Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thinking with my fingers

It's funny, I thought 2015 was the worst year on the books. It very well may have been but 2016 feels like a close 2nd. I am optimistic about 2017 until I remember who our president-elect is. 

As much as I want to bitch and complain I realize that I am incredibly blessed. After the past two years I am aware that having all three of my girls breathing and relatively healthy is a blessing and nothing I should ever take for granted.

Last Friday, Ainsley had a grand mal seizure. It was her first and fingers crossed, it will be her last. There is a strong possibility that it was due to a new psych med they were trying for her. Thankfully, prior to the grand mal seizure she had started experiencing petit mal seizures so I had already been in contact with her neurologist and she already has an EEG scheduled. The grand mal seizure happened at a friend's home which is unfortunate because Ainsley may never leave our house again. It was seriously the first time her depression had lifted long enough for her to want to spend time with a friend and outside of our home. Of course, the depression has returned with its friend anger for a lovely combination inside of the mind of a 15 year old girl.

Saturday evening Merkin, her friend Mallorie, and dog Olive were stranded west of nowhere in a snow storm. I called the insurance company to get them towed out. An hour later I called back to ask when they'll arrive because the battery had died, there were no lights, and it was now pitch black outside. The insurance agent said "Oh, there's a an 8 hour wait. You should call the local 911 to get them out." Thankfully, Joel left to meet them while I was on the phone with insurance the first time. I called our local 911, they gave me the number for the Walsenberg PD. Walsenberg PD gave me the number for the Highway Patrol. The Highway Patrol said they were covering accidents and didn't have time to rescue stranded motorists. As Merkin and Mallorie's phones were dying and their butts were freezing a kind Samaritan rescued them and gave them a lift to Walsenberg. Joel found them warming up at Loaf and Jug. Thankfully, they arrived home by midnight and were safe and sound.

The dogs tearing up the kitchen, eating a bag of chocolate chips and a plate of chocolate chip cookies was simply delightful. Discovering our plumbing was backed up added to the pleasure of the weekend. But our weekend was celebrated with everyone, including 3 dogs, being mostly healthy, sharing in some laughter and tears.

Yesterday Merkin and Joel went to retrieve her car which she had just sunk $1000 a week before so it would be ready for the 6 hour drive home. Did I mention she also experienced her first major heartbreak during finals? The shop said the car was fine and it would only cost $160 for them to pick it up. Alas, as they got near Pueblo the car died again. Turns out the guys in the first shop weren't the brightest bulbs. She had blown a gasket going over La Veta pass but they didn't notice that. For another $60 they discovered that her car is kaput. Today, Joel and Merkin will make a shorter drive to retrieve the car again. 

Tonight we will celebrate with friends, including 3 of the cutest children on the face of the planet (not mine, little ones). There will be laughter, there will be joy, and life will go on.

My girls are home and relatively healthy. For that I am thankful. Joel and I will have been married 20 years in 2017. We have survived post-partum depression, adult depression, seminary, crazy family issues, major job losses, 4 years of rural ministry in the most conservative land I've ever lived, our eldest being bullied by a teacher/coach and football team, packing up our lives and moving to Colorado without jobs and moving in with our parents, getting back on our feet, leaving the UMC, joining the UCC, starting the ordination process all over again, having two out of three girls become cutters and have suicide attempts and multiple hospitalizations, and we have survived this past weekend. Things that could have easily torn us apart drew us closer together. We are stronger and closer than I ever knew a married couple could be. When I got married to Joel I didn't believe that married couples were ever really faithful. I didn't know what a healthy relationship could be. I do now. I know that couples can not only be faithful but they can still be twitterpatedly in-love. 

Yes, the past few years have been difficult beyond anything I ever want to go through again. I'm still scared for the mental health of my girls, I'm still scared that Ainsley will give up the fight against depression and anxiety. I'm still concerned that Valerie may be living at home without a job or in school due to her depression and anxiety. I still find it hard to say and acknowledge that my spectacularly successful Merkin has bipolar because it scares me that all three of my girls have significant mental health issues. And yet, here we are, alive and experiencing joy in the midst of life that can be hard.

Drumpf may be our president elect but I know of at least 3 powerful young women who despite their challenges with mental health unabashedly stand for the rights of others, work towards equality and justice. I have 3 warrior women and know there are many others who will not go silently. I know a strong man who works with children doing all he can to teach them more than writing and arithmetic so they too will have courage to face whatever comes their way. I too am a warrior woman prepared to fight for justice and equality. 

2016 may have some more challenges for our family but we despite everything, are strong enough to face them. We are certainly strong enough to see what 2017 will bring.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

They're back

I woke up afraid this morning. Afraid of going back to therapy. Thankfully I have therapy on Thursday so I can discuss this with Cynthia.

My nightmares are back. Nightmares that either I had as a child and in my early 20s or for whatever reason in the midst of the nightmare I believe it's a nightmare I've had before.

I've been doing EMDR in therapy and I love it. I believe it has been one of the most helpful forms of therapy I've experienced. Yet, there have been a few times in which my brain/imagination has simply gone black and then we've stopped for the day and returned later.

It feels as though there is this darkness that I am afraid to face and it is leaking out in my nightmares. 

It was disappointing to wake afraid and worried after an amazing morning with my mentor yesterday. I had obtained some clarity about my call and the process. I was excited to sit down and write and blog about it but I had to go to work (the bummer about employment is you can't just do whatever you want whenever you want).

Perhaps, the nightmare was simply a backlash of fear. I'm moving forward and it feels affirming and wonderful, perhaps that beast of self-sabotage took one last swipe to see if he still has any power. 

No, no you don't. I'm taking my power back. You aren't going to scare me. I've got Cynthia to help me sort this out and I have a mass of supports to help me in the ministry process. Bring on the nightmares and I will dismantle them and grow from them. I'm not going back into the dark.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Picture Perfect

This morning my mind raced with ideas about what to do with our weekend: getting the house cleaned up, decorating for Christmas, making Christmas candies and cookies, having friends over to play some games, or maybe inviting our parents over to play Hand and Foot (an outrageous card game that is lots of fun), shopping for Christmas presents, or perhaps having a date night with Joel. Surely, there's enough time for all of that right?

Joel has been under an immense amount of stress due to his own procrastination with his classes. But after midnight tonight (his deadline for the last paper) he will be free! At least until the next class starts. I too have been stressed and working too much. Last weekend I worked both Saturday and Sunday, this is my first weekend in several weeks that I won't have to work!  Hurrah! So it's no surprise that I want to cram everything in while I have time.

Earlier in the week I thought my weekend would mean laying in bed feeling miserable so I started overloading on Vitamin C, doing nasal rinses, using Raven in my diffuser to help me breath and guess what? It worked!  I'm still a little stuffy but I'm not concerned about wasting my weekend in bed.

I am concerned that I won't be productive and have a little fun at the same time. As my mind was racing this morning, I pictured a clean kitchen with my girls laughing and having fun while we make chocolate peanut butter balls, Christmas music playing in the background (Weezer's Christmas of course), and then friends coming over with their kiddos and lots of laughter and good times, like a Hallmark Christmas movie where all is good and everyone is happy. That's how my plans always look in my mind.

As I've been pondering success and what that looks like, I feel like this double edged sword. As I seek success, it also brings to mind all the ways I have failed. For example, this weekend will not include family and friends coming over to eat homemade cookies and candies. My girls are both sick, I may have warded off whatever they have but they aren't willing to do the nasal rinses ("Gross!) that I swear by and they both are suffering from depression. For now, that Hallmark picture isn't part of my reality. I will have a clean kitchen come hell or high water!

I'm the person always telling people that perfection is overrated. That getting back up when we fall down is what matters. Or perhaps I'm just trying to convince myself.

My life has never been picture perfect. I've had lots of great ups and downs. I've laughed and loved in the midst of muck and mud, I don't think I'd want it any other way. And yet, each time a holiday or party or school year comes around, something picture perfect comes into my head and I strive to get there. Sometimes I have a breakdown because it's not picture perfect and other times I laugh and find the joy in that moment. I guess it's good to realize the only thing that even the picture never comes out quite perfect, our imaginations fill it in.

Here's to a weekend filled with imperfections, depressed kids who have a little bit of laughter, and that I get my clean kitchen!  May we find joy in the mess!