Tag Archive: family


Fourteen

Hello, Fourteen. It’s nice to meet you, though I must say I’m still occasionally baffled that you’re here. It’s hard to believe that my little cabbage patch baby is Fourteen! But here we are.

Thirteen brought challenges of its own. I knew to expect some of them. Others we’re still working on trying to figure out. But that’s okay, because we’ll do it together, the three of us.

In some ways you’ve changed a lot this year, but in others, the changes are smaller, more subtle. You’re processing things on different levels (when you decide it’s worth the work), and it’s fascinating to hear how your brain works.

Thirteen saw you struggling a lot more with feelings that we all have from time to time, from feeling alone in the world or feeling like you don’t fit. It’s normal, as frustrating as that sentiment is, because I know it doesn’t really help address the issues you feel. Sometimes, though, the knowing that you’re *not* the only one who feels a certain way can be a stronger balm than actually figuring out how to change the feeling. I’d love to tell you that these awkward feelings are the realm of your teenage years, but the truth is that you’ll likely visit them many times in your life. It’s hard, but it’s okay, because there will always be people who can tell you that no matter how you feel, you’re amazing the way you are.

That’s what I want you to learn this year: that you’re amazing. Even if there are things you need to work on, you’re still amazing. Life is a journey of self-improvement; there will always be room for change, but that room for change doesn’t make you any less amazing. It really just doesn’t.

You’re becoming more of your own person which is an interesting journey. You’ve made some choices with that autonomy that I’d have preferred you hadn’t, but even so, it’s kind of interesting to see the person you’re trying to become. We’ll work on the rough edges, Fourteen, and we’ll explore your autonomy while reminding you that you still have plenty of time to be a kid. That’s okay, too.

You bring me a lot of joy. If there is one thing I could hammer into your head, it would be that. I know the last year that might have been harder to tell, but that’s not through any fault of you. Mommy’s had a rough year. (And you have no idea how happy it makes me that I’m still “Mommy”. No idea.) I’m afraid you’ll look back and see how often Mommy couldn’t leave the bedroom or couldn’t go to this thing or inadvertently made everyone miss that thing and you might be angry. I could understand that; truly, I could. My comfort, though, is knowing that your Mum, your Rin, has been there right beside you the whole way, picking up the pieces that I just wasn’t able to hold.

In a meeting with your therapist, he told me that part of the job of a good mom is making certain that her kid is well taken care, whether it means leaning on her partner for help, asking for help, or stuff like that. I argued with him for a good give minutes because everything I believed about parenting said that I should be able to do everything, no matter how hard it is, so it meant I was failing. Between Tom and Rin, they finally got me to stop and listen – really listen that is. It’s taken me a few months, but I think I finally *get* it.

The truth is that you *are* well taken care of. You are well loved. Rin does an amazing job with you, often better than I ever imagined I could and that makes me happy. I’d be lost without her. She’s helping to raise you into an awesome person, & that makes me so damn happy.

I have no idea what you’re going to bring to the party, Fourteen, but I know I’ll meet it with the same sense of wonder (and mild trepidation) that I’ve met each year, along with a slightly bittersweet sense of sadness that you’re growing up in front of my eyes. You’re a beautiful, intelligent, awesome person, Fourteen, and I’m going to spend the next year helping you learn that for yourself.

Thirteen

Hello, Thirteen. We finally meet.

I have worried about our meeting off & on over the years as today you officially become a teenager. It is often said that the teenagers are some of most intractable, as you search for independence, a sense of self, & a passel of other things depending upon who you ask. As a young mother, I feared those far off years wondering how I would ever survive them. (Of course, there were years I wondered how I’d survive the toddler years, the tween years, and honestly, the infant ones, too.)

As a thirteen year veteran mom, I know that trying to define which stage begins & ends is a fool’s errand best left to people writing books to terrify young parents. Reality says that there’s no clear line, & trying to define it is as aggravating as trying to navigate it. I know that I’ve seen flashes of diva attitude often attributed to “teen years” since you were Four, and I’ve seen glimpses of the woman you could become at every milestone stop along the way.

I also know that the fear I’ve felt for the teenage years – and Thirteen especially – was pretty much vanquished by Twelve & all of it’s ups, downs, zigzags, & curveballs. (Never fear: I’m not challenging the universe. I’m not saying anything crazy like, “how much worse could it get”, it’s just, Twelve pretty much set the bar for Hard Shit. I was talking to Mana in the wee hours of this morning, “She only has one cyst in her brain, so that surprise has already been sprung.”) After Twelve, it seems silly to worry about an arbitrary number that defines nothing about you beyond how many years you’ve been on this planet.

Trying to define you is almost impossible these days. At your surprise birthday tea today, you said something was probably obvious & I didn’t have the heart to tell you that “obvious” with you isn’t always “obvious”. There are a few constants: you’re a huge nerd & proud of it; if it’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, odds are fair that you’ll like it; you hate washing dishes (something we’re going to work on this year); you love pink (with a few rare exceptions); you’re an amazing kid that I love (even when you’re being a pain in the tush) more than I ever knew was possible.

I honestly don’t know what to expect from you, Thirteen. Twelve gave me a lot more silvery-golden hairs than I had before, made me face a situation that was similar to one of my worst nightmares, & in general, was downright terrifying (& not only because of the beginning of our journey to Seizureville). That fateful June day at the allergy doctor’s office changed all of our lives forever, though looking back I think it’s more accurate to say the life changing moment was when the ER doctor walked into the room & said, “It’s not nothing because it’s obviously something, but it’s nothing” just after he said they’d found a cyst on the CT.

My heart skipped a beat & I struggled with myself to remain brave for you even though inside my head, I was screaming a variety of things that could best be summed up as, “NOOOOOOO! NOT MY BABY!!!!” I listened to that ER doctor explain what they did know & also how much they didn’t. From that point, we began a journey that has changed all three of us in good & not so good ways. It’s still a journey as there are still so many unanswered questions, but the one thing that I know is we’ll make the journey together, your two moms & you.

Twelve also saw a spike in inattentive behavior, a tendency for slacking in your work that’s been downright maddening at times, & a few hints of attitude that I’d really like to not see repeat too much with Thirteen. While the seizures likely account for part of this, we’ve also confirmed that you likely do have ADHD though trying to sort those two things from, as your therapist put it, “a healthy case of being twelve”. All of this has made for rocky times, but I also know that it’s something you’re trying to work on, & I’m hopeful that between the strategies you’ve learned in the last few months & a genuine effort on your part to improve that Thirteen will find even more improvement. I hesitate right now to include this section & may yet delete it; however, it was definitely a recurring theme of Twelve, and I want you to be able to look at this in the future & say, “wow! Look how far I’ve come.”

Thirteen, I have no idea what to expect from you. Your therapist suggests that one thing to expect is a quest to define yourself as a separate entity from the you that we as your parents have helped shape. This both intrigues me & terrifies me; I’ve always been amazed by watching you grow & change before my eyes. It terrifies me, because I don’t know what to expect & that’s always a challenge for me.

In the last several months, you’ve been doing some work both with our help, with your therapist’s help, & on your own to learn to be able to communicate your thoughts & feelings more clearly & to find a better balance with your emotional self-care. At times, this has frustrated you beyond belief, made you in turns angry & sad, and has clearly been a challenge, yet you keep trying. I’m so proud of you for that; I know how difficult this type of sorting can be.

Thirteen, I know that no matter what happens, I’ll love you more than I have words to speak & I know the same can be said of your Mum, because no matter what, we’ll always love you. Always, baby girl. Always.

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

[This entry is transcribed from my handwritten journal. As a general warning, I am even more scattered and occasionally more circular when I write by hand than I am when I type. This entry is quite long and honestly, it could possible be two entries. I might come back and edit it that way later, but right now I am just trying to get it all typed up so that I don’t keep procrastinating doing so. It was written at about 4:30 am on 22 October 2013.]

 

Given all the recent changes and goings-on, it seems only fitting to (finally) starting using this new journal. [My Thor journal that Rin bought me. ^_^] Granted, I should be asleep. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I have to be up at 8 to get ready for my first appointment with the therapist at Healthlinc. I had (somewhat amazingly) managed to forget about it until yesterday afternoon. I managed to stay fairly distracted (largely by ghost hunting in the Sims Free Play) most of the evening, but these types of things always have a way of creeping up on me when I lay down no matter how tired I am. I read for awhile, a silly romance novel (The Inconvenient Duchess), that at least managed to be distracting until I finished it. Then, of course, it was almost 4:30 and I was clearly still awake. I slipped out of bed to see if Rin was possibly still awake, but it seems I’m the only one awake at this point. On one hand, that’s good, because she was exhausted and needed sleep. On the other, it meant I was left alone with my own brain which isn’t always my favorite state of affairs. Instead of starting a second book, I decided that perhaps I should take my own advice and face off with myself. So now I’m scribbling furiously in an effort to keep up with my own mental babbling by the booklight in my Kindle cover in an attempt to not disturb anyone else. It seems both slightly poetic and maybe silly since I could just go sit on the couch. But whatever. Here I am.

Yesterday was frustrating. There were some communication issues that threatened to turn into a huge fight. I suppose, since I’m peering into my own brain, some of those issues stemmed from my own insecurities. The largest culprit yesterday was “not wanting to be a burden” coupled with a bit of expectation of a certain thing without having made those needs known. On the face of it, it was all fairly minor, and I just was frustrated and irritated. Beneath it, I felt both angry with myself for feeling so needy and frustrated that she didn’t read my mind. There were things both of us could have done better and hopefully in the future we will; however, I try not to talk too much about specific disagreements online (yes, I was handwriting this with the knowledge that it would eventually make it online) because it isn’t everyone’s business. With that in mind, I do think I need to examine some of my own reactions.

When I realized I was both upset and becoming frustrated, I should have reached out and let her know. I stopped myself both because I wanted her to somehow realize I needed her and also because I didn’t want to bother her for anxiety reasons again. Right now, this seems plain as can be, but it wasn’t so clear then. I’m getting better at recognizing anxiety and stress for what they are, but it is still a work in progress. I missed some of the mental hints and instead let myself get a little broody. By the time I did reach out, I was more than a little cranky. When she got home, while I tried to talk to her about why I was frustrated calmly, I suspect more of the other crept in than I wanted to admit at the time. I didn’t have the worst possible reaction, but in hindsight, I realize I could have chosen if not a better way to handle it, then a better time to handle it. Trying to discuss something only a few minutes after someone gets home rarely goes well. It just sort of came out when she asked if I was okay. So, hopefully next time, I’ll at least manage better timing. Things did settle back down and she worked on making dinner. She was trying something new with veggie soup and it ended up taking longer than she was expecting. That meant she spent most of the evening in the kitchen…which to be honest was unexpected on my part and also a bit frustrating. I finally realized I was just playing games for something to do and maybe reading for a bit and trying to sleep was a better course of action. I went to tell her and she got upset with me. I’m still a little confused as to why. I know part of it was because we didn’t have any of our usual evening downtime, but she had been working in the kitchen and I had no clue she could have stopped for a bit. While we were discussing it, she expressed some frustration that food didn’t seem to be a “making me feel better” thing since I went GF. I thought about it for a minute and realized that on some level, I had been working to make that separation in my head since I was already making large changes. Most of the weight I’ve put on in the last 2 years has been from stress eating, it that is really not healthy physically or mentally. We talked a little more, but I wasn’t managing to put my thoughts into words. I suspect this was a part of what was keeping me awake because cooking is something she does to make people feel good. She likes when her food makes people happy and when she finds things they love. With that in mind, and me realizing the mental changes I was unconsciously making, there was a bit of a disconnect and I could tell she was upset but couldn’t assuage that upset.

First, the obvious. You have no idea how much I love when you cook for me, even if it seems basic and easy. Cooking comes easily for you whereas for me, it’s a struggle. I don’t enjoy it, so when I do cook, it’s a necessity thing not a because I want to thing. You’ve introduced me to more foods than I can count, and on your watch, I’ve come to love asparagus, zucchini, parsnips, and even new cheeses, all because you take the time to make them. When you bring home asparagus it is sometimes more exciting to me than chocolate, and if anyone had ever hinted I’d write a sentence like that, I’d tell them they were crazy. Over the last few weeks, things have been stressful and I was having to watch what I ate even before I went GF because of my gallbladder, so you’ve had a challenge on your hands. The veggie soups you’ve been making have been getting me through a lot of the days where I felt like there was a way between my body, my brain, and food. I keep waiting for you to groan and beg me not to ask for it again because you and K are tired of it, but that hasn’t happened yet. So, even though it was taking awhile and wasn’t done when you wanted, I was still excited for soup. I’ve also been tired, out of sorts, and stressed, so it likely didn’t show as much. It hadn’t crossed my mind that there would be tasty soup when we got home from the doctor tomorrow because my brain keeps getting stuck somewhere around the doctor’s office. When you explained that after I admonished you for doing too much when you were tired and in pain, I both felt bad and felt all floaty hearted at the same time. So, see, your food is a comfort thing and a happy making thing even as I try to divorce some of the food = comfort pathways. It really is two separate things. I’m trying to stop the pathway that says, “Food will make you less stressed and will make things better” because it is not true. It might -temporarily- make things better but it won’t fix things and in the long run it makes things worse. In some ways, this is already and will continue to make me love the things you make even more because it is tasty and healthier than most of the junk I was craving before. I know some of the GF things have you a bit scared or maybe nervous is a better word because it is new territory for you and there’s more trial and error involved; however, I gleefully look forward to being your guinea pig because I know you’ll make awesome things and then all of our friends will be jealous they can’t steal you.

So, while I’m working on my mental relationship with food, it won’t diminish the love and comfort I receive from what you make for me because the two aren’t wholly connected. And if more of what I ask for you to make is mega-veggie soup instead of cookies or a cake, that won’t entirely be a bad thing. Your food makes me happy, love, and not in the dysfunctional “food will solve everything” way but in the “Holy shit this woman cares so much about me she spends six hours in the kitchen cooking for me and that is both mind-boggling and amazing” way. I hope that eases your worry better than I was managing last night.

There’s one nagging issue down, so what are the others? Well that is a bit more complicated to sort, but I know it revolves around the appointment that is in *looks at clock* four hours. *sigh* Some of it is general fear of an unknown. I’m glad I met Tom at my other appointment, but it was brief and I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve not done the counselor thing since college and while I know it can be a good thing, I’ve not had it on my to-do list. See, I have a lot of trust issues both with counselors and in general. I don’t just open up to anyone these days (doubly true after the last couple of years), so the idea of having to is daunting, almost too daunting.

The reason I’m going is because my need for my ADD meds is stronger than my fear of the counselor. Of course, I have to figure out how to communicate that without coming across as drug-seeking (in the negative way of “person who is addicted,” etc.). The honest truth is that I’ve been out of them for almost a year and I’d really like to use my brain more productively again. I miss the way [med name] makes me better able to handle my thoughts and makes me more productive. I like how it makes me better able to handle the fatigue and mental fog that my chronic illness causes. I miss the organization I used to be able to apply to my thoughts and my personal chaos field. The reality is that not only was I more productive and easier to talk to on my meds, but I dealt with less anxiety, too. To some, that might seem odd since ADD meds can cause anxiety for some folks, but for me, it helps break up some of the anxiety loops I get stuck in, and for the times it doesn’t break up those loops, it helps me be better able to focus on my what I’m doing to distract myself from the anxiety.

I’ve learned how to knit while not on my meds (which has not always been easy), and I’ve gotten pretty good for a beginner. I’m proud of that fact. I also wonder how much better I would be if I could keep a pattern in my head for more than five minutes at a time. I combat that right now by writing out every stitch in every row instead of using repeats like patterns do, and it works, but it is a bit clunky. I’d like to see how I manage with my meds, in part because I think I could eventually make some extra money by making items to sell. I’m not thinking a huge enterprise, but I do think there are things I could make that people might want to buy.

I also need to start writing more. I’m managing a bit more than I was, but I also know that it was basically my ADD meds that got me through college. I’m slowly being talked into NaNoWriMo, and I can only imagine how much easier it would be with better focus. I also know if I can get back in the habit of writing, and I can build my confidence up, I should be able to start submitting things for publishing by the end of the year. Some of that will come from continuing the path of making me a better me, but I know for a fact from past history that this goal would be better reached with ADD meds.

I need to be able to articulate all of this in a couple of hours. I also need to be able to articulate how much I do not want to be on SSRIs or their kin. Those don’t make a better me – they make a zombie me. They also affect my writing. That was part of the reason I stopped taking them in college after the “circumstances that caused me to need meds weren’t changing and the band-aid they provided was making things worse not better every time I plateaued and had to increase my dose again” reason. It was becoming almost impossible to write anything let alone 2-3 academic papers a week. Trying another one of those because it might help with pain isn’t worth the risks to me, especially not since I am finally starting to work myself past some of the self-imposed writer’s blocks I put on myself. I need to be able to write and I can’t afford to lose that.

Besides that, as frustrating as anxiety can be and as frustrating as fluctuating emotions can be, I FAR prefer that to feeling nothing when I took those meds. In the past, I needed that numbing effect to help me deal with my life at the time. For the place I am at now, especially given how hard I have been working on creating better habits for dealing with anxiety and depression without letting them rule my thoughts, going back on those meds would be so counter-productive. I haven’t worked this hard on myself to lose that effort to things that numb me and leave me feeling less like myself.

When I first was diagnosed with fibro and CFS, it seemed like every doctor wanted to put me on an SSRI. I flat refused because it had only been a few months since I finally stopped feeling the lost/numbing effects of the last one I’d been on. I talked to one of my old family doctors about it at the time and explained my logic behind my refusal. He noted that (at least at the time) they had a 33% success rate for fibro, and given the reasons I had, he didn’t think it was the path for me. After that, every time I’ve seen a new doctor and they see I have depression in my health history, it is one of the first things they suggest. I had one rheumatologist examine me who had made her mind up before I ever walked in the door that I just needed an SSRI and I’d be fine. She ignored things I presented with like my purple fingers – a marker of Reynaud’s – and she kept ignoring how much pain her “simple” exam was causing my muscles and joints and noted that “everything was fine”. There’s not a single note of ANY of my distress upon her exam but a lot of notes of how I refused both an SSRI and Lyrica. The first I’ve already explained. The second was because that wasn’t terribly long after I’d had an allergic reaction to Gabitril which is in a similar family. Basically, because I had a history of depression in high school and early college, that was clearly my problem and I wasn’t worth her time.

Given how I feel about SSRIs and their ilk (and how poorly I did on tricyclics when I tried those at the beginning of this crazy ride of chronic illness), I don’t see them as the best option for me. In light of new research into fibro that suggests the illness comes from nerve problems in the hands and feet, I feel even more strongly against them. What I am willing to look at is something like Neurontin. I was prescribed it before but I didn’t take it because of being leery after Gabitril; however, now I’m willing to try again with medicine testing because it has been several years and my body seems to enjoy changing how it reacts to things from time to time. I might even be willing to try Lyrica, though I would rather it not be the first line of testing.

I feel a bit better now that I managed to sort some of this out. I tried a couple of times yesterday to no avail. Apparently a lack of sleep and a hastily ticking countdown to the appointment were good motivators. Every now and then, I wish my brain would cooperate a bit more normally, but then I remember that normal is only a setting on the washing machine; instead of wishing for something different, right now I’m just going to be grateful I got so much written down.

Of course, my alarm is going to go off in less than two hours and I might be a bit cranky, but I will strive to keep the sense of tired calm I have right now. The question is, do I try to take an hour and a half nap or do I just go curl up with RIn and read until it’s time to get ready? Also, do I let the therapist read the second half of this entry or do I just stick to trying to talk it out? Blerg. Not sure.

We can do hard things. Love wins. 

I’m having trouble sleeping tonight. Part of it has to do with neighbors who keep making noise at ridiculous hours of the night which is making me want to go outside in my fleece penguin pajama pants and yell. Loudly. Alas, that would make me as much of an ass as they are being and would not really solve anything. I suspect part of it is that stress is kind of making me more tense than I want to be. I keep trying to breathe my way through it all and not let worry be the boss of me, but until Wednesday, I am kind of in a holding pattern in the health department and that is always stressful. I am not the most patient person, (shocking, I know) so waiting for a nebulous thing isn’t always something I am good at. There are still too many potentials and so, I fret despite my best efforts not to. Fretting aside, here’s a week in recap.

Goodbye Gluten
On the whole though, the last week has gone fairly smoothly. Adapting to being gluten free has had some stressful moments, but it has been doable without a lot of extra trouble. The biggest thing is remembering to read all the labels and trying to keep all of the sneaky gluten words in my head. Overall, it has been going pretty well though. Aside from adapting things that Rin already makes, we have tried a few different prepackaged things, too, because it just isn’t feasible for her to try to cook from scratch every night right now. She and I wandered around Whole Foods one night checking out all of their offerings. They have a pretty wide selection, though a lot of it is pricey (which we already knew). We did pick up a few things that were on sale including two types of Udi’s GF pizzas. The first one we tried was the four cheese and it was actually surprisingly good. The second was the Mediterranean one and it was less good. There were a few other things we picked up but I haven’t tried them all yet.

Saturday, Rin and K went out to the farmer’s market and the thrift stores in part to look for clothes for the ever-growing munchkin. Having started the Great K Try-On, we’ve realized she has more gaps this year than she has the last couple of years, so we are getting a head start on looking for some of the things she needs before we get to the point that she really needs them. While they were out, Rin picked up a couple of Udi’s GF chocolate muffins. They looked awesome, but for some bizarre reason, they flavored them with lemon extract and lemon zest and it just did not work for me at all. I like lemons, but I typically do not like them in baked goods. Rin does like lemons, but for her, the taste didn’t mesh with the dark chocolate of the muffins. K is going to try it in the morning. We figure that she will love it because she loves lemons and dark chocolate so it seems like it might be perfect for her.

They also managed to get to Rabbit Moon’s booth at the Farmer’s market and bought macaroons because they are also GF and super tasty. Also, since she uses natural things like fruits and veggies to dye the shells, they are not insanely bright colors chock full of dye. Seriously, if you’re local and you get a chance to try her macaroons, you should. They are amazing and I love them and I am so glad I can still eat them!

Tonight for dinner, Rin decided that tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches sounded tasty. Now, I have only recently become a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches and that is largely due to the cheese shop in town. Rin kind of dragged me there under protest, but it has become a place I like to go. The owners are as nice as can be and they’ll let you try samples of pretty much everything in the shop. I’m not a huge cheese fan unlike my girls, but I am slowly finding some that I really like. Last weekend, they had a blend of three cheeses on the sandwiches that was seriously one if the best things I’ve had to eat in awhile. It just flat worked for me. As a treat, Rin picked up some of all three earlier this week which was super sweet of her. Tonight, she and K ran to the library and then stopped at the grocery store to get a few things. She picked up Udi’s GF white bread for my sandwich and found a GF tomato soup that was super tasty. Yo have to understand that tomato soup is something I am pretty picky about. I love Campbell’s tomato soup which is alas not GF. I don’t know what brand she picked up, but it was really, really good. I was also pretty pleased with the bread. I amused K because I said, “It looks like bread and it smells like bread…” She giggled and said, “But does it taste like bread?” I grinned and tried it and said, “Yes, yes it does!”

I’m sure there will be trials ahead, after all, eating out is where things will be really interesting, but so far, this GF trial is going pretty well.

Knitting Projects
On FB this week, I talked about learning to increase and decrease. The first project was just me playing with a shape to practice the techniques. I made a slightly off kilter hexagon (that I mistakenly called an octagon because I do that and Rin giggled at me :p) that wasn’t great to look at, but it did successfully show the techniques. After that, I found a pattern for heart shaped washcloths and started working on that. I will post a link to the pattern later but it is on the laptop and I am on the tablet. I will also eventually post a picture but the washcloth was conscripted into use fairly quickly and no one wants a picture of a wet washcloth, right? I am pretty proud of it to be honest. I learned several new things included ssk (slip slip knit) and k2tog (knit 2 together) and I also successfully used a different colored piece of yarn as a stitch holder (including taking those stitches off the needles and then getting them back on without dropping any). It probably seems a small thing to people who have been knitting for awhile, but for me it was pretty dadgum huge and I a quite proud. This week, I am going to work on more hats and hopefully get started on a few more $winterholiday gifts once I get some measurements that I need. I was skeptical of this hobby at first, but it is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do and it actually can be pretty relaxing.

Reading
I have been reading the 500 Kingdoms series by Mercedes Lackey this week thanks to a generous gift from a friend. I know a lot of folks are not as fond of these as they are of her other works, but I can be a sucker for a “happily ever after” story and I love how Misty handles the fairy tales. Prior to this week I had only read the first two, but I finished the last one tonight and I enjoyed all of them. My favorite was the fourth one though. It is The Sleeping Beauty and it was very entertaining. There was a bit more humor in that one and the way the tale is out together is pretty fascinating. She combined three different tales to make that one and to me it worked pretty well. Reading the series has provided a much needed bit of distraction and happy this week and I just love how the whole series is put together.

The premise behind it is that the 500 Kingdoms are ruled by The Tradition. The Tradition likes to turn stories into real life and can be a force to be reckoned with. At the helm of guiding the Tradition are the Fairy Godmothers whose job is to help guide stories and in a lot of cases to try to avoid some of the worst endings. That doesn’t mean that everything is bliss though. After all, a kingdom that is too perfect is an even larger target for a terrible Traditional tale than a kingdom that has some ups and downs. Interwoven with the Godmothers are Champions, Witches, Wizards, and a cast of characters straight out of fairy tales. While some of the stories can be predictable, that doesn’t take away from how you get to the happily ever after and for me, that is one of the most fun parts. They may not be everyone’s cup of team but they pretty much hit me in the happy place sweet spot. Fairy tales, romance, adventure, dragons (including Bookwyrm’s), and magic definitely fall into my “happy place” of reading. I recommend them much as I recommend anything else that Misty writes.

Of course now I am not sure what to start next though there are a ton of books waiting to be read on my Kindle, so who knows.

I think that about wraps it up for me tonight. I am getting more tired and thus I am having to correct more typos so it is probably time to give this up until next time. I hope you’ve enjoyed my late night ramblings and I hope I fixed all of the typos.

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.

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.

You know what really is irritating? Trying the new post feature and it eating your post… yep. That’s irritating.

I know I need to write more and I’ve been pretty slack-ass about it of late. I’ve done a mix of lengthy, thought out posts on FB followed by periods of utter quiet and lack of word sharing much of anywhere or with anyone. I need to create a new habit of remembering to write more and to actually try to get the word chaos down to a minimum in my head. (And, really, the first version of this post was worded much more clearly and neatly and argh, stupid draft not saving properly!)

I’m not making any promises, not even to myself, because that always fails abysmally. I miss a step and then I work myself into a fit of anxiety over writing that is mostly for me and then I miss another step and then I don’t write anything for months. It’s a bad pattern and it’s one I am hoping to ease myself into breaking. I’m working on mental and physical health improvement across this board and this is one of the areas that needs work.

I likely will need some help along the way with encouragement and maybe a light nudge in the writing direction (or perhaps a less than gentle nudge from time to time). I tend to be able to write more frequently if I know people are reading. I also need to remember that even if I am just writing a silly post about Farmville, it’s still writing and it’s worth doing. Perhaps that last part is key.

There’s a blog I read called Momastery written by Glennon Melton. She challenges me to think in ways that I’m not accustomed to thinking and I’m trying to take more of her messages to heart as opposed to just reading them, agreeing, and then forgetting five minutes later. One of the things that she writes about is how the Momastery is a place for the Monkees (her followers) to be enough and to have a place for them to share who they are without fear of judgement or reprisal. It is a place where love is strong and that’s the most important thing. It’s a pretty amazing community and yet I find myself frequently hiding from it because I’m not always ready to deal with the Truths that she says. (It’s easier to remain hidden than to open myself up to fragility, right?)

The simplest answer is, no, not really.

This year has been hard. It’s been filled with a lot of ups and downs and a lot of things that have made me question a lot of things about myself. I started finding a place for myself with a group of people and it fell to hell in a handbasket and I am still so very angry because being angry is just a fraction easier than dealing with the hurt that lies beneath. I’m mending, though. I don’t end up in a blind rage when I see certain people mentioned and I don’t want to scream if I start thinking about a certain organization. But, there’s still a long way to go because I am still angry. However, that’s it’s own post entirely. Part of that anger stems from the loss of the things that I felt I had accomplished within myself. The self-doubt has returned in droves and it is oh, so hard to deal with.

I am struggling to work through some of that. I am struggling to learn how to properly deal with Big, Emotional Feelings and Overwhelming Mental Anxieties and it is slow going because the ways that I’ve dealt with those things in the past haven’t always been healthy or conducive to mending from them. It’s easy to shove things away and pretend that everything is fine; however, that doesn’t mean that everything is fine. This process has not been easy and gods know it’s certainly been hard as hell on Rin because she tends to end up taking the brunt of the emotional roller coaster that is me. Yet, I know that this battle is important, and so, I’m trying even though every instinct I have says to take it all and hide it because people might use it against you.

Here’s the thing, whether it’s hidden or not, if people want to find something to use against you, they’ll manage to do so, even if they have to make it up. Hiding behind a facade of “everything is fine” might make you a more pleasant person, but it isn’t particularly honest. (Yeah, imagine how THAT revelation felt in the midst of a giant pity party earlier this year. It was like a giant boot to the head and then some.) So, I try to not hide the fact that there are days where everything isn’t perfectly okay and that I’m not quite all right. I’m trying not to hide from All The People simply because I was hurt by a few. (Though I’ve been pretty lousy about this one and Mana’s been one of the few people who I think has realized that sometimes the path to finding me is to send me umpty dozen random FB messages and waiting until I find a moment that I can answer them. In that, she’s been pretty amazing and even when I’ve not been utterly up front about how I’m feeling/doing, she’s still there…pretty much the same way she has been for the last fifteen years. She rocks like that.)

I want to write everyone off. I want to curl up in my own cynical little world and sit on my moral high horse that says, “Well, obviously, people are just going to hurt me so why should I share anything with them,” but it’s not the correct path to follow. Also, Rin tends to drag me out from time to time whether I want to go or not. >_> It’s usually a good thing though because then I run into people like Boni and Doyle and the other Brothers of the Wind folks who, as Rin frequently reminds me, like me and want to spend time with me and who miss me when I send her and K to do things without me. It’s hard to remember sometimes, though. It’s hard to process. Why? Obviously I’m flawed in some horrible, awful way, right? Isn’t that what the last 8 months I held office in the SCA taught me, that being honest and trying really damned hard and trying to do what people wanted wasn’t enough? That perfection was more important than intent and that I was useful only until they found someone else they wanted to use more? Isn’t that what the interrogations and the accusations said, that I was a horrible person who was dishonest and who took credit for other peoples’ work and who was sneaky and underhanded and just plain wrong? Aaaah. Yes. Still angry. Still hurting. It didn’t seem to matter that I had solid evidence that went contrary to lies that were told about me or that I was doing my damndest with what I had to work with. I know in a lot of ways that I was turned into a scapegoat and in others I achieved a purpose that a couple of people wanted and everything after that was inconsequential. I just…don’t know why. I’ve still not gotten an answer to that and I suspect that’s part of the problem.

The people who were the most outspoken against me never actually came to me and said, “This is the problem and this is what I would like you to do.” Even worse, they tried to say that I never went to -them- with problems, despite the fact that I spent a couple of months and multiple mediums of communication to try to do just that. And in all of that I kept losing bits and pieces of myself and I kept losing the bits and pieces of purpose I had found and I kept losing the sense that I could, in fact do more than I thought I could and I just…kept losing. And I tried to put a cork in the leak but it didn’t work very well and the feelings of inadequacy and horrible personness continued the longer that things dragged out and while I’m still glad that I managed to walk in one last time and say my piece, I still feel like I got a raw deal and I still feel as though there should have been at least some sign of remorse on the parts of other parties involved. But mostly, I really just want to know why two of the people who had become very close friends here in my new state of residence decided that I was no longer worth talking to and I’d really just like to know what was so utterly wrong with me that they felt they couldn’t even -tell- me what it was that had upset them so much. I even tried writing one of them a letter and…she refused to read it.

No answers makes it really hard to properly heal. Yet I’m trying. I’m trying to put the bitterness and the anger away and I’m trying to not let it color the entire organization for me, but the simple fact is that I’ve not been to an event since Val Day and while there have been a couple that I thought about going to, the anxiety about walking into drama or walking into an event and being ostracized and the anxiety about randomly bursting into tears because the bubble I made inside the Dream was so irrevocably burst that I just…I can’t do it. I’ve set myself a goal though: I want to go to Val Day next February. I really enjoy that event and it is very easy to find people who are kind and who will talk to you no matter who you are or where you’re from and who will perhaps listen to you as you try not to cry for things lost (and to those two esteemed Ladies who I spoke with at the end of Val Day last year I have nothing but thanks) and basically, it’s a large enough event that it’s easy to just go experience the Society and not be mired in politics or whatever else. But even now, when it’s a couple of months away, I can already hear the little voices asking me why I want to bother and is it really worth it?

The reason I want to bother is simple: the medieval and the Renaissance are my periods in history. They pretty much always have been. I’ve had fun at many SCA events and I’ve met some amazing people and Kingdom events like ValDay are good places to run into those people. I want to bother because I miss the magic that events held for me in the past and I want to at least try to piece some of that back together and I think that to completely work on healing that I’m going to have to go to at least one more and just see what it’s like in the aftermath of the Awful Things. I need to see in person if it is going to be something that is irrevocably broken or if there is a place for me somewhere in the Society though there is not one in the local area.

The idea scares the hell out of me though. What if some of the people that I respect (like Her Most Awesomeness Runa Kirri or Master JP) won’t talk to me as they have in the past? What if they believed the bull shit that was spread? What if, what if, what if? It’s frustrating as hell and terrifying at the same time. But…maybe Val Day is a realistic goal. Maybe. We’ll see.

…Hrm, perhaps losing the original post was a good thing given that it was about two paragraphs long and this is a lot longer and…okay, well, it’s certainly taken a slightly awkward, painful turn, but these words have been running around my head for months so maybe it’s time for them to come out.

So, yes, it’s been a hard year and I’ve kind of only been so-so at the recovery process. When you pour yourself heart and soul into people and into goals and activities, it is really hard to find equilibrium again in the aftermath, but I’m trying. I’m trying to not let the little voices in my head that tell me how I obviously screwed things up or how I’m obviously just a crap person or whatever other ridiculous lie or half-truth or warped truth that they say win.

Sadly, they have been though. Sure, I’ve managed to attend some social things and I’ve tried to makes steps to be more a part of Brothers of the Wind even though the periods they tend to reenact aren’t my favorites (though Rin and K love them to pieces), but I keep holding pieces of myself back because I don’t want to end up in the same place again and I don’t want to be hurt again and I just…I just…oh, I have so many excuses. In the midst of all of that, I’m trying to find Things to Occupy My Time, though I’m better at thinking of the idea of me picking up a hobby more than me actually doing it it seems. I’m trying to work on this one, too.

I am a work in progress. I know we all can say that for we write pieces of our story every day, but this year has been hard…hell, the last few years have been hard…and I’m trying to find my way out of cocoons and prisons of my own making to try to find my place in the world. I’m trying to figure out who I am because, though I’m thirty-one years old, I really don’t have a clue what the answer to that question is and I don’t really have an answer to the question “what do you want to do with your life” because I don’t know that I ever had really stable answers to those questions anyway.

I’ve been this thing for this group of people and that thing for that group of people and I’ve always hidden bits and pieces of myself away (though there are a few people who’ve managed to find their way through the chaos field to figure out a bit more than I let on…whether I always wanted them to or not). I’m K’s Mommy and Rin’s girlfriend and I’m a daughter and a sister and an Auntie B and a friend and a spoonie and a sometimes writer and a procrastinator and a lover of Farmville (I know…it’s awful, but I love it) and music lover and a cat lover and a history nerd and…a lot of other small pieces but…I don’t always have the blueprint to the bigger picture.

The lack of blueprint and the utter brokenness that I’ve found myself feeling this year have led to me trying to make new habits and patterns. Sometimes it works…sometimes it doesn’t. There are days where I burst into tears for no discernible reason beyond “ALL THE THINGS” and I don’t entirely know what to do with myself sometimes. I’ve not been in -that- state in…well, awhile. Close, but not quite to that level of anxiety/broken feeling. Yet every time I tell Rin that I’m broken, she finds a way to disagree with me that I actually try to listen to because deep down in my soul I know that if I were truly broken, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things that I do. At my heart, I am a survivor – it’s what I do – it’s just that the last few months have been more about surviving at a very basic level and letting the world pass by around me.

Now, though, I’m finding myself at the point that “just surviving” isn’t enough and I know that I need to make more changes and I need to start taking better care of myself again and I need to start becoming more actively engaged with the world around me and not just my tiny piece of it in my house. There’ve been a lot of things I’ve read in the last week or so that seem to be guiding me on this path and instead of just filing away useful tidbits, I’m trying to listen. I’m trying to listen to the voices that ride in the night with the moon that gently speak to me when all else seems lost. I’m trying to listen to the words that others have so boldly written, sharing their fragility and their vulnerability and their craziness and their courage and their pain and their love and their laughter and the fact that even in the middle of chaos and utter hell they are still going because life keeps going. (Writers like Jenny Lawson and Glennon remind me that we’re all in this together and that pain is part of life and that sharing those things with the world can sometimes help other people struggling on the road. Glennon coined a word – brutiful – that I love. It’s the combination of “brutal” and “beautiful” because you cannot have one without the other and it seems very fitting to my state of mind of late. In the midst of the joy there’s a whole lot of pain and I’m working on learning how to navigate those waters.)

As the holiday season started coming closer and closer, my anxiety ramped anew. Places that had been newly healed proved to still be raw and achy if pressured. The Holidays and I have a long history of not getting along. There’ve been times in my life that I’ve hated them far more than I’ve loved them and I’ve hated the drama and the ugliness that seems to abound at this time of year and as Holiday Season 2012 loomed, I cringed inside and wanted to just call the whole thing off; however, that’s not really a viable option. Instead, after discussing things, Rin and I decided that we would spend Thanksgiving in South Bend this year because we were both still tired from the summer drives to Georgia (probably me more than her because I was still finding the idea of the drive so very daunting and Thanksgiving in GA last year was nice but it was so very hectic and rushed and I just…I couldn’t deal, so we decided to stay home for Thanksgiving) and that eased a fraction of the tension. Of course, that also meant that we had to figure out Christmas plans and where we’d be when but I’ll come back to that in a minute or ten.

The decision to stay at home helped ease some of the impending doom feeling. Black Friday also helped, though it was certainly a chaotic BF even for us. First, some background. I understand that BF is a commercial day of insanity and only crazy people go out and all the other things that people like to bring up when they talk about it. That said, you have to understand that it’s part of my holiday ritual. I love BF. I love the challenge and the chase and the energy that can run around stores and just the general goofiness of it all. It’s exciting and so long as you’re not going after the major high tech items, it doesn’t have to turn into a potential mob scene. Amusingly, a lot of times the things that we buy on BF are things like blankets, jeans, and other things that we use on a regular basis as opposed to luxury type items. We buy some of those, too, but in general, some of the best sales of the year on staple items happen that day.

This year, I was a bit dismayed that the sales were starting on Thanksgiving evening for several reasons: one, it is really kind of insane; two, it meant less prep time (which did become a factor later); and three, it meant that the crowds were likely to be bigger since it wasn’t some insane time in the middle of the night. We had Thanksgiving dinner at T’s parents’ house and as the time for stores to open neared, we realized we’d made a mistake and had forgotten to ask T if he had room in his car to take K home with him. Oops. He did not. Rin and I consulted a bit given that we were contemplating going to Toys’R’Us (which I NEVER do early on BF…never!) for a few things. We decided to take K with us since she’d been asking to go for a little bit of shopping and since TRU is on the same side of town as the in-laws’ house and the opposite side of town as our house.

We arrived shortly after the store had opened and the line was starting into the parking lot. Five minutes later and we’d have been there a whole lot longer. As it stood, we were cursing the fact that we’d not made it home before the shopping started. (See, we’d planned on making a stop at home to drop the kiddo off and get our warmer clothing and make our battle plan BEFORE the shopping started but it just didn’t work out that way. It kind of sucked because while it had been a lovely 60 in the afternoon, the nighttime temp had dropped about 30 degrees.) We waited in line trying not to freeze and being grateful that we’d actually managed to snag a cart. It started to rain about two minutes before we went inside for which I was very grateful for not having to stay out in the cold rain!

A divide and conquer mission ensued as we split up to look for a few pivotal items. K ended up finding a video game to play in the electronics section and stayed there while we did most of the shopping (which did make it easier to hide things in the cart so she couldn’t see them). She had fun taking turns with other kids and we got the things we’d been looking for. Alas, we ended up being there a lot longer than we had anticipated and so by the time we were done, we really needed to head straight to Target to check on a couple of things. K was happy because it meant that she got to do more shopping.

We were at Target for quite awhile looking at different types of things, price checking other things, and in general trying to figure out what all we needed. This was one of the stores that not being able to make my typical BF battle plan posed a problem. It meant that things took longer than normal which combined with having to artfully hide things from the small child and then trying to do math at the end of the trip before check-out, well, we were there a whole lot longer than we’d planned. We did have some really good successes, though, so that was certainly a bonus.

By that point, I was expecting the munchkin to be dead on her feet…nope, she was still rearing to go. It was around 4am. o_O Yep. I was impressed, too. We stopped at Krispy Kreme after Target because everyone needs a hot doughnut when the Hot Light is on, right? From there we went to Old Navy to try jeans on the small person. Usually, dressing rooms are anathema to me on BF but I made an exception this year given how difficult it had been to find the kid even three pairs of jeans that fit her well. (Seriously, earlier in the week, she and Rin went on a five and a half hour jeans hunt ranging from Target to Kohl’s to Meijer and their luck wasn’t all that great and the ones they did find were MUCH more expensive than we usually pay for kid’s jeans. The trick is that the kiddo is tall and slim but she has hips and a bum and since they are making little girls’ jeans to be low cut and skinny fit, well, the combo doesn’t go all that well.) Thankfully, we had luck in both the girls’ and boys’ section at ON and bought four pairs of jeans there with the plan to take two of the pairs they’d found earlier in the week back since they were more expensive. Rin and I also found jeans and I was pretty excited because they had an 18 short in the style that fits me best so that was pretty awesome.

Unfortunately, we also went through the clearance section in the girls’ department and K kept adding things to the cart and I’d found several things that were cute and Rin had found things…we were in the dressing room for a very long time. (Just for the record we were keeping an ear out for the dressing rooms to become more busy than they were when we went in so we weren’t just hogging a stall to try on a million things.) As we would finish with sets of things we’d give them back to the attendants outside and they kind of loved us because we actually folded everything back the way it was meant to be folded and put things back on hangers. It amazes me how many people DON’T do that. Seriously. It’s common courtesy. Sheesh. Anyway, so, there was much trying on of things and a bit of lamenting from the child for a few of the things that didn’t fit but pleasure at the ones that did. We finally finished and then headed for checkout.

It was nearing 10 at that point, but we were all hungry. We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick attempt at food (it was only so-so) and then headed to Joann’s. That was the other store that not having a battle plan for was problematic. Eight hours later, I left a beaten woman. 😀 Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but there were certainly times in the fabric store that I wondered what the hell we were doing. (The answer was buying flannel at 75% off/yard and various other things we needed/wanted for projects.) Our first stop was actually the patterns since many of the Butterick patterns were $0.99. We also thought the McCall’s patterns were $0.99, alas though they were in the ad, that price was for the 29th. Argh. Irritating given how much time Rin spent pulling out patterns, mostly for American Girl size clothes and the like.

I made notes of all the patterns and K ended up putting them back a few at a time. It gave her something useful and helpful to do. We ran into Mrs. Peyton her drama teacher from Hamilton and she reassured us that we are first on her list of helpers for Drama Club this year. (We’d arranged last year for K to be able to come in and help – and Rin and I, too, since we had such good luck wrangling the munchkins.) They are performing The Little Mermaid this year so K is excited to be helping with that. Mrs. Peyton also recommended that we get a number for the fabric cutting counter early rather than waiting until we were done. We ended up trading numbers a few times throughout the day, but it was definitely a good tip.

At the end of the craziness, we weeded through a lot of the impulse fabric picks and came up with specific uses/projects for each bit that we got as opposed to just randomly buying whatever we wanted. After some discussion, Rin helped me realize that she could, indeed makes skirts and petticoats out of flannel, and thus several of the choices were made with that in mind. Some of the bits are for doll clothes and other projects like that. I honestly can’t remember how many yards and bolts we bought, but we definitely amused the woman who was cutting our fabric.

After we left Joann’s, it was dark again and we were all pooped. (Also, we were bummed that we had missed Boni’s Green Friday sale but the eight hours at the fabric store kind of killed that.) We started trying to figure out what to eat because we were all hungry and if we needed to do anymore shopping. We ended up heading to Logan’s because we know how to eat fairly frugally there. Rin and K shared the dinner plate and I had K’s kids’ meal since they like their steak cooked the same way and I like mine more cooked. It was so-so and we were pretty upset with the manager. He dumped the rolls before they closed so we couldn’t have any fresh ones and he was just being a bit of a jerk. I get that they were tired and ready to go home; however, there were still a few tables in the dining room so he was jumping the gun a bit.

We had one last stop to make after dinner since I’d told Dad and Adam that I’d hit the Hanes sale at Meijer. I started to become irritated fairly quickly. Their Friday sale ended at midnight but their Saturday sale didn’t start until 6am. It was a bit ridiculous and frustrating, particularly since one employee was VERY rude and snotty at me. She had us thinking that if we didn’t check out by midnight we’d lose the sale prices…it was quarter til when we got to the store, so I was half running to keep up with Rin and K to get to checkout. Turns out we had an HOUR to check out. The saving grace of that store was the two employees working the front registers. The guy was running his butt off and the girl was just nice and helped reassure me that we could still pick up a few of the things we’d been looking for and she was quite apologetic for the other employee’s rudeness.

We made a quick check through the store and I was cheering up (I was tired, in a lot of pain, and REALLY upset at the way the other employee had treated me) as I relaxed. Finding the 3 pack of Aladdin cups that I LOVE for $10 instead of $20 which is a SUPER FREAKING DEAL since those things are normally $8 a cup. Woot! We did some poking around the toy section and the movie section but a lot of the things I’d been aiming to look at were already gone. It was about 1:30am (on Saturday) when we were leaving Meijer and Rin and I were so. very. done. The thought of going to another store was pretty much making me want to be violent, so of course the ten year old was all, “Where are we going now?!” She did not want to go home. *headshake*

After all was said and done, we all had fun, but there were definitely some lessons learned. While K CAN keep up that long, there were a few times that having her with us made the shopping harder and not just because we were trying to keep her from seeing things. It meant one more person that we had to keep an eye out for which added a bit of stress at some of the busier times. Having to hide things did add to a challenge. On the whole though, I was super impressed with her behavior. She had fun and there were only one or two times where she was acting like a punk and that was when she was getting hungry…and when we wouldn’t buy the $8/yd. meh My Little Pony fleece fabric. Other lessons learned include making sure that we have our warmer clothes/extra snacks/extra shoes/etc. ready BEFORE going to the family shindig even if we are sure we’ll make it home in between and making sure that we both have a chance to go through the paper ads and make a list. Several stores took a lot longer because we had to walk around them a lot more than we typically would have simply because we couldn’t remember what all we were looking for. All in all though, we did pretty well, though Rin and I realized we had overbought a few things and thus have been working on taking some of those things back.

Saturday, we ALL slept all day. I woke up around midnight Sunday morning and was up for a couple of hours before heading back to bed. I spent a lot of Sunday in bed, too, though Rin and K were both a little more active. Twenty-eightish hours of shopping is perhaps a bit much for gimpy folks but the end results were largely worth it.

Now, though, it’s a week after Black Friday and that means that decisions have to be made about traveling over Christmas and that means stress. (I wrote more about that in the other post and I’m not repeating myself overly much about that here because that’s just silly.) I do know that things will work out and we will get where we need to go (likely late) and we’ll see folks and it will be good…but the anxiety monster is trying to do a number on me. I just keep trying to remember to breathe.

…somewhere in all of this I lost a train of thought or five and I’m not entirely sure how to pick them back up again. I know some of it was talking about Glennon’s writing and the messages that she seems to be zooming at my head today. I read this post earlier and while a lot of it is more about Glennon’s personal journey, there were bits and pieces that caught at my attention. Because I was curious, I Googled the title and found it incredibly appropriate. In researching, I realized that a) she’d transposed two of the letters in “kuom” (it should be “koum”), b) that it is Aramaic, and c) that it is generally translated to “Rise up little girl.” It struck me as incredibly pertinent for a couple of reasons: the fragile state that I seem to be occupying in the latter months of this year could certainly be indicative of state of a child and the call to “rise up” strikes me as particularly apt given the growing realizations inside myself that it’s time to slip out of the “just surviving state” and move into the “actively living” state. Another interpretation says that it means “Damsel arise” which is equally fitting and perhaps a bit more so.

She closes the post with the sentence, “Don’t think. Just listen and do, ” which is certainly advice I need to take to heart. I am very good at thinking of things that I need to be/could be doing; however, I’m not always great at following through on those. I’m very good at doubting myself and my abilities to do things…though I could likely just end that sentence at “doubting myself.” There is certainly something to be said for embracing the quiet things the universe whispers to us and following through on those whispers and it’s something that I definitely need to work on attuning myself to again. On the page that explains what the Momastery is, Glennon uses a quote from Mother Teresa that caught me again as I was rereading the page earlier and ties back to my realization that I’ve done so much self-isolating that I’ve gone too far. The quote is, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that We Belong to Each Other.” How striking is that idea? It is certainly something that I will let brew in the back of my head for a bit.

I started veering off into another point but I think that will have to be its own post for later. After 6ooo+ words and several hours I’m finding myself both drained and tired.