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.

Kicking off the new year

I finally was able to fall asleep after the cops left almost 24 hours after I awoke. It wasn’t a great start to the new year. Sometimes I have to wonder why these kind of things always happen to me.

I was starting to feel stressed about New Year’s Eve. I mean, why not?? I was planning on having a few people over. Then I got the call from Arabella that she was planning on coming home which stressed me out even more. Apparently Will’s mom kicked them out and they wore out their stay in Kansas. I had no idea why.

On New Year’s Eve, I awoke to find out Dan started feeling sick the night before. Angel was around him a few days before. We both became extremely anxious. Maybe we were getting sick too. Was the sneeze just a tree allergy or something more sinister this time? We were tired and must’ve taken our temperature a half a dozen times and it was always within the range of normal. Then Dan tested positive for COVID.

I called all the people who were coming to let them know. Basically it was just my best friend Cindy’s family and my own. Cindy just recovered from COVID the week before. Since all of the guests recently had COVID and Arabella still wanted to come home, the party was still on. By this time, I put everything on hold and was now behind on the cooking and getting ready for the party.

The party itself was fine and relatively uneventful. I talked to Arabella more about her boyfriend Will. She said he was a Y2k baby. The world was ending the next day might as well hook up with a random stranger, then 9 months later a baby without a daddy. His mom ended up marrying someone later and had 3 more kids. The step-dad didn’t get along with Will so when he was in middle school they shipped him out of state to live with his grandma. Every Christmas he goes home to visit his mom. Apparently when he goes home there is a lot of screaming and yelling. Then all of a sudden they show up here and I am the world’s greatest mom. I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

The party wound down at 1:30 AM and I was off to bed. My son was also having a party in the garage apartment. From the sounds of it, his party was still going because I could hear the bass drum beating from my bedroom. Paul put his earbuds in and was soon snoring while I laid there awake. An hour later, still awake, I heard noises and a car alarm going off. I got up to look out the window as a car took off swerving around the driveway almost hitting another car. Then the car came back.

Outside it sounded like fighting and someone was honking their horn over and over. I looked over at Paul who was still asleep as I put on my robe. I opened the front door to listen. There seemed to be a problem and I was getting upset. How inconsiderate to the neighbors to have all that noise at 2:30 in the morning. I put on my boots and stormed outside.

There were two guys yelling at a girl I didn’t know who was screaming and crying behind the wheel of the car. Next to those two guys were 5 more guys. I only knew my son and his roommate. I asked them what the hell was going on. They didn’t know. They just said the girl was upset and wanted to leave. The car was running and she was ready to drive off in her boyfriend’s car. No one really knew what to do. The boyfriend was yelling that she was too drunk.

I decided to talk to the girl. She was crying saying she just wanted to go home. She said her boyfriend was mad and accused her of talking to other guys. She said he was in jail before for beating her. I tried asking her questions which she didn’t respond to in order to decide for myself if she was capable of driving or not. She seemed pretty incoherent and I thought she was drunk, on something, or both. She was in no position to be driving.

Everyone just stood there as I was talking to her not sure what to do. I told her boyfriend that he needed to reach into the car and take the keys out of the ignition which he did. It was freezing outside and I was still afraid all the ruckus would wake up the neighbors, so I shooed everyone back into the garage. I was hoping things would calm down, but they didn’t. The woman was still screaming and now flailing her arms at her boyfriend who was yelling back. He was a pretty big guy, bigger than most of the guys there. But he didn’t put his hands on his girlfriend, it was more the other way around.

Then the girl took off screaming and sat back in the car again. It seemed like she was on her phone and I was hoping she would find a ride home. By then it was 3 AM. I decided to try to go back to bed, but laid there staring at the ceiling listening to my husband snore. I worried about the girl. I worried about Dan.

At 3:30 AM, I heard sirens and saw a police car outside of my house. I just about died. I had to run to the bathroom because I felt sick. I called my son who said the girl called the police and he was going to talk to them. The police were there about 20 minutes.

At this time I was in full PTSD flashback mode. When Matt would be physically aggressive towards strangers we tried to get him out of there right away. Mom said the police could arrest him and he would get locked up for the rest of his life wearing a straightjacket and having people hurt him. I had to run to the bathroom again. I was so horrified.

After the police left, I called my son and he didn’t answer. A million scenarios flashed through my mind. What if my son was arrested? What if this girl was drinking underage? What was going on?

It seemed like an eternity later when my son called back. He said he talked to the police and told them what was going on. He said the girl had too much to drink (thankfully she was 22) and they stopped her from trying to leave but she was upset. They talked to the boyfriend and ended up arresting the girl. It was probably for the best. What if she tried walking home or passed out outside and froze to death? Those things have been known to happen around here when people drink too much when it is freezing outside.

Everything was done and I could finally sleep. I looked over at the clock, it was 4:15 AM. I had been up since 5 AM the day before, almost 24 hours. My husband and I woke up at 7 AM. He asked how I slept. I told him pretty good after the cops left. WHAT???!? He slept through the whole thing.

So, yeah, my new year started out a little rough…

Fortune cookie wisdom #38

After a big storm comes tranquility.

I don’t know about you, but after a big storm (or a really stressful period of time) I tend to feel boredom instead of tranquility. I want tranquility, serenity, peacefulness, and relaxation but I usually end up feeling bored and restless watchfully waiting for the next problem. I want tranquility, but I wonder if I would find it satisfying if I ever found it. I almost need some level of stress to function at my best.

Not to mention I have a very low boredom tolerance. Nothing motivates me more than having problems to fix. Maybe I just got used to living under high levels of stress and wouldn’t know how to live without it. Tranquility sounds a tad bit boring. What would be my purpose without struggle?

It’s like telling an anxious person to relax. Maybe some people just aren’t going to relax and that’s just the way they are. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. How many tranquil people do you actually know anyway that aren’t hopped up on some sort of drugs?? Hmm, can’t seem to think of any off the top of my head.

Or maybe I just call tranquility boring and push it away because it seems like an unattainable goal. I haven’t gotten there yet. Maybe I would like it if I could reach it somehow. Who’s to say?

One thing I can tell you is that I am getting sick of the big storms.

Stable for the holidays

Arabella called me the night before the family Christmas party. She told me she started dating Will that very day. She said Will got into a fight with his grandma who he is living with and they needed a place to stay. I basically told them there was no room at the inn.

My brother Luke and his family arrived right before the snow started to fall. We weren’t sure if they were even going to be able to make the trip since snowstorm Amelia was on her way too. Thankfully Luke got out of work early and they were on their way before Amelia made her blustery appearance. All the bedrooms at our house were occupied.

I told Arabella no they couldn’t spend the night. I hadn’t even met Will yet and didn’t hear a lot of good things about him. I didn’t need the extra stress right before family was coming. Plus Paul and I promised each other we wouldn’t take Arabella back in unless we had strict boundaries with her. I couldn’t give in just because she was pleading and begging. Predictably; she started swearing at me, said she wasn’t coming for the Christmas party, and hung up. Later she apologized via text.

Snowstorm Amelia dropped a lot of wet heavy snow on us. Paul spent most of the morning plowing out the driveway. He wasn’t able to help me prepare for the party inside. We ate later than originally planned without Alex (he got called in to work) and Arabella who showed up late.

When Arabella showed up she was friendly and I thought Will was also very personable. The only one who was snippy was my SIL Carla who is always that way. Dan told her off when she started to get too bossy. We opened gifts. Arabella even got us all little gifts. When Paul had trouble opening the packaging on his gift, Will pulled a huge knife out of his pocket to cut it open. I almost had a heart attack, but he meant no harm. I could tell he truly seemed to care about Arabella so I felt more relaxed about him and their relationship.

Arabella talked to me alone for awhile. She told me she wanted me to stop telling people she was delusional. I told her I had no problem with that as long as she stopped telling people I starved, abused, and tortured her.

Arabella said Will’s grandma was angry with him for quitting his job because someone said something mean to him. Arabella said that was okay because now he can help her with her ‘social media’ business. He is a photographer and my mom gave him my grandpa’s camera. I was kind of upset about that. Wouldn’t you ask your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews if they wanted the camera before giving it away to someone she barely knows?

I also heard from Paul that Arabella and Will think his grandma is spying on them and that she bugged his car. At first I thought it could be true. But who would want to bug their 21 year old grandson’s car? And how would someone even know how to do that anyway? I don’t believe a word of it. It’s sad to say this but I am happy she is not making accusations about me anymore. Now she is telling me she loves me again. Our relationship is better than it has been in months. I know that could change any day though.

Last week Arabella drove down to Kansas with Will to visit his family. They spent the night in a tent in Iowa on the way during a tornado warning. Will said he is a survivalist. One summer he spent half of it living in the woods sleeping in a hammock. But staying in a tent in December is just plain strange.

Arabella is going to be spending the holidays with Will’s family. A part of me wonders if they are even going to come back since they both don’t have jobs and have strained relationships with their loved ones at home.

Christmas Day will be quiet without her. Paul and I will be spending the day with Angel and Alex and their significant others. This will be the first time one of my children will be gone on Christmas Day. But at least right now I feel comfortable with where our relationship is at. Things are going really well with all our kids, or at least as good as it possibly can with everything going on.

I feel more at peace now than I did in a long time. Everything is stable for the holidays.

forgotten

Some days I just don’t feel like writing. Other days the words awake me from my dreams. I just don’t understand.

I feel mildly unsettled. Nervous with slight melancholy. Maybe it’s the weather. It’s hasn’t been this windy in years. Last night there was a thunderstorm. The rains washed most of the snow away. I watched the weather last night and they spoke of possible tornadoes. Strange weather for December. Maybe the world is ending.

It feels as if I am waiting for something to happen but what I don’t know. I just don’t care anymore. I feel blah. Is that a feeling?

Life marches on. Where is my path? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do anymore. Does it even matter or make a difference? Won’t we all be forgotten someday anyway?

Is life just focusing on the next problem? Who am I in the lull time? I don’t feel calm, relaxed, peaceful. I feel empty and bored.

In watchfulness, I wonder where I will take the next blow. My mind an angry endless loop of past hurts. How do I escape the circle? How do I break the cycle?

How do I move past this with nothing left to draw upon? My reserves exhausted. Not much there to begin with. Who was I before this all began? I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Please wake me from this dream. Set me on fire to write again when I awake.

Gratitude week 102

  1. I renewed my WP account, so you are probably stuck with me for at least another year.
  2. I survived the family Christmas party!! Everyone was on their best behavior.
  3. I met Arabella’s new boyfriend and he seems nice.
  4. Thankfully, despite the snowstorm, my brothers were able to make the long trip to my house. Luke and his family stayed the night before making it over right before the storm started.
  5. I’m grateful the boiler worked for the party. The kids were able to swim and have fun. The heating/cooling guy literally fixed it and left as our guests were arriving.
  6. My mom totally surprised me with a record player for Christmas. It also has a CD and tape player. It was a lot of fun to grab my old collection of records and tapes to play since music means so much to me.
  7. I gave my old friend Lisa a call after I had a dream about her. It was great to talk and catch up. Lisa and Tom are going to come over next weekend. It’s been a couple years since I saw them last.
  8. Watching my favorite Christmas movie, The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
  9. Feeling a lot less stressed.
  10. I cleaned out Arabella’s room so my niece’s could sleep there. It looks great!
  11. After the party was over, Paul and I played games and laughed with Angel and Alex and their significant others.
  12. I’m grateful for the new church we are visiting. The best part is that it’s literally two minutes from our house. The pastor has been meeting with us and answering the difficult questions I’ve been throwing his way.
  13. I’m grateful all my kids are in relationships they seem happy in. Not only that, but I think they are all in good relationships for them.

Doing alright now

I’m doing a lot better now. I think I was having an episode of PTSD. I can tell the difference between that and regular anxiety.

Yesterday I cleaned out Arabella’s room. That in and of itself is very triggering for me. I am happy with the end product, but still. In her room I was reminded of something rather innocent, little flavored drink jugs my mom bought me as a treat for going to the store with her. Arabella had some in her room.

What it triggered in me was the memory of going places with my mom and brother Matt. My mom rarely took Matt out in public alone. She also wanted him to be included in everything a normal kid would do. Since I liked to go to the roller rink, Matt should go too. It wasn’t just that but my mom didn’t like to leave Matt at home by himself without someone watching him.

Trips out with Matt usually included Matt attacking someone. We tried to be hypervigilant of the signs and get him out of wherever we were, but sometimes that was just not possible. Sometimes we had to stake out the place for little girls. We tried to find places where they weren’t. Or if we saw little girls, we would have to leave. Matt heard voices that told him to attack them. Sometimes we would hold his hands, mom on one side me on the other. If we held his hands, he couldn’t use them.

Most commonly, he would grab little girls by their hair and pull. Sometimes he would hit or kick them. We would have to try to pull him off of them while their parents screamed at us. Fun times. One time he was terrified of men with beards and would throw huge tantrums where my mother had to hold him down in the store. Sometimes we had to abandon our cart and go home. Sometimes Matt would attack us on the car ride home.

I was triggered and went into a prolonged state of terror. I think it was the perfect storm. Stress from family coming for the holidays. I became extremely agitated. I paced the floors. Despite the sleeping pill, I awoke in the middle of the night panicking.

Here is what happened to me today. I felt incredibly terrified, in fight or flight mode. My mind was racing very fast but my body felt sluggish. I had a hard time keeping a coherent thought. I was hyper-vigilant to every noise. I thought I would scream if someone touched me, expected or not. I became paranoid. I thought I heard fighting in another room. I was worried I had to protect my daughter Angel from harm. Was she in danger? Neutral expressions were taken as a threat.

I was in intense terror. It was different from a panic attack in this way. There was no build up, panic attack, and then relief. It was a continuous level of heightened terror. Once I was aware of what was going on, I had to calm myself by telling myself that I was safe, everyone else was safe, and things were going to be okay and if they were not I could handle it like I’ve done countless times before.

My brother Luke is on his way here with his family. He is trying to beat the storm. We are going to make some burgers tonight. I’m going to have my son and his girlfriend over because my son will most likely have to work tomorrow doing snow removal and miss most of the party.

I am safe. I’m not responsible for anyone but me. I can’t fix the things that are broken. I have to take care of me. Sometimes I have PTSD. It just usually doesn’t hit me this hard.

What a mess! Holiday stress

Last night I got a call from Arabella. She told me she loved and missed me. She told me she was coming to the Christmas party this weekend and she wanted to bring Will along. When I expressed hesitance, she told me he was her boyfriend. I said I didn’t meet him yet, I didn’t get him any gifts. But she knew she had me at boyfriend. I always told my kids significant others were welcome during the holidays.

Arabella asked if she could give me her gifts this weekend. I told her that would be fine but asked her why. She said she was going to visit Will’s family out of state for three weeks for the holidays. She said she didn’t get me any gifts yet though. I told her she didn’t have to.

She asked how I was doing. The conversation seemed comfortable and normal like speaking to an old friend. Arabella said she was gaining weight because she stopped taking all of her medications, even the one for her thyroid. She said she wanted to get all new doctors. When I asked her why, she said it was because I turned them against her.

Something struck me about the conversation was she was concerned about gaining weight. When she got COVID, she lost weight and thought she was starving. She thought I was starving her. The truth is that she could have lost half her body weight and still no one would think she was starving. But now she is concerned about weight gain? She doesn’t think she is starving anymore?

After the conversation was over, I was confused. Arabella seemed so normal. It left me wondering if I was crazy. I want so badly to think she is back to her normal self. I want to think I made everything that happened up. I felt stressed after I talked to her. She was going to be bringing Will to the Christmas party this weekend. My son Alex told me this Will guy was bad news. They graduated together. I started to imagine conflict between Will and my son.

Then my brother Luke texted me and said there was a snow storm coming this weekend ending right before the party starts. I was expecting a shit storm, but a snow storm on top of that?? How wonderful the first named snow storm of the season. Now I’m not even sure they are coming. My son will probably be called in to work during the party. What a mess!

My mom feels stressed out around Luke now. She said he triggers her and that is why she is having a hard time sleeping again. Luke has a lot of boundaries with my mom. Luke’s wife doesn’t like my mom. My dad isn’t invited because of the whole child porn thing. Understandably, Luke won’t ever have his children around my dad because of it. My son and my daughter Angel never want to see my dad again. Then there is Arabella who is living with my parents.

My brothers Mark and Luke have to drive several hours to get here possibly through a snow storm. Mark’s wife Carla is difficult. She is angry with my daughter Angel for turning my dad in. She just lost her own dad this year so she is extra mean. I’m not even sure why she hates my daughter. She has also had conflict with Arabella in the past. She is very critical and will probably say something about my son’s girlfriend’s pink hair. But she has always been nice to me.

Carla is also mean to my brother Mark. She belittles him and calls him stupid in front of everyone. This summer she got mad at him because he ate his cheese separately from his burger. Didn’t he know she cut it for his burger? MARK how could you be such an idiot?? My brother just laughs it off but it is very upsetting to us. One time my mom told Carla off. My mom never tells anyone off. But then she felt bad for telling her off and apologized.

Now my mom is planning on leaving my dad after Christmas. I’m not sure if that will happen or not. I joked that now she wants to leave my dad after Arabella moves in. I just cleaned Arabella’s room so my nieces have somewhere to stay if they do make it for the party. Arabella is a true hoarder.

My brother Matt can be hard to deal with as well. He burps and farts at the table. But at least he is medicated and won’t hurt the kids. Did I mention all my brothers have special diets? Matt is gluten and dairy free. Mark is gluten free. Luke is dairy free. I already bought all the food. Did you know that a small ham costs $30 now?? I do! Holy crap!!!

Oh, and my dog is not doing the best. He hasn’t had much of an appetite the last couple of days. Oh, and the boiler stopped working again.

This is why I don’t like hosting the holidays! It’s just way too much stress!!! If I make it through this weekend I’ll have a lot to be thankful for on my gratitude list. But as for now my anxiety is through the roof.

Monday mourning

I’m not in the best of moods today. I woke up at 4:30 AM choking on my own spit. Then I had to go to the bathroom. I tried to go back to sleep, but sleep didn’t come.

I was having a dream about Tom and Lisa. I had a dream their daughter ran away and that was why my daughter Arabella ran away. I thought about our friends who moved away years before. At one time I considered Lisa a best friend. We were running partners and trauma buddies. Both Lisa and her husband experienced a lot of serious trauma in their childhoods.

A couple years back Tom and Lisa’s oldest daughter died at age 16 in a fiery car accident. Their daughter was driving when she fell asleep killing herself and her friend. A year after that, Lisa’s teenage niece died. She got really drunk and fell into the river and drowned. A couple months after that her mother died. Plus the childhood trauma, I don’t know how she is doing it. Sadly, we fell out of touch when they moved several hours away. We used to talk several times a week, now we send a text every once in awhile.

The last time I spoke to Lisa she wasn’t seeing a therapist. I woke up with Lisa on my mind out of the blue. I’m wondering if she is okay.

At 6:15 AM my mom called. It is NEVER a good sign to get a call from my mom that early in the morning. My mom told me Arabella went into the ditch last night from the snowy roads. The day after Thanksgiving, my daughter moved out of the homeless shelter and back in with my mom. She got another waitressing job and things were looking better. But she already got fired from her job which is not good. She quit taking her meds.

After Arabella went into the ditch, she had her car towed to my parent’s house. Right after it was towed back, she left around 10 PM. She wasn’t back by 6 AM. My mom told me her location and I was able to figure out she was at a park and ride. My mom said she was there at least 4 hours. My mom also got a strange message from Arabella’s friend Will’s grandma saying something about Will triggering PTSD and having to lock up the knives in her house.

What the hell is going on?? Is Will suicidal? Is Arabella?? I couldn’t help but worry maybe someone would come knocking at my door to tell me my daughter is dead. It is a constant fear. My mom said Will and Arabella were planning on coming to our family Christmas party this weekend. I can honestly say I feel worried because they are both mentally unstable. I don’t think Arabella would physically hurt anyone besides herself, but I don’t even know this Will guy. Who knows what she has been telling him about us.

I worry more about violence now. I worried yesterday at the community theater show. Dan and Angel went to the show with us. The people sitting next to them were drunk and disruptive. They were talking loudly during the show, getting up, knocking over glass bottles. Dan and Angel actually told them to be quiet. How rude! But how do you know if those people could be dangerous?

Hearing the news about Arabella this morning was very triggering. At times Angel and I were close to tears. Why is my daughter mentally ill? We blamed ourselves, we blamed each other. But what good does that do?? It’s incredibly stressful wondering if today will be the day I get the phone call or knock on my door. It just tears me down to the point where I don’t even want to live anymore. Not that I’m going to kill myself, but it’s hard to feel any kind of joy. It’s just so painful.

Paul, Angel, and I started to do so much better after Arabella moved out. Our mental health improved significantly. We were under an incredible amount of stress when both my mom and Arabella were living here. The strange thing is that at the time we were blind to the effects it was having on all of us. Thankfully Paul, Angel, and I are seeing counselors to help us process everything.

I was very hesitant about seeing a counselor at first. But now I can’t imagine not seeing her. She has really helped me get through a lot of hard circumstances. That is why I worry about my dear friend Lisa. I’ll have to give her a call soon.