Times Need A-Changin’

 

Hello All!  I am back!  Sorry for the long break in writing, but, as it turns out, ph.d school gets insane at the end of the semester.  I survived and completed it with a 3.9 GPA (thanks to one A-). In addition to being busy, I hit a HORRIBLE depression again.  One of doubt and impostor syndrome.  I had continual feelings that I didn’t belong in graduate school.  The work was easy, but I just felt that I couldn’t do it.  That it was a huge mistake for me moving to get my ph.d.  Yes, I made great friends, but the lack of guidance and support made me feel lost.  Attacked.  Defeated.  Dumb.  A loser.  Not at the level of that of the others in the program.  Thoughts of cutting came and another suicidal idealization.

Now, that I have come out at the other side, I look back and realize that I am MUCH younger than most people in the program.  I am 27.  They are in their 40’s.  There is a huge difference.  I have also endured more conflict and issues in my life span that probably most of those people in that room.  They all have families and friends.  I don’t.  I stick out like a sore thumb.  There was also the issue of financial means.  As a graduate assistant, I make very, very, very little to live on.  It’s not even enough to pay rent.  So begins the look for coaching and tutoring positions to at least be able to live.  With all of this begin said, I decided to change in 2017.  I need more confidence.  I need to get my depression to calm down.  I need to focus on making and maintaining GOOD friends.  This is what I am doing to change:

  1. I have joined a co-worker, that works in my shared graduate teaching assistant office, on her Beach Body team.  I am beginning with a 21 day fix and the Core De Force workout.  I am excited to begin hardcore workouts again.  I need to do this to get my confidence back (the enormous weight gain from my depression doesn’t help my confidence AT ALL.  If anything, it makes me want to hide).
  2. I am leading my own research team starting this next semester and working hard to get three of my own studies published by the end of 2017.  I am also entering some graduate research symposiums where I will be able to share my research and start to get noticed.
  3. I am traveling all over the U.S. for conferences in my field.  It is expensive and most of it is on my dollar, but I NEED to start networking to get ahead and start making a difference in this field. I am heading to Florida in a few weeks and Boston in a few months.
  4.  I am going to take charge.  I am no longer going to sit and wait for opportunities to come to me.  I am going to find the opportunities myself.

Wish me best of luck as I go through this.  It is going to take a lot of mind power and maybe starting therapy again.  I haven’t seen a therapist since I moved in July and I think it is time to start.

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Depression Has Never Been Better

Two weeks ago, I went to a pet store to hold and play with little puppies for stress relief.  I went right to a white little fur ball.  He rolled over for a belly rub.  I gave him one and we fell in love with each other.  An hour later, I walked out with him.  A 4-month-old purebred Pomeranian.  I have named him Teddy.  Everyone asks if it is because of Teddy Roosevelt.  I just say, “suuuurrreee…”  But no, it’s really because he looks like a teddy bear.

These past two weeks have changed me.  I have noticed that I get more done and turn out better work.  I ACTUALLY get up in the morning because now I have a reason to.   I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in 2 weeks.  That’s a record for me since my father passed.  I noticed this and asked myself, “what changed?”  Well, I now have a reason to live.  I have something that truly loves me and I love it.  We have a bond that I have never had with a dog before.  It’s like he knows my condition and wants to heal me.  Someone told me the other week, “he needs you and you need him.”  I have had two people comment on how I glow now and seem happier.  Teddy is my therapy.  My life will never be the same.  He has saved me.

I am working on getting him to therapy classes to train him to be a therapy dog.  He makes me happy and is saving me from my depression.  He makes everyone he sees happy.  I want him to help others the way he helps me.  My dream is to get him fully certified as a therapy dog and take him to the Children’s hospital here to spend time with the children there.  We are working on it.

So, Teddy…I know you can’t read or talk, but I know you know how much I appreciate you.  You have saved my life.  I will never be the same.  ❤

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You Can’t Go Home Again

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As everyone who suffers from depression knows, depressive shutdowns are bound to happen every now and then.  I had one this week.  It was pretty rough.  A social situation happened and then my sister (the only one I talk to) broke the news to me that there was a scare of some lymph node swelling on her lungs being lung cancer.  Well, I got into full blown can’t breathe panic attack mode as I laid on my bed (still in my dress clothes from the day) and sobbed.  I wanted my mom.  I wanted to talk to her.  It took me 4-5 hours to stop sobbing and I had a splitting headache so all I could do was go to bed with an ice pack on my head.

I had a four day weekend this weekend, so I decided to take Friday off and venture out into the mountains to a little town.  Just to give my soul some rest and marvel in the beauty of a new place.  Traveling alone to new places just helps me get grounded again.  While there, I traced the steps of Thomas Wolfe (he was born and raised in this town).  I went and toured the house he grew up in, looked at monuments dedicated to him, and even went to see where he is buried.  Honestly, I have never read a Thomas Wolfe book.  I didn’t even know who he was until I watched the movie Genius a few weeks ago (and only because Fitzgerald was in it).  I quickly came to realize that I relate to Thomas Wolfe.  Passages from Look Homeward Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again spoke to me.  He had a situation much like mine and wrote about it.  He was traumatized by the death of a loved one at a young age and moved away from the town he grew up in, vowing to never go back.  That is just like me.

I sat down to lunch by myself at a nice little bistro.  I watched people walk by as I ate.  Then, I got the idea to text someone that used to be a friend pictures of Thomas Wolfe’s stuff because literature is something she enjoys.  It made me think of her and I just thought she would enjoy it.  One thing led to the other and we got to talking about “us.”  We were pretty much unbiological sisters before my father passed away.  After my father passed, we hardly talked and decided to just stop being friends.  It was a lot for me to handle.  The death of a parent, family, and best friend all at once.  No wonder I went crazy.

For some reason, I just kept hoping I could open this relationship back up.  That we maybe could go back to being friends.  But, I was wrong.  Every time I open the lines of communication with some hope, I am wrong.  I understand there is hurt on both sides.  I finally admitted to her that all I ever wanted was for her to be there for me.  For a hug from her.  For some comfort from her.  For some indication from her that she cared about me during my time of sorrow.  It never came.  All that ever happened was fighting or silence.  Both therapists I have had told me to just let it go.  To let the friendship die because someone that can’t be there for you in the worst of times, can’t be there with you in the best of times.  I agreed with them.  I understood.  I tried to tell myself to not look back and just cut the line.  But, I kept hoping.  I finally understood on Friday that I can’t do this to myself anymore.  I am so tired of life and fighting.  Why should I be tired and exhausted from one more thing?  I have got to stop hoping and trying.  As Thomas Wolfe says in You Can’t Go Home Again:

“The human mind is a fearful instrument of adaptation, and in nothing is this more clearly shown than in its mysterious powers of resilience, self-protection, and self-healing. Unless an event completely shatters the order of one’s life, the mind, if it has youth and health and time enough, accepts the inevitable and gets itself ready for the next happening like a grimly dutiful American tourist who, on arriving at a new town, looks around him, takes his bearings, and says, “Well, where do I go from here?”

Final Stage: Acceptance

Hi ya’ll!  I apologize for not being able to get a post out.  Doctoral school has been insanely busy.  Emails to publishers, doing statistical analysis, reviewing the quality of research studies, etc.  It’s kept me more busy than I have wanted to be, but it’s a good thing.  I have been meaning to write to ya’ll about the final stage of grief: acceptance.  I decided to take some time off from the academics this morning to do just this.

Let’s talk about the seven stages of grief: shock, denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, depression, and acceptance.  Those of us who have lost some we dearly loved know these stages quite well.  Hell, I didn’t even have to look them up.  Pretty much an expert on each of those.  When you lose a dearly loved one, you do go through each of those stages.  It doesn’t happen in any specific order and sometimes you regress and hit several stages more than once, twice, three times, etc.  It’s a true roller coaster.

Through my journey of grief, I found that I spent most of my time in the anger and depression stages.  The anger stage took me about seven months to get out of.  The depression stage, well I am still in it.  Still medicated for that.  This stage got me a diagnosis of insomnia, generalized anxiety disorder, binge eating disorder, and major depressive disorder.  All straight out of the DSM-5.  I was given two different sleeping medications and the highest dose of an anxiety/depression combined medication.  All of these I still take and don’t see myself getting off of them any time soon.  I went through two different therapists with weekly sessions for over a year.  I almost got sent to the ER for an evaluation and an eating disorder clinic, both of which I begged and talked my therapists out of.  I was irrational, angry, not of sound mind, and wanted to end it all.  I didn’t care about me or any of the accomplishments I have made in life.  I had no pride.  I was worthless and not deserving of anything or anyone.  I tried self harm….many times.  Alcohol….went there just once, then never again.  Point being: My grief story is intense.  Many of your grief stories are quite the same.  Grief is intense.  It’s all consuming.  I wish it on no one.

Two months ago, I relocated far away from where my “home” was.  It took this life altering change to snap me back into things.  I am slowly recovering from my depression.  I am a work in progress. I will get there.  Stages still come and go, but I can pull myself out of them more easily now.  I believe I have finally hit the acceptance stage.  I can say, “You know what, my parents are dead.  They aren’t coming back.  That’s the fact.  They are gone.  I still love them like mad, but they aren’t here in person anymore.  They won’t be at anything I do.”  I can now tell people more freely that my parents have passed away.  Before, I used to clam up and never talk when people asked what my parents did.  Now, I am able to talk about how they died, how it happened, and what happened to me when it happened.  I have come to the conclusion that I have a survivor story to tell, so why not tell it?  Why should I be ashamed that my parents have died.  It wasn’t something I could control.  I should be proud of myself for surviving both of their deaths at a very young age.  And you know what, I am.  None of my attempts to end it all went through.  I should be proud of that.  And you know what, you should be proud of yourself too.  You are a survivor.  We can play a “victim of life” role so easily.  But, we must change our mindsets.  We are not victims.  We are survivors.  All of you enduring grief right now remember that.  You are a survivor of the hardest circumstance any human being can ever go through.  You lost a piece of your heart and you survived.  You ARE a survivor.

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Research and Ramblings

Hello y’all.  I know, it’s been like forever since I have written a post for you.  I have some major ideas and revelations that I have been meaning to get out to you, but just haven’t had the time.  Here’s why….

I am now permanently located in Tennessee and working on my phd in special education.  I am here for a minimum of 4 years.  Life is been pretty busy with research, readings, teaching classes, grading, and basically just trying to stay on top of it all.  This has certainly been a major learning curve for me and has come with major brain exhaustion.  But, let me tell you, this is some pretty exciting stuff.  I’ll just say that something great always comes from throwing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

I will catch you all up with my grief/depression/eating disorder in my next post.  Just wanted to explain my absence.  I promise you some hard hitting info in my next one.

Taking One Life Altering Chance in Life

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A few weeks ago, I spent a week in Knoxville, Tennessee to discover what will become my new home.  It was my first ever visit.  People from work have been telling me that I am crazy and have a lot of guts to sign a 4 year contract to a place I have never been and where I don’t know anyone for over 1,000 miles.  I just kept shrugging and saying, “I have nothing to lose.  I took a chance and we will see how it goes.  It’s time for me to find my place in this world.”  I haven’t been nervous about this move.  I have been looking at it with great optimism that everything will work out.  That God wants me here and will provide for me.

I was excited the day I flew out of Fargo.  But, when I boarded my connecting flight in Chicago, I became nervous.  I had butterflies and kept thinking, I am crazy.  What if this place is nothing like I think it is.  I pushed these thoughts aside and kept thinking about the chance I was taking and how much I would make this work.

As I viewed the city from the window of the airplane, I was nervous.  Extremely nervous.  This place was going to be where I lived for the next four years, whether I liked it or not.  I looked more out the window and noticed how beautiful the mountains and surrounding area were.  A smile came to my face and all I could think was, I can’t believe I get to live here.  It is so beautiful.  

My week was filled up with finding a place to live and meetings at the university.  I was lucky enough to love the apartment I looked at the day we arrived.  It was an amazing community that made me feel right at home.  And the apartment….well that was fabulous.  It is NOTHING like what you would get where I am currently from.  It was so “Southern.”  I loved it and signed the lease.  The ladies were extremely nice, well mannered, and made me feel right at home.  It will be a great place to live.

Since I found a place to live so fast, I was able to do the tourist thing on my spare time.  So, I took in the town and area for four days.  I noticed while I was walking through the World’s Fair Park that I was actually smiling and laughing.  My depression wasn’t there.  It was like all burdens and depressive thoughts were lifted from me.  I felt normal.  I felt happy.  I liked how I felt.

My sister and I ate at the Cheesecake Factory for supper one night.  The waiter looked at my ID to make sure I was 21.  I told him to look at where I was from.  He was all like, “Whoa!!!! North Dakota!  Is this real?”  I then told him I was moving to Knoxville to get my Ph.D.  He got excited and gave my sister and I both free sundaes with candles on top and said, “This my ladies, is for your new beginning.  Here’s to new beginnings!”  My sister and I laughed and blew out the candle.  We couldn’t stop smiling.  Everyone was so nice there.  Everything was beautiful.  As we ate our sundaes, my sister looked over at me and said, “Everything is just falling into place for you.  It’s almost like……..almost like mom and dad are making this all happen for you.”  I smiled and thought about this.  As I thought, I came to the conclusion that she was right.  It was like my mom and dad were saying to me, “Darling….it’s finally time for you to be happy again.”  All I could do was smile.  I felt closer to them there then I ever did/do here.  My heart no longer felt hard and cold.  It felt warm and fuzzy.  It felt love.  I could finally feel it beat again.  I came to the realization that I now have to try my hardest in everything I do and love everyone that much more because everything I do shows my parents.  I want the love and kindness my parents had to radiate through me.

On this visit, I had many adventures.  I noticed that I quickly ticked off items from my bucket list.  The ones I can cross of include:

-Rode in a hot air balloon- and viewed the mountains from a good 1,000+ feet in the air.

-Saw actual Titanic artifacts- from the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge (including the $1.7 billion dollar violin and case that was played by Wallace Hartley as he played hymns while the ship was sinking to calm the passengers).

-Hiked in actual mountains.

-Immersed myself in the culture and way of life in a place I have never been.

As I was walking through downtown Knoxville on one of these days, a thought came to me.  This thought was, my dreams are coming true.  All my dreams are finally coming true.  This is all I have ever wanted.  I am going to fall madly in love.  Head over heels in love.  And I know this will be true.  I will fall passionately in love with the place I am going to live and maybe even with a man that I may someday call my loving husband and father to my children.

 

In Session Tears

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For the first time since I started therapy a year ago, I cried in session.  Usually, my tears are saved for the car.  But, this time I couldn’t help it.  I cried for 15 minutes with my new therapist trying to get out of me what I was feeling as I cried.  I’ve been meaning to write about this since it happened on Wednesday, but I have been so vulnerable since the session that I just knew I couldn’t write about it without crying.  I have a big cup of coffee and think I am ready for this now…..here it goes.

My therapist and I got to talking about family because I told her that I refused to go see my siblings this weekend as they cleaned out my parents’ house.  I told her how I don’t have a relationship with any of them (besides my one sister) and that they all hate me and no longer talk to me.  I also told her how I told my sister that if she doesn’t get better and something happens to her, I would most likely do something to myself.  Then, she asked me, “besides your one sister, do you have any other long-term friends that you can talk with?”  I shook my head and answered, “No.  My sister is my only long-term friend.”  She asked me why.   I told her all about how my best friend of 7 years no longer talk due to things that happened this year.  How there have been attempts to restore friendship, but all efforts failed.   I told her how my other friend of 4 years left me bawling in an airport and hasn’t talked to me since.  As I told the stories of these two friends, she sat there and nodded.  Then, she said, “well, grief turns a person into something they could never be otherwise.  We often don’t remember it, but when we hear of what we did we think ‘what?  I did what?'”  I nodded and said, “Isn’t that the truth!”  My therapist then proceeded to tell me the reason as to why she thought these friends left me.  She was trying to make sense of it all.  I stared at her as she spoke because what she was saying was true.  Then, she said, “Honestly, you were looking for a mother.  You expected from these two friends things a mother would do for their child.  You were looking for nurturing, comfort, and support.  They aren’t your mother.  I can see how they would sit back and say, ‘whoa…this is too much.  I can’t deal with this’ and then leave you.”  It is here when I started choking back tears.  She asks me if this is true.  I say, “I suppose it is.  I mean I don’t have a mother.  I lost her at 15.  Where else would I get the things mothers give to their children?  I have been missing that since 15.”  I let out a little laugh as I choke back more tears.  She asked me why I laughed.  I shook my head and looked down as I said, “I’m choking back tears and don’t want to cry.”  She nodded and said, “I can see on your face that you are tearing up.  Just let it out.  You need to cry.  I have tissues.”  I nodded and let the first tears fall.  She asked some questions about how I felt.  It was here where I went into a rampage about missing my mom.  About how I can’t help looking for motherly feelings from people because I haven’t had those in 11 years.  How I am jealous of my siblings because they had 20+ years with her and  I only had 15.  How I don’t remember her.  I can’t see her face or hear her voice anymore.  No memories are there.  At this point I am bawling into a tissue.  I look at my therapist and she looks deeply saddened.  She took a moment to compose herself and said, “Have you ever wrote your mother a letter?”  I nodded but said, “That doesn’t work because I think ‘what’s the point.  It’s not like she can actually read it.”  She asked about how the previous ’empty chair’ techniques went with my old therapist.  I told her, ‘not well.  I always said I didn’t know what I would say to her and it’s true.  I don’t know what I would say to her.”  She told me all about how it’s not all about what you say.  The empty chair is about your feelings as well.  She also said, “It seems as if you just want to get to know your mother.  At 15, mothers are still just a mother.  They don’t become a person with feelings until one is in their 20’s.  You want to get to know the person she was.”  I keep crying and ask her, “What is my solution to fixing this friend thing?”  She sat back and said, “You know, it’s no wonder you are depressed and anxious and can’t sleep.  You live an incredibly lonely life.  You only have one true friend and that friend is your sister.  That’s not the way a person should have to live a life.  No one should live like that.  Especially someone going through what you are.  I can see why you are this depressed.”  I nodded and wiped away more tears.  Then she said, “I think you put up walls to prevent people from coming into your life.”  I nodded and said, “I do….I know I do.”  “Why is that?” “Because I am afraid of them leaving me.  It hurts when people die or leave me and I have already lost so much.”  She nodded, “You have lost a lot for a person your age.”  She told me to think about all of this as I move and start meeting new people I can become friends with.  I nod and get up as she led me to the door.  We said our goodbyes and I left with incredibly red eyes…and also cried the whole way home.

As painful as this therapy session was, I needed it.  I need to get out this pain and stop carrying it around with me.

Tuesdays with Morrie Meets Fridays with Musings of a 20-Something-Year-Old

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I had my last session with my regular therapist on Friday.  He is retiring and I am referred onto a new lady therapist in another facility.  To me, it was difficult to say goodbye to him.  He quickly became a trusting figure in my life.  Someone I could safely talk about my emotions with.  He would not get angry with me about my feelings, or ridicule me for having them.  He understood why I was having them and helped me sort the feelings out.  He helped me make sense of this very dark place.

Due to a recent increase of my depression/anxiety med, and the addition of a true sleeping pill, my mood has been altered.  I am no longer foggy and angry as I constantly think about self-harm or ending my own life.  Suddenly, my head has become clear and I can process.  This is a feeling I haven’t felt since before my dad died (March 2015).

My therapist told me right away that he “noticed something different” about me while I was sitting in the waiting room.  He said I looked calmer and genuinely “happy” (as opposed to the forced happy I was before the med change).  We talked the differences I feel then we got deep.  We discussed my life and transition, as well as his life and his transition.  It was like a chat with a friend.

The day before this session, I had the “recurring nightmare” again.  In this nightmare, I am ALWAYS on the Titanic and it is sinking.  The room is always filling up with water, but I can’t get out.  The water continues to rise and I can see it rise over my feet, knees, waist, etc.  The boat starts to tip.  It is going down.  And I with it.  I wake up just before the boat sinks.  This last one was different.  Same beginning, but this time….I got off the boat.  Somehow, I ended up in a dry room and my sister was there yelling because I was intentionally left out of a meeting for my father’s estate.  I woke up in a panic.  I told my therapist this and I noticed something.  He’s not taking notes.  This NEVER happens.  His pen is always going.  Drawing or writing.  He is staring at me.  I look at him and shrug as I say, “What?”  He shakes his head and smiles as he says, “The psychology gods are going to strike me with lightning for saying this, but hell…it’s my last session with you and I am retiring after this.  So, I am just going to come out and say it!”  I stared at him in disbelief, and I am sure my mouth was hanging open.  He continued in a frantic and fast way, as if he was telling a secret he kept for a long time, “The Titanic is your family!  It’s sinking because your family is sinking and will soon no longer exist.  You FINALLY got off the boat because you realized that you are an independent unit and have always been.  You know you don’t need them anymore, so you are letting the boat sink without you.  You got off the boat.”  Then he reclines in his chair and let out a loud sigh as he said, “I have wanted to say that to you ever since that dream started!”  I was in disbelief because it all made sense.  I asked him why he never told me that.  He just smiled and said, “because you were in crisis every week.  My first and foremost goal as a therapist is to make sure you live and see the value of your life.  Every week I had to solve and work on your suicidal and self-harm thoughts.  I couldn’t move on to this because that comes first.  I couldn’t work on this deeper stuff until those thoughts were gone.”  It made sense to me and I began wondering what all he had talked about for the past year.  I was sure there was a suicidal or self-harm thought every single week.  He encouraged me to take up the concept of my family and past with my new therapist.  That I am ready for that now, since the new dose has taken away the suicidal thoughts.  He said it was time to get rid of the emotional baggage so that I can freely move on with my life when I move.  I nodded and agreed with him.  As much as it scared me to.

We got to discussing his career.  I asked him what his “worst case” was.  He sat and thought for a bit.  Then, with a straight and solemn face he said, “I have been fortunate to have clients that I can work with.  My worst cases were never the client.  It was always me.  The worse case was not knowing how to help the client.  Going home knowing that I failed them and didn’t perform my best.  I would go home and keep going over what I could have done better.”  I nodded and thought about how these comments proved to me that he was a good therapist.  We talked about being a therapist and how depressing it can get.  I told him how I want to help the movement of grief therapy/counseling for young adults and children because no one reached out to me when my mother died and I want no one else to experience what I have.  He smiled and met my eyes as he told me ideas of what I could do.  It ranged from starting a support group for young adults and children in the community to writing a book or just talking with someone experiencing grief one-on-one.  His last comment about this was, “I wasn’t a leader to ever do something like that.  I was the one that wanted to blend in and just help one-on-one.  But you….I see you as the leader type.  You are most certainly not a follower.  You make your own way.  You….you can start a movement.”  His words deeply touched me.

Shortly before ending, he did the “summary thing.”  I knew it was coming when he put down his notebook and quit taking notes.  He looked at me and said, “Well….I have to say that you are truly an amazing young woman.  You have been through quite a lot of pain for a woman your age.  In fact, you have gone through things people in their 40s usually don’t even go through.  BUT, you can’t know how amazing and wonderful you are and will be, if you don’t continue to live.  You have a lot of reasons to continue living.  You can’t know what success is in store for you, if you are not there to experience it.  You have to be alive to see it.”  He stopped and stared at me as if he was waiting for a response.  All I could do is nod.  I didn’t know what to say.  He wouldn’t talk.  So, I said, “ya…I guess you’re right.  I mean my suicidal thoughts haven’t been there since I started this new dose.” He nodded and said something along the lines of, “I’m glad.”  Then proceeded with a lecture about how brave I was to discuss my suicidal thoughts with him and continue with the meds because not many people are willing to do this.

As we ended the session, there was an awkwardness that set in.  We both got up and he reached out his hand to shake mine.  I gave him a firm handshake back as I wondered what to say to him.  How do I go on and process what is happening to me without this man that I have become almost dependent on for weekly sessions during the past year?  He shook my hand and smiled as he said, “Have a good life and take care.”  All I could do was pat his arm and say, “You too….take care of yourself and enjoy your retirement.”  I had to get out of there before I cried.  I didn’t know it was possible to become this close to a therapist.  I didn’t think I was that close to him.  But, he has helped me move on with my life amid the crisis that it has become.  I will miss him.  He has surely changed my life, and for the better.  He has always known that there was hope.  That amid my darkness there was a light.  And that someday that light would shine again, if we continued through the muck and mud together.  All I can say is thank you.  Thank you Mr. Therapist for everything.  I am alive today because you fostered in me the will and strength to keep living.  You made a difference.

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Motherless Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is coming up.  For the past 11 years, this is a date I dread.  Everyone goes about loving and cherishing their mother.  And here I am, with no mother, a person that has no reason to celebrate the day.  So celebrate I do not, as I try to suppress the tears the media and society can easily bring to me that day.

My mother passed away when I was 15,  a mere two and a half weeks before my 16th birthday.  She was never sick.  Just died in her sleep.  We went to bed the night before and woke up to screams by my brother shouting that he thought mom was dead.  There we all were, staring at her lifeless body in our pajamas as we prayed for it not to be true.  A sister started CPR on her as others got calling 911.  I remember watching the paramedics come running into her room and taking over CPR as they tried to revive her. 10 years later, I learned from the funeral director (while planning my father’s funeral) that they all knew she was dead at the house, but they took her in anyways because “there was a young child there.”  Who was that young child?  It was me.  So, into the ER she went and the doctors declared her dead upon arrival.  A heart attack being the culprit they blamed.

Needless to say, this was an extremely traumatic event in my childhood.  I still suffer from flashbacks of that morning.  And dreams….the dreams get horrible.  I have sat in many therapy sessions with my therapist asking me to describe my childhood and mother.  My response?  It’s always, “I don’t know….I can’t remember.”  And, sadly, this is the truth.  I don’t remember much of my childhood and teenage years.  The college years being the ones I can recall the best.  I have suppressed so many memories of my mother because they made me sad and hurt.  I don’t remember her.  I can’t picture her face or hear her voice.  The memories of her and I are slowly fading.  She feels so, so, so distant from me.  As if she was ever really even a part of my life….when in reality, she is the one who gave me life.

I have been reading the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn.  I am on the fifth book in the series, entitled To Sir Philip, With Love.  The Bridgerton siblings lost their father unexpectedly.  The oldest was 18 and the youngest was still in her mother’s womb.  The series does well of discussing the trauma each of these siblings endured with the grief of their father’s death.  Each sibling reacts in a different way and their father’s death is a turning point for each of them.  I so very much relate to each of these siblings, having lost my mother at a young age.  The series does well at describing just how much the death of a parent at a young age effects you for the rest of your life.

In this book, Eloise is the main character.  She is the middle child and was 7 when her father died.  She was also the only person to be an eye witness to her father’s death.  She describes in the book how worthless she felt at 7 because she couldn’t bring him back to life.  Two passages where she discusses the impact this had on her really struck me.  I have included the pictures of them below.

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I can’t even begin to say how much I feel like Eloise here.  I have ALWAYS been jealous of my older siblings who have had 20+ years with my mother, while I had only 15.  I so, so, so much wish she would be able to see the woman I have become.  I am constantly asking myself, “Would she be proud of me?”  This question has driven me to try my hardest in life.  As everything I do, I want to do to make her proud.  In college, both undergraduate and graduate, I pushed myself to get a 4.0 GPA because my mother and I made a deal with I was 12.  I was to graduate high school with honors.  To be the only child of her’s that achieved this status and shared with her her passion, academics.  Well, sadly dear readers, I did not achieve that.  Her death effected me so much that I did not do well the following year after she died.  I floundered.  I remember feeling like I disappointed her the day I graduated high school.  So, I made up for it in college.  I over did it to make her proud.  To fulfill her last wish she imparted on me.

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“I’m not certain it’s something you ever do get over.  Completely, that is.  But no, I don’t think about him every day, if that’s what you want to know.”    

No…the loss of a parent at a young age (or any age) is not something you ever get over.  There will always, ALWAYS be tears and wishes that they were here with us.  I have not thought about my mother as much as I used to.  I remember endless teenage days and nights where I was sobbing and shaking as I wished for her to come back.  I remember my sister (the one that moved home to make sure I survived) always crawling into bed with me and holding me as I sobbed.  I truly have no idea how I survived it, but I did.  Now, I only think about my mother every now and then.  My therapist has worked with me to help “unsuppress” happy memories of her.  To no longer get sad and disstressed when I am forced to talk about her.  After a year, we have made some great progress in that area.  He has restored several happy memories of my mother and I couldn’t be more grateful.

The loss of a parent at a young age is incredibly difficult.  I was not offered counseling for the two years of high school I endured after my mother’s death.  Everyone looked the other way and no one offered help.  So, I suppressed it all.  Moved on with the world like they wanted me to.  It came back to bite me in the ass when my father died last year.  I am still battling the depression.  For MONTHS after father died I was angry, bitter, and resentful.  I didn’t sleep.  The nightmares were worse.  Everything about my mother’s death came back.  I was forced to finally deal with her death.  I decided I needed major help so that I wouldn’t go and kill myself.  A year later, I am still in weekly therapy sessions.  Time does not heal the wound.  The wound will always be there.  All time does is allow me to cope and find strategies to help the wound be manageable.

So, to all motherless children out there on this Mother’s Day: I am here with you.  I know EXACTLY how you feel and how hard this day is.  I know how much you LOATHE this day.  But, like all other Mother’s Days, we will get through.  We will survive.

 

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