Gratitude week 89

  1. The last few days of summer.
  2. Making it home from a run outside two minutes before it started hailing.
  3. I finished three books this week. One about introverts, a biography of a madam, and the memoir Girl, Interrupted. I just started another memoir today.
  4. Lighting a candle in the memory of the 20th year anniversary of 9/11. I can’t believe so much time has passed. It’s strange to think the my kids have no memory of 9/11 or weren’t even born yet. It was a year later that I remember taking a pregnancy test (positive with Arabella) on 9/11 just as the fire trucks passed our house with American flags waving from the back. It was a horrifying time, but we banded together in a true patriotism I haven’t seen since. I’m grateful for the heroes of 9/11. It was a somber experience to go to NYC and visit the 9/11 memorial. I will never forget.
  5. My son after being single for a couple of years started dating a new girlfriend this summer. We are planning on having them over for supper this week so we can get to know her better. Who knows, some day she might be my future DIL.
  6. I spent the last couple of days up north with my mom closing the cottage for the season. We went for some walks and took the kayaks out on the lake. The weather was nice.
  7. Since I have been uninvited to the family reunion, my daughter took the opportunity of us having a free weekend to schedule wedding dress shopping. It’s something to be excited about.
  8. I’m starting to get excited for our trip to Maine in a week and a half.
  9. I’m thankful for my geriatric pets. My dog just turned 14 and my cat is 15. My dog is chill now. No more barking. I can’t remember the last time he barked. My cat is happy to cuddle up by me. He doesn’t bring mice in the house anymore and hasn’t for awhile. This week I surprised him by buying him a catnip toy mouse. It looks so real that a couple of times I jumped when I saw it.
  10. Oh my gosh, I saw my son went out grocery shopping on a Saturday night. I didn’t even see any liquor. Maybe it’s a good sign that he is growing up? I’ll take it as that.

Gratitude week 88

  1. Summer. I’m trying to grab what little we’ve got left of it.
  2. Sleeping in my own bed.
  3. Actually sleeping fairly well last night for the first time in a couple of weeks.
  4. A fun last sailing trip of the season.
  5. Checking another marina off our bucket list. It was out in the middle of nowhere.
  6. Having a nice quiet holiday weekend at home.
  7. Finishing a really good memoir on heroin addiction and starting a new book.
  8. Having a fluffy clean dog after giving our pooch a bath.
  9. For another school year that started without any kids in school. It’s very freeing not having to be tied down to a school schedule. Not to mention all the chaos with COVID. Not having to fight with kids to get up early, curfews, grades, issues with friends, after school activities, weekend school events, transportation, mean teachers, endless school supplies, sport equipment, practice, extracurricular fees, difficult parents, peer pressure, and homework. I’m done with that now after almost 20 years!
  10. For the changing of the seasons and transitioning into my second favorite season, fall. For warm days and cool nights. Campfires and preparing for the cold days to come.

Gratitude week 87

  1. Summer! We had some loud thunderstorms go through last night. I love a good storm that doesn’t cause damage. That is one of the things I miss most once winter comes. It’s pretty rare to have thunder during a snow storm.
  2. Clean sheets.
  3. Supper with my best friend at a new to us Mexican restaurant that had the best mojitos.
  4. My daughter Angel got a promotion. Last night we went out to celebrate with pizzas and martinis at a place we’ve never been to before. The ambiance was amazing. It was one of those old building downtown so it had a lot of character. They also played the best music.
  5. I am really grateful that Arabella is going to have a psych eval next month. She hasn’t had one yet which I think is crazy. I’m hoping that with this knowledge we can get better treatment for her. Her medicine got yanked around this week so I hope things will go better.
  6. I’m grateful that for the first time in almost 20 years I no longer have kids in school. What a mess things have been with COVID. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore.
  7. Because school starts this next week, I have never been able to go on the annual sailing trip with the sailing club. This year will be the first year I can go. I probably won’t be posting for a couple of days but I will share some pictures with you when I get back.
  8. I’m grateful to live in a beautiful state. The winters are rough, but yet it’s beauty continues year round.
  9. The new memoirs I ordered came in the mail. I just started The Weight of Air which is a memoir about a young guy that’s addicted to heroin. It’s a very well written and moving story.
  10. Right now everyone in our house is healthy and I am grateful for that.

Gratitude week 86

  1. Arabella has recovered from COVID and is back at work.
  2. Everyone else in our house tested negative.
  3. Just to be on the safe side, I cancelled the plans I had for the weekend and had a nice weekend at home.
  4. I finished a couple of books this week. It’s been a long time since I could say that I read more than one book in a week. I really enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper. Although a piece of fiction, it really made me think about what life was like with a disabled sibling. The disability aside, I remember feeling as if I didn’t matter. There was always something more important than me. I’m not saying that it was always a bad thing that my mom favored Matt, he did need her more. But things were always chaotic. Nothing could be planned or counted on in case Matt was having a bad day. Unexpected change is very triggering for me. I’m trying to have more compassion for myself in that regard as I read stories of other siblings having a hard time cancelling plans they were looking forward to because their sibling was sick, etc. I’m starting to go deeper to the more subtle effects the little things had on my life. It makes more sense why I respond the way I do if I start delving deeper.
  5. I ordered 4 more books, three of which are memoirs about people struggling with mental health issues.
  6. To a great weekend spent with my daughter Angel at home reading, writing, swimming, and watching movies.
  7. For having an adult daughter that is more like a best friend.
  8. Indian takeout food. Angel and I both ordered cheese naan and chicken tikka marsala. It was excellent!
  9. Summer!
  10. For health and healing in general. Last week was really hard because I didn’t know what was going to happen with the sickness in my house.

The full story…coming soon

I got invited into the popular group once in middle school. They gave me a handful of candy. I threw it away.

I could never bring them to my house anyway. The outside of the house was brick, big and beautiful. But inside was another story altogether. I couldn’t do slumber parties and sleepovers.

My dad roamed the house in his underwear. He answered the door that way. On occasion, he mowed the lawn that way. Sometimes he would even get the mail that way. The truth is that he was more interested in porn than his own wife and kids. He never hugged me, held me, or told me that everything would be okay. Maybe it was a good thing he had an aversion to touching me.

Our house was a hoarder’s paradise. Piles of magazines and papers littered all seating surfaces, our table, and floors. My mom hoarded food so there was always rotting food in the fridge. There were cupboards full of food, a fruit cellar, freezer upon freezer, refrigerator upon refrigerator. But we knew the newest food was always in bags on the dining room floor. There was always a stack of unwashed dishes on the counter full of you guessed it rotten food. The whiff of rot hit you as soon as you entered the door.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there was always pee on the bathroom floor and a dirty sink. My dad was a greasy guy in more ways than one. He rarely showered and criticized us for showering daily as if we were the strange ones. My dad didn’t brush his teeth but wiped them on the hand towel so I always had to strategically plan where to dry my hands in a spot I thought would be the cleanest. I don’t know how I ever survived the 8th grade hand washing compulsion.

Then there was my brother Matt. He was the school ‘retard’. That’s what my classmates called him anyway as they mocked his bizarre behaviors. He heard voices that told him to attack other children and he listened. He ruled our house and my mother bowed down to him. Anything for Matt. Never mind her three other kids.

We had crazy rules to live by for the sake of Matt. For example, no one could come into our house that was wearing perfume. That is why you could find me before middle school started ratting my hair in the middle school bathroom along with the girls that changed their clothes into outfits not allowed out of the house. My unscented hairspray had too much scent. For awhile we had to brush our teeth with peroxide and baking soda. We had to shut the windows if there was an east wind blowing auto exhaust fumes into our house. We didn’t have A/C back then. My mom even took down her brand new curtains because of the formaldehyde and hung old blankets on the windows. We had to take shelter if a neighbor was spraying his fields. The air purifier ran constantly. But none of those things stopped the voices or the attacks.

So you can see I had to reject the popular kids before they had the chance to reject me. I hand selected a few close friends but in the end I lost them anyway because of Matt.

I hated my life. I didn’t belong. To make matters worse, kids looked at the outside of my big brick house and thought I was richer than they were. In high school I drove a bright red Firebird. I was an exceptionally beautiful child voted most likely to be a supermodel by the graduating class which did nothing to help me fit in when boyfriends of potential friends flirted with me. People envied and hated me for the things they saw outside. Things that I didn’t have any control over. In a heartbeat I would’ve given it up to just have a normal healthy family.

The kids at school could never see the pain and sadness inside of me. After awhile I stopped caring about what people thought. I hated small talk and following all the stupid rules anyway. I said screw them and became a rebel, strong and unreachable. When I got hurt, I retreated to the corner and licked my wounds alone. I had to take care of myself because no one else really cared.

I am still the same person. I try to play the best game with the hand I’ve been dealt. On the good days, I thank God for all my blessings. On the bad days, I reject God because I feel he has rejected me. I can’t sing that God has been good to me all my life when I don’t believe it. Why do I feel like God hates me when I try hard to be a good person? I spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect but it didn’t matter.

What is the purpose of pointless suffering? How has it made me a better person? How does it help anybody else? There will always be a part of me that feels alone no matter how many people are around. Maybe God will always be off in the distance and uncaring just like everybody else. I can’t seem to reach him either. I could never find a way to connect to normal people. My life has been way too crazy. I’ve had very different life experiences.

I will never be the motivational speaker that others seem to be. I am not the one who will tell you my anxiety went away by praying more or that my depression was cured by positive thinking. I don’t have the answers, just more questions. I am a broken person that will never be put back together right. Before my brain finished developing I experienced trauma more than compassion and love. I didn’t have that one teacher who made a difference in my life.

What can I say? I have a lot of trust issues. Who else has my back better than me? How am I supposed to trust?

Maybe someday I’ll get it right. Maybe someday I won’t feel angry anymore. Maybe even someday I will trust. But one thing I do know for sure. Soon I will be telling the full story. And it’s far from boring…

Gratitude week 85

  1. Summer! The last couple of days the weather has been perfect. If only we had this weather last week so we could cross Lake Michigan. But I’m not complaining. I’m going to hold on to these nice days as long as they last.
  2. Even though we weren’t able to cross the big lake, we were able to go to some nice places. The pictures turned out great and maybe just maybe I’ll share some later this week.
  3. Although Angel tested negative for COVID, both of my daughters lost their sense of taste and smell. But they are both feeling a lot better and so far no one else has gotten sick that I know of.
  4. Although I love to travel, it is nice to be back at home and sleeping in my own bed.
  5. It’s nice to have a week with nothing planned until the weekend. I decided to spend some time today in the pool and started a new book. I try to remind myself that we were still supposed to be on vacation when I feel like I am being lazy by taking it easy.
  6. I’m grateful to find out what I don’t want. Paul and I are thinking ahead to our 25th anniversary next year. I was thinking that it would be fun to sail somewhere beautiful for our summer anniversary. But after the frustration of not being able to do anything that we planned months in advance for this last trip I would rather do something else.
  7. I started reading My Sister’s Keeper. It’s a great piece of fiction. I wanted to read more memoirs like Educated which was phenomenal. I decided this fall I will start the second edition of my book. I want to read some good memoirs in the mental health genre in the meantime. I want to analyze them to see what makes them great (if they are). Really good books in that genre are hard to find. If anyone has suggestions for books especially dealing with family members with mental health struggles, please let me know.
  8. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m grateful to have a crazy life to write about.
  9. I’m grateful that I don’t have a gas leak in my house especially since after we left we had the rest of the household lose their sense of smell.
  10. After I couldn’t find any in the stores, I’m grateful that my husband was able to order goat macaroni and cheese online for me. No, it’s not made out of goats but it is dairy free and delicious.
  11. I’m grateful for my husband, who was a big part of the leadership for the Lake Michigan crossing cruise, for the difficult decisions he had to make in order to keep everyone safe. We had a total of 5 boats wanting to make the crossing. A majority of the sailors have never sailed across before including all five people on our boat. Some of the boats were small. The rest, besides our boat, had only one experienced sailor with either inexperienced crew, incapacitated crew, or passengers that were very nervous. In some ways I’m grateful we didn’t cross because I couldn’t relax with a sick child at home. I guess it wasn’t meant to be this year.
  12. I’m also very grateful for the people we tried to cross Lake Michigan with, especially those on our boat. Everyone was very kind and supportive after we received the news that our daughter has COVID. Some offered rides home. No one expressed anger or irritation that they could’ve been exposed through us or that we wanted to go home early. Everyone seemed to have the attitude that being sick or exposed was the new world we live in now. I’m grateful to be around a wonderful group of people with a similar hobby.
  13. I’m grateful that my best friend has a new grandbaby.

Gratitude week 82

  1. Today I had my upper endoscopy re-check. Everything looked normal, so I’m grateful for that. I still feel a little doped up so bear with me if I start cracking bad jokes.
  2. Angel, Dan, and I got massages for Angel’s birthday.
  3. Since my massage was way earlier than theirs, I hung around until they were done and then they followed me to the restaurant. Why I’m grateful for this is because apparently both blinkers and break lights weren’t working. I didn’t even know it. I’m grateful that I didn’t get into an accident while my rear lights were out.
  4. Arabella’s boyfriend broke up with her. You might have been wondering if I thought he was a jerk or something to be grateful for this. I am not that mean. What I am grateful for is that her response was appropriate. She was sad and crying, but she wasn’t depressed and didn’t self-harm. She said that she knew she wouldn’t feel this way forever and that she was okay. I truly felt she handled it well. Her boyfriend is leaving for college soon and that is apparently why they broke up. I am truly grateful she is handling the break up better than I expected she would.
  5. Summer!! Oh my gosh, the weather was perfect this past weekend. We spent the weekend up north for Angel’s birthday and had a lot of fun.
  6. I achieved my sailing certification. Although sailing is my husband’s passion a lot more than mine, I wanted to know what to do in case there was an emergency.
  7. Now that I finished reading my sailing certification book, I started reading the book Educated and it is really good. I really want to dig into some really good memoirs as I want to edit and rewrite my own book soon. Wow, I really used the word really a real lot.
  8. My mom is making supper tonight.
  9. I’m grateful that my husband took me to my appointment today.
  10. I’m grateful that my daughter might have a wedding date picked out this week. Then the real fun starts…the wedding dress shopping will be so much fun!

The daughter

Romantic films have happy endings. In real life only the beginnings are happy and nothing ends well. But then, nothing really ends.

The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

I picked up the book The Daughter at the airport in Chicago as I was waiting for my flight. I brought a book with me but almost finished it on the long layover. I bought the book because it looked intriguing. I know, I know, one should never choose a book by its cover. I didn’t know the author. How risky!

The main character of this fictional book was a physician whose daughter went missing. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t. I’ll just tell you that I really liked it and think you would like it too. It struck some heavy chords such as if I wasn’t so busy at work I would’ve known something was wrong with my daughter.

Blame. It’s so easy to get into that trap as a parent. I’ve asked myself many of times what I did wrong. Maybe if I was paying more attention I would’ve known my daughter was depressed. Maybe she wouldn’t have tried to kill herself. Maybe she wouldn’t have mutilated her body so badly from cutting that she needs plastic surgery to look like she did before. But maybe, just maybe, I am part of the reason she is alive right now.

It’s hard not to blame yourself as a parent in the transition from everything’s normal to there is something really wrong. It’s easier to brush it off as a one off even though the patterns indicate it’s clearly not. We tend to trick ourselves into believing everything is fine and blame ourselves later when it’s obviously not.

At the end of the book I read the write up on the author. She is currently a full-time physician and mother of five. In her free time she went back to school to get a Master’s degree in writing and wrote a couple of books, one is a bestseller that I didn’t read yet. How impressive is that?? The author has a brilliant mind and it comes through in her writing. I loved the above quote from her book. Her quote pretty much sums up why I don’t like romance novels. Sometimes life is messy and things don’t work out in the end. I read a book a couple of months back that was a real mess but everything magically worked out in the end. I hated it because it offered false hope and not real life.

My favorite genre of books are psychological thrillers, mysteries, and dramas. I love reading self-help books too because who doesn’t want to fix themselves and everyone around them?!? I also love the classics, historical books, and survival stories fictional and non.

I don’t always want a happy ending. I want real characters and personable honest people. What are you really thinking and experiencing? I want problem upon problem. I want to know how people handle adversity. I don’t want things to magically work out in the end. I don’t know about you, but that is not how my life has been. I want to analyze how people deal with difficult circumstances. I want to know about the things you don’t want to tell anybody.

I finished my book that I was writing. It’s been over a year now. I even sent it off to test readers. But things changed. Since then I found out about the crime my dad committed. My daughter started struggling with serious mental health issues. I was no longer constrained to writing about my experiences as a sibling of someone with serious mental health issues. I could now write as a mother.

I am hoping to process everything I’ve experienced within the past year and write about it on my blog. From there I would like to incorporate it into the first edition of my book. To me it’s not all about happy endings, it’s about learning to live with what we have been given. There is beauty to be found in tragedy. That is where real stories of hope, courage, and inspiration lie.

I finished my book!!

Last night I finished my book, my life story. It stirred within me many mixed emotions. I felt like I was covered in a blanket of deep sorrow, yet at the same time I felt joy. It’s been a journey of remembering and releasing in words previously unexpressed.

Last night I sent my book to two test readers, a friend who is an author and a friend that is a child psychologist who works specifically with autistic children. I also sent a copy to my therapist. After I receive feedback, I will edit my book again. Then I want to send my book to my husband, my daughter Angel, my son Alex, and my brother Luke. After that, I am going to find a publisher. Then I will share it with you.

Perhaps this will start the healing process, perhaps not.

I figure if I can do some really difficult things (like running a 50k or writing a book revealing my trauma), then I probably can figure out a way to do something almost everyone can do. Relax. Heal. Let go.

I have been working with my therapist on brainspotting. I shared my first session with you and that was a very positive experience. After that session, things took a dark turn. I have been releasing all of the negative garbage I’ve been holding inside. It stinks! I’ve been working hard on trying to express my feelings. It has been painful, yet beneficial. Through this process, my lifelong struggle with insomnia and nightmares has gone away.

For a long time, I understood myself. I know what triggers my depression and anxiety. I understand the attacks of my trauma on my well being. But I’ve never known what to do about it. Visiting a therapist is taking the next step. Self-awareness is important, but it isn’t a catalyst for change.

I’m trying to give up control. It’s not like I had any in the first place. Just like being a clean freak never seems to make the dirt go away. Being a control freak doesn’t give peace and serenity to the voice that cries out for it. Worry is a waste of time. It doesn’t bring me peace.

I am trying to figure out who I really am. For most of my life I lived in survival mode. Now who am I? The person I needed to be to survive? Or who I really am? It’s hard to be myself if I don’t know who I really am. It’s a new time for self-discovery and growth. I want to fully experience my purpose in life.

I started meditating. Maybe I will try yoga. I always burned my anxiety off by hard workouts at the gym. This is how I process my anger. I am going to keep this, but add to it by including relaxation exercises.

I am going to read a Bible verse a day. This will incorporate inspiration for spiritual healing and growth. I want to trust God more. I also want to trust the people that care about me even if it means I might get hurt. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships. I want to cut off unhealthy relationships altogether, and if I can’t then I’ll set healthy boundaries.

I also started visiting a wellness clinic for physical healing of my body. My nervous system took a big hit from the long term stress. I suffered from stomach and GI issues my whole life. I’ve been working on avoiding the foods I am sensitive to and rebuilding my gut for optimal physical health.

If I can train my body for a 50k, I can train my body for growth and healing. My book is done, but I will never stop writing. The story hasn’t ended yet. The best is yet to come.

I finished my book!!!

Tonight I’m celebrating.

I finished my book today!

I know that now the hard work begins…editing…trying to find a good publisher. But tonight I will put all those worries aside.

Tomorrow the video I created will be sent out to hundreds of parents of autistic children. Then it will be posted online to be viewed by countless people. I am nervous and excited to see what will happen.

Thanks for your continued encouragement and support!! I just wanted to share the good news!