The Suicide


Recently a friend of mine committed suicide. He wasn’t a close friend, more of a friend-quaintance; someone who is more of an acquaintance but you run into them frequently and they’re friends with your other friends but the two of you don’t hang out. We participated in some charity photo events together.

He had attained a level of success as a photographer that I dream about. His work was published across several cities, every weekend was booked with top-dollar weddings, he had a studio of his own… In fact, the June calendar on his website shows he’s booked every weekend through the summer wedding season. He made money doing what he loved and that is most every artists dream.

He was in his 40’s. He was engaged once, but the engagement ended. I don’t know why. His current girlfriend was 20 years his junior. They didn’t live together. He regularly fostered kittens from a local shelter. He regularly posted his work on social media.He shot a wedding and posted edited photos online less than a week before he died and posted macro photos of garden flowers days before he died.

His mother died a few weeks ago. He was sad, but normal-sad. He wasn’t the sort of sad that most of us assume suicidal people might be. He wasn’t the sort of un-showered, despondent, sullen, withdrawn sort of sad. He was sad like any other person who lost a parent but didn’t commit suicide. No one saw this coming.

What is most shocking to me is that he achieved his dream. He achieved the dream of running a successful photography business where he could support himself from his art and had thousands of fans. Then he killed himself. He had family, friends, pets, thousands of fans…then he killed himself.

Letters to my Top Searches

The top searches for my blog are “My job makes me want to cry” and “My dad forgot my birthday“.

Dear everyone whose job makes them want to cry,
I really wish this weren’t the case I wish we could all have fulfilling jobs with lovely coworkers and work in offices that don’t wring every ounce of joy from our lives. Remember you are not your job. You are so much more than your job. Perhaps since our jobs are making us want to cry, we should do something we genuinely enjoy. Today, let’s do something wonderful to combat this miserable feeling and to help us remember that we are so much more than our jobs. Today I’m going to edit a photo shoot because  photography brings me joy.
❤ Rebekah

Dear everyone whose dad forgot your birthday,
That really sucks. I’m sorry that your parent – the other 50% of your genetic makeup – didn’t at the very least send you a text. That’s really messed up. I hope you had a wonderful birthday in spite of your forgetful father. His forgetting says much more about him than it does about you. I hope you celebrated your birthday with wonderful people who love and respect you; the kind of people who remember your birthday even tho they aren’t biologically related to you. Friends are the family we find along the way.
❤ Rebekah

Has My Toxic Sister Changed?

My sister, who has been rather mean to me for years now, has started writing me super nice emails. Like sappy sweet “Hey! Do you like to garden? I LOVE gardening!!!” sorts of emails. It’s weird.

It’s weird because my sister has put a lot of effort into being nasty to me for a lot of years. As a child, she routinely helped my mother abuse me physically and emotionally. My mother held me down to allow my sister to kick me in the gut in my very early teens. My sister rummaged through my things, stole from me, and read my journals. She would report details from the journals (or anything she overheard) to my mother who would punish me for made up infractions. My mother’s “punishments” typically included physical violence and always included screaming, demeaning, and insulting. My sister really enjoyed watching the punishments and would later tease me about them by mimicking my mother’s insults…”Stupid little bitch.”

As and adult, my sister excluded me from her wedding party because I was “too fat”. At the reception she sat me at a table in the back of the hall with a group of strangers. I later learned my sister told her in-laws that I’m an unemployed artist (in reality, I’m a computer programmer). Years before, when my sister attempted suicide after her boyfriend cheated on her, she told my parents she attempted suicide because of me – I had been so mean to her. Basically, she’s the sibling version of my abusive mother and I do my best to stay the hell away from her.

So, out of nowhere, I get emails asking what I’m doing with my life and how her “nephews”, Jonathan’s children, are doing. Part of me wants to tell her to shut up and go back to the level of hell from whence she came. Part of me is wondering if she’s grown up and has realized she’s been a horrible asshole. Then there’s the third part of me who wants to send her a fake “this email address has been deleted” email and avoid interacting with her completely.

If a friend were in my shoes, I would tell that friend to ask the sister why she’s suddenly making polite contact. However, in my family, everyone gossips exaggerates and starts trouble. If I ask, my sister will likely spread some ridiculous rumor to my entire extended family that I will have to hear about for the next several years. This happened during my divorce.

What would you do if you had a sibling who helped a parent abuse you as a child and that sibling wants to pretend like nothing happened while asking you questions about your life?

I’m here to create, not to compete (PS My Family Sucks)

The on coming storm
The on coming storm

We stood in the field together. She stares past my long curly hair as she twists her shoulder length hair around and around and around her finger. She glances up and down my body silently searching for weight gain. Sizing me up. I am well dressed in expensive indigo flare slacks, a retro-inspired black top with white polka dots. My makeup was flawlessly applied. She’s dressed sloppily in a pink and white strip tank top, jeans, and no makeup. She hasn’t shaved her armpits. Before I arrived I knew I would be judged so I dressed to impress. My attire will become the primary topic of conversation after I leave the dinner table.

“So, like, I’m not working now. I’m a supervisor so they just let me work when I want which is nice because having kids is SO hard. I mean, not that you would know, but it’s hard. Especially because my husband can’t pick him up from daycare so I have to get out of work early. I just decided not to work…”

Her single participant conversation trailed off in my ears as I started thinking of other things; any other thing. Anything not to get angry. Anything to keep me from saying what I really think of her for using her child as a pawn to get under my skin.

I watched Owen drive off in the golf cart with my dad. Jonathan and Luke were pointing at some purple flowers beside the house.

“Those are four o’clocks”, I shouted to Luke hoping that identifying flowers would give me an excuse to exit the conversation with my sister.

Every conversation is equally uncomfortable with my sister. For her, life is money and feeling accomplished. Currently having a child fulfills her longing for accomplishment. Comparing her son to my childlessness makes her feel like she’s accomplished more than I have in some way. She continues not to acknowledge that Luke and Owen are my children although they spend more time with me than with their mother and I provide for them as though they are my very own in every sense. Luke and Owen ARE my children and I don’t need her approval to make it so.

For me, life is not a competition.. I’m not concerned about my family’s judgement, really. I dress well and it gives them something to talk about. I’m more concerned about why my family suddenly decided to include me in an event when they typically exclude me. In the past, I was upset by their exclusion. Now, however, I prefer to be excluded. You don’t get tangled in the web of constant drama when you’re excluded.

I keep a close eye on Luke, Owen, and Jonathan the entire trip because I feel like I’ve been invited to be mocked. This family gathering doesn’t give me a friendly vibe. Instead if feels like I’m the geeky 6th grader invited to the 8th grade cheer leaders lunch table for the sheer purpose of being ridiculed.

My sister loudly conducts a conversation about my mother’s heart attack with my father’s extended family and my suspicions are confirmed. I knew nothing about Mother’s heart attack or that Mother had quit her job. From that point forward, my sister repeatedly tried to shame me in front of the extended family over my relationship with Mother.

Just as I suspected…

The Drama King and the Tampon Aisle

Luke is my husband’s almost 12yr old son who is extremely dramatic about most things most of the time. It’s just his personality. Everything is a big deal to Luke even things that shouldn’t be a big deal…to anyone. EVER.

Luke and Oliver (9) were having a naughty day Saturday. Perhaps they’ve been spending too much time with one another. I don’t know. They just couldn’t stop picking fights with one another Saturday while we were out shopping for our new house. Jonathan broke up fights. I broke up fights. We separated them. We made them hold the cart. I even held Oliver’s hand at one point in Target. Nothing we did seemed to calm their urge to pick fights.

So we’re in Target walking from the dog food section to the paper towels section. Oliver spits on Luke. Luke starts yelling and whining and dramatizing the number of pathogens in Oliver’s saliva. Jonathan pulls Luke aside by the ear and Luke starts whining how he wasn’t doing anything…which he was…he was arguing with Jonathan about what he was doing while throwing a tantrum about his brother’s spit. Jonathan has words with Luke then Luke, in typical drama king form, begins to tear up.

Oliver, blissfully unaware that he is next on Jonathan’s poop list, laughs because Luke got in trouble for freaking out about Oliver’s spit.  This sends Luke completely over the edge and he runs down nearest aisle in full blown sobs. The nearest aisle happened to be the tampon aisle. So there’s Luke, 12yrs old,  angry and crying in the tampon aisle, bottles of douche and Midol at eye level… I just couldn’t stop laughing.

Parenting is awesome.

Is This the End of Our Friendship?

Books of Shawn's writings.
Books of Shawn’s writings.

Shawn (formerly known as LongDistance) was the man I dated before Jonathan. The romantic relationship didn’t work out between Shawn and I. For one, I wasn’t ready to quit my job. sell my house, and move to the city.  Then, after about a year of dating, I had a horrible debilitating arthritis flare. The type of flare that lasts for months. The type of flare that feels disabling and unending. I couldn’t travel to see Shawn because of the excruciating back pain. Shawn needed lots of emotional support through his anxiety and depression and I couldn’t offer that to him because I was suffering from pain induced depression myself.

I decided to break up with Shawn because I couldn’t give him what he needed. He was completely heart broken. He began failing out of college, sleeping all day, missing work…Eventually, at my encouragement, he saw a psychiatrist and started taking meds that helped with his anxiety. Things I just couldn’t do for him.

While we were together, the nature of our relationship was never clear. I never knew if it was temporary or permanent. I didn’t know if we would live together or have children. Shawn always said he didn’t want children which worried me. Shawn didn’t want to move back to my city because it was too small for him. There was no clear direction and that was stressful for me.  Shawn was, however, a great creative force. He is the type of person you can talk to without fear of judgement. He was always open and honest with me…always caring and understanding. He encouraged me to pursue photography and art.

Since Shawn found out about my elopement, he has hardly spoken to me. He said congrats and that was all. Before that, even while I was dating Jonathan, we spoke regularly about our creative endeavors. I miss my friendship with Shawn. In spite of our awkward romantic relationship, we had a great friendship and it hurts to think our friendship might be over.

The radiator in Shawn's bedroom which was a constant source of noise, but an interesting photographic subject.
The radiator in Shawn’s bedroom which was a constant source of noise, but an interesting photographic subject.

My dad forgot my birthday

My dad forgot my birthday. This is the sort of thing that normal people would feel upset about, but I feel nothing really. I expected him to forget.

My mother does not forget my birthday. She just rarely wishes me a happy birthday because she wants me to believe that she has forgotten. She does so intentionally to hurt me. Everything is a game to my mother. She must always inflict more pain on a given person than she believes that person has inflicted upon her. In her mind, every accidental meanness is completely intentional.  I know my mother remembers my birthday. Sometimes her boyfriend calls me on my birthday to wish me well and he has a terrible memory. Obviously she mentioned my birthday -or lamented my existence as she often does- to her boyfriend.

On the other hand my dad just doesn’t care. He’s not a forgetful man. My dad pays his bills on time, remembers the birthdays of my sister, brother, their children, my grandmother, aunts, and uncles. My dad remembers his parent’s wedding anniversary, that the flowers were white lilies, and what year my grandmother lost her hearing in one ear. He just doesn’t care enough to remember my birthday.

What can I expect of a man who wanted a son so he taught me son things until he had a son then dropped me like a hot potato. A man who taught me how to cook until my sister was old enough to learn to cook then excluded me from the kitchen. When he and my mother were getting divorced, my mother threw my sister and I out of the house. He offered my sister a place to stay, but not me. While he and my sister slept in separate rooms with separate beds and blankets, I slept on the couch in my grandmother’s junk room. I had to climb over mounds of black plastic trash bags stuffed with clothes and cloth to get to the couch. They didn’t even clear a space. Most of the time, I slept in the front seat of my truck or stayed with a friend’s parents. It was painfully obvious I wasn’t welcome there.

So, you see,  it’s really no surprise he forgot my birthday. I expected him to forget. I’m not the type of thing he tends to remember.

Divorce Shaming, Slut Shaming, and Fat Shaming. Oh My!

“I can’t believe she remarried already. I mean, she just got divorced!”

“What’s going to happen with this one when she decides she wants to start sleeping around again.”

“I can’t believe she’s let herself go like that. She’s so fat now! How did a guy like [Jonathan] decide to marry such a cow.”

Divorce shaming. Slut shaming. Fat shaming.

Yes, people have said these things about me since the wedding. I typically roll my eyes as so much is second hand gossip. I reply to the rest with sarcastic commentary.

Hearing insults like this used to upset me. I’d wonder what I could have done to bring the negative remarks upon myself. Surely I must have done something to deserve those sentences; something to make the statement true. I’d torture myself with a diet – and by “diet” I mean a starvation diet because I was already restricting calories. Sometimes I’d cry. I’d repeat the insult over and over and over to myself because the only way to every stop being horrible was to remind myself how horrible I really was.

Today, I roll my eyes and reply with sarcasm although I’m “fatter” than ever. A lot has changed in the past 5yrs.

I never chose to get divorced. My exhusband cheated on me and left me for someone else. I never chose to sleep around, but I chose not to pursue bad relationships even if that meant breaking up. I never chose to be fat. I don’t sit in a closet eating potato chips – I got an autoimmune disease, took meds, and gained weight. I did chose to stop torturing myself with the unenlightened opinions of douche bags because I realized that their insults say more about who they are as a person than who I have ever been.