Gratitude week 56

1. I’m grateful that we were able to go on our vacation.

2. I’m grateful that so far things are going pretty good at home.

3. I checked visiting Arkansas off my bucket list.

4. I’m grateful I planned ahead and was able to get an appointment for a couples massage and healing soak at the Quapaw Bathhouse.

5. I just crossed Mississippi off my bucket list. We are driving through it now.

6. I’m grateful that I was able to find the Packers playoff game on the radio so I can go back home still married.

7. It’s awesome to be able to write a post on my phone during a long car ride.

8. Tomorrow my mom is getting her COVID shot. Maybe we’ll get to see more of her now. I’m hoping that this will ease her extreme anxiety.

9. I’m grateful to be heading towards warmer weather.

10. I’m grateful for a husband that not only loves to travel but is also athletic with me. We hiked all day yesterday at Hot Springs National Park. The high temp was 44, but it was still 40 degrees warmer there than at home.

What if…tomorrow

My husband and I are still planning on going on our trip tomorrow. Worse comes to worse we only are a couple hours from home by plane and thanks to modern technology we can be reached by phone. The world won’t end without us (but it is a good idea to stock up on toilet paper and be prepared anyway).

I wrestled with myself about going. I have to fight the guilt I feel about going away. What if something goes wrong at home while I am gone? What if my daughter kills herself? What if someone gets in an accident on the icy roads? What if someone gets sick? The what if scenarios swirl around in my head so fast I can barely catch up with them.

What if????…………………………………

But the truth of the matter is that life goes on without me. I could die in a plane crash tomorrow. Okay, maybe that was a little too close to home. Do I have control over the virus, accidents, decisions of others, acts of God and fate itself? No. Sometimes I feel like I have to be responsible for things I can’t control anyway.

I have other things to consider. My husband’s parents both died in their mid-60’s. My husband is within 10 years of the death of his first parent. That is sobering as you all know how fast 10 years can fly. I can’t put time back in the hourglass once it is gone. My mom isn’t even within 10 years of her dad’s death if you don’t count her mother dying during childbirth. It could be realistic that my mom outlives my husband. I have been considering these things. You just don’t know how much time someone has so you had better make the most of the time you do have.

To make matters worse, since Paul didn’t know his dad we don’t even know how he died. I was tempted to order a death certificate just to know. If it was diabetes, I would cut back on the sweets in the house. Paul said it was worse to know because then I would be difficult to live with and he would be right. Sometimes I feel like knowledge is power just like those damn TV shows said when I was a kid. Who do I think I am? God??

All of our days are numbered and there is nothing I can do to change that. I try to be as healthy as I can but that doesn’t stop time. I still can’t stop doing unhealthy things like worrying all the time.

Some day life will go on without me. The clock is ticking and I want to make as many memories as I can. My husband is important and I shouldn’t let a bad case of the what ifs stop us from getting a much needed break. It’s time to start packing!

Gratitude week 55

  1. Although this was something I was initially upset about, I’m grateful that I made a wasted trip to the psychiatrist with my daughter a week earlier due to a scheduling error. Arabella was not doing well the day of her rescheduled appointment which lead the psychiatrist take my concerns seriously. He thinks she has more serious mental health issues then he initially thought. Then he told us he was retiring and couldn’t help anymore. The appointment was devastating on many levels, but at least we are closer to getting answers.
  2. I got a hair cut and my nails done today. I feel like a new person.
  3. My husband and I are still planning on taking the vacation I planned several months back. We are flying out this week to Arkansas and spending a few days in Hot Springs then traveling on to New Orleans. From there we will be staying on the Alabama coast and flying out of Florida. I have been conflicted about this trip. I booked it before I knew how serious things were with my daughter. As of now we are going. We have been pretty burnt out and could really use a break.
  4. I’m grateful we have trustworthy and reliable people in place to take care of things at home while we are gone.
  5. I’m grateful I finished the series about my dad. It was one of the hardest things I had to write about. So much so that I considered not even doing it. But as it is a personal blog, I am hoping to write about the good and the bad things in my life. After we get back from our trip I am going to lighten things up a bit and write about our travels. Then I am going to dive into another deep topic, having a child develop severe mental health issues during a pandemic. I’m hoping to post one more time this week. So don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for awhile!
  6. I’m grateful that my best friend picked me up and took me out to brunch over the weekend.
  7. I’m grateful for a good conversation with my mom yesterday.
  8. I’m grateful to realize that I need to take care of myself once in awhile too.
  9. I’m grateful to be travelling with Paul and for the adventures we will have. We’ve had a lot of stress and so many plans fall through this past year.
  10. I’m grateful to have had some tests done today to continue on my path to seek health. I’m hoping with this trip it won’t feel so long before I get the results back.

Still waiting…

We were expecting something to happen at any minute when COVID hit the nation. Nothing happened. Would they delay pressing charges?

The detective told me they found 20 images on the laptop. That was before they took my dad’s main computer. I hardly think that would be overlooked. We are talking felony charges, a hefty fine, and my dad spending the rest of his life in prison. It’s hard to process. Would I go to the trial? Would I visit him in prison? Write letters? A part of me doesn’t want to worry about that until it happen.

When the pandemic hit the nation, my brother’s group home shut down temporarily and my brother came home. My mom became paranoid about the virus. She pushed almost everyone away. Yet she was stuck at home with my dad and brother, both who needed care. I watched my mom start to slip. It wore her down and she stopped sleeping. She started taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills but none of it really worked. She ended up having a bad side effect from the medication and ended up in the hospital.

I took my brother back to his group home. Once they took him back he was not allowed to come back home and hasn’t been home since. Meanwhile, my mom stayed at home locked in the house with my dad. She started doing strange things. Sometimes she wanted to leave my dad, then at other times she told me that my dad was now the love of her life. He held her at night when she couldn’t sleep and helped her through it. He comforted her from the pain he caused her. It was all very bizarre and I had to wonder if she had some sort of mental illness that went beyond anxiety. No one would blame her for wanting to leave. But staying?

In June, the police department contacted my parents and said they could pick up some of the items from evidence. They printed off the photos on the laptop for my mom like they said they would. That is how this whole thing started. My mom’s laptop crashed and she wanted to save her pictures so she gave it to my daughter’s boyfriend to fix. The police printed off her pictures but kept the laptop as evidence. They also kept my dad’s computer. I can’t even imagine how many images were found on there.

This set us off to feeling upset, angry, and on edge again. It could be any minute, any time that they would receive a knock on the door. I accompanied my mom to visit the lawyer to get her affairs in order. The conversation about my dad was very uncomfortable. In the end, she didn’t end up doing anything.

I think part of my mom’s decision to stay with my dad was because she didn’t want to leave the house she has been living in for the last 45 years. Also, if he is arrested and goes to prison she really doesn’t have to go through all the work of moving. The house would be hers.

But there was a part of her that pressured us to accept our dad. Your dad loves you. Your dad is praying for you. She wrote birthday cards where she went back to cross out the I and wrote WE love you. Sometimes she would talk to me on speaker phone and I didn’t know my dad was listening to the conversation. Sometimes she would prompt him to say things to me…tell your daughter that you love her. It was uncomfortable and disturbing. I honestly think that both of my parents might have serious mental health problems.

It’s been over a year now. Still nothing has happened. The first 7 months were especially challenging. With COVID and my dad we haven’t gotten together with family for over a year. I didn’t even talk to or see my brother Mark in 2020. The family cabin has fallen into disrepair. Our hands are tied because our dad owns the cabin. There have been miscommunications and hard feelings. It sucks!

It’s messed up but I’ve been processing it. I realize it could all unravel at any minute. But until then I’ll be waiting for the ax to drop. As the song says, sometimes the waiting is the hardest part.

Gratitude week 52

  1. Here’s to a whole year of gratitude! Cheers!
  2. Everyone in our house thought this was one of the best Christmases in years. The kids were happy with their gifts, everyone worked hard to get along, we played games, and there was even a dusting of snow on the ground.
  3. This has been a crazy Christmas season, but somehow we made things work. We didn’t get together with the extended family this year, but there was less stress and busyness. I’ve heard a lot of crazy things…some friend’s family members were invited for the holidays and others were not because some were a higher risk of COVID. Other families weren’t getting together because others couldn’t afford to have a gift exchange because their income was cut due to COVID. How petty! It seems this year that more people celebrated the holidays with their chosen family instead of their given family.
  4. After my son went to the ER and had a lot of testing done, he still has neck pain. Well, the weekend on call dentist was wrong saying it wasn’t his wisdom teeth over the phone. Maybe I’ll send her the bill for the ER visit and CT scan. My son went to the dentist this week and the pain he is experiencing is coming from his wisdom teeth. So, thankfully we found out where his pain is coming from. Now he just has to wait another week to get them removed.
  5. I’m grateful to spend Christmas Eve with friends having a good meal and going to the candlelit Christmas service.
  6. I’m grateful to be able to help someone in need this Christmas. A mom of one of my son’s friends is having a hard year. Her husband left her for a younger woman, then she lost her job. She is struggling with kids at home while we have food on our table. Paul and I decided to give her a gift card for the grocery store. I said it is not real giving if we give pocket change. True giving should make you feel a little uncomfortable. I feel grateful that we were able to find someone in need and help them this Christmas.
  7. I’m grateful for the gifts I received. I really needed a new pair of slippers.
  8. I feel grateful for Christmas lights.
  9. I’m grateful for great Christmas food. I did tons of baking this year…two pies, four batches of cookies…plus my other favorites like deviled eggs. I think I need to do a detox diet in January in the years to come. I’m afraid to step on the scale.
  10. I’m grateful that all my kids are living at home. It’s always so busy. If they all move out within 6 months like they all want to, it’s going to be way too quiet. Thankfully they all want to stay within the area.

Gratitude week 51

  1. Paul started working for a small family business. They had their office party at a hibachi grill this past week. It really was a nice time. Afterwards, Paul and I drove around to look at the Christmas lights.
  2. I finished reading a book on boundaries. I found out I have a lot of work to do. I find that I feel guilty setting boundaries with certain people (like my mom). Even blogging at times makes me feel guilty. Guilt is a feeling I need to work through to set boundaries and write about my life, but it doesn’t mean that I’ve done something wrong. I never realized that before.
  3. This is a big one. My mom apologized to me this week. Last Sunday she came by my house, even though we can’t have Christmas and she doesn’t ‘visit’ because of COVID, and asked me why I didn’t answer when she tried to call me. She has a tendency to call at the worst times like when I am in the middle of making supper. She said she was having a hard time and thank God her sister Jan was around to help her through it unlike me. If she left a message saying she needed to talk to someone, I would call her back. This time she came over and angrily asked me what I was doing that was so important I couldn’t take her call. Her visit left me angry and upset for several days until she apologized.
  4. Christmas lights! I love them so much I might leave some up year round.
  5. Baking Christmas cookies. Yesterday I made roll out Christmas cookies with icing. Today I made Amish sugar cookies. I found some of my grandma’s old recipes that I will also try out in the next couple days. We are getting together with Cindy’s family on Christmas Eve and I am planning on bringing a lot of the food.
  6. It’s only 5 days until Christmas and I am pretty much ready for it. Now we just need some snow!!
  7. Our investment from selling our business finally came through!!! The dividend check should get us through for awhile! I’m grateful to not have to worry so much about money. Arabella just got on the waiting list for residential mental health treatment. Unfortunately it looks like our insurance will not be covering it and it is very, very expensive. It will be worth it if she gets the help she needs and her quality of life improves. It helps to have options available for financing it if we need to. I was really stressing out about it.
  8. We went out to eat this week to celebrate the investment. We had a really nice family time with our two oldest kids. Of course my mom tried calling while we were out to eat and I didn’t answer. Can’t win them all I guess.
  9. I’m grateful that I now have over 900 followers. I never thought I would get to this point when I first started. I read a book a couple years back from a blog of a lady that was training to run her first marathon. I thought, wow, I want to try blogging and running a marathon. Now here I am writing about personal things I never thought I would be writing about. And here you are right with me!
  10. I never thought I would be saying this but I’ve reached the point in my life that yoga and meditation sounds better than pounding my body by doing marathons. While I still want to run, I have no desire to race anymore. What is one more medal anyway? I no longer want to be on stage. I’ve had my lead roles. I no longer want to sing in front of people. I no longer long for high stress hobbies. My body is tired and wants rest. My mind is ready to embrace a slower pace. It’s time to try something new. I’m grateful to be ready to accept the aging me.

Clipped wings

I was my mom’s best friend. There was nothing that happened in our house that I didn’t know about. In fact, I was an active part of the decision making. When my dad wasn’t terrorizing the house, he neglected us. He was angry if he had to take any responsibility at all for us and would often take it out on us. Most of the time when he wasn’t roaring or raging you could find him in front of the TV.

As next in line, my mom asked me. My mom couldn’t decide what to do with our dog when her intestine twisted. The vet took x-rays and said we would be taking our dog home to die a painful death. My mom couldn’t decide what to do. I wanted to take the dog home. As the night progressed, the dog’s suffering increased. She asked me if we should have the neighbor come over and shoot our dog. I told her I didn’t want that because the neighbor shot his puppy for chasing the chickens. I didn’t want him anywhere near my dog. Maybe our dog would live. I made the wrong call because I was too immature to make adult decisions as a child. Meanwhile, my dad laughed and talked with his friends in the other room.

At 6 years old, I was responsible for watching my 3 younger brothers swim in the lake. My parents wanted some time to themselves in the cabin. My brother almost drowned. I froze as he flailed and choked. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t move. I was not mature enough to handle the responsibility I was given. Yet somehow I felt like I was responsible and had to control the outcome of something I was incapable of doing.

I was responsible to comfort my mother after my dad was mean to her. I was responsible to help her feel better if she had a rough day with Matt. I listened to her and held her as she cried. I told her everything would be okay. Yet I was never comforted.

I was responsible for the outdoor cats. I fed them and cared for them. When one cat was a bad mom and let her kittens freeze to death, it was my responsibility to bury the kittens. I dug a hole, but after touching the first cold kitten I screamed and threw the box of dead kittens into the tall grass. It was horrifying.

My brothers and I had to do a lot of chores like hauling wood. One time I almost hurt myself carrying the biggest log. After that, I was no longer allowed to do men’s work. From that day on I was in charge of laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and when needed meal prep. I was allowed to play in my room when my brothers worked outside. All the while my dad called them lazy and yelled at them when they didn’t work hard enough. It always made me feel guilty watching them suffer.

I was responsible to care for my autistic brother. He was mean to me but I was responsible to make sure no one was mean to him at school. I helped shower him and make his meals. I was his second mother. It was my responsibility to take care of him forever. My mom didn’t want me to go far away for college. She was jealous when I had other friends because she was my best friend. She pretty much clipped my wings before I figured out I could fly.

When my brother Matt was at his most violent, my mom pulled us all out of school. I was home schooled from 8th to 10th grade. I rarely left the house. COVID was not the first time I lived in isolation. It was hard because my friends went on with life without me. I should’ve been allowed to be a child. In some ways I thought I was cool. Who doesn’t want to be an adult when they are a child? As an adult I wondered what it would be like to be a child. But it was too late to go back. I missed out on the magic and wonder. My biggest regret was that I was never allowed to live. I didn’t even realize it until it was too late.

I decided from a young age that my own children would only be allowed to be children. I didn’t want them to have any responsibilities or many chores. I was going to protect them by not telling them anything that was going on in the house. I was going to try to hide all problems from them and deceive them into believing the world was a good place. I took on that responsibility because it was already my burden to bear. I couldn’t break free from feeling like I was responsible for things I had no control over. I didn’t want my children to feel like I did.

The gift unwanted

If I could pinpoint the beginning, it would be today. Or maybe I should say everything became unraveled last year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That was the day everything became revealed that unraveled everything else. A new trauma that unwrapped the old in a dirty messy gift I didn’t want. I say gift because when I tell people they say it makes me stronger, a better person. I can’t blame them, it was the only positive thing they could think of saying. But maybe I just wanted to be average, normal.

It really started on Thanksgiving day last year. We had people over for Thanksgiving, more friends than family. Maybe if I’d known it would be the last normal Thanksgiving I would’ve felt less stressed out. But we didn’t have the lovely gift of 20/20 at that time.

My mom brought it with her. It sat in the corner next to the piano until my daughter Angel took it back to her apartment with her after Thanksgiving break. She was going to give it to her boyfriend Dan to fix.

I awoke from nightmares this Thanksgiving morning and wiped away my silent tears. I could tell you the day my life fell apart. It all started then. The anniversary haunts me. My demons delight. I barely survived the blow.

If only the snowstorm last year was a few days earlier. Could I have stopped it? Or maybe if I wasn’t so over responsible. Once my grandma couldn’t host the holidays anymore, I took over. It should’ve been passed down to my mom, then me. But I took it on. It didn’t matter that I was in my early 20’s. It didn’t matter when my husband had a cancer scare and needed major surgery over the holidays. It didn’t matter when I had newborns or 3 little kids underfoot. My husband and I did it all, sometimes my brother Luke relieved me of that responsibility.

I resent the fact that I always had to be the supporter but never got the support I needed. Or maybe it’s because I am a dumping ground for feelings and baggage I never needed to carry. I’ve been carrying boulders for so long it’s no wonder my back hurts.

A few weeks ago my mom dropped off pool shock when she cleaned out the garage from a pool she had operating 8 years ago. It only has a shelf life of 6 months and now I need to find a place to dispose of her trash. She stops by to drop off her junk but can’t visit because of COVID.

That’s what happened last year. She dropped off more junk. She had this laptop that was chock full of viruses. She wanted Dan to fix it and get her pictures off of it. The laptop came here with her on Thanksgiving. It sat at our house by the piano for a few days. Then it travelled home with Angel through the snowstorm several hours away.

Then this nightmare all started the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Oh how I wish it never began. The phone rang late that evening. It hit me hard like an unexpected punch in the gut that took my breath away. I called my brother Luke and he fell to the ground and sobbed in front of his children. After that day, it was hard to carry on.

On that day, my demons were stoked and I was scarred for life. The flames consumed me and the smoke kept me from seeing clearly. I thought I would never feel joy again. I kept myself hidden from the world. I continued the lie that everything was alright. I kept secrets.

But that ends today.

Gratitude week 48

  1. I finished writing the census series. I did forget a couple of stories. I was required to wear a mask, but one day I forgot. I had to cross a busy street in a downpour to go to an apartment complex that was always locked. But that one time the door was open. I went upstairs and knocked on the door. It sounded like someone was home. I was mortified because after I knocked I realized I had forgotten my mask in the car. That was a time I was thankful no one answered. I’m grateful to be able to share my stories with you.
  2. I’m grateful that I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving this week with my best friend and her family. Apparently she called her parents to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and found out that her siblings were invited over for the holiday but she was not. She works at the hospital and her parents consider her high risk for COVID so she is not welcome for the holidays this year but her siblings are. They didn’t even tell her. I’m grateful that we could get together to celebrate. I feel hurt by my mom as well. She considers us high risk but she still gets together with other people. We could really use her support right now. I wonder how many other families are dealing with this.
  3. I am glad that I have 2 days left on my detox diet. I am saving the pumpkin pie my friend made for the morning I am done. I told my daughter Angel to please not make deviled eggs otherwise I would crack. We’ll save the devil for Christmas.
  4. Yesterday my husband and I found the perfect Christmas tree. Every year I try to pick a theme. It has been difficult this year because we aren’t in any shows. Sorry, but quarantine is a sucky theme. In a couple weeks, it will be the 20th anniversary of my grandpa’s passing. This year I decided to dedicate our tree in tribute to him. If it wasn’t for my grandparents there is a good chance I wouldn’t be telling you my story today. I put 20 candy canes on the tree and decorated it with the pine cones my grandfather made many years ago. I feel like I was directed to the perfect tree in remembrance of him. I’m grateful I have some good memories to pass on to my kids.
  5. My daughter Arabella is in the hospital again. This is the third time in the last four months. She has been diagnosed with Major Depression with Borderline traits. The suicide rate for Borderline is 10%. I can’t imagine what it is combined with depression. I’m grateful that for now she is safe. This year has been hell for a lot more than COVID. I am going to start a new series tomorrow that will explore this past year.
  6. As I was decorating my tree yesterday I was very dismayed by the selection of Christmas music, so I made my own Christmas playlist. It includes both sacred and secular songs. I have over 8 hours of playtime and have hit every single genre from opera, traditional, rap, reggae, polka, pop, rock, metal, instrumental, funny….
  7. We have entered the season of light. This has been such a horrific year that I decided to decorate my house with every single strand of Christmas lights I own. I am going to be grateful for Christmas this year even if I can’t leave the house.
  8. I am grateful I was able to see my craniosacral massage therapist this week.
  9. I’m grateful for the classic Christmas movies. Last night we watched It’s a Wonderful Life. It makes me wonder how I have impacted other peoples lives. What would the life of others be like if we were never born? Wow, that is deep. I really should watch a comedy or something.
  10. Yesterday I cleaned out Arabella’s frog cage. I’m not sure how it even happened but her frogs escaped in her room. I asked Angel to help me catch them but she is afraid of frogs. She just ran around the room screaming. I’m grateful I caught them. The cage is clean and everything turned out alright.
  11. My son and I ran into his old piano teacher at the grocery store. She was a very instrumental person in his life throughout his difficult teen years. It was wonderful to see her again and find her well.

The benefits of working

Just like our greatest strengths can be weaknesses, some benefits of working were the same as the downfalls. Working for the census was adventurous and exciting yet at the same time anxiety producing. I had fears yet at the same time I had the joy of confronting my fears. I had to go to dangerous neighborhoods, yet at the same time it was sobering to see how other people lived.

There were some things I really liked about working. Working allowed me to get out of the problems of my own life and throw myself into something productive. I got paid well. I was able to contribute a paycheck to help support my family. I was able to set my own hours. I believed in the importance of the work I was doing.

I got some exercise because I did a lot of walking. I explored parts of my state that I’ve never seen before. I became familiar with the neighborhood around me.

As crazy as it sounds, this job also pulled me out of my shell especially in the time of COVID when I had every excuse not to interact with people. I met some really awesome people that I probably would hang out with as friends if we met under different circumstances.

I felt respected by the community in general. People thanked me for my service in counting the people. Other people respected me simply because it was something they could never do.

There were fun times that I just had to laugh at myself like the time I almost got into someone else’s car because I wasn’t paying attention. Then there was the time I came home from work and realized I must’ve stepped in dog crap somewhere along the way.

I met up with a lot of different families. I listened and learned about other people’s lives. I watched and observed how other people lived without judgment. People are very interesting. It was a job I could combine facts with people.

Thankfully the whole time I worked I was able to stay healthy and safe. I think the experience was worthwhile.