Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Blue Hole




Because I'd been so busy before the mountains trip I was nutting up on the inside, pretty sure I was making a mistake by even thinking of leaving.  I picked and froze a quart of southern peas, ate two quarts of fresh blueberries, plus finally my first tomato, looked with dismay at all the unfinished work out there, sighed deeply, threw up my dirty hands, and walked away.

I had a blast in the mountains.  Tabby and Nando had never really spent much mountain time anywhere, we're usually at home, on the soccer fields, school, hanging with family, or doing church activities, constantly busy, and whenever we have a vacay moment, I flee to the beach.  Sweet Travis invited me to come with their family next week, I wish I could, but I've got to tend to some responsibilities around here.  Tabby is gonna go with their family, his wife is a teacher at her school.

I got in ten strenuous miles of hiking on mountain trails with my broken toe. One mile of that was nearly straight up.  It was so much fun and it inspired me, or maybe encouraged me, for my future plans.  So many hiking trails, so little time.

I've never owned a pair of hiking boots, instead using my New Balance shoes.  Good enough for now, but not so for my upcoming plans.  "Don't buy them at a yard sale," Kevin warned.  I won't.  I don't buy granny panties at yard sales either.  Some things gotta be store bought, right?

We'd hiked straight down to The Blue Hole, a gorgeous, secluded swimming hole with a rope swing, Nando the first to try it out, landing in very cold, deep mountain water.  Kevin's nephews were with us and they spent time skipping stones and wrangling crayfish. Literally everywhere I looked, all the vistas made me smile with joy and happiness.

One of the nephews is soon flying to Colorado for a Rush Soccer Training Camp.. Dang y'all, I thought I had a heavy soccer schedule, but this 12 year old is flying from Charlotte, NC to Denver.  I admit I was a little envious.  I'd love to send Nando to something like that.  He and Tabby soon have a church middle school river tubing trip up in the Georgia Mountains though to look forward to, then the high school boys have a two day white water rafting trip on the Ocoee River in Tennessee.

Kevin has built a breathtaking mountain cottage, it was simply stunning.  I've been following its construction via photos, but oh my goodness, to see it in real life just swelled my heart with happiness.  Every inch of it was spectacular.

As I continue to struggle with my own recovery from hazardous parenting, I'm seeing some great improvements, it's an up and down process for sure.  All of that hiking helps calm my nerves, I've always known how much I've needed physical activity to calm me down.

I was there for his family reunion, folks I've known for a long time. Kevin's mom, sisters, sister-in-law, brothers, and brothers-in-laws, niece and nephews, are some of the nicest people on the planet.  I had so much fun.  I missed Lauren terribly, but she had an important job interview process.

It's 250 miles from here door to door, yet felt like another world.  At one point, in the middle of the day, I fell asleep out on the upper back deck in the beautiful fresh air. Honey, I don't sleep during the day time.

Now back to real life where fortunately we'd gotten two afternoons of some rain, more today and tomorrow hopefully.

I'd allowed Scotty to keep my 15 passenger van to get to and from work, to and from Wednesday night services, and being so trustworthy, all was well.  JoJo and Allen got hired on where CW and Fabian work - different buildings and slightly different hours, and I'm so very happy for them both, praying it mans them up.

Two more of my sons who live here, age 19 and 21, are struggling emotionally and vocationally.

Yet another one has an appointment this afternoon with the D.A. about a program involving community service and fines, a First Offender Program, that if successfully completed, cleans up his legal issue.

As far as I know, everyone behaved while I was gone for those beautiful 72 hours, all are capable of living on their own, they just choose to remain here.  Not a dish was washed, and I saw an inappropriate, and obviously ignored, note to the other brothers on the counter that said, "Clean up your own mess you hoes."

Oh my.  Etiquette Lessons are in order, for starters.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This Boy


My wrinkled old lady's arms prove I've spent too much time working in the fields, but hey, the food's been great due to my hard work.  Who cares about arms?

Met my sweet grand baby, Jayden, Sunday in Atlanta, and then went to Daniel and Megan's house for a totally different experience, yet related.  One family lives in a rented one room area, the other in a three story house.  One baby totally planned, the other a surprise, yet I'm super impressed with my daughter's overall improvements as she grows up and matures, she's in her mid 20s now and has done very well.  I also like the father of the baby a great deal, a hard working Guatemalan man.

Oddly enough Daniel sent me this picture, having tracked my whereabouts.

Am now with my favorite brother-in-law's family for an Ellis Family Reunion up in the mountains of North Carolina for a few days, bringing Grandma, Tabby, Jack and Nando along.  Chuck and Yolie have their eye out for my grown kids, and my crazy JoJo just sent me this picture that caused my heart to stop.

I grabbed my phone to call him, "I thought you'd think it was funny," he explained.  Another friend had been injured so, JoJo posed for this just to pull a prank on an old bat with a traumatized heart and totally shot to heck nerves.  He went to all the trouble of even putting on a hospital gown just to get me.

His friend, Osiris, profusely apologized on behalf of my own son.  "I told him not to do that to you," he stated.  My heart continued to pound as I yelled at Osiris and JoJo both.

Jeepers, gimme a break.

Jack turned 15, didn't wanna pose for any pictures, will get his Learner's Permit this week and is so very excited.

Now I'm gonna go hike a mountainside with Kevin to try and calm down.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Junebug, Shadow and Hazel


Photo by Tabby's friend, Abby, my friend Jessica's daughter, they are at Forward 2015 and this is some guy from the Disney Channel.  My tastes run to police dramas and Braves games so I'm clueless here, I'm sure Tabby'll fill me in tomorrow when she comes home.

I briefly texted with my sons last night who are having a blast, as they knew they would.  This is Tabby's first time at Forward, the boys have gone for years.   I've said it a million times, I can't imagine raising children without being a part of an active, vibrant church.

You might look at some of my older kids and wonder if it had any effect at all on them and I'll go to my grave maintaining that it did indeed change them.  Imagine how they might've turned out without a church influence to later reject?

Trauma is never far from my mind as I live with the victims and have become one myself.  To see the definition, or the situation, encapsulated in a short info sheet makes me shake my head in bewilderment.  It is so very complex, far reaching, detrimental, and invisible.

Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in flashbacks, memories, nightmares or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events reminiscent of the trauma. Anniversaries of the event can also trigger symptoms. People with PTSD also experience emotional numbness and sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety and irritability or outbursts of anger.
Feelings of intense guilt are also common. Most people with PTSD try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the ordeal. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last more than 1 month.

More than one month?  How 'bout decades?  And that's just me.  How much more so for my children?

CW, 19, has gone to Atlanta for the past two nights for two different events, he was home all day yesterday, tanking up as we call it, which involves being very full when you leave the house so as not to have to stop and pay sky high prices for non-nutritious foodstuffs.  He's a strong, smart, reasonable guy, and I was never a worrywart until trauma ruined me.  Now I literally sweat until he returns home.

He's with a super nice friend, a biracial guy who I totally like.  "Both of his parents are white," CW had told me recently. I'm thinking maybe his mom had been married before to another guy or something, until Yolie pointed out the most logical assumption, "Maybe he's adopted Mom," she spoke slowly, as if to a woman who either drives or rides the short bus right often.

How had that not occurred to neither me nor CW?

I'm not about to ask him, so tired of folks questioning us because every single time it involves; 1) "I bet Christmas must be fun at your house!" or 2) "Who cooks all that food for everyone?" or 3) "Do you think you'll get married again?"

Number one:  Holidays SUCK.  See trauma definitions.

Number two:  Who the heck do you think does all that cooking?  It'd be Mama.  Who cooks at your house?  Y'all's cat?

Number three:  Right, I'm such a catch.

Hazel and I were both reading in bed last night, 4 dogs jumping around on the bed before settling down finally, all of them sniffing, as if in insult or disgust, the dog scents on Hazel from her own mutts, finally curling up around her, I sent the picture of the two that remained for the night to Jack because the black dog is his beloved dog Shadow, and sleeps on his bed every night for nearly 7 years now, head on the pillow, grinning at Jack.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Alex, Polo and Jayden




Visiting with Ms. Carr, the third grade teacher that taught six of my kids over the years, Allen and Dubs the same year, she mentioned to me how much she'd wish she'd known about trauma in her many years of teaching, particularly when she taught in town.  She'd come over here much to the delight of my kids, hugging them all, noticing how much everyone's grown.  It still shocks Nando to find himself taller than the adults he's always looked up to for years.

My mom just idly wondered how many kids live in trauma circumstances day in and day out.  I'd wager every kid of an alcoholic parent would fit the criteria, how can one possibly live trauma free with the accompanying negative aspects of a drunken parent?

Overtime, you have started to feel as traumatized as your child. You might think you're imagining this or developing phantom symptoms. But you're not- trauma is contagious.

Robyn Gobbel reposted an earlier article that I read this morning and pondered all day lone.

How on earth can we decrease the trauma in the parent when the child is spinning out of control?

It’s definitely really really really hard. And really really really unfair. To become calm and centered while a tornado is spinning around you? Hard. 

The article explains in detail what happens, why we feel this way and what we can do.  (To my mom: click it and read it, then press back arrow to return to post)

My dogs bark whenever anyone pulls up to our house and I can hear them when I'm out in the gardens - thus the earbuds to drown it out.  With my boys coming and going all day, my nerves would be shot having to mentally respond to each bark.  I walk away from my phone often too.  Last week I dumbly left it at home four different times.  That's more'n I've done in a decade and it wasn't intentional.

I have no kids under high school age to tend to for 72 hours so I ran outside at 7 this morning and worked until after noon, closer to one p.m. when it was 92 degrees with very high humidity.  I was drenched with sweat, but it just doesn't bother me, still thawing out from winter.

I blasted music in my earbuds and had a good ole time, there's nothing I'd rather be doing unless I were at the beach.  The gardens are my happy place.  I would be so embarrassed if anyone ever walked up on me out there.  Who dances and weeds?

I do miss Tabby, Jack, Nando and Scotty, they're really great kids, but they are having a tremendous amount of fun at Forward.  I don't miss washing extra dishes or even answering questions, sometimes it's nice to not do so at all.

However Tony, Lily, Martin, CW, JoJo, Allen and Chuy are here to keep the kitchen in an uproar.  I've seen at least two of their friends in here just today alone.

Hazel's coming to spend the night with me and that's gonna be kinda cool, we never get any time for just the two of us, not in her entire life probably and she'll be 8 in two months.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Have a New WHAT????






Well this is gonna be a long post.  Texting my friend, Elizabeth early this morning, as she sent me VBS pics to use, I told her a reason why I'd not blogged yesterday, needing four hours sweltering outside to process some shocking news.  The VBS pictures are mainly of my grandchildren having a blast.  Do we have the most fun church, or what?

Tabby's on stage singing and carrying on, the big screen behind her.  Nando was helping with the five year olds, one of them stunned to learn that a 13 year old was an uncle.  One of Nando's nephews blew his cover I suppose.  Imagine if Nando's tried to explain his oldest niece is now 20 years old, or that there were 28 nieces and nephews? Or that his brother-in-law is almost 50 years old?

This was the first year in my entire life I'd not gone to VBS, instead sending Scotty with the van to take he, Tabby and Nando to volunteer.  They brought me home some famous Miss Lisa Cupcakes to break my veganism and sugar fast.  Oh my.  I swooned.

My sweet Scotty ran the games there all by himself, the adult that was supposed to have done so got a new job and had to be there instead.  I'm quite proud of Scotty.

My four youngest kids, Scotty, Tabby, Nando and Jack all go to Forward 2016 this afternoon, they'll be gone until Sunday afternoon.  Should I slip away to Tybee Island for some alone time?  Nope.  Too broke.  A staycation is what I'll do.  The seven grown men who still live here with me best not bother me.  Three of 'em slept at Fabian's house last night anyway.

All y'all Atlanta area people?  You sucked up all of yesterday's heavy rains, not a single drop fell out here.  CW said I jinxed it when I brought in the towels that had been drying in the sun.

Before I forget to mention it, a must read Trauma Mama blog post from Robyn Gobbel, LCSW.  Remember y'all, it isn't us.  Our experiences are common.  The world will never understand, our parenting will always be criticized, we will be ridiculously and unfairly blamed.  Of course we will.  That's why we need to read articles like this, lest we lose our cotton picking minds.

These two simple words might actually have the power to have a profound impact on your relationship with your kiddo.  Or at the very least, they may have the power to you feel calmer during those moments of absurdity that come with parenting a child of trauma.  Because you have already gotten REALLY good at understanding how trauma impacts your child’s brain (it is one of the trauma momma superpowers, after all!) then the words “Of Course” make perfect sense.

OF COURSE hearing the word “NO” sends your child into a Level 4 rage.

OF COURSE being asked to do a simple chore causes your child to completely shut down.

I should've said pea picking minds, Lord Have Mercy, I'm gonna be picking and shelling a ton of 'em any day now. I seriously mean a freaking ton.  I way over planted.  My freezer will be full.

I'm dealing with a situation here with a 19 year old who is being verbal and appropriate now.  The emphasis on now.  Not remembering a black-out doesn't mean you didn't have one, son.

He has never been in any fights here which is unusual as I've had some very violent sons, especially within his own sib group, yet he's never ever laid a hand on anyone - until the other night at someone else's house.  If anything, he's long been a peacekeeper here, breaking up fights, and/or restraining a rager.

I've put in three days of dealing with the other mom of the victim involved, she knows I'm on her side, I won't tolerate this BS from my son.

My heart completely stopped yesterday morning as a deputy followed me down my road after I took Scotty to work, uh oh, then pulling into my long drive way and up to my house.  I'd not put on shoes nor a bra, my hair up in a clip, coconut oil on my face, heck I was just toting the boy to work, not thinking I'd be dealing with the law.  I just about had a stroke.  I didn't care how I looked, I was afraid he was here to deliver bad news.

My mind racing in alarm, crap CW wasn't yet home from his third shift job, had he been in an accident?  Had someone met with harm?  A thousand bad thoughts blared into my mind that is so traumatized I can hardly follow a plot line on a TV show anymore.  I can't remember baseball statistics like I used to.  Now that's a tragedy.

I honestly almost passed out, my massively scary trauma suffocating me at that moment.  Reeling and afraid of what he was gonna say, only to find out he needed to see the son who'd messed up this week, giving him an order to not be on someone's property.  My son took it well, shaking the deputy's hand without being prompted, while my heart pounded out of my bra-less t-shirt.

I'm too old for all of this.

I fled to my gardens, texting back and forth with Michael, about different job seeking sons, knowing I had two therapy appointments with two different therapists within an hour - exactly what I knew I needed.

One of my 25 year old daughters,who lives in Atlanta, and I were farting around a couple of months ago, moving her younger birth brother into an apartment, and I glibly mentioned that she ought not to even be thinking about having kids, as she struggles mightily with some severe mental health issues, yet she has vastly improved int he last ten years.

She was strangely silent, and I'm obtuse at times, my head full of so much stuff.

Turns out she was nearly six months pregnant and didn't know how to tell me.  Now she has told me, "Mom he weighed 7 pounds and his name is Jayden.  Please don't be mad."

Mad?  I'm not mad.  I feel bad that she didn't think she could tell me this news back then. I could've and should've been there to emotionally support her, but she has trouble at times with social cues, reading people,  and perceptions.  She's with a nice, Guatemalan man who is ecstatic over this birth of his only son.  She has improved greatly over the years, and I'm believing she can handle this.  If not, she has an older birth brother who could step in and raise the child if need be.  I didn't blog yesterday because I needed to let him know all of this, not reading about it here until we'd talked, and I craved some thinking time.

"I'm coming over Sunday," I promised.
May I end with two prayer requests?  One of my readers need a job, another is in the hospital and needs both healing prayers and prayers over her challenging children.  I appreciate it y'all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

ByProduct Love


Well that was a meltdown post by me yesterday, I was anxious and stressed out.  Our court date was postponed, I say 'our' because what hits my kids hits me too, because I deeply care and am supremely concerned.  We'd dressed up, gone there, sat and waited, only to be sent home.

Our therapist had an emergency, calling me apologetically to reschedule.  It's not like I'm going to make a fuss about it, it could've been us with the crisis, and I'd sure want help and understanding.

Nando went to the movies with the youth group.  An afternoon matinee that still costs a whopping $11.  Dang y'all, no wonder I stay home.

My entertainment is Facebook or the TV, one of my favorite shows, Major Crimes, was on last night and, wouldn't you know it, my DVR went out, as did the TVs on this side of the house, so I had a minor hissy fit after first going to Charter to pick up a new DVR, and then having to call them - two things I hate doing.  My smart Jack figured it all out for me finally, setting up the swapped out DVR and saving the day.

This was my fault, not Charter's issue.

I worked outside late last night, it was still 95 Degrees at 8 p.m.

A reader, Kathy, is plowing through the past ten years of my blogs, reading a year's worth of posts about every two days.  Just thinking about it brought a flood of cortisol through my system, remembering all the emotional pain, stressful trauma, and crappy ordeals.  I never go back and read, maybe someday, but not anytime soon.  Indeed after talking to her online I fled to the gardens to rip the weeds out ferociously.

May I brag?  Scotty's work project is only a five week stretch, courtesy of WIA.  He dearly wants to go to Forward on Friday so he's working extra hours each day in very intensive heat, outside for the Parks Department, instead of just choosing to lose the hours.  Now that's a man.  I allowed him to take the van the two miles to church last night so that he and two others could work VBS while I remained here at home to get stuff done.

My other son is MIA, not wanting to face me apparently, some friend of a friend bailed him out.  The other person who was involved is stressed out and fearful, I certainly understand and commiserate.  I love my son, but I'll agree he is emotionally challenging and extraordinarily hot headed.  Alcohol fuels it more'n gasoline onto flames.

Tabby has horseback riding therapy today, fortunately scholarshipped for us.  It's gonna be close to 100 degrees today and while she's riding, I'm going to be hauling a byproduct of the horses, rich manure that I believe I'll compost first.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Only His Mama Cares

I know this isn't a correct thinking process, but sometimes, even when I know I desperately need prayers, I don't go to the altar.  It's not a pride thing I don't think, or maybe it is, but it's rather I feel like I'm being dramatic or something, the reality is I probably need to go to the altar every single week, what with the issues around here, but I also don't then wanna go explain everything to the person I'd be praying with, and, again, I don't like drawing attention to us.

I prefer to slink in and out quickly, returning home to take care of business.  I'd whispered to CW about it during the church service and altar call yesterday, and we both came to the same easier conclusion, the college and career pastor and his wife were right behind us, let's pray with them instead, both of us just wanting to keep it to ourselves as much as is possible.  They already knew the whole story anyway.

Tears leaked out of my eyes though, as I did indeed stay for a minute to pray with people I trust.  I know I can trust everyone there, yet I just don't.  I hang back, not wanting to have to explain trauma, grief, acting out, behavior issues, and mental health challenges.  It's just too complicated.  I have severe trust and attachment issues nowadays after decades of people lashing out at me.

Our church has hundreds of people now, yet I remain attached to so few.  I didn't even go inside after VBS to get my kids, waiting in the parking lot instead, but two different guys came to the van to catch up, both are men I trust.  However I only told one of them about today's travails that have my stomach tied in painful knots.

Yesterday was nuts alone in and of itself.  I knew a kid had been arrested, but two people, two women, came to my house to explain the rest of the story, leaving me open-mouthes in dismay.  I called an older birth brother, "I think he needs to come live with you for awhile, to get out of this town for a bit."  I was met with complete agreement, yet I've not yet talked to the one we were talking about at the moment.

I'd asked a group of grown sons to not go bail this one out yet as I needed to get his car towed or moved before he got himself in deeper doodoo.  "We didn't," several of them squalled after I learned he'd been sprung.  Oh well, someone did.

The woman telling me she'd heard the deputies say, "Cindy's not gonna be happy about this," as they put him in handcuffs.  No, I'm not happy.  I'm again very broken-hearted.

The same woman telling me how much I'd been bad mouthed by this same grown kid who wanted to manipulate others into giving him what he wanted.  Again I feel very hurt deeply within, when you'd think I'd have become accustomed to it by now.  This is what volatile, angry kids do.  It has happened over and over and over again, leaving me cowering in a corner, avoiding human beings much like a kicked, injured mongrel street dog.

There's gonna someday be a point where my emotional recovery will be nearly impossible.

Lena, Jesse, Yolie, Scotty, Tabby and Nando all volunteered to work at VBS this week.  I probably should've done so, but the major interruptions that descend upon me out of the blue often preclude me committing to anything.  After the two women left yesterday, I sat slumped in a chair thinking.  One thing I was thinking was that I'm sure glad I have a deep faith to lean upon, what I'd been crying about at church involves a different son than the one who'd deeply disappointed me by mid afternoon.

I read these Life Hacks each day, the most recent one was about learning to love being alone - something I've kind of always craved, but it wasn't until I filled our family full of children did I completely comprehend that being alone meant complete and utter peace.  I don't cause problems for myself, I don't create crazy drama, nor arguments.

Bottom line:  Solitude is precious to me.  Solitude isn't hurtful to me, which is what my experience is teaching me, since humans lash out too often.

I honestly think the world is going completely crazy, one only has to look at the news for ten minutes to come to the same conclusion.  This is why I'm avoiding TV news, and reading as little as possible online for current events.

I wish I could be alone today, but I have a Big Bad Event Full Of Foreboding, a therapy appointment with a seriously troubled kid, and an eye doctor appointment later.  It's going to again be very hot, I'm falling further behind in my garden chores, and my house To Do list lengthens all by itself.

In a roundabout way I'm asking for unspecified prayer over an event that has the potential to send me plunging into a deep depression, I'm praying for God's Mercy and Grace, for a best case scenario for a kid I deeply love that is facing Hell To Pay.  He is not emotionally equipped for all of this, he is emotionally very immature but The World just doesn't care, only his Mama cares.