purpose

What is the purpose of struggling?

I’ve felt sick like this many times before. There were times in my childhood where I was in so much pain that I didn’t eat much for several days. I was deemed a picky eater. My parents yelled at me, at times forced me to eat until I threw up, and threatened to take me to the doctor. I really wish they did. Maybe I wouldn’t be in the predicament that I’m in now.

Maybe if I was an only child things would be different. My brother had special needs so mine were ignored. It was selfish of me to take care of myself. I mean, look at my brother.

I can’t blame my parents for everything. I once told a doctor about the things I was experiencing and she told me it was all in my head. Maybe it was all in my head. Maybe it still is. I have that fear. Maybe I will go in for the colonoscopy and they will find nothing wrong with me. But if it is in my head, you better lock me up because I can’t live this way much longer.

At its greatest intensity, the stomach cramps feel like I am in labor. That being said, I didn’t really get a lot of sleep last night. I was in too much pain.

What does this mean for my life going forward? I’m thinking about giving up running. I am not well. My running really took a downhill (or uphill) turn last year. But I did finish a 50k. I achieved everything I wanted to. Oh my gosh, will my life come down to walking and yoga? Shoot me now!

I have to think this physical struggle with my health has some purpose. I have to think my childhood trauma had some purpose too. Why is purpose so meaningful to me? Without it, what is the point?

My husband has been very supportive. I want to thank him for giving me the best years of my life. I know we annoy each other and fight sometimes, but I can always count on him. I guess that is as close as I can get to trusting someone in this life.

I have been struggling because I want to write about what happened last summer with my husband. But I don’t want to hurt him because he is a good person. He did give me the green light, but I would choose him over being transparent with you any day if I felt it’s what I needed to do.

The whole purpose of having a personal blog is sharing my story. The ups and downs and the bumps along the way. Maybe I can help someone else in this journey. Or maybe it just makes me feel better.

My story is the only thing that cannot be taken away from me. Unless I end up with dementia, of course, which I am convinced will be my demise. But until then I am going to keep writing.

 

 

 

inflamed

I’m sick again. This time it is worse and it hasn’t gone away.

It started Wednesday morning. I woke up having to run to the bathroom. I felt nauseous too but didn’t throw up. I was tired and had to lie down to rest in the morning. By the afternoon, I had a horrible stomachache and muscle cramps. Sorry Jillian Michaels but I was cursing your name. The day before I did a new workout video, or should I say tried to. It was so difficult I could barely do it. My whole body ached. I would’ve run outside but we are back to winter in Wisconsin, so yeah.

I also blamed it on the night before. I ate chili and a fake grilled cheese sandwich for supper. I tried to keep my portions small because I am allergic to tomatoes, eggs, and baker’s yeast (bread). Plus a lot of chili beans are a no-no for my SIBO diet. My diet is so limited it is hard to eat with my family. Or maybe it was food poisoning or stomach flu, although I was the only one sick.

By the afternoon, I rated my stomach and body ache pain at a 7. I decided to take my temperature and discovered I had a fever. Everyone was freaking out because of the coronavirus and told me I needed to call the doctor. I decided to wait until the next morning because it was after office hours and maybe I would feel better the next day. Even during the night I was up every hour or two to run to the bathroom. I’m not going to lie, this has been miserable.

I called the doctor’s office and after being screened by the nurse scheduled an appointment with another doctor for later that morning. I struggled to take a shower and get dressed. I wanted to let you know how I felt at my worst but I couldn’t even sit up to do my puzzle because I was in so much pain. I couldn’t think either.

Paul has been wonderful and took me to my appointment but I would not allow him to go in with me. He is over 50 with high blood pressure and I did not want him to risk his health for mine. Outside of the clinic there was a tent set up for COVID testing. There was someone standing outside the door to the clinic in full protective gear with a clipboard who allowed me in when I told her my name. It was like I was famous getting VIP access to a club.

I entered an empty clinic, checked in, and was called back right away. Everyone at the clinic wore scrubs and a mask with a full face visor over it. It was hard at times to understand what they were saying. There were signs on the door that said dirty room or clean room. The room I went in had nothing on the door. I heard people coughing. On the way out I saw several sick and scared looking people.

I had a whole array of tests done. I was even tested for COVID although the doctor did not think I had it. They took a large cotton swab which they swirled back inside of each nostril. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I just got my blood drawn and was more anxious about that.

It’s day three now and I’m still sick. I do feel better than I did on day 1 or day 2. Thankfully my COVID test came back negative. But several tests came back showing inflammation. The doctor now thinks I might have colitis or Crohn’s. I have all of the symptoms. So Tuesday I go in for my first colonoscopy.

I know it sounds crazy, but I probably wouldn’t have called the doctor if it wasn’t for the coronavirus. I was worried about getting other people sick. I probably would have dismissed it as the stomach flu or food poisoning like I’ve done before although no one else in my house ever gets sick. I struggled with lifelong stomach/GI issues that I brushed off as normal for me.

It seems worse this time. Maybe the SIBO and parasitic inflammation that the antibiotics killed was masking other problems. I don’t know. But hopefully next week I will get some answers. It’s hard not feeling well and not knowing what is wrong.

 

 

Sick as a dog

Right before everything shut down I foresaw the last window of opportunity to get things done. Paul and I had one last lunch date at the Chinese restaurant before it closed its doors maybe for good. I returned some Amazon items at the mall. I knew that once the school closed the mall would shortly follow. I got fingerprinted for my census job as soon as I could then found out later that I did it on the last day they kept fingerprinting open. It took 3 weeks later to get my background check back. Because of this I would be surprised if I start my census job much before summer ends.

One of the first things I did after everything was shut down was to buy some heartworm pills for my dog. Would it be bad to say that I took a risk for my dog? I have geriatric pets. My dog is almost 13 and my cat somewhere around 14. I try not to keep a large supply of expensive pet products because, well…

So I wandered out that day to buy heartworm pills. I saw a dog with heartworm once. It looked pretty miserable and I didn’t want the same fate for my dog. I even saw a dog with rabies once but that was so long ago.

The dog with rabies was sitting by the burning barrel. Did you have a burning barrel as a kid living out in the country? This really brings back childhood memories. We would take our garbage out to the burning barrel. This was years before recycling was even a thing. This was in the days I had trouble lighting a match. I was always afraid to light the fire.

When the burning barrel was lit we would put a grate over it so fiery pieces wouldn’t fly out and create other fires. As kids, this allowed us ample opportunity to play with fire. My mom gave us her old pots and pans. I created rock soup with dirt. It didn’t taste as good as I was expecting. Neither did grass. Sometimes we would take rotten vegetables from the garden like zucchini and cook them on the fire in a frying pan. I guess I was a child once but I don’t think children would be given the task of starting a burning barrel fire today.

That is where we found the dog with rabies. My mom drove in the driveway with all of us kids in the car. We saw the dog crouched next to the burning barrel snarling and foaming at the mouth. We were scared. I remember the fear. It was hot sitting in the car waiting for my mom to decide what to do. Something was wrong with the dog. It wasn’t our dog. We never saw it before. My mom thought we could make a run for the house to call for help.

By the time the man arrived with a gun, the dog moved a little further from the house. Mom told us to stay inside and I was big enough to peek out the bathroom window. I saw what happened to that dog.

I have seen a dog with fleas, heartworm, and even rabies in my lifetime. Yet I don’t know anyone who tested positive for coronavirus. It’s interesting to see how our experiences shape us. I had to make sure that didn’t happen to my dog, but at the same time I wasn’t too worried that something would happen to me.

What could’ve been

Last month someone close to me attempted suicide.

Maybe you noticed I didn’t write much during that time, maybe not. It’s been easier to write about crusty old scabbed over wounds than the ones currently tearing open my flesh. But now I’m ready to jump back into the flames of the fire that consumes me and threatens the very walls of my foundation.

Part of it I blame myself. I was where I spent most of my life, in survival mode. I was consumed by everything going on with my dad. It’s very bad and it sucked every ounce of energy, joy and peace out of my life. I thought about it every day and every night much like we are thinking about the corona virus. There is not a day that goes by we can completely purge this crisis from our minds.

I didn’t notice anything was wrong. If I did, I dismissed it as superficial (not as bad as what I was going through with my dad). When you are drowning, you tend not to notice if someone else is going too deep.

This person took a handful of pills and settled into bed for their last peaceful slumber. But it wasn’t like that, peaceful. Their life passed before their eyes taking a nightmarish turn. What have I done? Terror coursed through their veins as they struggled to purge the pills. Then they reached out for help.

When I found out, I screamed wildly with rage. I kicked the garbage can and assaulted the contents within. I wanted to put my fist through the wall, but restrained myself. For a few days after, my logic brain shut down. I forgot what day it was. I couldn’t process things in my mind that before I did with ease. My strong suit of structure shut down. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t write. Fear coursed through me day and night making it nearly impossible to sleep.

I felt angry with my dad. After what he did, I didn’t think I would ever smile again. Did this person think I was angry with them because of my reaction to my dad? I pushed everyone away. I’m so sorry I didn’t realize they needed help until it was almost too late.

I’m not going to lie, this past year has been tremendously difficult. What little joy remained within me was destroyed after the suicide attempt.

I feel like the mistakes of others are ruining my life. My childhood was ruined and is not salvageable. I tried really hard not to let the things other people do ruin my life, but it is easier said than done. If I am going to wallow in despair my whole life from the mistakes of other people, I might as well just screw up my life myself.

I can’t bear the weight of this anymore. Have it back. I don’t want it. Call me selfish, but I just want to worry about myself.

Thankfully this person realized they made a mistake to try to end their life. They are now getting the help they need. But still my mind wanders to what might have been. What would life be like if this person was not around? It would be horrible to find them dead.  Gone forever. There is much sorrow in thinking of what might’ve been. Thankfully this is not how their story ends. If nothing else, I can take comfort in that.

Breathwork

Last week I started deep breathing therapy.

I have been a lifelong member of the insomnia and nightmare club. What I didn’t tell you, when I am really stressed out I also grind my teeth at night. Some mornings I awake with the insides of my cheeks all bit up and sometimes also have canker sores in my mouth. I hold my mouth tight and am somewhat surprised I haven’t yet developed TMJ.

My therapist was rather shocked with my insomnia that I don’t awake when I chew myself up. I guess I never thought about that before. How do I sleep through causing myself pain?

So we decided to try something new. With this therapy, I laid down on a massage type table without my shoes on. I also had on an eye mask and kept my eyes closed. I covered with a blanket. I was told to breathe deep in a circular pattern with my diaphragm. Every breath in caused my stomach to rise.

My therapist asked me to imagine my grandma standing at my feet holding a multi-colored ball. I needed to visualize the color moving up to the top of my head from my feet.

My therapist asked me what I was doing and how old I am. I told her that I am 3 or 4. I am looking at the books in the basket up north. I am coloring. I am coloring the book that has the pictures of the ladies with the long cigarettes from the Virginia Slims ad. The book is tall and narrow with glamorous women smoking cigarettes. I am getting crayons from the chocolate tin they are stored in. I am playing with dolls. I am filling up a bright turquoise container with lake water.

Do I feel tension in any part of my body? Yes, my shoulders. What do you want to do? I want to push it out, I want to fight. The therapist puts a pillow over my hands and I push as hard as I can against her. I am afraid to hurt her because I am very strong.

Where do you feel the tension now? I feel it everywhere. I feel trapped like I am being buried alive. Every year the weight is getting heavier and it pushes me down. The little girl trapped in the coffin is sinking deeper and deeper with each passing year. She can’t get out and feels sad.

What does the little girl want? She wants to color. She has been trapped in the dark for so long. She tells herself she likes it there. But she tells herself that because the darkness is all she can see and all she thinks she will ever see as she sinks further away from herself. She wants to see all the colors again.

That night she goes home and colors. Coloring is fun. She colors the house pink. The things she finds scary, she colors black so she can’t see it anymore. But everything else is in brilliant unusual shades, like the sky is green and the grass is blue. Pretending is fun.

For two nights afterward she is able to sleep deeply.

My logical mind tells me this is all hokey. But my inner child has been trapped in the dark for so long she just wanted to see if it was safe to come out and play.

Gratitude week 3

  1. Tonight we are having some friends over to watch the Packer game. I suggested that we just order pizzas although I couldn’t have any. I am grateful my husband made me a dairy free pizza late last night for today so I don’t feel left out. I think that is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. I didn’t ask him. He just went to the store, bought my favorite ingredients, made a yeast free crust from scratch, and shredded goat cheese. His kindness towards me makes me feel loved. Way to go!!
  2. I am grateful I have a really good therapist. The last couple sessions she worked with me right through her lunch break. We started up brainspotting again this past week and for awhile I felt at peace.
  3. I am grateful to learn about Complex PTSD. I am eager to keep healing and growing into the best me I can be.
  4. I am grateful my kids made it home safely after driving through winter weather.
  5. I am grateful to have 700+ awesome followers who are interested in hearing my story.
  6. I am grateful to be able to push through my fear and anxiety which has been running rampant this week.
  7. I am grateful for my kids that keep me too busy so I don’t isolate myself from the world.
  8. Yesterday I had a pajama day. I’m grateful I didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything. (C’mon, some introverted isolation is okay!).
  9. I’m grateful to have an industrious husband. Yesterday he plowed out the driveway and he is working hard to start a new business.
  10. I am grateful my friend Cara liked my book. The test readers want me to go deeper. I am ready to go deeper now. It’s time to rip away the security blanket to embrace brutal honesty. It’s time to face my demons. It’s okay to write about things that are uncomfortable if expressing my thoughts and feelings is good for me.

When fear calls

I called my daughter that Sunday morning right before church started.

She was worried about suicide…or murder/suicide. After everything that happened, I shared her concern. What could I do about it?

I had been scheduled to sing that morning with the worship team. I ended the call abruptly as I saw everyone head up to sing.

I worried. Maybe this is good-bye. Maybe I will never see my parents again. It’s a horrible feeling especially when I had to act happy and sing on a live recorded feed. I felt so fake.

Smile! I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out. I started shaking. Smile. This could be the last day he is alive, they are alive. My God, the horror. Twenty minutes later, I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. Everything in my body told me to run off the stage. Flee. I had to stay. Everyone was watching me, in church and even online.

Maybe they would think I was having stage fright. I wish that was all it was. I couldn’t tell anybody. I wanted to drive out to the house. But the day before the car broke down, the only one free that afternoon. Plus I was asked not to because my family didn’t feel like it was safe.

I wanted to ask for prayer that day. But my husband was not in church that morning. He got asked by a friend of mine to help her out with something in place of her husband who spent the night in jail. I told him that helping out someone in need was more important than attending church. He agreed.

Shallow, I suppose. If I left the stage for prayer, it would be obvious. Then people might wonder if I was having problems with my husband because he wasn’t there. It could be misconstrued and gossiped about. I didn’t want that.

I called my brother Luke when I got home. Although he was treated the worst by our dad, he was the first to try to pull dad out of the grave he dug. That day my mom took my brother Matt back to his group home and stayed with us for several days. I made sure the doors were locked and became hyper-vigilant to signs of trouble.

Sometimes I wish my only stress was worrying about the holidays. The simple worries of getting that perfect gift. I couldn’t even think. Or worrying about hosting parties with special diets. Or having 4 teenagers in my house. Anything but this.

We are all worried. You’ve been depressed, suicidal before. Now you have a reason to end it all. Is this the only way your heart will change? Will your curses to God change to cries for help? Maybe this is the only way. But it’s not what I wanted for you, for the rest of us.

It’s been a month since I initially wrote this. I feel anxious. Tomorrow I will be singing on the worship team for the first time since this happened. I don’t want to do it anymore because it is triggering my feelings of fear. I understand why people seek isolation in times of despair. So many seemingly innocent things trigger bad feelings and memories associated with them. I’ve been trying to see my world as it really is but at times it is utterly terrifying and I question everything I blindly believed before.

Compassion rages

After I heard the news, I felt both intense compassion and rage towards my father simultaneously. It’s really hard to explain because I can’t remember feeling such extreme polarity before. How can I still feel compassion towards someone who is so easy to justifiably hate?

He was a horrible father. He was the role model of what I didn’t want to be as a partner and parent. He hated us and called us stupid. I never felt like I was good enough. I never felt like I was enough of anything. Smart enough. Brave enough. Happy enough. It’s hard to feel like I was never enough, unlovable, despite my best efforts.

He tormented us. He laughed at our fears. Even worse, he taught us to laugh at our siblings shortcomings and fears. If we laughed, we wouldn’t be targeted next. We were pitted against each other for sport. How could there be unity? Most of the time it was safe to pretend not to care. I’m sorry I did not comfort you, brother, while you cried. I was just a coward trying to survive.

My dad is a depressed man. He lived a life of regrets. I see that now. He wasted his life in front of the TV screen, not playing ball with his kids. But I always felt calm if the TV was blaring when I came into the house. It was the silence I feared most. In the silence, I never knew if I would find him dead. Do you know how scary it is to feel that fear as a child?

He often flew into rages over nothing. He was abusive, but he is still my dad. When I was a child I hated him and wanted him to burn in hell for all of the things he did to hurt us.  But now I feel pity for the mess he has become.

I had to see him one day after it all happened. My mom hasn’t been well and needed me to give her a ride to the doctor for tests. After the appointment, I sat down with my dad. It was mostly small talk, the only real conversations I ever had with my dad.

I felt a lot of stress leading up to our visit. What would I say? Would the rage or compassion come out? I had to be wise with my words, but was coming up blank. Should I tell him what a fool he is? Should I tell him how some of his actions hurt me? Should I scream and yell at him like he did many times to me?

Instead I told him I loved him as tears poured down my cheeks. He told me he loved me too. I said I was sorry. He asked why. I said I was sorry that it had to be this way. This wasn’t what I would have chosen.

He looked sickly, like he lost a lot of weight. He is already in hell. That is what you get when you live a life you regret. What good would heaping a few more coals be for someone who is already burning in hell? I felt pity towards him. I never wanted to see him burn. I just wanted him to be a dad to me.

I don’t have any regrets over how I handled the situation. More than anything, I don’t want to live a life of regrets. I don’t want to be like him.

I don’t want to be his daughter, yet I am. My compassion rages.

 

What else could go wrong??

Seriously, what else could go wrong?? Have you ever muttered those words to yourself only to regret them a few minutes later?

It’s been one of those days.

After I got home from running 5 miles at the gym, I got ready to wash a load of towels. So far, so good. I grabbed a dirty towel off the rack in the bathroom and went to turn off the light. The light switch is next to a door frame made of rough wood. As I was turning off the light my finger went down the wood frame and I got a splinter under my nail. It was extremely painful.

I got out the tweezers and tried in vain to get the splinter out. After a half an hour I sent a text to my husband to come in from his office to help. He tried a couple times, but it was so painful I started crying.

I decided to call the doctor’s office, but they were fully booked until like August or something. This is a horrible story, but I was thinking about a friend of ours that had a sliver under his fingernail that got infected. A couple months ago he ended up having to get his finger removed from that infection.

I decided to go to fast care. I didn’t want to have any more problems over the holiday. When Paul and I got there, they said that they didn’t have the tools to help me. So we walked around the store while I thought about what to do next.

In the meantime, my aunt Jan texted me saying I needed to take care of my mom. The devastating news I got was about my family. I wish I could tell you everything, but I can’t right now. Anyway, I was kind of upset about the text. Why do I need to take care of my mom? I am also going through hell.

While we were in the store, my aunt Jan called Paul. She wanted to make sure I got her message and Paul told her how he felt. He said that I have been taking care of my mother since I was a little girl. Who is taking care of Alissa? Why ask me about my mother? Why focus on my autistic brother? No one ever cared enough to ask how I was doing. I was just expected to be strong to take care of everyone else.

Paul told Jan that I have my own family now. I have 4 teenagers in the house. Alissa just needs to take care of Alissa because she is having a really hard time now too. It felt good to have someone stick up for me. But it didn’t feel good to have a personal conversation in the store while I was stressed about my finger.

Next stop, urgent care. The lady at the front desk asked me if I wanted to pay for my care. I mean, not really. Who does? But I wasn’t in the mood to make wise cracks.

Thankfully I was able to get in right away. The doctor tried in vain for a half an hour to get the splinter out. It was very painful because he had to dig in my nail bed. I was bleeding.

He said I had a couple options. First, I could do nothing. It most likely wouldn’t come out on its own, but it might. He could give me antibiotics. If it got infected or continued to be painful, I could contact a hand surgeon to have it removed. Or he could give me anesthesia and keep trying to dig deeper under my nail. Even then he gave himself a 50% chance to be able to get it out.

I just wanted it out, so I opted for the anesthesia. The anesthesia numbed my finger, but it still hurt. It was just like going to the dentist. I could feel everything even though they gave me enough anesthesia to take out my tooth. The doctor gave me a second dose of anesthesia. I could still feel pain, but it was muted a little.

I felt like I was going to pass out. I was in pain off and on for a couple hours at that point. I felt sick although I didn’t eat hardly anything all day. After another 20 minutes of poking underneath my nail, he was able to get it out.

While I was there, I heard screaming in the background. Someone else was vomiting nonstop, and another guy went into cardiac arrest. Call 9-1-1. When I got back to the reception area, it looked like a crime scene. There were several squad cars and ambulances. People were huddled together crying.

I debated whether or not Paul and I should burn our clothes after our trip to urgent care. Who wants the plague for Christmas??

Then I came home and did a head lice check on one of my kids. Thankfully, I didn’t see anything. Oh, and I almost hit a deer picking up the girls from school.

Honestly, I’m not even sure if it is safe for you to be reading this.

 

 

I finished my book!!

Last night I finished my book, my life story. It stirred within me many mixed emotions. I felt like I was covered in a blanket of deep sorrow, yet at the same time I felt joy. It’s been a journey of remembering and releasing in words previously unexpressed.

Last night I sent my book to two test readers, a friend who is an author and a friend that is a child psychologist who works specifically with autistic children. I also sent a copy to my therapist. After I receive feedback, I will edit my book again. Then I want to send my book to my husband, my daughter Angel, my son Alex, and my brother Luke. After that, I am going to find a publisher. Then I will share it with you.

Perhaps this will start the healing process, perhaps not.

I figure if I can do some really difficult things (like running a 50k or writing a book revealing my trauma), then I probably can figure out a way to do something almost everyone can do. Relax. Heal. Let go.

I have been working with my therapist on brainspotting. I shared my first session with you and that was a very positive experience. After that session, things took a dark turn. I have been releasing all of the negative garbage I’ve been holding inside. It stinks! I’ve been working hard on trying to express my feelings. It has been painful, yet beneficial. Through this process, my lifelong struggle with insomnia and nightmares has gone away.

For a long time, I understood myself. I know what triggers my depression and anxiety. I understand the attacks of my trauma on my well being. But I’ve never known what to do about it. Visiting a therapist is taking the next step. Self-awareness is important, but it isn’t a catalyst for change.

I’m trying to give up control. It’s not like I had any in the first place. Just like being a clean freak never seems to make the dirt go away. Being a control freak doesn’t give peace and serenity to the voice that cries out for it. Worry is a waste of time. It doesn’t bring me peace.

I am trying to figure out who I really am. For most of my life I lived in survival mode. Now who am I? The person I needed to be to survive? Or who I really am? It’s hard to be myself if I don’t know who I really am. It’s a new time for self-discovery and growth. I want to fully experience my purpose in life.

I started meditating. Maybe I will try yoga. I always burned my anxiety off by hard workouts at the gym. This is how I process my anger. I am going to keep this, but add to it by including relaxation exercises.

I am going to read a Bible verse a day. This will incorporate inspiration for spiritual healing and growth. I want to trust God more. I also want to trust the people that care about me even if it means I might get hurt. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships. I want to cut off unhealthy relationships altogether, and if I can’t then I’ll set healthy boundaries.

I also started visiting a wellness clinic for physical healing of my body. My nervous system took a big hit from the long term stress. I suffered from stomach and GI issues my whole life. I’ve been working on avoiding the foods I am sensitive to and rebuilding my gut for optimal physical health.

If I can train my body for a 50k, I can train my body for growth and healing. My book is done, but I will never stop writing. The story hasn’t ended yet. The best is yet to come.