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.

Fortune cookie wisdom #39

Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power.

I think the key word here is dwelling. I recently heard on the radio that negative experiences are more memorable than positive ones. I think that is true.

Yesterday I spent 3 1/2 hours writing. A small portion was writing on my blog and the rest I spent writing my book. I added a journal entry written by my mom to the book describing Matt hitting my brother Mark and also hitting and kicking me. I wrote about my brother attacking me from my mom’s point of view. I can’t even describe what that feels like. In some ways I felt totally detached since the journal entry was almost 30 years old. Mainly I felt sad for the little girl that was me.

Then I wrote another entry remembering a time my mom asked my dad to help her by watching my brothers and I swim in the lake up north while she made supper. Any time my mom asked my dad for help he did things aggressively or half assed. Let’s just say I didn’t have the dad who would sweep me onto his lap and read books to me on the couch.

This is what happened that day when my mom asked for help. My dad came in the water with us. When Mark and Luke were swimming my dad would grab them by their feet and yank them backwards. My brothers would choke and sputter swallowing water and getting it up their noses. Then they would cry and dad would laugh saying they were just playing a game.

I was terrified of the weeds so my dad grabbed me and forced me to stand in the weeds and muck. He laughed at me while I cried and called me names. When he let me go, he threw weeds and a dead fish at me. It didn’t take long for my brothers and I to be done swimming. My dad got out of doing something he didn’t want to do. He got his jollies by making us cry, calling us names, mocking and humiliating us.

That pretty much sums up my childhood. My brother Matt frequently attacked us with no consequence because there was something wrong with him. I wouldn’t consider my dad to be physically abusive per se. There were times he hit and manhandled us, but he seemed to enjoy terrorizing us more. He liked taking what we were afraid of the most and taunting us with it like my fear of weeds. When we would cry he would laugh in our face and call us babies. He often called us stupid.

If my dad was taunting a sibling it was best to ignore him or better yet to join him because that would ensure your safety. Comforting a sibling often meant your next. Pretend not to care. Pretend nothing scares you. Show no vulnerability or weakness where he could worm in.

I spent several hours writing about the physical abuse from my brother and the psychological abuse from my dad. By the end of the afternoon I was spent. I was feeling depressed and wanted to just emotional detach from everyone. Thinking about the negative things that happened to me really wasn’t doing me any good.

My husband said maybe I shouldn’t continue writing the book or just do it in small segments of time. I told him writing this book gives my life purpose and meaning. The question is how can I write about painful experiences without dwelling on the negative? I end up spending a lot of time in a place I no longer want to be.

I do think writing my story is very therapeutic and healing, but I can’t deny there is a dark side to it as well.

Fortune cookie wisdom #38

After a big storm comes tranquility.

I don’t know about you, but after a big storm (or a really stressful period of time) I tend to feel boredom instead of tranquility. I want tranquility, serenity, peacefulness, and relaxation but I usually end up feeling bored and restless watchfully waiting for the next problem. I want tranquility, but I wonder if I would find it satisfying if I ever found it. I almost need some level of stress to function at my best.

Not to mention I have a very low boredom tolerance. Nothing motivates me more than having problems to fix. Maybe I just got used to living under high levels of stress and wouldn’t know how to live without it. Tranquility sounds a tad bit boring. What would be my purpose without struggle?

It’s like telling an anxious person to relax. Maybe some people just aren’t going to relax and that’s just the way they are. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. How many tranquil people do you actually know anyway that aren’t hopped up on some sort of drugs?? Hmm, can’t seem to think of any off the top of my head.

Or maybe I just call tranquility boring and push it away because it seems like an unattainable goal. I haven’t gotten there yet. Maybe I would like it if I could reach it somehow. Who’s to say?

One thing I can tell you is that I am getting sick of the big storms.

forgotten

Some days I just don’t feel like writing. Other days the words awake me from my dreams. I just don’t understand.

I feel mildly unsettled. Nervous with slight melancholy. Maybe it’s the weather. It’s hasn’t been this windy in years. Last night there was a thunderstorm. The rains washed most of the snow away. I watched the weather last night and they spoke of possible tornadoes. Strange weather for December. Maybe the world is ending.

It feels as if I am waiting for something to happen but what I don’t know. I just don’t care anymore. I feel blah. Is that a feeling?

Life marches on. Where is my path? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do anymore. Does it even matter or make a difference? Won’t we all be forgotten someday anyway?

Is life just focusing on the next problem? Who am I in the lull time? I don’t feel calm, relaxed, peaceful. I feel empty and bored.

In watchfulness, I wonder where I will take the next blow. My mind an angry endless loop of past hurts. How do I escape the circle? How do I break the cycle?

How do I move past this with nothing left to draw upon? My reserves exhausted. Not much there to begin with. Who was I before this all began? I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Please wake me from this dream. Set me on fire to write again when I awake.

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.

50 years and a million tears

Today is my parents 50th wedding anniversary. It is a huge milestone that should be celebrated yet I feel conflicted. They have been unhappily married for probably a good 49 of those years. They are miserable together, but they did stick it out.

My mom acts like everything is normal between them as if the police couldn’t show up at any moment and haul my dad away. I don’t know how she can live that way. She would rather stay with him then start over without him. I think if it was me I would’ve left a long time ago.

I think my mom’s life would’ve been better if she never married my dad. Maybe she should’ve left him for good that time he was mean to her before we were even born. I think my dad would have been better suited as a single man without children. He just wasn’t good husband and father material despite the fact that his parents were wonderful people.

I know that if my mom didn’t stay my brothers and I would never have been born. I wouldn’t have my children. I wouldn’t have my nieces. There wouldn’t be me. How can I say that it would be better if my parents weren’t ever together if it threatens our very existence?

What would the world be like without me ever being here? How can I say what is best for someone else if it would obliterate my existence and those of my siblings? I have to look at the good that came out of their relationship. Sometimes good things do come out of bad situations.

I examine my life sometimes more than George Bailey in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. There must be a reason we are here or we wouldn’t be. Right?

I will not send my parents a sappy card that says I want a marriage just like theirs. Quite the contrary, from them I learned I wanted something different.

For their anniversary they are getting a snow storm cold and blustery. It’s not a lot different from their wedding day or their marriage.

I wish them the best, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish things were different.

purpose

What is the purpose of struggling?

I’ve felt sick like this many times before. There were times in my childhood where I was in so much pain that I didn’t eat much for several days. I was deemed a picky eater. My parents yelled at me, at times forced me to eat until I threw up, and threatened to take me to the doctor. I really wish they did. Maybe I wouldn’t be in the predicament that I’m in now.

Maybe if I was an only child things would be different. My brother had special needs so mine were ignored. It was selfish of me to take care of myself. I mean, look at my brother.

I can’t blame my parents for everything. I once told a doctor about the things I was experiencing and she told me it was all in my head. Maybe it was all in my head. Maybe it still is. I have that fear. Maybe I will go in for the colonoscopy and they will find nothing wrong with me. But if it is in my head, you better lock me up because I can’t live this way much longer.

At its greatest intensity, the stomach cramps feel like I am in labor. That being said, I didn’t really get a lot of sleep last night. I was in too much pain.

What does this mean for my life going forward? I’m thinking about giving up running. I am not well. My running really took a downhill (or uphill) turn last year. But I did finish a 50k. I achieved everything I wanted to. Oh my gosh, will my life come down to walking and yoga? Shoot me now!

I have to think this physical struggle with my health has some purpose. I have to think my childhood trauma had some purpose too. Why is purpose so meaningful to me? Without it, what is the point?

My husband has been very supportive. I want to thank him for giving me the best years of my life. I know we annoy each other and fight sometimes, but I can always count on him. I guess that is as close as I can get to trusting someone in this life.

I have been struggling because I want to write about what happened last summer with my husband. But I don’t want to hurt him because he is a good person. He did give me the green light, but I would choose him over being transparent with you any day if I felt it’s what I needed to do.

The whole purpose of having a personal blog is sharing my story. The ups and downs and the bumps along the way. Maybe I can help someone else in this journey. Or maybe it just makes me feel better.

My story is the only thing that cannot be taken away from me. Unless I end up with dementia, of course, which I am convinced will be my demise. But until then I am going to keep writing.

 

 

 

New year, knew me

It’s a new year and I can see clearly now that it is 2020. Literally! After I wrote the post about getting a sliver underneath my fingernail, the next day I went to the eye doctor. I am now sitting on the couch writing this post wearing my new bifocals. BIFOCALS!!

Seriously, I feel so old. The only thing that could make me feel older now is being a grandparent or having a child get married. My daughter Angel did not get a ring for Christmas. Okay, that might not exactly be truthful. My daughter did get a ring through her nose. She got a botched piercing the week of Christmas and ended up having to get it re-pierced this week. But nothing from her boyfriend.

I’m not going to lie, 2019 was a really tough year. I’m glad to say good riddance to it. Just a quick recap..I started the year off losing my job. I had a very important piece of jewelry stolen from me. I found my ring in the pant pocket of my son Alex’s friend while I was doing his laundry since he was practically living with us. We said he was no longer welcome here. We were worried about our son graduating from high school. Thankfully he did.

Then we had a nice break sailing with friends in the BVI. There was some smooth sailing. The year didn’t totally suck!

My daughter left home for good. Although Angel was away at college, she always came home over summer and holiday breaks. My baby got her driver’s license. We decided to fill our emptying nest with two foreign exchange students. It’s been an adjustment going from two to four teenagers in the house.

My husband and I had some marriage issues over the summer. We were arguing a lot. For the first time in 22 years of marriage, I wondered if things weren’t going to work out. Thankfully we are both willing to work on things and it has improved.

I also had some health issues and watched close family members struggle with ill health as well. I ended up having to go dairy free and give up my favorite foods and drinks from allergies. This has been a real struggle for me. Despite not feeling the best, I finished my first 50k and plan to do another this year.

My husband’s hours got drastically cut at work and he started a new business. We are uncertain about our finances. I applied for a job working for the census and my husband might apply for another job as well.

Most recently, my dad really screwed up. The PG version I am telling the children in our house is that grandpa and grandma might get a divorce. What really happened is more of an X rated version for a mature audience. I can’t really talk about it right now. The only people that know the full story are my husband and adult children.

In 2019, I finished my book. I got a lot of great feedback from the test readers. They both loved it (and also wanted to give me a lot of hugs and play dolls with me).

I hope that in 2020 I’ll have a clear vision for my life. I want to find meaning and purpose. Finding peace and joy would be an added bonus. I haven’t had a lot of that in my life. What I want more than anything is to keep writing. The funny thing is that I never wanted to write more than one book.

I have been struggling a lot lately over the holidays with depression. This whole situation with my parents has really been getting me down. Since Thanksgiving, I’ve hosted five parties. This weekend I’ll be hosting the foreign exchange student Christmas party. There will be somewhere around 30 people at my house that I don’t even know. I will be happy when it is all over. Having large groups of people over makes me feel stressed and anxious. It’s the cleaning, the cooking, and the cleaning again after everyone leaves and everything in between.

I don’t think it would be a big deal if I wasn’t already so stressed out about my parents. Then when nothing is going on, I feel bored and depressed. It’s not like I have nothing to do, it’s just that I don’t feel like doing anything.

I haven’t wanted to write a lot over the holiday time because I have been feeling so low. I think the holidays should be a happy time. I was rather disgusted with myself for being the Debbie downer, the victim, the person who’s life sucks although I have been blessed with so many things. It’s been very difficult to write about. It’s easier to write about past pains than the raw, fresh, gushing gashing wounds.

It’s my time of grief and sorrow. It’s just a season that I hope doesn’t last too long. But the clock keeps ticking. I wish with the changing of the calendar year that it would just end like the turning of a page. I don’t think it will end anytime soon, but it will end eventually.

New year, knew me.

My pretty mask

I panic as I sit here waiting. I know I have catastrophic anxiety, but in all of my worry I never imagined this.

Waiting is terribly hard when you know something bad is going to happen. This time it really is. I hear the time bomb ticking its countdown in my chest. I want to stop it but I can’t. I just have to brace for the explosion and pick up the pieces when it is done.

The panic sets in. Maybe somehow this is my fault. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe I could’ve stopped it. Will I get in trouble? This paranoia is making me crazy.

I feel angry. I am broken already. PLEASE STOP MESSING UP MY LIFE! Will it never end? Sometimes I secretly wish you were dead. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. I am supposed to protect you, yet you never kept me safe.

I am so sad for what I didn’t have. Everywhere I go it is rubbed into my face. Maybe my life would be better if I wasn’t in it. I can’t stand feeling this way anymore. I’m drowning, alone. I reach for your hand, but no one is there. I grab at whatever comfort I can find as I go under.

My therapist says I need to break this conditioning. But maybe somehow it is my fault. Maybe somehow I can fix things. I don’t know what to do. But I know what you will do. You will ask me to be a doctor when I’m not even a nurse. Did you forget that I am hurt too? How did I get chosen to be the bellhop for your baggage? Will you never stop ruining my life?

I want to feel joy. I long for peace. But you never set me free. I am foolish enough to think I am getting away when I stick my arm outside of my cage. I fear I will always be trapped here. How can I get out of this? Every time I think I’m out, I’m still locked inside.

The numbness is wearing off too soon, the pain isn’t gone yet. HELP ME! I want to hide in the dark empty void of my mind. But you said it is not safe in there anymore. The demons live there that ravish my soul. But can’t you see I am already in hell? I’ve gotten used to the warmth of its raging fire. Now I’m so cold.

You can’t let them win. Feel joy in your times of sorrow. I wish I could. I feel like I am going to throw up.

Is my life some sort of cosmic joke? Funny, but I’m not laughing. God, what is the purpose?

You mar me with your filth until I can’t even see the goodness in me anymore. I could wash my hands of it a million times and still see the dirt you left behind. I want nothing to do with it.

I want to be on a warm beach somewhere serene. But even there I will find no solace, no escape. Everywhere I go, you come with me.

I see your reflection every time I look at myself in the mirror. My beauty mocks the ugliness inside. It oozes out of me. I wish I was ugly on the outside so no one would notice me.

I put on a smile and say everything is fine. I wear my pretty mask with all the glitter and glitz. I’m okay. I’m good. How about you?

Why am I not happy all of the time? I seem to have it all.

It’s amazing how easily people believe the lies they want to hear.

I’m glad you like my pretty mask. But I have to ask. When will the show end? I’m getting tired of acting normal.

Being weeded

The end of the week was just as strange as the beginning of the week. I don’t think I want anymore signs.

I’ve been struggling this week searching for purpose and meaning. I’ve been depressed and clinging dearly to life by a small cobweb string. There have been fights and arguments. There was one where I pried off my wedding ring just to chuck it at my husband. Maybe we should separate. Maybe we should divorce.

Most of our friends have already been divorced. Some live with another and never remarry. Some are on their second or third marriages. They seem so happy. Sometimes it seems so much easier to throw everything you have away and start all over again.

This week we will be married 22 years and lately it has been more difficult than it has been before. We let our children become the center of our lives and have to learn to live with each other again. We don’t know what we are doing. We had a newborn on our first anniversary.

This week our baby got her driver’s license, first try. I honestly didn’t think she would pass. While she was taking the test, I was already thinking about when she could retake it.

My husband got his hours cut at the business we sold. He is only going to be paid for 12 hours a week. That has been very stressful. We should be okay with the money we saved up. Tomorrow morning, however, Paul is planning on signing papers to become a franchise owner of a new business. He wants us to work together again. Most of the arguments were about me not working. Although I am almost done with my book, I had to set it down for awhile because I promised myself if I got really depressed that I would set it aside.

We decided to keep working on our marriage and to go after our dreams. If it doesn’t work out we could always do something else. We have to trust that things will fall into place.

Paul and I had a good day together yesterday, but things gradually fell apart. Arabella had a friend over, went to drive her home, and had the windows fog up but didn’t know how to defrost the windshield. I kept my ringer on just in case she needed more help. Most nights I turn my ringer off before I go to bed. I’m a light sleeper and figure my adult children can take care of themselves.

I was tired, but left my phone on and stayed up late. I received a call from Alex saying that his car broke down and needed towing. We just had it at the garage the day before, but they said what he needed fixing is very expensive. The body of the car dropped to the ground and he can’t drive it unless it is fixed. He was distraught that he now has two cars that don’t run.

He asked what the meaning of life was if it only brought suffering and pain to himself and the people he cares about. I told him he has a purpose and his job in life is to find that purpose. Don’t listen to the thoughts in your head that tell you that you are worthless. Don’t be discouraged, yet at times I am.

Now we are waiting to see if the car is worth fixing or if it is beyond repair. We got home late last night, around 1 AM. We were ready for bed when my phone rang again. My daughter Angel was calling. Her friends took her out for her 21st birthday. She was rather intoxicated and called to tell me she loved me. I talked to her for awhile, but she wasn’t making much sense. At the end of the call, her boyfriend Dan came on the phone and assured me not to worry that he would get my daughter back home safe.

I knew she was going out. I did worry especially since I wasn’t sure if Dan was going because he had a funeral to attend on the other side of the state earlier in the day. His uncle died in a freak accident trying to clean up after the storm that hit.

As I was ready to finally go to bed around 1:30, my mom texted and said she got safely to her vacation destination out of the country. She wanted me to call my dad because he doesn’t text and it was expensive to call. I called my dad today. At the end of the conversation, he told me he loved me for the second time in my entire life.

I went in the house to eat lunch with Paul and a song was on I never heard that said you’re being weeded.

Although I’ve been having a faith crisis, I’ve been still going to church because I am able to find some serenity there. Last week there was a sermon about how the weeds are planted alongside the good seeds. But if you pluck the weeds too soon, the plant will also be uprooted and die. But at the right time, the weeds will be pulled out and the plant can flourish and grow like never before.

I think I’m being weeded.