When fear calls

I called my daughter that Sunday morning right before church started.

She was worried about suicide…or murder/suicide. After everything that happened, I shared her concern. What could I do about it?

I had been scheduled to sing that morning with the worship team. I ended the call abruptly as I saw everyone head up to sing.

I worried. Maybe this is good-bye. Maybe I will never see my parents again. It’s a horrible feeling especially when I had to act happy and sing on a live recorded feed. I felt so fake.

Smile! I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out. I started shaking. Smile. This could be the last day he is alive, they are alive. My God, the horror. Twenty minutes later, I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. Everything in my body told me to run off the stage. Flee. I had to stay. Everyone was watching me, in church and even online.

Maybe they would think I was having stage fright. I wish that was all it was. I couldn’t tell anybody. I wanted to drive out to the house. But the day before the car broke down, the only one free that afternoon. Plus I was asked not to because my family didn’t feel like it was safe.

I wanted to ask for prayer that day. But my husband was not in church that morning. He got asked by a friend of mine to help her out with something in place of her husband who spent the night in jail. I told him that helping out someone in need was more important than attending church. He agreed.

Shallow, I suppose. If I left the stage for prayer, it would be obvious. Then people might wonder if I was having problems with my husband because he wasn’t there. It could be misconstrued and gossiped about. I didn’t want that.

I called my brother Luke when I got home. Although he was treated the worst by our dad, he was the first to try to pull dad out of the grave he dug. That day my mom took my brother Matt back to his group home and stayed with us for several days. I made sure the doors were locked and became hyper-vigilant to signs of trouble.

Sometimes I wish my only stress was worrying about the holidays. The simple worries of getting that perfect gift. I couldn’t even think. Or worrying about hosting parties with special diets. Or having 4 teenagers in my house. Anything but this.

We are all worried. You’ve been depressed, suicidal before. Now you have a reason to end it all. Is this the only way your heart will change? Will your curses to God change to cries for help? Maybe this is the only way. But it’s not what I wanted for you, for the rest of us.

It’s been a month since I initially wrote this. I feel anxious. Tomorrow I will be singing on the worship team for the first time since this happened. I don’t want to do it anymore because it is triggering my feelings of fear. I understand why people seek isolation in times of despair. So many seemingly innocent things trigger bad feelings and memories associated with them. I’ve been trying to see my world as it really is but at times it is utterly terrifying and I question everything I blindly believed before.

What else could go wrong??

Seriously, what else could go wrong?? Have you ever muttered those words to yourself only to regret them a few minutes later?

It’s been one of those days.

After I got home from running 5 miles at the gym, I got ready to wash a load of towels. So far, so good. I grabbed a dirty towel off the rack in the bathroom and went to turn off the light. The light switch is next to a door frame made of rough wood. As I was turning off the light my finger went down the wood frame and I got a splinter under my nail. It was extremely painful.

I got out the tweezers and tried in vain to get the splinter out. After a half an hour I sent a text to my husband to come in from his office to help. He tried a couple times, but it was so painful I started crying.

I decided to call the doctor’s office, but they were fully booked until like August or something. This is a horrible story, but I was thinking about a friend of ours that had a sliver under his fingernail that got infected. A couple months ago he ended up having to get his finger removed from that infection.

I decided to go to fast care. I didn’t want to have any more problems over the holiday. When Paul and I got there, they said that they didn’t have the tools to help me. So we walked around the store while I thought about what to do next.

In the meantime, my aunt Jan texted me saying I needed to take care of my mom. The devastating news I got was about my family. I wish I could tell you everything, but I can’t right now. Anyway, I was kind of upset about the text. Why do I need to take care of my mom? I am also going through hell.

While we were in the store, my aunt Jan called Paul. She wanted to make sure I got her message and Paul told her how he felt. He said that I have been taking care of my mother since I was a little girl. Who is taking care of Alissa? Why ask me about my mother? Why focus on my autistic brother? No one ever cared enough to ask how I was doing. I was just expected to be strong to take care of everyone else.

Paul told Jan that I have my own family now. I have 4 teenagers in the house. Alissa just needs to take care of Alissa because she is having a really hard time now too. It felt good to have someone stick up for me. But it didn’t feel good to have a personal conversation in the store while I was stressed about my finger.

Next stop, urgent care. The lady at the front desk asked me if I wanted to pay for my care. I mean, not really. Who does? But I wasn’t in the mood to make wise cracks.

Thankfully I was able to get in right away. The doctor tried in vain for a half an hour to get the splinter out. It was very painful because he had to dig in my nail bed. I was bleeding.

He said I had a couple options. First, I could do nothing. It most likely wouldn’t come out on its own, but it might. He could give me antibiotics. If it got infected or continued to be painful, I could contact a hand surgeon to have it removed. Or he could give me anesthesia and keep trying to dig deeper under my nail. Even then he gave himself a 50% chance to be able to get it out.

I just wanted it out, so I opted for the anesthesia. The anesthesia numbed my finger, but it still hurt. It was just like going to the dentist. I could feel everything even though they gave me enough anesthesia to take out my tooth. The doctor gave me a second dose of anesthesia. I could still feel pain, but it was muted a little.

I felt like I was going to pass out. I was in pain off and on for a couple hours at that point. I felt sick although I didn’t eat hardly anything all day. After another 20 minutes of poking underneath my nail, he was able to get it out.

While I was there, I heard screaming in the background. Someone else was vomiting nonstop, and another guy went into cardiac arrest. Call 9-1-1. When I got back to the reception area, it looked like a crime scene. There were several squad cars and ambulances. People were huddled together crying.

I debated whether or not Paul and I should burn our clothes after our trip to urgent care. Who wants the plague for Christmas??

Then I came home and did a head lice check on one of my kids. Thankfully, I didn’t see anything. Oh, and I almost hit a deer picking up the girls from school.

Honestly, I’m not even sure if it is safe for you to be reading this.

 

 

Done, done, and almost done

I am so relived that all of the difficult things over my head this month are now done.

I finished my first 50k. I wasn’t sure I could do it. Being anemic and having a rough summer health wise made me really question my ability to get it done.

Today I sent in my video to the local autism chapter about what my childhood was like being a sibling of someone who was violently autistic. I also gave tips to parents on how to support their non-autistic children. I created a new Facebook account and a support page for siblings.

Making the video was very difficult, not just emotionally either. Somewhere in my mind I expected that I would look like someone on the news. I would be smooth, polished, and look like I was 25. The joys of being a perfectionist!

I found that I couldn’t make the video when other people were home. My husband walked in the room while I was recording and I had to start over. So I decided to tell everyone when I was recording to not walk into the room. But I could still hear the bass from my son’s music. The beat of the music banged in my head distracting me. I was paranoid that everyone could hear it.

Then I waited for the small window of time where I was completely alone in the house. I was still hoping that the dog wouldn’t bark. I created 3 fifteen to twenty minute videos on my phone. After I was finished, I watched the videos. They were okay. I was very critical of myself. Man, do I look old and tired. Look at those big black rings under my eyes. It was hard talking for that long in front of a camera without a script. Plus I was never one to like hearing recordings of myself singing or speaking.

Then I had problems sending the videos to my contact person because the videos were so large. It took me 6 days to figure that one out after a day and a half of actually making the videos. I wanted to wear the same shirt, hair style, and makeup to look like the whole thing was effortless. But trust me when I say it was not. I deleted more recordings than I kept.

Right before sending them out, I had a moment of sheer panic. It’s that awful feeling that you get before doing something risky, scary, but exhilarating. Would the videos be good enough? Would my best efforts suck? What would my family think? I feared success. I feared failure. My thoughts fluctuated between what I created sucked to everyone is going to know everything I never wanted anyone to know about me. I wanted to delete all of the hard work I put into this.

It is finished now. I sent them. Whatever happens, happens.

Next week I will go back to writing my book. I finished my research. I read about 40 journals written my myself, my mom, and the schools my brother went to. I read countless letters, notes, and articles about my brother. I even went back and reread my blog searching for clues. It’s done. I have everything I need to finish the book.

I am done, done, and almost done. If I heal and help other people in the process, it is worth it!

Learning (to let go) the hard way

I don’t know where to start. I don’t even know when it all started, the specific moment when things started falling apart. All I know is that now we are in crisis mode and I’m afraid that we can’t put it all back together in one piece.

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but I took a week off of writing last week. It wasn’t intentional. The previous week my son brought home a paper to sign up for honors band several hours away out of state. I hastily made arrangements. I cancelled plans and found someone to work for me so I could take him. I thought that maybe this was all he needed to get back into wanting to go to college for music. But I was wrong.

You may remember back in September that we toured a college for music and then a week later Alex dropped out of band. After talking to the teacher, he decided not to drop out of band. Now he got kicked out of band, but I am getting ahead of myself in the story.

I thought this would be a good mother-son road trip, a time of bonding. Two days before leaving, Alex said he didn’t want to go because he would be missing a party a friend was hosting because a couple more friends turned 18. I was unsure whether or not we would actually go, but we went.

I dropped him off the next morning full of hope. I picked him up a couple of hours later full of dread. He didn’t like it so he just walked out. His teacher called me angry. I literally felt sick to my stomach because I was so stressed out. What was I going to do? I just wanted to go home. But Paul was so angry that he would’ve kicked Alex out. Plus I spent a lot of money to rent a cabin and it was a really long drive home.

Instead I decided to stay. I spent the weekend talking to Alex. He opened up to me and for awhile I felt like everything was going to be okay.

On Monday morning, I talked to Paul. I told him that we needed to have more fun and let go. Life is just not fun anymore. To be honest, I’ve been feeling so depressed that I didn’t want to do anything that helps me deal with my stress. I didn’t want to blog, I didn’t want to run. Putting one step in front of the other seemed like it would consume too much energy.

Later on Monday, we got a call from the school. Tuesday we met with the principal and dean of students. Alex is getting kicked out of band. He is also failing 2 other classes and may not graduate. He was suspended several days for being tardy, but at least he is still going to school.

We have just been beside ourselves for the last week trying to cope. We are going to be meeting with the school counselor and even set up an appointment with a regular counselor to help our son. The good news is that our son is talking to both of us. Paul and I have been taking turns talking to him. For awhile we think he will be okay and then we are filled with anger and despair.

Alex now has a dream to go into business. We are trying to keep that dream alive to motivate him. But it has been hard. Paul’s blood pressure has been sky high. I’m afraid to stress him out any more than he already is. I have been having stomachaches. Plus I have been struggling with depression. All the things that help me cope healthily I want to push away.

I feel very anxious and panic when I hear the phone ring. I have become paranoid that something bad is going to happen to him. I am not at peace in my life right now. I think people view us as crappy parents. But we are trying everything in our power to help our son succeed. We are trusting that God has a plan for him.

I am trying to take care of myself so I can help him. He is 18. Isn’t my job over? Is this why letting go of children into adulthood is so hard? Why do I feel like I am sending a two year old out to play in traffic? Is any of this normal?? He wants to leave, but he is just not ready. It’s so hard to let go when the future is uncertain. I will be able to do that a little easier once he graduates, if he graduates. Right now I want to fix and control.

I have to learn to let go even if things don’t go the way I want them to.

 

I am the problem?

Okay, I have something that I have to admit. I didn’t vote last week.

I apparently am the problem within my state and country right now.

But wait, before you unfollow…I have an excuse. Gum disease. You heard me right.

Monday I had my regularly scheduled dental check up. For the record, I think that dentists and everyone associated with the dental field are sadists. They seem to take great joy in my pain. And if the dental procedure doesn’t hurt, the bill sure will.

Back to Monday, the hygenist told me that I needed to come in as soon as possible for a deep cleaning. I scheduled an appointment for the following day over the lunch hour.

So when Tuesday rolled around, I went to the gym in the morning to work out. After that, I hurried off to work so I could leave early for the dentist.

After 20 minutes of painful drilling, I asked the hygenist what I did wrong. She said that gum disease is caused by poor hygiene. I pleaded that I floss several times a week and brush several times a day. I argued my innocence like a convicted felon who was incarcerated for a crime never commited. Paul said that everyone probably says they have good hygiene even if they don’t.

Really, is there a wrong way to floss??

Gum disease could also be cause by stress and hormones and I am sticking to it.

I got poked, prodded, and slapped with a $200 bill.

For a couple of hours after the appointment, I felt like crap. I don’t know if I’m getting an ulcer or if it was the aftermath of the extreme anxiety I feel towards dentists.

I went back to work with the idea that I would leave early to vote. That didn’t work out because we had an employee call in so I had to stay late.

I barely made it home in time to eat something before play practice. How could I go vote?

We just moved and I couldn’t find any mail sitting around associated with my name and new address. Plus the cars outside of where I would vote were lined up into the next county. How could I zip in and out before my next time committment??

So I didn’t vote. I am the problem with this country right now. Good intentions don’t count as a ballot. Might as well blame it on the dentist. Yeah, why not??

 

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.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #12

Fearless courage is the foundation of victory.

I have a lot of fears.

It would probably be easier making a list of things I am not afraid of.

Ironically, I am not afraid of confronting my fears.

But I think that has more to do with my fear of letting fear control me.

Does that make me courageous?

There was a time when driving on the highway would fill me with extreme anxiety. I was fine one minute, then the next I was filled with panic. The tunnel vision would start. Blackness slowly enveloped me until I couldn’t see the cars around me. I started sweating profusely. I had to open the car windows even if it was in the dead of winter. The noise from the radio became really loud. I needed silence. I had to slow down. I had to get off the highway or I was going to die. I muttered frightened prayers. I had to keep breathing..

For years, I dealt with this…the panic attacks out of the blue while driving. For a long time, I could only drive from one entrance ramp to the next exit. I felt like a complete failure every time I had to get off the highway as my body shook and trembled uncontrollably with fear.

I kept at it though. It was a very long process of celebrating small victories. At first, it was driving on the highway and making it past two exits. I’m not sure how the fear started in the first place. I was never in an accident. I think it had to do more with feeling tired. I suffered a bit from highway hypnosis. I was afraid that I would fall asleep and kill someone. I had fallen asleep while driving before. Coffee only made things worse. Instead of being awake and focused, it made me jittery and nervous.

I am the type of person that has a hard time sitting down and not being preoccupied without falling asleep. I can fall asleep during the best movies, but sometimes have trouble staying asleep at night. Why??

When I started feeling groggy while driving, I would go into hyper alert mode and start feeling anxiety. After awhile I paired driving with anxiety and boy was that hard to break. I pretty much conquered that fear now. But I am still afraid of long distance highway driving. I’m afraid that it wouldn’t take much to unravel everything I did.

How can I follow my dreams of traveling the world if I am terrified by almost every mode of travel?? I had to keep doing it even if I was afraid. I have to keep driving. I have to keep flying. Nothing conquers the fear of flying more than booking a flight half way around the world. Trust me! I was terrified more about the prospect of a 20 hour flight than I actually was doing it. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be.

Last summer I was utterly terrified to complete my first Half Iron. It seemed insurmountable as I watched the huge waves pound the shore. My legs felt like rubber on the bike. But after I finished, I felt unbelievably victorious. It was such an accomplishment for me.

This summer I signed up for my first trail marathon through the bluffs. I will be sleeping the weekend of the race in a tent. I have no doubt that this is going to be very challenging. Running a marathon over hilly terrain after a sleepless night in a tent will not be a piece of cake. I am afraid.

I will be doing this for my birthday. Why I can’t just get drunk and feel like crap the normal Wisconsin way is beyond me…

I know that if I can do this, it will take the cake as the best birthday ever!

I have a lot of fears, but I am willing to fight them.

If fearless courage is the foundation of victory…I don’t think you can have courage without being afraid of something first. The trick is not letting fear win.

 

Blizzard blues

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It’s the third day of the blizzard now.

Yesterday it took my husband and son 4 hours to shovel out the driveway.

It is very likely that we are going to break the record of the biggest blizzard ever recorded in Wisconsin. This is the biggest snowstorm I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. By the time it is all said and done, we should have at least 3 ft of snow on the ground.

We have 30 mph sustained winds with gusts around 50 mph. It sounds like a freight train out there. Or maybe the roar of waves during a storm.

I awoke during the night to what sounded like distant sirens. I can’t even explain it. I don’t think I’ve heard it before, the howling wail.

I felt anxiety earlier in the day. Saturday is my long run day. I have a hard time with forced relaxation and sitting still. I finished my jigsaw puzzle, did a couple loads of laundry, and cleaned the kitchen.

Last night we received notification that there was an emergency code red. There is a tow ban, which means if you get stuck you won’t be getting out. We could get ticketed for going out. The roads are open for emergency only.

I had a hard time winding down to go to sleep because I felt the panic of being trapped surge within me. I was exhausted, but anxious and worried at the same time.

Isn’t it strange how anxiety works? I felt utterly exhausted, but had this useless nervous energy that wouldn’t let me relax and go to sleep. It would be great if I could write brilliant words or something along those lines. It is good for nothing, except running which I couldn’t do. The gym was closed.

I feel better with the morning light. Maybe it is good sometimes to try to relax, even if it is something I am not good at.

I’ve decided to take photos and document the biggest blizzard I will probably see in my lifetime. I will share the best with you after this storm is done.

Until then, I don’t want to hear anybody complain about how hot it is. I don’t want to see pictures of smiling people in shorts next to flowers.

I guess you could say I have the blizzard blues. Maybe I should write a song about it, I have enough time. School will probably be closed tomorrow. I doubt I will be able to get to work.

I might have enough time to dust off my summer clothes. Maybe I could crank the furnace to 80 and set up a beach towel on the carpet.

Or maybe I should cut down the snowy pine and call it Christmas.

I’m sick with spring fever. I’m going stir crazy.

The (guilty) party

A couple of months ago, I shared with you the story of how my son was involved in an underage drinking party at a friend’s cabin. The problem was that his friend wasn’t there. She was supposed to go but got busted with alcohol by her parents before she even left the house. My son, the driver, was sitting with a car full of teens at a gas station waiting for her.

My son received a text stating that she could no longer go. It would have been reasonable to turn around at this point and head towards home. But she told them to go without her. Maybe she would show up later. She also texted them explaining how to get into the cabin if it was locked and where to find the alcohol.

My son, his friends, and a dozen other teens that he didn’t know showed up for the weekend to party. As you can imagine with a cabin full of teenagers without the owner there, there was a general lack of regard for the property. The problem was that the girl’s parents didn’t even own the property, her grandma did.

They left the cabin that weekend with cigarette burns and blood on the carpet, a broken water pump, broken glass, and vulgar images drawn on the wall.

We received a call from the girl’s dad, a friend of a mutual friend, a few days later. We were very upset and had a long conversation with our son about his misdeeds. We grounded him and cooperated with the parents.

This past weekend my husband, son, and a few of his friends had a meeting with this girl’s dad, uncle, and grandma. I did not attend as I was out of town with Angel for her singing competition. I was very anxious about the meeting. I waited by the phone in sheer panic…feeling excited for my daughter and feeling anxious about my son.

When Paul called, he said that the grandma was a very kind lady but spoke sternly about how she felt violated having strangers invade her cabin. She asked my son what happened that weekend and he told her.

They also wanted a total of $4,000 for damages incurred. Paul paid our son’s share. They wanted Alex to collect the money from everyone that was there, but he didn’t know some of the kids. So the group of friends that Alex had there said they would tell the others they knew were there and would have them send the money. So far no one is stepping up and taking responsibility for their kids.

The problem was that no one told their parents about the party except Baylee. One of the guys had a summer job and wanted to pay his share without telling his parents. Trunk boy told his mom and she thought it was some sort of scam. Trunk boy was the guy that rode in the trunk of my son’s car and his mom showed up at our door to complain that my son didn’t give her son enough rides. Trunk boy’s mom is psycho and I don’t want her at my door again.

My son’s girlfriend Baylee’s parents didn’t want to pay either. They said that Baylee didn’t do anything wrong. She didn’t drink. She was simply there to babysit. I believe that is true. My son is such an adrenaline junkie with his cliff diving, motorcycle riding, and other risky things I know nothing about. He is a daredevil and leader. He would be the first to try something stupid or adventurous. He told me that he would tell me someday about everything that he has done, but I really don’t want to know. Baylee is his only voice of reason.

The other friends parents simply won’t be able to afford to pay, especially now during the holiday season. There are some that simply don’t care about doing the right thing.

I don’t think that this family will get the money they want. I would do things so differently. I would start with writing a persuasive letter addressed to the parents of so and so. I would say that I wanted x money by x date. I would include a copy of the police report. I would further state if the money is not received by x date, that they will be hearing from my lawyer which might include criminal charges.

Thankfully my child wasn’t dumb enough to throw a party at his grandma’s cabin. As far as I am concerned, this whole issue is resolved now. I don’t think they will ever get their money, but we paid for our share.

drive

I had a busy weekend.

Paul and I left home early Saturday morning to set up a booth at a trade show. After a couple hours of working, we drove a couple more hours to see Angel at college. We arrived to see her a couple hours before her show. We haven’t seen her since we dropped her off at college in August.

There were some repercussions of leaving home earlier than the kids. Thankfully this time though it did not require a new bathroom floor. It was more along the lines of them thinking that they could both take a shower when it was time to leave to meet up with my mom. They were late and there was tension. Not to mention that things were forgotten.

Thankfully everything else went according to my plan. We were able to get at the restaurant early enough to get a table for 14 people and make it to the show on time. Angel had a lead role in the college opera and would be on stage for the first half hour only. If things went off rail, we could miss her part entirely. Several friends and family drove several hours to get there, got a hotel room, and some had to get a babysitter. Needless to say, a few minutes off on my time management could’ve been a huge disaster.

The show was awesome. Watching your child perform at a high level is very close to performing yourself. It is anxiety provoking, yet exhilarating. I was able to visit with Angel the next morning before she had to perform again. Then came the long ride home.

At 10AM, I dropped Paul off at the local airport. He had a business meeting. Instead of driving the 4 hours home and flying out, I decided it would be quicker for him to fly out where we were. Just 2 connecting flights and 10 hours later, he reached his destination.

I had to make the drive back with Arabella. I almost had a panic attack after I dropped Paul off at the airport before visiting Angel. It was a unseasonably warm and sunny day. Pedestrians and bikers were everywhere. Not to mention road construction and heavy traffic. I kept getting notifications on my phone for the flight which covered my navigation. I think I went through a red light since I was so flustered.

If you told me 5 years ago that I would be driving 4 hours without another driver in my car, I would’ve told you that you are crazy. I used to have panic attacks while driving. It would happen out of the blue. First, I would sweat profusely. I had to open my windows, even in the middle of winter. I couldn’t breath. I needed air, fresh air. Then the tunnel vision would hit. I would have to slow down. I’m sure that I swerved around a lot. I thought I would die or worse yet kill someone else on the road. I had to pull over at the first exit. My whole body would shake.

It was a horrifying experience. But I would not let fear control me. I forced myself to go back on the highway. Even if it was from one on ramp to the next off ramp. It was grueling and tedious. I wasn’t sure if I could even conquer my fear. But I had to put myself out there again and again or I wouldn’t be able to leave the house unless someone else would drive me. I felt feelings of failure when I could only drive a couple of miles from my house without panicking. But I kept at it and now I can say that I am almost completely able to drive without panic attacks.

I am also one of those annoying people that can’t seem to sit still. If I sit down without anything to occupy my mind, I will probably fall asleep. If the movie is not great, I fall asleep and I fall asleep sometimes even if it is.

Did I mention that I didn’t sleep that great in the hotel room?

I have fallen asleep while driving before. After about 2 hours on the road, I was starting to drift off. I knew this was happening because a stationary object bounced out into my vision. I think it was a garage. This has happened before when I was really tired.

Typically when Paul is tired, he can pull over for a cup of coffee. He instantly is energized and can drive for hours. It doesn’t work for me. Extra coffee makes me jittery and anxious while driving…more likely to have a panic attack.

I looked over at my passenger, Arabella, who was sound asleep. Did I want to wake her? Then I remembered our conversations in the car over this past week week…Mom, how old were you when you first had sex?? Were you in high school? College?? The interrogation went something like that…Ah, better just let her sleep.

I pulled it together and got us home safely. I knew I had no other choice. It was a great weekend, but long….very long, especially the drive.