Steel Magnolias

For those of you who don’t have a life, or have a life far, far away, Steel Magnolias is a 1989 smash hit movie set in a small town in Georgia, and is actually based on true events. The story was written by the sister of the character played by Julia Roberts, America’s own sweetheart, who, at the time, had only one film under her belt. Dolly Parton was the real star, and with her and the other leading ladies’ incredible performances, the movie was a giant success. It was a movie so many people saw and loved, and that included us.

My family is full of women who we like to refer to as Steel Magnolias. I grew up climbing Magnolia trees, and they will always be my favorite. Steel Magnolias holds a lot of sentimental value to me for those reasons, and more. The Southern Charm depicted throughout the film is something I have encountered my entire life as I live and breathe, and something I both have grown to loathe on one hand, and miss on the other. It seems the South has grown less charming, as annoying as it can be had it remained so.

As I grow older, I, too, feel as though I have earned the title of a Steel Magnolia. I’ve been a single, working mother nearly two decades. I’ve worked to earn my own pay since I was fifteen years old, worked for free- volunteering for the library- three years before that, and worked alongside my mom, helping with the church daycare, as young as the children we were pouring Kool-Aid for. My life has been centered around serving others and doing my best, and despite my many challenges, I still strive to do that. (Special thanks to the assholes who hack accounts and steal from someone who can barely afford basic necessities- you’re scum.)

Most recently, I have been having conversations with one of my friends whose boyfriend of ten years has been unfaithful and- although he promises to do whatever it takes to work things out- continues to be a selfish shithead. Tonight, she sent me a photo of a poem from a book she is currently reading, which goes like this:

The Cure
Albert Huffstickler

We think we get over things.
We don’t get over things.
Or say, we get over the measles
but not a broken heart.
We need to make that distinction.
The things that become part of our experience
never become less a part of our experience.
How can I say it?
The way to “get over” a life is to die.
Short of that, you move with it,
let the pain be pain,
not in the hope that it will vanish
but in the faith that it will fit in,
find its place in the shape of things
and be then not any less pain but true to form.
Because anything natural has an inherent shape
and will flow towards it.
And a life is as natural as a leaf.
That’s what we’re looking for:
not the end of a thing but the shape of it.
Wisdom is seeing the shape of your life
without obliterating (getting over) a single
instant of it.

My response, at first, was silence and calm. I had to respond with words, however, so I wrote this as a reply:
The events we go through- good and bad- become part of our story. They help mold us into our individual self. The lessons we learn from these events lead us to either feel broken or stronger. I still think about the ones I’ve lost- and I still feel them near me, as close as they were when they were physically present. This is my story, though. In a perfect world, we would all feel strong enough to carry the weight of our own book.

She replied: You’re words are poetry.

I replied: YOUR*

She replied: [laugh emojis]

The Steel Magnolias story holds truth for many of us. It certainly feels that way for me and mine, y’all.

Listening to Ever (Foreign Flag) by Team Sleep

Against the Current

I woke up at 4:30 and decided to go ahead and get out of bed. Enjoyed a cup of coffee and listened to music. Wide awake now and my central thought this morning is this:

Love may die; punk will not.

I’ll never give up. I’ll never give in.

Fuck racism. Fuck nazis. Fuck your rebel flag and your white Jesus and your Rock the South line-up and your loud muffler. I say that with the freest of speech the United States of America will allow. For now.

I was born of punks. Thank Christ.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/parents-fume-over-handling-of-vile-white-power-video-with-school-board-prezs-kid

Make it worldwide, baby.

The Wolf

Once upon a time, there was a little girl that lived in a FEMA trailer, who, at a very young age, was exposed to anything from black mold on the walls to water leaks from the ceiling to holes in the floors. There were mice, snakes, roaches, wasps, flies, ants, and other creatures who shared this space. There were neighbors who struck their wives, relied on alcohol to get through the day, and pretended their daughters were not actually their daughters past bedtime.

The little girl was lucky. She was treated well and loved fiercely by her mother and father. She loved grilled cheese sandwiches and learned to tolerate condensed milk without complaining. She got in trouble only sometimes, like when she said “Amen” out loud after the closing prayer in church. Her mother quickly spanked her leg and cut her eyes at her whispering, “Never do that again.” She didn’t understand why the men could say it loudly, even interrupt! She never understood why women couldn’t be equal.

She didn’t understand a lot of things, but she wanted to try. She always did her best to try. She tried to always be her best. She made good grades, played aggressively in sports, learned to paint and sew, learned as much as she could. She met as many people as she could along the way so that she could keep learning. She desperately just wanted to figure it all out.

Most recently, this now grown woman tried very hard to understand why her boss would say something that she felt was pure evil. She was being scolded for not collecting a patient’s co-pay in full since they had a balance. But she understands what it’s like to not have a lot, and she isn’t one to be too pushy about money issues.

“I don’t care if these people are suicidal- they better pay us something.”

She didn’t say anything in response. She just sat there, looking back at her bright computer screen.

Is this what it feels like to be blind?

Sometimes, she thinks she would prefer being hungry again, surrounded by black mold and cockroaches.

Anything is better than this.

What is heaven on earth? May I get an amen?

Enneagram Types

One of my good friends hosts a radio show centered around achieving and maintaining overall quality health. I used to help provide insight relating to mental health and mental health awareness on her weekly show, contributing any professional or personal experiences as they might relate to any certain topic. One of the topics she enjoyed was that of the Enneagram.

You can click the link to read more about the Enneagram and how it works here: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/how-the-enneagram-system-works

Back then (and this was a couple of years ago), I took the test and found that my result leaned towards the optimistic, spontaneous, extroverted type 7. With all the self reflection I’ve been doing lately, and with all the changes I have experienced- thanks in part to getting older and external elements- I decided I may no longer fit into the number 7. I got curious to see how I might have evolved the past two years, so I took the test again and received my new result in the form of a pie chart, detailing each number 1-9, and each number being represented in the graph, allowing me to see a visual representation of how each number ranks.

You can click this link to read the description of each number: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions

From least to greatest, this was the line-up:

9

6

5

8

3

4

2

7

1

So, 9 being the least was surprising to me. But, in the past couple of years- isolating myself and being a bit critical of how things around me were shifting- I evolved into a type 1, with a 7 wing. This basically means that based on the answers to the test, I best fit into the 1 personality, accompanied with more 7 traits than the others.

https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-1

I read this article today as it hit the mainstream news and have never before felt so solid in my individuality and strength and desire to grow in truth and what is right.

https://www.wbrc.com/video/2021/11/17/cullman-high-school-parents-outraged-over-racist-video-social-media/

https://www.al.com/news/2021/11/i-cant-say-anything-alabama-students-parents-wrestle-with-impact-of-racist-video.html

Dear School Board President,

Hi. Meet the Reformer. 🙂

Frozen Pines

Not a whole lot to say, really. The sunset was pretty. There’s a cold front moving in. My spine hurts.

Currently listening to this album, one I’ve listened to many times before.

Psychiatry in Alabama

This subject is a very familiar one within my blog but I write about things I know and this particular subject is one I’ve been exposed to every weekday for years, so I know a little bit about it. I think it is an important subject and should be talked about more often, but I seem to be one of very few people willing to openly discuss mental health in my local area. However, we have a problem, and the problem seems to only be getting worse.

The internet, in my opinion, is both a blessing and a curse. With the ease of use and access to tools we never before imagined possible, half of my life has been engineered to adapt to these technological advances and increasing speeds. The problem is that many people in my neck of the woods have resisted these advances for decades. But thanks to passing generations, and with most processes becoming automated, common people are basically forced to adapt or opt out of particpating altogether. As a result, we have seen more and more (for lack of a more accurate term) backwoods people either learning how to use the internet, or learning how to make meth.

We have also seen how this has impacted society over time- on any level you prefer to measure. But for the sake of my argument, I’m keeping it local– and appropriately so, as I’ve been incessantly encouraged to shop, eat, listen and live my life locally within the confines of this triangular county for as long as I can remember. That alone can drive a person to the brink of insanity- as I begrudgingly learned during the God forsaken pandemic.

The impacts of social media and the increasing access to the world wide web has done a number on the locals. On one hand, it’s driven people to a level of crazy I didn’t think possible. On the other, a lot of people are getting a deeper understanding of how truly important it is to care for your mind, and not only that- but also that there is no shame in doing so. The stigma around mental healthcare is beginning to dissipate around here and that gives me hope.

I think about the year I was going door to door to offer flyers for a clinic, and the confused, eye roll, or otherwise brutal reactions I received, and compare that to my day today, when the phone endlessly rang as people on the other end were biting their nails, praying for an appointment. Unfortunately, offline access and resources are incredibly limited, and it’s wearing me the fuck out.

I’ve worked in patient access and as a front desk receptionist for three different mental healthcare facilities across the Tennessee Valley for basically a decade. I have helped two of those companies in marketing, intake coordination, scheduling, insurance verification, and more. I have seen first hand how difficult it is for a person to get on a schedule to see a provider. I have seen the quick turn arounds of providers within facilities. I have witnessed countless patients come and go based on their levels of income or whether they were able to have access to insurance. And, as I mentioned yesterday, I have received news of suicide more times than I can count. My heart has been broken on a regular basis for a very long time, and my God- something needs to change.

My plea and prayer is that anyone who works in the field of Psychiatry and has a heart and maybe a nugget of bravery take a moment to examine the dire need of prescribing providers within the sick, sad state of Alabama. Every single day I see reports of child rape and abuse, domestic violence, drug convictions, murder, and so forth. I realize that it is everywhere, but these are the lines that are published on a daily basis- these are the stories that are shared. Each day that passes, I count higher numbers of intakes that I conducted. People are trying to take care of their psyche and the wait time to see a provider is up to nearly three months into the future.

Locally, we have two facilities that house M.D.’s who are able to write prescriptions for psychiatric medications. Our ever expanding population is making it more and more difficult for low income families to have any mental health access at all because many are unable to make the forty-five minute drive north or south to Huntsville or Birmingham. So they feel literally stuck, with no one to turn to. This is disastrous for a growing town. Jobs have increased dramatically, which is great, but access to schools, housing, and medical needs have not. It is creating great problems for facilities like that in which I answer phones for. It is gut wrenching to me when I have to inform someone seeking help that, well, sorry- we can’t take your case. And here’s the only other number I can give you to try elsewhere. And good luck, because their turnover is atrocious because they don’t get paid shit.

If you are qualified and willing to take on a great challenge, Alabama needs a helping hand that can write drug names on prescription pads.

Priorities

Two of my most recent blogs (yes, I have kept more over the years) have held a central theme throughout: starting from the bottom and working your way up. This could be taken literally in fact, as I do encourage anyone who cares to read what I care to write to begin at the beginning, and then continue reading in the order in which my entries are posted. It may make more sense this way, and the natural timeline allows the reader to see how I may have progressed- both as a writer and as an individual human.

As I get older and wiser, I can look back on my writing and the subject matter and opinions which I once held sacred. Tonight, I wanted to touch on this subject because I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately in between busting my ass (I work… a lot). My first therapy session entailed a lot of recounting and brought me back to mental spaces I’ve kept buried down deep for a long time, and others I’ve replayed like a broken record to the point I feel completely helpless.

Yesterday, my best friend found two small toddlers playing in the middle of the road. Thankfully, he saved their lives. Earlier today, I spoke to a mother who felt helpless, as she described her son who has been feeling hopeless. Thankfully, I was able to reassure her and help is on its way, and she even told me I had such a peaceful tone and my voice alone helped her relax, which in turn brightened my day and gave me more confidence to continue doing my extremely challenging job to the best of my ability. This evening, I spoke to a childhood friend who gave me some terrible news about someone we know who ended their own life. Thankfully, uh… well…

nevermind

There is no upside or happy ending or saving grace in suicide. There are only broken hearts.

A lot of shit happens throughout a person’s life when you allow yourself to live long enough. Sometimes, things do not make a lick of sense. Sometimes, pieces of the puzzle look like they just don’t want to fit into that frame. Sometimes, Bob Ross paints the trunk of a tree down the fucking middle of the canvas and you think he must be completely insane. But that’s life. And that’s Bob.

I hear the phrase “it is what it is” multiple times a day it seems. Yeah… it IS what it is, I GUESS. But could we perhaps look at life using a different lens? Could we possibly see the world for its possibilities? Are we able to treat ourselves and each other with mutual respect, kindness, gratitude, and love? Can we offer help even when we need help ourselves? Can we offer hope when our own situation appears hopeless? Can we extend any morsel of understanding to those who desperately seek to touch another human soul so they not feel so utterly alone in the world?

Is it really what it is? What else can it be?

It can be better. That is the one thing I’ve known from the beginning. And every day that passes- every entry I’ve ever posted, every soul I’ve ever touched, or that’s ever touched me… I know beyond a shadow of a doubt- it can be better.

Priorities.

When I Was Your Age

My work day was absolutely chaotic, but during difficult times in my personal life, absolute chaos at work is what I prefer. I wasn’t allowed any time at all to give my daughter’s situation harder thought. However, I did have a five minute window to speak to someone whose son goes to my daughter’s school, and unfortunately, her son is being harassed as well. The difference is- he is being harassed by the school officers. And so, while the situation sucks for her- and us- it could be much worse.

Without going into too many details, I will describe the basic scenario. Student isn’t doing well in school. Having difficulties both at school and at home. It isn’t necessarily all of his fault- he has legitimate reasons for being behind and appearing to be somewhat troubled. But the GROWN ADULTS seem to be making his situation much worse. His friend has been experiencing an even more disparaging situation. An officer wrongly accused him of doing an activity (vaping in the bathroom), which led to a body search, which produced no evidence- and while it should have ended there, the GROWN MAN then searched the MINOR CHILD’S vehicle. The GROWN MAN discovered some hiking boots and a pocket knife INSIDE THE VEHICLE and the MINOR CHILD received out of school suspension for TWENTY ONE DAYS. The parents, naturally, were infuriated. He began having more issues (duh), and so, was pulled out of his high school, away from the peers he had grown up with, to be homeschooled.

On the flip side of being hyperactive and goofy as a minor child, I could be quite verbally and physically aggressive. I kicked a girl in the leg (elementary school), punched a girl (middle school), slashed a girl’s tires and got into a car chase which resulted in threatening physical violence (high school), and other terrible rage filled activities, because I honest to God felt as though I had no other choice. I legitimately felt as though my life, when threatened in any way, depended on it.

I am small. I was always the runt of my class. My bark was bigger than anyone’s because it had to be. As I grew older, I realized that my bark would some day get me killed. It took a four year physically and emotionally violent marriage to put me in full check. It was that terrible relationship- which almost literally killed me- that saved me in the long run. I turned myself around. I can still have a temper in certain situations, but I am much more cautious and use much wiser judgment before acting on impulse. Working in mental healthcare, reading self help books the better majority of my life, and just learning from mistakes in general have also aided in calming my shit down.

When I hear stories that indicate history is repeating its stupid self again- in any capacity- it usually makes me feel negative emotions and I at least provide the world with my locally famous eye roll. But when I hear stories as mentioned above, I feel absolute rage. I physically tremble. Sometimes I go numb. And, on nights like tonight, I curl up in the bathtub and sob like a baby.

Oh how I miss the days of softball and volleyball and war ball. Swinging a bat, hitting a ball, running hard as hell, getting people out. I love being physical and aggressive. I love getting that out of me. If only I could challenge these assholes to a game. I’d sift through the cliques and push back the squares.