“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 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.



The Coolest Dude on Planet Earth….

It is not by chance that my brother and I are obsessed with music; no indeedy do. Our father was a rocker and wherever daddy was, he had his boom box with him. Mom went to be early, and dad would sit down by the pool, by himself (he truly enjoyed the peace and quiet)for hours upon hours upon hours. He had the coolest taste in music, and Craig and I grew up listening to dad sing to mom-when he’d had one too many martini’s, for instance. Dad also played the banjo-to this very day my favorite instrument. Next to the mandolin and sax.

Today would be my father’s 84th birthday. If he were still here he would have had a family party. We would have bought him shirts, or sunglasses or even a garden tool. He was a master gardener, he worked his butt off in his gardens and his roses were my favorite. When I think of roses, I think of my dear father, who was my best friend. He and I just got each other, from the very beginning of my earliest childhood memories. I remember a vacation right after my sister was born-she screamed bloody murder the entire time we were there. I can remember looking at her crib from outside, and wishing she would just stop crying. My father, walking up the walkway asked if I wanted to go on a short trip. We ended up at the local bar, he eating clams and downing beers-me with my Shirley Temples and enough quarters to play Mr. Bojangles for hours-bet the locals loved us.

I wish he could have seen me sober. I wish I could have done more in the last months of his life, the most stressful and agonizing time of my life. I would give just about anything to go back in time, be his little girl again. And as I was getting dressed this afternoon, I smiled at my bedside picture of him and wondered…how will you show up today daddy? Our closeness has withstood the test of time; he is always here at Christmas, and I know if his pipe is broken in half? That I am in for some emotional turmoil, and that yes, he is here.

Prior to writing this blog, my phone-across the room, began to chirp a circus tune….and I smiled, instantaneously. I picked up the phone and sure as there are stars in the sky, it was playing a game. I don’t play games on my phone. I looked up, thanked God, and said Happy Birthday to my father- most certainly the coolest dude on Planet Earth.

Let’s Do Some Living…….

I went for my annual mammogram the other day.  I always go to Heart of Lancaster, and up until two years ago I brought my mother in law with me-my first experience, 17 years ago, left its mark on my psyche.  The tech found a spot on my breast, which she told me about.  Panic ensued.  It was a Saturday and my husband was golfing.  She had no business giving me that information, and it wasn’t until a follow up ultrasound that we found out it was a benign cyst.

So, the squeezing and pinching (3D is a new fresh hell, but I am thankful for the step up in early detection.)  I lost a very close friend to breast cancer.  Before we knew it, the cancer had metastasized to her liver, then brain.  She died a painful death, and none of us, not even her family, were allowed to see her in the final days.  I still weep over this loss, in the jeep, in the shower, right this very minute.  She was light and love and laughter….and she left us forlorn, with unanswered questions and mile high grief.

After my mammogram, a little voice inside my heart (aka, the Holy Spirit) led me to the volunteer office.  I couldn’t get there fast enough.  One thing led to the other and now I am reeling at how fast this happened.  If God wants you to minister, you cannot walk away from your mission-the Chaplain asked if I would like to work at the front desk in the mammography department, escorting and comforting nervous women who are about to have a vice grip on their precious girls.  I didn’t hesitate, of course, I answered.

What happened next made so much sense to me, I had to shake my head and smile at Jesus, because he knew my isolation and pain over the past few months.  In the chaplain’s office again for a follow up orientation, she asked this question:

“You can say no, but would you like to volunteer in the Emergency Room?”

Shocked, then crippled with insecurity, I said, “Yes.”  On the way home I spoke to God and told him I was NOT THE PERSON FOR THIS JOB.  I didn’t want to be caught in the fetal position with my pants down, if you get my drift.  Anything and everything could trigger me.  I had many, many reasons for doubt, and then He spoke to my heart.

My precious child, my good and faithful servant-what have you not suffered in all the years we have known each other?  Am I not the Alpha and the Omega?  Do you think I would call you to something I would not give you the strength and courage to do?

Stopping into the ER to have my TB test read, I asked the head nurse what a typical day is like.

“Some days are slow.  But because of the heroin epidemic, we have days where it’s nothing but overdoses, one right after the other.”

Walking back to the jeep I looked up in awe and celebration.  The good Lord has given me a ministry I have plenty of experience with.  No, not heroin, but just about everything else has piqued my addictive curiosity.  I know the damage this does, as I know heroin addicts, and because it is so cheap in this area, no one really bothers with pills any more.

For when I am weak, only then am I strong.

Finding Peace in the Chaos

I just read a blog on how to be a great blogger. Actually, more like a “popular” blogger who makes a decent dime threading words and telling others what they “want to hear.” That subject brought to mind my inability, since birth basically, to “fit in” to the world or worldly endeavors. I never actually pursued acclimation to material things, but it would have been nice, I suppose, to be popular-the kind of kid other children flock to-it wasn’t meant to be. As a matter of fact? I relish in my difference as of late. The world can be a dastardly place, and I’ll stick to the peace that surpasses understanding any day…especially knowing what foolishness lies in the mainstream media, or anything they are trying to sell you on a daily basis.

Did you know that the latest conspiracy theory comes with UFOs and just what CERN is up to-they want us to believe that we are being invaded by aliens, I kid you not. So don’t be alarmed if ET phones home, FAKE NEWS everybody….FAKE NEWS.

I don’t believe that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I hate that cliché and I will until the day I go home. It is my belief that God indeed gives us more than we, alone, can deal with-precisely because He wants us to turn to Him. If there has been a recent illness, job loss, family drama or newly diagnosed mental disorder, perhaps we should take this as a symptom. A symptom of our need to be reminded of his greatness, his compassion, grace and mercy. A cry from His heart to turn away from our pain and turn to Jesus-the great I AM.

A joyful heart is like a sunshine of God’s love,
the hope of eternal happiness,
a burning flame of God….And if we pray,
we will become that Sunshine of God’s love-
in our own home, the place where we live,
and in the world at large.

-Mother Theresa

Great is His faithfulness, and only He can calm the storm~

Bliss (The Shroom Room)

Blisshttps://youtu.be/0Su0nyBVamQ DSCF8737

As deep and dreary as my addiction was, there were moments of extreme levity, and for that I am grateful.  Back in 1995, my brother threw a Halloween party.  He lived in Fishtown, a charming city within a city, the colored buildings decorated with goblins and ghouls alike, and, as it turns out-a city in which you can walk for blocks and blocks in the middle of the night-safely and uninterrupted.

I brought along a date, Tim, the cook from Houlihan’s, where I was presently employed.  He was nice, tall, and very much the gentleman.  I had no interest in him whatsoever, but always the people pleaser, I had no idea how to say no, thus the mitigating circumstances-allowing a stranger into you inner circle, your familla…..you end up red pilling a perfectly sane human being, whom, before meeting you and your brood, was as white on rice as you can get.

Upon arrival, Tim and I took a seat on the couch.  I dressed up as Madonna, my costume of choice for ten years straight.  So easy, and downright sexy, I thought.  Mini skirt, fishnet stockings, fuck-me pumps, heavy eyeliner applied to give the appearance of bushy eyebrows, a leather jacket and….voila!  Madonna.  Craig, my brother, wore no costume, and many of the men, including my date, had no intention of looking the fool in an outfit their better half picked out at Marshalls.  We had just started to relax with our beers when my brother said this:

“Courtney dressed up as the devil.”

I could tell by the spark in his eyes that I should turn around and take in her apparel.  My poor sister had bought a devil costume, complete with horns, cape and pitchfork.  The dynamics of our relationship back then was complicated, yet loving.  I saw her as the kindest human being on the planet, so Little Bo Peep compared to my Twisted Sister.  I was wildly protective of her, and as the older by five years sister?  Let’s just say nobody messed with her, at least not while I was within a five mile radius.

My sister took a boat load of teasing from her siblings.  It was the thing to do at the time…..but this was an opportunity so rare, so appetizing, so off the cuff…..I had to shame her, lovingly of course.  We laughed at the store bought  uniform, and then we went upstairs (I have to preface this story by telling you about these particular stairs-old house stairs that wound tightly in a spiral up six flights of building.  Dangerous for a sober party goer, deadly for the drunk) as Craig had a surprise for us:  mushrooms, of the Timothy Leary kind.  Psychedelics from nature, what could possibly go wrong????????

As I poured my second beer from the keg, my sister, wide-eyed and stressed to the max, whispered in my ear: “I didn’t get off right away, so Craig gave me more in a candy bar.”

“MORE???????”  How much MORE??????,” I asked my red as a beet sibling.

You have to understand, neither of us had ever tried such a thing, we were very sheltered growing up and weed was as strong as it got, at least until this evening.  My sister was not a seasoned partier-Craig and I were older, prone to experimental drug use…..but Courtney?  She was afraid of chemicals, and I had to hide my horror that she had just ingested a boat load more than she should have, and now I had to keep my eyes on her-for the duration of this shin dig.

The party eventually moved upstairs, into my brother’s room.  Starting to feel a bliss heretofore unfelt, I laughed and carried on:  we hung out with comedic people back in the day, big personalities and broken psyches.  We all had a past in common, one of waiting tables yes, but more times than not?  Depression and mood disorders, addictions and afflictions.  But we were family, and my brother threw the best ever parties.

The shrooms now in effect, I found everything hilarious…..I have never, ever laughed this uproariously in my entire life.  Jokes weren’t just funny, they were deliriously mad cap….a spirit of frivolity hung over our collective heads.  The bliss that set in was heady stuff, and it all came to a dramatic stop when we noticed the drama unfolding in front of our very eyes.  Courtney, always incredibly vanilla, incredibly modest, was laying on my brother’s bed.  My friend Terry had just made a hilarious observation, and Craig was gone…….his face purple, his laughter echoing throughout the house………and then it happened, in slow motion, the docudrama that featured drugs, booze and my little sister….becoming unhinged in front of our eyes, and no one could stop what was about to take place.

Apparently, while loosing his proverbial shit at Terry’s story, Craig did not notice that my sister’s store bought costume was stuck underneath his elbow.  The harder she struggled, the louder he laughed…..until she was literally down to her bra and panties.

“Red alert, red alert,” I repeated over and over again in my head.  I have to help her.  People screaming and crying laughing at the site of her didn’t help.  I was angry and ashamed for her, yet I could not move-not one inch.  The hilarity had kept me frozen in place, and the more my brother laughed, the harder it was to move.  My eyes swept the room…..men gawking, women crying….and my little sister, also frozen-but in fear and embarrassment.

After what appeared to be hours, I finally took her hand, walked her to the bathroom and redressed her.  She clung to me like a cure for cancer, and didn’t leave my side for the duration.  We did everything we could to sober her up, walked her around the block a hundred times, coffee, Ativan…..nothing worked.  By four in the morning, everyone had left the party but my siblings and my date.  Exhausted, we fell into my brother’s king size bed, Tim laying on the floor next to me.  It had taken us hours and hours to stop laughing, to calm down enough to get some shut eye.

“Phatt, foof, tweet, (sound of a balloon in the last seconds of life) farrrrtttt, farrrrtt, farrrrttt.”  By the time I discovered that the noise was coming from my own ass?  It was too late.  I could see the silhouette of my brother’s face in the dark-laughing so hard he was gasping for air, and then it hit me:  my date was lying behind my behind, and he was getting the worst of it. The HORROR…..the EMBARASSMENT.  Suddenly, the joke was on me, and I finally caved and went with it, laughed until I cried, despite my growing panic.

The happy ending?  Tim never darkened my door again…….poor dude.