Category Archives: Strong Feelings

In Pieces

As I sit holding his hand, my heart is shattering into small pieces. The anguish and worry etched into his face cut me so deeply, I’m sure I’ll perish.

But I must remain strong for him.

I tear my gaze from my love’s face to look at the man lying in the bed before us. Even in sleep, his face is grimaced in pain. There are wires and tubes criss-crossing over his body and the machine above his bed is spitting out numbers that mean little to me- they don’t tell me what is wrong with him.

The room is chilly but there is a trickle of sweat down my back. Anxiety pays no mind to the temperature around me.

It seems like ages before they come to tell us what our hearts already knew. He is really sick and they will be admitting him. My love and I follow closely behind as they wheel this man upstairs to the ICU.

This man is my future father-in-law, my fiance’s sole remaining parent. While I come from a large family with multiple tangents, Scotty’s family is small and few. In fact, it’s just him and this man who looks far too fragile right now.

So my heart is in pieces for him, for them, as I watch Scotty try to hold it together and not show his fear.

His father’s health has not been great for a number of years, but he’s always fought back. In fact, this is not the first time we’ve sat at his bedside like this, with our hearts in our throats. But each new time is a reminder that he cannot fight this fight forever, and we mourn the gradual loss of a great man, as his body continues to fail him.

This time we are lucky, his father will heal.

But my heart is still in pieces, already broken for the day when we won’t be so lucky.

One In A Thousand

It seems every night lately, I watch the news and a little part of me dies inside.

Our world is struggling. People are dying, rioting, and children are crying. The gangs are taking over the streets, families are flailing, and legends have taken their own lives.

My heart has been breaking, and my mind whirling. Where is my place? How can I help?

I firmly believe we must be the change we want to see in the world, and I’ve been trying. But how do we change things like compassion and kindness? How do we take the hurt away and help others smile?

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And then I saw this movement. Some bloggers were getting together to spread compassion. #1000Speak. 1000 voices coming together to make the world a little brighter, if only for a day. I was blown away. Here was a whole group of people like me, people who just wanted to spread a little goodness in a weary world.

So I signed up. I committed to blog about compassion on February 20, 2015. Now I’m spreading the word. We still need more people to reach our goal of 1000 voices. And if we hit over 1000, all the better.

I’m humbly asking you to join with me. Let’s be the change we hope to see in this world. Let’s spread compassion. It might just be for a day, but that one day could start a lovely ripple effect. And wouldn’t that be something to see?

We Can Be Compassion

Today there are a 1000 voices coming together for compassion.

I’ve been excited about this project from the moment it came across my Facebook feed. It’s such a beautiful goal, and I thought it fit in nicely with my 2015 resolution to spread more kindness. And if the start to our 2015 hasn’t opened Scotty and I up to compassion and kindness, then we need a lot of help.

In my heart and mind, compassion and kindness go hand in hand. They are one, interchangeable. Maybe that’s not the way for everyone, but that’s how it is for me. And so as I sat this week working on this post, I wondered how I would approach it. I had many different ideas as I readied myself for bed last night.

Then I read this post from Tamara. And I knew what I wanted to write.

Compassion is what I strive to teach my son, what, I think, all us parents strive to teach our children. But, as Tamara pointed out, it’s so often the little ones who teach us. I read her post and was reminded of a time my son was a wee bit younger. We were picking out a Christmas gift for the Angel Tree and I was telling him how there are some children in the world who can’t have big Christmases like ours. How we share our blessings by giving to those less fortunate. I think maybe he was four at the time.

That night at home, I walked into his room to get him ready for bed and found him wrapping some of his favorite toys in his blankets. I asked what he was doing and he said,

“Mama, I want to give these toys to the angel kids who can’t have Christmas. Can we share these ones with them?”

I tried to hide my tears as I sat on his bed and praised him and his big heart. I told him we would donate his toys the next day, if he wanted to, and I helped him stack them by his bedroom door.

My heart overflowed that night.

Children are not born knowing hate or discrimination. They are not born knowing the woes of the world. They are sweet and innocent little sponges who soak up all that we show them, whether we intend it or not.

We adults have years of the world hardening our hearts, years of skepticism and judgement (however unintentional it may be) in our minds. We no longer see the world as simply as our children, but we can.

We can step back and take a lesson from those we’re supposed to be teaching. We can FEEL again, and lead with open hearts. We can show compassion and kindness, it really isn’t that hard. Nor does it require that much.

Buy coffee for the person behind you in line. Smile at your neighbor and ask how they are, instead of brushing by impatiently. Leave a Star Wars Valentine at random places throughout your weekend. Pass along a blender you’re not using to someone who needs or wants one. Text that friend whom you haven’t heard from, maybe they just need to know someone is thinking of them. Hold the door open for a stranger. Take flowers to work to brighten the office for you AND all of your coworkers. Donate to your local mission. Make sandwiches and take them to the homeless on the streets.

We can all do these things, we can all be these people. We can be the change we wish to see, we can be the hope in this worn and weary world.

We can be the little boy giving his beloved Finding Nemo and Lego toys to the less fortunate.

We can be compassion.

Wordless Wednesday…With Some Words

Because it’s always easier to bear the pain ourselves, than to watch those we love suffer.

JamieFraser

I always say I have it easy being the sick one. While it’s no fun being in pain, and dealing with chronic illness, I would take this any day over watching Scotty suffer. He often has the raw end of the deal, having to hold my hand, without being able to help me feel better.

If it were you, which side of the bargain would you choose?

Living Better: Letting Go

LivingBetter

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in life has been how to let go.

I have a hard time letting go of hurts, and letting go of people who aren’t healthy for me. I’m not really sure why, and to be honest, it is a big piece of what I’m working on in therapy. I had thought to leave this post for that wonderous day when I finally had it all worked out, but events this week have made me see that maybe, just maybe, this is a lifelong lesson.

And if that’s the case, why am I waiting to share something I know to be true?

We’ve talked many times here about how stress is unhealthy for us. To that same degree, holding on to negative feelings is just as detrimental, possibly more. Each day, hour, minute spent thinking about the jerk who hurt our feelings, or that rude thing our neighbor said, or how our ex broke our heart- it all adds up. It robs us of happiness, and leaves us emotionally and mentally drained.

I wish I had some grand advice on how to let go of these thoughts and emotions, but it’s something I’m still working on. What I have learned is that we must work at letting go, so that we may be happier. What I’ve found helps- surrounding myself with love. Friends I can turn to who help me lift the veil of darkness from my day. A partner who will do the little things so I can take care of me. A doggy who rolls around on the floor begging for belly rubs and rewards me with kisses and snuggles. I’ve set up a support system of happiness that I can turn to when I feel myself dwelling on the negative.

Letting go of people is often so much harder.

On one hand, I’ve been known to be the “love them til they hurt me” type. I’ve often said, “I’m your best friend until you give me a reason not to be, then you’re dead to me.” (Nice unintentional rhyming there…) And this is mostly true. If I let you into my circle, I’ll often bend over backwards for you. Until you give me a reason not to. Betraying my trust or hurting someone I love are game changers and I will cut you out of my life quicker than you can blink.

But there are people who’ve hurt me over and over again that I just can’t seem to let go. I allow them to reside in my heart and my mind, knowing they’ll continue to hurt me. Knowing they’re unhealthy and toxic personalities, and how those affect me. Knowing nothing will change until I make the changes. And yet, I hesitate.

I know it impacts my health, so this is a key part of my therapy. There are simply some people we can’t cut out of our lives, for whatever reason, and so I’m learning how to set boundaries.

Boundaries and a support system of happiness. Letting go.

Finding ways to move forward so that we may see the light in each and every day, and ultimately, live better.

 

**How do YOU live better? I’m looking for guest posts in this series and would love to share your story. Please email me at becominneurotic@gmail.com with your ideas.

Hurt By Strangers

I will never understand why it’s so hard for me to accept the compliments from loved ones, yet it’s so very easy for me to internalize the hurtful looks and snide comments from strangers.

I suppose this is just one of the many things I should be working on in therapy.

This past Sunday was grocery shopping day at my house. So while my post talking about being strong and brave was making the rounds, I was going from store to store to stock our cupboards and fridge.

Grocery day always wipes me out, and I’ve been nursing a tender Achilles’ tendon on my right ankle, so by the second store, I was ready to break down and use a motorized cart. Except they didn’t have any available. So I leaned heavily on the cart as I limped my way through the store. By checkout, I was toast.

I don’t know if it’s this way for anyone else, but as my pain increases, all my defenses crumble. That shield I hold up to keep out the judging stares? Yeah, it becomes dust as the pain and exhaustion overwhelm me. Scotty knows this, and so he took me home to regroup after that second store, even though we had a few more stops to make.

I rested up, re-sorted my coupons and shopping list, and then we headed back out.

I should have known better.

But I’m stubborn, and wanted to complete our list instead of pushing it off to another day.

Now Walmart isn’t generally known for its warm and fuzzy clientele or staff, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised. But I like to keep thinking there’s a bit of good left in the world, and so I was surprised.

As I limped into the store, I gasped in relief to see there was one motorized cart left. And then I crumpled as another woman approached the cart. What ensued was nothing short of shocking. She offered for me to take the cart, but then proceeded to act like I was stealing right from under her. Scotty’s hackles were raised as he squared off with the woman, trying to explain my condition and pleading for understanding. The woman stormed off after yelling at me, “I have problems, too!”

I sunk into the seat and held back the tears.

Only to turn the corner and see the Walmart greeter (who had surely witnessed everything) glaring at me with contempt.

Y’all, I nearly broke right there.

I wish I could have screamed at everyone watching, “I don’t want to be here! I don’t want to NEED this damn cart! I DON’T WANT TO BE SICK AND HURTING!”

Instead, I mustered what little dignity I had left and apologized to the employee as I rolled past.

I made it through the rest of our shopping and into the car before I let the tears come.

I know this isn’t new to any of my #spoonie pals. We’ve all faced judgement and scorn in the face of our invisible illnesses. The surprising part to me, I suppose, is that incidents like this could still hurt me. I’d like to think I’ve built up a pretty thick skin these past three years. Goodness knows I’ve had plenty of practice at it.

But I was hurting, badly, and exhausted with it. So my defenses were down.

And here’s where we are. It’s Tuesday and her actions are still bothering me. The dirty looks of all who were watching are flooding my mind and eating away at me. All the good thoughts and happiness that has been poured over me in the last few days is soothing, but the hurt is still there.

My therapist, not to mention many of my dear friends, always tells me to write things out when they’re invading my mind. It doesn’t take the hurt away, but sometimes it helps me process it a bit better. So here I am, sharing this hurt with the world. Knowing that I’m not alone, and this probably won’t be the last time something like this happens.

All the while praying I’ll be stronger next time.

What do you do when a stranger hurts your feelings? What would you have done in my position?

My Happy Place

The lovely Echo tagged me this morning to share my happy place.

Much like Echo, my happy place is more a series of moments, little tidbits that make up an overflowing pool of happiness within me. Some are memories, some are actual places, some are dreams yet to be fulfilled, and some are the moments in my days that chase the dark away. These are the things I would think about if I were to fly with Peter Pan.

It’s a cozy chair, a mug of hot tea, a fuzzy blanket, and a good book.

It’s the joy and excitement my little doggy shows when we ask if he wants to go for a ride.

It’s looking into my newborn son’s eyes and seeing my future gazing back at me.

It’s an afternoon in the park, sprawled on a blanket under the sun. A picnic lunch after a trip to the library.

It’s the memory of a drawled, “Hello, dawlin.” and the feeling of knowing someone cares.

It’s a bubble bath, scented candles, and soft music playing.

It’s text messages from my son, little glimpses at his life away from me. It’s him telling me he loves and misses me.

It’s the kisses goodbye as Scotty leaves for work, and the kisses hello when he gets home in the evenings. It’s the texts throughout his day that let me know he’s thinking of me.

It’s an afternoon on the banks of the Puget Sound, a first date with a man my heart had known always.

It’s boardgames, Mario Kart, and popcorn and M&M’s.

It’s nights at Denny’s, sipping hot cocoa and getting to know each other.

It’s all the little things he does to make my life easier.

It’s afternoon naps with my doggy.

It’s hours long chats with the sisters of my heart. The talks about music, writing, life, and more that always leave me feeling loved and inspired.

It’s waking up each day and going to bed each night knowing I am loved, even when I don’t feel very lovable.

What is your happy place? Where do you go when you need a smile?

Vitriol

vitriol (noun) :

harsh and angry words

1. a sulfate of any various metals (as copper, iron, or zinc); especially : a glassy hydrate of such a sulfate

2. something felt to resemble vitriol especially in caustic quality; especially : virulence of feeling or speech

(source Miriam-Webster Dictionary)

I once read a story in one of my favorite books about a girl who threw oil of vitriol on another girl because she was jealous of her beauty. Though the story is simply a side note in a much bigger story, it has always stuck with me. Yesterday, my gal Joules’ post had me thinking of that story again.

I often feel like the words and attitudes of people are like throwing oil of vitriol into each others faces.

Think about it-

For every look that judges when I use the motorized scooters while shopping, for every angry word yelled while driving, for every time we call one another fat, skinny, obese, ugly, fake, plastic, lazy, {insert derogatory phrase here}…

It costs us nothing to sling this vileness from our lips, but the damage it causes others is much like an acidic burn, though we can’t see the scars it leaves. And we each carry our own scars, yet still…the burns fly from our mouths with little to no thought.

I’m just as guilty as the next, though being continuously judged these last few years has had its impact on me. Still I catch myself casting a sideways glance, and hear the unsavory thoughts that pass through my mind. I’ve often said I don’t judge based on appearances, I judge on actions. But who am I to pass judgement? I don’t know another’s story until they share it with me, and even then, who am I to pass judgement?

I firmly believe we must be the change we wish to see in the world. It’s why I started Spoons 4 Spoonies, and why I agreed to be a contributing writer for RheumatoidArthritis.com. How can I complain about the world without doing my part to change what I don’t like?

And so, I am challenging myself to be the change, to be the good I wish to see in others. I’m challenging myself to carry kindness in my heart. I want to be the kind of person who leads with compassion and understanding. I want to be an example for my son, to show him that it’s okay to be a gentle adult in what can be a harsh world.

And maybe, just maybe our kindness will soften the world, even if it’s just a little bit.

What change would you like to be? I challenge you to go after it. BE THAT CHANGE. I’m giving you the power, you can do it.

Ten Things For Which I’m Thankful

Yet another prompt from the SITS Girls, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Yesterday we were jarred awake at 2:30 am by a very loud boom and the deafening silence that said our power was out. Though we were able to go back to sleep, the power was still not back when it was time for Scotty to get ready for work, so he got to shower in the dark. The power finally came back to life right before 11:00 am, right around the time I was starting to panic about the food in my freezer and refrigerator.

Anyway, I told you all that to tell you this: You don’t realize how much you rely on things and/or take them for granted until they aren’t there anymore. So here are some things I’m trying not to take for granted today:

*Electricity. The microwave and toaster and TV and my laptop and the router which allows me to have WiFi for my phone. These modern conveniences are vital in my life, and I find I go just a little bit crazier without access to them.

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*Scotty. That man loves me when I’m crazy, when I’m sick and whiny, or when I’m panicky and hysterical over silly things. He calms me down, listens to me rant, and provides chocolate when all else fails. He is my rock, my safe harbor, and I would be truly lost without him.

*Fall. I’m so happy fall has decided to come to my little neck of the woods. Gone are the 90 degree days, and here are days of drizzly rain and cool winds. Now is the time for hot tea and apple cider, oatmeal for breakfast, and soups in the crockpot. This is my time.

My Girls

*Framily. Otherwise known as friends who are more like family. Nolan and Court. Tracie and her family. Teala. Natalie. Cindy-Lou. Fallah. Kerry. Cathy. Cathi. Rene. Rob. Shevaun and her family. Joules. Dawnie. Kristen and Seth. Amanda and John. These people lift me up and inspire me daily.

*My Doctors. And their staff. A medical community that genuinely cares about me. They call to check on how I’m feeling, and answer my litany of questions without any frustration. They help me to live the best life with chronic illness, and that’s no easy feat.

*Blogger Gals. The ladies from Ask Away Friday who have become friends, mentors, and bringers of inspiration. Bloggers I’ve known/followed for a while now who continue to make me want to be a better writer. Please check out the Blogroll in the sidebar to send these lovely peeps some smiles.

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*Jojo. The light of my life. My legacy. His text messages keep him here with me, even while he’s miles away plowing his way through middle school. The fact that he wants to play Fantasy Football with Scotty and I. All the little ways he tells me he loves me, and loves Scotty. His smile which will warm my heart always.

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*Toddy. Our adorable little doggy who loves me to pieces. His tail wags, snuggles, and kisses never cease to make me grin. When he senses I’m not feeling well and cuddles at my feet, like he’s guarding me from the yucky RA monsters. The way he snuffles and barks in his sleep as he dreams of…whatever doggies dream. The little dance he does when we ask if he wants to go for a ride in the car. The sheer JOY on his face when we take him for rides. He is a light in every single day.

*Music. Our extensive music library. The ability to stream music via my phone. That I can sit here and sing along as the words flow. New artists, old favorites, it all blends together to soothe me and encourage me. I close my eyes and let the melodies and lyrics carry me away to a place where the pain can’t quite reach me.

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My beautiful Oregon Coast. This was taken by me, about this time last year.

*Beautiful Photos. Instagram, Tamara’s blog, Facebook. The faces looking back at me from the frames on my wall. They keep loved ones near, show me places I can only dream about visiting, allow me to live vicariously through my friends, and show me glimpses of your lives. They capture memories and inspire me to remember the good, each and every day.

 

What are YOU thankful for today?

Hello Mother, I Need You To Hear Me

I need to say these things to you, and I need you to really HEAR me.

My health is important. It’s important to me, it’s important to Scotty, and I would hope it would be important to my parents. Your actions recently clearly state otherwise.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s hard for you to see your daughter sick, or if you honestly believe it’s some sad bid for attention. Whatever the reason behind your behavior, it’s unacceptable. I AM SICK. This is not up for debate.

I didn’t choose this, I certainly didn’t make it up, and it’s not just going to go away.

The medications I’m taking aren’t easy. They’re not easy on my body, and the decision to choose them as treatment doesn’t come easy. Ultimately I have to decide if I want to reduce my symptoms now and risk possibly shortening my life span or contracting another (often worse) illness, OR do I live without medication and spend my life confined to bed. I choose to risk the medication, because I want to live the best life I possibly can, for as long as I can. Maybe you’d make a different decision. Hopefully we never have to find out.

I know we’ve talked about this before, but for whatever reason, you still can’t seem to be the parents I need you to be. When you were diagnosed with cancer, my sisters and I were worried about you. I never questioned you, your diagnosis, or your treatment. I took care of you, helped in the best ways I knew how, and tried my best to support you. Is it wrong for me to expect the same from you?

I could sit here and explain the science behind my illness, but it really doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. I am sick. It is a lifelong illness. To date, there is no cure. I’m trying my hardest to live the very best life I can. If you can’t be a part of my treatment plan by being supportive and encouraging, then I must distance myself. The stress and anxiety over this strain in our relationship is not healthy for me. Your phone calls during my treatment yesterday caused my vital signs to freak out, and the nurse and doctor both had to calm me down.

That is completely unacceptable.

So this is me setting a boundary and trying to take care of myself. If I don’t answer your calls, you’ll know why. I can’t let your negativity and nonchalant dismissal of me and my illness continue to affect my well being. It breaks my heart to know I can’t count on my own mother for support while I battle the biggest fight of my life. I can only hope and pray my own son never has cause to feel this way about me…