The hidden

Do we ever think about the hidden secrets beyond our knowledge after all the horrible things we already found out? This question has been haunting me since Lexi asked me this yesterday. What don’t I know about my family?

My son’s girlfriend has been opening up to me about her life. Alex and Lexi have been together almost a year and a half now. Sometimes she will come over just to talk. It’s strange because I see many parallels between her life and mine. I won’t share with you the details because it’s not my story to tell. But I can say she experienced a tremendous amount of suffering in childhood.

Sometimes I see myself in her. It was hard finding friends who could relate. I remember being the girl not fitting in with others entering adulthood with fresh memories of a carefree childhood. I never had those stories to tell. I felt like I just exited a war zone when I entered adulthood. Childhood was a time of worry, fear, and stress that left me careworn with a lifetime of fighting anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I could never get that time back and change it into something I wanted. It’s hard to explain that weight to someone who didn’t carry it.

I understood when Lexi said she didn’t want to totally cut her family out of her life. She said there are so many layers to it. How can you walk away when you are conditioned to be a lifeguard trying to save the family from drowning while they are always pulling you under? I told her it is okay to limit her contact with them although that is something I still struggle with doing myself.

Sometimes Lexi will talk to me about her relationship with my son. She talks more in a relational way instead of a complaining way. But sometimes I’m not sure what to say or do. My son still has not met her family. He has no intentions of meeting them because they are not good people. But how is that going to work if they get married or have children? They both do not want him to meet her family. I don’t understand. I usually wanted significant others to meet my family early because that could be the make it or break it point. How else do you really get to know somebody?

I’m not really sure what to do. Maybe I should just keep listening as someone who kind of understands instead of trying to fix things. Maybe this is what having a daughter-in-law is like. My son rarely sits down and has little talks with me. I’m glad she is opening up to me and we get along well. What more could I ask for?

Although she really did make me think when she asked me what I thought remains hidden that we just don’t know after all the horrible things were revealed. For the longest time I didn’t know the truth but it was still there. There is probably still a lot I don’t know. I never really thought about it before and that’s a scary thing to overthink about. Dealing with what I know is already hard enough.

This uncertainty, part 1

Lately I’ve been struggling a lot with indecision and uncertainty. Where do I even begin?

I’m not certain how I feel about my mom right now ever since she sent a picture to my daughter of her ex-boyfriend on her wedding day. Last week I talked to my therapist about it. She asked me how I don’t hate my mom. I don’t really…hate my mom. I just need space.

I just don’t understand how she could do something like that. Was it intentional? She had to dig back pretty far into her photos to find that one. Was she jealous my daughter asked me to be a bridesmaid? She is always making comments…must be nice…but it doesn’t sound nice. She was the one blemish on an otherwise perfect wedding day. My therapist said it doesn’t matter whether it was intentional or not. The issue is that my mom is always being the drama queen.

If it’s not one thing it’s another to try to get my attention. My mom has been to urgent care twice in the last week or so. Neither time for anything serious. The last time it was for a fever of 100. She has been calling and texting about how sick she is.

I’ve only seen her twice since the wedding a month ago. It’s been nice. I think twice a month is enough for me. But I know if I push back she is going to smother me. I just don’t know if it’s worth the fight.

I have to start planning Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s another thing, my mom never once hosted those holidays. I started taking it on after my grandma no longer could when I was in my 20’s. Seems kind of young looking back now. I think I feel a lot of resentment towards my mom for that. Sometimes my brother Luke would take it on and he’s younger than me.

This year everyone is invited to the big extended family Christmas party regardless of vaccination status. Last year we were not invited because my household is of a mixed status. Now we are invited but I don’t really want to go. I probably will anyway because the aunts and uncles that are currently not in the family feud went out of their way to be great towards my daughter on her wedding day. Better than my mom was. Actions speak louder than my mom’s words. She sometimes exaggerates things to stir up drama and I can’t overlook that.

I’m not really sure what to do about my mom and my relationship with her. So far I’ve opted to do nothing and be noncommittal which is the opposite of how I try to live my life. I don’t know seems to be my answer for a lot of things these days and I don’t really like it. I’m the type of person who always has to have a plan.

My mother is a narcissist

Looking back it seems so obvious. Right now I’m feeling glad my mom sent my daughter a picture of her ex-boyfriend on her wedding day. I am angry, upset, confused, and sickened by it too. But what I am glad about is that this has been a wake up call for me. Anything else I could accept or take, but not this.

My whole life my mom has been manipulative and controlling. She had a way of making me feel guilty for not wanting to be the person she wanted me to be. She didn’t like my friends, my hobbies, the music I liked or the clothes I picked out to wear. She didn’t even like my husband when she met him and tried to set me up with my ex-boyfriend. Nothing was wrong with my choices, she just didn’t like them and made me feel bad for wanting something different.

She wanted to be the favorite grandma to my kids and often bought them expensive gifts the other grandma couldn’t afford. She used her money to control. She used guilt. She always tried to push back on boundaries. Her favorite cards to play are victim, martyr, and heroine.

I was thinking a lot the last couple days and I have a lot more thinking to do. The main reason why I was angry at my siblings in the past and more recently with my Aunt Jan was because of things my mom said they said about me or my family. There is a hint of truth in what she says, but she exaggerates it causing drama. I can’t believe anything she says.

My mom always wants to be the center of attention. She was angry she didn’t get to sit facing the head table. She was probably upset my dad couldn’t be there. She was probably upset my brother Matt couldn’t go to the ceremony. But what I think really upset her was the fact that I stood up in my daughter’s wedding. Lately she has been making passive aggressive comments towards me in jealousy. She is never happy for me. It must be nice that you get to do things I never got to do…

I am trying to turn something negative into a positive. Don’t get me wrong, I am still pretty upset by what she did. In some ways it has been freeing.

Here are the ways I am going to deal with it in the future:

  1. I am going to talk to safe people as a sounding board. I am going to talk to my therapist about how to deal with this.
  2. I am going to be writing about it and processing it.
  3. I am letting go of my anger towards my aunt and other people my mom told me said bad things about me. Part of this is on me. I took my mom’s word to be true. Instead I should have called my aunt and worked any potential conflict and hurt feelings out with her directly.
  4. I am going to communicate better with my brothers instead of having my mom relay messages. Last night I talked to my brother Luke for an hour and cleared some things up.
  5. My mom is a toxic person and I want to limit my contact with her to twice a month. This is going to be really hard because she walks all over my boundaries.
  6. I want to be more genuine to myself around her.

These are all thoughts off the top of my head. I’m sure I will be thinking about it a lot more over the next several weeks. This has been a very eye opening experience for me and I’m just starting to process another layer of garbage in my life.

Wedding wild cards

I was feeling a lot of anxiety before the wedding because of the wedding wild cards, the several difficult people who would be there.

A few days before the wedding I expressed to my mom how I wished I had a dad who could be at the wedding celebrating with us. My mom took it to mean I wanted my dad at the wedding and went on to say Angel needs to forgive my dad in order for God to give her forgiveness. I decided to let that conversation go. Even if everyone forgave my dad, it still wouldn’t give us the kind of relationship we wanted with him.

My mom invited herself to the rehearsal dinner which wasn’t a big deal. But while there she got upset about the seating arrangement. She was upset she wasn’t facing the head table and told Angel how disappointed she was in her. My mom didn’t seem to understand it wasn’t about her.

Later that evening, my mom said Matt wanted to attend the wedding ceremony. My mom expects everyone to cater to Matt. Angel told my mom Matt was welcome to come to the reception but she didn’t want him at the ceremony. Matt acts socially inappropriately. He often grunts, farts, burps, makes gagging noises, and stands up to kick his legs. If he has to go to the bathroom he wouldn’t have any qualms about pushing his way up the aisle oblivious to who was coming down. No one wants to worry about that on their wedding day.

I understand my mom wanted my dad and Matt to go to the wedding but because of their behaviors they were not able to. In a perfect world, I wanted them there too. I could only wish.

I really wasn’t expecting what happened next. While Dan and Angel were having wedding photos of just the two of them at the park, the rest of the wedding party waited at the limo. My mom sent a picture to my kids and I of one of Matt’s birthday parties Angel’s ex-boyfriend attended. MY MOM SENT A PICTURE OF MY DAUGHTER WITH HER EX-BOYFRIEND TO HER ON HER WEDDING DAY!!! I was pissed. Do you understand why I was worried about the wild cards now??

Angel left her phone in the limo. I tried really hard to crack her code to get into her phone and failed. I was worried she might get locked out of her phone. One of her bridesmaids decided to take the phone to Angel to get the code under the guise of us wanting to use it to take pictures then deleted the photo. None the wiser. It was really stressful and I was embarrassed in front of the wedding party about how dysfunctional my family is. I texted my mom and asked her what she was thinking. She texted back, guess I wasn’t thinking.

Everything was going great up until that point, then my mood just crashed. Inside of me my blood was boiling. On the outside I was trying to pretend everything was fine. Of course my daughter Angel can read me like a book. She asked me what was wrong, I replied nothing. She was getting really anxious so I ended up telling her. Your grandma sent a picture to you of you and your ex-boyfriend on your wedding day.

It was the last thing I was expecting. I was thinking maybe Alex would be late for something, but Alex and Lexi were on time and very involved the whole weekend. Everything went great with Arabella too. She could tell I was stressed so Will and her came back to clean up between the ceremony and wedding. Will accidentally put dish soap in the dishwasher which created a big bubbly mess. The dishwasher was running when we got home, when I went to bed, and the next morning when I got up. It wouldn’t shut off with the bubbles so high. But how could I be upset with good intentions?

But why did my mom send us a picture of Angel and her ex on her wedding day?? What was that? I had an amazing time at the wedding but I was pissed. Then my mom went up to randomly give a speech after the best man and maid of honor saying how she gained a grandson.

I decided I was going to confront my mom. She hurt my daughter and son-in-law on their special day. I was just so angry. I want a peaceful life, but sometimes you have to confront people especially apparently in my family. I was ready to chew my mom out, but she came over apologetic and crying hysterically. Will I forgive her? She will never be able to forgive herself until the day she dies. I found myself comforting her instead of confronting her. I had to be the mature one. I just fell back into the same old pattern. Then my mom went over to apologize to my daughter and her husband.

I asked her why she did it and she said she didn’t know. I am so confused. Then she called me later in the evening and said that I was the only one who was really upset about it as if something was wrong with me. She had my dad on speaker phone and he was asking me how Alex was doing. I just need a break from my parents. I feel so upset and sorrowful over the hurtful things my parents do. I don’t want to let it bother me but it seems like it always does.

I am still feeling angry and sorrowful over this and have been crabby and moping around. My husband said my expectations are too high by thinking my parents are going to be functional people. I guess he is right about that.

8 days

Another dream, this time where the past meets the present. My best friend, not even invited. Not by my side as the matron of honor. Never to see or talk to again. I had a dream she was not invited to my daughter’s wedding. How could she be when she was not invited to mine?

I felt the pain of those left behind. Before it was Shelly. She was supposed to be my matron of honor. I was the maid of honor in her wedding. But along the way life happened and screwed it all up. You see, Shelly needed a job and my brother Matt needed a teacher’s aide in his special ed classroom. Maybe that’s where things went wrong. Matt was physically violent and at the time he was a full sized adult.

Matt didn’t like school much and had the tendency to hurt someone when he didn’t want to do school work which was quite often. One day after attacking Shelly at school, the police were called. The police came to school, handcuffed my brother, put him in the back of the squad car, and took him to jail. It was something my mom always warned us about. Watch Matt carefully he is an adult now and if he hurts someone he could get locked away forever. I haven’t been able to get over my fear of the police. Every time I hear a siren my heart races.

My mom was sick with fear for Matt. He was facing assault charges which were eventually dropped because he was incompetent to stand trial. I never spoke to my childhood best friend again. My mom flippantly said, “Oh well, you were going separate ways anyways.” I was going to college and she was working with my brother. But I wanted the choice.

My plan was to go to school to become a counselor. Then I was going to fix my family. That was when I was young and dumb enough to think I could. I already felt the weight and responsibility. If I only knew Matt was going to hurt someone before he did. I could have stopped it. It’s my fault he attacked someone because I was not vigilant enough. If I believed it was my fault, I also believed I could fix it.

I felt guilty on my wedding day because I didn’t want Matt there. I didn’t want Matt to hurt someone. When I got married, Matt was going through some serious health issues and my parents thought Matt could die which intensified my guilt. They got a room for him in the hotel we had our reception at. After the ceremony, which he didn’t attend, we had the photographer come to the room to take wedding photos with Matt. We were gone so long some of the guests chided us about what took us so long as we were coming down from the hotel room.

Now it’s my dad who is not invited to the wedding. I can’t say I blame my daughter for not wanting him there, but it’s still painful. What if people ask where he is? He was pretty sick a month ago and in my mind I thought maybe he would die and free me from the shame he brought upon us. It’s a horrible thing to wish for. As if I will ever be free from the pain he caused me. My counselor said if asked I could tell people he is not well enough to go. If further asked, I could tell them I will talk to them about it later. I am good with the plan. It’s the last thing I want to talk about. It’s my mom I worry about. She has a tendency to overshare and play the victim making it all about her when the focus should be on someone else.

Call me a slow learner, but I just figured out this year I can’t fix people. In fact, I don’t have any control at all. I thought I could fix my family of origin but they are way too beyond broken to be put back together. I can’t even fix myself. I tried to fix my husband when he was drinking too much. I felt like it was my fault. I was responsible for him. It was my job to fix him. How easily it was to jump back into my old role. At times I even thought he was drinking just to hurt me. He has been seeing a counselor too which has been helpful, but I think it will be something he will always struggle with. At times I can’t blame him. If drinking took away my pain, there wouldn’t be enough I couldn’t drink.

He thought he could fix me too. He thought he could be my knight in shining armor. He thought he could bring me out of the dark spaces I hide within myself. He tried to make me happy so he could fix my depression. Why didn’t my fear and anxiety go away? Didn’t I love him? Didn’t I trust him? Wasn’t he something to live for? Couldn’t I just stop feeling that way? Couldn’t he just stop drinking??

We couldn’t fix our parents, both of us having parents with addiction/mental health issues. We couldn’t fix each other. We can’t fix our kids who all show signs of addictiveness and/or familial mental health struggles to some degree. That was a hard lesson to learn. There is nothing like having to watch someone you love hurting. I wanted to do anything I could to take the pain away from them. It’s harder as a parent, especially being the mom, because there is a huge sense of responsibility to fix your children. How often is the finger pointed at the parents when the kids struggle? (I can tell you with a daughter who has Borderline, it’s a lot even from professionals that should know better). It’s even easier to blame myself.

I guess if there is any silver lining in this, we have been waging war against these demons for a long enough time to know how to fight them in the best way possible. It wasn’t the first time someone I was close to wasn’t invited or wasn’t well enough to go to a wedding. My best friend wasn’t invited to my wedding and I never saw her again. My own grandpa didn’t go to my wedding because he wasn’t well enough. I can only control what I can control. It’s not easy, but there is some peace in knowing when to let go.

Up north upset

Why does there always have to be drama with my family??

It started already before we even got up north. I invited my kids and their significant others up north for the fourth. They all said yes. It’s been a family tradition for decades and this was the first time in a long time that all the kids could go. Paul had to work all day Friday. Originally we weren’t going to go up Friday at all, but two out of three of our kids wanted to go up then.

We weren’t going to be getting up north until late. This presented a problem with supper. I was going to be bringing up all of our food and we weren’t going to be up their until at least 8 PM. Dan and Angel and Alex and Lexi were going to be riding up together on motorcycles. They wanted to leave earlier to make sure they were up there before it got dark and had limited room to bring along food. I asked my mom if she had something they could eat when they got there. But she told me they should stop at a bar. Then she said she bought 4 bags of cheese curds for my brother Mark. I was puzzled by our conversation and thought my mom was acting strange. I was also annoyed and wished I had a parent who liked to provide food for her family.

I decided just to make supper for everyone at home last minute. By the time we got up north it was after 8 and my mom was ready to go to bed shortly thereafter. Everyone up there (my mom, my brother Mark, his wife Carla, and brother Matt) was ready for bed at 9. So we moved outside to start a fire and watch the fireworks about ready to start. Mark did not talk to me. My SIL Carla yelled at me to move the motorcycle helmets off the table. That was about it. I felt like they were avoiding us.

During the fire, I found out Mark and Carla were rude to Lexi before Paul and I got up there. My mom asked Mark and Carla if they met Lexi. After being prompted several times, Mark grouchily said yes and walked away. My kids said they did not feel welcomed and that hurt me deeply.

It all started a couple years ago when my mom sent their laptop for Dan to fix and remove pictures from. Dan and Angel found child porn on the computer and took it to the police. That night up north Dan told me he did not feel welcomed by my family. He said it was all his fault too. I gave Dan a hug and told him I was happy he was there and he is not to blame for what my dad did. But Mark and Carla apparently do not feel that way. They treat my dad like the victim and Angel and Dan like they are to blame.

I awoke very early the next morning thinking about telling Carla off. I wanted to tell her about how my dad was abusive towards us when we were kids. I wanted to tell her I couldn’t count on one hand any good memories I had with my dad. I wanted to tell her that he was never nice to my kids, quite the opposite in fact. I wanted to tell her all these things, but didn’t. Maybe things would be different if he was a loving father and grandfather who struggled with addiction.

Instead that morning, Mark, Carla, and my mom went to rummage sales. Carla whipped the car keys at my brother Mark, then yelled at him when he didn’t catch them. I can’t stand how mean she is to my brother, but I’m not sure there is anything I can do about it. Thankfully I see them only a couple times per year.

Also, that morning, my son got ice out of the freezer for his water. Apparently it was Carla’s ice. She yelled at my son saying it wasn’t community ice. My son apologized and said he would buy her some more ice. I wasn’t quite so patient. I yelled as they were going out the door that it was just fucking ice. Later that day they left to go spend time with my dad. The whole experience left me angry, anxious, and depressed for almost a whole week afterwards. I can’t stand when my kids are mistreated for something they didn’t even do wrong. My daughter is getting married in less than 3 months and I don’t even want to invite half of the family I am inviting to the wedding.

Other than that, my kids and their significant others all got along marvelously. It was close to miraculous. I wish I could just focus on that and let the bad slip away. I really have to examine how much time I want to spend with my extended family if they are going to upset me so much.

Broken peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude week 129

  1. Paul and I bought and planted everything for our landscaping project.
  2. I put on clean sheets and finally took the electric blanket off our bed.
  3. Summer! We are expecting the next couple of days to be in the mid to upper 90’s with high humidity. I might have to break down and put on our A/C. It’s rarely ever forecasted to be this hot here. I could probably count on one hand in my lifetime of days where it’s been over 100.
  4. We had some powerful storms come through our area and were without electricity for almost a day and a half. I’m grateful our power is back on.
  5. I’m grateful we didn’t sustain any damage from the storm. A couple streets over had a lot of damage, a huge tree knocked down a powerline. My parents have many trees down.
  6. I’m grateful the boats in the marina are safe. A tornado went through and decimated a farm about a mile away from the marina. We saw the siding from the barn hanging in the tree across the street from it. It’s strange to see so much damage in some areas and none at all in others.
  7. I’m grateful for running water; the ability to take a shower, flush a toilet, wash clothes and dishes.
  8. I’m grateful my best friend had power so we could run over all the meat we just bought. I’m grateful for the opportunity to clean out the freezer. Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.
  9. I’m grateful for the deafening silence without power. It gave me time to think without distractions. My cell phone died and for awhile I went off the grid like I did when I was a kid.
  10. My son turned 22 this week, one step closer to full brain development. Ha ha. He woke up to no power, a dead cell phone, not able to take a shower, and we couldn’t go sailing as planned because there was a gale warning. But, all in all, I think he had an okay day anyway.
  11. I spent some time talking alone with my son’s girlfriend. Her family life was not a lot different from mine. I think I was able to help her out as someone who understands and has been there.
  12. Paul and I volunteered at a Christian center that helps families in need. They give out free diapers, kids clothing, and support families. We think this is a great way to help people. I’m grateful for the opportunity to volunteer there.
  13. I’ve been dog sitting for my best friend all weekend. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help out and that it has taken away my desire to get a dog anytime soon. She will not leave my side and barks or whines when I leave her. She scratches on the door if I go in another room.
  14. Friday night Paul and I went to dinner and a local community theater show with our old friends Harv and Kate. They are in their upper 80’s. It’s always nice to hang out with them.
  15. Today is Father’s Day. I’m grateful that my husband and brother are wonderful fathers without having good role models. Today is a hard day for people who have difficult relationships with their dads, including me. I was unable to find my dad a card this year. They all had words such as there for me when I needed you, great example, wonderful person…you get the drill. So I suppose a phone call will suffice.
  16. I’m grateful all our kids stopped by today for Father’s Day. Our daughters (and their significant others) surprised dad by going to church with us. This is the first time our kids visited our new church.
  17. Wow, I have a long list this week. It’s amazing how grateful I am when I had to go without. There are so many things I take for granted…like running water. This has been a reminder to me of what I have.

Life lately

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dreary days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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