I am the problem?

Okay, I have something that I have to admit. I didn’t vote last week.

I apparently am the problem within my state and country right now.

But wait, before you unfollow…I have an excuse. Gum disease. You heard me right.

Monday I had my regularly scheduled dental check up. For the record, I think that dentists and everyone associated with the dental field are sadists. They seem to take great joy in my pain. And if the dental procedure doesn’t hurt, the bill sure will.

Back to Monday, the hygenist told me that I needed to come in as soon as possible for a deep cleaning. I scheduled an appointment for the following day over the lunch hour.

So when Tuesday rolled around, I went to the gym in the morning to work out. After that, I hurried off to work so I could leave early for the dentist.

After 20 minutes of painful drilling, I asked the hygenist what I did wrong. She said that gum disease is caused by poor hygiene. I pleaded that I floss several times a week and brush several times a day. I argued my innocence like a convicted felon who was incarcerated for a crime never commited. Paul said that everyone probably says they have good hygiene even if they don’t.

Really, is there a wrong way to floss??

Gum disease could also be cause by stress and hormones and I am sticking to it.

I got poked, prodded, and slapped with a $200 bill.

For a couple of hours after the appointment, I felt like crap. I don’t know if I’m getting an ulcer or if it was the aftermath of the extreme anxiety I feel towards dentists.

I went back to work with the idea that I would leave early to vote. That didn’t work out because we had an employee call in so I had to stay late.

I barely made it home in time to eat something before play practice. How could I go vote?

We just moved and I couldn’t find any mail sitting around associated with my name and new address. Plus the cars outside of where I would vote were lined up into the next county. How could I zip in and out before my next time committment??

So I didn’t vote. I am the problem with this country right now. Good intentions don’t count as a ballot. Might as well blame it on the dentist. Yeah, why not??

 

My psych eval (25 years later) part 8

At times Alissa had the appearance of as if she might cry at any moment. She said that she cannot remember many things and cannot remember portions of her childhood. She may pull back in therapy and treatment when things are going well, discontinuing experiences that might have proven gratifying. She may defeat her chances to experience events that can promote growth and change. It is cautioned that therapists should not set their goals too high or press changes too fast as Alissa cannot tolerate demands well.

Sometimes I wonder what you would see in me if you met me. I bear my heart and soul, but you can never look into my eyes. What would you see if passing by?

I find it very troubling that as a teen I said I could not remember portions of my childhood. What still lurks beneath the surface? I find the thought terrifying.

You know what the funny thing is? I am a blatantly honest person, yet I am the biggest liar. I’ve been lying to myself for years. I have been working lately on being honest with myself even if the truth hurts. When traumatic events happened, I told myself that those things didn’t happen.

I locked my feelings behind a door in my mind. Many years later, the door unexpectedly opened and I experienced the feelings many times worse than it may have been. I just couldn’t handle the truth when it happened. I could barely handle the memory of it. I have many such demons behind many such doors. I am afraid.

Telling myself the truth has been causing me to have a lot of anxiety. What is real? What is not real? What if something that I thought was not real is really real? What do I do about it given the new information? I have been lying to myself for so long that it is hard to tell what the truth is.

Reading this psych eval has really opened my eyes. In many ways I have progressed greatly in 25 years and in other areas I have only crawled a few baby steps.

My brother Luke said that emotional development is stunted at the age that the trauma starts. I laughed about this. My first childhood memories and most of my childhood memories in general are very traumatic.

Am I an emotional infant?? Maybe I am. I am still stuck in the trust vs. mistrust stage of development. I can’t talk to friends about this because I don’t trust them. If they get too close, I push them away. But what is to be lost by trusting a few trustworthy people? I don’t understand myself sometimes.

A few of my family members have sought counseling and have reached out to me to do likewise. But I am stubborn and proud. Remember that Alissa does not tolerate demands well. Ha! It’s true, I don’t.

I went to a counselor a couple years as a teenager. She always talked about the feelings chart. I remember that because I didn’t have any feelings at the time. I don’t know why I stopped going. She said that I had the second worst childhood of anyone she has ever seen. I remember that too. I really liked her and hope she never felt like I left because of her.

I was always comfortable growing and changing at my own pace. I don’t want a diagnosis or to be made to feel like something is wrong with me because of the experiences I went through. But maybe if I went to a counselor I could grow and become a better person faster. I don’t know. I will think about it.

 

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.

Luke’s visit, part 5

I don’t understand why he did the things he did. I don’t like to think about it, much less write about it. It makes me feel incredibly sad to tell you all of these things.

We didn’t travel much as kids. The only place we ever went to was the family cabin up north. I can’t even remember one family meal at a restaurant. Matt’s violent and disruptive behaviors made it nearly impossible to be welcomed anywhere.

I didn’t like the weeds in the water at the lake. Oftentimes, we would walk to our neighbor’s cabin nearby to swim. They raked by their dock giving them a sandy beach. They knew my parents and were okay with it, although I never remembered asking and they always glared at us.

There was that one time that my brothers and I thought it would be a great idea to throw the neighbor’s decorative rocks off the end of their dock. They were so angry. We were too little to get them out of the water at the end of the dock, the water was over our heads. My mom didn’t swim.

After that unfortunate incident when my brother almost drowned, we were always watched more closely in the water. It was my dad’s idea for my mom to put me in charge as a 6 year old of my 3 younger brothers in the water. They thought I would holler if something went wrong, but instead I froze when Luke went under.

After that, my mom would sit on the neighbor’s dock in her lawn chair to watch us swim. Sometimes if my mom wasn’t able to be there, she would send my dad. He was never really happy about that.

We didn’t have fun playing in the water with dad. He would grab our ankles while we swam under water and yank us back making us choke, sputter, and gasp water. It was all a game, like tag, you see. He seemed to think it was fun.

He thought it was terribly humorous that I was afraid of weeds. He grabbed my little body and planted my feet far away from the sand into the weeds. The few minutes he forced me to stand there seemed like hours. I was so terrified feeling the slimy weeds and what I imagined slithered underneath. Even to this day, I rarely like my feet to be uncovered.

I cried in terror and when he finally let go, I ran as fast as I could through the weeds to shore. All the while, he called me names and threw mucky weeds, a dead fish, and sticks at me. Then he swam back to our cabin through the weeds. He said that I was such a baby for being afraid.

But I still loved the water. I wanted to learn how to swim really good. My mom gave us basic swim lessons so we didn’t drown but said I couldn’t take the advanced class because they had doctor bills to pay for Matt.

Last summer I swam across the lake up north. I swam right through the weeds even though I was scared. I even competed in a Half Ironman. But I always remained a beginner swimmer.

My brother Luke’s daughters are really good swimmers and are on the swim team. My oldest niece, who is just 10, competed in her first triathlon this year. Luke set up a mock triathlon course for his girls up north. At least I am glad that he is the father that our dad never was. They have been given so many opportunities. They don’t have to grow up being afraid.

 

Luke’s visit, part 4

When we were young, my dad was a very cruel man. He is not like that anymore.

Luke said what terrified him the most was the train. It was one of his earliest memories. He remembers dad inching closer and closer to the tracks while the train was passing. He hid crying in the back window of the car as my dad and brother Mark laughed. He said I wasn’t there.

I don’t remember this being an isolated incident. I was there. I almost forgot about this. The train did not terrify me. I liked to wave at the man in the caboose when mom took us on walks. As kids, we lived near the railroad tracks. I found the sound of the train’s whistle to be rather soothing at night. We even saw a train derail in our lifetime, but not on those tracks.

I remember my dad doing other things like crossing the tracks right before the train passed. But I think he found much more satisfaction in waiting for the train to pass. He inched closer and closer until the front of the car seemed to kiss the side of the train car.

If you get really close to a train, it is squeaky and loud. The cars teeter and rock back and forth making an awful grating noise. Sparks fly. It seems like it could come off the tracks at any moment and destroy the car in a big ball of fire. My dad took the opportunity to scare Luke or any of us whenever he had the chance. I remember this happening several times with the train. I was there, but Luke does not remember that.

We couldn’t comfort our terrified sibling otherwise it would probably be our turn next. Compassion and empathy were not rewarded. In fact, they were more of a weakness. Laughter was probably the safest response. If you laughed or acted like it didn’t scare you, he wouldn’t do that to you. I often responded with no response. But Luke was terrified and I think he was too little to hide it.

My dad did other things to scare us in the car. He drove fast and laughed at us if we tried to put on our seat belts. He drove fast over hills. He would taunt us by saying that he had no idea what could be waiting on the other side of the hill. I was big enough to see out of the window, maybe they weren’t. There could be a family walking on the other side of the hill….a dog…another car and he wouldn’t be able to stop from hitting whatever could be on the other side. Sometimes he would drive up hills on the wrong side of the road.

I’ve had nightmares about him driving fast or going up steep hills not knowing what could be on the other side. I think it was also the root of my struggles with a fear of driving, especially hills. I was afraid of hurting someone. I was afraid of not having control over that. I couldn’t see what was ahead of me.

Today I am obsessed with conquering my fears. If the fear wins, so does my dad.

I built a big wall around myself. I have a thick shell. But maybe somewhere inside is that little girl who is kind and caring.

I don’t think that my mom even knew about the things our dad did when she wasn’t around.

 

May the fours be with me

I’m turning 44 this weekend. In celebration, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. Boy, that’s a lot of fours..I didn’t really notice that until now. I sure hope it’s my lucky number!

This is going to be one of the most challenging races to date. I am exhilarated and absolutely terrified at the same time.

The course is going to be breathtakingly beautiful and treacherous. I read the reviews of the race. The first three reviews said to expect to fall. After that I quit reading. I am going to be running a marathon through the bluffs. Predictably, there will be a lot of sharp inclines and steep descents. I can’t imagine why anyone would fall?

Supposedly, the rocky path is worse if it rains. So far, the whole weekend is predicted to be stormy. It is supposed to be hot, very humid, and chances of thunderstorms and rain are at 80% on Friday, 60% on Saturday, and 80% on Sunday. Break a leg then, hey? Not to mention being at the top of the bluffs during a thunderstorm. Or having screamingly sore legs already.

I also heard that there are only 2 bathrooms on the marathon route which is rather problematic for the likes of my old bladder. Do I head for the hills if nature is calling? Will I get lost trying to avoid the onlookers? Or maybe find myself some toilet paper in a patch of poison ivy?

I don’t feel ready for this. Kind of like last year when there were 5 foot waves when I was swimming for the Half Ironman. Seriously, how do you train adequately for that?? In a wave pool??

One of the hardest parts will be sleeping in a tent. I don’t sleep well in my sleep number bed in a dark quiet room with air conditioning. I wonder how I will sleep in a stifling hot tent through storms anxious about the early morning marathon?

The first thing I had to do was find our tent. I can’t remember the last time we slept in a tent. It was at least 5 years ago, back when the kids thought that it was wonderful to hang out with their parents camping for the weekend. We had some awesome adventures camping though. We weathered some pretty scary storms. We hiked, biked, swam, and explored most of the state parks within a three hour radius of our house.

We pretty much stopped camping when we got our sailboat. Now the perfect weekends in the summer month consist of sailing, racing, going up north to the family cabin, or just hanging out around home. Of course, this summer has been a little different with moving and going to Vegas.

I only signed up for one race and this is it! The big hurrah for my birthday weekend!

Folks, this just might be my last birthday.

What did I get myself into this time??!?

May the fours be with me!

 

Father’s Day

Father’s Day…it’s always been a difficult day for me.

I see the posts online of you with your dad smiling and happy. I wonder why my dad never cared about me. I don’t think I have any pictures of us like that, dad.

I just remember you laughing at the TV in some distant room while my autistic brother hit me yet again. You could have held me while I cried. Why didn’t you?

I remember the time that I was afraid of weeds up at the lake. You took my tiny little body and planted my feet in the slimy weeds. You laughed at me when I ran back to shore crying. You threw weeds at me and called me names.

I am not afraid anymore, dad. I push myself so hard. I run myself ragged.

This one day of the year, I wish for just one picture…one memory…of us together smiling and happy. It is so painful to see the things I didn’t have.

What is wrong with me? Why didn’t you love me dad?

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #12

Fearless courage is the foundation of victory.

I have a lot of fears.

It would probably be easier making a list of things I am not afraid of.

Ironically, I am not afraid of confronting my fears.

But I think that has more to do with my fear of letting fear control me.

Does that make me courageous?

There was a time when driving on the highway would fill me with extreme anxiety. I was fine one minute, then the next I was filled with panic. The tunnel vision would start. Blackness slowly enveloped me until I couldn’t see the cars around me. I started sweating profusely. I had to open the car windows even if it was in the dead of winter. The noise from the radio became really loud. I needed silence. I had to slow down. I had to get off the highway or I was going to die. I muttered frightened prayers. I had to keep breathing..

For years, I dealt with this…the panic attacks out of the blue while driving. For a long time, I could only drive from one entrance ramp to the next exit. I felt like a complete failure every time I had to get off the highway as my body shook and trembled uncontrollably with fear.

I kept at it though. It was a very long process of celebrating small victories. At first, it was driving on the highway and making it past two exits. I’m not sure how the fear started in the first place. I was never in an accident. I think it had to do more with feeling tired. I suffered a bit from highway hypnosis. I was afraid that I would fall asleep and kill someone. I had fallen asleep while driving before. Coffee only made things worse. Instead of being awake and focused, it made me jittery and nervous.

I am the type of person that has a hard time sitting down and not being preoccupied without falling asleep. I can fall asleep during the best movies, but sometimes have trouble staying asleep at night. Why??

When I started feeling groggy while driving, I would go into hyper alert mode and start feeling anxiety. After awhile I paired driving with anxiety and boy was that hard to break. I pretty much conquered that fear now. But I am still afraid of long distance highway driving. I’m afraid that it wouldn’t take much to unravel everything I did.

How can I follow my dreams of traveling the world if I am terrified by almost every mode of travel?? I had to keep doing it even if I was afraid. I have to keep driving. I have to keep flying. Nothing conquers the fear of flying more than booking a flight half way around the world. Trust me! I was terrified more about the prospect of a 20 hour flight than I actually was doing it. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be.

Last summer I was utterly terrified to complete my first Half Iron. It seemed insurmountable as I watched the huge waves pound the shore. My legs felt like rubber on the bike. But after I finished, I felt unbelievably victorious. It was such an accomplishment for me.

This summer I signed up for my first trail marathon through the bluffs. I will be sleeping the weekend of the race in a tent. I have no doubt that this is going to be very challenging. Running a marathon over hilly terrain after a sleepless night in a tent will not be a piece of cake. I am afraid.

I will be doing this for my birthday. Why I can’t just get drunk and feel like crap the normal Wisconsin way is beyond me…

I know that if I can do this, it will take the cake as the best birthday ever!

I have a lot of fears, but I am willing to fight them.

If fearless courage is the foundation of victory…I don’t think you can have courage without being afraid of something first. The trick is not letting fear win.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #8

Begin…the rest is easy.

I find this fortune cookie to be very inspiring.

Beginning is the hardest part, right?

Remember starting a blog? How terrifying was that??

Now it seems so natural, so easy, so ingrained…like I’ve been doing this forever.

Every decision to begin something new is fraught with worry. Or at least it is that way for me. Getting married, starting a family, starting a blog, running a marathon, getting on the stage of a community theater, sailing, going to college, moving to a new community, doing a Half Ironman, traveling, etc…insert dream here..

Beginning a new adventure can be terrifying. Fear can prevent someone with great potential from even starting.

I remember my first 10k. I was horrified. I was so afraid I wanted to run in the opposite direction. This summer, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. A lot of people find that inspiring, motivating, or downright crazy. It is all of those things. If I can do it, anybody can. It started with taking the first step. I started running about 5 years before I ever signed up for my first race. People don’t see everything I do when they hear about everything I’ve done.

Running can be very intimidating if you haven’t yet learned to crawl.

I am very motivated to achieve. I can’t sit still. My brain never quiets.

I am also a very competitive person. This has been harder to overcome. I want to be the best runner. I want to be the best blogger. I am secretly (well, not anymore) jealous of people who have thousands of followers after a few months of blogging. I am jealous of people great enough to qualify for the Boston marathon.

I have to get over comparing myself to others and learn to enjoy my own journey…

Sometimes people ask…How can you be a marathon runner? How do you run a successful business working with your husband? How can you blog regularly year after year?

I’ll tell you how I do it. Begin…that is the first step. Keep going. Keep doing your best even if you aren’t the best. Seek the advice of others who are successful. Maybe I’m not as good of a runner as ______ or as good of a blogger as ________. Who cares? I really love it and that is what matters.

The 5%

If I look back, I would say that I’ve always been a writer of some sort. But is it strange that I never wanted to write a novel?

I wrote a story once when I was in grade school about a grown up version of me that started a home for girls from troubled families. I imagined during the school day that my home for girls was at the school. I don’t remember much about what I wrote. In middle school, I deemed the story as crap and threw it away.

After that I started keeping journal after journal of the darkest years of my life. I have been working on going through them slowly, as not to sink back down.

I started finding pen pals. Some were from foreign countries. I wanted to learn about their lives. There was a girl from Brazil that didn’t write in English. I had the hardest time finding someone to translate Portuguese. The best I could find is someone who knew Spanish. I could only read a line or two from every letter.

Then the internet came along and I got more pen pals(?) using dial up to get on my email.

I still don’t have an interest in writing a novel. I want to write about my own life.

I have had some very deep lows that seemed to sweep the ocean floors. I have had some pretty big highs that launched me out of this very atmosphere. Both are hard to write about honestly.

My experiences have been very unique, but my feelings are universal.

I learned that it is important to do what I want in life regardless of what others think. I live by this motto and refuse to be put in a box. People complain about everything I do anyway. So, who cares?

But yet I struggle.

Last week I lost a friend, my last pen pal from the dial up days. In the almost 20 years that we have been friends, I visited her twice. She unfriended me, along with her husband and daughter.

What is it about me that she didn’t like?? Was it because I took my daughter to the Lana Del Rey concert?? Was it because I visited the Buddhist temples in Thailand? Is it because I like to have fun once in awhile?? I don’t fit very well into the Christian box sometimes. Or maybe it was because I never replied to her last message. I was intending to.

It hurt. I tried to brush off the feelings of rejection.

95% of the time I don’t care what others think of me. It is the 5% that trips me up and prevents me from sharing the full story. I am afraid that you will reject me too. I’ve been feeling troubled about this the last couple of days.

Maybe I shouldn’t share as much as I do.

What are your thoughts?

What do you do?

If I do tell you, maybe you will reject me too.

I want to share my life story with you, but sometimes the 5% holds me back.