Gratitude week 63

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

Thinking about personality

One of the first things the residential facility wanted us to do as parents was to take a free 16 personalities personality test. I got the same results as I always do. There was also an extra personality subtype designated as an A or a T. The A is for Assertive. These are the kind of people that know what they want. The other type was T for Turbulent. These people tend to be a lot more indecisive. I don’t know about you, but I think being labeled turbulent has a rather negative connotation. But anyway, since I am not a T what do I care?

It was no surprise to me that I am an ISTJ-A. Yes, a confident introvert. My husband was under the misconception that all introverts lack confidence because they don’t speak up. Then he bought a book about introverts and learned what all introverts already know which is that a lot of introverts are not introverts because they lack confidence. For the most part I don’t really care what people think so why would I waste my time talking.

What did surprise me is that I am now more introverted and less of a thinker since last time I took the test. I used to be a strong TJ and now I am strongly IJ which is a little scary. Why am I less of a thinker and more introverted? Has the pandemic changed me? Do I seek out thinking less because I don’t know what to think or believe anymore since free thinking appears to be frowned upon in our society as of late? With the pandemic I am spending gobs more time alone and guess what? I kind of like it.

One thing is consistent for sure. I am still a strong J. My life is comprised of rules, structure, order, tasks, and routine. I’ll have you know that when I say rules, I mean MY rules. I hate being told what to do. But I am super anal with my rules. For example, it really bugs me when people leave lights on in rooms they are not in. My husband will shoot holes in my beliefs because he asks me how much electricity do I think it takes to run my hot tub. If I really cared, I would care about that more than if he left a light on or not. But like always, I totally dismiss his criticism because it does not align with my anal set of rules.

But let’s talk about my husband. He is an ENTJ-A a.k.a. the confident commander. He is all structure, tasks, leadership, and efficiency. Yikes! Between the two of us, we are probably the least sensitive parents out there. We are all honesty and truth. Sometimes the truth hurts. But neither one of us gets hurt easily. Instead we get angry and upset with each other if we are not on the same page. Thankfully most of the time we are.

One other thing that is strongly engrained in my personality type is avoiding of all conflict. This causes pain for me because my honesty and truth creates incongruency within me with my strong desire to avoid conflict. Sometimes in order to avoid conflict I am not honest with other people. I feel this way a lot with my mom. I want to be honest with her about some things but she is very sensitive and I know it will hurt her and cause conflict between us. I could be as peace loving as a hippie but even they would kick me out of their group because I am much too anxious and anal which apparently is not as fun as I thought it was.

My daughter Arabella took the personality test in residential and it was no surprise to me that she is an ENFP-T. What does this mean?? It means that her personality is the exact opposite of mine. To go even further, her personality mirrors mine in the percentages of each trait. She is as extroverted as I am introverted. I am an extreme J (96%), and she is an extreme P (98%). She is a social butterfly, spontaneous, carefree, fun loving, hates rules and structure, and is ready to go anywhere the wind blows her. I mean, how is that even fair? I need to parent a child that does not respond well to my personality style. It’s not much better with Paul.

We are all order, tasks, and structure. In her mind things start when she gets there. There is no having to be up at a certain time in her world. We are not very sensitive to her whims of emotion. If you have to be there at a certain time, you have to be there. I share a lot of personality traits with my oldest two children, but Arabella is alien to me. I am hoping that this knowledge will help us somehow bridge the chasm between us. How do you parent a free spirit when we as parents are all tasks and structure even the military would be envious of? I am hoping to find out.

I wish I knew a lot of these things sooner. Both Paul and I lacked healthy parenting role models. We did the best with what we were working with and from where we came from. Since I am all rules and structure, I have learned that not a lot of people are as anal as I am or are anal in the same ways. I have this mindfulness. Even though I think I have the right way, I can understand that other people do not follow this right way. What a shame, really. LOL!!

As a rule, I tend to put people in boxes. My best friend is spontaneous and carefree which is a great balance. However, sometimes I get irritated with her because while I spend a lot of time planning events she is very last minute and changes everything. Instead of getting annoyed, I put her in the spontaneous box. If this is a pattern of behavior for her it makes it easier for me to understand and deal with it if I understand that.

I also put my mom in an anxious/irrational box. When she acts in ways that are counterintuitive to reason I can understand without getting worked up. For instance, I had a really hard time with her not wanting to leave my dad after he broke the law. Instead he became the love of her life. This is not rational or sane. Instead of letting it drive me absolutely crazy, I put her in the irrational box. It helped me to deal with her better within the constraints of my personality. It became her rule and routine.

Well, I am done thinking for today.

Who are you?

Arabella changed into a whole different person a year ago. It seemed like the difference between night and day to us. Or maybe that is when we noticed because she became so different from us.

It’s not terribly strange to have a teenager rebel or espouse things independent of their parents. In a way, I almost think it is necessary in developing who they are. In order to find themselves they have to lose mom and dad a little. But this seemed different.

Before the change Arabella was pretty easy going. She went with the flow. There was little conflict and she rarely challenged us. Kind of like the month of March, she came into the world like a lion so I was hoping she would leave childhood as a lamb. Not so, my friends.

Before she was the teen involved in church. She liked volunteering at Bible camp, helping with the kids program, and singing in church. Then practically overnight she became an atheist and slept in on Sunday mornings. At times I was afraid to go to church because I was afraid if I wasn’t there she might make an attempt again. She scoffed at our religious beliefs. We no longer shared the same views on politics either. It didn’t seem as if she was finding her own way as much as it seemed like she was rejecting us.

She didn’t want anything to do with Estelle and cut herself off from all of the kids she once considered friends at her new school. She started hanging out with her friends from her old school. Instead of being a foreign exchange student with Estelle, she wanted to finish high school at her old school which was only 30 minutes away. We said we were okay with that because she seemed so miserable at the new school.

She started hanging out with her old best friend who became transgender around that time. Actually all of the kids in that group were either gay or transgender. They all seemed to have issues with their identity and also suffered from depression. I really had a hard time understanding what they were going through. In my day, I don’t remember a single kid that came out as gay and changing your gender was something most likely featured in sci-fi movies. I went to a small town school where there was very little diversity.

I knew about her friend’s being gay or transgender before their parents even did in most cases. I called them by their chosen names and pronouns. I’m not going to say it was easy. I still can’t get it out of my mind that calling someone them or they isn’t rude. It was difficult to call someone I knew as a baby a different name and pronoun. But I imagine it was a lot more difficult for them and their parents. I couldn’t help but wonder if my daughter was hiding something from me like her friends were from their parents.

Our first family session

We had our first family session yesterday for our daughter’s residential treatment program without our daughter. We were able to meet her therapist online whom we all really like.

I told the therapist about everything that happened with my dad. I told her that my oldest daughter Angel found child porn on his computer and turned him into the police a couple of weeks before Christmas. I told her how I was devastated by the news. But I had to put on a happy face because we had two foreign exchange students and I wanted nothing more than to give them the perfect American Christmas. I didn’t tell my daughter Arabella about my dad either. Childhood is sacred to me and I wanted to keep it that way for her.

In essence, I was the one that pushed Arabella away. I told her everything was okay but she could tell it was not. Then there was that day when I was in hypervigilant PTSD mode. She came up behind me to give me a hug. I didn’t know she was there and freaked out when she touched me. I screamed at her to get away from me. Later I tried to explain things, it wasn’t her it was me. I still didn’t tell her what was wrong and she still felt rejected.

Not long after that she accused Estelle of stealing all of her friends away. She just didn’t fit in. Estelle was this super cute petite popular French girl with a vivacious lust for life. Arabella was the strange, klutzy, overweight, socially awkward, friendly girl with a good heart. She couldn’t compete.

When we sold our business a couple years back, we bought my dream house complete with an indoor pool. I would’ve killed to have the life we have given her. She, though, wanted to kill herself. She started going to a new school her sophomore year. Arabella wanted to give it a try. She was always my kid that embraced change, adventures, and new experiences. She was very adaptable. But the school was very cliquey and she didn’t fit in. Her junior year we brought in two foreign exchange students. We thought it would make it easier for her, but it didn’t in the end. Instead she felt rejected by me and her peers.

When she started to experience depression, I asked her what she had to be depressed about. After all, I’d given her the perfect life. She didn’t have to live with a greasy pedophile dad. A mom who stayed with him so she didn’t have to be alone. She didn’t have to live with an autistic/schizophrenic brother who heard voices to kill pretty much everyone I was close to in my life plus countless random strangers. She didn’t have to deal with having a lazy ass dad who was barely employed. She didn’t have to live in a filthy hoarding house that no one feels comfortable in. I could probably go on…………but won’t. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you probably got the picture.

I simply just wanted my kids to be kids. I wanted to protect them from the chaos and insanity that ruled my life as a child that somehow has a way of still spilling into my adult life. I was very upset that what I had worked hard to give her wasn’t good enough. She should be happy. She didn’t have any reason not to be, except….well…..genetics.

Admitting questions

When my daughter was admitted into residential they asked her a lot of questions. One of them was if anyone she knew committed suicide. She said ‘yes’.

It brings us back to a year and a couple days ago. A friend from our theatre group decided to end his life. I had known him a couple of years by that time. Since I’d known him he was in dialysis. He even had a kidney transplant that failed before I met him. Every week he would go to dialysis for 30 hours. He couldn’t work. He lived by himself. He didn’t have a girlfriend, wife, kids, or barely any family. He didn’t have much of a support system from what I saw.

He wasn’t good looking. He wasn’t popular. Most people thought he was weird. He was kind, but I got the impression that most people didn’t really like him. He wasn’t even a good actor. He never got any good parts.

One day he posted on Facebook that he was trying to find a good home for his pets because he decided to discontinue dialysis. Some people tried to talk him out of it. Others tried to convert him because he didn’t have faith in any God or creed. I have to pose the question if it really was suicide. Technically, I suppose it was because he decided to discontinue the treatment that was keeping him alive.

I know he was suffering greatly. He had lost hope. There wasn’t a cure just spending the rest of his life tied to a dialysis machine. Could anyone blame him for his decision? Maybe I would’ve chosen the same thing if I was in his situation. But who really wants to think about that? We just want to judge. As an adult I can understand and reason. But maybe the young folks in the theatre who didn’t fully understand his suffering might think that suicide is a good solution for dealing with pain.

I felt sorry for the man and about the situation he found himself in. He passed away right before the lock down started. Because of COVID we didn’t even have the chance to say good-bye. His funeral was cancelled. In most respects, he was forgotten until a couple days ago when he was remembered as the man that committed suicide.

I seem to find myself in a moral dilemma. Is suicide okay in some scenarios and not others? What about emotional pain and suffering? I have a friend that decided to stop Chemo because it greatly affects her quality of life. Is it okay to discontinue life extending treatment if the quality of life it gives you is horrible? We are not going to escape this life alive.

Are we going to cut off the elderly from our lives because they could die of COVID? Just for them to die in a nursing home alone without their family. Is it worth it? We are making those level of decisions right now. Is the emotional pain of being separated from loved ones worth an extra year of life?

I would have to say that the answer to these questions should come down to individual choice. I don’t have to agree with it. But as far as my family is concerned I would like to have some say.

Gratitude week 62

  1. My daughter Arabella was admitted into a residential care facility and we are doing the best we can to get her the help she needs.
  2. I’m grateful for warm spring weather and sunny days. It makes me feel so much better even if there is still snow on the ground.
  3. I’m grateful to hear the birds chirp in the morning which is another sign of spring.
  4. I’m grateful to be able to see wildlife in my yard this week including birds, deer, and a red fox. I’ve never seen a fox in our yard in broad daylight. I was a little paranoid that as a nocturnal creature it might be rabid or something. But apparently after doing some research found out it wasn’t too unusual to see foxes during the day in spring.
  5. I’m grateful to be feeling healthy.
  6. I’m grateful that my daughter Angel had a mild case of COVID. Her boyfriend is finally starting to feel better today. It’s frustrating because if anyone is super careful about COVID as young folks they are. They don’t take any unnecessary risks. Then they got sick. There was a COVID outbreak where Dan works.
  7. I’m grateful to be able to visit my mom and go for a walk with her this afternoon.
  8. Although I feel helpless about Angel and Dan and his mom being sick, I’m grateful that I was able to help them out by dropping off medicine and other things they needed after being quarantined a week.
  9. I’m grateful that I cleaned out my daughter Arabella’s room. It makes me feel better. Even though she didn’t mind, I couldn’t leave it messy.
  10. I finished a really hard puzzle I have been working on the last couple of weeks. It makes me feel good when all of the pieces finally come together. Now if only that could happen in real life. Right?

Feeling tested

The last time we talked I told you that my daughter Arabella was admitted into a residential mental health treatment facility. What I didn’t tell you was that at the same time my other daughter Angel most likely had COVID.

Last weekend I briefly saw Angel’s boyfriend Dan. We were close to each other for a few minutes while I opened the sliding door we all walked out of. I was in close contact with my daughter Angel who was in close contact with her boyfriend Dan. Are you following me yet?

The next day Angel goes to Dan’s house. While she is there he develops a fever. She decides not to come home. The next day Dan has an instant test and tests positive for COVID.

To make matters more complicated, my mom stopped by with my brother Matt on Saturday. My mom and Matt both received all of their COVID vaccinations. Because of COVID, I have not seen my brother Matt since last June when my mom had a medical emergency and I needed to take him back to his group home. Once he returned to his group home, he couldn’t go back home until fully vaccinated. My brother Matt has not seen my daughter Angel or her boyfriend since Christmas of 2019 again thanks to COVID. After the visit, before we found out Dan was sick, my mom took Matt back to his group home. My mom and brother were not in close contact with us but they did give everyone hugs including Dan.

Monday morning Dan has an instant COVID test and tests positive. He gets really sick. His mother gets sick. My daughter Angel gets sick. So far his father is fine.

What am I to do? My daughter was scheduled to be admitted into residential care. This was her last chance to get into a great adolescent program. She will be an adult in 2 months and they said if she didn’t fill the bed she would lose the opportunity. She had to wait 3 months to get in.

I decided to call the COVID hotline. Not only was it a bad connection, but it was useless conversation. She told me that my situation was really unusual and complicated and that I would be better off calling my doctor or going on the CDC website. My husband and I fought over what to do next. We don’t see eye to eye on COVID. Words were said that weren’t meant.

Meanwhile, my mom’s COVID anxiety ramped up again. She called the group home, program, and case managers. Two of the people told her that Matt should be okay since he had both shots. What more could she do beyond that? Is he never allowed to see family again after everything was done in her power to prevent him from getting sick? Two of the people my mom contacted chewed her out. They said how irresponsible she was. One of them even told Matt he wasn’t going to be allowed home again which caused him distress. My mom was beside herself with worry about Matt. I tried to calm her down but I was worried myself about the ones who were already sick and what would happen next.

I was worried that my brief exposure to Dan would be enough to get me sick and then I would get Arabella sick and then she wouldn’t be able to go into residential. Or Arabella would get sick alone and spread it on to others in a hospital setting. A few days after Dan got sick, Angel got sick too. She got sick several days after I saw her last. I felt pretty confident that I didn’t get exposed from her. I felt iffy about Dan though. I did see him although we weren’t in close contact for very long at all. According to the CDC website I don’t think what we had was considered close contact but I still wasn’t sure because I saw him right before he got sick. But who knows? It’s not like I was keeping track of how far apart we were or how long he was in the room.

Thankfully I had Arabella tested for COVID right before she was admitted and it came back negative. Now it has been several days since I saw her and I still feel fine. I take my temperature everyday and I have been laying low. Everyone has been telling me I have to stop worrying about it and trust God. I’m trying but this has been really stressful. To be honest, trust wasn’t my first instinct. I felt angry. Of all times, why does this have to happen right now??

The first time my mom takes Matt out of the group home he gets exposed. Why God? Why? I sometimes wonder if my family is cursed. Arabella is healthy and everything ended up being alright. But still??!? It was horrible timing to go through a COVID scare. Plus I’ve been worried sick about Angel and Dan and his family. It’s hard knowing my daughter is sick and there is nothing I can do to help her. I’m feeling that way about both my daughters right now.

I ran over to Dan’s parents house today and dropped off some medicine, vitamins, and Gatorade. Angel is feeling a lot better already, but Dan is still pretty sick.

What a week! What a wreck it has made of me! I feel so tested.

Saying good-bye for now

It’s been a crazy busy week here. Yesterday Paul and I dropped our daughter Arabella off at a residential mental health facility. It was a bittersweet moment. I felt like a great weight had been lifted. This will be her best opportunity to get on the path of living a normal life. If I learned one thing, it’s never to take for granted your health mental or otherwise.

I spent the last couple of days getting Arabella ready to leave. She needed lab work at the doctor’s office, medication, a dental exam, and a COVID test. We also took her out to eat because she finished her high school curriculum. Then there was the process of packing and going through all of her clothes.

I wasn’t expecting to feel as sad as I did when we dropped her off. I had to fight off the tears at many moments and felt emotionally drained. I should be dropping my daughter off at college not at the psych ward of a mental hospital. It was very painful processing the can’t haves instead of the should bes.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, my daughter has an eating disorder. It’s not what you think. She is a binge eater and weighs somewhere around 270 lbs. With her money she buys massive amounts of candy, cookies, and sweets. I am worried about diabetes. She gained 13 lbs. in one month. She is at her highest weight.

My daughter is also a hoarder. She had piles and piles of clothes strewn all over her room. I helped her pack, hang up clothes in her closet, and start a get rid of pile. It took hours. In the process I found out that our cat has been peeing on the clothes in her room which created more laundry and garbage. It was so gross. She had the cat sleep with her at night so she didn’t feel alone which really wasn’t a problem until I found out he was using her room as a cat box. The hoarding, which I find so suffocating, comforts her. We overlooked some things (like keeping a clean room) in favor of promoting other things like graduating from high school and not killing herself.

Today I finished cleaning out her room. I took out three full garbage bags and three full recycling bags. It took half the day but it looks sparkling clean. She will absolutely hate it! In the process of cleaning I found a suicide note. Although I do miss her a lot already, I thought about how horrible it would’ve been to have to clean out her room for the last time if she went through with it. I know we are doing everything we can to help her get better. But I do wish she was at college. In a way it feels like she is. One month at a residential facility costs as much as a semester at my other daughter’s private college. I really hope it helps her.

Gratitude week 61

  1. It’s the last day of February and it feels like spring is coming.
  2. I enjoyed a spa day with my mom. Her COVID anxiety dropped drastically after the second dose of the shot.
  3. My daughter’s name finally came up on the waiting list for residential care.
  4. Arabella finished all of her high school coursework online and will be graduating on time! I’m grateful she has completed school before residential. I honestly didn’t think she would be able to pull it off, but she did. Yeah!!
  5. My daughter Angel achieved great success with her hobby business and her work will be displayed online with a popular brand.
  6. I’m grateful for a coffee date with my best friend.
  7. I’m grateful I was asked to give my testimonial for the wellness clinic. I thought maybe they just wanted me to write a little something. But they want to do a video of my success story. I think it’s pretty cool to have the opportunity to share my story.
  8. I’m grateful that my hard work paid off so I could have a success story to share.
  9. I’m grateful that my daughter Angel spent a couple days visiting at home. We watched some old movies while I worked on my puzzle.
  10. I’m grateful that my husband and son are on their way home after spending a couple days on their annual fishing trip with the guys.

The daughter

Romantic films have happy endings. In real life only the beginnings are happy and nothing ends well. But then, nothing really ends.

The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

I picked up the book The Daughter at the airport in Chicago as I was waiting for my flight. I brought a book with me but almost finished it on the long layover. I bought the book because it looked intriguing. I know, I know, one should never choose a book by its cover. I didn’t know the author. How risky!

The main character of this fictional book was a physician whose daughter went missing. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t. I’ll just tell you that I really liked it and think you would like it too. It struck some heavy chords such as if I wasn’t so busy at work I would’ve known something was wrong with my daughter.

Blame. It’s so easy to get into that trap as a parent. I’ve asked myself many of times what I did wrong. Maybe if I was paying more attention I would’ve known my daughter was depressed. Maybe she wouldn’t have tried to kill herself. Maybe she wouldn’t have mutilated her body so badly from cutting that she needs plastic surgery to look like she did before. But maybe, just maybe, I am part of the reason she is alive right now.

It’s hard not to blame yourself as a parent in the transition from everything’s normal to there is something really wrong. It’s easier to brush it off as a one off even though the patterns indicate it’s clearly not. We tend to trick ourselves into believing everything is fine and blame ourselves later when it’s obviously not.

At the end of the book I read the write up on the author. She is currently a full-time physician and mother of five. In her free time she went back to school to get a Master’s degree in writing and wrote a couple of books, one is a bestseller that I didn’t read yet. How impressive is that?? The author has a brilliant mind and it comes through in her writing. I loved the above quote from her book. Her quote pretty much sums up why I don’t like romance novels. Sometimes life is messy and things don’t work out in the end. I read a book a couple of months back that was a real mess but everything magically worked out in the end. I hated it because it offered false hope and not real life.

My favorite genre of books are psychological thrillers, mysteries, and dramas. I love reading self-help books too because who doesn’t want to fix themselves and everyone around them?!? I also love the classics, historical books, and survival stories fictional and non.

I don’t always want a happy ending. I want real characters and personable honest people. What are you really thinking and experiencing? I want problem upon problem. I want to know how people handle adversity. I don’t want things to magically work out in the end. I don’t know about you, but that is not how my life has been. I want to analyze how people deal with difficult circumstances. I want to know about the things you don’t want to tell anybody.

I finished my book that I was writing. It’s been over a year now. I even sent it off to test readers. But things changed. Since then I found out about the crime my dad committed. My daughter started struggling with serious mental health issues. I was no longer constrained to writing about my experiences as a sibling of someone with serious mental health issues. I could now write as a mother.

I am hoping to process everything I’ve experienced within the past year and write about it on my blog. From there I would like to incorporate it into the first edition of my book. To me it’s not all about happy endings, it’s about learning to live with what we have been given. There is beauty to be found in tragedy. That is where real stories of hope, courage, and inspiration lie.