Tuesday, January 14, 2020

When I Can't Sleep...

It's almost 6AM and I haven't been to sleep yet.  My mind is going, I'm essentially out of pain medication, and I'm just not tired.  Either that or I'm just SO tired that I can't really tell.  The surgery that was canceled back in August was rescheduled, after a new MRI report that actually said what was wrong with my neck.  It is happening tomorrow at 2PM.  This will be my third neck surgery since summer 2013.  In that time, I had about 2-3 good years where my pain stayed around a 4-5.  I'm hoping to get back there for a few more years.  I am not sure I have it in me to go through this horrendous process every few years.

I have so many worries.  And I know that I am not supposed to worry.  It's the never-ending battle that wages in my mind and some days, I feel powerless to defeat that very shrewd enemy who wants nothing more than to see me fail yet again.

I'm not going to lie.  2019 was a really difficult year for our family.  Our home being broken into last week wasn't a good start to 2020 either, but what can you do?  I mean, really...at some point, you stop being shocked by what life throws at you.  And so even though I'm not "I-could-go-to-sleep-right-now tired," I am still really, really tired.

Being a parent is the most unforgiving, thankless, draining thing a person can ever do with their life.  This year has thrown things our way that I couldn't have anticipated and some days left me wondering if we will survive until all the kids are out on their own living productive lives.

Recovery is also hard.  Earlier in the year I embarked on a journey.  One I wasn't even sure I should be on.  One I didn't know if I could be on.  I joined a group for women who have gone through sexual betrayal, whether it be pornography addiction, adultery, or other similar issues.  When I joined the group, I felt incredibly unworthy to be a part of a group like that.  Sure, I had gone through sexual betrayal, enduring year after year of the same cycle of suspicion, confrontation, lies, eventual transparency, and then ultimately, forgiveness and another attempt, hoping this time it would finally be different.

But even though I experienced over a decade of this cycle, I have always felt as if my affair canceled out any right that I have to grieve what my husband's addiction did to me.  Even though I dealt with the shame and guilt of what I did long ago, this group I joined started bringing things up in me that I didn't even know I felt.  I had to actually bow out of the group due to my health and inability to make it to the meetings each week, and wouldn't you know it, as soon as I stopped going, all of these triggers began overwhelming me.  I would find myself just angry.  And I don't usually get angry about Kris' past issues with pornography.  I think back when it was happening I felt something akin to anger, but it was nothing to the anger and frustration I have been faced with lately.  And for at least 3 weeks, I couldn't even talk to Kris about it.  I was wrecked and bore it alone, because I thought that is what I deserved.  Even after my eyes were open and I learned that it wasn't about punishment, I still wrestle with that very truth.  It's one thing to KNOW something.  It's entirely different to FEEL the truth.

And not only am I feeling anger.  I'm just sad.  I'm finding that there are expectations I had that could not be met, due to Kris' addiction.  For instance, the expectation that our marriage vows would be upheld from the start.  The Bible talks about forsaking all others and being one with your wife.  Even in the actual wedding ceremony, in the vows, we say we will forsake all others.  We will be faithful.  And instead of allowing myself to feel devastated by that loss, which was completely out of my control in the beginning, I have silenced the whispers that say I need to feel and grieve the things that I lost because of my husband's addiction.  Because when I start to think about it and I start to allow myself to work through it, I am quickly reminded that I am also guilty of breaking my marriage vows.  Do you see it?  I was betrayed first.  I wasn't the first one to run to someone or something else.  And yet...it's all I can see.  It's like all of the pain I endured just has to get swept under the rug, because I eventually ran to someone else.  I have allowed myself to stay in this place of limbo, not even realizing that I had things I needed to grieve.  I just assumed I didn't have a right to.

And wouldn't you know it, as soon as I left the group, God began to reveal all of this to me.  And it has not been easy to try to navigate.  Because in the midst of all of that, we have been dealing with heroin addiction, teenage attempts to sell marijuana, a kid going to college, a kid  who we are just praying makes it to graduation, health issues, work stresses, and so many other things I can't even name right now.  To say the timing was bad is an understatement.  But when is the timing ever what we would hope for?

There have been days when I felt like I was drowning.  I stepped down as a supervisor at work, which has been a much needed relief, and yet also leaves me feeling like a failure, even though I can acknowledge that it wasn't for lack of trying.  I have never felt worse as a mother than I have this year, and yet in the midst of it all, something will happen or be said that soothes my broken mama heart.  Because I believe in a God who loves me beyond what I could ever hope for or imagine and I believe that he gives me gifts.  A song at a certain time.  A kind word at the right moment.  A conversation that breathes life into me.  It doesn't SOUND like much, but when you have seen God work as clearly as I have in my life, it FEELS like the world to me.

I have no idea what this new journey to be healthy emotionally will look like.  It's scary, I know that much.  It's hard.  I'm having to now go back and talk to Kris about things we've never talked about and express grief over things he did a long time ago.  It's not easy to ask him to walk through that with me, when I know the hurt I caused him.  And that kind of twisted thinking right there spurs me on to walk through this fire, because I recognize it as the thought of someone who is very broken.  Some days I feel like I will suffocate from the weight of it, and yet, I know it is just something I have to press into and try to be patient with.  You know, my son deals with a lot of anxiety and I gave him some advise the other day that I really should embrace myself.  I told him that sometimes there isn't a fix.  Sometimes we just have to sit in it and FEEL.  And it can be so hard and so painful because we just want the pain to stop.  But sometimes, we have to just sit in it and allow ourselves to feel it, and just know that tomorrow will be brighter.

There is always hope.  Even when there's nothing left.  It's still there.  Maybe it's mangled and torn and bare.  But hope is constant.  It chases us relentlessly and sometimes all we have to do is take a leap of faith, into the unknown, into the pain, into the abyss.  Because if you know God, guess what!?!  Not only will he chase after you, he will go before you and he will catch you when you fall.

Friday, November 15, 2019

I'm His Mom Now

It's always when I can't sleep that I begin thinking about the big problems in life.  Or rather, maybe I can't sleep because my mind just will not SHUT. UP.  This is what I am thinking about tonight:

I'm not a great mom.

I'm not even a good mom, most days.

I am...just...a...mom...

Underpaid.  Underappreciated.  Undervalued.

These are my thoughts, at 4AM.

Kris and I are tired.  We are just plain exhausted.  This blog has only scratched the surface of the things going on in my life right now, especially because I am not the best at writing regularly.

This is my reality, and what my life has looked like over the last year:

My oldest daughter graduated from high school, got her first job, went to college, has a steady, serious boyfriend, and it is evident with each passing day that grand babies are no longer this far-off, abstract thing.  It could happen, people.  SOON.  Though, if Katherine has her way, it will not happen in the next 4 years.  She's lame.

My son...my dear, sweet, sullen son.  Kaleb is so hard to love, and yet so worthy, and so very deserving of that love, even though he doesn't want to believe it.  We butt heads so much more than I would like, but I really feel like this past year has been one of growth for both of us.  I think we would both agree that while it has been difficult, and we are weathering it, we will both be so relieved when we don't live together anymore.  But finally in the last year, I feel like we are learning to talk to one another.  We still fail one another, and I bear that mom guilt heavily.  But it's something...

I try so hard to own my mistakes.  To tell my son that I am sorry.  To tell him when I have misjudged him (which I do, far more often than I should).  To let him know I am proud of him and that I love him.  And, shockingly, as if God knew I needed reassurance, not only did my son hug me once in the last year, but he also told me he loved me the other day, and I am fairly certain it was JUST BECAUSE.  I can't ask him to clarify though, because if I draw any attention to it at all, he will withdraw from society and pretend as if he never knew me.

My third child (the middle daughter, Abbey) is always my bright spot at the end of any day.  Going strong still after 17 years, she is what I need to make me smile.  All of my kids do things that make me proud, that make me laugh, or that amaze me.  All of them fill my heart with a joy and pride I can't even begin to put into words.  BUT that girl...you have to meet her only once to get it.  To understand why this paragraph about her is different.  SHE is different.  When she learns something new, as bored as I sometimes get listening (see, told you I wasn't great, or good!), I will never tire of her with her adorable shaved head, literally educating me on every detail, big and small, of whatever her current passion is.

And then there is the youngest, Olivia.  She's 14 and still so naive - not in a bad way.  Overall, she lives in a bubble and for years I have nurtured that bubble.  The longer she can live free of the burden that life can be at times, the better.  I know one day something bad will happen - something that she doesn't know how to walk through - but I am not in a hurry to usher that day in.  Her innocence brings me hope.  It shows me that kids can face all that they are facing and not be pulled down by it.  It is possible to live in this crazy, busy, sex-crazed world as a teenager and yet not be persuaded into growing up too quickly.  I am in NO hurry for my youngest to grow up.  It seems crazy to think that she will soon become an adult and not just live at home as the quiet, nerdy, kid who loves to draw and has a wit and sarcasm that seems incompatible and yet she makes it work.  And that's the funny, crazy thing about Olivia.  She is innocent of a lot of things in this life, but she has this dark and twisted mind that only a dark and twisted mother could love.  ;-)  She has always been quick-witted.  It has amazed me from the time she started talking.  I used to think she was just repeating sarcastic comments verbatim that she would hear adults saying.  But it quickly became clear that those odd comments my three year old was rattling off  were actually a sign of a quick wit and a sarcastic, slightly demented mind.

But the thoughts don't end there.  It might surprise some of you to learn that we have a fifth kid now too.   He's a handsome, blonde-haired 18 year old young man.  There are a lot of circumstances I am not even fully aware of, but at the time, he needed a place to stay for a few days.  He had recently gotten out of an inpatient treatment program for teens struggling with drug addiction.  It was presented to us that the living arrangements would be temporary - and if things needed to progress beyond that, we would look at setting some ground rules.  After the first few days, it became apparent that it would be a longer-term situation, so we put some rules in place and off we went.

Shortly after arrangements were finalized, it became apparent that this new kid of mine was under the influence of something.  When confronted, he admitted he had been using heroin and we got him immediately back into treatment.  He has still been battling his demons and recently gave in when the pressures of life became unbearable.  So, he made the courageous and difficult decision to go into an adult, inpatient rehab as soon as a bed opens up .

Heroin is vicious.  It has devastated this kid's family.  I don't know all of the circumstances or details, but this kid's mom and oldest brother died a couple of years ago, within weeks of one another, and I believe both were overdoses or heroin was involved in some way in both deaths.  So when he showed up on my doorstep, in addition to so many other things he needed (unconditional love, a roof over his head, regular meals), this kid needed a mom.

So, I'm his mom now.

I'm not a great mom.

I'm not even a good mom.

But, I am HIS mom.

It really is that simple for me.  I love him as if he were my own.  How crazy that someone who is literally an adult according to his age worked his way into my mama heart so easily and instantly and I feel like I've loved him his whole life!  I know how selfish I am, so I really believe that God put this into my heart and gave me the capacity to love like He loves us.

But this has been the hardest few months we have had in a long, long time.  Because in addition to all of this, work has been insane and I had to make the difficult decision to step down as a supervisor, due to my health issues.  It has actually been HUGE for controlling my anxiety,  but it also means Kris has had to pick up the slack at work in addition to home, since my spine physically limits me.  He also hurt his low back recently-the first injury of this type for him, and it is taking a toll on him.

Of all the people I am responsible for, the dog is the stupidest.  I mean, literally, he has a death wish.  Or something.  These are just a handful of the mischievous things this dog has done in his not-quite-four-years of life:

Eaten Benadryl
Had his chest plate cut open at the groomer
Eaten Tizanidine (muscle relaxer)
Eaten Ambien (he had his stomach pumped for this one)
Jumped through our bay window and cut his arms open
Consumed approximately one gram of marijuana
Eaten a Suboxone strip (this was just last week and was quite scary)

So I am going to ask again, why don't we have our own reality show?

It's just...a...lot.  But I do recognize that this is a season.  It won't always feel this crazy, this heavy, and this exhausting. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Three Months

A lot can happen in 3 months. 

Many things can also NOT happen in 3 months.

For me, one of those things that did not happen was surgery.  Set for 8/28, a week before, the doctor called and told me that insurance had denied the surgery.  The said it was not medically necessary.  My body would beg to differ.  Within a week of the denial, I started having numbness and tingling in my mid back any time I sit or lay down.  My pain increased in both my neck and  my mid back.  For an entire week, I couldn't even stand up straight, and went to the ER, thinking one of the bulging discs in my back had ruptured.  It had not, and all the ER doctor said was that the CT scan showed bulging discs all over my spine.  Yeah...I know...

My surgeon ordered another MRI, basically a repeat of the previous one done in May, because the report as he put it was the worst he had ever read and contained no information in it.  His thought was that if we repeat the MRI and have a new report, it should contain what the insurance company needs to see to approve surgery.

So, my new MRI was done and this time the report indicated I had bulging discs at C3-4, narrowing on both sides, and a pinched nerve at C5.  They have resubmitted it to the insurance company, and surgery is tentatively scheduled now for 1/15/20.  If it gets denied again, honestly I am not sure what will happen, but I can't think about that.  I have to bank on that hope right now that it will be approved. 

My mental state hasn't been the greatest over these last 3 months, as you might imagine.  It has been difficult to force myself to keep up with the things I love.  Writing feels like a chore, and so I avoid it most days.  The holidays are approaching and this is my favorite time of year and I don't want my outside stuff to affect my joy during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So, I am trying to push through and get back to the things I love.  But it is hard work.  And most days, I miss the mark. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Adjusting To A New Way of Life

I sat down intending to write something completely different, because I had a song on my heart and some thoughts on fear and how it debilitates me on an almost daily basis.  And yet, this is what came out, so I suppose it is what I needed to write about tonight.  Maybe after my third neck surgery happening in two weeks, I can work on that.  But for now, prepare for a cheesy mommy blog post, okay?  

It's hard to believe that summer is basically over.  Three of my kids have gone back to school, and I am preparing to drop my oldest off at college on Friday.   Which brings me to a funny story I thought I would share here.  We went to Rolla over the weekend to say goodbye to Katherine's boyfriend who has moved there for college.  On the drive, I was fine.  In general, I was fine.  When we got there, I was fine.  For about 30 seconds.  And then, I was definitely NOT fine.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Hola desde Mexico!

I am writing today from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  Kris and I are here celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.  It has been beautiful here, if not a little cloudy.  Today was the first sunny day we have had and you would think that with the waves crashing against the beach and the tropical weather, everything would be wonderful, right?

Today was a rough day for me though.  I had a mix up with the pharmacy and my doctor and have been off of my anti-depressant for a week, and I am feeling it.  Not in the sense of a deep, dark depression, but there is a definite feeling of my emotions being far outside my control.  Add to that increased pain and it was just a recipe for disaster.  Kris and I had a bit of a rough start to the day, but were finally able to communicate and make peace.  It seems like such a waste to fight in a beautiful place like this, celebrating a long commitment to one another.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Slipping Through My Fingers

I haven't been sleeping well these last few days.  I am on an antibiotic that interferes with my muscle relaxer, so I haven't been able to take that since Thursday.  I can't get back on it until Friday.  So, I have been wide awake at 3AM the last three nights.  There are so many factors going on right now that have contributed to my heightened anxiety.  The medication, the transition to the kids being out of school for  the summer, and the fact that we are leaving the country soon to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

But really, the largest part has probably been that I have officially entered a new phase in my life.  I am 40 years old, and my oldest just graduated from high school!!  It's insane!  I have no idea what happened to the last 18 years but it was surreal Saturday, watching Katherine walk the stage and accept her fake diploma.  ;-)  I teared up several times and just could not get the song below out of my head.  Katherine has told me multiple times that she is going to play this song at her wedding, just to make me cry.  Abbey also has confirmed she plans to do this.  The song is special to me and my girls, but especailly Katherine.  The last time we saw Mamma Mia at The Fabulous Fox Theater a couple of years ago, Katherine grasped my hand and held it throughout the entire song, while I just bawled.  It was such a sweet, tender moment that I will never forget.  So, as the ceremony continued, the lyrics to "Slipping Through My Fingers" wouldn't leave my mind.

Friday, May 31, 2019

How Depression Works

I've been a bit of a mess lately.  We all know I'm not consistent with writing here.  I know that when I'm not writing, I'm not as healthy as I could/should be.  I know that, and yet, I am not actively pursuing the things that keep me the most grounded and emotionally healthy.  This, my friends, is how depression works.  People who struggle with their mental health aren't oblivious to the things that can help them.

Oh I should exercise?

Sure...I can barely get out of bed and force myself to shower, but yeah, let me just muster the energy to run to the gym.

Getting out of the house will help me?

Sure, let me just magically shove down the anxiety that is usually present before I even leave the house and go to a party.

Just stop being sad all the time?

Of course, that's the easiest one of all.  I'll just think positive in the midst of all the negative thoughts that constantly fill my mind.  I'll suddenly shift an entire lifetime worth of lies and other voices screaming that I am worthless so that I am no longer sad.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Heavy

Heavy is a good word to describe how I am feeling.  You know, I look at certain things we go through in life and I think, "How in the world do people cope without God, or some sort of higher something when things are hard?"  Because I'm telling you, if I didn't have faith in God and that one day there will be a place with no more pain, I don't think I would want to keep living.  What would be the point?  If there is no God, and if there is nothing else after death, where would the motivation be to continue living in a broken and fallen world, that seems to bring more pain than anything else?  And my pain is so trivial compared to what some people are facing right now.  Cancer.  Death of a child.  Death of a parent.  Financial struggles.  Divorce.  And so many other things.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Distracted and Disconnected

I've spent the better part of a year distracted.  For the first time in the last seven years, I haven't felt as close to God.  I haven't felt far from him.  Just not close.  Not like I was.

I've allowed the circumstances of my life to get in the way.  My priorities shifted.  It happened so subtlety that it has taken me almost a year to recognize it.  I've allowed my pain to take the wheel, controlling my emotions, my body, my heart.  I have been worn and discouraged.  I have become utterly exhausted, fighting against a failing body I cannot control.  And the mental toll that has taken over the last year has been frustrating, to say the least. 

Pain is all I think about.  My life revolves around it.  This is the evening before I go in for what they call a "pain pump trial."  It will determine whether or not having pain pump implanted will be beneficial and allow me to live life again.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

A Mother's Heart

I have spent the last 18 years raising kids, and more often than not, being absolutely terrified that I will be the reason why my kids need years and years of therapy just to lead happy and healthy lives.  I have spent so much time fretting and second guessing myself, and worrying.  Wondering if saying this or doing that will ruin their childhoods.  I want my kids to have good memories when they look back at their childhood.  I want them to see that yeah, I made mistakes.  I failed.  Many times.  I yelled too much.  I was too edgy too often, regardless of the legitimate pain and anxiety and depression behind it all.  But I don't want them to only remember that.

I want them to remember that when I failed, when I yelled or made them cry, and it was done out of anger of something else unjustified, that I said I'm sorry.  That I acknowledged where I had made mistakes and I apologized.  That I made amends.  That I squared my shoulders and tried harder to do it right next time.  That I failed again, and that I owned it, once again.

I don't live with the delusion that they won't remember any bad times.  That's not what I'm talking about.  I want them to see good, even in the bad times.  I want them to see redemption.  I want them to know that I tried.  I tried so hard to do it right.  And I want them to know that I know that I didn't always live up to their expectations.  I certainly don't live up to my own, which I admit are likely unattainable.