Monday, June 6, 2016

Rape Culture....

So, this week, I have been inundated with the stories of the swimmer who raped the unconscious woman he dragged behind a dumpster. He was sentenced to 6 months (he will serve 3) because the judge didn't want to ruin his life.

He has vowed to travel to colleges and high schools and expose the dangers of binge drinking and promiscuity on campuses.

Promiscuity.

Hmmmmm

So, this male is claiming that it was alcohol and promiscuity that provoked this rape....not his need for power over an unconscious woman....

As a woman...as a mother of daughters and sons...I call bullshit.

My sons understand that no means no and yes means yes and unless yes is said clearly and understandably, it is a no.  My daughter understands this as well.  She is 7.

I am frustrated with a culture that condones a light sentence to "not ruin his future."  What about her future?  What about the past year for her?  What are those things worth?  I am angered, as a mother of boys, that my sons are looked at as people who can not control themselves when a woman walks by...that there is something inherent in their DNA that makes them not responsible for their own actions.

I don't care how drunk she was or how promiscious she was or was not....I don't care if she is naked and gyrating against my son....they have been taught that unless she uses the word "yes" she is still saying no.  That word has to cross her lips in a coherent manner.

And
can a person who is unconscious give consent?  Can a person who can't stand up give consent? Can a person who is altered in any way, give consent?

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

I can't believe that 20 years after I underwent questions asking what kind of clothes I was wearing and if I was sitting with my legs closed or if they were parted, another woman was asked the same questions.  Were my breasts showing when I bent over to hit the pool ball?  Why was I wearing perfume that night?  Had I ever slept with guys on the first night meeting them?  Did I laugh provocatively? Did I find many people attractive?  Did I tell dirty jokes?  Did I laugh at dirty jokes?  At any point in the evening did I lick my lips?  Was I looking at the defendant?  Where did I purchase my underwear from?

Do any of the answers to those questions change what he did?  Nope...not for a second.  Did I ever say yes?  Nope.  Did I say "no?" Several times.  Was I injured? Yes.  Was he convicted?  No....

I thought that 20 years later, campus rape would be looked at differently...that it would be looked at as rape...

I was wrong.

One son is 18.  He is in the army.  My other son is 17 and will be leaving for college in a couple of years.

Today is the day I speak to my sons again...no means no and it never means yes.
Today is the day I speak to my daughter...to remind her that she can wear whatever she wants...she can speak to whomever she pleases...she can love whomever she loves

And...in my heart...I will try to believe that is true.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Diagnoses call for new measures

I had never heard of "conversion disorder."  I had heard of major depressive disorder, chronic depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorder, addiction, and PTSD.  All of those things I had already been diagnosed with at one time or other.  Conversion disorder was a new one for me.

I don't remember much of that day.  I remember feeling poorly, having a migraine (not unusual) and crawling in for a nap with my bird.  That is what I remember.  Afterward, I have no recollection of but my family does.  They remember me not being able to walk correctly and toppling into walls and chairs.  They remember me not being able to speak correctly and laughing and making no sense.  They remember me seizing and asking for my dead grandmother and not recognizing them or knowing who or where I was.  They remember the hospital where I continued to seize and the ambulance ride with lights and sirens.  They remember the MRI, two CT scans, EKGs, EEGs, and more blood draws than they can count.  They remember the next 5 days.  I do not.

I have been spared the memory of not knowing who they were or thinking it was 1998 or 2011.  I have been spared the memory of being told my grandma had died two years ago, every day, at least twice a day.  I do not remember having multiple seizures...over 17 in all.  I do not remember.

This is conversion disorder.  My stress, anxiety, and depression, along with my migraines, are manifesting themselves in physical symptoms.  This can be "cured" with meds and talk therapy and stress reduction.

Stress reduction.  Hmmmm. I have two teenage children, one is in the army.  I have a tiny bird with autism and epilepsy.  I have all the other diagnoses, still...and now I have a new one.  Reducing stress and anxiety seems kind of hard.  Which is stressful....great.

I usually write stories about my birds...about their nest.  Today, the story is about me.  I am the mama and my job is to keep the nest running smoothly and lovingly.  My job is to greet the struggles with strength and a "can do" sort of attitude.  I can't do my job.

But then, is that really my job?  Is my job to protect the birds from life or is it to show them that sometimes, we all need help.  Sometimes, the help isn't something like "can you throw in a load of laundry" but it is something like "I need a break."  Sometimes the help needs to come from someone outside our little flock...or sometimes from someone inside the flock but outside of the nest.

Sometimes we all need help.
Sometimes the mama bird can't fix everything.
Sometimes things are broken and can't be "fixed" but they need to be worked around and with.

So this is our new season.  It requires some adjustments and some new understandings.  It requires some new ways of approaching things.  BUT...we will do it.  We will do it together and with the help of others.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Boot Camp, Baby birds, and big changes

The oldest bird just recently graduated from boot camp!!!  This mama bird's heart was bursting at the seams.  Holy cow...who knew there was another level of proud?!?!

AND

The middle bird went to two proms....TWO PROMS!!!  Be still my heart!

AND

Baby bird has her dance recital coming up AND is going to turn 7!!!  Where did the time go?

Right now, my brain is having a hard time adjusting to the reality that my oldest is a soldier, my middle is in love, and my baby is walking to school by herself.

I also resigned from my well-loved teaching spot and am moving on to a new school.

All this change is hard on an old bird.

But it is exciting too...all the fresh possibilities...all the differences to learn about...all the potential!!!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's been awhile

Sometimes life seems to get extra hectic and I don't get the opportunity to write as often as I would like....well...that is ALWAYS the case.

This month has been a stressful month.

Sometimes the personal issues we deal with happen to get in the way of the life we are trying to live and that has been my most recent reality.

Some of the stuff is mine
Some belongs to other people and affects me in the periphery
Some belongs to other people and I just pick them up...even though I shouldn't.

My oldest bird leaves for basic training in 12 days.  12 days.  It doesn't seem long enough to hug him and love him and tell him how proud I am of him.

And like all moms, I worry.
I worry about the realities and I worry about the "what ifs."  Those darn "what ifs" get me every time.  I can't seem to stop them, and like a ball of snow headed downhill, they pick up debris and gain in size and momentum.

I can't stop them.

They start off as tiny snow flakes...just one or two...and I allow them to drift around and don't see the danger.  It's just a couple of snowflakes, after all.  Before I know it....BOOOOOOOM....avalanche.  Too many snowballs to stop.  Some I can head off but the rest, I am powerless over and they hurl down that mountain getting bigger and bigger.

And, you know how insidious that one snowball is....he brings friends.  And, before I know it, there are more snowballs than basic training....now the snowballs have words like "seizures" and "autism" and "self-injurious behaviors" and "girlfriends" and "jobs" and "laundry."

Those snowballs don't seem to stop.

And now....
I am buried.

Trying to tunnel my way out from under the crushing weight of all that snow.

It's been hard
and
tiring
and
cold
and
lonely.

But....I am getting there
I am still breathing
there are small victories

And
every day
my tunnel out gets bigger
and safer
and clearer.

So to all my friends...

you are not alone

It won't always be winter
It won't always be cold
It won't always be lonely.

Today, on my drive to work, it was snowing.
But, the trees were covered in a glint of ice and the reflections of the flakes were beautiful.  And the breeze was not blowing and the snow was not sticking.  They were just single flakes, drifting in harmony, from the sky.

The thaw is coming.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Those reminders

Today, I was reminded that my life is not "typical."

I was running those last minute errands (like...oh man we are out of milk and today is Christmas EVE!!!!) and I was stopped in the produce aisle by a sweet woman who attends church with us.  She told me how much she enjoys baby bird and how strong we are, as her parents.  I expressed my joy at all my birds as well, thanked her, and wished her a Merry Christmas.

I started thinking, you know, why do people think I am so strong?  I am not doing anything that every other parent does.  We all want what is best.  We all try our hardest to teach our children those important life lessons.  We all try to make sure they are wearing matching clothes (some big battles, let me tell you.)

I was telling a friend of mine this exact thing, waxing on a bit poetically (sometimes I feel I am allowed a little more waxing license than is probably permitted) and she said...oh but I could never do what you do, everyday.

I asked her what she meant and she looked at me like a grew a second head (and most likely a second head with some sort of medieval bent to it) and said....you stick a tube in your kid's stomach twice a day at least!!!  I could never do that.  Then she made a gagging face.

While this gave me some time to rethink our friendship, it also gave me pause.  Hey, you know what?  Most people DON'T do that!  But I do.  I am so glad I do.  And I vowed to be more present in the mechanical motions of my day and take note.  Here is what I learned.

I am so grateful for the little port in baby bird's tummy.  Every morning and every night, we open that port and attach a tube.  Through that tube we can administer medication that will help prevent the seizure monster from stealing more from her.  We also administer all the daily fruit and veggie requirements (thanks, by the way, JuicePlus+) that will help keep her healthy and strong.  Into that tube, connected to her port, we can give cough medicine and pain medicine and even supplement her food so baby bird can gain weight and strength.  That little port gives life.  Not everyone has a tubie, that's for sure.  But baby bird does, and I am so grateful for that tiny little tubie that helps keep my baby bird alive.

I am so grateful for the medicine we have to administer.  That medicine has helped keep some of the seizures away from her.  Those nasty seizures that have stolen words and the ability to walk.  The medicine keeps those mostly away.  I remember before that medicine when skills would disappear.  I remember all the times we have stopped that medicine and I watched her lose words and the ability to walk until she sat, eyes unfocused, drooling, alone in the world because she didn't know who we were or that we were there.  I am so thankful for the medication that keeps my bird being....my bird.

I am so grateful for her hard work to use words to express her emotions.  We sure still have days that involve melt-downs and beak-downs and often times these are horrible and scary and they are always hard.  But, she does have words now.  So many don't.  They can't express what makes them frustrated or hurt so for each "I HATE YOU" and each "I QUIT EVERYTHING" I am grateful.  She is communicating. she experiences frustration.  Those things mean she isn't locked in her own world.  She is in mine too.  She is a part of the world around her.  We were told that might never be the case.

I am so grateful for her need for structure and routine.  I never knew it was something I craved until it became a necessary part of our lives.  How much easier is life when all your green shirts are kept together?  How much easier is life when only one kind of pant will be worn?  How much easier is life when everyday, at exactly the same time, the same thing happens?  Sure, spontaneity is a thing of the past, and everyday that something different will happen has to be prepped for....but seriously....sometimes that routine is so calming

I am so grateful for the nights with no accidents.  After 6 1/2 years, baby bird is potty trained at night.  We had resigned ourselves to that never happening.  Leave it to baby bird to prove everyone wrong again.  I am grateful for the nights that accidents happen.  Those nights mean her bladder is working.  They mean she had an accident...not an on-purpose.  All things to be grateful for.

I am so grateful for all the atypical aspects of my life....for the tubies and medicines and equipment and specialists and teachers and therapists and PCAs and neighbors and friends who help keep our atypical life.well....typical for us.  I am grateful for the other birds and their flexibility and their caring and their patience and their joy in the small things. It keeps us sane.

I am so grateful that I have been blessed by the ability to see the blessings in things, big and small.  And I am so grateful for the people who remind me of the strength of every single person....we are all stronger and more capable than we know.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

trolleys and pumpkins and autism

We recently were able to take the bird to a really cool autism event.  A trolley ride on a 100 year old trolley.  Since her love of Daniel Tiger has not waned and we had the weekend free, we made the 3 1/2 hour trek to the twin cities.

What a wonderful experience!

The bird likes to know exactly where we are and how many miles/blocks we have to go and how many miles/blocks we have already journeyed.  It was a long 3 1/2 hours!

I was worried she would melt down.  I was worried the wind would bother her or her hair would touch her face or someone would breathe incorrectly next to her or there wouldn't be any pumpkins the right shape or size or....well, you know, autism.

I forgot that this event was specifically for autistic kiddos.  I wouldn't have to have apologies handy or excuses on the ready.  We would just get to be.

What a GIFT!!!

To be.  Nothing more...no need to be polite or happy or well-adjusted or talkative or quiet or....anything.  To just be whatever we are at the time.

The event lasted around an hour.  The bird won the grand prize!

She laughed and smiled and had her picture taken and...just was.



Sunday, August 30, 2015

A long long time ago

A long long time ago, in the distant past, I was a college student.  Anyone else remember a million years ago to when you went to college?
Last night, I was laying in bed, wrecked with anxiety remembering college.
Don't get me wrong, there were lots of wonderful times in college and I made some of my best friends there, but, overall, it was not necessarily a "good" time in my life.

I remember spending nights crying, hyperventilating, while having horrible memory flashbacks.  I remember drinking for the 1st time and never knowing how NOT to drink to excess.  I tried drugs for the 1st time in college and it would take those 4 years plus one more to stop.  At my worst, I was getting high several times a day and doing whatever drugs I could find.

I didn't care.
I wanted to not feel
or
to feel normal

My whole life, I suffered from depression.  I suffer from depression.  It hasn't gone away.  I just take medication and spent years in therapy learning how to cope.  Learning how to breathe through those nights like last night.

Nothing triggered me last night.
I simply went to bed.
And they came...unasked...and I couldn't stop them.  I had to breathe through them.  All the horrible things that happened to me and all the horrible things I did.

breathe

and remember that I am not my past.  I am not my past choices.
I am today
I am tomorrow
yesterday brought me here
it did its job
but I am not defined by it

When you are suffering from depression, things that might not make sense to anyone else make perfect sense to you.  Those very things that make complete sense to you make no sense to people not suffering from depression.  They say they are egotistical thoughts or selfish behaviors or dumb or crazy.  None of that makes those things NOT make sense to you...they just make you feel more and more alone.

I hurt a lot of people.
my family
friends
co-workers
bosses
neighbors
strangers

but mostly
I hurt me.

I was just a girl...
so lost
so alone in a crowd
so
alone

I am so much older now...and wiser...and calmer...and medicated :)
I have been clean for 20 years.  Almost half my life and still...
still...
I have night like last night where it hurts to breathe and I feel myself getting sucked down
drowning in anxiety and depression

The difference is, I have tools now.  I can remember to breathe...to take deep breathes...to tell myself to relax with each exhale.  I can not stop those waves but I can surf through them.

I did not drown


We can't not change the waves but we can learn to surf.
~ Jon Kabat Zinn