Well that didn’t go as I planned

I am sometimes accused of only posting fun and exciting adventures on Facebook and Instagram and it can (I suppose) give people the impression that I lead a charmed life, which I don’t. It’s just that when I do post things it’s usually about my comedy adventures or stuff with my church. I leave out the stuff that really should go to my therapist because I don’t want to traumatize anyone.

Well, let me tell you about the day I fell on my butt in front of a woman I admire greatly and just met.

Spoiler alert: We aren’t going to be friends. Ever. Nope. Not gonna happen. I’m pretty sure of that one. I’m not going to be friends with anyone on her team either.

I had this really exciting weekend planned where I was going to hostess a speaking team from California for a woman’s conference for the whole weekend and I was excited. I love her work. I’ve taken women to places just to see her. I guess I’m a bit of a fan girl, without wanting to seem like one perhaps. I’m not sure.

And besides, I rock at this, really I do. I’ve been taking care of speakers since the 90s. Now granted, this is the first time I’ve done that since Mom passed, but no biggie, right? I mean what would be the harm. Going to a woman’s conference the same week that I put Mom’s house on the market and did my final walk through. Oh did I mention we just found out that Dad has leukemia?

 Surely, I’ll be fine.

We found out last minute that there would be four people arriving instead of the normal two, so our director put two of us together to work with the team. That seemed fair. I arrived at the airport early to pick up “Pepper” and when a tall male walked up and introduced himself, I almost didn’t believe him.

Being me, I said out loud, “Oh wow! I was expecting a woman.” I tried to save it with “well, it’s a woman’s conference and all.. I am so sorry.”

He just smiled.

I insulted her director, right out of the gate. Isn’t that awesome?

 

It just went downhill from there. Really it did. A comedy of errors. Everything I tried to put my hands on fell apart. I wish I was exaggerating. Fortunately for them, there were two hostesses assigned to this team and my counterpart rocked. She’s wonderwoman on steroids. She’s also about 15 years younger than me and can fly around that arena like she’s on roller skates. (I tend to hobble)

When I sat in the stadium waiting to hear my speaker get up and do her thing, I was feeling a little shaky. This first few speakers really get your heart. But I told myself “I got this. It’s going to be okay.” Big deep, calming breaths.

My speaker is a dramatist and she did this sketch that I’ve seen half a dozen times before and I thought nothing of it, until she takes this left turn at the end and her character confronts her alcoholic mother with all the things she wishes she could have said.

I never saw the sucker punch coming. One minute I’m enjoying the sketch, the next I am on the floor sobbing and cannot pull it together.

Thus ending my awesome chance at hostessing one of my favorite speakers.

I turned over the reigns to my counterpart and hid for the rest of the day until it was time to take them back to the hotel. They hid from me as well, so it was a mutual avoidance thing.

I mean really, she’s in a new town, starting a new tour with an event she’s never performed at before. This was the first stop, and she gets the sniveling-grief-stricken-hostess who’s phone texting system isn’t even working correctly and who chose to take offense at something a pastor said to her (he compared me to a rich white party girl from his college) which caused another crying jag (only that one outside).

Can you blame her?

I would have done the same thing.

And I don’t know if they thought I bailed because I was lazy or what, but I didn’t care. 

Grief is a rude child and demands attention when it demands attention.  It’s just a weekend. It’s just grief and not the end of the world. And if this speaker and her team thinks I’m a train wreck, then they think I’m a train wreck. Most likely though — they haven’t given me another thought since they left for the next gig.

I’m much better now. I no longer want to crawl under a rock. But there it is.. I blew that gasket every way possible. And I didn’t die.

And if you are grieving or know someone who is, be compassionate with yourself and with others. It takes time and it’s not a race.

Have a great week peeps.

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New York is Not My Home

Three days to spend. Two of them flying. One in and one out. The other to meet with lawyers and put mother’s house up for sale. I’m almost through.

I spent so much time there last year people were beginning to think I was gone for good. My husband even began to wonder.

Honestly, I haven’t even looked at the house since I came home in October. I’ve simply paid people to take care of it. Not sure how I feel about going back.

Okay, I know exactly how I feel…

I’m ready to put this behind me for good.

New York is not my home.

Lyrics/Music: Jim Croce

Well things were spinnin’ round me
And all my thoughts were cloudy
And I had begun to doubt
All the things that were me

Been in so many places
You know I’ve run so many races
And looked into the empty faces
Of the people of the night
And something is just not right

And I know that I gotta get out of here
I’m so alone
Don’t you know that I gotta get out of here
‘Cause New York’s not my home

Though all the streets are crowded
There’s something strange about it
I lived there ’bout a year
And I never once felt at home

I thought I’d make the big time
I learned a lot of lessons awful quick
And now I’m tellin’ you
That they were not the nice kind
And it’s been so long since I have felt fine

That’s the reason that I gotta get out of here
I’m so alone
Don’t you know that I gotta get out of here
‘Cause New York’s not my home

(instrumental)

That’s the reason that I gotta get out of here
I’m so alone
Don’t you know that I gotta get out of here
‘Cause New York’s not my home

the year that did not kill me

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I’ve been writing and rewriting, wanting to sum up 2015 for you guys, and for myself to no avail.

Word picture: Me, butt in chair, staring at a computer screen and eating potato chips, for hours.  That and drinking massive amounts of coffee. Then going outside in our forever summer to smoke. I know, smoking is bad, but it relaxes me.

SIGH.

Then I saw this cartoon on a friend’s Facebook wall and I’m thinking YES, this is it. THIS is 2015 in a nutshell. That which did not kill me has made me weirder. And maybe a little harder to relate to. Or not, I’m not sure really.

Oh no worries, 2015 did not make me neurotic. I’ve been that way for years. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you.

I’m the daughter of a prom queen. The rules were simple, Mom was always the prettiest woman in the room. If I gained five pounds, she threw up and I pay for my own therapy.

I can live with neurotic, trust me.

Part of me believes that I have this semi-empty-nest-grown-kids thing down cold, but when the guys (husband included) all went to see a movie over Thanksgiving weekend and didn’t invite me, that got me right in the feels. We made up for at Christmas by going to see Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Wonderful movie. I loved it. I also loved spending time together as a family. So even though I’ve proven since 2012 that there is life after kids, the bottom line is, they are still my favorite people to spend time with when they are home.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes 2015.

This is the year of Catch Me If You Can. I’ve traveled everywhere it seems. Sometimes for fun and sometimes not. We lost my brother-in-law to cancer this year and my mother died from COPD and Depression. She was miserable in the end. That doesn’t necessarily make her passing easier though. She was my mom. Our relationship was complicated by a lot of things including the lack of relationship she had with her mother but we made the best of it and had our moments. I miss her. A lot.

So, highlights:

We saw Garth Brooks in concert (It was AWESOME!). I went to San Francisco for the first time ever to see my best friend from childhood. I performed at the Syracuse Funny Bone and was given the nickname “Hippie Chick.” Went to New Orleans (Another First) I spend five months  in Upstate New York taking care of Mom before she passed away. Went on a Muse Cruise with my girlfriends and visited Haiti, Jamaica and other islands. Every place I visited, I found someone playing banjo which is pretty cool to me. I spent a week in St Petersburg Florida with friends performing at Coconuts. I did a show at the Tulsa Loony Bin with other friends. Celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary. Turned 50 (E-Ghads) and didn’t die. Recently discovered my Dad is in the early stages of dementia and will soon need more care than I can provide. (I’m not even going to discuss the bed bugs in my NY apartment or my airplane catching on fire and the emergency landing)

Simply put, I survived the roller coaster that is this crazy mixed up life. And if that makes me weirder, so be it. If nothing else, it gives me great material.

 

And that is 2015 in a nutshell. I learned this year that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit, that we all need community and I have wonderful friends, that I’m a halfway decent banjo player and I am going to go back taking lessons after the first of the year, that life after kids comes with twinges, that a name (or lack there of) on a birth certificate doesn’t mean anything really, that alcohol and grief don’t mix well, and that I am indeed funny.

May you look back on 2015 with peace and gladness and may 2016 be all you ever dreamed of. Happy New Year my friends.

And don’t forget to breathe darlin’

Deana O’Hara

I won’t get mad to your face, but I will crucify you in the shower- so there!

I’m fake.

Not all the time.

Just some of the time.

Mostly, I’m fake about my anger.

If you’ve ever seen those flashbacks on TV or the movies where someone flashes a mental picture of them hurling said irritant out the window and then you come back and see calm composure – that would be me. When I’m mad my insides explode and my outside get’s calmer. Dead almost. Or I just get a goofy ass grin and go blonde. Either way.

There is a part of me that truly envies women who can express anger openly. I wasn’t raised to do that, so for me it is very foreign.

Truth is, I have a horrific temper, I just don’t allow myself to express it, even in healthy ways like saying “I’m really angry right now, let me cool off and get back to you.” — I never get back. Most of the time, I rarely even let on that I’m mad.

I actually fired someone years ago over anger/hurt feelings and they have no idea I fired them.

I can still remember the trigger and the rage. I wasn’t just mad by what happened, I was deeply hurt and I wanted to inflict bodily harm. I wanted to create a scene. I remember visualizing bodily harm and a multitude of cuss words, throwing things (I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to throw something at that man’s head) and in your face so theres.

I didn’t do any of that. I left with a goofy smile and see you tomorrow, and I just never came back.

Well that’s partly true anyway. Once i cooled off I went back to talk, but they weren’t available, and they stayed unavailable. Guess they have the same issues.. avoidance. It’s just as well really – if I can’t be honest, maybe we shouldn’t be doing business together. Or be friends.

The kind of anger that is triggered during those moments usually involve personal shame, history and fear and I really do want to lash out with emotional violence. Not doing that is healthy, not addressing that at all however, is not.

To this day this man has NO idea how deeply hurt I was by his words – or by the fact he had someone on speaker phone when he said them and I knew it. I just avoid his area of business and his circles.

I live in a small town ya’ll. Reckoning day will eventually arrive. Not just for that relationship, but the countless others in my past that have fallen by the way side because of unresolved and unaddressed feelings. Anger or otherwise.

I’m not alone either.

I once polled my Facebook tribe and asked “What would you do if fear was not an issue.” I got the typical responses like skydiving, comedy, write a book, but then one response stood out.

“I’d give myself permission to express my anger.”

WOW.

That came from someone I admire a whole lot and it hit me square between the eyes.

I’m not alone.

I’m not the only person who plays dumb in the face of anger because I’m afraid. 

Anger is one emotion I’m very familiar with but really struggle with expressing. I’d rather stuff it, deal with it in private (my shower or journal) and leave you out of it than risk vulnerability, embarrassment, physical harm, shame or worse – abandonment. I never had permission to express anger growing up or as an adult with some extended family members.  It was always a get over it or leave kind of environment. Avoidance is the motto and key to getting along. Stuff it and smile.

Or how did Miranda put it? Oh yeah, “Hide your crazy and start acting like a lady.”

I’ve only met a few men (or women for that matter) in my life that I trust enough to go toe to toe with. One of them happened to be on our church plant team years ago – oh man it was awesome. There was no fear of abandonment, physical harm or shame. He knew how to fight and I enjoyed the freedom of being able to do that with him. Neither of us took offense, and neither of us liked to lose which was a problem. So we dropped the ball.

It wasn’t a healthy expression of anger, but it was refreshing to know that I can express my personal anger full on and be taken seriously, not have it held against me, and move on. Somewhere in all of this is balance.

Wish I had an “in conclusion” to give here – with some great sage words of wisdom about speaker/listener technique or “I feel statements” but I really don’t right now. Yes, all of that is good, but when I’m blindsided by anger I still struggle. Maybe for me a good baby step is learning words like “ouch” and “I don’t know how to take that.” and start from there.

Have a great day peeps.

Don’t forget to breathe.

The Best Moments sometimes came too late.

I love my mother, heart and soul.

She was an alcoholic who left recovery after ten years of sobriety to return home and do it on her own. That was the biggest mistake she ever made in my opinion.She never took another drink, but I wouldn’t call what she lived, sobriety. 

Mom suffered from severe depression on and off for most of her life. This blog post is not intended to tarnish her memory. Nor is it intended to trash AA, it’s a wonderful program. Mom was an amazing women. A force to behold most days.

She is my beloved. The bravest women I know.  

I will always be thankful for her.

I spent three months with her before she passed and  as crazy hard as those days were, I am eternally grateful for that time.

Nothing was left unsaid.

Our last words to each other were “I love you.” and “I love you too.”

I have peace knowing that my mother loved me and knowing that she knew she was forgiven by me and that I loved her as well. Not many people have that. What a gift.

Mom was laid to rest on August 22, 2015 after a long 15 year battle with COPD and severe depression and anxiety.

May she finally be at peace.

I grieved for three years as she died piece by piece. And I grieve now, not so much always for what we had, but for what we missed.

When she was happy she was a screaming riot, full of life and humor. Manic almost in her pursuit of joy, gardening and art. She would work around the clock creating beauty. I loved those moments as a child, even if I couldn’t keep up. Those were the best moments really. Baking cookies in the middle of the night. Painting ornaments. Creating jelly. Mom on a manic was fun, if not exhausting.

In those moments she was wildly creative and wildly beautiful. 

But when she wasn’t happy, she was a force to be reckoned with, a storm with no warning and no chance of surviving. She was brutal, cutting, and fierce to anyone and every one.

She was, in those moments, my greatest source of pain. 

There was a lot of anger in her depression and those closest to her were her best targets; a sister, a daughter, a niece, a nephew, a friend, it really didn’t matter. She became cold, uncaring almost. Her body would clench up and her eyes would fill with tears as she spoke of those who had inflicted wounds in her life.

Were they real or perceived?

I’ll never know.

It was too much to bear really.

For me anyway.

The suicide attempts or threats.

The lies.

The threats of abandonment.

The manipulation.

The tears.

The anger.

There were countless times I’d speak to her on the phone or visit during one of her “moods” and I’d wind up in the hospital or back in therapy sifting for the truth.

One time, my doctor told me to either have her committed or walk away to save my own life.

I was willing to do neither and chose rather to weather the storm, come what may and find a way to love her in a way that she could recognize. I eventually did towards the end and I have no regrets.

Someone in AA told her that she could not take meds and be “sober.” They said Bipolar disorder was a “lie and an excuse.”

What a load of BS. AA itself does not have opinions on outside issues, but people do and she listened to the wrong ones.

That little pill would have changed both of our worlds for the better, but she wouldn’t take it because AA told her not to.

So who do I be mad at?

A 12 step program that saved my life and sanity through Alanon? That’s not fair.

Should I be mad at her? After all it was her choice not to take meds.

God?

The doctors who didn’t tell her the truth?

No one I guess.

I can’t afford it.

If I spend my days finding someone to be mad at, I’ll never heal.

I’ll spend my life like she did.

A victim.

Alone.

Afraid.

Angry.

Keeping score.

She’s at peace now.

It’s time for me to be the same.

Breathe Darlin’. It’s going to be okay. And if it’s not okay – hold my hand. Let’s walk this together.