Tuesday, November 23, 2010

50 Random Things I'm Thankful For #16 - #20

Continuing with the list of Random Things I'm Thankful For in 2010, or what I like to call LOFTY 2010, until someone else blows me away with something better. These aren't in any order as far as importance, I just wrote them as they came to me.

Now...on with the thanksgivingfulness...

#16 - Thanks, Mom, for the Emotional Utility Belt

It's actually very well stocked. See, if you read Blogzilly with any regularity, you know I have some Daddy issues. Much of it brought on by my Dad walking out when I was a wee lad and choosing not to have a relationship with me, but more from the shit that came after that at the hands of my Step-Father. This really bothers my Mom. She carries a tremendous amount of guilt because of it. We spoke about it at length during her last visit.

I'd give anything to be able to take that guilt away, but it is beyond my power. The only person with that power is, obviously, my Mom. But it's hard to do, to let go of those things that accumulate over a lifetime. Hell, I struggle with it in these pages all the time.

But I made it clear to her the last time she was here that as far as I was concerned I felt no blame, no resentment, no negativity for her whatsoever, only love, respect and other good things. The situation we were in? It was a nightmare for all of us. It was a vortex of bullshit, a web of chaos created by a man who was clearly mentally ill.

But the fact is, Mom, I'm super thankful for those coping skills you gave me, all tucked very neatly into my Emotional Utility Belt. Sure, I'm only now, in my early forties, just starting to learn how to use them as effectively as I should, but you put 'em there, nobody else did.

Anything I have that's positive...ANYTHING...that's all you.

Don't forget it. You did GOOD.

Wish you were here.

#17 - Thanks for Believing in Me When I Would Not

Jennifer and I were seriously teetering on the brink of maybe splitting up. She felt I had sold her a false bill of goods. I'd said I would be open to the idea of having children, but after we got married, when push actually came to shove I kept dodging the issue and refusing to embrace the idea of being a Daddy.

Wonder why? :)

Fear, plain and simple. I believed since I had such a bad example of Dad-ness to draw from as far as life experience, I figured I was doomed to be a piss-poor Father. I was convinced of it.

Jennifer wasn't.

She believed I would be able to overcome it, that I would be able to rise above it. To fight this perceived destiny. To be a wonderful Father. She believed in me so much, she 'accidentally forgot' to take her birth control.

Yeah sure, the anxiety attacks began and increased in intensity and I discovered I actually had PTSD when Carter was finally born, as I spent the time of his arrival unconscious on a gurney outside the delivery room. And the attacks have remained ever since, but I wouldn't trade them back even if someone offered. And as I try to imagine a life without Carter, it's like trying to imagine a life without my eyes.

I can't.

Your children become such a part of your life, it's a remarkable transformation. And in the end, Jennifer was absolutely right. I'd walk through a hail of bullets for either of my kids. I'd fight a demon horde. I'd do just about anything it took.

It's hard. And it's work. But it's worth it.

And I will always be thankful that she believed in me.

Because I never would have.

#18 - Thanks for the Clean MRI and Seizure Freedom, So Far

Speaking of stress and your kids, you all know this little guy and what he's been through. I don't care WHAT you're carrying around in your Emotional Utility Belt, you stand in front of this and it is your son who just had a brain tumor taken out of his head, and you'll be very weak in the knees.

But, if you are lucky, you'll have your Mom, dear friends, and other supportive family members standing right there, propping you up, despite the fact you feel that you might fall over right there on the spot.

Today, 15 months later, we still cannot communicate very well with Bennett, but he is alive, he is happy, and he has made some fairly tremendous advances. Is he progressing as fast or as far as we would like? Of course not...we are his parents after all. Like anyone else, we wanted him to skyrocket forward after the surgery.

Who wouldn't?

But we would be totally remiss if we did not pause and reflect about how fortunate we are that Bennett's tumor has not come back and, so far, his seizures have not returned. It is...heartbreaking to hear so many stories of the other surgery kids, like Sophie and Emma and Trevor and Broc and so many others who even after the surgery have some kind of seizure activity return. That's why I have to temper my feelings about not being able to communicate with him and exercise more patience. I have to remember to keep a sense of balance.

It is November. November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. And I am acutely aware of how devastating Epilepsy is.

I am so very, very thankful that Bennett is not having any seizures.

#19 - Thanks for the Depth of the Familial Bullpen

I've talked about how lucky I have been in many regards in my marriage to Jennifer. One aspect of that I haven't touched on yet is her family. And not just her immediate family, but her extended family as well. It is VAST. It is TIGHT. It is really something that I have never seen before. They all have, at one time or another, stepped up and helped us in one way or another, and still do.

It's taken me quite a while to get used to, and I am still getting used to it, honestly. I still tend to become a lot quieter the larger the groups get, and the groups get VERY big sometimes. In fact, the Saunders or Layton family functions can get so big that often they don't even take place at people's houses. They have to take place at OTHER places, that you rent and such.

They're a terrific group, though I have a hard time with a lot of the kid's names (there's SO MANY OF THEM!!!). That and, like I said, I tend to get very quiet as the rooms get more full. It's one of my quirks. Groups of 5 or less? I'll talk like crazy. As soon as #6 walks in I start looking for an exit. I have never figured out why.

But I'm working on that, along with a lot of other things, especially for the kids.

What's fascinating though is how polar opposite my family life and Jennifer's actually is/was. It's uncanny. Maybe that's kind of one of the things that bound us from the very beginning, know what I mean? She filling certain gaps in me, and vice versa? Perhaps.

In any case, it's something that I am often very thankful for.

#20 - Thank You Nespresso, You Get Me Through Many an Afternoon

Brain Surgery. Epilepsy. Autism. PTSD. Streptococcal nephritis. My X-Box is on the fritz.

Shit happens to cause all of us stress. Shit happens that cause us all to lose sleep.

And when you're ass is dragging and you need that boost around, say, 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon? Pop a Nespresso capsule in your Nespresso machine and make a cup of Espresso in what seems like a nano-second, sit back and enjoy.

I received my Nespresso machine a couple of years ago as a Christmas gift from Jennifer's parents. One of the greatest gifts I have EVER received. EVER. I'm still surprised at how few people know about this amazing European coffee device.

But it's awesome. It makes a HELLUVA cup of Espresso. And I am SUPER thankful that it gets me through many a tiring time!



  1. 17 and 18 are my favorites so far. Can't go wrong with seizure freedom and no recurrence of cancer. That is my dream for sure.

    And 17 because we women are usually right about our men. We know if you are ready.

  2. And looking back at the post #19 is pretty important too. We have the same deal with my family being some sort of weird superhuman entity that really knows how to handle a crisis with everyone pitching in. It is so wonderful to have that type of safety net when needed.

    And your friend Richard sounds pretty rad. I too prefer the PS3, though I haven't had time to play in years.

    And I could not survive without caffeine.

  3. I just started three paragraphs with the word and. Grammar scholar I am not.

  4. I agree Liz...sometimes I think that the best relationships are those where the spouses know each other better than we know ourselves.

    I was pissed at first, but in the end? Jen was so right, and later on in life I learned that I actually was quite taken with the fact that she had faith in me in places where I never could.

    I think that is why, when I finally actually DID really let her down at the end of this last summer, it hit me so hard and I realized it was time to nut up or shut up. I'd lost something that had meant so much and I never even seen it coming.

    Make sense?

    And yeah...Richard is an amazing friend. I have GOT to put that story to page. I'm committed to getting it done before Christmas. I call it...The Greatest Story Never Told.

  5. Yep, that makes sense. Definitely uncool to have your partner lose faith in you. Glad you stepped up and fought for what you wanted.

  6. I like them all so far. I think I will add five of my own. I am thankful for
    (1) Friends I have never met who give me more support than friends I have known for years
    (2) Going out for a drink the night I wasn't in the mood to leave the house and definitely wasn't going to be meeting any guys for a LONG time - the night I met my husband
    (3) My iPhone
    (4) A team of doctors who listen to me and change course based on my research
    (5) That my child was born in the USA and not Ireland where there are only four pediatric neurologists in the whole country and no pediatric epileptologists.


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