1:30 in the morning, not a snooze in sight…

First let me just say, if you don’t recognize the reference of the title of this blog, we can’t be friends. Or even acquaintances. In fact, you can’t even follow my blog anymore.

Just kidding, here’s a link.

Now that we’re all caught up and you have been sufficiently educated on one of the greatest songs. Like, ever. And that “lightning” is actually spelled “ligntnin”…

Prepare yourselves because this is liable to be a long post. Or leave, I mean, whatever. I promise there will be tidbits of knowledge and advice along the way. (Or is that just a ploy to get you to read my blog? Will we ever know? Probably.)

The last post I wrote was on my birthday, which was August 11th, so some could say I’ve been slacking a bit. They would be right. So to catch you up, for your convenience, here’s a numerical list of things I’ve learned in the time we’ve spent apart.

*Takes 10 minutes to listen to covers of The Thunder Rolls*

  1. Being pregnant is hard. It’s hard 7 years after your first child, it’s hard at almost 30, and it’s especially hard at 1:30 in the morning when you’re so tired and irritated from being so tired that you can’t even think straight, and also have to pee 48 times.
  2. More seriously, I’m learning just how often God closes doors lately. Sometimes He does it so cleverly that I don’t even know it’s happening. Which, I guess could be in part due to pregnancy brain, since I literally forget EVERYTHING right now, but I’m going to let Him take the credit He truly deserves.
  3. I’ve come to terms with certain aspects of my life that may not work out the way I always thought they would. Most of you know about my journey to mental health and the clinic I went to in Chicago. What you may not know is what exactly I went there for. Yes, the anxiety, the depression, the ptsd – all very vague “illnesses” that didn’t answer any real questions. Before attending Meier Clinic, I had seen just about every counselor in our small town, and one even 45 minutes away since I was 17. Along the way I was “diagnosed” the usual anxiety disorder and chronic depression at first, but as I dove deeper into my past and opened up, the diagnosis began to include avoidant personality disorder, mania, dissociative disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder. But why? Nearly 12 years of letting my guard down over and over to strangers claiming the wanted to help and I had NO answers. There had been assault, there had been breaches of physical security as early as 14 years old, and there had been relationships that to this day I still find myself looking over my shoulder and replaying situations in my head. There are scars that have never healed. All of these things spilled over into my adult life. ALL of these things have caused every relationship I’ve been in to fail, although not always just by my hand, but still I continually found myself back in relationships, craving that companionship, only to watch them fall to pieces. That being due to my lack of trust, my fears and issues with intimacy, my paranoia, my up & down mood swings, my reaction to those mood swings, my dependency of things I knew weren’t good for me but soften the blow of life, my fear of vulnerability and the wall I put up when things became too much, and my past. I’m finally figuring out after 12 very long years that this could very well be something I deal with my whole life and may never completely work through, and I have to trust God enough to accept that that may have to be okay. I have to believe He knows my heart and has my best interest at His. I have to find peace. I have to focus on what really matters, which is myself and my children.
  4. Enough seriousness. I’ve had it brought to my attention that I elongate my words while at drive-thrus. Yeah, MOTHER, I’m looking at you. To which my defense is this: I have had my order messed up SO MANY TIMES, and you guys – fast food is hard. Practically rocket science. Not just anyone can do it. (That was a little sarcastic, and kinda rude. Hormones, amiright?) I speak SLOWLY so they can understand what I’m saying and so I don’t have to drive back angrily to demand my order be made correctly. (I’ve literally never done that – I can’t controversy. Yes, that’s a verb now.) Not that my defense even matters because every time we’ve gone through a drive-thru and I find myself doing it, I have to dramatically turn and give my mom a dirty look because she’s sitting there, snort-laughing in the passenger seat. So, now I have a complex, which we can just add to the long list of things that are wrong with me.
  5. People probably think I have tourettes, am possessed by a demon, or have an abusive imaginary friend. Here’s the deal: Sometimes, my sweet, little, growing boy kicks/elbows/rolls/hammer fists SO HARD that I will literally stop dead in my tracks, gasp or yelp in pain and usually follow up with a low, growling “Stahhhhhhhhhp ittttttttt……”
  6. I experienced my first and hopefully last calf cramp last week. Not only did I experience it, I was woken UP by it at 5:30 in the morning, thinking I was surely dying. It’s really hard to register that much pain, where it’s coming from, and how to stop it when you’re only like 30% conscious. For all I knew, there was a shark eating my leg – all blame for that one to the National Geographic show “When Sharks Attack” that I had watched the prior evening. Once it finally subsided, I said a little prayer for forgiveness for all the times I watched a sporting event on TV, saw a player with a cramp, and yelled at them to “suck it up and be a man”. Never again.

I’m almost positive I’ve learned more than that in almost a month, but this post has just gotten weird, and I’m getting ninja kicked from the inside, so I’m going to take both of those things as a solid sign that perhaps now, at 2:30, I should attempt to sleep again.

If you’ve made it this far…

You’re welcome. Again.

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Ode to 29.

As my 20s are coming to a close, I've been realizing more and more just how long and painful the last decade has been. That kind of bummer-mindset is no way to end my birthday.

So, instead of focusing on all the stupid things I've done and the unfortunate events of the last 9 years, I'd rather my focus be towards the positive things in my life, things I'm truly thankful for.

To be cliche and cheesy, here's 29 of them:

1. Mercy. God's, my family's, and now my own.
2. My kids. Both in and out of the womb.
3. Unconditional love. Earthly and heavenly.
4. My support system. I wouldn't be here without it. Without you.
5. Hobbies I truly enjoy.
6. Music, and getting lost in it.
7. Hope for the future, for a nice change.
8. Power of prayer. And answers to them.
9. Books that just make you feel good.
10. Dirty Chai. And chocolate. Because duh.
11. Health. Something we all easily taken for granted.
12. A voice. To sing, to speak, to encourage.
13. Leggings. Let's be real.
14. Meier Clinic. Where my life changed, drastically. For the better.
15. Coping techniques. And the hope they brought after 10 years of suffering from anxiety, ptsd, and depression.
16. Faith. Plain and simple.
17. The guardian angel that saved my life in a car accident that should have claimed it.
18. Second chances. (Or 3rd, maybe 4th. Okay, 87th)
19. My bedroom. My sanctuary and means of ultimate safety.
20. A caring church family. Who have watched me wander and grow my whole life and never stopped praying or loving me.
21. Blogging. A way to show vulnerability in a way that can help others know they're not alone.
22. My dogs, Rocky & Buster. Live emotion monitors.. always down for a snuggle when you need it most.
23. My new body pillow. Ladies who've grown tiny humans, can I get an amen?
24. Being empathetic. To be able to be sensitive to others facing problems of their own.
25. Honesty. From family, friends, anyone.
26. Warm summer rain.
27. My humor in all situations. As dark and twisted as it can be.
28. Quiet time. To really reflect.
29. My "autobiography". Without everything I've seen, everything I've experienced, everyone I've hurt, everyone who has hurt me, every time I thought "why is this happening to me?", every tear I've cried, every meltdown, every anxiety attack, every time I was powerless, every single thing that has tried to break me, I am still here. Fighting. Continuing to write my story. Because when God reached out his hand, I took it and was given the strength to press on.

I would not be who I am today without every single one of those trials and be able to look back and find 29 things I'm grateful for without the loving, outstretched arms of my God and my family.

I wouldn't have been able to, because I wouldn't have been here. I wouldn't have survived the battle of my own.

So here's to you, 29.
It's time to break the curse of the 20s. ✌🏼❤️

Back in the Bluffs

Now that I'm home, adjusting back into "normal" life can be summed up by a story of something that happened in Chicago.

Setting: my mom, my daughter, and myself at IHOP for breakfast.
Here I am, browsing through the menu with Ady, trying to find something she'll eat (she's notorious for being picky) and we come across a plate of "silver dollar" pancakes with a banana and Nutella to put on the pancakes.
"I WANT THAT ONE, MOM! Can I?!"
She never begs, let alone even asks for food, so we order it. However, once the plate arrives, her demeanor immediately changes. She picks at it, takes a few small bites, then begins to stall and do anything other than eat. My mother and I attempt to coax her back to her plate. "Did you try your banana yet?" "Can you take another bite for me?"
This very quickly goes from a relatively calm breakfast to a minor meltdown. She starts to whine and gets teary, at which point all efforts are futile. So, my mom and I finish, we leave, and I attempt to explain to Ady why her behavior won't be rewarded. To a 6 year old, that's darn near the end of the world…
Once in the car, my mom brings up that we hadn't really had any expectations of her going into the restaurant to finish her meal or a certain amount of bites. All my daughter saw was a full plate of pancakes and banana. She couldn't separate that we weren't asking her to eat the whole plate, so she got frustrated and overwhelmed.
We then wondered how it would have worked had we put just one pancake on a different plate and set it in front of her. Would that be less overwhelming? Would she see it as a reachable goal? Pretty easy to assume the answer would be yes.

So many times we focus on the big picture and get so overwhelmed by it that nothing gets accomplished, which leaves us feeling completely frustrated and unfulfilled.

Instead, we should be setting small goals for ourselves, realistic goals, and focus on just one of those goals until it's finished, then begin another. There will be results, we'll feel accomplished, and stress will diminish…

Just one pancake at a time.

Butterfly Effect

Yesterday, I went to this little park with my daughter and my mom. Very secluded, very shaded, absolutely gorgeous. We started walking towards the bench by the play equipment, and a butterfly came out of nowhere and flew nearly down my mom's shirt. She screamed, we laughed, and we joked that was the craziest thing ever!

We had NO idea.

Not long after, the same butterfly landed on the ground in front of us, and my daughter tried to catch it. It flew away, but came back and tried landing on her head. She squealed, we laughed, but I decided I had better get my camera out because clearly, this was no ordinary butterfly encounter.

Finally, the butterfly flew away. Of course we eagerly waited for another surprise arrival, but it never came. My daughter obviously thought it was SO cool, but is too young to understand the true significance of what had just taken place, but I was amazed.

A butterfly is a symbol of hope; of transformation. It starts life as something completely different than its final stage, but in order to reach that stage, it has to do its part for the next step. A drastic change is made, a change like the one I'm going through currently.

I came to Illinois to better myself, to hopefully find some peace, or at least some answers. In the weeks I've been here, I've found that and so much more. I have a whole new grasp on life, I feel hope, I feel secure, I feel whole. This encounter affirmed just that.

After leaving, my mom asked my daughter what she thought the butterfly's name was. She says, "Lulu" but soon changes it to "Zumi". I figured the butterfly, like many stuffed animals, would go through more name changes..

Today, after much pleading, we went back to the park to see if our friend would return. Unfortunately, he did not, but my mom had discovered something else: The name of the beautiful little trees near the park.

My daughter had no idea, but I had goosebumps.

I could blame my hyper-sensitivity on pregnancy hormones or the book series I'm currently reading (about angels fighting unknown battles around us, and sending messages to us in many different ways. 'Angels Walking' series by Karen Kingsbury, if you're interested.) but this was something supernatural. I have never in my life experienced something so bizarre but SO cool.

Validation comes in many forms if you choose to pay attention. ❤️

I don’t do analogies.

While in a group session today, the therapist was talking to us about emotions and what it's like to bottle them up.

She chose to use an analogy involving a beach ball.

"Emotions are meant to be felt, not ignored. Imagine a beachball – it weighs practically nothing, but have you ever tried holding it completely under water? It's nearly impossible, and even harder to keep it there, due to waves and currents of the water. But when you can't hold it under anymore…"

Yours truly: "I mean, it's going to plow you straight in the face…"

The correct answer apparently was, "The force would quickly drive it out of the water, and send it in any given direction."

"To the face" is a direction, thank you very much.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

7.25.17 (📍Chicago, IL)

Yesterday, I had psych testing. You know, ink blots and all that, and I will be the first to admit that the amount of disturbing things I saw in them had ME convinced I must be some kind of crazed lunatic.

And here’s the thing: the doctor testing you doesn’t want you to see just one thing, nor will she move on to the next blot without you finding something else. Once I had that part figured out, I really got creative, finding 4-5 things per test. We’re talking samurais, various skeletal parts, and shark monsters with hands here, people. The regret came  immediately when she told me that we were now going to go BACK through the cards and I was going to explain and show her where I saw what I saw and why I thought it looked like I what I thought it looked like.

After the ink blots, came the pictures… and the terrifying news that I would have to study each picture and come up with a story to go with it, which she would type, detailing what happened leading up to the picture, what the person/persons in the picture were feeling and then a conclusion.

I had to do this 8 miserable times, and when put on the spot to create a story based on an old school, textbook-looking picture, my brain comes up with some twisted tales.

I wanted to crawl into a hole, and all I kept thinking after the last picture was, “PLEASE don’t read them back to me…”

By far, one of the most uncomfortable and embarrassing experiences of my life. I dread the next time I have to make eye contact with this doctor, which will be tomorrow at lunch, when we go over my “results”, that will probably land me in an insane asylum.