Genetics blessed (lol) me with LOTS of birthmarks. None of them are/were huge. The biggest was smaller than a jellybean in circumference. I’ve had three of them removed over the years.

The first was when I was 14. After a childhood of being tormented by other kids about it, my mother finally agreed to have the really big ugly one removed from my shoulder. It really was ugly, too. Like…a pencil eraser or the top joint of my impossibly small pinkie fingers. Kids are mean and had worked like hell to make me miserable about it.

The second was in my early 20s. I finally had health insurance again and got to see a dermatologist again finally. A few of the spots on my back had gotten slightly bigger, so insurance was willing to pay to make sure they were safe (they were).

That was it. From that point, insurance would pay for a full-body checkup, but no removals, since three out of three had been completely benign. 

Until today. 

Y’all, I’ve been hoping for this for almost 25 years. THAT IS A LONG FUCKING TIME. I went in today for a checkup. At the end she said that insurance would probably pay to remove the bad ones three at a time…

…and did I want to start today?

You’re fucking right I wanted to start today!

It didn’t even really hit me until I got home and told a few friends. 

Now and then there are happy endings. This was one of those times.

One of the hardest things to do at times is to be open to other people coming into your world emotionally. It can be exhausting. A lot of people don’t understand what that’s like. You can use the spoons theory, but that on its own requires an explanation. Me being the complete and total genius that I am, I just thought of another way to describe it to someone who doesn’t know what it’s like to be shelled in with your defenses up all of the time.

Introducing: The Elevator Theory**

Think of the emotional shell as an elevator. You’re not rude. You’re in the elevator and there’s plenty of room in there for other people. So you open up the doors to let people in.

Only, this elevator is impatient and the door sensor doesn’t function properly, so you have to stand there and hold the doors open. As much as you’d like to keep them open forever so people can just come and go, but you only have the strength to hold the doors open for so long before you have no choice but to let the doors close until you again have the strength to hold them.

That’s it. That’s the theory. Use it as you will.


*What is Spoon Theory?

**I’m sure I’m not the first person to say or think it, I’ve just never heard it before and it makes lots of sense to me. My apologies to anyone ahead of me on the game.

I’m not good at prompting myself to write, so I posted on twitter asking for subject ideas. This was the first suggestion. Thanks, husband!

It’s been known for longer than any of us have been alive that the brain and the body work together in ways we understand as well as those we don’t. 

One of the more extreme examples of this is the connection between chronic pain and mental health issues. As usual, this is only my own personal experience. I’m not an expert, nor any type of trained scientist or doctor.

There are a lot of things that make me the awesome fucking me we all know and love. Two of those, my mental health struggles, and my chronic pain issues, are related, have direct impacts on one another, and impact me in different ways separately as well as together.

It’s hard to be in pain. Like, really hard.

Think about the last time you were really sick, running a fever of over 100 degrees. It took every ounce of energy you could muster to get yourself out of bed to go pee. Walking to the living room to sleep in a different sweaty lump makes you feel like you just ran a marathon while being the most hung over you’ve been since you went to that fall fling bash at Alpha Kappa Drinka.

Really hard.

Now, imagine that being the way you have to live your life. Not every day, but more days than not. Think about how desperate you were to just feel “normal” again. How easy it was to get upset. How running out of tissues makes you want to cry despite knowing how silly that is. Think about how exhausting it is to try and make yourself some kind of budget to get through your time being sick and away from work. Then think about that feeling never going away.

I’m incredibly lucky, as far as spoonies* are concerned. For the most part, I have more good days than bad. Minus a year or so about 8 years ago, I’ve been able to hold jobs. I can “play” normal. I have the good/bad luck of having an invisible illness. Despite when I’m really exhausted (Fibro brings insomnia along for the ride.) or wearing arm braces (I have nerve issues that require splints at times to control the pain or to keep the numbness at bay.), you can’t tell by looking at me that anything is wrong. It’s good because I don’t walk around with any sort of “HEY I AM INTERALLY FUCKED UP” beacon on me, but it’s bad because I have to constantly defend my need for extra time, extra space, extra comfort. I grew up being mocked as “lazy” from my family itself. I still have to explain to people why I’m always tired. I don’t look sick, so it’s easiest for people to just assume everything is fine.

It’s hard to always have to defend yourself, especially when it involves things like how you physically feel. 

Humans aren’t made to suffer. Having to do so without any hope of improvement is not easy to do. It’s hard to not feel sorry for yourself without feeling extremely guilty. You constantly worry. Will my job understand? Will I have enough energy tomorrow? Will I have enough leave time earned to take time off when I need it? Will my partner understand? Will my children judge me or think less of me? Will my friends think I just want attention?

It’s easy to worry. We have parts of us that are physically broken and often are told “too bad” so it’s hard to hold faith in the rest of the world going any better.

How are we told to deal with worry? Let’s look at a few examples and how they go sideways for us:

        • Tomorrow is a new day! True, except that chronic pain and illness don’t disappear overnight. For many of us, sleep can make pain worse.
        • Just stay patient! Things will improve. Except again, no, they won’t. Things are hard. And they are likely to always be hard.
        • Remember, some people have it worse. Suffering is not a competition. Stop telling us this. It takes our pain and tells us we aren’t important enough to complain about it.
        • Have you tried breathing exercises? Yes, and I do them regularly to help keep shit at bay. It doesn’t solve anything. It sometimes makes things more tolerable

After a certain point, it’s easy to believe that if my pain doesn’t matter to others, why should it matter to me?

We spend our lives defending ourselves and it’s hard. Think of how tiring it is to argue with someone constantly and have them never believe you. Now imagine that being how things go more often than not.

It’s yet another reason it’s so crucial that you try to see things from the eyes of others.

When someone tells you they hurt, listen. It’s literally that simple.

*Spoonies are people with chronic conditions that regularly involve using up more spoons than you have available. You can read about the spoon theory here.

my instagram suddenly stopped loading

It had also taken back my ability to both watch and create reels. It literally changed the appearance of the app back to what it was before reels had been introduced. I was confused. I was annoyed. I was irritated, but figured I just had to do one of the standard tries:

    • Clear the cache
    • Log out then back in
    • Restart your phone
    • Uninstall then reinstall

None of it worked, and because I’ve been involved in every breach in the country, I have a lot of security on my account and it takes a decent chunk of effort to log back in each time. So I’d go through all of that crap and then it still wouldn’t load.

I finally FINALLY figured out what the issue is, and a quick search found a few other people who have had the same issue. After digging through a whole bunch of repeats of the suggestions above, I FINALLY found the answer.

instagram will not load on my home wifi

What in the hell kind of sense does that make? None. Literally zero. Luckily, Android does (indirectly) give you a way to deal with this. You can set individual apps to not have permission to be on WiFi. It’s nothing I’d ever thought about before, but I suppose it makes sense. What I don’t understand, however, is why it suddenly changed for me a couple of days ago. Nothing changed on my phone, my IG version, or the home internet. It will be a weird mystery forever that will probably bother the hell out of me if I ever start drinking again.

How to force instagram to use your cell signal instead of wifi

It’s surprisingly easy. Here you go:

    • Go to “Settings”
    • Go to “Apps”
    • Go to “Special access”
    • Go to “Wi-Fi control”

That  takes you to a page with all of your apps where you can decide which to allow access to WiFi or not. Switch off the permission for Instagram then restart your phone.

It took me two days of searching and digging to figure out what the hell was going on. I’m hoping this helps someone else not have to go through that bullshit.

You’re welcome.


This part is important. Our world is a giant flaming floating trash trolley. We spend our lives full of anxiety. Little things like your time on Instagram that relax you and make you happy are important. It’s part of self-care. Take your focus away from the chaos now and then. It’s healthy.

This was originally posted 2018, Aug 03

I am slightly over a month away from the one year mark of my unintended benzo withdrawal. It has really been on my mind lately. I lost the majority of my memories from last fall and part of last winter. I still have memory issues.

Hang on, I’m sorry. That’s way too complicated of a way to start this post. Let’s go back and talk about what happened and then I’ll get to what I’ve been thinking about.

About two and a half years ago I hit a very low point, emotionally. My job wasn’t going well, my mother was sick, and I really didn’t feel like I had enough (or any) control over the trajectory of my life. I eventually admitted that I needed outside help. I found a group that could treat both my brain and my emotions. <strong>Therapy is wonderful</strong>. I can’t recommend it enough. Between my therapist (She’s a goddess, I swear.) and my psychiatrist, things were on the upswing.

Now let’s talk about where the benzos came into the story. That takes us even farther back. The FIRST first time was without a prescription at some point in my teens when I lived in Tucson. It was never about getting high. At the time it was to try and help me sleep (I’m a lifelong insomniac. Fun!), but fast-forward to being an adult. I was finally sleeping better, but still having a lot of anxiety. It’s something I’ve struggled with as long as I can remember. So my GP at the time prescribed a very low dose of a benzo. ONLY for absolute emergencies. Fine. That was around 2009. I’d go multiple years at a time without needing to fill the prescription. I rarely ever took it. But I took it when I needed it.

We’ve now caught up to where I was on the upswing. While not being aware of its addictive properties, I’d been told repeatedly by many people that the benzo I was taking can affect the person’s memory, as well as increase the possibility of getting dementia later in life. So I was feeling better. With my medical people I lowered my dose, but was still cutting pills into quarter segments to take a smaller dose. So they prescribed an even LOWER dose. This was all over the coarse of two or three months. Not a very long time.

All of my medical professionals warned me to stop taking the benzo. Not a single fucking one of them told me not to just stop taking them. I’m not a hard drug user. There was no reason at any point in my life I’d have the knowledge to not do what I did. It was up to those medical professionals to tell me. But they didn’t.

So when I felt better, I stopped.

I don’t know how long it took for the initial withdrawal to kick in, only how long it took to understand what was happening to me. It wasn’t an act of “I am going to stop taking this.” Because I took it when needed, I simply stopped needing it and therefore taking it. To make things more confusing, I was also switching one of my other meds at the same time. One was being swapped for something similar. So there was a lot going on in my brain all at once.

What I do know is that I went from being the most emotionally stable I had been in over ten years to being in a never-ending panic that also felt like I was on some sort of psychedelic drug. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t eat. I would be freezing cold then instantly be covered head to toe in sweat then back to cold again a few minutes later. I couldn’t sleep, although I would occasionally have crazy fever dreams/delusions. I was about 72 hours into that when a physicians assistant finally recognized that I was in a benzo withdrawal. My options at that point were to start taking either the same benzo (or a similar one) but in an even smaller dose to taper off, or I could just ride it out.  I was TERRIFIED of going through all of that again, so I chose to ride it out. A year later I do truly wish I’d made the other choice. This has been an incredibly difficult year emotionally (and as a result of that, physically). The first week or so was pretty much a continuous panic. Not a bunch in a row. It. Never. Stopped. My world literally felt like it was ending around me. One of the hardest/worst parts was knowing that all of the work I’d done with therapy was gone.

Not just gone but everything was so much worse than it had been before. The panic finally did stop, but it came back hard and it came back often. Panic was an ugly family member who liked to just show up randomly.

It’s gotten better but it’s been a hell of a journey. First it was every few days. Then it was every few weeks. Now it’s every few months. Hopefully it will stop someday.

Y’all, that withdrawal messed up my brain. I have hopes that it’s not all permanent. But let’s step back and took at the bigger picture here.

To treat my panic, my physician (No longer my physician.) gave me something that if I were to stop, would make my panic worse. Basically chaining me to that drug for life. With no warning.

<strong>With no fucking warning, y’all.</strong>

My therapist showed me a great online support group and I learned that what happened to me is COMMON.

<strong>So now we get back to what I’ve been thinking about.</strong>

I want to be loud about what happened. It happened to me. It’s happened to a TON of other people. <strong>BUT NO ONE FUCKING TALKS ABOUT IT, SO THE PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED IT YET DON’T KNOW. This has to stop. And I think I want to stop it with me.</strong>

I don’t know how. It’s going to take a lot of thinking and planning and organization and work, but I think I’m willing to do that. <strong>People need to know what these <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>LEGAL</span> prescription drugs do to people. </strong>I didn’t go through a withdrawal because I stopped getting high. I went through it because I didn’t need the medicine anymore and no one had told me the safe way to stop it.

When I was a kid, somewhere between 6 and 10, a friend had a sleepover birthday party. It had the usual parts of said party, and at one point the birthday girl wanted to watch a movie or show or something, so we were all crowded in front of a TV.

I freaked out. Like, legitimately freaked out.

Let’s go back a bit and explain why.

First, I was in trouble for something at the time I was at the party My punishment for pretty much anything meant no television. I sat with the other girls for a few minutes and became TERRIFIED of my mother finding out, and I had no idea what a 2nd or 3rd level punishment would include. I went and found an adult and made them call my mother for permission for me to watch TV. I was legitimately surprised that she was OK with it, but that was more than likely a fast decision on what would make her look the “best” to this other girl’s parents.

It became a family joke, and I’ve told the story many times over the years, but it wasn’t until literally this morning I realized how abnormal that entire situation was. And it got me thinking about WHY I was so worried about breaking the rule.

I was actually terrified of her. Think about it outside of the context of this blog post. A small child, at another child’s birthday, so worried about the punishment for breaking a rule, that I have zero positive memories of the party. I have the same lack of good memories from our trip to Disney in Florida. I’ve always assumed it was because it was shortly before my parents got divorced and they were just shitty and I picked up on it. I’m pretty certain that trip had the same absolute fear of punishment from her.

It’s just not fucking funny, and I shouldn’t have to be working to convince myself of that.

How fucked up is that, y’all? Not only did she beat me down (Emotionally, I was never punished physically after the last time I was spanked at 5 or 6. That’s a story for another blog post.) so damned much that I was too afraid of her to enjoy most positive situations, but she gaslit me so fucking hard that it’s taken this long for me to realize they were both COMPLETELY her fault.


I keep randomly unpacking shit like this, and it’s always about 6/10 feel better for realizing something/being incredibly angry and sad that she did it to me. All of it. My therapist has to remind me at least once a month that I was a child and didn’t deserve any of what she did to me (minus standard bullshit teenagers do to piss off their parents and feel big). Not a single bit of it. I can’t tell you how fucking hard that is. I have to struggle with it every moment of my life, walking around with forty years of guilt trying to shove me down even from the fucking grave. Which means I have to constantly think about what she did. 


It takes a lot of spoons, which is something else I have to constantly remind myself. This struggle is hard and it makes sense that I can’t just brush it off all of the time, and that is OK. The forgiving myself part is the part I am the worst at. I am my own biggest enemy, minus, of course, my mother.

The last relationship I was in before husband did not end well. The funny thing is that what stuck with me is not the one you’d expect. For the sake of this story, let’s call him Sterling. That is not his name but I’m not going to give that here.

I do know he was on a dating website and answering ads while he still lived with me and the chance of him having actually cheated on me are really damned high.

Those both suck. A LOT. There’s no way around that. But those aren’t the things that stuck the most. I was the one who ended things. He just one day stopped answering the phone and texts. The day after, when I finally got him on the phone, I ended things Rolling Stones style. It took a few days, then he finally came over to get his last handful of things he’d left. I gathered the courage to press him for what the hell had happened.

He didn’t know how to answer, or he didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know that one, either. I know this because of his answer. He told me he’d fallen out of love with me because I’d been greedy. 

That answer took me by surprise and I asked him how. He told me he thought I’d only been with him for his money.

It went about like this:

Image of Trump and Jonathan Swain in interview with "you only wanted my money" written on the page.
I’m sorry I what now?

This requires us backing up a few months in the story. As mentioned above, we did live together for a few months. While he lived with me, I paid for everything. EVERYTHING. He was the one with a job, I was unemployed. But I paid all of the rent and all of the bills. He paid for his shitty cheap beers.

So anyway, when he slammed that one on me, I was already not in a good place mentally. I’d broken up with someone else for him. It was the end of a relationship, and I was being treated really poorly and it was long-distance at his choosing. He’d moved back across the country to live with his mother. Sterling was the one who told me “You deserve better than that. I’d have never left you like that because you’re worth so much more than how he treats you.”

When it became obvious that he no longer loved me, it also meant that I was not actually worthy of the things he’d said I was worthy of. Any of it. I sunk down HARD quickly. 

My reaction to “You are greedy.” should have been “What in the literal fuck are you talking about?!” but I was already so fucking broken from how he’d treated me that I just took it along with the chest-crushing guilt that went along with it.

That was 2005. I don’t know what it will take to fix this one. I know I’m worth so much more than him. I know I didn’t deserve to be cheated on.

But my brain is still completely stuck on him thinking I’m greedy. There’s no way he actually thought that, but you convince my brain of that. I’ve not been able to. 

And it sucks. It impacts my relationship with husband any time money is in the discussion. I get extremely defensive at the idea of being told how to handle my cash, and there are times when that’s extremely inconvenient. We’re married. We need to talk about money. But it fucking slays me each and every time. The subject alone makes me feel like I’m once again being told that I’m greedy.

My point is that his very small statement made one of the biggest negative impacts on my life and my emotional well-being. It was nothing to him. He may not even remember the conversation. But it’s just cemented into my brain.

Remember when you tell someone anything, those words often have meanings beyond the part that’s said aloud.

I hate this post. I hate having to make this post. But it’s so important to me that I’m open about the struggles that I have mentally, and I hope that I can make at least one person think twice about saying something hurtful, even if that’s not how you meant it.

Once, many years ago in Tucson, I went with some friends to the drive-in movie. We were there with two or three other cars full of people.

Between the two movies, a guy I don’t know opens my back door and then proceeds to basically rip out a chunk of my back seat (that was not meant to even go down, let alone be removed).

He’s standing there with the chunk of seat and turns and looks at me and basically mumbles that he’s in the wrong car (NO FUCKING SHIT) and hands me the seat piece.

Why, dude? I don’t think I ever got that part of my seat back in properly.

The end. That’s the post. I figure if I’m going to write here it’s going to be a lot of random crap, so here you go.

My life has been fucking weird. It’s been challenging in weird ways, both from fate and from my own doing.

My biggest enemy has always been myself. I still have a lot of bad days, some really bad. But the rest of my days have been so much better. It took a lot of years of really hard work, and I will have to fight myself for the rest of my life.

But, I figured out HOW to fight.
And I’m slowly getting better at it.

Beyond that, the people who fate has pushed me in the direction of have mostly been truly wonderful. I’ve been so damned lucky to have people who are willing to fight for me and help me see that I’m worth fighting for. 

Financially, my life has changed in ways that I genuinely never thought would be possible after the questionable choices and moves that I’ve made. I have a job that appreciates me and actually pays me a salary that makes me know I am appreciated. I have a husband who, bless his fucking soul, has pushed me from day one to be better with my money. He has helped keep me grounded, at least as grounded as I ever get.

I am just SO fucking grateful.
I’m so grateful for all of it.

I’m grateful for the forgiveness I’ve been given, the knowledge that I’ve gained, and the love I’ve been shown. I’m grateful for friends who are patient with and kind to me. I’m grateful for the soulmates who have shared their lives with me. I’m grateful for incredible, annoying, smelly, difficult, and otherwise expensive pets who have graced me with their lives into mine. 

So, to everything and everyone who has impacted my life, both good and bad: