Twenty Seven Days Late…

“Life is about how much you can take and keep fighting, how much you can suffer and keep moving forward.“

~ Anderson Silva

Photograph found at pixabay.com

My mind takes me to a very dark place sometimes. All things being said, I’m normally happy. Or, at the very least I put on a mask that portrays happiness; whether I am or not.

My current situation is that my period is 27 days late. I cannot even count the amount of pregnancy tests I have taken. I don’t fool myself into thinking that I see a faint line—a faint possibility that any of them were remotely positive.

Each day, I find that I am driving myself a little bit more insane. Am I pregnant? If I am then why aren’t the tests positive? If I’m not pregnant…then what’s wrong with me?! I have an appointment next week to see my gynecologist; I need to decide if I want to do yet another laparoscopy and then Orlissa, or just try taking Orlissa.

But am I pregnant?!

Here comes more insanity—if I am pregnant then I am literally torturing myself daily over my medications. I am in a tremendous amount of pain. I take a variety of medications and half of them are not healthy to take during pregnancy. I stopped taking my antidepressant (yet ANOTHER reason I am in a deep mental pit of ugliness), but I still have to take medication for pain. I was informed during my last pregnancy that it’s worse on the baby to suffer with high pain levels over 7.5 than to just take the medication for pain. Still, I beat myself up because I worry what the medication could do to an unborn baby. Even if I’m only 8 weeks.

I spent close to a full month feeling like a psycho, pulling at my hair.

I read that phenergan can cause false negatives in pregnancy tests. YAY!!! Right?! That’s a medication I took regularly. I haven’t taken it in two weeks. Last week, I STILL got a negative test result.

If I’m not pregnant and I’ve skipped two periods…what’s wrong with me?! What if my doctor does the surgery and there’s something seriously wrong? I’m scared and I’m driving myself crazy. I’m not taking half of the medication that have been prescribed for me—medication that is relatively important for my immediate health and sanity. Blood pressure, antidepressant, anti-nausea, and muscle relaxers. I even stopped taking my migraine preventative. I have Excedrin that I take for my migraines but it has caffeine and aspirin in it and I know those are contraindicated during pregnancy as well.

Want to hear even more of my crazy behavior this past month? I have been looking at pregnancy announcements on Pinterest.

These are two of the many Pinterest items I saved. You know…in case I was pregnant. These are NOT mine!

I love the idea of announcing in December, making Christmas ornaments with rainbows and due dates as gifts to surprise my loved ones. Especially the onesies that announced the due date of our rainbow baby. I wanted to be pregnant. I really wanted that to be the reason I was 27 days late.

This morning, my questions have been answered. I’m not pregnant. I started my period 27 days late. Which means I’m not ovulating normally. I skipped an entire monthly cycle. So, something IS wrong.

After mentally torturing myself for the past month, it isn’t enough that I started my period. I opened Facebook and saw a pregnancy announcement from a friend announcing her second child. Her announcement mirrored the ones I so badly wanted to send out…if my body wasn’t a failure. It was like an extra insult; a gut punch followed by kicking me while I’m down.

I can’t even cry anymore. I’m just numb now. I’ve felt every single emotion this past weekend alone. I’m emotionally burnt out. These are the times I struggle to put on my “personality mask”. That’s what I call the one where I happen to be personable, nice, all smiles, and put together. It’s also kinda draining.

No mask today. Today, I need my big girl panties, my adult pants, paired with work boots. Life is going to keep ticking by. I can’t hit a pause button so I can break down. I’ve cried enough. There’s dishes in my sink and laundry to be washed. I may not laugh, I may not smile, but my house will be clean.

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.”

~ Denis Waitley

What if I am? What if I’m not?

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

~Margaret Thatcher

They come in so many shapes and colors, all of them claiming to be easy to read. Yet, the directions, and the code to deciphering your results, are on a paper that unfolds to the size of map—like the kind we used to keep in our glove compartments when we went on vacation.

You wouldn’t think a stick you peed on would be so finicky. If it’s digital you can’t tilt it up or it won’t work, and you’ve wasted an expensive test. I gave up and started testing with a cup. I hated peeing on the stick only to have to move it like it was a tiny bomb about to explode urine, and my results, all over my face—just because I tilted it wrong. I’ve over peed on tests and gotten no result before. I’m not sure what’s more frustrating: 1) over peeing on a stick and getting an error, thus having to wait until I need to pee again, or 2) getting a result I don’t understand and then having to open my map to decode little lines.

Pee sticks aside-I’m late. I don’t mean that I am running behind to get to some appointment. No, Aunt Flo is late. Normally, a woman in my position (one who has been trying to get pregnant for over four years now) would be out buying pregnancy tests and overjoyed at the possibilities of Aunt Flo coming up MIA.

Well, we all know I’m not normal. So all the happy, excited crap goes right out the window, for now. I have three (yes, 3!) separate apps on my phone that I use to keep track of my cycle. Two of them are pretty accurate. To be fair, I’ve been using them both for a couple years. The third app is new. Which is one reason I believe it’s readings are different. My two reliable apps have me at two days late—still not over concerning considering the fact that Aunt Flo is unreliable and unpredictable. Not to mention MEAN, and has a tendency to overstay her welcome. The new app, however, has me listed at 7 days late. Suddenly…I’m scared. What if I’m pregnant?

This is great news!! So…why am I so scared? I want to be pregnant again so desperately…but fear has a solid grip on my heart, my stomach, and my mind.

I looked into my husband’s eyes and said, “I can’t lose another one.” I’ve prayed over my womb, “Please Lord! Let me be pregnant.” The fear is slowly sinking it’s ugly claws into my soul. I know I’m not alone. I watched as tears came to my husband’s eyes, and I heard him choke back an agreement.

I say I’m not going to buy a single pregnancy test—of any kind. I’m afraid. How can I be so afraid of something I want so desperately? The want and desire for another child has ingrained itself into my heart and soul.

Fear of loss is always the first thought that comes to mind. The second thought doesn’t even become a fear immediately. Fear might even be the wrong word.

By the time I’ve gotten the courage to take a pregnancy test at home, I’ve got a doctors appointment the next day and I’ve made up my mind that I’m pregnant. My fear is gone and I’m looking at my expected due date. I’m looking at Pinterest for announcement ideas, gender reveal parties, and baby shower themes.

This time around, I’m not playing any games! I pull out a digital pregnancy test and I check the directions ensuring that I’ve followed them perfectly. I want to make sure there are no errors and no wrong turns. I cut off the bathroom light, shut the door behind me and pace around my kitchen.

This is when the fear slowly creeps back up. It’s positive. Right? I mean…it’s gotta be! But…what if it isn’t? No. No way. It’s definitely positive. Three minutes later I’m tired of arguing with myself and I enter my bathroom timidly. There I am, standing alone in my master bathroom; a grown woman scared of a stick covered in my own pee. My back is flat against the closed door, staring at my sink. I’ve never walked so slowly in my life. Each step brings me closer to the test. I get close enough to see the digital words showing my results.

NOT PREGNANT. Again.

My reaction varies each time this happens. Some months I just place the test in the trash and go about my day. Today, my reaction wasn’t so…mature. I turned my back to that cussed urine filled stick of disappointment and let out a deep grow/scream full of frustration! I turned around (still growl/screaming), grabbed the test and threw it as hard as I could at the bathroom trash can. To add insult to injury, it bounced right back out.

Eventually, I’m going to have to learn to follow my own advice and take my problems as they come. Just because I faced pregnancy loss in the past doesn’t mean it will happen again. Worrying will only stress me out and cause more problems if I am pregnant. Like my husband said, in his infinite wisdom, “Don’t worry about that. We’ll face it IF it comes. Not before.” When will I learn to give to God and let go? What’s meant to happen will happen. I have to move forward no matter the outcome- positive or negative, loss or successful birth.

There are positives here. I don’t quite know what they are right now but hopefully I’ll see them fully tomorrow.

“I am learning to trust the journey even when I do not understand it.”

~Mila Bron

The Mask That Protects My Anxiety Broke.

Worry is my worst enemy… an enemy I unleash upon myself.” ~ Terri Guillemets

Anxiety has always been a part of my life. I’ve always been a bit neurotic. Hence, the title My Aberrant Life! I was even diagnosed this way as a teenager.

Everybody experiences anxiety from time to time. It’s human nature and it’s imbedded in us neurologically for survival. Some of us experience anxiety more often than we should; such as during times of rest when there is no real threat.

You know what anxiety feels like, right? We’ve all been there before. For me, anxiety builds; sometimes slowly, and sometimes quickly. It starts with shortness of breath (I feel like I can’t breathe), my heart is racing, I become restless, my hands start to shake, I get a headache, my chest hurts, there is flutters and a tightening of my throat and stomach. The anxiety attack can get so bad that it turns into a panic attack and then I honestly don’t know what to do because I’m lost and I feel like I’m going to die of a heart attack.

I’ve gotten so good at control over the years that my husband rarely saw any anxiety. He knew I had panic attacks. Especially, before doctors appointments. Ive learned how to mask a lot of things. I mask the amount of pain I am in, most days. The mask I wear to hid my pain is the same mask I use to mask my anxiety. I guess you would call that control. I am ashamed of both of them so, I hide them and any neurotic thoughts I might have.

I’ve learned to control some of my neurotic tendencies. What does it mean to be neurotic, you ask? According to WebMD, neurotic means “afflicted with neurosis”. In basic terms, it’s an anxiety disorder. “At it’s root, a neurotic behavior is an automatic unconscious effort to manage deep anxiety” (WebMD History of Neurosis). The anxiety a neurotic person experiences is different from the anxiety that is considered normal. It’s more intense and obsessive and becomes an integral part of how a person deals with everyday life. It’s the thought patterns that usually get me. I try not to be negative, feel guilty, be irritable, or moody. It helps that my husband is the complete opposite of me. Because of him, I’ve balanced out a great deal.

The truth is, though, that I feel anxious more often than I should. There are times that I can be sitting on the couch, watching TV, and suddenly I’m beginning to have an anxiety attack. I feel like I’m forgetting something. What did I forget to do? I know that there is nothing that I am forgetting nor is there anything that needs to be done with a deadline. So what in the world is it that I’m forgetting that is so important that I am freaking out internally? I think my anxiety is such a deeply ingrained part of me that a single unconscious thought can bring on an anxiety attack. My house is a mess. This is too much for me to do alone. It will cause a flare up and I’ll be in so much pain tomorrow that I can’t function. Part of me doesn’t necessarily feel like this is a negative thought, but it really is and it brings on pure panic.

As these thoughts go through my head, I’m sitting on the couch, freaking out mentally, and my husband is none the wiser. The whole time I’m just taking slow deep breaths, and acting normal. I keep going hoping for relief. I may tell him how I feel. Until my recent doctors’ appointment, I don’t know how much he really knew.

Human interaction is difficult for me as well. I always feel so awkward. I never really know how to act like a “normal” person. I can run across an old classmate in the grocery store and before the conversation is over, I’m already anxious because for some unknown reason, I feel awkward. Did I say too much? Was it too much personal information? Did I come off as weird? My anxiety makes me feel like I am the butt of every joke, that people will start laughing at me the moment I leave. It all makes me doubt my self-worth, my intelligence, my talents, and even my sanity.

I even struggle after visiting my own family, and even my husbands family. I don’t have many friends for this same reason. My anxiety has me convinced that everyone hates me and is talking about me. It leads me to doubting the people around me. Sending text messages is painful. What do I say? They haven’t responded! Ugh! Why do I bother? I always believe that the worst is going to happen. Anxiety is imbedded into my psyche. I have no idea what to do with compliments. Are they legitimate? Is it mocking me? How do I respond if it’s a true compliment?! I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about what I did, should have done and if a certain situation occurs what I would do in the future. Not to mention the thoughts about the next day. Washing the dishes, doing laundry, cleaning the house, finances, my daughters school work, will I be able to do that painting, things I need for said painting, and so on, and so on forever.

I’ve told you about my everyday anxiety. But what about those situations that lead me into straight panic attacks? I’ve never really done well before any doctors’ appointment. Gynecologists are the worst really. I’ve seen some who treated me like I was crazy, or seeking pain medication. I’ve been dismissed countless times. When every ounce of your pain is physically real, and doctor after doctor tells you that they can’t help you, or that the pain you feel is in your head (because there’s no such thing as pain that keeps you from doing every day activities) you start to doubt yourself. You start to distrust the people in the medical profession. The exams doctors have to perform on me…on women in general…are so painful! Not to mention I believe I have PTSD from my first exam.

I was 14. I had the doctor between my legs, my mother above my head holding my hands and shoulders, and a nurse at each leg holding them apart. I was shaking, crying, screaming, and terrified. I felt humiliated. The pain was so intense. Nowadays, I try to take myself somewhere else mentally each time. My husband has to help me through these attacks before every doctors’ appointment. Even though I am at the point of knowing what’s going to happen with most of my doctors now, because I have an established relationship with them, I still feel some level of anxiety beforehand.

I recently went to a new doctor; a Rheumatologist. This is where my husband got to hear what I’ve been struggling with. I know that’s why he always comes with me. I think that he wants to make sure he is always clued in to where I am mentally, emotionally, and physically. Before this appointment I obsessed over what this doctor was going to do, what tests he would run, whether he would take me seriously or not. I’ve been dismissed by so many doctors that I almost can’t function in a realistic way before appointments with new doctors.

This Rheumatologist was friendly, patient, and openminded. He agreed that anxiety was a problem I was facing. He did bloodwork and a physical examination where he concluded that I also suffered from Fibromyalgia. His solution? Tai Chi and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a knowledgeable licensed therapist.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
~ Maya Angelou

For me, I know it’s the way I think. It’s the past, trying to scratch its ugly way into my content present-life. We all can change some aspect of our life for the better. Anxiety when there is so present danger, at times of rest in our life, is a signal that something isn’t right, even if we can’t identify it. It could be a chemical imbalance, or something in your life that needs a change: a toxic relationship, leaving a job or finding a new one, maybe it’s lack of spirituality, or a need for meditation or an increase in exercise.

“I just give myself permission to suck. I find this hugely liberating.”

~ John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars

I know I am safe. I need to remind myself daily that it’s okay to relax. Nothing is really wrong. It’s time for me to truly not care about what others think of me. Fear and worry are distractions that do not come from God. If I am honestly a Christian woman then the Bible is my guidebook.

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

~ Joshua 1:9 NLT

The Bible speaks about fear, anxiety, and worry 365 times, maybe more. It’s a myth that it states “do not fear” 365 times. The Bible refers to ways of helping us cope with fear, anxiety, and worry. The main goal is letting us know that God doesn’t want us to struggle with anxiety and He is there for us every single day of the year and throughout our lifetime.

“Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dealing with anxiety means we are human. It’s going to be okay. This moment of worry, fear, panic, and anxiety will pass. You are not alone.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

~ Matthew 6:34 NLT

100 Life Rules for My Daughter

“I hope that my daughter grows up empowered and doesn’t define herself by the way she looks but by qualities that make her an intelligent, strong and responsible woman.” ~Isaiah Mustafa

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There are so many things I hope to teach my daughter. I keep a journal where I write to her as often as I can. I guess my goal is that she will have something left of me, whenever I leave this world. Something she can go to often and hear my voice as she reads words written in my handwriting. I’ve been thinking of lessons and things that would make her life easier if she had someone actually tell her. Like a life manual. Who wouldn’t want that? So, I’m going to share it with you. Even though these are for my daughter I think anyone can take something away from each of these rules. So let’s begin!

  1. Find friends who make you a better person. True friends love you for you. They support you, make you feel good, challenge you to be a better person. True friends never make you feel less than a whole person. Make sure you are choosing the kind of friends who will lift you up and influence you in a good way, and bend over backwards to keep them. We are the sum of the 5 people that we spend the most time with, and so make sure you’re keeping friends who will sway you TOWARDS Jesus and not away from him. If a friend isn’t like this, let them go! There are billions of wonderful people in the world, so don’t waste time on anyone who makes you feel otherwise.
  2. Comparisons Kill. It’s unhealthy. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. We are all different and those differences make us special and unique. We can learn from each other’s differences. I think that is the whole point.
  3. Make lists. It’ll help you stay organized. It feels good to cross items off when they are done and you will feel like you have accomplished something.
  4. Step out of your comfort zone. Staying in your comfort zone will prevent you from reaching your goals. You have to move out of it to grow and learn.
  5. Be an adventurous eater. Try new foods often. Expand your tastes.
  6. Never judge a book by its cover. It’s the inside, the content, and heart of a person that matters. A lot of times we can’t look deeper than the surface and aren’t aware of the struggles a person is going through.
  7. Most people in the world will pre-judge you, based solely on your appearance. You don’t get a second chance to correct a bad first impression. So make it count! Take pride in your appearance. Keep your hair clean and tidy. Wash your face! Bathe regularly (I have a seven year old…I’m hoping this won’t have to be a reminder as she gets older)! Make sure your clothes are neat and that they match.
  8. The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Be kind and compassionate and try to understand where they’re coming from. There will always be people you like and dislike. Learn how to get along with people.
  9. Read and study the Bible. It has an answer to every problem you will ever have. (2 Timothy 3: 16-17)
  10. Don’t be a people pleaser! You will find that you will never be happy. Learn when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. Do what’s right, whether it’s popular or unpopular.
  11. Live alone once in your life. It’s good for you to spend time by yourself. This is really the only way to get to know yourself in a way that no other experience can offer. When you live with other people you have to conform and compromise the things in your life so that you all get along. There may be rules that you disagree with. Plus, when you live alone you can walk around in your underwear without causing an up-roar!
  12. Don’t complain. Be a problem solver, not a whiner. When you don’t like the way things are going, figure out a way to change them. Your life is in your own hands and in your own control.
  13. Admit when you’ve made a mistake. It’s called accountability. Take responsibility for your actions. No one can make you do anything you don’t want to or shouldn’t do (unless they have a gun to your head, you know what I mean?). Don’t blame your mistakes on anyone else.
  14. Don’t make excuses. Own up to your mistakes! (See above!) If you don’t want to do something, be honest. Just simply say, “I can’t”, or “That doesn’t work for me”, or you can simply say, “No”. If you get into the habit of making up an excuse as to why you can’t go or why you can’t do something, you risk getting caught in a lie. You also are causing yourself unnecessary anxiety. Just be honest.
  15. Never lie to yourself or anyone else. Honesty is the best policy. In most situations. The painful truth is better than a messy lie and lies do get messy. There are times when little white lies can make a pass. Those are situational and you will learn through life when to use those correctly. However, I appreciate honesty, even when I ask if those pair of jeans, or if this shirt, or this dress, looks good on me. I don’t want to leave the house looking horrible, or even worse…fat! Tell me!
  16. “Can’t” is a cop-out. Just try. Never be afraid of failure; true greatness is only achieved by learning from our mistakes, failure is one the life’s greatest teachers. As long as we listen, learn and progress forward, then the only failure is not trying.
  17. Ask for help. You’ll learn and grow.
  18. People are not perfect. You are going to be disappointed more often than not.
  19. Forgiveness is imperative. Forgiveness is the only way to really let go of anger and to be happy. Forgive, even if they don’t apologize. If you hold on to grudges or to anger and hurt, it’s like drinking poison thinking that it will kill the other person.
  20. Be grateful. Show your gratitude to others and to God.
  21. Don’t break promises. If you make a promise, keep it. It will break the trust you have built with people who are really important to you.
  22. Don’t be passive aggressive. That’s immature. If you have a problem with someone, to straight to that person and talk to them about it. Don’t make snide comments or give them the silent treatment. Act like an adult.
  23. Good Communication skills are important. It’s the basis for every healthy, strong relationship you will ever have; from work relationships, to friendships and especially intimate, romantic relationships.
  24. Make eye contact. If a person is talking to you, stop what you are doing and make eye contact with them. This lets them know you are listening and engaged. People appreciate this. You would want the same treatment.
  25. If people are talking about you behind your back (bad mouthed or name called) just smile. This just means that you are doing something right. Insecure and jealous people result to verbal personal attacks and insults.
  26. Write in a journal. It will help you remember things. It’s like free therapy as well. You can get all the thoughts out of your head and onto paper, so you don’t sit and think about negative things. You can keep different journals for different things. Write down all the negative thoughts so you can be rid of them. Don’t go back and read anything in this journal. You write and forget! In another, you can write down all the positive thoughts so you can re-read them over again to keep you going.
  27. Pray, and pray often. God is faithful but we need reminders of his faithfulness when it gets hard to remember. Keep a prayer journal, so you can look back and see how He has answered them.
  28. Find a good Christian therapist. There is nothing wrong with having someone to talk to. Everyone can benefit from therapy. You will learn more about yourself, learn how to process emotions and deal with life experiences in a more healthy way. It’ll help correct all the damage your father and I did as new parents trying to raise you. It’s okay. We understand.
  29. Realize that you are not going to change that person. Only God can change them and they have to want to change and be willing to work for it. But pay attention and be wary; if they hurt you before, they will do it again and again.
  30. Wash your sheets every week and make your bed every day! Even if it is right before you get in it. There is something wonderful about clean sheets and a freshly made bed.
  31. Don’t skimp on good sheets. Remember that the higher the thread count the softer the sheet, and the more likely it will wear well or even soften over time. Go for anything over 400.
  32. Don’t wear holey or dirty underwear. Just in case you are in an accident and they have to cut your clothes off….
  33. Travel light through life. Keep only what your need. Material things are replaceable and in the end you can’t take it with you.
  34. It’s okay to cry when you are hurt. It’s also okay to smash things, throw things, and do a primal scream (in private, of course). Just be sure to wash your face, clean up the mess, and get up off the floor when you are done. You don’t belong down there.
  35. If you are going to curse, be clever. Know what you are saying. Use the words correctly. If you are going to curse around other people, know your audience. In other words, try not to cuss in front of small children, or your grandparents. Or me.
  36. Happiness isn’t a permanent state. Happiness comes and goes in life. However, if you can find wholeness, then you will find that to be permanent. Try not to confuse happiness and wholeness. They are different. Wholeness brings peace, and contentment. It’s much better than happiness.
  37. Remember your P’s and Q’s. Say “Please”, “thank you”, and “pardon me” whenever the situation warrants it. Also, we are southern; this means we say “sir” and “ma’am” when addressing our elders.
  38. Reserve “I’m sorry” for when you truly are. Never, ever, ever follow “I’m sorry” with “but”. It negates the apology and makes you sound insincere.
  39. If you have an opinion you better know why. Be able to defend your opinions. Don’t just throw out words or opinions with no references to back it up.
  40. Question everything. Always ask questions. Trust only your intuition.
  41. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  42. Ask for what you want. The worst thing they can say is no. Rejection isn’t the end of the world.
  43. Everything is always okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.
  44. Most things you worry about never happen. We have a tendency to replay things in our head. We worry about the worst things that could possibly happen. But they rarely do. Things work out. No matter how hard things are at that moment…things change like lightning. Always find the rainbow and silver lining.
  45. Wish on stars and dandelions. It’s important to wish and dream. But don’t be idle. You have to go after them for them to come true. Only you can make your dreams come true.
  46. Nothing in life is free. Nothing in life is easy. Nothing will be handed to you. Everything in life comes with a price and must be worked for. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, and don’t be afraid of working for what you want.
  47. Be generous. Stuff is just stuff. People and relationships are what life is about. Give freely when others are in need without expecting anything in return. This will bring you amazing karma, life you up out of depression or sadness. You will see that not everything is about you and that your situation isn’t as bad as you thought.
  48. Walk away from drama. Drama and strife are everywhere, especially among girls and women. You do not have to take part in any of it. It will make things so much more difficult. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t tell tales or spread gossip. Be a light, a breath of fresh air.
  49. Don’t gossip. Never say anything behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face. If you wouldn’t tell Jane that her haircut is horrible, her acne makes her look like the surface of the moon, and that her over bite that makes her look like a horse…don’t say it to a “friend”. That friend will tell someone else who will then tell Jane what you said. Imagine that confrontation.
  50. No one likes a know-it-all. It’s okay to be smart. But understand that you don’t know everything. Be open to the opinions and suggestions of other people.
  51. Be an example worth following. You never know who is watching and looking up to you.
  52. Learn something from every one you meet. Every human being has something to teach you. You don’t have to let everyone into your private bubble (life) but you can extend love to them and learn from their life lessons.
  53. You are no one’s savior. Be a friend, an inspiration. Love people and lend them an ear, listen and show acceptance, but leave the saving to Jesus.
  54. Fight when necessary. There will be times in your life when you have to stand up for something you believe in. You should have ideals worth fighting for and you should not be afraid to defend them.
  55. Use your library card. Reading is fun and a great way to escape and relax. It’ll also make you a better writer.
  56. Live in the present and constantly look forward. Dwelling on the past and staring in the rear-view mirror will only lead to a crash. You can’t move forward looking in reverse…or even worse, at a standstill, beaten up in a crash of thoughts and emotions from things you can’t change. Look forward to things that haven’t happened yet and the things that you can control.
  57. Research every person running for office, yourself. Find out how they voted in the past. Watch their interviews. Listen to their answers and their body language and micro-facial expressions. Look up what they have done in their prior positions. What they have said and done in the past will dictate how they will be once they are elected. Follow your own opinion. Don’t be influenced by anyone else.
  58. Who you vote for is a private thing. You don’t have to tell anyone who you vote for. During any election…for any position. It’s your right to vote how you want and your right to keep it to yourself. People will judge you based on how you vote politically. So just play your cards close to your chest. Don’t even talk politics at work or through any venue when working with the public. You can alienate people without even meaning to.
  59. Learn how to take care of yourself financially and physically. Learn to clean, cook, sew, do your own laundry, and take care of your car. Learn how to defend yourself physically and verbally. Learn how to handle, care for, and shoot a gun. Learn how to hunt. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Learn how to balance a checkbook. Learn how to read and write in cursive.
  60. Read Proverbs 31 10-31 which offers a picture of a Godly woman. She is active and assertive, strong and capable. She makes things happen. She’s a hard worker, she’s kind, her words are used wisely, she takes care of her family, and she fears and loves the Lord.
  61. A good man isn’t threatened by a strong, independent, intelligent woman. In fact, he is looking for one and will respect and cherish her. A good man will treat his woman as an equal.
  62. Before committing to a relationship, watch how he treats a waiter, a valet, and especially his mother. Watch how he treats people who are serving you. If he is kind and tips well…then you are on the right track. But if he is rude to servers and doesn’t tip when he should, then you need to move on. The same goes with his mother. If he is kind and respectful to his mother then there’s a good chance he will treat you and other women similarly. If he is just plain rude and disrespectful to his mother, RUN!
  63. Know your worth. If a friend or boy isn’t willing to treat you like the beloved daughter of God, that you are, then run away. Don’t settle for less just to avoid being alone. There are worse things than being alone. One of them is being in a relationship and still feeling alone. That’s even worse. At least when you are alone you can be happy.
  64. Don’t rely on someone else to make you happy. If you’re not happy now, you won’t be happy with a boyfriend, with a husband, with a child, with a new cat, or even new shoes. Be happy with yourself. Learn to love yourself and Jesus and the things you already have. If you can’t love yourself and be happy with yourself you will never be happy with someone else. You can’t find love if you don’t love yourself first.
  65. Marry someone who makes you laugh. Marry someone who is fun to be around. If you can’t laugh together, you will never weather the storm of life together. Get to know him so well that you can take one look at him and just know if something has happened, if he is upset, or if he is hurt. Know him so well that you have inside jokes and never explain them to anyone else.
  66. Don’t keep secrets from your husband.
  67. The most beautiful quality a woman can have is confidence.
  68. Parents don’t know everything. Once you have your own children you will understand this better. We do have more experience and because of that you should listen to us, but we are still learning. Be patient with us.
  69. Before you decide to drink alcohol, try marijuana, or smoke cigarettes, you need to know about them; their side effects, what they do to the body, and most importantly, why you want to try it. Peer pressure is inevitable. But it’s not a good reason to start doing something that could be potentially dangerous, and puts you in a vulnerable situation. Once you start you need to know the dangers, and how you will look and act while under the influence. The people who are with you may not be the most trust worthy. They may not look out for your safety. Personally, cigarettes are addictive and dangerous. They smell and you will smell. Nothing good will come from them. Been there, done that. Believe me when I say…avoid it.
  70. Never walk through an alley. There are no cameras and it’s just plain dangerous.
  71. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drive under the influence of anything.
  72. If you go to a party and you are the only female, leave! Even if you have a female friend with you…Leave! If you go to a party and there are way more men than women, and there are drugs and alcohol present, then you can’t possibly be safe. You will be taken advantage of and you need to leave immediately.
  73. Love is an action, not just a word. Only by the way someone treats you, how they show you they love you, will you know if it’s true. Judge by behavior, not words. Lying, doesn’t equate to love. Love is kind, understanding, and supportive. It’s positive. You and your spouse will argue, but if you can communicate openly, and calmly, you will make it through.
  74. True love is about affection, selflessness, and generosity. If these qualities aren’t there, neither should you be. Loneliness, re-enacting the past, outside pressure, or shared friends, aren’t reasons to stay with someone.
  75. Abuse comes in many forms; know them and avoid relationships with them. If he ever lays a hand on you, he will do it again and again. If he puts you down, degrades you, controls what you do, makes you stay away from your own friends and family, then he is an abuser. There is physical abuse, but people forget about mental, emotional, and verbal abuse. Those take longer to heal from than bruises and broken bones. Be strong enough and smart enough to know when a relationship is toxic.
  76. People aren’t mind readers. Say what you feel and be confident in your decisions. Communication is a two way street. Listen to others when they speak. Don’t interrupt. Communication is the basis for a strong relationship of any kind.
  77. It’s important to love your job. Make your passion your career.
  78. Debt is soul crushing. It is one thing to get a loan for a car, or a home, but make sure you can pay the payment every month. Avoid credit cards and other forms of debt. If you need to get a student loan…make sure you KNOW what you are going to school for and that you will be able to USE that degree or you’ll have debt for what feels like the rest of your life, that you can’t get out from under.
  79. Start saving money with your first job; make saving habitual. It doesn’t matter what your first job is, the moment you start earning money of any kind, you should start saving. You may not think that it is important but no one will pay you when you turn 65 but you. And if you have no money by then, well, you’re screwed.
  80. Save a little of your paycheck towards your “nest egg”. It may be only $1 at a time in the beginning but that nest egg will allow you to quit that insane job that you hate, or have money for any emergency that may come around. It could grow to be there for your retirement. It’s important to have so that you aren’t so worried about going from paycheck to paycheck.
  81. Be aware of washing labels. Check the tags in your clothes. They will tell you the best way in which to wash that particular piece of clothing. It will also tell you what material it is made from, which will help if you need to iron it. Learn to iron. It sucks…but it’s important.
  82. Buy generic whenever possible. Here’s the thing…most generic brands are either identical in their ingredients or at least very similar to their name brand competitors. You pay more for the name brand even though they are identical; you are essentially paying for the name. However, this being said, there are certain brands that you just have to buy name brand. Q-tips…always buy name brand Q-tips.
  83. Stay true to you when you start dating, and you “fall in love”. You aren’t in love. You are infatuated. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s normal. It happens at the beginning of every relationship. It’s intense. Just know that you don’t have to change who you are when you are around him, or even when you aren’t around him. Don’t fall out of sync with who you are because you have fallen for a guy. Keep your friends, interests and alone time. These are all important too.
  84. Most fairy tales were written by men, at a different time, for a different audience. They aren’t realistic. There is no prince charming, no fairy god-mother, and you don’t need a man to come to your rescue. Don’t model your life, your love life especially, after fairy tales.
  85. Just because you are dating him doesn’t mean you will marry him. Sorry! The truth is that you will do a lot of dating. You will date different guys. You may fall in love more than once. Dating gives you an idea of what you want in a partner and in a relationship.
  86. The older you are the more likely chance of you having a successful marriage. You can’t control when you meet the one you will marry. When you are young you change and grow. You aren’t stable financially and the things you want in life are going to change. When you are older, in your twenties for example, you are more set in what you want. The same goes for him. There is a better chance that you two will want the same thing.
  87. Friends make the best spouses. Friendship is the greatest basis for a romantic relationship. The person you fall in love with should be a good friend. They will already know you well, and with friendship comes a loving, caring, relationship.
  88. Break-ups suck. There is no way around them. At some point, the pain will subside and you will feel better. Just learn from the experience and know that I’m here for you…with chocolate and brownies and ice-cream!
  89. If you are being ghosted (you haven’t heard from them after a date), move on. If you went out with someone and you really like them but they haven’t returned any calls, text messages, or they break plans over and over, then move on. They are trying to tell you, without having to actually tell you, that they aren’t interested. They aren’t worth it anyways and you can do better.
  90. Don’t text and drive. Don’t text and drive and don’t talk on the phone and drive. If you have a hands free device, make sure you use it properly. Don’t take your eyes off the road.
  91. If you are going to break up with someone do it kindly, thoughtfully, and quickly.
  92. If you break up with someone, don’t leave it open ended. Make sure that it is clear that the relationship is over.
  93. Don’t break up digitally. Text messaging and Direct and Instant Messaging are great, but not for breaking up. Don’t break up with someone through text, DM or IM, or voicemail. It’s just cruel. Do it face to face. Sometimes this isn’t possible and break-ups can happen quickly. So don’t beat yourself up if you end up breaking up digitally.
  94. Avoid name calling and insults. Words are hard to take back once they’ve been thrown out in anger.
  95. Have boundaries and know what your deal breakers are. Once you start a relationship you need to make it clear what your boundaries are and what you want, like, and dislike. Make sure they know them, they understand them, and they agree to them.
  96. Your body, your rules. Don’t rush into a physical relationship. If you aren’t ready to have sex, don’t let some boy try to manipulate you into it. If he tells you he “loves you and that if you love him you’ll do it”, or “everyone else is doing it”, it’s a lie! If he truly loved you, he would wait for you to be ready, and he would understand and be patient. There would be no lies and manipulative ploys to get into your pants. Love isn’t necessarily a reason, or even an excuse, to have sex. You need to be mature enough to handle the consequences of sex. There’s pregnancy and STD’s out there which are permanent, and difficult to deal with, and not worth a few moments of pleasure.
  97. Know your body. There are so many reasons for this. It will help you now when something is wrong, health wise. It will also help you when you are ready for an intimate relationship. You will know what you like and don’t like and you will be able to tell your spouse.
  98. You don’t just marry him. When you get married, you also marry his family. So get to know them well, BEFORE you actually marry him. Try and build a relationship with your in-laws before the wedding. They can make your life better or they can make your life miserable. Either way, they will be a part of your life and you may need them at some point. Accept any kindness, help, and generosity, with grace.
  99. No matter what, remember that you can always come home.
  100. No one loves you like your father and I do. We will always be here for you. We love you unconditionally.

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Mommy’s a Grumpy Menstruator

I’ve been expecting it for days. I’ve been grumpy, grouchy, bitchy, hungry, sleepy, weepy, achy…you know, ALL the dwarves of menstruation. This morning I felt amazing. Too amazing… I should have been more suspicious, really. How often do I feel THAT GOOD?

It was just a normal bathroom break, or so I thought. The moment I see that flash of red, I have an immediate physical reaction. Maybe it’s psychosomatic or maybe the pain is legitimate. I don’t really know. Honestly, I don’t think it matters. Pain is pain and I definitely felt pain.

Along with Aunt Flo dropping by in her usual unwelcome fashion, I felt just plain icky. Let’s make that another dwarf of menstruation: Icky! I laid in bed and wished for sleep, relief, or a quick painless death. Seeing as I’m writing this instead, I guess you can see I received none of the above!

No matter how hard I try, Aunt Flo just annoys me. Everyone I love gets the short end of the stick for a week…or a week and a half…sometimes more depending on how bad my pre-Aunt Flo experience is (PMS in case my mediphors and euphemisms aren’t landing clearly…after all, Aunt Flo brings brain fog in her carryon).

Hormones are an amazing aspect of the inner workings of the human body. They do amazing things. They tend to make me feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They also turn me into the female version of the Hulk.

If you follow the Marvel Comics you’ll understand where I am coming from. While I say I feel like a female Hulk, I am no Jennifer Walters (the She-Hulk). Bruce Banner’s cousin retains her personality and is impervious to pain and disease, though strong emotion does makes her stronger.

Hormones don’t make me a superhero. It’s disappointing, I know. Whatever message they are transmitting through my body only succeed in making me grumpy once a month. My wonderful daughter uses seven year old speak, and says “Mommy’s grumpy”.

Sigh…Ugh….Yes, Mommy is a grumpy menstruator. I need to gather the eight dwarves that are hounding me and somehow make them more happy: chirpy, jolly, lively, merry, peppy, pretty, easy. If I can manage that, then maybe I do have superpowers.

“Feeling sorry for ourselves is the most useless waste of energy on the planet. It does absolutely no good. We can’t let our circumstances or what others do or don’t do control us. We can decide to be happy regardless.” ~ Joyce Meyer

Honestly, though, I am no different than any other woman, once a month. Aren’t we all just grumpy menstruators? My illnesses intensify the symptoms that are present for most women. I guess I have a right to just be grumpy! How I handle my mood changes is something that needs work. I guess I should strive to be less Mr. Hyde and more Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk. What’s the word? Oh yes, control!

“All I can control is myself and just keep having a positive attitude.” ~ Rose Namajunas

I’m an Artist at Heart

“An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” ~ Charles Horton Cooley

I’m an artist at heart. I don’t paint often anymore. So when I got the chance to paint and have my art seen, I jumped at the chance! I’ve learned a few things about myself in just a few days of painting.

I completely zone out. It’s me, the paint, the canvas, and music. While this produces wonderful results it also has led me to be snippy for being interrupted.

I can ignore pain, but only for so long. If I’m already in pain, it’s difficult for me to paint. I can do it but, I have to take a lot of breaks. I have to take care of myself. If I feel okay, then painting for any significant amount of time causes me to have pain. I will even swell.

I seem to become obsessive as I paint. I want to finish the painting I’m on before I move on to the next. But I also get stuck in the middle. I doubt myself and any talent I may have. So… I force myself to take a break and walk away.

If you have ever seen the movie “Clueless”, then you will understand my next statement. Photographs don’t lie. They don’t play a trick on you like your eyes will. If I take a picture of my work, and walk away for a bit, I can refer back to my picture and see if my proportions are correct.

I miss painting! I miss creating artwork tremendously. I don’t know if I will be able to produce 6 paintings…I’m going to try! So far I have one completed…and one almost done. I’ll make sure to share them with you, along with my experience of this whole ordeal.

If I am successful with these paintings, maybe I will get the courage to do more. I used to do graphite and charcoal drawings all the time. I originally started my college career in fine arts. Endometriosis and my exceptionally illegal social life ended that line of study for me. It’s one of my HUGE regrets in life. So I am classically trained but mostly self taught.

If I can do this…going through all that I have to deal with…I know I can do anything.

Part 3: The Most Frustrating Aspects of My Chronic Disease

“I have a wild spirit and a less abled body, experiences don’t match up sometimes but I like to think I aspire to live large despite my limitations, out of my control.” ~ Nikki Rowe

I have many symptoms and there are many different aspects to my chronic illness. I took some time and really thought about my everyday life. I wrote down every single thing that I felt, and this is where I will tell you about each one and define what they are and why they are so flipping frustrating! The ones I have listed here are the ones I suffer from the most and the ones that are the most difficult to deal with, not only during flare ups but during a normal day.

I’ll start with Brain fog. I forget things often and easily. I write things down, move things to the counter so I will hopefully remember them, but I will still forget. I will be mid-sentence and forget what I was saying. I will forget words. I will stutter over words. I’ve walked into rooms and forgotten what I came in there for.

Brain Fog…It makes you feel stupid AND crazy.

I have difficulty completing tasks. I will be 34 in September, and I need help doing things that most people take for granted. I need help getting in and out of the tub, getting dressed, cooking, cleaning, and running errands. Sometimes I’m so tired from showering and drying my hair that my husband has had to flat iron my hair for me. He’ll help me put my bra on, and my socks. I have to sit down and take a break in the middle of washing the dishes. These are things that should be easy for people my age to do.

Because of having difficulty completing tasks, I also have a fear of certain tasks. Sometimes showering scares me. Standing for too long is painful and it uses too much energy. I need help and by the time all is said and done I’m exhausted and my pain level is through the roof.

I have bowel and urinary issues. I fluctuate between constipation and diarrhea. Movements are painful and I’ve yelled out and cried in pain. It feels like labor at times. I also have trouble passing urine sometimes. I will have to push really hard to pee. I also experience frequent urination, where I pee a lot.

Due to the bowel issues I also experience bowel swelling. I will swell in my abdomen and I will look 6 months pregnant. It’s so painful and uncomfortable. I live in big shirts and leggings. This isn’t just physically painful; it’s emotionally painful. We are trying to conceive and most people know this. So if I go out and I have endo belly going on, people have actually asked me how far along I am in my pregnancy. Then I feel like I have to explain everything; which can be pretty darn depressing, let me tell ya.

Endometriosis causes pain in the worst places. I have abdominal pain, pelvic pain, and pain in my lower back, pain running down my legs, hip pain, and pain in my sides.

Due to the endometriosis, I have a lot of abdominal pain. But that’s not the only pain I have. I also have pain with intercourse. Sex has become painful; even becoming aroused hurts. This particular symptom is frustrating because it makes trying to conceive difficult.

I also have migraines. My migraines get so bad that I end up with projectile vomiting. I see spots before the migraine sets in. I have sensitivity to sound and light. They are sometimes hormonal and get worse around ovulation and my period. They last for a couple days. It’s one of the things that become hard to recover from. I recently had a migraine that lasted four days. I was throwing up by day three. I was throwing up so hard that I was throwing up blood. I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink since day two of the migraine. I was dry heaving by the time I got in to see my doctor on day three. I received a shot of Nubain and Phenergan that helped some. By day four, I still had a headache and so I took 6 Excedrin. I was dehydrated and had a Urinary Tract Infection. There is a difference between a headache and a migraine. I have a headache almost daily. I get migraines a couple times a week.

I have nausea on a regular basis. I never know when I am going to feel like throwing up. It keeps me from eating whenever it decides to pop up. I don’t know when it will happen. It has gotten so bad that I do end up vomiting.

My weight fluctuates. I lose weight and gain weight randomly. Usually do to the hormone and chemotherapy treatments I am put on. I don’t eat much and I stay nauseated so the weight gain is the hardest to understand. I need to lose weight and dieting and exercising is difficult for me. When I do lose weight, it is due to medication; which means that I gain it right back.

Recently, I have discovered a new frustration among symptoms. Due to the chemotherapy and hormone therapy, I have a decreased bone density. This has caused weaker bones, weaker teeth, and teeth that are more susceptible to cavities, breaking, and other problems. I take care of my teeth and have very good dental hygiene but the chemotherapy has caused my teeth to break.  

I am clumsy. I always have been. I fall a lot, drop things. It’s due to a number of factors; pain, headaches, leg numbness, and even my medication can make me clumsy.

I suffer from extreme fatigue and exhaustion. There are days that I am so exhausted that I can’t stay awake. I fall asleep at random times. I could sleep all night but still be so tired all day. It feels like bricks have been tied to my legs, arms, and eyelids.

Like all women I have mood swings. Pain makes me snappy. Sometimes the medication causes me to be more emotional than I normally would be. Some of the fertility drugs that I have been on have turned me into a completely different person.

Certain foods cause me to have a flare up. Dairy causes gas, bloating, nausea, diarrhea and pain. Certain wines, beer, and wine-coolers can give me a headache. It’s 50/50 whether or not I’ll be able to finish a drink when I make it half way through.

Strong emotions cause flare ups. Anger is one emotion that I have had to learn to control. Once the adrenaline wears off, I am in excruciating pain that could last all day or longer. Crying causes a migraine which can last a day or more.

Stress affects everyone but it really affects those of us with chronic pain. Stress isn’t good for anyone. I know for me it will send my body into a downward spiral of pain. It also makes all these other symptoms I’ve listed erupt.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but cancelling plans because one of these symptoms has taken over my life or I have fallen into a deep flare up and my body has decided to change my plans for me. I hate this! I used to be a pretty reliable, but that is a thing of the past now.

Lastly, and maybe one of the most frustrating symptoms of endometriosis is a heavy painful period. Honestly, I know that most people don’t want to hear this but my periods are so heavy that I am anemic. I have to take iron to keep myself from being hospitalized. There have been mornings that I woke up looking like I murdered someone in my bed while I slept. The bathroom is no different when I need to shower. There have been times I needed to clean the bathroom floor after the shower because I took too long to dry off.

This is my life. I live with these frustrations daily. I’ve kind of minimized my symptoms and their impact on my life. I do hope that if you read all three parts you have an idea of what the whole picture looks like. I hope that you have a new found respect for the people who suffer from invisible chronic illnesses. I’ve developed a mantra that I repeat over and over again, along with prayer, during the times when I’m in the most pain. “The pain I feel today, will not last forever.” My pain has a purpose and tomorrow is another day.