Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Scarred



I think I'll make posting on this blog a quarterly event. That seems to be how it's working out anyway.

My last post brought up a lot of memories for me, and not good ones.

That was such a long time ago, yet some days it  feels like it occurred only last week.

I went through  some very tough times between 2010-2012, and even before that, but those years in particular were horrific.

It got me thinking about how I got through it, and how it changed me.

Some of the hardest things in my life have left scars on me that can't ever be erased.

When we were trying to get pregnant(for 5 years.  Five years we tried to get pregnant, then another 7 years after that with the adoption), I had several surgeries.  Four to be exact. Even though they were considered "non invasive", for each surgery they had to cut four incisions in my lower abdomen.

Four surgeries X 4 incisions=16 scars.

My stomach is littered with small,  round, pinkish-white scars.  My insides are also cluttered with small metal clips that look like staples on an x-ray.  Dozens of them.  I counted 20 the last time I had an x-ray done.

Even though the scars on my stomach are ugly, I like them.  They remind me of how much of a fighter I was when we were trying to get pregnant, and how I didn't give up, until our doctor said "No more".  He didn't want to see me in so much pain anymore, and knew by that time that becoming pregnant wasn't going to happen.  So I went ahead with a hysterectomy, even though I was so young(35), and even though it meant giving up on our chance to have a biological child.

The surgeries left scars.

Those scars are a physical reminder of how resilient I was.

Am.

The scars that hurt the most though, are the ones you can't see.

The heartbreak of not being able to have children left scars on my heart.  It left a sadness inside of me that never seems to go away completely. Sometimes I think it's gone. It will go away for a long time and I think "Aha!  I'm "over" that, I've made peace with it".

Then Mother's Day rolls around, or a friend or co-worker gets pregnant, or adopts yet another child,  and BAM.  There it is again. Sadness.  Thankfully the sadness fades away again eventually, but there are still scars there that leave me occasionally feeling sad, nonetheless.

The anguish I felt around the time that I checked myself into the hospital for depression and suicidal thoughts left scars on my soul.  Deep scars.  Occasionally I allow myself to go back to that place and feel that darkness.  Usually it ends with a panic attack and me having to take deep cleansing breaths to bring myself back to present.  I try not to do that too often. But sometimes I allow those scars to come back to the surface, and they hurt.  Even still.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this.

This weekend I did something I have been thinking about doing for a very long time, but haven't had  the courage to actually go through with.

This weekend I got a tattoo.  My first(and likely only) tattoo.

You're probably wondering WHY?  Why do something so permanent?

I guess I wanted a physical manifestation of the scars I feel on the inside to show on my outside.

Does that make any sense at all? I guess it doesn't really matter if it makes sense to you. It makes sense to me.

Ever since my last post I couldn't stop thinking about the semicolon.  What it represents.  It resonated so deeply with me.  I knew that one day I would have a semicolon tattoo.

I didn't know it would be so soon, but sometimes life nudges you in a direction you aren't sure you're ready for, and you follow  it.

So this weekend, with my sister and Joe in tow, I went to a tattoo parlor, and got this:




It's still healing, so it's puffy and the lines aren't defined as much as they'll be when it is healed.

The meaning of the semicolon is in the previous post.

Sparrows represent loyalty and love(some species of sparrows mate for life).  So the birds are for Joe and me, and the baby we will never have.

Birds can also represent freedom.

Freedom from the scars I have on the inside.

Maybe someone else with a semicolon tattoo, or who has been thinking about getting a semicolon tattoo will see mine and think "Hey, there's someone who's been in my shoes.  There's someone who understands the pain I've felt".

I know that's how I will feel if/when I see someone with one.  I'll feel like I'm not alone.

Like I am not the only one on this planet bearing scars, even though some days it felt like it.

I know not everyone will understand my decision to have a tattoo, or even like it, and that's o.k.  To each his(or her) own.

It's my body. My journey.  My story to tell.


Yes, it's in a very visible place, and yes, I know its *permanent*.  Forever.  I get that.  I thought long and hard before I decided to get it.  I didn't go into it lightly

I needed it to be where it is. I need to be able  to see it.  Every day.

I need to be reminded that even though I am scarred, inside and out, I am resilient.  I made it.  I survived a whole bunch of really bad shit and I'm still here to talk about it.

I am still standing.

As painful as they were to get, those scars made me who I am today.

My scars have made me more compassionate.  To have more empathy.  To be more open minded, and to judge others less.

We are all scarred on the inside, in one way or another.

I think it's the scars that make us beautiful.




If you want to read a blog that  protrays depression far more eloquently than I ever could, you should follow The Bloggess.  She writes posts about mental illness that take my breath away, they are so honest, raw, and relatable  (She uses a lot of profanity, so if that offends you, maybe don't check it out)

Friday, April 17, 2015

;

Let's see, where did we leave off?

Oh yeah, we survived the snow.

I turned 44(ugh).

Joe and I celebrated 22 years of marriage.

That's about it.

I often wonder what it is that keeps bringing me here to this blog, especially after being away for so long.

I can't say really.  Only that every now and again I feel the urge to write, and this is the place I have been writing since 2005.  2005!

So here I am, with the urge to write.

Mother's Day is coming up again.  I'm going to spare you the "Mother's Day is hard" whine.  It's pretty old by now.  For all of us.

Instead I'd like to share something I found on FB that was shared by a couple of friends, and then by me today.

It's called the semicolon project.

What is it?

the
semicolon project 

 

"A Semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The Author is you and the sentence is your life".


On April 16th, join The Semicolon Project and thousands of people in the effort to raise public awareness against Depression, Anxiety, Self-harm and Suicide.

By writing a semicolon on your wrist, you are making a promise to yourself that it is ok to reach out and seek for help.

Join the fight and stand up for YOU or anyone you know who has depression, anxiety, has self harmed or has contemplated suicide and help our peers, our friends and our family know that we speak up for them and that we stand up against Mental Health and the stigma that’s attached to it.

Together, we can save a life". 

This speaks to me.  A lot of people who know me, but not everyone who does, know that in 2010 I spent 8 days in the psychiatric ward at our local hospital due to severe, debilitating depression and suicidal tendencies.

8 days, two admissions, spread out over the course of several weeks, because the first admission "didn't take",  as I like to put it.


I probably just outed myself to many people who didn't know that, especially on FB.  Some of them will probably be very judgy about it. That's ok.  One of my very favorite sayings is "What other people think of me is none of my business".

Oh and also, I don't give a rat's A** how you feel about it. It's my story to share.  Or not to share. My life, my decision.

I won't go into detail about what the psych ward was like(if you sincerely want to know details feel free to e-mail me. It's not a secret.  Just too private to go into here).

This I can say: 
Nurses in the psych ward are angels.
Truly. 
Kind and compassionate, patient and understanding.  I was lucky enough to have some wonderful nurses during my stay there, most of them male.

One of the weekends I spent there was Mother's Day.  The hardest day of the year for me back then, although Mother's Day was only a very small part of the reasons I ended up there.  Again, too long to get into.

Why am I sharing this?

Because I want other people who feel alone to know that they aren't.  There are other people out there who have the same feelings.  Married people.  People with kids.  People with jobs( I had two jobs during that time period).

 People who look "normal" on the outside, but who still sometimes struggle greatly on the inside.

I look back on the person I was then and I don't even recognize her.  I've come so far since then.  But during those bleak days I didn't think I would make it through.  Didn't think I *could* make it.

Do I worry that those dark thoughts might return some day?  Yes and No.  I'm afraid they could return, and I'll feel the anguish I felt back then again, but on the other hand I know I have better coping skills.  A better support system too.  If they were to come back I could deal with them.  They wouldn't be so overwhelming. 

I still have depression.  Sometimes it's bad.  Sometimes it's not.  More not these days, which I am grateful for.  Even so, I have learned not to take the good days for granted.  I know that they are usually followed by some bad days, which is ok.  It's the nature of the beast that is depression.

It's one of the reasons I love movements like The Semicolon Project. It brings awareness of mental illness, and seeks to destroy some of the stigma that goes along with it.


Today is my mom's birthday.  I'm always surprised that it affects me emotionally, even after all this time.  I think the combination of that and Mother's Day makes me feel a bit weepy this time of year.

I cried like a baby after watching that FB video about the couple who hid the fact that they were having twins from everyone they knew and then surprised  them when they came to visit them at the hospital.

Google it. It's great. 

Unless you are still suffering the grief from a lost adoption , or struggling because you want so badly to be a mother but it isn't happening(or didn't happen). 

Then I don't recommend watching it, because it pretty much sucks. :)



Happy Birthday Mom.  Even though we don't talk about you much anymore, you are still missed.

Friday, January 02, 2015

So Cal snowpocalypse




Ok, every person I know who does not live in CA and regularly gets heaps of snow every winter are going to laugh their asses off at this post and will probably stop reading after a few photos.  

So this is for the rest of you.  

After driving home late Monday night, I got up early on Tuesday and went into work.  There was rain predicted for later in the evening.  After work I was anxious to get home, as the road I drive on can be a pain in the rear in terms of traffic when it rains.  

I stopped at the store to pick up a few things and then was on my way. 

The temperatures were predicted to be cold enough that there could possibly be some snowfall between midnight and three a.m.   I was quite excited about that, as I live in southern CA where it doesn't snow, and now I find myself living in a place where we could have some snow flurries now and again.  

All day long at work I proclaimed how much I wished it would snow, even though it would only be a few snow flurries in the middle of the night.  

That's what we were expecting:  snow flurries. 

I got on the road about 6:15, but instantly ran into trouble, due to a traffic accident.   Sat parked on the highway for 30 minutes.  Finally that accident cleared and there was a secondary accident, blocking the road completely(people are idiots).  I sat parked for another hour before the road finally cleared enough for me to get home.  It had just started raining when I pulled into my driveway, close to 8:00.  

We had some pretty heavy rain for an hour.  I was obsessively checking the outdoor thermometer to see if the temperature had dropped enough to see some snow flurries. 


Finally around 9:30, some light snow flurries started to fall.  I was super excited. I took some pictures, an ooooo'd and ahhhhh'd, then around 10:00 went to bed,  telling joe to wake me if there was a lot more snow, so I could take more pictures, as it was sure to be gone by morning.   

Around 10:30 he comes in and tells me to come look, there had been quite a bit more snow.  

Woo hoo!  Look at all that snow! Exciting!  Lol. 

About fifteen minutes after taking this photo, our electricity went out.  Bummer!  It was a cold night.  

We piled a bunch of blankets on our bed and went to sleep, convinced the power would come back on during the night.  

I set the alarm on my phone to be safe, and that's what woke me on Wednesday morning.  Power was still out. House was very cold.  Bummer.  


Went to look out the window and the window was all frosty.  How wintery!  I thought.   

I went out to the kitchen to look out the window and see how much snow had stuck, but there was a tree blocking the window.  Uh oh.  Went to look out the sliding glass door and saw this 

Well that can't be good.  I went and changed into my scrubs so I could go to work and called for joe to help clear the tree branch away from the door so I could leave.  

Joe said "I don't think you are going to go to work today". I said of course I am!  It's just a little snow.  Help me clear the deck!

So we pull the tree branch off of the deck and this is what we see



What the what?!  That's a heck of a lot more than a few snow flurries!    

I'm still insistent that I'm going to be going to work.  Joe tells me to grab my jacket(I'm in my scrubs), we are taking a walk.  

I was like "fine, but we have to hurry because I have to get to work!"

Ok, that's a lot of snow. 



Ooooooo....so pretty!
We start walking out towards the road, and see this:






Dude.  That's really a lot of snow.  

Finally get to Ortega highway and see this:
Yeah.  Road is closed.  I'm not going anywhere.   And we had no cell service, so I couldn't even call in to let them know I wasn't able to come in.  I just didn't show.   I felt terrible.  I've never done that before.  But what was I gonna do?  There weren't a whole lot of choices at that point.  On top of the road being closed, there was a huge tree blocking the entrance to our complex.  

It turns out that about three dozen people who were on the road only about an hour after I arrived home were stranded on the highway due to the snow and had to spend the night in their cars.  So scary!  I'm so grateful I made it home when I did.  

We lost quite a few of our beloved oak tree branches.  
No one was going in or out of there.  Might as well settle in for a snow day.  

Sounds fun right?

I agree.  Except for one thing.  We had no electricity.  So no heat.  And our water comes from a well with an electric pump, so no water either.  And no cell service.  Pretty much stranded.  

As the day went in it got colder and colder.  Finally by three O' clock it was very cold in the house and I just couldn't see spending our New Year's Eve freezing with no water, so we called our friends who lived up the hill and asked if we could stay the night with them.  They agreed and we were happily on our way, with Leeloo in tow.

By that time they had cleared the roads.  They were not open to anyone but residents, so we were able to make our way to their house on icy roads.  I white knuckled it all the way there, our tiny car slipping and sliding on the icy spots.  


But we made it.  Whew!

Well, almost.  We got right up to their driveway and got stuck in the snow.  Oops.  That's our friend graciously digging our car out so we could go home.  Joe threw his back out and  was unable to help.  


They got quite a bit more than we did.  It was so beautiful!

They had heat, and power and internet and they fed us delicious food.  We are so lucky to have them as friends, and so close by!  We spent the night, and then the next day sledding and playing in the snow.  



We didn't want to overstay our welcome, and our electricity was supposed to be coming back on later that day, so we headed home.  We got home and the power was not back.  Still no heat.  Or water. Or lights.  The water or lights I can do without.  We had candles.  And bottled water.  The heat was the killer. It was 36 degrees.  Inside.   36 degrees.  We were so cold.  Very, very cold.  Electric company was still promising electricity back on by ten, so we hunkered down with three layers of clothing and tried to make the best of it.  But ugh!  It was cold!  

Here we are bundled up on the couch, trying to make the best of it.  

We finally made our way to the bedroom, with four blankets on the bed and our body heat and tried to tough it out.  It was cold.  The electricity never did come back on and it sucked.  

Joe drove me to work just so he could sleep in our car since he has to work tonight and the car was ten times warmer than our house.  I felt bad leaving Leeloo there but we left her tons of blankets to cuddle up in.  

Finally when we got home at 5:00, the electricity had come back on.  Hallelujah.  
I feel like I didn't get to enjoy the snow at our house, due to the lack of power.  It's almost melted now.  

Many of my friends kept saying, it's beautiful!  Enjoy it!  And I agree.  It was beautiful.  But without electricity, or heat, and not even use of the toilet due to lack of water, it took most of the fun out of it.

Like I said before, I know this story about 8-12 inches of snow is hilarious to those of you who have ten feet of snow on a regular basis during the winter.  

But you are equipped for that.  This is southern CA.  We are not equipped. 

As far as anyone could tell, this area has never seen that much snow. 

We had to have the marines bring in snow plows.  Because we don't have any.  They had to drop off search and rescue teams via helicopter because we couldn't clear the roads to get any in.  

We don't have back up generators.   If the electricity goes out,  the water does too.  The electric company did not know how to repair wires that were downed due to ice, and had to bring in repair people from other parts of the state to help.  

It added quite a bit of time to the repair times.  

We just aren't prepared for anything above a few snow flurries at the altitude we live. 

I have learned quite a bit, and although this is unlikely to happen again, I'm putting together an emergency kit.  Mostly just to help combat the cold temperatures should the power and water go out again. 

 Because what I've  learned is that I'm pretty adaptable without amenities like lights and water,  but I have a hard time adjusting to being truly cold.  Both joe and I were miserable and unprepared the two nights it was 35 degrees inside.  It was no fun.

But it is something we need to be prepared for living where we do now, and some good life lessons were learned.  
Hindsight is 20/20.  

It was a very exciting New Year and not one we will likely forget!

Sausalito

Let's see, where did I leave off?

Oh that's right, the last day of our vacation.  We ventured into Sausalito, along with a thousand other people on Christmas break. 

Sausalito is such a charming little town, right on the bay with a beautiful view of the city.  

Took some touristy photos and did a little shopping. 

Cute name for a bike rental place

Cool stairs leading right into the ocean.  It was a little chilly for swimming. 

Sees-sters


 Elephant statue in the town square. 




And fountain



This guy was balancing rocks overlooking the bay. He was very good! I have no idea how he gets the rocks to stay like that.  

We headed home to make a yummy dinner and hang out by the fire, and get ready to pack it up to leave in the morning(sob!) 

We got a very late start home, as I didn't want to leave.  That put us home around almost ten o' clock Monday night.  I went right to bed so I could be at work bright and early the next day.  

I was ready to settle back into the daily grind, with a day off in a couple of days.  Little did I know that the next day would begin an adventure we had never experienced before. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pacifica

Yesterday we took the dogs down to a beach in Pacifica to watch the sun set.  It was so beautiful.  I took about a hundred pictures.  I tried to narrow them down but I didn't really.  Sorry. 
















Great ending to a wonderful day.