On a mission

I think there are several reasons I don’t like to fly. One of them was my dad was a pilot. For a short period of time he shared a small plane with several other people. But it didn’t last long because it was very expensive. The first time I can remember being in a plane was with my dad and his instructor. It was very exciting. I also remember flying with a friend of my parents who had an airplane and landing strip in his backyard. I remember liking that as well. The people below looked like little dots from the sky.

My dad was very involved with a local aviation club. This is where I think my problem started. My dad was the head of a search and rescue crew. That meant we frequently got calls in the middle of the night about small planes that went down. The phone would ring non-stop for about an hour. Then my dad would spend the rest of the night with a crew searching until they found the plane.

My dad would field many calls in the middle of the night. I’m not sure why that’s when most of the calls came. (Maybe the calls in the middle of the night were the most memorable). There were so many calls I thought plane crashes happened all the time. The phone calls woke us kids up and it was worrisome. It seemed like dad was always on a mission.

Then every year the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) would attract pilots from all over the world to OshKosh, WI. Year after year my dad received reports of plane crashes from this event. Every year he volunteered at the event, but I never went. We didn’t do family things. One time my dad gave me a book about flying. It was the only thing he ever gave me. I think someone gave it to him and I gave it away without reading it.

Other than that, I only flew commercially once as a child the summer I turned 12. We went on a ‘vacation’. Meaning that my Aunt Grace, Luke, and I drove down to Texas with my mom and Matt to the hospital where we left them for the remainder of the summer. Luke and I flew back home with our aunt. It was a scary experience without our mom. It was our first time on a big plane and my brother got so scared during take off that he choked on his gum. The Dallas airport was huge. I think we got lost. Not only was our mom not with us, she wouldn’t be with us for the whole summer which we worried about. I remember crying a lot that summer. But Matt was supposed to come back healed. (He didn’t). Mom wrote us letters from the hospital, but that was about it.

Except for two early experiences of wonder, flying was paired with leaving my mother behind and a lot of calls in the middle of the night about plane crashes.

Timshel

I first heard of the concept Timshel in the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It means thou mayest in Hebrew. Timshel is saying we have a choice between good and evil. You can choose the path you take. Will others rejoice upon our passing or will there be great sadness based upon the choices we made in how we love one another. I know I am not giving the 600 page book justice with my mere 600 words.

I wouldn’t consider the book to be a happy story. But it was a feel good book because of its realistic perspective. Some of the big themes dealt with relationships between siblings, sibling rivalry, and the parent/child relationship. One of the things that really hit home for me was the struggle the characters experienced within. If my parent chooses evil, what does that make me? The book brings up the thought that although your parent may choose evil doesn’t mean that you are destined for the same choices. They have a choice just like you do.

I won’t lie to you, I sometimes struggle with this. I try hard to be a good person, but plenty of times I fall short. My dad did a lot of evil things. Does that make me evil even though I did not make the same choices he did? Sometimes I see him in myself. I hate to be reminded of him when I look in the mirror, how I talk, or how I walk. But it’s there. I have to wonder if that is the only thing there. Maybe he passed his evil down to me.

Logically, I know it’s crazy to think that, yet sometimes I do. The weight of his decisions has brought many people down. My mom is really struggling with her mental health over it. My brother Luke will not have his kids around my dad. I rarely see my brother and haven’t seen him, his wife, or my nieces yet this year. My dad is not invited to holidays. He is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. We always wonder if and when the police will be back to my parent’s house. But those are all just the external things which make life difficult and complicated.

I think the internal pain is worse. The anxiety that somewhere deep inside I might be guilty just for being his daughter like choosing evil is an inheritable trait. Sometimes I have to keep telling myself I am not responsible for my parents. I am not responsible for my adult children. I am responsible for me and my choices alone.

I don’t have a dad I can be proud of. He has brought nothing but shame to the family name. I wish I could say his choices affected only himself. If the evil choices other people make cannot be attributed to us then neither can the good. Having a child who chooses good does not equate to having good parents any more than having a child who chooses evil equate to having bad parents. Why is this so hard to understand? Why do we need something or someone to blame for the bad choices others make? It’s true some people have more obstacles than others. But is that really a good excuse? Maybe they just made a bad decision because that is what they wanted to do.

My grandparents were wonderful people. My dad, not so much.

Timshel. Everyone has a choice.

Again, I would highly recommend reading East of Eden. It’s very well written and thought provoking. It had a lot of interesting twists and turns in the classic drama by John Steinbeck. I’ve read several other books by the same author decades ago, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath were among my favorites. I hope to read more of his books in the near future. They always have a way of making me think about things differently.

Fortune cookie wisdom #39

Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.

I think the key word here is dwelling. I recently heard on the radio that negative experiences are more memorable than positive ones. I think that is true.

Yesterday I spent 3 1/2 hours writing. A small portion was writing on my blog and the rest I spent writing my book. I added a journal entry written by my mom to the book describing Matt hitting my brother Mark and also hitting and kicking me. I wrote about my brother attacking me from my mom’s point of view. I can’t even describe what that feels like. In some ways I felt totally detached since the journal entry was almost 30 years old. Mainly I felt sad for the little girl that was me.

Then I wrote another entry remembering a time my mom asked my dad to help her by watching my brothers and I swim in the lake up north while she made supper. Any time my mom asked my dad for help he did things aggressively or half assed. Let’s just say I didn’t have the dad who would sweep me onto his lap and read books to me on the couch.

This is what happened that day when my mom asked for help. My dad came in the water with us. When Mark and Luke were swimming my dad would grab them by their feet and yank them backwards. My brothers would choke and sputter swallowing water and getting it up their noses. Then they would cry and dad would laugh saying they were just playing a game.

I was terrified of the weeds so my dad grabbed me and forced me to stand in the weeds and muck. He laughed at me while I cried and called me names. When he let me go, he threw weeds and a dead fish at me. It didn’t take long for my brothers and I to be done swimming. My dad got out of doing something he didn’t want to do. He got his jollies by making us cry, calling us names, mocking and humiliating us.

That pretty much sums up my childhood. My brother Matt frequently attacked us with no consequence because there was something wrong with him. I wouldn’t consider my dad to be physically abusive per se. There were times he hit and manhandled us, but he seemed to enjoy terrorizing us more. He liked taking what we were afraid of the most and taunting us with it like my fear of weeds. When we would cry he would laugh in our face and call us babies. He often called us stupid.

If my dad was taunting a sibling it was best to ignore him or better yet to join him because that would ensure your safety. Comforting a sibling often meant your next. Pretend not to care. Pretend nothing scares you. Show no vulnerability or weakness where he could worm in.

I spent several hours writing about the physical abuse from my brother and the psychological abuse from my dad. By the end of the afternoon I was spent. I was feeling depressed and wanted to just emotional detach from everyone. Thinking about the negative things that happened to me really wasn’t doing me any good.

My husband said maybe I shouldn’t continue writing the book or just do it in small segments of time. I told him writing this book gives my life purpose and meaning. The question is how can I write about painful experiences without dwelling on the negative? I end up spending a lot of time in a place I no longer want to be.

I do think writing my story is very therapeutic and healing, but I can’t deny there is a dark side to it as well.

Stable for the holidays

Arabella called me the night before the family Christmas party. She told me she started dating Will that very day. She said Will got into a fight with his grandma who he is living with and they needed a place to stay. I basically told them there was no room at the inn.

My brother Luke and his family arrived right before the snow started to fall. We weren’t sure if they were even going to be able to make the trip since snowstorm Amelia was on her way too. Thankfully Luke got out of work early and they were on their way before Amelia made her blustery appearance. All the bedrooms at our house were occupied.

I told Arabella no they couldn’t spend the night. I hadn’t even met Will yet and didn’t hear a lot of good things about him. I didn’t need the extra stress right before family was coming. Plus Paul and I promised each other we wouldn’t take Arabella back in unless we had strict boundaries with her. I couldn’t give in just because she was pleading and begging. Predictably; she started swearing at me, said she wasn’t coming for the Christmas party, and hung up. Later she apologized via text.

Snowstorm Amelia dropped a lot of wet heavy snow on us. Paul spent most of the morning plowing out the driveway. He wasn’t able to help me prepare for the party inside. We ate later than originally planned without Alex (he got called in to work) and Arabella who showed up late.

When Arabella showed up she was friendly and I thought Will was also very personable. The only one who was snippy was my SIL Carla who is always that way. Dan told her off when she started to get too bossy. We opened gifts. Arabella even got us all little gifts. When Paul had trouble opening the packaging on his gift, Will pulled a huge knife out of his pocket to cut it open. I almost had a heart attack, but he meant no harm. I could tell he truly seemed to care about Arabella so I felt more relaxed about him and their relationship.

Arabella talked to me alone for awhile. She told me she wanted me to stop telling people she was delusional. I told her I had no problem with that as long as she stopped telling people I starved, abused, and tortured her.

Arabella said Will’s grandma was angry with him for quitting his job because someone said something mean to him. Arabella said that was okay because now he can help her with her ‘social media’ business. He is a photographer and my mom gave him my grandpa’s camera. I was kind of upset about that. Wouldn’t you ask your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews if they wanted the camera before giving it away to someone she barely knows?

I also heard from Paul that Arabella and Will think his grandma is spying on them and that she bugged his car. At first I thought it could be true. But who would want to bug their 21 year old grandson’s car? And how would someone even know how to do that anyway? I don’t believe a word of it. It’s sad to say this but I am happy she is not making accusations about me anymore. Now she is telling me she loves me again. Our relationship is better than it has been in months. I know that could change any day though.

Last week Arabella drove down to Kansas with Will to visit his family. They spent the night in a tent in Iowa on the way during a tornado warning. Will said he is a survivalist. One summer he spent half of it living in the woods sleeping in a hammock. But staying in a tent in December is just plain strange.

Arabella is going to be spending the holidays with Will’s family. A part of me wonders if they are even going to come back since they both don’t have jobs and have strained relationships with their loved ones at home.

Christmas Day will be quiet without her. Paul and I will be spending the day with Angel and Alex and their significant others. This will be the first time one of my children will be gone on Christmas Day. But at least right now I feel comfortable with where our relationship is at. Things are going really well with all our kids, or at least as good as it possibly can with everything going on.

I feel more at peace now than I did in a long time. Everything is stable for the holidays.

Doing alright now

I’m doing a lot better now. I think I was having an episode of PTSD. I can tell the difference between that and regular anxiety.

Yesterday I cleaned out Arabella’s room. That in and of itself is very triggering for me. I am happy with the end product, but still. In her room I was reminded of something rather innocent, little flavored drink jugs my mom bought me as a treat for going to the store with her. Arabella had some in her room.

What it triggered in me was the memory of going places with my mom and brother Matt. My mom rarely took Matt out in public alone. She also wanted him to be included in everything a normal kid would do. Since I liked to go to the roller rink, Matt should go too. It wasn’t just that but my mom didn’t like to leave Matt at home by himself without someone watching him.

Trips out with Matt usually included Matt attacking someone. We tried to be hypervigilant of the signs and get him out of wherever we were, but sometimes that was just not possible. Sometimes we had to stake out the place for little girls. We tried to find places where they weren’t. Or if we saw little girls, we would have to leave. Matt heard voices that told him to attack them. Sometimes we would hold his hands, mom on one side me on the other. If we held his hands, he couldn’t use them.

Most commonly, he would grab little girls by their hair and pull. Sometimes he would hit or kick them. We would have to try to pull him off of them while their parents screamed at us. Fun times. One time he was terrified of men with beards and would throw huge tantrums where my mother had to hold him down in the store. Sometimes we had to abandon our cart and go home. Sometimes Matt would attack us on the car ride home.

I was triggered and went into a prolonged state of terror. I think it was the perfect storm. Stress from family coming for the holidays. I became extremely agitated. I paced the floors. Despite the sleeping pill, I awoke in the middle of the night panicking.

Here is what happened to me today. I felt incredibly terrified, in fight or flight mode. My mind was racing very fast but my body felt sluggish. I had a hard time keeping a coherent thought. I was hyper-vigilant to every noise. I thought I would scream if someone touched me, expected or not. I became paranoid. I thought I heard fighting in another room. I was worried I had to protect my daughter Angel from harm. Was she in danger? Neutral expressions were taken as a threat.

I was in intense terror. It was different from a panic attack in this way. There was no build up, panic attack, and then relief. It was a continuous level of heightened terror. Once I was aware of what was going on, I had to calm myself by telling myself that I was safe, everyone else was safe, and things were going to be okay and if they were not I could handle it like I’ve done countless times before.

My brother Luke is on his way here with his family. He is trying to beat the storm. We are going to make some burgers tonight. I’m going to have my son and his girlfriend over because my son will most likely have to work tomorrow doing snow removal and miss most of the party.

I am safe. I’m not responsible for anyone but me. I can’t fix the things that are broken. I have to take care of me. Sometimes I have PTSD. It just usually doesn’t hit me this hard.

What a mess! Holiday stress

Last night I got a call from Arabella. She told me she loved and missed me. She told me she was coming to the Christmas party this weekend and she wanted to bring Will along. When I expressed hesitance, she told me he was her boyfriend. I said I didn’t meet him yet, I didn’t get him any gifts. But she knew she had me at boyfriend. I always told my kids significant others were welcome during the holidays.

Arabella asked if she could give me her gifts this weekend. I told her that would be fine but asked her why. She said she was going to visit Will’s family out of state for three weeks for the holidays. She said she didn’t get me any gifts yet though. I told her she didn’t have to.

She asked how I was doing. The conversation seemed comfortable and normal like speaking to an old friend. Arabella said she was gaining weight because she stopped taking all of her medications, even the one for her thyroid. She said she wanted to get all new doctors. When I asked her why, she said it was because I turned them against her.

Something struck me about the conversation was she was concerned about gaining weight. When she got COVID, she lost weight and thought she was starving. She thought I was starving her. The truth is that she could have lost half her body weight and still no one would think she was starving. But now she is concerned about weight gain? She doesn’t think she is starving anymore?

After the conversation was over, I was confused. Arabella seemed so normal. It left me wondering if I was crazy. I want so badly to think she is back to her normal self. I want to think I made everything that happened up. I felt stressed after I talked to her. She was going to be bringing Will to the Christmas party this weekend. My son Alex told me this Will guy was bad news. They graduated together. I started to imagine conflict between Will and my son.

Then my brother Luke texted me and said there was a snow storm coming this weekend ending right before the party starts. I was expecting a shit storm, but a snow storm on top of that?? How wonderful the first named snow storm of the season. Now I’m not even sure they are coming. My son will probably be called in to work during the party. What a mess!

My mom feels stressed out around Luke now. She said he triggers her and that is why she is having a hard time sleeping again. Luke has a lot of boundaries with my mom. Luke’s wife doesn’t like my mom. My dad isn’t invited because of the whole child porn thing. Understandably, Luke won’t ever have his children around my dad because of it. My son and my daughter Angel never want to see my dad again. Then there is Arabella who is living with my parents.

My brothers Mark and Luke have to drive several hours to get here possibly through a snow storm. Mark’s wife Carla is difficult. She is angry with my daughter Angel for turning my dad in. She just lost her own dad this year so she is extra mean. I’m not even sure why she hates my daughter. She has also had conflict with Arabella in the past. She is very critical and will probably say something about my son’s girlfriend’s pink hair. But she has always been nice to me.

Carla is also mean to my brother Mark. She belittles him and calls him stupid in front of everyone. This summer she got mad at him because he ate his cheese separately from his burger. Didn’t he know she cut it for his burger? MARK how could you be such an idiot?? My brother just laughs it off but it is very upsetting to us. One time my mom told Carla off. My mom never tells anyone off. But then she felt bad for telling her off and apologized.

Now my mom is planning on leaving my dad after Christmas. I’m not sure if that will happen or not. I joked that now she wants to leave my dad after Arabella moves in. I just cleaned Arabella’s room so my nieces have somewhere to stay if they do make it for the party. Arabella is a true hoarder.

My brother Matt can be hard to deal with as well. He burps and farts at the table. But at least he is medicated and won’t hurt the kids. Did I mention all my brothers have special diets? Matt is gluten and dairy free. Mark is gluten free. Luke is dairy free. I already bought all the food. Did you know that a small ham costs $30 now?? I do! Holy crap!!!

Oh, and my dog is not doing the best. He hasn’t had much of an appetite the last couple of days. Oh, and the boiler stopped working again.

This is why I don’t like hosting the holidays! It’s just way too much stress!!! If I make it through this weekend I’ll have a lot to be thankful for on my gratitude list. But as for now my anxiety is through the roof.

Muse ick

My daughter showed me how to view my 2021 review of the year on Spotify. Numbers don’t lie and it showed me myself which can be scary. Angel showed me her year in review and posted it on Facebook along with all her friends. I would never do that. People would wonder if I was okay.

Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I got my first radio in Kindergarten. For the most part, music has been a healthy coping mechanism in my life.

Through my years music has always been there for me. In grade school, I cried myself to sleep at night with the Duran Duran Arena album. Planet Earth echoed my emptiness. The Chauffeur, The Seventh Stranger I felt my aloneness with them.

In high school I found Pink Floyd. I understood The Wall because by that time I had locked myself behind one. Comfortably Numb spoke to me. I could find myself in the depression and numbness without ever touching a drug. I remember when The Division Bell came out. When I got a Spotify account I searched and scoured everything Pink Floyd. I now have 69 songs from them on my playlist. Sadly, there is nothing new to consume. In a few months I am planning on getting The Dark Side of the Moon prism tattooed on my back. That’s about as new as it gets. They are my #2 artist of this year.

Music means the world to me. According to Spotify, I listen to music 88% more than other listeners in the US. I am beyond happy that my daughter Angel has a music degree and my son plays many instruments and started making beats for a rapper.

I could almost say I have a music addiction. There were times I felt guilty about my intake. I destroyed my collections, later to buy them back again. I am extremely private about the music I listen to. I feel shame because I don’t like feel-good Christian or otherwise music like my mom does. I like music to express the feelings when I am having a hard day: the anger, the emptiness, the despair.

Spotify said my music mood is wistful and spooky. I listen to thoughtful hard to listen to music discussing difficult topics like death, suicide, emotional pain, broken relationships, etc.. I really wish I liked songs about grace, forgiveness, love (in a good way), and happiness. There are a few I like but not many. I want to like that kind of music but I don’t. I can’t force myself to. I tried.

This year I found a new band. It’s not really new, but new to me. I found it by watching the MTV videos on Beavis and Butthead. I know, I know. Just remember I wasn’t able to be a kid and my inner child likes it. I keep telling myself that anyway.

The band is called Type O Negative from when I was a teen. Never heard of them before. Some of their songs I don’t care for. But four out of five of my top five songs this year were from them. They are my top artist this year. I am in the top 0.1% of listeners. I’m predicting next year will be lower because they will no longer be new and they don’t have any new music since the lead singer is dead.

Type O Negative has some really difficult songs to listen to because they have some really really hard grief messages. It really helped me process my feelings about having a suicidal daughter, Arabella, and the resulting depression from it. I can’t take the mental illness from my daughter and it is killing me. Life is Killing Me. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt from this band. I recently ordered the Black No. 1 shirt with the lyrics written on it of ‘loving you is like loving the dead’. Sometimes I feel like anyone who could love me is loving the dead because at times I was so numb it was like I wasn’t even there.

My number three song was from the $uicideboy$ entitled Kill Yourself. No strong suicide lyrics there. NOT. My daughter Angel showed me this song. She said after she found the porn on my dad’s computer she became really depressed and started listening to this song. It helped me understand how she feels. Most parents would be worried but apparently I am not one of those parents since I started listening to it as well by myself. But seriously, it’s not going to be on my top 5 list next year. It’s just too dark even for me.

I wonder if there are any other dark people out there like me. Is there anybody out there? Why am I drawn to the darkness inside of myself? Why don’t I like uplifting music? Why do sad songs make me feel good? It doesn’t make sense.

Why do some people like romance and others horror movies? You probably already could guess what I would prefer. Yup, horror.

It’s hard to explain to people who don’t get it. It’s like music is a friend of mine. When I’m feeling sad it cries along with me. It’s always there for me. As an introvert who struggles with depression sometimes it’s easier to pour out those emotions with music than with people.

Maybe I just figured out why I don’t want to share my music with others. If I share my music, I really am sharing about myself and that is truly scary to put myself out there like that. Now I just have to figure out why I am okay putting myself out there here.

Fortune cookie wisdom #35

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.

A wise guy once told me that you don’t have to know everything you just need to find the person who does. Actually that is some sound advice given to me by my husband. He is a wise man but that doesn’t mean I’d want him to fix our furnace. Thankfully as of yesterday we have heat in our house again. Let’s just say I have a new appreciation of our ancestors who had to live through Wisconsin winters without heat.

Yesterday we also made the yearly trek to a nearby small town to talk to our financial advisor about our financial plans and goals, retirement, and all that fun stuff. I am pretty much there to nod my head to whatever my husband and the advisor says we should do. I probably shared before my husband has a Master’s degree in business administration. He loves finance and spends countless hours at his current job doing high level financial analysis. The three of us were joking yesterday if he buys another sailboat he should consider naming it spreadsheets.

Needless to say, my husband is very meticulous with our home finances. We live with a budget, our credit card offers cash back where my husband goes over each line on the statement to categorize every expense. Last week he mentioned he was thinking about becoming an accountant just for fun. He has helped other people and companies come up with a budget. So naturally when it comes to finance I defer all of the decisions to my husband and our financial advisor.

After the meeting with our advisor, we were happy to find out the nearby Chinese buffet is once again open. The fortune above is the one my husband received. We had a good discussion about his fortune. There is a lot of validity to this fortune. I haven’t seen wise people all of a sudden become stupid or vice versa.

I think my husband is a wise person. He successfully ran a start up business until we sold it a couple years back. He has earned the respect of others when it comes to finance. Not only that but I noticed others value what he has to say. People trust wise people. Look at the ads with doctors promoting medications or dentists for toothpaste. I can trust someone’s judgment if I think they are smarter than me. Of course that doesn’t mean I will because I am not the most agreeable person.

My husband notoriously worries about money. It’s the only thing he actually does consistently worry about. It’s funny at times because if I ask him if we can afford something he will say we can’t afford anything. It’s hard to know if it’s him or the fear talking. Every day he makes it sound like we are going to lose our house.

I understand where he is coming from. Paul was raised by a single parent. His childhood was food stamps, low income housing, and ill fitting clothes. He had the fear that the bills might not be paid and he might not have a roof over his head.

As an adult he argued with his mom about money. His mom said that a credit card was money and found herself in credit card debt. My MIL also was addicted to gambling. One time she called very upset. She said the bank called her saying they thought she might be the victim of identity theft because someone took a large sum of money out of her account at a casino. Paul asked her if she took a large sum of money out of her account at the casino and she said she did. He had to explain to her that no one stole her identity, it was her.

My MIL never graduated from high school. She tried to get a GED but couldn’t understand basic math. It’s actually quite sad. I never could understand how my husband excelled at math, money, and finance with no one to teach him any of those things. The sad part is that my husband is a good teacher but his mother was never able to learn.

Sometimes in our early years together Paul would slip his mom some money when we were leaving. I found it strange because in my family it was the other way around. Thankfully in her later years Martha married a tightwad. I think he was able to keep them afloat. It troubles me quite a bit that some of our kids are more like Martha than Paul when it comes to money. Money in the hand is money spent is not an easy way to live. I’m not sure if that will change but I think it can be improved.

This fortune is rather harsh but true. I’ve yet to see a stupid person become wise no matter how much knowledge you throw their way. I have to be careful myself I don’t fall into a pattern of unwise thinking. What about those of us who fit somewhere in the middle?? Perhaps the best course of action is to discerningly seek wisdom from those who know. But I wouldn’t want my husband to fix our furnace. Everyone is valuable in some way, we just need to find the way.

Fortune cookie wisdom #31

If you want the rainbow, you have to tolerate the rain.

Wow, this is another good one. There is so much truth in this fortune as well. Oh, if we could only experience the rainbow without all that darn rain. I’m guilty of this as much as everyone else.

I want my life to be full of joy and uplifting experiences. Personally, I am getting really sick of the trauma and drama, my rain. Sometimes I get so caught up in it that I am under a perpetual rain cloud even when the sun is shining.

Yesterday I met with my therapist. I told her how triggered I’ve been lately. It doesn’t take much at this point after all the trauma I’ve been through. The other day I saw a commercial of a teen girl with her loving grandparents. I felt triggered because I don’t have the relationship I want with Arabella and my parents. My kids don’t have the grandparents I had. There is a lot of pain there.

I also heard my daughter Angel scream in the next room. She was goofing around with her fiance. For an instant I was triggered that she was in pain and I needed to help her. It reminded me of when I was young and I heard my brother attack someone and needed to help pull him off of someone. For a couple moments in time it took me back to the fear I lived in a couple decades ago.

I love the holiday season but I am afraid it’s going to be triggering for me. It always has been. Last year was one of the worst because it was the one year anniversary of my daughter Angel finding child porn on my dad’s computer. It tore the whole family apart. I’m anticipating this year will be difficult because Arabella left home on bad terms. The last several times she has reached out to me has been negative. I’m not sure if she is even going to be coming home for Thanksgiving and I’m not sure if I want her to.

I talked to my therapist about my concerns. I think it is unrealistic for me to hope that I won’t be triggered this year. My therapist said that being triggered is not necessarily bad. She said when she first started seeing me that I didn’t feel anything. I was numb. She said being triggered and feeling emotional about the triggers is better than being numb. She said I needed to make sure I didn’t get stuck in the triggers.

I think grief is a process I need to work through. But sometimes I get triggered and stay stuck in the feelings of despair and hopelessness too long. When I don’t want to live anymore that becomes a problem. I have to have realistic expectations otherwise I am setting myself up for more hurt. I cannot change people or circumstances. Sometimes the false hope that this time things will change, this will be the year I don’t get triggered, puts me in a bad place.

But where would I be if life was great all the time? We all have to go through sorrow and pain in order to feel joy. There has to be sunshine and rain in order for there to be a rainbow. If the sun shines all the time it wouldn’t feel special anymore. Life would get boring. Without inspiration my writing would become lackluster.

There is something amazing that happens when the clouds lift, the rain is ending, and the sun is starting to poke through to produce a rainbow.

It has to stop raining soon. I will keep watching for the rainbow.

Fortune cookie wisdom #29

You emerge victorious from the maze you’ve been travelling in.

Sometimes I feel like a lab rat in a maze. I solve one problem then I’m removed from the maze just to be placed into another maze. It’s hard to find the way out sometimes. Sometimes I search for clues from paths I’ve travelled down before to try to figure things out. But sometimes instead of answers I find myself triggered.

It seems like I find myself triggered by a lot of things lately. For example, last Sunday Paul and I went to church. The pastor was talking about bringing in Christmas season donations of new comforters for the homeless shelter. This is an admirable undertaking to give to an area of our community in need. The problem is that our daughter is currently staying at the same homeless shelter which has been very painful for us. Just mentioning the homeless shelter triggered pain in both of us. I realize it’s not the pastor’s fault for causing us pain. But sometimes that is how being triggered works.

I’ve been feeling triggered by other things lately too like my hair. I know this sounds totally crazy and it is. I mentioned this before but not recently that my autistic/schizophrenic brother Matt physically attacked me on a daily basis throughout my childhood. One of the things he did often was grab my mom and I by our long hair. A ponytail was a sure way to get abused by him. He would just grab on and yank. It was swift and painful. Sometimes he would pull my hair gently in a teasing way and laugh. He pulled my mom’s hair while she was driving which was terrifying. Hair=pain.

There was a point in my life when I was a teenager that I felt sickened by my hair. If I didn’t have long hair my brother couldn’t pull it. I felt this urge to cut off all my long hair. One day I grabbed a scissors and hacked off my hair. He couldn’t hurt me in that way anymore.

Lately I’ve been feeling triggered by my hair again. I couldn’t stand to look at it. I wanted to shave my head. I googled what it means for a woman to shave her head. From my research I gathered that a woman with a shaved head could mean she is confident, rebellious, ready for change, or having a mental break. Oh, it this what my nervous breakdown is going to look like??

Yesterday I went in and got my hair cut shorter than I have ever had it before. I’m still not certain it is short enough. I wondered why did I want to cut off all my hair. I had to go back and examine a time I wanted to do that before. I came to this conclusion. There was a time in my life when I was in a lot of emotional distress. During this time cutting off my hair made me feel like I had some control over what was happening to me. It stopped the abuse of the hair pulling. It was a successful coping mechanism.

Twenty-five years later I am feeling attacked by my daughter. I am under emotional distress. I am in a similar mental state that I was in back then. One of the successful coping mechanisms was cutting off my hair. Is it any wonder why I would want to cut off all my hair? It gives me a false sense of control and getting rid of it makes me feel like I am letting go of something. It makes sense for me to think cutting off my hair could decrease some of my pain because it worked before.

I also decided to update my profile picture on WP. It’s been over 3 years since I changed it last so it is time.