Monday, June 26, 2017

Pictures

It seems my efforts to de-clutter are also going for emotional clutter as well. I brought all of the baby pictures I had with me when I left Tennessee. As part of the final divorce proceeding the judge ordered me to provide an estimate of the cost of reproduction of said photos, and for the ex to pay for the cost, at which time I was to send him the copies, and after 30 days, if the cost of reproduction was not paid, the photos would be considered moot. The funds were never sent, and so the photos were never copied or sent. Pictures including the ex would find their way up to my mom's cabin for safe storage until someday when the children were older, and might want them for themselves.

My mom has had some issues with Rocky Mountain Wood rats, which as it turns out, are more closely related to prairie dogs than rats, but they are highly evolved creatures that can survive almost anything, and can amazingly burrow and chew through all kinds of material. She's been working to exorcise the destructive creatures from the structure, and we think she just about has it done. But she was concerned between the rodents of unusual size, and the repairs needing to be made to the structure, about any kind of damage to the photos, knowing that they are likely the only copies I have. So I brought them home, along with other childhood photos. She still has some albums we will need to sit down together and cull from my childhood, but mainly because she knows that looking through those will be traumatic for both of us, and it is something we will need to do together. I'm thinking after we do, the discards will be fuel for a cleansing fire. But we'll see.

In any case, I've been making an effort to scan in my childhood photos so the kids can see them, and so I can share them with other family members who might not have ever gotten copies of them. And in doing that I had to ponder what the hell to do with the pictures of the ex. So I came up with a solution, finally after all of these years. I created an album on-line, uploaded photos, and sent the links to him and to the children so they can access them anytime they want to. And being that I now have a scanner, I can get it done at no more cost than just my time. I still have a couple of discs to go through and get uploaded eventually, as I have the time and inclination to do so. But now I feel like I can mail the hard copies of the photos to his mom, and not worry about whether or not they'll ever be available to the kids someday. In a digital age, there is just no good reason anymore not to get these to the people who may want them, and to let go of my guardianship of the past.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Disability

I feel absolute relief. I made the call to admissions to find out how my financial aid would be affected by withdrawing from 8 of 12 credit hours this semester, and it is fine, because my course completion rate is on par. I let my mom know I made the decision to withdraw. I know she will be disappointed, but I do hope she will be understanding. For me, it is not as much about admitting defeat as it is being mature enough to recognize my limitations. I explained I would rather focus on and pass two classes than complete and fail three of four, because I cannot keep up with the homework load.

I've never viewed my depression as "severe" enough to be considered a disability. I often find myself frustrated with people who appear to have a higher level of function, and accept the classification and services associated with being legally disabled. But I can definitely look back on my life, and identify many places where depression and anxiety have been absolutely debilitating to me. These last few weeks have been a small example of that. I mentioned the same to my oldest daughter, because she's noticed, and we were talking a little bit about the limitations and expectations of persons with disabilities, particularly in reference to an Autistic young man she knows. We were talking about the need to coach and teach people how to work around and overcome their limitations, while at the same time, as outsiders being understanding of the limitations there aren't ways to overcome or work around.  She said to me, observing on the outside as she has, that I could probably qualify for a disability status. I told her that was not something I really want though. Despite the challenges, I want to live as much of my life as I can, and try to participate in and function in life as normally as possible, despite the dark moments. We talked about the chicken and the egg, with chronic pain exacerbating depression, and chronic pain being a symptom of depression. I think these conversations are helpful, as I know she at least inherited the anxiety I carry, and I hope that it will help her understand herself a little, and to be able to openly discuss mental health issues in general.

So I guess this semester has been valuable for me in that I am able now to recognize, I do have a disability, even if I do not legally or otherwise claim the status of being disabled. Sometimes it does limit and debilitate me. It is not a crutch or an excuse not to participate in life, and I have not, nor will I use it as such. But maybe I can be a little more forgiving of myself for the path I've taken in life, and feeling like I've wasted a lot of time. Maybe I can start accepting that time spent on self-care is not selfish or wasted, but it helps me to cope with the dark moments, so I can participate in and enjoy the larger more positive make up of my life.

I'm ok with my decision to withdraw. It will mean more credit hours taken during regular semesters, and a little extra effort down the road. It may even mean a delayed graduation goal date. But that is ok. I will get this accomplished, in spite of, and maybe in part because of this disability of mine.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Try

Depression is a tricky thing. It causes pain sometimes, and sometimes it's exacerbated by pain, it's an endless cycle. My husband adjusted my back yesterday, and something was extremely out of alignment. As soon as it moved, my mood lifted, my energy surged, and the clouds seemed to roll away. I forget sometimes just how depressing it is to be in chronic pain. I've learned to disconnect from it, to tell myself I can manage, that it's bearable. I push through because I have too much to get done. I often forget to connect the dots, that because I have unlearned how to listen to my body crying uncle, I translate it as emotional pain, and assume body aches are a symptom of the depressive mood, rather than a potential cause. After the adjustment, I went to yoga, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The meditation at the end included a supported spine pose, and I was so grateful for it.

Today I'm frustrated with myself. I'm over a week behind on school work, and it turns out a week is huge for a Summer semester. I may withdraw from my Accounting and pre-calc classes after all, so I can focus on keeping decent grades in the other two classes, and try those again later when I have time to absorb the information, instead of trying to rush through it. I'll talk to admissions about it tomorrow.

The downside of struggling with the depressed state is that I feel I sabotaged myself. I know it wasn't intentional. Apathy is a bitch to fight while you are in the throes of it. But I wish I'd identified the seemingly huge contributing factor much more quickly than I did. Maybe I am demanding too much of myself right now. Maybe there is no shame in admitting partial defeat and scaling back a little. It will mean adjusting my timeline for graduation, but I'm ok with that.

I also applied for a job with a different company. It's as a receptionist, but in a medical environment, and it sounds as if there's much more involved than the mindless answering and directing of calls, and scheduling appointments. The upside would be it puts me closer to home, more central to where the children go to school, and closer to campus. I'm assuming their health insurance would be as good, if not better than my current employment, and insurance is the biggest reason I stay on where I'm at. The down side are the unknowns, meaning I don't know if it would mean a raise in pay, or comparable pay. I certainly hope so, and also I don't know what their flexibility in regards to family might be. I also don't know their view on supporting employees in continuing education. So we'll see. I don't know if I don't try.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Despondent

I've been exhausted today. If I'm honest with myself, I would admit that depression is sinking it's claws back into me, and that it may be time to talk to my doctor about an adjustment in the medication I'm taking to manage it. I'd hoped I'd found my sweet spot. It seems not, after slipping for a bit now. I'm apathetic about school, at this point feeling so far behind on homework for an abbreviated semester, that I'll never be able to salvage my grades. I want to withdraw. Yoga has been the only class I've felt I can actually give anything to. It helps, but it is not a cure. I feel I've set myself up to fail, and a voice in my head says I should just quit. Who am I trying to kid? I'm not as smart as everyone thinks I am, although I've done pretty well at faking it until I make it up to this point. I'm average, always have been. I'm not exceptionally smart. That has only been said to me out of kindness and encouragement. I excel at mediocrity. Faking it won't work here. Everyone else is too smart to buy it. That's what depression tells me anyway.

But now it's time to quit focusing on that voice, and to go do what I can, so I don't force myself into a corner on withdrawing from classes. My ambition has run dry, right along with motivation. Now I have to rely on my ability to muster some determination, and right now, I am so very tired. I feel utterly hopeless.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Work, Education, Diet, and Exercise


I am exhausted right now. Work has picked up, and is getting back to being as hectic as I was used to it being. Which I’m hoping is a good sign for the Wyoming economy. The truth of the matter is though, our state needs to diversify, instead of solely depending on the energy, cattle ranching, and tourism industries to generate revenue and jobs. But that’s a post for another time.

I have not been keeping up with homework this week. Being that the summer semester is condensed, I think I bit off more than I can chew. So now there’s the question of do I withdraw from a couple of classes, or push through? I never have much enjoyed the idea of quitting anything once started. But I still have to remember I am choosing to do this.

Yoga class seems to be my saving grace at the moment. Many days, today for instance, I don’t want to go. But once I am there, I enjoy it, and the resting moments at the end to simply relax after working and stretching all the major and micro muscles in my body, are priceless, and sanity preserving. I wish I could continue to take it alongside my other course work for the rest of school, as I do think it’s helping to keep me grounded.

I’m especially appreciative of it now, after a blood clot landed my 80 year old grandmother in the hospital this week. She’s doing ok, and they’ve moved her from ICU to a room. But she is 80, and has already lost her husband. I am not ready to lose my grandmother to a pulmonary embolism or anything else. Fortunately my Aunts and Uncles live close to her, and don’t mind calling in the cavalry to insist on seeing the doctor when it’s appropriate, no matter how stubborn she tries to be.

The culprit behind the clot was cited as inactivity. She spends a great deal of time sitting at a desk conducting genealogy research. My Uncle is going to make sure those long periods of inactivity are broken up, to prevent this problem from occurring again. And being that I seem to be developing a similar metabolism, and body structure to my grandmother, as well as working at a job that requires I sit at a desk for long periods of time, to then go home and do school work, all adds up to one conclusion for me. I need to stay active where I can to help mitigate those kinds of health problems in the future. Yoga fits the bill nicely. So after this semester I may see if I can work a class at a local studio into my budget and schedule.

I was also introduced to a meal planning service, called HelloFresh. I was gifted a free box this week, 3 meals for 2 people. So I made up all three last night so the family could sample them. It was a rave hit. So as part of my grocery budget I’m going to subscribe to it on the family plan. It’ll at least give me three nights a week where dinner is a no-brainer. All of the ingredients are fresh, and meals are put together by dieticians, to be healthy, as well as easy prep and cooking. It also saves me a few trips to the grocery store, which I hope will cut down on impulse buys. It seems expensive upfront, but really, we spend more money putting together that many meals with less nutritional value. Because by the time we get off of work, we’re too tired to try to come up with something creative for dinner, and default to the easy prep meals full of preservatives. For me, with the added pressure of trying to get homework crammed into the evening, the last thing I want to do is engage in mental gymnastics to keep everyone’s palates happy, while trying to get something halfway nutritious into them. Plus, the recipes are pretty easy to follow, and it can be a good tool for teaching the teenagers some cooking skills beyond ramen noodles and spaghetti. Then they can wow future partners with what looks and tastes like gourmet cooking, but is really rather easy.

 The kiddos are enjoying their summer, and we’re gearing up for Father’s Day weekend. Although I have a feeling tomorrow I will need to closet myself to knock out homework, so I can be available to the family on Sunday. Happy Father’s day to all of the dads out there. Hope it’s a good one.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Gently Sing

Poetry pours through my head,
I see and hear it in everything.
I find myself stuck in a broken moment,
Where all I can do is sing.

As good as things seem to be now,
The memory of the past can still sting.
Words are my only anesthesia,
And I only want to sing.

I'm scarred and bruised from battles past,
And tears accompany burst well-springs.
I find myself turning to beautiful ballad,
And I just want to let myself sing.

A few moments of comfort in trusted arms,
Sheltered under protective wing.
I'm able to release the pain of my heart,
Unburdened and able to gently sing.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Learning to Fly

It's a slow day today, after a hectic week. My middle daughter had an appointment with her Developmental Pediatrician yesterday afternoon. Those visits used to be laborious, and I often walked away from them feeling as if I could never possibly do enough for my child. Now she is articulate, and is learning to self-advocate. She relies less and less on me to give voice to her struggles, and is able to speak for herself. It makes me quite proud of her. At the moment, the Doctor recommended a slight increase in medication, and continued structure throughout the summer. It is the fewest number of recommendations tendered for treatment to date. All I can assume is that it means my daughter is maturing and progressing. I take such pleasure in seeing the young people my children are growing into. They are each amazing in their own way, and it is a privilege to be their mom. I take no credit at all for the amazing people they are. They've developed a majority of that for themselves. All I've done is keep them alive, and done my best to nurture them where I could.

Last night we had back to back end of year rewards ceremonies. The first for my Sophomore, now Junior daughter, who earned a silver star for her second year in her chosen academic program. The second was for my middle daughter's class, transitioning from middle school to become Freshman next year. I will attend a similar ceremony for my youngest son in about a year's time, and then there will only be High Schoolers in my home. It amazes me how quickly it has gone. Growing up took so much longer for me, as I recall, the relativity of youth.

My oldest son has found a place of his own, and has moved out. He seems happy to finally have his own space, and the energy in the home is certainly more relaxed already. I think all of us felt the strain of an additional person in the house, although it was certainly lower key than I've seen some other family issues where an adult child is stuck living at home with family. So maybe everyone can settle back into more of the routine they are used to, including him.

It's been a little over nine years now, since I left my last marriage. Some days it seems like it was another life, and I ask with amazement, is that all? Then there are days it feels so close, the mourning process for some reason re-booted unexpectedly, and I wonder to myself, has it really been that long? More and more it is the former rather than the latter, because of how fast and how much my children have sprung into young adults before my very eyes.

But the latter was prevalent last weekend as I spent time holding a newborn, and watching my friends as first time parents. It brought up so many memories, some wondrous and joyful, some painful, and some bittersweet. I did my best to focus on the wondrous and joyful, while privately working through the others. It was refreshing to see my friends as they both worked together on the care of their child. It made it easier to disconnect my experiences to a degree, and enjoy observing theirs.

But it also made me realize how painfully alone I was in parenting, even when the other parent was present, while the children were young. Being that I am adopted, I struggled without parents to tell me about the similarities between my children and me while they were babies. Now that they're older, my mom is able to happily point out their maternal genetics. But I had so much trouble seeing myself in them while they were little, which made it feel difficult to relate to them on some levels.

And as to the role my spouse at the time played, I met resistance and criticism on nearly everything, and received little support when it came to the day to day physical care. He was the fun one the kiddos got to play with. I was their glorified nanny, and any attempt to step outside that role was met with accusations of selfishness and lacking in maternal instinct. I resented it. Particularly because I was predisposed to believing the deck was stacked against me in being a decent parent to begin with, but I was determined to prove I could be anyway.

Being isolated from family and friends did nothing to help either. That was strikingly clear to me as I watched the requests flood in to visit my friends' newest family member. I realized after coming home, just how lucky I am that my other friend and I are counted as family, and were privileged to be among the first allowed to visit them without hesitation.

I realized I had little in the way of someone to tell me what was normal and what wasn't. I did not have a seasoned mother to tell me that anyone who tells you motherhood is instinctual is full of shit, because it's about learning your child, their cues and nuances, and adjusting to meet them where they're at on a daily basis. People seem to believe children are blank discs ready for the parent to program with good and bad manners, habits, education, etc. When actually a child comes with a pre-installed operating system complete with space to learn, and limiting parameters to what information they can accept and store, if you'll pardon the analogy.

I didn't have someone to tell me that it was ok that sometimes motherhood sucks, that people are judgmental asses, that your kids can be sadistic little brats, and that you will always wonder if you are doing enough for them, or if you're hindering them by doing too much. I didn't have someone to tell me that the flip side of that all exists too, that motherhood can be amazing, that people can be supportive, that your kids can be the most amazing people you've ever met, and that some days you know you've done your best, and that's just fine. But it's not either way all the time.

I didn't have someone to tell me that ultimately society holds mom responsible for the child, and that it is more acceptable for a father to walk away and wash his hands of the responsibility than it will ever be for a mother. All that knowledge came much later, after I spent a great deal of time beating myself up, shaming myself, and believing that I was a terrible woman and mother who should have never deigned to have children. It came after questioning whether or not I was the best person to take care of these tiny, now-not-so-tiny humans, or whether they would be better off if I were the one to walk away.

Now, my kids and I are all way too close to the finish line to be bothered with all that insecurity. We're where we are now, and we'll keep pushing forward. I'm content that I am raising capable, confident, and mostly well-adjusted young adults. As we near closer and closer to their time to leave the nest, I have no doubt of their ability to spread their wings and fly. I also have no doubt of their ability to pick themselves back up if they fall. That's the best I can hope to teach them. I think that's the best any parent can hope to teach their children.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Darker Path

Sometimes you read a piece written by another survivor that triggers you. It's not billed as "one of those" but the deeper you sink into the format, the language, no matter how veiled, it speaks to you plainly, because you understand the value of veiled phrases, and gently eloquent wording. This method of writing and speaking has become second nature. It is a means of discussing the horrific realities you have lived with in the past, without traumatizing the person you are sharing it with. Somehow it puts a smooth coating on the meaning to make the poison more palatable to ingest, sweetening the flavor, until their intellect fully processes exactly what it is you have said, and the horrifying comprehension of those soft and eloquent words blooms behind their eyes, too late to un-hear their truth. It is a piece not written for shock value, but as an alternate conclusion to the one you are living. You see yourself in it, and you see another path you might have chosen to travel, if not for serendipitous circumstance, and the championing support of other people in your life. As you think about it, you wonder if it is the need to project that recognition, which has you writing in a second person point of view.

Whatever it is, you have gone through several days of pondering life, and the very different paths everyone takes in it. You had the privilege of hearing someone else's truth, not sure what to do with the gift they gave, because it was a hard truth, and one that reflected pieces of yourself you would rather ignore. Indubitably, you mishandled this gift, offering advice and comfort where none was requested, unwittingly belittling the strength, independence, and wisdom the person offering has with which to cope with their truth. All they needed was for someone to hear it without shying away from it. You offered empathy, where no empathy was wanted. And when you received resistance, you shut down, uncertain what you'd done to aggravate the gifter.

You've been struggling with the need for something you cannot define, certain it can only be offered by someone you swore you would never reach out to. But what are you looking for? What are you seeking, that you haven't asked this person for before, and have never been granted? It involves risk, and anything involving risk requires boundaries. Do you know what yours are? Of course not. How could you, when you're not even certain what it is you want or need to begin with? Let it rest for now. You feel the press of time, lying to you that it is now or never. Let it rest. Do not rush into this decision blindly. It is not love, nor is it loss. Let it rest.
It occurs to you that this desire could be nothing more than self sabotage. You're way beyond that now right? Life is going so well. Let's test that theory, shall we? No? Well then let it rest. The timing is off, and the decision can wait.