The support I need

Sometimes life happens and you need to just sit and gaze into the darkness inside of you for awhile. You have to face it to keep fighting.

I can tell when I’m really stressed out. I can’t sleep and when I do it’s filled with nightmares. My stomach is on a burning and raging fire. I thought maybe I had an ulcer this time. Maybe I had finally reached the end of my rope. I gazed into the water at Kennebunk and cried. I didn’t know if I could continue holding on.

But somehow I’ve been fighting this battle my whole life and never once tried to take my own life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought about it sometimes a lot.

When I told my mom I felt this way after she asked what I was thinking about, she told me she would try to give me the support I needed. When we got home from our trip my mom was on the war path. She tried to beat a lot of dead horses. She told people I was thinking of killing myself and they needed to help me which infuriated me because it wasn’t exactly true.

She told my brother Luke he needed to be there for me. My brother Luke walked away from my family almost a year ago. I invited his family over for Christmas last year. We even put the date on the calendar. Then after he found out about Arabella, they cancelled. It wasn’t about COVID because his whole family had it in November. He didn’t want his daughters to be exposed to my screwed up family especially when his wife Emily has the perfect family. Then the few times I did see him up north this summer I felt criticized and condemned by him.

Then my mom went and told my dad that I was ready to jump off the Kennebunk bridge. I am one step away from killing myself and he needs to step up and call me. My dad made every excuse in the book not to call me so my mom kicked him out of the house for a couple days until he finally called me. I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t know the only reason he called was to get back in my mom’s good grace. It was the first phone call I got from him in over 3 years.

Maybe my mom even told my Aunt Jan because I got a message from her that she was thinking of me. I could tell how much she was thinking of me when she told me I wasn’t welcome at the family reunion because of my vaccination status. I am about ready to tell everyone to piss off.

I told my mom that it meant nothing to have people reach out to me out of obligation, force, or manipulation. My personal problems are really none of their concern. I can take care of myself like I’ve been doing just fine my whole entire damned life. I told her she had no right to share things I’ve said in confidence with anyone else especially since I was trying to be open and honest with her about my grief over my daughter’s mental illness. I told her if I wanted to tell them I would’ve.

I don’t want to be too hard on my mom because I sincerely believe her intentions were to try to help me. But she is driving me crazier. I felt stressed out when my dad called not comforted. None of this is supportive to me, it’s stressful. Telling people I want to kill myself. Sheesh! She did buy me flowers though. There’s that.

This morning I asked my daughter Angel if she thought I was going to kill myself. She looked stunned and said no. Angel is really supportive. She is a good listener. That’s all I want my mom to do. I want her to listen. I don’t want her to try to control things in my best interests. I don’t want her to tell everyone a sob story about me to try to drum up support. That just makes me feel worse.

A couple days in Kennebunk, Maine

From Vermont we drove a couple hours to Kennebunk, Maine. I found our lodging last minute after our Airbnb cancelled on us. It ended up being our favorite place to stay. We stayed in the penthouse suite and the elevator took us to the luxurious top floor of a newer building.

Parking was tight in the little lot with the monster SUV. I directed Paul backwards into the spot planning to take our luggage out of the trunk before he pulled it all the way in. Arabella screamed at Paul saying she wanted to get the luggage out from the side door instead, that her plan made the most sense. She was angry again.

Despite that, we enjoyed most of our stay. Although the forecast said more rain, it was rather warm and sunny on Paul’s birthday. It only rained at night. A parade went through town the morning of his birthday. We went out for his birthday and we all ordered a whole lobster for the first time. Then we spent the day in Oak Orchard Beach. Arabella went to the arcade. We went to the few shops that were open. It was like a ghost town. There were signs that said you had to pay for parking but there wasn’t an attendant to pay. There was an amusement park full of closed rides. We did walk the beach for awhile but the water was much too cold to swim. Even the restrooms were closed for the season due to lack of staff to clean them. If we wanted a bathroom we had to stop and get a drink at the bar.

We did walk around Kennebunk quite a bit as well. Even though we were in Kennebunk and Oak Orchard Beach on the weekend, most places were closed for the season in the end of September.

I would like to say our trip was going well, but it really wasn’t. I still wasn’t sleeping and awoke crying from nightmares. Arabella was up in the middle of the night making noise that also woke us up. She started sneaking out by herself at night while we were in Kennebunk. In her room I saw tons of junk food and a lighter sitting on her dresser. Then she told us she no longer wanted breast reduction surgery, she wanted back surgery.

I was so upset. What did I expect? I hoped her mental illness would take a vacation too. I worried that my mom was having a horrible time. I became jealous that she probably had more fun on the trip she took with my brother Luke and his family a couple months back.

There was a little park on the Main St. in Kennebunk next to the dam. I went under the bridge with my mom and Paul. I stayed until it got dark after everyone else left and cried. I just didn’t want to do this anymore. I was feeling depressed with everything that was happening with my daughter. She was acting hateful to all of us and I just wanted to have a fun memorable trip. I lost a lot of hope that everything was going to be alright. Maybe my expectations were too high.

The next morning Paul, my mom, and I went to breakfast while Arabella slept in. My mom confronted me asking what I was feeling and thinking the night before as I sat watching the water under the bridge. She said that I scared her. I told her I was overwhelmed with grief about my daughter so much so that at times I feel like I can’t go on. I’ve reached my breaking point and it is destroying me. Paul told her that more than anything I just needed her support.

Paused…

I lost a lot of relationships because of COVID.

New friendships that never got the chance to bloom because they were never watered. What do we do now? Start where we left off? It seems awkward.

I’m more selective now anyway in where I go and what I do. The community theater had it’s first show in almost two years. I didn’t go. I didn’t want to chance getting sick right before our trip. I didn’t want to do group things all that much before all of this. Now I’m less inclined. Is it worth my life? Or is it an excuse to stay isolated?

After our vacation, I have two fun things planned for the rest of the year. Wedding dress shopping with my daughter. And a Halloween party hosted by a doctor who always had this fantasy of becoming a DJ. We haven’t seen our doctor friend since before COVID. He sent the invite out in June when we thought this whole thing might be over soon. I’m kind of expecting that it will be cancelled too. I bought the costumes. I am a cop and my husband is a jailbird complete with ball and chain. Will this friendship start where it left off? I don’t know.

I crossed the family reunion and family Christmas party off my calendar. I didn’t expect to lose family members from COVID either, yet none of them physically died. Instead of feeling rejected, I’m embracing it. I no longer want to do things out of obligation. Now I don’t have to.

I have a hard time with the small talk anyway. Lately I was asked if my parents were still alive. I don’t want to talk about my parents. Then there are the people that don’t know my daughter Arabella is having mental health struggles. I get asked if she is going to college. The only test she is going to be taking soon is her psych eval. I don’t want to talk about my daughter. I literally almost started crying when asked how she was doing by a friend I haven’t seen since pre-COVID. I hate small talk and try to change the subject. I don’t want to talk or even think about painful things when I am with other people. But hey, my daughter Angel is getting married next year. Isn’t that wonderful?

I wonder what is going to happen with some of the newer friendships now. I am not the same person I used to be. I wonder what is going to happen with family when this is all over. No hard feelings, right? I am hurt right now and I don’t even want to hear about anyone or anything for awhile. I just don’t care.

I don’t know how things will ever be the same. I try to convince myself that the isolated introverted version is the new better me.

Here are my plans. I plan on holing myself up for hours every day writing and finishing my book. I’m planning on doing some projects around the house such as weatherproofing our deck. I want to start working on remodeling the garage where my son is living with a couple friends. It already has a bathroom, two bedrooms, and a kitchen. It isn’t finished but maybe it will be.

My mom asked me to help clean out her shed. I told her maybe in the spring because I have my own projects to work on. I can’t keep putting my life on hold for everyone else. I have my own mile long list.

I’m really not sure what will happen with these relationships after this whole thing is over. My social circle got a whole lot smaller. But the relationships I have with the people in this circle are much more meaningful. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

It’s also changing because I no longer have kids in school. There aren’t any sporting events, shows, or meetings to go to anymore. I am no longer a school mom that does school things. I don’t drop the kids off and head to the gym anymore. I don’t even have a gym membership anymore. Sometimes I wonder what happened to some of the people I crossed paths with often.

Sometimes I wonder if they think of me.

I’m drowning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questionable truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free choice

I always assumed one basic premise about myself. Happiness to me is being calm and peaceful. But calm and peace usually ends up making me feel antsy, bored, and depressed. So is it really my key to happiness?

I told you how I was feeling depressed last week. To be honest, a lot of the reason besides the end of summer was because I felt hurt that I was no longer invited to the family reunion next month. Our household, which is pretty reflective of our state and country, has a 50% vaccination rate. All unvaccinated family members are no longer welcome to be a part of the family. I confronted my mom about this. I asked her why she didn’t say something as none of her children besides Matt (who isn’t even going) will be able to participate in the family event. I suggested an alternative of getting tested and wearing masks, the response was vaccinated only. I am no longer upset with my mom as she did try.

You see, I would’ve brought 6 people to the family reunion. Now my mom doesn’t want to go either. So 7 people aren’t going that would’ve been going. That means the cost per person is going to go up significantly for the people still choosing to go. Now another aunt and uncle may not be able to afford to go because he has to pay a crap ton of money every month for insulin. He told me that he doesn’t even care if I go because he is trusting his shot will protect him which actually kind of scares me.

When I went up north with my mom last week, she was invited to her sister’s cabin nearby for cards. My mom told me that some family members were even wary around her because of our family’s vaccination status. I talked to my aunt and she said that she had her grandbabies to worry about. Seriously!! As if I was going to sneak into her kid’s house (which I have never been to) and cough on some innocent sleeping babies (one of whom I’ve only seen once) which will end up killing them (which I’ve never heard of a baby dying from COVID). As if I’m a filthy leper out to kill babies and infect grannies. But hey Alissa, no hard feelings. Yeah that makes me really want to get vaccinated. NOT! Why bother getting vaccinated anyway if you are going to push away your family and live the rest of your life in fear? That’s not living.

Now before I go any further I want to say that I am happy my mom got vaccinated. She is living in a lot less fear than before. But I strongly believe that getting vaccinated should be a CHOICE. If you don’t believe that than this post is not for you. Don’t even tell me how pro-choice you are if you feel people shouldn’t have control over their own bodies. As you probably now realize by the tone of this post, I am not the calm and peaceful person that I say I want to be. I am not going immediately to get a shot to keep the peace to belong to a group that really never helped me through any hard times in my life anyway. To put it very mildly compared to the thoughts in my head, screw them. Bub-bye!

I feel bad for my kids because they really don’t have any family. My mom is the only person I consider family now. I had to really examine my relationships with others in this process. I don’t even consider my brothers close family anymore. They are Easter and Christmas brothers. I only see or talk to them a couple of times a year. Besides his step-dad, my husband doesn’t have any family either. My kids don’t even know any family members with our same last name besides my husband and I. It’s sad.

Through this experience, I learned I am not calm and peaceful. I can’t just let it go like my kids said I should. I still have a lot of fight in me. It gives my life purpose and strangely I don’t feel all that depressed anymore. Everyone should have free choice. They should even have the freedom to make the wrong choices. If I am wrong, I am willing to live (or die) with my choice.

YOU should make choices for YOU. Not me, not your family if you are an adult, not your employer, certainly not your government, and not even your church.

YOU.

I want my money back

I heard an ad recently that stated if you’re going to borrow money, borrow it from a pessimist because they won’t expect you to pay them back.

Recently my daughter Angel called me a pessimist.

That makes me question…Are all depressed people considered pessimists? Why are pessimists viewed so negatively? Why is it such a bad thing that most people resist being labeled a pessimist?

I admit I have been rather depressed lately. I haven’t felt much like writing. Tis the season. It’s not uncommon for me to feel this way at the end of summer. I’m going through warm summer sunshine withdrawal. My favorite season is coming to an end. It’s starting to get dark at 7 PM and I’m ready to go to bed. I haven’t been sleeping well and have been having nightmares again. We closed down the cabin for the year. The long sailing trips are over. Even the early morning runs before my daughter starts working will be over soon too. I eat, breathe, and live for the summer which is almost gone. I can almost taste the darkness that lies ahead mushed in with this crazy world we live in right now. It tastes a little like pumpkin spice mixed with onions.

Now before you cast me off as a hopeless Eeyore, I want to argue that perhaps I am not a pessimist after all. Maybe, in fact, I am quite the opposite. Maybe I am overly optimistic. I have inside of me this innate perfectionism. I can envision in my mind a flawless utopia. I see the world as it should be. The problem is that it is not that way. There is a difference between my ideal and the way things really are. How can that be fixed? I wish I knew. I kinda somehow think it’s going to take a little more than rose colored glasses.

A couple months back I told you the story of how my elderly friend Harv surprised me by baking me a cake for my birthday. It was a bittersweet moment because my own dad never acknowledged my birthday. No cakes, no cards, no calls, not even one birthday spanking. That one act of kindness from Harv nearly broke my heart. It was a happy day, yet at the same time very painful because my own dad probably didn’t even remember it was my birthday.

A pessimist might say…My dad hates me. I hate myself. Birthdays are stupid anyway. Harv is retired so he had nothing better to do.

A realist might say…Most dads care about their daughters enough to wish them a happy birthday. Harv is a good dad. My dad doesn’t care. It is what it is. How people treat me does not define who I am.

An optimist might say…Isn’t it wonderful that someone cares about me enough to make me a cake? Maybe next year that will be my dad making me that cake because I am fricken awesome. He really does care about me but has a hard time showing it. Blah, blah, blah…

I’ve always aligned myself as a realist instead of a pessimist. But sometimes the truth is too painful. I don’t have control over whether my dad calls me for my birthday or not. I could try to force it by calling him and telling him it is my birthday. But why bother? It’s not going to change things. Sometimes I just want to have a perfect life. Is that so wrong? I see how I want my life to be but I don’t have control over other people’s choices nor should I. Sometimes reality sucks and if that makes me a pessimist so be it then.

I don’t want to be an optimist, but here I am a utopic visionary in a dystopian world. Optimists rather annoy me anyway with their chirpy words of false hope. Things will get better with your dad. Just wait. How much longer do I have to keep waiting? I want to know because I am not getting any younger. I’m getting older. Okay, I’m 47.

Oh by the way I hate the glass half empty half full argument. In all reality, that glass probably shattered a long time ago. And I want my money back.

Am I mentally ill?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude week 81

  1. We made it across the bay back to our home port before the storm hit on my birthday.
  2. It seemed like absolutely everybody at the marina knew it was my birthday (even people I didn’t know). It’s probably the first time since I turned 40 that I am all birthdayed out. It was too much attention for this introvert.
  3. I met my son’s new girlfriend at my birthday party. She is really quiet and that is nice.
  4. Today I met my daughter Arabella’s new boyfriend. I did meet him briefly before when he came over at night and I was sleeping on the couch. I told him it was nice to finally meet him when I was dressed. Well that was awkward. I meant to say it was nice to meet him when I was awake (not sleeping on the couch in my pajamas).
  5. Summer!! After the storms on my birthday I couldn’t ask for better weather.
  6. I am planning Arabella’s graduation party. I am grateful to plan her party. As I looked at all of her pictures throughout the years I found myself really grateful that I am planning her graduation party and not a funeral. Worrying about death is one of the hardest parts of being a parent of a child with serious mental health issues. Graduating was a milestone worth celebrating, even if she is not heading to college like all of my friend’s kids.
  7. Over the weekend I went out to eat at the restaurant Arabella works at. I felt grateful that she has a job she really loves.
  8. I also went to a wedding show over the weekend with Angel, Dan, and his mom. I think within the next week or so we should have a date. I still cannot believe my daughter is getting married!
  9. Although I slept better on the sailboat, it is really wonderful to sleep in my own bed again.
  10. I am grateful for Angel’s birthday this week. We are planning massages and going out to eat at our favorite pizza place.

Triggered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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