Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Two Months Later...

So life in our house changed... We knew it would. We never knew when. It isn't something we could  prepare for, even though we lived with the reality that it was going to happen everyday.  I guess you do prepare for things to happen, somewhat, but grief is not something you can prepare yourself for. You have no idea how it will affect you, until it happens. I know because I tried. Todd was diagnosed with Cirrhosis of the liver about 6 months after he quit drinking. He was an alcoholic, he also had HepC.  He had gotten a lot of tattoos and not always in the cleanest places, he did a lot of drugs in his teens and early twenties.  He had an addictive personality. It all caught up to him when he was 40, 7 years ago. He was too young to have this diagnosis. He went between giving up, and getting mad at doctors who he thought should be able to magically cure him.  I should mention he also had diabetes. With that came wounds on his feet and ankles, that never healed, but gradually got worse over a period of about 6 years.  In January, of this year, he was facing amputation...both legs.  He had constant infections in those wounds, usually two weeks on antibiotics, one without...maybe more if he was lucky, and then another two weeks of antibiotics...repeatedly for months, maybe a couple of years. Time just started running together, when his health started getting really bad.

Two and a half months ago...the beginning of March, I took Todd to the emergency room. He looked like he had gained a ton of weight. His belly was filled with fluid, this was something new for him. He had swelling in his legs all the time, but never in his belly. It turned out to be 60 pounds of fluid.  The doctor in the ER sent him home with a prescription to help, and orders to call his GI doctor in the morning.  He didn't have a fever...there was no reason for him to assume that there was an infection. I called his GI doctor...they felt it was ok to schedule an appointment in 3 weeks.  Not even a week later, my oldest son was calling me at work, and I was speeding home. He was taken to the hospital by ambulance...and somehow I knew he wasn't coming home.  Those damn gut feelings can suck. He ended up being septic, infection all through his bloodstream...never had a fever. The infection started in the fluid in his belly. He also had pneumonia.  They put him in the ICU... and I struggled with the decision to call his family. They had barely been there for him at all in those 7 years, but I really couldn't have lived with the decision to not call them.   I had to call his sister using my sons phone, because my number was blocked.  Awesome....I know. They visited, and I made sure I wasn't there during those times.  He was doing ok after two days, so they moved him out of the ICU.  He was talking and being his demanding self, but not altogether there.   "Sorry," I told the nurse, "I forgot to warn you, he isn't a very good patient." He ended up with a feeding tube, Constantly on high amounts of oxygen, and had his ice chips taken away after two days as the pneumonia got worse. They were concerned he would aspirate...and he did. He was less like himself the next day. The day after that, he couldn't talk, and I could only get him to focus on me for very short amounts of time. That's the day doctors started asking me what his wishes were.  Sure they could keep him alive, with feeding tubes and oxygen, hooked up to monitors, in a long term facility.  He'd be there the rest of his life. Is that something he wanted? No...and I still agonized over this, and I would hold myself together until the next person walked in the room to have this talk with me. And they would go through it all again. His quality of life was extremely low. I really don't remember how many people I talked to, I remember being numb.  I do remember the last person that came in before I made that final decision, one of the GI doctors... he informed me that they found a fairly large blood clot in his liver that showed up on his ultrasound. They were going to have to figure out the best way to take care of it, there was no good way.  There were major risks, with either procedure they could try. And I looked at him and said, "We're not going to worry about it." and he simply said, "In my opinion, I think you're making the best choice." and he walked out. Lots of crying and more talking to doctors and nurses later... Hospice was called in.  Worst day of my life...hands down, but I also knew that I made the choice according to what he would have wanted. Then of course I had to go home explain all this to our kids, bring them to the hospital to say goodbye and let them have time with their dad by themselves, before his family got there and I had to deal with them.  And this is where things change...not with Todd...with his family.  I honestly didn't care if his family decided to come in and fight me on this decision.  I knew there was a real chance it could happen.  I was more concerned about our kids and their feelings, and how much they were hurting.

Todd's family came to the hospital, it was the first time I'd seen any of them in maybe 4 years,and the first thing that his dad did, was give me a hug.  This was how it used to be years ago, before Todd got sick, before I became their least favorite person. And I took a deep breath and I knew it was ok. I knew they were feeling the same way. His dad would have made the same decision, had it been his decision to make. For those 2 extremely long days, there were a lot of hours that we were all there at the same time, and I sat with his family in the room and we talked, and it was good. At one point his dad said.."I know it hasn't been easy for you over the last few years." and I just kind of looked at him and shook my head and said, "No, it really hasn't been." And he apologized...and they thanked me for calling them and letting them be there, because they knew I really didn't have to. I'm not going to lie it was a bizarre moment.  I wasn't really expecting it.  Todd passed away two days after hospice came in. One week after being admitted.

I had a few people ask me if I had said to Todd that I had forgiven him before he passed.  No...because I hadn't. And there were plenty of things I needed to be forgiven for also.   I wasn't going to lie, just because it's something that people think needs to be done.  It doesn't...If you haven't truly forgiven someone they're going to know, if not at that moment then after they've passed. And how does that help either person?  It doesn't. Just my opinion. Instead, I held his hand for hours, as I sat there in silence. I'm not really a talker. He knew I was there, that's all that mattered. About an hour and a half, before he passed away, I felt like I needed to go home to check on our kids and see how they were doing. His family had just gone down to the cafeteria, and it just felt like the right time to go. Before I left, I took his hand, and talked to him for a minute, and told him, I was going home to see the kids, that we were all going to be ok, and it was alright for him to go. I like to think that he actually listened to me for the first time ever in our marriage.  He died about an hour after I left and about two minutes (literally, because the nurse had just been in there), before his family walked back into the room. I'm glad that's how it happened, peacefully, no noise. After Todd died, it's hard to explain the way I felt. I have a hard time finding the right words. Peace, free, like a giant weight was not only lifted off my shoulders, but off of our entire house.  The heaviness of all the stress, and pain and everything that we had all been dealing with....was gone. And it was just...peaceful. Our kids are amazing. Of course they are sad at times.  They miss their dad for sure.  But, they dealt with all of this for a huge portion of their lives, and it wasn't easy for any of us. We knew how much pain he was constantly in, how much he struggled from day to day especially over the last few months.  They know he's not in pain anymore, and they know that he comes and checks on them. (You can think I'm crazy...don't care). They still get whiffs of his cigarette smoke. His bandages on his feet used to smell awful especially if he had an infection. It's not a smell you forget. They've smelled that too at just odd times for short moments.  And if he has the chance to make up for the past by letting them know, in subtle ways, that he's watching over them, it's a good thing. And I know it's a comfort to them.

Me... I was sure I wouldn't really grieve.  I'd been grieving the loss of our marriage...of him giving up..of me not feeling like I was good enough for years.  I was good. I was ok...not happy, but ok. Then a month passed, and this sadness came over me.  There were other things I was dealing with in my life and I thought I was maybe just overwhelmed.  But, it increased,  and increased until 3 weeks ago. I didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't go to work for two nights. I just kind of...stayed in my room.  The third night I decided there was no way I could miss another night of work...I couldn't. So, I made myself get up and shower and get ready.  And I sat on the side of my bed watching the clock. When it got to the very last minute I could leave so I could still get there in time, I stood up...and in that moment, I felt like I was being slammed against a wall with grief.  Thank goodness I was the only one home...because I sat back down, and let everything go. I cried for an hour...like the can't catch your breath, ugly cry sobbing... for an hour, and then I got in my car, went for a drive, watched the sunset, and let the tears fall some more...a lot less violently. Didn't make it to work...didn't care. I needed those hours to let myself feel those things I was denying myself. And...going back to the whole forgiveness thing... after I allowed myself to have those feelings.  I realized none of it mattered anymore.  The past is truly in the past.  Sure I still have issues that I'm working through...and actually doing very well with, but....the pain is gone. I can say I forgive him and I mean it, and I know he knows that. And I know he's forgiven me. And I think that's why our house felt so peaceful almost immediately.  Because none of it mattered anymore. We had a tough marriage, with a lot of not great memories, but I've learned that I'm stronger than I ever thought I could be. I've learned so many things about myself. I'm more independent, and I know I can handle most of what gets thrown at me. I learned that answers don't come when you want them to, they sometimes come at the times when you least expect them. Life is hard, for everyone.  We all have trials, none of which we can compare to what someone else is going through. Because everyone at some point in their lives is going to experience something that knocks the wind out of them, knocks them on their ass, makes them feel like they're not going to make it through, and hurts so deeply that there are not always words to express how they feel. Most of all I've learned to keep moving, no matter what, because this is when we learn, and when we grow. Let yourself feel every emotion, keep moving forward, and stop looking back. The past is behind us, there is nothing that can be done now to change it. So, 2 months later..2 months and 6 days...I take a deep breath, and move forward, because life continues to happen, and moving on...for me...feels right.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Don't Need a Band Aid Everytime I Fall Down

As an adult, have you ever tripped on a curb, maybe stumbled, perhaps fallen, possibly hurting yourself...or not?  Of course you have. This happens to everyone. Some more than others. It happens to me all the time, because I happen to be a klutz. It's a little embarrassing.  Even more so if someone else happens to witness it. And maybe you walk a little faster to get away from the spot it happened before looking to see if anyone witnessed it.  For me personally it's even more humiliating if someone sees and asks, "Are you OK?" Yep....yea I'm good, just tripped on that very dangerous looking piece of paper.  It's a talent...believe me. I've learned over the years to laugh at myself. I mean, being the kind of person that can manage to park in the most ice covered spot in a parking lot, and while wearing shoes that are not so ice friendly, slip as I hastily step out of my car, causing me to desperately grab hold of my door as I slide under the car...and then having to crawl....yes crawl to a non slippery spot before I can stand...Thanking God over and over that it happened at night, and as far as I know nobody saw it happen - hopefully... I have to laugh.  Did it hurt? Yes it did. I really would have liked to just sit there and cry for a minute, but I got up, because I was going to be late for work...and it was cold, and I really just wanted to forget that it happened.  Of course my sore body the next day, reminded me that it happened. Do I laugh about it now? Sure I do. The visual is pretty damn funny.  I wouldn't want to see it on YouTube, but in my head it's hilarious. Did I learn something? Yea...I need to wear better shoes in the winter, and not get out of my car so quickly when I'm parked on ice. Then there are the times when I can't get up on my own, and I need help.  I slipped down my stairs one time (I'm kind of famous for this too....talent)...hurt my ankle really bad.  I sat at the bottom of the stairs sobbing while my kids just stared at me...because they weren't sure what to do. Mom is the one that fixes everything, she doesn't get hurt.  So they helped me to my room, got me some ice....and I called my mom, because when I truly need help...I ask for help.

I grew up in the Mormon religion, which is very service oriented. Not a bad thing at all. I grew up learning to help others, and watching my parents help others...and I love when I can do things for people and make them smile. And maybe it doesn't change their situation, but maybe it helped for just that moment. And if someone truly needs a helping hand, there should always be someone there to help them up.  I don't actually go to church anymore, and haven't for years....I have my own reasons.  I've had a hard time adjusting to living in Utah. Not that it's a bad place and I have nothing against church.  But, I moved from a place that was more diverse in religion to a place where I live in the same few blocks with every person I would attend church with, and see everyday, at my children's school and at the grocery store...and...I feel like sometimes I have no privacy. I feel like sometimes everybody knows everything, even if they don't actually know me. It can be almost suffocating.  I know I kind of sound like a jerk, but I'm a very private person with trust issues.  Because lets be honest when you get a group of women who all attend the same church and live in the same neighborhood...there is gossip...a lot of gossip. (And no I'm not saying every woman gossips) Sometimes I don't know who to trust, and I've learned over the years to only say what I don't care gets spread around the neighborhood.  I'm just being honest. I'm kind of known as a stubborn person. Probably because 99% of the time when someone asks if I need help with anything, I say no. I'm not necessarily saying no because I'm stubborn...I'm saying no because I'm not a person that is going to accept help if I truly don't need it, and 99% of the time...I really don't.  I've had people in the past say to me, "Angie...don't deny people blessings, by not allowing them to help you?" I'm sorry but what kind of messed up guilt trip is that?  I'm not going through what I'm going through, for other people to receive blessings.  Let's get that straight.  The people who have said this to me, lose a little respect in my book.  Don't go there.  Please...don't guilt me into thinking I need your help, when I'm doing perfectly fine. It also makes me extremely uncomfortable and irritated when people ask me about things that I haven't put out there into the world. I know I have children and they say things to their friends and it kind of goes from there.  It usually comes back to me a little exaggerated and not always accurate.  Recently the Bishop of our church contacted me about a couple of things going on and he said.. I heard...(sorry still not putting it out there)...is there anything we can do to help you deal with this better.  I honestly just stared at this message and thought, "What the heck?!" I didn't realize I was having a problem dealing with what's going on, because I'm not, and he was a little off on his information.  So I messaged him back, giving him the right information...even though I was a little irritated that he even knew anything and said, "I'm really just busy with work this month...we're doing fine."  I guess I just believe if you hear information from a third person, before asking if I need help, ask me if the information heard was even correct. And be prepared for me to say something like...Gosh word really gets around doesn't it?  We ended up having a good conversation, and he understood exactly what I was saying. I think there is a big misconception in the culture here that if something happens to someone that someone else immediately needs to step in and find out what's going on and try and help.  This isn't always true. Not every situation is a "What can we do to help" situation.  Everyone has different ways they deal with things. Me personally....I don't need help every time something happens in my life. Some people do...and that's fine, I'm not judging anyone for that.  I just happen to have a high threshold of "things I can handle".  I've worked my entire marriage. I never used daycare...never asked my family to watch my kids so I could work.  I worked opposite shifts from my husband - when he worked. I still took care of our kids all day, even after working all night.  When I started working nights, my youngest was only 1.  There were more than a few days that I only got an hour of sleep, before going back to work for the night. Yet I've managed to survive, funny how that works.  I had years of dealing with an alcoholic husband, and working a late enough shift at night so I could make sure everyone had dinner, homework was done, and all in bed before I left. Do you know what that's like? Years of silent prayers as I drove to work - "Please.....watch over my family tonight." I learned to survive and deal with a lot a long time ago.  Those were the hard years.  People need to understand that what I'm going through now, well it's hard, but routine.  Everyday is the same...and different. I've learned to adjust to things faster...easier.  Things happen everyday here sometimes. Do I still completely lose it and breakdown and wish I could run away from home? I absolutely do.  So I have a good cry, take a long drive in the car, pull my big girl pants up and keep on moving.  I'm just able to deal with things differently than you...and the person sitting next to you....and the person sitting next to them, because we are all different, and we all have different ways of handling life and what it throws at us. You may not understand how I'm getting through all this, but there are people I look at in complete awe, who are fighting battles that would floor me.  I am amazed at their strength and courage, and I don't always understand how they are managing to deal with it all.  We all have different battles.  We all have different trials, because we all have different ways we need to learn and grow.

I don't ever want to come across as ungrateful, and having someone imply that this week has really bothered me.  I'm actually beyond thankful for every bit of help I've received over the years.  Most recently I had two men from church come haul a bunch of stuff to the dump for me...two trips...two different days.  It took more time for them to drive it all out there and get rid of it than it did to load it in the back of the truck.  But that was a big deal for me. It was something I couldn't do on my own. Meals that were brought over, when Todd was in the hospital for 6 weeks and I spent more time running back and forth than I was ever home.  Tree limbs that were too big for me to trim....fences that have been fixed after wind storms. I could keep going. There are absolutely things I know I can't do myself. There are definitely times I need help. I may be a little stubborn about it, but I'm still going to ask or accept it if it's offered.  When my kids were little and they would fall down, I would wait for a second to see how serious it was, based on what they did next. Sometimes they bounced right back up, continued on like nothing happened.  Sometimes they would wait for a beat and I could tell it probably hurt a little, and I would ask if they were OK....actually I would say something like, are you going to live? and they would get up and keep going.  Sometimes there were tears...and I would give them a hug and and we would check the spot where they got hurt and kiss it better and all was right with the world again.. And then sometimes there were lots of tears, and blood and band aids needed and on a couple of occasions stitches or a cast.  And lots of hugs and extra kisses and extra time spent making sure everything was alright.  This is how I deal with what happens in my life.  If you think I'm having an extra bad day and you bring me a diet coke...I will never refuse. I mean who doesn't like knowing that someone is thinking of them.  If something major happens that I physically can't handle on my own....I will absolutely accept any and all help with a great deal of thanks and gratitude.  The everyday stuff....I've got that covered.  Like I said everyone deals with things differently. I don't need help every time I trip on a curb...or nothing at all (it happens...whatever), and I don't need a band aid every time I fall down.  Ask me how I'm doing once in awhile, I'll tell you if you really want to know. Be my friend, that's all I really need....well that and maybe one of these years a vacation ;o)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Living in the Present

"When looking back doesn't interest you anymore, you're doing something right."


I posted this quote on my Fb page, but only after I read it, stared out the window, and thought about it for a few minutes. I realized, I've finally made it here. I certainly didn't wake up one day and say, I'm only moving forward, I'm not looking back anymore, I've forgiven the past and I'm done. HA! I wish it was that easy. I wish there weren't things from the past, that come out of nowhere and still manage to hurt me, although not so much anymore. It's taken years of pain and what I thought was forgiveness, only to realize I was nowhere near wanting to forgive, finding balance, only to have it thrown out of whack. Patience and tears, arguments, frustration, love, hate, acceptance and happiness. Most importantly finally being able to leave those moments in the past where they belong.  

So one day after being encouraged to explore another way to try and be creative, I sat down and I let these words just flow. It was like they truly jut needed to come out.  I needed to write them down and look at them and feel and understand them.  

She sits in the dark, at the top of the stairs
Uncontrollable sobs, tears that won't stop
She's tired
This is not the life she wanted, but the life she chose 
Her stubborn pride keeps her here
Her pain and secrets are hers alone 
Rocking back and forth, staring at the ceiling, she pleads for help
Feeling defeated, broken, afraid
Wondering if she still loves him
Did she ever?
Most days she hides behind a smile
Can anyone see that it doesn't quite reach her eyes?
Do they care? 
She doesn't understand that this moment is one of many that will not break her completely 
It is one that will help her become her future self
She won't see that for years
Right now...she is tired
She sits in the dark, at the top of the stairs 
No more tears, she's done crying tonight
She sits in silence, not thinking just listening 
She hears only the quiet of the night, before picking herself up
And starting again.

This isn't just a representation of how I felt many times over the years, but also an actual moment in my life. I wrote this and then sat and cried, because every feeling I had on that night, came crashing over me. Alone, scared, angry, no one to talk to, because I couldn't admit...wouldn't admit what I was going through. Every feeling I had that night, came from years of hiding...everything. Psychological/ emotional abuse is easy to hide, if you know how to smile right. 

This is also where I know I've turned a massive corner. I needed to confront that night. I needed to face all the ugliness of the past and stop calling myself stupid for the decisions I made. Yes, my life could have gone in a completely different direction, if I had just made other choices, but I didn't, and living in the past doesn't work for me anymore. Saying "if only" and "if I just would have" ...doesn't work for me anymore. I am fully in the present, doing what I need to do to have a healthy future. My kids love their dad...and so they should. The memories they form now are important. Letting them have this time is important. Life is different, it's by no means easier, but, it's different.  And even though I have frustrating days, as a caregiver, I'm actually doing really well.  My scars are part of my past, they are part of me. I am who I am because of everything I've been through. And every moment I have that puts a genuine smile on my face, heals those scars a little more. I had a lot of days, months possibly years, where I don't really remember laughing or really genuinely smiling. Maybe I did, I just have no specific memories, other than loving my kids and doing my best to raise them. So to say I'm happy now, to say I have no interest in looking back is a pretty big thing. A really...good...thing. :o)

Friday, May 8, 2015

You Don't Really Know Me.....Do You...

I know it's been awhile but I've had a lot going through my head lately.  So... This post hit me as I was sitting in my car, having a discussion with Todd.  He wanted to stop at the garden center on the way home from his appointment. I told him I would drop him off, because I didn't have two hours, (average Todd time) to just sit in my car waiting for him. He asked why I couldn't just come in and look around.   And this is where I look at him with an "Are you serious?" look on my face.  Even if I'm at a place I love, like the garden center, if I haven't planned to go, don't have the money, any number of reasons... I can't do it. If it's my time by myself, that's one thing. If I can't walk out that door when I want to that's something entirely different. It is stressful and draining...and I can't do it. It's hard to explain... I understand that, but still I asked him, "How is it possible that we've been married for 17 years, and you still don't get it, you still don't know this about me?"  Then I started thinking about a few conversations I've had this week.  Mother's Day is this Sunday. Every year, and I'm serious, every...year, we have the same conversation. "What would you like us to do for you this year?"  Do whatever you want as long as I A. don't have to go anywhere when I wake up, B. don't have to do any dishes and C. can just stay in bed most of the day. Please... Just let me relax and be lazy. "How about we take you out to breakfast?" I'm sorry did you happen to hear anything I just said? Something about me not wanting to go anywhere? Every year people...I'm not kidding you...and 3 times in the last week. I would like my children to bring me breakfast in bed...period. That's all I'm asking for. A quiet, relaxing, lazy day with my kids or by myself. That's it, perfect day.

Now we've had plenty of arguments where I've told him he doesn't know me, as I storm out of the room or house or whatever, but this is a valid question.  We've been married 17 years, and I'm not sure he could tell you anything about my life before we met.  He's never asked. We've rarely had those kind of conversations. Funny enough I realized that, last night, talking to someone I know.  How do I even make this marriage work when I only find things out about my  husbands life/childhood when he's drunk and telling me how much he hates his dad and his family.  And we never really talk about anything at all, because by the time we are alone he's already been drinking. How do I make this marriage work when I feel like I don't even matter to him? The first and last time we went to Las Vegas together, where I was born and lived for a few years, he wouldn't even give me two hours to drive around and find the houses I lived in.  Two hours was all I wanted during the 3 days we were there....for him...to see a big monster truck show.  When we were in New Jersey for a family reunion, I barely got him to drive around my hometown, where I feel like my whole life happened, in the few years I lived there. He didn't care about the schools I went to, the Linwood Market that was just a corner store that my friends and I went to all the time, the bike path I'd ridden on a million times, the swings at the park where I sat with my best friend, my home where I grew up.  None of it mattered. If he loves me, why doesn't my life matter? How do you make a marriage work, when you feel like you are nothing to the other person? Well you don't. How can he possibly love me, when he didn't even try to know me? When all he knows is what he wants me to be, but not who I actually am. Crazy isn't it? I'm sure it's fairly common.  Well, if you don't want to listen to me talk about my life before we met, then chances are you're not caring what I say on a daily basis, so you're not growing and learning with me and then we find we're together because....? I don't know about your marriage but this is mine and it makes for an incredibly unhappy one.

Maybe it's my own fault. I thought as long as someone told me they loved me, that was all I needed. We didn't really need to communicate because I was busy raising our children? I have kids to take care of...that's enough right? No... That's not enough.  I needed him to show me he cared about me. To make me feel like I was the most important person in his world. I don't think that's too much to ask, because I would have done the same for him. Well, we live and sometimes we learn. I can tell you in the last few years I've learned a lot about myself and life in general. I'm moving forward with my life. Doing things for myself, getting to a place mentally where I'm good.  I'm limited to what I can do, but that doesn't mean I'm completely stuck.  I'm still going to take care of him. It's ok if you think I'm completely nuts. I'm happier right now, than I've been in a very long time. That probably only makes sense to me, and I'm fine with that. I know I have people in my life who love me for me, who let me live my life whether they agree with me or not, without judgement and without trying to change who I am, and that's really all that matters.  And maybe one day he'll understand I could have been so much more, if he just would have accepted me for me, listened and gotten to know me.  Then again...maybe he won't and that's fine too.  



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Last Post...... For Now...

After my last post I decided I was done.  I reached my absolute limit, hit rock bottom with this damn disease.  It got too hard and I lost it.  I've learned a few things over the last few years of writing down my thoughts.  When I write about being strong and centered and being positive I have a lot of support.  Go me I'm invincible.  When I'm having a hard time I get a little less support, maybe because people know I like to be left alone.  Just because I want to be left alone during these times doesn't mean I want to feel alone.  I need to be left alone because that's how I deal....how I make sense of things. I need quiet, I need to be alone with my thoughts.  I write it all down as a way to get it out of my head, I go for a drive, take pictures, listen to music, I sit in a quiet place. I need to get them out of my head so I'm not holding it all in.  When I hold it all in then we go to the next level... I explode....and then I come across as bat shit crazy.  And everyone takes two giant steps back away from me, and that's about the worst feeling in the world, because then I am alone. And then I go back to putting on a fake smile because I realize nobody wants to know when I'm having a hard time.  No I'm fine....really...it's all good.  There is no easy fix to this situation....that I can promise you.  I have gone through every option in my head over and over again. And the one thing I come back to is this.... I have four kids and their father whom they love has a horrible disease that is slowly taking his life away.  I don't love this man anymore, I haven't for a long time.  That doesn't mean I get to be selfish.  It means I need to learn how to have a little more compassion and I need to stop being so angry.  We had a cat that we adopted a couple of years ago.  We have no idea how old he actually was. My 17yr old son bonded with him instantly.  When we brought him home he didn't run and hide like cats normally do in a new place, he walked around like he always belonged in our home. Followed my son and also my daughter everywhere. He was always with one of them.  All they had to do was call his name.  Three days ago he died... No idea why. I had to deal with three very sad kids all crying over their favorite cat. Having to watch a 17 year old boy so unbelievably upset and knowing there was nothing I could do but leave him alone ( because he is so much like me) was just about the most heartbreaking thing I've had to experience.   I could easily divorce Todd at this point...call up his dad and say come and get him, he is no longer my problem anymore.  Trust me when I say I would love to do this and if it was just my feelings that I have to think about, it would have been done long ago.   I have four kids, this affects them all differently.  It is hard on all of us. It is trying. It pushes us all to our very limits. My kids, even though they know their dad is going to die,  have no idea what emotions they are going to experience when it happens.  I do....I was 17 when my dad died.  And it doesn't matter the reason, if it's sudden or drawn out because of a chronic illness.  They will experience every stage of grief in the order that it hits them for as long as it takes....and so will I.  Maybe I already am.  I also know this.... I haven't been doing a very good job at keeping the peace.  I've let my anger dictate how I react to situations. This is wrong on every level. I'm not going to fall in love with him again.  Those feelings just aren't there. But I do need to start thinking about everyone else and I need to stop letting the past dictate the present.  Yes...Todd is/was an alcoholic/addict.  He's made a lot of mistakes.....well haven't  we all? I'm not excusing his behavior I still have a little way to go before I can forgive him. But, something has to change....and honestly it needs to start with me.  This year has been a trying one. It hasn't been all bad. I've had some really great things happen...things that have made me unbelievably happy.  Things are hard...they are going to get harder.  I'm looking into what I can do as far as care for Todd...I'm not going to get help from his family, but I am going to see what insurance will cover, because I need help.  I can't do this by myself anymore.  So saying goodbye to 2014...overall it was alright....looking forward to 2015 and more learning, and growing. Taking some chances, trusting, and giving myself a break.  And my blog.... I won't delete it for now, but I am going to take a break for a few months.  Happy New Year.. :o)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm Only Writing a Blog Post Because I'm Avoiding Christmas Shopping

I need a time out.  Yesterday I had a less than flattering moment. I'm tired.  I'm hating Christmas this year.  I don't want to listen to Christmas music at all.  If I didn't have children and one specifically that this year is more aware of and excited about Santa Claus than he's ever been....I wouldn't even bother ... Seriously. I'm sick of the commercials that I've seen a million times since October and the decorations that have been in stores since September.  What the effing Hell is up with that by the way?  And here we are 9 days until Christmas and I haven't even begun shopping yet. Shopping gives me anxiety... Christmas shopping can push me over the edge... Having to Christmas shop with Todd pushes me to mental breakdown status and a possible admit to the psych ward.  Everyday....and I'm not exaggerating he wants me to take him shopping.  The problem.... Because I could easily drop him off somewhere.... He really needs to have someone with him.  As much as he shouldn't be on his feet because of how unsteady he is, he doesn't want to be in a wheel chair.  He's worn all of us out.  The kids can't handle hours of shopping.  They hate it.  I hate it.  His feet and legs can't handle it.  He doesn't pay attention to his body's limitations.  He spent 4 1/2  hours at Walmart looking for a birthday present for our son who turned 17 a few days ago and bought one thing...for himself.  He's always been this way.  The thing is, he has less and less hours in the day that he really has any kind of energy to function.  And once he gets past a certain point he has no idea what he is doing, and we hit the wander around the house looking through closets for nothing in particular at all hours of the day and night, turning on lights when I'm trying to sleep, pouring giant bowls of cereal and leaving them on the table, or spilling them all over the floor, falling asleep in the garage for hours on end lighting cigarette after cigarette... burning holes in his clothes, spilling drinks everywhere....food everywhere....phase of this damn disease.  He doesn't listen when I tell him he's too tired to go outside to smoke, that he just needs to lay down and rest. "I'm fine Angie...leave me alone."  Fine go ahead.   When I had just finished showering yesterday and my daughter started pounding on my bedroom door crying because she went out to the garage and couldn't get her dad to stay awake for 2 seconds I kind of lost it.  He is hurting every person in this house.  We dealt with the alcoholism for years and now we have to put up with this shit?  It's not fair!  I realize I should have more compassion.... I'm sorry, I don't.  I don't like him very much right now and quite honestly I would love to be able to move on with my life. I'm so sick of this.  Sick of him telling me I tricked him into selling his van so he has nothing drive.  Sick of him not understanding what is going on with his body.  Sick of missing work because of these stupid phases we go through.  Sick of having to take care of.....everything.  After I finally got him to sleep for a few hours, we had a talk.  And because he remembered nothing about earlier in the day I had to go over it all again.....including the part where I told him I was packing his bags and calling his dad (a man I have sworn to never speak to again) and telling him to come and pick him up because I can't do this anymore.  And I looked at him and said.... "Do you even understand how hard this is for us?"  Force him to quit smoking? Sop buying him cigarettes?  Anybody want to volunteer to stay with him while he has temper tantrums? Because I sure as hell don't.  Been there done that... No thank you.  I can say for sure at some point if insurance covers it, he will end up in a care facility, if it doesn't, I don't know what the Hell I'm going to do.  And having said all of that...yes I'm aware he is the one with the disease.  He is the one dying. How do you care about and have compassion for someone who acts like an ass? I'd really like to know, because I've tried, I really have....and I'm failing miserably.  The kids will have Christmas, I already know what I'm buying...mostly. I am the mom after all.... The one that has to make the magic happen, whether I'm in the mood to or not.  And it will all happen after I've finished whining and complaining about the unfairness of the choices I've made in my life.....and life will go on.   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hey There... It's Been Awhile

Back in August, after my last post, I walked away from my blog.  I honestly felt like I had nothing left to say.  I was tired of talking about Todd.  I'm still kind of tired of talking about him.  However I do have things that I've learned about myself in the last couple of months.  For about three or four days I've been trying to figure out what I've wanted to say.  I'm still figuring it out as I go...don't mind my random thoughts.  This may end up being a long catch up post, with some things I've learned along the way.

Todd is still slowly declining in health.  He's lost close to 80 pounds.  He's looking older and more frail.  He's very unsteady on his feet so occasionally we use a wheelchair.  His memory still isn't great.  He has occasional falls. We still have occasional arguments about him wanting to drive. I still get angry at him over things that shouldn't be a big deal, but end up being a big deal. I know...I need to pick my battles...but having someone who knows how to push all the right buttons, that stir up memories that I wish would go away, makes it incredibly hard to walk away, without blowing up.  It is a challenge being the only one taking care of him.  His family has not seen him in months.  In fact I think they are mad at him right now....for what?  I have no idea.  It could be as simple as him not returning phone calls or texts. These people are never going to get it....ever.  So, I have no one who can help me.  And it's not that I really need help, it's just that the every day "stuff" can sometimes be insanely frustrating. I'm just worn out.  I'm working a later shift at work, getting home closer to when the sun comes up.  It's hard, and it's exhausting. I'm averaging maybe 5 hours of sleep at night and usually skip an entire nights sleep each week, just so on my nights off I can be tired enough to go to bed at a decent time.  It's life, I can handle it, but admittedly some days I don't handle it very well. I'm doing the best I can, and really considering everything, I'm doing pretty damn good. 

Over the past few months I've had a lot of new people come into my life.  It's been nice...refreshing.  I've always shied away from meeting new people.  I'm getting better about letting more people into my life that are positive influences.  Let's face it, I need all the "positive" I can get.  I've also learned how far I still need to go on my journey.  I thought I was good...balanced...forgiving.  The past was in the past.  Not so much.  The one thing I've learned for sure, I won't be able to forgive Todd completely until he's gone.  There are too many memories that run through my mind, that still hurt.  I have triggers, when he says or does certain things...and I get angry...and I throw memories back at him trying to hurt him.  I'm still damaged... I actually really hate that word.  I've definitely come a long way, and I am definitely on a different...better  path on my journey than I was at the start.  But, talking to people who are close to me, I have found there are things I never realized affected me that affect me in a big way.  Just an example.... Alcohol.  I have a hard time with people who drink.  One drink... 20 drinks. To me it's all the same.  It all has the same end result.  You hurt the people who are close to you, you get sick....and you die.   Watching people who are drunk makes me ill.  I watched Todd go from not drinking when we got married....to one beer a night...to 6...to 12...to 18 and sometimes 24 and then eventually adding a bottle of Rum that would last maybe two or three nights. Watching people who are close to me drink, scares me.  I don't know how else to describe it.  The difference...and what I need to learn and work on, is that not everyone has an addictive personality like Todd.  Everything with him was/ is in excess...obsessive.  Just because someone drinks....and I know this...but, I need to make my brain understand it, doesn't make someone an alcoholic.  It took someone very close to me, and is thankfully very patient with me to make me look at this and other things I have a hard time with in different ways.   It's hard...and it takes a lot of work, and I'm trying.  It's hard because I don't know what is normal. My marriage....if you can even call it a marriage anymore...I kind of don't...is extremely dysfunctional.  I'm hoping one day I can have a "normal" healthy relationship with someone.  I'm not sure how to do that yet, and it scares me.  I second guess so many things.  I have a lot of  "What ifs" in my head.  My biggest....What if I completely screw up a good thing because I question too much? Yes...it's possible.  The good news is I'm learning and I'm healing.  Having people in my life who are unbelievably patient and let me know when I need to step back and look again at something a little differently, and having the ability to do that has been an amazing experience, and a huge step forward for me.  Do I consider myself a victim of abuse?  I've thought about this a lot lately.  I was never physically abused. The closest I ever came to that was one night before he quit drinking.  He was incredibly drunk and I was beyond tired and I said something that set him off....he threw a lot of things around our bedroom before getting in my face looking at me with a look of pure hatred that I had never seen before, with his hand in a fist.  I stood there motionless, looking into his eyes, holding my breath for what felt like forever, it was maybe 30 seconds before he turned and walked away and passed out shortly after.  Hands down worst night of my life.  He remembered none of it the next morning....wondering why the tv remote was broken, why it looked like I had been crying all night....probably because I had been crying all night.  I think that was the moment that made him realize he needed to quit. And when I look back....it was the moment that if I'm being truthful with myself,  I realized I was done with him.  That was almost 7 years ago, and for too many years after,  I was still too afraid to leave. Now I just feel sorry for him, I'm absolutely not afraid of him anymore and I feel like maybe I just have something to prove to myself....maybe that sounds stupid...I don't know. Victim of abuse? I personally choose not to label myself in that way.  I put up with a lot.  Mental, emotional and verbal abuse? Yes.  Not constant every day, but it was definitely a part of our marriage.  I used to argue with him when he was drunk.  It took me a few years to just keep my mouth shut and give in.  You want me to make breakfast (eggs, hash browns, sausage...you know the works)  for you at 3am after I get home from work, even though I'm dead tired and need to get up with little kids in a few hours?  Fine.... Resentment....resentment...resentment.  You want to point out women to me and tell me you want me to look like them....sure I'll laugh it off...as I swear at you in my head, and feel worse and worse about myself.  More resentment.  I could go on, but I won't.  I have plenty of stories that he denies and now says he never would have done.  Sure....ok....whatever.  He doesn't remember.  This being the reason I need to forgive him, and let it all go....and why right now I can't, not completely anyway.  There are still too many triggers in my face, everyday.  Sometimes I walk away, sometimes I can't and I explode, because dammit he needs to remember it so it can hurt him as much as it hurt me.  That's never going to happen and it's not the right way to go about any of this.  I know it's wrong to throw it in his face.  I know it's wrong for me to want to hurt him as much as he hurt me.  I would be a better person if  I could just let it all go.  Sometimes it's just not that easy....period. However, I am trying.

Earlier this week, I scored a huge win for my 10yr old at school.  Like...I totally kicked ass.  Starting in first grade we determined he needed to be in a resource class to help him in areas he needed help with.  He has a very low level of comprehension.  He has never been diagnosed with anything.  The school keeps wanting to label him with ADD.  It has been a frustrating few years of me trying to get his teachers, speech therapists, school psychologists, principals....to listen to me.  I almost always walk out of the meetings we have...one at the beginning of the year to review and make changes to his IEP and one at the end to wrap up the year and see how far he has progressed.... feeling like the worst mom in the world.  Discouraged and frustrated.  At the end of  last year, I tried to get them to hear me. Questioning why in the world we would send him to the 4th grade when he was barely at 3rd grade level in one area...and only on a 2nd or 1st grade level in other areas.  I was basically accused of babying him.  I needed to let him do more on his own.  If maybe we just tried medication for his ADD he could focus better and learn faster.  I walked out of that meeting so angry, and sat in my car crying feeling like the biggest failure of a mom.  Am I crazy?  How do they not see what I see?  How can they not see that there is so much more going on with him?  This year he was due to have all of his testing done again.  I was hopeful that we would see different results.  I walked into the meeting with different people than the previous year, with the exception of 2 individuals, feeling hopeful, partially due to the fact that I had talked to his teacher a month earlier.  When I walked into his room on that day, he looked at me and he said, "I get it...I get what you were explaining to me at the beginning of the school year."  I always go in before the year starts and try to "prep" the new teachers on what they should expect.  He told me he was a little skeptical and wanted to see things for himself, and then basically said, you're right, he really doesn't understand why he is here or what he supposed to be doing.  He just kind of goes through the motions and does what everyone else is doing.  And I looked at him and said "Thank you....you are the first teacher to understand what I'm talking about."  So....back to the meeting.  The school psychologist started with the results of the testing.  His IQ test shows he is well below average.  However....he starts explaining, he believes this is due to the fact he had a hard time paying attention...so his ADD probably affected the score.  At that point, I can't even imagine what the look on my face was, I'm pretty sure I was looking at him like he was completely nuts, and I let him finish what he was saying, and then I said, "I'm sorry, but I don't agree with you, and I'm not leaving this room another time with a diagnosis of ADD." So we went around the room everyone giving their thoughts for close to 2 hours.  I finally said this... "I get why you want to label him with ADD, he does to some extent have a problem with paying attention.  But, let's look at this from a different angle.  If you were in a room listening to a lecture, and had absolutely no clue what the person lecturing was saying or understanding what he was talking about, would you pay attention? Or...would you start drawing in your notebook or staring out of the window or doing whatever else until you heard something that you understood and brought your attention back?"  Ahhhhh that makes sense.  If he can't understand what the teacher is telling him....and there are many times I need to find different ways to explain things to him....then how do you expect him to pay attention? So the school psychologist looked at me and said, "So you think these scores are accurate?"  And I looked at him and said, "Absolutely."  From there we formed a new education plan for him.  He will be in a more integrated classroom where more focus can be put on what he needs help with.  I left that meeting wanting to throw my hands up in the air and scream "YEEEESSS!!!" Finally....finally they listened, and I was able to leave a meeting feeling semi intelligent and happy.  Such a relief, that he will soon get the help he needs instead of getting pushed from one grade to the next, and getting lost in the system. 

It's been an interesting few months.  A lot of learning...always learning, understanding, growing, moving forward, even though in some ways it feels like I took a few leaps back. It's ok because now I know more of what I need to work on, and I'm doing just that.  There's always going to be frustrations.  If you've ever had to take care of someone with this disease, then you know it comes with the territory.  The important thing for me to know, is that I'm sure that one day I will be at a place where I feel like I'm completely ok, and that is what keeps me going.  I'm moving forward and I'm trying to work on things and really that's the most important thing.