Generation gaps are painful.

My Grandma is awesome. She’s been there for me my entire life, never forgets a birthday and we have a special bond. She lives in Florida now and I’m in New York so unfortunately we don’t see each other often. My Grandpa was a hard working family man who passed away about 5 years ago so my Grandma lives alone in their retirement community. I grew up idolizing my Grandparent’s marriage and relationship. My Grandpa suffered from debilitating anxiety, went through a rough time around 50 years old and retired early. He spent his entire life busting his ass at work so that his wife could stay home and raise their 3 children comfortably. He worked so hard that when his anxiety was too much to bare at 50 years old he retired early and my Grandma continues to live off of his earnings today (she’s 82 years old).

My husband and I just returned from Florida where we stayed with my Grandma for a week. I’m glad that I got to see my Grandma. We’ve always been close and every time after I see her now I think that it could be the last time. However, despite the fact that I know she’s a good person she said some things this past week that just hasn’t sat well with my husband or I. The only explanation I have for it is our generational gap. Let me explain.

This little old lady is nice to your face no matter who you are. It’s what she says behind closed doors that you would find appalling.

What I heard this week was racist. Hateful. Ungrateful. Without empathy. Towards all types of ethnicities. Sexual orientation. Gender.

People who know me know that I’m passionate about gender equality. That I judge people buy their actions and not what they look like. That I have a whole lot of empathy for those who are underprivileged. I’m not like this because of the way I was raised because I was raised by people who do not necessarily have these same values. I think I’m like this because of my generation. I’m a millennial who has grown up in an equality movement. My Grandma grew up when segregation was still a thing and you lived your life according to the Bible. You stayed at home and raised babies and made dinner instead of having a job or having a career.

Here are a few of the things that went horribly wrong this past week:

1. Grandma commented on every female’s appearance. “She’s hideous”, “she’s fat”. How about we judge people based on what’s on the inside, no?

2. Grandma insulted a gay couple that lives next door to her. She thinks they are bad people because they are gay. “I wonder what they do over there all day? Probably pile on top of each other – gross!”, “He likes men and that’s wrong”, “I bet they’re drug addicts and he picks up men at the gay bar”. My mother in law is gay. My poor husband listened to these insults all week and maintained composure until the end. A saint.

3. My Grandma blatantly does not like minorities. She says derogatory terms like “colored person”, tells me she doesn’t like Mexicans and says that if any of the women in my family ended up with a minority we would have been disowned. How awful is this thought process? My cousin married a Mexican woman and she’s lovely. She probably doesn’t know a minority personally. Ignorant.

4. My Grandma and I were watching the news one morning when she said “there are too many women reporting the news. This is a mans job. I like to get my news from a man behind the desk.” WHAT?! All of these things are horrendous. This one impacted me personally as a female who has a career and works hard to break that glass ceiling.

5. My Grandma never talked down on my Grandpa for having a mental illness until he passed away. Now she’s saying he was awful to deal with and she had to be his therapist for years and she’s happy he’s no longer with us. My Grandpa had awful anxiety. He treated my Grandma like a queen. Always. She had the best life because of him and he was always there for her when she needed him. When he needed her she was there, but resents him for it. Heart breaking.

6. My Grandma’s cousin married a man who lived a double life. He had 2 wives and had families with both. When her cousin found out she was horrified but stayed with him despite knowing he was involved in and supporting another family. Grandma said she had to stay and men just do what they want. My Mother was subjected to domestic violence by my Father. Despite that, my Grandma told her to stay with him. My Dad was beating the shit out of her daughter and she told her to stay with him. What??

7. I struggle with anxiety as well. My Grandma told my husband that he needs to beware of what is to come with me (thinking that I’ll follow in my Grandpa’s footsteps), telling him that I’m not confident. That I’m “mental”. Will be an “invalid”. My husband is my biggest fan and naturally came to my defense. That resulted in a heated exchange after which my Grandma told me that she thinks he’s “negative” and a “know it all”. That is not the case at all. No one knows how hard I fight.

People change with age. Experiences. Time. Truth is, that woman I grew up idolizing has always been this way. She’s just old now and doesn’t care about who she hurts or how she makes others feel.

I love my Grandma. But I’m disappointed in her lack of empathy and ignorance. I know there is nothing that you can do to make a 82 year old woman change her thought process. My husband tried.

What is interesting is that my Mom’s thought processes are between my Grandma’s and my own. I can only hope that the next generation continues to move in the right direction.

Love is love. We all bleed red. None of us are superior. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. Equal work equal pay.

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True love has a habit of coming back.

Relationships are tough. Especially when you have anxiety. My anxiety manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes it impacts me physically and other times my mood sours. I get short and temperamental not because I’m mad at you but because my mind is racing and I’m feeling awful physically and you just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Add that behavior to months of not telling your spouse how you really feel about a few things and you get a disaster. Let’s just say today I didn’t bite my tongue and what I should’ve said to him in a productive manner didn’t come out as planned. I also said what I needed to say with intent to hurt since I had been hurting for a while now. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

So after a day of dealing with me he tells me he’s leaving the house for a little bit. I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of what I was dishing today.

I’m very self aware and self-less, and I need to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is like that. I’ve been with my husband since we were 17 years old. We have both changed so much over the past 13 years. We’ve both taken each other for granted in different ways. Our love language is different. We think differently. We ARE different. Period.

My intent is never to hurt. But sometimes the truth hurts and you have to be honest with yourself and your partner when something isn’t right. Years ago we went to marriage counseling and learned how to communicate effectively. It changed our marriage for the better. It’s funny how over time you forget the lessons you’ve learned and find yourself slipping back into your old ways.

I think we argue about the same things all couples argue about. Relationships are a series of hills and valleys, but one thing I know for sure: even though I’ve hated him all day when he left the house I missed him. I missed him so much my chest physically hurt. And that tells me everything I need to know. 💛

Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.

I have so many thoughts today. What I’m about to write will be really random (and just a few of them). I just feel like I need to get some stuff off my chest. After all, this is pretty much my online diary.

Thought #1: For most of my life I’ve felt alone. Alone in the sense that I don’t share or agree with the same beliefs, ideals and actions of most of those closest to me. One thing that I think we can all agree on is the fact that we’re all really passionate. This often results in conflict, distance or the “elephant in the room” effect where being together is just awkward. We are all pretty different; the only thing uniting us is blood and/or marriage. I think we can agree that we all care about and love each other to some extent. But that love isn’t enough to unite us. Instead we remain divided and some choose to take sides. This makes me really sad. It also triggers some self reflection. Here’s what I know:

  • I am selfless. There have been so many situations in my life where I’ve been able to set aside hurt feelings and differences for the greater good of something or someone else. Even if it results in further heartache for me. There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for the people I love, whether they realize it or not.
  • I’ve always been the bigger person. Sometimes this is exhausting. Apologizing even when you know you’re right. Reaching out to end an awkward silence. Struggling to stay silent on a controversial topic with a loved one because you value the relationship more than trying to convince them that they’re wrong. Supporting someone’s beliefs even if they differ from your own.
  • I always come from a good place. Sometimes I don’t tell you what you want to hear, but what I think you need to hear because I care about you and I think you may be headed down a wrong path. Typically my delivery gets me in trouble (I tend to be kind of blunt). I never say or do anything with the intent of hurting anyone’s feelings. I only say to others what I would hope they would say to me if necessary. I value honesty and facts.
  • I have a lot of empathy. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t let the same people hurt me over and over because I wouldn’t feel bad for them. However, we are all responsible for ourselves and our actions. Empathy is not always reciprocated (in my case, rarely). There comes a time when you have to come to terms with the way people are and protect yourself; despite understanding why they may be the way they are. We are all the way we are due to circumstance but we all can choose to be the people we want to be. I’m living proof of that.

Thought #2: My (new) boss of 8 months just tendered his resignation. Although he’s been my boss, I’ve been doing his job for the past year and a half at a pay grade 2 levels lower than him. He quit because he couldn’t handle the stress and demands of the job. Even though I was doing his job prior to him starting at my company, I wasn’t considered for the position due to “lack of experience” also known as age. Despite the fact that during my performance reviews I’ve always exceeded expectations (which I should be, seeing as how I’m a grade 11 doing a grade 13 job). The man they hired to do the job had 30 years of experience opposed to my 10, and he failed to meet one deliverable in 8 months. I’ve met all deliverables. So here is the dilemma: once they realized they hired a dud to do the job, they began to think that maybe I should’ve been given the opportunity. Now that he’s given his resignation, rumor has it I’ll be offered the job.

But not at a grade 13, a grade 12. Not 8 months ago, but now. Not before they hired a retirement aged man to do the job instead of 30 year old female me. This isn’t a job I love doing. It’s a job that allows me the ability to travel and live my life a certain way. So if I do get “promoted” to a 12, I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing. But I’m extremely jaded. I’ll never forget what this company did to me. And I’ll continue to look for a new job.

Thought #3: I am stronger than my fears. For those of you that don’t know, I have generalized anxiety disorder. There are certain triggers that give me anxiety but I also generally have anxiety all the time for reasons I can’t explain. In terms of triggers, leaving the house and air planes give me a lot of anxiety. Despite that, I travel via air plane at least once a year and leave the house for days if not weeks at a time. I have a fear of public speaking and confrontation, and despite that I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and possibly take on more of that if I happen to get promoted as anticipated (because although I’m doing more than my current boss now, if I get promoted they’ll expect even more out of me). I do my best to not let my mental illness define me. Those of you who struggle know how hard that is. For those of you who don’t, try to have some empathy and just imagine.

Thought #4: I just got back from 5 days of vacation in the Bahamas. It was great to get away. Unfortunately, due to the anxiety described in thought #3 above, I stress ate while we were there and gained back 6 of the 8 lbs I lost before we left! It took me 2 months of eating healthy and hours of working out to lose 8 lbs and in 5 days and 4 nights I managed to gain 6 lbs back. Damn it!!!!!

Thought #5: The Walking Dead returns tonight and since I just returned from vacation and tomorrow is Monday, I need something to look forward to. Anything that distracts me from reality is great.

And those are some of my current thoughts. Overall my soul feels heavy today. But it’s 50 degrees out and the sun is trying to shine through the clouds. It’s up to me to try and make it a great day. ☀️

“SAD”

I’m really depressed. I feel numb. Fatigued. On the verge of tears. Exhausted. I don’t know what to say and don’t want to talk about it. Emotionless. 

I spent all night last night having anxiety attacks staring at the clock. Finally around 5am I got out of bed and worked out for an hour, hoping to release some of the adrenaline. It didn’t help. I was just sore and anxious after.

My sister got baptized this morning. I’m not a religious person so going to church is uncomfortable for me, seeing as how I don’t know any of the songs, prayers, etc. I’m also am introvert so the small talk is torture. I know how much it meant to my sister that I be there so I went with my husband. As if that situation didn’t cause me enough anxiety, my Dad also went. My Dad and I do not have a good relationship and I had no idea how he would act towards my husband and I. I figured that he would be cordial since we were in a church celebrating my sister. Wrong. 

He acted as though we were invisible, blatently ignoring us. While he wouldn’t make eye contact with me, he disregarded my husband very rudely. Suddenly I became overrun with emotion and ran out of the church hoping no one would see me cry. After a few minutes I pulled myself back together and went inside. We didn’t sit with the rest of the family. We also didn’t attend the cookout afterwards since my Dad was going to be there and I didn’t want to risk conflict and ruin my sisters day.

I don’t even know why my Dad is mad at me anymore. Why he doesn’t want me in his life. This is the first time he’s rejected me in public. Normally he cares about perception – God forbid people know how messed up our relationship is. God forbid he is seen as the bad guy. But not this time. Usually he pretends to not be an asshole in front of people so that I look like the ass. Not this time. I don’t know why I got so emotional, I’m used to this. Just not in public. This felt like he finally threw in the towel with me. Chose to write me off permanently and wanted to make it known. 

From the time I was 14 I’ve been going through this with him. People say to me “he’s an asshole don’t let him get to you”, “he doesn’t deserve to have you in his life”, “don’t let him get you down”. I wish it was that easy, but I do care. He’s my Father. He has messed up a lot, but he’s my parent. I’m supposed to be able to call him when I have a bad day. I’m supposed to know that he will have my back when I fall. Care about my life. Be there for me when I need him. Love me unconditionally. But he doesn’t. I haven’t had a Father since I was 14 years old and it looks like I’ll never have one. That’s a hard pill to swallow. 

It’s also Sunday. The day where anxiety and depression take over every single week. I dread going to work on Mondays. I need a new job. 😔

Current events also make me depressed and anxious. North Korean threats to the USA and white supremacy rallies. I hope people realize that these white supremacy groups do not represent all white people. I’m so disappointed in humanity lately. 

I’m going to bed. 😞

Split families got me like…

Warning: This is going to be a complete vent session. 

I come from a split family. My parents got divorced when I was 5 years old. I grew up with parents that had so much resentment for eachother that co-parenting was out of the question. My childhood was a legit hot mess. 

My Dad did some “dating” (or hooking up, whatever term you’re into) and after several women found my step mom. They’ve been together probably 20 years or so. My Mom ended ended up marrying the first guy she dated post divorce, and they’ve been together for 25 years. 

My Step Dad had no children of his own. My Step Mom had 2 from a previous marriage. I spent my childhood living about half with my Dad and half with my Mom. I became close to my step siblings. When I was 14 I decided I wanted to live with my Mom permanently and that’s when my relationship with my Dad crumbled. Unfortunately that meant distance from my Step Mom and siblings as well.

Fast forward about 10 years and my Dad and I attempt a relationship again. Over those 10 years we spoke sporadically, usually when my Dad drank a few too many cocktails and grew what I like to call “beer balls” (yes I know his booze of choice isn’t beer, but Bacardi and you get the point). Needless to say those sporadic conversations didn’t end well (they were the reason I left to begin with). 

My Dad and I eventually talked, I told him how I felt about everything I had been through as a child and how much pain I still carried with me. He told me how he felt and we decided to attempt to put that all behind us and start over despite the fact that we didn’t agree on anything. I gave this relationship an honest effort. Made sure I reached out from time to time, drove an hour to see him (he wouldn’t come to my house) and played nice even though almost everything that comes out of his mouth I don’t agree with. We are totally different people.

Fast forward to a few years ago when my husband and I were having marital issues and he threw some house renovations that he did for us in my face (we paid him, FYI). Although I was hurt and angry, I decided to make another attempt at a relationship with him. We pretty much repeated what I indicated in the last paragraph. I drove to see him on holidays and for cookouts. Actually, it was more to see my siblings. I really enjoy spending time with them and missed seeing them when my Dad and I were on the outs. 

Time goes by and it’s time for the 2016 election. Dad and I have completely different political views. We exchanged a few Facebook messages about what was going on. He seemed to love talking to me about politics – I couldn’t figure out if it was the debate he enjoyed or just the fact that we always had awkward conversation until then when we spoke like 2 friends talking about politics. Needless to say, when Trump won the election I was devastated. For multiple reasons that I won’t get into now. Suddenly those disrespectful Hillary memes weren’t so funny anymore. We began talking less and less and finally he blocked me on Facebook. I unfriended him – no need for him to see what’s going on in my life if he doesn’t even want a relationship with me. And now we haven’t spoke in months.

A few days ago my sister told me that she is getting baptized in 2 weeks. She recently went on a spiritual journey if you will and although I found it odd I always support her as long as what she’s doing isn’t harming her in any way. My Dad on the other hand has not been very supportive of her. To my surprise, she told him about the baptism and he said he is going to go with my step mom. Great. 

I’m happy that he is going to support my sister. He also knows that I always support her and I will be there. I wonder if he is dreading seeing me and much as I am dreading seeing him? I wonder if he feels the elephant in the room like I do. I wonder if he thinks this is a good opportunity to talk to me (it’s not). I wonder if he likes seeing me full of angst and uncomfortable. I know him being there will mean a lot to my sister and I guess that’s all that matters.

Since I haven’t seen my siblings in months, we thought it would be nice to get everyone together for a cook out. My sister and I talked about it and decided it would be “kids only”. Well today I’m told it’s going to be at my step brothers house right after my sisters baptism. Where my Dad will be. Great. I want to spend time with my siblings so bad but the anxiety that comes along with dealing with my Dad is too great of a burden to bare right now. I know my Dad will want to take my sibs out to eat after my sisters baptism and I know my step brother will invite him back to their house because he will feel guilty. 

This all may sound really petty, but I just don’t have the energy anymore. I’ve tried to have a relationship with my Dad. I’ve put myself in so many uncomfortable positions to spend time with my family. I’ve cried so many tears thinking about the past. There is literally no more gas in my tank when it comes to dealing with this.

I would love to see my siblings but I can’t do it at the expense of my mental health anymore. Call me selfish but this is not ok with me. I am not ok. 

I step out of my comfort zone all the time to live life like a somewhat normal person despite the fact I struggle with GAD. Having GAD is something that I can’t change. I’ve always had it. But I can control my environment and it’s time that I control the things that I CAN control. 

That said, no, I do not want to come to your cookout if my Dad will be there. Yes, I miss my siblings. Yes, I wish I had a relationship with my Dad so it wasn’t awkward for all of us but this is just the way it is. I’ve tried. I’ve spent the last 10 years of my adult life trying. I’ve come to terms with what is. 

I will go to my sister’s baptism. I will be polite and be the bigger person when I see my Dad for the first time in a year. I will not put myself in an uncomfortable position with him any longer than I have to.  Been there, done that. 

🎈

Siiiggghhhh….

“Wash your hands”, “did you touch that?”, “here use this hand sanitizer”. What is life like when you’re married and you have generalized anxiety disorder and OCD? Horrible.

My husband gets frustrated. I get it, I do too. I would too if I was living with someone paranoid; directing me to wash my hands after touching certain door handles (although they’ve already been sanitized), touching my wallet or my phone (also already sanitized). 

I was a child that grew up outside playing in the mud. Showering was done but not because I necessarily wanted to. Touching everything. Eating everything. Not thinking about germs. I’ve always struggled with generalized anxiety disorder but not OCD. Until about 4 years ago. Every time I left the house and came back or touched the door handles going into the house I’d have to wash my hands. I’d always wash my hands before cooking which was normal for me but back then I could do it and then touch the tv remote, my phone etc. As time progressed I started over analyzing the things I touched after I washed my hands and determining that those needed to be sanitized. Now I find myself sanitizing my car at the end of every week after getting gas. Door handles in the house that are used when we go in and out. Faucets. Phones. Coffee cups that come in from the outside. Remote controls. The garage door opener/closer. Even the recliner handles.

How did it get to this point? I used to never even think about this stuff. What is wrong with me? I have a theory. 

I think sanitizing is an outlet for my anxiety. What I mean by that is I used to get debilitating panic attacks for years. I still get them now and then but as my OCD routines have gotten worse my panic attacks have gotten better. The generalized anxiety is always there but the full blown take me to the ER panic attacks have subsided. Is this a possible? I have no idea – but the coincidence is odd. 

The OCD makes it challenging to live. Leaving the house is a chore knowing that I have to come home and do my routine every time I do. Spending the night at other places besides my home (hotel rooms, relative’s houses, etc.) is horrifying. Airplanes make me want to gag. I love traveling, but this makes it so much harder. I stock up on hand sanitizer and use it constantly while flying. I’m probably a few flights away from bringing wipes and sanitizing the area that we sit in (I already bring them for hotel rooms we stay in).

My husband has become very understanding and supportive of me having GAD over the years; mostly thanks to therapy. But he has a hard time with the OCD. I can’t say I blame him. I’m not sure I could be married to someone like this if I was on the other side. “Just stop doing it – what’s so hard about that?!” Dude – you have no idea. Funny thing is he acts like I like living this way. I feel like I’m trapped in a mind telling me to do things that I cannot control. Telling me we’re going to get violently ill if I don’t sanitize. Giving me horrible anxiety until I go through my routines. Not the life I want to live either. 

So where do we go from here? The OCD gets progressively worse as time goes on. Would I trade it for the panic attacks I used to get? If I don’t sanitize it will give me panic attacks. What’s worse? 

If you don’t suffer with any of these mental illnesses I can only imagine what you’re thinking: this chick is crazy. But hear me out. I have a college degree. A full time job that pays well. I own a home. I have pets. A husband. I pay taxes. I’m fortunate to be able to contribute to society in some way. If you look at me on the outside you may never know how bad I’m struggling inside. Most people that find out I struggle with this look at me wide eyed; saying they could never tell. I walk amongst everyone else with a smile although inside I feel like I’m being gutted. I’ve learned to live with this and it hasn’t been easy. You never know what someone is going through. 

As for my husband, I feel so much guilt. We’ve been married 5 years; together 12. My mental illness has progressed steadily over those 12 years, mostly since we’ve been married. Is it fair for us to be together? For him to have to put up with my antics. This isn’t what he signed up for – or is it? If it were him how would I react? There are so many things going through my mind right now. He’s started to give me a hard time about it and is borderline becoming unsupportive. “In 10 years you won’t be able to work or leave the house at this rate”. Maybe he’s right. My heart breaks every time I’m forced to think about the reality of the situation. This sucks. Anyone else going through this and if so, how do you cope?

They say, “time heals everything”, but I’m still waiting…

Exhaustion. Fatigue. The result of prolonged anxiety. I’ve definitely been in a rut since returning from Hawaii. Work has been busy, now that Spring is here my yard is in need of an overhaul and Hallmark holidays are coming up that I dread. One in particular – Father’s Day. 

A reminder of my non-existent relationship with my Father. A reminder of the resentment I hold. A reminder of how much I wish things could be different. Usually for these holidays we spend time with my in-laws since my Mom and Step Dad live out of town. Lately spending time with anyone but my Husband or leaving the house in general is a real drag. Perhaps another sign that I need to make some changes in my life.

Other things on my mind: my cat still has a growth on her head, need to call the vet tomorrow. Feeling guilty for asking to work remote tomorrow despite the fact my boss(s) said it was ok. Stressed about the volume of work that I need to do. Need to finish removing shrubs from my gardens. Need to pick out new shrubs and order mulch. I understand a lot of this is “first world problems” or to some people not really problems at all but when you have generalized anxiety disorder all of these “to-dos” are overwhelming. I also really need to lose weight and stop eating my feelings. 

I’ve been thinking about writing a novel. I like to write – it distracts me from my self and is a good outlet for me creatively. After weeks of thinking about the storyline of my book I had a dream Saturday night that wrote my book for me. I tend to like twisted books and movies and always pictured myself writing a twisted novel or a self help book for others struggling with my mental disorders. Looks like someone else made the decision for me. Now to find time to write…

Hope everyone has a great week!