Thanksgiving in PA 2016

Thanksgiving in PA 2016

We traveled to Pennsylvania to spend Thanksgiving there. It’s my family’s year for Thanksgiving but given everything that’s happened, we really weren’t planning on going up. My dad called me a week or so before and told me that his wife and her kids would be away and that he’d be on his own, so that’s all I needed. We made an impromptu trip and got to spend a few days with my dad, alone, before his wife returned. It was really nice. I haven’t had time with my dad like that nor seen him act normal in years.

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I was originally worried about how our now-two-year-old would handle the almost seven hour trip, but she did fairly well! We left early from work, picked up Evangeline, and packed up the car. We made pretty good time and Evangeline took a nap. I think we rolled into my dad’s house at around seven or so.

We arrived the night before Thanksgiving, so when we woke up, it was turkey time. Evangeline, unfortunately, had a very disrupted car ride due to the trip so she woke up around 5am… my dad was up, too. We watched television and talked; Evangeline actually went back to bed and then dad started cooking. All-in-all, it was a pretty good Thanksgiving with only minimal drama. My dad’s wife’s daughter came over… and that was weird. Sigh.

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Evangeline really enjoyed spending time with my dad. It was nice to get a lot of alone time with him where he had the ability to just interact with Evangeline and not worry or be interrupted by anyone else. I’m definitely glad we went up!

We went out on Black Friday and had lunch. We did a little shopping… and dad even picked out boots for Evangeline, which was hilarious. She really loves those boots, too. When we finished, Evangeline had a nap and then it was off to see my other family members.

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We did Evangeline’s birthday and Christmas with everyone up there on Friday since we wouldn’t be back any time soon. Evangeline got a ton of stuff! We spent several hours with my grandparents and my mother, where they watched her open up her gifts. The atmosphere has definitely changed and when I sit in that room and remember how it used to be, it’s painful… but I also remember that it was kind of a lie. It’s better now, even if it’s different. We stopped by again so they could see her some more early Saturday before her nap.

I was pleasantly surprised that there was very little drama and my family seems to have taken a huge step back. It’s about time. I felt in control of the situation and things were definitely more on my terms this time.

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I got to see my cousin a bit after Evangeline’s nap on Saturday. She played with my cousin’s kids and we just kind of hung out. It was nice. Things aren’t the same as they used to be and they never will be; I left. Nothing can be the same now. But that’s okay, as I’m much happier than I ever would have been had I stayed. I no longer question my choice.

All-in-all it was a pretty good visit. It wasn’t great when my dad’s wife returned, but that’s fine. It took us forever to get the cigarette smoke out of our clothes/etc, though… which was just awful. Dad said he was going to try and visit, but we’ll see.

Embracing Autumn

Embracing Autumn

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Despite the weather, we’ve been doing our best to get into the autumn spirit. I’ve been pretty adamant about experiencing all the fall-related stuff we possibly could this year, since Evangeline is relatively old enough to enjoy it now. The first thing on our agenda was the pumpkin festival. It’s kind of a big deal around here and people travel from all over the state to come. It pales in comparison to anything Ohio has to offer, but it’s nice to have close by.

The last time we went, I was pregnant. Husband has lived here forever and never went. It was our first time and we enjoyed it. It’s nice to get out and enjoy local things. Evangeline had a good time, she saw animals, tons of people, ate some weird stuff, and even got some books.

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Second was a local farm that does this huge thing every fall; it’s basically a pumpkin patch and a kind of fair of sorts. There’s games, a corn maze, stacks of hay oriented around for kids to play on, a little playground, and a big tub of corn for younger kids to play in like sand. There’s concessions and some animals/etc, too, which makes for a pretty interesting trip. We went with a coworker/friend of ours and their child. It was fun, if a bit hot, for being mid-October.

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Evangeline’s favorite part was the pumpkin patch, which was hilarious. She got so excited about them! She ran in and kept yelling, “pumpkins! pumpkins!” When husband picked her up, she proceeded to whisper it to him, which was cute. She picked out a pumpkin by hugging and kissing it! Then we found one for daddy. I didn’t bother getting a pumpkin, it didn’t even occur to me at the time. I probably should have–they were way cheaper than buying them at a store!

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By the end, she was done. She was super tired and hungry. She kept crying on the way back, “mummy, hungry! Mummy, eat!” Heartbreaking. She was fine once we got home and had dinner, though. She slept like a log that night, despite her teeth coming in. She was exhausted!

I loved watching her run around and experience all the cool stuff they had to offer. I have all sorts of anxiety issues and I really, really hate crowds, but none of it mattered. Watching her face fill with joy and curiosity made it all seem pointless in comparison. The place was super packed, too. We did not expect such a huge crowd! I’m just glad we didn’t have any tantrums or fits.

She was obsessed with the slides, too, which surprised me a little. She’s definitely a daredevil.

I had asked the in-laws several times to go with us to the Pumpkin Festival or the farm and was rebuffed, rather rudely, all times. I told Chris was done trying to get them to act like normal grandparents. They’re so strange sometimes. They love Evangeline and they’re not cold with her, they just have zero interest doing typical grandparent things… which is sad.

Struggling

Struggling

IMG_4366I’ve been struggling lately. I won’t lie, I can’t lie, and I haven’t. I’ve been upfront and honest. My husband knows what’s going on, even if he isn’t completely capable of understanding it or being able to help me the way he wishes he could. I’m always going to struggle, in some way or form, and not because I’m a victim, or because I’m unable to handle things, but simply because that’s the way it is. Everyone has their own personal struggles and this happens to be one of mine.

Depression. It’s hard. People like to say things like “I’m cured!” but to me that doesn’t exist. If you have medical depression, in where your brain actually has legitimate issues and medicine is the only answer, then I guess you’re right–you can be cured. But I don’t believe you can ever be completely cured when it’s environmental or something you’ve developed over time. Medicine can help you, therapy can help you, but you’ll be forever battling that reprogramming that went on in your brain. The cognitive therapy, the awareness of the problem, all of that help you battle it effectively, but you’re still fighting.

I have moments, lapses, when I’m just not good. Life right now is hard for me. I have things going on with my family I’d rather not face down. There are things I don’t want to acknowledge, but they’re there, and they’re truths, and you cannot flee the truth. Even so, I’m left floundering because of it.

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I won’t say I do this for Evangeline or that she’s my strength, because that’s wrong. It’s not right to put that on her. It’s not right to burden her with something that she’ll feel later on in life. I never want her to feel like any of this is her fault. I’ll be honest with her, but I don’t want her to ever face the issues I have. I know that she will, though. It’s in our DNA. I’ll just make sure she has the tools she needs just in case…

My family is destructive–toxic. They are not good for me. They do not make me feel better or whole as a person. TheIMG_4346y tear me down and make me feel apart from the world. Leaving them behind, escaping the mindset they throttled into me… it was freeing in a way I didn’t realize until recently, until I really, truly started breaking away. I’ve wasted almost thirty years of my life and that’s heartbreaking.

I won’t waste anymore. I feel guilt, and I should. I should never be the type of person who doesn’t feel guilty. I’m capable of kindness, of empathy, and of all the things that makes me the perfect subject of manipulation. That doesn’t mean I should accept it or take it. Evangeline is not my strength, but her presence in my life has given me a boon–a clarity I did not possess to this extent previously.

I’m grateful and terrified. This is a whole new world–a new awakening. I thought I had been free, all this time, I thought I had done everything right… but I was still tethered, still stuck, and every time, I’d revert back to that person. Now, it’s different. Now, finally, I am becoming a whole, complete person. I am shedding the skin forced upon me. I am grasping and fighting to be free of the things that tied me down.

I will always have depression, I will always be a little moody… but I’m also intensely passionate. I value life, memories, people, and most things very deeply. Depression will whisper in my ear and for a moment, I may feel beaten… but I rebound quickly, because I know better. I know now where it comes from, what it’s been hiding beneath, and what’s caused it.

I have lost nearly thirty years and I refuse to lose another one. I am taking back my life, not from depression, because depression doesn’t have it and never has… but from the people who were mistaken in thinking that I was someone to be controlled.

I’m not. I’m a person capable of many, many things.

I have lost nearly thirty years but this year, I’m gaining.

I’m not losing anymore.

Growing Pains

Growing Pains

I keep telling myself that I’m going to be more consistent, that I’m going to do a better job at keeping up with this… and then I fail miserably. It sucks, because this is just such a perfect way to encapsulate everything that’s going on in a moment or a period of time–my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Sigh. At least I try.

Evangeline is nearly 19 months old and I’m left wondering where time went.

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She is an absolute chatterbox now with new words almost every day. She says “umbrella” alongside silly things like “dog-dog” instead of just plain old dog. It’s fun getting to know the little habits and ticks she’s developing as we watch her personality grow and come into its own.

She’s quick-tempered, stubborn, and willful; yet also compassionate, passionate, curious, and deeply observant. We struggle sometimes with bad behaviors she picks up from daycare, but at her core, she is a fantastic little girl. Watching her grow up is going to be like watching a storm build and gather all of its might. Much like a storm unleashing its will upon the world, so will Evangeline when she is finally cut loose.

IMG_3673 I feel like this time we have with her is desperately fleeting, that she is a force to be reckoned with and that this fierce independence she already has will only grow and blossom as time moves forward. She will leave, most assuredly, and she will endeavor in whatever it is she decides to do.

It’s an emotional thing and I’m fiercely protective of her because of it. Like any flame, it can be snuffed out or diverted, turned from a triumphant, glorious bonfire in the night to a burning inferno swallowing everything in its path. She will face her own hardships and some of those will come from within her, but they will not be the same ones that I faced, this is promise both her and myself.

It’s hard to be a parent, but it’s significantly more difficult when you struggle with your “own stuff”… and I mean that in that your brain isn’t wired correctly or you’ve suffered traumas that make it difficult for you to pretend that you’re normal. I try and try, but I know that it’s a lie and that someday, she will see through the facade. I just hope that when she does, she’s prepared for it.

Even though my family is toxic, we’ve been trying to ensure that she is aware of most–if not all–of her family members. My mother, of course, is currently excluded because she is untrustworthy and exceptionally manipulative in that way that narcissists tend to be… but the rest, they are safe enough… for now.

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Before we visited them on Memorial Day, we went to the Relay for Life. It was a small affair this time, as they decided to schedule it much earlier than the usual June date. It was in May and in a small auditorium because of rain. That’s what happens when you move the date. The event itself was a bit of a mess, but our baby girl got to walk with her daddy, who is a thirty year survivor of leukemia and that’s honestly all that mattered. She also danced with her grandpa. She had a lot of fun… before coming down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease.

That was an event. Poor thing was so sick! But she recovered quickly and though my sick time at work suffered, she’s much better now.

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We’re all excited for summer and for everything that it entails–backyard shenanigans, swimming, grilling out… but it’s a slow process. The weather is pretty crazy right now and Evangeline’s suddenly not so sure about water that’s not warm like a bath tub!

It kind of sucked that we were away during Memorial Day weekend, as it was beautiful and perfect here… but we stayed with my dad and his wife this time and that was a lot of fun. Certainly a lot less stressful. He’s on his antibiotic IV for his assumed osteomyelitis so that wasn’t great but it certainly brought a smile to his face to spend time with Evangeline!

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We grilled out, he spent mornings playing with her while I got to sleep in, and everything on that end went perfectly. We had a lot of fun there and I look forward to staying with them again. They even bought Evangeline a swing set, which she absolutely adored! Her favorite part was the seesaw.

Unfortunately, the other side of my family was bitter and accusatory. We surprised my grandparents because we didn’t want them to know we were coming and tell my mother. We were not there five seconds and they were jumping on me about my mum and saying some pretty hurtful and mean things… all in front of their great-granddaughter. She was mostly ignored while they read me the riot act in how I was ‘treating’ my mother. I felt trapped and annoyed, but I stuck to it. My husband saw my grandmother’s ability to be downright hateful for the first time. We only stayed about an hour before leaving.

When we visited the next day, my mum ‘unexpectedly’ came in and walked over and hugged me. I did not hug her back. I barely spoke to her. My grandparents nodded and smiled, convinced everything was back to normal while my husband boiled with anger on the opposite side of the room. We dealt with my mother, who was convinced the same as my grandparents. She even had the nerve to corner me and say that ‘this’ wasn’t helping her and some other bullshit I blocked out. We got out of there and did not go back, not even to say goodbye.

I’m honestly not sure if I’ll ever go back. Kind of a bleak thought. I might never see my grandparents house again until they’re dead.

It’s a difficult time for me right now. I’ll write happier things later.

Never Enough Time…

Never Enough Time...

It really sucks. I feel like I’m constantly out of time! Weeks fly by now. Having a toddler is like putting your world into permanent fast-forward. I need time to slow down, just a little. It’s like getting swept up into a whirlwind and you can’t escape. I’m running out of breath!

IMG_3558Evangeline is into everything and her attitude lately is abysmal. I’m sure it’s just a mental leap she’s going through, but the transition at daycare hasn’t been going great, either. Her primary care teacher retired and left before she moved to the next room… filled with much older kids. So, she’s been stuck with people who know nothing about her and in a place where biting is normal. She’s bit, scratched, and been bitten. It’s been kind of awful. She’s usually quite cranky and difficult to deal with. I hate it, it makes me so sad.

On the rare chance that she’s in a good mood, she’s chattering away. She says tons of words now and loves trying to repeat what we say. She’s learned to blow bubbles and absolutely loves being outside. It’s so fun watching her discover the world, I just wish she were in a better mood 80% of the time…

IMG_3606I’m trying to be patient, but it’s hard. I’m going through hell right now. I’m doing it so it won’t hurt Evangeline in the long run, but I’m running into the issue of it possibly messing with her now. There’s nothing to be done for it, though. My family sucks, plain and simple. I won’t have their toxicity touching my daughter. I’ll light the damn world on fire before one single thing that I was forced to endure at too young an age gets thrust carelessly upon her. She will have her own demons to battle, I’m sure, but they’ll not be any I faced if I can help it.

I know that I need to take care of myself and I’m trying. We’re working out again, I went to a doctor, I’m trying to sort of not stress out so bad… but it’s difficult. My situation is not enviable. How do you cut off a metaphorical limb? It’s hard. Most of the time I just want to curl up and cry. I’m tired of everything being so damned hard.

Evangeline fell asleep on me tonight after crying for almost an hour. She refused to eat dinner and was terribly fussy. I had to stop eating and hold her. I forced her into a bath so that I could scrub the sunscreen off of her. She cried and cried. I dried her off, dressed her, and then held her. She quieted and fell asleep on me. It’s the first time she’s fallen asleep on me in ages. I held her for quite awhile before putting her in her crib.

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This sweet little thing deserves so much better. She deserves more patience, understanding, nurturing… all things I’m trying desperately to give, but I know I’m failing. I’m falling short. That realization alone enrages me. I’d be able to give so much more if the people in my life weren’t such ignorant sacks of useless crap. My family does not nurture, it destroys. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. I’m sick of it. I’m done with it.

Seeing my daughter’s beautiful face juxtaposed with the reality that perhaps Christmas was the last time I will ever see my grandparents alive is difficult. All of this because one person cannot stop making stupid decisions. I’m tired of my world revolving around the whims of an alcoholic. Done.

It will get better. Evangeline’s difficult period is a necessary part of her development and I’m not upset or angry about it… I’m just sad. Sad because I can’t be the parent she needs because I’m trying to protect her future. What is truly right in this situation? To be present 100% and allow her to be tainted, or to pull back and protect her from what will undoubtedly affect her forever? I’d like to think the bigger picture is more important… at least I know where that road leads.

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So many decisions, so many possibilities… whatever it takes, she’ll be okay.