Category Archives: Family

Bringing Mom Home

“I know you’re going to do what you want to do.  But I worry about Mom’s health and yours.  I fear we’re going to be in the same boat we were 6 months ago.  I just want you to know that.”

“I don’t want to talk about that just yet.”

I told my Dad how I felt, and I left it at that.  I knew he was bringing her home from the nursing home.  But I wanted him to know how I felt.

She’s home now.  My mom has chronic Lyme Disease.  It’s a nasty, vicious disease that simulates various symptoms of MS.  The CDC is unwilling to acknowledge it nor identify it as a legitimate disease.  This translates to:  no funding for a cure, treatment, nor management of symptoms.

What does this mean for Mom?  A slow deterioration of her nervous system.  The inability to walk.  The inability to move her hands.  Some brain deficiencies.  And it only gets worse and worse.

Mom’s been sick since I was five.  To say one gets used to it is not hitting it directly.  I’ve only known her as a sick person.  When I was five, playing with Barbies and watching cartoons, she was lying on the couch with a nurse inserting IVs into her arm.  I watched her lose the muscle control of the left side of her face.  It was scary.  I was sad for her.

Now we’re on the path that leads to nowhere.  Day-to-day, Dad uses mechanical contraptions to help her go to the bathroom, to help her get in bed, to help her live a life.  I help, but feel helpless.

There’s no happy ending to this story.  She will eventually become a paraplegic.  It’s just going to be hard times ahead.  On good days I  find hope in the belief that God gave me struggles to become a better person.

On bad days, I just don’t feel anything at all.


Never good enough

Once you are wrong, you’ll always be wrong and can never do anything right.  And if you’re right in his eyes, you can never do anything wrong.

I’m in the first category.  Ever since I was little, everything I did was wrong.  There was exasperated sighs, hands thrown up in the air, yelling, shouting, pointing.  Always, whatever I did, whatever I tried, I was wrong.

I didn’t put my shoes where they were supposed to be.
I left smudges on the mirror.
I threw a wet sock down the clothes chute and it got all the other clothes wet and what was I thinking?  Do I even think?  Ever?

I left the light on.  I shut the door too hard.  I couldn’t remember the difference between a phillips head and a flat head.  I didn’t push in my chair.  I move too fast.

I took too long.  I put us behind.  I didn’t pay attention.  My head was filled with nonsense and always somewhere else instead of where it should be.

So now, here I am again, feeling totally inept in my adult life.  I just got a job, proud of myself, and immediately, it’s:  ‘well, that’s good, that will give you time to look for a real job.’  Lights out on any shred of self-esteem I might still have had.

And now the big stuff is coming out.  For a while, there was a lull.  But now the ish has really hit the fan, so to speak.  He broke.  He called us out on all of our flaws, all of our problems, hollered and shouted and pointed and said, ‘you, you, you.’  Should have.  Don’t you think?  I’m at the end of my rope.  Lost cause.  What do you expect?

Part of me feels ashamed.  All of me feels guilty.  And responsible.  I listen to every word as though it is absolute truth.  He is absolutely right and I am absolutely wrong.  About all of it.  I’m wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Wrong for not working harder.  Wrong for not listening.  Wrong for making bad decisions.  Wrong for not figuring it out.  Not working hard enough.  Not caring enough.  Not doing enough.  Not moving fast enough.  Wrong at every move.

I’ll never be right.  I’ll never, ever get it right.  No matter what I do or how hard I try, I will always, inevitably, be wrong.


Summer Life

Hot.  That was the temperature last week.  My kids were begging me to break out the water balloons and the off-brand slip-and-slide and the water hose.  I resisted at first, not wanting to be bothered running around outside, getting wet and fighting the heat.

Surprisingly, I started to have FUN.  I can’t even remember the last time I had fun in all caps.

Winter was long and it was brutal.  Two words:  sump pump.  For those of you unfamiliar with a sump pump (i.e. anyone NOT living in the country), it is a pump placed inside a hole in your basement that continuously runs to keep your basement from flooding with water.  If it shuts off, your basement floods.

So during a horrible winter/ice/sleet/freeze-your-ass-off storm, the power went out. My dad – who I am indescribably grateful to for always being there for us in my lifetime of child, teen, and adult emergencies – brought a gas-powered pump.  Then we (me) had to shoot the water out of the basement with a big hose.  Someone (me) had to hold the hose out in the freezing cold and shoot cold water out into the blowing wind and piling snow drifts.

I did this on the hour every hour for 48 hours.

So even though I don’t like summer’s heat, this year is a little different.  My sister-in-law (another one of those persons who always seems to be there in my (emotional) emergencies), came over, and the water fun began.  The kids loved chasing me, my sister-in-law, and their daddy around the yard smacking us with water balloons that broke on contact, drenching us in the clean, cool, fresh water from the well, as we screamed and shouted and pretended we didn’t want to get soaked.

The day wound down with some trampoline jumping and sunning, along with a BBQ and an adults-only bonfire under a glowing moon and a sky full of twinkling stars.



Find My Way Back Home

I saw your parents yesterday.  They looked older, which always surprises me, as I always like to imagine that things stay exactly as they are whenever I’m not around.  I wanted so badly to ask about you but I didn’t.  Because I knew.  I might have even seen it in their eyes.  I no longer exist to you.

I still don’t know why and it hurts so bad.  Did I do something wrong?  Did I say something awful?  What made you turn away from me so quickly?  What movement did I make that made you jump and run?  I’m so very sorry for whatever it was.

I need you back in my life, but I know you won’t be back.  It’s something I haven’t yet learned how to accept.  Your support, our laughter, our memories.  Why did it all have to change so suddenly?  Is this just how things go?  If so, when will it happen again with another?  These are the fears I have.


Another gone for good, only this time, it’s family.  There is nothing left in your voice, nothing left to hold onto.  I receive controlled glimpses of your life, parts that I can see you have thoughtfully prepared before hitting “send.”  I miss the raw, open wounds we used to share, discuss, analyze till there was nothing left to pull apart.  Though others try to convince me you’re still in there, I know better.  I’ve seen it before, only this time, it’s closer to me than I ever would have imagined.  Because it’s you.

The one who guided me.  Who wrapped me up in your arms whenever I cried out.  The one who knows my deepest thoughts, was with me through my most awful experiences.  The one who made me laugh and laughed for me when I couldn’t find the humor in myself.  I feel cheated.  You’ve been stolen in the worst way.  And I was the one who was robbed.

I try to follow along with the parts that you’ve selected to share.  I tried to find you once, but you weren’t there and it was then that I knew you wouldn’t be back.  I can’t come to terms with it, and I am positive that I never will through the rest of our lives.


To my son:  I’m sorry I’ve passed this enemy onto you.  I’ve seen it in you since you were first born, as we who carry it can recognize it in each other.  I knew it would happen, but I didn’t know how much it would hurt for us both.  Your seriousness, your wants, your needs so strong and so full of passion.  They will only become more intense, though it’s hard to believe your young self can take much more.  I am helpless to save you from it.

All I can do is tell you that you are smart, you are creative, you are incredible.  You have a light inside you unlike any other.  Your teachers comment on it.  Your friends are drawn to it.  Your family feels it.  I cannot live without it.

Your life is not going to be easy.  As often as your anger rises and falls and your joy rushes unexpectedly in boundless limits throughout you, eventually you will require maintenance to maintain a certain degree of sanity.  Some feelings you will have and some things that will happen will be difficult and most won’t understand because they are not like you and I.  Just promise me you will hold on.  Just promise me you won’t give up.  And if you do that, if you promise me, then I will, too.  I will make that promise to you and we can both survive, in whatever way, shape or form we have to.


Please, make the tears stop.  Please take down the sun and make it dark again so I have somewhere to hide.  There are so many hours, so many minutes and seconds before the day is done and I just don’t know how to hold on till then.  My consciousness hurts, like an endless pain that just won’t subside, no matter what I do.

Please cover me, give me a shell to crawl into, send me underwater so I can find relief.  I’m too old to lock myself into a room.  Give me the keys, let me drive far far away.  I promise I’ll come back if I can find my way back home.






Parenting While Bipolar

When I was a fifth grader, I wrote poetry.  I didn’t want to submit a collection of poems for a school writing fair, because I felt it wasn’t good enough.  My teacher approached me and asked me if I’d written the poems myself.  He found it hard to believe I had experienced the deep and powerful emotions I conveyed in my words.  I was shocked he asked me that question (of course, I had written them myself, I would never submit something dishonestly represented as my own) and although he implored me to submit the collection so that it could be on display, I refused.

This was my early memory of the feelings and scattered emotions tied to my bipolar disorder.  To have a little girl bring out such powerful words and creativity made the teachers look again at who I was as a person.

I wasn’t abused or neglected or any such thing.  I had a decent childhood, the last born in a quad of four girls with varying emotional disorders, but strong confidence and intelligence.  I was blessed, but still tormented inside my own mind and soul.

This torment continues to this day.  When I was 26 and planning the birth of my first child, I read an article and a book both of which advised that if you were bipolar, it was best to reconsider having children.  I was offended and felt demonized, like my mental illness was such a horrible and awful part of my identity, that passing it onto a child would be an act of great injustice.

That sentiment has stuck with me to this day, because the stigma against mental illness still bears a strong hold on my psyche.  To see it so blatantly and outrightly written out in a published book or published article, made me lose confidence that I seem to never have gained back.

When I am impatient with my kids, which often I am, I try to remind myself that it is not a result of my mental illness, and that many parents have difficulties similar to my own when parenting.  We yell and then wish we had softened our voices.  We don’t have time to play, even though this time with them is so short.  We do the dishes, but neglect their yearning for our time and attention. The house may be clean, but what about the time we are missing playing, teaching, talking, laughing.

I want to change these things about myself.  I cannot take away my illness, but I can show them they are loved and I will pray that they grow healthy and happy.  Mental illness or not.

Comfortable in Silence

Today I sat in total silence.

I had come upstairs to fix my glasses (you know that little screw that just keeps popping out so that you have to halt everything within a 6 foot radius and get on your hands and knees to find (sometimes with the assistance of a complete stranger if you happen to be in public)) and I fumbled up the job, so I was left with the lenses in one hand and the part that wraps around your ear in the other.

I also realized I’d left my phone downstairs.

I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to my phone – but that’s only because I am in denial.  I look at my phone probably a total of 100 times a day, and I realize that in comparison to others, that is probably not very often.  But the sad thing is, I’m usually looking at it when there has been no activity on it whatsoever.  No new texts, no posts, no chimes going off to let me know a loved one has thought of me.  Nope.  It’s usually me just pretending to check the weather but really hoping I have a missed call.

I don’t like silence anymore.  At one point in my life, I did.  At least, I think I did.  So many times when I cast my line back to my past and start to reel in whatever I caught, it is usually filled with glitter and spice and everything nice.  Life was PERFECT; that’s the only way I remember it because it HAD to be because everything right now is such a disaster (dramatic reading of my thoughts).

So I sat there and quickly came to the realization that I had nothing to distract me from my own thoughts.  I didn’t have a pen in my hand, or a phone to try to numb my mind.  I didn’t have a computer in reach and I couldn’t even see (see above Glasses Situation.)

And so I sat.  And I heard rain.  Dropping on the roof of the attic.  And I thought about a time when I was camping in the deep woods, and I was laying in a tent all alone and it was raining.  And I remember holding my flashlight and writing in a brown journal with brown-tinted papers and a binding made out of thick twine.

And I thought of another time when I was staring up at the stars in the back bed of my sister’s truck, holding hands with my best friend as the soft, warm air of summer rushed over us.  And it truly was PERFECT.

And I thought about the fact that I used to meditate and I used to practice yoga and I used to shower daily and I used to take walks in the woods and I used to get up early just to see the sunrise.  I used to listen to beautiful music and feel deeply and inhale sweet air into the bottom of my lungs and my body and my mind was hard and strong and I was CENTERED.

Was I?  It really does seem like I was.  Or do I just remember it that way?  Or do I just wish it was that way?

And then I shook my head out of my fairy-tale world and brought myself back to reality, 40 lbs overweight, smoking cigarettes through chronic bronchitis and heart problems.  Overeating, oversleeping, thinking of death and wondering how it will feel to lie in the cold, dark earth of my grave.

My Support System

I can’t be something I’m not.  So I will continue to write here, to tear open my heart and liver and lungs and let you see inside of me.  I don’t know how to write any other way.  So here goes…

Life has gotten hard.  In some ways.  In some unimportant, typical ways that Life has always been to me and many generations before me.  I stress over all of it – bills, house, money, kids, bills, house, money, kids – it is an endless cycle that continues to perpetuate.

But even in the midst of the difficulties, there is hope.  I see that I have support from so many people in my life.  My husband is my number one – being there to listen to me, help me take care of myself, help me realize that my life isn’t crumbling before my eyes, that Allah test us with difficulties so that we can be rewarded for our patience.  Yasmin Mogahed explains this so well in this link.  (You can view the video, but below her video is a bulleted list of her key points.)

My family is always there, I am blessed with three amazing sisters who have taken care of me, looked out for me, carried me through this life since the day I was born.  There has not been one instance – not one – when they have not been whole-heartedly there for me when I needed them.

My sisters-in-laws are an amazing part of my support system.  They care for me and my family.  They buy my kids everything they’d ever need and more.  They take us out for fun when we’re feeling stressed, they drag me up from the floor when I can’t get up.  They immediately respond to any emergency we encounter (which happens more often than I’d wish!)  They have taught me that it is okay to ask for help, and they have changed their schedules, their plans, their lives for me and my family.  They are both loving, caring and nurturing and I am so grateful to have them in my life.

Yes, I struggle.  Yes, I take on too much.  Yes, sometimes I cannot breathe and I cling to the branch Allah has given to me and beg him to get me out of this.  But he already has given me all the tools I’d ever need, and he has blessed me with a wide and wonderful support system that I am grateful for every day of my life.