Gratitude week 65

  1. This past week has been pretty rough, but I made it through.
  2. I switched dentist appointments with my son because he had to work on the date his appointment was scheduled. I was supposed to go in Wednesday, but went in Friday. Thursday night I felt like I got something stuck in my molar but didn’t eat anything that could get stuck. I tried to get whatever it was out with no luck to find out at my appointment the next day that I cracked my tooth. So, now I need a crown. I have a ton of anxiety about this because in the past I have been known not to numb. I did feel my last crown and it is terrifying to me. But I am grateful I found out about the crack the day after it happened. I’m grateful that I will be trying some new things such as laughing gas to manage the pain. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve never used that before.
  3. I scheduled my first tattoo. I am terrified about this appointment too. I am not as terrified about the pain as much as how I will handle it. Will I cry, scream, or freak out at these appointments? Or will I act like a proper stoic introvert?
  4. I’m grateful it is still March because I dread the upcoming appointments in April. I will be very grateful when they are behind me.
  5. I’m grateful that I was able to get a lot of writing in this week.
  6. I’m grateful that my new custom made wedding ring is coming in the mail tomorrow. I literally wore out my last wedding band.
  7. I’m grateful that my daughter is starting to make some progress in the residential program.
  8. I think I am also stressed out because it is Easter next week and I don’t have any plans. I’m feeling down because my daughter is in the residential treatment program and my other two kids aren’t getting along. My mom is a big ball of anxiety. My dad is a pedophile and my brother will never come home again with his children if my dad is around. I haven’t seen one of my brothers since 2019. Family holidays are more painful than ever before. I am grateful that although we didn’t get together with the extended family for Christmas, it was probably one of the most enjoyable holidays since my grandma was alive. Everything was simple instead of busy and rushed. I have hope that maybe this Easter will be quiet, simple, and enjoyable. I’ll let you know how it goes…
  9. With everything that is going on, I am not really looking forward to April this coming week. But it is a step closer to my favorite season, summer. This morning we awoke to snow and cold windy temperatures. I’m grateful that the difficult seasons make the lighter ones more enjoyable.
  10. I’m grateful that one of our favorite restaurants just opened very close to our house. Paul took me out to eat there after church today. Yum!

Not safe??

After Arabella’s hospitalization, I thought she would improve but she progressively got worse.

She quit her job at Culver’s. She said that everyone that worked there hated her anyway. She said that all of the customers loved her though. Arabella worked as a runner. She would run orders out to the customers. This was an important job after they closed indoor dining due to COVID. She said that almost every shift customers would give her tips whereas some of the other runners would get yelled at because their orders would take longer to fill. She said the customers were so nice to her that she wondered if they thought something was wrong with her. She almost wanted them to treat her poorly like the other workers.

Arabella got a new job a couple blocks from her friend Jordan’s house. She was doing food prep at a bar and grill. She wanted to go into culinary arts so I thought it was a good opportunity for her. But she also used it as an excuse not to come home. But mom, I have to work all weekend so it would just be easier to stay at Jordan’s house. But mom, I have school all week so it is easier to stay at Jordan’s house.

She came up with every excuse in the book not to come back home. When she did come home, she brought Jordan or other friends home with her. I can’t stay because I have to bring them back home. She started telling everyone she was not safe at our house. She made us out to seem like some sort of monsters. She freaked out having to be in her bedroom because she tried killing herself in there. We told her she could stay in Estelle’s room, but she said that there were bad memories in there from when Estelle tried to steal all her friends. There seemed to be some sort of PTSD mixed with paranoid anxiety about coming home.

We tried to get Arabella to come back home, but every time we did she tried to fight us. Meanwhile, Jordan’s family became her family. Everything about them was perfect. She even told the psychiatrist that they had perfect water. THE PERFECT WATER!!?! Seriously, what the hell? We have reverse osmosis filtered water and they have city water. Something was seriously wrong.

She started telling people that she wasn’t safe in our house. She accused her dad of beating our son for hours. She accused me of telling her that I wished she was never born. None of it was true and it was very upsetting to us. Did something happen that we didn’t know about? According to her, her parents and siblings were all mean and hateful people. She started telling everyone that and I think some people believed her. They started looking at us with mistrust, like we abused or beat our children. It was very painful, even more so because it just wasn’t true.

Something was seriously wrong with our daughter. What, I didn’t know. But I was going to find out. I was convinced it wasn’t just a case of depression with anxiety. None of the medication she was on even seemed to help. What was going on?

Just a one time thing?

When you get admitted into a psychiatric hospital, they do bloodwork to determine if there are any health issues that could be causing mental health issues. Arabella’s vitamin D levels were really low and they also found a thyroid disorder. She has hypothyroidism which could explain some of her issues in losing weight and depression. In my mind, it was as easy as fixing those problems and she would be back to her normal self again. If only it were that easy!

They also put Arabella on a low dose of an anti-depressant and a mood stabilizer. The mood stabilizer was meant to be a temporary boost to increase the effectiveness of the anti-depressant. She stayed in the hospital for a week. I really thought this was going to be a one time thing. Once her health problems were fixed, her mental health problems would go away. Or so I thought. We weren’t dealing with complex trauma since she had a relatively normal upbringing. Why couldn’t she just go back to being how she was?

When it was time for Arabella to leave, Paul and I met with her treatment team. They thought it would be a good idea for Arabella to have goals to work towards. The first time around they had a reward based system. Once she reached those treatment goals, her dad bought her a pet frog. I was a little more hesitant about the idea since I ended up being the one that took care of her beta fish.

Arabella was going to be attending an outpatient program for at least a week. She didn’t like her current therapist outside of the hospital, so we were going to be switching to a third therapist. She was also on a waiting list for a psychiatrist. She received the diagnosis of Major Depression with Anxiety.

In the meantime, Arabella had a meeting with our family doctor. The hospital requires an appointment be set up a couple weeks after discharge. The doctor retested Arabella’s blood levels and refilled her psychiatric medication but didn’t want to change anything. We also set up a consultation with a plastic surgeon for breast reduction surgery. She was having back pain and was uncomfortable with her body in general.

I started working full-time and her dad was working a lot of hours as well. I worried about Arabella when we were at work. If anything, I was a little less reluctant when she wanted to go right back to Jordan’s house. Arabella started to feel fearful at our house and was afraid she was going to hurt herself when she was home alone. Jordan’s older brother moved out to go to college, so they had an extra bedroom and invited her to move in. The school was over a half an hour from our house and a couple blocks from theirs. It was comforting to know that she had somewhere to go if the roads were bad in the winter, but we didn’t want her to live there.

Arabella couldn’t stand us anymore, but we still wanted her here.

The first hospitalization

Paul and I tried to get away for a few days for our anniversary, but it didn’t work out. I started the job with the census and would be training that week.

By that time, Arabella was on her second therapist. She was still feeling depressed and angry a lot at home. But at Jordan’s house everything was fine. I started noticing things I found unusual. Arabella started wearing long sleeve shirts in the summer. She even wore them to go swimming in the pool or the lake. When she was wearing shorts, I noticed a cut on her upper leg. I think at first she said the cat scratched her. I didn’t believe it and asked her what really happened. She said she cut herself with a scissors but didn’t really like it. I asked her if she cut her arms, but she refused to tell me or show me.

The evening before my work orientation, Arabella called me from her friend’s house. She said she wanted to make an appointment for an assessment with a hospital for her depression. I didn’t really think she needed it. She seemed fine at the time. But what would it hurt? So we scheduled the earliest appointment available which was 8 PM that evening. After we were screened for COVID, it seemed like Paul and I waited in the lobby forever. After we locked up all of our items such as purse, cell phone, and jackets in a locker they led us in through a locked door.

They told us that our daughter met the qualifications for hospitalization. Someone sat us down and talked to us with our daughter. Then I filled out all the paperwork. I asked about her arms. Was she cutting? Yes, but it was all superficial and would heal. They were going to help her and everything was going to be better.

We got home late that evening and I had to be up early for the work orientation. It all seemed surreal. I just admitted my daughter to a psychiatric hospital. But somehow I had to carry on. I had to be ready to start a new job and meet my new supervisor bright and early. I had to have a smile on my face when inside I felt like crying. But at least it was comforting to know that while she was hospitalized she wouldn’t kill herself.

The revised new normal (3rd edition)

When the pandemic started, I had four teenagers living in my house.

Clara was the first to go. She went back home to Germany in April. Right after she left, I had colitis for 10 days. I thought I was going to die. It was not a good time.

My son Alex turned 20 in June. Part of the reason we decided to have a foreign exchange student was because my older two children were going to move out. Alex was pretty adamant that he was moving out right after graduation, but that didn’t quite happen. The day my daughter Angel moved out, the foreign exchange coordinator called asking if we would take another student. Talk about hitting me up on an empty nest day! We ended up hosting two students.

Alex, and his friends, didn’t interact with the foreign exchange students much at all. I was okay with that, really. Estelle was interested in a couple of my son’s friends, but they respectfully kept their distance. I guess I am thankful I didn’t have to deal with that. It’s been an issue before. When Dan started dating Angel, he was friends with Alex. That created some conflict. One of Arabella’s friends is also dating one of Alex’s friends. I suppose it’s bound to happen with kids close in age.

Estelle left on July 3rd, a couple weeks after her originally scheduled date. Arabella and Estelle never made up. Angel came home to say good-bye. I think she was worried about me because it seemed as if I was losing all my kids. I tried to keep busy.

Arabella gradually stopped staying at home as much. She pretty much moved in with Jordan’s family. I wasn’t happy about it and wondered if she was in a relationship with Jordan. We tried to move on without our foreign exchange students and her. Arabella spent the 4th of July with Jordan’s family although we invited her to come sailing with us. Paul, Angel, Dan, Alex, and I spent the 4th sailing and swimming. We didn’t go up north as was our tradition because my dad was there. We planned to watch fireworks from the boat that night. But even that was disastrous. After the second firework, the guy that was lighting them blew off his arm and had to be airlifted. Sirens blared and our spirits dropped.

The next weekend was my birthday which I celebrated with Paul, Angel, Dan, and Alex. Once again, Arabella didn’t join us. Jordan’s mom was celebrating her birthday too. Arabella went away for the weekend with their family. On my birthday she sent me a text that said happy birthday right before I went to bed. I didn’t get any gifts or card from her. The happy in happy birthday wasn’t even capitalized. There weren’t any exclamation points or cute emojis. I got the picture, I was just an afterthought. Jordan’s mom was hot stuff coolest mom of the year. I couldn’t help but feel hurt.

Life went on. The new normal became the new new normal revised. Clara left. Estelle left. Angel went back to her apartment hours away. Alex went back to living his own life apart from us under our roof. Paul started his new seasonal business. Arabella was pretty much gone. And I was left alone. In some ways, it was incredibly freeing. COVID cancelled all my plans and I no longer had to take care of 4 teenagers. I didn’t know what to do with the change. But I tried to keep busy.

home again

Arabella stayed at Jordan’s house for about a week. She ended up passing all of her classes with the exception of creative writing. She didn’t want to come back home. In her eyes, we were awful people.

Once the pandemic started, Estelle drew closer to us. It must have been very difficult for her to be essentially trapped in a foreign country without her family. She was really looking forward to prom, something they don’t have at her school in France. She just started track, then everything ended. She couldn’t even hang out with friends. But she tried to make the most of her experience. We played a lot of games, did puzzles, went running together, found new recipes to cook, and did a lot of talking.

I think that the time we spent with Estelle made Arabella feel more anger towards us. What were we to do? We didn’t want Estelle to have a bad experience because of COVID and the girls no longer getting along. To make matters worse, Estelle’s flight home in June was cancelled and she was going to be staying indefinitely.

Estelle became like a daughter to me while my own daughter pushed me away. I tried to reach out to Arabella as much as I did Estelle, but my efforts were met with slammed doors and snarls of leave me alone. Once the fighting over missing assignments started, we didn’t know what else to do. I thought a few days away would help but she ended up wanting to live with Jordan’s family and made it miserable for us in our attempts to keep her at home.

I thought maybe a fun family project would help and bought paint for our wood shed. Maybe Estelle and Arabella would make amends and patch things up. But it didn’t quite work out that way. The whole time Arabella complained about how much I sucked as a mom. Eventually Estelle couldn’t take it anymore. She stood up to Arabella and told her how great I was. But in the process Estelle pushed Arabella and called her a bunch of horrible names.

So many things were happening at the time. My daughter Angel’s college graduation was cancelled. We didn’t know when we would see her again. The family didn’t get together to open the cottage for the season up north. That was partially from COVID, but had a lot to do with my dad. My mom got a call to pick up items from the evidence room. My dad’s main computer wasn’t there for pick up. We could only imagine how many photos were on there. My dad’s case was turned over to the district attorney and he could be arrested any day. I went with my mom to visit an attorney which was incredibly stressful.

I was absolutely miserable. The undercurrent of uncertainty and fear was hard to handle especially in the bubble of complete isolation.

School’s out for the pandemic

My daughter Arabella was on the honor roll. After the fight with Estelle, Arabella didn’t want to go to school at all. We had a hard, if not almost impossible, time getting her out of bed in the morning for school. She would cause everyone else to be late and they resented her for that. She stopped talking to kids who were previously friends or acquaintances. In fact, she skipped the lunch period altogether and started hanging out in the classroom by herself.

So it didn’t seem like it would be a really bad thing for Arabella when schooling went online. She didn’t really want to be there anyway.

Everyone at our house, however, seemed to have a hard time with online schooling. Clara stopped doing homework altogether since her parents wanted her to go back home to Germany. Estelle was even having a hard time finding motivation to study. Her year in America wasn’t going to count anyway and she was going to have to repeat the year when she went back home to France. She really wanted to be here for the social aspect. But track was cancelled, along with prom, our spring break trip, and everything else she was looking forward to. I couldn’t be too hard on the kids for being depressed that COVID shut their lives down.

I pretty much let Estelle and Arabella manage their own online homework assignments. I mean, they were honor roll high school students. They were competent and capable of managing their own schedules, or so I thought. Plus, math..

We got a call from the school a few weeks before school was scheduled to end. They told us that Arabella did not do any assignments for a 3 week period and she might fail several classes. As you can imagine this was very upsetting to us. This put her on a tight timeline to finish her classes. Paul helped Arabella put a schedule together and they sat in his office together while Arabella tried to catch up. It was a very stressful time and it created a lot of conflict.

We still had a hard time waking Arabella up for class. She was so far behind and said she couldn’t focus to get stuff done. She was in so deep we didn’t think she could dig herself out. One day Paul lost it. After another day of arguing about having to do homework, Paul lost his temper and kicked Arabella out of the house. Arabella asked if she could stay by her friend Jordan’s for a few days. She promised she would work on her assignments there. I told her she could stay there for a few days until she and her dad cooled off with their arguing. What we were doing here wasn’t working anyway.

I was desperate. No one could tell me how to motivate a previous honor roll student who was struggling with depression through a pandemic get her homework done when all she wanted to do was sleep. Maybe a few days away would be a good idea. Jordan’s mom said it was okay. So I packed up my car with a couple days worth of clothes and all of her homework to drop her off a few days. I told her if she didn’t do her homework, I would pick her back up again. We would be monitoring her progress online.

Somehow she was able to pass all but one class her junior year. Creative writing, that is the class she didn’t pass. It kills me. Oh, the many of things she could’ve wrote about.

Gratitude week 64

I have to admit I am feeling rather crabby today…so. I just feel bored, restless, and like my life lacks purpose. Maybe it’s an empty nest thing. I don’t know. I went from spending the last year trying to keep my daughter alive to her going into a residential care facility. I hate to say this, but maybe my purpose was keeping her alive and now I don’t have that purpose anymore. Not only that, but family therapy seems like kind of a waste at this point. It sure would’ve been helpful 10 to 15 years ago. But now with my baby turning 18 in less than 2 months, it seems a little late.

So anyway, here is my list for this week:

  1. Spring!
  2. 1,000 followers!
  3. I think my son broke his little toe this week. He could barely walk, but is starting to feel better.
  4. My mom took my brother Matt to the ER today as she thought he might have scabies again. Thankfully it’s not that and doesn’t appear to be anything serious, although his rash is really bad.
  5. Stimulus checks.
  6. Our refrigerator bit the dust. Unfortunately the first place we went had the fridge we wanted on back order due to COVID with no arrival date in sight. This shouldn’t be news to me, but apparently COVID also caused a refrigerator shortage. Thankfully we were able to find a new refrigerator at another store, but it will take almost a month until we get it. I’m grateful in the meantime that we have a chest freezer and a drink cooler we can put food in. So we didn’t have to throw anything away.
  7. I was finally able to get in to see my therapist this week.
  8. Paul took me out to eat at our favorite Indian restaurant to celebrate 1,000 followers.
  9. My best friend and I went out for corned beef and cabbage yesterday. I’m grateful since I didn’t think I would get any since I didn’t go out for St. Patrick’s day.
  10. Today my mom, Matt, and I went for a walk and yesterday Paul and I took our dog for a walk. It’s nice to be able to start getting outside more. We did get some snow this past week but it’s pretty much all gone now.
  11. I’m grateful that Paul assembled a chair for us to sit in on the front porch. Then we can watch other people who have a life come and go. Okay, I’m busy but am starting to feel this empty nest thing.

Be loved, beloved

I grew up in a simpler time. Back when I was young, there were only two genders.

My how times have changed! I always thought I would stay young and keep up but I find myself old and out of touch. I don’t understand although I do try. My daughter Arabella was trying to explain everything to me. I had a hard time understanding certain things like gender fluidity. She had a friend that changed genders several times throughout the day. She also had a friend that didn’t want to ascribe to any gender at all.

I thought things were hard in the early high school years when she wanted a birthday party sleepover with friends that were gay and in a relationship together. Now her best friend went from a female to a male and is dating a male that identifies as a female. It was time for the birthday party sleepover again. She wanted all the kids to sleep together in one room. Since the male identifies as a female, can he sleep with the girls? Umm, no! But mom! It was more complicated since he was dating someone of the opposite gender. I have always been against mixed gender sleepovers. But now the lines are blurred and I am some kind of phobe.

I didn’t want someone who was underage and dating sleeping together in my house period! I was especially uncomfortable because their parents did not know. I am also against going behind other parent’s backs when it comes to decisions with their kids. God forbid if someone gets pregnant at a sleepover at my house! But mom, they are not going to do anything because they feel too uncomfortable with their own bodies. Why are they dating then? I wasn’t born yesterday!! Thank God for COVID as the traditional birthday party sleepover didn’t happen.

I try to call her friends by the names and pronouns they have chosen although their parents never address them by those names or pronouns. What I also thought was unusual is that they chose gender neutral names like Jordan, Blake, Alex, Casey, Jessie/Jesse, or Erin/Aaron. I would think they would want more gender specific names.

I asked Arabella what her part was in this community. Are you an ally? No mom, I’m gay. That is how I found out.

My first reaction was to think that perhaps she was mistaken. But it did take a lot of courage on her part to tell me. She worried whether or not people would accept her. How were people at church going to accept a gay atheist? What about family?

At first I even blamed myself because that is what I do. What did I do wrong? Why is my daughter struggling so much?

Then I questioned everything I ever was told and/or believed. Was she born this way? Or was there some choice involved? Is it a sin? To be honest I never really thought much about it. There is a lot of debate about this topic even within the Christian community. So I decided to read the Bible and do a little research myself to come up with my own understanding.

But regardless, as a parent, I did not want to be in a place where I had to choose between my daughter and my church. It didn’t come down to that, but I felt conflicted. In all honesty, I still do. It’s all very confusing for me too.

I have chosen to love my children, all my children, regardless of whether I agree with their choices in life or not. If Jesus taught us anything, it’s to love. He never told us to condemn, judge, or hate.

Be loved, beloved.

Gratitude week 63

  1. There was one I forgot from last week. Before my daughter went into residential, she had her dental exam. With her asking for her new toothbrush in advance so she could brush in the bathroom right before her appointment and her candy bingeing, I was a little worried about what they might find. Not only that, but she was having some dental pain with her wisdom teeth. The dentist said that she didn’t have any cavities AND so far all of her wisdom teeth are coming in like they should. So it’s looking good that she won’t need wisdom teeth extraction. I didn’t even know that was possible! LOL!! On a side note, I’m sure my daughter Angel will be upset to hear that. She is my only kid that brushes and flosses probably more than I do. Her siblings always did the bare minimum and she always ended up with the cavities. It always made her mad when the dentist told her to brush and floss more and told her siblings to keep up what they are doing.
  2. Talking about Angel, she is coming back home today until she finds her own place!! Her boyfriend Dan came down with COVID a couple weeks back while she was visiting him at his parents house. They all holed up in quarantine there. Dan got really sick. My daughter and his mom got sick too, but his dad who we were all worried about ended up being just fine. They were sick for a good week and a half. It even went away for a day or two and came back with a vengeance. I’m grateful that they all have returned to health and that my daughter is coming back home!
  3. I’m grateful for the warm and a few rainy days that pretty much decimated all of our snow. I’m ready for spring although there is a chance for more snow this week…
  4. I’m glad that our first telehealth meeting with Arabella’s therapist at residential went really well.
  5. I’m grateful for some time for me to get my hair and nails done. I even decided to color my hair again and went a little darker. It must seem natural as no one really noticed it yet except Angel when I was facetiming her.
  6. I had my success story interview with the wellness clinic this week. It went pretty good. I’m going to be my worst critic, this I know. The lady that interviewed me was very nice. She said that I was beautiful and could be a motivational speaker. I was excited for the opportunity but it was rather terrifying and I did lose a little sleep over it. Now my husband is going to the wellness clinic.
  7. I’m grateful for the visit from my best friend. She made some deviled eggs for me and left them here for me to eat.
  8. Since the weather was nice yesterday, I’m grateful that I was able to go for a run outside without being too cold.
  9. I’m grateful that my son found his lost wallet.
  10. I’m grateful that I can start spending time with my mom again since she is fully vaccinated.