Gratitude week 79

  1. Arabella was the only server that showed up to work on the 4th of July. So, yeah, I think they forgot about the day she slept through her whole shift.
  2. The fireworks were absolutely amazing over the lake.
  3. Summer! I was able to spend a lot of time on the water over the holiday weekend. The weather has been crazy this year. It has been extremely hot, in the 90’s, for the last couple of days. Later this week it’s supposed to be in the 60’s with rain. It’s either been incredibly hot or cool and rainy.
  4. I saw all three of my brothers this past weekend, one of my brothers I haven’t seen since before COVID.
  5. I put on my new boxing gloves for the first time this past week. My son is teaching me how to box. I gotta have nice looking arms for the wedding.
  6. It’s my birthday month. I can’t believe my birthday is next week already. I’m thankful for another year of life.
  7. I’m grateful that my husband was able to buy a new battery for Arabella’s car when it died.
  8. I’m grateful that he was also able to take our son in to get a new phone when it died.
  9. I’m grateful for the family that sent my daughter engagement gifts. It was very thoughtful of them.
  10. I was finally able to spend time with my nieces for the first time this year.

Gratitude week 78

  1. Oh my gosh guys, this is super exciting!!! My daughter Angel got engaged over the weekend. Finally some good news!
  2. Summer!! Even though it’s been raining hard the last couple of days. (We do need the rain though).
  3. My daughter Arabella paid us back the money she owed us and so far loves her new job.
  4. I had two appointments with my therapist this past week. The last couple of weeks I’ve been really anxious and am starting to have stomachaches again. I’m hoping to manage my stress better, so here is to taking steps to do that.
  5. Yesterday I celebrated the graduation of my best friend’s son. Again, I was able to catch up with some acquaintances that I haven’t seen since before COVID. It was cool and rainy so we huddled inside their garage most of the afternoon. But it was nice to celebrate with friends on a rainy day that I wouldn’t do much else on. I won’t take for granted celebrating with friends after last year with COVID.
  6. I can’t believe that it will be the 4th of July next weekend. I have plans to go up north with my family to celebrate. It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen Luke and I haven’t seen my brother Mark and his wife since before COVID.
  7. Thunderstorms without severe weather.
  8. Oh my gosh, my daughter is getting married. How can that be??
  9. My daughter’s fiancĂ© Dan is a really great guy.
  10. I’m just grateful right now to be home and sleeping in my own bed.

Residential waiting list

We received the call that Arabella’s name came up on the waiting list for the DBT residential program for adolescent girls. We had less than a week to get everything together. She had to be there within a certain time period or she would lose her place. This was her last opportunity since they said she could not be there after turning 18. She was less than 3 months until 18 which meant by the time she came up on the waiting list again, she would be too old for the program.

She abruptly ended her time with the outpatient program that she was in for 2 months. I had to switch a dentist appointment around last minute. Thankfully they were able to sneak her in earlier with short notice. The residential program needed her dental records. We ended up getting all of the paperwork together and appointments done as soon as we possibly could. It was months of wait, wait, wait then boom hurry as fast as you could to get everything together. Plus I had to work with the insurance company which was pretty much a waste of my time. We ended up paying for everything out of pocket which wasn’t cheap. We emptied Arabella’s college fund. She wasn’t interested in college anyway. Without residential we honestly didn’t know if she would live that long anyway. This was our last ditch effort to save her life.

To make matters far more stressful, we also had a COVID scare within that time period. My daughter Angel’s boyfriend Dan tested positive then my daughter got sick with COVID as well. Once we found out he was sick, my daughter stayed with him at his parent’s house and didn’t come back home until she was better. It was a matter of life and death. If Arabella couldn’t go into the program because of a positive test I feared she would die. It was horrible and terrifying. FYI admitting your child into an inpatient, outpatient, or residential program is stressful and crappy as it is without the extra stress.

They ask questions such as how many suicide attempts have you made and when was the last one. My daughter answered that many times she cut herself so deeply that she was hoping not to wake up in the morning. They ask so many disturbing personal questions that no parent wants to hear the answer to. I suffered greatly the first time I saw the cutting on her arm. I had nightmares for days when I could sleep that is. It was very traumatic for me.

Thankfully Arabella’s COVID test came back negative and we all remained healthy at our house. I do think that the residential program has helped Arabella tremendously learn the skills that are needed to live a healthy and productive emotionally regulated life. We, as her parents, worked very closely with her therapist and the psychiatrist. We received a DBT parent workbook and listened to podcasts. It didn’t cure her. She is still taking plenty of medications. It was a very rewarding experience except for the cost. But as the saying goes…you get what you pay for.

Arabella was in the residential program for a little over 2 months. I’ve noticed a lot of improvements since she got back. It was worth it to give her a second chance at life. Now it is up to her what happens next. We did everything we could.

Gratitude week 76

  1. Arabella found a waitressing job! I am grateful she has a job now.
  2. I forgot to mention this one sooner…Last year my mom, Arabella, and I were planning on going to Europe with the school group on a music tour. Because of COVID the trip got cancelled and the tour company kept $1900 per person. Hundreds of people joined a lawsuit against this company and we won. We got our money back. I can understand if the company kept a couple hundred dollars as a processing fee for the work done, but $1900 that a lot of students (and parents) worked hard to earn and fundraise for. I’m grateful for justice.
  3. Friday night we went to a surprise birthday party for the guy my husband works for in the off season of our business. It was held at a bar and grill that had a live band. We ended up seeing a lot of people we knew that we didn’t see since before the pandemic. Everyone was dancing and partying like it was 1999. It was so nice to see everyone and hear live music again.
  4. We had our first graduation party for the summer this past weekend as well. Again, it was nice to see people I haven’t seen since the pandemic. Although I’m not much of a social butterfly, it’s nice to have the choice to attend parties again.
  5. My son is turning 21 this week and I have his birthday all planned out for him. (He wanted me to plan everything which totally surprised me!).
  6. Talking about birthdays, my brother Mark called me today to wish me a happy birthday. Funny thing is, it’s not my birthday. He was off by a month. But it was great to talk to him since I haven’t seen nor talked to him since before COVID.
  7. I also talked to my brother Luke and saw my brother Matt over the weekend. I haven’t gotten this much attention from my brothers since before COVID. Strange but nice!
  8. I spent the last couple of days up north. It was nice to relax, read a book, go for a walk, kayak, and swim. Last night I spent the evening up north by myself. It was a little creepy since a storm blew through at night. I can’t remember the last time I was truly alone. I didn’t really like it. But I did like to eat what I wanted to, listen to the music I liked, and just do whatever.
  9. I totally whipped my mom playing cribbage. I know, I know. But I enjoy being competitive.
  10. Summer!!!! I totally broke down and put on the A/C. In my defense, we had the earliest heat wave ever recorded. We had a good week of hot and humid days in the 90’s. Some summers we don’t even see temps in the 90’s, very rarely in June. It hardly gets over 80 in June. But apparently not this summer when I wanted to make it without air conditioning to save money. But I love it hot and want to spend as much time as possible pool side, at the beach, or on a boat.

She graduated!

I’m really grateful my daughter earned her high school diploma. There was a time when I might have taken it for granted that she was graduating. I had her ideal future all planned out after all. Her high school graduation was going to be her first but not last. You see, she is a very smart girl. She was an honor student. Surprisingly she still graduated with honors.

Things went downhill with the pandemic. Maybe we would’ve been able to manage her mental health issues better if COVID never happened. I guess we will never know.

Online schooling is not for the smart but unorganized extrovert. It was hard for her to stay focused. Even when school went back to in person she had problems. She missed so much school because of her hospitalizations that she had to go back to online school again. It was December right before Christmas break when she finally got set up to do schooling online. She didn’t want to start school when every one else was on break so she didn’t. Right after the new year started, she went to outpatient full-time. They didn’t give the kids the opportunity to do schoolwork at the time because it was a privacy violation.

That left Arabella with weekends and evening to finish school and that wasn’t going to happen. The outpatient program cut Arabella back to part-time so she could work on school. She was months away from graduation and hadn’t even started yet. I was afraid she wouldn’t graduate. Hopefully she could get done before she made the waiting list for residential.

Then one day she decided to finish her online schooling. She literally worked on it all day and stayed up all night to complete classes. I did want her to finish but didn’t think her obsession was healthy. I even told her several times that it was okay to take breaks. At that pace, she finished it in no time. It was one less worry I had about her future.

Later we found out in residential that she has ADHD. She was finally able to focus once it was treated. She also got into some new hobbies such as painting. For a long time she felt like she wasn’t good at anything because of her inability to concentrate. Plus both of her siblings have a raw talent for music that she doesn’t have. She didn’t feel like she had a place or purpose compared to them.

I felt terribly sad that a lot of the issues she was having with school and concentrating were fixable but we just didn’t know. Honestly, I also thought before that ADHD was kind of a cop out diagnosis. Sometimes I thought it was just a matter of being more disciplined. But now after I’ve seen how focused she is, I think I was wrong.

Now I also see that I missed the same symptoms in my son. For boys the doctor said it presented differently. The boys would rather be defiant saying they hate school instead of feeling like they are stupid. I wish I would’ve known some things sooner. Maybe I still could’ve changed things.

I have the same thoughts about Arabella going to residential and learning DBT. I wish I had known what I know now sooner. But you can only do the best you can with what you have. I have to let that go.

I am excited that Arabella graduated. She had a lot of obstacles with her mental health over the last year and a half. Paul and I are planning a trip to Maine with her this fall to celebrate. Hopefully it will make up for some of the things she lost along the way. She was supposed to be a foreign exchange student this year. That didn’t happen.

She is a high school graduate now. It is the first step into her future, a future she decides. It may not be what I choose, but it is a step in the right direction. I am happy for that.

Gratitude week 75

  1. I found my favorite pair of sunglasses that I thought I lost.
  2. Summer!!! So last weekend we had a couple of days with highs around 50. This weekend the temps are in the 90’s. I am totally embracing summer so much so that I typically drive with the windows down. Also we are so cheap that we are planning on going the whole summer without A/C. The past couple days have been a test of that. I am totally happy that my husband is on the same page as I am as far as embracing the heat goes although it is a little on the side of crazy.
  3. I was able to spend a couple days up north as we opened up the cabin for the season.
  4. I am learning to live with the uncomfortableness of letting go. There is a certain freedom to be found in it after having to be responsible for others for so long.
  5. I just finished another self help book. After spending the last couple months reading that genre, I’m going to read a novel that I found in one of those little free book boxes up north.
  6. We are taking Paul out to eat tonight to celebrate him being on TV.
  7. We also started thinking of new business strategies and ideas to help us move forward with our business.
  8. Paul and I went to a session together with my therapist this past week that was really helpful and eye opening.
  9. Kayaking around the lake on a hot day and jumping into the cool refreshing water at the sand bar.
  10. We had a nice Memorial Day with Paul’s step-dad Darryl and his new fiancĂ©. My mom and all the kids were around too. It was nice to have a cook out and play some games. It seems like that doesn’t happen often enough. It didn’t happen at all last summer. It’s nice to see life getting back to somewhat normal.

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.

A gasp of fresh air

The day Arabella left us to move in with Jordan’s family is the day I started planning a vacation. Not only did all my vacation plans for 2020 fall through but I lost my daughter as well. She started calling another woman her mom. It didn’t matter what I said or did, I felt like my daughter hated me. On rare occasion, I was the best mom in the world but it had nothing to do with any effort on my part. Again, what I did or didn’t do didn’t seem to make a difference in how she felt about me.

It was hard to handle and I felt very depressed. So I started planning a trip. At that point, I didn’t even care if I had to cancel it. It was the planning and thinking about it that was the most therapeutic at the time because it allowed me to focus on something other than my problems. I had something on the calendar to look forward to. Besides my daughter was gone and I wasn’t sure if she was going to be coming back.

But she did come back home and burnt the bridge with Jordan’s family. After her most recent diagnosis I battled with myself about whether or not to go. My mom wasn’t going to help by staying at our house because she was terrified of COVID. My oldest daughter didn’t really want the responsibility either although she was already living at home. I felt guilty for wanting to get away.

I also felt like I was suffocating. Taking care of a suicidal teen with serious mental health issues was burning me out. I thought if I didn’t get away I would be sitting in a padded room myself or worse. At times it was so painful and grueling that I really didn’t want to live anymore myself. I wasn’t taking care of myself. The stress was so high that it seemed like all my husband and I did was fight and blame ourselves and each other for the problems we were having with our daughter. I seriously thought if I didn’t get a break and take care of myself and our marriage that I would not be able to handle it anymore.

We offered to pay for our oldest daughter’s therapy if she would keep an eye on things. I wish I was kidding. Plus my best friend was willing to do whatever it took to help if needed. We were not flying out of the country and were accessible by phone 24/7. So we went. Thankfully Arabella managed to get herself up for outpatient, took her pills, and didn’t have any emergencies while we were gone. Oddly enough, it was my other two adult children (Angel and Alex) that fought. Their relationship has been strained ever since. Sometimes you just can’t win.

But it was wonderful to get away. It was a breath of fresh air before the drowning started yet again.

Gratitude week 74

  1. My daughter Arabella graduated!!!!!!!!!!
  2. We were able to go to the graduation in person! I will never complain about how boring a graduation is again either. My son’s high school graduation was very boring. But because of the pandemic my daughter Angel never had an in person college graduation and I really missed the opportunity to celebrate with her. Never again will I complain about a graduation being boring. At this point, there aren’t any more graduations for my kids in the near future. My baby graduated from high school.
  3. Paul was on the local news station talking about our business which was really exciting. We didn’t know when it was going to air so we constantly watched the news the last couple days. I probably watched the news more in the past couple of days than when COVID just came out. LOL
  4. I started doing crunches starting on May 1st. I wanted to see if it made a difference in my waist line. I lost 3 1/2 inches. So I am almost ready for my summer bikini bod. I guess it is worth it.
  5. Summer!!!!!!!
  6. Angel and I started running outside together. It’s great to share a hobby with family.
  7. Angel and I also went thrifting and out to eat for pizza over the weekend. No great finds for me but Angel was able to find some materials for her crafting business.
  8. We are opening up the summer cabin this week and I am looking forward to spending a couple of days just relaxing on the beach. It’s been a cold Memorial weekend this year. We had low temps in the upper 30’s, but by the end of the week we will have highs near 90. You never know what you are going to get around here.
  9. I’m grateful for those who gave their lives for our freedom and also for those who are serving in our military to protect us today.
  10. I’m thankful for the flowers I bought from my Uncle Rick’s greenhouse. Something about flowers and greenery makes me feel almost happy. But I will have to start pulling the weeds today.
  11. I almost forgot. This past week was my 6 year blogging anniversary. I’m pretty happy I kept with it. So I guess you are stuck with me and my stories.

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.