Sunday, August 14, 2016

Living with Anxiety

Most people feel anxiety at some point in their lives. For some of us though we  are overwhelmed by it. We simply cannot handle life in any other manner. Anxiety is part of our very being and we may have learned to move through life accepting it as the norm.
I found this article today about what it was like living with anxiety and it's fairly generic so I thought I would apply a more personal touch to it and perhaps create an even greater understanding of the daily struggles those of us with anxiety issues face.

1. How annoying it is when people tell you to "stop worrying about it."
While I know they mean well telling me to “just stop worrying” is like telling a baby to stop crying. It doesn’t work. My brain does not shut off. It keeps going and if I tell myself not to worry it’s almost as if I worry more. I can try and ease it somewhat but if there is something major going on, a school project, a medical test, my daughter’s birthday party, my thesis due date… I simply just keep “worrying”… I realize that most people do not function in this manner and that my worrying nature may confuse other people but this is how I function.

2. "Maybe" is the worst word in the English language.
I cannot handle “maybe.” I need concrete plans. I need to know where I’m going, what time, where we’ll meet, what I need to bring, what I need to where. I need a GPS or printed out maps. I need addresses and place names. Once my husband was helping to plan a trip to Florida and he knew a guy who was a travel agent and could get us this great deal on a resort. That was awesome news to me except that it wasn’t until about 20 days before we were to leave that I knew the name of the resort, the rates, the eating packages, the distance to Disney and if we had reservations or not. The entire rest of the trip had been reserved, tickets bought, maps plotted, days taken off work and I still wasn’t sure if we had a place to stay for the Orlando part of the trip or what kind of reviews it received. It turned out that the place wasn’t that great so my planning nature works well in some instances.

3. How loosely people use the word "panic attack."
No, a panic attack is not simply freaking out. It's like when you're crying and you cannot breathe and everything will not be OK and it never has been OK and you feel like you're going to die. And when you’re standing in line at a grocery store and the aisles start to close in on you and people are jostling their way past… that is a panic attack, your heart feeling like it’s simply stopped, that is panic, that is hell.

4. Waking up in the middle of the night and not falling back asleep because your brain is a spinning wheel of anxiety.
This happens at least once every few weeks to me. And then I’m dog ass tired the next day and guess what, the next day is pretty much ruined because I am so tired. BUT--- in the midst of that middle night anxiety nothing makes it stop. You cannot go back to sleep. You cannot take a sleeping pill or even an antihistamine because then you’ll over sleep and really mess the next day up. BUT--- still sleep doesn’t come. This is horrid. And I doubt this will ever end, it has been going on for most of my adult life. Imagine doing all you do in a single day and then imagine doing it on one or two hours sleep…

5. You get anxiety about the tiniest things.
They don’t have the turkey your husband eats. He’s going to freak out because he works all night and just wants a turkey sandwich when he gets home but his turkey is out of stock… he won’t like the other turkey brands even though they are very similar… WHAT the F am I going to do?

6. If you ever have to cancel plans, you're afraid everyone will hate you.
I have HUGE anxiety over this. HUGE! But I do sometimes need to just chill out at home. Sometimes I need to just finish what I’m doing during the day and then rest at home that night. Sometimes I’m okay and I want to go out and meet people but of course that’s when they don’t ask. When they do ask is when I’m suffering from major anxiety attacks and I just can’t manage to be friendly and talkative at a family event or a bar with friends. I’m sorry, I really am. Don’t stop asking me to hang out. I won’t always say Yes, but I also won’t always say No.

7. You have anxious ticks you don't even notice.
I grind my teeth incessantly. Morning, noon and night. I catch myself doing it while I’m driving; actually I’m doing it right now. Why? I don’t know why, I just find myself doing it. And picking the skin around my nails. I don’t even realize I’m doing it sometimes. Yes, I know it may be weird to see me doing it but remember that I’m not like you, just turn your head the other way if it bothers you.

8. When too many people are trying to communicate with you at once, your brain feels like it's about to explode.
I completely shut down at this point. I do actually explode and I probably say things I shouldn’t. I may even yell “Shut Up,” it’s like a million televisions are on at top volume and you are standing right up close to them. It’s that overpowering.

9. On the flip side, when no one's texting you back, it's definitely because they all hate you.
Yeah… I can’t even explain this anxiety. Especially when it’s one of my sisters, my brother or my husband. I just sit in anxious doom, wondering what I did…why aren’t they responding? Never mind that they may in the bathroom, or at a movie, or shopping or who knows what but I’m sure it’s because they hate me. Same with email... if I don't get a reply within a day or two.

10. Those terrible anxiety stomachaches. And the heart that palpitates…it just skips a beat, then another, then I’m hyperventilating… it’s exhausting. And it happens whenever I enter a roomful of strangers, when I have to go to the cafeteria during busy times at school, when I go ANYWHERE that is crowded. Anxiety is extremely catastrophic on the body and my body likes to remind me that it hates anxiety but that the anxiety is not going away.

11. You freak out if there's no order in your life.
I try to find things that will “calm” me…
Talking to Grace, hearing her laugh, reading, writing this blog, list making, grocery shopping, computer games like Mahjong or Solitaire, watching my favorite television shows. It’s hard to manage life with anxiety. Explaining to others is even worse. It causes anxiety to explain anxiety but I do try to explain so that maybe people will understand me better and be more sympathetic when I do something or act in a manner that is not like others.

Friday, August 5, 2016

"You Keep Using That Word"

Watch this:

Then read this: 

Depression is not something anyone is proud to have. No one goes around boasting "I am depressed." Yet most other health conditions are worn like a badge of courage. "You have cancer, that's horrible, how can I help you?" "You were just diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, that's awful, are you on a special diet, medications? Did they give you insulin yet?" "You had a heart attack? Are you going to be okay? What did it feel like? Could you have another one, should you rest?" 

Over and over, sympathy, consideration, helpful advice, stories of other survivors and often time’s actual assistance in daily life are all given when someone is diagnosed or suffering one of life's terrible diseases. I don't mean to sound condescending to those who have had cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, kidney disease or any other catastrophic health condition that weighs a person down. However, there is a definite helping hand or two or three or more when one of those scrounges come rearing it's ugly head. 

Depression though does not make that list, ever. Is it because many of those who are depressed suffer in silence for fear of ridicule or half-baked advice like "Just get over it" or "Be happy for what you have instead of looking at what you don't." Have you ever used the word depression thinking you understood it? Has a family member or friend ever come calling and discussed how depressed they were and while you nodded your head and tried to listen to them all you really wanted to do was tell them how to get ahead in life, how to keep pushing through, how to look at the good things in their life? Did you believe you'd truly helped them with listening and offering those kernels of wisdom?
I'm sorry to say this but you didn't do a damn thing for them except maybe make them feel even worse. True depression is disabling. It confuses the mind; it warps every moment and event. It eats away at the soul and the darkness is like a twenty-four hour fog. You may think you understand but unless you've walked this path you simply cannot. Unless you've struggled to get out of bed every day and take a shower or put on clothes, you cannot possibly know the pain of depression. Until you've lain on a couch all day, crying your eyes out or contemplating what purpose you serve, you cannot grasp the meaning of "depression." Depression is a blanket that envelops every part of your being and doesn't let go. It wraps you tighter and tighter until you can barely breathe. 

Depression exists for a multitude of reasons. Some believe it's chemical, a misfiring firing of neurons in the brain, others think it's some kind of missing letter in one's DNA, still other theories are it's brought on by severe tragedy or illness, chronic health conditions or and still some think it's just something made up because a person can't "cope" with the real world. You can find a billion articles on the scientific and clinical causes and reasoning behind depression, that isn't my point here. 
My thoughts here are to actually describe the mental and physical toll depression takes on one person's soul. Depression doesn't always lead to suicide either, a person can live in the haze of depression for decades and not contemplate or attempt suicide but rather just continue to exist in a half-life state. A depressed person cannot really enjoy life because so much of their insides are hollow or empty, they may laugh at jokes and find slight enjoyment in things, like eating...but sometimes that enjoyment leads to graver health consequences, thus leading to deeper depression. 

Even now, trying to describe living with depression, I am not doing the disease justice; I am not fully communicating the torture inside a depressed person's mind or the anguish of trying to escape it. Treating depression comes in many forms, medication, psychotherapy, self-analysis, yoga, exercise, drawing, writing, vitamins, essential oils, and so many other ways I cannot list them all. It's usually a lifelong battle and often a lonely one. Depressed people have trouble maintaining relationships because they cannot fully give of themselves no matter how much they want too. They find it difficult to engage in small talk or concentrate on conversations, events or get together's because inside they feel so damn awful. 

Unfortunately, sometimes, no amount of therapy or medication or combination of the two and/or other treatments just do not fully get rid of the depression. A depressed person may be able to function in life, go to work, have a family, pay bills, go to school, achieve a career or other accomplishments but it may take an amount of effort that you cannot fathom. You will never understand the struggle to get to that job every day or finish that paper for school or even go grocery shopping. You cannot fully grasp how hard getting into that shower was today or walking to the doctor's office from the parking garage. And to talk about it is wrong. 

Depression is wrong. Everyone tells us that. The lack of support, home cooked meals, help cleaning the house; the constant catcalls of "Just get over it" or "Find happiness in one thing you do today" prove just how much depression is wrong. The well-meaning "non-depressed" people who constantly say "Well aren't you taking medicine" or "Don't you have a therapist" will never, ever grapple with the everyday knowledge that no matter what they do, true happiness will forever elude them. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My Daughter's Birthday

Although her birthday is still one week away, it really hit me today... she will be eleven years old in one week. She is not yet a teenager but definitely not the little kid I'd grown so used too over the years.
I suppose part of my nostalgia tonight is due to this song "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman. You can find it here "Slow Down" 

The song really hits to the heart of watching your child grow up. I  understand this in some part due to being the oldest of five children and watching my youngest sister, Teresa Megan, grow up and seeing her distance herself from the family but she wasn't my child so I didn't completely understand the joy and pain of a child growing up and growing apart from you, and when I was blessed with my own darling, I no longer had to feel that anguish.

Now, though my child is becoming independent, she has her own ideas, her own thoughts, opinions, likes, dislikes, fears, hopes and dreams. She is still young enough to love and appreciate me as "the best mom in the world" but I know all too soon that will be gone and I will be left with these awesome, amazing, heart wrenching and truly beautiful memories.

I remember that night she was born, the absolute fear that she was going to die because she was born early and she was having trouble breathing and her blood sugars were so very low, too low, she wasn't eating and she kept throwing up what she did eat. It was an extremely frightening couple of weeks... and then they let us take her home.

Needless to say, we didn't have any clue what we were doing. Grace's father was the youngest in his family and hadn't been around babies much. It had been many years since I'd changed a diaper and I wasn't really all that up to par on making and feeding bottles to an infant! And of course, Grace presented us with challenges by having one of the worst cases of colic her pediatrician had ever seen. To boot, I was working afternoons at a job I'd had less than a year and we were living with my mother in law! Talk about stress on a brand new mommy. Grace's father was working nights while I was trying to recover from an emergency C-section and subsequent infection and this bundle of joy who did nothing but scream her lungs out every night and that with little lungs that weren't working quite right.

Oh what a mess... and it all went by so fast. Soon she was a year old, and then two years old, then she was three and not talking right and had to go to early childhood education classes and she's been in school ever since. Now here it is ELEVEN years later. Jeff and I have had so many challenges, financially, personally, health wise, employment wise and through it all we've raised this amazing little girl. This little being who is someone I love more than I ever imagined it was possible to love someone.

As a parent I have given everything for my child and I do not regret a minute of it. I don't regret the sacrifices or the millions hours spent at jobs I hate just so she had what she needed, I don't regret the bras that I have to duct tape the underwire back inside because I can't afford new ones or the shoes with the holes in the soles, the hair cuts I can't afford or the toe nails that I cut with scissors because they are too thick for nail clippers. I eat peanut butter sandwiches a lot but we have a roof over our heads and Grace has everything she needs to be happy, healthy, well rounded and to do well in school. Even now Jeff is duct taping the dryer vent back together as I speak but at least it is running.

I sit here typing, still wondering if I've actually failed as a mother or if I have indeed raised a person who will succeed in life and find all the things I never found? Will she be happier than me? Will her life have more purpose? Will she look back one day in anger at the things I didn't do?

Here's to you Grace Natalie Helberg, the best part of every day of my life and whatever mistakes I made I'm sorry but when you look back remember this "I love you more than anyone ever could, you are the greatest moment in my life, you have made me and your daddy so proud and gave us more love than we could have imagined and more than we ever deserved! Happy Birthday today and everyday, my best kid!"

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Understanding Reality

Words fail me sometimes, actually I'd say words fail me most times. Extremely funny for someone who dreams of becoming a writer, perhaps that is why I'm not actually a writer.

I feel most of what I want to say. If that sounds confusing, just listen to the voice in your head. I know you have one, we all do. It is the voice that guides us through our lives from the moment we are first able to communicate to others, the voice that is always with us, talking to us, asking questions of our inner selves, laughing at us or the world around us. It is the culmination of everything we are, all of our happiness, sadness, anger, fear, hopes, dreams, desires, humor, sarcasm, self loathing, doubt...

As I grow older, that voice grows stronger. It tells me more about what I am willing to tolerate in my life and what I am willing to just let go, poof in a puff of air, gone from my heart, my mind.
Tonight I am listening to music, something I do quite often but tonight it's music that centers around a particular point in my life that I feel was my pinnacle, my shining moment, that last chance to be what I should have been.

If that sounds melancholy or regretful, it's not meant too but there comes a point in life where we must accept that we are not going to be everything we'd hoped for. When I was young, my father used to talk about this. I did not understand what he was telling me until recently. I never quite understood why he went to work everyday to a job he didn't like, why he gave up his dreams of acting and photography and traveling, why he didn't just quit his job and TRY to live his dreams. He tried explaining it to me but hell I was only 8, 9, 10... my life was still a blank slate. Except even then I understood that we only so many chances to become what we truly dream we'll be.

Maybe most of us are content with exactly what we are or what we become by the time we're in our forties and fifties. Maybe others are still grasping at straws to be THAT PERSON. Maybe some of us are actually exactly, everything we wanted when we were first embarking on becoming adults.

I had a lot of chances to succeed. I am still trying to be successful and do at least one thing I dreamed of doing. Finishing my Master's degree is a dream I've had for so long and it's possibly, realistically the only one I'll actually be able to finish. However, I am not always sure my own self-destructive streak won't rear it's ugly head and crumble all my dreams in a cloud of dust.

I believe parts of us don't ever go away, that there are little kernels of our souls that we cannot totally squash, no matter how much we evolve and look inside ourselves. One of my favorite authors David Foster Wallace was a genius at explaining what I am trying to say tonight and he was so tormented that he killed himself when he was just 46 years old. His writing was incredible, very human, sad, haunting, realistic, often humorous and so filled with commentary on the 20th century and modern day that I hope I can do him justice in my Master's thesis. I understand his angst, his panic at not being good enough and his desire to be more than he is supposed to be.

Tonight's reflection comes at a moment when I am at a crossroads that is causing my own soul angst and trying to come to grips with all of the things I'll never do again, the woman I won't ever be able to be, it's just a fact of life, that we must accept, age and disease destroys the body. I am lucky to be here still but sometimes I wish I was still starting over at 30 years old, jamming out to my favorite Guns-N-Roses, John Mayer, Velvet Revolver and Pink Floyd tunes while busting my ass on the elliptical trainer and weight machines at Lifetime Fitness. I don't regret my life but yeah some nights I just wish I could explain what it was like to live in a body that doesn't work anymore... while my mind remembers it all.

I understand my father much better today than I did thirty five years ago. I admire his tenacity and the dreams he gave up to raise five children while going to work everyday. I feel his loss and I understand his love. And I'm thankful for it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


It took me 22 years to finish my undergraduate degree. In those years I suffered not one but two abusive husbands, whom I divorced, I spent over a decade with no insurance while also having diabetes, I worked so many jobs I can't even remember them all just trying to find something that fit me and my health challenges, I had a child as a single parent, I remarried, I watched my health steadily decline, I survived 3 heart attacks and recently left a 12 year career with a company I'd built my professional life around and in the last few weeks have seen my health decline in really horrific ways... I am still planning to continue working on my Master's Degree because YES, completing this degree means just that much too me. I have very little cash but the story of Ramone Williams hit me so very hard. A senior at Eastern Michigan University, he had been homeless since September. He worked 2 jobs, while maintaining a 3.4 GPA and lived in a van the entire fall, sleeping in the school's library as the weather turned colder. He did not blame anyone, he did not make excuses, his financial aid only covered a portion of his tuition and he was no longer eligible for certain free federal aid monies (Federal Aid only covers a student for so many semesters, that includes both community [2 year Associate Degree programs] and upper level university [Bachelor Degree programs] before a student has to either take out loans or pay out of pocket). He kept going to school. He is determined finish, no matter that he showers at the schools rec center and pays .25 cents for hot water so he can have tea in the morning. He scrimps in ways I cannot even imagine all for his degree because he knows it will get him farther than anywhere he is now. The following story was printed in The Bridge- a private news source for Michigan state residents, it's mission is simple but powerful "To better inform Michigan’s private citizens so as to encourage a vibrant state in both the private and public sectors" I am in awe of this online magazine for what they do and what they did for Ramone. In publishing his story, they raised awareness of not only his plight but the plight of other college students. Yes, there are tens of thousands of HOMELESS college students and their options are limited. Federal aid does not think much of homeless students and colleges especially the small to medium sized colleges have trouble helping those homeless students. School resources for these students are so limited. Read this article it talks about Ramone, his courage, his tenacity, his strength to keep moving forward. Yes, a fund was set up for him after publication of this article. He is no longer homeless and asked that donations STOP being sent to HIM and be sent to MAGIC. The MAGIC program at EMU does not have enough funds to really help homeless students although it tries and they unfortunately are bound by certain restrictions in helping, however, they are in desperate need of funding and if you are going to donate to anything this year, DONATE TO THEM. Read Ramone's story, it brought me to tears. And then look at the comments section and the link for Eastern Michigan's University's MAGIC program and think about giving directly to them. If you don't want to help this school then look into your communities colleges, do they have a program to help homeless students? Could you give time or money there? I cannot imagine what this country could do if they actually listened to what is going on around them. The GO FUND ME account set up for Ramone raised $25,000 in less than a month and he requested that further money be sent to MAGIC and now the MAGIC program has over $40,000 in donations. Money that will be used to help EMU's homeless students finish their education while also sleeping in a warm bed at night. AGAIN, if you just don't feel right helping a school with no connection to yourself, see what your Alma mater needs, research their programs, what funding they actually receive, where they are lacking or what smaller campuses of your main university may need. EMU is especially interesting because it's small and doesn't receive larger funds like Michigan State University or University of Michigan does and even those larger funded schools still have trouble helping those truly in need. Although it took me 22 years I am look at my college experience as the one dream I had, the one goal that I could accomplish and without that dream I'm not sure what I would have become... now I'm a graduate student and although some days I can barely get out of bed I keep fighting through it. I wish I could tell Ramone Williams just how amazing he is but from what I've read, there are people from all over the country telling him that.... take a moment... read about someone giving up everything and going for his dream. Think about your dreams and your life...where have you been? What have you done? Did you have help from others? Was is the hardest damn thing you ever did? Were you afraid to ask for help? Did you need too? Was it easy? Can you spare a few dollars for those that just aren't where you are? Can you give ten bucks to give these students a meal, help pay for their books, maybe get them clothing or a blanket? 
How else could you help them? Or is there another group you could offer assistance too? Is there an are of your life where you could spare some of your money, time, wisdom so others can go to bed like you will be tonight? 
I am currently unemployed, I am not receiving any type of financial help from the government, I am living on a very crafted plan right now that gives us shelter, medicine and food and will continue to do so for awhile. Long terms my choices are limited but I'll cross that bridge AFTER I finish my dream. In the meantime, I'm going clip a few more coupons this week, shoe at several stores and get the sales, drive a little less and dip into my carefully crafted plan and donate $25 to Eastern Michigan University's MAGIC program because I believe they could really use the help, especially with the next semester starting soon! 
Here are a few links to give you more information about this post: 

Original Bridge Article on Ramone Williams
Bridge Update on Ramone Williams
MAGIC Program at EMU for the Homeless

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Women in My Family

A few days ago I wrote to my readers about my sister Gina. I mentioned how the family came together when Gina had two strokes twelve years ago. My post was solely about watching Gina as she found ways to deal with what happened to her and how as a family we struggled to understand her experience, which in many ways, I'm not sure we ever truly will.

Today, I want to talk about the women in my family. My mother, Shirley, my three sisters, Gina who you already know, Elizabeth who we all call Lizzy and Teresa or Tree or Terese or Trendy or Little T, depending on the day and who's talking with her. Teresa is the youngest, we have a ton of different ways of calling, rarely do we actually call her Teresa though. And of course my daughter Grace.

These women make up the core of my best friends. I have other female friends but my mother, sisters and Grace are the females I share the most time with. They are the ones I trust without question and whom I love to the depths of my soul. They have made me who I am and in turn I know they count on me to be there for them. We argue. Oh, how we disagree sometimes. Our political views, our ideas on relationships, our opinions on medical marijuana, sports teams, shopping, food, diet, exercise, health issues, even fast food, every single one of us has our education, experience and knowledge to bring to the table. This includes my ten  year old daughter who is as lively and outspoken as the rest of us.

The women in my family are the ONLY people in this world that I feel completely myself with. I do not have to hide behind any mirrors. I can say whatever I want, I can offer whatever advice I think they may learn from, I can be 100% totally myself. I do not worry about sounding stupid or like an idiot because if I do sound like a moron, they will not care, they may give me look like "Really, Nat, come on, who the hell do you think you're talking too?" And I'll laugh and rephrase my inane commentary. Most of all these woman are strong, they love me, they are supportive and I would do anything for them at any moment in time.

Last night, we all gathered together for my sister Lizzy's final fitting for her wedding dress. She is getting married to a man she has been with for almost a decade, a man she met at my wedding. From day one Lizzy and her fiance were smitten. She looked so happy trying that dress on, her face glowed, and of course, she was gorgeous. We then spent the rest of the evening trying on dresses, all of us, even Grace. My mother was the only one that found something that looked as though it was designed on her! But the fun us sisters had trying on those gowns made me realize just how incredible these women are.

We embody the spirits of our ancestors. I have no doubt that my Great Grandmother Teresa is inside us. A woman who raised my grandfather and his five siblings on her own. I know my Grandma Theresa (my dad's mother) beats inside us. We are definitely who we are because of the woman that raised us. My mother is intelligent, there was not a day in our house where the radio was not turned to the news, a sports game, sometimes soap operas, radio talk shows and in the evenings we watched 1980's sit coms.  We were well rounded and my mother spent time talking to us about Ronald Regan, The Vietnam War, The Civil Rights Movement, her experiences growing up in Chicago, we listened to Beatles albums, Carole King, Earth Wind and Fire and we watched The Blues Brothers while my mother talked about Dixie Square the mall they crash through in the movie and how she used to work there!

I believe my youngest sister Teresa grew up knowing my mother in a different way. My parents were divorced when Teresa was very little, so she knew my mother as a single parent, a working woman helping to support her family. The older siblings were very involved in babysitting Teresa and she spent a lot of time hanging out with her big sisters. While Teresa had a much different upbringing she is still one of the strong, lively, independent women that we all are.

As women we may be married or getting married, we may have long term relationships but the one thing we are all individuals. We can take care of ourselves and are not afraid to go out in the world and make our own ways. We are strong, confident, and what truly binds us together is that we have each other. No matter where we go in this world, we can always count on one another to be there.  My family is my heart. They are my soul. I am blessed beyond the earth to have them. I do not know if they realize the treasure I feel I have in them. I do not know if these words alone can express the feeling inside me as we tried on dresses last night. Of course the wedding is two weeks away and Lizzy and my Mom are the only ones who know what they are wearing. My daughter will be part of them as well. Although she is an only child, she will know what it means to have family. I will never sacrifice the relationship I have with my family, no matter how much we drive each other nuts. I will never give up the bond we share, no matter how far away we may someday end up. The differences make us unique, the similarities make us family, and the LOVE makes us whole.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Change is never easy. It requires a whole new thought process. For instance when you move into a new home, suddenly you have to take a different route to work, or maybe change schools, you often receive a new zip code, maybe a new phone number and in extreme cases you go to a whole new state.

Our recent move was just one town over, and it's only about 7 minutes from our old place. Grace does not have to change schools but we'll have a new library, we have a new zip code, a new park district to sign up for classes at... the real change though, of course, comes in the form of the heart. The place we used to call home is no longer our home. The place I went to every night and where I hang my clothes to dry is different. I have to find new ways to maneuver in the new shower which is half the size of the old, one as is the laundry room. We moved into a place that is smaller and unfortunately I had to let go of a lot of my life.

I understand that these are are only "things" as my husband keeps saying. They are bits and pieces that I probably do not need but at one point I did need them, I purchased them or they were letters or cards that I had saved. Some "things" I will not part with, photographs for instance. I save almost every photo I've ever taken or received. However, other memorabilia such as greeting cards or Grace's school work I just had to let go of. I cannot keep hundreds of sheets of paper which she wrote or drew on... I do not have the space. I've also had to let go of some of my Christmas items. This has saddened me deeply... I love Christmas and everything to do with Christmas. Once September hits I am planning my Christmas season. But, I no longer have a basement or garage to store these keepsakes in... OF course I will keep the items that truly touch my heart, that I cherish dearly but I no longer have excess space in which to keep it all!

We are now a family living in an average size condo, with 2 bedrooms, 2 closets, a small front closet and a small storage area on our balcony. I've utilized the space under the bed as best as possible but truthfully every single one of us has had to part with parts of our life that were special to us. Yes, the move was necessary, the struggle we were going through where we lived before was causing serious issues to my already fragile health and starting to affect my only daughter's emotional state, it was time to do something else.

The loss of the only home my daughter knew and the fact that she too had to part with items in her life that she loved made my heart sad. Of course, the joy at seeing my husband resting in our living room while he watched TV and Grace sat with him laughing and care free was immense. Making a good meal for us in our kitchen and sitting down at a real table was truly joyful. The change was beyond good for our family as hard as it has been to adjust to this new place.

I am scared at times... scared that this too will come crashing down around me, frightened that perhaps the change was too big... but we managed to do it. I did not think I was physically capable of getting a new home ready and to be fair, Jeff did a huge amount of the work and my family helped move our belongings but we stuck together. Yes, we had our stressful moments getting our new place ready, we had some arguments, we passed out in extreme pain and exhaustion at one point... but we met the challenge. We got out of the place that was causing us pain, suffering and health issues and have settled into a space that is right for us. It is okay to be a little scared but it is even better to look around your life and see that you are stronger than you think and the ties that bind you to your husband and child are truly unbreakable.