Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How Has Our Marriage Worked

It is very rare that my husband and I talk about our personal business. The odd part about this is, if anyone asks us "how have you made it through" we would be more than willing to share. We have a blessed testimony about our relationship. There have been some terribly ugly parts to our relationships as husband and wife (without a doubt), but there is something in our marriage that has kept us together. We have made it through military deployments, work now through being parents and care takers, and struggled through transition and our personal demons. As my husband's uncle said at our vow renewal ceremony, "ten years may not seem like very long, but in this day and age, it is a big milestone."

1.) Holding on. When things get difficult, and they will when it comes to marriage, we found a way to hold on. For myself, it was my Christian faith, and the faith I had in God that made me through the difficult times. Prayer is what helped me to hold onto my marriage when things seemed near impossible. Find something greater than yourself to help you hold on when things get tough.

2.) Manners. My husband and I are big proponents of manners. Please, thank you, and your welcome are big in our home. We want our children to have manners and be raised up to be honorable members of society. So, it is no surprise that my husband and I have always said it to each other. We could be angry as can be at each other, but you are still going to hear us say, "please pass the salt" or "please stop doing that". Have respect for your spouse. If you cannot have respect for them then who are you going to have respect for?

3.) It takes 2. This one seems like a no brainier, right? So here it is, my husband struggles with alcohol. I am by no means throwing him under the bus. He is a strong and honorable, God fearing man. I adore him with ever fiber of my being. Still, we had a very rough patch with drinking and understanding that a wife should come first before many other things. I understand that abuse is something to never mess around with, and I am not a victim of abuse in the physical sense, but there are times when I swore I didn't know the man standing before me. It takes 2 to make a marriage work. There was no way I could hold our union together if my husband didn't understand or step up to his part in our marriage.

4.) Understand that you are two different people. Again, this may seem like a no brainier, but remember that although a marriage joins together 2 into 1, these people have their own believes and worldviews. My husband is driven nuts by my lack of housekeeper skills (though I am truly not horrible), and I am driven nuts by his ability to completely loose track of time and maybe forget to give the kids lunch instead of work outside in the yard. Now I have learned to think in terms of "so". Okay, so I always make sure that the kids get fed properly, and so does my husband, but on occasion, it's fine. I know my husband is a great and caring father to our children. He would never do anything to intentionally cause them harm. My husband has learned that I am a busy woman. He knows that if I could, I would have a spic and span house. He loves me dearly despite the cluttered house and no longer demeans me for dirty dishes.

5.) Reminisce about what it was that made you fall in love. For my husband and I, doing this really reignited a flame. Sure, we were telling the same story over and over again, and we know this. However, it really ignited our passion for each other. We both got into the mindset of what it was like seeing and kissing each other for the first time. I giddy like a school girl as my husband of ten years told me things about seeing me or knowing me when we were younger. It is part of what started to glue us back together when we may have drifted apart.

6.) Talk to your spouse. I was in a traumatic car accident less than a year ago and have sense been diagnosed with PTSD. I make it a point to tell my husband what is bothering me and when. I may not be able to find the exact words, but I try to tell him as best as I can what is going on and what I need.Through my tears or silence, I try to tell him that I am overwhelmed. When he asks what this means, I simply tell him, "I wish I could give you an exact list, but the very thought of speaking about it seems overwhelming.

7.) LISTEN to your spouse. This goes with the aforementioned suggestion. It may seem easy to listen to your spouse. After all, you hear what they are saying, "right?" Well, think again. My husband has learned that when I am crying and unable to find the words, maybe I just need to be held. He doesn't get defensive when I tell him, "I simply cannot get into all my feelings right now". He listens to my actions, my words, he listens to himself when his mind tells him, "don't be stupid, just hold her cause that is what she needs".

8.) Make the decision to stay together. This may be a controversial one, but listen up. You have to make the decision when you are first married to stay married. When I say that my husband was a terrible, insensitive jerk...he was, and if you ask him, he will not deny this. We have had some extreme, come to blows arguments and I have seen him at his worst. However, from the start I knew that I never wanted to be my husband's enemy, and that whatever it took, I was going to stay married to him. I imagined being on the opposite side of the fence from him and it make me sick to my stomach. Now, I understand abuse and adultery. I am not speaking about these issues. There are times when safety and sanctity should be considered.


9.) Understand that forgiveness is an option. Forgiveness can cover so many things. My husband and I committed a great sin when we first became a couple. I struggled to forgive myself and demeaned myself for nearly five years into our marriage. I learned that forgiveness through God is possible and have been all the better for it (again, my faith plays a big role). Furthermore, forgiveness in a marriage is possible. You can tell your spouse, "hey, that really hurt me" or "these things won't happen again" and move on. My husband use to hold his deployments over my head and use this as an excuse to stay out to the wee hours at his dad's house (for example). Until one day, I had to tell him, "no more, I will let you use your deployment one last time and then you have to move on". It is possible to stand up for yourself and simply forgive your spouse for the way they have hurt you. Again, this takes 2 to really make work. My husband once told me, "how can I forgive your for the things you do that hurt me? Simple, I love you." True, some things are not always easy to forgive (trust me, I get this), but you have to have some sense that forgiveness is possible.

These are only a few of the things that my husband and I have done to keep our marriage together. The road we have shared has not always been an easy one, but I truly believe it has been a blessed one nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Source

My mother swimming on possibly her first power boat outing.
Mid June 2016, moderate stage of her FTD.
Okay, so here it is. My mother and I never really had a truly, undeniably close relationship. True, we were always on great terms (well, because my mother has always been good). We were just never extremely close like "hug and call each other all the time" type of close. I would still call my mom to tell her things now and again and I remember how excited she was at the prospect of becoming a grandmother for the first time. She spent money on a crib and was beside me at the birth of her first grand child. That was the type of relationship we had. She came to visit when I was in Kansas during my husband's time in the Army. There were a lot of things that we did together, but there was still something missing in our relationship.

So exactly what is it that really and truly makes me so angry with her illness? What is it that truly leaves me feeling unbelievably sad? If I didn't have this intense close relationship with my mother why am I so torn up inside?

Well, a few years before the official diagnosis of my mother's FTD we were not terribly close, meaning we did not see each other on a regular basis. In my heart of hearts I knew that something was not right with her. This wasn't the reason for my distance. The little family my husband and I created began to grow. We had two additional daughters in three years since my husband's return home from college in Arizona. Our three year old was an induced birth due to my preeclampsia. She was a tiny baby at birth who was very cholic-y and needed a lot of attention. Then we welcomed a surprise fourth child into our life after the birth control (I thought was permanent) failed. Then four months after that, we were all in a traumatic car accident. My mother was put on the back burner as I began picking up the pieces of my life (a work in progress).

I was in denial. I did not want to believe that my mother was mentally digressing as bad as I believed she was, but when I heard that she had gone walking off one day in search of her boy friend who was next door, I knew that I had to do something. To make matter's worse, the bills that she had been paying were not being paid. She had written checks that had no money to back them up. I knew that I would be inheriting a work load. Perhaps this is what partly left me apprehensive about facing the truth.

I am terrified. I have the greatest love and four beautiful children. The thought of ending up where my other is brings me to my knees with sadness and fear. What if one day my husband has to care for me this way? What if one of these days I won't get to grow old with the man of my dreams? I do not want to loose the memories of my husband, the feelings I have when I am close to his skin and taking in his kisses.

My husband was the one who suggested it first, that my mother come and move in with us. We already had a family of 6, but he professed his love and spoke about family caring for family. For this, I will remain forever grateful. This is slowly becoming the norm for our lives, a family of 7. I am thankful that my mother will be well taken care of, I am grateful that my husband is there to help me with my mother (doctor's appointments when I am too ill), I am grateful for the best days that we can give my mother.

I am exhausted (mentally and physically). I am not looking forward to my mother's decline. I would be lying if I said that I was prepared for her to decline while I am trying to be a wife, mother, and college student. I am so far from being clear about how to go about juggling all the duties I have had thrust upon me. I wish that I had the answers to how to make things better, but I am still learning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Heart Song

I like to consider myself a relatively closed off person. It was only after ten years of marriage that I truly began to divulge some of the most personal and painful parts of my life with my husband. This is great! Unfortunately this led him to a lot of speculation about the things in my past life. With the traumatic car accident more than 9 months ago, I have begun to experience a part of my life that I never imagined before. Added with my mother’s diagnosis of dementia and I have started to feel like someone has been constricting my breath on a daily basis. My Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) came about when I and our four children were in a car accident. I won’t go into much about the reasons why I developed PTSD right now because while this matters, it is the “here and now” that I fight with on a daily basis.

What it is like to live with such a diagnosis?

I have never felt such a sense of anger towards people. The other day a lady ran a stop sign, stopping mid intersection because she was distracted by a conversation on her cell phone. I was more than angry. I was more than livid with this woman that I actually imagined myself putting my hands on her. I have little patience with people, and this was never really a problem with me before. I can even become short tempered with my own children.

The accident happened in a crucial time in my life. I knew something was not right with my mother’s health. Then BOOM! Someone ran a stop sign and it was like all the pieces of my life were thrown into the air. I am not even sure all the pieces have even landed yet. I think I am strong, but know that more often than not, I am weak. This is not a knock on me, calling myself weak. This means that I need to learn to ask for help, and accepting certain truths is the path towards strength.

Am I coming or going?

Depression is more than just feeling sad. I have a great faith in God. It is the driving force in my life, but the depression has been so intense that joy seems difficult to come by. Shake it off and be happy is not a reality for me. I pray. I don’t pray. I pray and tell God that He is the only one who can help, but my core refuses to believe this. While I would love to relate to everyone, but my personal truth is that I know that I have to give up my fears and worries to God.  I have been failing to properly do this. However, I also know that depression and anxiety has truly affected my mind and body.
I have been changed.

My husband helped me to see, I am worthy of a PTSD diagnosis, which was difficult for me to come to terms with. He is an Army veteran. This matters because I always felt that I should “suck it up”. I was not a soldier in combat. What did I have to stress about?

Back to my reasoning, I am a mother of four children. All four of my children were in the vehicle the day of our accident. I am no fool and know that the only reason they (we all) walked away was because of a miracle. Still, the thought of loosing one or all of my children haunts me to this day. My son had a friend he lost to an auto accident just last month. I made the mistake of seeing his 12 year old body, resting in the casket. I think about his mother and feel a hole in my soul, the thought of loosing what is most precious to me tears me to the core.

The accident, I do not believe was an act of God, but a human’s poor judgement and neglect in following the proper rules of the road. I believe that God knew I needed to be around for my mother. I also believe that God protected my children because loosing anyone of them would have rendered me useless for my mother. All of this is a massive weight on my shoulders. All of this creates a struggle in me on a daily basis, and I remain a work in progress. I am sad, I am angry, I am fearful, I am worrisome on a daily basis. I feel angry when I do not have control (the at fault driver, my mom’s illness, my schooling), but I am human. That is the point. I am human. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Things I have learned: And I am Still a baby

I suppose I should wait until our actual ten year anniversary in ten days, but I sorta cannot help myself. I am in awe that we have already lived ten years together, and have experienced all that we have in that time frame. There have been times in our marriage that I stopped, looked to the sky and begged God to explain to me what was going on. We have endured 2 deployments, 1 long distance (1.5 years) relationship in states, 4 children (1 very unexpected), my schooling and his schooling, a parent with dementia, alcoholism, reintegration, a diagnosis of PTSD, and we're not done yet. I have certainly learned that I am not in control of this life, but I have learned that I am a person who should be honored, validated, and loved no matter what my flaws may be. When I say that we began from a whirlwind romance, I am not being melodramatic.

The story that brought us together is one of the most beautiful that I have ever heard. This did not stop the constant pain that was thrown between two individuals. Marriage is work at times, most times in fact, I cannot lie one bit about that. We have been two of the most ugly individuals, but I had known from the start that I never wanted to be on the opposite side of my husband. Sure, there were times when I asked myself why a man who had loved me since high school would behave in such an atrocious manner. He, himself, cannot explain the reason for this, but a constant battle with alcohol did not help. Point is, marriage can kick your rear end, but it is also one of the most reward institutions that I have had the privilege of being in. I know my husband more than anyone else on this earth. I can finish his sentences, and most of the time, when I am thinking it, he says it. We have endured heartache and pain together, but have also experienced the joy of family together. I truly look forward to spending the rest of my life with him, and wish every person was able to have the love that we share with each other.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Busy Bee

It has been a while since I was able to take some time and write down my latest thoughts and feelings about the dream I am living in. It may seem like I am saying that sarcastically, and I suppose partly I am, but I am living in some sort of dream. I am married to a wonderful man, believe me, it wasn't always that way, but my marriage is possibly the strongest it has been over the 10 years we've been married. The heartache, dealing with the every day stressors can be a bit much sometimes. I decided to continue with my schooling, and have begun my latest classes for my master's degree. Along with that, I am continuing my medical and mental health appointments from the repercussions of the auto accident back in October of 2015. Add housework, four children, and my mother to the mix, and sometimes I feel like I am living in the twilight zone. I especially feel this way when things seem to pile up in a "seriously, this is happening" sort of manner. Just yesterday, I advised my mother that she could begin cutting on her quilt material since she just got a new cutting tool for her birthday. I made the mistake of telling her that the material was under her bed. Oops! I made it into the dining room to find her cutting up clothing I had been setting aside for our 3 and near 1 year old daughter from their older sister. Admittedly, it was a tough moment for me. The clothing wasn't the serious part, but the point of my mother's cognitive processes dwindling more and more every day was. I mean really, how is one supposed to handle this sort of thing? Then, to top it off, our near teenage son decided to skimp on his chores and leave dishes dirty...Yuck! So I had to throw away lunch and dinner because his teenage brain told him, "yup, this must be good enough." Again, I mean seriously, it is like one thing after another sometimes.

On a positive note, my husband and I have been putting some time into gardening. The past weekend was spending planting and creating pallet wood trellis for various plants in the vegetable garden. I plan on posting the various stages on the pallet wood trellises and whether we found them to be successful or not. Also, I have begun to nail down many of the details of our vow renewal ceremony that is coming at the end of the month. I cannot wait to post this stuff as well as we are having our older two children aid in running the ceremony. I am so excited for this as my husband and I were married in the courthouse in Abilene, Ks. due to my husband's military station.

To come this weekend, my husband will be building a container garden up near the house so that he can judge the success rate of a raised bed garden and give my mother an opportunity to hopefully grown some of her own produce. This will give her a chance to grow and garden as she once loved to do, and to give her a chance to be outside in the warm weather. She has been given the task of watering our flowers out back of the house, but I recently wonder if our poor plant will end up being drowned since I just noticed that she was heading outside for another dose of water for the plants. This may make up round number 3. All well, I bet the plants are very happy.