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.

The Newest Little Monkey

Ok, so I’m a little behind with this post, but it’s not my fault.

Honest.

I have a new grandson.

Everybody say hi to Maxwell!

His Mama (EldestDaughter) calls him “Monkey”, because she says he gets this little wrinkle in his forehead when he’s thinking really hard, or confused, or working on his next magnum opus, that makes him look like a baby monkey.

He was born 2/12/2017 in Washington state, where ED is now living with her SO & Schnicklefritz.

And I didn’t get to be there.

*sniffle*

But, he’s healthy, happy, & adjusting to life on the outside, according to all accounts, which is all I can ask for.

I DO get to see them all when they’ll come home for OnlySon’s graduation in May.

*BIG YAY & high five!*

So, for now, I have to survive without baby snuggles & will live vicariously through texted pictures & a recently set up weekly Skype date.

And, I’ll have to revamp my ABCs I wrote when Schnicklefritz was born, & tailor some much-needed “Gramma wisdom” for this newest addition to the zoo.

*I feel a challenge coming on*

For now, here’s some pictures I’ve wheedled out of my daughter!

Who is this person holding me? A brother, you say? Ok, I’ll start working on my “little brother pestering” skill set now.

Here’s this “big brother” person again… Are you sure he needed to follow us home, Mom?  Well, at least he seems to like me somewhat, so maybe this could work.

You know, I’m not too sure about this whole “being outside” thing, Mom & Dad…couldn’t I have just stayed where I was? I was kinda comfy there.

No snark…just awwwwwwwwwe…

*sniffle* 

I wanna snuggle him!

Reliving 2016

I am so very tired today, as though the whole weight of the year has descended upon my body in this one day.  I’ve slept so long today, only waking at 3pm, & I can still feel the heaviness dragging at me…

But, I feel the need to write, to tally the happenings of this year, and so, I come here to lay down all I can remember. This will be a fragmented account, not linear, but more likely, a simple recounting of the things I recall best.

* I bought a different vehicle. My Mitsubishi gave up on me, with too many problems I couldn’t get fixed without spending way too much money, I simply couldn’t justify keeping it any longer. I sold it to someone who was able to do much of the work himself, thereby saving himself from having to spend all that money I would’ve had to on labor.  Instead, I bought a little pickup from my dad. It is a good vehicle, if smaller & lower clearance than I’m used to, but it does the job admirably. 

* I took some horse back riding “lessons”. More just “sessions”, really, as I grew up with horses & rode most of my young life. They were fun until it got really cold, & as much as I miss riding, I’m pretty much done with the sessions, even though we’re supposed to have a couple makeups, due to bad weather, I don’t think I want to do them anymore.  I got what I wanted from it.

* My EldestDaughter is pregnant with my second grandchild, and is due in Feb. She & the grandson moved out of my home in April, moving to Washington state with her boyfriend. They are good for each other, & I hope they continue to build their family in the new year with all the humor, love, & compassion possible. Even though I miss them horribly, this is a good move for her, & I send them all good things for this upcoming year.

*OnlySon turned 18 this year, & is set to graduate in May. He’s started really enjoying his autonomy, making choices for himself & deciding on what his next steps will be toward independence. I worry for him, as independence is not something he likes, relying on his father, who was always a helicopter parent, to pick up where he leaves off & make decisions. My hope for him this year is that he truly learns the value of being his own man, working hard for what he wants, & goes after it.

* Youngerdaughter is the opposite – she is completely independent, living on her own, & working a job she really enjoys. She is straightforward, goal-oriented, & determined to do her best in every situation. I am so proud to be her mom, & I marvel at her all the time. I truly enjoy our talks on the phone ( “Oh, one more thing I have to tell you”, after we’ve been talking for an hour), and the few times we’re able to get together to visit. 

*I’m thinking of shutting down my Etsy shop. I’ve had a handful of sales since I opened, & it is just a hobby shop for me, but the legalities & business side of things are beginning to wear on me. I don’t know if I really want it anymore. We’ll see what 2017 presents. 

*My love life continues to elude. I’ve heard from many that if I stop looking, it’ll find me, but I don’t think so. In order for love to find you, you have to be visible, & I am not. I don’t “go out”, I don’t mingle, I hate crowds & shopping in public. How is love going to find me at home, curled up in my chair with a book?

Ludicrous.

And, anyway, the men I’ve met always have some reason they’re unattainable, anyway. 

1. Geographic issues. We’ve talked for 3 1/2 years, & he still hasn’t come to see me as he’s promised, & the country he’s in is impossible for me to visit, due to many reasons. He proclaims love loudly & often, but has broken every promise he’s made. Anyone who knows me, knows that if you don’t keep your word with me, I will stop trusting anything you say…and then it’s pretty much over. I don’t want to give up on this possibility, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to continue. I’ve given 3 1/2 years of my life…how much more time does he think he has to prove himself? 

Maybe this is my fault…I should’ve stopped it all years ago & not taken him back after the first argument. Why didn’t I? Because the heart is blind, deaf & stubborn. And, maybe, because having him in the background keeps me from getting hurt by anyone else. There’s always the excuse of “Oh, sorry, I can’t get to know you or date you because I’m seeing someone who’s out of the country”. *sigh* 

Me and my love of impossible relationships… 

2. Vulnerability issues. I understand not wanting to be hurt again after bad experiences…I do. Been there, done that, still wearing the tread marks. BUT, if you never trust, you never get the benefits of real love. If growing older alone holds no problem for you, *shrug* I guess I can’t say anything to change that, but I don’t want that life for myself. I still wonder, sometimes, if he ever thinks about me & regrets his decision. I dreamt about him not long ago, & have had a terrible urge to email him. I haven’t done so, but the feeling is still there. 

3. Commitment issues.  Twice burned, forever shy, I guess. Been there, too, with 2 failed marriages under my belt, I know what it’s like. But, I don’t want to give up on the possibility of love.  I won’t let myself love someone who isn’t willing to commit. We can be friends, but that’s all I’ll ever give. He’ll never know what could’ve been, after throwing it away. And someday, even the friendship will fade until it is gone altogether. That’s just how it works. 

*I want to travel. I want to see my nephew in Georgia. He is my best friend, and I miss him something chronic. He wants me to move down South after my son graduates, & I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. 

* My job is going well. After one of the other ladies moved away, I was tasked with assuming many of her duties, & it keeps me busier than ever. I had a good evaluation this year, & I’m proud of the work I’ve done. I still like what I do, but I could do without the bullying that happens occasionally. No job is perfect, however, so I just take the lumps with the sweet, & keep going.

*I’ve been working on improving my house, when I can, and as I can afford it. It’s slow, as money isn’t overly abundant, but progress is being made, & that’s the important part. One day, I will sell it and move on to elsewhere. Where to and when this will happen? I don’t know yet…but, my feet itch, & I am tired of snow.

*I’ve been spending a lot more time learning about Introversion and how it relates to me. After taking that personality test a few months ago, & learning I fit the INFJ type, I’ve discovered so many true statements about who I am & where I want to go next. This journey doesn’t stop here, it simply opens different doors.

*Oh, yeah…almost forgot. I’ve been published in someone else’s book again.

In 2011, I wrote a post about Dr. Bohdan Hordinsky, a man I knew when I was younger. A couple of years ago, someone who used to live in my hometown contacted me, asking if he could use some of it in a book he was writing about his own life. I said “Sure, just give me credit for whatever you use”, & mostly forgot about it.

This year, he contacted me again, to tell me the book had been published, & is now available in places like Barnes & Noble, on Amazon, & like places. He also sent me a copy of the book, with a handwritten note.

He used the whole post, copying it word for word, & gave me total credit for it, even including me in the acknowledgments. It’s pretty cool, having been published 3 times now, twice for writing, once for photography, but always in others’ books. My nephew insists that I should write my own book, but I don’t know if I have the patience or the business acumen for it. It’s a lot of work, & I write for pleasure. Would it still be pleasurable if I took that route? I’m not so sure.

Well, there you have it…a little time encapsulated. I wonder…if I plant these seeds, what kind of garden would come up next spring? Would I get lovely flowers, or thorny & noxious weeds?

Maybe I should just put them in the ground and find out…

Silver Stars, Jingle Bells & Silence.

All is quiet today. 

The gifts were all unwrapped yesterday, the squeals of joy still echoing softly within my memories. 

The food, copious amounts of holiday delectables, were all devoured, the leftovers packed & sent along, saving only a few, choice morsels for myself.

The hugs & kisses warm me when I think back, bringing a lump to my throat & a gleam to my eye, as I know it’ll be a long stretch before it happens again.

But yesterday was successful and merry, just what I wanted for my Solstice gift.

And today…I spend alone.

You see, I am Pagan. I don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. Mine happened days ago, on the 21st, the Winter/Yule Solstice. To me, it is a time of homemade, heart-made gifts, not all of the tangible & able to be wrapped in brightly -colored paper. Sometimes, it’s as simple as someone not-Pagan remembering to wish me a “Blessed Yule”. It shows they were thinking of me, & thoughtful enough to remember that my holidays are different, but are not forgotten.

Other times, it’s a child offering their help with preparations, without being asked, &/or just doing something helpful without my knowledge. 

I do participate in the tradition of gift-giving, & my family has done this on Xmas Eve for many years. There are many reasons for this, but the simplest is that my children all go to their fathers’ on Xmas Day. 

So, Xmas Day is my Quiet Day.

A day of contemplation & relaxation. One I usually spend in decadent repose, lounging in my jammies, hair wild from sleep & no desire to “fix it”.

A day of grazing on leftover treats…a little pumpkin pie for lunch, some fudge for snack…maybe some stuffing, veggies & mashed potatoes mixed together with turkey for supper. 

I miss my kids, don’t get me wrong. 

I loved having all 3 home again, noisy & raucous, leaving little messes lying around of drink cups & my grandson’s toys. It’s odd to not hear him saying “Gramma…you know what-uh?” 

Speed Racer in his race car, complete with padded “helmet”.

But, last night, after all the hustle & bustle of the rituals of food & gifts… There was the chaos of the leave-taking. Packing items for travel, packaging leftovers for a long haul to Washington for EldestDaughter & her SO, for the shorter trek for YoungerDaughter back to her apartment, & getting OnlySon ready to go to his father’s.

And…when all had departed for their next destinations, I was left staring at the silent night, inside and out.

The silver Star atop my tree will join the jingle bells I had hanging next to the door – both will be put away tonight, clearing the holiday decorations swiftly, now that the revelers have fled.

And I spend today alone, watching the silent snow fall, content with yesterday’s success, mourning it’s passing, & hoping for the new year to be brighter.

Happy Holidays, all.

(EldestDaughter, OnlySon, & YoungerDaughter)

From our homes & hearts to yours.

EldestDaughter, SO, & Grandson. (Newest grandson also in picture, but not snuggleable till Feb. release date!)

May your days be Merry & Bright!

Thor’s Protection

I’m not a follower of the Northern Viking pantheon, but this last weekend, I prayed to Thor for protection for my nephew, who was in the path of Hurricane Matthew.

I found this online at http://www.northern paganism.org , and felt very strongly that I was heard, & His blessing of protection was granted.

I will be doing a ritual of thanks this upcoming Thursday, which is the name given to “Thor’s Day”.

Thunder rolls, lightning strikes,

And the hammer flies across the sky.

 

God of the weather, chariot of the storm,

Master of rain and torrents,

Son of the strength of Mother Earth,

I ask you to grant me that strength for myself.

You who are so great that you cannot walk

Across the Rainbow Bridge without breaking it,

You whose tree is the mighty oak,

O Thunor, grant me that unending sturdiness.

Let me not break beneath the blows of misfortune.

Keep me from being crushed when the powerful

Stomp their large feet on the smaller ones below.

You who are the guardian of the common man,

You who care for the farmers and workers,

Look upon me here in this place where I am

Only one of many, and protect my steps.

Make me resilient and mighty as your own arm,

Make me unbreakable, you who are Friend of Man.

I ask for one small percentage of the vigor

Of the right arm of the Thunderer,

That I might brave the tempest

And stand firm in the gales.

 

Thunder rolls, lightning strikes,

And the hammer flies across the sky.

Stringless Theory

Much like chaos theory, love has many twists & turns, & is usually surprising…with a side of “Holy Crap!”  People will continually act in unexpected ways, things will get broken, things will get better, and sometimes – they fall apart completely.

But, at least with me, the theory of love is stringless.

No obligations implied or attached.

Love, to me, is pure & freely given. It expects nothing. It comes in many shapes & sizes; & once given, can only be rescinded through seriously hurtful actions on the part of the receiver.

When I love, whether it be for a child, a pet, a friend, family member, or lover, I give my love without reservation. I seem to be unable to “hold back”, as some would put it. 

I don’t see this as a failing, just a difference of modus operandi.

Yes, sometimes it means I get hurt. Yes, sometimes severely so. 

But, it also is the only way I know how to love.

I expect nothing from the recipient. You don’t have to love me back. You don’t even have to respond when I say the words.

That’s not why I say them.  

I say the words, because, again, that’s who I am. I want you to know that you mean something to me, that I value you in my life, & that I am willing to be that open, honest & vulnerable with you. It shows a fair amount of trust, because it opens me up to ridicule (not that that’s ever been a response, but still).

If I say “I love you”, it means that I see you, I have a place for you in my heart, & you are free to come & go.

It is not the same as saying “I’m in love with you.” There’s a fine line between the 2 phrases, but it is distinct & measurable.

And no, I don’t say the words lightly. I know exactly the weight they carry, & that they need to mean something.

So, if I’ve said these words to you, you can bet that I mean every syllable.

And you are free to respond, or not, as you wish.

Because real LOVE means wanting the other person’s happiness…even if it means you’re not a part of it.