I finished my book!!

Last night I finished my book, my life story. It stirred within me many mixed emotions. I felt like I was covered in a blanket of deep sorrow, yet at the same time I felt joy. It’s been a journey of remembering and releasing in words previously unexpressed.

Last night I sent my book to two test readers, a friend who is an author and a friend that is a child psychologist who works specifically with autistic children. I also sent a copy to my therapist. After I receive feedback, I will edit my book again. Then I want to send my book to my husband, my daughter Angel, my son Alex, and my brother Luke. After that, I am going to find a publisher. Then I will share it with you.

Perhaps this will start the healing process, perhaps not.

I figure if I can do some really difficult things (like running a 50k or writing a book revealing my trauma), then I probably can figure out a way to do something almost everyone can do. Relax. Heal. Let go.

I have been working with my therapist on brainspotting. I shared my first session with you and that was a very positive experience. After that session, things took a dark turn. I have been releasing all of the negative garbage I’ve been holding inside. It stinks! I’ve been working hard on trying to express my feelings. It has been painful, yet beneficial. Through this process, my lifelong struggle with insomnia and nightmares has gone away.

For a long time, I understood myself. I know what triggers my depression and anxiety. I understand the attacks of my trauma on my well being. But I’ve never known what to do about it. Visiting a therapist is taking the next step. Self-awareness is important, but it isn’t a catalyst for change.

I’m trying to give up control. It’s not like I had any in the first place. Just like being a clean freak never seems to make the dirt go away. Being a control freak doesn’t give peace and serenity to the voice that cries out for it. Worry is a waste of time. It doesn’t bring me peace.

I am trying to figure out who I really am. For most of my life I lived in survival mode. Now who am I? The person I needed to be to survive? Or who I really am? It’s hard to be myself if I don’t know who I really am. It’s a new time for self-discovery and growth. I want to fully experience my purpose in life.

I started meditating. Maybe I will try yoga. I always burned my anxiety off by hard workouts at the gym. This is how I process my anger. I am going to keep this, but add to it by including relaxation exercises.

I am going to read a Bible verse a day. This will incorporate inspiration for spiritual healing and growth. I want to trust God more. I also want to trust the people that care about me even if it means I might get hurt. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships. I want to cut off unhealthy relationships altogether, and if I can’t then I’ll set healthy boundaries.

I also started visiting a wellness clinic for physical healing of my body. My nervous system took a big hit from the long term stress. I suffered from stomach and GI issues my whole life. I’ve been working on avoiding the foods I am sensitive to and rebuilding my gut for optimal physical health.

If I can train my body for a 50k, I can train my body for growth and healing. My book is done, but I will never stop writing. The story hasn’t ended yet. The best is yet to come.

Finding the key

I had a visit with my counselor to try brainspotting as an attempt to heal from the trauma I’ve experienced in my life.

I wanted to tell you about it before I forgot. It was a strange, almost mystical experience. My counselor asked me to bring in an item that would remind me of something tragic. I talked about the experience and then she had me follow a pointer with my eyes until I felt the strongest amount of emotion. I also had to focus on a part of my body that I felt that emotion in. I picked my stomach, because when doesn’t it hurt?

I was asked to visualize the negative emotions leaving my body. I thought of my grandma, that she was with me although she has been gone over 10 years now. I imagined blue birds taking the negative emotions from the top of my head from my straw like hair. Later I imagined that all of the negative emotions and pain that I experienced were worms that spilled out of my mind to feed the birds.

There was a great outpouring that the birds carried away, then later balloons came to assist the birds. I told my counselor that it felt weird. I was very skeptical and thought it was rather stupid at first. I am a very logical person, structured and rigid. There is no room in my mind for fantasy, make believe, imagination, playfulness, and magic. My world is not sparkly, it is black and white. My counselor said that is how I dealt with the trauma in my life.

After the appointment, I felt a sense of peacefulness that I can’t remember experiencing before. I did feel some brief intense anxiety that the birds flew in and took away. I slept for threes nights in a row without insomnia or nightmares. I even slept through a storm. I can’t remember how long it has been that I slept for three nights in a row without insomnia or nightmares. It was amazing.

But then it went away. The sadness settled back into my mind. Every time the balloons wanted to carry it away, the birds popped the balloons with their sharp beaks. Then the insomnia and nightmares came back.

There were two other times after that when I felt like the birds were taking out the worms and decay, on my first run after the 50k and when I was getting a massage.

Now, several weeks later, I am on lock down. The rational and logical part of my brain took back control. It is all rules and structure. There aren’t any feelings, good nor bad. I am back home where I feel safe.

But now I know there is another world of childlike wonder locked away somewhere in my mind. There is hope that one day I will once again be able to find the key to peace and serenity.

 

 

Unrest

I don’t want to do this anymore, this whole life thing. I want to hibernate somewhere, hidden away under cover.

I don’t know how I got to this point. I’m just tired of it. I’m just tired.

I couldn’t fall asleep last night. It was after midnight before I silently fell into slumber. This happened twice this week although this type of insomnia rarely happens.

I couldn’t stay asleep last night. I slept restlessly. I awoke several times. At 4 AM I had to go to the bathroom. This is the type of insomnia I call home.

I had one of the most intense nightmares that I had in a long time. I was a little girl. I was brought to an empty house because there was going to be a lot of blood, my blood. I went willingly because I knew I had to be the sacrifice. I was afraid. I was going to be hurt badly, but I would live through it. Before anything happened, the owner of the house came back. She looked like a grown up me. I told her that she needed to leave because she would get killed for being there. She tried to help me, we ran away. She was killed and I hid in the closet terrified knowing I would be next. Now we both were going to die because she tried to save me.

I awoke at 5:30, less than an hour before my alarm was going to go off.

Today is the day that my video is being posted. I didn’t know it until this morning. I hate the video. I want to destroy it. I feel so anxious about it.

Why do I have this need to tell everyone about the things I’ve experienced? I just don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to blog. I want to disappear off the face of the earth like I never even existed.

I thought of strange things. I remembered the book my mom used to read to me about Toad and Frog. They left the door open and winter came in. They were cold, sad, and lonely. They made soup out of their tears. It was almost as if the hauntingly sad child me came for an unwanted visit. But to cast her away would destroy us both.

I struggled to find the motivation to do everything I needed to do. Some days are like that. I’ve been stirring up my demons. But I was able to make it through. It is hard to do when my body and mind doesn’t let me rest.

Maybe tonight I will sleep.

Unrest.

 

Brainspotting

I’ve realized a few new things about myself over the past couple days. The things I once thought were normal, or at least normal to me, I am questioning. I think I just got used to some things that are just not right.

There isn’t a day that goes past that I don’t think about the childhood trauma I’ve experienced. I wish I could just get over it or at best think about these things every other day. As a result, I’ve struggled with lifelong anxiety and depression.

But that isn’t all. I constantly experience exhaustion and fatigue. My doctor wanted me to go in for a sleep study when I was in my 20’s. I did and was told that I never went into deep sleep.

I started reading the book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk. I would highly recommend the book if you have experienced or are interested in trauma in general. One of the chapters talks about EMDR. EMDR is a therapeutic process in which someone focuses on a pointer moving back and forth while thinking of traumatic experiences. It somewhat mimics REM sleep which PTSD sufferers apparently don’t get a lot of. It is supposed to be very effective in healing trauma.

When I was a little girl, my autistic brother was physically violent with me on a daily basis for years. Sometimes while I was trying to sleep at night, he would come in my room and threaten me with violence. As a child, I slept with my door open. You see, I was afraid of the monsters in my closet and the ghosts under my bed that would attack me when my door was closed. I thought like a child. I feared illogical demons instead of credible threats to my safety.

The stress hormones pumped through my veins with a steady beat day and night. My body learned to never relax. I had to be alert for danger at all times. Deep sleep wasn’t safe.

I started paying attention to my sleep patterns lately. They’ve been the same as long as I can remember. I don’t have problems falling asleep, but I can’t seem to stay asleep. I usually awake between 2 and 4 and stay awake for an hour or two. I try not to think because then I might as well get up because I won’t be able to fall back asleep. Sometimes I get up and walk around.

Usually once or twice a week, I have bad dreams. It seems when I am just about ready to go into REM sleep, my body awakens me. Even though the danger is gone, my body is still on high alert.

I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a nightmare when I had a dream. When things are really bad, I experience insomnia and intense nightmares together on the same night. These are the nights that I wake up sobbing, can’t go back to sleep, and if I do I have nightmares again. Thankfully it doesn’t happen all that often.

I am exhausted, but can’t relax. My anemia is making things worse. I lack energy and can’t seem to think straight.

My counselor is trained in brainspotting, which is an offshoot of EMDR. Next session I am going to give it a try and see how it works. Maybe I’ll finally be able to get some sleep. Even though a pattern of insomnia and nightmares is normal to me, I don’t think that it is normal. Maybe there is nothing I can do about it, but I’m going to try.

Luke’s visit, part 4

When we were young, my dad was a very cruel man. He is not like that anymore.

Luke said what terrified him the most was the train. It was one of his earliest memories. He remembers dad inching closer and closer to the tracks while the train was passing. He hid crying in the back window of the car as my dad and brother Mark laughed. He said I wasn’t there.

I don’t remember this being an isolated incident. I was there. I almost forgot about this. The train did not terrify me. I liked to wave at the man in the caboose when mom took us on walks. As kids, we lived near the railroad tracks. I found the sound of the train’s whistle to be rather soothing at night. We even saw a train derail in our lifetime, but not on those tracks.

I remember my dad doing other things like crossing the tracks right before the train passed. But I think he found much more satisfaction in waiting for the train to pass. He inched closer and closer until the front of the car seemed to kiss the side of the train car.

If you get really close to a train, it is squeaky and loud. The cars teeter and rock back and forth making an awful grating noise. Sparks fly. It seems like it could come off the tracks at any moment and destroy the car in a big ball of fire. My dad took the opportunity to scare Luke or any of us whenever he had the chance. I remember this happening several times with the train. I was there, but Luke does not remember that.

We couldn’t comfort our terrified sibling otherwise it would probably be our turn next. Compassion and empathy were not rewarded. In fact, they were more of a weakness. Laughter was probably the safest response. If you laughed or acted like it didn’t scare you, he wouldn’t do that to you. I often responded with no response. But Luke was terrified and I think he was too little to hide it.

My dad did other things to scare us in the car. He drove fast and laughed at us if we tried to put on our seat belts. He drove fast over hills. He would taunt us by saying that he had no idea what could be waiting on the other side of the hill. I was big enough to see out of the window, maybe they weren’t. There could be a family walking on the other side of the hill….a dog…another car and he wouldn’t be able to stop from hitting whatever could be on the other side. Sometimes he would drive up hills on the wrong side of the road.

I’ve had nightmares about him driving fast or going up steep hills not knowing what could be on the other side. I think it was also the root of my struggles with a fear of driving, especially hills. I was afraid of hurting someone. I was afraid of not having control over that. I couldn’t see what was ahead of me.

Today I am obsessed with conquering my fears. If the fear wins, so does my dad.

I built a big wall around myself. I have a thick shell. But maybe somewhere inside is that little girl who is kind and caring.

I don’t think that my mom even knew about the things our dad did when she wasn’t around.

 

Crossed i’s

I had every intention of posting another day on my travel log. Although I have been working on it for a few days, it seems to be lacking something. Emotion, perhaps? Oh, I think I will more than make up for it today.

It has been a rough week. I haven’t been sleeping. For every good night of sleep, there are 9 nights of not sleeping well. Maybe if I felt rested things would be easier for me.

I awoke this morning crying. My MIL visited me in a dream. She looked the way she used to, all full of life before the cancer devastated her body. We hugged and said how much we missed each other. Then her husband Darryl started giving me his belongings in the dream and we feared he would commit suicide. It was all rather horrifying and something that we worry about.

Loss is hard. It hurts sometimes to care about other people.

I found out this week that one of my best friends is moving a couple of hours away. This weekend my daughter will be leaving to go back to college. I feel pretty bummed out. I feel a little lost actually.

To make things worse in my life…while I was updating my travel post for the ninetieth time, I received a phone call from a friend of a friend. It wasn’t a social call. It was a call asking what my son was doing this past weekend.

Apparently, my son was going to pick up his daughter to go to her cabin for a party. Her dad busted her with alcohol and grounded her. She told her friends to go ahead without her. So about 20 teens showed up at her family’s cabin, did some hard core underage drinking, and trashed the place.

It didn’t go well confronting my son. We implemented a no staying overnight at friend’s houses policy for a month, a curfew of 10, and he would have to contact the parent to apologize for his part in the party. He was really upset when we told him he also needed to contact his girlfriend’s parents. He was afraid that her parents would make her break up with him. Thankfully for him his girlfriend told her mom about it.

It’s been really hard to concentrate at work with all of the stress and lack of sleep. Next week we have an auditor coming in. We need to make sure all of our t’s are crossed and our i’s are dotted. I feel like I’m crossing my eyes.

We had employees take off this week due to illness or sick kids. I felt a little jealous. Is that sick or what?? Maybe if I was sick I would be able to sleep and be oblivious to the world around me.

Don’t worry…tomorrow I will post about travel. There will be a lot of nice pictures and a lack of nasty little emotions.

Good grief!

The night ended with a crescendo of discord..

The morning came too soon…

I awoke at 3:30 AM unable to fall back to sleep for an hour. When I did sleep, I had another nightmare and woke up crying right before my alarm went off. For several weeks now I’ve slipped into a cycle of insomnia and nightmares, only sleeping good maybe once a week.

It doesn’t seem like my body is able to handle stress. I spent most of my morning in the bathroom with a major acid reflux flare up. I haven’t been able to eat much today. Then I had to train our new employee this morning and somehow manage to look like I didn’t wake up crying, that I actually slept, and that I spent the morning not almost throwing up my meager breakfast.

We got the news last night that my husband’s mother Martha is down to 90 lbs. She told her husband Darryl that she would like to die at home. It’s strange when someone is dying. I find myself remembering the old times together. Remember when….? I want to write a eulogy for her and go through all of the old pictures this weekend.

While all of this has been happening with Paul’s mom, we have had to deal with teenager issues. My daughter Arabella has been very angry lately. We have not been getting along at all. I can’t even count how many times she told me she hated me yesterday. She said a few things a lot worse than that too.

Then there was an argument with my son last night. His girlfriend made it to state and he wants to watch her perform this weekend. I was under the assumption that he was going there with her parents. Apparently, I was wrong.

I found out that Alex was planning on driving the 8 hour round trip with two of his friends. First of all, this violates his probationary license. Also, friend one was the guy that decided it would be smart to bang his head against the table 5 times when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s. Who knows if he ended up with a concussion. He did end up with a bruised and bloody forehead.

The other friend is the guy whose mom came over and yelled at us because my son wasn’t giving him all of the rides she thought he deserved. He was the kid that rode in the trunk of the car.

Then a week ago, Arabella forgot her laptop at home on a test day. I had my son drop it off at her school which meant that he and this friend he drives would be late for school. He wanted me to give them an excuse because if his friend was late or missed school one more time then his parents would be fined for truancy. My son said that his parents would be knocking at our door expecting us to pay for this. Which I wouldn’t doubt, but wouldn’t do.

These are the friends he wants to take on an 8 hour road trip and share a hotel room with unsupervised! We said absolutely NOT! Not at the age of 16. We don’t even let him stay home alone yet. This created an argument after 10 last night..

These are just some of the things we are dealing with as we have to make very difficult decisions. Decisions like….when we get the call that the end is near, do we take the kids along?? Paul and I have never seen anyone die before.

I feel like a complete failure filling the role of supportive wife.

Before I end with doom and gloom and just another negative social media post among many out there…This time under intense stress, Paul and I have been working together. Paul is a total optimist, but through this grieving process he has sunk down lower than I have ever seen him go. I have been reaching down into the darkness to bring him up.

Even if I am a basket case for today, he knows that there will always be supper on the table (even if the kids don’t like it). His laundry will be done. Some comfort can be found in order and routine, however small. And he said that he appreciates that he can trust me completely to not run the business he worked so hard to build into the ground if he needs to take time off.

I am thankful to have found such a wonderful man. Now we need to continue to trust that God will bring us through this together…

The weight of my world

I am having nightmares again..two last week and one this week so far..

Last night I dreamed my sister-in-law Emily died. It was right around 2 AM. I stayed up a few minutes and went back to sleep into the same nightmare again. Then for the next 2 hours I continued the dream. Emily died and her little girls were without a mom. It was shocking, unexpected, and tragic. Not only did Emily die, but whatever killed her was contagious and other family members were exposed and might die. I woke up crying and here I am typing a rough draft at 4 AM wanting to sleep, but not really wanting to sleep.

This is a stressful time in my life. I thought I was going to fall into a deep depression after my daughter Angel went back to college. It didn’t happen. Honestly, I have been too busy to notice her absence. 

Work has been crazy busy, but yesterday we hired our new employee. There is relief in sight.

My mother-in-law, still dying and getting weaker with each visit. We have been going to see her as much as possible. It is a depressing and hopeless situation. I feel a lot of guilt because I have been neglecting my own parents. 

All of this brings up guilt from when I was a caregiver for my Aunt Grace. She needed so much care that it took all of my time. I didn’t spend as much time with my grandma whom I was closer to. I often drove by grandma’s house without stopping because Grace needed me more. 

Is this how my mother felt all these years taking care of my autistic brother Matt? I think I am finally getting it. I wanted to spend time with you, but he needed me soooo much more. 

Matt still needs her more, will always need her more. He had a meltdown over Christmas. He went home from work one winter day with his boots on and forgot his shoes at work. He was so worked up that he needed to be medicated. My mom told me about this on Christmas Eve because someday she said I will be getting the phone calls.

The weight of my world is so suffocating some times. 

I’ll probably worry about this

It was Friday night. I was hitting up a local bar that I never have been to but was close to home. I was surrounded by people, alone. There was a man outside. He was very large and scary looking. He also brandished a semi automatic weapon of some sort. He was telling people what to do. I was afraid, but I left my cell phone in the car.

Then it seemed like I went back in time to the 1980’s. The place seemed old and rather run down. No one had a cell phone, but the owner of the place had an old rotary phone that I called 911 on to try to get help. 911 said that it wasn’t in their jurisdiction. Sorry we can’t help you. I called my husband. He came inside the building with me along with faceless nameless other people I didn’t know who seemed oblivious to the threat. When he got there, I hid in the back room with a machete. I felt like a coward for hiding and leaving him out there to defend me.

They found me in the back room anyway. I had a knife fight with another person to defend myself. It was awkward because I was left handed. I got stabbed in the stomach. I was dying but felt no pain and wondered why.

I woke up at 3:43 AM.

On Friday night, we actually went to the nursing home to visit Martha. At the end of the visit, we watched the birds in the cages.

Last night I dreamed that I was going to be dropped off somewhere in the middle of nowhere to run at night. It was going to be dangerous. It might storm. I might have to seek shelter. I was excited until I got attacked by the nursing home birds. I woke up screaming NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Two nights with nightmares, two days without exercise. Maybe I really do need to run to outrun my demons.

Yesterday I thought a lot about worrying. It has been a life long struggle for me. I decided to keep a list of every worry that came across my mind. I gave up after already having at least a dozen before I left for work.

I realize that worry is not going to add an extra day to my life. Worrying and overthinking every possible scenario does not equate to having control. It takes away my joy and I really want to sever its hold on me.

Sometimes I also have anxiety, which is a lot different from worry. Sometimes I even panic about the things I tell you. Opening up. Being honest. But if I really (over)think about it, who cares? Probably not the 3 people that actually take the time to read my posts.

I hate it when people tell me I need to worry less. Don’t worry. Be happy. Don’t you think I’ve already worried about how I can worry less?

Or they tell me that I really don’t trust God because if I did I wouldn’t worry. That just plain hurts my feelings. Let go and let God. If it were only that easy. Obviously those people don’t have the same struggle. If they did they would realize that it is not a kind, compassionate, or caring thing to say. It actually gives me more to worry about.

Sometimes I want to slam people with ‘you really don’t trust God enough’ for every weakness or struggle they have.

Wow, guess who is feeling a little edgy today??

I am going to end this here and sit around for the next couple of hours worrying about what I just wrote.

 

 

The Chicago drama…

Just a short recap…I got my pants back. Yes! I didn’t have to see Hamilton in PJ’s!

After getting my pants back Friday night, we stopped at the hospital to visit Martha. She was doing a lot better and was moved out of the ICU. I felt a lot better heading to Chicago knowing things were better at home. Plus, I had pants.. There’s that!

I won’t bore you with the trip down to Chicago as it was very uneventful. We checked into our hotel and headed for a late afternoon showing of the Blue Man Group. It was an awesome high energy show.

We took the subway to the show. We stuck out like a sore thumb all dressed to the nines and all. There was a man that wanted money to help Paul get a subway pass. The security guard asked if we were okay. Immediately after entering the subway, we saw a man that had a sign that said ‘Hungry as F*ck’. He appeared to be sleeping. The subway car smelled like piss, but being on it didn’t scare me. I just fear irrational things.

It was bitterly cold in Chicago with wind chills below zero. I broke down and bought myself a hat. I watched the passersby from the window as we ate supper late Saturday night. Young girls walked with streets on their way out in short skirts, high heels, and no coats. There was a group of young guys with pants that didn’t cover their rears. I thought that went out with the 90’s. Guess not? Everyone looked so cold. I finally reached the age were being warm is more important than looking cool.

I had a hard time sleeping at night. I thought I heard someone getting murdered out in the street in the middle of the night. I looked out my window in the morning to see if I could glimpse a body in the dumpsters.

I have also been waking up with nightmares. I have this crazy fear when it is cold outside that I forgot to let the dog back in and he is freezing to death. My son was staying at his friend’s house down the road and was going to be pet sitting. I worried that the dog was out all night. Sometimes at home, I get up to check that the dog is alive and inside. It is a totally irrational fear that I can’t seem to shake.

But you want to hear about the sold out Hamilton?? The musical was greater than I ever expected it to be. Angel sat in front of the computer literally all day the minute the tickets went on sale. She was able to snag tickets for Paul, my mom, her boyfriend Mitch, and I. The tickets had an obstructed view. I had a pole in the middle of my view. Regardless, the show was absolutely awesome. It was worth it!

Then came the long trip back home. We got lost trying to find our car after the show. It seemed like the skyscrapers stopped our navigation from working properly. So we ended up wandering around the streets in our dress clothes in the bitter cold cursing modern technology.

It was so bright in Chicago on the dark night that we failed to notice that our headlights were off. We drove through downtown Chicago and were on the interstate when I noticed that someone opened her car window and was frantically waving at me. It was then that we figured out our lights were off the whole time.

It was at this time that Arabella started calling me. She stayed over at a friend’s for a birthday party and got dropped off at home. She said that she wasn’t feeling well and might have strep. She was feverish and delirious. She complained of being cold. She said that she was going to turn on the oven and open the door to warm up. It freaked me out that she was home alone sick and we were a long way from home.

We finally got home late last night. I checked on Arabella. The house was trashed but the pets were alive. Alex overfed Angel’s fish so that caused a fight. But it was a lot better than our arrival home from Florida last year when our pet sitter was stuck in the snow bank after trying to leave our house that was covered in dog crap, vomit, and urine. Fun times!

I had to take poor Arabella to the doctor today. She does have strep and is delirious when feverish. She was crying and arguing with me about why she should cut her hand off. When asked if anyone else was sick in her house, she responded that the pets were very sick with fleas. She was convinced that the doctor was trying to steal from her. We sure had some interesting conversations.

The saga continues…