Tag Archives: relationships

An Open Letter To Chronic Illness

We’ve not known each other long, dear, but you’ve insinuated yourself into every aspect of my life. In fact, there is not a part of my life that you’ve not touched, and I thought it was time I finally told you how I really feel about you.

I resented you when you first showed up. And honestly? There are still times where I resent your presence and everything it means. I hate all the things you’ve stolen from me, but more importantly, all the happiness I’ve let you take. I despise the impact you’ve had on me, my relationships, and my body.

But…

BUT.

Your arrival has changed my life in many positive ways, and for that, I must thank you. You’ve strengthened my relationship with my fiance, even while you’ve made life harder. Without your pushing your way into my life, I wouldn’t have found how strong I truly can be. I wouldn’t have met some of the most precious people I’ve ever known. I wouldn’t have followed my dreams.

I do hate how your presence means a revolving schedule of doctor appointments, medications, and sleepless nights. I don’t like our days spent curled up on the couch together or the times you keep me from my favorite activities.

But I have to admit I like how life has slowed down for me since you’ve been here. I am grateful for your forcing me to stop and smell the roses. Without you, I’d probably still be rushing about, now I know how to appreciate the quieter pace. When you came along and showed me how short and hard life can be, you taught me to treat every day as a gift, and I’ve tried very hard to do that.

Overall, I suppose I’m grateful for all you’ve taught me, though I wouldn’t say no if you wanted to take your leave. You’ve made me stronger and more compassionate, even while your pain feels as though it’s tearing me apart. The conundrum that is our relationship is both a blessing and a curse. And I suppose that’s the way it must be.

In closing, I must thank you for changing my life. For all the good, and yes, the bad as well. I suppose you’re now very much a part of me, and I don’t quite know what I’d do without you.

Keep on living, I guess.

Chosen Family

Family comes in many forms. There’s the family into which we’re born and the ones into which we marry. There’s also the family we choose.

Most of my adult life, I’ve found myself drawn to people whom I call family, though we share no blood connection. Instead we are bonded by something stronger, a love of choosing, not obligation.

My chosen family has held me up when I thought my life was ending. They held my swollen hands as we learned of my diagnosis, and have walked by my side all through this life with chronic illness. They have watched Scotty and I fall in love, and have celebrated each memory with us these past five years. They will be the ones at our sides this summer when we make our promises to each other, and they will be the ones dancing into the night with us afterwards.

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My chosen family are angels who make dreams come true, who make the impossible possible. They hold me up when I’m sure I can’t stand on my own, and have shown me just how strong I really am. They answer midnight text messages and phone calls, and have held me over the miles as we mourned together. They are the sisters and brothers and surrogate mother I never knew I needed until they came into my life. And now I know I could not live without them.

I will always love the family into which I was born, and the family into which I am marrying, but this family of my heart? They are my heart, always.

Do you have a chosen family?

Stream Of Consciousness- The Holidays Are Here

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but a few of my loves from the Facebook writing group have linked up. And wouldn’t you know it, about five minutes of freewriting might be all I have in me today. Yeah, I know it’s not Saturday or Sunday, but I really don’t think anyone’s gonna mind too much.

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There is a Christmas tree in my living room. It’s not decorated yet, that will come later this week. But it’s here, with its reminder that the holidays are here as well.

Not that I needed another reminder.

My mother has been calling for weeks, trying to nail down plans for Thanksgiving. In her state, she hasn’t heard me each time I’ve told her that we won’t be joining them for the holidays this year. As much as I want to see my sisters, the stress of dealing with my parents is just too much for me. Not that Mom wants to hear that.

Stress has been really bad here, lately. I’m not sleeping well, the teeth clenching isn’t going away, and I can feel a flare coming. Can’t do much about it, though, cuz I can’t stop stressing.

Stressing about money, about Christmas gifts. About my mom and her drinking. About my health, about my fiance’s health. Whether or not we’ll both qualify for health insurance again this year. Whether my doggy has arthritis and that’s why he’s been struggling to jump onto our bed at night. Stressing about finding placement for my father-in-law. Stressing about the wedding, and how we’ll ever be able to afford anything. How we still haven’t found a venue, how we need photos so we can do save-the-dates.

The stress doesn’t go away.

But in the meantime, there’s apple butter simmering away in my crockpot. And that’s another sign, the holidays are here.

Wordless Wednesday…With Some Words

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

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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?

Giving Myself Permission

My friend Echo has been writing these posts, “Hey, It’s Okay…” and they’re pretty awesome. I love how she puts herself out there, while simultaneously giving herself the permission to just be her, however she may be feeling in that moment.

I’ve toyed with doing a post of my own, but it hasn’t really felt right. Until today. Today, when my heart is heavy with words I can’t share here, and feelings that are too much.

So with a gentle nudge from one of my newest and most wonderful friends…

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If I can’t help my mother the way she wants.

If I need to put my health (both physical AND mental) above the needs of those around me.

If the tears flow at the drop of a hat. Sometimes you just need a really good cry. Or ten.

To stick up for myself.

To be sad and angry at this disease, as long as I acknowledge those feelings instead of bottling them up.

If I want to take a day off and curl up with a Parenthood on Netflix marathon instead of facing responsibilities.

To ask for help.

To admit I can’t do something.

To take my own advice, and take care of me.

Gratitude Born From Pain

GratefulMondays

I woke up this morning with the worst headache I’ve had in at least a decade. Fortunately, I have a great fiance, great medical staff, and great spoonie friends who all came together to make sure I could get over the worst of it and still function today.

So here’s some gratitude born out of the pain of this morning.

*I’m grateful for a man who will set aside his own pain to do anything in his power to ease mine.

*I’m grateful for Christina, my nurse, who answers my calls and all of my panicked questions with calm and compassion.

*I’m grateful for my friend Lana, who also has RA, who never gets mad when I text her with random RA questions and whining.

*I’m grateful for a doggy who senses his mama isn’t feeling well, and spends his morning curled up next to me, as quiet and as comforting as can be.

*I’m grateful for plans that are flexible, and friends who understand.

*I’m grateful for a night out with our favorite couple (who are visiting from Canada). For sharing pizza, and hugs, and selfies. For laughs and smiles, and conversations where it feels like they haven’t been gone these last few months.

*I’m grateful for early Christmas that came with fuzzy pajama pants and a slew of presents to go under our tree when it goes up in a few weeks.

*I’m grateful for the medicines that worked this morning so that I could finally open my eyes without wanting to scream. So I could look at a computer screen without wanting to puke.

*I’m grateful for Andrea and the writing group she started on Facebook. It’s kept me motivated while we all participate in #NaBloPoMo. For all the writing prompts and comments. For the shares and support. For the encouragement and belief that together, we can all achieve this goal.

*I’m grateful for a partner who hasn’t given up on me. Who continues to lift me up, no matter all the different setbacks. Who has embraced this new me instead of walking away from such an unpredictable life.

 

What are YOU grateful for this chilly Monday morning?

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?

I Found Framily On A Mountaintop

On the Wednesday before Halloween five years ago, a new friend and I headed off for a little road trip. Little did we know our trip would involve a flat tire and being stuck on the side of a mountaintop road for the better part of six hours. Overnight.

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I met Nolan the same way I met Scotty, in a local internet chat room. Though, to be honest, Nolan and I didn’t chat much. When I finally met Nolan in person, it was in this weird period of time where we were both visiting our significant others and contemplating whether or not to move to be with them.

Since Nolan’s girlfriend and Scotty both worked, he and I often spent our days chatting while looking into relocating. We talked about everything under the sun, though much of our conversations often centered around food. Nolan is a great cook, and I was just starting to consider myself as more than just an “okay” cook. We shared recipes, talked about our favorite chefs, and day dreamed of one day opening a restaurant and writing our own cookbooks.

So on this Wednesday before Halloween, Nolan and I decided to take a road trip together to pick up a few things from our respective home towns to facilitate our moves to this new city. This trip took us damn near all over our great state and just as we were nearing the homestretch, we got a flat tire. On the top of a mountain. In the snow. In the middle of the night.

The car was borrowed, the tools didn’t fit the wheels, we were both dressed for valley weather, and not the snow. I had no cell reception and his battery was dead. We sat huddled outside an abandoned mountain resort office, using the outdoor outlet to plug in his phone so we could call for help. Our help was coming from nearly 3 1/2 hours away, and so we huddled in our respective front seats, occasionally turning on the car for heat. To keep ourselves from going crazy, or possibly giving way to hypothermia, we munched on junk food and talked. Somewhere around 4:00 am, we fell into hysterics. We joked and laughed about things which made no sense. We crafted the nicknames “Nubs and Stubs.”

Most of all, we kept each other sane. And somewhere between our toes going numb and all the Mountain Dew and Redvines, I realized that this guy had worked his way into my heart. I knew no matter what happened, he would always be my best friend.

Help arrived and we got the tire changed. We drove the rest of the way back to our new city, arriving nearly exactly 24 hours after we had left. We were cold, tired, crashing from a sugar overload, and more than a little angry at circumstances. But we had a new friend in each other, and memories to bind us.

Five years later Nolan (aka Nubs) is still my best friend, my adopted brother. We still laugh about that night stuck on the side of the mountain road, though others don’t seem to see the humor we do. Guess you had to be there.

Nolan is family. He will be the one who officiates mine and Scotty’s wedding next summer, and he’s the one I turn to always. There are many who don’t understand our relationship. Many who think men and women can’t be friends without some sort of romantic ish. There are many who swear we’re leading some sort of secret affair behind Scotty’s back. Those people? I feel sorry for them. How sad it must be to not have friends you count as family, no matter their gender. And how horrible it must be to be so mistrusting of those around you. Scotty is more than fine with mine and Nolan’s friendship, he also considers Nolan family. Nolan’s girlfriend, Court (NOT the one from five years ago), is also more than okay with our relationship. She is family. I call her my sister-in-law, and know I can turn to her for anything.

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Nubs and Court have helped us move three separate times. They come to see Scotty play, and celebrate birthdays with us. We celebrate each others’ kiddos and life moments. They live about an hour away, and sometimes we don’t see each other for months, but it doesn’t change that we are all the very best of framily.

And to think, it all started on the side of a mountaintop with a flat tire.

It’s Monday And I’m Grateful

GratefulMondays

*I’m grateful for five years of love, compassion, support, encouragement, and honesty. I’m grateful for a partner who is my perfect half, the yin to my yang, the balance to my chaos, the arms that hold me up when I want to fall.

*I’m grateful for medical staff who are caring, who listen, who show the appropriate amount of concern for a potentially urgent problem.

*I’m grateful his heart is healthy.

*I’m grateful for friends who can talk to me about our doggies, our crappy over-achieving immune systems, and how to balance treatment options with managing a life.

*I’m grateful for new antibiotics that seem to finally be kicking this massive sinus infection’s wicked booty.

*I’m grateful for insurance that covers the spendier antibiotics required.

*I’m grateful he is strong enough to worry about me. It gives me strength when it’s my turn to worry about him.

*I’m grateful for memories that still ache my heart. They remind me I haven’t become so callous in what is an increasingly negative world.

*I’m grateful for gin rummy, popcorn and chocolate, football on our tv kinda afternoons that help to ease my grief.

*I’m grateful for a son who remembers to text his mama. For a son who still tells me he loves me.

*I’m grateful that I have my son, even while I mourn my daughter.

*I’m grateful for Cathy. I’m grateful for her generosity, her understanding, and for her adopting me into her family.

*I’m grateful for love, in all its many forms, and all the ways it has manifested in my life, especially in the last week or so.

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?