OK Mom, I Did It. What Next?

Last couple of days have not been easy for me. (Life has been a bit of a whirlwind… thus no post recently here. Too much going on & no time to write.)

The 5 year anniversary of being attacked hit me harder than I ever would have thought it would. Can’t believe it has already been so long. Hard to think that my hand has been wonky all that time. I still am not used to the scars. Grateful for the help my Mom & sister were in helping me get through healing & dealing with all that entailed. Don’t know what I would do if it happened today.

Started a book that details struggling with a mother who is dying from cancer in the first chapter & that brought back a lot of memories. Tough to get through & I admit I ended up crying myself to sleep that night & spent most of the next day upset. Just missing Mom pretty big right now.

For one thing, she would be so happy.

My last class is DONE.

My last semester is DONE.

Not only done, but with a 4.0 GPA which I am pretty stinking proud of since there were definitely a few times I was struggling.

So am I officially a graduate? Not sure.  Technically I think so, but the community college doesn’t do December graduation ceremonies so I have to wait until May if I wanted to do all the pomp & circumstances formalities.  Having gone all out for my bachelor degree graduation, I have had my moment. Truth be told, I was done with all that after High School but Mom pushed me to do it & I guess I am glad I did.

I promised her before she died that I wouldn’t quit. No matter what I would finish this program. She didn’t want her death to stop my life.

So Mom. I did it. Finished & I know you would be proud.

But now what?

Sort of bitter-sweet. Another step further away from her & the part of life that we shared. Had to happen and I’m glad to be finished, but in a way it connected me to something I was doing for her…. and for me.

Instead of wild parties & living it up celebrating, feel more like just snuggling up with a cozy blanket in a quiet room. (Doesn’t help my cold has turned into a sinus infection.) So that is what I am doing. Relaxing. Savoring the emotions whatever they are.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great moments that have happened lately.

Got to get away to the mountains with a great guy who I trust and who understands what I have been through. In fact he was supposed to meet up with me that night but ended up celebrating his birthday with friends in another part of town. Comforting having someone who knew you before and knows you now. I know I have changed but then again doesn’t everyone over time?

So now instead of student, I am recently graduated & unemployed for the moment. First of the year I hope to change that. Til then I am going to spend as much time enjoying life with people I love as I can knowing that this moment is all I have. Tomorrow isn’t promised but hopefully we can keep the promises we make and go on to make more. Always something to work toward and look ahead to.

Just need to figure out what.

Run, Run Fast As You Can

Note to self:  You are super & you are a woman, but you are not Super Woman!

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Nope. I can not do it all all the time.

Even with best intentions no one can achieve it all.  This week was my lesson in learning to take time to care for me.

Last week found me caring for mom, dad, three parrots, four dogs & anything else I could.  Setting up my “new” space at their house and trying to adjust to living with other humans again (things like bath robes and earphones come into play when you share space with family, nurses, etc. at all hours).  Then I dashed off to drive 3 hours to my house to rush in to start this semester of classes.  In my haste I left behind one of the medications I take, but what is a couple of days? PLENTY.  Spent time being outside of class making up for lost time running around trying to be 6 places at once.  Lack of ambien (darn needing to pick up refills), the sudden influx of helicopter traffic in my neighborhood & dealing with night terrors every 2 hours had me zombie eyed & wishing for time to sleep.

I crashed.  Hard.

The added stress of everything kicks up symptoms anyway.  Being in public shopping recently has been harder.  I’m in no way back to being where I was at my worst, but I recognize the pattern.  Go somewhere, breathing starts getting harder, head feels spacey, everything seems extra loud including the blood pulsing rapidly through every inch of my body.  After about 15 to 20 minutes I start to feel like my insides are going from concrete to slush & back again.  I fidget nervously.  Usually if I can move about I can release some of the adrenaline & try to calm down a little.  Feeling trapped makes it worse.  It can be something as simple as being “trapped” by having to wait on someone else or a check out line.  I recognize there is no real threat, but my body doesn’t listen to my rational mind in these moments.

Fight or flight is pure animal instinct.  You can discuss as much as you want, it will be as it will be.  Once an attack starts, it is very hard to stop.

With a regular schedule, sleep & my medicine, I keep in control of it all.

This past week I had not a single one of those three.

My first class went great.  It was less than an hour & even the professor was a familiar face.  Second class was slated for 3 hours, but didn’t last that long.  The professor is great.  Intense, but great.  Going around the room introducing ourselves has never been a favorite game for me but I survived.  Panic? yup but I kept it under control.  3rd class I was less successful.  It was only 2 hours and was same group as the 1st class but I lost it.  Klonapin, internal dialogue  stepping out to group in the bathroom & move around didn’t help.  I ended up in full-blown panic mode.  After leaving the class for a 2nd time (this time with books in hand), I barely made it home – my safe zone.  Once there it still took a while to calm down.  Then my body was so exhausted I ended up falling asleep for a few hours.  I really didn’t think I would be able to make it to my fourth class (the 1st session of the 3rd course).  I did.  It was a major struggle to stay through but I did it.

Once someone has a panic attack somewhere, for some reason it is more common for them to have another one there.  Being in the same exact classroom for all my classes doesn’t exactly help.

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Still I refuse to give up.  I have fought hard for far too long to let myself slip backwards.  At the same time, I recognize that everything going on in my world right now is very tough.  Can’t be too hard on myself.

I’m extremely grateful that the professor I have in the class where I had to leave part way through is understanding.  Hindsight I probably should have explained what was going on prior, but it is tough.  I want to be respected for the work I do same as any other student in that class.  Still at this point I am glad she is aware of my situation with my mom & living in two places at the moment.  There is some comfort knowing that she is willing to work with me if need be.

So first week almost down.  Lessons noted.  I have GOT to be sure my oxygen mask goes & stays on first before assisting my fellow passengers. ha ha.

Which is why this afternoon I am relaxing.  Back on ALL my medications and ready to get a 2nd full night of sleep.

I have full faith I will find the balance in all this.

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What Matters Really

So yesterday was a freak out day.

We all get them now & then.  Doesn’t make them easier to deal with but at least they like all other days, only can last 24 hours.

Part of what was really bothering me was making that danged Will, Living Will, Powers of Attorneys & Health Care Power of Attorney.  It was just for a class assignment, but we also notarized them and made them legit – if the student chose to.  Its something I didn’t have, so why not?  Its needed.

In making it, it forced me to really look at my life.  What I would leave behind if today was the day.

What did I value?  What made it into my will?

Funny enough, I didn’t think about my camera equipment, jewelry or anything that can be insured.  What I stressed about was Baxter & the birds.  They are what matters to me.  No I didn’t leave them all my money (what money?) but what I did do was spell out exactly what should happen if I go prior to them.  Baxter has to have a loving home where he will be a valued companion.  He has been abandoned before & I don’t want him to end up back in an animal shelter.  The birds, well I know what happens to parrots that end up at animal shelters.  Mine will never go (or go back) there.  They have to go to a rescue group that specializes in re-homing  companion parrots or a sanctuary.

The other depressing part was… who to name.  Makes you really see where the heart strings are…. or aren’t.  Who can you trust?

Sadly family is very limited right now & the likelihood of my parents outliving me isn’t one I can count on.  My sister is here & brother in law, but beyond that?

Slightly depressing? you betcha.

As much as I study and strive to do the best at whatever career I so chose, at the end, its family that is by your side.  They are the ones who remember you.  They are what matter most.

Which frankly scared the hell out of me.

Already know what its like to lose family and not looking forward to the declining numbers.  Still it escapes me on how family is made.  (yes I know the biology class how to part) How it all bonds together over the years.  Two singles become the couple that develops into the start of the family.  So strange and magical, yet happens daily all over the world.

more realistically this blog!

I’m not at a place in my life where I am ready for kids just yet, but still scary to think that I’m also not at a place where I have that strong couples bond.  Not something I can fake or force.

What I really have to come to terms with is if I’m ok with the opposite.  Can I be that person who stands on their own til the end?  How do I make my life worth having been through?  Guess that is something I think we have to ask everyday.  Treat each day as a way to bring something better into it.

Figure out how to find the inner peace and be proud of who we have been and are because really that is what matters most.

…..well as far as I can tell….

Hoping that all works itself out quickly & that I can attend classes that aren’t so close to home and depressing.  Bring on the legal research & torts cases!  On a positive side, it is good to think through things and may be exactly what needed to happen sooner or later.  On to better days!

Out of Thin Air

As much as a 3 day week sounds blissful, I’m starting to see the downsides.  Four days off are nothing to complain about, but reality is the 3 days I am in school and trying to get everything done are intense.  Add in trying to date and have a life and its the perfect storm for needing those 4 recovery days.  At least when they are weeks like this one.

Working? um… why would I? to pay bills? Ha!  That implies there are actually jobs available that will be flexible enough to work with school schedules! Right. Not in this area lately.

Sure I could go for the Do You Want Fries With That option I guess, but I am trying to avoid the Freshman Fifteen this go around (does a 2 year associates even have a Freshman year?) and in all reality the minimum wage for busting my ass route is just going to leave me with no energy to study anything.  So what’s the point? I’d flunk out anyway.

Thought that Grants & Scholarships would be extremely helpful this go around since the first time I did college I didn’t go for any at all.  I was extremely lucky in that my grandparents & parents did some serious sacrificing and planning to put me through starting the day I was born.  So since I haven’t even used assistance before, why not now right? WRONG.  No longer eligible.

here have some cash… just kidding!

The grant I got – turns out someone in Financial Aid is a moron.  They gave me money yet some how are now saying I didn’t qualify for it.  So they took it back.  Why don’t I qualify? bad grades? shady past? criminal records? blue eye shadow?  Nope.  Simply because I have a degree.  A degree I was honest about from the get go in applying to school.

So now I owe several hundred dollars which they let me use at the bookstore for this now imaginary grant.  Which has to be repaid before I can register for classes next week.  Not sure how many people who aren’t working actually have that money just laying around without any purpose, but its not this girl.

Everything I have goes to getting by.  Sure I’m not eating ramen every night, but I have cut back on a lot of expenses since starting school.  So much so that I’m frustrated in a lot of ways.  But that is adulthood.  Not very many people do have tons of extra money to just toss.  Its a trade off I am willing to make.  Every purchase matters more now.  If I decide to go get a cup of coffee out, that means I have to cut corners elsewhere.  Its life.

Still I’m at the point where, its starting not to work.

Added unexpected expenses, like the grant I now have to repay along with the tuition for next year, are just not working out.

So stressed? You betcha.

What’s a girl to do?  There are several places hiring for full time.  One side of me says to take a step back and start working again.  School will be there when I can get to it.  Maybe take one night class for the next decade.   Still going full time would mean I am done and working in a job I am going to want to be in, in roughly another year and a half.  IF I can get there.

Student loans? As much as my parents really don’t want me to take on more debt… they are starting to seem like a very real option.  Scary as it may be, the money has to come from somewhere.

Between trying to figure all this out and finalizing a will & end of life paperwork (for class, but still hit me hard emotionally), study for exams, stay up on readings, prepare for a speech (um… got an A even with um… saying um… way more than um… I wanted to!) and doing photowalks, honoring soldiers and staying connected with friends, I AM BEAT.  My brain feels fried.  Deep fried.

Still no stopping now.  It may be my “weekend” but there is laundry to do, bags to pack, roads to travel with family waiting at the end to see.  Oh yeah… & homework. Lots and lots of homework.  With another exam waiting for me at 11 am on Monday.

this is my favorite mug. tends to always be dirty.

Thank goddess for the Keurig & pug snuggles.

Get Ready to Swim

For some reason I keep being told how its raining today.

It has been raining all week it seems.  Everyday.  Rain, rain, rain.  Yet people feel the need to point that out. An email, a chat, facebook & twitter post…. so much buzz about the rain.  Even the dating site I am on sent out an email sharing the fact that it’s raining now & that increases the likelihood of people logging in.  So?

Usually I love rainy days, but this is starting to get old.  Baxter looks up at me every time I try to let him out with a pitiful look as if I have the power to make the rain stop but just am not.  Like I am mean.  Some sad pug torture.

The rain is go for my own torture – homework.

Nose to the books.  So much to do.  I made the mistake of making a list as soon as I woke up of all the upcoming homework assignments and when they would be do.  Hoped that it would help me prioritize and schedule it all to be done.  Instead it just added to the feeling of drowning.

But I know I can tread water.

It will get done.

I’m just grateful to have a nice raft to float in while I get through this.  Support and encouragement keep me afloat.  Even when I start to doubt myself, I’m lucky enough to have great people around me cheering me on.  In life and now in this endeavour.

So while I may be going a bit stir crazy and wondering what on earth I have gotten myself into, I know in the end this whole experience is going to lead me to exactly where I am meant to be.

In 3 out of the 5 classes we have had to go around the room in some fashion and introduce ourselves and why we are taking the course.  I have been shocked at some of the things people say.  One was so brazen to actually say they were only taking the class to appease their parents.  They themselves had no idea what they wanted to do but they didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk pushing papers.  All I could think was, then get out of the room and stop wasting their money and our time.  Guess there was a time when I too waded through courses just because they were needed to graduate, but I always found something of value in it and was never so rude as to start the semester off like that.  Not under their breath quietly said it, but when he was called on directly to the teacher said it.  Feel very lucky to be in course that have value and meaning to me.

So let it rain down.  Wash away the dirt and grime from the world and let it be what it is meant to be.  Sparkle on.

As for me…. back to the books!

Here We Begin… again

First day!

Of this semester of classes and I am beat.  Thrill of it all and being slightly overwhelmed by all that will be needed of me this fall.

Taking five classes is no joke.  Can’t believe I debated taking six!  Thankfully I didn’t go that route this time.  So far I’ve been to 3 classes and feel like I need to read from now to November to get it all down.  Part is a lot of the legal terminology is still new to me.  Will come in time and I have made flash cards to try to get some of the shorthand memorized, but its slowing me down.

That and I am still questioning the system.

One of the classes brought up ethics and how in this profession as much as you want to be the one who saves the world, sometimes work requires you to put aside your personal beliefs in order to do the tasks asked.  Completely get that, but I know as dedicated as I can be to opinions, it is going to get tough.  Hoping that I can find a way to remember that there are moral ethics and then there are legal ethics.  Have to trust that the right thing will be and do whatever I can to assist the process.  What is it going to be like to have to play Devil’s Advocate?

So many times I do see the black and white in the world in what I think should be but even when I feel black, I’m going to need to be able to see and fight for the white as well.  Should be interesting.

On thing is for sure, this is where I should be.

That and there is going to be a lot of book cracking and page turning at my place from now to winter break.

Certainly not going to be a breeze or something I can just stumble through.  Studying just got serious again.  To which I say – “BRING IT BITCH.  I got this!”

Day one down & looking forward to everything to come.

Well except tomorrow’s class.  Public Speaking is already making me nervous and I haven’t even been to the class yet.  I swear if it wasn’t required there is no way I would be getting up early for that, but just another speed bump.

Nothing I can’t handle.

Return

Some days just should be labeled with a Word of the Day.  Today’s would be return.  Everytime I turn around I found myself using it.

Returned from another Charlotte trek late last night and ended up starting the day later than I thought I would have.

Also one of the things that I deal with from time to time is nightmares.  The ambien cuts them down big time, but occassionally I still have one or two slip in.  Since adding Baxter to my life several years ago there are nights where I find myself being awoken from the terror to a lil black worried face staring at me & snuggling close.  Doubt this qualifies him as a service dog, but it certainly earns his keep in my eyes.  Last night as I was up late catching up on emails and missed episodes of the Daily Show, I got to return the favor.  Started out as the typical Baxter dozing off and snoring away.  After a while the snores switched into a different mode.  Then I got to see something I had never seen him do before – he stretched out & up and HOWLED.  Like a wolf at a full moon…. while STILL asleep.  The first couple of times I just watched in awe.  He’s a pug & far from wolf-like.  Guess in his mind last night he was the beast within.

Since it just didn’t seem right, I snuggled up & started calling him.  He didn’t react at first but soon slowly came around & looked at me.  Can’t help but wonder if I had returned the favor.  Thankfully he & I both got to sleep not long after.

School is starting back up Monday & I’m starting to feel nervous again about being back in classes – full time.  Summer session was great, but this is going to be 5 classes to keep up with instead of just the two I had to focus on then.  Got the book this afternoon.  All but one that is out of stock.  May have to order it online after all.  All I can say it how thankful I am for that grant!  These things are expensive.  But I am ready to go back…. I think.

still kinda feel like a giddy girl getting ready for school to start.

Also got the news that my cousin has safely returned from his latest deployment!  Proud of him, but grateful for him to be back and about to be able to enjoy sometime doing whatever he chooses without the threats around every corner.  Chatting with another friend over there makes it all too real.  I know some areas are worse than others as far as activity, but it feels good knowing he is back.  Thankfully soon the friend will be too.

I’m of the opinion that sometimes the best thing to heal the fear is to jump back in and in that line of thought, am open to dating.  No real desire to yet, but figure its going to take a while to find someone I click with again.  Hopefully its the last time I have to activate a dating profile but why not?  Well today is why not.  Those guys are crazy.  Plenty of Freaks is more like it.  Not going to get into specifics but lets just say there are two more profiles on my blocked list.  The things people will say on there!  I may be the odd one out but for me, its not first come gets the job.  I want something real.  Someone I can communicate with and respect while having a blast and dealing with life side by side.  Seems to search for the diamond in the ball pit means risking sticking my hand in half eaten candy or vomit.  Still I have found myself this far, why not just keep falling down the rabbit hole to see what is on the otherside.  Just not going to get any hopes up anytime soon.

so very college dorm cool.

Just taking each moment as it comes.  Had to fathom that at the begining of a month I had thought I had it all together and was sharing life with someone wonderful.  Now I see that it wasn’t so great & although we both have our awesome points, together it doesn’t make extreme awesomeness.  Hoping that apart we both can get back to living life happily ever after in our own ways.  Just still makes me wonder how people do it.  Is it really just being dedicated to each other no matter what or does some have it easier than others.  I know to become a we from a he & a me there has to be compromise & change, but I have to think that some combinations of compromises are easier for each than others.  Hoping so anyway.  I don’t think anyone is unworthy of love  (ok maybe those people who hurt kids or disown dogs, cats & birds… ).  There has to be someone out there for each of us.  Just not sure we always know what we should be keeping out eyes open for.

So for now, I am going to let the ambien take me away.  Close the eyes and snuggle up with Baxter.  Maybe we both can be nightmare free tonight.