My psych eval (25 years later) part 5

Alissa described herself in the past as feeling very depressed including having the same nightmare over and over. One of the nightmares involved being kidnapped and another one included drowning and having her feet trapped in weeds which dragged her underwater. She dreams of cats scratching her and a cat would be ‘possessed’ and she fears being bitten and clawed by the cat. Alissa has a nightmare of a bird pecking her and eating her. The morbid content of the dreams would suggest the presence of a depressive disorder.

I remember the repetitive dream that I had as a child. It was dark and I was the last in a line of people walking through a crime ridden large city. There was total silence, no cars, no colors, no other people besides the dark images I was following. Somehow I was walking to my grandma’s house, but every time I was almost ready to make it to her brightly lit front door someone would grab me from behind and kidnap me.

I had dreams about falling and drowning.

Watching my 2 year old brother almost drown was very traumatic for me because I was supposed to be watching him. Granted, I was 6 when I watched my three younger brothers ‘swim’ in the lake. For the longest time after that I felt like a failure. When I was 12, I watched my baby cousin in a swimming pool with other adults around. She fell in and I rescued her. I felt so happy like I redeemed myself.

It was also traumatic for me when my dad held me in the weeds because I was terrified. That could explain nightmares of my feet tangled in weeds. But I don’t remember ever dreaming about Matt or how he hurt me.

At times in my life I went through periods of insomnia and nightmares when I could sleep. It’s not too unusual for me to wake up crying an hour or two before I needed to get up. This is the place where my loved ones die. This is the place where the people and animals I love turn on me. This is where I almost die.

But I remember also having dreams where I would soar and fly above it all. It wasn’t scary. It was exhilarating and free. I didn’t have to be trapped by the things that frightened me.

When the music is over..

My son dropped out of band the week after we toured a college for music.

It reminded me of the time my son dropped out of wrestling. It wasn’t just because he was being bullied. The year before he quit, he got third place at regionals in a large bracket. There was an opening to go to state and they called my son to fill that position. All the way up to state, Alex practiced as hard as he could. He practiced so hard that after falling asleep on the long car ride to state, he woke up with a pinched nerve. He couldn’t hold his head upright. He was in a lot of pain and couldn’t wrestle.

Some people gave him crap saying that he was too afraid and that he was faking an injury so he wouldn’t have to wrestle the best in the state. He forfeited his matches while we sat there watching everyone else wrestle. That night at the hotel, his team and their coaches and parents celebrated while we sat in the hotel room devastated. He worked so hard. It wasn’t fair.

We talked with Alex and we decided that we would do everything to help him get to state the next year if he wanted to. We took him to summer camps and intensive preseason wrestling twice a week an hour away. He got to be really good. Who would’ve thought that this could shake up the middle school pecking order and snowball into bullying? But he pushed on. Then at the end of the season, he got the flu. He got weak. But he kept trying. Then right before regionals, he got hurt again. He decided he had enough. It was hard to let go of the 8 years we put into this sport. I felt sorrow. My husband asked if I was expecting him to make a career of it. What if he got hurt again, but worse??

But this is different. This is more personal. I thought that maybe he would pursue a career in music. I thought he would pursue his passion. He got awards at state. He has the talent. He said he wanted that.

Even if he didn’t succeed, I think he would regret not going for it.

We had a long talk with the music professor at the college. He spoke of auditions for scholarships. My son even talked to us about the song he might want to audition with. We decided to contact his piano teacher to continue lessons and contacted the local university for private lessons on his instrument. We have given him all of the tools for success, but he just doesn’t seem to want to pick them up.

This year a majority of the upperclassmen and all of Alex’s friends quit band before the school year started. Alex said he wanted to quit band too. He told me this as he was making beats on his computer and strumming a guitar. Hate music now, huh? I didn’t take it seriously.

He just quit band, a month into the school year. He said he is never playing his instrument again. He was also going to be a part of the pit band for the high school musical, but dropped everything. No music lessons. He said he doesn’t even want to go to college. He burned all of his bridges with a blaze so intense it makes my eyes water.

I felt so angry at first. Now I feel an unrelenting sorrow. My hopes and dreams for him have been totally crushed. He is so smart and talented. To see him have the ability and throw it all away is killing me. Maybe there is still tech school. Who knows? Maybe he won’t even graduate from high school. I could see him getting his PhD in music, but I can also see him living on the streets. The windows of opportunity are closing and it is very painful.

What if he takes the wrong fork in the road?

I think the hardest thing about having adult children is the utter lack of control. I fear that someone will hurt my children. But even more terrifying is watching your child destroy himself and not being able to do anything about it.

Why God? Why??

I didn’t recognize her at first. I think that was one of the hardest parts. I just saw her a couple of weeks ago.

She talked about how busy she was then…with a son graduating from college and moving back home. Her other son was finishing his first year of college and moving back home. She needed to get a storage shed. But we should really get together for lunch sometime.

She left a message asking for a call back.

I forgot my phone at home that day, which never happens. I got home with enough time to grab my phone and leave for the band concert. My car was left running in the driveway when I got her message. Never mind calling her back, she was probably on her way to the concert as well.

Her voice sounded strange. I asked my daughter if something was wrong. Jen’s daughter and mine have been good friends since they were babies. Is there something you aren’t telling me? Is there something I should know? 

Jen has been my daughter’s coach for the last 5 years. It was hardest for me to tell her that I was moving, leaving. I was sad that my daughter wouldn’t be on her team next year. But I didn’t know then that things would never be the same for other reasons…

After the concert, an elderly woman approached me. Perhaps she was confused. She acted like she knew me. I didn’t know her. When she opened her mouth, she whispered…I’ve been sick.. I recognized that voice. Jen? I have cancer…incurable…inoperable.. What??

At one time, I considered Jen to be my best friend. Our daughters were best friends. Jen is truly a good person. She is a better person than me. She is a good wife and mother. She would give you the shirt off her back if she needed it herself.

When the kids were little, she volunteered a lot at the school. She was a board member for the parent teacher association. She chaired several book fairs, I co-chaired. She helped me start a babysitting co-op. She was always an active church member. She did more than her part to try to make this world a better place.

We didn’t see each other as much once the children got older. We weren’t needed as much anymore at school. She got a job. I also worked. Her mother got cancer and she was needed there. It seemed like we saw each other less and less with each passing year. But every once in awhile we met up for lunch or went out.

It took everything I had to not break down in front of all of those people. I cried all the way home. I didn’t sleep well last night.

It hurt to see her husband have to help her out of her chair. She seemed so feeble and weak. I don’t understand. She didn’t smoke. She rarely drank. She exercised, made a point to make her family healthy meals, wasn’t overweight, and in general lived a healthy lifestyle. How could this happen?? It’s not fair!

She quit her job. She was too sick to go to her son’s college graduation. Nothing would’ve stopped her from going to that.

Why God?? Why? She is in her 40’s. She still has a child at home. She was fine a couple weeks ago. Now she looks like she is in her 80’s. The color in her face is wrong. I’ve seen this before. She looks like my mother-in-law did right at the end of her struggle with cancer. Skeletal, feeble, and old. I didn’t even recognize her! The last time I saw her a couple weeks back she was vibrant and full of life! How could this happen in such a short period of time?? How could God let this happen??

I remembered all of the good times together…the play dates with the kids, trips to the zoo, camp fires, days spent at the beach, boating, visiting their cabin, winter days spent searching records together for our genealogy hobby…Now all of this is gone. Her future gone. The dreams she had for retirement gone. The rest of her life with the love of her life…gone! Being a grandma some day…gone. Poof, just like that. Healthy one day, dying the next.. I can’t believe it!

I don’t think she has much time left. I can’t believe this is happening. There is nothing I can do. I am in complete and total shock right now.

Last week I talked about feeling old…needing reading glasses, friends children graduating from college and getting married. But nothing prepared me for the reality of losing a close friend…Death.

 

 

Moving on, part 1

Last time I shared how my feet swept the ocean floor. It was pretty raw, but not at all pretty. Today the pendulum is going to swing in the opposite direction.

Both the deepest lows and the highest highs are hard to talk about. People just don’t do it, unless they are writing a novel about the life of someone else. It somehow seems too personal.

But to talk of everyday life is boring. It is like a flat line on a bell curve. Today I did a load of laundry, ran the dishwasher, and went to work…blah, blah, blah…Nobody wants to be flat lining!

I learned a long time ago not to care what others thought of me. Having a severely mentally ill brother and an obese father that is known to walk out to get the mail in his underwear would do that to you.

Seriously, I would’ve been soooo screwed if I was sensitive enough to care what people thought of me. Instead, I do what I want whether people like it or not.

This thinking opened the door to new adventures. Literally!

In two months, I will be moving into my dream house.

Who could’ve guessed that the business my husband started and I helped him build would be such a success? We struggled to make ends meet for so many of our early years. We almost bit the dust with the recession. Then we slowly earned enough money to start remodeling our modest little house. And now after selling the business (but still working there) we are starting our life over.

He is having an identity crisis now, my husband. What happens when you accomplish more than you set out to achieve? Should he start another business? Would we, as workaholics, end up destroying ourselves when there is nothing left to build? Should we retire early? How could we sit still and do nothing? Should we start new careers?

My husband always thought of himself as the underdog, scraping and scrapping to get by. Who is he now??

People are stopping by our new house just out of curiosity and showing pictures to all of their friends. Remember that boy who didn’t have a dad that we thought wouldn’t amount to much?? People are talking. Rumors are spreading like wildfire. People are asking…How much are the taxes?…Are you going to clean your own house?…Why would you want such a big house when your kids are ready to leave??…They swarm around us with a buzz of questions like busy bees.

I’ve always wanted a swimming pool. When I left home, my parents bought an outdoor swimming pool for Matt’s therapy. What??!? When I begged them for one, they always said ‘no’. I could swim in the lake up north. It always made me feel a little hurt. But in our climate, we can only use an outdoor pool for about 2 to 3 months of the year. It doesn’t seem worth it. My parents haven’t even used their pool in years.

My dream house has an indoor pool in a room that is probably the size of my current house. It is an older house, but full of character and charm. It has hardwood floors, wood burning fireplaces, and a big yard for my dog to run around in. My kids will each have their own bedrooms.

At least people cannot say that I married my husband for his money. He didn’t even have the proverbial pot to piss in when I met him.

I married a boy that spent his earliest year growing up in the projects in the inner city of Chicago. When I met him, he didn’t own a house. He didn’t have any money in the bank. He owned a rusty old Chevrolet. That’s about it. He had a mediocre dead end job. He wasn’t going to have an inheritance. He didn’t have a father and had no clue how to be one. He didn’t have any siblings. He didn’t know how a husband should act. His mother wasn’t the type to offer help.

He had nothing and knew nothing about family life. But he had this dream to start a business. It was a big risk, but it paid off.

I am really excited to start this new adventure.

I’m ready to move on…

 

 

 

 

Out performing

Last week my daughter Angel was home from college for spring break. We watched a couple of rockumentaries. We watched the Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck’. I found the documentary to be rather disturbing. It showed raw footage of his drug addiction. What a tragic story of a brilliantly troubled mind. He was so talented, yet died so tragically young. Sadly, it really isn’t unusual anymore to hear of talented performers dying from suicide or drug overdoses. I wouldn’t wish the life of a performer on my worst enemy.

Then it occurred to me that this is the kind of life two out of three of my children want to have. They want to be performers.

My firstborn, Angel, is in her second year of college for vocal performance. Recently she competed in a very elite competition and was one of the very few students from her college that was chosen to sing in front of an opera star. She never had singing lessons before college. It might even sound stupid, but maybe I never fully realized her talent. She was the only one ever in the history of her high school to get as many perfect scores at state for her vocal performances. Now she is in college competing with students that have had singing lessons for their whole entire lives.

But don’t all parents think that their children are the brightest, most talented, most intelligent children even if they are not? I also had the opportunity to listen to performances of strangers for solo and ensemble. I sat through one of the worst vocal duets I ever heard to look around to see parents recording the blessedly miserable event on their phone beaming with pride.

Parents often wear blinders. Why would I be any different?

My son is going to state for a piece that his piano teacher couldn’t even play the accompaniment for. It has a difficulty rating of 9. She said that it was a PhD piece. The ‘second chair’, who is a senior, played his level 4 difficulty solo from last year and bombed it. It was the song that my son got a perfect score on at state as a sophomore. After my son played his solo this year, the girl’s mother introduced herself to me. She told me that my son is a genius, a savant at music. She went on and on to the point that I almost was embarrassed. What could I say back to her? Her daughter as a talented senior bombed the solo my son aced at state last year as a sophomore. It was awkward.

I have two children that are the top performing musicians from their small town school. They are joining the hordes of a million other talented young wannabe famous musicians who are just as good if not better than they are.

In all honesty, who doesn’t want to be a star?? I sure would love to have 20,000 followers on WP. How about you?? If you have that many followers, how worried are you about continuing to write brilliant posts? Point made.

But do I want the life of a performer for my children?? I am not so sure anymore.

I picture them searching from city to city for a mirage they can’t seem to grasp onto. They will deal with the fear of failure. But guess what? The fear of success is just as terrifying. Rejection. Not having a stable lifestyle. Not having a steady income. The possibility of finding permanent residence in my basement. Not being able to pay off college debt. Maybe being famous? Having to keep performing at a stellar level to keep their fame. The possibility of drug addiction. Fans worshiping them but not knowing who they really are. Haters. Critics. What do you think a beautiful girl might have to do to make it to the top? A life on the road. What about a family? Broken relationships. Constant pressure. The isolation from a lack of anonymity. Broken dreams from not succeeding. Not being able to handle fame.

Why do I worry that it might not go well for them either way?? Didn’t we teach our kids to follow their dreams when we followed ours? Performing is one of the most exciting career journeys that anyone can follow.

Who knows? Maybe it will end well. As I overthink about it, maybe I am just worried because that is what I do as a parent. Worry. Sure, my kids are talented. But are they talented enough??

Maybe not pursuing a dream gives a life of more regrets.

And maybe I shouldn’t have watched that documentary.

What’s next?

This year my husband is going to be 50.

We recently went to Thailand to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

I don’t want to do that anymore…have a reason to travel.

Our first trip out of the country together was an extended weekend in Jamaica for our 10th wedding anniversary. It wasn’t worth all the time traveling to get there late on Thursday night and head home Monday morning. We didn’t know much back then. My husband was 40 the first time he was on an airplane.

For our 15th anniversary, we took our second trip out of the country together to St. Lucia.

Our third trip out of the country was to Thailand for our 20th anniversary.

I don’t want to have a reason to travel anymore if that is something we both want to do.  It shouldn’t just be for big anniversaries. Things change. We couldn’t go before. We didn’t have the money. The kids were little. We just started a business.

Now we have financial security. We will have an empty nest in 3 years. We will be thinking about retirement within the next 10 years.

My husband will be 50. We love to travel. We have the next 10 years to do all the traveling we can before we start thinking about slowing down. Paul’s only parent died in her 60’s.

We want to get away every winter. Next year we are planning on renting a catamaran to sail around the Caribbean British Virgin Islands with friends.

I want to visit all of the continents. I’m not sure about Antarctica yet. Wisconsin winters are bad enough. I’m serious about doing this. It was scary at first. I worried about flying, being uncomfortable, not liking the food, etc… Everything new is scary at first. But if you take the first step, you’ll want to start running.

I don’t want to just visit the continents. I want to immerse myself in it. I really have a passion to learn foreign languages. I would like to be fluent in Spanish and German. I love photography and writing. I might look into what it would take to be a travel writer. I could easily write something like I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.

The time to do this is now. I can’t continue to watch the years slip away. I don’t want to look back in regret. It’s time for a second wind. I want to finish this race strong.

Paul’s journey, part 10

I’m going to conclude Paul’s journey today.

Wow, that came across as a little harsh. Almost like I will be waiting at the door for him with an arsenic cocktail.

What I meant to say is that I will finish telling the story today. The story isn’t over, in fact some might say it is just beginning..

I just wanted to get the point across that Paul grew up poor starting his life in the inner city of Chicago without a father born to a teenage mother that dropped out of high school.

He had a dream of starting a business. After working very hard for almost 2 decades he saw his hard work come to fruition.

The American dream is alive and well. If Paul can do it, anyone can. The odds were against him. He is a self-made man.

It has been a huge adjustment. I don’t think the fear of not being able to make ends meet will ever go away for Paul. Being poor is so ingrained into who he is. It is a bit of an identity crisis.

I wrote a couple of series on this blog before. This was by far the hardest. If I wanted to do an adequate job of it, it would probably take me at least 6 months of writing his story everyday. I’m not going to do that here. I get bored of hearing broken records (if that is a thing anymore). I like changing things up.

So I will share with you my life. The joys, the heartaches, the journey. All of it..

I want to write a book someday about Paul’s life. It is very inspirational and remarkable story. I may just write it to leave behind for future generations. I would have to get a lot more detailed information. I told Paul that I would be writing a series about him. One day I grilled him for information while we went cross country skiing. He asked me if I would stop asking him questions about the dark days that past and we could focus on the beauty of nature on the trail instead.

Paul doesn’t spend as much time in the past like I do. He focuses more on the future.

I also found it challenging because the story isn’t over yet. I wrote a series previously about eccentric family members that passed away. I found it easier because that story is over now. There are certain things that I can grab onto and remember, but there will never be any more stories.

I have been with Paul over 20 years now. A lot has happened since we met. There was a lot that happened before we met that I couldn’t share from personal experience. I worried that my information might not be accurate enough for my liking. Also, how do you narrow down 23 years together into 10 series? To do an adequate job I would have to do a lot of thinking, note writing, and question asking. I would need an outline of sorts. Sounds like a lot of work for a hobby and I’m a marathon runner.

Plus another thing I wasn’t expecting was how my feelings got in the way. For example, if I was planning on writing a post that was positive and encouraging about Paul but we just got into a fight…how do I brush that aside?? It seems fake. He is the best thing that ever happened to me…but I want to conclude his story right now with arsenic just doesn’t give the right feel. Seriously, all is well.

All I can say was that it’s been a wild ride. I wasn’t really expecting that.

Paul’s journey, part 8

When you decide to take the first step, you never know where it will lead you.

Paul had a dream. He was at a dead end job. He used up his vacation time to cut back his hours at his job so he could start a business on the side. He worked after work. He rented a small office nearby so he could work over his lunch hour.

Eventually Paul ran out of vacation days. They gave him an ultimatum. Either you come back full time or you leave. Sink or swim Paul.

For awhile, he stood at the edge of the precipice. What am I going to do? Should I start climbing even though I can’t see anything at the top? What if I fall? What if I fall further than I am right now? What if I fail? How will I provide for my family?

“Should I climb?”, he asked. Climb, I said.

Taking that first step on his own was the scariest. It was risky. There was a mortgage to pay and little mouths to feed. We were already living on one income.

Paul immersed himself into building a start up business. He was working towards a Master’s degree in his field of study. He took a couple of sales training classes. He knocked on many doors.

Over the years, he attained every accreditation, certification, license, and joined every industry association that he could. He started working on his MBA one class at a time while running his business. He oftentimes would start his day at 5AM doing homework before work. Then he worked until the work was done. He earned his MBA. He still grabbed at every opportunity to learn more. He worked hard and became an expert in our state.

It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It took decades and years of climbing not knowing what was at the top. When the recession hit, he thought he was going to lose his footing. He managed to hang on.

Over time, Paul got used to and became very good at climbing. He is always looking ahead, always striving for that next goal. Sometimes I wish he would take a glimpse back to see how far he climbed.

All it took was being brave enough to take that first step.

Another nightmare…

Last night I had another nightmare…

I dreamed that I was pregnant.

As a woman in my 40’s (AND the mother of 3 teenagers!!!!!!!), that is my worst nightmare.

My 13 year old daughter is currently going through a rebellious stage. She currently hates me. Yesterday she mentioned that she likes her brother more than me. Trust me, that is bad! Seriously, what did I do?? That’s right! I breathe. I’m annoying. I wouldn’t understand.

She told me this past weekend that she is a psychopath because of something she read on the internet. Of course, from a very reliable source.  Oh, and a few of her friends are psychopaths too. WTH??

Her worry over it tells me that there is zero possibility. That and my psychology degree. That, my psychology degree, and that she couldn’t hurt a flea. Trust me, I know THIS..

I only know one psychopath, my best friend Cindy’s ex-husband. He started another family while he was married to her. His oldest son was born a few months before their first son was born. He did crazy things like drive into a tree so he had an excuse not to visit his girlfriend after his wife gave birth.

Thankfully, I only had the pleasure of meeting her ex once!

Maybe she should start a blog.

Cindy is happy now. She married a wonderful man named Ted. They had teenagers in the house when she got pregnant in her 40’s. My nightmare is her dream come true.

I have to remember that this will pass..

Maybe someday I will even laugh about it.

Yes, I’m certain that I will….when my kids call me someday with teenager issues…while I am out traveling the world..

 

I’ll probably worry about this

It was Friday night. I was hitting up a local bar that I never have been to but was close to home. I was surrounded by people, alone. There was a man outside. He was very large and scary looking. He also brandished a semi automatic weapon of some sort. He was telling people what to do. I was afraid, but I left my cell phone in the car.

Then it seemed like I went back in time to the 1980’s. The place seemed old and rather run down. No one had a cell phone, but the owner of the place had an old rotary phone that I called 911 on to try to get help. 911 said that it wasn’t in their jurisdiction. Sorry we can’t help you. I called my husband. He came inside the building with me along with faceless nameless other people I didn’t know who seemed oblivious to the threat. When he got there, I hid in the back room with a machete. I felt like a coward for hiding and leaving him out there to defend me.

They found me in the back room anyway. I had a knife fight with another person to defend myself. It was awkward because I was left handed. I got stabbed in the stomach. I was dying but felt no pain and wondered why.

I woke up at 3:43 AM.

On Friday night, we actually went to the nursing home to visit Martha. At the end of the visit, we watched the birds in the cages.

Last night I dreamed that I was going to be dropped off somewhere in the middle of nowhere to run at night. It was going to be dangerous. It might storm. I might have to seek shelter. I was excited until I got attacked by the nursing home birds. I woke up screaming NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Two nights with nightmares, two days without exercise. Maybe I really do need to run to outrun my demons.

Yesterday I thought a lot about worrying. It has been a life long struggle for me. I decided to keep a list of every worry that came across my mind. I gave up after already having at least a dozen before I left for work.

I realize that worry is not going to add an extra day to my life. Worrying and overthinking every possible scenario does not equate to having control. It takes away my joy and I really want to sever its hold on me.

Sometimes I also have anxiety, which is a lot different from worry. Sometimes I even panic about the things I tell you. Opening up. Being honest. But if I really (over)think about it, who cares? Probably not the 3 people that actually take the time to read my posts.

I hate it when people tell me I need to worry less. Don’t worry. Be happy. Don’t you think I’ve already worried about how I can worry less?

Or they tell me that I really don’t trust God because if I did I wouldn’t worry. That just plain hurts my feelings. Let go and let God. If it were only that easy. Obviously those people don’t have the same struggle. If they did they would realize that it is not a kind, compassionate, or caring thing to say. It actually gives me more to worry about.

Sometimes I want to slam people with ‘you really don’t trust God enough’ for every weakness or struggle they have.

Wow, guess who is feeling a little edgy today??

I am going to end this here and sit around for the next couple of hours worrying about what I just wrote.