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.

Goal 3: Start the process of writing a book

For a very long time, I was angry about the things that happened to me in my childhood. Why did my family struggle so much when other families had it all together? I think it was a miracle to survive with most of my sanity intact.

What is the purpose of struggle? What are we supposed to do with what we have been through?? Personally, I believe by successfully surviving my obligation is to reach out and help others going through similar circumstances. I have always felt this way but I was never sure how to do it.

Blogging has been a wonderful way to process my experiences in life honestly. But I found it to be lacking. I don’t feel like I have been able to reach my target audience so to say. They haven’t found me and I haven’t found them either. Maybe there are few that can relate to my life story. Where is everybody? Why aren’t you writing about it? Maybe it just takes a long time to process it like it did for me.

I told myself that once I retired I would write my story. I always put it off into some future place. Then I found myself without a job.

I’ve tried to find books even other blogs of people out their with similar stories and found nothing. How can there be a void? Nothing?? I decided that I am going to be the one to write the story. I don’t think that it will be easy, but I do think it will be worthwhile.

I am going to write the story of a sibling growing up in the 1980’s with a violent autistic brother. This was a time when autism wasn’t an epidemic. This was a time of very limited services. This was a time where my mother was blamed for his violent behavior. This was the time where I was expected to give up my childhood to be a caregiver. I also had two other younger siblings and an abusive father which will be woven into the story.

So I will be processing more journals from my childhood in the weeks to come and compiling everything together to start the process.

I also have some exciting news. My new friend Sue, who is a child psychologist that works with autistic children specifically, put me in touch with someone from her agency. I will be meeting with this person at the end of the month. I have been asked to be put on a panel as a sibling to work with parents. I don’t have all of the details yet, but I feel like this is a huge step forward in being able to help others who are going through what I have been through.

I am very excited about where this could lead even if I am only able to help one person through my experiences. Struggle does have a purpose, I just needed to find mine.

 

 

Goal 2: Spiritual growth

As I mentioned recently, a few months ago we left our church and started attending a new church. I noticed my ruby ring was stolen the morning I left to go to church right before Christmas. The following Sunday we sang a song stating that God was the God of miracles. I thought in my head, yeah I believe in God, but I don’t believe in miracles anymore. I was seeing more tragedy around me than restoration. Even in my own life recently, a precious gift from my mother was stolen.

We didn’t know who took the ring, we just knew that it was missing. We allowed my son’s friend back into our lives after I got a lock box for the remaining precious gems. We didn’t think it was the friend that took the ring. We honestly thought it was another boy whose mother told me that her son stole from her. This second boy was in our house over the time that the ring went missing along with the first.

We took the first boy back into our house. We told him that we trusted him. But through our misguided trust, I started treating him like he belonged here again. I cooked for him and did his laundry. It was through this act of trust that I discovered my stolen ring in his pocket when I was doing his laundry. A miracle occurred. I never thought I would get my ring back and I never thought I would catch the person who did it.

After talking to my son about the betrayal of his friend, I sent a message to the other boy’s mother telling her that the ring had been found. I couldn’t imagine the agony of thinking that my child victimized another parent, a friend.

A miracle happened, but I no longer believed in miracles. I didn’t trust God. Instead I put my trust in someone that intended to hurt me. How bizarre is that!?

I was betrayed by someone I considered to be a best friend many years ago too. But hey, so was Jesus. Right? I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. If I didn’t trust the boy, I never would’ve gotten my ring back. I learned a lot in the process.

I am a pretty good person. I live with few regrets. I’ve been hurt more than I have hurt others. I’ve even read the Bible from cover to cover, but I’ve never truly trusted God before. I wanted to do things my way. I wanted to be in control.

Then yesterday a big miracle occurred. A most precious gem was stolen, a child by the name of Jayme Closs. She is a 13 year old girl in our state of Wisconsin that was kidnapped after her parents were brutally murdered. She was missing for almost 3 months without a trace. Just gone. Yesterday she was found. ALIVE!! What a miracle!

I no longer believed in miracles, but I do now.

Now I have to wonder…What more can God do??

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Aren’t miracles precious and beautiful? Are you looking for a miracle in your life??

Lost, but found

A miracle happened today.

The year of 2018 was probably the biggest year of change in my life. I’m going to spend the next couple of days talking about change, future goals, what have you with the introduction of the new year.

But as of today, a miracle happened.

One change that happened in 2018 was that my son’s best friend, the boy with the face tattoo, got kicked out of his house. In June we bought a bigger house and pretty much right after that, the boy moved in. We talked about having him live here full-time as a foster child. Paul and I were talking with him about getting his face tattoo removed, helping him finish high school and get a job, and working with him on getting his license. We were making him meals and doing his laundry.

There were signs that were unsettling, but we ignored them. After my ruby ring was stolen, we were convinced it wasn’t him. I bought a lock box for my valuables and within a week the boy was living with us again. We told Alex we trusted the boy. Alex’s relief over this was visible. He was Alex’s best friend since the early grade school years. We just didn’t believe he would steal from us since we have been doing everything we can to help him through a hard time.

This morning I found my lost ruby ring. It was a miracle since I never expected to see it again! But I found it in the pants pocket of the boy with the face tattoo when I was doing his laundry. I felt a great elation and sadness. My ring has been returned to me, but my son’s best friend stole the ring. He will never be allowed in our house again. I haven’t told my son yet and this is really going to be hard on him.

Why did we ignore the early warning signs?

This past year we also left our church which we have been members of for 10 years. There were signs over the last several months that it was no longer the right place for us. It took something big to finally get us to leave. Now we found a new church that is a better fit for us.

I think that most people know when something is over. I think we knew, but we didn’t do anything. We tolerated instead of taking action. Why does it take something big to move us from something we know?

For me personally, there has been so much change in the last year that I have been trying to avoid change. I have been clinging to everything that I have known and watching as it slips away. But sometimes change is for the better. I have to trust that God has a better plan for my life. I have to learn how to let go. I need to know when it is time to let go (before something valuable is stolen). There is also a price for not accepting change. I didn’t really realize that until now.

To be honest, I feel a tremendous amount of relief. I have the tendency to be overly responsible and want to fix things. Having the boy here was a big burden for me. I wanted to save him. I wanted to take the bird with the broken wing into my nest. I wanted to do something even his own mother was unwilling to do. Now it is over.

I got my ring back and that truly is a miracle!

 

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #3

Even the toughest of days have bright spots, just do your best.

Life.

There is always darkness and light, morning and night.

But some days seem so dark that we cannot see the path in front of us.

Then for a brief moment the clouds part and a bright light pierces through illuminating the way.

A ray of hope…

Things won’t always be this way forever.

Some days it takes everything we have just to plod down the path.

But if we do our best, it is always good enough.

Be certain, we can’t truly appreciate the good days unless we’ve had a few bad days too.

The sign

A couple of weeks back the doubting Thomas in me asked for a sign…and God delivered..

The story really starts a few days after my doubting post. Paul flew out of a small town airport after visiting with our daughter Angel. He had two connecting flights from there to get to his destination. Each layover was an hour long. He almost missed his second flight. The third flight was considerably delayed due to bad weather from a hurricane.

Paul was in much thought and prayer about this trip. He was going to a business meeting that would require making a decision that he was unsure about…one that could have a big impact on our future. After the third flight was delayed, Paul sat down at the airport bar and struck a conversation with the man sitting next to him. The man started talking about recently being faced with the same decision that Paul was contemplating. Unbeknownst to the stranger, he was an answer to prayer.

Paul did not think that the meeting with the stranger in the airport was a coincidence. He decided to take the fork in the road. I really can’t go into the details at this point…but I can say that having an answer has been freeing…a burden lifted.

The following day, I spoke with my mom on the phone. She told me that my brother Luke wanted to step up as the future guardian of my brother Matt. I instantly felt free. A lifetime of being my brother’s keeper…gone. The chains of being my brother’s lifelong caregiver…broken. The weight of a heavy burden…lifted.

I only have 3 1/2 years of parenting left. Then I only have to be responsible for me.

I feel like a caged bird that has been set free. It’s not that I will leave my cage, but that I can. I will no longer be trapped. For the first time I feel like I can fly unfettered. I never thought that this would be possible.

I kept thinking over the past few weeks that if God can take care of the birds, why can’t He take care of me??

Maybe I am asking too much, but please give me a sign…I’m worried that I have to do this whole life thing alone..

In church on Sunday, a duet sang His Eye is on the Sparrow…The lyrics of the hymn echoed through my mind…I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me..

But I still didn’t get the message until I turned to the last few pages of the bulletin. There was a picture of a bird with a message that said something like…listen and you will hear God speaking..

Matthew 6:26-27   If I just remember this, I feel better.

I finally saw the sign…God does care about me. I might not know where He is leading, but I know that I won’t be traveling alone.

 

 

Not a special Olympics type of story

For many the holiday season triggers memories of joy and happiness. For me, this time of year triggers some sort of post traumatic stress response. I realize that now. Wow, and it only took me 19 years to figure it out after I earned a degree in psychology.

I feel like I am back to normal now, whatever that is..

For the first time in my life, I was able to write down exactly how I felt while I was going through it. It wasn’t easy to relate. I think I have some sort of post traumatic stress response to certain triggers. It sounds absolutely crazy, I know. Most of the time triggers elicit a response of depression for a day or two at most.

I think this happens more often than I realize, but not quite as severe.

After I left my childhood home, I fell into a deep depression that lasted for several years. I also picked up anger and anxiety to put in my baggage along the way.

I don’t blame anyone for what happened.

I remember starting to feel angry last week at Thanksgiving when my mom was giving me a hard time about taking Prilosec for my acid reflux. She really wants me to get allergy testing and offered to pay for it. I have been reluctant. It’s not that I disagree, it triggered memories of growing up.

Matt was supposedly allergic to everything. We couldn’t even have cars parked in the garage because of exhaust fumes. We couldn’t have curtains because of the formaldehyde. For awhile we weren’t allowed to use toothpaste.

Personally, I think that my mother’s response was too extreme. She would have extreme anxiety if Matt was exposed to any allergens. She would scream at my dad if he came in the house smelling like exhaust fumes. She called the nearby farmers and screamed at them if they sprayed their fields without calling her first. She even called the county and yelled at them when they came by spraying the ditches.

My mom seemed to think that controlling Matt’s environment would stop him from being violently autistic. But nothing seemed to stop his violence towards himself and others, namely me.

I think that my mother has and always had good intentions. She is worried that I will die from kidney failure, a supposed side effect from the Prilosec. I will have to tell her that my daughter Angel has already offered me her kidney when mine fails.

My mom was always there for me when I was a kid. She was the one who helped me pick up the pieces of my broken mind after Matt was violent. She also helped my brother Mark out when he experienced a similar response to mine. The task she was given was not easy to do.

I don’t blame my dad, despite his cruelty. He was as much of a victim as the rest of us.

I don’t even blame Matt. If you met Matt today, you wouldn’t believe a word I have told you. He is now docile. By some miracle, he grew out of his violence.

The last time that he hurt someone was 14 years ago. He attacked Angel on her 4th birthday. After he attacked Angel, it was a time of great emotional turmoil for me. I cut Matt out of my life completely for a few years. He wasn’t allowed around my children.

His psychiatrist threatened to have him committed to a place for the violently mentally ill. It was one thing when a child was hurting other children, but it was entirely different when a grown man was attacking children. In response to this, Matt was home bound once again and kept out of public where he could hurt someone and get committed.

I was already feeling edgy about my mom pushing the allergy testing on Thursday. Then my visit with my dying mother-in-law on Saturday made me very anxious. Then the sadness over Angel going back to college and the trigger of the Christmas tree was enough to set me off into this deep dark spiral downward.

I feel horrible about talking to you about this. I wish I had a great special Olympics type special needs sibling story to tell you. I feel tremendous guilt that I don’t.

I haven’t met anyone else who has had a similar experience to mine. If you are out there somewhere, I want to tell you that there is hope. This was the only thing that kept me alive as a teenager and young adult. I prayed fervently and had hope that someday there would be a better life for me where I could experience joy.

I firmly believe that you cannot fully experience joy without experiencing sorrow. I have found that joy in abundance. I experience life at a much deeper level than I think I would have if my life was easy breezy. No small talk here, just the blatant honest truth. There is value in being able to honestly share the sorrow that I experienced this week. I need to accept what I have been through and the emotions that accompany it.

There is hope! If opening myself up and allowing myself to be vulnerable helps just one person hold on for another day, it would be worth it. You are not alone! There is hope…

Trust that tomorrow will be a better day.

 

7. What is your dream job?

7. What is your dream job, and why?

When I was younger, quite a bit younger, I wanted to be a counselor. I earned a Bachelor’s degree with a counseling emphasis. I had every expectation to get my Master’s degree and become a licensed counselor, but didn’t.

To tell you the truth, I wanted to fix broken people. I wanted to change them. I wanted to take their weaknesses and make them strengths. I wanted to make flowers grow in a patch of weeds.

I never told you this before, when I was younger my mom would pair me up with younger girls that also had difficult sibling situations. Sometimes I would visit for a few hours or a weekend. I think that the purpose was to counsel and console them like I did with my mom. There was no doubt I would be a counselor.

Then my last year of college happened. We had a professor that was a counselor. She made me doubt my career ambitions. She took away my unrealistic expectations and told us what it really was like being a counselor.  She told us how her holidays were interrupted because she had a take calls from suicidal clients. She told us of the times she lost clients to suicide and spoke of how difficult it was to handle. I questioned my ability to change people. I mean, I couldn’t even change myself or my loved ones who were struggling.

Really, who did I think I was? God?? To think that I could save people?

I thought about going back to school to be a counselor off and on over the last couple of decades, but no longer have the interest to do so. I don’t think I could listen to people talk about their problems and not do anything to fix them. I really lack compassion for those who are unwilling to change and just want someone to complain to. I think it would be incredibly hard to watch someone spiral down into mental illness and not be able to pull them back out. I would take every suicide personally as a failure on my part.

I also dreamed of being a librarian..surrounded by books in quiet serenity…organizing books..

I dreamed of being a lead singer in a band…exciting weekends being a star.

I even dreamed of working alone in a lab analyzing samples…checking for little details that might be off…water samples…pap smears…biopsies…DNA testing…being away from people using my analytical skills.

But right now, more than anything, my dream job is to be a writer.. I have been considering leaving my job of nine years and going back to get my Master’s degree in writing…The first thing that I would do is write my story…growing up with an autistic sibling… I would make it my life work… I would tell my mom…receive her blessing…get all of her journals that she used to write in to compile with mine… then write…offer hope to (without trying to fix)  people who are struggling…it has been something I have always felt compelled to do… then I would be free from it and spend the rest of my life being a freelance travel writer…travel the world off the beaten path…take many pictures and write…

That would be my dream job..

 

4. Ten things to tell your 16 year old self

Day 4: List 10 things you would tell your 16 year old self, if you could

  1. Spend as much time as you can with your grandparents. I hate to tell you this, but friends come and go. Your best friends now won’t even be at your wedding. Soon something is going to happen that will push the friends you have now away. Enjoy the times with friends in the moment. Remember that your grandparents won’t be around forever. They are the greatest source of stability in your life, not your friends.You will never regret spending a lot of time with them.
  2. Your strong work ethic will get you very far in life. However, don’t put work or your long to-do list above your relationships. Take the night off of work to go to your brother’s high school graduation. The $30 you earned that night will never make up for the regret you will feel for the rest of your life for not being at your brother’s only graduation.
  3. I know that you are dealing with some pretty hard things to handle and you feel like you are all alone. These are the hardest years that you will ever face in your life. Hang in there, soon it will be smooth sailing.
  4. Don’t think that you have to be perfect, or even good, at something before you are willing to try it. You don’t have to be good at something to like it either. You don’t have to be perfect. Quit being so hard on yourself. It was a big lie when you were told you had to be perfect. Put yourself out on a limb. Try something new even if you are not good at it.Who cares if you fail?
  5. Leave home when you turn 18 and do WHATEVER it takes to not go back. In fact, move far away. Do not take responsibility for your parents problems. Do NOT agree to be your brother’s caregiver. You should not be giving your brother a shower on a Saturday night. You should be out living your life doing the things that young people do. For once in your life, be carefree. You will already regret not having a childhood, don’t regret not living while you’re young too. Soon enough you will be tied down by your own responsibilities.
  6. Don’t be a caregiver for your brother or anyone else for that matter. Be a little more selfish. Do the things you want to do. Allow yourself to be stupid and make mistakes that you can learn from. Hold out for the library job you will be offered instead of turning it down to be a caregiver. You did enough care giving as a child. This will not be good for you.
  7. Buy an expensive pair of running shoes and start running. Trust me. You need a healthy way to relieve your stress. It is a lot cheaper than therapy and all those bottles of pills that never helped you anyway. Soon you will enter adulthood with enough baggage to travel the whole world. Once you realize their weight, you will have a lifelong struggle with depression, anxiety, worry, and anger. Running will help you get through all the years of repressing your feelings that you couldn’t handle.
  8. Keep writing down everything you experience and don’t stop. It is worth making time for. Some day it will make for a helluva story.
  9. You have to forgive the people that have hurt you for your sake. Pity their weakness. Eventually you will no longer be able to outrun all of the things that you are hiding from. It is going to take a long time to face your demons. You will spend a lot of time reflecting. But eventually you will have to let go..forgive..and trust that God has a bigger plan or purpose for your life. Be a beacon of hope for those that struggle around you.
  10. Try not to worry so much. It annoys me and the others around me. I don’t like it. I want you to relax. Please start working on that now so we can get over this someday.