It’s probably not the best time

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a rough week. I probably wasn’t doing myself any favors yesterday by rereading part of the book I wrote. I read journal excerpts written by my mom of a time when Matt was violent towards me. I was reliving getting hit and kicked. I really want to get going on the project of finishing my book but it is probably not the best timing.

Rereading the book forces me to process past traumas all over again all while I am going through current trauma. I am distraught my daughter decided to quit taking her meds. I am sick of taking care of her pet frogs for her. I want to find a better home for them because she is probably going to neglect them anyway if she takes care of them.

I am sickened by Arabella getting into porn. It is very triggering because porn was a big part of my life growing up and I didn’t want it to be. It also triggers me to think about what Angel and Dan found on my dad’s computer.

I was feeling quite down last night and was glad when Paul’s step-dad Darryl came by for a visit. Darryl felt sad about everything going on with Arabella. He is estranged from his two sons and had some hard times with them as well. Darryl said he was planning on getting married in 3 weeks. He wasn’t going to have a big celebration because they both have been married a couple times before. Paul’s mom passed away almost 5 years already from cancer. I told him he was more than welcome to have a small reception at our house and I would gladly help with wedding planning. Both Paul and I told him we could use something worth celebrating right now.

It’s been strange taking the sleeping pills. I do sleep better but I still have bad dreams. This morning I woke up before 5 after having a dream about my dad and Arabella. I felt so sad upon waking that I started crying. I get this feeling like I can’t do this life thing anymore. There hasn’t been much joy for so long now. I texted my best friend and she called me on her way to work. She told me we were going to get together for cards tomorrow night to take my mind off of things a bit. She is the best.

I got it into my head to not read my book today. Instead I wanted to create a timeline of my life to see if I could find any interesting patterns. On the left side I wrote down the traumas and on the right the good things. I want the book to have an orderly flow. When did he poke me in the eye? When did he threaten to poke my eyes out with a knife in his hand? My autistic/schizophrenic brother Matt was violent towards me on a daily basis for somewhere around 15 years. When did it start? When did it end?

When Angel was 4, Matt attacked her and I cut off almost all contact with him. Those were hard years feeling isolated from family. Here I am again feeling isolated from family because of everything that happened with my dad and COVID. Angel and Alex have not seen my dad for two years. My dad is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. It does hurt because he is still my dad. It’s a horrible feeling because I feel so conflicted. I feel stuck in the middle. Just because my dad was a terrible father doesn’t mean I’m a terrible daughter. But maybe I should just walk away from it all.

I feel isolated and rejected from most of the extended family because I am not vaccinated. My Aunt Jan made it clear I was not welcome at the family reunion. She tries to act like it’s no big deal but I feel very hurt. I just found out my Aunt Jan’s husband tested positive for COVID anyway. I just have to wonder if it was worth it. Was it worth pushing me away when I could use the support of family with all the hell I am going through just to get COVID anyway? Now whatever relationship I had with them is gone.

I feel okay right now. I will get through this somehow. Every day has its ups and mainly downs. If I feel anything it’s this tremendous agony over my daughter. The thing is I don’t want her to come home. I don’t want her in my life. What kind of mother am I? Would I say that if my daughter had some other illness such as cancer? Why should I feel this way about a mental illness she did not choose? My daughter’s last words to me were fuck you. I just can’t do this anymore. There’s nothing else I can do. I have nothing left to give.

People say it’s hard to have teenagers. It is. But it’s even harder to have children who are struggling mentally ill adults. I can’t ground her from bad choices. I can’t take away her phone and video games. I just have to watch her destroy herself as it destroys me.

How do I insulate myself from the bad choices of others? I am not a psychopath. I cannot turn off all feelings even if at times I want to. It’s not healthy for me to shut down and numb out. How do I not let it bother me? I can’t seem to figure that one out.

The price you pay

Right before Paul left to go back to work away from home a couple nights, we had an argument about the COVID vaccine. We weren’t on the best of terms when he left. But nonetheless, he called me that night and everything seemed to be alright.

It was the next day that was a problem. I found out on Facebook that someone we knew was going to be at the same place Paul was with his clients. I commented on their status to say hi to Paul if they saw him. Now these people are really nice but are heavy drinkers. Part of the argument too was over Paul drinking. That evening the people we knew sent me blurry pictures of Paul saying they found him. He didn’t call me that night like he usually does. Now going through my head were a lot of scenarios. I thought perhaps something happened to him or maybe he met up with these people and had too much to drink.

While I was waiting, my mom called. She said that she and her siblings decided that no unvaccinated people were allowed to go to the family reunion in a couple of weeks. I was no longer welcome. I was angry but I didn’t know why. After I processed it I realized why. That excluded my brothers and I from attending as we were planning on doing. She could have suggested the plan that all unvaccinated people needed to get tested before attending and abstain if they were sick. They could wear masks. That has been the protocol for a lot of events. But I hardly think my mom would suggest something that someone else might not want even if it excludes her whole family. Maybe if Matt couldn’t go she would put up a fight. She never stood up for us with anything and that was triggering.

I was also angry because she is the one that drilled into us as kids that chemicals of any kind were bad. While our cohorts were guzzling down Kool-Aid, we weren’t allowed to drink the Kool-Aid. Artificial colors and flavors were of the devil. We didn’t have Twinkies or any of that stuff in our house. Fluoride was bad so we had to rinse our toothbrushes in peroxide and dip them in baking soda. I wasn’t allowed after awhile to take the green fluoride rinse that was wheeled into our classroom on the little carts about once a month. Just another way I was the weird one.

My mom took it a step further and also said what Matt ate caused him to be violent. He ate something with dairy and had a reaction that caused him to attack a stranger. We didn’t have milk or cheese often at our house. We weren’t allowed to drink it at school. Chemicals and allergens caused his hallucinations. We had to be extremely careful about food in our house. Because of the Agent Orange his body couldn’t handle any more chemicals. They ripped out the wood stove because wood causes allergies. We couldn’t have a Christmas tree because of allergies. Tree pollen caused violence. I literally freaked out once I got into the real world where people used chemicals liberally.

Imagine my surprise when my mom and Matt were the first in line for the shot.

Now she says I can’t be around the extended family if I’m not vaccinated? But it’s okay for her to live at our house.

I also realized not only do I have a lot of fear but I’ve lost a lot of hope. I thought that life would be back to normal by now. I thought if we did our lockdown and wore our masks everything would settle down. But I don’t see it ending anytime soon. Not only that but there are so many negative things happening in the world right now that it’s easy to feel discouraged. I’m sick of people arguing about who’s vaccinated and who’s not. Can’t we just agree that we don’t know when this is going to be over and everyone is doing the best they can? No, let’s fight about it because you didn’t make the decision I did and I’m right.

People are ending long term friendships and families are torn over this. When is it going to end?

Then my mom told me that my brothers were planning on getting together the following weekend to work on a huge project at the cabin. Again, this left me upset. They didn’t even talk to me about it and I know they will be complaining that I don’t do my fair share. I’m not going to be around when they want to do the project. We could’ve set up a time where I could help along with my husband, son and his buddies, daughter and future SIL. I could’ve offered up more manpower but they didn’t bother to ask me.

I didn’t sleep hardly at all that night. I was furious. I thought my marriage was in trouble. I entertained the thought of not seeing my family for another year of holidays. I started thinking seriously about leaving. I wanted to go to an area where no one knew my name. I was at a point where I just didn’t feel like I could take it anymore. I was done with COVID. I was done with being responsible for people and situations I have no control over.

I was still angry at my husband the next morning when he called. He apologized for worrying me. He said he got back late and didn’t want to wake me. He said he is so afraid that something is going to happen to me because I didn’t get vaccinated. I worry that his drinking is going to hurt him too. We were only worried about each other. Once I understood that, I felt a little better.

I just want the boring life

I should’ve known what kind of day I would have when my phone alarm woke me up this morning. You see, I never set my alarm. At 6:40 AM it started playing an explicit song called Woman by someone called Doja Cat on Spotify. I never heard the song before. I don’t know why it happened. When I searched the internet all I could find is that people have to pay to get an app that does that. Lucky me! All I have to say is that I’m happy it didn’t happen at 4 in the morning. My son said maybe it was a sign of some sort. Of what I don’t know.

I feel so frustrated by life that sometimes I just want to leave it behind and walk away. I guess it’s better than wanting to find the closest cliff to jump off of.

It stormed most of the day. Finally a good storm that the thunder cracked so loud it seemed to shake the very foundation of my house. I stayed inside and cleaned.

Paul had his first appointment with a new counselor. She asked him an interesting question. Who do you turn to for support? He didn’t have an answer. Really besides me, he has no one else. He didn’t have a dad or even a grandfather. He didn’t have a mentor. My dad was pretty much worthless to fill those shoes. There wasn’t anyone. He was alone but always willing to give the shirt off of his back when someone else needed help. It makes me so sad. We were always alone having to help parent our parents that never supported us. He can’t turn to me when I have nothing left to give. It’s no wonder why he wants to drink if it takes away some of the pain. He has done so well in life compared to where he came from. But he has his own demons and I have mine. He really likes this counselor but he came back angry. That’s okay though, I understand. I would be angry too. I am angry too. I respect him for trying to better himself, he didn’t have to go.

The last couple of years have been unbearable mainly because of my dad and the mental health struggles we’ve had with Arabella. I lost a part of myself. I am rarely fun anymore. I just feel an unrelenting sorrow. If you saw me you would see it on my face even if I did smile at you. I’m struggling to keep my faith. I’m angry a lot, but mainly sad.

I’m having a hard time with everything lately for more reasons than I’ve had a chance to share with you. The last couple of days Arabella has been slipping into depressed mode. She’s been manic for months. I hate the manic mode for her impulsiveness and risky behavior. But the last couple of days she switched. She quit her second job and I worry she might lose her first. She has been working as a server the past two months. When she was manic she was very upbeat and personable. But the last two days she has been crying uncontrollably while at work. They had to pull her off the floor because they didn’t want her crying in front of customers. Instead she spent her shift folding napkins in the back. Then today, although she wasn’t scheduled to work, she wanted to go in to hang around the people at work because they are nice.

I am so terrified that they are going to let her go. She had a hard time even finding that job in a labor shortage. What am I going to do? I can’t have her not working and am so afraid she is going to be suicidal again especially if she loses this job. Thankfully she has an appointment on Thursday with the psychiatric nurse. I told Arabella to tell her what has been going on. I don’t think it will help, but maybe. I know she is an adult and I should let it go, but what if she needs help? It’s hard because her best friend is going off to college this week and she is not. She has been moody and angry towards me when I try to talk to her sometimes. Some days she likes me, other days she does not.

Then the icing on the cake was that my son got pulled over tonight a half a block from our driveway. A couple weeks back he bought a fire engine red Camaro that roamed the earth with the dinosaurs, or should I say pre-internet right around when I graduated from high school. That car is so fast I could probably outrun my demons in it or maybe he could his guardian angel. I knew it was going to happen. I just didn’t know it would happen so soon. I think he bought a lemon too. He got it from a guy that bought it 3 months ago. He bought it a couple weeks back, drove it a few days, and then it ended up in the garage getting fixed until today. But anyway, he was travelling about three times the speed limit and got pulled over. I was nice enough to run his insurance cards down to him so he would avoid getting ticketed for that too.

I decided to punch a boxing bag to help work off some of the stress but ended up knocking it off it’s stand. So here I am writing instead. So much for light and fluffy posts. I don’t think I have much of that left in me. Maybe I should just go to bed before anything else happens. But if I wake up to a song tomorrow morning I think I’ll have my son run over my phone with his fast car. I really want tomorrow to be boring and uneventful.

I want the boring life.

Threats of imaginary monsters??

I was never safe. Matt was autistic/schizophrenic. He was the most dangerous when he was hearing voices. You could almost always tell when he was hearing voices because he would mutter back to them. Sometimes he would laugh in a way described as purely evil like a villain in a superhero movie except without the superhero. He was in his own psychotic world he couldn’t easily be pulled out of. He would become incredibly agitated in this state. His ears would turn red and his eyes constrict as if possessed. He was small but had superhuman strength in those moments. It was a matter of time before he hurt someone. Those were the days when we couldn’t leave the house with him. It was too dangerous.

Matt was also violent when the voices were silent especially when he had to do something he didn’t want to do. The most common thing he would do was pull someone’s hair, mainly mine. When I say he pulled my hair, it was more than a little tug. He would latch onto a fistful of hair and yank while his victim screamed trying to get away. I would’ve thought I would’ve lost more hair than I actually did. Typically it would take at the optimal two people to restrain him and try to peel his hands off of their head. I’ve done it many times. I’ve also been the victim of his attacks countless times because I was the only one in our house that was little and had long hair.

There were also times Matt would attack for no apparent reason. Here are some of the things I’ve seen him do as a child to myself and others, some strangers. He gave black eyes, bloody lips and noses, head butts, scratched up arms, pulled hair, kicked, poked eyes, slugged just to name a few. I was often seen sporting bruises and clawed up arms. He threatened me with a knife. He tortured my pets. He was so violent that he was not allowed in school for several years, the school sent a teacher out to our house. Hence the home school years. The police were called when he went back to school. He was arrested. Somewhere there is a mug shot of him.

Matt being violent was a common (at times multiple daily) occurrence throughout my childhood. He ran around like a wild child. We were not safe day or night. My mom took him to every doctor she could find in desperation but it wasn’t until he was in his 30’s that an anti-psychotic medicine removed his violent tendencies and rendered him docile.

Being autistic, Matt was extremely hypersensitive. He could not tolerate his teeth being brushed. This was very problematic because his teeth were rotting. My parents tried the best they could but he usually screamed every night when it was teeth brushing time. Sometimes my mom couldn’t do it and asked my dad for help. My dad would get angry, manhandle Matt and forcibly brush his teeth. This made Matt incredibly agitated. He didn’t dare attack my dad because my dad would give it back. A lot of times Matt would harm himself mainly by beating his head over and over with his fist.

There were journal accounts written by my mother of Matt attacking our sleeping youngest brother Luke. Imagine a little child awoken from sleep by being hit with a fist. Sometimes Matt would come into my room at night when I was trying to sleep with his fist raised at me.

But here is where I was lucky. Matt and my two other brothers had to share a room. I had my own room. But being a child, I was too frightened to sleep with my door closed and locked. There were demons and monsters hiding under my bed and in the closet. There were murderous dolls in my room just waiting for me to close my eyes. There were kidnappers outside the window. There were things that could get me if I slept with my door closed. As a child I was so afraid of the imaginary things that I was unable to protect myself from the real threats.

Now I am an adult and have long outgrown the threats of imaginary monsters. When I am up north with my extended family I am usually the last one to go to bed and the first to arise. Unconsciously I must feel safer that way. To this day I am a light sleeper and awake to every noise hyper-vigilant of every possible threat. I wish I could say that I outgrew the need to protect myself like I outgrew the threats of imaginary monsters. My body never overcame the fear that I was not safe.

But I am safe now.

The full story…coming soon

I got invited into the popular group once in middle school. They gave me a handful of candy. I threw it away.

I could never bring them to my house anyway. The outside of the house was brick, big and beautiful. But inside was another story altogether. I couldn’t do slumber parties and sleepovers.

My dad roamed the house in his underwear. He answered the door that way. On occasion, he mowed the lawn that way. Sometimes he would even get the mail that way. The truth is that he was more interested in porn than his own wife and kids. He never hugged me, held me, or told me that everything would be okay. Maybe it was a good thing he had an aversion to touching me.

Our house was a hoarder’s paradise. Piles of magazines and papers littered all seating surfaces, our table, and floors. My mom hoarded food so there was always rotting food in the fridge. There were cupboards full of food, a fruit cellar, freezer upon freezer, refrigerator upon refrigerator. But we knew the newest food was always in bags on the dining room floor. There was always a stack of unwashed dishes on the counter full of you guessed it rotten food. The whiff of rot hit you as soon as you entered the door.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there was always pee on the bathroom floor and a dirty sink. My dad was a greasy guy in more ways than one. He rarely showered and criticized us for showering daily as if we were the strange ones. My dad didn’t brush his teeth but wiped them on the hand towel so I always had to strategically plan where to dry my hands in a spot I thought would be the cleanest. I don’t know how I ever survived the 8th grade hand washing compulsion.

Then there was my brother Matt. He was the school ‘retard’. That’s what my classmates called him anyway as they mocked his bizarre behaviors. He heard voices that told him to attack other children and he listened. He ruled our house and my mother bowed down to him. Anything for Matt. Never mind her three other kids.

We had crazy rules to live by for the sake of Matt. For example, no one could come into our house that was wearing perfume. That is why you could find me before middle school started ratting my hair in the middle school bathroom along with the girls that changed their clothes into outfits not allowed out of the house. My unscented hairspray had too much scent. For awhile we had to brush our teeth with peroxide and baking soda. We had to shut the windows if there was an east wind blowing auto exhaust fumes into our house. We didn’t have A/C back then. My mom even took down her brand new curtains because of the formaldehyde and hung old blankets on the windows. We had to take shelter if a neighbor was spraying his fields. The air purifier ran constantly. But none of those things stopped the voices or the attacks.

So you can see I had to reject the popular kids before they had the chance to reject me. I hand selected a few close friends but in the end I lost them anyway because of Matt.

I hated my life. I didn’t belong. To make matters worse, kids looked at the outside of my big brick house and thought I was richer than they were. In high school I drove a bright red Firebird. I was an exceptionally beautiful child voted most likely to be a supermodel by the graduating class which did nothing to help me fit in when boyfriends of potential friends flirted with me. People envied and hated me for the things they saw outside. Things that I didn’t have any control over. In a heartbeat I would’ve given it up to just have a normal healthy family.

The kids at school could never see the pain and sadness inside of me. After awhile I stopped caring about what people thought. I hated small talk and following all the stupid rules anyway. I said screw them and became a rebel, strong and unreachable. When I got hurt, I retreated to the corner and licked my wounds alone. I had to take care of myself because no one else really cared.

I am still the same person. I try to play the best game with the hand I’ve been dealt. On the good days, I thank God for all my blessings. On the bad days, I reject God because I feel he has rejected me. I can’t sing that God has been good to me all my life when I don’t believe it. Why do I feel like God hates me when I try hard to be a good person? I spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect but it didn’t matter.

What is the purpose of pointless suffering? How has it made me a better person? How does it help anybody else? There will always be a part of me that feels alone no matter how many people are around. Maybe God will always be off in the distance and uncaring just like everybody else. I can’t seem to reach him either. I could never find a way to connect to normal people. My life has been way too crazy. I’ve had very different life experiences.

I will never be the motivational speaker that others seem to be. I am not the one who will tell you my anxiety went away by praying more or that my depression was cured by positive thinking. I don’t have the answers, just more questions. I am a broken person that will never be put back together right. Before my brain finished developing I experienced trauma more than compassion and love. I didn’t have that one teacher who made a difference in my life.

What can I say? I have a lot of trust issues. Who else has my back better than me? How am I supposed to trust?

Maybe someday I’ll get it right. Maybe someday I won’t feel angry anymore. Maybe even someday I will trust. But one thing I do know for sure. Soon I will be telling the full story. And it’s far from boring…

It’s not summer camp

Sometimes the friends you meet at the psychiatric hospital are not the best kind of friends to have. It’s not summer camp, you know.

But it was hard because Arabella missed so much school due to mental health issues that she needed to finish her education online. This meant that she had to drop out of the play she had a part in. She had to drop her extracurricular activities. She also lost the comradery with her friends from not attending school in person and being involved like she used to be.

She started hanging out with kids from the hospital. Some of them came from rough backgrounds. I know this because one girl was living in the homeless shelter and another at the domestic violence shelter. Another girl that she developed a friendship with made a serious suicide attempt right after Arabella visited her at her house. It really shook Arabella up because she was the last person to see her until she was found and the rescue squad came. Let’s put it this way, friendships formed in the psychiatric ward do not foster healthy relationships. But my daughter wasn’t healthy either and needed friends.

There was this one girl that was especially a bad apple and I will call her Ashlynn. She was into shoplifting and smoking. She pulled my daughter into it with her. I say this because my daughter did not do these things before she met Ashlynn. I do understand that my daughter is responsible for her behavior, but she is also easily influenced due to her fear of abandonment and own impulsiveness. Arabella decided to shoplift Christmas gifts for her old friend group. When her old friend group found out about the shoplifting, they had an intervention with my daughter and almost every one of her friends cut her out of their lives. I had no idea any of this was happening at the time.

What I do know and what I was able to piece together later was that Arabella came home very depressed from the intervention with her friends. She told me she was afraid that her friends were going to abandon her. It was not uncommon for her to feel this way whether it was a legitimate concern or not. I told her she should try some of her strategies on her list she made at the hospital to help her feel better when she was depressed. She decided to take a shower and listen to some music.

Afterwards, Arabella had a really good conversation with Angel and I. I thought maybe Arabella was feeling better. She seemed to be doing well. Maybe her strategies worked. I let my guard down. Big mistake.

After our conversation, Arabella went into her room and created a noose with one of her dresses in the closet. But she decided not to go through with it and called the crisis center instead. I had no idea what was going on until I talked to one of the people at the crisis center. It was terribly shocking. I thought she was doing better. My daughter wanted to go back to the hospital, but it was the weekend and my daughter was scheduled to start her outpatient program on Monday.

I opted instead to have the crisis center call her and myself several times a day to see how she was doing. I didn’t want her to lose her place at outpatient which took a month to set up to have her go back to the hospital which didn’t do as much to help her long term like I thought outpatient would. I set up new boundaries for her as well such as she could stay in her room by herself but needed to keep the door open at all times.

She was feeling better the next day and wanted to drive to her friend’s house but I said no. I didn’t want to let her use my car if she was feeling suicidal in any way. Obviously I couldn’t really tell or believe she was feeling better after the night before. But I also felt like I was punishing her for something she didn’t do wrong. Do I take away privileges for her doing the right thing by reaching out for help? That is something I always struggle with. I told her she could visit with a friend but she would have to come here and find her own ride.

We made it through but I’ve never been more afraid in my life having a mentally ill, impulsive, suicidal daughter that once only spent a whole week just at summer camp.

Gratitude week 69

  1. I’m grateful that my tattoo healed nicely.
  2. I’m grateful that I can now swim again. I had to wait while my tattoo healed. So basically I did not exercise at all since my tattoo. The weather has been cool and crappy. It even snowed a little since last week so I didn’t want to run outside. Plus I was busy taking my mom to appointments. I’m hoping for a better weather week and finding the time to exercise.
  3. Breakfast with my BFF.
  4. A mother-daughter date with Angel to go thrifting. I didn’t find anything too terribly exciting but it was nice to get away.
  5. My brother Matt came over for the weekend. Although I stressed about it, things went better than expected. It was nice to take some time to myself so I don’t go absolutely crazy.
  6. For rides on the 4-wheeler with my husband while he does the spring clean up on the yard.
  7. That my daughter Arabella seems to be making a lot of progress in residential treatment.
  8. This is a big one…I’m grateful that I survived getting a crown this week with minimal pain. I had laughing gas for the first time. Can you believe that instead of laughing I cried? I’m grateful for a dentist and assistant that went out of their way to be compassionate towards my history of experiencing dental pain and trying to make me comfortable through the process.
  9. The things I was really stressing about this month, the tattoo and crown, are over. I’m grateful for the relief that I feel that the fear is behind me.
  10. I’m grateful that my mom, Paul, and I were able to play a game last night. Things have been incredibly stressful since my mom moved in so it was nice to have a break from the heaviness.

Wanting to leave, not wanting to be left

Things really went south when Jordan’s parents went on vacation. Up until that point, Arabella was mostly going to school and staying mainly at Jordan’s house. The first day Jordan’s parents were gone, Arabella decided to take a mental health day from school. I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if she wasn’t already behind on her studies and actually did something to improve her mental health like get out of bed. Things went downhill from there. She attended school one day that week. By the end of the week, enough was enough.

We decided we were going to pick her up and force her to come back home. Paul and I rang the doorbell at Jordan’s house and her grandma answered. She was very kind as we explained things. Arabella rode back home with Paul. We were afraid she might try to jump out of the vehicle in an attempt to escape. I followed them home in our car that we let Arabella drive. Yes, up until that point we were letting her use our car. But that was going to change.

I remember it was a miserable night. I could barely see out of the fogged up windshield from the buckets of chilly autumn rain. I felt a sadness of the uncertainty to come. We sat down with Arabella once we got home. It didn’t go well. She was freaking out that we forced her to come back home. I’ve never seen her so agitated in my life. She insisted that Jordan’s mom was her real mother and I was her fake mom. I thought in the moment that she was delusional and out of touch with reality.

It was getting late and I finally made supper. Arabella refused to eat with us. I did check on her often and made the decision although we took away her car, we let her keep her phone. When she made the suicide attempt, she reached out to her friends for help first. I didn’t want to take her phone away in case she needed help. Maybe that was a mistake because that night she ran away. She called a friend to pick her up. She jumped out of her bedroom window and she was gone. She called after she left and told me she was running away and we couldn’t make her come back. Sure enough, her room was empty and a cool breeze was coming through the open window.

It was late, almost bedtime. We didn’t know what to do. I reached out to a couple of her friend’s parents but they didn’t know where she was. Meanwhile, Paul called the Crisis Center and from their recommendation called the police. We were deciding whether to report her as a runaway. If she was actively suicidal, they would search for her based on her cell phone location. If not, they would list her as a runaway and nothing would really happen. She called me while Paul was on the phone with the police and told us she was staying with a friend we didn’t know and she was alright. We decided not to list her as a runaway.

Paul wanted to speak to her friend’s parent. At this time, it was close to midnight. Her friend’s mom talked to Paul but refused to tell us where she was. She screamed at Paul as if she was afraid we would come over and beat our child. I can imagine Arabella told everyone how she wasn’t safe at home. It was very painful to be treated like monsters when we were trying to act in the best interest of our daughter with severe mental health issues. We were worried sick.

There was nothing else we could do. At least we thought she was safe for the time being.

Another sleepless night…

A couple days later she ended up back at Jordan’s house. We told Arabella we couldn’t do this anymore. It was tearing us apart. If she wanted to live with another family we weren’t going to try to force her back home. She was almost 18. But we weren’t going to let her use our car or give her money. She could come pick up her stuff. We were exhausted and reached the end of our rope.

She wanted to leave, but was upset when we let her go.

The revised new normal (3rd edition)

When the pandemic started, I had four teenagers living in my house.

Clara was the first to go. She went back home to Germany in April. Right after she left, I had colitis for 10 days. I thought I was going to die. It was not a good time.

My son Alex turned 20 in June. Part of the reason we decided to have a foreign exchange student was because my older two children were going to move out. Alex was pretty adamant that he was moving out right after graduation, but that didn’t quite happen. The day my daughter Angel moved out, the foreign exchange coordinator called asking if we would take another student. Talk about hitting me up on an empty nest day! We ended up hosting two students.

Alex, and his friends, didn’t interact with the foreign exchange students much at all. I was okay with that, really. Estelle was interested in a couple of my son’s friends, but they respectfully kept their distance. I guess I am thankful I didn’t have to deal with that. It’s been an issue before. When Dan started dating Angel, he was friends with Alex. That created some conflict. One of Arabella’s friends is also dating one of Alex’s friends. I suppose it’s bound to happen with kids close in age.

Estelle left on July 3rd, a couple weeks after her originally scheduled date. Arabella and Estelle never made up. Angel came home to say good-bye. I think she was worried about me because it seemed as if I was losing all my kids. I tried to keep busy.

Arabella gradually stopped staying at home as much. She pretty much moved in with Jordan’s family. I wasn’t happy about it and wondered if she was in a relationship with Jordan. We tried to move on without our foreign exchange students and her. Arabella spent the 4th of July with Jordan’s family although we invited her to come sailing with us. Paul, Angel, Dan, Alex, and I spent the 4th sailing and swimming. We didn’t go up north as was our tradition because my dad was there. We planned to watch fireworks from the boat that night. But even that was disastrous. After the second firework, the guy that was lighting them blew off his arm and had to be airlifted. Sirens blared and our spirits dropped.

The next weekend was my birthday which I celebrated with Paul, Angel, Dan, and Alex. Once again, Arabella didn’t join us. Jordan’s mom was celebrating her birthday too. Arabella went away for the weekend with their family. On my birthday she sent me a text that said happy birthday right before I went to bed. I didn’t get any gifts or card from her. The happy in happy birthday wasn’t even capitalized. There weren’t any exclamation points or cute emojis. I got the picture, I was just an afterthought. Jordan’s mom was hot stuff coolest mom of the year. I couldn’t help but feel hurt.

Life went on. The new normal became the new new normal revised. Clara left. Estelle left. Angel went back to her apartment hours away. Alex went back to living his own life apart from us under our roof. Paul started his new seasonal business. Arabella was pretty much gone. And I was left alone. In some ways, it was incredibly freeing. COVID cancelled all my plans and I no longer had to take care of 4 teenagers. I didn’t know what to do with the change. But I tried to keep busy.

Our first family session

We had our first family session yesterday for our daughter’s residential treatment program without our daughter. We were able to meet her therapist online whom we all really like.

I told the therapist about everything that happened with my dad. I told her that my oldest daughter Angel found child porn on his computer and turned him into the police a couple of weeks before Christmas. I told her how I was devastated by the news. But I had to put on a happy face because we had two foreign exchange students and I wanted nothing more than to give them the perfect American Christmas. I didn’t tell my daughter Arabella about my dad either. Childhood is sacred to me and I wanted to keep it that way for her.

In essence, I was the one that pushed Arabella away. I told her everything was okay but she could tell it was not. Then there was that day when I was in hypervigilant PTSD mode. She came up behind me to give me a hug. I didn’t know she was there and freaked out when she touched me. I screamed at her to get away from me. Later I tried to explain things, it wasn’t her it was me. I still didn’t tell her what was wrong and she still felt rejected.

Not long after that she accused Estelle of stealing all of her friends away. She just didn’t fit in. Estelle was this super cute petite popular French girl with a vivacious lust for life. Arabella was the strange, klutzy, overweight, socially awkward, friendly girl with a good heart. She couldn’t compete.

When we sold our business a couple years back, we bought my dream house complete with an indoor pool. I would’ve killed to have the life we have given her. She, though, wanted to kill herself. She started going to a new school her sophomore year. Arabella wanted to give it a try. She was always my kid that embraced change, adventures, and new experiences. She was very adaptable. But the school was very cliquey and she didn’t fit in. Her junior year we brought in two foreign exchange students. We thought it would make it easier for her, but it didn’t in the end. Instead she felt rejected by me and her peers.

When she started to experience depression, I asked her what she had to be depressed about. After all, I’d given her the perfect life. She didn’t have to live with a greasy pedophile dad. A mom who stayed with him so she didn’t have to be alone. She didn’t have to live with an autistic/schizophrenic brother who heard voices to kill pretty much everyone I was close to in my life plus countless random strangers. She didn’t have to deal with having a lazy ass dad who was barely employed. She didn’t have to live in a filthy hoarding house that no one feels comfortable in. I could probably go on…………but won’t. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you probably got the picture.

I simply just wanted my kids to be kids. I wanted to protect them from the chaos and insanity that ruled my life as a child that somehow has a way of still spilling into my adult life. I was very upset that what I had worked hard to give her wasn’t good enough. She should be happy. She didn’t have any reason not to be, except….well…..genetics.