Dream triggers

Last night I had a dream that I took 2-year-old Arabella to my parent’s house knowing everything I know now. For most families it probably wouldn’t be a nightmare, but for me it was. I didn’t feel she was safe around my dad without me and I had to go to the bathroom. I remember waking up with the knowledge that I had opened the door and once open it would be hard to shut all the way again.

It wasn’t the first time I felt this way in real life. My brother Matt heard voices that told him to hurt people, mainly little girls like me. He listened to those voices throughout my childhood and into my adult years up until he was medicated and those voices stopped.

In May of 1997 I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in both human development and psychology with an emphasis in counseling. I was fresh out of college ready to change the world, or at the very least fix my family. In August I got married and by October I was pregnant. I applied for a couple jobs that I didn’t get. So I decided to continue to be a caregiver for my brother. I didn’t want to put my baby in daycare and I had zero family support. I was the family support for my family of origin and I was since I could remember.

Everything worked out well for awhile. I was able to care for my baby and Matt. Matt didn’t hurt babies. But then my baby grew up and I got pregnant with my second baby. Matt started obsessing about my daughter Angel. He asked what would happen if he twisted her arm or held her head under water in the bathtub. By the time my second baby was born I no longer felt it was safe so I stopped watching Matt.

I still had Matt be a part of my children’s life for big things like Christmas or birthday parties. It was on Angel’s 4th birthday when Matt attacked her in a room full of vigilant adults. With as many watchful and experienced eyes, we couldn’t stop it from happening. Afterwards, I told my mom Matt was not allowed around my children until they were big enough to defend themselves against a grown man.

A month later I was pregnant with my third child, a girl. I kept the sex of my child a secret because Matt was always more fixated on hurting girls than boys. My mom knew I was having a girl because if I wasn’t I would’ve told everyone. That was probably true. I was worried if I had a girl she would get hurt and if I had a boy he would turn out like Matt. I felt screwed either way.

Then the time came for me to have my third child. It was a scheduled C-section. I decided to have the baby later in the week so my husband wouldn’t have to work and could watch the other kids over the weekend while I was in the hospital. He had just started his own business which was the only means of supporting us financially so he couldn’t take time off. In those days, working out of the house was not yet an option.

My mom stayed overnight the night before then dropped the kids off at the hospital the following morning so she could take Matt to the dentist. She wasn’t going to help me further unless Matt could come along. I don’t know if I can ever forgive her for that. Less than a week after having a major surgery I was home alone taking care of a colicky newborn, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old.

For the next several years after the attack my mom fought back hard against my boundaries of no contact. I was constantly stressed out during my pregnancy and for years afterwards by her actions. My mom at times would randomly stop by just to have my kids wave to Matt from the window. She was constantly trying to get Matt back in our lives again. She was always offering up help if I would just accept Matt in again.

Last week Paul and I were meeting with our couples therapist. She talked about trauma and how it could start even in the womb. This therapist also saw my mom and both of my daughters. She told me she thought I experienced trauma in utero. Maybe there is something I don’t know. But all I could think about is that I am to blame for Arabella’s mental illness. I am to blame for her being a difficult baby because all of the stress hormones surging through me while I was pregnant. I know I shouldn’t think that way but I can’t help it. Never mind the smorgasbord of mental illness coursing through my husband’s and my genetics we already knew about and the random smattering from an unknown bio dad.

After several years, I opened the door. I allowed Matt over for a brief period of time during Christmas at a party I was hosting because yes I was hosting all the family parties in my 20’s. That was okay, but other things were not? My brother Luke had some of the same issues I had with my mom and brother Matt.

The dream awakened all of this within me. But now it also has to do with my dad. All I could think about is one of the images Angel told me about that she found on my dad’s computer. It was a photo of a naked little girl crying. That was one of the tamer pictures but maybe the one that hit me the hardest for some reason. I keep imaging that little girl as myself, the picture of what my inner child must look like alone, vulnerable, and crying. By the time these images were found and my daughter went to the police, my kids were almost fully grown. Luke, however, had two little girls the same age as the images of the children. It felt like it was starting all over again but this time instead of being Matt it is my dad. All of our children with the exception of Arabella have not seen or spoken to my dad in over three years.

I’m not sure if I will ever get over the trauma. I feel like I’ve wasted so much of my life stuck in other people’s problems, people who should of been my rock, comfort, and support which were not.

Thanksgiving Eve

It’s strange to think that people my age are starting to host the holidays for the first time. I’ve been doing it a good 20 years now. It’s just one of the many things my parents didn’t do. I can remember them decorating and having a Christmas tree twice in my life. Then my mom said Matt was allergic to Christmas trees and that was the end of that.

I don’t know how I became the responsible one. There is a big difference between wanting that and needing to be that because my parents weren’t able to step up. The normal progression of life never happened for me. I can’t remember being a child either. My in-laws hosted a couple times but they couldn’t handle it either. I tried to kill two birds with one stone and have my family and Paul’s family together for Christmas but that became the grandma wars.

Hosting does not make me nervous. I’ve been doing it long enough now. My brother Luke and his family stayed with us this past weekend for my niece’s swim meet. I wish I had that opportunity as a kid. I begged my mom for more than just beginner swimming classes but she said no. Maybe if I went to a school with a pool. Maybe if we had more money or if I could get a ride. Maybe if I wasn’t pulled out of school for three years when my brother Matt was homebound. Maybe if I wasn’t so far behind the other kids in sports when I went back to school. That’s a lot of maybes but the answer was still no.

I wish I could’ve started swimming and running as a kid like my niece. Sports were not encouraged at home. My mom didn’t go to the swim meet. Paul, Angel, and I went. I told my mom if she wanted to come over to visit my brother would be over on Saturday night. My mom came to my house but we were still at the meet. I could tell she was upset no one was home. I wasn’t expecting her to just stop by expecting us to be home. It’s odd my parents never supported their children or grandchildren in sports. It seemed like a foreign concept to them.

I was happy to have the opportunity to see my niece compete. It’s a huge relief to know my brother is a good dad to his kids even though my dad was not a good dad to him. His kids probably have no idea the way it was as it should be. There were several times Luke helped host the holidays over the years. We are the healthy ones, the ones who made it through.

Tomorrow I will be hosting Thanksgiving for 16 people. I’m sure it will be a great time. We have a lot to be thankful for. I have to remember that when I start thinking of the things I’ve missed out on.

This uncertainty, part 1

Lately I’ve been struggling a lot with indecision and uncertainty. Where do I even begin?

I’m not certain how I feel about my mom right now ever since she sent a picture to my daughter of her ex-boyfriend on her wedding day. Last week I talked to my therapist about it. She asked me how I don’t hate my mom. I don’t really…hate my mom. I just need space.

I just don’t understand how she could do something like that. Was it intentional? She had to dig back pretty far into her photos to find that one. Was she jealous my daughter asked me to be a bridesmaid? She is always making comments…must be nice…but it doesn’t sound nice. She was the one blemish on an otherwise perfect wedding day. My therapist said it doesn’t matter whether it was intentional or not. The issue is that my mom is always being the drama queen.

If it’s not one thing it’s another to try to get my attention. My mom has been to urgent care twice in the last week or so. Neither time for anything serious. The last time it was for a fever of 100. She has been calling and texting about how sick she is.

I’ve only seen her twice since the wedding a month ago. It’s been nice. I think twice a month is enough for me. But I know if I push back she is going to smother me. I just don’t know if it’s worth the fight.

I have to start planning Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s another thing, my mom never once hosted those holidays. I started taking it on after my grandma no longer could when I was in my 20’s. Seems kind of young looking back now. I think I feel a lot of resentment towards my mom for that. Sometimes my brother Luke would take it on and he’s younger than me.

This year everyone is invited to the big extended family Christmas party regardless of vaccination status. Last year we were not invited because my household is of a mixed status. Now we are invited but I don’t really want to go. I probably will anyway because the aunts and uncles that are currently not in the family feud went out of their way to be great towards my daughter on her wedding day. Better than my mom was. Actions speak louder than my mom’s words. She sometimes exaggerates things to stir up drama and I can’t overlook that.

I’m not really sure what to do about my mom and my relationship with her. So far I’ve opted to do nothing and be noncommittal which is the opposite of how I try to live my life. I don’t know seems to be my answer for a lot of things these days and I don’t really like it. I’m the type of person who always has to have a plan.

Wedding wild cards

I was feeling a lot of anxiety before the wedding because of the wedding wild cards, the several difficult people who would be there.

A few days before the wedding I expressed to my mom how I wished I had a dad who could be at the wedding celebrating with us. My mom took it to mean I wanted my dad at the wedding and went on to say Angel needs to forgive my dad in order for God to give her forgiveness. I decided to let that conversation go. Even if everyone forgave my dad, it still wouldn’t give us the kind of relationship we wanted with him.

My mom invited herself to the rehearsal dinner which wasn’t a big deal. But while there she got upset about the seating arrangement. She was upset she wasn’t facing the head table and told Angel how disappointed she was in her. My mom didn’t seem to understand it wasn’t about her.

Later that evening, my mom said Matt wanted to attend the wedding ceremony. My mom expects everyone to cater to Matt. Angel told my mom Matt was welcome to come to the reception but she didn’t want him at the ceremony. Matt acts socially inappropriately. He often grunts, farts, burps, makes gagging noises, and stands up to kick his legs. If he has to go to the bathroom he wouldn’t have any qualms about pushing his way up the aisle oblivious to who was coming down. No one wants to worry about that on their wedding day.

I understand my mom wanted my dad and Matt to go to the wedding but because of their behaviors they were not able to. In a perfect world, I wanted them there too. I could only wish.

I really wasn’t expecting what happened next. While Dan and Angel were having wedding photos of just the two of them at the park, the rest of the wedding party waited at the limo. My mom sent a picture to my kids and I of one of Matt’s birthday parties Angel’s ex-boyfriend attended. MY MOM SENT A PICTURE OF MY DAUGHTER WITH HER EX-BOYFRIEND TO HER ON HER WEDDING DAY!!! I was pissed. Do you understand why I was worried about the wild cards now??

Angel left her phone in the limo. I tried really hard to crack her code to get into her phone and failed. I was worried she might get locked out of her phone. One of her bridesmaids decided to take the phone to Angel to get the code under the guise of us wanting to use it to take pictures then deleted the photo. None the wiser. It was really stressful and I was embarrassed in front of the wedding party about how dysfunctional my family is. I texted my mom and asked her what she was thinking. She texted back, guess I wasn’t thinking.

Everything was going great up until that point, then my mood just crashed. Inside of me my blood was boiling. On the outside I was trying to pretend everything was fine. Of course my daughter Angel can read me like a book. She asked me what was wrong, I replied nothing. She was getting really anxious so I ended up telling her. Your grandma sent a picture to you of you and your ex-boyfriend on your wedding day.

It was the last thing I was expecting. I was thinking maybe Alex would be late for something, but Alex and Lexi were on time and very involved the whole weekend. Everything went great with Arabella too. She could tell I was stressed so Will and her came back to clean up between the ceremony and wedding. Will accidentally put dish soap in the dishwasher which created a big bubbly mess. The dishwasher was running when we got home, when I went to bed, and the next morning when I got up. It wouldn’t shut off with the bubbles so high. But how could I be upset with good intentions?

But why did my mom send us a picture of Angel and her ex on her wedding day?? What was that? I had an amazing time at the wedding but I was pissed. Then my mom went up to randomly give a speech after the best man and maid of honor saying how she gained a grandson.

I decided I was going to confront my mom. She hurt my daughter and son-in-law on their special day. I was just so angry. I want a peaceful life, but sometimes you have to confront people especially apparently in my family. I was ready to chew my mom out, but she came over apologetic and crying hysterically. Will I forgive her? She will never be able to forgive herself until the day she dies. I found myself comforting her instead of confronting her. I had to be the mature one. I just fell back into the same old pattern. Then my mom went over to apologize to my daughter and her husband.

I asked her why she did it and she said she didn’t know. I am so confused. Then she called me later in the evening and said that I was the only one who was really upset about it as if something was wrong with me. She had my dad on speaker phone and he was asking me how Alex was doing. I just need a break from my parents. I feel so upset and sorrowful over the hurtful things my parents do. I don’t want to let it bother me but it seems like it always does.

I am still feeling angry and sorrowful over this and have been crabby and moping around. My husband said my expectations are too high by thinking my parents are going to be functional people. I guess he is right about that.

8 days

Another dream, this time where the past meets the present. My best friend, not even invited. Not by my side as the matron of honor. Never to see or talk to again. I had a dream she was not invited to my daughter’s wedding. How could she be when she was not invited to mine?

I felt the pain of those left behind. Before it was Shelly. She was supposed to be my matron of honor. I was the maid of honor in her wedding. But along the way life happened and screwed it all up. You see, Shelly needed a job and my brother Matt needed a teacher’s aide in his special ed classroom. Maybe that’s where things went wrong. Matt was physically violent and at the time he was a full sized adult.

Matt didn’t like school much and had the tendency to hurt someone when he didn’t want to do school work which was quite often. One day after attacking Shelly at school, the police were called. The police came to school, handcuffed my brother, put him in the back of the squad car, and took him to jail. It was something my mom always warned us about. Watch Matt carefully he is an adult now and if he hurts someone he could get locked away forever. I haven’t been able to get over my fear of the police. Every time I hear a siren my heart races.

My mom was sick with fear for Matt. He was facing assault charges which were eventually dropped because he was incompetent to stand trial. I never spoke to my childhood best friend again. My mom flippantly said, “Oh well, you were going separate ways anyways.” I was going to college and she was working with my brother. But I wanted the choice.

My plan was to go to school to become a counselor. Then I was going to fix my family. That was when I was young and dumb enough to think I could. I already felt the weight and responsibility. If I only knew Matt was going to hurt someone before he did. I could have stopped it. It’s my fault he attacked someone because I was not vigilant enough. If I believed it was my fault, I also believed I could fix it.

I felt guilty on my wedding day because I didn’t want Matt there. I didn’t want Matt to hurt someone. When I got married, Matt was going through some serious health issues and my parents thought Matt could die which intensified my guilt. They got a room for him in the hotel we had our reception at. After the ceremony, which he didn’t attend, we had the photographer come to the room to take wedding photos with Matt. We were gone so long some of the guests chided us about what took us so long as we were coming down from the hotel room.

Now it’s my dad who is not invited to the wedding. I can’t say I blame my daughter for not wanting him there, but it’s still painful. What if people ask where he is? He was pretty sick a month ago and in my mind I thought maybe he would die and free me from the shame he brought upon us. It’s a horrible thing to wish for. As if I will ever be free from the pain he caused me. My counselor said if asked I could tell people he is not well enough to go. If further asked, I could tell them I will talk to them about it later. I am good with the plan. It’s the last thing I want to talk about. It’s my mom I worry about. She has a tendency to overshare and play the victim making it all about her when the focus should be on someone else.

Call me a slow learner, but I just figured out this year I can’t fix people. In fact, I don’t have any control at all. I thought I could fix my family of origin but they are way too beyond broken to be put back together. I can’t even fix myself. I tried to fix my husband when he was drinking too much. I felt like it was my fault. I was responsible for him. It was my job to fix him. How easily it was to jump back into my old role. At times I even thought he was drinking just to hurt me. He has been seeing a counselor too which has been helpful, but I think it will be something he will always struggle with. At times I can’t blame him. If drinking took away my pain, there wouldn’t be enough I couldn’t drink.

He thought he could fix me too. He thought he could be my knight in shining armor. He thought he could bring me out of the dark spaces I hide within myself. He tried to make me happy so he could fix my depression. Why didn’t my fear and anxiety go away? Didn’t I love him? Didn’t I trust him? Wasn’t he something to live for? Couldn’t I just stop feeling that way? Couldn’t he just stop drinking??

We couldn’t fix our parents, both of us having parents with addiction/mental health issues. We couldn’t fix each other. We can’t fix our kids who all show signs of addictiveness and/or familial mental health struggles to some degree. That was a hard lesson to learn. There is nothing like having to watch someone you love hurting. I wanted to do anything I could to take the pain away from them. It’s harder as a parent, especially being the mom, because there is a huge sense of responsibility to fix your children. How often is the finger pointed at the parents when the kids struggle? (I can tell you with a daughter who has Borderline, it’s a lot even from professionals that should know better). It’s even easier to blame myself.

I guess if there is any silver lining in this, we have been waging war against these demons for a long enough time to know how to fight them in the best way possible. It wasn’t the first time someone I was close to wasn’t invited or wasn’t well enough to go to a wedding. My best friend wasn’t invited to my wedding and I never saw her again. My own grandpa didn’t go to my wedding because he wasn’t well enough. I can only control what I can control. It’s not easy, but there is some peace in knowing when to let go.

Broken peace

Last week Paul and I had our first opportunity to volunteer at a center that offers assistance for families in need. There was someone who sticks out in my mind, a young woman in her early 20’s who was very pregnant. Apparently she usually comes in with another lady who was also pregnant. But this time she came in alone and said the friend she usually comes in with was in the hospital delivering a stillborn baby. It was heartbreaking and I didn’t even know the lady.

Later the volunteer coordinator said to us she would get through it and be fine since she has the Lord to lean on. I really hope so. Does anyone ever really get over the loss of a child? Today it’s been 4 years since my friend Lisa lost her daughter in a car accident. I still worry about my friend. It’s hard to watch her suffer and only have thoughts and prayers to offer.

I don’t know about you, but I am really horrible at having a strong faith in times of trouble. I am pretty good at doubting though. Do our prayers change the heart of God? Does he really care about the continuum of time? The truth is we are all going to die.

I’ve had to accept a lot of things. Sometimes I have fleeting moments of peace. I’ve come a long way from feeling I would never be able to climb out of the despair.

Maybe I’m forever stuck in the loop of viewing my heavenly father as my earthly father. I’m just being honest here. I felt anger towards God. I’ve had to parent my parents since I can remember. Why can’t I just walk away? Why do I feel responsible for them? I never had parents I could go to for support.

When I found out about my dad’s crime and a few months later my daughter attempted suicide, I turned to our pastor for support. But I felt like I was doing something wrong. I didn’t forgive. I wasn’t good enough or have enough faith to be blessed with a healthy family. I took advice from a pastor who had some of the best parents I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t abused. His dad wasn’t a pedophile. He wasn’t dealing with decades of childhood trauma. He didn’t grow up in a household of worry and fear. His childhood gave him good memories, mine gave me PTSD. It was like trying to get marriage advice from a priest. He couldn’t relate.

But somehow I came through it. I made my peace with God. Our new pastor is great, although I know he can not relate. Not many can. Our church has a shortage of pastors. The other day my husband said if he was younger he would’ve liked to be a pastor. I think he would make a great pastor, I would not however make the best pastor’s wife. The sad thing is Paul said he didn’t feel like he would ever be good enough to be a pastor, he is too broken.

But somehow I think it’s better to help others when you have been through it yourself. Between Paul and I, we’ve both been through a lot of hard times and maybe we can use our experiences to help others. It took me two years to get to the spot where I thought maybe I could experience joy in my life again. It took a lot of work. I still struggle. Sometimes I wonder if God cares. If you find you are having a hard time getting by with the little faith you have, you are not the only one.

I wish I had good advice to help other people in our lives who might be hurting. What did I want in my darkest days? What I wanted more than anything was to be left alone, but that also wasn’t healthy for me to isolate myself. It helped to have a couple people to talk to that didn’t treat me like something was wrong with me because they couldn’t understand. My best friend would check in on me every couple of days. Don’t just offer thoughts and prayers, look at me with pity, and go on your merry way. Ask what you can do to help. Say kind things like…I don’t know how you can stay sane. Talk about your problems with me. I felt bad when friends wanted to talk but said my problems are nothing compared to yours.

When I see others struggle with similar circumstances, I try to tell them they are not alone or that I felt the same way they did. I understand why people don’t cut their dysfunctional families out of their lives. It’s because they are a good person. They want to help. They have been conditioned from a young age to have to do things most people have no understanding about. The fear of a parent killing them self and you are the only person who might be able to stop it, fix it can not just walk away. Don’t tell someone who has lost a child to just get over it. There is no timeline for grief.

We can really hurt others with our words. But more importantly, we can offer great comfort and help. That is the true joy of suffering.

Doing alright now

I’m doing a lot better now. I think I was having an episode of PTSD. I can tell the difference between that and regular anxiety.

Yesterday I cleaned out Arabella’s room. That in and of itself is very triggering for me. I am happy with the end product, but still. In her room I was reminded of something rather innocent, little flavored drink jugs my mom bought me as a treat for going to the store with her. Arabella had some in her room.

What it triggered in me was the memory of going places with my mom and brother Matt. My mom rarely took Matt out in public alone. She also wanted him to be included in everything a normal kid would do. Since I liked to go to the roller rink, Matt should go too. It wasn’t just that but my mom didn’t like to leave Matt at home by himself without someone watching him.

Trips out with Matt usually included Matt attacking someone. We tried to be hypervigilant of the signs and get him out of wherever we were, but sometimes that was just not possible. Sometimes we had to stake out the place for little girls. We tried to find places where they weren’t. Or if we saw little girls, we would have to leave. Matt heard voices that told him to attack them. Sometimes we would hold his hands, mom on one side me on the other. If we held his hands, he couldn’t use them.

Most commonly, he would grab little girls by their hair and pull. Sometimes he would hit or kick them. We would have to try to pull him off of them while their parents screamed at us. Fun times. One time he was terrified of men with beards and would throw huge tantrums where my mother had to hold him down in the store. Sometimes we had to abandon our cart and go home. Sometimes Matt would attack us on the car ride home.

I was triggered and went into a prolonged state of terror. I think it was the perfect storm. Stress from family coming for the holidays. I became extremely agitated. I paced the floors. Despite the sleeping pill, I awoke in the middle of the night panicking.

Here is what happened to me today. I felt incredibly terrified, in fight or flight mode. My mind was racing very fast but my body felt sluggish. I had a hard time keeping a coherent thought. I was hyper-vigilant to every noise. I thought I would scream if someone touched me, expected or not. I became paranoid. I thought I heard fighting in another room. I was worried I had to protect my daughter Angel from harm. Was she in danger? Neutral expressions were taken as a threat.

I was in intense terror. It was different from a panic attack in this way. There was no build up, panic attack, and then relief. It was a continuous level of heightened terror. Once I was aware of what was going on, I had to calm myself by telling myself that I was safe, everyone else was safe, and things were going to be okay and if they were not I could handle it like I’ve done countless times before.

My brother Luke is on his way here with his family. He is trying to beat the storm. We are going to make some burgers tonight. I’m going to have my son and his girlfriend over because my son will most likely have to work tomorrow doing snow removal and miss most of the party.

I am safe. I’m not responsible for anyone but me. I can’t fix the things that are broken. I have to take care of me. Sometimes I have PTSD. It just usually doesn’t hit me this hard.

What a mess! Holiday stress

Last night I got a call from Arabella. She told me she loved and missed me. She told me she was coming to the Christmas party this weekend and she wanted to bring Will along. When I expressed hesitance, she told me he was her boyfriend. I said I didn’t meet him yet, I didn’t get him any gifts. But she knew she had me at boyfriend. I always told my kids significant others were welcome during the holidays.

Arabella asked if she could give me her gifts this weekend. I told her that would be fine but asked her why. She said she was going to visit Will’s family out of state for three weeks for the holidays. She said she didn’t get me any gifts yet though. I told her she didn’t have to.

She asked how I was doing. The conversation seemed comfortable and normal like speaking to an old friend. Arabella said she was gaining weight because she stopped taking all of her medications, even the one for her thyroid. She said she wanted to get all new doctors. When I asked her why, she said it was because I turned them against her.

Something struck me about the conversation was she was concerned about gaining weight. When she got COVID, she lost weight and thought she was starving. She thought I was starving her. The truth is that she could have lost half her body weight and still no one would think she was starving. But now she is concerned about weight gain? She doesn’t think she is starving anymore?

After the conversation was over, I was confused. Arabella seemed so normal. It left me wondering if I was crazy. I want so badly to think she is back to her normal self. I want to think I made everything that happened up. I felt stressed after I talked to her. She was going to be bringing Will to the Christmas party this weekend. My son Alex told me this Will guy was bad news. They graduated together. I started to imagine conflict between Will and my son.

Then my brother Luke texted me and said there was a snow storm coming this weekend ending right before the party starts. I was expecting a shit storm, but a snow storm on top of that?? How wonderful the first named snow storm of the season. Now I’m not even sure they are coming. My son will probably be called in to work during the party. What a mess!

My mom feels stressed out around Luke now. She said he triggers her and that is why she is having a hard time sleeping again. Luke has a lot of boundaries with my mom. Luke’s wife doesn’t like my mom. My dad isn’t invited because of the whole child porn thing. Understandably, Luke won’t ever have his children around my dad because of it. My son and my daughter Angel never want to see my dad again. Then there is Arabella who is living with my parents.

My brothers Mark and Luke have to drive several hours to get here possibly through a snow storm. Mark’s wife Carla is difficult. She is angry with my daughter Angel for turning my dad in. She just lost her own dad this year so she is extra mean. I’m not even sure why she hates my daughter. She has also had conflict with Arabella in the past. She is very critical and will probably say something about my son’s girlfriend’s pink hair. But she has always been nice to me.

Carla is also mean to my brother Mark. She belittles him and calls him stupid in front of everyone. This summer she got mad at him because he ate his cheese separately from his burger. Didn’t he know she cut it for his burger? MARK how could you be such an idiot?? My brother just laughs it off but it is very upsetting to us. One time my mom told Carla off. My mom never tells anyone off. But then she felt bad for telling her off and apologized.

Now my mom is planning on leaving my dad after Christmas. I’m not sure if that will happen or not. I joked that now she wants to leave my dad after Arabella moves in. I just cleaned Arabella’s room so my nieces have somewhere to stay if they do make it for the party. Arabella is a true hoarder.

My brother Matt can be hard to deal with as well. He burps and farts at the table. But at least he is medicated and won’t hurt the kids. Did I mention all my brothers have special diets? Matt is gluten and dairy free. Mark is gluten free. Luke is dairy free. I already bought all the food. Did you know that a small ham costs $30 now?? I do! Holy crap!!!

Oh, and my dog is not doing the best. He hasn’t had much of an appetite the last couple of days. Oh, and the boiler stopped working again.

This is why I don’t like hosting the holidays! It’s just way too much stress!!! If I make it through this weekend I’ll have a lot to be thankful for on my gratitude list. But as for now my anxiety is through the roof.

Wishes

I wish I could say my good mood has lasted but alas it has not.

I can’t pinpoint anything major just a general feeling of disappointment. Our furnace is still out, plus our boiler for our pool and hot tub are out too. We live in a big old drafty house. Something always needs fixing it seems. Thankfully we know what the problem is with our furnace and it is under warranty. We went from having to get a new furnace this morning to having to pay a couple hundred dollars to have it fixed this afternoon which is great. But I spent my whole day dealing with this and not all of the problems are fixed yet. I suppose it’s too much to ask for a switch that I can turn on to make everything work again.

I feel frustration about COVID and how it is tearing families apart for yet another holiday season. I’m angry about family attacking family over politics and vaccination status. If you don’t believe what I believe then you aren’t welcome to be a part of this family anymore but I still care about you bullshit. I’m so angry I want to cut some extended family out of my life forever. The sad thing is at one time I actually thought they might have cared.

I’m sick of hosting the family holidays. I’m angry that my mom never took it over after my grandma was unable to do it anymore. I’m angry I had to take on the responsibility in my mid-20’s after looking at my daughter that age and thinking about what I had to do at her age. I’m angry I never got to be a child or even a young adult without having to parent my parents who just never seem to be able to handle life without burdening their children.

I’m angry for the crime my dad committed. Tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary. I’m angry that some family members brush it aside as if it never happened. I’m angry that some family members harbor anger towards my daughter for turning him in. I’m angry my dad is so shitty of a dad and grandpa he will not be invited to my daughter’s wedding. I’m terribly jealous of people who have supportive parents. Neither my husband nor I have had that. I’m angry my husband and I have a hard time with relationships because no one ever taught us anything useful. What the hell is normal??

I’m angry that my relationship with Arabella is not what I want it to be. I’m angry she wants me to stop telling people she is delusional when she accuses me of starving, abusing, and torturing her. I’m angry that people feel they need to choose sides. I’m angry people question whether or not I’ve been abusive. I’m angry that I have to worry whether or not she will be alive tomorrow.

I’m angry my mom favors my brother Matt over everyone. I’m angry that he abused me as a child and I was never protected. I’m angry that my dad never taught me I was worthy of love and instead told me how stupid I was. I’m angry that I have to live with the aftermath trauma created in my life. I’m angry that I live in fear and am unable to trust.

All these things have been very painful for me. I’m this close to telling people off. I’m not sure what I need to do to get over this new bout of anger. I feel triggered thinking about family. I’m not sure what is wrong. Tis the season I suppose. I did say this time of year is hard for me.

Tonight my husband and I are meeting with a new pastor. We are thinking of leaving our church. My faith has been horrible the last two years since I found out about my dad and with my daughter’s mental health struggles. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much support from the church. I acknowledge they are not responsible for my faith but at least offer me some guidance besides forgiveness of those who have hurt me.

If you can’t help me because you never experienced any struggles in life I can understand that as I am not an idiot. But don’t make me feel bad for something I didn’t do. I have yet to pray away my PTSD. Don’t say I don’t have enough faith to overcome my anxiety. Maybe, just maybe, I had to be this way to survive and now I’m trapped in it. I don’t know how to be any other way because I don’t remember life before the trauma started. I don’t have fond childhood memories with my parents and siblings. I wish I did.

I like the person I am but I am getting tired of the bullshit.

Fortune cookie wisdom #31

If you want the rainbow, you have to tolerate the rain.

Wow, this is another good one. There is so much truth in this fortune as well. Oh, if we could only experience the rainbow without all that darn rain. I’m guilty of this as much as everyone else.

I want my life to be full of joy and uplifting experiences. Personally, I am getting really sick of the trauma and drama, my rain. Sometimes I get so caught up in it that I am under a perpetual rain cloud even when the sun is shining.

Yesterday I met with my therapist. I told her how triggered I’ve been lately. It doesn’t take much at this point after all the trauma I’ve been through. The other day I saw a commercial of a teen girl with her loving grandparents. I felt triggered because I don’t have the relationship I want with Arabella and my parents. My kids don’t have the grandparents I had. There is a lot of pain there.

I also heard my daughter Angel scream in the next room. She was goofing around with her fiance. For an instant I was triggered that she was in pain and I needed to help her. It reminded me of when I was young and I heard my brother attack someone and needed to help pull him off of someone. For a couple moments in time it took me back to the fear I lived in a couple decades ago.

I love the holiday season but I am afraid it’s going to be triggering for me. It always has been. Last year was one of the worst because it was the one year anniversary of my daughter Angel finding child porn on my dad’s computer. It tore the whole family apart. I’m anticipating this year will be difficult because Arabella left home on bad terms. The last several times she has reached out to me has been negative. I’m not sure if she is even going to be coming home for Thanksgiving and I’m not sure if I want her to.

I talked to my therapist about my concerns. I think it is unrealistic for me to hope that I won’t be triggered this year. My therapist said that being triggered is not necessarily bad. She said when she first started seeing me that I didn’t feel anything. I was numb. She said being triggered and feeling emotional about the triggers is better than being numb. She said I needed to make sure I didn’t get stuck in the triggers.

I think grief is a process I need to work through. But sometimes I get triggered and stay stuck in the feelings of despair and hopelessness too long. When I don’t want to live anymore that becomes a problem. I have to have realistic expectations otherwise I am setting myself up for more hurt. I cannot change people or circumstances. Sometimes the false hope that this time things will change, this will be the year I don’t get triggered, puts me in a bad place.

But where would I be if life was great all the time? We all have to go through sorrow and pain in order to feel joy. There has to be sunshine and rain in order for there to be a rainbow. If the sun shines all the time it wouldn’t feel special anymore. Life would get boring. Without inspiration my writing would become lackluster.

There is something amazing that happens when the clouds lift, the rain is ending, and the sun is starting to poke through to produce a rainbow.

It has to stop raining soon. I will keep watching for the rainbow.