I won’t be home for Christmas

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Christmas isn’t about commercialism (as companies may hype it up to be).
Christmas isn’t about the alcohol (as alcohol companies may try to play it up in advertisements).
Christmas isn’t about the food (even though food is an important aspect of life).
Christmas is about love, support, friends and family.

So while I have that with Cee, my parents and sister will not be a part of Christmas this year. This year will be the first year that I’ve not gone home to be a part of our nuclear family. Now that I have Cee in the kids, Christmas has changed. Christmas is about the kids. Christmas for adults is more about having love and support and a fun time watching the kids play during a magical season that comes just once a year.

My parents don’t quite seem to see eye to eye with me on this one. Since before I could remember, Christmas has been about the kids When that was me, I was thrilled to be able to unwrap something in front of the Christmas tree that my dad had sought out and harvested himself.

As the years have passed and I have grown older, my wants and wishes have changed from material things (which though still nice), to things that cannot be bought. I want love, support, kindness and acceptance. Some of those things I have realized the past few years that my parents are not able to give. They say they love me but I do not feel it in my heart. Love that is placed under condition and with the expectation that material goods can be given as love instead of kindness and things from the heart seems cold and hard.

A few days ago, I received a courier package from them. Inside a card for me were several gift certificates to several stores. While they were nice, I felt anger. I had told my parents that I wanted to go to therapy with them so we could work out our issues and get rid of the toxic relationship that still sweeps between us. Instead I was given gift cards and no more mention of therapy. This saddens me. My friends tell me I should give them an ultimatum of “go to therapy with me or don’t contact me at all” kind of deal. That seems so harsh to say to someone who brought you into the world and raised you. Yes they raised me, but it still doesn’t give them the right to treat me, or Cee the way that they do and still expect me to be there for them. I could care less about material goods. If I want something that bad, I will go out and buy the friggin thing myself.

I am deeply hurt. A part of me is missing. There is a void in my chest. I guess it’s taken years but this past year, I’ve realized that my parents can’t give me the type of love I need to receive. I can’t seem to move on because they keep opening up old wounds and don’t try to change the way that they view/say things. The depressions and hurt and anger I feel after speaking with them leave me crying in bed for hours. This affects Cee and the kids and has to stop.

This Christmas will be different. I will not have turkey dinner with my blood family the night of Christmas eve or unwrap presents with them. I will not have Danish smorgasbord Christmas morning. Instead I will be with my chosen family watching the kids gleefully unwrap their gifts. I will focus on their beautiful smiles and warm laughter.

I have to somehow accept what I will do if my parents don’t accept therapy. I plan on sending a photo album of my life from when i was young up until now to my parents since they really do not know me. Every time I’ve tried to allow them to get to know me I get criticism or passive aggressive back stabs and comments. Cutting them out of my life, while harsh is something I may have to do for my own mental health. I can’t keep crying and feeling a void in my chest every time I converse with them because they can’t love me like I just want to be loved. That may be a soon approaching reality. For this year, I won’t be home for Christmas. I will be forging a new path in the snow.

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How to love and keep her

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Over the past year, Cee and I have been through a lot of ups and downs. We’ve learned a lot about each other and ourselves through our experiences. As a couple in one year, we’ve faced two car accidents, my depressions, and her unknown health diagnosis. It hasn’t always been bad though. Our highlights have included going to Mexico, spending a beautiful summer together and getting engaged.

On this post I want to share some things I’ve learned from our experiences and our relationship that may help readers with their relationships. These points may not all apply to you and they are in no particular order.

1. Love her as she is 

You fell in love with her as she was. Maybe there’s points about her you aren’t as fond of (like impulsive speech , which is an ongoing fault of  mine), but you don’t stop loving her. She is a human being,  the woman you fell in love with because of her strong,  beautiful  spirit. Remember to love her because she isn’t perfect not because of an idea you have in your mind. It’s hard at times to remember this point when you’re staring at one another with raised voices about some disagreement or personality clash, but you have to remember it. It’s important.

2. Remind her she’s beautiful 

Tell her she’s beautiful in the morning just as she’s waking up. Tell her she’s beautiful when she’s PMSing. Tell her she’s beautiful with and without makeup on. Just remind her that she’s beautiful often. Women have enough issues with body image society places on us. She will love and appreciate it, but be genuine of course.

3. Surprise her

Keep the love alive. Make her something special if you’re creatively inclined. Buy her little trinkets if you aren’t creative. I bought a wooden box from Michaels and painted a Gerber daisy on it. She loved it. She thought it was the sweetest thing. Now we keep our memories and little notes we pass each other in it.

4. Be present

This is one thing I still struggle with. I’m not sure if this is a personality or ADHD issue but I still struggle with it. I have to force my mind on task. This is easier to do when I have taken my ADHD medication but I find distractions still linger. Mindfulness is tougher to learn than I thought. But with awareness comes knowledge of my faults. Being present in each moment is an important skill to learn. When you are present with one another you are fully aware and engaged with one another in what they are saying, and feeling.

5. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate!

Talk about everything. If she is your love, you should be able to talk about everything under the sun. You may not agree on some things but you still have to communicate. Talk about your likes, dislikes, fantasies, dreams, what happened at work, your black sheep position in your family tree, how your coworker was a dick today, or how supportive your friends are. Don’t shut down and refuse to talk. Communication is one of the pillars holding up your relationship, don’t stop communicating.

6. Appreciate little moments

Life is made up of a long strand of moments we call memories. Find joy in the sorrowful moments.  Appreciate and be grateful you have each other. Appreciate times you snuggle and stroke her hair. Appreciate the times you laugh out loud. Appreciate making up after a disagreement or fight. Appreciate the bad times so that you can reel in happiness during the great times. You only get some chances once. Appreciate them.

7. Show interest in her interests

I’ll never forget the times when Cee showed interest in my photography and artistic side, I was thrilled. She understood that art was a big part of me and my life. She wanted to show me that I was welcome in her home (when I uhauled), by setting the garage up into a creative space for me and the girls. I have an area for my paints, and my easel.

I do my best to show my interests in her by encouraging her to run the local youth group and cooking (which she loves to do ). I also encouraged her to go back to school for something she feels will make a rewarding career.

8. Trust your partner

I learned this one the hard way. There was a time when I got a bad vibe and went through Cee’s phone. She hadn’t had a lock on it. I discovered some texts from an ex and felt jaded about it without even bringing it up till days later. Instead of just letting go and trying to trust her by not going through her private messages, I broke our trust temporarily which hurt our relationship for a bit. This is where communication comes in. Speak honestly and openly using “I feel” statements when discussing your feelings about love and trust. You’ll both feel better knowing you discussed things.

9. Accept her friends

Her friends may not be the usual types of people you would spend time with had you not met her. You may not agree with them at times but you have to put aside your views sometimes. If her friends get along with you and vice versa your relationship will sail more smoothly.

10. Compromise 

Sometimes you will have to compromise even when you feel you are right in your views and feelings and your partner is not. It’s crap sometimes but there will be times you have to compromise on things you initially refused to compromise on. Just let it go, apologize if need be and communicate. I can’t stress communication enough.

Just try to remember these points and learn from your mistakes. I hope these points will be some of the keys to helping you with your relationship.

The sky is falling

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I haven’t posted in a long time. Life gets busy when you’re busy trying to be a parent, a partner, a lover (not a fighter), a photographer, and someone who tries to do the right thing.

Firstly, I have some expected good/relieving news. Cee and I are engaged! It started out with Cee telling me that she had a surprise for me midway through a week in October. I had a feeling that surprise might have been an engagement ring seeing as our first year anniversary together was fast approaching on the horizon. I had no one to look after the youngest child, so I had to let her tag along with me when I went to the jewelers. Cee and I had already picked out the ring that she wanted months earlier so I knew exactly what to pick. In eager excitement, I bought the ring, had it shined up and kept it in the box. I told the youngest that she’d have to keep a secret until I asked her mom to marry me.

That night at dinner, the youngest blurted out, “We went ring shopping. She bought you a ring,” to Cee. I was so upset. I realized my mistake in taking her ring shopping with me but I hadn’t really had another opportunity to get the ring before our anniversary, so I’d had no choice really.

Cee took it well and smiled and tried to calm me down, telling me “She’s only 6.” I recognized that that was true and that there were worse things that could have been blurted out. This was good news that needed to be shared. So on our anniversary, Cee surprised me with several gifts and cards. She had spent a day making a scrap book of all our memories of a year together with pictures and quotes that she’d made with the oldest child. Tears started falling as I cried happy tears while opening it. It made me so happy that she’d spent time and thought and put it into a book of memories of our year together.

At the end of the gifts, she pulled out a small ring box, and proposed to me. I reached in return to grab the ring box I’d bought for her. We both slid each other’s rings on one another. I bought Cee a sapphire surrounded in diamonds set in white gold. I have a green Peridot set in silver. They both suit us individually so well.

I couldn’t have been happier. I didn’t want the night to end as we dined at the Italian eatery sharing stories and memories of our year together.

Secondly, there is some other good/relieving news about my scattered thinking. I have been seeing my doctor for a while telling him my symptoms, as has Cee. I advocated on going to get tested to see if I qualified for a diagnosis to explain my scattered thinking, disorganization, impulsivity and inattention. I was referred to a psychologist who put me through a slew of tests. I took a personality assessment, an impulsivity computer test, an IQ test and some memory tests. Cee was to fill out an assessment on my impulsivity and scattered mind. I scored quite high on those both by a self assessment and by hers. I scored high on the impulsivity (stupid X on the screen!) test. I scored 115 on the IQ test but scored low in working memory and processing speed.

Basically the tests indicated that I have Adult ADHD-PI which means that I have Inattentive ADHD. I’ve had these symptoms all my life, but it’s only been the last few years that I’ve realized that they have been getting in the way of living to my fullest potential. So now that I’ve been diagnosed, I’ve felt relief knowing I’m not stupid, just that i’m wired differently. I’ve started treatment and my home and work life have definitely improved now that I can be more present.

Now… the bad news. The sky has started to darken and it has nothing to do with the winter season. I am afraid that the love story that is being written by the universe has started to enter a darker period (even if only temporarily).

A month ago, Cee has started to develop some strange symptoms. She’d had some fuzzy spots start to appear and darken her vision in her right eye. She hadn’t told me for fear that I’d (possibly rightfully so), freak out. When she finally told me, I told her to get to the doctor immediately. The next day while I was at work the doctor immediately referred her to an ophthalmologist, someone who specializes in eye health. By the weekend of that first week, Cee had to go to the hospital every day for three consecutive days to get IV steroids pumped through her body in an effort to regain her sight. Her diagnosis was optic neuritis which means that the myelin sheath around the optic nerve in the eye has been eaten away and/or isn’t firing properly. Optic neuritis is one of the first possible symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

I had to watch Cee take oral Prednisone (steroids) after her three days of IV steroids were over. She walked around with pitting edema (fluid filled feet, legs, and hips). It looked so painful. She didn’t feel beautiful anymore. That was so hard to see.

Her symptoms seemed to get better with her vision returning partially in her right eye. About a week ago she started experiencing some numbness in her right side along with migraine headaches. She had to go to emerg and listen to a doctor talk about MS, and testing that they would likely do. She has to go for an MRI soon to see if there are any visible lesions on her brain and spinal cord. She was prescribed an old antidepressant that also blocks nerve pain because tylenol and advil didn’t even touch the migraine headaches.

Cee’s friends have been great. They have loved and supported us unconditionally. My few friends seem few and far between. It seems like they’re tired of hearing bad news so they simply turn their phones off if I need to vent or need some love and support. Perhaps the age gap between Cee’s friends and mine is too great. Maybe friends my age are too busy living their happier lives while Cee and I face a dark cloud upon the horizon. I will do my best to stuff my anger and numb feelings away, and learn to cry more often. I always feel better after crying, but sometimes I just can’t seem to do it. I hope we make it out of this cloud soon and into a few rays of sunshine, even if the dreaded diagnosis is MS after all. I have to learn to live, one day at a time. We only have one day at a time. We have to live for the now and take steps to make sure the future is as bright as possible.