Broken peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fortune cookie wisdom #49

Good beginning is half done.

I suppose the wisdom of this fortune cookie could be taken in several different ways. For me, when I think of this, I think that my life is half over. As a middle aged person, this makes perfect sense. Of course, if my life is half over as of today my life would end at 95. I think I would be lucky to live that long as right now off the top of my head I can’t think of any family member that did.

I know it sounds morbid, but as I age sometimes I wonder how long I will live. I keep telling myself I have plenty of time left so I don’t waste time worrying about it. With a family history of dementia, I also tell myself that I probably won’t even know I’m dying which in a strange way is comforting. On some days I feel tired of living, but on the flip side the thought of dying is utterly horrifying to me. I like to be told what to expect but no one living knows, or even understands the dimension of time on a continuum. When did time start? Not even the smartest person can tell us that for sure.

What happens after we die? Again, I have my own beliefs, but no one living really knows. Wow, I wasn’t planning on getting all philosophical on this fortune cookie. But that’s what I like about the fortune cookie posts, I really never know where it will lead me.

On a side note, I am all out of fortune cookies…so I guess it might be awhile before I do a post on fortune cookies again. To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure where I am going to go from here. Is there anything you would like to hear more about?

The old normal, part 1

I’ve experienced a lot a change in the last 5 years. It started with the death of my mother-in-law from cancer back in February of 2017. We went through a period of grief and loss.

Within the last 5 years we went from having three (up to four with the foreign exchange students) teenagers living in our house to being empty nesters last month.

Paul and I went from running a business to selling our business that I worked at for 10 years and he for 20. For a period of time, we were retired. Then Paul started a seasonal business. He also started a new career different from both businesses. So there were several career and job changes within the last 5 years.

With the selling of our business, we experienced a socioeconomic change. We moved into a different house in a different town. Our youngest daughter changed schools. We are attending the third church within five years. New house, new neighborhood, new school, new church.

I went from being a marathon runner to not running at all. I was diagnosed with colitis and started developing health issues. I started to notice aging more than I’ve ever experienced it before in my adult life going from my early 40’s to my late 40’s. My siblings started to develop health issues.

I found out about the crime my dad committed. It tore up my family. Then COVID came into play and tore up whatever family unity was left. My dad will be 75 in a couple weeks and it kills me that our relationship never amounted to anything. Most of my family went from tolerating him to despising him. My mom is teeter tottering back and forth between leaving my dad and staying. She moved in with us for awhile. She is experiencing a tremendous amount of anxiety.

It’s been two years today since my youngest daughter tried to kill herself for the first time. That has been a huge struggle and change in my life, having a daughter go from quirky to being so mentally ill she might die.

Then there are the other little changes, but changes nonetheless. Losing a family pet. Buying a new car after my old car got totaled. Not to mention a global pandemic that changed everyone’s life.

I am struggling with all the change. The new me doesn’t even recognize the old me anymore. What happens now?

What happens when the pandemic ends? Do we pick up the pieces where we left off and start a new old normal?

Fortune cookie wisdom #46

You will always have good luck in your personal affairs.

When is this supposed to start again??

Sometimes I wonder if this is all there is. Just me waiting for the other shoe to drop stuck in an endless loop of meaningless tasks. Cleaning the house, just to watch it get dirty again. Why don’t things stay clean and orderly? Why is life so messy?

I have been on edge and out of sorts lately. There has been so much change in my life lately. I wish I could tell you that I embrace change, or like it, but I don’t. I haven’t been sleeping all that well and last night had a nightmare I was watching my cat drown.

In the mornings and at night sometimes, my cat stares out the window. I wonder if he is waiting for our dog to come back. We used to sit their together staring out that window at night waiting for the dog to come in for the night. Today I washed the remaining dog nose smudges off that same sliding glass door. He won’t be coming back. I vacuumed the rest of the pet hair from the rug he entered eternal sleep on.

Yesterday my daughter and her fiancĂ© bought a house. This weekend she will be moving out. It is bittersweet. I got used to her living here for the last year and a half. I know it is time for her to move on with her own life and she is happy. But that somehow doesn’t make it easier right now. I’m not sure what will happen next. This will be the first time my husband and I have been alone since we had kids.

I know I should view this as an opportunity for growth. But it really doesn’t feel like that right now.

So here I’ll be waiting for the good luck….

January recap

I had a feeling it was going to be a difficult year when the police showed up at my house in the wee hours of New Year’s Day. Besides going away to Las Vegas for several days, I’d be ready to scrap the whole month (if not the whole year if things don’t get better).

The first week of January I ended up getting COVID. At first I just felt a little bit off. I felt a little more tired than usual, lightheaded, crampy, and sore. For where I was in my cycle, it wasn’t too far out of the norm as I tend to be anemic. I thought maybe I was being a bit of a hypochondriac until I came down with a fever the next day. A couple days later, Angel felt sick.

Then after that, we ended up having to put our dog down. He was 14 years old with really bad arthritis, congestive heart failure, and cancer. He was on 5 different medications and he was gradually going downhill. He couldn’t see, hear, or get around well. He started shivering and biting at his paws, had a few accidents in the house, and lost a lot of weight because he wasn’t eating much. It was time. Part of me felt like we shouldn’t have waited so long and part of me feels guilty for putting him down. Maybe if I wouldn’t have accidently tripped over him a couple months back, he would’ve lived longer. I never thought I would overthink this and grieve so much over our dog, but I did. Thankfully the vet was very kind and compassionate through the whole process.

After that we went to Las Vegas. A couple days into the trip my husband started feeling a little off. Neither one of us thought all that much about it because it was almost two weeks after I had gotten sick. He spent one of the nights hanging out in the bathroom and after that had a stuffy nose, a tickle in his throat, and a dry cough. But we were in a dry climate hanging out in stale smoky casinos with our friend who was a smoker.

After we got home, Paul lost his job. His boss wants someone who can work year round since Paul took off last summer to run our seasonal business. This summer he was going to try to do both but probably wouldn’t have gave either business the attention it deserves. The news was rather unexpected and shocking. It creates a lot of uncertainty about the future. I think we will be okay financially, but the safety net has been taken away. As of right now, we are starting to gear up for our seasonal business this week. We have a booth at a trade show. I will start to work on the administrative end while Paul gets into sales. But after this summer, I’m not sure what is going to happen and I don’t necessarily like that.

The evening after Paul lost his job, he spent half the night coughing instead of sleeping. He heard his lungs crackle and pop. I could hear it too. The next afternoon he took a nap and slept most of the afternoon. When he awoke, he was burning up with a temperature of 103. He was still doing a lot of coughing and looked absolutely miserable. I decided to take him to Urgent Care.

The doctor thought he had pneumonia. Paul had a chest x-ray and two COVID tests, one instant and one not. The rapid test came back negative for COVID. They said they would send the results for the non-instant test through his patient portal. The x-ray came back better than expected. The doctor said he had a bad case of bronchitis, gave him a prescription for antibiotics, and he was on his way.

The following morning his patient portal said his COVID test was negative and he was starting to feel better with the antibiotics. He was feeling a little more hopeful he would be able to go on the annual ice fishing trip with the guys this weekend. Before that, he said he was like a country song. He lost his dog. He lost his job. He lost his health.

A couple days later, the day he was supposed to leave for the fishing trip, he got a call from the nurse saying his non-instant test came back positive. He was really puzzled because he thought he already got all the results back. The nurse said he had already passed the quarantine time and is no longer contagious. Since the antibiotics were working, he also had a bacterial bronchitis as well.

So, yeah, it’s been a looooooonnnngg month. I really hope we are done with problems for a while now.

Gratitude week 107

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a shitty week. I started the week out with COVID and ended the week by putting my dog to sleep. So…I think I’m good on my share of problems for awhile. Oh, if I could bet against my luck I would be most fortunate indeed. Anyway…

  1. About the only good thing about having COVID is now I don’t have to worry about getting COVID.
  2. I’m glad my kids were all able to say their final good-byes to our dog. They all gathered around our dog when the vet came out to put him down.
  3. I’m grateful all my children are in good relationships and their significant others really helped them through the process.
  4. The vet who came out to our house was kind and compassionate. She did everything she could to be gentle to ease our dog’s suffering and our own.
  5. I’m grateful for the 14 years we got to spend loving our dog. I feel at such a loss, my kids lost their childhood pet and their childhood is over. It’s a strange feeling, the regret of not being able to go back. It’s over. It’s final. But it was good.
  6. I’m grateful that Arabella’s boyfriend is going to be taking her pet frogs home to his house today. I have been taking care of them since she moved out and it will be nice to give them back to her.
  7. I have an appointment to get my haircut today and just got my nails done for the trip.
  8. I am getting excited to get away for a couple of days. I seriously think betting against myself would be a wise plan in Vegas. But I’m not much of a gambler.
  9. I was FINALLY able to get a good night’s sleep last night.
  10. It will be nice having high temps in the mid-60’s for a few days. Right now the wind chills are below zero.
You will be missed, my puppy!

Update 1/11/22

Sorry if it seems I dropped off the side of the planet the last couple of days. I think COVID finally caught me. Or maybe I caught it? Besides having a fever for a day and severe body aches, my symptoms have been relatively minor. No sore throat, a slight cough, mild congestion, no problems breathing. It started out like the flu and is ending like a mild cold.

Practically everyone I know is sick or has been sick in the last couple of weeks with the exception of my husband. It’s crazy, but my husband in the last 26 years I’ve known him has only been sick once that I can remember with strep. I hope he stays healthy.

We decided to cancel our trip to Puerto Rico next week. They are at a COVID level 3 right now. Basically non-essential travel is not recommended. The government would track us while we were there. We had some friends who got stuck there an extra week because their flight got cancelled. For the money we were spending it sounded a lot more stressful than fun. I booked the trip on Expedia. The hotel is giving us a total refund, the airlines are giving us a credit for around half the cost of the flight. The real kicker is that I bought travel insurance and they said a COVID outbreak is not a valid reason to cancel the trip so we will not be getting a full refund. I am so pissed. What a waste of money that was.

Instead, we decided we are going to go to Las Vegas next week for half the cost of a trip to Puerto Rico. I am hopeful we will be able to go.

I am hoping to do my gratitude list within the next couple of days for the week. I just haven’t been up to much. Not only that, but we are in the process of having to make a difficult decision about our dog. He is 14 years old and is on 5 different medications just to keep him alive. His quality of life has been poor over the last several months and is declining. The last couple of days he has been having accidents in the house.

Today we called a couple of vets that do at home euthanasia. My husband had one call on speaker and I pretty much sobbed the whole time. Why do I feel a tremendous amount of guilt at the thought of putting him down when his quality of life is so poor?? Saying good-bye is always the hardest part of having a pet. I think it’s time, but it’s so hard to let go.

That being said, I’m not sure how much I will be blogging in the next couple of weeks. I will try to do the gratitude for this week and last. Other than that, we’ll see how things go. I just wanted to let everyone know I might be posting erratically.

Monday mourning

I’m not in the best of moods today. I woke up at 4:30 AM choking on my own spit. Then I had to go to the bathroom. I tried to go back to sleep, but sleep didn’t come.

I was having a dream about Tom and Lisa. I had a dream their daughter ran away and that was why my daughter Arabella ran away. I thought about our friends who moved away years before. At one time I considered Lisa a best friend. We were running partners and trauma buddies. Both Lisa and her husband experienced a lot of serious trauma in their childhoods.

A couple years back Tom and Lisa’s oldest daughter died at age 16 in a fiery car accident. Their daughter was driving when she fell asleep killing herself and her friend. A year after that, Lisa’s teenage niece died. She got really drunk and fell into the river and drowned. A couple months after that her mother died. Plus the childhood trauma, I don’t know how she is doing it. Sadly, we fell out of touch when they moved several hours away. We used to talk several times a week, now we send a text every once in awhile.

The last time I spoke to Lisa she wasn’t seeing a therapist. I woke up with Lisa on my mind out of the blue. I’m wondering if she is okay.

At 6:15 AM my mom called. It is NEVER a good sign to get a call from my mom that early in the morning. My mom told me Arabella went into the ditch last night from the snowy roads. The day after Thanksgiving, my daughter moved out of the homeless shelter and back in with my mom. She got another waitressing job and things were looking better. But she already got fired from her job which is not good. She quit taking her meds.

After Arabella went into the ditch, she had her car towed to my parent’s house. Right after it was towed back, she left around 10 PM. She wasn’t back by 6 AM. My mom told me her location and I was able to figure out she was at a park and ride. My mom said she was there at least 4 hours. My mom also got a strange message from Arabella’s friend Will’s grandma saying something about Will triggering PTSD and having to lock up the knives in her house.

What the hell is going on?? Is Will suicidal? Is Arabella?? I couldn’t help but worry maybe someone would come knocking at my door to tell me my daughter is dead. It is a constant fear. My mom said Will and Arabella were planning on coming to our family Christmas party this weekend. I can honestly say I feel worried because they are both mentally unstable. I don’t think Arabella would physically hurt anyone besides herself, but I don’t even know this Will guy. Who knows what she has been telling him about us.

I worry more about violence now. I worried yesterday at the community theater show. Dan and Angel went to the show with us. The people sitting next to them were drunk and disruptive. They were talking loudly during the show, getting up, knocking over glass bottles. Dan and Angel actually told them to be quiet. How rude! But how do you know if those people could be dangerous?

Hearing the news about Arabella this morning was very triggering. At times Angel and I were close to tears. Why is my daughter mentally ill? We blamed ourselves, we blamed each other. But what good does that do?? It’s incredibly stressful wondering if today will be the day I get the phone call or knock on my door. It just tears me down to the point where I don’t even want to live anymore. Not that I’m going to kill myself, but it’s hard to feel any kind of joy. It’s just so painful.

Paul, Angel, and I started to do so much better after Arabella moved out. Our mental health improved significantly. We were under an incredible amount of stress when both my mom and Arabella were living here. The strange thing is that at the time we were blind to the effects it was having on all of us. Thankfully Paul, Angel, and I are seeing counselors to help us process everything.

I was very hesitant about seeing a counselor at first. But now I can’t imagine not seeing her. She has really helped me get through a lot of hard circumstances. That is why I worry about my dear friend Lisa. I’ll have to give her a call soon.

Fortune cookie wisdom #36

Remind yourself that ‘the lion while hunting doesn’t roar’.

Who can YOU trust? I always thought I could trust myself but I’m not too sure about that anymore. I am not an expert at life.

As I mentioned before, I live in a mixed vaccination household. What I think we can all agree on at our house is that vaccination should be a choice. I believe there are risks involved with both choices which creates a lot of uncertainty and fear.

I can’t imagine how terrible it must be for parents of opposing views to have to make these decisions for their children right now. It’s not as if that was a question we thought to ask a future spouse before 2020. If in the future there was a pandemic would you chose to vaccinate our future child. Why or why not? Can you imagine divorced parents dealing with this if they don’t agree???? Thank God my kids are all adults and can make their own decisions.

Honestly, I think the biggest threat right now is the division and polarity. It’s literally insane. My family cannot attend the extended family Christmas party because of our status. Certain family members think their shot will protect them from COVID but not against the unvaccinated. How does that even make sense?

Now I am not going to make this a one sided post. I’ve heard of the unvaccinated afraid to be around the recently vaccinated because of shedding. Now everyone is getting the booster shot in time for the holidays. We all better lock ourselves in our houses this holiday season because people might die.

Woah, I must’ve missed the memo where we can actually live without dying. Live people live before it is too late! Don’t make your family dead to you before they are. Pushing family away is the worst thing we can do at this time. Agree to disagree if you have to. Get tested. Wear masks. Do whatever you think works without compromising your beliefs. I absolutely HATE that families are being torn over this. I hate to break it to you but we are all going to die.

I have been feeling a certain sway of the unvaccinated to mistrust their doctors and all vaccinations now. Some people are paranoid they will be given the wrong shot. What is happening? I started to feel this way myself. I am not anti-vax. I am due for my tetanus shot in a couple of months. I was considering not getting it but decided I will.

Why would something I’ve never questioned before become something I question now? The thought scares the living crap out of me. Can I trust the decisions I’ve made in the past or am I too being swayed?

That’s not all that has changed. I’ve now become more pro-choice than I have ever been in my whole entire life. People should be allowed to choose what to do with their body. Period. I don’t have to agree with that choice. There are consequences for every choice, you have yours and I have mine.

I was experiencing cognitive dissonance. Why are some choices okay for others to make and some not?? Can we pick and choose and feel at peace with ourselves? If you are pro-choice but for mandatory vaccinations it might be time to examine yourself. What gives me the right to tell another person what they should do?

While I’m on it, there is something else that bothers me. People who protest outside of abortion clinics shouting words of hate and carrying signs with mangled bloody fetuses rub me the wrong way. Do you really think hating and shaming women is effective? Maybe it makes you feel good for your self-righteousness. Then when you go to church and see a single teen mom you judge, look down upon, and shame her for the choice you wanted her to make. Nothing but hypocrites.

If you are truly pro-life help families in need. You are not going to change lives spewing hatred in the name of love. If you want to be effective take the teen mom out to lunch, buy her some diapers and baby clothes, and be there for her because parenting is hard. Offer workable alternatives and solutions such as adoption as an option.

Being shamed at the abortion clinic is nothing compared to the shame of raising a baby as a single teen mom both for the mother and the child. I can say this because my husband was born to a single teen mom. His sperm donor took off, wasn’t even there for the birth. My husband was shamed for not having a dad as if it was his choice.

In grade school he got spanked by a teacher in front of the class who told him he needed a dad. No kidding?? Not only did he not have a dad, but he didn’t even have a grandpa to be his role model. Paul sucked at sports because he had no one to play catch with him. No one taught him how to be a husband or dad which can even be daunting for those who come from healthy homes. Something needs to be done to build stronger families.

That all being said, I am really concerned because I feel like COVID has really shook some of my core beliefs. Is it growth?? Can I trust what I thought before or now if my beliefs change? I’ve really had to examine my own thoughts lately about how much control we should allow others to have over our lives.

Always question. Listen. Love one another. Do we need to have all the answers to do that??

Fortune cookie wisdom #25

“You should let go of negative things today.”

Whoops! Too late! Maybe tomorrow.

This morning started with my husband and I having a ‘friendly’ debate. I wish it ended that way. It wasn’t anything horrible but in my mind it boiled down to one thing, trust. I told my husband that in life there is only one person I can trust and that one person is me. I suppose you could say it’s a trauma response and it probably is.

Then he asked me an important question. So you trust yourself over the experts? Great thought provoking question. Husband scores the first points. He said, “I missed the day you received your medical degree.” It’s true, I didn’t. But I don’t trust doctors because….a million reasons….I don’t trust easily.

Who can you trust in a world where you can’t trust anyone, could never trust anyone even the people who were supposed to look out for you??

We started talking about where we get our news stories, how everything is so biased it’s hard to know if something is real or trustworthy. I get ads on social media for things that support my views already not things to challenge me to think differently. I am more likely to open my pocketbook to causes near and dear to me.

Let’s talk about the vaccine. Yup, I just went there…We both wish there was reliable and accurate data out there. Back in the day we could go to the library and find a journal article backed up by reliable sources. We could do our own research. Now we can just go online and read something by someone like me who doesn’t really know a damn thing about anything and call it research. Or maybe we could watch a video on Tik Tok. That’s accurate, right?

And who are the fact checkers anyway? Why do people get banned for expressing their viewpoints that don’t conform to popular opinion? I don’t know about you, but it sure makes me more interested in hearing what they have to say.

I’m sick of people taking sides and blaming each other. What good does that do? For months and months I heard about nothing but the Delta variant and how unvaccinated people were to blame for its spread. Family and friends were turning on family and friends. Now I don’t hear anything about Delta unless it has an 8 or 9 after it.

Does the vaccine work or not? I really want to know. I don’t want to hear research brought to us by the big drug companies. I don’t want to hear conspiracy theories. I’m sick about hearing stories of the Polio shot success. I don’t give a crap about a girl who flipped off anti-maskers. I wish the only thing I ever heard about a mandate was about a group of guys that go out for beers on a Saturday night.

All I care about right now is how effective is the vaccine. All I hear when I turn on the TV is how COVID cases and deaths are still on the rise and how safe the vaccine is. Booster shots and masks. Is it just me or is almost everyone still living in fear? Not travelling. Not seeing certain relatives. Still fighting with the opposing view. Vaccine safety is very important, but to me the most important question is how effective is the shot. What’s the next step?

Where can I get some real unbiased news?? We are supposed to make life changing decisions based on trust in politicians, drug companies, and crazy cousin Bob’s conspiracy theories on Facebook?? Is this all there is? There should be some accurate unbiased data by now. Where is it and how can we find it? I really hope someone erases this from our history books someday. I can’t imagine what future generations will think of us.

So much for letting go of negative things…maybe tomorrow.