“It’s hard to tell you how I feel without hurting you…” – Soho

This is also an essay on how what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that there is hope-for each and every one of us.  You can read my tags, or About feature and see that fate had dealt me a raw deal, and that was 27 years ago!  The hits keep coming, but I will bow to no evil, stay true to my faith and carry on, as He has great and good plans for me, and you, my beloveds.

I had just read the article in Ladies Home Journal that was written by Susan Dey, the ex Partridge, about her cervical cancer and how she knew she had it-her symptoms.  Karl was on a business trip, and I was alone in our house, which had been stress-cleaned by me the minute he left the abode.  I had been having similar symptoms, and as I headed up the stairs to use the ladies, a feeling of foreboding swept over me, like so much dust, so dreadful…..so real.  Shake it off, Michele, my thought cloud read.

And, as fate would have it, I saw the odiferous, grey discharge-which sent me reeling and running to the telephone to talk with my mother.

“Honey, I am sure you are fine.  Just make sure to go to the doctor this week.”  Incredibly comforting, yes.  But I knew………and I was internally combusting at warp speed.  Earlier in the year, I had been diagnosed with HPV-given to me by a long ago boyfriend.  Back in 1998, there was no talk of the vaccination or the virus, really.  Only now does it make sense.  I had no money for the antibiotic, and, being the hair brained procrastinator that I am, I let it go.  Only now, five years later would I be paying for my ignorance.

The next day?  A nurse called me with my pap smear results, which was taken two weeks before.

“The doctor needs to see you to explain the results,” she said.

What do you mean?  I need to speak with the doctor, please tell him to call me.”

“You have cancer,” she said.

With that, I insisted, demanded that I be seen by my doctor.  She had no right to say that, especially over the phone.  I wanted answers, and I wanted them now.  She told me she would call him, and to expect a return call within the next few days.  NOT GOOD ENOUGH.   I in no way think of myself as special, a prima donna, nor do I think I deserve anything more than the average Joe-but I had just moved to the area, and I had been having problems with spotting for over a year.  My gynecologist?

“You look great and your test results are great.” I called him repeatedly, this man who hated women…only to be told the same thing:  “A little spotting is normal.”  I had left him behind in Phoenixville, and the new doctor I was seeing saw it right away.  I wish I had sued the bastard, but hindsight is always twenty- twenty.

The phone rang the very same evening.  It was Dr. Overholt, asking me to come into the office, apologizing for his nurse, apologizing for the news.  As I sat, in paper robe and smiley face socks, I felt more vulnerable than at any other time in my life.  My heart pounded, my hands shook, how could this be?  I had never missed a pap in my life, why wasn’t this caught sooner?  Will I be able to have children?  Will I be able to live a life free of this sniveling coward we call cancer?

He explained to me that I had carcinoma in situ, Stage I, and that he was referring me to a gynecologist who specialized in Cervical Cancer.  I met and loved Dr. Lape from the moment our eyes connected.  He explained that I would have to have a cryosurgery first, and then-a biopsy of my uterus-to ensure it hadn’t spread and to remove the tumor.  His best advice?

“Don’t listen to ANYONE but me.  Don’t go looking for trouble.  Any questions, this is my home phone number.  God bless you sweetheart, we got this.”

And so it was, after  three cryosurgeries (in which the cancerous cells are frozen and destroyed) a biopsy and D&C, that I lay on the couch, my Tylenol #3 and a heating pad for comfort.  My parents took me to my first freezing, and afterwards took me to lunch and tucked me in when we returned home.  I remember feeling as if I had been beaten below the belt, the pain was tough, the recovery tougher.  More cells were found, more cryosurgery.  And finally, freedom.  The freedom that comes with knowing you are free of the dastardly C word.

I was never told I could not have children.  And I didn’t find out until I lost our first child-an uncaring doctor asked me why we didn’t use birth control if I knew I couldn’t carry.  He gave me a script, called it a “spontaneous” abortion and referred me to the local Planned parenthood, where I was given another scraping, and released.

Driving home, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My girlfriend Annie, not taking her eyes off of the road, shushed my tears.  She held my hand.  She took me home and put me to bed, with a stuffed teddy bear and a sippy cup.


Your Private Life Drama Baby…………

I LOVE Grace Jones.  I listened to her every chance I got in the eighties.  I was painting in the kitchen when WXPN played this tune, and I was shocked at how the lyrics still punch me in the gut-but for different reasons now.

I once dressed up as Miss Grace for Halloween, back in the day.  I bought a beach hat and attached Christmas balls to it, then painted my face brown.  I actually won the best costume that year, but coming home to my girlfriend’s house, wearing said costume, proved to be a bad idea, as Sally’s dog wanted me, wanted me bad for a midnight snack.  I had to go out to the back yard and strip, and my bestie got me a wash cloth…….brand new me, no rabid dog attacks.

This tune falls into the “narcissistic abuse” category, and if you listen closely there is a line about someone’s marriage being a “tragedy,” but I can offer no further details at this time as I am about 150% positive that my blog is now being hoovered: not just my sister, but other family members as well.  One of the things you learn, being the scapegoat of the family is this-if you open your mouth, for any reason, to defend or uphold your integrity, you will look ape shit crazy.  The narc has poisoned others’ minds with their vitriolic script, and if you do choose to stand up for yourself (believe me, the hardest thing that God has yet to ask of me is to turn the other cheek, realize my beloveds have been brainwashed, and-well, shut my mouth) you will only feed into their psychopathic, narcissistic rage.  You can’t play the victim card, they own victimhood.

In another few weeks, my family, cough, will be heading out to the Adirondack mountains, sans moi, and I can tell you right now the loss I feel is real.  I can only wonder if I did the right thing by cancelling our plans, but know this:  her day will come, and though I have began praying for her once again, the spirit of the Jezebel is not of this world.  We are the peacemakers, the empaths, the lovers and sympathizers.  And one day, we know not when, we shall be redeemed.

In the Dark I Have No Name…..

After I wrote my positive outlook on life blog yesterday, things changed and quick.  I  had been referred to a specialist for Lyme, however, she wouldn’t take me unless I faxed all 4.6 billion pages of my family practitioner’s files-a feat so great, so daunting, that I crossed her off the list.

So, now I am on the phone with practice after practice, looking for some enlightenment, and receptionist after receptionist gives me a hard time.  Why, one of them was so rude I hung up on her-because she was about to get a fresh can of WHOOP ASS, and I have offended God enough in one week, thank you very much!  

The thing is, I have never been diagnosed with Lyme.  They did bloodwork twice, and both times told me that I had an autoimmune disorder.  Do you have any idea how many immunity disorders there are?  However, I had the tick bites and bullseye to go with my other symptoms.  Now I need REAL answers from a REAL Specialist.  I finally found a woman in Lancaster, an internist.  I have to wait a few weeks, but do have to tell Peter about it, my physician for all other things Michele.  That should go over well, NOT.

So, with Lyme you have so many symptoms of depression, mood swings and outbursts-and now I can’t tell if I’m truly depressed, or is it the Lyme spirochete?  So, I am on the verge of a full out meltdown.  I’m not going to lie, I thought about taking a drink.  Unfortunately, or should I say FORTUNATELY every bartender within a fifty mile radius of my home knows I’m in recovery.  Seriously floundering, I began yelling at God.  I do this very, very rarely-only when I am distraught.  The mere thought of hurting Jesus is enough to make me faint-I wasn’t so much angry as frustrated, and frightened.  And that just isn’t me.

I decided on a joint and a sit by the lake, and drove away from my house like a bat out of hell.  Actually, I didn’t know my little jeep had it in her, but I was doing 75 when I saw her.  Laying in the road, blood everywhere, surrounded by three elderly women.

I jumped out of the jeep, horrified, and tried to contain the situation (I am a highly trained EMT) when the news hit me that no one had called 911.  I didn’t have my cell, so I drove back up to the house and called.  This is what I abhor about phoning 911-the idiotic questions.  You are sitting by a woman who is bleeding out, right there in front of you, and this jerk wants to know if she’s alive.  WHAT THE HARRY BELLAFONTE??????  I told him three, count ’em THREE times I was an EMT.  Finally snapped and just told him to send the flippin’ ambulance.  Not before he said this to me:  “don’t touch her.”

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, why can’t people do their jobs?

So, the ambulance comes, to see Nora.  She is a kindly and mentally challenged Amish woman who lived down our street.  She has diabetes, and her sugar crashed-she took a face plant into the concrete, with her glasses on.  The blood was everywhere, and, as always-a woman on the scene who thought she knew everything.

The bus (ambulance) arrives.  I am busy directing what little traffic there is, and I (seemed like slow motion) turned to see the paramedics lifting her by her arm pits on to a gurney.  No concern whatsoever for her back or spine.  I have never, ever seen such malpractice in my life.  She should have been C-spined, and put in the gurney with padded protectors to keep her spine straight, but she wasn’t.

I left the scene when all was over, the know it all blubbering (she was as upset as I was, to see their lack of skills) and various neighbors talking amongst themselves on the pavement.  I turned towards home, and I let out a holy cry-God knew what it would take to get me out of the house yesterday.  I never leave the house after noon unless I have plans-I am too busy cleaning and cooking and baking and…………………He knew, and he used me even though I was the biggest, whiniest brat on the planet.  He used me to help save a woman’s life.

Cast your burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain you: He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

-Psalm 55:22

And She Was……

There is a well known fact in this household, rarely spoken of, but my heart beats for him continuously, and he has earned my adoration.  David Byrne, MARRY ME.  🙂  I had the pure privilege of seeing the Talking Heads at Emerald City in Philadelphia, circa 1980.  Front row.  The rolling melodies and heart thumping bass can still be heard in my head, and I am dead serious when I say that the female guitarist made a pass at me.  Ah, the good old days when rock was rock and  a spade a spade.

I had a horrible nightmare last night.  Or I should say this morning-Dwain had decided to go to work, despite the blizzard conditions-he wasn’t answering my calls, he was nowhere to be found.  I awoke in a cold sweat, extremely anxious and confused.  Moments later, while sipping hot coffee, I phoned my husband and my nerves were calmed just by the sound of his voice.  Strange way to start the day…….

As I walked down to the garage, to feed the feline community, I felt it-or, perhaps didn’t feel it is a better way to say this.  No pain.  During Lyme flares, my feet are constantly in pain.  Bone pain, muscle pain-I don’t let it slow me down, but the mere fact that I was pain free was reason enough to look up at the sky and praise Him.  My lymph node has diminished, and there is even a noticeable lift in my loafers.  Oh, how beautiful life is.  And here’s the thang-none of us are promised more than this day.  We have a choice-to be positive among the chaos and confusion, carpe diem,  or, as I did yesterday-we can pout, stomp our feet and be a miserable pain in the ass in general, bringing everyone around us on edge, walking upon proverbial eggshells.

I fail Him each and every day, by thought and deed.  I repent, ask for forgiveness, and concentrate on my future-with my main man, golden retriever and Yeshua-and between the four of us?  We have this, He is working in our lives, whether we see rainbows or coffins-the choice is ours, and I choose life-oh, my dear friends, I choose life~



The Silent Scream

I want to write about treating others as we would expect to be treated (if you love yourself enough)  In recovery, there is this long and arduous, yet somehow pure and raw discovery of who we really are and what our destiny entails.  If you are one of the lucky ones?  You will go through the darkest nights of repressed grief, shame, abandonment and despair.  I say this because in order to get sober, you have to do the work.  There will be slips and relapse, until you finally come face to face with your demons, make amends to people you may not even like (over and over again) have awkward discussions in the supermarket aisles because you run into the nurse you screwed over in regards to a shift you didn’t show up for because you were home, hungover and sick…..and not remembering that you had told her just last night you would work for her because her aunt died.  Those conversations.  Bad lighting, bad feelings and bad memories, oh my GOD those first years re hard.

If someone argues with you that getting sober is easy?  Call them a liar.  Call their bluff.  They may just break down and get real, emotions might be triggered….every sober person has a colorful, if not plethora of “stories” involving how hard it was not to take that drink/drug the night that something didn’t go your selfish way.

My husband just came home to find that I have yet another cold.  I have done everything under my control to protect myself this year (vitamins, homeopathic mixes, probiotics, vitamin C……) and remain healthy.  I do have a compromised immune system, and I can no longer apologize for things of this nature, as I do not relish in it, nor do I enjoy being sick and ineffective when I am painting the entire house, take care of 12 animals, have to clean, cook, do laundry, change sheets, go to the grocery store….. my volunteer work, clean the litterboxes…Come on.

“You’re always sick,” he laughs, bitterly.

His reaction let me down, and rather than retaliate?  I want to lovingly say that I have told him thousands of times that this is related to my Lyme, and my state of mind.  I used to pray for a cold to get a few days off around this time of year-you know, horizontal, you-can’t-clean-you-can’t-cook, you want to sleep until the cows come home, you know the drill.  As of late I loathe the idea of being less than 100 percent.  I wasted way too many days sleeping or sick, although I remain convinced that God wanted me alone, near and quiet.  I want to live this life I love, have new adventures and we aren’t promised tomorrow.  Carpe Diem is literally my new catchphrase.

There are things on my mind this time of year, but I push my feelings down.  Everyone and their mother knows that  many people suffer crippling depression/anxiety during the holidays, and not only are my parents gone, but I am only speaking to one third of my family, and the other third lives thousands of miles away in Las Angeles.

What I am trying to say is:  this has been a hard week.  I found out my estranged sister was diagnosed with melanoma in situ, and obviously I just cannot afford to break no contact.  Sometimes it’s all I can do not to drive down to Exton, and insist she cry on my shoulder, show some emotion, get it off her chest….no you are not perfect, who said you ever had to be?  Please, please seek counsel with a professional for your pain that you have pushed down for 51 years!  I don’t judge you, I am protecting my sanity and well being.

What I’m trying to say Dwain is this:  Why can’t you be happy about how far I have come?  Did you forget how much I dread the holidays…..how I have scratched and clawed my way out of bed, out of depression and addiction.  I have scars on the outside, but that is nothing to compare to what I have on the inside, that remains unspoken, so I don’t have to rock the boat.  But honey?  I’ve been apologizing for my own pain for way too long, just be the husband Jesus and I know you to be.  I love you Charlie.

She (Final Chapter)

So, we left off in Dwain’s bedroom, after he asked me to move in with him. The deal was-get rid of your ex-wife’s shoes and it’s a done deal. Actually, you may be thinking RED FLAG, why would he have his ex’s shoes around? Was he having trouble letting go?

I gradually removed a few things from my marital home. Silk sheets. Candles. Family pictures, clothing. Karl knew I was in love with someone else, he knew weeks before the wedding: but Dwain worked with Karl in a steel foundry, and he had lost EVERYTHING, he simply couldn’t lose his job.

I told him that I was staying with a “friend” to figure things out. Recovering from cervical cancer, I was unable to be intimate, and as it turned out? I had the signed divorce papers before that happened. Although I felt as if I had a scarlet letter displayed for all to see on my forehead, (ultra conservative town, and I was an outsider having just moved to Schaefferstown from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. I felt the dirty looks, experienced the callousness of others-it didn’t faze me as my very own mother and father weren’t speaking to me, and sadly, who could blame them?

One day, woken by the crisp and taunting ring of the phone, I picked up.


“Who do you think is more expendable, a metallurgist or a metal pourer?”

Sweet Jesus, it was Karl. How had he known where I was, and more importantly, how would this affect Dwain’s career? My heart pounding out of my chest, I phoned my friend Bonnie. She had been sworn to secrecy, yet I knew on some level she had betrayed me.

Your mother called me and asked, I was frightened, I had to tell her.

I dropped the phone and ran at warp speed, as fast as my legs would carry me I ran to the house of Dwain’s cousin, Rick. Knowing I couldn’t drive, (too shaky) I burst into Rick’s house and told him the news.

“Karl has a gun, and he’s headed for Quaker Alloy.” Only words I could get out, because I was hysterical. Rick was in mid-shave and I begged him to hurry. I called Dwain to warn him, and we broke every speed limit driving to Myerstown.

“I don’t care, I can take him. It’s a relief that the deception is over, let him come.”

It was a Saturday, and very few employees were working. I had given him time to arm himself, and I was thoroughly sickened by the latest developments. Dwain told us to leave, and as we pulled into his driveway? Karl sat, waiting for me in his car.

“Are you okay?,” he asked me.

How could I be okay? Karl had two bullets hanging from his rearview mirror, one with my name and one with Dwain’s. Not your average day to be sure, and I was frightened out of my mind-for all involved.

Soon after, Karl fell in love with a pillar of the community. She owned a local kitchen cabinet business, and for all intents and purposes, she was very, very wealthy. I was happy, elated for him. Things between my parents improved when I ended up in the Emergency Room after being bitten by my dog (I was feeding her, she had assumed that my hand was a part of her treat, yet they demanded I put her down, so they could send her head away to be tested for rabies.) My mother was hysterical, but very comforting. We saved the pup, I had seven stitches, and all of the stress imploded upon me. All I wanted was to be able to love the man of my dreams, preferably without losing my family.

My father and Dwain drew very close, and actually bonded after Dwain threw a half stick into daddy’s pool, loosening a tile that had been imported from Italy. I held my breath, he LOVED those tiles…..but dad just burst out laughing and asked if there were any more to light…later, my husband would prove to be an integral part of caring for my father. Dad looked at Dwain as a son, and at the end of his life it was evident that my father appreciated his tremendous contribution to caring for him in the end stages of renal failure.

After my father died, the drinking and drugging got out of hand. We hung out with people who did coke, and the more we drank? The more we fought. Dwain was very controlling, and quite emotionally abusive to me on many occasions. I remember catering a dinner; I had worked all day in the kitchen and was taking things out to my car, when he told me I was “doing it all wrong.” I broke down and lay in the kitchen, newly sober and very on edge.

“Don’t ever, ever talk to me like that again. Ever.,” I wailed.

I thought getting sober would help our marriage, but we had a ton of work to do before we could be happy again. We joined a church and began attending weekly. I could literally see Jesus working on Dwain’s heart and things began to change for the better. The narcissistic traits were gone, and today? He is the kindest, most loving and supportive man I know. His actions speak as loudly as his words, and for that, oh for that I am incredibly grateful

Dedicated to the love of my life. You hung the stars and moon, baby. I could drink a case of you, and still, I would still be on my feet.

In a New York State of Mind….

I have written, at length, about my relationship with my now disowned sister-but words will never portray the betrayal, the loss, the shock.  Back in the day, in our twenties, we did everything together.  I took her with me to Pittsburgh, my ex-husband’s home town, on several occasions, and there were great times, amazing times-but that is another story for another day.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like to find out someone as close as a sibling is a psychopath.  I look back constantly, why, why, why?  There were so many red flags, but my self esteem was in the toilet, and she used everything that was true and decent, my immense love for my family, my spirituality-she used it against me.

“Nothing matters to you more than family, does it Michele?,” she asked one rainy morning, ten or so years ago.   Of course not, I told her.  Family means everything, all we have in this world are each other, mom and dad are gone and we have to take care of the family we have left.                                      

She took this information, digested it, and used it against me for ten years straight.  My husband loved our nieces and nephew-he constantly asked why we didn’t just drive down to Exton, surprise them.  Back then, he didn’t understand the machinations of her twisted mind.  I knew she was punishing me, but where was the crime?

New York is incredibly important to me.  I was born in Utica, my grandparents and cousins, aunts and uncles-they were all in upstate New York.  My father, the only person in our family who graduated college, attended St. Lawrence University- and that is where I will spread his ashes in September, standing next to my husband, my familia, who has been hurt and victimized as well, at the hands of her insanity.

Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Love does not envy or boast.  Love, in all its messiness and madness, well, love never fails.

In gratitude and remembrance of Stephen James Elkins.   My friend, my partner in crime, my father.  It’s hell here without you daddy, see you on the other side.