Like sometimes I call him "the big bald guy." Go ahead, take a minute or two to chuckle.
I've been trying to write a post on the DrPhil.com message board dedicated to "Depression and Grief" support, only to be slapped down and censored repeatedly by the moderators.
My crime? Trying to organize a very small, infinitely minute movement to raise taxi money for a "member" of the forum who has an actively dying husband at home, no money, a family that takes the term "dysfunctional" to new heights -- mostly due to inherited drug and alcohol dependency, and emotional/physical/sexual abuse.
I had given up on her.
Then, as I checked into this place to see how she was doing -- for one never stops caring, once one starts, no matter the twists and turns of that caring -- I watched her stand up straight, live right, and try with superhuman strength to pass on to her children and grandchildren a new paradigm.
She also gets my humor, and most of my odd allusions, and that stokes my ego.
One of the things she is doing, beyond nursing this man whom she has never really loved in a Hallmark way, with whom she has passed whole days without speaking, and who only now seems to understand her fidelity, is raising one of her sister's children -- essentially since birth.
This child shouldn't have had a snowball's chance in Hell to even see Success outlined on a far horizon. Instead, she's been raised with strong values, has made superior academic achievements, and wants, like all such kids, to be a doctor. I know this like I know anything -- she is going to have a tough time, because there comes those days when being "good" by opposing all that is clearly "bad" morphs into situations that are much less clear, not public, lacking cheerleaders, lacking obvious down sides. But she's going to make it, and she is going to make her Moms very proud.
Her other children are also caught up in the evolution she has both invented and just been caught up in by the grace of the graces. Already grown, closer to the dysfunction than this adopted young high schooler, better schooled in sly graft, in the Big Whine, in ducking responsibility as I define it (the definitive frame), mired to the upper thighs in a history of bad choices, and no choices -- it would be easy to say "Let's exclude them from this happy summation."
But let's not. One has three young sons, each with problems, and is dependent, not just on every entitlement intiative ever envisioned, but also dependent on her mother. She is kind, desperate for love, fiercely loyal, confused, and trying to change, as she watches her mother embrace change, and its challenges. She's a great mom, and wants to be more.
The other daughter suffers from badly diagnosed mental illness -- or has learned to feign it -- and needs mental health treatment and an infusion of intense, triple-powered self-worth. She's an untapped person -- I almost want to croon, in old radio style: "who knows what wealth lurks within..."
This woman has a sister whose only shot at drug and alcohol rehabilitation comes from her not infrequent incarcerations. She's done what women do who are addicted and has the children to prove it -- though none of them have had her guiding hand as they grew, being instead scattered among fathers, grandparents, and that famous "village" that raises such children.
This woman had a father who treated her like trash, a mother who either did not care or was too beat down to intervene... NO. No, I don't buy that -- never have, never will, when it comes to mothers. It's always a choice -- and I think in this case, her mother was just relieved that she had a stand-in for some of the abuse being doled out by a mean, twisted husband and father.
When her father died a few years ago, this woman shocked the Dr. Phil community with statements of forgiveness and claims of missing the man. What the ultimate, real truth will be in her heart regarding her father will be, I cannot imagine. Right now, all I can say is that I understand the initial reaction she went through, which was one of benign disinterest, because that's where I am following the recent death of my own progenitor.
She makes frequent claims about being a forgiving person who holds no grudges, but these statements are often sandwiched between venomous expressions of hate. Thank God, she's human, after all! I say that because Fred is convinced she is nothing but a con artist, as he and I have both been had by internet cons more times than either of us will honestly admit to.
Her mother is alive, and living in the same Section 8 apartment housing that she and one of her daughters -- oh, and an addicted brother, too -- inhabit. They're on different floors but from the descriptions she offers, it sounds like one big hang out. For some reason, at times, I picture an ant farm -- by which I mean no disrespect. It's just the image that pops up -- tunneling, rushing, going back and forth, and nowhere.
She worked until -- in what was possibly one of her worst decisions -- the day she decided she was disabled and could not work anymore. Rather than follow some regulatory and self-protective measures for leaving work due to disability, she just... quit. That choice, as bad as it was, seems to have led her down a path of self-examination that not many of us have the courage to take. Now she is at that phase where the pains of arthritis, fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease are showing her what disability is all about -- stuff you cannot fix, pain for which there is really no treatment. It pisses her off, as she is convinced that the doctors and the medical establishment are holding out on her, treating her differently. Sometime soon, she'll stop wanting more tests, more drugs to try, more specialized doctors to discover. Like I said, she's human, and becoming more normal week by week.
So her husband, the other half of a loveless union, has end stage lung cancer and is installed in a hospital bed in their tiny apartment. He gets up to go to the bathroom and to smoke. He is also schizophrenic.
She is loyal, and tender-hearted. She wants to care for him, though she is equally obsessed with paying for the disposal of his dead body. She and her immediates have no car, it's hot, her back and legs hurt like heck, she has dozens of things to do to keep the simmering dysfunction of her ant-farmed family under control so that this man can die in a state resembling peace. Hospice is helping but not, it sounds like, as much as they ought.
She writes well and some of the effectiveness of her story of poverty comes from its straightforward presentation. In a few sentences, she shares the experience of walking with bags of dirty laundry to the laundromat, her old mother coming along to stop by the bank, doing as much shopping as she can for "household supplies." It was very hot outside, her back and legs causing severe pain.
My sin, apparently, is proposing that the "support" community use PayPal as a kind of Lenten depository, as none of us are dripping gold, either. The only example I could come up with involved my suffering the loss of the several Diet Ginger Ales that I imbibe daily -- which would provide a few bucks a week that could go into my Lenten Doctor Phil Taxi Fund for this lady.
Probably the moderators, who don't like me, of course, because I don't like them, or their bathetic boss, are upholding some rule against fundraising. It'd be nice if they'd let me know, but they'd rather just slice and dice most anything I try to post.
If this is a fundraising proposal, it's a sad one. A few bucks from a few people who can ill afford to give them -- who are always the people who end up being the heart and soul of giving. This Depression and Grief Support board supported by Phil McGraw is her community, which is why I address the proposal to them. They want to help, or so I suppose.
She or her daughter need only set up a PayPal account of their own, and have a way to receive the funds -- a bank account, say. Or a check-cashing joint? Or Western Union? Something... I think she could easily figure that out.
It's just for taxi money, for this group of women trying to survive, and simultaneously care for a dying, schizophrenic, vet who has a chance to form loving relationships in the last weeks and months of his sad and fumbling life -- a priceless gift for his step-children and grandchildren, and for this woman, struggling to keep everyone on the right path, a path she has always known, somehow, without anyone to guide or help her.
I would simply like to keep her encouraged. And yeah, I would also like to see this Dr. Phil community do something besides stew in its own inabilities. That includes the Moderators.