Category Archives: hope

2014: A Brand New Year.

If you noticed, I did not blog throughout the entire year of 2013.

Mainly because, 2013 was a pretty horrible year for me personally, professionally and every other way, shape and form.

While there were some definite bright spots, like renewing my vows (twice!) in both Las Vegas and in Mexico,or spending my granddaughter’s 5th birthday in Disney, there were far more dark patches; times that I really didn’t think that I would make it through the remainder of the year without some serious professional intervention.

My personal health was poor throughout this year, and it made matters so much worse.  Anything you go through in your life seems far more trying when your health is not where it should be.  My stellar marriage was put through some incredibly trying times.  Relationships with family members worsened and in some cases, deteriorated altogether.  I feel like I spent most of 2013 in tears.  In short, things were hard.

And on the precipice of this brand new year, they are still…well, hard.

My best course of therapy has always been to turn to my writing.  It’s saved me through some of the most torrid times of my life.  Just to be able to achieve that sweet release of putting thoughts to “paper” has always managed to help me put things into perspective.  But, this year, the strength to even turn to my blog did not come.  A year long case of writers block caused by being in the throes of some of the deepest, darkest depression I have ever experienced.

People do not understand how seemingly happy people can be “depressed”.  If you sorted through my facebook photos from this past year, you would see dozens of “happy” photos of me, smiling brightly for the camera.  But, what you do not see are the seconds before the photo and the hours afterward.  Smiling on command is easy and that is what the camera captures.  But if we had the ability to see what takes place the second before or the seconds after the photo is taken, you would see the smile fall away just as quickly as it appeared.  Again, not saying there were not moments of genuine happiness, but in 2013, they were few and far between.

I think, if I were to be honest, I spent most of 2013 curled up in a fetal position in my bed.  Too exhausted to face the day, too tired to cry.  And when you are just too tired to even cry, that’s when depression is at its worst.  I find a good, hard cry to be cathartic.  It cleanses the soul, erases some of the negativity by releasing the pain and makes room for new, perhaps better emotions to seep into the soul.  But when you just cannot cry, when the pain of life is so overwhelming that you cannot even produce tears…when the thought of crying exhausts you, there is a problem.  Usually a problem that is much bigger than you are.

In 2013, the problem was not only bigger than I was, it hovered over me like a large, black winged bird, casting a shadow upon me.  I went many days without showering.  I would stay in bed for days straight, scarcely exiting my room.  I would stare into the television set, enthralled with nothing; just an empty vessel waiting to be filled with something, anything.  I can’t tell you much about what I did in 2013.  I rely heavily on my Facebook timeline to remind me, but there’s a problem with that.  The problem being, I fooled myself with many statuses on there in order to fool the rest of the world.  I couldn’t have the world knowing how I was struggling with my depression.  The world, my friends en masse, they expect me to be funny, charming, irreverent.  Somehow, I managed to keep up that persona, or rather, facade, on my statuses.  But with every “LMAO” I posted, I assure you, there was very little laughing being done, let alone laughter that would remove my ass from my body.  I would type statuses, replies, comments with the same blank look on my face that I reserved for the television set.  I would appear interested and engaged when in reality, I could not care less about most of what I was writing.

Trying to keep up appearances became exhausting, hurling me into a far darker place than I had previously been, until in mid August, just before my birthday, I melted down altogether.  I wanted out.  Out of my family, out of my friendships, out of my marriage, out of my house, out of my bed, out of my job, out of my life.  Ideally, I just wanted to be left alone to rot.  For anyone who has ever experienced depression, you know that loneliness is the devil at work.

But, this is not where I am heading in 2014.  I am not over the depression.  Not by a long shot.  It’s plagued me all my life and I doubt sincerely, that it will take leave any time soon.  However, I am actively involved in making sure that I don’t spend 2014 with the blankets pulled up over my head.  I am in the process of healing the pain that encompasses me.  I have rid myself of the toxic people in my life who won’t allow me to breathe normally.  For those I cannot rid myself of, I have opted to ration my time carefully, wholly in consideration of my mental health.  You can have 15 minutes of me a week, nothing more.  The pain I experience physically, I am finally putting myself under the knife to heal.

Basically, I am not giving away another year of my precious life to this monster that is seeking to consume me.  I know it will be challenging, but it’s important that I remember 2013 as the year that almost did me in.  I am not a victim.  I will never be a victim.   I don’t want pity, not even empathy.  I just want another opportunity to ensure that I won’t be a statistic. I don’t want to fall prey to my long standing depression.  I don’t want to wallow in those deep waters any longer.  I have plenty to be grateful for.  I have healthy, happy, beautiful children and grandchildren.  I have a husband who truly loves me and wants me to get better and is willing to support me on that journey.  I have friends who are compassionate and caring.  I have a talent that not only earns me a living, but heals me in the process.

There is so much for me to live for and in that instance, I am richer than most.

My excuses have worn thin.  The time for denying my reality has come to a close.  I am not going to be a living dead girl for another year.  I have to be an active participant in making sure that I do not die.  Not a physical death, but rather, an emotional one…which I find to be worse.  A physical death. It’s easy.  Anyone can do that.  Suicide is never an option.  Not for me at least.  It’s too easy to make the choice to check out.  As the great Annie Lennox once opined, “dying is easy, it’s living that scares me to death”.  Living is harder, but the rewards of doing so are far greater.  With every sunrise comes the ability to change the course of your life.

I am not saying that it will come easy, nor am I saying I will be successful at it.  I am positive I will have days where pulling myself from my bed will be a hardship for me.  I am sure that there are days I will fail miserably.  But, I am also positive that, if I push myself, I will be able to rise to the challenge.   Mistakes quickly become regrets, but I will not punish myself for those.  I have been hard enough on myself…harder than any of you could ever be on me.

So, on this, the eve of my surgery, I am making myself the promise to try a little harder.

I give so much of myself to everyone in my life.  Why am I so reticent to do for myself what I do for others?  Am I undeserving?  Am I not valuable enough?  Not worthy?  Of course not.

Here’s my fresh new perspective on the matter:

Inside all of us, there is a child.  We all have that inner child.   It’s the one who laughs at inappropriate times.  The one who looks over at a set of swings while you are in high heels and an evening gown and decides that running over to the playground would be a blast.  The child who starts a food fight in the middle of Denny’s at one o’clock in the morning over pancakes.  The same one who secretly watches old 80’s cartoons on Saturday mornings, cross legged on the floor in pajamas.  But, it’s also the same one who cries when they are hurt.  It’s the same child who desperately needs a hug when they are inconsolable.  It’s that same child who begs for forgiveness when they have done wrong.

And I am the mother of this inner child.  She is me.  I am her.  It is my duty, obligation, desire to take care of her as surely as I would take care of my own children.  I would do anything for my children.  I would die for them.  I would give my last breath for them.  So, why not that inner child?  Why not give my last breath to fight for that little girl within me who is suffering and struggling?  Why not nurture her and love her the way she deserves?  Why would I leave her alone, abandoned, needing and desperately wanting?

She needs me as surely as I need her.

So, for 2014, I promise to be a better mother.  Not only to my children I have given birth to, but to the little girl inside of me.  It is my job to heal her and in turn, heal myself.  I will hold her when she needs to be held.  I will kiss her tears away when she cries.  I will wake her with a gentle hug at the start of her day and lay her down, bundled in warmth and affection when it is time for sleep.  I will rouse her from the nightmares that plague her and remind her, I am here.  Shhhh…I am here.  Nothing is going to happen to you, sweet girl…because I am here.  I will give her daily affirmations of how beautiful she is, how smart she is.  I will feed not just her belly, but her soul.  I will set her free to play, but keep an ever watchful eye on her, keeping her safe from harm, from all the dangers lurking in this world.  I will protect her from the bullies on the playground of life.  I will not abandon her when she needs me most.  I will be the mother to her that I never had in my own life.  

She will be loved.

All I can ask is that she forgive me the first 40+ years that I did not realize I had left her alone.

She is me.  I am her.  And in this knowledge, I am comforted, for I know she is a forgiving soul and will allow me back into her life.

Only this time, I will do things the right way.  And she will flourish.  She will grow.

And someday, under my guidance and with my unrequited love, she will heal.

She deserves that.  We both do.

Focus 52: "Glass"

This photograph was taken, a complete fluke considering I did not realize what the prompt was for this week, at the Salvador Dali Museum this past week.  This is the spiral staircase that takes you between the three floors of the museum.  It gradually narrows, slowly winding to an end, just under the glass dome.  It made me think “Stairway to Heaven”.  It made me think about the way things have been going in my life lately.  Things have been looking up and then, leading nowhere real fast.  It’s been a very confusing time in my life.  I have been in and out of the hospital three times in the past three weeks.  Little pieces of me being removed each time.  Doctors saying one thing, doing another, forcing me to lose control over the one thing that we should all take for granted: the ability to have control of our own bodies.  I feel like I am on an upward climb…but repeatedly hitting this glass ceiling that allows me to LOOK towards the future, but not allowing me to get there.  It’s frustrating, to say the least.  I want to be somewhere that I can’t get to.  I am trying to remember that there are people out there that have it a lot worse than I do.  A LOT worse.  I don’t have a fatal disease…something which was a possibility several weeks ago.  What I do have is a disease that is slowly overtaking my reproductive organs, literally encompassing them into this big, woven web of scar tissue, forming a barrier around what does need to be removed.  It is like having to drill through 20 feet worth of solid rock to get a poisonous snake out of your garden.  It should not take so much work to rid yourself of evil, the evil here being one of my ovaries that encompassed in a man-eating tumor.  This cystic tumor is three times the size of my poor, overworked ovary, causing me incredible pain.  Yet, the pain that I have to endure in order to remove, well, the pain…it’s almost ironic. 

To get rid of pain, you must endure worse pain?  Somehow, it just seems medieval. 

This past Thursday, I had a laparoscopic surgery to drain and/or cut the cyst off my ovary.  Upon entry, the doctor discovers that I have webbing, scar tissue, called “endometriosis” covering my entire abdominal cavity.  It is everywhere.  It is “stage 4″, which is apparently the worst you can have.  One of the last things I remember the doctor saying to me before the surgery is…”You know, you should have told us you were having pain before the FIRST surgery.  We could have taken care of it then.”

I had no words.  None.

This is the equivalent of an “I told you so” from a doctor.  And I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. 

I had told him, for weeks, about the pain I had been enduring.  My husband and I had just called the doctor two days earlier to tell him that I was in the emergency room with excruciating pain just the day before.  He cut away a portion of my uterus, a bunch of fibroids and polyps.  He did a D & C to check for cancer (none) and then, abladed my uterus so that I could no longer bleed to death nearly every month.  With every passing period, my red blood cell level kept decreasing.  I am severely anemic.  However, the pain.  The pain from that ovary that they never removed remained and I felt this was all for naught.  That caused an extreme amount of mental duress for me.  This past week, I came back into the doctors office again, the pain absolutely maddening and the depression, deepening. 

Doctor makes that remark from earlier and then, gives me 3 hours to let me know that A) your ovary has just blown up, B) you’re going under the knife again for emergency surgery and C) this time…This Glorious, Wonderful Time…we will be removing that ovary. The bane of my existence.  And life shall be good again.

Of course, this is when I find out about my endometriosis.  The moat of impossibility that is encompassing the remainder of my battered uterus, one innocent ovary who is likely wondering “what the hell did ‘I’ do to deserve this?”, and of course, the culprit, the right ovary who…had she not spoken up in the form of extreme pain, would have never alerted me to the presence of the EndoMonster, eating my insides. 

So into surgery I go, tube into the belly.  Soreness extraordinaire when I arise the next day.  Complications.  Stress with my already stressed out husband and an argument that never should have taken place due to a misunderstanding.  But it’s okay.  Because now, I have been made to understand that despite the doctor’s best Black and Decker power tools, the wall of the EndoMonster could not be penetrated and the force within, the control center of pain, that God forsake ovary…still remains.  He could not get through the enormous amount of scar tissue surrounding it. 

Square one. 

There are questions that need to be answers, research that needs to be done, phone calls to be made.  But, in the midst of all this, there was a birthday to celebrate.  Two days after that emergency surgery, I had pre-planned an amazing weekend with my husband to celebrate his 37th year on this planet, 12 of those in my life.  Thusly, we went to the Dali Museum where, to bring this full circle, I took the picture that captured what I am feeling.  The feeling of moving up and yet, going nowhere.  We took a helicopter ride over the beaches in Clearwater.  It was scary, exhilarating and amazing. We did a lot of laughing, a welcome distraction from all the tears as of late.  Then, we went to an out of the way Indian restaurant to burn our mouths on the finest curry based delicacies they had to offer.  We stayed i a hotel, also a welcome reprieve from all the time we have been spending at home, only to wake up to a brand new horror the next day.

My belly, never flat…but never sticking out further than my size F breasts, was completely engorged, swollen and bloated.  It was painful.  Extremely painful.  Tender and hot to the touch.  By later that morning, I could no longer fit into my pants.  It was then I found out that during the laparoscopic surgery, a woman is pumped full of carbon dioxide to both shrink and dry out the organs in the abdominal cavity and to expand the area in which the doctor has to work.  It is quite common, apparently, for the sudden expansion to occur a few days after surgery as my husband and I read horror story after horror story from dozens of beleaguered women who have gone through this process.  It is also, from what I understood (and concur with) extremely painful.  By late Sunday night, my belly was swollen to the point of looking equally as pregnant as my sister in law who is presently 9 months pregnant with twins.  I was scarcely able to breathe as I was babysitting my grandchildren for the night.  I could not lift them and eventually, I could not lift myself without assistance. 

We called the doctor this morning who wanted to see me “right away” as “that kind of pain and swelling is not normal”.  Not normal?  We read literally hundreds of stories that said quite the opposite.  This pain and swelling IS rather normal for this surgery and for some women, the swelling and pain can take weeks to go away.  Once again, I am questioning my doctor…and questioning myself.  I am normally a fabulous advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves in times of health crisis.  Yet, I had scarcely enough time to be able to read and understand what is happening to me.  My husband, God bless him, is doing what he can to give himself an education on the topic…baptism by fire, if you will, but he can only do so much. 

I see my doctor again tomorrow morning and I think, at this visit, I will be releasing him as my gynecologist in lieu of someone who cares enough to be able to give me rational explanations for what is going on with me.  I want to know why this disease was not discovered years early by the barrage of tests I have taken for other gynecological ailments I have suffered through, such as interstitial cystitis and cervical cancer.  I want to know why three gynecologists, two urologists and one family doctor never thought to look for something as common as endometriosis knowing my history of painful periods accompanied by excessive bleeding.

I want answers.  I deserve answers…but my surgeries are coming faster than the questions are forming in my head.

So, when I looked at the spiral staircase, leading upward toward the glass ceiling, allowing in the sunshine and the promise of something brighter, but never quite allowing you to touch it, I thought…there it is.  My life, in a photo.  This is where I am right now.  Looking skyward, with no discernible means of getting there…

just a long climb spiraling rapidly to no where at all.

In Memory of the Puppy Monster.

Has it really been four years since I wrote this post?

If I was to recall the list of tragic events that have occurred in all my time as a blogger, this would be at the head of the list, because it was the first of many blogger tragedies that would follow in the subsequent years. It was the first blow that our large group of bloggers had ever really taken collectively.  Since then, husband have passed away.  Bloggers have passed away.  More children of Bloggers have passed away.  More than I care to remember.  The most recent, this past February

I can clearly remember the day that I received the call from Avitable.  Dave’s son had passed away in a tragic pool accident.  Can we rally the troops?  Can we do something, any thing, to ease Dave’s pain? 

And we had nothing.  All we had was our love, our support and our broken hearts. 

But what we also had between the two of us, was a very large blog following, and a call to arms was made by Avitable.  He spearheaded a campaign to gather an outpouring of support from all over the web. We sent out emails to everyone we knew.  People donated time, creating photos, creating t-shirts, making donation sites, soliciting funds to help pay for any expenses Dave may incur trying to lay his beautiful son to rest.  Whatever.  It didn’t matter.  We just needed to do something, any thing, to try and stop his pain.

A band aid on a bullet wound.  That’s all it was.

Now, four years later, nothing has changed…and yet, everything has changed.  But the memories of that day in June will never leave me.  The way everyone rallied together, came together to lift our friend from the depths of despair.  We all mourned in our own way.  Some people chose to blog about personal losses.  Some, like myself, chose to keep their blog silent for a week in tribute to DJ.  But, the same group who was there four years ago are still there now.  And we still rally around every year to remember DJ and remind Dave that he is loved. 

Life takes us in a million different directions.  We have priorities that pull us away from our friends daily lives.  We have Facebook now, where we can make a quick appearance, “like” a status and feel that replaces actual interaction.  Blogging is a lost art.  Facebook has stolen so much of the intimacy and warmth from our relationships.  But, oddly enough, this same group still refers to themselves as “Bloggers” and when we say that, the list of usual suspects come to mind.  We were all there for Dawg then.  We are still here now.  The heartbreak of DJ leaving this world has never left many of us. 

Tonight, I am thinking of DJ, of Dawg…and the outpouring of love and support that carried all of us through a tragic time.  We may not all be close any longer.  Some have left for greener pastures.  Others have just left altogether…but the memories that bound us back then still bind us now.  I am grateful for having known DJ, if only through his fathers eyes.  His posts about his beautiful little boy used to make me laugh. The videos of DJ eating out of a bowl of cereal bigger than his head, eating from a spoon twice the size of his little mouth always made me chuckle out loud. 

And in those videos, every once in awhile, he would glance sideways, up at his Dad…the Big Dawg, as if to ask, “Am I doing good, Daddy?”  And the Dawg would look down upon him with a smile that said,  “You’re doing great, Puppy Monster.”

Now it is DJ who is smiling down.  And I bet he thinks Daddy is doing just great.  Still. 

RIP Puppy Monster.  Sleep well, Little Angel.

Focus 52: "Hope"

There was a photo here.

There was a prayer for hope.

I opted to remove it because I couldn’t write about it.

I opted not to write about because I couldn’t come up with the words for it.

All I could come up with was “hope.”  One word.

And in believing in that one word, my prayers were answered.

The story doesn’t need to get told.  24 hours worth of stress, heartache, prayer and pain can’t always be documented.  What can be documented is the relief, the release of anxiety and the overall inexplicable joy in knowing that this post was not necessary.  That it was not about to be the beginning of a long, ongoing saga that would have changed the path of my family for years to come.

Silence…and a grateful “thank you” to those who supported, believed and prayed, is all that is necessary.