is pretty bad, I know. They're all related, certainly. I've felt the spiral toward depression for a while and I've been fighting it off. Hard. But anxiety and stress will take their toll eventually. Spirituality for me is about a connection to nature and the less tangible concepts of inner calm and clarity. I'm feeling none of those lately. And of course, when all areas of one's life are out of balance, including certain relationships (see below), self-worth (always tenuous at best) takes a nosedive.

Physical Health
Fitness Level – 3
Sleep Quality – 3
Diet – 2
Energy Level – 3
Self-Care – 3
General Physical Health – 4
Physical Environment – 5

These are all related, too... and related to the other broader categories. I know this. My physical health with regard to conditions is monitored. I have a pretty clear view of the big picture. With regard to the smaller picture (see above), some things are easily corrected... with desire and motivation (definitely not the easy part). Self-care has been a big issue for me. Always. I had a virus recently - a long, drawn-out bugger of a virus. I went to work sick and was chastised and sent home. Afterwards, during a conversation with my boss, she said, "Diane, you really have to take care of YOU." I'm not good at this. I know it. 

Emotional Health
Work Life – 7
Hobbies – 3
Family Relationships – 3
Friend Relationships – 6
Life Balance – 4

Fun Level – 3

General Contentment with Life – 3 

Work is really good overall but because of all the issues in the other areas, I doubt myself constantly, I struggle with keeping my thoughts organized, and I fight just being tired all the time. Hobbies... hmmm... what are they? Other than coaching and Facebook (which is making me a bit miserable of late), I don't seem to have any anymore. With regard to family relationships, my connections to and with my extended family are wonderful - they rate WAY up there. But my relationships with my immediate family are so poor that the rating takes a serious fall. Things with Ryan have even been strained this year, which is so upsetting, as we're heading into her last six months at home with me. With my friend relationships, again they're wonderful. I have the very, very best peeps. But I never SEE them. Even the ones close by are hard to connect with, due to life being so very busy for everyone. I want and need contact beyond Facebook and I was reminded of that during a recent trip to England. I spent two weeks with real live humans - people I adore and who love me - and it left me with a pretty clear understanding of what I've been missing. Bottom line, I'm unbalanced.

And I have little fun anymore. I'm not sure when I stopped having fun, but I did. I'm not even sure what would be fun. But I aim to find out. 

I do believe that life is good. I do. I always believe that things will get better. I believe that now. But I'm not in a good place at the moment. I'm drained, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Part of the reason for that is due to things beyond my immediate control... but I am starting to take control of the way I'm reacting to to those things. I'm starting to think about (and in some cases, doing it) putting myself first. I'm starting to make some plans for changes and for my future beyond this year. But I have a lot of work to do. Clearly. 

I'm not going to make goals for every single area. It would be overwhelming, I think. And I'm tired. Really tired. Instead, I'm going to focus on one thing from each of the three bigger categories. Since everything really is related, I expect each one thing will have a larger impact. For example, to reduce my stress levels, I'm going to get some exercise, which will improve my overall physical well-being. Improvements in my diet will likely affect my energy level. And making a real effort to connect - face-to-face - with people I love, will affect a whole bunch of areas.

Baby steps.

With regard to my Facebook post, I was so happy to see that several of my friends love their lives just as they are. Several were happy overall, but wanted to travel more or spend more time with family. I hope they do just that right now. One friend asked me what I would do if I only had 365 days left. I think I would spend it just hanging out with my people... in the sunshine... in the rain... by the sea... in a tent or by a fire. 

I would want to spend it feeling the way I felt during my trip to England in January. Loving my people and feeling loved in return. Up close and personal.

What about you? 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Just Do It. Damn It.

Happy New Year, peeps! Hope you made it through the holidays unscathed. They were OK 'round these parts... relatively quiet and unremarkable (which is not at all the worst way to spend them).

So. Here we are. It's finally 2017 and the Very Bad No Good Stinkin' Rotten Year is over. Now, for just a moment, let's pretend that flipping the calendar from December to January is not actually just an arbitrary sort of act, and that yesterday morning really DID begin a whole new period of time during which the Universe will take a chill pill and calm the hell down. Shall we?

Cool beans.

While I've sort of given up the whole 'new year, new me' way of looking at Life (given that I'm only ever the old me, regardless of what the calendar says), there is still a part of me that hangs onto the 'fresh start' shtick. It's appealing, no? I like the idea of a clean slate... a new year full of possibilities and none of the detritus left by the maelstrom of the previous year.

It's a nice idea, certainly, and works in theory if not in reality.

In the past, I've chosen a 'word of the year' to focus on because I read a blog post once about how that helped the writer bring good things into her life. Lovely, right? Last year, my word was 'abundance.' And I got it, man. In spades. An abundance of utter shite, quite frankly. My year included chemo, the loss of people I loved deeply, my mother's long and serious decline in health (which has affected my life dramatically, as I have become one of her [reluctant] caregivers), my beloved Sunny's death, a terrible accident that nearly killed my ex (the recovery from which has been arduous and has seriously affected us both financially), the election of Donald Freaking Trumplethinskin (I can barely type that without seizing), and what feels like an entire world that's falling apart at the seams.

Not so nice.

Good stuff did happen as well (a great new position at work, the Brown-haired Bestie's wedding, a new pup [which, actually, may or may not be a good thing... we're still working through some things]). But by and large, I felt like every time I got back on my feet, Life hit me hard. Right in the face. With a kettlebell.

Anyway, I decided I wasn't going to do the 'word of the year' thing this year. It's a charming idea but it just doesn't work for me. If I'm being honest, not only do I not focus on it, I pretty much forget the damned thing until people start talking about their new 'word of the year' choices near the end of December.

No, this year I'm going to employ a mantra. It's one I'm going to write at the top of every stinkin' page in my planner (which I have to keep for work and which I use for personal things as well):

Just do it.

And some days, I'm sure it'll be necessary to add a bit to it. For example: 

Just do it. Damn it.

Just do it already, will ya?

Christ on a pogo stick, just do it!

What is taking you so farking long? Just. Do. It. 

Do you hear me?!

I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about doing things but not actually doing them. And I"m not just talking about the stuff I don't want to do. I'm talking about things that are really good for me... I'm talking about fun stuff I really like to do! What the hell? I spend a ridiculous amount of time analyzing the reasons I don't do the things. Then I spend even more ridiculous amounts of time being angry with myself for not doing the things, regardless of the reasons, and even more time still regretting the time I wasted not doing the things, analyzing why I don't do the things, and berating myself for not doing the things. 

I am ridiculous.

So my mantra for this year (or this random, arbitrary period of time) is: Just do it

It's a good one, I think, because it actually applies to every single area of my life. Because there is not one single area of my life in which I don't put things off, that's why. Not one. Not a single stinkin' one. 

And I'm tired of it. I'm tired of myself. I'm tired of not doing the things. 

All the things. 

Any of the things. 

Will my mantra make me do all the things? 

No. I'm sure it won't. But if it helps to get me moving, if it helps to make me stop looking for the reasons why I'm not doing the things (because holy hell, it doesn't even freaking matter anymore), if it helps to get me to do just some of the things? Well, then I'll be a bit further forward than I am right now. 

And that's something. 

Because where I am right now? Not the best place. Not the worst, certainly, but not the best. 

I've learned not to make resolutions because I break them and, once broken, they're off my radar altogether. I've learned that while goals are necessary in life (they are, aren't they?), I tend to make too many or I make them too complicated, then I get overwhelmed, and in the end, I accomplish little (and wind up hating myself just a little bit more). 

But this? This is just a request. A suggestion. An order. A demand. Just do it. Whatever it is, Diane, just do it. Just get up, just buckle down, just focus, just un-stick yourself, just spend a little time knocking a thing or two off your to-do list... just do it. 

Damn it. 

It'll work, right? I mean, something has to.