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Just over six years ago, I wrote a piece on depression. A little digression before I go on, SIX years. Time really is a wonder. Another wonder, this is post number 1600. SIXTEEN HUNDRED. I didn’t have an inkling back when I started what this would become or how long I’d be at it. In all truth, I still don’t. Maybe that I write and quote and photograph the truth. At least what is true to me. It’s the best I can do, and I do it. Again and again, with great JOY! Yes, indeed.

And so that bit on depression. In that post, I mentioned a genetic mutation that predisposes me for melancholy. I intended to write about it sooner, but, well, you know how life has other ideas. So did I, apparently.

Anyhoo, after learning of my depression and digestive woes, my Portland naturopath recommended that I test for MTHFR. I came back as heterozygous (one copy) for the C677T variant. There is a lot to read about it out on the interwebs, and I did until my eyes went googly. The very basic gist is my liver, on its very best day, only works at 70%. On the surface, it doesn’t sound too bad, 70% is average. In most of life, average is not bad! It’s only when you note how much is tied up in that missing 30% that things get thorny. Detoxification. Digestion. Cognition. Mood.

It also explained a lot about why my tummy was such a trickster. Why I could take a supplement in the morning and vomit it up WHOLE, along with everything else I’d eaten that day, right before bed. My everlasting depression. And much further down the line, why it was very likely that my bi-polar grandmother ended up suffering from dementia (MTHFR elevates homocysteine, which promotes brain atrophy), as the mutation is passed along like fruitcake. Pun intended.

With the naturopath’s limited knowledge, I started taking methylfolate, the cornerstone of the whole mutation. Because I don’t properly process folate. It’s got to be done for me. And so I started my dose. My mood soared! I was elated. I am healed! Then I utterly tanked, physically and emotionally, because my body could not handle the sudden cascade of detoxification. Back to square one.

So I read more on my own. I learned to start the methlylfolate incrementally. One supplement a week. Then twice a week if it feels right. Then three times. So very slowly. I let my body adjust until I could handle it daily. It was a long time before I felt okay, but I still had problems. An understatement, if ever there was.

I did more research and found the MTHFR protocol created by Dr. Ben Lynch and tinkered with it on my own. A little of this and a little of that. More. Then none. I went dairy and gluten-free for a year. Pretty good, but hard to sustain. Wheat is delicious! And I LOOOOVE cheese. I went vegan for a year and never felt worse. Lectins! Phytic acid! Abdominal pain. Brain fog. More tinkering.

At this point, I am ten years into this game and learned most everything I know on my own. I eat clean meats (grass fed and organic), a whole host of low lectin vegetables (everything peeled and seeded when possible, beans cooked in the instant pot), wee bits of fruits, nuts, and grains. My tummy thanks me.

That’s not all. I take a whole host of supplements, too. I rotate through pro-biotics and magnesium, for digestion, mood elevation, & muscle function. I take a co-enzyme B vitamin supplement, not just methylfolate, to help keep homocysteine levels down and mood up. N-Acetyl Cysteine helps keep my liver clean. DHEA a couple times a week keeps my adrenals and mood up. Vitamin D3 & K2 – sunshine in a bottle. Glutathione – helps my liver and gallbladder process fats (why I used to vomit all the time – the tiniest bit of fat kept me from digesting, no fun at all). Gallbladder Nutrients powder (from Seeking Health) with every meal – to further help my digestion.

It’s a lot, but it keeps me feeling good and as sane as I’m going to be. I take no prescription drugs and no pain killers. I really have never felt as well as I do now. My depression is ever present, but quietly so. I’m not struggling to keep suicidal thoughts at bay – I used to thing about dying ALL THE TIME. I can digest food! I no longer worry every time I eat if I’m going to be able to keep it down.

It’s rather odd, when I think about the shit show that has been my life – abuse, mental illness, endometriosis, migraines, and digestive woes – but I have always felt lucky. I guess I was born with the gift of truly seeing – every great privilege, every joy: the beauty of starlight, kindness, the scent of flowers and pine, music, dogs and cats and birds, the love of the hubster. Especially that.

Sangre de Christo Range
Wahatoyas
Remains of St. Aloysius Church – Raton Pass
Southbound with Fisher’s Peak in the distance

As my 49th year saunters ever closer, and mere days after Greg and I celebrated a wild and wonderful 29th (!) year since our first date, much thought has been bubbling. On who I am, this western place that is home, and our couplehood.

I feel more and more centered, in body and spirit, than ever. More honest, stringent, and strident. My intolerance weeding more and more people from my life. I am shucking those who are irresponsible and unkind, who place demands of adults on children too young for the burden, those blinded by an embittered victimhood and confusing love with control (If you loved me you would…). My desire for balanced relationships nudged ever more to the fore.

I have no social media link: no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter. I am here on this old fashioned blog form, and likely mostly alone. I honestly have no idea. It brings the hubster and I great joy to read and reminisce, and that is the best I could ask for, really and truly.

Before quitting Facebook last summer, I experienced a general sense of unease. Some of it was my use as a pawn in the Zuckerberg machine, and some political, too, but I also had this impression of being among people speaking a language I did not know. Groundless. It’s strange, too, because, I’d been in that space for nearly a decade and had enjoyed it enormously at times.

Then the shift came, when I realized that relationships have a season in life. Change and death are as natural as growth, without an ounce of malice or regret. Time and distance separated me from individuals I’d known or never truly connected with in the first place. Yet this world opened up to me, and I sent and accepted requests for friendships that were out of season. There were exceptions, of course, but relatively few, and I have kept in contact with the majority of those people. It feels right.

The handsomest
Bridge Street – Las Vegas
It ain’t new and it ain’t Mexico
New Mexico is the 47th state, admitted to the Union on January 6, 1912
Castaneda Hotel, including a dazzler of a mural unearthed during refurbishment.

Tammy Wynot :: Sheilita Buffet :: Iona Trailer :: Anita Mojito

Hermit’s Peak

And to this place – Southern Colorado and New Mexico, where my heart shall be forever rooted. My eyes gaze upon it, joy-filled and centered. The land of ancestors and new dreams. The scent of sage and pine. And that big, blue sky.

I suppose it is no surprise that we celebrated our 29th year in this very space, first to Las Vegas, of course. But then, forging a new path, on our way to Santa Fe, between Mora and Espanola, part of which is the famous High Road to Taos.

The above constitutes the highlights from Las Vegas to Mora. The St. Vrain Mill, which would be lovely restored, and our hike above the Fish Hatchery, with glorious views of the entire Mora Valley. Though the photo of Juniper and I doesn’t show it, the wind was a wild whipping force, and frigid, too.

Mora, and the majority of the High Road, for that matter, is known for wool and world famous weaving, with some families the seventh or eighth generation practicing the craft. We did not miss out, stopping at the Mora Valley Spinning Mill. They have locally processed yarn and weavings and every manner of art and craft, staffed by kind and efficient staff. It’s worth the trip!

The Cleveland Roller Mill – closed for the season, but looking good.

As is the beauty of grace, at the moment our hunger verged on unbearable, we rounded the bend in Penasco, the sweet murals and Sugar Nymphs Bistro awaiting. The wood stove was roaring, the coffee was hot, and the food as delicious and enchanting as New Mexico itself.

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Letting Go

My cousin Alli holding her dad’s hand. After he lost consciousness, three days before he died. Their last photo together, of a sort.

I stayed with my aunt last week, joyfully helping, with medicine and cooking and comfort and company. I spoon fed and soothed the night terrors of a man who once terrified child me with his mad driving of an impossibly cool Fastback Mustang. How strange the tides of time.

I brought enough books and magazines and craft supplies for ages of reading and fiddling and doing. We made cute felted wool pixie dolls (no photo, drat). We watched hour after hour of Brad’s cool car shows and my aunt’s favorite dramas. We talked.

Of the past – the sweetest memories of me watching my aunt carefully applying makeup while listening to Bread on the hi-fi. How she still has the album in her collection. Of the first time she made Ro-Tel dip and I, as a cheese loving maniac, devoured it and have since eaten just about every spicy melted cheese I can get my hands on. Her, too. We enjoyed this while I was there. It was gone lickety-split quick.

Of the future and letting go. The first time she’d be on her own, after forty-six (!) years of marriage. The hush of a home occupied by one. A life entirely of her choosing, what to do, how to be. The fearful thrill of the unknown. My love for her, then and now.

In conversation with her daughters, my cousins, I was confronted with my own letting go. It was assumed that there was bitterness on my part, my lack of relationship with certain relatives was somehow eating at me. Quite the contrary, being in a relationship with my abusers was a great source of anxiety and pain.

I once read about a psychological study that involved a subject sometimes receiving food after pressing a button and other times receiving a shock. The subject basically went crazy because they never knew what they would get. That was me. When I interacted with my tormentors, sometimes they’d be friendly, shower me with kindness, gifts even. The next time, they’d be cruel, insult me, or blame me for something entirely out of my control. Oh, the wild anxiety, fretfully anticipating what each interaction would bring. Nausea. Headaches. Physical pain.

When I finally ceased all contact, it melted away. I found myself happier and peaceful, able to sleep through the night, at ease in my own skin. The only source of anxiety or bitterness I have felt since is at the hands of the so-called “helpful” who think my lack of interaction is somehow sad or harmful or foolish or whatever. That my life is their business and I ought to behave differently.

Sad is when I disregard my own sanity and safety to forge a relationship for the benefit of others. I’m glad I know better now.

Wednesday evening, as we were getting ready for bed, a massive thunderstorm rumbled above. Fat rain drops smacked the metal roof, while lightning made a chaotic embroidery of the sky. It was a marvel, and the hubster and I darted from window to window and stood on the porch to admire it all. Flash back twenty-two years, to our first apartment on 11th and Lafayette in Denver, and that same storm would have had me hyperventilating and sobbing, wondering when it would all end. Isn’t it wonderful how time and experience show us a different way of seeing?

For the whole of my life, my sister has abused me*. As a child it was sometimes with words, mostly with fists, and once with a hot curling iron. When I complained to my parents about it, they would ask what I’d done to provoke her. Though I hated this response, for a long time it seemed legitimate, while also infusing me with a ridiculous sense of power. If I did something someone didn’t like, that person would have absolutely no control over their hands or words, and I should actually expect an onslaught of deserved abuse.

So when my mother-in-law started her bullying before Greg and I were even married, I went right along because I’d had such formidable training. Surely, I’d done something to provoke her, too. It was always my fault. Our society told me similar stories. I remember hearing about a woman whose husband murdered her because she was a nag and drove him to do it. Or the countless men, women, and children who are beaten, raped, and worse because of small slights, wearing the wrong clothes or appearing in the wrong place.

I thank the Me Too Movement and my own enlightened thinking nearly three years ago for changing this narrative. People do not ask for violence upon their bodies and souls. To say I forced anyone to harm me is an out and out lie, because that violence lies in the abuser and not the victim. It is the abuser’s choice to utter hurtful words. It is the abuser’s choice to do do physical harm. It is not, nor has it ever been, my choice to be on the receiving end. The abuse I suffered for having my own opinion, for saying no, for watching the wrong television show, for taking a long bath. Seriously! None of that is on me. None of it.

How sad I am that it took forty-five years to come to the realization, but what brilliant new light through old windows. How free it makes me!

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*In case you are wondering, I cut off all contact with her nearly three years ago after receiving hateful messages via Facebook. Otherwise, I suspect she would still be at it. Old habits…

 

Initially, I wanted to simply share a glimpse of our Sunday. How lucky I was to get Juniper to actually pose in front of the massive hollyhock – “Come. Sit. Stay…stay. Good girl!”

To tell you how nice it was on the patio, with Greg working on his laptop at the cafe table, and me lounging and skimming books and a magazine. Our new fountain babbling, soothing and brook-like.

To rejoice at how the Japanese honeysuckle is finally starting to climb in earnest,

and note the black raspberries are actually blackberries, with heaps of them, I daresay hundreds, showing their first hint of color.

Then show you the dwarf rosebush putting on its best show

while water reflected the sky…

and more blossoms in the form of fern bush, sedum, pineapple pokers, and one gorgeous sunflower shimmered. How perfect it all was. But then something happened, or rather a series of events, and I had to get them down, too.

As you hopefully know, Greg is the tech wonder of the marriage (and to my eyes, the WORLD!), working from home, hands at the keyboard firing off messages and writing code with such speed, I often laugh and call him the fake typist – 120 words a minute! I am grateful for his vast knowledge and ability. That said, it is not without fault, and my computer fell victim.

It was mid-meeting for him, and after some grumbling and a couple of f-bombs on my part, I decided that I’d do some photo editing while I waited for his help. Well, there was a piece of new hardware he’d kindly installed because the last, after much use, had failed. Long story short, there was another problem, and a few more f-bombs, and him worrying that I’d hurt my already injured knee and thusly dashing out of his meeting to make sure I was okay. Angry that I was foiled, yet again, by technology. Pissed that he said it would work and it clearly did not. Embarrassed for cursing and not being able to fix it myself, but definitely okay. Knee on the mend!

Why do I share this? To show an unvarnished look at our life. For the most part, it is wonderful, and pretty darn perfect. We have a delightful groove, can talk about anything (yes, really!), enjoy a most excellent spirit of cooperation, and know and love each other like no other. Of course, we are not without our problems, each behaving in ways that utterly madden the other.

I suffer from waves of crazy tidiness and sloth, have depression and am occasionally suicidal, which is not the least bit fun. I threatened to leave, to New Mexico, of course, because Greg refused, for twenty-five years (!), to defend me against his mom’s bullying. We argued and suffered many a hot tear before finally working it out. She is in his life but no longer in mine. Good gracious, I cannot even begin to express the relief.

Even more important, is how each event further strengthens our marriage. Both of us seeing past patterns and more quickly moving toward solutions, being more patient and forgiving. Every day proving we can survive anything!

 

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