This uncertainty, part 2

I stressed out for a long time whether or not to get a dumpster. What did I know about remodeling or flooring besides it looking like fun on home renovation shows. They show the before pictures, show someone holding a hammer, then voila it’s done looking amazing. That and one summer when my son was in high school he worked for a company removing flooring. How hard could it be?

I researched dumpsters. I never was really good with spatial things. How would I know what size to get when I can’t even figure out if I have enough room in a parking space? I agonized over the decision. I shut off my computer and walked away for a couple days. Once I got the dumpster there was no turning back. I was committed to finishing the project.

I ordered the dumpster and still worried about it. I was anxious the day the dumpster arrived. The first project I was going to do was tear out the carpet. There was no turning back now. I had already painted my future office a bright light yellow. I took a couple before pictures. I budgeted 15 minutes to a couple hours to tear out the old carpeting. Fifteen minutes, now that is laughable as I think it took over 5 hours. Taking out the carpeting was the easy part. Then I had to pull out the carpet liner. Then all the nails and staples.

I’ve never even used half the tools before. I had zero knowledge or experience going into it which was very scary for me. On the day I started the project we had a plumber over. He must’ve took pity on me because he showed me how to use a razor blade to tear up carpeting and gave me a couple new blades. I don’t think my husband really appreciated his help as much as I did. Never having a dad to show him how to be a handyman, my husband doesn’t really know a whole lot more than I do about these projects. And to think his bio dad was a handyman for a living. What an asshat!

After I did all the painting, removing the trim boards, and tearing up the flooring my husband said he would like that room for his office. He likes the room because it is bright and sunny with a skylight and paint the color of the sun. I am a creature of the dark. I would be happy in a cave with the exception of the bats. We both decided he would be better suited for the bright room and I would be better suited in the room we are sharing as an office right now. We both agreed we weren’t suited to sharing an office. He likes all the lights blazing in broad daylight which makes me feel like my eyes are bleeding. He even has one of those intensely bright ring lights. I might turn the light on if it is dark. He likes to listen to his book or music while working and I like absolute silence. Plus he is on the phone quite a bit.

So I handed the project baton over to him. We found out on of his best friends has a lot of experience with flooring and he will be coming over tomorrow to start working on it with my husband. I had no idea what I wanted for the flooring anyway. Now he can pick what he wants. I would still be willing to help. I am very motivated to have my own office and doing some undisturbed writing again.

Other than that, we are using the dumpster for the carpet and all garbage real or imagined. I even went so far as throwing out some of the fake plastic plants from the previous owner. I went on an anti-plant rampage. When we got back from our trip my two remaining plants got decimated. The large one fell over onto the smaller one breaking the pots. I decided to throw them both out and in the process I sliced up my finger pretty good on the broken glass. If anyone ever buys me another plant I will probably punch them.

We are also getting rid of a whole bunch of junk from the garage. Some of it old crap left behind by my son’s friends when they were roommates. They are a bunch of slobs and have a lot of potential to be hoarders like my parents. The best part of everything is that the dumpster is located underneath the window of the second story of the garage. Because of this I was able to rage clean opening the window and chucking stuff into the dumpster. Or sometimes it would miss shattering everything to pieces on the ground next to it. All in the name of cleaning my friends.

Now I have been thinking about the environment as well in case you were concerned. I have several boxes filled for the thrift stores. I broke down and got rid of the last of the pairs of pants I can no longer fit over my big butt. Then there are the dresses I can’t zip up. But I didn’t have the heart to get rid of one of my favorite miniskirts. I haven’t worn it in years but maybe next summer. Until then it will be hanging up next to my orthotic shoes.

My house has so many projects I don’t even know where to start. But at least I am starting even though I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

The hidden

Do we ever think about the hidden secrets beyond our knowledge after all the horrible things we already found out? This question has been haunting me since Lexi asked me this yesterday. What don’t I know about my family?

My son’s girlfriend has been opening up to me about her life. Alex and Lexi have been together almost a year and a half now. Sometimes she will come over just to talk. It’s strange because I see many parallels between her life and mine. I won’t share with you the details because it’s not my story to tell. But I can say she experienced a tremendous amount of suffering in childhood.

Sometimes I see myself in her. It was hard finding friends who could relate. I remember being the girl not fitting in with others entering adulthood with fresh memories of a carefree childhood. I never had those stories to tell. I felt like I just exited a war zone when I entered adulthood. Childhood was a time of worry, fear, and stress that left me careworn with a lifetime of fighting anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I could never get that time back and change it into something I wanted. It’s hard to explain that weight to someone who didn’t carry it.

I understood when Lexi said she didn’t want to totally cut her family out of her life. She said there are so many layers to it. How can you walk away when you are conditioned to be a lifeguard trying to save the family from drowning while they are always pulling you under? I told her it is okay to limit her contact with them although that is something I still struggle with doing myself.

Sometimes Lexi will talk to me about her relationship with my son. She talks more in a relational way instead of a complaining way. But sometimes I’m not sure what to say or do. My son still has not met her family. He has no intentions of meeting them because they are not good people. But how is that going to work if they get married or have children? They both do not want him to meet her family. I don’t understand. I usually wanted significant others to meet my family early because that could be the make it or break it point. How else do you really get to know somebody?

I’m not really sure what to do. Maybe I should just keep listening as someone who kind of understands instead of trying to fix things. Maybe this is what having a daughter-in-law is like. My son rarely sits down and has little talks with me. I’m glad she is opening up to me and we get along well. What more could I ask for?

Although she really did make me think when she asked me what I thought remains hidden that we just don’t know after all the horrible things were revealed. For the longest time I didn’t know the truth but it was still there. There is probably still a lot I don’t know. I never really thought about it before and that’s a scary thing to overthink about. Dealing with what I know is already hard enough.

The bug

Most nights after we were done with the conference for the evening, we would go back to our room and doze off to Halloween specials or old movie series. This particular night, the Jaws series was on. I never watched the series as a kid because I was pretty young when it came out. Paul remembers going to the movie theater to watch Jaws with his mom as a kid. He said it was pretty scary. It’s amazing how time changes perspective and what was once scary is not scary anymore at all.

It was after midnight and I had just fallen asleep when Paul woke up freaking out because he felt a bug on his leg. He tore apart the bed looking for the bug thinking our hotel room had a bedbug infestation. I admit, we both are fearful of bedbugs when traveling. I saw a beetle flying around the room earlier so I still half asleep was not convinced of a problem.

Paul found the bug and tried to identify what it was. He decided to download a bug identifier app. They advertised that the first bug was free. He took a picture of the bug and the app said it was a bedbug. This amped up Paul’s anxiety and he was ready to pack up all our belongings and see if we could get another room. I told him it didn’t look like a bedbug and that I thought I saw the same kind of bug at home. He decided maybe he didn’t get a good enough picture, so he took another photo on the bug identifier app.

This time the bug identifier app said it would cost $3.99 per month for a minimum of 12 months. No way! What a scam. Because I saw a similar bug at home, I was able to find out what kind of bug it was on my phone. It was not a bedbug. Crisis diverted.

I told the story to a new friend I met at the conference after she told me a similar story. She said next time all I needed to do was download the google app and take a picture of whatever I wanted to identify. I had no idea I could do that. After she showed me how it worked, I downloaded the app. When we were at the state park in Delaware I saw an interesting small cactus type plant. Cactus in Delaware? I took a picture of it with my google app and it said the plant was an Eastern Prickly Pear.

Something good came out of the bug experience and for now we managed to once again evade a bedbug invasion.

Wedding wild cards

I was feeling a lot of anxiety before the wedding because of the wedding wild cards, the several difficult people who would be there.

A few days before the wedding I expressed to my mom how I wished I had a dad who could be at the wedding celebrating with us. My mom took it to mean I wanted my dad at the wedding and went on to say Angel needs to forgive my dad in order for God to give her forgiveness. I decided to let that conversation go. Even if everyone forgave my dad, it still wouldn’t give us the kind of relationship we wanted with him.

My mom invited herself to the rehearsal dinner which wasn’t a big deal. But while there she got upset about the seating arrangement. She was upset she wasn’t facing the head table and told Angel how disappointed she was in her. My mom didn’t seem to understand it wasn’t about her.

Later that evening, my mom said Matt wanted to attend the wedding ceremony. My mom expects everyone to cater to Matt. Angel told my mom Matt was welcome to come to the reception but she didn’t want him at the ceremony. Matt acts socially inappropriately. He often grunts, farts, burps, makes gagging noises, and stands up to kick his legs. If he has to go to the bathroom he wouldn’t have any qualms about pushing his way up the aisle oblivious to who was coming down. No one wants to worry about that on their wedding day.

I understand my mom wanted my dad and Matt to go to the wedding but because of their behaviors they were not able to. In a perfect world, I wanted them there too. I could only wish.

I really wasn’t expecting what happened next. While Dan and Angel were having wedding photos of just the two of them at the park, the rest of the wedding party waited at the limo. My mom sent a picture to my kids and I of one of Matt’s birthday parties Angel’s ex-boyfriend attended. MY MOM SENT A PICTURE OF MY DAUGHTER WITH HER EX-BOYFRIEND TO HER ON HER WEDDING DAY!!! I was pissed. Do you understand why I was worried about the wild cards now??

Angel left her phone in the limo. I tried really hard to crack her code to get into her phone and failed. I was worried she might get locked out of her phone. One of her bridesmaids decided to take the phone to Angel to get the code under the guise of us wanting to use it to take pictures then deleted the photo. None the wiser. It was really stressful and I was embarrassed in front of the wedding party about how dysfunctional my family is. I texted my mom and asked her what she was thinking. She texted back, guess I wasn’t thinking.

Everything was going great up until that point, then my mood just crashed. Inside of me my blood was boiling. On the outside I was trying to pretend everything was fine. Of course my daughter Angel can read me like a book. She asked me what was wrong, I replied nothing. She was getting really anxious so I ended up telling her. Your grandma sent a picture to you of you and your ex-boyfriend on your wedding day.

It was the last thing I was expecting. I was thinking maybe Alex would be late for something, but Alex and Lexi were on time and very involved the whole weekend. Everything went great with Arabella too. She could tell I was stressed so Will and her came back to clean up between the ceremony and wedding. Will accidentally put dish soap in the dishwasher which created a big bubbly mess. The dishwasher was running when we got home, when I went to bed, and the next morning when I got up. It wouldn’t shut off with the bubbles so high. But how could I be upset with good intentions?

But why did my mom send us a picture of Angel and her ex on her wedding day?? What was that? I had an amazing time at the wedding but I was pissed. Then my mom went up to randomly give a speech after the best man and maid of honor saying how she gained a grandson.

I decided I was going to confront my mom. She hurt my daughter and son-in-law on their special day. I was just so angry. I want a peaceful life, but sometimes you have to confront people especially apparently in my family. I was ready to chew my mom out, but she came over apologetic and crying hysterically. Will I forgive her? She will never be able to forgive herself until the day she dies. I found myself comforting her instead of confronting her. I had to be the mature one. I just fell back into the same old pattern. Then my mom went over to apologize to my daughter and her husband.

I asked her why she did it and she said she didn’t know. I am so confused. Then she called me later in the evening and said that I was the only one who was really upset about it as if something was wrong with me. She had my dad on speaker phone and he was asking me how Alex was doing. I just need a break from my parents. I feel so upset and sorrowful over the hurtful things my parents do. I don’t want to let it bother me but it seems like it always does.

I am still feeling angry and sorrowful over this and have been crabby and moping around. My husband said my expectations are too high by thinking my parents are going to be functional people. I guess he is right about that.

My daughter’s wedding

I awoke early after a restless night of sleep. Once the day started it went by fast, although I felt like I was moving in slow motion. Although tired, I was feeling pretty good. All the bridesmaids showed up around 10 AM. Afterwards there was a flurry of activity. My friend Lisa showed up to do my daughter’s hair and we ended up going to the store to buy ingredients for mimosas. I also opened an expensive bottle of champagne sent from our foreign exchange student from France. I was just waiting for a special day. It wasn’t long after we got back that the photographer arrived for pictures.

It was a gorgeous autumn morning. Angel bought us robes to get ready in that said bridesmaids on it. I got ready here and there. Angel didn’t sleep much the night before and her stomach was too upset to eat or sip champagne that morning or even the evening before. There were a couple little problems like the light burning out in the bathroom everyone was getting ready in. Arabella found they never removed the big plastic tag from her dress at the store and left in a hurry leaving her dress shoes behind to get the tag removed. I set out snacks for everyone. Just like that it was time to leave and I left the house a mess. Angel was getting very anxious about leaving on time and everyone else started getting anxious too. Angel lost her phone and we couldn’t find it anywhere. She was ready to leave without it, but it was found at the last minute.

Angel was a big mess at the church. She put her dress on and started crying. She gave everyone little notes to read. I will share mine at a later date. It was hard not to cry as well. The ceremony itself was excellent. They rented a wedding chapel and minister. I was really pleased with how everything turned out. After the ceremony was over, I felt immensely relieved. We took a couple family pictures outside. Paul’s step-dad asked me where my dad was. I guess we never told him and probably never will. I told him my dad was not well enough to be there. Darryl sighed and rolled his eyes. No one mentioned my dad again the rest of the day.

After a few pictures, the limo was ready for us. We stopped at several places to take pictures. For a picture, the guys pulled out some cigars. I said the girls needed cigar pictures too, so we did. We cracked open all the leftover bottles of champagne from earlier that morning. We even had a picture in the park where Dan shook a bottle of champagne and it sprayed everywhere. I can’t wait to see the pictures because I really didn’t take many even though I was supposed to.

It was really a lot of fun to spend the day with Angel and Dan. They were so happy. After pictures, we still had some time left in the limo so we stopped at a bar where the best man bought everyone a round of Fireball shots. Then it was off to the reception hall for the grand march and dinner. I ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. Go big or go home. Paul did an amazing job with his prayer. I was so impressed. The maid of honor also had an amazing speech.

I probably had a little too much to drink. I wasn’t the only one. But it was a great night and we all had a lot of fun. I tried to make the rounds and talk to everyone. Most of the night, though, you could find me on the dance floor. The music was great. I was hugging everyone which is pretty out of character for me. When I wasn’t on the dance floor I was outside with the smokers cracking jokes, giving unsolicited advice, and telling people to stop smoking (even complete strangers). Then I came right back to the dance floor dancing and sampling random people’s drinks. Everyone had a great time, especially the bride and groom. Everyone clapped and cheered for them. The atmosphere was that of festive celebration because everyone was happy for them because they are great together. It was the best wedding I’ve ever attended. My daughter did a great job with planning and picking the right guy.

1 day

I can’t believe by this time tomorrow my daughter will be changing her name. It seems surreal to me right now. They are getting really excited for the big day tomorrow.

My husband will be saying the dinner prayer and he is really nervous about it. I told him no one is going to remember it unless he accidentally says the f word or something. My son is going to be an usher and he is nervous about that. I don’t feel any different than any other day really. And that is the joy of struggling with anxiety. I’m used to feeling this way. There has to be some perks.

I’ve spent the last couple of days just getting ready. Mom and I went and got our nails done. I made the beds for guests tonight. Angel will be staying over with a bridesmaid. Arabella and Will will be staying too just to make sure they are up and ready in time. Angel is getting ready here with her bridesmaids so I bought some easy lunch foods. I expect somewhere around a dozen people being in and out of the house tomorrow morning. Then we may or may not have overnight guests the night of the wedding.

In a couple hours will be the rehearsal and dinner afterwards. I expect it will really hit me and I will be nervous then. Hopefully we will be able to sleep tonight!

Tomorrow Dan and Angel will begin their married life together. I can’t believe my daughter is getting married tomorrow. I am so happy and excited for them. I hope they will be blessed with many wonderful years together. One more day…

3 days

Today I found out all my closest friends will be attending the wedding. I am pretty excited about that. You know what they say, friends are the family we choose. I have a lot of family I consider wild cards. You never know what you are going to get.

My mom said my brother Luke won’t like the music. There is no doubt about it. After he stopped drinking, he became addicted to faith and very legalistic. He does not listen to any music that is non-Christian and neither does his teenage homeschooled kids. I know he looks down upon my family and views us as a bunch of savages. I also know that religion is where he feels safe from all the crap we experienced so I try not to take it personally. It’s not even that I disagree with him, I totally understand and think it is better for him than drinking too much. But he has a tendency to judge instead of support, the latter something we were never taught to do either.

Luke isn’t the only one questioning the music and other choices regarding the wedding Angel and Dan have made. I told Angel that I trust her judgment. What she really has a problem with is people not trusting her. She’s got this. Music is her thing. She has a music degree and a job in the industry. I can understand why it is so important to her. She said she doesn’t want to take requests because they bog the DJ down when she has a well thought out playlist already made. They will have jazzy dinner music from 6 to 8, dance music from 8 to 10, and club music from 10 to midnight. At the ceremony, they will have several singers and a pianist that hold the minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in music. I told my daughter I think she has this handled and validated her feelings of frustration over people questioning and criticizing. It’s their wedding. Angel said she is starting to feel more excited about the wedding than anxious today.

Other than that, I ironed my son’s shirt for the wedding. If it was up to him it would probably still be sitting in the bag I bought it in laying around somewhere. I can’t remember the last time I ironed. Yes, I have an iron. I got it for a high school graduation gift from my aunt. I remember that because when I opened the gift I was excited to see what was really in the box and it really was an iron. Our house has an ironing board built into a drawer in our kitchen island. It looked well used but it was the first time I used it.

As I was ironing, I started to think about ironing. When did that stop being a thing? I missed the smell of ironing. I started to think again of my grandma who was always ironing it seemed. She had a glass soda bottle with a little sprinkler on top to put little drops of water on the clothes before ironing. If you think laundry is a hassle now, try ironing everything.

My mom also gave my grandma laundry to iron. I remember my mom saying the smell of ironing also triggered my brother Matt’s violent outbursts. In the summer, my mom would iron outside. When she couldn’t do that, she sent it all over to my grandma’s. I had forgotten about that, but it all came back to me today. My mom thought if we could perfectly follow all of the crazy rules then Matt wouldn’t be violent anymore when in actuality all it took was the right anti-psychotic medicine. It’s no wonder why my brother Luke fell into following rules so easily and becomes upset when they are broken. I have to fight against it myself with my thinking if I do everything right I won’t get sick, etc. But hey, nothing about my childhood was normal, except maybe my grandma. To think ironing could trigger violence. How flipping crazy is that?

Anyway, I am excited all my best friends are coming to the wedding. I’m happy for the family members attending, even the wild cards. I’m glad Angel is starting to relax a little and enjoy the last couple of days before the wedding. I know it’s going to go by fast now. I’m glad to report everyone is healthy (except Arabella with mono but she will be there!). Only 3 more days to go…

5 days

My dress doesn’t fit. When I first tried the dress on at the bridal store it was a good fit albeit a little snug in some places. I decided to order the size up just to be on the safe side. If anything it seemed like I was more apt to gain weight than lose it. The dress I ordered was a little too big. It was also too long, but I was expecting that. The dress has small sleeves off the shoulder. It was too big in that area so Angel’s future MIL did alterations for a tighter fit in the shoulder area. In doing so she also brought up the chest and now the cups are way too high. I’m hoping it will be an easy fix.

Needless to say, Angel and I are both going back this evening for alterations. Angel is a nervous wreck. I have been anxious too, but it doesn’t even compare to my daughter’s anxiety over the upcoming wedding. I’ve had some rather strange worries too. I’ve been worried about my brother Matt. The other day I even asked my mom if he was okay. It just came out of the blue a premonition he was sick and going to die. I wonder if my daughter’s upcoming wedding triggered in me some memories from my own wedding when we feared my brother could die because he was really sick. That’s the only thing I can think of. I can’t recall feeling this way towards him since I got married. How utterly bizarre.

Other than that, I feel good today. I feel confident in how I look. I have confidence in my immune system. I reminded myself that I was only sick once this year (with COVID) even after being around other sick people. I reminded myself that before I got COVID, I can’t even remember the last time I was really sick. I think it was 8 years ago when I had walking pneumonia. I exercise, eat healthy, take vitamins, drink a lot of water, and don’t do anything fun. I’ve been avoiding groups of people. I’ve taken precautions and the extra steps to strengthen my immune system to the best of my ability. What more can I do? Angel is doing the same yet she worries. Maybe she is more like me than I even thought.

One good thing is I will have a preview of Angel in her dress tonight. I really don’t want to cry at the wedding when I see her in her dress and be a big pile of snot with raccoon eyes. Angel said she wrote me a letter to be read right before the ceremony with the photographer taking my picture. Why?? Oh, why?

I can’t believe we only have 5 days left.

1 week

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe the wedding is a week away. I feel the anxiety. There is a fine line between anxiety and excitement. My mind creeps over to worrying about the things I can’t control. What if I get sick? I worry about Angel and Dan getting sick. Angel who was always the one to get sick right before a big performance. The anxiety burns her body out and runs her right down. But the anxiety cannot be controlled either.

I have been trying to stay healthy. One of the biggest things I’ve been trying to do is drink more water. I started taking more vitamin D. I try to make healthy food choices and exercise every day even if it’s just a walk around the block. It’s been hard to give up sugar, not because I crave it but because it is in everything. Look at labels and you will be surprised. Pinto beans? Seriously, there is sugar in canned beans. What I miss most is sweetened coffee creamer. But I realize I could do everything right and still get sick. Maybe I’m being anxious thinking if I carry around some sort of rabbit’s foot I’ll have good luck. If I try extra hard to be healthy I won’t get sick.

I also wanted to lose a few pounds. The overweight comment by the doctor a few months back really stung. I feel old now. I felt really good up until 45. That was the year everything happened with my dad. Then right after that was when my daughter attempted suicide. Followed by COVID a couple months after that. Then I started having health problems. Maybe it would’ve happened anyway. It’s hard to say but no doubt the stress probably didn’t help.

I’ve aged a lot over the past 3 years. I stopped coloring my hair. It’s been two years now and no color remains. I haven’t had my hair cut since January and have no plans of cutting or coloring it soon. Angel says she likes my gray hair. I have to say the color is very unique, a sandy blondish brownish gray.

Nobody says I need to lose weight for the wedding. No one really cares but me. I just don’t feel like me anymore. Maybe I just want to feel young again. Today I went to the pet store and bought a 20lb box of cat litter. The young lady that checked me out called me ma’am and asked if I needed assistance carrying the cat litter to my car. Three years ago I ran a 50k and now I look feeble enough to need help carrying something to my car?

I swear I am trapped in someone else’s body. What really scares me is that I see my dad in myself as I age. He never exercised a day in his life, is obese, and has a lot of aches and pains. He is everything I don’t want to be, yet I find myself like him in some ways.

I’m afraid my arthritis will be acting up and I’ll end up sitting in a chair all night and not cutting up the dance floor. I’ve found that having arthritis is a delicate balance between not overdoing it and not doing anything at all. Today I would do anything just to be able to go running again like I used to.

I’m going to try to relax and not freak out so much about everything. But that is easier said than done. I was invited to a party tonight but opted not to go to avoid being in groups right before the wedding. Gotta stay healthy. The funny thing is I didn’t want to go anyway so it’s not much of a sacrifice. Why would I feel guilty skipping a party I didn’t really want to go to anyway? Am I obligated to go if I have nothing else going on?

Yesterday Arabella found out she has mono. In the last month she has had COVID, an ear infection, and now mono. She is sick all the time and her immune system is garbage. But she does nothing to take care of herself.

I just have to keep telling myself that regardless of what happens, Angel is marrying the right guy. It’s not about who gets sick or stays healthy. It’s not about whether or not my dress is a little tight around the waist. It’s not about whether the day is cold and rainy or if snow flurries fall. It’s not about how much I get out on the dance floor.

One week left, I have to stay focused on what really matters.

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.