Sunday, October 7, 2018

I believe in miracles....

Sometime in the spring of last year, I spiraled into a very dark place. A darker place than I had ever imagined even possible for me. I have always been fairly dark and twisty, but the spring took its toll on me. I had a student who will one day be famous for creating violence and although I was ringing as many alarm bells as I could, no one was listening. I had to manage him every day and then go home to manage the ever declining situation with my parents. My dad's dementia was making it harder and harder for my mom to control him and she needed help. She's not the strongest person when it comes to life situations and I felt like Sisyphus. I kept rolling things up the hill, stabilizing their situation to find that only a few days later I would be called out to their island again to help.

E got into a week-long summer program in Florida and I was looking forward to Hubby and me driving her out and then spending a few days having some adult alone time. Knowing that small vacation was coming allowed me to put one foot in front of the other just enough to do my job and care for my parents, but not enough to allow me to spend time with friends, or work out or maintain my house.

My parents lost their lease. Then my dad's doctor told me the time had come to consider moving my parents to be closer to me or putting him in a memory care facility. An ocean view apartment in their price range just happened to come available (thanks to a lot of help from some church members) and I forced the move. Unfortunately, it meant losing my small vacation for the third year in a row to my parent's issues since that was the week they had to move. I crashed. Even my husband couldn't buoy me any more. Having been through therapy I knew just cognitive behavior therapy wasn't going to help. I also am allergic to anti-depressants so medication wasn't an option. I also knew that while I have depression, I don't have chemical depression. I have PTSD. I needed something more. I reached out to an LCSW friend to ask her about EMDR and with her support I found someone in my town who had been working with it since it became available, which is longer than most.

My first session with her was intensely painful. I had to lay it all out for her, all the horrible things in my life that brought me to this point. Sexual abuse survivor, child abuse survivor, brother committed suicide, best friend died in child birth, dad had a stroke and now has dementia, mom had a brain tumor and throws me under the bus to ward off my dad's attacks on her, attacked by a pit bull and survivor of a school shooting. She asked me how I was still standing. I could only think of the fact that I wasn't still standing. I was close to giving up.

We chose to do EMDR and work with the school shooting first. Several mass shootings had just occurred and I was triggered. The shooting itself and the subsequent mass shootings had worked their way into my psyche to make it very hard for me to go out for entertainment purposes. I had to take an ativan to go to the movies and it was still a struggle. Hubby likes to go to a bar and see bands and I could make myself go about 1 every 6 times he asked but once I got there, I had to stay close to him and know when we planned to leave.

We spent two sessions on the shooting and it seems impossible but I was healed from that trauma. A few days after the first session I went to the movies and didn't take ativan just to see what would happen. I was able to sit through the whole thing without constantly turning around or wondering what that weird person in the corner was doing. After the second session, Hubby and I went to watch a band. He left to go to the bathroom and a church person caught him before he could return to me. He was gone 20 minutes and there was no panic and no sense of foreboding. I got home that night and I cried from the realization that there was a possibility that I would one day be able to resume a normal life.

I've been through 6 sessions so far. I will be honest, the actual process physically hurts me. I hold my anxiety in my body, so sometimes I feel like I am having a heart attack, sometimes my muscles twitch to the point that I can't use my hands and many times my stomach fails me. There are still very dark days, especially because I repressed a lot of memories and when they come back to the forefront, I want to revert back to hiding myself away and I process them after the EMDR session (it takes me longer than most people to process). It hurts. It sucks. But, and this is the big BUT, my daughter and husband tell me they see a change in me. I stopped laughing and now I laugh often. I refused to be silly because I was afraid of not only being judged, but because I am my own worst judge. Friday night I went out with Hubby and sang to him as he spun me around on a dance floor at a bar. That hasn't happened in years.

I know you might not believe this after I've been so dark and twisty all these years, but for me, EMDR has been a miracle. If you are looking into it and see the horror stories, yes, some of them are true. But I would rather deal with the horror with a trained LCSW and have a chance to leave them behind eventually, than carry them myself and watch my life pass me farther and farther by.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

I Know

What I remember is that once I entered the exam room, the nurse never left. When I had to change into a gown, she turned around and stood silently. If she had to get something, she opened the door and asked for another person to help. She stayed with me until she walked me out the door of the office.

I was sitting on the exam table and she began by taking pictures. She asked me to move my hair off my neck so she could get a good view of the now yellowing bruises around my throat. She asked permission before she untied the gown in the back so that I could lower the neckline to give her better access to the bruises to my shoulders and arm, indents left by his knees.

When the doctor came in she opened a box and started taking items out. She asked me to lie back. I told her she was wasting her time, I wasn't going to report this. She sighed and said, "I know."

She told me that she was going to touch me between my thighs. The nurse took pictures of my wounds where no one should have wounds as my hands made fists.

She inserted the speculum. She told me she was going to have to speak graphically to the nurse. I turned my head to the side as if that would drown out the words, "Serious internal bruising...healing two inch open wound to the...taking a swab to check for diseases."

I told her I knew that having this exam done 4 days after the fact made it virtually unusable. And he was well known in Columbus, I wasn't going to report him.

She kept on doing the exam and said, "I know."

She put my name and information on the box. I had to sign a form but I panicked and repeated that I wasn't going to pursue this. She said, "I know. This will be stored. If you change your mind, it has enough information to press charges. It gives you a choice."

It gave me a choice. A choice I was never strong enough to follow through on.

My attacker works for a large church in Columbus, Ohio. He is well-known. If I posted a picture of him in his 20's on my FB page, most of my friends would instantly recognize him.

No one would have believed me. I drove him home because he was a friend of a friend and he needed a ride. He was drunk and I wasn't. I followed him into his house because he took my keys out of my car ignition and I needed to get them back. They would have said I knew what was coming and I asked for it. Watching the Kavanaugh hearings confirmed exactly what I knew back then.

I had the rape kit, but he had society.

I suffered the attack, but he was a man who had too much to drink and too many friends.

I should have reported him.

I should have allowed myself to be dragged through the mud.

I should have tried to stop him.

I know.







Saturday, May 5, 2018

Do you need anybody....

There's a mockingbird building a nest in the bush outside my office window. As I sit here typing, I can see it flying back and forth in the periphery of my vision. It doesn't like that I am here, but it has committed too much time to building this nest to change locations. The thing is, the nest is also in the bush that runs along the walkway to get to my car. So I know, once eggs are laid and babies are born, I am going to get attacked every single time I try to get to my car. Every time until the family is gone.

In the past 6 months my dad has had 2 more strokes. I didn't think it was possible but his personality has gotten even meaner and more abusive, to me...to my mom...to my daughter before I took his access to her away. Rapid Onset Dementia from a Cerebrovascular Accident they call it. With Alzheimer's thrown in for good measure, just to add salt to the wound.

My mom calls me and asks for help, but won't do anything that needs to be done...things she knows MUST be done. Which leaves the mess up to me.

She let's him drive. He's had 4 accidents in 2 years.

They're losing their lease in June and he is insisting on buying the house even though she says no. I tell her not to sign the mortgage but she says she has to or he will leave her homeless.

I want to run away, to disengage. To let someone else clean up this mess. But there is no one else. It's just me. I am their last line of defense. I am the fixer. I am the person who can not run away from the hard things.

So I am the one who called his doctor to have her send a letter to the DMV to have his license taken away.

I am the one taking a letter from her straight to the magistrate this week to have him declared incompetent to stop him from buying a house when, realistically, he's going to need to be in a special facility for memory care in less than a year.

I have to find them a house near me, move their stuff, straighten out the financial mess he has created because my mom wouldn't face down his anger to look at the bank accounts. I have to face his wrath. I have to have the sheriff be there when I tell him I am now in control of his life so that the sheriff can take him to a 72 hour psych hold when he tries to attack me, giving me 3 days to find the gun he has in the house and change over his financial accounts to my name so he doesn't leave my mom penniless.

She's been verbally and emotionally abused for 50 years, she says. She can't do what I am asking. Tough! So have I, and more so, because when she couldn't take the abuse anymore, she would throw me under the proverbial bus so that he would direct his anger at me and give her a break. I am a real live walking example of abuse.

I started therapy again this week with a specialist in EMDR. After I told her my story, she asked me how I was still standing. She said that she had never heard of anyone living through what I have lived through and be so stable, even though she knows I am not. The anxiety shows itself in an irregular heartbeat and stomach issues.

I talked to my Dad's doctor and she said this is the most difficult situation she has ever encountered in all her years in the medical profession. She called him an asshole. A medical professional called my dad an asshole. It's like a sick victory to have the most tortured parent and tortured past. be acknowledged by not one but two medical professionals within 2 days of each other.

The mockingbird is watching me again. Eyeing me, wondering whether I am going to destroy her home. I understand how she feels.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Deep in the Truth

On my birthday in April, my mom received the news that she had a 5 cm brain tumor. It was round and located between her brain and skull, making it a meningioma the size of a ping pong ball. We live in a small coastal town with one neurologist who was already overbooked, so her surgery and treatment would take place 3 hours away, close to our state capitol. Because the tumor was not immediately life threatening, she booked her surgery for the week after I was done teaching so I could take care of her.

Hubby and E had already committed to going to the family vacation his parents paid for every year, which was fine, but that left me going to the hospital alone with my parents. I thought it would be fine. I thought I could handle it. My dad has had some memory issues since his stroke, but it wasn't until I spent 5 days trying to manage my mother's care and my dad that I realized it wasn't just some memory issues, it was the start of dementia. Wait, I need to change that. It was the start of Dementia. It needs its own accent.

My mom's actual surgery went well. She came through it with flying colors. My dad, however, was struggling to survive in the hospital waiting room situation. He would become agitated with people and call them names. He couldn't walk very far, so a lot of time I would push him in a wheelchair which caused him stress because it embarrassed him. We would go to the different hospital cafeterias and I would have to choose his meal for him because the situation was just too overwhelming for him to make a choice.

The worst part happened while my mom was in ICU recovering. My dad and I had gone to see her as soon as the doctor allowed us, but the day had stressed my dad out, so I wanted to get him back to the hotel where we were staying. The hotel had a shuttle bus and it was scheduled to pick us up at a later time. We went to eat dinner in one of the hospital cafeterias and I took him down to where the shuttle bus was supposed to meet us. We still had 20 minutes so I told him to stay there and I would make one more pop-in on my mom to make sure she was okay.

She was not okay. She was still under a lot of anesthetic, but she was almost screaming in pain about how her leg hurt. I walked into her room to discover that her ICU nurse had taken an EKG and a blood test for cardiac enzymes because her heart was throwing "rawls", or some sort of abnormal rhythm akin to a cardiac episode. She suggested I spend the night with my mom. This immediately sent me into panic mode because I knew my mom was being taken care of in the hospital and I knew my dad would not be able to find his way back to our hotel room and might very well wander around the hotel for hours alone. But I had to make the call. I went with my dad back to the hotel, got him safely to the room and then rushed back to the ICU to be with my mom.

By this time her screaming and complaining had gotten worse and the nurse said she was maxed out on meds. This had been going on for almost 3 hours, so I asked the nurse to remove the compression stocking to see if she had thrown a blood clot in her leg. When they removed the sock, her leg looked like a dog's neck that had out grown its collar. 3 months later and she still has a severe welt in her leg where the sock had turned into a tourniquet and had probably been constricting blood flow since early in the surgery. If I hadn't gone back, my mom would definitely have lost her leg and maybe her life.

Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night. My dad was scheduled to take the shuttle bus back to the hospital at 8am and I had to meet him down at the entrance. At 8:30 he still hadn't shown up when he called me. He told me he thought they had dropped him off at the wrong building (there were 5 buildings in the complex). I asked him what the name on the building was so I could come to him. He told me the name and I almost screamed. He was at a hospital in another city about 9 miles away. Yes, the shuttle had made a mistake, but my dad's Dementia had prevented him from knowing he was being taken the wrong way to the wrong town even though he had been to the brain surgery hospital 4 times before for my mom's tests.

I got him back and things just plummeted from there. I realized I had made a grave mistake in thinking I could handle this situation alone. The nursing staff realized my dad was not understanding them when they were trying to talk about my mom's treatment and they listed me as the point of contact and essentially gave me the power of attorney even though legally I did not have that right.

My mom was released from the hospital 2 days early because the doctor could see just how difficult everything was for me and knew my mom was coming home to stay with me for the next 2 weeks. My mom came home and my dad would go back and forth from his house to mine. He said he wanted to help and not make me take care of my mom myself, but when he was there, I had to cater to him. She needed rest and care, but he needed to be entertained and kept occupied. He would become angry and abusive if I gave her more attention than him. I was also washing his clothes, cooking him meals, making him coffee. He could and couldn't help it. My mom told me he was taking advantage of the situation, but after what I had experienced at the hospital, I couldn't be sure. I was in tears at the end of every day.

My mom healed quickly but for about 3 days after the surgery, she would not stop talking. Her tumor was in the language section of her brain and I think the surgery triggered something. Everyone who visited her commented on it as they were leaving, asking me if she was all right. I assumed she was, but by this time I was so shell-shocked I was just trying to get by.

One night, during the talkative phase, my mom decided to dump on me about her anger at my dad. She told me about all the affairs he had. She said he had been arrested a few years ago for possession of pot and spent the night in jail. About 15 years before he had spent so much money and had so many secret credit cards that were over their limit, they almost had to file for bankruptcy. She told me how abusive he was and how he would talk about her in front of his friends and tell them how stupid she was. I didn't even know what to do with all that information. I certainly didn't think it was fair that she told me.

The day my mom went home, I left with my daughter on a 3,000 mile road trip that we had planned many months before my mom's diagnosis. It probably saved my sanity. She's this insanely bright spirit and you can't be unhappy around her. After two long weeks I could finally breathe again.

But the truth of the matter is, I am now on call to my parents 24 hours a day. Neither one is able to take care of themselves. Together they manage, but I get called in from time to time. And if one passes away, well, we'll deal with that when the time comes.

Anywho, I'm writing this now because of Schroeder. I saw your comment. I don't know what to say.

If you were just checking in to make sure I'm still alive, or to let me know you are, then I offer you Light and Love and hope your life is everything you hoped it would be and we'll keep it at that.

If you were testing the waters to see if there was an opening to our friendship, I can't do what you asked. The trauma you experienced at the theater was your trauma and not mine. I have enough on my plate. It hurt me greatly that you just disappeared from my life with no explanation and when you did return, it appeared to be it was because you needed me to do something for you. I want to believe that's not true. I want to believe you wanted our friendship back first and the need fulfilled second. But it didn't come across that way.

I am at at time in my life were I am hurting and that pain is not going away. I do not have the energy to give to people who do not value me. I value you. I always will. But I have to be selfish. I can count my close friends, who know what I am going through (since I don't tell anyone) on one hand and right now they are holding me up. I know your life has had its own troubles so I am not judging you, but I am being honest. You may not have the energy for me.

I'll just leave it at that. The door is open.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Release the Kraken

I'm in one of those times in my life where I don't want to be nice, or kind, or even remotely civil.

We're having drama at the church, drama I have inadvertently gotten caught up in. In any other part of my life I would just set this person straight who is causing me grief and move on. BUT I CAN'T. I can't because I am the pastor's wife. I have to be kind and quiet and not make waves and let my husband do his best to deal with it through "proper church channels."

Screw the church channels. I want to be like Gemma Teller from Son's of Anarchy and just say fuck it and work from a primal, emotional state. This turning the other cheek crap is bullshit.

Do you know I never say fuck. Never. I'm a teacher and a pastor's wife. The world would stop turning if anyone heard me swear.

FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.

I know this is all vague posting, but I just needed to put it into words and send it out to the Universe. I'm not sure a perimenopausal middle age white woman should hold in such rage.

But, on another note, I got to meet Daveed Diggs. It was an awesome moment in my life.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wrapping my brain around the unbelievable

I know that no one reads my blog anymore. That's on me. I haven't written in a long time, but that's okay. This blog has always just been for me anyway. But I don't know where else to put down all my feelings about what has just happened in our country. And I have a lot of feelings. I've been spending a lot of hours just sitting on the ocean's edge and trying to find some peace in this whole muddled election mess.

So Trump won. That happened. I called that the moment he announced his candidacy. I saw the writing on the wall but I really hoped I was wrong. I spend enough time with little humans who repeat word for word what they hear their parents say about Trump and Clinton that I knew I was in the minority. Well, actually the majority, but not in my state. Over and over I heard that their parents were voting for Trump because they refused to vote for Hilary. The kids kept saying things like "SCOTUS is really important." I would ask them if they knew what SCOTUS was and they gave me blank stares. Hell, my own in-laws voted for Trump because they just couldn't vote for Hilary. They have always maintained that they are tried and true Christians but they voted for the man who wants to keep out refugees. They live in a state that would be in financial ruin if all the illegal immigrants were deported. They spread the hate on their FB page with as much ease as any Non-Christian. I'm a little angry at them, can you tell?

See, to me, this isn't about Hilary or Trump. It's about the Pandora's box that is America. People claim they voted for Trump because they didn't want more of the same. But the past 8 years haven't been the same. Put aside the GOP holding SCOTUS hostage and refusing to pass bills through the House and Senate, things HAVE changed. How do I know this? I am a college educated white woman with a BA who is married to a white man with a Master's degree. I am a teacher and he is a minister. On paper we should have lots of money. But we don't. Hubby went to seminary during the Bush years and the recession hit us very hard. He's considered self-employed, like a lot of the people who voted for Trump, and self-employed people pay a higher percentage of income tax. But, on the 1st of November, we paid off a very large bill that has been looming over us for years (caused by not being able to pay our extremely high income taxes) and have moved squarely into Middle Class. Change has happened. Our country now has marriage equality. We have insurance available to everyone. Yes, I know, it's not perfect and some people have suffered under it, but that's because some states opted out of it. It needed a broader base. But it happened. People who live their lives outside of the societal accepted norms were finally gaining a toehold in becoming part of the conversation.

I don't agree with 75% percent of the things Trump has set out in his Hundred Day Plan. I think he's dangerous. But he's not the first president I have disagreed with. I can live with my fear of his environmental and foreign policies. But today in my daughter's school (85% Trump), a young Clinton supporting girl was accosted by a Trump supporting boy. He threatened her physically with his body. When she told him to back up, he said, "What are you going to do about it, Bitch?" THAT IS WHAT TRUMP HAS DONE! He has given a voice to the people who would suppress other's rights and safety. He has whipped a segment of our population (both Democrat and Republican) into a frenzy and given them the right to intimidate and harass. And yes, I hear you right now saying that these people are just a small percentage of his supporters and they were like that to begin with. I get it... I'm trying to wrap my head around it, to understand it and to forgive the Trump supporters (like my in-laws) who would never physically harm anyone or say anything negative to their face.

But here's the thing, and it's a pretty big thing, those people who Hilary called Deplorables, let's say only 5% of Trump's supporters are like that. The other 95% are God-fearing Christians whose lives have been hard, or who don't believe in abortion, or who just wanted to see the old government regime burn. Am I being fair in my percentage split? I think so. Those 5% are attacking black people, gay people, GIRLS IN SCHOOLS, women, immigrants, refugees and anyone they don't think should be in America. Those people are instilling a high level of fear in a large part of the population. They are dangerous. They are changing the tide of conversation from anti-bullying to bullying as a right.

I have seen so many people say that they know Trump isn't going to do half of what he said during the campaign. It doesn't matter, the damage has been done. For me, it all boils down to this one question: When you see someone being unfairly intimidated, what are you going to do? Are you just going to FB post about it? All of you who have voted for Trump and are taking offense at the backlash, just tell me that you are going to walk up to the immigrant who is sitting in a group of thugs yelling "Build the Wall" and put yourself at risk to protect that person. Tell me that when you see a transgender man being attacked in a bathroom you're not going to just stand there and look away. When my daughter puts her body in front of the girl who is being accosted by the boy to protect her (because that's who she is), are you going to go to their aid, or are you going back away and not take responsibility in your part of this mess that has now become America? When you voted for Trump, you said you were okay with his way of speaking. You said you accepted the loss of other's civil rights for your comfort...not safety...COMFORT. If you are a Trump supporter who says to me I will stand with you when you protect the disadvantaged, you and I are good. I know I sound like I am being sarcastic and judgmental right now, but please believe me, I am not. I NEED to know that you are not one of the 5% and that you will rise up when this all goes so bad. I need to know that as a teacher I am not raising little humans who believe kindness is weakness.

I'm not being a sore loser. I am a scared loser. I am the daughter of an immigrant who was taught never to sit if the flag was passing by in a parade. I don't want to live in any other country. I just don't know who this country is anymore.










Sunday, September 13, 2015

You've got to rise up....

I met with the Board. The meeting started as an all-out attack on me. They don't think anything I stated is discrimination or disparate treatment. It was pretty painful. They didn't deny any of the things I said, they just said that my boss is a jerk to everyone, not just me, so I wasn't being targeted.

It took me about 15 minutes of being attacked to gather my courage and find my voice. Those of you who have been reading since CountryTime know I struggle with fighting back. Sucking it up, turning the other cheek, allowing the abuse, all of those things I am good at; but standing up for myself? Not so much.

This whole year of my life seems to be about teaching me to stand up. The day my dad had a stroke, I had to stand up to my mom and my dad's doctors to get him appropriate medical treatment. The day the pit bull attacked me, I had to stand up to the dog's owner who insisted her dog was not vicious. Then I had to go to dog court to prove it again. Drunken Neighbor tries to look in my daughter's window at all hours and I push back so hard I scare the police officer dealing with my case. My boss decides to treat me like crap and I take it and take it until I just can't anymore and I finally say something. But when I say something, I'm "wrong." But even still, I stood up.

Ever since my dad's stroke, we have had a rule that he is not allowed to drive E alone in his car. She may ride in the back seat while he drives if I am in the front seat, but never alone. They have a restaurant they both like to go to on Grandfather/ Granddaughter dates. For a long time he was just thankful that he was allowed to be alone with her because I would drop them off.

About a month ago, my dad caused an accident. He rear-ended another car so hard he caused a 4 car collision. His car came $200 from being considered totaled. My mom was in the car but claimed she was looking the other way and didn't see anything. In essence, my dad and mom said it was not stroke related. It was just a freak accident that could have happened to anyone. I was willing to believe that, but I was not willing to change the ruling on him driving E.

Over the past month, my dad's mental state has been declining. He has always been difficult and combative. He picks on people and always has to correct any slight error one might make. To be in his presence is to be constantly walking on eggshells and managing his temper. It is exhausting. He denies that there is a problem, which magnifies it.

Yesterday my parents came to my house to go to lunch. My dad wanted to take E to the restaurant and started to insist he would drive her. He seemed to honestly forget that we had the rule. Things became heated and my dad's true nature came out. He said I was punishing him for having a stroke, that he was fine, that everyone has accidents and I had three myself. I pointed out that not one of my accidents had ever been caused by me AND the worst accident I ever had involved a woman who had had a stroke just a few weeks before. That woman almost killed me. My dad, true to form, shut down and refused to speak to me.

Hubby came home about that time and my dad talked to him. We ended up dropping him and E off at the restaurant and taking my mom somewhere else. It was at that time my mother finally admitted she was screaming at my dad to stop when he caused the accident. It was as if he didn't even know she was there. He had just zoned out when he hit the car.

So in the short space of 5 days I have been attacked by the Board and my father and pushed outside my comfort zone to hold the line at what I know is right. I have cried so hard this week and struggled against myself so much. The thing is, and this is a big thing, I know that I am teaching E a life lesson right now that was never taught to me. I was taught to just shut up and put up. I was taught that I didn't have a right to stand up for myself. But I am changing that pattern for E. I am teaching her that it may be hard, and it may be mentally exhausting, but there are some things in life you can not bend on and still have respect for yourself.

The Board and I agreed to disagree. They are okay with my boss being a jerk because apparently he is really good at some things they need him to be good at. They don't believe he is targeting me but they guaranteed I have job security no matter what he says. I agreed to keep working there as long as they changed my status from being the sole non-exempt time-sheeted employee with no sick days to making me just like everyone else. When I walked out of the meeting I didn't second guess myself once on anything I said. I had said my peace and defended myself.

When my parents left yesterday, I knew it may be have been the very last time I speak to my dad for a while since he will hold a grudge for months, but I had protected my daughter and taught her that she is a very valued person in my world.

I hate when the Universe decides to teach lessons. I am hurting right now, both physically and mentally from stress. Nothing about this year has been easy. But this I know, 4 years ago I would not, could not, have defended myself. If I had even tried to defend myself, I would have punished myself and cocooned in a dark bedroom and snuck food at all hours. I will admit I have gained back 7 pounds this year, but I have never stopped working out and trying to walk 10,000 steps a day. And 7 pounds is not the 20 I usually gain.

But Dear, Dear Universe, can we just call it even and can I be done with this life lesson? I think I truly get it now.