Divorce, Mental health

Some words from the broken hearted

It’s really difficult for me to think about my two boys these days. As a result of my divorce from their father, my ex-husband, we have become estranged. For the last 18 months I have had no communication with either of my teenage sons. My oldest told me I was no longer welcome in his life. Those words felt like bullets going through my heart. My youngest remained connected to me through social media but never responded to my many attempts to message with him and has now blocked  me like his brother did. I don’t even know what they look like now. I have not visited with them since August of 2016. Every holiday and major event during the year, I  eat my heart out scrolling through social media at my friend’s pictures of their children. This post is my attempt at processing the  roller coaster of emotions I go through daily concerning my boys.

I got married at 22 years old and all I wanted to do was become a mother and create my own family, do it my way. My oldest son was my honeymoon baby and was born 10 months after my wedding. I had left my position working at a high end retail department store months before I gave birth. I happily chose to become a stay at home mother. I relished it, thrived at it and thoroughly enjoyed every second of being the one whom was in charge of caring for my children full time. I took parenting classes, attended workshops, read countless books and joined Mommy groups. I ran my household like a well oiled machine. I took different kinds of classes with both of my boys including swimming, music, arts, sports, dancing and gymnastics. I cooked all three meals a day for my family. In addition, I cared for our two dogs and two cats. At one point we added a turtle to that mix.

Looking back on those ten years of my life, one constant thought always plagues my memories. I didn’t appreciate my life at that time. I took for granted all that I had and was not 100% grateful. That is hard to admit to myself let alone write here but it’s the truth. I owned two beautiful homes during those years, went on great vacations and was there for my boys at all times. In 2010 all of that, my life as I knew it was altered dramatically. My mind began to break apart and everyday I would “lose it” a bit more than the day before.

My ex-husband and I were one of the 1.2 million households to lose our home in the housing market crash of 2008. We weathered that loss by moving back to my childhood home and in with my parents. As awesome as it was for me to live in my hometown and have my boys take advantage of all the privledges that I was afforded growing up, it became more and more difficult to be reminded of my own childhood’ s ugly memories. The summer of 2010 my little family moved back to the state we had resided most of my adult life. It was really bittersweet and in hindsight I should of spoken up about what was happening with me mentally.

The last shred of sanity I had was gone completely by late December 2010. I remember that Christmas sitting in my in-laws house and feeling so numb and disconnected from reality, like I was sitting behind glass watching my boys open their presents. In early January I told my ex-husband that I didn’t love him anymore, I felt “crazy” and not myself. I then proceeded to demand that he and my boys move out. My actions were cold and unfeeling, I refused to discuss anything. In reality, I wasn’t able to reason or make sense out of anything during that time. I remember staring out my window, tears streaming down my face, scared to death because I didn’t understand what was happening. It’s like another person took the wheel of my life and was in the driver’s seat; I became an unwilling passenger forced to be a spectator to my own life and not a participant. I now understand, dissociative episodes were emerging.

Over the months following my family’s departure I proceeded to try and fill the deep holes in my heart because of the damage my mind had caused by doing everything to disgusting excess.  My exercise routines, eating habits(starving myself) and drinking went into overdrive. I was working three jobs during that time and sleeping no more than 4 hours at night. It was complete hypomania behavior and I sustained it for months. I was desperately trying to do anything to distract my mind and stop my troubling feelings from bubbling up to the surface.

Then came the crash, my suicide attempt and subsequent hospitalzations. I was diagnosed with a slew of acronyms from the DSM-5 and put on an overlong list of medications to combat my ever changing symptoms. It wasn’t until four years later that my long term therapist and I were able to FINALLY get to a proper diagnosis of Complex PTSD. I believe living with my family from 2008-2010 triggered all the deep seeded traumas my mind hadn’t processed properly and became the catalyst for my complete mental breakdown. My boys being forced to witness my mother, their grandmother,  scream at me and physically fight their grandfather. I remember my oldest calling out in fear, “grandma stop yelling at my Mommy.” Having my boys become a part of my dysfunctional past was more than I could ultimately bear.

I have read many articles on how people with a history of childhood trauma left untreated, can result in bipolar like behaviors as an adult. Many of these people have also been misdiagnosed which results in delay of healing. Unfortunately, I had little support from loved ones during this time which exacerbated my condition. I did everything I could to see my boys every other weekend. I would push myself to muster the energy it took so I could function as “normally” as possible during our weekends together. In 2013, I made the drastic decision to enter a long term treatment facility many states away from where I was living and from my boys.

I completed that treatment and did everything in my power to stay in communication with my boys. I wrote many letters, we video chatted, and stayed in touch by our social media accounts. In 2016, I attempted to move back to the state they reside in with my ex-husband. It’s also unfortunately the state where so many traumatizing abuses happened to me. Those memories and flashbacks proved too great for me to overcome so I left there again for third time since 2008. It is the hardest decision I ever have had to make. I promised my boys I would try again to make their state my home. In the end, I have had to come to terms with my failure to make that happen. I feel so much guilt, shame, sadness and anger within myself for that decision. I have had to do a lot of soul searching and reckoning just to get out of bed everyday.

I know my boys must feel abandoned and they are justified in their anger. I have tried on numerous occasions to talk with them about their feelings, ask if they have questions for me etc. Unfortunately my ex-husband is not willing to participate in my healing, he is still bitter over our divorce and we haven’t spoken in almost 4 years. It’s most unfortunate for my boys who have to suffer because the adults in their lives can’t work together in their best interest. My ex has succeeded in erasing me from their lives for now. I have tried calling and texting the number I have for him, sending letters and emails…..ANYTHING to get him to talk to me. Last spring, I mustered up the courage to call my ex-mother in-law in an attempt to talk with my boys. I am glad that not only did she answer but I was able to thank her for loving and caring for my boys in my absence. She told me they are doing well and that she gives them my letters. I don’t know the actual address where my boys live so I mail my letters to my -ex in-laws house.

Coming to terms with this situation has taken an arduous effort on my part. The ones who I feel the worst for are the two boys who are growing up without their Mother. I hope someday they will forgive me and reach out to repair our broken relationship. Deep down I do have faith that will happen. I’m proud to say that throughout the separation, divorce and estrangement I have never spoken a bad word about their father to them.  I refuse to damage their image of him. I know what it’s like to have a parent’s disdain for the other parent ruin the minds of their children. My mother always spoke negatively about my father,  how he wouldn’t want me if they got divorced, how much he didn’t like me even comparing us when I did or said something she didn’t approve of. That forces a child to dislike themselves and look upon those comparisons of character in a shameful way. I refuse to engage in that kind of parent against parent warfare.

Every single day, I spend time thinking about both of my boys. I look at pictures, I cry and I forgive myself for missing out on their childhood. I use the helpful technique of compartmentalizing my thoughts to aid me in exploring those difficult emotions. I also write. This is a poem I hope to share with my boys someday.

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Depression, Mental health

Tales of the heart

Love is such a complicated emotion. There is scientific evidence that it makes our minds go insane. Two very distinct and conflicting instincts take place within us. One is our desire to merge our life with another person and the other is for us to remain an individual. I believe both are equally terrifying and with that comes positive and negative consequences. For me, I have always been a lover of love. I am a companion type of person and I feel more myself with someone else as my partner in life. Perhaps it’s because I’m a middle child and I have always had other people around me. My upbringing conditioned me to always consider those other people’s emotions and care deeply for them. I have always been the peacemaker in my family and I play that role amongst my friends as well. I believe being an empath and a natural healing person by nature, that makes me a consummate companion. It’s one of my strong characteristics, I’m a team player all the way.

Something I didn’t fully comprehend until about six years ago is the meaning of  unconditional love. I definitely wasn’t raised with it and I never felt the secure feeling unconditional love provides. The very first time I experienced that wonderful feeling was from a woman who was mentoring me during my recovery. I am so blessed to have encountered so many kindered spirits along my journey of self growth. She taught me so much that I didn’t realize I had been missing in all my relationships. For me, love always came with conditions and requirements.

I am a giver and I choose to love even when people in my life may not be deserving of it. We may not like everybody that crosses our path but we all need to be loved. Many people in our society who display objectionable behavior are in desperate need of love. It’s a core need along with shelter, food and the ability to financially support oneself. The World Health Organization sites rates of depression rising as a result of modernity and individualism in our culture today. People may joke around by saying, “do you need a hug” in a flippant way when in actuality that answer is YES!!! Humans need physical affection and touch is hardwired in our DNA.

After my divorce and the abuse from the domestic violence I endured at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. When I agreed to go out with some friends one day for coffee I certainly didn’t think I would be meeting my future husband. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed myself that day and felt some chemistry between us I refused to call him when he gave me his number. We ran into each other a few weeks after that initial meeting and he asked me why I hadn’t called. I don’t remember what my answer was but I’m sure I blew him off. He and I went out on another group date before I agreed to go out with him alone. After that date I was absolutely smitten and knew he was someone special. Over these last five years I can say that I have never felt more acceptance and unconditional love from another person than what my fiance shows me. Our love is so deep for one another, the more time goes by the more I learn about it and the closer we become. He is my best friend. He is the person I feel closet to and value our companionship intensely. His laughter is the greatest sound and my favorite quality of his character. All of my feelings for him are expressed in this poem.

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Afterlife, Angels, Mental health, Spirituality

Signs of beauty from beyond

I haven’t always believed in angels specifically the guardian kind. Growing up and trying to navigate through life as the emotional being I am was very challenging for me because of my family of origin. I didn’t have the guidance from either of my parents, neither one of them ever came to me when I was sad in my room to talk to me or seemed to even care about my feelings. It always seemed like a burden, an after thought, something that fell by the wayside. My battered soul was the by product and result from their lack of communication regarding emotions. Instilling fear and guilt were perfectly excuted by both my mother and father yet how to cope with sadness and anger were void from existence. I wasn’t aware then that there were angels around me guarding and protecting me. In fact, at that time if somebody had  told me so I wouldn’t have believed them anyways.

Books became my best friends. I especially enjoy biographies and memoirs. I used to day dream about what my life would be like if Mother Teresa (my middle name coincidentally) or even Maya Angelou were my mother. I have always admired these two women for their thoughtful insights about spreading love and kindness. I am however eternally grateful that I did have one selfless and generously loving  woman in my life growing up, my Nana.

Ellie was always the life of the party, the matriarch of our family. Growing up we were always closer to my mother’s side of the family, to this day I’m unsure why. My mother’s mother, my grandma, my Nana was an extraordinary woman. I always remember her being so cheerful and happy to visit with us. She taught me how to sew and make Russian nutballs around Christmas time. She was our biggest cheerleader and I always looked forward to her letters. Her swirly expressionist handwriting was sometimes difficult to read but looking back it was so her. Upbeat and animated, like she lived her life. Unfortunately she and my Pop-Pop lived in Florida and I was raised in New Jersey so we didn’t have the luxury of seeing her whenever we wanted to. They retired there permantly when I was about six or seven I think so most of my memories are of our visits to Florida or when they would come up to stay for the holidays. Nana lived to sing and dance. In fact I remember her getting up on the table, or threatening to after have one to many Black Russians at a restraunt for dinner once. She sure was a lively character! We would go caroling at Christmas around the neighborhood with Nana as our leader. Ellie had a huge and generous heart. I believe it stemmed from her growing up in an orphanage. Her personality shown through in her style, her hair, jewelry and outfits were always impeccable.

Today, had she lived Nana would be 97. Fifteen years ago she was diagnoised with ovarian cancer. It was unbelievable to all of us because she was always so healthy and took no medications even into her 80s! The doctors put her on chemotherapy and I believed that’s what did her in. She passed away thirteen years ago on St.Patrick’s day. My 4’11 Polish and Irish Nana went to sing with the angels. I was utterly devastated and heart broken. At the time, I couldn’t foresee the devastating consequences her death would have on me. Her passing was the beginning of all of my major losses including my house, my marriage and my mind.

Along my journey to recovery, one of my therapists who I attribute so much of my success to, guided me in visualizing my guardian angel. We were talking about who in my life whether alive or dead would want to take all my burdens away. Who in my life loved me so much that they wouldn’t want me to feel so sad and depressed about my life as I was at the time. It didn’t take long for me to answer her, it was undeniably my Nana. She helped me understand that Nana was in fact my guardian angel and that all I needed to do was talk to her. Call upon her for advice, protection, warmth and a sense of peace. In return I would receive signs of her existence working on my behalf here on Earth.

I wrote this poem and it’s dedicated to my Nana. She sends me signs from the beyond  in the form of butterflies and birds. Just the very thought of her makes me smile. I love you Nana, this one’s for you.

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Anxiety, Depression, Domestic violence, Mental health

Aftershocks

I have been through so many ups and downs on my life’s journey. Maintaining my patience has yielded me progress. I’m nothing if not a survivor. I’ve morphed into an emotional warrior. I have battle scars across my heart. My children have told me, Mom…you are so unlucky. I tell them nah, God just trusts me a heck of a lot. He knows I will be able to figure out whatever comes my way. I’m unbreakable, like Tephlon strong. Processing all that has transpired these last seven years inspired me to write this.

Healing, personal development

The beginning

Welcome! I have contemplated starting a blog like this for years. My own insecurities and obsessions with perfection have held me back…….up until now! I am throwing all caution to the wind by just doing it! Right now in my life I feel I have nothing to lose.

I am a woman living with C-PTSD or Complex PTSD. I am not a military veteran however I consider myself a warrior in life. My entire life, more specifically my formative years, were incredibly traumatizing. My family of origin was emotionally abusive. I always felt I didn’t exist, the forgotten child, blending in with the walls of our house. I am the middle child of six, ours is a blended family since my parents were both previously married and came with two children each upon entering into their marriage together. I understand and accept that both my parents did the best they could, it was the 1970s and I believe they didn’t fully understand the emotional repercussions they inflicted upon their children.

I always felt I had to pick a side between who’s team I was on, Mom’s or Dad’s. My mother is a Borderline personality and her behavior was always chaotic at best. My father was a workaholic who owned a car dealership. We were upper middle class and I never wanted for anything. Sounds great right? Not exactly. My father wasn’t home much and when he was he was emotionally absent, very controlling and strict. My mother has the EQ of a 4 year old and couldn’t regulate her own emotions let alone guide those of her children. My younger sister and I were left to our own devices, raised by wolves as one of my therapists has described it. I was never allowed to show anger or sadness. I was to always be happy and in a good mood for fear of not being accepted or loved. Love was dolled out with conditions. I was shamed into believing that only happiness was allowed to be expressed. Every other emotion was stuffed, stifled and forced away. This was done by verbal abuse and sometimes mild physical abuse. I can admit now I would of rathered it of been all the latter because those wounds heal. The emotional scars from my childhood are still prominent today. My fear of abandonment and acceptance hinder my relationships with others but mostly with myself. I have had over 30 years of therapy both inpatient hospitalizations and outpatient courses of behavioral modification.

The best outpatient course I completed was in DBT or dialectical behavioral therapy. I nicknamed it emotional college. The principles I learned to integrate into my life have been life altering in such a positive way.

The most difficult of these is the idea of Radical Acceptance. It is a daily task for me to accept not only myself but what occurs around me. When I can get to that place, I have peace. I understand that things are not perfect, I don’t have to agree with everything but things are as they are. It is what it is. I can let go. Ican accept the moment for what it is but most essentially I can accept myself.

I look forward to exploring more of my emotional processes here in my blog. I believe I have an unique voice because I am insightful. I am also an intuitive empath which comes with it’s own set of challenges and gifts.

Let this writing adventure and self introspective begin!