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“Potential” is a Dirty Word

This phrase has been wandering about in my mind for months now. Perhaps even near a year. Technically, it was “potential is a four-letter-word,” but we can all count and don’t need to get tripped up on technicalities. I was watching my favorite ADHD YouTuber “brain,” on How to ADHD. And she was interviewing someone and once again they brought up how they heard about all that potential they had as a student, or child, or whatever moment in life we hear such things. And we hear it a lot.

Here’s what hearing about my potential did for me, it helped me convince myself that I was a failure not made for this world. Why was it so impossible to live up to my “potential.” I was so smart, why couldn’t I live up to my potential? I was so talented, why couldn’t I live up to my potential? So creative, why couldn’t I live up to my potential? Why couldn’t I just make myself do the things that needed doing to be successful and live up to my potential?

And then, boom, I was 37 and learned all about my “potential” and the roadblocks that were in my way my entire life. The roadblocks we had identified for my spouse and children. The anger was a raging fire at all of the loss of time and “potential” that had been wasted behind me. The rage has burned out but the fiery desire to live and be who I want to be still lives.

I won’t spend time wasting away, grieving my “potential.” I won’t tell my children about their “potential,” either. Instead, I will tell them they are creative and beautiful and smart in their own way. And I will tell them that yes, it is hard. Hard to maintain a schedule. Hard to do what we don’t want to do, hard to concentrate on anything but what interests us most, hard to get up and go to work, hard to go to school, hard. And I don’t mean regular people hard, I mean for us it is like being sequestered within a torture chamber kinda hard. So please, don’t compare a neurotypical brain to what we experience. It is not the same. Love us and guide us through it and you won’t need to mention our “potential,” not even once.

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Choose Kindness

It has been so very long since I have “picked up the pen,” but in this new climate it seems there truly is no excuse to continue to avoid it. In some ways, I am more busy than I had found myself before. The kids are home and we are gearing up towards virtual learning. I am blessed that I used to be a homeschool mom, so this is less of a shock for me than it is for many others I am sure. In other ways, there is so much more time on my hands. Less physical appointments call for fewer transitions and in and outs. Fewer reasons to literally drive myself into exhaustion.

For me, this is better. For others it is most certainly worse. Regardless, this is scary. It is scary to wonder what the economy will do, to wonder how bills will be paid and who will still have jobs and businesses, who will still have their very life at the end of all of this.

It is easy to be be entirely self-centric, and do and post what makes us comfortable (within limits–please do keep to social distancing to keep yourself and others safe). It is easy to think the way we need to think and immediately become offended at those who think differently.

I suffered an aggressively abusive relationship, I cannot think myself trapped. If I think myself trapped I will panic and the young, impressionable, special needs children I have at home will suffer for my loss of composure.

However others may see this as a reality, and looking at facts is what is a comfort to them. That does not make them wrong and me right, or vise-versa.

Some people have dark humor, and that is how they handle things. That does not mean they don’t care that people are dying by the thousands. It simply means that they need what they need to keep themselves sane and safe.

Some need to say they are scared and feel panic and are sad. That is ok. Some need to say that they are looking at things in a positive light. That doesn’t mean the former is less right or valid than the latter.

It is ok to deal with this how you need to. We are social creatures raising our voices and social media is alight with our opinions. It’s ok if yours is different.

However, I do not wish to be silenced, nor do I wish to silence others. So when you come across a meme or post that you disagree with to comment, consider there is another *person* on the other end of your words. If you can’t be kind, scroll on. If someone can’t be kind to you, raise your voice. No one should have to be silenced.

We are all dealing with this in our own way, but agree or not with how someone feels, there is no need to be unkind. And to any that may have felt silenced by my responses, I absolutely apologize. Be blessed, stay safe and stay well. We are all in this together.

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Believe in Magic

So here I am, well past 100 days of no. While it was not comfortable, it was every bit worth it. It is stunning what can happen when we make room for ourselves.

I have two takeaways from this, maybe three. One, you can love others without hurting yourself. At first I thought everything was awkward and uncomfortable with friends and family. And then I realized that for the most part, it wasn’t that. It was that they were respecting my boundaries and so weren’t asking as much from me. Perhaps it’s just me, but I think that last post seemed to scream I need a break and I am overwhelmed! And a break was what I was given. I was invited to participate and help in different things, but it was not automatically expected.

Two, you can love yourself without hurting others. When those of us who have suffered from several abuses, particularly of the narcissistic kind, find ourselves on the other side of that we often feel that taking care of ourselves will mean that others will say that we don’t care for them. We’re not used to husbands that remind us of our “oxygen mask,” and friends and family who say “you can’t do it all.” But that’s where healing finds me, and those are the confirming words that healthy boundaries bring.

And yes, I would say there is a third and very important takeaway. People who truly love you, still do even after you make changes and put boundaries into place. They might even be proud of you for it.

To my friends and family that helped me discover my backbone and develop such healthy boundaries, thank you. And thank you for respecting them.

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100 Days of “no”

Chronic conditions, illnesses, mental health… they leave a long and bumpy journey both ahead of and behind us. So many things are genetic and already unavoidable. So many more things are made worse by, or even caused, by traumatic environments and experiences. And those experiences cause us to live in very narrow comfort zones.

This last week I took a chance. I left home for a week to wear my other hat, the one I’m wearing in this photo. We heard from amazing speakers who taught us to tell our stories and step outside of these comfort zones and grow. Michelle Poler of the 100 days without fear project was one of those speakers. I have been fired up since I saw her on Saturday. I cannot get her and her message and her experience out of my head.

I have been consistently mulling over what I could do, what habit I could change, over the next 100 days. Broad things like be consistent and maintain a routine floated to the top pretty easily. But do those things really inspire? Do they actually push me outside of my boundaries and create a lasting, impactful change on mine and my family’s lives? I don’t think they do. Because those are the things we are supposed to do. Those are the comfortable things.

As I was pulling my conference swag out of my bags I came across a magnet given to me by another attendee and I placed it on my fridge. Right beneath “somedays it’s not even worth chewing through the restraints.” But actually, I can. Every day is worth it, every moment that matters to us is worth it and worth defending.

And it came to me the habit I need to change. See, I say yes a lot. I say it out of fear. Out of worry for my self-image and fear for my relationship security with others. I worry that if I say no, if I dare to set boundaries, will they love me anymore?

This is not going to be anywhere near comfortable. Thinking of fear means realizing that taking up my own space and setting my own boundaries is scary to me. So scary. And I will conquer that fear by saying no so that I can say yes. It is time to say yes what is meaningful in the life of myself and my own little family.

I began yesterday. Narcolepsy means driving sleepy is driving dangerous. I will no longer drive while sleepy. That is going to be inconvenient to those around me. I’m choosing to believe they will continue to love me.

Today I said no to taking my children to be in the parade. Because Mommy just got home and I needed to hold them and lay around and be a little less busy.

Things I intend to say no to over the next 98 days?

1. Unsolicited parenting advice.

2. Unsolicited marriage advice.

3. Anything that sets me on fire to keep other people warm.

4. Unsolicited advice regarding my health.

5. Comparison of my health and disabilities to yours.

I am sure I can think of more, and will. For now, I am ready to set my boundaries and I am ready to succeed, with my team, my family, our way.

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This one won’t be an easy read, it may cause tears and it definitely tackles some hard subjects that might be triggering for some. If that is you, if you are in a bad place right now and can’t read sad things, please skip this today. Come back another day when it’s easier to read, and less raw, and I wish you well. I hope this paragraph is long enough to prevent any distress, because here it goes…

It’s been too long since I’ve written, for so many reasons. Because although I am not depressed, I absolutely suffer from horrifying and oppressive depressive episodes, and they really, really suck. And the demons crawl out their boxes and say horrible things and provide vividly horrible images. And they get hard and heavy and did you know that extreme emotions make narcolepsy symptoms worse? So then as your mind is feeding you awful ideation images, your head feels like a bowling ball about to fall off your shoulders. So you lay down and hope that it will be better, and get up to find the bowling ball is still there.

It always surprises me, every Spring, the depression that comes along. Then Facebook reminds me why I am sad. You see, even though I have my little girl, I gave birth to a baby that was already lost on March 30th, 7 years ago. During the two week period between her birth/death day and her funeral, which very few people attended because it was too sad for them (and that is ok), Easter fell exactly between. And I cannot help but remember following behind my little boy as he hunted for eggs, holding an empty belly wishing there was someone still there. I cannot help but remember the earth shattering utter emptiness that did not leave for months. It didn’t leave until I had hope for a baby again, and then the fear set in.

Unfortunately traumas are brought up by so many things, including seasons, holidays, and so much more. Although it is my mission here on this blog to encourage positivity and self-worth and leave you on an encouraging note, sometimes I think it is equally important to tell you it is ok to hurt. And honestly, I don’t think that I could continue writing if I weren’t transparent about the fact that sometimes I just hurt, too. It’s been 7 years, hopefully next year I remember to let the wave take me so that it can go out to sea again, rather than sitting stuck, fighting it on the shore.