I’m drowning

The day started out rough. Or should I say the night as neither Paul nor I slept well. I had another nightmare, woke up crying which awoke him and pretty much kept him up. Last night I had this dream where someone stole my car, totaled it, and ran off leaving me to take the blame. The last month has been bad with the insomnia and nightmares. I don’t know what to do about it.

I had a dream that a guy sexually assaulted my dog and pretty much left him to die bleeding, whimpering, and crying. But it was okay because somehow I took money from the guy. I awoke crying and sickened. That was the first and worst nightmare.

I had a dream that the end of the world was coming. A few minutes before it happened, terror struck the room in a premonition that something bad was going to happen. People started screaming, the lights buzzed and flickered, time went in slow motion, and then there was nothing.

I had a dream I was at the family reunion and no one knew my kids’ names. I had a dream I was sitting next to a lady who was laughing at and mocking my daughter because she had no idea she was mentally ill.

This morning I got a call from one of the AirBnB’s saying they needed to cancel our reservation next week due to remodeling. Why would they start a remodeling project at the end of tourist season?? I was immediately suspicious because I got a call from them a couple months back saying they double booked the cabin but not to worry they would take care of it. I pretty much spent all morning trying to find other accommodations.

I am already stressed about the trip. I’m afraid that my son and daughter at home will fight like they did the last couple of trips. My daughter Angel and I got into a fight about it this morning while we were discussing it. I’m afraid that my mom won’t do well on the trip. She is already mentioning she is feeling really anxious about going. I will be surprised if I don’t have to take her to the ER on this trip.

Arabella is also going on the trip for a graduation gift. I am worried about that as well. I don’t think she is doing well. She is sleeping all day and staying up all night. How is that going to work on this trip?? I think she slept 12 hours yesterday. I tried to wake her up at supper time but she kept sleeping. Not that she would eat with us anyway, but I keep asking. I recently read that wake sleep cycle dysregulation could be a serious health problem.

Arabella must’ve gotten up after I went to bed last night because I heard her come home at 5 AM from somewhere. She had to work at 10:30 AM. I had some errands to run but when I got back home she left for work. Shortly after her scheduled shift, she came back home and went back to bed. I asked her if everything was alright. She told me to leave her alone. I am still afraid she is going to lose her job. She has been late a lot lately especially for the morning shifts. She is refusing to talk to me.

I hope she has a psych eval soon. I have been noticing more troubling behavior. I know without a doubt she is borderline. I think she might be bipolar but I am questioning if she does have schizoaffective disorder like her psychiatrist mentioned before. My daughter is delusional. Now she thinks she is psychic. She has the ability to look at people’s pictures on Tinder and know things about them that they don’t even know. SHE PICKS UP VIBES OFF OF PICTURES ON TINDER. Do you know how terrifying that is as a parent???? She can tell if people are safe or not by looking at pictures. She goes out at night by herself when I am trying to sleep. I think I am a pretty good judge of character, but even I can be fooled sometimes after I’ve known someone for years. My God, I hope she doesn’t get murdered. But not to worry, she live streams on social media everywhere she goes.

The other troubling thing is that she is obese but thinks she is anorexic. She doesn’t eat with us. She sits in her room and binge eats junk food. She probably lost 15 lbs. when she got COVID. She said she needed to gain weight because she was getting way too thin. What??? She could lose 100 lbs. and people would not think she is thin. Not only that, but she is showing us and people who come to our house her stomach. She thinks she has 6 pack abs. She does not. The other day she chased her sister down as her sister was leaving in her car and had her stop to show her her abs. She thinks everyone is obsessed with her.

Arabella was always a bright girl, but I see her mental illness taking away all the dreams I had for her and it is horrifying. I really think it’s a matter of time before I need to put her on some kind of disability. She will never be able to take care of herself. She can’t even manage her medication and appointments. The only hope I have is if she can hold down this job. I’m grieving the loss of who she was, the bright girl with an even brighter future. It really sucks.

I’m trying to let go and live my own life. But how can I?? I feel like I’m drowning. Some days it just takes all I’ve got trying to keep my head above water.

Questionable truth

My first memory was of my dad standing over my autistic brother and hitting him while he flailed back on the floor. They were in the kitchen and on that day I remember my brother screaming and the cupboard doors rattling. He must’ve been 3 because I was around 4. My mom stood in the doorway a few rooms away holding back my brother Mark while I stood by her and watched.

That’s how my life started out. Many well meaning people who would rather not get involved told me things such as God is in control and God will never give you more than you can handle. No one prayed more fervently than me. God if you are in control, please make it stop. But my dad never became the loving father I wanted him to be. My brother never became normal. Did I do something wrong? Did I pray wrong? I couldn’t understand why things didn’t change when I so badly wanted them to. I tried my best to be perfect but still nothing changed.

There were many times I felt like I couldn’t take anymore. I wondered what would happen when I finally broke. But that didn’t happen either. I became angry at God. If he wasn’t going to control things, I sure was going to try to. I became pretty good at controlling myself, others not so much.

For a long time I carried the burden of over responsibility. I can clearly remember when that started. I was 6 when I watched my younger brothers swim in the lake by myself. That was the day my baby brother almost drowned. I always thought that it was my fault until many years later when I realized how young I was. Maybe it even started before then, but I can’t remember. I always felt like I was responsible for things I didn’t have control over.

It became my job to try to fix things. I became a pretty good problem solver and counselor, but that should never be the responsibility of a child. In essence, I took the place of my dad because he only reacted with anger over issues and never stepped up. Still I prayed every night that things would change, but they never did.

If God wasn’t going to change things I was going to try to. But that didn’t really work so well for me either.

Then I thought maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. It’s time to throw away the childish coping mechanisms that I clung to. It’s not very realistic to think God is going to force my dad to become the father I’ve always wanted him to be. He had that choice and he threw it away.

The last post I talked about how strongly I felt about the freedom of choice. But maybe I don’t really want that. Maybe I just want God to sweep down and take control of my dad so he loves me.

Just because I want something to be good or perfect doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way. My idea of God being in control and taking all my problems away when I can’t handle them anymore is incorrect.

Lately I was looking at my new 2022 pocket calendar. Inside there were little fun things to write about. One was to write down your favorite memory you had with your dad. I was stumped. I thought and thought for a long time. Nothing.

But for the first time, I didn’t blame it on God. I blamed it on my dad. I shouldn’t feel guilty for not wanting to continue having a relationship with someone who hurt me. I shouldn’t feel sorry for him either. But I struggle with the thought that I am causing pain and that somehow this is my fault.

I am still confused about my relationship with God. What’s the purpose of prayer if God doesn’t answer them? My husband says that prayer is supposed to make us feel better about the situations we are in versus changing the situation. That is hard for me to understand because for me feeling better means things will change. Apparently I still have a lot to learn.

Maybe I am healing and growing if I am questioning things I always thought were truth.

I just want the boring life

I should’ve known what kind of day I would have when my phone alarm woke me up this morning. You see, I never set my alarm. At 6:40 AM it started playing an explicit song called Woman by someone called Doja Cat on Spotify. I never heard the song before. I don’t know why it happened. When I searched the internet all I could find is that people have to pay to get an app that does that. Lucky me! All I have to say is that I’m happy it didn’t happen at 4 in the morning. My son said maybe it was a sign of some sort. Of what I don’t know.

I feel so frustrated by life that sometimes I just want to leave it behind and walk away. I guess it’s better than wanting to find the closest cliff to jump off of.

It stormed most of the day. Finally a good storm that the thunder cracked so loud it seemed to shake the very foundation of my house. I stayed inside and cleaned.

Paul had his first appointment with a new counselor. She asked him an interesting question. Who do you turn to for support? He didn’t have an answer. Really besides me, he has no one else. He didn’t have a dad or even a grandfather. He didn’t have a mentor. My dad was pretty much worthless to fill those shoes. There wasn’t anyone. He was alone but always willing to give the shirt off of his back when someone else needed help. It makes me so sad. We were always alone having to help parent our parents that never supported us. He can’t turn to me when I have nothing left to give. It’s no wonder why he wants to drink if it takes away some of the pain. He has done so well in life compared to where he came from. But he has his own demons and I have mine. He really likes this counselor but he came back angry. That’s okay though, I understand. I would be angry too. I am angry too. I respect him for trying to better himself, he didn’t have to go.

The last couple of years have been unbearable mainly because of my dad and the mental health struggles we’ve had with Arabella. I lost a part of myself. I am rarely fun anymore. I just feel an unrelenting sorrow. If you saw me you would see it on my face even if I did smile at you. I’m struggling to keep my faith. I’m angry a lot, but mainly sad.

I’m having a hard time with everything lately for more reasons than I’ve had a chance to share with you. The last couple of days Arabella has been slipping into depressed mode. She’s been manic for months. I hate the manic mode for her impulsiveness and risky behavior. But the last couple of days she switched. She quit her second job and I worry she might lose her first. She has been working as a server the past two months. When she was manic she was very upbeat and personable. But the last two days she has been crying uncontrollably while at work. They had to pull her off the floor because they didn’t want her crying in front of customers. Instead she spent her shift folding napkins in the back. Then today, although she wasn’t scheduled to work, she wanted to go in to hang around the people at work because they are nice.

I am so terrified that they are going to let her go. She had a hard time even finding that job in a labor shortage. What am I going to do? I can’t have her not working and am so afraid she is going to be suicidal again especially if she loses this job. Thankfully she has an appointment on Thursday with the psychiatric nurse. I told Arabella to tell her what has been going on. I don’t think it will help, but maybe. I know she is an adult and I should let it go, but what if she needs help? It’s hard because her best friend is going off to college this week and she is not. She has been moody and angry towards me when I try to talk to her sometimes. Some days she likes me, other days she does not.

Then the icing on the cake was that my son got pulled over tonight a half a block from our driveway. A couple weeks back he bought a fire engine red Camaro that roamed the earth with the dinosaurs, or should I say pre-internet right around when I graduated from high school. That car is so fast I could probably outrun my demons in it or maybe he could his guardian angel. I knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t know it would happen so soon. I think he bought a lemon too. He got it from a guy that bought it 3 months ago. He bought it a couple weeks back, drove it a few days, and then it ended up in the garage getting fixed until today. But anyway, he was travelling about three times the speed limit and got pulled over. I was nice enough to run his insurance cards down to him so he would avoid getting ticketed for that too.

I decided to punch a boxing bag to help work off some of the stress but ended up knocking it off it’s stand. So here I am writing instead. So much for light and fluffy posts. I don’t think I have much of that left in me. Maybe I should just go to bed before anything else happens. But if I wake up to a song tomorrow morning I think I’ll have my son run over my phone with his fast car. I really want tomorrow to be boring and uneventful.

I want the boring life.

Threats of imaginary monsters??

I was never safe. Matt was autistic/schizophrenic. He was the most dangerous when he was hearing voices. You could almost always tell when he was hearing voices because he would mutter back to them. Sometimes he would laugh in a way described as purely evil like a villain in a superhero movie except without the superhero. He was in his own psychotic world he couldn’t easily be pulled out of. He would become incredibly agitated in this state. His ears would turn red and his eyes constrict as if possessed. He was small but had superhuman strength in those moments. It was a matter of time before he hurt someone. Those were the days when we couldn’t leave the house with him. It was too dangerous.

Matt was also violent when the voices were silent especially when he had to do something he didn’t want to do. The most common thing he would do was pull someone’s hair, mainly mine. When I say he pulled my hair, it was more than a little tug. He would latch onto a fistful of hair and yank while his victim screamed trying to get away. I would’ve thought I would’ve lost more hair than I actually did. Typically it would take at the optimal two people to restrain him and try to peel his hands off of their head. I’ve done it many times. I’ve also been the victim of his attacks countless times because I was the only one in our house that was little and had long hair.

There were also times Matt would attack for no apparent reason. Here are some of the things I’ve seen him do as a child to myself and others, some strangers. He gave black eyes, bloody lips and noses, head butts, scratched up arms, pulled hair, kicked, poked eyes, slugged just to name a few. I was often seen sporting bruises and clawed up arms. He threatened me with a knife. He tortured my pets. He was so violent that he was not allowed in school for several years, the school sent a teacher out to our house. Hence the home school years. The police were called when he went back to school. He was arrested. Somewhere there is a mug shot of him.

Matt being violent was a common (at times multiple daily) occurrence throughout my childhood. He ran around like a wild child. We were not safe day or night. My mom took him to every doctor she could find in desperation but it wasn’t until he was in his 30’s that an anti-psychotic medicine removed his violent tendencies and rendered him docile.

Being autistic, Matt was extremely hypersensitive. He could not tolerate his teeth being brushed. This was very problematic because his teeth were rotting. My parents tried the best they could but he usually screamed every night when it was teeth brushing time. Sometimes my mom couldn’t do it and asked my dad for help. My dad would get angry, manhandle Matt and forcibly brush his teeth. This made Matt incredibly agitated. He didn’t dare attack my dad because my dad would give it back. A lot of times Matt would harm himself mainly by beating his head over and over with his fist.

There were journal accounts written by my mother of Matt attacking our sleeping youngest brother Luke. Imagine a little child awoken from sleep by being hit with a fist. Sometimes Matt would come into my room at night when I was trying to sleep with his fist raised at me.

But here is where I was lucky. Matt and my two other brothers had to share a room. I had my own room. But being a child, I was too frightened to sleep with my door closed and locked. There were demons and monsters hiding under my bed and in the closet. There were murderous dolls in my room just waiting for me to close my eyes. There were kidnappers outside the window. There were things that could get me if I slept with my door closed. As a child I was so afraid of the imaginary things that I was unable to protect myself from the real threats.

Now I am an adult and have long outgrown the threats of imaginary monsters. When I am up north with my extended family I am usually the last one to go to bed and the first to arise. Unconsciously I must feel safer that way. To this day I am a light sleeper and awake to every noise hyper-vigilant of every possible threat. I wish I could say that I outgrew the need to protect myself like I outgrew the threats of imaginary monsters. My body never overcame the fear that I was not safe.

But I am safe now.

Am I mentally ill?

I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs and books (not to mention blogs) lately about people who struggle themselves or have family members with mental health issues. I have seen a common theme that I can’t disregard. One of the most important factors in recovery that I can’t deny is having parents who are supportive through this struggle.

If I think about it, the most difficult thing about my dad was not his porn addiction. It wasn’t his hoarding. It also wasn’t his lack of good hygiene. For the most part, he just didn’t care and that was a good thing. We tried hard to keep under his radar because we didn’t want him to notice us. Him noticing us involved bursts of explosive anger. He frequently told us how stupid we were or how we would never amount to anything. Our dreams, aspirations, and goals were ridiculous. He laughed when we cried.

The hardest part though for me was when he would taunt us with the things we were most afraid of. He amplified our fears. For example, he knew I was afraid of weeds. One of the few times he went in the lake with us as kids, he grabbed me and forced me to stand in the muck and weeds. I cried as he laughed at all of the things that slithered under the weeds that my feet could be touching. It was horrifying. I screamed and I cried for him to let go while he laughed. When he finally let go I ran for shore while he chucked weeds and even a dead fish at me while calling me names.

Then at times in my life when I am afraid, I wonder why God hates me. I wonder why I have trust issues that no one else seems to have. I wonder why I almost feel better at the thought of a distant God than one who hates me. Duh?

My relationship with my mom is much more complicated. She always expected too much from me, perfection. I felt this way since I can remember. But the first real memory of this for me was when my mom had me watch my three younger brothers in the lake by myself so she could spend time with my dad in the cabin. I was 6 and one of my brothers almost drowned. That’s too much responsibility.

My mom never confronted my dad for his poor behavior. But she would move heaven and earth for Matt. If someone gave him a wrong food just to be nice she would call the school and chew that person out. But when I had to go to school to try out for cheerleading while I had the flu and a high fever and I was the only person that didn’t make the team nothing was done.

My mom loved playing the martyr card. She got a lot of attention for having a special need’s child and an asshole husband. But she never did anything about it. She never gave Matt the skills to live without her. She never confronted my dad for being cruel to their children or anything else other wives would’ve left him for.

She also likes to manipulate, control, and guilt trip. She was jealous when I had friends because I was her best friend. She pulled me out of school from 8th through 10th grade where I lived in extreme isolation. She didn’t like the guy I was dating so she set me up with my ex without me knowing it. She made me feel guilty about even thinking about leaving the area to go to college or living my own life that didn’t revolve around helping her or caring for Matt. But the hard part is that I think my mom is a genuinely good person. She just saps the life out of everyone she is around with her negative energy.

My dad struggles with depression, my mom with anxiety. I can’t remember a time in my life before I started struggling with anxiety and depression. Not only was it modeled to me but there probably was a genetic component as well. I really could’ve used their help with my own struggles. I could’ve used their help when I was raising my own children. I could’ve used their help when I had to deal with my own children’s mental health struggles. But they always needed me to help them. It’s no wonder why I feel so alone. My husband doesn’t have any family either.

I guess maybe the moral of the story is that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. If I needed to be a certain way such as untrusting in order to survive then maybe I shouldn’t shame myself for having a lack of trust. It might just take a little longer than most people to get there. If nothing else my husband and I, although neither one of us has had it, try to be supportive parents of our children when they are struggling with their own mental health issues. At one point I even thought that maybe they wouldn’t struggle if we were good enough parents. Unfortunately that’s not true. There’s hardly a sane person in the family. What did I expect??

But we can do our best to help them through. Besides, sane is boring anyway!! I’ll keep telling myself that.

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…

Triggered

Maybe my expectations were too high. I thought that my dysfunctional family of origin could handle being functional for a couple days. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently so.

It started out okay. I headed up north with Angel after she was done working on the Thursday before the 4th. We were jamming to our favorite tunes that were cranked. A couple people waved as they passed us on the highway. People everywhere were excited to celebrate the first big holiday after COVID. The weather was going to be absolutely perfect. Who could ask for more?

Thursday went well. Angel and I opened up the cabin. A couple hours later my brother Luke joined us with his family. But after that pretty much everything went downhill. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why. I had a plan for everything. The plan was if my mom slept well, she would drive up with my brother Matt. If she didn’t sleep well, they would hitch a ride with my husband Paul.

It looked like my mom left the house, so I got my nieces all psyched up for her to visit when my mom called me and said she wasn’t coming up. My brother Luke and his family were leaving later that afternoon for family camp which meant my mom wasn’t going to see them since she was feeling tired and anxious. This was really triggering since a couple weeks before my mom left my brother’s house right before my niece had her dance concert. Now everyone was angry and hurt. My nieces were so incredibly sad saying that grandma didn’t care about them. I was furious because I already had contingency plans A through F in place in case something like this would happen.

The new plan was that my brother Mark and his wife would pick up my mom after driving 5 hours. They were going to spend some time with my dad because Angel and Luke did not want to see him. Luke ended up going to pick up my mom instead. Everything got all messed up and everyone was upset.

Eventually on Friday afternoon almost everyone was up north. I thought the problems would end there, they didn’t. Arabella called to tell me that her car wouldn’t start and how was she going to make it to work the whole weekend. I told her she could use my car. Another problem solved.

My husband decided to help out by mowing the lawn since my dad doesn’t do anything to get the cabin ready for us. He is terribly lazy and now that he has this new heart condition he does absolutely nothing. He won’t even take out the trash now. He expects everyone to take care of him. But I digress. Since my dad didn’t mow the lawn, Paul did. The grass was so high that Paul did not see the metal line that the dog was tied up to and hit it. It got all twisted up in the lawnmower. Worse yet, it yanked the dog so hard that his collar broke. Originally Paul had him chained to his choke chain and I put him on his collar. Good thing because it probably would’ve killed him otherwise. I was very angry that my dog could’ve died.

That evening my brother Luke and my daughter Angel left. Angel was very upset before leaving. My brother Mark’s wife Carla did not congratulate her on her engagement. She made passive aggressive comments about Angel sleeping in their bedroom. She also said how she couldn’t wait to have steak with my dad. Angel took this as an attack. My brother Luke does not want his daughters around my dad nor does my daughter Angel after she found child porn on my dad’s computer and turned him in to the police. Angel felt like Carla was blaming her for this. After Luke and Angel left, my dad showed up which is another stressor. Matt and my dad are very difficult people to be around.

Carla screamed at my brother Mark the whole weekend. She yelled at him for everything like eating his cheese separately from the burger she cut the cheese for. She is incredibly controlling and verbally abusive. At one point she yelled at him so much that I was even shaking. It triggered my husband because his mom was the same way. He wanted to tell her off but we didn’t want to make things worse for Mark. Carla offered to take care of my dad and Matt so my mom didn’t have to. She was taking it out on Mark.

Paul and I tried to spend as much time outdoors away from everyone as we could. Sunday morning I suggested to Paul that we go kayaking. Then everyone wanted to go kayaking. Carla yelled at Mark that she wanted to go and why didn’t he plan that for her. Since the kayaks were Mark and Carla’s, we decided to pull the canoe out of the garage. My mom wanted to go too. We didn’t get far before she wanted us to turn around since she can’t swim and is afraid of water. Then she wanted us to take Matt so he wouldn’t be left out. Matt is worse on the water than she is so we said maybe later.

There were some good things that happened over the 4th. The fireworks over the lake were absolutely awesome. My aunt Jan came out with her husband and my son came up for the fireworks. But for the most part, I found the weekend with family to be very triggering. My anxiety was through the roof. I fell into a deep depression that took almost a week to pull myself out of. I felt like I was a child trapped in despair. It dragged me back to that feeling again. It was hard to see others triggered by the events too. I always liked being up north. As a child, it seemed like a safe and special place. But then I started to remember times when it wasn’t that way. It ruined my memory that there was any safe or happy place in childhood. The things I clung to were remarkably but unbeknownst flawed.

I really think that I need to limit how much time I spend with my family of origin. I didn’t realize how much it would negatively impact my current state of mental health.

Current craziness

I didn’t sleep well the last two nights. Both nights I had nightmares. This morning I woke up crying.

The worst nightmare had to do with my dad. I was at his house but it looked like a cluttered maze outdoors. The worst part of the dream was when I passed by a small fish tank filled with beautiful fully grown aquatic animals. The sting ray really caught my eye. There wasn’t any water in the tank. I watched the beautiful creatures suffocate. Some had already turned to bones but were still gasping for air. It was very upsetting to me but I had to pretend I didn’t notice their suffering. I couldn’t do anything to save the creatures. If I gave them water they would still be crammed in a tank that was too small for them.

I usually have insomnia and intense nightmares where I wake up crying when I do sleep when I am under an extreme amount of emotional distress. But I feel relatively fine. It’s rather troubling because of the disconnect. Does my body/mind know something I don’t?

This week went okay, better than last. My husband and I went to therapy together. It went really well. I have been frustrated because my husband is constantly barraging me to share my feelings with him. I don’t always want to so he pressures me more to the point where I get really angry with him and tell him a whole lot of stuff that he doesn’t want to hear. It doesn’t work well. The therapist made the discovery that when I don’t talk about how I feel, it triggers Paul’s fear of abandonment. I thought he was just trying to be controlling. Once I understood his struggle, I felt more compassion for him because there are times I do totally withdraw into myself. I put up my walls then I hide behind them.

I struggle with Paul because he started drinking again a couple weeks back. He didn’t make it the full year like he promised. He is under the impression that he can control it now and it is not going to control him. I also feel a similar fear that when he hides there I am not going to find him and our relationship will eventually end. So I constantly police him and everyone else. It’s not that I am controlling either, it’s that I am afraid.

It’s been hard not to police Arabella since she got back from residential. For the first week things were great. So great I got my hopes up. Since turning 18, Arabella doesn’t really want me to manage her anymore. I can’t really blame her. But the problem is that she can’t manage herself. Without any structure she has been sleeping strange hours. Sometimes she doesn’t get up until mid-afternoon and takes her morning pills then. Then she takes her night time pills at the wee hours of the morning. One morning she was taking her bedtime pills when I was waking up. Then she complains that her meds are out of whack. I told her she needs to take her morning pills and evening pills at the same time every day roughly 12 hours apart. But she doesn’t listen because she is an adult and knows better than I do. It’s frustrating.

She also over drafted her bank account. She started gambling once she turned 18. She bought $70 worth of scratch offs and now she is in the negative. Then the next day she wanted to borrow some money and got angry when I told her no. She argued with me about a graduation party. She wanted to send out an open invite to everyone we know and have them bring a dish to pass. I told her that is not how it works. On her graduation she refused to take a lot of pictures, so I don’t have any pictures of her and I alone at all.

It’s been hard to let go because she can’t manage things without me and then hates me for it. But things haven’t been all bad. She has kept her room pretty clean since coming home. She also hasn’t been self-harming or suicidal which is great. Quite the opposite in fact. She has been talking almost non-stop about how wonderful and beautiful she is. So many people want her that she doesn’t know which one to choose. Everyone stares at her and talks about how beautiful she is. It is extreme, disconcerting, and a bit delusional. I’ll take it over self-hatred though.

Meanwhile, my mom came back early from her trip with my brother Luke. Apparently they are not getting along now either. My mom freaked out because she didn’t sleep well and asked my dad to come pick her up. She was supposed to stay for my niece’s dance recital but left. Then my mom took too many of her anxiety pills because she thought it would help her sleep then ended up going to the ER because her blood pressure went through the roof. On her paperwork, it says she went to the ER for an OD. I really don’t know what she was thinking. But that is the problem, when she doesn’t sleep she gets very anxious and irrational.

The good thing was that my mom was able to go to my daughter’s graduation. Originally the graduation was only open to parents and guardians, but then they changed it last minute to include up to 4 family members. Since my mom already made plans around not being able to go I encouraged her to keep the plans with my brother and his family. Maybe now I am in trouble too since my mom went to the graduation instead of the dance recital. She asked me not to post any pictures with her in them at the graduation and I said no.

Apparently Luke and his wife said some harsh words to my mom. My mom said that Luke said she shouldn’t be staying with me because she wasn’t my responsibility. He said I couldn’t handle it or something. I know he was trying to protect me, but it made me angry because he didn’t call me one time since my mom moved in to check up on me. So his opinion about how I feel doesn’t really matter. I’m capable of taking care of myself.

Okay, maybe my life has been stressful lately and that is why I am having nightmares again. I don’t feel more stressed than usual though. Although tonight I am going up north for a few days. My mom will be there with my dad and Matt so I’m not sure how relaxing that will truly be.

Who knows, maybe I’m having a nervous breakdown and I don’t even know it. Wouldn’t that be funny? I always had this fantasy that when I finally snap I’ll do something really crazy. But compared to everyone else, perhaps I am the boring one.

Isolation

I felt very isolated from my family. My brother Luke’s wife Emily gave me a call several weeks before Christmas. Their household had COVID in November so no one was concerned much about that with them. They were planning on renting a place close by and visiting for the holiday. Before that, I didn’t talk to my brothers much about what was happening with Arabella. I hate being the person who only calls with bad news. My brother Luke pretty much has a panic attack every time he sees my number on his caller ID as it is.

We set up a date to get together. Then I told Emily about the struggles I’d been having with Arabella. A week later my mom told me they decided not to come for Christmas. I can’t be sure, but I think it had a lot to do with Arabella. My mom said she wasn’t going to come over here for Christmas because of COVID, but she still could’ve spent time with my brother and his family because they were no longer a threat for her. The other issue is that my brother will not step foot in my parents house with his children as long as my dad is alive or living there. I respect his decision, but it still hurts. I can’t help but think that some of the reason he wasn’t coming home was because he didn’t want his children around my daughter.

I felt very isolated at a time when I could have used the support of friends and especially family. I don’t particularly care if I ever see my dad again either. My kids want nothing to do with him. The relationship with him was strained long before my daughter found child porn on his computer.

There was also a time when my brother Luke and I wanted nothing to do with our brother Matt either due to his mental illness. When he was hearing voices to attack/kill our children, we had to keep them apart for the safety of our children. But I never quite knew how it felt as the mother of someone who is severely mentally ill. It is painful and isolating to feel like we had to handle this by ourselves. I haven’t seen my brother Mark since 2019.

When I was a teenager, my brother Matt was so violent that he was homebound from school. They sent a retired school teacher out to our house. Because of this, I was homeschooled in almost complete isolation from 8th to 10th grade. My brother Matt was psychotic and my dad was always this greasy guy. How many friends do you think I was able to bring home?? Plus we lived in a hoarding house. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t a pleasant place to live and I couldn’t stand it. I literally wanted to die and childhood couldn’t end soon enough for me because I was so miserable. I lost a lot of friendships because my brother attacked pretty much everyone who was in our house or who came to it.

I am no stranger to isolation. It was different back then. My family were the only ones that lived in isolation. Everyone around us had relatively normal lives. Kids went to school. Adults went to work. The world moved on without us.

When I heard my brother changed his mind about coming to visit for the holidays, I was heartbroken. When Arabella’s friends dropped like flies I felt a crushing sadness because I knew the isolation that was to come.

There is a difference in not being able to visit and not wanting to. The sense of abandonment in that is hard to overcome. But yet I understand it because I’ve stood on both sides of it.

Over the borderline

I’ve always been the sentimental type. I don’t know why dates and anniversaries are so important to me, they just are.

Arabella was in the mental hospital for the third time over Thanksgiving. I didn’t feel like there was much left to be thankful for. For the first time, we didn’t get together with family over the holidays. It was just my husband, our other two kids, and my best friend and her family for Thanksgiving. I lost the spirit of joy and celebration. COVID tore everything apart that my dad didn’t put asunder.

It was the one year anniversary of the devastating call from my daughter Angel that she found child porn on my dad’s computer. Thanksgiving, that is when my mom gave the computer over to my daughter for her boyfriend to fix. It’s when everything started. I didn’t think the anniversary would be so difficult for me. Or maybe it was because my daughter was in the hospital again or that my whole family seemed to be torn from me.

It threw me back into a time of mourning, a grief so piercing that nothing could break through. It had been a whole year and nothing was resolved. My dad was still living at home. My mom was close to a nervous breakdown and stuck in the house with him. She would swing from feeling a tremendous amount of love towards my dad to wanting to leave but not wanting to be alone. She was terrified of the pandemic. Her anxiety was spinning out of control with her fear of dying along with a lifetime of trauma. She stopped sleeping at night. But there was nothing I could do to help her because she was afraid of me because of COVID.

My daughter Angel moved back home a couple months before Thanksgiving. I could see the fallout from her experience with my dad. She was not the same person she used to be. Before she was friendly, outgoing, and happy. That changed. She was not the same happy go lucky people person. She became anxious about social outings. She became rather cynical of life and the happy person I dropped off at freshman year of college was gone. The suffering caused mainly in part from my family of origin gave her some major trust issues. I wanted to protect my children from it but try as I did I couldn’t. I blamed my dad for the loss of my daughter. I didn’t share this with anyone but it was around that time when Angel got diagnosed with anxiety and a mild form of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Sometimes I wish that I would never see my family of origin again because of the extent of suffering caused by their hand. I feel a lot of guilt for feeling this way. I harbor a lot of anger and resentment for all the decades of pain and suffering they caused. Looking back, I can’t even say that most of my childhood trauma was caused by my dad. Most of it was caused by Matt. It’s super hard to have an autistic/schizophrenic brother that hears voices to hurt/kill pretty much everyone I cared about along with any unlucky stranger who was victim to his psychotic rage. I was never protected. I’ve lost so much I can’t even count the number of people I’ve seen him hurt.

Meanwhile, Arabella was in the hospital. Finally someone listened to what I was saying. My daughter Arabella was showing signs of having severe Borderline and they agreed with me. I didn’t feel blamed. They got her started on the waiting list for the residential treatment program that she is in now. How did I end up with two daughters with borderline right around the same time? Do you realize how chaotic my house is? I’m pretty sure my MIL had borderline and I suspect my mother has it as well. It does have a genetic component to it, so that makes sense. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

This last Thanksgiving was a huge trigger and I felt bad for not feeling thankful at a time of celebrated thanksgiving. I knew I had a lot to be grateful for but I couldn’t seem to find a way out of the suffering I found myself in.