Broken peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life lately

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreary days

Today is the fourth dreary and rainy (or some form of precipitation) day in a row. I’m feeling it to the deepest part of my core; the cold, the dark, being locked inside not able to get out and find the light. There is so much trouble in the world, so much trouble in the people that surround me. It never seems to end. It is heavy, denser than the fog.

Yesterday Paul and I stopped at my parent’s house before going out to eat with Matt for his birthday. It is something I have to prepare myself for like wearing a winter coat on a cold day even if it looks like it could be sunny and warm. I will be triggered. It will be hard. Sometimes I ask Arabella what it is like living with my parents. From the sounds of it, not much has changed. My dad roams the house in his underwear. My mom cleans up his messes.

Then there is Matt. Matt can not do complex tasks like washing the dishes, but he can do simple tasks. When Matt is home, my dad has Matt wait on him hand and foot. Matt go get me a cookie. Matt get me some water. Matt hand me my remote. My mom tells my dad that Matt is not his servant. Then mom gives Matt permission to wait on my dad to feel like she is in control. I don’t miss the games, the power struggle between my parents.

The visit home was uncomfortable. Paul said he really doesn’t want to go back again. I don’t either. My parents complain Arabella is messy. She is, yet they fail to notice the own mess they live in. My mom wants Arabella to leave, even if it means moving to an apartment with a boyfriend she has been dating a few months. Before my dad’s crime, my mom would’ve been aghast to the idea. But now there aren’t any morals anymore.

They are all hard to live with. But what’s even harder is to see some of their very own struggles manifested within my children.

That’s one thing we never thought of before having kids. I just looked at the autism in my brother; the violence, the voices in his head telling him to hurt someone. Maybe we didn’t examine our parents enough; their relationships, their modeling, their own mental health. Then add a random bio dad to the smorgasbord of genetic maelstrom. All I can say, as if it’s any consolation, at least what we are seeing passed down is not entirely foreign to us.

It is sad. Sometimes I feel like crying with the rain as it pours down.

One of the most important things I’ve learned over the last couple of years is acceptance. That doesn’t mean I will accept poor behavior. It means it is what it is. I am not going to be able to change things. An apple is an apple even if I want it to be an orange. It also means being mindful of triggers. A visit to my parents house may cause me to feel depressed, anxious, or even angry. If I can prepare myself in advance for the possibility of those feelings, it doesn’t hit me so hard.

Today, though, I just feel tired and blah. Under the weather I guess. It seems hard to focus and form thoughts into words that make any sense right now. This post did not go where I was expecting it to go, but that is okay. I can accept that as well, I guess.

There is no warm up in sight. The weather forecasters are saying it should be warm and sunny, spring like on April 1st. What a joke!

It didn’t last long

I intended to write more than I did this week. Yesterday I actually opened my computer up to write when I got a call from my daughter Arabella. She wanted me to pick her up. She was going to be admitted but the hospital was full so she was scheduled to be admitted to another mental hospital a couple hours later.

Her boyfriend Will was with her but he had to leave for work. She called me to pick her up and wanted me to take her to her car at my parents house so she could drive herself to be admitted. All in all, it was an hour and a half of driving for me. Before she could leave with me, I had to talk to someone about a safety plan. They told me all the ways she was planning on killing herself and wanted me to keep an eye on her until she was admitted.

I drove her to my parents house. She talked about how Will and her were fighting which triggered a depressive episode for both of them. Neither one was doing well mental health wise. Arabella went to pack a few things. My mom came up to me and told me she only slept four hours, that she wasn’t okay herself. It took longer than I thought for Arabella to pack her things. My stomach dropped. Was she okay? I didn’t want to go to her room because I was sure it would be upsetting to me which it was. There was clothes everywhere, empty containers of food, and a bottle of anti-depressants strewn across the floor.

I left as soon as I could with Arabella following behind me. I was worried when she spent too long in the bathroom. I was worried maybe she would find a way to skip her appointment. I tried my best but I wasn’t sure she was going to be alright. It didn’t take long for things to go to shit after our fun weekend away. But this is her fifth inpatient stay within the last two years, so it’s nothing new.

Just the day before my mom came to visit. She brought my brother Matt with. With all the rain we got last weekend, his bedroom in the group home got flooded so he is staying with my parents for awhile. While they were at my house, my Aunt Jan Facetimed my mom so my brother Matt could see her grandchildren she babysits for. She had no idea my mom was at my house right away and started talking about me behind my back in front of me.

My mom has this really bad habit of ALWAYS being on speakerphone and not telling people she is. I almost had to laugh when my aunt figured out my mom was at my house and she was talking about me while I was sitting there. She didn’t say anything bad, but it was funny afterwards because she texted my mom asking if I heard everything and asked my mom if she said anything she shouldn’t have.

Just the week before my mom was on speakerphone with my Aunt Jan while at my house. After awhile she did tell my aunt she was at my house. My aunt said she wanted to talk to me. She asked me when Angel’s bridal shower was because she already bought a gift for her. I felt manipulated by her. She didn’t want me to be a part of family functions but now she wants to go to my daughter’s shower. After everything, I wasn’t even planning on inviting her or any of my aunts really unless that is what my daughter wants. If she does, I’m planning on calling my aunt and airing my grievances but I don’t even want to think about that right now.

Right now I just feel sad. I feel sad because my daughter is back in the hospital. I feel annoyed my mom was more concerned about not sleeping. I think my aunt is trying to control me with gifts instead of apologizing and I don’t like it. It’s okay for us to be rejected by her, but she doesn’t want to feel left out?? I feel angry that my parents or in-laws never helped me with my kids while I was at work. It was just a big free for all while I was gone trying to help my husband run our business. It’s hard not to be bitter about these things. I feel guilty because I do have a lot of good things in my life. I feel guilty for not feeling happy and for focusing on the things I don’t have instead of what I do.

At least I am mindful about how I feel. Maybe I just need a break from other people’s problems for awhile. But sometimes that is hard to do when I feel like I have to fix everything that’s broken.

The old normal, part 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Navigating life

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares.

Why should I expect that to change? The likelihood of no longer struggling with these things is about as likely as me waking up one morning with schizophrenia. It’s probably not going to happen. I was thinking about these things while I laid awake the other night.

Some things have changed. I started taking medicine prescribed by my doctor to help me sleep at night. It works better than nothing. I still struggle with insomnia and nightmares. The insomnia part has improved, but the nightmares have not.

Do you ever have dreams where you are falling and you wake up before you hit the bottom? I don’t wake up anymore until I’m dead. Sounds strange, right? In the last week, I’ve had two dreams where I was shot point blank, heard the sound of gunfire, and woke up after I died in my dreams. The nightmares just seem to go on forever. In one of the nightmares I was shot while I was cleaning my house. I mean, seriously??

Then I got to thinking, people really don’t change either. Most of my childhood I believed my autistic/schizophrenic brother would become normal again. If only we could find the right doctor, the right diet, the right medication. I was waiting and hoping for this. God was going to heal my brother. I didn’t know what this was going to look like. Would he be able to suddenly read and write like me or was he going to start life over in his toddler years. I thought it was going to happen, but it never did.

When my own daughter started having mental health struggles a couple years back, I thought the same thing. If only I found the right doctor, the right medication, the right inpatient program, outpatient program, etc.. Surely an expensive residential treatment facility would do the trick. But it didn’t cure her. It didn’t take her mental illness away. She is not the same person she was before. She will never be that way again. She may decide to end her life someday and I have to accept that and love her where she is at. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

After my dad committed his crime, there was a period of time where I was under the impression that he accepted the Lord and was a changed person. I wanted so badly to believe that was true. I thought maybe he would finally be the kind of dad I always wanted. But guess what? Nothing changed.

If I pray more and have enough faith, then my anxiety will go away. I used to believe that too. Maybe something was wrong with me because when I prayed for my struggles to go away, they didn’t. I don’t believe people anymore when they tell me those kind of things. It sounds like a gimmick to me. God is bigger than that. I don’t see God in that way anymore. I think faith is a wonderful coping mechanism. But I think people do more harm than good by telling others if they do certain things then their sibling, their child, their parent, or they will not struggle anymore.

Miracles do happen, but they are truly one in a million. I’m better off accepting that the way things are will probably be the way things will always be. If I look at it that way, my life makes a lot more sense. Look at the patterns of behavior. It’s very simplistic, but for me it was a real aha moment in the middle of the night. People don’t change. They may grow and mature over time like a baby turns into an old lady. But it’s still the same person with the same strengths and weaknesses with a little more wisdom and mindfulness on how to navigate life.

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….

Fortune cookie wisdom #42

Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you.

Ah, the elusive happiness. To tell you the truth, I think happiness is overrated. I just want you to be happy. I don’t care what my kids do as long as they are happy. If you’re not happy with _______, find another ______. We hear it all the time, don’t we? The pressure to be happy all the time is making us all quite miserable.

Recently I was thinking about the happiest days of my life. Big spoiler, my happiest days were not in high school. I find it seriously pathetic when people who are close to 50 years old say the best years of their lives were in high school. Haven’t you done anything with your life since then?? Maybe I’m just jealous because my high school years sucked.

Back in the day I was voted most likely to be a supermodel on the cover of Vogue by my high school senior class. Better than most likely to be barefoot and pregnant (won by a girl with 12 siblings who only had 1 kid) or most likely to never leave this small (sucky) town (won by my best friend who still lives there as far as I know). True story.

At 17, when I was in my prime for looks, my classmates thought I was the most beautiful girl in the class. That should’ve made me happy, right? At 17, I was going through a really hard time at home. I was really struggling with depression and coming to terms with the trauma I was experiencing. Some people seemed annoyed with me for not being happy. I was shamed for it. There were girls who got mad at me if their boyfriends checked me out. I was blamed for it. Don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways it was wonderful but it didn’t make me happy. If you really saw what I was going through on the inside, you wouldn’t want to be me on the outside.

This past summer an acquaintance told me she thinks I have the perfect life, the perfect family. (She obviously doesn’t read this blog). I do portray myself as having the dream life because like most of us I am really good at hiding. My husband started a company he built from nothing. After 20 years (10 years of me working with him) we sold the company to private equity. Now I live in my dream house complete with 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, an indoor pool and hot tub, 3 fireplaces, and an indoor grill. My detached garage is twice the size of my old house complete with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchenette. I probably never have to work again if I don’t want to.

I should be happy. I should have everything I’ve ever wanted in my life. But with everything that happened with my dad and my daughter’s serious mental health issues, I again fell into a deep depression that has been hanging on for the past two years. Not to mention COVID. There were many a days I sat in my mansion dreaming of ending it all. How messed up is that?? None of the things that were supposed to bring happiness to my life did.

The happiest years of my life were when my kids were young. I was happiest when they were sitting on my lap and I was reading them a good book, Toad and Frog. Story times at the library. I was happy when we danced around in the living room to silly songs. The early childhood years when I stayed at home with the kids. When I drove a 10 year old minivan and lived in a small house. Back when we didn’t have any money, the poorest I’ve ever been in my life living on one income with 3 kids right after my husband started a business. Back when I had the extra baby weight to lose. After the sleepless nights of having little babies and before the sleepless nights of having teenagers. Those were the best years of my life so far and I didn’t even know it.

I feel like I am finally starting to pull myself out of this depression. Maybe the best years are ahead, maybe not. Regardless, looking back to the time of my life when I was the happiest made me recognize something very important. I wasn’t the happiest when I had the most money, was young, looked my best, achieved the most, or really had anything the world deemed as highly valuable. Quite the opposite in fact.

It’s a trap if you are searching for happiness in the wrong things. I will be happy when I lose some weight or have more money. I will be happier when I have what my neighbor has. I will be happy when I have a thousand more followers. I will be happy when I get that promotion or go on that vacation. I will be happy when I earn the diploma or get that medal.

I don’t have all the answers, but I know what happiness is not.

Fortune cookie wisdom #39

Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.

I think the key word here is dwelling. I recently heard on the radio that negative experiences are more memorable than positive ones. I think that is true.

Yesterday I spent 3 1/2 hours writing. A small portion was writing on my blog and the rest I spent writing my book. I added a journal entry written by my mom to the book describing Matt hitting my brother Mark and also hitting and kicking me. I wrote about my brother attacking me from my mom’s point of view. I can’t even describe what that feels like. In some ways I felt totally detached since the journal entry was almost 30 years old. Mainly I felt sad for the little girl that was me.

Then I wrote another entry remembering a time my mom asked my dad to help her by watching my brothers and I swim in the lake up north while she made supper. Any time my mom asked my dad for help he did things aggressively or half assed. Let’s just say I didn’t have the dad who would sweep me onto his lap and read books to me on the couch.

This is what happened that day when my mom asked for help. My dad came in the water with us. When Mark and Luke were swimming my dad would grab them by their feet and yank them backwards. My brothers would choke and sputter swallowing water and getting it up their noses. Then they would cry and dad would laugh saying they were just playing a game.

I was terrified of the weeds so my dad grabbed me and forced me to stand in the weeds and muck. He laughed at me while I cried and called me names. When he let me go, he threw weeds and a dead fish at me. It didn’t take long for my brothers and I to be done swimming. My dad got out of doing something he didn’t want to do. He got his jollies by making us cry, calling us names, mocking and humiliating us.

That pretty much sums up my childhood. My brother Matt frequently attacked us with no consequence because there was something wrong with him. I wouldn’t consider my dad to be physically abusive per se. There were times he hit and manhandled us, but he seemed to enjoy terrorizing us more. He liked taking what we were afraid of the most and taunting us with it like my fear of weeds. When we would cry he would laugh in our face and call us babies. He often called us stupid.

If my dad was taunting a sibling it was best to ignore him or better yet to join him because that would ensure your safety. Comforting a sibling often meant your next. Pretend not to care. Pretend nothing scares you. Show no vulnerability or weakness where he could worm in.

I spent several hours writing about the physical abuse from my brother and the psychological abuse from my dad. By the end of the afternoon I was spent. I was feeling depressed and wanted to just emotional detach from everyone. Thinking about the negative things that happened to me really wasn’t doing me any good.

My husband said maybe I shouldn’t continue writing the book or just do it in small segments of time. I told him writing this book gives my life purpose and meaning. The question is how can I write about painful experiences without dwelling on the negative? I end up spending a lot of time in a place I no longer want to be.

I do think writing my story is very therapeutic and healing, but I can’t deny there is a dark side to it as well.

Sad, angry, and less than perfect

I’m not going to lie, the last couple of days have been rough. It’s been hard to muster up the Christmas spirit.

Yesterday I was feeling triggered by so many different things it was hard to figure out what was bothering me. I think what has been the most upsetting is that our dog is dying. He has been getting worse since our vet visit last week. Besides arthritis and now congestive heart failure, the vet thinks the mass near his stomach could be cancerous as his appetite has not been the best. It’s hard to watch him decline and I’m afraid we might be faced with some tough decisions soon.

I remember when my husband brought our dog home to surprise our children with an early Christmas gift the December of 2007. He quickly became a member of our family. Every morning he would walk the children out to the school bus and wait for their return. He would run with Paul and I. Everyone he met just loved him. This will be his last Christmas if he holds on that long. Thinking about this makes me cry.

I feel a great amount of loss. My children are not children anymore. Angel will be moving into her own house next month. Arabella already left and she doesn’t want a close relationship with me. I feel abandoned by my extended family. At this point, I don’t even want to invite them to my daughter’s wedding.

I am pretty certain we are going to be leaving our church. I will miss some of the people we got to know. What also hurts is we spent a lot of time getting to know the pastor’s parents and they moved away without telling us they were leaving. We didn’t get a chance to say good-bye.

I miss my life pre-COVID before everything happened with my dad and before my daughter started showing signs of being seriously mentally ill. I miss when my grandma was alive and threw us the best Christmases to help us forget for one day of the year that our childhood sucked. My grandparents, Aunt Grace, and Uncle Harold all have been gone over a decade now. I miss them and the sense of family I had with them. Nothing would stop me from spending time with them if they were still alive. My family is gone but they gave me a great example of how to be that family for my own children and grandchildren someday.

Recently I posted something on Facebook saying we shouldn’t let fear stop us from getting together with family for the holidays because who knows how long any of us has left. Just something simple like that sparked a debate which caused me to be unfriended by a pastor we had a few years back. As if I am some sort of satanist or something for wanting family to be together. My bad!

He is the same pastor we invited over for Thanksgiving when he didn’t have any family in the area. His family of 5 stood us up. I cooked all this extra food and they didn’t show. Apparently someone gave him tickets to the Packer game. I never cared for the pastor after that. Good riddance!

I admit I was feeling angry and vindictive. I rarely want to cut a bitch, but man when I do. So last night I spent the evening having a couple of drinks, listening to my angry music, and doing some jagged crying. I did some slobbery sobbing that no one cares about me to the few people who actually do. They were worried about my sanity. (Long gone, people, long gone)… My best friend gave a check in call on the way home from work. I do know I have some really awesome people who care about me, even if some people who I thought cared don’t.

One of the best things COVID did do is weed the people out of my life who don’t care. I don’t have to waste my time on them. On Christmas Eve, Paul and I are spending the evening with my best friend and her family. I can do what I want without caring what others think of me. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. That is so freeing. I don’t have to try hard to please people who don’t give a shit about me. I can be myself around my friends.

One thing I can tell you is that I had a hell of a lot more fun with Tom and Lisa than I probably would’ve at the extended family Christmas party. Remember if your family sucks, friends are the family you choose. My best friends know my kids better than most of my family ever will.

Being triggered by all the loss, I really had to ask myself what was bothering me to get me so bent out of shape. What is upsetting me the most right now is that my dog is dying and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Maybe I should grant myself the freedom to be sad, angry, and less than perfect.