Being in a better place

I met with my therapist this week.

She asked me what I thought about living in my old house. I told her that my old house wasn’t anything special but it suited the purpose at the time.

She then asked me what it was like living in my dream house. Did it change me at all? Do I feel like I am a ‘softer’ person? Did I give up some of my determination?

I said that I don’t think I changed at all.

To this she responded, what if you were a healthier person inside? Do you really think that it is going to change you for the worse?

She trapped me in my own thinking.

Maybe I could have inner peace without giving up some of the grit that survival awarded me with.

I did what I had to do in order to survive. But now I am stuck because I know no other way. It suited its purpose at the time, but I no longer need to live there.

Why am I so fearful of being in a better place?

 

 

Write, right?

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t really felt like writing.

Most of the time I have no qualms about throwing it out there. But for some reason this week I’ve felt impersonal. I want to keep my distance and my thoughts to myself. I worry that I’ve already shared too much.

I feel frustrated. My thoughts are fluctuating about my writing. One day I have great confidence. My book will be a bestseller and I can’t wait to chronicle my descent into despair. The next day I want to walk away from it all and not open myself up to be vulnerable to the world.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has been as personal as mine is going to be.

Word has gotten around that I am writing a book. I got a call from a publisher this week. She wants to meet for coffee to discuss my book. She said that memoirs are flying off the shelves right now. She wants me to send her a sample of my book. I am thinking about turning her down, but I am not sure if that is a smart idea. She is a small publisher that mainly publishes works of fiction.

I am not ready to deal with this yet. I want to take my time and write a great book before I worry about finding a publisher. Then I feel bad because I have some good friends who wrote great fiction books and haven’t been able to find a publisher.

The end of the summer, I will be public speaking about being a sibling with an autistic brother. My contact said that once I have my book written, she had someone interested in publishing. I would prefer to publish my book in the mental health memoir genre. Now I will need to reach out and contact them to see what my options are. It is all very confusing as a first time author.

All I want to do is write my book and not worry about anything else right now. The publisher said that if I finish writing a book, I will find myself in the 1% of the population who has. That is rather exciting, but I have no interest in being an author.

I just want to write my book. I’m not sure what I’m going to do after that. I can see myself doing public speaking and being an advocate for families, especially siblings, of the disabled. But I haven’t even done my first public speaking stint yet. Maybe I won’t like it. Maybe I won’t be good at it. The thought of public speaking about something this personal is starting to fill me with anxiety.

I’m not sure where this path is going to lead me and I am filled with doubt. But I think I need to keep writing.

Write, right?

Fortune Cookie Wisdom #19

You have many special gifts, go experiment with them!

I really like this fortune cookie.

But how do you know what your gifts are? I think the best way to find out is by trying  new things.

Last summer my mom retired at age 70. She was really quite miserable after retiring because she really loved her job. She even got an ulcer shortly after retirement. But then she started trying new things. She started a sewing project with her sister-in-law. Once a week, we work together doing genealogy research. She discovered that she really has a passion for history. She wants to start volunteering at the literacy council.

My husband’s step-dad Darryl also retired recently. He, like my mom, has a hard time sitting around doing nothing. He decided that he wanted to be a first responder and signed up to take EMT classes. He also joined his church choir which always practiced during the time he was working.

I wonder what other ‘gifts’ we will discover that we have.

I found out that I love to run when I was in my 30’s and started writing a book this year. I probably won’t be running marathons forever and as of right now I am thinking one and done as far as the book goes. We’ll see where this path takes me.

I am encouraged by the others around me that even in my 60’s and 70’s, I might still find new and exciting gifts.

 

 

May

It is finally here, the month I have been dreading and waiting for.

My son will be graduating this month. Despite his procrastination and grades that are less than satisfactory, I think he is going to pull it off.

Alex has finally matured enough that I think he is going to be fine without us. He told me this week, that although he doesn’t say it often enough, he is going to really miss us and that he appreciates everything we’ve done for him. He also said that although he doesn’t spend a lot of time with us that he doesn’t want us to take it personally that he is leaving. He said that it is time for him to be an independent man now. I agreed. I told him that it was normal to want to leave home once you are an adult.

I am letting go and he is planning on leaving. He told me he isn’t planning on leaving the area anytime soon and will probably visit us a lot. That made me feel happy since my son is not the type to share these things.

Next month Alex is planning on moving out.

This month Angel will be coming home from college. But this summer she is not planning on staying with us like she previously did. She just put in an application for an apartment and is planning on staying here until she can move in. She will live 4 hours away.

Two out of three kids are planning on leaving home for good next month. I will be happy and sad to see them go. It is bittersweet.

We still have Arabella at home. She will be 16 this month.

We are also planning on filling the void by getting a foreign exchange student. Estelle from France will be moving in the beginning of August.

A new adventure awaits!

The ultra training starts

I just signed up for my first 50k.

There is no turning back now. Thankfully, I have until September to train. I will be running the ultra with my cousin.

It has been a cold spring here in Wisconsin. I have only been out to run a handful of times. Today’s high temps are in the mid-40’s and it is raining. Yuck! But at least it’s not snowing.

I was able to run with my new friend from the theater. I doubt we will ever run together again and I am okay with that. She is so much better than I am. What I didn’t know was that this new friend qualified for the Boston Marathon 6 times and ran it twice. She even ran something like 10 miles the day she gave birth. Talk about hard core!

She is a couple years younger than me as well which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is in the racing world. Maybe if I was 20 years younger than her, I would be able to keep up. That might even be pushing it.

Now that I am almost 45, I don’t have the stamina I used to.

I had a really bad run outside a couple weeks ago. I was several miles from home when I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in the suburbs and there was no where to go. I was so tempted to run up to a stranger’s house and ask if I could use their bathroom. How mortifying would that be! Every time I ran, the urge to go was stronger but walking prolonged the journey home. I called my husband to pick me up, but he didn’t answer. There were people everywhere. I finally made it home accident free.

Maybe I need to add Depends to my running supply list! That is the only thing I like about running on the treadmill at the gym. There is a bathroom close by if I need it. It is easier to stay hydrated as well. I finally broke down and bought a hydration belt with water bottles for the long runs outside.

Again, having to go to the bathroom is always an issue outside. Not to mention bugs, pop up thunderstorms, reckless drivers, adverse weather conditions, those horrible hills, chafing, injuries, dehydration, and animals. But that is what also makes for the best stories and adventures that won’t be forgotten. It’s the dirt and the grit. Determination. The testing of the limits. The long runs to think. Enjoying nature when it doesn’t call. The friendships, the camaraderie of strangers, the goodness of fellow travelers along the trail. I love it all!

I am hoping that the training goes a lot better once it warms up outside. Since I have a few marathons under my belt, what is a few more miles? Right?!??

 

Outrunning my demons

Arabella skipped school today. She was very upset and was crying this morning because she did not get cast in the next community theater show.

For some reason, it brought back memories for me of the time I tried out for a community theater show when I was a couple of years younger than her. Maybe it’s just because I am almost to this point in my book.

I remember sitting outside in the sunshine with other children that summer working on my lines. I got the part of a princess. I was a pretty little girl with the sun hitting my long golden hair. I was happy and excited about my part. It made me feel like I really was a princess.

But something went wrong. My brother Matt had to spend the summer in the hospital. I had to drop out of the show because my brother was really sick. (It took me 20 years to audition for another show).

After that, my whole life changed. My brother became home bound after getting out of the hospital. I saw the paperwork for that yesterday. The original paperwork gave him a period of 2 months to be educated at home. But he was home bound for over 3 years. My mom quit her job and pulled my other brothers and I out of school as well. It was the time of the great isolation. Few people were allowed to come in and we rarely went out.

I am making excellent progress on my book. I try to work on it several hours every day. There are usually one or two days a week when I cannot. Right now I am over 30,000 words and am nearing the halfway point in my story.

I’ve decided to title my book ‘Outrunning my Demons’ with the subtitle of ‘What Life is Really Like with a Mentally Ill Sibling’.

I know my daughter is very disappointed right now that she didn’t get a part in the show. I feel bad for her. But in a few days she will be on to something else. She probably won’t even give it another thought a couple months from now. But I will always remember the summer, over 30 years ago, that I could no longer be a princess.

Fortune cookie wisdom #18

All the news you receive will be positive and uplifting.

This particular fortune cookie was received by my husband.

Do you believe in luck? I’m not much of a superstitious person. But I must say that my husband always gets the best fortune cookies. I think if anyone has good luck, he certainly does. After all, he’s married to me. Can’t be too much luckier than that. He he.

Seriously though, sometimes I think rainbows come out of his backside. Many times he has been out fishing or sailing and storms seem to part around him. The sun seems to shine down on anything he wants to do. How can that be explained?

Do you know someone who seems to have bad luck due to no fault of their own? My mom and my son Alex would fit into this category. It is not even supposed to rain and they are the type to get drenched.

Alex just has bad luck.

His car got totaled within a couple hours after he got it.

Alex was almost scammed when trying to sell an item for us a few months back. The scammer urged him to take the check to the bank right away upon receipt before the bank closed for the day. The check was for a lot more than the item was worth. He was supposed to pay the “mover” the additional money when he came to pick up the item. Hence the scammer gets the item and the money. Then the check bounces. My husband figured out it was a scam before any major damage was done.

But it didn’t end there.

There was a bank error that showed there were two bounced checks instead of one. There was only enough money in his account to cover the cost of one bounced check. That caused his account to be over drafted which caused a lot of fines. I went to the bank with all of the paperwork and they said that since it was a bank error everything would be taken care of and his account would return to a positive balance. I thought everything was taken care of even though I still received over draft statements in the mail. Then we got contacted by a collection agency.

I was furious. My son wants to apply for an apartment after graduation. He can’t have any collections on his credit report. I went back to the bank. Apparently they never took care of it the first time. I am hoping that everything has been resolved and that his credit has been restored. Yesterday my son received a random check in the mail for almost $2,000. This time he won’t be cashing it.

He got ticketed for doing cheerios in an empty church parking lot. He lost a job he was promised because he never got the acceptance email. He made it to state one time for wrestling and wasn’t able to compete because he pinched a nerve in his neck an hour before he was supposed to compete. He got injured his first week at a new summer job. I could probably list a few more things.

I think it would be wise to prepare for rain at Alex’s graduation party.

But as for Paul, bad things can turn into something good. For example, the night before we went on vacation we spent the evening in the ER. Paul’s blood pressure was so high that the dental hygienist wouldn’t allow him to get his teeth cleaned and advised him to go to the doctor. When we got back from vacation, Paul had a physical scheduled to finish applying for his captain’s license. When he got to his appointment, they saw that he was recently in the ER for his BP. He was told to cancel the appointment and follow up with his doctor to get the medication levels right first.

If he didn’t go to the ER for his BP, he would have failed his physical. It would’ve been a headache and many months of paperwork before he would’ve been able to finally apply. He is taking his captain’s license application to the post office as we speak. You can bet he won’t be getting a flat tire on the way.

Are there people in your life that seem to have good or bad luck? How do you explain it?

Trauma drama

Last night I was having a debate with Arabella. She said she believes that everyone experiences traumatic childhoods.

What??

So I gave her a scenario. Girl A spent her childhood as an incest victim. Girl B’s most traumatic experience was that she didn’t get what she wanted for Christmas one year.

I asked her if both girls experienced a traumatic childhood. Arabella responded that they both did. I couldn’t believe it. Then she further stated that my childhood was no more traumatic than her own. I felt offended by her comments and am hoping that her viewpoint will change once she matures.

Arabella asked me if I knew anyone with a perfect childhood. I responded “yes” that I believe my sister-in-law Emily had a perfect childhood. Both my brother and I have flashbacks and at times PTSD from our childhood. It has been very painful dealing with this far into adulthood. Emily has been trying her hardest to help my brother through the pain he is experiencing.

The other day I told my husband Paul that maybe he is better equipped to help me than Emily is to help Luke because his childhood was less than perfect. He disagreed claiming that he has his own demons and voids to fill from his own childhood. He said that someone with a firm foundation is better equipped to help someone who is struggling.

Paul grew up without ever knowing his father. His mother was a teenage high school dropout when she had him. She was willing to work, but struggled financially due to her lack of education. She wasn’t very bright, and although she tried couldn’t earn her GED. We also suspect that his mom was mentally ill. She had a lot of symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Paul’s mother Martha was never a boring person. Sometimes she was a lot of fun to be around. She was exciting and when she loved you she made you feel like you were on the top of the world. There was a time when I was absolutely wonderful and I could do nothing wrong. She made me feel special, important, and loved. In those times, she was a very positive and encouraging mother to Paul. She told him he could do anything he put his mind to.

But there were times that I couldn’t do anything right. Everything was my fault. I was a horrible person. At times she was paranoid. She accused me a taking her boots and leaving a pair of boots that were just like hers but weren’t. She would scream and kick us out of her house. Nothing was ever her fault. Someone else was always to blame. She didn’t lose her job because she was always late, it was because someone was out to get her.

She couldn’t handle watching all of our kids if we wanted to get away for a weekend. She called the oldest two kids demons and our youngest an angel one of the few times she watched them. My son locked himself in the bathroom on the last day until we picked them up. Even her one on one time with the grandchildren turned into big fights. She got into huge arguments with everyone she was close to, then the next time she saw you acted like nothing happened at all.

Martha could convince anyone that she should be the mother of the year. She said things that weren’t true, but were absolutely believable because she believed them. I could go on and on. I don’t believe that Martha was a bad mother. She was just mentally ill. In some ways that makes it so much easier to understand and accept. As you can see, Paul has his own baggage. How can he help me? We tend to stumble along down this path together.

Paul and I did the best we could to be the best parents we could be with what we were given. We didn’t get a lot of help and support with our children and at times felt like we needed to care for our parents.

Paul said that Emily is better equipped to help her spouse through hard times because she has a good foundation to lean back on. Being able to relate is overrated. He convinced me and I changed my mind. Now if I could only convince Arabella and change her mind.

Pound away

My daughter wants to lose 100 lbs.

She blames me for her weight gain, and for part of it I blame myself. She was pretty settled into her life when everything changed. I told myself that she would be able to adapt since she is the one that likes change. Plus it was a positive change. Change for the better should be easier, right? To think I thought that the pets would have a harder time adjusting than the humans.

She always lived in the same small house up to that point. She went to the same school where she knew everyone since 4k. She had a group of friends that she fit in with. Plus we weren’t moving far away so she could still see them if she wanted to.

When we moved, everything changed. Arabella started her sophomore year at a new high school. I told myself that it is a nicer school and it is. Some of the kids from her old school decided to go to that school out of district. It’s a bigger, better, and richer school with more resources.

When I drop Arabella off at school, I would say that half of the cars in the student parking lot are nicer than mine. Of course, that probably doesn’t make it easier to fit in.

She doesn’t have as many friends as I hoped she would. She only had two friends over for an hour or two and only went to one friend’s house since school started. She hasn’t been invited to any sleepovers or birthday parties. Meanwhile, her old friends are having sleepovers that she wasn’t invited to.

Arabella eats when she is lonely and bored. She gained about 40 lbs since we moved less than a year ago.

She is right around my height and needs to lose 100 lbs to be right around my weight. I never knew what to do about it. I never had those kind of struggles. We don’t have a lot in common. Sometimes we don’t get along. It seems like we either get along great or don’t get along at all.

It’s really not fair, I have so much in common with my older two children. They never struggle with their weight. In fact, I think my oldest two children are too thin. I haven’t had to deal with this issue before.

It is frustrating because I just want to tell my daughter to stop binge eating junk food. But I know it won’t be that simple. It would be like her telling me not to worry when I am having a panic attack.

I just can’t relate. I’m the type that doesn’t eat much when stressed out. The last thing I want to do is give her a complex by saying the wrong thing. She is loved no matter what, I just want her to know that even if nothing changes.

Last night Arabella and I met with a coach for a weight loss program. What a racket that is! Since she is a minor, we have to get the doctor’s approval first. She wants to start with the most restrictive diet for her weight loss plan. It would involve cutting out dairy and fruits. I am all for it if she has the stamina for such a rigorous routine.

I really hope this works for her. But I think it will be a lifelong struggle. Right now she wants to go to school for culinary arts after high school. I just want her to be at a healthy weight. Right now she is not healthy. She is starting to have back pain. The heavier she gets, the harder it is for her to be active. As a runner and someone who places a high value on health, it is hard for me to watch her struggle.

I am happy that she has decided to take a step in the right direction and will do anything I can to help her achieve this goal. I have no doubt this is going to cost a lot. But it could cost even more not to do anything at this point.

 

 

How I (possibly) stopped someone from joining a cult

I have some good news and some not so good news to share.

The good news is that my son had to work later on Easter than I thought he did. He was able to attend church with us Sunday morning. Of course, I didn’t find out about this until after midnight so technically the wee hours of Easter morning. My husband was scheduled to usher Easter morning, so I worked it all out that our son was going to go to church with Arabella and I to surprise his dad.

The not so good news is that my son hates our new church. He is convinced that we joined a cult. What I failed to mention to him is that we went from a Lutheran church to a Non-Denominational church. Big change.

With our new church we didn’t go through the whole process of Lent. In fact, on Maundy Thursday, Arabella and I were at the theater watching the recorded performance of the musical we were in.

I have been a member of the theater group for over 10 years, the longest standing member in the last show. We would typically get together after a show for a viewing. It was usually a celebratory event. We would laugh, have a few drinks, and just have a celebration of a job well done with all of the work that was put into the show.

This viewing was the most morose viewing I have ever been to. It was like attending a wake. The stage manager said that she preferred that it was not a celebratory event, meaning she didn’t want anyone to bring alcohol. I sure could use a drink to see myself as I really am. I brought beer. I had ONE beer at the theater.

I never did do well doing things that everyone else wants me to do. I have a rebellious nature. I am not a follower. I credit that to my childhood. My brother was called a “retard” and people looked down at me no matter what I did or didn’t do because of him. So I learned not to care what people thought of me. Not being a people pleaser is very freeing. You should try it sometime. But I do not win a lot of popularity contests by not being agreeable. But if that is the price I pay, so be it.

Unless there is a valid reason to do something someone else’s way, I do it my way. I don’t trust other people to make my decisions for me. C’mon, I barely trust myself. I feel like I carry a card, the crappy childhood card, which allows me to do anything I want because of it. I have to make up for lost time. I’m not talking about anything immoral or illegal here. I just march to the beat of my own drum and don’t care what other people think.

There is a woman at the theater that doesn’t like me. How do I know this? At the viewing she came into the theater and gave everyone a hug and told them how much she missed them. That is, everyone except me. She did not look my way or say one word to only me. I had problems with her in the previous show. This was the lady that overacted and upstaged me. She annoyed the crap out of me, but I chalked it up to inexperience on her part and let it go.

Then in the last show, I mentioned that I had a problem with a special needs kid being dumped off back stage who needed more help than she was helping. I felt like this woman passively-aggressively attacked me for saying something about it. She doesn’t like me and honestly the feeling is mutual. I am happy the show is over. I wouldn’t have to deal with her drama anymore. I am getting too old for it. Besides, not spending time with difficult people sure makes me like them more.

A few days later, the woman that I don’t like asked on Facebook about Easter egg hunts in the area on Easter Sunday. My new church was having an Easter egg hunt. I toyed with the idea of inviting her to church. I mean, that would be the Christian thing to do. But on the flip side, I also know that she attends another church and I didn’t want her to start attending my church. I decided not to invite her simply because I do not like her.

Apparently though, according to my son, I probably did her a favor by preventing her from possibly joining a cult. You’re welcome!

No need to worry about me. Good luck though to anyone trying to change me and make me conform into a blind follower. I am not cult material. Just ask my husband.