forgotten

One of the hardest parts about being a special needs sibling is being forgotten. It’s like I don’t even exist. Forgotten, no one would miss me if I was gone. It’s hard to get over the voice in my head that is on repeat saying that no one really cares about me.

Yesterday I went out to eat with my mom. At the restaurant, my mom noticed our previous dentist sitting near us. He lost his license to practice dentistry over a decade ago. He wasn’t the first provider that we had lose his license either. Let’s just say when traditional medicine didn’t heal my autistic brother, my mom went the alternative medicine route and some of those doctors were quacks.

My mom went over to talk to our dentist about Matt. She showed him all of Matt’s most recent pictures. On the way out, we said good-bye. I told my mother that the dentist probably remembered me. After all, I was the patient with the small mouth that no dentist could numb for fillings. My mom talked to the dentist some more about Matt, then asked the dentist if he remembered me.

The dentist said that he did not remember me. He had a very large practice and wasn’t expected to remember every patient. I was in his office so often that I still remember his secretary’s name. It was like a kick to the teeth. The polite thing to do would’ve been to lie. Yes, I remember you. How are you doing now? Instead he asked for my mom’s phone number because he would like to schedule a time to come out and visit Matt.

I told my husband about the interaction and he was rather appalled. But I told Paul this was the typical response.

As a teenager, the rare time I was with family friends or family, they would pepper me with questions about Matt. They asked how my brother Matt was doing with the same sympathetic frown on their faces. I was barely holding it together, but no one ever asked how I was doing or how my other brothers were doing. Yeah, just trying not to swallow a whole bottle full of pills here. But who cares?

As a child, I wanted something to be wrong with me so that I would be loved too. My babysitter told me if I wore her thick glasses and looked in the mirror, I would need glasses too. I wore her glasses looking in the mirror with a metallic gum wrapper covering my top teeth with a paper clip. I wanted to be special too.

I had a lot of stomachaches as a child. I could barely eat I felt so sick. But I wasn’t as sick as Matt. I didn’t need to go to the doctor. Matt’s valve between his stomach and intestines closed, and he almost died. What was I bellyaching about? I just wanted attention.

But as I am currently facing health issues, I wonder if I am just being paranoid. Maybe it’s just me wanting attention. Maybe it’s nothing and I am just crazy. I am probably just being selfish to focus so much on myself. Look at Matt.

It was always that way. It will probably always be that way. Seriously, who cares anyway? My thoughts and feeling don’t matter. I don’t know why I even bother.

I remember a special occasion with family several years back. We were supposed to go around the room and share something special that happened in our family over the past year. My mom spent 20 minutes in tears talking about all of Matt’s medical needs. She did not once mention that my brother Luke, who wasn’t there, got a HUGE promotion at work that year.

We are the forgotten ones. It makes me feel both sad and angry, hurt. But it was always like that. I should be used to it by now.

I didn’t feel that way about my dad. He pretty much checked out altogether. But in my mom’s life, the sun will around revolve around her special son Matt. Our accomplishments don’t matter. It doesn’t matter that Matt hurt us or our children. We should all work together to worship our god Matt because his life sucks.

My mother is a great person, a martyr perhaps. I feel guilty for my disloyalty. But the one thing that grieves me deeply, far beyond the memories of the physical pain of being attacked by Matt, is being forgotten. It’s hard to get over feeling like no one cares about me. Sometimes it’s hard to be caring towards myself. I feel selfish for sharing my wants and needs.

Forgotten.

 

The second half of the weekend roller coaster ride

After church on Sunday, we went to visit our old friends Harv and Kate. Our old friends as in friends that are in their 80’s and not as in old friends we’ve known since the 80’s.

Harv and Kate invited us over under the guise of having us share our adventures in Thailand with them. They have been all over the world but have never been to Thailand. Despite being older than my parents, we share many common interests with Harv and Kate including traveling, sailing, singing, theater, the love of the outdoors, and being hard core intellectuals.

Once we arrived, I noticed in sheer panic that I forgot my phone at home. During this time, I missed the call from my friend Jen preparing me to see her with her new cancer diagnosis later in the evening at our children’s band concert. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Harv and Kate said that they had a surprise for us. We weren’t going to be eating lunch at their house as expected. They said they were taking us on a mystery date. Kate said that one time Harv took her on a mystery date and they ended up in Missouri. Wait! What? I got a little nervous when we started heading south. Not to mention that Harv went through a couple of stop signs.

Now Harv and Kate are by far the happiest married couple that I know. Although they have been married longer than I’ve been alive, they act like a couple of newlyweds. They said that they often plan surprises for each other to keep their relationship alive. Maybe Paul and I will have to start doing that.

Soon we arrived in a small town to a hole in the wall bar/restaurant/theater/art gallery/hotel that was 150 years old. Harv and Kate surprised us with a dinner theater show that Harv and Paul performed in together years ago. We had a marvelous time. When we got back to their house, they wouldn’t let us leave until we saw Kate’s drawings, they watched our son’s solo and ensemble performance, and we set up another date to tell them about our Thailand experience.

That set us on the road with just enough time to grab my forgotten phone on the way to the concert. I didn’t have time to call Jen back.

Arabella, my mom, Alex’s girlfriend, Paul, and I attended the concert that evening. We saw Julia sitting by herself and invited her to join our crew. Our other old friend Vince showed up. He sat down next to Julia. He asked Julia if she was married. She replied, “Not happily”. Her husband never attends their children’s events, just like my dad. Julia told Vince that it was so nice that he could come out to watch his grandson perform. Vince told her that he wasn’t related to us.

That can be the awkward thing about unconventional friendships…people always think we are related. He is not your dad?? No, my dad takes no interest in my life and Paul never had a dad. At this point, we don’t even bother explaining all of this anymore.

Paul invited Vince over to our house after the concert to watch the video of Alex performing at S&E. That was before we ran into Jen, before I found out that she has terminal cancer. I cried all the way home. I cried while Vince was at our house watching the video of our son perform. I cried myself to sleep. I was still crying when I got to work the next morning.

For so many years, I stuffed my feelings. I don’t remember crying when my grandma died. I told myself that she was still alive. For years, I crammed all of my bad feelings in some back closet of my mind. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel. After a while, I could no longer pick or choose what feeling I put behind the door…all feelings got locked up until I became completely numb to life.

After awhile I got sick of living in the empty void. Eventually I opened the closet door and all of the old junk of emotions came crashing down on me. I sorted it out. I processed it. I dealt with it and lived to tell about it. It was only then that I started to live again.

This time I told myself that I was going to deal with my feelings. If I’m sad, I’m going to cry. If someone can’t handle me crying because I found out a close friend is dying, then why would I want that negativity in my life??

But I didn’t cry in front of Jen, in front of her husband and children, in a public place. There is nothing I can do to heal her. But I am going to her house later on this week to see if she needs anything to make her last days happier.

So there you have it…I have a new friend with lupus, an old friend (15 years) with cancer, and 3 old friends in their mid-80’s.

Just because our time with others may be short doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t forge relationships…because, who knows? Nothing is guaranteed in life. Might as well start living every day to its fullest.

 

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #3

Even the toughest of days have bright spots, just do your best.

Life.

There is always darkness and light, morning and night.

But some days seem so dark that we cannot see the path in front of us.

Then for a brief moment the clouds part and a bright light pierces through illuminating the way.

A ray of hope…

Things won’t always be this way forever.

Some days it takes everything we have just to plod down the path.

But if we do our best, it is always good enough.

Be certain, we can’t truly appreciate the good days unless we’ve had a few bad days too.

In my feelings…

Last year, at about this time, my brother Matt was taken off of his anti-psychotic meds. Slowly, the docile Matt that we came to love disappeared. It started with a grunt and a few twitches. The Tourette’s was back. Then he started flapping his hands again, the Autistic self-stim. It all would’ve been tolerable for his liver’s sake, I guess.

But then the old Matt came back in full force. He talked to my mom about wanting to kill my niece, my brother Luke’s daughter. He fantasized over scenarios of killing or harming her. The voices were back. He laughed at the things they told him to do. He had conversations with himself as he flapped, grunted, gagged, and twitched.

He had to go back on the medicine. It took months to wean him off and it would take months until it was fully effective again. In the meantime, Luke had to keep his little girls away from Matt.

All of this happened before…

He attacked my daughter at her birthday party when she was 4. That was before he was medicated and in a group home. After that happened, I cut myself off from my family for years.

Before that, it was me. It’s okay if he hurt me, we were the same size. It happened day after day for year after year.

I was told not to feel. Don’t feel…don’t feel…don’t feel. I got pretty good at not feeling.

My dad never told me he loved me or said that everything would be okay. He could sit in the next room laughing over something stupid on TV while I cried. He didn’t care. He looked at me with vacant eyes. He wasn’t there.

He didn’t hug me, nor did he hit me.

Then there was a switch that would go off somewhere in my dad’s mind. He would become angry. He screamed, he swore, and flailed out at everyone. He laughed at our fears and tears. He ridiculed us, called us stupid, and told us how much he hated us. My brother Luke got the brunt of my dad’s anger. But Luke rattled his cage.

My dad never said ‘I’m sorry that you have to go through this’. Instead he called us names like wimp, baby, or worse if we cried or showed any signs of weakness. I built a tough exterior around myself that wouldn’t even allow empathy in. For every punch, hit, or bruise from my brother, my mantra was that the physical pain would make me stronger. The bruises and scars have long faded, but the inner scars will always remain unseen to most.

My mother was the perfect mom. Except she had one weakness, Matt. She favored him over everyone and everything else. If Matt wanted to go, we went. If he wanted to stay home, we stayed. If Matt was hot and we were cold, she would crank the A/C. Matt couldn’t help it, she said. We had control over ourselves, he didn’t. Sometimes she was so blinded by Matt, that she would put other people at risk by his behavior. But, she cared.

A few months ago, my mom brought Matt up north for my niece’s birthday. I’m not sure if it was a miscommunication or if she was trying to force Matt back into Luke’s life once she deemed Matt as better. Both situations happened before. Luke and my mother got into a huge argument. He wasn’t ready to trust Matt around his daughter. My mother left crying.

This takes us to a couple of weeks back…my mom stopped by on a Friday night. I asked her why she was over. On Friday nights she goes to the group home to pick up Matt. She said that Matt wasn’t coming home because Luke was coming over the next day to talk…something about therapist…repressed memories…

I felt very anxious the next day. For a brief moment, I wept. I know how Luke feels. I’ve been there before. It rips you apart.

It’s been almost a year and a half since I had my last what I call post traumatic stress episode.

It started out innocently enough. I was decorating the Christmas tree. Then this memory came back, almost like an image in my mind that I couldn’t get out. With this memory came intense emotion…stronger than anything I have ever felt before. It lasted almost two days. I couldn’t sleep and when I did I had intense nightmares where I woke up crying and frightened. I had several nightmares a night. I felt intense fear, panic, and rage. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t think rationally or otherwise. It was very horrifying.

I fell into a deep dark depression. I drove around aimlessly in my car. I had this strong desire to end it all. If I drove fast in my car and missed a turn…well…oh well. I screamed at anyone that tried to help me and pushed them away. I remembered. I felt the feelings I tried to repress 100x’s more powerful than if I would have felt them before.

I am afraid of this happening again.

My childhood…the flashbacks…those are the times my feet have swept the bottom of the ocean floor. I honestly don’t know how I survived, thrived in fact. I am completely ‘normal’, but my experiences in life are far from it.

The meeting with my brother was all very hush hush. He talked to my dad for 3 hours and my mom for 2 1/2. It sounds like there was closure and healing. At this point, it is hard to say.

Maybe I should talk to my parents too while I still have the chance.

But I’ve chosen to write about it instead.

I wanted a dad…

I wanted a dad that would hold my hand and walk with me when I was afraid.

I wanted a dad that would tell me a bedtime story, tuck me in with a hug, and kiss me good night.

I wanted a dad that told me he loved me.

I wanted a dad that wouldn’t let anyone hurt his little girl.

I wanted a dad that would teach me everything he knew without laughing at me for being so stupid.

I wanted a dad that would take me to the park and push me high as the sky on the swings.

I wanted a dad that would tell me I am beautiful, even if it was just on my wedding day.

I wanted a dad that was more interested in the things I was doing than whatever show was on TV.

I wanted a dad that showed up for special occasions.

I wanted a dad that would take me on father daughter adventures.

I wanted a dad that would tell me how proud he was of me, even if it was just for the big accomplishments like graduating from college.

I wanted a dad to ask me how my day was.

I wanted a dad that didn’t think my dreams, goals, and beliefs were a joke.

I wanted a dad that laughed when I laughed and cried when I cried, not one that laughed when I cried.

I wanted a dad that showed love to my mother, siblings, and children.

I wanted a dad that would give me advice on how to be a better person.

I wanted a dad that would buy me flowers or little gifts, even if it was just for my birthday.

I wanted a dad that I couldn’t bear to live without.

I wanted a dad to tell me that I was smart when I got good grades.

I wanted a dad that I wanted to be just like.

I wanted a dad to lift me up when I was down.

I wanted a dad that would call me names like princess or honey.

I wanted a dad to be there when he was around.

I wanted a dad that I couldn’t wait to share good news with.

I wanted a dad that I could trust with my feelings.

I wanted a dad that would say he was sorry after losing his temper.

I wanted a dad that I could see the goodness of God in.

I wanted a dad that would encourage me when I felt like a failure.

I wanted a dad that thought I was good enough just the way I am.

I wanted a dad that I would love to visit.

I wanted a dad that was fun.

I wanted a dad that cared.

I wanted a dad that I could write wonderful stories about.

But you, my love, only wanted a dad.

Quieting the voices again

Last week I shared some really personal stuff about my childhood. What I haven’t told you was that every time I read, write, or think about my past I experience the negative emotions that go along with it. Maybe it is a part of the whole healing process, I don’t know.

I was feeling angry at my mom. This is a real struggle for me because a) she is getting up in age and probably doesn’t have a lot of time left, b) I feel like she was the best parent she could be, and c) she probably was as much of a victim in this whole mess as I was. It is not fair to be angry with her now about things that happened a long time ago.

I should be angry with my dad. He was a) never there for me, b) emotionally abusive, and c) a crappy parent. But I am not angry with my dad.

To add fuel to the fire, the previous weekend when I spoke to my mom she said that the family was going for one last impromptu trip up north. My whole family was going up to celebrate my niece’s birthday and I wasn’t told about it until the day of.

My mom cared about me, but she always cared about Matt more. What I am angry about is that Matt hurt me all of the time and she never did anything. She never told him that his behavior was wrong. She comforted him after he hurt me. She told me that I was in the wrong for feeling angry and wanting to retaliate. Would it have changed anything to tell him what he did was wrong? Probably not, but it would’ve made me feel better.

Did she say she was sorry when Matt attacked my friends? I lost all of my childhood friends because Matt hurt them. I was put in a position where I had to choose between my family and my friends.

When Matt was too violent to go to school, my mom pulled all of us out of school. I was Matt’s caregiver up until my second child was born. I went to college close to home. As a teenager, instead of screwing around with my friends, I was in charge of showering my brother.

When I needed my mom the most, I felt like she wasn’t there…If I dwell on it, my anger boils. I felt rather despondent all weekend. My husband thought I was angry with him because I didn’t feel like talking.

I decided to call my mom over the weekend. I asked her how the birthday party went. She told me that she dropped off the cake and gifts and went back home. She spent half of the car ride home crying. Apparently my brother Luke was not ready to have Matt around his children but that was not communicated. Luke said some harsh words to my mom which was upsetting to his daughter and everyone around.

A couple of months back, Matt was taken off of his anti-psychotic meds. He started hallucinating again and became obsessed with my niece. He talked about killing her. He is back on his medication and hasn’t hallucinated in over a month. But Luke is not ready.

I understand because Matt attacked my daughter Angel at her birthday party. He was obsessed about hurting her too. I’m sure that my brother was thinking that he didn’t want his daughter to get hurt at her birthday party either.

Matt is an adult and our daughters are little girls or were at one time. After Matt hurt Angel I had to cut ties with my family for awhile. At the time, Matt was still living at home with my parents. Matt has always been fixated on hurting girls. Never boys.

My mom pressured me to have Matt get together with the family after that happened. Not long after the incident, I became pregnant with my second daughter. I found out the sex of my baby but never told anyone because it was too painful to tell my family that we wouldn’t be together for a long time.

It took years before I allowed my daughters to be around my brother for more than just a passing glance through the window. Luke is planning on reintroducing Matt to his daughters at my house next month for Thanksgiving. Matt never hurt my nieces. He seems to be doing better. He no longer mutters to himself or laughs at what the voices are saying. The voices are quiet again. Maybe we can move past this. He will have to stay on that medication for the rest of his life.

Delving into the past and the recent events have brought up a mixture of emotions, mainly anger on my part.

I will share some old journal entries with you this week (some of them are funny). Then I will have to put it aside for awhile. I really have a hard time over the holidays because it stirs up all of these family issues. For my mental health, I have to know when to set it aside for awhile.

 

Just one more day….

It’s been a rough week for me. I have been struggling with insomnia. My mind has been tormented with fits of anger, deep lows, and crippling anxiety. I found myself making mistakes at work although known for my accuracy. I feel sick to my stomach with nervousness. 

Tomorrow is the Half Ironman. 

I have been having nightmares more nights than not when I do sleep. I dreamt  that my legs weren’t working to peddle my bike. I dreamt that I was running straight up and when I got to the top I couldn’t get over the edge. I asked for help but no one would help me. I even had my first nightmare about blogging. I dreamt that there was someone who knew me so well that he left little notes to stalk me. What am I doing? I am a private person. 

Everything in me tells me to stop…stop racing..stop writing..But a few days without it and I am a basket case. 

I am terrified about tomorrow although everyone has been very encouraging about my endurance and ability to finish. I feel exhausted and run down. 

I have to get my mind in the game but it just doesn’t seem to be working right. I hope it is worth all of this. I think it will be after I get through my first Half Iron. I will keep you posted….

Sibling bonds

I saw my mother-in-law last night…it was the first time I’ve seen her since she died. She told me that she would be there for me. But I wasn’t in my house…I was in my childhood home. My husband was there too. He was trying to fix something that was  not fixable..

I woke up crying at 4:30 AM. I feel it happening again.

When I got the news, I was driving my car. I wanted to cry.

Then I felt angry. I drove faster than usual. I wanted to punch someone. I almost wanted someone to hurt me so I could kick, punch, scream, and fight back.

When I got home from my swimming class, I wanted to go for a long hard run. But it was getting dark out.

I felt deep sorrow. It took me to some dark places. It brought back demons so ugly, dark, and evil that I couldn’t possibly outrun them by running hard.

How could we not see what was happening? When Matt was taken off of his anti-psychotic medicine what did we expect would happen?

Matt was taken off of his medication because long term use was straining his liver..

Then started the sleepless nights of agitation. The tics and Tourette’s. The gagging and throwing up of meals. The extreme anxiety.

It wasn’t withdrawal. It wasn’t a virus. The old Matt was back. We just didn’t recognize him because he was gone for so long.

Don’t you remember Alissa? I used to read you books at night…books like Little Women. But Matt would pace the floors in agitation keeping everyone up until midnight. I had to stop reading to you. I had to be with him.

Then yesterday my mom told me that the hallucinations came back.

It started with a dream. A dream of Matt hurting my niece. In the dream, he killed her. He has become fixated on hurting her.

You see, I was Matt’s first victim. Year after year, day after day..it was me that he hurt. He punched me. He kicked me. He clawed me. He bit me.

After awhile, it seemed almost normal.

I wasn’t allowed to fight back. I wasn’t allowed to feel anything.

Then I grew up and had a little girl of my own.

Matt became obsessed with her…or I should say that he became obsessed with hurting her. What would happen if I held her head under water? What would happen if I twist her arm? Would she cry? The voices told him to hurt her.

Then one day he did.

He hurt my daughter on her 4th birthday. After my brother and husband wrestled Matt off of her, my brother Luke took Matt home. Matt went into a psychotic episode so bizarre. He muttered to himself for hours not seeming to be aware of his surroundings.

He still obsessed about hurting my daughter for years afterwards. I had to isolate myself from my family. I did not allow Matt around my daughter for years after that.

Then Matt went on anti-psychotic medicine and became a very peaceful loving person. He started giving hugs instead of bruises. Eventually we were able to reunite as a family once again.

But then this happened.

My mom decided to put Matt back on his medication despite the possible health risks.

Matt loves his family and doesn’t understand why he would want to hurt them.

My brother Luke is keeping his little girls away from Matt until he gets better again.

I never understood how autistic people could be violent. Hearing voices that tell you to hurt someone you love does not seem like a symptom of autism to me. But, a lot of autistic people I know who are violent are non-verbal. Would they be telling the same stories if they could talk?? How is this even possible?

I took the news about this pretty hard.

We will be okay. We will get through this again.

I just feel very compelled to share my story with you.

Please, if you are going through something similar…I would love to hear from you. I feel very alone in all of this.

 

A lot of praying, without a prayer

Playing the waiting game is never the fun and games it sounds like.

Yesterday my mom and Paul’s mom had doctor appointments.

As expected, my mom had the best news. The doctor wasn’t sure if she has glaucoma. She will have to do more waiting. But she does have cataracts and needs surgery.

My mom has always been the best driver that I ever knew, up until recently that is. I noticed little changes, like pulling out in front of traffic when she really didn’t have enough time or showing greater than necessary hesitation.

She is starting to forget little things too. She forgot my sister-in-law’s birthday. She forgot about my daughter’s holiday concerts. I found myself so busy at work that I didn’t have time to remind her either. The gradual decline is troubling at times.

My mother-in-law Martha’s decline has been more of a steep descent lately. She wanted to die at home which is not going to happen. She slept during her oncology appointment yesterday. The doctor decided to stop all treatment and keep her at the nursing home. He used words like keeping her comfortable.

I did start writing about two sentences of a eulogy. Oh, I already wrote it. I wrote it in my head while I was driving, running, and trying to sleep but I can’t seem to write it down on paper.

I started going through the old pictures. I didn’t realize how poor quality they are. The smiling images are not centered, blurry, or dark more often than not. I have gotten used to taking 50 images of the same event and deleting the ones that are not perfect. It’s not like the good old days where we took one or two pictures in an effort not to waste film and having them all turn out bad. I can’t part with the less than perfect images because that is all I have left besides the fading memories.

I feel depressed. Tomorrow is the anniversary of my grandma’s death, next week is the anniversary of the death of Aunt Grace. The despair of death and dying is surrounding me. It makes me feel nostalgic and melancholy on these bleak days of midwinter. This is the month that I lost the most loved ones and another will soon be added to the list.

We last visited Martha at the nursing home on Sunday. How I hate it there. I wondered how the young employees could work there day in and out without pondering their future fate. It seems like a nice place. I haven’t seen anyone mistreated.

What I hate is the joy that is robbed from having no hope. There is no hope that she is going to get better. There is no hope that her life will ever be the same. The despair of not having any hope left is emotionally draining. There is nothing we can do about it. Every time we see her, she is getting worse.

I have always clung to hope in the darkest times, but there isn’t a prayer although there is a lot of praying.

It was hard seeing Martha on Sunday. When we got there, she was laying in an uncomfortable position. We worked together to move her body. I lifted her shoulder while supporting her head. Her words came out in a mumbled whisper. She pointed and we guessed what was being said. She kept saying that her mouth was dry but she didn’t want to drink. She rummaged through her purse for aspirin although she just got pain medicine. She faded in and out of sleep.

Before we leave, we always take her for a walk to see the birds. The nurse carried her into a wheelchair and hooked her up to her portable oxygen tank. Paul pushed the wheelchair as I walked alongside with the IV. You would think that it would be easy to push the IV along but it rolled along like a shopping cart with a messed up wheel. I swerved around as I tried to avoid obstacles trying not rip or twist up her cords that were everywhere.

The birds flitted about in a relaxed manner. The residents spoke of the birds. They spoke of a man that comes around to clip the birds nails and clean out the cages. They spoke of this with great importance. They weren’t in a hurry, they were content to sit and watch the birds like it was the most important thing in the world.

It seemed like a mystery to me. The residents didn’t seem worried or to live in the hustle bustle world of deadlines and time constraints like most of us do, yet they have less time..

Tonight Paul and I will visit Martha. Darryl said that her condition has deteriorated considerably since our visit two days ago. We sense the urgency and are nervous when we hear the phone ring.

It could be any time now..

 

 

 

This, whatever it is..

Last night after writing, I felt restless.

I had an inability to focus and no desire to do so.

I left home.

I walked out the door and drove off without telling anyone I was going.

I drove aimlessly for an hour. I am drawn to places where I once was happy, but are lost to me now. I drive to the house I used to live in when we were first married, to my grandma’s house, or to the sailing club devoid of boats for the winter. Last night I drove by Lisa’s old house. I glanced as I passed and saw children playing inside. I drove along our old running route. Then I drove aimlessly after that.

I had a conversation with God while I drove. Why weren’t you there for us back then God? Why weren’t you there for me? Where are you now? But I didn’t receive an answer. I entertained the thought that he was never there. Maybe there is no God. I don’t know if I believe or trust anymore. My faith is held intact by a small string.

Paul was worried when I got back home. He forced me to talk to him when I would rather stare off into space, be alone, or attack him so he would stay away. I felt flooded with despair. It threatened to drown me. What is my purpose? Why am I even here?

The sadness was relentless, but I fell into an exhausted sleep only to awake hours later from a horrifying nightmare. I dreamed that I went back in time. There was a horrific lightening storm like one I never saw before. The lightening burned holes in the ground and tried to pull me into it. I had no way to protect anyone. My kids were in it while they were younger, I found my little brothers, and relatives that are long gone now. I couldn’t protect anyone and had trouble finding them.

I awoke in absolute terror. I wrapped myself tightly in my blankets to try to feel safe. But the feelings of terror surrounded me for another half an hour. I got up for awhile, unable to sleep. Then I fell back into a restless sleep for the rest of the night.

I awoke feeling nervous and afraid, like an intruder was in the house. I felt jumpy. I know the feelings weren’t true. I was alone, and no one was there..

The memories keep rushing back. Images ricochet through my mind..Sounds echo through my head… I hear the laughter of children on the playground… I hear them mocking Matt.. I watch as Matt kicks the girl at the roller rink.. I hear her screams and her dad’s angry yell.. I walk through the playground with Matt and his therapist trying to see if the laughter of the children will trigger a meltdown to try to help him somehow stop..I hear the cats cry..I hear a music box and Aunt Grace talking..I hear the laughter of Uncle Harold..

The images and sounds haunt my mind. Whispers of memory. Distorted, out of focus, yet somehow real, remembered faintly.

Then I realized that I was back home. I am feeling the way that I felt back then. The anger, the depression, the fear, the insomnia, the nightmares..

Paul said that maybe I should take some time off to rest. But I am going to work…I am following my regular exercise routine…and I am grasping onto my little string of faith..

If I let go, I will surely drown…