Friday, 23 December 2016



Merry Christmas to all.

Things I'm thankful for today.

A cat sitting on my lap while I type.
A dog in the chair beside me.
A lovely man who hugs me daily and knows me deeply.
Friends to love and who love me.
Children to love and a granddaughter who reminds me of how amazing the world is.
My middle daughter is home for Christmas and Miss Katie is coming Christmas day.
Love and friendship at work, my work family.
A warm home.
Food in the fridge.
Time to cook and decorate cookies.
I don't mind that I cry so much anymore.  I'm crying as I type this, thankful for the love around me.
Blog friends whom I've never met but still consider my friends.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, 15 December 2016



I got this message from my son just over a month ago.  He wanted me to lend him money and I said no.  And then I called him on his lies.  He didn't like that obviously. 

He broke my heart, again.  He's broken my heart more times than I care to remember.  I love him but I don't trust him and I don't believe him.  I want to believe what he tells me because he's my son and I love him, but I also want to believe him because it's easier than seeing him for what he really is.  He's a manipulative, self centered, immature, angry, hurt man. 

I was never a perfect mother.  I was a deeply depressed mother who chose to get angry instead of sad.  If I had been sad all his life, I would have lay in my bed all day long, crying.  Instead I got angry and stayed angry.  Angry is bigger and more energetic than sadness.  Anger made me get up out of bed and cook meals and do the laundry and drive my kids to school.  Anger made me prickly and unpredictable but it got the job done. 

It wasn't until I was sweeping up the house that my kids grew up in, spitting angry at my soon to be ex-husband,  that I realized I wasn't really angry.  I was sad.  Sad that my family had been torn apart by me.  Sad that things would never be the same.  Sad that my ex-husband and I could not be what each other needed.  Sad that I had been angry for so long.

My son is thirty-two years old.  I need to stop feeling responsible for all of us flaws.  He's an adult.  His childhood wasn't perfect.  Neither was mine.  "Grow up already.  Quit blaming me for your problems.  They are of your own making."

My brain gets this.  My heart, not so much but it is getting better.   Christmas will suck and I feel terrible about that because I know I will be sad and I feel awful about that.  I've never really liked Christmas and this is pretty much the icing on the cake. 

I love my son very much but I refuse to accept his lies anymore; he's hurt and angry with me as a result.  There is a line from a book I read not that long ago, "The Humans" by Matt Haig.  The line is "I hurt and so I hurt."  I try to remember that.


Friday, 9 December 2016


A patient came into today with his wife and son.  This patient had lymphoma and we have treated him for the past two years.  Today was his last treatment with us and the anniversary of his diagnosis.  His wife couldn't stop smiling. 

I'm thankful for that. 

It's been a difficult year.  We have worked for the majority of the year short staffed.  My boss believes that all we do is start IVs.  He knows we do a few other things but my main job is to start IVs and help radiologists insert central lines. 

Except that's not my main job.  My main job is to care for my patients.  That means I listen to my patients.  I look at them as they stand up and as they walk down the hallway.  I check to see if they're tired, if they're in pain, if they're better or worse than when last I saw them.  Is there a family member with them, when they always used to come by themselves?  Are they leaning on a cane?  Being pushed in a wheelchair?  Are they having pain?  Is their breathing okay?  Do they have a fever?  Do they need to lay down? 

I need to understand at least a little about their type of cancer and there are as many different kinds of cancer as there are different types of cells in the human body.  I need to know that breast cancer spreads to the bones and lungs and liver and brain.  I need to know that small cell lung cancer spreads to the brain.  I need to know that Burkitt lymphoma is the fastest growing human tumor.  I need to know that ovarian cancer can cause kidney problems.  I need to know that colon cancer spreads to the liver and that rectal cancer spreads to the lungs. 

Our patients come back to us over and over again.  We see them get better and we see them get worse.  They trust us.  They rely on us to answer their questions and to hold space for them.  So when a patient starts crying because her girlfriend and lover of twenty-five years was found dead of a heart attack and it was supposed to be my patient that died first, I sit and listen.  When a terrified six year old needs an IV started, I tell her a story about my own little girl, Miss Katie, who doesn't like needles either.  And when a patient tells me they won't be coming back because the doctor has told them this is the end I hug them and I cry. 

Biopsy patient's end up with chest tubes inserted because their lungs have deflated.  Transfer patients from out of town can be too sick to send back.  Patient's can have so much pain they can't move.  There are fevers and chests filled with fluid and obstructed bowels and leptomeningeal disease.  There is pain and fear and fatigue. 

And we don't just care for our patients, we care for their families as well.  Because often times it's harder to watch someone you love suffer than to suffer yourself. 

So when I hear my manager say they don't want to cancel any lines just because we're short staffed, it hurts because I know I will have less to give to my patients.  What I want, what I need is for someone to care about me so that I can care for my patients. 



Sunday, 4 December 2016






Katie had a rough morning.  She banged up her face pretty good.  I'm not sure what happened.  I've emailed her team leader because the staff who was explaining to me what happened has a very heavy accent and to be honest I'm not sure what he said.  I know Katie hurts herself.  She scratched her roommate while her roommate was still in bed this morning.  I know Katie feels a lot of remorse when she hurts people and I know that she will hurt herself when she's upset.

What I don't know is how to stop this.  It's not getting better, it just keep getting worse.  I know part of it is communication, or lack of it.  Part of it is her staff not knowing sign language.  Part of it is Katie not knowing how to express what she feels.  Her feelings usually come out in actions.  Part of it is anxiety.  Part of it is a fucking cape and wheelchair to protect the people around her.  Part of it is a brain that can't cope and is stuck in permanent fight or flight mode. 

I don't know how to help her and it breaks my heart.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

I lost my post.  Maybe the universe is telling me something.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


It's been snowing here.  Grey, heavy laden skies with no sun and yet it is beautiful.  The trees have been stripped of their leaves and stand naked, bare limbs painted with hoar frost.

I still struggle with change, believing that it is forever and not just a season.  I forget that life is a circle, that patterns repeat.  That I have no control.  That I need to accept. 

I wonder if trees struggle with acceptance.  Do they ever wish to pull up their roots?  Do they long to be free?  Or do they know that where they are is the best place for them? 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Sunday, 6 November 2016


This is how I feel so often;  a small boat, which is fine as long as the seas are calm but there are always storms.  There are many days when I struggle to just stay afloat.  I'm not depressed now but it always lurks there, in the background, ready to strike when I'm at my most vulnerable.

External stress, lack of control in particular, rocks my boat.  Work has been short staffed again.  Last Monday, my first line patient of the day was a woman two years older than me with metastatic colon cancer.  I asked her if her chemo had started and she said no, there was no more chemo.  She was here for MAID.  I had no idea what that was so I asked her.  It's an acronym for medical assistance in dying.  My eyes teared up and I started crying. 

Her body was riddled with cancer.  She was in constant pain and it was only going to get worse.  She opted to end her life when the time was right for her, not when the cancer had destroyed her.  I apologized to her for crying and we were able to talk.  She had terrible veins.  The doctor and she decided to put in a central line to ensure there were no problems on the day of her death. 

I fully support a person's right to choose their time of death and to be honest I think that when people are given back that control, it can allow them to live more fully until they do decide to die.  My patient died on Friday, with her friends and family beside her.  She was at peace with her decision and it was not an easy decision to make she told me.  She died at home, her husband beside her.  A good death.  It's what we all hope for.

When we don't have enough people at work it's difficult to spend time with the patients who need it but I refuse to rush some things.  It is a disservice to my patients but it takes it's toll on me.  This past week I decided to stop rushing.  Coworkers, techs, docs, managers, they'll all have to wait because the work I do is important and I'm not going to short change my patients.  They deserve better.

And this decision helped me to right my boat.  The water calmed itself.  The storm was self induced.  I just need to remember this.  I can calm myself.  I can slow down.  I can make a difference in the world one person at a time and that's important. 

Friday, 4 November 2016


I have a thing for heart shaped rocks. 

Things I'm thankful for today.

Katie hasn't hurt herself in the last week.
Homemade baked potato soup for supper.
A glass of wine.
Hugs from the big guy.
Some lovely coworkers.
Humor in all it's many forms.
I made it through the week.
I have decided to stop pushing myself so hard at work.  So far I've managed two days and I feel better.  Still tired but far less PVCs. 
I wasn't bitchy at work for the past two days.
I hate being bitchy, I feel bad afterwards.
Beautiful warm, sunny days.  Hard to believe it's November.
This video by the Dalai Lama which helped me understand true forgiveness.


What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, 29 October 2016


My ticker is giving me a hard time.  It's unhappy with how I've lived my life and it's now protesting by throwing out PVCs on a regular basis.  These PVCs are usually benign but they leave me feeling light headed and short of breath.  The most common cause is stress. 

I live a life filled with stress and anxiety.  If there isn't something to worry about, I find something.  I feel bad about the past and worry endlessly about the future, all the while missing out on right now.  My heart is telling me it's time to change, to let go of my worry but I don't know how to;  it's so deeply ingrained in my character. 

I guess I need to find a way.

Sunday, 23 October 2016


I took this photo at a place called Whale Cove. 

I've been struggling with my depression again.  It's a sneaky bugger which I would quite happily bury in a very deep hole if only I could.  I feel better now.  The sun came out.  The snow melted.  I worked in the garden.  I bought a couch.  I saw my granddaughter.  Read a good book.  Hugged friends.  Had very good sex.  Not sure what did it, all of it, none of it.  Who knows.  But I feel better.

My son is hiding from me so I'm guessing he's doing things he's ashamed of again.  I'm hoping it's not dealing drugs.  He has a new girlfriend.  She has three small children and I hope for their sake that he's not dealing drugs.  Children need better than that.  That's probably most of what was dragging me down. 

I didn't know that I would still worry as much even after my children were grown.  I thought it would be easier.  It's not.

A friend of mine doesn't know how I do my job.  I work with cancer patients all day, some young, some old.  A friend of ours lost his wife to cancer this past summer and we went to her funeral.  The church was packed.  As I looked around at all the people there whose lives she had touched, I realized that every single patient that comes through our doors has that many people in their life.  It was an overwhelming thought.

A couple of weeks ago I had a young woman with a five month old baby, newly diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was asking her questions for the CT screening form and she started crying.  She was apologizing to me.  I asked if she was just diagnosed.  She said yes.  I asked if it had all become real and she said yes.  I told her to cry.  That I would come back.  That it was okay to cry. 

I feel privileged to take care of people who are so vulnerable.  They remind everyday that life is precious.  That I need to pull my head out of my ass and be thankful every single day because we don't know, none of us, how long we have left.  They remind me to appreciate a hug from a friend, a sunset, a slice of pecan pie, a squeal of delight from my granddaughter.  They remind me that I am alive and that's amazing. 

People often ask me how I can work in a cancer hospital, isn't it depressing?  And I answer no.  I work with people who have had the worst news they'll probably ever get and life goes on.  They still have to get up, they still have to live their lives and they find out shortly after their diagnosis that life does go on.  They can still laugh, they can still cry.  They're not dead yet.  They're alive and as long as they're alive they can enjoy life. 

I remember years ago watching a movie on TV and there was a line from the movie that said something like, "It's only when we face our own death that we truly live."  I know it's schmaltzy but it seems to be true.  Life is more precious once we realize we are dying. 


Monday, 10 October 2016


We're back from holidays.  I've never been to the Maritimes and had a wonderful time.  It was good to relax, to have no commitments, to not worry about anything.  I had time to recharge my batteries and spend time outside.  The ocean is a wonderful balm to the soul. 


Thursday, 22 September 2016


Things I'm thankful for today.

We're leaving on holidays for the Maritimes on Saturday.  The big guy and I both need a holiday.
There is a new grandbaby coming in the springtime:)
My bed and fleece blankets.
Flowers on my birthday.
Mostly I'll be thankful to spend time in the fresh air, by the sea. 
I'll be able to take lots of photos.
I can forget about real life and it's problems for a short time and just be.
Did I mention the sea?
And time to just hang out with the big guy, no work, no work talk.
Time to just relax.  There has been precious little of that in the last six months.


What are you thankful for today?

PS I miss reading your blogs.

Monday, 5 September 2016



Things I'm thankful for today.

This man, my new husband.  A giant of a man with a heart to match.  He's helping his granddaughter here, our granddaughter.  She wasn't quite sure what was going on but the umbrella helped.

The weather cooperated and we were able to be married outdoors, in Jasper.  Special shout out to Mother Nature for the lovely job she did decorating:)

My son and daughter were there for my wedding, my son even showed up on time which surprised me.

I have a new daughter and son.

Friends who came to share the day with us.

I lovely, relaxing weekend.

A stress free wedding day.

What are you thankful for today?


Thursday, 25 August 2016


The big guy pointed out to me that part of my rut is getting stuck in the negative and he's right.  He suggested I try writing about the good.

In nine days I'm marrying my sweetest friend.  The photo above is where we're getting married.  When the big guy and I first started dating he was shocked to find out that I'd never been to Jasper; I'd been through Jasper many times but had never stayed there.  Pyramid Lake was one of the first places he took me.  There's an island on Pyramid Lake that you get to by a walking bridge and it's on that island that will we say our vows. 

When you're on the island we can see our two favorite mountains, Mount Edith Cavell and Pyramid Mountain.  The first few visits I fell in love with the island and we said that if/when we got married, that it would be on the island.  Next weekend, that will happen in front of our friends and children and granddaughter.

I love the big guy with my whole heart.  He accepts me as I am, hurts, baggage, past, everything.  I don't disappoint him.  He doesn't want me to be anything other than who I am.  He listens to me.  He sees me.  He knows me and still loves me.  He is steadfast and loyal.  He's smart and funny and kind.  He has a heart of gold that he tries to hide sometimes but I always see it, shining. 

I am thankful for our life together and I'm so happy to be marrying him.

This is our song.

   

One of the big guy's photos.

I'm supposed to be taking a break from work today, a day to relax, but still I worry.  I was raised on worry, taught it at a young age by my mother and my father, fed a daily diet of it for many years.  The world is not a safe place.  Bad things happen.  Don't think that.  Don't be like that.  How should I be?  Is it wrong to be me?

Worry has carved deep ruts into my brain and my heart, ruts that sometimes I can't climb out of without help.  The worry serves no purpose but it is so familiar.  I wear it like a familiar old jacket.  It fits my body, although of late it feels too tight, restrictive even.  I recognize it's smell and the feel of it against my skin. 

I breathe.  I tell myself to breathe.  In and out, that this will help.  I try.  Breathe in, breathe out and fall back into a rut.  My brain races.  I snap. I feel irritated for no good reason.  I breathe in, breathe out.  I want out of these ruts.

I'm rereading a very good book, "Becoming The Kind Father" by Calvin Sandborn.  Although he is talking about men, his idea of a kind parent resonates with me.  I am not kind to myself.  I beat myself up.  I have a nonstop reel inside my head that tells me shit and pushes me back into those ruts. 

Who the fuck convinced me that I was such an awful person?  That's what I want to know.  And why?  Why did they do that?  Or was it just me?  Did I convince myself that I was this awful person?

I look around and wonder how others do it.  How do they get through life?  What do they tell themselves?  Would it work for me?  Is it even me?





 

Thursday, 11 August 2016


Things I'm thankful for today.

I feel better.
Much better.
Amazing cloud formations this summer.
A long walk with the big guy and the dog.
Homemade pizza.
Getting married in two weeks, oops I mean three weeks.
Got off work early today and went shopping. 
Reading a good book.
Reading in general.  I can't imagine not being able to read.
Kindness from others.
Bad jokes.
Hugs.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, 30 July 2016


Depression

What is depression like?

Depression turns life into a gray, flat world.  Nothing stands out.  Walks with the dog become therapeutic.  Sitting in the sunshine becomes Vitamin D therapy.  Writing, talking, baking, become therapy.  It turns my brain into mush.  I can't remember things.  Everything that I need to do becomes overwhelming.  Nothing is easy.  Sleep is no longer restorative.  My body feels like it weighs a thousand pounds, something that has to be dragged everywhere.  Depression would be frightening if I had the energy to care. 

This year has been difficult.  Work has been very difficult.  No friends have died though which is something I'm very thankful for.  My patients keep on dying though.  Patients I cared about.  Patients I've hugged.  The deaths seem to have added up as a heavy weight on my soul.  A friend at work just lost his wife to breast cancer a few days ago.  She was my patient too.  A lovely lady, kind, gentle, loving. 

But wonderful things have happened too.  We moved into a house.  The big guy and I have our own home.  We're close to our granddaughter.  All five of our children are healthy and safe.  We're getting married into a month.  All good things but stressors as well. 

Today I have more energy though.  I'm thankful.  My garden is blooming.  I'm thankful.  The big guy hugs me lots.  I'm thankful.  I dried my sheets on the line yesterday.  I'm thankful. 



Friday, 22 July 2016

A pelican in the pond behind our house.  One of the big guy's shots.

I haven't been writing much.  There seems to be so little time.  I miss it though.  Miss putting my thoughts down.  It helps keeps the black dog at bay, mostly, but there is only so much time in day.

Right now I have sheets hanging on the line to dry.  I'm eating chocolate cake with chocolate, orange ganache.  The dog is laying on the floor behind me, watching the cat who is sitting on the counter.  The big guy softly snores on the couch behind me.  It's a beautiful, hot summer day.  We spent the morning with our granddaughter and my stepdaughter at the zoo. 

It's pretty much a perfect day.  I have to remember that it takes so little to be content.  The floors are dirty, there are dishes in the sink and the laundry needs folding but there will always be dirty dishes and laundry that needs folding.  Right now I need to relax and stop worrying about what comes next.  I spend so much time about what comes next that I forget about right now and rush through it. 

I'm going to try to slow down.  We'll see:)

Thursday, 14 July 2016


Things I'm thankful for today.

The dog is settling in. 
The cat is ignoring the dog.
I cut down a tree that I needed to this evening, all by myself.  It wasn't a big tree, but still.
Also cut down and dug up a nasty rose bush.
Painting the dining room a lovely soft green.  Goodbye dark brown.
Walked the dog.
Got my hair cut.
Had a day off work.
Made apple muffins.
Saw pelicans the other day.  OMG!  What amazing birds!
Summer.

What are you thankful for today?



Saturday, 2 July 2016


I worry about my son.  I thought that when my children were grown I could stop worrying but that is not the case, even though I know that worrying does no good.  He's not happy.  His criminal past hangs over him, dogging him.  I feel bad for him but he also refuses to see reality.  I suggested a course of action for him and he refused.  I suppose that's all I can do. 

I'm no different.  I often have a hard time with reality, like to bang my head against the wall, hoping for a different outcome that never comes.  Perhaps most of us are like that.  Maybe I'm not the only one.

The big guy and I spent a few days I the mountains.  It was damp and rainy.  I had a minor meltdown, stomped my feet and pouted.  I wanted certain things to happen.  I wanted to be in control.  As usual, I was not.  The universe intervened.  I was forced to slow down, find alternatives, challenge myself.  Things did not go as planned and as I result I got this lovely shot above. 

I obviously still struggle with letting go.  I still believe I can bend the world to fit my view.  It's not happening.  I learn.  I forget.  I relearn.  I reforget.  Dammit!  I forget to breathe, forget to let go, forget to be. 

The mountains help me to remember how small I really am, how little impact I have over anyone beyond myself and my own breath.

Monday, 20 June 2016


This is one of my favorite photos of Miss Katie, taken before the anxiety and self abuse took hold of her.  She has no calluses on her wrists from banging her mouth and no permanent bruise on her forehead from banging her head against the walls or floors.  The big guy warns me not to turn my back on Katie and he's right but a part of me can't let go of this imagine of my beautiful, happy daughter.  I grieve for my lost daughter all over again.





This is Miss Katie out celebrating her birthday with three lovely young women who used to be Katie's caregivers.  Three sisters who still care enough to take Katie out for supper on her birthday.

This reminds me that there is love and kindness all around us.  Sometimes I can forget.  It's so easy to see the meanness, the hatred, the fear.  It's so easy to go there but I don't want to.  I want to see the goodness in others.  I want to believe people can be their best selves.  I want to hope.

I'm on holidays this week which is lovely.  I have time.  Time to waste, time to be productive, time to do as I please and that is a gift for which I am deeply grateful.




Monday, 23 May 2016

I seem to be stuck in the past lately.  Full of regrets.  It's dragging me down and I can't change anything in the past.  I am not kind to myself. 

The big guy and I move in a week and a half.  We get married in three months.  There is a lot of change in my life right now, all good things but still I feel depressed.  I have such a hard time with change.  I know things will work out.  We will settle into our new home.  We will sell the condo.  I will have a garden to putter in.  We'll be close by our granddaughter.  It will all be good but right now it feels like an in between space that is not anything real.  My home has been ripped apart and that unsettles me.  I am a creature of habit.  I miss my books.  Miss my paintings. Miss the crappy carpet even because when I say ripped apart, even the carpet is being ripped up to be replaced with laminate.

I feel so silly complaining about good changes but it's just hard.  We've been short staffed for five months now at work.  I'm never sure when I get to work if there will be enough nurses for the day.  It's stressful.  My back is so sore from age and stress and apparently asymmetry. 

But the worst of it is my middle daughter is angry with me.  She's been angry with me for so long.  Now she's angry because she says I care more about the big guy's family than my own family.  It's untrue but it's how she feels.  There is no way to make her happy.  I know she has to figure it out for herself but it's hard to watch.  She hurts and so she hurts.  She is her mother's daughter after all and maybe that's the part that hurt the most, that I taught her to be the way she is.  Critical, impatient and self centred.  Not qualities that I am proud of but that I do have.  I guess I was hoping she would only take on my good qualities.  She is me. 

Maybe that's what's really getting to me.  Looking at her is like at myself when I was a young woman and it's not pleasant.  I like to beat myself up though, even though I can't change the past, can only accept it I still rail against it.  Acceptance is not easy for me.  It feels like defeat.  I guess that's why I keep doing this dance until I figure out how to accept it. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


Things I'm thankful for tonight.

My family and friends are safe. 
Fort McMurray seems to have been evacuated without loss of life.
We're a long way away from the fire but I have patients in Fort Mac.  It feels far too close.
It's cooler tonight.
Pizza and a walk with our granddaughter this evening.
Friends at work.
Hugs.
Moving into our home soon.

I look at the photos of the flames and the people (like me) escaping a burning city and I want to hold all those I hold dear close to me.

I'm also so thankful that when awful things happen, it brings out the best in people.  There is hope for us.

Sunday, 3 April 2016





We bought a house last night.  Hard to believe how much life has changed in the past five years.  I moved into this condo five years next month.  I was scared, terrified that I wouldn't be able to manage.  I found a full-time job that I love.  I have a new love who accepts me as I am.  I have new friends, a new granddaughter.  Life is full and I am so thankful.

I am tired at the end of the work day.  Very tired some days and I've been trying to figure out why.  Part of it is my age.  But part of it is me.  I never do things half way.  When I was home full-time I was exhausted at the end of the day too.  It's just the way I roll.  I'll try to quit worrying about being a different kind of person. 

The new home backs onto a green space.  There is a huge park and a pond behind our house.  There will be geese and ducks within walking distance.  Our granddaughter will be a short walk away.  I will have a yard to putter in, my hands will be in the soil again. 

I lay awake last night when I went to bed, thinking about all of things that need to be done in the next two months and I remember that I've done this before.  I can do this.  My brain likes to mess with me at times but I'm getting wiser.  I argue with my brain, with my thoughts now.  I don't accept the awful things my mind tells me as gospel.  I look at my thoughts, ask myself if what I'm thinking is based in reality or in the past, or in my imagination.  The mind is a powerful weapon.



I'm starting to slowly understand that everything passes, everything changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  And it's okay.  I've weathered the worse before, I've embraced the joy before, I can do both and I will again.  I'm so thankful.

Friday, 1 April 2016

I'm trying to write for myself.  Been writing on this thing for so long I wonder if I can.  I always have an audience but I suppose even myself is an audience.  Does it matter if we have an audience when we write?  Do things become more or less true depending on who reads this?  Do I change what or how I say things?  Probably. 

Sometimes it feels like all my life has been played out in front of an audience.  Parents, friends, strangers, family, children, even dogs.

I'm getting married in six months.  I'm a little nervous, mostly because last time was so disastrous.  I think I'm older and wiser now.  I hope I am.  Most importantly the big guy takes me as I am.  He makes observations about me and my behavior but not judgements.  I told him tonight that I hope I am never a disappointment to him and then I started crying.

Even now as I write this I cry.  I've always felt like a disappointment to my family, my parents, my siblings and most especially to my ex-husband.  That was the main reason I left him, not the drinking, not the coldness, not the lack of generosity, not the horrible things he said to me but the fact that I was a disappointment to him.

Why couldn't I be like the other wives?  Why couldn't I take more of an interest in his career?  Why couldn't I let other people take care of Katie more?  I cried too much, laughed too loud, got too mad, put too many nuts in my baking and didn't drink enough. 

He was actually angry with me because I didn't drink more.  I didn't like drinking with him because he slipped into mean, angry drunk very quickly and I learned to keep my wits about me.  I cleaned him up after he vomited all over my friends bed in the middle of the night because he was too drunk to move.  I pulled over to the side of the road while driving home with the kids and him drunk so that he could vomit beside the road.  My daughter rolled over on his side one night when she heard him vomiting after he had passed out on the floor of the family room and I got to clean up the vomit.  I needed to stay sober.

And now I live with a man who loves me and hugs me and is happy with me just as I am.  He's okay with the fact that I cry.  He enjoys my laughter.  Loves my baking.  He holds me when I need someone to hold me.  He has my back. 

He's not perfect but neither am I.  I love him.  I trust him.  I want him to be happy, not just me.  I see him as he is, deep down inside.  Not the huge man that the rest of the world sees, but the small boy who is still a little afraid of the world.  The tender, gentle man who despite his bluster and bravado would never hurt a fly. 




Sunday, 27 March 2016

There was family drama with one of siblings this week, precipitated by myself which is most frustrating.  So much more convenient if you can blame someone else.  I messaged my sister in law on Facebook , thinking that it was just her Facebook page.  Apparently not.  I caught my sister in law up on my life and then said that I missed her and her kids but my brother, not so much sadly.

This message was never meant for my brother.  It was a private message to my sister in law.  And I am sad that I don't really miss my brother.  He read the message and sent back a snarky come back and then my sister in law weighed in, very angry with me.  As my daughter pointed out to me, what did I expect?  If the shoe was on the other foot, how would I feel?

The whole thing upset me and I vowed to myself to let my siblings go once and for all, with sadness and love. 

Last night I googled toxic families because I was still upset.  I came across many accounts of fucked up families like my own.  And then I came across an article about narcissistic families, which is something I had never heard of.  I started reading and recognized myself, my siblings, my parents, my whole family.  It was sad and frightening.

My siblings cannot be any different than what they are.  I don't fit in.  But the whole family has a habit of poking each other with spears and then running back into our caves to hide and protect ourselves from each other.  Mum was a great one for telling me horrible things that my siblings had said and I imagine she said things to them about me.  In narcissistic families, a parent will keep siblings fighting with each other because if they love each other then the parent doesn't get the love. 

I'm not blaming my mum or my dad.  I imagine they grew up in similar families and were just repeating what they knew.  At least that's my theory.  Another theory is that I am a difficult, bitchy woman who can't get along with anyone which is how I felt last week.  I cried a lot.

When I went to bed I couldn't stop crying and then I did some CBT.  I started thinking about the relationships I have people who are not my family.  I seem to manage fine with other people.  I don't get along with my ex but there are many reasons for that.  My siblings and I don't get along.  We all seem to resent each other.  I know for myself I can't be objective about my family.  I get a hurt a lot by them and I imagine I hurt them as well.  It seems like an endless loop of hurt and hurting.

Anyway, I did convince myself that I'm not just a bitch who likes to hurt people.  I also decided to stay far away from them.

In my mind of course, I would love to have a family that I could talk to, get support from and give support to but that's not what I have.  I'm not so different from my mum.  Always hoping for what I want and not believing what it is. 

I watch Blue Bloods on TV, a show about a family of Irish cops.  They argue, they disagree and they also support and love each other.  They forgive each other.  I have no ability to do that.  I can't forgive and I guess that's why I feel so bad.  I can't forgive my siblings for hurting my mum, even as she hurt all of us with her needs.  As you see, an endless cycle of hurt and hurting with no way out.



Friday, 25 March 2016

I'm going to take a break for awhile.  Thank you all for taking the time to read my writing and for commenting. 








Ain't family grand? 

Friday, 18 March 2016

When my husband left town my girlfriend and I decided to break into my house.  I kicked a basement window in, which was quite therapeutic at the time.  We lowered her son through the window into the basement and he made his way to the garage.  The only door that wasn't barricaded was the side door into the garage.  He let us in and we proceeded to unbarricade the doors.  My friend helped me to cover the broken window with some wood.  My daughter and I moved back into our house.

The next day was a Monday and I had to work the next day so I was in my pyjamas and housecoat when I heard a knock on the door.  I looked through the window to see a friend of my husband's.  I told him to go away.  He did and he phoned the police to say there was an intruder in the house.  The police arrived at 10:30 pm, my daughter and I were in bed.  I let them in and told them what had happened and that it is not a crime to break into your own house.  They agreed with me but still wanted to see identification and proceeded to walk through the entire house to see what was going on.  They also called off the canine team that had been called in response to a break in with suspect still in the house.  Nice.

I understand why they did what they did but it was humiliating to have to show my ID to prove that I could be in my own house.  It was embarrassing to have police cars lined up outside my house, again.  And then one cop wanted to know how big the house was and how big the yard was and when it was going on the market.  Again, I understand, the police see a lot of domestic disputes and why not get a heads up on a nice house that will be going onto the market soon.

I spent the next two weeks living in fear of the day my husband returned.  I packed up every single thing of his into boxes, labelled them and stacked them in the garage.  What I really wanted to do was to set fire to them on the driveway but I didn't.  I had the locks changed back to the old locks.  He cut off my telephone so I had a new telephone line set up and I waited. 

I got really sick and two days before my husband was to return.  I was still terrified and my wonderful girlfriend came over to protect me and to talk to my husband.  It was her that showed my husband where all his stuff was.  I'm still thankful for that Daphne.


I was talking to a friend at work the other day about how much I have been reliving the past these last few months.  It frequently pops into my head and swims around, demanding my attention.  The past is haunting me right now and she feels it has to do with my upcoming marriage.  She's probably right.  The big guy asked me this morning why I wrote what I wrote in my last post.  It's time to put away the past and move forward.  For me, I have to get it out of my head and the easiest way for me to do that is to write it down. 

Thursday, 17 March 2016

I've been cleaning and going through old papers.  Eight years ago I told my ex-husband I wanted a divorce.  A month later he bought a condo in Vancouver.  Two months later I bought a townhouse and moved.  He wooed me over the next seven months and convinced me to sell my townhouse and moved back home, to try again to make our marriage work.  So I did.  I moved back home in April or May, can't quite remember but I knew by the end of June that I had made a huge mistake.

Things didn't get better, they just got worse.  That fall I told my ex-husband I wanted a divorce.  We barely talked.  Katie was living at home at that time and I managed to find an agency that would care for her, the only one I could find who would care for her because of her behavioral problems. 

We rented an apartment for Katie and she was set to move into it on December 28th.  On December 25th, after Christmas dinner, my husband packed up and left.  He had to work that night but declared he was not coming back.  He took one of our pots but left the lid.  Never did figure that one out.

So I moved Katie into her place on December 28th by myself.  My husband went back and forth between our house in Edmonton and his place in Vancouver.  I decided to try dating, partly because I knew my husband would never let me go.  I think he though of me as his property.  Nobody else could have me. 

I ran into a guy I knew at the gym and he asked me out for coffee.  I said yes and we started seeing each other.  One night at the beginning of February I came home around eleven to find my husband passed out on our bed.  He already had a place in Vancouver and was supposed to stay in the spare bedroom when he came to visit the kids.  He had been over at a neighbor's and gotten completely pissed.  When I came home I tried to wake him up and asked him to go into the other room.

He started yelling at me that this was his fucking bed and his fucking house and he didn't have to fucking move if he didn't fucking want to.  At this time our middle daughter was downstairs in her bedroom, right below ours.  My husband sprang out of bed and was waving his arms around and backed me up against the wall as he was yelling.  He scared the shit out of me.  I'd never been afraid of him before but I was that night. 

Then he laid back down on the bed and yelled at me that I was a bitch and a cunt.  At that point, shaking, afraid and now angry, I grabbed a votive holder on the chest of drawers and threw it at him.  I missed and hit the wall, so I grabbed another one.  This one hit him on the elbow and nicked his arm a little, a drop of blood came out.  He grabbed the phone on the bedside table and called 911 and said,  "I want to report an assault!", at which point, I turned and fled the house.

I drove over the guy's house that I had been seeing.  He was sound asleep and not at all pleased to be involved in a domestic dispute.  But I couldn't stop shaking and crying so he took me in and I spent the night there.  In the morning I drove home only to find myself locked out of the house.  When I rang the bell, my husband came to the door and told me that he wasn't letting me in.  I called the police and about an hour later they showed up and talked to my husband.  He wouldn't let them in at first but finally relented.  He made them wait too.

The police came into the house with me so that I could take some clothes and personal belongings with me.  I was ashamed and embarrassed.  The police were nice but I felt like a criminal.  A neighbor took me in, and my middle daughter as well.  My husband wouldn't let me back into the house.  That night I had to call on the officer who had responded to my husband's "assault" call and asked me for my side of the story, so I told him the truth.  He said that he knew my husband was very drunk and didn't think any assault charges needed to be laid against me. 

He also asked about Katie.  My husband had told the officer that Katie was not safe where she was.  Apparently my husband had phoned Katie's apartment in the middle of the night, drunk and said things, no idea what.  I had an email from the director of the agency saying that they were not willing to deal with drunk men in the middle of the night.  That it had to stop or another agency would have to be found to care for Katie.

My husband left town a week later.  He changed the locks on the house and barricaded the doors. I remember someone saying how horrible it all was and I replied that it was nothing compared to having your daughter declared mentally retarded.  Nothing was as hard as hearing that.  I was also amazed at how many people offered up their homes for a place to stay.  I had friends, people who cared about me and that meant so much to me.  It was hard but not awful.  I'd forgotten that.

Sunday, 13 March 2016




"In seeking to eliminate anger and hatred, the intentional cultivation of patience and tolerance is indispensable.  You could conceive of the value and importance of patience and tolerance in these terms:  Insofar as the destructive effects of angry and hateful thoughts are concerned, you cannot get protection from these from wealth.  Even if you are a millionaire, you are still subject to the destructive effects of anger and hatred.  Nor can education alone give you a guarantee that you will be protected from these effects.  Similarly, the law cannot give you such guarantees or protections.  Even nuclear weapons, no matter how sophisticated the defense system may be, cannot give you the protection or defense from these effects..."
     The Dalai Lama paused to gather momentum, then conclude in a clear, firm voice,  "The only factor that can give you refuge or protection from the destructive effects of anger and hatred is your practice of tolerance and patience."  ( The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler, pg, 253)

Wise words for these times.

Saturday, 12 March 2016


I've had a headache for three days.  I had a massage today, hoping that will help.  I also took a muscle relaxant, hoping that will help.

Things I'm thankful for today.

Signed on with a realtor today and officially started looking for a house.
I've seen Canadian geese pairs everyday this past week. 
We can hear them too, flying over the condo.  I love the sound of their honking.
A wander through the greenhouse.
Sunshine and a mild day.
A massage.
Hugs from the big guy.
Very thankful for the weekend.  It's been a hellish month.  One nurse off sick for three months, another for a month and chronically short staffed, which leads to the tight muscles and headache. 
Sleeping with the windows open.
New books to read.
Very thankful we're booked to go to Waterton and Jasper in June.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, 7 March 2016


We had a meeting with the director of agency that cares for Katie this past weekend.  She's a good woman.  She's spent her life trying to improve the lives of disabled people.  The agency she started is not for profit and they agreed to take Katie when nobody else would because they believed they could make her life better.  And they have.

But this weekend we found out that Katie will probably have to move.  The agency is giving up care of Katie's roommate because of an issue with the roommate's public guardian.  The public guardian is insisting on changes in the home that the agency feels are unsafe and I agree with the agency.  But what do we know? 

So our options were to keep Katie where she is and find a new agency to take over care with all new caregivers, or to move Katie to a new home with new roommates and the same caregivers.  Pretty much a no brainer.  I can't stress enough how wonderful the people who care for Katie are. 

So a move.  Katie hates change.  She will have to move to a new home and have a new roommate.  It will work out;  it did last time but it will take time and work. Her new roommate will be an older woman and maybe that will work better.  Katie and the roommate that she has now are around the same age and fight like young woman do.  Her new home will be half of a duplex with more disabled people living in the other half, so no pissed off neighbors complaining about wheelchairs or banging on the walls. 

The big thing is that the caregivers will remain the same.  I'm deeply thankful for that.

Yesterday when we picked Katie up, her caregiver pointed out to me that Katie has bruises on her right breast.  I asked her what happened and she mimed pinching her breast and crying.  I asked her if it hurt and she cried.  I don't know if she was pinching her breast because it was sore or irritated, or if the pinching was just another form of self abuse and was now sore.  And Katie can't tell me. 

So I guess it'll get better or it won't.  We'll see what happens.

Yesterday I bought her a balloon and Smarties and that made her smile.  Sometimes, that's enough.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Long Beach, Tofino.

I'm reading a lovely book.  "The Art of Happiness" by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler.  Just like the title says, it's about cultivating happiness.  It's not a how to book but it kind of is.  The book has inspired me to be more compassionate, even to those who irritate the living shit out of me.  It's making me stand back and look at how I am involved in the dynamics of dysfunctional relationships. 

I work with a nurse who is not overly competent.  Her fear of making mistakes leads to many more mistakes and what really drives me crazy is that she refuses to accept responsibility for her mistakes.  She's been off work since Christmas because she hurt her finger while scraping the ice off her windshield which has been nice, not that she hurt her finger but that she's been off.  Without her there the tension has gone way down.  There is no underlying feeling of distrust that normally permeates the place when she is there.  We are working together as a team most of the time.  I feel like I can trust my coworkers to do their bit, something lacking when she is there sadly.

But she's coming back to work at the end of the month and I want to make a concerted effort to feel compassion for her.  It must feel awful living in a world where you don't trust anybody.  To be constantly on guard, which strangely is how I feel when I am around her, constantly on guard.  I want to be able to do this, I want to be able to see her as a deeply flawed human being, just like me.  We are both human beings.  We both want the same things, to feel loved and to love.  To feel safe.

I want to find a way to transcend my old way of dealing with her which is not at all helpful and which wears me out. 



Saturday, 20 February 2016



Things I'm thankful for today.

I'm reading a good book right now.  "The Art of Happiness" by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler.  The book is wonderful and a good reminder to always reach for compassion before anything else.  It's not always easy but I tried it at work with a coworker on Thursday and it helped.  Or course the trick is to remember and practice, everyday. 

I'm thankful that I'm healthy and that those I love are healthy.

I'm thankful I have a job I love, most of the time.

I'm thankful that roof over my head is paid for.

I'm am truly thankful for my health.  I care for people everyday who have cancer.  I see how indiscriminate cancer is.  It is a constant reminder that life is precious.

I'm thankful for a delicious supper.

I'm thankful for new shoes for work.

I'm thankful for my bed and the lovely man waiting for me there. 

What are you thankful for today?


Sunday, 14 February 2016



I had a lovely visit with my middle daughter last month.  I flew out to Vancouver, stayed in an Airbnb and shopped and walked and talked with my daughter.  We hadn't spent that much time together in years.  She's a grown woman now and has let go of her anger towards me.  It was nice to have my daughter back.  I missed her.

Poor Miss Katie has been having a rough time.  The anti-depressant which seemed so promising last May has turned out to be a bust.  She's gained about twenty pounds which was good for her but I worry about her continuing to gain weight.  We went out bra shopping today which is always fun.  I must say though that I'm impressed with the young women who work at Victoria's Secret.  They never bat an eye when I ask for their help with Katie.  Katie now has two bras that fit her and I didn't even get hurt today. 

I was doing some research online about aggression and mental disabilities and came across an organization NADD.  This is part of what I found and it makes so much sense.

The causes of the increased vulnerability to mental health problems in persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities are not well understood. Several factors have been suggested. Stress is a risk factor for mental health problems. Persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities experience negative social conditions throughout the life span that contribute to excessive stress. These negative social conditions include social rejection, stigmatization, and the lack of acceptance in general. Social support and coping skills can buffer the effect of stress on mental health. In persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities, limited coping skills associated with language difficulty, inadequate social supports, and a high frequency of central nervous system impairment, all contribute to the vulnerability of developing mental health problems. Another explanation for the increased prevalence of mental health problems in this population relates to behavioral phenotypes. In addition to the characteristic physiological signs associated with genetic syndromes, many syndromes have characteristic behavior and emotional patterns. These behavioral phenotypes may contribute to the increased rate of behavioral and mental health problems among persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Katie's behavior was not so different from her siblings when she was young.  As she's gotten older her behavior has become more aggressive and her anxiety has increased exponentially.  She has been on anti-psychotic medications for the past twelve years and her behaviors have gotten worse.  We've tried different types of medications with little success.  She has had paradoxical reactions to three separate medications, one the other night.  I gave her Ativan after a meltdown, hoping it would help her sleep.  The poor bugger was awake all night because of the insomnia caused by the Ativan, a paradoxical reaction. 

I worry about the future.  I'm getting older, my reflexes are slowing down.  Only a little so far but I will eventually slow down enough for Katie to hurt me badly.  An even bigger problem for me though is how badly Katie feels when she hurts someone.  Her remorse causes her even more stress which causes a downward spiral of behaviors. 

So, I found this organization.  Apparently Katie is not the only person with a mental disability and a mental health problem.  It would seem that it is not my fault either if it occurs in up to 1/3 of people with developmental disabilities, always a worry of mine, that somehow this is all my fault.

And so it continues. 



Saturday, 23 January 2016


The big guy and I ordered new bedroom furniture last fall and it arrived this past week.  Mission style, hand made, beautiful.  My old set was the original set I had;  it was the one my ex-husband and I picked out just before we were married.  When I say my ex-husband and I picked it out, I mean he picked it out and I agreed.  That's how he built consensus.  Anyway, he picked it out and I had never liked it.  Now I have the bedroom suite I always wanted and I love it.

In the process of moving everything in and out of the bedroom I came across many old bits and pieces of writing and mail that I had tucked away and saved over the years.  One was a letter from my ex-husband going over our marriage.  I reread it and then tore it up and threw it away.  I'm done with him.  In his letter he told me how afraid he was of me and my anger and how he felt bullied by me.  To be fair I was often angry.  I was overwhelmed, sad, depressed and isolated with three children, one of those children with a severe disability.  It's strange because my takeaway from my marriage is that I was mentally abused by my ex.  Two sides to every story.

This past year I have gotten rid of everything that my ex-husband picked out for the house.  The dishes he picked out, the cutlery, the bedroom suite;  there is nothing of him left in my life, other than my children and that feels good. 

I can still remember the first time we visited a divorce mediator together and he spent about thirty minutes arguing about the date of our separation.  He was arguing about one day.  When that was all done he was very happy and said we had come to a consensus.  In reality, I had said, I don't care.  What difference does it make?  He beat the point to death, by himself.  At that point the lawyer turned to me and asked me if I had been abused.  She wanted to know before we continued.  Everything with my ex-husband felt like, beaten to death.  I felt beaten to death by the time I was done.  I had nothing left and he wonders why I left. 

Going over the old letters stirred up my grief again.  Grief is a funny thing.  It gets smaller but it never really goes away.  It's also easy to stir up and when it resurfaces it can feel fresh and painful all over again.  I am so thankful I had the strength to leave him.

I am also thankful that I met a lovely man named Bill, aka the big guy.  He's kind and compassionate.  He's also fierce and loyal.  He calls me on my bullshit and he accepts me as I am, tears and all.  He makes me laugh and I make him laugh.  He hugs me everyday.  He knows me and I know him.  Who knew I would find such a love so late in life. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016


One of the big guy's photos.

I'm reading a very good book right now, "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanathi.  It's about a thirty-six year old neurosurgeon, diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.  He was a wonderful writer and it sounds like he was a wonderful doctor as well.  He thought about life and death.  He cared about his patients.

We had no TV or internet connection last night so I read for quite awhile before bed, well an hour.  I usually don't read for longer than an hour.  I get antsy.  The big guy was asleep and there was nothing to do.  I shut off the light and lay wide awake in bed. 

I prayed, as I do every night.  For the past sixteen years I have gone through my day and said a prayer of thanks before I go to sleep.  And then I ask for things.  Please keep my children healthy and safe.  Please give a friend a peaceful death.  Please help my granddaughter learn how to sleep through the night.  Those kinds of things.

I always pray for my children.  I want Katie to be free of her anxiety.  I want my son to be productive, to find a job, to stop lying.  I want my middle daughter to be happy.  I want a lot of things beyond my control. 

I know very little about my son's life during the ten years he was a drug dealer.  We saw him intermittently.  He was often high when he came over.  Often depressed.  I know he suffers from depression.  I want him to be successful.  Not successful as in make a lot of money but rather successful as in find a job that is in his field, get married, live a normal life, have children.  This past week I've changed my thinking,  help me to accept and love my son as he is, right now.  He is imperfect, unhappy and struggling.  Help me to love him as he is, not how I want him to be. 

And then I expanded this to help me to love and accept all of those I care about, as they are.  And then I noticed myself and prayed for help to accept myself as I am, at which point I burst into tears.  And I realized I still don't love and accept myself as I am, nor did I ever have this kind of love from my family.  The wonderful thing is, I can learn how to do this and then I can give this gift to my children and their children. 

How hard can it be?  To accept and love oneself, as I am?  And yes I am being facetious, because I do love to laugh.

Saturday, 9 January 2016


I had a dream the other night about my friend Shirley who died almost a year ago.  The dream was so real that when I woke up my first thought was, I have to check the computer to see if she has died.  When the cobwebs dispersed I remembered that she was indeed dead and missed her all over again. 

Sometimes I remember a patient I no longer see and I realize that they must have died.  I try not to keep track because it would be too painful.  Our patients come in over and over again;  you develop a relationship with them.  I have my favorite patients.  Have become friends with some.  Often when I walk through the hospital, patients nod or smile or say hello.  I doesn't always remember every patient but I also smile and say hi. 

Yesterday a patient came in for a CT scan.  He was so short of breath he couldn't walk.  His wife had put him in a wheelchair to get him to our department.  They had questions about fluid on his lungs and wanted to see a doctor.  Our department doesn't work like that;  we only have radiologists.  But I did lay him down in the stretcher bay and checked his O2 sat.  It was 78%.  It's supposed to be at least above 90%.  I put him on oxygen and called respiratory.  It was Friday, towards the end of the day.  The patient's oncologist was busy with other patients.  Respiratory was busy with trached patients. It was a perfect storm.

I can't go into details but my patients is dying, soon.  He's not even fifty yet.  He's not ready to die, doesn't want to give up hope.  His wife understands that he is dying and feels helpless.  She wants her husband to say goodbye to his family, wants him to say the important things that need to be said but he wants to wait.  I feel for both of them.

I ended up having to call an ambulance for him to be taken to an emergency department.  Before he left he used the washroom and I could smell the melena (old blood that has gone through the GI tract).  He was still bleeding from his gut.  He will need blood transfusions and oxygen until he dies.  He needs palliative care but he's not ready for it yet. 

Once upon a time I would have needed to do more but I understand better now what I can and can't do.  I can't make someone do anything.  I can't make someone accept their imminent death.  I can listen.  I can care.  I can understand the need for hope and the need for acceptance.  I can do that for my patients and their families and that's really all I can do.   



Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Katie on Christmas day at West Edmonton Mall.


  
Free to run instead of stuck in her wheelchair.


No idea what she's thinking.

We took Katie to Special Olympics bowling last Sunday.  She enjoyed herself for the most part.  There is a young man who volunteers with Special Olympics and she has quite a crush on him.  He's a nice young man.  His girlfriend has a disabled brother so they both volunteer.  This young man is good looking, kind and smart; working on his PhD in biochemistry I think.  So Katie has good taste. 

She quite shamelessly flirts with this young man.  She laughs and swings her hair around.  It's funny to watch and a little sad because it would be nice for her to have a boyfriend.  Anyway, last Sunday Katie saw the young man and stared at him as he got closer.  She was quite intent.  When he started walking towards her she got very excited, blowing raspberries and rocking her wheelchair, which apparently is how she flirts.

And then she lost it.  She started crying and screaming.  She was inconsolable.  We had to leave and allow her to calm down.  Then it dawned on me after all these years.  When Katie is overcome by strong emotions, any strong emotions, she starts crying.  Which is exactly what I do. 

Ask the big guy if I cry easily and he will tell you, yes.  Any strong emotion sweeping over me leaves me weeping and unable to speak.  I've always been like this but I never put the two together with regards to Katie.  It puts a whole new spin on her negative behaviors, her crying, screaming, head slapping and wrist banging.  I wonder if it frightens her to be so overwhelmed with emotion that you can't stop crying.  I know it scares me sometimes.  It also embarrasses me and makes it very difficult to communicate sometimes.  We're not so different, her and I.

Now how to deal with it.