Decisions Decisions Decisions

Life happens whether we like it or not. Unexpected tragedies, unanticipated relationships, and unprecedented adventures unveil a life that is undeniably unique to its owner making life and living is  a very strange thing. We have all of these expectations set upon us by society, our families, and ourselves. We have plans and make promises in our minds and hearts. All of these things can be changed by one decision. A path can be altered in a moment.

I am a person that is afraid to make decisions. I worry about the outcome. I struggle with disappointing those I care about most, especially after the three years I have had. I have always been great at finding a positive after a decision is made but the anguish leading up to said decision is one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. Seriously, from what to order for lunch to choosing a fabric for a costume to deciding to get a divorce, I wait until the last possible moment when there is no other choice but to make a decision to actually make a decision. I have said decision waaaay to many times in this paragraph… decision, decisions, decided, decision….blah… done.

Last year, as is explained in previous posts, I had to make a series of difficult decisions. Looking back, I am confident and stand by them. I was just mostly afraid of what would be on the other side; Loneliness, guilt, hopelessness, depression, the list can go on. Frankly, fear is what was crippling me, and more specifically the fear of the unknown.

After taking that leap to have a healthier life for myself, I found that the grass was greener on the other side. Do I still want the best for my ex-husband? Absolutely. Do I regret the last three years of my life? Not at all. I learned, and after making a decision that I thought would kill me… I lived… I am living again.

My friends and family have been the best support system. I am so grateful to have them back in my life and to add new ones. Which brings me to my newest unexpected adventure.

After everything happened and I was getting my footing back, friends started talking about me dating again. I told them all that I wanted to wait at least 5 years because I don’t think my heart can take it. I want to focus on myself and not worry about having a relationship. Then one fateful night, that paradigm started to change. I was invited to karaoke by a friend. Fun! So I went. I met some of her co-workers and had a great time. As I was leaving I got a text from her. She said that one of the guys had a crush on me and thought I was cute. I didn’t really read too much into it because of my 5 year vow. A week later she gave me his number and him my number. I made a decision that would set my life on a different path, I text him. We then chatted for almost 2 days straight and two months later we are still going strong.

Am I scared? Yes. Am I excited? Yes. Am I glad that I took a risk? Absolutely. Have I already freaked out multiple times? Duh!

We made a decision together to just go where ever this relationship takes us. No matter how slow, we want to enjoy the ride. That is the second best decision I have ever made… to not decide. The first? To go on an epic road trip next week. ^_^

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You could be happy…

I thought that the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach would subside by now. Alas, it lingers.

Yesterday, I made a decision that will alter my future forever.

Yesterday, wasn’t a circumstance that I found myself in, it was a choice I made.

Yesterday, I found myself alone in a courtroom surrounded by strangers.

Yesterday, I found my voice, my big girl voice, even though it had to pass through a quivering and shaky mouth.

The injunction hearing was in the morning. As I saw my husband in his orange jumpsuit walk into that room, no amount of mental preparation could keep my emotions intact. Tears escaped my eyes before my breath could catch up.  Hearing his voice broke my heart in so many pieces I thought the whole world could hear the crash. That was the day I started my goodbye.

Three months ago when I decided that hiding my husband’s illness was not helping him get better, it opened the floodgates of truth. It allowed me to be honest with myself. It unveiled secrets. It  set me free from my denial of the last three years.

However, no matter how liberated I feel, I still feel an overwhelming amount of pain. The last three years haven’t been ideal, but they haven’t been miserable. I can remember sweet moments, hilarious times, and love. The other side of the last 3 years were filled with worry, violence, alcohol, drugs, lies and sickness.

Witnessing bad patterns and cycles were my life.

Instability became expected.

Days prior to the hearing I was listening to Snow Patrol and this song came up…

That song embodies how I feel.

I truly want the best for my husband. I also wanted to be the best for my husband. Living in denial was possibly the worst thing I could ever do for him. I wish I could turn back the clock. Unfortunately, I do not specialize in time travel.

There are some people in my life that are telling me the type of person I am. Either praising me  or scolding me for what I am doing. Ultimately, I am not a saint, a martyr, or heartless… I am a human.

I am not saying goodbye because I don’t love him. I am saying goodbye because I do. I want him to be happy. I want him to be healthy. I want so desperately to be there to share it with him…

 

But if I am honest with myself, I know without a shadow of a doubt that this situation is not allowing either of us to live. So now I will put on my big girl panties to perfectly accessorize my big girl voice and stand here and take whatever consequences come my way.

Dedicated to Snugglebot:

“You could be happy I hope you are.You made me happier than I’d been by far…
Do the things that you always wanted to without me there to hold you back. Don’t think, just do.
More than anything I want to see you go take a glorious bite out of the whole world.”*
~Gob Gob.

 

(*Lyrics and Music by Snow Patrol, “You Could be Happy”)

 

The point of no return

I have put off posting this post for a while now because I don’t know what to say. I still don’t know, but I am hoping that as I type the words will fall into place.

On Sunday, September 30, 2012, my entire world turned upside down. Over the last few weeks I had finally gotten to the point with my husband’s illness that I could handle. I was happy, I was hopeful, I was ready for anything… or so I thought.

The week leading up to Sunday was a little bit more difficult than usual. He decided to fall into an old habit of using cough medicine to get high. I thought that was in issue that needed to be brought up to the psychiatrist. So I did. Along with this confession came me breaking down for the first time in front of the doctors. I was worried for him. I want him to get better so badly. After we spoke about it, the doctors brought me in separately. We discussed that they noticed that he is showing signs that he doesn’t want to get better. They told me that he is very sick and there comes a point where I have to decide what is too much. They warned me of the many tough decisions that were coming my way.

I was still so hopeful that he would pull through this and he would be back on the road for recovery.

Saturday came another trial. He decided to get a bottle of wine. I pointed out to him that he cannot drink because of the medication he is taking. It makes the medicine not work. He still decided to. He told me that he would only drink once a week so he can have a level of normalcy. Despite my protest, he drank the bottle.

Then Sunday happened. He decided that Sunday is actually the beginning of a new week so he would get 3 beers and drink while I was at work. I told him that this was starting to look like an old pattern. I went into work to finish sewing costumes for a show I was working on. While I was there he came to my work. He was not being very nice and started getting belligerent. I decided to call his parents. As I was talking to his mother, he became more and more upset and loud. I ended up having to lock myself in an office to talk to her. Meanwhile he is pounding on the door. He isn’t saying anything violent, he just wanted in. I ended the phone call and opened the door. He said I was ruining his family, I was a monster and he wanted a divorce. He then slapped my face twice. I was stunned. He felt no remorse.

He left the building and I locked it down. I called his mom and told her. I called my mom and she started on her way to me. When she and my sister got to me he was nowhere to be found. We went to the apartment (which is less than a half a mile away). There was no sign of him when I got there. I called the psychiatrist. I was told to immediately call the police. They found him walking back from the liquor store with a bottle of vodka and took him into custody.

I. was. a. basketcase.

Those tough decisions the psychiatrist spoke about have arrived, full force. Nothing about these decisions are easy. Everything is complicated by his illness. I don’t want to leave him, I love him. I also know that I can’t enable this behavior. He has nowhere to go. I can’t afford private facilities for him. I can’t afford to take care of him, because I will lose my job if something like this happens again.

I feel like I am trapped between my brain and my heart. The logical side of me knows that he cannot get better while with me. I am not trained to take care of him. Also, if he doesn’t want to get better then he won’t. This is no longer just schizophrenia, it is addiction. On the other hand, how can I let someone I love be homeless? How can I turn my back on him? How can I live with the guilt? How can I move on in my life, while this person I care so deeply about needs help?

It has been 19 days that I have been away from him, and I still don’t know what to do. I can’t go back. I have to make decisions and fast. I am trying to stay optimistic but no matter which choice I make, someone will get hurt.  I am past the point of no return and I don’t know which way to turn.

Perception is Reality

One day when I was in high school, I was enlightened with three  words, “Perception is reality.” Little did I know that those words, that revelation, the specific arrangement of three relatively ordinary words would be getting me through life.

That phrase’s meaning has grown and evolved as I have grown and evolved as a human being. It was first meant to help me maintain a positive attitude. That if I perceived the optimistic outlook on a situation or circumstance then that would be my reality of it. Not that my circumstance changed, but that I had a positive perception of it.

Then after I graduated, I also learned that my perception of people is tied in with this phrase. My family always taught me to see people the same regardless of where they came from, what they look like, or what their reputations are. My mother, the wisest person I know,  always taught me to come to my own conclusions about people and not base it on rumors or what other people think. She wanted us to love people, not love popularity or favoritism. This is invaluable advice.

After I got out of the bubble called “high school” I was able to put this to the test.  I met so many people that changed my mind about stereotypes that I had never even realized I was judging. For instance, in the small town I grew up in sexual orientation was not something typically discussed. Who am I kidding? Sex wasn’t really discussed unless it was to say, “sex=bad” or “sex=wrong”. When sexual orientation was discussed it was more tied to the idea of homosexual, bisexual, transgender as “issues” not linked with people, human beings, fellow members of society. I can say with full confidence that I never hated anyone in this category, I was just ignorant. So my reality for so many years was a false perception. The more I developed friendships and bonds with people of a different sexual orientation than me, the more I realized that I should never view someone with a blanket statement.   We are all humans and deserve to be treated as such. Not favored over others because of specific trait or treated poorly because of the same, but treated as an equal. Seeing people in their individuality has opened my eyes to see the world differently. My reality is to see the person, not the label.  This includes more than just sexual orientation… height, weight, religion, attractiveness, intelligence, mental state,  talent, or any other grouping that might exist.

Having learned that lesson, I believe that the evolution of thought continues. My husband thinks differently than anyone else I know. His perception is his reality. My reality is different from his most of the time. Does my perception make my reality any more real than his? No. Am I saying that he should be taken off his medication? No. Am I saying that his hallucinations are tangible? No. Am I saying he should stop treatment? No. Am I saying that he is right? It is possible. In all of the absurd delusions, hallucinations, thoughts, and conclusions he reaches, it may be entirely possible that he is the only one in the world that has it right. Then again, he may not. Who am I, though, to judge him? Who am I to stifle his creativity? Who am I that my reality is superior to his? My goal is to help him find balance and peace in his thoughts, not label him as crazy and never listen to a word he says again.

Every wonderful change in the world, every discovery, every invention would not be possible without thinking outside the box. Who knows, the world may be forever changed because my husband was born to think this way. Scratch that… I know at least one world was forever changed, mine.

Mission: Smart Eats

I am the first to admit that I am obsessed with the Food Network. I am also first to admit that I am not a chef, cook, or great housewife (and I envy those who are). I just love food, and I love to eat. I hate diets and budgets because I feel like it prohibits me from eating and eating well.

However, I am here to challenge myself to change that paradigm. After everything that has happened in the last few months, I am the only one bringing in an income. That has caused me to be caught in a viscous cycle of wanting to eat everything, then realizing food costs money, then realizing I put on more weight, and on and on. Yes, I am an emotional eater… I am working on it!!!!

Last night I wanted to express my feelings in a creative way (instead of eating) only to find that I had a creative block. I was trying to work on a few projects and just wasn’t feeling inspired. So I decided to go to bed. Then I couldn’t  sleep because I was stressing about money, so I decided to write down our true budget. After seeing that the absolute max we can spend weekly on food AND miscellaneous (like tooth paste, oil changes, craft and sewing projects, etc.) is $60, I freaked out, then I decided to think creatively. That got me out of two funks. I got out of my creative rut and I am being proactive about my financial situation.

I am realizing more and more that I am like a kid. I have to trick myself into thinking that budgeting and such is a game or else I won’t do it!

I am on a mission to eat smart. I want to eat healthy. I want to be budget conscious. I want it to taste yummy. I want to eat smart. I realize that because I am not a chef or anything that I may not be successful 100% of the time, but I am excited to make those mistakes and learn from them. If I have any great recipes or great disasters I will be sure to share!!!

Goals- it is the journey, not the destination

I was inspired by one of my favorite blogs (abeautifulmess.typepad.com) to set simple goals.

With everything going on my husband and I  discussed setting small simple goals for ourselves to keep us from getting overwhelmed by life’s changes. What I love about this exercise is that it isn’t focused on the end result. It is meant to help make positive choices and changes which will result in a great end result anyway.

Here are the rules that were set before me:

1. Choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis. Choose things you may not otherwise get done, but that are not difficult to accomplish.

2. Do not choose result oriented goals, choose activity oriented goals. for example…. instead of “lose 10 pounds”, choose something like “eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day”. Get what I’m saying? Positive actions instead of just the end result!

3. Choose goals that are personal that you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them! They can be daily, weekly or one time experiences.

4. Choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished! It can be a small or large reward- it’s up to you.

5. Blog about your goals, each one as you achieve it and a big post when they are all finished before the new year!

Here are my 4:

  1. Exercise Daily. Whether it be taking a walk or jogging, doing a workout dance video (complete with Flashdance attire and minus the Jesse Spano, “so excited”), going to the gym, choreographing for the shows, I just want to do  something that requires more than my fingers to move across a key board. I get so caught up with how much weight I have gained or lost, and I want to just get caught up in living healthy. If I can do that then I will buy myself a sweet new outfit for new years.
  2. Organize thoughtfully and mindfully remain organized. Despite what many my think, I love to organize. I love to rearrange furniture. I love to catalog my craft stuffs. I love, love, love it. However, sometimes most of the time I can’t remain organized for very long. I have a wonderful filing system, I just don’t use it to its full potential. New motto, “file it, don’t pile it.” Every two weeks I can keep myself organized, I will invite a friend over for dinner, a movie, to hang out, whatev.
  3. Sew or create something everyday. There are so many craft blogs out there. This creates a problem. I am inspired to create but I get so focused on what I have to make or create for work that when I do have time to enjoy personal projects, I don’t have the energy. If I can fit in even the smallest project, or work on a big one for a short amount of time every day, then I will buy myself a new sewing table with my tax return.
  4. And last but not least… Take more pictures. I want to look back when I am older and remember these times. I love looking through old photographs of my mom. I want my future family, whatever that might entail, to have the same opportunity. We take pictures every once in awhile, but I want to really take that to another level. My reward to myself will be to once a month look through the pictures and print some of the best, not just save them to the computer or upload them to instagram or facebook, but PRINT THEM.

Beating Odds like Abe

After having a very dramatic past few months, I kind of feel uneasy about the sudden calm. I am soooooo glad that my husband is doing better. It isn’t that. The doctor said that he has made a lot of improvement from week to week, and I am more than happy that he is.

I guess my uneasiness stems from fear. When he was having active hallucinations, acting impulsively, and getting out of hand I was so enveloped in it that my main focus was his health, getting help, finding out what is wrong, and the drama of it all. Now that it is identified and time to move forward, I don’t know which direction to go in.

I don’t know what our future holds. I don’t know if we should have kids or when it would be a good idea. I don’t know if , when or where he should get a job. I don’t know how we are going to pay bills. I don’t know if we should start the long process of disability. I don’t know if I should get a second job. I don’t know anything about what our future holds. That frightens me to my core.

I never envisioned my life to be like this, then again, who does? It isn’t that I am not happy, I just feel lost. I feel confused. I feel overwhelmed.

I have been reading a lot about the job situation for schizophrenics and I need to stop. There is a lot out there saying that  people with this illness can’t do much with their life. I refuse to believe that. I had have high hopes for us. I know we are meant to beat the odds. I have always known that I will beat the odds regardless of what statistics say. It just isn’t easy when you look at your bank account and the stack of bills and no one is winning, or when your friends are pregnant or adopting and you don’t know if you ever will get to feel that joy, when you see people going on vacations and you don’t think it is safe, let alone, affordable.

However, despite all of this fear I have to stay strong. To beat the odds you must fight the odds. There is going to have to be some adjusting. If Abraham Lincoln can have a spouse with schizophrenia and rise above it, so can I. As this great man once said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

Although fear has a way of creeping in, I should always to remember to live life. Living life to the fullest is the only way I can ensure that statistics will not define me and my family.

Good, Bad, and Just Plain Different

It is funny how one moment in the midst of hardship can change your perspective.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to the psychiatrist for his first follow up since he was hospitalized. On the way there, my husband was having a rough time. He was saying that my family and I were out to get him and wanted him dead. He started smoking a cigarette, and said that as the cigarette was burning he was burning my mom and me. He kept saying pretty awful things about people I love, including himself. I stayed calm, but inside, my heart was breaking.

I tried to ponder on the day prior instead. It was the simplest things that made that day special. I got home from work and my husband really wanted to go to Wawa to get a mashed potato and chicken strips bowl that I had gotten a few days before. He said that he had a craving for it all day. Wawa is literally 2 minutes down the road. However, that day had so much traffic due to a huge car chase resulting in weapons being fired and large accidents (no one was seriously injured). So everyone was rerouted. A trip that was only two minutes down the road ended up being a 35 minute traffic adventure filled with dancing, singing, and great conversation. When we finally got to Wawa, we found that they were out of potatoes. We both just looked at each other and laughed, hard. We continued to laugh throughout the process. I loved that moment. It was so simple, yet so needed. the thought of  that day got me through the difficult car ride to the doctor.

When we got to the doctor’s office and he was doing better. The doctor saw him and decided to increase his medication dosage. He said that he thought my husband was improving and that he could even see a physical difference in the way he was carrying himself. I was elated. Being in the thick of it, I can see the baby steps but not always how they are adding up.

We then discussed different episodes my husband had over the past week or so, including when my husband decided to open the car door as I was driving because he no longer wanted to go to my mom’s house, how he will wake me up in the middle of the night to show me flying saucers, how he thinks the results of the election are solely on his shoulders, how he thinks people are messing with our money and tapping our phones, etc.  That is when the doctor changed my entire perspective.

He said, “You can think whatever you want, you can say whatever you want and there is nothing wrong with that. You just think differently from others. The only thing you need to worry about is your actions.”

I realized in that moment that during this entire time I have been waiting, hoping, praying for my husband to think differently. I have wanted him to be “normal” again. I was measuring each day by how “normal” he acted. Yes, the medication will help curb this “odd” behavior, but at the end of the day there is nothing wrong with thinking differently. The only thing we need to worry about is safety, not if the majority of the population thinks his thoughts are “normal”.

No, I don’t like it when he gets paranoid, or when he thinks I am dead, or when he changes his mind every few minutes, BUT he is entitled to his thoughts. He doesn’t verbally or physically abuse me. He may think I am trying to kill him but he always says that he loves me, that it isn’t my fault and he is trying to rescue me. I get so impatient because I don’t understand. I get so worried about what other people are going to think. I should not worry about that or get mad for not understanding.

I am now trying to shift my focus. I shouldn’t be trying to make him think differently, I should be encouraging good decisions and thoughtful actions. Safety should be the concern, not that he has a mind uniquely his own. I also have to stand strong in my thoughts. I can’t get caught up in his. This is not to say I should feed into his delusions and hallucinations.

By allowing him his thoughts while maintaining my own, we will create an atmosphere of balance, safety and growth.

Our life isn’t just good, it isn’t just bad, it is just plain different and I am perfectly fine with that.

My four letter word

Help. My entire life, “help” has been a nasty four letter word. I cringe at the thought of asking for help or, heaven forbid, needing help. I am the girl that doesn’t think guys are the only ones that can do heavy lifting. I can open my own door. I can take care of myself. I can pay my own bills. I can do anything a man, an older person, a younger person or another woman can do. I hate asking for help with costumes or props. I hate asking my mom, authority figure, or friend for advice. All in all, I hate asking anyone for anything that I can do myself. I want to have all the answers or find all the answers myself.

This so called strength I think I exhibit has turned into one of my biggest weaknesses. Independence is great. However, doing everything comes with a price. That price is loneliness and it will cost me my own health.

For two months I went to work and church, talked with co-workers, friends and family, all the while remaining silent about what was going on at home with my husband. I thought I would only worry our family, cause co-workers to doubt my ability to work efficiently, I didn’t think my friends would understand, and I thought everyone would judge him, me, us.

The moment I opened up and told someone, I was surprised. Yes, there was worry and lack of understanding but there was also something unexpected… support. Where it is still very difficult to ask for help, I am finding that I NEED to. As much as I want to be, I will NEVER be Super Woman. I don’t have all the answers.

Lately, I have been trying delve deep and figure out why I hate that four letter word. What I have found is that I refuse to be a burden. I know that everyone else has their own stuff they are going through. Why would I want to add my issues to that? I don’t feel like I deserve other people’s time and energy. I feel like I should be able to do this on my own.

Then I realized that by having that mindset I am saying that I am the only one that has compassion or cares. No, I should not become too needy or co-dependent, but I am not giving people enough credit. Just as I LOVE to help others, there might, just might, be other people out there that feel the same. I may not deserve a ton, but that doesn’t mean that the people I love don’t have hearts. When I allow others to help me when they want to, I am allowing them the joys and blessings of helping and giving to others.

At the end of the day, I still have to hardest time admitting I need help and bringing myself to ask for it. However, maybe I can train myself to view the word “help” as just another normal word with four letters instead of a four letter word. Love, hope, gate, doll, form, help.