Give an Inch…

I learned yesterday that the dad wrote a letter to Brother’s therapist, insulting my parenting and trying to interfere with progress. I read the letter myself, and later asked for a copy. The therapist refused to give me a copy of the letter. I am at a loss as to why. In the past, with other therapists, letters have become part of the child’s file, which parents have a right to have. I am aware that my written communications with therapists become part of a file…how does this not apply to the dad?

I feel like some boundaries are being crossed. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but I will keep seeking. The dad has a history of interfering with the kids therapy, and is suppose to be limited to only being able to submit written requests for records. Brother’s current therapist took it upon himself to provide reunification therapy in order to get visits started up again after Brother’s breakdown. That goal has been met, and Brother is attending supervised visits.

I expect no less than to be torn apart by the ex…but the therapists office should remain a safe space for Brother, free from the dad’s negative influence. On the other hand, the therapist is getting to see first hand, some of the root of the problem.

The letter triggered me to some stored up sadness and feelings of inadequacy. Brother has always had anxiety and many characteristics of autism, but there was a time when it didn’t prevent him from trying things and participating in things that interested him outside of his computer. The dad brought up the things he did with Brother….over three years ago. The interesting thing is, it is Brother who has changed. I am still a very active parent, and when Brother is interested, he joins me. It seems that he is interested in concerts, photography, and vacations. He does go to weekly music lessons, where he is learning to play guitar and drums. He changed about the time he started into puberty, and had a psychotic break that landed him in a hospital treatment program for a short term.

The prognosis for Brother includes support well into adulthood. The progress is extremely slow. On top of everything else, he has now been diagnosed with selective mutism. As the healing has taken place, the layers of trauma have peeled back to reveal a young man who can not find the words to share his voice in public situations outside of family and very close acquaintances.

I have held a sadness for about a week now. I am hoping that something will touch my soul and ignite my passion soon.

~AoA

A Week of Halloween!

Halloween is officially tomorrow night…on a Thursday. Kids would love to be out of school the next day, but despite their best efforts, starting a petition on change.org with a nicely written persuasive argument, school will be in session.

Truthfully, it seems like our little town celebrates for at least a week! There have been haunted woods and hayrides for the entire month of October. An old local cemetery hosted haunted nights and scavenger hunts. Churches and schools started having their celebrations and fall festivals a week ago. This week has seen its share of Trunk or Treat activities already, at the local college and hospital…and Halloween is yet to come!

Little AoA and I participated in our church trunk or treat over the weekend. We decorated the trunk like The Grand Ole Opry, with Dolly Parton and Minnie Pearl. The adults recognized us!

For Little AoA, it is her first holiday season with glasses. She can see everything clearly now!

We still have Halloween night to do. We are planning on visiting two friends, and two nursing homes. Of course, we will be taking treats (donut holes were requested) to our favorite nursing home residents! We did this last year, and it was so sweet to see the inter generational interactions.

We have also made a holiday baking goal to learn to make decorated iced sugar cookies. I think we will take a local class…this was our first attempt:

They were tasty anyway!

How do you celebrate the change of season?

~AoA

Thank You, First Responders!

October is when we share awareness for Domestic Violence. There are many hero’s in the background, our first responders. Dispatchers receive phone calls that no one should ever have to make…reporting domestic violence. Our law enforcement officers risk their lives going into unstable situations. They help diffuse situations and save lives!

Little AoA and I volunteered to be cupcake makers this month, to thank our first responders. Our local domestic violence center organized the cupcake deliveries to local units.

Despite all of the trainings and awareness efforts, there are still many who blame the victims. I have heard some victims tell of officers telling them that they needed to obey their husbands. In my case, an officer told me that two-parent abusive homes were better for children than single-parent loving homes! We still have a way to go in educating and spreading awareness!

I am thankful for the officers who have guided me through safety plans, diffused situations that were out of my control, and protected us from potentially violent situations. Our officers may never know the difference their actions really made. They are some of our unsung heroes!

~AoA

Halloween Funnies

I have grown to love Halloween over the years. When I was a child, we lived in Colorado, and it was usually really cold or snowing at Halloween. We would have to wear our big coats over our costumes when we went trick-or-treating.

As a young adult, I went the “Fall Festival” route, and attended fall parties at church.

These days, I do a combination of things. I enjoy the “Not-So-Scary” trunk or treating and party at my church. Little AoA enjoys decorating the trunk with me, and we have fun with coordinating costumes. We pass out candy and visit with friends. There is also a “Haunting in the District” on Halloween night, when local businesses set up tables in our town square for trick-or-treating. We haven’t ever gotten into scary events, but if we did, there is a haunted woods, cemetery scavenger hunts, and haunted tours of our town square.

I enjoy costumes, looking at them and dressing up. Here are a few that made me laugh…Some are very “punny”!

This one is my favorite! SEAL OF APPROVAL

This one cracked me up! I finished binge watching Stranger Things this summer, and was oddly satisfied.

I don’t have any pumpkins yet for my front porch. I really need to get some soon, so I won’t have to use a basketball!

~AoA

Sad and Disturbing Reminders

This appeared on my Facebook page this morning. It is usually fun to see my Facebook memories, as they are usually pictures of the kids when they were younger, or shared events. This memory hit me in the gut! Why did I write this? What was the explanation behind it? I dug into my memory to unveil the reasons for this.

In September of 2009, Little AoA was born. I had been married to my abuser 4 1/2 years at this point. Both of my older kids had moved out by this time, so it was just the four of us. The ex had been becoming increasingly more controlling as the years went by. By this time, I had cut all fun activities from my life…no more community band, traveling to visit family and friends, or going out to eat or movies…Life was going to work and coming home to serve my husband and care for the children. I had to come straight home after work, or there would be hell to pay. I was “allowed” to do the grocery shopping on Saturday, but I had to be home within 3 hours. I remember trying to fit as much life as I could into those 3 hours. I would call and talk to family members (I wasn’t allowed to do this at home). I would sometimes go to a store other than the grocery store, like a clothing store or home store. I remember feeling guilty about all of that. What would the ex do if he knew I was disobeying him?

When Little AoA was born, life began to change. My parents had moved into a house down the road from us so that they could help out. We needed the ex to go to work now that we had two kids. My parents were willing to keep the kids during the day. Well that changed quickly. When faced with the prospect of working, the ex snuck behind my back, and managed to meet with many doctors and a lawyer in order to be able to get on disability from the government! He never even told me he was doing it! I found out when he was at the final step of going before a judge- and only because I needed his help with something that day and he had to tell me he couldn’t help! I wonder if he ever would have told me!

When Little AoA was born, she was premature by a month. She was very small, and had trouble breathing at birth, so she spent some time in the neonatal intensive care unit. Her dad left the hospital shortly after she was born, leaving me alone to worry about our new baby. Thankfully, my adult daughter came and sat with me all night at the hospital. The ex refused to hold Little AoA until she had grown a bit. When we brought her home, I needed to keep an extra eye on her. She was up frequently during the night. The ex became increasingly more angry at being woken in the night. He threatened to be angry with me until he could sleep at night without being woken by a crying baby. I “solved” the problem by moving to a back bedroom of the house with the kids. I knew I would be up during the nights. In hindsight, I think the ex meant for me to leave the kids in the back bedrooms, and give him all of my attention. It couldn’t work that way though, for a number of reasons. I was 42 when I had Little AoA, and working full time. I would fall asleep nursing Little AoA in the night, and just didn’t have the energy to parent a newborn like I did in my 20’s, and work everyday! The ex could not understand my physical limitations. He became very jealous, and started making statements about how I must not love him because I stayed with the babies at night. I couldn’t fix this. I tried…

This is when I wrote the statement on Facebook. My new home in the back bedroom with the kids became my freedom. I had stopped using Facebook when the ex demanded it, claiming I was “cheating” on him! I did it to “prove” my love for him. In the back bedroom, I reconnected with the few friends I had. They were all either family or friends from work. I loved sharing in their lives a bit, seeing what they were doing and thinking about.

It would be three more years before I left the abusive home. There would be more attempts to completely control my life, and death threats against people I loved. I feared for my life and the lives of my loved ones. I had become a shell of a person…empty inside.

~AoA

Look For the Laugh

Counseling has been part of my healing journey for a very long time. My most recent counselor had a baby this year, and within a short time, decided to leave her practice in order to stay home with her kids. I suspected this might happen. It is hard to go to work when there are little ones at home to care for, and a way to logistically make ends meet.

I met with a new counselor today for the first time. It is an interesting challenge to condense life into one session, but I have gotten pretty good at it. It seems like this chapter of my life started with the divorce in 2012/13. I feel like I have finally gotten to a place in life, where my childhood issues are from another lifetime. I really think the EMDR therapy I did, played a big part in that.

After my one session condensed version of the current life chapter, I received my assignment….a very familiar assignment….TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. I am happy to say that I am doing a fair job of this. I find joy in many daily activities that I do. Not cooking though…not really cooking.

Yesterday, I saw Little AoA enjoy the moment while we were at the grocery store. She saw something that made her laugh, and took a picture.

She is terrified of “Elf on the Shelf”, but loves the movie,”Elf”. Here are the “Elf” cookies!

I cracked up when I saw this:

This sweet dog reminded me of one of my favorite things to watch, a dog herding sheep! This pup needed to feel needed!

To top it off, today, my 13 year old shared a story with me. He plays a lot of games online with others. Apparently, the mother of one of the people he plays online with, actually texted the personal phone of one of the gamers in their group. She called him a “shitface friend”, and threatened to press charges. My son, who has developed the reasoning of an attorney, questioned this. Needless to say, the kid and his mom were blocked from the group at this point. I am glad that my son stood with his boundaries about being threatened. I am glad that we have a relationship in which we are safe to admit when we have messed up. I had him reflect on his actions, and whether he had done anything that would be characterized as a “shitface friend”. I know his online people really don’t know him. They don’t see the anxiety that he experiences at the slightest real life interaction with another human outside his family.

I try to stay current in my understanding of the “connected generation”. I admit there is a generation gap. I can only imagine how I would have been if we had today’s technology when I was growing up!

~AoA

Moving Home

It’s official….my 30 year old son is moving back home! He has been living in Michigan for a few years. His best friend was there with him, but then took a job in California! My son stayed in Michigan with his job, but no other support. I am so glad he will be near the family once again.

He will stay in our tiny house in the back lot, until he gets a new job. His field is computer programming, and he has a master’s degree. It seems like it shouldn’t be that hard to find a company in need of his particular skill set. I could be wrong. I haven’t been in the job market for over 20 years- I’m sure it has changed.

I am happy for him to be able to participate with the family. I think his big sister might be a little jealous. I have been so happy about him moving home, when my daughter has been here the whole time. It is like the prodigal son. His little brother (my 13 year old), is at a place in life where he can appreciate having a buddy around who is interested in the same things he is. They have been so much alike.

Our moving date is in two weeks. I am praying for a smooth transition for him, and ease in finding valuable employment.

~AoA

The Needed Ouch

For the last three weeks, my left knee had been becoming increasingly more painful. I was almost in tears several times a day, with radiating pain above and below my knee.

I have already had a knee replacement on my right leg, and I dreaded the thought of having surgery on my left leg. The recovery was very painful and difficult. I kept putting off going to the doctor. I took anti-inflammatories multiple times a day, iced, and used several creams on my knee. None of it helped. It was just getting worse.

I went to the doctor Friday, and expected the worse. To my surprise, the doctor wants to start with steroid injections every three months, until they stop being effective. My knee is at the point of being bone on bone. A life of pushing my limits has caught up with me.

One of the things I miss, is bike riding. With the knee replacement, it just feels like too much to do more than a stationary bike at the gym. When I think back, some of my fondest memories involved a bicycle.

The shot appears to be working so far. I am hoping to put off surgery for as long as possible!

~AoA

The Lawnmower Man

I saw this on Facebook this week, and it just made me chuckle. To think that 176 people commented about the lawnmower man is impressive. I have asked the question myself, just not on social media. So who is this lawnmower man?

He is a bald man around 45 years old or so, who panhandles at busy shopping area roads. He is usually standing with a push lawnmower, as if he is looking for work. It seems that the truth is, he is not looking for work…just money. He does not want food…just money. Several people have noted that he can become threatening or aggressive at times.

When I see the lawnmower man, I just keep going. He has been around in our small town as long as I can remember. Out of the 176 people who responded on Facebook, many knew his situation. He is well taken care of, and just walks the streets panhandling, for something to do. He is not really looking to mow yards.

From volunteering at various places in our town, I know there are places that help provide for those in need. They keep a database to assist people by guiding them to all needed agencies, and to minimize fraudulent use by some.

But that lawnmower man….

Everyone knows who he is.

Is there anyone in your town who is well known like the lawnmower man?

~AoA

Movie Night!

Little AoA and I are big fans of Maleficent, and have been looking forward to the release of the second movie, “Maleficent Mistress of Evil”. We were able to see it tonight, and it did not disappoint! We will probably go see it again, only next time in 3D, as there were many scenes that look like they would be fantastic in 3D.

Little AoA wore her Maleficent hat to the movie, which was really cute.

I will say, it wasn’t really a movie suited for young viewers, as it did have quite a bit of violence and dark themes. There were three little kids sitting directly behind us, and it was clear that they were not enjoying the movie! So leave the little ones with a sitter, and enjoy!

The thing I love about the Maleficent movies, is that the villains aren’t always who you think, and love wins!

The closing song is just beautiful, and compliments the movie.

So put on your horns, and head to the movies! (3D if you can)!

~AoA