But….I Still Made It To Texas
“My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because
they are easy; you don’t make them because they are cheap; you don’t make them
because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.”
As I count down another 365 days in my life, I also look back on holiday traditions and 2018 as a year of struggles and lessons. Yep, I’m too lazy to write separate blogs about Christmas and New Year’s. Did you catch that or is it just me? Ha! Ha! At this point, I’m just glad that I still have the ability and “want to” to write publicly about my struggles as an individual, family, therapeutically and as a system. Honestly, my first thoughts about the year 2018 all revolve around my middle finger.
In January, I started my new path alone by moving to Texas. The importance of this decision was realized only a couple of months prior. Mel and the kids needed to live in a place that was familiar and where they could regain their own sense of balance and security that I could not help provide in my condition at that time. And I needed answers and healing from my own demons and dark past. Sometimes life gives you a way out but only for a limited amount of time. Our life in New Mexico had finally come to an end complete with two little boys that make our hearts beat. My mental health issues were becoming increasingly dangerous and the toll it had taken on Mel and the boys was almost irreparable damage. If love was all that was needed to “fix” everything that had been damaged there wouldn’t have been a need to leave. Mel and I both saw the need and the importance of me moving somewhere that answers could be found but only with the right practitioner.
I had set my sights on moving to Texas in 2016 but actually taking that step without Mel and the kids wouldn’t happen until January 2018. This was a decision that kept tugging at my heart. I knew it was the right decision but I didn’t have any way of proving that to make the decision easier to make as a couple. It would be one of those Please don’t be the wrong decision! Please don’t be the wrong decision! moments that was so scary I couldn’t put into words. She and I knew that without long term help of some kind I wouldn’t have a relationship with them anyway. I was just dangerously out of control mentally.
By March life would once again be full of new struggles. My 2006 Honda Pilot that I brought with me on my new endeavors would be totaled in an accident. Not knowing the extent of my injuries I would run to the vehicle that hit me to help the driver as I had done many times while working on an ambulance many years earlier. Once the emergency vehicles showed up and I had returned to the opposing side of the highway where my own vehicle turned its last wheel the searing pain in my neck, back and legs would make its way into a form of uncomfortable permanence. The days of having good medical insurance was left in the deserted high mesa of Albuquerque, New Mexico. And now I was just another American leaning on Medicare for help. I would also soon be driving an 18 year old black leather 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix that would come to be known simply as “The Hot Pocket.” Let the frustrations begin!
Learning who I was as an individual is still a process that I continue to learn about every single day. But I was learning since moving here in January that I had a very large trigger that I had never even considered. In Albuquerque we were left most times to fend for ourselves no matter where we looked for answers. When I moved to Texas I was greeted with a large outpouring of love that most would welcome. I, however, was terrified by all the help that was awaiting. I honestly didn’t know and still don’t really know how to receive help without there being a price for it. I suddenly became very triggered and left a stable living situation only to “couch hop” for the next few months until I looked up and I was homeless. This would mean that I didn’t have the privacy and quiet that I longed and hungered for. No one seemed to understand especially me. Being in public and around people all the time seemed to make me feel like I was boiling in hot water. No matter how hard I tried to accept this form of love and acceptance…I just couldn’t.
My mental health issues soon began to show the ugly faces that I had tried to warn other about and all I could think was “Damn, not here. Not to these good people.” But trying to wish them away wouldn’t happen in Texas anymore than it had worked in New Mexico. I knew that this meant one thing….people would get hurt and relationships would be damaged and lost. I couldn’t stop it. I had seen it 100’s of times and nothing good ever came of it. I just knew what it felt like when it was about to happen. All I could hope for was that it wouldn’t be too bad because this time I was alone without Mel and the kids. I prepared my heart for the worst like I had many times. This time would be no different as I would lose the relationships of those that I loved and admired without even trying.
Physically I felt completely beat down. Mentally I was a hot mess and I now doubted whether this move was in fact the right thing to do. The true reason that I moved here, to do therapy with my new coach seemed to be the only thing that still seemed right. I leaned on the many years of lessons that I had learned from Sarah to help me make the decision again about staying in Texas when I wanted to run because it was the right thing to do….and again I stayed. It wasn’t because I had faith that things would get better. I stayed simply because I trusted her and that she never led me in a wrong direction while she was alive.
Therapeutically, I thought moving here and working with “coach” would be an easy thing to do since I was so incredibly excited to be given the chance. I was excited and I knew without a doubt that my decision of working with “coach” was still the right decision. But “easy” was never in the realm of reality. I had a decorated therapeutic past and it didn’t seem to recognize good or bad practitioners. It only recognized “practitioner” and “position of authority” both which scared me to death. I constantly reminded myself that I already trusted her on some level because I moved here to work with her. But instantly trusting even though I was confident in my decision just wasn’t going to happen.
When I looked at my new life the only place that didn’t seem to bring some form of unwanted and unneeded pain was the hour that I spent with coach in session. Most days the money it would require to afford food was always an unknown. I was not willing to forego a therapy session because for that hour I felt safe even if I was shaking with fear for the time I was in there. I would be scared of possible topics I might have to discuss and I fear her position as a therapist but I didn’t fear her as a person and that meant everything to me. I wanted to be heard and my pain validated and the only place that seemed to happen was when I was in a session because I wouldn’t dare open up to others. Life is hard and society can careless how I feel about anything in the present time much less 40+ years of pain and abuse from my past….but she did and still does care.
Coach knows what she’s doing and I have to continue to trust her. She knew that the only way that I would find comfort is through consistency and compassion. I was sloppy seconds of a very abusive therapist but I was looking and hungering for the help that I so desperately needed. And that my aggressive nature had to have a reason. Before long her compassion began to melt my very tough exterior and tears would form and begin to drop from the years of abuse. Except this time my tears brought about more compassion and validation where, at times, tears were seen as a weakness and more abuse seemed to follow.
August 1st started the “intensive” that she and I would have for a month. That month did a lot for me regarding trusting coach and the therapeutic process as a whole. Before this started, though, I vowed to be completely focus, “nose to the grind” and completely secluded. This was no phone calls except immediate family and my coach and no social media except for blogs and remembering friends who have died. Sometimes solitude is all you need to help regain focus on things that are important. Because in solitude you have no one to look at but yourself. Apparently, this is just what I needed because the changes that have occurred within my system are some that I never dreamed possible for a teenager who was simply not heard. The key to her was something along the lines of a forced hug (not literally) to show her that everyone isn’t the same. And allowing her a voice preferably not a screaming one. Yes that teenager is indeed coachable when others have often thought incorrigible.
Fall time for me brings about some pretty horrible memories and anniversaries. At some point, coach responded to a question of mine “being thankful for what I do have” was the answer. I’ve thought about that every since the day that was said. This fall I would finally understand what she was saying. Now that It’s towards the end of December I can say that I put her phrase into practice by being thankful for what I do have this year despite all the struggles:
- I made it to Texas where I was met by an awesome group of people.
- I was involved in a wreck and injured but I wasn’t killed.
- I ended up back in the psych hospital 2 more times but it didn’t hurt anything but my pride.
- I ended up homeless but repaired the relationship with my parents.
- I had two surgeries because of my wreck but I’m still walking and talking.
- My time in Texas has been a struggle in every way. But….I Still Made It To Texas.
- I don’t get to see my boys very much but there is Facetime.
- I have several addictions that I struggle with but I’m still here struggling.
- I never get to see my wife. She was able to be here several days for my surgery.
- I don’t get to spend holidays with my family. Making the sacrifice to live in Texas without them helps to ensure I get to spend the rest of my life healthy and happy together as a family.
- I just embarrassed myself and my wife because I “flipped my wig” coming out of anesthesia. What a great education in mental illness behaviors the hospital staff got from me free of charge not once but twice.
- Difficult decisions were made and tears were shed because it was the right thing to do. Not the easiest thing to do.
I always think about the holidays when I was little and prior to our family’s matriarch, my Nannie’s death. I can remember the smell of the air and the damp fall leaves, our family traditions and how much they still mean to me. I remember my daddy’s Christmas morning breakfast and the year Sarah and Doug sat at our family’s table and had breakfast with us. I also remember how much holidays scared me when I was married to my ex-husband. The day time hours were fake happiness and gifts. And the night times were criticisms about what I had managed to mess up and how dumb I was. Don’t think for a second that he didn’t criticize my appearance on those days too.
Recently, Mel came to Texas because I had back surgery as a result of the wreck in March. This was the first time she and I had spent any significant amount of time since I moved here. The experience was a disaster for both of us at the hospital even with my limited memory. The embarrassment for me personally has been a lot to bare. But the tears we both shed before her ride picked her up to take her back to the airport because we both love each other and miss being a family were the ones that were the heaviest. I asked her again now that it’s been almost a year since moving here, “Do you think we made the right decision?” We both agreed and said, “Yes.” Moving here was the right decision but it didn’t guarantee things being easy and so far that has remained true. This year has been one of many ups, downs, struggles and lessons…..BUT…….WE STILL MADE THE RIGHT DECISION TO MOVE TO TEXAS TO DO THERAPY…..AND WE MADE IT HAPPEN!!!!