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If teardrops were diamonds

How wealthy I’d be.

If heartaches were dollars

I’d purchase the sea.

An ocean of sorrow

Is where I now dwell,

Still dreaming of heaven-

But living in hell.

So much betrayal

And poisoning words

No one is listening

I need to be heard.

If you want to judge me

Be careful, my friend

You may find yourself

Being judged in the end.

For you have not walked

The miles I have tread

And you have not felt

You were better off dead.

But your words are lethal

They cut and they kill.

Like a knife in your hand

They stab till I’m still.

And you are a murderer-

Making me bleed.

But not from my veins-

From my heart and my need.

I reach out for comfort

But you walk away

Leaving me lifeless-

I can’t make you stay.

And I find no solace

On this icy ground,

Just hatred and evil

No love to be found.

So shout out your words

And then walk away,

Wearing a smile

As you hurt and betray-

One who loves you

True and deep-

The one whose trust

You could not keep.

And tears will fall

Like freezing rain-

Tender drops of crystal pain.

As I watch you go…

Lonnette

Well, it’s just one more loss in a sea of losses, since I became estranged from my mother. This time it’s a cousin, who was like a brother to me. We were raised together for quite a few years. But he has condemned me with his bitter words, because he cannot see beyond the unyielding stance that he has taken. He cannot understand that I was close to dying, and still am, if this stress continues. Still, he keeps pushing me to do more, and I cannot. I have to save my own life now. That’s all the strength I have left. And I have nurtured my mother in the last 3 1/2 years more than she ever nurtured me in my entire life. I did all that I could, and I was rewarded with unkind words and hurt. It was never enough, and it would never be enough. People who judge are in peril of judgment themselves. You cannot fully know my pain, my struggles, or my sorrow. So do not judge me, for I can look my God in the face and say that I truly did the best I could. If He does not require more from me, how can you? You lost someone who truly loved you–someone who truly cared…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So here I sit at the computer at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, anticipating how my life is going to change later today. I have an appointment with my doctor around 2:30 p.m., concerning my blood sugar, which has spiked totally out of control for the past several weeks. Being the daughter of an insulin dependent diabetic mother and father has not given me a fair chance in the gene pool by any means.

I have been on oral diabetes drugs for years. I think neither my husband nor I really accepted my initial diabetes diagnosis, because it was not given in the usual way. No blood glucose testing was done. I was just very tired, and not feeling well, and my doctor then put me on Glucophage. As the years played out, and the stress piled on, the diagnosis was confirmed. However, for quite awhile, with oral medication, my blood sugar was fairly well controlled.

But that has changed in recent years, and I fear that I may have waited too long (even now) to care for myself as I need to do. When my dad died almost 4 years ago, my ailing, widowed mom became my focus, and the stress was even greater than it had been through the frustrating years of trying to raise my adopted daughter, with a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder. Her rebellion and defiance left our household in chaos for 15 years, after we adopted her at age 3. I developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, depression–you name it. As soon as she was finally raised and out of the house, I inherited the care of my mom. Though she still lived at home, she was my life focus, whether awake or asleep. Frequent crisis calls, terrifying emergencies, extreme low blood sugar episodes, and other constant health problems, left me overwhelmed and exhausted. She broke her right foot, left leg, and left hip all within a few months last year, and I think that is when she also broke my heart. I could not deal with her anymore. She refused to use her walker consistently, she was always in an angry mood, she was very beliggerant while in the nursing home, and then she became incontinent and developed dementia. Her emotional abuse of me increased. Nothing I would do was good enough. As I was preparing her Assisted Living apartment for her, we had a falling out. She called me names, and I gave up. I knew that I could not do this for even one more day. I called on my brother to step up, and provide the little care that she would require in Assisted Living.  But he smelled blood in the water, and went in for the kill. He promptly moved her back into her home, so that he would not lose it as his only inheritance. Paying for the AL would have required the house to be sold, and this was not on his agenda. He told me to “Piss Off” when I inquired about caregivers for her. (Yes, he is a lovely person.)

At any rate, this estrangement has been complete since November.  I changed my phone numbers, and did the only thing I could do to save my own life-I disengaged from the miserable situation. I was about to lose my health and sanity. I could no longer take my mother’s emotional abuse, or her favortism of my brother, who did practically nothing for 3 1/2 years, but purchase and then eat her groceries. He was her Golden Boy, and I was Cinderella (before the ball and the handsome prince.) I was the Scapegoat, and the whipping boy for all her frustrations. I had always been the mother, taking care of her, and afraid to make her unhappy. But I had finally had enough.

To walk away from the situation was not to leave behind the heartache, or the physical consequences. It has taken me the past 5 months to grieve the mother I never had, and to process the anger for the brother who treated me so terribly. Jealousy and hatred were spewed toward me with no explanation, and as long as I live, I will never understand why. He is 8 years younger than me, and I adored him as a child, but never really knew him as an adult, due to his lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and bad choices. Still I loved him from afar. He has changed that way of living considerably, and I told him many times how proud I am of the changes. But his hatred of me is deep.

So, though I knew I had to get out of this situation for my health and sanity, leaving brought its own stresses. I have cried and grieved these many months, trying to make sense of the senseless–trying to understand why my mother treated me as she did all my life. I have studied Narcissism, and learned a great deal about the dynamics in our family.  I have also desperately tried to make a new existence for myself–to do some things that make me happy, and to spend more time with my husband. Still the worry, stress, and tension of the whole situation has taken its toll. I knew that I could not sweep my feelings under the rug, and pretend I wasn’t affected by all of this. I would have become even more sick then, no doubt.

So I have tried to handle it the only way I know-by walking through it, feeling the pain, experiencing the grief and loss, and dealing with the hurt and anger to the best of my ability. Forgiveness is (for me) a process. I’m not really sure how I have survived, but the heart is stronger than we think. And God gives the grace.  But my health has suffered greatly through the whole ordeal.

So today ,I find myself facing something that I hoped would never happen. I am probably going to have to go on the needle for my diabetes, as the alternative is organ damage and impaired vision or worse. I have come to the place where I am afraid to let it continue, because I am well aware of the ravages of the disease, having watched its effects for years on my mother’s health. Before I was more afraid of the needle–now I am more afraid of the disease.

I am wondering if I am a candidate for Byetta, which is a little different than insulin. About half of the people that go on it suffer nausea, and nausea sometimes makes you wish you were comatose. But Byetta also doesn’t cause weight gain like insulin does, and in fact, may contribute to weight loss, if you can tolerate it, and that’s a BIG if. I will get my doctor’s perspective on it.

So I feel like a lamb going to the slaughter, for whatever the choice for the needle, my life is going to change considerably. And I am familiar with the lows that can occur, having many times experienced bringing my mother out of hers, in frequent frightening situations. I am alone a lot, and fear what could happen, but I cannot change a thing about it. I guess you could say that I am resigned at this point, because I know  that I have no other choice, and I also know the consequences of not dealing with the high blood sugar.

So I ask for your prayers that I will face this with determination, grace, and strength. And that God will take away my fears, and help me through this time in my life. Of course, I pray for a complete healing as well. I need to finally take care of myself now, and focus on my own health and future.

Today is a day that I won’t soon forget… I have to lay it down, Lord…

I’ve been looking ’til my eyes are tired of looking
Listening ’til my ears are numb from listening
Praying ’til my knees are sore from kneeling
On the bedroom floor

I know that You know that my heart is aching
I’m running out of tears and my will is breaking
I don’t think that I can carry
The burden of it anymore

All of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans
Are slowly slipping through my folded hands

Chorus
So I’m gonna lay it down
I’m gonna learn to trust You now
What else can I do
Everything I am depends on You
And if the sun don’t come back up
I know Your love will be enough
I’m gonna let it be, I’m gonna let it go
I’m gonna lay it down

I’ve been walking through this world like I’m barely living
Buried in the doubt of this hole I’ve been digging
But You’re pulling me out and I’m finally breathing
In the open air

This room may be dark but I’m finally seeing
There’s a new ray of hope and now I’m believing
That the past is the past and the future’s beginning to look brighter now

‘Cause all of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans
Are safe and secure when I place them in Your hands

Chorus
So I’m gonna lay it down
I’m gonna learn to trust You now
What else can I do
Everything I am depends on You
And if the sun don’t come back up
I know Your love will be enough
I’m gonna let it be, I’m gonna let it go
I’m gonna lay it down

It’s funny, the last post I wrote was about the fallout of death, and then I just disappeared for a couple of weeks. Let’s face it, it wasn’t the best post to end on, was it?  LOL! Some wondered if I was still around. I’m right here, but I’ve been very, very sick.

In fact, I believe this is the sickest I’ve been since I had pneumonia many years ago. I didn’t have pneumonia this time, but you wouldn’t have known it by the sound of my 24/7 cough. My friend says her husband sounds like he’s “coughed up a lung.” Well, I sounded like I was coughing up both of them, and a few organs as well.  Graphic illustration, but a truthful one. I caught a cold or the flu right before Valentine’s Day.  Then I got bronchitis. I went to the ER very quickly, so it wasn’t due to my delay in getting treatment. It’s just that no one suffers from colds like I do. I rarely ever just have a simple cold, and then get over it. It always turns into the night of the living dead. I’m not kidding. I would have these choking spells 3 or 4 times a day, and I really felt like I couldn’t get my breath.  It was frightening!!!  At any rate, I’m on my second round of antibiotics, and I feel like this thing aged me ten years. I have been soooooooo sick. Seriously, for 10 days I coughed day and night, sitting up or lying down. I never got any sleep.

I don’t even want to talk about the amount of medicine that’s been thrown at me, and I had to make some serious decisions about how much was too much. I thought that doctors were to “first do no harm.” But I think they’ve long  forgotten that oath.

Because I can’t take penicillin or its derivatives, I first got Clarithromycin from an ER doctor. Then my physician gave me her favorite (and the one I hate most) fluoroquinolones. I hate this class of drugs because they have serious side effects, and they seem like the only drugs my doctor knows about.

I have had a complete tear in my rotator cuff (shoulder), and I suffered for a solid year with excruciating pain. Most everyone I know that’s torn a rotator cuff HAS to have surgery. but I opted not to. I was busy caring for my mom, and trying to keep my head (and hers) above water. Well quinolones are famous for causing torn or ruptured tendons. And this can happen, not only while you’re taking them, but several months afterward. So that is risky enough for me, but if the bacteria wasn’t responding to the other antibiotic, I know I probably had no choice.

However, if you take steroids (oral or injected) at the same time you take quinolones, you really up your chances of a ruptured tendon. And guess what? My doctor gave me 2 different kinds of steroids. And guess what again? I didn’t take them. When I take steroids, my blood sugar goes up to 400 or 500 also, and I just don’t feel like going there either. Steroids elevate your blood sugar for quite awhile. Plus the last time I came off of them, I had terrible night sweats and was miserable.

Now along with the 2 antibiotics, a steroid pack,  and an oral corticosteroid (Advair), I also received prescriptions for 2 antihistamines, and a narcotic cough medicine. I was already taking Mucinex every 12 hours as well.  One of the antihistamines was Clarinex, and my insurance would not cover it to the tune of $147.00. (I opted to not take that one for sure.) The druggist said it was the same as Clartin over the counter. 

So when I got home, I had to sort through my goody bag, and decide how much more my poor body could take. Of course, I’m between a rock and a hard place, because I’m still badly congested, coughing and running a fever, so I have to do something.  But quite frankly, I’m mad. This was too much medicine, and too many risky combinations.

I opted not to take the steroids, or the Advair due to the increased risk of ruptured tendons. I took the horrible quinolone antibiotic, Avelox, and have 3 more nights to go. It makes me dizzy and headachy. I literally cannot walk straight, and keep falling around.  I haven’t been able to drive due to the dizziness.

I have taken the narcotic cough med as a last resort, and while it did help my cough, it made me loopy and dizzy also. So I’ve tried to stay away from it as much as possible. Narcotics and I don’t get along, thank the Lord.

I take 9 prescription meds already, and I don’t think my body could have handled the 6 more that I was given. So I made an executive decision. I would take the antibiotic, one antihistamine (my faithful Benadryl) and my Mucinex. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m sure it will be WWIII when the doctor hears my decision, but so be it.

I hate drugs!!!! As patients, most of us know far more about our medicines than the doctors do, and if we read the warnings and become educated (as we should) then they get upset. The drug reps only tell them the good things, and minimize any bad side effects. You can’t reason with most doctors. But in the end, it is our body, and our health that is at stake.

So I’m fighting my way back from the grave, with probably more fighting to come (when I see my doctor in a few weeks for a follow-up.) Let me be clear. I do not trust doctors, and I never will. Too much has happened to me and my family to be naive.  While I wouldn’t want to live without them, I also find it hard to coexist with their drug pushing ways. (It’s all they know in most cases.)

So that’s the scoop.  I do feel some better now, and I hope I feel a LOT better, once I’m finished with this second antibiotic. Say a prayer for me…

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just spend a week or two grieving for a loss, and then it would be done? No more sharp knives in the heart, no more waking up in the middle of the night, no more memories to constantly invade an otherwise routine day. But it seems like grief is the gift that keeps on giving. Attachments are made in this life, and love just naturally occurs. Severing that bond feels anything but natural.

My birth dad died several years ago, and his funeral was on New Years Eve. I had  never really cared for the holiday day before that, and I will never forget flying into our small town airport, having been through a tearful day of “good-byes”, as well as “hellos” to those I had not seen in a long time.  I knew that all I had hoped for in my relationship with my dad, would now never come to pass. We had known each other only on the surface, but had both longed for so much more. Distance and busy lives separated us, and sad to say, we let it. (You always think you’ll have more time.)

Not long after his death (about 5 months) my stepfather died. He had been in my life since I was age 7. Our relationship had been stormy initially, but developed into one of  the greatest miracles of my life. After I was married, and through the future years, we grew closer. He wasn’t one to have long heart to heart talks, but he often said “I love you” for no reason at all (other than the fact that he did.) The day that we found out that he needed triple bypass surgery, instead of being able to correct the problem with a stent, I cried in my car like he was already gone. My husband couldn’t understand why I  took it so hard that he would need the heart surgery, but there was a “knowing” in my spirit. I didn’t feel good about it, and I couldn’t stop crying. (Of course, I didn’t cry in front of him.) He came through the triple bypass fine, but succumbed to hospital acquired infections including pneumonia, staph, and serratia. We watched him dying through many long weeks of gasping for breath on a respirator in the ICU and CCU, and it was like a daily nightmare. Seeing him like that was so painful and heartbreaking, and even though I desperately wanted to have faith for him to live, it was apparent that minus a miracle, he wasn’t going to make it. When he died, we spent some moments as a family in his hospital room, that was eerily silent. No machines whirring, no beeps, no gasping for breath. Just a strange, stark silence.

He looked so big lying there. He was 6’4″, and I couldn’t imagine life without him. When the doctor had told us that he didn’t think Sam would make it, my mother said, (as we walked down the hospital corridor) “What am I gonna do?”

What were any of us going to do? He had represented strength to us, and a knowledge of so many things. He knew the answer to almost every question we had, and as long as Sam was around, every problem had a solution.

But once he was gone, life was brutal for my mom and me. Every day brought new discoveries of things that Sam had taken care of, that now we had to struggle with. Things like dragging the huge trashcan to the curb, wrestling to get groceries in the house after a full day of errands, a myriad of  doctor’s  appointments for my mom, bills and paperwork, house maintenance, applying for home insurance when their former insurance company left town (and being turned down by the first one, because there were too many things wrong with the aging house.)

Sometimes it seemed like all we did was fight to keep our heads above water.  I cried from exhaustion when alone at times, but mostly I just gritted my teeth, and forced my body to function when it was way past its ability. No one will ever know the toll those days took on us. I tried to compensate for what my mom couldn’t do, struggled to make sure that all her medications were filled on time, and taken properly, and was continually concerned about her diabetes, and her unpredictable episodes of low blood sugar that often scared the life out of me, until I could bring her around. Days were spent worrying about her, and nights were spent tossing and turning, with a cell phone always on and by my bed, waiting to proclaim the next catastrophe. This went on for 3 1/2 long years, and I could tell that my physical health and emotional health were declining rapidly. It felt like I was drowning, and I was trying to keep her head above water, while mine was going under for the third time. (I had lost both of my dads in the span of  5 months, and really had no chance to grieve, because there was always another crisis to get through. But no one seemed to see or care what I was dealing with. It was enough to break anyone, and there is no shame in that.)

I cried out to people around me, though honestly our family had gotten so small, there was really no one to cry out to. No one that could physically make a difference, except my brother. His total contribution had been to buy the groceries and eat them, on his lunch break every day. I never felt like I could ask him to do more, or that he would be willing to. My uncle, who lived in Atlanta, was a good sounding board, and seemed to “get” how terribly difficult this was becoming for me. He never made me feel guilty for feeling like I was about to collapse, and even though he is my mom’s brother, he advised me to do what I had to do to get out of the situation, if necessary, to protect my health.

My cousin Jack (who was more like a brother, as we had been raised together until I was 7) also wrote me one letter saying that I could only do what I was able to do. But several times after that, I talked with him, and he seemed to be reluctant to even have an opinion. When things got so bad, before my estrangement with my mom, I wrote him an email and left a couple of messages (reaching out once again), but I never got a reply. (This hurt, as we had been fairly close because of our childhood together.) To this day, I’ve never heard from him.  I changed my phone numbers so my “family” couldn’t torment me anymore, but he has always had my email address, if he wanted to reach me. He was in town for Christmas, but I was gone.  However, I doubt that he will ever contact me again. His loyalties are with my mom and brother.  It seems like this whole situation is fraught with collateral damage that couldn’t be avoided.

And I guess that is what I want to address in this post. Bereavement can cause such stress and strife in families, and the loss of my stepfather is what ultimately led to the estrangement between my mom and me. The stress of her care all falling on me, the responsibility for her happiness and well-being, the pressure to try and do the things that he had done for her, while still having to manage my own family and life, along with my mom’s increasing physical and mental problems, was just too much for our relationship.

There was some troubling history there already, though I had tried to ignore it for so long. But the more overwhelmed and tired I became (with almost no help, and the increase daily in serious problems–a broken right foot, a broken left leg, a broken right hip, and increasing dementia) then the more stressful the whole thing became. She became more and more belligerent  and rebellious. She refused to use her walker consistently, and kept falling over and over again, until I was at my wit’s end.  Now it was horribly affecting my health and well-being also. I spent half my life, it seemed, in the emergency room. Then she called me horrible names after all that I had done for her, and that was the last straw for me. As soon as I got her settled in a wonderful assisted living, my brother took her out against all medical advice, with his eye on inheriting the house. (If she had stayed in assisted living, her house would have needed to be sold, to finance her living arrangements, and he was adamantly against that. I just wanted her properly taken care of and supervised.) So I have not seen either of  them since before Thanksgiving 2008.

As you can see, there is a fallout from death. If you have not experienced it, consider yourself fortunate. It changes the family dynamic–it brings out greed in some people, and causes others to have to bear tremendous burdens alone. Many marriages are strained because of the resulting changes, and people’s lives are in the balance. Everyone can understand the pressures when a widow or widower is left to raise a child (or children) alone, but few people understand the effect that a very sick, obstinate, demanding, angry (and often just plain mean) elder, with increasing dementia can have on a primary caregiver.  For me, the problems were overwhelming, as I predict they will also eventually be for my brother, though he has help during the day (thank the Lord) when he works. I suspect that he does not have to attend every doctor appointment as I did. I had no help at all. 

Sadly, I found myself driving by the house tonight, under the cover of darkness, hoping to get a glimpse of my mother. But all I could see through the open door was my brother, standing at the sink.  I am grieving, because I will likely never see my mother again. I cared for her (and loved her) with everything in me, and tried so hard to keep her alive for the past 3 1/2 years. At times I thought maybe I would die before she did. (I take 9 medications, have diabetes and high blood pressure, and many other chronic medical problems.) Many days are a struggle for me to get through.  I gave up all my friends and social contacts, and really had little time for my daughter and husband. (Even less for myself.)

Many just do not realize how the loss of a family member changes SO much, and not just for the spouse, but for others also. And especially for those left to care for an aging, ailing parent (or small children) alone. I felt overwhelmed every day of my life.

I wish I could say that I felt numb now, or that I never think  of her or miss her. But I can’t.  She is usually the first thing on my mind every morning when I wake up, but then I remember her hateful words, and the despicable comments from my brother. That is when I pray for God to take this pain from my heart, and to help me to forgive.  I still love my mother, but I don’t feel anything for my brother.  I think indifference is much worse than hatred. At least there’s some passion and feeling in hatred.

Forgiveness is just like grieving, I guess. It doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a process. Wounds take time to heal, and anyone who says differently has never suffered heartbreak at the hands of  others. But if God says that forgiveness is possible, then I will trust that He is right.

So I guess I just needed to get that out tonight. All in all, my life is a lot better now, though my physical health is still a problem.  I still suffer from a sleep disorder. My heart will probably ache for the rest of my life over how this turned out, but God can also heal broken hearts. There is a limit to what a person can endure, and my death would not have enhanced my mom’s remaining time here on earth. 

I know that my brother is getting a dose of reality, though she will never likely emotionally abuse him, as she did me (all my life.) When you feel loved unconditionally (as he is by my mom) things are certainly easier to tolerate. But she never loved me like that, no matter how hard I tried to please her,  and I’ll never understand why.

This song is for those who have lost someone that you loved, through death or otherwise…

“The tragedy of life is what dies in the hearts and souls of people while they live.”  Albert Einstein

Isn’t that the truth? First of all, think about when you were a child. You had a sense of wonder about everything, because everything was new to you. Children believe in things that adults often don’t, because no one (yet) told them not to. As a child, we are trusting. We will smile at someone that adults would turn away from. We have not yet learned prejudice, judgement, or fear. Children are accepting. They will be a friend to those that the world scorns.

As a child, we are always learning, always asking questions, and always wanting to know more. There is simply not enough time to understand all we want to grasp.

Children have an innocence–a purity that is like freshly fallen snow.  And in that innocence there is such a freedom, to be who they are. The world quickly tries to steal that.

And think about the magic of dreams. As a teenager, we think we can do anything, be anything. The whole world lies before us, and it’s a time when we refuse to face our own mortality, because we feel completely immortal, and invincible. While it may not always be the wisest thing, perhaps it is necessary to see ourselves this way, in order to propel us forward into all that the future holds.

As a young adult, we do not fear extreme sickness or death. That only happens to old people, and we are vital and strong, full of hope and anticipation–ready to conquer the world.

Love is an ethereal thing, a feeling of pure ecstasy and passion. We think it will last forever, and throw all caution to the wind. We are not measured with our feelings, or careful with our show of affection. We simply blurt out “I Love You” every chance we get, and blow kisses on the wind.

So when did all this change? When did we become jaded about life? When did we cease to believe in childhood fantasies? When did we stop smiling at the outcasts of society, and start turning and running away? When did we stop trusting? When did we lose our sense of wonder and amazement about life? Who took our innocence? When did we begin to fear, and start to focus on our limitations?  When did words of love become fewer and fewer? When was passion replaced with indifference? (Which by the way, is truly worse than hatred.) When did we become cautious and guarded? When did we lose our dreams?

There is a time to grow up and mature–a time to put away childish things, but there is never a time to discard our childlikeness. We cannot even enter the Kingdom of Heaven (according to Jesus) unless we become like a little child.  He said “Of such is the Kingdom of God.”

I challenge you today– don’t let these things die, while you still live. Let a sense of awe remain in your heart all the days of your life. Be innocent and pure, without prejudice or arrogance. Don’t lose your childhood sense of freedom.  Be accepting of those that the world rejects. Crave Godly knowledge, for there is always something new to learn right up until your last breath (and even beyond.) Don’t be afraid to express your love, and do it today, because you are not promised tomorrow.

Believe in your inner strength. You can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens you. He tells us that as our days are, so shall our strength be. Always sufficient strength and grace for each new day–whatever we may face. Do not fear, but walk in faith.

Keep dreaming, keep trusting, keep believing! Keep searching for the Truth with all your heart and soul. Refuse to let these things die.  And while the way may be rough at times (as surely it will be) it will never be said that your life was tragic, because you truly lived each day, and knew what it was to be free…

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”  Robert Frost

Choices…Did you ever stop to think how one choice can change your whole life?  Sometimes it’s who you marry…or who you don’t.  Sometimes it’s a choice of career, or where you choose to live at any given time of your life.  All the dots are waiting to be connected, but a single choice makes a decidedly different picture.

Perhaps there truly are no coincidences in life, only choices.  And a thousand solitary choices make the whole of life. And not necessarily the apparent “big” choices.  Sometimes a small choice can make a huge difference. Like who you sit by on a bus, or what car you choose to get into.

To some degree, for those of us who believe in God, we have hoped deep in our hearts, that if we are straying too far from the path, God (in his mercy) would gently lead us back, until the original road resumed. I pray that is true.

But I believe that there are roads to be chosen, that will only lead us farther and farther away from our destiny. However, we are free to choose.  How many lives have been derailed by such a choice?  How many books are not written because of that, and how many songs unsung?  How many children are never born, and how many dreams are never realized?

A lot hinges on our choices then, doesn’t it?  Best that we should pray that the Holy Spirit would lead and guide us, and not ourselves. For we do not always choose the right path, left to our own desires. Our choices are clouded by longing, ego, selfishness, and immaturity (no matter our age.) And sometimes we don’t even realize the seriousness of our choices, for they may mean sorrow or joy, success or failure, or even life and death.

The less traveled path was clearly the best choice for Frost. He said that it had made all the difference.

In order to fulfill our dreams, we may have to let go of the predictable–the well-worn paths that are so familiar to us. The unknown often brings fear, simply because it is so uncharted and mysterious. (Sometimes we fool  ourselves into thinking that the demons we already know are safer. But such is not always the case.)

A quote that I read lately seemed to fit my present situation in life. It said: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell

And I clearly remember that John Lennon wrote: “Life is what happens while we are making plans.”

At times, the choice is to choose to give up our “plans.” Sometimes we pull so hard on the rope, that fate lets go of its end. We’re left with what we think we want, but not what was meant to be. Are we willing to let go of our predictable life, just on the chance that there might be something more awaiting us?

Many times we choose the safe, secure path, but perhaps my most favorite quote says: “A sailboat in harbor is safe, but that’s not what sailboats are for.” Sailboats gotta sail. Fish gotta swim. And each of us has a destiny, if we’ll just get out of the way. Stop holding on too tightly to what feels safe and secure, and venture out into the open sea.

I am crazy enough to believe that an exciting life awaits me, if I will stop being fearful. The older I get, the less I have to lose, and that alone will make me more adventurous and more of a risk taker. Isn’t life and love all about risk anyway? There are certainly no guarantees, except that you can lead a sheltered, wrapped in a knit shawl existence, and die without a moment of excitement, though completely safe and secure.

Getting older has its virtues. It makes you more aware of time, and of all the things you’ve not yet done. That may be the secret to youth, if we’ll just hold onto it–to live every moment, and to become more daring with each passing year. To constantly try something new and adventuresome, without calculating every reason why we shouldn’t.

But seek above all, to be led by the Spirit. God is always speaking to us, but we are not always listening, or we may not recognize His voice. We can only know His voice, by knowing Him. He will show us the way, if our hearts are just open to His leading, for it is He who has planned our destiny.

He will lead us to the road less traveled that will make all the difference.  But in the end, the choice is ours…

I’ve been missing for awhile now, because Chelsea has come home from England, and I wanted to spend some time with her. She crashed at our house for about 3 days, and got some much needed rest. Jet lag was really getting her down, not to mention that I don’t think she went to bed before the early morning hours, the entire time she was gone.

When she got off the plane, she stepped into an “uncivil” war between her birth mom and grandmother. The grandmother (hereafter called Nana) even refused to spend Christmas with her daughter (Chelsea’s birth mom.) Their feud has been going on for years, and the grandmother was exhausted from all of M’s scenes and actions. (But Chelsea hated that she was in the middle of this–with each one talking badly about the other.)

Her trip was nice, but the relationships were rugged, and often disappointing. She stayed with her grandmother first, who was very generous financially, but who smoked like a chimney, and never stopped talking.  At that point, early in the trip, she desperately wanted to come home. Fearing she could not survive much more, she went to the house where her birth mother was staying (rent free) with an old man, who was a friend of Nana’s. (I know, this gets complicated.)

But her birth mom turned out to be a drug addict (mostly prescription drugs, for a disease that Chelsea’s grandmother swears she does not have.) Nana says that she was there, when the doctor anounced that M did not have MS, and that M actually seemed disappointed. Apparently, she has convinced some doctor that she needs the drugs, so she has them supplied (also free) by the government medical program. Chelsea reports that her birth mom likes to drink and flirt with men. And she does this on a daily basis.

For Chelsea’s 20th birthday, she took her to a transvestite bar. (No, you can’t make this stuff up.) Chelsea called me in the early morning hours (their time) to share her birthday adventures. What kind of mother takes her daughter (who she hasn’t seen since age 3) to a transvestite bar? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

As the days wore on, the relationship between Chelsea and her birth mom soured daily. She made several calls to us, sounding very distressed and hyper, and said that her birth mom had commented, “It’s just like looking at myself at your age. Your parents think you’re great…but you’re not.” Etc. Etc. Etc. This surprised me, as we were very honest with her  (in a phone call before Chelsea went to London) about the problems that we have had with Chelsea, and told her that she was a difficult child to raise, but that she had lots of good qualities, and many talents. So we didn’t at all make it seem like we thought she could do no wrong. We certainly knew better than that.

I never could quite get the chronological order from Chelsea, of how it all went wrong, but before the trip was over, she was so angry at her birth mom, that they were barely speaking.

Chelsea said that she seemed to be competing with her, when they were in the pubs, and that her birth mom would indiscriminately give out her phone number to strangers. She seemed very angry that her mom didn’t have a steady job, and that she used drugs that she didn’t need. She said that her mom just wanted to talk about herself, and she also talked incessantly.  (She is a diagnosed narcissist, according to Chelsea’s stepdad, who has long since left her. Chelsea says that she has been married 4 times.)

Before the month long trip was over, Chelsea returned to her grandmother’s house, and was angry that her birth mom “bailed” on her for New Years Eve. They had plans to go to Trafalgar Square, but her birth mother texted her that she didn’t want to go, and later used the excuse that Chelsea wouldn’t want to be with her “mom” on New Year’s Eve. This really made Chelsea mad, and she told her not to pull that, because they had made plans, and her birth mom didn’t show. (Chelsea went out with her newly acquired friends.)  So it seemed to be one let down after another.  At one point Cheslea apparently told her that she clearly wasn’t “mother material.”

She did stay with her aunt in Bath, (her birth mom’s sister) who had a five year old son. She is much more stable.

Chelsea says that everyone in London walks, or takes the tube. Well, not everyone–some have cars, but she walked a great deal, as do many there, apparently. I feel that she was not supervised properly, because she recounted often walking after getting off the tube, through a very dangerous area to get home. Chelsea is not all that street-wise, after growing up in a small seaside town.  Of course, she is of legal age, but still very immature in so many ways. You know how it is when you are young–you think you’re invincible, and going out takes precedence over all the dangers of finding your way home. And so it was…

She did get to see many historic places, and she made friends of her own, which I knew she would, in a very short time. She is a survivor, and this was a LOT to survive.

What was the effect of all this? Chelsea got some of the answers that she needed, and her love for us grew. She told me after she got home, that she loved me, not only for adopting her, but for who I was. She said that I had always been consistent, and I could see that the instability of her birth mom had her feeling very insecure. I got a text message yesterday that she described as a “love letter” just for me. She said that she loved me more than my best home cooking, and her tatoo. Then she added, “And that’s a lot of love.” What more could any mom desire? LOL!  Truthfully, it made my day!

In the long run, this has turned out to be a very positive thing for our relationship. She seems to be truly grateful for the life she had with us. She appears to have a greater appreciation for the way she was brought up, and she genuinely seems to be thankful for the life she leads now.

(There are no fantasies anymore–just the cold, hard facts that are very hurtful.)

At one point, after Chelsea got home, she said she didn’t want to see her  birth mother again, but later changed that to say that she would see if there were any changes, but she doubted that she would ever change. This was very sad to me, as I could see that Chelsea had been hurt by her mother a great deal. (There are times when you love someone very much, that you take no pleasure in being right about a situation. I had hoped for the best for Chelsea’s sake.)

Her grandmother was very happy to see her though, and she had saved her christening dress, and some of her baby clothes, all these years, and sent them home with Chelsea.  I thought this was very special. Chelsea wanted me to have them for now, and display them in her room. Her grandmother spent a lot of money on her, and even provided the money for her airplane fare, souveniers, and one month’s rent (for the time she was out of work.) Chelsea lives and works about 45 minutes from us, in a nearby town.  Her grandmother is a retired barrister, but is by no means well to do. She lives in a small flat, in a not so great part of town, so her generosity meant that much more. I know she truly loves Chelsea. She’s a character though, and before Chelsea left, Nana purchased a motor scooter!

So that is Chelsea’s journey, and we have come full circle. Well, not completely full circle, because now she wants to find her birth dad….

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Tonight we went to a place called “Lamberts-Home of The Throwed Rolls.” Yes, you heard me right. They say “throwed rolls” instead of “thrown rolls.” Imagine my surprise when we were seated, and a young man two rows over from me threw a roll at me!  Wouldn’t you know it? It landed right between my legs! (Thank goodness I was wearing slacks.) The next roll he threw hit me in the chest. (Great aim, huh?) Anyway, they throw the rolls with gloved hands. But some of them land on the floor.

After you order off the menu, they come to your table with great big pans of what they call “pass arounds”. These are items like fried okra, home fried potatoes, and field peas. By the time you’ve eaten all this, you wish you hadn’t ordered off the menu!  My husband said it was the only place that he’s ever been where he couldn’t eat all the food. There was just too much! And it was good!!!!

Meanwhile, rolls are flying all over the place, but I noticed that most of the guys were throwing them underhanded, close to the tables they were serving. My waiter (or pitcher) threw me overhanded fastballs, from across the room LOL! And they were hot rolls when they landed! (Don’t know how they keep them so hot!) Anyway, what a wild place!

(It was quite a different experience, and one I am not likely to forget anytime soon.)

Then I shopped a little at Old Time Pottery, while my husband got us some groceries to take back to the beach house. It was so much fun to check out, and then go put my feet up at a snack area, and drink a coke and relax (while the rest of the world was going crazy.) Never have I had such a peaceful Christmas. We will be staying cozy for the next couple of days, except for Christmas dinner out.

I had some unexpected freelance assignments that came in just before Christmas, and I’ve been working on them for 2 days. I couldn’t turn them down, because they were the first offers that I’ve received from this company.  But at any rate, they’re finished now, and I plan to rest and sit in my cozy chair for the next 4 days. We will be returning home on Sunday, so we still have quite a bit of time. Tomorrow we’ll take a walk on the beach. (We are right on the ocean, and the view is out of this world.) It was very cold the past few days, so it has really felt like Christmas.

I feel so very blessed to be able to do this, and we may make it a tradition. It’s time for us to make new Christmas memories. I hope wherever you are tonight, that you will focus on happy memories of Christmas past, and look with expectation toward a bright future. Every day is a miracle, and you never know what’s just around the corner. God is faithful, and you are always on His mind. Merry Christmas Everyone! Sparkle

When you live in NW Florida, chances are you won’t have a white Christmas. But there is something white that we are famous for. (Our beautiful white sand beaches.) I am about 2 1/2 hours away from home at Gulf Shores–a gorgeous community where my husband brought me for Christmas. We are on the ocean, and when I look out the window and down the coast, it looks just like snow. (Bet you couldn’t tell the difference if I sent you a picture.)

The weather is cold, and I’m glad. I like it cold for Christmas. I decorated our tree tonight, and also had fun making some Christmas gift bags to go under our tree. Lots of sparkle…(well, of course.)

Today we stayed in, and had a breakfast for supper, and then played Christmas carols while I decorated the tree. This is going to be my favorite Christmas ever. For once, I didn’t have to host the family Christmas get-together, clean house, cook, wrap presents and shop endlessly, etc. I only had my husband to buy for this year, since I am estranged from my family. Chelsea is in England, visiting her birth mom.  So at our house no one is “home for Christmas.” LOL! Seriously, this is the most peaceful Christmas that I have ever had, and we may go away every year. We lit candles tonight, while I decorated. One of my favorites is Yankee Candle’s Mistletoe. It actually smells more like a Christmas tree than a Christmas tree! But I believe they retired it last year, so I probably will only find it on Ebay in years to come. I also had a terrific cinnamon candle, and a peppermint one. All the fragrances of Christmas filled our lovely beach house.

It is so nice to slow down. Since my dad died 3 1/2 years ago, and I became the primary caregiver for my mom, I have been on the go every minute. I never slowed down, or seemed to have a moment to call my own. I was on edge every minute, wondering when the next crisis call would come (and believe me, there have been many.) My nervous system was whacked. I knew that I was going to have to slow down, or die. I am very serious about that. My physical health was going downhill, as well as my mental health. I was trying too hard to please. Now, I am on the road to recovery, and I want to take better care of myself. I want to do some things that bring me  joy and happiness, and I want to spend some time with my husband. We both are worn out, stressed out, and just plain tired. But this is the beginning of real change in our lives, I pray. 

I am healing little by little from the hurt that my family has caused, and I know that in time I will be healed, and in a much better place in my life. I am learning to let go of the things that I can’t change, and to surround myself with people who will encourage me and build me up, instead of tearing me down.

I need to spend time alone, and time with God as well. I just need to slow down, and as they say “smell the roses.”

This has been the roughest time in my life–taking the very best care that I could of my mother, and then realizing that she is never going to approve of me or ever love me unconditionally. I finally had enough, and I only wish that I had seen the truth sooner. But I am sure that the timing was for a reason, and I will never regret taking care of her, and loving her to the best of my ability. But I can’t do anymore, and she and my brother have shown me the darkness that is in their souls, and I have had more than enough of it.

So here’s to the light, and all things joyful, peaceful, and lovely. Here’s to a beautiful holiday, and a truly “new” New Year. And yes, here’s to a “White Christmas…”

By now, my daughter is likely asleep in England, at her birth grandmother’s house. This journey has not been a simple as any of us thought it might be. (See my post on “My Cinderella” for background information.)

After us making contact with her birth mom several months ago (at Chelsea’s request), the first plan was for her birth mom to come to our town, and visit Chelsea for awhile. The next unexpected plan involved Chelsea inviting her to move in with her. (This caused some concerns for us, because of  what we knew of her background.) But we had never said anything negative about her birth mom, and always tried to acknowledge that she wanted her in a good home, and that she loved her. However, after raising our daughter for 17 years (she is now almost 20), we did have qualms, because her mother placed her for adoption (at age 3) due to some overwhelming personal problems. But we realized that Chelsea was an adult now (at least in numbers), and that we would have little to say about her choices.

However, not long after all this happened, we got a surprising call from England, from the birth grandmother. She left a message, saying that she wanted to bring us up to date, on what was going on in Chelsea’s birth mom’s life currently. (I will call her birth mom M from now on.) The tone of the message did not lead us to believe that the revelations were going to be good ones.

So when the times lined up right with the States and England, we returned her call. Before I go into that conversation, you need to know that we assumed that M had arrived here, and moved in with Chelsea, as we had heard nothing different, and the date of her expected arrival had long passed. (We had not heard a word from Chelsea, though it had been planned for all of us to meet for dinner, at some point, so we were beginning to wonder if that was going to happen.)

However, after a comedy of errors concerning the whole scenario,  it turns out that there was a problem with M’s passport, and once she reached Atlanta, she was promptly sent back to England. (So she had never arrived here after all.)

Now-enter the return call to Chelsea’s grandmother. She talked, and we listened (almost entirely) for about 2 1/2 hours. She told us that M was doing drugs and drinking.  And that she had very recently thrown a frightening temper tantrum with her sister, and because of that, she was presently living with a friend of the grandmother’s. The grandmother explained that when M gets like that, she will not let her stay with her. The grandmother said that she had told Chelsea about the situation with her birth mom (in a phone call), and gave her the choice to stay with M or with her (the grandmother.) Chelsea chose the grandmother. (Thank God.)

I asked the birth grandmother if she thought that M would expose Chelsea to drugs (or alcohol), and she said that it would not surprise her, and she didn’t feel good about her staying with her, for that reason. (Not that Chelsea hasn’t been around alcohol (and possibly drugs) on her own, but she is not even of legal age, in our state, to drink.) And she is running with a better crowd these days, and playing and singing in the church praise band.

Chelsea had told us that her birth mother had wanted her to fly to Cancun, and suggested that they try to enter the country illegally through Miami (on a sailboat.) ????????? (Since she couldn’t get in the U. S. with her passport.) Don’t you love it?????? This was too crazy even for a adventuresome teen-aged girl.)

Turns out that M had a drug conviction (her mother suspects more than one) and that is why she couldn’t enter the U. S. The birth mother claims this is a misdemeanor drug charge, but again the grandmother feels there is more to it, and most likely several charges.

So suddenly, the birth mom who looked so appealing to Chelsea, just a few short weeks before, now appears to have some very serious problems. This we had suspected, but it was all revealed without us having to say a thing. Later, Chelsea asked us some questions, and we answered them the best we could–truthfully and honestly.

Thanksgiving was spent with Chelsea, and she talked the entire time about her trip. She was excited to be going to England for the holidays, and after getting used to the idea, we were happy for her, (though still concerned.) Her birth grandmother had sent her $2,500 plus for her plane ticket and some warm clothes. (What’s not to be excited about?)

It turns out that her birth mother has been married several times, and has never really settled into a long term relationship, or a career. When we knew her, she was a casino dealer for many years. She told Chelsea that her dream is to take her backpacking across Europe. (Two ladies alone? What next?????) M had recently sailed to some country in South America (entirely alone), and apparently became a house mother to orphans, for a couple of years.  (You can’t make this stuff up.)  So she is pretty much a drifter, and a gypsy at heart. She is 44 years old, and Chelsea appears to be much more mature. (A very scary thought.)

I asked the grandmother about M being a Christian, (as she had told us that she was.) The grandmother answered something about her “pulling the religion card.” ( So I don’t know…only time will tell.)

This whole deal is even more worrisome than we had imagined. But what can we do but hold our breath, trust God, and pray?

So today, Rob took Chelsea to the airport, and off she went. She will be away for her birthday and Christmas, for the first time in her life. I do believe that she will have a good time, as her birth grandmother is a barrister (an attorney in U.S. terms) and she will take her to many interesting places.  I know that this will bring some healing to Chelsea, and possibly her birth mom. But still, I have all the fears and anxieties that any mother would be feeling.

I gave Rob a card to give to her on the way to the airport. It said: “Before I held you in my arms, I held you in my heart.” On the inside it adds, “And that is where you have always been, and will always be.”

When she was little, she once said to me, “Mommy, I wish I came from your tummy.”

 I told her, “Sweetie, you came from my heart.”

Rob told me that she thought it was one of the neatest cards that she had ever seen. I told her to have a great trip, to be safe and well, and to remember that I love her always.

It’s strange…God does work in mysterious ways. Because as painful as all of this has been for us (her parents), I do believe that God is using it for good. She seems to be much more thankful for the home life that she had, and for the love and nurturing that she received from us. We will always be mom and dad, and now she will be able to fit the pieces of the puzzle together concerning her earlier life, and hopefully find some answers and healing. It’s all good in the long run, I guess.

And the only thing that really matters to me, is the love I see…in my daughter’s eyes…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html