Love is a Choice

Love is a choice. I was told that after ranting about a particularly frustrating day in my marriage. It’s not an untrue statement. It is a choice.

I am the sun, he is the moon. We are opposites in many ways. I can put up with the fact that he likes sports and I don’t; he is task oriented and I’m people oriented; he is organized and there’s a method to my madness, but it’s hard to deal with the fact that I am an open book and he likes his book closed. And because of my openness, there is a sense of vulnerability. He has so much more ammunition than I do because he rarely ever talks about the things that hurt. It’s just unfair, to be honest.

Yes, Love is a choice. That’s why I’m still here. Because I love my kids. I love my life. And I love him. For 20 years. That’s how it’s been. Imagining a different life outside of this arrangement is strange.

man holding baby s breath flower in front of woman standing near marble wall
Photo by vjapratama on Pexels.com

But let’s be real. Love can only take a person so far. Love can cover a multitude of wrongs, sure. Love is patient. It’s kind. It’s all those things. But even God, who is said to be the author of Love, sends people to hell, or so says the Bible account.

There is a yin and yang to God. He is loving, but he hates. He forgives, but some are not forgiven. He gives life, but he destroys. He gives and he takes away. God is not uncomplicated.

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Adjust my Crown and Attitude

Paperwork. I absolutely hate it. It signifies that I have more appointments to go to and more services to fight for.

I was waiting for some paperwork from the county. Having a daughter with autism who is now an adult, I feel I must get services for her in order for her to succeed in life and also to take the burden of driving, care, and other things off of her parents. Uh, that would be me. It took me months to just call there. I didn’t want to do it. I don’t know if it was asking for county help or just the thought of having to take her to another appointment. It’s just tiring.

I managed to call there about a week ago and answered some questions. I’m not very good on the phone. I need time to process questions and I felt rushed. The receptionist said if her IQ wasn’t 70 or below, she wouldn’t qualify. That’s so stupid I could scream. Her IQ is 74 and her deficits are enough to have her qualify for it—so says every autistic parent I have ever met! And furthermore, autistic kids can be genius and have IQ’s through the roof, but still not be able to function fully in society. Ask any professional and they will tell you, yes, they need outside help. I swear sometimes the county and social security just likes not having to pay for this stuff. Well if that’s the case, I’ll lawyer up.

Anyway, the papers came in the mail and I don’t know what it is about paperwork, but I got this sudden sense of dread. UGH. More shit to fill out. More explaining. More people not getting it. I just get tired of fighting for basic help from doctors, counselors, social security, and now the damn county. But, fight I must.

I opened up the packet and more dread. Now they wanted me to take her to the doctor to have them fill out stuff that backs up my claim of autism. The diagnosis from last year wasn’t good enough. They also wanted her doctor to say she had these issues. Like I don’t have enough stuff to do?

I’m not gonna play victim but does anyone ever think about the caregivers and parents who take care of these kids and how exhausting it is? But go ahead, throw in your extra papers and doctor visits. Assholes. I thoroughly enjoy visiting clinics and doctors. It’s fun.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to this. But, the thing is, once county services and social security and other services are set up, it’s not a big deal. The burden of proof is on them to kick her off the services. And autism isn’t curable. So there you go. The only way she’d ever get kicked off is if she made too much money and if that was the case, would we need county services then? No.

I told my husband today that I get tired of always having things hanging over my head–and I don’t mean the sunshine. I mean, all the things I need to do. If I mess up, it feels like a whole lot of guilt associated with that. I’m not ever allowed to do nothing. I have to always be in fight mode, it seems. And that’s pretty damn exhausting. And not just with one kid, but with the other one too and her mental illness. I’m always go, go, go. And it feels wrong, in some ways, to just be like “You know, screw it today”. I feel like I have to always be doing something so we are heading in the right direction. And if I don’t, it seems someone reminds me often that I should be doing more.

Everyone has a breaking point, you know? And at times, I feel like I break my own sanity to save theirs. That’s not fair, but it’s life.

So the damn paperwork sits on the kitchen table for now because I don’t give a crap. I’ll get to it. It’s just today, I feel tired from the fight and from the endless questions and appointments that seem to have overtaken my life.

I realize I need to adjust my attitude, but days like this are hard. And it’s rare when someone comes alongside me and says, “Hey, you are doing the best you can. Take the day off. It’s ok.” I get angry at the fact that there is often no reprieve. So I have to adjust and adapt and take breaks if I need to. It will get done when it gets done.

We can’t always be heroes. My cape is in the wash machine.

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Dog Days

I love dogs. As the cool kids say, “Dogs are my jam”. I especially love black labs. They are spunky, hyper, playful dogs and loyal until the end. My dog, Lily is a black lab and 6 years old, but still acts like a puppy. She likes to see how many tennis balls she can shove in her mouth. The record is 3.

I’ve always been a dog person more than a cat person. We had a dog growing up which I remember from when I was little. It was a some sort of German Shepherd mix. But when he died, we ended up with cats. But if I ever visited anyone with a dog, I would attract dogs. I was like the dog whisperer. Except for those mean Rottweiler’s my brother had. Those dogs scared me half to death. Not a fan of Rotties.

It’s not that I don’t like cats, but I’m allergic. I didn’t used to be when I was growing up. In fact, we had a whole bunch of cats. We lived in St. Paul in an old house with window wells. The Mom cat, which my mom named “Mama Kitty” had all her kitties in a window well of our house. Upon inspection, my mom found the kittens and presumed that a few had died. She threw them in our trash. My brother heard meowing a few hours later and realized the kittens had survived. My mom was real clever with the names, so she named one of the kittens, “garbage can”. I dunno. My mom had a weird naming system.

The cat had a litter of babies, but we only kept Mama Kitty and one her babies, which we named DC. Another brilliant idea to use initials because the cat belonged to my brother Dana. So DC stood for Dana’s Cat (not District of Columbia). Even though the cat was his, I took care of it mostly until it ran away and probably died because it never came home again. And that sad story would’ve been the end of my cat days, except I ended up having a few different cats as an adult until I realized I had developed allergies to them. Oiy.

So I’m a dog person these days. The amount of hair and dog poop sometimes gets on my nerves, but otherwise I love my fur baby. She’s a great dog. I’ll be sad when the day comes and she dies. She’s really a great dog and so fun to have around. At times, she’s my only friend. She likes to cuddle next to me when I’m sad. Every night, we have a routine. I get ready for bed. My husband is a bit of a night owl, so Lily comes and plops next to me on the bed. She lets me pet her for 5-10 minutes. I talk to her and tell her what a good dog she is and rub her belly, ears, and head. Then I get sleepy and she moves to the end of the bed. When my husband arrives, she jumps off the bed and goes in her own bed. That’s our thing.

This is my baby:

She’s a pretty smart dog, but she has a giant flaw. She can get really anxious. The one thing that always brings on anxiety is my Father in law. I have no idea why this is, but she hates him. She sees him and growls, hides under the table, won’t walk anywhere near him, and jumps on my lap to save her (a 70 lb dog is not a lap dog!). The only thing I can think is that my Father in law is not a dog person. He’s a cat person. And although he never treats Lily poorly, I think she’s pretty smart and can sense he doesn’t like her.

It’s quite a show to watch them. But my poor dog shakes and drools whenever he’s around. I feel bad for the dog and bad for him because there’s not much he can do to get my dog to like him. She’s pegged him as enemy #1 and I fear that she’ll forever conclude that he’s bad news. But my dog acts like a totally different dog when my Father in law comes around. I love my dog dearly, but when she acts insane with anxiety, I kind of want to kick her out of the house and get a new dog. She acts like a nut job with all her barking, growling, and drooling.

Overall though, she’s a pretty good girl and brings all of us lots of laughter and joy. If I see a dog, I usually want to greet it and pet it. I am one of those annoying dog people.

What about you? Do you prefer dogs or cats? Or something else?

After the rain

I took a few photos of my flowers in my yard. Some were too wind blown to photograph. It stormed here. Here’s our recent lilies that have bloomed.

Our Korean irises already bloomed and died but they are white and purple. I love the varying colors each month. Our hostas and stonecrops will bloom next month. Our other lilies are pink and should be coming up soon.

I wish summer lasted longer. Sure seems once winter hits, the landscape turns ugly. I love art and gardens are a bit like an intuitive canvas. Lots of colors and changes throughout summer.

So while it’s here, I appreciate the beauty of it.

50 Versions of the F word

Whenever I’m watching TV or hovering over an online game my son is playing, I notice how the F word gets sanitized with frick , freaking, frock, or some other variation of the word.

While I state my own fair share of expletives from time to time, I know it’s still disrespectful to announce the word “fuck”. It brings back to mind looks of horror and gasps from when my mom heard me say it. I know it’s just a word-no better or worse than saying idiot or stupid, but it’s still not a word I want my kids using as verbs or adjectives. Honestly, the dictionary has a lot more descriptive words I prefer they learn instead of resorting to some language everyone else uses when pissed off.

So my kids try to get away with saying frick or Fook or something. And today I was feeling annoyed at how much I hear it. It could be any word, like “whatever” or “I know, right?”

The redundancy was exhausting my nervous system.

I turned to my son and said that from now on, if I hear that word or any version of it, expect to run around the yard 3x. He blurted out, “What the Frick?”

I said, “looks like you want to run.” He got upset and continued complaining, using F word versions of all kinds until he was up to 12 laps. At this point, his sisters and I were laughing. That’ll learn him, I guess.

I wasn’t trying to be wise, but I realized I killed two birds with one stone. Not only am I attacking his redundant word usage, but I also got him to exercise, something he’s not overly fond of.

Not sure if he’ll give up his F word variety show, but at least I tried. Parenting these days takes way more creativity. When I was a kid, I got a bar of soap to the mouth. Of course, I don’t agree with that at all but parents never knew how easy they had it.

Anyway, I got tired just watching him run 12 laps so hopefully it taught him something. Next attempt will be to make him memorize words from the dictionary. Haha.

Father of the year

We are planning a grad party for my oldest. My husband took the week off to help because he’s that kind of guy. I love him even when he decided to take on extra projects that I hadn’t planned on doing. Probably, he feels like our home reflects us, so he feels he has to get it all done before people arrive on Saturday.

I care what my house looks like but not as much as he does. We aren’t entertaining royalty. We are hosting people who are somewhat overly critical and 75% of them I don’t like. And I swear to God, I don’t not care if they think my yard or our house isn’t good enough. I’d prefer they just stuff their faces with food instead of yapping at me about my weeds in the garden.

Nonetheless, my husband decided to take on this backyard project. This isn’t the greatest photo but he’s putting in edging and weeding all along the perimeter of our fence line.

This job alone will take all week. Plus we have our house to clean, food to get, tables to pick up, and on top of it, he wants to reseal our driveway. Oiy.

Some of these things I have asked him to do throughout the year but he’s too busy. Seems like company motivates him to get it done. But if it were up to me, I would leave it and work on it throughout the summer.

Maybe I’m lazy at hospitality. I just don’t like the idea of being stressed out just to have people over. Isn’t the point to celebrate a milestone? Then why get all bent out of shape about things that are left undone? That’s life. And most things in life take longer than a week to accomplish.

My husband tends to be way more laid back than I am but not in the hospitality department. Maybe it’s because guys think of their houses and yards as extentions of themselves. These things are not who I am. They are just things I own (or that own me lol) not who I am.

I am grateful for the hard work my husband does to make things look better. It helps to have someone who knows what they are doing and who wants to do it. But at the end of the day, I hope he knows his yard and house doesn’t make him a better or worse person.

It’s his heart and the love he has for his family that matters most.

Nothing more than feelings

There are times when stress really changes me. I start to feel insane. I wonder if I should even be around humanity. Seems like I’d be better off away from everyone.

I don’t know when it started but over the past few weeks, I just feel like I don’t really matter. I don’t know if I’m just sick of being a mom or tired of no one really caring. I’m confused by my own thought processes at times.

Maybe it started when my sister told me I was a miserable person. They say even when people insult you, there’s some truth in it. Problem is I think there’s a lot of truth and then can’t seem to find any good in myself or my life. She told me I hate everything and then insulted my marriage by saying I’ve barely stayed married.

Of course, there is something to be said of verbal insults. It can wreak havok on the mind and heart. Maybe this is where I started to veer off.

There’s been a few difficulties with my older kids. They prefer to snap at me and huff off. Then I start to feel like I really don’t matter. I’m just a means to an end. If I try to get my kids to change, they are completely inflexible and take out their anger on me. Simple requests turn into stomping and snippy remarks. Maybe I’m just tired of being everyone’s doormat. So today, I walked out and went to the gym after telling my kids how I was only trying to help. I came back and they all cleaned up their rooms. So maybe I need to set better boundaries. It’s not ok to treat me like crap just because your annoyed.

Enter Facebook where everyone can sit behind their computers and be fake as hell. I deleted the thing but ended back on there. I have deep regrets. My siblings and I don’t talk much. I don’t talk to my nieces and nephews. There are a few I do, but overall, I know they are back stabbing phonies. I have kept my distance but I do try to be kind. So when they friend requested me, I decided I’d try it.

It was my brother’s birthday and we aren’t Facebook pals. He acts like I don’t exist. But despite that, his wife and I are friends. Or something. So she posted a pic of my brother and I wrote, “tell my brother happy birthday.” I didn’t have to write a damn thing. I owe him nothing. So when his daughter responded with “why don’t you tell him yourself”, I told her to suck it. No one wishes me a happy birthday and the phone goes both ways. Further, I don’t owe them my serenity. She blasted me with a bunch of garbage so I blocked her and her mom. Honestly, I don’t have time for their drama. But thanks for proving how nasty you are.

My sister in law then told my sister that it was a joke and I was being a bitch. Yeah, real funny to be attacked when I was trying to be kind. I guess my family has no idea what that is since they are so full of shit.

And now I’m back to feeling sick of life and people. I feel like people only ever look for my flaws or imagine some if they can’t find something. And it seems like I’m constantly reminded of how little I matter to most people. They think the absolute worst of me. My own family of birth thinks so little of me. Then I go home and my kids seem to hate me too. What’s the point of my life? To live in a world where I maybe matter to two people?

I do the block and delete and try to restore my sanity but most days I’m just fighting to exist. It sucks when you feel like the world is against you.

Always trying to grab on to hope until someone comes along and reminds you that you aren’t good enough.

I don’t miss them. I just miss the idea of having people care. They never did but I thought they did. And in return, I thought I mattered too. Lately I’m not so sure anymore.

I Want The Simple Life

My daughter jumped off our roof the day before Mother’s Day.

A thousand things went through my head. Was she suicidal? Is she bipolar? Was she gonna be OK?

I arrived home to chaos. My son was terrified. She was laying in the grass, face covered, sobbing. My husband was on the phone.

I rushed out of my car.

“What the hell happened?” I was panicked at the scene. My husband told me she jumped from our roof. I immediately snapped, “You jumped? What the hell?!” My concern turned to anger.

Maybe it seems like I should have more empathy, but in the past year, I’ve literally dealt with way more than I can handle. Last summer, it was cutting and suicide threats. Then it was hospitalization and a month long program which diagnosed her with depression and anxiety and placed her on meds. Then she told us she was bisexual and had a girlfriend. After that, she shaved her head.

She attempted to convince her counselor she was going to kill herself again but we decided to watch her and remove sharp objects. She backed down. Then she refused to take her meds so I had her see a psychiatrist who put her on new meds. Then she jumped. And I cried buckets because it just never seems to end…all the emotional strength it takes to parent just her is something I no longer have. Plus I have two other kids and I feel like they get ignored a lot so my depressed child always knows we care. It’s downright exhausting.

There are many days I just want 18 to come. I see a lot of people missing their kids and going through empty nest but I feel like I will embrace empty nest. I will jump up and down to no longer be stuck in this emotional black hole.

My child ended up getting surgery for a broken tibia and had a titanium rod placed through her bone. It’s been a painful lesson. And we realized, she was just being a teen. She honestly thought she could clear the roof. She regrets being foolish and is suffering through pain, missing out on summer fun, and being stuck at home. I think she’s getting that she has put us through a lot based on conversations we’ve had.

My husband and I went away for the weekend. We’ve been married 20 years now. When we came back, I got depressed. I had fun just being with him. How often does our time just involve each other? Rarely ever these days. We are constantly dealing with our kids. It’s always stress. And I miss just being with my best friend.

I love my kids and always will. I sacrifice my time, energy, and entire life for them but sometimes I miss being a wife–getting attention, connecting, having fun. So we are back to life and stress and routines but I long for the day when things are boring.

Lately I just try to appreciate the moments of calm. I run off my anger at the gym. I praise my kids when they do things without me… Even if it’s small. The more I can encourage independence, the less stress I have to carry. I try to connect in small ways with my husband. I take what I can get.

Life won’t always be this way, but lately it feels so damn hard. There are parents who don’t have honor students and wish they had normal kids. They crave the simple things, but mostly peace. There is no such thing as normal, but we strive for a sense of it anyway.

I will keep loving my daughter in this hard to breath place, hoping relief will come someday. Maybe we’ll look back and laugh. I really hope so.

Fear of the Unknown

I told him that sometimes I see how fast the last 40 years has gone and I feel like the next 40 will fly by too.

He said he feels that way too sometimes.

I said when I was young, everyone dreamed of 1) getting married, and 2) having children. Now in a sense, that dream is over. They are growing up and will be gone before I know it. No one dreams of being old.

But old we will be. It’s hard to believe I’ve spent my entire adult life with him. It’s hard to believe that one day one of us will die first. Will it be me? Or him?

And what will become of the other who is left to hold the family together?

Families change when parents die. This, I cannot control nor will I try to. But it is a sad fact of life. Death of your parents changes so many things.

But being left here without him scares me too. I usually try not to think of it. But lately I do. It’s so hard for us lately. It would be even harder if one of us wasn’t here to help the other.

Of course, I can’t think too much of that. Because he is here. We still ARE. But it’s that unknown road ahead that I struggle so much with. Will I outlive him? My kids? Will I have to face some scary disease? I don’t think I’m brave enough to handle more of life’s blows.

There’s such a false sense of security when you are young and able to do almost anything you want. As you get older, you realize life is a fragile thing. It’s hard not to think of death sometimes. I know it will come for me. For him. For people I love. It already has taken my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, my brother, and friends. You never pay your dues until it’s your turn. Then it is the ones left behind that face it.

But why do I think so much about it? Why is there so much fear? This life is still here. I’m alive. The day is come again.

I have no idea what today will bring. I’m just thankful I am here to love those around me and shine like a light in someone’s dark day. I keep believing and hoping when hard things come, all the love we had will be enough to conquer the darkness of death. But I take one day at a time and am grateful for the people in my life.

He says to be thankful for the moment… To not look too far into the future.

I say I’m thankful for him–yesterday, today, and for however long we are.

When Marriage is a Mirage

My marriage is in the crapper these days. It’s been there for awhile but I tolerated it much better when my stress level wasn’t through the roof. Once upon a time, I had a lot of grace. These days, I need it more than most.

There’s really three roads you can take when this happens.

1) Take advice from men hating divorcees who claim you’d be better off alone

2) Take advice from conservative Christians, doormats, and conflict avoiders who convince you the problem is all you

Orrrrrr

3) Get professional help.

I’ve tried door number 2 first and hated myself. I listened to door number 1, but decided that door was not for me. They advised me against door number 3 stating that my husband would just manipulate the therapist.

I entered door number 3 well aware of the fact that it might end in disaster. I was the one who dragged my heels into counseling when he asked me to go. I didn’t want to meet with another male who could possibly blame me for everything again and I didn’t want my husband, who is the better conversationalist, to make me into the bad guy.

But I went. It was my last try, I told myself.

The first meeting I walked out mad but wasn’t sure why. Maybe because I felt like the advice he gave was too simplistic: go home and take turns discussing our feelings. I thought that was stupid considering the entire problem was that my husband refused to actually communicate with me, shutting down every time I had a negative emotion. I felt as if I wasn’t allowed to feel. He felt as if my feelings were too out there for him.

But we tried. We attempted to communicate. And things got a little better. But in the midst of the weeks between our next session, more stress happened. And when I tried to express my feelings, he said I was abusive (later apologizing for using that word) and shut me down again.

So I dragged my heels into counseling again. I didn’t expect much really. But the counselor got to the root of things, surprising even me. He talked about how I’m more reactive and how my husband is more logical. He said I’m logical too but emotions usually win. And it was my husband’s job to make me cry. Not by insulting me but by getting to the heart of what hurts. And instead of running away, he needs to embrace my feelings and validate them. He also talked about how my husband personalizes how I feel when he shouldn’t. My feelings aren’t judgments against him, but my own feelings. I own those, not him.

My husband, confused as to how talking and validating would help, asked the counselor what the point was if he couldn’t fix it. The counselor said because then I’d feel less crazy and less angry (i.e. abusive) and would feel understood. So we were to use “I feel” statement. It was my husband’s job to “pick a fight” or draw out the emotion. I was supposed to not say “I feel like” because “like” masked the true emotion. “I feel like crap” instead would be “I feel angry” or “I feel depressed”.

I will admit this is awkward. For years, I’ve not been able to truly say how I feel for fear of him calling me overly sensitive or telling me I’m wrong. So it is foreign to say how I feel out loud to someone I don’t trust emotionally. And I still feel hurt by the things he has said.

But working it out with expert help is better than the alternative. Granted both of us are trying. If you have one who gives up and won’t try, then door number 1 or 2 might be better.

I’m still not sure where all of this will lead in the end but at least it’s progress. It’s slow but it’s moving forward.