Gratitude week 130

  1. My daughter’s future MIL and I got together to plan the bridal shower and the meeting went better than expected.
  2. The bridesmaid dresses came in for my daughter’s wedding. It’s hard to believe the wedding is a little over three months away.
  3. Summer! We had a couple of really hot days, so I did break down and turn on the A/C. It’s cooled off quite a bit since then so today the windows are open.
  4. Paul and I went sailing and the weather was perfect. We were able to spend some time at the marina’s outdoor swimming pool.
  5. At the marina, I found a book I really wanted to read and finished my book so I swapped them out.
  6. Yesterday I attended the graduation party for my friend Lisa’s son. We are all grateful he graduated since it was down to the wire. I know how stressful that can be.
  7. I’m grateful to sleep in my own bed. Lisa said I could spend the night but I decided to drive home instead which meant 4 hours of driving. They were having a lot of people stay over and I have a hard enough time sleeping in my own bed medicated. Maybe it’s a PTSD thing, but if there are other people around I can’t fall asleep. I usually have to be the last person to bed and the first one up which is really hard on me.
  8. There was a time when I wouldn’t even consider driving four hours by myself. I’m grateful my driving anxiety is pretty much gone. Lately I’ve even been able to drive over tall bridges. These are things I’ve really struggled with off and on over the years. My dad would terrorize us when he was driving us as a kid and I carried that over way too long into my adult life.
  9. Life in general.
  10. After our power went out our refrigerator started making this really annoying high pitch shrieking cricket chirping sound. It was driving me crazier than I already am. The funny thing is the younger the person was the more irritating the sound was. Sometimes I couldn’t hear it, but my kids could. Or sometimes I could hear it and my husband couldn’t. The refrigerator also got really hot to the touch in certain areas. There was a problem with the fan and I’m grateful Paul was able to fix it.
One of the photos from our sailing trip.

On a mission

I think there are several reasons I don’t like to fly. One of them was my dad was a pilot. For a short period of time he shared a small plane with several other people. But it didn’t last long because it was very expensive. The first time I can remember being in a plane was with my dad and his instructor. It was very exciting. I also remember flying with a friend of my parents who had an airplane and landing strip in his backyard. I remember liking that as well. The people below looked like little dots from the sky.

My dad was very involved with a local aviation club. This is where I think my problem started. My dad was the head of a search and rescue crew. That meant we frequently got calls in the middle of the night about small planes that went down. The phone would ring non-stop for about an hour. Then my dad would spend the rest of the night with a crew searching until they found the plane.

My dad would field many calls in the middle of the night. I’m not sure why that’s when most of the calls came. (Maybe the calls in the middle of the night were the most memorable). There were so many calls I thought plane crashes happened all the time. The phone calls woke us kids up and it was worrisome. It seemed like dad was always on a mission.

Then every year the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) would attract pilots from all over the world to OshKosh, WI. Year after year my dad received reports of plane crashes from this event. Every year he volunteered at the event, but I never went. We didn’t do family things. One time my dad gave me a book about flying. It was the only thing he ever gave me. I think someone gave it to him and I gave it away without reading it.

Other than that, I only flew commercially once as a child the summer I turned 12. We went on a ‘vacation’. Meaning that my Aunt Grace, Luke, and I drove down to Texas with my mom and Matt to the hospital where we left them for the remainder of the summer. Luke and I flew back home with our aunt. It was a scary experience without our mom. It was our first time on a big plane and my brother got so scared during take off that he choked on his gum. The Dallas airport was huge. I think we got lost. Not only was our mom not with us, she wouldn’t be with us for the whole summer which we worried about. I remember crying a lot that summer. But Matt was supposed to come back healed. (He didn’t). Mom wrote us letters from the hospital, but that was about it.

Except for two early experiences of wonder, flying was paired with leaving my mother behind and a lot of calls in the middle of the night about plane crashes.

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!

My 2nd tattoo

So, I did something today. I got my second tattoo. I decided to get The Dark Side of the Moon tattoo on my lower back. I’ve always been a big fan of Pink Floyd, but it is more than that to me. I like the idea of a prism, where you can take darkness and turn it into brilliant light. To me there is something mysterious, or mystical, in the process. The unknown, the unseen with a little mix of madness.

I want to take the darkness in my own life and turn it into something good. Music has always been a great coping mechanism of mine. Those are my thoughts about this new tattoo. Here is a picture.

This tattoo hurt more than the one on my upper arm. To get it I had to sit backwards on a chair. I was incredibly nervous about getting a tattoo. I thought I would have a hard time driving myself to the appointment, but all was well. Now I am already thinking about what I want to do next…

It didn’t last long

I intended to write more than I did this week. Yesterday I actually opened my computer up to write when I got a call from my daughter Arabella. She wanted me to pick her up. She was going to be admitted but the hospital was full so she was scheduled to be admitted to another mental hospital a couple hours later.

Her boyfriend Will was with her but he had to leave for work. She called me to pick her up and wanted me to take her to her car at my parents house so she could drive herself to be admitted. All in all, it was an hour and a half of driving for me. Before she could leave with me, I had to talk to someone about a safety plan. They told me all the ways she was planning on killing herself and wanted me to keep an eye on her until she was admitted.

I drove her to my parents house. She talked about how Will and her were fighting which triggered a depressive episode for both of them. Neither one was doing well mental health wise. Arabella went to pack a few things. My mom came up to me and told me she only slept four hours, that she wasn’t okay herself. It took longer than I thought for Arabella to pack her things. My stomach dropped. Was she okay? I didn’t want to go to her room because I was sure it would be upsetting to me which it was. There was clothes everywhere, empty containers of food, and a bottle of anti-depressants strewn across the floor.

I left as soon as I could with Arabella following behind me. I was worried when she spent too long in the bathroom. I was worried maybe she would find a way to skip her appointment. I tried my best but I wasn’t sure she was going to be alright. It didn’t take long for things to go to shit after our fun weekend away. But this is her fifth inpatient stay within the last two years, so it’s nothing new.

Just the day before my mom came to visit. She brought my brother Matt with. With all the rain we got last weekend, his bedroom in the group home got flooded so he is staying with my parents for awhile. While they were at my house, my Aunt Jan Facetimed my mom so my brother Matt could see her grandchildren she babysits for. She had no idea my mom was at my house right away and started talking about me behind my back in front of me.

My mom has this really bad habit of ALWAYS being on speakerphone and not telling people she is. I almost had to laugh when my aunt figured out my mom was at my house and she was talking about me while I was sitting there. She didn’t say anything bad, but it was funny afterwards because she texted my mom asking if I heard everything and asked my mom if she said anything she shouldn’t have.

Just the week before my mom was on speakerphone with my Aunt Jan while at my house. After awhile she did tell my aunt she was at my house. My aunt said she wanted to talk to me. She asked me when Angel’s bridal shower was because she already bought a gift for her. I felt manipulated by her. She didn’t want me to be a part of family functions but now she wants to go to my daughter’s shower. After everything, I wasn’t even planning on inviting her or any of my aunts really unless that is what my daughter wants. If she does, I’m planning on calling my aunt and airing my grievances but I don’t even want to think about that right now.

Right now I just feel sad. I feel sad because my daughter is back in the hospital. I feel annoyed my mom was more concerned about not sleeping. I think my aunt is trying to control me with gifts instead of apologizing and I don’t like it. It’s okay for us to be rejected by her, but she doesn’t want to feel left out?? I feel angry that my parents or in-laws never helped me with my kids while I was at work. It was just a big free for all while I was gone trying to help my husband run our business. It’s hard not to be bitter about these things. I feel guilty because I do have a lot of good things in my life. I feel guilty for not feeling happy and for focusing on the things I don’t have instead of what I do.

At least I am mindful about how I feel. Maybe I just need a break from other people’s problems for awhile. But sometimes that is hard to do when I feel like I have to fix everything that’s broken.

The old normal, part 6

Before COVID, I spent a lot of time at the gym. I don’t even have a gym membership anymore. How things have changed.

Back in the day, I used to go to the gym three times a week for at least an hour. In the summer, I would run the streets. I did countless marathons, a half Iron, and a 50k. When I first started blogging I wrote about training for my first marathon after reading a marathon training book written by a blogger. At the time I thought I could run a marathon and I could write on a blog, and I did. I even have running in the title of my blog. Over time this blog has morphed into something more than that.

I always thought I would be a runner. I didn’t often see a lot of older runners competing in races, but when I did I thought to myself that will be me someday. Running helped me burn off a lot of my anxiety and stress. I worried a lot about becoming injured because I didn’t think I would be sane without running. I know I have posted before if I couldn’t run someone would need to check on me because I would not be okay.

Then the world changed. When COVID hit my gym closed and all the races I was planning on running got cancelled. Not long after that, I had a 10 day bout of colitis that knocked me off my feet. A month later it was hard for me just to put the laundry from the washer into the dryer. I thought I would never be able to run again. I was able to but I lost most of what was left of my endurance. Then I started to experience joint pain which made it all but impossible to run without being in pain.

I’m not sure what is wrong. It could be a number of things or it could be nothing at all. I have an appointment scheduled with a specialist in May. My doctor thought the joint pain could be related to colitis. I recently read stress and trauma can cause inflammation like I have. Or maybe I overused my joints by all my long distance running. I also saw it could be a symptom of perimenopause. Or maybe I’m getting arthritis like some of my other relatives did. I started noticing bumps on the knuckles of my fingers. But until I see the doctor I’m just guessing.

I started doing low impact workouts but I find them to be frustrating because it doesn’t feel as if I am doing anything. I had to take a step back because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I miss running, I really do but I don’t feel like I will not be okay without it anymore. I don’t need to beat the hell out of my body anymore. But I don’t want to do nothing either. I’ve gained some weight. But is it realistic to think I’ll always be able to keep a youthful figure as I age?

Sometimes now I run into people from my running days. I’ve been asked what race I am training for. It’s hard to admit I am much more of a walker now. For 15 years I identified as a runner. Now it’s just another area of my life I don’t know who I am anymore. But one thing I can say for sure, I can live without running. I am okay. I never thought I would be saying that. Now it’s time for something new. I’m just not sure what that is yet.

Gratitude week 113

  1. Once again the weather forecasters were wrong. Instead of getting a foot of snow, we got an inch of ice with a couple inches of snow over it. The ski trails were closed. So instead of Lisa coming here, I went up north to her house. We were able to go skiing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There was a beautiful cross country skiing trail around a lake that wasn’t too hilly. It was perfect.
  2. I’m grateful that I was able to make the trip to Lisa’s. A couple years back I don’t know if I would be able to do it because I had so much anxiety driving a couple hours.
  3. I had a really nice weekend with Lisa. Besides skiing, we went snowmobiling, sat in the hot tub, made Tik Toks, watched a scary movie, and did our nails. I haven’t been snowmobiling since I was a teenager. It was a lot of fun. I never made a Tik Tok before either. It’s nice to have a close friend who is adventurous and athletic. Back in the day we used to run marathons together.
  4. While we were out snowmobiling, we hiked through the snow to a waterfall and saw an otter run across the snow. I also saw deer running across the lake by Lisa’s house. Winter is a beautiful time to get out and see nature. Sometimes I forget how nice the different seasons can be.
  5. I’m grateful that Lisa and I were able to spend some girl time together. She is a lot of fun and a little bit crazy. She is my friend who has had a lot of trauma in her life and it is nice to be with someone who gets it and is also fun to hang around. We did a lot of talking. It felt like a mini vacation.
  6. I’m grateful to be able to hang out with our elderly friends again. We had a great time visiting Harv and Kate and going to a community theater show with them.
  7. I found a bridesmaid dress for my daughter’s wedding.
  8. The motor ended up going out on our industrial dehumidifier for our pool. We were able to get that fixed this past week. Thankfully they were able to find a part since the dehumidifier is 30 years old and they don’t make that model anymore.
  9. Just a couple more days before Paul and I head to the waterpark with our kids and their significant others. I am getting excited for that. I’m grateful everyone was able to take off of work to go.
  10. This summer Paul and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I have been researching a trip to Yellowstone. Travelling and doing new things inspires me. I am getting excited to start thinking about trips and planning again.
  11. Angel told me that Arabella is stopping by to visit and see her new house. I’m glad my daughters are getting along and hanging out together without me.
  12. February is almost over. Spring is on the way.

The old normal, part 4

One of the things I missed most during COVID was visiting the elderly. Something I looked at with fondness before started to fill me with fear. What if I’m sick and I don’t know it and I end up killing someone?? It’s still hard to erase that fear from my mind.

Last weekend, Paul and I were invited out to our friends new apartment followed by a show at a local community theatre we haven’t been to before. We had a wonderful time. After the show, we went back to their place and visited some more. By the time we got home, it was after midnight. We were exhausted but our friends assured us they were not and didn’t want us to leave. Our friends Harv and Kate are in their upper 80’s.

It’s unusual for sure, but Paul and I have several friends we hang out with that are almost 90. When COVID came around, we pretty much stopped hanging out with them which is sad because they are not getting any younger. I really missed our time with them and didn’t like the new feelings of fear I had towards our friendship with them.

My daughter Angel was helping out a family by caring for a woman in her 90’s over COVID. She also had fear being around her. But nothing either one of us were afraid of happened. What did end up happening was totally unexpected. Angel was going for a walk with this woman when the lady tripped and fell breaking her leg. She has recently recovered.

One thing I did notice though, although there is still some fear involved with maintaining relationships with the elderly, the elderly are so unbelievably lonely. They need contact with other people to be healthy. I’m really looking forward to visiting with them again.

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.

The old normal, part 2

Before COVID, I started to develop a few new promising friendships.

Cara was one of those newer friends. She was beautiful, bubbly, and friendly. She was a month older than me. We shared a lot of similar beliefs as far as religion and politics go. We had several mutual interests such as writing, running, and sailing. We seemed to have a lot in common, so it seemed like a good match.

Once COVID hit, Cara became very outspoken regarding her belief in various conspiracy theories. Microchips in vaccines, the works. Now I’m not the most trusting of the government and like to ask a lot of difficult questions. But in my opinion, I think she took things too far. Everything became very extreme. The end of the world is coming. I felt sorry for her because I saw her living in great fear.

This week she posted how we shouldn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is pagan and evil. This really rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of traditions are rooted in non-Christian practices. Is it wrong for kids to have an Easter egg hunt? Sing songs about Santa? Exchange candy and Valentine’s Day cards? I can understand Halloween, but I just feel like my friend went off the deep end. I can’t live that way.

In some ways it was triggering for me. My mom was very dependent on what her friends thought of her. Some years we were allowed to go trick-or-treating in scary costumes and other years we had to hide out in our house in fear of the devil worshippers. I received a lot of conflicting messages and everything was wishy washy. I wish it would’ve been either right or wrong not dependent on who my mom was friends with at the time.

The other thing I remember is one time my brothers and I were out running errands with my mom and she stopped to get us fast food at McDonald’s. This was something we didn’t make a habit of doing often. On the way home we were going to stop at her friend’s house. My mom told us we needed to hide our fast food bags so her friend didn’t see it.

I don’t want to be judged, nor do I ever want to be in a position where I have to pretend I’m someone I’m not to make friends happy. I don’t want to surround myself with fearful people. I am already anxious enough. I worry about my friend’s mental health, but I’m not sure I want to continue the friendship where we left off.

Does that make me a bad friend? Am I being too picky and judgmental? Are my expectations too high? Should I just focus on the things we have in common and let everything else go? Do we pick up where we left off? I feel like we are different people than we used to be. How do we navigate beyond a time that really didn’t bring out the best in people?