A to Z Blogging Challenge: F is for Family

WHEN EVERYTHING GOES TO HELL, THE PEOPLE WHO STAND BY YOU WITHOUT FLINCHING–THEY ARE YOUR FAMILY (JIM BUTCHER)

So here they are…just some of the people who have always been there, no matter what:

 

 

A to Z Challenge

 

 

I think my migraines have totally addled my brain. I’ve had them all week, just when the A to Blogging Challenge began. I couldn’t find my blog on their Linky list, so I think I might have been removed for not posting. I DID post briefly yesterday about the Challenge, then removed my post because I thought I’d been taken off of the list; I just happened to look at my stats today, however, and I had five visits to that post yesterday. So. I will do the Challenge, starting today. I have to post every day this month except Sundays. So I will post today, starting with “E” and my theme is Healing.

I plan to recount my journey, post about where I am now, and add photos, other images, and quotes (I love quotes, especially poetry) along with a heavy dose of spirituality, the occasional prayer, some tips and tricks I have found that help. I should note here that I am writing about healing in general but also specifically about my struggles with severe PTSD and major depression, along with back surgeries, cervical spine disease, infertility, chronic migraine, and last but not least, fibromyalgia.I also hope to begin a resource list.

I am going to go ahead and post the badge and links to the Challenge even though I might not be officially a part of it. I am looking forward to discovering new bloggy friends from the list (the one I don’t think I am on anymore, lol). I also hope to post a couple of times the first few days to add posts from letters A to D. And next year, hopefully I will be more together and start blogging with “A” on April 1st!

And hopefully, even if I’m not officially part of the Challenge, my posts might help some of my friends out there who are going through a rough stretch.

The Downside of Compassion | Psychology Today

I had to forward this link; it captures perfectly the agonies of guilt I’ve felt ever since cutting off contact with my birth mom, because her emails were making my depression so much worse. It was horrible and I still feel so damn guilty…my psychiatrist, therapist, and husband (who have seen all of the emails and know the entire story keep telling me I am doing the right thing. But I still feel massive guilt.

Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

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the strength of a woman

The strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow hardship to dictate her and who she becomes
–C. Jobbell

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Me and my aunties (my dad’s sisters) this summer

My mom and me having a moment at my wedding.
My mom and me having a moment at my wedding.

Dedicated to my mom, my grandmothers, and my aunties, the strongest and most loving women ever!

(The first picture above is of my Grandma Resch on her wedding day in 1914)

final friday five for 2012

As usual, credit for everything below–except my answers, that is–goes to the wonderful gals over at RevGalBlogPals. And I owe them a hearty “thank you” for giving me a some much-needed writing inspiration!

I should mention that I did have my neck surgery last week and the surgeon said the procedure went “swimmingly.” I find this reassuring because those raw and burnt nerve endings feel, well, raw and burnt. Not a pleasant sensation. My usual brilliance is most likely lacking today since I’m on pain killers and muscle relaxers, so bear with me. 

 

The FINAL Friday Five for 2012: Recycle, Re-Gift, Reflect

As we take a breather from the busy weekend of Sunday/Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, it’s time to reflect on the past year. It’s hard to move out of this holiday season with its delights and celebrations. Here at our home, we’ve barely finished the eggnog. The tree is still up and our cats delight in knocking off the lower (unbreakable) ornaments. As we are rounding the final turn on the year 2012, I hope you’ll play along with these questions. 🙂
RECYCLE:
1. What is some “old news” this year that you’d like to repeat for 2013?
Saturday lunches and outings with my birthmom, Judy. We try to do this on a fairly regular basis, although it has been difficult to get together for much of this year because of her hip surgery and my neck surgery. My lack of a car doesn’t help, either. But we have a lot of fun spending time together. Plus, I finally know where most of my idiosyncrasies originate! Here I though I was eccentric all by my lonesome, only to discover that I inherited most of them from the Lubys! (The others come from growing up a Resch of course.)
2. What “new thing” have you started that you want to keep going in 2013?
Not having neck surgery!  Making an effort, through journaling, meditation, prayer, reflection, and reading, to really observe Advent, as a season of waiting and preparation for the gift of the Incarnation.
RE-GIFT:
3. What event, experience or gift would you just as soon “Return to Sender”? Maybe it was a disastrous sermon, a congregational kerfuffle, a vacation nightmare, or your own mis-step. It can be funny or sad.
I would gladly surrender the experience of running a stop sign and crashing into another car this past June! The gentleman driving the other car, luckily, wasn’t hurt, but I would up with whiplash and neck surgery. And my darling little GEO Metro was totaled! It wasn’t damaged that badly, but the repairs would have cost more than my 16 year-old baby was worth. Monetarily, anyway, disregarding my love for my first car. So we are in the market for a new car, but all we can get for our money is junk. But I can’t drive now anyway, temporarily at least!
REFLECT:
4. Share the brightest bit of joy that was a part of your year.
George and I celebrated our ninth anniversary this October. I think the joy comes from the reassurance of being loved, truly loved, for myself, along with the realization that in nine years we have been through more than many couples endure in a lifetime, and we are still together. And I love him more with each anniversary that goes by. When we got married, I thought I could not possibly love him more than I did, but as time goes by, I find that my love for him grows and evolves, teaching me to appreciate the feeling of contentment that washes over me before I go to sleep, when I see him and Fiona (our dog, naturally) sleeping beside me. Or the simple pleasure of playing frisbee in our backyard together on lovely summer afternoon.
5. Share a picture that says far more than words. (You can use it to illustrate one of the above.)
George and me at Kieran’s Irish Pub after I lectored at the 4:30 Mass at The Basilica of St. Mary
BONUS:

Share a recipe! I’m in the doldrums and need some healthy eating options for my menu planning. Soup, stew, main dish, side dish or a healthy dessert – any and all are welcome!

This is where I need help, too, desperately! I’m hoping a reader will come to my rescue with a nice slow-cooker recipe, perhaps? Please?!

too, too much

 We all reach times when we suddenly feel that we have more to bear than we can handle. Thank goodness I’ve lived long enough to know this is fact, because for many years, I thought I was all alone, that I was the only one who ever felt inadequate, or selfish, or so overwhelmed that all I could do was crawl under the covers and pray that morning would be a long time coming.

Tonight is one of those times. I tell myself I am being silly, as I sit here typing away next to our Christmas tree. I remember every single ornament: who gave it to us, or where we bought it and where and why. There were presents under the tree, until Fiona started trying to unwrap them. (They now repose in an undisclosed location until Christmas morning.) Every day more Christmas cards from friends and family arrive in the mail, reminding me that George and I are part of a whole community of friends and family.


Yet all I can do is cry. Last Friday, as we all know, a very sick young man killed 20 children and 7 teachers at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. I’ve been immersed in discussions/disputes about gun laws, treatment of the seriously mentally ill, grief for the parents and families left behind, as well as for those little darlings who will never graduate, not even from grade school, never travel, go to college, get married.

And for some reason I am having an even harder time than usual dealing with the absence of my own parents this year. My dad was like a little kid about Christmas; he and I always had so much fun together, decorating the the tree (always the day after Thanksgiving), going downtown to see all of the Christmas lights and the mechanized displays in the department store windows, especially Dayton’s. Caroling with mom and other parishioners from Incarnation. And every year, until I was 24, sitting between mom and dad at Midnight Mass, hearing the ancient words “For behold I bring you tidings of great joy…” Going up to the Creche afterwards to see the Baby Jesus lying in the manger, and in later years the Choir always sang the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah immediately after the conclusion of Mass. Holding hands with mom and dad as we prayed in the “words our Savior taught us, Our Father who art in heaven…” and most of all, singing the old, familiar carols, especially my favorite, Silent Night, Stille Nacht, written in Germany so long ago. Now there is new family, warm, loving, caring family. I have a husband, whom I love very much. But I haven’t been able to go to Midnight Mass since I lost my mom.

This is, without a doubt, the hardest time of year to be childless. We keep running into one roadblock after another with our efforts to adopt, until I have to shut myself alone in our bedroom so George doesn’t have to listen to me crying in hysteric despair. Yes, I feel selfish bringing up our loneliness for a child when I know parents out in Newtown are grieving their lost babies. But grief is grief, and it deserves to be honored and spoken of, regardless of the circumstances, or who is doing the grieving, or why.

I’m particularly overwhelmed by my upcoming neck surgery. Less than two days to go now. And I feel so alone, I guess everyone does when they are facing surgery or something similar. Because no one can experience it with you. George is spending the day with me; Friday he’s taking me over to  my Aunt Jo and cousin Melinda’s house, so they can fuss over me, and Sunday my birthmom is coming over to baby me. Plus, I am receiving the Catholic Sacrament of the Sick from one of my favorite priests tomorrow. So I have all of my ducks in a row, so to speak. but I still feel sick to my stomach every time I think about it. Part of my issue here is, yet again (this question has been popping up everywhere the last few days) is WHY. Damn it all, I am sick of being in pain every single blasted day of my life. Why do I have to endure more? Yes, I know other people have it worse. but I have have never understood why that is supposed to make me feel better. I’m supposed to be happy and grateful that at least I’m not suffering the way other people I love are? I don’t think so. 

I guess this is one of those times of, maybe not doubt, so much as feeling so desperately alone. This is why I ask for prayers, because right now I’ve lost the ability to form the words myself. I guess my tears and my writing tonight will have to be my prayers.

I guess a partial answer lies in something I told a friend the night of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, when we were struggling with the question of why, of how, an event so hideously, cosmically wrong could happen:

 You just sound upset, that’s all, hon. Don’t apologize for that. As to why this happened…can there possibly be a satisfactory answer? We live in a violent society. We can work for peace and justice. But does that help right now, at this very moment? All we know for sure is that God weeps with us, and that in the end God will wipe away all of our tears, and we will all be together again. And I always remember that Jesus wept when Lazarus died. He understands our feelings of grief and loss, because He experienced it too.

Amen.

the little things

Yes, I’m changing my title again, for the third time. So far it has gone from “redhead report” to “gifts in the rubble” to, as of today, “the little things.”I am only 5’1” after all.

I decided to change the name because the title “gifts in the rubble” was, supposedly anyway, more about the grace we find when we are going through “the dark night of the soul.” (And that phrase comes from John of the Cross. I must have Carmelite mystics on the brain.) I have been there many, too many, times throughout my life, for various reasons. I don’t want to ignore that, but I want to emphasize that grace is everywhere, that we are surrounded by God’s grace and presence at all times and all places.

I have neglected my poor blog terribly over the last couple of years. Part of it was because I was experiencing chronic migraines–I’ve had to take two medical leaves from grad school–which have finally been cured, by Botox injections, as of the end of March!! I still have fibromyalgia, etc., to deal with, but the fibro I can cope with. Migraines just sent me straight to a dark room, literally and figuratively.

But I realized the other day that I haven’t even mentioned one of the most important and exciting events in my life: I met my birthmom! (Okay, so this is NOT a little thing, although she is!) And I totally love her; she is such a sweetheart. Warm, kind, generous, intelligent, and of course, five feet tall. And she’s a lot of fun, too. And I’ve even met my birthfather’s family, and now I know where I get my red hair and skin that refuses to tan, ever. I’ll write more about this next time, but I’ll lever you with a couple of pictures of the two of us until next time.

Mom (Judy) and me, Xmas 2010
The two of us right after we met, in August 2010,

One comment, though, before I go. My love for her does not any way change the love I still have for my adopted mom and dad. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of them, and miss them. It was my mom (Millie) who told me that hearts are infinitely expandable. As usual, mom, you were right!

 

friday five…a day late (well, a few minutes late!)

Emptiness Friday Five…..

 
 

This Friday five comes courtesy of Sally over at RevGalBlogPals! (You don’t think I could come up with something like this myself, do you?)

I have been pondering this Friday Five over and over in my mind, but I am coming up with nothing, so I am wondering; what do you do when you feel empty of all creativity and unable to make/do anything? This is a completely open question, the only rule is name 5 things that fill/ inspire you:

Well, this is a tough question for me to answer, given the way I’ve been feeling physically/emotionally/ spiritually these last few months, so perhaps this is just the time for me to give this a whirl.

1. Being surrounded by my family. Although I’m an only child, my dad was the third eldest of eleven children, so I grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles, and at the center of it all, my grandmother, the most warm, generous, and loving woman I’ve ever known. So then I wound up marrying a man who, amongst his other stellar qualities, just happens to have almost as many cousins as I do! (I have 44.) Not to mention he’s the baby of six siblings. Our wedding was huge. and, incidentally, I’m a proud great-auntie myself now, several times over. And now I’m in contact with both sides of my birthparents’ families, who, yes, are also part of large extended families. Naturally. I have more family than I know what to do with! And I love it, especially now that my folks are gone, because to me, family is home and love and laughter.

2. Walking, sitting, gazing out on the water of the North Shore of Lake Superior. It soothes me, slows down my mind and body, and fills me with the presence of God.

3. Feeling forgiven, truly forgiven, whether by another human being or by God. It is the only thing that heals the brokenness I feel inside when I know I have wronged someone, whether it be by “what I have done or by what I have failed to do.”

4. Going through my parents’ old pictures, letters, etc. It never fails to bring back floods of memories, some sad, some happy, most of which make me laugh until I cry. Which reminds me that I HAVE to get my hands on that new set of Laurel and Hardy movies, even if it is astronomically expensive. After all of the hours the three of us spent watching those movies…

5. Doing something for someone else. During the Depression, my Grandma Resch never, ever turned a hobo away when they came by asking for food, despite the family’s poverty and all the mouths she had to feed. She always found something to fix for them, and even something extra to make the plate look nice. My parents carried on this tradition, and one of my biggest frustrations of my current run of migraines is that I’m stuck at home all of the time, which keeps me from doing any of the things I’d normally do to pay it forward, so to speak. After all, I didn’t choose the Prayer of St. Francis for both of my parents’ remembrance cards for nothing. I chose it as words to live by.

the red thread

The Little Red-Haired Girl as seen in the tele...
The Little Red-Haired Girl as seen in the television special It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a short post, just an update on our baby situation.

To make a long story short, we are no longer trying to get pregnant. As it turned out, I simply couldn’t handle being off of my fibromyalgia medications. My muscle relaxers, Advil, Excedrin, and trazedone (a sleeping medication commonly used to treat fibromyalgia) are all, without question, definitely verboten for anyone trying to get pregnant. And without them, I’ve wound up in one of the worst fibromyalgia flares in years. I’ve been in too much pain to function: unable to dress myself, drive the car, cook, get myself to class, type on the computer. So, after talking it over with my husband and my physician, the three of us decided that, for me, pregnancy is simply not an option. (If anyone has any doubts about whether fibromyalgia is a real, debilitating chronic pain syndrome, check out the Mayo Clinic website or Web Md.)

I feel as though I have lost an actual baby, not just the hope of one. I loved this sweet, precious little child, our little red-haired girl; she dwelt firmly in my heart and mind, in my very being, and the grief of knowing that she will never come to exist is overwhelming now.

But I know that I will survive this. And George and I KNOW that there is a child out there, waiting for us, waiting to become part of our family. In a funny way, being adopted myself, adoption, rather than pregnancy, seems like a normal way of becoming a family. So that is the plan.

I’m going to close with a quote I have propped up against my keyboard as I write; it is from a good friend when she and her husband adopted a little honey from China, and I have a feeling it’s going to be my mantra for some time.

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.”
–An ancient Chinese belief

Please keep us in your prayers, if you are so inclined.

friday five: the fork in the road

This week’s Friday Five come courtesy of Singing Owl from RevGalBlogPals. She writes:

 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five: The Fork in the Road

“I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today’s Friday Five, share with us five “fork-in-the-road” events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?”

Okay, Singing Owl, here are my five forks in the road:

1. I didn’t have a lot of say in this one, being five weeks old at the time, but the first big fork in my road came when I was adopted by Millie and Leonard Resch on October 24, 1968. It turned out to be a 38-year-long love story, lasting until my mom’s death in 2007. I could not have been more blessed, both by the mom and dad who loved me and raised me, and the mom who loved me so much she was willing to give me up. I love all three of them, my wonderful parents, more than words can express.

2. At 19 I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and clinical depression. This led to years of therapy and, even more important, much painful soul-searching, trying to figure out where God was speaking to me in my suffering. And I found out that not only was he there, he was holding me, lovingly, and feeling my pain as his own.

3. At 27 I did a unit of C.P.E. (Clinical Pastoral Education), which is, basically, an intensive chaplaincy internship. It’s impossible to sum up in only a few sentences what that summer meant for the rest of my life…suffice it to say, I fell in love with the work, am finally back in grad school (after years of struggling with fibromyalgia), and hope to work as a hospice chaplain once I get my degree.

4. When I was 32 I met my husband through mutual friends at the Basilica of St. Mary. Can you say instant lightning? We’ve been married for five years and he’s my rock, the light of my life, and on many days, especially when my depression is bad, the reason I get out of bed. Our marriage tells me a lot about God’s love for us–steadfast, constant, always forgiving. We want to adopt so we can share the love with which we’ve been graced with a special child.

5. Two years ago in April my beloved mom died of emphysema. I am still so lonely for her. But in the midst of her dying, she taught me, by example, what it means to have lived a good life, and what it means, for a person of faith, to go to meet her Creator.

Come on ladies, play along with me! Either on your own blogs, or in the comments box. 🙂

 

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