The Gaslight

I’m not sure where I first learned the term “gas-lighting“.  I knew it wasn’t good, but at the same time I didn’t really understand the action.   Once I learned about it, I never once thought I was ever a victim of it.

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I spent so many years focusing on him, on how to not make him mad, how to cater to his emotional and mental needs that it became a rabbit hole that swallowed me.  I think my turning point to realize that I was fighting a losing battle was when I was working early mornings at my call center job and I would have to be at work by 4am.  I would want to go to bed in time to get sufficient sleep to not be chugging two energy drinks a day to function.  During this time he was unemployed.  At first I would ask him to do some chores, do dishes, do laundry – things like that.  After weeks to months of it not happening, he’d tell me that he got over whelmed and I needed to break it down for him.  So, I would write him cute little lists of chores, in extreme detail with each step.  Then he’d get mad that I left him with chaos and the lists were just me passing off my messes on him and that the lists were just too much.

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You’d think that a man in his 30’s would be capable of unloading a dishwasher and folding his underwear.  Then the sleep deprivation started.  He would demand that I sit with him to “go through his email”.  This would start with him insisting we watch a movie at the computer, then maybe some youtube videos, and then his email – which was typically junk mail or emails from friends that he didn’t want to communicate with because they were trying to help him find a job (that part drove me crazy).  Eventually I’d be falling asleep a the desk and he’d be getting mad and finally I would be released to go to bed for my 3-6 hours of sleep.  As the years went on, I couldn’t even sleep in peace.  He insisted that I was snoring.  So he’d wake me up.  Sometimes he’d wake me up every five minutes to say I was snoring. Then when I finally decided to just not try to sleep and just deep breathe and relax, he would “wake” me to tell me I was snoring.  I told him I was awake and he came back with “well then you’re breathing too loud”.

I was breathing too loud…

Seriously?  You’re going to keep your wife up way way way past her bedtime to take care of things that you as a grown man should be able to handle, even with anxiety, and then you’re going to keep waking her up claiming she’s snoring, and then when she catches you with the “lie” you say she’s BREATHING too loud?  This really started to get tiring (pun slightly intended).  Now I will admit that I did have mild sleep apnea, but at the time insurance said it wasn’t bad enough and that I should just lose weight (yeah I have words to say about that too), but for the most part, as long as I wasn’t sleeping on my back, I didn’t snore that badly.  Were the positions reversed, and he were the one snoring or “breathing too loud”, I would have moved myself to the couch because he needed sleep.  He would never go sleep on the couch.  The only way I would be able to get solid sleep was to go sleep on the couch.

This sleep deprivation continued for most of the marriage to where he almost didn’t have to do anything any more.  About the only time I could ever really sleep was when he wasn’t home.  This was great when he finally was working again, but not so great because I was also still working.  The best thing that had ever happened for me at one point was getting a 4/10 work schedule.  I got an extra day off during the work week that he was also working.  I was able to get him off to work, get some sleep, and then work on the chaos that was our home.   Now when we were first married, the plan was that I would be a stay home wife and he would be the breadwinner and then when the kids came I’d be home with them.  After the first year I started to work so we could save up money for a house.  After that I was never unemployed for the next 15 years, save for a brief few months between getting laid off, graduating from college, and starting my call center job.   I wasn’t a great housekeeper to begin with, but growing up, both my parents kept house.  Dad, when he was home, would often tell my mom to sit down and relax and he’d do dishes or help with the laundry.  To this day they share the housekeeping chores.  I expected that my husband would be like my dad with that sharing. Yeah… that didn’t happen.

One of the many arguments we had, and one of the few I actually tried to voice my opinion, was him helping with things.  He claimed he was not the messy one that it was me and he wasn’t cleaning up after me.  After I made a few valid points he came back at me with his logic of, if I can’t keep an immaculate home while working a 40+hour a week job, then I would never be able to take care of a baby.  My job was my “baby” so I should be able to do both that and keep a perfect house.  No matter how I pointed out to him that as a stay at home mom, the big difference would be my hours spent AT HOME, so a job being labeled as the equivalent of a baby was crap.  It’s probably a good thing I never did get pregnant.

I do have a point that I’m working towards.  During my extra day off I would hook in my caffeine IV (not really but we did buy Rockstars in bulk at Sam’s Club), and I would be ready to tackle my disaster areas,  the hoarder chaos that I was causing in our home.  I would take before and after pictures.  Especially when he would go away for a couple days with the boys from church and I’d have a couple days straight home without him, I  would pull all nighters and would get organizing things and would thoroughly clean all two bedrooms and the bathroom.  I would have cleaned the house from top to bottom and even gone out onto our little patio and cleaned and cleaned – and guess what… he NEVER noticed.   Well maybe not never, but you would think for the amount of effort I put in trying to take care of things, he would have been a bit more appreciative and I’m also pretty sure at one point he said if I got everything all caught up then he’d help maintain it.  That never happened either.

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After all the years I was with him, and now almost 5 years I have been away from him, 3 of those living on my own in my grandmother’s house, I became convinced that I was a hoarder, a horrible house keeper, and that everything I touch or want to keep is trash.  I didn’t realize this until yesterday.  We got quite a bit of snow over the weekend here and I didn’t leave the house.  This gave me the chance to finish up all the seasons and episodes of Forensic Files and I had to find a new show I could put on for company.  I decided I wanted to watch Hoarders on Amazon Prime.  Yes, there are quite a few nightmares on there, and no, I am not as bad as the people showcased.  I knew I wasn’t deep down,  but the language that they used to describe things – that’s what got me thinking.  Am I messy?  Absolutely, having been on my own and knowing that I am the only one to mess things up (other than the yarn that Milk always brings out of the bedroom closet somehow) I have no illusions about that.  Am I a hoarder?  No, not really.  I can totally see the potential, especially after going through what I did for so many years.

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I also recently worked on a project that had me digging through my old photos and I found my before/after folders of pictures from those all night house cleaning where I had more caffeine than red blood cells in my blood. You know what I found?  Not a big difference.  Know what else I remembered?  Towards the end of my past life, I remember one spat we had when I was longing for a 4/10 schedule again.  He said it never made a difference and I pointed out how clean the apartment had been when I had that extra day without him.  He held no memory of it. If he didn’t remember it, it never happened.  When I showed him the photo proof of it, he still didn’t remember it but dropped the subject.

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Was the house sometimes messy?  It was, but half of the chaos that he would sabotage me at every turn.  I wanted to build a home, he wanted a bachelor pad.  It’s amazing how just one show can flip a switch or push that puzzle piece into place that you didn’t know was there.  I knew I was struggling with house work, I knew there had to be a reason because I was taught how to maintain things.  As a kid I would clean my room by shoving things under the bed or in the closet and my mom knew this about me.  So whenever I’d “clean” my room, she’d come in, pull everything back out from under the bed and out of the closet that didn’t belong, and she’d have me do it again, right.  So when I was ready for bed last night, I decided that if I had time to watch 7 episodes of Hoarders, and I don’t know how many episodes of Forensic Files, and if I was probably going to lay in bed and read for at least a half hour, then I could wash up my dishes, wipe down my counter and finish my laundry.  So I did.  My kitchen is pretty good (don’t look at the table, I haven’t cleared it off yet of canning jars and such), and I could cook or bake if I needed.  My laundry is folded and put away in my dresser.  I still have a lot of work to overcome what I have no identified, but recognizing is half the battle.  You can’t fix something if you don’t know what is wrong.  I need to go through all my cloths and get rid of things I no longer wear for whatever reason, and figure out why I have way more pajama type cloths than regular every day cloths.  Part of that is work is a uniform.  I don’t really NEED work cloths.  I can do most anything around my house and garden/chickens in pajama pants and a hoodie, but honestly, I don’t need a dresser full of pajama pants and t-shirts, a drawer yes, maybe two (they are small drawers), but not a dresser.dd914125b1aa61bbc53a64019fc4b068

I know there will be more discoveries as I am alone with my thoughts, but how I cope with them is much different now than it used to be.   I used to rely on comfort foods. Even when I was still living my past life, I would go out to run errands and I would hit a drive through and get a few dollar menu items and eat them in the car and throw the trash before I got home.  When I was at home and he was working and my unemployment money went onto a debit card, I would order enough food from Pizza Hut to get free delivery and I would either eat it all before he got home, or eat what I could and either throw away the rest, OR, try to hide it in the fridge or freezer where he wouldn’t look.  After I left and moved home I had no pizza delivery option available and I have to travel almost a half hour to get to any sort of fast food.  So I used retail therapy either by making the trip to the next biggest town or online.

0d098d081b667a33632fd1acb7a3772cSo now, as I am trying to not use retail or food therapy, I am blogging.  I am hoping that other than being helpful for me to express and accept what I’ve gone through that I can maybe be helpful in helping others feel so not alone.

I try to use my own photos that I’ve taken over the years, but, when I can’t – I borrow and make sure the pictures link back to where I found them.  All the photos I’ve used in this post were located courtesy of Pinterest.   I am so thankful for all the other bloggers and folks that have made these resources.  When I first started my discovery of what really was happening in my past life, Pinterest is what started my calorie free and plastic free therapy adventure.

 

 

 

Unintentional Realizations

What is one of the hardest things about trying to eat healthy?  Well – at least one of the hardest for me, anyway.  Actually cooking and eating what I cook.  I’m not a bad cook.  I’m actually pretty good, if I do say so myself.  When I was in high school, I would fantasize about having my own cafe for lunches and breakfast, where I could cook yummy food, and bake to my hearts content without having to eat it all myself.  Summer of 1998 I was actually accepted to a culinary school in San Francisco and almost went with it, but, the stubborn romantic in me decided I was going to get married instead and continue my degree at CSUS.

Now there are a lot of reasons I could give you now with 20 years worth of hindsight, but in the thick of it, all I could focus on was my lifetime goal of wanting to be a wife and a mother.  Ultimately, my life goals were to be a wife/mother and a fiction writer; pretty much in that order.  Yes, I wanted to be able to cook and bake, but if I had the large family of kids I always dreamed of, that would be just as satisfying.  In the early days of my marriage I would daydream of teaching my future little ones how to cook and bake and it made me smile.  By the time my marriage was on hospice I hated cooking, I avoided baking, and I had never had any little ones to teach.

It was an insidious death that my love of cooking experienced.  It was dead before I even realized it.  My baking always won me praise from my ex.  My cooking?  Not so much.  I have several memories of disappointment at dinner time, the first, was when I did a roast chicken for dinner one night.  I had put so much effort into trying to make a good healthy dinner.  I had all the right food groups and was sure the chicken was fully cooked.  We didn’t have a real dining table at that point.  I don’t think we’d been married even two months yet.  I believe our “table” was a stack of plastic totes with a table cloth spread over it.  We sat down to dinner and he took one look at the chicken and flat out stated “I’m not eating that”.  He blamed his mom for having him help her color diagrams for her human anatomy classes for his issues with chicken.  I had seen him eat chicken.  I had never seen him faced with a whole roast chicken though.  For this I was “rewarded” with him going to the bedroom and closing the door and refusing to even try anything else that I had made.  I felt like a failure.  I’m pretty sure I threw everything away, including the chicken.   As the years progressed it got to the point where I felt completely incapable of even making Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  There were a few things he raved about me making (my baked chimichangas being one of them), but that list was so small and were usually dishes that I didn’t actually care for or like.

I would try to find ways to not have to actually cook for us.  When I was growing up my dad would cook as often as he could, however, with his work schedule, the opportunities were not great in number, but he was always there to help my mom and my expectations of my husband were set very high.  I was informed by my ex that my expectations were unrealistic and whenever I asked him to cook, we usually went out.  Buffets were a favorite because he could get whatever he wanted and I could comfort myself with whatever fried chicken they had along with mashed potatoes, steak, and gravy with soft serve for dessert.  There was very little home cooking going on by the time I left.  Even when trying to minimize our processed food consumption, we still had a freezer full of fish sticks and pizza.  A “romantic” evening at home usually consisted of a couple frozen appetizers from the grocery store and maybe a frozen entree as well.

So here I am now, almost 5 years after leaving him, and I still struggle to cook my own food.  I would  much rather just go buy something premade and not deal with the dishes or the actual cooking or anything that reminds me of my past life.  I didn’t even realize that was what I was doing until this evening as I sat down to dinner.  Cooking for one is a rough job, and I doubt I will ever master it, but tonight consisted of a small hamburger patty, a small head of cauliflower (I didn’t eat it all), with sauteed onions and mushrooms.  The sauce was just butter with herbs and I poured it over the cauliflower.  It was delicious.  I couldn’t eat everything.  I’ll have everything but the hamburger patty left over for lunch tomorrow.  I’ve always known I was a capable cook, even though some experiments don’t pan out.  My chickens are very forgiving of my culinary fails.  To them I am the best cook ever.  Eating out should be more of a reminder of my past life than cooking at home.   If we were to tally up the number of meals at home compared to the number of meals out over the course of the 15 and a half years we were together, I have a feeling there would be way more tallies on the eating out list.

I am hoping that now that I’ve had this realization that it will help me take one more step of healing.  I hope it brings joy back to my kitchen so that I can revel in the therapeutic motions of cooking as well as my baking.  I really don’t eat as much as I used to, so I don’t have to really make a lot of food.  I can look forward to the freedom to enjoy my cooking now as I can in other ways.

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**Picture above is my orchid that actually rebloomed! 

 

I hope the season is treating everyone well.  The government shutdown has been a struggle for so many.  It is supposed to be ended now, for at least three weeks.  I was supposed to return to work on the 7th, but that was postponed because of the shutdown.  I am hoping to get a new start day soon.

Out of 9 eggs my chickens hatched last summer I have ended up with 6 roosters and 2 hens with 1 that I think is a hen, but she hasn’t laid an egg yet.  So far I have been able to find homes for all of the roosters.  Spring is coming and my next generation of Chick-A-Doodles is coming as well.  I love watching the chicks grow up.  It happens so fast.  Spring is also gardening and yard season.  I have so many plans for my plants.  I got some rhubarb planted that my mom brought me before winter hit.  Only took me until mid winter to do so.  I have so many plans and hope to get some good pictures to share.

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Scrappy – my runt.  Polish Rooster.

Never ever did I …

There are certain things that I never put much thought in, but was sure that they would never purposefully find their way into my shopping card.  With starting the journey to switch my eating habits towards a ketogenic diet (I love it but it is not for everyone), that meant learning to cook and bake differently.  Some things I had never heard of, like MCT Oil.   Other things, I had heard of and seen, but couldn’t imagine anyone actually eating them, like pork rinds.  Typically anything that’s got “rind” in its name is something you don’t eat – orange rinds, melon rinds, lemon rinds… you get the picture.   Well the first try of these supposedly edible rinds, was a spicy bag that got half a piece nibbled and then chucked.  I didn’t even offer them to my chickens.  I was glad I got the cheapest bag I could find, because there was no way I was going to ever buy them again.

Then I found other recipes that used them as ingredients.  Usually they were for things like chicken strips and used as breading.  Breading and I have never really got along, even when following directions.  Then I decided to at least keep a bag of pork rinds in the cupboard JUST in case I actually needed them.  It took awhile, but after a day of baking (and sampling) no-keto approved sweets yesterday, I knew I needed to clean up my menu or I was going to be back down with the headaches and blah feeling I get when I eat too much processed and refined stuff.  I had some ground beef that needed cooked up and I had already planned to make taco seasoned meet so I could have taco salads etc through out the week, but I REALLY REALLY wanted a taco.  Soft shell, hard shell, I didn’t really care – so I turned to the all knowing, all wonderful Pinterest!  I seriously get 99% of all my recipes from there.  I found this recipe for tortillas .  Oh my gosh, I had my doubts, and I’m sure I made the crushed pork rinds too course and not fine enough, but I only have a little mini chopper and not a food processor as was recommended.  They ended up smelling great and with much hesitation – I decked a tortilla out with my meat, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and lettuce and took a bite.  I was doubtful.  I was totally expecting to chuck the tortillas to the birds and end up with a salad.  Two tacos and I was stuffed.  I was a little sad I couldn’t eat more.  They were so delicious.  Understand that I didn’t NEED to eat more.  I’m sure I had the calories and macros I needed in those two tacos, but they tasted so good I wanted to eat more, but was stuffed.

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I also never thought I would be in the position to have to be part of a chicken foot operation.  Apparently there really is pretty much a first time for everything.  Two of my hens, Olaf (yes she really is a hen), and Drumstick (like the icecream cone – don’t know what you were thinking;) had what’s called bumble foot.  It’s a nasty staph infection and can be deadly if untreated to the birds.  Now Olaf is not my favorite bird.  It’s not her fault.  She and her 3 sisters (Sesame, Dumpling, & Marsala) are White Leghorns.  They aren’t the most chill of chicks and I didn’t raise them.  I got them from a local on Facebook when they were moving and the birds were already 3 months old.  They are amazing layers though.  So – Olaf needed surgery.  Upon examining the other birds, I noticed Drumstick (who I have had since she was a sassy chick) also had a similar sore on her foot.  Thank goodness one of my friends is a chicken pro (she may not agree, but she and her hubster totally saved me) and had pretty much everything we needed to take care of the nasty foot.  Sparing the gory details, I knew that I wanted to show my appreciation for their help.  What better way than to bake goodies?  Especially when I’ve wanted to bake but need places to dispose of them so I don’t scarf them all myself (I know me too well.)  I decided to make my favorite soft batch chocolate chip cookie.  Guess where I found it?  … If you didn’t say Pinterest, then you didn’t read the previous paragraph.  What I love about the recipe is that with a couple substitutions I was able to make it a keto friendly recipe – but I didn’t do that this time.  Real sugars and traditional flour and dark chocolate chips (soy free though because my friend’s daughter has an allergy), the whole deal.  I also made sweet rolls.  The first pan was regular cinnamon rolls.  The second pan though – oh my gosh…. I impressed myself.  A few weeks ago I made raspberry, rhubarb, plum jam.  It was a HUGE batch.  I didn’t can it all because I was running out of jars and time, so I put it in a bowl and was using it for various things – filling my mom’s birthday cake… and then a brilliant idea came to me.  Raspberry Jam Rolls!!  At first I was a little worried because the jam was starting to ooze everywhere, I was afraid it would all come out on the cutting board and never make it to the pan, but I managed.  Once they raised and were baked… and topped with a cream cheese frosting? My mouth is just watering thinking about it.

I of course, have to share the hilarious picture i took of my dough.  As it was kneading in the mixer, I noticed it appeared to have formed arms. So I used my stickers on my phone to fix it up and shared it with my family.

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I am now tempted to refer to my kitchen as my lab for making monsters…

But the finished project is much more tempting…

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I used my sister’s trusty bread recipe that only requires one rise time after you’ve shaped it.  Then I modified a cinnabon frosting recipe for the top.  This picture was of my test taste.  I had one and a half more before bed last night and I was stuffed but in an unpleasant way.  I am totally trying them again. I was going to do it tonight, but I had no powdered sugar left so I saved myself from that.

Now I get to go check the chick-a-doodle feet … oh the joys of having poultry pals. 🙂

This is Me…

I’ve been debating what I want this blog to be since I came up with the name last year.  I have decided that this will be everything me.  I have a page that outlines a bit of my “past life” and I will be blogging about a number of things:

  • Animals (Cats and Chickens specifically)
  • Food (healthy and not so healthy)
  • Hobbies (yarn arts, sewing, writing, painting…)
  • Gardening
  • And anything else that I can think of and I’m sure I’ll come up with a lot.

Some posts may be happy, some may be sad, but no matter what I will be 100% honest and myself.