Questionable truth

My first memory was of my dad standing over my autistic brother and hitting him while he flailed back on the floor. They were in the kitchen and on that day I remember my brother screaming and the cupboard doors rattling. He must’ve been 3 because I was around 4. My mom stood in the doorway a few rooms away holding back my brother Mark while I stood by her and watched.

That’s how my life started out. Many well meaning people who would rather not get involved told me things such as God is in control and God will never give you more than you can handle. No one prayed more fervently than me. God if you are in control, please make it stop. But my dad never became the loving father I wanted him to be. My brother never became normal. Did I do something wrong? Did I pray wrong? I couldn’t understand why things didn’t change when I so badly wanted them to. I tried my best to be perfect but still nothing changed.

There were many times I felt like I couldn’t take anymore. I wondered what would happen when I finally broke. But that didn’t happen either. I became angry at God. If he wasn’t going to control things, I sure was going to try to. I became pretty good at controlling myself, others not so much.

For a long time I carried the burden of over responsibility. I can clearly remember when that started. I was 6 when I watched my younger brothers swim in the lake by myself. That was the day my baby brother almost drowned. I always thought that it was my fault until many years later when I realized how young I was. Maybe it even started before then, but I can’t remember. I always felt like I was responsible for things I didn’t have control over.

It became my job to try to fix things. I became a pretty good problem solver and counselor, but that should never be the responsibility of a child. In essence, I took the place of my dad because he only reacted with anger over issues and never stepped up. Still I prayed every night that things would change, but they never did.

If God wasn’t going to change things I was going to try to. But that didn’t really work so well for me either.

Then I thought maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. It’s time to throw away the childish coping mechanisms that I clung to. It’s not very realistic to think God is going to force my dad to become the father I’ve always wanted him to be. He had that choice and he threw it away.

The last post I talked about how strongly I felt about the freedom of choice. But maybe I don’t really want that. Maybe I just want God to sweep down and take control of my dad so he loves me.

Just because I want something to be good or perfect doesn’t mean it’s going to be that way. My idea of God being in control and taking all my problems away when I can’t handle them anymore is incorrect.

Lately I was looking at my new 2022 pocket calendar. Inside there were little fun things to write about. One was to write down your favorite memory you had with your dad. I was stumped. I thought and thought for a long time. Nothing.

But for the first time, I didn’t blame it on God. I blamed it on my dad. I shouldn’t feel guilty for not wanting to continue having a relationship with someone who hurt me. I shouldn’t feel sorry for him either. But I struggle with the thought that I am causing pain and that somehow this is my fault.

I am still confused about my relationship with God. What’s the purpose of prayer if God doesn’t answer them? My husband says that prayer is supposed to make us feel better about the situations we are in versus changing the situation. That is hard for me to understand because for me feeling better means things will change. Apparently I still have a lot to learn.

Maybe I am healing and growing if I am questioning things I always thought were truth.

Gratitude week 86

  1. Arabella has recovered from COVID and is back at work.
  2. Everyone else in our house tested negative.
  3. Just to be on the safe side, I cancelled the plans I had for the weekend and had a nice weekend at home.
  4. I finished a couple of books this week. It’s been a long time since I could say that I read more than one book in a week. I really enjoyed My Sister’s Keeper. Although a piece of fiction, it really made me think about what life was like with a disabled sibling. The disability aside, I remember feeling as if I didn’t matter. There was always something more important than me. I’m not saying that it was always a bad thing that my mom favored Matt, he did need her more. But things were always chaotic. Nothing could be planned or counted on in case Matt was having a bad day. Unexpected change is very triggering for me. I’m trying to have more compassion for myself in that regard as I read stories of other siblings having a hard time cancelling plans they were looking forward to because their sibling was sick, etc. I’m starting to go deeper to the more subtle effects the little things had on my life. It makes more sense why I respond the way I do if I start delving deeper.
  5. I ordered 4 more books, three of which are memoirs about people struggling with mental health issues.
  6. To a great weekend spent with my daughter Angel at home reading, writing, swimming, and watching movies.
  7. For having an adult daughter that is more like a best friend.
  8. Indian takeout food. Angel and I both ordered cheese naan and chicken tikka marsala. It was excellent!
  9. Summer!
  10. For health and healing in general. Last week was really hard because I didn’t know what was going to happen with the sickness in my house.

Gratitude week 72

  1. Arabella came home from residential.
  2. Arabella already has a job interview for today to work as a bartender. It’s a great time to be looking for a job because everyone is so desperate for employees they may overlook her inexperience. **Since the first draft, she was offered a job in the bakery which she does have experience with. But she does have another job opportunity on the line so we’ll see what happens.**
  3. I can’t believe the day has come that all of my children are now adults as Arabella turned 18 over the weekend. I’m learning to let go. It can be rather freeing.
  4. The light switch turned on and it is finally summer around here. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it is warm enough for shorts. That is what I like about living in a climate with harsh winters, summer seems so wonderful.
  5. The boats are in the water. It feels good that the boating season is starting.
  6. We rearranged furniture yesterday and now my daughter Angel’s bedroom is downstairs and we have an office upstairs. We have been arranging things the last couple months and everything is finally starting to come together the way I like it. Angel will be happier too since it has been incredibly hard for her to find a house to buy or rent. She may be living with us a lot longer than she planned with the market the way it is. I don’t mind though…
  7. All my kids are living on my property (my son lives in the mother-in-law suite apartment in the detached garage). It’s nice to have everyone together again. Plus my mom is living here which is going smoother. I almost have a sense of family.
  8. I had almost 4 hours of therapy on one day last week. I think I am officially fixed (at least I can think that anyway).
  9. I met my friend Jen out for lunch last week. It was refreshing to get together with a friend I haven’t seen for awhile.
  10. I am writing this from my new office that faces the road with freshly blooming flowers and trees outside my window.

Finding hope

Tomorrow we are picking Arabella up from the residential behavioral health facility. I feel excited to see her tomorrow. It’s been over two months since I saw my daughter last.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I was feeling a little apprehension as well. I wonder what things will be like when she gets back home. The past year has been very difficult with my daughter’s mental health struggles. To be completely honest, I feel a lot of guilt over writing about this. But the whole purpose of this blog for me is to write about the personal things I struggle with. Right now I’m struggling with parenting a teenager with mental health struggles. Believe me, I wish it wasn’t that way.

I think placing her in a residential facility was our last ditch effort to save her life. Her level of impulsiveness, self-harm, and suicidality was so high that I don’t think she would’ve had a chance out in the real world as a newly minted adult. I don’t know what things will be like when she gets back. I know there is going to be an adjustment period for all of us.

I don’t expect Arabella to be cured. But I do know we did the best we could to try to support her through her struggles. She did make a lot of progress over the last couple months. I hope she continues to grow when she gets home. I think it’s important to keep an account of the way things were to be able to chart her healing and growth on her journey. We’ve also learned a lot in the process and are waiting for the new post residential adventure to begin. I think it has been a very positive experience and I’ve found hope in the fact that Arabella is doing significantly better.

Gratitude week 71

  1. On Mother’s Day, I’m grateful to have a wonderful mom.
  2. I’m grateful for my children. Mother’s Day is different this year. I transitioned out of celebrating the day with younger kids to being more of an empty nest mom. It’s no longer a day of dressing my girls up in fancy cute dresses and homemade gifts and cards on pink colored paper. I’ve come to expect that things have changed. My youngest daughter is still in residential and my oldest daughter has to work. My son will be over later for supper. Maybe we can play some games or something. I do miss the times when they were little and cute but I don’t miss all the work it was.
  3. I found my mom a really awesome gift that we have been trying to find for many years. It’s nice that we can spend the day together.
  4. My daughter Arabella will be coming home this week after staying at a residential mental health facility for the last couple of months.
  5. Arabella will also be 18 this week, so……all my children will be adults as this new week ends. It’s hard to believe that my years of active parenting are now done.
  6. It’s still been very cool here. One day it even hailed. But it does look like it will finally warm up by the end of this week.
  7. My mom has finally been sleeping better. I’m grateful for her healing process.
  8. I’m grateful that Paul was able to help my mom out with Matt’s finances so she didn’t have to hire an accountant at tax time. My mom took us out to eat to thank him for his help.
  9. I’m grateful to have a husband who is gifted in finance because that is one less thing I have to worry about. We have very similar spending habits and thoughts about money.
  10. I’m grateful that I won a $25 gift card at church today just for being a mom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the great moms out there!

Gratitude week 70

  1. And just like that, April is over and we are one step closer to summer.
  2. Last night I had a long honest conversation with my mom and I think it helped us both in our healing process.
  3. After the heavy conversation, my mom, husband, son, daughter Angel, and I played Jackbox games online. We laughed a lot and everyone got along better than they had in a long time.
  4. Although this week is starting off cool and rainy, it was nice to have a few warm weather days over the weekend to get outside and enjoy the nice weather.
  5. I’m grateful for rummage sales in the summer. My mom and I went to a couple over the weekend. My big score was finding a boxing bag stand. My son has had a boxing bag for over a year without a stand which is basically useless. So now he has a stand for it. Guess who bought some boxing gloves? Yup, me!
  6. I had an appointment with my therapist this past week and she thinks that having my mom live with us for awhile would be a good opportunity for growth and healing for me.
  7. I’m grateful to go out for lunch with my best friend and go dress shopping for our children’s graduation from high school. We both found our dresses 15 minutes before the store closed.
  8. I’m grateful that Paul is doing a great job at his new job. We went out on Friday night with the people in his office to celebrate.
  9. I’m grateful that my daughter Arabella will be graduating at the end of the month.
  10. My new car has been absolutely naked without bumper stickers. I’m grateful to have found one that I like. It says something along the lines of ‘trying to decide if I am a warning or an example in today’s world’. Seemed kind of funny.
  11. My husband and I were cleaning out Arabella’s frog cage and one of her frogs got away. He wedged himself into a crack under the bottom of the sink. Thankfully Paul was able to pull him out before he got trapped and died back there. It was a moment of sheer panic though.

It’s not too late

It’s been quite the adjustment with my mom living with us. The first week or so it has been rather triggering. I needed to tell her that I did not feel comfortable as her daughter to process her trauma or our shared trauma with her. I also do not feel like it is a good thing to process your trauma with your children or your grandchildren. The jury is out on Paul yet whether or not it is a good thing for my mom to process her trauma with him. I feel like it is important for her to talk about these things and let them out, but maybe with a sibling or a friend.

It got frustrating for me because my mom talked about a traumatic incident of mine regarding my dad as the delivery guys showed up with my new refrigerator or right before I went in for a crown. She bombarded me with my trauma/problems at times where I was already under a high amount of stress with no consideration with what I was going through at the time. I did not want to talk about some of my most traumatic moments in life as a delivery man was about ready to ring my bell or as I was freaking out about my dental appointment.

Not only that, but my mom has had my brother Matt over last weekend and will this weekend as well. That is okay, I said once a month is fine to have him at my house. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is her babying him. It’s my house and it is hard to feel comfortable in it with her here because she doesn’t always like the things I do. She doesn’t like my music or some of the shows I like to watch. She doesn’t like it when other people come over. I know I should have more of the attitude of this is my house and my life and I am living it the way I want to. Too bad if you don’t like it. I have no idea how long she is planning on staying either. I find myself getting very annoyed about these things and I have been trying hard to say something so it doesn’t bother me, but sometimes it does.

Her anxiety is through the roof. She wants me to take her to the ER when she feels very anxious. She wants to quit taking her medication. She has had several serious adverse reactions to medications. Then an ER doctor prescribed her a medication for anxiety that could cause irreversible dementia in elderly patients. I have to question what the hell they are thinking. Some nights my mom only gets an hour or so of sleep at night. After several days of that, she is a mess. She doesn’t want to take the meds that could cause dementia and I don’t blame her for that. The nurse put my mom on a new anxiety med and after several sleepless nights she wanted to quit taking it because it could cause insomnia. I told my mom that she needs to keep taking it and that she already had insomnia before taking it. So now when she wants to go to the ER or quit taking her medication, I tell her to call her doctor’s office first if she doesn’t want to listen to me. It has been all very frustrating for me.

A couple of days ago, after several nights of severe insomnia, my mom gave my son Alex money to go to the smoke shop to buy some CBD gummies that a friend of my son told her about. My son brought back a couple of gummies. One of the labels was so small I couldn’t even read it with a magnifying glass. My mom popped a couple of gummies and tried to go to sleep.

The next morning my mom was not up when I got up. I almost had a panic attack myself. What was I thinking having her take a couple of gummies from a product from a smoke shop where I couldn’t even read the label? My God, what if she was dead? Should I go in and check on her? She had an appointment that morning. What should I do? I thought long and hard about what it would be like if my mom were to die under my care. She is an adult and can do what she wants, but I would feel some responsibility for her and so would my son if something went wrong. We don’t know what we are doing, but do the doctors that she is seeing? They push her on through and give her some nasty meds that could be habit forming and cause dementia. Seriously, is that the best that science has to offer?

I think after worrying that my mother was dead I was able to change my perspective a little. I’m not as annoyed. I have more compassion. I have to be honest and genuine with myself and her. I was able to see my therapist this past week and she said having my mother live with us was an opportunity for me to heal. This could be a special time together to mend some wounds and find some sort of closure before she is no longer with us. I now have the opportunity to say everything I wanted to say. It is not too late. I have to keep that in mind when I am frustrated.

Gratitude week 69

  1. I’m grateful that my tattoo healed nicely.
  2. I’m grateful that I can now swim again. I had to wait while my tattoo healed. So basically I did not exercise at all since my tattoo. The weather has been cool and crappy. It even snowed a little since last week so I didn’t want to run outside. Plus I was busy taking my mom to appointments. I’m hoping for a better weather week and finding the time to exercise.
  3. Breakfast with my BFF.
  4. A mother-daughter date with Angel to go thrifting. I didn’t find anything too terribly exciting but it was nice to get away.
  5. My brother Matt came over for the weekend. Although I stressed about it, things went better than expected. It was nice to take some time to myself so I don’t go absolutely crazy.
  6. For rides on the 4-wheeler with my husband while he does the spring clean up on the yard.
  7. That my daughter Arabella seems to be making a lot of progress in residential treatment.
  8. This is a big one…I’m grateful that I survived getting a crown this week with minimal pain. I had laughing gas for the first time. Can you believe that instead of laughing I cried? I’m grateful for a dentist and assistant that went out of their way to be compassionate towards my history of experiencing dental pain and trying to make me comfortable through the process.
  9. The things I was really stressing about this month, the tattoo and crown, are over. I’m grateful for the relief that I feel that the fear is behind me.
  10. I’m grateful that my mom, Paul, and I were able to play a game last night. Things have been incredibly stressful since my mom moved in so it was nice to have a break from the heaviness.

Gratitude week 68

  1. Clean sheets!
  2. We finally got our new refrigerator delivered.
  3. I was finally able to find two vintage paintings to complete the set at our cabin up north. The paintings of the father and son have been on the wall for decades and we spent many decades searching for the mother and daughter. I finally found them. It will make for a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for my mom.
  4. On the flip side, I decided to sell my road bike and found a buyer two days after listing it.
  5. I am grateful for some time away from the house to have a cook out with friends.
  6. I’m grateful that my tattoo is healing better than I expected.
  7. I’m grateful that my husband has been really helpful and patient with my mom since she moved in. It’s been a huge adjustment but I am glad that she is starting on a journey of healing.
  8. I am thankful that warmer weather is on the horizon. It did snow a little after my last gratitude writing. It’s been dreary, windy, and cool which doesn’t do much to lift my spirits. But hey, it’s been easier to keep my tattoo out of the sun when it’s not shining.
  9. I’m grateful that my daughter is learning a lot of skills at residential.
  10. I’m grateful that I washed my windows and that job is over. Now we are ready for the warm weather. I even got out my spring clothes and got rid of clothing that I don’t wear anymore. It always feels good to spruce up the house and get rid of stuff.

Gratitude week 67

  1. I’m grateful for a best friend who brought me a bouquet of flowers on Easter.
  2. I’m grateful that I didn’t chicken out and was able to cross getting a tattoo off my bucket list. This is something I was really anxious about. I was tempted to cancel the appointment. The tattoo artist was running late which also increased my anxiety. But it wasn’t all that painful. Going to the dentist for a cleaning is a lot worse. Maybe it was the release of endorphins, but the rest of the day I felt peaceful and calm, almost euphoric. The process didn’t take as long as I expected. My arm isn’t a big painful oozing pus open wound. To me it looks like I put on one of those sticker tattoos. I am in relatively no pain at all. A cartilage piercing was a lot more painful. So, the whole process went a lot better than I could’ve ever expected.
  3. I’m grateful that my son’s band is getting back together again. Someday soon I will get to see him play again.
  4. My mom is moving in with us today. I’m grateful that she seems to be on the path of healing. I’m still uncertain what this process will look like. I am rather apprehensive about the whole thing. Everything happened so suddenly that my head is still spinning. But this can be a good thing.
  5. Just an hour or two after my mom asked to move in, Paul’s step-dad Darryl stopped by out of the blue. He brought his new girlfriend, or should I say fiancĂ© as they got engaged the day they stopped by. Although it was only the second time I saw her, I think they will be happy together.
  6. I saw my cranial sacral/massage therapist this past week to help me relax before the tattoo. I’m grateful for other people that help me along on my own personal healing journey.
  7. I’m grateful that the grass turned green again.
  8. I’m grateful for change even when I say I am not. Sometimes I get bored of the same old routines.
  9. I’m grateful to have had a wonderful grandma to remember. Today would’ve been her birthday.
  10. I’m grateful for the good things in my life when I’m going through hard times.