Golden Anniversary

 

A golden or 50th wedding anniversary is a celebration of life. A life shared and built together through commitment and love, without these it is impossible to achieve. It is a great honor that deserves reverence and celebration. Something I didn’t understand as we prepared for both sets of my grandparents’ celebrations. Togetherness that spans half- a century is becoming rarer with each new generation.

I get it now. The first time I was a part of this type celebration I was barely 18. The concept of how hard marriage actually is, was still a foreign concept to me. I still somehow believed with real love came harmony and ease. “All you need is love.” All that simplified crap that led me to believe such an achievement was no big deal.

I was seeing the end result, I was too young to see and understand the struggles. I saw my grandfather pick at grandma because he liked to rile her up. He once told me, “She’s so pretty when she’s mad.” Yet, I didn’t see my grandmother praying while he was having a lung removed because of cancer. I didn’t see the worry as my grandfather lay in the hospital with a heart attack.  I saw trips in the motor home, camping and fishing.

While I lived the struggles with my parents I truly could not understand as they did their best to shelter us from them when they could. They disciplined us as a team. ‘Wait until your father gets home.’ wasn’t because Mom didn’t have the authority to discipline or give permission, but because they strive to be a unit in ALL decisions. I saw many of my friends get negative answers from one parent, only to be able to obtain permission from the other. In some cases, pitting parents against each other. This seldom happened in my house, and if one found out the other had already said ‘No.’ the permission would be revoked and we’d be grounded. The consequences generally we not worth slim chance of success.

The closer we got to my parents 50th anniversary celebration the more I realized, I had a more realistic understanding of just how special this all was.  While personally, I have two failed marriages to my credit. One lasted 5 years of which 3 we were separated. My second 10 years together and currently separated. My sister has one failed marriage while my brother still hasn’t married. I can’t speak for my siblings but this is not something I am proud of.

During my parents 50 years they have stuck it out through impossible challenges, many would have called it quits over.  They survived Vietnam, Agent Orange, and PTSD. While my sister was wonderfully healthy, my brother was born with a very rare disease that they did not know if he would survive. Multiple surgeries before he was even a month old, in the last 50 years there have been only about 300 people diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease. They spent almost 2 years going back and forth to Children’s Hospital. Yet, they survived.

When I came along they recommended my mother terminate her pregnancy with me, fearful that I may have the same issues. She suffered miscarriage type symptoms complete with passing many clots and solid substances leading them to believe I should have been a twin and one lost. Again, they recommended termination and my parents decided that God would end the pregnancy if that was what should happen. But, I’m here writing this now. I also was born with health issues though no where near what my brother faces. I was born with Congenital Hip Dysplsia and under developed hip sockets. I wore braces on my hips as a baby.

We weren’t easy kids either. I think we all ran away at least once, usually over something stupid. My sister was hell bent on living a severely more secular lifestyle, and us younger kids paid for it in even stricter rules and more involvement at church. Although, the church part didn’t bother me and my brother so much it severely chaffed my sister. By sixteen she would leave not to return until she was in her twenties. My parents’ marriage survived. While I never saw them cry over this, I did hear it and more than once I saw my mom standing in the hall just staring at my sister’s room.  For the most part we were fairly good kids, although I did get busted for shop lifting. Once. From Sears they gave me a lifetime ban which I did not break until last year. I bought a heater, it was a really good sale.

My parents always had an open-door policy for us and now our children. All of us have moved home at least once out of necessity, and were greeted with love, understanding and support. And my father telling us “Your mother will not do your laundry.” And she doesn’t. The grand kids and great grand kids are welcome at any time and requested frequently.

Mom and Dad declared years ago that their house is Switzerland. No mater what we maybe squabbling with each other about It gets left at the door. We all get together for birthdays, Christmas eve, Thanksgiving and Mother’s and Father’s days. We try to leave the drama at the door. And for the most part we enjoy these get gatherings. They keep us rooted.

As they have aged time has affected their bodies and my father is now a paraplegic, completely dependent on others. There have been a few times this year we worried Mom would not make it to this monumental mile stone with my father. As he declines daily, he still fights to be here. While there are many daily challenges they again survive this as they have survived everything else. Together.

We celebrated 50 years today with so many wonderful friends. People who have played a big part in our family’s histories. I couldn’t be more thankful for those who came today to share in this celebration.49811694_2470119299669402_4901514985701638144_n

Circling the bell Jar

 

Circling the bell Jar

 

I am overwhelmed. There I have admitted it. In the last thirty days my father was released from the nursing home only to be back in the hospital within 24 hours. My mother was hospitalized for 3 days. My ex fell off the wagon and spent four spectacularly horrible days calling me and just generally making things unpleasant. Sobered for a week and started the cycle again. I’m working full time. I’m helping care for my father. I’m trying to deal peacefully with my ex. I’m trying to build my business. Planning my parents 50th anniversary party. I don’t have the energy to write, my one sanity salvation. I am beyond overwhelmed to the point of teetering on depression.

My inner child wants to throw a temper tantrum and I’m trying to reign her in. There is nothing really wrong except life.  Life moving on. I used to work the conventions and a couple people I work with have passed away the last few months. It hurts. Knowing I will never see them again takes my breath away. Yet, I am actively watching my father deteriorate. I know before long he will also move on. My father dying is something I can’t deal with, so I spend as much time as I can with him.  Then focus elsewhere. And trust me there is a lot of other things to focus on.

Like, what do you do when your child’s father breaks his heart? I just don’t know how to minimize the damage. My ex showed up at my sons Christmas program at 8:30 in the morning still drunk from the night before. Reeking of alcohol from the night before. When he went to sit down he completely missed the chair falling in front of all the other parents. Aidan was so excited that we BOTH where there. One song in to the program my ex decides he can’t wait to use the restroom. My son went from excitedly singing to watching his father walk out. He stood there worrying, not singing the songs he had been practicing so hard at home for weeks. He finally started singing again when my ex returned during the last song. I couldn’t believe it Aidan had worked so hard.

We were asked to give them about ten minutes to move back to the room then we could join them for the Christmas party. After waiting he decides he needs a smoke and can’t be convinced to wait. My six-year-old spent his whole Christmas Party standing at his classroom door waiting for his father to come back. After school I had to tell him he couldn’t go to his dad’s that day because his dad wasn’t safe to supervise him. I have no answers so we spent the weekend in my nest.

I know your wondering. Nest? Yes, I have so many blankets and pillows it resembles an animal nest. When I am sad, upset or generally overwhelmed I take to the nest. It’s feels safe and comfortable. So that’s where we spent the next two days. Maybe we could handle it differently. But when Aidan gets disappointed like this he needs cuddles and closeness. Maybe he’s not so different from me.

Army Wife No More

mental divorce

I sit here writing the hardest truth I’ve ever had to face. After multiple separations, months of counseling couldn’t change the ultimate truth: My husband of 8 years and I are better off not being married anymore.

Would our marriage have survived if the military hadn’t been a part of it. Had my husband never been injured, would we have still crumbled under the stress? I really can’t answer that except to note that the military’s burdens on my husband were so extensive that I went to most the couples counseling solo. At the end of it all his self destructive tendencies were as out of control as the wildfire raging in southern California.

I can’t be the only spouse who has experienced this nightmare cocktail of PTSD and TBI. I’ve been asked which is worse the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or the TBI (Tramatic Brain Injury)? I honestly feel the TBI is worse in our case. The cycle of good months, then the alcohol starts, then the medicines, then the anger, violence and destruction. The explosion that almost ruins our lives before it all starts again. The roller coaster you just cant get off.

A prime example when I found out I was pregnant with our youngest. Sitting at the breakfast table and my husband asks me what my plan for the day was. I just sat there trying not to let the realization that this was going to be one of the challenging days ruin our appointment to confirm the pregnancy. You see what happens sometimes with his brain injury is he forgets conversations, he has a hard time making new memories that really “stick”. Honestly some days its like his brain just isn’t firing on all cylinders. There have been days my husband while remembering me can not recall my name. That day he called his parents for the first of three times announcing our pregnancy.

He can be unaware or unable to recognize his body’s signs of hunger and thirst. Thinking hes eaten when he hasn’t same for most activities such as bathing. Medications are a big problem, he cant remember to take them correctly yet wont relinquish control. Now imagine this man is also handling the money because it’s HIS income. I’m just the one caring for everyone, keeping CPS at bay, and well, keeping us all afloat.

Do you have any idea how many times a person with cognitive issues can watch a movie without it “sticking”? Having no retaining memory of the movie. There was one movie he ordered from pay-per-view 19 times in one month. No joke. 19 times he rented Real Steel at $7.99 a pop. He still doesn’t believe he’s seen the movie.

He couldn’t be left alone with the kids because he had no concept of consequences. He couldn’t tell when he was safe to drive and honestly he still drove like a bit of trash in the road could be a road side bomb. I didn’t like him driving in general because of it.

Just a few examples of the life that left me exhausted, feeling like life was swallowing me whole. All while praying for glimpses of the man I fell in love with. Half the time he’s not there though, there is a stranger in my husbands body who sometimes gives moments of who I’ve lost. I had become angry at him, myself, the situation and taking it out on everyone else but him. Because at the end of the day it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t anyone’s, it just was.

So I have done the hardest thing in my life. I packed myself, the kids, put most our stuff in storage. I moved home. I am still caring for a grown man but this time it’s my father as his health declines. I am soaking in the stories of family members already gone. I’m learning from my mother ways to parent without anger. My sons are getting to spend the summer with my father before the chance slips away.

Hopefully, this time is helping them as much as it has saved me. I know that this distance is making it easier to co-parent in a way that hopefully wont damage the kids too much. As I write this my husband is doing better than I have seen him in years, maybe because for the first time in 8 years he really has to take care of himself. Just as I do.

I found this quote that rings so true to me, it breaks my heart. “Trauma is survivable but often not much more. It kills you while allowing you to still survive.” ~James Frey

I don’t want to just survive, I want to live. Grow. Thrive.

Confessions of a Filmaholic

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I was 11 years old when I fell in love for the first time. I was mesmerized by clear blue eyes. His gravelly voice reminded me of a film star from one of those old 50’s movies I had watched. He possessed a rugged manly appeal.

With conservative Christian parents my movies were regulated to wholesome family or classic movies with a PG and under rating. So, there I sat in the dark watching a PG-13 movie I had snuck into with my best friend. While I was drinking in the rough character, being sucked further into his thrall with every scene. My best friend is undergoing the same pull for the younger, pretty boy lead. As it so happens that will be a recurring theme to this day. Her falling for the pretty boy, me the tough, manly types.

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I walked out of that theater having met the love of my life. While Rowdy Burns had captured my attention and greatly influenced the type of men I would be attracted to for the rest of my life. My true love was film.

The complexities of the sets, details in costumes design, depth of the characters; for that hour and forty-eight minutes I was a part of Rowdy’s world. By no standards was this an Oscar worthy film or even a particularly good film. Yet, it had the power to close my mind to everything but the movie playing out on that screen. I didn’t worry about the words I had crossed with my father earlier that day, I was blissfully transported outside of my world and problems. It was a feeling I would grow to love, crave, and experience over and over as I drank in every video my 3 local rental stores had.

I was right there with Bastian as he stole the book with the Auryn Symbol. I followed Alice down her rabbit hole. My heart pounded with Indy as he ran from the boulder, and watched as the Goonies band together to save the house. I cheered as Janie and Jeff stood against the entitled rich. Like so many others I sat in shock after Darth Vader pronounced “Luke, I am your father.”

I knew who to call, wanted to save Farris, and saw railroad tracks with the potential of a dead body at the end as an adventure waiting to be had. The triple dog dare could not be backed down from, just as a boombox held up in the air became the most romantic idea ever. We couldn’t stop laughing over stolen Huggies, while “As you wish.” taught us that sometimes what is said means something else completely. Engraved on my heart were the three rules; NO water, NO sunlight, and NEVER feed them after midnight. From action to gut bustin’ comedies, or dramatic love stories. There is literally a movie for every situation and mood. I was bound and determined to see them all.

So, while relationships breakdown at times, friendships can fracture, one thing hasn’t changed, the joy I get from an entertaining movie. I am forever thankful that Rowdy drew me in, so I could discover the power of film, a love that’s never let me down.

 

1AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk Mother’s Guilt

zcamera-20171210_174106.jpgWhy is it that we feel we must justify our time? Is it because we have all grown up hearing the stereo type of stay at home mothers who just watch TV eating chocolate? I can’t help wondering why I feel I must earn my down time? I reason with myself, I have already done blah, blah, blah. Therefore, I can now relax with a movie guilt free. But, like always there is the fine print. If I am earning my down time is it really guilt free? The answer for me is sadly, NO.

Take this morning for example. I’m up at six am to get my five-year-old dressed, through the cold wind and, in the car to meet the bus. We are at the stop by 6:30 am on time, unfortunately, the bus didn’t make it until 7:15 am. With a kiss goodbye to Aidan, I swung by the video store to drop off some movies. Thinking to get some extra sleep crawl back in bed only to have my 13-year-old come down and tell me he had overslept missing his bus. Waiting for him to get dressed I pick up the living room, and start a load in the washer. We make it to the school with 2 minutes and 38 seconds to spare.  On my way home knowing I’m not getting back to sleep I decided a fuzzy blanket, some hot cocoa and this Marilyn Monroe movie I found at the video store last night is just the way to spend this cold morning. It’s called Bus Stop and I’ve never seen it before.

So, I put some milk on the stove and realize it feels a bit grimy. My husband cleaned the stove last night. I take a minute to wipe the stove, and put the few dishes from the sink into the washer and start it. Eventually, I did get my cocoa made but I had realized I was still earning my down time. Fluffy blanket covering me I relax to enjoy Marilyn only to occasionally notice that toy under the edge of the entertainment center, or that the washer had stopped. By the end of the movie which took 3 hours to watch due to my constant pausing. I was very disappointed both in the plot and its ending. (It’s not one I would recommend unless you’re just trying to watch Monroe’s complete filmography.)

During that time, I had swept the living room, done two loads of laundry, accidentally knocking a toy into the lint trap which had caused my husband to have to take apart the back of the dryer to get out. Which took him an hour. I did find my sons missing library book and replaced the ornaments the cat has knocked off the tree. My cocoa was cold… and I really hadn’t relaxed at all.

But why do I feel this almost compulsion to be productive around the house if I am not working. Right now, I am on medical leave I’m four weeks post op from a hysterectomy and I feel guilty if I’m not doing things around the house. No exaggeration as I write this, I’m also thinking the floor needs to be mopped, and I think that’s marker on the edge of that couch! Shaking my head. Where does this imaginary guilt come from, I’ve failed in no way. I’ve done nothing wrong, so why does it feel like I’m not doing my job completely in the home?

I don’t really have any answers to these questions. However, I do believe guilt is a choice. I make a choice to either except my perceived guilt or I don’t. Truth is more times than not; I expect more from myself than anyone else does, I believe I am failing way more than I am, and most my weaknesses generally only exist in my head.  I am flawed, complex and still haven’t got this mom thing down. I have made serious mistakes, I’ve also had wonderful wins.

What is your mommy guilt? What do you do to pamper yourself?

Best Wishes,

K

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A Moment of Clarity

Overwhelmed in every way possible, I was coming off a seventy-two-hour work week between my two jobs. My marriage nothing more than a filing status. An out of control five-year-old, a depressed teen, and a self-described invisible child about to enter his teens. Last year our lives were forever changed by a mistake most parents have made. My husband, in a store, put a helmet on our son Aidan then knocked on the helmet to see if it would protect him. Aidan said he could feel it. My husband put the helmet back and left with my son. Half an hour later the police were at the house to arrest him for injury to a child. It would take almost a year to get the D.A.’s office to turn over the surveillance video. All that time my husband was insistent that he didn’t hurt Aidan he barely hit the helmet.

The police department told me he PUNCHED my son three times in the head. An exaggeration, something highly misleading. They lied to me! Then arrested my husband in front of our kids. We were threatened by CPS that if I let him near the kids they would take them from me. Yet, my husband’s story never changed. Once the judge saw the tape he immediately granted my husband’s lawyers request to drop the charges. We could now pick up the pieces of our lives. 

But, I have realized I am still stuck in survival mode and have forgotten how to live. I went from doing everything with a partner, to alone. Working to not need financial support, not an easy transition for me. The only thing I knew for sure I don’t want back in the partnership. 

Overworking for monthes I now did the unthinkable, I had said no. I put myself first. I had been workin  for a friend at his store and already put in 45 hours that week for him. He asked me to come in on Sunday, a day I never work the store and was a day promised to my second job. He wanted me to come work for him after I finished for the day, and I said no. He gave me sad eyes and it made me feel guilty but I went home.

I put on my pajamas, watched old Saturday Night Live skits with my kids, while working on a puzzle with Aidan. We laughed, a lot. I had forgotten how funny my boys can be. I had missed this, I missed hanging out with them. I had been working so much we had not been connecting as a family anymore. My children were growing, while I was trying to survive and keep us together, I was missing so much. I need to stop working so much, picking up extra hours at the store.

I have a bucket list like so many others, but now the boys and I are adding things to do as a family, and as individual and one on one time. To reconnect. To grow. I don’t want to miss out on my boy’s life and interests.  I plan to fill this blog with things we do, our experiences, our interests. I would love for you to join us on this journey.

 

Best wishes,

K