What Would You Say?

What Would You Say?

I saw this in my Newsfeed last week and it really got me thinking.  I found it extremely hard to narrow it down to just TWO WORDS.  There would be so much I would want to say to my younger self.  But I played by the rules and I would tell myself….

 

You’re Enough

 

What would you say to your younger self?

 

I’d love to hear, so please feel free to comment!

It’s Possible

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For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to pursue a career where it enabled me to be available for my family.  I knew from the moment I had my children, I was on a quest to find that something.  It became even more of a quest when I lost Ryan.  For the past 4 years, I knew I would have to find something to fit into my new life as a single mom.

I am so beyond excited that I am able to make this happen by finally taking a chance and stepping out of what I view as my comfort zone.  Although what I am pursuing I am in love with.  But parts of it, like anything new, I need to learn so I am confident in myself. I am going to be a travel planner with a wonderful agency called Practically Perfect Vacations!  I am taking my love of travel, particularly Disney, and helping others plan their own magical trips like I have been blessed to take with my children.

I am not sure who is more excited…me or my kids!  I just know, once again, my life is full of blessings and wonderful people who believe in me and encourage me.  I am so excited to have this fabulous opportunity!  I look forward to sharing my knowledge with all of you in addition to my crazy every day life adventures like I have been doing from the beginning.

To plug or not to plug?  I will simply leave it to you my dedicated readers, to check out my information in my About Me Section.

I AM Good Enough

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The day I buried my husband was the day I knew my relationship with my family was over.  It took 2 sentences to convince me what I and Ryan had seen coming for years.  They were~

We are leaving now because everyone here is for Ryan. We are here if you need anything-just call.

Yes those words were uttered to me as I stood in the corner of my kitchen with a house and a yard filled with people who were here because of one person. I remember watching them and the rest of my family all gather their things and leave.  That was the last time I saw most of my family.  I saw my parents for about 6 months following Ryan’s death and then with the help of my therapist I came to terms with the fact that I needed to cut all ties with them for myself and my children.  There was no way to keep them in my life without damaging myself even more and then it affecting my children.

Without going into too much detail (I am not that type of person) my relationship with my parents, particularly my mom, had always been strained.  I would always try to be the good daughter and do everything she wanted and more.  I was always trying to prove myself to her.  I was always trying to get her approval.  This affected me in all areas of my life….friendships, my marriage, my career, and it was starting to affect my parenting.  My insecurities took over.  On the outside I appeared very confident but on the inside I was full of self-doubt and always felt I was never good enough for anyone or at anything.  I never spoke up for myself.  I allowed people to walk all over me rather than take a stand when I knew what was happening was not right.

Ryan helped me to start seeing myself in a whole new light.  He always encouraged me rather than discouraged me from taking chances.  He encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone in my career.  If it wasn’t for his support and his belief that I could do it, I would have probably never gotten my special education degree or left my position at a Catholic School in the middle of a school year for a part-time position in a public school district.  He was my biggest cheerleader and advocate.  This is one thing I miss terribly.

Once I became a mom, I knew I wanted to be at home to take of my children.  Fortunately, Ryan and I got married later in life, had our careers established so this was able to happen.  I remember several times comments being made about my parenting by my mom.  But it was always said in a passive aggressive manner.  It was hard to stand up and say I didn’t like her telling me I was “too picky” with the clothes my kids wore, or I was “too protective”, etc.  The funny thing was….I was the total opposite. But in my mom’s eyes I was doing things the way I wanted and she didn’t agree.  To her shopping at Children’s Place or Target meant I had “high standards” and was “snobby” with what my kids wore.  She didn’t like to shop period.  But if she did it wasn’t at those stores because at the time they were not close. Being “too protective” in her eyes was that I had a schedule that I stuck to and if there was something in the middle of nap time I wouldn’t come until afterwards. When you have a child who was up at 5:00 am, nap time was your sanity.  But if it affected her, I was too strict.

These comments as well as how structured my mom was (always was even growing up) would affect me to the point that my whole demeanor would change.  I would wake up every Sunday agitated.  Why Sunday?  Because that was “her day” to see my kids.  Not because we set that date but because that was her routine just like every Friday she went grocery shopping and every Saturday out to dinner.  It was who she was and I am not bashing her for that at.  We all have our little quirks.  It was mostly how I was treated during the visit or if I had to cancel a visit.  It was extremely hard for Ryan at times to be around when they would come to visit.  He had to stand back and watch me take abuse and because I wanted to keep the peace, he respected that and would go fishing or run an errand for part of the visit.

When my world fell apart, I thought things would change.  But even during the days after and leading up to Ryan’s funeral she was putting me down to his family and my friends.  Nothing I did was ever good enough.  So when those words and a lot more were said, I knew it was up to me now to stand up for me.  I didn’t want my children to grow up hearing or seeing any of this.  Most importantly I knew how it affected me and it wouldn’t be fair to them.  I stood up and I spoke my peace.  I didn’t do it in a respectful way.  I will own that but I did it because enough was enough.  The blame again was and I believe still is put on me. The only blame I will put on myself was the manner in which it happened and how disrespectful I was to her.  That is not who I am but emotions took over.  Emotions from years and years of always feeling I was not good enough.

My children know I can no longer have a relationship with their grandparents.  I have never uttered one mean word about my parents to my children.  I have never refused them to see my children or my children to see them.  My children know all they have to do is say the word and I will make it happen.  We are going on 3+ years since they have seen their grandparents.  Am I sorry I stood up to them and chose to break all ties?  No.  I feel sorry for them because they are missing out on 3 amazing individuals.  And I feel sorry for other family members who knew how all of this was and instead of speaking up, chose to remain quiet and chose to not find out my side.

All I know is that I AM GOOD ENOUGH.  It might have taken me years to finally believe it myself but I finally do believe I am.

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Reality Sets In

One day I woke up and reality hit me like a brick.  I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened but it was shortly after the year anniversary.  Suddenly I was faced with my life not only as a widow but as a single mom.  I was in charge of everything!  

This was not what I had signed up for.  This was not something my kids signed up for. I signed up for a life with my husband and children.  We planned on growing old together, travel, watch our children grow, deal with the growing pains of adolescence together….happily ever after was what I signed up for!

But now my reality is…

~Raising 3 children alone

~Taking care of our home

~Providing for our family

~Make ALL the decisions

~Deal with the “growing pains” alone

~Be a dad

~Teach my kids to tie shoes, ride bikes, throw a football, hit a baseball, fish, hunt

~Have the talks alone

~Raise a boy

~Raise 2 girls

~Teach them to drive

~Do the yard work

~Maintain the house

~Purchase appliances

~Be an exterminator

~Be in 3 places at once

~Have more “mommy guilt” than anyone will ever know

~Go to school functions alone

~Go to any social function alone

~Be alone

I think the whole idea of doing all of this alone is so overwhelming.  And when it set in, life got real.  My reality is all of this and more.  Not everyone understands it and those who know me, know I NEVER play the “widow card” ever! When reality hit, I had one choice…give up or keep fighting.  I chose to keep fighting.  It is a choice I make every single day.  It is the only choice I make without any reservation and it’s because of 3 beautiful individuals…they are my source of strength.

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Taking a Stand

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Taking a stand isn’t always an easy thing to do.  Sometimes you choose not to because you don’t want to deal with the aftermath. Sometimes you choose not to because you are afraid.  Sometimes you choose not to because you don’t know if it is your place to do so.  Sometimes you choose not to because you don’t know how.  None the less, we have all been in a situation where it was necessary to do so.

For me, I have always done it on a quiet side.  I am easily frustrated and when I get frustrated I clam up and tend to forget what I want to say.  My frustration will cause me to get upset and then I feel it makes me look weak. I have been known to write everything I wanted to say down before taking a stand and addressing the issue. When I finally decided to take a stand against my family, I think I wrote down a list of everything I had wanted my mom to know that had been building up.  Even that afternoon when I let it all out, I forgot things.  The emotions took over.

I am struggling once again with how to take a stand on how people have treated a dear friend.  For the past year I have seen people turn on my friend for reasons I wish I knew. From what I can see there has been no merit. I have seen my friend been beaten down- for what?  For being overly generous with her time, her loyalty, generosity, her kindness?  For being a great mom, a hard worker, a business woman?  For despite having no support from family, still found the time to raise a family, work hard and take her passion and start her own business?  For being supportive and encouraging of her friends?  For being honest about her struggles with those who took the time to get to know her?  The last time I checked these are all qualities I look for in a friend.  But there are some people who see these as qualities of a mean person even a “bully”.  To those people, I feel sorry for you.  You have lost the opportunity to have an incredible human being in your life.  You have managed to hurt someone in ways no one should ever be hurt.  I am asking you to stop and move on.  I am asking you not to comment on this post.  This is MY blog and I have always used this as my platform to express MY feelings.

Maybe this isn’t really taking a stand because I am not even sure if the people read my blog anymore. I am sure some will view this as cowardly  I really don’t care if they do. This is how I can get it out without showing MY personal weakness.  I am not good at taking stands but I am trying to improve.  I am not always a good friend or person~no one is.  We are all human. We all make mistakes-I make them on a daily basis.  We all have feelings-they get hurt. We all need to remember that when dealing with each other. I am just disgusted on how people can be so cruel to others.  I just posted about how I was pretty much disgusted with myself as a parent so I am owning my own character flaws.  I am hurting for my friend.  It is not easy to see someone you care about completely broken and beat up.

 

True You

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Genuine~Loyal~Fun~Supportive~Dependable~Humble

These are just a few words I hold dear to my heart and the type of person I set out to be.  These are a few words I try to instill in my children as well.  These are a few words I look for in people who eventually become friends.  These are a few words that seem to be lacking in our society anymore.  It makes being this type of person extremely hard and even harder to teach children to strive to be as they grow into their own person.

Why are these values not as important in our society anymore?  There is so much competition in our society to be the best and to have the best.  But does this make us the best person we can be?  For me it doesn’t.  I don’t care where a person went to school, what type of job they have, where they live, what their home looks like.  None of that matters to me.  What matters is that they show me their true self.

I spend much of my days instilling these values into my children.  I pretty much preach to them the importance of being a good friend.  I tell them how important it is to treat others the way they want to be treated.  Now that all 3 are in school, our dinner conversations are all over the place with what happened in their little lives.  I see how my influence is sometimes put to the back burner to their friends. But I have to say I know they hear me because when one says how someone did this and if they respond to what we (our family) view as inappropriate (big word in our home), I am not always the one to correct them.  Poor things have their 2 other siblings to deal with.  They know that they are always to be honest and that lying never gets them anywhere.  Of course their lies are really not harmful but if they don’t learn now the value of being honest now, they never will.

I am determined that my children will hold these values dear to their heart even in a society that doesn’t.  It makes me sad that they may get hurt in the process.  I’m an adult and I’m still affected by people who don’t hold these values as important.  I do my best to stay true to my values.  I try my best to be a genuine person in everything I do.  It’s now or never.  I am almost 41 years old.  The true me is what you see and what you get.

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On the inside

On the outside I look like any other mom. I look like I am happy.  I look like I am enjoying life.  I smile.  I laugh.  I get out of bed.  I take care of my children.  I take care of my home.  I take of myself.  I have a business. I go on vacations.  I am participating in life. But on the inside I am empty.  I am drowning.  I am dying.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t sleep.  I can’t move.  I suffer from depression.  I suffer from anxiety. I am like many other women out there who suffer from this disease.

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I think I have always suffered from depression and anxiety.  But it wasn’t until my husband’s death that it all came to the surface.  It wasn’t until then that it took over my life.  I can clearly remember when I knew I was no longer able to control the disease.  It was a few weeks following Ryan’s death, my entire body ached.  Every time I moved, the pain was so intense.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t eat.  I actually lost 12lbs in 10 days. I remember functioning but yet not really being all there.  But I thought it would pass.  The intense pain both physically and mentally would go away.  I just needed time.

Summer came.  We had made plans to go camping with my best friend and her family.  They made me promise not to back out.  So I packed us all up and we hopped into their RV and drove over 2 hours.  I remember making small talk.  I remember laughing.  I remember forcing myself to smile and try to have fun.  Then while we were camping I remember this feeling coming over me.  It was a feeling I had felt before many times.  But for some reason since Ryan’s death it intensified.  My heart was racing.  I couldn’t breathe.  I remember standing there watching my kids play and thinking what is happening and why can’t I control it and make it stop.  I was having an anxiety attack.  My best friend made me promise to call the doctor as soon as I got home.

I had my yearly with my OBGYN and I decided to just talk to him.  He sat there and cried with me.  I sobbed as I told him how I physically hurt.  I sobbed when I told him I just wanted to fall asleep and not have to wake up for a few days.  He grabbed my hands and looked me in the eyes and said you are suffering from depression.  Me?  No…not me.  He said it again and this time I just lost it.  I couldn’t stop sobbing.  I remember saying I have no time to be weak.  I have to be strong for my kids.  He asked me if I ever thought about ending my life.  I assured him I didn’t and that I never would harm myself.  I would never do that to my children.  But I told him I just don’t want to function anymore.  I just want to sleep.  I just want to close my eyes and not think for a while.  That was the truth.  If I could just temporarily “check out” for a while it would be OK.  I didn’t want to permanently check out.  But by saying those words I knew and he knew I needed help.

Together with my OBGYN and later with a therapist the decision was made that I needed to be on medication.  It took some time to get the right medication that would work for me.  I remember over the course of 8 months playing around with medication.  At first, it seemed to work.  But then as life continued, we had a lot of adjusting to do.  I remember taking a medication that worked but it caused me to gain 25lbs within 3 months!  That certainly didn’t help me feel good about myself or my life.  But thankfully I was able to find the correct medication and dosage that has worked thus far.  Once the old medication was out of my system, the weight melted away.  For me medication and therapy has helped me tremendously. Do I feel I have my depression under control?  Not completely. But I know, for me, this is what I need to do.

It is hard for some people to understand just how much depression affects your every day life.  I don’t hide this from anyone.  But I don’t go around telling people either.  I feel very fortunate that when I go into what I refer to “my funk”, I don’t ever get to the point where I want to end my life permanently.  But when I am in “my funk” it is extremely hard to function.  I not only hurt mentally but physically.  I just want to check out for a little or go into a sleep where I am not having to deal with anything and then slowly come out of it.  It consumes every ounce of you.

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Some people think this is a sign of weakness or an excuse.  I have been told I just need to suck it up and deal with it because being sad is not going to change anything.  This isn’t something I want to feel.  I want to be able to handle the bad times like everyone else does.  I want to be happy~truly happy. But I can’t.  I do the best I can.  I know I put on a brave front for more than just my children.  I know I shouldn’t have to and have actually begun not to.  I am open with my children.  They see me take my medication.  They know I take it to help me so I am not sad all the time.  They know what they can handle.  If I hide it, I am letting them think it is something to be ashamed of and it isn’t at all.

Suffering from any type of mental illness is not something to be ashamed of or ignore.  It is important to find the help you need and to start the long and sometimes painful process of trying to find ways to help you learn to live with it.  Not everyone will understand it and that is OK.  What works for one person may not work for you.  There is no quick fix.  It isn’t a once and done thing either.   Accepting this and focusing on what YOU need is so important.

I have begun to let people in my life know when I am struggling.  I no longer hide it. And the people who are the closest to me sometimes know before I do that I am heading into “my funk”.   I just took a major step in this area.  The holidays are my favorite time of the year.  But they are so hard anymore.  I really had a hard time this past holiday season.  I just wanted to escape.  But I felt I needed to be strong and deal with it for others. Well this holiday seasoning I am doing something I have said I wanted to do since losing Ryan.  I am escaping.  We are going away over Thanksgiving.  We will not miss any of the holiday season.  But it will be a little escape before it all begins.  I need this.  We need this.  So we are doing it.  I know there will be people who think escaping isn’t the answer and that is OK.  But I know there are people who understand the need to escape from reality even if it is just for a little bit.