When You Feel Like the Most Stressed Out Mom

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Heather Brown and blogs over at My Life Well Loved 

Have you had one of those days recently where it feels like everything is crashing in on you, and felt you were the most stressed out mom? Today I wonder how it was only a week and a half ago that I was on a beach in Mexico without a care in the world.

We haven’t traveled much all summer long but then everything stacked up. Mexico—>Bachelorette Party at the Beach—->New York Fashion Week and of course in between those trips, blog deadlines, motherhood, learning Empower, teaching Pure Barre classes, wife-ing, small groups at church and all the other things you and I…we all do… are still there.

Not to mention, Leyton turned two last week so that brought an onslaught of emotions, as well as party planning that still needs to happen. I am SIMPLIFYING his party this year, but we’ll talk about that another day.

Of course I’m incredibly excited to go to NYFW, but it’s also really hard to leave my little man (& my big man-ha) again. It’s also hard lining up the child care, hearing stories from your mom of him acting sad and saying “ma-ma” while you’re gone, and missing them like crazy.

It’s funny how just when you think you’re in a good groove and found a balance, life throws in some curve balls. Although we can’t always be in balance, Eric and I try to communicate when we are out of balance for a season due to travel, moving, baby stuff, work stuff, etc to let the other know we are aware of being out of balance. That way the other spouse can help us get back to where we need to be.

Where we find ourselves failing is when we don’t acknowledge to the other that we are out of balance. We both need the accountability to help get back to balance. Although life can’t always be pretty with a bow on it, I’ve been intentionally trying to take a few much needed steps to help me stay towards balance that I thought some of you may appreciate too. Because, hello, life as we know it is HECTIC, BUSY, and STRESSFUL and we can easily let it get the best of us.

When we went to Mexico, I decided to bring books with me because well, it seems that vacations are the only time I have to read these days. I packed The Best Yes and Present Over Perfect…noticing a theme here? I also packed a good light read for being on the beach, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m trying to start being more mindful about what I say YES to so that it can be my best yes…and so that I CAN be present over perfect. I haven’t finished either book yet but I’m excited to have gotten started and determined to finish.

Today when I was a stressed out mom at my wit’s end, nerves frayed and almost in tears trying to hit deadlines but also be a good mom the 3 days I’m at home with Leyton before leaving again, I simply stopped. I sat down. I turned on worship music. And I invited Leyton to come sit in my lap.

We swayed to the music. I prayed the only thing I could think to get out: “Lord, help my racing mind to slow down. Help me.” I’ll tell you what, it helped. In that instance, I sat there just singing, swaying and tears brimming at my eyes. Motherhood is such a gift. But it’s so hard.

We are not perfect. Life is not easy, but we are here as a community of “lovies” (a title for the MLWL community you guys suggested) and in the body of Christ to help each other live a life well loved. A life full of promise. A love for each other that only comes from women encouraging women and seeking wisdom in God’s word.

And you know what, if you aren’t a believer, that’s ok because we’re here to love on you as well. I see you weary momma. I see you frazzled wife and stressed out mom. I see you lady who is worried you aren’t beautiful enough or smart enough or whatever “enough” you struggle with.

This post literally flowed from my brain (on overdrive) to my heart as Jesus helped me process through, to hopefully encourage you today wherever you are.

I want to encourage you today to take 5 minutes for you. Maybe light a candle, pray, start a good book, cuddle up with a blanket, stretch, do something to bring your weary heart to a state of rest even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes.

When Your Father Is Homeless

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by anonymous. 

 

Whenever the news reports bad weather, I think of my father.

When everyone is talking about going snowboarding and the latest storm bringing in the fresh snow, I wonder about my father. I wonder where he goes when its raining and cold.

When ever I meet someone new, I wonder what they would think if they knew that my father was homeless. What would they think of me? What would they say?

I listen to co-workers talk about their dads. “That’s why dads are so great”, they say.

I wonder what they would think of my dad. Not who my dad is now but who he used to be. There was a time when he was strong. That time is long gone.

Last year my father died, and they brought him back to life, but never was he the same. He had been living on the streets and not eating, mostly drinking. He died, and they brought him back to life.

I don’t know who he is now. I talk to him on the phone and I recognize his voice but it’s changed since he lost some of his teeth.

My mother visits him. She drives to Santa Cruz and looks for him on the streets until she finds him. She brings him food and clothing. She is still taking care of him, after everything.

She always did provide for him. For him and for us, she was always being a mom. She takes care of him on the weekends and her 98-year-old mother during the week.

My mother would be homeless if it weren’t for the fact that she lives with my grandmother. Everyone in my life needs someone else to survive.

I’m in my thirties now and i’m working full time. I have half a life because I don’t have a father. A father to talk to. A father to celebrate with. It’s always another sad story in my family.

My father used to tell me that “someday we’ll take a trip to Hawaii, the whole family! You me, your brother, your mother, everyone”. I don’t know why, but even when I was young I knew that was never going to happen.

Now i’m sure of it.

What I want you to know about teen dating abuse

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted by an anonymous reader.

Photo Credit: Sam Headland

When I was 14 years old, I met the young man who would be my boyfriend for the next 5 years. He was my third “boyfriend” in my life which meant he was the third boy I had ever liked so much that we held hands in public and I acknowledged him as my boyfriend and wasn’t all awkward about it.

He was so sweet to me and I loved the attention he showered on me. He was a football player (though hardly a star) and he had some friends in the “in” crowd that I was nowhere near a part of since I was one of those “smart band kids.” He was complimentary, kind, attentive, romantic (as romantic as a 15 year old gets), chivalrous, funny, and we had fun together. Because we had two very different groups of friends, we had to sort of learn about each other’s peer groups and each other’s friends. We argued sometimes, but not anything more than little teenage spats.

When we were 16, however, things changed. And they changed fast.

All at once, my mother’s alcoholism grew to unprecedented levels and then my parents were going through a divorce, my brother was on drugs and spiraling out of control, our house was chaotic, we had no money. My grades began to drop.

My boyfriend became extremely controlling – he basically dictated how I was to wear my hair (in a ponytail, off my face), what outfits I was allowed to wear (t-shirt and jeans only, no shorts, no skirts, no v-necks), that I must wear his class ring at all times, his letter jacket even when it was hot, and I was not to drive, or walk to and from class without him. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or paint my nails.

If he caught me sitting by a male student in class, he quizzed me after class about what we said, why we sat there, etc. I was not allowed to sit in the band hall with my friends at lunch anymore. I was barely allowed to have friends at all – all of the girls I hung out with since middle school were suddenly “sluts,” “whores,” “bad influences,” etc. He checked on me while I was in class – peering through windows, making me arrange to get out of class at certain times to “check in” with him, telling me that I had to write him one one-page note per period so I “kept my mind on him.” He monitored my pager for any unfamiliar numbers that might have paged me. He came to my work and would sit in the lobby for hours drinking and refilling his soda so he could make sure none of my coworkers were “inappropriate” with me.

And I went along with all of it. All of his control was under the guise of his “undying love” for me, his desire to “protect me,” to “keep me pure,” to “make sure no one tried to take me from him.” I had to dress modestly and avoid makeup because he didn’t want other guys to notice how beautiful I was. I had to wear his clothing so everyone would know we were together, like in the movie “Grease” (which I adored). He didn’t want me to talk to other guys because they might try to “take advantage of me” or “rape me if they got me alone.” I truly thought he wanted to protect me, to make sure I was safe.

And then, the summer before senior year, he hit me for the first time, but not the last. We were in his truck and I was seated in the middle, my legs astride the stick shift because I had to be closest to him at all times. He asked me point blank if I thought a friend of his was a good looking guy and I said, “yeah, sure I guess.” (He had caught me off guard – I knew better.) He didn’t even break his focus on the road. He balled his right hand that was on my thigh into a fist and he slammed it into my leg as hard as he could. I yelped and began to sob. I tried to pull away from him but the shifter was in my way. I screamed at him to let me out of the truck. We came to a stop light and he turned to me and his face contorted into the most hideous face and he spat at me words I will never forget: “You are mine. You will be mine forever. I know everything about you. And if you never want anyone to know what a filthy whore you are, that your brother and parents do drugs, that you are a liar and a cheater, you will never go against me again.” Then he calmly continued to drive, pull into a fast food place, and then order his food (and mine of course since I had long ago ceased to order for myself). He hit me at least once a day, every day almost, for our entire senior year.

When we graduated, he enlisted in the military. On the day he left for basic training, my father and I drove him to his hotel. My father went to get gas and left us alone for a bit. During that time, he proposed to me. I accepted. In my heart, I thought I could love him enough to make him realize that he shouldn’t hurt me. I thought the military would change him, make him honorable and sweet again. I went to college that fall. He wasn’t there to control me. It took 3 months of consistent encouragement from a couple of friends to get me to put on a pair of shorts to go to the lake. And somehow, those friends (and those shorts!) helped me understand that I had the freedom to get away from him. That I could be myself one day and that I had value and beauty and worth without him.

I broke up with him (via telephone) on January 19, 5 years to the day from our first date. Turns out, he was already living with a girl he met in the service. Apparently, several months later, she had his first child. I don’t really know. Because I never looked back.

If you’ve read this much, and especially if you know and love a teenage girl, you have to tell her. Tell her that if he does ANYTHING described above, she has to get out and get out fast. Boys like my ex-boyfriend become (oftentimes) abusive husbands and fathers. PLEASE, before you do another thing, check on your daughter, your niece, your cousin, your little sister, your friend. If you suspect that she’s being abused, she will NOT admit it. She will defend him. She will say he loves her, wants what’s best for her, wants to protect her. Be there for her. Help her any way you can. Show her this post. Print it out and put it where she can find it but he can’t. Maybe, just maybe, if she knows that someone else went through it and that control IS abuse, she’ll make a way out.

That’s what I want you to know.

What I want you to know about find my own way through lupus and becoming my own advocate

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted by Charlywww.barefootinthechapel.com.

Photo by: Freestocks.org

“Sitting in the doctor’s office while she told me I had “MCTD,” I remember thinking how much better that sounded than lupus. Until she told me what it was. And how rare it was. And that there was no cure.

Looking back, the doctors think I’ve had this disease since high school. One year I was so tired I would come home from school and just fall asleep on the bed and sleep every moment I could. It got to the point where my Mom got worried and took me to the doctor. (Here’s the “in those days” story…) But in those days, no one went to the doctor unless there was profuse bleeding or exposed bones–still my working definition of an emergency today. And both of those criteria first run through the “can it be super glued?” test before I decide its a true emergency. But I digress. So at this doctor’s appointment, no one did any tests. The doctor asked a few question and then pronounced it mono. Of course, since “The Doctor” said it was, it was. Then there were the endless come-and-go stream of seemingly unrelated things that followed: lungs (pneumonia, bronchitis, shortness of breath), heart (arrhythmia), arthritis, the female bonanza (botched surgeries and hysterectomy), miscarriages (how many?), muscle and joint pain (in places I had no idea I had), insomnia (at 2 am, those infomercials look positively sane AND necessary), nausea (learned to drive and puke–my definition of multi-tasking), and always the exhaustion. And I would look around and wonder who the genetic mutants were that always seemed to be bouncing around from one activity to the next. They were peppy, they slept, and they must be a Freak of Nature. How many times had I heard “oh, this just ENERGIZES me! I feel so good when I’m done, I just can’t do without it!” Really? In my world when I did anything beyond the Necessities of Life, it was a rocking day. (You know The Necessities of Life: digging dirty clothes out of the hamper that with Febreeze pass the smell test for school; making sure everything visible from the front door is clean and if you can’t do that, leaving the vacuum and/or a strategically placed bottle of cleaner there so it looks like you were just interrupted; and sending your kids to scrape the top layer off their bodies once a month.)

This particular class of energized people I referred to as The Spandex Crowd. You know–the ones that just left the gym: thin, fit, tan, and OH SO HAPPY! And wearing spandex. Which, as another digression–let me point this out. NO one should wear spandex in public. If you shouldn’t wear it–you shouldn’t and we all know what that means. Most of you who think you can–I say this with all the love in my heart–can’t. If you can wear spandex, we pretty much hate you, so again…just saying. For the record, my husband is from The Spandex Crowd. He doesn’t wear spandex, but his best time in the marathon (yes, the marathon) is 2:36 or something ridiculously over-achieving like that. Regarding marathons–I don’t even want to drive that far, let alone run it. I wouldn’t drive it, either, but the cost for flying 20 miles to town is prohibitive. And the ones running it? My husband has talent, so though he is amazing, he’s not half as impressive to me as the ones who run for five or six hours. They make me cry. I don’t even want to do something I like for that long.

Back to the subject. The Spandex Crowd and what they represented to me was what I really wanted to be. I want to jump around in spandex in a Spastic Aerobics class. I want to be the volunteer at my child’s school and think up stupid games they all play at the party so they can get treats at the end. I want to have the perfect house every Mormon is supposed to aspire to. (There’s a list of these guilt aspirations associated with that I will address later…). I want to can my dish soap and have a year supply of plastic grape flower arrangements for my family! (Did you know if you rip those little suckers off the vine that kids will chew on those things forever? Not my original idea, but my kids have been ripping them off my mother-in-law’s for years.) The only thing keeping my sense of sanity intact was that with the notable exception of one sister (you know who you are!), the rest of us all have insomnia. So, it must be the insomnia, right? If I could sleep, I’d be in The Spandex Crowd and could teach a community workshop on How To Be Like Me in whatever subject–just pick one, I would have it mastered. This, however, never happened.

Each time I would go to the doctor, I received my Hope in a Bottle. Meds for sleeping. Meds for pain. Meds for female stuff. Meds for infections. Meds for seizures – ??? – I have no idea why, either. Meds for my heart. Every time I came home with great hope, just sure that this time, the meds were going to work. And every time I ditched them eventually because not once did I ever get a med that made me feel better. In fact, the more I took, the worse I felt. This has been a constant throughout the last 20 plus years. In this last relapse though, I determined I would take everything the doctor prescribed because this time was different. I have been much more sick and therefore, these meds were going to be much better. (Let’s not even get into the logic of that leap.) I went back every few weeks not any better. They switched out all the meds, swapping them for something a little stronger. And I dutifully took them all. Each time I have come home from The Doctor with my Hope in a Bottle. At this point, it appears that my Hope in a Bottle should have been vodka, if I only I drank. I’m pretty sure I would have had a better time, at least.

Last week I went to The Doctor. I had been telling her for the last few visits that I was really nauseated. I am always nauseated, but I felt one of the meds was adding its “may cause nausea” to my “always slightly nauseated” for a “nausea-guaranteed-to -drag-your-colon-through-your-nose” kind of situation. And while I was happy with the ten pound weight loss in 9 days, I’m pretty sure that isn’t the kind of weight loss The Spandex Crowd would be recommending. The Doctor kept telling me that “nausea isn’t part of the disease.” So far, I haven’t found a single person with lupus or MCTD who isn’t nauseated. And I proved it–right into her garbage can; or at least most of it went in there. It wasn’t on purpose, but really, can you fault the timing? She dropped the meds, and wrote out prescriptions for all sorts of new and wondrous Hope in a Bottle–right after her leisurely dash for the door for a deep-breathing-of-clean-air moment. These particular new meds were clearly targeted only at the symptoms and were hitting the narcotics range. I thought back over all the meds she had prescribed and I realized not one of them was targeted at fixing anything. It struck me then, though I should have received the lightbulb moment a lot earlier. (In my defense, my brain is a fog and I’m 45, but technically my brain fog is 80 since I’ve been in menopause for over 26 years.) She didn’t know what to do, either. So she was just hitting it harder and harder and hoping the Hope in a Bottle did its job. Which it wasn’t, so she prescribed the next round of meds. My next subtle threat was to begin in July if this latest set of Suppress-the-Symptoms-Can’t-Cure-It-Hope-In-A-Bottle didn’t work.

I came home from that appointment and thought “No WAY!” I’m done. I’m done with letting someone else tell me what to do. I’m done with taking all these toxins into my body that clearly were not helping, and truth be told, made me feel like I was losing control and getting sicker. I’m done with not knowing why, how, or when this disease was going to drag me down its nasty little path. Let me point out here, I am a swift learner. You can’t say it took me over 28 years to come up with this. You can really only say 14 or so since I was diagnosed with lupus. I’m a quick study. It was time for me to find my own way and become my own advocate. So I started flushing. If you are from the Save the World Environmentalist camp, I polluted your water. Get over it. Enjoy the rewards: with any luck next time you drink a glass of water you’ll get high. My sincere apologies.

Now I’m onto the next Hope in a Bottle series, but one I have decided on for myself. I researched for hours and came up with a list of all the vitamins and minerals and foods that target the various problems with my immune system, and therefore my body. I met with a nutritional specialist. I gleaned off a list from a fellow MCTD wunderkind (really–truly amazing). I took the money I was going to spend on meds and bought a large shopping bag full of Hope in a Bottle From the Organic Food Aisle and devised my own plan between healthy eating (and not just the food pyramids guide, but back to nature whole foods) and doTERRA supplements. I even started adding aloe to my water to see if it will help heal my esophagus and intestines. Its not as nasty as I thought it would be, but that’s relative since I’m doing things with kale now. Kale. Its the wonder food that feels like you are eating thistle and makes you want to eat thistle for the taste. I tend to go at things full tilt, so I may possibly have gotten carried away. Possibly. The nice part of this is I rarely need to eat since I am drinking large amounts of things that resemble rotting alfalfa. Truth be told, some of them smell that way, too. I have no idea where this is going to go and I am really a guinea pig for the whole idea. But I figure at least this time, my Hope in a Bottle is something I feel excited about and I chose it. I was so excited, I didn’t take my naps and was up all day yesterday. Of course, since I feel I must tell the truth here, I am a mess today and I’m pretty sure I used all my spoons for the next two days in one afternoon. But still. I have hope. And I’m pretty sure its because I am taking control and not because of the bottles.”

What I want you to know about living with a mental illness and being arrested for it

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post was submitted bJolene.

Photo by: Volkan Olmez 

I am 33 years old and on disability for a mental diagnoses and up until 2015 I had never been discriminated against because of it. Being on a fixed income I chose to live with college students because it was cheaper that way. I shared a house with three other females and the landlord knew that I was on disability and wasn’t a college student myself before I signed the lease.

For the first month thing’s were okay, at that point I was the only one living in the house and the other girls and I had contact with each other through text messages. After the girls moved in, we had disagreements and the landlord started making rude comments about people with mental illnesses that really made me uncomfortable and I wanted to find some where else to live.

Another girl in the house continuously called the police on me claiming that I was crazy and she was scared I was going to kill her in her sleep. After the third time the police came to the house they informed me that if they came one more time, they were arresting me.

The day before labor day of 2015, I was getting ready to lay down when there was a hard knock at my bedroom door. The landlord was there and I put my shoes on and grabbed the lock I had to lock my door because I had a feeling I was going to get arrested and I was right.

I called my mom and asked her and my step father to come to the house because I didn’t want to be there. As I was turning to lock my door, all of a sudden my landlord grabbed me hard by my arms, so hard that I had bruises of her hand prints on both my arms the next day. As I tried to get away from her, she stumbled and fell down one step and then screamed that I tried to push her down the stairs. Later I found out that she was recording everything on her iPhone.

I walked down stairs just trying to get away from her and went to sit outside. Just as I expected, two police cars pulled in front of the house and the same officers that had previously been there told me to stand up and put my hands behind my back.

I knew this was bullshit but I did so anyway and they placed me in the back of one of the police cars, I knew my mom & step father were on their way so with tears running down my face and having no idea what I was being charged with I continued to look out the car window. While I was sitting in the back of the car, two more police cars showed up. The officer got in the police car and my phone was ringing constantly, I knew it was my mom calling.

We got to the station and I was booked and put in a room by myself, The officer told me at first that I would be out in a couple of hours but later came back and said I would have to go see the judge and had to stay until morning. He also informed me that I was being charged with assault and that the landlord also wanted an order of protection.

I sat in the jail cell crying in disbelief that I was really in a situation where I was assaulted and also arrested, I had spent 31 years of my life without a record and now I had one. I could no longer say no to the “have you ever been arrested?” question.

The next morning I went before the judge and was released OR, but also told that there was an order of protection in place so I could not return to where I was living. The thoughts going through my head at that point were: I had been assaulted, arrested and now I was homeless.

I was lucky in this sense as I stayed with my mom and step father for three days and quickly decided that I didn’t want to live in a roommate situation any longer. I went out and looked for another apartment and on the third day found one and I am still living in the same apartment.

I lost almost everything I owned and only got my clothes and a handful of other items out of the house.

I went to court two weeks after I was arrested and the judge dropped the charges 6 months after, the charges were officially dropped on March 29th, 2016.

The sad thing is that I had to go through this experience to realize that mental illness is still very much a stigma. There are people out there that truly believe that people who are diagnosed as such are monsters and that can’t be further from the truth.

People who know me, know that I am the sweetest person who is always helping others out and would take the shirt off my own back if someone needed it. I am not violent and would never throw someone down a flight of stairs as this women claimed.

I want people to know that this is still happening to people and also don’t believe everything you see on TV or in movies about people who suffer from a mental illness. We are just like you, who happen to suffer from a disease that we can not control.

This women was never charged with lying to the police as I believe she should have. I would never wish what I went through on anyone.