Friday, June 17, 2016

First Fatherless Day

This morning I noticed that I was very short tempered.  Tiny things that wouldn't normally bother me were making me red hot mad in an instant.  After snapping at the boys for a very minor infraction I stepped myself back.  Whoa, sister.  What's up?

Then it hit me.  All at once.  It started as that familiar sweeping feeling of sadness that literally takes my breath away.  Then the sort of scratchy, antsy feeling inside my chest followed.  Like I wanted to run away but couldn't and it wouldn't help anyway.

Ah.  It's Father's Day.  My first without one.  A father, I mean.

Last Father's Day I gave him a really great insulated water bottle to take with him to the golf course.  So he could stay hydrated and healthy.  I'd been nagging him to drink more water.  Little did we know he was already sliding into stage four by then.

Has it really been nearly a year since this all began?

I've been ignoring it all week.  Set it aside to focus on the father I do have to celebrate with this year.  The one who made me a mother.  A handmade card from my eldest.  A perfect little something to present to him on his special day.  But alas it caught me anyway.

As time ticks on and another first comes along I am still somehow surprised by how massively it hits me.  By how sad it still makes me.  By how large the spot is that his death left in me.

I keep thinking that if I can just make it through this first year I'll be done.  I'll feel better.  But as I keep relearning again and again, I will never be done.  Grief doesn't get done.  It changes.  It becomes  more tolerable.  It becomes lighter.  But it isn't ever over.  It's just a part of a new you.

But this new me misses him oh so greatly.  Every day, but some way more than others.

His smile.  His laugh.  His assuring way of listening.  His ease in conversations.  His perfect comedic timing.  The sense of security that a daughter has when she knows that if her entire world fell apart there would be one person left standing to hold her up.

Until he's not.

On this first Father's Day without him I will feel his absence very strongly but I will do my best to muster up more gratitude than sorrow because he was mine.  I will laugh and smile and look for the gifts he left within us that live on beyond him.  I will thank the universe and heavens above that I was lucky enough to have him, even if for not as long as I would have liked.

The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.  (Lao Tzo)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Stress (Mis)management

By nature, I'm a high strung person.  As I've mentioned before, I yell a lot.  I'm fairly controlling and I want things to be just right and just right usually means my way.  I get totally bent out of shape when things don't go the way I planned.  And I do this all to myself.  No one puts more pressure on me than me.  I recognize these traits in myself (I refuse to call them flaws...they are beneficial when it comes to many enterprises) and I accept them.  Lucky for me, my family and friends seem to do the same.  My husband rolls with the tide of my crazitude and doesn't even resent me for it.

Life with little kids is crazy stressful on its own.  They drive parents bananas with their constant and unceasing demand for care and attention and to rub salt into our already weeping wounds they turn it up a notch with messes upon messes and pushes of buttons and back talking and heart stopping risk taking and more and more and more and at the end of a normal day you are drained, tired, probably a little pissed off and have experienced many moments of high cortisol.

Being the high strung prone to pissiness kind of person I am, the parenting gig alone gives me enough stress that I need to regularly engage in stress reducing activities in order to feel good.  Yoga.  Walking.  Yard work.  Anything that makes me sweat.  And wine.  Beer.  Whatever.

But lately my already chaotic and emotionally challenged existence has reached a fever pitch in the stress department and I am not managing it well.    I'm managing it so poorly, in fact, that my body has actually developed an allergy to it.  My body said fuck you, enough is enough, you better slow this shit down or we will make you regret it.

And then it made good on its promise.

The last few months have brought new and greater ways to stress me the fuck out.  Making ready and listing my dad's house.  Making ready and listing our own house because, oh yea, did I mention?  We are relocating.  Finding a new neighborhood in a new city with a decent school and a sure thing investment in real estate.  Buyers backing out.  Negotiating a purchase of our new home.  Having absolutely zero down time as we paint and pack and make our house sparkle so we can sell it also.  Parent on my own a few days each week as my husband balances his career change, straddling two roles in two cities week after week.  Just an endless stream of jaw grinding, shoulder tensing shit on top of an already difficult time period in our role as parents.

Twice during these months I have had the great misfortune of seeing the physical manifestation of my stress all over my skin in the form of stress hives.  Hideous, itchy, spreading before my eyes as I freaked out watching them grow.

Stressing because of the rash and rashing because of the stress.

Obviously, I'm no doctor.   This is based purely on my own experience, not just of late but in other isolated times during my lifetime, and personal research, but here's the deal physiologically speaking.  Stress produces cortisol.  Lots of things reduce cortisol, like healthy eating, exercise and sex. When your body produces so much that you can't possibly reduce it enough your body begins making histamines to fend off the invading cortisol; the very same histamines that your body produces when you encounter an environmental allergen.  You become, in essence, allergic to stress.  In my case, the excess histamines resulted in a lovely and extremely hard to handle rash.  Twice.  In a month.

I had to get serious about stress reduction.  And I had to get a grip.  Stress has a cumulative effect and I've had a banner freaking year when it comes to stressful life changing events.

Things are progressing positively in every stress inducing category in my life and that alone is helping me chillax, but I'm also doing some other things to help push through this period and it is working.  It's taken an increase in my yoga and exercise time, lots and lots of slow, deep breathing throughout the day with my boys, trying to laugh more and yell less, placing a high priority on sleep, and a daily low dose of anti-anxiety medication.

Because I need a little help.  And a lot less (b)itch.

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