Posts tagged ‘Relationships’

October 18, 2011

Building a bigger world part II

Because I had been so wrapped up in my grief and shame (and I believe this is true of most people who suffer from depression) I had reduced my world down to just a few people for a very long time.  I had very few friends in my life.

I needed to build a bigger world! This tool is essential to overcoming depression and building self-esteem.

Finding a place to start was difficult. I had talked to Sinead about it during several sessions.

She encouraged me to find things I liked and follow them. So I made a list: dogs, the computer, and I wanted to go to school!

Dogs – I have been a dog lover since I was a little girl. I now work with a local dog rescue and have for many years. I have acquired four wonderful dogs along the way and saved (fostered to get adopted) about 10 dogs. As an added bonus I take my dogs to the dog park almost every day where I have met some great friends! We have fun for the humans too, including BBQ’s and picnics.

The Computer – OK, who does not like the computer, I mean here you are! I used my connection to the cyber world to find a local message board and started communicating with people who lived locally, I eventually made some lifelong friends from that message board that are no longer cyber friends but REAL friends who I hang out with several times a month.

School – a real win – win, I meet new people, I learn something new, and I will eventually earn a degree!

How big is you world? How many people do you talk to in a week? How often do you go to an event, function, or get-together where you are surrounded by friends?

Is it enough? Only you know that answer, but if you said no – build a bigger world!

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August 4, 2011

His final words

He told me he would die soon. He said he was ready to die. He said the cancer had won, he hurt all the time. He was tired. He would shoot himself soon.

We made small talk for a moment.

Then…

He told me how much he still loved my Mother. He told me about when they met, what he first thought when he saw her (an injured bird), and how he fell in love with her the moment he sat eyes on her. He went on and on for what seemed like an eternity about Mom. When he finally stopped talking I said,”It is so sad that she died so young.” He replied, “Yes, but that was the way it had to be.” I responded, “She just could not stop drinking, she was so drunk when she died.” And he said…

“Actually Veronica (he inhaled and sighed), when I saw her, she wasn’t that drunk.”

I never followed up. I never asked, “What does that mean.” I never said a word. I just sat there, dumbfounded.

He then changed the subject and asked me if I really thought I had a chance at finishing school. I did not answer right away (still in shock I guess). He then said, “You know Eva (my step sister)… blah blah blah” that is all I heard. Then he said, “Well, I guess so far at least you have a good GPA, maybe you will finish, who knows.”

He took a breath…

I said, in a whimper, “Yes, I think I can finish school.”

He said again, “Well, maybe you can.”

He changed the subject again. He talked about how proud he was of Jake.

And just about that moment, my son, Jake walked in.

He and Jake started talking.

I just sat there, feeling numb, disconnected. It was as if I was watching the two of them from somewhere else.

In that moment, all of the pieces that I had worked so hard to put back together felt as if they were fracturing. Chipping away.

My adrenaline was pumping. My heart began to race. My brain started banging around inside my head. My thoughts were flying fast. I was trying desperately to keep up with their conversation.

At some point, I interrupted their conversation, and began to argue with my father, over..? It had something to do with politics… really? Nothing, it was over nothing. Yet, it was an argument over everything!

He became irritated and ask me to leave.

I did.

About a week later, he shot himself.

July 27, 2011

Before and after my Dad died

I was numb. I was shocked. Although I knew it was coming, somewhere in the back of my mind I just could not process the thought of him dying. Not only dying, but committing suicide. But after he did kill himself I was OK with his death. I was not hurt or angry that he had killed himself. I understood why he would and he had explained why he was going to do it.

But when we got a copy of his will, that is when I became angry and hurt. It is not that I wanted money. It was that he left my step-sister pretty much everything. He left my brother a bug chunk of money as well (which I expected). But me and my sister – $500! And that was not the hurtful part.

What hurts?

1) When your own father misspells your name in his will.

Yes, he did not even spell my name right!

But, two, was the conversation I had not long before his death that hurt the most!

I thought I would have the opportunity to go back to him and readdress what he said.

But that day never came.

July 24, 2011

After the reunion, what I always wanted to be

As I posted in this blog: https://nomorevictim.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/the-family-reunion/ I found that I had become very strong.  I could stand up for myself, I could face challenges, and I could walk away from a situation without feeling defeated.

This was a defining moment in my life. My life became clearer – sharper, and so did I!

Within a year, I decided to go to college. And soon I will be graduating with my AA and transferring to Sam Houston State to get my BA in Education! I currently have a 4.0! I am the student I always wanted to be.

I may have never asked my Dad those 8 questions, but what I did do was become the daughter I always wanted to be even though my Dad would never be the Dad I had always wanted.

I am the wife I always wanted to be. After that fateful day, I no longer leaned on my husband for emotional support. I discovered I could take care of myself. This new sense of self helped me to be the wife I always wanted to be. No jealousy, no anger, and no fear of abandonment.

Today, I am what I always wanted to be, but never imagined that I could be.

Happy!

But I will admit, it takes work and dedication to be happy. Is it worth it? Hell yes it is!

June 8, 2011

The Family Reunion

As that day in September of 2008 approached, I was filled with anxiety.  Not only would my Dad be there, but so would my Nanny and my sister (who I had not seen nor spoken to since 2005).

In addition, I was completely off of all psychotropic medication.  I was managing my life well, but still lived in fear of having a setback.

I had a plan on how to handle almost every situation that came at me while I was there. If my Nanny made mention of my relationship with m Dad, I would just tell her that we would talk about it later and that it was her birthday and I was there to celebrate her. If my sister would not speak to me, I was OK with that too. I know at some point I had hurt her enough to where she no longer felt comfortable with me in her life. I was OK with that, I had felt that way about others in my life and, although I was not sure why, I could understand not wanting chaos in my own life. My Dad, well he had a way of getting under my skin… my weight. All of my life I had been to fat in his opinion. And when I lost all of that weight, every time he saw me, he would say how great it was that I had finally lost some weight. It is sad really, because as thin as I was, I was very unhealthy. However, by 2008, I had started gaining weight back. The ultimate plan was to leave. Mike and I, even today, have a deal… if ever one or the other wants to leave a situation – we will leave together. No matter what.

As we arrived my Nanny was driving up as well. (That’s right, on her 95th birthday she was driving up!) As I greeted her the first thing she asked me was if I had seen and talked to my Dad. I replied I had not but I was sure he was inside. I am sure my discomfort gleamed on my face. She just gave me a hug and then walked inside. She never mentioned a word to me again that day about my Dad.

As I finally made it inside I saw my Dad, my brother and my sister. I felt this incredible sense of dread come over me. But as I got closer my brother hugged me and whispered in my ear “Everything will be alright.” My sister then gave me a hug and said, with tears in her eyes, that she had missed me. I told her I had missed her too. Then I made my way round to the rest of the family, giving hugs and asking how everyone was doing. And then I saw my Dad.

Dad, “Hey there Pooh (my childhood nickname) you look like you are gaining weight.” I replied, “Dad, I love you, but my weight is none of your business.” I remember Mike reaching for my hand. My Dad turned red then said, “well you look good.”

Then I noticed his leg! It was awful looking and for whatever reason I immediately ask if his cancer had returned. He hushed me and said he just thinks it is a cream he used. But you could see it in his face, he knew what I had said was probably the case. Then he said he was going to the doctor next week.

My Dad’s own words “At Labor Day the start of September my right leg began to swell and look very muscular. I guessed because that was where I was rubbing testosterone gel on it and it was just becoming muscular and strong. I was so wrong. By the middle of September the leg had changed to a blue-green-yellow color and my wife had me go see my favorite GP-MD. When he saw the leg he said CANCER. Another PSA was done and came back at 51.6.

In October my right leg began to bleed and produce a whitish liquid. Pus I guess. This lasted a few weeks and then cleared up.”

That day will live in my mind forever, it was the beginning of the only relationship I ever really had with my Dad and it was the beginning of a renewed relationship with my sister. It was also the last celebration I would have with my Nanny.

The relationship with my sister is still alive today. Sadly, I do not believe it will ever be what it once was. My heart was broken when she left in 2005 and cut me off, and although I am sure she had her reasons, I can never suffer that hurt again. So I will guard my heart forever. It will always be somewhat fragile. Broken pieces put back together, no matter how strong the glue might be, are never as strong as they were when the heart was whole.

The relationship with my Dad was a ruse. I had no idea until his death that I was a pawn in his life to get the attention he needed and/ or wanted from his wife. In addition, I believe he knew that without some type of a relationship with me he would never get to know my son. And being a grandfather to Jake was something he really wanted. Despite that, I am glad I had it. I learned so much during the time with my Dad. Although, in the beginning, I was just a tool to gain attention from Elly, as time went by I think maybe for the first time ever he began to see me as his daughter. And for the first time possibly ever, I think he felt remorse. Not only for what he had done to me and my sister, but for what he had done to my Mom. A week before he died, he disclosed his part in her death. Something many had suspected over the years.

He was there!

May 10, 2011

Fine tuned?

Well OK, not quite.  But my marriage and my relationship with my son just started working.  It seemed like the more I recognized what I needed to do to be OK and actually did it, the more both just seemed to work. Around the beginning of 2005 Mike asked me to start working with him.  No pressure, I could leave when I wanted to and I never had to deal with customers.

It was a win-win.  I got out of the house and he got a free part – time employee.

As most of you know I had lost a ton of weight between 2001 and 2004. And even though I had started to learn how to balance my life, I still lost more weight. It would not be until 2005 that I would really start to balance not only my life, but my weight as well. 

2005 Total weight loss – about 80 lbs.

Mike and I became not only working partners, but friends.  We started working together instead of against each other.  We learned to support each other on the rough days.  We learned to celebrate each others good days.  Our marriage just became this awesome love story.  One I had always dreamed of but never – ever thought could ever be.  Mike is my love, my hero, my friend, and my lover.  Never, did I ever believe he could be those things, not because he could not be, but because I believed for so long I could never be worth having someone so wonderful in my life.

My relationship with my son just seemed to get better as well.  No more yelling or fighting.  I was learning how to be happy, maybe for the first time and those closest to me were learning as well! I learned to be patient with my son, to understand he was a teenager, and that I was really his Mom and my job was to not be his friend or his drill Sargent but his guide.  And as a guide I could not make him follow, I could only set a path before him.  He is my pride, my joy, and my love.  He is now my guide as well as I am still his.  Being a parent is the best thing I have ever done.  And I am so glad that I figured it out before my son was grown and it was too late.

From 2005 until 2008 life seemed to just be OK.  It moved at a slower pace.  We went on vacations, to New Mexico and Canada, and life was good.  No stress! I rarely heard from my Dad.  And my Nanny was getting older and had her own health to contend with. I think she finally made peace with the lack of relationship I would ever have with my Dad.  My Dad’s cancer seemed to be in complete remission.

All was quiet!

Then in 2008 we were invited to a family reunion!

And to be honest, I was anxious – almost afraid!  I had not been on medication for several years and there had not been a true test as to how I would do without it.

What I could have never expected happened, I learned I really was going to be OK without medication.  That I really was able to control mania and depression.  And with this discovery, I made a life changing decision.

Next…. The Family Reunion!

May 3, 2011

NO!

Once a person has the ability to observe the warning signs that a manic episode is approaching they can then take action.

I am so incredibly aware of my body and my brain that, the minute I feel my jaw tighten or that I wake in the middle of the night and cannot fall back to sleep, I start relaxation techniques, I identify the source of my stress and make a note to address it after a good nights sleep, and if I cannot identify in a few minutes I make a note to attempt to identify it the next day. I literally write it down! And I follow through!

My mental health is so important to me that I will do whatever it takes to be OK. I have walked away from friendships that have become toxic, I have dropped a class that I felt uncomfortable in (as in REALLY creepy uncomfortable, I trust my gut!), I have a straight forward approach to other humans, I say what I mean, I no longer play the nice girl game (if your outfit is ugly and you ask me, I will tell you it is not flattering! If I don’t I will feel horribly guilty and be stressed!).

But the number one key to my success is learning one word. . . NO!

You can ask, but the answer is probably going to be NO!

Nothing is more important to me than me. Because if I am crazy I am good to no one, especially not to me!

Now you might be thinking, “how selfish!” Your damned right! But not near as selfish as a person who never says NO and is always overwhelmed and having a nervous breakdown on a regular basis. They give – give – give until there is nothing left. For a day, a week, a month, a year – they hold it together. Then they break. And all hell breaks loose with them!

Why do people do that? I will tell you why I did it… because I always thought something was wrong with me and I wanted people to like me! I wanted to be accepted. And I honestly believed that no one would like me for just me! I was broken and I was afraid everyone knew it. The truth was, everyone did! Not because of my past but because of my present.

Oh don’t get me wrong, people loved the fact that I was the go to person! But when I would break a little bit more they would whisper “Poor Veronica, she had a tough childhood, she can’t help it.”

Oh, yes she could and she does!

Discovering the tool – NO, has been a literal life saver!

April 4, 2011

Depression

According to the World Health Organization depression is a common mental disorder.

Facts
Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.
Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.
Depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care.
Fewer than 25 % of those affected have access to effective treatments.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are numerous depression treatments available. Medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) are very effective for most people.

But is medication really a treatment or a tool?

Medication serves a purpose. If someone is so depressed that they can no longer function or have become suicidal it can be a used as a tool. It can help a person to be able to get to a place where they can start to understand why they are depressed and how to not be depressed.

But a treatment?

You cannot treat years of abuse with a pill. You cannot treat a lifetime of dysfunction with a pill. You cannot treat low self esteem or self worth with a pill. You certainly cannot treat self hatred with a pill.

Depression is insidious and cannot be cured overnight, in a week, or even in a month. And it cannot be cured with a pill.

So how is depression cured? In my experience, with the right tools. You all have read about “The Shovel”, which I had been using for years the only way I had ever been shown to use it. I not only needed new life tools, but I needed someone to show me how to use them!

Building a life tool kit! Finding someone to teach you the correct way to use life tools!

Step one – find a therapist!
Find a therapist you feel comfortable enough with to share. Find a therapist you feel uncomfortable enough with that you do not feel like they are a friend. (We tell friends what we think they want to hear).

Step two – Tell your therapist what you expect from therapy and that you need their help so they must be able to demand your honesty.
By setting the stage of what you expect from your therapist, you are setting the stage for real healing. I told Sinead “I am done with feeling like shit, I want to be happy and I need for you to be tough and help me do that!”

Step three – do it!
Be honest! I used to find a therapist and just give enough information to get through the session. Why? Who was I helping? Not me!

Step four – do the work!
If you come up with a plan of action with your therapist, follow through! As I discussed in “Toxic Relationships” I rehearsed conversations with Sinead. I also came up with several plans with Sinead and I followed through!

Step five – do not stop until you are done! I have been through a slew of therapist over the years. I never really got anywhere with any of them and never saw the same one for longer than a couple of months. But I saw Sinead for years. And even though I have not seen her on a regular basis in a couple of years I know if I need her she is a phone call away. I actually went to see her soon after my father killed himself.

April 3, 2011

Where next?

Healing toxic relationships are the most important part of my recovery. By acknowledging them and identifying why they are toxic I am able to keep balance in my life.

But healing toxic relationships are only a part of my journey to sanity and recovery. So I think I will attempt to dispel all of my diagnosis over the years.

First, I think it is important for my readers to understand that I do not deny there is depression, bi-polar disorder, personality disorders, etc. What I do want you to know, for my life anyway, is that medication does not heal any of these, nor is it something I will need forever.

A psychiatrist once told me, “You have an imbalance and in order to fix that imbalance you will need to take medication the rest of your life. Much like someone who is a diabetic.” That was a lie.

It is a lie I have heard many times!

March 26, 2011

Toxic Relationships – my Dad

Some can’t be healed!

To much hurt to heal.

But I loved my Dad.

Last night I attended Relay for Life.  It is an event to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

My Dad had prostate cancer.  I could not light a candle for him.  I did not add his name to the list of those to be remembered.

I cried last night.  I cried for those who had lost their children to cancer.

I cried for those who had lost their siblings, mothers, grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers to cancer.

I cried because my Dad fought cancer but I could not bring myself to honor his memory.  He just does not deserve it.

I cried because I could not dare place his name beside the little girl I was there for, to honor her memory.

One day, as this blog moves forward I will go in depth into my toxic relationship with my Dad.  It was so toxic the best I could do was attempt to set some boundaries I could live with and still have him in my life.

He remained on the outer edge of my life until he died.

I cried last night.  And I am OK this morning.  Happy to have the day to enjoy my life!

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