anxiety, clarity, communication, identity, journey, life, purpose, self esteem, strength, trust

Puzzle Pieces…

Ok… This is all so interesting… unraveling parts of me that I have tried to ignore… Parts  I’ve pushed aside to be able to muddle on… to keep on keepin’ on!  My body and my brain have decided I wasn’t going to ignore them anymore, it needs to be dealt with! It is all beginning to come together and make some sort of sense!

I will need to rewind, talk about things I haven’t touched on in this blog before.  I don’t like to complain, whine, or feel self pity.  I press on… until I can’t.

I mentioned in my last post that I would be seeing a specialist for some ongoing health issues I’ve been having for years.  They have progressively gotten worse and the burden of chronic pain is taking its tole. What that all meant, I didn’t really “get”… I have been beating myself up recently about not being able to feel like me…struggling with everyday things and sheer exhaustion! I was able to for a while blame it on pneumonia, something physical, something seen by others… then the dizziness hit… vertigo, equilibrium issues causing me to not be capable of walking without holding on, nausea, migraine headaches… issues!  When I sought help from my primary doctor it seemed it may have been related – possible Vestibular Neuritis due to inflammation from the sickness. I went to PT for what I thought would just be routine Epley Maneuver (something I’ve done many times before for my vertigo) and it would be relieved and I’d move on (like so many times before).  Well, not this time… 3 WEEKS OF CONTINUED VERTIGO and lots of balance/dizziness issues!  I was referred to a specialist at MA Eye and Ear, I got in quite quickly and was happy to have someone treat me while symptomatic, as I’ve ailed from these things before, but never this long. It’s always been only my words that could describe how I felt, until now.  Tests revealed some different abnormalities in brain function and a Brain MRI was ordered. The doctor suggested I take some time off from work and rest and relax, he ordered me to be out of work for the month until I see him again. I finally was able to stop holding my breath when I got the MRI results two weeks later, it felt like an eternity…  There were no tumors or aneurysms found! Phew!

I was put on a special Migraine Diet to help eliminate trigger foods in my diet. I was put on certain supplements to help my body and my mind.  I have been religious in following my protocol, keeping a diary of all symptoms and reporting for PT sessions. I will be going back to see the specialist next week.

The time the doctor has given me has allowed me to really slow down and see/feel everything for what it truly is.  The constant pain I feel in my arm, neck and shoulder are so prominent when I’m not having to push through everyday, the assessment of myself in the morning of the poor nights sleep I got due to tossing and turning from tinnitus interrupting my sleep, or neck, arm pain has been very eye opening.  Stabbing random headaches that seem to come out of nowhere are felt and documented.  I’ve come to realize how long have I been feeling (or NOT feeling) these things and the crazy amount of stress I’ve put on my body and mind trying to deal with it.  I found out a year ago this month that I have two herniated discs in my neck as well as an Arnold Chiari Malformation… I went to a neurosurgeon then to discuss this and he left it with me that if I lose motor control… not able to zip zippers or button buttons to come back to him.  I have been following that “rule” ever since, allowing myself to think that if all that is still intact then I must be okay.  The chronic pain, stiffness, constant aches, and weakness, tingling in my arm and hand are obviously taking a tole on me… I have begun to be more patient with myself and knowing fully now that my anxiety and new onset of depression certainly could be a result of these physical ailments.

Because the constant pain has been normal for so long, the new onset of constant worry and trying to find a root problem to my saddened state has allowed me to dig deep into my psyche and pin point things I felt were contributing.  I feel that this has added to my already emotional drain and fatigue.  I have taken a break from seeing my new therapist during this and will plan to see him again when I have more answers to my physical ailments.

It is reassuring to me to begin to put the puzzle pieces of “me” together and have a medical doctor really listening to what I’m feeling!  I feel like I’m on the road, I feel like I am taking care of me… I am finally paying attention to what I need! …I feel brave!

“A strong woman has the faith that she is strong enough for the journey … But a woman of STRENGTH has faith that it is IN THE JOURNEY that she will BECOME STRONG!”

~ Unknown

anxiety, communication, identity, purpose, self esteem

Feel the pain? Really?

They say letting the pain emerge is best… let it runneth over.

Accept it, acknowledge it, feel it. After having done a lot of self-help books and learning these things for myself, I felt like I couldn’t get to the point of forgetting, forgiving, and moving past it… so I began therapy. Its good, it’s okay. I’ve only been going 2 weeks. It’s weird ~ what crossed my mind after my last session ~ I didn’t expect it…

I realized my therapist is a stranger to me, I was in a state of need when I reached out to him, I went straight into my history… my “stuff”. When I got through that initial emergent feeling of needing help after having a prolonged sickness, after having been worn down, tired and vulnerable… I got back up and back into my routine… I began to feel regret for opening up so much. Regret for not just being the reclusive me and fighting through this alone like I always have. That is what I do… that’s been my go to.. I hide my pain, I have for a long time, hiding behind a mask is my norm.

As I continued to go and he would ask questions like “how I was doing” I felt strange, I almost felt defensive.

“What? You don’t believe I can handle this? … You don’t know me!! I fight, I survive, I am charming and lovely and I handle things with grace! That’s who I am! ~ Sorry that I allowed you to believe otherwise, forget all that! I’m fine!” I didn’t say this, it’s just been my internal feeling. I realize now … I’ve only shown him the weak, sad, the in need part of me … I am NOT that! WHAT AM I DOING? I have never shown that, I am regretful that I am doing that now! What is wrong with me? I’ve allowed my friends into this new version of me as well, often times I feel pitied and weak … I’ve always been the strong one. I have always had all the answers, People come to me for my strength and wisdom. Who is this person that goes and sits in front of a stranger and whines about her life?? He doesn’t know ME!! He doesn’t KNOW that I am GRATEFUL, BLESSED, STRONG, WISE, AMAZING!!!!! He doesn’t know that!!! I almost wish I never started … like could we just wipe away what I’ve said… I’m fine, I don’t need help!!

What is this? Why am I battling with my own self about this? I started out feeling brave to do this. I assumed it would bring me new confidence and understanding of myself … so far it’s only made me feel regretful… shameful for feeling… guilty for sharing… it’s almost made me feel weaker. Like I’m dwelling now on these things I’ve said out loud, almost feeling like a victim, I don’t want to feel like a victim!!!! I feel like I’ve shed my armor, an armor I’ve spent a lifetime creating for myself. I am out of my comfort zone. Is this part of the process?

Thank God I read something recently that said “if you question and think you’re going insane then you’re not” ~ it went on to explain how an insane person doesn’t stop to reflect, look inward and question it, they are just irrational and out of their own mind. I do have to say that’s brought me comfort. I am really struggling to know how to help myself right now.

The truth is I am going through a lot right now. I am still home from work due to illness… another one …I am stressed about that to say the least. I am seeing a medical specialist next week to try to get some answers to literally years of ailments, most of them having to do with vision, balance, migraines, and chronic pain. I am quite sure the sitting in this chair with pain, feeling isolated and sorry for myself, questioning why I can’t just be “me” without so much effort to feel normal, I remember when that came with ease. I am exhausted, I am frustrated, I am sad… I read and read… I ponder and research my thoughts trying and hoping to find answers.

I do try to snap out of this, try to tell myself to get up, get some fresh air… use my body and mind for something else but then I stand up and the dizziness takes over, I can’t, I literally can’t. It’s a horrible cycle that I don’t know how to stop. People who love me tell me to be patient with myself… I know this, I agree and I try, I honestly try.

I will again try… Baby step #1 will be to go to the specialist next week, not expect healing that day, but hope for understanding. I will pray for some answers, some explanation to what is going on. I will pray that he gives me something to do or focus on to begin to break free of this cycle, the fear, the anxiety and now I suspect some depression, from being out of commission, being and feeling so far from center for myself.

I promise myself… I will continue to try.

adult children, communication, drugs and alcohol, expectations, family, purpose, raising kids, respect, responsibility

Everything’s Different …

I began this blog many years ago, if you’ve followed me you’ve see my family transition through many things.  To put it into perspective when I wrote my first post, my youngest son was 15 and he is now 21.  I can’t imagine I need to explain to anyone how much life changes over that period of time.

We have 3 children, their current ages are 26, 22, & 21. They are adults. Two of our adult children have returned home and are living with my husband and I.  Our youngest did a year of college and decided it wasn’t for him… we respected that completely and with open arms embraced that his next step would present itself with time.  Our daughter, our middle child, age 22, also left school after 3 years.  She struggled with campus life and was met with some illnesses that made it difficult to handle the stresses of being away at school.  She also came home with intentions of growing her small business here at home and forging a new path. We accepted her personal decision and welcomed her home as well with open arms.

As you can imagine life needed to be different from what we all once knew it to be under one roof.  I was conscious of the fact that they had been away from home long enough to have gotten used to not having mom & dads rules to live by, but yet knowing that being in our home the respect factor would still apply.  I worked diligently to allow them space and I felt all the same respects from them.

It has been 2 years of them living at home with us, 2 years of adjustments for all of us. In one of my past blogs entitled All We Expect is Respect I told of how in our family unit my husband and I had a pretty simple formula for our kids growing up …. we would give respect and expect respect, most everything has always boiled down to that.  All those years of instilling this very premise into our children has brought us to the harmony we live in today.  They are amazing!

I would say one of my own biggest struggles with this transition has been all my prior teachings, when they were teenagers, about drugs and alcohol. When we made the choice to have them come home and live in our home as adults I knew they would have to be allowed to make their own personal decisions and with certain respect and boundaries I would need to respect that.  They choose to smoke marijuana. They are very aware that this is something I have always been uncomfortable with. Over the past couple years of course it has become legalized, I have spent a lot of energy being okay with this for them and allowing them this personal choice.  Now “allowing” does not mean crossing my own personal boundaries and they have shown great respect to that. They do not smoke in our home, they do not smoke in front of me and honestly in a 2 years period of them living here I’ve only seen them twice when I perceived them to be high in my presence.  Now that is respect!

We are very open in our communication about substance. I remind (without nagging I hope) that they need to be aware of how substance affects them.  To check in with themselves that its not being “used” as a coping mechanism, that its recreation and relaxing but not a “need”.  It has gotten easier over time.  With open transparency that it is happening and them listening respectfully to my concerns, we have come very far.

I also was certain that we would not enable them while being home. That was important to me.  They pay rent to be here, contributing to home expenses, and they manage and pay all their own bills.  They have student loans and they both have a car with insurance to manage.  My husband and I are  so proud of how they are handling their adult lives.  They both are hard workers and remain dedicated to growing and learning everyday.

I want to remind my readers that the two children I speak of in this post are my two who have been diagnosed with anxiety in their teenage years.  They were medicated back in 2017-2018 and since went off all of prescribed medicines and are handling what life is throwing at them these days with grace.  Do I worry?  Of course.  Am I concerned that they are self medicating with marijuana? Yes, of course.  As their mom I am going to worry, but I have to control that worry and begin to trust.

They are adults now… did I always make the “right” decisions at their age? Of course not.  I respect them and they respect me. We are in a good place.

“Adulthood is like the vet, and we’re all the dogs that were excited for the car ride until we realized where we’re going.”  ~ Anonymous 

adult children, clarity, communication, life, responsibility

The Coffee Shop

   Saturday morning… the satisfaction of waking up thinking about something other than mundane tasks of a weekday morning routine.  I woke up joyful today. Texted the kids to see if either of them could meet me for bagels and coffee?  One answers immediately… he can fit it in before work “if you can be there in 5”.  Of course I’ll be there in 5… jump up and quick get ready.

I get there before my 19 year old son, my youngest of 3 adult children.  I order for us both and sit down in a corner seat.  I mention to a friend at a nearby table that my boy was meeting me and he’s heading to work … “I may only get a few minutes, but a few minutes I’ll take” I say to her.  Knowing smiles cross both of our faces. He joins me moments later and his smile fuels me for my day.  He sits with me and we chat a bit, just being with him after the crazy work week I’ve had completes me somehow.  He scoffs down his bagel in a way only a 19 year old can and gulps his chai… he’s out the door… off to work.  Off to continue his journey… his becoming. I love watching this, I love hearing him share that he’s got to pick up his buddy on his way to work and wouldn’t want to be late because then delivery times get “screwed up”.  This might all sound so simple and not worth mentioning, or blogging about for that matter, but I feel it is more than worth it.

What I’ve clearly learned over time is that most other people don’t see the world the way I do.  I realize this is a daily exchange of many as a day begins, but for me it’s me watching the growth in my son, the learning of responsibility, he makes me proud.  I find such joy and emotion in everything around me. I find that it’s the simple things that bring the greatest joy… small daily accomplishments all leading to bigger ones down the line.  Don’t be mistaken… with this strong emotional attachment to the little things that I say bring me “joy”… the small things also rock my world in a way that other’s can’t always understand. I FEEL everything… and strongly might I add.  The good and the bad.  I internalize things and overthink them… is this a bad thing? I’m not sure, I just know it’s me and I know that I am beginning to understand myself more everyday.  I have felt misunderstood for much of my life.

Sitting in the coffee shop after my son left was different for me, I don’t often sit alone like that.  I sat committed to finishing my coffee and taking in the morning buzz of the people around me. I live in a small community so there were many familiar “hellos” but just as many unfamiliar faces too.   Chit chatter surrounded me, I consciously worked at not pulling out my phone… I honestly wanted to “see” and be seen!  I sipped and observed.  I saw many so engrossed in their phone screens that they would need to come out of that trance to even remember where they had landed for coffee that morning.  Others are “regulars” here and had friendly conversations amongst them.  A gentleman sat alone in the opposite corner from me reading the morning news.  Chatter across the counter while folks waited for their orders… I noticed one man who was so kind and followed each “Good Morning” greeting with “How are you doing anyway?”  — A man after my own heart.  He wants to know more, head lifted, eye contact, genuinely interested in how another person is “doing”.  I honed in on one conversation at the counter that sounded a bit deep, they were discussing a poster hung up for a fundraiser for a local musician who’s battling cancer. The man who wants to know more asked the barristas how his battle was going.  The response came from one of my favorite people behind the counter,  his response was “he’s ok… but this just may be his last loop around the planet.”  This resonated in me. I pondered that thought and knew I would write this morning.

I have not been turning to this blog for a while… I have been preferring my pen flowing across the pages of my personal journals…Yes that was plural… I have multiple journals around my home, always ready for me to jot down my many thoughts. This feels good today.

My coffee shop experience this morning left me humbled to be human. The last gentleman to leave the shop before me made his rounds to say goodbye and told us all that “Life is just a big wave… we are all on a tiny surfboard! Stay steady!”  Peace.

 

adult children, anxiety, clarity, communication, expectations, family, identity, life, purpose, school

Taking Life One Day at a Time

So…. It’s Spring.  Spring of 2018, the weather in New England may not be saying so, but the calendar indeed does.  Spring is a marked time for new beginnings, a time to launch into our days with renewed energy and vitality after a long winter.  This has always been the time of year that I break free of my own version of winter hibernation and begin to stretch.  With warmer weather and longer days it feels natural to begin to feel and think “brighter”.

My two youngest children have been away at college and will return home for summer in 2 weeks time. Our daughter is half way through her junior year and our youngest son is completing his freshman year. If you’ve read my earlier posts you would know that this was my husband and I’s dreaded year of “empty nesting”. A major shift in our family dynamic, one of which has been shifting since our oldest son left for college over 6 years ago.  He has completed his college degree and has found a career path that he is delighted in.

We had a big celebration weekend this past weekend for our daughter’s 21st Birthday…WOW! What a milestone! We are enjoying our adult children so very much! With family time for us come discussion time…

We have been well aware that our two younger children have not found college to be as exciting and rewarding as our oldest son did. It has been a struggle. Our daughter in three years time has taken a semester off, transferred schools and is still just not feeling happy with her experience there.  She has made some good friends but often feels surrounded by negativity and feels she has no escape. Campus life just has not been fulfilling or rewarding for her. Our youngest son never really knew if college was right for him, he would throw around different ideas when he was in high school and not fully deciding on going to college until end of his junior year. He had mentored at our local elementary school as a Phys Ed teacher and decided to pursue that path.  College courses have proven difficult for him leaving him with feelings of frustration and often feeling like a failure. They have both shared with us that they do not want to return to college in the Fall.

This did not come as much of a surprise.  My husband and I have wondered if spending the money for them to just go through the motions and not feel fulfilled is the right thing for them anyhow. The feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction they’ve shared throughout their journey has left us to feel this may be best as well.  Our daughter has decided she will finish her degree online while working at building her new dog business.  She has a passion for dogs and has run her own dog walking business for a couple summers and would like to grow her business into something more.  She gets excited when she talks about this and it is clear it is the path she will follow for now just not knowing what’s around the corners up ahead.

This leads me to our daughter’s anxiety and depression.  It has flared up terribly in the last few months. I do feel a lot of it has to do with her age and not being able to “see” where she is headed, or what is around the next corner.  She is very often in a very heightened state of stress.  She has battled with autoimmunity with unexplained body rashes, sicknesses that can’t be explained, such as severely inflamed throat and fevers that test negative to strep or mono (she has been tested many times over the last 3 years) … it is always a result of high white blood cell count showing her body is fighting infection but no illness per se.  This is very unsettling.  A lot of what I have seen happening (sickness, weight gain, anxiety, depression, etc)  all seem to point in the direction of her gut health.  She has taken antibiotics over the years for these illnesses and I feel she may be way off in her gut chemistry.  My mission now is to get her home and begin healthy eating with the addition of prebiotics and probiotics and hope to get her back on track with her health and see if her other health issues iron themselves out.

Our son has also battled with major anxiety.  He was diagnosed with a mild form of OCD with his anxiety last summer.  My children do not “present” themselves as having these illnesses, they have always been active community members, good students and were top athletes in the sports programs they’ve been a part of.  Most of my friends do not even know we battle the way we do with these everyday struggles. I don’t know that I am necessarily keeping it a “secret” it’s just that often I just don’t feel like it is my place to tell their story.  It is their path, their journey and they should be able to tell it as they see it and as they wish when the time is right for them.  I have chosen to tell my own story of anxiety at the age of 46.

So here we are… Spring… new beginnings.  My son wants to travel, he wants to experience life! Our daughter wants to also travel, she talks about jumping on a plane and heading out to some sort of conference or dog trade shows… they are ready to “fly” in different ways.   One thing I can say with sincere positivity is they will be okay…. they struggle today because they are so in-tune with their inner selves that they feel everything… they want answers for what feels unsettling.  They are not drowning out what this feels like with drugs and alcohol, and to be perfectly honest with the decisions to not be on a college campus right now, I am clear that they don’t like seeing others doing this either.  I am proud of them and we support their journey!

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.  – Arthur Ashe

 

communication, expectations, family, life, marriage, respect, responsibility, trust, Uncategorized

Marriage ~ working together

This morning I am reflecting on my life;  I am reflecting on how I have gotten to today.  When I take time to stop and reflect ~ I am truly grateful.  I often speak in my posts of my time and my relationship with my children, but the truth is my marriage, my husband, is the root to our beautiful family. It takes work to be grateful, it takes work to have a good marriage… I am blessed that I have a partner beside me willing to work.

Marriage is defined as ‘a union of two elements’… A union is ‘the action or fact of joining or being joined’.  When my husband and I joined each other in this life we became teammates, partners, allies, and honestly… best friends.  You certainly don’t know this is the case right away!  You begin by living together, trusting each other, ironing out differences, listening…  If you really listen you learn about one another and learn from one another!  In every decision we make in life we must put effort into it to make it work… marriage follows this rule threefold!!

What I find interesting in this life is that each simple moment leads to things you could have never imagined.  My husband and I have been married 23 years and 6 months!  Could I have ever imagined us being here? No. Did I know then that each struggle, each decision, each triumph together and literally each moment (good or bad) would lead us to the strength in togetherness we feel today? No.  We have built the life we live today.  By being true to ourselves and true to each other we strengthen our bond minute to minute.  When I hear others complain about their husband or wife I have a hard time understanding it. If you have agreed to be married… to be partners & teammates to one another… I believe you better find the good in what another is attempting to do and learn to share it, learn to tell them and others what is good about what they are contributing.  We can all find fault, we can all blame others, but being teammates means you rely on each others strengths to ‘join together in a cooperative effort’.  Venting what you dislike about your partner , your teammate, to others will always weaken your bond. Work hard to tell others what’s *great* about your partner, and most importantly when you identify the good in them… work hard to tell THEM what is great about them!! This will strengthen your bond!!

My husband is exceptional.  He is reliable, he is willing,  he is committed, he is flexible, he is consistently respectful and supportive.  Now, does he occasionally veer away from these many attributes? Of course! Do I? Of course!  Do we need to focus on the times we veer away from being our best? No.  Always focus on the good, be grateful for the times we are able to accomplish our best intentions… realize that each other is trying!  Learning to respect the good in one another is your key to happiness… bring each other up not down!  Of course there will be times when things are off balance and you can’t find the good if there isn’t any to be found… but when you chose to have this person as your partner, your teammate in this life, there was good… if you find the courage and work hard to voice what you love about them and show gratitude for what is good when it is good ~ then when things are off balance you have leverage to speak about it. Respect comes from built trust… if you have put honest gratitude into your partners emotional bank, if you have allowed them to see and believe their worth and excellence to you over time, it is easier to talk about and deal with the tough stuff.  I’ve said it in parenting… but I believe it to also be true in marriage… All we expect is respect!

My husband is my best friend. We laugh together and  we cry together. This isn’t something that comes magically, there isn’t a soul mate out there that is just the right one that you skip out into the flower-filled field with and run into the sunset… but there is a partner willing to work along side of you and be your forever teammate.  They will sacrifice self for you and they will tell you when you’ve done well and they’ll tell you when you’ve done bad.  They will love you for you.  The hard work you put in is so worth the time, so worth the struggle… if you take care of every moment, be your best and demand the best from them… you will lead yourself to a place you never knew existed.  23 years ago I was young, I was learning…I met this man and we fell in love,  we have built a successful life, a life to be proud of.  Through all the changes and transitions we remain modest and grateful for one another.  We have built true love… it didn’t just come to us… we continue to work at it… side by side… we are stronger together than we are apart!  I wish true love to be created by all.

adult children, anxiety, clarity, communication, identity, life, peace, purpose, raising kids, responsibility, school, self esteem, trust

Finding Ones Balance

How do I feel about my two adult children being prescribed medicine from a phsychiatrist in the last few months? Well, mixed emotions I suppose (like most things in my life). After all,  I am the one who suggested and advocated for the visit to the doctor.  Did I suspect medicine was a possibility?… Well the answer is, not really!?! Not right away.  Maybe get to know them and have an understanding of their lives before prescribing… but then I tell myself he’s a doctor – he looks at facts – he asked questions and he knows the proper answers. Well okay then, I understand.  But it is still my children, it is still their brains and bodies that are being altered.  But yes altered, altered because there is a possible chemical imbalance that is causing them to struggle, isn’t this what I wanted someone to help them with? Yes.

Do I fully understand medicine today and why it is so much more common than when my parents were children? No.  Do i want to learn? Yes. Do I look at my extended family and see alcoholism and struggle? Yes.  Do I want to find a way for my children to be successful and able to fulfill their own hopes and dreams? Yes.  Is medicine the answer to helping them through a difficult time so they can achieve this?  The answer here is… I have to put trust in their doctor and believe that they are well monitored. So yes.  Yes it is the answer for them for now.

I have also struggled in my life.  I ask myself the question “Am I trying to pave a smoother road for my kids than I have had?”  Isn’t that what parents do?  Is medication for them the correct answer for doing this? If I had been medicated for my anxiety would I have done all the soul searching that has led me to today?  Does medication take away creativity and true personalities?  Is this right for MY children???  I could ask 100’s and 100’s of questions and never have answers to them until it is tried for them as individuals.  I have to continuously remind myself that they are being monitored by both me and their doctor through the beginning stages of beginning the medicine.  This has been done thoughtfully and professionally.

Do I know whether or not medicine for me in the earlier years of my life would have helped me? No.  Do I think I may have been a better student or a better friend had I been medicated to help my anxiety and focus? No, I don’t know the answers to these many questions that flow through my mind… all I know for today is I helped my children to seek help for the way they were feeling and this is where it has led us.  Does there seem to be stigma attached to people on “meds”? Yes indeed there is. Should there be? No, there absolutely should not.  Each person is traveling their own journey… We all gain help along the way in different kinds of ways.  I am thankful that my children are on the path to self-understanding and learning about themselves and their bodies.  The medication they are on will help to regulate some of the things that have been out of sync for them and should help to put them back in balance.  Life is all about balance.

quotes-on-balance1-min-450x450