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!

Have You Ever…?

Have you ever had someone in your life that…just made you feel relaxed & tense at the same time ~ both in a good way?

Have you ever known someone that you can relax completely around? Say anything, and they’re cool with it. Or say nothing…and they’re cool with that too?

Have you ever been able to talk so openly with someone that you stopped yourself at some point, replayed the conversation in your head, & said to yourself “I could never say that to anyone else I know, but it’s just natural with this person.” ?

Have you ever had someone in your life that just was that easy to be around?

Because they know you. They know little things about you, that no one else does. Mainly, because they pay attention. They listen, even to the spaces in between the words you speak. They read your body language, your expressions, your tone, and they can almost predict what the next words out of your mouth will be.

And they let you…be you. No filter, no fibs, no tactful re-phrasing. Just straight-up & honest.

There are a couple people in my life like that.

Thank the Goddess.

I just hope they know that they can be “unfiltered” with me too.

I’m pretty sure they do, judging from some of the conversations we’ve had.

If you have someone like this in your life – don’t let go. Hang onto them, because it’s an amazing piece of knowledge… Knowing that there are those out there who know the “me” behind the masks…

And they still want to be in my life.

They still love me ~ even the crazy bits.

Letter to Myself

Dear Jen,

I just wanted to drop you a line, to check in, and to let you know…

It’s all going to be Ok.

I promise.

I know that things haven’t been great for you recently. I know that you’ve been struggling to find your balance, your peace, with everything that’s been going on, and that you’ve been beating yourself up over that.

Stop.

Stop right now.

You don’t deserve the pain you’ve been putting yourself through- you truly don’t, and I’d appreciate it if you’d cease and desist. 

Your friends would appreciate if you’d cease & desist.  They truly do care about you, you know this, and they’ve told you so. Listen to them. They’re smart.

E putting you off for 3 years is not your fault. You’ve been holding onto hope for so long, and I know it hurts when you have it dragged out this long, but seriously? He needs to put up or shut up, and you need to stop feeling guilty about thinking about moving on without him.

Someday, you will find someone who will treat you with respect. Someone who will love you, and will not only tell you so, but will prove it.

B ignoring you is not your fault. You tried to talk to him, and left the door open for conversation, so it’s his decision and choice.

Matter of fact, you’re not responsible for anyone else’s feelings and/or reactions. 

Only your own.

K’s problems with G are not your fault, either. Yes, it’s like reliving your past a bit, but there’s nothing you can do about it, nor should you. You can provide compassion, a comfortable shoulder to cry on when necessary, and love to boost her back up. That’s all that’s required, as it’s her life, so she’s the one who has to decide what to do.

And you need to stop letting others get you so worked up, and take more moments to breathe before you react. You know that if you just sleep on it, or give it at least a little more time, you’ll calm down, and be able to see things a little clearer.

And if it’s still worth getting worked up over, you have the extra rest to use.

And you do know how to kick some ass, when necessary. You’ve been fighting for others for years, and have gotten a pretty good reputation as a bouncer when needed.

Just learn how to do it for yourself, too, would you? Please? For both of us?

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Me

And now, for the news…

ElderDaughter is going to make me a Gramma×2! It’s been confirmed, and we can expect our newest bundle of joy in late February, or early March! We’re hoping for a visit at Christmas, when they’ll come from Washington to collect all the baby things they left here. It’s been so long now, since I’ve seen her and Schnicklefritz, I’ll probably burst into tears as soon as she tells me they’ve hit the city limits…oy.

YoungerDaughter has gotten a promotion & a raise, and will soon be teaching preschool at the daycare where she works. She’s also found herself a new apartment, which will be much better for her, as right now she’s living out of her bedroom in a house with 8 girls. Oy. She’s also coming home next weekend for a visit, and I can’t wait to see her! We’re going to have to do a movie marathon night, just to catch up.

OnlySon has finally gotten his driver’s permit! Oy. The boy who hates to drive will now be forced to practice with me in the passenger seat…or maybe in the backseat, where I can pretend to be chauferred around town in the style to which I hope to become accustomed, someday when I win the lottery. He’s going to hate driving AND me by the time he’s able to get his license, but at least he’ll have plenty of practice! 

As for me? Well…still here, still waiting…still wondering what the hell I’m going to be doing. Otherwise, no news is good news, right?

Family Plot Twist

I know what I said last night.

And I know it was harsh, writing about the guilt and anger I feel towards my parents over the abuse that took place at my friend’s house when I was 16.

But, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.

Because I do still love my parents.

It’s complicated.

My parents are good people. They’re”salt-of-the-earth” kind of people. The ones who would take in unwanted dogs for friends and family, and find them new, loving homes. They’ve done that many times in the past.
Hell, they’ve taken in other family member’s children, when their parents were having a tough time, or the kids needed more attention or discipline, and they weren’t listening to those at home.  Two of my cousins lived with us at different times, both for different reasons, and were sent home with a different outlook on life.

Not that my parents were hard-asses, not at all. They were, and are, hardworking, honest, and deeply moral people. They always want what’s best for those around them, and I can honestly say that, while I might never have had everything I wanted as a kid, I always had everything I needed. 

Well, except for that incident. But I’m trying to make a point, here.

My parents helped me in many ways, for many years. Especially when I was a single mom, struggling to make ends meet.  They were always willing to lend a hand, and babysat for me when I really needed a night off.  (1 weekend a month, or 2 separate nights a month, my choice)

I was never spoiled, but was taught how to be a responsible, independent human being. They taught me to think outside the box, how to care for animals as much as people, and that, as my Dad always says… “Shit washes off.”

They’re irreverent and funny.

My mom once rode a horse into a bar, because she was looking for Dad after he got done mowing some yards in town for folks who couldn’t do it themselves, and a friend dared her while holding the door open. She rode in, all the way to the table he was at with his friend, said “David, meet me outside”, and rode back out.  It’s just a good thing she was riding the Arabian gelding we had…he was much calmer than her super-tall Saddlebred mare.

And my dad once had a man (who he couldn’t stand) convinced that Dad had an imaginary friend with him for lunch. He carried on a one-way conversation for about 5 minutes, before the other man gave up and went to sit elsewhere in the cafe’, which was what my dad wanted in the first place.

My parents have both been emt’s, at separate times, they’ve helped care for elderly folks in their town, who just needed a little help from time to time, Mom helping them get to the store for groceries, mowing their lawns, cleaning their houses, etc. Dad doing plumbing for them, for nothing more than the cost of whatever parts they needed.

Dad got paid in pies, homemade egg noodles, honeycomb…all kinds of food goodies these elderly folk could, and would, press on him, because they knew he wouldn’t ask for anything else.

They are good people.

And I love them, down to the DNA they gave me.

That’s why I struggle so hard with the guilt and anger.

It’s all twisted up in love.

Goddess. That explains so much about the rest of my relationships…