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.

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.

Life Ain’t Always Beautiful

I’m the baby of five and eleven years separates me from the youngest of my siblings.  You can rest assured that I’ve been asked at least fifty-eleven times if I was a mistake.  The short answer is no.  Have you ever known me to stop with the short answer?  Okay, so you know that this time is no different and you know that I have a story to tell.

My grandfather, my Mom’s dad, was an electrician, and they moved around quite a bit.  When they lived in Kentucky though, they lived about a block and a half away from where my dad grew up.  My mom and my dad went to the same school during those years and walked the same sidewalks and my dad thought my mom was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I made my mom tell me this story.  She was so very shy.  She knew that Dad had a crush on her and so she would see him coming and she would cross the street to the opposite sidewalk to try to avoid running into him.  Lord knows that every socially awkward statement that has ever come out of my mouth was the exact reason my mother opted to go with avoidance.  I regret nothing.  I wish.

By high school, my mother was living in Michigan and my dad was in a military boarding school.  Their lives had moved in totally different directions.  Mom graduated from high school and got married.    Mom had four children in like a really short period of time.  Which is why when I say she was always the most patient person alive, I can speak with confidence.  Dad joined the Army, got married and when the Vietnam War began he found himself in Japan.

Then the unthinkable happened.  My mother’s first husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.  My mother was a widow and my siblings lost their father.  I can’t imagine what that time was like for my mother but she ended up packing up her four young children and moving back to Kentucky.  Around the same time, my dad was newly divorced and also making his way back to Kentucky…

So this is NOT where I’m going to pretend that their marriage was magical or perfect or even hard in the way that every marriage is hard because I don’t think that would be accurate or fair.  I think it was pretty difficult.  But I also think that my mom really really really loved my dad, (and I know she still does), and I know that my dad really really really loves my mom and always has.

Dad is in the hospital.  It’s becoming the norm lately.  I guess that’s how it is when you have stage four cancer.  I have sat with him through appointment after appointment and over and over I have heard doctors ask him what he wants.  What his expectations are.  What his concerns are.  What questions he has.  Over and over I have heard  his answers begin with, “My wife has Alzheimer’s…”

Tonight was no different.  The cardiologist asked him if he wanted them to try to resuscitate him if he coded and Dad began with his usual, “My wife has Alzheimer’s.”  Then he continued with the same responses I have heard him give every single doctor since he was first diagnosed.

“My wife has Alzheimer’s.  She’s in Calvert City.  I just want to be able to drive there to see her.  I don’t want to be too sick to do that.  I just want to be able to see her as long as I can.  She looks forward to seeing me.  She has the biggest smile when I walk in.”

Their marriage wasn’t perfect, but maybe love doesn’t have to be.

Life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful life.

 

Now I Know That Dogs Choose You

When my ex-husband and I got married, I couldn’t wait to get a dog.   A little, cute, fluffy lap dog who would be calm and adorable and who would wear bows in her ears and have some perfect southern name like Sugar that matched her perfect white fur.   Sugar or Honey or Butterscotch or whatever other sticky sweet name that I could come up with wouldn’t be my first dog, but she would be the first dog of mine that I really LIVED with.  The first dog to be a member of the family.  I was always an animal lover but back then, I really didn’t know much at all about loving animals.

I’ll never forget when my ex called me to tell me that he had found a dog.  He was in school in Oklahoma and the kids and I were temporarily living in Kentucky.  He told me he found this dog and that she was skin and bones.  He opened the door to his jeep and she immediately jumped into the passenger seat like she had known him her entire life.  He went straight to a drive-thru and she ate two cheeseburgers in pretty much one gulp.

She was not little, fluffy or a lap dog.  He told me she was some sort of pit mix.  I don’t remember being just outright shocked, but I do remember being concerned.  Pits don’t have the greatest reputation and we have kids.  Our youngest was still pretty small.  This wasn’t anything close to the kind of dog that I envisioned for our family in more ways than one.  My ex kept telling me how sweet she was and I agreed to see how it went but honestly I was less than thrilled and pretty disappointed.  I had been waiting a long time for the dog that I wanted to come along and this wasn’t it.  I agreed that we would keep her for now and see what happened, but that I wasn’t leaving her alone with my kids and she was gone the first time I saw any sign of aggression towards any of us.  This was when I still believed that people chose dogs.  Now I know that dogs choose you.

The first time I saw Molly, I cried.  You could see every knob of her spine.  I watched her like a hawk.  She wasn’t perfect but what I saw was she was protective.  Protective of anyone who seemed to need protecting.  Until the day she left us, no one made her run to the door faster than my ex-husband and it was like that from day one, but she loved us all.  He couldn’t discipline the children with Molly around even though he was her true Alpha.  She would never bite, but she would clearly make every attempt to get between them.  That’s just one of the things she taught me.  Protect the person who needs to be protected.

If you haven’t been around pits much, you may not know this about them.  Turns out that I did get my lap dog.  It didn’t matter that she quickly went from skin and bones and 65-70 pounds depending on her activity level, she wouldn’t hesitate to try to sit in your lap.  Anyone’s lap.  My lap.  The baby’s lap.  She wasn’t picky.  She loved to be loved.  She loved to be beside you.  She loved her family.  She loved visitors.  She had zero manners.  I had to put her up if people were coming over because she jumped on everyone and she wasn’t exactly small.  She terrified people on a regular basis and I don’t really blame them.  I wouldn’t love seeing a pit bull racing at me at 15mph, (yes, I know how fast she could run from the days when she would jump our rock wall in El Paso and I would have to drive around the neighborhood trying to catch her).  She just wanted to say hi.  Her tail was about two inches long so she would just wag her entire back end.  In all of our years together I did see a handful of people who she didn’t love but I never saw her do anything beyond a warning to another human being.

I have no doubt in my mind that Molly would have died for us.  How can you not respect any creature that would do that for you?  How could we have anything other than respect for her?  She LOVED us.   And we loved her.  I was always an animal lover but until I met Molly, they were just animals.  Molly taught me not only that they are so much more but she also taught me a lot about life in general.  I know there are people who will read that and think that it sounds crazy and I don’t blame you.  I wouldn’t have understood at one time, either.  Not everyone is blessed with a Molly.

She taught me about loyalty.  Selflessness.  True, unconditional love.  Companionship.  She taught me gratitude.  No one in this world will ever be happier to see me than Molly was.  That felt good.  She wasn’t just a dog.  She was a family member.  I would jokingly say my favorite child.  She wasn’t that far from being one of my children.  I mean it didn’t matter if I was gone ten minutes or two days, Molly was thrilled to see me.

She loved to go for rides.  She tore a hole in every blanket we have because she always wanted to be covered up at night.  If the covers came off, she would use her teeth to try to cover herself back up.  She was afraid of storms.  She could catch food in midair.  Pretty much the second it left my fingertips.  Her tongue was about 4 feet long and she could manage to lick you no matter how you tried to get away from her.  She loved to be as close to us as possible.  Preferably right on top of us.  She was never far from me.  I stepped over her all day long.  She lost her mind if she saw a leash in your hand.  She was so excited to go somewhere.  She barked at everything and thought she owned everything in a mile radius of our house.  She didn’t like sharing us.  I don’t know how many times I was petting another one of our pets and caught her giving me the side eye lol  She knew exactly what look to give me to get her way.  It worked every time.

A few months ago, my ex-husband and our youngest came home from riding their 4 wheelers with another dog.  A dog that is so big, he made Molly look petite.  He was so stinking sweet that I couldn’t say no.  I did wonder if I was crazy more than once when I had 140 pounds of dog wrestling in my living room and pushing my furniture around.  Buddy is big and dopey and he pretty much believes he belongs to the entire neighborhood.  I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t love him.

When I pulled into the driveway last night, the kids came running out the door.  Molly’s breathing was very labored when I left for the vet and they hadn’t heard from me while we were gone.  I know they knew.  I told them to go inside and they pushed past me to look inside the truck.  My ex picked the baby up.  He was already crying.  We came inside and the four of us sat on the couch.  Buddy was right there with us.  His put his big, dopey head in my hands and looked in my eyes.  My ex said, “God knew we would need you.”  Buddy is sad today, too.

It’s not possible to explain everything Molly was to our family in one blog.  Just know that she was perfect.  She was everything I wanted but didn’t know I needed.  She was “that dog” for me.  The one that changed everything.  The one that showed me that animals are capable of human emotions no matter what anyone says.  She was my best friend and not just mine.  She was able to make all of us feel like we were so very special to her.  I will miss her every single day.  I will miss tripping over a hundred times a day. I don’t even know how long I will continue to look for her…  I’ll gladly miss her for the rest of my life because that means that I got to love her and to be loved by her.  I’m the luckiest person alive.

Thank you for choosing us, Molly Kate.  The honor was all ours ❤

there’s freedom in a broken heart

I kind of had an epiphany this morning.

I initially woke up at four.  Buddy likes to wake me up around then.  He cries until I go open the door, then he stands there for a few and decides if he wants to go outside or not.  I’ve decided that he’s got to be a member of the twilight bark and he’s listening for his people.  One time I refused to let him out and he pooped in my bathroom.  He’s basically the size of a Shetland pony so that is something that I never want to experience again.  When he wakes me up crying, we go stand at the door…

My head was killlllllling me.  My sinuses are awful.  I had made plans to try out a new church this morning and I was supposed to meet up with a friend who goes there.  I was so close to cancelling on her.  I never make plans because if it’s not my anxiety that gets in the way, it’s my body or I have a migraine, etc.  It occurred to me in that moment how much I was the biggest obstacle in my life.  If my head was going to hurt, it was going to hurt. It didn’t matter if I was at home or at church.  So I got up, I snorted my Flonase, drank my coffee and stopped letting myself stand in my own way.

When it comes to God, I don’t believe in coincidences.

I met up with LeAnn and we found our seats.  There was an older man stepping into the baptismal tub as we were listening to the band.  “Well that’s weird,” LeAnn said.  “People don’t really get baptized that often, unless it’s Easter or something like that.”  I didn’t really think much of that at the time.  The band played a few songs and then they began to play a video of the story of the man being baptized this morning.  He was a marine.  When he was a young marine, he was deployed and fell ill with malaria one day.  He wasn’t able to do his job the following day and one of his buddies filled in for him.  His buddy was shot and killed that day and this young marine was left with the realization that he not only narrowly escaped death, but his buddy died because he was filling his spot.  That’s when I knew that I was supposed to be right where I was today.

Combat, survivor’s guilt, PTSD, TBI, all of these things have turned all of our lives upside down.  I feel a kinship with anyone who walks this road because I know what a difficult, confusing, lonely, desperate road it can be for both the sufferer and for the people who love them.

In my last blog I talked about Thomas and I separating and my recent confusion and in the last few days he and I have had so many discussions about our relationship going forward.  See, for me, nothing has really changed other than our address.  While Thomas was absolutely, 100% the love of my life, the last couple years of our marriage we weren’t much more than roommates.  So for the last year, I really haven’t felt much differently than I did when we were actually married.  The last few days he and I have had a lot of conversations/arguments over my need to start figuring out my own way but he likes things just the way they are.  I have been truly struggling though.

Guess what today’s topic was?  Both the importance of boundaries and how important it is that you are spending time with people who reflect what you want out of life.  Thomas and I almost never went to church because we could almost never find a church that we were both comfortable in.  When I told him how much I loved church today he asked me if he would like it.  I laughed.  Of course not.  Like, we both love our kids and that’s probably where our commonalities end.  He likes the old school hellfire and brimstone and I don’t respond well at all to raised voices and threats.  Neither of us are wrong.  We just are who we are.  He needs what he needs and I need what I need and when we tried to achieve that together we ended up just giving up because we had to sacrifice too much of ourselves to meet in the middle.  Neither of us reflect what the other wants out of life.

My kids have talked to me off and on the entire time I’ve been writing and I feel completely all over the place with this post. I guess what I’m getting at is I have realized a lot in the last couple days and I am taking baby steps towards getting my life back.  Thomas and I will probably always be close.  I was with him during his darkest, pre-therapy, pre-medication times and we have seen hell together.  We truly have.  You know how old veterans can spot each other in a crowd and instantly connect even if they have never met?  That’s us.  We have bonded through combat.  I’m still reclaiming my life, though.  Just putting up a few guardrails.