trying this one more time…

Mother’s Day gifts

Every year I dread so much the week of the anniversary of my Mom’s death in combination with Mother’s Day. The two events will never be separated by more than a few days and have fallen on the same date in the past. Its a bit of forced grieving time and while I do appreciate it and often good progress is made- the lack of ability to escape it sometimes suffocates me in its sadness.

One thing I’m hoping to remember more often is the good way in which these two dates are intertwined. As my Mom was slowly dying, coming home from school each day was hard. To see the daily decline, the worsening of her condition, and her further inability to interact meaningfully with us was heartbreaking. There came a time where it was easy to see the short length of time we had left- something we’d known for months- but to be able to see it in the decline was really hard.

While all of this was happening my oldest sister was very pregnant with her 3rd child. With the stress of hearing of our Mother’s declining health, the pregnancy had been incredibly hard. Beth was on bed-rest and combating some intense feelings while trying to keep her body a safe place for baby Joe. She couldn’t fly in her third trimester. And she couldn’t fly with a day old baby- or so said the flight requirements.

But my mom held on. She waited. And on Mother’s day of 2003 Beth, Scott and their now 3 kiddos flew to Montana. I picked them up in Billings and my whole family spent two days together before my Mom took her last breath surrounded by my Dad, Beth, Bonnie, Doug and me.

Those dates are intrinsically linked because my Mom got her final Mother’s day gift, to see her brand new grand baby. And then she got to be done waiting, done being in pain, done fighting. And she really deserved that.  

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Eight years

In the past eight years so much has happened.

  • I graduated high school
  • I got a tattoo
  • I moved away for the summer
  • I started college.
  • I had my own first scary medical experience.
  • My Dad had cancer.
  • I changed colleges; moved states.
  • I changed my life plans.
  • I made new, better best friends.
  • I became a pot head.
  • I started volunteering in a field that would late direct my first career moves/educational paths.
  • I was a leader at everything I joined.
  • I got a kitten that I sillily named Spanish who now mostly goes by The Chicken unless she is in trouble 🙂
  • I lost touch with my high school friends.
  • I was raped twice.
  • I held different jobs.
  • I found a love for my frisbee golf hobby.
  • Most of my friends left the town where I lived.
  • I traveled to Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming.
  • I graduated college with an acceptable GPA (over 3.5) and therefore with honors.
  • I got and kicked ass at my first professional job.
  • I had a major illness that went undiagnosed for over a year. I had two major surgeries, one still technically experimental. I advocated for my own medical rights.
  • I stood up to my superiors based on ideals, even though it was not the best move politically.
  • I met a boy who changed my life.
  • I feel in love.
  • I changed my life plans, goals for a boy- something I never thought I would do and have  not regretted once.
  • I was proposed to.
  • I live(d) with said boy.
  • I moved to a place I had only visited for a  total of 40ish hours.
  • I moved across the country with only a car load and my cat (the movers and the boy came soon later)
  • I was unemployed and depressed.
  • I am waging my way through a new professional environment and dynamic.
  • I don’t talk to my family nearly as much as I did 8 years ago.
  • I am an adult now. At 18, I was lost.
  • I’m starting a graduate program for the love of the field, the work, and certainly not for the money.
  • I have serious intentions of babies- something I swore up and down at 18 that I wouldn’t ever have
  • I traveled to Illinois, Wisconsin (duh 🙂 ), and Washington DC.
  • My worldview has changed. My religious beliefs have changed. My world it self has entirely changed.
So much has changed since my mom died that I wonder what is the same. The intangibles. I don’t even know.
This is the first time I have cried today. The sun shiny morning made me think that I could focus on celebration of her memory alone. And then the icefog at work chilled me out a bit (apologies for the pun 🙂 )  I opened this blog with the intention of posting a picture that now has no business being here, and this is what spilled out. Grieving is good, I keep telling myself. Even though I slightly feel that with each remembrance, the memories slightly fade and blur. We’ll see.

it is everywhere

This is the week of the year I can’t escape, wish or smoke away. I can’t ever ignore it, celebrate it or wallow in my grief. Yesterday was Mother’s Day and in 4 more short days it will be the 8th anniversary of my Mother’s death. I just had to count it out to eight two times to believe myself.  It certainly doesn’t feel fresh anymore, but 8 years seems like its been too long already. Not that one day wasn’t too long without my Mom… i don’t know. This is probably not a smart post to be writing at work with my office door open, as I’m already fighting back tears. But that’s just it. I don’t even know why I feel sad today. I mean, if anything, I should feel sad that my Mom has passed but I can’t say that is just it that’s behind the tears welled within my eyes. That is obviously horribly sad but not what I feel this week. I can hardly imagine what things would be like if she was alive today. I have no idea if I would be here, be with Greg, be doing the work that I do. I just can’t say. Her death changed me in ways that nothing else has and there’s just no going back. I can however, liken my life to those whom I am close to whose mother’s did not die too young at only 50 years old. I can liken my life to theirs, and imagine my Mom in the role their maternal parent takes, but only for a minute before I second guess. Because I truly have no idea what it would be like for her to still be here. I’m pretty sure that is the saddest thing.

Now I am officially out of kleenex at my desk and for that reason, along with a million others inside me, thats all for now.

Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood….

All Mr. Rodgers aside, it is a beautiful day outside and however much I want to pretend that I’m above pathetic fallacy of weather affecting my mood… I’m definitely not. Especially in the morning when sleep-brain still has most of the control and is easier to influence than cognition. Anyways.

Its official! I told my boss and now  feel comfortable telling others (aka, not very many people that read my blog) that I am officially going to be a MSW student come fall. I’m going part time for as long as I can so as to work with my work schedule, and as not thrilled as Cathy ways when I told her, she did extend any flexible schedule that makes sense for me when we come to that part where I have the whole internship situation. Anyways, I’m absolutely pumped to be a student again. I also feel like it will be reassuring to me in times of boredom or lack of challenge or frustration with the constraints of the advocate role- that I’m working my way somewhere better for me. I can’t wait. I’m nerdily excited for orientation on Friday. Yep, that big of a nerd.

Other than that, the public’s reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden makes me quite anxious and unsettled. When I first heard (via facebook because I don’t twitter on the weekend) I wasn’t sure how to react. I mean, I know he was an awful man and is responsible for terrible things, but I don’t know that I can ever feel that great about the killing of someone. It also is clear to me that it is not the end of the US’s involvement in the Middle East and so how big the “victory” itself is, I’m not sure. It makes my stomach hurt when I read tweets “RIP Rest in Pain”- I just don’t see killing in either direction something to flaunt. I do understand the reaction of those who were more directly affected by 9/11- but I just wasn’t there, didn’t know anyone there, and at the age and situation I was in,  wasn’t sure how to take in the horrific event from so far away. I do love some of the camaraderie that comes out of events like these.  I think Rachel Maddow re-tweeted the story of a 9/11 widow on a plane receiving outpouring of kindness from all the other passengers (but oh how horrible to be stuck in such a public way with such personal pain!). Those are the only stories that give me real hope out of all the tragedy war brings. Sheesh, is it depressing stuff.

Moving, moving

Well, Greggo and I checked out two horrible complex-type living situations over the last 24 hours and… its official- we’re moving. Ha. Now, we did hate both of the places we looked at but those are our worst case scenario type of options. We’re really hoping to be able to find a similar place to ours in a similar neighborhood for 100+ less per month. It does seem doable. But with the time frame of our lease, having to decide about moving before it really allowed for us to find a new place to live, is risky and difficult. We decided we were going for it though this morning, and I do feel like it was a smart choice. Financially, we need to be saving as much money as we can on living expenses to apply to the student loan and other debts situation. I hate debt so much! Not having a job right after an expensive move was not a good financial place for us and I feel like we’ll be paying it back for a while. I also feel like once we’re in better control of our finances it won’t make me so sick to think of spending ridiculous amounts of money on a wedding :S. Not that I want anything ridiculous, but it is all just so expensive.

Moving is always hard for me. I’m such an anxious introvert at heart that I feel like my home base is really important to my state of mind. Having people come look at our place on short notice for the last two months we’ll live there also feels quite stressful. We’re not a super messy couple, but we’re not neat freaks either. I feel like it will mean a lot more sweeping, dusting and decluttering than I feel is necessary for my every day life- on top of trying to find a new home and packing/sorting out junk…AHH! I also don’t really love the idea of strangers looking through my home on a regular basis. Ever since the Grinch stole our Christmas, this is something I’m extra worried about. I feel like the burglars probably kicked Spanish, or got her out of their way somehow when they were stealing our shit (she was so lonely I’m sure she was more desperate for attention than guard cat) and now I don’t really want strangers around her unsupervised. I do understand that this is a bit neurotic and illogical and that my cat is fine after the robbery whatever. I’m a crazy cat lady at heart and don’t feel the need to hide this from my blog :). I’m also quite sure that my *MAKEBABYMAKEBABY* hormones have attached to the cat in the meantime until my life is ready for that. So, hopefully my neuroses just means I’ll make a great mom 😀

crazy person dreams

It is not entirely uncommon (more regular than I would like, for sure!) for me to have dreams about Greggo leaving me, cheating on me, doing horrible things around me, being really mean to me etc. This is by absolutely no means founded in any behaviors or actions he has taken. I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

Last night I dreamed that he sat me down and calmly told me that while I was ok, and good enough for now, he had decided to continue dating to search for the person for whom he would eventually leave me. Awesome. In the dream, he went on a date with this tiny brunette girl, came home to our place (where the fuck it was I have no idea, no recognition of the place) and took a shower with her. Dream Holly was quite upset, told him so, and his reassurance was that it was just a shared shower, nothing else happened. And then I woke up.

Crazy Person Dream.

Last night was one of the first nights I didn’t feel the instant need to wake Greg up to reassure me that he loved me- which was probably nice for him :). I rationalized it, twisted my ring around a few times and regained some perspective. Then tried really hard to fall asleep without becoming resentful of dream Greggo and real-life-very-very-snoring Greggo beside me. It went ok.

I have definitely had crazy town dreams about him before. Sometimes just of him breaking my heart, sometimes of him following me around my childhood home, munching on frozen peas, even though he knew how much it was driving me mad (crazycrazy person).

I’m not sure where these subconscious ideas come from. Like I said, no fight with Greg- things are great. Laughing and joking in bed last night before trying to fall asleep. So, whats up crazy head Holly? I guess I’m thinking that they stem from me realizing how I’m in this full force, and if he wasn’t, changed his mind etc, I’d crumble. But that is a conscious thought I have that brings no fear or nervousness. When I think, as one does, about what my life would be like if we hadn’t dated, or if we had broken up early on- I’m completely at a loss. The only things I can imagine for my life are not positive, although I’m sure that I would have managed.

Anyways, my cray-cray (i keep feeling the urge to use that phrase and then edit it out. idk why it embaresses me except that it is dumb, but whatever, cray-cray) dream made me want to do some introspection and I remembered *gasp* that I do actually have a place that I was hoping to do that more regularly.

Milwaukee is finally doing something for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, not like its the 27th or anything, so today I’m wearing jeans for denim day, rocking my Stop Rape shirt (because my agency still forgets about me sometimes and didn’t order me one for denim day) and heading to a rally and speak out tonight. I know the event is going to make me miss my VOICE Center buddies, the incredible community we created there, and all my best friends that I hardly ever get to see. I also am expecting to feel socially awkward (as I do) and like a total outsider at an event that should feel inclusive. We’ll see how it goes, but I definitely haven’t felt that from the Milwaukee community yet. I’m trying to be positive. Hopefully it goes well and I won’t cry TOO much. (note to self: bring kleenex).

Also, I woke up this morning, about 40 min before my alarm, with an incredibly painful Charlie Horse. Fucking leg cramps, what?! I guess I’ll seek out some potassium but that, with the dreams, the rain and all the other millions of bullshits this week has seemed to contain make me want to go back to bed until next week. If only that was an option…

so I haven’t quite failed completely at the whole blogging business. I actually had clients at work for a little while. So that was… interesting. Challenging themes with what I will experience as an advocate with this population have emerged and well, they’re challenging. Working on reforming them in my head as more malleable and using my trauma informed language like a mantra – its not whats wrong with you. its what happened to you. repeat-

I also went to the End Violence Against Women International conference in Chicago for three days last week. Some really amazing speakers (and of course, a few who were less than amazing). I heard some of the leading experts in the field in which I work speak and was only slightly blown away. Don’t get me wrong, Dr. David Lisak is AMAZING, but it became clear to me that he is one of very few individuals of his caliber working in this field… and that was pretty depressing. I went with some of the other people who work in this field from Milwaukee, and aside from the age gap that made things less fun, I was sometimes shocked with how, hrm…how to put this correctly… not dumb exactly, but how they weren’t critical thinkers in the least. That I was in no way blown away by their intellect. I wondered many times how they reached the leadership roles in their respective organizations. I suppose they must be good “workers” (productive, timely, good at filling out forms), that maybe even they are great advocates, but not so much great thinkers.

Another message I came home from the conference thinking about is that we’re in a worse place, societally, than we were in 1990. The media was kinder to victims of rape and,  while maybe not as aware of the problem, there were far less people in the general public that was opposed to gender equality and other feminist ideals. I’m not speaking as eloquently on this as I’d like to be.. but it was definitely the main theme of what I learned. Well, that, and some really interesting thing about sexual offenders. But after thinking this, about the being worse off, and the not so good thinker point… well I guess I’m not so surprised. I need to move further up the ladder to effect better change. Because I can be a thinker (despite how poorly this is written) and this movement needs momentum.

Anyways, came home from Chicago and promptly caught the convention cold- that, teamed up with too much time spent with older lady colleagues made Friday a physical and mental health day for sure 🙂 The three day weekend treated me well. Time with Greggo and the Chick always makes me feel way better. Off to meet with the boss lady. Is Monday over yet?