Sunday, January 26, 2014

Disappointment

Today's writing prompt from Jeff Goins is disappointment.  I think every single one of us has lived with disappointment over one thing or another.  It is inescapable in this world in which we reside.  


One of the earliest disappointments I remember was my Mom marrying my stepdad.  I thought he was mean and awful.  He would verbally abuse me and my Mom would tell me to ignore him.  I was disappointed that she would allow him to treat me that way.  


I was disappointed when my Mom was never there for my dance classes or dress rehearsals.  My stepdad was there in the lobby taking pictures, so he was in charge of getting me there and home most of the time.  I was disappointed that work always seemed more important than her children.  Especially when she sent me an email saying that she was sorry that I could not understand that she had to look out for herself and work all of the time.  I felt like a child again, unworthy of her time and love.  


When my Daddy died when I was 13, I was disappointed again.  I was disappointed in God, that He would take my Daddy, but leave my verbally abusive stepdad.  I couldn't understand why He would take a good person and leave a bad one.  A couple of years later, a teacher explained to me that when someone has completed the plan God had for them here on earth, He calls them home.  I am not sure if that was 100% theologically correct, but it sure made my hurting heart feel better.  


When my brother started drinking, got involved with drugs and started stealing from my mom & stepdad, I was disappointed.  When he was not willing to admit that he had a problem, the disappointment grew.  The drugs & alcohol turned into drinking cough syrup to get a high.  The stealing turned into stealing their identity.  When they pressed charges, I was disappointed in them.  That disappointment was definitely misplaced.  When he got out of jail the first time and we opened our house to him and he was abusive to my kids and I did not find out until years later, that was disappointment.  When I found out he had abused my kids and I missed the signs, I was extremely disappointed in myself and filled with shame and regret.  


After my brother repeated the same mistakes with stealing and drugs and returned to jail, I was disappointed again.  When he asked family to throw a party for him when he was released, I was disappointed again.  Yes, I was glad he was released, but a party after 3.5 years in jail?  I just could not grasp the idea.  


A few months after he was released from jail, he was telling us that he was extremely sick and he looked terribly sick.  He told us that he had developed epilepsy due to head trauma from falling in jail and he was having major pain and stomach issues.  He looked horribly ill.  He told us that his family doctor had ordered some scans and told him that he had a mass in his head.  Then weeks later he told us he went to an oncologist and was told that he needed to do a full body scan, because brain tumors usually don't originate there.  A few weeks later he told us that he had gotten the news that he had pancreatic cancer that had spread to his brain.  After not seeing him near as often as I should have when he was in prison, now I thought I was losing him.  More regret.  He told us that the doctors said he had 3-6 months to live and they couldn't do anything.  


We had moved to Texas from our home state of Louisiana where he was, so we went to visit just about once a month, because I did not want to regret not seeing him as much as I could during his dying days.  He would look terrible one visit and decent the next.  I think we all were living in a constant state of turmoil.  If my Mom called, I thought she was calling to tell me that he was dead.  


About 5 months into him saying that he had cancer, my Mom, uncles and aunt, started asking him for proof, because they felt like something wasn't right.  I was naive and so disappointed that they would treat him that way, because I believed him!  I would text him or talk to him e very day, checking up on him.  Some days he sounded fine.  Some days he would say he couldn't text because his phone was too blurry or he couldn't talk because of headaches or slurred speech.  I was disappointed on those days and wondered if he was getting worse.  


He finally agreed to let my Mom and uncle go with him to the doctor and ask any questions they wanted.  I was still disappointed that they were questioning him.  I was still babying my brother and believing him.  He disappeared the day before they were supposed to go with him to the doctor.  I was so disappointed in him that day.  I had had a dream several years earlier that his life was going to end in suicide.  He called me a day or two later and told me that he was fine and just needed some space to himself.  His speech was clearer than I had heard it since he'd been out of jail.  I almost felt like he was reading from a script.  There was no stuttering or slurring, like we had all been accustomed to.  He texted asking for my address.  I have it to him and begged him to not do anything stupid.  He was found two days later.  He had overdosed on insulin.  He left letters to my Mom, sister & uncle.  No note/letter for me.  He had asked a cousin for her address, too, but she never received anything.  I was so disappointed that I did not matter enough to him to get a note.  I was disappointed that nothing I said or did was enough to change his decision on ending his life.  I was disappointed that I had trusted him and believed him when none of it was true.  I believe he came out of jail, planning on putting his family through the most excruciating pain that he possibly could.  I am disappointed in myself for playing along with his scheme and not seeing through it and dragging my family back to Louisiana every single month.  I am disappointed that my family is ashamed and tries to keep it a secret.  


I am hoping to find a group that is hurting from verbal abuse &/or losing a loved one to suicide and be a light of hope to them in their darkness.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A story of redemption

I found myself trying to mother my brother.  Even though I was only 2 years older, with our Mom working full time and unavailable emotionally after she got home, because she was exhausted, I tried to be there for my brother.  


Losing our Dad when I was 13 and he was 11 seemed to have a profound affect on both of us.  Neither of us were the same people.  When I was scared, I would run to him and sleep in his bed, even though he was younger.  I always felt like I would be rejected by my mother and told that I was being silly.  


When I was making wedding plans, I asked him and my half sister to be the ones to walk me down the aisle, because my Daddy was gone and I was definitely not going to ask my step dad because I could not stand him.  My brother walked me down the aisle and sang at my wedding.  


A couple of years later when I started having children, he was a great uncle and visited them quite often.  He would play with them and they looked forward to his visits.  The more I was around him, the more I noticed that he was struggling.  


He started drinking.  When drinking was not enough, he turned to pain pills.  He would go to the doctor and make up extravagant lies to get pain pills.  Eventually that would not work, so he started stealing them from his Mom & from me when I had them after having a baby.  


His drinking, taking drugs and stealing drugs, eventually turned into stealing money from friends and family to buy the drugs.  Then it turned into stealing our mom and stepdad's identity.  It was discovered when my Mom went to buy a vehicle.  In order to not have to pay the thousands of dollars back, they had to file a police report and press charges against him.  


He spent about one year in jail.  Mom was sending him money to buy snacks, paper, stamps, etc, but he did not think it was enough, so he asked our uncle to send him money.  Our uncle would only agree if he would read and write a book report on the book.  Then he would send him money.  Our uncle did not want him sitting in there and not using his mind.  


After a year, he was released from jail and rented a house with funds that had been placed into a trust fund from rental properties he had inherited.  He could not find a job, because of his record, so my uncle hired him to work at his store.  After a couple of years of working at our uncle's store and being around positive influences, he admitted that life was not turning out exactly as he had wished.  


After much reflection and encouragement from family, he decided to start going to Celebrate Recovery.  It helped, but not as much as he was hoping.  After some encouragement from friends in his small group, he decided to go into a full treatment Rehab facility.  He spent 6 months in rehab and did absolutely every thing asked of him.  As of today, he has been drug free and sober for 10 years.  I am so thankful that he admitted he needed help, instead of living in denial!  

Fear

Fear


Do you know what it feels like to fear something so much that you are physically ill?  Do you know what it feels like to be woken from a deep sleep at 4AM and stuck in the bathroom sick for an hour, for no logical reason?  I never knew the fear I know now, until I lost my Daddy.  


I completely changed that day.  Now I love every day in the fear that I am going to lose someone close to me.  If it takes Ernie 15 minutes longer than normal to get to work, I'm in a panic.  If he does not text me to let me know he made it to work, or if he texts, but forgets to hit send, I am a basket case.  I will be physically sick, thinking of every possible thing that could have gone wrong on his drive into work.  


If I don't hear from him occasionally during the day, fear creeps in again.  Our oldest child sent back to public school this year, after 5 years of homeschooling.  Most of the students have smartphones now and I know his is with him all of the time.  If I text and cannot get a reply fairly quickly, I will text over and over and panic that something may have happened at school.  Thankfully he has figured out that he can send me a message on fb to tell me when to pick him up or whatever and that helps ease my worry.  I have been known to check the school's website to see if he's eaten lunch so I know he was fine at least that long.  


Part of the reason I homeschool my kids is because of fear of something happening to them at school.  Whether it's a teacher that does something inconceivable or a child with a gun or any other kind of disaster.  I think allowing my son to go to high school this year has stretched me and really helped in my prayer life and trusting that God is going up protect him.  


Leading up to my husband's 35th birthday, I was having panic attacks.  My Dad died at 35 and I was paranoid that somehow the same thing was going to happen to him.  I knew that he would not die the same way, he does not have epilepsy, but I still worried.  As I got close to 35, the paranoia started again.  I was terrified that I was going to die.  It makes absolutely no sense, but I was still fearful.  


My extended family seem to all be worriers.  I don't know if we just pick it up without realizing it or if it's just something that some of us deal with day to day.  My babies have always co-slept.  Not only because I want them close, but because of my fear of SIDS.  


To combat these fears, that can sometimes be debilitating, I read the Bible, meditate on scripture, do a lot of praying, distract myself by being busy and when nothing seems to be working or it's extremely bad, I take Xanax.  I hate taking medication for it, but right now, that is where I am.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hate



I have been thinking about MLK today and his quote - “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.".  I don't know if you have grown up with hate, but I have.  I cannot remember if it started when I objected at my Mom's wedding to my stepdad at the courthouse.  Or if it was before she married my stepdad.  I don't know if it was because I did not like him or if it was because he did not like having another mouth to feed. 


I was raised in Louisiana where there is still a lot of racism.  There was way more than you could ever imagine in this day and time.  Or maybe it was just that way in my house and my best friend's house.  Maybe it was just their generation.  I doubt I will ever know the reason behind so much hatred.  


I was not allowed to watch The Cosby Show or Fresh Prince, simply because of their skin color.  My stepdad treated all black people as if they were thieves.  It was insane in my opinion.  I could not understand why people would judge and hate others simply because we are different.  


My Dad's side of the family was teaching me that we are all equal, God made each and every one of us and to treat others the way you would want to be treated.  My Mom's side of the family was teaching me completely differently, if actions are what we learn.  


I find it ironic that my stepdad would talk bad about people on welfare, but he would only work long enough at a paper mill shut down in order to get unemployment, then he would sit at home or enjoy his days on the golf course, while my Mom worked full time to carry insurance on us.  How are those two different?  I do not see much difference.  In fact, I think it's taking advantage of the government, the same way some people that are capable of working choose not to and get on welfare.  Is there a difference?  


I cannot count on one hand how many times he yelled at me or argued with me until I just gave up.  He had to have the last word about everything.  He was always right, no matter what the discussion.  


I was a reader growing up.  My books were my escape from reality.  I don't think I will forget him telling people that all I read about was who was kidding who.  I felt so humiliated.  


The first time he bullied my oldest daughter, I completely lost it.  He wanted her to try the peach tea he was drinking.  She politely said no thank you.  His reply was, why don't you ever do what I ask you to do?  There was name calling in there, too.  She was probably 10 years old.  I stood up to him for once and told him that he may have gotten away with bullying me, but he was but bullying my child.  We left his house with my grandmother crying and asking me to just let it go.  I had been told since they'd been together to "let it go", "ignore him", "let it go in one ear and out the other", "that's just the way he is, he doesn't know any better", "he's just not happy, so he tries to bring everyone else down" and my favorite "You just don't know how to take a joke".  I think my mouth dropped every time I heard "You just don't know how to take a joke".  That is what my grandmother said when her daughter, my aunt, said that one of my children would probably grow up to be a child molester.  "She was just joking!  It was just a joke!  You don't know how to take a joke!  You need to just let it go.".  Then my brother turned out to be a child molester, but that is a family secret.  There is shame there.  They don't want anyone to know.  Because that's unthinkable, but yet they could joke about it and tell me that I don't know how to take a joke.  


The day of my brother's funeral, or maybe a few days after, my mind is pretty muddled about that week, my stepdad tried to give me my engagement canvas that had been hanging in their old house for 15 years and told me that it was not going on his walls.  This house that my Mom bought and pays for and only has his name on the mortgage because she needed his income counted, my picture is not allowed on "his" walls.  My brother just died and what I was hearing was that a reminder of you, is not welcome in his and my mother's house.  Do you think she stood up to him?  No, because that could cause a conflict.  She had her mother, my grandmother, call and ask for the canvas back so my Mom could put it in her office.  


I don't think I had ever felt more hated.  By my stepdad and partly by my Mom, because I was not important enough to her to stand up to him and say that I am her daughter and my engagement canvas was going in her house.  


Hate makes me sick.  There is absolutely no place for it, ever.  We are commanded to love God and each other.  Hate is a waste of time and energy.  It separates us from God.  


What are your thoughts?  Have you dealt with hate in your life?  How have you reacted to it?  Or are you able to easily let it go?  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Waiting

Waiting, the prompt given by Jeff Goins yesterday.  I fell asleep writing, so I finished this morning.  If there are errors, please forgive them.  We are supposed to just write & not edit.  


I feel like I have been waiting all of my life.  I grew up waiting to feel like my Mom accepted me and/or loved me.  I grew up longing to feel wanted and cared about.  


Perhaps there was something in my Mom's childhood that prevented her from loving me the way I needed to be loved.  I will never forget my stepdad telling me that I had a roof over my head, food on the table and clothes on my back, so what else could I want?  


My Daddy died the day after my thirteenth birthday.  I remember waiting for the funeral, having no idea how I could make it through it.  I remember when my Mom came to West Monroe Junior High and the intercom came on, asking me to come to the counselor's office.  I remember thinking I was in trouble, but wondering what I could have done.  I was the good, quiet girl, always seeking approval from other people, while waiting and hoping to get it at home.  I remember walking into the counselor's office and seeing my Mom.  I remember being told to sit down and her telling me that my Dad had passed away.  I remember thinking, surely she meant my grandfather.  My Daddy was only 35.  We had just talked that past weekend about me moving in with him, because I was so miserable living with my Mom.  One thought that kept going through my mind was "Why couldn't it have been my stepdad?".  He was verbally abusive and horrible to be around.  Why not take him, instead of the one person that I could trust and I felt like loved me unconditionally.  


My best friend from 6th grade on would come over and my Mom and stepdad would talk to her and act like she was accepted and important.  I waited for them to treat me the same way.  If never happened.  I don't know how many times I thought she should be their daughter, because they loved her more than me.  I waited to get out of that house.  


I am very thankful to have met the man of my dreams in high school.  Once again, I felt loved unconditionally.  I felt like I mattered to him.  I remember watching our the window for him to come pick me up for dates.  I always sat at the window waiting for my Daddy on Saturday evenings.  These are the two guys that I felt like would never leave me.


After we had our first child, the girls of the family started taking a week off in the summer to vacation.  I waited for an invitation to join them.  It never came.  My mother's excuse was that I could not leave my baby and the baby.  Once again, I felt unwanted and unwelcome with my family.  


Waiting to move out of LA, where I felt smothered by family.  My kids were hurting because my Mom doted on them and spent time with them, until her Mom moved to town, then they were on the back burner.  If family called, we knew they had computer problems and wanted hubby to drop everything and come fix their problems.  


Waiting for my Mom to get excited about her 5th grand baby coming.  I called her the day my water broke, only to be told that it was not a good weekend for her, for me to have the baby.  She could not drive 4 hours & spend 1 night, at least, because she was so busy and her volunteer activities are more important than her family.  Waiting for my younger girls to realize how little they mean to her, like my older kids have.  


I am tired of waiting.  Some days I wish I could cut off all ties and be done with wishing she loved me the way she loves my half sister.  One of these days, I may have no choice for my own sanity.  But right now I am waiting, because occasionally visits are great and we seem like a normal family.  


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bipolar 2...

Have you ever heard of it?  I am finding out that a lot of people have never heard of bipolar 2.  I know none of the general practitioners had any knowledge or experience with it.  I asked repeatedly if I could possibly have be bipolar and I was told absolutely not.  It's not possible.  I knew something was wrong with me.  I had known it since I was in my 20s.  


I was diagnosed with depression in my teens, after losing my Dad at 13 and living in an emotionally & verbally abusive home.  I saw a psychiatrist for years and I think the only thing he was interested in was prescribing antidepressants.  I went to tough love for teens where I was surrounded by mostly teens that had either done drugs or had a bracelet on their ankle and were under house arrest.  


I was irritable and my mood could and would change in an instant.  Most of the time when I went looking for help from my general practitioner, it was when I was in a really deep funk.  Anger became a very real part of my life.  I found myself getting angry over the tiniest things and screaming and yelling.  


When I am hypomanic, I do not want help, because I feel happy and smile and laugh a lot.  I am energetic and can get a lot done.  Then come the mixed episodes, where I will be laughing and happy, but feel like crying at the same time.  Those are the hardest emotionally.  


I finally have in and went to a psychiatrist over here when I was feeling absolutely helpless.  After going through the questionnaire, he did not even have to see me before diagnosing me.  


The biggest clue, was that antidepressants do absolutely nothing for me.  Some, like Prozac, make me fight suicidal thoughts.  Lexapro made me want to punch somebody, anybody.  A general practitioner had tried Paxil with me.  I felt so out of it that I could not get out of my recliner.  Not to mention the weight gain.  


Finally, I found a doctor that understood and did not want to just push antidepressants.  He explained that my episodes were not as severe as full blown bipolar, but the depressed side is usually worse.  When I told him one of the worst issues is my moods changing so quickly and randomly and the anger and irritability, he knew exactly what was going on.  He put me on a mood stabilizer and thankfully, it has been a huge help.  There are still some days with super highs and tremendous lows, but I think with a baby and sleep deprivation, it affects it a lot.  Most days, I feel normal, when I remember to take my medication.  


Thankfully he put me back on Xanax, after the baby came.  Most of the time, it does great with keeping me less crazy.  There are still some days when my mind automatically jumps to the worst possible scenario.  But most days I feel like I am functioning much better than I have the past 10-15 years.  I stay sleepy all of the time, probably from the Xanax, but I will take that over panic attacks and chest pains any day.  Maybe one day God will heal me from this, or maybe He chose to use me to speak out and be a help for someone else going through something similar.  Maybe He will do both.  Hopefully I will not have to be medicated the rest of my life.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Food..

Food... one of my biggest struggles...


Today's topic is brought to you by Jeff Goins and his 500 words a day challenge.  I missed yesterday, but do not think I can stretch a post on food to 1000 words!  


I am very well aware that we are to eat to live and not live to eat.  I know good is only supposed to be fuel for our bodies.  I know I need to cut out all grains, sugars and probably dairy.  I know that nutrition is 80% of the battle, I know that I am one hundred percent responsible for every bite and drink that I put in to my mouth.  I know how to get healthy, but do I do it?  No.  


Food has become an idol for me.  I turn to it when I am tired, sad, lonely, bored, happy.  I turn to food for comfort.  I will go through a drive thru when I am stressed, because I may need to get out of the house.  Or I may feel like junk food will make me feel better.  Or I may be craving salt.  Or I may just be too lazy to cook and have to deal with the clean up.  


I struggle with thinking sugar or junk food will make me feel better.  I grew up being told that I could not have coke, because I was fat.  My stepdad would insist that I drink diet coke over coke.  I was not allowed to choose how I wanted my steak cooked or what I wanted on my hamburger.  Now that I can choose what I eat, I rebelliously choose junk and coke.  It makes absolutely no sense at all!  I think I am letting him win by staying overweight.  


My absolute favorite food is Mexican food.  My favorite meal is chips, queso, carne asada, rice, beans & sopapilla bites with vanilla ice cream.  With a coke, of course and sometimes a margarita.  The majority of that meal is terrible for you, but it is my favorite.  They have a white cheese, spinach queso.  The carne asada is a huge steak, covered with Monterey Jack cheese, over a bed of grilled onions.  It is one of the best meals I have ever had.  I always get it with flour tortillas & love putting queso on top of slices of the meat inside a tortilla.  I never eat the onions, but I love the flavor of them.  It has always been a texture thing with me and onions.  The beans and rice are really just standard Mexican beans & rice.  The sopapilla bites are out of this world.  They remind me of bite sized beignets, if you've ever had beignets in New Orleans.  These are sprinkled with cinnamon & sugar with a little honey drizzled around the bowl and a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle.  I think each of my family members could eat one of these desserts on their own, but we split it.  Our favorite Mexican place is a place called Frankie's.  My kids beg to go.  The manager is absolutely wonderful.  My girls call him Uncle Jesse, Full House?  He kind of looks like him, too!