I have been on vacation from work for the last week. I am approaching the completion of nearly 200 word search puzzles since then. I have spent most of the time at my parent’s house in the same chair with the same red blanket over my feet being too lazy to get socks from the other room. While I spend hours in that chair, Fergus spends hours shifting positions but never not touching me in said chair or on attached stool. Normally quite vocal on social media, I have said and posted little…shifting to a quiet mode of observation. I also knew I couldn’t leave their house until pay day yesterday because I didn’t have enough money for gas. I have said very little to my family over this week as well. It’s easier to watch the kids and know any meaningful conversation would easily be interrupted by their needs so better not to even start one.

It’s not that I have a pent up demand of things to say. I am eerily out of words and also being very, very careful which words I do choose to use. In order to explain my latest defeat could inadvertently hurt the feelings of others or invite criticism of others I am not intending to do. I declare right now that very negative things have been said about the individual who got something I thought I might get and those things will continue to be said both within and outside my presence but not by me. Towards me, it’s well meaning. It’s to make me feel better and to validate my friends think highly of me and not to assume I am less than or not good enough. But anything negative which is said will not be said by me. I have never claimed to be an expert at knowing how to play THE game. I only ever play the survival game….keep my mortgage and head down game. In terms of adding or thriving, I am rather unskilled at that and tip my hat to those women who have found ways to advocate for themselves and win. I can’t get mad at that. It’s a skill I wish I had.

I can’t necessarily even get mad at the process. It’s one I advocated for and have served on panels to build. Just a few years ago, I was on a panel around modernizing workplace benefits and the one I most adamantly spoke of was treatment of working mothers. I was the non-mother on the panel and also not planning on ever being one. But I was the biggest voice. If we can’t build an American culture of thriving families starting in any workplace, we are doomed. Have you seen how millennials have turned out? In general, (no offense to my millennial friends who have more Gen x traits to them) they are awful, awful, awful people. And it’s not their fault. It’s not even their parent’s fault. The parents have to work so much to stay afloat their guilt has led to massive overindulgence in their children to the point these kids don’t know how to do anything for themselves and when they face adversity, just throw their hands in the air and walk away. But because of their “numbers” our country is forced to acquiesce to them and to spurn others outside that age range in order to afford what it takes to please them which is A LOT.

I digress. My point is, I wanted to be part of a culture which rewards women for their contributions equally to men and does not penalize a woman for choosing to have a family and HAVE to work to provide for that family. I got what I asked for and have seen working moms in my vicinity get deserving recognition. Even if it’s part of a marketing strategy, it still feels good to be part of it. I just didn’t realize all the fighting I have done for others meant I was to be excluded based on my age and lack of mini “mes.” Taking care of barren women over 40 just doesn’t have the sexy appeal of recognizing the up and coming millennial working moms. They just advertise better and it’s clear word from the top is being fiercely adhered to at every level with no exception. I wasn’t even expecting anything for myself either. I got “picked” and lauded all year. It was other people who planted the idea in my head this would be my year. And like all the other chirping that gets pecked at me, I chose to see the best in that situation – that if there was already so much positive momentum in my favor, I could “procure” my own destiny based on the positive I put out into the world.

It didn’t work. So, enough with all your fucking Deepak Chopra and meme platitudes. We go through this multiple times a year. I am a realist. You tell me I am a pessimist and I can choose happiness and if I think good thoughts, good things will happen. I tell you that you are full of shit because none of you are medically qualified to dismiss my brain chemistry or extra highly researched view of the world because I just have more time on my hands than you. But I try your way anyway. You know me, my philosophy is that you should try anything as long as it can’t physically harm you. You were wrong AGAIN! And it’s not like you can tell me I don’t do the happy thoughts into the world right. One could argue I work harder at it than you with my meditative breathing throughout the day, my 3 things I am grateful for every day and a plethora of cute dog pictures. So let’s end the argument once and for all. I am right and you are wrong…and just luckier than me. Got it? Just stop. There’s a new book out there about how to handle knowing the right things to say/do when your loved ones feel like shit. Buy it. It’s at Barnes and Nobles and Amazon and has a yellow cover. I am certain it doesn’t include cat memes that say “tie a rope and hold on.”

So what am I upset about that I cannot speak of? It’s the fight. It’s the fact I know something very wrong just happened and I am a fighter who is not allowed to fight back. It’s not the subject which is the end of the world. Although, I do take massive offense to the Friday afternoon notification meant solely to be done so I can “calm down” over my weekend so as not to infuse the environment with my negativity. Something I would never do if you really know me. It’s the strategy used when delivering bad news, disciplinary actions and terminations….the take your frustrations out at home and come back a few days later in your zen, defeated position without inflicting anger or violence. That treatment is what’s upsetting to me. That I, and others were thought to be no more elevated than the average, disappointed troublemaker who just doesn’t want to drive in the snow. I and my fellow peers are so much better than that. We didn’t deserve the coward approach. At least 3 of us deserved a face to face heads up ahead of time and that wasn’t even considered.

Not being able to fight. That’s the killer for me. When I was 21 and going through a rape trial, my parents suggested I not go through with it for fear of the emotional toll it would take on me. I fought anyway and I won the first trial. Unfortunately, there was an appeal and a second trial. I was faced with making the fight decision a second time now knowing how evil the process is. I still chose to fight. Even though I lost the 2nd time, I have zero regrets about going through it because it was the right thing to do. And, I’m just a fighter. It’s what I do. I bounced back better from that situation because I fought. I’m not saying life has been easy or I will ever be over it. I just know me and I know I wouldn’t have stood any chance of recovery if I didn’t fight. It was the best thing I could have done to heal.

On the outside, I think you all think the fight is a bit of a game for me and a little fun. Sometimes. I mean I am a brat about my big words and emasculating people when I can, on occasion. I own that. But really, deep down, when you are a rape survivor, your fight is always about trying to take back your power. When I am in situations where I can’t fight, the feeling is the same to me, as being held down on a bed and forced to have sex while Nine Inch Nails is playing “I want to fuck you like and animal” ironically in the background as you learn you never had any power in life at all.

This week I learned that my father was once told he would never get promoted to the senior level he had worked towards because of a bureaucratic, “the boss owes a friend” kind of thing but that they would pay him a lot more to compensate for it. Hush money. When I can admit the same thing, his response is more like “I went through it so you just need to suck it up too.” 1) That was 30 years ago and should not still be happening and 2) why does my father keep encouraging me not to fight? Is the outcome and mathematics of my life now what he worked so hard to provide me? I bet he would argue no. He didn’t work his ass off and suffer humiliation like that just for his daughter to end up worse off than him. And, at the same time, he knows I have to take it. What other choice do I have? I am defeated.

How does this fit into my overall holiday malaise? Well, I’ve been getting a beat down since August with no real reprieves anywhere in between. I started seeing a guy over the summer I was both physically and mentally attracted to. That NEVER happens. I know this is what makes men become Trump supporters but it’s not that I can’t attract guys. It’s that I am not attracted to the ones I attract. I can’t help body and brain chemistry to spare your feelings. If I had that ability, I’d be 50 pounds thinner, have a thigh gap, with no depression and no PTSD. Those would be my first priorities over male ego fragility but it would still kill two birds with one stone and we’d all be satisfied with Hillary in office to boot. Unfortunately, That relationship exploded during my summer vacation, ruined the 2nd half and all future birthdays. Ironically, feminism is what killed it.

Then Brett Kavanaugh. Felt like being raped all over again watching that.

Then a fight with my friend Mark. We fixed it but things were said, concepts raised which really hurt me.

Add to that some more shootings and bombings going on around the world. I do real well with those things…just kidding.

I tend to always struggle around the holidays in general, even when things are great.

I ran into a claim situation with the government where they have dropped the ball severely and are not trying to fix anything which impairs my ability to effectively treat my PTSD during the worst time of year. That’s just plain life and death scary.

And then the defeat of around 11 am on a Friday before my vacation….a dreaded checklist item for one who knew it wasn’t going to be positively accepted news from anyone so “let’s treat our best people the exact same way we do our worst.” Dignity….not instilled.

So I am in a very dark place right now. I am doing what I can to manage it. I’ve been to the gym, yoga and the spa….all things previously paid for but which I can’t continue if the government doesn’t fix the problem I submitted for in June ….long before any shutdown. I have bought shoes and some clearance clothing. I have lots more word searches and crossword puzzles. I have tons of books to read. I am back home in my own space and ready to try my new gravity blanket to see if I can sleep better with the anxiety that has been tattooed in me. Good reminder….the only thing I haven’t done yet is get another tattoo so maybe there is that which can be done.

I purposely take this time of year off every year because of depression and PTSD. I do need my family time like everyone else but it’s not about entertaining on XMas Eve for me like it is for everyone else. It’s because NYE slays me and I can hardly even get out of bed that day. I physically and mentally need this week as therapy because my body has run out of reserves by this point and needs so much rest and quiet to be able to prepare for the New Year….especially for being refreshed for work.

Unlike other years, though, this is going to take longer to work through. I’m not going to be effervescent my first day back from vacation like I traditionally always have been. It’s not any particular issue at this point. It’s the general chipping away of me which happened over a 4 month period and ended far worse than I had expected. In fact, the optimism I held (because you all bully me into it) leaves me quite embarrassed. Embarrassment is the one emotion I cannot process and makes me hide. In fact, at my second rape trial, I didn’t even go back into the courtroom for the verdict. I stayed in the DA’s office and hid then. That trial was worse than the first one and I was embarrassed at how they portrayed me. I feel a similar embarrassment now because I still have to face pity and “maybe there really is something wrong with her” after vacation. I have to see that look from other eyes every day and it makes me want to scrape my skin off with a dull knife and set myself on fire. Not exaggerating. Actually under playing the feelings. With everything else I manage just to keep myself breathing, I don’t have room or the coping skills to add that to my list. I just don’t. I’d prefer to sit in silence doing word searches and to never speak of any of this again.