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.

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.

Up north upset

Why does there always have to be drama with my family??

It started already before we even got up north. I invited my kids and their significant others up north for the fourth. They all said yes. It’s been a family tradition for decades and this was the first time in a long time that all the kids could go. Paul had to work all day Friday. Originally we weren’t going to go up Friday at all, but two out of three of our kids wanted to go up then.

We weren’t going to be getting up north until late. This presented a problem with supper. I was going to be bringing up all of our food and we weren’t going to be up their until at least 8 PM. Dan and Angel and Alex and Lexi were going to be riding up together on motorcycles. They wanted to leave earlier to make sure they were up there before it got dark and had limited room to bring along food. I asked my mom if she had something they could eat when they got there. But she told me they should stop at a bar. Then she said she bought 4 bags of cheese curds for my brother Mark. I was puzzled by our conversation and thought my mom was acting strange. I was also annoyed and wished I had a parent who liked to provide food for her family.

I decided just to make supper for everyone at home last minute. By the time we got up north it was after 8 and my mom was ready to go to bed shortly thereafter. Everyone up there (my mom, my brother Mark, his wife Carla, and brother Matt) was ready for bed at 9. So we moved outside to start a fire and watch the fireworks about ready to start. Mark did not talk to me. My SIL Carla yelled at me to move the motorcycle helmets off the table. That was about it. I felt like they were avoiding us.

During the fire, I found out Mark and Carla were rude to Lexi before Paul and I got up there. My mom asked Mark and Carla if they met Lexi. After being prompted several times, Mark grouchily said yes and walked away. My kids said they did not feel welcomed and that hurt me deeply.

It all started a couple years ago when my mom sent their laptop for Dan to fix and remove pictures from. Dan and Angel found child porn on the computer and took it to the police. That night up north Dan told me he did not feel welcomed by my family. He said it was all his fault too. I gave Dan a hug and told him I was happy he was there and he is not to blame for what my dad did. But Mark and Carla apparently do not feel that way. They treat my dad like the victim and Angel and Dan like they are to blame.

I awoke very early the next morning thinking about telling Carla off. I wanted to tell her about how my dad was abusive towards us when we were kids. I wanted to tell her I couldn’t count on one hand any good memories I had with my dad. I wanted to tell her that he was never nice to my kids, quite the opposite in fact. I wanted to tell her all these things, but didn’t. Maybe things would be different if he was a loving father and grandfather who struggled with addiction.

Instead that morning, Mark, Carla, and my mom went to rummage sales. Carla whipped the car keys at my brother Mark, then yelled at him when he didn’t catch them. I can’t stand how mean she is to my brother, but I’m not sure there is anything I can do about it. Thankfully I see them only a couple times per year.

Also, that morning, my son got ice out of the freezer for his water. Apparently it was Carla’s ice. She yelled at my son saying it wasn’t community ice. My son apologized and said he would buy her some more ice. I wasn’t quite so patient. I yelled as they were going out the door that it was just fucking ice. Later that day they left to go spend time with my dad. The whole experience left me angry, anxious, and depressed for almost a whole week afterwards. I can’t stand when my kids are mistreated for something they didn’t even do wrong. My daughter is getting married in less than 3 months and I don’t even want to invite half of the family I am inviting to the wedding.

Other than that, my kids and their significant others all got along marvelously. It was close to miraculous. I wish I could just focus on that and let the bad slip away. I really have to examine how much time I want to spend with my extended family if they are going to upset me so much.

Gratitude week 130

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

Broken peace

Last week Paul and I had our first opportunity to volunteer at a center that offers assistance for families in need. There was someone who sticks out in my mind, a young woman in her early 20’s who was very pregnant. Apparently she usually comes in with another lady who was also pregnant. But this time she came in alone and said the friend she usually comes in with was in the hospital delivering a stillborn baby. It was heartbreaking and I didn’t even know the lady.

Later the volunteer coordinator said to us she would get through it and be fine since she has the Lord to lean on. I really hope so. Does anyone ever really get over the loss of a child? Today it’s been 4 years since my friend Lisa lost her daughter in a car accident. I still worry about my friend. It’s hard to watch her suffer and only have thoughts and prayers to offer.

I don’t know about you, but I am really horrible at having a strong faith in times of trouble. I am pretty good at doubting though. Do our prayers change the heart of God? Does he really care about the continuum of time? The truth is we are all going to die.

I’ve had to accept a lot of things. Sometimes I have fleeting moments of peace. I’ve come a long way from feeling I would never be able to climb out of the despair.

Maybe I’m forever stuck in the loop of viewing my heavenly father as my earthly father. I’m just being honest here. I felt anger towards God. I’ve had to parent my parents since I can remember. Why can’t I just walk away? Why do I feel responsible for them? I never had parents I could go to for support.

When I found out about my dad’s crime and a few months later my daughter attempted suicide, I turned to our pastor for support. But I felt like I was doing something wrong. I didn’t forgive. I wasn’t good enough or have enough faith to be blessed with a healthy family. I took advice from a pastor who had some of the best parents I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t abused. His dad wasn’t a pedophile. He wasn’t dealing with decades of childhood trauma. He didn’t grow up in a household of worry and fear. His childhood gave him good memories, mine gave me PTSD. It was like trying to get marriage advice from a priest. He couldn’t relate.

But somehow I came through it. I made my peace with God. Our new pastor is great, although I know he can not relate. Not many can. Our church has a shortage of pastors. The other day my husband said if he was younger he would’ve liked to be a pastor. I think he would make a great pastor, I would not however make the best pastor’s wife. The sad thing is Paul said he didn’t feel like he would ever be good enough to be a pastor, he is too broken.

But somehow I think it’s better to help others when you have been through it yourself. Between Paul and I, we’ve both been through a lot of hard times and maybe we can use our experiences to help others. It took me two years to get to the spot where I thought maybe I could experience joy in my life again. It took a lot of work. I still struggle. Sometimes I wonder if God cares. If you find you are having a hard time getting by with the little faith you have, you are not the only one.

I wish I had good advice to help other people in our lives who might be hurting. What did I want in my darkest days? What I wanted more than anything was to be left alone, but that also wasn’t healthy for me to isolate myself. It helped to have a couple people to talk to that didn’t treat me like something was wrong with me because they couldn’t understand. My best friend would check in on me every couple of days. Don’t just offer thoughts and prayers, look at me with pity, and go on your merry way. Ask what you can do to help. Say kind things like…I don’t know how you can stay sane. Talk about your problems with me. I felt bad when friends wanted to talk but said my problems are nothing compared to yours.

When I see others struggle with similar circumstances, I try to tell them they are not alone or that I felt the same way they did. I understand why people don’t cut their dysfunctional families out of their lives. It’s because they are a good person. They want to help. They have been conditioned from a young age to have to do things most people have no understanding about. The fear of a parent killing them self and you are the only person who might be able to stop it, fix it can not just walk away. Don’t tell someone who has lost a child to just get over it. There is no timeline for grief.

We can really hurt others with our words. But more importantly, we can offer great comfort and help. That is the true joy of suffering.

Life lately

I started having bad dreams again, nothing too terrifying. Last night it was the wild animals. I spotted a bear in the distance that wanted to get inside of my house. Then there were the dogs. They snarled and clawed outside my door if I tried to lock them out. It was horrifying to let them in, but if I did they ran through my house then were gone.

Sometimes I feel memories clawing through my mind. Memories I want to repress, but the more I do the more they nag me swirling endlessly awaiting connection. Incomplete memories, a camera, the fish tank upstairs that I don’t remember being upstairs, other things…

My therapist asked if remembering would change the way I feel about myself. I said it could go one of two ways. I could be more bitter than I already am. Or I can think I survived more than I thought I could with a certain courageousness.

My therapist asked if it would change how I felt about my parents. I said I didn’t think so. I will always view my mother as weak. She always seemed to protect the wrong people. My dad, I don’t even think all my children would even attend his funeral. He never made an impact on anyone’s life. Oh, I stand corrected. He never made a POSITIVE impact on anyone’s life. At this point, what would it matter?

I did learn something new about my dad. When my brother Luke called he told me about some things my dad did to him that I didn’t know. But the new details weren’t upsetting as much as my brother calling me to vent. You see, Luke is the strong one. Most times I think he is stronger than me. He rarely calls to vent. He said that time wasn’t healing his wounds, instead they are oozing and festering. I feel sad he can’t escape the pain anymore than I can.

Then Arabella came to visit for a few days. She lost her job. She is never to work on time and has a tendency to not get along with her managers. It is hard not to get wrapped up in my worry for her.

Then my mom came over. She didn’t sleep well the night before and emotionally was a big mess. I can’t help but feel some of it is her own fault. She has had several therapists tell her if she doesn’t like her life, she should change it. They tell her she should leave my dad, but in the end she always leaves the therapists who tell her that. My brother Luke said if my dad dies my mom will either wake up and realize she was in a bad relationship all along or she will immediately find someone else just like him.

I think about that a lot lately, my parents dying. My mom is in a really bad head space right now. It wears on me. Then I am worried about my daughter and my own aging. My doctor appointment is less than two weeks away. My therapist said I should focus more on my wisdom and insight versus the aging process. She is right. I might not have all the cards I want in my hand, but it would be smart to play my strong suit.

My therapist also said I have an extraordinary amount of stability for everything I have been through. I sometimes wonder…shouldn’t I be crazier? I found her words to be very encouraging. Yet I have to be careful. Last week I read the whole childhood portion of my book. I thought to myself, what a bit pile of shit. I got into a ferocious mood. I have to take writing and reading in small doses. I can’t do it when I am under a lot of stress. Writing has been healing for me. But it also can be the sword that cuts open my wounds if I am not careful. Having nightmares and a hard week with family is a good time to back off a bit.

I have not be happy lately. I feel as if I have been neglecting this blog. I am going to try to write more even if I don’t have anything to say.

The old normal, part 5

Right before COVID we pretty much cut my dad out of our lives. I have very limited contact. Sadly, or maybe thankfully, it wasn’t a big change for us. My dad is the oldest living relative in his family line. I was very close to his parents and aunts and uncles. They were all wonderful people. I’m not really sure why my dad turned out the way he did.

My mom is also the oldest living relative in her family line. Unlike my dad, she comes from a large family. We would typically see the extended family at Christmas and the yearly family reunion.

This year I was not welcome to attend the family festivities because of my vaccination status. This was mainly spearheaded by my Aunt Jan. I felt angry and hurt. It was hard to understand. It wasn’t like I was going to be killing grandpa and grandma because they’ve been dead a long time. I do not consider my aunts and uncles to be elderly. My youngest aunt is the same age as my husband all the way up to my mom’s age of 73. Most of my aunts and uncles are in their 60’s.

Pretty much all of them do high risk activities (including my Aunt Jan) such as going out to eat at restaurants, travelling by airplane, and going to church. But I was not okay sitting across the room wearing a mask after getting tested?

It also didn’t matter that I was going through hell and probably could use the support of family. Aunt Jan knew about my dad’s crime. She was the one who told me I needed to take care of my mother. She always told me I needed to take care of my mom even when I was a child and needed someone to take care of me. Then she went on with her own life which did not include ever once taking any of us four children so my mom could get a break. She knew I spent the last couple of years dealing with my daughter’s serious mental illness.

This has been a pattern of behavior for my Aunt Jan for a long time. I just didn’t realize it until now. She acts like she cares, but is controlling and rejecting. When she was hosting showers, she invited one of my daughters but not the other. She also didn’t invite a cousin who was between the ages of my daughters. My other aunt and I were upset about this because our daughters felt hurt and left out.

My Aunt Jan also wanted my daughter Angel to sing in her son’s wedding. She said if Angel was singing then she was invited but our other children would not be. The wedding was out of town and we needed to get a hotel room. She told me my mother-in-law could watch my other children. At the time my MIL was at the end stages of lung cancer. Before that she didn’t really help with the kids that much anyway.

I can think of several other examples, but I think you get the point. Now my Aunt Jan is reaching out to me and I have been ignoring her. I really want to tell her off but now I heard she is having some health problems. To make things even more complicated, now there is a family feud and some of my aunts and uncles have vowed to never speak to each other again. With my daughter getting married, this has been one big mess.

At this time, I’ve decided to really limit contact with my extended family. One good thing that happened because I wasn’t able to go to the Christmas party was that I was able to reestablish my friendship with Lisa again. She came over the weekend I should’ve been with the extended family.

I’ve decided to let go of some relationships with friends and family because they are unhealthy for me. COVID has been a time of great reflection. I’m finally starting to realize what’s important in my life and when it’s time to let go. I’m starting to be a lot more selective about who I spend my time with. I just don’t know why I didn’t realize it sooner.

Gratitude week 113

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

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.