Thoughts on being Alone on a Holiday

(These are my boys, Napoleon and Sappy. The best holiday companions ever)

I spent thanksgiving alone, all alone except for my two loving dogs. I was just too sick with the pain of surgery and a flare from one of my autoimmune diseases.

At first I was horribly sad and angry as I pictured people I knew being together, laughing, enjoying good food, and each other’s company. What I really realized was making me angry is that sickness, whether it has been my CPTSD or my physical illnesses has stolen so many holidays away from being with my son. My son is 11 now and I love spending time with him as he’s just a very unique, bright, and outside of the box kind of kid. He’s a lot like me.

The anger about that came knowing he’s with his other parents, which normally doesn’t bother me, but my son is terrified of his step mom, which he doesn’t express to any but a couple people. You see, she was substantiated on charges of abusing my son this year, but as politics go and they’re upper middle class white people, it got swept under the rug as several investigations have before this one. Every time I try to fight for my son to be truly safe, I get sick. I get so mad at my body because it’s not fair my son lives that way. There’s not much I can do in my weakened state. Honestly, it’s an extremely screwed up situation I won’t go into more as this wasn’t what I was going to write about, but it weighs heavy on my heart and does everyday I don’t see my son.

Anyway, back to being alone on thanksgiving. The thing I realized is that I had no expectations. I was just going to be lying alone in my bed, so nothing.

The thing that disappoints so many of us about holidays is we have this expectation that it will be one of the happiest days of the year, when it’s usually not. I don’t know about you, but I’ve set holiday expectations high to where I think they’ll be magical. I’ve never had a magical holiday and I usually just want them to be over so I can climb in my bed and cover my head! Perhaps that’s why thanksgiving was so great, I stayed in bed with my head covered the whole day!

It was just a good lesson in expectations. Holidays at my house in my youth usually started out ok until the liquor came out. My mom would drink too much and then my parents would get in a nasty fight where my dad probably went out and sought solace with one of his mistresses while I was left with a violently angry mom. No wonder I used to hate holidays so much. Didn’t mean to write about that either.

Anyway, the next holiday for me is Christmas. I’m doubtful I’ll have my son, so I’m not setting any expectations except I like to decorate my house. My expectation will simply be to make my home pretty and really appreciate it on the day whether I’m surrounded by people I choose or absolutely alone. I’m realizing that no matter what, it will all be ok. Nothing has to be magical. Holidays aren’t magical, it’s those tiny moments that sneak up on you, like my friend helping me so much today. That was magical.

Sorry for the disjointed post. Hopefully you still took something from it, and I especially hope you aren’t feeling too disappointed about your holiday.



It’s Thanksgiving Isn’t It?

(Just a silly picture for a heavy day for many)

It was interesting that when I opened my news this morning on my iPhone, one of the first articles was something about “how to avoid invasive questions from your family”. Another article said something about “how to survive thanksgiving”.

It made me realize that not just traumatized people have a difficult time with this day, but obviously enough that dealing with it were some of the top stories of the day. There were several other articles that had to do with getting through painful emotions that holidays bring up.

I had originally planned to have thanksgiving with a couple friends that were coming from out of town. I was going to make them a fabulous meal in exchange for them packing my house up as I’m moving in just 10 days. My home health nurse was afraid my body was going into sepsis and was encouraging me to go to the emergency room for the second day in a row. I once again said no as with all I’ve been through medically, I just needed the comfort of my bed. So my thanksgiving guests decided not to come.

So here it is thanksgiving. I’m alone in my bed in tremendous physical pain, but I’m grateful I didn’t have to read those articles to be around a bunch of people I don’t care for (in my case my biological family and the chosen family I recently cut out of my life). Those events are so phony. You can tell so much of it is obligatory and at least all the thanksgiving celebrations I have attended were not joyous, but depressing, and I would go home feeling even more awful and unwanted even though I was supposedly around people who cared about me the most. If you are at one of those “celebrations”, I’m sorry. Send me an email to vent. I can take it, and I’ll send you one back so you know someone understands, and you are loved.

So I’m actually grateful that I’m not recovering well from my surgery. As people are so busy, I’m being left alone to sit by myself and contemplate the good in my life.

When I first had to cancel all my plans yesterday, I was NOT grateful, in fact, I was mad and felt super sorry for myself and for the first time in months, suicide crossed my mind. I knew I wouldn’t do it, it was simply fleeting and an old habit from when I’m so overwhelmed and can’t figure any way out.

But today, after lots of much needed sleep, I’m calmer and ready to support anyone and everyone that this is a hard day for. Perhaps you had to spend time with abusive family members or super toxic people because it’s the holiday and that’s what you do? I hope you didn’t have to, but I know plenty did.

Perhaps next year, you will think of a better way to spend your holiday that honors what you want to do and who you authentically are. I hope that for you.

All I know is that right now I’m grateful to be so sick and have received one amazing phone call from someone I consider one of the truest friends I have. She made me feel so much better. And who knows? If I feel better tomorrow, I can make my amazing meal I planned and eat it with my truest of true friends and a group of people she considers to be friends without families.

Thanksgiving a day late without pressure to be fake sounds pretty darn peaceful to me.

I won’t use a traditional holiday greeting here, but I will say, find some peace in this day or even the smallest of contentment. I’m totally and completely serious about sending me an email. You don’t even have to use “nice” words or punctuation. I will love to hear from you and respond.



PS If you had an amazing holiday, I am so happy for you. I know it happens, just hasn’t in my life and so many that read this blog. Perhaps you could comment on what made it good?? It would be super helpful!!

Don’t Take Crumbs When You can have the Whole Cake

Friendships, relationships, people in general are very confusing to me. I’m not exactly sure how you manage any of this. What I am learning is that I won’t be treated as less than anything I deserve, but should I be? Or what does this mean?

I have figured out that we get different needs met through different people and different types of relationships, so a variety is necessary. I have also found a very small circle who I share the intimate details of my life, and they are incredibly supportive. We may not always agree, but they show up and make me critically think about my actions, which I think makes me a better person.

One place I won’t sacrifice is in an intimate relationship. I have been dating this guy, and I will say, he is probably one of the kindest people I know, but he gives me crumbs. He doesn’t take much initiative to see me. He has flaked on some really important things and most recently with all the surgery and serious health issues I’ve had, he just hadn’t been there. I’m also getting ready to move in less than two weeks, and he hasn’t offered much in terms of help that would be useful, even though I’ve tried to be specific in my needs.

I think I’ve hung onto him because he’s nice, but he doesn’t necessarily make me feel special. I was writing him these very long messages about what our relationship means to me and plans for the future for when I’m healed up, and all I would get back was an emoji most times. I feel like my writing something special deserves more than an emoji. So once again, crumbs.

I realize I’m a hard person to be in a relationship with considering all my health problems, and I was beginning to give him an out as I’m just not good enough. Then I decided, NO!!! He knew getting into a relationship with me that this was part of my life. I am a joyous person most of the time with excitement for life, big plans for my future, and I deserve someone who is equally passionate about living and living well. I also deserve to have someone to have fun with as well as someone to support me through more difficult times. With all the pain and frustration that come with healing from major surgery, he’s never felt like someone I could call for support. Just more crumbs.

Maybe I don’t need a cake to be perfect and whole for it to make a relationship work, but I at least need it to sustain me. A few crumbs won’t do much to keep me going and be sustainable. I’m also noticing that throwing me a crumb of kindness every couple weeks is much less than I deserve.

I keep going back to a quote someone gave me several months ago by Buddha when I was weeding people out of my life, “It’s better to walk alone than amongst fools”. I’m not saying any of the people I’ve weeded out of my life were fools, but it was foolish for me to stay in any type of relationship with them.

I crave connection, and I have it. I just need to remember to turn to those that have connection with me too. Thank you to those people. There are so many moments when just thinking about you and knowing you exist are what keeps me alive.

Don’t settle for crumbs. In the end, it ends up being extremely painful.



Ups and Downs

Hey everyone,

It’s been awhile since I posted. I last said I was going into surgery to fix a problem than had been ignored for over 20 years.

I am happy to say, my surgery went well. Once they opened up my back, it was very clear why I have had bouts of paralysis for years and things were much more dire than imaging simply made it show. I was lucky to end up with an extremely talented neurosurgeon, who fixed what he could, but will probably have a couple more surgeries to completely remedy the problem. I’m ok with it if it means I’m going to continue to walk for a very long time.

So posting has been hard as I’ve been on lots of pain medicine, which has caused me not to trust my instincts and live with some bad decisions. Pain medicine is necessary when you go through major surgery, but not fun as I hate not feeling like I’m in control of my life.

I had someone volunteer to come care for me, and I believe she had really great intentions, and I appreciate what she could do for me, but I also realized some things were not quite right, which led to a low.

I was so excited about understanding how important connecting with others was in my last post. Well, today left me hating people, the world, and feeling used, and like I’m only good enough for what I can give others. For once, I wish someone would offer to take care of me, because they truly wanted to, not because they needed an escape, money, I’m a better option, etc. All my life, I’ve had to ask others for help, only to be disappointed that it wasn’t really about helping me, it was more about what I could do for them. This, sadly, was the case once again. As I said, I believe her intentions were good, but I realized that this person and so many in my past don’t really care about helping me, they are first and foremost helping them self, and my needs are very secondary, if on the list at all.

I hate being looked at as an opportunity. I wish someone would care for me without asking for money or needing a place to live or just getting something out of me. It reinforces so much of my trauma patterns in my head that I’m only good enough if I’m the one giving to others.

Leaving the hospital, I could barely walk. I needed someone to basically do everything for me without having to take care of someone else’s financial and emotional needs. Unfortunately, this is what happened. Instead of my healing, I was the one doing the caretaking. It really is my fault in a lot of ways. I knew this would happen on some level and should have asked someone else, or I should have gone to skilled nursing where they would have taken care of me and only me, and I wouldn’t have had to worry about taking care of another person.

It was such a low. In fact, I was feeling so so so low. I began to question if anyone truly cared about me or loved me just for me?? I feel like people see me and see money or see that I have nice things and that I’m buying a house, so I’m a way out to bigger and better things for them. The truth is, I have these things as I buy NOTHING. I never go out. I never eat at a restaurant. I only buy things on super cheap clearance. I follow my budget strictly. I have nice things because I work super hard at saving to not buy frivolous things or “impulse” buys so I can have what I really want. I’m not rich. I’m not a millionaire. I am a woman who is a single mom supporting myself and my son on basically a disability income.

I was low and my self esteem went into the depths of the toilet having these realizations about myself. I then reached out on facebook for needing help packing up my house to move in a couple weeks as I’m restricted from doing anything for a couple months with the back surgery. I ended up as the hours went by, people began to offer. People began to offer who were using their only day off to help ME!! When I asked what they wanted in return, it was simply nothing but to know they could help me and to see me! They didn’t want money! They didn’t want an escape! They didn’t even want a place to live! All they wanted was to help with no alternative motive that wasn’t going to be thrown in last minute. This was the high. The high is that people do love me for just me, not for what I can offer them tangibly. People simply wanted to help as it was the right thing to do.

I have honestly been so confused the past week since coming home from the hospital as to why things were happening the way they were. I couldn’t figure out why I needed help with so many things, but the person helping wasn’t doing it, except to ask for more and more money and just eat me out of house and home with the promise of helping in a couple weeks??!! I was so confused as I thought helping was about helping, not about being an ATM machine.

I know when I have helped others in the past, I didn’t expect anything in return. I helped for the sheer joy of helping others. As I have reiterated, I’m sure the person helping me wasn’t completely intentional in all of this, but the fact it happened, was pretty heartbreaking and made me feel low and useless and unworthy. I know her part wasn’t about me. I’m sure her own patterns of operating in this world affected her decision making.

The good that came out of it is that I realized I’m better than being used by anyone. I will continue to help others without anything in return, and I will expect others to help me for the same reasons. Having things be conditional or strings attached just reminds me way too much of my dysfunctional family.

Do I still love and care about the person that was helping me with all these conditions? Absolutely, but it was also an excellent reminder that I need to set boundaries with people, especially when they are doing things that are wrong to me and making me feel bad. I set a boundary today! I asked her to leave for awhile! I am super proud of myself as anyone with trauma knows that setting boundaries is hard. We HATE setting them as we get afraid people will get mad or won’t like us anymore. My new way of thinking is that boundaries make ME feel good regardless of how the other person feels. I honestly enjoyed a peaceful evening for the first time in a week. It was relaxing to only have to care for my needs and my sons. We are both in sync with each other and each of our physical and emotional needs are not overwhelming and so important to to me.

So, don’t allow yourself to be walked all over. No one is a door mat no matter how nice the person may appear. If you get an uneasy feeling in your gut, trust it. I know trauma makes it so we don’t trust any signals our body gives us, and it took me a week to figure out that my gut was giving me huge red flags and warnings. I set my boundary though. It made me extremely uncomfortable at first, but look! I had a peaceful evening again. Peaceful enough that I could gather my thoughts to post on my blog, which is hugely important to me.

So go for it! Set some boundaries. Boundaries, ironically will give you your own freedom and will keep you safe!



Connection…It finally Connected

(Feeling strong with the help of people all over the world. Thank you!!)

I know I’ve talked about connection and needing to have people in your life, but this final week has sealed so much for me.

I used to think doing it alone and “figuring it out myself” was the way. I had a pathological independence. I truly believed that if you leaned on others, they would just disappoint you. Pretty much everyone until recently really did disappoint me. The thing I’m trying to figure out is that I probably set myself up for disappointment and it wasn’t all their fault. Truth is, my own self hatred made me allow myself to only know disappointment and people who couldn’t truly help.

Since my legs went numb and totally weak 8 days ago, all I’m doing is relying on others. I realize they’re limits of what they can offer, and I have to make sure my part is clear too in being precise in my needs. Needs, what are those? Those are those things you want to say, but hold back for fear of looking stupid. What’s stupid is that we don’t ask, so we never receive. People can say no and still love you. People can negotiate to what they are capable of and still care. No does not equal rejection. Often no means boundaries and for those traumatized people such as me, I need super clear boundaries!!

I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to convey, but being in a hospital where I can’t even get to the bathroom alone for a week now has taught me that sharing my burdens of my pain is absolutely freeing. I can ride on the backs of so many people who are helping me from the CNAs to my neurosurgeon to friends in close proximity to friends around the country and world. I guess I’m feeling lucky and strong and more grateful than ever to have figured this out.

So I head into surgery to hopefully fix a problem that I haven’t gotten validation for for over 20 years. Surgery is scary, but I know I have an entire team fighting for me.

Best of all, I’m fighting for me. I have tons to do yet, whether I’m walking or not!

You keep fighting for you too!



Taking Charge When You Have NO Control

(Forcing my useless legs into yoga positions to feel like I have the slightest bit of control in an uncontrollable situation)

Yesterday, I shared that I was having spinal cord surgery today, well due to miscommunication, it didn’t happen. I don’t know when it will happen, if it will happen, what’s going to happen… I just don’t know.

I found myself becoming overwhelmed with fear. A dear friend/angel said that of course I’m scared. People with PTSD have huge fears about situations they can’t control and are unknown, especially when it comes to their bodies.

I spent much of my day in lots of fear, much physical pain, and plenty of isolating myself. I then got some strength to advocate for myself to get some answers about what is going to happen as everything from staying in the hospital to going to skilled nursing to home health has been discussed while we wait for the neurosurgeon to have some time to do my surgery. I don’t have answers yet, but I was glad that my friend/angel normalized my intense fears. I was starting to go crazy.

I never used my voice before. If something was happening that was confusing or unjust to me, I just kept quiet. I didn’t want to make anyone upset or uncomfortable and I surely didn’t want anyone to be mad at me. I see the ridiculousness in those thoughts now. This is MY health and MY body and if I don’t use my voice, I will just sit here and know nothing adding to fear and anxiety.

I’ve been very still for over 6 days now as these darn legs don’t work. I’m in tremendous pain still, so I forced my legs manually into some yoga positions to get a bit of a stretch and honestly to just feel like I can take charge of my situation.

Use your voice! You were given one, and I definitely want to hear what you have to say!!



The Anxiety Leaves My Body with the Tears

(This is the view from my hospital room. The amazing changes in the colors of the sky made me cry. Tissue anyone??)

Have a major anxiety problem? Been diagnosed with GAD and tried every medication on the psychiatrist’s docket without it easing? Me too, but then I started to get in touch with my feelings.

It’s a tremendously hard thing to do as those feelings from the past wanted to stay inside and hide forever. I figured out though that I had a constant spinning in my body, and I often trembled and was nauseous and anxiety made me so sick that I had to call into work often. It was an out of control nightmare.

People told me to breathe and meditate and do yoga. I began to do those things, and it was helpful, but always that spinning ball of energy inside.

You know what no one told me to do to get rid of anxiety? Actually go through it. Cry a lot and often and about everything. I had to start carrying lots of Kleenex in my car and purse as the tears felt endless.

One day, I was overcome with calm after so many tears. I then knew the anxiety came out with the tears. While breathing and yoga and meditation are very helpful, they just give you a break. Those feelings of sorrow or hope or heartbreak or grief or whatever is stuck spinning inside will continue until it comes out.

I’m in a highly stressful and anxiety producing situation. I’ve been in the hospital for days now as my legs no longer work. I had to make a decision today to go with major surgery on my spinal cord or not walk or intermittently be able to walk. I was starting to get the spinning feeling as my surgery is complicated by my other health issues, so I cried as I’m very sorrowful as my surgery comes with a very lengthy recovery. I want to be running and traveling and having it easy as it was just a few weeks ago.

People won’t think you’re weird for crying in public. In fact, I’ve received huge love from strangers for crying in public. It makes you look real. Today, a nurse came in while I was crying and gave me a smile, a tissue, and a “let it out!”

So please feel the feelings no matter how painful. If you need someone to cry with, email me and we can figure out a way to cry together!