Vacation: Good Afternoon

The bookstore was located in a cabin just on the edge of a lovely little creek. Each space was full of shelves and specially selected literature for its genre. The soundtrack of “Le Miserables” was playing and between my husband and I, ten books were purchased in the lovely place and as we walked out amidst the trees and bustle of the road, we felt like we had accomplished our duty to the community having played patron to the local bookstore.

The galleries up the road were beautiful. One displayed a textile exhibit of avant-garde abstracted pieces. Another had unique tiles and ceramic art. Another was beautifully handcrafted furniture and lamps, made in a modernized mission style. There were expensively handcrafted jewelry stores and my favorite, besides the bookstore, a tea tasting room and shop, where I gladly spent over $50 dollars on several black and herbal teas. All these things appealed to my artistic eye and lifestyle, but alas, while beautiful, were expensive.

When we arrived back home, my mother and I decided to take a nap in the king size bed before dinner. Speaking dreamily of buying a home in the area if we could as we drifted off to sleep. Though realistically we knew that my aunt had spent a fortune having purchased the two cottages she now owned in the community. There wasn’t a home less than $500,000 in the area. I can’t even imagine the taxes on these waterside properties. But still, we could drift off to sleep and dream of that kind of wealth and be thankful that we have family willing to share their spaces with us.

While we slept my brothers jumped into the freezing cold bay in nothing but swim shorts. My mother and I swallow to them yelling in painfully frozen confusion and jumping into hot showers. We laughed at their antics and curled up even tighter under the warm covers. My husband in his tall lanky glory, draped himself over me adding even more warmth to my already warm state, and I was glad to know my brothers had not pulled him into their antics while I had slept. I snuggled sandwiched between him and my mother, warmly nested and content.

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Family

Yes, for some, “home” is the nicest word there is. To Laura Ingalls Wilder it was. That little house out on the prairie was an ideal location, not just for it’s magnificent scenery but for the loving and supportive family she had with her.

For others, like myself, home can be a daunting word. Not because family doesn’t love and support you, but because they also know how to push your buttons in all the worst ways.

Next weekend my family will be meeting for a vacation together in MI. While I’m excited to get away from work, I’m a little concerned to spend time with my family. My brothers often ignore me, my parents often affirm my accomplishments half heartedly because they misunderstand how big of a deal it is for me. My husband doesn’t seem to know what to do when we go on vacations, so he spends most of the time on his phone.

I feel very lonely with my family. At home or at home away from home.

We’ll be spending time at a lake house my aunt recently purchased. None of us have been there before, so we don’t know what to expect. We know it has enough room for all of us, and my aunt just recently procured another house up the street from it, incase we feel the other house feels too small (oh to be that wealthy, that we can just buy another house to put family in). With it being the peak of the fall season and much farther North than I have been, I’m expecting there to be beautiful crisp days with plenty of sweater weather. At least I’m hoping. I’m planing on taking a lot of walks and sitting on the enormous wrap around porch in comfy sweaters and with big mugs of hot beverages. I’m planning on my husband and I tagging along into town for the shops and boutiques. I also plan on reading a bit if I can manage it.

Of course, I’m sure there is plenty I’m not planning on, but I’m trying not to think about that too much.

Until After the Wedding

Every word she spoke increased my sorrow, and made me realize just how bad my parents relationship had become. Not that I didn’t suspect it at some point to happen. When I was a teenager I noticed that my parents didn’t have much of a relationship, and despite my mothers efforts, my father was clueless and unfortunately more selfish than he would ever realize in his emotional ignorance.

My sorrow deepened even more as I recalled all the times I confided in my mother about concerns I had in my own marriage…and she responded with “You definitely married someone like your father.” No less, all the times she told me “You’re just like your father.”

Thank you mom. You’re so supportive.

The sense of hopelessness that it left in me made me consider that my marriage may end up looking like hers one day. Where my husband feels more like a roommate and less like a husband. Unfortunately hints of that have already started in my relationship, and to divulge my feelings to my husband and get an honest response out of him….I had to get him buzzed so we could talk about it without anyone saving face or telling lies a few nights ago last week.

The hardest part of being in my mothers situation is knowing that she was worth more long before my father was married to her. She was a teacher, with a good savings, paid well in her district, and a solid retirement plan. When my father got hold of the finances after they were married, he lost my mothers retirement and asked her not to go back to work until after we kids were out of the house. A closeted sexist and an unfortunate product of the era of his parents. He wasn’t counting on pregnancy and time to increase my mother’s health problems, and eventually he seemed to set himself up well for retirement and with life insurance policies on both he and my mother, but unfortunately no retirement plan for my mother, and no financial security either. Now she is unable to go back to work, and her health costs are taking them both for all they’re worth…which oddly enough gives me a sense of comfort know my fathers poor decision making has not come without consequences to his actions. It’s just unfortunate that my mother has to lose her peace of mind and security in her marriage over his lacking.

I had been wise in asking my husband to keep our finances separate. A method that many family and friends had given me flack for. Saying that I was not being wise or truthful to my husband about our finances and that it wasn’t right of me as a wife to request it or withhold from my household. Still, my husband was kind enough to agree to it. We each put what we can into our joint account, and we each do what we can to keep our own savings and checking accounts in line. If I’m broke, it is only my fault and no one else’s. No one can financially abuse me. I can choose what I want to invest in or not.

Still, financial abuse is not he only concern my parents relationship has caused me to be afraid of. My father, will sell nothing of his own, but often suggest selling things of my mothers to make ends meet. He will often be distant or removed emotionally and not have any kind of romantic attachment to my mother when he doesn’t feel like it. His moods swing and she falls victim to his coldness, not that he cheats or physically hurts her…but he neglects her…something I have noticed ever since I was old enough to become observant. All attributes I can see great potential of in my own relationship. Which makes me increasingly afraid.

Still I fight so hard to remind myself that my husband is not my father. He tried to ask me how I’m doing. He tries to take care of me. Even if he’s feeling distant he never pushes me away if I attempt to emotionally approach him. He may struggle with words, but he admits that. He asks for affirmation. He asks for my respect when he feels he is not getting it. He never makes unreasonable demands.

Still, we are young both in age and marriage…and so much has yet to happen.

Hospitals

I never really enjoy going around them, even if it’s for minor checkups. There’s just too many things wrong with them. Waiting room seating is uncomfortable. The furniture and floors everywhere are ugly. The television programs are really boring. The smell. The atmosphere. Everything about them seems to be uncomfortable.

The people are usually pretty friendly, as well as the coffee, which is not terrible as some might tell you…at least at our hospital. Because so many people rely on that coffee for so many things.

This time around it’s not an appointment for myself that I’m sitting in a hospital for. My mom needed someone to drive her. She’s getting an MRI for what she thinks might be another bulging disc in her neck, but of course you never know unless you get heavily sedated and shoved in a tube. She hates that part. I’ve never had an MRI before but I can’t imagine they’re very comfortable. Especially if you’re as claustrophobic as my mother is.

Recently a coworker of mine had their father-in-law pass away in this hospital. Which makes being here a little eerie. While I know hospitals that are associated with life and wellness, there is always that little shadowed part of the hospital for people who will not be getting better, and probably will not leave…and being so close to my late sisters birthday and the anniversary of her death, as well as the death of said coworker loved one…that shadow feels like it whispers a little louder than usual.

My coworkers father-in-law was not an old man. He’s younger than my own mother and about the same age as my father. Which puts life a little more in perspective and gives me somber and realistic realizations of the kind of deterioration I can expect for them in the years to come. Time that is flying so quickly it seems.

Sobering thoughts.

Memorial Day Weekend

Milwaukee is not an area I’m very familiar with, and since the accident I was not very willing to drive on the interstate to get there. Still, we had made plans. Plans to visit our friends who had just bought a house and desperately wanted us to come see it since we had gone for so long without being able to see them all winter because of bad weather. I told my husband I didn’t want to drive. I always drove and after the accident I wasn’t ready. He said he would as long as we found a route that would get us there that didn’t involve the interstate he would do it.

We found a route but it was adding nearly an hour and a half to our trip. I pleaded with him since the weather was nice and there was ardor traffic that the interstate wasn’t a bad ride, that only if he tried it it wouldn’t be that bad. It really wasn’t. I told him I’d even drive it he felt like he couldn’t because I was so certain that the route the gps was taking us was just over the top too far.

“I’ll get on the interstate.”

So he did, and I was so proud of him.

The hard part for me was trying to figure out how to encourage him, without inflating his ego. Driving on the interstate is something very normal. It really doesn’t feel like something a person ought to be praised for. Yet, I knew it would be something he ought to be praised for to encourage him to do it again. I talked to him about it a bit.

“Baby, I’m really proud of you and want to encourage you to drive more on the interstate, but I also don’t want you to think that driving on the interstate is a big deal in general. It’s actually a pretty normal thing that people do and fairly frequently. I don’t want you to think you’re some kind of hero for doing it.”

I worded it poorly I know I did. It I didn’t know how else to say it. He didn’t seem completely deflated by the statement, but I could tell I had put him off a bit. I ended up driving us home after our overnight with friends, and what a drive home it had been.

Of course, once again we hit some freak rain, and it was just as hard as the day we had our accident. I breathed deeply and pushed through though. Dropping my speed and making everyone go around me. Then suddenly, the semi in front of us hydroplaned into the ditch, which of course got me shaking and nearly in tears, but I pushed through going ten under the speed limit until the rain subsided. My husband offered to drive after that, but I was white knuckling the wheel so hard that I just told him I’d take us the rest of the way home. Just to prove to myself that I could.

The situation made me swallow my words to my husband earlier. Maybe a person is a hero for driving on the interstate? Maybe people don’t do it all the time? It’s terrifying. The speeds are high. The weather can be treacherous. The drivers can be more so. The whole circumstance not only made me realize how hard it can be, but just how much I had been affected from the accident and how much I needed to have that moment in the rain to prove to myself that I could do it again. Just like my husband did when driving us to our friends house.

I had belittled his bravery as well as my own, and done a disservice to both our psyches. Needless to say, we are healing as much as we can considering how near to us the accident is, having only been a couple weeks ago.

An Ideal Accident III

The more I reflect on the accident and the more my husband and I talk about it, the more we find to be thankful for.

This is probably really odd to say, but it’s too true to ignore and we can only attribute it to small miracles and God’s protection.

One of the first miracles was that we were not hurt. Every time I think about the accident I consider all the things that could have gone wrong and didn’t. No gas leaks. No broken glass. No air bags went off to cause us further injury. We made it out alright all things considered. Minor bumps no some whiplash that is being dealt with and healing nicely.

Another miracle was having the accident just over the border from a no-fault state. Had we been a couple miles behind where the accident occurred we probably would have been slammed with a ticket or twelve (especially for being an out-of-state plate). Not to mention we were close enough to family that we could get off the road and moving forward to home right away without either of us having to drive in our shaken state since my aunt drove us to meet my dad half way at a job site he just happened to have near that area.

With how busy that road was….we never hit anyone else. That never ceases to amaze me when I saw how many people were around me as I was losing control trying to hold my lane. Because when we stopped spinning it was like all the traffic was gone suddenly. The road was clear for a while as we got out and assessed the damage. That makes no sense outside of supernatural to me because there were lines and lines of cars around me and behind me and then suddenly none. Even as we assessed the damage of our car in the rain, there were suddenly few to no cars so we could be safe for a little while.

The insurance has been easy. Words I never thought I’d ever say. Mostly because of no other vehicles being involved. In two weeks we have money in our hands to get the vehicle we need with more coming once it has been purchased. We have no expenses being charged to us because the deductible was met. We got no tickets because the accident was an “act of God.”

I’m not sure if the accident was an act of God, but everything else certainly was. Certainly the circumstances surrounding it were. The people who came into our situation to help us out, the “coincidences” and the timing were all too perfect to be accidental. My husband and I have found a great deal of growth in this struggle, and it has been a blessing, even while difficult. I’m learning to be more giving when organizing how each of us will get to and from work. My husband is learning to adapt, communicate, and make hard decisions…all things he has struggled with in the past. I’m learning to set limitations for myself, which have been good, and hard for me because of the pain in my neck and back. I’m usually all go, and this has made me slow down as having only one vehicle has done as well.

Another miracle has been how my husband and I have been able to have consistent work schedules that are so similar and jobs so close to one another, that we have had no issues with having only one vehicle. Yes, there is a bit less freedom in it, but it has been good for us to learn how to plan better and organize our days more to get us to the places we needed or wanted to be. It also makes us spend way more time together and we’ve been growing our communication because of it.

In all, things have been okay, now we face finding a car for my husband before winter, which while a while away, really isn’t as far off as it seems. I hope that goes as smoothly as everything else has.

Ideal Accident II

I know not a lot of people seem to believe in God given moments of strength anymore. Yet, even while I didn’t expect it, it was certainly made clear to me.

It’s amazing how in all His power He shows Himself in whispers. How clearly we see them after He has been so soft and subtle. How foolish I often feel that He was holding me in His hands and I never knew.

Yet, how many does He hold and they refuse to see.

Since the car accident, I have taken to heart a great deal of thankfulness and humility in a very short amount of time. Mainly because, it has come to my attention, that I did not once have a panic attack during our trip about driving. Even during and after the accident.

This is only a complete miracle. Considering that prior to the accident I had so many concerns about driving such long distances. Yet, in the moment of crisis, I was not panicked to dysfunction, but rather I was able to act in clarity and with sober (albeit shaken) emotions.

Upon this realization I thanked God feverishly over that. Because there is nothing within me that indicates that I should have been able to do so. Even my husband, whom I love and is usually the level headed one, was brought to an unreal place of panic that I had to coach him through after he got off the phone with the police. Even then I was so proud of him for holding it together while he called the cops.

Still, Im certain so little of that was in our own strength. It was clearly a God moment for me, and I continue to be shameless about telling myself and others that it was.

Not only that though. The fact that engineers were created to give us safe cars is a miracle. The fact that police officers put themselves in such a place of danger to help people like us on dangerous interstates is a miracle. The same for tow trucks who maneuver heavy machinery to keep the highways safe for others is a miracle too.

In light of darker times, seeing people help other people can also seem like a miracle.

Ideal Accident

People always say “It happened so fast,” and you nod in agreement usually because you can, to a degree, understand how an accident can only take a few seconds to happen, but unless you have been in an accident, you really don’t know how quickly “so fast” happens.

Today I learned the hard way.

We hydroplaned on the interstate and ran into the median. I knew the moment I tapped my break to decelerate from my cruise control as I felt my car fishtail that it had been a mistake to even tap the break at all. Neither of us was hurt. Both of us were shook up and knew we were not emotionally fit to drive.

The cop was really friendly. He issued no ticket since he had also been caught in the downpour prior and nearly lost control himself. Low visibility then too. Traffic didn’t slow. It didn’t even slow when we hit the wall, but then again we hit no one and thus no one felt obligated to stop. He kept saying how it was good that we were both buckled and that I did all I did to stay out of the rest of traffic, however ungraceful it felt.

My aunt drove us half way home, my dad met us at a park-n-ride and took us the rest of the way. We loaded, unloaded, and reloaded vehicles. I spent at least an hour on the phone with the insurance agent as we sat in a BK parking lot. In all honesty I told the insurance gal that if I had to have my first accident this was an ideal accident to have happen. It was near family. It was just us. I did all I could to stay in my lane and hit no one else. It could not have gone better as far as accidents were concerned. Still the sinking feeling of watching our own bumper get ripped off and the sparks flying as we scrapped helplessly to a halt against the concrete didn’t make the accident seem so ideal.

I wondered what would have happened if we had left a little later in the morning? If we had went to the in-laws first before we got on the road? Would conditions have been improved? Would it have mattered? Then, to top it all off, I totaled my husbands car and induced quite a panic attack in him. I kept finding myself asking if he was mad at me for breaking his car. He said he was mad that he didn’t have a car, but not mad that I had an accident. It wasn’t my fault. He was just glad we were alive despite his attachment to his little car, which was old and probably was nearing the end of its long life anyway.

A little whiplash had settled into my neck, so I took an epsom salt bath and some Tylenol after I had finished all my phone calls to the family. My husband joined me in the tub a little while later and held me close as I thanked God silently for the safety we were granted in our accident. We stayed there until the water cooled before snuggling our aching bodies in bed together and breathing in unison as the cats cuddled near our feet. We still had my car. We were alive and home. It was enough.

The Vacation That Wasn’t

When one goes on vacation in the area that family lives, one really isn’t on vacation. I have noticed this since becoming an adult, and it was further reinforced when I got married. We come to MI to relax, and we end up leaving way more tired than we came.

Were it my choice, and had I the funds to stay in the area without and family knowing, I would simply not notify anyone that I was around, and take time to myself to recover from the busy hustle and bustle of my own daily life, unfortunately, my husband is not that way. He would rather let everyone know we are around, and then let all others instigate our plans, by making them for us…because as I’ve said before, he is not a master of planning.

While well meaning, my family is not exactly a relaxing group of people to be around. They are intense, opinionated, loud, and not always the wisest. Still, they’re well meaning. They just think everyone should be happy. An opinion I have mentioned in previous posts, that I do not hold. I don’t think life is about being happy. I believe it is about doing the right thing, even when it is not in our nature to do so and can mean personal unhappiness. So I often just smile and tell them that everything is wonderful. Because that is easier than arguing with them about learning to ride the waves of that which we do not enjoy or find happiness in.

Coming to visit the family is very much a chore, but one that is an act of love I try to put efforts into all the same. I want to have a relationship with my family, even if it is a shallow one (because my family struggles with depth) and I want them to know that I am willing and glad to love them to the extent they’ll let me. However, this takes great effort from me, because the emotional toll of giving them my time when it often feels a bit wasteful, is difficult. I’m not good at small talk. I’m not good at talking about myself verbally. I’m not good at being around groups of people for very long amounts of time. So spending time with my family exhausts me. Which makes vacations to visit them, no vacation at all.

My husband, of course, is completely in his element on these occasions, so much of the time he drags me around to the homes of friends and family at his own pace, and often I have to tell him to leave me be for a bit and go visit people without me, simply because I cannot people anymore. Only yesterday I had driven two hours from where we were staying to visit my brother and sister-in-law because we had not yet seen their new house up north. It’s a lovely place, but of course, after having driven two hours back home, my husband wants to go spend time with his own grandmother, by this point I’ve spent a total of 9 hours driving in two days time and seen not only both brother and his wife and my aunts (whom we are staying with), but also my in-laws, a couple friends, and my grand parents. In two days. That’s just too much for me. So I sent him off to visit his grandmother on his own, because I just couldn’t make it happen. I was too exhausted.

This afternoon we have a lunch at my grandparents house. Both my aunts, my in-laws, and us will be there. After that we may go spend time with my sister-in-law to watch movies, or I’ll just send my husband and hope she understands that is have spent far too much time with people to have energy for that sort of thing. I just need to take a long nap or something.

Panic Attacks and Long Drives

I was never this way before. I didn’t start having panic attacks until I was in college. Ever since then I feel like I’ve had them regularly for a few years. Medications don’t seem to help. In fact they make me lose my appetite with the knot it puts in my stomach. Then the shaky feeling that feels like a low blood sugar. Which as a diabetic can be super distracting when I constantly feel like I’m dying.

Last night was no exception. When I was thinking about having to drive through Milwaukee and Chicago to visit family in Michigan, I had yet another panic attack. When my husband came home from work around 11pm he asked me why I looked like I had been crying and all I could do was express how much I hated driving and how I had a bad emotional reaction to thinking about it. He said nothing of course. What can he say? He hates driving just as much as I do. Still, I wish he would at least try. Mainly because I feel like if he only tried, he’d realize that it is possible. He can do it. Just like I can do it even in my deep dislike of driving and my fear of driving in large cities.

It really isn’t that bad once you do it. That’s what I have to keep telling myself. Most of it is pretty normal interstate driving. Yes there are lots of cars and lane switches. Yes there can be bumper to bumper traffic and all you have to do is breath and keep driving. In the moment of driving I’m too focused on driving to be concerned with anything else, including the fear of driving.

I still have to be careful with all these assumptions. Mainly because just because that is my experience, that doesn’t mean it’ll be his. I just wish I knew how to encourage him.