Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My mind is in turmoil.

I have wondered for years if she was still alive. Her name is Mel too. We are opposites in every sense of the word. She is tall and I am short. She is blonde and I am brunette. She is hyper and I was always laid back. She was popular and I was not. She taught me how to dress, wear makeup, how to talk to boys, introduced me to heavy metal and taught me how to bang my head. We learned how to smoke cigarettes together. We babysat as a team. We once spent a whole weekend rewinding a tape and learning all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody. We double dated. She was my sister and we were inseparable. In fact, we married each others high school sweethearts in a surreal chain of events that no one saw coming.

We lost touch after I moved away but I was able to visit her twice when our vacations bought us back to Florida. The second time we visited her, her marriage was falling apart. Then I traveled to Central Florida just after my mother’s death, just to see her. Her mother called me out of the blue after 2 or 3 years of no contact. My immediate thought was that she was gone. The last I had talked to her she was babbling and incoherent. I remember sitting silently on the phone for what seemed like an hour and listened to her ramble without making discernable sentences, but not wanting to hang up because I was comforted at least that she was alive and as long as I had her on the phone with me she wasn’t going anywhere. Then I didn’t hear from her until her mother called.

I knew that she must have been high on something the night she called, so when her mother called me, with that sad tone in her voice and important news to tell me, my first thought was that she was dead. No, her mother said, not dead, merely overdosed and now living in a rehab. She warned me that the damage done by the drug was devastating to the brain and that she was now in a state of psychosis. Even living 9 hours away, I dropped my life and came running. I didn’t care the personal or financial hardship an emergency trip would cost me. We were talking about my sister, my best friend. I had to see her, hold her and know that she was still alive. When I arrived, she did not know me. Her mother had to introduce us, then after blaming her new “foggy” brain she was overjoyed to see me and spend time with me. I spent one hour with her after driving all night to get to her. She spent the whole hour telling me that she really wasn’t that sick and that really all she needed was for her mother and ex-husband to get off of her case. For that one hour, I was anything that she needed me to be…a person to vent to, an old friend who needed to have the “true” situation explained to her, and at one point, a stranger she was introducing herself to for the first time. In my heart I wept more and more. With every word she spoke, it was obvious that the friend I had spent countless hours laughing and sharing with was forever gone. She had been destroyed by the drug. Obliterated permanently by the damage left behind. We parted with promises to keep in touch. She told me that she planned to be home in the next month and restart her life…maybe even move to where I lived to start over. I held her close and smelled her hair, not knowing really if I would ever see her alive again.

I drove back to her mother’s house silently. I pretended a headache and went to lie down. What I really did was sit on the bed and cry while my husband held me and prayed. Her mother asked me later what was really wrong with me. She wanted to know what I wasn’t telling her. She needed me to talk to her like a nurse. Knowing that she needed to hear it, I explained that this person, this altered version, is permanent. This brain damage is unchangeable. This personality shift is probably the new her…forever. In reality she had died that night. The person that we knew was gone forever. I spoke with her twice more before she left the rehab. I didn’t even know she had gone. I called one evening to check on her and they said she had checked out. I didn’t find her again for almost a year. She called me at midnight on New Year’s. We spoke for 15 minutes. She told me she was in love with a man she met at AA and that she still wanted to move near me to start her life over again. I asked her how her children were…she changed the subject.

That was 5 years ago. I was able to find her cousin on Facebook and asked tenderly if she was still alive. I was told that the cousin didn’t have contact with her, but that yes she was alive. I miss her terribly. I think about her almost everyday and utter silent prayers that don’t even have a form other than “protect her”. Last night, after entering her name in the Facebook Search box (which I am in the habit of doing every so often but always finding nothing) suddenly there she was. Older, a little more rough around the edges, but alive and staring back at me from my computer screen. She is suddenly tangible and available….and I chickened out. I looked through her page, trying desperately to glean some insight into the person that she is now. It amounted to no less than stalking. I looked at posts, pictures, looked at the page of the man she is in a relationship with now, but I didn’t send her a message. I just…I don’t know…I’m scared. But then, that’s not exactly the right word. Worried may be a better word. By all appearances she is still that “other” person, the new person that I don’t know. I am faced with a dilemma that I never saw coming. Do I get to know this new person? It would seem that after searching methodically for her for years and even asking family members about her that I would be overjoyed to find her and would not be able to stop myself from contacting her immediately, but that is totally not what happened. My heart leapt when I saw her face, but then immediately in the place of joy came fear. Fear that I would hope for a relationship that cannot be. Fear that I would not love this new person and might even hate her for taking my best friend away from me.

I could tell from her Facebook posts that we have very little in common anymore. She appears to still be working out her demons while mine were faced long ago. We apparently lead completely different lives, with different directions or even morals. Do I let this person into my life, not knowing what pain will come of it? Do I welcome her knowing that I may have to walk away from her at some point? I cannot abide letting drama into my life for the sake of a friend I do not know anymore. Honestly, I am ashamed of myself. I searched for her. My heart pined for her. I have grieved the loss of her for years and now that she is right in front of me, I am frozen in fear. How can I ever have claimed to love her and not leap for joy at the sight of her? How can I say that I truly am a friend when I became a coward the moment I saw her? How can I be someone who is in school to be a professional counselor and feel judgmental towards my oldest and dearest friend for changing after a nearly deadly addiction?

I am ashamed and I should be. I lay in bed last night and prayed. I didn’t even tell Hubby that I found her or what I was going through. I just wanted time to process. As I lay there, I thought about my boys talking at the dinner table about the Mayan Apocalypse. We were discussing how no one really knows the hour and time that God will call us home. Then I thought about my oldest and dearest friend, who I almost lost and to some extent did lose to a drug. What if …. What if something does happen to her? What if I had the chance to hear her voice one more time and I chickened out? I have lived without my mother for 6 years now. What I wouldn’t do to have one more day with her. God is handing me another chance with Mel and I am letting the fear of the enemy keep me from her. It does not matter if she is different. I am different. I am different in so many ways than I was in high school. Different even, than I was the last time I saw her face. Being close to her might be painful, as I am reminded of the differences between then and now, but at least I have the chance to be close to her at all. I am going to take that chance. It might not end well, but I do not think I will regret trying.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Mysterious New Backbone

Just wanted to take a moment to update the situation with my oldest son, The Sweet One. Thank you all for the kind comments to my last blog about him. It really meant a lot to me, to know that others understand where I am coming from :) The situation is different now, but no less scary for me as a mom. February of this year, The Sweet One "came out" as bisexual. It was a scary time for us, especially for Hubby. I think we were well prepared for it because we had already been dealing with the bullying. At least it wasn't completely out of the blue. That would have been harder to deal with. Originally, he told us he was gay. Well...he told me that anyway. I wanted to be cautious and urged him not to label himself at this age. Like I said before, our morals dictate our behaviors no matter what our preferences are! But, he felt like he needed a label. I understand that though. I understand the need to feel confident in your actions and even in your own mind. A label, even though it has the potential to be damaging, is solid and concrete. It sometimes can be used as something to hold on to when nothing else makes sense. This is totally not related, but I have used my title of nurse as a platform to stand on, and an identity to push myself to perform in situations I knew that I could not handle. It was the foundation I needed to help myself know that yes, I could do this difficult thing as a nurse, even when as a person it was too much to handle. I'm not sure that's what he meant, but that's how I understood it. For him to be able to stand up for himself, as a bullied person, he needed a place to start from. He's almost grown. I can't make these decisions for him. I don't even think I can influence him anymore than I already have. I've done my job, I've left my mark. One of the things I have learned about and for myself is that the world is not black and white. Motherhood is muddy. I can have all the opinions I want about other people's kids, but it's not so easy when it's your own child. I'm here to tell you that right now. I would like to say that I handled it well, but the truth is that I did struggle. I struggled with my personal opinions about homosexuality (which were that it is a sin, but so is my mouth so who am I to judge?), I struggled with worrying that he was acting out the trauma of the bullying (he quickly set those fears at ease with a few stories dating back to elementary school) and I also, to be honest, struggled with my faith. I'm still struggling with my faith somewhat. No, that's not correct. I am struggling with my faith "community". I have no problems with God. I have no problem with my son. I have a *HUGE* problem with other Christians' actions towards my son. Note to them: You are not being judged by him. You are not responsible for his actions, or preferences. YOU are not his mother. I tried to keep quiet for many months about his orientation. I figured, it was his business and he will handle it as it comes to him. Mostly, that is still true. But, I find myself becoming more and more defensive as time passes. This is what I recently told a friend, I need my son to know that I love him. Period. I don't care about what others think of me for it. If I have to march in the Gay Day parade wearing a rainbow striped shirt for him to know that I love him....where's my shirt?? I don't care if my brand of faith differs from yours at all. In fact, I could honestly care less. I'm not asking anyone what they think about it, or what they would do, because in reality, unless your child is gay, you have NO idea what my family has gone through. A very sweet older couple in our church recently came forward as having a gay adult son, whom they shunned and now are trying to re-connect with. They're advice was this: Love him. Never let him feel like you don't love him. Even if you have to keep your mouth shut about his life, his choice in partners, his choice in friends, whatever, make sure that he knows you love him and that is what is more important than being right. I think that is advice that I can live by. Since his announcement, he has taken the time and given himself the permission to "learn" more about himself, which is amazing considering I still can't decide if I like red peppers. He has dated a few girls and a few guys and has decided that he likes both, for different reasons. For now, he has chosen the label Bisexual. That may change with his life and experience. I may end up with a daughter in law, or a son in law. Both are wins for me, as long as he is loved. For now, as long as he choses the label son and lets me carry the label of mother...that's all that matters to me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Crazy Ideas, Crockpots and Me

Ok, so sometimes I think I am really a glutton for punishment. No, really. I am. My recent decision to go back to nursing school has me a little frantic. I remember nursing school. I remember how exhausted I was, how much I cried, how few hot meals my family ate during that time. No joke, at least 3 nights a week of peanut butter and jelly. In an attempt to keep my life from falling apart after I start nursing school in January, I have decided to *attempt* this crazy thing I have been seeing on the internet...Freezer Cooking. Now, this is not a a "cooking" blog, but I thought, who cares? Someone might enjoy it :) Probably not, but I'm writing about it anyway haha. The general concept is that you buy all the ingredients you need for several meals and spend the time to assemble them into ready to cook recipes (like crockpot meals or casseroles) then freeze them. When you need to cook, you just pull it out of the freezer and throw it in the oven or crockpot. I really like the idea, I'm just not sure I am consistent enought to do it right. I have been scouring the internet, reading every blog I can find, trying to learn from these other women who's houses are mostly clean and who's freezers are fully stocked with ready to go meals. It sounds like a total scam, but I'm going to do it anyway. Have any of you tried this? Did it work? It's a scam isn't it? No, don't tell me. I want to be suprised. I will be starting sometime in the next week or two, but this is what I need...warnings, tips, advice, general moral boosters, and booze. Not for the cooking, just for me :) If any of you have tried it I need to hear from you! If it didn't work, I need to hear from you more!! Do you have recipes that you know freeze well? Send them to me! If I use of your recipes I will link back to you ;) Anyway, be on the look out for that post in the next couple of weeks!

The funny thing about making plans for the future....

Well, Hello :) I promised myself I would attempt to check in on my blog once in awhile. I miss it. I miss my readers! I miss having the time to write most of all. I may have a little more time for the next couple months, so maybe I can blog a little more than once a year haha. I started my junior year for my Psychology Degree this year but I'm just not feeling it anymore. Life has changed so much since I started. So, so much of my life is different. I'm not sure that I even recognize the person that I was in 2009. I am much less sure of who/what I am now. Much less sure of my likes, my wants, my dreams. I'm not quite middle age, but since I started so early with my adult life, maybe that is exactly what is happening. Professionally, I have hit a brick wall. My current nursing license is pretty well un-usable (is that even a word??) in my area now. As an LPN, my job prospects are almost non-existent now. For one, I live in a very rural area and attempting to commute to a large city where my job prospects would be better would mean I would have to make twice what I would ever be offered just to pay for the gas. Aside from that, my hometown hospital is the last hospital, maybe in the whole area, to even hire LPN's. I could just stay where I am, but my hours have been cut to less than 24 hrs a week and still falling. Financially, my hospital is dying, as a lot of small rural hospitals are doing right now because of budget cuts and the change in the way the government is reimbursing through Medicare/Medicaid. It won't be long and my position will be dissolved all together. I was actually reminded of that this week when a co-worker was let go after 25 years of service just because of lack of funding. So, combined with lack of growth in my area of the industry and frustration at my current personal issues, Hubby and I have decided to put my Psych degree on hold. I will be leaving the workplace in January and returning to nursing school. Another 2 years of school. Yay. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful to have the opportunity, but I just don't feel like I am ever going to *not* be a student again. I made up my mind to leave the nursing field 3 years ago...I am not too thrilled about coming back into it this way. But, Mommy's and Daddy's have bills to pay. 24 hours a week is not paying our bills right now. Losing my job completely is not going to help matters any either. So...I switch majors, finish my nursing degree so that I can continue working while I finish my Bachelor's in Psych and go on to get my Master's. At this rate, I should be out of school sometime around the year 2020. That sentance made me want to take a nap. I almost cannot believe that 3 years have passed since I even made the decision to go to school in the first place. That seems impossible. But, time does what needs to passes. On the bright side, at this rate, I will be graduating with my Master's in Psychology, after having also gotten my Nursing Degree, by my 40th Birthday. All I can say is that, I plan on having a hell of a party that year! I DO promise to blog about it :)

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