Wednesday, January 11, 2017

No One Told Me...

I'm sitting here in my living, on my couch, staring at homework that needs to be done and dealing with a racing heart and another oncoming panic attack. Because it is night time, my kids are in bed, and this has been when my mind gives up the battle for the day. I've never been prone to anxiety or panic attacks, that's not the person I was. But it is now. At least for a little while, at least until this hole inside of me is at least a little filled.

I know that nothing that I am saying is making any sense to any one of you. You may have already clicked that little "x" at the top of this page. But if you haven't, just be prepared for the honesty of this blog. And, I would like to add, please leave judgment, blame, and negative comments to yourself. I've gotten plenty of those over the years and that is precisely why I am where I am right now. You have no idea how hard it is for me to be telling you this, any of this: what happened years ago and what's happening now. But if I can help just one person then this pounding heart and these racing nerves will be well worth it.

If you know me well/communicate with me on a fairly regular basis then you know that I have been withdrawn and "not myself" for the past few weeks. Typically, I'm a very social person, very "peppy", very upbeat, loves to have fun, sort of person. But that hasn't been the case lately because everyday has been an internal war for me for weeks. I don't know what exactly triggered it, the memories, the emotions, the pain. But something did. And it is very real. PTSD isn't only something that affects soldiers. I didn't know that. Until I realized that I'd been experiencing it for almost 10 years and most painfully so in the last month.

1 in 5 women in America are raped. That's a pretty high number. I am one of those "1's". And for 10 years I believed that what happened to me was my fault, that I was to blame for it. People who were very close to me even said things like, "how could you let this happen?" Gosh, I'll never ever forget that statement in particular. How COULD I let this happen? How could I let someone do that to me? What was I thinking? I must have deserved it. It wouldn't have happened if.... Maybe he wouldn't have if..... I wouldn't be dealing with this now if....

So, why am I only just dealing with this 10 years after the fact? Well, I did what most victims do: what we're told. We "get over it". We "move on". I pretended that it just wasn't a thing. I didn't address it. After all, it had to have been my fault, so I didn't deserve to get any sort of help. But, you see, if your conscious mind won't deal with something, then your subconscious will do it for you. About 7-8 months after it happened I started experiencing chronic pain. Anyone who knows me knows that it's gotten progressively worse for years. Every. Single. Year. My periods got extremely irregular and heavy and painful (sorry if that's tmi but I mean, really, look at the subject matter here). My depression grew deeper and more consistent each year. I lost "who I was" and just felt hopeless about everything. Nothing about me was good enough. I've not been a good enough mother, wife, student, you name it. There is constant self hate, self criticism, self blame and endless shame. I never felt "clean". I've developed obsessive compulsive tendencies while showering.

That's all been going on for almost 10 years, but I just thought that I was incredibly depressed/maybe in a not so good relationship. And while my husband and I have had our share of legitimate problems, he is no doubt a wonderful man and I am in a very safe and respectful relationship. But if I couldn't love, trust, or be with myself.... how could I with him?

So, what does that have to do with now? Well, I guess my mind and body have decided that it's time to deal with this "little" matter that in fact, is no little matter at all. Everyday for the past few weeks I've dealt with daily, vivid, horrible flashbacks. I remember more and more each day. There are so many things in my everyday life that "trigger" me, that send me into panic attacks or strong anxiety. Anything that reminds me of loss of control or vulnerability triggers me. My two youngest children trigger me, and that has been the hardest thing about this probably. I can't look at their vulnerability, specifically during diaper changes, and not be vividly reminded of that night. But I change the diapers, and I save the meltdowns for when they're safely in front of the television at least one story below me.

I don't trust myself. In my mind I have always been responsible for my assault and somehow that has made me dangerous to myself, in my own mind. I'm scared of myself. I'm scared that these symptoms, these intrusive thoughts, these flashbacks might never end. That they'll lead me to do something stupid. That they'll drive me insane. Logically, I know that this has to end, but it feels pretty hopeless in the midst of it.

Every night I curl up on the floor and sob: about how I'm ashamed, angry, scared, a horrible person, weak, anything that I can tell myself that is negative, pretty much. When I was first triggered, and I didn't know what was going on, I started to physically hurt myself. I won't go into details. I'm fine. I figured out what was going on. That was short lived and stopped immediately when I discovered what the heck was going on, even before so probably. But it happened. And that scared me. And that made me trust my body even less. Made me trust myself even less.

Here's the thing... he had no right to do what he did. to take what he took. He had no right to steal the joy of motherhood away from me. He had no right to invade my marriage, my relationship with my husband. He had no right to make himself a permanent figure in my life. And he had no right and no reason to take my sense of power, control, and trust in myself away from me. But that's what happened. It did. It happened. And I have to deal with this. I have to let this all out. It could take weeks, months, hopefully not years (I don't think it will take years). Because now, I'm ready to deal with it.

As a note: Jordan has been my BIGGEST support. He has held me on the floor (keeps asking if we can sob on the couch but there's just something about crying on the floor....). He reassures me that I am a good person. That what happened to me was NOT my fault, I did not choose it, I did not welcome it, I will not let it invade who I am, I will not let it define me. And he always, ALWAYS reassures me that I am safe with him. He has learned lately to ask before he touches me, to respect my boundaries, and to just listen without judgment or advice.

This has been the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I'm not exaggerating. It really has been. It really is. But everyday I make even just that much more progress. Everyday there are little baby steps taken to heal from this trauma so that I can be me again. Someone that I haven't really seen in about 10 years.

If you're interested, I wrote this a few days ago:
A decade ago
I sunk to my low.
The place that I'd feared
that brought me to tears.
But I didn't know
that terror would show
its ugly, horrifying face
in such an awful way.

What right did you have
to steal me like that?
To rip part of my soul
from inside me?
Who gave you the power
to steal those few hours
that turned into years
and silent, lonely fears?

My body was stolen.
My soul was then broken.
But what did you care?
You'd won your token.
A powerless girl
had entered your world.
And apparently
no moral could stop you.
But it was too late,
my horror complete
by the time I awoke
and came to.

What you did to me
was horrifying.
But I pushed it down
and moved on.
Some form of justice
was served, that I heard
But I...
I was already gone.

And so for ten years
I've carried you here,
in my mind,
trying to hide you.
You ruined my heart,
destroyed all my trust.
I built a wall
that no one could part.

Yet here you are
with all of my scars,
with all of my fears,
and my nightmares.
But this time, you see,
I'm not the lonely.
Now there is someone who cares.

Yes, you moved on.
To you it was done.
No worries, no cares,
no regrets.
But you didn't win,
never again.
Now, I am the one with the power.

Although you're still there,
you'll vanish, I swear.
I'll release you,
you'll leave me completely.

Because you may not know,
being someone so low,
the power of love that's
within me.
I will love myself.
I'm of infinite worth.
The love I've been given
I deserve.

You stole my self worth,
it was gone from the earth.
I hated and blamed myself daily.
But no more.
It's through.
I'm relinquishing you.

Your power no longer contains me.

helpful link:

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Photographic Day

Klo's day starts with breakfast and messy fingernails (naturally). She is a roamer while she eats. We cannot get this girl to sit for much longer than about 3 minutes. And that's quite the accomplishment.

Then we move on from breakfast to "helping" Daddy edit his videos. What really happens is that Daddy unplugs the mouse and keyboard so that Kloey doesn't actually touch anything but she still feels like she's getting a lot done.

Then we get out of our pj's and get all ready for school. Kloey LOVES school and she absolutely loves riding the bus. I was lucky that on the same day I decided to do this photographic project Kloey had a field trip to the pumpkin patch that I got to volunteer for last minute. Oh, she also lost her front tooth about 5 minutes before we got on the bus.

Our first activity was a "treasure hunt" in the corn. Kloey was not interested in looking for treasure. The giant box of corn to play in was quite enough for her, thank you very much.

She did not, however, take to picking just one pumpkin. In fact, there were so many to choose from that she eventually just gave up and made a break for the end of the pumpkin patch. Mom quickly had to choose one for her and then go catch her.

Luckily, we found the perfect one.

This is the whole preschool class that Kloey spends 3 days a week with. There is one little girl in particular that feels the need to love and protect Kloey. I am very grateful for her and the parents that have taught her so well.

Then we were off to the corn maze! Kloey tripped about 4 times but Mom had a hold of her each time and she didn't fall (thankfully). It was a little tricky for her but she never complained and stuck with it. This girl doesn't give up.

Miss Klo fell behind several times but that never stopped her!!! She kept trotting along!!!

The class decided to do the maze one more time but Mom knew Kloey was pretty over that tripping business, so we went to the slide instead. Good decision.

Then it was back to the bus. Kloey made Mom sing songs with all the way home. It's okay. She's the best at songs and she always claps for you at the end.

Kloey showed Mom where her cubby was and promptly hung her jacket up all by herself. It may have taken a couple of tries, but she did it!!!

Once we were back at home Kloey was more than happy to reenact her favorite movie scenes for us. This is a daily thing. Our home is one of the best theaters that I've ever been to. She's pretty stinkin' good too!!!

Then, as usual, Kloey is ready for a snack and her perch. Normally, when our basement isn't torn apart for repairs, her perch is on the couch downstairs. However, it is now the coffee table where she can have a prime view of the laptop that is propped on the fireplace mantle as a "television". She LOVES TV.

She watches several different things. She's really not picky. But the few that she can really recite are Frozen, Zootopia, Home, and Inside Out. She has her favorites.

Life with Kloey is beautiful, crazy, hard, fun, silly, and tiring. But, come on, look at that face. ... I could be biased.

I love this blurry shot. It shows these two doing what they do best, something they're not supposed to. Nutella sandwiches all over Mom's couch. Uuuggghhhhh. And not a care in the world.

Some days are really hard, guys. And some days are like the one above: pumpkin patches, smiles, nutella, and sibling companionship. We love our Kloey and love it when the hard work that she puts into everything she does finally starts to pay off. I hope you enjoyed a day in the life of Kloey. (at least half a day)

new stuff coming

I'm currently working on a photographic project for tomorrow's blog. I was hoping that it would be ready for today's blog but it's not. So, we're going to go back to a moment that I love and hold so dear. I was ashamed of it at first, that this particular milestone took so long to get to, but I can't do that to myself. Because every individual is different. Every experience is unique. Mine is no exception.
Here goes.

Kloey is 16 months old. For anyone that gets annoyed when mothers use the months and not just plain ol' years to tell their child's age... it makes a BIG difference at this time in their lives. What they do month to month is sooo incredibly different. So yes, I use months.
This month for the first time since we've locked eyes, I feel like I have finally met my daughter. Does that confuse you? It probably should. Since she's been born Kloey has been tender, sweet, full of love, just genuinely angelic. Honestly, that is pure truth. No gushing mama business there. It's fact. This time with her has been superb and pretty "chill". But she wasn't showing us any personality. Developmentally she hadn't reached that point yet, the point of discovering yourself. It's pretty basic to most... but it has taken her quite some time.

It started a few weeks ago with her discovery of the twin in the mirror. First: the "why hello there" look. Second: "You again...". Third: "What is this sorcery?". Fourth: "I gotta see this again". Fifth: "TO THE MIRROR!!!". She literally dives for it when she is in my arms. Oh, the giggles and chubby hand prints all over my bathroom mirror. But I love it! In all honesty it is MARVELOUS!!!

Next came the discovery of fighting sleep. She has NEVER done this. Oh goodness. I didn't know what was going on. Normally I just lay her down, give her a kiss, shut the door, and she's out for the night. A couple of weeks ago she decided she didn't wanna. So she let me know that she didn't wanna. That child SCREAMED! Granted, it was probably a whimper compared to most children's screams, but it was a Klo scream. Scared me to death I tell you! Sheesh! Now I know her game... but she isn't understanding the "cry it out" concept. It's warm milk and snuggles for that one.

And the fake crying. Oh, the fake cries. Anyone that has been around children in their life knows what I am referring to. But man oh man is it cute!!! The child has "cute" down to an art. Gets that from her father, I could never "cute" my way out of anything... probably not even to save my life. Jordan on the other hand... [insert eye roll]... yeah. The look of triumph and glee on her face when she wins you over with that fake cry == PRICELESS!!!

Then, she started to play games. Not a big deal to some. HUGE for us. I have been trying to get her to understand games... any games... for AGES. And now she does. Last night (fighting sleep night) she took her bib, pulled it over her head, and quickly pulled it down and giggled. I thought, "oh, it looks like she's playing peek a boo... what a coincidence.." and then she did it again, and again, and again. YAY!!! She WAS playing peek a boo. She got quite a kick out of that one. Her favorite game is one that she made up. I call it the "dive and snuggle". Basically she is sitting on my lap, facing me.. when she dives head first into my chest and snuggles into my neck, and then proceeds to burst into laughter. Cutest thing EVER!!! I don't understand the amusement she finds in it... but she definitely amuses me. I got that game on video... I will have to post it sometime.

All of this is so exciting to me for many reasons. Perhaps my favorite reason is that I can now see the child and not the Down Syndrome. How bad does that sound? Anyone that follows my posts knows that I adore this child. But this has been a struggle for me. To look at my child and want to see her for HER... not for her diagnosis. I have been so frustrated with myself... praying and praying that I would just focus on the sweet little girl... not the extra chromosome. Everyday it seemed that it was just a fresh sting. It was so hard for me to understand. If I love her, why can't I just let this go?

And then, it just happened. Three days ago to be exact. She started showing this bright, and colorful personality and I was so focused on that, on her, that I didn't think about Down Syndrome all day. As I was laying in bed I realized that I saw Klo for Klo. For who she is. For everything that I adore about her. I saw her through eyes that couldn't see a diagnosis. I saw her through eyes that were seeing her for the very first time. That day I grew even closer to my baby. And I have to believe that she did to me as well. Because there was no more wall. There was no more sting. There was just pure love. In that moment of realization my heart was so full of gratitude and relief that I nearly cried (but I was really tired). And for three whole days I have seen the baby. I have seen the giggles. I have seen the personality. I have seen the love. I have met my little girl.

 Nice to meet you little one.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

She is us

Kloey just walked up the stairs to go to bed and wouldn't give me a kiss. Haha! I guess she was really tired. She did say bye-bye and blow me a kiss. I'll take it.

Tonight I really want to talk about how normal it is to have Kloey in our family. Since she came along more than 5 years ago she has been our normal. Our normal daughter. Our normal sister. Our normal friend. Kloey is Kloey; the only Kloey that we've ever known. We know her no differently than this.

She plays games with us. She watches movies with us. Kourtney loves to dance with her and play barbies or house with her. Joseph is her best frenemy. Those two can really cause some havoc 'round these parts. Either they're helping each other get to things they're not supposed to have or they're trying to reenact the movie "Sparta". There isn't really an in-between.

And sure, I struggle; Jordan struggles. But when asked if we would change Kloey neither one of us hesitates when we answer a firm "no". Because what would we change? Who else do we want her to be? Why would we take any of her spirit, personality, or light away from her? Take her extra chromosome and Kloey simply ceases to be Kloey. She would be someone completely different and none of us want that.

It wasn't that long ago that I was one of those people that feared any sort of "abnormality" coming into my life (a little more than five years). It is a scary notion. But I want everyone to see that we're not spending our days mourning over this extra chromosome in our lives (yes, all of our lives). We celebrate her. We celebrate her hard work and dedication, her love and devotion, and the sweet sweet spirit that she carries with her wherever she goes.

Milestones are super fun in our home now. ANY milestone. Literally, all of them. The above picture is one that I quickly snapped at the dinner table tonight. Kloey was drinking from a cup with no lid and did not spill once! Not one time!!! A milestone. A big one for us because we've been working on this for a few years now. She spoke to me today. Not just one word but a sentence. She said, "I want the pizza". Not so clearly but clearly enough. So, what could I do besides give her the pizza???? She definitely obtained pizza. Also today, she called me Mama. Only once. See, normally she calls us both daddy. But when I got in the car after school today, she pointed to me and said, "MAMA"!!! I was stupid excited and crazy proud. There were lots of milestones today :)

Kloey fits right in with us. She looks like us. She laughs like us. She loves to sing like us. She loves to dance like us. She loves just about everything that we do. And she's stubborn like us. In fact, she is probably the most stubborn out of all of us when she really wants to be. The girl has a big personality and an even bigger heart. We all love and adore her so much and could never imagine our family without our Klo.

Monday, October 10, 2016

At least one of them

Today has been a day straight out of Mommy hell... straight out of a mommy horror movie... straight up causing me to go INSANE!!! Part of this is due to school. Part of this is due to overwhelming amounts of neglected housework because of school. And still part of this is from tantrum-ing children. Oh. My. GOSH. THE TANTRUMS!!!!!

But really, folks. Why with the tantrums?

Joseph throws some that would rival even Kourtney's at that age. For those of you who remember that at her age, just picture the hell now.

Anyway. I digress.

Kloey. My sweet Kloey. Has only ever thrown miniscule "tantrums". No, they cannot even be considered tantrums because they are too short and too quiet. For this great blessing I praise the heavens above! Really though.

And that's the thing with my Kloey. While she does have more struggles and more difficulties and while those things are hard on all of us, she just doesn't act like my Kourtney and Joseph when she's upset. She really gets over it rather quickly. She cries and sniffles for a second. Wipes her nose with either her arm or my shirt (you should see me by the end of the day, folks). She forgives. She hugs. And she moves on with life.

Pure. Bliss.

I was really hoping that Joseph would get the memo. PAH! That didn't go the way I wanted it to.

My point here is that yes, life with Kloey is difficult. I have a really hard time sometimes. She has a hard time sometimes. Sometimes she is pretty aware that we're not understanding what she's trying to communicate with us and that's frustrating for her. But where there is hardship with Kloey it is made up in blessed ways that you may not even notice at first.

Like the hugs and kisses whenever you want them.
The snuggles early in the morning (waaaayyyy too early in the morning).
The no tantrums.
The endless smiles and giggles.
The forgiveness.
The tenderness.

At the end of this day I held my Kloey reallllllyyyyy tight. Because she healed my soul. In that 30 second hug I realized that I was loved, that everything was going to be fine, and that it's okay to be me. 30 seconds for half of my puzzle pieces to come neatly back into place.

And that's my Kloey. A soul healer.

 Chocolate Ninja,

            Hey guys, it's Jordan, and Kloey's biggest fan! Oh man that girl. I tell you, she teaches ninjas how to ninja! Don't leave the doors open, not even a crack. She will know it, and before you can turn around, she'll be half way down the road! Unbuckle her seatbelt, and if you stop to unbuckle Joey she'll be in the drivers seat ready to go. Either that, or making a break for... you know, I don't know where she's been wanting to run.
           Chocolate. If you could vaporize chocolate, Kloey would breath it. She can stiff out a chocolate chip from the other end of the house. She climbs on the counter when no ones looking and Gollums a brownie pan quicker than I could have! Don't even try to open a pastry packet with this kid in the house, she knows that sound! In the middle of the night, you will start to to hear that, bump, bump, bump, of her descending the stairs because she will literally wake up from a dead sleep when we are cooking cookies or brownies.

            Watch your phone, especially if it's a low battery. If that's within her reach, it won't be in yours. Typically she'll turn out the lights and shut herself in the closet or in the bathroom. Sometimes in the pantry or under the table. You won't even notice it's gone until you hear little dings and chimes coming from under the bed. You better find it before it's dead or you'll never see it again! Today she had a full on conversation via emojis with Stephanies friend, until Kloey got a little too fancy with the emojis.

            A few days ago Joseph woke up from his nap a bit early so I had to go tuck him back in. I put the phone down on the counter in the bathroom while Klo was in the tub, and by the time I got back she was already swiping through google maps with the phone completely submerged. She had gotten out, snagged it and jumped back in the back in less than 30 seconds. This was all right when I was supposed to be picking Steph up from school. So I had to connect the vacuum up to the phone and suck it dry. Not the first time and won't be the last. Now I own a new phone that's waterproof up to 5 feet for thirty minutes :)  

            Well guys, now we know who trained Batman and Splinter. Enjoy your candy bars while you still can, I have a feeling she's been using google maps so that the day she escapes she can raid your homes!


Sunday, October 9, 2016

It's been one week

I had a moment with Kloey yesterday, a moment that was too spontaneous to catch on camera and for that reason I don't think I'll be including pictures tonight. Because sometimes life is too genuine for photographs.

This moment yesterday was one that filled my heart. It was one of those realization moments, an "aha" moment. It was almost as if, for a brief time, I got a glimpse of Kloey as the incredible spirit that she is but without the worldly ideas of "normal". I truly believe that for a brief second I was being granted the opportunity to see her through God's eyes, to see His love for her. I don't think that any words can do this justice.

What's funny is that nothing very big happened at all. It was just a normal day at home and we were just doing normal things. Admittedly, I don't even remember exactly what we were doing that led up to this snapshot of time that I hope will be permanently carved into my memory. But I'll do my best to tell you what I do remember.

I was in the kitchen (seems like that's where I always am!) when Kloey came in and needed my attention. Naturally, she was not the only one in there pleading for my attention. There was a lot of chaos (I believe it was around lunchtime) and I remember being pulled in every different direction, even Jordan needed me at that moment. Normally, I'd turn to Jordan first to make sure that we're on the same page with the kids but for some reason I decided to look at Kloey first. Not anyone else. Just Kloey.

And I'm so happy that I did. When I looked down into her face I noticed that she was singing something. I couldn't quite make it out but she was so excited about this song that I just had to listen more closely to determine exactly what it was. Kneeling down and looking into her eyes to really see and hear her isn't something I normally do but I did it this time. That's when I realized that she was trying to get me to sing one of the songs that I made up for her and about her. She remembered them. And she found a way to tell me that she wanted me to have some fun with her.

And so I did. I stood up and we loudly sang her special songs (there are 2) at the top of our lungs, complete with crazy facial expressions and hand movements. It was so much fun. But my moment came right after we were done...when everyone was trying to swarm me now that I had stopped singing. I didn't let them. Kloey and I looked at each other and smiled and then laughed. This laugh of hers was different. Our connection for that one second was different. My heart was all hers. Her heart was all mine. But it was even more than that! Her eyes were pure love and happiness. Her smile was hope and peace. Her arms wrapping around my neck were security and safety. Her soul overcame her body and its seeming "limitations". I saw her. I saw her soul. And my heart overflowed with happiness and gratitude. I needed to feel that connection with her and it came at the perfect time.

You know, there are times when I feel that progress with Kloey is so painstakingly slow and I become discouraged. There are times when I think about the conversations that I want/need to be having with her and I get sad because we can't do that. And there are times when I wonder if she really cares that I'm even around because she seems so chill with whatever. But right then she was mine. Right then she needed me and she showed me that. Right then she showed me EXACTLY what I'd been needing from her for a long time: she knows me, she needs me, she adores me, and she loves me.

Tonight, as I'm typing this, I am so grateful that I took the time to ignore the chaos that was going on around me and focus on my daughter. I'm so grateful that she let me in to see her beautiful soul. And I am so incredibly grateful to have her in my life.

Someday she'll be able to verbally express herself. Someday she'll tell me that she needs me, that she loves me. Someday she'll call me "mommy" instead of "daddy". Someday we'll have that conversation that I want to have. But for now, I will keep clinging to these moments that are so rare but so wonderful. Those moments that say, "I am here. Don't get discouraged. Don't give up. Keep going, Mom. I'm worth it."

..... And I know she is.