Laugh a little, love a lot

“Someone else’s opinion if you is none of your business”. – Rachel Hollis

Wow. I can’t begin to tell you how much that quote that resonated with me, but I’m going to try.

It’s no secret that I have social anxiety. I think that must seem really strange considering how open I am online, but it’s true. In real life, I feel awkward. I get nervous and I stumble over my words. Here, though? This is my comfort zone. My soft place to land. While I sometimes regret how much I choose to share, written words come so much more easily for me than face to face conversations. I can put more thought into what I’m saying. I can hit backspace. I can erase the messy bits.

Part of my social anxiety stems from my insecurities about what people think of me. Their opinion of me- all of me. Are they noticing my messy eyebrows, my bitten fingernails, the gaps in my teeth? Are they judging my clothing or the way I laugh, too loud, too boisterous? “Someone else’s opinion of you, is none of your business”. How freeing is that?

You see, the truth is, there are people out there who don’t like me, and there are people out there who love me to bits. Guess which ones I focus on when I’m feeling insecure and I’m second guessing myself? And I know I’m not alone.

I follow Emmy Rosssum on Instagram. Tiny, perfect, Emmy Rossum. Today her IG story was about how she sometimes googles “what does (insert celebrity) weigh, and how the comments make her stress about her weight, stress about her body. Then she posted a pic of herself with some of her positive qualities written on it, with the implication that those attributes make up who she is, she’s more than a number on the scale. Other people’s opinions about her bring out her insecurities.

There is freedom in not even allowing yourself to consider what other people think because what they think has no bearing on who you are.

I’m a mother. A proud mother. My kids fill me with so much pride. Yesterday I was stalking my 17 year old’s twitter and I saw a post she made where she said, “this is why my mom is my best friend.” No one’s opinion matters more than those of my babies. Why have I wasted my time worrying?

I’m a lover. Of animals, nature, the great outdoors. I’m compassionate. I have a big heart. I am a Christian. One who tries to love and live like Christ did. I may not always be successful, but when I’m not, my opinion of myself weighs far more than someone else’s opinion of me.

I’m a work in progress, just like you.

The Day You Start Moving On

It’s funny how sometimes you have no idea what you need until it’s happening.  You can have weeks of sadness, confusion, lack of direction and then suddenly something shifts.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Today Dad and I met with the hospice social worker and the chaplain.  It was our first meeting with them, an opportunity to learn who they are and what services they offered and also an opportunity for them to learn about us.  How they could help.  After speaking with Dad, the chaplain turned to me and said, “As a caregiver, who is available for you to turn to for emotional support?”  I hesitated, laughed, and said the first person who popped into my mind.  My not quite ex-husband.

Yesterday my ex and I went riding.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here.  The days a little cooler.  The humidity a little less oppressive.  I had no idea how much I needed to be outdoors.  When Thomas asked if I wanted to go ride quads, I didn’t even hesitate.  I followed him down a new to me path and found myself riding through a postcard.

A train used to pass through the countryside here.  I have no idea how long ago.   These days, the tracks have been removed and what is left behind is a path through one of the most beautiful scenes that I have ever seen.  I knew they existed- part of them run right behind our house and I used to hit them almost daily when I was trying to run some of the energy out of two seventy pound dogs.  They pass through the woods, through streams where the dogs love to swim.  Through dirt roads surrounded by corn fields and soybeans.  Sometimes I sit and watch the farm equipment as it moves up and down the rows and I can’t even believe how beautiful this world can be.  I had no idea there were miles and miles of path that I didn’t know existed.  Paths full of trees and shade and dappled sunlight.

I know it’s weird that we were riding together.  I mean recent events haven’t exactly been great, but life goes on.  I needed fresh air, sunshine and the peace of mind that I can only seem to find when the wind is rushing by.  I didn’t go with any expectations or even really any thought other than I needed to be outside and I don’t like to ride alone.  I didn’t go for closure, yet that’s what I found.

So my quad doesn’t have the greatest brakes ever.  Going down any kind of steep hill requires the abandon of all sense of caution and prayer.  I was following Thomas and at one point I managed to find myself stuck on the edge of a rock, leaning to one side and afraid to move because I just knew that if I managed to get myself off that rock without turning over, I was going to be praying pretty hard for brakes on the way down.  In reality, I probably wasn’t in any danger of flipping, I just like to feel all four tires firmly on the ground at all times…  Thomas turned around to see where I was.  The sight of me frozen, eyes like saucers, not even daring to breathe was apparently super funny.  A minute later we were both laughing, I trusted him when he said I could make it down and I took a leap of faith.  There was a lot of screaming (me) and laughing (both of us) but I made it down.  It turns out that not all of our trust was shattered.

Then I got sad.

I started wondering why our marriage could never work.  I watched him riding ahead of me.  Both of us in our element.  Both of us having fun.  Together.  I could ride behind him for days, just enjoying the trees, the adventure, close enough to nature that I can reach out and touch it.  I had to work my way through why that could never happen in order to get to what can.

I don’t know what is wrong with him.  I truly don’t.  I’ve diagnosed him.  I’ve said he’s his own worst enemy.  None of that really matters.  What matters is that when we are trying to be together, something switches off in him.  He’s not happy.  I’m not happy.   We are both always searching.  I just choose to focus my search on ideas, words, psychology, scriptures.  We both have our own band-aids.  The truth is, if we were together right now, we probably wouldn’t have been riding at all.  If we were, he probably would have been more annoyed than tickled when I got stuck.  I probably would have been anxious.  Instead, I was carefree.

We completely suck at being married, but we are usually really good at being friends.  Not that we didn’t almost manage to find a way to ruin that, too.  Me by thinking we could start over like the previous decade never existed.  Him by… well, always searching for band-aids.  Temporary fixes that don’t fix anything.

I don’t know how to explain how I can still be friends after everything that’s happened other than I just can.  It’s a choice I made.  There is not one thing about me that he doesn’t know.  There is nothing that I could ever think that I would be afraid to say out loud.  I need that.  When everything came out a couple weeks ago, that is what I was grieving.  Not my marriage.  My best friend.  We don’t usually mess that up.

I’m a huge believer in finding the lesson.  The day after “the big reveal”, I was devastated but I also knew that I was never going to stop wondering about my decisions regarding moving on or trying to stay in our marriage unless God basically hit me with a hammer.  The amount of guilt that I felt over Jace not having what he wanted- his parents together- was overwhelming.  The big reveal was God’s hammer and as much as it hurt, I was grateful to know that I wasn’t doing any of us any favors by trying to hold on.

No, everything isn’t just back like it was.  I’m a different person now.  I know that in time, Thomas and I are both going to have other people in our lives that fill that best friend role and honestly, I’m looking forward to that day.  I know someday there will be a man who wants nothing more than to ride through life beside me.  I hope that Thomas finds the person who heals his soul.  I hope that the four of us can share some of the best moments of our lives together.  Our children getting married.  Grandchildren being born.  I truly look forward to those days.

For once in our time together, I think we are both on the same page.

Trust Is a Luxury

People say that I forgive too easily.  That not everyone deserves forgiveness.  What they don’t know is my motives are selfish.  It’s just me, trying to breathe.

I grew up in chaos.  Anger.  Conflict.  I don’t know who I would have been if not for that.  Would I have battled depression?  Would I have battled my head?  Would I have spent my entire life trying to measure up?  The worst thing in the world is to know that you will never know what you might have been.

As an adult, I abhor conflict.  I hate it.  Typing the word fills me with anxiety.  I can’t bear it.

I wonder if everyone spends their life searching for that one elusive thing.  Mine isn’t happiness- I know and have known happiness.  My children fill my heart with more happiness than they will ever know.  I don’t even think that it’s love.  I’ve known that, too.  I never knew what love was until I held Will for the first time and knew that I would die for him, no questions asked.  Yes, I know and have known fierce, animalistic, unconditional love.  Three times over.  I think what I crave is safety.

I forgive because I can’t tolerate the alternative.  I forgive because I need forgiveness.  I forgive because I have to.  I just don’t forget.

 

 

 

Country Roads Take Me Home

Ebb and flow. Decline and regrowth.

I read an article yesterday from a woman who lost her child to drowning. She didn’t even turn her back. She was just living her life and in the blink of an eye, her child slipped outside and was gone before she could find her. That’s how water is. Necessary for life but dark and deceitful. A hidden storm. Decline and regrowth.

This week Dad met with a new oncologist for a second opinion. Today we talked to hospice. The entire world feels prickly.

Dad can’t bear to die because he can’t envision any world that doesn’t have Mom in it. My faith tells me there is a paradise but Dad sees a desert. Tension is causing us both to lash out. Not one moment of this is easy.

I don’t know how to help anyone. I feel unprepared and helpless. Restless. I’m just over here swimming. Trying to break the surface.

In my home there has been a partial truce. Thank God. I don’t have the energy to be at war. I have learned something about being so open, though. You can share your story with the world but you must be prepared to have it used against you. For someone looking to hurt me, I’ve handed them the book. I’m not sure what I would change, though. Now is not the time to stop being me.

I’m adrift.

I wear my heart on my sleeve.

The High, The Hurt, The Shine, The Sting

Depression is like the ocean.  A riptide.  Dangerous currents that want to drag you under even when you can still see the shore.  That shore may be within swimming distance but it might as well be in another world.  That’s what depression is.

A couple weeks ago, we saw suicide hit the news again and I thought about blogging then.  It’s a subject that’s always close to me.  It’s my lifelong companion.  My truest friend.  I used to blog about funny things, though.  I used to be funny.  I didn’t want to blog sadness anymore.  I wanted to make you laugh.  So I didn’t blog.

I guess one thing that my children may never know is the hardest thing I have ever done is stay alive for them.  They have seen me work, sometimes more than one job at a time.  They have seen me prepare meals, wash their clothes, run around trying to find what they’ve lost.  They’ve seen me mourn, they’ve seen me struggle, they’ve seen me tired.

They’ve never seen me stare at a bottle of pills.  They’ve never seen me daydream about turning the wheel when I’m driving alone and the perfect drop off appears.  They don’t know that in my mind there is such a thing as the perfect drop off.

I don’t want to be this person.

I want to be happy.

I want to be carefree.

My happiest moments are with my babies.   But they are growing up.

My mom can no longer carry on a conversation with me.  My dad is dying.

I’m just so tired.

My ex and I briefly tried to get back together.  See, things were confusing.  It’s hard when that person is still your best friend, or supposed to be.  He was telling someone else everything he was telling me.  He was scheduling vacations and applying for jobs 1,000 miles away.  He was promising to move if only she would stay.  He was making plans that would effect our children and I was sitting here blindly letting our child think we were becoming a family again.

I don’t think that I can forgive myself for that.  I should have known better.

He will be so mad at me for saying that.  He never wanted me to air the dirty laundry.  I didn’t want to either but our reasons were different.  I wanted to be mature and also, I was embarrassed.  He didn’t want dark actions brought to light.

Depression is a black cloud.  It’s a swarm of bees.  It’s loud.  It gets in your ear and it just. won’t. stop.  It tells you that this is it.  This is all it will ever be.  You, always chasing things that fly away.   You, getting the courage to leave and those little mosquitos coming back for another round of blood.  You being everything.  The ripest peach that they can’t stop taking bites of and the bruised one that is no longer appealing.

Depression tells you that it’s okay if you finally just go to sleep.

What I really wanted to blog when suicide hit the news was different then.  I kept reading comments about how suicide is selfish.  I kept thinking that survivors were reading that and they were reading painful lies.

I’ll say again what I said before.  My children will never know that the hardest thing I have ever done for them is stay alive.

If someone you love lost their battle, that decision was gut wrenching and agonizing and not fully thought out.  That decision was coated in a dust of grief and pain and disillusion.  That decision would not have stood up in a court of law.  That decision was breathless.  That decision might have been a weakness but I can promise you that it was one out of a million moments of inhuman strength.

I added a new medication to my regimen in hopes of getting my fibromyalgia under control.  In doing so, I have noticed the suicidal thoughts creeping back in after months of sitting in the light.  I will be diligent in having my meds adjusted again until I’m back in my sweet spot.  I will do it for my kids.  I only wish that I was doing it for me.

“Depression is living in a body that fights to survive with a mind that tries to die.”  — unknown

Depression is your friendly, funny, 40 something soccer mom who loves Pinterest and Krogering.

Depression is someone just like me.

 

Just a No-Bake Cookie Failure

I just inhaled three no-bake cookies that I had to scrape off the waxed paper with a spoon but I know you aren’t judging me.  You get it.

I typed those two sentences nineteen times because my 10 year old is staring at me talking about megalodons and hunks of meat.  Honestly, this isn’t even weird.

gray and blue dinosaure ffigurines
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The list of things that I can’t cook is very small. Sitting here now, I’m realizing that really the only things that I can’t cook are things that require patience.  The patience to watch things boil, to time it just right so that everything sets and melds and does whatever it’s supposed to do to turn out perfectly.  I didn’t get that gene.  I got the ‘you can always add enough butter, salt and bacon’ gene.  One gives you perfection and the other gives you something that’s a little bit different every time you eat it, but it’s always good.

Speaking of patience, lately I feel like the little bit that I did have is going fast.  I’m tired and more than being tired, I just don’t feel appreciated like basically every mother who ever mothered.  I’m exhausted.

Dad was in the hospital for over a week and he came home the day before the 4th of July.  On the 4th, I had a military retirement party for my ex.  Yes, I’ll go ahead and repeat that.  On the 4th, I had a military retirement party for my ex.  Moving on, that day I don’t think I sat down all day long.  I was tired- physically and mentally.  I was flaring and in pain- because fibromyalgia is like your least favorite relative who consistently visits at the worst possible time.  I was stressed- because… life.  But throughout the day, I was also the only one who could consistently be found, in the kitchen, just plodding away, getting it done.  It seemed like every time I looked for someone to ask them to do something, they were lying in bed.  I found myself wondering what I always wonder when I feel overworked and underpaid.  What would happen if I just laid down?

We know the answer to that, right?  I mean for starters, none of our guests would have been eating when they got here…

Moms, well women, keep the world turning.  We are the taxis, the nurses, the makers of makeshift critter enclosures.  We are the nurturers, the caregivers, the chicken soup makers.  We are the hunters and gatherers of backpacks, shin guards, lost permission slips…

We are supposed to do all of this without losing our shit.  When we repeat the same request 47 times and become unglued on the 48th repetition, they look at us like we are crazy and knocking on menopause’s door.  We are supposed to manage the home, a career, the children, the aging parents, the extracurriculars, the bills and keep track of everyone’s everything so we can recall at a moment’s notice where you left your keys and we are supposed to do this with a pleasant disposition and a smile and no need to nap.

You really are the reason we drink.  Those Mother’s Day liquor store jokes aren’t really jokes.

Even though we do all of this and manage to keep everyone alive, clothed and mostly intact, for some reason, we are also masters of guilt.  Somedays we love every single moment of wiping noses, digging under the front seat for that super important Pokémon card that has turned up missing and cooking dinner that doesn’t get eaten because today you are a yogurtatarian.  Other days, we don’t.  We want to go on a week long vacation, BY OURSELVES, to a place where no one asks us for one mother-bleeping thing, where we can either sit by a pool guzzling fruity drinks until we forget we even have children, or lie in bed binge watching Netflix until check out time, as long as no one makes that decision but us.  And we feel guilty for wanting that.

I literally think women are broken.

On the 4th, I listened to my ex and my teenager do their typical, “Mom is so dramatic” schtick.  “I was just lying down for a minute, and Mom came in there about to have a breakdown.”  I take care of everyone.  Everyone.  Even my ex.  Who takes care of me?

That’s the lesson here, Ladies.  I take care of me.  I do.

STOP.  FEELING.  GUILTY.

Take the nap.  Take the trip.  Eat the no-bake cookies with a spoon because they taste just as good that way.  If stuff doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done.  No one will die but maybe they will see how much Mom does to give them this life.  Maybe more than seeing how much Mom does they might actually see how much of us we give away.  We do it because we love them but we don’t have to be martyrs.  I need this lesson, too.

Let little Billy find his own Pokémon cards, but keep on kissing the boo-boos.