Expressing Faith By Expressing Anger

Last week, for some reason, I felt called to listen to a church service. When I do, I usually listen to United Church of Christ services, though occasionally I check out Protestant Church in the Netherlands services locally too. The service I ended up listening to was delivered at Mayflower Congregational UCC in the Oklahoma City area. It was titled “disorientation”.

The topic was how many Christians think they’re not healthy or whole enough to attend church. Many Christians are taught to believe that we shouldn’t show our distress or be angry with God. Though I grew up in an atheist home, I too was taught not to complain or be angry. “Gets angry easily” was often written about me in psychological reports. This may have been so, but anger in itself isn’t bad.

Rev. Lori Walke, in her sermon from May 10, talks about the psalms, nearly half of which are psalms of lament. In one of the psalms she discusses, psalm 13, David cries out to God in anguish:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” (Psalm 13:1-4 NIV)

Rev. Walke goes on to recite the rest of the psalm:
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6 NIV)

This expression of anguish shows, according to Walke, that David deep down still has faith. After all, if he didn’t believe his anger would do anything, what good would there be in expressing it? As such, those who hold their anger inside and keep silent, usually are more hopeless than those who cry out.

This is why Walke invites us all to take our troubles to church. We don’t need to put up a happy face all the time. Indeed, in our expression of anger, we also show an expresssion of faith.

This totally struck a chord with me. I was taught as a child not to express my anger. Like I said, it was said about me that I was angry too easily. When I landed in the mental hospital at age 21, I even for a while had the unofficial nurses’ “diagnosis” of “angry and dissatisfied”. While there definitely was some truth to this, stuffing my anger only fueled my hopelessness. It was in my expressing my despair that I also showed that deep down I still believed in a good outcome.

Joining in with Let’s Have Coffee.

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 24, 2020) #WDIIA

Okay, so I’m back with another #WDIIA post. As I write this, it’s March 24, 2020, 8:50PM. My paternal grandmother, my last living grandparent, the one who died in 2018, would’ve turned 96 today. It’s weird that I think about that now, as I didn’t call her for her birthday for the last several years of her life. She was profoundly hearing impaired and had severe memory loss. Then again, I could’ve sent cards, but didn’t. I do miss her though. Still, I am thankful that she doesn’t have to suffer through the COVID-19 thing.

I awoke at 8:36 this morning. Had a quick wash, brushed my teeth and got dressed. Had another bowl of yoghurt with crunchy muesli for breakfast. Thank goodness they still had full-fat yoghurt. I normally have fat-free yoghurt, but the unbranded ones are so extremely watery they’re really disgusting.

I went for two walks today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Didn’t go for a walk in the evening this time, but did go on the elliptical for twenty minutes. I went on it for twenty minutes yesterday too and only burned 66 calories according to my Fitbit. Today I burned 90. That’s not very good, as a brisk walk burns off more. Still, I’m feeling my legs and back now. Besides, burning calories isn’t the only benefit of exercise. I do really hope that, when I can get weighed in again, I’ll have lost weight. I usually get weighed in at the day center once a month, but not sure that will be happening now.

The week’s groceries arrived today. Tomorrow, we’re going to make toasted ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch. I’m looking forward to that.

Not much else happened today. How has your day been?

COVID-19 Again

I was rather late dedicating a specific post to COVID-19. As such, you might think that not much has changed. However, then you’d be wrong. I guess our government was late with the infection spread prevention measures too. Then again, we didn’t have cases of the virus here in the Netherlands until some two or three weeks ago I think. I may be mistaken, as I hardly ever watch the news.

As such, I did not hear the prime minister’s two press conferences, one last week Thursday and one on Sunday. I did not hear his address to the public on Monday either. I did not watch the Lower House debate yesterday, in which the public health minister apparently fainted. I wonder how they did the debate, given that gatherings are now prohibited.

I did hear some about the news from my family and staff though. My sister called on Sunday, wanting to catch up. She works in a restaurant, so she’s out of work now. Thankfully, her husband works in an office job, so he can work from home.

My mother called on Monday. My parents are both retired, so they don’t have to worry about unemployment. However, my mother is 64 and my father is 71, so I do worry about their health should they catch the virus.

My husband’s work is still going on for now. He works as a truck driver in what is apparently a vital part of transport.

Like I mentioned on Monday, the day center I go to closed yesterday. The day center staff are now coming out to our homes to provide us with activities. I took some of my stuff from the day center with me to the home on Tuesday. Some staff even transferred my elliptical to the home.

Thankfully here, going outside for walks is not yet prohibited. I hope it won’t ever be. I’ve been going for walks with staff twice to three times a day each day now. I don’t need to worry about not getting my physical exercise for now.

I haven’t been in a grocery store yet since the measures took effect, since my facility orders groceries online. However, my husband said yesterday that the grocery store was completely out of regular bread, but it still carried lots of raisin bread.

I do feel that we live in a rather interesting time. It feels very odd, but in a way it feels comforting knowing that we have the Internet now.

Mama’s Losin’ It

#WeekendCoffeeShare (March 15, 2020)

Hi and happy Sunday evening to you all! I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare, although I’m not inviting anyone over for a real coffee. Like I said yesterday, it was recommended that my husband do not visit me for the duration of the anti-coronavirus measures. Two of my fellow clients still got visitors today, so I was feeling a bit jealous. Then this evening after the prime minister held another press conference, the staff decided people can’t visit here unless they really need to at all. Day activities are still going on as far as I know, but that might change. So anyway, you’ll need to grab a virtual cup of coffee.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how amazed I am at the virtual community building this coronavirus pandemic does. I mean, never before have I felt so much in common with my blogger pals from all over the world. Of course, I have a handful of blogger friends with whom I have a lot in common anyway, but with the #WeekendCoffeeShare community and the wider blogosphere in general, I don’t. Now we all over the world share in a common experience, no matter how tragic.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week has been pretty awesome in the exercise department. Though I only went on the elliptical once and never reached my daily step goal, I did get 316 active minutes over the week. That’s more than five hours! I did go for regular walks almost each day. Here’s hoping that the coronavirus crisis won’t ever keep me stuck indoors. I’ve heard in Italy people aren’t allowed to go out on the streets at all, but they sit on their balconies anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I did some great reading over the past few days. I’m not reading as much as I would ideally want to, but I’m at least picking up books again (figuratively speaking, that is, as I don’t raise my Braille display while reading eBooks).

If we were having coffee, I would share that my husband has been making great progress on living room renovations. We at least used to have softboard on the ceiling, which isn’t fire-resistant. My husband told me he took it all off.

He is a truck driver, so despite the coronavirus management measures, he’s expected to go to work tomorrow. He said it’d be crazy.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that I spoke to my sister on the phone this evening. My sister works in a restaurant, which is closing for three weeks at least. Her husband can thankfully work from home.

I hadn’t spoken to my sister in a while. She has a six-months-old daughter. I was amazed to learn about my niece’s development. I last saw her in November and apparently she’s making great strides.

How are you all doing amidst the coronavirus craze?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (February 2, 2020)

It’s February, yay. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare again, even though I’m not 100% sure I feel like writing. I had a lot of green tea and only one cup of coffee today. It’s interesting that, at my husband’s and in-laws’, I mostly drink green tea, whereas in the care facility I almost always drink coffee. Anyway, let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was a hard one. I don’t even remember what I did on Monday. On Tuesday, I was in a near-constant panic at day activities. I eventually asked to go to the behavior specialist’s office to see if I could schedule an appointment with her to talk. However, the behavior specialist on my case wasn’t in the office. Another one was, but I couldn’t quite make it clear what I needed and so I went back downstairs.

That evening, I had another huge crying fit. I took a PRN lorazepam, but still didn’t sleep all night. In the morning, I kept crying. My assigned support worker informed me that the behavior specialist responsible for my care was on sick leave, but she called the one who’d been in the office on Tuesday.

She visited me at day activities at around 11AM and I talked for about an hour. I talked about all that I was overwhelmed by. Particularly, I felt that I need more support at day activities. This still needs some sorting out, but mostly I do now get an assigned staff member each day.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that from then on, I felt okay and haven’t had panic attacks or meltdowns. I do struggle with some level of overwhelm and anxiety, but it’s manageable.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that on Thursday, the family of a potential new client came for a visit. This stressed me out a little, because I thought another client coming to my home means less care for me. This isn’t the case, the staff said.

If we were having coffee, I’d say that I traveled by train to Arnhem yesterday. A transregional ParaTransit taxi drove me to Deventer station. There, a travel assistant was waiting to help me onto the train. She apparently needed to help someone in Arnhem next, so she actually traveled all the way to Arnhem with me rather than just helping me get on the train. My husband picked me up from the station at Arnhem again. It was a relatively comfortable way of getting eased into traveling by train again.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my husband and I had pizza at our in-laws’ yesterday. Then today my mother-in-law would be driving me back to the facility, so she picked me up at my husband’s at 4PM. We first went to my in-laws’ house again, where we walked the dog and ate fried potatoes, broccoli and chicken. I had a Magnum almond ice cream for dessert.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I finally brought some of my soaping supplies to the facility with me today. One of our home staff was leaving this week, so I had originally intended to make her a soap earlier. Thankfully, she will be working at another home with this facility, so when I do make the soap, I can bring it to her.

How has your week been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 4, 2020)

Even though I don’t join in nearly every week, I really missed the #WeekendCoffeeShare crowd over the holidays. I’m so glad the linky is back, so I’m joining in today. Grab a cup of your favorite hot or even cold beverage and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d say that I prefer water or green tea today, as I’m sick with a nasty cold or mild case of the flu. I can still drink coffee, but it doesn’t taste as good as does water or green tea.

My father-in-law was sick with the flu over the Christmas break. He ended up needing to go into hospital on the 27th for dehydration. Thankfully, he’s back home and slowly recovering. Then over New Year’s, my husband got sick. I seem to have caught it from either of them, but my mother-in-law says it’s a “men’s flu”, in that women don’t get it nearly as bad as men do. I’m hoping she’s right, although of course I hope my husband and father-in-law make a speedy recovery too.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that despite the flu going round my family, we had a good New Year’s. My husband and I went to his parents. One of my sisters-in-law joined us after dinner. I spent the evening mostly reading, while still sitting in the same room as everyone else, so that occasionally I could socialize.

If we were having coffee, I’d say that my 2020 is off to a pretty good start. I came back to the care facility early Wednesday afternoon, because my husband needed to drive me back. I relaxed some over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, although on Thursday and Friday I did have day activities.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’m feeling productive in regards to finding a solution for getting to my husband by public transportation. I had a bit of a crying fit last night because I thought we wouldn’t find a solution and I would struggle to see my husband regularly. My support coordinator E-mailed the behavior specialist though to help us think out a solution.

If we were having coffee, I’d want to share all about the books I’m looking forward to reading. I didn’t read at all today, but over the holiday break, have truly been enjoying reading. Of course, my virtual shelves are still stacked much fuller than my slow reading pace can follow, but so what? I’m a collector at heart, after all.

How have you been this past week and over the holidays?

A Phone Conversation with My Mother

Last Monday, my mother called me. She rarely if ever used to call me when I still lived with my husband, but now she’s been the first to attempt contact a few times already. I don’t know whether I need to feel bad about not contacting her first, as conversations usually get uncomfortable for both of us.

Like, on Monday, I had just been in an angry outburst when she called. I couldn’t avoid telling her, as I needed a few minutes to regroup. That caused the conversation to center on my (perceivped by either of us) problems and my mother’s attempt to solve them. She was offering me all kinds of advice. If I just stop panicking at frustrating situations or learn to cope with unexpected change, I’ll be able to live with my husband again. I never even said I want to leave the care facility. Of course though, I’m supposed to have this as my ultimate goal anyway. Who, after all, would choose to live in care if they didn’t absolutely need to?

I was terribly triggered by my mother’s unwanted advice. When processing this conversation with my husband yesterday though, I was reminded of her perspective.

You know, I was born prematurely. My mother already feels guilty about that to some extent, as if she was the one kicking me out of her womb. Well, obviously she wasn’t.

Then in our discussion, I disclosed to my husband that I was most likely exposed to valproic acid, an anticonvulsant, in utero. My mother isn’t certain of it, as she took different anticonvulsants for her epilepsy over the years. However, all valproates and most other anticonvulsants have some risk of affecting the fetus when taken by pregnant women. The realization that this might’ve contributed to my developmental disabilities, didn’t happen right away even though in the 1980s, valproates carried warning labels already. It probably came when I was last assessed for autism in 2017 and my mother was asked whether she took any substances or medications during pregnancy. At around the same time or shortly before, there was an article in the newspaper my parents read about large numbers of French women being given valproic acid during pregnancy as late as 2014. This lead to over 4000 children having serious birth defects and even more having developmental disorders. Up to 40% of children exposed to valproates in utero are autistic.

My husband expressed that this may be a factor in my mother’s trying to deny the significance of my autism. After all, if she did something to contribute to me being disabled, she’d have to deal with immense guilt if admitting its full significance. Then it is more understandable that she’s in some denial. It may also explain, I now realize, why she’s trying to “fix” me. I told her she doesn’t need to, but she remains my Mom.

For clarity’s sake, a pregnant woman getting a seizure may be harmful to both mother and child and my mother said this risk was fairly high in her case if she didn’t take meds. I don’t know, as my mother has been seizure-free for 30+ years and off meds for as long as I can remember. However, I mean this to undo the blame. The doctors did what they thought was best, at least that’s what I assume. My mother and I have some questions here too, as my mother also took part in a trial of aspirin to prevent premature birth, which obviously didn’t work. My mother at least did what she thought was best. She never intended to have me early or cause me fetal anticonvulsant syndrome. More importantly though, there’s no need to fix me. I’m content the way things are right now.

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Today, the staff at day activities have been setting up the Christmas tree and other decorations. I know some people in other countries do so much earlier, but St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 5 here and it’s pretty much not done to set up your Christmas tree before then.

I have a book of Christmassy journal prompts. They start on December 1, but I haven’t written on any of them yet. Today, I’m choosing to write on the Dec 2 prompt, which is about Christmas trees.

Growing up, my family had a Christmas tree almost every year. The one or two times we didn’t, it was because of our cat. We had a live tree and our parents pretty much detested faux trees. We had the tree decorated with silver and red Christmass balls and bells that were made of glass. Almost each year, I would accidentally break at least one ball or bell. We also had a ton of wooden figurines including santas, snowmen, angels, etc. I particularly loved to play with these figurines. We had yellow Christmas lights on the tree. I’m not even sure other colors were available back then. We didn’t have a star or other large decoration at the top of the tree.

When I moved out of my parents’ house, I didn’t particularly care for decor. After all, I was totally blind by this time. No Christmas tree for me.

In the psychiatric hospital, we did have a lot of Christmas decorations. Yes, even on the locked ward. Of course, they had to be safe, so they couldn’t be made of glass or in any other way used to cause harm. I was admitted in early November and, by the time the decorations got put up, was still pretty unstable. One day, in an anger outburst, I pulled all Christmas decorations off the wall.

I still don’t really care for Christmas decorations, though I don’t really dislike them either unless they’re in my way. It is very intriguing to know how much people can put in my way in the name of decorating. At my last psych unit, I was in crisis almost every December due to having bumped into one tree or another (we had several) a little too many times.

This year, I know my staff will make sure to place the Christmas tree somewhere I won’t bump into it. Both at day activities and at the home, I’m not the only autistic or blind person. My staff asked me whether I want to make a Christmas decoration with one of them next week. I said yes.

How Will I Be Remembered?

Last week, my husband’s grandma died. The burial was on Thursday. It was okay. It however did get me thinking about how I will be rememberd and how I wish I would be remembered when I pass.

If my father’s still alive when I die, he may want to speak at my funeral. Not sure though, as he hardly speaks to me now. Then again, I guess speaking about someone is different from speaking to them. He may recall our positive experiences playing and learning together in my childhood. I will definitely remember those if I am to speak at his funeral.

He would probably have the decency not to go into my disappointing him with my adult life choices. I mean, I know I majorly disappoint him by being in long-term care, but he doesn’t voice it even now that I’m still alive. He isn’t one to talk negatively about the deceased though, I’d think. I can’t remember whether he spoke at my paternal grandpa’s funeral though and he didn’t at my grandma’s.

My mother would most likely be too self-conscious and too emotional to speak. I mean, she cried when I got married even without having to speak during the ceremony and she didn’t hold it together when speaking at my sister’s wedding. As for funerals, she spoke at my maternal grandfather’s funeral but then came running towards me for comfort. I was eight-years-old.

My sister may want to speak, if for no other reason then to fill a void. She did at my wedding (which was lovely, mind you). She spoke at my grandma’s funeral and it was amazing. I loved her sense of humor.

Ever since hearing the song, I’ve said I wanted I’m a Survivor by Reba McEntire playing at my funeral. I do. Even though it wasn’t written about an actual preemie and most of the facts about this hypothetical woman’s life don’t apply to me, the sentiment does. At least, that’s what I hope. I guess people could take its meaning two ways: either I’m the survivor who’s now an inspiration or the former preemie who wasn’t given a chance but somehow lived anyway. There’s a difference. I’m not sure how to convey it though. What I mean is, the focus can be on the negative of my not been given a chance or on the positive of my having given meaning to my life.

My husband wouldn’t want to dig up the past, I guess. He didn’t like this with his grandma’s funeral either, but then again neither did the deceased. She was a very upbeat type of person who didn’t like talking about negative aspects of the past. I guess I wouldn’t be as offended by people speaking a lot about the past when remembering me. Then again, I’d love it if my husband remembered the positives of what will hopefully still be a long life together.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 15, 2019)

Hi everyone, how are you? Let’s catch up over a cup of coffee or once again green tea in my case. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was full of ups and some downs, though the downs weren’t as low as I’d expected. As regular readers of this blog know, I will be moving to the care facility in Raalte in eight days. My staff, my husband and I have been doing some preparation in regards to my leaving my current day activities and going to start up in Raalte.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I finally told my mother I’ll be going to the care facility. I sugarcoated it a little, saying I’d be staying at my care agency in Raalte during the week and going home to my husband on week-ends. As a result, at first she wasn’t sure I’d be actually sleeping at the care facility. After a little “but I thought you were doing so well” and all, she wished me good luck at the place.

I am not 100% sure how to feel about it. In a way, this seemingly supportive attitude contradicts my memories from years before and that is hard to adapt to. However, I’m trying to be gratefulfor her support. I haven’t talked to my father or sister about it yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my sister gave birth to a baby girl, Janneke Sietske, last Tuesday. She is named Janneke after my sister’s and my grandma who died last year and Sietske after one of my brother-in-law’s grandmothers. Janneke had some health issues early on and we haven’t been able to visit yet. We’re planning on visiting her next week though.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that today, my husband and I made some small banana soaps for the staff at day activities. I’ll give them to them on Friday, when I have my leave-taking party.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my last appoitnment with my nurse practitioner went okay. He has referred me to the mental health agency in Raalte. I haven’t seen the referral letter, but he said he’d written about my trauma but that, for now, here and now work is most appropriate for me. I did try to get it through that ultimately, I do want to process my trauma. I’m not sure that will happen, as most likely I can’t get trauma therapy without at least a C-PTSD diagnosis if not DID/OSDD. Precisely getting my trauma-related issues assessed is a huge trigger for me.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I finally finished The Fault in Our Stars, which I started reading already three weeks ago. I will hopefully be able to finish at least one more book before the end of the month.

What’s been up with you lately?