Friday, December 28, 2012

Letting go

One of the hardest lessons I have learned since...well...forever, is that until you let something go, it will eat you alive inside. Regardless of how good you can hold it in, stuff your feelings, or pretend it isn't there, it IS there.

I have been holding in the hurt and confusion in regards to my family members who continue to not invite me to Holiday gatherings, and who have not responded to phone calls or emails. What makes it harder and more hurtful is that both of my siblings ARE invited. I have NO IDEA why. That's the worst part. We never had a falling out, and before my Father's suicide, we spent every holiday together. I received Christmas cards, and we were a support system for each other. Then it just suddenly stopped.

At first I was really angry. How could my FAMILY abandon me when I NEEDED them most. Why wouldn't they communicate why they suddenly wanted nothing to do with me. But the question that still plagues me to this day is, what did I do??

If given the opportunity, I would do anything in my power to fix it. I miss them. So much it hurts. I spent my entire life with these people. I was there for the birth of their children, there when Family passed, and there during some of my fondest memories to date.

Now? Two Thanksgivings and Christmas' later, there is zero contact. No Christmas cards, no Cousins for my kids to play with. It makes me so sad. They are never going to know these people. There are never going to have the memories of big family filled holidays.

It doesn't have to be this way. It isn't what I want. But, I simply cannot spend anymore time crying or hurting about it.

I will continue to think of them fondly and with love from my heart. I just cannot grieve the loss of an entire family anymore. It is too much to bear.

So to my family, who I'm not sure will ever read this, I love you dearly, miss you deeply, and will always wish you well. I hope your Holiday was filled with love and happiness. I hope you are all well and most important happy. I will miss you always.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

That's The Way My Cookie Crumbled

The countdown begins. On 1-19-2013 it will be the 2 year anniversary of the tragic loss of my Daddy to suicide.

On one hand I cannot begin to fathom that it's been almost two years since he chose to take his own life. That 24 months will have gone by without a hug, kiss or conversation with him. We were so close. I kept nothing from him, I trusted him implicitly, and he always knew just what to say. He was the perfect Father, in every way. I have no complaints, regrets, or wishes of something else. I can't even dream up a better Daddy. For 28 years, he made me feel like the most important person in the world to him. He took up every opportunity to tell me how proud he was of me. Surprising me any chance he could with a special little gift or note full of praise and love. He was one of a kind, and I am so lucky to have had such an incredible man as my Father.

On the other hand, I can still remember that day, finding him, the hurt, the pain. It's all still so present.

About a week ago, I was out in the backyard putting the chickens in their coop when I heard a young girl  in a house behind us screaming at the top of her lungs. She kept saying "OH NO! OH NO! OH NO! OH GOD PLEASE NO!" and I went into instant shock. I started trembling uncontrollably, and then the flashbacks came. It was like I was standing over his body. I could smell his cologne, I could see blood everywhere, I could hear myself screaming. It took hours to feel normal again. I tried to watch a movie, I listened to music. I was just stuck. It was awful. (FYI:The girl ended up being fine, her dog was bleeding, but ended up being nothing serious)

Little reminders of what I experienced are everywhere. Just when I think I've overcome my PTSD and anxiety issues, things like that seem to pop up and remind me that I'm not superhuman, and that I have many years of healing ahead of me.

I am proud of my journey, though it has not all been ideal or a true reflection of the person I am, it has molded me and taught me so much. I am still learning and growing, and hope to never stop.

I can say, that I am happy. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, be with anyone else, or have any other life. Burdens aside, life is good....no, life is GREAT! My health is the best it will ever be, my relationship with my Husband is as strong as ever, and my children bless me in such ways that I cannot even find words. I have surrounded myself with incredible women who are selfless, kind, creative and hilarious. I have let go of anger and resentment, and now live a life of joy and peace.

Through everything I've been through these past 2 years, I truly feel like I won the life lottery.

I will take nothing for granted, I will give, I will laugh, I will love, I will make mistakes, I will learn from them, I will continue on a path of good, and I will make it through any obstacle life has in store for me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

22 Months

Today marks 22 months since my Daddy took his own life. 22 months full of heartbreak, sorrow and a journey into discovering myself and my own inner strength.

Looking back, I am still shocked at the things I have seen, heard and experienced. In a weird way though, it has been empowering. Knowing I have been through hell and back and made it out of the darkness. I know there is nothing I cannot handle, and look at my experience as a life lesson learned the very hard way.

That being said, I'm not entirely proud of each day of the last 22 months. I have made mistakes, said things I wish I could take back, and spent entire days crying. But, that was then. That is in the past, like all mistakes made, I am learning from them. I have learned to stick to what I think is right, and not let anyone get in the way of that. I have learned to only surround myself with people who are good and want good things for others.

Most of all, I have regained my happiness. My smile, my passion for creativity, my undying appreciation for kind acts, it all has slowly but surely returned.

Both of the kids are doing incredible in school. Landen is a whiz in Math and Reading and is already showing signs of being ready to skip a grade. Nora is extremely bright as well. She is reading, writing and learning something new each and everyday. She is a total social butterfly, and just LOVES going to school. Both amaze me daily with how independent, well behaved, sensitive, generous and loving they are. I couldn't be prouder of them!

On September 30, I remarried my soul mate. In a very intimate ceremony with just Todd, myself, Landen and Nora and both our Mothers. I got to wear the dress my Mother wore when she married my Father, and Todd got to wear the Gold Aspen leaf tie tack that my Dad wore. It was such a beautiful day!! Todd continues to be my rock. Our relationship and love for each other truly grows stronger by the day. He is my best friend, and I feel so incredibly blessed to have him as my Husband. If he isn't working, he's helping around the house, making the kids laugh, or doing whatever he can to help out. He's....well....the best!!

On October 19, I joined Jamberry Nails as an Independent Consultant. It has turned out to be such a fantastic opportunity! I made back the initial investment in just 2 short weeks and am very close to being promoted to Senior Consultant. I have even earned a bonus for doing so well in my first month!! I really stand behind the product and see a very bright future with the company.

This Thanksgiving, I am really excited to have family over! Last year the Holidays were a blur, and were very difficult and trying on me. I didn't feel up to much and really just went through the motions. This year is far different, I am making a HUGE spread of food and will be enjoying a day having loved ones over. I am counting down until we can go buy a big beautiful tree, and am also looking very forward to Christmas this year.

Soon, I will be turning 30! AHHH! I am looking forward to celebrating it with my fabulous friends and family, and think that 30 is going to be my best year yet!! I am so very optimistic about my future. It's a wonderful feeling :)

To each and everyone of my friends and family that have stood by me through these VERY hard 22 months. THANK YOU! Thank you for sticking by me no matter what, and for loving and supporting me through it all. I couldn't ask for better friends and family, and appreciate each and every day I get on this earth.

Life is good! I am blessed! :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Acceptance

As a parent, I am left with a giant responsibility. To raise another human being, one who will impact the future. One who could CHANGE the future. It's a responsibility I don't take lightly.

I was raised in a household of acceptance. I was taught from early on that EVERYONE deserves kindness and understanding. Regardless of their skin color, their religious beliefs, whom they loved or how much money they had. Racism and ignorance were not tolerated and were thought to be the highest of sins we could commit.

Being a part of several Suicide support groups and Facebook pages and blogs, I have seen my fair share of hurt and sorrow. I read stories everyday about loved ones lost by suicide, photos posted in their memory, and statistics that send chills down my spine.

A person dies by suicide about every 15 minutes in the United States.

Every day, approximately 101 Americans take their own life.


Although most gun owners reportedly keep a firearm in their home for "protection" or "self defense", 83% of gun-related deaths in these homes are the result of suicide.

Firearms are used in more suicides than homicides.


But the most shocking of all are the statistics among our youth.

Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death among those 5-14 years old

Suicide is the THIRD leading cause of death among those 15-24

Seeing photo after photo, story after story of young people deciding that life is just too hard, that their parents don't accept them because of their sexual orientation, that their peers don't accept them. That they feel completely alone. Well, it's just not right. It's sickening and sad and as a parent it makes me so ashamed that there are parents leaving their children without any hope. No child should ever feel so desperate that they take their own life.

If you are a parent, or are thinking of becoming a parent, I beg of you, PLEASE teach your children acceptance. Like it or not, their are men loving men, women loving women and everything in between. It is NOT wrong, and we need to set the example ourselves of how to accept.

The statistics are only getting worse, more and more CHILDREN are turning to suicide. I cannot imagine the torturous guilt a parent would have to endure if their own child committed suicide because they weren't accepted. Could you live with yourself?

Be the change, raise the change, so many children are counting on you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mommy Dearest

It's such an incredible feeling as a child to know that you have a parent that NO MATTER WHAT, will be there to encourage, love and inspire. A built in support system that has only your best intentions in mind. Someone willing to literally die for you. I was fortunate enough to have two parents like this. Yes I lost one of them, but I still have one, and a great one at that. Some people don't have any parents, or have bad parents, etc. So I find myself thanking my lucky stars that I was blessed with two remarkable human beings as parents. They have both molded me into the person I am today, and I have never gone a day wishing I had better or different parents. I owe so much to them.

My Mom has had to endure a lot this past 18 months. Not only having to deal with the grief of losing a spouse, and the Father of her children, in such a tragic way. But, having to watch me suffer as well. As a parent, I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must be. While she is constantly commending me on my strength, what she doesn't realize it was learned from her.

I watched her lose both of her parents. First my Grandmother, whom battled for years with several different types of cancer. My Mom was there every chance she could be, for every surgery, to cook meals when she couldn't, to hold her hand, and to be a constant source of strength for my entire family. Years of scans, and surgeries, and hair falling out, and her in such intense pain. She was always there for my Grandma. It was such an inspiration to see. Then a few years ago when my Grandfather finally succumbed to his long battle with a chronic form of Guillain Barre. She took him to every single doctors appointment, visited him constantly, even spending one night cleaning up his apartment when he lost control of his bowels so he wouldn't feel embarrassed to have someone come clean. Her commitment and love for her parents was such an amazing thing to witness. All of it done with grace, strength and not a single complaint.

To my Mama, one of my personal heroes, I love you and will love you until the day I take my last breath. You continue to inspire and impress me through all odds. I look forward to many more years of great memories with you. I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me. I cherish you so very much and hope you know that!



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Don't Go

In 19 days both of my children will be full-time students. I'm freaking out!! I was so very blessed to be home with Landen until he came with me to work at 15 months. I only had 4 weeks home with Nora, which was not enough time. Though bringing her to work, I saw her every chance I got. So I feel blessed to have never been without contact. So what do I do now that I know they are going to be gone? Sign up for the PTO, and will be helping both of their teachers in the classroom, and will take any chance I can to see them. Last year, I was in no shape mentally or physically to handle much, and his teacher feared if I was present in the classroom that he might use it as a crutch. She was spot on, as he became one of her best students. So, it helps ease my anxiety knowing that Nora will have the same teacher.

I keep thinking about how adorable it will be to have Landen just one grade above her. He will walk her to the playground each morning, and then to the parent pick up area each afternoon. He is very protective of her, and I have no doubts about him being the best big brother ever.

I get sad when I think about another milestone that my Daddy won't be around to see. He lived and breathed  for them. The second he got home to the second he went to bed was all about them. So I know that he would be so proud. Correction. HE IS PROUD!

Tomorrow marks 18 months to the day that he took his life.

18 months that have been the hardest of my life, but they have brought about the most positive changes in my life.

Our family is back together and thriving. My love for my children has grown stronger than I ever thought possible. We have an incredible home that is bursting from the seems with love and happiness. I have said goodbye to people that I used to love dearly, knowing that I deserve better. I have loved, and lost, and learned how to LIVE again. It's refreshing and I now look forward to each and every moment I have to LIVE.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lessons Learned

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. These two statements are two things I know to always be true.

I am not perfect, and I've made mistakes, plenty of them, but I have grown to learn from them. That is why I am thankful for the bad things that happen. It is because of the bad things, the hard times, the struggles that make the good times so much sweeter.

Take for instance finding my Father after he shot himself. This has been the struggle that has shaped the person I am today. Also, my struggles with depression, with fair weathered friends, and my health. All things that have shown me that if it wasn't for the bad, the good wouldn't be as GREAT!!

I am at a point in my life where I can breath again. Where I see things clearly and where I am actually happy. I no longer dwell on things that are out of my control. The serenity prayer is something I recite to myself often these days. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference"
I can change the people I CHOOSE to have in my life, I can change the attitude I take to the negative in life, but I cannot change the fact that I have an incurable auto immune disease, or the fact that my Daddy is gone. So why let the negative win? I have control over that, and it's become such a liberating experience.

Todd is loving his new position on the Managerial Team, a very well deserved promotion! I couldn't be prouder of him! Our relationship seems to grow stronger and stronger by the day, and I am so very thankful to have such a loving and helpful partner in life.

I have been really enjoying having both of the kids home for the summer. We've had play dates, and special outings, along with early morning trips to the park. We do movie days, crafts, build forts and anything else our imaginations come up with. I am so extremely blessed to have such incredible children.

As far as me, I am working on a new blog that will highlight my love for interior design. I am signed up to volunteer at the kids school as well as a local food shelter. I have found some really incredible local friends who share my passion for creativity and some whom have had similar life struggles. I have mended broken relationships, and have become grateful for those in our lives that continue to lift us up and support us through thick and thin. I enjoy being more social and attending get togethers often and hanging out with such wonderful women.

I am so looking forward to the future! The past is gone, the future is what I hold hope for! All my love!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday Nora Rose

5 years ago I gave birth to the little beauty you see in the collage above. At 7lbs and 11oz, with blonde hair and blue eyes, I was blessed with the most incredible little girl. A little girl full of more personality than her little body should contain. She was born a performer. Pretending to sleep when she was just a few months old to dancing before she could run, to creating different characters that she becomes at any moment, to singing at the top of her lungs anytime a song is on. I will be very surprised if she doesn't pursue a career performing. Often times, she will come downstairs with different posture, a different voice and demanding we call her by the name of whatever character she has become. My favorite being Charley, the old man who walks with a cane and talks like he has no teeth. She will hunch her back like the Hunchback of Notre Dam, walk like she's about 80 years old (with the assistance of a pretend cane) and curl her lips over her teeth and speak in a geriatric fashion. Another one character she likes to portray is Felicity. She comes down with all of her play jewelry on, a purse with a little dog in it and whip her hair around as she talks like she's a 14 year old girl who must have been raised in Beverly Hills. It's hilarious to watch, except when we found out recently that she can command tears and pretend cry within seconds. That is when we really realized how committed to the craft she is, at only 5 years young!

I know everyone always says that it goes to fast, but seriously, it does! I just cannot believe she is 5. Happy Birthday Nora Rose. I cannot wait to see what the next 5 years brings.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy Father's Day 2.0

Yesterday marked the second Father's Day without my Daddy. I went into the day with no anxiety or feelings of sadness. I was really looking forward to celebrating the many years I did have with my Daddy, and more importantly, celebrating the amazing Father of my own children.

The day started out rocky. When I woke up, Todd was already awake and out on the back porch on the phone. He looked upset, really upset, and looking at him so upset opened my floodgates of emotion. I stood there looking at him through the sliding glass door for a few moments, before I decided to go into the bathroom to compose myself. I didn't want to greet him on Father's Day sobbing. Not exactly the Father's Day greeting I had imagined. Haha.

I blew my nose, wiped my eyes and regained my sanity. When he came inside I greeted him with a warm hug and kiss and told him Happy Father's Day.

The rest of the morning was spent doing everything in my power to cheer him up. He wasn't hungry, so I made some breakfast potatoes instead of the big breakfast spread I had envisioned. I listened and talked to him about the bad news that he got that had upset him, and eventually the day started to turn around. Dinner I think was what put him over the top. Or that is what my inner Martha Stewart is telling me anyway...

When I woke up this morning, realizing I overcame my emotional roller coaster of a day, and did a darn good job of making Todd happy, I felt one simple emotion. HAPPY!

I am so very thankful that my children have such an incredible Father. One that is there every night to tuck them in, to hold their hand, wipe their tears, and to be a constant source of love. It has almost been 16 years since Todd first became and Father, and I know he's had hurtles to overcome, but he is without a doubt one of the best Father's I have ever been around.

He deserves more than just a day of recognition!

To Todd, the love of my life, thank you for just being you! I look forward to a lifetime of ways to show my appreciation for all that you do for us. Happy Father's Day Boo. I wuv you wots!

Happy Father's Day

Monday, May 21, 2012

A day in the life of me?

A day in my life. This used to be something I could explain easily.

I'd wake up, change a diaper or two, make breakfast, get the kids ready, get myself ready, go to work, come home, feed kids, change more diapers, give baths, sleep. Rinse and Repeat. Life was a bit more simple then.

That was before my Crohn's Disease diagnosis, that was before my separation, back together, separation, divorce. That was before I started having severe pain on a daily basis. That was before my Father ended his life.

Now, I am home with my "lovie" Nora Rose. I enjoy everyday with her, because she is just so fantastically wonderful to be around. She is funny, and silly, and smart, and kind, and spoiled. But our time together is something I know I will cherish forever. Then when Landen returns from school, it's time for homework, and dinner and showers and bed. Thankfully I have Todd, who is such an immense help. He has stepped up, and fills in anytime he can.

If you know me well, you know when you ask me how I am, I will usually say "I'm okay thanks, how are you?" I don't want to be the subject. I'm afraid to let ANYONE inside 100%. I don't want Todd to know how sick I am because I fear that it will stress him out too much. So I hold in the pain, I push through. But I am only able to do that for so long. I don't want my Mom to have to hear how much it KILLS me that my Family is absent now, because I don't want her to stress about it. I internalize. Everything. I hold in the pain, I hold in the grief, I hold in the sadness, I try my damnedest to be the best I can be when I feel like crap.

The problem with internalizing is that with my Crohn's, even if I'm trying to mask the pain or stress, it doesn't allow me a pass. The stress, the pain, it internalizes. Which in return turns into more pain, more nausea, more inflammation. I have really been trying to be better about not internalizing. Sharing my true feelings with my friends and loved ones that are in my life. You know what? It's helping. But, I still find myself holding back. Not wanting to over stress out anyone else with my crap knowing that they have their own crap.

So a day when my Crohn's is bad, which isn't as often as it once was thankfully, is a day full of counting steps, thinking about way to not have to move so it hurts less. Being close to a bathroom. Trying to hydrate myself enough that I don't dehydrate, which happens so quickly since I lose more that I can consume. It's a constant battle that I've learned to deal with. It is what it is. I cannot change my Crohn's, there is no cure, but I am certainly not going to let it rule my life. So I take the bad days as they come, and enjoy the good ones. That is really all I CAN do.

What I think most people don't understand about everyday since my Dad took his life, is that I have a constant reminder of that day with me ALWAYS. There are triggers everywhere, there are reminders everywhere. I cannot hide from my grief. It is now something I will carry with me. I have a constant picture of the image of him lying in the kiddie pool. I have a constant reminder of dropping to my knees screaming. I have a constant reminder of the note he left. 16 months later and that day is still as clear as like it happened just yesterday.

It is this constant reminder that keeps me so aware of what happened. No matter how much time has past. When you find the most important Man in your life after he's shot himself with a shotgun. When you have to explain to your children where their Papa is. When you have to have your Father handed to you in a cardboard box.

It just doesn't leave. It doesn't go away. I just have learned to deal with it.

I am so thankful for the wonderful people in my life that lift me up, that keep me going. That give me the strength each day to get out of bed and face the day. Most of all my children, Todd and my Mother. I continue to enjoy my life, because bad things aside, I have a pretty fantastic life. I am madly, deeply in love with the Father of my children, and have the greatest children I could ever hope for.

I continue to look forward to the future, watching my children grow (which is happening WAAY to fast) falling in deeper love with Todd, and enjoying any moment I can.



Monday, May 7, 2012

Then and Now

Looking back at the past 16 Months, my mind becomes flooded with some of the worst memories I carry to date. But at the same time, it brings forth such a sense of accomplishment. Knowing I have made it past these horrible moments gives me strength. A strength that has come with some negative and unwanted aftermath, but a undying strength it is non-the-less.

16 months ago I was broken, depressed, and in total shock. The days, weeks, and months flew by as I stood still. Frozen in the moment I found him. That image was all that I could see. I was living in a nightmare and had no idea how to wake myself up. I went through the motions, I stayed present for my children, but I was stuck in a dark place feeling like I would never see light again. As the months continued to go by, I painted, I decorated, I cooked, I cleaned, I tried to regain some of my old life back. No matter what I did, I was still stuck in that day, that moment when my whole life stopped.

That was then.

Now? Now, I am moving, I am laughing, I am LOVING, and most importantly, I am HAPPY. I can see all the blessings I have, I can enjoy life, I feel more like ME.

If I went back and tried to convince myself that I'd be where I am now just 16 months after that horrible day. There is no way I could.

Yet here I am. Happy. Who of thunk it! :)

My children are blissfully happy. They are thriving, and as a parent, that is all I could ever hope for. Landen continues to excel at school, Nora is getting brighter and brighter as the days pass. They are both polite, and kind and giving and extend that to anyone they come in contact with. I couldn't be prouder of both of them.

Todd and I are also blissfully happy. We have been through so much together, and have some how made it out on top. The love I hold for him is so unbelievably deep. He really does complete my fairy-tale.

I have made strides in getting out and doing more outside of the house as well. I have met some of the most fantastic women out here in Maricopa. Women that push me to be better, and make me proud to be considered their friend. I value these friendships greatly, and am thankful for having people I know I can always count on to lift me up.

I look back at then, and then realize where I am NOW.

Now, I am happy. Happier than I thought I could ever be!

If you are stuck in THEN, feeling like a NOW is never possible. It is! Be kind to yourself, give yourself all of the time you need to get to now. There is no timeline, no need to feel like you should be somewhere you aren't. Allow yourself time to grieve, time to cry, time to heal. You will get to now, that I promise you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Lyrics to My Love Story

When I think of my Hubby, my soul mate, my best friend, I am overwhelmed with joyful thoughts and feelings. To this day, he still looks at me the same way he did when we first started dating. He still gives me butterflies, I still find him so ridiculously handsome. I am just so madly in love with him.

Our love story hasn't been perfect, we've been through some really tough times. Together, separate and just about everything in-between. Through every obstacle we have overcome, we are stronger than ever. More importantly, we are happy! So blissfully happy at that. Our children, our house, our time as a family, it's everything I ever hoped it would be.

Music is something that I hold very dear to my heart. It can bring me out of a bad mood, it can motivate me when nothing else can. So when I think of my love, I think of a few songs. Songs that bring an instant smile to my face because they remind me of Todd.

At Last - Etta James Our wedding song. It always puts a smile on my face and reminds me of our magical day.

Stuck Like Glue - Sugarland

Some days I don't feel like trying
Some days you know I wanna just give up

When it doesn't matter who's right
Fight about it all night
Had enough, you give me that look
I'm sorry baby let's make up

You do that thing that makes me laugh
And just like that

There you go making my heart beat again
Heart beat again, heart beat again
There you go making me feel like a kid
Won't you do it, do it one time?



Absolutely no one who knows me better
No one that can make me feel so good
How did we stay so long together?
Everybody, everybody said we never would

And just when I
Start to think they're right
The love has died

There you go making my heart beat again



The last and most influential song explains our love story to a T! It has become a sort of Anthem for our re-connection and always reminds me of how far we have come.

Bless the Broken Road - Rascall Flats 

I set out on a narrow way, many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
Yes He did

I think about the years I spent, just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost, and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there, you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

But now I'm just rolling home into my lover's arms
This much I know is true

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think everyone has these songs, written lyrics added to beautiful melodies that create a moment within us. Reminding us of loves lost, loves gained, and all of the beauty that life has to offer. I am so thankful that through everything Todd and I have been through that we are better than ever, happier than either of us thought we could be. It's magical, and one of the many blessings getting me through all of the hard times.

I look so forward to what tomorrow, next week, and the rest of our lives has in store for us. Thank you for blessing me with two perfect children and two incredible step-sons. Thank you for standing beside me in the darkest days of my life. Thank you for being so supportive and for just being YOU! I love and adore you. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

PTSD

I will be the first to admit that prior to my own experiences with PTSD, I was unaware and totally uneducated on what it really was. Like most, I thought it was only something that War Veterans experienced from the trauma of seeing people killed. So when I was diagnosed with severe PTSD after my Father's suicide, I didn't take it seriously. How could I possibly put myself in the same arena as the Veterans? I ignored it completely.

Soon, after landing in the Emergency Room several times due to panic attacks, I started looking deeper into PTSD. When I finally brought it up to my Therapist, she shined a bright light on the whole issue.

She asked me how I thought that seeing my Father after he shot himself in the head with a shotgun was any less traumatic. She explained that my constant night terrors and uncontrollable anxiety was all because of the trauma I experienced that day.

I still didn't take it serious, especially when anyone I brought it up to that wasn't a Mental Health Professional, seemed to not take it seriously.

After finding my Daddy, I was suffering greatly with the after effects of PTSD. I was in constant fear. Fear of someone breaking in my house or causing me harm, I was in constant fear of finding another piece of my Father's skull, constant fear of finding more blood splatters on the walls outside. I woke up every single night soaked in sweat, reliving what I found in graphic detail. No matter what I did, it consumed me.

I still suffer, I still feel unsafe when Todd isn't here. If the doorbell rings and I am not expecting someone, or my dogs start barking, I go into a state of panic. Logically, I know I am safe, but I still fight with these anxieties. Thankfully the night terrors aren't daily anymore, but the ability to flashback to the moment I found him is still so apparent.

There is such a stigma around Mental Health issues, and it saddens me. So many people are suffering, and aren't getting help because they do not want to be considered "crazy" or "unstable". These people then go untreated and are at a much higher risk of suicide.

PTSD, saying goodbye to people you used to count on, night terrors, uncontrollable anxiety....just a few of the side effects of the aftermath of suicide.

Save your loved ones from the constant heartache, take a deep breath, and talk to someone! Your life is so precious, and there is SOMEONE who still wants you here!! Ignore the stigma, make an appointment and TALK to ANYONE who will listen. It really does get better!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stamps

In life there are moments that we will never forget, dates that will forever be immortalized within us. These dates are reminders of where we have been and sometimes even what we have overcome.

Some dates are bitter-sweet reminders, some take us back to some of our happiest moments.

I like to consider these dates as stamps in our life passport.

I started thinking of some of my happiest stamps:

June 25, 2005, after 36 hours of labor, 5 hours of pushing, my 9lb 8oz baby boy was born. The moment they laid him on my chest was the happiest moment of my life. I sobbed and sobbed tears of pure and immense joy. I couldn't stop looking at him, touching him, admiring every single inch of his chunky body. He was PERFECT! 


March 25, 2006, I put on my dream Wedding gown, walked down the isle with my Father on my arm, and Married my soul mate. It was a beautiful day full of so much love.

June 20, 2007, after 13 hours of labor and 15 minutes of pushing, my 7lb 11oz baby girl was born. My toe-headed princess was finally here! Being the youngest and only girl for her Daddy, she was such a welcomed blessing to our family.

March 28, 2011, we got the keys to our first home. After searching and searching for the perfect floor plan, we found the one. The home we would raise our kids in, the home we would grow old in.


Sadly, all of my date stamps can't be happy memories, and I will forever be reminded of the worst stamp in my life passport.

January 19, 2011, the day I found my Daddy after he took his own life.

Although, I cannot erase this entry, I can and do now consider it something I have overcome. This date, this stamp, didn't and will not keep me from adding as many happy stamps as I can.

I look forward to the lifetime of happy stamps that are in my future! You should too!!


Monday, March 26, 2012

GREAT day

If I could go back in time and talk to myself days, weeks, or even months after my Father decided to take his own life, I know I wouldn't believe that a great day is even possible. Not when all I could think about was that day. Not when I was sure that life was out to get me. How could a good day, let alone  a great day happen when I found my Daddy after he shot himself? I would laugh at myself and think I was crazy.

Yet here I am, having not a bad day, not a good day, but a great day!

My guest blog for Second Firsts was posted this morning and I have been receiving really wonderful feedback all day. My blog has received over 300 views today alone. It has been such a humbling experience knowing my story is out there for so many people to see. I feel so driven to share my journey with others in hopes of changing and saving lives.

In addition, my Son came home today with his report card full of excelling marks, and a letter informing us that he is receiving another Academic Award this Wednesday.

Good?

Nah....


GREAT!!!


So for those of you reading that are back where I was, believing a great day isn't possible, it is! You can overcome your grief, you can experience happy times again, and you can consider that my promise to you. Hold on to this promise, because someday when that great day happens...I hope to be able to tell you "I told you so!"


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

14 Month Mark

Yesterday marked the 14th month since my Daddy's suicide. 14 months!? How is that even possible!?

It's weird how 1-19-11 seems like it was just yesterday. It's all still so fresh in my mind. I could draw descriptive  images it's so clear. I could write out the entire note he left me, I can see the looks on my children's faces when I made them go into their room. I can close my eyes and swear I am right there next to his body.

14 months after the fact, and I still struggle daily with these reminders.

I work hard each day to move on, to turn this negative into a positive, to become a better person because of it. I do my best to focus on the positive, to appreciate what I do have, but it is easier said than done sadly.

As hard as I do try, these thoughts, and images find a way into my thoughts each day. There is no escaping it. So I've learned to deal with it, I've learned to cry and then move on. I've learned to overcome this, and am now stronger than I ever thought I could be.

I'd be lying if I said I'm over it, I am far from that, but I no longer allow it to control me. Some days are easier than others, some are harder and full of more heartache. But I always find a way to overcome. Why? I am too damn strong to let it defeat me. I have made it through the hardest year of my life, and somehow I am still able to appreciate the good.

I am finally able to look at a photo of my Daddy without losing it. I'm able to look at his face and smile, remembering the incredible Father I was so lucky to have for 28 years. I am able to remember all of the wonderful memories we shared. Things that used to be clouded by the image of him after he shot himself.

I consider all of these things progress. Which is all I can hope for at this point.

I have made it through the last 14 months, nothing can stop me now! :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I AM...

One of the things I've struggled with since losing my Daddy to suicide, is not letting it define me.

I am Whitney, and I lost my Father to Suicide on January 19, 2011.

This is who I have been since that day, but it is not who I really am.

I am...

A mother of 4 amazingly perfect kids. My first born Landen Douglas (bottom left) is 6 years old, my Daughter Nora Rose (top right) is 4 years old, and my Step-sons Calvin (bottom right) and Fyodor (bottom left) are 15 and 12.

A Wifey to my soul mate. We've been through the hardest of times together, and I still hold such deep love for him. He completes me, and still manages to give me butterflies. I mean come on! Look at my handsome hubby!!



A Daughter to an incredible Mother. We have always been close, and she is ALWAYS there for me and our family.

An Animal Lover. In our house, we have a mini zoo. No seriously! 2 dogs, 2 cats, 4 chickens and a fish. :)



A creative force to be reckoned with!! I am VERY passionate about design and the arts! My favorites include Graphic Design, Interior Design. Photography and Dance. 






I am a lot of things. All of them defining me and who I am as a person. Although I am now considered a Suicide Survivor, I am so much more!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Perspective

I get asked often how I deal with losing my Dad to suicide, how I deal with what I saw when I found him after he shot himself. My own Mother has told me several times "I'd be locked up, in a mental institution, I just don't know how you do it"

This is a question that  I just haven't had an answer to. That is until yesterday, while laying sick on the couch, it came to me! Miraculous? Maybe.... Anyway, I was upset at my state of health and was feeling very inadequate because I simply cannot do much. I started telling myself (silently of course!) that maybe I am not healthy, but I am alive, maybe I cannot do much today, but looking around I can see all that I have done to create a beautiful home for my family. It just went on from there. Before I knew it, I felt better, knowing that my health is  something I cannot change, but I can overcome it. It's all about perspective! Putting your mind in the right place. Reminding yourself that though things are tough, there is always something to be thankful for.

I have spent enough countless hours crying over people or situations in my life that I merely cannot control. This applies to all relationships in my life. Family and friends. I cannot force someone to want to be a part of my life, and I cannot force myself to trust those who have broken my trust. So I have chosen instead to just move on, to embrace those around me that I can trust and that choose to be a part of our lives. Although I have grieved the loss of these people, I will continue to wish good things for them. That is all I can do.

So here I sit, sick and unable to do much. But I can look over to the right and see my beautiful little girl who lights up as I glance over at her. I can then look up and see photos of my gorgeous son, cards from my step-son and Mom, love notes from Todd and a picture of my Daddy. All tokens of the loved shared between all the people in my life that lift me up, and keep me going.

So I challenge all of you. The next time you find yourself stressed, upset, depressed, etc, try to change your perspective. Try to focus on the good things in your life, look around and find those things that make you thankful.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Spoon Theory


This was posted by a friend on Facebook today and it really moved me. Reading it made me realize how right she is about these spoons. This theory applies to my life in many ways. Having Crohn's Disease, a non-exsistant immune system, and Fybromyalgia makes everyday a challenge. Please take a moment to read this article and maybe it might help better explain my own situation to my friends and family. 


The Spoon Theory

by Christine Miserandino www.butyoudontlooksick.com

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.
As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?
I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.
As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.
At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.
I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.
Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.
She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?
I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.
I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.
I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.
We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.
When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.
I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”
Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.
After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”
Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Poetic Justice

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy, why did you leave me?
Why couldn't you stay?

I'd do anything to hug you,
anything to see your face.

You mean the world to me still,
you always knew just what to say.

To calm your little girl,
and bring a smile to my face.

I will always love you,
that will never change.

I'm just a little blue,
and feeling extra sad today.

For I cannot hug you,
I cannot feel your grace.

I am left instead with flashes of blood,
and what was left of your face.

Please help keep me strong,
help take my pain away.

I am no longer whole,
just not myself today.

For now I am broken,
and learning to live life that way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A few days ago I received a message from someone who reads my blog. The message started out like this (it is edited to protect the identity of the reader):

"I have been meaning to get online and send you a thank you! While you probably don't realize this.you saved my ******'s life! All of your posts about depression and anxiety made me take a step back and talk to ****** about what appeared to be *** sinking into the darkness of depression."



The follower went on to explain that their loved one was exhibiting some of the warning signs I saw in my Daddy. The reader decided to sit their loved one down and get to the bottom of it. The readers loved one had been contemplating suicide.Thankfully, because the reader was able to see the warning signs in their loved one, this individual is alive and on the road to recovery! 

I didn't make it past the second paragraph of the readers message. I was sobbing.

I have only asked my Daddy for one thing since he left. (I talk to him every night) That through the darkness of losing my Daddy to suicide, that I could reach just one person. Save just one life.

I plan to continue to reach out to others, I have submitted myself to be a speaker (touring Jr. and Senior Highs in AZ) reaching out to AZ youth about bullying and suicide. I will also be a guest blogger for Wings of Hope

I'd like to share a few facts and statistics that might shock you. Educate yourself on suicide. It's a MUCH bigger problem than you may think.

Between 1952 and 1995, suicide in young adults nearly tripled. 

For young people aged 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death. (Homicide is 15th!)

Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year.

1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.

An average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. (CDC, AAS)

There are twice as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.

Over half of all suicides are completed with a firearm.

80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.

The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression.

There are four male suicides for every female suicide. (CDC, AAS)

Research has shown medications and therapy to be effective suicide prevention.

Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.


Thank you to the reader for sharing your story with me. I am humbled and grateful that my experience helped save a life!!

Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of my Daddy's death. I know it will not be an easy day, but it will be one more day that I can possibly save a life, one more day that I can see the faces of my beautiful children, one more day that I will not regret! One day at a time!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Birthday. Happy Optional.

Today is my 29th Birthday. A day I should be celebrating another year, happy to be alive and excited to have a special day to myself. If only...

Today I have spent far more time crying and being upset than being "happy". It's really annoying, and getting in the way of my Happy Birthday

No it's not because of the impending 30 year mark that I will have to own up to next year. Although it does put a "dun dun dun" sound in my head.

Last year on my 28th Birthday, my Daddy (whom I was living with at the time) forgot my Birthday completely. I answered phone calls from people wishing me a Happy Birthday, I got all dressed up to go out to dinner (as was a yearly tradition on our Birthdays) with my family, and he just laid on the couch watching TV. My Mom even asked him if he was coming, to which he replied "no thank you". I thought it was odd that he didn't remember, considering he always made a big deal out of it. I didn't realize then why he wasn't present that day.

He had already started planning his demise.

The blank look on his face that day, it is haunting me today. I can literally see his face in my head. It's an image that is leaving me an emotional wreck today. He knew then that he was going to soon take his own life.

Thankfully my Mom and friend Stephanie are taking me out to lunch today. If it weren't for them, I'd be spending the entire day crying alone.

It's my Birthday, and I'll cry if I want to!!