I Hereby Grant Myself Permission to Be Shitty

Six weeks ago, I started seeing an amazing new doctor who finally diagnosed this mystery illness that has made me so sick the last two years. He has begun weekly IV treatment along with a host of other alternative therapies that are finally starting to give me my life back after two years of countless ER visits, trips to the doctor and testing. The treatments are really helping. But, when I have to go more than a week between them, I start to feel really sick again, and some weeks I feel worse, before I feel better. I’ve gone from being in bed 80% of the time to about 20% of the time, though, so that alone is a miracle, especially when you have four children. I have decided to document my journey here to show the up’s and down’s of my healing journey, in hopes of offering an honest view into my world, as I fall and rise, yet again and again and again. Through my years as The Grim Reaper Girl, I have learned above all, that our struggles teach us as much as our triumphs, so I hope you can be inspired by my acceptance of all the parts of this journey, and myself in them. 

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Days like this are really, really hard for me. This healing journey comes with its up’s and down’s. (If you missed my updates on my recent diagnosis’ of serious chronic illness, go check my Facebook page). Right now, I have severe asthma and allergies on top of the chronic illness I’ve been suffering from for 2 years. I have a severe infection in my lungs and feel like I can’t breathe. I’ve been in bed since Sunday and this week I had to postpone my weekly IV treatment because it’s just too much for me to drive an hour and a half each way to the doctor, receive the treatment which really drains me, and then come home and have to take care of 4 kids alone for 3 days until my husband has a day off. Today I feel really horrible – bad anxiety (a side effect of my treatment), extreme fatigue, nausea, headache, heart palpitations, brain fog, chest pain, and a wicked cough. And I woke up this morning to find out my 3 year old who just got over a horrible case of the flu that almost turned to pneumonia a couple weeks ago, now has CROUP. Croup is what my nephew died from.

This shit is real, folks. I don’t make it up. It is absolutely ridiculous how often we are sick. It is absolutely unbearable feeling horrible myself and taking care of a toddler who feels awful – when he doesn’t feel good, he is mean and nasty and whiny and gets into trouble all day long. So, I should be in bed, but instead I’m pulling him off counters and shelves and candy cabinets all day long. Oh yeah, and there’s also a 16 month old to take care of and 2 other kids to take to and from school, and make sure they get their homework and chores done. Mamas don’t always get a day off. No matter how sick they are. 

I’ve worked really hard to train myself to stay in FAITH instead of FEAR but days like today, I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle ALL ALONE. My husband works 7-7 most days. I have paid a babysitter enough money to put her through college, to help me this last year and a half, but she has limited availability because she’s in school. So, today, I am just trying to be ok with not feeling great, and wishing I could feel super loved and supported when I’m feeling really alone and overwhelmed. Am I allowed to feel that? Am I allowed to have days where I kind of just can’t get to a place of positivity and faith and lots of words of inspiration while I try to heal?

Well, I’m the only one who can give myself permission to just be as I am. So, I hereby grant myself the inalienable right to just say, THIS SUCKS. THIS IS HARD RIGHT NOW. I know it will pass, but right now, it hurts and its hard and I would LOVE more than anything to feel your love around me right now.

Tomorrow I will probably be back to peppy-steppy-feelin’-and-believin’-Megan. Today, I am allowed to just be Megan. And maybe even, Shitty Megan. Or, at least, Shitty-Feeling Megan.

And I feel SO much better when I just express myself honestly to the world. Don’t you?!!!!!!!! I hope this inspires you to be honest about your struggles. When we give ourselves permission to be real, we give others permission to do the same, and the truth is, sometimes this being human is hard, isn’t it? Let’s not try to pretend any different. What makes it worth doing, is being in it together, and knowing there is as much beauty as pain.

Ahhhh…I feel more faith-filled already. I know this will pass, and I’m trusting some miracles are on their way…and I am so grateful I have this community of people around me to support me from near and far through this. Thanks for being here, thanks for listening. Remember, whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone. I’ve probably been there. I see you. I get you. We’re in it TOGETHER, and we even get to be SHITTY together if we want to.

The Smackdowns & Getting-Back-Up-Agains: Ronda Rousey & Me

Some days everything just feels so hard. When the sleep deprivation and the toddler tantrums and the chronic illness and anxiety and all of it pile up on me all at once. Every day I get up a fighter, ready to put on my best face and go another round. And so many more days than not, I end up face down in the ring with a crowd of onlookers.

It’s just one “next hard thing” after the next.

I try to keep a positive attitude and I do most days if everything aligns and the kids don’t melt down 9 times out of 10, only 7, and I get maybe six hours sleep or even seven instead of 2 or 3, and the baby isn’t teething and all 4 kids got to bed on time and didn’t wake up all night, and the pollen isn’t too high and I haven’t spent too much time outdoors today to give me an asthma attack and I got a short text out and back from a reassuring friend yelling, “You’re not alone,” and a twenty minute nap while both babies slept instead of a 5 minute attempt at a nap while they took turns staying awake…on those days, I feel like I could do anything. I feel like I could fly and conquer the world and change it,  too.

But, most days I feel like some level of shit just like I have for the last 2 years fighting chronic illness, depression and anxiety…and most days my 5 year old who is a highly sensitive kid starts his day by taking all his anger and rage out on me just because I asked him to put his shoes AND socks on. And most days my three year old yells, “I don’t like you!” and, “You’re not my parent!” while I put on clothes for him and take him to school for the whole hour he can handle there. And most days, I have never gotten enough sleep, even if I have slept a solid eight hours in a row (imagine THAT miracle!), it will never begin to make up for the consistent state of utter EXHAUSTION I have lived in for the nearly nine years I have been a Mother who has been recovering from a million smackdown moments in her life. 

I want more than anything to just be a normal Mom. I want to just run my kids to and from activities and play dates and meet the girls for coffee and breakfast. On those rare days that I feel good, all that and more seems possible. I hatch up dreams for how I will change the world and I work on my book and I feel like I’m making a difference somehow.

But, it’s days like today that I need more than anything to just be honest about how hard it really is, how hard it’s really been. How much I try to meditate, pray, 12 step, affirm and believe my way through it all…only to feel that stinging sense of a smack down like Ronda Rousey again and again. 

It’s ok to not feel like a prize fighter 24/7. It’s ok to struggle and fall. I think maybe life is just a series of knock outs and drag outs and get-back-up-agains.

I don’t live in the past and I’m not identified by my story of 21 deaths in 5 years, an addict husband, almost divorce, postpartum depression and so on. But, no matter how hard I try to move on, my body and heart tell the story of the pain and unimaginable stress and trauma they have been through. No matter how hard I try to push on, they continue to stop and remind me that it takes time to heal. That recovery is a process. That there are no magic pills or quick fixes – only time and only love.

We all love the conquerers story, don’t we folks? But, I’m wondering, can we maybe also cheer our fighters on when they’re flat on their faces in the ring? Can we tell them how much we love them for reminding us we’re all human? Can we not set a limit on how much a person is allowed to feel, grieve, bleed or struggle? Can we maybe just send more love and love and love no matter how long they’ve been laying there, til they find their way back up again???

Can we let it be ok to be human? Can we tell everyone we know, how STRONG AND beautiful they are for the falling down parts too…because those are the hardest parts to get through? Can we be cheerleaders for smack downs because that’s when people need us most, not when they’re holding the winning prize?

I don’t want your pity. Just today, I want to be honest and not tie it up neat with a pretty red bow about how I will survive or overcome or conquer. I just want to lay here on the floor in the ring for a minute and cry because life smacked me down again and I’ve been going 18 rounds now and I AM TIRED. Tomorrow, you KNOW I’ll be back in the ring fighting again…but today, I just want to hear it’s ok to be down. Do you still love me, when I feel defeated? When I’ve forgotten I’ll get back up again soon?

I want to tell you something…yes, YOU. Wherever you are in the ring – getting sucker punched, knocked out, going round 20, or throwing punches or dodging blows…I’m cheering you on, because I know you’re going to get back up again when you’re ready and keep fighting, too…and dammit, I love you for falling and for getting back up again, too.

Thanks Ronda Rousey for showing us how to fall with grace, truth and honesty this week. ♡♡♡ Yes, maybe you were meant to do more good by losing this time than by winning again.

To the Mama Silently Fighting…

To the Mama who is fighting silently…

To the Mama who is suffering in silence…who wakes up every day feeling already weighed down by a ten ton weight…

Who slogs herself through making lunches, barking orders, breaking up fights among the kids, all while feeling sick or sad or lonely or angry or depressed…

To the Mama silently suffering from an illness or struggle no one can see…that she thinks no one can understand…

Who hides in the shadows quietly working to heal herself, to love herself more, to give herself the compassion maybe the world cannot…

Who wishes some days that she did not have to fight alone…

Who wonders how she’ll get through one more day of parenting while trying to heal…one more feeling “swept beneath the current” of a struggle she never asked for…

I see you. I get you. You are not alone.

I know why you stay in the shadows, because you feel safer there. Because sometimes it hurts more to be misunderstood than to be alone. Because you feel scared and vulnerable in this space you’re temporarily calling home. Because you have no energy to try to explain to the world what it’s like to be you, to be expected to be responsible for small beings when you’re struggling so deeply, to continue to persevere when sometimes you just want to give up…

You’re afraid the world will just give you that same old song and dance…the, “You can do it, you’re so strong!” song. Or they’ll try to tell you they know how to fix you (like you haven’t already tried everything yourself). Or worse, they’ll simply turn and look away.

You’re afraid they’ll make you feel like you’re a mess…like you should’ve gotten on with things by now…like you’ve met some invisible deadline or quota on how much suffering you’re allowed to have, and now it’s time to JUST GET OVER IT.

You would do ANYTHING TO just be over it. To will your way out, to pray your way out, to fight your way out, to find some magic super pill that would make it all easy. And trust me, you’ve tried all those things, time and again! But mental health, chronic illness, addiction, suffering and shame, and all the other silent diseases we walk through take time to heal. Grief takes time to heal. Life takes time to heal. And you, dear Mama, are giving yourself that time, I know, whether or not anyone else understands.

We give ourselves permission to take time to recover when we’re in a tragic car accident or when we’re diagnosed with a life-threatening disease like cancer.

Why can’t we, and the world around us, do the same for the silent suffering?

Bevy around them??? Send them as much love as a Sandy Hook Mama or a Cancer Mama, because the battle they are fighting feels just as big, just as heavy to them as anyone else’s cross they bear???

There’s no need to compare. None of us have it worse or better. We all have our silent struggles. There’s enough LOVE and COMPASSION in this world for ALL of them, for all of us.

That’s all any of us need…more love. Love so big it cradles the pain. Fierce empathy so strong it lightens the lead weight.

Love can carry us through anything…but we can only give it to others if we give it to ourselves.

I have suffered in silence for 6 years. The world told me I was “too much,” “too messy” as I walked through 21 deaths, postpartum depression and chronic illness. So I hid, beside the few people who loved me so much they allowed me to struggle and take time to find my way out of the darkness.

I have a friend who was recently involved in a tragic car accident. He almost died. His body was battered and beaten, his spine crushed. He’s now endured months of endless rehab and may have years ahead. I can’t imagine a SINGLE person in his life is standing over him telling him to GET OVER IT NOW, to quit moping around and get back out there.

Death, loss and disease are the car accidents to our hearts.

Hearts take time to heal, too.

Do you know someone who is suffering silently? Someone who has lost a loved one recently? Or who’s been affected by a chronic illness in themselves or someone they care about? Set up a GoFundMe page for their broken heart, will ya? Start a meal train of empathy for their soul. Pick up the phone and call them as often as you’d call someone on their death bed, because trust me there are days they feel like they are on it.

Love them…more. Love you…more.

And to that Mama, who is suffering in silence, whatever you’re going through,  you’re not alone. We are breaking the silence around you. We refuse to be deaf to your suffering one moment longer.

Keep going, Mama.

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Don’t worry. We’re coming for you. ♡ ♡ ♡

The Answer to Everything Is…

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It’s been a hard week here. It started out with calling 911 on Sunday because the baby was choking on something she picked up off the floor. It took a visit to the ER and several panicky hours to figure out she had a small piece of thick plastic lodged in her throat that the Doctor was finally able to remove. On top of that, several of my closest friends have been dealing with life-threatening illnesses for themselves or their kiddos, so basically my heart has been walking around outside my body all week feeling the ache of lack of protection and acute vulnerability.

I tend to get mad when things like this happen. I have a strict Don’t Mess With My Loved Ones policy that the Universe does not seem to adhere to. Dangit. I also really don’t like being such a sensitive BIG feeling soul when my lovelies are hurting, and I really don’t like it when all my lovelies are hurting at once. That is just about unbearable.

But, you and I both know I’ve walked this road a million times before. I am a self-certified Tragedy Specialist. So, sitting in the discomfort of vulnerability today, watching my lovelies suffer, I just had to find a little compassion within and tell myself this:

Ok, Megan, here we go. You know what’s happening. The squeeze is on. You’re being ground and twisted and wrung to a fresh pulp yet again…so what will you do different this time, knowing what’s on the other side of this pain is the promise of LOVE, beauty and immense wisdom? Knowing you’re going to come out of this a sweet, sweet cherry-limeade, ripe with empathy and love?

Here’s what I think I’ve figured out about all of this.

Anything…ANYTHING can be made bearable if you surround it with enough LOVE.

Francine Wheeler, Mother to 5-year-old Ben, who was one of the Sandy Hook victims, said someone told her after her son’s death that there would always be a hole in her heart. BUT, if she surrounded it with enough love, that love would build a protective coating around the hole that would eventually make it possible to live with a Swiss cheese heart.

So here’s my answer to everything, I think:
FEED IT MORE LOVE.

Whatever is broken or hurting or vulnerable or quaking in your heart, whatever your holes are, your aches, your dreams, your losses…feed them more love til there’s so much love around them, it doesn’t hurt as much anymore.

In the darkest depths of pain, loss and grief, LOVE is always possible. In the uncertainty of fear and unknowingness on the life to your dreams, MORE LOVE is always possible. When someone has hurt you or betrayed you, MORE LOVE for yourself and for them is always possible…because if we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive others…when we realize EVERYONE’S always doing their best.

When you are scared, feed yourself more love. When you are sad, feed yourself more love. When your lovelies are aching, feed yourself more love…so then you can overflow onto them when they need it most.

Yup, more love, more love might be the answer to everything. 

Are you following me on Facebook? This post was shared on my Writer’s Page over there today. I often post brief musings on Facebook that I don’t post here, so run on over and click like if you want to hear more of my thoughts on life, love, tragedy & everything in between. 🙂 

How 10 Minutes of Heaven a Day Saved Our Marriage & Our Lives

IMG_20150709_124857I’m currently reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and I’m pleasantly surprised to find that many of my “depression lessons” from my fight through postpartum depression and life, are succinctly mirrored to her monthly bids at happiness projects. While she wished she had more of a platform of hard life experiences to draw on in order to relate to her readers, I’ve had more than my fair share, and yet we both write about the same things – finding more happiness, embracing our imperfections, trying to enjoy parenting when it really sucks the life out of you, and above all, joyful abundance of self-care.

My project has been more of a Bring Me Back to Life Project, as I’m working to retrain myself to experience joy again after so much hardship and tragedy, but I find the same basic principles of Rubin’s Happiness Project at the foundation of my daily work. I’ve been put into a situation with PPD/PPA where I’ve been forced to make my own self-care and happiness a priority. When my husband, Kory, went to rehab, he was forced to do the same thing: put his self-care first, and that’s why he’s still sober two years later. Both of us are “recovering everythings” in our own unique ways. Our journeys to healing are what have kept us together; our devotion to our own ritualistic inner and outer daily maintenance the basis of our success in staying together, and raising a generally contented family of six.

Even as we’ve faced the stresses of parenting four kids through PPD/PPA, even as we were putting our family back together after Kory went to rehab, we’ve both made self-care a top priority, knowing this alone would keep us afloat. These last eight months since our daughter’s birth, as we’ve watched unwashed laundry piles grow legs in every corner of every room, dog poop piles fill the side yard, and weeds grow between the cracks of the front walk way, we’ve simply sighed and acquiesced, knowing we could only do so much. Yet still, we made sure Kory got to the gym a few nights a week, at least. Still, we drug our way through hours of reading Vroom Vroom Llama Llama or breaking up, “He pinched me!” fights, so I could get time to write or he could leave the house to feel the freedom of NOT being a parent for an hour.

This is my TEN MINUTE OF HEAVEN...a computer, a pile of soul-stirring books, and a Kleenex box, just in case.

This is my TEN MINUTES OF HEAVEN…a computer, a pile of soul-stirring books, and a Kleenex box, just in case.

At our worst, Kory shortened his morning ritual from 40 minutes to 15 so I could sleep, but he still made sure he meditated for 10 of those 20 minutes, and before he got in the shower, he woke me up first and gave me 10 minutes of HEAVEN to start my day off with less of a deficit. 10 minutes of Heaven each, saved us, and our marriage, empowering us daily to keep fighting our individual, and collective beasts.

In many ways, PPD and years of tragedies have dictated our abilities, shunting our capability to do more, be more, or have more. But, in many other ways, we have not let any of it stop us from getting exactly what we needed to THRIVE, instead of SURVIVE. Our hardships have actually forced us to build bright glow sticks to hold up and revel in, as we fight together, each darkness that confronts us.

Each of us in this world has our own crutch or cross to bear. Yours may look more like parenting a special needs child while trying to build a home business or care-giving aging elders sooner than you were ready to. Every one of us will at some point feel like we have to make sacrifices – to let something “give” because we just can’t do it all. For you, it may not be the laundry, it may be the dream of a larger home, but the smaller one with the lower rent or mortgage affords you mini-vacations and little luxuries, so you do it. Or, it may be less time for manicures and nail polish or even just a close shave – but you let those things go willingly so you can squeeze in those two hours a week at yoga class.

Sometimes all I get is 10 minutes in this morning on this couch to listen to the birds chirp while I squeeze in a meditation to greet the day. And that's enough to sustain me those days.

Sometimes all I get is 10 minutes in this morning on this couch to listen to the birds chirp while I squeeze in a meditation to greet the day. And that’s enough to sustain me those days.

It’s ok. This too shall pass. I won’t have PPD forever. You won’t have your crutch or cross forever. But, soon, we will have different crutches and crosses to bear, that’s one thing that’s certain, isn’t it? It never stops. It never ends. There’s always this give and take of put a little more on this side of the scale, a little less on that one. That is parenting, that is life, with PPD or special needs or elder parents or grief, or without.

Whatever you are balancing right now, whatever you are forgoing, I hope you do not cross yourself off the to-do list. I hope you make time for YOUR TEN MINUTES OF HEAVEN as often as you can – be it reading, meditating, yoga-ing, writing, exercising, doing nothing mindfully likethis guy suggests in his TedX talk, practicing gratitude like this blogger William Lloyd, or spending time in nature. I hope you use your unique crutch to propel you to more self-care, instead of less. I hope you realize that the only way to survive the tough times is to build reserves in the good ones – to be devoted to filling your well daily, regardless of circumstance. And if you have excuses – lots of good ones, I’m sure – for why you’re not carving out that time for you, I hope you think of Kory and I juggling addictions, deaths, depressions, recoveries, illnesses and hospital visits, and tell yourself to just get creative and find a way to do it. It’s the difference between surviving and thriving, I guarantee you, and I speak from a hellavu lot of experience!

If you’re not sitting around biting your nails waiting for my next post, I hope you’ll be levitating off the ground somewhere in your unique little ten minute slice of heaven. What does your TEN MINUTE SLICE OF HEAVEN look like and how are you MAKING it happen for yourself today, or how you swear to do it tomorrow? Comment below! 

See you again soon. I’m trying to post more frequently!