(Just Like) Starting Over was a number one hit this time of year in 1980, it was the lead single off the new Double Fantasy album and John Lennon had just been shot. I loved the song while I mourned his death. It is a song I associate with this time of year, like “Favorite Things,” not actually a Christmas song but I still always put it in my December playlist. I have started over again, and again, and again.
In 1980, every time I sang along with my AM radio, I truly felt that I was getting my second chance in a life that had up to then been pretty traumatic. I fit in my skin and I felt loved, and safe and useful.
I was honor graduate and a recent NCO and I was madly in love and recently married. I had reconnected with my family of birth, felt loved and supported by my foster family the Urbanawiz, and had just learned I was pregnant.
Life couldn’t have been better.
Something happened the following spring that changed everything. What happened is not the point of the blog, but in that moment the old me ended and I believed myself worthless and for the next year or so behaved accordingly, as my life, except my work and my writing which suffered but survived, fell apart and away from around me.
But I started over.
Christmas of 1983 was spent with Bill’s parents, I had two amazing baby boys, a husband who I knew loved me, even if he had a bad temper and a tendency to wander into other women’s arms. My writing was still earning me a bit of money and acknowledgement, my family of birth and I were actually pretty close for a change, Connie and Ed, my foster parents, were being the parents I wished I had, my skin might not fit but I felt loved and useful and almost safe.
The following spring I was alone with another child on the way, no idea how to survive the crushing emotional and financial burden of truly single parenthood, but I tried, I truly tried to hold it all together as my life, except my writing and my work at the VA which suffered but survived, fell apart and away from around me.
Then I started over.
December 14 of 1988 my children were finally home after a year long separation from me (the persons bringing the suit on my fitness lived out of state, so the boys were in state custody for their protection) It was a bloody and vicious court battle (his side, I had no lawyer) in which every mistake from my past was dragged up and thrown at me on the stand and even I became convinced that I wasn’t the best thing for them after all. But mostly I loved them and the judge said the only way they could be together for Christmas was if one of us stopped fighting. So I said if surrendering my rights would get them a good, safe home with the Bartleman’s I would stop fighting and sign. Which I did.
I said Good-bye, tickets were bought, and the day they were to fly out, the Guardian Ad Litem got a phone call from a very drunk and angry man (who used unapproved by court language) to tell her that it wasn’t a convenient day for them to arrive. I had exactly 7 days to get together a household that could pass court inspection, but I did, and the boys came home for good. I felt grateful and so full of love and very, very scared.
That spring I was in a full time position as Director of Volunteers at Catholic Community Services and life was really, really good. I was still frequently scared and overwhelmed but I was doing this thing called life and all my sons were healthy and growing and happy.
I was truly starting over, this would be the winning chapter of my life.
Except my life story is more like a GOT novel than my preferred Tolkien or L’Engle or even Lewis novel.
So many more restarts in my life I could make this the longest blog in history, because as often as I fall or get knocked down, there is again “starting over.”
A year ago today, on my way to someone’s house to drop off some organic produce, I was rear-ended by a possibly drunk hit-and-run driver, which began my toughest year yet. January 1 in the same emergency room in which I had been treated I watched a code blue run on a little angel, after 3 fruitless but heroic hours, first her parents and then I held her lifeless body as my heart broke along with all the others who loved her.
Since that opening of the year, I have moved twice, been first on the scene in two rather gruesome crashes and provided first aid, witnessed a violent suicide, and helped a man in the road who had been assaulted until the cops and ambulance arrived. These opportunities to be a good samaritan cummulatively have made my PTSD the worst it has been since 1981. And add in that I have had a return of my rather big share of physical medical issues.
As of today, my GFR is borderline and my anion gap is too low, my blood pressure is through the roof and I don’t know yet if the drugs that may save my life may inadvertantly take it.
Nothing makes it harder to enjoy your own excess and good health than another’s poverty and suffering so I try to keep a low profile socially.
My sisters and I are in touch and we love each other which is good. My sons remember that I exist off and on when I remind them, although they are usually too busy to help or socialize unless its an actual holiday, even than its my DIL that invites and only at the last minute. But they are my kids, so I still love them to the moon and back. And i am very proud of how their lives are unfolding. They may not think much of me, and maybe I deserve that, but I think I have pretty awesome kids. So family this year is good. I love my family to the moon and back, twice
My writing except for some poems in October and a half finished novel in November are a complete no go.
However I love my job, I am useful there and my inherent silliness is a bonus. This week I am even going to try 40 hours of work as its my second week of treatment break, and they really need me.
Also this year has reaffirmed that I have the best friends in the universe, this universe or any of the other Geek universes I regularly visit. In no particular order – Sara, Laurie, Cathy, Amie, Pat, Regina, Jen, the Videans, Angela and Amie (and others I am probably forgetting) have literally and figuratively saved my life and its general accoutrements this year. I love you guys to Gallifrey and back.
Gil, and Saja, and Bam, and Tam get special notice for always making me welcome, inviting me to visist if its been more than a few days without seeing me, and most importantly of all is they way you are so willing to accept the time and efforts I can share. I cannot think of a more special title than Nanna Jo, and you make such an effort to include me, even this year when I know how much easier it would have been to do otherwise. Love you guys to the moon and back by train, twice!
And yes, I have another scan Monday morning, this time to look at my bones and back. (Playing my own medical game of “Where in my body is Cancer San Diego?”) But my tongue is flat, my spirits good, and every morning I wake up and see the face of someone I love its just like