Overwhelmed

I’ve always been the kind of person without a strong support system. I’ve always known this to be true and for the most part, I guess I’ve been okay with it. I have always done my own thing and made sure I could do what needed to be done even at great personal sacrifice. It’s just who I am. I have always desired to have the support system others have, with their great extended families and wonderful friends always there with a cup of coffee and a shoulder to cry on, but it’s never been a reality for me. That’s not the way I was raised.

I was raised in a world where you really could only count on yourself. Sure, my parents were there, but not the way I needed them to be and I learned early on what they could and couldn’t handle. I filtered and censored so they didn’t have to be more involved. I still do it. I use this filtering system I’ve developed to keep people at bay. To not let anyone in and that turns into a lack of support system when you need one. It’ s a system that has protected me my entire life, but also makes things really lonely sometimes.

You see, Dear Readers, I’m 32 weeks pregnant today. Give or take a few weeks, in eight weeks, I will be the mom of three children. A beautiful 8-yr old girl, an active 5-yr old boy and a newborn baby. We have next to nothing prepared. It’s been five years since our last baby. Our car seats are outdated, we needed a new port-a-crib, cloth diapers, clothes. I mean, we are starting from scratch on this. That doesn’t really bother me so much as the jealousy that pops up from time to time. You see, I have a friend who is also pregnant with her third baby… Her third baby in four years… More accurately, her third son when her eldest just turned four a week ago… The support she has from her family and friends amazes me. Even after having three boys in as many years, she was still surprised with a baby shower and registered for baby items and the works. She is being celebrated in her pregnancy, yet again. I’m not. It’s been five years since we’ve had an infant and I don’t anticipate a thing from other people. We registered, but only to keep track of the things we don’t have and need to get in the next 6 weeks. (And did I mention, I also need to get our homeschool curricula, for both of the older kids, my son’s fifth birthday in July, and my husband will be leaving for a month long training exercise in two weeks?)

I know this is part of the whole system I have developed and that we are far from our family and friends, but so is she. Being Army families, neither of us live close to our families and yet, hers still makes the effort for her. That makes my heart heavy and my eyes fill with tears. I’ve never had that kind of love. Never been shown that level of support or even kindness… I am truly happy for her to have that kind of support, particularly since she’s had some issues this go round and can no longer travel, per doctors orders. I am also truly saddened for myself. For my children, for my family. We don’t have that level of support. Never have.

My sister-in-law gave birth to her second daughter last fall. She had a baby shower in Texas, where her Army husband is stationed, and a small party after the baby was born in California where she is from. Her second daughter in four years.

Most days, I’m so happy to be pregnant. We are having a home birth this time and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s been a rough ride, but we are almost to the finish line and I’m so excited to meet my newest little man.

I don’t mean to sound petty. I don’t want to be jealous of these ladies and they deserve the support that they have.

I just wish someone had my back, too.

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September 11, 2013

I know it’s late, but that’s how I roll…

September 11, 2001:

I sat in my therapists office as he railed on about worry and fear, telling me: “don’t worry about yesterday, its in the past and you can’t change it. Don’t worry about tomorrow, it isn’t here. Focus on today only.”

I’ve often joked about how my life could have been so different if I had actually taken his advice and focused on “today only”. My young, impressionable mind could have become royally obsessed with the Towers, the airplanes, the people.

Instead, I still fear the past, I still worry about the future and I can’t relax today. Instead, it took me years to process what I’d see and heard that day. The conflicting actions of the people in my life who were supposed to help me through it. Viewing that much hate and that much love and still so much indifference all in a span of a few hours left me with a lot of confusion.

Even further down the years, I’m married to a soldier. He’s fought in the wars that started that day, as has his older brother and so many other men and women. Not all of them come home. When you look at the death counts (a phrase that shouldn’t even exist), do you just count those in the Towers, the ones in the airplanes and the ones in the Pentagon? Or do you remember that so many more have died as a result of that day? Each soldier, contractor, or civilian who has died in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan has died because of what happened September 11, 2001.

Let’s remember this, when we look at other war-torn nations and think we can help. Decades ago, we thought we could help. Today, we mark the anniversary of the day that help bit us in the ass.

Let’s remember those who lost their lives because our government focused too much on today and not enough about our future. Let’s remember those people who lost their lives because a small group of anti-Americans decided a plane would make a great weapon of mass destruction. Let’s remember the soldiers who have lost their lives taking the fight to another country, so our children can grow up without seeing bodies in the streets or living in fear of being murdered in their sleep as a message to the town.

Let’s remember.

Reunions

My high school reunion was this past weekend.

I didn’t go.

I spent Saturday morning at a farmer’s market with my family. Spent the afternoon grilling fresh cut steaks and baking fresh veggie with my husband. Saturday night was full of Doctor Who episodes and snuggling with my husband.

I had planned to submit a photo or two for the slideshow since I wouldn’t be in attendance, but, unsurprisingly, I never heard back from the slideshow coordinator. I’m used to that and given the attitudes of those on the Reunion Facebook page, I haven’t missed much and most haven’t matured much in the past ten years.

In honor of my ten year high school reunion, I’m going to share the post I originally wrote on the topic, last summer. The irony of having my reunion “pass me by” is that I was in Florida for a week just this month, just nowhere near my “hometown”…

 

You knew me when?

Rainbows and Unicorns

This is a difficult topic for me, explaining for my absence while I sort through it all. My husband returned from Afghanistan nearly two months ago and it hasn’t been like you see on TV. It’s not been like the other wives talk about. That running across the room, jumping into each others arms, crying real tears of joy and not letting go. That pure, ecstatic joy that you just can’t control. I want one thing clear before I go any further:

I love my husband. I do now, and always have, love him with all that I am. The thought of not having him in my life everyday kills me.

I just don’t always feel it. When my daughter was born, she was a complete stranger. I didn’t know her, so I couldn’t love her in that mystical way mother’s often describe. There was no instant bond. I had to learn to love her and who she was (and is) growing to become. The way she sucks her finger when she’s nervous. The way she takes showers so she doesn’t have to sit in the bath water. The height of her laughter and her ability to make checks with stripes work magnificently. I had to learn to love her. Taking this pressure off myself when my son was born, knowing I wouldn’t feel that “magical bond” with him, actually made bonding with him a lot easier. I put too much pressure on myself and I always fail.

This is what I did at homecoming. Every homecoming is different. You’ve got the couples that can’t wait to run down the stairs and jump into each others arms and kiss like nobody else exists and the world has stopped spinning just for them. You’ve got the couples who are quietly holding each other in the middle of the chaos, just standing there, silently thankful for answered prayers. You’ve got the couples who are loudly screaming and yelling and jumping around like tailgaters at the Super Bowl after a touchdown, and they don’t care who is around. You’ve got the wives who brought large signs. Babies who’ve never met their father. Children and parents running to their family member, their soldier, their hero. It’s very overwhelming for people like me…

It puts a lot of pressure to feel what they feel, to express those feelings the way that they do, try to find balance and not fall.

I chose to stand at the top of the bleachers waving my arms like a mad woman with the kids on the steps in front of me doing the same. It still took him a minute to find us, but it was worth it. The hard part is that I felt very little for my husband in that moment. There was no “heart knowledge” of the love we have shared for the past seven and a half years. I know in my head that I love him very much, but in that moment, he was a stranger. I was more excited to see him with the kids. Holding them, kissing them, just talking to them. I didn’t care to talk to him myself. Holding him, kissing his face, none of that mattered to me. My children had their father and that is all that mattered. I put pressure on myself and I failed. I expected something different than I had experienced before and I shouldn’t have.

To put this into perspective, since I got married in November 2005, I have seen my mother for a total of 14 days. Three days when my daughter was born in 2006. One week when my sister graduated high school in May 2006. Four days when Little Brother was nearly two, in 2011. I feel very little love towards my mother. In fact, if not for her being my mother, I’m not sure I’d ever have contact with her. When I don’t have constant contact with someone in a meaningful way, I lose my ability to genuinely care for them. This is what happened during the deployment. Nine months of my breath catching when the doorbell rang. Nine months of my blood going cold when an unfamiliar car appeared in my driveway. Nine months of stealing myself for the worst, remaining brave for the kids and putting on a happy face… Nine months of building a wall around my heart to protect myself from the worst outcome possible…

That’s not an easy thing to tear down.

We’ve been working on it since he got home, but in those first few days it was like living with a stranger. We had both changed so much and neither of us knew what to really expect. Nothing seemed to be going right. In the past few weeks, there have been long nights, intimate discussions, and a lot of tears. Old hurts are finally starting to heal and we are coming together as a couple again. It should be romantic. The idea of “falling in love” all over again. In truth, it sucks and it hurts. This is my husband. He is the father of my children. I should have the heart knowledge of love for him. I should feel it after having him gone for so long, but I think I’m expecting too much of myself at this point. The “head knowledge” is there. I know there is no one else I would rather be with. There will never be anyone else. I’ve just got to take the time for my heart to catch up.

Hopefully, with old hurts beginning to heal, this will allow us to come together more fully and allow us to become more vulnerable with each other and that will help bridge that gap between the head and the heart. Some days are easier than others. He’ll do something or say something and all I feel is love. Other days, I truly struggle with the man beside me. The man that has promised to always stand beside me. The man that I promised to always stand beside.

We aren’t standing still anymore. We’ve moved. The ground beneath us has shifted and we are struggling to find where that leaves us once the ground goes still again.

For nine months, the ground shifted, twisted, and turned under our feet. For nine months, we were on different planets, shifting and twisting and turning in different ways. We’ve had two months to work on us. We’ve had some really horrible moments… We’ve had some really great times…

It’s called Marriage.

Thankful Thursday: May 2nd

I know I’m about two months behind on these. Life really has gotten in the way, and I do plan on catching them up, even if I have to write two or three a week.

Since today is our second birthday here at Notes From the Backseat, I thought I’d go back to just how this blog got started. I don’t think I’ve ever really gone over that other than to say it’s all my husband’s fault lol

Let me take you back in time about two and half years or so. I’m sitting in the passenger seat of our Honda CR-V as my husband drives along the interstate. In the backseat, Sissy sits behind daddy, Little Brother behind me and the cat, in her carrier, wedged between the car seats. Strewn about the floor board in both the back and front are duffel bags, diaper bags, crafting bags, supplies for the kids (such as snacks and DVDs). In the very back, a stadium stroller, a dog in a crate, two large suitcases and a bunch of pillows and blankets. On top of the vehicle was a large black bag, securely strapped down full of more travel supplies and all the Christmas presents, already wrapped and hiding from the kids so as not to ruin Santa just yet.

You see, this was Christmas 2010 and we were in the middle of a PCS from beautiful, sunny Southern California to bitter, cold, dreary Central Virginia. From forecasts like “78 and sunny” to “23 with a wind chill of 10”, we drove through snow, ice, rain, sunshine, warm and cold. Ten states in Five days. Not a trip I’d want to make in such a short time ever again.

During our trip, things would come up between the kids, or between us that just made us laugh. I used these to update my status on Facebook with the title “Notes from the Backseat #__” and had a great time with it. After a while, my husband decided that “Notes from the Backseat” would be a good blog title, though it would be a few more months before I actually started the blog, shortly before our last PCS to Middle Tennessee (which is actually on the Kentucky boarder, not sure how that works).

So in honor of our second birthday, and in being thankful for all this blog has done for my sanity over the past two years, I present:

THE BEGINNING

#1: “i can’t wait to tell people to look at my tooth hole”
#2: “ok mommy, go back to your seat please! Go!”
(This was while I was leaning over in my seat making sure her movie was playing in the right language lol)
#3: “can I get out of the car?”
“like now? Can’t you wait til we get to Albuquerque?”
“well, okay mommy”
#4: “mommy, you can close the wind”
(She meant the sunroof)
#5: “look mommy! Cows! Moo Moo Moo!” -then she proceeds to giggle for 3 minutes.
#6: “i see snow! The holidays are here!
#7: “no no no!”
“what?”
“you cannot drive in the snow!”
#8: “oops! It’s not working!”
#9: “look at all the snow! It’s turning white!”
#10: “a birthday! Is it my birthday? I love parties!”
#11: “op! You’re out! Op! You’re out! Op! Everyone’s out!”
(we think she’s playing tag by herself)
#12: “mommy, my tooth is growing up”
(I’m just glad its not growing upside down)
#12 (ish): “ok, kiddo, let’s look for some boots for you”
“And Dora too!”
“ok let’s look for some shoes instead.”
#14: “you rescued the marble! you’re my hero mommy!”
#15: “Did you steal my pizza?!”
“MMMmmmMMM” (courtesy of Little Brother, he ate it all)
#16: “mommy, I think I know why its upset.”
“why is it upset?”
“cuz its dark outside. Can I have a hug?”
(she misses her daddy already)
#17: “mommy, when the movie’s over, I can have poptarts”
(no she cant, but it was a nice try, wasn’t it?)
#18: “thank you so much, SuperHero Mommy!”
(after putting the post-it over the sensor on an automatic flusher)
#19: “mommy, the tv is big so now we can play ping pong!”
(daddy said when the tv got here she could play Kinect sports ping pong lol. It’s here and she wants to play)
#20: Daddy: “honey, do u want subway or should we try Bo Jangles?”
Sissy: “jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride in adkfirnuch eeeeeeh!”
Daddy: “i said Bo Jangles not Jingles Bells”
(she’s not quite sure what the words are LOL)

So there it is. The 20 status messages that got this blog started. My kids have always been a source of joy to me. Sure there are days that are long. There are days that are difficult. But all too often, the days are just days. Reflections of who we will be tomorrow and who we were yesterday. Today, while walking home from school, Sissy remembered about a trip she and daddy took to the beach during block leave last summer. Just the two of them, for an afternoon, went to the beach and made sand castles “and I got to knock them down!”

Today, I’m thankful for this blog.
For the people my words have touched.
For the enlightenment it has brought to others.
For the piece of mind it has brought to me.

I know where I belong

A family member regarding my unofficial diagnosis of Aspergers, back in September:

“Did the dr say you have aspergers? One of our best friends has it and so does [my wife] cousin and you don’t have any of the symptoms of it”

Well, let me explain:

1. I see words as pictures in my head. When you say something to me, the words that you use trigger certain images. I see words. Certain combinations of words create images that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the words themselves. For example, when someone uses the word “Google” most people think of “search engine”, or maybe the logo, not me. When I hear the word ‘Google’, I see an image search results page. That’s what my brain associates with “Google”

2. I hear colors. I don’t mean to say that I see a color and hear a sound associated with the color. In fact, it’s the opposite. Some sounds, but not all, resonate a spectrum of color.  Carrie Underwood songs, for instance, the color yellow weaves through my head. Not all of her songs, but most of them produce vivid shades of yellow. Bands like Pink Floyd and Journey create rainbows. The most beautiful bursting rainbows.

3. I rehearse every conversation I could possibly have for hours both out loud and in my head. This becomes problematic when people don’t respond as I anticipate they will. This throws off my ability to participate in the conversation, and I end up feeling foolish because of something I have said.

4.  I need time to recharge and that means I don’t always want to be around you, even if you came to visit from another state. I function much better in small groups where the flow of conversation is more easy to follow. The holidays are particularly difficult for me because there is so much going on. Between the extended family, cramming everyone around a tiny table to eat dinner, the kids making noise, the presents being opened, the excitement and the energy, I get depressed. It’s not that I’m sad or don’t enjoy the things that are going on around me. It’s just that I can’t process that much all at once.  My brain shuts off my emotional core when it’s too much to handle. When it doesn’t shut off, I become agitated, fidgety, and irritable. Because of this I have ruined many a holiday get-together with my husband’s family.

5. My brain doesn’t shut off. It’s actually a comfort to me when I have things on my mind. When my mind goes blank, I feel lost and empty inside. If I’m not counting letters on the shampoo bottle (something I have done since I was a kid and yes, I have a reason for it. I use the letters that appear the most often to form a new word. It sounds weird, but for as long as I can remember, I have done it.), anyway, if I’m not counting letters, I’m adding numbers or multiplying numbers, or subtracting, or dividing. I’m always doing something with words or numbers. I can’t just watch television because it doesn’t keep my brain actively engaged. I am always playing a game on my phone or my DS or messing around on Facebook. Even if all I’m doing is refreshing my FB news feed, I have to continue doing something. At bedtime, it is the worst. I often fall asleep playing Bubble Witch Saga on FB or playing Virus Buster (like Tetris) on my DS.

6. Despite keeping all the doors locked when I am home anyway, I check the locks on the doors and windows before I go to bed. Even if I haven’t used that door and it has not been unlocked in days, I still check it… Then I check them again because I have so much running through my head that I cannot remember whether or not I have checked the locks. I’m also afraid of the dark. I leave at least one light on in my bedroom, sometimes two, and sleep with music playing to avoid the silence, which I also am afraid of.

7. Eye contact is an issue for me. It makes me uncomfortable. Since I tend to be more naive than most, and take things literally, I don’t like looking people in the eye. They say “the eyes are the window to the soul”, well I don’t want to look at your soul. That seems like a very personal thing, and since I don’t want to see you in the shower, I also don’t want to look in your soul. I also don’t want you to see my soul. It’s broken, abused, torn, ratty and beautiful, and it’s mine. I don’t want to share it with everyone.

8. Everything is my fault. I can honestly rationalize nearly everything into being about me and making me the cause of a problem for someone else. I internalize everything, so when you make something come across like you are blaming me or that I am the cause, I rationalize that you must be correct. After all, you have a college degree, or work outside the home, or have a firm grasp of the Bible, or are just all around better at being a person than I am. When you are better than me, I must be doing it wrong or you wouldn’t be yelling at me or belittling me or talking about me behind my back. It has to be my fault.

9. I drive the same route every time I go to a familiar place. This isn’t just for convenience because, honestly, some of my routes are not the most convenient. They are long, they go out of the way, they might confuse you the first few times you drive with me, but I will continue to take them every time I leave the house because they are familiar. These are the routes that bring me the most comfort and allow me to drive to my intended destination with the least amount of stress and anxiety.

10. I obsess about everything people say to me. I’ve been obsessing about this for the past nine months. I started this blog post nine months ago and haven’t had the courage to finish or post it.

The list goes on and on. I don’t have to justify myself to you. I don’t have to get a piece of paper to prove to you what my diagnosis is. I’ve talked to my husband about this, and really, the only thing having a firm diagnosis does is gives me a piece of paper to ball up and throw at you during an argument. It doesn’t change my behavior, it doesn’t “fix” who I am. All it does is make you feel better about yourself. That piece of paper would do more for you than it would do for me. It would allow you to see that I’m not a brat, I’m not spoiled, I’m not ruining your holiday dinners. You ruined my vacation, you ruined my wedding, you ruined the chance for my children to take pictures with their father and made me feel like a bad mother. That’s not my fault. I am who I am. To quote an old Army saying “it is what it is”.

I am who I was born to be. You wont ever like me until you get to know me, but you only see the surface. You wont ever care to dig deeper. You wont care to get to know me. You don’t want to.

Slacker Blogging

I seem to have become depressed over the past week. I’ve been taking the death of the cat very hard…

As a result, my blog is suffering. Sorry guys.

I promise to get back with it this week. More Autism Awareness blogs and the 30 Day Drawing Challenge posts are coming this week. I will get caught up and finish on time. I promise.

I’ve sent my husband an email to help me stay on task and focus. I need things to keep me moving…

On a side note, I will be updating on my 29 Things list soon… I’m failing myself already, and it’s only April…