Beware the label

I’ve talked about this before, I think it’s significant enough to reiterate.

STOP using ‘buzzwords’ to label someone else’s mental health in order to suit your personal agenda. STOP doing this in order to paint someone else in a negative light so that others can see them the way you want them to. STOP believing that if you have googled and read a couple of articles, that you are a diagnostician armed with all the knowledge you need.

Perhaps you were married to a REAL narcissist. You know first hand that this is a very different picture of someone who has a few narcissistic tendencies (we all do). Perhaps you were raised by someone with BPD (I was). This is not the same as being raised by someone who is occasionally prone to being selfish. Perhaps your child has a substance abuse disorder. You know the pain firsthand. Still, be cautious of the natural human tendency to believe everyone else’s experience is the same as or even similar to your own.

If you have lived and loved someone who struggles with mental illness, you know the power of labels. If you are the person who has experienced a mental health struggle, you know how it feels to have a label define you. Stereotypes stink.

If you haven’t walked in either of those shoes, there but for the grace of God go you. Be cognizant and kind for Heaven’s sake. There are strong consequences attached to doing anything else.

Finally, if you are in the mental health profession, STOP using buzzwords to support all that you are projecting from your own experiences. DO NO HARM stands whether your opinion and education are strong or not. Your feelings are not necessarily fact. Being in the field does not designate you as an unblemished judge of character; and friends…we are ALL blemished. Also, if you are in the mental health field, hold yourself to a higher standard, please. You represent a field people are already cautious of yet are greatly needed. Be trustworthy. Character assassination based on opinion or for any other reason is usually pretty unethical.. Utilizing tools that your education and experience has offered you to ruin somebody was never part of the deal when you became a mental health professional; if it was, you might have some work to do

I watched a real narcissist in action recently and my stomach hurt. My stomach hurt for the narcissist because I believe there is a big ole unhealed wound inside of them that never healed and likely never will (not like a narcissist to come to the point that they believe they need help…it’s part of the disorder). My stomach hurt for that person’s children and for the person they were once married to. This was real and consequences on all sides are traumatic.

Use your brain before you decide to act and especially before you attack.

Ch ch ch changes

Well, well, well….it’s a high probability that the offer on my home and my momma’s property will be closing on Friday.

I’m focusing on not getting stuck in the ‘what if’s’, the ‘should’ve, would’ve, could’ves” and the regrets.

I am ALL of the feels. I have lived here for the majority of my 47 years. This place is and will always be, ‘the farm’, to my family and I. This is hard. My heart feels torn in a million directions.

Meanwhile, I’m studying for the two tests I must take and pass to be under LPC candidacy supervision and then likely I will have more changes coming.

My kiddos are going through their own stuff and I want to be the best Momma I can be for them.

I feel afraid, I feel like I want to lapse into a state of frozen or helpless, both of which are NOT who I am.

Change is hard, right? It’s an inevitable part of life and I am trying my damndest to embrace it with joy and a sense of adventure while not denying the hurt of it all and the loss of certain dreams.

This morning the verse that I have kept in my heart since 2012 has continued to resonate loudly in my spirit. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locusts has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” Joel 2:25

I have a big ole habit of trusting the process and of trusting God in hindsight. Now it’s time to let go and trust with the everythings. Outta my hands.

Best Day Ever

I took a stroll down Memory Lane today. I was feeling incredibly teary as I begin to reminisce over all the changes. I felt especially sad that my children were not home to play in the snow with.

I put my boots on, layered my clothes and headed outside, intending to build a snowman.

As I sat back and admired my work, a sense of accomplishment overcame me. Gosh darn it. Countless positive changes have occurred in my life as a result of s*#t storms. I’ve grown immensely. Bonus…I’m having fun doing it.

Yesterday completed 100 days of exercise. I’m so proud…even if it took 169 days to get there! I graduated with an MA in counseling psychology with a 3.8 grade point. I have an amazing family and the best friends. I am learning that I am more capable, strong and powerful than ever I had believed. And I’m just getting started.

I laid in the cold snow and made snow angels until my booty was frozen. I built my snowman. I walked a mile through the slushy streets. I giggled at Maple’s frolicking. Simply enjoying this soulful aliveness.

Today is a wonderous, beautiful chance to live. Every moment is a chance for a new beginning.

Life. A gift.

Each breath. A gift.

Thank God.

#snowangels

#Snowdog

#clearhead

#peacefulheart

#feelthefeelsevenwhenitshard



To be Continued

The cohort gathered to the side, waiting for their turn to receive their diploma and thrilled to be in this moment together.  There was safety in this group, they each had grown leaps and bounds. Hearts were filled with adoration for each other, while tummies fluttered with anticipatory butterflies.  There was an aura of disbelief that they had actually made it through grad school and to this point.

Her name was called.  Feeling strong and proud, she went up the steps, handed her name card to one of the faculty and quietly pronounced her last name.  The nod came and she moved across the stage; pausing to have her hood placed by a professor that she deeply admired.  The next stop was the university’s President.  Her beaming smile was ready for their photo as they shook hands and looked into the camera.

Among the graduation attendees were members of her precious family.  The first face she saw walking out into the chairs was that of her beautiful mother.  She located both of her treasured children, her big brother and one of her beloved nieces.  She felt incredibly loved! Her heart was bursting with joy and gratitude that she was really here.

This was graduation.  It would go down as one of the best days of her life.  That evening, there was a celebratory dinner, tears, toasts, laughter and love.  So much love. Friends and family surrounding her, filling her cup to the brim and overflowing.  Her heart was bursting with gratitude and joy.  She breathed it all in; still slightly in disbelief that this was real.

She knows herself intimately; yet she senses there is so much more to know.  She is an onion, peeling back a layer at a time.  This higher education is the first dream she has pursued and seen to the finish line; she stepped into this with full faith and trust that it was exactly where she was supposed to be and all the details would fall into place.

She thinks back to an intensive emotional camp that she and her ex-husband took their two teenagers this last summer, in hopes of bringing healing to the wounds they had caused each other.  During that camp; there was an indoor ropes course.  She was paired with her beautiful 14 year old daughter, a reflection of her soul.  Here is what happened, as told by, ‘her’.

“I was terrified, not of the heights, but that I wouldn’t be able to balance.”  (She had struggled some with balance issues since the stroke many years ago.  In truth, she struggled with looking or feeling ‘broken’ more than she struggled with balance).

“I asked the person assisting us with the ropes course to please check that I was tightly fastened in, several times.” “They assured me of my safety, reminding me that the ladder could move anywhere and give me an out anytime I needed it.”  “I heard ‘C’mon Mom, you’ve got this, you can do this.’ Stella had already crossed the four wide swinging logs and made it to the next platform.  I looked at her sweet face and thought to myself, “I cannot disappoint her, again.”

“I held so tightly to the ropes that my fingertips could’ve become engrained in them.” ‘One…two…three…four steps and I made it.”  Stella was right there telling me what a good job I did.  I watched her cross onto the next platform by crawling through two swinging tunnels.  It looked easy enough.

Pfft.  Stella’s 14 year old lithe self is alot smaller than my 47 year old cushy self. ” In order to cross from one tunnel into the next, I had to squat inside the first one, step onto a square platform in a squat and drop into the next tunnel.”  “This is when my anxiety really started; I could feel my throat clenching as I reminded myself to breathe.  My arms ached from the death grip I had on the ropes.” “Still, always my cheerleader, Stella continued to cheer me on.”  “I stood up on the next platform, legs and arms shaking. ”  I saw the rows of skinny logs that were swinging and began to talk myself into a frenzy.”  “Stella was on the other side and right after this was the zipline, which I desperately wanted to do.”  “I wanted nothing more than to show my daughter that we were in this together, I trusted her, I would do this.”

“My fear gave way and on the next to the last swinging log, I began to sob.  Loud.” “I asked Stella to get a worker to help me.” “She didn’t want to, she told me I was almost there, but I was hearing nothing louder than my fear and doubt.”

“The kind eyed, young girl came to help me.  She assured me she could get the ladder but told me that I only had one step left and I would be safe on the steady platform.” “She held out her hand and I took it and stepped across.”  “I made it!  Disbelief in my success, again.”

“I apologized profusely to Stella.  I felt ashamed of my emotional, loud fear and tears that everyone could see.”  “I don’t know what Stella saw, she hugged me and I hope, even if she was embarrassed, she was proud of me.”

So…okay…”she” is “me”.  This is my own story to own.  Here’s the thing I learned from that ropes course.  It was an exact mirror to my life.  There are numerous things that have been important to me.  I get right on the edge of success and I quit.  I stop.  I freeze.  Why?  Maybe because I don’t know what’s on the other side.  The devil we know is better than the one we don’t know, right?  All too often, I yield to my own fear rather than ask for a little help.  I had no idea that a ropes course would offer me such deep insight to my life.

One week post graduation…

I’m going through all of the graduation cards and gifts I recieved last week and soaking in all of the gratitude.

It’s not about the sentiments and gifts, though I am deeply thankful for them. They are the cherry on top of the sundae. No way, in all of ever, would I have graduated without the constant love, prayers, support, encouragement, and appropriate ass kickings when I needed them.

For so many reasons, I never thought I’d be ‘here’. My brother knows me well. On my card, he wrote, “What’s next? No reason to stop now.” Because it’s what I’ve done so many times…I stop right before I succeed. (see ropes course example)

I realize that the last week I have been a little frozen, a lot sad and slightly discouraged. What is next? I DON’T KNOW! I like to know, you know?

Last night I had a dream. It pinged me so hard that I woke to write it in my journal so I wouldn’t forget it.

The sage and kind therapist my ex-husband and I saw for three years, Missy, was in my dream. I was in her office, telling her of all my woes. Before I left, she told me she had a gift for me.

She reached up on her tippy toes and pulled a small item out from the back of a cabinet. She held her hand out and in it was a key. She asked me what this key represented to me. Odd question, I thought…even for a dream. Yet, I knew. Missy gave me one of her famously warm, reassuring hugs that let me know life would be okay. Better than okay. I thanked her and left her office.

I took a black sharpie, and on the key, I wrote, “OWNERSHIP.” I can’t stop reflecting this morning as I feel joy and pride swelling up inside my heart. This is my life. I must live it and I must live it well.

This journey has just begun. I have the key to open the doors.

I HAVE THE KEY.

 

P.S. Stella and I rode together to my graduation.

During the drive, in Stella fashion; “I want to tell you something mom but you can’t get all cheezy.

Me: “Sure love, what’s up?”

Stella: “I am so, so proud of you.”  (Immediately followed by a hand and, “That’s it!  Don’t get cheezy.”

That is more than enough.

Cha-Ching

Those credit cards that are offered with no interest for a year…then if you don’t pay, the interest has accrued the entire time and CHA-CHING….everything is due.  #life

All the emotions, desires, regrets, grief and stuff that I have managed to keep nicely boxed seems to be screaming….”BALANCE PAST DUE!”

In honor of this reconciliation; Spotify gifts me with ” my most loved songs of 2019″. Songs of life, love and love lost permeate the air.

I dream up all the things that life is not but ‘should be’ and try to fit those things nicely with the reality life is offering. My thoughts are intertwined with a hurting heart and I’m desperately fighting to simply ‘sit with “It”; “It” being the unpleasantness.

The wind is strong, the night is dark.  I imagine the leaves dancing and fluttering their way to new locations; far from the safety of the now barren trees they once were attached to.

If the leaves could talk, I feel we would have much in common.  I, too, am fluttering about; unsure of where I will land next.

I see that someone else is living in the life that was once mine.  I want to latch onto the notion that this is not how things ‘should’ be.  I want to take back what is ‘mine’.  That thought makes me laugh.  It also makes me cry.  I own nothing and nothing is mine.

I am.  That is sufficient.

The home I have known my entire 47 years is for sale.  My heart is broken yet I know these  broken pieces still make a whole and my home is truly where my heart is.

My oldest kiddo is driving.  My youngest kiddo just got rid of her braces. I got a “new to me” car.

I have completed a Master’s program and am simultaneously thrilled and terrified.  I followed through with a really hard task, and I struggle to not allow the worry of the unknowns steal the joy of now.

Three years later, it has dawned on me that it’s perfectly good and okay to move on from the marriage I once had.  I just have to figure out how.  I want my own version of a fairy tale.  Before that, I have to surrender my all to the God I (kind of) trust.

Stretching.  Trusting.  (Trying hard).

A fluttering, sputtering leaf who desperately wants to safely land.

Please God, just let me land.

 

 

 

 

Bless my ta-ta’s…and yours too.

In the interest of ta-ta self care, I got a mammogram today.  Once a year fun…women unite…get your boobies checked!

I chose to wear a blouse…you know…even though legally I could’ve chosen otherwise. (because our state just declared that I am welcome to go topless anywhere if I so choose).

I didn’t wear deodorant there because we are directed to not wear deodorant to a mammogram.

Good news. The clinic supplies you with antiperspirant spray to use after the mammogram.

Bad news…that spray is sticky and smells less than lovely.

When you take your top off, you get amazing little booby band aids very strategically placed.

Good news…little flowery band aids create fun little nipple art.

Bad news…they really stick to skin and are a little hard to peel off.

The mammogram machine now takes a 3D image.

Good news…a 3D image shows more stuff.

Bad news…this machine didn’t find a way to not stretch and squish tender skin to ten buck two without the ouchie factor!

And we will end on good news…I am here to tell about it! lol

 

Why do we call them ta-ta’s anyway?

The moment I am in

Dear Sis,

Let’s sum up today…

1) My heart is in the weirdest place. Trying to find contentment and value in the now. Like all of the now…not just the parts I enjoy.

2) I thought all week that I had school this weekend and assignments due but I have another entire week before that happens so…whew.

3) I’m baking a bakery full of cookies tonight if that tells you anything.

4) I shared the stories of what I remember of 9/11 with my kiddos. I told them that when it happened, John was a newborn, his dad was out of town working, and I called Nana and couldn’t stop crying b/c I wondered what kind of world I had brought a child into. Today, I pray that these two kiddos make an impact on their world and I am so thankful for them. Everyday, especially on days like today when we are reminded of the preciousness of life.

5) I turned in my graduation application today. What? What? Sooooo in awe!

6) Seasons are changing. Big time.

7) It is supposed to rain this weekend. This means I can write and write and write to my heart’s content…because, you know…rain.

8) Trying to understand why I’m not always in charge of the letting go/letting in process. As a matter of fact…why am I not always in charge?

9) Brains are a funny, magical thing. Actually, brains are funny and intriguing…kisses are magical.

10) My emotions are many tonight, my heart is full, and I’m simply grateful that I can and will process through all of it.

Go to bed sis.

Tom, Dick and Harry

I am thankful for Tom, Dick and Harry in my dating life. Every single one of them has taught me a valuable lesson or is going to teach me a valuable lesson and I absolutely am grateful for that.

Harry, I just wasn’t your Sally but she’s out there and I hope you find her.

Dick, you were fun…sometimes. Other times you really sting. Since one of us has to look a little deeper and I can only control my actions, it’s going to be me. Adios.

Tom , are you out there? I’m ready for you…I think.

Ex

So…here’s the thing. My ex-husband is not just my ex-husband. He is first and foremost, the father of my children and a dear friend.

I realize that we seem unique to many in our relationship after marriage; and it took us a long while to find our way to this place. I know that our relationship is a gift and I do not take it for granted one single moment.

I will always honor Nathan for the reasons I listed above and I will always respect him and cherish his friendship. It’s a two way street and I am grateful.

Our hope is that one day, if and when we each find a new love in our life, and the time is right; we will make room for them as our families expand.

After all, we had two amazing children together and we know that parenting them is a God given privilege. We do our best to treasure that privilege.

Again, I know that our dynamic is different and it may be difficult for some to grasp the nature of our relationship without making it into something it is not.

My thoughts…we really are just two people doing what works for our family, as it has changed shape…it is still our family.

You do you boo, right?

Love to you all.