Tears in a Bottle

Every morning after my husband leaves for work, I cry. Every. Single. Morning. Even on mornings when I am heading out the door for work at the same time as him, I cry. There are tears that fall on the drive to work. Lately, when I have felt the hot sting of tears on my face, cold from January’s winter wind, I have pictured a large bottle in heaven. Somewhere in the Psalms it says that God sees all my tears and collects them in a bottle. I envision what this bottle must look like. My earthly human mind pictures a very large bottle with a capacity well over one thousand gallons. I am certain it has to be at least that large to hold all the tears I have already cried in my time on earth. Since September of 2016, I have exponentially added liquid to the volume in my bottle. And since that day, every morning the tears have come.

This morning I was thinking about people in the Bible who suffered with depression. Elijah did after the amazing showing up of Baal on Mount Carmel. David dealt with depression after his sin with Bathsheba resulted in a son that did not survive. I’m sure there are others as well. God provided for these folks in tangible ways. For Elijah, God sent ravens to feed him and an angel to advise him to rest and eat and drink–to care for his basic physical needs. For David, God provided an entourage of servants who talked with him, brought food to him, and stayed by him through a very dark time. One thing I have learned about depression in the past nine months or so is that it is a very lonely affliction. As a person with very few real friends to begin with, an episode of depression that drags on and on results in days and weeks and months of loneliness. There really aren’t physical characteristics of depression. There is no hair loss from a powerful drug that is intended to kill the depression cells. (I realize there is no such thing as depression cells–it is mentioned to help make comparison) There is no wheelchair or cast or amputated limb that says, “I am suffering something that is affecting me physically.” In fact, most people believe depression to only be a mental and emotional issue. The truth, though, is that depression is a very physical ailment. It is difficult to explain, but my guess is anyone reading this who has suffered at the hands of depression knows exactly what I am talking about. Those who haven’t usually grow weary of the one who wilts under the pressing weight of a lengthy bout with this monster. They expect one to just move on with life…put behind you whatever is bugging you and look for the happy things in life.

It just is not that easy.

If you are shaking your head in disagreement with that statement, then you have never suffered real, dark, deep depression. Lucky you.

At the end of last year, Carrie Fisher passed away of a heart attack. A few days later, her mom, understandably crushed by the sadness of losing her daughter, also died. News anchors and talk show hosts speculated on whether it is possible to die of a broken heart. I believe that is absolutely a possibility. There have been countless times, as my tears fall and my arms ache to hug a grandson that is six hundred miles away, that I have felt certain that this broken heart would surely lead to death. In fact, I have wished for that very thing. Living with pain–both emotional and physical–every single day for months and years, drains one of the will to continue. It eats away at that will little by little. On more than one occasion in the past few months, I have awakened and said to my husband, “Today I want to just give into this disease. I am tired of fighting and losing. I just want to throw in the towel and let it win.” I haven’t done that, and the honest reason I haven’t isn’t because God sent an angel to minister to me or friends who aren’t afraid to deal with the hard stuff. Most of the friends I had are no longer in my life. I can’t actually give one reason why I have not quit. A part of it is my husband who has been called to a marriage that is very, very difficult. Again, if you’ve never been married to someone who suffers from disease, you cannot understand. Another part of why I struggle to hang on is my job. I love it and find it to be more therapeutic than I could have ever thought it to be. Another part of why I hang on are the kids I have who love me, and a grandson who, even though I don’t get to see him now, will someday get to spend time with me. My heart breaks when I think of him and look at his picture. Jealousy burns within me as I think of those who get to have their grandkids close. I am often ashamed at those emotions, yet they are real and they torment me every day.

I’ve said it before–depression is a monster. It is a beast that threatens to take all I have from me, including the very breath that keeps me alive.

The other day, someone at work returned a book. As I thumbed through its pages making sure it was in a condition to restock, I came across this quote:

“We must be willing to give up the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

I didn’t write down its author, but I wrote the words on a piece of scrap paper and slipped it into my pocket. As I re-read them this morning, the burning question is, how? How do I give up what I envisioned my life to be? How do I make peace with the fact that I am a grandma who doesn’t feel like a grandma because I don’t get to see the little boy who I love so very much? How do I accept what has to be and move on when everything in me screams not to? How do I keep friends when I suck at pretty much everything that has to do with life? How do I deal with the jealousy that rages so badly in me that I want to die. How do I reconcile the thought that everything God puts in my life is for a purpose when I hate so much of what he has put in my life–like my daughter moving six hundred miles away? How?

The six million dollar question, I guess, is how do I learn to believe that God really does love me despite the fact that he has allowed so much pain in my life? How?

Posted in Change, death, depression, empty nest, famiy, Grandma, Grandson, loneliness, MS, trust | Leave a comment

Recovery Mission

The last ten months have been the most difficult months I have faced in a while. More specifically, the last four months have been, well, a living hell. The other day, I poured my heart out to someone in an e-mail. I didn’t actually intend to do that; it just sort of happened that as I typed what was supposed to be a simple correspondence, the pain and sadness came spilling out onto my computer keyboard. It was almost surreal as I maneuvered my mouse over the “Send” icon. As I watched the little arrow move on my phone, indicating that my very emotional and heartfelt e-mail was at that very moment flying through the mysterious world of cyberspace, I regretted for a moment sending an e-mail that brought fresh tears as I typed. You see, just an hour or so before sending my emotional plea through cyberspace, I had sat in my chair at home, trying to prepare myself for a day of work. I looked up at the wall in front of me and the all too familiar pain stabbed at my heart again as I looked for a long moment at the picture of my beautiful grandson that hangs next to his mommy’s from her senior year of high school. I felt the breaking of my heart all over again. My arms ached to hold him even if just for a little while. Their longing to hold him could not be satisfied, though. He is much too far away for this grammy to snatch him up in a big snuggle.

Four months. It has been four months since they packed up their belongings in a big moving truck and headed 600 miles or so west to begin a life there. And all I could think of was Mother’s Day, almost twenty years ago, when our family of six packed up a big moving truck and headed 1,000 miles west to begin a new life in a new state. I didn’t understand then how much my own mom’s heart broke that day. I do now–I understand all too well how difficult it was for my mom to say goodbye to her daughter and four precious grandchildren. There are a few differences. My mom had other grandchildren who lived close by. Still, it broke her heart to say goodbye.

I know that now. I know that too well. And I think that maybe this isn’t just coincidence. I think that somehow, the fact that I am feeling the intense pain of losing my one and only grandson to a different state, is somehow deserved punishment for putting my own mom through the same pain. Regardless of whether that is true or not, there is one fact I am coming to believe will always be–that is the fact that this broken heart will probably never completely heal. The pain may lessen at times as the wound scabs over, but a song or a book or a picture will rip that scab off and the bleeding will start all over again.  Sometimes I feel as though I am in recovery, and it is going to be a long and painful process. Recovery is going to take conscious effort and lots of time. I’m not convinced it will ever be complete to be honest. Broken hearts don’t always heal correctly. And most people don’t have the stamina to stick with someone who is on a long journey of recovery. Although that adds to the pain, the reality is that I face this, for the most part, alone.

It’s been a long, pain-filled ten months. I have stared death in the face on some very difficult days. The fight is not over yet. Recovery missions seldom take place quickly. I’m doing my part the best I can. I’m protecting my emotional health by not being on Facebook. It has been one of the most positive decisions I have made in these very dark months. It has also revealed to me who my real friends are. People who have taken time to text or call and have made time to try to get together with me–these very few are who I consider my true friends–their number can be counted on the fingers of one hand. I guess that’s okay though. It’s best to be in battle with those you know have your back.

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Sayonara, 2016

Image result for sayonara meaning

Today is the last day of 2016.

Frankly, I am quite glad that it is nearly over. It has been a very long time since I can remember having a year as bad as this past one.

It seems each year I start a new journal with the words, “A brand new year. I sure hope it is better than __________.” Tomorrow’s entry will probably begin the same way. I am not getting my hopes up, though. Perhaps that sounds negative, but by not hoping for good things, I cannot be disappointed when they do not happen.

To be fair, the year 2016 did not start out horribly. In fact, I had great hopes of improving in so many areas when the new year dawned 366 days ago. Looking back at my early journal entries, I actually made some headway on some of those improvements. While I struggled most of the year with knowing what my purpose would be, I also read of many days where my main role was grammy to a very special little boy. March saw us celebrating his first birthday. It was such a special day that all of our kids and their spouses joined us in celebrating. A picture snapped by someone there that day melted this grammy’s heart. It was my little man standing with his head buried into my shoulder, almost in hiding from all the commotion of guests around him. That picture was my Facebook profile picture for most of the year. I also had it printed on a 5×7 photo to frame for our bedroom.

I’m not sure what happened, but two months after that special day, I felt the early grips of depression’s fingers begin to tighten around me. I had no reason to be depressed, at least no new reason. Yes, my illness reared its head, making my life somewhat difficult, but that wasn’t anything too extraordinary. I remember the day in May, one day before my husband and I were scheduled to leave for a long weekend to my favorite beach in Florida, that the desire to die was so great that it took all that was in me to not give in to that desire. I have to say, even though I have more experience with depression than I care to remember, this bout caught me off guard. It wasn’t like major changes had taken place in my life. I had come to terms with my illness. I had accepted the empty nest and subsequent move that it brought–I didn’t necessarily like the move, but I knew it wasn’t going to change. It just seemed to come out of nowhere.

That depression continued through spring, summer, and fall. It was compounded in September when I learned that the most precious little person in my life would be moving to another state. People tried to tell me that I was still his grammy and that he still needed me. These were words that not only didn’t help but often just hurt more. The reason for that was either because they came from someone who had no first hand experience of what being a grandma was or they were grandmas whose grandchildren lived close enough to see on a regular basis. I sunk deeper and deeper into despair. I stopped going to church–a place I have yet to return and am not sure I will be able to.  Maybe people meant well with some of the words they said or wrote or texted to me, but those words continued to cut deep, deep wounds in a very fragile heart. I found myself an outcast from some of the activities I once enjoyed–Bible studies, youth group–whether intentionally or unintentionally didn’t matter. Fifteen years of sobriety went down the drain as I tried to drown the intense pain and emptiness that haunted me day and night. The diet that had helped me feel better was thrown to the wayside. My visits to the gym ceased.  The day I said goodbye to my daughter, her husband, and my precious grandson was one of the most heart wrenching days I have ever experienced, second only to the day I got the call saying my dad had passed away.

Since that day, I have found it difficult to move forward. In November I applied and was hired for a part time job at our local Christian bookstore. That job, while taking a huge physical toll on my body, has been a good outlet for distraction. I also have found that the people I work with are very much like a family to me. I am so thankful for them. There have been days at work where I find myself on the verge of tears thinking about how much I am missing as a grandma who no longer lives close to her precious grandson, but I cannot wallow in those thoughts while at work. Of course, I often fall apart when I get home and am alone–depression has not released its grip completely.

So as I look back on 2016, I can honestly say that I am glad it is ending. I don’t expect wonderful things from 2017. I’m pretty sure Grammy’s precious boy will not be moving back to be close to me. I don’t know if depression’s grip will finally be broken. I don’t know what news will come at next week’s doctor’s appointment–an appointment that will give me the results of a recent painful test I endured. I am not naive enough to say that the coming year couldn’t be worse than the year that will soon be behind me. I know all too well that could play out to be the case. Still, I find myself saying “Sayonara” to 2016.

I won’t miss you or look back on you with many fond memories.

Posted in Change, CHURCH, death, depression, empty nest, Facebook, famiy, Grandma, Grandson, loneliness, MS | Leave a comment

Going Old Style

If you are a reader of this blog, you know that the past several months have been excruciatingly difficult. Most people who would normally read this will not be able to now due to the fact that I have deactivated my Facebook account. Most of the readers of this blog were referred here via Facebook.

So why the deactivation of that account?

I have written in the past about how Facebook negatively contributes to my emotional health. I have deactivated the account in the past, but I always returned to the site, even though I knew what would happen when I did. This time, though, I plan to keep that account deactivated for an extended period of time–possibly forever. It’s quite difficult for me to see and read statuses that are joyfully proclaiming the very thing I miss the most in my life. Maybe that makes me a horrible person. If so, I will have to live with that.

Facebook isn’t the only thing I need to take a break from though. This blog has been an outlet for me to express my feelings honestly. I have, over the past several months, gotten mixed comments about my honesty. Some have affirmed it–said that it was refreshing to read something that someone wasn’t making up to try to make oneself look good. Others have blasted me for being honest. A few have unfriended me on Facebook because of my honesty. That stings the heart of someone already struggling with depression. When I started writing here, I was very transparent that my writing would always be honest. I know so many fake people–some are fake in their attitude while others try to hide how old they are by spending lots of money on hair and makeup. I have no desire to be fake. I could. I can spin words well enough to make almost anything I write believable. That wasn’t what I wanted though. I know I am not the only person, not the only Christian, to live with debilitating depression. I only wish others would be as honest. That said, for a time, I will not be writing public posts here. I plan to do all my writing in a private offline journal the old fashioned way–with pen on paper. I may occasionally write here, but most likely those posts will be for my eyes only as a reference for a future time should I ever leave the darkness of this disease.

Most likely, at some point in time, I will return to publically blogging here. For now, though, I need to know I can be honest without repercussion that will further affect me negatively. My Facebook account has been deactivated for several days. I already notice less angst in my mind and heart. If staying off of Facebook and privately journaling makes that angst disappear completely, it will be well worth the friendships I may lose. Besides, I wonder how many of the people on my friends list really cared anyway…

 

 

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Silent Night, Holy Night

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As long as I can remember, the days from Thanksgiving to Christmas have always been my most favorite days of the year. During childhood, my parents held, almost religiously, to a set of traditions. I knew that every Thanksgiving Day, we would watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on the television set. My mom would have chips, French onion dip, Hickory Farms beef stick, cheeses, and crackers that we could snack on during the parade. Once Santa made his appearance on that black and white screen, I knew we could go upstairs into my parents’ bedroom closet to fetch the purple polka-dotted case that held the Christmas records. My dad would mute the television to drown out the football commentators, and we would put five records on the player. There was no Christmas music allowed before this point. The next day my mom would set up and decorate the Christmas tree. As the days progressed, other traditions would be held to–Whitman’s chocolates, cutout Christmas cookies, Christmas specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Christmas Eve always brought a candlelight service at church with a family gathering following that. If my now grown kids read this, I’m sure they will nod their heads because so many of the above listed traditions are ones they grew up with as well.

I definitely love Christmas. My love language is gifts. I love giving gifts to the people I love. For as long as I can remember, I have loved buying and wrapping presents. As a young mom, I reveled in watching my children’s excited faces as they unwrapped the exact item they had asked for often between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember one year, our then four year old son wanted a particular toy. You see, it was the year that the first Toy Story movie came out. Our son loved Buzz Lightyear. He repeatedly asked for the talking Buzz Lightyear–push the buttons on his wrist and he would say, “To infinity–and BEYOND!” The only problem was that every other kid in America had also fallen in love with Mr. Lightyear. We searched every store in the area. We had out of state friends searching their stores. There wasn’t a Buzz to be found. I was devastated to think that Christmas morning would come and our little guy would be disappointed. As the days to Christmas grew fewer and fewer, I found myself in a local store to pick up our layaway. Sitting on the layaway counter was…YES! A Buzz Lightyear! It was not green and white like the traditional Buzz but rather silver, but it talked the same and had the same space helmet. I asked the lady why it was sitting there. She told me someone had changed their mind after taking it off layaway. I left that day with the much coveted Buzz Lightyear…and come Christmas morning, our son was thrilled to open the toy he had asked for the most.

I could go on and on with story after story about happy Christmas memories. Now, though, there are no children in our home to radiate the excitement and wonder of Christmas, no cookies and milk left out for Santa, no one to wake us early on Christmas morning, excited to get to the living room to see the piles of presents under the tree and the filled stockings hanging on the wall.

This year I find myself extremely stressed over Christmas. Money for gifts is tight–a chronic illness has a way of sucking dollars from a budget. I still love to give gifts, but admittedly, it is more difficult to buy gifts for adult children than little children. I find myself feeling angst at the thought of all that needs to be done in the next week. Not because I hate Christmas–I don’t–but because this year, for the first time since our kids were born, I am working a retail job during the Christmas season. Working leaves little time for me to get all the expectations completed. Work, combined with a chronic illness, also depletes any energy reserves I once had. Presents need to be bought and wrapped, cookies need to be baked, the regular chores of the household still need to be done…I find myself frustrated and overwhelmed at the thought of Christmas this year.

I think of the words to some of my favorite Christmas songs:
“Joy to the world the Lord has come…”
O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth…”
Silent night, holy night all is calm, all is bright…”

These lines all imply peace, yet peace is something I have not been able to find this Christmas season. I also seem to be missing joy. Christmas has become a never ending list of to-do’s with a body that is screaming “Don’t!”. Every television commercial tells me I need to give the perfect gifts and decorate the perfect tree with the perfect trimmings and cook the perfect meal and bake the perfect cookies…you get the idea.

I desperately want the peace of Jesus this Christmas season, yet the more I long for it, the farther away it seems to be. I don’t want to be the person who wishes the Christmas season away.

I need a silent night…

Posted in depression, famiy, gifts, Holidays, MS, Parenting, peace | Leave a comment

More Like a Swift Kick

I’ve been told that God won’t stop pursuing me.

I’ve been told that God loves me unconditionally.

I’ve been told that God speaks in a still small voice.

For the last six months, I have vehemently disagreed with those statements.

I have been convinced that God had stopped pursuing me–that He has abandoned me.

I have been convinced that God hates me.

I haven’t heard any still, small voices lately. But then again, I haven’t really been listening for any either.

It has been a long stretch of oppression.

It started as a typical episode of depression and darkness. I didn’t panic. I am all too familiar with depression. But it grew. It took on a life of its own and turned into not only impenetrable darkness but also wielded a force of evil.

Almost an unbearable presence of evil.

I think that even if there was a still, small voice that tried to talk to me, and my ears would have been attuned to such a phenomenon, it wouldn’t have gotten through anyhow. I’ve never felt a darkness this thick weighing on me.

Ever.

Within the last couple weeks, though, there has been a slight, ever so slight, piercing of light through the thick darkness that has threatened my life multiple times in the last few months. I still have not heard a still, small voice, but I am wondering if maybe God is trying to get my attention with a good, swift kick. I wonder that because there has been a longing in my heart to return to the path I wandered off of while stumbling in the darkness. I have found myself missing Sunday morning church services. Maybe that can be attributed to the time of year. After all, Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It only seems natural to be in church this time of year. I have also found a sense of disdain, for the most part at least, for some of the choices I made in the darkness of depression. There’s one more thing, too.

I’m tired of fighting.

Not too long ago, I was tired of fighting to live. I felt like my whole world was crumbling down around me as God seemed to take one thing after another away from me while, it seemed to me, to bless others I know with some of those things. Jealousy RAGED in me–and still does to a degree. But that’s for another post (maybe). Now, though, I am tired of fighting God. I’m pretty sure I am not going to win anyway.

Last week I had an appointment with a specialist regarding my MS. I did not get good news. My first thought was to curse God again, similar to what I did when I found out my grandson would be moving away from me. More than once I looked up toward heaven and screamed “I hate you!” at God. I blamed Him for my losses, my health, my depression, even my bad choices. The temptation to replay that exact scenario crossed my mind for sure. But, I didn’t do that. I didn’t thank Him for it either, but I’m okay with that for now, even though I know we are supposed to be thankful in all circumstances. I can’t bring myself to thank God for the potential to lose even more of my health.

But I did not feel the desire to turn my back on Him; if I did feel that, I quickly dismissed it and resigned myself to the fact that all my anger, all my cursing, all my screaming, would not change what God has in store for me. Fighting against God, I am learning, is fighting a losing battle.

I don’t know what will happen if I decide to return to church. I just know that there is a longing in my heart to return to God. I suppose I could accomplish that without returning to church, but I don’t know if that is the right answer or not. Regardless, I can’t completely ignore what seems to be a good, swift kick by God to get my attention. I have heard a quote from C. S. Lewis that says, in essence, that God shouts to us in our pain.

I think I can hear that…and feel it too.

Image result for kick in the butt

 

 

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Moving…Backwards

There are moments, sometimes I can pinpoint the reason and sometimes I cannot, that I hate myself. This self hatred is a deep seated belief I have held for most of my life, and tonight is one of those nights that said hatred is raging through my thoughts and emotions. Tonight I can pinpoint the reason for this hatred. It is multi faceted, but definitely comes down to the fact that, as the title indicates, I have taken large steps backwards in a few areas of my life.

Oh, and comparison. That one gets me every time.

Six months ago I ran a 5K. I literally ran the entire course. It came after four months of discipline, getting up early and hitting the gym to attempt to regain some of my health. At the end of May, I was thrilled to feel like I was on a healthy path for the first time in a very long time.

Then, for reasons that I don’t know–and may never know–a tidal wave of depression came flooding into my life. It beat me down and threatened my very existence. I lost motivation to continue my health journey. The overbearing heat of a Minnesota summer didn’t help much either. I kept telling myself that it would pass…depression, after all, is not a new friend to me, and if history really does repeat itself, this crushing weight of depression would disappear after a time.

Except, here I am, over six months later, and that depression is still hanging on.

Now, it is being fueled by my self hatred because all the hard work I put into my health has been lost and, at the same time, it is fueling the self hatred.

It is a vicious cycle.

Throw in just a short time on Facebook tonight that showed me just how many steps backwards I have taken, and life kind of sucks.

The frustrating thing is I know what it is going to take to get back to where I was. I also know it is possible to achieve that success again–what it’s going to take to look in the mirror and not hate at least the weight of the person looking back at me–yet I’m not sure I will be able to get there again. Depression is one factor; physical pain is another. And throw in a part time job that taxes this unhealthy body and I find myself one, big, unhealthy mess.

Again.

Few have chosen to stick with me on this difficult journey. I don’t blame them, but the fact that I don’t blame them doesn’t take away the sting of their choice to abandon.

In all honesty, so often I don’t want to live this life anymore. Self hatred, I’m sure, factors into that statement as well.

Posted in depression, loneliness, MS, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the Ring

Image result for boxing ring

I guess it has been  some time since I have written. Like most people living in these days, I have found myself busy. Of course, the holiday season adds to that busyness, but for me, with the exception of Thanksgiving, the holidays haven’t had their full impact yet. I cannot remember a Thanksgiving Day that I did not have the majority of my Christmas decorating done. Until this year, that is. A combination of factors combined to cause me to not really care much about decorating for Christmas.

The first factor, and probably the most responsible, is one about which I have written much. My precious grandson (our only grandchild) is not living in the same state as us anymore. If he were here, putting up colorful Christmas lights and decorations that play music would have been an exciting chore. The lights reflecting in his beautiful blue eyes as he takes in the wonder of the season in pure childlike delight would have made the work worth it. His mommy is hoping they will be here at some point around Christmas. Of course, that depends on weather and road conditions as well as how generous new employers want to be with time off. I am hoping with all that is in me that it works out so they can be here. I did not take for granted the Christmas mornings we had with children. Even as they entered the more difficult to buy for teenage years, I enjoyed buying gifts and delighted in watching those gifts be opened on Christmas morning. But, as much fun as it is watching my grown children open gifts, it can’t be compared to watching a little child do the same thing.

A second factor in my lack of zeal for Christmas decorating has been the weather. Case in point: it is the end of November and it is currently raining outside. I love rain…in the spring and summer. But NOT in November. By now, there should be snow falling outside my window. In fact, I remember Thanksgiving Days in Western New York where I grew up that I went sledding! I feel like I haven’t experienced a real winter in many years. If you know me, you know I really love winter. I love snow. I love cold. None of those three things have made their appearance yet this year. It is difficult to get in the spirit of Christmas–a winter holiday–when there is no hint of winter to be found outside.

A third factor in my late celebration of Christmas, and probably the one that has impacted me the most, is the ever present depression that has plagued me since way back in spring. I can’t remember a time in the recent past that a bout with depression has held on this long. At times, there has been some light that has broken through the ever present darkness. Sadly, those times are few and far between and very short lived in duration. I can say that I am taking the right steps–everything that someone would suggest are things I have done and continue to do. Yet, the grip of darkness continues.

A fourth, and the final factor I have the energy to write about, is some difficult waters we are walking through with a few of our adult children. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year; this year, my heart has been pulled in so many other directions that there is nothing left for celebrating. Part of me wishes we could just skip Christmas this year. My love language is gifts, and given the money we have spent on medical bills and have to spend for needs for some of our kids, I don’t foresee gift buying in our future. This is absolutely breaking my heart.

So why did I assign this entry the title I did?

I am not a fan of boxing or kickboxing or any similar type sport, but I have watched a fair share of these events. I have seen a fighter, trapped in a corner, as his opponent hits him with a right hook, then a left hook, and then another quick right. The blows keep coming, relentlessly pummeling him until the referee blows his whistle to put an end to his misery. Bloodied, he staggers to his safe haven, relieved to be free of the repeated blows of the more powerful fighter. I feel like that bloodied fighter. For more than seven months, I have been on the receiving end of blow after blow after blow. Only, for me, there is no referee to call an end to the fight. A fighter, if the match is not called, will eventually fall to the mat in defeat. I am close to falling to the mat of this fight called life. I am tired of being hit time and time again. I want out of the ring. I need relief soon.

But there is none in sight.

 

Posted in Children, depression, famiy, Grandma, Grandson, Holidays, Parenting, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Courtesy of Pain

I read a quote this morning that really hit home with me. Part of it reads:

“A drop of water on a stone doesn’t do much, but a constant drip eventually erodes and changes the shape of the stone forever. Unrelenting pain is like a constant drip, forever changing parts of your soul…it takes its toll, physically and emotionally.” (Trisha Sidenquist)

Pain has changed me. I am a different person than I used to be. And, I don’t like the person I have become. I’ll get back to that point in a minute. First, how has pain changed me?

I once was a person who was self sufficient for the most part. I didn’t have to think about a trip to the store. I just went and bought what we needed, drove home, and carried the goods into the house. Things that stayed upstairs were put away. Things that needed to go downstairs were carried downstairs (in as few trips as possible so hands and arms were always overloaded) and put away. A dog or a cat would run on the stairs ahead of me and it wasn’t a huge concern. I could sweep the next step with a foot before taking it to make sure I wasn’t about to trip on an animal. Now, a trip to the store has to be thought out. After getting out of bed, showering, getting dressed, and eating something for breakfast, do I still have enough energy to go to the store? What is my dizziness level at that point? Is it safe enough for me to drive? And, if yes, how far? Is it a day where I can hot the freeway and drive the fifteen or twenty miles to Walmart, or is it a day that, while it is safe enough for me to drive, it is probably best that I drive only the five miles down the road to Target or Cub? What do I need to buy? Simple groceries aren’t too much of a problem, but if a twenty pound bucket of cat litter is needed, it is probably going to have to wait until the weekend when my husband is home. Lifting said cat litter up, hoisting it high enough to clear the sides of a shopping cart, and setting it down into the cart is usually not possible…not to mention the impossibility of carrying it from the garage to the door of our townhouse. It is just too far. Any type of excursion out of the house, especially by myself, not only takes careful planning, but needs to be held loosely since I never know if I am actually going to be able to follow through with it. Since most people do not understand this factor, making plans with others is usually a problem. I may have to cancel fifteen minutes before showing up to a coffee date, simply because it isn’t safe for me to drive. A few cancellations and most people write you off as a friend. I know all too well that sting of rejection.

There was a time when housework, while never fun, didn’t task me like it does now. I once could rearrange furniture or tackle several rooms for deep cleaning in one day. Now, thanks to pain, organizing a bookshelf is taxing and drains my energy for the day. Deep cleaning is seldom done unless we are moving, and even light cleaning is put off far too long. Big chores, like organizing a pantry (something that has been on my to-do list for six months) is just too much for me. The mental task of preparing for it and trying to figure out how to arrange it is too much. The physical task of actually doing it is even more so. This in turn frustrates me as I search to find something I know is in there somewhere, only to give up and go buy it, then to find it later that day while looking for something else I just know is in there…ugh.

There also was a time when, if I was cold, I would throw on a sweatshirt, drink something hot, or turn on a space heater and I would be fine. Or, conversely, if I was hot, I could sit in front of a fan or drink something cool and my body would cool off. Now, thanks to MS, my body’s thermostat is broken. When I get cold, multiple layers of blankets, space heaters turned as high as they can go, and all the hot chocolate in the world will not warm me up. If I get too hot, which is often more of a problem than getting cold, not only will nothing really help to cool me down, my body reacts in a way different than most. It will painfully spasm, I will feel very sick, and vertigo ramps up to the point that I can barely stand. Imagine trying to make plans with a body that reacts like this. In the summer, a simple invitation to a BBQ puts me in an instant conundrum. I ask my husband all sorts of questions. “What is the forecasted high for that day?” “Do they have air conditioning in case I get too hot?” “Will I look stupid if I wear my cooling vest?” “What do I do if the ice packs in the cooling vest start to melt before you are ready to leave?” Wintertime invitations aren’t much easier (although they are somewhat easier). Poor circulation and muscle spasms cause my feet to be ice cold all the time. Fuzzy socks and extra warm slippers, combined with microwaveable feet warmers (a gift from my youngest daughter that has been an unbelievable resource!) temper that level of iciness somewhat at our home, but going into someone else’s home can be a problem. Removing shoes and having only socks on can cause my feet to become painfully frozen–even if those socks are fuzzy and warm. The last six months have seen the nerve pain levels in my feet jump dramatically. That, in turn, causes any type of coldness in my feet to be excruciatingly painful. As my husband advances at his job, it has happened more and more that he is required to attend get togethers in homes of those higher up in the firm. It doesn’t look good if his wife never attends with him, but those kinds of things can be so difficult when one deals with such pain.

These are all examples of how physical pain has changed me. Physical pain almost always leads to emotional pain to some degree. In my case, the emotional pain has far surpassed the level of physical pain I experience–and since I used words like excruciating and difficult, perhaps you can imagine (but you probably cannot) the level of emotional pain to which I refer. The emotional pain is compounded by the fact that I WANT to be able to do all the things I used to do. I want to be able to grocery shop like a normal wife instead of making my husband take part of his much needed weekend to go to Petsmart to buy cat litter or to fight the weekend crowds at Costco because I can’t carry it all into the house. I want to be able to make plans with someone and be as certain as one can be that I will be able to follow through with them AND be present in the moment when I do–as opposed to forcing myself to follow through and then be mentally half checked out because I am exhausted or in pain. I want to be able to bake or cook of clean and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in what I finish. But often, this is not the case. Too often I don’t even attempt to bake my husband’s favorite apple pie or cook his favorite dinner because I know that, while I can force my body to do these things, the pain is going to take its toll on me and drive me to an emotional godzilla-type person who has no patience when something simple goes wrong or a cat decides to lay on the floor directly in the path I need to walk. I know this because I have forced myself to do almost all of the things mentioned so far, and I have become an angry, impatient person in the process. Some of the things mentioned, like organizing, I don’t even attempt. It is a Catch-22; I get frustrated because the walk in pantry is in disarray or the upstairs closets desperately need to be cleaned out, but the physical task of doing so would send me into a tailspin of sheer agony. Not doing these things, though, emotionally sends me into a tailspin. I feel lazy and worthless because I can’t do the tasks a wife is expected to do.

Pain has changed me. It has taken its toll in so many ways. I have lost friends because of it. I hate myself because of it. I didn’t ask for it, yet it has become very much a part of my life. Most cannot understand the day to day struggle it causes. At one point, it caused me to seek out God. Now, it seems to have done the opposite, for it has contributed to my doubts about a loving God. I have said I could handle the physical pain if the emotional pain, the death grip of depression, would leave me alone. I stand by that statement. I wonder if its opposite could also be true–could I deal with the emotional pain if the physical pain were not so great? I don’t think I’ll ever know, for it seems they come as a package deal. They are constant friends that, ironically, leave me feeling so alone. Only death, I think, will rid me of this hell once and for all. Some days I plead with God to allow that to happen. Some days I contemplate taking that matter into my own hands. Most days, though, I just try to do the basic things I know my family expects me to do, hoping that if sleep decides to make an appearance that night, I will have a short reprieve from the torment of pain.

Posted in death, depression, faith, loneliness, marriage, MS | Leave a comment

Lied To?

Lies hurt. If you’ve ever been lied to by someone you love and once trusted, you can fully understand that statement. From my earliest recollections, I have been lied to.

As a child I was told repeatedly by two individuals that the way they were treating me was because they loved me. In reality, their treatment of me was ongoing sexual abuse.

I once asked one of those individuals if the saw blade he had just cut wood with was hot. He assured me it wasn’t. The inquiring mind of a nine year old touched it to find out and ended up with a 2nd degree burn on my hand.

A young man, older than this sixteen year old who dated him, told me he wanted to marry me. Nine months later, he came to my house and told me we couldn’t see each other anymore.

Years later, a family member told a lie that put my family in danger of being split apart. It also permanently destroyed  relationships with family of origin that were, at one time, extremely close.

As a recovering victim of sexual abuse, I was once assured by a therapist that everything said would be held in confidence. That person then turned around and discussed some of the things I said with another person we both knew.

As a mom, I remember the sting of learning that one of my children outright lied to me about something. Childhood foolishness, I know, yet the sting of knowing they would intentionally hurt me was still painful as hell. Maybe that was a direct result of the lies that had been told to me throughout my life.

Today I feel that over the past forty plus years of my life, I have been lied to. The subject of that lie–God. I have been told that God was a watchdog in the sky, waiting for me to do wrong in order to punish me to get me back in line. Then I was told those teachings were a lie. Instead, God was portrayed to me as a loving being who was always good. I learned songs that proclaim the “goodness” of God. I tried so hard to believe they were true.

Today’s pain, both physical and emotional, have me wondering if perhaps all of that has been a lie.

I wonder how inflicting me with a physical illness that, for the first time, is threatening to rob me of the ability to walk can be considered good.

I wonder how causing my daughter’s little family (and taking with them my only grandchild) to move hundreds of miles away can be considered good.

I wonder how allowing years and years of depression to infiltrate my life can be considered good.

I wonder how causing my husband, who works so hard and so unselfishly, to chip away at medical bills that just never seem to end, leaving us with no savings account and little extra to really help our kids, to be saddled with a wife who is more of a burden than a blessing, can be considered good.

I could go on. Maybe you are reading this and thinking that I have it all wrong. Maybe you are right. But…maybe you aren’t. Because right now, I have never felt more abandoned or more despised by God.

Today, after attempting once again to attend church, getting there and staying for about 25 minutes, then quickly leaving long before the service ended because I just couldn’t be there right now, my husband and I stopped at Lowes. I needed a special light bulb for a cabinet in our living room. As tears ran down my cheeks from the sheer pain that came with putting any pressure on my feet, my husband said to me, “You may end up needing to use a walker.” I quickly thought of a few weeks ago, when we traveled to see our grandson and his mommy and daddy, and how he held his little arms up because he wanted Grammy to pick him up. I replied to my husband, “Then I won’t be able to carry the baby.” At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to scream and curse at a God who not only moved them away from us, but may take away my ability to even lift him up the few times a year I will get to see him. The tears, even as I type this, are flowing freely from eyes that I didn’t think could cry anymore.

This hurts like hell.

To feel like I’ve been lied to just adds salt to already deep, bleeding wounds.

Posted in famiy, Grandma, Grandson, loneliness, MS | Leave a comment