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This Small-Town Life

I was low on energy, lonely and I started feeling trapped.

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I grew up in a small town and met my husband in a small town. At least, I thought they were small. He kept telling me how big they were to him. I always laughed. I learned to drive in Seattle, albeit, the ghetto of Seattle, but I still had to hit the freeway during driver’s training. I also lived in a good size city, though it was no Seattle. I traveled across the country by train when I was 21 and when we stopped for a few hours in different cities, I would go explore by myself. Denver was my favorite in that trip. The town we lived in when we were dating and first married was not big enough. I didn’t realize how small it could get.

When the opportunity came to move to Andy’s hometown, we took it. I had visited a few times and always imagined living on the coast. I had no idea how much a small coastal town would challenge me. In every way. Within two weeks I got a job at the local coffee shop and loved it. It is still my favorite coffee shop! In that first week I found out how fast news spread. I was at work and a woman came in and asked if I was the Aimee who had done childcare.

After 6 months of living in our small coastal town I was doing childcare full time and left the coffee shop. I was happy to be with the kids, but when I took them to the park there were hardly ever any other kids and only one time was there another adult. We hadn’t found a church yet and I was not having any adult interaction. I was getting very lonely. Our second winter began, and my doctor already had me on Vitamin D for energy levels since us, in the great Pacific Northwest spend most of our year in clouds and can’t get the sunshine.

I was low on energy, lonely and I started feeling trapped. Back “home”, Andy and I were able to pick from a multitude of restaurants, walk along the river without the fear of waves taking you out to sea, had dozens of hikes to choose from that could be hiked no matter what the weather, were less than an hour from an actual city and even had a Walmart. Here, to the North 30 minutes is a town smaller than ours. To the South 30 minutes is a town that is bigger than ours, with a Fred Meyer, but still smaller than any town I lived. To the East 40 minutes is a small town with a population of 55 (half of those are Andy’s family), and to the West is a family of Mermaids… or seals. I began shopping in the town over just to get out of town.

After a year of searching for a church, we finally found our “family.” Our church is 40 minutes a way from our house. We love it but it is hard to go to the evening services because I don’t like to drive at night and usually have to get up early the next morning (not early as in 7am, early as in 4 am). I am now head of creating a children’s department. I am excited about the things to come with the ministry but did not realize how hard not being 5 minutes from church would be. I try and plan my days accordingly, so I am not spending a lot on gas money. Therefore, I am not working on random projects as much as have in the past at my church.

Does it sound like I am complaining? I am. I have told Andy a few times recently that I can’t stay here anymore. I hate our apartment. I am lonely. We are far from our church. I want to go to a good hippie restaurant and get kombucha on tap. I miss my family. And then, there are the other days.

There are days when I think about all the memories, we have made in the past two years in our little apartment. I have started making true friends and relationships. Every time I walk into church I truly feel at home. I still miss good food and my family. However, when I walk along the ocean, I have a peace wash over me. When I cuddle with Andy, no matter where we are at, I feel at home. When I think about the past two years and how close Andy and I have grown, the friends that I have made, bringing Jax into our family, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

God leads us places and there are times that we don’t understand. Most of the time we don’t even see the “why” until years later. That is okay with me. It is not always okay when I am upset but when I pull myself together, I get excited to see what is next, and what God is going to bring. Whether God moves us to somewhere else or fills our life with the relationships we need to prosper, I know He has a plan and that He can, and will use our story.

I know many of you out there have felt upset with your lives. You felt lonely. You felt like something was missing. You felt unfulfilled. You wanted good food.  It’s okay. You are not alone. You will get through this time and in the future, it will make sense. You will look back and realize how much you grew. You will not be able to count the abundance of relationships you have formed. You will see the gifts that you have cultivated in this time. Take heart my friends, as you grasp your current adventure.

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Good-bye my Monster

There was no heartbeat. My tears turned to sobs. I didn’t know how much I loved my Monster already.

Good-bye my Monster -October 8, 2018-

It was a Saturday night on September 1st, 2018. I was home alone because my love was at work. We had been talking about kids for quite some time and I had been off birth control for almost two years. I was bored and decided that I should look up more information about ovulation and fertility. I remembered that a friend had given me some ovulation and pregnancy tests. I had never looked at them and went upstairs to open the pack. The pregnancy stick was a bit bigger than a toothpick and the package said I was supposed to stick it in a cup of urine. Everyone hates peeing in a cup so I awkwardly went into the bathroom to see how hard it would be to pee on it itself. I know, its weird, but it happened. I set it on the counter and went about household chores.

It was at least 15 minutes later if not hours that I was walking past the bathroom and saw that the stick had two lines…. Not one but two. I thought it must be wrong because I didn’t follow the instructions. My mind was racing so I dug in the back of the closet for an expensive test from a year ago when every other weekend I was hoping I was pregnant. In the past the one line took awhile to truly form so I figured that I would be on the edge of my seat. Within seconds the test popped up positive. I still couldn’t believe it so I drank some water waited an hour or two and used the last expensive one. Before I could even set it on the counter it was positive. I was pregnant!

I was asleep before my husband came home and had gone to sleep thinking about how I would tell him. I had many cute ideas but in the past he had always told me that even when I had an urge to take a pregnancy test that he wanted to know about it. We had planned on having lunch with friends from church and I didn’t know if I should tell him before or if I should wait. I woke up and took a shower with a smile on my face. I woke up my love to tell him he could jump in the shower now. I sat next to him and he turned his face towards me and I couldn’t help it; I reached in my nightstand and grabbed the baggie that had all three of the tests and put it on the bed.

“What is that?” he asked with his head smashed into the pillow.

“What do you think it is? Look at it closer,” I said as I scooted it closer to his face.

“Is that what I think it is,” he asked in a morning gruffy voice, “Are you pregnant?”

As he got off the bed and walked to the bathroom he stretched and said, “It’s too early for all this, I am still sleeping.”

I giggled as he walked into the bathroom because I knew how happy he was. I laid there waiting and letting him process. Before he jumped into the shower he said, “I can’t even see it, I am still sleeping.” He took a shower and came into the room with an emotionless face. As he fell on top of me to give me a hug he said, “We are having a baby.”

On our way to church we talked about the next steps and he told me that he wanted to tell my parents right away. We were going to sushi for lunch, so I was researching what I could and couldn’t have. As we were getting closer to our favorite coffee place I reassured him that I looked up how much caffeine I could have and that he needed to stop. We smiled all through church and lunch we had to suppress our excitement. We stopped at the store on our way home to grab another test, because, that’s what some people do when they are in disbelief.

When we got home my love asked me if we were going to tell my parents. He knew it was earlier than most people say anything but he had talked about how it is our family and they are here for us no matter what happens. He also talked about how as people of faith we can have a circle of people around us praying. We facetimed them that evening. They were excited, but you could see the fear in my mother’s eyes knowing that it was so early. She promised that she wouldn’t tell anyone before we were ready. We chuckled at that and didn’t know how long that she would be able to keep it a secret. We said goodbye and spent the evening smiling and talking about the future.

We made an appointment with my PCP as soon as possible. That appointment was the most anti-climatic situation that I had ever been in. The nurse asked some questions and was incredibly supportive and sweet. The doctor came in and asked how many tests I had taken, if I was experiencing certain symptoms and when my last period was. She congratulated us and talked about options for care. My love asked her about testing there and she shrugged and said that it was the same but cost more. We were shocked. We knew she was saving us money but now we were a little hesitant. I made an appointment with the local midwife and wasn’t able to get in until the following week. My husband was able to make it but they weren’t able to get to us in time for him to meet the actual midwife. She congratulated me and said basically the same thing- I had all the symptoms and the tests were positive. I spent an hour talking to her and went home to go over things in my head.

There were some days where I felt very pregnant; I was bloated, gassy, nauseas, exhausted, craving different foods, moody, and half way through September I had to go to the bathroom all the time. There were other days that I didn’t feel any different; I had energy, I was happy, I wanted my normal foods… but I still had to pee all the time. I started talking to my baby and praying over him. My husband would lay on my belly and kiss it and tell him not to like any of my music. My love downloaded an app right away and according to it we were due May 11th, 2019. When we were past week six I called both of my grandmas and told them. They were overjoyed. My maternal grandma made sure I wasn’t talking about another animal. She knows us very well.

I  was starting to schedule more appointments and decided that I should tell my manager. Everyone at work soon knew because I was so happy. My husband’s supervisor caught him looking up things so everyone at his work knew. I told a woman from church and asked her to be praying with us. We had my in-laws over for a “game-night” and gave them onesies and a cute outfit to open. We didn’t want the world knowing yet, but we had a good circle around us.

We had another appointment with the midwife where she examined me and we talked about my health. She said that I was doing well and showing all the symptoms, therefore my hormone levels were good. She noticed that when I got my first blood tests that they didn’t test everything she asked for. I also needed to schedule my first ultrasound, so we could hear the baby’s heartbeat. We scheduled an appointment at the hospital for October 8, 2018.

I jokingly nicked name the baby fetus monster after a young girl I work with drew a picture of me and baby when she was bored. We talked a lot about the baby and joked about how it would be a trouble maker. A lot of people have said that I would be a good boy mom. My husband really wanted a girl so said we should just have twins so we can have one of each.

On October 6th, I went to the town over to go grocery shopping. I spent longer than I planned so like normal I grab a jerky stick and some sort of grab and go bar for the long ride home, that way I don’t binge when I get home. When I grabbed the jerky stick I saw someone had put a different one in the bin and put it back to get the one I normally get. Even though I knew it was the right jerky stick I read the ingredients twice before putting it on the belt. I am quite allergic to honey and beeswax and my throat has been swelling faster with each encounter. When I got to the car I grabbed a new bar out of the groceries and put it into my bag. I had read the label three times before putting the first one into my cart and then when I realized what a good deal it was, I read it one more time before grabbing three more. When I got in the car I read the ingredients one more time before driving across the parking lot to the fill up the tank. While waiting in line I read the ingredients again wondering how easy it would be to make. I drove off not thinking about the ingredients again since I already did my job by reading it so many times.

I was driving home and opened the bar and took a bite. It was really good. It wasn’t too sweet like I feared and had the perfect amount of salt. I took another small bite and then set it down. A few minutes later my lips started itching. I started biting them without realizing it. I started itching my face and then coughing when it hit me what was happening. I took a drink of my coffee and thought to myself that I was being over dramatic. I turned up the music and tried to ignore it. I got to the bridge and was stopped because of the ever-lasting construction. I read both of the labels again and thought of everything that I ate that day or used on my body. The only new thing was the stupid bar and the only thing that it said that would indicate that something might be an issue was, “Natural flavoring.” Honey is natural and for a company that is trying to make its name on the least amount of ingredients possible….. that is an easy way to do it.

It was a scary drive home. I was keeping myself in check constantly. I knew I had my epi pens with me. It was the first time that it was bad enough that I thought about going to the hospital. My breaths were becoming more shallow but I could still breath. I realized that my phone had disconnected from the car so I couldn’t call my husband to wake him up. I decided to keep driving because if I stopped there was a high chance that I would have no service because of where we are. I got home and left the groceries in the car. I struggled up the stairs and took two Benadryl. I woke my husband up and laid down next to him. I had to worry about keeping myself okay and then worry about the baby. I started looking things up. The internet told me all different things of course- baby could be fine…. I might need to go the ER. I didn’t want to go to the ER because at this point I felt like they couldn’t do anything. I called the midwife but she was in a spot with bad service. The call dropped. I called 15 minutes later but it went to voicemail. I felt crazy. She called me back within minutes and told me I did all I could do and to rest, and if my throat got worse then to go to the ER. My throat didn’t get worse and I decided to let the Benadryl kick in instead of pushing myself. I slept from 6pm to 4:30 am. My husband woke me briefly around 11pm to see how I was doing before he went to work.

When I woke up Sunday morning I was good to go. I cooked breakfast sandwiches to freeze, did all the dishes, and did loads of laundry, plus I made it out the door in time for Sunday school. I came home and hung out with my husband before he went to bed. We talked about how we were excited for the ultrasound and discussed how he would meet me there so I could start on the paperwork before he got off work. I was pretty tired after my busy morning so laid around most of the evening. I went to bed early and was excited for the appointment the next day.

Monday, I woke up sad and tired. I didn’t know why. I was cranky though. I was hungry but had fasting labs. I had to use the bathroom but had to have a full bladder. I got in the shower and started to cry and worry about the ultrasound. I tried to push the thoughts out of my head and finally told God, “I trust you no matter what happens.”

I did the paper work and my love was able to make it before I went in for labs. He came in and joked about needles. After I was done getting poked we went back into the waiting room. I had to go to the bathroom so bad and my husband thought it was hilarious. We got called into the back and the tech explained everything she would be doing. I slid my pants down past my hips and she began. I saw my little Monster and started smiling, it was all becoming even more of a reality. She told us that it would be more clear when she did the inter-vaginal ultrasound. She had me go to the restroom and come back to disrobe. I had a problem getting the sheet unfolded and my husband made fun of me. The tech came in and explained how this process would go.

I laid there waiting to see my baby Monster again. She inserted the wand and I began to see images again. She checked a few things out and then I saw him again, my Monster. I looked at her face and knew something was wrong. She had her lips pursed and was concentrating. She explained that at this far along she should see a heartbeat. I asked if it was possible that we were just not as far along as we thought. She told me about the sizes and how there must be a heartbeat now and it looks like it may have stopped growing a few days ago to a week ago. I started blocking her out as tears began to form. I said silently to God, “You are the God of miracles and the God of life. You can make there be a heartbeat right now.” There was no heartbeat. My tears turned to sobs. I didn’t know how much I loved my Monster already. She said she was going to have me dress and she was going to call the midwife.

My husband embraced me as I was half-naked in a cold room. I sobbed into his shoulder. He made me look into his eyes and said, “We are going to be okay.” I awkwardly got dressed with tears pouring down my face. My husband was comforting and I knew he was feeling pain too. I wanted to run out of there. I wanted her to check again. I knew though…. I knew.

We drove straight to the midwife’s office, because she was waiting for us. She walked into the waiting room and embraced me. I had tears rolling but didn’t want to say anything. We went into the office and she talked about the grieving process and told us our options but to not necessarily think about it today. I had already told my husband in the car what the options would be. We already knew we wanted my body to take charge and run its course. I didn’t realize how long the process could be though. She said it could take a few weeks.  That horrified me.

She then mentioned my allergic reaction over the weekend. No one knows me better than my husband, and he knew I was beating myself up and blaming myself. He asked if it could have been the Benadryl or the reaction. We found out that Benadryl is safe to take and that she didn’t think it was the reaction, but it could have been. My body could have been trying to save itself and my body could have harmed Monster. It’s more of a chance that it was just one of those things that happen that is only talked about in hushed tones about other women.

We went home. We embraced each other. I cried some more. My dog knew my husband was hurting. He set down in his chair and Jax climbed up and snuggled him protectively. He text his mom. I text my dad because I didn’t want my mom knowing at work. I text my manager and told him that I wasn’t coming in the next day and he called with a million questions and only got the response, “I am not coming in tomorrow.” We watched a funny show to get our minds off of it. I cried here and there. My husband kept looking at me and telling me how much he loves me. We went upstairs so he could sleep and I laid next to him and we talked. We talked about how we want to have hope that there was a mistake but we also didn’t want to get our hopes up. We talked about the fact that now we know that we are able to get pregnant and that maybe God had a reason that this one couldn’t stay with us. He told me that he was worried about me because he knows that I bottle things up until depression hits and also am really hard on myself. I promised him that I would be open with him about my feelings and that it is okay for him to expressive himself too.

I laid there with him until he went to sleep and then went downstairs to go out and feel the wind. I sat in in the cold and found a devotion on an app about miscarriage. I cried some more. I called my mom and she talked me through some feelings. I hung up and just sat for a bit. I got up and brought the computer outside and decided to write about the last month. I have not fully processed my feelings and wont for some time. I am realizing that my faith is stronger than I thought. I am not mad at God. Confused, but not mad. I am not looking forward to what my body is going to go through in the next few weeks. And I am definitely not looking forward to the sympathetic faces or the hugs. I only want a hug from a few people and I know there will be a few people who hear through the grapevine that I don’t want touching me. I will take it with grace and then complain to my husband and mom later. They will tell me that it is good to have people who care in my life. The tears are not over and it will be a hard few months, but I have joy in God. I will have happy nights with my husband as we carve pumpkins, and then prepare for Thanksgiving. I will laugh at my silly puppy. I will roll my eyes at work when someone says something ridiculous. I will be strong. I will be the best me and prepare for the future….. after I grieve my baby. Good bye my Monster. Uncle Jon and Grandpa Roger will take you fishing with Jesus.

 

 

-November 29, 2018-

I wrote the above thoughts and feelings shortly after I found out that I had lost my Little Monster. When my midwife told me that it could be a long process for my body to expel my baby, I had no idea what all that would endure. I have been avoiding writing about this but know that I must. Not only will writing everything out help me to heal, others need to know the stories of the women and men in order to understand others and also to prepare for them that you can’t always prepare.

When we found out that we had lost our baby, Andy and I both took days off from work. I prayed that the process would happen sooner than later. I wanted to get on with it so I could start the healing process. I cried off and on for about three days straight. I went back to work and left early everyday the first week. I had started cramping a little bit and thought it may be time. I didn’t know what I was looking for.

My love and I would lay in bed and search for what to expect during a miscarriage. We found others’ stories but not a lot of scientific and medical articles. Stories ranged from simple period like cramps to intense pain that made them pass out. I had took a few more days off since my cramping was increasing. I passed a blood clot and didn’t know if that was it. I looked up pictures of 8-10 week old fetuses. DO NOT do that!! I burst into tears. Andy told me that I wasn’t done and was sure that there was more to come. I didn’t want to believe it.

I continued to cramp and then got and incredibly upset stomach. This is slightly more information than anyone needs to know but it is part of my story. As my stomach continued to turn I got so frustrated. As many women know there are times that gas cramps and period cramps feel the same and you sit on the toilet in pain. If I passed my Little Monster there was no way to tell. I knew in the deepest part of my heart that I did not but I wanted it to be done.

My cramps subsided and were non-existent on Thursday. I went to work on Friday and my cramps had increased and so had spotting. On Saturday the 20th, twelve days after finding out our baby had died, I felt off and knew that I needed to go home early. I left work and collapsed in bed with Andy. After a few hours of a nap I went down stairs. I sat and barely moved. Around 9pm the cramps intensified to something that I had never felt. I went into the restroom and sat down. I was trying to be strong. I never want to be considered weak. I felt like I needed to push but also felt like I was making it up in my head. I googled if I should push or not. Of course, I could not find anything medical but found stories of other women who felt the same thing. The only position they found helpful was the same as me, sitting on the toilet. I began to let myself cry. Cry in pain, physical pain and emotional pain.

Andy came down around 10:30 to get ready for work. I tried having a normal conversation but told him I had to go upstairs. He came up and asked if he should call in. I told him to go to work. I figured that I was just having cramps and would have to deal with it. Right before he left shortly before midnight, he asked me to call someone, anyone. He just wanted someone to support me emotionally. I called my sister and made dark jokes. As I laid there I could feel I was bleeding a little bit. I had been wearing pads since I found out, so I just finished my conversation.

It was only a five-minute conversation and the bleeding felt heavy. I hung up and as I stood, I knew I needed to get to the bathroom immediately. As I pulled down my pants it felt as I imagined how it feels when women’s water breaks. The blood was streaming down my legs. I sat down and let my body empty. I stood up to clean up but it wasn’t stopping. I flushed but filled the toilet with blood again. I jumped in the shower to try and lessen the mess. I stood there for about ten minutes before calling my mom. She answered knowing it must be an emergency to call after midnight. She told me that I need to go to the ER. I called Andy’s cell phone and work a few times until I got ahold of him. He said he would be home right away. As I stood in the shower waiting, I became weak. I had to go down on all fours because I could no longer stand. When Andy came home he just stood in the bathroom doorway in shock. He later told me that it looked like a murder seen. We were having to clean the blood off of me as I got dressed. My body was still wet from the shower as I got into the car.

We went to ER and they moved me into a room fairly fast. Thankfully my ER room was connected to a bathroom. I begged them to let me use it. They had to put a bowl in there in order to analyze my blood. Before I could sit down the blood began to flow again. My blood ran down the sides of the toilet and the floor. It was humiliating. I lost count of all the times that I went to the bathroom. It was the only place I was comfortable…. well, more comfortable than lying down. When I tried to lie down on the bed I feared that blood would pour from me. Andy kept knocking of the door and encouraging me to lay on the bed long enough for the doctor to see me. I was in so much pain.

I was finally able to lay down long enough for the nurse to take blood. The doctor came in and had to examine my cervix and see what was going on. I felt like I had lost all dignity because at this point, I did not care if I was covered or who came in the room. I just wanted everything to be done. He explained that part of the placenta was still attached to my uterus and that my body would continue to cramp and bleed until it was gone. The hospital was not set up to do the procedure, so they would have to transfer my ambulance to the next hospital…. Almost two hours away. I begged for something for the pain. My love knew it was bad if I admitted to having pain.

Apparently, the Morphine hit fast and I was nicer once it was in my system. Andy and I have never been in this situation before. Not even a situation where I have been in pain like this. There have been plenty of times that I have been in pain but I have always been able to hide it. I wasn’t sure what I needed from Andy. I wanted him near but did not want to be touched. He wanted to help but wasn’t sure what to do. I am sure I snapped a lot but he will not tell me the extent of my rudeness. I was only able to give him a blanket apology since I know how I am. Later, Andy told me that he knew when I was going to be in pain after the morphine because he could see my heart rate rise before I would yelp out in pain.

The EMTs came to get me and loaded me up. One happened to be one of Andy’s cousin I had not met yet. I felt a little bit more at ease because his family puts family first. I passed out in the ambo but would occasionally jerk awake in pain. I woke up when we went through a mountain pass and knew exactly where we were because of the turns. We got to the hospital and I was trying to stay calm because Andy wasn’t there. He ran home before driving to town because we were told we may have to stay for a few days.

Two nurses came in and one blurted out a bunch of questions. I looked at her and said, “I do not know. I was given morphine for the first time and am not all here.” The other nurse brought me disposable underwear and pads and brought me a bag for my clothes. I asked him if I could just throw my underwear away and he smiled understandingly and told me that was fine. I was feeling a lot better but incredibly tired. Andy was about a half hour behind me and I was happy to see him. I do not remember much about my short time in the second hospital. The doctor came in and examined me and saw that during the drive my body had expelled everything. They kept me for a few hours to watch me. When Andy ran out to get my clothes from the car the nurse took me on a short walk to see how I was doing. I was dizzy and had to stop a few times. When we got back to the room he asked if I felt like I was okay to leave. I knew that my body needed food, water and true sleep. I told him I needed to go home. Andy and I drove home before 7am and I had him stop at DutchBros and at a fast food place. Normally we avoid fast food but my body had been through a lot and I needed protein, and I just wanted coffee because I always want coffee.

On the way home, I drifted in and out of sleep. When we got home I thought the bathroom would need a scrubbing but Andy was amazing and had already done it. He is a Saint! He told me he threw my underwear away because he didn’t want to deal with it. I just smiled. I didn’t realize how many pair of underwear I would lose during this process.

I took more days off. Throughout the next week I bled like a heavy period. I went back to work. My first day back someone called at 6:20am to complain. I nicely told her that I hadn’t had a chance to look into it yet but I was sure that it would work out in her favor. She was rude and kept poking at me. I snapped and my voice became flat. I went home and cried.

The process was more than 3 weeks long. I have curled up in Andy’s arms multiple times. There are days that the tears just flow. I went into a slight depression. My poor pup has not been walked like he should. I physically couldn’t for awhile and then I had to push myself emotionally to get out. As I was coming out of my depression and trying to pick up my house for my family visiting for Thanksgiving, I saw the blanket that we had bought for my Monster. I smiled.

I have been sad but I have hope. I am not sure if I am emotionally ready to have a baby so soon after all this but we are not stopping it. I have told God that I trust Him no matter what. I don’t know why He decided that we could handle this. I don’t know if my story will help anyone through their heartache. I don’t know if my story will help another couple not feel so alone as they google ‘what happens during a miscarriage?’ in the middle of the night.

Throughout this year I have lost my Grandpa, a friend and my brother. We both have had job challenges and job changes. We had to spend many nights alone as Andy went through training. I went through the deepest depression this summer that I have ever been through. And then we lost our baby. Many couples grow apart during such a hard year. As we have called on God, we have grown closer. We have been more open and truthful with our emotions. Our love has grown for God and each other.

I don’t know what you are going through or if my story will help you but I encourage you to tell your story. I want to hear your story. If you need prayer, let me know and I will stand with you. Remember, we are not in this journey of life alone.

 

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Laziness or Self-care?

However, I realized that I am not being lazy, I am taking care of myself.

I am the type of person who enjoys making and baking things from scratch. I prefer making my own laundry detergent and I normally make sure I always have homemade sandwich bread. These past few weeks I have bought bread. These past few weeks I have eaten less vegetables because I would buy them and then not prepare them. The heads of lettuce sat until I had to throw them out. The green beans grew mold until they became one. It is disgusting and embarrassing, but it is reality, it is my reality.

Depression is something that I fight with on a regular basis. Sometimes I can feel it coming on and sometimes it takes me by surprise. I had felt it coming on but I didn’t account how bad it would be with all the changes in my life. My husband has been away at a training during the week, I quit a job that was tearing me apart, I started a new job with a new daily schedule and have been dealing with everyday challenges as well. This bout of depression hit me hard.

Throughout my life I have been known as a happy and cheerful person. I have dealt with depression since I was in my early teens but didn’t want anyone to know. I would cry in my room or just lay in silence and not understand why I couldn’t feel anything. I hurt myself but no one knew for almost two years. Even when it came out, it wasn’t something I talked about. My parents knew and a few friends but I didn’t really talk about my feeling or lack of feelings. When I walked out of my house I put a smile on. I helped others and listened to their problems. I was goofy and laughed throughout the day. It was never fake though. I truly do have a joy where I am able to push through. It was hard work to push through the day and when I came home I took it out on my family and myself. I would lock myself in my room and demand to be left alone.

When I was across country in college I had a blast and was involved in a lot. Then a bout of depression hit and I had to push myself to keep going and stay involved. I would go back to my room at the end of the day and curl up in a ball under my blankets. I would wake up in the morning and feel like I was surrounded in darkness. It took everything in me to get up. I eventually became too tired of pushing and missed classes here and there. As I was battling my own darkness I was assigned a paper in Psych class about something I dealt with as a child, and was having issues with the relationship I was in. I broke. I tried to write the paper but as I would read and watch documentaries for my paper, I would cry and relive my trauma. As my relationship chipped away at me, I sank farther into the darkness and stopped getting out of bed. The best thing happened to me; my funds dried up and the college told me that I had to leave.

I came home and smiled as I worked at retail job. I went to my church and smiled as everyone said that they were happy I was home. I lied when they asked if I had a good college experience. I would go home and close myself in my room and cry. I felt empty. Eventually the darkness went away and I was “myself” again. I felt all the feels. I laughed and smiled and cried when needed. My life was clear and I felt good. I knew that depression was something that would come back again and something I needed to deal with.

I made sure I took care of myself. I ate well and took daily walks. I lost a good amount of weight, but more than that, I loved myself even on the lazy days. I felt close to God. I was social with friends and was kind to my family. I was also always prepared for the darkness. The darkness did come but I pushed through and was able to take care of myself. I would smile during the day and would come home and do yoga and talk with God. Somewhere along the way I lost my routine.

My husband is amazingly supportive and pushes me to take care of myself. He reminds me to read my Bible and to do yoga if I feel that would help. I have ignored him the past few months on these things. I have been so emotionally exhausted that I didn’t take care of myself on normal days so when the darkness hit this time, I just went under and it over took me. My husband would come home and be overwhelmed by the mess I had not dealt with but encouraged me and made me feel loved. When he calls during the week and ask what I did with my day he congratulates me if my accomplishment is taking a shower. When he came home this weekend I was getting dressed and realized that my pants were tighter. The darkness was starting to lift and I was thinking about the past few weeks. I realized how I had eaten and was disappointed. I had worked so hard for so long and now I felt like I had ruined it in just 2 months of being in darkness. I decided not to get down on myself.

As I sat on my couch with the darkness separating just enough to give me light to think, I decided to spend money. I realized that I am not at a place yet to make everything by scratch. When I make things from scratch there are more dishes to do. When there are dishes and I am tired, I get overwhelmed. If the darkness is looming, it is harder for me to fight it off if I am tired and overwhelmed. I know that I need to get my health back on track. I looked in the fridge and realized that I only had snap peas for fresh veggies and they were almost gone. I went to the store and got a bag of pre-made salad with the fixings. It was almost $5. To me, that is ridiculous and never would I have paid that in the past. I would have told myself that I am being lazy. However, I realized that I am not being lazy, I am taking care of myself.

Depression hits people in different ways and at different times. There is no right way for someone to deal with their battle. Self-care looks different for others. Some people take a bath with candles, some people get their nails done, and some of us buy a bag of salad so we can eat healthy but deal with our emotions and brain chemicals. If you are battling depression, find your personal way to push through. As long as you are not harming yourself or others then it is okay to do what you need to do. Go on a walk, watch a movie, buy something that is overpriced that will make your life a bit more manageable.

I am looking forward to the darkness fully lifting so I can handle making everything from scratch. Until then, I will be spending money on pre-made salads and frozen veggies. If it ever gets so dark I will try to be willing to buy pre-cut fruit too. This my life and battle, I am going to embrace it and continue to push through.

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Truly Listening

I feel that most Americans engage in these polite conversations and just hope to get home before they see someone who actually wants to have a conversation.

A few weeks ago, I was in the grocery store and a man made a joke about the weather and before he even finished I was giving a polite smile and chuckle. I don’t remember what he said. I wasn’t fully listening and therefore retained nothing that he said. As I finished shopping I was trying to think of what the man had said to me and could not, and was ashamed of myself for not truly listening.

Since I was a young girl I have always made an effort to look into people’s eyes when they speak to me. I used to listen to what people said but somewhere along the way I became so self-absorbed that when shopping, with time to spare, I can’t even give a kind man 10 seconds of my time. What is happening to communication and relationships in our world?

A neighbor I once had was so overwhelmed and frustrated with the North American culture because life was too busy. She told me that if a friend asked her to coffee where she was from in Costa Rica that they would sit down that day to have coffee. Where we lived if someone said, “We should do coffee,” the other person would comment about their schedule and would eventually get back to them even if it was multiple weeks afterwards. If someone in our town asked how you were doing the proper response would be somewhere along the lines, “Good. You? Great! See you later.” I feel that most Americans engage in these polite conversations and just hope to get home before they see someone who actually wants to have a conversation.

When the topic of socialization and communication come up many people are quick to defend and say that they truly listen. I thought I truly listened, but I was in shock as I walked about the store not being able to think of anything that man said. Do we now as a society choose to only listen to the few selected to be part of our circle? What about the people who do not have a circle, who will listen to them?

In the news the past few weeks there have been the names of children Rosalie Avila(13) and Ashawnty Davis(10) who committed suicide because they were bullied. I believe that the parents did their jobs and listened and did all that they could do to encourage their babies to hold on but what about all the bystanders? What if I was working in their schools? If I walked past and asked them how they were doing, and they said fine would I hear the hurt tone behind the words? I am not saying it is any staff members fault because I do not know the whole story behind the two girls’ situations. When I heard these stories, my mind spun though. If people had not taken the time to truly listen to me when I was a young girl hurting myself I am sure I would not be alive right now. Some may think it is extreme to link passive listening and suicide, but I have felt alone. I have longed for one person, just one, to truly listen to me. Thank God, I was blessed with people in my life who stopped me and told me to open-up.

I met a woman a few months ago, Carly, when I was working at the coffee shop who was as sweet as can be. I had already been thinking about the topic of “truly listening” when we decided to go have dinner together, and I was floored by how she listened. Most of the time during conversations the listener nods, looks interested and makes noises to make you feel like they are listening. Carly asked me questions about my life and the stories I told her. When I jumped around in my stories (I tend to get off topic and then jump back again,), she made sure that she was following instead of just guessing what I was trying to say. I would mention names and a little into the story she would say something to the effect of, “That was ‘so and so’ right? And they were the one who….”

I went home that night after dinner perplexed and in wonder about how Carly listened. It was the first time in a long time where I had a conversation with someone other than my husband who actively listened and cared about what I had to say. I decided that night that I was going to work on truly listening to others. Whether it was a stranger in a grocery store, a child or an elder, or my sister; I am going to do my best to actively listen and retain all that is said. Maybe one day I will walk past a child who needs someone to actively listen to know people care. Maybe one day a stranger will become a friend. Maybe one day the world will care less about social media updates and more about the conversation at the coffee shop. I hope you are encouraged to truly listen and influence the social world around you.

 

** I had written part of this blog a few weeks ago after I had dinner with Carly and was tweaking it and waiting for the right time to post it. Carly died in a car accident yesterday morning. I did not know her as well as I wish I did. I was planning on texting her yesterday morning about baking Christmas cookies but kept putting it off throughout the day because I didn’t think time mattered. I thought there were plenty of days to get to know her better. She changed my life with her joy and listening. Hold your dear ones close and if you make a friend don’t hesitate to go get coffee and get to know one another even better.

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My Life vs. Our Life

I need to take care of myself, so I can better love my husband….

When you get married, normally you like the person. At least in modern, western countries, we tend to marry someone because we love them. When you love someone, you usually want to spend time with them. At the end of the day all I want is to hang out with my husband. Whether we go for a walk, play cards or binge watch a show, I want to be with him.

My husband and I have very different ideas on how an evening should look. When my husband is ready for bed, he just goes upstairs and gets into bed. He usually scrolls through Facebook for a bit and talks but then he just flips over when he is ready and goes to sleep. I like to take my time and relax my mind and body. I like to take care of my hygiene, maybe some yoga depending on my mood, write for a few minutes and then read until I am ready to lay down. I tend to be more rested than him, even though he can go to sleep much faster than me.

I have mentioned before that our schedules have been very different this year. We are now on the same schedule and go to bed at the same time most nights. This past year I have not had a good night routine. I hang out and then realize that I have lost track of time and my husband is ready for bed, so I go from my brain being engaged to laying in darkness. On the nights my husband stays up later, I usually stay up an hour later. I can’t do it anymore. I need to take care of myself, so I can better love my husband. I have been very tired and extremely cranky. He doesn’t want to hang out with that side of me. I don’t want to hang out with that side of me.

Taking care of myself is a lot more than just sleep and “me time.” I need to take care of myself spiritually and physically as well. A few months ago my Charming decided that we were going to get gym memberships. I was hesitant because of money and because we had done this before and not used it. I like working out in the front room and not having to get in the car. I enjoy jumping into MY shower after a workout or since I am already sweaty, go on a cleaning spree. I have had a lot of issues with my knee and ankle, causing me to have to rest it and not use a lot of gym equipment. In turn, Charming decides to hang out at home with me. I prefer working out in the morning, and he prefers working out in the dead of night. I also recently found out that he prefers the gym fairly empty, I never knew that because our gym in our previous town was always empty. As much as he likes working out in the evening, he is usually worn out from work. I don’t remember the last time we went to the gym together.

I was dwelling on the fact that I haven’t worked out in awhile and frustrated. I was frustrated with myself for not just getting it done and I was frustrated with Charming because I wanted him to be my inspiration, cheerleader and workout buddy. It is not fair for me to put my failures on him when we never agreed that was part of our relationship. I see couples on social media working out together, taking pictures with their healthy food and the before and after pictures and get jealous. Here is the thing though, I don’t like talking at the gym. When I am on the elliptical I want to zone out to my music or think about my podcast. When I am lifting weights, it is nice to have some encouragement but usually I want to just focus on what my body is doing and pushing myself further. I haven’t been working out because I have been waiting for him, but I need to work out for me. This is my part of my journey, not our journey. We are not the Instagram couple that take the perfect pictures. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to support me on my personal journey though.

I have such a wonderful marriage. There is not a lot of pictures of us because we are too busy living life. When Charming notices a change in my body he congratulates me. When I eat healthy, he tells me I am doing a great job. When I have overworked my body, he tells me that I need to relax and remember to rest. When I am in a depression he tells me to take a walk, and he bugs me until I get out of the house because he knows I won’t otherwise. When I am feeling down he holds me and ask me if I have prayed about it. We probably watch more tv than some, but we pause A LOT to have conversations or randomly jump in the car for a drive, play cards or go for a walk. He will never do yoga with me and I will never play the video games he likes. He will never read the same book I like to discuss it, just like there are some shows I refuse to watch with him. He annoys me with some of his jokes and I annoy him with my singing. On his days off he doesn’t want to go anywhere, on my days off I want to sit in a coffee shop.

I have decided that I need to actively make time to go exercise by myself and keep the night routine best for  me rather than passively living my life. I will live my life to the fullest. I will also live our life to the fullest. I will spend time with my Charming when he comes home and actively love him and continuously get to know him better for the next 50 plus years. Even though I have a few things in my life that I will do for me, my favorite thing will always be collapsing in his arms binge watching a show while feeling his love and strength, knowing he will support me no matter what I decide to do.

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Small Changes=Big Changes

I am at a point in my life where I truly do need something different with my health.

For years I have struggled with my weight. I have loved it and I have hated it. I have taken responsibility and I have placed blame. I have eaten healthy and moved my body every day for months. There have been months that I have eaten emotionally and taken a nap every day.

The highest I have weighed in is 297 pounds. I know I was more than that but I got to a point where I didn’t want to weigh in. I have been slowly eating healthy and being more active and have lost more than 10 pounds again. Weight is a frustrating thing, always moving up and down. I am more than my weight though.

I am at a point in my life where I truly do need something different with my health. My husband and I like going on hikes but it has gotten harder for me to do so. I work with children but I have realized that I don’t move as fast when I get up and down with the kids all day. I have become inactive without knowing it. I subconsciously knew it but the days have flown by and I look back and wonder what I have done with my body.

In the past, I have been a nanny and would take the baby or child on walks. I would walk anywhere from one to three miles a day, sometimes twice a day. During nap time, I would try and work out for at least 20 minutes if everything else was done. While we played outside I was doing yoga if they wanted to play alone or doing squats while blowing bubbles. I wanted the change, I was actively seeking a healthier life. Times changed, jobs changed and I started gaining wait back, which leads me where I am today.

Currently I am doing childcare from my house. I have 3 kids in my care all under the age of two and with slightly different schedules. I no longer do random exercise moves in my front room because we have a large window and people in the apartments…. And other complete strangers are often standing outside my window (It really is an uncomfortable situation. We have actually had people walk up and try and ask us questions about our bearded dragon through the closed glass window.). I used to do yoga in my backyard before we moved towns. I now have a patio that all the apartments can look down into, (I wish I was being paranoid but I have a creep of a neighbor who has run out to the common grass to talk to me and the only way that he could have known I was out there was from watching out the second story window… its happened more than once.). It sounds like a lot of negative things that will keep me from being the healthy person I long to be.

I am not one to quit. I am a thinker, an innovator and a doer. There are days that I have the baby a full hour before the toddlers come over, I can go for a quick walk then. Today while I was in the kitchen I was doing leg lifts and squats and getting the babies to cheer for me. I have turned my bedroom into a peaceful place where I can do yoga during nap or in the evening while my husband is studying or gaming. On the weekends, I plan to go on long walks with my pup. My husband has something he would like to get in better shape for and mentioned that he would like to start walking/jogging in the evening. You didn’t see me write anything about waking up early because I am not there yet. I have been trying to wake up but I just don’t get up. I am the kind of person who will jump out of a bunk bed and turn their alarm off and climb back in without ever waking up, ask my dad about my high-school days.

I am going to find what works for me and start adding stuff in. I know that waking up early is not something that I can depend on right know so I am not going to put all my desires into that and get disappointed and discouraged because I didn’t wake up. No, I am going to be active with the babies, fur and human, and start changing my life that way. What small thing have you found that really has been a big change for you? Everyone has something different but maybe you can help someone else by suggesting it!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

My husband asked me the adult version of this classic question, “What is your dream job?” And I burst into tears.

What do you want to be when you grow up? As a young child I always answered with enthusiasm, “A babysitter, a Dairy Queen worker and a pooper scooper!” I thought I was hilarious. As I got older my answer was a missionary and mom. My husband asked me the adult version of this classic question, “What is your dream job?” And I burst into tears.

This past year I have been doing childcare in my home and loved it. However, childcare does not pay much. I loved the kids so it was worth it. A few weeks ago, one of the dads decided that they wanted to be a stay at home daddy. I’m excited for the family but that was a third of my income. The next week another kid got accepted to a learning center that she had been on a list for. I push for the kids I work with to get into more of a school setting with more kids so I was very happy for them. Of course, that meant more of my income. I had a decision to make, continue with childcare or find another job.

I prayed about the choices in front of me and discussed with my husband pros and cons. I had been turned down for a job from the elementary school when I realized that I usually get what I want. Things don’t necessarily come easy for me but I am really good at interviews and all of the jobs I have applied for I have been qualified for. I was crushed and confused. My husband thought it was hilarious. Not the fact that I didn’t get the job but the fact that God is testing me. He said that he thinks God is humbling me and growing me. That is when he asked what my dream job is, the job that will make me happy and feel satisfied. The question that hurt my soul and caused tears to flow from my eyes.

I have wanted to be a children’s missionary since I was eight. As a partner with my husband, he has to be called too if that is something we are going to give our lives to. I believe one day God will open the doors to the mission field, whether it be overseas or in the USA, whether it be in four years or 40, I know He will use me. Right now though, I want to be a mom.

I am so sick of people asking me when we are going to have kids. There have been many tears over a negative test. I want to wake up at a ridiculous hour to pray over my family and get ready for the day before anyone gets up, teach patterns with legos, teach manners in imaginative play, go over colors while on a hike, teach a love for books and the library, teach math while preparing dinner and go on adventures when my husband has a day off. I want to be a stay at home mommy. I don’t have kids. And our finances won’t allow that quite yet. I just need a job to pay the bills. I started thinking more about my husband’s question though.

Children won’t be in my house all the time even if I am a mom, so what do I want to do? In the dead of night don’t we all let our imaginations run wild and think about life if we did “such and such?” I always think about writing. I have so many kid’s stories running through my head. I don’t just think about the stories though. I think about how they will impact kids. How will this particular story encourage, teach or comfort a child going through this situation? If I write, I may fail.

I do not like failure. I like succeeding. I like winning. I am competitive. If I write I also have to face things head on. I have a lot of partial writings that I stopped because they were too personal and I had to think too much. When I write sometimes words just flow on to paper and when I read it I am shocked that I expressed myself about things that I thought buried long ago. I won’t die if I fail. I won’t die if I face the hidden secrets and thoughts in my soul. I will become stronger. I will grow spiritually, mentally and as a writer. Those are good things. I guess I don’t have any good excuses.

I have to get a “real” job to pay off debt to hopefully be a stay at home mama but I am going to write. My Charming said something the other day that has changed my perspective on everything in life. I don’t remember why it came up but he said, “Your writing might save a life. You may never know they read it because there will be no likes or shares but it may save their life.” (My man is incredible y’all!) I believe that God gives us all gifts and abilities and that we should do everything to the best of our ability and with all our strength. I am going to write.

If you stay up night thinking and dreaming of what you want to do with your life, do it. You may not be able to make a career out of it right away but if it makes you happy, pursue it! Don’t wake up one morning and regret that you didn’t try the one thing you have dreamed of for so long.

#metoo (it REALLY happened)

#metoo

Anyone who has been on social media this week has most likely seen #metoo. Women and some men have been posting the hashtag if they have been sexually harassed or abused to bring awareness to the issue. The first time I saw the status I got sick to my stomach. Should I write the status and bring awareness to hopefully protect someone in the future? But then I will be making myself vulnerable, very vulnerable…. The thoughts swarmed through my mind.

A few days went by and every time I saw #metoo my heart broke. My head spun. My stomach flipped. The world needs to realize that women are being hurt, physically and mentally. I was afraid that if I wrote the status someone would ask for the details. I was afraid that people would think I wasn’t qualified to work with their children. I was afraid that people in my past might see it and verbally and emotionally attack me. I was scared. However, I was more scared for my sisters, the young girls in my life, my future daughters, my future nieces, the future of humanity. I knew that I needed to speak out. I wasn’t sure how to do that.

I sat outside playing with the kids but in the back of my head I was trying to figure out how to express my heart… and my hurt. I didn’t want to just write #metoo. I wanted to help someone. So, I wrote…

 

Childhood

She said no
He said shhh
It’s okay
Nothing “really” happened
Next time
Come here
No
But it’s okay
No no no
Shhh. Okay. Never mind.
Nothing “really” happened
Years passed and the nightmares became more intense
Shhh. It’s okay.
Trapped.
Doubt.
People love him.
People say I’m okay.
I’m okay.
The nightmares don’t stop.
Being held in place
An unwanted embrace
Legs and torso caressed
But nothing “really” happened
Shhh, it’s okay
You’re being dramatic
But the nightmares
But the sick feeling when I see him
The fear
Nothing “really” happened

High school
Jokes
Crude, disgusting jokes
Directed unwanted sex jokes
Stop following me
Aw, you’re fine
It’s just a joke

Leave her alone
Oh, you want me then
Don’t touch me
He runs up and grabs my breast
He runs up and slaps my butt
Stop. Don’t touch me
I slap, I hit
He thinks it’s a game
Everyone says it just high school and laughs
Nothing “really” happened

College

Hey, I like you
I like you too
A kiss dodged
One, two, three times
He’s just a guy
Nothing “really” happened
Sit with me
Okay
Wait, no!
It’s only skin and it’s only a back
It’s my skin, it’s my back
Fine
Silence
Nothing “really” happened
Everyone loves him
I must have been dramatic

 

He was a jerk
I would never do that
Okay, here’s my heart
Wait, no!
Oh sorry. I’m a guy… my past… not my fault
Excuse. Excuse. Excuse.
Nothing “really” happened
Besides… I must be dramatic
Please stop.
Tears. Tears. Tears.
Oh sorry. I’m a guy…. my past… not my fault
Excuse. Excuse. Excuse.
Nothing “really” happened
Besides…. You are being dramatic.
You are being dramatic.
You are being sensitive.
Sorry. Didn’t mean to.
Nothing “really” happened.

 

My life

Nothing ever “really” happened to me
Shhh, it’s okay
Others have been hurt more
Others have had something “really” happen
Nightmares.
Darkness.
Fear.
Shh, it’s okay.
Boys will be boys.
That always happens.
Just high school.
If you speak out, you are dramatic.
Nothing “really” happened.

 

Vow

My darling girls and women alike
Talk to me
I will listen
I will encourage you
I will understand your pain
Something “really” happened
Nothing “really” happened
No, no.
It REALLY happened.

 

My darling boys and men alike
You have the ability to make us feel safe
Do so
I will teach boys in my life to love
I will teach boys to respect space
I will teach boys that if you have to say nothing “really” happened….
It REALLY happened

 

What can we do to change this world that we live in? Women, we need stand up and start changing this world. Men, we are very strong women, but we need your help in this. Here are a few things that I have been thinking about that may help slowly heal our world.

  1. Speak out. Even if you can only manage to tell your best friend, do it.
  2. Report it. Talk to the HR department at your work, tell a teacher, tell a parent, and if you need, call the police. I know that media has shown horrible police, but I promise, there are some great ones who will fight for you.
  3. Speak up. If you see someone being harassed, stop it or report it. If a demeaning joke is told around you, set the person straight.
  4. Love. Love the women and girls around you. Love the men and boys around you. Show girls a pure love so that when they enter a relationship, it is one full of love. Show boys love so that when they enter a relationship they will know how to truly be loving.
  5.  Respect. It doesn’t sound hard but apparently respect is hard for too many people in this world. Respect others. Plain and simple.

I wish I could change the world. I can’t. Perhaps I can encourage someone through my words. Maybe a young man who has only seen disrespect shown to women will have clarity of how women should be treated. As our voices come together and rise, humanity will begin to heal.

If you have been abused and need to talk to someone please reach out and call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-4673 (HOPE) or visit online.rainn.org