Don’t facebook me…I’m not there…

anti-facebook

I won’t participate in the 7 day spousal challenge, or best Dad challenge, or most fantastic kid challenge. I won’t update my status to show my support for cancer, suicide, or the many other causes, regardless if they are close to my heart.  Chances are if we are close enough friends I would have sent you a birthday card in the mail, and I refrain from posting my religious and political views publicly as I don’t think its anyone’s business. I have over the past few years tried to not vent or air my dirty laundry (a mistake I believe we all make as facebook “newbies”) In truth I don’t log on much anymore to facebook as it has become an endless scrolling wall of sadness and hate, with only  the occasional worthwhile post from an old friend or family member that I genuinely care about and am happy to see. It is however still a great resource for getting news out amongst family and friends, and for reconnecting people, they way i believe it was originally designed for. But nowadays my news feed has become clogged with so much ugliness that I can’t bare to even waste my time to endure looking through it. Then there is the envy you feel over peoples vacations, lifestyles, and relationships that slowly  chip away at your self esteem, making you feel that your life is unequal. You compare them with your marriage, your kids, your home, your cars, your job, your vacation or lack of…. not realizing that most people only  expose about 5% of their “real”  life on social media. Most of it is staged and glamorized and some people actually put up totally fake pictures and posts altogether. In the world of facebook, everything it is not always what it seems and we must remember this.

Despite my complaints, I don’t want to delete my account as in all honesty it is more like a handy virtual address book of all my contacts that are not in my actual contacts. When I need to reach out to my second cousin Jenny who lives on that tiny Island off the coast of Italy, I literally can instantly reach her with a facebook message….just like that! But if you are really my friend, and you want to talk to me, please don’t  try and reach me on social media. I cringe when I hear someone say to me “ but I facebooked you!” Urg!!!!  Firstly I prefer instagram to put up pics, and I voice my opinion and vent more on my blog if I am going to do it anywhere, I use twitter, but I have a telephone and email for everything else. Facebook is literally a place where I keep those 300+ “friends” and family contact details in a handy place because I haven’t been able to figure out how to import them into my computer address book yet! Okay…vent over….

18th birthday of saying I do….

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When a child reaches 18, it is a momentous milestone. You transition from childhood into adulthood, thrust into the world of “grown up’s” where your parents sigh a breath of relief that they survived and, hopefully, succeeded in raising you well. So what about a marriage that is turning 18? In my eyes I feel as though it should also be marked with bells and whistles, cheers and congratulations of surviving marriage adolescence. From this point does it improve like a fine wine, or mature cheese?

Like a sailboat, my husband and I are cruising past this anniversary nonchalantly with very little merriment. We will go to dinner, a little more up market than usual, because that is what is expected. We’ll exchange cards, although finding one year after years grows increasingly difficult. I stand for a ridiculously long time, opening and closing the endless selection at Hallmark…rolling my eyes. “If only”, I say to myself over and over replacing the card back to where I pulled it from. “Do people really feel this way? Why don’t I feel this way?” Deflated I scour the “simply stated” section or stumble on a humorous card if I am lucky, or when all else fails I have resorted to the “blank” section on more than one past occasions. There are no gifts to be exchanged, no surprises, no breathtaking moments to share and definitely no risk of being swept away in a romantic fairytale. After 18 years of marriage I have finally managed to accept something, I have absolutely no expectations other than the steak I will eat tonight, because I know Flemings will not disappoint me. I no longer look upon this date with the weight of what a wedding anniversary brings, I choose instead to look upon it as a birthday of us saying “i do”.

After being together for this long there is very little you do not know about a person. I like my husband, I am comfortable with him, and he knows most, if not all, of my secrets. Even though I fought it for many, many years, he has evolved into a trusted friend. I am proud of the life we have built together, the two amazing children we have raised, and everything that we have provided for them. I have learned not to say things are missing from our relationship anymore, because after all these years I have finally come to realize that one cannot miss things that were never there to begin with. Yes, things are absent from us, but because they have never been there, I have come to the conclusion that it is unfair to constantly get let down or upset because of this. I now know that it is not from his lack of desire, it is purely lack of knowledge. I cannot expect him to be something he is not or expect him to behave in a way which is unknown to him. He is who he is; 20 years ago when I met him that was enough.

In my eyes an anniversary should be a time when a man surprises his wife and does things to remind her of why she picked him. Because she did in fact pick him. He asked and she agreed. It is a time for him to dig deep into his emotional pockets, where it counts most to his female companion, and pull out all that sentimental shit that she needs to see and hear. In my eyes anniversaries were specifically created so that a man could fill his wife up with all these amazing reminders, and make her heart full to the point of nearly bursting so that she can endure and survive yet another year of being married to him. Perhaps this is my adolescence view rearing its head. Perhaps it is an unrealistic interpretation, maybe even selfish. Women are far harder, and more complicated than men. For instance, my husband on the other hand used to be quite satisfied with my new purchase from Victoria Secrets or Fredrick’s of Hollywood. But even then the enormity of that gesture often goes unnoticed. Women don’t just put those pretty things on by accident. We plan ahead, shop for them, and take great effort to pick them out. We take the time to wear the right outfit, slipping them under our clothes, and for the entire evening we feel sexy, the soft touch of satin against our skin, while the seductive thoughts of how our husband will discover his “gift” later on plays upon our minds. Even after 18 years the fact that I still do this should mean something, right? I shouldn’t feel that it is a waste of time, effort, and money just because my husband may fail to even notice his anniversary “gift” this year.

Regardless, we should celebrate that we have made it this far and that we still like each other. We still work very well together and if financial circumstances didn’t dictate our little company’s future, we would most likely continue working together. He is calm where I am stormy, and I am structured where he is unorganized. We have so much to be thankful for over the past 18 years, and it truly has passed in a blink of an eye. It is okay to come to terms with the fact that our relationship has changed, and that we are changing as individuals. We have not failed, have not been defeated, nor given up. Our relationship has grown up and transitioned into adulthood, and at the end of the day that deserves to be celebrated. So happy 18th birthday of the day we said I do….

Remember the Sparkles

 

Remember the Sparkles.

 

Exactly one year ago, this was my Grandad’s final week on this earth. My mother had been nursing him since October. She went back home to England solely for this purpose, the only last loving thing she could do for him. Her grieving process has not been easy since his death, this last year has been difficult, and these last few weeks it seems that she is reliving her memories, and now desperately trying to recall those final days with her dad.

Last year, I would do my very best from across the Atlantic to support her. Even at my age, I am no stranger to death. I was with my estranged biological Father when he took his last breath, and I lost a friend the year before to cancer, and had been active in his care and final days. I knew physically and emotionally what she was enduring. I understood end of life, and the in home hospice care environment that she was coping with.  When she would tell me about a happy moment, something that made her laugh or smile, I would tell her to hold onto it, and tuck it away somewhere, calling it a “sparkle”. Some days just having a sip of water was a sparkle. Reaching out for my Grandmothers hand was a sparkle. Smiling, and recalling something from the past, or just having a nice chat. She would sit quietly with him and in those moments she got to experience many sparkles. Because I firmly believe you need sparkles to light up all those dark, heartbreaking moments.

Minutes before my real father passed, my sister and I softly whispered words of forgiveness to a lifeless man who had been absent for most of our lives. I had just flown in from Los Angeles, and we drove like the wind from London, Heathrow to his beside in a convalescent home in Sussex. He looked more like a man in his late eighties, than the 64 year old man he was, and  I hadn’t seen him in probably a decade. His occasional rattling breath was the only indication of life. We held his hand, kissed his forehead, spoke gently, and watched amazed as a tear fell from his eye, tried to squeeze our hand and then slipped away within minutes of our arrival. For me that tear was a sparkle.

My friend, close to the end, so weak and frail had a moment where he wanted to dance. He managed to stand and he took me in his arms, hummed a tune and we swayed back and forth. His mum and sister laughed and cried, both fumbling for their cell phones trying to capture the rare moment. He gave me a couple of other special moments, mostly the most incredible smiles, and big “I love you’s ” when his mind was clear. These are my sparkles.

I am sharing this today for my mum. I hope she can remember her sparkles. If you have lost a loved one, or perhaps someone you love is terminally ill maybe when you recognize a sparkle it will help you get through tough times, like what my mum is going through. Never forget that we are given moments to remember throughout an entire lifetime, memories that we hold dear. But there is something so special about a sparkle….so please remember the sparkles!

Deflateagate

Deflateagate

I had my own little version of deflateagate over Christmas. My own fault, my expectations rise up only to be deflated like a punctured tire. I had high hopes this Christmas, did most of he ground work myself and felt confident that my husband really couldn’t screw it up that bad. But as the saying goes…men really are from Mars.

I recently lost weight so my wedding ring keeps slipping off. I’ve had it resized twice before and don’t want to go through the hassle of doing that again so I thought that buying a simple diamond band to wear above it would be an easy solution for keeping it safe. My husband has never bought me an anniversary ring and we have almost been married for 18 years, so while Christmas shopping we picked out a simple inexpensive band that does the job, and we were both happy.

I wanted to wear it straight away since my ring was so loose, but he wanted to make it a Christmas gift…okay fine! This is where the problem started. I’m a die hard romantic, think Darcy and Elizabeth, Bathsheba and Gabriel, Romeo and Juliette (you get my drift) and since this ring is about to go on my ring finger and join my wedding ring, I felt that had significant meaning and deserved some sort of acknowledgement other than me just slipping it on. It’s been 18 years of since the last ring went on that ringer, so I guess I expected some sort of expression of his love. Who’s wouldn’t want to hear reaffirmation that they’re still the one, right? Especially with the ups and downs, I thought…well here’s your chance to tell me what I mean. So since he wanted to make it a Christmas gift I suggested he “get creative”. Those were my exact words. He replied, “okay” his exact words.

This problem here is I was implying one thing, and he was interpreting another. Men, or at least my man is  certainly from Mars, and this woman is from Venus, the planet of love! I should have known going into it that I was setting myself up for disaster. A total lack of communication. I was implying that he get “creative” in the way he should give me the ring, expecting him to (at the very least) break out champagne on Christmas eve by the tree after the kids have gone to bed. So needless to say when Christmas Eve came and went with no ring, my expectations slowly began to crumble, and they completely were demolished when I found the ring in my stocking Christmas morning, hidden in an empty bag of ghirardelli chocolates. His idea of creative, and I hate to say he was incredibly proud of. I should have known better, should never have even suggested anything at all or let my romantic thoughts get carried away.

Christmas morning I silently slipped the ring on, packing away yet another disappointment. Will I ever learn?

Sept 10 – World Suicide Prevention Day

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Masquerade
By Nicola Graham
I want to die
I long to say
I yearn to cry
To walk away
To leave this life
And all this pain
Just go to sleep
Never return again
Some say it’s selfish
They say it’s weak
But do they know
About the pain I speak
The endless voice
Inside my head
That says I’m useless
And better off dead
I’m so exhausted
Of the masquerade
Of dreaming of sunlight
But only living in shade
I want to die
I long to say
But it’s not my turn
Not my time today
I attempted suicide as a teenager. In August 1987, a couple weeks shy of my seventeenth birthday, I overdosed. It was not a spontaneous decision, I had agonized for days and weeks falling deeper and deeper into a darkness where I only seemed to find one solution; to bring an end to my suffering. On a summers evening after I wrote a note hoping to relieve my loved one’s of any blame or guilt, I swallowed what should have been a lethal dose of pills, climbed into bed and waited for the end.
After swallowing all those pills I remember my mum coming in to check on me as she thought I was sleeping. Other than that my memories are mostly audio one’s as when the pills kicked in I became unable to move but I could still hear what was going on as I slipped in and out of consciousness. I still hear their voices, their panic, their pain. I hear my sister and best friend and the chaos as they discovered me. I hear my mother as she wept over me in the car. In the hospital I had an out-of-body experience, I watch them working me, pumping my stomach. How much of these memories are real I don’t really know because as a family we have never really sat down and spoke about it, even now 28 years later my mother can not speak to me about it. That is how much pain my suicide attempt caused her.
I don’t recall much else until the next day when I woke up in the hospital. Alive. I felt such a sense of utter failure, and of shame. Those feelings of uselessness and worthlessness were magnified a million times by my inability to succeed. Of course I put on a fake show of regret to everyone, including the shrink that evaluated me and I was released. I had no follow-up care, no psychiatric evaluation or therapy. My life slipped back to “normal” immediately, my parents watched me cautiously for a while till I convinced everyone that I was fine. I went back to work after a couple of days off where most my co workers greeted me as if I’d had been out with the flu. It was as if it never happened. I remained numb, and inside I struggled with being seriously depressed, but I had to put on a mask and pretend that I was happy to be alive, happy that I had not succeeded. I would say the rehearsed lines over and over to convince whoever I was talking to that I was ok, but I had such deep demons.
About a week after my failed attempt, a very close girlfriend of mine died suddenly in a car accident. Attending her funeral with all of my friends was like attending my own funeral. I wanted to die, she did not. How unfair was that? I wished I could have traded places with her as I sat there looking at her casket. She wanted to live, she wasn’t ready to die. I grieved deeply for my friend, I talked to her a lot, sometimes I still talk to her now. I think perhaps I grieved for both her and myself back then. For me, it was her death that helped pull me through, helped me survive my survival.
I’m in my mid forties now, a wife, a mother and if I’m really honest I still think about dying, I still struggle with living,  as a survivor I don’t think it ever leaves you, those thoughts never go away, they’re always there buried in the back of your head. I have never attempted suicide again, but I won’t lie and say that it hasn’t crossed my mind….briefly in a moment of darkness. That feels awful to say out loud. But I struggled with postpartum after both my children, and I have endured severe PMDD my entire adult hormonal life. I have high ups, low downs, definite waves of depression my entire life, plus a family history of suicide attempts and deaths. But what stops me from crossing that line is knowing what it would do to my family, the pain that it would put them through and the permanent damage it would have on the rest of their lives. And as long as something stops you then you are surviving. Life is happy most times, hard sometimes, and depression can sneak up and consume you so quickly that you don’t even have any warning. I often struggle alone in that darkness and no one is aware of my pain.  It is exhausting clawing my way out of that pit time and time again. And I have been there many times during my life, including  as recently as earlier this year. But the difference is that I always find a way out and it is worth it every time.
I often think about my girlfriend, the one who passed away. Rene, her name always brings a smile to my face. Many friends have long forgotten her, but I never have. She never got to fall in love, get married, bring a life into this world, or hold the hand of a loved one as they took their last breath. I have celebrated birthdays and Christmases, heartaches, and such amazing joys. All of which would not have happened if I had not have been found when I did by my guardian angel and dear friend Kim. The doctors said I barely made it, another 30 minutes and I would have died. My son and daughter would not exist, the footprints I have made on this earth would vanish….I would not have been able to positively impacted anyone, only have negatively impacted the people I loved by dying too soon. There was a reason I woke up in that hospital bed, and 28 years later there is a reason I am still here, writing this.
A suicide attempt changes you forever, and every time I hear that someone has succeeded in taking their own life I feel such a deep sorrow for that person because I have walked in their shoes. I know what it is like to feel so hopeless, so desperate, and so alone that there seems to be only one feasible solution. I like to think there is always hope. Even during the most horrendous storm, the sun is shining majestically high above the clouds.  You can claw your way out and you can live, because there is a whole life ahead of you waiting to be lived. You just have to find a slither of hope, your reason to survive. Your dire circumstances are only temporary. Today you don’t have to slip through the cracks, there are resources, medications and many avenues to get help, and you don’t have to be alone. I hope that if you are contemplating suicide or have woken up after an attempt, or you are looking for help, that these words have reached somewhere inside of you. You might not be able to see past today right now, but if you give it a chance things will get better, you can get better, and one day you too will have the chance to share your story and help someone.
National suicide prevention hotline 1/800-273-8255
Samaritans In the UK 08457 90 90 90 or email jo@samaritans.org (if you can’t speak privately)
Childline In the UK 0800 1111
Thursday September 10 2015 world suicide prevention day
Someone attempts suicide every 30 seconds
Someone dies from suicide every 12.95 minutes
Suicide is the 2nd Leading cause of death for 10-24 year olds
More people die from suicide than from homicide
90% of those who die by suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric condition at the time of their death.

Father’s Day

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Father’s Day

I realized a couple of days ago that I do not possess a photograph of me and my biological father. I have some of him. Him with my mother, my older sister, and even his other family, but none with me. This tugs at my heart just a little. Not so much for sentimental reasons, more for confirmation of my identity, for who I am. I did not know him well; he left when I was a baby and was, for the most part absent from my life. We did attempt to form a brief relationship in my late teens and early twenties, but it was not very successful. I did however go to his side on his death bed, and offer love and forgiveness freely if it was desired. He passed away within minutes of my transatlantic arrival.

Despite the lack of influence from my biological father, I was however loved, nurtured, and raised by a wonderful man. A man who, with no biological children of his own, after marrying my mum legally adopted me, and raised me from infancy till my early teens at which point my parents divorced and I moved to California with my mum and her new husband. I will never know if my Dad truly feel that I am really his child, but I truly feel that he is mine. We remain close despite the distance that keeps us separated. He has earned the title of Dad and I love him as much as a daughter can love her dad. So Happy Fathers Day Dad and thank you so much for loving me.

Am I not worth the roses?

Saturday was our 17th wedding anniversary and my husband went to costco and picked up some items to cook dinner. He also picked up a bunch of flowers. While I do not wish to sound ungrateful, I can’t help but wonder about his choice of flowers. He selected an easter bouquet over the roses….for our 17th anniversary.

I am not an easy person to love. I am bitchy, hormonal, and controlling just to name a few. I am also by far the worst back seat driver you have ever met and I have high expectations that almost always lead to devastating dissapointments. All of which are entirely my own fault. Of course Saturday was one of those dissapointment…daisy and carnations over roses. In all truth he would have been better off not getting me flowers at all. I would have been less dissapointed.

I know I am not easy to love. Maybe the truth is he only feels that I am worthy of the easter bouquet. Perhaps he doesnt want to buy me roses anymore. Is this what is really bothering me the most? Am I not worth the roses anymore?