Today I ate too many Bugles, the corn chip snack, not the instrument. Yesterday I was flitting through the grocery store on a quest for eggs when a sighting of Bugles stopped me in my tracks. Bugles have that effect on me. The last time they stopped me in my tracks was this past Christmas season. I was visiting my sister in Texas when we both spotted the tasty, nutritionally empty specimens at the same time. We looked at each other, and she spoke first, “Remember these? Bugles were the only snack that didn’t make me sick when we were kids.” In adulthood she would learn that she has celiac disease.
Her simple question, “Remember these?” caused my heart to jump because there are many times I cannot answer such a simple question. I have large memory gaps from childhood, and anytime I can actually answer a memory question from childhood I am pleasantly surprised much the same way that Buffalo Bills fans are surprised when the Bills are faring well. The moment I saw those Bugles on the shelf at the HEB grocery store I saw a snack size package of those buggers flying out of a vending machine at the community swimming pool where we took swimming lessons as kids. She would get Bugles, and I would get Boston Baked Beans, the brown candy-coated peanuts. I’ve always been a sucker for snacks with nuts. But that is all I remember about Bugles, that they were part of our post swimming lesson repast as kids.
When I find something I remember as a child I tend to overdo it in my quest to find answers. It’s like the Bugles could be a possible missing key that will unlock more memories that are unavailable to me. And there I was this afternoon with the bag of Bugles unopened on my counter. I thought to myself that I could use a small snack. I should have known better, these were Bugles after all. With every crunch I would close my eyes, and see if anything would come to me in the form of memories. Nothing. I would crunch them cone end first, then cone end down, to no avail. Nothing except an overconsumption of salt.
I’m going to see my sister Cate for Christmas this year! I’ve been singing Christmas carols since yesterday when Cate and I first started talking about it. I think that somewhere in the back of my mind I convinced myself that I was not entitled to have a nice Christmas with family. I never asked her if I could visit for Christmas. I believe I presumed that she was not interested.
It seems like I just eliminated holiday happiness from my list of life possibilities. This year I said to myself, “Why? Why have I decided that the holidays have to be lonely for me? Why do I choose to be alone?” I did not have a satisfactory answer.
I made all these assumptions without even investigating them. The irony is that I was an investigator for a number of years, and I was a good investigator. Perhaps I was only good because I wasn’t investigating myself!
Last Christmas was pretty good, but I was at the residential program at McLean Hospital. I told my sister that I think we can easily top last year’s Christmas since I was at a psychiatric hospital. I think the bar is low. She laughed. I love making her laugh. She’s always been wiser than me, even though I’m older. But, I can make her laugh. She’s a laser-focused type-A personality, and it always feels great to make Ms. Serious laugh.
I just took a chance, and asked her if I could come for Christmas. She not only said yes, but she offered and used frequent flyer miles to get me an airline ticket. I almost cried. I’m turning 40 next month, but I think my birthday present came early this year.
I heard from my sister,Cate, unexpectedly. Previously, I wrote about how we had lost our connection. It turns out that she has been struggling herself with personal issues. All this time, Cindy, my therapist had advised me that Cate not speaking to me was not about me, that it was about the fact that I reminded her of the trauma we went through, and that my PTSD further reminded her of that trauma. She tried to convince me that Cate’s absence in my life was not a reflection of how she felt about me. No matter how hard she tried to convince me of this, I still was left feeling like my sister had had enough of me.
All of this made sense, but I couldn’t buy the entire theory. I just felt hurt, and abandoned by Cate. I thought I was an annoyance in her life. It turns out that Cindy was right. Cindy is usually right. One would think I would have figured this out by now since I’ve been seeing her for a few years.
Cindy has tried to convince me that trauma survivors often think that a sudden absence of a person in our lives is because of us, or something we’ve done. She’s tried to teach me that sometimes people absent themselves from our lives for reasons that have little or nothing to do with us. I think I’m finally starting to get the concept that she’s been talking to me about for a few years. I’m a slow learner. 🙂