Meniere

When I was 14, I started to lose my balance a lot. I’d had a history of ear and dizziness problems, but falling was new. At first, we thought maybe it was a growth spurt – you know, tripping over my ever growing feet.

But one day, I fell and nearly broke a bone. Yikes! So, I ended up with a referral to the UCLA Research Hospital, where I met with a specialist who ultimately diagnosed me with meniere disease (the testing for that, by the way, is truly a crappy experience).

I was (and maybe still am?) one of the youngest people to receive the diagnosis because it’s an extremely technical diagnosis to make, and usually doesn’t produce symptoms until people have reached their twenties. In fact, about 1.8% of people who think they have meniere disease are self or misdiagnosed. Only .02% of the population has it.

It’s not something I feel is a true struggle (currently), although it can be annoying. Meniere Disease is an inner ear disorder that causes episodes of vertigo (sometimes very severe, followed by nausea and vomiting) as well as fluctuating hearing loss, with progressive and permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, and fullness in the ear.

It usually only affects one ear. In my case, it’s the left ear. But, within the next 15 years it’s expected to eventually spread to my right ear.

It’s one of those “silent” afflictions that plagues roughly 615,000 people in the US. But when it strikes, it’s brutal. I’m lucky in that I tend to experience it “constantly” in that I’m basically always slightly dizzy and off balance. I rarely get a large episode that keeps me down for a whole day. In fact, that has only happened to me twice in 14 years. For others, it’s so severe they collect disability.

I’m talking about this because I think it’s important to share experiences. It’s important to remember that we all have “our thing” we are dealing with, whether it be on a daily basis or not. It’s important to remember that some illnesses are invisible, and to be kind to people because we never know what is going on under their otherwise healthy looking skin-surface.

Discomfort

Kumashiro’s theory of discomfort suggests that as students [of life, at school, and as humans in general] we are unable to see true growth in our lives without struggle – without wading through discomfort.

It makes sense. When I heard this theory in college, I initially rolled my eyes. Why would I need to suffer to grow? A plant doesn’t suffer in the ground before it thrives. It has to be nurtured and can’t be exposed to too many harsh elements.

But then I remembered that people aren’t plants. And that, yes, while some circumstances may  cause us to wither away – our roots go much deeper and we are much more capable of coming back from trauma than a stupid cucumber plant. Or whatever plant you were imagining.

No one learns how to do anything perfectly the first time. We learn constantly from failure, and failure is uncomfortable. Failure doesn’t have to be a swear word or something to be ashamed of. We should encourage the people we love to venture into the unknown, to take the leap, to not cower. We should want those around us to have opportunities for growth, even if those opportunities come in obscurely wrapped packages.

But most importantly, we should be there for each other, seeing each other through to the other side of our learning experiences, whatever they may be.

When Narcissists Strike

So here’s where I’ve been stuck. I got divorced like 3.5 years ago and at first it was as amicable as a divorce can be without staying friends and then something happened, and I’m not sure what, but it wasn’t something I did or said. One day we were able to get along with our lives, and the next day I got a scathing email from him out of nowhere about how he never loved me, how I was a manipulator, and how he never wanted to talk to me again (which wasn’t a problem, since we hadn’t spoken in like a year at that point anyway). So, very much out of left field.

Some months later, I wrote a blog post about my experiences in an emotionally abusive relationship with a narcissist. It’s hard. When your whole life revolves around someone whose whole life also revolves around their self, it’s hard. When you find yourself living in a world of double standards, it’s hard. When you find yourself at an impasse with that person about decisions pertaining to your body and your health, it’s hard. When you find yourself cutting pieces away to avoid conflict and be agreeable, it’s hard. Not having access to your bank account? Not only hard but also kind of scary. It’s all hard. It was always hard, and I shared that in an extremely candid way.

And I was and am allowed to do that. It was my experience and I am allowed to share those things.

Anyway, flash forward like 2.5 years where I’m completely happy in life, in my relationship, with my career. He internet stalked me and delved through 2 years of blog history on a blog he didn’t know existed (because I started it after we stopped talking, like…way after). He finds that post – the only post about him – and freaks out. When I ignored the freak out session and protected myself by moving the blog to this URL, he sent a mass email to my family with some truths but mostly warped versions of truths or flat out fabrications which was sad because it just proved he was exactly the person I had hoped he’d avoid becoming. You know the saying: when narcissists can no longer control you they try and control other people’s perception of you.

That, of course, didn’t work because my friends and family know me and we have always been a pretty chatty and transparent family.

But in thinking about these things, I realized this was all a big fit in an effort to get me to somehow lash out or contact him and ask his forgiveness for I don’t know what. No one in my family (as far as I know) ever replied, and I certainly didn’t. There wasn’t a point. He was lashing out about something I shared years ago and had moved beyond. There has never been any reason for me to need to talk to him ever again. About anything.

Why he was cyber stalking me, I’m not sure. The assumption is he is so unhappy in his own life he needed to see how mine was going. Too bad it’s pretty fucking amazing.

Do I have moments of insecurity? Absolutely. Do I have bad days? Of course. But I can’t remember the last time I felt out right bad about my body, my health – or the last time I cried because of something my partner said or did.

So here’s the thing. I haven’t been able to write and blog and share properly since then (not like anyone actually reads this though, we all know that) and that’s because in some ways I feel obligated to respond to his behavior.

But I’m not going to. This is the only blog you’ll ever see about it. Why? Because I moved on the day we filed the divorce papers. Because I was over it way before the first time he told me never to talk to him again (lol) and was beyond “healed” or whatever word you want to use when he started another tirade of emotional abuse aimed not only at me but my whole family.

Healthy people who have grown up and moved on don’t do things like that. Good people don’t tell secrets of and lies about people they once cared about, no matter how hurt they feel.

So there. That’s that. I’m glad that’s not my life anymore, and if it’s yours, please do whatever you can to get out of it. It gets better. So much better.

Obsolete.

So, it is obvious that I failed Poetry Month by shorting it by like 7 poems. Tragic. However, I think it’s a wake up call for me to spend more time (where and when I can) throughout the year, writing poetry and drafts and whatever to have it ready to share when April comes around.

It’s not like I don’t have inspiration. It’s just that I don’t like going to those places. They aren’t fun places to revisit. They are corpses I’d prefer to leave decomposing in the ground, until they turn into something new, beautiful, and unrecognizable. Fertilizer for something better.

Not all of those moments are fertilizer yet. And some of them seem pointless to revisit. I don’t want to wage word-wars with useless people who may stumble across my blog after cyberstalking me for hours and days on end who end up sending mass emails to my family about blog posts no one reads because I refused to retract the truth. (Yeah, that’s a story for another day).

Anyway, that is where I’m at. Stuck between wanting to write everything, or nothing at all, because as most people know, there’s not really an in-between.