Today

Today, the skies were bright blue and cloudless and the temperature was a balmy 50°. I get that doesn’tsound very warm, but it’s been snowing here over the last few days. Today felt like Spring might come.

I’ve been quarantined &at home with my 3 kids, my 2 cats, and the puppy.  My wife is an essential worker and has been working her regular schedule, albeit in a different setting.  At first I was really anxious and nervous about being with the kids constantly, but it turns out, I like it.  We have been mostly ignoring actual school work.  Instead of school work, we hike, bake, read, tell jokes, raise a puppy, work outside.  The kids are also learning to deal with each others foibles.  And they have lots.   But, they are learning tolerance, trust, interdependence.

I have to say that what does cause me great anxiety these days is the reopening of things. I’m not ready and I really think that we, as country, a state, or even a region are not ready. I wish we could let things settle a little more. But, then again, I’m not one of the people financially devastated. We are poor as ever, but still as good as we have ever been. My stomach clenches at the thought of my kids going to school again. They have actually improved their behavior at home. They have been healthy. I will really miss them when they are gone all day. Also, they give me an excuse to wallow in my tendency toward agoraphobia. I don’t have to go out on the days when I feel like I cannot cope because the kids are my excuse. There have been, in the past, times where I didn’t leave the house for a month or more at a time because I trusted nobody but my immediate family. The current situation also gives me an excuse on the days that I have a difficult time with hypervigilance. I have to be on the watch for people too close to my kids and me. (I could really go off here on people who refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing. But, I shall attempt kindness). A woman from down the street showed up in my driveway yesterday, while the kids were chalkingup the driveway. She came with her 2 dogs. She stood and talked for 20 minutes, then casually mentioned that she had possibly been exposed to the virus, and was awaiting the test results. Ugh. I told her to leave immediately in a quiet, but angry and firm voice. I could not believe it. My kids have been nowhere but my property, house, and car or wide open, unpopulated hiking trails for months, and then she possibly brings the virus to me house?!?! I do not understand what people are thinking.

I’ve been doing teletherapy, which is okay, but not optimal. I do like that my therapist has been able to see my house and my pets. There’s just no way to describe things sometimes. I do miss seeing my therapist in person though andI look forward to the day I can. At first with all of the online school and meetings and doctor’s appointments, I thought I might lose my sanity as nothing felt grounded and real. That’s gotten better. Funny thing…today, I forgot that I had a telephone appointment with my psychiatric nurse practioner, and she called me as I was walking out of the grocery store. My kids and dog were in the car. The kids were reading books. So I put the groceries in the car, and went to a fence near the car, sat there, and had my appointment while the kids continued to do their things.

Having the puppy is very grounding. I don’t have much time to go elsewhere in my head or the past. And even getting up in the middle of the night to take her out is okay. I laugh because when she is in her crate at night, she groans when she has to go out. No whimpering, no barking, just groaning like an old man.

I try not to watch the news, because people’sreaction to this pandemic scares me. Believing it’s a hoax or a conspiracy gives people an excuse to not treat their fellow humans with respect or kindness. That’s a mindset I don’t understand.

Okay. I think I am done. I hope you all are doing as well as possible.

Easter

I can’t stop crying today. My cousin’s son is dead today. He was in his 30’s. He had just gotten out of jail on drug charges, and he died from an overdose. Probably on purpose. I cannot imagine him really wanting to live. This guy was a real introvert and lived with his mother, father (my cousin), and his wife. May, 2019, the son’s wife died, unexpectedly, from an asthma attack. In August, my cousin, the son’s father died of cancer and a heart attack. Nobody was expecting him to die at that point. In November, the son’s mother died, probably by suicide. Now the son is dead. An entire family decimated in less than a year. My cousin’s son was so kind and gentle. He loved is wife and parents. I cannot imagine how alone he must have felt on this world. My heart just aches.

In other news, other than the news of death, Easter was quiet. We had a nice family dinner with my wife and children.

I have been baking like crazy since our pandemic quarantine started. I have to say, I am not good at this learning from home stuff with my kids. Most days we end up baking, hiking, and reading. I feel like we are doing as well as possible. And it’s not bad.

We are picking up a 9 week old golden retriever on Tuesday. It’s a girl and her name will be Gracie. I picked the name because it seems a kind Act of God that during this pandemic, a cute ball of love should show up in my life. I believe her presence will assist me in paying more attention to matters within my control and not the matters of the NotPresident and all of the lies and disgustingness that pour from his mouth. The NotPresident actually frightens me more than the pandemic.

I’ve been doing tele-appointments for therapy, and while I am glad that I can still see and talk to my therapist, I really miss being in the same room as her.

Coronavirus Chat

Life has sure been different. I’m sure that is true for everybody. I have all three boys home 24 hours a day with nowhere to go. Well, we hit the hiking trails near every day, but it seems even the hiking trails may be teaming with people who may have coronavirus. I have never seen so many people on the trails where o typically encounter one or 2 other souls at the most.

Trying to have the kids learn at home is definitely difficult. I purchased tablets for them as soon as I knew that the shutdown was happening, thinking they would be able to sign into learning programs they use at school. My oldest promptly destroyed all parental oversight on all three and then wiped out god knows what on them. It’s taken me and my brother, a computer whiz, 2 weeks to get them back to where they need to be. Yes, we are doing social distancing. My brother and I met on Zoom!

I’m alternately comforted by being home and panicking at this continuing for months. My body was really aching yesterday. Not even a fibro flare, just hurting. I realized I’ve missed a couple of massages and a couple of chiropractor appointments. I am getting together on Zoom once a week with a group of 5 women that I’ve been part of since 1998. We have not been having regular meetings for 10 or more years. We no longer even all live in the same state. This is really interesting and helpful and calming

I miss seeing my best friend. I miss walking and breakfasting with another friend. I miss seeing my niece and great niece.

One thing that I wish would disappear is Mr. Trump. I think that he is spreading lots of misinformation and saying some dangerous things. I wish he would let the doctors do the talking about the medical stuff. I wish he would issue some nationwide orders. I wish he would stop making fun of one’s reporters and governors. And I really wish he would stop talking about how amazing he is.

We’ve done some strange things for entertainment in my family lately. One afternoon this weekend , we burned all of our Amazon boxes in our firepit. We had quite a bonfire going. It was fun and weird.

I hope everybody is surviving well. Oh, 2 things that have been really helpful for me during this time is tele- appointments with my therapist and the Insight Timer app.

I should know better…

My boys love to decorate cookies, so today when I was grocery shopping, I bought supplies for decorating valentine’s day cookies. Then I saw already cut out sugar cookie hearts that you just took out of the package and baked. Great cheat I thought. But, no. See the small pink and white cookies on top of the big cookies? Yeah. My cheat cookies were no good for decorating, so I had to make home made ones anyway. I should have known…

I Don’t Know…

What exactly to write about. I’ve been horribly unsociable in the past several weeks. I’m not depressed and I’m not angry. I’m not even horribly anxious. I’m just not talkative or outgoing. I think that I could pull off selective mutism if it wasn’t for my kids…having to talk to them and their doctors, teachers, counselors, service providers.

I’m tired. But not overly, ridiculously tired. I would love to sleep as much as I want for a few weeks. But, life, kids, wife does not allow for that.

I’m struggling with some health issues, but nothing that should make me mute and tired.

I’ve spent lots of time with a new friend lately and that has been entirely pleasant. I spent some time with a dear old friend and that was awesome. I also know I have not reached out as much as I usually do to most of my friends.

I do have an amusing anecdote about therapy (psycho) the other day. My therapist and I have been talking about the original Twilight Zone and the way the writer used toys in lots of his stories. We talked about how a doll that I have witnessed most of the abuse I endured. I have used this doll in therapy to represent my younger self in trying to deal with my flashbacks and nightmares. Well, in my last few sessions, we talked about some of the things I needed to say to my younger self. I brought the doll into my last session, got her out, and then became rebellious, telling my therapist I had no idea what to say, and got sarcastic with this baby doll. My therapist stopped me and asked me if I would talk to a small child like that, and I said no. So my therapist said I probably should not talk to my younger self like that. I just stopped and crossed my arms and gave therapist my evil eye. She encouraged me to continue this exercise, but I didn’t. So, she got out her computer and said she was going to write my note for the session while she waited for me to be ready. A few moments went by, and she voiced what she was supposedly writing: client was uncooperative in this session. OMG. I started laughing and laughed until I had tears rolling down my face. I could see my therapist trying not to join in with the laughter. I did the exercise and pulled out the words I have been talking about. I said I thought the exercise was helpful. Therapist acted out editing her note to say: client pulled herself together, cooperated with session in the last 20 minutes. I think it was helpful. My nightmares and flashbacks are down again over the last few days.

I have regained some of the weight I lost after my bariatric surgery. I really want to lose 20 lbs. To that end: I have been hiking 4-7 miles at least 5 days a week plus using the treadmill and elliptical and working with weights. I also need to get back to a protein, vegetables, and fruit diet. I have been having issues with sweets..especially chocolate and cookies. My bariatric doctor handed me a Built bar the other day. It was coconut cream and chocolate and absolutely amazingly decadent and delicious. These things have real chocolate,great flavors, 15 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of sugar. So good. I think these might beat my sweet tooth. (I have not received any incentive from anybody to post this kind of review…but if somebody wanted to pay me in Built bars, I would accept!).

I hope you have a good week. I’m going back to reading books.

💩 journaling and more

Yesterday, I posted an article about the benefit of “shit journaling” to help relieve stress. Well, here is my shit journaling for today (in no specific ascending or descending order).

  • My 2 older boys are unremorseful pains in the donkeys. Talked with them about the devices they have stole lately. Their only remorse is that they didn’t work..to let them do whatever..probably porn.
  • There was a person serving in and out of cars today..nearly sideswiped me. I was going 45 in a 35 zone. He must have been going 65-70.
  • I was pulling into a parking space at the grocery store and a person got out of a car 2 spaces down and proceeded to walk through the spot I was already pulling into. Hello, people. I drive a fucking heavy minivan. It does not stop on a dime.
  • My kid’s teacher, upon explaining that said kid could not watch a movie on the internet for an assignment..cause porn…told me i should watch it with him and that while he understands the situation, my kid still had to complete the assignment. I was livid. Why can’t he have an article or book to read for the project? And, not for nothing, I live in the 3rd poorest city in the country. Who says all kids even have access to the internet and Netflix at home?
  • My bladder sucks. I made it through a whole say of errands with no wet pants. Came home. Went to the bathroom. 15 minutes later, wet my pants on the way to the bathroom. Ugh. I see bladder botox in my future.

These are pictures from my walk today. The weather was beautiful. Sunny and 55°. I was so energized after my walk.

I also had therapy today. Lately, my therapy sessions are basically venting about my kids and wife. The stress I’m living with is hugely impacting my mental and physical health. I keep trying to find ways to relieve the stress I feel about my kids and their behaviors. I think there really is no way. I live with freaking terrorists. I dread every day. Just writing this is making my stomach feel like it’s eating itself. Is there pain medicine for ulcers?

How to Deal

https://www.whatswithinu.com/blog/your-not-so-ordinary-holiday-stress-reducing-tip#

This article is about dealing with the holidays, but I loved one of the suggestions. My favorite suggestion is “shit journaling”. I’m only paraphrasing here, but it seems like it works by writing down all of the stinky crap happening in one’s life so that one can let it go. I’m not thinking only of the holidays, but of my entire life. It is full of shit right now. I see shit journaling as a wa at to vent, and maybe find some humor. But, I know, I’m not letting go of this stuff right now. Letting it go flying out the window may mean that it just comes back and slaps me in the face, making a bigger mess than the slightly controlled one I have right now.

I will try it…maybe here…and let you know how it goes.

A Hard Fall

I keep putting off writing here, as I promised myself that my next post would be positive. I’m not sure that can happen. I love the Fall, with the season change and beautiful colors. But this Fall has been hard…really hard.

My wife and I have three adopted sons. The littlest one seems pretty typical. The 2 older ones not so much. Thet are preteens who need to be watched like toddlers. They steal, lie, destroy our house, and basically cannot be trusted. It’s a pain having to not just put my purse down. I have to lock it in my room…or stuff disappears. I can’t leave my laptop out when I’m using it and then have to go to the bathroom, I have to take it with me or else it disappears. The 2 older boys cannot in any way be near the internet because the look up pornography…every single time. The real issue there is kiddy porn. I don’t want that in my house. The oldest wants to molest my youngest. The middle is terrified of the oldest because the oldest threatens to kill the middle. The middle spoke of using a knife to kill somebody the other day. The oldest took a homemade shank to school last week. I know this stuff is due to past trauma and heredity and mental illnesses. But, my body is now falling apart from stress. Chronic flare of fibromyalgia. Interstitial cystitis. Ulcer. Irritable bowel syndrome. My usual calming methods are doing nothing. I am dysregulated and panicked on a regular basis. Therapy helps cause I get to vent, but there are NO solutions. I still have my own PTSD flashbacks and nightmares to deal with.

My wife and I cannot go a day without arguing. Some of it is stress from the kids. Some of it is her stuff that I used to be able to ignore. She is often right on the edge of verbal and emotional abuse. I think she falls over that edge, but when I confront her, she says I do the same. I’m not sure if that is true or not. I’ve been way more careful, and tried to be mindful of my words, but things with her just seem worse by the day.

Recently, the oldest boy was mental hygiene arrested and taken to the psychiatric emergency room. While I was there with him, a friend offered to come and support me and another friend, hundreds of miles away, prayed. I felt their presence. I felt supported in a way I have not in a long time.

A woman at aqua yoga, whom I really don’t know well, just listened to me the other night. No advice, just said kids are hard. They are, I know. No matter what. I felt supported . My therapist has been answering every message I send her. I feel supported.

My best friend from high school lives 90 minutes away from me. She still is my best friend. A couple of years ago, she invited me to watch her eldest daughter bake Christmas cookies as a way to provide me some respite. That became a new tradition. We did it last year and just set a date for this year. I felt supported.

There are so many parks with great hiking trails where I live. They were not made for me personally, but they provide me with the cycles and wonder and awe of nature. Nature supports me with it’s beauty and trust.

I’m working on mindfulness. It’s a practice. Somedays, all I can be mindful of is the anxiety that overtakes my mind and body. I accept it and remind myself that it is actually pretty normal and acceptable that I feel this way.

No more pity party, but….

I feel like I’m dying. I’m really not. But, it feels like I might die…from embarrassment, shame, or something close to those. I really need somebody to talk to about what’s going on. I had therapy earlier today, and we worked on some material close to what’s triggering me now, but not exactly. I had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and it made me realize that my body is still holding onto my childhood trauma just as much as my mind is, and I’m not sure how to make my mind and body let go. I have tears pouring down my face and my heart feels broken. I have therapy again on Thursday, but I need to talk to somebody now and there is no one that I’ve ever really shared this stuff with. I’d also like to curl up in someone’s arms and sob, but that won’t be happening either. Because, who would do that without wanting an explanation about what’s wrong? And I don’t think I can really explain to anybody who doesn’t already have the basic information. But, here is one thing that is both comforting and terror inducing: that my childhood sexual abuse is a contributing factor to my physical issue is actually written in my medical record now. And it needed no cross examination or proof or even, a blink of an eye.