My brother, Kevin, we share a father and so much more

Kevin and WestinYesterday was my nephews 4th birthday. I can remember how excited Kevin was when he found out Westin was a boy. That he was father to a son. Kevin and I had just started really talking again and I was thrilled to be a part of the group of people he was eager to tell about his tiny, new son. When Westin was born I just remember thinking how much he looked like my own children. My own boys. Both the kids do. We shared those genes, Kevin and I. They’re strong.

Kevin and I shared a lot. A love for art, for our children. We shared, unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, mental health crap that was and is sometimes, just unbearable.  We also share a biological father.

He unfortunately also shares Kevin and I’s mental health issues. Every story, from every person I’ve ever talked to about our father, has been riddled with angry and mean and hurt. Most of my own memories share those same feelings. And most of the good memories I have of him? Involve Kevin and Sam, my brothers. They include my step mother’s warm, and inviting family in Fort Morgan. But him alone? I only remember fear and sadness. I remember feeling what it’s like to be unwanted, unloved and abandoned.

I imagine his path of destruction started before my mother. But for me, her story was the beginning. His hatred and meanness. I can remember how the car door looked as he drove us to my Gramma E’s and left us. We only saw him for a short time after that. He left us broke. He left us broken. My mom tells me he loved me. I was his one. I am his only daughter, the oldest of four. I don’t know those feelings though. They got swallowed up by the sadness and the fear of him. Those feelings are overcome with those of being left, and unwanted.

In my preteen years, I had some time with my father, I don’t regret those days. I have some smiles and joy in that I met my brothers. I’ve mentioned my deeply joyful memories of them acting like the Bushwackers or sitting in the back of our father’s old gray car, singing Damn Yankees on the way to RC Car races. And Bubba the big white bird and Chris, my step mom used to make this food that I can still remember being so good. But Nyle? I remembering him taking my door when he thought I was smoking. I remember him, sitting in the rocker, arms crossed, ready to pounce when I’d come home from being with a young, black boyfriend. That’s what I remember. Fear. Of a man, I so badly wanted to want me. I remember wishing I could just go home.

He destroyed me. Ripped down my walls before the cement even had time to dry. He broke my mother and later my stepmother and my brothers. Kevin and I share that. I think Sam and Matthew have the same feelings but Kevin and I, sharing this profound depression, felt it different. Feel it different. I think we both suffered years of wondering why we just weren’t enough for him to love.

It's amazing how much destruction one person can cause

I’ve spent the months since November blaming our father for Kevin’s suicide knowing full well no one person can make a person do that. But his behavior did contribute to it. I don’t know how a parent can do that to their child. I would have so much preferred he just walk away instead of playing tortuous peek a boo. Lucky for me, I have a Dad. He wanted me, even when he didn’t have to. Sometimes parents pick you. Some of us are lucky in that.  I don’t know that Kevin and Sam ended up with that. I think they have a family who loves them but the shadow of our father was just always looming, it was always there.

When Kevin died, our father wasn’t mentioned in the obituary. I understood why. But wondered how it made him feel. I don’t really know why I care. I want to be furious with him. But mostly, I still feel sad he missed out on us. Me, Kevin, Matthew and Sam. And now? He’s missing out on Devlynn, Davis, Drew, Dexter, Dixon, Rylee, Westin, Cameron, Casey, and little Ritter. He did that to himself though. I can’t make up for his bad choices. None of us can.

Yesterday, on Westin’s fourth birthday he liked a photo of my newest nephew. My immediate reaction was to take down all the photos of baby Ritter. I don’t want to share him with this man. Not that he can do much destruction by liking a photo but I don’t want anyone else to be in the wake of it all. Especially my little Ritter.  I won’t though. That empathy is there. Hoping he’s changed. That he can see the destruction he created in just not making good choices. And I do see, that without that chapter in my story, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And who I am is good. His lack of parenting made me a better parent. His lack of love made me love harder. His destruction taught me to rebuild and rebuild bigger and better.

There is always some good in every bad.

Lessons you can take away from evil and hate-filled people. I’m learning to find that instead of getting lost in the sadness. That reminds me of “The Neverending Story”. See? That made me smile. I found some happy there. I’m really working on that.

I’m also learning that in destruction, there can be great joy and happiness. That only you can prevent being rebuilt. It’s an amazing feeling when you figure out you really are in control of it all. You can choose to make it or take the breaks. I don’t want any more breaks. I’m taking it back. All the happy I can. I am finding the beauty in the destruction.

We are walking October 1st in honor of Kevin and all those who’ve lost to the sadness. I would love for you to join us or donate to our cause. 

We are joining the community of nearly 250k people walking in hundreds of cities across the country in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.

 

Click here to join us or to donate.

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

Finding the silver lining, when the clouds that surround you are very dark

This week the kids were busy. Very busy. I made multiple trips to the Kids’ Camp that some attended and some volunteered at as well as many appointments and you know, life. We’re as busy as the next person, and not as busy as some but for some reason this week I really felt it. I barely made it to the gym and the days I did were cut short because I needed to get home to get someone somewhere. The kids love Kids’ Camp. Me? Not so much. It’s incredibly loud and incredibly chaotic. I used to take the photos but stopped, I’m glad I did but sometimes I feel a tinge of “miss it” when I walk into it. Until of course, I walk into the screaming auditorium of hell. I remember why I stopped then. Heat, loud and anxiety. It’s better someone else shoots it. And it’s helping me learn to control my inner control freak. Each year it gets easier. Each year I am more grateful for someone else’s hard work. Grateful that there are more people out there who serve where others cannot. Self-care and caring about people. Things that sometimes go hand in hand.

We’re fortunate to have cousins who aren’t blood cousins but cousins indeed. Their mother lets me have them all week and I was glad. And Wednesday, she took them with her for some fun. Except we learned Drew is INCREDIBLY allergic to something at their house. Guinea pigs we think. And this? This is what happened to his face.

Gramma Bamma was quick thinking and gave him some Benadryl and when he had some trouble breathing we took our butts quickly to the emergency room. You’d have sworn it was a full moon, it was so busy but they got him in fairly quickly and treated him even faster. I appreciate nurses so much. Kind and thoughtful and funny.

He fell asleep and I waited. Three hours to make sure he didn’t have another reaction.

I am glad he slept. We got moved from one room because an ambulance came in with what looked and sounded like a drug overdose. I saw the foaming mouth and heard, “what did you take”… one can assume but I really don’t know. Drew was put in the hallway while they mopped the blood up off the floor of the new room and sanitized it for safety. The head nurse yelling at housekeeping all along the way. I felt sick to my stomach. It’s easy to think about people dying there. I am sure many do.  Once settled I sat in the chair next to the room opening and overheard the next room’s conversation about what to do if mama’s heart stopped. I heard the sound of what I can only assume was mama’s husband, voice cracking as he said, “I am not ready to do this. I can’t let her go.”

The hustled continued through the hour. People in and out. The man across the hall waiting for an MRI. A couple, newly pregnant hoping to hear a heartbeat after a gush of blood, leaving with all smiles. And then, the sound of the visibly pregnant mother, all alone, when she let out a primal sound after one can only assume she lost the baby. I don’t know why else anyone would make that sound after a room was totally silent. I have heard that pain before. I have been there.

Just a few hours before, I’d thought, fuck, what next? What fucking next. Monday I’d pulled up to drop Devlynn off at work and saw our “problems” car. Furious, I waited in the parking lot a few minutes before heading inside to sit and watch, as I’d promised Devlynn I’d do. I ordered my coffee and sat at the high tops and waited silently for these people to leave. They sat a long time before stepping out. I think they waited for the moment I turned away for a phone call. These people are awfully brave online; not so much in person. Even when they cowardly smiled for the photo I took to send the police. We’d agreed it was fine to visit, but not okay to stay. I should have known that would be short-lived when the one said they’d stop tweeting and started about 8 seconds later, earlier this spring. Boundaries are clearly an issue for these people. Had they gotten up the moment they saw my child, I’d have extended grace but it was CLEAR, they had no intention of leaving. And I was pissed.

The next day I went to one of their jobs. I stood in line, waiting to order and when I got to the register, I said, “Hey ______, does this make you uncomfortable that I am here? Because this is how you make Devlynn feel. Knock it off.” and walked away. Maybe not my finest moment but I was done at that point. Totally done. And when someone we both know came out to talk to me about it, I trembled and yelled, because their behavior makes me afraid. Even if it’s passive and cowardly. I tried to “face” them online because it’s the only way they seem to communicate. I was ignored, of course. Because it’s easier to be a passive bully, then face a situation.

I’d gotten a screenshot the week earlier. It’s below. And realistically, as an outsider looking in, this would be a harmless and maybe even funny tweet but when it came from someone who when you said to them, “we are afraid and know you have two guns,” says, “actually I have three, you start to feel afraid. And this isn’t the first passive threat. There have been mentions of shooting and burying 17-year-old girls and references to Liam Nielsen and his famous, I will find you and I will kill you, line. So, when they start showing up at your child’s job again, you get nervous and you get nervous fast. I thought, jeez us, this is never-ending and this unstable person will eventually hurt one of us.

 

By Wednesday you see, I was about nuts. So worked up about the next thing that I could barely sleep until I heard that noise. That sound, that poor woman who’d just lost everything. And I realized, now? We’re okay. We are safe. We have police involved, we have a home and food and people who love us. And I am not alone, in an ER, screaming primally for all that I have lost. Instead? I am moving on. Making changes and trying to make sure everyone and everything that is important to me is safe and taken care of. I am not going to stay stuck in the past. Even if sometimes I trip up and post some mean on my Twitter; I am human and I am fucking tired of these games. I want to be around this corner. I have one foot there.  I have forgiven and I am trying to make the best of my fucking Lifetime movie. Damn it, when did I audition for this shit?

Thursday, as we walked, the problem drove by again. Still confused why they feel they need to come down forth, I stood in the middle of the street and waved. This problem called the police and told them I jumped in front of their car. Seriously? Really? But when the cops showed up knowing my first and last name and address, they put two and two together and realized they knew all about it and this person and words like “mentally unstable” and “we’ll handle it”, were tossed around. They mentioned how odd it was my car just been vandalized. And as they nodded in agreement as I pleaded with them for this person to leave us alone, I knew, even after all this, there was still a silver lining to it all. Despite all this pain and well, torture, I was still okay, we were still okay and we will always be okay as long as we continue to work and do the right things. (Occasionally peppered with a middle of the street wave. Funny, I don’t know why that was so different from them waving wildly from their car or in the grocery store. Backfired for them, that’s for sure. )

Silver lining? Patience pays off. Silver lining? Despite a serious dip, I am getting everything I wanted and some. Silver lining? I found me. My voice. Silver lining? I’m learning everything will be ok.

Everything is still okay. It’s going to be okay. I’m so sorry for all the tragedy of the ER but I am thankful for the peace it’s given me. Knowing that despite the very low, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. We have each other. Despite what anything thinks. We are fine. We just hit a bump, a ugly, nasty, hatefilled bump in our road. We are okay.

I have thought of those people every day since. I’m so sorry these things happen. No one ever deserves to have that kind of scream. Ever.

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

All those times I told you no

Perhaps a more proper title might have been, “why anxiety keeps me at home” but we all know I like to have something that’s a little more catchy. But getting to the point, this is an apology for almost always saying no. My sadness has won. It’s won for years. Anxiety told me, no and so that’s what I said to you.

We moved here a little over 9 years ago. I had these hopes that I’d maybe left the anxiety and sadness back home with the old house and the old life. I was bitterly wrong. And despite a valiant attempt at being a social butterfly, including starting a MOPS group, I quickly lost to the monster that anxiety is. I think it started to creep back in when I got pregnant with Dexter.  I had this embarrassment associated with having a fourth. The stigma of another unplanned, but much wanted, baby. I remember when my friend Emily told me about her little Matthew, it was a relief to be able to finally tell someone, who I knew would be happy, that I too was expecting. I kept Dexter a secret for a while and when I finally did tell I felt each and every time someone looked at me poorly for adding another to my family. It was like a mounting hill of shame and anxiety seeds. A full field, waiting to bloom into something that looked like the shell I was and occasionally still am.

When my MOPS group fell apart, that probably didn’t help either. Because as each friend disappeared from my life, another anxiety seed sprouted. And when the one friend I really wanted, didn’t show up to our pizza date, I began to lose all hope I’d had to ever be apart of the social circle I’d so badly tried to infiltrate. I stopped letting people in. Even the kind Emily who kept me from feeling like I was a lost mother. I just stopped and I stopped saying yes. I made excuses not to go. I stopped returning texts. I never picked up the phone. I said no, to everything and everyone. For years.

I said no to the parties and to the play dates. I’ve made excuses not to show up.  And despite my love for shooting families, I admit, I’ve spent years hoping people would cancel but always glad they didn’t.  When I got pregnant with Dixon, I hid it for a full 20 weeks. Afraid to be excited; my anxiety stole the excitement of that baby bump. I was afraid people wouldn’t want him, they’d be upset he was a boy. That people would think I was crazy for wanting a fifth. I cried when my beloved friends threw me a baby shower. Because my anxiety told me I wasn’t good enough for a party. Thank goodness for my friends who saw my worth. Thank goodness someone loved me enough to celebrate me and my to be born son even knowing how anxious and unworthy I felt.

But even after that,  I still said no. To everything. To meals, I could have used after he was born. To help on the first day of school. To playdates and lunch dates and all those things. And people stopped asking and I felt relief but then I felt lonely and then my anxiety told me I wasn’t worth it all over again. I had regret. I have regret. For all the things I missed. For not calling my brother, for not saying my peace. For not taking my mother’s group, for not fighting for my place. I feel regret for not riding the rides, for not dipping my toes into the ocean. I regret not learning new things, for not taking the photographs, for not learning how to truly sing. For so many things.

But mostly I have regret for the no. I said no for no other reason but anxiety and self-doubt. And I am sorry. I am sorry I told you no. I wanted to go. Deep down, I wanted to go to your party. I just couldn’t. My inner worth told me I wasn’t good enough and I was too worried I might embarrass you or myself.

I won’t say no anymore. Please ask me again. Sure there may be reasons I can’t go but please, invite me again. Help me beat this monster. Remind me. Remind people like me that I can go, that I am wanted and that I have worth.

I won’t say no.

 

 

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.