Here’s What It’s Like to Date When You Have Anxiety (Negative Thoughts Included)

Here’s one from one of my female readers…

I’ll never forget this moment: I was on a second date with a guy, patiently awaiting the large portion of cacio e pepe I eyed on Yelp six hours prior, when he brought up the concept of anxiety. At this point, I was more into the pasta than I was into the guy, but I had to take my eyes off the restaurant’s kitchen door and focus on the conversation that was about to ensue for a few minutes. “I’ve never had anxiety before. What’s it like?” he asked, genuinely curious. Well, honey, I’m going to assume they skipped this lesson during Dating 101, but this is not the time, nor the place. I stared blankly, proceeded to giggle adorably, and thanked the heavens above to see the waiter holding my saviordinner right in front of me at that moment.

Anxiety is something I’ve dealt with since I was 15 years old, and I’m well aware of the stigma associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), so as ingenuous as this guy’s question was, I wasn’t prepared to answer it. It’s hard to explain what “anxiety” is because it affects everyone differently, and I definitely wasn’t going to attempt to describe the debilitating feeling I’ve had for a large portion of my life to a stranger. Thanks, but no thanks.

I’d be lying if I said anxiety didn’t impact my dating life.

Dating when you have anxiety is, uh, interesting. But before I get into it, I want to again clarify that everyone has a different experience, and I can only speak to my own. My experience is not social anxiety or anxiety about dating (usually), it’s about how my general anxiety impacts my life as a 27-year-old single woman in Manhattan who’s just trying to get her date on. While I definitely think I’m a great dater — I’m on the apps, I like going out (sometimes), I’m an outgoing and positive person — I’d be lying if I said anxiety didn’t impact my dating life.

A viral tweet from Gage DeAngelis perfectly encapsulates this: “My girlfriend has major anxiety issues and it really affects her and I see that, daily. So I asked her if there’s anything I can to do help. Her response? ‘Just let me be crazy and I’ll be fine.’ Yes ma’am,” he wrote. I don’t know him or his relationship, but his girlfriend’s reaction to “let her be” is important. In the modern dating era, I believe that you really have to put yourself out there if you want to meet someone. Whether that’s on a dating app or out in real life, you just have to. For me, someone with anxiety, that comes with listening to my body and my mind, and of course, “letting me be.”

There are weeks when I’m feeling hopeful, and the thought of going out with someone I potentially have a great connection with sparks joy, so I’ll make a few dates and dinner plans with friends. There are also weeks when I need my alone time, so I’ll line up workouts after work to clear my head. There are even weeks when I can’t bring myself to work out because I need to de-stress in the comfort of my own home, so I won’t make any plans that could add to my anxiousness. But the most important thing for me is to listen to my body and figure out what kind of week it is to plan accordingly.

There’s no shame in rescheduling a date if you’re going to be mentally elsewhere during the prime hours of getting to know someone.

Listening to your body and your mind is one thing, but acting on it is another. My anxiety, like many people’s, can be unpredictable — a lovely morning can turn into a panicked racing heart if something triggers me — so, cancel plans if that’s the case. There’s no shame in rescheduling a date if you’re going to be mentally elsewhere during the prime hours of getting to know someone. Anxiety and the negative, racing thoughts that come with it are out of your control, but canceling plans and taking the night to cuddle with a weighted blanket and some CBD to get back to feeling like yourself is in your control.

I’m not a mental health professional, and I’m definitely not an expert on dating (hello, single!), but I’ve juggled anxiety and societal pressures to “put yourself out there” long enough to know this: sitting at a table nodding to a forced conversation when negative thoughts are running rampant through your mind is not going to lead you to your soulmate, or even lead you to an enjoyable evening. Listen to your body, your mind, and “put yourself out there” only when you’re able to be present and able to be the best version of yourself. As for me, I just need to remember that Carrie Bradshaw was a fictional character, and in real life, someone with a fabulous shoe collection, a very active social life, and never-ending editorial deadlines would *probably* have anxiety, too.

 

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Neuroscience of Cannabis & Sex – Part 2

Cannabis and sex

By combining what we know about the contribution of different brain regions in behavior, and the endocannabinoid system upon them, support for the sex-rage propaganda from the 1930s utterly dissolves. Here’s what we know:

  • The endocannabinoid system is one of the most abundantly-expressed systems in the brain. CB1 receptors are found on brain cells in most brain regions.
  • The net effect of THC is to reduce brain activity. However, because of complex networks of brain cells, this may lead to elevated mood states and heightened sensory experiences.
  • Low to moderate doses of THC reduce the activity of brain regions involved in stress and aggression, leading to a calming effect. In cases when the THC dose is too high, it can enhance the communication coming from the brain’s amygdala, a critical region in the fear circuit. This is what contributes to the anxiety and paranoia when you’re “too high”. However, these doses are also generally sedating, so they wouldn’t lead to aggression or “sex-crazed lunacy”.
  • Additional cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant (there are over 100!), such as cannabidiol (CBD), act on numerous targets beyond the endocannabinoid system to have anxiety-reducing and other therapeutic benefits.

Beyond dispelling the myths of the last century, how does our current understanding of cannabis’ action in the brain inform how it can be used for a healthy sex life? For one, we now recognize that there’s far more to cannabis than just THC, and there’s an extensive array of targets in the brain and body that the cannabinoids act upon to convey their therapeutic and wellness benefits.

CBD’s ability to activate serotonin receptors, which is the same brain chemical system targeted by the well-known anti-anxiety drugs like Prozac, can reduce anxiety to break down the barriers to an intimate relationship. CBD also weakly activates CB2 receptors (the second endogenous cannabinoid receptor to be discovered), which is associated with increased resiliency to life stress.

THC activation of CB1 receptors increases the brain chemical, dopamine, which is involved reward processing and the feeling of “pleasure”. However, repeated high doses of THC can actually lead to a general reduction in dopamine levels, which could hinder the sexual experience. CBD can be used to combat this negative effect of THC, as well as other adverse effects, by blocking some of THC’s actions at CB1 receptors.

Here are some quick tips for introducing and integrating cannabis in your sex life:

  1. Don’t eat it unless you are aware of the specific dosage of the edible and how you react to it before introducing a partner. When you eat THC, a large portion gets processed by the liver before it ever makes its way to the brain. The problem is, some of this THC gets converted to the metabolite, 11-hydroxy-THC, which has stronger effects on your CB1 receptors than THC does. This leads to a stronger high, which isn’t desirable if you’re trying to share an intimate experience with your partner. If you become too stoned, you’re more likely to focus internally (not to mention, sedated!) as opposed to focusing on the needs of your sexual partner(s).
  2. Consider using multiple products with different cannabinoid compositions. CBD could be a good pre-game tool to help relieve stress and anxiety, and when you’re more relaxed, you’re likely to be more open to your partner and engage fully. Once relaxed, a THC-rich product can help heighten the senses (but don’t overdo it!) and increase pleasure. Orgasm can also be enhanced by elevating brain dopamine levels.
  3. If you’re concerned about sexual dysfunction from cannabis use, stick to balanced THC:CBD or CBD-rich products. A recent study from Stanford University of over 50,000 people found that cannabis users had more sex than non-users, but this didn’t address performance quality or dysfunction issues. So regarding cannabis’ long-term effects on sexual dysfunction, let’s just say, the jury is…hung.

The Future

Universities across the world are ramping up their cannabis research programs, and the amount of federal research dollars going toward medicinal cannabis is also on the rise. Some of this momentum stems from amassing evidence in support of the wide therapeutic spectrum of the plant, particularly for traditionally treatment-resistant disorders such as certain forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and depression.

The remarkable tolerability of CBD and balanced THC:CBD products, especially compared to many of the available pharmaceuticals, promotes further investigation into how we can maximize the plant’s therapeutic potential. This process has shed light, beyond just clinical disorders, on how cannabis can be used to improve wellness in otherwise healthy individuals. If enhanced, more intimate sex falls into that category, then the benefits of the plant can impact us all.

 

 

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Neuroscience of Cannabis & Sex – Part 1

The propaganda

In the 1930’s, stories and images of sex-crazed youth were a staple of anti-marijuana propaganda. Sex and rage were intertwined with cannabis in biggest the newspapers across America. There were countless reports of intense lust brought on by smoking reefer, inevitably resulting in violence and assault.

One anti-cannabis article published by William Randolph Hearst ( who, at the time, owned nearly 30 newspapers reaching over 20 million subscribers) read, “… a sex-mad degenerate brutally attacked a young girl… Police officers knew definitely that the man was under the influence of marijuana.”

Today, this statement seems outlandish, but at the time, many believed it plausible that smoking a pure plant could result in “bath salt” like behavior.  The general public was taught to fear marijuana— unaware that it was the same drug as the cannabis plant, which had been used medicinally for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Even to those familiar with the species many names, the science surrounding cannabis was meager. Books published 50-100 years prior were still influencing public thought. One in particular, Hashish and Mental Illness, written by psychiatrist J.J. Moreau in 1845, described cannabis-induced fluctuations of emotions, irresistible impulses, illusions, and hallucinations. If you subscribed to Moreau’s view, a sex-crazed assault seemed completely plausible (note: scientists today remain perplexed by his conclusions. Numerous hypotheses involving mixing other drugs have been proposed and debated to explain these observed symptoms, which are extremely rare or non-existent in cannabis users). As we didn’t know how the effect of cannabis on the brain back then, perhaps it could have made you a sex-crazed lunatic.

The implicit message in the W.R. Hearst’s newspapers was that cannabis lowers inhibitions and promotes the execution of sexual urges through violence. This would seem completely reasonable if you were exposed to Moreau’s teaching (from nearly a century earlier!) in addition to the government-fabricated propaganda. It took an evolved scientific understanding of cannabis to overcome this nonsense.

Emerging from the dark ages

The 1960’s was an important decade for the science of cannabis. In 1964, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary high-inducing cannabinoid, was discovered by Israeli scientists. They still didn’t know how it caused people to get high, but like ethanol in wine, people suddenly knew what was affecting their brain. Could THC cause people to become aggressive and capture “innocent youth victims of a new SEX-CRAZE”, as one propaganda poster reported? It was still unclear. Scientists didn’t know what THC was doing in the brain. Of course, there was no actual evidence that cannabis induced aggression or madness, but to many, that wasn’t sufficient.

Just a few years later, the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic opened and became particularly interested in the interaction between sex and drugs of its patients. Their report exposed cannabis to be a sex-enhancing drug, a position that was confirmed by survey reports on college campuses across the country. None of these reports mentioned elevated levels of aggression or “sex-rage”. But, it took scientists over 25 years before discovering the brain receptor through which THC carries out its effects. After this discovery, it became nearly impossible to take the violence-promoting position.

The discovery of the cannabinoid type I (CB1) receptor along with the identification of the body’s own cannabinoid chemicals (called endogenous cannabinoids) in the early 90’s are what led to the acknowledgement that THC merely modulates a system that’s already in place. This receptor is found throughout the brain and has a general “dampening effect” on brain activity. It has since been determined that this endogenous cannabinoid system, through which THC carries out its euphoric effects, has since been revealed to play important roles in everything from regulating mood to inflammation.

 

Neuroscience-Cannabis-Sex-image.jpg

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Is There Really A Difference Between Expensive Vodka And Cheap Vodka?

Walk in to just about any bar in America today and you’ll see a row of fancy vodka bottles all lined up. Some people swear by one brand or another, but there is a federal law that requires all vodkas to be pretty much the same, so the Planet Money team decided to test them.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Walk into just about any bar in America today, and you’ll see a row of fancy vodka bottles all lined up, shining like beacons. Some people swear by one brand or another, but there is a federal law that requires all vodkas to be pretty much the same. That got our Planet Money team thinking, is this the greatest marketing coups of all time? So they teamed up with Dan Pashman of the food podcast The Sporkful, to put fancy vodka to the test.

DAN PASHMAN, BYLINE: Let’s start with Title 27, Section 5.22 of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Code.

PASHMAN: I got it right here. It says that vodka must be distilled or treated until it is, quote, “without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.” Of course it tastes like vodka, but it wouldn’t be vodka if it had distinctive character. Still, a lot of vodka makers insist their flavor’s superior. Grey Goose calls itself the world’s best-tasting vodka. It’s a big claim, which is no surprise if you know anything about the guy who invented it.

MATTHEW LATKIEWICZ: Sidney Frank – he is a classic American businessman and almost a cliche. He came from nothing, poor. He went to Brown. But he only went to Brown for one year because he couldn’t afford it.

PASHMAN: This is Matthew Latkiewicz. He’s a drinks writer and author of “You Suck At Drinking.” He says Sidney Frank was just determined to strike it rich. Frank married into a wealthy family, which got him into the liquor business. Now, back in the early ’90s, the fanciest vodka around was Absolut. But by today’s standards, it wasn’t that expensive. And that’s what Sidney Frank focused on – not the taste of Absolut but the price.

LATKIEWICZ: He essentially out of thin air goes, I want to make a vodka. So Absolut’s charging 15. I’ll charge 30. He didn’t even have a product at this point.

PASHMAN: But he already knew he was going to charge double. And to do that, he needed a product that screamed luxury.

LATKIEWICZ: It’s got to be the best. Everything that is the best comes from France. So he goes to France, and he looks around for distillers. He says, can you make vodka? He finds somebody that says, yes, of course I can make vodka.

PASHMAN: Frank sent his product to bartenders but not in cardboard boxes like vodka is usually shipped.

LATKIEWICZ: He would give them the bottle in these – a wooden box with straw inside and nicely packaged. It would be this large, clear bottle with the frosted glass that when you put it up on the back bar would catch whatever light was there, and it would kind of glow.

PASHMAN: The whole plan worked. Sidney Frank died a very rich man. He sold Grey Goose to Bacardi less than 10 years after he started it for more than $2 billion. At the Planet Money team, we thought that sounded so easy. Can we make our own premium vodka? We learned that a lot of companies actually buy a vodka concentrate in bulk from a handful of suppliers. Then they just add water. So we’ve got a hold of a sample, brought it here into the studio…

(SOUNDBITE OF LIQUID POURING)

PASHMAN: …Added some water…

PASHMAN: …And sent it to a lab along with a sample of Grey Goose and a sample of some of the cheapest stuff we could find. A few days later, we got a call from Neva Parker. She’s the vice president at White Labs in San Diego. She ran our vodkas through what they call a comprehensive spirits test.

Based on that information, Neva, which of these three vodkas would you suspect should be the cheapest, least-desirable vodka?

NEVA PARKER: If I had to choose based on this analysis alone, I would say number one.

PASHMAN: That was the Grey Goose. And the ultra luxury choice…

PARKER: Number three.

PASHMAN: Number three was the cheap stuff. Now, to be fair, Neva did say the differences in all three samples weren’t anything most people were going to taste. She compared the reports.

PARKER: I mean, look at these. They all look very similar as well.

PASHMAN: Very similar – we did talk to Grey Goose. Their global brand ambassador, Joe McCanta, took issue with our test.

JOE MCCANTA: Obviously our product was decanted into another bottle. And when that happens, it kind of compromises, you know, our understanding of any testing that’s done on the product afterwards.

PASHMAN: He also argued that the odorless, tasteless law is more about distinguishing true vodka from vodkas that have stuff like fruit and sugar added. Pure vodka is its own category.

MCCANTA: Every vodka within the category will have its own characteristics, which would be largely attributed to the raw materials used to make the spirit or even the process used while distilling the spirit. So yeah, that’s definitely our take on it. And that’s why – you know, that’s why we feel very proud of our process and our ingredients.

PASHMAN: So our one lab didn’t detect any taste-able differences even with our homemade vodka. And the law seems pretty clear to us. But Grey Goose insists there is a difference. They also invited us to come have a drink with them. We are willing to continue our research. For NPR News, I’m Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful food podcast.

 

 

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Medical Minute: Sex Addiction

Jada Pinkett Smith is opening up about her “unhealthy” addiction to pornography before she met her husband Will Smith.

The 47-year-old actress revealed her addiction on the latest episode of her popular web series Red Table Talk.

Jada said she had an “unhealthy relationship to porn” when she was “trying to practice abstinence.”

“It was actually, like, filling, like, an emptiness. At least you think it is, but it’s actually not,” Jada said.

She said the intense effects of her addiction gave her a false sense of expectations as far as sexual interactions.

“Actually reading, like, some of the effects of pornography, like the idea that it gives you false expectations as far as sexual interactions, I can definitely see that with men,” Jada said.

“In pornography you’re never tired. There’s never a ‘no,’ so I can definitely see how that can create an unrealistic expectation.”

 

What is Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is the repeated, compulsive participation in sexual activity, particularly sexual intercourse or anal penetration, despite negative consequences.

Like most addictions, the negative impact on the addict usually increases as the disorder progresses.

Over time, the addict has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.

Viewing porn or pleasuring yourself daily does not necessarily mean you are a sex addict.

Like food, sex is necessary for human survival. A healthy abundant sex life is normal. In fact, lack of interest in sex can indicate a medical problem or psychiatric illness, according to Psych Central.

About 71 percent of child molesters are sex addicts. Their urges and desires to increase the intensity of their predilection for children is so severe that life imprisonment is the only way to ensure society’s safety against them.

Not all sex addicts become sex offenders. About 55 percent of all sex offenders are sex addicts.

Access to the Internet is increasing the number of individuals – including children and teenagers – who engage in a variety of unhealthy sexual practices, such as viewing porn websites, online escort services and dating websites.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of sex addiction include:

  • Self hate or self harm
  • A pervasive preoccupation with sex or porn
  • Practicing unsafe sex without regard for consequences
  • Sexual fantasies that need to be fed more and more
  • Excessive masturbation
  • Inability to maintain healthy sexual relationships
  • Feeling powerless without sex
  • Exploiting others for sex

Sex addiction becomes a problem when it affects your social life, your job, and your medical and mental health.

People who are distressed or conflicted by their increasing addiction to porn or sex should contact their physician or healthcare provider for a referral to a mental health professional who can help you.

This has been your Medical Minute.

More Info On the Web

What is Sexual Addiction? | Psych Central

Is Sex Addiction Real? | WebMD

What is Sex Addiction? | Healthline

 

DISCLAIMER

Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. Phicklephilly and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following information found on this blog.

 

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The Beach House – Chapter 10

I woke before Mia. I felt much better than I did when I crawled into bed. Mia was still there, and she had slept all night. I carefully pulled my tingling arm from under her neck. She smiled in her sleep, but the even breathing continued. I rose slowly, quietly donned some boxers, and left the room. What I needed was some coffee and space to think. Mia thought her secrets were going to come between us. She could have raped and murdered the pope for all I cared, but it was her thoughts that counted, not mine. The only way past this was to find out what her secrets were and prove to her that I didn’t give a shit. It was past eight so I grabbed my phone and headed outside out of earshot.

“Hi this is Dale Tomlinson. I would like to talk with whoever handles my account.” The receptionist sounded pleasant enough.

“No, I am sure Monica is fine. I just need to know who handles my account.” I guess letting Monica handle everything was a bit extreme.

“Then Bob Farring is who I need to speak with please.” This type of conversation used to piss me off. Today I empathized with the receptionist’s confusion.

“Hi Bob, this is Dale Tomlinson.” Finally I had the right person.

“No, Monica is just fine.” I guess Monica was pretty ingrained into my business.

“You guys use investigators, right?” Now we were moving in the right direction.

“Good! I want you to do a discreet background check on someone for me. Her name is Mia Perez, and I believe she lives somewhere in downtown Capersfield. I know she used to be an RN.” I waited for Bob to write it all down.

“No, not a whole life history. Just her current address, employment, what she’s done for the last few years, etc.” Her long past was probably cleaner than mine. I just needed the more current data.

“Bob, no one but you and the investigator will know about this. Bill it any way you want, but keep it private.” I wasn’t shocked by his next question.

“No, Monica doesn’t need to know about this either. Send me a text when you have what I need, and I will call when I can.” Bob was still a little surprised to deal with me directly.

“Thanks, Bob! You have a good day too.” I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to be pleasant. I went back in the house and started to make some coffee. I knew I had to keep this from Mia. I was betraying her trust and digging into what she wanted hidden. Love makes you do some really fucked-up things.

Mia followed the smell of the coffee into the kitchen. She was again wearing my robe. I was beginning to hate that robe. “Would you like a cup of coffee?” I asked as I sipped from my cup. She thought about it for a moment, then shook her head no.

“I don’t think I’m ready for java just yet. Maybe tomorrow.” She pulled up a stool and sat across the counter from me.

“You slept the whole night. Got to be a good sign.” I gave her a small smile. I was still a little nervous that I might have pushed the envelope too far last night.

“I do feel better.” She smiled back. “Do we have any cereal?” I almost jumped out of my skin. I didn’t think she even knew she used the word “we.” I started looking through the cabinets, trying not to look too ecstatic, not wanting a replay of last night.

“Here! I found Raisin Bran and Cinnamon Chex.” I felt like I had found gold.

“Oh, Chex please.” I went to the fridge, praying that Monica had stocked milk. I found 2%, well under the expiration date. I placed milk and Chex in front of Mia and fished out a bowl and spoon. Why had cereal suddenly become so exciting? Dr. Williams’s conversation came back to me, and I grabbed the vitamins from behind me and placed them in front of Mia.

“Doctor’s orders.” I think I sounded a little motherly. She just smiled and popped the cap and dumped one into her hand. It was the size of a VW. She frowned a bit.

“I’m going to need some water.” She rolled it around in her hand. I quickly retrieved a glass and filled it with water. It struck me that the last person I had ever served anything too was my Grandma. Here I was, grabbing items on command for Mia. I kept the revelation to myself as I watched Mia struggle to swallow the horse pill. She made a horrendous face.

“Do they dip those is shit before they bottle them?” She gagged a couple of times before she took another sip of the water. I laughed at her reaction, which I quickly realized was the wrong thing to do. She pushed the bottle toward me smiling.

“You need your vitamins too, Dale.” It was an obvious challenge. I had no intention of wimping out in front of Mia. I grabbed the bottle with bravado and spilled a pill into my hand. I tossed it to the back of my throat where it immediately got stuck. The flavor began to spread from the back of my tongue to the front. “Shit” was a kind description of the flavor. I guess my expression told the story because Mia burst into laughter. I grabbed her glass of water and drank with gusto. Anything to get that rancid flavor out of my mouth.

“That was horrible!” I exclaimed as Mia covered her mouth trying to hide more laughter. I loved her laughter. It brightened the whole room. I had to find a less disgusting way to generate more. “You have some breakfast. I’m going to clean up and shave so we can go shopping.” I walked around the counter and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. It felt good to share a bit of affection on a whim.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” She seemed a little concerned.

“Naw, never been a breakfast person.” I kept going toward the bathroom. It took about 20 minutes to clean up and locate some sweats that might not make Mia look like a complete fool. I had some T-shirts that had shrunk a while ago. I had no idea why I didn’t throw them away years ago. Good thing I didn’t. They might be the only things that would come close to fitting Mia.

My nose grabbed hold of pleasant scent. I was suddenly hungry, and I smiled my way back to the kitchen. Mia was stirring a pot of SpaghettiOs and heard me walking up behind her. “I have no idea why you and Adrian like this stuff.” I could feel her smile through the back of her head. I sat at the counter.

“It’s packed with memories. I grew up on the stuff.” I waited patiently why Mia filled a bowl and served me.

“Your mom make it for you too?” She leaned on her elbows as I ate the first spoonful. It was as good as ever.

“My grandmother raised me actually.” I smiled, remembering coming home from school with the same scent lofting through the air.

“Tell me about her.” Mia settled on a stool and waited for me to respond. I did. I told her about the most special woman I had ever known. I had never really talked to anyone about my Grandma. Mia listened intently to my words. I left out some of the reasons why I thought of my Grandma’s place as sanctuary. They seemed trivial now. It was so important a week ago, but today, right now, they were just history.

“Is that her on the wall?” Mia was pointing to the small picture hanging above the credenza in the hall.

“Yes, that’s her.” I felt proud pointing it out to someone. She was such a wonderful woman. Mia walked up to the picture and looked at it more closely. It pleased me that someone else would notice the picture.

“I love the butterfly broach she’s wearing.” Mia was touching it with her finger like it was real.

“It was her favorite.” I realized I kind of missed that broach. “Whenever she wore it, I knew she was happy. I think my Grandpa gave it to her.” I wondered where it was now. “I bet it’s in storage somewhere, Monica would know. She is the one who set up the hospice and the funeral and took care of everything.” I had forgotten about that. “That’s when I first met Monica.”

“Your Grandma must have loved you a lot.” Mia stated the obvious as she returned to the kitchen.

“And I her.” I added as I spooned another bit of heaven in my mouth. “It was hard when I lost her.” I didn’t know why I added the last part. I never really shared my feelings about her death with anyone.

“I hope our memories never die.” Mia was staring off into space.

“They never will as long as SpaghettiOs exist.” I smiled and took another spoonful. I could see that Mia liked that thought, stupid as it was. She reached out and caressed my cheek.

“I like the sound of that.” She smiled and started toward the bedroom. “I going to get cleaned up.” I finished my SpaghettiOs.

Mia returned wearing sweat pants obviously too big for her, cinched tight at the waist. She was wearing a pair of my flip flops, the only footwear that even came close to fitting. The T-shirt would never work. It was quite evident that she wasn’t wearing a bra. She went back and returned with two T-shirts on. That was much better. At least her nipples weren’t advertising. Mia thought my concern was silly, but she humored me with the additional shirt.

 

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The Beach House – Chapter 4

“Mia Perez?” I couldn’t place the name.

“Mia was the women who performed CPR on you for over fifteen minutes. They found her naked and quite high on heroin pumping away on you. They tell me it is the only reason you survived.” She almost seemed angry about my survival.

“Should I give her some money or something?” I again wasn’t sure of the protocol in these matters.

“You would give a junkie money? Might as well put a gun to her head.” Monica seemed pissed for some reason. I was a little shocked at her tone. “It cost a lot, but she is currently recuperating in your house. It took a long time to convince the police not to book her for grand theft and heroin use.” Why did Monica’s eyes seem to be so strained? “You are buying a replacement boat to make sure she avoids grand theft.”

“I didn’t steal the damn boat. I’m not buying a new one.” Who does Monica think she is? “What do you mean I have a junkie in my house?” Now I was getting pissed. Monica wasn’t deterred.

“Look asshole, you screwed up my tenth anniversary trip to outfit the house.” Her hands were becoming animated. “I was literally dragged out of bed when I was making it up to my husband when your heart stopped. We weren’t sleeping if you know what I mean.” She was being a bit louder than usual. I didn’t even know she was married. “If Charlie leaves me, or Ms. Perez ends up in jail or back on the street,” she ticked off her points on her fingers, “I will never answer your call again.” She ended up with her hands on her hips.

I was shocked by her tirade. She worked for me didn’t she? I almost told her to fuck off, but the thought of life without Monica was a depressing one. I calmed down. Money was always easy to get. “Okay, okay, I’ll buy the boat and pay for rehab.” That should take care of it. I quickly had a finger wagging in my face.

“No, no, Mister Selfish. You will be solely responsible for her rehabilitation. No hiring your way out of it.” She had a very determined look on her face. “She saved your life, God only knows why, and you owe her more than a brush-off.” She was trying to screw up my life. “You were lucky enough to be handed a junkkie who knew CPR when you needed it. Now you have deal with it.”

“What the hell do I know about handling a heroin addict?” I was confused why she thought this would even work.

“There is a Dr. Williams taking care of her right now. He’s a detox specialist that you are paying a lot of money for. Ask him.” Her hands were back on her hips.

“This has gone far enough.” It was time to put my foot down. “I don’t want a junkie or anyone else in my house, and I am certainly not going to play social worker.” Let’s see if she is willing to give up on my paychecks. She called my bluff.

“Fine! Then this is the last conversation we will ever have.” Her voice was quiet and her expression had lost the anger. She turned and walked toward the door. I was about to let her go when visions of the hundreds of people I would need to deal with flashed before my eyes. Monica was irreplaceable as far as I knew. Life would begin to really suck.

Before her hand hit the door knob I relented. “Monica…” She turned toward me. “I’ll do it!” I felt like I was ten years old finally conceding to clean my room.

“Yes, Mr. Tomlinson.” She smiled and headed out the door. No need for goodbyes.

I returned home the next day with an armload of pamphlets on cardiac health. I had an appointment with a recommended cardiologist in two weeks. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. I feared he would tell me SpaghettiOs were off limits. Of course, if I died, I couldn’t eat them either. Maybe I just needed to stay away from jellyfish.

A young man exited the hall bathroom rolling down his sleeves. “Hi, you must be Mr. Tomlinson. I’m Wally Williams.” He held out his hand. He looked a bit too young to be a doctor. I took his hand and shook it.

“Monica says you’re a detox specialist?” I wanted to verify that I wasn’t going to be doing this without professional help.

“Yep, kind of evolved into the job. I started a clinic in a pretty bad neighborhood. You can say it was on-the-job training.” He seemed pleased with his chosen direction. I sensed he was a do-gooder who was in it for the satisfaction. “I usually don’t do house calls, but I must say, your generous donation to the clinic made me rethink that position.” He chuckled. I tried to not let on that I had no idea how generous I was.

“I’m glad you’re here Doc. I’m kind of committed to seeing that Ms. Perez gets through this.” I tried to sound grateful. I was hoping he would handle the heavy lifting. “I’ve really never done anything like this before.”

“You missed the easy day. Today and tomorrow will most likely be the worst.” His expression became more serious. “It’s like a bad flu with a bunch of very ugly side effects thrown in. Just make sure she doesn’t try to sleep on her back to avoid aspiration of any discharge. It helps to make sure she stays hydrated, especially if diarrhea kicks in.” He was sounding like he wasn’t staying. “I put some Epsom salts next to the tub. If she complains of itchy or crawly skin, put her in a hot bath with the salts.” He was reaching for his suit jacket that was lying over the back of the chair.

“You’re leaving?” I felt like I was being thrown into the deep end of the pool.

“I’ll stop back in tomorrow morning. I left my card on the table.” He pointed to the end table. “Call me if you run into something unexpected.” Obviously, I wasn’t generous enough with my donation.

“I’m really not qualified to handle this, Doc.” I am sure it sounded like I was pleading. I meant it to be more instructive to illicit a guilt reaction. He just chuckled.

“Mia doesn’t need a doctor now. She just needs someone who cares. In a couple of days we can start the real work.” He was heading for the door. I considered tackling him, but discounted it due to recent heart issues. It was just two days he said. I can suffer through it to keep Monica on board.

“Where’s Mia now?” I wasn’t even sure where to start.

“In the master suite. It had the closest bathroom.” He opened the front door. “See you around nine tomorrow.” Just like that, he was gone. It was the first person in many years that I didn’t want to leave.

 

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