There’s Always Gonna be Another Mountain

I really struggled with a title for this one, as it sits I’m starting this with no title at all.  My “But I’m an Atheist” piece was surprisingly popular, it provoked a lot of conversation.  This one is more for me to get things off my chest because I feel very weighted down right now and don’t have anybody to really talk to.

There’s a term for people like me, I’m an Adult Child of an Alcoholic.  An ACoA.  Apparently a lot of what I’ve considered my personality flaws are actually traits of other ACoAs.  There’s a whole laundry list of things that characterize us.  It’s pretty spot on.  If you’re interested, here’s that list:
ACoA Laundry List

The first one on the list is, “We become isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.”  One of my biggest weaknesses is my social anxiety.  I haven’t quite pinpointed what I’m afraid of, honestly.  I think it’s rejection, though.  The second item on the list is, “We become approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.”  While I can’t say that I’m afraid of authority figures, I can say I seek their approval.  I always wanted to be in the good light in my teachers’ eyes, I pride myself in being a lawful citizen with a spotless driving record, I’m trying to be as active as I can in my community, and all because I want to please.  I want to please everybody and have them think highly of me, or I fear that they will reject me.

I don’t know that I’ve mentioned this person before, but my dad dated a woman for 8-10 years, I’ll call her Cindy.  He and Cindy broke up 10 years or so ago but she and I have kept in touch.  She has a unique roll in my life because she got to see this part of my world from the belly of it; she saw that my dad couldn’t get us for custody visits because he was too drunk, he could cook for us because he was too drunk, he couldn’t do anything.  So she did it.  She’s a mom so she mothered us when he couldn’t be a father.  She went with us on trips to my grandparents’ house a couple times and she got to meet the unique duo that is my dad’s parents.  They always treated us so differently from our cousins, my brother and I, we got different breakfasts, less dinner, a different tone of voice, we couldn’t watch TV but our cousin coulds, but nobody believed us if we tried telling them.  Until Cindy.

Cindy saw it with her own eyes.  Once I became an adult and had a more hands-on role in my dad’s life, she and I got closer.  I looked forward to our phone calls, we’d text throughout the day, and one day she brought up how my grandparents treated me.  She went on and on, she even cried, telling me that it was wrong and cruel, she remembered sitting at the table helpless while my grandparents went on and on about how much awesome our cousin was doing but brushed off anything we did.  She saw it all.  I tried so hard to please them.  All the time.  As hurt as I am about it now I still find myself trying to please them.

Cindy also opened up to me a lot about how my dad treated her, which was terrible.  I’ve been in a domestic violence relationship, I know how hard it is to leave, but the people who were in my life during that point of my life, I’d never do to them what Cindy did to me.  I remember listening to how my dad spoke to her, the nicknames he gave her, how he’d treat her when she walked by, my dad was a jerk.  And that’s only what I saw once or twice a month, I know it was worse when we weren’t there.

Yesterday I called Cindy to catch up.  I’ve been so busy and have had some major changes in my life that I really wanted to share with her, she’d always been so supportive of the things I got into.  The conversation started great, we were excited to hear each other’s voices, we were laughing about things, then she asked about my dad.  I started going into it, not telling her the full extent of what was going on as of late because that wasn’t why I called, and her whole tone shifted.  She became cold and mean.

Another trait that ACoAs have is that we internalize everything.  We have terribly low self-esteem, we judge ourselves too harshly, if we try to stand up for ourselves we usually end up feeling guiltier than anything.  It’s no secret that I have anxiety.  I have all of these fears about what I’m doing with my life and the worst way people could perceive that; doctors tell me that’s my anxiety, my panic.  My church tells me that’s the devil whispering in my ear.  Through meds and prayer I’ve been able to squash a lot of the negative and climb above those worries.  Until that conversation with Cindy.

She found each. and. every. single. thing. I am anxious about in my life and she shoved it in my face.  She blamed me for all of it.  According to Cindy I’m a greedy bitch, I have a useless degree, who cares that I own a daycare, I’m just a glorified babysitter and her felon sister did the same thing, I’m worthless, she never loved me and was kind to me because she loved my brother more (which has always been a worry of mine with my own mother).  She called me a glutton for punishment, that I asked for all of this with my dad because I’m a sick control freak and this is my way of being able to pull the strings.  Then she said, “You are just like your dad.  I hate your dad.  I hope he dies because he deserves to die.  You’re just like him.”

I calmly said, “I’m done with this conversation, take care of yourself,” and I hung up.  Then I cried for two hours.

It’s one thing to have anxiety and panic disorder.  It’s chaos in my own head all the time.  I fear all of those things and have successfully convinced myself for years that it’s just me, it’s just the anxiety, nobody really thinks that.

But Cindy did.  Cindy said it out loud.  To me.  With no mercy in her voice.  Her voice was steady and strong and fierce.  She spoke with conviction.  Like those words were there, brewing for years.

And in her one tirade, her episode of word vomit, she knocked me down on years of self-help and confidence-building.  I really just feel so low right now.

Logically I know what she said isn’t true.  She’s angry and she’s projecting.  I was able to leave my sick father, start a good life for myself with a good man in a new place, and she’s stuck where she is.  She can’t leave.  She sees my dad around town.  I know she was angry and taking it out on me.  However, I can’t help but think of that saying, “A drunk heart speaks a sober mind;” she may not have been drunk with alcohol but she sure was with rage.  The mountain I’ve been climbing for so long, each insult she threw was a stick of dynamite and she lit each fuse.  My mountain crumbled and I’m left at the bottom, covered in the debris of my anxiety and fears, and I’m too weak to have even stood up for myself.

Now I have to go shower because I have church in an hour.  I feel much lighter having gotten all of that off of my chest.

❤ ❤

Advertisements

But…I’m an Atheist…?

I have had so much on my mind lately that I’ve missed just sitting here at the computer and letting it all out.

So my dad’s health has declined.  The doctors removed all of the cancer so that currently isn’t a concern, but his mental health has taken a huge hit.  He’s very much ready to die and I understand where he’s coming from.  Looking at this as his daughter, it does make me sad.  I feel like I was deprived of a relationship, a real, quality relationship, with my dad for most of my life, and now there’s not much a relationship at all.  It’s become business.  Looking at him from a business standpoint, I understand where he’s coming from and I empathize.  I know he’s miserable.  None of us were prepared for this.  Between being stuck in the house, not being able to eat, drink, talk, anything…it’s understandable he’d sink into depression.  He’s been begging for hospice but since the cancer is gone they can’t approve it, so he was sent to palliative care.  They prescribed him some antidepressants but he won’t take them.  He just wants to die.  I kind of feel like he’s doing everything in his power to bring on death sooner.

As for my personal life, my daughter started preschool this year.  It was an emotional couple of weeks but she’s done great and has really thrived.  I was kind of excited to chat with some of the moms at drop-off and pick-up but not many really talk to me.  There’s one mom in particular who doesn’t like me, she’s made it quite clear, and if she’s nearby nobody else will talk to me.  It’s been like this for a couple of years so I’m quite used to it, I’m just bummed that the cliques didn’t end in high school.

Since nobody talks to me none of them know what’s going on with my dad, obviously.  I knew life was really getting crazy because my dreams were showing it; one night I had a dream that I was alone on a boat, I could see myself laying down on this little wooden boat in the middle of a large body of water, it was dark out so I could see the moon reflecting on the near-black water.  All of a sudden a storm picked up and waves were crashing over the boat and I just laid there, I did nothing but let the storm go on around me, crash over me.  The next day was a particularly rough day.  My dad was being so stubborn and demanding, the kids were all acting out, I just had a lot of stress going on.  I brought Charlotte to school and as I was getting in the car a mom, a mom I had only briefly met on the bike trail over the summer, approached me. (For anonymity she will be “preschool mom.”)

She said that she didn’t normally do this sort of thing and apologized if it was weird, but she had a dream about me the night before and she didn’t know if I was dealing with some storms in my life but she felt like she needed to reach out and invite me to her church, she offered for us to sit in her pew and said she wouldn’t be offended if I said ‘No.’  I thanked her and that was it.  I got in the car and as soon as my seat belt clicked I broke down.  I cried the whole way home.  She was a stranger to me, she knew nothing of my life, I’m very good about keeping my personal life personal so I know I wasn’t wearing my emotions.  It was just weird.  I thought a lot about her offer, though.  I talked to my best friend about it and I cried a lot.  Man I cried so much that day.  I looked up her church, though, and it is a non-denominational church a town or two over.  I watched a couple of the sermons online.  The pastor seemed cool, down to earth and not one of those IN-YOUR-FACE-LETS-SCREAM-ABOUT-JESUS kinds of people.  In the three sermons I watched there were a couple things he said that really stuck with me, I wrote them down and I’m going to share them here:

  1. “When you’re in the fight and things are hard, find Him.  Remember that He will be by your side.  Go to Him.  Lean on Him.  Let Him walk you through the tough stuff.  Remember that He is with you and you are not in this by yourself.”
  2. “Maybe you’ve never known that kind of father, maybe you never knew the kind of father that you could count on and holler for when you needed help.  Maybe that kind of relationship, it’s really foreign to you; that when you’re in trouble you can call on him and you know they’re going to come rescue you.  But God the father has not left you.  God the father is with you, too.  If you’re here and you’re like, ‘I’ve never seen God this way before, I’ve never seen that God’s the one that could help me or save me, the one that is with me in all things.  I’ve never leaned on God when things were tough before,’ you’ve never walked with Him…if you’re not sure how to walk with Him and this faith thing is new to you then all you need to do, when you start to believe…God grabs you by the hand and He teaches you how to walk, just like he did for Ephraim, and whenever it gets hard and you’re not sure how to move forward from here, He takes a little bit more weight and He keeps moving with you as you let Him.  When you start to fall, He catches you and when you start moving a little too fast He can pull you back, and when you get tired, He can carry you.”

So, based on just this blog post, and if you’ve read previous ones you’re familiar with my relationship with my dad, you can probably understand why these two quotes resonated with me.  The next day I told the preschool mom that I was really honored by her invitation, that it actually made me cry (and then I started crying right there in the preschool parking lot) and I put a lot of thought into it.  I briefly touched on what was going on with my dad and why her offer had such an impact on me, but wrapped it up with accepting her offer.  Then we hugged.

That Sunday I went to church.  I have not been to church in about ten years aside from the few funerals that I’ve attended, a couple baptisms.  I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was more open-minded because this one is non-denominational.  The lack of a title, I guess, makes me feel like I’m allowed to just be there without fully identifying as something I might not be.  The pastor I watched online didn’t speak that day, so I was a bit bummed, but a senior pastor did.  His sermon was a bit more historically based but he spoke about a fella named Gad who only appears in the bible a few times.  He’s not a key player, but when he appears he says something, usually a few words, that people don’t pay full attention to, but they should because his words are usually important.  He went on to say that sometimes people who aren’t key players in our life carry the post powerful message.  Naturally I couldn’t help but think of this preschool mom who definitely wasn’t a key player in my life (yet) but she had a message.  This senior pastor also mentioned that God doesn’t always come into your life as this loud, powerful, BOOM of a message, but sometimes he just comes quietly, when you need him.  He doesn’t force people to believe in Him, He wants them to just believe because they do, not because they were forced to.  So that sat with me.

That night I did something I haven’t done in 20 years or more.  I prayed.  I’ve mentioned before I think about how I’m a person of signs.  I feel like life gives us signs and we can do with that what we will.  I love that book “Animal Speak,” that I posted about previously, because we can look up the animals that come to us, if we see an animal we don’t usually see it could be a sign.  So while I was praying that night I asked for a sign.  I said that I felt weird, obviously this is outside of my comfort zone because I’ve identified as an atheist for most of my life.  I was confident in my views and never questioned them.  Why am I now?  So the very next day I walked out of the library downtown and there was a hawk on the sidewalk.  He looked at me, didn’t fly away but stood still.  I thought it was odd because it’s downtown, people are walking by, but we’re rural so a hawk isn’t a crazy thing to see.  I was driving home and as I turned on to my street there was another hawk just hanging out in the parking lot where our town has a small farmers market in the summer.  Again, odd, but not crazy.  Finally, I got home and as I pulled into my driveway I noticed there was a hawk sitting on my freaking roof.  Three hawks in the matter of ten minutes?  What are the odds?  So I tried to ignore it but that night I had a dream about a hawk flying above me all day.  I woke up and I looked up with the hawk means and the book said, “Hawk is akin to Mercury, the messenger of the gods.  Hawk medicine teaches you to be observant.  Life is sending you signals.”

I don’t know how I feel about all of it, honestly.  I’ve talked to one of my friends, a Christian, I’ll refer to her as MR, about all of it and she thinks it’s amazing.  She thinks that this is God’s way of showing Himself to me when I really need Him.  There was a sermon the other day on anxiety, given by the aforementioned senior pastor, and, for obvious reasons, it was so powerful to me.  I reached out to the cool pastor (his name is Danny) about my experience with the postpartum community and he referred me to his wife, who struggled with postpartum depression.  She and I spoke for a bit and she said that she felt so alone and it was so tough reaching out because you don’t think about “Christian” and “depression” going together, but she wants to work together to help other moms within the church.  I told MR about this and she suggested that maybe this was God opening up that door for me, to help more people who I wouldn’t normally have helped because of my lack of religion.  I hadn’t thought about it but it’s a real possibility.

So I come back to where I stand.  I’m confused, honestly.  I’ve been very open to this new path, though, and I’ve been reading the bible, I’ve been going to church on Sunday mornings, I’m even considering going to a bible study tomorrow night but I’m really torn on it because preschool mom won’t be there and she’s kind of been my crutch in that she is the one I confide in with this journey.  It’ll really be outside of my comfort zone.  I feel like it’d be silly for me to ignore the signs I’m being given.  I also feel silly because I feel almost hypocritical in all of this, like people will think I’m a fraud or that I’ve lost my mind, that maybe I’m only turning to God because of my dad.  I’ve identified so strongly as one thing for so long that I don’t want people to think that I’m becoming somebody else, that I’m only trying to fit in or appease other people, you know?

I’m almost embarrassed, and that may be the wrong word but, like the church community will see me as this rebellious non-believer who is just trying to infiltrate their world and my world, who knows me as an atheist family woman with good intentions, will think I’m abandoning myself in the sake of being accepted.  Neither is true, of course.  I’m just a confused woman, a lonely woman, with a lot of stress and emotions, who is just trying to find a little bit of peace.

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

I am awful at staying up to date with this, I know I keep saying I’ll get better and I’m so sorry I haven’t.  I do keep little sticky notes around my laptop, though, with ideas of what to write about.  If you have any topics you want me to discuss leave a comment and I’ll do it 😀

Soooo ghosts.  The paranormal world is one of those almost taboo subjects that people like to hear the stories, especially if they’re real-life experiences, but then don’t want to believe them.  I’m one of those in-the-middle people; I’ve experienced things that are completely unexplainable despite me trying to debunk them or find solid reasoning that they couldn’t be paranormal.  I’ve mentioned before (at least I think I have) that I’m atheist so the idea of believing in ghosts and spirits but not believing in God, Satan, angels, demons, etc. is odd.  I will say this, despite my disbelief in God and His posse, when I used sage to smudge our new house I also carried a rosary and an amethyst with me.

That’s another thing, I like stones and crystals!  Not only are they pretty, but I love their significance and healing powers.  Even if it’s all in my head, it doesn’t hurt to like them.  That’s not really related to this entry, I guess, so I digress and will get back to the topic 😉

Growing up I always loved when my mom would tell me scary stories; she’d tell me some of the experiences that our family or her friends have had in regards to ghosts or paranormal and I would listen, totally mesmerized.  As I grew up, though, and started to gain a better understanding of life and all of that good stuff I believed it less and less, mainly because it didn’t make sense; there wasn’t a solid reason or evidence that ghosts were here so I just didn’t didn’t believe.

However I have had a few things happen with me and now with my daughter (who just turned three and doesn’t even understand what ghosts are) so I thought I’d share those:

Happening #1 – Part One:
I’m from western NY and we had a serial killer in the 70s (Arthur Shawcross a.k.a. The Genesee River Killer) who targeted prostitutes.  He dumped their bodies in various spots, but two of the bodies he dumped in the same park (Turning Point Park).  As a junior in high school a few friends and I went down there around 11:30 pm.  The way the park is laid out (the part where he dumped the bodies) is like a giant oval on it’s side.  The parking lot was about smack dab in the bottom part of the oval and the path to the left lead to a big opening (roughly 1100 sq. ft.) and then the path continued down hill to the Genesee River.  Reports have it that he dumped one decapitated body in the water and the second he threw in the woods just past this giant opening before the path continued down hill.

Well I was a smoker at the time and as we were walking I had a cigarette in my right hand (imagine how one holds a cigarette) and on the palm of my hand and in between my fingers my hand got tingly, like it had fallen asleep.  I shook it off and didn’t pay any attention to it, just tossed out my cigarette.  We got to the giant opening and something literally stopped me.  I was the only girl in the group and my friend Bob* (names changed for privacy) was at the front of the line holding the video camera that had a light on it.  I spoke up saying, “Guys, I don’t feel comfortable..something isn’t right!” and they all stopped and came around me trying to calm me down but Bob had the camera light right on my face and it was blinding, so I told him to turn the camera away.  We talked for a few minutes but I just couldn’t (phsycially) move any further forward and so we turned around and called it a night.  A few days later Bob called me and said that I had to get to his house – I wouldn’t believe what was on the video.  So my boyfriend at the time (who was with us that night) and I went to Jim’s and we crowded around his TV.  You could hear us talking and joking and you could see a little bit of my cigarette smoke floating in front of the camera.  Then you hear me say, “Guys, hold on..” and a blue orb floated past the camera screen (totally plausible that it was dust, but wait for Part Two) and went into the woods to the right and then you could see this gray transluscent mist come walking up the hill (from the river) and it stopped at the top of the hill facing us (none of us saw it because the camera was facing that way while everybody talked to me).  That’s when you could hear Bob say, “Okay, let’s just leave.” and he closed up the camera and we left.

Happening #1 – Part Two:
So now it’s 2006 (four years after part one) and some new friends and I go down to Turning Point Park to walk the whole thing since it was afternoon.  I had just gotten a brand new digital camera, charged up the battery and was excited to test it out.  My friend Tom* (names changed for privacy) was the only smoker in the group and in the one picture where he had a cigarette I was about 50 feet away testing out the zoom feature.

(This picture below is without the zoom)

CIMG0115

(The picture below is with the zoom)CIMG0112

These two pictures are taken at the bottom of the hill (the water is the Genesee River) and this pier that they’re on is where one of the bodies was found.  As you can tell it was getting dark so we started back up the path and I kept feeling like something was following us.  I kept checking but nothing was there.  Finally my friend suggested taking a picture so I did:

(The picture below is of the path behind us – note: the blue orb was the same one we saw on Bob’s video camera four years earlier)

CIMG0145

We got to that giant opening and both my friend Marie* and myself felt really weird.  I kept feeling tinglies on my body (remember from part one I said it felt like my hand fell asleep?) and Marie said her head was pounding, she couldn’t think straight.  We stopped (Tom was going towards the car, not with us at this point).  I kept hearing something in the woods and I took a picture:

(Below is a picture of the woods where the blue orb disappeared to in part one)

CIMG0146

At the same exact moment both of our cell phones shut off, Marie’s watch stopped, and my camera flashed once and then completely died.

(Below is the last picture that was captured by my now-dead camera)

CIMG0149

Marie and I ran to the car and locked the doors and sped off.  At the end of the street our phones turned on, her watch started and my camera turned back on.  I haven’t gone back to Turning Point Park since this happened.

Happening #2:
This one happened in a dream so I don’t know if it counts in the way that other ghost stories do but I think it is really special.

When I was a senior in high school one of my older friends (who had graduated and joined the Army) had commit suicide at the park right up the street from my house.  His little brother found him.  It took everything in me to go to the wake and I was just so drained that I couldn’t get the energy to go to the funeral, so I stayed in bed and just cried.  

About a week later I was feeling so guilty that I missed the funeral that it was just eating at me.  I was becoming physically ill because I felt so selfish that I couldn’t just go say goodbye.  Well one night I went to sleep and I had this dream that I was walking through the halls of my school and Steve (my friend that died) was in the back corner (where a lot of us hung out) and he was just playing hackey sack.  I smiled and waved and went to class.  In class an announcement came on over the PA and said we were to all meet in the bleachers on the football field (Steve played football).  I walked out there and everybody was already there so I found a spot all alone in the bleachers and looked down at the field and there was a casket with the flag draped over it.  I couldn’t stop staring at it and then Steve opened up the casket and climbed out, walked up the bleachers and kneeled down in front of me and said, “It’s okay…I’m okay now…you can let go.”  

It was right then that I woke up and I instantly felt lighter and like I could breathe easier.  I went to the cemetery that morning and I sat down on the still fresh grave and I told Steve my dream.  When I got done I told him that I’m sorry I didn’t go to his funeral, that I love him and just didn’t want to say goodbye.  Right then a cardinal came and landed on the headstone and sang his little song and flew away.  Something just told me that everything was okay.

Happening #3:
There was an old house in my hometown that everybody used to say was haunted and that at midnight it’d glow green – I never witnessed that – but I was fascinated by the house because it was a huge and beautiful and it didn’t fit in with the other houses in the area…or the whole town for that matter.  Well, anybody from that area can tell you that the Easter of 2004 was so hot that people were already swimming at the beach!  Mike* (names changed for privacy), my bf at the time and the same guy who was with me at Turning Point Park, and I decided to go for a walk and as were nearing this house, we decided to walk around the property since it was vacant (and had been for years). 

We started with the barn (to the left of the house) and as we were walking on the far left side of it we could hear and smell horses.  We could hear them kicking in their stalls and neighing.  Around the far back side of the barn there was a balcony of sorts but the wood looked all burned and charred.  At the top of the balcony there was a set of french doors that had stained glass windows and the doors themselves were fine – they even looked new – but the wood around the doors was completely burned up like the rest of the balcony wood.

On we went.  Behind the barn just to the left (if you’re looking at the front of the house the structure is to the right of the barn, behind the main house) there was a smaller house (it has since been torn down but I learned that it was the servant’s quarters) and we were able to look in the windows.  There was still furniture in there and there was a small kitchen table with glasses and plates still on it like somebody was about to set the table.  There was one door off the kitchen that looked to be a bedroom (I could see the corner of a bed).  We switched windows and were looking the other end of this house now and I could see a middle door (kind of separating the kitchen and living room) that was a bathroom; my eyes suddenly caught a rocking chair moving and the third door (at the far end of the living room) slammed shut.  We jumped back from the window and kept walking.

We approached the main house and started in the back.  There was a set of concrete stairs that let to nothing…literally just a wall.  Then there was a a big ditch that lead to the basement of the house – kind of like there was supposed to be cellar doors there and they just weren’t anymore.  There was a piece of wood that was placed inside the house and attempted to board up the opening to the basement, but it didn’t cover the whole space (so there was a triangular opening to the basement).  As we walked by that there was a huge blast of cold air..so cold both Mike and I saw our breath (keep in mind, it was at least 90 outside that day).  We kept walking by it trying to feel the cold again, Mike even climbed down the slope and put his arm inside the building and the cold was just not there.  So we walked on to the east side of the house (in the picture it’s the right awning) and as we approached the concrete slab (all the white fencing was not there) we could hear kids laughing followed by a door closing.  We walked on towards the front of the house and near the front left window we got a really strong smell of bourbon.  It was so strong we actually looked in the bushes to see if a bum had left a bottle there!

Now, I was talking to a town hall member about this experience and he told me that in the mid-1900s a man lived there with his family but suspected that his wife was having an affair and so he killed her along with his kids.  He remarried and his new wife loved horses so he bought her two horses for the barn and things were good.  Then he suspected her of cheating, too, and locked her and the horses in the barn before setting it on fire.  That front, left window was rumored to be his study where he’d go to drink and reportedly took his own life there.  The servants didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to be accused so they fled.  I have tried researching this story and can’t find anything to validate it, all I could find is that it was a working farm and the owner owned a local coal company and the Rochester-Buffalo-Pittsburg Railroad.  The property is now offices and for sale. 

(The below picture is a semi-recent picture of the house)
Yates Thayer Mansion

Happening #4:
We recently bought a house and where we moved to is about 30 minutes from major stores; a trip to Wal-Mart is about a half hour and through farm country. One day after leaving WM my daughter (who was two and a half at the time) started screaming, “Stop! He look at me!” and seemed truly upset. Naturally I pulled over and jumped out of the car to search the back and there was nothing, I finally concluded that she just saw her distorted reflection in the shiny handles and that was that. She acted this way in the car for a few weeks, but it was lessening. Finally one day we went out to the car and I opened the door and she goes, “Hi! I miss you!” and chatted with nothing during all of our errands. We got to the grocery store and she pointed at the side of the car that originally scared her and said, “Okay, I be back. You wait here!” That’s when I started getting curious so I took pictures of the car, the inside, outside, each seat, and I posted them in and paranormal group I’m part of. I told them no details, nothing about my daughter’s behavior, just the photos. One woman, who is a an empath and can connect with spirits, responded and said that my daughter has the gift (now mind you I told her no details, not even that I have a daughter) and that our area is rich with history and it appears I picked up hitchhikers, of sort, in my travels, that we had an older woman and her grandson in the car and they were using our vehicle as their portal to get where they needed to go. She suggested driving around the area to see if it made a difference so we did that one day and after about 20 minutes I heard Charlotte say, “Bye! I miss you!” and she hasn’t mentioned it since!!

Happening 5:
I was at the jewelry store here in town and the owner had her dog there so Charlotte kept petting the dog but kept looking in the back room asking about the other dog, the big white one. I didn’t pay much attention to it and told her that the other dog was back there sleeping and she had to stay out here because the back room was only for employees. As we were paying I asked the owner about her other dog in the back and she said she doesn’t have one back there, that the little French Bulldog was the only one in the store. I looked at her confused and asked about the big white dog that Charlotte was talking about and she told me that her white lab died there in May.

Happening 6:
I had just got done donating blood and afterwards was strapping Charlotte into her carseat.  She was watching me more than usual and then suddenly put her hand on my cheek and said, “God will bless you mama.”  Keep in mind, I’m atheist so I’m not discussing God or blessings with her, I work from home so she’s with me all the time so I know she’s not hearing that from other people, so it was a very bizarre thing for her to say.  I asked her to repeat what she said and she smiled and said, “You be blessed mama,” and then went back to playing with her toy.  Odd but I shrugged it off.  So recently, about a month and a half after the post-blood donation thing, Charlotte was playing and kept talking about Sophie.  Sophie this and Sophie that, Sophie loves God, we be blessed, etc.  Weird things!  She doesn’t like watching “Princess Sofia” so I knew it wasn’t that (and I asked if her if that’s what she was saying) but, again, I shrugged it off and chalked it up to toddler imagination.

I was on the phone with my mom just a couple days ago (we’re states away) and she was telling me about the psychic fair that she and a friend went to; they go regularly so it’s not out of character for her.  She had been really stressed out about some work and family stuff so she felt like that stress was blocking her energies, but one of the readers told her that a motherly figure was visiting but since my mom’s mom and her mother-in-law are both alive she felt like it wasn’t accurate and went about the fair.

As my mom was telling me about her day it reminded me of Charlotte talking about Sophie, so I mentioned how I’d love to bring her to one because of it.  I asked her if we had anybody in our family tree named Sophie and she got really quiet for a few seconds and asked, “Why do you ask?  That’s a really strange question…”  so I told her about Charlotte mentioning Sophie and the things she said about her, to my surprise my mom started crying!  She then told me that her grandma, my great grandma, Charlotte’s great great grandma, was named Sophie and she was an a spunky Catholic woman who went to church every day and said the rosary every night, she always used to tell my mom that she’d be blessed!  So the psychic was right – a maternal figure was visiting, she was just visiting my daughter!
So that’s that.  All of these things I can’t really explain but are interesting, at least to me.  Do you have any experiences that are paranormal or unexplainable?  If so, I’d love to hear them!

 

He’s a Dick…Addicted…

I was four and it was winter it upstate NY. My mom was at work so my recently fired father was in charge of babysitting me, a chore that he hated. My uncle was in town visiting, the first of three times I’ve ever met him, so my dad decided it would be a good idea to take me to the playground at the end of our street, I could play and they could talk.

He forgot my jacket.

While he zig-zagged back to our house I told my uncle to play with me. “Well, what should we play?” my single, mid-20s, kid-fearing uncle asked me. “Let’s pretend mommy and daddy still love each other!” I told him as I flew down the slide.

My dad never came back with my jacket, he decided it was too cold and we’d be home eventually. That was my uncle’s first memory of me.

That summer I was invited to a birthday party. I was only invited because the whole class was, but nobody really played with me. They were playing house and told me I could be the neighbor since my mommy and daddy weren’t married I wouldn’t know how to play house the right way. I cried until my mom picked me up.  Kids were mean, even in the early 90s.

After my parents split up my mom got sole custody, my dad was given every other weekend and a pathetic amount for child support. I remember getting so excited on his weekends, I’d pack my weekend bag and sit on the front steps waiting for him. For hours.  If it was raining I sat outside under an umbrella.  Just waiting.

He’d call and tell me he was having car trouble or he was helping a friend. Sometimes he wouldn’t call at all and my mom would encourage me to go play with friends, promising to get me as soon as he got there. She never told me the truth: he was too drunk to show up. She never talked poorly about him either. I give her credit for that.

I’ve been struggling recently with my father. He is an addict. He is an alcoholic. His functioning level, his bare minimum, is twice the legal limit. If his BAC drops below that he starts experiencing withdrawals. He has liquor everywhere, secret compartments in his vehicles, stashed around his apartment, he even has bottles hidden in the woods around his home.

I’ve seen my father sober once in my life. It was October 2009, six years ago; he was at Strong Memorial Hospital after having a tumor removed.  I touched on that in another post (“Daddy Issues”) so I won’t elaborate fully here, but he is very much not the same person when he drinks.  When he was taken out of his coma, 100% sober, it was like he was hollow.  He was looking around the room but not really seeing things, he was watching me speak but I don’t know that he was absorbing the things that I was saying.  His body was so used to drinking and taking swigs from bottles that he would go through the movements of reaching behind his pillow, unscrewing the lid, putting a bottle to his mouth, throwing his head back to swallow, smacking his lips a certain way that I will always identify as my dad’s “drunk lips,” screwing the lid back on, and stashing the bottle back under his pillow.  There was never a bottle, though.  He did the same thing with cigarettes.  The doctors said that, physically, he was sober and that he could live the rest of his life like a sober man but he would need therapy; he would need treatment that would help him unlearn his motions, basically.

He never got help.

One of the most frustrating parts of his addiction is my support circle.  I know with every ounce of me they mean well and I love each one of them more for that, but I don’t think any of them fully realize just how far gone he is.  He has been an alcoholic for roughly 38 years.  That is longer than I have been alive.  He is so far gone that he has “wet brain,” which is medically known as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.  Basically, WKS is brain damage that’s caused by a lack of the B1 vitamin and it’s common in chronic alcoholics.  I spoke with some specialists and I was told that, while he’s been suffering from WKS for a good 20 years or so, his hospital stay in 2009 exacerbated it because it got his brain functioning on a “normal” level, like a restart, and there’s glitches because all of the proper components for functioning aren’t there.

He doesn’t remember much; his short term memory is gone and to fill it in he just makes things up.  He likes to tell people things about his amazing life that he’s had but he uses bits and pieces from other people’s lives.  Many of his stories contain info and accomplishments from his dad’s life, his younger brother’s life (the uncle from the playground), and others.  It’s hard to know what is the truth and what isn’t.

I mentioned my support circle before and in that circle is the aforementioned uncle who I have developed a great relationship with.  I said before that I’ve only met him three times in my life and the last time I saw him was in 2004 when we went to Costa Rica.  After that trip my dad told me all of these horrible things about how much shit my uncle talked about me, how he thought I was scum and trashy, I was a failure to the family, so I never went out of my way to speak with him.  Due to my father’s most recent hospital stay I got in touch with him and we talked for almost six hours!  Now, I look forward to our phone calls and having that relationship with him that I never would’ve had otherwise.  He’s a really cool guy and it sucks that he lives in Arizona, but at least we keep in touch.  He’s a great pillar in my sanity when it comes to my father.

A faulty part of my support circle is my grandparents, my dad’s parents.  They are noble people, not your typical lovey-dovey grandparents, they don’t BS, and they don’t discuss their problems.  Therefore, they don’t believe my father’s addiction actually exists.  They give him an allowance still.  He’s almost 60!  I think their logic, though, is “out of sight, out of mind.”  Their allowance enables him to buy all this shit he doesn’t need, including alcohol.  I have told them, doctors have told them, their other sons have told them, my dad is an alcoholic.  They don’t believe anybody, though, because, “Barry said he stopped drinking!”

I don’t know that there was a specific point to this entry, more of just a way for me to vent and document this frustration.  Maybe one day my grandparents will be surfing the web (lol!) and they’ll stumble across it.  Why they would read a blog of all things, especially one titled “Yoga Cups and Coffee Pants,” is beyond me, but hey, stranger things have happened.

I guess if you’re going to get anything out of this, please be mindful of alcoholics.  Of all addicts, really.  There comes a point when the addiction takes over the body and the person loses all control.  Alcoholism is the only addiction where the withdrawal can kill you.  Sometimes I wonder how his disease hasn’t killed my father.  It killed his best friend of 45 years, it’s tried to kill him more than once, but somehow he always makes it out.

Anyway.  I’ll share a couple pictures, you can kind of see the deterioration in my father.

dad in hospital

This is my dad in February 2011.  He’s wearing reading glasses that he found on a bench and he wears them because he thinks they make him look smart.  He’s holding a crossword puzzle in his left hand and was using a cotton swab as a pencil in his right.

dad in wheelchair

The picture above is my father in February of 2011 (same trip as the first photo).  He is in a wheelchair because the room we had to go to was too far and his lungs couldn’t support that kind of exertion.

dad holding isaac

The picture above is my father in November of 2010 awkwardly holding my nephew.  That right side of his face is where they removed the tumor.

dad at wedding

This picture is at my wedding in April 2012.  If you look at my dad’s face you can see where half of it is missing.  The only reason he made it to my wedding (smelling like booze) is because of the woman on the far left.  She’s his ex-girlfriend.

dad at sticky lips

Okay final picture!  This one is in June of 2013 – you can see how much my father has withered away just over the few years shown in the pictures.  I haven’t seen him since this photo was taken.

Till next time ❤

Tic Tac Totem

Man it’s been a long time since I’ve written, for that I am sorry!  I’ve been completely preoccupied with appointments and family and pets and visitors…oy!  Well now you have my undivided attention (except for when my toddler summons me).  So I thought I’d talk about some “weird” stuff today.  Stuff I think is normal but others often stare blankly, blink slowly, and change the subject over.

I’ll start with the aforementioned “visitors” that we’ve had.  I think I mentioned in another post that my husband and I recently bought a house (yay!); well with buying a home comes a bit more out-of-town visitors (wahh!).  In our case, it’s almost everybody – we live a good 500+ miles away from almost all of our families.  Well, since we’ve moved to Virginia (in 2011) we’ve had a rule: no out-of-town guests can stay with us unless there’s an extenuating circumstance. When our daughter was born my mom stayed with us because she was there to help, but everybody else has been asked to get a hotel.  So many people gasp at that – how dare we ask people to stay in a hotel, especially family!  Well, in the apartment it was much easier for people to accept our rule because we only had two bedrooms with one bathroom – it was the perfect size for us but super cramped with any more.  Now we’ve bought a house and nearly doubled our square footage and people are assuming they can stay with us just because we’ve added a bedroom (that’s actually already in use) and a bathroom.  Well, here’s why (we think they’re very good reasons) we have that rule:

  1. We are a family who thrives on schedule and routine.  My husband wakes up for work at 3:15 every morning, has his AM routine, and is out the door by 4:30.  Often times he doesn’t return home until 7 or 8 (he gets overtime quite a bit and then twice a week he has night school through his job), eats a quick bite, and is in bed by 9:15 each night.  Our daughter wakes up around 6:30 or 7 each day (after waking 1-3x/night), eats breakfast watching her cartoons.  She’s incredibly shy and fearful of strangers, so having new people at our house as soon as she wakes up, throwing her from her routine, makes her grumpy, clingy, and just not happy.
  2. On top of that routine, I work out of my house; I do in-home childcare.  Can you imagine going to drop your kids off at the sitter’s house and there’s -x- new people passed out on the living room floor?  Not only that, people that you don’t know hanging out around your kid all day?  Not cool.  Personally, as a mom, I wouldn’t feel good about that.  Our third bedroom is the daycare room; I keep the extra car seats, diaper bags, cribs, craft supplies, etc. in there so it’s full, there’s no room for people to sleep there and we don’t own an air mattress (for a reason) so that leaves our couch.
  3. If those two reasons aren’t good enough for you, that leaves me with our final reason: anxiety and introversion.  I know I’ve written before about my anxiety, but both my husband and I are also introverts.  We absolutely love having family come and visit, we love seeing everybody, but at the end of the day we need our quiet, alone time to just…wind down.  If I don’t get that my anxiety flares up and I lash out and say things I don’t mean to people.  I truly don’t mean it, it just happens (think Cady Heron in “Mean Girls” with her word vomit).  I know my husband my gets all tense and quiet, but then he’ll lash out later (not physically or anything, but you know men are typically emotionally constipated creatures, so he’ll usually bottle it up and then yell about something silly later).  So many people think that anxiety and introversion are curable things, but they’re not.  They’re also a nuisance and hinder the fun that you could have with your guests.  Regardless, people staying here intrudes on our personal bubbles and then that, in turn, messes with our moods and whatnot.  We’d be much happier and more fun during a visit if people just didn’t stay with us.

So we recently had visitors (my SIL, BIL, FIL, niece, and nephew) and at last minute we found out that FIL would be staying with us, not in the hotel like we previously thought.  Boy was my husband not happy!  We talked about it about and ultimately decided it was okay since my husband was so excited to see his dad, but also they would be arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday, leaving no overlap with my daycare kids.  We also found out the day that they arrived that my husband wouldn’t be working so FIL sleeping on the couch wouldn’t interfere with any morning routines.  I am so glad to say that the whole trip went so great!  I am lucky to have such a cool sister-in-law.  Our daughter got along great with our niece, they played together so wonderfully and our daughter was actually sad and confused to not find her around our house (that was a concern for us since daughter is so shy; last time we saw them our niece was very excitable so we were worried she’d be a tad overwhelming..I am so happy there was nothing to be worried about!).  I suck at apologies when it comes to having to say sorry for my anxiety because it feels like I’m apologizing for who I am, but if my SIL is reading this I want you to know that we are so glad you came, I hope you understand where we were coming from, and we truly did have a blast.

Now on to the “weirder” part.  I have this book that I swear by, it’s kind of like my bible.  It’s called Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by Ted Andrews.  Here’s the book:

animal speak

It is truly life-changing, at least for me.  I promise I get no benefit from promoting this book, I just love it and think everybody should buy a copy, or at least read it.  In the beginning of the book you create a totem based on seven questions; each question will give you a different animals and those animals make your totem.  However, in reading about the power of each animal you find that there are additional animals you should study that sync up, so to speak, with the first animal.  Ultimately, at the end, you have a slew of animals that represent your animal totems.  These can change, too, based on your life.  My totems, for example, are: dog, wolf, deer, spider, coyote, swan, horse, and raven.  You may have more or less because some of your animals may overlap and that’s okay, too.

As I was reading about the coyote today, actually, I realized how similar I am to them.  Animal Speak says, “Oftentimes…the coyote makes things more complicated than they need to be….Are you…being too serious?…Are you complicating what is really simple in some area of your life?”  The answer would be yes!  I know that we complicate things like family visits because we’re so set in our ways of life, we have a hard time loosening up about things.  That’s where the wolf comes in; “They live by carefully defined rules,” says Animal Speak.  The deer is the most common prey of wolves, and ravens have a connection to them because they often fly over wolves, moving with their hunt, so that they can prey on the animals the wolf hunts.  The deer is one of my totems because it’s one I most often see in nature and I love to see them, and the raven is another because of its connection to wolf and coyote.

Did you know that “The raven is a member of the corvids family, to which belongs crows and magpies and other such birds[?].  In truth, the only really significant difference between the crow and the raven is the size, the raven being much larger.  It would be beneficial to study the information on the crow for anyone who has a raven as a totem,” a direct quote from Animal Speak.  When reading about the crow, the book says, “The male and female build the nest together.  The nest is built high up for protection and it is kept very clean.  Even the young crows do not foul their own nest.”  I think this speaks volumes about me because clutter and mess trigger my anxiety like you wouldn’t believe.

I know to many it sounds silly, and when I tell people about it they often look at me strangely, but I do believe we have a connection to animals and I believe that they resonate within us.  When I have dreams about certain animals I look them up.  If I encounter an animal in an area that is abnormal to their life I immediately look it up.  There has never been a time that this book has steered me wrong and, more often than not, I’m amazed at what this book tells me about the animal.  At the very least it’s interesting to read about certain animals find out more than what TV tells us about them.

Well then.  This concludes another blog post.  I honestly was thinking about writing for so long but was trying to decide what to write and when to write it.  I want to write for me, but I also want to write things that are gripping to readers, too.

I also love to hear your feedback.  Do you have this book?  Have you read it?  Would you ever?  If so, what are your totems?  Do you feel they’re an accurate depiction of you?  Feel free to comment!

Until next time….

As Simple as Do Re Mi, A B C-Section

A very dear friend of mine is scheduled to have a c-section next month; both of her pregnancies have been high risk but her first resulted in such a disastrous labor that it’s unsafe to go natural again, so a c-section it is.  Naturally (no pun intended) she is having fears and anxieties and has come to me with many questions since I had a c-section with my daughter.  As we were discussing it yesterday she had mentioned that she took to the internet (dun Dun DUN!) to help learn more about what to expect.  Not surprisingly, she didn’t find many positive things; as a matter of fact, on a mom group that she and I are both a part of a whole slew of moms commented with how horrifying it is, to expect the worst, it was just awful, etc.  There wasn’t a drop of support on the whole thread!  Actually, there doesn’t seem to be much support on the whole internet either.

I’m here to change that!
::insert superhero emoticon::

I was not planning to be a mom so when we found out I was pregnant I told the OB that we could just go ahead and plan the c-section to get that done and over with (I’m a very detail-oriented person with a love for schedules so the idea of a spontaneous labor is just not terrifying to me).  After being turned down I went home and started looking up the process of a c-section, watching videos, etc.  Having had the same results my friend is having now, I was TERRIFIED of having a c-section and quickly changed my mind.  I opted for a completely natural, unmedicated labor.  Well then I was given the news at 38 weeks that my daughter was transverse, butt-down, and that a c-section was an option so I left that appointment with my labor-date (if baby was head-down and ready to go we’d go ahead with an induction but if not then I’d have a c-section).

The morning of I arrived at the hospital on time, having not eaten anything since 6 pm the night before as instructed, and found out that baby was head-down.  Talk about relief!  Well, fast forward 24 hours, an arrested 7 cm dilation, a broken water, and two epidurals that didn’t work and I was singing a different tune.  I was practically begging for surgery!  Because I hadn’t slept at all they tried a third epidural so that I could get some sleep and hopefully dilate some more.  Unfortunately that didn’t work, though, and my daughter’s heart rate was rapidly dropping and my blood pressure was rapidly increasing – they did a quick ultrasound to find out that my daughter was actually moving backwards in the birth canal and, while still head down, had positioned her body just so that her shoulder was preventing proper access into the birth canal.  It was decided that I needed a c-section immediately.

I was quickly prepped and rushed into the OR and was given my anesthesia that numbed me from about my ribcage down to my toes.  The staff was exceptional and I remember the doctor making jokes with me and warning my husband to not look over the curtain.  I had an oxygen mask placed over my face (nose and mouth) and I had my arms strapped down (like a T) – the doctors said that was to both help blood flow and to prevent me from reaching for the surgical site (which I guess happens out of reflex).  I felt some pushing and pulling but it was nothing major; the doctor said I’d feel something like my skin unzipping and, oddly, that’s exactly what it felt like.  Being 100% honest period cramps hurt more than anything I felt during my c-section.  If it weren’t so dang cold in the room I probably could’ve slept because, for the first time since labor started, I was in no pain, the meds were making me spacey and the oxygen was almost therapeutic.  As I laid there it was almost like the doctors were off in the distance and I could hear the steady whooooosshhh and tsssst of the oxygen, I couldn’t nap, though, because the anesthesiologist was there asking me questions (to check how coherent I was) and monitoring my vitals.

All of a sudden the doctor said, “Okay, you’re going to feel a big push!” and it was almost like this giant fart had finally released this pressure that I didn’t know was there, and I heard it: the cry of my daughter.  The doctor smiled and said, “Hey, you had a little girl living in there!” and she was brought to my face while they started cleaning stuff up and stitching me up.  That took about 15 minutes and then I was brought to recovery while my husband followed our daughter to the baby room (where they gave her a bath and all that good stuff).

In all honesty, the recovery room was probably the worst part.  It was me and two other women (but room for six of us) and two room attendants.  One girl was throwing up because of the anesthesia and the other was other was talking to her friend who was in the room with her.  I had terrible shakes, was starving (I was allowed to eat something small around 11 am the day before – it was now 1:45 pm a day later) and SO THIRSTY (I wasn’t allowed anything more than one small Dixie cup of ice chips during my entire labor) but the attendants wouldn’t give me anything until the shakes stopped because the anesthesia could make me throw up.  After about two hours I was cleared to go to my room, so they got my husband and wheeled me down to the room I’d call home for the next two days.

I feel badly now because the nurse was trying to tell me how things worked on that floor, what to expect, etc. and I wasn’t really listening, I was eyeing the GIANT ice and water machine right outside my room.  My husband filled up a cup for me and I chugged three cups so fast that frat boys would have been proud.  Then my daughter was wheeled in and I honestly told the nurse that I wasn’t listening, this is the first time I’d really seen my daughter, that I was going to pick her up, and I did.

To kind of summarize, here’s a rough timeline:
12:30 pm – brought to OR
1:17 – my daughter was born
1:40 – I was brought to the recovery room
3:30ish – I was brought to my room
4:00ish – I got up and started walking
4:30ish – my catheter was taken out
5:00ish – they gave me a stool softener/laxative (be prepared for that thing lol)

From there on out I walked as much as I could around the floor and tried to sleep.  It’s hard, though, because people are coming in every 30-45 minutes to check the incision and lactation consultants come in to help with breast feeding, it’s far from relaxing.  I was able to shower the next day.

When I was discharged I slept the entire 90 minute drive back home and we adjusted pretty quickly.  My husband didn’t do any night feedings so I was up every two or three hours to feed and change our daughter, I was able to shower fine, do laundry (yeah, I kept up with that, too), everything I did before – just not much heavy lifting.  I lifted our daughter, though, so that was the most I lifted.

Make sure to take care of your incision properly, change the gauze regularly, wash it gently with warm water, and things will go smoothly.  If you have to cough, sneeze, fart, hiccup, etc. make sure you hold a pillow to you tightly to help with that pressure.  When you fart and poop don’t push too hard, let it come on its own.

Oh!  The best part?  The doctor was able to suction out most of the blood that comes along with labor so I only had postpartum bleeding for probably three or four days.  That was awesome.

So there you have it.  The true life story of a c-section survivor who actually didn’t hate her surgery lol.  If you’re about to have one or you think it might be in your future, don’t be scared!  It’s unnecessary worry and there’s not much you can do about it.  If you have any questions, though, then please feel free to talk to me.  I’ve got nothing to hide and nothing bad to say 🙂

Have a great day, y’all!

Confessions of a Fat Mom with Social Anxiety

Hey all!  I’m so sorry it’s been almost three whole weeks since I last wrote!  I’ve had a busy three weeks, though.  I do in-home childcare and had to say farewell to the family I’ve been working for for the past two years because we bought a house an hour away, so I had that emotional goodbye, the hectic process of putting our lives into boxes, then moving and unpacking to start our new life!  Let me just say that I LOVE the pride banner at the top of the WordPress page…kudos to WP!

Anyway, since it’s summer I feel the need to vent about a major gripe/insecurity of mine – beaches.  I hate beaches!  There.  I said it.  I know, I’m probably a terrible person and have you scratching your head, but whatever.  It is what it is.

I hate the sand and I hate that sand finds a way into every crevice possible and sticks to you even after a shower..I hate it.  I hate laying in the sand because, well, it’s sand, and I sweat.  Laying there, doing nothing, I sweat.  I don’t like sweating when I’m doing nothing.  I like it even less when it results in sand sticking to me.

I don’t like swimming either.  Beaches are always over-crowded and people fight for the water and I inevitably get splashed in the face (which I hate)..it’s just not fun.  Plus, things live in the water.  In our area there’s tons of jellyfish, sharks, fish with teeth…no thanks.  I’ll stick to a bathtub or a pool.

Then there’s bathing suits.  I hate bathing suits.  Why?  Because I’m fat.  I know I know, I should love my body and really show off body positivity for my daughter, but the fact of the matter is I just hate my body.  And yes, I am aware of how I can lose weight (this is not an invitation for you to start trying to sell me on your ItWorks shit or anything of the like) and I’m working on it, but until that happens I am going to continue being self-conscious.  I see some women my size and larger wearing two-pieces and I give them so much credit because I don’t even like wearing my dress-style suit.

Next, I’m a mom (duh), so even if I did like the beach I think it’d still be unenjoyable for the simple fact of, well, I have a toddler.  My daughter hates sand as much as I do, actually more because she screams bloody murder when it’s on her.  So going in the water (which she loves) is awful because then we have to walk back through the sand and it sticks to her and she thinks it’s attacking her..oh gosh..it’s just a sight to see.  Then you have to bring adequate food and beverages to appease a toddler, plus toys, shade, her special blanket, her pillow (because it’s impossible to take a nap without her pillow) because she’d be in the sun and the sun makes her sleepy…by the time I’d have everything we need for the trip people would think we were moving to the dang beach!

And please, don’t talk to me about finding a sitter.  If you met my toddler you’d understand why that just won’t happen and then I’d just spend my hot, sticky, sandy time worrying about her.

At the end of the day I’d be so grumpy because I was in the sun (and while I don’t tan my skin just hurts like I have a burn without the redness), I’d be hot, sticky, and covered in sand, I’d have a crabby toddler, and then I’d worry that some dickhead with a camera phone spent their time taking unflattering pictures of me to post online so they could make fun of me.  It’s just not worth it.  Give me the AC and sunless tanner and I’m happy.

I have few friends and the one closest (in proximity) to me loves the beach.  She could spend all day, every day at the beach.  She’s also not a mom.  I can tell she gets frustrated that I won’t go with her but I just won’t budge.  Plus, we live in a beachy area (we’re about two hours from VA Beach) so there’d be so much traffic getting there…it’d really require a whole plan of attack to go there even for a day.  And she’d have to ride in my car because of the car seat and trunk space (her little sports car just would not suffice) and I just don’t think that she can handle a two hour drive (if there’s literally no traffic) singing “Wheels on the Bus” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and then -x- amount of hours of the aforementioned struggles.

Nope.  I’m just not the person to ask to tag along to the beach.

Okay well now that I’ve got that off my chest, I have a new piece of furniture that I want to sand down and paint so I’m off to do that.  I’ll write soon, though, I promise.

❤ ❤

OCD Isn’t Cute, Dammit!!

Hey hey!  It’s been about a week since I wrote last, sorry for the lapse!  I have a little list I’ve been compiling with ideas of topics to write about, things that are deeply personal to me or that I’m passionate about, you know.  Well, I’m surprised I forgot to write about this sooner because it’s such a big part of me – mood disorders!

When I was younger (high school age) I battled depression for a few years and that settled down to a pretty steady anxiety.  I posted before that I’m an introvert and that’s very much the case, but aside from loving my personal home-time I have such anxiety about being around people.  That intensified so much when I became a mom plus added in a nice amount of OCD.  Which, let me tell you, is NOT cute.  Just because you like your DVDs alphabetized doesn’t make you OCD, it makes you meticulous.  My OCD was (and sometimes still is) debilitating.  I couldn’t leave my home for fear that something awful was going to happen.

Let me start at the top.  I never really planned on being a mom so when it happened I was shocked to say the least.  Around 25ish weeks pregnant I had a routine appointment and I opened up about my fears.  I expressed to the healthcare(less) provider I was seeing that I had some anxiety about birth, what happened before, during, and after labor, all of that.  Her response?  “You know, so many women can’t even get pregnant so you should really just suck it up and consider yourself lucky.”  That was that.  I didn’t share my concerns with anybody because she made me feel so small and guilty about my fears that I felt like scum.

I had a frustrating pregnancy because of the medical staff I encountered, not because of the physical nature of being pregnant.  The staff was awful and at one point towards the end (I’m going to get personal here) there was a nurse who gave me an internal check to see how dilated I was and she didn’t take her rings off.  When I commented how badly it was hurting she told me, “Deal with it, honey, labor hurts worse.”  I’m convinced that because of what I said to her I was transferred to an entirely different hospital (this was all in military hospitals).  At 37 weeks I was sent to a hospital that was about 90 minutes from my home but they decided to induce me (at 39 weeks) because they were convinced I had gestational diabetes (I didn’t, I’m just fat).  So there I was on a Sunday morning in early January, being induced.  Labor lasted 27 hours and our daughter was born early Monday afternoon after an emergency c-section.

She was, and still is, perfect.  I remember the staff trying to explain to me what was happening on that floor and how things worked, but as soon as my daughter was wheeled into the room I stopped listening; it was really the first time I had seen her since she came out of me.  I never really felt true love until I saw her – this little being that I created.  She grew inside of me.  It’s so bizarre to think about and I look at her now and I am still amazed at all of it.  My husband and I had planned for me to go back to work, even if it was just part-time, but we couldn’t find any childcare in the area that was reasonably priced and I started having these really weird thoughts and episodes.

One night we were laying in bed and I was still awake because I was terrified that if my daughter stopped breathing I wouldn’t know and then I wouldn’t be able to save her.  I heard my neighbors next door arguing and I sat awake in fear thinking that people were in our apartment to kidnap her.  The amount of sleep I survived on is amazing to me.  Then when we’d get ready to go do things during the day I was scared to even go down the stairs because I was scared I’d drop her or I’d fall or the stairs would collapse and we’d both plummet to the concrete below and she wouldn’t survive.  How would I explain that to anybody?  When we finally did make it out of our protected bubble I was certain that there were kidnappers and deadly diseases lurking everywhere.  If anybody wanted to look at my daughter (which, honestly, was a lot of people because she’s gorgeous) I was certain that they were secretly trying to take her and I’d never see her again.  At home, I was scared to shower or go to the bathroom because what if she fell out of whatever she was in or something fell on top her – literally every terrifying scenario raced through my head and no matter what I just couldn’t control these thoughts (which I later found out to be called Intrusive Thoughts).

So I took to Google, of course.

I don’t know how it is in civilian hospitals because I’ve only ever labored in a military one, but the postpartum screening sucks terribly.  Before being discharged and again at my six-week follow-up I was asked:
1. Do you feel like killing yourself?
2. Do you feel like harming your child?

The answer to both of those questions was no, a BIG FAT NO.  However, I felt like I couldn’t protect us enough from the impending death and harm that skulked around every corner.  Everything I found mentioned postpartum depression (PPD) but I didn’t have those symptoms.  I was getting desperate and I felt like I was going crazy.

Then I found it.

The website that opened with the hallelujah choir and a massive sigh of relief.  I found an article called, “The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression & Anxiety (in Plain Mama English).”  I know it sounds corny but this is the truth.  I sat on the floor between my couch and my coffee table with my two-month-old daughter asleep on the couch behind me and I cried.  I cried so hard.  That website, Postpartum Progress, and its author, Katherine Stone, saved me on that March morning.

I wasn’t alone.  And if you’re reading this feeling the same way I did, I want you to know that you aren’t alone either.

There are others out there feeling the same way that I was.  Katherine Stone writes, “Postpartum depression and anxiety are not “one-size-fits-all” illnesses.  Your experience may be focused on just a few of the symptoms and you may not have others at all.”  This is so important because I knew something was wrong, but I was trying to lump it in with PPD because that’s what everybody’s heard of; I had never heard of PPA or PPOCD so my thoughts terrified me.  I found an article from Psychology Today that helps to encapsulate why I was so scared to open up: article

Now, two years later, I can say that I know how to manage things much better.  I try to talk openly about what I experienced because I think it could be life-saving, at the very least sanity-saving!  Many of my friends have become moms since then and, no matter how weird they think I am, I try to talk to them about it because it’s so important to know that you aren’t alone in this.  I felt crazy.  I felt like my husband would leave me.  When I opened up to my mom finally her first reaction was, “So..what?  Should we take you away and lock you in a straight jacket?” and that was exactly my fear!!  I was petrified that I’d be taken away and never allowed to see my amazing daughter again.

I don’t want any mother to feel that way.  Ever.

So this was really long and if you made it to the bottom then you’re awesome.  If you know a new mom, and even a mom who’s been a mom for a while, share this with her.  Let it get out there.  Let them know that perinatal mood disorders are far more common than we realize.

Thanks for reading.

Happy trails ❤