Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Different Perspective

A dear friend sent this to me this afternoon, knowing me well enough to know it would make me smile through tears. And it did. So much so, I had to share...
(Thank you, Di!)

Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All
rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'm Not Crazy

This has been quite a tumultuous week in our household. Ben has had some rough days with classmates and we are in a significant holding pattern on his school assessment with the corporation’s only liaison out of the country for two weeks. Naturally.

I’ve replayed our session with the psychiatrist repeatedly through my head:

Maybe I’m exaggerating. Tim (aka The Gentleman) doesn’t seem to think this is as big of a problem. I’m sure the rest of our family doesn’t either. Am I putting a label on Ben he has no business wearing? What am I doing to this poor kid??

I’ve never monitored this child as closely as I have in the last several days. Noting every word, tick, move, meltdown…and again, attempting to see if those pieces fit together like an apparent jigsaw. To the extent I’m losing sleep. Losing focus. Losing my sanity. The Gentleman has worked countless hours as of late so our time to really sit and sort through this monster has been limited, to say the least. After days of processing all of this on my own, I was starting to lose faith that I really do know my son…doubting my instinct, that I was likely wrong after all.

Until last night.

My mother-in-law stopped by yesterday evening to let us dog-sit during her hair appointment. The kids truly look forward to these regular visits where they can pretend that he is their very own puppy and take turns holding and chasing him throughout the house. I watched them scurry around him as I mentioned our recent doctor visit to her. And she didn’t disregard it. At all. In fact, my mother-in-law has this amazing way of validating a serious worry in a very reassuring way, not creating any alarm or cause for additional concern. Simply suggesting that it does, in fact, make some sense, pointing to some of her own observations over the years. Whew. I needed that.

The gentleman thankfully arrived home after work last night a little earlier than initially expected which allowed for some much-needed help with the bedtime routine. (Our night-time is often as explosive as our morning regimen.) After getting a brief synopsis of each other’s day we headed upstairs to initiate teeth-brushing and PJs only to find that Ben was not quite ready to finalize his TV show. Of course. An episode ensued that nearly raised the roof, ending in his declaration that he did NOT, in fact, need a blanket because he just wanted to get cold and die. Sigh.

As we settled into the couch afterward, each taking a deep cleansing breathe I shared with him the visit I had with his mom. How reassuring it was to hear that she is supportive in the progress we hope we’re making. That she too is beginning to see what I’ve witnessed. And although I appreciate the validation from her, I get the sense that the Gentleman continues to resist the label and is inclined to believe I’m exaggerating my concerns. I expressed this to him. With a very heavy heart. Suggesting that maybe this isn’t Asperger’s. To which he replied:

“Did you not just see Ben have that meltdown upstairs? If this isn’t the right track, I don’t know what is.”

Validation. The Gentleman finally sees him too.


I share this all to say “thank you”. For letting me open my life up to you. I have to say I truly feel blessed to be in the presence of some pretty wonderful bloggers and readers. This week I received some amazing accolades from a dear friend who although I’ve only known her briefly through the blogosphere, I feel as though I’ve known her for quite some time. Tara at You Know It Happens At Your House Too decided that I deserved the Liebster Award along with some very amazing ladies. Not only did she suggest that I was deserving but added some very thoughtful and heartfelt commentary on my writing. How cool is it that to read something like that after just starting this amazing journey just three months ago? I know now that putting myself out there has been worth every salty tear.

I enjoy sharing my world with you…the laughs and the heartaches. I share what I’m truly experiencing. I realize most of what I’ve written as of late has been deep, heavy, and emotionally draining. Having you all here to share these moments of discontent with has been invaluable. More than anything, expressing my concern for my son has been beyond rewarding for me. You’ve let me share tears, sarcasm, humor and have been incredibly supportive through this journey. And it doesn’t end here…in fact this is just the beginning. I do hope you all stick around.

In the meantime here is how the Liebster Blog Award works:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.

3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.

4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to five lesser-known blogs who you feel deserved to be noticed and give a little blurb about why you chose each blog.

5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

Check out the following blogs and keep your eyes open for the blogs I love to the right of my posts!

Tripping While Standing – I’ve gotten to know this lady and I don’t know how I would get through a day without her. She is always the first to throw in her support or willingness to kick someone’s butt if need-be. She’s honest, beautiful and so worth the read!

Afton’s Army – I recently began following this blog and it melts my heart with each post I read. She shares some very heartfelt thoughts on raising a gorgeous little girl with Autism. She had me at hello.

Frugalista Blog – This lady has the corner on fashion, pop culture, you name it…this girl knows it! From undergarment recommendations to female (ahem) grooming…I never read without laughing my butt off. She’s a knockout with an amazing sense of humor.

Lil’ Mama’s Musings – This little momma has her hands full, that’s for sure. She is
raising two boys and has some hilarious antics to share. She’s feisty and I LOVE it. She would totally have my back right up there with miss Tripping…at a moment’s notice.

Stepmomma – I just love her. She is mommy to a little boy and step-mommy to two more. She has some wonderful insight to successful step-parenting and isn’t afraid to share her struggles. She amazes me and certainly inspires me to do better.

Please check them'll love them too!

As always...thank you for reading.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Playing with Puzzles

By 11pm I was finally horizontal.   It was an unusually chilly evening so the blanket was wrapped up tight around my chin.  Despite being cozily tucked into my warm bed, sleep would not take over.  Thoughts and worries were pinging through my mind like an eight ball determined not to hit a pocket.  Ben’s appointment with his new psychiatrist was scheduled for the next day, and while fresh eyes/ears/help brings a sense of hope, fear simultaneously pervades.  Our most recent visit with his pediatrician left us wondering what we were truly dealing with here. 

We have been treating ADHD symptoms since last fall which has provided significant improvement academically…and I thank God daily for that.  Literally.  But those wonderfully effective meds have also seemingly brought with them a heightened emotionality and reactivity as well as compulsive behavior.  Nothing entirely new coming from Ben but more recognizable these days.  This medicine was supposed to make him better.  Two formulas down…only one to go.  There aren’t a ton of choices left at this point.  What if we try them all and nothing works?  At this point I was at a loss.  From his pediatrician’s perspective his condition has surpassed simple ADHD, requiring specialized treatment.  To the psychiatrist we go.  Thankfully our pediatrician provided a trusted referral to a provider he has utilized for his own children which brings a sense of comfort.  Much needed comfort. 

Tuesday morning was hurried: orthodontist appointment for my eldest, squeezing in a few hours of work at home, then heading out for our appointment.  As I turned off the television and suggested we grab shoes and jacket he reluctantly sat up, stuck is feet out for me to provide my motherly shoe-tying duties and asked who we were going to see.

Me: We’re going to see your new doctor.

Ben: Laura? (his previous counselor)

Me: No, buddy, but a doctor kind of like Laura.

Ben: The doctor that speaks English? (his previous psychiatrist with a STRONG German accent)

Me: No honey but a doctor LIKE him.

Ben: Oh.  Is he gonna help me?

As I struggled to swallow the soccer ball lodged in my throat and threatened the tears that were pooling in my eyes I choked out “I sure hope so, buddy.  I sure hope so.”

We arrived at the office and it was beautiful.  Much different than the soiled yet clinical-esque center we had grown accustomed too.  The staff was friendly.  The waiting area was clean and comfortable.  After signing in we settled into a nearby couch where Ben could stretch out and rest is tummy from the curvy, hilly drive.   I massaged his sweet little temples and let my mind wander.  I hope I wasn’t lying to my son when I said this one would actually help him.  Someone has to see what is really going on.  Right?  I want to scream, cry, stomp my feet, punch someone…”Look at him!  Listen to him!  Tell me what to do!”  So far I’ve found no luck in that regard.  Unless you count “try these pills”.  I know he’s young and these things are difficult to determine.  But we are going on two years through this journey with so many different perspectives along the way.  Yet…no answers.  Could be this.  Might be that….with a side of those. 

God damn it. 

“Benjamin?”  The doctor stepped out to greet us with a smile and handshake and escort us back to his office.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that he had in fact perused the 9 page form I had completed prior to seeing us.  That never happens you know.  Typically I find myself restating everything I had already spent hours writing down in those teeny tiny lines, only to be placed in a folder to collect dust.  Not this time.  He started with a series of questions for Ben, who incidentally could not have seem less impressed if he tried.  I’m sure in his little head he was thinking “been there done this…do you people not share info??”  But he answered as best he could…and I found myself struggling NOT to interject my interpretation on his behalf from time to time.  I could see by the look on the doctor’s face his line of questions had little to do with his answers and more to do with the interaction itself.  (What is he looking for?  Because Ben is giving some whacked out, not entirely accurate answers!) 

After making a number of notes the doctor then turned to me and asked me what my primary concerns were.  I explained what we had been through up to this point…the doctors, the counselors, the meds.  I expressed concern for where I felt we were headed…unrelenting symptoms and reactions to medication resulting in the prospect for additional prescriptions.  I just don’t know if I can do that to him…unless it’s absolutely necessary.  I wasn’t convinced we had stepped foot on the right path to begin with.  And then he asked what seemed to make all other things in my head go completely silent.  “Has he ever been evaluated for Asperger’s?” 


Holy shit.  I instantly became weightless, levitating above us all in that small dark room.  “He sees him.  He really sees my Ben.”  It took my breath away.

I looked at Ben and back at the doctor…and back and forth a few more times.  As far as I knew he was evaluated for everything two years ago.  Four hours with a counselor and multiple assessment forms taking days to complete…surely they considered Asperger’s.  Didn’t they?  But why hasn’t anyone seen it before?  I remember asking about it when this all began…because if I’m honest with myself I knew that was it.  I realize it’s extremely difficult to diagnose such things in young children.  At age four their best guess was ADHD or ODD.  We were told medication is the only treatment which would likely have to wait until he was six.   Every conversation with a counselor or psychiatrist from that point on left me feeling as though a serious piece to this puzzle that is my son was missing.  And I was desperate to find it. 

The look on the doctor’s face suggested this was as plain as day to him.  And I wanted to kiss him.  Well…not a “let’s make out” kind of kiss (although he WAS rather attractive).  But a “thank you for finally FINALLY hearing and seeing my son” kind of kiss.  How did he do it?  His words from that point on swam through my overflowing mind as I feigned a smile and nodded as though I was mentally steno graphing his every word. I caught the key pieces: school, assessment, resources, internet…I’ll be honest it took some time to sink in.  We changed his meds from a stimulant to non-stimulant and were on our way.  Home.  With some answers.  And the hope for more. 

I caught a glimpse of his little studious face staring out the window every few minutes as I navigated the desolate county road.  He had no idea what all of this meant.  Did he question my reassurance that he would in fact get help from this man?  Was he wondering what in the hell was next?  I sure was.  But I have to admit I felt a slight sense of relief.  For the first time in two years I felt truly hopeful.  I felt a sense of validation.  I DO know my son.  At least we have direction for our next steps.  No definitive answers yet but we’re getting somewhere.  And it finally fits.  It finally makes sense.  All of the years of compulsive nail-biting and nose-picking, his freaking out at loud noises, his meltdowns when spilling a few drops of water on his shirt, his desire to wash his hands repeatedly, his need to erase his homework five times to rewrite it because the letters weren’t all exactly the same size, his struggle to build positive relationships at school, his frustration at his father and me for not appeasing his need for minute details…”how many minutes until my appointment?  How many days until my birthday?  Until our vacation?  Until first grade?  Until Christmas?”  The countless hours spent playing the exact same video game over and over and over again.  His obsession with Thomas the Train.  With Darth Vader.  Each of these characteristics individually is of little cause for concern.  But put together? 

We’ve found and gathered the corner pieces of this puzzle…you know, the ones that are somewhat easy to find and place?  If we can just sort those inside pieces and put those in the appropriate spot, then maybe, just maybe…

…we CAN help him. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Work In Progress

My eyes caught a brief, painful glimpse of sunlight as I lazily rolled to my side.  I lifted my achy neck just enough to catch the time on my clock…7:37am.  I can do this.  I had been telling myself the previous day that I’ll actually get up early this Saturday and do my shopping before everyone gets up.  When times are dim as they have been as of late, earlier productive mornings are fewer and further between.  I climbed out of bed, grabbed a pair of crumpled jeans from the floor, threw on necessary undergarments, slipped on my flip-flops and headed downstairs.   As I swept my hair up into an elastic it occurred to me that the boys were still asleep and would just love to wake up to donuts this morning.  Good idea!   I let our little furry visitor out for a pee break (we’re doggy sitting this week) then headed to Kroger for an awesome, frosted, cream-filled assortment of the bakery’s best donuts.  The more colorful the better as far as the boys are concerned.  After dropping the confections off on our countertop I headed back out for our weekly groceries followed by a stop at Old Navy for a few last-minute Easter apparel necessities. 

It was quite chilly outside…but the sun was bright.  My eyes had fully adjusted and I could actually feel the sun seeping through my skin, energizing my soul.  It never ceases to amaze me…the effect the sun has on my mood, my body, my spirit.  I could feel the corners of my mouth submitting to a subtle smile.  I do have a lot to smile about, you know.   I forget these things all too often as many of us do.  Depression has a way of stealing those instances of satisfying realization, hiding them away, only to be found in random moments of emotional lucidity.  Somehow the rays of heat from the sun reassure me that I can indeed be content, even if for only a brief moment.   As I drove the desolate Saturday morning highway to the store, I remembered how much I love driving on a sunny day…a good road trip ranks right up there with time at the beach.  Feeling more lifted than I had in recent days, my thoughts drifted to the dinner planned this evening…a girl’s night with some ladies I’ve not seen in quite some time.  Not only am I looking forward to a dinner amongst adults, I NEED girl-time like I need sunshine.  Which made me think…

If you ask me who I tend to befriend more easily…girls or boys…I would tell you in a heartbeat that I get along much better with boys.   Boys make for simple, easy to read, straight-shooting, get-what-ya-see kinda friends.   Not nearly as much drama, judgment, back-stabbing or neediness.   I can shoot the shit with my guy friends without feeling like I’m in a perpetual pissing contest…you know those girls, right?   Picture this character played by Kristen Wiig below…yeah.  That girl. 

But as I inventory who I truly consider great friends…I realize that 99% of them are in fact women.  Caring, genuine, supportive, good-hearted, humorous women.  How lucky am I to have surrounded myself with some amazing ladies over the years…who have stuck around to deal with my bullshit, have been there for me when I’m in deep, to make me laugh when I’m down, to celebrate with me when life is grand.  I have friends to this day that have known me at every stage in my life…girls from grade school, high school, college, jobs, neighborhoods, you name it.   And they’ve all stuck around.  They haven’t abandoned me.  So why on earth do I have a knee-jerk male preference when it comes to friendship?  Why do I struggle to trust women?   I just do.  Every familial relationship I’ve had with women has been guarded, arms-length, as far from nurturing as one can get.  A legacy I fight every day to avoid with my daughter.  I wish it came naturally but it takes a concerted effort on a daily basis.   I mother very naturally with my boys…but relating with my daughter is like attempting a conversation in a foreign language with electronic translator in hand.   It shouldn’t be that way.  I am determined to turn that damned table upside down and inside out…I will be different with her than my mother was with me…and her mother was with her.   Not the variety of inheritance I prefer. 

Within a matter of minutes this morning, I realized how very little credit I give to the girls who fill and lift my spirit each and every day…and they do it so gracefully and without expectation that it is seamless and transparent.   My assumption was so very wrong.  While I do still cherish the friendships I have with the boys in my life…the gentleman included…I am thriving today because of my girls.  My daughter, my sister, my neighbors, my coworkers, my classmates, and now I can include my virtual friends who have recently graced my world through this blogging venture.   I can’t think of one instance with any of you when I felt judged, criticized, shunned, abandoned…but can I say the same about myself?  Have I been equally gracious to all of you?   I already know the answer to that.  I have not. 

Admittedly I struggle not only in my motherly relationship with my daughter but also with my sisters and my girlfriends.  But I’m learning.  And you all are teaching me.  It’s never too late to improve…to be better…to love, support and nurture, right?   A very wise Goddess once suggested that sending an actual greeting card to people was a step toward being a little more intimate with our friends, moving away from our virtual nature.  I’ve started that….and it is amazing the response I’ve gotten.  It makes me feel good knowing that I’m surprising someone with a friendly greeting in a space we’ve become accustomed to only receiving requests for our money.  I don’t do it for an immediate response…it’s impossible with snail mail.  We need to push ourselves to do things that don’t illicit a payoff, rather a payout.  What is the worth of making someone smile?  Of making them feel worthy of actually buying a stamp to put on an envelope when you could easily send the same message with the click of a keyboard?  It’s priceless.  So thank you, Goddess for inspiring me take a step a little closer to being a better woman, friend, confidante.   If I open my eyes wide enough I can glean just as many nurturing tips from the women that I take for granted every day... 

You check in daily to see how I’m doing. 
You help me with my children when you know I need a break. 

When we get together you always ask about me and my family before we talk about anything else.

You send me cards.

You tell me you’re proud of me. 

You hug me even when I’m prickly and pissed off.
You are willing to be mischievous when the time calls for it.

You spend your drive home on the phone with me when you’d rather be singing at the top of your lungs. 

You let me bitch about meaningless, petty things without judgment.
You laugh at my stupid jokes.

You encourage me through the last quarter mile of my run.

You tell me I’m a good singer when I’m killing your eardrums with my own rendition of Lady Antebellum.
You reassure me when I need it most. 

This list is by no means, exhaustive…merely the tip of the iceberg.   Thank you all for showing me how to be a better friend, sister, wife, mother, niece, aunt, coworker.  You’re investment in me has not gone unnoticed.  I’m a work in progress. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Inner Voices

You know that feeling…in the back of your throat? When you have a horrendous case of motion sickness, morning sickness, stomach flu, whichever? That feeling that tells you “if you open your mouth you WILL in fact lose your shit.” It’s the kind of feeling that can keep one quiet for hours on end simply for fear of what may physically result from attempting a conversation. Still holding on to the hope…that if you attempt to delay the inevitable, that exhausting nauseating feeling will dissipate?

I’ve felt that reflex over the last few days and it is indeed stifling. Not fear of actual, physical regurgitation, rather, a fear of what I might write. I’ve been stumbling over what I’ve interpreted as a writer’s block over the last week or so. I have nothing to write about. Or do I? Am I merely afraid of writing what has been gagging me in recent days? I’ve felt this once before and with much gratitude to my sister, I chose to write about some emotional stuff. She was right. It helped. Writing down those words did precisely what I had hoped blogging would do for me. But now…that I’m in front of this computer…with an active blog…with readers willing to peruse…why is it so hard to continue that kind of healing? Simply put, it’s emotionally easier to write about something quirky or amusing…gleaning smiley-faces, making someone laugh on a bad day, it certainly makes me feel better and less imposing on my audience. If I instead write about what is crammed against my heart, tugging at my throat, it may bring people down. If I thought no one on earth was reading this, it wouldn’t matter. Right? Then I wouldn’t be putting this on someone else’s heart. But what if someone identifies…what if someone else is dealing with the exact same thing…feeling alone and uncomfortably unique? In response to the handful of emotionally charged posts I’ve written, the resounding feedback has been “I’m so glad I’m not the only one.” So it’s okay, right?


Truth is, my life HAS been quiet as of late. No drama. No fighting. Ben is doing well in school…no additional concerns or worries quite yet in regards to his emotional well-being. No issues in our extended family. No financial woes…outside of the ordinary, anyway. Leaves me with a very quiet mind…one in which the focus has turned inward. On me. And I don’t like it. Not one bit.

I’m accustomed to focusing elsewhere. I’ve always had someone or something drawing my attention, my focus, my emotions…for as long as I can remember. Sure there have been those brief moments in time when all else is hibernating and I’m left with myself…truth be told, those are most certainly few and far between. Before I have a chance to inventory my own baggage, drama is banging on my door again. Thank God.

I grew up “entertaining” two depressed parents…although I don’t know that I realized it at the time. I was the family comedian. I tried my damnedest to make them smile, laugh, hug. I took it on as my personal responsibility to make them happy in any and every way I could. I would BEG for family gatherings because at least THEN they would pretend to laugh and have a good time. I lived for holidays and hold those traditions dear to this day. It meant more to me than the holiday itself. When our house was full of aunts, uncles and grandparents I could laugh too…and not feel the weight of the world on MY shoulders to keep the peace under our little country roof. I organically became the mediator in our little unit right down to the moment my dad attempted to pack his bags and leave. It was pivotal. I stopped entertaining and got real. Really fast. And he stayed.

My teenage and early adult years were consumed with taking care of my aunt who is an alcoholic. I didn’t physically care for her…but emotionally I was her nurse. We had always been close…only 15 years apart. After revealing some horrendous personal drama she was ostracized by the family…although she too is responsible for some of that isolation. She lost parents, a husband, a house, siblings, jobs, boyfriends, apartments…but she had me. I was the only one who would answer her call and that very fact weighed a thousand pounds. I could see the good in her, despite her inability to see it in herself. Do you know how exhausting it is to repeatedly reassure someone that they are worthy of a better life? As a young girl I had no idea how addiction worked. I didn’t know that I couldn’t fix her…or even help her. But dammit I tried. Late night drunken conversations to the point I couldn’t understand a word she said…where we cried together until she passed out. And then I cried some more. Middle of the night calls from motel rooms because her boyfriend was drunk too and had beaten the shit out of her…laying my head down afterward sure as hell she would not be alive the next morning. Defending her to my mother, inviting her to gatherings she would instead drink through, answering my inquiring call hours later completely intoxicated and mildly apologetic for not coming around. Two decades of this wore me to my core. My soul hurt every time she called. I finally made the choice to pull her to arms length, express my never-ending love for her, and say good-bye. After a year or two we’ve been able to email periodically, a cordial check-in here and there to make sure both are still alive and gainfully employed. With every email I worry. I wonder if she’s in trouble at work…if she’s behind on rent…if she’s dating an abusive man. For a split second I think I should call. I should visit. But I don’t.

I had already begun the process of weaning myself from my aunt a decade ago when my mother began battling an eating disorder. She was at the top of my worry chain for years. Massive and immediate weight-loss very clearly lead to a chemical imbalance and years of battling body image distortion, hours upon hours in the gym, avoidance of the family in order to workout longer, trips to the bathroom with lipstick in hand after every meal, deep depression, isolation, I could go on and on. I had become slightly familiar with the face of addiction by this time and I had her number, so to speak. She may not have been hiding vodka in the laundry room or masking her breath with peanut butter…but she was damn sneaky with her puking, and throwing away food. At least she tried to be. Why was I as a grown woman with a brand new baby suddenly taking care of my mother instead of my infant? It’s bad when your little sister calls you panicked because your mother’s bathroom door is locked, no one answered the knocking and the first assumption is “mom has lost consciousness”. Racing to her house that night to insure she was okay was the moment I then got real. With her. She did get help. She’s gotten better. Not healed…but better. I know she still takes her lipstick to the bathroom…but she’s trying. She is happier, at least a little. She isn’t completely consumed with the gym or being emaciated anymore. Fine. I’ll take it.

I can’t cry about it anymore. I look at my babies and realize that they are the ones who deserve the emotional caregiver in me. I have a son who is battling something that we haven’t quite figured out yet. I need to be here for him. To help HIM through…build him up when he’s down and celebrate him when he succeeds. He has siblings who need me too. My daughter who is embarking on teenage-dom (cue dramatic Star Wars music) and a middle son who often gets lost in the shuffle and needs a little extra squeezin’ from time to time. I have my hands full, for sure. I love being their mommy, their caretaker…I love being needed. I suppose it’s in those moments in between when the world is quiet and our home is calm, that I question myself. I have time to actually hear my inner voices. Am I being the person I should be? Am I prioritizing appropriately? Am I working hard enough at my job? Am I as healthy as I should be? Do I long to be needed for the wrong reasons? Should I have been steadfast for my aunt? Would she be better by now if I had? What else can I be doing to help my parents? What emotional hole am I attempting to fill? Do I self-medicate to extenquish a fire that is burning my soul instead of facing it head on? Am I woman enough to do so?

I don’t think I am. It’s much easier to figuratively plug my ears and redirect. I will someday. Until then maybe in those moments of self-realization and deprecation I should instead write about the agitation…the burn…that which has made me who I am. Blissfully discontented.

Thank you for letting me.