Stroke of Luck

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My dad had a stroke the first week of October. It was the best worst thing that ever happened to our family. Before the stroke, my father was an abusive, nasty alcoholic. He drank warm vodka every day, smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and berated my mother, my sister and me every day. He was just horrible to be around and my relationship with him was very strained (and becoming borderline nonexistent). I honestly only spoke to him or saw him because my parents were still married and I am very close with my mother, so some contact with him was unavoidable. I started distancing myself from him a long time ago and I had only physically seen him two times in the entire year before the stroke.

In the days and weeks immediately following the stroke, my sister and I made a huge effort to spend time with him in the hospital and subsequent nursing home. I think that although she and I had talked about something bad happening to him for a long time, when it actually happened it was a wakeup call for everyone. I always loved my father (and knew he loved me), but the alcoholism just destroyed our relationship and any semblance to my old dad that I knew. I saw that person emerge again once he was forced to not drink while getting medical help after the stroke.

My dad has been home now for a few months and has made a lot of healthy lifestyle changes. He even just joined a health club this week so he can swim to try to strengthen his arm! I am really proud of him for trying to be healthier, but also really worried that he could start drinking again any day. He just recently started smoking again (after quitting in October)- his doctor cleared him to drive and he went out and got a pack of cigarettes immediately. Regardless, I will always be grateful for having the chance to reconnect with my dad without him being a horrible, drunk beast. I know that a stroke is a terrible thing, but for my dad it was a serious wake up call that he seemed to really answer. I guess I am taking it day by day- if he is sober and being “normal”, then I have no problem talking to him (and replying to his long emails, which have decreased in number and are not mean like they used to be anymore!) If he starts to drink again, then I will just decide then whether or not to cut off the relationship again and keep him at arm’s length.

The good, the bad and the ugly

So, it has now been almost two months since my boyfriend moved in. The first two weeks were awful, then things seemed to settle down for a couple weeks and were good, but now they are back to being worse than ever. I actually think we maybe broke up last night. I am not sure how that works considering he lives at my house now. So the first two weeks of our cohabitation were bad, the second two were pretty good and now things are downright ugly.

I think it boils down to he does not like his job and he is really depressed. He is prone to depression anyway, but I have never seen the ripple effect like this. He basically acts like he can’t stand me and tells me everything is my fault, but then says he is depressed and I need to stop making it about me. His actions are directly affecting me!! One big thing in addition to our constant bickering is that there is literally no physical affection in our relationship. Forget doing “it”, he acts like I have a disease if I try to touch him at all. I feel so resentful towards him right now because I feel like he totally changed once he moved in. I really did try to be patient (at least I did once I realized just how stressed out he was after moving and changing jobs), but this is getting ridiculous and is causing so much anxiety for me. He is cranky and nasty and we don’t have any fun together anymore, let alone actually talk about anything important (or even just lighthearted conversations). I have dealt with situational depression before and went off all my medication in December and now I am a crying, hot mess.

I don’t know if I should give up and just tell him he needs to move out. I don’t know if his feelings towards me have changed, but at this point it doesn’t really matter because he acts like they have. How many times can I try to talk to him when he is just shutting me out? I know it hasn’t been long and the transition is way harder than I thought it would be, so does it just need more time?

**Disclaimer: I am obviously not perfect…I do things that cause arguments, too and I know I have become even more sensitive and defensive lately. But I know that I am not mean to him like he is to me. I really do want to make him happy and I know I have put in a lot more effort into our relationship over these past few weeks than he has.

ps- totally different topic, but my father started smoking again and I am pretty sure he is also drinking (backstory: alcoholic for 25 years, had stroke, forced to get clean, was for 5 months, got doctor’s clearance to drive and is a nasty jerk again). I feel like I can’t even talk to my boyfriend about this and I am having a hard time talking to my friends about my boyfriend situation- I feel like I am “that girl”…they were all so supportive during my divorce and now I am having very similar relationship problems again and it is very embarrassing.

I feel really alone.

Transitioning..

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So it has been three weeks since my boyfriend moved in…and the first two weeks were really, really hard. I was expecting it to be a bit of a transition and knew that he would have additional stress from beginning his new job, but I did not expect it to be so bad! We fought so much and he was pretty unbearable. I really tried to be supportive, but after a few days of constant tension and arguing, I became very stressed too, which negatively influenced my behavior. I think he was having trouble adjusting to living in my house and feeling like I was on top of him constantly and I was freaking out being afraid that I was repeating the living situation that I had with my ex-husband. Thank goodness that past week or so has been the complete opposite and now things have settled down and are so much better. I am so relieved because I really was starting to think that we made a horrible mistake moving in together. Luckily, I have my therapist on speed dial and made a rare emergency appointment. She helped me see things from his perspective and although she agreed that he didn’t have the right to be so nasty to me, she made me understand what he was feeling. He and I had a long talk (several of them, actually) and now things are back on track and we are enjoying having more time together. He actually acclimated really quickly to his new job and seems to really like it, which has made a huge difference in his attitude and behavior. I also am trying to be more conscientious about how I act about my house and him having space and feeling comfortable so we are both really trying and the results are noticeable.

My biggest fear is feeling trapped again. When I was married and living with my ex-husband, it seemed like I was never going to be able to get out of that situation. It took a long time to feel “free” again after my divorce and the couple of weeks that were so horrible with my new “roommate” (lol) brought back all of those feelings. I am not really opposed to marriage- my grandparents were married for 68 years!- but I feel like I could never go through that nightmare again and never want to feel trapped like that again. Although sometimes I think getting married again could be nice- and hopefully very different- I really believe the only way I can ever prevent getting into that position again (or getting divorced again) would be to never get married again. Living with my boyfriend reminds me of all the things I really liked about being married, but I don’t know if I could ever get over my fear and anxiety about it. It’s not like he is pressuring me, so it is not something I need to worry about right now, but I do still think about it. For now, I am able to enjoy being able to see my boyfriend every day and being able to go to sleep together every night (we were long distance for several years)…so I guess I will try to live in the moment!!

Long distance no longer!

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My boyfriend is moving in on Tuesday. In other words: I am going to be living with a man next week!!! It is a little bittersweet for me and I am feeling a lot of different emotions about it. Let me start with the good:

1. I have been living alone for over 5 years now. Even though I am (only?!) 35, I have become a little set in my ways. I think learning to compromise by living with someone again is a good thing for me.

2. Even though I am very independent and probably handier than most of my guy friends, there is something comforting about having a man around. My boyfriend is very helpful and will happily help me shovel or mow the lawn. As much as I am proud of myself for being a single homeowner all these years, I will happily hand over the shovel!! Also, there are still nights where I wake up because I hear a sound or get scared that someone is breaking in. Even though I have an alarm and I know I am safe, there is something very reassuring about having a strong guy around to protect me :)

3. My bf and I have been in a long distance relationship for several years and I always feel like I am missing out on things when I am by him for the weekend (we are 2 hours apart and alternate weekends)- I also miss my house and my cats when I am away. My sister has been wonderful and takes care of things while I am gone, but I’m glad to relieve her of that duty :) It is nice to think that he and I will be able to spend more time together with friends and family.

4. I love my boyfriend and he is a really great guy. He is willingly leaving his job and life where he lives just to come and be with me and I appreciate that sacrifice. We have been through a lot together and I am very grateful to have him. For the past couple of years, we have gotten more serious in our relationship, yet our future together has seemed a little in limbo because of being separated most of the time.

Okay, so the “not so good”:

1. I really like living alone. I have not always liked my living situation or felt comfortable where I was living. I lived with my alcoholic father all throughout my teen years, then lived in a college dorm for four years, then lived with my best friend for several years (which was great, but sometimes it affected our friendship) and then with my husband while I was married (which eventually turned into a horrible living situation). These years on my own have been wonderful. At times I get lonely, but my house is calm and quiet.

2. I am worried about my boyfriend’s drinking. His behavior does not change much when he drinks, but what bothers me more is actually seeing him drink a lot. Because we are apart during the week, I don’t exactly know how much he drinks during the week. As you read above, my dad is an alcoholic, so I am completely aware of the signs. It is something my boyfriend and I talk about a lot and are very honest with each other about. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt, but I also don’t want to ignore red flags.

3. I own my house and it has been a source of pride for me, financially and emotionally. I am a little territorial and I want to make sure he feels like this is his home, too. But I worry about what will happen down the road, when he gets tired of just giving me money every month to live here, but isn’t on the mortgage. I am really attached to my house and after going through my divorce, I want to protect myself if things do not work out with my boyfriend down the road.

Lots going on in my head, but overall I am just really excited for us to be together!! I think he understands a lot of my fears and I am sure he is coming here with his own set of concerns. I know it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it on Sunday nights when instead of packing up his stuff in his truck to go back to his apartment 120 miles away, he is still here!

Answer: My dad is great!!!

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Question: What is a response you would NEVER expect to give when your friend asks how your day with your family was…

It’s just so weird. I still can’t wrap my head around it. My dad is sober. MY dad…sober.

Today, while my mom was at work, my sister and I went to visit my dad. Usually this is something we dread, but since he hasn’t been drinking, he isn’t being nasty or harassing us like he used to. I actually even had a pretty real conversation with him today that went like this:

Dad: “do you know that mom JUST told me last week that I went through withdrawal in the hospital” (for those who don’t know, my dad had a stroke in October and was in the hospital for a week with horrible withdrawal symptoms)

Me: “she just now told you that?”

My sister: “dad, you don’t remember ANY of it? It was really, really bad. I thought you were going to die”

Dad: “no, I couldn’t believe it when mom told me”

Me: “dad, you were freaking out and looked HORRIBLE. The doctors wouldn’t even let us come on the day that it was the worst, only mommy went”

This is where the conversation really got unbelievable…wait for it…

Dad: “I thought mom would be nicer to me now that I’m not drinking and smoking”

Me: “dad, can I tell you something without you getting mad??? When you were drinking, you were not the nicest person to mom or to us (um, understatement of the century!) You can’t just expect mom to be all lovey-dovey because she probably still is really angry with you at how you have treated her over the years”

Dad: quiet for a minute “yeah”

Wow. I mean, there have been moments where my dad has been relatively sober where I have been able to talk to him, but this is just so different. Everything is just so different. I think my mom and my sister and I are afraid to really trust his sobriety because he can’t drive yet. He might not ever be well enough to drive, but if he does get to the point where he can, that is where the real test of his sobriety will happen.

But, I have decided that I am just going to enjoy these moments I have with my dad while he is sober and stop thinking so much about what might happen. I mean, I can’t control it anyway! But it was nice to have an afternoon where we felt like a “normal family”, kind of like when I was a kid. In fact, while my sister was in another room doing something, my dad and I sat down with a clock that he built many years ago that I am going to inherit at some point (I was hoping today lol) and he showed me how he carved the inlay and taught me how to work the winding key and pendulum. It brought me back to when I was a little girl, back before he really became an alcoholic, when he would bring me down to his shop and teach me how to use his compressor or I would watch him cut wood on his table saw. It showed me that even though I know I can’t erase the bad memories from the past two decades, that there might still be time to make new, good memories with my dad.

Grandparents = LOVE

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My grandmother passed away yesterday. Obviously losing her is upsetting, but beyond that I am so sad about the fact that my last surviving grandparent is gone. My grandpa (her husband) died in 1990 when I was 12 and my Mama and Papa (my mom’s parents) passed away within 40 days of each other in 2009. For my whole life, if you asked me to define the “roles” I had, granddaughter was one of the most important. I have so many wonderful and special memories of all of my grandparents. They all loved me, supported me and each played an important part in my childhood.

My grandmother’s passing also brings up other darker feelings, though. Over the past 10 years or so, she definitely became less involved with our side of the family, due to my dad’s alcoholism. Even though my dad was her son, I think my grandmother was very disappointed in him and it must have been very hard for her to see how he acted when he was drunk. My paternal grandfather was an alcoholic and I am sure it broke my grandmother’s heart that my father turned out like him. She became very close with my Uncle’s family…and I don’t really blame her. Therefore, over the years, she spent a lot more time with my cousins (who are also younger than my sister and me). Incidentally, my sister and I became much, much closer with my maternal grandparents. I was so devastated when I lost them (I was also going through my divorce at the same exact time which didn’t help), so there is a little guilt that I didn’t have the same reaction to losing my grandma yesterday. Although I am so sad she passed, she was not a regular, constant part of my adult life like my Mama was. My therapist today told me this was totally normal and that people have different relationships with various relatives in their family (the copay was worth it today!)

Regardless, I am so blessed to have had my grandparents for as long as I did. I have friends who never even knew their grandparents, so I know how fortunate I am to have all the wonderful memories of them that I do!!

My Liebster Award Post

liebsterblogawardThank you to http://beccajoyce.com (Becca Joyce) for nominating me for the Liebster Award!! I am so excited and flattered- this made my night!

The rules are:
*that the bloggers that have been nominated must link back to the person that nominated them

*nominees must answer the eleven questions given to them by the person who nominated them

*those nominated must choose eleven of their fave bloggers that have less than 200 followers to answer their own set of questions

*when you are nominated you cannot nominate the person that nominated you

*after nominating your faves you need to drop them a comment telling them that you nominated them

Here are my Nominees:
1. http://takingovermybrain.wordpress.com
2. http://thesoberistblog.wordpress.com
3. http://weareone-ruth.blogspot.com
4. http://cinnamonkittens.wordpress.com
5. http://sarahberardi.com
6. http://crazyworldofnikki.wordpress.com
7. http://beneficiation.wordpress.com
8. http://wifeofalchie.wordpress.com
9. http://powerlessnolonger.com
10. http://theacetheist.wordpress.com
11. http://growinguppippi.wordpress.com

Here are the questions Becca Joyce asked me to answer:
1. Where do you tend to do most of your writing?
Actually just in my family room- I know that is kind of boring, but it is comfy and usually pretty quiet. And it is where my cats always are :)

2. If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be?
Anne Frank. I am obsessed with her story and life! I actually collect “The Diary of Anne Frank” from other countries and in foreign languages- I have like 35 of them- from Australia, Estonia, Italy, Holland, Spain, etc., etc.

3. What’s the song you keep listening to the most currently?
I have been getting more into country music and I really like “Mine Would Be You” by Blake Shelton

4. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Mexican food in Ireland. I know that’s not necessarily a “weird” food, but it was strange to get tacos my first night in Galway when I was expecting fish and chips.

5. If you could relive any age, which would it be?
Nineteen. It was a great year and a very hard year. It was the year that kicked off by me going to court to deal with assault charges against my dad (on my actual birthday)…but it was also the year I became much stronger and much more independent.

6. What book are you reading at the moment?
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (it’s very good!)

7. In your opinion, do aliens exist?
Um, no! (I hope not lol)

8. In your opinion, do ghosts exist?
I’m not sure, but I am terrified of them and have made all my friends and family promise to never come back to visit me after they die.

9. What’s your ‘go to’ comfort food?
Macaroni and Cheese…yum!

10. Who is your embarrassing celebrity crush? (C’mon, we’ve all got one.)
My hot celebrity crush is Mark Wahlberg. My embarrassing celebrity crush is Al Gore :)

11. Crossword or Sudoku?
Neither- I can never finish either one!!!

Here are the questions for my nominees:
1. Where do you want to live when you retire?
2. What is your favorite word?
3. Do you believe in heaven?
4. Dogs or cats?
5. Do you know why your parents’ selected your name?
6. What is your all time favorite meal?
7. Did you like high school? Why or why not?
8. What is your prized possession?
9. Do you vote?
10. What is always in your pocket/wallet/purse?
11. What is the best gift you have ever given to someone?

Check out the blogs and the nominated bloggers’ answers.

Thanks again, Becca Joyce!