Friday, April 13, 2018

Trauma

So, lately, I have been thinking about trauma. I have started seeing a counselor due to an emotional breakdown I had recently due to being overly stressed. I have only had one meeting with her so far, so I haven't really gotten much done. But it has caused me to think about things. I went through in my mind all the different traumas I went through since getting married and I really thought them over and I realized that I never really allowed myself to grieve over them. Often I powered my way through them and then bottled up my emotions because they were too difficult to deal with at the time and never really allowed myself to take them out, air them out and deal with them. I just bottled them up and shoved them down deeper and deeper. But this last year with everything that happened it was just too much too fast, too many things flying at me to bottle them all up and keep them all down without going a little crazy.

So I started thinking about trauma and about other traumas I have had in life. I was talking with my mom today and she asked about trauma I had as a child, and I couldn't really think of any. Then later I was thinking about coping mechanisms and things that I do to help keep myself sane, and how many of them seem to be an escape to other people. So then I thought to myself, well what did I do when I lived with my parents? Well, I ran off into the woods and spent some time alone with nature. Well, I just told Mom that I couldn't remember trauma from my childhood, so what was I running from? Bullying, that is what I was running from. The stress of being bullied. I was bullied from preschool till my senior year in high school. But I talked about it with my parents. I had a good friend who went through it with me and who was my confidant. I was able to process it because I worked through it, I developed strategies against it. Did it leave me scarred? Sure, but I grew stronger from it.

But you can't run away from cancer, you can't run away from fertility issues, or heart surgery, or your own autistic children. And all of those things are also often taboo subjects. They make people feel uncomfortable, they make people feel uneasy. They are often difficult to understand if you haven't experienced it yourself.

I was 19 when Kevin was diagnosed with cancer, I was still basically a child, and yet...widowhood stared me in the face. I didn't know how to deal with trauma like that. I didn't know how to handle it. So I took my cues from Kevin. And he was amazing. He didn't flinch, he was cheerful, and ready and was just so tough through all of it. And I, I was falling apart inside but didn't think I could show it.

I found my old poem book, one that I made before he was diagnosed and started writing poems in. It contains the poetry I wrote while he went through cancer. I read through it tonight, wow. I moved myself to tears. What I wrote then, oh I feel the same thing now. I expressed then things that I still feel about current traumas. Current frustrations. Here is one I wrote:

Life kills me from the inside this time
I saw it coming years ago.
Have you seen my play?
This time I have learned
the part far too well.
Backstage my smile does not stay.
How can I hold up again?
Alone, I sit and watch my heart die.
I can feel it ripping me apart.
Thinking of us I cry,
but not where it is seen.
Life hurts so much
I don't know if I can endure
Yet for you, I must.
Help me to survive this,
I don't know how long I can last.

The stress, the fear, the pain, when it is your life you can't really run from that. So I found escape methods. I found ways to ease the pain, found ways of ignoring it until it went away. I got good at not feeling things, especially if I didn't want to feel them. No wonder lately I feel numb. I often think of my life and I don't feel a lot. My body has all these things it keeps doing that are screaming to anyone who knows how to read the signs that I am under overwhelming stress, but my outward disposition is such that people can't tell. People don't know because my mask is too good. What I think is part of the issue is that I have tried to share my sorrow, my pain with others. I have tried to process it so many times. And yet, it is not a comfortable topic. It is not something that people want to hear about. So they shut you up, and they get you to move on, and things never get processed. And so here I am. Scarred, and yet falling apart still, from the inside, and there is not enough tape to hold me together anymore.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Because

So, because I know no one is really currently reading this I can put down my thoughts on stuff and not really worry about it. Life is stressful at times. And to be honest I have trained myself from the beginning of marriage to put a happy face on the trials in life. But sometimes things drag you down and you just want to...well get away from all of it. Sometimes you wish that life would stop sucking so much. It is hard to have people give me advice on what to do with my kids when they really have no idea. It is hard to deal with the stress of autism and intense medical issues with Kevin and then the times when he is jobless and not go a little crazy. It is hard trying to not let the stress get the best of me. My fingers are getting chewed raw, they are peeling and painful and I wish they would stop hurting but I keep chewing on them, without even thinking about it I keep chewing on them. All too often I feel heartbroken, overstressed and tired and often I feel like no one knows and if they do know they don't really care. I have been holding tears in for so long, it gets hard to let them go sometimes.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Time

It is strange to watch time go by. Years which passed so slowly as a child now pass so quickly. You sleep, then wake then sleep again. Days pass, weeks pass, months pass and soon another year is gone. Childhood seems like it was yesterday, just a few years ago. But in reality, I left it over 18 years ago. 18 years, I left childhood an entire childhood ago. How did time pass so quickly when childhood seemed to go so slowly. Those early years, which seemed so important at the time, and now they are gone. My son turns 7 in just a few days and I wonder where the time has gone. My daughter is now 5, and I wonder how she got so old so fast. Their first years were so full of worry, and now they are both out of the super worry stage. Now on to the next stage of life. Sometimes I look back on a day and think, well that was a failed day, I guess I will make it up tomorrow. But life is made up of days that become years. I need to focus on the days more so that the years don't become wasted.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Coping

Today I thought about coping. I finally found a good song to cry to. I have been needing a good long cry lately. I went this entire year crying very little and having much to cry about. Sometimes it feels like I must be strong to make it through the tough times. And sometimes I think that ends up being holding it all in while I put up a strong front. It has been a rough year, I gave myself time to cry once during the whole heart surgery for Kevin thing. I didn't cry over the flood, didn't give myself time to mourn my Grandpa, just held it all in. Didn't express the stress from Kevin having such a long stretch of unemployment this year, just let it all build up. Developed new coping methods. Found blessings in the trials, and developed permanent new nervous habits. Almost ceaselessly bouncing my legs and I chew on my fingers until they bleed. I keep myself distracted with games and other things to keep from thinking about everything because thinking about it all causes me to feel overwhelmed.

I realized that I have not had a good solid weird friend since Grayslake, so basically 2010. And I haven't had a good friend that I can completely let my guards down with since Utah. At least not outside my family. And this year I learned a hard lesson there too. I realized that sometimes I overshare things and because of stupid decisions on my part with sharing info on my Grandpa on Facebook now my family hardly trusts me with stuff. Or if they do they give me the disclaimer of, now don't put this on facebook. As if I really needed to be told that.

Though I really do look for the blessings, I have no one to vent to. I have no one to release my worries and fears to. And so it builds, and I just need to release, I just need to let things go sometimes. Tonight I have wept, and it is good. Tonight I have let things out for the first time in a long time. Here's hoping that next year isn't quite so full of trials. Here's to hoping for some stability. In the meantime the tears fall and I let my worries fall with them.

2017

Each year around this time my Father in law like each of his children to give a synopsis of their family's year. So I have been thinking over our year and what our synopsis would be.
January: Open heart triple bypass surgery for Kevin during which he died once, and had his heart stopped for the surgery.
February: Recovery/Basement flooded almost 2 feet
March: Recovery and the beginning of job hunting for Kevin
May: Kevin starts new contract job
July: After over 18 years of battling with terminal cancer my Grandfather passed away
August: Kevin's contract ends
September: David begins to have violent tantrums at school
November: Kevin starts a new contract job
December: Starting the process to get ABA therapy for David
Overall it has been a year full of trials, and yet one of my ways of getting through trials is to look for the blessings.
January: Once again Kevin cheated death. The doctors told us that if he had waited one more month he would probably have died of a heart attack. We saw so many miracles happen in that hospital. And I still have my best friend and husband to spend each day with.
February/March: Kevin recovered quickly enough to be able to start looking for work. Though our basement flooded we saw an outpouring of love and support from people. We had so many people help us clean up the ruined things.
May: We were so blessed that Kevin found a good job for over the summer.
July: Though it was sad to lose my Grandpa it is good to know that he is now at peace and no longer in pain.
August: We got to have Kevin at home for a bit while he looked for a new job
September: We were able to explore new ways of working with David to see if they would help, many of those ways making it easier to talk with David
November: Though the new contract is only three months long it is already causing Kevin to stretch and grow. When he is done with this contract it will give his resume a huge boost.
December: We are hopeful that ABA therapy will help David develop the skills he needs to be able to self-regulate his own emotions.
Overall it has been a year of so many blessings and miracles. It really is wonderful to see God's hand in our lives and to see how he really does bless us individually. He knows each of us and is willing to bless us if we turn to him. I am so thankful for all the blessings I have received this year.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Phillippians 4:13)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Continuing the story

So after the diagnosis of both kids, we took their diagnosis to school for their IEP meetings. If you are unfamiliar with IEP meetings you meet with the teacher and the team that works with your child and come up with a personalized plan for your child. The goal is to set goals for your child that will help them to progress and also identify what services (therapies) your child might need. The great thing about their school is that they were already doing everything that was prescribed for the school to do in the diagnosis.

Since then David moved from preschool to kindergarten and is now in 1st-grade. Kindergarten was pretty good for David. He had his specials (art, gym, music) with his kindergarten class, then had reading with a reading group that was at his reading level. Math he had with a 1st-grade class. This year he has done the same thing just moved things up, so math is with a 2nd-grade class. We are trying to see if he can be taught more science stuff since he likes science so much.

The one thing we are having issues with is that David has been having meltdowns at school. Lately, the meltdowns have been turning violent. Both his teacher and Kevin and I have been trying to figure out what to do about it. We have talked extensively with David about his behavior, we have tried consequences, we have done sticker charts, etc. Recently I went to an informational meeting through Easter Seals on ABA therapy, what it is and what it does for those who receive it.

ABA therapy works with people (children and adults) who have social behaviors that need to be worked on. For David this would mean we could get a therapy for him that would help him work through his meltdowns and develop skills that would allow him to avoid having meltdowns. The only problem is that we would need insurance that would cover the therapy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Updates and hopefully starting again

I decided that I wanted to start writing again. Mostly because I need to start journaling again. So I figure I will play a little catch up since the last time I wrote. My last post was in 2015, since then a lot has happened. When Evangeline aged out of her therapists they suggested that we get her tested for an official diagnosis. We took her to the Advocate Illinois Masonic Pediatric Developmental Center in Chicago, during the first testing they told us that they were looking at ruling out autism but wanted to test her again in a year to see what they thought. During that year David received an educational diagnosis of autism and I decided it might be a good idea to see about getting him an official diagnosis too. So I called the Advocate Illinois Masonic Pediatric Developmental Center and made an appointment for him at the same time that Evangeline's appointment was as well. The testing took an entire day and was about a 6-hour long process. Both children were tested on different things, I had a lot of paperwork to fill out. Then they looked at the test results and had us come back after a week or so. When they went over the paperwork with us they told us that both children had autism. Both are high functioning. but David has some sensory avoidance issues and Evangeline has sensory seeking issues.