Gratitude week 81

  1. We made it across the bay back to our home port before the storm hit on my birthday.
  2. It seemed like absolutely everybody at the marina knew it was my birthday (even people I didn’t know). It’s probably the first time since I turned 40 that I am all birthdayed out. It was too much attention for this introvert.
  3. I met my son’s new girlfriend at my birthday party. She is really quiet and that is nice.
  4. Today I met my daughter Arabella’s new boyfriend. I did meet him briefly before when he came over at night and I was sleeping on the couch. I told him it was nice to finally meet him when I was dressed. Well that was awkward. I meant to say it was nice to meet him when I was awake (not sleeping on the couch in my pajamas).
  5. Summer!! After the storms on my birthday I couldn’t ask for better weather.
  6. I am planning Arabella’s graduation party. I am grateful to plan her party. As I looked at all of her pictures throughout the years I found myself really grateful that I am planning her graduation party and not a funeral. Worrying about death is one of the hardest parts of being a parent of a child with serious mental health issues. Graduating was a milestone worth celebrating, even if she is not heading to college like all of my friend’s kids.
  7. Over the weekend I went out to eat at the restaurant Arabella works at. I felt grateful that she has a job she really loves.
  8. I also went to a wedding show over the weekend with Angel, Dan, and his mom. I think within the next week or so we should have a date. I still cannot believe my daughter is getting married!
  9. Although I slept better on the sailboat, it is really wonderful to sleep in my own bed again.
  10. I am grateful for Angel’s birthday this week. We are planning massages and going out to eat at our favorite pizza place.

Gratitude week 80

  1. I have been having a lot of computer issues as of late. Thankfully my future son-in-law Dan was able to fix my computer so I didn’t have to buy a new one. It is so incredibly fast now that I don’t even have to take a nap while it loads.
  2. Tonight we are going out to celebrate Dan and Angel’s engagement at a new restaurant I’ve never been to before. Dan’s parents will also be there.
  3. Summer! The weather has been perfect the last couple of days. Dry, breezy, and upper 70’s. It really doesn’t get a lot better than that!
  4. The weather was cool and rainy mid-week which delayed our sailing trip that we planned, but we were still able to go.
  5. I was able to spend the night on the boat at a beautiful marina I’ve never been to before. One night we anchored out with friends near an island I’ve also never been to. We were able to go to shore and tour a lighthouse. I live in such a beautiful area. I can’t wait to share the pictures.
  6. I went out to eat Indian food with my best friend one evening.
  7. Oh my gosh, my son has a new girlfriend. He has been single for over two years. I will be meeting her this week.
  8. My birthday week has officially started!!
  9. I got my hair cut and colored today. A little pampering is a good way to start the birthday week.
  10. I’m grateful I was able to write about some really difficult things and close the book on the last series.

Gratitude week 79

  1. Arabella was the only server that showed up to work on the 4th of July. So, yeah, I think they forgot about the day she slept through her whole shift.
  2. The fireworks were absolutely amazing over the lake.
  3. Summer! I was able to spend a lot of time on the water over the holiday weekend. The weather has been crazy this year. It has been extremely hot, in the 90’s, for the last couple of days. Later this week it’s supposed to be in the 60’s with rain. It’s either been incredibly hot or cool and rainy.
  4. I saw all three of my brothers this past weekend, one of my brothers I haven’t seen since before COVID.
  5. I put on my new boxing gloves for the first time this past week. My son is teaching me how to box. I gotta have nice looking arms for the wedding.
  6. It’s my birthday month. I can’t believe my birthday is next week already. I’m thankful for another year of life.
  7. I’m grateful that my husband was able to buy a new battery for Arabella’s car when it died.
  8. I’m grateful that he was also able to take our son in to get a new phone when it died.
  9. I’m grateful for the family that sent my daughter engagement gifts. It was very thoughtful of them.
  10. I was finally able to spend time with my nieces for the first time this year.

Everyone else’s problems

Okay, so maybe things aren’t going to be all that light and fluffy yet. I feel really irritated today. Maybe it’s just PMS or something.

Some days I can just let it go and other days not so much.

Yesterday my husband and I made plans to take my daughter Angel and her best friend sailing for her birthday. Apparently the weather had other plans. It ended up going alright anyway. But that wasn’t the problem. When we got back around 5 PM, I noticed that Arabella was still home. I thought she was scheduled to work at 4:30 PM. So I went to talk to her and found out she was supposed to work at 10:30 AM. She slept through her whole shift. So she missed a whole day of work and the previous two days before that she was late.

My husband and I were livid. The last thing we want is for her to lose the job that she says she loves. We again told her how important it was to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. After I woke her up she called work. Thankfully she didn’t get fired but I’m not sure how long that will last. They are very nice to her too and said she could wear a short sleeved shirt despite her cutting scars. They told her they don’t discriminate. She was really upset with herself and when I asked her if she wanted to talk about it she told me to leave her alone. Just like old times. She is upset with me but can’t do it by herself.

It really stressed me out.

Also, when we got home yesterday, we had the invisible fence lady at our door. I was on the phone with a client a few days ago when I saw my dog cross the road and almost get hit by a car. Our dog is almost 14 years old and is practically deaf and blind. He has been going right through the fence and onto the road. We had to do something. So they came out and turned the collar all the way up. Thankfully he is responding to it now. But it is hard to see him go downhill so fast. Our cat is 15 and not in much better shape. I don’t think either one will make it through another winter and it is hard to see both our pets decline.

Then if all that wasn’t enough. My mom came back yesterday. She is all stressed out because her tooth cracked and she had to get a crown, my dad now has some sort of heart problem, and my brother Matt had a CT scan because of some benign tumors on several organs. She only slept an hour last night and was a bear to deal with today. She wanted me to drive her to her appointment today which I did. But she was annoyed by my music saying it was too loud (it wasn’t) and clangy and asked me to turn it off.

A huge, huge pet peeve of mine is complaining about my music when I’m driving. It’s not a big deal if someone asks me to turn it down so they can talk to me. That’s no problem. I usually keep the volume down when I have passengers anyway. But saying they don’t like it and asking me to turn it off when I’m doing them a favor is another thing entirely. I just had the radio on quietly. Yes it was rock music. I hate her music too but never ask her to turn it off.

It kind of reminds me when my kids were young after I got past the stage of having to listen to that dribble Barney crap, I would listen to music I liked. When they complained, I told them that when they drove they could listen to whatever they wanted to. That came back to bite me because they can listen to stuff off their phone. In my book, driver picks the music whether I like it or not. Sometimes my husband will be really nice when he drives and tells me to put on anything I want. It’s like heaven to me.

But anyway, here I am back to letting everyone else’s problems bug me. I don’t even want to go up north this weekend to be around family anymore since they all carry so much negative energy. I am looking forward to seeing my brothers Mark and Luke but my dad, Matt, and my mom aren’t very relaxing to be around.

When can I live my own life and let everyone else’s problems go? Seriously!!?!

The story unfolds

So now the story unfolds. It’s been over a month since Arabella has been home from residential. She was there for over two months.

She is now writing her own story in a book that will perhaps never be written. We did our best. Now here we will remain as a landing pad when her wings are broken from life as sometimes happens when a bird first leaves the nest.

We keep telling ourselves that everything will be okay. Even if it’s not, we will still walk through it together.

On the rough days we talk of Paul’s mom. She made a good life for herself. She didn’t have much. She didn’t have a high school diploma but was always able to find a job. She raised a child as a single parent when she was right around Arabella’s age. She struggled with mental health issues, but she had her mother to help her and later in life she married a good man. She had a house to live in.

If Martha could do it, then Arabella has a good chance to live life independently. In some ways, I think that Martha was happier than most people I know. Ignorance is bliss they say. I don’t even think she knew she was not very bright or that she was mentally ill.

Arabella is out in the world now. She is finding her way, even if it is not the path I would’ve chosen for her. She is not out of the woods, but she is doing so much better. She wants to live now. Crazy can be fun and exciting. Normal is boring anyway.

I am closing this series. It’s been very challenging to write about my daughter’s mental health struggles in only the way that personal painful pieces can be. But I feel like it’s been therapeutic for me as well.

From here on out I might get a little light and fluffy for awhile. I might post about my travels, wedding planning (yeah!), or go back to writing about the fortune cookies I’ve amassed. But I’m not going anywhere. I just need to lighten things up after talking about such serious personal topics.

I can be fun too, but you guys probably don’t know that about me.

Gratitude week 78

  1. Oh my gosh guys, this is super exciting!!! My daughter Angel got engaged over the weekend. Finally some good news!
  2. Summer!! Even though it’s been raining hard the last couple of days. (We do need the rain though).
  3. My daughter Arabella paid us back the money she owed us and so far loves her new job.
  4. I had two appointments with my therapist this past week. The last couple of weeks I’ve been really anxious and am starting to have stomachaches again. I’m hoping to manage my stress better, so here is to taking steps to do that.
  5. Yesterday I celebrated the graduation of my best friend’s son. Again, I was able to catch up with some acquaintances that I haven’t seen since before COVID. It was cool and rainy so we huddled inside their garage most of the afternoon. But it was nice to celebrate with friends on a rainy day that I wouldn’t do much else on. I won’t take for granted celebrating with friends after last year with COVID.
  6. I can’t believe that it will be the 4th of July next weekend. I have plans to go up north with my family to celebrate. It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen Luke and I haven’t seen my brother Mark and his wife since before COVID.
  7. Thunderstorms without severe weather.
  8. Oh my gosh, my daughter is getting married. How can that be??
  9. My daughter’s fiancĂ© Dan is a really great guy.
  10. I’m just grateful right now to be home and sleeping in my own bed.

From the beginning

Strangely enough after Arabella went to residential I got asked even more (rather unusual) questions by the therapist. What was your pregnancy, childbirth, and Arabella’s early infancy years like?

When I got pregnant with Arabella I had a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I was also babysitting 50 hours a week for the next door neighbor’s kid who was 3. She called me mom. The neighbors worked all the time then every weekend they dumped their kid off at grandma’s so they could party with friends. The mom was harsh and I thought she was rather verbally abusive. The dad wasn’t the greatest either. The whole situation disgusted me, but I felt rather envious too. I rarely got a break from my kids.

Right before I got pregnant, my brother Matt heard voices to tell him to attack my daughter Angel which he did at her 4th birthday party. After he hurt her, I set a boundary with my mom that Matt could not be around my children anymore. My mom pushed back against that boundary and tried to force Matt back into my kids life which caused a lot of stress. I lost all help when I pushed Matt away because my mom had to care for him and he wasn’t allowed around my kids. My MIL didn’t help much at all. She could barely handle the one kid she had. Even my husband had to work the day our daughter was born because he just started his business at the time. He was a one man show and he was the one that paid our bills.

I was worried when I found out I was having another girl. I would have been more worried if it was a boy though. My brother was fixated on hurting little girls. But if I had a boy I worried he would be schizophrenic/autistic like my brother. I didn’t tell anyone the gender because it was too painful. Either way invoked worry that robbed me of the joy of pregnancy.

Arabella was breech. They told me it didn’t matter because she was to be my 3rd C-section. I felt really sick after she was born and didn’t even want to nurse her because I had a reaction to the pain medicine. My mom stayed with the older kids overnight so I could have Arabella early in the morning. Then she dropped the kids off at the hospital right after Arabella was born because Matt had a dentist appointment. I scheduled my C-section so I would be in the hospital over the weekend when my husband didn’t have to work because we didn’t have anyone to watch the kids.

A week after my C-section I was home alone with all three kids. I remember being a zombie hopped up on pain medicine after sleepless nights. I’m not going to lie, it was hard. Thankfully the neighbors got divorced and I wasn’t babysitting anymore.

I was constantly stressed because I didn’t have the help I needed. I didn’t take very good care of myself. I sometimes wonder if I caused this with all the stress hormones constantly pumping through my body. I ended up getting mastitis twice. I was sick all the time. Right after Arabella was born my grandma had open heart surgery. I took on all the holidays since my grandma wasn’t able to.

I had a baby that cried constantly day and night. She refused to be comforted. She wouldn’t take a pacifier. She didn’t suck her thumb or fingers. She didn’t want to be held unless she was nursing. The only thing that she responded to was the infant rocker and having music constantly playing on repeat in her room at night on the CD player. When the CD would stop at the end and go back to the beginning, she would cry.

I took her to several doctors. Did she have an ear infection? That was the only reason my other kids would cry at that age. Was she autistic like my brother? Colic? (I suspect doctors tell parents that when they don’t know why your baby doesn’t stop crying). Big surprise, they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. I nursed her longer than the rest of my babies. When I weaned her, she took her tiny fists and beat them against my chest while screaming. My other kids didn’t do that. Everything seemed wrong but nothing was wrong. It took her over a year to finally sleep through the night.

The therapist thought that Arabella always had emotional dysregulation and that her condition was genetic. She didn’t experience any out of the norm trauma (death of a grandparent). She was a lot like my MIL who did experience trauma. Or did she? I don’t even know anymore. And if trauma caused her mental illness then how did it influence her genes to pass borderline on to her granddaughters? There is so much that I don’t understand yet, but I do know that Arabella’s infancy years were tough and apparently that is indicative of future problems.

Residential waiting list

We received the call that Arabella’s name came up on the waiting list for the DBT residential program for adolescent girls. We had less than a week to get everything together. She had to be there within a certain time period or she would lose her place. This was her last opportunity since they said she could not be there after turning 18. She was less than 3 months until 18 which meant by the time she came up on the waiting list again, she would be too old for the program.

She abruptly ended her time with the outpatient program that she was in for 2 months. I had to switch a dentist appointment around last minute. Thankfully they were able to sneak her in earlier with short notice. The residential program needed her dental records. We ended up getting all of the paperwork together and appointments done as soon as we possibly could. It was months of wait, wait, wait then boom hurry as fast as you could to get everything together. Plus I had to work with the insurance company which was pretty much a waste of my time. We ended up paying for everything out of pocket which wasn’t cheap. We emptied Arabella’s college fund. She wasn’t interested in college anyway. Without residential we honestly didn’t know if she would live that long anyway. This was our last ditch effort to save her life.

To make matters far more stressful, we also had a COVID scare within that time period. My daughter Angel’s boyfriend Dan tested positive then my daughter got sick with COVID as well. Once we found out he was sick, my daughter stayed with him at his parent’s house and didn’t come back home until she was better. It was a matter of life and death. If Arabella couldn’t go into the program because of a positive test I feared she would die. It was horrible and terrifying. FYI admitting your child into an inpatient, outpatient, or residential program is stressful and crappy as it is without the extra stress.

They ask questions such as how many suicide attempts have you made and when was the last one. My daughter answered that many times she cut herself so deeply that she was hoping not to wake up in the morning. They ask so many disturbing personal questions that no parent wants to hear the answer to. I suffered greatly the first time I saw the cutting on her arm. I had nightmares for days when I could sleep that is. It was very traumatic for me.

Thankfully Arabella’s COVID test came back negative and we all remained healthy at our house. I do think that the residential program has helped Arabella tremendously learn the skills that are needed to live a healthy and productive emotionally regulated life. We, as her parents, worked very closely with her therapist and the psychiatrist. We received a DBT parent workbook and listened to podcasts. It didn’t cure her. She is still taking plenty of medications. It was a very rewarding experience except for the cost. But as the saying goes…you get what you pay for.

Arabella was in the residential program for a little over 2 months. I’ve noticed a lot of improvements since she got back. It was worth it to give her a second chance at life. Now it is up to her what happens next. We did everything we could.

Gratitude week 77

  1. After a couple of nights away and not sleeping the best, it is nice to be home and sleep in my own bed.
  2. My son turned 21 this past week and we got to spend a lot of time with him for his birthday.
  3. My husband, son, and a friend of his went whitewater rafting. I wanted to go last year but never went. I’m glad I didn’t chicken out because it was a lot of fun. Plus it was a hot day which made it so much better.
  4. It’s the first day of summer! Woohoo! Funny thing is that it is quite chilly here. I turned off the A/C and put on a sweater.
  5. Paul and I worked most of the weekend for our business. It was nice because some friends of ours stopped by to chat that we haven’t seen since before COVID.
  6. I am grateful to have a wonderful husband that is a great father to our kids. For Father’s Day we took him out to eat and toured a maritime museum. He had a really nice day. I’m grateful for all the great dads out there that make a difference in their children’s lives or men who step up and provide that guidance.
  7. I’m grateful that life seems to be back on schedule again. Some friends of ours just invited us to their Halloween party this fall. It’s nice to have some events back on the calendar.
  8. I’m grateful that my daughter seems to like her new job.
  9. I’m grateful that the pool guys came out today to put in a new filter. It’s always nice when broken worn out things are fixed.
  10. I’m grateful that I haven’t had the chance to be bored this summer. So far it seems to be going a whole lot better than last year. I’m sure almost everyone can say an amen to that!!

Gratitude week 76

  1. Arabella found a waitressing job! I am grateful she has a job now.
  2. I forgot to mention this one sooner…Last year my mom, Arabella, and I were planning on going to Europe with the school group on a music tour. Because of COVID the trip got cancelled and the tour company kept $1900 per person. Hundreds of people joined a lawsuit against this company and we won. We got our money back. I can understand if the company kept a couple hundred dollars as a processing fee for the work done, but $1900 that a lot of students (and parents) worked hard to earn and fundraise for. I’m grateful for justice.
  3. Friday night we went to a surprise birthday party for the guy my husband works for in the off season of our business. It was held at a bar and grill that had a live band. We ended up seeing a lot of people we knew that we didn’t see since before the pandemic. Everyone was dancing and partying like it was 1999. It was so nice to see everyone and hear live music again.
  4. We had our first graduation party for the summer this past weekend as well. Again, it was nice to see people I haven’t seen since the pandemic. Although I’m not much of a social butterfly, it’s nice to have the choice to attend parties again.
  5. My son is turning 21 this week and I have his birthday all planned out for him. (He wanted me to plan everything which totally surprised me!).
  6. Talking about birthdays, my brother Mark called me today to wish me a happy birthday. Funny thing is, it’s not my birthday. He was off by a month. But it was great to talk to him since I haven’t seen nor talked to him since before COVID.
  7. I also talked to my brother Luke and saw my brother Matt over the weekend. I haven’t gotten this much attention from my brothers since before COVID. Strange but nice!
  8. I spent the last couple of days up north. It was nice to relax, read a book, go for a walk, kayak, and swim. Last night I spent the evening up north by myself. It was a little creepy since a storm blew through at night. I can’t remember the last time I was truly alone. I didn’t really like it. But I did like to eat what I wanted to, listen to the music I liked, and just do whatever.
  9. I totally whipped my mom playing cribbage. I know, I know. But I enjoy being competitive.
  10. Summer!!!! I totally broke down and put on the A/C. In my defense, we had the earliest heat wave ever recorded. We had a good week of hot and humid days in the 90’s. Some summers we don’t even see temps in the 90’s, very rarely in June. It hardly gets over 80 in June. But apparently not this summer when I wanted to make it without air conditioning to save money. But I love it hot and want to spend as much time as possible pool side, at the beach, or on a boat.