A couple days in Kennebunk, Maine

From Vermont we drove a couple hours to Kennebunk, Maine. I found our lodging last minute after our Airbnb cancelled on us. It ended up being our favorite place to stay. We stayed in the penthouse suite and the elevator took us to the luxurious top floor of a newer building.

Parking was tight in the little lot with the monster SUV. I directed Paul backwards into the spot planning to take our luggage out of the trunk before he pulled it all the way in. Arabella screamed at Paul saying she wanted to get the luggage out from the side door instead, that her plan made the most sense. She was angry again.

Despite that, we enjoyed most of our stay. Although the forecast said more rain, it was rather warm and sunny on Paul’s birthday. It only rained at night. A parade went through town the morning of his birthday. We went out for his birthday and we all ordered a whole lobster for the first time. Then we spent the day in Oak Orchard Beach. Arabella went to the arcade. We went to the few shops that were open. It was like a ghost town. There were signs that said you had to pay for parking but there wasn’t an attendant to pay. There was an amusement park full of closed rides. We did walk the beach for awhile but the water was much too cold to swim. Even the restrooms were closed for the season due to lack of staff to clean them. If we wanted a bathroom we had to stop and get a drink at the bar.

We did walk around Kennebunk quite a bit as well. Even though we were in Kennebunk and Oak Orchard Beach on the weekend, most places were closed for the season in the end of September.

I would like to say our trip was going well, but it really wasn’t. I still wasn’t sleeping and awoke crying from nightmares. Arabella was up in the middle of the night making noise that also woke us up. She started sneaking out by herself at night while we were in Kennebunk. In her room I saw tons of junk food and a lighter sitting on her dresser. Then she told us she no longer wanted breast reduction surgery, she wanted back surgery.

I was so upset. What did I expect? I hoped her mental illness would take a vacation too. I worried that my mom was having a horrible time. I became jealous that she probably had more fun on the trip she took with my brother Luke and his family a couple months back.

There was a little park on the Main St. in Kennebunk next to the dam. I went under the bridge with my mom and Paul. I stayed until it got dark after everyone else left and cried. I just didn’t want to do this anymore. I was feeling depressed with everything that was happening with my daughter. She was acting hateful to all of us and I just wanted to have a fun memorable trip. I lost a lot of hope that everything was going to be alright. Maybe my expectations were too high.

The next morning Paul, my mom, and I went to breakfast while Arabella slept in. My mom confronted me asking what I was feeling and thinking the night before as I sat watching the water under the bridge. She said that I scared her. I told her I was overwhelmed with grief about my daughter so much so that at times I feel like I can’t go on. I’ve reached my breaking point and it is destroying me. Paul told her that more than anything I just needed her support.

Let’s go

Here I am waiting at the pharmacy. We are leaving tomorrow and Arabella is sick again. Thankfully the strep test came back negative. But she does have tonsillitis and the doctor wants to put her on steroids. At least it’s not COVID as she had that last month. Never a dull moment.

My mom said she wasn’t doing the best either. She said her heart was racing again and she is afraid her cancer came back. Seriously I’d be surprised if there isn’t an ER visit as a stop on this trip.

Besides being worried about my mom and daughter, I am anxious that my kids at home are going to fight. I’m trying to calm down and tell myself that this is going to be a fun trip. If nothing else, with my mom and Arabella it should be an adventure.

I have been so stressed out lately I’m not sure it’s even worth it. I know, I know. I should worry about myself and let everyone else figure their own lives out. I haven’t been taking good care of myself with all this worry but I’m trying.

Nothing that happens will be the end of the world unless the world really does end and all this stuff really wouldn’t matter anymore anyway.

I am excited to travel again and I’ll be sure to tell you of our adventures on the road.

Let’s go! I’m trying to let it go…

The price you pay

Right before Paul left to go back to work away from home a couple nights, we had an argument about the COVID vaccine. We weren’t on the best of terms when he left. But nonetheless, he called me that night and everything seemed to be alright.

It was the next day that was a problem. I found out on Facebook that someone we knew was going to be at the same place Paul was with his clients. I commented on their status to say hi to Paul if they saw him. Now these people are really nice but are heavy drinkers. Part of the argument too was over Paul drinking. That evening the people we knew sent me blurry pictures of Paul saying they found him. He didn’t call me that night like he usually does. Now going through my head were a lot of scenarios. I thought perhaps something happened to him or maybe he met up with these people and had too much to drink.

While I was waiting, my mom called. She said that she and her siblings decided that no unvaccinated people were allowed to go to the family reunion in a couple of weeks. I was no longer welcome. I was angry but I didn’t know why. After I processed it I realized why. That excluded my brothers and I from attending as we were planning on doing. She could have suggested the plan that all unvaccinated people needed to get tested before attending and abstain if they were sick. They could wear masks. That has been the protocol for a lot of events. But I hardly think my mom would suggest something that someone else might not want even if it excludes her whole family. Maybe if Matt couldn’t go she would put up a fight. She never stood up for us with anything and that was triggering.

I was also angry because she is the one that drilled into us as kids that chemicals of any kind were bad. While our cohorts were guzzling down Kool-Aid, we weren’t allowed to drink the Kool-Aid. Artificial colors and flavors were of the devil. We didn’t have Twinkies or any of that stuff in our house. Fluoride was bad so we had to rinse our toothbrushes in peroxide and dip them in baking soda. I wasn’t allowed after awhile to take the green fluoride rinse that was wheeled into our classroom on the little carts about once a month. Just another way I was the weird one.

My mom took it a step further and also said what Matt ate caused him to be violent. He ate something with dairy and had a reaction that caused him to attack a stranger. We didn’t have milk or cheese often at our house. We weren’t allowed to drink it at school. Chemicals and allergens caused his hallucinations. We had to be extremely careful about food in our house. Because of the Agent Orange his body couldn’t handle any more chemicals. They ripped out the wood stove because wood causes allergies. We couldn’t have a Christmas tree because of allergies. Tree pollen caused violence. I literally freaked out once I got into the real world where people used chemicals liberally.

Imagine my surprise when my mom and Matt were the first in line for the shot.

Now she says I can’t be around the extended family if I’m not vaccinated? But it’s okay for her to live at our house.

I also realized not only do I have a lot of fear but I’ve lost a lot of hope. I thought that life would be back to normal by now. I thought if we did our lockdown and wore our masks everything would settle down. But I don’t see it ending anytime soon. Not only that but there are so many negative things happening in the world right now that it’s easy to feel discouraged. I’m sick of people arguing about who’s vaccinated and who’s not. Can’t we just agree that we don’t know when this is going to be over and everyone is doing the best they can? No, let’s fight about it because you didn’t make the decision I did and I’m right.

People are ending long term friendships and families are torn over this. When is it going to end?

Then my mom told me that my brothers were planning on getting together the following weekend to work on a huge project at the cabin. Again, this left me upset. They didn’t even talk to me about it and I know they will be complaining that I don’t do my fair share. I’m not going to be around when they want to do the project. We could’ve set up a time where I could help along with my husband, son and his buddies, daughter and future SIL. I could’ve offered up more manpower but they didn’t bother to ask me.

I didn’t sleep hardly at all that night. I was furious. I thought my marriage was in trouble. I entertained the thought of not seeing my family for another year of holidays. I started thinking seriously about leaving. I wanted to go to an area where no one knew my name. I was at a point where I just didn’t feel like I could take it anymore. I was done with COVID. I was done with being responsible for people and situations I have no control over.

I was still angry at my husband the next morning when he called. He apologized for worrying me. He said he got back late and didn’t want to wake me. He said he is so afraid that something is going to happen to me because I didn’t get vaccinated. I worry that his drinking is going to hurt him too. We were only worried about each other. Once I understood that, I felt a little better.

My daughter is sick. But I am not?

It started this morning. A shifting in my mind like a veil torn away. A new anxiety replaces an old. Like no longer worrying about becoming impregnated once you are, but fearing what it will do. It doesn’t belong yet it’s a part of you.

The lines on the window appear darker, crisper, blunt while other ones smear bleak and blurry. It seems kind of funny somehow that what once was unchanging can look so different today.

My body aches. It lingers shortly then circles around. My knees. My head. My eyes. My back. Maybe I worked out too hard yesterday.

I’m so tired I could rest forever but there are things to do.

My temperature fluctuates between normal and a little warm. Maybe from sitting in the hot sun I console myself but don’t believe it to be true.

I sniffle, I sneeze, I cough. Just allergies, perhaps?

I decide to get tested. My daughter is sick. But I am not?

Why do I deny the truth? Is it the truth? I’ll know for sure in a couple of days.

Vacation frustration

We came back early from our sailing trip. I’m finally starting to get over the frustration and disappointment of our latest adventure.

I guess it started before we even left. Little things. Arabella’s car had a driver’s side window that went off track and was stuck all the way down. That happened the night before we got 4 inches of rain and we found out about it after it had been raining for most of the day. We had a pool pump that kept flipping the breaker. Dan switched out the breaker. After that the pool pump worked but the boiler kept erroring out. My husband was concerned there could be a gas leak. So we called the heating/cooling guys out before we left. I threw on my clothes from the night before but I was scrambling because I wanted to wash them before we left. So after I thought I was done talking to them I put my robe back on and threw my clothes in the wash. I frantically threw enough clothes for a week in my suitcase as the heating guys told me there wasn’t a gas leak while I was standing around in my robe. Why didn’t they tell my husband this?

Meanwhile, he was on the phone with the group of sailors we were planning on crossing Lake Michigan with. We decided to delay the trip by one day due to weather. I was rushing as fast as I could only to halt in my tracks finding out the rest of the day I no longer had any plans. I felt angry and frustrated. But, hey, at least we didn’t have a gas leak.

The weather was balmy hot. It was unpredictable, volatile, and unsettling. We watched the news late that night and the news forecast called for a chance of severe weather all the next day. We didn’t know if we would even be able to make it to Sturgeon Bay, the meeting place for all the sailors before departing for the cruise the following day. We went to bed feeling anxious. We would have to try to leave early again the next morning but we had a lot to do before leaving. Meanwhile my daughter Arabella told me she went to the doctor because she had a UTI.

The next morning Angel wasn’t feeling good either, a head cold or tonsillitis possibly. We left as early as we could though and made it to Sturgeon Bay in our sailboat with an hour to spare before the severe weather hit. I was a nervous wreck. There were tornado and severe thunderstorm watches and warnings all over the place. I was more worried about the kids at home than I was about being on a boat. Angel said the tornado sirens were going off and the skies were as dark as night during the day. To make matters worse, Arabella started throwing up and went to the ER thinking maybe she had a kidney infection. We also had a business emergency where an accident happened and a piece of equipment got broken.

But the plan still was to cross Lake Michigan the next morning between 5 and 6 AM. The trip across was going to take somewhere around 12 hours and we would be out of cell coverage a big portion of it. It was a horrible night but we were still dedicated to making the trip because Angel was taking care of things at home. Nothing seemed life threatening. The ER did a lot of tests that didn’t find anything wrong and that Arabella should just keep taking her antibiotics as prescribed. We couldn’t tap out easily because we had 3 passengers on our boat. Some of them had to take vacation days for this trip. Plus we were excited to go because none of us has crossed the big lake before.

I had a restless night’s sleep only to be awakened at 4:50 AM by a knock on our boat. There was a problem. The weather radio predicted 8ft waves the last portion of our trip. We decided not to cross that day and head up to Washington Island, then cross the following day. We sailed up Door County lake side and the waters were rough even close to shore.

When we got to the marina I received a call from my daughter saying that Arabella had to go back to the ER. She was really sick and throwing up. I was furious. Everyone was relaxing and having a few drinks so I decided to take a walk. I was angry with God. Why can’t we just get away for a few days and have respite from the stress? I was plotting how to get back home. Maybe I could hitch a ride with someone leaving the island on the car ferry. Then Paul and the rest of the crew could go on as planned without me. Later that evening the group got together for supper and planned the following day. It was there I got the text that Arabella tested positive for COVID. Again, I was angry. She finally got tested for COVID the third day she went in. They gave her an X-ray, CT scan, pelvic exam, STD tests, strep test, blood work, urine test BEFORE they thought to test her for COVID. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with those people??

So here my daughter is at home really sick with COVID even though she is 18 and fully vaccinated. They scheduled an antibody infusion for the next day. If that didn’t work she was going to have to be hospitalized. I was a wreck. We told the passengers on our boat and the people we were travelling with. Everyone was understanding even though there was a chance that through us they could be exposed. Some offered rides home if needed. The weather for the following day didn’t look great to cross the lake so everyone tapped out and we decided to start heading back towards home.

I slept horribly the whole night. I tossed and turned. I woke up cold and shivering. Was everyone cold that night? Or was I getting sick? Was that just a tickle in my throat? A sniffle in my nose? What if we had to sail rough waters sick? I had nightmares all night that I had COVID but awoke the next morning tired but feeling alright. We spent the next night in a marina. The following day we anchored out at an island. Although the shore was rocky and hard to walk on, we wanted to spend the night because it was simply beautiful. Maybe we could still save this trip after all. The infusion worked wonderfully and Arabella was feeling a lot better. Then we started worrying about going home and getting exposed since neither Paul nor I have had COVID yet.

We were looking forward to spending the night anchored out at the island but Paul said it was no good. It was going to be too windy so we headed back to our marina. Meanwhile, Paul and I were arguing. It was too stressful. I never wanted to go sailing again. I thought we were going to cross the big lake. I thought things would be good at home for a few days. I thought work would be okay without us. Boy was I wrong! I was so disappointed. I think we all were. Then when we were almost back to our home port we came across a smoking power boat. We thought they were on fire. We quickly grabbed whatever fire extinguisher we could find but I guess they were okay. One of their engines blew out. It was rather terrifying though to think we might have to do a water rescue. Or maybe the boat would blow up.

Then we came home to face COVID. I really hope this next week goes a lot better!

Gratitude week 84

  1. My daughter Angel has a wedding date picked out and will be getting married next October.
  2. The graduation party went really well. No one asked where my dad was. It was kind of funny because a couple people asked where my best friend was.
  3. I’m grateful to have had enough room inside our house for the party when the forecast said there wouldn’t be any rain for the party and it did nothing but rain once Arabella’s party started. By the time I woke up this morning we had 4 inches of rain.
  4. I’m grateful that my daughter graduated from high school.
  5. I’m grateful that all my kids are hard workers and have jobs.
  6. I’m grateful that both Angel and Arabella, who went on two separate trips to Chicago within the last week, made it back safely.
  7. Within the last week or so I was contacted by two of the Airbnb’s for our trip next month. One of them said they double booked the cabin we rented. They wanted us to move from a three bedroom to a two bedroom. I was really nice and explained that I wanted my mom and Arabella to have separate rooms when they asked. My mom is an insomniac morning person who likes complete dark and silence. My daughter is an extreme night owl that likes to sleep with noise and lights. They would not make the best roommates. Once I explained it to the lady, she told me not to worry about it. She would find different accommodations for the other people since she said the guy was really rude to her. So everything is still a go for our trip next month.
  8. In a couple days Paul and I are leaving on vacation. We our sailing our boat across Lake Michigan with three other people. It may take 10 to 12 hours to cross. There will be periods of time that we won’t see land or have cell coverage. I am a little nervous since we have never done this before. But it should be a great adventure. I’ll be sure to share some pictures.
  9. Paul and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary this past week. We spent the day touring Door County.
  10. I am grateful that I didn’t need to buy any decorations for the party because I was given decorations from two friends that already had graduation parties for their kids in June. I am happy that the graduation party is over. I probably spent at least 12 hours weeding, cleaning, and setting up for the party. I am almost done cleaning up and taking everything back down. Now that the party is over it’s one less thing to stress about.
  11. Summer!
  12. I’m grateful that I was able to gather with family and friends for my daughter’s graduation party.

chaos

Hi sweetheart I think you look good and I would love to get to know you if you let me. My name is Matt. I’m 36. So if you would give me a text my number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.

My 18 year old daughter Arabella went to the mall with her friend. When she got back to her car she found the note above on her windshield. This is not the first time she was hit on by men twice her age. Seriously WTH??? It’s creepy and I find myself scared when she goes out. She didn’t see this guy, but he was watching her. What is it about her that attracts these kind of people? Will this change after the reduction surgery? Is it her personality?

She just got back from Chicago yesterday. She went with a friend, a last hurrah so to say before her friend leaves for college. She seemed almost manic when she got back. She told my daughter Angel and I stories of her time away. She said she went clubbing by herself, underage, and was served alcohol. She took an Uber alone at night in a city she is unaccustomed to. She met some new friends. It was unsafe and crazy for her to do this. But she is crazy. She no longer self-harms but she does dangerous things that you or I wouldn’t think of doing.

She told the stories. She showed the pictures of herself drinking at clubs. She loves the attention and chaos it brings when we told her that it wasn’t safe. It was really upsetting to me. I find it hard not to worry when I have a teenage daughter that does crap like this. Would you want your 18 year old daughter to go out to clubs at night by herself in a major city she is not familiar with that has a high homicide rate? Not to mention trafficking.

Then last night she dropped a bomb on us. She told my husband that she thought Jesus was gay. He was offended and it created an argument within our house. All of my kids got involved in the argument in some way. I want a peaceful house. I hate it when people are fighting and crying. But at the end, I was really upset with Arabella because she created chaos within my house. She knew her comment would create conflict. She lives for attention. If things are peaceful and everyone is getting along, it bores her. My mom and niece Gracie are the same way. I try to not let their actions worry or create a rise in me but they do. They need constant attention and when they don’t get it they create chaos. I hate it and want nothing more than to live a quiet and peaceful life.

Then Arabella decided to clean her room in the middle of the night. Our bedroom is right off the kitchen and I heard her throwing stuff in the garbage and getting ice for her water bottle. She was scheduled to work in the morning so I was upset that she wasn’t getting enough sleep. Plus she woke me up and I laid in bed awake for an hour and a half. It’s upsetting when she makes poor choices and there is nothing I can do about it. I have to remind myself how thankful I am that she is alive.

On a good note. I am pretty much ready for the graduation party tomorrow. I got more cancellations because of the Delta variant. It’s frustrating because I already spent a small fortune on food and drinks. I am hoping the party goes well and that I will be feeling a lot less stress after tomorrow. We’ll see…

Now snakes too!

I am hosting a grad party for Arabella this weekend in two days. Two days! I just spent the morning cleaning the house and spent 5 hours this week weeding. I think there is going to be a point where it is just going to have to be good enough. That’s the thing about weeding. Everyone notices if you don’t do it but no one really realizes how tedious of a chore it is if you do.

I’m feeling a little stressed about the party. All of my closest friends will not be able to attend. My best friend has the funeral of her uncle/godfather out of town. Most of the other people that are coming haven’t seen my daughter since before COVID. So in other words, before she really started to struggle with mental health issues.

There are two questions I am dreading. The first one is why isn’t your dad at the party. I can only hope no one notices since he wasn’t the most involved before. I am sure I am going to have at least one person ask me that though. I’m not much of a liar. Perhaps I should say that my dad is a pedophile and was not invited. Maybe I should just say that he is sick. But then they might think he has COVID since I’ve been having a lot of questions about that as well. What are my chances of getting the Delta variant if I come to the party? Will there be any of those unvaccinated people there? Really, how should I know who is vaccinated or not?? I’m not going to be checking vaccine cards at the door. I told those people to make whatever choice they feel most comfortable with.

The second question might even be harder. Arabella has extensive cutting scars on her arm. Almost everyone coming has not seen her since before COVID meaning that they are not used to seeing her wounds. Now she could cover her arms but she probably won’t. She recently got a semicolon tattoo on her wrist. It’s really quite moving that she wants to be authentic and remove the stigma of keeping mental health issues and suicide attempts hush hush. She can’t undo the scars. Is she supposed to spend the rest of her life covering it up? She is not ashamed of her struggles, but her arms are a painful reminder of what she and all of us went through. I have mixed feelings about whether she should cover them or not but it is not my decision to make. I should probably warn her about comments though.

I’m sure I will get questions about it that I don’t want to answer. I can pretty much guarantee that my niece Gracie will say something blunt and rude. Right now I am happy that my daughter is still alive. But I am afraid of the comments she might get because her arms are really shocking. She also cut up her legs but you can’t really see that unless she wears a swimming suit. Plus she grew a couple more cups sizes since residential so her appearance is very attention grabbing.

Also, today my mom is getting a heart monitor. Her anxiety medicine is giving her tachycardia so she has to wear the monitor for 2 weeks. She is going to love all the attention she gets at the party. Tomorrow is her birthday and she wants us to take her sailing. I thought having the party the weekend of her birthday would be a good opportunity to get together with my brothers for her birthday. But the only brother able to go is Matt and he is disabled and has a hard time getting around. My mom is also afraid of water but she wants to go. It is supposed to rain and she can’t get the heart monitor wet. We’ll see how it all goes. It really couldn’t be worse timing since I have so much to do for the party.

I really hope the party goes well. I am a little worried about it. Well, I better get back outside to do more weeding. It’s kind of funny because yesterday after weeding my husband saw a rather large snake by a bush I just put my hands under to grab weeds. As if I don’t have enough to worry about. Now snakes!!

Residential waiting list

We received the call that Arabella’s name came up on the waiting list for the DBT residential program for adolescent girls. We had less than a week to get everything together. She had to be there within a certain time period or she would lose her place. This was her last opportunity since they said she could not be there after turning 18. She was less than 3 months until 18 which meant by the time she came up on the waiting list again, she would be too old for the program.

She abruptly ended her time with the outpatient program that she was in for 2 months. I had to switch a dentist appointment around last minute. Thankfully they were able to sneak her in earlier with short notice. The residential program needed her dental records. We ended up getting all of the paperwork together and appointments done as soon as we possibly could. It was months of wait, wait, wait then boom hurry as fast as you could to get everything together. Plus I had to work with the insurance company which was pretty much a waste of my time. We ended up paying for everything out of pocket which wasn’t cheap. We emptied Arabella’s college fund. She wasn’t interested in college anyway. Without residential we honestly didn’t know if she would live that long anyway. This was our last ditch effort to save her life.

To make matters far more stressful, we also had a COVID scare within that time period. My daughter Angel’s boyfriend Dan tested positive then my daughter got sick with COVID as well. Once we found out he was sick, my daughter stayed with him at his parent’s house and didn’t come back home until she was better. It was a matter of life and death. If Arabella couldn’t go into the program because of a positive test I feared she would die. It was horrible and terrifying. FYI admitting your child into an inpatient, outpatient, or residential program is stressful and crappy as it is without the extra stress.

They ask questions such as how many suicide attempts have you made and when was the last one. My daughter answered that many times she cut herself so deeply that she was hoping not to wake up in the morning. They ask so many disturbing personal questions that no parent wants to hear the answer to. I suffered greatly the first time I saw the cutting on her arm. I had nightmares for days when I could sleep that is. It was very traumatic for me.

Thankfully Arabella’s COVID test came back negative and we all remained healthy at our house. I do think that the residential program has helped Arabella tremendously learn the skills that are needed to live a healthy and productive emotionally regulated life. We, as her parents, worked very closely with her therapist and the psychiatrist. We received a DBT parent workbook and listened to podcasts. It didn’t cure her. She is still taking plenty of medications. It was a very rewarding experience except for the cost. But as the saying goes…you get what you pay for.

Arabella was in the residential program for a little over 2 months. I’ve noticed a lot of improvements since she got back. It was worth it to give her a second chance at life. Now it is up to her what happens next. We did everything we could.

Making amends

A couple of weeks before Arabella made it on the waiting list for residential, she started to make amends with friends and family.

I received a text from Jordan’s mom saying that she wanted us to come pick up a big box of Arabella’s stuff from when she was living there. Jordan and Arabella were no longer friends. When we went there to pick up her things, Arabella wanted to sit down and have a conversation with Jordan’s mom. She wanted to know how she could make things right and be friends with Jordan again. It really was uncomfortable.

Arabella also wanted to get along with her brother. She bought him a monster and some candy and asked if they could talk sometime. It was really touching that she wanted to make an effort to renew most of her troubled relationships. But it was also scary. Was she saying good-bye because she was going to be leaving soon to go to residential? Or was she once again planning on ending her life?

I can’t really remember but I think she gave away some of her things. That struck a resounding chord of fear in me. What kind of good-bye was this going to be? I couldn’t help be feel anxious about it.

But then I remembered that she gave me back her pills that she was stockpiling. She also put a lot of effort into finishing her high school diploma. Would she do that if she was planning on ending her life. I justified her actions to quiet my fears.

She did work really hard to make amends with family and friends before she left. I’m really not even sure why. I guess she just wanted to leave on a good note. Maybe she just didn’t want us to forget about her while she was gone. More than anything, I’m glad it wasn’t anything I was worried it could be.