Valentine’s Day 

And today on the day Hallmark set aside to express random acts of love, I give you our wedding song. Hubs and I are coming up on six years of marriage here next month, but this was our first dance, and the song we played during our Unity Candle lighting at our ceremony. It’s our song. 💕

PTSD Support and Insight

So vlogging is a thing right? I threw together a vlog post for a mental health support group I’m part of last week, and decided to share it here as well. B1 smacked me in the face with his bottle giving me a wonderful bloody lip, and I’m operating on four hours of sleep, looking like a damn hot mess, but hey. #momlife lol.

A loose transcript:

Hi everyone. I’m a writer by nature and expressing myself vocally is kind of hard, so this is a huge step for me to sit and actually TALK about my PTSD. It’s actually one of the most obvious signs of my disorder: the inability to articulate my emotions. 
A little bit of back story: the roots of my disorder come from a childhood of emotional neglect, and abuse from my mom. Most of it was purely mental, but as I got older and gained more independence the abuse became more physical. I was also homeschooled through all of this, so my entire world consisted of my mom’s views until I turned 18. 
It was then when I met the man I experienced my first long term relationship with. I felt like he was my hero, literally picking me up off the floor when my mom’s abuse became too much and I wanted to end my life just to escape it. He welcomed me into his home, and protected me from my mom’s retaliation as I finally broke free of her control. Unfortunately I kind of jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire so to speak. Three weeks after saving my life, the man I was living with raped me, and continued to sexually, physically, and emotionally abuse me for several years, calling what we had a “relationship”, myself too naive to understand otherwise. 
The relationship ended on bad terms, nine years ago Monday actually, and ever since he’s been continuing to threaten and intimidate me via cyber space. At one point he was driving by my house yelling at me, and even went so far as to slash my tire. 
While the relationship with my ex isn’t the cause of my disorder, the trauma I endured while with him is where most of my other symptoms manifest. The flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and a lot of the anniversary dates I struggle with mostly surround my time with him. That’s what lead me to seek treatment and my eventual diagnosis three years ago.
My inability to “move on” and “forget” all of the trauma I endured with my ex began to cause a rift between my current husband and I. He didn’t understand my disordered behaviors, and neither did I until I received my diagnosis. Reading the symptoms and information about PTSD was like opening a treasure chest into my soul. It just made sense, and with a specific condition I could TREAT it. I wouldn’t just be “crazy” I could explain why I displayed disordered thought processes. I thought just receiving my diagnosis was the key I needed for my friends and family to understand too. Another part of society I was really too naive to understand at first. 
I think that’s really one of the most important things loved ones can do to support those of us diagnosed with PTSD. Acceptance of the diagnosis no matter what the trauma might be. A lot of the misunderstanding I think comes from societies unclear definition of trauma. Certainly being in the military, enduring the horrors of war, life and death for months sometimes years at a time is traumatic. Being a law enforcement officer, or a first responder dealing with life and death daily is traumatic. Surviving an accident or crime with lasting physical damage is traumatic. Those are all of the things that society readily views as “acceptable” trauma. Something that you can tangibly hold, or visually see, an experience where physical damage is caused or highly probable. 
Where PTSD’ers often get left in the dust is when the trauma endured is the result of emotional manipulation, and abuse. The clinical definition of trauma is an emotional response to overwhelming circumstances. Emotional damage isn’t always easy to see, like the physical damage many of those with “acceptable trauma” endure, yet it’s just as damaging. It doesn’t make the diagnosis any less valid simply because someone doesn’t wear a uniform, or doesn’t bare physical scars.
One of the most detrimental things I hear from friends and family trying to offer their support is a comparison of my trauma to their own, or someone else’s. Being an emotional response, trauma is a deeply personal thing, as unique to the individual as the color of their eyes, or fingerprints. What is traumatic to me, may not be to someone else and vice versa. If someone you love has been diagnosed with PTSD the first thing to do is accept the situation as real and valid. It’s easier said than done, especially considering it turns your world upside down receiving any new diagnosis. It won’t happen overnight as you work through your own emotional response to the news, but being willing and making the effort will mean the world to those affected by the disorder. 
The second piece of advice I have to offer is this: listen. When they are ready to talk about their trauma, be patient and listen. Even if they tell the same story 100 times, about the same traumatic event, years and years after the imminent danger has passed. Being able to process emotions that get locked away when the brain kicks over into survival mode is one of the best ways to manage acute PTSD symptoms, but it takes time. Sometimes even when we feel ready to talk about things, actually talking triggers anxiety so consuming it’s easier to shut down; than continue forward. Sometimes it takes years of passing that date on the calendar, and a thousand times telling the story before the trapped emotional energy is released, and the pain and anxiety subside.

Finally, I think another really important thing to keep in mind helping a loved one navigate through their disorder is to understand that there is no cure. There are many different ways to manage the symptoms, quiet effectively to where you kind of reach a remission status, but the possibility of a relapse is always there. I just recently went through my first instance of relapse since entering treatment this past year and it was brutal. I think personally it was more difficult for me to have the stability, have the remission and then to lose it, even understanding that it’s the nature of the beast so to speak. It’s a part of the disorder, a package deal. Relapse will happen, and it won’t always be predictable. What helped control symptoms the first time around might not work after relapse. It’s a constantly evolving thing, and the best way to offer support is to keep offering it, through the bad days, and the good days. The relapse and the remission. 
Anyway… I feel like I’ve been talking for hours. I guess I have more to say than I thought when I started. Thanks for watching everyone. I hope this helps provide some insight.

Curtains!

For Valentine’s Day this year Hubs treated me to new curtains for the apartment. Well, actually, my first ever curtains since I moved out of my parents house. I didn’t realize they served a purpose aside from decor so I never really bothered with them thinking: why have one more thing to clean or for the pets/kids to tear down? 

After looking at our most recent electric bill I changed my tune really quickly lol. I went to just pick up some inexpensive plain Jane cover the window and keep out the winter panels and instead with Hubs’ blessing found these gorgeous silk panels! They were about twice as much as the plain ones so nothing too extravagant, but they’re so soft and so shiny. I just love them. Not that I’m going to ever really be touching them aside from opening them in the mornings and closing them at night, but I like the way the soft fabric hangs and folds on itself. 


I got a new curtain rod too that isn’t in this picture but really completes the look.

My heat hasn’t been running nearly as much even on cold days, and they’re pretty! Who knew something so simple as hanging fabric could make a girl happy? Lol. 

I guess it’s a phase of transitional life that I never paid attention to before. I find myself instead of nesting during pregnancy, building a cozy little space for my children to grow and thrive in. Somewhere in my brain that means they need curtains I guess. My parents are getting ready to retire this year, and I’m getting ready to send my Baby Girl off to school. I recognize that young adulthood is completely behind me now, and it’s a little weird. 

Most likely the next home Hubs and I purchase will be our last, unless we downsize after the kids are off on their own. We’ll spend the next 20 years there at least, and it seems… I don’t know. Lol. A home like that needs curtains, and until we find it, my little Hideyhole will be a great place holder.

ABC’s  

I found out Monday B2 needs to be evaluated for sensory processing issues and the Autism Spectrum. His pediatrician wants to get him evaluated and started with some developmental therapy as soon as possible, which wouldn’t be too much of an issue if I knew were I was going to be living in the next six months. 

I’ve known since he was born that my Little B2 wasn’t quite up to speed developmentally. Call it Mother’s Intuition, but I’ve been waiting for this as I’ve watched him fall further and further behind his brother. Right now it only seems to be physical development. He has a huge vocabulary surpassing his brother, keeps up with social cues, enjoys interacting with his siblings, and enjoys trying new foods. He just has no desire to stand or walk. Anything that touches his feet sends him into a kicking frenzy, and he won’t put pressure on them. He hasn’t even started pulling up yet and he’s 14 months old.

We checked with his Endocrinologist to make sure it wasn’t his thyrhoid first, and now with our regular pediatrician out of ideas… we’re taking the plunge into SPD and the Spectrum. I know it isn’t really all that difficult to accommodate these days, which I’m thankful for in regards to B2’s future, and being vigilant, catching it early will give him the best possible opportunity to reach his full potential. 

At the same time, it’s nerve wrecking to be jumping into all of this stuff with so much uncertainty in our lives at the moment. Especially jumping from state to state where EVERYTHING is different.  

I also need to get Little into the Kindergarten evaluation and figure out if she’s eligible to enroll in our local district this year or if she’ll have to wait until next year. She’s doing great with everything except penmanship and some of her social skills are a little bit behind, but I mean… I’m 30 and most of my social skills are behind so she doesn’t exactly have the best roll model there. Lol. She cares about other kids, even if she’s a little behind the curve with sharing and personal space. That’s really the most important part, I think. 

Two entirely new adventures that I’ve never experienced before in my parenting journey. Both of them which would be much easier if I knew where we were going to live. It’s a little overwhelming and intimidating honestly. Especially since I’ve NEVER been involved in the public schooling/health system, even in my youth. 

Honey-Do

I had my Hubs this weekend. We had the opportunity to go out to dinner while my parents watched the kids for a few hours, plus with two adults in the house we each got the opportunity to spend some much needed one on one time with the kids. B2 was so excited to have his Mama and Daddy to himself for a while. None of the kids are neglected by any means, and I really don’t have any one of them that I relate to more than the other, but when it’s just me their one on one play time often gets cut short by another needing something. I still try to give them each as much individual attention as possible, it’s just not easy being on my own most of the time.

Hubs also helped me catch up on most of the housework that I had been trying, and miserably failing to keep up with this past week as ALL of the kids were exceptionally rambunctious for whatever reason. I normally vacuum twice a week, but last week I had the vacuum out every day often TWICE per day. Little was into everything. She generally gets into some things being 4, but I mean literally everything. She was literally following me around undoing any sort of organization I accomplished from pulling all the books off of the bookshelves, to tipping out the toy bucket, to unfolding laundry. That kid was a hellion last week. She dumped an entire box of goldfish crackers onto the floor and began jumping on them smashing them into the carpet while I was in the other room changing B1. Finally got all of those cleaned up, and she dumped out a box of cheese crackers, also smashing them while I was changing  B2!

I picked up all of the toys I don’t know how many times last week. Usually the toy bucket gets completely dumped once or twice a week, but last week? Every day. Sometimes twice. Little and B1 have come up with a game where B1 rides around in the toy bucket while Little pushes him, which is adorable to watch except for all of the toys being scattered hither and yon. lol. The Twins also decided that they would play a game every morning during breakfast. “Let’s Scatter EVERY SINGLE Cheerio Off of Our High Chair Trays and Onto the Carpet.” I honestly don’t actually know how much of their breakfast made it into their stomachs, because after dumping my little Bissell sweeper thing four times I estimated picking up an entire box of Cheerios.

It was so nice to have Hubs here just to sit with the kids while I caught everything up. He even made us brunch Sunday afternoon WITHOUT BEING ASKED. He’s always helpful around the house, but usually he waits until I’m asking him to complete a task for me. This weekend he just jumped in and helped, which was a super nice treat. We also found some nice houses we’re super interested in. Not at all where we were originally looking, but they are at least in Indiana so that’s exciting. One of them we were REALLY excited about was lakefront! There were some additional fees to live on the lake though, and it’s a pretty popular vacation lake. It’s still on our list of possibilities, but it’s kind of taken a back burner at least until we explore some of these other listings.

Apparently we were just looking on the wrong side of the state this entire time. Everything Hubs and I can agree on is just one county West of Nowheresville and a hop skip and jump away from Illinois. Maybe I will make it further West after all. lol. Slowly inching my way back to California one mile at a time.

50 Shades of Nope Revisited

It’s that time again! The wonderful (wrought with sarcasm there btw) time of year when the 50 Shades of Grey franchise is releasing yet another piece of trash. The collective popular rage has mostly subsided, but I’m still over here on my soap box. I’m beginning to equate my quest to that of the Lorax. One tiny little voice of warning, in a never ending din of popular opinion. At any rate, my take on the larger issue with 50 Shades of Grey, again and forever.

 

Okay… so this is something I’ve stayed out of until recently for several reasons.

1) I’m not exactly the poster child for healthy relationship dynamics.

2) What people like in the bedroom is as different and unique as the stars in the sky, and I don’t like to place judgement on anyone’s personal preferences as long as no one is getting hurt or taken advantage of.

3) I used to be that innocent 20 something just sort of starting out in life inexperienced, curious, and adventurous.

4) In 2011 when the book was first making it’s rounds, I wasn’t in a healthy place emotionally or mentally and couldn’t read it.

Now, on the eve of the movie release after skimming countless pro and con reviews (I still refuse to read the entire book and I’ll explain why here in a moment) I feel that I should speak up about this. I shared another article earlier this morning on my Facebook page which is in essence exactly how I feel.

These books do NOT portray a healthy BDSM dynamic. Not even a little bit. They are clearly a predator/prey scenario and it makes me insanely uncomfortable to read even the little snippets scattered through out the reviews, articles and opinions I’ve been scouring. That is the primary reason I refuse to read them, the secondary reason is that the writing is just BAD. I mean my blogging is very casual and relaxed, I let my grammar and spelling slide a lot of the time, but it’s not a published work. It’s just here sitting on the interwebs for anyone who wants to read it. I’m not representing anyone aside from myself. 50 Shades feels like it was written by a 13yr old locked away in a basement somewhere… but starting out it’s roots in Twilight fan fiction, perhaps that was why it comes across that way.

The third and really most important reason I refuse to support this book in anyway shape or form is how it romanticizes abusive relationships. Those who haven’t experienced one will now be looking for one. Great for the abusers out there, not so much for the hapless victims. Abusive relationships are NOT FUN. Not only are they not fun, they are NOT HEALTHY. Even the relationships where the abuse isn’t outright physical abuse still have a profound effect on you mentally, which in turn affects your physical health as well. Speaking from experience when you are in the middle of an abusive relationship it’s pretty difficult to see. Infatuation, hormones, manipulation will do that to you. I can see where the character gets lured in and I understand the way she felt, that part of the book is accurate. It’s the inaccurate parts that scare me. The way that she is somehow eventually empowered and turns the tables on whats his face? Yeah. No. That most definitely doesn’t happen.

Abusers are abusers are abusers. There is no saving grace that any partner can give them, no amount of empowerment that will suddenly shift the paradigm and save the day. Sorry charlie, it ain’t happening. In fact if we’re being 100% honest here, the only reason I’m not still with my abusive partner is because he left. (Yes, he left me. Christian Grey he is not) Even after I figured out the dynamic between us was less of a relationship and more of a some one to keep the sheets warm I chose to stay. I knew he was abusive, I knew he was seeing other women, and I chose to stay. Why? Because I knew WHY he was abusive. I saw right through the lies and bullshit to who he really was and what was really going on. Anyone who has been through the things he had been through would end up jaded, apathetic, looking out for no one but themselves. It didn’t matter to me. I wanted to be the strength and stability lacking in his life, wishing, hoping and praying that in a safe environment he would mellow out. Which he did for a while, until the rug got pulled out from under him and he lost control. Still… there I was forever by his side. A coin toss, some threats, midnight screaming at my front door, cyber stalking, slashed tires, two states, 200 miles, what feels like a million years and more threats later… here we are. He’s still damaged, and I’m technically in hiding. The blog is the only thing I have remaining of my old life and I run it through a million security measures just in case. Even with those security measures in place anything I write here is a risk to my safety, especially when I mention him or my past. What did my loyalty, understanding, and compassion accomplish, hmm? Absolutely nothing. Teaching young women that “all it takes is love” to change an abusive partner is DANGEROUS.

I had to figure it out the hard way, and I’ll be damned if pop culture is going to normalize, and glamorize this type of behavior. I have a daughter. I don’t want her growing up in a world where that type of behavior is okay. Where she thinks to be a strong empowered woman she has to put herself through hell, when she falls for a super cute boy with a little extra baggage. The only thing that can change an abusive partner is their personal choice to make a change. Which IS POSSIBLE, but very rare, especially in adulthood. Undoing years of psychological damage and inappropriate coping mechanisms takes time, and dear God is it painful. Convincing someone that enduring months and years of emotional pain so they can properly heal and stop being abusive takes nothing short of a miracle. You want to see empowerment after abuse? Here you go. This is it. It’s not some happily ever after relationship bliss. It’s messy, it’s frightening, but it’s also important which is why I’m here publishing this.

I understand the books are fiction. They aren’t meant to be taken literally or seriously, but in a day and age when people idolize the mundane, and get 90% of their education from satire or fictional sources, who’s going to sit here and distinguish between fantasy and reality? How many young girls are going to inadvertently victimize themselves in order to “save” abusers? It happens all the time NOW, before the dynamic was thrown into the public eye as an acceptable alternative life style. What’s going to happen after all of this?

And let me clarify again, I’m not talking about BDSM. If it was an innocent display of BDSM okay, whatever. People like what they like and as long as both partners are completely consenting more power to you. If that’s what this book and movie were truly about I would have no complaints. BDSM is hijacked by this book/film and used as a mask for inappropriate behavior, and yet for some reason the mainstream media is completely okay with this. It would be like using interracial relationships to say that it’s okay for men to abusive women as long as they are of a different race. Would that go over well? No. I don’t think so, yet for some reason representing BDSM a fairly taboo and misunderstood relationship dynamic as an “excuse” for abuse is totally okay.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY. I know there are a few people reading this thinking: “Sure, sit there on your Mega Traditional Heterosexual Relationship high horse and pass judgement on all the rest of us.” Um… yeah. Maybe NOW I have that, but what I have currently and what I’ve experienced or enjoy are shockingly different. (Yay Borderline!) Being submissive, adventurous, pursued is fun in the right context. Being stalked, raped, abused, and taken advantage of is NOT. There is a DEFINITE difference. Night and day. Black and white. All I see in this book/film is abuse, but I suppose if I were to play the devil’s advocate, maybe all I see is abuse because the author has such bad prose and no idea what she’s actually talking about. One can only hope…

Lost Words Found

Now that time has passed, and emotions have settled down a little bit I’m not as upset as I was about the recent executive orders. I don’t agree with them, and I think now in the current political climate with fear and hatred rising to the boiling point that things could have been handled differently by the administration. The order was basically a copy cat order from the Obama Administration several years prior. I was just as appalled at that one, btw, yet I can understand the grounds by which both were issued.

That being said… 2011 when Obama issued his version of the travel ban it wasn’t post a very heated election year on the heels of massive protesting for various issues. It didn’t fuel dissent, chaos, and inspire an influx in irrational violent behavior toward those whom the ban was directed at. It wasn’t twisted around by the media and reported as an attack on liberty, furthering misunderstanding and dissent. It still was decried as unconstitutional, and bitterly disapproved by the majority of the popular opinion, but it was at least issued with some sense of decorum.

The Trump Administration is lacking in many things but one of the biggest is decorum. Of course they’re all new to the job, business oriented and unconcerned with approval ratings or popularity. That’s why many people wanted him in office in the first place, yet a great many of them are now realizing how detrimental cut throat, no nonesense buisness tactics translate into the political arena which basically is a giant popularity contest. 

Things are going to get much worse before they get “great again”. I only hope we as a country can survive through it all.

Hallelujah House Hunting!

Our realtor talked Hubs out of the trailer just in the nick of time. We’re back to looking at brick and mortar homes in the burbs. I’m disappointed we have to stay in Ohio indefinitely, BUT I’m relieved Hubs didn’t waste our investment. I’m actually heading up to Indy here this afternoon to look at a few more homes, so hopefully we find something that will work sooner than later. 

Everyone is hanging on to their homes with the political upheaval, and those who choose to sell are sticking to their guns and asking exhorbant prices, which isn’t keeping anything on the market much longer than a few weeks even still. It worked in our favor going to sell, not so much looking to buy. I also keep hounding Hubs about looking for employment here since we have an affordable place to live. He’s not entirely sold on the idea but I think he’s at least looking into it again. 

The company he works for is a really good company, the benefits are awesome, and he actually gets a pension as well as his retirement fund. If we could find a damn house close by it would be beneficial for him to stay where he is. We can’t seem to find both in one place, and it’s coming up on a year. Patience isn’t one of my strong suites…. but I’m getting much better lol. 

I’m just hoping that one of these homes I’m going to look at today is our future home. 

Words Are Lost 

This is going to be a jumble of fairly inarticulate word vomit, fair warning. 

My grandparents are immigrants. I live in the US. My father’s father was born on the boat over from Ireland, and his mother born in Canada of Irish/French decent. They legally emigrated to the US in the early 1920’s, as Irish Catholics. I’m only a second generation American. It’s not like the idea of the American dream has been lost with hundreds of years or several generations. I’ve always considered it a very real and tangible thing. 

My grandfather joined the circus at age 11 to escape the slums of South Boston, eventually working his way up from tent man to his own motorcycle stunt act. He met my grandmother while they were both serving in the US Military during World War II, they were married and spent most of their early post service life traveling with my dad and his seven brothers and sisters around the country in a converted school bus, painting signs until they eventually made enough money to settle in Anaheim California. 

My father enthusiastically voted for President Trump. His own father worked so hard to fulfill the American dream. Not figuratively, but literally fought with blood, sweat and tears to overcome negative and derogatory stereotypes placed on Irish Catholics in the 20’s to provide a better life for his children and it never even occurred to my father that these new executive orders Trump just signed have robbed so many other children of the same opportunities simply because they happen to be of Middle Eastern decent and call them selves Muslim. 

If a leader like Trump had come along a hundred years ago when the country’s fear was focused on Catholicism, and immigrants of Irish decent? Life as my family knows it wouldn’t exist. My father in all likelihood wouldn’t have been born, my grandparents never meeting or being able to make a successful life outside of Ireland or Canada. How soon we forget when life has been relatively easy for us. 

I’m aware that other Administrations have issued similar orders, and the supposed reasoning behind it to protect Americans from terror attacks makes sense. On a big picture scale, it very well could be what’s best for the country as a whole. That remains to be seen, and no one will know for certain until more time has passed. What breaks my heart watching all of this unfold being so closely related to immigrants myself, is (to borrow a term from a fellow blogger don of all trades) all of the “little pictures” that have been figuratively and literally set aflame by the haphazard nature of the way these policies have been implemented with Trump’s authoritarian gives no fucks attitude. 

In the business world, it doesn’t matter what happens to the little people as long as profits are made. Politics is a much more volatile areana than the business sector, and shouldn’t be handled so flippantly. These decisions affect the entire world not only our borders and repercussions will be felt for generations to come even if Trump’s “reign” is only for the next four years. What’s to say that a small, innocent, adolescent child dreaming of a safe home in America is turned away fostering a passionate hatered of our Western way of life and revenge? The next Osama bin Laden could be a Syrian refugee, callously turned away from our borders. 

Sure, that’s purely theoretical, but it’s also very tangible in today’s world. It’s not as far fetched as it used to be. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m a survivor of significant trauma myself that I can empathize so closely to those who are suffering through this. I know what happens when you live through hell, and how good, decent human beings can silence their conscious all in the name of survival.

Monsters are rarely born; they’re made. For the future of humanity I can only hope the next great tragedy does not gain its roots in Trump’s egotistical policies. 

When It Feels Like Losing

Every Friday Spotify issues an automated play list called Release Radar. Often it isn’t the latest releases but some from a few weeks back. This song shuffled in last Friday, and it really struck a cord with my own personal struggles with self doubt recently.

I know I’m on the right path for healing from the various abuses I’ve survived. I have an excellent therapist guiding my way, friends, support groups, and healthy coping mechanisms. I’m on the right track, in all essence ever so slowly winning the battle against my mental illness. Yet are times when I feel like I’ve lost such a vital part of my world, moving away from all of the unhealthy things that I’ve been exposed to since birth. My rational mind says: this is a good thing. This is healthy, and this is necessary. My emotional heart says: OMG PANIC. YOU ARE SACRIFICING YOURSELF, THE VERY FIBER OF YOUR BEING, YOU AND THIS BREAKAWAY FROM THESE COMFORTABLE, FAMILIAR THINGS IS SO DEVASTATINGLY WRONG.

Being someone who’s always relied on my emotions to serve as a compass for my actions, it’s been so overwhelmingly difficult to continue to make the right choices in the face of adversity. It feels like I’m losing everything that made up my identity in favor of a new one. It feels like I’m creating the false self that I’ve been fighting for so long. It feels that way, but the more I learn the more I continue on this path I’ve come to realize that the things that shaped my identity in the past were my survival instincts in overdrive. The identity I’m losing is the protective false self shell. I don’t want to live in that shell anymore even as painful as it is to consciously, and mindfully separate myself from it.

I am winning, even though my heart feels lost right now.