Gratitude week 127

  1. I was able to visit with Angel and Dan after not seeing them for a couple weeks.
  2. Opening the cabin up north for the season.
  3. Last minute my brother Luke came up north with his daughters. It was the first time I saw them this year. We played games, went for a hike, and sat by the campfire. It was too cold to swim yet.
  4. One thing that has taken some adjustment, my husband is gone a lot with our seasonal business. I do most of my work out of the house. That being said, I find myself alone a lot for the first time since all the kids moved out. The first night I spent at the cabin by myself. It was different. I was feeling this melancholy nostalgia. I missed my husband, the kids when they were younger, and my dog who went there with us year after year until this year since his passing. I started to feel sorry for myself. Then the next day, my brother came up with his kids and dog. The next door neighbors had kids and a dog. Kids were fighting, the dogs were always trying to get away, not to mention the noise and commotion. It was in that moment I became grateful for the stage of life I’m in. I don’t think I have the energy anymore to be chasing after kids and dogs that get away. I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone and I kind of like it.
  5. I’m grateful for the time to discover what I like to do. I really like going thrifting and to rummage sales. I did both this past week but no huge finds.
  6. Angel and Dan checked out some local city wide rummage sales and asked if there was anything I was looking for they could find, and they did! I have been looking for a motorcycle helmet for Alex’s girlfriend. He only has one and he has been taking his off to give to his girlfriend when she rides with him. Angel found a pink motorcycle helmet for Lexi, her favorite color. Her birthday is next month and I have the perfect gift. Win, win, win.
  7. My mom and autistic brother Matt went up north this weekend too. Matt is more on the severe end of the autism spectrum and is not very socially aware. Two things happened this weekend that are worth mentioning. Matt asked me if Paul was coming up north too. He didn’t ask about my kids. This tells me he somehow knows Paul and I are linked together but that the kids are grown up. I was impressed by his awareness when most of the time he is oblivious to relationships.
  8. The other thing that happened is this…We were sitting around a campfire. My mom asked my 12 year old niece Gracie to move out of grandma’s chair so she could sit there. A few minutes later my brother Matt wanted the chair, so my mom moved out of the chair to an empty chair so Matt could sit there. I called my mom out on it. My mom said she is just a really good mom to Matt. She always gives him special treatment which I am not keen of. Later, Matt wanted my chair and moved all my stuff off of it while I was tending to the fire. I told him I was sitting there and it was rude of him to take my chair when I got up to do work especially when other chairs were available. But he did it anyway and I was pissed. My mom did nothing. A few minutes later Matt came over and apologized to me. I was floored. I never in a million years thought he was going to do that. I actually thought he was coming over to me to steal the other chair I was sitting on.
  9. Matt has been involved in a day program for the last several years for autistic children and adults. It’s made a big difference in his life. I know they have been working with him a lot on social skills and how to interact with people. Matt noticed I was up north alone. But the big thing was he noticed I was irritated at him for his behavior and he apologized. My parents didn’t teach him that. My mom always wanted us to give him special treatment like she does without giving him the opportunity to learn what appropriate behavior is. I’m grateful for this program and that even though he is in his 40’s, he is learning how to interact with others in a way that is also healthy for him.
  10. I’m grateful for warm spring days and cool nights. No need for the heat or the A/C.

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.

Gratitude week 115

  1. This week I planned a trip out west for my husband and I for our 25th wedding anniversary. We will be staying a couple days in Idaho and Montana, two more states to check off my bucket list. I thought it would be funny to visit Yellowstone and see Old Faithful on our anniversary. Funny story, when Paul and I were in New Orleans we met a lady on a tour who was from Idaho. I told her I would like to visit her state and asked her what the best thing to do was. She said don’t, go back to New Orleans instead. My daughter told me to bring back some potatoes for her. I know it doesn’t sound like an exciting 25th anniversary trip, but I believe there are good things to see and experience in every part of the world. If you are looking for it, you will find it.
  2. Since Paul and I cancelled our trip to Puerto Rico in January because non-essential travel was not recommended due to COVID wrecking havoc and running rampant, Expedia gave us an airline credit. The extra protection travel insurance was total crap. They wouldn’t refund anything even though travel was disrupted and not advisable. So, I booked the above trip using the credit which was an absolute nightmare. What should have taken me a couple hours to plan literally took me all day. I didn’t get anything else done, like write on this blog. But anyway, I was unable to apply the credit when I tried to book it myself. But to talk to an actual live person through Expedia and the airline itself was a two to three hour wait. I tried chatting through the airline and got nowhere. I almost gave up on being able to use the credit, but finally tried Expedia’s chat. The person I worked with was absolutely amazing and was able to book the trip for me using my credits over chat. I’m grateful they also gave us credits for the cancelled trip since the insurance company refused to cover any of our costs although it was advertised as being refundable for any reason.
  3. My husband learned how to play Mahjong and taught me how to play. The game was a Christmas gift a couple years back from Paul but we never learned how to play until this past week. It is rather time consuming and intimidating to learn. We ended up having Angel and Dan over for homemade pizza and Mahjong this week and it was fun.
  4. I had a dentist appointment this week for a cleaning. No problems!
  5. Last night we set the clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Savings Time. Spring is coming, even though we woke up to a couple inches of snow. But at least it will be light later.
  6. Yesterday we had some friends and family over for a board game day. It was nice to do something fun and get our mind off of things. We played several new games.
  7. It’s been hard with Arabella in the hospital. Paul and I have been having a difficult last couple of days and haven’t been getting along well. I thought we would get used to it over time but it doesn’t seem to be going that way. It’s stressful and doesn’t bring out the best in us. However, our relationship is going better now.
  8. I’m grateful that Arabella is talking to me now and we are getting along a lot better than we did before. It’s easier to help her through her depression this way.

A fun family weekend

We spent this past weekend with our kids and their significant others at a waterpark for part of their Christmas gift. I would much rather make memories than give gifts. It was a successful trip with no arguments or fights. That’s not to say it was without problems.

On Friday night, Arabella got sick and threw up all over the place. It was a huge mess with limited cleaning supplies. But some good came out of it. Her boyfriend Will was a big help cleaning the mess up with me. He treated her with kindness and concern. It showed us he really cares about her. He really went out of his way to be helpful. I wasn’t really sure about him at first.

Saturday we had some wild weather come our way. Paul and I were going to take everyone to the swim up bar for a drink. The bar pool closed as we arrived because a storm was coming. There was a lot of thunder, lightening, and a torrential downpour. It was kind of eerie seeing a big storm come through. We heard there was a possibility of tornadoes and I have no idea where we would have been able to take shelter since we were in a huge indoor waterpark surrounded by a lot of people. It was the most people I’ve been around since COVID which was a little disconcerting in and of itself. I was reminded of why I like my solitude, but for a couple days it was okay.

Other than all of that, the trip was pretty uneventful. We visited the waterpark all day. We ate all of our meals at the cabin we reserved to save money. Paul even grilled out in the rain. Every evening we played games and watched classic MTV. One evening we played laser tag, but sadly I didn’t do very well.

The waterpark was included with our stay. But before we got to the waterpark we had to pass the bar, a restaurant, a shopping area, a candy store, an arcade, and other attractions which weren’t included. We did pretty good though since the swim up bar was closed the one time we wanted to get a drink. But we did end up pigging out on candy a couple times which could be why Arabella wasn’t feeling good.

All in all, though, I felt pretty happy because peace and harmony most the time are hard to come by. I did feel some guilt for ignoring my dad on his birthday. But I took those feelings and poured them into my own family. I don’t have the relationship I want with my dad, but I will do everything I can to have the kind of relationship I would’ve wanted with him with my own kids.

It was nice not to have to worry about taking little kids to the waterpark and keeping track of them. They are adults and can take care of themselves. Although I did end up packing a couple extra swimming suits. Good thing because Will forgot his. But other than that, it was pretty worry free. I spent a lot of time laughing and having fun with the family. I don’t extravert a lot, but sometimes when I am in a good mood I can get pretty loud. Everyone got along. As for now, I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

The old normal, part 4

One of the things I missed most during COVID was visiting the elderly. Something I looked at with fondness before started to fill me with fear. What if I’m sick and I don’t know it and I end up killing someone?? It’s still hard to erase that fear from my mind.

Last weekend, Paul and I were invited out to our friends new apartment followed by a show at a local community theatre we haven’t been to before. We had a wonderful time. After the show, we went back to their place and visited some more. By the time we got home, it was after midnight. We were exhausted but our friends assured us they were not and didn’t want us to leave. Our friends Harv and Kate are in their upper 80’s.

It’s unusual for sure, but Paul and I have several friends we hang out with that are almost 90. When COVID came around, we pretty much stopped hanging out with them which is sad because they are not getting any younger. I really missed our time with them and didn’t like the new feelings of fear I had towards our friendship with them.

My daughter Angel was helping out a family by caring for a woman in her 90’s over COVID. She also had fear being around her. But nothing either one of us were afraid of happened. What did end up happening was totally unexpected. Angel was going for a walk with this woman when the lady tripped and fell breaking her leg. She has recently recovered.

One thing I did notice though, although there is still some fear involved with maintaining relationships with the elderly, the elderly are so unbelievably lonely. They need contact with other people to be healthy. I’m really looking forward to visiting with them again.

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.

The old normal, part 3

There was another new friendship I put on hold once COVID started. Again, we had a lot of similar beliefs and shared interests. Now she wants to get together again and I’m not sure I want to.

Where we left our friendship off, my friend confided in me that her husband got really drunk one night and beat her. I don’t think it was an isolated event. She said she would take him back if he stopped drinking. He said he would stop drinking. Fast forward two years later. My friend posted some pictures from a New Year’s party. It looked like she was drinking but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

A couple weeks after that, she posted pictures of them BOTH drinking at a winery and brewery tour. He is drinking again. I JUST CAN’T. I can’t go out with them and have a few drinks knowing it might lead to violence towards her. He didn’t keep his word, and frankly neither did she. I want to be her friend but I don’t feel comfortable about their relationship knowing what I know.

My daughter has a similar friendship and it’s been very difficult for her. Last year her friend’s fiancée got drunk and beat her resulting in a broken ankle. He said he would quit drinking. But the violence still continues. Last week he choked her totally sober. Angel told her she needed to leave but she won’t. Her friend said maybe she provoked it. Plus they are getting married in a couple months. They already reserved the hall and she has her dress. Now is her chance to leave, but she won’t. It’s a lot more complicated once you are married and have children. Why doesn’t she understand that?

Ages ago, I was in an abusive relationship with someone I was engaged to. My fiancée Mac grabbed me by the neck and held me against the wall and shoved me around causing bruises. I got out of the relationship but I was tempted to go back. You see, he said he was going to change. One night we were sitting outside grilling with the neighbors at his apartment complex. When Mac left to go to the bathroom, his next door neighbor pulled me aside. He told me he heard me crying. He said I deserved much better. He told me to leave and not look back. I did and I would tell others to do the same. But what if they don’t? How can you be a friend, hear about how they are being abused, and watch them do nothing about it?

Several years before I was born, my mom left my dad. He shoved her around and bruised her ribs. She left and stayed with a friend. My dad showed up at her work with flowers. He said it would never happen again. He wore her down. Some fifty years later, she is still thinking of leaving. If only she left then, her life could’ve been a different story. It’s painful to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship that they do nothing about. Doing nothing is still a choice.

There were times I remember as a kid when my mom said she was going to leave. My brother Mark pleaded with her to not leave our dad. We jumped in the car with her as she drove around crying questioning herself out loud about what she was going to do. It was stressful and scary as a child because I didn’t have the security that my parents loved each other or were in a loving relationship. It could all unravel at any time. We were afraid of our dad and didn’t want to be alone with him because we were never sure what he was going to do to us. Mainly it was emotional abuse, but he would enjoy terrifying us. He didn’t change. The flowers were a cheap substitute for a beautiful life she could’ve had without him.

That being said, I find this friendship to be triggering and I’m not sure how good I would be pretending everything is fine. I would be open to talking to her but I can’t support her staying in an abusive relationship. I JUST CAN’T.

I believe that change is possible, but not likely. It takes a tremendous amount of work to change especially if you are dealing with other issues such as addiction. There is nothing I can do to change or fix things except directing them to clergy or professional help. Even then, they still might decide to do nothing. That makes me feel helpless, and I don’t like to feel that way towards the people I care about.

The old normal, part 1

I’ve experienced a lot a change in the last 5 years. It started with the death of my mother-in-law from cancer back in February of 2017. We went through a period of grief and loss.

Within the last 5 years we went from having three (up to four with the foreign exchange students) teenagers living in our house to being empty nesters last month.

Paul and I went from running a business to selling our business that I worked at for 10 years and he for 20. For a period of time, we were retired. Then Paul started a seasonal business. He also started a new career different from both businesses. So there were several career and job changes within the last 5 years.

With the selling of our business, we experienced a socioeconomic change. We moved into a different house in a different town. Our youngest daughter changed schools. We are attending the third church within five years. New house, new neighborhood, new school, new church.

I went from being a marathon runner to not running at all. I was diagnosed with colitis and started developing health issues. I started to notice aging more than I’ve ever experienced it before in my adult life going from my early 40’s to my late 40’s. My siblings started to develop health issues.

I found out about the crime my dad committed. It tore up my family. Then COVID came into play and tore up whatever family unity was left. My dad will be 75 in a couple weeks and it kills me that our relationship never amounted to anything. Most of my family went from tolerating him to despising him. My mom is teeter tottering back and forth between leaving my dad and staying. She moved in with us for awhile. She is experiencing a tremendous amount of anxiety.

It’s been two years today since my youngest daughter tried to kill herself for the first time. That has been a huge struggle and change in my life, having a daughter go from quirky to being so mentally ill she might die.

Then there are the other little changes, but changes nonetheless. Losing a family pet. Buying a new car after my old car got totaled. Not to mention a global pandemic that changed everyone’s life.

I am struggling with all the change. The new me doesn’t even recognize the old me anymore. What happens now?

What happens when the pandemic ends? Do we pick up the pieces where we left off and start a new old normal?

Gratitude week 111

  1. It’s Valentine’s Day, I’m grateful for those I love and who love me.
  2. This past weekend, Paul and I went to a couples retreat. I’m grateful for the time we spent focusing on our relationship. The speaker was insightful. We both were able to look at things in a new and different way. Plus we did a lot of fun activities like ice skating, cross country skiing, tubing, games, fuzzball, painting, and a murder mystery dinner.
  3. When we got back home, our dehumidifier for the pool stopped working and it was pretty much raining in our house. The good news is that we were able to have someone come out and fix it today before any damage was done.
  4. New clean sheets. When we bought our bed 5 years ago we got two sheet sets to go with it and one wore out so we bought another.
  5. Last week I went grocery shopping and a baby, probably a little less than a year old, smiled and waved at me when her mother’s back was turned. It made me feel hope for the future. I can’t even explain why because it was something little. Once COVID started, I realized I haven’t seen a lot of little children out in public anymore. I didn’t realize how much I missed it.
  6. Last week Angel and Dan invited us over for supper. I’m grateful my daughter is getting settled into her new house. Over the weekend they moved out some of her last remaining items such as a dresser and hutch I gave her.
  7. I’m grateful at the moment life seems to be settling down a little. Hopefully it stays that way for a while.
  8. I made an appointment to get my second tattoo next month. I’m grateful l didn’t chicken out.

Sad, angry, and less than perfect

I’m not going to lie, the last couple of days have been rough. It’s been hard to muster up the Christmas spirit.

Yesterday I was feeling triggered by so many different things it was hard to figure out what was bothering me. I think what has been the most upsetting is that our dog is dying. He has been getting worse since our vet visit last week. Besides arthritis and now congestive heart failure, the vet thinks the mass near his stomach could be cancerous as his appetite has not been the best. It’s hard to watch him decline and I’m afraid we might be faced with some tough decisions soon.

I remember when my husband brought our dog home to surprise our children with an early Christmas gift the December of 2007. He quickly became a member of our family. Every morning he would walk the children out to the school bus and wait for their return. He would run with Paul and I. Everyone he met just loved him. This will be his last Christmas if he holds on that long. Thinking about this makes me cry.

I feel a great amount of loss. My children are not children anymore. Angel will be moving into her own house next month. Arabella already left and she doesn’t want a close relationship with me. I feel abandoned by my extended family. At this point, I don’t even want to invite them to my daughter’s wedding.

I am pretty certain we are going to be leaving our church. I will miss some of the people we got to know. What also hurts is we spent a lot of time getting to know the pastor’s parents and they moved away without telling us they were leaving. We didn’t get a chance to say good-bye.

I miss my life pre-COVID before everything happened with my dad and before my daughter started showing signs of being seriously mentally ill. I miss when my grandma was alive and threw us the best Christmases to help us forget for one day of the year that our childhood sucked. My grandparents, Aunt Grace, and Uncle Harold all have been gone over a decade now. I miss them and the sense of family I had with them. Nothing would stop me from spending time with them if they were still alive. My family is gone but they gave me a great example of how to be that family for my own children and grandchildren someday.

Recently I posted something on Facebook saying we shouldn’t let fear stop us from getting together with family for the holidays because who knows how long any of us has left. Just something simple like that sparked a debate which caused me to be unfriended by a pastor we had a few years back. As if I am some sort of satanist or something for wanting family to be together. My bad!

He is the same pastor we invited over for Thanksgiving when he didn’t have any family in the area. His family of 5 stood us up. I cooked all this extra food and they didn’t show. Apparently someone gave him tickets to the Packer game. I never cared for the pastor after that. Good riddance!

I admit I was feeling angry and vindictive. I rarely want to cut a bitch, but man when I do. So last night I spent the evening having a couple of drinks, listening to my angry music, and doing some jagged crying. I did some slobbery sobbing that no one cares about me to the few people who actually do. They were worried about my sanity. (Long gone, people, long gone)… My best friend gave a check in call on the way home from work. I do know I have some really awesome people who care about me, even if some people who I thought cared don’t.

One of the best things COVID did do is weed the people out of my life who don’t care. I don’t have to waste my time on them. On Christmas Eve, Paul and I are spending the evening with my best friend and her family. I can do what I want without caring what others think of me. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. That is so freeing. I don’t have to try hard to please people who don’t give a shit about me. I can be myself around my friends.

One thing I can tell you is that I had a hell of a lot more fun with Tom and Lisa than I probably would’ve at the extended family Christmas party. Remember if your family sucks, friends are the family you choose. My best friends know my kids better than most of my family ever will.

Being triggered by all the loss, I really had to ask myself what was bothering me to get me so bent out of shape. What is upsetting me the most right now is that my dog is dying and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Maybe I should grant myself the freedom to be sad, angry, and less than perfect.