This uncertainty, part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 #31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The story unfolds

So now the story unfolds. It’s been over a month since Arabella has been home from residential. She was there for over two months.

She is now writing her own story in a book that will perhaps never be written. We did our best. Now here we will remain as a landing pad when her wings are broken from life as sometimes happens when a bird first leaves the nest.

We keep telling ourselves that everything will be okay. Even if it’s not, we will still walk through it together.

On the rough days we talk of Paul’s mom. She made a good life for herself. She didn’t have much. She didn’t have a high school diploma but was always able to find a job. She raised a child as a single parent when she was right around Arabella’s age. She struggled with mental health issues, but she had her mother to help her and later in life she married a good man. She had a house to live in.

If Martha could do it, then Arabella has a good chance to live life independently. In some ways, I think that Martha was happier than most people I know. Ignorance is bliss they say. I don’t even think she knew she was not very bright or that she was mentally ill.

Arabella is out in the world now. She is finding her way, even if it is not the path I would’ve chosen for her. She is not out of the woods, but she is doing so much better. She wants to live now. Crazy can be fun and exciting. Normal is boring anyway.

I am closing this series. It’s been very challenging to write about my daughter’s mental health struggles in only the way that personal painful pieces can be. But I feel like it’s been therapeutic for me as well.

From here on out I might get a little light and fluffy for awhile. I might post about my travels, wedding planning (yeah!), or go back to writing about the fortune cookies I’ve amassed. But I’m not going anywhere. I just need to lighten things up after talking about such serious personal topics.

I can be fun too, but you guys probably don’t know that about me.

Gratitude week 78

  1. Oh my gosh guys, this is super exciting!!! My daughter Angel got engaged over the weekend. Finally some good news!
  2. Summer!! Even though it’s been raining hard the last couple of days. (We do need the rain though).
  3. My daughter Arabella paid us back the money she owed us and so far loves her new job.
  4. I had two appointments with my therapist this past week. The last couple of weeks I’ve been really anxious and am starting to have stomachaches again. I’m hoping to manage my stress better, so here is to taking steps to do that.
  5. Yesterday I celebrated the graduation of my best friend’s son. Again, I was able to catch up with some acquaintances that I haven’t seen since before COVID. It was cool and rainy so we huddled inside their garage most of the afternoon. But it was nice to celebrate with friends on a rainy day that I wouldn’t do much else on. I won’t take for granted celebrating with friends after last year with COVID.
  6. I can’t believe that it will be the 4th of July next weekend. I have plans to go up north with my family to celebrate. It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen Luke and I haven’t seen my brother Mark and his wife since before COVID.
  7. Thunderstorms without severe weather.
  8. Oh my gosh, my daughter is getting married. How can that be??
  9. My daughter’s fiancĂ© Dan is a really great guy.
  10. I’m just grateful right now to be home and sleeping in my own bed.

Residential care

The first couple of weeks at residential were really rough. I was afraid that Arabella was going to get kicked out of the program. They told us while she was on the waiting list if she did any self-harm, such as banging her head against the wall like she did at her second inpatient stay, they would release her. She knew that because she was part of that conversation. She hated it there at first. She didn’t have any friends. They purposefully kept her alone to increase her tolerance in a safe environment.

We received nightly calls from her which were not always good. She begged us to send her expensive gifts overlooking the cost of treatment. She bragged about her arguments with staff and how she broke the rules. They had a hard time waking her up in the morning like we did. It wasn’t going well because she didn’t want to be there. She argued with us and hung up on us on multiple occasions. I was always waiting for a call that we should come pick her up and there was nothing they could do for her.

The first call from the therapist was rough because she said that Arabella made allegations of abuse against us which they had to report to social services. Nice! What were they going to do anyway? Take her away? I jokingly said to my husband that maybe then the county would pay for her residential treatment. But nothing ever happened.

Arabella caught on fast, but she couldn’t focus. She was easily distracted which lead to a diagnosis of ADHD. She improved greatly in the program after she was treated for this. I felt like this was a turning point in her treatment. She wanted to be there after that and wanted to get better. She could finally focus on studying and new hobbies.

Some other strange things happened while she was there. Arabella went into a dissociative state and freaked out scaring other patients. She didn’t know who she was or where she was. In this dissociative state, Arabella ate plastic which prompted more testing for pica. Dissociation can be a symptom of borderline. After this she had every single diagnostic characteristic of borderline. I wondered if this had anything to do with her eating nonfood items before. I was completely puzzled.

Before this I did not know she experienced dissociative episodes. She admitted to dissociating in the shower. She also said that she had episodes in her room where she looked down at herself and thought that she was a very bad person that didn’t deserve to live or a very good person. I found it very hard to understand and didn’t even know it was possible or likely without experiencing major trauma.

After the treatment for ADHD and after her dissociative episode ended, there was a time of tremendous growth. She started working on learning and applying skills. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we were very fearful at first about whether or not this treatment was going to work. We had a lot invested in it and not just financially. I think our fear in early treatment was normal, we just didn’t know what to expect.

I think the residential DBT program was a lifesaver. It gave her (and us) more tools to work on some of her mental health issues she was struggling with. But we were also worried about how things were going to be when she got home. Would the skills carry over? Would she be able to live independently or would she need lifetime care? Again, we just didn’t know what to expect in recovery.

Gratitude week 75

  1. I found my favorite pair of sunglasses that I thought I lost.
  2. Summer!!! So last weekend we had a couple of days with highs around 50. This weekend the temps are in the 90’s. I am totally embracing summer so much so that I typically drive with the windows down. Also we are so cheap that we are planning on going the whole summer without A/C. The past couple days have been a test of that. I am totally happy that my husband is on the same page as I am as far as embracing the heat goes although it is a little on the side of crazy.
  3. I was able to spend a couple days up north as we opened up the cabin for the season.
  4. I am learning to live with the uncomfortableness of letting go. There is a certain freedom to be found in it after having to be responsible for others for so long.
  5. I just finished another self help book. After spending the last couple months reading that genre, I’m going to read a novel that I found in one of those little free book boxes up north.
  6. We are taking Paul out to eat tonight to celebrate him being on TV.
  7. We also started thinking of new business strategies and ideas to help us move forward with our business.
  8. Paul and I went to a session together with my therapist this past week that was really helpful and eye opening.
  9. Kayaking around the lake on a hot day and jumping into the cool refreshing water at the sand bar.
  10. We had a nice Memorial Day with Paul’s step-dad Darryl and his new fiancĂ©. My mom and all the kids were around too. It was nice to have a cook out and play some games. It seems like that doesn’t happen often enough. It didn’t happen at all last summer. It’s nice to see life getting back to somewhat normal.

Gratitude week 72

  1. Arabella came home from residential.
  2. Arabella already has a job interview for today to work as a bartender. It’s a great time to be looking for a job because everyone is so desperate for employees they may overlook her inexperience. **Since the first draft, she was offered a job in the bakery which she does have experience with. But she does have another job opportunity on the line so we’ll see what happens.**
  3. I can’t believe the day has come that all of my children are now adults as Arabella turned 18 over the weekend. I’m learning to let go. It can be rather freeing.
  4. The light switch turned on and it is finally summer around here. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it is warm enough for shorts. That is what I like about living in a climate with harsh winters, summer seems so wonderful.
  5. The boats are in the water. It feels good that the boating season is starting.
  6. We rearranged furniture yesterday and now my daughter Angel’s bedroom is downstairs and we have an office upstairs. We have been arranging things the last couple months and everything is finally starting to come together the way I like it. Angel will be happier too since it has been incredibly hard for her to find a house to buy or rent. She may be living with us a lot longer than she planned with the market the way it is. I don’t mind though…
  7. All my kids are living on my property (my son lives in the mother-in-law suite apartment in the detached garage). It’s nice to have everyone together again. Plus my mom is living here which is going smoother. I almost have a sense of family.
  8. I had almost 4 hours of therapy on one day last week. I think I am officially fixed (at least I can think that anyway).
  9. I met my friend Jen out for lunch last week. It was refreshing to get together with a friend I haven’t seen for awhile.
  10. I am writing this from my new office that faces the road with freshly blooming flowers and trees outside my window.

Gratitude week 70

  1. And just like that, April is over and we are one step closer to summer.
  2. Last night I had a long honest conversation with my mom and I think it helped us both in our healing process.
  3. After the heavy conversation, my mom, husband, son, daughter Angel, and I played Jackbox games online. We laughed a lot and everyone got along better than they had in a long time.
  4. Although this week is starting off cool and rainy, it was nice to have a few warm weather days over the weekend to get outside and enjoy the nice weather.
  5. I’m grateful for rummage sales in the summer. My mom and I went to a couple over the weekend. My big score was finding a boxing bag stand. My son has had a boxing bag for over a year without a stand which is basically useless. So now he has a stand for it. Guess who bought some boxing gloves? Yup, me!
  6. I had an appointment with my therapist this past week and she thinks that having my mom live with us for awhile would be a good opportunity for growth and healing for me.
  7. I’m grateful to go out for lunch with my best friend and go dress shopping for our children’s graduation from high school. We both found our dresses 15 minutes before the store closed.
  8. I’m grateful that Paul is doing a great job at his new job. We went out on Friday night with the people in his office to celebrate.
  9. I’m grateful that my daughter Arabella will be graduating at the end of the month.
  10. My new car has been absolutely naked without bumper stickers. I’m grateful to have found one that I like. It says something along the lines of ‘trying to decide if I am a warning or an example in today’s world’. Seemed kind of funny.
  11. My husband and I were cleaning out Arabella’s frog cage and one of her frogs got away. He wedged himself into a crack under the bottom of the sink. Thankfully Paul was able to pull him out before he got trapped and died back there. It was a moment of sheer panic though.

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.