Dream triggers

Last night I had a dream that I took 2-year-old Arabella to my parent’s house knowing everything I know now. For most families it probably wouldn’t be a nightmare, but for me it was. I didn’t feel she was safe around my dad without me and I had to go to the bathroom. I remember waking up with the knowledge that I had opened the door and once open it would be hard to shut all the way again.

It wasn’t the first time I felt this way in real life. My brother Matt heard voices that told him to hurt people, mainly little girls like me. He listened to those voices throughout my childhood and into my adult years up until he was medicated and those voices stopped.

In May of 1997 I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in both human development and psychology with an emphasis in counseling. I was fresh out of college ready to change the world, or at the very least fix my family. In August I got married and by October I was pregnant. I applied for a couple jobs that I didn’t get. So I decided to continue to be a caregiver for my brother. I didn’t want to put my baby in daycare and I had zero family support. I was the family support for my family of origin and I was since I could remember.

Everything worked out well for awhile. I was able to care for my baby and Matt. Matt didn’t hurt babies. But then my baby grew up and I got pregnant with my second baby. Matt started obsessing about my daughter Angel. He asked what would happen if he twisted her arm or held her head under water in the bathtub. By the time my second baby was born I no longer felt it was safe so I stopped watching Matt.

I still had Matt be a part of my children’s life for big things like Christmas or birthday parties. It was on Angel’s 4th birthday when Matt attacked her in a room full of vigilant adults. With as many watchful and experienced eyes, we couldn’t stop it from happening. Afterwards, I told my mom Matt was not allowed around my children until they were big enough to defend themselves against a grown man.

A month later I was pregnant with my third child, a girl. I kept the sex of my child a secret because Matt was always more fixated on hurting girls than boys. My mom knew I was having a girl because if I wasn’t I would’ve told everyone. That was probably true. I was worried if I had a girl she would get hurt and if I had a boy he would turn out like Matt. I felt screwed either way.

Then the time came for me to have my third child. It was a scheduled C-section. I decided to have the baby later in the week so my husband wouldn’t have to work and could watch the other kids over the weekend while I was in the hospital. He had just started his own business which was the only means of supporting us financially so he couldn’t take time off. In those days, working out of the house was not yet an option.

My mom stayed overnight the night before then dropped the kids off at the hospital the following morning so she could take Matt to the dentist. She wasn’t going to help me further unless Matt could come along. I don’t know if I can ever forgive her for that. Less than a week after having a major surgery I was home alone taking care of a colicky newborn, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old.

For the next several years after the attack my mom fought back hard against my boundaries of no contact. I was constantly stressed out during my pregnancy and for years afterwards by her actions. My mom at times would randomly stop by just to have my kids wave to Matt from the window. She was constantly trying to get Matt back in our lives again. She was always offering up help if I would just accept Matt in again.

Last week Paul and I were meeting with our couples therapist. She talked about trauma and how it could start even in the womb. This therapist also saw my mom and both of my daughters. She told me she thought I experienced trauma in utero. Maybe there is something I don’t know. But all I could think about is that I am to blame for Arabella’s mental illness. I am to blame for her being a difficult baby because all of the stress hormones surging through me while I was pregnant. I know I shouldn’t think that way but I can’t help it. Never mind the smorgasbord of mental illness coursing through my husband’s and my genetics we already knew about and the random smattering from an unknown bio dad.

After several years, I opened the door. I allowed Matt over for a brief period of time during Christmas at a party I was hosting because yes I was hosting all the family parties in my 20’s. That was okay, but other things were not? My brother Luke had some of the same issues I had with my mom and brother Matt.

The dream awakened all of this within me. But now it also has to do with my dad. All I could think about is one of the images Angel told me about that she found on my dad’s computer. It was a photo of a naked little girl crying. That was one of the tamer pictures but maybe the one that hit me the hardest for some reason. I keep imaging that little girl as myself, the picture of what my inner child must look like alone, vulnerable, and crying. By the time these images were found and my daughter went to the police, my kids were almost fully grown. Luke, however, had two little girls the same age as the images of the children. It felt like it was starting all over again but this time instead of being Matt it is my dad. All of our children with the exception of Arabella have not seen or spoken to my dad in over three years.

I’m not sure if I will ever get over the trauma. I feel like I’ve wasted so much of my life stuck in other people’s problems, people who should of been my rock, comfort, and support which were not.

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…

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.

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.

Gratitude week 127

  1. I was able to visit with Angel and Dan after not seeing them for a couple weeks.
  2. Opening the cabin up north for the season.
  3. Last minute my brother Luke came up north with his daughters. It was the first time I saw them this year. We played games, went for a hike, and sat by the campfire. It was too cold to swim yet.
  4. One thing that has taken some adjustment, my husband is gone a lot with our seasonal business. I do most of my work out of the house. That being said, I find myself alone a lot for the first time since all the kids moved out. The first night I spent at the cabin by myself. It was different. I was feeling this melancholy nostalgia. I missed my husband, the kids when they were younger, and my dog who went there with us year after year until this year since his passing. I started to feel sorry for myself. Then the next day, my brother came up with his kids and dog. The next door neighbors had kids and a dog. Kids were fighting, the dogs were always trying to get away, not to mention the noise and commotion. It was in that moment I became grateful for the stage of life I’m in. I don’t think I have the energy anymore to be chasing after kids and dogs that get away. I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone and I kind of like it.
  5. I’m grateful for the time to discover what I like to do. I really like going thrifting and to rummage sales. I did both this past week but no huge finds.
  6. Angel and Dan checked out some local city wide rummage sales and asked if there was anything I was looking for they could find, and they did! I have been looking for a motorcycle helmet for Alex’s girlfriend. He only has one and he has been taking his off to give to his girlfriend when she rides with him. Angel found a pink motorcycle helmet for Lexi, her favorite color. Her birthday is next month and I have the perfect gift. Win, win, win.
  7. My mom and autistic brother Matt went up north this weekend too. Matt is more on the severe end of the autism spectrum and is not very socially aware. Two things happened this weekend that are worth mentioning. Matt asked me if Paul was coming up north too. He didn’t ask about my kids. This tells me he somehow knows Paul and I are linked together but that the kids are grown up. I was impressed by his awareness when most of the time he is oblivious to relationships.
  8. The other thing that happened is this…We were sitting around a campfire. My mom asked my 12 year old niece Gracie to move out of grandma’s chair so she could sit there. A few minutes later my brother Matt wanted the chair, so my mom moved out of the chair to an empty chair so Matt could sit there. I called my mom out on it. My mom said she is just a really good mom to Matt. She always gives him special treatment which I am not keen of. Later, Matt wanted my chair and moved all my stuff off of it while I was tending to the fire. I told him I was sitting there and it was rude of him to take my chair when I got up to do work especially when other chairs were available. But he did it anyway and I was pissed. My mom did nothing. A few minutes later Matt came over and apologized to me. I was floored. I never in a million years thought he was going to do that. I actually thought he was coming over to me to steal the other chair I was sitting on.
  9. Matt has been involved in a day program for the last several years for autistic children and adults. It’s made a big difference in his life. I know they have been working with him a lot on social skills and how to interact with people. Matt noticed I was up north alone. But the big thing was he noticed I was irritated at him for his behavior and he apologized. My parents didn’t teach him that. My mom always wanted us to give him special treatment like she does without giving him the opportunity to learn what appropriate behavior is. I’m grateful for this program and that even though he is in his 40’s, he is learning how to interact with others in a way that is also healthy for him.
  10. I’m grateful for warm spring days and cool nights. No need for the heat or the A/C.

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.

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 #39

Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.

I think the key word here is dwelling. I recently heard on the radio that negative experiences are more memorable than positive ones. I think that is true.

Yesterday I spent 3 1/2 hours writing. A small portion was writing on my blog and the rest I spent writing my book. I added a journal entry written by my mom to the book describing Matt hitting my brother Mark and also hitting and kicking me. I wrote about my brother attacking me from my mom’s point of view. I can’t even describe what that feels like. In some ways I felt totally detached since the journal entry was almost 30 years old. Mainly I felt sad for the little girl that was me.

Then I wrote another entry remembering a time my mom asked my dad to help her by watching my brothers and I swim in the lake up north while she made supper. Any time my mom asked my dad for help he did things aggressively or half assed. Let’s just say I didn’t have the dad who would sweep me onto his lap and read books to me on the couch.

This is what happened that day when my mom asked for help. My dad came in the water with us. When Mark and Luke were swimming my dad would grab them by their feet and yank them backwards. My brothers would choke and sputter swallowing water and getting it up their noses. Then they would cry and dad would laugh saying they were just playing a game.

I was terrified of the weeds so my dad grabbed me and forced me to stand in the weeds and muck. He laughed at me while I cried and called me names. When he let me go, he threw weeds and a dead fish at me. It didn’t take long for my brothers and I to be done swimming. My dad got out of doing something he didn’t want to do. He got his jollies by making us cry, calling us names, mocking and humiliating us.

That pretty much sums up my childhood. My brother Matt frequently attacked us with no consequence because there was something wrong with him. I wouldn’t consider my dad to be physically abusive per se. There were times he hit and manhandled us, but he seemed to enjoy terrorizing us more. He liked taking what we were afraid of the most and taunting us with it like my fear of weeds. When we would cry he would laugh in our face and call us babies. He often called us stupid.

If my dad was taunting a sibling it was best to ignore him or better yet to join him because that would ensure your safety. Comforting a sibling often meant your next. Pretend not to care. Pretend nothing scares you. Show no vulnerability or weakness where he could worm in.

I spent several hours writing about the physical abuse from my brother and the psychological abuse from my dad. By the end of the afternoon I was spent. I was feeling depressed and wanted to just emotional detach from everyone. Thinking about the negative things that happened to me really wasn’t doing me any good.

My husband said maybe I shouldn’t continue writing the book or just do it in small segments of time. I told him writing this book gives my life purpose and meaning. The question is how can I write about painful experiences without dwelling on the negative? I end up spending a lot of time in a place I no longer want to be.

I do think writing my story is very therapeutic and healing, but I can’t deny there is a dark side to it as well.

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.