Expectation reflections

It hasn’t been too much of an adjustment having 4 teenagers in the house.

Our foreign exchange students have been very quiet and friendly. When we told others of our plan to have 2 foreign exchange students, they cringed. Most shared horror stories of wild teen exchange students that made every effort to sneak out and party. So far there haven’t been any problems.

It’s probably because they are not comfortable being family yet. There aren’t any fights or talking back. We are all on our best behavior, no belching or farting. My husband has been giving them special treatment. He is buying the foods they like, taking them to places they are interested in going, asking if they are too hot or too cold. It’s hard not to treat them like visitors.

This is going to sound insane, but I felt a twinge of jealousy. It triggered something inside of me that reminded me of my mom’s special treatment of my autistic brother Matt.  Everything in our house revolved around Matt and what he wanted. I honestly wasn’t expecting to feel that way.

Of course, the students paid a lot of money to have a great experience here. I want things to be wonderful for them. Things are going really well. The girls don’t seem to be too homesick. If anything, at times they seem a little bored. But I’m sure that will change once school starts and they make friends.

It’s fun because they get excited about all of the little things, like going to the grocery store. They eat differently than we do. They use their knife and fork to cut things more. They cut up grilled cheese sandwiches instead of just picking them up and plunking them in their soup like I did.

Today Clara made homemade German potato salad for our friend’s Octoberfest party tomorrow. Real German food!

I also didn’t realize how much Hitler and the nazi’s were the butt of American jokes in TV and movie comedies. Awkward! But none of us were alive when any of that happened. If anything, countries that were once at war can be friendly towards each other again.

Hopefully in the next couple weeks the girls will come out of their shell a little. As for right now, I’m really happy that things are going better than I expected.

forgotten

One of the hardest parts about being a special needs sibling is being forgotten. It’s like I don’t even exist. Forgotten, no one would miss me if I was gone. It’s hard to get over the voice in my head that is on repeat saying that no one really cares about me.

Yesterday I went out to eat with my mom. At the restaurant, my mom noticed our previous dentist sitting near us. He lost his license to practice dentistry over a decade ago. He wasn’t the first provider that we had lose his license either. Let’s just say when traditional medicine didn’t heal my autistic brother, my mom went the alternative medicine route and some of those doctors were quacks.

My mom went over to talk to our dentist about Matt. She showed him all of Matt’s most recent pictures. On the way out, we said good-bye. I told my mother that the dentist probably remembered me. After all, I was the patient with the small mouth that no dentist could numb for fillings. My mom talked to the dentist some more about Matt, then asked the dentist if he remembered me.

The dentist said that he did not remember me. He had a very large practice and wasn’t expected to remember every patient. I was in his office so often that I still remember his secretary’s name. It was like a kick to the teeth. The polite thing to do would’ve been to lie. Yes, I remember you. How are you doing now? Instead he asked for my mom’s phone number because he would like to schedule a time to come out and visit Matt.

I told my husband about the interaction and he was rather appalled. But I told Paul this was the typical response.

As a teenager, the rare time I was with family friends or family, they would pepper me with questions about Matt. They asked how my brother Matt was doing with the same sympathetic frown on their faces. I was barely holding it together, but no one ever asked how I was doing or how my other brothers were doing. Yeah, just trying not to swallow a whole bottle full of pills here. But who cares?

As a child, I wanted something to be wrong with me so that I would be loved too. My babysitter told me if I wore her thick glasses and looked in the mirror, I would need glasses too. I wore her glasses looking in the mirror with a metallic gum wrapper covering my top teeth with a paper clip. I wanted to be special too.

I had a lot of stomachaches as a child. I could barely eat I felt so sick. But I wasn’t as sick as Matt. I didn’t need to go to the doctor. Matt’s valve between his stomach and intestines closed, and he almost died. What was I bellyaching about? I just wanted attention.

But as I am currently facing health issues, I wonder if I am just being paranoid. Maybe it’s just me wanting attention. Maybe it’s nothing and I am just crazy. I am probably just being selfish to focus so much on myself. Look at Matt.

It was always that way. It will probably always be that way. Seriously, who cares anyway? My thoughts and feeling don’t matter. I don’t know why I even bother.

I remember a special occasion with family several years back. We were supposed to go around the room and share something special that happened in our family over the past year. My mom spent 20 minutes in tears talking about all of Matt’s medical needs. She did not once mention that my brother Luke, who wasn’t there, got a HUGE promotion at work that year.

We are the forgotten ones. It makes me feel both sad and angry, hurt. But it was always like that. I should be used to it by now.

I didn’t feel that way about my dad. He pretty much checked out altogether. But in my mom’s life, the sun will around revolve around her special son Matt. Our accomplishments don’t matter. It doesn’t matter that Matt hurt us or our children. We should all work together to worship our god Matt because his life sucks.

My mother is a great person, a martyr perhaps. I feel guilty for my disloyalty. But the one thing that grieves me deeply, far beyond the memories of the physical pain of being attacked by Matt, is being forgotten. It’s hard to get over feeling like no one cares about me. Sometimes it’s hard to be caring towards myself. I feel selfish for sharing my wants and needs.

Forgotten.

 

Amongst the weeds

I wouldn’t say that I am the overly jealous type, not about material things anyway. The biggest thing that causes me jealousy is relationships.

I felt jealous when your parents moved up from a southern state just to be closer to you. I should have been happy for you, but sadly that was not the feeling it triggered.

The last time I saw my parents together, they were fighting. My dad went almost a year without showering when my mother said she couldn’t take it anymore. Now she said that he must shower once a week or there will be consequences. On that day, my mom and I went somewhere. When we got back, my mom asked my dad if he showered yet like he was a small child. He did not and she yelled that he better hurry or he would be in trouble. I would never ask them for marriage advice.

My dad did not attend Alex’s graduation. He did go up north with the rest of the family (not including us). He sat around all weekend in his underwear. This bothered my SIL Carla greatly and she complained about him. Carla and my brother Mark helped clean out my parents shed. Carla said now that it is cleaned out a little, they can fill it with more crap. Or maybe they can buy another car. Carla said she would love to buy a hearse for my dad. It was funny, yet it was not.

I felt jealous when your brother told me he was going to move closer to home to help you and your husband raise your first child. I know your family will be there for you anytime you needed them. I could probably count on one hand how many times we were able to get away when our kids were little because we didn’t have anyone to help us.

I had to schedule my 3rd C-section to be in the hospital over the weekend so my husband could watch our other kids. He just started his business and had to work on the day our last child was born. After he came back from working a few hours, my mom dropped off our other two children at the hospital because my brother Matt had an appointment. Matt always came first, even on the day I gave birth.

I found someone else with demons. We hold each other’s hands as we walk through our own hell fires. Paul is the only person I can count on and I trust he will be there until he can’t be. We’ve had to rely on each other.

Paul never had a dad. His mom had a brief marriage when Paul was little, but she left her husband because she said he was abusive. Martha did remarry after Paul grew up and left home.

Paul did not have one single person from his family to invite to our son’s graduation, unless you count his step-dad. His step-dad Darryl attended but brought a new girlfriend that we met for the first time that day. Darryl has moved on with his life. Paul shared his grief over the thought that his mother will no longer be remembered. He is an orphan. His whole family is gone.

Paul grew up with a great void. I grew up in an environment of dysfunction and abuse. We had to rely on ourselves to survive. It gave us grit and strength beyond belief. But there was no one to turn to when we needed help or advice.

It’s tremendously hard to create a healthy family without having a firm foundation to build our house upon. You may envy our fierce drive and independence, but behind it lies brokenness, emptiness, and pain. Maybe you envy our financial success, our big house, and attractiveness. But I’ll tell you what. We both would give everything we have in exchange for a healthy family of origin.

It’s amazing that we survived and thrived as beautiful flowers among the weeds in which we were planted.

 

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #13

The luck that is ordained for you will be coveted by others.

 

I want you to think of the most beautiful person, the most talented athlete, the richest acquaintance, the biggest blogger you follow, and the most intelligent person that you know…Close your eyes if you must…

They are lucky, right? I mean, otherwise you would be as great as they are.

Admit it, you are jealous just like I am.

Don’t we want what makes them great?

But they have struggles too.

Maybe we just can’t see them.

The most beautiful girl has the best of luck. She can get any guy that she wants. She knows that her beauty has opened many doors that for others are closed. But she feels alone because no one seems to get past her looks and see the real beauty inside of her.

The most talented athlete has the best of luck. He is sure to win almost every game. But no one sees the pressure to perform, to continue being the best. His fans only love him when he is at the top of his game.

The richest girl in the room has the best of luck. She throws the biggest and best parties. When she goes to bed at night she wonders if the same people would be her friends if she was poor.

The biggest blogger has the best of luck. He scribbles some dribble and has over 100 likes. He spends hours every night responding to the hundreds of comments of people that he doesn’t know and not sure he would even like. He starts writing to appeal to the masses and losses part of who he is in the process.

The most intelligent girl has the best of luck. She aces every test. It comes easy to her to succeed. But she has no one to talk to because they don’t understand things at her level. She is expected to solve everyone’s problems and to do more than her fair share in group projects at school and at work because she is so much smarter. She often feels overwhelmed with the weight of her responsibilities.

All of these people have haters.

They have people that would give anything to be more like them.

So no one cares, no one listens..

There are things that are not acceptable for them to ever talk about to people who aren’t as “lucky”..

Oh, poor you…you can get any guy you want and you complain that they are only interested in your looks….I wish I was half as beautiful as you.

Poor you, you always have to perform at the top of your game and can’t handle the pressure…I wish I was coordinated enough that people would want me on their team.

Poor you, you are so rich that you can afford anything you want…Who cares if your friends are real?? I wish I could just pay my bills on time.

Poor you, you are so popular online that you have to take hours of your limited time to respond to every comment. I wish a couple of people would read what I write.

Poor intelligent successful you, you have to be surrounded by idiots all of the time…because face it, no one is as smart as you. I wish I didn’t have to work so hard for something that comes easy for you.

Even the “luckiest” people in the world have their struggles.

But why bother listening because we already know how wonderful it must be to be them…The grass is so much greener over there that I can’t even see how it blends in with the weeds..

Maybe being average is not so bad after all…

Fortune cookie wisdom #8

Begin…the rest is easy.

I find this fortune cookie to be very inspiring.

Beginning is the hardest part, right?

Remember starting a blog? How terrifying was that??

Now it seems so natural, so easy, so ingrained…like I’ve been doing this forever.

Every decision to begin something new is fraught with worry. Or at least it is that way for me. Getting married, starting a family, starting a blog, running a marathon, getting on the stage of a community theater, sailing, going to college, moving to a new community, doing a Half Ironman, traveling, etc…insert dream here..

Beginning a new adventure can be terrifying. Fear can prevent someone with great potential from even starting.

I remember my first 10k. I was horrified. I was so afraid I wanted to run in the opposite direction. This summer, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. A lot of people find that inspiring, motivating, or downright crazy. It is all of those things. If I can do it, anybody can. It started with taking the first step. I started running about 5 years before I ever signed up for my first race. People don’t see everything I do when they hear about everything I’ve done.

Running can be very intimidating if you haven’t yet learned to crawl.

I am very motivated to achieve. I can’t sit still. My brain never quiets.

I am also a very competitive person. This has been harder to overcome. I want to be the best runner. I want to be the best blogger. I am secretly (well, not anymore) jealous of people who have thousands of followers after a few months of blogging. I am jealous of people great enough to qualify for the Boston marathon.

I have to get over comparing myself to others and learn to enjoy my own journey…

Sometimes people ask…How can you be a marathon runner? How do you run a successful business working with your husband? How can you blog regularly year after year?

I’ll tell you how I do it. Begin…that is the first step. Keep going. Keep doing your best even if you aren’t the best. Seek the advice of others who are successful. Maybe I’m not as good of a runner as ______ or as good of a blogger as ________. Who cares? I really love it and that is what matters.

Old school stalking, part 2

After the horrible first date, Mac talked me into going out with him again. The first couple of weeks were great. He became totally obsessed with me. He listened to all of my stories. Laughed at all of my jokes. At first this was all very flattering. He showered me with time and attention making up for several years of being ignored by my dad. He made me feel like I couldn’t live without him. So after a couple of months of being Mr. Wonderful, when he asked me to marry him I said “yes”. It was probably around this time that the problems started. You see, he didn’t have good enough credit to buy me an engagement ring. So I bought my own.

That was not all that I bought. I bought new tires for his car that ended up getting repossessed. He did buy me a nice word processor to type up my college papers on. But he was so jealous that I was in college that he turned it off on me when I was almost finished writing a paper for a 4 credit class. I had to start all over and ended up just turning it in before the class ended that day.

Then there were other things. Like the time I stopped in after work at 7 PM and he had stayed out all night gambling the night before. He woke up at 7 PM thinking that it was 7 AM. He thought I was kidding. He missed work that day. He started taking my prescription drugs.

Then things got really bad. He started to push me around. He grabbed me by the neck and threw me against the wall. He threw me around enough for me to get pretty bruised up. He lost his temper and punched his fist through the bedroom door. When I threatened to call the cops, he told me that he would accuse me of stealing from him after a couple of times that he had me cash his checks for him.

When I threatened to leave him he got very manipulative. He found my diaries and said that if I left him he would send them to my family members.

The final straw happened about this time of year. Mac was very obsessed with his appearance. He dyed his hair blonde and permed it. He even wore foundation to cover his ruddy complexion. One Thanksgiving, I picked him up to go to my grandma’s house. He forgot to put on his foundation and demanded that I stop at my parent’s house on the way so that he could borrow my mom’s makeup. I was appalled. No fricken way was I going to do that. So he was upset with me and during the prim and proper family meal with all of my extended family, we got into a huge fight. Swear words riccoched across the table. He ended up walking out. I wish I could say that it was the end right then and there.

He relentlessly pursued me over the next couple of months. There were times when I had to hide my car when I was at home. I had to have my friend drop me off at work so he wouldn’t see my car there. When he called, my mom told him that I wasn’t there. Once he left a rose under my windshield in the early morning with a apology note asking to get back together. It freaked me out because I lived an hour away from him.

When I lived with a roommate, he charmed her into thinking he was a great guy. She told him everything that he wanted to know about me. That is how I ended up having my name broadcast over the speakers half the night while I was at the county fair with some friends and another guy. “Alissa, please come to the information desk, Mac is looking for you”. I am so glad that I didn’t marry that guy. Had I known, the first date would’ve been the last.

Old school stalking, part 1

When my friend, Kristi, set me up on a blind date with Mac she told me that he was going to school to be a lawyer. That really wasn’t accurate. What she should have said was that Mac was a high school dropout that had issues with the law. But what did Kristi know? She was a horrible judge of men. She was asking me to stand up in her wedding while her fiance was asking me to sleep with him. He was a big time cheater, marriage did not fix that.

I decided to go out on the blind date anyway. I had just gotten out of a long term relationship with a great guy who was in the military. He was going to be overseas for a year. It never would have worked out anyway because we were too much alike. We had the same personality, both were firstborns, and we both were left handed.

Kristi did set me up with someone previous to my relationship with the military guy. She set me up with her fiance Ted’s brother. He was a pretty nice guy. On our first double date with Ted and Kristi, they were in the backseat making out the whole time. That, I might mention, makes for a very awkward first date. It didn’t work out.

Mac and I decided that our first date should be a double date with another couple that I didn’t know, not Ted and Kristi. We were going to go bowling. About halfway to the bowling alley, the driver and his girlfriend pulled out some drinks. Apparently, they had been drinking on the ride to my house and needed to stop at a gas station to drop off their empties after almost getting pulled over. Okay, that was not cool at all, but it was not as if I had a cell phone and could call for a ride home. When we got to the bowling alley, it was closed for tournaments.

We stopped at another gas station, this time for gas. The driver went in to pay for gas while his girlfriend started rummaging through his things. She found another girl’s phone number in his checkbook. This is when she got into the driver’s seat and took off with tires squealing in a rubber burning jealous rage. She pulled into traffic without looking and cut off a guy in a Corvette. Cars in both lanes slammed on their brakes and honked at us. She pulled onto a side road, got out of the car, and while screaming tried to break the car windows with her purse. Mac sheltered me with his coat in case she succeeded and got glass shards on us. After what seemed like an hour of screaming and car battery, she took off into the early evening dusk on foot.

Mac drove the car back to the gas station to pick up her boyfriend. We literally spent the rest of the evening looking for her. We stopped at random phone booths to call her family. We drove up and down the side roads. Nothing. Finally after several hours of looking without finding, the driver took me home. Best first date NEVER! If I had known the future, I should have had the first date be the last date.