Today I’ll Take Care of You: A Letter to My Family

It is a quiet Saturday morning in April. Rain falls softly outside, and the streets are covered with cherry blossom petals. Though all of you are sick with a virus, it is a good day.

Today I am able to take care of you for a change. Today I feel okay. I have the strength to make you some eggs, toast and tea. I’ll bring them to you in bed, and plant a gentle kiss on your forehead.

Today I will make some of my homemade tomato sauce that you love, and its magnificent aroma will fill the air. I will bake those nut-free vanilla cupcakes that you’ve been asking me to make for months. We will play Scrabble for hours since my brain is less foggy. We will cozy up on the couch and watch a great family movie.

I will be the mom/wife that I want to be every single day. The mom/wife that is not too sick to care for you, to cook for you, to be present for you, to explore the world with you. I will cherish this day, and pray for many more like it.

My many chronic conditions include Asthma, Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, Interstitial Cystitis, Endometriosis, Anxiety and Pre Menstrual Dysmorphic Disorder.

Any one of these conditions are enough to make life difficult to manage and cope with, but together they are often debilitating.

You see me wince with pain, so you help dry my tears. You see me tired and hungry so you bring me food. You see me unable to do chores so you help do them for me. You see me suffer, so you bring me my medicine.

What you don’t realize is that you provide the best medicine in the world.┬áThe medicine I need the most.

Love.

You provide it in daily doses of hugs, teaspoons of tenderness, and soothing scripts.

There is no better prescription for happiness. You make the tough days tolerable, the painful days palatable, and the crazy days comforting.

You are there for it all, and help me get through the unavoidable rain. You rarely complain, you just want to help me feel better.

I appreciate every single thing you do for me. I appreciate all of the sacrifices you make. I appreciate your constant companionship.

It is nice to not have to feel so alone in this long journey of chronic illness. In this long journey of life.

It is nice to have all of you by my side. My sweet family. I love you more than words can say.

Today I’ll take care of you.

Today I promise to keep fighting to get better so that we will have many more days together in sickness and in health.

Today it is my turn to provide you with some comfort, warmth and unconditional love.

Rest your weary heads.

Mommy is here.

And I will be here until the last cherry blossom petals wash away.

 

 

 

 

 

A Letter To My Kind Hair Stylist Who Eased My Anxiety

To My Kind Hair Stylist:

When I entered the salon you worked at I was filled with anxiety for no reason. It’s just something I deal with daily. My generalized anxiety has become much worse since I developed Lyme Disease. Regular daily chores and trips to the grocery store/hair salon/mall/restaurants fill me with anxiety. I wish I didn’t have to feel this way all of the time, but for now I do. I’m working hard to overcome it, but that could take many years.

And so I made myself walk into your salon. I desperately needed a nice haircut, and I took a deep calming breath and hoped for the best. The salon was beautiful, and had a nice relaxing atmosphere. The staff were all really nice and brought you out to meet me.

There was something about you that immediately put me at ease, and that is no small feat. You had a big smile on your face and a nice, tranquil demeanor.

You brought me to your chair and asked me a few questions about how I wanted my hair cut. I answered your questions quickly as I was still nervous. Then you proceeded to wash my hair. The scalp massage really helped me to relax. I felt okay as I walked back to your chair.

I had to immediately bring up a few health issues, as my Lyme Disease makes me more sensitive to chemicals, and I have to make sure there are no nut or shellfish containing products used due to me and my son’s food allergies.

You did not roll your eyes at all I told you. You kindly and sincerely answered all of my questions, and even checked and rechecked the product labels to make sure they were safe.

Even though you were very young, you had a certain patience and understanding about you that usually comes with age.

Whatever topic I brought up, you offered words of wisdom well beyond your years. You were sympathetic, perceptive, and very knowledgeable.

I was so grateful to be able to loosen up and be distracted enough to actually enjoy my haircut for the first time in years. You have no idea how much that means to me.

After talking to you for awhile you brought up the fact that you had recently donated your kidney to a boy you had been dating for only a year. Then it all made sense.

You aren’t just a thoughtful young woman. You aren’t just a patient woman. You are an Angel on Earth.

You had actually saved someone’s life, and I was grateful to be in your peaceful presence.

You gave off an air of acknowledgement, because you’ve already been through so much.

You were able to put me at ease, because you understood struggle.

You were able to show much kindness, because you know exactly what it means to walk a tough road.

You were also able to give me the best haircut I’ve had in years, even though you are just beginning your career.

When my haircut was through, you gave me a big hug. Not a forced one, a real genuine hug from your heart. That had never happened before in my 40 plus years of getting haircuts.

It was very sweet, and special, just like you are.

I believe deeply in thanking people who have shown me or my family kindness. I believe in thanking people who make my day, or go out of their way to help others.

Thank you for putting me at ease and making an ordinary trip to the salon an extraordinary one.

You are very good at your job and I wish you all the success in the world.

I also wish good health to you and your boyfriend. I hope the special bond that exists between the two of you lasts forever.

I will be back for more haircuts and will refer my friends and family too.

I have never thought of writing a letter/blog to thank a hair stylist before. That’s because I never met one like you.

I am altering the words of Sir Elton John to say:

My gift is my blog, and this one’s for you….

 

 

 

 

The Race

I have moved slowly my whole life. I have been called a turtle and an Ent among many other things. I have never felt the need to rush, and my lifelong anxiety prevents me from acting quickly even when I try.

I was always one of the slowest runners at school, and the slowest walker on the crowded streets of New York City where I grew up. I cook slowly, I eat slowly, and I get ready slowly. I think slowly, and right now I am typing this blog slowly.

It has always taken me longer than others to get most things done. I was glad when I met my husband that this didn’t seem to bother him. My turtle pace was just fine with him.

When we had kids it was hard for me to keep up with hungry babies, fast moving toddlers, and now busy young children. I adapted and kept up the best I could.

Then I was bit by a tiny tick and developed Lyme Disease. Added on to my already full plate of Anxiety, Interstitial Cystitis, Fibromyalgia, Pre-Menstrual Dysmorphic Disorder, Endometriosis, Vulvodynia, and slow-moving turtle syndrome, I felt completely overwhelmed. It felt like I was caught up in a never ending cycle of Chronic Illness.

How would I get anything done now? How would I get through this?

Slowly. One day at a time.

Lyme Disease completely took over my body and brain for awhile. I have improved about fifty percent over the last 3 years thanks to my doctors and antibiotics, but my brain is still affected, and it is difficult to remember certain things.

There is no cure for Chronic Lyme Disease, and so I continue to fight, and move even more slowly. The waves of Lyme haze run through my brain, and I still struggle to be set free.

There were many days when the guilt of not being enough, and not doing enough for my family was crushing. There were many days when I didn’t have the strength to cook or even take a shower, let alone play with my children.

This guilt followed me around like a shadow on the ground, the writing on the wall. Until I decided to stomp all over it, and to write a new story.

In this story, it is okay to be a sick, extremely slow-moving turtle. I still have worth, I still am able to give and receive love. I strengthened my shell, I developed new goals. I have a new outlook on life.

I decided to feel beautiful inside and out, even though I looked disheveled on most days. I decided to tell my family that I love them at least twice a day. I decided that it was okay to plan one fun thing a week for my kids to look forward to, for me to look forward to. I decided to try hard to brighten other people’s days, or to help others more when I am able to, through my writing and other avenues. I decided that was enough, I was enough.

Though I can’t do as much as I used to since my turtle power is low, I have learned to cherish all that I can do.

All of us move at different speeds. All of us are facing many difficult trials and tribulations. All of us are part of the human race.

We don’t have to win it, we just have to consciously and compassionately be in it.

 

 

A Letter to My Daughter’s Elementary School Guidance Counselor

I am responsible, respectful and ready to learn,
I have finished elementary school, and now it’s my turn,
I will take all you’ve shown me, wherever I go,
I will always be grateful, and I want you to know,
that elementary school will always mean the world to me,
I’m ready to move on now, but I’m forever a Husky!

To my daughter’s elementary school guidance counselor,

A few years ago you helped my daughter during a very difficult time. She was struggling with some anxiety issues after a few small incidents happened. Incidents which seemed minor at the time, became a big deal to her. She had trouble getting herself to school, and trouble concentrating on her school work.

Every day before school she felt fear and had heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing. As someone who deals with anxiety, I couldn’t bear to see her like that. I understood the horrible symptoms she was experiencing, but I did not know how to help her. I tried to hug her, I tried to help her take deep breaths, I tried to tell her that I loved her no matter what and that she would be okay.

But love was not enough. I was not enough. She need some extra help during that difficult time.

She needed you.

You let her sit in your office until she was ready to go to her classroom. You gave her some tools to slowly overcome her anxiety. You sat with her. You ate lunch with her. You listened.

You cared.

You made yourself available when she needed you, even though you were busy helping so many others and had many other responsibilities to attend to. You answered our questions, and provided a referral for counseling in case we needed it.

You handled the situation perfectly, with the skill and professionalism that only a top rate school guidance counselor possesses. You were committed to helping my daughter, you never stopped trying.

I don’t think you realize how much you did for my daughter and our family. She was drifting into a sea of anxiety, and you provided a much needed life vest. She was able to go to school knowing you were there. We were able to relax a little because you were there.

You are a constant, reassuring presence to many children at the school. You are very involved, you are loved.

You continued to guide and help my daughter after she was doing much better. You regularly teach her and her class many valuable lessons. You are helping them to prepare for the upcoming transition to middle school. You answer all of their questions. You go out of your way to bring in things to help them such as combination locks, which so many of them are worried about learning how to use.

I don’t think school guidance counselors get enough credit. We take the fact that you are there for granted, we don’t realize all you do on a daily basis. But, when our children need you, you are always there.

Thanks to you my daughter got through her crisis, and is excelling in school. She is getting top grades and has a renewed confidence in herself.

You deserve the award you are being considered for and so much more. Your guidance is invaluable, you are helping steer so many children in the right direction, you are making a big difference in so many lives.

My daughter will take all you have shown her wherever she goes. She is getting ready to move on from elementary school, but she will always have a place for you in her heart.

 

 

 

You Were Supposed to Be an Abortion

“You were supposed to be an abortion,” was one of the last things my father ever said to me. It was during Thanksgiving 2004 that he uttered these words to me, and to all sitting at the holiday table. I was shocked, embarrassed and hurt, but not surprised.

I have felt unwanted and unloved my whole life. Like an uninvited guest burdening an ongoing dinner party. A dinner party with not enough food, joy or warmth. I was just one more mouth to feed, one more diaper to change, one more screaming child in a house on the verge of destruction.

I know my mom did not want this, but it was an easy way out for my dad who was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. He was a cop who walked the beat in NYC, he was a man who often beat his children when he was off duty. He loved a can of Budweiser more then he loved his own kids.

He suffered from mental illness but refused to get help. He spun out of control and we were all caught in his web. Sometimes he was an itsy bitsy amount of fun, most times he was as terrifying as Shelob the giant spider from Lord of the Rings. He was a spinner of lies and broken dreams, he was a predator to our happiness.

He called me Foe as a joke from Jack and the Beanstalk’s Fee Fi Fo Fum, but he was actually my foe. He was never truly in my corner, he never protected me, he never told me that he loved me. He even held a loaded gun to my head and asked me if I wanted to die first, on one dark night.

I like so many others was born into a home without love. The love had died, just as surely as my dad wanted me to. I was just a reminder of this fact, an exclamation mark to an unhappy marriage and life. When I was able to understand this, I suffered my first broken heart.

I have been trying to mend my broken heart ever since. I have not fully succeeded, and will spend the rest of my life trying. My past has led me to making many bad decisions, and to at least one unhealthy relationship.

It wasn’t until I matured and took the time to understand myself and my needs that I began to make better decisions. I learned to love the person that I thought was unlovable. I began to slowly heal. I learned to look at life through a new lens, I finally saw a path toward happiness.

There were many bumps in the road of course, and many wrong turns, but I managed to learn from my mistakes and get right back on the road. I steered clear of abusive personalities, and slowly found myself surrounded by kind, supportive people. People who understood pain, physical and/or mental, people who truly care about others.

This took awhile and was not easy, but was very worthwhile. It is much better to be alone than to be with people who constantly hurt you. It is much better to wait for good things, than to rush into bad situations. It is much better to take the time to truly love yourself. You are amazing. You are a gift.

I had waited my whole life for someone to tell me that they loved me and really mean it. What I didn’t realize was that I needed to hear it from myself the most. When I was finally able to look in the mirror with pride and feel self-love, my life changed course.

I met a wonderful man and have two wonderful children. I try to tell them that I love them often, for I know what it feels like to crave these words. I try to show them how much I love them often, for I know what it feels like to be neglected. I try to hug and kiss them often, in the hopes that it will protect them from an unkind world. I try to show them kindness, so that they will show the same kindness to others.

I only saw my father once after that Thanksgiving. It was on his deathbed. There were no apologies offered, no warmth shown, no love for my unborn daughter that grew in my big belly, no I love yous, no big movie screen goodbyes.

I just leaned over him for the last time and kissed his forehead. I said a quick prayer for him to finally find peace and happiness.

I no longer needed him. I never really did. I walked out of that hospital room with all I ever really needed.

Myself, some self-love, and a whole lotta love to spare.