Misconceptions Aplenty about Depression

If you had asked me in my teens or early twenties what depression was, I would have shrugged, and said, “When someone can’t get happy, or won’t choose to be happy, because they keep holding onto negative thoughts’. I am 47, and I can only remember ‘depression’ being classified as a physical ailment, not just a psychological one, after I turned 40! I am ashamed of my ignorance. I only began to understand more about what depression really is after having a husband who is very open and honest about his struggles, and who shared with me his experiences with it before we ever met.

It was after his divorce to his first wife. Sadness and anxiety persisted long after the initial pain and stress of the divorce itself had ended. He went to counseling and began a course of antidepressants. Two years later, he ended the pills in the step-down method his doctor prescribed, and seems to have beaten the disease. I found out that after a long period of this flood of chemicals into the body signaling stress and anxiety, the normal levels of serotonin in the brain can be reset to just not produce as they should, or once did. That’s when antidepressants can really help. Not everyone has success with every type of antidepressant, however, and some people beat it drug-free. Some are never diagnosed and just muddle on, wondering why they feel empty, drained, tired, and that life is meaningless. There are so many complex reasons for why we may feel that way, ranging from brain chemicals to unresolved issues, and current stress-such as being in an abusive relationship, or coping with ill family members, etc. However, the ability to cope with these crises in life can adversely be affected by a lack of the proper levels of the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains. Counseling is often very important to go along with medication, or may even supplant the need for medication, in the event that we just need deeper insight and understanding on how our minds may be hindering us from making progress, due to  unhealthy , unproductive thought processes.

That being said, the misconception many people have had, is that depression is ALL based on those unproductive, unhealthy thoughts, possibly arising from previous or current emotional trauma or circumstance. Some would cite the need for faith, positive thinking, and regular exercise. All these things are wonderful, but what an eye-opener to realize that a chemical imbalance could be the issue, and what a relief to know that at least some of our despair can be relieved with the right medication! Imagine being told your whole life that if you just squint, and focus really hard, you’ll be able to see better, when eyeglasses or contacts are what you really needed for better eyesight!

But can medicine alone solve all our problems? No. While depression can be like looking though dirty, dark glass at life, it still matters how we think about, and respond to, what life brings our way. It may be easier to see through clean, clear glass, but we also need to relearn how to talk to ourselves, and how to properly view setbacks in life. We can learn to respond to what we perceive as negative with productive thoughts and attitudes, as well. For example: Marti has been called into the office at work a few times this month for performance issues. She is trying very hard to get better, correct mistakes, and to be careful, but the office visits keep coming. Marti has gotten used to punishing herself and being very hard on herself whenever she feels she is ‘failing’. She complains to her husband that she is ‘just a stupid failure who never gets anything right”. Obviously, Marti has more going on than medication alone could address. So, issues like depression can be wrapped around a lot of other issues, like low self-esteem, fear of failure, fear of punishment, inability to accept oneself, and so on.

That’s me up there. “Marti.” I was feeling down after a series of family tragedies, and I couldn’t get back up. I went to my doctor, because my normal zest for life had really begun to wane. I just wanted to sleep my days away, hoping the next would be better. I had occasional thoughts that I was good for nothing, had no purpose since my kids were grown, and that my life was meaningless. I suspected I might have depression, due to what I have learned about it in the past few years. I felt like a failure and waste of oxygen.

Depression isn’t feeling blue for a bit- it is a real medical condition that can be treated. Depression can have many causes, but going to the doctor and being honest about how you feel is so important to do! Please, if you feel you may be suffering from depression- if no amount of exercise or positive thinking is solving your problems, and if you lack energy, motivation, or joy in life, or have any thoughts that you wish you had never been born, or want to die- PLEASE go see a doctor. It might be depression. It might be that you need counseling/therapy as well. But GO. Go and be well.

for help and resources, please check out the following websites:

http://www.apa.org

https://www.adaa.org   (symptoms)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

 

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Stupid, Wonderful LIFE

No matter how drunk I have ever been, no matter how many times I’ve thrown up in that state, I never missed the toilet with my urine. Why is that?

I like the idea that I am actually a free-agent at work. Since the new reality in the USA is for low-to-mid level retail workers such as myself, part time work is the new reality , no matter how great you may be, I enjoy pretending that my 3-4 days off per week are my choice.

I enjoy perusing Craigslist for jobs that I am not qualified for. My overactive imagination allows me to picture myself doing the job, then the entire length of the career, and the interesting conclusion, without even ever applying!

I usually feel as though I don’t have any skills that are really vital or appreciated in society. This is the result of low confidence combined with feeling mostly ignored at large. According to “The Secret”, I am attracting being ignored, and any lack of talent and skill is simply a result of poor thinking. The law of the universe…I have been focusing on what I want- recognition and fat stacks. I am still focusing. Somebody help me out.

I feel young and old at the same time. I just turned 45. My sex drive is voracious, but my gray hairs are multiplying. Isn’t that strange? I guess my body is trying to maximize my few fertile remaining years to best production. But science tells me that my eggs are few and puny at this point. Plus, my tubes have been tied since age 26. So, the body isn’t all knowing after all.

I still have dreams, but sometimes I feel a large part of me is still 19, waiting for my life to begin, and not knowing where to start. I’ve never really had a HUGE dream that I clung to, that carried me all throughout my life. As things arose, I embraced them. Things I have always loved- dreaming, music, and feeling. Reading was my salvation as a child. I spent so much time in fiction, I guess I never came down to Earth much. When I finally did, I feel like everything had passed me by.

I was lost until age 19. Like most, I didn’t know I was lost until my life hit rock bottom. I asked a God I didn’t know to save my soul. Since then, I am still a sinner, still a crazy fool. Thank God for grace and forgiveness. I need it every day.

A look inside my head: If you didn’t know me, and if you didn’t think of me as the low carb blogger…

Mold me, shape me. I take on my environment and the people around me. I learned early to adapt to survive. It doesn’t mean I am not real. It just means that I only show you what I think you will approve of if I care about and respect you. If I don’t respect you, I feel free to show you all of what I am. For better or worse.

I should have been an actress. I used to think that becoming something I was not would be impossible. Now I realize that is how I operate my entire life.

I dream of things that cannot be as though they already are. I wonder if I am insane. I love my body and hate it , too. I embrace the light but play too much in the dark junk yard of my mind.

I am standing in a junk yard at night. You have a flashlight, but I don’t really need it. I don’t notice details that you do, and you don’t notice the poignant details that I do. You look for parts, I look for the stories behind the deployed air bag, the angle of the rear-view mirror and the tiny shards of stained glass that splatter the front seat. I see people, feel the resignation, feel the pain.

I was ten. I found a mattress in the dumpster. It was stained with many shades of blood and plasma. I felt the anguish, the sick, deep, dark hopelessness. I felt Hell and heaven and all the weight of the entire world upon my being. It soaked into my soul-my deepest perceptive senses were suddenly very acquainted with grief. In the instant that I stared, I absorbed a feeling that was not mine, but became mine. I owned this, but knew it not. Later, I was told that the mattress belonged to our upstairs neighbor. She shot herself in that bed.

I don’t know. What is it? I saw a photograph in the Time magazine when I was sixteen that showed the ovens where Jews were cooked. I saw the death camps. I didn’t actually SEE the photos as though they were a piece of history. My analytic mind was silenced. All I did was soak it in. I was revolted and horrified. Tears sprung to my eyes. I cannot tell you now that this was not just compassion and shock. But I KNOW it was much different than that. I was there. I FELT it. I can’t live in those places very long. I have to leave. I spend so much time trying to make a mark on the world, but I can never undo the mark it has left on me. I remember the day I learned about the potential of the nuclear bomb, the JFK assassination, and the 9-11 disaster. All I could do was hide in music, cry, and pray. I can tell you that I am not strong enough for the evil of this world. I can only call on Jesus. I can’t do it alone. The evil finger that occasionally reaches out to freeze and terrorize my heart can only be stopped by Him.

Life. The best things- love, selfless sacrifice, innocence of mind- the purity of music…the beauty of a smile. These things I cling to, but I never have felt, and never will feel, as though I fit into this world. I am a stranger here. As much as I am a part of this ancient Earth, and my body will return to it, I don’t really belong here. I have no real friends. I have family. I have people who love me. But, I never seem to get too close to many.

I inhaled the beautiful aroma I doused myself in. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, and perfume. I spent time carefully concealing dark spots on my face, red nose and chin, dark circles under my eyes. I spent more time scrunching my curls,plucking the grays, applying cellulite reduction cream, but the truth is never far from my mind, None of this matters. Not at all. This is just a shell. But this shell is perfectly designed to have me survive this planet. I have to keep it healthy. I fart. This ruins it all and makes reality even more important. I am really stinky inside. Gross.

On to more important things. The mind. What I think, I am . So I practice thinking beauty, health, love, and peace. These are among the most important things. I always believe that I am safe and secure. And so I am. Nothing threatens me.

Daily chores begin. I wash and fold. I sort and hang. I scrub and organize. But deep inside this productive feeling is a small child who doesn’t get any of it, the importance of it. That girl wants to spin, skip, and dance, and forget every ugly thing of this world. Then I go to work. I treat every person as if they are the most important person in the world. Sometimes I don’t feel they really are. I do it anyway.

I fear that everyone’s love is false. I don’t believe in flattery. Nobody is my age. I am older or younger than everyone. Nobody knows my age. Nobody knows ME.

I love smooth river rocks. I love dry river beds, and roaring white water. I love deep pools of clean, clear water. I love eyes that are full of light. I love proficiency and speed. I love brown, and blue, and green. I love deep red, the sunny blue sky, and ice cream.

I love my children. No matter how old they become, they are my children.

I love all that is right, good, and awesome. I hate my restless spirit.

I will write the great American novel…eventually. I know that the people I love also love me. That is enough Most all the time. I still am just a drifter, a dreamer, a wanderer, and schemer. Yet, I never want more for you than a sweet lullaby, or less than to feel the beauty of the sunrise, the warmth of the sun on your skin , and that you know- deep in your soul- that all the sweetness and love you find in others is just reflecting off your own magnificent and large heart.

I get depressed. Easily. I am an addictive personality. Pain makes me apologize. I love cats. I rely too much on feeling. I am an empath. I can be apathetic, but I hate living that way.

I will write more fiction and poetry soon. Hope to see you there.

So, Summer Begins…

Many things from our childhood stay with us. As a kid, I was never into sports. In addition to being an only child, with no dad, I had very poor vision, that was undiscovered until I was ten, and not corrected until I was thirteen. As you might guess, I was the last chosen for any team.   I never ran, and  hated all forms of ball games. I pouted, frowned, shuffled, cried, and was generally a complete pill on any ‘team’ my p.e. teachers put together. I thought that Dodge Ball was a cruel hoax invented by evil teachers, and I found many animals in the clouds while I was  standing in hot outfields, tuning out people yelling, “GET THE BALL!!!”  On my own time, though, I learned to be a kid daredevil, climbing up scaffolding and defying death in many stupid ways.

Today the kids and I decided to play a bit of freeze tag, and then baseball. Our baseball is a tennis ball, and our bat is this broken orange thing that bends too much and is an over-sized plastic relic, really. Nonetheless, I enjoy these outings, and have a lot of fun. I get to feel like a good step-parent, and maybe it helps me feel a teeny, tiny bit better about not playing with my own kids more when they were little, being too concerned with housework or   laundry.

Everything was great until my ten year old stepson yelled out, “LEE! YOU CAN’T EVEN CATCH!” Suddenly, I was nine again, being taunted by the kids on the kickball or baseball team, and I felt a lot of the same old rejected- loser feelings, and anger. I wanted to stop playing, to just go inside and say “screw it”. It was an immature impulse, and my adult sensibilities eventually won out, but it’s funny how some things stick with you, inside you. Dormant sparks of pain can be easily rekindled. I was surprised. It’s true. My catching and hitting are still pretty poor, and on some days these ‘skills’ are completely missing. I remember, though, that everyone seemed to be a critic and offer their opinions on my lack of ball-handling skills when I was a kid. I hated it, them, and mostly myself. I was always tough on myself anyway. I expected to be able to do things the older kids and adults could do, and nobody could convince me that I had to learn it over time. I was obviously a defect.  At home, one step-dad or another was harshly correcting me on how to properly sit on the toilet or yelling at me for something, but from those male ‘father figures’, there was no love, and I never shed a tear when they and my mom would inevitably break up.

It took a lot of time before I got even remotely interested in any kind of sport. I was nineteen. It started with biking, hiking, and then tennis. I didn’t ever get good at tennis, but I really enjoyed it, and still do.

I have learned over time to be happy with playing, even without playing well- for the most part. But somehow, hearing a kid criticize me brought up all these old feelings of worthlessness, all because of not catching a tennis ball lobbed at me. Why?

Why should it matter or even bother me?

When we are kids, we are like wet cement, or little flowers. We are fragile, easily molded, or trampled. The things we experience shape our entire lives. If the majority of our experiences are positive, encouraging, and loving, we tend to feel a lot better about ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we are more confident, more likely to experience success, and that success fuels more likelihood of even more future success.

Some people have more natural pluck and resilience than others. Some might set out to resolutely prove their detractors wrong. Others believe the negative barrage, and live it out.

Interestingly, the things I was encouraged in were the very things I became the best at, but deep inside, I have always felt as though most people were more grown up and more competent than I. I have learned a bit about not comparing myself to others, but it’s still a challenge.

So, parents, coaches, friends, step-parents, grandparents, teachers; all of us: please, don’t criticize, tease and bully others. Don’t make people feel bad because they lack a certain skill. Don’t make such a big deal about it if someone you know and ‘love’ doesn’t perform a task at your level. Teach them, or let them be themselves. Not everyone is a natural athlete. Not everyone likes sports. Some of us like to read, write, and cook. Maybe, with love and acceptance, and a bit of encouragement, these people will excel in what THEY love. Help them discover what that is, and remember that the seeds you are planting today will keep sprouting, with deepening roots, forever. Kids are, well- kids. Stop trying to control their every move. Remember how powerful a gruff voice can be. Parents, correct and discipline with love as the motivation, not some twisted concept of creating someone in your own image, or worse, trying to create someone you wish you could have been.

Kids need time to grow, to learn, and to just be kids. Let them. Be patient. Accept them as they are.

Go enjoy every moment of the summer. Kick off your polished shoes and just relax with your family. Laugh, and remember what it’s like to be a kid.

Listia, my new hobby …

So, I’ve been two-timing. I’ve neglected writing in pursuit of points-based swapping at Listia. It’s fun, I get things I want in exchange for getting things out of the house that others want, and I haven’t been writing.

 

My new position at work involves leaving the house at three- thirty in the morning, and once I get there, it’s just GO TIME the entire shift. I’ve been tired and not feeling like writing. The good news is that I’ve been doing more reading, and that is vital to keeping me fueled and inspired.

So, while I am not ready to write any more of Run, Nicky Run tonight, and don’t really feel like listing everything I’ve been eating and not eating, I thought I would check in and make myself feel better.

 

Now, back to the auction house! 😉

Kay-tee, My Amazing Daughter

As soon as this girl’s colic ended at about 6 months of age, she became a  little bundle of adorable, with dimples, the cutest smile, and the sweetest heart of anyone I know. I knew I would gladly jump in front of a train to save her, or kill anyone who tried to hurt her.

She has never been selfish, and I’ve never seen her try to hurt anyone else. She loved little things like snails, frogs, ducks, and all Littlest Pet Shop toys. Well, almost all of them. Some were just ‘dumb’. She was a fairly quiet child, but was able to read starting at age two. I kid you not.

As sweet as she is, she never hesitates to call a spade a spade, which tends to  make her sense of humor lightning quick and fairly deadly- but she can make you laugh so hard you have tears streaming down your face . Though she went through a short spell of hating just about everything, seemingly, those dark clouds seem to have vanished. It’s so good to see her happy!!

The one gift I would give her is the ability to see just how amazing, talented, and special she truly is. This is a girl who goes out of her way just to send me a recipe, or a text to tell me she loves me. I wonder if she knows how much this means to me.

If Kay-tee likes you, you must  be pretty great.  Being as she is trusting, she may be able to be mislead as to someone’s character at first, not wanting to believe the worst. That being said,  if you mistreat her, be sure that a legion of her friends and family will jump all over you, even if she doesn’t, because she inspires fierce protective tendencies in those who love her. Even though she is trusting, she has a very accurate instinct as to a person’s true motives and can tell when something is ‘off.’ She is very loyal, and her huge heart makes her courageous, even when it’s hard to be.

Her artistic abilities are increasing all the time, and she doesn’t seem to see how great they are. The young lady can accurately draw the human hand, in pencil- in detail! That’s very rare. But her art skills aren’t limited to a specific style or genre. She can do anything. She is also a great writer, and can sing fairly well, too- just good luck hearing her do it!

She just needs to keep believing in herself, and watching her grow in to a lovely, happy, compassionate woman makes me more proud than she will know.

I appreciate humility, but my youngest daughter should always know how awesome she is.

Katie the Greatie:

I want to thank you for making my life worth living, for helping me to laugh, for always cheering me up, for knowing what I’m thinking, for being able to have the biggest heart in the world, and for never making me feel that I was unloved or forgotten, no matter what was going on in our lives. Thank you for knowing how to be both a daughter, and a friend.  Thank you for not holding a grudge, because if you did, I probably deserved it. Image

I will always be your biggest fan, Kay-tee.

Love, Mom

The Trouble with Trust

I don’t think I realized I had such trouble trusting people. I mean, if you’d asked me, I would’ve come back with my usual response, ” Trust has to be earned”, or my other favorite, “Trust, then verify”. Well, those types of responses aren’t very reassuring or positive indicators of my mindset on the subject.

This issue has, as I realize now, been kept at arm’s length by my own arm- and I have chosen to be blind to it . No friends that I hold very close? “Oh, I don’t have time to commit to real friends- that you hang out with, I mean- I have my family.” That may be partially true, but the deeper truth has been that I only let very few and select people get close, and I watch them very closely, too. Why?

Why is a great question. I could tell you that everyone I’ve ever cared about and who was supposed to be there for me has either utterly betrayed me, deserted me, or turned out to not be nearly as great as they pretended to be at first. True, we are all human , all make mistakes. Also true that I believe that living in true forgiveness – as a lifestyle- is the only way to find true peace in life.

There are a few core people who never hurt me enough for me to run from for long. My mother is one. My sisters would be the others.

There are probably others that would be true and honest friends and companions. I have no doubt that my husband is one of them. Knowing this, however, doesn’t mean that I am able to trust him 100%, 100% of the time, with every aspect of my life. It’s not his fault, though. I’m not sure I can do that with anyone. It never leaves my mind that everyone is capable of being an angel or a demon. It never crosses my mind that anyone is above suspicion, except for people I haven’t gotten to know well enough yet. I can keep believing in them until the inevitable facade crumbles. I believe there are some people with incorruptible character, and keep hoping I have found them…but…

I am not sure what the answer is, but I believe it starts with choice. Like love, perhaps trusting is a choice requiring faith, and love.

I pray I find the strength inside to choose to trust more people, more deeply.

Any thoughts?

On Helplessness

About a week ago, the Daily Post offered up a tasty, psyche-probing prompt that asked us to tell of a time we felt helpless, and what we did about it. At once my mind both embraced the idea and recoiled at it. I had at least three completely helpless times in my life, and while they are compelling stories, I suppose, they would also be hard to talk about publicly. They are personal, painful times. I survived them, through my faith, and time. Some people may not want to know about those times. I would have to be brutally honest, not embellishing for effect, nor diminishing  to reduce potential criticism. 

I am still not sure I am ready to talk about all of it. Not here. But I will say that all of these helpless moments were resolved through a combination of inner strength, and a certain grace that I credit to God. 

When my ex-husband and I divorced, it was a very painful time. It was not an amicable split. There was a lot of bitterness and pain involved. Worst of all, there were two kids involved. At a point before the divorce papers had been signed by the other party, who had been hiding from the person I had chosen to serve him with them, things took a very dark turn. 

I was at my new apartment, typing a research paper for my class. I had a midnight deadline, and was just pounding out the last few citations, when I got an overwhelming sense of doom. I had a sudden, urgent need to go to my daughter’s. They were mostly staying with their dad, convinced that life with him would be better. I still didn’t accept that. But all I knew that night is that I HAD to get over there, midnight notwithstanding. 

When I arrived, his SUV was not in sight, but every light in the house was on. As I approached the door, I could see my daughter’s backpacks on the floor, through the wooden and glass door. I thought I heard their voices. I began to knock and call out their names. It got very quiet. I continued to knock. No answer, but I felt that someone must be there. I got frustrated and anxious and tried to open the door. There had never been a top lock on the door. The knob turned, but someone had nailed the door shut from the inside on a metal hasp that was attached to the door but had no matching lock to go with it. The door opened 1/4 inch, so I could see that.  This just really mystified me and got me pissed. I went around to the side door. Nobody had thought to lock it. 

Now, my ex had told me about a week prior that he was taking the girls to Alabama for a ‘vacation’ at his parent’s. School was out for summer break, so I was OK with that, but a bit leery. I had a feeling he may take most of the summer with them. They would be 3,200 miles away. When I opened the door, what I saw were filled and half-filled boxes, messes everywhere, and there were photos and pictures pulled off of walls and stacked,. I also saw clothes on hangers lying on the sofa. My mouth dropped open. I was shocked. This was not a vacation! You do not pack boxes and pull portraits off walls for a vacation. I looked all around, calling out my girl’s names at the top of my lungs. I went upstairs. No sign of them. I began to think they had gone to the store with their dad. It was not uncommon for them to be out and about this late in the summer. My heart was pounding. He was planning on moving! I hadn’t served him papers yet, and he was planning on running off with the girls- for what looked like permanently.

I was beyond panic-stricken. I was nearly hysterical. I decided to just wait outside the house until they returned. They could not be far away, I reasoned. I had to talk to them. 

In a few minutes, I saw my ex’s SUV cruising slowly up the street. I could see it was packed full of stuff. He pulled up to the curb, and I was able to confront him. He had made the kids hide in the upstairs bathroom, I found out later.  He had been slowly loading up the car, and  had parked down the street, to avoid me or process servers! He lied to me and told me they were spending the night at their cousin’s. It turned out to be a very long, horrible night. I ended up agreeing to marriage counseling because I begged and pleaded with him not to take the girls away. I would have agreed to anything to keep him from taking my daughters ! I had no intention of reconciling with this snake, but I was able to charm him into believing I would go to counseling. I made good on my word, though. A few months later, I did go to one counseling session, where I proceeded to call him out in front of the counselor, and tell him exactly why I had agreed to the counseling, and that I had no intention of continuing our marriage! By making that ‘deal’, I secured my kids for a few months, and was able to get him served. 

He ended up taking them there again under the pretense of a vacation, but then enrolled them into school there! That was the third most helpless feeling  of my life. He had prepared a loophole in the divorce decree that stated he could move ( if it furthered his career) over sixty miles away. He had actually been granted custody of our children! My older daughter was brought to the courtroom after we had agreed neither would be there. He had talked my older daughter into believing that he was going pave her future in gold.  I had been made out as the family-breaking villain who ‘left the family’. Nothing was further from the truth. He had representation, and his brother was there with him- the brother who knew better than anyone what this man was like, and who had agreed with me-  but in the end, proved the axiom that blood is thicker than water. The day I lost custody, a part of me completely died. This was, without a doubt, the most helpless feeling in my whole life. I couldn’t comprehend how the fickle opinion of my 13 year old swayed the judge. I couldn’t explain, out of fear and shock, why I wouldn’t tell every dirty laundry detail of what he was like aloud in court. I was not a druggie, alcoholic, or child abuser. I was scared, and helpless. I had no lawyer, and not one friend, not one- came to stand by me in court. 

Years have passed, and the girls have learned a lot about their dad, and his empty promises. We have re-established a relationship that is much better now than the horrible one we had right after the divorce. At that time, it didn’t matter to them that I was ‘right’, or “justified”. They had believed the lie that I left THEM, not their dad. Despite my continual efforts to be with them, they often turned me down and chose not to be with me, parenting plan or not. I was too weak then to stand up for my rights, because I was scared. I was scared of him, and scared of pushing my kids away even more. That time was hell. Writing about it here has brought up a lot of old emotions I never want to feel again. Helplessness. Betrayal. Being misunderstood. I would love to tell you that everything has turned out great. I will say they have turned out well, but I will never get back the time I missed in their lives. I will never know the pain they felt, lying alone in bed at night, wondering why ” I left”. But I imagine it was a lot like my pain. I will never understand why they chose him over me, and why they alienated themselves from me. I ached and writhed in misery missing them so much. I went through a very early empty nest syndrome, and to this day, I am not quite sure how to be- my kids live together now, ages 19 and almost 18. They are both working, and pretty independent. I still get to help my younger daughter a lot, though, and I am very proud of the young women they are becoming. My older daughter is a successful composer, musician, and chef. My younger daughter has a huge heart, and is brilliant, sensitive, and adorable. She could sell air conditioning to Eskimos.  I know they love me, and they know I love them. Their dad is still jobless,  unhealthy, extremely overweight, and  basically sad and unhappy. This gives me no happiness, but allows me to see that his condition was never my fault- though I was made to feel everything was always ‘my fault’. 

So, I am happy, healthy, and loved today. I have a wonderful husband, and beautiful life. I have a good relationship with my daughters, and I have survived- thrived. Though he tried to crush me, and bury me, and almost succeeded, God managed to make something good out of the mess we created.