Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Story

"All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to..."
-Brandi Carlile

I have probably used this quote before. It is one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists. I urge you to look it up if you do not know it.

So why write about it? Well, I have a story to tell.

About a month ago, I started seeing a therapist. I felt stuck in my day to day life and that started to turn into anxiety and frustration. So I decided to ask for help.

I have been pleased with my progress so far. I have identified some "triggers" for me that cause me to behave in a certain way and I have learned to be more introspective. I am a work-in-progress and have to realize to be patient with myself. What I am now is 42 years in the making and it can't be undone or "fixed" in a few hours a month. 

I had a session this morning. About half-way through, we started talking about depression and how worried I am about how depression may impact me since it runs in my family. I talked about my father's sister and how she committed suicide when I was in high school. I talked about some of my own insecurities and fears. I talked about my relationship with my father and how that shaped me.

My therapist had no idea my dad was gay. She did now know there was a huge custody battle when I was a teenager. She did not know my dad once owned his own company. She did not know anything about him aside from the fact that he was gone.

This was MIND BLOWING to me. In the past, my dad's story - who he was to me, how he was not really there for me, how he played my brothers and I against each other - was always MY story. His highs and lows were often my highs and lows. His existence defined mine.

But that was then. And this is now. In the now, my dad is a footnote. A part of my past that is worth revisiting and exploring, but not a main chapter. I am my own chapter now.

I do not know when he stopped being a main character. It was long before he died. Was it when I finally let myself be the center of my story? I do not know. 

There was a lot of good about my dad. There was also a lot of not so good. Identifying all of those aspects will help me tell the story of who I am and who I want to be.

The older I get, the more I experience, the bigger my story gets. 

Thanks for sticking around and continuing to read it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Past is my Present

5 years ago today, I was sitting at work. I had no idea that in a few short days, my life would come crashing down around me.

5 years ago, I was checking baby registries and buying baby clothes and thinking about my new niece who was just born and imagining that they were going to be the best of friends.

5 years ago, I was naive and innocent and probably even smug. At almost 37 weeks pregnant, I thought the hard part was behind me. All the appointments and tests and monitoring and anxiety would all be over and once I survived labor, I would have the most precious gift in the universe to call mine.

April 19, 2011. I felt her kick. I dreamed of her face.
April 19, 2016. I still miss her kicks. I still dream of her face.

How do you miss someone you never really knew? Ah, well, I did know her, right? I knew that little girl of porcelain skin and curly dark hair. I knew her as she knew me - from the inside out. And although I only held her in my arms after her life had ended, that does not mean I did not get to know her.

Allison. My Allie. How has it been almost 5 years? Her birthday is Friday. Earth Day. Seems fitting.

She was the only baby I conceived. She was the only baby that ever grew inside my body. We shared flesh and blood and so much more. She was the only being who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.

She made me a mom. She made me realize that I needed to keep on being a mom and pushed us to become parents again. 

This week is hard. My arms ache for her even more than usual.

No one should have to bury a child. That is a grief unlike any other.

I try to leave the past in the past and live in the present. This week, the past is my present. It just is.

I love you, sweet butterfly. For as long as I am alive, so to are you.

Happy almost birthday.

Image drawn by portraitsbydana.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hey, No Pressure

"I hate to see you breaking down (hey, no pressure)
I hate to watch you fall apart (hey, no pressure)
I want to help you through it all (hey, no pressure, hey, no pressure)
I want to lift you when you fall (hey, no pressure, hey, no pressure)"
-Ray LaMontagne

I have been a Ray LaMontage fan for ages. My brother, sister-in-law and I have seen him in concert many times. "You Are The Best Thing" was one of our wedding songs. So it's fair to say I like his music a lot.

Last night I downloaded his new album and this morning I listened to it at the gym. He is a bluesy, folksy kind of singer and not usually gym soundtrack material, but I just did not want to wait!

Song 2 - Hey, No Pressure. I was like...,"Ray? Are you singing directly to me?"

I have been under so much pressure of late and felt that I could directly relate to this song. I think that is why I like music so much. It often speaks to me directly.

When I left my job last month, much of that pressure was relieved. When I started really exercising again and taking care of myself, more of that pressure was relieved. In a few short weeks, I feel like I am coming back to myself and that is a great feeling. The pressure is less and less.

I get so caught up in myself when I am feeling bad that I tend to forget how to feel good.

I am back in control of my life and it feels good. It's so easy to get lost along the way.

Miranda and I were playing yesterday and out of the blue, she asked me if Zoe was all better and could come back home now. I explained (for the umpteenth time) that Zoe was in kitty cat heaven and wasn't coming back. She looked defiant and sad. She said she wanted her back.

That conversation broke my heart. 

Over the weekend, Miranda pulled a butterfly magnet off the fridge and brought it over to me and said it was "Allie the butterfly". 

That exchange warmed my heart.

Miranda is going to be introduced (and already is introduced!) to a lot of concepts in life earlier than I would prefer. In order for me to really be there for her and be the sounding board and support that I want to be, I need to take the pressure off myself and really take care of myself. Luckily, I am well on my way.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Back To Good

In 16 days, Allie will be 5. 

I have not bought her a single gift. I have not sent out invitations to a party. I have not registered her for kindergarten. I have not signed her for swim lessons this summer.

And I never will.

Allie is never far from my mind. The truth is, though, most days I can think about her and be happy - or sad - and go about my day. I have her sister to take care of, after all.

Something happened to me this year. I am not sure when. December? January? It's been a while now and I have been just ignoring it. The guilt I feel over her not being here has come back. The anger, the depression, the anxiety - check, check, check. I felt low and did not even know that I was acting low, too. I have been tired, lethargic and just generally down. Not all days, mind you, but many.

So I decided to get help. I did not get this far in my life to let myself get that low for that long. I sought out a therapist. One who deals with eating disorders. I then went to see a nutritionist. One who is helping me learn to not "diet" but to eat healthy and take care of myself and make smart choices with my food. In other words, make the kind of choices for me that I make for Miranda.

I have always turned to food in times of, well, anything. If you can relate to that, then I hope this blog helps you realize you are not alone. If you can't, then I hope you realize that all people handle their battles and demons in different ways.

I feel like I am blaming Allie's 5th birthday on my downward spiral. But to be a real adult about it, the only person I can really blame is me. I have to re-learn how to deal with my grief and sadness without binging. I need to "fill the emptiness" in other ways.

So I am sharing my story. Again. When I make my journey public, I feel like I am letting it go. Then I can focus on me.

We joined the YMCA this week. I have already exercised there twice. It feels good to take care of me again. I got some freelance work to do this week. It will be good to get into that groove again, too. Then I will focus on more workouts and more clients.

We decided on a family picnic on Allie's birthday. Gary is taking the day off and we are going to back a basket (of healthy foods!) and go sit by Allie's tree and eat lunch and remember her. Miranda can play on the playground near by and Gary and I can use the swings. We will bring her a little cake and sing to her and celebrate her as best as we can. 

As for the rest of the days? Well, we will take care of ourselves to make sure we are always here to remember her. That's the least we can do.

Learning to Love Yourself No Matter What

One of the problems with being a writer is that I use words as therapy. By writing my thoughts and feelings, I can often make sense of the w...