Tag Archives: holidays

Where Did the Magical Season Go?

So, can this day/week/season hurry up and be over with already?

Every year I hide behind my words – <Insert Holiday Title Here> is nothing but a commercialized guilt trip and we should celebrate love, kindness, thankfulness, gratefulness, family, friends, and whatever else, EVERY day.

Yeah, just words. Sort of.

In all honesty, I have always disliked many holidays. I dislike Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents day, Boss’s Day, Administrative Assistance Day, and any other day you can think of. The truth of it all is, it’s a holiday that people adopt so they can party (like St. Patrick’s Day, or Cinco De Mayo), or it’s a day that all the retailers try to lure you in with “savings” to get your money or guilt trip you into buying something for your love or your child and if you don’t, you suck.

And it seems to be worse around Christmas.

My heart and soul must live in a different time period, especially around Christmas time.  The magic of the season is everything to me. You know what I mean. Old movies like HOLIDAY INN or WHITE CHRISTMAS, or the kind you see in a Thomas Kinkade painting, and all the stories of miracles happening around Christmas. A quaint little neighborhood. A blanket of virgin snow. A single trail down the center of the road that leads to the horse-drawn carriage. Christmas lights and decorations lining the streets and warming the houses. Everyone smiling and wishing passersby a Merry Christmas, helping those who needed help, and giving a small gift of friendship in any form. Friends and family circling round the fireplace drinking hot apple cider, singing Christmas carols, and sharing in the warmth of the love. Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.

Oh to see the world through my childhood eyes again.

To set the record straight, It’s not just about the lack of presents. With all due respect, presents under the tree is only a tiny part of that ideal Christmas image in my head. With each passing year, though, the magic of the holiday seasons grows more distant and unattainable. Decorations, still packed away in boxes stored in the garage, are left untouched for years. The lack of cold and snow, does nothing to put me in the mood either. I have no motivation. And when I do, I do it all alone. And now, while the desire is there, that little voice inside my head says, “what’s the point?”

I no longer like going out window shopping, just to enjoy the decorations or looking for ideas for my own house. There are way too many people. It would be ok if everyone was happy it was Christmas time. But now, everyone is so rude, and a thousand times worse during this season. It spurs anxiety in both TheHubs and I.

PTSD and Pain have ruined this time of year for me. TheHubs only feels 3 emotions: rage, despair, and nothing. He doesn’t get into decorating, socializing, or celebrating anymore. This, in turn, makes me not want to put in the effort. Maybe it’s the lack of UV light, the drab days, the lack of color all around, that adds to the depressive state. They do talk a lot about this time of year being worse for depression. So maybe that’s part of it. But I also know that seeing your loved one in constant pain, suffering his demons, and hardly ever seeing the smile on his lips and twinkle in his eye, well, you just let it slip through and wish it were all over so you can get back to the everyday life without seeing everyone else’s Christmas cheer.

This year has been especially hard, making this holiday season a bit worse for wear.  We’ve been through some seriously trying times. Communication is the only way to get through it. And while the PTSD Rage Monster flares bright, I wondered if we’d ever get back to that point. But we did. We both opened up. We both are constantly working on our communication. But while you’re smack in the midst of living the hell, it is hard to see the light. There were several of these times throughout the year. More than we’ve had in a very, very long time.

And then there were all the medical issues.

For me, luckily, this year was pretty simple. Just a few follow-ups with my Psychiatrist and adjustments to my meds–which at this time, I am not going to up them because of the price. It’s like two completely different prescriptions, even though it’s the same medication. One strength dose in the morning, a different one in the evening. But, it’s on a higher tier in the formulary so I have to fork out a bit of money for that. (And don’t even get me started on next year’s medical insurance.)

When TheBoy started school this year, he also started complaining about his feet hurting. It wasn’t until about a week in that it got so bad he called us from the nurses office saying he couldn’t walk anymore. We took him to a podiatrist and that’s when we found out he has incredibly flat feet (like his father) and loose tendons (like his mother). Luckily, the doctor had a quick and permanent fix, giving him an arch and correcting his feet to hopefully not have pain. It would require surgery on both feet. And now was the best time for him to have it since he’s still growing. He’s already had one surgery, and his second is on Dec 8th. (if you want to read about this condition, you can see the pictures here)

And then we found out he needed braces. UGH!

On top of all this, we also have to foot the bill for what the VA doesn’t cover for TheHubs. All his medications, and the neurologist he’s been seeing for a little over 10 years. His Botox injections, and pain medications. He also had surgery in September to help correct his severely deviated septum, which was supposed to help his apnea and we were hoping to alleviate the positional pain that came from sleeping since he would now be able to breath out of his nose while sleeping on his belly. It helped somewhat, but nothing to write home about.

So, our bank account has been pretty much wiped out — of course adding to my already discouragement for this season.

So when TheBoy comes to me, without prompting, and says he would be fine with nothing for his birthday and Christmas, an instant surge of pride is quickly replaced with a great sadness because I know with all these medical and dental bills that are going on I cannot afford to get him something, or anyone else either.

This season is about giving. And I do so love to give, whether it be a present, a smile, a hug, a positive thought. I am happiest when I am giving and helping people. I am happy making others happy. Sometimes, though, I would love if everyone else felt the same way I do.

When I started writing this post, it was so very negative. I couldn’t see the positive, and wondered if I would ever feel any Christmas spirit again. After getting it out, admitting it, I realize that just like being positive in everyday life, being happy on Christmas is a conscious decision. So today, I am making that decision – the decision to try to enjoy the season and not focus on my dreams.

I am going to try to make other people happy. Maybe it will help me get back into the spirit of the season. If I can buy someone’s coffee while I’m out shopping, or find a homeless vet who hangs out on the corner near the mall and give them $20. Or get back to leaving my Positive Post-It Notes around town while we are out and about…*IF* we are out and about. I really want to be able to share the positive and the happy and give someone a smile. The more people who see kindness, maybe it will spread and the rudeness will diminish?

I honestly believe in karma and “what goes around comes around”. I just have to be patient. And patience is not my best quality.

One can only hope, though.

So I am going to ask you to do the same. Maybe it might help you too. Be kind to everyone. You never know what their story is.

Be kind. Smile often. And spread the happiness.

LadyJai

If you’re willing, I would love to hear your stories as well. Let us all feel not so alone, especially during this holiday season so we can have a little bit of light in the PTSD darkness. Love you all.

Related Articles you may like:
Holidays
Christmas 2014
The Secret to Marriage
Finding the Positives

Happy 25th Anniversary!

25 Years

We met on 11 November 1989.
He proposed to me 16 November 1989.
We were married by the JOP on 22 December 1989.
He deployed 15 January 1990 and was only supposed to be gone 45 days.
I planned a church wedding for his return.
He came home 6 days before our church wedding.

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We’ve beaten so many odds, so many situations that could tear us apart.
And we’re still going strong!
Here’s to forever!

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LadyJai

 

Merry Christmas 2014

Dearest family and friends,

I’ve been a caregiver to my husband for the last 15 years. It’s been hard. Extremely hard. I’ve felt so very alone for so very long. And I thought no one would ever understand what all is involved. So I closed myself off and faced the world in silence. As did my husband.

Twenty-two veterans take their lives every day; but the uncounted are those friends and family who care for them. Invisible wounds are brushed away, hidden in our society. Most people don’t understand. Personally, we’ve received comments such as a snotty, “Well, you don’t look disabled,” which cuts my husband deep to the soul but he puts on his mask and says, “Thank you” and carries on. It’s a two-way street, though. Those who don’t understand the problems that our veterans live with day-to-day, hour by hour, and sometimes breath by breath need to have more compassion and education and don’t just brush them off with trivial comments such as “Suck it up. Get over it. You’re stronger than that.” But our veterans must also admit, face, and open up—which is so very hard to do when they’ve been shunned and looked down upon for so long.

And this isn’t just our veterans’ problem. Invisible wounds are non-discriminant. They can attack anyone, of any race, creed, or color. It doesn’t matter. Just look at how shocked the world was when Robin Williams recently took his life. So please, don’t sit in a dark corner and think you are alone with no hope. There’s always hope.

This year has been an exceptional year, considering. While we still battle the chronic migraines and pain, PTSD, and depression, along with the issues that come along with being a caregiver, I’ve deemed this year as the year for my healing. I never once opened up, admitted, or faced my own personal issues. But when I fell into the deep dark hole of my own last year, I needed to work on me. Because I learned that if I am not healthy, I cannot be there for him.

This year had me becoming a pin cushion for the many doctors I had to see throughout the year. Bouncing from specialist to specialist with no real diagnosis. Things were ruled out, old issues resolved, and new issues popped into play. I’ve managed to get a diagnosis for some of the seemingly random symptoms I’ve experienced – Fibromyalgia. And I am currently being seen for a blood “anomaly” that will just have to be watched periodically. The last thing on the list is my emotional health. I need to get that under control and I can focus on learning the new normal. Again.

Throughout this year of healing, I’ve made a point to confront, admit, and own my feelings. I’ve written them out here on my blog. This has helped me tremendously, and I hope to help someone else in their time of need. Because we are NOT ALONE. I was contacted by the publisher of The Veterans Voice and she wanted to publish this article from me. I was overjoyed. It’s not my first published piece, but my first non-fiction. It would be seen by so many people.

I found a veteran spouses/caregiver support group online and have found so many understanding people. I can help when I can, and others can help or listen when I need it. It truly is amazing when you find others who understand what you’re going through.

I’m learning a lot through this. The negative feelings I hold inside are what makes me human. Not a bad person. It’s how I confront each and every situation that makes me good or bad. I’ve learned that I AM strong, regardless of my situation. I’ve always been one to try not to complain because there are so many more families out there that have it worse than me. I’m understanding now, that yes, while this is true, I am living my situation not theirs. And I am also learning that while everyone’s situation is different, the feelings that go along with it all, the veteran’s actions and feelings along with the caregivers, are so very similar. We can learn from one another, we can become the support structure so we don’t crumble.

Even before I started the doctor route, I’ve started trying to change my way of thinking. Because negativity can kill. I learned this a long time ago, when TheHubs went to Kosovo. I was friends with a spouse who was so negative all the time and she was bringing me down. I knew I had to cut her out of my life completely in order to survive that deployment. Once I did, I was so much better for it. 3 years ago, I’ve been on a campaign of positivity. The blog-o-sphere has an annual A to Z Challenge in April. And the last two Aprils have seen me making positive notes to help me think more positively and hopefully inspire others. This year, though, I’ve expanded it throughout the entire year and have been setting out little positive motivational post-it notes in random public places. Hopefully I could make people smile. We need to change the way we think and we will be so much better for it!

Being a disabled veteran family, outings are very hard to come by, let alone vacations. I still hold onto my dream vacations and hope one day to be able to afford them and travel without the fear of the pain debilitating TheHubs so much that he cannot enjoy it, or worse yet, cannot go at all. There have been times he has had to miss outings, family get-togethers, and holidays because of it. But we’re working on it. Still. What I have to do is try to do little things that only last a few hours and hope he can manage the pain long enough to get through it and enjoy some of it. So here are a few things we did this year.

The Clay County Fair in April 2014

 

The Color Vibe 5k in June 2014

Birthday Dinner with my parents.

First there was Painting With A Twist by myself, with the Hearts of Valor organization on September 11th

Then we brought TheBoy and his best friend because he was so sad he couldn’t go with me that night.
Painting with a Twist

We also took TheBoy to his first Midnight release party for a game.

I took TheHubs and TheBoy to their first Air Show on the Tarmac. It was the Blue Angels, but I just HAD to get the Thunderbird in there. 😀

And then the last color run for the year, The Color In Motion 5k with MOM! And TheBoy’s best friend and family.
Color In Motion 5K

It’s the little things that we treasure now. Happy moments to hold on to. And with the camera phone, I can document them all!

May you all find the positives in every situation, no matter how small.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Love The Dements

Holidays

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.

I don’t understand. After 40 some years, I still hope that someone would surprise me, go out of their way to do something, anything, extra special for me, wait on me hand and foot, pamper me, just for one day make me the priority. I am feeling that selfish twinge again.

When I was little, I always had dreams of surprise birthday parties, or surprise trips, or anything that would be grand and exciting for my birthday. But, alas, my birthday was smack dab in the middle of summer. And living in a military community, my friends were either on vacation, or living off base and we couldn’t get together. I was always left to have a very small birthday with my mom and dad. Eventually, my birthday became just another day.

When I got into high  school and started getting interested in boys, Valentine’s Day was special. The schools would sell flowers that the guys could buy for their girlfriend or secret love. There were so many girls that got at least one flower. Me, usually I had none. My boyfriends were either short-lived, or non-existent. I wasn’t popular, nor exceptionally beautiful. And most guys were not very “creatively romantic.” The older I got, the more I saw that it was really nothing more than the retailers trying to guilt everyone into buying some overpriced thing for their love and if they didn’t get the biggest, most expensive thing then they really didn’t love that person. I resolved myself to the fact that Valentine’s Day was just another day. And I was OK with this because, really, you should be loved and cherished all the days of the year without being made to feel guilty.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, again being a military family involved a lot of distant friends and family. They’ve  always been a tight-knit holiday celebrated between me, my mom, and dad. We lived so far from their family that travel was way too expensive. I can only remember one Christmas with my Mom’s Aunt and Uncle in Washington state. The only time we got to see my mom and dad’s parents and siblings were when we were on our way overseas. Every 4 years doesn’t really make you close. So our holidays were always just the three of us. But it was always about the family being together.

Maybe it was living in England. Maybe it was being a close-knit family. Somehow, I developed my ideal image of Christmas, the kind you see in a Thomas Kinkade painting. A quaint little neighborhood. A blanket of virgin snow. A single trail down the center of the road that leads to the horse-drawn carriage. Christmas lights and decorations lining the streets and warm the houses. Everyone smiling and wishing passersby a Merry Christmas, helping those who needed help, and giving a small gift of friendship in any form. Friends and family circling round the fireplace drinking hot apple cider, singing Christmas carols, and sharing in the warmth of the love.

TKholidaygathering2

My heart and soul must live in a different time period because with each passing Christmas, I realize there’s no more magic in it. It makes me incredibly sad and frustrated. I want the magic. I want the love and warmth.

Because of the issues my husband faces daily. The pain, the depression, the forgetfulness, and everything else that comes along with my wounded warrior, my ideal Christmas never unfolds. Most of the time we don’t put up decorations. And if we do, it’s what I can put up myself, or with the help of my son. There’s no desire in my husband anymore. Every day is just about getting through the pain.

There have been so many family holidays and get-togethers that he’s missed because of the pain. I know it tears him apart. Now. But there was a time that those auto-thoughts kicked in and I wondered if he disliked my family, or he hated doing anything with me, or he just hated going outside. It took several years, and a lot of communication with him, to kick those auto-thoughts to the curb. Even now, I still have to tell them who’s really boss in my head. Some days are better than others.

So, yesterday was Mother’s Day.

The one day everyone raves about what their husbands and children do for them. Breakfast in bed. Homemade cards and crafts. Surprise visits. Dinner out or at the very least, cooked by anyone other than the Mom. Now that I’m in a community with other Veteran Caregivers, I see a different side of Mother’s Day. Many feel the same as I do. Left out. Just another day. Wishing that someone would make them the priority, or even an effort. But there were so many other posts out there where their veteran was blowing up, arguing, ignoring, leaving. These ladies were feeling that they weren’t important or loved or even recognized. Their day seemed so much worse than mine.

It made me take a step back and look at my day. Yes, sure I woke up like every other day. I laid in bed until TheBoy got up. TheHubs was already awake, downstairs watching TV after a night of insomnia. Yes, sure I had to remind both my son and my husband to wish me happy MomMom’s Day. But, hey, I got hugs and kisses. Yes, I made breakfast. And yes, hubs went to bed soon after we woke up. I managed to wake him up around noon and asked if he wanted to go with us to get groceries and TheBoy a new set of swim trunks. His pain level was pretty bad and I gave him two hours to see if it would calm down. Nope. As per usual, it remained high. So TheBoy and I went out by ourselves.

I had those bad thoughts, those selfish thoughts again. But I didn’t let them get to me. The guilt tried to creep in, too. But I pushed it aside and did what I needed to do. I did do something bad, though. I bought some cookies, some donuts, and also the items to make strawberry shortcake. I also bought Subway for dinner. Hey, it was Me Day, right?! 😛  I wanted to go to the salon and cut off all my hair but decided I wouldn’t put the boy through that. I also wanted to look for a new swimsuit for me too. That whole ordeal, for both of us, was a disaster. But we did have a little fun with hats (in which I bought him one).

When I came home, TheHubs was on the Xbox. I had to bring the groceries in and put them away without his help. I understand that playing the Xbox does tend to allow him to forget his pain temporarily. I’m going to be honest with myself, and with you: I was a little upset when his match was over and he didn’t help out.  I was a little upset that he didn’t take time out to eat with us. I’m not entirely sure why I was exhausted after 3 hours of grocery shopping. So I went upstairs and laid down on the bed to watch some shows since he was downstairs playing his game. Yup, just a typical day for us.

While I was laying there, alone, I went over my day and all the posts I read regarding Mother’s Day. And you know what? I need to let go of those unrealistic expectations, those magical dreams of the perfect holiday, and just enjoy the small things. Count them and watch them pile up. Soon, it will be a HUGE mountain of positive.

My husband’s alive. He loves me. My son is alive. He loves me. He made a card with love  for me. We were together at the store and had fun trying on hats. We were able to enjoy some good food. And we made it through another day. I’d call that a win.

So when another holiday rolls around, I just need to sit back and enjoy what I have, even if hubs can’t participate fully. Because, you know what? I’m loved and cherished every day. Every holiday is just another day. I am thankful for what I have.

LadyJai