a difficult choice

heron in flight II

As I write this, Yo Yo Ma’s recording of Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello plays from the clock/CD/radio. I’m enjoying some solitude, curled up comfortably with my notebook resting on my knees, leaning against pillows, my left hand wrapped around a warm cup of chai rooibos, the tip of my index finger keeping the spoon from sliding around when I take a sip. Pages of notes from the past several days lay on the comforter by my feet and I’m unsure how to create a cohesive, coherent narrative from them as I sit here spilling ink in an attempt to say thank you and a sort of farewell, one that’s for at least a little while.

I’ll begin with the thank you.

You, this WordPress community of ours, have been a lifeline for me during the past three years. In December of 2011, following the loss of a very dear friend, following the discovery that my husband has ADD and other ongoing difficulties, I was in a dark place. We made a looked-forward-to trip down to Santa Barbara to go to the zoo, do some Christmas shopping at the La Cumbre Plaza (it’s always decked out wonderfully for the season), dinner at the Natural Café, then a stop at Lazy Acres to pick up café mochas and dessert to take with us and enjoy at Butterfly Beach, watch the sunset. But just talking with the sales staff at J.Jill, asking the lady behind the perfume counter at Macy’s a few questions, and having an otherwise pleasant conversation with our favourite barista at Lazy Acres — a young fellow from the U.K. with beautiful manners and an ear candy voice/accent — left me shaking, not violently, but uncontrollably and noticeably.

ghastly days

I got home that night feeling exhausted and completely foolish. I sat on the sofa after the others had gone to bed and said to myself, “This is RIDICULOUS!”

At that moment, I made a commitment to find my way back to who I am, gather up my shattered confidence, redeem the lost years of personal neglect, codependency.

I began blogging more regularly. I was publishing to Facebook and had a couple followers besides my dad and my husband. One was/is my lovely childhood friend, Janet, who lived down the street from me in Calgary.

After a while, I put an avatar together, started officially following a few blogs, like-ing some posts, generally making my presence known. It took about four months, but in April (2012) I mustered up the courage to leave a comment on someone’s post. I was completely blown away the next day to find that not only had they followed me back, but had included my most recent post in theirs that morning. The impact of that still resonates. At the time, and still true with many, other bloggers had a larger-than-life presence to me.

In those days it would take me hours to answer comments — not because of waiting, but because of time thinking about what to say, writing. I’d type my replies in text edit first, listen to “Victoria” speak them back to me. I was so nervous, but determined to move forward, communicate, connect. Sometimes, some days, I still go into text edit to draft comments, replies, play with ideas, hear how they sound before posting, but mostly I feel fairly comfortable now doing it “on the fly.”

So, in good part because of you, all your follows, likes, encouragement, support, and you-go-girls, I’m standing on my own two feet as I haven’t since I first left Canada to go to college.

The words “thank you” don’t seem to come close enough to the gratitude I feel. En français, it comes at least a little closer . . .

Merçi beaucoup, mes amis. Vous êtes trés spécial.

And now for the difficult bit, the farewell (for now). I’ll share the two parts to that story and then show how they fit together.

Part One:

During that same time, as I’ve been growing stronger emotionally, my health has become obviously less-so, as I’ve written about before. Living with a spouse with undiagnosed ADD, anxiety/depression disorder (along with a side dish containing some other challenges), essentially wired for chaos, can be challenging at best, potentially devastating. I’ve needed to take a very careful look at how I handle stress, learn better, healthier ways of dealing with the day-to-day, how to care for myself, how to give support.

Having one person with ADD in a family poses its share of difficulties, but for us, my husband’s not the only one. My son’s behaviour/emotional state is becoming more and more reason for concern. Looking back, he began showing signs of anxiety/depression when he was quite small. And, more recently, his also having ADD seems more and more likely.

He’s one of the most kind-hearted, gentle-spirited souls I’ve ever had the honour of knowing. I had him complete the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. Results showed that he’s an INFJ, which makes this all just that much more troubling.

Classic ADD behaviours have been increasing, intensifying — volatility, oppositional, verbally aggressive, and sometimes physically aggressive. When he was small, he’d throw things at me when he was mad, try to bonk me as he went past. It stung, but more emotionally than physically.

Within the last couple of years, the physical aggressiveness has increased, mostly taking the form of threats, but there have been a few times when he’s acted on the impulse. Once was during the summer while we were in Calgary. I had told him he couldn’t do something he was set on and he got mad, slammed the storm door against my shoulder/back as I was locking the front door. It left bruises and I was sore from it for several days.

I’ve spent a lot of time playing over the various situations, searching for any patterns, any common triggers, circumstances that I might be able to avoid, what changes in approach might be helpful to keep from provoking unnecessary confrontations. He himself has expressed concern, worrying what he might do.

Most of the time he’s fairly flexible — if not exactly cooperative. I give him time to shift his attention by letting him know at least 10 minutes before he’s supposed to stop watching videos/playing computer games/reading that it’s getting close to time to do some other activity (school studies, chores, going out). Generally that works well.

Being said “no” to is a challenge for any child, but for one with ADD, it can quickly accelerate into a major conflict. Even handling it carefully as a parent offers no guarantees.

Thankfully, I’m learning ways to more effectively stop a conflict before it gets very far. But unfortunately, I’m not walking perfection. I mess up all too often. Have to keep my apologies handy. Help both of us deal with the results.

Case in point, the evening before my last post. We had a stand-off. I was able to eventually diffuse the tension by answering his threat to slap me by responding with non-resistance, standing in front of him, looking him in the eye and saying as calmly as I could, “Go ahead. See if it makes you feel better.” I wasn’t going to protect myself or retaliate. Thankfully, it was effective. He turned away, still muttering, but after a little while, he was able to settle, think more clearly. We could talk over what happened, exchange apologies, hugs.

Part Two:

The week before my last post, I got a call from my brother on Tuesday evening, but I was out, so he had to leave a message. I didn’t see the message until it was too late on Wednesday to call him back. It was something about my mom being in the hospital, but the connection was poor so I couldn’t quite understand what had happened. When I phoned him on Thursday, he told me that Mom had been taken to the ER, had undergone cognitive tests and was under lock-down, wearing a bracelet on her ankle to alert staff if she tried to leave the ward. She had been moved to a transitional care area and they were awaiting the results of the tests to determine what kind of care facility she’d need. He told me that the staff at the assisted living complex had found her, on more than one occasion, outside (hadn’t signed out at the desk as per house rules), in -30° C weather, with just a hoodie on for a jacket. A scary choice made by a woman who was once the Queen of Layers, Mrs. Nanook. Thankfully, she didn’t get sick or have something worse happen. All in all, her decline is not exactly unexpected, but it came much sooner than I imagined.

How the two parts fit together:

The emotional aftermath of both those events, along with a couple of other personal situations (one being that during the past two months, my health issue concerning the tumours has taken a turn towards the possibly more serious), made it clear to me that I needed to step out at least temporarily from this “virtual” world of ours and give my attention fully to my “real” world.

I’d planned to schedule some appointments for exams/treatments at an alternative medicine center near Minneapolis, MN, during March, but since I was going to be travelling on my own with my son, I decided it would be better to address family issues first. Plus, remembering it was Minnesota, March would probably mean snow. I’d be the one driving us from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie, to and from the hotel, so I’ve postponed that trip until sometime in May.

The past week has been largely spent arranging funding for, and making appointments for my son and I to both have S.P.E.C.T. scans done at the Amen Clinic in Costa Mesa. For him, because of the suspected ADD, etc. For me, because with my family history of bipolar disorder as well as ADD, I want to know if there’s anything I need to be aware of, personally address. My husband’s records are still in their files from his scans done in Nov 2011, so we’ll be able to meet with a psychologist who can compare all of our test results and give us some counseling, help us to understand our family dynamics better, to gain some much needed insight into how we can support ourselves, each other.

So, as I wrote earlier, I’ve decided to step away from this community for a while, concentrate my energies on the needs of my family, get a better handle on my own health. And, as well, I need to spend a good amount of time each day building my skills as a drummer and as a photographer so I’ll be ready to go professional with both those loves sometime soon.

I’ve set some criteria for myself that I have to meet before I’m allowed to resume actively posting/visiting on WordPress. It’s been a difficult choice. I’m not sure how long I’ll be away, but I do know one thing — I’ll be missing you.

From now until next we meet, may you have a million moments of joy.

With love,
Sandy

this steampunk thing

Steampunk Revolution | Abney Park

If you’re unfamiliar with steampunk, or cosplay, this video is a fun introduction. And if you like this Abney Park song, check out their Airship Pirates, live concert in Moscow (2014).

One of the scenes with the illusionist’s performance (with the drill) makes me feel a little weird, but otherwise love this! The first part (3:21 min) is the song. The rest of it is a listing of credits — band members and the contributors who sent photos/video clips.

Out with the new,
In with the old . . .