Timshel

I first heard of the concept Timshel in the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It means thou mayest in Hebrew. Timshel is saying we have a choice between good and evil. You can choose the path you take. Will others rejoice upon our passing or will there be great sadness based upon the choices we made in how we love one another. I know I am not giving the 600 page book justice with my mere 600 words.

I wouldn’t consider the book to be a happy story. But it was a feel good book because of its realistic perspective. Some of the big themes dealt with relationships between siblings, sibling rivalry, and the parent/child relationship. One of the things that really hit home for me was the struggle the characters experienced within. If my parent chooses evil, what does that make me? The book brings up the thought that although your parent may choose evil doesn’t mean that you are destined for the same choices. They have a choice just like you do.

I won’t lie to you, I sometimes struggle with this. I try hard to be a good person, but plenty of times I fall short. My dad did a lot of evil things. Does that make me evil even though I did not make the same choices he did? Sometimes I see him in myself. I hate to be reminded of him when I look in the mirror, how I talk, or how I walk. But it’s there. I have to wonder if that is the only thing there. Maybe he passed his evil down to me.

Logically, I know it’s crazy to think that, yet sometimes I do. The weight of his decisions has brought many people down. My mom is really struggling with her mental health over it. My brother Luke will not have his kids around my dad. I rarely see my brother and haven’t seen him, his wife, or my nieces yet this year. My dad is not invited to holidays. He is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. We always wonder if and when the police will be back to my parent’s house. But those are all just the external things which make life difficult and complicated.

I think the internal pain is worse. The anxiety that somewhere deep inside I might be guilty just for being his daughter like choosing evil is an inheritable trait. Sometimes I have to keep telling myself I am not responsible for my parents. I am not responsible for my adult children. I am responsible for me and my choices alone.

I don’t have a dad I can be proud of. He has brought nothing but shame to the family name. I wish I could say his choices affected only himself. If the evil choices other people make cannot be attributed to us then neither can the good. Having a child who chooses good does not equate to having good parents any more than having a child who chooses evil equate to having bad parents. Why is this so hard to understand? Why do we need something or someone to blame for the bad choices others make? It’s true some people have more obstacles than others. But is that really a good excuse? Maybe they just made a bad decision because that is what they wanted to do.

My grandparents were wonderful people. My dad, not so much.

Timshel. Everyone has a choice.

Again, I would highly recommend reading East of Eden. It’s very well written and thought provoking. It had a lot of interesting twists and turns in the classic drama by John Steinbeck. I’ve read several other books by the same author decades ago, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath were among my favorites. I hope to read more of his books in the near future. They always have a way of making me think about things differently.

The old normal, part 7

One of the biggest changes since the start of COVID is having an empty nest. When COVID began, I had four teenagers living in my house. Granted, two of them were foreign exchange students. Back then all my children were in school of some sort…high school, tech school, college. Now I don’t have any children at home or in school. That has been a huge change for me.

For almost 20 years of my life I had children in school. I was involved in their education. When they were little, I volunteered in their classrooms. I attended countless sporting events, field trips, concerts, conferences, and ceremonies. My weekends and a lot of week days were booked with kid stuff. My calendar was full. I was driving the kids all over the place. I was interacting with other parents. Then less than a year ago that abruptly ended. A month ago, my last child who was living with us moved out.

It’s been a big adjustment going from being needed to questioning what my purpose is now as a mother whose children are grown up and gone. It’s a strange experience having to only be responsible for me. Seeing moms wrestle in the grocery store with car seats and unruly kids makes me feel free, yet I miss it. It’s bittersweet. It’s so ingrained in me to want to take care of other people that I don’t know what to do with it now that it’s gone.

My life has changed so much in the last two years. The old normal is gone. I’m not sure where to even start. But it is a new beginning, a new season, a new chapter just waiting for me to explore. That can be exciting and fun.

Honoring the dishonorable

Next week my dad will be celebrating his 75th birthday. It should be a grand celebration surrounded by his children and grandchildren. There should be a cake with candles a blazing, birthday cards, thoughtful gifts, and laughter. But there won’t be any of that.

On his birthday, Paul and I will be going to a Wisconsin Dells waterpark with our children and their significant others for an extended weekend. I planned it that way so I wouldn’t have to think about my dad’s birthday and how a relationship between a father and daughter should be. It’s painful I won’t be celebrating with him. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll call him. I tried to find a card to avoid an awkward conversation, but all the cards talk about love, admiration, honor, and respect. My dad doesn’t bring to mind any of those things.

On a side note, I totally think there is a market out there for shitty dad’s greeting cards. Who wants the sappy love stuff when their dad is a deadbeat? Or it could be for anyone for that matter, an annoying mother-in-law. It could cover all the major holidays so an awkward phone call isn’t necessary so I can feel like a good person although the recipient is a total ass. But I digress…

I talked to my brother Luke yesterday. His daughter Eva has a swim meet near our house and he was wondering if they could stay with us the weekend of our dad’s birthday. I told them they could stay at our house even though we will be out of town. We talked about our dad’s birthday. Luke said he would be driving by our parents house on our dad’s birthday. He wondered if he should stop by, then decided not to.

Luke said our dad never taught him anything. The only time my dad and him ever spent alone together was when my dad was whipping his ass. But beyond all of that, when my daughter Angel found porn on my dad’s computer and turned it over to the police it changed things for all of us. My brother’s daughters are the same age as some of the children in the images. My brother told my dad if he ever wants to see his grandchildren again, he needed to do several things. I can’t remember what all the conditions were. One for sure is that my dad needed to seek counseling. He didn’t do anything my brother asked him to do. Should he go back on that because it’s our dad’s 75th birthday?

His daughters have not seen my dad for over two years now. He said that once he opens that door it will be hard to close it again. I totally agree. We had the same issue with our brother Matt. Matt heard voices to hurt and/or kill our children. I did not allow contact between my brother and children when they were little after he attacked my daughter. Christmas was so hard. My mom would drop off the gifts then leave. The kids would cry. We had to be very careful. That was before Matt went to a group home and was on anti-psychotic meds.

So, yeah, how lucky I’ve been to have a brother and dad we didn’t/don’t want our kids around. I told my brother to just keep driving. I told him not to tell his children it’s grandpa’s birthday. They don’t understand the situation. Because they don’t, they might think their dad is in the wrong for ignoring his dad on his birthday when their dad has been everything our dad never was. For that I am thankful.

We both feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not spending time with our dad on his birthday because we still want to honor our parents. We want a relationship that will never be. Sadly, our dad made a lot of bad choices and we have to accept that and the pain that comes with it. We have to do things in the best interests to protect our children. It’s not the way we want things to be, but that’s the way it is.

So, in recognition of our dad, my brother and I became the parent he never was. I’m going to spend his birthday celebrating that with my own family and my brother will keep on driving.

Fortune cookie wisdom #47

The will to do, the soul to dare is yours for the taking if you prepare.

I always thought I was really good at planning and preparing for the will to do and the soul to dare. But now I think it takes much more than that.

I was planning on touring Europe. I had prepared for the trip. I had a passport. I had my airline tickets. I was ready to check that continent off my bucket list. Then COVID hit and all the preparations were for naught.

I was planning on signing up for another 50k. I picked the race I wanted to do. I was really excited because part of the course included a water crossing. I was training. I was prepared. But then COVID hit. The race was cancelled. My gym that I visited three times a week over the winter for years closed. I got hit hard ten days with colitis and haven’t been the same since. I can’t run anymore without being in a lot of pain. I couldn’t even help my daughter paint her house without having joint pain. I wasn’t prepared for that.

There is a part of me that thought my kids would stay young forever. Through many sleepless nights, I thought that. I thought that through the temper tantrums, the busy school age running, and through the tumultuous teenage years. I didn’t think about them growing up and leaving home. Somehow I found myself not prepared for that part of parenting. A part of me doesn’t even know who I am anymore since that part of me is gone.

I wasn’t prepared for aging. It’s shocking to see my hair turn gray without any hair color. My neck is starting to look like the neck of a rubber chicken. Now when I look in the mirror, I see my mother. I look like a granny; too young to crack out the cardinal sweaters but too old to dress like I am in my 30’s. I had to break down and buy bigger pants since I haven’t been able to workout like I used to. I always thought those things happened to other people, not me. I am close to 50. Why wasn’t I prepared for this?

Sometimes it’s very hard to take a good look in the mirror. I don’t want to admit my best years in health and in looks are behind me. There is not a damn thing any of us can do about it. I do feel childish in feeling insecure about it. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore. I have all these crazy middle age female hormones coursing through my body making me feel like an adolescent again, but I’m not. Doesn’t seem fair. But, that’s life. Sometimes I just have to laugh it off and say oh well. I’m right where I need to be.

Ready or not, here life comes…some things you just can’t prepare for even if you have the will and soul.

Gratitude week 103

  1. After being stressed about the family Christmas party last weekend, I’m grateful for a massage and trip to the therapist on Monday.
  2. Getting a Type O Negative album for my record player as a Christmas gift from my mom based on my daughter Angel’s suggestion.
  3. Angel and Dan put an offer in on a house that was accepted. Although I am going to be sad my daughter is leaving it is time since they will be getting married in a couple months.
  4. My husband’s work Christmas party went well. The wife of the guy he works for is super funny. Everything always sucks. We asked how they like their new house and wouldn’t you know the lighting sucks. The weather sucks, the food sucks, everything just really sucks. She is very blunt about everything sucking and for some reason she is just so much fun.
  5. Arabella and Will made it safely to Kansas to visit Will’s family. On the way they spent the night in a tent in Iowa during a tornado warning. Crazy! And you wonder why I worry?? Camping in December in bad weather! Oh my gosh!
  6. I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant with my friend Jen. It was her turn to pay.
  7. Friends are the family we choose. I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my four closest friends over this past week and upcoming week. That rarely happens anymore. It makes me feel better about not being included at the extended family Christmas party.
  8. We had a great time visiting with Tom and Lisa last night. We had great food, drinks, and fun laughing and playing games. Alex and Angel hung out with us as well.
  9. Tonight Paul and I are going out to eat with Rhett and Sue to talk about our upcoming trip to Puerto Rico. I can’t believe our trip is less than a month away now.
  10. We had another health scare with our 14 year old dog. He hasn’t been wanting to eat much if at all in the mornings. He also fell down the stairs not too long ago and has been limping around again. So we had another vet visit this week and he was put on another 3 medications. The vet said he also has congestive heart failure. So I’m grateful we still have some time left with our old pup. I really wasn’t sure if he was going to be coming back home with us.
  11. Clean sheets.
  12. Alex shared some of his new music with me.
  13. Friday night we ordered pizza and it went to our neighbor’s house in error. We were able to meet some neighbors. They brought us cookies a couple years back when we moved in but I never found out who gave us the cookies because Paul and I weren’t home.
  14. I absolutely love our Christmas trees and lights. I wish I could leave everything up all year, but then how special would that be.

Bittersweet emptinest

Yesterday Angel and Dan put an offer on a house and it was accepted. I am excited for them. They are getting sick of people asking them if they are going to each live with their parents after they get married.

It’s really starting to feel real now. In a couple months my daughter will be getting married. She will be changing her name. They will have their first house. She will be moving out never to return.

I knew when she moved back home after college that it was temporary. I enjoyed the time she spent back at home with us as an adult. I can’t help but feel incredibly sad she is leaving.

It’s bittersweet, it really is. I am happy for her. Angel is marrying a wonderful guy. They will have their own house and will be starting their own family. I have to let go now.

Last year at this time we had all of our kids living with us. Now they are all moving out. I can’t even guarantee our pets will be with us in a couple months. There is an emptiness inside of me. Hence the empty nest I suppose.

Today as I thought about it, I feel old. My best days are behind me now. My hair is mostly silver instead of the gold it once used to be. I gained 15 lbs. since last year at this time. Almost all of the pants I wore last year are too tight. If I can get them up past my thighs, I might not be able to button them. But I don’t want to get rid of them because maybe I’ll get back to the way I once was.

I don’t see or hear as well anymore. I don’t remember things like I used to. Sometimes I forget what I’m saying as I’m saying it. My body has aches and pains. Things I did effortlessly before seem to take a lot more effort. Aging is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. Then there are the getting close to 50 crazy lady hormones to deal with.

But in some ways I’m ready for it. My kids are all adults now. I don’t have to run myself ragged anymore doing all the things parents have to do with young children. Maybe my life can be more peaceful and calm. I don’t have to actively take care of my children anymore. Now it’s just me.

Now I can spend time with my husband. By our first wedding anniversary we had our first baby. I don’t regret having children right away, but we missed out on having time alone with just the two of us early in our marriage. We can do that now without having to find a babysitter or worry about the things we had to worry about before.

I really have to look at this whole empty nest thing as something positive. There are some perks to getting older. It’s just the changes I have to adjust to. It feels like everything is happening all at once. Or maybe that is what I am focusing on instead of the pain of my daughter, or in essence of all my children, leaving me and moving on with their own lives.

I’m not sure what the future holds. It is scary and exciting at the same time, bittersweet.

Monday mourning

I’m not in the best of moods today. I woke up at 4:30 AM choking on my own spit. Then I had to go to the bathroom. I tried to go back to sleep, but sleep didn’t come.

I was having a dream about Tom and Lisa. I had a dream their daughter ran away and that was why my daughter Arabella ran away. I thought about our friends who moved away years before. At one time I considered Lisa a best friend. We were running partners and trauma buddies. Both Lisa and her husband experienced a lot of serious trauma in their childhoods.

A couple years back Tom and Lisa’s oldest daughter died at age 16 in a fiery car accident. Their daughter was driving when she fell asleep killing herself and her friend. A year after that, Lisa’s teenage niece died. She got really drunk and fell into the river and drowned. A couple months after that her mother died. Plus the childhood trauma, I don’t know how she is doing it. Sadly, we fell out of touch when they moved several hours away. We used to talk several times a week, now we send a text every once in awhile.

The last time I spoke to Lisa she wasn’t seeing a therapist. I woke up with Lisa on my mind out of the blue. I’m wondering if she is okay.

At 6:15 AM my mom called. It is NEVER a good sign to get a call from my mom that early in the morning. My mom told me Arabella went into the ditch last night from the snowy roads. The day after Thanksgiving, my daughter moved out of the homeless shelter and back in with my mom. She got another waitressing job and things were looking better. But she already got fired from her job which is not good. She quit taking her meds.

After Arabella went into the ditch, she had her car towed to my parent’s house. Right after it was towed back, she left around 10 PM. She wasn’t back by 6 AM. My mom told me her location and I was able to figure out she was at a park and ride. My mom said she was there at least 4 hours. My mom also got a strange message from Arabella’s friend Will’s grandma saying something about Will triggering PTSD and having to lock up the knives in her house.

What the hell is going on?? Is Will suicidal? Is Arabella?? I couldn’t help but worry maybe someone would come knocking at my door to tell me my daughter is dead. It is a constant fear. My mom said Will and Arabella were planning on coming to our family Christmas party this weekend. I can honestly say I feel worried because they are both mentally unstable. I don’t think Arabella would physically hurt anyone besides herself, but I don’t even know this Will guy. Who knows what she has been telling him about us.

I worry more about violence now. I worried yesterday at the community theater show. Dan and Angel went to the show with us. The people sitting next to them were drunk and disruptive. They were talking loudly during the show, getting up, knocking over glass bottles. Dan and Angel actually told them to be quiet. How rude! But how do you know if those people could be dangerous?

Hearing the news about Arabella this morning was very triggering. At times Angel and I were close to tears. Why is my daughter mentally ill? We blamed ourselves, we blamed each other. But what good does that do?? It’s incredibly stressful wondering if today will be the day I get the phone call or knock on my door. It just tears me down to the point where I don’t even want to live anymore. Not that I’m going to kill myself, but it’s hard to feel any kind of joy. It’s just so painful.

Paul, Angel, and I started to do so much better after Arabella moved out. Our mental health improved significantly. We were under an incredible amount of stress when both my mom and Arabella were living here. The strange thing is that at the time we were blind to the effects it was having on all of us. Thankfully Paul, Angel, and I are seeing counselors to help us process everything.

I was very hesitant about seeing a counselor at first. But now I can’t imagine not seeing her. She has really helped me get through a lot of hard circumstances. That is why I worry about my dear friend Lisa. I’ll have to give her a call soon.

Fortune cookie wisdom #36

Remind yourself that ‘the lion while hunting doesn’t roar’.

Who can YOU trust? I always thought I could trust myself but I’m not too sure about that anymore. I am not an expert at life.

As I mentioned before, I live in a mixed vaccination household. What I think we can all agree on at our house is that vaccination should be a choice. I believe there are risks involved with both choices which creates a lot of uncertainty and fear.

I can’t imagine how terrible it must be for parents of opposing views to have to make these decisions for their children right now. It’s not as if that was a question we thought to ask a future spouse before 2020. If in the future there was a pandemic would you chose to vaccinate our future child. Why or why not? Can you imagine divorced parents dealing with this if they don’t agree???? Thank God my kids are all adults and can make their own decisions.

Honestly, I think the biggest threat right now is the division and polarity. It’s literally insane. My family cannot attend the extended family Christmas party because of our status. Certain family members think their shot will protect them from COVID but not against the unvaccinated. How does that even make sense?

Now I am not going to make this a one sided post. I’ve heard of the unvaccinated afraid to be around the recently vaccinated because of shedding. Now everyone is getting the booster shot in time for the holidays. We all better lock ourselves in our houses this holiday season because people might die.

Woah, I must’ve missed the memo where we can actually live without dying. Live people live before it is too late! Don’t make your family dead to you before they are. Pushing family away is the worst thing we can do at this time. Agree to disagree if you have to. Get tested. Wear masks. Do whatever you think works without compromising your beliefs. I absolutely HATE that families are being torn over this. I hate to break it to you but we are all going to die.

I have been feeling a certain sway of the unvaccinated to mistrust their doctors and all vaccinations now. Some people are paranoid they will be given the wrong shot. What is happening? I started to feel this way myself. I am not anti-vax. I am due for my tetanus shot in a couple of months. I was considering not getting it but decided I will.

Why would something I’ve never questioned before become something I question now? The thought scares the living crap out of me. Can I trust the decisions I’ve made in the past or am I too being swayed?

That’s not all that has changed. I’ve now become more pro-choice than I have ever been in my whole entire life. People should be allowed to choose what to do with their body. Period. I don’t have to agree with that choice. There are consequences for every choice, you have yours and I have mine.

I was experiencing cognitive dissonance. Why are some choices okay for others to make and some not?? Can we pick and choose and feel at peace with ourselves? If you are pro-choice but for mandatory vaccinations it might be time to examine yourself. What gives me the right to tell another person what they should do?

While I’m on it, there is something else that bothers me. People who protest outside of abortion clinics shouting words of hate and carrying signs with mangled bloody fetuses rub me the wrong way. Do you really think hating and shaming women is effective? Maybe it makes you feel good for your self-righteousness. Then when you go to church and see a single teen mom you judge, look down upon, and shame her for the choice you wanted her to make. Nothing but hypocrites.

If you are truly pro-life help families in need. You are not going to change lives spewing hatred in the name of love. If you want to be effective take the teen mom out to lunch, buy her some diapers and baby clothes, and be there for her because parenting is hard. Offer workable alternatives and solutions such as adoption as an option.

Being shamed at the abortion clinic is nothing compared to the shame of raising a baby as a single teen mom both for the mother and the child. I can say this because my husband was born to a single teen mom. His sperm donor took off, wasn’t even there for the birth. My husband was shamed for not having a dad as if it was his choice.

In grade school he got spanked by a teacher in front of the class who told him he needed a dad. No kidding?? Not only did he not have a dad, but he didn’t even have a grandpa to be his role model. Paul sucked at sports because he had no one to play catch with him. No one taught him how to be a husband or dad which can even be daunting for those who come from healthy homes. Something needs to be done to build stronger families.

That all being said, I am really concerned because I feel like COVID has really shook some of my core beliefs. Is it growth?? Can I trust what I thought before or now if my beliefs change? I’ve really had to examine my own thoughts lately about how much control we should allow others to have over our lives.

Always question. Listen. Love one another. Do we need to have all the answers to do that??

Fortune cookie wisdom #34

A friend asks only for your time not your money.

I’m grateful to have a few really close friends who truly care about me and not my money. They have hearts of gold. There is great wisdom and value to this fortune. Be careful about friends who take more than they give. This could also apply to family, someone you are dating, but definitely not kids. They somehow have a way of making you want to give them everything you have and then some.

I want to buy my kids tons of Christmas gifts. I want my daughter Angel to have the best wedding. I want my daughter Arabella to have the best mental health treatment. I want to be able to help them with college. I want to take them on trips. Hopefully there is a fortune cookie somewhere for that because at some point they need to take care of themselves for their own good. For the most part they do since they are all adults now.

But I still want to give them everything I have (and didn’t have) even if I don’t. Friends not so much..

It’s probably not the best time

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been a rough week. I probably wasn’t doing myself any favors yesterday by rereading part of the book I wrote. I read journal excerpts written by my mom of a time when Matt was violent towards me. I was reliving getting hit and kicked. I really want to get going on the project of finishing my book but it is probably not the best timing.

Rereading the book forces me to process past traumas all over again all while I am going through current trauma. I am distraught my daughter decided to quit taking her meds. I am sick of taking care of her pet frogs for her. I want to find a better home for them because she is probably going to neglect them anyway if she takes care of them.

I am sickened by Arabella getting into porn. It is very triggering because porn was a big part of my life growing up and I didn’t want it to be. It also triggers me to think about what Angel and Dan found on my dad’s computer.

I was feeling quite down last night and was glad when Paul’s step-dad Darryl came by for a visit. Darryl felt sad about everything going on with Arabella. He is estranged from his two sons and had some hard times with them as well. Darryl said he was planning on getting married in 3 weeks. He wasn’t going to have a big celebration because they both have been married a couple times before. Paul’s mom passed away almost 5 years already from cancer. I told him he was more than welcome to have a small reception at our house and I would gladly help with wedding planning. Both Paul and I told him we could use something worth celebrating right now.

It’s been strange taking the sleeping pills. I do sleep better but I still have bad dreams. This morning I woke up before 5 after having a dream about my dad and Arabella. I felt so sad upon waking that I started crying. I get this feeling like I can’t do this life thing anymore. There hasn’t been much joy for so long now. I texted my best friend and she called me on her way to work. She told me we were going to get together for cards tomorrow night to take my mind off of things a bit. She is the best.

I got it into my head to not read my book today. Instead I wanted to create a timeline of my life to see if I could find any interesting patterns. On the left side I wrote down the traumas and on the right the good things. I want the book to have an orderly flow. When did he poke me in the eye? When did he threaten to poke my eyes out with a knife in his hand? My autistic/schizophrenic brother Matt was violent towards me on a daily basis for somewhere around 15 years. When did it start? When did it end?

When Angel was 4, Matt attacked her and I cut off almost all contact with him. Those were hard years feeling isolated from family. Here I am again feeling isolated from family because of everything that happened with my dad and COVID. Angel and Alex have not seen my dad for two years. My dad is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. It does hurt because he is still my dad. It’s a horrible feeling because I feel so conflicted. I feel stuck in the middle. Just because my dad was a terrible father doesn’t mean I’m a terrible daughter. But maybe I should just walk away from it all.

I feel isolated and rejected from most of the extended family because I am not vaccinated. My Aunt Jan made it clear I was not welcome at the family reunion. She tries to act like it’s no big deal but I feel very hurt. I just found out my Aunt Jan’s husband tested positive for COVID anyway. I just have to wonder if it was worth it. Was it worth pushing me away when I could use the support of family with all the hell I am going through just to get COVID anyway? Now whatever relationship I had with them is gone.

I feel okay right now. I will get through this somehow. Every day has its ups and mainly downs. If I feel anything it’s this tremendous agony over my daughter. The thing is I don’t want her to come home. I don’t want her in my life. What kind of mother am I? Would I say that if my daughter had some other illness such as cancer? Why should I feel this way about a mental illness she did not choose? My daughter’s last words to me were fuck you. I just can’t do this anymore. There’s nothing else I can do. I have nothing left to give.

People say it’s hard to have teenagers. It is. But it’s even harder to have children who are struggling mentally ill adults. I can’t ground her from bad choices. I can’t take away her phone and video games. I just have to watch her destroy herself as it destroys me.

How do I insulate myself from the bad choices of others? I am not a psychopath. I cannot turn off all feelings even if at times I want to. It’s not healthy for me to shut down and numb out. How do I not let it bother me? I can’t seem to figure that one out.