Gratitude week 34

  1. Summer! The weather has been absolutely amazing this summer.
  2. My son got the job he applied for at the auto parts store. I cautioned him about taking his own car for the interview, apparently they offer 20% off of car parts for employees. Man they are going to go broke with my son. His car is a wreck.
  3. I was able to work overtime this week.
  4. Paul and I went up north to the family cabin on my day off. It was his first time up there this year, my second. We were able to kayak around the lake and go swimming. It was strange because we were the only ones up there. My mom has been avoiding me like the plague since I started this census job. The kids grew up, the dog is too old, and I haven’t seen my youngest two brothers since this whole COVID thing started. But it was nice to have a quiet place on the lake to relax.
  5. Paul and I were able to go sailing and the weather was perfect for it.
  6. I have the hottest day off this week and we made plans to go sailing and swimming with our boat neighbors.
  7. My cat seems to be feeling better on the thyroid medicine.
  8. I’m grateful for the nice people I’ve met on my census job. Someone gave me a bottle of water when it was hot out today. I bring my own water but it doesn’t stay cool for very long. I hate drinking hot water.
  9. I’m grateful to have a good supervisor.
  10. I’m grateful that last night I had a good nights sleep.

What is love?

By the end of last year, my life started to crumble apart. I was dealing with some serious issues with my dad. I reached out to God. Please God, if you are there, show me that you love me. Trust hasn’t always been my strong suit. But what I was asking for didn’t seem like much.

In February, someone I am very close to attempted suicide. Do you know the pain of feeling that one morning you might wake up and your loved one is no longer there? It’s pure hell. I stopped sleeping and battled insomnia for over a month with nightmares. Maybe if I was always vigilant, maybe if I didn’t sleep, than nothing bad would happen come morning.

In March, someone I knew decided to quit battling kidney disease. He died and we weren’t allowed to go to his funeral because this new virus was sweeping the nation. Later that month, we were planning on driving down to Florida to show our 2 foreign exchange students our country. The week we were leaving Disney World closed and we had to cancel our trip.

It was not the only trip that was cancelled. My mom, daughter Arabella, and I were planning on going on a school related music trip to Europe this summer. The company cancelled the trip and kept $1900 per person to line their pockets. The money they kept for all three of us was like one person went on the trip that didn’t.

We decided that our daughter Arabella could no longer be a foreign exchange student next year not only from coronavirus. When we sold our company, we took some of the profit as private equity stock in their business. We were supposed to get enough money to live on for the next couple of years the first quarter of 2020. We were going to use this to jump start a new business. It never happened and now we don’t know if and when it will happen.

Our financial security is gone. With the virus and the economy, it is a struggle to start a new business.

The schools shut down. Prom was cancelled. The track season that just started was cancelled. The musical postponed. My college daughter’s recital and later graduation was cancelled. The gym closed. I struggled to get a good workout because winter held on to the middle of May.

In April, one of our foreign exchange students decided to go home. It was during that time that I started taking an antibiotic prescribed by the wellness clinic which says a lot since they mainly treat with herbs and supplements. Ten days after the last dose, my body crashed. I was sick running to the bathroom 20 to 30 times a day, day and night for 10 days. I thought I was going to die. I pleaded with God to let me die. After being poked and prodded by several doctors and a colonoscopy later, I was diagnosed with colitis and sent on my way.

After the flare up, I was left with a hollow shell of a body. I am weak. I had to give up running. I am still sick. I can’t eat. I watch as my family members eat my favorite foods. In the last week alone I lost almost 10 pounds.

Meanwhile my daughter Arabella is packing back on all of the weight she worked so hard to lose. She went from an honor student pre-coronavirus to barely passing. I’m not sure she is going to pass all of her classes. I can’t blame her for feeling depressed since everything she was looking forward to is now gone.

Then I heard the news that the family business my great-grandparents built over 100 years ago burned to the ground. Although no longer owned by my family, a lot of my good childhood memories are tied to the building and my family that worked in it who are also gone. It was painful to see something they lovingly built destroyed.

There are things that happened this past year that I can’t even talk about yet. Somethings I will probably never share. It’s not even June yet. I’m not even sure if there is a God anymore. But if there is, right now I feel pretty certain that he doesn’t give two hoots about me. Or is God just taking the things I have away to show me what I already have been given?

What is love? Is it giving or taking away? Or is a mixture of both necessary for growth like sunshine and rain?

Okay, okay enough complaining for today. Tomorrow gratitude…

Gratitude week 16

  1.  I created an Instagram account that I can use to stay in touch with Clara.
  2.  I have been sleeping a lot better which greatly improves my mood.
  3.  I helped Paul shave his head. What better time to try out a new look?
  4.  I was able to de-clutter some of my house which always feels good.
  5.  All of my family members are healthy and safe.
  6.  I am finally off of the antibiotics.
  7.  This whole virus thing coupled with a resurge of winter is forcing me to change. I can no longer hold onto structure, work, exercise, and routine addiction. It is painful to go without it but sometimes growth hurts. I am so bored that maybe I will try a new way of doing things that I wouldn’t have otherwise done if not forced.
  8.  Maybe it’s time to slow down and let go. Maybe life is more than tasks, goals, bucket lists, and achievements.
  9.  Now is the time to redefine purpose and meaning.
  10.  I feel motivated to write with even more truth. Maybe now would be a good time to start working on the second edition of my book.

Last summer, this summer

Maybe I was naïve to think after my son graduated from high school last year that it would be smooth sailing. Sometimes I can be like that, overly optimistic. And things were good for about a month. Then my life fell apart again in a different way.

It was last summer that my health went to crap. I found a new doctor and she was appalled that my last provider had me on 2 pills a day for a duration of 5 years for acid reflux. These were pills that should be taken once a day for a course of 10 days. She took me off my medication and had me scoped. She told me to take a few Tums for my gushing gut wound and sent me on my way. Besides being anemic nothing else was wrong with me.

But something was wrong with me. I’ve even had a doctor once say it was all in my head. She only said that once because I never went back to her again. Please if it is all in my head, fix it.

After being very strongly encouraged by my mother, I decided to go to a wellness clinic for allergy testing. I was found to be allergic to 22 foods. The biggest culprit was dairy. I said good-bye to my favorite comfort foods. But I still wasn’t feeling better.

I scheduled an appointment with the wellness nurse. She said I had a level of inflammation in my gut that she has rarely seen before. I had more tests done and started a treatment plan.

In the meantime, I discovered that I have Complex PTSD from childhood trauma. I have been seeing a great therapist. I have been working through my lifelong struggle with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Meanwhile my life fell apart in other ways with family problems that really had nothing to do with me.

Over a month went by where every single night I did not sleep the full night. Some nights I would just get up and sit looking into the darkness. Nightmares were common. If only I could sleep then my problems would be solved. With help from both my therapist and wellness nurse, I am now able to sleep a couple of full nights a week. With sleep, my mood improved greatly. I was feeling a little less like a zombie.

Once again I become overly optimistic. I had more tests done. I’m getting better. I was going to finally be able to do the 30 day detox diet and get my allergies retested. I imagined myself this summer eating my favorite foods again. This summer it was going to be cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, pizza, cheese, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese curds, lasagna, and cheese. It was so close I could almost smell it.

I went into my follow up appointment last week with great expectations only to have them dashed. My results showed that only 5% of the healthy population got test scores like mine. I have several parasites. I also have Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). This means that I have good bacteria in the wrong place which interferes with food absorption. This could explain the anemia.

So now I am on an even more restricted diet. Limited sugars, starches, carbs, processed food, and fiber. Too much of these foods can make the bacteria grow and make me feel sick. Pretty much the only thing I can eat now is meat. If it weren’t for living with a meat and potatoes man and ham I would probably be a vegetarian. This has really taken the joy out of eating.

The nurse also gave me a prescription for an antibiotic to kill off the parasites. It will help a little with the SIBO too. She said she only prescribed it to two other people but thought it was necessary in my case with my chronic gut issues. I was a little terrified to take the first pill. I read about parasite die off and it sounded miserable. So far I don’t feel great, but I don’t feel awful either.

It was hard going in with the expectation of good news. But I am on the road to recovery however long that might be. I know what I’m up against. It’s good to know it all isn’t in my head.

Gratitude week 12

1. And more compliments on my hair. This time I received them at the grocery store.

2. We haven’t killed each other yet, nor has the virus killed us. Seriously though, I am grateful for the health of family and friends. I hope you are in good health and good enough spirits under the circumstances we find ourselves in.

3. We finished one puzzle and still have 11 left to go before I run out. What a great time to renew an interest in old hobbies. I haven’t done a puzzle in years.

4. I am reading a good book and have 2 more left before I run out.

5. I’m grateful that my husband is willing to do a lot of the cooking since he is a better cook than I am.

6. We have enough food to eat.

7. I am thankful to be an introvert in this time of isolation and solitude. I am not alone since my family is home more.

8. I am grateful for the start of spring. Although it is pretty cold outside, it is not as cold as it would be in the dead of winter. It is a little easier to run outside than it would be in January.

9. After struggling with insomnia nearly every night for the past couple months, I am thankful I was able to sleep well twice this past week.

10. I am thankful for a cat that snuggles at my feet every morning while I drink my coffee. Time to get in touch with the simpler things.

Gratitude week 10

  1. Tomorrow my daughter will be home for the week for spring break. It will be the most time I’ve spent with her since last summer.
  2.  I’ve felt more relaxed and at peace this week than I’ve had in months after my therapy session. For a few days I felt like a normal person.
  3.  I got my hair cut.
  4.  I went out Thursday night with a new friend I think may end up being a good friend.
  5.  I am grateful for the warmer weather and sunny days.
  6.  In less than two weeks we will be on our way to Florida.
  7.  Last night I slept a full five hours. I have been dealing with insomnia for the past month and want to see if I change things up a bit I could sleep. My goal is to sleep 8 hours without waking maybe once or twice this week.
  8.  I am thankful that my husband is making his homemade pizza for me tonight. I’m grateful to have a partner willing to share life’s responsibilities.
  9.  I am grateful for time to spend reading this week. I finished Childhood Disrupted and The Orphan’s Tale. I’ve finally started making a dent in the books sitting on my to read pile for a year.
  10.  I’m grateful my mom found a new group of friends at the new church she is going to.

Losing my reality

I felt good for about a half a day this week. I told my husband to enjoy it while it lasts.

It’s been a rough last couple of weeks. It’s that time of year again where I am reminded of the anniversaries of the deaths of three loved ones. I especially remember my grandma who seems so far removed from me now that it is hard to believe she even existed.

In this past week I’ve heard about the deaths of the wife of a friend and the daughter of an acquaintance. Both died unexpectedly, tragically. They were both young, upper 20’s and lower 30’s. They both left behind families, very young children.

Then there was an acquaintance this week who told everyone via Facebook he was going to stop kidney dialysis. He is in his 30’s, had a failed transplant, has no family, and can barely make ends meet because of this. I have to question, is it suicide? I want him to want to live, but would I make a different choice in his circumstances?

Death is in the air and the sorrow of it is making me sad. So I gladly breathed in a reprieve from the anxiety I was feeling if but for a few hours. I thought just maybe I would sleep for the night but to no avail. It’s been almost 3 weeks now since I slept a full night. The exhaustion of it is almost relaxing to me.

I can’t relax. Depression is the closest thing to relaxing I do. My body resists all attempts to relax me. I sometimes wonder if local anesthesia doesn’t work for me because my body literally fights off all attempts of relaxation. Maybe it is just a crazy thought.

I was in hypervigilant mode for two weeks. It was awful. One day my daughter came up behind me unaware to hug me. I freaked out and screamed at her to get away from me. Later I talked to her in a general way about the trauma I experienced as a child and explained to her how startled I was by her unexpected touch. Even my husband tried to comfort me by touch and I told him not to touch me.

I tried to explain to my daughter why I had a hard time with touch and she got mad at me. She told me I was overexagerating and that her life is just as hard as my life was. I tried to give her the kind of life I wanted as a child and it is painful to hear her say that. It’s hard to have compassion for the trivial things.

Sometimes my autistic brother would attack us while we were sleeping. Is it any wonder that I cannot find sleep? My brother beat me on the daily and I was not protected or comforted.

Being physically abused wasn’t the worst. Even my dad’s verbal abuse wasn’t that bad. Being called stupid frequently didn’t end my world. What really hurt was the psychological terror. My dad seemed to have this innate ability to know what our deepest fears were. When we were little he would force us to do things we were afraid of. Then he would laugh at us when we showed fear.

My dad would torment us in the presence of our siblings. We weren’t allowed to be angry or cry, then we would get it worse. In fact, the more we laughed and taunted our frightened sibling, the better it would be for us. Compassion or kindness was punished.

We were terrified of my dad. My dad was especially abusive when our mom was not around. I don’t even think she knew about most of the abuse. At best, he would ignore us and watch TV. Sometimes my mom threatened to leave my dad. We were so terrified of being alone with my dad that it was my brother Mark’s job to beg her not to leave.

I built this wall of strength around myself. My dad robbed me of compassion, tears, and anything perceived as weakness. I can do anger, but I cannot cry. My mom cried and  was too weak to stand up to my dad or my violent brother.

But yet I am weak, yet I am vulnerable. In the whole healing process, I’ve lost a part of my knowledge of normal and real. Is this normal or is this normal to me? Am I not safe or do I just think I am not safe? Am I reading people right?

For example, I told you about the old man at the gym who complimented me on my running and looks. Perhaps it is creepy, perhaps he is just a lonely old man. He seems to know my patterns now. I saw him watch me when I was in my exercise class. When I am running, he gets on the treadmill next to me and starts talking to me.

I always wanted a dad who paid attention to me. I am starving for that. I am so hungry I might ingest things that aren’t safe for me to take in. Because of my hunger I reach for anything offered and I seem to no longer be able to distinguish if it is good for me.

I’ve seem to have lost some of my discernment.

That’s probably why I wasn’t prepared for what happened next…

 

 

PMSing during the full moon

Yeah, if the title doesn’t say it all…it’s been a rough week.

It all started earlier this week. My daughter Arabella and our foreign exchange student Estelle got into their first huge fight. I could tell they were angry, but my daughter wouldn’t say anything and Estelle simply muttered that my daughter has issues as she stomped off to her room to go to bed.

The next morning they didn’t talk to each other, but spewed their hatred towards each other onto me. What is going on?

Later that morning Estelle texted me, we need to talk. My stomach dropped. The worst case scenarios painted their way through my head. Bang, triggered! Maybe my daughter smacked her one. My daughter just applied to be a foreign exchange student at Estelle’s house. Maybe they no longer wanted her there. Maybe Estelle no longer wanted to be with us. How was I ever going to fix this?

The negative energy was so intense like a couple warring black cats hissing and sending their razor sharp claws down the chalkboard while howling at the moon.

My anxiety went through the roof. I just wanted my depression to come back. Please stop.

The insomnia and nightmares are back. I awake at every little noise. When I do sleep, I wake up crying from the nightmares. I feel like a super caffeinated zombie. Anxiety on steroids. Tired, but on high alert. Restless. Fidgety. Exhausted.

The ringing of my phone startles me. I turn my ringer off. I’m afraid that someone is at the door, but no one is there. My skin crawls. I feel like I am being watched, but no one is there. Sometimes I turn around fast just to make sure. My back is better against the wall where I can see the whole room in case of an attack.

I startle as my husband placed his hand in consolation on my back. I jump not sure whether to fight or scream. Don’t touch me. Is there danger? Is there someone there who shouldn’t be? I know it is not rational, but I can’t stop feeling anxious.

I have to take my mind off of things. Is that picture crooked on the wall? No, a half an inch too high on the left. Is it centered properly? Is that a fingerprint on the glass? Is that dust? Is that dirt?

Estelle comes home and wants to spend the evening at her friend’s house on a school night. She doesn’t want to be here anymore. Maybe she will leave us? The girls still fight. They hate each other. Maybe it was a bad idea to take two extra teenagers into our house.

The next morning I miss a call from the school. Oh my, maybe the girls fought it out in their one class together. Culinary arts. Pots and pans hitting each other over the head. A knife fight, perhaps? Suspended. Expelled. Sent home. I feel like I am going to throw up.

Nope. Estelle comes home, bad cramps.

I told the girls separately they need to work through the issues they were having together. Then I left to run errands. When I came back, the girls were laughing and hugging each other. Sisters. The love and the hate. Fighting over friends. One blocking the other on their socials. No big deal but fighting like it was the end of the world.

But me, triggered, stressed out for days not even sure why. The minute my therapist saw me yesterday she knew I was not myself. She said if she didn’t think I had PTSD before she can certainly say I have it now. The conflict between the girls triggered me. In my house growing up, all of that negative intense energy meant someone was going to get hurt. It’s almost as if it triggered the fear response before the violence occurred and I got stuck there.

I felt a lot better after my appointment. I had a nice chat with the girls about PMS. Their fighting, their moodiness, their ability to fly from tears to laughter yet back again within a few seconds. Guys, sorry but hormones suck!

My mind goes haywire this time of month. I feel things more. EVERYTHING hurts. My skin itches. It is easier to be triggered. Everything comes out of my mouth in anger with what to me sounds like normal words. Anxiety. Irritation. Anger. Depression. PTSD. Oh my gosh, stay away!! Warning. I am totally crazy! This month so much worse than others.

PMS? The full moon? Fighting. Screeching. Scratching. Screaming. Howling. It’s a good thing my words don’t speak.

Breathwork

Last week I started deep breathing therapy.

I have been a lifelong member of the insomnia and nightmare club. What I didn’t tell you, when I am really stressed out I also grind my teeth at night. Some mornings I awake with the insides of my cheeks all bit up and sometimes also have canker sores in my mouth. I hold my mouth tight and am somewhat surprised I haven’t yet developed TMJ.

My therapist was rather shocked with my insomnia that I don’t awake when I chew myself up. I guess I never thought about that before. How do I sleep through causing myself pain?

So we decided to try something new. With this therapy, I laid down on a massage type table without my shoes on. I also had on an eye mask and kept my eyes closed. I covered with a blanket. I was told to breathe deep in a circular pattern with my diaphragm. Every breath in caused my stomach to rise.

My therapist asked me to imagine my grandma standing at my feet holding a multi-colored ball. I needed to visualize the color moving up to the top of my head from my feet.

My therapist asked me what I was doing and how old I am. I told her that I am 3 or 4. I am looking at the books in the basket up north. I am coloring. I am coloring the book that has the pictures of the ladies with the long cigarettes from the Virginia Slims ad. The book is tall and narrow with glamorous women smoking cigarettes. I am getting crayons from the chocolate tin they are stored in. I am playing with dolls. I am filling up a bright turquoise container with lake water.

Do I feel tension in any part of my body? Yes, my shoulders. What do you want to do? I want to push it out, I want to fight. The therapist puts a pillow over my hands and I push as hard as I can against her. I am afraid to hurt her because I am very strong.

Where do you feel the tension now? I feel it everywhere. I feel trapped like I am being buried alive. Every year the weight is getting heavier and it pushes me down. The little girl trapped in the coffin is sinking deeper and deeper with each passing year. She can’t get out and feels sad.

What does the little girl want? She wants to color. She has been trapped in the dark for so long. She tells herself she likes it there. But she tells herself that because the darkness is all she can see and all she thinks she will ever see as she sinks further away from herself. She wants to see all the colors again.

That night she goes home and colors. Coloring is fun. She colors the house pink. The things she finds scary, she colors black so she can’t see it anymore. But everything else is in brilliant unusual shades, like the sky is green and the grass is blue. Pretending is fun.

For two nights afterward she is able to sleep deeply.

My logical mind tells me this is all hokey. But my inner child has been trapped in the dark for so long she just wanted to see if it was safe to come out and play.

The whole me

What does the whole healed version of me look like?

  •  Sleeps restfully without insomnia or nightmares.
  •  Does not let the bad choices of others affect me!!!!!!!!
  •  Energetic without anxiety.
  •  Quieted inner critic.
  •  Healthy, no more gut issues.
  •  Does not excessively worry.
  •  Relaxed, not always on alert for danger.
  •  Peaceful. Serenity. Tranquility.
  •  Wisdom to help self and others.
  •  Joyful despite circumstances.
  •  Able to feel and express feelings.
  •  Sets boundaries.
  •  Less black and white/all or nothing thinking.
  •  Able to admit faults, tolerant of imperfection in self and others.
  •  No longer tries to fix/control others.
  •  Unconditional positive regard.
  •  Works on relationships/trust issues.
  •  Funloving.
  •  Gratitude for what I have.
  •  Be able to see the best in others.
  •  Trusting, but not gullible.
  •  Takes better care of myself.
  •  No suicidal thoughts.
  •  Able to depart from a routine without stressing out.
  •  Able to enjoy accomplishments.
  •  Not let the past dictate my future.
  •  Not be triggered so easily by everyday things.
  •  No delayed processing of feelings.
  •  Work less, play more.
  •  Decisiveness.
  •  Saying ‘no’ more to things I don’t want and ‘yes’ more to what I want.
  •  Not being afraid to speak my mind or stick up for myself.
  •  Be honest.
  •  Embrace both my strengths and weaknesses.
  •  Appreciate everything I’ve been through and allow it to be an inspiration for the      healing of others.
  •  Deeper meaningful relationships.
  •  Being willing to listen even if I have to set aside my to-do list.
  •  Be patient with myself during the healing process even if progress is slower than I’d like.
  •  Get out of survival mode.
  •  Let go of things not worth holding onto.

Well, I think this is a good start…..