Fearless #FamChallenge

Beloved Nephew and I are doing a writing challenge for a little while, to get the creative forces moving. This is my first installment.

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I’ve found myself wishing lately that I could live my life fearlessly, as I used to be able to…

To not have to worry about things constantly, to feel the constriction of anxiety wrapping itself around my chest and throat.

To be able to simply get up and go when I want to, where I want to, without fretting about how I’m going to get there, is it going to be crowded and dangerous, will I get lost, what if something does happen, then what?

I used to be able to live like that.

I sit here, shaking my head and ruefully laughing under my breath, remembering how crazy it seems now…

On a whim, I would pack up my daughters, toss overnight bags in my car, and we would drive 12 hours to Iowa.

Yes, on a whim.

We would make pit stops at the various “scenic stops” along the way, play, take pictures, get out of the car for a few minutes, chase each other around like hooligans…then back into the car, and down the road we’d go.

We always stayed with family at the other end, even if it was on a couch, or in a sleeping bag on the floor, but it didn’t matter to me, or to the girls, we all loved the away time, & getting to see Gramma, the aunts, uncles & cousins.

Visiting, I called it.

Escaping…is a little more accurate.

Luckily, gas was much cheaper back then, & my girls were happy little travelers, loving our “road trips”.  They ate healthy food from relatives with as much gusto as the junk food from gas stations. And would help clean up any mess they made with our stay before we left again.

Irresponsible, some would call it.

Free-spirited, others would say.

Young…is the terminology I use.

But, I’m not so young, anymore.

Still… I live alone now… And my weekends belong to just me once again. 

Maybe I need to “plan” a Fearless Weekend… And get the Hell out of Dodge.

Get in my pickup, pack an overnight bag, and drive…somewhere…other than here.

Hmm…

*wanders off humming to self and grinning from ear to ear*

Empty the Nest?

How long do I tend the nest for a child who has already flown?

Here I sit, feeling like the worst mother in the world, right now. Tears pooling in my eyes as I type this, because I told OnlySon that I am planning on leaving North Dakota in a year, and he’s angry, albeit trying not to show it. 

He wants everything to remain the same forever, but that can’t happen. Life stagnates if left to sit too long with no forward motion.

And I have been sitting still for many years now, waiting for something to change.

I’m not happy here, anymore.

Too many heartaches and heartbreaks.

Not enough reasons to look forward to getting out of bed every morning.

So, why should I stay?

For a son who has moved in with his father & is now going to be starting a new life of his own, getting a job, being busy with that & dropping by when he needs a shower or to pick up something else I’m storing in my basement or his bedroom?

For a job, which, yes, I enjoy my work – but, let’s face facts, isn’t a life?

Let’s see… Hmm…

What else does North Dakota have to offer me?

Two ex- husbands, one within city limits, and the other an hour away… No, that’s OK.

I’ll pass.

No one has been able to come up with a compelling, or even logical, reason why I should stay beyond my timeline.

I can’t live for my children’s benefit forever. There comes a time when they have to spread their own wings and leave the nest.

This is the way of life.

Why should I stay?

Tell me. When I feel as though there’s nothing left here for me…

Why?

Soul Separation

Something seriously wrong happens to you when your soul separates into more than one piece.

Being a Gemini… This is a familiar, and uncomfortable, feeling for me.

I get too attached to the wrong people, sometimes.

I…have a tendency to let people into my life quickly, if they show me affection & appeal to my caretaker side. I’m a sucker for someone who needs a little TLC, and who doesn’t appreciate being taken care of every once in a while?

I have a soft spot for strays & those with sad eyes…the ones who have been hurt in the past, or are hurting now, and I want to jump in and bandage, comfort and fix.

But – that’s not always a good place for me to invest my emotions.

Because, once they’ve had their fill of coddling & cookies, they get up & walk away without a backward glance. Much like being discharged from the hospital, and not giving the nurses another thought once you’ve left the building.

Except, this nurse…thought there was a relationship there, and, much to her dismay, was quickly disabused of that notion when she was forgotten along with the rest.

Yeah, I was talking to someone.  The Dragon, from my past, who I had come back into contact with around New Year’s, &… I thought we had at least rekindled a friendship, becoming pen pals, at least.  For the last 5 years, I’ve held this man in such high regard that I’ve made him a member of my Chosen Family, which appellation only goes to a very select and small number. 

Namely him and one other, the Beloved Nephew.

There is no romantic relationship with this man, but he has had a huge impact on my life, even though he refuses to see it. 

And, for some reason, he seems to be afraid of this relationship, which baffles me, because I’ve never asked him for anything other than conversation, honesty, & friendship. That’s it.  

And it truly, deeply, hurts, that he seems to have disappeared again…

Leaving a portion of my soul, the piece that attached itself to him, as friend and family, floating, lost out there…aimless and alone.

How many separations can the soul survive… Before it gives up completely?

Or before it ices over?

I need to fix this.

And I believe the only way now…

Is to reunite with my soul-companion.

Beloved Nephew.

Soul-Companions are not romantic soul mates.  They are those people who come into your life – friend, family member – who just – so completely get you that there are no words necessary. They understand…everything…

They don’t always agree with you, but they understand.

You can, and usually do, tell them everything…down to the nitty gritty, the good, bad & ugly. They’ve seen you laugh till you weep, and they’ve held you as you cry till you collapse. They’ve talked you off the emotional ledges, and you’ve done the same for them, bringing the ice cream & booze for the pity parties. You’ve each laced up your “bitch boots” to stomp the crap out of someone who’s hurt your soul-companion, & you’d bring the shovel to bury the evidence without being asked.

There is an almost psychic bond between soul companions that is impossible to break.  Beloved Nephew & I often say we live inside each other’s heads more often than not. 

He’ll call me, out of the blue, because he feels like he needs to… And it’ll be exactly what I need, because I’ve had a rough day.

Or, I’ll text him something I’ve found online, because I know it’s something he needs, & he texts me back saying “How’d you KNOW I needed that RIGHT NOW!?!”

He moved down South to be near his family, while I’m still in the far North… And it hasn’t been easy being away from him.

Not just because we have fun hanging out together.

But because… He just gets it.

And I understand him.

And, I know… For the both of us, because we’ve discussed this, our souls need each other to heal, to grow & to find our next steps.

As family and as friends, and as Soul-Companions.

My timeline is set.

I have a goal.

I am moving forward.

The First Night

The quality of the sound is different, somehow.

The sound of the absolute silence of my house, for this, the first night of me officially living alone.

OnlySon moved out on Monday.

And EldestDaughter left with her horde today.

I’ve had days & nights on my own before, sure. Plenty of them. OnlySon went practically every weekend to his father’s house. I’ve had summers without the kids since the divorce.

It’s not like I’ve never had the house to myself…

But it’s never been this official.

And a part of me feels as though I’ve been set adrift. 

Unmoored, I am not sure which direction I’m headed in now.

I no longer have children to raise.

I have no spouse or SO to share with or answer to.

Some might think this is a reason to celebrate, to cut loose & go all “Yay Me” all over the place.

But, that means…they don’t really understand who I am at my core.

I am a caretaker.

I like and thrive on having people I care about around me to share my life with, be they children, an SO, Chosen Family, you know…loved ones.

When I’m alone… 

There’s no one to care for.

And there’s no one here who cares for me…so…

What’s the sense in staying?

Time to figure out how to get gone.


Commencement

OnlySon has graduated.

It was a fairly quick ceremony, compared to both of my daughters’, inexplicably, as the class sizes were comparable, but for whatever reason, it went easier. Which was alright with me.

I teared up a couple of times, when they first walked up, realizing that this was my youngest, my baby…and he was now old enough to claim his high school diploma & entry into adulthood…leaving childhood behind.

And when he stood in line to await that diploma, that final walk before he left his mother’s care, and her home, to venture into the wide, wild world as his own man.

A Man in Motion.

He was not to be stopped.

With a grin on his face, he kept going…leaving me to find my own way from here on out.

Exit Strategy

Graduation approaches swiftly, & I’m heavily in planning mode.

OnlySon has his cap & gown, & is eagerly awaiting the day he can kick high school to the curb.

He has requested Texas chocolate cake (a much-beloved recipe of our family’s) for his graduation party, which will be held at my house after the ceremony.

And…it’s going to be a joint party for my son…with his father, my ex-husband.

I know the ex really only wants to do a joint party because he doesn’t want to be bothered with having to plan a party, buy the supplies, host the damned thing, clean up afterwards, yadda, yadda, yadda… It’s always been his MO, to make me do all the work when it came to this sort of thing, while taking a share of the credit. Asshat. 

He says he’s bringing a second cake (he works as a baker at a grocery store here in town, so OnlySon requesting a homemade scratch recipe has wounded his pride, I’m sure), but I know his family… I’m making 2 of my cakes, just to make sure there’s some left for my family.

All the while, my anxiety has me in heavy emergency exit-strategy mode.

Except…

How do you get away from someone when they’re at your home? And they bring their family with them? Their very loud, very confrontational, very Greek, family? (If you’re picturing My Big Fat Greek Wedding in your head…Yep, you’re seeing the right people).

If anyone gets up in my face, I’m going to have a tough time holding my cool.  I will try, for my son’s sake…

But, as I’m passing out pieces of cake, I might be tempted…

The Pendulum Swings

Yesterday was…awful.

Mom called in the morning while I was at work, & told me that Dad’s best friend had passed away. This man was someone I’ve known for practically my whole life. His daughter & I were best friends and nearly inseparable from kindergarten through 5th grade. (The following summer of 1981 we moved to ND)

He and his wife were like second parents to me, as I spent almost as much time at their house as I did my own.

But, he was also the father of the boy who molested me when I was a teenager.

After Mom told me of his passing, I attempted to go back to work at my desk, but couldn’t concentrate. My head felt heavy, & I could hear a buzzing, ringing, in my ears as everything else around me started to fade out.

Then, the panic attack began.

I told my supervisor I had to go home, & bolted from the office before I went into full-meltdown mode. I didn’t want them to see me like that, couldn’t let them see me like that.

It was my worst panic attack yet, save one I had while separated from my first ex (whole other story). 

Tears rolled down my face the whole drive home, but I held my shit together till I got in my front door.

Then – game over.

If you’ve never had a real, full-blown panic attack…you have no idea how frightening one is. I hope you never have to experience it, because it’s…well…I’ll try to describe it.

As soon as my front door closed, the trembling started. I’m not talking about just “feeling shaky”. I’m talking – my whole body went into earthquake mode.  Someone just watching would have probably thought I was having a seizure, or that I’d just gotten out of ice-cold water, I shook so violently. I had to sit to take my shoes off, & struggled with the zippers because I couldn’t keep my fingers still long enough to grasp them.

The cold set in. My house is generally warm, as I can’t abide being cold. I usually have the heat set at 76. But, yesterday, I couldn’t get warm. I wrapped one of my fleece blankets around me as I stumbled through the house to the fridge for my water, & it still wasn’t enough to warm me up. It took 2 blankets & my 2 cats (curled up with me in the chair) to finally warm me.

After taking another dose of my anti-anxiety meds to try to quell the panic attack, it went to the next level. Hyperventilating.

I almost blacked out, so it’s a good thing I was already in my chair when this hit. It dragged on for what seemed like forever, swinging between hyperventilating & hitching sobs. Coupled with the shaking trembles, it most likely would have looked like a grand mal seizure. 

Finally, the meds started to kick in, after interminable seeming hours, and I started to calm. It was most likely just a handful of minutes, but time stretches out unceasingly when in a panic attack, your brain screams fight or flight!! And there seems to be no end, no exit, no rescue. 

And when you’re dealing with this alone, with no one there to comfort you, there’s no surcease of the pain until your body, quite literally, shuts down. The adrenaline of the attack does eventually run out. It has to.

But when you’re panicking, it doesn’t feel that way.

When you’re in PA mode, all you know, all you see, is the black, horrific, panic. It’s a heart attack, stroke, earthquake, flood & mental apocalypse, all rolled inside of your head & body.

It, quite literally, feels like the end, while you’re in it. Logic has no place there. None. It’s not a matter of “just breathe, you’ll be fine”.

You can’t “just breathe”, when every breath has to be fought for.

You can’t “just calm down”, when your heart is racing so fast you feel like a jet engine is going to bust through your chest.

For me, tunnel vision set in, & all I could see was whatever was directly in front of my eyes, but my brain wasn’t truly processing even that. It was in overload.

Once the attack finally crested, & I started to come down, it was like falling off a cliff.

I crashed. 

I slept, weighted under 2 blankets & 2 cats, it was more like falling into a coma, in that I didn’t dream at all. It was just – black sleep.

Today, I am out of PA mode. My anxiety is still very high, but I’m watching it. Keeping quiet, avoiding going out, & taking meds as needed. 

For those of you who do have anxiety & have experienced PA, you know the aftercare, & what I’ve been through. I know another attack could happen, so I’m being careful. Doing all the things I do to relax, soothe & comfort. Reading, to keep my brain occupied on something other than the situation. Wearing my comfort clothes to feel good against my skin. Burning candles and/or incense as needed to use aromatherapy to soothe. Staying away from caffeine, as that can trigger another attack while in heightened stress moments.

And blogging. This helps me, almost as much as the meds. Because this is my emotional outlet, my “scream into the black” of the internet. My way of getting the words out of my head, onto the “page”, & away from my emotional distress.

The worst has passed, and I’m still here…but the pendulum swings. And the moments are tentative & tenderly susceptible to another PA. Hang on, we’re not out of the woods entirely, yet.