8 days

Another dream, this time where the past meets the present. My best friend, not even invited. Not by my side as the matron of honor. Never to see or talk to again. I had a dream she was not invited to my daughter’s wedding. How could she be when she was not invited to mine?

I felt the pain of those left behind. Before it was Shelly. She was supposed to be my matron of honor. I was the maid of honor in her wedding. But along the way life happened and screwed it all up. You see, Shelly needed a job and my brother Matt needed a teacher’s aide in his special ed classroom. Maybe that’s where things went wrong. Matt was physically violent and at the time he was a full sized adult.

Matt didn’t like school much and had the tendency to hurt someone when he didn’t want to do school work which was quite often. One day after attacking Shelly at school, the police were called. The police came to school, handcuffed my brother, put him in the back of the squad car, and took him to jail. It was something my mom always warned us about. Watch Matt carefully he is an adult now and if he hurts someone he could get locked away forever. I haven’t been able to get over my fear of the police. Every time I hear a siren my heart races.

My mom was sick with fear for Matt. He was facing assault charges which were eventually dropped because he was incompetent to stand trial. I never spoke to my childhood best friend again. My mom flippantly said, “Oh well, you were going separate ways anyways.” I was going to college and she was working with my brother. But I wanted the choice.

My plan was to go to school to become a counselor. Then I was going to fix my family. That was when I was young and dumb enough to think I could. I already felt the weight and responsibility. If I only knew Matt was going to hurt someone before he did. I could have stopped it. It’s my fault he attacked someone because I was not vigilant enough. If I believed it was my fault, I also believed I could fix it.

I felt guilty on my wedding day because I didn’t want Matt there. I didn’t want Matt to hurt someone. When I got married, Matt was going through some serious health issues and my parents thought Matt could die which intensified my guilt. They got a room for him in the hotel we had our reception at. After the ceremony, which he didn’t attend, we had the photographer come to the room to take wedding photos with Matt. We were gone so long some of the guests chided us about what took us so long as we were coming down from the hotel room.

Now it’s my dad who is not invited to the wedding. I can’t say I blame my daughter for not wanting him there, but it’s still painful. What if people ask where he is? He was pretty sick a month ago and in my mind I thought maybe he would die and free me from the shame he brought upon us. It’s a horrible thing to wish for. As if I will ever be free from the pain he caused me. My counselor said if asked I could tell people he is not well enough to go. If further asked, I could tell them I will talk to them about it later. I am good with the plan. It’s the last thing I want to talk about. It’s my mom I worry about. She has a tendency to overshare and play the victim making it all about her when the focus should be on someone else.

Call me a slow learner, but I just figured out this year I can’t fix people. In fact, I don’t have any control at all. I thought I could fix my family of origin but they are way too beyond broken to be put back together. I can’t even fix myself. I tried to fix my husband when he was drinking too much. I felt like it was my fault. I was responsible for him. It was my job to fix him. How easily it was to jump back into my old role. At times I even thought he was drinking just to hurt me. He has been seeing a counselor too which has been helpful, but I think it will be something he will always struggle with. At times I can’t blame him. If drinking took away my pain, there wouldn’t be enough I couldn’t drink.

He thought he could fix me too. He thought he could be my knight in shining armor. He thought he could bring me out of the dark spaces I hide within myself. He tried to make me happy so he could fix my depression. Why didn’t my fear and anxiety go away? Didn’t I love him? Didn’t I trust him? Wasn’t he something to live for? Couldn’t I just stop feeling that way? Couldn’t he just stop drinking??

We couldn’t fix our parents, both of us having parents with addiction/mental health issues. We couldn’t fix each other. We can’t fix our kids who all show signs of addictiveness and/or familial mental health struggles to some degree. That was a hard lesson to learn. There is nothing like having to watch someone you love hurting. I wanted to do anything I could to take the pain away from them. It’s harder as a parent, especially being the mom, because there is a huge sense of responsibility to fix your children. How often is the finger pointed at the parents when the kids struggle? (I can tell you with a daughter who has Borderline, it’s a lot even from professionals that should know better). It’s even easier to blame myself.

I guess if there is any silver lining in this, we have been waging war against these demons for a long enough time to know how to fight them in the best way possible. It wasn’t the first time someone I was close to wasn’t invited or wasn’t well enough to go to a wedding. My best friend wasn’t invited to my wedding and I never saw her again. My own grandpa didn’t go to my wedding because he wasn’t well enough. I can only control what I can control. It’s not easy, but there is some peace in knowing when to let go.

Fortune cookie wisdom #51

No man is free who is not master of himself.

Wow, nothing like a fun and carefree fortune cookie saying there. This cookie packs a lot of truth. It sounds good, but unfortunately is easier said than done. Who do we know who is truly free?

I want to think I am free, but really is this an obtainable goal? I am but trapped inside of my own body that no longer does all the things I want it to do.

I also think of my friends who struggle with addiction. How easy is it for us to tell them to just stop whatever it is they are addicted to? Just stop then the addiction will be gone. We want to tell ourselves this is the way it works when we see others struggle losing everything they have at times in danger of even losing their lives. Just stop and it will all go away.

I think everyone struggles with mastering themselves, some are just better at it or care more than others. I wish I could be better at managing my worry. Just this week I worried my daughter was lying in her apartment dead because she is sick and hasn’t been returning my calls or texts. Or better yet, I should think happy thoughts when struggling with depression. That will just magically somehow take the thoughts I don’t want coursing through my head away. Or telling someone with insomnia to just try to get some sleep to count more sheep.

I really think that if most people could master themselves they already would. Maybe we will never be as free as we want to think we are.

Up north upset

Why does there always have to be drama with my family??

It started already before we even got up north. I invited my kids and their significant others up north for the fourth. They all said yes. It’s been a family tradition for decades and this was the first time in a long time that all the kids could go. Paul had to work all day Friday. Originally we weren’t going to go up Friday at all, but two out of three of our kids wanted to go up then.

We weren’t going to be getting up north until late. This presented a problem with supper. I was going to be bringing up all of our food and we weren’t going to be up their until at least 8 PM. Dan and Angel and Alex and Lexi were going to be riding up together on motorcycles. They wanted to leave earlier to make sure they were up there before it got dark and had limited room to bring along food. I asked my mom if she had something they could eat when they got there. But she told me they should stop at a bar. Then she said she bought 4 bags of cheese curds for my brother Mark. I was puzzled by our conversation and thought my mom was acting strange. I was also annoyed and wished I had a parent who liked to provide food for her family.

I decided just to make supper for everyone at home last minute. By the time we got up north it was after 8 and my mom was ready to go to bed shortly thereafter. Everyone up there (my mom, my brother Mark, his wife Carla, and brother Matt) was ready for bed at 9. So we moved outside to start a fire and watch the fireworks about ready to start. Mark did not talk to me. My SIL Carla yelled at me to move the motorcycle helmets off the table. That was about it. I felt like they were avoiding us.

During the fire, I found out Mark and Carla were rude to Lexi before Paul and I got up there. My mom asked Mark and Carla if they met Lexi. After being prompted several times, Mark grouchily said yes and walked away. My kids said they did not feel welcomed and that hurt me deeply.

It all started a couple years ago when my mom sent their laptop for Dan to fix and remove pictures from. Dan and Angel found child porn on the computer and took it to the police. That night up north Dan told me he did not feel welcomed by my family. He said it was all his fault too. I gave Dan a hug and told him I was happy he was there and he is not to blame for what my dad did. But Mark and Carla apparently do not feel that way. They treat my dad like the victim and Angel and Dan like they are to blame.

I awoke very early the next morning thinking about telling Carla off. I wanted to tell her about how my dad was abusive towards us when we were kids. I wanted to tell her I couldn’t count on one hand any good memories I had with my dad. I wanted to tell her that he was never nice to my kids, quite the opposite in fact. I wanted to tell her all these things, but didn’t. Maybe things would be different if he was a loving father and grandfather who struggled with addiction.

Instead that morning, Mark, Carla, and my mom went to rummage sales. Carla whipped the car keys at my brother Mark, then yelled at him when he didn’t catch them. I can’t stand how mean she is to my brother, but I’m not sure there is anything I can do about it. Thankfully I see them only a couple times per year.

Also, that morning, my son got ice out of the freezer for his water. Apparently it was Carla’s ice. She yelled at my son saying it wasn’t community ice. My son apologized and said he would buy her some more ice. I wasn’t quite so patient. I yelled as they were going out the door that it was just fucking ice. Later that day they left to go spend time with my dad. The whole experience left me angry, anxious, and depressed for almost a whole week afterwards. I can’t stand when my kids are mistreated for something they didn’t even do wrong. My daughter is getting married in less than 3 months and I don’t even want to invite half of the family I am inviting to the wedding.

Other than that, my kids and their significant others all got along marvelously. It was close to miraculous. I wish I could just focus on that and let the bad slip away. I really have to examine how much time I want to spend with my extended family if they are going to upset me so much.

Dreary days

Today is the fourth dreary and rainy (or some form of precipitation) day in a row. I’m feeling it to the deepest part of my core; the cold, the dark, being locked inside not able to get out and find the light. There is so much trouble in the world, so much trouble in the people that surround me. It never seems to end. It is heavy, denser than the fog.

Yesterday Paul and I stopped at my parent’s house before going out to eat with Matt for his birthday. It is something I have to prepare myself for like wearing a winter coat on a cold day even if it looks like it could be sunny and warm. I will be triggered. It will be hard. Sometimes I ask Arabella what it is like living with my parents. From the sounds of it, not much has changed. My dad roams the house in his underwear. My mom cleans up his messes.

Then there is Matt. Matt can not do complex tasks like washing the dishes, but he can do simple tasks. When Matt is home, my dad has Matt wait on him hand and foot. Matt go get me a cookie. Matt get me some water. Matt hand me my remote. My mom tells my dad that Matt is not his servant. Then mom gives Matt permission to wait on my dad to feel like she is in control. I don’t miss the games, the power struggle between my parents.

The visit home was uncomfortable. Paul said he really doesn’t want to go back again. I don’t either. My parents complain Arabella is messy. She is, yet they fail to notice the own mess they live in. My mom wants Arabella to leave, even if it means moving to an apartment with a boyfriend she has been dating a few months. Before my dad’s crime, my mom would’ve been aghast to the idea. But now there aren’t any morals anymore.

They are all hard to live with. But what’s even harder is to see some of their very own struggles manifested within my children.

That’s one thing we never thought of before having kids. I just looked at the autism in my brother; the violence, the voices in his head telling him to hurt someone. Maybe we didn’t examine our parents enough; their relationships, their modeling, their own mental health. Then add a random bio dad to the smorgasbord of genetic maelstrom. All I can say, as if it’s any consolation, at least what we are seeing passed down is not entirely foreign to us.

It is sad. Sometimes I feel like crying with the rain as it pours down.

One of the most important things I’ve learned over the last couple of years is acceptance. That doesn’t mean I will accept poor behavior. It means it is what it is. I am not going to be able to change things. An apple is an apple even if I want it to be an orange. It also means being mindful of triggers. A visit to my parents house may cause me to feel depressed, anxious, or even angry. If I can prepare myself in advance for the possibility of those feelings, it doesn’t hit me so hard.

Today, though, I just feel tired and blah. Under the weather I guess. It seems hard to focus and form thoughts into words that make any sense right now. This post did not go where I was expecting it to go, but that is okay. I can accept that as well, I guess.

There is no warm up in sight. The weather forecasters are saying it should be warm and sunny, spring like on April 1st. What a joke!

Navigating life

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares.

Why should I expect that to change? The likelihood of no longer struggling with these things is about as likely as me waking up one morning with schizophrenia. It’s probably not going to happen. I was thinking about these things while I laid awake the other night.

Some things have changed. I started taking medicine prescribed by my doctor to help me sleep at night. It works better than nothing. I still struggle with insomnia and nightmares. The insomnia part has improved, but the nightmares have not.

Do you ever have dreams where you are falling and you wake up before you hit the bottom? I don’t wake up anymore until I’m dead. Sounds strange, right? In the last week, I’ve had two dreams where I was shot point blank, heard the sound of gunfire, and woke up after I died in my dreams. The nightmares just seem to go on forever. In one of the nightmares I was shot while I was cleaning my house. I mean, seriously??

Then I got to thinking, people really don’t change either. Most of my childhood I believed my autistic/schizophrenic brother would become normal again. If only we could find the right doctor, the right diet, the right medication. I was waiting and hoping for this. God was going to heal my brother. I didn’t know what this was going to look like. Would he be able to suddenly read and write like me or was he going to start life over in his toddler years. I thought it was going to happen, but it never did.

When my own daughter started having mental health struggles a couple years back, I thought the same thing. If only I found the right doctor, the right medication, the right inpatient program, outpatient program, etc.. Surely an expensive residential treatment facility would do the trick. But it didn’t cure her. It didn’t take her mental illness away. She is not the same person she was before. She will never be that way again. She may decide to end her life someday and I have to accept that and love her where she is at. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

After my dad committed his crime, there was a period of time where I was under the impression that he accepted the Lord and was a changed person. I wanted so badly to believe that was true. I thought maybe he would finally be the kind of dad I always wanted. But guess what? Nothing changed.

If I pray more and have enough faith, then my anxiety will go away. I used to believe that too. Maybe something was wrong with me because when I prayed for my struggles to go away, they didn’t. I don’t believe people anymore when they tell me those kind of things. It sounds like a gimmick to me. God is bigger than that. I don’t see God in that way anymore. I think faith is a wonderful coping mechanism. But I think people do more harm than good by telling others if they do certain things then their sibling, their child, their parent, or they will not struggle anymore.

Miracles do happen, but they are truly one in a million. I’m better off accepting that the way things are will probably be the way things will always be. If I look at it that way, my life makes a lot more sense. Look at the patterns of behavior. It’s very simplistic, but for me it was a real aha moment in the middle of the night. People don’t change. They may grow and mature over time like a baby turns into an old lady. But it’s still the same person with the same strengths and weaknesses with a little more wisdom and mindfulness on how to navigate life.

Honoring the dishonorable

Next week my dad will be celebrating his 75th birthday. It should be a grand celebration surrounded by his children and grandchildren. There should be a cake with candles a blazing, birthday cards, thoughtful gifts, and laughter. But there won’t be any of that.

On his birthday, Paul and I will be going to a Wisconsin Dells waterpark with our children and their significant others for an extended weekend. I planned it that way so I wouldn’t have to think about my dad’s birthday and how a relationship between a father and daughter should be. It’s painful I won’t be celebrating with him. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll call him. I tried to find a card to avoid an awkward conversation, but all the cards talk about love, admiration, honor, and respect. My dad doesn’t bring to mind any of those things.

On a side note, I totally think there is a market out there for shitty dad’s greeting cards. Who wants the sappy love stuff when their dad is a deadbeat? Or it could be for anyone for that matter, an annoying mother-in-law. It could cover all the major holidays so an awkward phone call isn’t necessary so I can feel like a good person although the recipient is a total ass. But I digress…

I talked to my brother Luke yesterday. His daughter Eva has a swim meet near our house and he was wondering if they could stay with us the weekend of our dad’s birthday. I told them they could stay at our house even though we will be out of town. We talked about our dad’s birthday. Luke said he would be driving by our parents house on our dad’s birthday. He wondered if he should stop by, then decided not to.

Luke said our dad never taught him anything. The only time my dad and him ever spent alone together was when my dad was whipping his ass. But beyond all of that, when my daughter Angel found porn on my dad’s computer and turned it over to the police it changed things for all of us. My brother’s daughters are the same age as some of the children in the images. My brother told my dad if he ever wants to see his grandchildren again, he needed to do several things. I can’t remember what all the conditions were. One for sure is that my dad needed to seek counseling. He didn’t do anything my brother asked him to do. Should he go back on that because it’s our dad’s 75th birthday?

His daughters have not seen my dad for over two years now. He said that once he opens that door it will be hard to close it again. I totally agree. We had the same issue with our brother Matt. Matt heard voices to hurt and/or kill our children. I did not allow contact between my brother and children when they were little after he attacked my daughter. Christmas was so hard. My mom would drop off the gifts then leave. The kids would cry. We had to be very careful. That was before Matt went to a group home and was on anti-psychotic meds.

So, yeah, how lucky I’ve been to have a brother and dad we didn’t/don’t want our kids around. I told my brother to just keep driving. I told him not to tell his children it’s grandpa’s birthday. They don’t understand the situation. Because they don’t, they might think their dad is in the wrong for ignoring his dad on his birthday when their dad has been everything our dad never was. For that I am thankful.

We both feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not spending time with our dad on his birthday because we still want to honor our parents. We want a relationship that will never be. Sadly, our dad made a lot of bad choices and we have to accept that and the pain that comes with it. We have to do things in the best interests to protect our children. It’s not the way we want things to be, but that’s the way it is.

So, in recognition of our dad, my brother and I became the parent he never was. I’m going to spend his birthday celebrating that with my own family and my brother will keep on driving.

The old normal, part 3

There was another new friendship I put on hold once COVID started. Again, we had a lot of similar beliefs and shared interests. Now she wants to get together again and I’m not sure I want to.

Where we left our friendship off, my friend confided in me that her husband got really drunk one night and beat her. I don’t think it was an isolated event. She said she would take him back if he stopped drinking. He said he would stop drinking. Fast forward two years later. My friend posted some pictures from a New Year’s party. It looked like she was drinking but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

A couple weeks after that, she posted pictures of them BOTH drinking at a winery and brewery tour. He is drinking again. I JUST CAN’T. I can’t go out with them and have a few drinks knowing it might lead to violence towards her. He didn’t keep his word, and frankly neither did she. I want to be her friend but I don’t feel comfortable about their relationship knowing what I know.

My daughter has a similar friendship and it’s been very difficult for her. Last year her friend’s fiancée got drunk and beat her resulting in a broken ankle. He said he would quit drinking. But the violence still continues. Last week he choked her totally sober. Angel told her she needed to leave but she won’t. Her friend said maybe she provoked it. Plus they are getting married in a couple months. They already reserved the hall and she has her dress. Now is her chance to leave, but she won’t. It’s a lot more complicated once you are married and have children. Why doesn’t she understand that?

Ages ago, I was in an abusive relationship with someone I was engaged to. My fiancée Mac grabbed me by the neck and held me against the wall and shoved me around causing bruises. I got out of the relationship but I was tempted to go back. You see, he said he was going to change. One night we were sitting outside grilling with the neighbors at his apartment complex. When Mac left to go to the bathroom, his next door neighbor pulled me aside. He told me he heard me crying. He said I deserved much better. He told me to leave and not look back. I did and I would tell others to do the same. But what if they don’t? How can you be a friend, hear about how they are being abused, and watch them do nothing about it?

Several years before I was born, my mom left my dad. He shoved her around and bruised her ribs. She left and stayed with a friend. My dad showed up at her work with flowers. He said it would never happen again. He wore her down. Some fifty years later, she is still thinking of leaving. If only she left then, her life could’ve been a different story. It’s painful to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship that they do nothing about. Doing nothing is still a choice.

There were times I remember as a kid when my mom said she was going to leave. My brother Mark pleaded with her to not leave our dad. We jumped in the car with her as she drove around crying questioning herself out loud about what she was going to do. It was stressful and scary as a child because I didn’t have the security that my parents loved each other or were in a loving relationship. It could all unravel at any time. We were afraid of our dad and didn’t want to be alone with him because we were never sure what he was going to do to us. Mainly it was emotional abuse, but he would enjoy terrifying us. He didn’t change. The flowers were a cheap substitute for a beautiful life she could’ve had without him.

That being said, I find this friendship to be triggering and I’m not sure how good I would be pretending everything is fine. I would be open to talking to her but I can’t support her staying in an abusive relationship. I JUST CAN’T.

I believe that change is possible, but not likely. It takes a tremendous amount of work to change especially if you are dealing with other issues such as addiction. There is nothing I can do to change or fix things except directing them to clergy or professional help. Even then, they still might decide to do nothing. That makes me feel helpless, and I don’t like to feel that way towards the people I care about.

Fortune cookie wisdom #41

As a cure for worry, work is better than whiskey.

As someone who is a worrier warrior, I can say that work is a better cure than whiskey. It also leaves you with money in your pocket. Plus you have to admit being a workaholic is a lot more admirable than being an alcoholic.

Back before we sold our business, I really threw myself into work. Honestly, looking back I don’t know how I did it. How did I work full-time, raise a family, train for marathons, and keep a clean house?

I was happy at work when it was busy. Slow days left me with too much time to think. Super busy days added to my list of worries.

I love to keep busy. I love having tasks to complete. Is that so bad? Every day I have a plan. Every week I have a rough plan for the following week. I live my life through routine, structure, and planning. Spontaneity drives me absolutely bonkers. You might think my rigidity sounds a tad bit boring, but I can assure you it is not. Although I am a structure freak, I am also totally neurotic which makes me fun. As proof, no one has ever called me boring. I’m not really sure why.

Now I no longer work full-time, train for marathons, or raise kids. You might wonder if I miss it. No, not really. Now I’ve got whiskey. Okay, okay I am just kidding. It’s been an adjustment, but change is not always a bad thing. I’ve had to learn to cope with my anxiety without being a workaholic. I’ve had to learn to slow down and take better care of me. I can’t always outrun my demons.

There still never seems to be a shortage of things to do. Maybe now I’ve become the project, a work in progress.

Muse ick

My daughter showed me how to view my 2021 review of the year on Spotify. Numbers don’t lie and it showed me myself which can be scary. Angel showed me her year in review and posted it on Facebook along with all her friends. I would never do that. People would wonder if I was okay.

Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I got my first radio in Kindergarten. For the most part, music has been a healthy coping mechanism in my life.

Through my years music has always been there for me. In grade school, I cried myself to sleep at night with the Duran Duran Arena album. Planet Earth echoed my emptiness. The Chauffeur, The Seventh Stranger I felt my aloneness with them.

In high school I found Pink Floyd. I understood The Wall because by that time I had locked myself behind one. Comfortably Numb spoke to me. I could find myself in the depression and numbness without ever touching a drug. I remember when The Division Bell came out. When I got a Spotify account I searched and scoured everything Pink Floyd. I now have 69 songs from them on my playlist. Sadly, there is nothing new to consume. In a few months I am planning on getting The Dark Side of the Moon prism tattooed on my back. That’s about as new as it gets. They are my #2 artist of this year.

Music means the world to me. According to Spotify, I listen to music 88% more than other listeners in the US. I am beyond happy that my daughter Angel has a music degree and my son plays many instruments and started making beats for a rapper.

I could almost say I have a music addiction. There were times I felt guilty about my intake. I destroyed my collections, later to buy them back again. I am extremely private about the music I listen to. I feel shame because I don’t like feel-good Christian or otherwise music like my mom does. I like music to express the feelings when I am having a hard day: the anger, the emptiness, the despair.

Spotify said my music mood is wistful and spooky. I listen to thoughtful hard to listen to music discussing difficult topics like death, suicide, emotional pain, broken relationships, etc.. I really wish I liked songs about grace, forgiveness, love (in a good way), and happiness. There are a few I like but not many. I want to like that kind of music but I don’t. I can’t force myself to. I tried.

This year I found a new band. It’s not really new, but new to me. I found it by watching the MTV videos on Beavis and Butthead. I know, I know. Just remember I wasn’t able to be a kid and my inner child likes it. I keep telling myself that anyway.

The band is called Type O Negative from when I was a teen. Never heard of them before. Some of their songs I don’t care for. But four out of five of my top five songs this year were from them. They are my top artist this year. I am in the top 0.1% of listeners. I’m predicting next year will be lower because they will no longer be new and they don’t have any new music since the lead singer is dead.

Type O Negative has some really difficult songs to listen to because they have some really really hard grief messages. It really helped me process my feelings about having a suicidal daughter, Arabella, and the resulting depression from it. I can’t take the mental illness from my daughter and it is killing me. Life is Killing Me. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt from this band. I recently ordered the Black No. 1 shirt with the lyrics written on it of ‘loving you is like loving the dead’. Sometimes I feel like anyone who could love me is loving the dead because at times I was so numb it was like I wasn’t even there.

My number three song was from the $uicideboy$ entitled Kill Yourself. No strong suicide lyrics there. NOT. My daughter Angel showed me this song. She said after she found the porn on my dad’s computer she became really depressed and started listening to this song. It helped me understand how she feels. Most parents would be worried but apparently I am not one of those parents since I started listening to it as well by myself. But seriously, it’s not going to be on my top 5 list next year. It’s just too dark even for me.

I wonder if there are any other dark people out there like me. Is there anybody out there? Why am I drawn to the darkness inside of myself? Why don’t I like uplifting music? Why do sad songs make me feel good? It doesn’t make sense.

Why do some people like romance and others horror movies? You probably already could guess what I would prefer. Yup, horror.

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t get it. It’s like music is a friend of mine. When I’m feeling sad it cries along with me. It’s always there for me. As an introvert who struggles with depression sometimes it’s easier to pour out those emotions with music than with people.

Maybe I just figured out why I don’t want to share my music with others. If I share my music, I really am sharing about myself and that is truly scary to put myself out there like that. Now I just have to figure out why I am okay putting myself out there here.

Not at my best

I wish I could say that once Paul came back home everything was alright. I want to tell you we were kind and supportive to each other but we were not. Stress does not bring out the best in people. Sadly having a child with serious mental health issues does not build up a marriage as fast as it tears it down.

In some ways I resented Paul for being away for work while I was at home dealing with this crap. I imagined him wining and dining while I was whining and crying. He was joking and having fun at the bar while I was lying in bed at night awake and worried. I suppose it wasn’t like that but that is what I imagined it was like.

Paul started drinking again a week before Arabella came back home from residential. He was trying to quit for a whole year back in December. He didn’t quite make it. There were times over the last couple of weeks I thought he drank too much. At times this was upsetting. Other times I thought it was better than having a heart attack. The stress is too much. It doesn’t bring out the best in us. At times I drank more than I usually do. Because who cares? Who really cares?

Paul was upset with me because I was angry with God. He said I turned away from God. In hard times I seem to have less trust in God while he has more to get him through.

I started to drift away to a place deep within myself to find myself comfortably numb. I didn’t feel anymore, good nor bad. It didn’t matter because there wasn’t much good that I blocked out anyway. I went back to the safe place I lived as a child. Everything became muted. I shut down. I didn’t care about anything. I didn’t want to go to the party I was looking forward to going to for months. I didn’t want to go anywhere and you couldn’t make me go. I listened to the music on my broken playlist I created which contained songs of death, loss, and despair. I noticed one day that I got so numb I didn’t even know what song was playing. I was staring off into space. I was gone.

People kept asking me if I was okay. My best friend asked me how I stayed sane. Who says I am? She was afraid to talk to me about her problems because they are relatively minor compared to what I have to deal with. I don’t like that. I want to be treated like a normal person. It’s okay to talk to someone with more problems than you. It’s okay to feel sad or angry even if you have no reason to feel that way. Friends listen to each other because that’s what friends do.

I was looked upon with wary suspicion by my husband and daughter both whom said their therapists and they were concerned about me. Paul brought me a book home from his therapist called What’s Normal. I guess I can read it and learn what normal people and families are like. Maybe I can even share it with you, but you probably already know.

My own therapist was worried about me. She wanted me to come in every week. She said most people would have a hard time dealing with what I had to deal with in that one week. Although I don’t have an appointment this week she told me to reach out if I needed anything. She knows I like to isolate instead of ask for help. She was the one who told me that people can bring comfort to pain. Woah, my bad I only thought people brought pain. I started to worry maybe they were right and I was not okay. But it is okay to feel angry and sad when you have a really bad week. If you don’t, then something surely is wrong.

When I am in pain I like to sit in the corner alone and lick my wounds. If people try too hard to get in I feel cornered and push them away. I feel hidden in the corner by myself but when others invade my space I feel trapped. I get angry when I think others think I am not strong enough to take care of myself. I spent a lot of time as a child alone mending my wounds.

But this time I realized that shutting down and blocking other people out was not healthy for me. It still hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been easy on our marriage either. This current struggle has brought up past trauma and unhealthy coping mechanisms for both of us. We are trying to work our way through it the best we can together and alone. I think we need to be patient with each other because neither of us is at our best at the moment. How can we be?