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Why this blog, why now

I am not here for followers, or fame.  I am writing here to put down my feelings of grief, sadness, hope, and frustrations in my life as a daughter who helps her father take care of my mother who has dementia and cancer.  My life right now is so upside down with fear and emotions that I need to let it go.  Some will have dementia days, some will have cancer days, some will have travel days as my husband and I have our business, and other days may be me just rambling on to figure out my next step in life.

 

Not Letting the Past Define Us and Forgiving

I usually don’t write about things on here that don’t relate to the general theme of this blog. But, this has been laid on me to write about. Maybe perhaps I need the advise myself. After 3 years, I still have issues with my mom the way she passed. The lack of healthcare she did for herself and not listening to dad or I about the amount of diet coke she drank and the effects of aspartame. Not getting a mammogram done regularly to see if there was any cancers popping up. I still get upset about it if I think about it. But, in the last year or so, I have finally gotten to the point where I can forgive her for what she did to herself. The forgiveness wasn’t for her, it was for me. I had to let go of that anger because how else am I going to heal from watching her die and learn to live without her.

But the reason I am writing this is also because forgiveness to others is essential to not only our mental health, but in the eyes of God. In Matthew 6:15; “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Also in 1 John 1:9; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.” In essence, how can we be forgiven if we can’t forgive ourselves.  But also if we don’t forgive, we are also letting our our past define define who we are. Without the forgiving of others, we are fixated on the pain and the hurt that person caused. I know personally, before I forgave mom, I was bitter and angry. I would have days that I woke up on the wrong side of bed and everything just rubbed me wrong. I would lash out to those who didn’t deserve it. And it was generally my husband and son. And then an argument would ensue. Then, I would have a massive breakdown and it wasn’t pretty. Bitterness and anger can steal so much from us. Sleep, peace within ourselves, and even the simple joys in life just to name a few. I know it did for me.

But what if the pain is so much you can’t forgive them. I never said it was easy to forgive. It took years for me to forgive someone that took advantage of me mentally and the end result was a blow to my spirit. Like a friend told me, if you can’t forgive them yourself, then ask Jesus to forgive them for you. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you will forget. Some things you can’t forget. But, asking Jesus to forgive them through you is a step in the right direction. And when you wonder if Jesus will forgive us over and over, in Matthew 18:21-22 “Lord, how often my will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” His love for us is unending.

Full devotional can be found here https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/a-prayer-for-forgiving-those-who-hurt-you.html

Dear Merciful Lord,

Thank you for your gift of forgiveness. Your only Son loved me enough to come to earth and experience the worst pain imaginable so I could be forgiven. Your mercy flows to me in spite of my faults and failures. Your Word says to “clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3:14) Help me demonstrate unconditional love today, even to those who hurt me. 

I understand that even though I feel scarred, my emotions don’t have to control my actions. Father, may Your sweet words saturate my mind and direct my thoughts. Help me release the hurt and begin to love as Jesus loves. I want to see my offender through my Savior’s eyes. If I can be forgiven, so can he. I understand there are no levels to your love. We are all your children, and your desire is that none of us should perish.

You teach us to “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in our hearts.” (Col. 3:15) When I forgive in words, allow your Holy Spirit to fill my heart with peace. I pray this peace that only comes from Jesus will rule in my heart, keeping out doubt and questions. And above all, I am thankful. Not just today, not just this week, but always. Thank you for the reminder, “Always be thankful.” (Col. 3:15) With gratitude I can draw closer to you and let go of unforgiveness. With gratitude I can see the person who caused my pain as a child of the Most High God. Loved and accepted. Help me find the compassion that comes with true forgiveness.

And when I see the person who hurt me, bring this prayer back to my remembrance, so I can take any ungodly thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) And may the confidence of Christ in my heart guide me into the freedom of forgiveness. I praise you for the work you are doing in my life, teaching and perfecting my faith

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Its not easy to forgive, but the longer you wait, the harder it is. Not forgiving someone can corrode our hearts just as salt and water mix corrodes a car. The corrosion starts off small, but if it isn’t taken care of, the car will eventually just be a paper weight. Our heart and our faith are the metal, the bitterness we are holding on to is the salt and water. We don’t want to be a bitter paper weight.

I am by far no where near a scholar on this, or the bible even. But, I am happy to talk to anyone who needs some help making the step in the direction.

2020

What a year 2020 was. I think we can safely say it will be one we won’t soon forget. A lot of people will probably say that it was the worst year ever. But for me, it wasn’t. The worst year ever was the one where I lost mom. Looking back in 2020 I had quite a few things happen that was great and the not so good, but worth remembering.

January was my birthday and last years in my 30s and started back to church. If you go back in my posts, I talked about this. This started off the year right. It was also my dads 78th birthday.

February we got a bike and I got a job. First job I had had in a long while.

March was hubby’s birthday and Covid hit. And because of COVID, my job was put on hold. I later on left in May because I didn’t know when I would have been back.

April had a huge tree limb fall on the house. This was the nit so good. We had a huge storm come in and we had to call a friend to cut a limb so we could get out. The limb had also trapped us in the trailer. Bathroom remodel in the trailer. Started really stepping out of my comfort zone in photography. I got bored and with COVID, I really wasn’t able to do much.

May I spread some love to local high school seniors who had their year cut short by doing some free senior shots. This was a huge step for me as I don’t really do much on portrait sessions. I also made my first buttercream frosting. Ought to make some again when I make a cake, probably for my dads birthday.

June was our 21st anniversary. I also got a kitty. Her name is Ninja and she lives up to her name.

Ninja

July we said good by to a great man who I had few conversations with, but his words will always stick with me. It was also my first time being in “the last ride”. It was amazing to see so many bikers come out to pay their respects to someone they didn’t know.

August I got to see some of the Bridges of Madison County and John Wayne’s birth place and museum. I have a post a few back about this. Still one of the best places I’ve been to.

September had the back room remodeled and moved into in October. This was not by our choice, but it’s nice now.

October we were officially moved in the house. Other than Halloween, nothing really happened that month.

November I did my first big event volunteering at the Venterns Day Ruck Run. We had the election and still dealing with that and I voted for the first time ever. And we celebrated my sons 19th birthday. It was a really eventful month. We also were in Colorado and my husband took me on an adventure to take photos. Ended up going to Black Canyon. It was absolutely breathtaking.

December was a toy run for a kid who never had a birthday party, and my family and my second family were all baptized together. We did this the last service of the year. It was amazing and I am still in awe of the difference I feel from it. And I found out mom is with me. I got my mom’s bible to take with me to get baptized. Our pastor was mainly focused on Matthew 28 where Jesus is talking about baptism. I opened it up, mom had a section highlighted and knew she was right there.

So, maybe instead of saying worst year ever, look back to see how much you have grown. I have learned so much about myself this year. It’s been a year of growth, a year of stepping outside my comfort zone. I hope and pray 2021 I can bring healing and health into my life.

What Have I Been Up To?

It’s been several months since I have posted and well, it hasn’t been much to it, till this month. We have been on the road but have been home the last few weeks, actually almost month. Which is driving both of us crazy. We also have moved into my parents house. We as in my husband and I. The back room of my parents house was remodeled and we moved in, my son is taking over out 5th wheel trailer. He will be moving it to a friend’s property. Been going to church, weight loss meetings, and also putting myself outside my comfort zone.

Life has been smacking us hard and fast. So detail of things… the move in my parents house was not planned. Not like it happened. The local city council decided that no one can have an RV on their property being lived in. Long story short, my dad footed the bill for the remodel and 2 weeks later we were moving in. Our son is almost 19 and he is taking it over, getting it cleaned out and ready to move to a different property and will be on his own. We are now empty nesters in a sense, but not full fledged yet. It’s been bittersweet watching him fly. Mom would be so proud. She would have helped him get everything ready for him to move and get him all set up inside. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and some crying. But, I know I did my job well if he’s ready to be on his own. Yesterday he came home from work, said he was going to take a shower and head to Walmart. He got his own groceries and his own stuff for the trailer. I went in there last night and I was in awe. All the fights we’ve had over the years on cleaning and I see him deep cleaning the trailer.

Going to church… well not much to say but I have really been able to focus on who God really is. Who Jesus really is. I have always known who they are, but the church we are going to has really been good to me. It has opened my eyes, my heart, and for the first time in my life, I have thought about baptism. I grew up in a church, but was scared. It really did scare me by the way messages were brought across and then started seeing true colors of people that I questioned a lot. Went years without going and even the other churches we went to, I saw posers. This church I see genuine people and feel the peace we are meant to feel when we go. I also made the decision on my 40th birthday to be baptized. I was going to do it this summer, but it just didn’t feel right. My 40th birthday I want to bring in with a bang. Also leads into my next thing…

Weight loss. As a kid and well into mom’s adult years, she was skinny. But, after I was born, she struggled with her weight. So have I. Skinny as a kid, gain after my son was born. Mom struggled badly. She hit I think 325, was also diagnosed being diabetic all around her early 50s. Mom had joined Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) and slowly but surely she got down to 270s. I know how hard she tried. I had a goal to get below 200 by my birthday in January, but COVID screwed that up. No meetings to keep me accountable and the stress of it all was just unreal, especially in the beginning. We are meeting now and it has helped me a great deal. As much as I want to be under 200 by January, I also know it’s unrealistic for me to get there. I do have a goal that I want to hit.. I want to be in the 230s by then. Thinking about maybe starting another blog about my personal weight loss struggle. Not sure yet.

Comfort zone has been well, comfortable. I haven’t been able to do much to push myself lately. But earlier this month I photographed a birthday party..at night.. outside.. with a DJ. But, I was successful though. It was so far out of my zone that I was really doubting if I could do it. A week or so before that, I photographed a boat parade that landed me into getting asked to do a benefit run Nov. 7. This is a daytime event, but the length that it will be will be outside my comfort zone. But it’s such a good cause, I couldn’t say no.

I think there comes a point in our lives that we start to have to put ourselves first. And with our son moving out, not actively caregiving, I can finally put me first. I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like, but to me, it’s stepping outside my comfort zone and putting myself out there. The way I see it, we only have one life. We need to enjoy it. Mom wanted to travel and never was able. So along with my husband and I’s delivery business, I get to travel and see things that she never did. Like not long ago, my husband made a side trip for me to go see the John Wayne museum and see a few of The Bridges of Madison County. It was amazing and she would have loved it. She was such a huge fan of John Wayne. My dad was pretty excited to see we got to see it.

Statue in front of the museum. His house he was born in is around the corner.
One of the Bridges of Madison County

I don’t know if this really has anything to do with caregiving, but I think it shows that there is life after caregiving. And the death of the loved one you cared for. Yes, losing your loved one is hard. I will be the first to tell you it sucks some days. But, when you step back and really look at the bigger picture, they wouldn’t want you to mope around. They would want you to live. And that is what I’m going to do. Live. Live like tomorrow isn’t promised, because it really isn’t.

What Are You Thankful For?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything mainly because I didn’t have much to write about. Nothing inspired me. But listening to K-Love (Christian radio station) a few nights ago got me to thinking and I was lead to write this.

So, a little bit of what has happened since I last wrote. I can’t believe it was February. So, I found a job that was put before me in late February for a driver at an adult daycare for mentally and physically challenged adults. I started training, then COVID hit. I couldn’t finish my training, and I couldn’t really work so I told my boss I needed to protect my dad (before things really started coming out about what’s been happening) and she understood. I wanted the job, I thought, but in late April, I got the feeling that I needed to walk away from it and so I did. I trust my intuition. My husband and I then decided to try to go back out on the road. It was a complete bust as far as money. We just barely broke even along with barely able to pay what we needed to. We decided that was going to be the last one. I still needed to bring in some money, so I started delivering for a delivery app and I really enjoy it. It gets me out, I can make our bills as well. There is a lot of alone time and I really listen to the messages in the music, from the DJs, and the little short stories. And that is where this is coming from.

One of the DJs was talking about what are the little things you are thankful for. While I am thankful for so much, it all seems big. Most know that I am also a photographer and my favorite things to photograph is landscape and macro (up close). It makes me stop and see the small things. But, I don’t think I was fully appreciating the smaller things in life.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with the parable of the mustard seed. If not, the mustard seed is very small. It’s so small that it’s the size of the tip of a ball point pen. But it grows into a tree. The parable can be found in Matthew 13:31-32. “He told them of another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in the field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of the garden plants and becomes a tree, so the birds come and perch in its branches”.

This is how my faith has started, faith the size of a mustard seed. During the time I was caring for my mom, and even after she passed, my faith was shaken and I didn’t know how I was going to be able to get through one of the hardest days of my life. God has gotten me through other things, but I this I felt so alone. I knew He wasn’t going to leave me behind, but at that moment I did. Over the last 2 1/2 years, my faith has grown, but it has exponentially since February when I finally decided to go back to church. The church is a building, but what you get out of the message is what you are needing to hear.

About a month ago, our pastor was giving a message about leaving the past in the past, and used the story of Lot’ wife. Lot and his family was told by an angel to flee away from Sodom and never look back. Lot’s wife and and was turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying instructions. Her looking back symbolizes she identified with the people of Sodom. There are other ideas as to why she looked back, but that’s not important. They were told not to look back because God was going to take care of them and Lot’s wife looked behind as we do looking at our past. She didn’t feel worthy of His love because of her past.

All this started making me think about my past. I won’t go into detail, but it’s things that I wish I could go back and undo. The past has haunted me for years. I was Lot’s wife. I was looking back at my past not feeling worthy of His love and forgiveness. Then this started me on another road.. baptism. Baptism is about becoming reborn into Christ. Water baptism is significant because when you are submerged, the old you has died, coming out of the water, you are a new person. In this, I see that being baptized that I can wash away my past. The part that brings me down. Now, I have not done it yet, but I will be soon….hopefully. Now, to why I originally wrote this.

What small thing are you thankful for? I didn’t really think about this much, but that night, I was thankful for being able to watch the sunsets at night. But, in the true reality of it all, I am thankful for being able to see the bigger picture of what God has in store for me. I’ve always been able to “stop and smell the roses”, but now I have new found appreciation for everything now. I honestly don’t think that I could really appreciate the small things until I realized what the bigger picture is; and I don’t think I could see the bigger picture till I looked and appreciated the smaller things in life. I didn’t feel worthy of being forgiven by God. I’m thankful for so much. I still have my dad. I have an amazing husband and son. I have a roof over my head. Food in my belly. Able to pay my bills. I’m thankful for being able to watch the sunsets. And I’m thankful for the mustard seed.

You Cannot See Through the Darkness

Just a note, if I seem all over the place with this, I am sorry. Just my thoughts from today.

I generally won’t talk about sermons, or God’s word, but I am a Christian and one of the tags to find this blog is faith.  I have been going back to church just recently and it has really helped me process some emotions that I have been not able to properly deal with.  Most of what I have not been able to let go is hate.  Not hatred about what happened me caring for mom.  I would have done that anyways.  But the hatred I had towards God for allowing mom to suffer for so long with not only one, but two horrible diseases.  I was so mad at letting one of the most caring and giving people I know go such a horrible way.

Today’s sermon was taken from 1st John in the New Testament.  I’ll try to not get preachy here, but there is something in this chapter that really hit me today and made me realize about grief.  I have been in a loop with grief.  I start to do better, then I hit a wall and I go back to where I started.  Its a vicious cycle.  In the sermon today, the pastor was talking about how John was talking to the church about loving one another.  Not just a few of us, but all of us.  The scripture says walk (love each other and live as He instructed us) in lightness with Him, but in lives in darkness is not in lightness.  In other words, if you say one thing and do another, you are not truly living as He would.  But the scripture that got me, and the whole reason for this post is this.  1 John 2:11 “But whoever hates his brother or sister is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

There was something that struck me specifically about that passage.  You cannot walk in darkness and see where you are going.  Grief can be blinding.  I was blinded by the hatred of what happened to mom.  I was blinded by the the hatred of what mom did to herself.  I saw this as God speak that I need to let go of all the hatred.  All the hurt.  I told my husband before I left, ” I feel like I’m a screensaver, just going blindly and bouncing in a different direction when I reach the edge.” Then I got this message today.  I realized that I need to let God in, to let the  light so I can see where I am in this grief and maybe, I can walk into a better place.  I mean, how can you love others when you don’t even love yourself.  Loving yourself means your whole self. Not just parts of yourself.

I feel like a major transformation is taking place in my life.  The last couple of years I have been trying to recover from everything on my own.  Truth be told, my faith was seriously lacking.  I thought I was walking the walk.. but I wasn’t.  I was asking God for help to get through the pain, but I was also angry and blaming Him for my misery.  I am learning to let go of all the pain, all the hate, all the darkness.  Its hard, I won’t lie.

I will leave you with this.  I am not saying that I am done grieving.  I will never be done grieving her loss.  It is ok to have those bad days, but its not ok to live in the darkness all the time.  Yes, it does take time to find the light.  For me, I kept running into walls and it took a jolt to get me to find the light I didn’t know I was looking for.  It takes time to find that light that we all need.  Caregiving is hard.  Learning to truly live after caregiving is no easy task.  It has seriously taken an act of God to get me to live again.  Mom always told me not to worry about her and for me to live my life.  Looking back, I wasn’t truly living life as mom wanted me to.  She enjoyed her life as it was given to her, so in reality, how can I be mad at her for making herself sick (will go into that in another blog).  I know that mom was strong in her faith and I will see her again one day.  Mom would not want me to be living my life as a screensaver.. bouncing around blindly.  She would be wanting me to see where I’m going in life.  And with my renewed faith in God, I plan on living in His light wherever I go.

How Am I?

I was asked to write this by someone but it’s for everyone who is no longer caregiving. In a short answer, I’m ok. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. I’m ok. I’m actually great. But, there is so much more to this answer. How did I get to be ok?

It’s been 2 years since mom passed. It took me a while to actually to start really caring for myself. For the first year, I was really in survival mode. Learning how to deal with the firsts without mom. First birthday (which mine was 12 days after she passed), her first birthday without her, first holidays, and then the big one.. first year anniversary of her passing. I was trying to just keep my head above water. I was also having to be mom and wife. Some days, all I wanted to do was just curl up in a ball, eat ice cream for dinner and be done with the day. Then others, I was able to function like nothing happened. I was trying to take care of myself, but I guess my mind wasn’t really in it. When mom’s 1 year anniversary came, I will admit, I crumbled. Reliving all the events that happened with mom was unbearable. Thankfully, my husband and son got me through that day. Not long after that, actually 12 days after that 1 year anniversary, we lost my mom in law. Yes, that was my birthday. Losing her on my birthday was a punch in the gut. I was mad at her for dying on my birthday. I know she didn’t plan it, but it hurt unlike anything I’ve ever felt. For the next 7 months, we dealt with paperwork, lawyers and judges to help get my husband made executor of the estate since there was no will. We both went into survival mode. We ate out of stress, ate for comfort, ate to survive. On top of that, they say the second year is the hardest after someone dies. well it certainly wasn’t easy street. Fast forward to late summer 2019.. I weighed myself and had the shock of a lifetime. I was at my highest weight ever.

Now, I’m going to back up and say this. I have been taking vitamins for a while now. And yes, it was helping, but in survival mode, I didn’t. I just ate and drank whatever. I really didn’t care either then. But, after having that wake up call, I started going back to my ways before life went into survival. I knew what worked for me in the past. I started listening to my body.

I knew when I would eat breads, pasta, etc I hurt. My arthritis would flair up and I hurt all over, especially in my back. Knees would swell and stiffen up. But I also had heart palpitations and anxiety. So.. I cut out all grains. I feel so much better and not weighed down. I also noticed when I would eat most dairy my stomach would get extremely bloated and had severe stomach issues. So, I cut out almost all dairy and even with what I do have, it’s limited. Sodas I have a love hate relationship with. When I am stressed, when my throat itches from allergies, when I bored, when I’m anything that isn’t positive, I grab a soda.. specially Dr Pepper. I noticed at times I would get a headache from the amount of caffeine in them so I would stop drinking them, then start up. I also had severe heart palpitations as well from it. The anxiety, the anger, and the breakouts all came from sodas.. so, I quit excess sugar. Also the vitamins I take help a lot. I have done a lot of research on vitamin cures for issues that I’ve been prescribed medication for. The reason I did my own research was for one, the doctors won’t tell you alternative meds, and two, I hated the way it made me feel.

All of the above was just a start on me living again after caregiving. All of this was not done overnight. I started paying attention to everything in November. Vitamins were first (actually way before I changed other things). I knew when I didn’t take my vitamins, especially after a couple of days, my mood and my energy was gone. My eating habits have drastically changed since thanksgiving. I eat real food. And when I do slip up… man do I ever pay for it. Example.. which actually prompted me to go ahead and write this. Last night I got a Dr Pepper because honestly I don’t know why. I knew better than to drink one late at night because I don’t sleep when I have that much caffeine at night. (Finally went to sleep around 3 am). I also became really angry and annoyed with everything. This morning when I did wake up, I was so annoyed with everything. I was angry at myself for being stupid and I was picking fights with my husband. I finally started feeling normal this evening mentally, but physically I still feel like crap and it’s been 24 hours since I’ve had that Dr Pepper.

Not all my answers to me being ok were diet related, but they were a big part of it. It helped me be able to do the other part.. live. Mom always told me to not worry about her. She wanted me to live my life and travel and do all things she wasn’t able to. Her biggest regret was not traveling. Even just around the state. She really regretted not going like she wanted. Last year this month I had also lost one of my best friends in a car accident. That made me wake up and realize tomorrow is never promised and I really woke up. I got my camera and started going out and doing what I love… photography (you can see my work on Facebook at Nanci K Photography). It is my therapy. It calms my mind, and I get a good workout as well. Another thing I do is cross stitch. When I’m bored at home, it’s what keeps me busy. But the biggest change for me has been going to church again. My husband and I changed churches and we have been doing more for us.

My husband bought a motorcycle (no, I’m not telling you to go buy one, although we find it very therapeutic) and we ride together. He found a Christian motorcycle group and we have joined that. We have been reinventing ourselves. The version of ourselves before caregiving is gone. Even if it came back, it wouldn’t be the same. Why? Because we have been through so much. Seen so much. Watched someone die. That changes you. I’ve watched my dad in law, mom, and mom in law all die. You will never revert to the old person you were because what you have been through has imprinted on you. I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out why I couldn’t myself again. I then realized that the old me was gone and I needed to reinvent myself. This article really hit me and showed me why I couldn’t find the old me.

Reinventing yourself is hard. It’s hard because it’s the unknown. I was oddly comfortable with pain and grief and my husband pointed it out to me and it was a wake up call. I realized I really needed to get out of the box. But what is helping me the most is my husband and I are reconnecting. I’m not only learning to be someone who isn’t caring for someone else, but I’m also learning be a wife to my husband without the worry of my son who now is on his own (for the most part). I’m putting myself out there so to speak. We joined a church that we really love. We joined a motorcycle group that surrounds us with like minded people. But the biggest thing about finding life after caregiving… prayer.

I prayed so much over the last few years for strength to get through the next day, the next battle, to bring peace and comfort to my loved ones. Now, I pray for direction where God needs me to be. We cannot live life after trauma (and that’s what caregiving can be most of the time) without support. When someone is injured badly, they need help to recover and keep things going for them. But when we are mentally traumatized, we try to go at it alone and we just can’t. I know prayer is a personal thing, but what I will say about my prayers is this. I talk to God as if he was right here next to me and I was pouring out my heart. But then I thank Him for keeping me going. For steering me in the right direction. God is right there to help us, but we just have to let Him in. Prayer is so important when it comes to caregiving. We need His strength to get us through the hard times. We need his guidance to make sure we do what is right for our loved one. But, we also need to thank Him for what he has done for us.

If this seems all over the place, I’m sorry. I tried to keep it in a good flow. But, this is my personal story of how I have started living in the moment. Life after caregiving doesn’t have to be boring. I know that when we start allow ourselves to live again, there is guilt. Trust me in this… no one would want us to be at home miserable for the rest of our lives. Grief is a personal journey. I’m not saying go out and do whatever right after that person goes. But what I am saying is, don’t feel guilty if you want to do something fun. Living isn’t just eating right or going out and doing what you enjoy. It’s really a combination of things. I hope this helps someone. There is life out there after caregiving. You just have to listen to yourself and your body.

2 Years Ago

It’s been two years since mom has passed and in these two years, it’s been a roller coaster. So many emotions, so many tears, and so many adventures. My husband has been amazing helping me in dealing with massive breakdowns and the massive mood swings. Not long ago I had the worst breakdown I’ve ever had.

This New Year’s Eve I decided to leave the past in the past. All the pain, all the suffering, all the negativity. I spent it with people who mean the most to me. And yes, I drank. A lot. I realized I’m not as young as I use to be lol. I came in the new year with a new attitude. That also goes with today.

Last night I had an amazing dream about mom. She was young, she was happy, smiling, and she was playing with her dog, Sam. Sam was a poodle mix that she loved dearly. He passes away not long after I was born, but there are tons of pictures that she had of him. I knew it was him. Mom was full of life. She always gave all of herself in whatever it was. She was active in church, helped with so many things, and was mom to all my friends. If you were a friend of mine, you were adopted. When I met my husband, she loved him before they met. She would give you her last dollar if it meant you were going to be ok.

She taught me so much about cooking, baking, sewing, and how to be a lady. This photo is one of my dad’s favorites. Mine too really. This is how she should be remembered. Her smile that was infectious. Her hugs that were genuine. She was my mom, grandma to my son, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, and a wife. And with each title she embraced it fully. There are days where I really miss her but I saw something that helped me. From the time she has been gone, she has been helping prepare my place in heaven with our Almighty God. Can you imagine how great it’s going to be?

Judy Nell Gill, April 18, 1946-January 5, 2018

Where Do I Belong

Here it is, almost Christmas and I find myself lost. I have had an identity for several years. I’ve been a stay at home mom, a caregiver, and recently business owner. But now, my son is on his own, caregiving days have been over, and business was sold even though I’m trying to get my photography business going. But right now, I’m so lost of what to do with myself. Even if I were to find a regular job, what would it be? Not working a regular job close to a decade doesn’t make things easy. Sure there is fast food, but honestly, I don’t see me being able to keep up with it. Caregiving would be great, but honestly I don’t know if my body can handle it or my mind. I’ve done my own thing for so long, I don’t know where I should be.

Then today we realized the floor in the front of the trailer we live in, the are which is my son’s room, is crumbling. So now we really need to figure out what we are going to do. We need a new place to live, but how are we going to pay for it? I am thankful that I do have a roof over my heads but being in this trailer has about done me in. I want to be in my own place surrounded by my own things and not have to dig for what I’m looking for. Money is so much tighter than we expected.

Christmas this year hasn’t been the same. I haven’t decorated this year. Part of that is why I want to be in my own place. I want a regular tree but no place to put it. My husband has been trying to make me feel better. But right now the only thing I know would make me feel better is a home. Not just a roof over my head.

When PTSD Strikes…Part 2

There wasn’t suppose to be a part 2 to this.  I really didn’t want to have a part 2, but there has been some scary thoughts in my mind lately and I know they are related to everything that I have been through.  But its getting harder to ignore these thoughts and it sends me into tears almost instantly.

January 2018 I lost my mom and my first cousin.  January 2019 I lost my mom in law.  Things come in 3s.  3 deaths.. 2 Januaries.  My head is expecting 3 January deaths and I cannot cope with the thought of losing someone else in January.  I have lost a few other family members in January, but they were great aunts.  I was close to them, but not as close as the ones I am writing about.  My brain is saying “Who is it going to be next? Is it dad? Is it my husband? Who?”  Dad will be 78 in January, husband will be 42 in March.  I am not able to stop the thoughts of death around me.  I am terrified.  These thoughts are debilitating.  I cry at the drop of a hat.  I panic over other things that are stupid.  There is so much going on that I have a hard time thinking about what is right in front of me.

I have an amazing son and husband and dad and friends and all these people I know I can talk to about it, but yet I get interrupted and told to calm down.  NO! I cannot calm down and talk in a normal voice. This is how I am when I am upset and need to scream and cry.  I can’t hold it in anymore.  I am terrified of losing anyone else because I am terrified of what its going to do to me.

All I want for Christmas… is to skip into February… but wait.. one of my best friends was killed in a car accident and that was rough.  I don’t know what is harder.. watching someone die or losing someone in an instant.  So for Christmas, bring me March.  That’s a good month for me and its hubby’s birth month.  April I will be ok even though its mom’s birthday month.  May is fine, June is awesome.  June is our anniversary.  July-November all good, especially November when my amazing son was born. Can I just skip over the bad months? I am probably on the verge of another massive breakdown.  I probably need it, but the energy it requires is so much more than I have.

And really, all this is more than just being afraid of losing someone.  Its financial, its other personal stuff that I have to work through.  Some things I do have I that I am dealing with isn’t in any relation to what I keep on this blog, but it does take a toll on me when I stop and think about it.  And some things I don’t want but only certain people knowing.  I am not asking for money, but right now it would ease things.  I know God will provide for us.  I have always believe that.  I know God will get me through this.  Its just hard to deal with everything at once.

When PTSD Strikes

*The word Son and Dad are capitalized in place of names to protect privacy.*

Some people know the back story that I am about to say so if you know this back story, feel free to skip.  I feel the need to tell you a deeply personal story because this is something that I didn’t expect to happen. It seriously caught me off guard.

The back story involves a kid who I think of as another son and his dad.  Son was taking care of his grandmother and Dad at the same time, alone.  Grandmother passed a few months ago and was the soul caregiver for Dad after something with paperwork happened and insurance was cancelled.  Dad has a few conditions that cause severe pain and his joints have become frozen and bed bound.  Because of pain, Dad would not allow to be turned.  This went on for months.  And I mean months.  Because lack of insurance, Son lost his help from caregiving agencies.  Son became extremely overwhelmed with taking care of Dad.  Over a period of months, I could see Son was drowning in caregiver overload.  His last visit, I could read in between the lines.  He was begging for help.  He said his cousin was going to call Adult Protective Services (APS) but I had the feeling it wasn’t going to happen.  I made the decision to make that call and get Son and Dad help. Son was so overwhelmed with what needed to be done, he just shut down.  They have help, Dad is getting treated for infected bed sores and Son is getting much needed relief.

So now my story.  Me helping Son brought up some suppressed memories of me being in caregiver overload and everything about my mom that she went through.  On the day everything came rushing back, hubby and I had an argument that went way south real quick and over something very minor.  Well, after we both took time to cool down, I told hubby that with helping Son, it brought back everything from mom and I crumbled.  I had a massive massive breakdown.  I was hyperventilating and coughing from dry heaves and barely able to say what I was feeling.  But what came out even surprised me. I don’t see my mom in the house anymore.  There are pictures and a few things of hers, but it looks like dad has erased her almost completely from the house.  Dad won’t talk about her, I can’t talk to him about her.  I still can hear mom’s cries from pain and all of the pain from losing her just came up.  The day I broke down was the hardest I have ever cried since mom got sick.  Probably ever.  I felt it coming, but I kept pushing it down and pushing it down because it was easier to and the energy that involved swallowing it was less than having the actual breakdown.

Everyone talks about PTSD with soldiers.  But caregiving, its never talked about.  Even the therapist I went to to try to get help for it swept it under the carpet.  I said to her the first day I was there I was having issues with it.  I thought I had written a post about PTSD in caregivers, but I guess I didn’t. Google PTSD caregiving, there are a few that come up, but the rest is for military.  PTSD is real for caregivers.  The screams from mom being in pain when turned still to this day I hear.  Caregivers don’t give just a few days, its day in, day out, 24/7/365 for sometimes years.  It will literally imprint on you.  I should have gone to a different therapist to deal with it, but I didn’t.  Should I go back.. yes.  Will I… honestly.. probably not.  I don’t want to be put on meds.  I am coming up on 2 years on losing mom.  1 year on losing mom in law.  What I can do, not hold it in anymore.  Holding in your feelings is the worst thing you can do.  Things will build and build, and just like a volcano, the eruption is massive and it won’t stop till the pressure runs out.  That was me.  The rest of that night I cried, the next day was on and off tears.  Its been a few days, I feel better.  I know that I have an amazing husband and son who understand why I have these days.

It wasn’t just me helping Son get help for his dad.  It wasn’t just the argument hubby and I had.  I have other personal things going on and that was just the straw that broke the camels back.  It was not just one single thing for me.

What PTSD looks like for me.. being in constant fear that after a great day, something bad is going to happen. Its being on edge when your last parents isn’t doing well.  Its sometimes wishing that your mom would come to your dad saying its time to go home and go in his sleep because he is so tired.  Not just physically either. (This one really gets me on bad days, and no, I don’t want dad to go anytime soon.)  Its the flashbacks of seeing mom in pain.  Its the sudden feeling of being alone in a full room.  I don’t know how else to explain it for me.  I can’t explain how it will be for you, but I am sure it will be something like this.

I hope this helps someone.  It was scary for me.  I never expected to have this happen. You are not alone in this.