Category: Family


(Apologies in advance: while this is the “short” version, it’s still quite long. >_> But, anyway, this is the post I mentioned on FB a couple of weeks ago, so a little bit is out of date [like the fact that I’ve been sick as hell for three weeks & counting].)

In August, I had a mental breakdown. This sounds incredibly dramatic, and I have been struggling with how to talk about it. I’ve written pages and pages of explanation of how I Dropped My Basket (which is what I’ve been calling what happened in August), and it is always so very long. Sometime this week, I realized that I could tell the story in pieces, that it does not all have to appear in one post. With that concept in mind (something that would likely be obvious to most people but was a true light bulb moment for me because it hadn’t even occurred to me), I am going to endeavour to try again.

I am beginning with dropping my basket, because it was a catalystic event for several things and certainly shapes where I am now. While I have not written a lot about it, people who know my family know that we have had a rough couple of years. The last eighteen months in particular have been pretty hard. A lot of it has been me. I’ve battled anxiety and depression most of my life; the last three years has seen a resurgence in prevalence of anxiety and a case of depression that I’ve not had for years. There are a lot of events that led into causing this and counting them all would take way more effort and time than I want to put into it. Like anything that happens with mental illness, it’s rarely one thing; it’s a puzzle.

To try to help you understand how hard this year has been, here are some examples of things that I was either not able to do or that would cause panic attacks or that would take days (or longer) for me to do:
– deciding what to eat (this question could literally be one of two or three decisions I could make in a day)
– leaving the house (for ANYTHING, be it for fun, for medical appointments, for simple errands)
– making phone calls of any kind
– talking to people (online, in person, etc.) There were literally days where talking to the three people in my house were too much for me, so anyone outside of it was outside the realm of consideration.

These are just some examples. The emotional roller coaster that I was (and am), is hard to describe. Rin has been a champion through all of this, and I’m still not sure how she handled all of it. If it were simply a case of handling my anxiety issues, it likely would not have been so thoroughly overwhelming, but life kept throwing us curveballs. There are several things that I will (hopefully) be exploring in more detail in the future, but I’m going to sum up some of what the end of 2014 & most of 2015 has had to offer:
– Last fall, I had an EMG that confirmed nerve problems in both of my legs. The diagnosis that resulted from that is idiopathic peripheral polyneuropathy (though it wasn’t completely confirmed until March 2015.) 

– Last November, I fell and injured myself enough it required an ER trip; that ER trip proved to be frustrating and required a follow up to my PCP. She was concerned at potential complications that can occur with neuropathy and falls, so she prescribed a medication (Neurontin) for me to try to help avoid both that complication and possibly help with pain issues. I started taking it, and it seemed to be helping. Seemed to be is the operative phrase.

There were complications with our family travel in Georgia in December including some family drama and me becoming incredibly sick. It delayed our return until early January (which caused a small bit of trouble at home, too, since people had been expecting us at Christmas).
January and February are largely a blur to me. Since the medicine seemed to be helping, I talked to Doc about increasing the dose. I started having more anxiety problems and a few other issues including thoughts of self-harm that made no sense (as in I felt like a passenger in my brain watching myself think these things). Since partially controlled pain can cause symptoms to be exacerbated (and in some cases can make them worse than before), after lengthy discussion between Doc, Rin, and I, we increased the dose again. This was a huge mistake. The worsening symptoms increased DRAMATICALLY, so much that I started to step back down to the previous dose immediately.

March saw me at the first appointment with the neurologist She agreed that if it was causing that much trouble I should definitely stop taking it. The catch was that I had to continue to dial it down which meant almost a full month of taking something that I KNEW was harming me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. This was not good on so many levels.

April is typically a rough month for me for a variety of reasons. It was complicated by some miscommunications with my therapist which just added to the stress. My baby girl turned thirteen which was less hard than twelve, but was a milestone for her.

May brought us news that Rin’s PawPaw was doing more poorly than he had been doing last we had heard. This brought some serious discussion between Rin and I about trying to travel down south to see him. We had aimed to leave in early June, but life intervened.

June had a check-in with Kero’s pediatric neurosurgeon at Riley. There was a small amount of growth in her cyst, but Dr. Smith was not overly concerned. She did however find some concern in the overall level of symptoms that Kero was showing, and she took our concerns about them seriously. We all agreed that it was time to start the testing process so that we could learn more. Sadly, the scheduling process became one of the stressors of the summer as there were miscommuncations between two offices, and a bunch of other issues. The first test wasn’t scheduled until October which was frustrating, but there wasn’t much to be done about it. June also had me seeing a new specialist, a urologist. This was incredibly stressful and led to my own tests being scheduled.

For the next two months, various crises kept popping into our lives. We kept trying to schedule a trip down south and kept having to reschedule it. Thankfully, we had agreed early on that we were only going to tell a couple of people to avoid any Issues. Of course, the downside of this was that no one realized that we were struggling with travel plans that much, but it would have been worse for all of us if everyone had been trying to make plans and kept having them rearranged. It was bad enough with Rin’s mom knowing (and she knew because we were staying there first.) Not Traveling has been an overall theme this year.

August was bad. The urologist testing was far worse than I had anticipated, and involved a lot of unpleasantness for both Rin and I. The first week after was largely me helping convince Rin that I wasn’t upset with her and helping her handle what had happened. (This was also me avoiding thinking about it and recovering because holy fuck that took all week.) Just over two weeks to the day, I Dropped My Basket. (I’ll come back to this in a bit.)

More travel plans failed. We missed DragonCon, we missed David and Catie’s wedding. (We’ve also now missed Samantha & Dustin’s wedding.) We missed several other things. In fact, off and on, we’ve been Trying to Leave for several months. A lot of it has just been small things piling up. A good chunk of it was anxiety on my part and Rin’s, and my breakdown certainly didn’t help THAT situation at all. So, now, we’re going to try again in a couple of weeks and hopefully make my cousin’s wedding. *fingers crossed*

*glances up the screen* That’s the short version. Really. I don’t think I could simplify it much more than that, but it’s necessary to give a picture of how I came to where I was in August.

We had been having a disagreement. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. In the middle of it, I quietly said, “I want to die.” This isn’t something that I would say lightly, and it almost started a fight on its own because she thought I wasn’t being serious. Then, when she did realize I was serious, there was a lot of hasty explaining to get to what I actually meant.

The truth was I didn’t want to die, I just wanted everything to stop. I wanted to not be overwhelmed all the time. I wanted to not be in so much pain all the time. I wanted to not be terrified of the entire world and everyone in it all the time. I wanted it all to stop, and in that moment, the only way I could think to make it stop was death. Exploring further led to a lot of sobbing (hours of sobbing) as I choked out everything that was blocked up in my head. By the time I was done, I felt emotionally wrung out and empty. I certainly had no idea what to do with myself, but there was a silver lining in all of this.

A lot of the things that I was sobbing about were things that I’ve been holding onto for years. They included coping mechanisms that were really not helpful or healthy. They included beliefs about who and what I am supposed to be according to pretty much everybody -but- me. By the time I finished dropping my mental basket and watching it shatter into pieces, I could see that a lot of what I had been holding onto with duct tape, fairy dust, and anything else that would hold it together was not the stuff I’d spent the previous eighteen months learning how to get better at. It was all the other stuff. So, by letting it all go, I was able to give myself a place to start again.

Unfortunately, that place was (and is) fragile as fuck. I am having to rebuild how I think about myself and how I look at the world. But, within a week of having my breakdown, I was able to look at my sometimes-therapist Tom and tell him that I felt BETTER than I had in ages. I was finding that I was able to process things a bit more clearly, I wasn’t cutting myself down all. the.fucking.time. which I pretty much had been prior to that point. Nothing was good enough. Nothing. Tom made me examine a few hard truths, and he told me something that I plan to explore in depth in its own post, but overall, I was able to see that hitting bottom was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, timing notwithstanding.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing since August: rebuilding. I have been taking the things that Kim taught me about mindfulness, and I have been taking the words of Jenny Lawson, Glennon Melton, Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and other writers like them to feed my spirit and my soul. I was finding more solid ground than I’d had in months, but at the same time, I was still struggling quite a bit. Aside from anxiety being a thing I’ve had for years, it is also a symptom of some of my chronic health issues, so it’s a double whammy. I’ve also learned that ADD can play merry hell with anxiety, too, so…triple whammy. It left me in a completely vulnerable, messy place.

In that place, though, I was able to genuinely consider a subject that my psychiatrist had been mentioning as a possibility for about a year. While he was not thrilled to hear that I’d been in crisis, he was pleased that it was getting better. He was also able to extrapolate that it was the irritability and other mood swings that were a problem, so he mentioned a mood stabilizer again. I was at first hesitant as I have been every time it has come up. In the last three years, I’ve had some pretty shitty experiences with trying new medicines, and the one early this year was pretty damn awful. I was not eager to jump back into medicine roulette, no matter how good an idea it might be. I also knew that I couldn’t take the most common mood stabilizer for reasons that I explained to him. He thought about and did some looking and realized that one of the newer medications in that class might actually be a good fit, both because it has the potential for starting at a very low dose, and it is listed as weight neutral. (I’m not going to talk about which medication it is because I try to avoid talking about active medications for…well, a lot of reasons. If I know you and you’re curious, feel free to ask. I might not answer, but feel free to ask.) Rin and I discussed it for a minute and decided to let him write the script with the caveat that I would not start it until after Kero’s EEG at Riley was done. (That was coming up about 5 days from my appointment.) The prescription was written, my refills were sent to the pharmacy, and off I went.

The Riley experience is DEFINITELY it’s own post, because it’s going to be long as hell because three days in a pediatric hospital breeds adventure. Or something. 😀 I ended up starting the medicine about a week later than planned, but I could tell a difference within the first three days. I refused to let myself get overly hopeful though. I was still too nervous. However, within the first week, I was actually able to go on errands with Rin. I didn’t have a panic attack before leaving or while we were out. We were at Menard’s picking up a couple of things for the car and the house, and I realized that not only was I NOT freaking out about being in public, I was actually ENJOYING myself and I was singing. It was…incredibly nice. We actually went several places, and then I was able to go out again the next day AND the day after that. (Going out of the house three days in a row was something that really hadn’t happened in awhile the Riley trip being the exception.)

Things continued to improve. I also had  A LOT  of guilt, because the clarity I was gaining and the emotional control I was gaining had me looking at Rin and frequently saying, “How the hell were you dealing with me?!” Thankfully, she helped me work my way through that. Since I started the new medicine, I’ve been able to reach out to people more – in text, anyway. The phone is still panic inducing I’m sorry to say. >_> I’ve been able to actually look at things on Facebook AND set limits for myself when I am becoming overwhelmed. I’ve been actually commenting on other peoples’ posts which I hadn’t been doing for awhile.

The biggest stressors have been Trying to Travel and handling the Teenager Dramaz. I also found out that my Grandmother has a small aneurysm and her sister died. It was incredibly upsetting, and still is. I am worried for her. And yet, I’m also terrified. Every day, I try to summon the courage to call and see how she is doing and every day, I fail at it. The phone is just too daunting and I have no bloody idea what to say, because, “Hi, it’s your crazy granddaughter who had a nervous breakdown this year and who is terrified of the telephone but wants you to know that she loves you anyway” seems a little crazy even for my level of acceptable crazy. So…I struggle.

For all that the medicine helps, it isn’t a magic wand. It hasn’t made everything all better and it’s not going to no matter how much I wish it were different. I keep being worried when I have a bad emotional day that I’m breaking the new medicine and Rin has had to talk me down from that one a few times. The biggest difference with those bad days though is that a) I notice it more quickly and can tend to stop the crazy spirals from becoming completely off the rails, b) I am more able to say, “Rin, I need help” in some variation on the sentiment, c) I am able to have a few minutes or an hour of being an emotional hot mess and then I’m able to balance again (sometimes anyway), and d) they aren’t EVERYSINGLEMOTHERFUCKINGDAY like they were before. So, there’s improvement there. A lot of it.

I’ve also been making the effort to feed my spirit with things that are encouraging. I save pictures I see on FB that have inspirational quotes. One day, I was having a bad day and I asked my friends to either tell me something amazing or show me something beautiful. Many people posted pictures. Since my phone has an S-pen which lets me write on the screen, I saved every single picture that people posted, and I wrote a note about who shared it and anything else that was relevant. I made myself those notes for the Bad Days. I think I might try this more often. I even made an album in my phone’s gallery called, “I Am Loved” and that’s where I saved those images. I am working at creating better habits. I am working at not letting the self-defeating anxiety monsters win, and I am working on trying to create new mantras in my brain to replace the negative mantras that I’ve lived with for years.

The most important thing is this: I am trying.

I am trying desperately to regain ground I’ve lost. I am trying to relearn healthier habits and I am trying to find new ways to manage both the changing things my body is doing (thank you so much neuropathy for adding to the “what will my body be doing today” game *headdesk*) and my mental health issues. One of those methods is talking about it. It’s actually helping, but more importantly, I want to show people that they aren’t alone. That’s why I finally decided to break up the monster update post (not that this is -short- by any stretch); by breaking it up, I will “let” myself write current things as well as cover other things more in depth. (Yes, I know. That sounds silly, but for some reason, I felt that having an update of where I’ve come from on my blog was important before sharing any new things. I just try to roll with the quirks in my brain…) Also, we will (hopefullypleaseuniverse) be traveling in a couple of weeks, and we’re going to be seeing people, and I’m going to be testing a lot of this new stuff during the holiday season which is…my worst time of year for anxiety probems anyway. I want people who see me to know that I’m a hell of a lot more fragile than normal right now. I’m also being a lot more honest than I have been in the past. Instead of playing down the type of pain I’m in or the type of day I’m having, I’ve been telling people the truth. (Or most of it. No one needs EVERY detail.) Hiding things like that is something that I do to “protect other people”, but it doesn’t protect anyone, least of all me. So, you know, if I’m having an awful pain day, I’m not going to try to hide it in the name of not upsetting other people. My theory is that the people who love me would rather know the truth anyway. No. That’s not my theory. That’s my sincere hope, a prayer, and something I am hesitantly counting on.

I also want people to understand that Rin is still doing  A LOT of taking care of me. I’m getting better at being able to do more for myself, but I’m still needing a lot of help. Don’t be shocked if I defer to her for most things; there are reasons for it and I’m not explaining all of them. Also, there are days where I just really cannot handle people well. People are scary, even people I love. Try not to take it personally if I’m really quiet or if I spend a day hiding in bed. It’s not you; it’s me. But…I’m trying and things are definitely better than they were in August.

I’m doing the best that I can. Please be gentle with me.

That tone of sheer frustration in your partner’s voice as she tells you that the child has left wet laundry for four days in the new washing machine…yeah, that sucks. The child is already in mega-trouble anyway, and this is just icing on the “Kero not taking personal responsibility” cake. I get that some of that is her age, and we do make allowances for some of it, but that certainly does not give her blanket permission to do nothing.

The current plan of action is a new one for us that hopefully will have results soon. While yesterday she did not do EVERYTHING that she was supposed to do (and she still refuses to come clean about what she was doing Friday while Rin and I had appointments that ended up including an unexpected trip to the hospital for more ankle x-rays which is irritating as all hell, because we’re pretty sure the answer is “fooling around with toys and pretty much anything but homework” as opposed to something egregious that might be considered “worth” lying about) she actually did do things she knows she is supposed to do every day without us coming behind her to remind her. This tells me that she is perfectly capable of doing so which means that the allowances we were making for her were largely unnecessary and have resulted in her being lazy because she can.

Hopefully, she will decide to be honest today (and perhaps try to have the conversation before bedtime unlike last night). I’d really like things to get back to normal and for her to not be in major trouble because it certainly does not make me happy, but I’m not holding out too much hope given how yesterday went in that regard. *sighs* Some days, I want to box her tween ears. The end goal of the current plan of action is Kero realizing that she needs to take responsibility for herself and her actions, including doing a GOOD job with her chores and her schoolwork, but getting to that goal might drive me nuts. I know we’ve made the right choice in what we are doing, but I’m just not happy about it because I HATE her being in trouble with a fiery passion. I know it is a part of mommyhood and I know it is best for her because obviously letting her get away with slacker work, lying, and no personal responsibility is good for no one, especially her, but I still hate, hate, hate it. It makes ME cranky and I feel like a big, mean jerk even when it is my job to be a big, mean jerk.

We remind her every time she is in trouble that we love her dearly and that is why we make the choices we make to correct her behavior. One time she said she felt like we didn’t care about her and I had to try not to laugh hysterically at her; I pointed out that if we didn’t care about her, we certainly wouldn’t be taking the time and the personal headache and stress of creating punishments that seek to correct behavior as opposed to being strictly punitive, and we wouldn’t give a crap if she had personal responsibility or took care of herself and we DEFINITELY wouldn’t be homeschooling her so that she can learn in a fashion that is better for her than being stuck in the standard cookie cutter mold of public ed. I went on to point out just how much I hate when she is in trouble and how even when she doesn’t necessarily see me being upset about her being in trouble doesn’t mean I’m not; in fact, the opposite is usually true. Thankfully, she actually understood the points that we made to her that day and hasn’t tried to make THAT argument again, and like I said, it is important to me to regularly remind her that even when we are very angry and very disappointed, we still love her. But damn if all of this isn’t frustrating as hell.

*sighs* She is largely a great kid and I know that, but because I know that she can be better than she’s been recently, I expect more of her. I know that she can successfully wash dishes without someone having to come behind her despite her not doing so since we were in Georgia. (And actually, this trip, she embarrassed the hell out of me because while previously she at least did a better job when helping with kitchen chores at someone else’s house than she did here at home, this time, she put a very obviously filthy pot into the dishwasher at Megan and Chad’s. Even worse was the fact that it was a pot with ramen noodles, so the entire load had to be rewashed before I could use anything out of it because she basically gluten contaminated the entire load. And frankly, the fact that she normally would do better at other folks’ houses is one of the reasons I know she should be capable of doing so at home.) I know she is better than the work that she has been doing; I totally understand that chores are boring and no one likes to do them, but they are also a necessary part of life. I also know that journal writing isn’t her favorite thing to do, but being able to write about events and her thoughts and feelings is something that she needs to be able to do. Plus, it is part of the homeschooling record that Rin and I keep, so it is necessary work in that regard as well.

What makes a lot of this even more frustrating is that since we’ve been home, we have been making a lot of allowances for her with some of her work. We have put most of her schoolwork on hold so she can finish her trip journal by 1 June, and we have even been letting her out of some of that work time so she has had time to go play with her friends outside, several days for 3+ hours. We basically have been trying to make her life easier and we have been repaid with sloppy work and lies which has gotten her super-duper grounded from pretty much everything. And since she has proven that at present she is no longer responsible enough to stay by herself for a few hours, something that she has been doing in increasing increments for five years now, she is going to have to haul her work with us to the MRI center on Tuesday and do her work in the waiting room while I’m having that done which will likely be super uncomfy for her given that she usually likes to sprawl herself and her work out at home. However, that is what happens when you can’t be trusted to work on your own. Of course, it also makes things more irritating for Rin and I because we now have to haul her everywhere with us again until she can regain some trust, but that is just how it is going to have to be. Obviously, there is also concern about the quality of her work but given what she did with the time she was here by herself Friday, I don’t see how it could get much worse. (Logically, I know it can, but it is going to take some effort on her part and that will come with its own extra consequences.)

If she doesn’t get herself straightened out soon, she is going to miss out on a lot of things and frankly, she is making us both wonder if she actually IS ready for an almost two week long camp. Some of the behaviors she has shown in the past two weeks are all on the “not ready for camp” list that Camp G. sent including not properly taking care of her hygiene. (I’m going to leave out the details both to avoid embarrassing her and to avoid grossing anyone out because that isn’t cool, but it was pretty epically not good and actually unusual for her.) I want her to be able to go to camp, but I don’t want to spend the money and then have to go pick her up because she isn’t doing what she is supposed to. They certainly aren’t going to come behind her and make sure she does every step of every activity she is supposed to, and they will send her home if she isn’t doing what is required of her. I just don’t want to waste the money if she isn’t going to take responsibility for herself. At present, she is still registered, but her actions in the next few weeks before we have to pay the rest of her camp fee will be the determining factor.

I wasn’t going to post about any of this because…well, a lot of reasons, but the washing machine frustration was a bit too much and was one point too many for me to not try to process some of it. I decided to share it because I know folks who have kids in similar age brackets, and I know that sometimes, when people only post about the good things that kids do, it can feel like you’re on an island when your kid is being a jerk. (And face it, all kids can be giant jerks from time to time.) So, if your tween is being a total pain in your bum know that you’re most definitely not alone. If you need to vent, feel free to do so in the comments. Also, if you have any tips on getting kids to tell the truth that don’t involve smacking their heads into a wall (obviously not a good plan) or washing their mouth out with soap (really, really, really bad for you with soap these days and also not very effective beyond being rage inducing), feel free to leave a note in the comments.

I know that in the long run, taking these steps to show her natural consequences of her behavior will pay off, but right now, when we’re in the middle of the battle, I can’t help but wonder just how far away “the long run” is.

Twelve

In a little over an hour (though this post will appear magically one minute before you were born because technology), you’ll magically be twelve. I’m finding it a little sad tonight, as mommies are prone to do when we sit down and think of our babies and how fast they grow. This time twelve wyes ago, I was being prepped for the emergency c-section that would put you in my arms. I can still remember how cold the operating room was and how very weird it felt to be lain out, crucifixion style on a table, while doctors and nurses gathered around my swollen belly to set you free of the womb you didn’t want to leave.

I remember my first glimpse of you, even as drugged out as I was. Your eyes were my favorite shade of purple and your little ears were at their most elfin in that moment. You were amazing and I couldn’t wait to hold you even as my heart tripped with fear at the thought of someone handing me a little being to care for. I can still catch a hint of that brand new baby smell of you if close my eyes and think hard enough…and sometimes, I can still smell it on you when you’re very tired and need hugs. It could be there or it could be a trick of a Mama’s brain that says “you still need me, baby girl”; either way, it is one of the more magical smells I know.

You constantly amaze me now, even as you did then. I never quite know what to expect from you, and you learn things in such interesting ways sometimes that it certainly leaves me guessing. Sometimes I fret that I’ll never get you past some of your more frustrating tendencies, but most of the time I am able to stop and realize that most of those tendencies are normal and that coaxing and nudging and dragging you along whether you want it or not does eventually make changes. But I also see you put together some of the most mature thoughts in ways I know you’ve not heard either of your mothers say to you and it leaves me almost breathless at the magic of it all. Your brain – a brain that I helped give life to – makes some of the most beautiful connections, and it is a gift to watch you grow and learn, even when you’re being a pain in my tush.

I remember holding you against me when you were a baby and wondering what you would become, what your voice would sound like, what your laughs would sound like. I love to hear you laugh, especially when something strikes you as so genuinely funny you can’t help but to laugh. It is a magical sound and one of my favorites in the world.

I also love your facial expressions. I never imagined you would manage to become so much more expressive as a tween than you were as a toddler, because you made some pretty epic faces then, and yet, you manage to surpass those early facial expressions that could be both comedic and exasperating on an almost daily basis. Your face tells so many stories even without words to go with them and I love that about you.

I love that you still call me “Mommy” and I’ll be okay with it if you want to do that forever. I know that at some point, you’ll likely be too “grown up” for it and I will sigh wistfully and do as other mothers do, but for now? I cherish each “mommy” as special.

I love that you love to learn and I love to watch you and your other Mama go on educational forays on random subjects. You both become so engaged in what you’re doing and I sometimes just sit back and watch, not so much listening to what you’re talking about, but instead focusing on the way you interact with each other with excitement and curiosity. It is incredibly amusing when you both get so excited about a topic that you manage to sound like little kids, eager for more, without either of you realizing you’re doing it. Sometimes, I want to video tape those conversations for you both to see later, but I know that as soon as I pull out the camera, some of the spontaneity and magic will be lost, because you’ll both be adorably self-conscious, so for now, those moments will have to remain mine to cherish and remember without mechanical intervention, because I wouldn’t want to crush that magic for anything.

Eleven has been hard, I know. You had a lot of losses in the last year and it is something that we have all been working on together. Losing people or pets is never easy and losing several in one summer is even harder. I have been so proud of how you have started to embrace the idea of writing things down when you’re upset and how the memory of Lain and Grandpa Dave dying aren’t hitting you near so hard. I know that memories of those gone before us can sneak up on you at the most random times and it can be frustrating and painful. I’m so glad that you come to Rin and I when it happens so we can talk it out and give you hugs and let you know that the world will be okay again.

The light always returns.

I also know that things have been stressful the last few months with so many new health things cropping up for me and with trying to get so many things done at home (for the house and for school). I also know that the beginning of this trip started more stressfully than anyone anticipated and I’ve been so proud of how you’ve handled it, both by offering comfort to Rin in the face of losing her aunt and also in how you’ve shown maturity in the things you’ve written on the other subjects. You keep making me blink a bit owlishly as I wonder where this new level of empathy and understanding are coming from, and yet I marvel at it as well because I know I’ve seen bits and pieces of it before as I watched you work through other things. Those times were all bits and pieces though, so to see the whole picture come together is pretty amazing…and I know it will never stop being amazing to me.

I have no idea what Twelve will bring. I know that in homeschool, the subjects will become more tricky as we work past the basics into more difficult concepts. I know that your independent streak will likely grow and I know that there will be head-butting because of it, for this is the way of parent and child. I know that I can’t wait to find out even as I want to take things so very slowly sometimes.

Eleven had its ups and downs, but it was nice to see you change and grow (though you could slow down a little on the “growing” part, kiddo, cause pants are expensive, ya know) into a new version of you. I’m sure Twelve will be similar (complete with more pants if I have any guesses about how you’ve been eating this week), and I marvel at what new things you’ll do to amaze me this year.

No matter what, no matter how hard things become, no matter how frustrating you become, what I do know for sure is this: I love you a little more everyday and that will never change. You changed my life when you were born kiddo, and I naively thought that would be the only time. Twelve years of you have taught me that you change me on a regular basis. I strive to be a better person for you because I want you to be an awesome person. I strive to be a better person for you because I want to be the me I see in your eyes and I want to be the person you believe I am. You teach me things (sometimes annoying ones, like how creative I have to be to convince you to do your work) constantly and I’m okay with that because learning is good and it means we’re learning together.

Here’s to Twelve. Your Moms are both super proud of you and can’t wait to see what happens next. For now, though, I’m going to give myself a few more minutes to think of the wee baby you were on that oh-so-long night twelve years ago so that when I wake up tomorrow and meet Twelve, I’ll have hopefully gotten most of my stealthy sniffles out.

Hello, Twelve. I love you more than words can say.

As might be obvious in a moment, I started this post on FB, intending to just make a quick, slightly whiny post and go back to what I was doing. It ended up turning (at least somewhat) into a post I’ve been trying to write for a week.

What’s on my mind, FB? Too much to actually process apparently. I keep getting distracted so easily that I can’t even remember what I was doing two minutes ago, which is basically the LAST thing I need tonight. I’m trying to finish getting my things together for this trip of insanity because I keep stopping in the middle of that to help someone else or just to stare at the wall.

While I can objectively step back and realize that the week delay in leaving has been an overall net good (we’ve had more time to get better, we’ve managed to get some of the work done in the house that we’ve not been able to for awhile from a combo of necessity/prednisone/packing chaos, and Rin’s glasses FINALLY came in this morning), it is also a point of frustration because we had a sort-of schedule and it obviously needs changing now. And, objectively, I know that’s okay. The people who that schedule change is going to affect already know and have been in contact and they keep telling us to calm down and not worry so much (which is helpful and more appreciated than they likely know), so basically, fretting over it is a by-product of my brain being unkind to me as opposed to something to truly be concerned about. I also logically know that I’ve known from the minute we started talking about this trip that it was going to have to be approached differently from normal. There were going to have to be allowances made for a body (mine) that is doing new and interesting things in the name of fuckery and I knew that I was going to have to make allowances for the brain changing work I’ve been doing and to remember to be compassionate with myself despite my frustration.

But all of that falls into the “logical” portion of my brain that I can look at from a distance. The “emotional” part of my brain seems to be running around like a three year old in a tantrum, throwing out phrases like, “I can’t do this,” “this is stupid,” and “let’s go hide under the covers; they’ll never find us there.” I’m tired despite having slept for a good chunk of last night and today (not that tired is a new state, because it seems to be the norm). I’m in pain because my joints are are being cranky and *glances at clock* it’s likely time for more medicine and I just want to scream about it but all that would do is make my head hurt and not actually solve any problems. I’m having a night where I want to have a stompy fit and rage about how “unfair” it all is as though somewhere along the way I was promised fairness which is absurd and most of the time that phrase isn’t even one that I tend to think let alone give voice to, because life isn’t fair and everyone should know that. But tonight, apparently, with the worst timing possible, my brain seems to be clinging to the need for fair as though it were an option.

I’ve obviously been pretty quiet the last few months. There’ve been reasons, some better than others. A lot of it has been the simple fact that I’ve not had much energy for dealing outside of my small part of the world. Health issues have been the name of the game since before October when my gallbladder started going rogue and they haven’t slowed down since. Since October, I’ve spent chunks of at least 3 months dealing with medicines that were causing horrible side effects and the withdrawal from those same medicines in the name of finding something that worked better. Two of those were for ADD which was incredibly frustrating because I really just wanted my old medicine back. I’m on a new med for that that is mostly helping so long as I remember to take it super early in the day and understand that it just isn’t as good as Old Medicine was. One of those was me humoring my doctor. Since I was having trouble at the first dose of  New ADD Medicine, and since I have pain issues, she wanted me to try Wellbutrin because it theoretically works well with the other medicine. I hate most medicines in the family that Wellbutrin falls into. I’ve had shitty luck with a lot of them and have managed to not take any of them since I stopped taking them about ten years ago because they just don’t do good things for me. But, time does change things and she put the choice in my hands, from the start of the medicine to the parameters for stopping if necessary, so I agreed to try it. I figure if she’ll work with me, I should work with her.

I tried it.

It was a very failed experiment, one that we didn’t realize all of the repercussions of until after I stopped taking it. It was actually making me sick (like with laryngitis sick), so we figured that some of the side effects the medicine was causing were just me having a cold. A few things culminated in the realization that, no, the medicine was responsible, and also, the utter numb/lack of caring about anything was a HUGE problem. So. I stopped taking it. And had almost a week of withdrawal issues followed by issues that I am STILL sorting back out. You see, one of the things I’ve been doing in therapy is learning how to deal with emotions as they come as opposed to shoving them into boxes either because I don’t want to deal with them/don’t have time to deal with them/can’t deal with them. This involves a new level of vulnerable living that is taking some adjusting to. It means that for the last six months, my emotions have been a bit…raw…at times while trying to sort where some of those bad habits came from and while working with myself to fix them. And in the last three months, I’ve been able to stop and pinpoint exact places where the therapy is working, that the mental ass kicking I’m doing is working, and that this is a Very Good Thing. And that is GREAT. Seriously. But.

But…

The Wellbutrin that I took for ten days turned me into an emotional zombie. I didn’t feel anything, didn’t care about anything, and didn’t really understand how much of a change it was making. I saw that I was having trouble making decisions, that I was having trouble writing, that I was having trouble knitting, and basically, was just Having Trouble. The big moment of “oh shit” came the night before a brain MRI. While I won’t say that I should have been freaking out over it, let’s say there should have been some level of concern and care involved. I didn’t. Rin was able to then realize that I had gotten myself stuck on something that Dr. L had said and had turned it into a Rule That Had to Be Followed. (In this case, she’d wanted me to try the medicine for two weeks, but it was never, “you HAVE to try it for two weeks”.) She took the medicine away and recovery started. Within 16 hours, my voice was almost back to normal. Thirty-six hours later and it was perfect again and ya’ll, I just don’t recover from laryngitis that fast. Within two days, I was so overwhelmed by my own brain that I wasn’t sure what to do and so it went.

Why am I writing all of this? I sure as hell don’t necessarily want to admit all of this. I don’t really want to stand up and say, “Hey, yeah, so I’m incredibly vulnerable right now and I’m learning how to be a better me and that means needing some extra space and care from other people,” because anytime you put a sentence like that out there, there are so many opinions you can get from the absurd (“you just need more self-control”) to the painful where someone sees that admission and decides to run over your boundaries anyway. It means standing up and saying, “I’m delicate” and waiting to see what happens next.

And yet, part of being able to stand up and say that is some of what I’ve been working on. Not hiding everything, not pretending to be something I’m not (which includes pretending to be “okay” when I’m not), not locking everything inside to maybe deal with later is all a part of this process. And some of it I was working on before I walked into therapy. By reading people like Glennon and actually taking the words she writes to heart, I’ve been working on this for months. Therapy is just adding to the groundwork I’ve already started and it has given me tools to build a better foundation. I like words, and that is one of the biggest things that my therapist has given me actual words to combat the things my brain likes to do. Mindfulness is helping me a helluva lot and that is also a good thing. Being able to stop and look at the things in my head and say, ‘Okay, you’re trying this old bad habit but I’m not going to let you” or even, “Okay, I’m going to give you two minutes to be Prophetess of Doom and Gloom, but then you’re going to stop and move on” is a huge help for me.

I just also feel fragile. A lot. Rin has been doing so much to help with all of this. She goes to therapy with me every week so that I can actually walk in the door. She helps me remember things (good and bad) that I forget through the week so that I can tell Kim about it. She helps put me back together when the world is too overwhelming, she drags me out of the house when she realizes I’m just hiding behind fear instead of a legitimate reason, and she basically, all around takes care of me. At varying points in the last six months, both because of my brain chemistry and because of all of the other health problems, she’s basically been supporting me so much that I don’t know what I’d have done without her. She helps me make decisions when I get stuck on little things. Hell, there are days she finds me something to wear when even that seems too overwhelming. (Did I mention just how bad some of the medicine side effects were at varying times?) She helped take care of me post-surgery recovery which I’m sure was a ton of fun, because after four weeks, I got more than a little whiny.

One of the frustrating points in all of this is that it feels as though I’ll find a point of balance and then something else comes and yanks that from under my feet. I’ll find a medicine combo that works and then stops working, so I need something new. Or, my body will do something new and creative (read: generally terrifying) and it’s time to reevaluate again. Her and Kero both are a constant source of help in all of this (though, Kero, obviously is less involved in the exact details of everything going on; she’ll get details like, “Mom’s having a bad reaction to a medicine” but not the specifics of what and why and she also doesn’t know about the quest for MS because she doesn’t need to worry about it; she knows there are tests but not necessarily what they are for and I need it to stay that way). Balance is something I crave which is pretty hilarious to me because a lot of times, I’m just…not great at it. It has been particularly frustrating with some of the new symptoms (or in most cases worsening of other symptoms) because I’ve not been able to pull my magic tricks of “okay, if this happens, then I can do ‘x’ to make it easier” because there’s not a lot you can do about suddenly falling over for no reason and there’s not a lot you can do when your limbs decide to just ignore the fuckin’ signals your brain tries to send to them. You just grit your teeth and get through it, and that sucks because I want a solution.

Kim often tells me that I’m a very logical person and I’ve finally stopped laughing at her. After spending a lot of my life hearing people tell me how illogical I am, it’s nice to see that the things I try to do to cope are actually pretty darn logical after all (even some of the unhelpful ones though obviously, there’s room for improvement). Searching for a new and somewhat terrifying diagnosis isn’t logical. MS is not logical. Part of me wants it to be that, not because I desire to be ill, but because I AM ill and I want an answer. Ten years of “it could be blah” is wearing on a girl and this could be an answer that makes a lot of things make sense. However, it is also terrifying. It means an entirely new playbook and some of the plays in that book are downright frightening. The thought that I’ve built my castle on though is that it either is or it is not; therefore, I keep going. Curling up in the corner in fear won’t change it and if these new symptoms are going to become part of the “normal fuckery”, then there’s nothing to do but learn how to handle them. It just takes time and patience and a lot of grace, and a whole lot of being willing to ask for help. To top all of it off, the neuro I was sent to has basically done everything wrong in terms of helping me sort this out, up to and including CANCELLING the spinal MRI that was on the calendar because they decided they wanted it done somewhere else and failing to call me and telling me that they cancelled it. Needless to say, I need a neuro. At the same time, it also means that some of the things I was expecting to have going into this trip I just don’t have. I don’t have the reassurance of the image of my spine to see what is or is not there. It just couldn’t happen. So, it became one more place that this trip had stressful parts.

Planning was another area that things had to change. So often, I tend to put everyone’s needs ahead of mine during trip scheduling. I try to make sure that everyone gets at least some time and I try to make sure that Rin gets to do the things that she wants to do and that Kero gets to do most of what she wants to do and if there’s time at the end, I do some things I want to do. (Which, for clarity, does not mean that I do not want to do the same things that they do. What it does mean is that while I DO enjoy those things, I also don’t tend to schedule trips/visits that are more for me than for anyone else. It means I make sure that I try to please everyone else without taking time to sort in what I -need- in the middle of it all.) I knew from the start of conversations about “impending GA trip” that I couldn’t do that this time. I couldn’t be the one to make the decisions about who we saw when, when we went where, and how to put it all together. I told Rin and I half begged her to be in charge of the calendar. She’s very magnanimous and simply told people that it was a joint decision, but since I’m already spilling my guts in a vulnerability storm here, I’ll admit that I begged her to do it and to not make me do it unless she absolutely had to.

That change has been amazing. It means that I’ve been able to help plan without worrying about this person’s feelings or that person’s feelings or this person’s schedule or that person’s schedule and could instead focus on the actual goals of the trip. Stepping back from it also gave me the space to say, “There are a couple of things that we’ve put off the last couple of trips and I’d really like to not do that this time, even if it means upsetting someone else.” At least one of those things is on the calendar and the family whose house we are visiting because of that request honestly has NO idea just how over the moon excited I am about that part of the trip; in fact, that visit has been one that I’ve been able to hold onto at the worst moments of “omgicannotdothiswhyamieventryingtodothisicannoticannoticannot”. It has basically taken a ton of responsibility off of my shoulders and has let me be part of the process without being in charge of it and that is amazing. It was also a somewhat risky decision.

Despite eight and a half years together, there are times that people like to discount the relationship that Rin and I have and her role in both my life and in Kerowyn’s life. I weighed the risks and found the benefits far greater. After all, a key part of that sentence is “eight and a half years”. If someone hasn’t come to the conclusion that Rin is my partner and Kero’s second mother, then they likely aren’t going to magically do so now; therefore, the best course of action was not what was good for everyone else, but what was good for us as a family. In fact, many decisions about this trip were made with that exact discussion. Something Kim frequently reminds me of is that I’m not responsible for how anyone else feels or thinks; I can’t make them think a certain way. I CAN present information and give them room to make a choice, but I cannot make them make a choice. The only person whose choices I have complete control over is me and I have to make decisions that I can live with later. Thus, a second layer of decision making for this trip came with conversations about, “what choice will you be able to live with an hour later, a week later, a month later?” It is a question that has come up several times and is one that stays with me because it is important. I can only make decisions for me and I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.

Does it suck to upset other people? Oh sweet gods, yes.

Do I hate upsetting other people? More than you could possibly realize.

Am I growing up enough to understand that I can’t please everyone, no matter how hard I try? Yeah, I finally am.

I’m basically writing this all as a giant torrent of words as opposed to the organized thing I’d been considering writing before. I even wrote an outline for that complete with a timeline about when meds were wonky and what other things were going on, but every time I tried to write that, I failed. I think, perhaps, I just need to keep going with the giant torrent of words and hope that people will care enough to follow my rambling brain all the way to the end. (With a secondary hope that after I finish this monster post I started an hour ago, I’ll be able to focus more on other things.)

Everybody changes. It is a simple fact of life. Some people change for the better, some for the worse, and frankly, everyone’s opinion about which is which can vary. I’ve been doing a lot of changing in the last few years, but especially in the last few months. In some ways, it is making me a much better me. I’m becoming more forgiving of myself and my flaws, of the “weakness” that I constantly feel because I can’t just “pull myself up by my bootstraps” or “use more self-discipline” to solve my problems. I’ve become better at acknowledging that everyone has feelings, lots and lots of feelings, and that the real difference is simply in how a person lets those feelings work in their life. I’ve always been an emotional person and empathic sometimes beyond desirability; I’ve also spent a large chunk of my life trying to fix everyone else because I thought it made -me- a better person. The reality is that while helping other people is admirable, you can’t fix someone else – they have to do that themselves. Also? At some point, you have to stop trying to fix everyone else and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care is not my strong suit, but it is something that I am HAVING to become better at because if MS is what I have (and realistically, even just for the diagnoses I already have), I need to practice self-care all the time, not just when it is convenient, even if my need for self-care makes someone else unhappy.

I’m learning how to make boundaries, both for myself and outside of myself. I’m learning how to come to the point that I can see that doing thing in small bits, while annoying, is better long term than simply throwing myself into things. I’m learning to see that if reading an upsetting article or ten is a problem for me on a certain day, I can and need to walk away from them. The world will still have problems whether I read the article or not. I’m learning to say “no.” This one is hard because as people, we don’t want to make others unhappy, and yet, sometimes, ya have to say, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” Oh man do I have a battle with this one. It’s why a lot of times I depend on Rin to be my second back-up, to be able to say, “No, you’ve done enough” and to also help me realize what I have accomplished when my brain says, “That’s not enough, you need to do more.”

I’m learning to love myself. The real me. The one I live with every day, as opposed to the idea of me that other people want me to be. This is also hard. Gods, is it hard. “Who am I?” is a question I ask often, but the difference is that of late, the question has an answer more often than it doesn’t. Mindfulness therapy is helping me find the things that are important to me and showing me how to make those the things I build my mental and emotional image on instead of building it on some concept of expectation. I can look at my non-traditional family and I have no shame, because there is nothing shameful to be found. There are three consenting adults in this house who keep their private lives private just as most adults do in houses with kids. There is a healthy almost twelve year old who has two moms who love her to pieces and who are doing everything in their power to grow her into a well-rounded person while embracing all of the things that she loves and nurturing those things, offering guidance when she needs it, and who will, hopefully one day, finally convince her to wash dishes correctly. *headdesk* Does my family resemble what some people call traditional? Nah. Am I okay with that? Oh yeah. Why? Because it works for us.

I have more support from my partner in this relationship than I have ever had in any of my “traditional” relationships. Ever. And while I will be the first to tell you that I never thought I’d fall in love with a girl (cause, face it, boys are nice), it doesn’t change the validity nor the strength of love I have for the woman who is both best friend and partner. I also can’t think of anyone else who would be helping me do as good a job raising my kid than Rin does, and Kero tends to be priority number one for me. I also know that a lot of times, I let people brush over our relationship as “less important” for its non-traditional status and I’ve realized how much that has hurt me and my family. Kero, if you ask her what she thinks about having two moms, will tell you that she loves it and has no desire to change it. She oft wonders why anyone would have a problem with it because it doesn’t make sense to her. Don’t believe me? Ask her about it sometime and she’ll tell you she’s happy. Know how I now? Because we talk to her about it and we ask her how she thinks and feels because that’s important.

I understand that there are people who don’t agree with non-traditional relationships and I firmly believe they have the right to that belief. What I do not believe is that their belief has the right to impinge on the validity of my relationship, my expectations for how my partner should be treated, or how I personally feel about my relationship. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, but those rights should stop when they begin to impinge on someone else’s. For the most part, this isn’t a huge issue, but given that it is something that I’ve become more solid on in the last few months, finally not listening to the voices that say, “you’re wrong” and instead listening to the evidence in front of me that says that my family is pretty damn awesome and I’m quite happy even with all of the health chaos, I feel it is worth nothing. Rin is my partner and as such is involved in decisions I make. Period. Rin is Kero’s second parent and is involved in decisions that Kero is a part of. Period. There are no exceptions for this, nor should there be.

Something else that I’ve come to understand about myself is that I’m broken…and I’m okay with that. Glennon at Momastery talks about how brokenness is actually something to cherish because it means living without trying to be perfect and it means accepting all of the pieces of yourself and inside those pieces finding what you can use to make the world a better place. I still struggle with this one sometimes, but most of the time a simple re-direct from Rin helps to ease me back toward my belief that broken is not equal to bad. Sometimes, it takes more than a gentle reminder and she points out how pots are repaired in Japan with gold to show the cracks and how they add to the worth and value of the piece, even when they change it from its original state. Broken is not equal to bad and broken can even be sacred. I’m not going to find a magic cure for ADD or for anxiety or for fibro/CFS or for MS if that is what the eventual diagnosis is. Those are all parts of who I am. I could spend time fighting against them, hoping that they will magically get better, or I can be a realist and understand that this is the way things are and work within those parameters. But to choose to work within those parameters means acknowledging each of those things and making allowances for them, even when they are annoying. It means stepping back and realizing that barreling through something won’t make things better in the long run even if they help in the short term and thus deciding which choices are best at x time. It also means living with the understanding that, now more than even early on in all of this chronic illness bull shit, it changes from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. Right now, I go from “okay” to “oh fuck me now” very quickly. (One example, I’m not tolerating heat at the moment hardly at all. I start to get hot and I have to try to fix it quickly or else it becomes overwhelming and nauseating.) When your body constantly makes you live by the seat of your pants, you have the choice to dance with it or fight upstream against it. Since bouts of fighting upstream haven’t worked so well, and since between some of the writers who have spoken to my soul of late and Kim and especially Rin in her quiet vigilance have helped me to see that I DO have the strength to do more than just swim along, I figure it’s time to change my dancing shoes.

Do I still get frustrated? Oh sweet baby Jesus, yes. Constantly. But instead of letting that frustration eat away at me, I acknowledge it as a thing and then try to move forward. Sometimes, just saying, “okay, I see you” is enough. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes I want to throw a full body fucking stompy fit that puts the biggest diva three year old to shame. That’s just part of the dance, I think. So, even on the path toward more enlightened thinking, I still stumble and still need reminders.

Do I fail? Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhhahahahahahahahahahahahhahah

*coughs*

Um, yes. I fail. Sometimes every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. But instead of letting that failure define the rest of the day, I try to only let it define the moments surrounding it. This is another lesson I’ve learned from Glennon (and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, you should totally read Glennon at Momastery because she basically speaks my language so, so much and so many times she writes things that leave me saying, “Omg, yes, I could write that same thing” and while our past backgrounds are much different, the way she thinks about things now is so, so helpful to me some days and yes, she is awesome and you should read her). Anyway, she wrote a post called Don’t Carpe Diem and it sings my language. Instead of trying to seize every moment of every day and make it “good” (whatever the fuck good actually means), she instead encourages people to seize the moments inside the day that help you find peace. For her, it is seizing kairos, or “God’s time” which is basically the time outside of chronus where God shows you He exists. Since my definition of God is a bit broad, I tend to insert “Creator” and move on because it works for me. The goal is basically to stop expecting yourself to make every moment magical because no one can successfully keep up with that and striving to do so just sets you up for failure.

This is an area that Rin and I both have been working on because both of us have had the bad habit of letting one bad thing ruin an entire day, even when that thing was disproportionate to the rest of the day. We were cutting each other to pieces doing this and finally have started to manage not to do so. We’ve managed to work on being able to take things as they come and accepting that shit happens and then moving on. It doesn’t always work, but I can tell you it has dramatically cut down on the number of hurt feelings about one or the other of us inadvertently crushing a day for the other. It also helps keep me sane. Not expecting myself to be perfect and happy and good every single moment has been a huge life saver. It’s been part of accepting feelings as they come and learning how to properly react to them (and “properly” here means “for me” as opposed to necessarily what works for someone else). Carpe Kairos is one of my snippet mottos (I have a list; I’ll share them with you!) that helps me get through days and stressful moments.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not the same person I was six months ago, a year ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago. I’ve changed. I am still so very flawed because who is not, but I am working on those flaws and working to have less of them. I’m also working on becoming better at admitting when I’m wrong and being able to apologize and move forward instead of sticking to the unhelpful “but I want to be right” mentality that got me in trouble a lot as a teenager. I’m trying. I’m imperfect and broken and I am sick and there is no denying any of that nor is there really any changing it. I do the best that I can and right now, I am so gods darned fragile that it scares the hell out of me. No, seriously, it does. I want to be “strong” and yet, I really don’t, because the definition that I have of “strong” for myself is flawed. So I’m learning that in being weak, vulnerable, and broken, there is strength. In acknowledging that I can’t do everything, there is strength. In being able to sit and write this out, to admit that I am walking into this trip more vulnerable than I have ever been, there is strength. Inside that admission is a request for gentleness and compassion (but note it is not asking to excuse poor behavior, because if I’m being a whiny punk, I don’t want someone to accept that because #vulnerable) and the understanding that I am trying, some days so hard that I can’t even put the trial into words. Some days, Rin cheers me on when I make it from bed, to the bathroom, to the living room, because some days I need even those absurd baby steps praised. There is also peace in all of this, peace that I’ve not had about this trip since we started talking about it. For the first time in the last two weeks, I’m not dreading leaving the state. (And I don’t want people to read this and think that I didn’t want to see them, because it is pretty much the opposite of that. It’s just that people are hard and feelings are hard and it is totally possible to want to see someone and wish that you could do it from four states away to protect your fragile heart, is what I’m saying.) I am broken and vulnerable and oh, so scared right now. There are so many unanswered questions in the balance and there are still many miles to go before most of those questions are answered. I’ll answer questions that I can, but I ask that you not become upset if I say, “Not right now” or if I direct you to Rin and let her do the explaining (especially since I know for some of you, the potential for me having MS has been a brief note in the middle of two giant notes, one from Rin and this one from me, so I suspect that there are questions). One, she has a short version down that is easier to deal with than me trying to fumble in my brain and two, some days, I just can’t. It’s that simple. I just can’t.

As I begin to run out of steam, I’m starting to wonder if all of this sounds negative and I truly, truly hope that’s not how it’s come across. I can’t begin to tell you how positive some of these changes are, for me and everyone around me. They are helping me to understand more about people and myself. They are helping me to learn to live with who I am not who the world thinks I should be (and in this case, the world includes young me who had dreams that didn’t involve a chronic illness), because that’s the me I get to be. Being more mindful is making me less quick to snark, to judge, and to automatically assume the worst of someone because there aren’t as many negative thoughts running around my own brain to cloud my vision. (Which is not to say that I’m never snarky for anyone who was worried about -that- possibility; it means I am snarky without necessarily being mean and there is a difference.) I am becoming more able to exist in my spoonie skin without constantly being angry at its failings and even when I do become angry with my body, I am able to acknowledge that anger and then find a way to turn it into something productive. You’d be AMAZED at the difference that simply acknowledging emotions that can have “negative” connotations can be for me. It also is involving me learning how to judge myself less (because, face it, I’ve been my worst critic since I was a kid and that’s not necessarily the best thing) and to forgive myself more. This is the one area that I still have a lot of trouble, but thankfully, people help me to remember to forgive myself, too. So, all of this is good, but it is also so utterly terrifying that sometimes it leaves me breathless. To be open and vulnerable requires an entirely new level of courage on my part and even now, I’m becoming pensive about hitting the “publish post” button…and yet, I know I will (at least after Rin reads this for major typos/issues) and I’ll likely even go so far as to tag people in it on facebook just as a “please read this and see the me that is here and not the me I used to be”.

Also, if you made it this far, bless you. I can’t imagine it was easy and gods know it is long as heck. And since it is long, there’s one more thing I’m going to leave (and honestly, it’s just a testament to how stream of thought this has been that it isn’t peppered with more links because there are several things that highlight some of these points so much that I want to share, but I’ll keep it to one more and not be overwhelming) a video here that I watched from another writer who is quickly becoming one of my go-to “go to church” writers, joining Glennon and Jenny. This particular video is by Brene Brown talking about Listening to Shame. I started watching it one day, curious because I’d seen several folks speak highly of her. I had to stop the video about two minutes in to start taking notes for myself because it moved me that much. It is likely because of Brene that I’m actually able to put all of this out there without a panic attack and for that, it is worth sharing.

Love Wins.

We can do hard things.

#omgthisisscary

Today has been a rough day in my head and outside of it. The child has been a bundle of frustration that has left me literally sending her out of the room before I said something I would regret. This is pretty rare for me and while I know it is a good parenting option, it is still upsetting. I’m usually a bit better at keeping my cool with her enough to deal with whatever the problem at hand is.

Today, I just kind of hit a point of not being able to deal with her anymore. We have had at least eight conversations today about her slacking on her work, be it homework or chores. Some of those happened before she did chores/work for the day and some happened after which kind of proves that she wasn’t listening the first time. I know that some of this is normal kid stuff, but I am seriously running out of patience with her on this particular topic. If it is something she wants to do, she is all over it, but if she isn’t in the mood? You might as well not bother and that just isn’t cool. She has to learn that you have to do the boring things AND the fun things, not just the fun things.

I understand. I truly do. No one really likes doing dishes or taking out the trash; however, it makes more sense to do it correctly the fist time instead of spending hours dragging one’s ass or being sent back to repeat the task over and over again. She doesn’t like being yelled at, so you’d think she would get tired of that after awhile, but it doesn’t seem like that today. (Mind you “yelling” isn’t the correct word. “Fussing at” is more appropriate as I only actually raised my voice once and that was after being utterly frustrated with her having somehow managing to lose a glass, 9″x13″ casserole dish somewhere in the house. She doesn’t remember what she did with it and even hunting in the kitchen didn’t unearth it, so I have no idea where the thing has disappeared to. Her only answer is, as usual, “I don’t know.”

Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!

I know it is just a day and it will pass, but at this point, I am kind of counting down the time to bedtime in a way I haven’t since she was really small. Hopefully tomorrow she’ll have her brain back together again and she’ll be more ready to do work.

A bright spot today came in the form of a package from our friend Greg. He had posted a link about the new Bionic Woman comic on FB recently asking about it for K since she fell in love with the show when we were out there. I started reading the sample issue for age appropriateness and quickly found myself hooked, so he said he’d send them our way since he had the trade edition. Today, K came in from checking the mail saying that I had a package from the Hatchers and I started bouncing in my seat. After making certain that I could read them before they completely warmed up (I was a little worried about condensation), I started tearing into them. I really enjoyed all ten issues and I think the writers and the artists involved should be commended. I’m not a huge comic fan. I try, but a lot of times they lack something for me. It takes a lot of work or a quirky subject matter to really get me involved in the story. While I enjoyed the old Bionic Woman episodes we watched with the Hatchers, I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying the comics so much.

I like the way Jaime’s character is written. She can do some amazing things and there is the potential risk of her becoming a super god-like character involved with the bionic powers she has. Paul Tobin, the writer, has done a great job at making her fallible both in her mentality and even in her actions. She is a real character dealing with real problems even while battling people like the Russian mob. I like that type of character and I think that is what drew me into the story to begin with. The nice artwork (and it is quite nice) is just an added bonus.

Dinner is ready, so I’m going to stop babbling for the moment. Here’s to hoping tomorrow the kiddo has an attitude adjustment.

(I started typing this as a status update but it was way too long for that, so I shifted it here.)

This week has been a rough week. For those of you who are also friends with Rin, you know that her Mawmaw’s brother passed away from cancer yesterday and that there are other health concerns from other folks in her family.

What you might not know is that in the midst of trying to deal with this news and everything else, she has also been dealing with me and the horrible reactions I was having to the new medicine the doctor put me on. At first, it was just seeming to make me more tired and that can happen. When I stair stepped up the dose like I was supposed to, the tired got worse and brought some friends along. It was making my anxiety ramp to pretty vicious levels. I was angry about…everything. One day, that was so bad that even people breathing around me was making me angry.

But, you know, we have a tween who hasn’t settled into a regular monthly cycle yet so hormones tend to run a bit crazy around here and sometimes that happens. And my anxiety tends to ramp at this time of year and so maybe it was that.

It all came to a head on Wednesday. One, I didn’t want to left alone. I was never worried that I was going to physically hurt myself so let’s make that disclaimer straight up, but I was mentally beating the hell out of myself. Everything I did was wrong/bad/a failure. I spilled my cereal – dry cereal, an obvious accident – and I was kicking the shit out of myself for being stupid. The real moment of clarity that it was the medicine and not just a hormonal/seasonal ramp in anxiety came when I realized that I couldn’t go to my massage appointment with Natalie – who I adore and who I let work on me in places I don’t normally let massage therapists work – alone. I needed Rin in the room though Natalie is not a threat, and is in fact usually one of my favorite people to see because she is awesome. At that point, it became clear to both of us that this medicine was not working.

She called my dr the next morning. Frustratingly, we haven’t heard from her. I do have an appointment Tuesday and I am hoping that it is just a clerical error somewhere, but we will see then. I did however refuse to take it again no matter what the dr said. In fact, the idea of taking it again almost gave me ANOTHER panic attack so that was pretty clearly a bad idea.

This week has been hard as hell and I have tried to be as “normal” (or you know, my ‘normal’) as possible, mostly to avoid scaring the hell out of my kid. It hasn’t been easy. We did finally explain that I was having a hard time with the medicine, but kept it fairly simple. She has walked into the room to me being upset or in tears a few too many times this week and that is frustrating to me. It makes me feel bad.

Thursday, I had to get blood drawn. Turns out that having six vials drawn wipes the hell out of me and that was frustrating as hell. We had a Brothers of the Wind meeting at the library and that was hard to face. An much as I didn’t want to be alone, I also didn’t want to see people. I actually managed to make it through okay, largely thanks to one of the wee ones who kept amusing me across the table. But it was hard. Afterwards, we usually go out to dinner with folks. Unfortunately, the restaurant had been chosen without any deliberation and…I couldn’t eat anything there.

Given the fragile state of my brain and the fact I had had six vials of blood drawn, going and trying to nibble on maybe a salad and watching other folks eating wasn’t really an okay option. I was a bit upset but was also sort of okay because, well, people are scary. Rin was much less okay. She was both upset because she wanted to hang out with folks and also upset because there wasn’t even talk of a potential venue change. (For reference, there is a pizza place not far from the library that does have GF options that is pretty tasty.) I know that there will be times that I will have to make do with what is available and I think I have made a bit more peace with that because I have needed to for my own sanity. Rin was upset less that they were going somewhere I couldn’t eat and more that they didn’t seem to care. Because she was upset and because I am still dealing with side effects from the damn medicine, I kept having to fight my mental urge to kick the crap out of myself for inconveniencing Rin in a week where she really needed a break. She kept trying to reassure me she wasn’t upset with me and while I was trying to hear her, my brain wasn’t really listening. It made for a bit of a frustrating evening.

It actually got a bit better just by us wandering around Kroger being goofy, and even though later she received the news about Tommy dying, she had a good long chat with her sister and she was doing better. It is things like that that have been keeping me going – little moments of good stolen in between the moments of mental turmoil. (Of course, a household thing came up to ruin some of the calm while the kiddo was in the shower as the ceramic soap dish fell and almost landed on her poor toes. Now we have to figure out a) why it fell and b) how the hell to fix it but that is a challenge for another day.)

If you’ve talked to me this week and thought I was acting oddly, well, I was. Mostly, I’ve been keeping to myself and trying to do distracting things like playing Candy Crush. It has sort of worked. What I haven’t managed has been any significant writing of either the personal sort or the NaNo sort, so I need to try to get focused again because I am very behind. Hopefully, as the rest of the medicine clears from my system, I’ll be better able to do that. I’m also hoping that my dr will give me my old medicine now that I tried her option. Cross your fingers.

I honestly don’t know why I’m writing this aside from the fact that it feels right and it feels as though I should. Maybe someone else is having a rough week and something is making them crazy and they need to know they are not alone. Or maybe it is that I’ve been pretty open about things lately because I am tired of trying to keep all of my mental quirks to myself in the name of appearing as someone who might have their shit together all the time,. Maybe it is just cathartic in its own way. Who knows?

Oh! On the positive front though, kiddo and I both will have insurance again as of 1 December and that is a pretty huge deal. The first goal will be to deal with the rouge gallbladder because I really don’t think that is helping me feel better right now. I’m scared of the idea of surgery, but I also haven’t been thrilled with the occasional twinges from that region and I would really rather get it dealt with before it decides to go septic or something. Ick. So, yes, definitely a bright spot in this chaotic week.

I have been pretty crappy in the writing department of late and I wonder if there isn’t one more lesson tied up in the large one I am currently learning from the universe. I suppose I should start from the beginning.

A couple of weeks ago, before I finally gave in and went to the doctor, I had a couple of days where it felt like angry, angry minions were crawling around my abdomen and back. I almost ended up in the emergency room with pain that was worse than labor. (A lot of women say this, let me clarify that I was in labor for 43 hours before I had a c-section so my “worse than labor” benchmark is pretty damn high.) It finally eased up and I got some sleep and then the next day Rin threatened to call everyone we know to tell them I was being a stubborn ass and refusing to go to the doctor and did I REALLY want that. No. No, I did not. So, I went to urgent care.

I had a sinus infection (which I knew) that OTCs weren’t kicking. I also had a kidney/bladder/UTI thing going on which I didn’t know about. (Yay for asymptomatic illnesses?) As a precaution, the CNP did decide to draw some blood (which they had to do twice because one of the vials clotted. Bwhee.) After two doses of antibiotics, I felt about 3000% times better and had no more abdominal pain and a lot of that ended up being chalked up to my kidneys. There were several reasons for that, including the fact that when Rin would rub my back during the worst of the previous episode, it would feel better and so…I floated along in a antibiotic daze and worked on recovering. After starting the Prednisone script that I was given to go with the antibiotics, I felt a WHOLE lot better and realized just how much inflammation my joints have been carrying lately. (The answer is a scary amount but more on that later.)

So, in a Prednisone fueled couple of days, I managed a neighborhood walk with Miss Ma’am and running errands without wanting to cry and it was good. And then I got a letter in the mail from the urgent care place that said they had been trying to contact me and they had information for me. I figured it was about my blood work results. Rin and I stopped by there after I had a massage with Natalie on Thursday and things were a bit odd from that point. The nurse kept acting like I had been ignoring her calls on purpose though I’d only received one voice mail and it wasn’t all that informative. However, my voice mail has been wonky since this summer, so, you know, I don’t know. (P.S. My VM has been wonky for a couple of months. As in, I just received a couple of VMs from JULY last week.) Then she was like, “Yeah, I’m going to get the doctor to talk to you about these results” and she left Rin and I in a room with me starting to freak out a bit. By the time the other nurse practitioner came in (a different one than I saw first), I was a bit wound and she made it so much worse. She basically was like, “You need a doctor” and she made me sound like a horrible person because I am a) sick, b) uninsured, and c) do not have a job and/or money. She treated me like crap, scared the hell out of me because my liver enzymes were REALLY high, and she refused to tell me ANYTHING that could cause that kind of abnormal blood work. (Upon later reflection, I realized that I am glad that I have medical knowledge and know that if something is wrong with your liver, one thing you absolutely should not take is acetaminophen. I shudder to think about someone in the same situation with this woman without that type of knowledge.)

So, we left. I was angry and upset and scared to death and the more stressed I got, the more I started to realize I was getting some twinges in my side again. Not pain, per se, but twinges. So, I tried to distract myself and figure out what to do while I waited for a call back from the clinic about where I might be able to go get quick doctor care that I could afford. The CNP called back and said that they had called Healthlinc but they were about to close, so someone would call me the next day. So, it was a long, restless kind of night and I kept it all bottled in. Rin did chat with one of my adopted big brothers who is also a CNP to ask for information and advice and that did help bring some reassurance. He basically made her swear in blood over FB chat that we would watch for certain things like jaundice (which we already had been) and that if there was a HINT of them that we’d go to the ER.

Friday, I got a call that the clinic had called Healthlinc and they had made me an appointment for Saturday morning which was…a surprise. The last I’d heard, that particular clinic was booked three weeks out. (Another local clinic for low income patients that Rin called couldn’t see me until the end of November.) Needless to say, the increased urgency added some stress. To combat that, Rin and I tried to keep me occupied and not freaking out. We also spent five hours going over the medical records I have on hand and realized that Harbin Clinic is not the best at organized record keeping, that I am missing three years of information (coincidentally the three years RIGHT after I was first diagnosed with CFS/Fibro stuff), and that there are A LOT of errors in my file as well as things missing like ER reports. Bwhee. One more thing to figure out how to fix later. Our efforts let us compile a list of the times of past diagnoses and things like that and so we at least went into the office prepared with that. I figured if I was abruptly being thrown into a new office that I was going to do so properly or at least as properly as possible.

Saturday morning I was a bit of a wreck. I’ve had horrible experiences with doctors of late which is why it’s been over a year since I’ve seen one regularly and why I’ve been without my normal meds for about that long and I just…was not prepared to face a crisis and a new office at the same time. To Healthlinc’s credit, the nurse and nurse practitioner I saw Saturday were amazing. There were no recriminations about the amount of information I brought to them (in fact they were thankful that I had it and was sharing it). There were no recriminations about not having insurance/money/jobs/not taking care of myself/it’s all in your head nonsense. There was listening. There was talking. There was a lot of concern about my liver enzyme numbers.

Alisha was very helpful. She was also pretty insistent that I try going gluten free. She said that looking at all of my symptoms and diagnoses across the board she felt it was a good path to try. She said she could order the expensive test for it or I could just eliminate gluten and see what happens. It is a concept I have pondered off and on as I’ve done more research but it is a huge level of commitment and well, I love me some gluten. So I haven’t tried it. But she was earnest in her conversation about it and suggested that it was a good place to start and so, there was one dropped bomb for the day that basically meant an entire lifestyle change.

She also was insistent that I have my labs redrawn and have an abdominal ultrasound as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that does mean that a lot more of that is going to have to be paid out of pocket than might normally because the way Healthlinc normally works is that you have an intake appointment with the financial counselor to find out how much you can pay and where on the sliding scale you fall and THEN you see doctors. I’m doing it ass backwards and they don’t have an intake appointment until later this month. But, that will be okay both by careful budgeting and some help from Mom and Dad because Mom was insistent and I stopped being a proud “I Can Do All The Things” asshole and agreed to let her help. (Sorry, Mom.) On Monday, the nurse is going to call the ultrasound folks that Healthlinc works with and set that up and I will likely have the labs drawn Monday or Tuesday depending on when the US is and we’ll go from there. I also have another appointment scheduled with the doctor at Healthlinc on Wednesday to talk about All the Things. Progress is being made and it is a bit terrifying and world changing all at the same time.

I looked at Rin at one point in the office yesterday and I said, “I think the universe is trying to teach me a giant lesson in humility.” She didn’t immediately say anything (my suspicion is that she was waiting to see where, exactly, I was going with that thought), so I went on to explain why I felt that way. I’m going to break down in a bit more detail here, though.

First, there are things that I have been putting off because of pride and anxiety. The biggest one of those has been filing for Medicaid in Indiana. A lot of it has been leftover stress/anxiety from dealing with the bureaucratic red tape I dealt with in GA. Some of it has been that the stigma regarding people who need public assistance has gotten into my head so much more than I ever realized. I fall into the category of folks who is in a situation where things like food and housing are covered, but medical expenses start to fall way the hell outside of sane budgeting. We travel. Hell, we have a lot of access to electronics largely through T’s job. We do all the things that people talk about those damn poor people not being able to afford and I stressed myself out and let the voice of public opinion make me act in a ridiculous manner. I have since rectified that point of pride. In fact, I did that Thursday night after dealing with the nurse practitioner because part of the reason she made me feel so awful was because it is something that I have mentally been kicking my own ass over for awhile. So. The thing is filed and the die is cast and we’ll see where everything falls out.

Letting myself become so proud that I acted stupidly is something that I have some regrets about but this situation with my liver going rogue has made me come to the point that all of the built up arguments like, “We’re doing okay” and “we can manage” and “I can live on ibuprofen alone! (the biggest lie of them all)” and threw them all out the door and said, “Honey, you’re up shit creek, what are you going to do about it?” So, I grabbed the paddle, beat the hell out of the last shreds of pride I was holding on to and filed the application.

Second, there are a lot of other ways that I have let pride become the boss of me in the last couple of years. I retreated inside my own shell after some things went horribly wrong with some people that I genuinely cared about. And that reaction was okay for a time because I needed the space. But instead of eventually crawling my way back out, I built up the wall that said, “I don’t need no stinkin’ people” and kept building. I reach out sometimes and I’d poke my head around the wall. For many people, it probably didn’t look that different than normal. But I kept trying to protect myself from the world because it seemed like the thing to do at the time. In the last few months, in part with the help of some awesome writers like Glennon at Momastery and Jennie at The Bloggess, I’ve been trying to unwrap myself from the “people are bad” cocoon I’ve built. It hasn’t been easy. And reaching out to other people and crawling out of that hole means remembering what it is like to feel things for other people again and as G says, the world is a brutiful place full of beauty and pain. And my heart hurts, but I’ve been trying.

Right now, I’m sitting at a junction where I can continue to keep all this shit to myself and Rin and a few other folks or I can open the door and say, “Hi, I’m sometimes a crazy asshole who needs to be reminded that she isn’t a super hero and right now I’m terrified out of my brain and if you have a kind word or a hug to spare I’d totally appreciate it even though I don’t think I deserve it all that much.” And oh how there is an internal battle in my head about which option to choose, but in finally making myself sit down and write about this crap I think I know which option will win. At least I hope so. Though I suspect that since Rin knows I’ve been writing something she’ll likely just hack into my WordPress account and post it for me if I don’t so maybe I should save her some work.

If there is anything about the current government situation that I think acts as a lesson unto my own life it is that we all need each other when shit gets weird. We all have to learn how to stand together and find some common ground even when we vehemently disagree or there will be people who will capitalize on that fact. And…I need people and I need to stop being a hermit. And for those of you who have kept poking at me and making me interact with the rest of the world whether it is via insane FB messages, random texts, or even something as simple as a word game on the Internetz, you have a lot more gratitude than I have words for. Please don’t stop.

Third, having to embrace a gluten free diet offers an opportunity for some of the health changes that I have needed to make. I have needed to become more active, but I have let the fugue of “it hurts too much” and “it’s too hard” become my rallying cry. Now, I’m taking words from Glennon again and I am trying to change my rallying cry to “we can do hard things.” In fact, I told Rin that maybe what I need her to do for the next couple of weeks is to sharpie “We can do hard things” on one wrist and “love wins” on the other because I am probably going to need the reminders. I was half kidding last night when I said it, but the more that I think about it, the more I think it is actually a really good idea. Sometimes I need the visual reminder to beat the negative words in my head.

Because the first doctor I saw mentioned that if I was having problems with my gallbladder (which is what I thought the abdominal pain could be), he suggested a low fat diet to help. Because I’d already had several days where I couldn’t eat because I was too sick, Rin started introducing things slowly back into my diet. The result has been that the two weeks that I’ve been on antibiotics have seen a somewhat revolutionary diet change for me already. She cut out pretty much all of the processed crap with the exception of saltines and toast (since for the first couple of days that was what I was keeping down). She has been giving me a lot more fruits and veggies than I normally eat. And basically she’s been a freaking rock star taking care of me and making me awesome veggie soup with a little bit of chicken in it and things like that. Seriously, her veggie soup is amazeballs and you should ask her to make it for you. What I’ve noticed is that I haven’t been craving as much of the junk that I usually do, and in fact when she and I were driving through town last week a lot of the fast food places that I look at as comfort food just sounded gross to me. Sure, there are things that I want (fried shrimp omg), but on the whole, a lot of the stuff that I haven’t been eating the last couple of weeks is stuff I didn’t really need anyway.

Those changes have also been enough to give me a small ledge to stand on as I face this new change. Because I know that I CAN do it, but being able and being willing are two entirely different things. However, as I said, the universe is teaching me a lesson in humility and has offered an opportunity for change. I can accept it and see what happens or I can keep living with my head under a rock and doing things the old way because that’s the way I’ve always done it. And thereby I get caught in my own trap because I HATEHATEHATE the rationale “but this is the way we’ve ALWAYS done it so we have to keep doing it that way” with a fiery passion. I have to accept the fact that things need to change. In the last two years, I’ve kind of let food become the source of comfort that I needed and I put on a lot of weight that my effed up joints don’t need to carry. Now, I have to relearn how to eat again and that’s going to take making some changes. Thankfully, I don’t have to do it alone. Rin has, pretty much from the get-go, been thinking about ways to make some of my favorite things without gluten and she’s come up with some pretty awesome ideas. She is most worried about being able to bake me things because that is her passion, but I reminded her that we know a lot of people who know how to deal with gluten free baking and that is helping bolster her courage, too. Things have to change and I have to be the one to make the decision to let the change happen. So, baby steps. Tomorrow, I say goodbye to gluten and it will be hard. Oh, it will be hard. But it is doable and I can do this.

If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering what I need at this point. Well, the answer to that is simple. Encouragement, for one. I am scared that my liver has decided to go rogue and well, with my health history, you never know what could be causing that. It could be something as simple my gallbladder giving up the ghost or it could be something else and I don’t do well with uncertainty. Mystery is not my favorite genre after all. 😀 So, encouragement is good. Beyond that, I am likely going to be a raging bear for the next couple of weeks because from everything I’ve heard, quitting gluten can be mood swing inducing and at the same time that I am giving up gluten I will also be detoxing from Prednisone, so encouragement not just for me but for Rin and K as well is good. I told Mom last night on the phone that nobody is going to love me this week and she said, “No, they’ll still love you, they just might not want to be around you.” You know what, fair enough. On that point, she is definitely right because gods know many of ya’ll have seen me at my awfulest and you still hang around so there is that. Also, I apologize in advance if I whine a lot on Facebook. I may whine there to avoid doing so out loud to the people who have to live with me.

Oh and finally, encourage me to write. Feel free to send me texts and emails. But I think that one way to help combat some of this stuff in my head is going to be writing it down. Logically I know this, but I have kind of screwed myself in the writing department the last few years with mixed messages of “it is helpful” vs “it is utter rubbish and who the fuck do I think I am writing anything” and I need some help dragging myself out of this hole, too. This one is a bit harder because sometimes the reminder makes me belligerent. I still need the reminders and the encouragement. Hell, at bare minimum I have a built in well of new topics to talk about because I’m sure that adapting to a gluten free lifestyle is going to make for some fascinating times for me. But knowing that and remembering to put hands to keyboard doesn’t always work. So, please, if you’re of a mind to so, drop me a note once in a while to suggest you’d like to hear what’s going on. It will help more than you realize.

We can do hard things. (The we is important to me because I know I can’t do this alone.) Love wins.

Friday

Today has been a bit frustrating. This morning, I was feeling puny, so I let Rin and K go to the Big Tent Yard Sale at Boni’s house without me and I went back to bed. I was bummed at not going but I’m also pretty sure that was the right choice. They both had a lot of fun which is good and found some cool new treasures, including a vintage leather jumper for Kero that looks so freaking adorable on her. After they got home, we worked on finalizing our plans for the evening. We decided to head out to the Chicago area tonight for several reasons.

The first was that we still weren’t sure what time we would be meeting ‘Song and folks at the Field Museum and since Chicago is usually about two and a half hours from home, and I didn’t want to have to leave stupid early to get there, we felt finding a hotel room for the night would be a benefit. We decided on staying in Bolingbrook one, because hotels in Chicago proper are insanely expensive and two, there’s a BD’s Mongolian Grill in Bolingbrook, so the plan was to have a bit of early birthday treat. Plans, as we all know, tend to all apart pretty easily. :/ While we actually got ready to head out the door in pretty record time, it still ended up being too late once we got into town for BD’s.

We followed reviews in Google local that said Falco’s Pizzaria was pretty good and it was open until midnight (it was nearing 11CT by that point). I would strongly NOT recommend the place. The girl working the counter was awesome, and the pizza bread appetizer was all right, but our dinners were pretty bad. We ordered two kinds of calzones to share betwixt the three of us. Mine was chicken and mushroom and I could at least eat a little bit of it, though I kind of regretted it for a bit afterwards. Rin’s was so salty that even Kero couldn’t eat it and that’s saying something. Rin asked for a refund since she ate 3 bites of it and the man behind the counter was rude about it and acted like she was dumb, because obviously things like cheese and sauce have salt in them. I had to walk away at that point because yelling at him wouldn’t solve the issue. He finally relented and gave her a refund, but he was certainly a jerk about it.

We got to the hotel at about 12:30 and ran into more trouble. They had one room available and it was a smoking room. I was a bit “what the hell” because you usually have to request a smoking room. Also I’m spoiled by the states that have laws banning smoking in hotels. There were no other rooms available, so the desk guy, Esteban, took Rin and K up to see how bad the smell was. Neither to them could walk into the door. Since we had booked through Priceline, he couldn’t just send us to one of the other Choice Hotels without management’s approval and management was apparently asleep. That had me calling Priceline. I talked to the first rep and she had to transfer me to someone else…who I never spoke to. I was on hold from about 12:41 to 1:10. Esteban, gods bless him, actually found us a room. It’s a suite, and I suspect that it wasn’t in the room block because it has a broken television. He got us checked in and gave us blankets for Kero for the couch and was pretty much a freaking rock star. He could have just been like, “Sorry, it’s not my problem,” but he wasn’t. I think that is pretty darn cool.

By the time we got into the room, I was feeling a bit like an asshole. If it hadn’t been for me wanting to come out early, we wouldn’t have had a crappy dinner and hotel drama. Rin was working on reassuring me, but I still felt a bit like an idiot. I’m feeling better now, but it is still frustrating. (And obviously, now it’s 2am CT and we have a long day tomorrow.) I am a bit irked that my early birthday shenanigans have been way-laid a bit, but it will work out in the end I think.

We’re meeting folks at the Field Museum around noon tomorrow and wandering around there for awhile. I would have preferred Science and Industry, but it looks like there are some newer exhibits at Field since the last time we went so it will still be fun. Hopefully we got through all of the travel snafus today so that tomorrow will be much less stressful. Now, I’m going to knit for a little bit and finish winding down so that I can sleep without being tense.

Today has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster type of day. I was already a bit teary-eyed this morning since it’s only been two weeks since Grandpa Dave’s funeral and…yeah. So, I was mostly keeping that under control except for almost bursting into tears at Starbucks. But I was mostly good, especially since we were on the way to Camp Logan to pick up Kero from camp.

On the way, in one of the few magical spots along the way where there is cell signal, Mom called. Rin answered since I was driving. I knew within about a minute that something was wrong, but I couldn’t quite figure out what. She got off of the phone as it started to break up again and had to tell me that Lydia had died this morning in Mom’s lap. Lydia was seventeen and as such, she was a fixture at the house for quite awhile. She somehow managed to outlive all of her babies (a feat that I chalk up to pure evil and stubbornness on her part). Her nickname was Demon Spawn because when she would fall into a playful mood, her ears would turn and there were little tufts of hair at the tips that made them look like horns. She was a feisty wench, for sure. It was quite an emotional blow and I seriously felt for Mom. I knew why she was already having a hard day of it and then her cat died in her lap this morning. Yeah. Hard. So, I had a good cry and managed to get myself back together by the time we got to Camp Logan.

When we got there we realized that a) they didn’t tell us that bringing chairs would be a good idea and b) we couldn’t find Kero in the midst of all the girls on the deck. We did finally overheard that a group of the girls wasn’t there yet. It turns out that the largest group (24 of them o_O) had been sent back to their campsite because they hadn’t done a great job of cleaning up and packing. Finally, they arrived and Kero looked super cute in her Shipwrecked at Camp Logan 2013 t-shirt and her orange bandana. Once everyone was there, each group did a skit. The Daisies told a lot of really adorable (and bad) pirate jokes. My favorite two were:

What’s a pirate’s favorite animal?
An Arrrrmadillo

What’s a pirate’s least favorite animal?
A sharrrrk

(I did tell you they were bad.)

The Brownies sang a song about sharks that you should totally ask Rin to re-enact for you at some point because it’s pretty hilarious when she does it. 😀 The third group was so quiet I’m still not entirely sure what they did. When it was Kero’s group’s turn, their counselor warned that we were in for a full length feature film. The S.S. Juliette team certainly were creative (and weird) in their skit but it was a lot of fun (though Kero did sustain some superficial damage to arm and leg while she was “drowning” in the dirt). I took video though I have no idea yet how it turned out, so we’ll have to see. The last group were the older girls and they used the letters in “Shipwreck” to talk about their weekend. There were a lot of creative bits and definitely a lot of really bad pirate jokes, but it was fun.

After the skits were finished, Rin darted up the hill to the clinic to pick up K’s meds while I went to pick up Kero. I had to wait a few minutes though because Rin had my DL in her purse from where I’d given it to her Friday since it kept falling out of my pocket and my purse wasn’t handy at the time. Oops. It wasn’t bad though because Kero was bouncing with a few of her friends and I was getting some snuggles. 🙂 I got her checked out and picked up her patch, evaluation, and camp picture. The patch is really cool and the picture is adorable. We made a brief trip into the small camp store and picked up a few odds and ends that they didn’t have at the Service Center the last time we were there. The line for check out was long though, so I left Rin in line with the things and K and I hiked back up the hill to fetch her things. Even with having to hike up and around we still finished before Rin. Apparently they were having issues with the card reader and a ton of people were trying to pay with cards.

Now, you have to understand that Kero was talking to both of us pretty much non-stop while we were shopping and then she was talking to me non-stop while we were walking and then once all three of us were back in the car, well, she stopped talking for about eight minutes total in the time from when we left Logan to when we got to George and Mary Chris’s for lunch and all of those minutes were enforced for things like sending her to the potty while we stopped for gas. To say that she “enjoyed” herself is a monumental understatement. She had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed telling us all about it. They went hiking and horseback riding, they shot archery and went canoeing, and had a treasure hunt and cooked over the fire. In short, I think it was everything and more than she imagined…and she wants to go back real soon. (Sadly that’s not going to be an option this year because once the early reg date passed, well, the rest of the camps this summer are expensive, but we’ll likely be sending her back next summer for sure.)

We had lunch with the family and sat and talked for awhile. By that point, it was becoming clear that the wee one’s battery was wearing down, though food certainly helped with that. She hung out with Adrian and they watched tv and played with Legos while all the grown-ups sat around talking. After we left there, we headed over to Janice’s house to pick up Kero’s bike. We bought it used (an entire story on its own), and Nate kindly fixed it up for her. Rin and I decided that since we were going to Janice’s where there are fuzzy things to love on and pet like kitties and bunnies that we would tell her about Lydia. It pretty much shatters my heart to do it because I remember how hard it was to lose cats at that age. It sucks now, but it seemed worse then. When we got to Janice’s, Brendan (Janice’s husband) sent Kero off on a test ride of her bike around the block (huzzah for neighborhoods with sidewalks) and by the time she got back, Sarah (Janice’s daughter) had a bunny (Marvin) waiting for her. She was muchly cheered by her bike ride and she’s thrilled to have a bike that fits her again. (I keep trying to tell her that the growing thing is annoying, but she just smiles and pats me on the head. :D) She spent some time hanging out with Sarah and petting the bunny (who was ridiculously soft, seriously) while the rest of us chatted about various things. We were getting ready to leave when Rin and I remembered that 4-H sewing classes are supposed to start tomorrow and we had to figure out what she needed. Of course, fabric is one of the obvious answers, so we left Kero there (at her request – she was torn between playing with animals or going to pick out fabric and we assured her we could pick out fabric this time) and headed to Wal-mart for a) closeness and b) less expensive fabric for a first project.

There was quite a bit of deliberation but we finally found a remnant piece that had flowers, birds, and stealth cats on it and then we found a solid piece to match that since there wasn’t enough for both pajama pieces for K’s project. The two are going to look pretty great together. We headed back to pick up the girl and chatted with Janice about odds and ends for the project for a bit before heading toward home since Brendan was following us with K’s bike because the bike rack was not cooperating today. While we were doing that, I gave Dad a call and talked to him for a few minutes for Father’s Day before handing the phone back to the vibrating child who wanted to share her adventures. She talked to Mom and Dad and regaled them with tales of her pirate glory.

By the time we got home, I think all three of us were pretty done for. I know I was. Rin had Kero go through her things and shake all her clothes off outside in the hopes of avoiding finding anymore ticks like the one Rin found when she and I had been at Camp Logan though the kiddo was not too thrilled with the chore. I took a few more pictures of her, though I was cursing a bit because I forgot to get a close-up shot of her earlier with her kitty face paint. She was a Kitty Pirate and instead of saying “Meow” or “Arr” it was “Meoarrr”. Yeah, she’s a dork. After picture time, it was Stinky Kid to the Shower time. She had a snack and then she was half-way crawling her way to bed without much prodding. Apparently last night one of the tents of girls would not shut up even after her tent asked them to. We told her if it happened again that next time they should go wake a counselor because that type of behavior isn’t being a good sister to every Girl Scout. I suspect she’s not going to be thrilled with when she has to get up in the morning, but she has a long day ahead of her. Sewing is from 10-2 every day this week, so she’s going to be busy for sure. She also has a few other classes this week AND has to finish up all of her projects. Fair is creeping up with a quickness, for sure.

And on that note, I’m going to stop rambling for the evening and go to bed myself I think.

Saturday Evening

T’s aunt retired Friday from her teaching job at Ivy Tech, and there had been a planned family dinner to celebrate with her on Saturday. T’s mom decided to take it a step further and indeed up arranging a party of almost 25 friends and family members at Chao’s in South Bend. Everyone got there early (and we even made almost on time and before the guest of honor!) and waited for Debbie and Paul to arrive. Needless to say she was quite surprised. She kept trying not to cry; it was very sweet.

The way the evening was arranged was that our group was in the bar/lounge area and they set up a table of hors d’oeuvres so that everyone could nibble while they chatted. Since it was in the bar area and since I was in a ton of pain, I decided to be adventurous and try a new drink. Chocolate martinis are AWESOME! Also, Chao’s stuffed mushrooms are also amazing. Yum.

Once everyone was seated for the salad course, the conversation was light and cheerful and it was just an overall aura of good feelings. When the dinner course was announced, Mary Chris surprised everyone with the fact that they would be able to try a little bit of each of the entrees that had been chosen. The options were chicken Parmesan, lasagna, and prime rib. On the side were tasty veggies including zucchini which I love.  Adele, who is the main chef at the restaurant and who owns part of it and two others, was actually at our beef cutting station herself. The family at this point has had several larger engagements there and she knows us well. She is genuinely sweet and her food is amazing. She was having fun serving folks and being a part of Debbie’s surprise as well.

Rin and I were sitting beside Debbie and between the conversation with her and Bonnie across the table, we had a lot of fun. As the evening wore on and the dessert round neared, Rin and I decided to have another chocolate martini and I was practically bouncing in my seat because dessert time meant tiramisu. I did not like tiramisu before I had it at Chao’s the last time we went and I fell in love. Hilariously so did several other folks at the table and we once again cleaned out their stock of the mini-tiramisu’s. You can order a large size as well and it is incredible but it doesn’t have quite the same balance that the mini ones do. I suspect that part of it is that the mini ones are served in chocolate “bowls” and the actual bowls of tiramisu do not have that extra layer of hardened chocolate on the bottom. (As a heads up they do back a bit of a kick with the liqueur in them but oh, they are delicious as a rare treat!)

As the evening wound down I realized that I had relaxed quite a bit more than I had expected to simply enjoying the company, the atmosphere, and the background music at the restaurant. The shooting had left me upset and drained in more ways than one and the ongoing trip packing as well as prepping for Girl Scouts had left me very tired. As we were leaving I realized that the evening was pretty much exactly what I needed to help return some of my holiday spirits and simply good feelings.

Post-Dinner

Earlier in the week we had been invited to a friend’s birthday party that was also Saturday evening. We told him that it would be unlikely that we would get there before nine if we could make it at all. We didn’t leave downtown South Bend until almost ten, but Kelly had assured us that the party was going to go until Saturday morning and that we should come out anyway. We realized we didn’t have his or Jess’s cell numbers to double check this but as they live in Osceola and we had to go to Meijer anyway, we decided to “pop in for a little bit.”

Anybody who knows us well will read that parenthetical and laugh hysterically. We got there between 10:30 and 11 and we left around 4:30. o_O I actually hadn’t realized how late it had gotten until everyone at the party was starting to fade. We had a lot of fun and I’m actually really glad that we went over to hang out. It’s…been a bit since we were able to hang out at someone’s house and just chill with a group of people. Kelly and his family are members of Brothers of the Wind, so there were fun talks of camp stories and things like that. They have a son who is a little older than K and the two of them were pretty much go-go-go until right before we left. I was kind of amazed actually.

It was nice to be able to just go relax and shoot the breeze and tell bad jokes and have fun. Alas we could not just go home and go to bed as we STILL had to go to Meijer to pick up a couple of last supplies for GS. K was a bit upset by that point as she’d realized what time it was and was worried she wouldn’t be able to sleep before GS (because I obviously have taken stupid flakes lately and would totally keep her awake that long before taking her to do jewelery work, right?!). We actually managed to keep the trip to the store brief.

When we got home, I got the girls to bed and set to finishing up getting things sorted out. I knew better than to try the “I’ll take a nap and then get up and finish things” because that tactic has failed ABYSMALLY this week. Instead I ended up not sleeping because I got anal retentive about sorting out beads for the girls and making sure that I had everything I needed.

Cue the *dun-dun-dun* music here.

I realized around 10:30 this morning that the cord we had bought the night before wouldn’t fit through the beads. Needless to say I cursed like a sailor and then tried to figure out what to do. Rin was still sleeping and finally I was like “eff it” and got dressed and headed out to find what I needed. By that point I’d put too much cumulative work into these projects to fail at that stage. Sadly Target did not have what I needed so I had to hit Michael’s over on Grape Rd. Of course traffic over there was insane and it was raining and gray outside so of course no one remembered how to drive and 3/4 of the drivers didn’t have their bloody head lights on. (Seriously?! Rain. Gray skies. Low visibility. TURN ON YOUR HEAD LIGHTS!) Ahem. Anyway.

I actually did manage to find what I needed at Michael’s fairly quickly and then got to wait in line for almost half an hour. Argh. I did enjoy chatting with the couple in front of me, though I suspect they thought I was a bit of a spaz, but to be honest, at that point, I really was a spaz. From Michael’s, I made a run through the Krispy Kreme drive through and grabbed a dozen doughnuts for breakfast (that I then forgot to eat which seems like a crime somehow). I ran home and made sure the girls were up, realized Rin hadn’t immediately found my note and thus that she had been a bit puzzled, finished putting things together and then ran to get Rin and I coffee because she was being pitiful at me.

Thankfully Starbucks was blissfully quick this afternoon as we were edging close on time. I was hoping that they would be ready when I got back to the house but I did have to go find out what was going on once before we actually made it on the road toward scouts.

At the Meeting

The girls were working on their jewelry badge. Each badge has 5 parts to it and some of them are more challenging than others. In a couple of them, Rin and I worked together to combine them so that they were completing both activities but in a more efficient manner. I’m not actually sure who put the Jewelry badge together, but a) they could have been more creative, b) they could have put in more ideas for things the girls would actually use, and c) they could have used a few more details in a couple of the steps. That said, Rin and I came up with several interesting projects although the girls only really got to two of them today.

Rin was teaching them how to wire wrap stones. At our last meeting, she let them each pick a stone from the ones that she had gotten at the local farmer’s market. Each girl got two: one hematite (because grounding and centering for those girls, yes please!) and then they got to choose the second from items such as sea glass and blue sunstone. They had a lot of fun with the selection process and they actually had a lot of fun with learning how to wire wrap though I suspect that some of them found it more challenging than they were expecting.

The second project that we got to was for them to make a simple pair of earrings because one of the steps of the badge was to make a gift for someone else. I used the basic hook finding with o rings and some lovely shell beads I have. They are in interesting shapes similar to a rectangle but wider at the top than the bottom. There were a variety of colors and the girls fell in love with them. I had enough earring findings for each of them to make two pair so some of them made a pair for someone else and a pair for themselves.

One of our co-troop leaders is also a Daisy troop leader because she has two daughters. The Daisy comes to the Juniors’ meetings and sometimes she gets bored. The poor girl was very tired tonight and kept trying to find things to do, so once I got the girls started on their earrings, I started helping the wee Daisy with hers. She’s only 5 (maybe 6) and after watching me, she actually almost closed one of her own jump rings with the pliers. If I had remembered that Rin had the smaller pliers I bet that the wee one could have finished it herself. She was quite pleased with herself and I was pretty impressed given that some of the bigger girls who had more hand and finger strength were having some trouble with them.

Unfortunately we ran out of time so the other two projects that I spent four hours color sorting mixed packs of beads for didn’t come to fruition. I’ll just tell the OCD part of me that they are already color separated if I want to make something. *headdesk*

Adorably, because Rin is bad at keeping holiday presents a secret from me, last night she handed me a wrapped package as I was sitting down to work on sorting beads and making sure we had everything we needed. She had bought me a new tool set in a zip up case months ago apparently and decided that it might be a present worth having early given the activities of the following day.

All in all it was a pretty good meeting. The girls actually focused and worked as opposed to what has been happening recently so that was certainly a relief. Several of them really took to the projects so you never know what they might come up with later.

There was a bit of tension through the evening but it was resolved and it was spent recovering from hectic GS things and trying to figure out how on earth we’re going to get all the things done since we really need to be on the road by Wednesday of this week. O_O Rin and I watched a couple of episodes of Covert Affairs after K went to bed and I (obviously, if you read my last post) spent awhile writing. She started dozing off in the recliner so I kept trying to send her to bed and she kept falling asleep again. *facepalm* I finally got her off to bed and I was supposed to be following shortly afterwards but even after writing a “post of doom” as Rin called it, I apparently still had a lot of words in my head. Go figure. So now it’s 5:51am and I’m still awake. You’d think I’d have fallen on my face by now, particularly since I really haven’t had any caffeine or anything like that since the half coffee I managed to drink early this afternoon. It’s actually slightly irritating because I’m hella tired and yet…awake.

Hopefully now that I’ve finished putting more positive things into the air I’ll be able to settle out and head to bed. I hope you all have a lovely day. I’m sure mine will be insane…as will most of the next couple of weeks. I bet I’ll make this face a lot: o_O. 🙂