the burden of proof

gossipIt’s been days since I started a post but months since I published one.  Typical me: great starter, not so great finisher.

I never want to come across as an expert or authority on anything other than my own life and my own experience, and even with those two things I’m rarely either.  It’s the normal circumstance of being too close to something to be objective.  I try to be honest about how many questions I have about life and how little I recognize about my own.  I like to think this is fairly universal but that’s probably me wishing I’m in good company when it comes to a lack of objectivity about my life.

There are many common threads in life that I relate to: self doubt, insecurity, and confusion come to mind first.  I’m human and I embrace that I am not nor will I ever be perfect.  But I also try I strive for other things: curiosity, open mindedness, objectivity and an eager willingness to learn and to change.

I’ve always said I’m never happier than when I have a test to study for.  Not because I enjoy homework but because I want to be challenged to expand my knowledge base and become a fuller, more well rounded person.  There are so many things in life that I dearly love, I just don’t know it yet because I haven’t made it around to them yet.  I recognize that for as fantastic as my life has been, it’s but a small fraction of what is out there for experience and existence.  I want to be exposed to and appreciate as much as possible for as long as I have during this go round on earth.

I try very hard to remember that life is impartial, and this is something I struggle with.  Things happen, circumstances change.  Everything is in a constant state of flux.  And what happens does so with no regard for anything or anyone.  What happens is neutral, and that’s difficult to recognize.  Whether we view something as positive or negative depends solely upon our viewpoint and how we interpret events.  A very basic example is what seems like the end for the caterpillar is the beginning for the butterfly.

My collective personal experience and professional exposure to a variety of things does give me a deeper knowledge of certain circumstances that are potentially scary and/or not common to the “average” person.  How many people were taking care of a stage IV pressure ulcer on their dad’s hip at age 14?  Who else knows how to play cats cradle by themselves with their feet?

I spent quite a while talking with someone yesterday who found themselves faced with being accused of being an unfit parent.  The objective fact that they aren’t was almost completely lost to their emotional trauma of the accusation and the subsequent fallout because of this.  Their natural and gut reaction is to do anything and everything they can do to defend themselves and prove that the accusation is false.

How many times have each of us at one point or another been called something that isn’t true?  You’re untalented.  You’re irresponsible.  You’re stupid.  You’re ugly.  You’re shallow.  You’re lazy.  You’re a liar.  You’re a cheat.  You’re a horrible child/sibling/friend/parent.  You’re unqualified for X/Y/Z.

How do we react to it when someone else throws a pile of mud and shit on our doorstep?   Of course our natural inclination is to immediately clean up the mess and to prove it’s not our garbage.  But let me ask: who are we trying to prove that to?  Usually it’s to anyone and everyone who may have seen the pile of trash and heard the negative thing about ourselves.  And generally if we are taking the time and effort to prove otherwise, it’s because the allegation simply ISN’T TRUE.  How could we, why should we put up with this shit?  We don’t deserve to be treated like garbage and we shouldn’t be used as a dumping ground.  It’s wrong, and who the hell does that person(s) think they are, how could they have the unmitigated gall to make such a claim?  It’s simply not fair.

The reality is that anyone can think or do or say whatever they want about us.  We have NO control over that.  It sucks, but we can only control our part of the equation.  The only thing in our lives we have actual control over is ourselves; how we think, what we say, how we act.  Nobody else, just us.

My viewpoint is that when someone makes a claim about us, at that point everything else is on that person.  We keep on living our own life as we have been.  If our house is in order and our yard is picked up, we keep on washing the dishes each night after supper, cutting the grass, and picking the dog shit up off the lawn.  And we can lose sleep and gnash our teeth and grind our wheels over whatever it is, but this won’t change anything.  Anyone has the right to think whatever they want to about us, be it from crack whore to astronaut.  The situation changes when they share their opinion.  Then it’s up to that person to prove themselves right, NOT for us to prove them wrong.  Since the dawn of time people have had opinions of others, and have passed their opinions on to other people.  This happens all day, every day.  It won’t ever change.  What is far less common is people having actual facts to back up their claim.

You told my friends I’m a whore?  I’m fucking their boy/girlfriend?  You called me a backstabber to my friends?  You told my boss I’m drunk on the job?  You told my parents I’m using them for their money?  You told the church deacon the collections have been less lately because I’m skimming from the top?

At this point, probably one of two things is accurate.  Either that person is right to some degree and for some reason felt they were justified in making whatever the thing is common knowledge, or that person is wrong and are talking out their ass.

If they’re right, I wouldn’t say they’re actually “right”.  If what they said actually IS, the only thing that person is now is accurate.  Saying something that’s true is NOT the same thing as saying something right.  If whatever this is happens to be factual, at this point you don’t have to do anything but you would be better served if you own it because either way it’s yours and how you handle it is the only thing that’s in your control.  If the elephant already lives in your living room, what are you gaining by denying it’s existence?

If, on the other hand, they are completely full of shit, you still don’t have to do anything.  You don’t owe anyone anything, least of all an explanation and you certainly don’t owe Jack Shit to the piece of shit who threw up in public at your expense.

Either way, except under very narrow circumstances, you still don’t owe anyone else anything.  Don’t let anyone in life convince you otherwise.  You’re not obligated to justify or defend.  It’s not your job to come up with reasons why something is what it is, or get together examples of why the thing you’re accused of is crap.  Your ONLY responsibility is to yourself, and then to address things with anyone who is personally and directly impacted.  And this group is 99% smaller than people try to make it seem.

Something being factual doesn’t make it good or bad.  The thing is just a thing; it’s neutral.  So why do we view things as negative?  I think it’s usually because for whatever reason we’re not at peace with it.  We view it as being wrong for some reason.  We’re confused, we feel shame, we feel guilt, we feel inferior, we feel wrong.  We don’t know why/how we got where we are.

For me, the deeper and more difficult question is why do I have the negative reaction?  Oh boy, that can be a really deep discussion to have with myself.  Hindsight is ALWAYS clearer than forward vision.  How many times have I been somewhere in my life that I eventually say to myself “how the fuck did I get here and why the hell didn’t I learn my lesson the last time?”

What I’ve reluctantly accepted is that for whatever reason, I’ve been where I have because I needed to be there at that time.  There are life lessons I’ve needed, things I had to experience.  I’ve almost never appreciated that at the time, and to this day there are things in my past that seriously piss me off that I have no fucking clue as to why they happened.  I will say the older I get the more I appreciate that I’ve not always been in a situation because it will eventually benefit me.  Sometimes my lowest points in life have been a benefit to someone else, despite being a complete and total shit show for myself.

This does tie in to the title, burden of proof.  When someone talks shit about you, if it’s accurate so be it.  The circumstances will bear that out.  If it’s not something you want to talk about, you should probably consider why.  In my opinion, it’s also almost NEVER because you’re even remotely close to being a bad person.  Almost always we are too hard on ourselves.  We tend to listen to the public conversation and see social norms and watch social media, and always seem to find ourselves lacking.  I wonder if it were someone we care about instead of us in the same situation, would we judge as harshly?  For my money, the answer is no.  Unrealistic expectations aren’t just for teens anymore, they’re just more obviously affected.  I am so concerned for the younger generation.  In my day it was gossip in the smoking square and shit scrawled on the bathroom walls and name calling in the locker room getting ready for gym class (holy fuck, when the put the swimming pool in my high school I wanted to die).  Now it’s absolutely everywhere and no place seems to be safe.  I had an 11 year old in my office yesterday with a black eye because he wouldn’t beat up another kid that other kids called a fag.

Regarding the burden of proof, people are inevitably going to accuse others of something that’s not true.  I think one of the worst places to be is in a position where you hear something about yourself and then have to wait for others to realize it’s crap, especially because there’s rarely anything you can do to actually prove your case.  Anyone can say whatever they choose to.  But when they do, at that point the responsibility is on them to put up or shut the fuck up.  And if they can’t put up, anyone and everyone who matters in your life will know it.  For that matter anyone who matters in your life should come to you and question that shit at the start.  And if they don’t?  Hey, don’t be too hard on them.  It’s not always easy to go to someone you care about, especially if it’s a sensitive subject.  We wish it were, and we are hurt when it doesn’t happen, but if you really think about it how many times in your life have you heard something about someone you love and haven’t felt comfortable going to them directly?  It’s the world we live in.  Straight talk should be encouraged, but it’s not.  Don’t shy away from it.  It’s hardly ever comfortable, but it generally IS comforting.   There is a difference.

I know it’s rarely ever this simple.  Legally, the rule is innocent until proven guilty, although how common is it to be convicted in the court of public opinion?  In the realm of family court, matters tend to be biased towards the mother and/or the person with the better lawyer.  But I still believe that the facts of a situation will always bear out.  Living proper is rarely glorious.  But in instances of unfounded accusations, along with proper legal counsel it’s the best defense.  Keep our nose clean, continue as we have been which is right and good and appropriate and without reason to question.

The person I spent so much time on the phone with yesterday, the one thing I made it a point to stress before we got off the phone is the reason they’re so eager and willing to make their case to everyone else (they wanted to go so far as to call CPS on themselves) is because they have reason to.  Someone is saying terrible, hurtful lies about them.  But the only person’s opinion who truly matters is their own.  THEY are the person they need to tell that they are a good parent.  And they need to listen to themselves.  They need to believe in themselves.  Regardless of what comes with court or with the neighbors or with relatives or with school, there’s nothing that will be found that can support the allegation that they are an unfit parent because there’s simply nothing to find.  They’re being attacked, they desperately want to convince everyone else how wrong this is, they can feel the wrongness in their bones.  Bones are one thing, but what about their head and their heart?  Are those convinced?  Can their eyes see and their heart truly believe what others can see?  They know without a doubt at the end of every day they have done the best with all that they have to work with to care for their children in every way.  That is the definition of a good parent.  In the face of screaming accusations though, the voices of the head and heart are usually the quietest ones.

We need to be kinder to ourselves.  We all have our own voices that whisper quietly as we fall asleep that the day may not have gone like we had intended, but we did our best and that’s enough.

I think when people start slinging insults and accusations, they generally count on the other person being so embarrassed by even the thought of being called out in public that they won’t fight back.  They feel even more powerful and Godlike if they can work any shred of truth into it.  The most viscous people I’ve ever seen are the ones who are smart enough to weave just enough facts into the web of lies they spin.  They’re counting on either not being questioned at all, or if questioned being able to prove just enough of their claim that nobody thinks to ask if it’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Just because something is factual doesn’t make it anyone else’s business.  Unless someone is truly and unavoidably impacted by a situation, it’s none of their concern.  Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but they don’t have the right to get involved in something that doesn’t legitimately concern them.  That’s your territory.  You may have to spend a lot of energy defining and protecting your borders and ignoring those who create scenes because they’re not allowed to cop a squat on your land, but that’s your right.

Good, bad, or indifferent, having clearly marked, non negotiable boundaries is SO important.  Love yourself enough to define appropriate boundaries and absolutely insist everyone else respect them.  People will talk this and that shit, that won’t change.  Some things will be correct, some will be false, and there will be everything in between.  The facts won’t change because someone said something.  When the shit starts flowing, be honest.  Objectively, do any facts support what’s being said?  If no, although it’s usually little comfort, hold on to that.  Unless someone is straight up lying, they can’t prove something that’s not true and sooner or later others will recognize the lie.  A person loses their power and credibility if they can’t prove their claim.  And what if part or all of it is true?  What if there really is an elephant in your living room?  In that case you own it, NOT the other way around.  It’s your living room.  You have the power, and you call the shots.  My advice?  Make that bitch pay rent and use it as a foot rest.

Surrealism, personified.

As 2016 draws to a close, I can officially say it’s been the most surreal year of my 44 years thus far.  Dictionary.com definition of surreal: having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal;fantastic:

That’s pretty damn accurate.

I started 2016 with admitting myself to rehab for alcoholism.  It was the best decision of my life.  Some recent events would insinuate that I am both ashamed by and/or have hidden this fact from the public, but neither is the case.  I don’t advertise this because it’s not who I am.  It’s a part of me, and will always be, but it doesn’t define me as a person.  I am Shannon Lea Egan, Jim and Marie’s only daughter.  I’m known for lots of things.  I readily engage in conversations regarding all of me, all that I am, all that I was, and all that I hope to become.  For better or worse, history is both factual and neutral.  It’s what we make of the situation that colors it one way or the other.

One thing that 2016 has forced me to acknowledge is that I haven’t  been a good friend.  Because I’ve been caught up in my own issues, I haven’t been there or even made myself available for those around me who are important to me, who have faced situations in their own lives which warrant an “I got your back”.  Character flaw?  Yep.  I’m hoping that self-awareness of this helps lead me to a much better awareness of those around me.  Although the situations which have prompted me to take much more notice of this aren’t great, it’s still true and for that I’m grateful.

This year I ended a 5 year relationship with a man who is a really great guy.  I’ve never known a man who truly deserves the best that life has to offer.  There’s a certain amount of guilt associated with this.  I shouldn’t feel guilty for admitting I can’t be that for him, but I also feel a certain amount of guilt admitting that I can’t, and feeling like he wasted his time with me.  I’m not in love with him, but I miss him in my life.  I care about him and what happens to him.

Most recently, to try to keep it brief and not give too much voice to the recent ugliness in my life, I had a brief relationship this fall with a man I thought was the love of my life.  I was most definitely wrong.  You can read back to the past few blog posts for the details, but it’s not necessary for this purpose.  We were madly in love with each other.  Last month we were out of town at a convention, and because he thought I drove drunk to gas up the car for the next morning’s trip home (I didn’t), he physically and violently threw me out of our hotel room.

As of today, there have been many things that have come up that leave me even more paranoid than I have been since the incident last month.  Since everything went down, I’ve gone back and forth between whether or not I should speak up about what happened because there have been several allegations of this not being the 1st time this has happened with him, or if I should simply shut my damn mouth because of how much trouble it could cause for me and everyone else associated with me in any way if I speak up.  I’ve kept quiet, but recently I texted him asking about us exchanging personal belongings and he brought up a few very partial personal details of things that occurred since that incident which I have literally no clue how he could possibly have knowledge of.  He posted a NINE PAGE Facebook rant last month (I copied and pasted it into MS word just to read it, it’s literally nine pages) which lead to multiple threats against me.  The rant had outright lies, partial truths, and a huge number of falsehoods that have just enough truth to them to be believable to anyone who doesn’t ask me for any information.

Since then his commentary to me has become more off base and more unstable.  His text response to my request (when I tried to discuss exchanging personal effects) was quite long, and he tried to drag me into a conversation and an argument against yet more allegations, and also guilt trip me into some other stuff.  I wouldn’t rise to it, would only comment on the personal effects, but he wouldn’t leave it alone.  This is when more unexpectedly truly nasty and quite frankly freaky shit came out.  Again, mostly inaccurate, but with enough of a hint of accuracy to seriously lead me to question my own security both virtual and literal.  Is he savvy enough to hack into my phone, my computer, my email?  When we were together I had no secrets from him and he knew my passwords.  Yes I’ve changed them, but I’m still concerned.

I literally feel like poison.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know where to turn.  He has all the power and I have none.  I don’t ever remember feeling this helpless in my life.  I need help.  I don’t know where to turn.  I feel so out of control that I have no footing.  I’m sure he will see this, and I’m sure he will celebrate yet another victory over me.  If anyone has any words of wisdom, any advice, any suggestions, I definitely welcome it.  I don’t feel like a person anymore.  I feel like a target.

at the end of it all

It’s Sunday, and here in Central New York we are getting some lake effect snow fall.  There’s already an inch on the ground, and no signs of stopping soon.  Current mood: meh.  We all know it’s coming, but like a monthly period although it’s expected it’s not necessarily welcome.

I’ve thought a lot this weekend about the past three months.  If nothing else, last weekend lead me to spend last evening with three + of my amazing friends I admittedly haven’t spent time with in years.  Good friends are absolutely invaluable.  I cannot stress this enough.  People come and go in and out of our lives, but our friends, the family we choose, will always remain.

I’ve gone back and forth this weekend contemplating whether or not I should explain or defend myself against the lies and half truths he’s been telling about me.  I went from being an abused woman at a hotel to being accused of and having hotel staff, police, family and who knows what else believe I was high on ecstasy and xanax, and drunk off my ass.  And this somehow warranted/justified him assaulting me.  I’m sad that law enforcement did not once think to question his story, and were never concerned with whether or not I was all right, did he hurt me, did I need medical attention.  That was the general consensus once people heard an alcoholic had been spotted drinking, that was the only thing that mattered.  There’s still such a stigma to being alcoholic that it takes precedence over any other facts of a situation.  So much so, that I was questioning myself.

That’s fucked up, people.

Ultimately, that’s not what is on my mind today.   The last three months of my life I had spent in complete happiness are what I’m thinking about today.

I’ve saved everything from our short time together.  Our 1st date, we met at Sylvan Beach.  I’d never been to the amusement park, a holdover from the 50’s or so.  Still has the old rides

Sylvan Beach, July 2016.
Sylvan Beach, July 2016.

.  Still has the old games.  He showed me Fascination, which I managed to win my 1st two games playing.  I kept every winning ticket, and carried some with me in my purse/wallet/pocket.  I actually had a red one on me when he assaulted me.  The zoltan card, there’s a fortune teller there.  The purple/pink thing, a butterfly he picked from the duck pond.  I hung it from my rear view mirror

two dozen roses!
two dozen roses!

before I left the parking lot that night.  It was a great day, one I will never forget.

This is the vase, teddy bear, card and one dried rose from the two dozen red roses Jeff sent to my office after our 5th date.  Our 4th date was at my sister’s wedding, which we set as our official relationship date.  Rather soon, but it was appropriate.

Various prints of photos
Various prints of photos

In the day of digital, it’s a novelty to have actual snapshots in hand you can hang on your wall or physically hand to someone else to look at.  This is a collection of photos of Jeff that I printed because I wanted to be able to look at them without having to turn on my phone.  I had some hanging up at the office, some hanging around my apartment.  I wanted to be able to look at my happiness whenever and wherever I could.

Subsequent dates: a ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad for the Loomis Gang Train Robbery.  No so coincidentally, he used to be an actor and one of his ex girlfriends who he assured me was crazy (and I only half doubt that) was still active with the

trip souviners
trip souvenirs

group.  I still have the plastic jewel ring the priest gave me to hold on to.  Ritz and Ragtime!  Tickets from the fundraiser for the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica.  Again, Jeff was a participant.  It was a 20’s themed speakeasy event.  We had a fantastic time, until a man who was exceptionally political got overzealous and offended a LOT of people after the official event was over.  Jeff definitely took offense, and rightly so, but the way he went about voicing his displeasure was not tactful.  It never sat well with me.

Ritz & Ragtime.  Adirondack Scenic Railroad.  My sister’s wedding.  New York State Fair.  Thendara, after the train robbery.  5th date, hospital room.  4th date, ER because he’s having a heart attack.

Not sequential but some of the many pictures I have of our brief time together.

more things that Jeff has either bought for me or  given to me, that I’ve set aside to give back to him.  The Old Spice and the frosting, I bought that to keep at my place.  The mug, Shutterfly.  I made that a month ago.  All the things from the various nerd block boxes he got for me…I’m certain at some point he’s going to insist he wants this back because he paid for them.

I wonder if this is part of his game, paying for things that aren’t asked for.  He paid for a hand painted print of an artist I was incredibly fond of, despite me telling him I wanted to ask the artist if I could make arrangements to put a deposit down on his work.  He’s not getting that back.  If he argues it, I will pay the artist for it and the artist can pay Jeff back.

Ultimately, this broke my heart but it didn’t break me.  I’m not posting pictures of the cats & dogs because that also breaks my heart, that I won’t be able to see them.  I actually broke down and sobbed in Wegmans Friday night because I couldn’t avoid the dog food aisle.

20161106_084822

Okay I couldn’t help it.  This beautiful boy, Alistair, has my heart with him.  He always gave me that look.  I would be lying if I said there were no tears rolling down my cheeks right now, missing him like I do.  I know he’s well taken care of.  Jeff is a monster about a lot of things, but not about his animals.

The woman in me wants to question myself, how I formed my opinion of this man I so obviously fell in love with.  The pragmatist in me says to look back at this post and don’t lose sleep over how I feel.  The human in me wishes this never came to pass.  The granddaughter & niece in me says I know who I am, and what I deserve.  They trust that my broken heart won’t mean broken principles.

I have to navigate how to deal with the fallout.  There’s more to this than simply  having been beat up last weekend.  He will make it a point to bring shit up.  Despite how much of a douchebag Jeff Hartz is, I have my own part to answer for.  My part did never, ever, ever warrant him assaulting me.  Regardless of what he says, I will admit to drinking and knowing I shouldn’t be.  I know this is important, but my hope is for the sake of this situation it’s secondary to what he did to me, and that he had no right to assault me, regardless of his reasoning.  He’s working on blacklisting me from conventions.  He pulls weight; he’s part of the scene.  I’m new and nobody knows me, other than what they’re hearing from him.  I found something I love and feel a part of, and I will fight for it.

undewrestimate

mic drop.

When you don’t feel your voice is heard

It started like any other day the past three months:

empirestatebldgb

Okay, it’s not like I’ve spent time on the top of the Empire State Building every day for the past three months.  That’s me, wearing my Gram’s gorgeous soft grey leather coat, grinning for the camera at the British gent who offered to take our picture.  See the handsome man kissing me on the head?  He does that. A lot.  He loves me.  I love him.  We are planning the next 50 years of our lives together.  Wouldn’t you if you were us?  WTF, I mean look at us!  We can’t be any happier!!!

crap

……what happened?  How did that absolute bliss lead to this heartbreak?  The outside looks really shitty, but the inside is infinitely more devastated than the outside.  I’ve been knocked around a few times before, it seems to be an unfortunate recurring intermittent theme which goes with having a vagina.

I will try to keep this concise for brevity sake, as the Dude would say.  I have much more to offer about the back story but for the purposes of what happened last weekend, it’s going to be brief.

bday

That’s me, my birthday (July 12), 2015.  The shirt is ultimate space fleet.  It’s a fantastic shirt.  See the necklace?  That’s a butterfly necklace from Avon.  It’s a simple silver butterfly.  It was my Gram’s.  I’ve worn it so much since she died that the silver on the back has worn off.  That’s a glass of water with a straw in it, my mom’s drink.  You don’t see my birthday margarita.  Or the one or several birthday beers I had.  Without being dramatic, I’m an alcoholic and last year on my birthday, I was in denial and not in recovery.

feb

Fast forward to February 2016.  I’m out of rehab.  Breathing clean air.  Formally ended a long term relationship which was over for me for months but I never meant anything other than good things for him and was mostly disappointed that happiness wasn’t in the cards for us together.

When it isn’t right, it’s not right.  I won’t go into that because it’s not relevant to this story, but it’s a story for another time.

It gets to be summer, 2016.  I think it’s time to start looking for people to share my life with.  You don’t have friends with single friends, and you don’t hang around in bars (anymore) so online dating it is.   Frankly, the last relationship started online and other than it ultimately wasn’t the relationship for us, it was a good way to meet each other.

2016-07-19b

Yep, I look cute.  This was my picture (I think the main picture) on PlentyOfFish.  I love everything about it.  The wrinkles around my eyes, my dimples, my crooked teeth and smile.  I love it because it’s me.  All of me. Not something I’m used to seeing.

Still sober, I met Jeff at Sylvan Beach in July, 2016.  We had a fantastic first date, playing marco polo with our phones until we found each other.  It was a geek match made in heaven.  His main POF picture was him popping out of the TARDIS.  Despite the hour distance apart, I was intrigued.  He’s amazing!  He’s charismatic, he’s thoughtful.  He has AMAZING pets (who I still can’t think of without crying).   Overly helpful, amazing, gracious, completely spectacular.

img_4246

yep, I actually made this and printed it at Kinney Drugs.  Several copies.  I was in heaven, he was so handsome, I felt so beautiful.  It was a literal dream come true.  Squeeeeee!!!!

Without going into more detail, we set our relationship status date to August 7, 2016.  It was our 4th date, I asked him to my sister’s wedding.  For our 5th date, I took him to the emergency room because he had a heart attack.  This shit cannot be made up.  6th date was in his hospital room.  Watched the Battlestar Galactica movie and also a fantastic movie called Bronzed.  Things escalated from there.  My family loves him, his mom seems to like me, his dogs definitely like me, I can’t be happier!  I can’t see a downside to this.  He’s been looking for his geek queen, I’ve always secretly hoped for a sexy king of the geeks to sweep me off my feet.  And there you have it.  There we are.

We spent a day at the dog park with Alistair and Rose.  We spent a day on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad for the train robbery (which he was an actor with in the past).  I attended an alumni event for his former high school with him.  We spent another day on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad checking out the fall foliage.  Jeff took me to my first Comic Con, it was a one day event in Utica.  I’d met his friends, their wives, his friends’ children.  I had seen the light in more than one father’s eyes as he talks about his kids.  I’ve met some of their kids, and they are as awesome as their parents.

mass

Jeff took me to my first regional convention.  SuperMegaFest!!  This is me with two of my favorite artists.  I had an amazing time.  The geek in me absolutely found her home, and never wanted to leave.

…I’ve been so happy in memories, I nearly forgot to bring this story back to present via the back storyline.

Here it is.  Buckle up.  Strap yourselves in.  It’s HORRIBLE.  You can NOT even imagine.

I’m serious.

It’s TERRIBLE.

SHHHHH…….  Don’t tell ANYONE.  I’m serious.  If you read this, you’re sworn to secrecy . Pinky swear.

Yep, that never works, does it.  It never did with me, anyhow.  So, the spoiler is that I had been drinking on the weekends at Jeff’s house.  I’d buy a six pack of Fat Tire (if you’ve never had it, I highly recommend it), and drink that over the weekend.  It wasn’t every weekend, it wasn’t based on anything other than I enjoy the flavor of beer.   But, since I’m an admitted alcoholic and had been to rehab earlier this year, it’s not something I’d advertised.  I’m not engaging in a conversation about it being okay or not, or how it pertains to my sobriety.  That’s a relevant conversation, but not one that has any relevance on this situation.

The weekend of SuperMegaFest I was drinking.  The weekend of Long Island Doctor Who I was also drinking.

The difference between the two, other than the assault?

Again, I’m not going to defend myself with details neither accurate nor relevant, but Jeff thought I got into my car and drove drunk to the gas station to fill it up on Saturday in anticipation of the drive home Sunday.  That is literally what he felt warranted and justified him physically  and not metaphorically throwing me out of a hotel room on Long Island, with any of my belongings he didn’t feel he owned in tow.

I’m not kidding.  I wish I was exaggerating.  That was his reason.  For this:

 

My only regret with this is that when I recorded this the day after I was assaulted, I only thought of it as being thrown around and slapped around.  This is an entire conversation that needs to take place, why we don’t call assault what it is.

Since the entire event, there’s been this creepy silence, an ugly detente.  There’s an entire dynamic of him calling my mom as soon as he assaulted me and schmoozing her into thinking she had to come pick  him up if I didn’t “patch things up with him” and bring him home with me that I’m saddened by.  He refuses to allow me to make arrangements to get my things that are at his house as well as give him back his own things.   I’ve not harassed him.  I left him a voicemail several days ago, texted him several days ago with specifics of what I know is there that I want back, and because of his silence sent him a message via Facebook today.  His response was apparently to block me on Facebook or some other sort of accusation of impropriety as shortly after I sent the message, Facebook was kind enough to give me a message asking me if I needed to take a break.

Despite how much I may want to, I can not and will not attest to anyone else’s interaction with Jeffrey Peter Hartz.  Although I have heard and read things, I know only my own experience.  I do hope that my retelling of my experience may prevent this from happening again, but from what I’ve learned  I don’t have a great amount of hope for that.  My greater hope is for a better discussion about what is and isn’t abuse, and what to do and how to react to it.

If anyone reading this wishes to connect with me, my email is: ShannonLea1218@gmail.com and I can be found on Facebook via the same email address.  Let’s connect so eventually there won’t need to be more than a historical discussion about domestic abuse.

 

Video post because it’s time for a format shake up.

 

I hope you take the time to watch this.  It’s about 8 minutes long.  I know it’s me, but I’ve watched me four times now and I’ve cried each time because it doesn’t stop hurting less.

So much has changed over the past several months, but of everything I can think to write about this is so much more important.

It is NEVER okay to hit someone.

You will NEVER have a legitimate reason to accost someone.

You will NEVER have another opportunity to lay your hands on me in this lifetime and get away with it like you did last night.

I PROMISE you that.

Back after a hiatus, and with a purpose

So, I haven’t posted in several months.  I’ve been dealing with severe depression to the point of suicidal thoughts.  I’ve also been drinking on a daily basis.  Obviously this is a seriously bad situation.

Bipolar depression is an absolute bitch.  I’ve worked with my psychiatrist over the last several months to find a medication which will help with both.  I’ve been prescribed a new medication a few months ago, that has thankfully dragged me out of daily suicidal thoughts.  It wasn’t until I had gone a few weeks without considering how I could kill myself without my family knowing it was intentional that I knew I was improving.

The more recent event, which is technically a multi-year culmination of addiction, is that I’ve decided to seek treatment for my alcohol addiction.

I have a lineage of significant alcoholics.  I have an addictive personality, and alcohol (beer) is my primary addiction.  Aunts and uncles on both sides of my family have very serious issues with alcohol addiction.  There may be other substances involved, but I can say for certain that alcohol use runs rampant.  I literally was taught by the age of 8 how to pour beer from a tap without too much foam because one uncle had a fridge in his basement with a keg inside and a tap on the outside.  Sometimes I think my catholic Irish heritage promoted having kids to go on beer runs.

My father’s father was killed as a result of injuries he sustained in a fight at a bar.  The official family story is he was beaten for defending a woman’s honor.  The more likely story was he was stepping out with her and someone took offense to that.

Another tale I was told was that the day Kennedy was assassinated my dad, who was 13 at the time, woke his father up to tell him the news.  This was a seriously Irish catholic family.  Supposedly, his dad punched my dad or threw him across the room or something like that, thinking he was being lied to.

My family is famous for tall tales.  I’ve got plenty.  But this isn’t about them.  This post is about my tale, tall or not.

Why am I disclosing all of this?  My significant other, when I told him I told everyone at work about what I’m working on, was “why would you tell them?  It’s none of their business”.  My response is “why wouldn’t I?”

I think this is like coming out of the closet.  I hope that analogy doesn’t offend anyone, because I don’t actually know.  I have a secret, and I’m telling people about it.  It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable.

I am significantly fortunate to have the support of my family and friends and coworkers.  So many people dealing with health issues don’t have a support system.  I’m a lucky one.

So, where are things at?  I’ve had my intake phone conversation with an inpatient rehab facility in the area.  My info has been sent to the clinical department for evaluation, and I’m waiting to hear on their decision as to what the feel is appropriate for my situation.

Updates will follow when I have access.  My parting thoughts are if you are struggling with depression please have a conversation with your medical provider.  If you’re dealing with any addiction, seek help.

the retail life has got me down

I MUST start this post by stating clearly:

“clearing throat”

The posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of JoAnn Stores, LLC.

I literally wrote that down when I had to do an online in-service, because I knew it would come in to play at some point in time.

I will say I debated for a few weeks about stating what craft store I work at, because I know voicing my opinion about anything is going to create a backlash, and throwing the employer under the proverbial bus won’t likely win me any points.

My life so far: when it got to be the holiday buying season, I realized that I needed to increase my revenue if I was going to have any sort of life outside of living paycheck to paycheck.  I have too many bills to cover and not enough dollar wise smarts to do it with.  I thought about jobs I could do part time around my full time job, and since I spent regular time and money at JoAnn Fabrics, I applied there.  Minimum wage later, I started the day before Halloween 2014.

I will also freely say that without knowing it, I have been the customer which gets commented about after they leave the store.  I didn’t know any different, not having been told.  So, in a way, I see this as a sort of P.S.A. about the environment which does not prompt genuine customer appreciation.  Think what you will; I know I will think all sorts of things, good and bad, when this post is done.

The store closes at 9 p.m., but we are scheduled until 10 p.m.  Why is that, do you ask?  Being the customer checking out at 8:59 p.m. and thinking I get to go home the minute you leave?  The employees have to be there before and after closing to pick up the store-also known as recovery (put back purchased/returned/found items), set sales and put up/take down signage, reset the floor plan, and stock inventory which comes in.  Some days there is so much stuff out of place that after 90 minutes of multiple employees doing the bare minimum, the store still looks like someone set loose a fleet of toddlers without supervision.

You found a sale sign from a month ago, and can you still have the sale price?  In the interest of good customer service the answer is yes, but if you see the paragraph above, you may appreciate why things like that get overlooked.

The store I work for allows multiple coupons and accepts competitor coupons.  That doesn’t mean the store is open to give away inventory.  That wouldn’t make good business sense.  You will not get in line and get money back by simply making a purchase with coupons.  You can’t bring in a receipt for something you bought two months ago which now happens to be on sale, and expect to get a refund.  You won’t be handed coupons at the register.  The whole point of coupons are for advertising.  They are meant to bring you into the store, not to give you the deed.

Speaking of coupons, in the digital age, for the love of EVERYTHING which is good on this earth, have your coupons ready before you get to the register!  Often there’s only one cashier.  If it didn’t occur to you to look for a coupon or an app (I’ve had countless people ask me during a transaction if there’s an app for that) which may save you money, let someone else go ahead of you.  I’m not the Geek squad, and I can’t help you figure out your phone.  At best, I know how to use MY phone.  There was no course on how to teach someone how to download browsers or coupons or apps or search engines to their phone so I can type in a 32 digit long code because the scanner can’t read the coupon’s bar code on the customer’s phone.

I am not a seamstress, despite the fact that I can cut and sell you material.  It wouldn’t occur me to walk into Home Depot with a screen shot from Pinterest and expect someone to tell me how to make a grandfather clock, so please don’t come up to an employee and expect we will be able to tell you how to make whatever-it-is that you’ve found on the internet.  We sell the materials, not the product.  We can probably help interpret a pattern, but that’s not in the job description; it’s likely because the people working the store also craft.

If you don’t know what something is called, I can’t tell you if we carry it or if it’s orderable, unless perchance I have a co-worker who can figure out what you’re talking about and can give me specific information to research.  If you’ve bought it at at a JoAnn store before, save your receipt; it has an item number on it which I CAN look up to see if we have it in stock, will be getting more, or can special order it for you.  Again, vagueness is not our friend in this scenario.

The customer survey at the end of your undecipherable receipt?  Yes, we actually want you to go online and complete it.  If you name a particular person for doing their job over and above what’s expected, we do get recognized.  It’s with a scissor pin, but for those of us who don’t have a pin, we envy those who have one (or five) and we do strive to give you a great experience, even if you leave us scratching our collective heads.  If you don’t like something, there’s a good chance we don’t like it, either.  The tall signs which hide the registers?  We think they suck but we don’t have the power to take them down.  The price scanners which don’t work?  Yep, they piss us off but again, we don’t have the power to get them fixed.  The leaky roof which leads to garbage cans all over the store—ditto.  Same thing with the red paint footprint which has been on the floor since before I’ve worked at the store, because corporate won’t pay for it to be removed.

We know our paycheck is ultimately signed by the customer.  For those who don’t, they should.  That doesn’t mean we can meet unrealistic expectations.  At the end of the work day, we are much happier when a customer is appreciative of our efforts even if we weren’t able to help them than we would be for a begrudgingly satisfied customer.  Many of us work minimum wage to pay the minimum bills or (in my case) to cover expenses we can’t meet with our full time job (i.e. student loans).  We all love our job, but that doesn’t mean being human doesn’t frustrate us, as it often frustrates you as the customer.  I work with nurses, teachers, students, EMTs, moms and dads, parents working to pay for a child’s wedding, career people who have made this their life’s work. We want you to be happy, but you would help us by being realistic and meeting us somewhere in the middle.