adult children

Advancing ahead

I made it to and through my Advanced Word class on Friday and didn’t nod off once! Yay, me! I was kind of shocked considering the fact that, between fireworks, physical discomfort, and my brain, I didn’t sleep much or well.

I think a major difference is that I wasn’t already familiar with much of the material. So, I was actually learning and not just rehashing what I already knew.

Interestingly, it was my lowest assessment score of all seven MS Office classes I’ve taken so far. I’m kind of an intellectual perfectionist (trying to let that go). So, less than 100% causes an internal twinge and tic. Which is absolutely ridiculous because my score was over 90%.

Enough about that.

I’ve got two more computer classes to take, then I’ll be done with what Goodwill has to offer. Power Point is scheduled for Monday. Google got moved to the 24th when I went to the doctor about the sleep issues, which I discussed here.

I’m feeling antsy, like I’m kind of spinning my wheels. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I really want to work as a Mental Health Peer Support Specialist…which requires certification through the state. Certification classes usually cost money…of which I have none.

I had applied to the local NAMI affiliate, which offers a free certification class. Unfortunately, there were only 20 spots and 80 applicants. Preference is given to those already volunteering or employed in peer support work. So, I was part of the unfortunate majority.

Fortunately, I had already signed up for their Peer to Peer class, designed as an educational and practical class for those experiencing mental illness, led by those experiencing mental illness. I was already familiar with a significant amount we went over yesterday. However, it’s only the second class and I missed the first one – which I’d arranged when I signed up.

Towards the end of class, one of the leaders made a plea for volunteers to speak and share their stories at schools, businesses, and out in the community. There are also opportunities for training to become class leaders. They need leaders for the Peer to Peer class, which I’m in. They also need leaders for two other classes I plan on taking: the Family to Family class for those who have loved ones who experience mental illness and the Basics class for parents actively parenting children with mental health issues. Since both of my adult children experience their own mental heath issues, as does my 10 year old, who experiences life through the Autism Spectrum, I feel these classes will be helpful to me on a personal level and, potentially, on a professional one.

So, after class, I had a brief conversation with the leader who is in charge of speaker recruitment and got the Volunteer Interest Form. I explained to him what my employment goal is and he enthusiastically asked if I was taking their certification program. When I explained I’d applied but not gotten in, he looked slightly surprised – as if he felt I should have been accepted. I explained why and he seemed to have an objection to my exclusion, but said that I was in his class now, which supports my goal. I agreed.

I completed the Volunteer form and pretty much checked off all the things – including the office/admin support roles. So, we’ll see where things go from here.

Wish me luck!

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Not Alone

I seem to be straying from my original intent to focus on my job readiness journey this month. But, perhaps not. Today, I’m talking about mental health.

Here’s why: If you’re struggling with mental illness or emotional instability OR you have a loved one who is OR you have experienced trauma OR any combination of the aforementioned, you need to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I want you to know that, despite however weak, fragile, overwhelmed, and incapable you may feel right now, you are one of the strongest, most courageous people you know.

Feeling the way you feel, experiencing anxiety, depression, hyper-reactivity, mania, having compulsive self-harming behaviors, experiencing suicidal thoughts, or any other “wrong” thing does not mean you are “less than,” unworthy, insignificant, or “damaged beyond repair.”

You see, I’ve been there. Some days I’m still there. I have friends and family who have been or are there. I’ve known those who didn’t make it and know those who make it one day at a time, if not moment by moment.

Last night I had the privilege to speak with another mom, who is facing and navigating challenges similar to those I have experienced – some of which I’ve come out on the other side of and some that will ever be with me. A history of physical and mental trauma, mental illness, and parenting a child with mental health and behavioral challenges through childhood and into adulthood.

Feelings of loneliness, isolation, despair, and thoughts of permanently packing it in are all things I’m more than familiar with and gave me the empathy she needed. I was able to listen with understanding. I had knowledge of resources and professionals better equipped to help her than I am to offer her. I was able to share some of my stories, giving her hope and shoring up her faith.

By the end of the call, we had established a rapport and a bond borne of shared experience and the knowledge that neither of us is alone in our struggle. She seemed genuinely hopeful, a 180 degree turnaround from where she was when we first began talking.

My lived experience of surviving trauma and mental illness has equipped me to be of service to others who are living through similar things. Even though I still have my struggles and even though I’ll never be “fully” healed and recovered, I’m far enough along that I have something good to offer.

I have a friend who says, “God doesn’t waste a wound.”

While I am not of the belief that God punishes and wounds us by causing trauma and devastation in our lives, I do believe he is present in and with us throughout these things. Furthermore, I believe that, if we are able to participate in the healing process, he redeems our personal tragedies in ways that can bring good.

This is what I want to do with my life. I want to walk alongside others on this healing and recovery journey, bolstering them up when they’re walk is shaky and help them stand back up, dust off, and get going again.

That’s what it’s about, right?

We all stumble. We all fall. We all get exhausted, worn down, and overwhelmed. We all need a little help getting by.

Now, due to several factors, prior student debt to a private institution being chief among them, going back to college isn’t a feasible option. Especially if I want to start working ASAP.

What I CAN do is get a certification to be a Mental Health Peer Support Specialist.

I didn’t get into the certification training I wanted to, this go around. But, I’m only getting started and there are other things I can do while I figure out how to access the training I need.

Today I start a Peer to Peer class put on by NAMI – the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It will help me be less isolated on my own journey and add to my toolbox of coping skills.

Wish me luck!

My whys


I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I joined WW (formerly Weight Watchers) mid-September this year. I have a laundry list (Why “laundry”? Wouldn’t “shopping” make more sense? I think so, too). Correction, shopping list of whys. Not the least of which is Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, a rare disorder of the ankle, similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Here’s the complete list:
Family – I have two adult children (32 & 25), three grandchildren (4,3, & 1), and a nearly 10 year old on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum and who experiences ADHD.

Physical Health – Fibromyalgia, Hypothyroidism, Type 2 Diabetes, Sleep Apnea, High Cholesterol, and Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome.

Mental Health – Bipolar 2 Disorder, PTSD, Depression, Binge Eating Disorder.

Because I’m worthy of self-love and self-care.

I’ve spent nearly five years of hard work to reach this point. I had been a toxic person in a toxic relationship. I had severely broken relationships with my two adult children. I was so overwhelmed and depressed I was barely functional. I was so consumed with self-loathing that I hid from the world, making myself sicker and sicker, consuming all the food and media I could numb out on.

Now, I’m working on staying centered in the here and now, continuing to heal, grow, and build relationships with my children, engaging with the world and people around me, and learning how to treat myself with the care, compassion, and love I have and want to have for each person I encounter.

It’s past time for me to become the best version of myself.

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Writing Prompt: Skylark Challenge 151, 2nd Entry


Poison, Scent, Fluid, Shattered, Pale


The fluid had a pleasant scent, obfuscating the poison. He turned pale, as it went to work. The cup shattered as it hit the floor.

She came into the room, horror evident in her eyes. Right then she knew. He had framed her for his murder which was a suicide.

Cold fear gripped her heart. Squeezing her chest, it made her forget to breathe. Pain shooting up her arm, she collapsed to the floor, beside the one who had made her life misery. She gave up on her life, knowing he’d achieved his goal.

“Mom! Dad! I’m home and I’ve got a surprise,” their son announced later that day, as he unlocked the front door and entered with his fiancé…never imagining their life together was over before it had begun.

They could never get past the vision of a marriage of such hidden unhappiness, ending in in such horrific and tragic darkness.

His death certificate read: Death by poison, suspicious circumstances. Hers: Death by heart attack, natural. The headline read: Wife poisons husband, dies of a broken heart.

On NOT Being a Creepy Stalker Mom

I may have mentioned on several occasions that I’m a bit of a tv hound. During depressed period or times when I’m in a fibro-flare, often the two coincide, playing on each other, or days when I’m so sick with the flu I can’t sit upright, I may watch an entire season of say, Desperate Housewives or Warehouse 13. Don’t judge, the psyche needs what it needs, when it needs it. I don’t have a Netflix account, but what I do have is On Demand and a DVR to record shows. On Demand shows are often programmed to where the fast forward feature has been disabled to prevent viewers from bypassing the commercials, but DVR? Now that is the ideal for those who want to control if they watch a commercial or not.

I don’t generally mind the commercials. I tune them out and do something else for the three to five minutes it takes to get through seven to ten commercials. Sometimes, I’m even captivated by the humor and inanity of some commercials, especially the ones which use incredibly talented actors in interesting ways: an Allstate commercial with Dennis Haysbert’s voice coming out of the mouth of a woman, James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell performing Jenna’s Facebook Friend Request, Samuel L. Jackson espousing the benefits of the Capitol One Quicksilver Credit Card. However, some commercials just weird me out.

Like what I call the “Old Spice Creepy Stalker Mom” commercial.

I posted my response to this commercial on facebook the other day and my new friend, Janice, from crazygoodparent.com, shared how she completely understood the message behind this commercial from her own personal experience.

The thing is, I get it too. All too well. Having a 27 year old son whom I’m so estranged from that he decided to get legally adopted, as an adult, by another family in order to change his name, effectively cutting all legal ties to me, before he got married and started his new life was kind of the ultimate “cutting the apron strings” experience.

He approached me in April 2012 to inform me that he and the other family were investigating and contemplating taking this step. I understood it then and I knew that while part of the underlying motivation may have been to hurt me the way I’d hurt him over the years, that the true motivation had very little to do with me, my wants, my needs, my desires, or my feelings. His decision and theirs was about them, their relationship, the love and care they have for each other, the sense of belonging and family they experienced with each other, the sense of love, safety, and acceptance that he was finally able to receive and internalize because of the relationship he has with them. Things which I have never experienced in my own life as a child or adult and things I didn’t know how to provide for him.

I was happy for him that he finally had that.

I was heartbroken for me that I hadn’t been able to give that to him myself. However, I was also proud of myself for having done what I could to facilitate and encourage that relationship between him and them, so that when he needed it most and I was least capable of being that parent for him, that he got to experience that kind of unconditional and redemptive love.

I told him that he would always be my son and I would always love him and that I was going to do my best to heal and grow so that when he was ready to have a relationship with me, I would be ready and available to be in relationship with him in those ways.

In the almost two years since that conversation, we have had several periods where he has chosen not to have anything to do with me. Throughout it all, we’ve had several stilted phone conversations and guarded, cautious face to face encounters. We’ve also had moments when there was acceptance, love, forgiveness, and happiness between us. Each time one of the latter moments happened, my inner being was flying high in exultation and hope that this would be the breakthrough moment that restored our relationship. Without fail, those moments were soon followed by the periods of rejection and avoidance.

Those periods of rejection and avoidance are the periods when I feel an itching desire to become the creepy stalker mom of my nearly 30 year old son. I get it. I really do.

Here’s the thing: My validation, purpose, and sense of self is not the responsibility or purpose of my son or my other children. It is not his/their job or responsibility to fill my life with meaning by including and inviting me into their lives. Even if everything was perfect between us and we didn’t have the history we have, the child is now an adult, with a wife, a job, a faith community, friends, and new family members which have nothing to do with me or my life. He does not define me or my life and I do not define him or his.

This Old Spice commercial is about enmeshment and the emotional and psychological immaturity of a mother who does not know who she is without the context of her son being the center of her life and her world who craves and needs him to make her the center of his world. It’s an exaggerated and distorted picture of the dysfunction of a woman who believes her only identity and purpose is to mother her son.

Genesis 2:24

24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. ~ Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

As moms our jobs are to figure out who we are as individual people so we can help our children figure out who they are as individual people, in order to prepare and equip them to leave us behind and create their own lives and relationships.

Life update and seeking a sense of safety

It’s hard to believe it’s only 15 days into 2014. I feel as if it’s already been three months, so much has happened in such a short period of time. I feel a need to decompress. This means it’s time to just write about the stuff that’s been going on for me in my life.

On New Year’s Day, I was alone again the way I had been on Christmas Day. I also wound up being under attack from the toxic texting that tends to happen when Keith is on his roller coaster of emotions from the way things have gone and his feelings about the choices and decisions I have made regarding our relationship and us living together. It’s hard for him to see and understand that although I still love him and that I do recognize and understand he has made efforts to grow and change, the reality is for me and for our daughter at least, the way things were between the two of us, was dysfunctional and having negative impacts on our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

I do not place fault or blame solely on him, his anger, or the critical atmosphere which he grew up internalizing. It’s only half the story. The other half of the story is my depression and my seeming inability to develop, maintin, and grow in self-esteem and doing the things I need to do for my self-care when I am in relationship with him in the midst of the tension, conflict, anger, and criticism. I have a complete lack of self-will and self-determination to do anything other than to enable him in his anger and emotional dysfunction and that depth of codependency is mine and much like the impact of an alcoholic who cannot function and drink at the same time, to the point that he sacrifices all else in life, in my codependent state and relationship with Keith, I have sacrificed everything on the altar of his dysfunction. I am powerless over it when we are living together, which is something that others in our lives cannot understand, accept, condone, or approve of because it means they are not treated well by either Keith or myself and has caused them harm, whether we intended harm or not.

Hand in hand with the codependency is my habitual self-harm behavior using food. Both the codependency and the food have been ways for me to distract, detract, numb out, and avoid dealing with the unresolved emotional and psychological traumas I’ve experienced in my life. Things which I have accepted in my life and thought accepting was enough to deal with them. However, true acceptance doesn’t happen if there are false beliefs attached to the acceptance. So, the acceptance of the childhood abuse, neglect, and abandonment which led to three years of domestic violence abuse by my son’s father in my late adolescence, all was predicated on the false belief that I was responsible in one way or another for any and all of those things or that I somehow deserved or that I wasn’t worthy of having experienced anything other than what I had.

Monday of this week my son showed up unexpectedly and unannounced. After having spent the previous week sick with the flu and having just come from being in the home with Keith during his weekend time with Luna because I was too sick to go anywhere else and it was his time to be in this space with Luna, there had been some predictable negative interactions and I was feeling raw and emotionally vulnerable. So, I really wasn’t prepared to interact with my son, especially since the last communication from him toward me was to announce on Facebook in response to a comment I’d made on his sister’s status update that I had given up my right to have an opinion or some such thing then unfriend me a little over a month ago, after the precipitating incident that caused LaLa and her SpiritLove to move out and me to leave three days later. I just really didn’t know how emotionally and psychologically safe we would be with each other once I opened the door and allowed him to come inside. But, I love him and I’m committed to being able to have a relationship with him, so I took the risk and opened the door anyway. I’m glad I did.

He shared with me something that another family member of ours, my younger cousin who is about 2-3 years older than he is, had told him. She’d let him know that when she was growing up and going through the things she was experiencing, I had been her safe person and given her a safe place to come to in her childhood when she didn’t have any other place to go to and feel a sense of safety. It was the first time he’d ever encountered anyone having that kind of perspective on me and the kind of person I have been. It was certainly not the way he has experienced me in his life and not like anything he remembers from his childhood. Apparently, it made him consider me in a different light and he was able to come to the realization that I attempted to give him and his sister safety and be a safe person for them as much as I ever had attempted it for our cousin. It was such a relief to hear him tell me that.

It also triggered more grief and realization inside of myself because I now understand that I never had a safe person or a safe place while growing up and I have carried that lack of safety with me the entirety of my adult life. Even when I am in safe places with safe people, I do not experience a sense of safety. I think that sense of safety is that sense of homecoming I’ve only ever experienced with one other human being and I think that lack of sense of safety is one of my biggest barriers in my relationship with God, myself, and others.

Hypomania is breaking my brain…

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I started writing this sometime late last night, I forget exactly what time. Then, midway through I finally was able to go to sleep – fitfully, intermittently, for several hours. The hypomania is over, but it triggered the fibromyalgia and I hurt everywhere and have a lot of fatigue in every area of my body’s core. My brain is foggy and disorented. I want to try to get more sleep, but it’s 8:30 a.m. and I want to try to capture these thoughts before they disappear in the midst of the hustle and bustle after everyone else wakes up…they just woke up, crap. Well, let me try anyway.

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I know I need to finish the story I began about managing hypomania, but to be perfectly honest, I think it’s managing me at the moment and today, erm yesterday by now I guess, was a a hellofaday.

I can’t quite remember what time I first woke up on Tuesday morning, but I’m pretty sure it was some time between 3:30 and 4:30 am, after not getting to sleep until well after midnight. I guess that should have been my first hint, huh?

I got so much accomplished with my writing and organizing the online and digital aspects of what I’m trying to do with my life that morning. I picked up a number of balls I had kept dropping and started getting the guest blogging project a little better connected. It’s still kind of in the organization stage, except, it really isn’t. Although, I have taken steps forward to make it happen.

Anyway, since then I was pretty much awake throughout the entirety of Wednesday, until I catnapped off and on some time between 1:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. then it was time to get ready to go walk almost a mile to pick up the Zipcar to get Keith back on the truck so he could get back on the road and hopefully start getting consistent miles and loads that will start supporting our family and let us catch up on the bills again…but that’s all supposed to be in the other post I started writing yesterday and couldn’t stay focused on. I will get to it, I promise. Unless I don’t.

So, anyway, I think I slept between 3:30 – 5:30 this morning…again with the dozing off/on. I crashed listening to my iPod with actual headphones, on this uncomfortable excuse of a couch the cat destroyed at the beginning of February. It wasn’t much of a sleep because I remember being semi-aware off/on during the time trying to tell myself to take the headphones off because the music was not helping me sleep and the headphones were uncomfortable to sleep in. Yet I was in such a state that I couldn’t actually take action on those thoughts.

I use actual over-the-head ones instead of ear buds because earbuds hurt, are uncomfortable and make me feel a bit crazier than I already feel. But I digress…again.

Thankfully? LaLa and her SpiritLove were here Thursday night because I knew there was no way I was going to get to sleep and Luna, having had to say goodbye to her daddy would be clingy and needing to have that physical contact with me to get to sleep or stay asleep. I knew there was no way I would be able to stay in bed with her and that me leaving the bed would eventually cause her to wake up. Since she had been woken up at 5 am so we could take him to his truck and she’d had a VERY busy day and needed rest. So, I had them lay down with her in the bedroom. I figured those who can actually fall asleep should be in one room actually sleeping on a bed, while I was awake in the other room, otherwise I was going to be lying awake, fidgeting and fussing inside of my mind all night and resenting not being able to do anything because all the rooms I could be in had to be kept dark and quiet so they could get the sleep I couldn’t

Sleep envy isn’t pretty. Just sayin’.

I did wind up napping off/on for a couple of hourse between 3:30 – 5:30 but don’t know how much actual sleep I got then either.

I guess the basic point is that from Tuesday morning around 4:30 am until about 1:30 am this Saturday morning, I had barely any sleep at all.

Yesterday was spent with me trying to stave off the bitchy irritability and stress reactions that come with sleep deprivation. On top of it, I discovered that some REALLY IMPORTANT PAPERS, I thought I knew where I had put them for safekeeping needed to be taken to the management office of our apartment, and I couldn’t find them. There was some relational tension happening between LaLa and her SpiritLove and the combination of their tense energy mixed in with my frustration over not being able to find the papers and I wound up tamping down on the rising feelings of panic and anxiety in order to not overescalate any of it.

The combination of all of that with the sleep deprivation and the hypomania I was still experiencing meant that as the day got further and further along, my ability to stay focused on what I was trying to write about diminished. So by the time the five o’clock hour came that evening I was hyper irritable and feeling rather explosive.

Luna was tired and crabby, and as kids tend to be, the emotional barometer of all the frenetic and negative energy that had been building up. So, she was basically acting out, not listening, climbing over everyone and everything, whining, demanding, and just generally acting like an exhausted and stressed out little kid.

I wound up snapping at her and yelling. When I yell, I don’t use harsh words or statements, but my voice booms and pierces. I try really hard not to go there, but I did. LaLa told me to stop yelling and I got really angry. I got up and walked out of the room. I can’t make the quick exits I wish I could, so the agitation further increased. After a couple of minutes I came back in and got Luna and carried her into the bedroom and told her I was sorry for yelling at her and explained that mommy wasn’t feeling good right now. I told her I loved her and asked her for a hug. Then let her go back to the living room.

Then, I went and took a shower.

When I got out of the shower, I grabbed my phone and went an laid down on the bed and just let go of the fight to hold up the wall against the overwhelm of everything and allowed it to take me under a wave of exhaustion.

Luna came in and tried to tell me something – I think they were finally leaving to go to the park – but I was non-responsive. I couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me. They left and I slept.

They came back and I woke up. I thought I’d slept for a couple of hours, then realized it was only an hour.

I was wide awake again and it was before 8:30 pm. I prepared to be up all night again and told them I would be in the living room again. About 1:15 this morning when I completely misinterpreted what a friend was saying with her commentary on her blog link post, I realized that hypomania was breaking my brain.