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.

The daughter

Romantic films have happy endings. In real life only the beginnings are happy and nothing ends well. But then, nothing really ends.

The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

I picked up the book The Daughter at the airport in Chicago as I was waiting for my flight. I brought a book with me but almost finished it on the long layover. I bought the book because it looked intriguing. I know, I know, one should never choose a book by its cover. I didn’t know the author. How risky!

The main character of this fictional book was a physician whose daughter went missing. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t. I’ll just tell you that I really liked it and think you would like it too. It struck some heavy chords such as if I wasn’t so busy at work I would’ve known something was wrong with my daughter.

Blame. It’s so easy to get into that trap as a parent. I’ve asked myself many of times what I did wrong. Maybe if I was paying more attention I would’ve known my daughter was depressed. Maybe she wouldn’t have tried to kill herself. Maybe she wouldn’t have mutilated her body so badly from cutting that she needs plastic surgery to look like she did before. But maybe, just maybe, I am part of the reason she is alive right now.

It’s hard not to blame yourself as a parent in the transition from everything’s normal to there is something really wrong. It’s easier to brush it off as a one off even though the patterns indicate it’s clearly not. We tend to trick ourselves into believing everything is fine and blame ourselves later when it’s obviously not.

At the end of the book I read the write up on the author. She is currently a full-time physician and mother of five. In her free time she went back to school to get a Master’s degree in writing and wrote a couple of books, one is a bestseller that I didn’t read yet. How impressive is that?? The author has a brilliant mind and it comes through in her writing. I loved the above quote from her book. Her quote pretty much sums up why I don’t like romance novels. Sometimes life is messy and things don’t work out in the end. I read a book a couple of months back that was a real mess but everything magically worked out in the end. I hated it because it offered false hope and not real life.

My favorite genre of books are psychological thrillers, mysteries, and dramas. I love reading self-help books too because who doesn’t want to fix themselves and everyone around them?!? I also love the classics, historical books, and survival stories fictional and non.

I don’t always want a happy ending. I want real characters and personable honest people. What are you really thinking and experiencing? I want problem upon problem. I want to know how people handle adversity. I don’t want things to magically work out in the end. I don’t know about you, but that is not how my life has been. I want to analyze how people deal with difficult circumstances. I want to know about the things you don’t want to tell anybody.

I finished my book that I was writing. It’s been over a year now. I even sent it off to test readers. But things changed. Since then I found out about the crime my dad committed. My daughter started struggling with serious mental health issues. I was no longer constrained to writing about my experiences as a sibling of someone with serious mental health issues. I could now write as a mother.

I am hoping to process everything I’ve experienced within the past year and write about it on my blog. From there I would like to incorporate it into the first edition of my book. To me it’s not all about happy endings, it’s about learning to live with what we have been given. There is beauty to be found in tragedy. That is where real stories of hope, courage, and inspiration lie.

Gratitude week 60

  1. I’m grateful that the arctic blast (two weeks of subzero temps) is now over!!!!
  2. With all the snow on the ground and the departure of the bitterly cold weather, I am able to exercise outside. I went snowshoeing this morning and am planning on going cross country skiing later this week. This is the first time I have been out this season.
  3. I’m grateful that my daughter’s frogs should be able to eat crickets now that it is warmer out. With the snowstorms and cold weather, the shipments for crickets has been severely delayed or the crickets arrive dead. After my daughter’s pets went a whole week without eating because we couldn’t find crickets anywhere, my husband bought some fishing worms for them so they didn’t starve. Yeah again for warmer weather!!
  4. My appointment with the wellness nurse went very well this past week. I graduated!! Yeah, I only need to go in once a year now. I went from having acid reflux, colitis, multiple parasites, SIBO, and over 20 food allergies to being back to a state of good health. Today the clinic called and asked if I would be willing to give a testimonial. I told them absolutely!
  5. I had lunch with my friend Jen this past week. I was kind of embarrassed though because I always order the same thing and the waitress joked with me that she didn’t even need to bring a menu because that’s what I always order. So much for being a wallflower!
  6. Paul and I went to our sailing club cruise planning meeting. Nothing feels better than getting out my calendar and scheduling the summer. We have some fun trips planned and are planning on crossing Lake Michigan for the first time in our sailboat.
  7. My daughter Angel and I spent the day together on Saturday. We went out to eat and had pizza at a restaurant that offers gluten and dairy free options. The pizza I chose was absolutely amazing. Afterwards we had vegan ice cream, again it was amazing. Then we spent the rest of the day thrift shopping. My big find was a murder mystery game that I haven’t played before. Once things settle down I’ll have to host a murder. I’ll also have to find a tape player as some of the clues are on cassette tape.
  8. My mom got her second COVID shot this past week. We have plans to visit the spa in a couple days. It will be nice to be able to visit with her again. Hopefully a lot of her fears will be put to rest.
  9. I just finished a wonderful book call The Daughter. I’m grateful to find a new author that I like. There is a quote from the book that I want to post later this week that I thought was profound.
  10. I am grateful for the opportunity to document my life mainly through writing but also through photography. I’m excited about starting the series regarding having a teenager with mental health struggles. Talking about my dad and now my daughter has been very challenging for me. But I know how beneficial writing has been in my healing journey and I am hoping that by doing so I can reach others who are also struggling with similar circumstances.

Gratitude week 50

  1. My husband got his braces off this week. Now too bad he has to wear a mask…
  2. I’m grateful for a warm fire on a cold day.
  3. I’m grateful for pajama days.
  4. I’m grateful for my new followers (and the ones who have stuck with me for awhile).
  5. I’m grateful that I was able to do a lot of writing this week. It’s been a rough week emotionally though. I’m not sure if it is because I’ve been thinking and writing about things a lot…or that this time of year is triggering…or a massive amount of stress…or that we are not getting together with family for the holidays this year. But here I am with the hope that things will get better…
  6. I’m grateful for my husband’s work Christmas party tomorrow so I have a reason to get dressed up and polish my nails. It’s hard to want to look nice when so many plans have been cancelled. It’s like, why bother? Pajama day every day…well not quite but you know what I mean.
  7. I’m grateful for Christmas lights.
  8. I’m grateful for my grandparents. Today it’s been 20 years since my grandpa passed away. 20 YEARS! I lit some candles for him and told my kids a few stories about him.
  9. I’m thankful that my son installed some sort of music app on my computer. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make my own music. I’m thankful that my kids can help show me how to use it because it seems very challenging.
  10. I grateful for a really good appointment this past week with my counselor.

Dangerous addresses, part 4

I found myself asking how much my life was worth.

Sometimes when feeling down I found myself teetering on the fence between life and death. Will I choose hope or despair? There is a reckless courage when you find yourself in that place.

But when pressed, when my life was in danger, it showed me how much I wanted to live. I had to continue on the path to hope, healing, and growth even during the moments I wanted to say screw it all.

As my time with the census came to an end, they were looking for people willing to travel. I said I would be willing to go to the furthest north woods of Wisconsin. Yes, it could be very dangerous. It was very remote with limited cell phone coverage. Heroin is a big problem in some dead end towns. Wandering into a property illegally growing marijuana. Dangerous. Wild animals. Finding bathrooms. It was an adventure I was up for.

I awaited my instructions to travel, but they never came. Instead, I got a call about travelling to Milwaukee. Now that is a different kind of dangerous. This year alone Milwaukee surpassed the highest annual homicide rate ever recorded. Unfortunately, this year isn’t even over yet.

I turned it down.

My supervisor said that another employee went, an African American woman. She was sent to such a horrible neighborhood that she was utterly terrified and asked if she could come back home. I think I made the right call.

They were looking for census employees to go to Detroit, Kenosha, and Atlanta as well. It takes a special (or should I say crazy) person to do the census especially in dangerous unfamiliar places.

If I had the chance, would I choose to do it all over again? Absolutely! Will I work the 2030 census? Probably not.

Gratitude week 38

  1. It’s been one of those weeks and I’m glad it is over. Nothing major, but sometimes it’s the little things. My son got his exhaust fixed on his car and a few days later the exhaust is loud again and a headlight burnt out. But I’m thankful that all my kids have vehicles that for the most part work so I don’t have to take them to work or school.
  2. Honestly, I’m grateful that the census job is almost over. It’s been stressful lately. I’ve been going to rough neighborhoods that I have been having difficulty closing cases in. Yesterday as I was walking through a neighborhood a man yelled at me to leave. I’ve been feeling quite anxious lately and I think an overall sense of not being safe is adding to that. It bothers me to see the living conditions of the children. Filthy apartment complexes with signs on the doors saying its recently been sprayed for roaches. Garbage littering, broken beer bottles shattered, and a haze of stale cigarette and pot smoke lingering in worn apartment hallways. Today as I was working several young unattended children came up to me and asked me if I had any quarters for them. It’s really quite heartbreaking. I also saw a woman walking around on a busy street in a bathrobe. Oh, all the stories I will write about the things I saw that will change my life.
  3. I’m grateful though for all the wonderful people I met through the census job. It gives me hope that humanity is not totally screwed despite people having to live through tough circumstances.
  4. I’m grateful that despite windy conditions Paul and I were able to take my cousin and her husband sailing. We haven’t seen each other in about 5 years at the family Christmas party. Even then we really didn’t have the chance to catch up and visit. Plus she works in the editing field and wants me to reach out when I am ready to publish my book.
  5. My daughter is moving home at the end of the week!
  6. Paul’s birthday is this week and it is the 25th anniversary of the day we met. I am renting a really nice hotel room where my daughter lives to celebrate then the next day we are moving her home.
  7. We are supposed to get some warm weather within the next couple of days. It’s been so chilly here that I’ve heard some people put on their heat. Not me! But I did break down and briefly wore my winter jacket outside.
  8. I am feeling a lot better. I had a couple of bad days of stomach cramps and nausea. I was worried that I might end up really sick with colitis again. I felt pretty miserable. Miserable enough to ask God to just let me die. Please Lord take my life because I can’t take it anymore. I still managed to somehow stumble to work. As I was getting ready for work, Paul came in to tell me he was having chest pains that radiated down his arm. What a sad lot we are! He figured out he wasn’t having the big one but just pulled a muscle. When I asked God to take away my life I didn’t mean Paul. In that moment I felt really grateful for Paul because who really knows how much time we have left. That’s the scary part about getting older. Someday all of this is going to end. We are starting to get reminders of that.
  9. I’m grateful I managed to find the time to finish the book I was reading. It was probably one of the most depressing pieces of fictional family drama that I ever read. Everything fell apart but in the end everyone and everything miraculously came back together. All broken relationships were mended. I found the book to be rather triggering. It made me think of the book I’m writing. There are plenty of messes that don’t seem to be resolving themselves. It was so sad reading it that I wondered what people would think reading my book. Too bad I couldn’t just write it with a happy ending. I want the feel good book of the year. I want people to feel good about what I write. But is that real life? Does it give hope when things magically come together? Or does it give more hope that we can handle things when they don’t?
  10. I got some good test results back this past week and I am meeting with the wellness nurse this week. Despite a couple days of setback, I am hoping that my path forward will include better health.

Gratitude week 15

  1. It’s Easter! Although this is probably the first Easter that I didn’t go to church, it was one of the most enjoyable. We colored eggs while watching church online. We have the technology to do amazing things. Plus I didn’t have to dress up or anything.
  2.  And more compliments on my hair.
  3.  Clara was able to travel safely back home to Germany where she was reunited with her family.
  4.  We have been getting cards in the mail from friends and family telling us how special we are to them. It really means a lot.
  5.  I have been digging out memory boxes from storage from our wedding and when the kids were little. It brings back many happy times that I’ve almost forgotten.
  6.  A huge snowstorm is making its way through Wisconsin and it looks like it might miss us.
  7.  Life has gotten a lot quieter and less rushed. I like it more that way. When this whole isolation thing is over I might examine how busy I want my life to be going forward. It has given us the opportunity to look at what we want to keep or get rid of.
  8.  I am thankful for self-awareness.
  9.  I am thankful that all of my friends and family are healthy and safe.
  10.  I am grateful that today I am making the most out of the situation we find ourselves in. Although it doesn’t feel like Easter, or spring, we can take what we have and make the best of it.

Gratitude week 14

  1. And another compliment on my hair that one time I needed to leave the house.
  2.  Gas prices that almost remind me of my college days. Now if we could only go somewhere. But think of all the money we are saving by not.
  3.  Although I didn’t receive the news I wanted, my test results came back much earlier than expected at the wellness clinic. I just started a new medicine and don’t feel as bad as I thought I would. It’s slow going but at least I am moving forward.
  4.  Clara is going to be reunited with her parents in Germany, but I am very sad to see her go. Hopefully someday we will be able to visit her.
  5.  I don’t know anyone that tested positive for the coronavirus so far.
  6.  The weather has been nice the last couple of days.
  7.  We threw Clara a good-bye ‘party’ making her favorite foods and doing some of the things she enjoyed the most here. I even shaved my legs, did my nails, took a shower, and wore jeans and makeup.
  8.  Paul and I have been fighting a lot. We are at the point of working things out or going our separate ways. Today I am feeling a little more hopeful things might work out.
  9.  We were able to get our broken TV fixed.
  10.  We finally said good-bye to the month of March!

New year, knew me

It’s a new year and I can see clearly now that it is 2020. Literally! After I wrote the post about getting a sliver underneath my fingernail, the next day I went to the eye doctor. I am now sitting on the couch writing this post wearing my new bifocals. BIFOCALS!!

Seriously, I feel so old. The only thing that could make me feel older now is being a grandparent or having a child get married. My daughter Angel did not get a ring for Christmas. Okay, that might not exactly be truthful. My daughter did get a ring through her nose. She got a botched piercing the week of Christmas and ended up having to get it re-pierced this week. But nothing from her boyfriend.

I’m not going to lie, 2019 was a really tough year. I’m glad to say good riddance to it. Just a quick recap..I started the year off losing my job. I had a very important piece of jewelry stolen from me. I found my ring in the pant pocket of my son Alex’s friend while I was doing his laundry since he was practically living with us. We said he was no longer welcome here. We were worried about our son graduating from high school. Thankfully he did.

Then we had a nice break sailing with friends in the BVI. There was some smooth sailing. The year didn’t totally suck!

My daughter left home for good. Although Angel was away at college, she always came home over summer and holiday breaks. My baby got her driver’s license. We decided to fill our emptying nest with two foreign exchange students. It’s been an adjustment going from two to four teenagers in the house.

My husband and I had some marriage issues over the summer. We were arguing a lot. For the first time in 22 years of marriage, I wondered if things weren’t going to work out. Thankfully we are both willing to work on things and it has improved.

I also had some health issues and watched close family members struggle with ill health as well. I ended up having to go dairy free and give up my favorite foods and drinks from allergies. This has been a real struggle for me. Despite not feeling the best, I finished my first 50k and plan to do another this year.

My husband’s hours got drastically cut at work and he started a new business. We are uncertain about our finances. I applied for a job working for the census and my husband might apply for another job as well.

Most recently, my dad really screwed up. The PG version I am telling the children in our house is that grandpa and grandma might get a divorce. What really happened is more of an X rated version for a mature audience. I can’t really talk about it right now. The only people that know the full story are my husband and adult children.

In 2019, I finished my book. I got a lot of great feedback from the test readers. They both loved it (and also wanted to give me a lot of hugs and play dolls with me).

I hope that in 2020 I’ll have a clear vision for my life. I want to find meaning and purpose. Finding peace and joy would be an added bonus. I haven’t had a lot of that in my life. What I want more than anything is to keep writing. The funny thing is that I never wanted to write more than one book.

I have been struggling a lot lately over the holidays with depression. This whole situation with my parents has really been getting me down. Since Thanksgiving, I’ve hosted five parties. This weekend I’ll be hosting the foreign exchange student Christmas party. There will be somewhere around 30 people at my house that I don’t even know. I will be happy when it is all over. Having large groups of people over makes me feel stressed and anxious. It’s the cleaning, the cooking, and the cleaning again after everyone leaves and everything in between.

I don’t think it would be a big deal if I wasn’t already so stressed out about my parents. Then when nothing is going on, I feel bored and depressed. It’s not like I have nothing to do, it’s just that I don’t feel like doing anything.

I haven’t wanted to write a lot over the holiday time because I have been feeling so low. I think the holidays should be a happy time. I was rather disgusted with myself for being the Debbie downer, the victim, the person who’s life sucks although I have been blessed with so many things. It’s been very difficult to write about. It’s easier to write about past pains than the raw, fresh, gushing gashing wounds.

It’s my time of grief and sorrow. It’s just a season that I hope doesn’t last too long. But the clock keeps ticking. I wish with the changing of the calendar year that it would just end like the turning of a page. I don’t think it will end anytime soon, but it will end eventually.

New year, knew me.

Being weeded

The end of the week was just as strange as the beginning of the week. I don’t think I want anymore signs.

I’ve been struggling this week searching for purpose and meaning. I’ve been depressed and clinging dearly to life by a small cobweb string. There have been fights and arguments. There was one where I pried off my wedding ring just to chuck it at my husband. Maybe we should separate. Maybe we should divorce.

Most of our friends have already been divorced. Some live with another and never remarry. Some are on their second or third marriages. They seem so happy. Sometimes it seems so much easier to throw everything you have away and start all over again.

This week we will be married 22 years and lately it has been more difficult than it has been before. We let our children become the center of our lives and have to learn to live with each other again. We don’t know what we are doing. We had a newborn on our first anniversary.

This week our baby got her driver’s license, first try. I honestly didn’t think she would pass. While she was taking the test, I was already thinking about when she could retake it.

My husband got his hours cut at the business we sold. He is only going to be paid for 12 hours a week. That has been very stressful. We should be okay with the money we saved up. Tomorrow morning, however, Paul is planning on signing papers to become a franchise owner of a new business. He wants us to work together again. Most of the arguments were about me not working. Although I am almost done with my book, I had to set it down for awhile because I promised myself if I got really depressed that I would set it aside.

We decided to keep working on our marriage and to go after our dreams. If it doesn’t work out we could always do something else. We have to trust that things will fall into place.

Paul and I had a good day together yesterday, but things gradually fell apart. Arabella had a friend over, went to drive her home, and had the windows fog up but didn’t know how to defrost the windshield. I kept my ringer on just in case she needed more help. Most nights I turn my ringer off before I go to bed. I’m a light sleeper and figure my adult children can take care of themselves.

I was tired, but left my phone on and stayed up late. I received a call from Alex saying that his car broke down and needed towing. We just had it at the garage the day before, but they said what he needed fixing is very expensive. The body of the car dropped to the ground and he can’t drive it unless it is fixed. He was distraught that he now has two cars that don’t run.

He asked what the meaning of life was if it only brought suffering and pain to himself and the people he cares about. I told him he has a purpose and his job in life is to find that purpose. Don’t listen to the thoughts in your head that tell you that you are worthless. Don’t be discouraged, yet at times I am.

Now we are waiting to see if the car is worth fixing or if it is beyond repair. We got home late last night, around 1 AM. We were ready for bed when my phone rang again. My daughter Angel was calling. Her friends took her out for her 21st birthday. She was rather intoxicated and called to tell me she loved me. I talked to her for awhile, but she wasn’t making much sense. At the end of the call, her boyfriend Dan came on the phone and assured me not to worry that he would get my daughter back home safe.

I knew she was going out. I did worry especially since I wasn’t sure if Dan was going because he had a funeral to attend on the other side of the state earlier in the day. His uncle died in a freak accident trying to clean up after the storm that hit.

As I was ready to finally go to bed around 1:30, my mom texted and said she got safely to her vacation destination out of the country. She wanted me to call my dad because he doesn’t text and it was expensive to call. I called my dad today. At the end of the conversation, he told me he loved me for the second time in my entire life.

I went in the house to eat lunch with Paul and a song was on I never heard that said you’re being weeded.

Although I’ve been having a faith crisis, I’ve been still going to church because I am able to find some serenity there. Last week there was a sermon about how the weeds are planted alongside the good seeds. But if you pluck the weeds too soon, the plant will also be uprooted and die. But at the right time, the weeds will be pulled out and the plant can flourish and grow like never before.

I think I’m being weeded.