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It’s time to figure out Me

I had this epiphany today while having a small difference of opinion with the husband, he told me that he has to start traveling more, four days a week three weeks a month. I was not mad at him, he is just doing his job, providing for his family. While i am having a frustratingly difficult time to locate work for myself (employers tend to be a bit quick to judge when your work history has a lot of gaps because you were a stay at home mom or caretaker of family members) he is the main bread winner. So although i completely understand that he needs to be doing what his job requires, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still upset me that I am married to a man I adore, who is never home. As I was sitting there listening to him express frustration, the epiphany hit me, I am not mad at him, or his job requirements, I am upset because I identify myself as his wife and my kids mother, but that is it. I have spent so many years being a stay at home mom, caretaker, and now housewife as well, that I have never really had a chance to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. Yes I am in school to get my Masters in Psychology, but I am still not completely sure what I want to do with my degree once I am done.

I realized that the one friend that I talked to on a somewhat regular basis but no longer associates with me anymore, probably is because I was putting my lack of identity on them with expecting them to fill the silence when my husband was traveling and my kids at their grandma’s house. That wasn’t fair because work, marriage and kids is their life too. I have spent so many years identifying myself as things that aren’t an identity, rape, depression, anxiety, wife, mother….I am Kelly.. That’s my identity. I am a person, and yes I have been through things and have accomplished things but those aren’t my identity.

So once that sort of sank in, I told my husband to hush and listen to me for a minute, and I explained to him that I was sorry, I was mad about the wrong thing. I explained my epiphany and I now know what it is that I have to do. I have to volunteer in my free time, write in my free time, keep trying to find someone to give me a shot at employment, take up hobbies I have always put off because I had three babies I was chasing around, make new friends that I can socialize with…..I need to figure out my identity and let those things complete me so that I can be a happier more stable version of myself for my kids and my husband and myself.

I would say I wish I had figured this out sooner, but I don’t think that it would have meant the same before now. For the moment, It’s time to figure out me.

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At least I try

At a fairly young age, I was introduced to the negatives of the world, my fifth grade year was one of my roughest. To be fair, unbeknownst to me, my teacher that year had found his husband and dog dead in their cabin over the summer. I don’t think that they ever made a ruling on foul play or suicide. Anyways, because of that, he came into the new school year of my fifth grade year a very angry individual, and something about me sparked that even more. Up until fifth grade, I was fairly into school, academically I wasn’t the top of my class. I struggled in math big time and science a bit, I wasn’t too big into PE either as i wasn’t super athletic. I had a fair amount of friends, mostly boys because I was more of a tomboy.

Ever since I was little I was able to feel and absorb the emotions and feelings people are putting out there. He came into the classroom very stern looking, but the feelings I was picking up were very angry and very very sad and lost. I shook it off and we got into classwork. At first he just seemed like a rather strict teacher. Then eventually, a few weeks in it started. He would call on me, ever though my hand wasnt raised, it was always math or science, my two least understood subjects. When I couldn’t complete the problem, he would come up behind me, turn me facing the classroom, and out loudly he would say, “class, I want you to take a good look, Kelly here will be working at Mcdonald’s her entire life because she is too lazy and dumb to do anything else.” When it was a math problem, he would call on me and as I stood there staring at it, desperately trying not to cry but yet trying to figure it out, he would say, “come on dummy, try hard as you can, you might be able to do something a little better then serve Mcdonald’s your whole life.” When we did PE outside, he would yell at me to “quit being so lazy, actually try and be successful at something.” It got to a point where I just started telling my mom I was sick, all the time, so that I didn’t have to go to school. Eventually, she started asking me what was going on, at ten years old, I thought that she wouldn’t believe me, he was an adult, I was a kid, so I just told her I was sick. I spent a lot of time at the doctors that year trying to figure out what was going making me so ill. Fortunately, the end of the year came and I was so excited to be out of that class. Unfortunately, after that, I lost my enjoyment for school forever, I was always terrified the next teacher was going to do the same, and furthermore, because I did struggle in those subjects, i started to believe him. The rest of the time i was in school was a major struggle for me, and very emotional.

Around eight grade, my sister and I were walking to school one day. I looked over my shoulder and realized that there was tiny red Toyota truck with a camper driving slowly about ten feet behind us.  When I would glance back in that direction, he would pause a moment and then continue to crawl towards us. I became very aware that he was watching us, I didn’t want to scare my sister, so I thought for a moment, home was closer then the school. So I made a last minute decision, I told her, we NEED to go home real quick, we need to run. So I grabbed her hand and very quickly turned around and ran. The entire time I ran, I was digging in my backpack for the house key. I grabbed it, and then glanced over my shoulder again, he was RIGHT THERE following us. I ran up into the front yard and very quickly unlocked the door. Slammed it shut and locked ever bolt and safety lock we had (my father was a bit paranoid.) Then I sent my sister up to her room and I ran up to mine. My room was at the front of the house upstairs, so i crept over to the window and he had parked right in front of our house. I could hear him downstairs knocking on the door and rattling the doorknob. I ran to my mom’s room and grabbed the phone and called her at work. She told me to hang up and call 911. So I did, the lady at 911 told me to stay upstairs out of sight, but to describe the guy and the truck, he was walking around our yard trying to see if there was a window or something he could see us in, so I started telling her everything I could about him, and his truck. After a few moments, I heard a siren and he was gone. The cops got there and I let them in, then my mom got home. They searched the neighborhood but never found him. It was the single most terrifying thing I had ever gone through up to that point. For close to two years, every time my parents left to run errands, I went with them because I was terrified he would come back.

When I was 15 almost 16, in high school, there was a guy in the grade above me, he was in several classes of mine. He would always make comments to me and throw things at me or in the classes he sat next to me he would reach out and try and touch me or grab my hair. Eventually, it escalated to in between classes he would bark at me or make really crude comments. Then he started trying to grab me every time he saw me. I tried really hard to ignore him. I felt like we are in high school and if I just ignore him it will make him move on to someone else. One night, i was at this pizza place we used to hang out at, he was there with his friends, we were on opposite sides of the place. I just did what I always do and I ignored him. I kept to my side and my friends. At one point I got up and went to the bathroom, when I came out of the stall, he was in the the bathroom. He locked the main door to the bathroom, then grabbed me and yanked me back into the stall, locking that door behind him. I went numb, my hearing blurred out like a bomb had just gone off next to my head, I was paralyzed, for the next few moments, he ripped at my clothes to gain access to me and then he raped me. It’s taken me a long time to be able to say that, I got raped… its not as easy as you would think. After it happened I buried it deep inside me, tried as HARD as i could to imagine it never happened. After he left the bathroom, I got what I could of my clothing on me in a manner that I could leave the restaurant quickly and without showing everyone my whole body, and I bolted out of there telling my friends that I wasnt feeling good and needed to go home now. When I got home, I changed very quickly, showered, and threw all my clothes away. I was determined to not be a “victim” which was the dumbest thing I ever did. I should have told someone, reported it, gone to the hospital. I was too scared at the time. I was too in shock. I couldn’t believe that had happened to me. I went straight to bed and laid there all night, thinking about how I could have prevented this. Doubting myself, thinking that I should have told someone when It was just saying inappropriate things and attempts to grab at me. Feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and like I in some way brought this on myself.  Worst of all, feeling like I was weak for not fighting it off, not screaming, trying to fight him off of me. I know now, that I wasn’t weak, my vagal nerve response kicked in and decided that I was in too much shock and just shut down. It happen’s, my therapist has explained it to me so many times now. My body basically took over and determined that I was not going to be able to deal with this in a fight or flight sort of way, so it just shut down, went into survival mode.

All three of these things have impacted my life and the way I have lived and made choices since they happened. I have depression, anxiety and PTSD because of them. It is extremely hard for me to trust or feel safe. I tend to try and control or dictate as much as I can to feel like I am not going to be put back into another bad or traumatizing situation. It has made relationships hard, friendships hard, loving myself hard. Therapy helps, but it’s a really slow frustrating process. I am trying though, with everything I have, I am trying. Some days I have small victories, some days i have large victories, some days I have set back and some days I just merely exist and that’s all I accomplish for that day.

Im sharing this because Im sure I am not alone. I am sure there are other people out there who have been through similar or worse things, feeling the same way I do. I try my hardest to still smile and enjoy each day. I am always there for whoever needs it. I am still human and make mistakes, clearly I have my flaws. At the end of the day, all we can do is try.

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Filling in the blanks

I have been struggling with the context for my next blog post. I have had a lot of things that have happened recently, and I really have felt it on my soul to write about quite a few different parts of it all, but when I sit down to organize one thought process it all comes out in one jumbled ball of rambling. So after many attempts at trying to streamline just one subject matter, I thought maybe the best option would be to do a sort of filling in all the blanks post. Maybe once I spew it all out, then I can focus on one subject at a time. So excuse the crappy content for right now, but at times don’t we all need to just ramble a bunch of random ish out?

So as everyone who reads my posts or knows me knows that I deal with depression anxiety, I have three kids, two of which have their own things they struggle with. My husband travel’s a lot for work, so I spend a fair amount of time alone handling life. I am not complaining, he doesn’t really like the travel either, but it’s part of his job and his job is what provides a life for us. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard on him for always having to live out of hotels, or me having to basically be a single mother again and deal with everything here alone, or on us for all the time we miss together.

School just started again, we don’t do traditional school anymore, my kids are in a charter school situation that is part on site class and part home school. My daughter is 7th grade so she goes Monday and Wednesday for onsite classes, and the boys are 8th and 10th so they go Tuesday and Thursday for onsite classes. It has been beneficial to my kids with struggles, but it is also a lot more work on my end to organize things, make sure the IEP and 504 are in place and being properly accommodated, setting up speech therapy for my oldest, making sure they are all organized and staying on top of their assignments from week to week. We have to do math tutoring because my kids got my math skills LoL. They have been in school two going on three weeks and i have been doing a lot of communicating with teachers, meetings to get things organized and make sure each kids accommodations are being met.

Aside from that, I have been doing my own schooling, in my program I have to maintain a B average. That’s a lot of pressure for someone who dropped out of school at the age of 16 and then struggled through night school to get her diploma, my other programs really helped me to realize i am smarter then I thought I was BUT I still struggle academically at times and so the pressure of having to stick to that B average to be successful is really testing me. Especially when your focus isn’t just on school, I have kids, a husband, a house and errands and Im looking for a job, It all adds up to less time to focus and more effort of my part to maintain that B average. I am in my third class currently, and I have been able to get low A’s, high B’s.

My depression and anxiety have been real present lately, I have felt the pull to stay in bed with the covers over my head a lot more. It is so massively difficult just to get up and get through each day these days. I am doing it, but the effort it takes is exhausting. My therapy sessions have been real good and I am starting to feel like I am making a bit of progress. I have been utilizing as many tools and resources as I can that my therapist suggests, apps that i can use on my phone on the go, new breathing techniques, I even bought this new komuso breathing necklace. It was pricey and I debated it for quite some time because it seemed silly for the amount of money you were spending, but at the end of the day, if it helps ease my anxiety and makes it so that I can do things a bit more normally then it’s worth every penny. I just got it in the mail yesterday and haven’t really had to use it yet so I will eventually do a post on it, but i want to use it for a bit first. I am trying so hard to just keep pushing through the depression and anxiety, and I know that my husband HATES when I say this, but its the truth…. I am not suicidal but I definitely understand why a person dealing with the things that I do gets to that point. The level of effort that we have to put into doing normal things that come with ease to those who don’t deal with depression or anxiety…day in and day out… it gets to be exhausting and you just find yourself wondering if that effort in combination with the damage you assume you are doing to the people that choose to be in your life and deal with you….sometimes the thought is, why not save yourself the effort and save them the damage and just end it all.

So I have this friend, well I had this friend, we had been friends since middle school and this person was my favorite person in the whole world, my rock, the person that kept me surviving my teenage years, the first person i ever had feelings for. We eventually went our separate ways when this person went to college, and then one day this person found me again. Then this person and I started talking a lot more, they were going through a lot of similar life things as me. It was nice to have this person in my life again during these hard times. Then eventually this friend was busy with their family, job and life. I too was busy with family and life. We started talking less and less and then eventually I felt like maybe this friend had just moved on from me altogether. I got upset and tried to reach out to this friend. Nothing. Now I know this friend is a good person, but this friend left my life without a word and that hurts after so many years. I know this person is a busy person, but no one is ever so busy that they cant say “hey.” So after some thought and tears, I realized that I had to tell this friend my feelings with how they chose to deal with our friendship and then delete them from my life. It’s hard because of the history, but when I really think of it, this friend and I were really close when we were teenagers, and we were there for each other during a time when I really needed a friend, maybe more so this particular friend. But over time, I realize, we have grown up to be different people and maybe the purpose of this friend being in my life and being my friend is over and I need to just accept that people come into and go out of our lives for reasons. We may never get to know or understand those reasons but maybe we might. We don’t always get the closure we want, doesn’t mean that we can’t create our own closure and move on with our lives. I will always care for this friend and think about this friend because, 20 years is a long time to know someone, but here I am making my own closure.

Um, i think that is enough rambling about my life for now. I will focus on more specific subjects later on this week. I am slowly climbing out of my current depression and I am starting to feel the itch to write again. I hope that everyone hangs with me, I have lots to say.

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Fear wins

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, most of what was happening in the world wasn’t instantly put in my face as a young person. As a kid, I rode bikes with my friends till the street lights came on. As a teenager, I used to wander the neighborhood until it was 2 in the morning and never gave it a second thought. These days, as a grown adult woman, I’m terrified to leave my house and go to the local Walmart, simply to do some grocery shopping for my family. The invention of computers, cell phones, tablets and the internet are amazing things, but the instant access and constant alerts to the bad or scary things that happen around us every day is traumatizing at times. It’s made me afraid to live my life outside my house at times. I find that i have days where i am justifying canceling appointments, avoiding or canceling plans with people I care about, and utilizing delivery services way more then I should. My anxiety is at an all time high.

Now my therapist would tell me it’s perfectly ok that I am feeling this way and taking time for myself to avoid the world when I need to is perfectly acceptable and all part of my “self-care” plan, but I don’t know if I would completely agree. Partly because the last 37 years of my life have gone by so fast and i want to enjoy my life as much as i can because i have a feeling the next 60 are gonna go by just as quickly. And also as a mother I just keep thinking of the example that I am setting for my kids. That when something scares us we just hide out in the safety of home and avoid the world…I don’t want them to believe that and live like I do. They have seen me be too anxious to leave the house and even though they don’t realize it’s anxiety, the guilt from letting the fear win and stealing precious moments, is crippling at times.

I am always telling them it’s simply because I didn’t feel good, that we can outside tomorrow instead. When they are dealing with anxiety themselves I’m the first to insist that we can’t let our fear win, we can’t let other people’s bad decisions keep us from going out and enjoying our lives, it’s scary but if we let what they do keep us inside then they win. The negativity wins. The fear wins. I don’t want that. I don’t wanna look back on my life when I’m old and think about all the moments I missed out on because I was too afraid of what might have happened. And i certainly do not want that for my children either.

Some days it’s real easy for me to push through and not let fear win, not let the scary world outside keep me from enjoying my life, but it comes at an exhausting price. Usually that leads to those other days where no matter how hard I try, the anxiety and fear wins and I have to do what is best for my mental health and stay home, order those groceries or that food, try not to let my kiddos and hubby see it’s my anxiety keeping me indoors and canceling plans and remember that tomorrow is another day to try and not let fear win.

I’m still just a work in progress, trying to feel as safe and secure and enjoy the moments of my life. Every time I can do something like venture 600 miles away from home to another place, it’s a small victory for me. Granted I’ve been sick the entire time I’ve been here in LA and haven’t really left the hotel room, BUT I made it down here with only mild anxiety and hopefully I’ll make it back home with even less anxiety and those are the victories that I focus on. Eventually, the hope is that I have so many small victories that it turns into one big victory of conquering my anxiety. That’s the goal at least.

So for anyone else who deals with anxiety, no matter how mild or crippling it is, we just gotta keep doing what we can to manage it and overcome it, we can’t let fear win.

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What you allow

When you realize that what you need to change is not the people themselves you have in your life or how they treat you, but how you yourself allows them to treat you or make you feel, it’s life changing.

The subject of friendships and how we interact with each other these days has been on my mind a lot lately. I am commonly refereed to as “the doormat,”  I am the person who is willing to literally be there for any of the people I care about WHENEVER they need it. Even if it inconveniences me, i will still make sure I can do whatever they need to make their lives easier. The guilt that I feel when I have to tell someone no or that I cant, is crushing. I’m embarrassed to admit this but, I literally had someone once tell me when i approached them about why they were mistreating me as their friend, that they did it because ” I allowed them to do it.” That will make you think a minute and it did make me consider how I was letting certain people treat me and make me feel about myself and the interaction with those I was letting in my life.

Now there is nothing wrong with helping people or being there for people, but there is a problem when you are doing it to a point of it affecting your own mental well being. When you are starting to dread interactions with the world and the people in it, then you need to address this and make some changes.  When you are doing all the giving and they are doing all the taking, that’s not a friendship. When you are the one reaching out first with every interaction, boundaries need to be set. When they are never there for you the way you are there for them. It’s definitely time to reconsider how you are allowing them to treat you and why you feel like the way they are treating you equals friendship, even when it leaves you upset and hurt most of the time. Ideally, you would like for the people taking advantage of you and your kindness to realize the errors of their ways and adjust their behaviors. However, that’s not realistically how the world works. So, if once you have addressed your feelings with them, they still maintain the same behavior, then you really only have two options, you can just remove them from your life OR you can set boundaries and learn to tell people “no,” cut off  constantly being at their disposal when they need it.

Although I have allowed some people who took advantage of my kindness and were harmful to my mental well being to be in my life in the past, I am lucky enough to now have friends who love and respect me for me. I am willing to admit that I am not the easiest person to be friends with, with my anxiety and depression I don’t really like to go out that much. I prefer communicating through text message rather than phone calls and constantly over think interactions with my friends that allows me to believe they are no longer interested in being my friends, when simply its just the fact that they themselves are busy or dealing with things and cant respond or interact with me at that moment. Despite my insecurities and inner insanity, they all hang in there and love me regardless and for that I feel very lucky. You are all an important part of my ability to continue to exist and so thank you, all of you!

The simple message in a really long and drawn out way is this, YOU AND YOU ALONE, have the power and control to determine how people in your life treat you. If you aren’t being treated the way deserve, if the people in your life aren’t matching the effort you are making, then its definitely time to make some changes.

 

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My bit of control

This is me… anyone who knows me knows that’s my hair is constantly changing color. I’m never happy with one color for too long. A lot of people roll their eyes at me because to them i appear as a chick who seems to never be happy or have some weird desire to push my limits where my hairs ability to stay in my head goes. What they don’t see, what they don’t understand is that my hair is one of the few aspects of my life and my being that I and I alone have complete control over. What color, what length, whether or not it’s straight, wavy or curly. In my life I have had many choices made for me and more so, taken from me. Life being what it is, we don’t always get to know the answers to things we are going thru right away. Depression and anxiety take their toll on you, controlling your days and mind sometimes. One of the few things that I get complete say on is my hair, it changes with my moods, much like my eyes. When I am feeling more weighed down by depression/anxiety, stress or life, I tend to want my hair to be darker. When things are going a little easier and I’m not feeling the crushing of depression and anxiety, I tend to move towards blonde or some crazy color. The point of what I am saying is that sometimes people’s expression of themselves and their appearances is more about the things on the inside they can’t change or control. The parts about themselves that they wish they could erase or alter in some way to paint a better picture for their lives. At least that’s what mine is all about.

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Happy Place

beach

The picture is of the beach down in Santa Cruz.

This is my first happy place. The beach has always had a very calming effect on me. It’s a place I can go sit in the warm sand, breathe in the fresh ocean air, stare out at the endless water and imagine all the depression/anxiety, stress and negativity that i feel leaving my body and washing away in the waves. It’s a sort of reset button for myself. When things feel really tense and overwhelming, I know that I can go there, sit on the beach and when I leave, I will feel energized, a little lighter and like life is more manageable. For about the last year, my anxiety has been so bad that I haven’t been able to make it down to the beach, which was making my depression worse. Fortunately, my husband helped me take baby steps and make a trip down there, since that i have been able to make a few trips now. We just went the other day because he knew that i needed a bit of a reset (which is where I took this picture) and it was exactly what i needed. If it hadn’t been for the sad news i got of someone i know passing the same day we were down there, I would be feeling a lot better right now.

We all have our happy places, that place you can go and just let go of the world around you and recharge your self again. Another happy place i have is in the car blasting music. Where I live, you can pretty much see the mountains all around you in most parts of the city. Part of my self care routine has become taking an evening or two to get out and blast my music, roll the windows down and let the breeze blow through my hair and watch the sun set (usually its in the evening) as I navigate all over my city. My husbands happy place is in the garage, tinkering on his truck. Cars to him are like a puzzle and he loves to dismantle them and put them back together again. Its calming to him. We make time for each other to have the time to spend a night or two in our happy places. Usually the beach is something we try and do once a month together.  Happy places are important, this world tends to be a very hard place to be in most of the time for some of us, so having a happy place and being able to access it fairly regularly is important.