Monday, November 26, 2012

A Hot Mess – And I’m Not Talking Turkey!

I like the way my friend, Diana puts things sometimes.  Recently, she described us both as a “couple of hot messes.”  I can’t think of a better way to put it.  I’ve been a hot mess for quite some time; I just didn’t know how much of a mess I was in until about two weeks ago. 

The kids are still the kids.  Youngest Son is still doing well, but it is the holidays and well, you know, the holidays are hard on kids with complex traumatic pasts.  We got through the Thanksgiving weekend around here pretty well, though.  Most of the time, he stayed in his room and did not participate in family activities with my older sons and my daughter-in-law (and “almost daughter-in-law” – but I’ll tell you about that sometime later).  Anyway, he coped by withdrawing.  That’s what he does.  And I let him.  We’ve learned the best thing to do to help him get through it all is to let him get through it the way he always has.  Now, however, he knows what his behavior is all about and he can identify the feelings – even the hidden feelings stored in his amygdala that trigger his responses to stress.  He can’t always do it in the moment, but he gets there eventually.  DBT has helped him accomplish this.  And besides that, he’s produced some pretty amazing art while he withdraws.

Still, Youngest Son’s Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t perfect.  He gave me some lip (which I did not respond therapeutically to) and treated me as though my own personal hot mess was just a big, stupid inconvenience to him.  For a time, he had no consideration for what I am going through, but it was only for a time.  He backed off.  He’s not done anything to care for me, but backing off shows a lot of care.  I am still in awe of how far he has come.  We wouldn’t be doing this well if we were going through this hot mess last year. 

As for The Princess, being home with me this school year has helped her in ways words cannot fully explain.  After a rough start to the school year, we developed a relaxed rhythm for school work and for social/emotional development.  I’ve really enjoyed having her around, quite frankly.  She’s a lot nicer to everyone since she’s no longer around certain other girls, and she’s learned she has the choice in how to respond to someone who behaves in a way much different than what we are teaching her to “be” as a young, Christian girl.  She now knows that someone who cuts off her friendship, or treats her poorly, or is just plain MEAN, is missing a lot of “good stuff.”  She truly is an awesome kid who has come so much further than most anyone else I know – kid or adult.  Still she’s had her moments, too.  Dealing with this hot mess is frightening to a kid who has been through what she’s been through. 

I haven’t felt well physically for some time now.  There’s been one thing after the other, but I’ve attributed much of it to just getting a bit older and facing the “monster” all middle-aged women face at some point or another.  Most women are through the brunt of it by the time they reach my age, though.  I’ve been one of the “lucky ones” still going strong at age 53.  I am well on the high end of what is still considered average for pre-menopausal women.  So, I just figured my body is a-typical.  I’m going to experience some weird, a-typical things.  So I have.  It’s been going on for probably three years, and I’ve learned to live with it, but it’s getting worse as time goes on.  The kicker for me was when my right arm and hand started being so much colder than my left arm and hand.  Then, my family doctor’s nurse couldn’t get a blood pressure reading in that arm and my pulse was very, very faint.     

So, to shorten a really long story into one that’s bearable reading for a blogpost, it boils down to this:  I’m having cardio-vascular issues.  I have a blood clot in my right jugular vein, about 6” away from my brain.  There are other blood clots in my arm.  I’m going to have an angiogram with radio-active medicine sometime soon to see if there are other clots in other places in my body (as my cardiologist suspects there are), and then after that, I will have surgery.  It’s a hot mess.  Even the little things involved like getting blood drawn are traumatic for me.  I am a notoriously hard “stick.”  I have been this way all my life and my own amygdala has some pretty intense stuff stored in it that gets to me every stinkin’ time I have to have blood drawn.  It truly is terrifying to me.  Yes, terrifying.  So, for those of you reading who may think, “Sheesh.  She needs to get over that.  A blood test is nothing,” don’t think I haven’t tried.  PTSD is PTSD.  Period. 

My kids are scared.  I am scared.  My husband is scared.  No one knows for sure what happens after they put me under for the surgery.  At this point, we’re just trying to deal with a screw up at the doctor’s office last week that had me critically (their word) overdosed on blood thinners thanks to a staff person who didn’t know what she was talking about.  Little things like needing a blood test this morning to see where things are, but not being able to get one, add to that stress.  Yet, I look around and I try to see the women I know who are strong no matter what they face.  And I try.  But my trying is for naught.  I try to remember that courage isn’t the absence of fear, it is moving forward despite the fear.  I am me.  It's okay to be me.  It’s okay to be scared.  I just need to choose how I am going to deal with all this stuff.

I hope my choices make my kids proud – proud like they’ve made me proud.  I just think I sure could use some “easy” up in here, ya’ know?


Courtney said...

Praying for you and the family, TMT.

Diana said...

Yes, friend, It is ok to be scared. If you weren't scared, you'd either be dead or you'd be a robot. Some people have tried to tell me that being afraid means I don't have faith. They've never walked through hell. They have no idea what scared is. Fear is God given emotion that's part of our warning system.

What I have learned over time, though, is that FAITH and fear can't exist in the same sphere at the same time. One will always drown out the other. Courage is moving forward and allowing faith to quiet the fear. So, when you feel that fear starting to take over...because you're not dead and you're not a robot and it's going to happen...that's the time to invite faith to step in and take over.

And when you can't do it...again, because you're not dead and you're not a robot and it takes a whole lot of energy to keep faith in the lead role...don't. Don't do it. Just like YS did for Thanksgiving, it's ok to shut down for a little while. It's ok to shut off the noise, it's ok to lighten up on school, it's ok to sit around and watch cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies in your jammies all freaking day long. Another thing I've learned lately is that shutting down and shutting off the noise and doing only the essential in whatever way works for you and for your family, even if the rest of the world doesn't get it or agree with it, really does make hot messes a whole lot less hot and less messy.

Be gentle with yourself and let your amygdala have it's voice. The more you fight it and tell it to be a grown up, the more conflict there will be and the harder it will fight to survive. Uh the same way with ourselves that it does with our kids.

Check FB for the rest...I realized it had your real name in it. You can modify and publish it if you want.

Anonymous said...

Praying for continued healing and PEACE for you! Hugs!

CrossRiver Media said...

Praying for all of you as you deal with this hot mess. ((hugs))